Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Voyage of The Paper Canoe by N. H. Bishop

Part 5 out of 6

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.6 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

"Tom Collins has at last arrived in his
wonderful paper boat. He has it hitched to Mr.
Risley's new saw-mill, where every one can
have a view. He intends shooting off his
six-pounder before weighing anchor in the morning.
Hurrah for Collins."

I left Mr. Risley's comfortable home before
noon the next day, and followed the shores of
Winyah Bay towards the sea. Near Battery
White, on the right shore, in the pine forests,
was the birth-place of Marion, the brave patriot
of the American revolution, whose bugle's call
summoned the youth of those days to arms.

When near the inlet, the rice-plantation
marshes skirted the shore for some distance.
Out of these wet lands flowed a little stream,
called Mosquito Creek, which once connected
the North Santee River with Winyah Bay, and
served as a boundary to South Island. The
creek was very crooked, and the ebb-tide strong.
When more than halfway to Santee River I was
forced to leave the stream, as it had become
closed by tidal deposits and rank vegetation.

The ditches of rice plantations emptied their
drainage of the lowlands into Mosquito Creek.
Following a wide ditch to the right, through fields
of rich alluvial soil, which had been wrested by
severe toil from nature, the boat soon reached
the rice-mill of Commodore Richard Lowndes.
A little further on, and situated in a noble grove
of live-oaks, which were draped in the weird
festoons of Spanish moss, on the upland arose
the stately home of the planter, who still kept his
plantation in cultivation, though on a scale of less
magnitude than formerly. It was, indeed, a
pleasant evening that I passed in the company of the
refined members of the old commodore's
household, and with a pang of regret the next day I
paddled along the main canal of the lowlands,
casting backward glances at the old house, with
its grand old trees. The canal ended at North
Santee Bay.

While I was preparing to ascend the river a
tempest arose, which kept me a weary prisoner
among the reeds of the rice marsh. The hollow
reeds made poor fuel for cooking, and when the
dark, stormy night shut down upon me, the damp
soil grew damper as the tide arose, until it
threatened to overflow the land. For hours I lay in my
narrow canoe waiting for the tidal flood to do its
worst, but it receded, and left me without any
means of building a fire, as the reeds were wet
by the storm. The next afternoon, being tired
of this sort of prison-life, and cramped for lack
of exercise, I launched the canoe into the rough
water, and crossing to Crow Island found a lee
under its shores, which permitted me to ascend
the river to the mouth of Atchison Creek, through
which I passed, two miles, to the South Santee

All these rivers are bordered by rice
plantations, many of them having been abandoned to
the care of the freedmen. I saw no white men
upon them. Buildings and dikes are falling into
ruins, and the river freshets frequently inundate the
land. Many of the owners of these once valuable
estates are too much reduced in wealth to attempt
their proper cultivation. It is in any case
difficult to get the freedmen to work through an
entire season, even when well paid for their
services, and they flock to the towns whenever
opportunity permits.

The North and South Santee rivers empty into
the Atlantic, but their entrances are so shallow
that Georgetown Entrance is the inlet through
which most of the produce of the country -
pitch, tar, turpentine, rice, and lumber -- finds
exit to the sea. As I left the canal, which, with
the creek, makes a complete thoroughfare for
lighters and small coasters from one Santee River
to the other, a renewal of the tempest made me
seek shelter in an old cabin in a negro settlement,
each house of which was built upon piles driven
into the marshes. The old negro overseer of the
plantation hinted to me that his "hands were
berry spicious of ebbry stranger," and advised me
to row to some other locality. I told him I was
from the north, and would not hurt even one of
the fleas which in multitudes infested his negroes'
quarters; but the old fellow shook his head, and
would not be responsible for me if I staid there
all night. A tall darkey, who had listened to the
conversation, broke in with, "Now, uncle, ye
knows dat if dis gemmum is from de norf he is
one of wees, and ye must du fur him jis dis
time." But "Uncle Overseer" kept repeating,
"Some niggers here is mity spicious. Du not
no who white man is anyhow." "Well, uncle,"
replied the tall black, "ef dis man is a
Yankeemans, Ise will see him froo."

Then he questioned me, while the fleas,
having telegraphed to each other that a stranger had
arrived, made sad havoc of me and my patience.

"My name's Jacob Gilleu; what's yourn?" I
gave it. "Whar's your home?" came next. "I
am a citizen of the United States," I replied.
"De 'Nited States -- whar's dat? neber hurd
him afore," said Jacob Gilleu. Having
informed him it was the land which General Grant
governed, he exclaimed: "O, you's a Grant man;
all rite den; you is one of wees -- all de same as
wees. Den look a-here, boss. I send you to one
good place on Alligator Creek, whar Seba
Gillings libs. He black man, but he treat you jes
like white man."

Jacob helped me launch my boat through the
soft mud, which nearly stalled us; and following
his directions I paddled across the South Santee
and coasted down to Alligator Creek, where
extensive marshes, covered by tall reeds, hid the
landscape from my view. About half a mile
from the mouth of the creek, which watercourse
was on my direct route to Bull's Bay, a large
tide-gate was found at the mouth of a canal.
This being wide open, I pushed up the canal to
a low point of land which rose like an island out
of the rushes. Here was a negro hamlet of a
dozen houses, or shanties, and the ruins of a
rice-mill. The majority of the negroes were
absent working within the diked enclosures of
this large estate, which before the war had
produced forty thousand bushels of rice annually.
Now the place was leased by a former slave,
and but little work was accomplished under the
present management.

Seba Gillings, a powerfully built negro, came
to the dike upon which I had landed the canoe.
I quickly told him my story, and how I had been
forced to leave the last negro quarters. I used
Jacob Gilleu's name as authority for seeking
shelter with him from the damps of the
half-submerged lands. The dignified black man bade
me "fear nuffing, stay here all de night, long's
you please; treat you like white man. I'se
mity poor, but gib you de berry best I hab."
He locked my boat in a rickety old storehouse,
and gave me to understand "dat niggers will
steal de berry breff from a man's mouff."

He took me to his home, and soon showed me
how he managed "de niggers." His wife sat
silently by the fire. He ordered her to "pound
de rice;" and she threw a quantity of unhulled
rice into a wooden mortar three feet high planted
in the ground in front of the shanty. Then, with
an enormous pestle, the black woman pounded
the grains until the hulls were removed, when,
seating herself upon the floor of the dark, smoky
cabin, she winnowed the rice with her breath,
while her long, slim fingers caught and removed
all the specks of dirt from the mass. It was
cooked as the Chinese cook it -- not to a
glutinous mass, as we of the north prepare it- but
each grain was dry and entire. Then eggs and
bacon were prepared; not by the woman, but by
the son, a lad of fourteen years.

All these movements were superintended by
old Seba, who sat looking as dark and as solemn
and as learned as an associate judge on the
bench of a New Jersey county court. On the
blackest of tables, minus a cloth, the well-cooked
food was placed for the stranger. As soon as
my meal was finished, every member of the
family made a dash for the fragments, and the board
was cleared in a wonderfully short space of time.

Then we gathered round the great,
black-mouthed fireplace, and while the bright coals of
live-oak spread a streak of light through the
darkness, black men and black women stole into
the room until everything from floor to ceiling,
from door to chimney-place, seemed to be
growing blacker and blacker, and I felt as black as
my surroundings. The scant clothing of the
men only half covered their shiny, ebony skins.
The whole company preserved a dignified
silence, which was occasionally broken by deep
sighs coming from the women in reply to a
half-whispered "All de way from de norf in a paper
canno -- bless de Lord! bless de Lord!"

This dull monotony was broken by the
entrance of a young negro who, having made a
passage in a sloop to Charleston through Bull's
Bay, was looked upon as a great traveller, and
to him were referred disputes upon nautical
matters. He had not yet seen the boat, but he
proceeded to tell the negroes present all about it.
He first bowed to me with a "How'dy, how'dy,
cap'n," and then struck an attitude in the middle
of the floor. Upon this natural orator Seba
Gillings' dignity had no effect -- was he not a
travelled man?

His exordium was: "How fur you cum, sar?"
I replied, about fourteen hundred miles. "
Fourteen hundred miles!" he roared; "duz you
knows how much dat is, honnies? it's jes one
thousand four hundred miles." All the women
groaned out, "Bless de Lord! bless de Lord!"
and clapped their shrivelled hands in ecstasy.

The little black tried to run his fingers through
his short, woolly hair as he continued: "What is
dis yere world a-coming to? Now, yous ere
folks, did ye's eber hear de likes o' dis -- a
paper boat?" To which the crones replied,
clapping their hands, "Bless de Lord! bless de
Lord! Only the Yankee-mens up norf can
make de paper boats. Bless de Lord!"

"And what," continued the orator, "and what
will the Yankee-mens do next? Dey duz ebery
ting. Can dey bring a man back agen? Can
dey bring a man back to bref?" "No! no!"
howled the women; "only de Lord can bring a
man back agen -- no Yankee-mens can do dat.
Bless de Lord! bless de Lord!" "And what sent
dis Yankee-man one tousand four hundred miles
in his paper boat?" "De Lord! de Lord!
bless de Lord!" shouted the now highly excited
women, violently striking the palms of their
hands together.

"And why," went on this categorical negro,
"did de Lord send him down souf in de paper
boat?" "Kase he couldn't hab cum in de paper
boat ef de Lord hadn't a-sent him. O, bless de
Lord! bless de Lord!" "And what duz he call
his paper boat?" "Maria Theresa," I replied.
"Maria Truss Her," cried the orator. "He calls
her Maria Truss Her. Berry good, berry good
name; kase he truss his life in her ebry day, and
dat's why he calls his little boat Truss Her.
Yes, de Yankee-mans makes de gunboats and
de paper boats. Has de gemmin from de norf
any bacca for dis yere chile?"

As the women had become very piously
inclined, and were in just the state of nervous
excitement to commence "de shoutings," old
Uncle Seba rudely informed them that "de
Yankee-mans wants sleep," and cleared the room of
the crowd, to my great relief, for the state of the
atmosphere was beyond description. Seba had
a closet where he kept onions, muskrat skins,
and other pieces of personal property. He now
set his wife to sweeping it out, and I spread my
clean blankets with a sigh upon the black floor,
knowing I should carry away in the morning more
than I had brought into Seba's dwelling.

I will not now expatiate upon the small
annoyances of travel; but to the canoeist who may
follow the southern watercourses traversed by
the paper canoe, I would quietly say, "Keep
away from cabins of all kinds, and you will by
so doing travel with a light heart and even

When I cast up my account with old Seba
the next morning, he said that by trading the
rice he raised he could obtain "bout ebbry ting
he wanted, 'cept rum." Rum was his medicine.
So long as he kept a little stowed away, he
admitted he was often sick. Having been
destitute of cash, and consequently of rum for some
time, he acknowledged his state of health
remarkable; and he was a model of strength and
manly development. All the other negroes were
dwarfish-looking specimens, while their hair was
so very short that it gave them the appearance
of being bald.

When the canoe was taken out of the
storehouse to be put into the canal, these half-naked,
ebony-skinned creatures swarmed about it like
bees. Not a trace of white blood could be
detected in them. Each tried to put a finger upon
the boat. They seemed to regard it as a Fetich;
and, I believe, had it been placed upon an end
they would have bowed down and paid their
African devotions to it. Only the oldest ones
could speak English well enough to be
understood. The youths chattered in African tongue,
and wore talismans about their necks. They
were, to say the least, verging on barbarism.
The experience gathered among the blacks of
other lands impressed me with the well-founded
belief, that in more than one place in the south
would the African Fetich be set up and
worshipped before long, unless the church bestirs
herself to look well to her home missions.

In all my travels, outside of the cities, in the
south it has not been my good fortune to find an
educated white man preaching to negroes, yet
everywhere the poor blacks gather in the
log-cabin, or rudely constructed church, to listen to
ignorant preachers of their own color. The
blind leading the blind.

A few men of negro extraction, with white
blood in their veins, not any more negro than
white man, consequently not negroes in the true
sense of the word, are sent from the negro
colleges of the south to lecture northern
congregations upon the needs of their race; and these
one-quarter, or perhaps three-quarters, white
men are, with their intelligence, and sometimes
brilliant oratory, held up as true types of the
negro race by northerners; while there is, in
fact, as much difference between the
pureblooded negro of the rice-field and this false
representative of "his needs," as can well be

An Irishman, just from the old country,
listened one evening to the fascinating eloquence
of a mulatto freedman. The good Irishman had
never seen a pure-blooded black man. The
orator said, "I am only half a black man. My
mother was a slave, my father a white planter."
"Be jabbers," shouted the excited Irishman,
who was charmed with the lecturer, "if you are
only half a nigger, what must a whole one be

The blacks were kind and civil, as they usually
are when fairly treated. They stood upon the
dike and shouted unintelligible farewells as I
descended the canal to Alligator Creek. This
thoroughfare soon carried me on its salt-water
current to the sea; for I missed a narrow
entrance to the marshes, called the Eye of the
Needle (a steamboat thoroughfare), and found
myself upon the calm sea, which pulsated in
long swells. To the south was the low island
of Cape Roman, which, like a protecting arm,
guarded the quiet bay behind it. The marshes
extended from the main almost to the cape,
while upon the edge of the rushy meadows, upon
an island just inside of the cape, rose the tower
of Roman Light.

This was the first time my tiny shell had
floated upon the ocean. I coasted the sandy
beach of the muddy lowlands, towards the
lighthouse, until I found a creek debouching from
the marsh, which I entered, and from one
watercourse to another, without a chart, found my
way at dusk into Bull's Bay. The see was
rolling in and breaking upon the ashore, which I was
forced to hug closely, as the old disturbers of my
peace, the porpoises were visible; fishing in
numbers. To escape the dangerous raccoon
oyster reefs of the shoal water the canoe was
forced into a deeper channel, when the lively
porpoises chased the boat and drove me back
again on to the sharp-lipped shells. It was fast
growing dark, and no place of refuge nearer
than the upland, a long distance across the soft
marsh, which was even now wet with them.

The rough water of the sound, the oyster reefs
which threatened to pierce my boat, and a coast
which would be submerged by the next
floodtide, all seemed to conspire against me.
Suddenly my anxiety was relieved, and gratitude
filled my heart, as the tall masts of a schooner
rose out of the marshes not far from the upland,
telling me that a friendly creek was near at hand.
Its wide mouth soon opened invitingly before
me, and I rowed towards the beautiful craft
anchored in its current, the trim rig of which
plainly said -- the property of the United States.
An officer stood on the quarterdeck watching
my approach through his glass; and, as I was
passing the vessel, a sailor remarked to his
mates, "That is the paper canoe. I was in
Norfolk, last December, when it reached the
Elizabeth River."

The officer kindly hailed me, and offered me
the hospitality of the Coast-Survey schooner
"Caswell." In the cosiest of cabins, Mr. W. H.
Dennis, with his co-laborers Messrs. Ogden and
Bond, with their interesting conversation soon
made me forget the discomforts of the last three
days spent in the muddy flats among the lowland
negroes. From poor, kind Seba Gillings' black
cabin-floor, to the neat state-room, with its snowy
sheets and clean towels, where fresh, pure water
could be used without stint, was indeed a
transition. The party expected to complete their
work as far as Charleston harbor before the
season closed.

The Sunday spent on the "Caswell" greatly
refreshed me. On Saturday evening Mr. Dennis
traced upon a sheet of paper my route through
the interior coast watercourses to Charleston
harbor; and I left the pretty schooner on
Monday, fully posted for my voyage. The tide
commenced flooding at eleven A. M., and the flats
soon afforded me water for their passage in the
vicinity of the shore. Heavy forests covered
the uplands, where a few houses were visible.
Bull's Island, with pines and a few cabbage palms,
was on my left as I reached the entrance of the
southern thoroughfare at the end of the bay.
Here, in the intricacies of creeks and passages
through the islands, and made careless by the
possession of Mr. Dennis' chart, I several times
blundered into the wrong course; and got no
further that afternoon than Price's Inlet, though
I rowed more than twenty miles. Some eight
miles of the distance rowed was lost by
ascending and descending creeks by mistake.

After a weary day's work shelter was found
in a house close by the sea, on the shores of
Price's Inlet; where, in company with a young
fisherman, who was in the employ of Mr.
Magwood, of Charleston, I slept upon the floor in my
blankets. Charles Hucks, the fisherman, asserted
that three albino deer were killed on Caper's
Island the previous winter. Two were shot by
a negro while he killed the third. Messrs.
Magwood, Terry, and Noland, of Charleston, one
summer penned beside the water one thousand
old terrapin, to hold them over for the winter
season. These "diamond-backs" would
consume five bushels of shrimps in one hour when
fed. A tide of unusual height washed out the
terrapins from their "crawl," and with them
disappeared all anticipated results of the experiment.

The next day, Caper's Island and Inlet,
Dewees' Inlet, Long Island, and Breach Inlet were
successively passed, on strong tidal currents.
Sullivan's Island is separated from Long Island
by Breach Inlet. While following the creeks in
the marshes back of Sullivan's Island, the
compact mass of buildings of Moultrieville, at its
western end, at the entrance of Charleston
harbor, rose imposingly to view.

The gloomy mantle of darkness was settling
over the harbor as the paper canoe stole quietly
into its historic waters. Before me lay the quiet
bay, with old Fort Sumter rising from the watery
plain like a spectral giant, as though to remind
one that this had been the scene of mighty
struggles. The tranquil waters softly rippled a
response to the touch of my oars; all was peace
and quiet here, where, only a few short years
before, the thunder of cannon woke a thousand
echoes, and the waves were stained with the
lifeblood of America, -- where war, with her iron
throat, poured out destruction, and God's
creatures, men, made after his own image,
destroyed each other ruthlessly, having never, in all
that civilization had done for them, discovered
any other way of settling their difficulties than
by this wholesale murder.

The actors In this scene were scattered now;
they had returned to the farm, the workshop,
the desk, and the pulpit. The old flag again
floated upon the ramparts of Sumter, and a
government was trying to reconstruct itself, so that
the Great Republic should become more
thoroughly a government of the people, founded
upon equal rights to all men.

A sharp, scraping sound under my boat roused
me from my revery, for I had leaned upon my
oars while the tide had carried me slowly but
surely upon the oyster-reefs, from which I
escaped with some slight damage to my paper
shell. Newspaper reading had impressed upon
me a belief that the citizens of the city which
played so important a part in the late civil war
might not treat kindly a Massachusetts man. I
therefore decided to go up to the city upon the
ferry-boat for the large mail which awaited my
arrival at the Charleston post-office, after
receiving which I intended to return to Mount
Pleasant, and cross the bay to the entrance of
the southern watercourses, leaving the city as
quietly as I entered it.

My curiosity was, however, aroused to see
how, under the new reconstruction rule, things
were conducted in the once proud city of
Charleston. As I stood at the window of the
post-office delivery, and inquired through the
narrow window for my letters, a heavy shadow
seemed to fall upon me as the head of a negro
appeared. The black post-office official's
features underwent a sudden change as I
pronounced my name, and, while a warm glow of
affection lighted up his dark face, he thrust his
whole arm through the window, and grasped my
hand with a vigorous shake in the most friendly
manner, as though upon his shoulders rested the
good name of the people.

"Welcome to Charleston, Mr. B____, welcome
to our beautiful city," he exclaimed. So this
was Charleston under reconstruction.

After handing me my mail, the postmaster
graciously remarked, "Our rule is to close the
office at five o'clock P. M., but if you are belated
any day, tap at the door, and I will attend you."

This was my first welcome to Charleston; but
before I could return to my quarters at Mount
Pleasant, members of the Chamber of
Commerce, the Carolina Club, and others, pressed
upon me kind attentions and hospitalities, while
Mr. James L. Frazer, of the South Carolina
Regatta Association, sent for the Maria Theresa,
and placed it in charge of the wharfinger of the
Southern Wharf, where many ladies and
gentlemen visited it.

When I left the old city, a few days later, I
blushed to think how I had doubted these people,
whose reputation for hospitality to strangers had
been world-wide for more than half a century.

While here I was the guest of Rev. G. R.
Brackett, the well-loved pastor of one of
Charleston's churches. It was with feelings of
regret I turned my tiny craft towards untried
waters, leaving behind me the beautiful city of
Charleston, and the friends who had so kindly
cared for the lonely canoeist.



Captain N. L. Coste, and several other
Charleston pilots, drew and presented to
me charts of the route to be followed by the
paper canoe through the Sea Island passages,
from the Ashley to the Savannah River, as some
of the smaller watercourses near the upland were
not, in 1875, upon any engraved chart of the
Coast Survey.

Ex-Governor William Aiken, whose rice
plantation on Jehossee Island was considered, before
the late war, the model one of the south, invited
me to pass the following Sunday with him upon
his estate, which was about sixty-five miles from
Charleston, and along one of the interior water
routes to Savannah. He proposed to leave his
city residence and travel by land, while I paddled
my canoe southward to meet him. The genial
editor of the "News and Courier" promised to
notify the people of my departure, and have the
citizens assembled to give me a South Carolina
adieu. To avoid this publicity, -- so kindly
meant, -- I quietly left the city from the south
side on Friday, February 12th, and ascended the
Ashley to Wappoo Creek, on the opposite bank
of the river.

A steamboat sent me a screaming salute as the
mouth of the Wappoo was reached, which made
me feel that, though in strange waters, friends
were all around me. I was now following one
of the salt-water, steamboat passages through
the great marshes of South Carolina. From
Wappoo Creek I took the "Elliot Cut" into the
broad Stono River, from behind the marshes of
which forests rose upon the low bluffs of the
upland, and rowed steadily on to Church Flats,
where Wide Awake, with its landing and store,
nestled on the bank.

A little further on the tides divided, one
ebbing through the Stono to the sea, the other
towards the North Edisto. "New Cut" connects
Church Flats with Wadmelaw Sound, a sheet
of water not over two miles in width and the
same distance in length. From the sound the
Wadmelaw River runs to the mouth of the
Dahoo. Vessels drawing eight and a half feet of
water can pass on full tides from Charleston over
the course I was following to the North Edisto

Leaving Wadmelaw Sound, a deep bend of
the river was entered, when the bluffs of
Enterprise Landing, with its store and the ruins of
a burnt saw-mill, came into view on the left.
Having rowed more than thirty miles from the
Ashley, and finding that the proprietor of
Enterprise, a Connecticut gentleman, had made
preparations to entertain me, this day of pleasant
journeying ended.

The Cardinal-bird was carolling his mating
song when the members of this little New
England colony watched my departure down the
Wadmelaw the next morning. The course was
for the most part over the submerged phosphate
beds of South Carolina, where the remains of
extinct species were now excavated, furnishing
food for the worn-out soils of America and
Europe, and interesting studies and speculations for
men of science. The Dahoo River was reached
soon after leaving Enterprise. Here the North
Edisto, a broad river, passes the mouth of the
Dahoo, in its descent to the sea, which is about
ten miles distant.

For two miles along the Dahoo the porpoises
gave me strong proof of their knowledge of the
presence of the paper canoe by their rough
gambols, but being now in quiet inland waters,
I could laugh at these strange creatures as they
broke from the water around the boat. At four
o'clock P. M. the extensive marshes of Jehossee
Island were reached, and I approached the
village of the plantation through a short canal.
Out of the rice-fields of rich, black alluvium
rose an area of higher land, upon which were
situated the mansion and village of Governor
Aiken, where he, in 1830, commenced his duties
as rice-planter. A hedge of bright green casino
surrounded the well-kept garden, within which
magnolias and live-oaks enveloped the solid old
house, screening it with their heavy foliage from
the strong winds of the ocean, while flowering
shrubs of all descriptions added their bright and
vivid coloring to the picturesque beauty of the

The governor had arrived at Jehossee before
me, and Saturday being pay-day, the faces of the
negroes were wreathed in smiles. Here, in his
quiet island home, I remained until Monday with
this most excellent man and patriot, whose soul
had been tried as by fire during the disturbances
caused by the war.

As we sat together in that room where, in
years gone by, Governor Aiken had entertained
his northern guests, with Englishmen of noble
blood, a room full of reminiscences both
pleasant and painful, -- my kind host freely told
me the story of his busy life, which sounded like
a tale of romance. He had tried to stay the wild
storm of secession when the war-cloud hung
gloomily over his state. It broke, and his
unheeded warnings were drowned in the thunders
of the political tempest that swept over the fair
South. Before the war he owned one thousand
slaves. He organized schools to teach his
negroes to read and write. The improvement of
their moral condition was his great study.

The life he had entered upon, though at first
distasteful, had been forced upon him, and he
met his peculiar responsibilities with a true
Christian desire to benefit all within his reach.
When a young man, having returned from the
tour of Europe, his father presented him with
Jehossee Island, an estate of five thousand acres,
around which it required four stout negro
oarsmen to row him in a day. "Here," said the
father to the future governor of South Carolina,
as he presented the domain to his son, -- "here
are the means; now go to work and develop

William Aiken applied himself industriously
to the task of improving the talents given him.
His well-directed efforts bore good fruit, as year
after year Jehossee Island, from a half
submerged, sedgy, boggy waste, grew into one of
the finest rice-plantations in the south. The
new lord of the manor ditched the marshes, and
walled in his new rice-fields with dikes, to keep
out the freshets from the upland and the tides
from the ocean, perfecting a complete system of
drainage and irrigation. He built comfortable
quarters for his slaves, and erected a church and
schoolhouse for their use. From the original
two hundred and eighty acres of cultivated rice
land, the new proprietor developed the wild
morass into sixteen hundred acres of rice-fields,
and six hundred acres of vegetable, corn, and
provender producing land.

For several seasons prior to the war, Jehossee
yielded a rice crop which sold for seventy
thousand dollars, and netted annually fifty thousand
dollars income to the owner. At that time
Governor Aiken had eight hundred and seventy
three Slaves on the island, and about one hundred
working as mechanics, &c., in Charleston. The
eight hundred and seventy-three Jehossee slaves,
men, women, and children, furnished a working
force of three hundred for the rice-fields.

Mr. Aiken would not tolerate the loose
matrimonial ways of negro life, but compelled his
slaves to accept the marriage ceremony; and
herein lay one of his chief difficulties, for, to
whatever cause we attribute it, the fact remains
the same, namely, that the ordinary negro has
no sense of morality. After all the attempts
made on this plantation to improve the moral
nature of these men and women, Governor Aiken,
during a yellow-fever season in Savannah after
the war, while visiting the poor sufferers, intent
upon charitable works, found in the lowest
quarter of the city, sunk in the most abject depths of
vice, men and women who had once been good
servants on his plantations.

In old times Jehossee was a happy place for
master and for slave. The governor rarely
locked the door of his mansion. The family
plate, valued at fifteen thousand dollars, was
stored in a chest in a room on the ground-floor
of the house, which had for its occupants, during
four months of the year, two or three negro
servants. Though all the negroes at the quarters,
which were only a quarter of a mile from the
mansion, knew the valuable contents of the
chest, it was never disturbed. They stole small
things, but seemed incapable of committing a

When the Union army marched through
another part of South Carolina, where Governor
Aiken had buried these old family heirlooms and
had added to the original plate thirty thousand
dollars' worth of his own purchasing, the soldiers
dug up this treasure-trove, and forty-five
thousand dollars' worth of fine silver went to enrich
the spoils of the Union army. Soon after, three
thousand eight hundred bottles of fine old wines,
worth from eight to nine dollars a bottle, were
dug up and destroyed by a Confederate officer's
order, to prevent the Union army from capturing
them. Thus was plundered an old and revered
governor of South Carolina -- one who was a
kind neighbor, a true patriot, and a Christian

The persecutions of the owner of Jehossee
did not, however, terminate with the war; for
when the struggle was virtually ended, and the
fair mansion of the rice-plantation retained its
heirlooms and its furniture, Beaufort, of South
Carolina, was still under the influence of the
Freedman's Bureau; and when it was whispered
that Aiken's house was full of nice old furniture,
and that a few faithful servants of the good old
master were its only guards, covetous thoughts
at once stirred the evil minds of those who were
the representatives of law and order. This house
was left almost without protection. The war was
over. South Carolina had bent her proud head
in agony over her burned plantations and
desolate homes. The victorious army was now
proclaiming peace, and generous treatment to a
fallen foe. Then to what an almost
unimaginable state of demoralization must some of the
freedmen's protectors have fallen, when they
sent a gunboat to Jehossee Island, and rifled the
old house of all its treasures!

To-day, the governor's favorite sideboard
stands in the house of a citizen of Boston, as
a relic of the war. O, people of the north,
hold no longer to your relics of the war, stolen
from the firesides of the south! Restore them
to their owners, or else bury them out of the
sight of your children, that they may not be led
to believe that the war for the preservation of
the Great Republic was a war for plunder; -- else
did brave men fight, and good women pray in
vain. Away with stolen pianos, "captured"
sideboards, and purloined silver! What but
this petty plundering could be expected of men
who robbed by wholesale the poor negro, to
protect whose rights they were sent south?

The great political party of the north became
the pledged conservator of the black man's
rights, and established a Freedman's Bureau,
and Freedman's banks to guard his humble
earnings. All know something of the workings
of those banks; and to everlasting infamy must
be consigned the names of many of those
conducting them, -- men who robbed every one
of these depositories of negro savings, and left
the poor, child-like freedman in a physical state
of destitution, and in a perfect bewilderment of
mind as to who his true friend really was.

A faithful negro of Jehossee Island was but
one among thousands of such cases. While the
tumult of war vexed the land, the faithful negro
overseer remained at his post to guard his late
master's property, supporting himself by the
manufacture of salt, and living in the most
frugal manner to be able to "lay by" a sum for his
old age. Having saved five hundred dollars, he
deposited them in the nearest Freedman's bank,
which, though fathered by the United States
government, failed; and the now destitute negro
found himself stripped in the same moment of
his hard-earned savings, and his confidence in
his new protectors.

As the war of the rebellion was slowly
drawing to its close, Mr. Lincoln's kind heart was
drawn towards his erring countrymen, and he
made a list of the names of the wisest and best
men of the south, who, not having taken an
active part in the strife, might be intrusted with
the task of bringing back the unruly states to
their constitutional relations with the national
government. Governor Aiken was informed
that his name was upon that list; and he would
gladly have accepted the onerous position, and
labored in the true interests of the whole people,
but the pistol of an assassin closed the life of
the President, whose generous plans of
reconstruction were never realized.

In the birth of our new Centennial let us
eschew the political charlatan, and bring
forward our statesmen to serve and govern a
people, who, to become a unit of strength, must
ever bear in mind the words of the great
southern statesman, who said he knew "no north, no
south, no east, no west; but one undivided

On Monday, at ten A. M., two negroes assisted
me to launch my craft from the river's bank at
the mouth of the canal, for the tide was very
low. As I settled myself for a long pull at the
oars, the face of one of the blacks was seemingly
rent in twain, as a huge mouth opened, and a
pair of strong lungs sent forth these parting
words: "Bully for Massachusetts!"

"How did you know I came from
Massachusetts?" I called out from the river.

"I knows de cuts ob dem. I suffered at Fort
Wagner. Dis chile knows Massachusetts."

Two miles further on, Bull Creek served me
as a "cut-off," and half an hour after entering it
the tide was flooding against me. When Goat
Island Creek was passed on the left hand, knots
of pine forests rose picturesquely in places out
of the bottom-lands, and an hour later, at
Bennett's Point, on the right, I found the watercourse
a quarter of a mile in width.

The surroundings were of a lovely nature
during this day's journey. Here marshes,
diversified by occasional hammocks of timber dotting
their uninteresting wastes; there humble
habitations of whites and blacks appearing at intervals
in the forest growth. As I was destitute of a
finished chart of the Coast Survey, after rowing
along one side of Hutchinson's Island I became
bewildered in the maze of creeks which
penetrate the marshes that lie between Bennett's
Point and the coast.

Making a rough topographical sketch of the
country as I descended Hutchinson's Creek, or
Big River, -- the latter appellation being the
most appropriate, as it is a very wide
watercourse, -- I came upon a group of low islands,
and found upon one of them a plantation which
had been abandoned to the negroes, and the little
bluff upon which two or three rickety buildings
were situated was the last land which remained
unsubmerged during a high tide between the
plantation and the sea.

I was now in a quandary. I had left the
hospitable residence of Governor Aiken at ten o'clock
A. M., when I should have departed at sunrise in
order to have had time to enter and pass through
St. Helena Sound before night came on. The
prospect of obtaining shelter was indeed dismal.
Just at this time a loud shout from the negroes
on shore attracted my attention, and I rested
upon my oars, while a boat-load of women and
children paddled out to me.

"Is dat de little boat?" they asked, viewing
my craft with curious eyes. "And is dat boat
made of paper?" they continued, showing that
negro runners had posted the people, even in
these solitary regions, of the approach of the
paper canoe. I questioned these negro women
about the route, but each gave a different
answer as to the passage through the Horns to St.
Helena Sound. Hurrying on through tortuous
creeks, the deserted tract called "the Horns" was
entered, and until sunset I followed one short
stream after another, to its source in the reedy
plain, constantly retracing the route, with the
tide not yet ebbing strong enough to show me a
course to the sound. Presently it ebbed more
rapidly, and I followed the tide from one
intricacy to another, but never found the principal

While I was enveloped in reeds, and at a loss
which way to go, the soft ripple of breaking
waves struck my ear like sweet music. The sea
was telling me of its proximity. Carefully
balancing myself, I stood up in the cranky canoe,
and peering over the grassy thickets, saw before
me the broad waters of Helena Sound. The
fresh salt breeze from the ocean struck upon
my forehead, and nerved me to a renewal of my
efforts to get within a region of higher land, and
to a place of shelter.

The ebbing tide was yet high, and through
the forest of vegetation, and over the submerged
coast, I pushed the canoe into the sound. Now I
rowed as though for my life, closely skirting the
marshes, and soon entered waters covered by a
chart in my possession. My course was to skirt
the coast of the sound from where I had entered
it, and cross the mouths of the Combahee and
Bull rivers to the entrance of the broad Coosaw.
This last river I would ascend seven miles to the
first upland, and camp thereon until morning.
The tide was now against me, and the night
was growing darker, as the faithful craft was
forced along the marshes four miles to the mouth
of the Combahee River, which I had to ascend
half a mile to get rid of a shoal of frisky
porpoises, who were fishing in the current.

Then descending it on the opposite shore, I
rowed two miles further in the dark, but for half
an hour previous to my reaching the wide
debouchure of Bull River, some enormous
blackfish surged about me in the tideway and sounded
their nasal calls, while their more demonstrative
porpoise neighbors leaped from the water in the
misty atmosphere, and so alarmed me and
occupied my attention, that instead of crossing to the
Coosaw River, I unwittingly ascended the Bull,
and was soon lost in the contours of the river.
As I hugged the marshy borders of the stream
to escape the strong current of its channel, and
rowed on and on in the gloom, eagerly scanning
the high, sedge-fringed flats to find one little spot
of firm upland upon which I might land my
canoe and obtain a resting-spot for myself for
the night, the feeling that I was lost was not the
most cheerful to be imagined. In the thin fog
which arose from the warm water into the cool
night air, objects on the marshes assumed
fantastical shapes. A few reeds, taller than the rest,
had the appearance of trees twenty feet high.
So real did these unreal images seem, that I
drove my canoe against the soft, muddy bank,
repeatedly prompted to land in what seemed a
copse of low trees, but in every instance I was
deceived. Still I pulled up that mysterious
river, ignorant at the time of even its name,
praying only for one little spot of upland where
I might camp.

While thus employed, I peered over my
shoulder into the gloom, and beheld what
seemed to be a vision; for, out of a cloud of
mist rose the skeleton lines of a large ship,
with all its sails furled to the yards. "A ship at
anchor, and in this out-of-the-way place!" I
ejaculated, scarcely believing my eyes; but when I
pointed the canoe towards it, and again looked
over my shoulder, the vision of hope was gone.

Again I saw tall masts cutting through the
mists, but the ship's hull could not be
distinguished, and as I rowed towards the objects, first
the lower masts disappeared, then the topmasts
dissolved, and later, the topgallant and royal
masts faded away. For half an hour I rowed
and rowed for that mysterious vessel, which was
veiled and unveiled to my sight. Never did so
spectral an object haunt or thwart me. It
seemed to change its position on the water, as
well as in the atmosphere, and I was too busily
employed in trying to reach it to discover in the
darkness that the current, which I could not
distinguish from smooth water, was whirling me
down stream as fast as I would approach the
weird vessel.

Drawing once more from the current, I
followed the marsh until the canoe was opposite
the anchorage of a real ship; then, with hearty
pulls, I shot around its stern, and shouted: "Ship

No one answered the hail. The vessel looked
like a man-of-war, but not of American build.
Not a light gleamed from her ports, not a
footfall came from her decks. She seemed to be
deserted in the middle of the river, surrounded
by a desolate waste of marshes. The current
gurgled and sucked about her run, as the
ebbtide washed her black hull on its way to the sea.
The spectacle seemed now even more
mysterious than when, mirage-like, it peered forth
from a cloud of mist. But it was real, and not
fantastic. Another hail, louder than the first,
went forth into the night air, and penetrated to
the ship's forecastle, for a sailor answered my
call, and reported to the captain in the cabin the
presence of a boat at the ship's side.

A quick, firm tread sounded upon the deck;
then, with a light bound, a powerfully-built
young man landed upon the high rail of the
vessel. He peered down from his stately ship upon
the little speck which floated upon the gurgling
current; then, with a voice "filled with the fogs
of the ocean," he thundered forth, as though he
were hailing a man-of-war: "What boat's that?"

"Paper canoe Maria Theresa," I replied, in as
foggy a voice as I could assume.

"Where from, and where bound?" again
roared the captain.

"From Quebec, Canada, and bound to sleep
on board your vessel, if I can ever get up there,"
I politely responded, in a more subdued voice,
for I soon discovered that nature had never
intended me for a fog-trumpet.

"Ah, is it you?" cheerily responded the
captain, suddenly dispensing with all his fogginess;
"I've been looking for you this long time. Got a
Charleston paper on board; your trip all in it.
Come up, and break a bottle of wine with me."

"All hands" came from the forecastle, and
Finland mates and Finland sailors, speaking both
English and Russian, crowded to the rail to
receive the paper canoe, which had first been
described to them by English newspapers when
the vessel lay in a British port, awaiting the
charter-party which afterwards sent them to Bull
River, South Carolina, for a load of phosphates.

The jolly crew lowered buntlines and
clewlines, to which I attached my boat's stores.
These were hoisted up the high sides of the
ship, and, after bending on a line to the bow and
stern rings of the canoe, I ascended by the
ladder, while Captain Johs. Bergelund and his
mates claimed the pleasure of landing the paper
canoe on the deck of the Rurik. The tiny shell
looked very small as she rested on the broad,
white decks of the emperor of Russia's old steam
yacht, which bore the name of the founder of
the Russian empire. Though now a bark and
not a steamer, though a freighter and not a
royal yacht, the Rurik looked every inch a
government vessel, for her young captain, with a
sailor's pride, kept her in a thorough state of
cleanliness and order. We went to supper.
The captain, his mates, and the stranger
gathered around the board, while the generous sailor
brought out his curious bottles and put them by
the side of the still more curious dishes of food.

All my surroundings were those of the
country of the midnight sun, and I should have felt
more bewildered than when in the fog I viewed
and chased this spectral-looking ship, had not
Captain Bergelund, in most excellent English,
entertained me with a flow of conversation which
put me at my ease. He discoursed of Finland,
where lakes covered the country from near
Abo, its chief city, to the far north, where the
summer days are "nearly all night long."

Painting in high colors the delights of his
native land, he begged me to visit it. Finally, as
midnight drew near, this genial sailor insisted
upon putting me in his own comfortable
stateroom, while he slept upon a lounge in the cabin.

One mile above the Rurik's anchorage was the
phosphate-mill of the Pacific Company, which
was supplying Captain Bergelund, by lighters,
with his freight of unground fertilizer.

The next morning I took leave of the Rurik,
but, instead of descending the Bull River to the
Coosaw, I determined to save time by crossing
the peninsula between the two rivers by means
of two short creeks which were connected at
their sources by a very short canal near "the
mines" of the Phosphate Company. When I
entered Horse Island Creek, at eleven o'clock,
the tide was on the last of the ebb, and I sat in
the canoe a long time awaiting the flood to float
me up the wide ditch, which would conduct me
to the creek that emptied into the Coosaw.
Upon the banks of the canal three hours were
lost waiting for the tide to give me one foot of
water, when I rowed into the second
watercourse, and late in the afternoon entered the wide
Coosaw. The two creeks and the connecting
canal are called the Haulover Creek.

As I turned up the Coosaw, and skirted the
now submerged marshes of its left bank, two
dredging-machines were at work up the river
raising the remains of the marine monsters of
antiquity. The strong wind and swashing seas
being in my favor, the canoe soon arrived
opposite the spot of upland I had so longed to reach
the previous night.

This was Chisolm's Landing, back of which
were the phosphate works of the Coosaw
Mine Company. The inspector of phosphates,
Mr. John Hunn, offered me the hospitality of
Alligator Hall, where he and some of the
gentlemen employed by the company resided in
bachelor retirement. My host described a
mammal's tooth that weighed nearly fourteen pounds,
which had been taken from a phosphate mine;
it had been sent to a public room at Beaufort,
South Carolina. A fossil shark's tooth, weighing
four and a half pounds, was also found, and a
learned ichthyologist has asserted that the owner
of this remarkable relic of the past must have
been one hundred feet in length.

Beaufort was near at hand, and could be easily
reached by entering Brickyard Creek, the
entrance of which was on the right bank of the
Coosaw, nearly opposite Chisolm's Landing. It
was nearly six miles by this creek to Beaufort,
and from that town to Port Royal Sound, by
following Beaufort River, was a distance of eleven
miles. The mouth of Beaufort River is only two
miles from the sea. Preferring to follow a more
interior water route than the Beaufort one, the
canoe was rowed up the Coosaw five miles to Whale
Branch, which is crossed by the Port Royal
railroad bridge. Whale Branch, five miles in length,
empties into Broad River, which I descended
thirteen miles, to the lower end of Daw Island,
on its right bank. Here, in this region of marshy
shores, the Chechessee River and the Broad River
mingle their strong currents in Port Royal Sound.
It was dusk when the sound was entered from
the extreme end of Daw Island, where it became
necessary to cross immediately to Skull Creek, at
Hilton Head Island, or go into camp for the night.

I looked down the sound six miles to the broad
Atlantic, which was sending in clouds of mist on
a fresh breeze. I gazed across the mouth of the
Chechessee, and the sound at the entrance of the
port of refuge. I desired to traverse nearly three
miles of this rough water. I would gladly have
camped, hut the shore I was about to leave offered
to submerge me with the next high water. No
friendly hammock of trees could be seen as I
glided from the shadow of the high rushes of
Daw Island. Circumstances decided the point
in debate, and I rowed rapidly into the sound.
The canoe had not gone half a mile when the
Chechessee River opened fully to view, and a
pretty little hammock, with two or three shanties
beneath its trees, could be plainly seen on Daw's

It was now too late to return and ascend the
river to the hammock, for the sound was
disturbed by the freshening breeze from the sea
blowing against the ebb-tide, which was increased
in power by the outflowing flume of water from
the wide Chechessee. It required all the energy
I possessed to keep the canoe from being
overrun by the swashy, sharp-pointed seas. Once or
twice I thought my last struggle for life had
come, but a merciful Power gave me the strength
and coolness that this trying ordeal required, and
I somehow weathered the dangerous oyster reefs
above Skull Creek, and landed at "Seabrook
Plantation," upon Hilton Head Island, near two
or three old houses, one of which was being fitted
up as a store by Mr. Kleim, of the First New
York Volunteers, who had lived on the island
since 1861. Mr. Kleim took me to his bachelor
quarters, where the wet cargo of the Maria
Theresa was dried by the kitchen fireplace.

The next day, February 18, I left Seabrook
and followed Skull Creek to Mackay's Creek,
and, passing the mouth of May River, entered
Calibogue Sound, where a sudden tempest arose
and drove me into a creek which flowed out of
the marshes of Bull Island. A few negro huts
were discovered on a low mound of earth. The
blacks told me their hammock was called Bird

The tempest lasted all day, and as no shelter
could be found on the creek, a darky hauled my
canoe on a cart a couple of miles to Bull Creek,
which enters into Cooper River, one of the
watercourses I was to enter from Calibogue Sound.
Upon reaching the wooded shores of Bull Creek,
my carter introduced me to the head man of the
settlement, a weazened-looking little old
creature called Cuffy, who, though respectful in his
demeanor to "de Yankee-mans," was cross and
overbearing to the few families occupying the
shanties in the magnificent grove of live-oaks
which shaded them.

Cuffy's cook-house, or kitchen, which was a
log structure measuring nine by ten feet, with
posts only three feet high, was the only building
which could be emptied of its contents for my
accommodation. Our contract or lease was a
verbal one, Cuffy's terms being "whateber de
white man likes to gib an ole nigger." Cuffy
cut a big switch, and sent in his "darter," a girl
of about fourteen years, to clean out the shanty.
When she did not move fast enough to suit the
old man's wishes, he switched her over the
shoulders till it excited my pity; but the girl
seemed to take the beating as an every-day
amusement, for it made no impression on her
hard skull and thick skin.

After commencing to "keep house," the old
women came to sell me eggs and beg for
"bacca." They requested me never to throw
away my coffee-grounds, as it made coffee "good
'nuf for black folks." I distributed some of my
stores among them, and, after cutting rushes and
boughs for my bed, turned in for the night.

These negroes had been raising Sea-Island
cotton, but the price having declined to five
cents a pound, they could not get twenty-five
cents a day for their labor by cultivating it.

The fierce wind subsided before dawn, but a
heavy fog covered the marshes and the creek.
Cuffy's "settlement" turned out before sunrise
to see me off; and the canoe soon reached the
broad Cooper River, which I ascended in the
misty darkness by following close to the left
bank. Four miles up the Cooper River from
Calibogue Sound there is a passage through the
marshes from the Cooper to New River, which
is called Ram's Horn Creek. On the right of
its entrance a well-wooded hammock rises from
the marsh, and is called Page Island. About
midway between the two rivers and along this
crooked thoroughfare is another piece of upland.
called Pine Island, inhabited by the families of
two boat-builders.

While navigating Cooper River, as the heavy
mists rolled in clouds over the quiet waters, a
sail-boat, rowed by negroes, emerged from the
gloom and as suddenly disappeared. I shouted
after them: "Please tell me the name of the next
creek." A hoarse voice came back to me from
the cloud: "Pull and be d---d." Then all was;
still as night again. To solve this seemingly
uncourteous reply, so unusual in the south
I consulted the manuscript charts which the
Charleston pilots had kindly drawn for my use,
and found that the negroes had spoken
geographically as well as truthfully, for Pine Island
Creek is known to the watermen as "Pull and
be d---d Creek," on account of its tortuous
character, and chiefly because, as the tides head in
it, if a boat enters it from one river with a
favorable tide, it has a strong head current on the
other side of the middle ground to oppose it.
Thus pulling at the oars at some parts of the
creek becomes hard work for the boatmen;
hence this name, which, though profane, may
be considered geographical.

After leaving the Cooper River, the
watercourses to Savannah were discolored by red or
yellow mud. From Pine Island I descended
New River two miles and a half to Wall's Cut,
which is only a quarter of a mile in length, and
through which I entered Wright's River,
following it a couple of miles to the broad,
yellow, turbulent current of the Savannah.

My thoughts now naturally turned to the early
days of steamboat enterprise, when this river, as
well as the Hudson, was conspicuous; for though
the steamer Savannah was not the first
steam-propelled vessel which cut the waves of the
Atlantic, she was the first steamer that ever
crossed it. Let us examine historical data.
Colonel John Stevens, of New York, built the
steamboat Phoenix about the year 1808, and was
prevented from using it upon the Hudson River
by the Fulton and Livingston monopoly charter.

The Phoenix made an ocean voyage to the
Delaware River. The first English venture was
that of the steamer Caledonia, which made a
passage to Holland in 1817. The London Times
of May 11, 1819, printed in its issue of that date
the following item:

"GREAT EXPERIMENT. -- A new vessel of three hundred tons
has been built at New York for the express purpose of carrying
passengers across the Atlantic. She is to come to Liverpool

This ship-rigged steamer was the "Savannah,"
and the bold projector of this experiment of
sending a steamboat across the Atlantic was Daniel
Dodd. The Savannah was built in New York, by
Francis Ficket, for Mr. Dodd. Stephen Vail, of
Morristown, New Jersey, built her engines, and
on the 22d of August, 1818, she was launched,
gliding gracefully into the element which was to
bear her to foreign lands, there to be crowned
with the laurels of success. On May 25th this
purely American-built vessel left Savannah, and
glided out from this waste of marshes, under
the command of Captain Moses Rogers, with
Stephen Rogers as navigator. The port of New
London, Conn., had furnished these able seamen.

The steamer reached Liverpool June 20th, the
passage having occupied twenty-six days, upon
eighteen of which she had used her paddles. A
son of Mr. Dodd once told me of the sensation
produced by the arrival of a smoking vessel on
the coast of Ireland, and how Lieutenant John
Bowie, of the king's cutter Kite, sent a boat-load
of sailors to board the Savannah to assist her
crew to extinguish the fires of what his Majesty's
officers supposed to be a burning ship.

The Savannah, after visiting Liverpool,
continued her voyage on July 23d, and reached St.
Petersburg in safety. Leaving the latter port on
October 10th, this adventurous craft completed
the round voyage upon her arrival at Savannah,
November 30th.

I pulled up the Savannah until within five miles
of the city, and then left the river on its south
side, where old rice-plantations are first met, and
entered St. Augustine Creek, which is the
steamboat thoroughfare of the inland route to Florida.
Just outside the city of Savannah, near its
beautiful cemetery, where tall trees with their
graceful drapery of Spanish moss screen from wind
and sun the quiet resting-places of the dead, my
canoe was landed, and stored in a building of the
German Greenwich Shooting Park, where Mr.
John Hellwig, in a most hospitable manner, cared
for it and its owner.

While awaiting the arrival of letters at the
Savannah post-office, many of the ladies of that
beautiful city came out to see the paper canoe.
They seemed to have the mistaken idea that my
little craft had come from the distant Dominion
of Canada over the Atlantic Ocean. They also
looked upon the voyage of the paper canoe as a
very sentimental thing, while the canoeist had
found it an intensely practical affair, though
occasionally relieved by incidents of romantic or
amusing character. As the ladies clustered
round the boat while it rested upon the
centre-table of Mr. Hellwig's parlor, they questioned me

"Tell us," they said, "what were your thoughts
while you rowed upon the broad ocean in the
lonely hours of night?"

Though unwilling to break their pleasing
illusions, I was obliged to inform them that a
sensible canoeist is usually enjoying his needed rest
in some camp, or sleeping in some sheltered
place, -- under a roof if possible, -- after it is too
dark to travel in safety; and as to ocean
travelling, the canoe had only once entered upon the
Atlantic Ocean, and then through a mistake.

"But what subjects occupy your thoughts as
you row, and row, and row all day by yourself;
in this little ship?" a motherly lady inquired.

"To tell you honestly, ladies, I must say that
when I am in shallow watercourses, with the
tides usually ebbing at the wrong time for my
convenience, I am so full of anxiety about getting
wrecked on the reefs of sharp coon-oysters,
that I am wishing myself in deep water; and
when my route forces me into the deep water of
sounds, and the surface becomes tossed into wild
disorder by strong currents and stronger winds,
and the porpoises pay me their little attentions,
chasing the canoe, flapping their tails, and
showing their sportive dispositions, I think longingly
of those same shoal creeks, and wish I was once
more in their shallow waters."

"We ladies have prayed for your safety," said
a kind-looking German lady, "and we will pray
that your voyage may have a happy and
successful end."

When the ladies left, two Irish laborers, dressed
in sombre black, with high hats worn with the
air of dignity, examined the boat. There was an
absence of the sparkle of fun usually seen in
the Irish face, for this was a serious occasion.
They did not see any romance or sentiment in
the voyage, but took a broad, geographical view
of the matter. They stood silently gazing at
the canoe with the same air of solemnity they
would have given a corpse. Then one addressed
the other, as though the owner of the craft was
entirely out of the hearing of their conversation.

Said No. 1, "And what did I tell ye, Pater?"
"And so ye did," replied No. 2. "And didn't I
say so?" continued No. 1. "Of course ye did;
and wasn't me of the same mind, to be sure?"
responded No.2. "Yes, I told ye as how it is
the men of these times is greater than the men of
ould times. There was the great Coolumbus, who
came over in three ships to see Americky. What
did he know about paper boats? Nothing at all,
at all. He cum over in big ships, while this young
feller has cum all the way from Canada. I tell ye
the men of ould times was not up to the men of
these times. Thin there's Captain Boyton, who
don't use any boat or ship at all, at all, but goes
aswimming in rubber clothes to keep him dry all
over the Atlantic Oshin. Jis' look, man, how he
landed on the shores of ould Ireland not long since.
Now what's Coolumbus, or any other man of the
past ages, to him? Coolumbus could not hold a
candle to Boyton! No, I tell ye agen that the men
of this age is greater than the men of the past
ages." "And," broke in No.2, "there's a
Britisher who's gone to the River Niles in a
canoe." "The River Niles!" hotly exclaimed
No. 1; "don't waste your breath on that thing.
It's no new thing at all, at all. It was diskivered
a long time a go, and nobody cares a fig for it
now." "Yet," responded No.2, "some of those
old-times people were very enterprising. There
was that great traveller Robinson Crusoe: ye must
confess he was a great man for his time." "The
same who wint to the South Sea Islands and
settled there?" asked the first biographer. "The
"very same man," replied No.2, with animation.

This instructive conversation was here
interrupted by a party of ladies and gentlemen, who
in turn gave their views of canoe and canoeist.



On February 24th, the voyage was again
resumed. My route lay through the coast
islands of Georgia, as far south as the state
boundary, Cumberland Sound, and the St.
Mary's River. This part of the coast is very
interesting, and is beautifully delineated on the Coast
Charts No. 56-57 of the United States Coast
Survey, which were published the year after my
voyage ended.

Steamers run from Savannah through these
interesting interior water-ways to the ports of
the St. John's River, Florida, and by taking this
route the traveller can escape a most
uninteresting railroad journey from Savannah to
Jacksonville, where sandy soils and pine forests present
an uninviting prospect to the eye. A little
dredging, in a few places along the steamboat
route, should be done at national cost, to make
this a more convenient and expeditious tidal
route for vessels.

Leaving Greenwich, Bonaventure, and
Thunderbolt behind me on the upland, the canoe
entered the great marshy district of the coast along
the Wilmington and Skiddaway rivers to
Skiddaway Narrows, which is a contracted, crooked
watercourse connecting the Skiddaway with the
Burnside River. The low lands were made
picturesque by hammocks, some of which were

In leaving the Burnside for the broad Vernon
River, as the canoe approached the sea, one of
the sudden tempests which frequently vex these
coast-waters arose, and drove me to a hammock
in the marshes of Green Island, on the left bank
and opposite the mouth of the Little Ogeechee
River. Green Island has been well cultivated
in the past, but is now only the summer home
of Mr. Styles, its owner. Two or three families
of negroes inhabited the cabins and looked after
the property of the absent proprietor.

I waded to my knees in the mud before the
canoe could be landed, and, as it stormed all
night, I slept on the floor of the humble cot of
the negro Echard Holmes, having first treated
the household to crackers and coffee. The
negroes gathered from other points to examine the
canoe, and, hearing that I was from the north,
one grizzly old darky begged me to "carry"
his complaints to Washington.

"De goberment," he said, "has been berry
good to wees black folks. It gib us our
freedom, -- all berry well; but dar is an noder ting
wees wants; dat is, wees wants General Grant to
make tings stashionary. De storekeeper gibs a
poor nigger only one dollar fur bushel corn,
sometimes not so much. Den he makes poor nigger
gib him tree dollars fur bag hominy, sometimes
more'n dat. Wees wants de goberment to make
tings stashionary. Make de storekeeper gib
black man one dollar and quarter fur de bushel
of corn, and make him sell de poor nigger de
bag hominy fur much less dan tree dollars.
Make all tings stashionary. Den dar's one ting
more. Tell de goberment to do fur poor darky
'nodder ting, -- make de ole massa say to me,
You's been good slave in ole times, -- berry
good slave; now I gib you one, two, tree, five
acres of land for yoursef.' Den ole nigger be
happy, and massa be happy too; den bof of um
bees happy. Hab you a leetle bacca fur dis ole

From the Styles mansion it was but three
miles to Ossabaw Sound. Little Don Island
and Raccoon Key are in the mouth of the
Vernon. Between the two flat islands is a deep
passage through which the tides rush with great
force; it is called Hell Gate. On the south
side of Raccoon Key the Great Ogeechee River
pours its strong volume of water into Ossabaw

I entered the Great Ogeechee through the
Don Island passage, and saw sturgeon-fishermen
at work with their nets along the shores of
Ossabaw, one of the sea islands. Ossabaw Island
lies between Ossabaw and St. Catherine's
sounds, and is eight miles long and six miles
wide. The side towards the sea is firm upland,
diversified with glades, while the western
portion is principally marshes cut up by numerous
creeks. All the sea islands produce the long
staple cotton known as sea-island cotton, and
before the war a very valuable variety. A few
negroes occupy the places abandoned by the
proprietor, and eke out a scanty livelihood.

There are many deer in the forests of
Ossabaw Island. One of its late proprietors
informed me that there must be at least ten
thousand wild hogs there, as they have been
multiplying for many years, and but few were shot
by the negroes. The domestic hog becomes a
very shy animal if left to himself for two or
three years. The hunter may search for him
without a dog almost in vain, though the woods
may contain large numbers of these creatures.

The weather was now delightful, and had I
possessed a light tent I would not have sought
shelter at night in a human habitation anywhere
along the route. The malaria which arises from
fresh-water sinks in many of the sea islands
during the summer months, did not now make
camping-out dangerous to the health. Crossing
the Great Ogeechee above Middle Marsh Island,
I followed the river to the creek called Florida
Passage, through which I reached Bear River,
with its wide and long reaches, and descended it
to St. Catherine's Sound.

Now the sea opened to full view as the canoe
crossed the tidal ocean gateway two miles to
North Newport River. When four miles up the
Newport I entered Johnson's Creek, which flows
from North to South Newport rivers. By
means of the creek and the South Newport
River, my little craft was navigated down to the
southern end of St. Catherine's Island to the
sound of the same name, and here another inlet
was crossed at sunset, and High Point of Sapelo
Island was reached.

From among the green trees of the high bluff
a mansion, which exhibited the taste of its
builder, rose imposingly. This was, however,
but one of the many edifices that are tombs of
buried hopes. The proprietor, a northern
gentleman, after the war purchased one-third of
Sapelo Island for fifty-five thousand dollars in
gold. He attempted, as many other enterprising
northerners had done, to give the late slave a
chance to prove his worth as a freedman to the

"Pay the negro wages; treat him as you
would treat a white man, and he will reward
your confidence with industry and gratitude."
So thought and so acted the large-hearted
northern colonel. He built a large mansion, engaged
his freedmen, paid them for their work, and
treated them like men. The result was ruin,
and simply because he had not paused to
consider that the negro had not been born a
freedman, and that the demoralization of slavery was
still upon him. Beside which facts we must
also place certain ethnological and moral
principles which exist in the pure negro type, and
which are entirely overlooked by those
philanthropic persons who have rarely, if ever, seen a
full-blooded negro, but affect to understand him
through his half-white brother, the mulatto.

Mud River opened its wide mouth before me
as I left the inlet, but the tide was very low, and
Mud River is a sticking-point in the passage of
the Florida steamers. It became so dark that I
was obliged to get near the shore to make a
landing. My attempt was made opposite a
negro's house which was on a bluff but the water
had receded into the very narrow channel of
Mud River, and I was soon stuck fast on a flat.
Getting overboard, I sank to my knees in the
soft mud. I called for help, and was answered
by a tall darky, who, with a double-barrelled gun,
left his house and stood in a threatening manner
on the shore. I appealed for help, and said I
wished to go ashore. "Den cum de best way
you can," he answered in a surly manner. "What
duz you want 'bout here, any way? What duz
you want on Choc'late Plantation, anyhow?"

I explained to this ugly black that I was a
northern man, travelling to see the country, and
wished to camp near his house for protection,
and promised, if he would aid me to land, that I
would convince him of my honest purpose by
showing him the contents of my canoe, and
would prove to him that I was no enemy to the
colored man. I told him of the maps, the
letters, and the blankets which were in the little
canoe now so fast in the mud, and what a loss it
would be if some marauder, passing on the next
high tide, should steal my boat.

The fellow slowly lowered his gun, which had
been held in a threatening position, and said:

"Nobody knows his friends in dese times. I'se
had a boat stealed by some white man, and spose
you was cumin to steal sumting else. Dese folks
on de riber can't be trussed. Dey steals
ebryting. Heaps o' bad white men 'bout nowadnys
sens de war. Steals a nigger's chickens, boats,
and ebryting dey lays hands on. Up at de big
house on High Pint (norfen gemmin built him,
and den got gusted wid cotton-planting and went
home) de white folks goes and steals all de
cheers and beds, and ebryting out ob de house.
Sens de war all rascals."

It was a wearisome and dangerous job for me
to navigate the canoe over the soft, slippery mud
to the firm shore, as there were unfathomed
places in the flats which might ingulf or entomb
me at any step; but the task was completed, and
I stood face to face with the now half tranquillized
negro. Before removing the mud that hung upon
me to the waist in heavy clods, I showed the
darky my chart-case, and explained the object
of my mission. He was very intelligent, and,
after asking a few questions, said to his son:

"Take dis gun to de house;" and then turning
to me, continued: "Dis is de sort ob man I'se am.
I'se knows how to treat a friend like a white man,
and I'se can fight wid my knife or my fist or my
gun anybody who 'poses on me. Now I'se knows
you is a gemmin I'se won't treat you like a
nigger. Gib you best I'se got. Cum to de house."

When inside of the house of this resolute
black, every attention was paid to my comfort.
The cargo of the paper canoe was piled up in
one corner of the room. The wife and children
sat before the bright fire and listened to the story
of my cruise. I doctored the sick pickaninny of
my host, and made the family a pot of strong
coffee. This negro could read, but he asked me to
address a label he wished to attach to a bag of
Sea-Island cotton of one hundred and sixty
pounds' weight, which he had raised, and was
to ship by the steamboat Lizzie Baker to a
mercantile house in Savannah.

As I rested upon my blankets, which were
spread upon the floor of the only comfortable
room in the house, at intervals during the night
the large form of the black stole softly in and bent
over me to see if I were well covered up, and he
as noiselessly piled live-oak sticks upon the dying
embers to dry up the dampness which rose from
the river.

He brought me a basin of cold water in the
morning, and not possessing a towel clean enough
for a white man, he insisted that I should use his
wife's newly starched calico apron to wipe my
face and hands upon. When I offered him
money for the night's accommodation and the
excellent oyster breakfast that his wife prepared
for me, he said: "You may gib my wife
whateber pleases you for her cooking, but nuffin for
de food or de lodgings. I'se no nigger, ef I is
a cullud man."

It was now Saturday, and as I rowed through
the marsh thoroughfare called New Tea Kettle
Creek, which connects Mud River with Doboy
Sound near the southern end of Sapelo Island, I
calculated the chances of finding a resting-place
for Sunday. If I went up to the mainland
through North and Darien rivers to the town of
Darien, my past experience taught me that
instead of enjoying rest I would become a forced
exhibiter of the paper canoe to crowds of people.
To avoid this, I determined to pass the day in
the first hammock that would afford shelter and
fire-wood; but as the canoe entered Doboy
Sound, which, with its inlet, separates Sapelo
from the almost treeless Wolf Island, the wind
rose with such violence that I was driven to take
refuge upon Doboy Island, a small marshy
territory, the few firm acres of which were occupied
by the settlement and steam saw-mill of Messrs.
Hiltons, Foster & Gibson, a northern lumber firm.

Foreign and American vessels were anchored
under the lee of protecting marshes, awaiting
their cargoes of sawed deals and hewn timber;
while rafts of logs, which had been borne upon
the currents of the Altamaha and other streams
from the far interior regions of pine forests, were
collected here and manufactured into lumber.

One of the proprietors, a northern gentleman,
occupied with his family a very comfortable
cottage near the store and steam saw-mill. As the
Doboy people had learned of the approach of the
paper canoe from southern newspapers, the little
craft was identified as soon as it touched the low
shores of the island.

I could not find any kind of hotel or
lodging-place in this settlement of Yankees, Canadians,
and negroes, and was about to leave it in search
of some lone hammock, when a mechanic kindly
offered me the floor of an unfinished room in an
unfinished house, in which I passed my Sunday
trying to rest, and obtaining my meals at a
restaurant kept by a negro.

A member of the Spaulding family, the
owners of a part of Sapelo Island, called upon me,
and seeing me in such inhospitable quarters,
with fleas in hundreds invading my blankets,
urged me to return with him to his island
domain, where he might have an opportunity to
make me comfortable. The kind gentleman
little knew how hardened I had become to such
annoyances as hard floors and the active flea.
Such inconveniences had been robbed of their
discomforts by the kind voices of welcome
which, with few exceptions, came from every
southern gentleman whose territory had been
invaded by the paper canoe.

There was but one place of worship on the
island, and that was under the charge of the
negroes. Accepting the invitation of a nephew of
the resident New England proprietor of Doboy
Island to attend "de shoutings," we set out on
Sunday evening for the temporary place of negro
worship. A negro girl, decked with ribbons,
called across the street to a young colored
delinquent: "You no goes to de shoutings, Sam!
Why fur? You neber hears me shout, honey,
and dey do say I shouts so pretty. Cum 'long
wid me now."

A few blacks had collected in the small shanty
and the preacher, an old freedman, was about to
read a hymn as we entered. At first the singing
was low and monotonous, but it gradually swelled
to a high pitch as the negroes became excited.
Praying followed the singing. Then the black
preacher set aside "de shouting" part of the
service for what he considered more important
interests, and discoursed upon things spiritual
and temporal in this wise:

"Now I'se got someting to tell all' of yese
berry 'portant." Here two young blacks got up
to leave the room, but were rudely stopped by a
negro putting his back against the door. "No,
no," chuckled the preacher, "yese don't git off
dat a-way. I'se prepared fur de ockasun.
Nobody gits out ob dis room till I'se had my say.
Jes you set down dar. Now I'se goin' to do one
ting, and it's dis: I'se goin' to spread de Gospel
all ober dis yere island of Doboy. Now's de
time; talked long 'nuf, too long, 'bout buildin'
de church. Whar's yere pride? whar is it? Got
none! Look at dis room for a church! Look
at dis pulpit -- one flour-barrel wid one candle
stickin' out ob a bottle! Dat's yere pulpit. Got
no pride! Shamed o' yeresefs! Here white
men comes way from New York to hear de
Gospel in dis yere room wid flour-barrel fur
pulpit, and empty bottle fur candlestick. No
more talk now. All go to work. De mill
pebple will gib us lumber fur de new church;
odders mus' gib money. Tell ebbry cullud
pusson on de island to cum on Tuesday and carry
lumber, and gib ebbry one what he can, -- one
dollar apiece, or ten cents if got no more. De
white gemmins we knows whar to find when we
wants dar money, but de cullud ones is berry
slippery when de hat am passed round."

At the termination of the preacher's
exhortation, I proposed to my companion that I should
present the minister with a dollar for his new
church, but, with a look of dismay, he replied:
"Oh, don't give it to the preacher. Hand it to
that other negro sitting near him. We never
trust the preacher with money; he always
spends the church-money. We only trust him
for preaching."

Monday, March 1st, opened fair, but the wind
arose when the canoe reached Three Mile Cut,
which connects the Darien with Altamaha River.
I went through this narrow steamboat passage,
and being prevented by the wind from entering
the wide Altamaha, returned to the Darien
River and ascended it to General's Cut, which,
with Butler River, affords a passage to the
Altamaha River. Before entering General's Cut,
mistaking a large, half submerged alligator for a
log on a mud bank, the canoe nearly touched the
saurian before he was roused from his nap to
retire into the water. General's Cut penetrates
a rice plantation opposite the town of Darien,
to Butler's Island, the estate of the late Pierce
Butler, at its southern end. Rice-planting, since
the war, had not proved a very profitable
business to the present proprietors, who deserve
much praise for the efforts they have made to
educate their freedmen. A profitable crop of
oranges is gathered some seasons from the
groves upon Butler's Island.

From the mouth of General's Cut down
Butler River to the Altamaha was but a short row.
The latter stream would have taken me to
Altamaha Sound, to avoid which I passed through
Wood's Cut into the South Altamaha River, and
proceeded through the lowland rice-plantations
towards St. Simon's Island, which is by the sea.
About the middle of the afternoon, when close
to Broughton Island, where the South Altamaha
presented a wide area to the strong head-wind
which was sending little waves over my canoe,
a white plantation-house, under the veranda of
which an elderly gentleman was sitting, attracted
my attention. Here was what seemed to be the
last camping-ground on a route of several miles
to St. Simon's Island.

Book of the day: