a little more as a kind of appendix, for such
as wish information from this quarter.
Soon after our return, and
myself started on a tour of land looking. We passed from to the northwest corner
and examined the mills and streams, and country around Mr. [Humphrey] Smith’s—generally
denominated “yan kee Smith.” It is customary,
you know, for the sake of provincialism among
nations, kindreds, and people, to nick-name by their religion, or pro vision, or ancestry—so
that one can be distinguished, by being an Israelite, a Canaanite,
a Christian, a Mormon, a Methodist, &c. or a corn-cracker, or a mighty
hunter, &c. according to fancy or favor. From Mr. Smith’s, we pro ceeded
northeasterly through some tim ber and some prairie to “Plattsburg” the
county seat for Clinton county; and although
this place may not come near er in resemblance to Plattsburg the cap ital of Clinton county () on Lake Champlain, than a cabin does
to Con gress hall, yet it seems to be quite “a smart little town,”—containing
from 15 to 20 hewed log cabins, and the brick body of a two
story court house, 32 feet square. This town is located on the
west side of Horse
and Smith’s fork of the Little Platt, contiguous
to the timber on these streams, 25 miles north of .
The timber and mill and water privileges may answer a very small
population, but for a large it
would be nothing. There are now three stores and soon will be four.— Clinton county is
mostly prairie with here and there a few fringes or spots of
timber on the creeks that run into the Little Platt and .
From this town we made the best course we could to the waters
of . We had a “sort of
road for a little bit” towards Brushy
fork, then we had to contend with naked prai rie,
patches of scrubby timber, deep banked creeks and branches, together with
a rainy morning and no compass; but, with the blessing of the Lord,
we came to “some house” in the afternoon, passed into .
On , when there is water, there are some
tolerable mill seats, but the prai ries,—those “old clearings”—peering one
over another, as far as the eye can glance, flatten all common calcula tion as to
timber for boards, rails, or future wants, for a thick population, according
to the natural reasoning of men.
What the design of our heavenly Fa ther was or is, as to these
vast prairies of the far west, I know no further than we have
revelation. The book of Mor mon terms them the land of desolation, and when I get into
a prairie so large that I am out of sight of timber, just as a
seaman is “out of sight of land in the ocean,” I have to exclaim, what
is man and his works, compared to the Almighty and his creations?
Who hath viewed his everlasting fields? Who hath counted his
buffaloes;—who hath seen all his deer, on a thousand prairies?
Well may his sacred word declare:— The cattle upon a thousand
hills are mine. All are God’s.
The pinks variegate these wide spread lawns without the hand
of man to aid them, and the bees of a thousand groves, banquet
on the flowers unob served, and sip the honey dews of hea ven,
far beyond the busy bustling scenes of aspiring man. O what a scene
for contemplation! What a good God all living have, to provide
for them in all capacities—in all conditions—and in all
ages against a day of trouble, and for a day of righteousness!
Nearly every skirt of timber to the State line, on the north,
I am inform ed, has some one in it, if
it has range and wood enough for their common custom. Some
people require more than others. It is astonishing to wit ness
how eager thousands are to be pi oneers into a new country; to be fron tiers;
to be on the outside; yea, to be, as one man said, in speaking of head men,
“what he was a mind to;” or, every man carry his own head. The back
settlers are generally very hon orable; and more hospitable than any people
I ever saw.
You are, in most instances, welcome to the best they have.
Esq. [p. 341]