Conversations with Mr. Benedict and with Flat Mouth, chief of the Chippewas, developed the unexpected fact that there was but one Indian in the Chippewa country who had actually traversed the region which the Captain and his party were about to explore, and that he was then visiting some friends near Lake Winnibegoshish, and was not expected to return until the following Saturday, some three days off.
Satisfied that Che-no-wa-ge-sic, the Chippewa brave referred to, would prove indispensable to the success of his expedition, Captain Glazier decided to await his return to the Agency. While thus detained the Captain and his friends found themselves indebted to Major Ruffe for his untiring efforts to relieve the monotony of their sojourn, and to render their condition as agreeable as possible while within his sovereign borders.
As an important part of Captain Glazier's purpose in his Mississippi expedition was to study the manners and customs of the people in the several portions of the country along its banks, he took advantage of his present detention to inquire into the habits and traits of the Indians with whom he now came in daily contact. Some extracts from his private diary, graphically portraying the characteristics which impressed him, are here especially interesting, as evidence of a certain power of philosophic reflection and inductive reasoning unusual in the mind of one so given to the excitement of an active, enterprising life as was Captain Glazier, who as soldier, author, and explorer certainly allowed himself little rest for the quiet abstractions of the student.
"Through conversations with Major Ruffe I learned much of the pioneer history of the post, and the attempts to civilize the Pillagers, as the Leech Lake Indians are named. This band appears to have separated from the other Chippewas at an early day, and to have taken upon themselves the duty of defending this portion of the Chippewa frontier. They 'passed armed before their brethren' in their march westward. Their geographical position was one which required them to assume great responsibilities, and in the defence of their chosen frontier they have distinguished themselves as brave and active warriors. Many acts of intrepidity are related of them which would be recorded with admiration had white men been the actors. Perfectly versed in the arts of the forest they have gained many victories over that powerful assemblage of tribes known as the Sioux. With fewer numbers the Chippewas have never hesitated to fall upon their enemies, and have defeated and routed them with a valor and resolution which in any period of written warfare would have been stamped as heroic.
"It is not easy on the part of the government to repress the feelings of hostility which have so long existed between the respective tribes, and to convince them that they have lived into an age when milder maxims furnish the basis of wise action....
"The domestic manners and habits of a people whose position is so adverse to improvement could hardly be expected to present anything strikingly different from other erratic bands of the Northwest. There is indeed a remarkable conformity in the external habits of all our Northern Indians. The necessity of changing their camps often to procure game or fish, the want of domestic animals, the general dependence on wild rice, and the custom of journeying in canoes has produced a general uniformity of life, and it is emphatically a life of want and vicissitude. There is a perpetual change between action and inanity in the mind which is a striking peculiarity of the savage state, and there is such a general want of forecast that most of their misfortunes and hardships, in war and peace, come unexpectedly."...
Our explorers were agreeably surprised one day during their stay at Leech Lake by an invitation from Flat Mouth, the present ruler of the Pillagers, to take dinner with him. Captain Glazier accepted the invitation with pleasure, for it so happened that although he had for many years been much among the natives of the forest he had never before had an opportunity to dine with Indian royalty.
Flat Mouth is a descendant of Aish-ki-bug-e-koszh, the most famous of all the Chippewa chiefs. He is stalwart in appearance and endowed with marked talents, and well deserves the title of "chief." At the appointed time for the dinner, Captain Glazier, accompanied by his brother and Mr. Paine, went to his residence. They found him living in a comfortable log-house of two rooms, well floored and roofed, with two small glass windows. A plain board table stood in the centre of the front room, upon which the dinner was served. Pine board benches were placed upon each side of the table and at the ends, and they followed the example of the host in sitting down. Five other persons were admitted to the meal, the wife of Flat Mouth, White Cloud, chief of the Mississippis, and three Chippewa sub-chiefs. The wife of Flat Mouth sat near him and poured out the tea, but ate or drank nothing herself. Tea-cups, spoons, plates, knives and forks, all of plain manufacture, were carefully arranged, the number corresponding with the guests. A fine mess of bass and white fish cut up and very palatably broiled filled a dish in the centre of the table, from which the host helped his guests. Birch bark salt cellars containing pepper and salt mixed allowed each one to season his fish with both or neither. A dish of blue berries picked on the shore of the lake completed the repast.
While they were eating, the room became filled with Indians, apparently the relatives and friends of Flat Mouth, and after the dinner was over, speech-making being in order, White Cloud arose, and, assuming an oratorical attitude, addressed Captain Glazier:
He expressed regret that white men had so long been in ignorance of the source of the Mississippi, and said that although he had not himself seen the head of the Great River, there were many braves of his tribe who were familiar with its location. He hoped that his white brother had come thoroughly prepared to explore the country beyond Lake Itasca, and that he would not return to his friends until he had found the true source of the "Father of Waters." Continuing he said: "I am told that Che-no-wa-ge-sic, the Chippewa warrior, will accompany you. He is a great hunter and a faithful guide. He can supply you with game and paddle your canoe. The Chippewas are your friends, and will give you shelter in their wigwams."
After he had finished, Flat Mouth presented Captain Glazier with a beautifully beaded pipe and tobacco pouch, the work of his favorite squaw, and expressed an earnest hope for the complete success of the expedition. Although Captain Glazier needed nothing to keep the memory of this novel dinner fresh in his mind, he will always treasure this souvenir of Flat Mouth among the many pleasant mementos of his visit to Leech Lake.
Here again, in referring to this dinner and those whom he met there, Captain Glazier's diary furnishes one of his vivid pen-pictures in an admirably conceived criticism upon the mental attributes and general character of the distinguished Indian chief, White Cloud, the orator of the feast.
"I was much gratified on this occasion by the presence of White Cloud, whom I had been told was the most respectable man in the Chippewa country; and if the term were applied to his intellectual qualities and the power of drawing just conclusions from known premises, and the effects which these have had on his standing and influence with his own tribe, it is not misapplied. Shrewdness and quickness of perception most of the chiefs possess, but there is more of the character of common sense and practical reflection in White Cloud's remarks than I have observed in most of the chiefs I have hitherto met. In his early life he was both a warrior and a counselor, and these distinctions he held, not from any hereditary right, but from the force of his own character. I found him quite ready to converse upon those topics which were of most interest to him, and the sentiments he expressed were such as would occur to a mind which had possessed itself of facts and was capable of reasoning from them. His manners were grave and dignified, and his oratory such as to render him popular wherever heard."
Upon the return of Chenowagesic and other Indians, a council was held and Captain Glazier stated his object to them. They were asked to provide maps of the country and to furnish an interpreter, guides and canoes. Of course, it was impossible to conclude any such important negotiations as attended an expedition involving the veritable source of the noble red man's mystical stream without the characteristic Indian speech. Accordingly, Chenowagesic arose, and with much dignity, extending his arm towards Captain Glazier, said:
"My brother, the country you are going to visit is my hunting ground. I have hunted there many years and planted corn on the shores of Lake Itasca. My father, now an old man, remembers the first white chief who came to look for the source of the Great River. But, my brother, no white man has yet seen the head of the 'Father of Waters.' I will myself furnish the maps you have requested, and will guide you onward. There are many lakes and rivers in the way, but the waters are favorable. I shall talk with my friends about the canoes, and see who will step forward to supply them. My own canoe shall be one of the number."
But a few hours were required to complete the maps, and on the following morning, three Chippewas, including Chenowagesic, brought each a canoe and laid it down on the shore of the lake.
EXPLORATION AND DISCOVERY.
Launching the canoes.—Flat Mouth and White Cloud again.—An inspiring scene.—Farewell to Leech Lake.—Up the Kabekanka River.—Dinner at Lake Benedict.—Difficult navigation.—A peaceful haven.—Supper and contentment.—Lake Garfield.— Preparations for first portage.—Utter exhaustion.—Encampment for the night.—The cavalry column.—Lake George and Lake Paine.—The Naiwa River.—Six miles from Itasca.—Camping on the Minnesota watershed.—A startling discovery.—Rations giving out.—Ammunition gone.—Arrival at Lake Itasca.
The following day, July seventeenth, was Sunday, and Captain Glazier, being a guest of Rev. Edwin Benedict, felt some delicacy in commencing his journey on the Sabbath. Mr. Benedict, however, greatly to his relief, not only decided that there could be nothing objectionable in his doing so, but also offered to launch his canoe and bid him God-speed. In fact, Mr. Benedict had done all in his power to alleviate the discomfort of his stay, by placing at his service the only "civilized" bed the village possessed, but now Bishop Whipple was hourly expected to arrive in the course of his regular visitations to the missionary posts he had established, and the Captain was not inclined to monopolize a luxury which doubtless the Bishop would appreciate as much as himself. Accordingly, early in the morning, which proved to be clear and beautiful, the explorers met on the shore of the lake, preparatory to their embarkation. A large number of Indians had assembled to see them off. Flat Mouth was there, watching his white brothers with interest as they stepped cautiously into the canoes, for Captain Glazier had not forgotten his first experience with one of these light vessels. White Cloud, also, was there, chief of the Mississippis, thinking, mayhap, somewhat sadly of the time when the great "Father of Waters" was known only to the Red Man who hunted on its banks, or glided swiftly down its stream, in happy ignorance of the days when city after city should line its shores, and steamboats force their devious way through its waters. There, too, were the friends and relatives of Chenowagesic and the other guides, watching with characteristic gravity the final preparations. Rev. Mr. Benedict, the only white man on the beach other than the explorers, stood ready to launch the canoe.
It was a scene well worthy the painter's most cunning skill—the beautiful lake, the wigwams dotting its shores here and there, the dark green of the forest in the background, the Indians with their bright red blankets adding bits of vivid coloring to the scene, and, at the water's edge, Captain Glazier, upright and soldierly in bearing, ready to step into his canoe and start forth in search of the mysterious springs which had hitherto baffled the investigations of all previous explorers.
Finally, all was ready, the baggage being evenly distributed in the three canoes with an Indian in each to guide and paddle it. Standing in the foremost canoe Captain Glazier signified his readiness to start, when Mr. Benedict pushed the light bark into the water, and waved his hat in token of farewell. A general waving of hats followed, and soon our explorers found themselves gliding swiftly over the bosom of the lake, and almost out of sight of the friends who still watched them from the shore.
After an hour's paddling they reached the other side of the arm of the lake on which the Agency is situated, and prepared for a short portage across a point of land which brought them to a larger arm, where the wind and the waves had a sweep of fifteen or twenty miles. Coasting along the shore for some distance they finally paddled across the lake to the mouth of the Kabekanka River. A brisk wind was blowing from the north, and the waves ran so high as to cause some anxiety in the minds of those who were not accustomed to the motion of a canoe; for, now they rose lightly to the top of the wave and anon sank with a swash into the trough, splashing and dashing the water over their bows. Gradually, however, as they became more used to their frail barks, their anxiety lessened, and they began to enjoy the beautiful prospect before them, and to inhale with delight the invigorating breeze.
After two or three hours steady work they reached the inlet into which this branch of the Kabekanka empties. So choked up is this inlet with reeds and rushes that it required some skill to force an entrance for the canoes. Finally they succeeded, and paddling up the river they came, at about eleven o'clock, to a little lake caused by the widening of the stream, which Captain Glazier named Lake Benedict, in honor of Rev. Edwin Benedict, who had treated him so courteously during his stay at Leech Lake. Reaching the upper end of this lake they disembarked and prepared to enjoy their noon-day meal.
A brief rest, in order the better to digest their hearty dinner, refreshed the travelers so much that they soon re-embarked and pursued their voyage. Leaving the lake they entered another branch of the Kabekanka, and found that at its mouth the stream ran between low shores, and that its bed was so overgrown with wild rice as to make it almost impossible for a canoe to work its way through. Further up the river narrowed and ran more swiftly, the wild rice giving place to snags and driftwood, which made navigation even more toilsome. Almost worn out, our weary voyagers began to despair of finding navigable waters, when to their great joy they espied at a little distance what seemed like a pond filled with rushes. Struggling onward once more they soon reached the spot, and found what they supposed to be a pond was the outlet of a beautiful lake about seven miles long and three broad, into whose quiet waters they glided with glad hearts and a shout of delight.
It was now late in the afternoon, and time to look about for a camping-ground, on which to spend the night. Paddling slowly up the lake, trolling for fish as they went, they soon found a spot which answered their purpose admirably. It was a bluff near the lake, wooded with Norway pines, and sloping rather abruptly towards the water. By this time they had caught half a dozen fine pickerel, and, disembarking, soon had their fire built, tents pitched and hammocks swung. The guides prepared supper of broiled fish, accompanied by such canned dainties as had been brought with them and their keen appetites caused by the fresh breeze and toilsome paddling prepared them to enjoy with zest their first supper in the open air.
Supper being over they whiled away the time very pleasantly by commenting upon the experiences of the day, and discussing the object of their undertaking, and so free were they from all discomfort, even from that caused by those torments, the mosquitoes, they felt ready to declare the hardships of their journey had been much magnified. In this peaceful and contented frame of mind they retired to their tents and slept soundly until next morning.
Rising at break of day they were soon on the water making their way to the head of the lake, where they breakfasted, and upon learning that no name had ever been given to this beautiful body of water, Captain Glazier designated it Lake Garfield, in honor of our murdered President.
After breakfast they were informed by the guides that they had now come to the end of uninterrupted water communication, and must prepare for a portage of two and a half miles. Little did any of the white members of the party guess what this meant, and so with light hearts they packed their traps into convenient bundles and prepared to take up the line of march. The Indians, in the meanwhile, had made for themselves packs weighing about a hundred pounds. These packs they wrapped in blankets and secured with a strap which passed over their foreheads, the packs resting on their shoulders. Each then placed a canoe, bottom upwards, on top of his pack, holding it there by means of a cross bar.
All were now ready, and the order, "March," was given. Off started the Indians in single file with as much apparent ease as if they were taking a pleasure walk along a well-beaten path instead of plunging, heavily laden, into the recesses of a trackless forest. Captain Glazier, his brother and Mr. Paine followed their lead, guided only by the white bottoms of the canoes gleaming through the dense foliage. It was almost impossible to keep up with the Indians, whose steady trot at times increased to a run, and in their efforts to do so they barked their shins, scratched their hands and faces, tore their clothes, and were almost devoured by the mosquitoes. On they went, however, determined not to be beaten by the red man, who showed no sign of fatigue or stopping. Finally, in spite of their determination to the contrary, they felt absolutely compelled to cry "halt," when lo! the Indians halted, removed their packs, and, smiling back at them, no doubt in appreciation of their discomfort, calmly began to pick the blue berries which grew in abundance all along the route. With a sigh of relief, the rest of the party threw themselves full length upon the ground, utterly and completely exhausted, and fairly groaned aloud when they saw the Indians were about to resume their packs. There was no help for it, however, so starting up they prepared to follow, but at a somewhat slower pace. For several hours they continued their fatiguing journey, until, at eleven o'clock, reaching a high, clear piece of ground, they decided to rest and have dinner.
After dinner they found they were far too weary to proceed, so the Indians, who were apparently as fresh as when they first started, made two trips to the next lake, carrying everything. On their last trip they were accompanied by their exhausted white brethren, who succeeded at last in summoning up sufficient resolution to carry themselves.
Embarking once more in their canoes they pulled through three small lakes connected by creeks, finally camping for the night on the shore of a fourth lake. The next morning they were up bright and early and ready to resume their voyage, which for this day was through a chain of lakes sometimes connected by small creeks, but more frequently requiring them to make a portage from one to the other. Gabekanazeba, meaning "portage," is the Indian name applied to these lakes and the stream which connects some of them; but Captain Glazier, assuming the right tacitly yielded to all explorers, called them in order after the brave cavalry commanders of the Rebellion. Bayard, Stoneman, Pleasanton, Custer, Kilpatrick, Gregg, Buford and Davies, form the column, with Sheridan, as the name of the largest and finest, at its head.
Finally, they reached a lake of considerable size whose Indian name, translated, means Blue Snake. This they crossed at a point where its width is about five miles, catching a number of fine bass as they went, and camped for the night on a strip of land between it and a second lake about half its size. These two bodies of water were respectively denominated by Captain Glazier Lake George and Lake Paine, after his brother George and Mr. Barrett Channing Paine, who accompanied him throughout his entire voyage, sharing his dangers and rejoicing in his ultimate success.
Upon resuming their journey next morning, July twentieth, the canoes were paddled across a corner of Lake Paine, and, after a portage of half a mile, they entered a small river, called by the Indians Naiwa. This river they descended for about five miles, and after making another short portage, reached a little stream, upon the shore of which they rested for dinner. Resuming their voyage they arrived at a beautiful lake late in the afternoon, upon which Captain Glazier bestowed the name of Elvira, in memory of his eldest sister.
Here the Indians informed them that they were only six miles from Itasca, but the joy with which they received the good news was somewhat checked when they heard that the whole distance, with the exception of one small lake, must be made by portage. However, they had a night's rest before them, so taking the canoes out of the water, they were carried to the top of the nearest ridge of land, where the tents were pitched for the night.
Their camp was now situated on one of a series of diluvial ridges which forms the highest ground between the Allegheny and Rocky Mountains. It is, in fact, the watershed separating the Mississippi, Red River of the North and St. Lawrence River systems, all these great streams having their origin in springs or lakes found within this section of Minnesota.
While camping here a discovery was made which caused the party much uneasiness. This was the startling fact that their supply of canned meats and other rations was fast giving out! To appreciate their situation under these circumstances we must remember that they were far from any trading post, and in a country where they could not hope to find even an Indian at that season of the year, the many lakes and marshy ground making hunting impracticable. To add to their dismay, it was also discovered that during one of the exhausting portages the trolling hooks had been lost in passing through a bog, while their ammunition was reduced to sixty-five rounds. Too late did the Captain regret the permission given to his brother and Mr. Paine, both of whom were but amateur sportsmen, to fire at any game they might see. They had blazed away recklessly during the entire voyage, so far succeeding in killing but one duck. Evidently they could not be depended upon to replenish the depleted larder. Something had to be done, and after resolutions of strict economy were proposed and unanimously adopted, it was decided that hereafter the Captain should occupy the bow of the first canoe, and, with gun cocked, be ready to fire at any game which a sudden turn in the river might discover. How the explorers wished they could subsist on the blue berries which were fully as abundant as the mosquitoes along the entire route! But it required incessant eating of these to satisfy the appetite, and even then, hunger, in a short time, asserted its former sway.
The morning following this discovery was so foggy that it was impossible to make a start before seven o'clock. The day was warm, and the journey unusually fatiguing, consisting mainly of a portage twice the length of the first one they had encountered. It was, therefore, with unfeigned delight that, late in the afternoon of the twenty-first of July, they discovered the placid waters of Itasca just ahead of them. Launching their canoes, they soon reached Schoolcraft Island, after a pull of about two miles, and prepared to make this point their headquarters.
Lake Itasca was discovered by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft in 1832, and was located by him as the source of the Mississippi. It is a beautiful body of water, with an extreme length of about five miles, and an average breadth of a mile and a half. It has three arms of nearly equal size, and the island, named after the discoverer of the lake, is situated near the point where they come together. This island proved to be about three acres in extent, and is so covered with underbrush that our gallant little party had much difficulty in clearing a sufficient space for their camp. Only one or two trees of any size were found, and on the largest of these, a pine, Mr. Paine carved their names and the date of their arrival.
By this time Captain Glazier had become more than ever convinced, through conversations with Chenowagesic, that he was right in his preconceived opinion that Itasca was not the source of the Mississippi. He was also satisfied that Chenowagesic was pre-eminently fitted to aid him in discovering the fountain head, owing to the fact that he was thoroughly at home in that region, having hunted and trapped there for many years. So intense had become the Captain's desire not to return until he had thoroughly explored Itasca and the surrounding country, that it was with an anxious heart he now put the question to his companions: would they be willing, on such a limited supply of rations as they had remaining, to assist him in his explorations, or would they vote for an immediate descent of the river? To his great relief he found he had so completely inoculated them, or at least his brother and Mr. Paine, with his own ambition that with one voice they decided in favor of a thorough exploration. The Indians were soon persuaded to give their consent, and so, before retiring for the night, the entire party expressed their determination to stand by the Captain until he was satisfied that every effort had been made to discover the remotest springs in which the Great River really had its origin.
DISCOVERY OF THE SOURCE OF THE MISSISSIPPI.
Short rations.—Empty haversacks and depleted cartridge-boxes.—Statement of Chenowagesic.—Captain Glazier's diary.—Vivid description.—Coasting Itasca.—Chenowagesic puzzled.—The barrier overcome.—Victory! the Infant Mississippi.—Enthusiastic desire to see the source.—The goal reached.—A beautiful lake.—The fountain head.—An American the first white man to stand by its side.—Schoolcraft.—How he came to miss the lake.—Appropriate ceremonies.—Captain Glazier's speech.—Naming the lake.—Chenowagesic.—Military honors.—"Three cheers for the explorer."
Captain Glazier had instructed his Indian guides to wake him early the following morning, July twenty-second; but when he himself awoke at six o'clock he found the remainder of the party still sound asleep, the toilsome portages of the preceding day having completely exhausted them. Rousing his companions, preparations were begun for breakfast, which consisted of a small piece of bacon and one "flap-jack" each. But the determination of the previous night had so inspirited all that the small dimensions of the breakfast were scarcely noticed, and the conversation turned upon the absorbing topic—would they discover a source of the Mississippi other than Lake Itasca?
Chenowagesic again repeated his statement that there was another lake to the south, which he called Pokegama, meaning, "a lake on the side of or beyond another lake." This lake, he said, was smaller than Itasca, but contributed to the latter through its largest inflowing stream. Captain Glazier, therefore, instructed him to guide them to this lake and allow them to make their own observations regarding it. Accordingly, breakfast being over, the canoes were launched and the coasting of Itasca begun.
Captain Glazier's own account of the events succeeding this breakfast on Schoolcraft Island is so clear, and his description brings so vivid a picture before the eye of the reader, that it is only necessary to quote the following passages from his diary for the reader to understand the importance of the discovery which he made:
"Notwithstanding the fact that we were now confronted with empty haversacks and depleted cartridge boxes my companions were still eager to follow my lead in the work of exploration beyond Itasca, which from the beginning had been the controlling incentive of our expedition, the grand objective towards which we bent all our energies. To stand at the source; to look upon the remotest rills and springs which contribute to the birth of the Great River of North America, to write 'Finis' in the volume opened by the renowned De Soto more than three hundred years ago, and in which Marquette, La Salle, Hennepin, La Hontan, Carver, Pike, Beltrami, Schoolcraft and Nicollet have successively inscribed their names, were quite enough to revive the drooping spirits of the most depressed.
"During our encampment on the island Chenowagesic again reminded me that he had planted corn there many years before, and that his wigwam once stood near the spot where we had pitched our tents. He also repeated what he had told me before launching the canoes at Leech Lake that the region about Lake Itasca was his hunting-ground, and that he was thoroughly acquainted with all the rivers, lakes and ponds within a hundred miles. He further said that Paul Beaulieu was in error concerning the source of the Great River, and led me to conclude that the primal reservoir was above and beyond Itasca, and that this lake was simply an expansion of the Mississippi, as are Bemidji, Cass, Winnibegoshish and several others.
"Fully convinced that the statements of Chenowagesic were entirely trustworthy, and knowing from past experience that he was perfectly reliable as a guide, we put our canoes into the water at eight o'clock, and at once began the work of coasting Itasca for its feeders. We found the outlets of six small streams, two having well-defined mouths, and four filtering into the lake through bogs. The upper end of the southwestern arm is heavily margined with rushes and swamp grass, and it was not without considerable difficulty that we forced our way through this natural barrier into the larger of the two open streams which flow into this end of the lake.
"Although perfectly familiar with the topography of the country, and entirely confident that he could lead us to the beautiful lake which he had so often described, Chenowagesic was for some moments greatly disturbed by the network of rushes in which we found ourselves temporarily entangled. Leaping from his canoe he pushed the rushes right and left with his paddle, and soon, to our great delight, threw up his hands and gave a characteristic Chippewa yell, thereby signifying that he had found the object of his search. Returning, he seized the bow of my canoe, and pulled it after him through the rushes out into the clear, glistening waters of the infant Mississippi, which, at the point of entering Itasca, is seven feet wide, and from twelve to fifteen inches deep.
"Lusty work with our paddles for half an hour brought us to a blockade of fallen timber. Determined to float in my canoe upon the surface of the lake towards which we were paddling, I directed the guides to remove the obstructions, and continue to urge the canoes rapidly forward, although opposed by a strong and constantly increasing current. Sometimes we found it necessary to lift the canoes over logs, and occasionally to remove diminutive sand-bars from the bed of the stream with our paddles. As we neared the head of this primal section of the mighty river, we could readily touch both shores with our hands at the same time, while the average depth of water in the channel did not exceed ten inches.
"Every paddle-stroke seemed to increase the ardor with which we were carried forward. The desire to see the actual source of a river so celebrated as the Mississippi, whose mouth had been reached nearly two centuries before, was doubtless the impelling motive. In their eagerness to obtain a first view of the beautiful lake toward which we were paddling, and greatly annoyed by the slow progress made in the canoes, my brother and Paine stepped ashore and proposed a race to the crest of the hill which Chenowagesic told them overhung the lake. To this proposition of my companions I made objection and insisted that all should see the goal of our expedition from the canoes. What had long been sought at last appeared suddenly. On pulling and pushing our way through a network of rushes similar to the one encountered on leaving Itasca, the cheering sight of a transparent body of water burst upon our view. It was a beautiful lake—the source of the 'Father of Waters.'
"A few moments later and our little flotilla of three canoes was put in motion, headed for a small promontory which we discerned at the opposite end of the lake. We paddled slowly across one of the purest and most tranquil sheets of water we had encountered in our voyage. Not a breath of air was stirring. We halted frequently to scan its shores, and to run our eyes along the verdure-covered hills which enclose its basin. These elevations are at a distance of from three to four miles, and are covered chiefly with white pines, intermingled with the cedar, spruce and tamarack. The beach is fringed with a mixed foliage of the evergreen species. At one point we observed pond lilies, and at another a small quantity of wild rice.
"As we neared the promontory towards which we were paddling, a deer was seen standing on the shore, and an eagle swept majestically over our heads with food for her young, which we soon discovered were securely lodged in the top of a tall pine. The water-fowl noticed upon the lake were apparently little disturbed by our presence, and seldom left the surface of the water.
"This lake is about a mile and a half in its greatest diameter, and would be nearly an oval in form, but for a single promontory which extends its shores into the lake so as to give it in outline the appearance of a heart. Its feeders are three boggy streams, two of which enter on the right and left of the headland, and have their origin in springs at the foot of sand-hills, from five to six miles distant. The third is but little more than a mile in length, has no clearly defined course, and is the outlet of a small lake situated in a marsh to the south-westward. These three creeks were named in the order of their discovery: Eagle, Excelsior and Deer. The small lake, which is the source of Eagle Creek, I called Alice, after my daughter.
"Having satisfied myself as to its remotest feeders, I called my companions into line at the foot of the promontory which overlooks the lake, and talked for a few moments of the Mississippi and its explorers, telling them I was confident that we were looking upon the True Source of the Great River; that we had completed a work begun by De Soto in 1541, and had corrected a geographical error of half a century's standing. Concluding my remarks, I requested a volley from their fire-arms for each member of the party, in commemoration of our discovery. When the firing ceased, Paine gave me a surprise by stepping to the front and proposing 'that the newly discovered lake be named "Glazier" in honor of the leader of the expedition.' The proposition was seconded by Moses Legard, the interpreter, and carried by acclamation, notwithstanding my protest that it should retain its Indian name, Pokegama.
"Much to the surprise of every one, as we were about closing our ceremonies, Chenowagesic assumed an oratorical attitude, and addressed me as follows in a few words of true Indian eloquence: 'My brother, I have come with you through many lakes and rivers to the head of the Father of Waters. The shores of this lake are my hunting-ground. Here I have had my wigwam and planted corn for many years. When I again roam through these forests, and look on this lake, source of the Great River, I will look on you.'
"The latitude of this lake is not far from 47 deg.. Its height above the sea is an object of geographical interest which, in the absence of actual survey, it may subserve the purposes of useful inquiry to estimate. From notes taken during the ascent it cannot be less than seven feet above Lake Itasca. Adding the estimate of 1,575 feet submitted by Schoolcraft in 1832, as the elevation of that lake, the Mississippi may be said to originate in an altitude of 1,582 feet above the Atlantic Ocean. Taking former estimates as the basis and computing reasonably through the western fork, its length may be placed at 3,184 miles. Assuming that the barometrical height of its source is 1,582 feet, it has a mean descent of over six inches per mile.
"At Lake Bemidji the Mississippi reaches its highest northing, which is in the neighborhood of 47 deg. 30'. The origin of the river in an untraveled and secluded region between Leech Lake and the Red River of the North, not less than a degree of latitude south of Turtle Lake, which was for a long time supposed to be the source, removes both forks of the stream outside the usual track of the fur-traders, and presents a good reason, perhaps, why its fountain-head has remained so long enveloped in uncertainty."
The information imparted in the foregoing extract brings the whole gist of the important discovery within the compass of a few paragraphs, and it will be readily seen from this clear description of the new-found lake that the source of the Mississippi is at last correctly located. Many others have attempted to find it: Schoolcraft was sent out by the Government especially for its discovery, but it remained for Captain Glazier to successfully accomplish an undertaking which had hitherto baffled the most determined explorers. This, too, he did entirely at his own expense, and with no other motive than such as an ardent search after truth inspires in ambitious minds. He had long doubted that Itasca was the source of our greatest river. He knew no other way of satisfying his doubt than by going himself to the remotest headwaters of the mighty stream. He therefore went there, for with him to think is to determine, to determine is to act. Friends tried to persuade him he was engaging in a useless and extravagant expedition, and those to whom he applied for information respecting the country through which he must pass warned him that he would have to undergo many hardships; but to all this advice he turned a deaf ear. His active, energetic, and enterprising temperament was proof against all fear of discomfort, and his desire to know the truth overruled every other feeling. And, when at last he stood by the beautiful lake, the goal of his search, all the trials and annoyances of his arduous journey sank into insignificance—lost in the depths of his content.
His companions gazed with delight upon the peaceful scene which lay before them; and, as they noted the peculiar outline of the lake, what wonder that the thought came—this was indeed the heart of the Mississippi, pulsating with life for the great stream flowing onward and ever onward, enriching and ennobling the land, until at last it loses itself, by reason of its own vastness, in the waters of the Ocean.
They rejoiced, too, that the first white man to stand at the fountain-head of America's greatest river was an American—an American who had fought bravely and suffered many privations for his country. And as they watched the eagle, whirling in his flight over their heads, they felt glad that he had chosen this spot for his home, in which to rear his young in the same proud, free spirit which made him so fit an emblem for their glorious land.
Much astonishment was expressed by those of the party who were aware of Schoolcraft's expedition in 1832, that he should have missed finding this lake so closely connected with Itasca, and various were the surmises as to the cause of this remarkable oversight. One plausible suggestion was, that the rushes and reeds had so obstructed the entrance of the stream into Itasca, that not having a previous knowledge of its whereabouts, there was nothing surprising in its being overlooked. By far the most probable theory, however, was advanced by Captain Glazier, who stated, quoting Schoolcraft himself as authority, that when he reached Itasca he was too much hurried to make a thorough exploration. He had made an engagement to meet some Indians in council at the mouth of the Crow-Wing River, fully seven days' journey from this point, and he had not more than the seven days to accomplish it. Accordingly, as his mind had been prepared by his guides all along to accept Itasca as the true source, he only stopped long enough to see and hurriedly coast the lake, and then returned to the Indian council on Crow-Wing River. This is Schoolcraft's own statement, and there can be no doubt that it is the true reason for his failure to locate the source correctly. He never saw the beautiful lake to the south of Itasca, fed by the springs and streams of the marshes which give birth to the Infant Mississippi.
Therefore, he could not know that Itasca was but an expansion of the stream, like other lakes in its onward course, a sudden growth, as it were, which gave promise of the vast proportions the mighty giant would hereafter assume. There would be something almost sad in his coming so near and yet missing the mark at which he had aimed, if it were not that he lived and died in the belief that he was right in his assertion that the great Father of Waters rose in the lake which he, oddly enough, named Itasca. Oddly, because Itasca is a name given by the Indians to the mysteries of their religion and necromantic arts, and Schoolcraft, by his decided statements in regard to the lake, succeeded in enveloping in mystery the true source for another fifty years. Why it should ever have been a mystery is a question often raised; but there can be no doubt that it is owing to the fact that no fur traders and but few Indians ever penetrate the boggy, swampy, lake-covered regions of Northern Minnesota.
Our explorers, having finished their survey of the lake, now disembarked and prepared to hold suitable and becoming ceremonies to celebrate their momentous discovery. First they drank of the clear, cool water to the health of Captain Glazier, who had led them on to making this grand achievement. The Captain then thanked them in a few eloquent and appropriate remarks for their good wishes and also for their faith in him, and the determination they had shown to stand by him until he had reached the goal he sought. He spoke, too, of the magnitude and importance of their discovery, of the knowledge it would add to the geographical lore of the country, and of the strangeness of the fact that the source of their mightiest river had so long been a disputed question. The cause of this he attributed to the peculiarities of the region in which it rose, the many lakes and swamps making much traveling impracticable; and recalling the hardships which they themselves had encountered, expressed his belief that it was not to be wondered at that earlier explorers had been deterred from making the venture at a time when civilization was even further remote than it was at present. He then recounted some of the exploits of the heroic old explorers, and, reminding his companions that three hundred years had passed away since white men first beheld the mighty stream by whose cradle they were now standing, he congratulated them on completing the work begun by De Soto, Marquette, La Salle, Hennepin and Joliet.
When he had finished Captain Glazier, true to his soldierly instincts, proposed firing six volleys over the lake, one in honor of each member of the party. This was accordingly done, and Mr. Paine closed the ceremonies by leading off with three hearty American cheers for "the discoverer and the discovery." The Indians chimed in with a Chippewa yell, and then, while the air was still reverberating with the sound of their voices, they all paused to take in once more the scene of their explorations.
DOWN THE GREAT RIVER.
Voyage from Source to Sea.—Three thousand miles in an open canoe.—"Pioneers of the Mississippi."—A thrilling lecture.—The long voyage begun.—Mosquitoes.—Hunger and exhaustion.—The Captain kills an otter.—Lakes Bemidji and Winnibegoshish.—An Indian missionary.—Wind-bound.—Chenowagesic bids farewell to the Captain.—Pokegama Falls.—Grand Rapids.—Meeting the first steamboat.—Aitkin.—Great enthusiasm.—The new canoes.—Leaving Aitkin.—Arrival at Little Falls.—Escorted in triumph to the town.—"Captain Glazier! A speech! A speech!"—Lake Pepin.—An appalling storm.—St. Louis.—Southern hospitality.—New Orleans.—Arrival at the Gulf of Mexico.—End of voyage.
Having decided to his entire satisfaction that the newly located lake was the true source of the Great River, Captain Glazier was ready to begin his descent of the stream, for, as yet, but a small portion of his great undertaking had been accomplished. True, he had done what had never been done before—he had penetrated into the innermost recesses of the mystery which had so long enshrouded the head-waters of the Mississippi, and traversed a part of the country where white man had never trod before; he had added greatly to the geographical knowledge of his country's mightiest river, and satisfied the spirit of investigation which had impelled him to begin this novel adventure; but the by no means least interesting, and at the same time, practical part of his voyage still lay before him. De Soto, Marquette, La Salle, Hennepin, Joliet and Schoolcraft, all had navigated but portions of the great flood of water to which they owe their renown; he would descend its entire course from its source in the wilds of Minnesota to its outlet in the Gulf of Mexico. He would become familiar with the most striking features of the country on either side, and study through personal intercourse the varying phases of American character and life, as he passed from the fur-bearing, lumber-dealing States of the North, by the vast wheat fields of the West, and finally reach the cotton and sugar plantations of the South. No one had ever attempted this before, and it is probable no one will ever attempt it again, for the perils of a voyage of three thousand miles in an open canoe are not purely imaginary. And yet this was the only way in which he could satisfactorily and practically accomplish his object of making careful and minute observations along the route. Then, too, being himself so much interested in all that concerned the great "Father of Waters," he wished to awaken in others a like interest, and to effect this prepared a lecture on the "Pioneers of the Mississippi," which he intended to deliver at every town of importance on both banks as he floated down the stream. "Pay tribute to those to whom tribute is due" is his motto, and so the tragic fate of De Soto, the sad but poetic death of Marquette, and the triumphant banner of La Salle, called forth from his ready pen a lecture replete with historical interest.
Standing, then, by the source of the mighty river, around which so many beautiful Indian legends cluster, and about which the white man has ever been curious, the Captain felt a natural throb of pride that so much of his great undertaking had been successfully achieved, and a hope that the future held further good in store for him.
Giving the order for embarkation the canoes were soon gliding across the water bound for Lake Itasca. Entering this lake, a short stop was made at Schoolcraft's Island in order to obtain the remainder of their luggage; after which they re-embarked, at three o'clock in the afternoon, and continued the descent of the river.
From Lake Itasca the Mississippi flows almost directly north, then takes a turn to the east, and finally sweeps with ever increasing volume south to the Gulf of Mexico. At first it quietly pursues its course between rich meadows, and promises easy and safe navigation, so that our little band of explorers after leaving Itasca expected to have a quiet and uneventful voyage until they reached the inhabited part of the country. Such was not the case, however, for they soon found their progress very much impeded by drift-wood, snags, rapids, and boulders of every size and description. They overcame these obstacles in various ways, all requiring much exertion and endurance, and many a time their patience was nearly exhausted. Sometimes they forced the canoes under the logs which lay across the stream, and again cut a passage-way through them. Now they removed the drift from their path and now were obliged to lift the canoes over it. A little further on a huge boulder would confront them, making it necessary to disembark and carry the boats around. Presently a dangerous rapid would be met, and in shooting it some member of the party would be precipitated into, the water, or perhaps a hole stove in one of the canoes. At last they were obliged to make a portage of about half a mile, and upon launching again, soon discovered that the principal obstructions had been overcome. This was a great relief to them, for the intolerable annoyance of swarms of mosquitoes which came in clouds about them, biting even through their clothing, was quite enough to bear patiently without having the hardships consequent upon such rugged voyaging to endure.
Laborious, however, as they found this unusually rough canoeing, and troublesome as were the mosquitoes, both trials sank into insignificance when compared with their ever present danger of starvation. It will be remembered how bravely all had decided, when they first made the startling discovery that their supplies were at a low ebb, to pursue their investigations even at the risk of running completely out of rations. The strictest economy had been observed ever since, but despite all their care they now found that unless they could reach a trading-post within a couple of days they would be compelled to subsist on such game and fish as they could capture; rather a precarious means of existence to say the least, especially as they had but a very few rounds of ammunition left. It was unanimously voted that Captain Glazier, who was by far the best marksman of the party, should occupy the bow of the first canoe, and gun in hand be ready to fire at any game which he had a reasonable chance of hitting. One day while he was thus keeping a sharp lookout for anything which gave promise of a meal, Chenowagesic pointed excitedly to a small, black spot just showing above the water, and told the Captain it was an otter. The Captain fired, and to the gratification of all, the animal turned over on its back dead. That day they were unable to bag anything else, and when they encamped for the night the Indians prepared the otter for supper. At first the white members of the party refused to share the meal, but hunger was too much for them, and so, conquering their prejudices, they satisfied their appetites with the meat, which probably resembles cat meat more nearly than any other kind. The next day the Indians managed to kill several ducks by driving them under the water and then spearing them with their paddles; and the Captain's brother, having improvised a very ingenious trolling hook, succeeded in catching two fish. The main part of their diet, however, for four long days, consisted simply of blue berries, and Captain Glazier became so weak from hunger and exhaustion that he was barely able to sit upright. At last they met an Indian, a few miles from Lake Bemidji, who supplied them with dried fish and other provisions, and that night they encamped on the shores of the lake.
The next day they pursued their voyage under more favorable circumstances, the larder being tolerably well supplied, the river free from obstructions, and flowing between beautiful groves and rich meadows. Late in the afternoon they reached Cass Lake, where they pitched their tents for the night, and the following day found them at Lake Winnibegoshish, the largest expansion of the Mississippi.
Their arrival at this lake was at a time when a strong south wind blew the waters into white-capped waves, which ran very high, and the canoes were nearly swamped before they could be forced into the little bay upon the shores of which the Indian village stands. This village consists of about a dozen wigwams and log-houses, and presents nothing more inviting than a fine view of this beautiful lake. An Indian missionary named Kit-chi-no-din is stationed here, and treated the party with marked courtesy and hospitality, although he could speak but very little English. During the two days in which they were wind-bound and obliged to remain inactive, the Captain took several meals with him, and once attended service in the little log-church of which he had been installed rector by Bishop Whipple.
During their enforced stay at Lake Winnibegoshish, Chenowagesic bade farewell to Captain Glazier and returned to his home at Leech Lake. Every effort was made by the Captain, who had found him invaluable as a guide, to persuade him to continue the voyage with them; but his mind was so filled with the legends he had heard of the Lower Mississippi that no inducement could prevail with him. The Indians of these northern regions very commonly believe that the eddies and whirlpools found in the river further down its course are mysterious monsters, and that the surrounding country is full of strange animals and fearful sights.
On the third day of their stay at the village, the wind moderated somewhat and they made an attempt to coast along part of the lake, hoping to reach the outlet in that way. But after struggling with the waves all the morning they came to a small inlet, and were forced by the again increasing wind to seek shelter in it.
The next morning another start was made, and, after some very rough paddling, the party at length arrived at the outlet of the lake, and from thence pursued the even tenor of their way without any further interruption until they reached Pokegama Falls, two miles and a half above Grand Rapids. Here they found a number of white men, the first they had seen since leaving Leech Lake, encamped and engaged in building a small steamboat to run up to Lake Winnibegoshish. After a portage around the Falls they entered Grand Rapids, where they were rejoiced to find a post-office, a hotel called the Potter House, and a few other evidences of civilization, such as a comfortable bed, the first they had slept in for many days.
After leaving Grand Rapids nothing of any importance occurred until Aitkin was reached, four days later, unless we except meeting the first steamboat they had seen on the river. This was quite an exciting event, for the passengers on the boat knowing from the papers that Captain Glazier's party were on their way to Aitkin, recognized them, and testified their pleasure in the meeting by cheering, waving their handkerchiefs and hats, and calling after the explorers kind wishes for their safety and success.
At Aitkin, the most northern town on the Mississippi, a brief rest was taken before the Captain embarked on the second stage of his seaward voyage. He had now entered the bounds of civilization, and from this point the principal incidents of his expedition were such as would naturally occur in a country where the people delight to honor enterprise, courage and ambition. All along the route great enthusiasm was evinced. When it was announced through the medium of the press at what time he would reach a given point, the inhabitants flocked to the landing-place to do him honor; and many, more impatient than the rest, would put out in canoes and skiffs to meet him on the way. Upon disembarking he would be escorted to his hotel, usually preceded by a band playing "Hail to the Chief" or other appropriate airs, and wherever he delivered his lecture large audiences greeted him, curious to see and hear the man who had at last discovered the source of the Mississippi, and who had come so far on its mighty waters in a frail canoe. Everywhere he charmed all who met him by the courtesy of his manners, the eloquence and interest of his conversation, and the modesty with which he spoke of his important undertaking. Some, indeed, were disappointed by his lecture, having hoped to hear an account of his discoveries. But while Captain Glazier might with perfect propriety have spoken of his own exploits after recounting in glowing terms those of the old explorers, he is too modest and reserved to say aught which might in the least seem to detract from the achievements of his heroic predecessors. Therefore, as his subject was the "Pioneers of the Mississippi," he spoke only of their exploits, giving them in eloquent words their just tribute of praise, and leaving it to others to say that what they had only begun he had triumphantly finished.
Upon leaving Aitkin on the fifteenth of August the birch bark canoes, with the exception of the one used by the Captain himself, were abandoned, their places being taken by a Rushton canoe, named "Alice," after his daughter, and a Racine canoe of the Rob Roy pattern. Their departure from this thriving little city was the signal for an enthusiastic demonstration on the part of its inhabitants, who congregated on the shore to see them off. Captain Glazier acknowledged the compliment in a short speech, and then, stepping into his canoe, the little flotilla paddled away amidst the cheers of the multitude.
From this point the descent of the river was comparatively easy. Except when rainy weather or violent winds prevailed, the voyagers found much to enjoy in the novel life they were leading, the varying scenery they met, and the altogether different phase which the Mississippi, the great waterway of internal commerce in North America, presented to them.
At Brainerd the Captain delivered his lecture for the first time, to a crowded and appreciative audience. From Brainerd the party dropped down the river to the antiquated town of Crow-Wing, opposite the mouth of the Crow-Wing River. Remaining here over night they re-embarked next morning, and gliding down the stream arrived at about three o'clock in the afternoon at a point just above Little Falls. Here they were met by a number of row-boats and escorted to the town. As the little fleet approached the land the shores were seen to be crowded with people, and the band struck up, merrily "A Life on the Ocean Wave," "See the Conquering Hero comes," and other complimentary airs. As soon as a landing was effected, cries of "Captain Glazier! Captain Glazier! a speech! a speech!" went up, and in response to the demand the Captain made a few remarks. First, thanking them for the kind interest manifested in his voyage, he continued: "I find a great deal of speculation as I go down the river in regard to the objects of this expedition, and it may be well to state what they really are. My desire is to study thoroughly the people, industries, and general features of the grandest valley in the world—a valley which extends from the great watershed almost on the northern boundary of the United States to the Gulf of Mexico, a distance of three thousand miles, and where the occupations of the people change from the lumbering and fur-hunting of the north to the cotton and sugar-raising of the south. To do this carefully and at leisure I take a method of traveling by which I can devote as much time as is necessary to every section of the river, and by which I can observe from a standpoint not reached by the ordinary traveler. This, ladies and gentlemen, is why you see me to-day descending the Mississippi in a canoe."
The Captain was then escorted to his hotel by the band, and in the evening delivered his lecture at Vasaly Hall, continuing his voyage the following day. Between this point and Minneapolis numerous and dangerous rapids were met, all of which were passed in safety, and the Falls of St. Anthony were reached without accident. Below these Falls the scenery was very beautiful, although the immense number of rain storms interfered sadly with the pleasure of sight-seeing.
When the party arrived at Lake Pepin, a beautiful body of water, thirty miles in length and three in breadth, and surrounded by majestic bluffs, they found navigation almost impossible. The winds sweeping down between the bluffs caused the waves to rise so high that even the river steamers had been compelled to tie up and wait for the storm to subside. The Captain, however, had an engagement to lecture at Lake City, half way down the lake, and as he had never yet failed to appear at the appointed time he now insisted upon attempting to reach his destination. The river men in vain endeavored to dissuade him from his purpose. It took all day to make a pull of sixteen miles, and many a time it seemed as if the frail canoes would certainly be swamped; but nevertheless they arrived at Lake City in time for the lecture. And it may be mentioned here that in this voyage, as in his journey from Ocean to Ocean, he seldom failed to keep an engagement to lecture. No matter what the stress of weather or unforeseen accident which would have delayed most men, he surmounted every obstacle and invariably appeared on the platform at the appointed hour.
Bad weather, violent squalls, and dangerous rapids were of frequent occurrence, but nothing succeeded in crippling the energy which Captain Glazier had all along exhibited. His mind was bent upon reaching the Gulf in his canoe, and he pursued his course unmindful of the dangers which he almost daily encountered. At La Crosse the expedition was reduced in number to the Captain and Mr. Paine, who, for the remainder of the voyage, used the "Alice."
St. Louis was reached on the eighth of October, and the voyagers were heartily welcomed by the various boat-clubs of the city and by many influential citizens. On October the tenth, they re-embarked and continued their voyage towards the Gulf.
From here Cairo, Memphis, Vicksburg, Natchez, and Baton Rouge were the chief halting-places, although many a time night overtook them before they could reach a town or city, and then they would be entertained at some plantation near the shore with true southern hospitality. Everywhere they were received with the utmost cordiality. The various cities along the banks of the river seemed to vie with each other in doing honor to Captain Glazier; the press spoke in the highest terms of his expedition and of his great success, and every opportunity was afforded him to make the most minute observations respecting the customs, manner of life, business enterprise, and political condition of the people of the different States. These observations he proposed to embody in a work to be entitled "Down the Great River"—a work which, in the light of the Captain's well-known facility as a writer, cannot fail to be both interesting and instructive.
New Orleans was reached at last, but as the Captain intended to return there after visiting Port Eads, no stop was made, and the "Alice" paddled past the Crescent City, arriving at the Jetties on the fifteenth of November, one hundred and seventeen days after beginning the descent of the river from its new found source, Lake Glazier.
Many citizens of Port Eads had assembled in small boats at the entrance to the Gulf to see the "Alice" and her gallant crew in the act of completing their long voyage. Cheer upon cheer rent the air as the beautiful little canoe, bearing aloft at the bow a pennant with the inscription "Alice," and at the stern the glorious "Stars and Stripes," paddled from the mouth of the river out into the wide expanse of the Gulf. Guns were discharged, flags enthusiastically waved, and every possible demonstration made which could give expression to the excitement of the occasion.
Reaching the beacon, the Captain and Mr. Paine disembarked, and, clambering up on the wall, gazed out on the salt waters of the Gulf, hardly able to realize that this was actually the goal towards which they had been slowly paddling for almost four months.
Thus ended the longest canoe voyage on record. De Soto, Marquette, La Salle, Hennepin, Joliet, and Schoolcraft, had all navigated sections of the Mississippi, but Captain Glazier was the first to traverse its entire course, from the remotest headwaters to the outlet, a distance of three thousand one hundred and eighty-four miles. This, too, he had done in a frail canoe, amidst heavy rains and violent winds, in heat and cold, in sunshine and in storm, steadily pursuing his course, unfaltering in his purpose, deterred by no danger, determined only on success. In the wilds of Minnesota he stood by the beautiful little lake whose placid bosom first nourishes the infant stream. Paddling onward with the current, ever increasing in strength and volume, he passed from the dense forests of the North where nature holds undisputed sway, into the realms of a civilization growing daily greater and greater. Finally he reached the broad Gulf, in which the "Father of Waters," now strong in the strength of maturity, and vast in his proportions, pours his mighty flood. Every variety of climate, soil and production came under his observation, and all the striking peculiarities of the Northern, Western and Southern character. No other man had ever accomplished this, and therefore it is not difficult to imagine that Captain Glazier's emotions, when he first saw the salt spray of the Gulf dash high over the seaward wall of the Jetties, were of an elevated order, and lifted him for the time above the plane of every-day life. His long voyage was completed, the objective at which he had aimed was reached, and his plans had all been attended with success. Of little consequence now were the dangers he had encountered, the annoyances which had beset him, the difficulties he had surmounted. He was proud of the fact that he was the first to stand at the fountain-head of his country's grandest river, and was the first to traverse its entire course despite the turbulent waters and dangerous whirlpools which threatened often to engulf him, and now at its outlet could write "finis" to the great work of his life. Few men in the world can say as much—for the energy, perseverance, unfaltering will and indomitable courage which characterize Willard Glazier are of rare occurrence, and entitle him to a prominent position in the ranks of America's distinguished sons.
RECEPTION BY THE NEW ORLEANS ACADEMY OF SCIENCES.
Captain Glazier returns to New Orleans.—A general ovation.— Flattering opinions of the press.—Introduction to the Mayor.— Freedom of the City tendered.—Special meeting of the New Orleans Academy of Sciences.—Presentation of the "Alice" to the Academy.—Captain Glazier's address.—The President's Response.— Resolutions of thanks and appreciation passed.—Visit to the Arsenal of the Washington Artillery.—Welcome by the Old Guard of the Louisiana Tigers.—Pleasant memories of the "Crescent City."
After standing for some time looking out upon the vast expanse of water which lay before him, Captain Glazier hailed a passing boat and, towing the "Alice" after them, he and Mr. Paine were rowed back to Port Eads. Here they were very hospitably entertained until the arrival of the homeward-bound steamship "Margaret," which they boarded and on which they returned to New Orleans. There they met with the most cordial reception; people everywhere were curious to see Captain Glazier, and anxious to show their appreciation of his enterprising spirit and the success which had attended his last remarkable exploit. The press, not only of New Orleans, but all through the Mississippi Valley, gave glowing accounts of his voyage and of the reception tendered him at its conclusion. The Mayor offered him the freedom of the city, and the New Orleans Academy of Sciences gave him a public reception, at which resolutions were passed recognizing the important results of his expedition, and thanking him for the beautiful canoe "Alice," which he had presented to that learned body.
The following account of this reception is taken from the "St. Louis Republican" of November twenty-eighth, and is presented to the reader because, being the testimony of an eye-witness, it cannot fail to give a clear idea of the manner in which the scientists of the city, and the people generally, appreciated Captain Glazier and the work which he had accomplished.
[Correspondence of the Republican.]
"New Orleans, November 23, 1881.
"The termination of the noted and unprecedented exploring expedition and canoe trip of the Soldier-Author, Captain Willard Glazier, extending from his new-found true source of the mighty Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico, culminated, after one hundred and seventeen days' voyage, in a very general and complimentary recognition and ovation on the part of the officials and distinguished citizens of New Orleans. In company with Dr. J. S. Copes, President of the Academy of Sciences, the successful explorer was presented to his honor, Mayor Shakespear, and was by him warmly welcomed, and the freedom of the city generously tendered him. In appreciative recognition of the hospitality extended him the distinguished soldier, author, and explorer, felt it a pleasing as well as an appropriate opportunity to present his beautiful canoe, which had safely carried him through his long and perilous voyage, to the New Orleans Academy of Sciences. The occasion of the presentation and acceptance was one of high order and much manifest interest. In presenting the canoe Captain Glazier tendered the following letter:
"St. Charles Hotel, New Orleans, November 21, 1881. Joseph S. Copes, M. D. President New Orleans Academy of Sciences:
Dear Sir:—I have just concluded upon the border of the State of Louisiana, a voyage of observation and exploration; and as you have expressed considerable interest in the results of my expedition, and manifested a desire to possess the canoe in which the explorations were made, I find pleasure in presenting it to your honorable society as a souvenir of my voyage and discoveries.
During this canoe journey of over three thousand miles, beginning at the headwaters of the Mississippi and extending to the Gulf of Mexico, I had the satisfaction of locating the source of the Great River which we have traversed, and feel a pride in having corrected a geographical error of half a century's standing.
I will not now enter into a detailed account of my explorations on the Upper Mississippi, but shall take the earliest opportunity of transmitting to your secretary a complete history of the voyage, which will be issued in book form as soon as the matter can be prepared for publication.
Very respectfully yours, Willard Glazier.
"A special meeting of the Academy of Sciences was held at No. 46 Carondelet street, Dr. J. S. Copes, president, in the chair, for the purpose of receiving from Captain Willard Glazier the handsome cedar canoe 'Alice,' with which he navigated the Mississippi River from Aitkin to the Gulf.
"By invitation Captain Glazier gave an account of his explorations on the Upper Mississippi and especially of that section of country beyond Lake Itasca, which body of water has hitherto been considered the fountain-head of the Great River.
"Dr. Copes in the name of the Academy thanked Captain Glazier for his valuable gift, which would be highly prized, and then congratulated the explorer upon his contribution to American geographical knowledge, comparing him with De Soto, Marquette, La Salle, Hennepin, and Joliet, whose highest fame was connected with discoveries relating to the Mississippi.
"In the course of his remarks the learned doctor said that De Soto penetrated the continent of North America in pursuit of gold and accidentally discovered the Mississippi. Marquette, the zealous missionary, traversed the river from the mouth of the Wisconsin to the mouth of the Arkansas. La Salle pursued his explorations from the mouth of the Illinois to the Gulf, his sole aim seeming to be the conquest of North America in the name of the King of France. Hennepin explored but a small section of the stream, extending from the mouth of the Wisconsin to St. Anthony's Falls, while Captain Glazier has made the important discovery of its primal reservoir and traversed its entire length from source to sea.
"The members of the Academy listened with great interest to Captain Glazier's graphic account of his discovery, and also to the intellectual and historical address of Dr. Copes.
"Dr. J. R. Walker then offered the following resolutions:
Resolved:—That the thanks of this Academy are due and are hereby tendered to Captain Willard Glazier for the donation of his beautiful canoe "Alice," and for the brief narrative of his explorations at the source of the Mississippi River, and of his voyage thence to the Gulf of Mexico.
Resolved:—That this Academy not only gratefully accepts this handsome gift, but promises to preserve and cherish it as a souvenir of Captain Glazier's high qualities as an explorer and contributor to the increase of American geographical knowledge.
"Mr. H. Dudley Coleman moved as an amendment thereto that a copy of the resolutions be appropriately written and framed, and presented to Captain Glazier, and that a committee of three be appointed to prepare the same in accordance therewith.
"The resolutions as amended were unanimously adopted, when Dr. Copes appointed as the committee, Messrs. Coleman, Walker, and Blanchard.
"The suggestion made by Mr. Coleman that the canoe remain at the arsenal of the Battalion Washington Artillery until such time as the Academy prepare a suitable place for it was acceded to.
"At the conclusion of the meeting Mr. Coleman escorted Captain Glazier to the Washington Artillery Arsenal, and introduced him to Colonel J. B. Richardson, commanding the battalion, who accepted for the command the care of the canoe, and extended to Captain Glazier the hospitalities of the battalion during his stay in the city. Colonel Richardson and Mr. Coleman then took him around the arsenal and showed him its attractive features."
* * * * *
It will be readily seen from this letter that the members of the New Orleans Academy of Sciences were much impressed with the importance of the discovery Captain Glazier had made. The resolutions which they passed were afterwards handsomely framed and sent to him at St. Louis.
Among the many courtesies which were tendered the Captain during his stay in New Orleans, he perhaps felt most deeply the royal welcome which was given him by the Old Guard of the Louisiana Tigers. In his own words "they could not do too much" for him, and when we remember that only twenty years have passed away since these brave men and the gallant Union soldier fought on opposite sides on the battlefields of Virginia, it cannot be wondered at that he was much impressed with the cordiality of his reception by his former foes.
At the headquarters of the Washington Artillery, too, he found many who as Confederate officers and soldiers had formerly been his opponents in the war, but nothing could exceed the heartiness of their welcome and the good-fellowship which they displayed. They showed him their old battle-flags still religiously kept, but a moment afterwards pointed to the Stars and Stripes which occupied a prominent position in the room. Altogether Captain Glazier found it difficult to realize that there had ever been other than the most cordial feeling between the North and South, and this as much as anything else tended to make his stay in New Orleans a pleasure which he will long remember.
BEFORE THE MISSOURI HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
Return to St. Louis.—Lecture at Mercantile Library Hall.—Brilliant audience.—The Missouri Historical Society present.—Eloquent introduction by Judge Todd.—"Pioneers of the Mississippi."—Presentation of the "Itasca" to the Historical Society.—Remarks of Captain Silas Bent on accepting the canoe.—Congratulations of the audience.—Closing scene.
On leaving New Orleans Captain Glazier returned to St. Louis, having an engagement there to deliver his lecture on the "Pioneers of the Mississippi." He had been unable to remain long enough for this purpose during his previous visit to the city on his way down the river, as winter was rapidly approaching and it was expedient to reach the Gulf as soon as possible. Therefore, as many were anxious to hear a lecture which had been so highly spoken of by the press of other cities, he had been induced to return with this object in view.
He was also desirous of presenting one of his canoes, the "Itasca," to the Missouri Historical Society in recognition of the unbounded hospitality he had enjoyed at the hands of the citizens of St. Louis, and it was decided that the donation of the canoe, a beautiful specimen of the Rob Roy pattern, should take place on the night of the lecture.
Accordingly, on the evening of January fourteenth, a large audience consisting of members of the Historical Society, Academy of Sciences, clergy, officers and teachers of the public schools, and the various boat clubs of the city, assembled at Mercantile Library Hall to listen to his thrilling lecture on the pioneer explorers of the Mississippi, and to witness the formalities of the presentation.
At eight o'clock, Captain Glazier, accompanied by Judge Albert Todd, an eminent lawyer, and vice-president of the Historical Society, made his appearance on the platform, and, after the storm of applause which greeted their entry had subsided, Judge Todd stepped to the front and introduced the lecturer in the following terms:—
Mark Twain wrote that in his oriental travels he visited the grave of our common ancestor, Adam, and as a filial mourner he copiously wept over it. To me, the grave of our common ancestress, Eve, would be more worthy of my filial affection; but instead of weeping over it, I should proudly rejoice by reason of her irrepressible desire for knowledge. She boldly gratified this desire, and thereby lifted Adam up from the indolent, browsing life that he seemed disposed and content to pass in the "Garden," and gave birth to that spirit of inquiry and investigation which is developing and elevating their posterity to "man's pride of place"—"a little lower than the angels," by keeping them ever discontented with the status quo, and constantly pressing on to the "mark of their high calling" beneath the blazing legend "Excelsior." It is the ceaseless unrest of the spirit, one of the greatest evidences of the soul's immortality, that is continually contracting the boundaries of the unknown in geography and astronomy, in physics and metaphysics, in all their varied departments. Of those pre-eminently illustrating it in geography were Jason and his Argonauts; Columbus, De Gama and Magellan; De Soto, Marquette and La Salle; Cabot and Cook; Speke, Baker, Livingstone and Franklin; and our own Ledyard, Lewis, Clarke, Kane, Hall and Stanley. And this evening will appear before you another of these irrepressible discontents who would know what is still hidden at any risk or privation.
Impelled by this spirit of enterprise in search of Truth, Captain Willard Glazier has discovered, at last, the true source of our grand and peerless river, the "Father of Waters," down which he has floated and paddled in frail canoes, a distance of more than three thousand miles, to its mouth in the Gulf of Mexico. One of these canoes is now placed here in your view, and will be presented to-night by its navigator to our Historical Society.
Nearly two hundred years ago La Salle discovered the mouth of the Mississippi, yet only now in this year of grace, 1881, was ascertained its true fountain source.
This, the latest achievement of Captain Glazier, is only in the natural course of his antecedents. Born as late as 1841, he has already gone through the experiences of the Adamic labors of a tiller of the soil, the hard toils of the student and of the successful teacher; of the dashing and brilliant cavalry officer in the Union army through the whole period of our late war, from its disastrous beginning to its successful ending; of the sufferings of capture and imprisonment in the notorious "Libby" and other prisons, and of a daring and perilous escape from their cruel walls; of an adventurous tourist on horseback through the most civilized and savage portions of our continent, beginning with the feet of his horse in the waters of the Atlantic, and ending with their splash in the waters of the Pacific. He delivered lectures along his route wherever a civilized audience could be collected, and suffered capture by the Indians, with all its sensational romance and hideous prospects.
From the material of these antecedents he has written and published several books of singular interest and national value.
From this brief sketch we would naturally expect to see a stalwart man, massive and powerful in form and muscle. Our conception of men of big deeds is that they also are big. But David was a stripling when he slew Goliath of Gath. Napoleon was characterized by the society ladies of the period of his early career as "Puss in Boots." Our own Fremont and Eads would seem at sight capable of only the ordinarily exposed duties of life. Of like physique is the subject of this introduction.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is now my pleasant privilege to introduce to your acquaintance Captain Willard Glazier as the lecturer for the evening.
At the close of Judge Todd's introduction, Captain Glazier began his instructive historic lecture on the "Pioneers of the Mississippi," holding the attention of all present by the interest of his subject and the eloquence of his delivery. Beginning with De Soto, the discoverer of the Great River, he gave an account of his early life and adventures, of his ambition to found an empire like that of Cortez, and of his arrival at the mighty stream in whose waters he soon found his final resting-place.
Marquette, the self-sacrificing missionary, was brought vividly before the mind's eye of the hearer as the Captain described in glowing terms the zeal with which he preached the Gospel to the poor benighted Indians, and drew a picture with all its poetical surroundings of his death and burial in the wilderness.
La Salle came next, pushing onward down the river until he planted his triumphant banner on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, and took possession of the surrounding country in the name of the King of France. Hennepin and Joliet then claimed the attention of the eloquent speaker, and their exploits were clearly and forcibly recounted in graphic language. Other explorers were mentioned, but these formed the ground-work of the lecture—a lecture replete with historical interest, and crowded with such a vivid portrayal of incidents that from beginning to end one can see as in a panorama the Great River and all the mighty men whose fame is indissolubly connected with the history of its waters.
At the conclusion of the lecture the following letter to the President of the Historical Society was read:
1310 Olive Street, St. Louis, January 14, 1882.
Edwin Harrison, Esq., President Missouri Historical Society:
Dear Sir:—In my recent canoe voyage down the Mississippi, it was my good fortune to receive many courtesies at the hands of the press, boat clubs, and other citizens of St. Louis. This, coupled with the fact that you have expressed considerable interest in the result of my explorations, inclines me to present to you the "Itasca," one of the canoes used in the expedition, for the Museum of your Society, as a memento of my voyage and discoveries.
During this tour of observation and exploration, extending from the headwaters of the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico, I had the satisfaction of locating the true source of the mighty stream down which we paddled our canoes to the sea.
I am not now in a position to give you a detailed account of my explorations on the Great River, but shall avail myself of the earliest opportunity to transmit to your Secretary a complete history of the voyage, which will be issued in book form as soon as the matter can be put in proper shape for publication.
Very truly yours, Willard Glazier.
In response to this letter Captain Silas Bent, late of the United States Navy, accepted for the Society the canoe in these words:
Captain Glazier:—It becomes my pleasant duty to accept for the Missouri Historical Society this beautiful canoe, which has itself become historic by reason of the service it has rendered you. It shall be deposited with other treasured relics in our museum.
I have also to express to you the high appreciation in which the Society holds the valuable contributions to geographical knowledge resulting from your explorations among the headwaters of the Mississippi River, and your discovery of the remotest lake that contributes to the perennial birth of this hydra-headed "Father of Waters," whose Genesis near the Arctic regions gives it a length of more than three thousand miles to the tropical gulf, to which it bears upon its ample bosom in safety the freightage of an empire.
I desire, too, to thank you for the interesting lecture just given us upon the achievements of the heroic old explorers, who have in centuries past preceded you in investigations of the characteristics of this river. But whilst past investigations have made us familiar with the general character of the stream, and the peculiarities of its many mouths, yet we know very little of its source; and should be gratified I am sure if you could give us this evening a brief account of the circumstances attending your explorations in that direction, and of the difficulties you had to encounter in the accomplishment of your object.