Sunday, November 7, 2010

Heading West As Did Josiah Gregg

Because we too crossed the Arkansas river near the Canadian fork in modern day Oklahoma.

An 1844 book by Josiah Gregg, Commerce of the prairies or Journal of a Sante Fe Trader:

(Cherokee Bankrupt Law)
On the 28th of April we crossed the Arkansas river a few miles above the mouth of the Canadian fork. We had only proceeded a short distance beyond when a Cherokee shop-keeper came up to us with an attachment for debt against a free mulatto, whom we had engaged as teamster. The poor fellow had no alternative but to return with the importunate creditor, who committed him at once to the care of 'Judge Lynch' for trial. We ascertained afterwards that he had been sentenced to 'take the benefit of the bankrupt law' after the manner of the Cherokees of that neighborhood. This is done by stripping and tying the victim to a tree; when each creditor, with a good cowhide or hickory switch in his hand, scores the amount of the bill due upon his bare back. One stripe for every dollar due is the usual process of 'whitewashing,' and as the application of the lash is accompanied by all sorts of quaint remarks, the exhibition affords no small merriment to those present, with the exception, no doubt, of the delinquent himself. After the ordeal is over, the creditors declare themselves perfectly satisfied: nor could they, as is said, ever be persuaded thereafter to receive one red cent of the amount due, even if it were offered to them. As the poor mulatto was also in our debt, and was perhaps apprehensive that we might exact payment in the same currency, he never showed himself again.

(Return of the Dragoons)
This was on the 7th of June. About noon, Lieut. [James M.] Bowman and his command finally took leave of us, and at the same time we resumed our forward march. This separation was truly painful: not so much on account of the loss we were about to experience, in regard to the protection afforded us by the troops (which, to say the truth, was more needed now than it had ever been before), as for the necessity of parting with a friend, who had endeared himself to us all by his affable deportment, his social manners and accommodating disposition. Ah! little did we think then that we should never see that gallant officer more! (p. 41)

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