Documenting the American South Logo
Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Journal of William Byrd, Richard Fitzwilliam, and William Dandridge during the survey of the North Carolina/Virginia boundary
Byrd, William, 1674-1744; Fitzwilliam, Richard; Dandridge, William
September 19, 1728 - November 22, 1728
Volume 02, Pages 782-798

[B. P. R. O. B. T. Virginia. Vol. 19. R. 125.]

September 19th The Commissioners on the part of Virginia having made the necessary preparations for continuing the dividing line between this Colony & North Carolina arrived after a Journey of 3 days near the place where the said Line was discontinued in April last. They found three of the Carolina Commissioners on the Spot, with whom they concerted the proper measures to carry on the business with effect.

Septr 20 This being the day agreed on for our meeting, it was spent in fixing our baggage & assembling the men who were to attend us. We examined their Arms, & made proof of the powder which had been provided for the Expedition. Our bread was hindred from coming up by the rain wch fell two days ago: but to prevent being delayed by such a disappointmt the men had been ordered to furnish themselves with provisions for ten days Mr Moseley the fourth Commissioner for North Carolina join'd us in the afternoon, but their Surveyor came not to us till several days after.

21. We dispacht away the Surveyors about 9 in the morning who with all their diligence could not carry the Line further than three miles & 176 poles, because the low grounds were covered with thickets. In this distance they cros'd Maherin River the fourth time. In the mean-while

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the Commissioners march'd with the baggage (which could not pass thro' those difficult ways) about 10 miles, to a plantation belonging to John Hill with design to wait there for the Surveyors, and the men that attended them.

22. This being Sunday we rested the men & the horses. Many of the Neighbouring Inhabitants came to hear Divine Service, which was a rarity in those parts, & brought Eleven children to be christened. In the afternoon the bread arrived in our Camp under a guard of 3 men, which had been retarded by the rain, but such precautions were taken, that it received no damage thereby.

23. We continued in our Camp, but sent the Surveyors & ten men to the place where they left off on Saturday. The Grounds thro' which the Line passed were so intolerably full of bushes, that they could carry it only four miles and 5 poles. This days work cut Maherin the 5th & last time, & our people were glad to quit of a River whose Meanders had given them so much fatigue & perplexity. It rained a little in the evening, but very hard in the night with a violent storm of thunder & lightening. Our men kill'd four wild Turkeys.

24. So soon as the men could dry their blankets, we sent out the Surveyors who by the advantage of better ground, advanced the line 7 miles & 52 yards. However the baggage not being very dry, we all thought it proper to remain with the rest of the people in the same Camp believing we might easily overtake the Surveyors by the next day in the evening. We sent out some of our most expert gunners, who shot four more Wild Turkeys. This part of the country being very proper for Stock, the people live in great plenty with very little labour. Amongst many other good things they make tolerable Cheese, and have very fat Mutton. Our Chaplain Christened another Child.

25. The Surveyors met with pretty clear woods, & pusht on the Line 7 miles & 40 poles. The Commissioners moved with the baggage & the rest of the men, with which they marched about 12 miles & encamped on Beaver-pond Creek. The Surveyors finished their days work near the same place. On our way hither one of the men killed a small Rattle snake with only two Rattles. These vipers remain in vigour generally until towards the end of this Month, & sometimes later, if the weather continue anything warm. And therefore least any of our men might have the misfortune to be bit by them, we had provided no less than three sorts of Rattle Snake root, made up in proper doses.

26. We hurried away the Surveyors without loss of time, & they ran the Line 10 miles and 160 poles. By the way the Chain carriers killed

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two large Rattle snakes, which providentially had hurt none of the three persons that had slept over them. However one of these serpents had struck with great fury at a horse, but by mistake touched only his hoof, and did him no damage. Before we set off this morning two children were baptized. About four in the afternoon we encampt upon Cabanbranch which discharges its waters into Fountain's Creek, so called from the name of an Indian Trader who had been drown'd in it. Upon our way we saw several meadows and Branches full of Reeds, in which Cattle will keep themselves fat great part of the winter. But the hogs do great damage to both by rooting them up.

27. Our Surveyors got to work about ten o'clock, & meeting with clear woods carryed the Line 9 Miles & 104 poles We followed with the baggage about 11, leaving three of the Carolina Commissioners and their attendants to wait the coming up of the Cart on which they had loaded the greatest part of their provisions. We followed the Line with all Diligence, crossing just Pea-hill Creek, and not long after Lizard Creek, which last emptys itself into Roanoke River. Here we halted till our Chaplain baptized five Children, & then proceeded as far as Pigeon roost Creek, where we took up our Quarters, having only Mr Moseley of the Commissioners of Carolina along with us.

28. We sent out the Surveyors early but they could forward the Line no farther than 6 miles & 121 poles, by reason of the very uneven grounds near Roanoke River, over which the Line past in this days work. The River is 49 poles wide in this place, & has a swift stream of very clear water. The great falls of it lye near 20 miles lower, tho' there are many smaller falls above. It forks about 18 miles higher than where the Line intersected it. The two branches differ not much in breadth, one runs away about N. W. and heads not far from the source of Appomatuck River, and the other stretches away pretty near west, & hides its head in the mountains. We did not follow the Surveyors till after ten, being detained in our Camp to Christian 6 Children. We hutted at a Plantation belonging to Majr Munford under the care of Miles Riley, whence we met with many Refreshments. From thence we continued our journey to the Canoe landing upon Roanoake where we and our baggage were ferried over, but we ordered the horses to the Ford near a mile higher, which leads to the Indian trading path. We landed at another Plantation belonging to Majr Munford on the south shore of this River, where we pitched our Tent. One of our men put a large Rattlesnake to death, having a squirrel in its belly, the head of which was already digested. Another less viper of this sort was killed by one of the Chain carriers.

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All these instances prove plainly, that the deferring the time of our meeting on this business till the 20th Instant was both prudent and necessary.

29. We had Divine service & a sermon, at which several of the neighbours assisted. We Concluded all with baptizing of five Children. About four in the afternoon the Commissrs who had stayed behind came up with us. In the evening five of the Saponie Indians arrived in our Camp & offered their service to attend us on the line. We had sent to Christanna for two of their ablest huntsmen to go along with us in order to supply us with meat, that our men might not be drawn off from their business, & struggle too much. This was the more necessary because we had put the Government to no other Charge for provisions but only Bread, trusting to Providence for meat with which the woods abounded. Of these five Indians we hired only two, who accepted of the moderate Terms we proposed to them. It rained hard about noon & dispersed our Congregation, most of which had no shelter but the Heavens.

30. The rain which fell in the night had made everything so wet, that we could not send out the Surveyors till noon. For this reason they were able to proceed no further than 4 miles 220 poles. About two miles from our Camp we passed over Haw Tree Creek & in our way traversed poisoned fields, and very barren ground. We also crossed the path in which the Indian Traders go to traffick with the Cattabaws and other Indian Nations, which lye to the So West, we killed a bear so lean that none of the men would eat it.

October 1st The Surveyors went out early, & by the benefit of clear woods and level ground Carried the Line 12 miles & 12 poles. We forded over great Creek not far from our last Camp & between 7 & 8 miles further cross'd Nut Bush Creek, so called from the many Hazles that grow upon it. We encampt on a branch that runs into Nut Bush Creek. The Surveyors taking advantage of a clear night try'd the variation & found it something more than 2° 30'; so that it did not diminish by approaching the mountains, or advancing towards the West, or by encreasing our distance from the sea, but continued much the same that we had found it at Corotuck. One of the Indians shot a large Fawn but not very fat.

2. The Surveyors hasted away by 9 o'clock & ran the Line 9 miles 254 poles Little more than three miles from our last Camp we forded a Creek called Massamong, an Indian name signifying painted-water from red oker found on the banks of it, which in a flood tinges the water. Three miles further we made a hard shift to pass over Yapatsco or Beaver Creek, the water being damm'd up by these industrious animals

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so high as to make the fording of it difficult. Then we proceeded 3 miles 174 poles beyond that & encampt on the West side of Ohimpamony Creek, signifying in the Indian Language fishing Creek. On our way we shot a Wild Cat as he was making good chear upon a Fox Squirrel, They likewise killed three Deer, which made great plenty, & Consequently great Content in our Quarters.

3. The Surveyors got to work by nine o'clock & push'd the Line 8 miles 160 poles. We crossed several runs of Excellent Water, & traversed a large Level of rich High Land near two miles in breadth. As we rode along we saw many plain buffalo Tracks, and abundance of their dung very fresh, yet could not as yet see one of those animals. The noise we made they heard at a distance, & withdrew from our sight. These creatures seldom range alone but herd together like tame Cattle. They are seldom found more northerly than 36° because they delight much in Canes & Reeds, that grow plentifully to the Southward. We encampt on Tewohomony signifying Tuskeruda Creek and supt plentifully on two Deer which Providence brought in our way.

4. We got to work a little after nine, & extended the Line 7 miles & 160 poles, notwithstanding the ground was very uneven. In the distance of about five miles we forded blew wing Creek, and almost 3 miles beyond, that we cros'd Sugar Tree Creek, so named from the many trees of that kind which grew near it. We took up our Quarters on the next side of this Creek which makes very wide low grounds, sometimes on one side, and sometimes on the other, while on the opposite shore the high land advances close to the Creek. One of the men saw three Buffaloes, but his gun being loaden only with shot, could do no execution on their thick sides. But this disappointment was made up by four Deer & four Turkeys killed by some other of the Company.

5. This day we met with such uneven grounds, and such thick woods, that with all the Industry we could use, we could advance the Line no more than 4 miles and 312 poles. In this small distance it intersected a large Creek four times, which our Indians mistook at first for the South branch of Roanoake River, but were convinced afterwards that it was Hico-otto-mony Creek taking its name from the roosting of Turkeysbuzzards on the trees that grow near it. About four in the afternoon the Commissioners for Carolina acquainted us for the first time, that they would attend the Line no farther. We were surprized at this unexpected Resolution, not dreaming we should have their Company no more than fifteen days. However though they could content themselves with leaving the business unfinisht, we could not, but determined to proceed without

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them, and push the Line on as far as the Mountains. Nevertheless we agreed to sign Platts of the Line as far as we had carried it together provided they could be prepared by Munday noon, when it intended to proceed without loss of time, the season being now far advanced.

6. We remained in our Camp this day being Sunday, and had prayers but no sermon, by reason our Chaplain was indisposed. The Carolina Commissioners in the mean time were employed in forming a Protest against our proceeding any further on the Line without them. When the Divine Service was over the Surveyors finished their Plats, which were signed by the Commissioners on both sides. In the afternoon Mr Fitzwilliam acquainted us that being of opinion we could not by his Majesty's order carry on the Line, but in Conjunction with the Commissioners of North Carolina, he intended to return to Williamsburg the next day.

This morning the Carolina Commissioners delivered us the Protest they had drawn up the day before, in the words following.

We the underwritten Commissioners on the part of Virginia, having run the Line for the Division of the two Colonies, from Corotuck Inlet to the Southern branch of Roanoake River, being in the whole about 170 miles, and near 50 miles without the Inhabitants being of opinion we had run the line as far as would be requisite for a long time, judged the carrying it farther would be a needless change & trouble, and the grand Debate which had so long subsisted between the two Governments about Weyanoke River or Creek being settled at our former meeting in the Spring, when we were ready on our parts to have gone with the Line to the utmost Inhabitants, which if it had been done, the Line at any time after might have been Continued at an easy expense by a Surveyor on each side, and if at any time hereafter there should be occasion to carry the Line on farther than we have now run it, which we think will not be in an age or two, it may be done in the same easy manner without the great expense that now attends it: And on a Conference of all the Commissioners, we haveing communicated our sentiments thereon declared our opinion, that we had gone as far as the service required, & thought proper to proceed no farther; to which it was answered by the Commissioners for Virginia, that they should not regard what we did, but if we desisted, they would proceed without us. But we conceiving by his Majesty's Order in Council, they were directed to act in conjunction with the Commissioners appointed for Carolina, And having accordingly run the Line jointly so far, and exchanged Plans thought they could not carry on the Bounds singly, but that their proceedings without us would

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be irregular and invalid, and that it would be no Boundary & thought it proper to enter our dissent thereto. Wherefore for the reasons aforesaid in the name of his Excellency the Lord Palatine, & the rest of the true & absolute Lords Proprietors of Carolina, we do hereby dissent and disallow of any further proceeding with the Bounds without our concurrence & pursuant to our Instructions do give this our dissent in writing.


Octr 7th 1728

Tho the following Answer to this protest was not immediately returned, yet it can't be placed better than next to it, that the arguments on each side may be fairly compared & understood.


Whereas on the 7th of October a paper was delivered to us by the Commissioners of North Carolina in the stile of a Protest against our carrying any further without them the dividing Line between the two Governments, we the underwritten Commissrs on the part of Virginia having maturely considered the reason offered in the said Protest, why those Gentlemen retired so soon from that service, beg leave to return the following answer.

They were pleased in the first place to alledge by way of reason, that having run the Line near 50 miles beyond the Inhabitants. It was sufficient for a long time, & in their opinion for an age or two. To this we answer that by breaking off so soon, they did but imperfectly obey his Majestys Orders Assented to by the Lords Proprietors. The plain meaning of that Order was, to ascertain the Bounds between the two Governments as far towards the mountains as we could, that neither the Kings Grants may hereafter encroach on the Lords Proprietors, nor theirs on the Right of His Majesty. And tho' the distance towards the Great Mountains be not precisely determined by the said Order, yet surely the West Line should be carried as near them as may be, that both the Lands of the King & the Lords may be taken up the faster, and that His Majesty's subjects may as soon as possible extend themselves to that natural barrier. This they will certainly do in a few years, when they know distinctly in which Government they may enter for the Land, as they have already done in the more Northern parts of Virginia. So that'tis strange the Carolina Commissrs should affirm that the distance of 50 miles above the Inhabitants should be sufficient to carry the Line for

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an age or two especially considering that two or three days before the date of their Protest Mr Mayo had entred with them for near 2000 acres, within five miles of the place where they left off. Besides if we reflect on the richness of the soil in those parts and the convenience for stock, we may foretell without the Spirit of Divination that there will be many Settlements higher than those Gentlemen went in less than ten years, & perhaps in half that time. The Commissioners of North Carolina protested against proceeding on the Line for another reason, because it would be a needless Charge & trouble, alledging that the rest may be done by one Surveyor on a side in an easy manner, when it shall be thought necessary To this we answer that frugality of the publick money is a rare vertue: but when the public service must suffer by it, it degenerates into a vice, & this will ever be the case, when Gentlemen execute the orders of their Superiors by halves. But had the Carolina Commissioners been sincerely frugal for their Government, why did they Carry out provisions sufficient to support them & their men for ten weeks, when they intended not to tarry half that time? This they must own to be true, since they had 1000 lbs of provisions along with them. Now after so great an experience in their preparations, it had been no mighty addition to their charge, had they endured the fatigue of 6 or 7 weeks longer. It would have been at most no more than what they must be at whenever they finish their work, even tho' they should think proper to trust a matter of that importance to the management of one Surveyor who must have a necessary force to attend him both for his assistance & defence. These are all the reasons the Gentlemen think fit to mention in their Protest, tho' indeed they had still a stronger argument for retiring so abruptly which because they forgot it will be neighbourly to help them out. The provisions they brought with them for want of horses to carry them, were partly left behind, & what they could bring was husbanded so ill that after eighteen days (which was the whole time we had the honor of their company) they had no more by their own confession left than two pounds of bread for each man to carry them home. However tho' this was an invincible reason to these Gentlemen for leaving the business unfinished, yet it could be none to us, who had at that time Buiscuit for seven weeks longer. Therefore lest their want of management, might put a stop to his Majestys service we thought it our Duty to proceed without them & have extended the dividing Line so far West, as to leave the Great Mountains on each hand to the eastward of us. And this we have done with the same fidelity & exactness, as if those Gentlemen had continued with us. Our Surveyors (whose integrity I am persuaded they will never
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call in question) continued to act under the same oath, which they had done from the beginning. But notwithstanding all this, if the Government of Carolina should not hold itself bound by that part of the Line, which we made without the assistance of its Commissioners, yet we shall have this benefit at least, that His Majesty will know how far his lands reach towards the South, and how far they may be granted without Injustice to the Lords Proprietors. To this we may also add, that having the authority of our Commission to act without the Commissioners of North Carolina in case of their disagreement or refusal we thought ourselves obliged upon their retreat to finish the dividing Line without them, lest His Majesty's service might suffer by any neglect on their Part


December 14th 1729.

After having adjusted our business with the Carolina Commissioners, we took our leave directing our course towards the West, while the persued theirs towards the East Mr Fitzwilliam taking one of our men to attend him home, we hired one of the Carolina men to supply his place. It was two in the afternoon before we set out which together with the Thickets we encountered hindered us from carrying the Line further than 2 miles & 260 poles. In this distance we crossed Hicco-otto-mony Creek the 5th time, & took up our Quarters near Buffalo Creek, so called from the many signs of that shy animal. The bushes were so thick that we were obliged to cover our bread bags with the skins of the Deer we had killed. Our men shot a fat Buck & several Turkeys.

8 We hurried the Surveyors out at 9 o'clock, yet the woods continued so thick, that we could advance no more than 4 miles & 20 poles. Our clothes suffered very much by the bushes, & it was as much as our hands could do to preserve our eyes in our heads. Our poor horses could with difficulty force their way betwixt the Saplins with the burdens on their backs. These misfortunes hindered some of the baggage from reaching the Camp this night. We quartered near a Spring of very fine water, which the poor men wanted that guarded the baggage, but they comforted themselves with some of the rum they had under their care. The Indian killed a very fat Doe just time enough to hinder us from going supperless to bed. We had now no more than one Indian left, the other being gone back with the Commissioners of Carolina, by reason he thought himself not well enough to undergo the fatigue of so long & difficult a journey.

9. The Surveyors went to work about nine this morning but because the Bushes were so intolerably thick at first setting out, we ordered four

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men to clear the way before them, but after a mile of these rough Woods, we had the pleasure to meet with clear and even grounds, by the help of which we carried the Line 6 miles exactly. The baggage came up with us about noon, & the men that guarded it had been half starved in the midst of plenty, not having dared to eat, for fear of inflaming their thirst. But we supplied all their wants. The Land was generally very good which we past over this day, one proof of which was that plenty of Angelica grew upon it. Our Indian shot a Mountain Partridge resembling the common Partridge in the plumage but as large as a hen. We saw several Deer but were so unlucky as to kill none. In several places we found very good slate.

10. We began this day very fortunately by shooting a fat Doe & two Turkeys. One of the men was unluckily heard this morning to wish himself at home, for which he was publickly reprimanded, & asked before all the rest whether it was the danger or fatigue of the Journey that disheartened him. This seasonable reproof put an end to all Complaints, & no body after that was known so much as to wish or show any marks of uneasiness. We Crost Coquade Creek 180 poles from our Camp, & 286 poles from thence we intersected the south branch of Roanoake River the first time. Where we forded it 'twas 29 poles broard, having a small Island of Canes near the Western shore of it, which the Line cut. The Western bank of this fine River was bordered with tall Canes a furlong deep, so that it Cost much time to cut a way through them wide enough for the baggage. The stream ran about 3 miles an hour, & the water was as clear as Crystal. The bottom was gravelled & spangled very thick with small flakes of mother of Pearl, that almost dazled our eyes. The sand on either shore sparkled with the same shining substance. The difficulties of passing the River, & cutting our way thro' that forest of Canes, hindered us from extending the Line farther than 3 miles & 260 poles. The days work ended a few poles to the westward of Cane Creek, about two miles & a half beyond the River. Our horses were fond of these Canes tho' they purged them a little at first, the Men killed a Deer & several Turkeys, but the Indian begged ernestly that our Cook might not boil Venison & Turkey together; for fear of spoiling his luck & making a Famine in our Camp, tho' we did not humour his superstition desiring to convince him there was nothing in it.

11. The Surveyors got to work by nine, & proceeded with the Line 6 miles & 240 poles. In the distance of 4 miles & 60 poles we crossed the River a second time, & found it something narrower than before, being no more than 24 poles over The Western shore of it was thick set with

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large Canes, tho' not for so great a breadth as where we passed it first. It Continued a most beautiful River, murmuring among the Rocks which were thinly scattered, here & there to make up the variety of the prospect. From thence to the end of our days work, which was something more tan two miles, we found the Land broken, & the thickets very troublesome. This day we made the first discovery of the Mountains, tho' at a great distance to the N. West of our Course. We killed a Buck, & the Indian a Turkey, but he would not bring it to the Camp, lest we should boil it with our Venison, as we had done the evening before. In many places we found very promising Limestone.

12. The Surveyors got to work a little after nine, but were so intangled with bushes & grape Vines, that they could extend the line but 5 miles & 28 poles. The Vines grow very rank & grow up almost every Saplin, which shows how natural both the soil & the climate are for making of wine. We judged by the great number of Chestnut Trees that we approached the Mountains, & in truth several of the men discovered them plainly. We killed a young bear of two years old; the flesh of it was of a high relish inclining a little to the taste of Pork, most of the people preferred it to Venison, tho' it was inconvenient Diet in one respect, because they ate more bread with it.

13. This being Sunday we rested from our fatigue, & had a sermon. In the afternoon we had leisure to weigh to each man his weekly allowance of Bread, which hitherto had been 5 pounds, but from thence forth we thought it necessary to shorten their allowance to 4 pounds which with plenty of meat was sufficient. The men killed abundance of Turkeys, & saw the mountains distinctly from the neighbouring hills. The weather was lowring & threatened rain which made us take the necessary precaution for securing our bread in time.

14. It began to rain about 3 in the morning, nor did it hold up till near noon, which made us give over all thoughts of decamping. The men went out a hunting after dinner, & killed 3 Deer & 4 Turkeys with which they fortifyed themselves against the damp weather. At 6 in the evening it rained again, & held not up till nine when the clouds brake away, & gave us a sight of the stars. It was observed when the men had plenty of meat, and nothing to do, they kept cutting all day long to preserve them from idleness.

15. The weather promising to be fair, we dried our baggage with all diligence, but could not set the Surveyors to work till 12 o'clock. At the distance of 240 poles from our Camp, the Line cross'd the River a third time, & one mile & 7 poles beyond that, it cut it the 4th time. In

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both places it was something narrower than formerly, but deeper, with Canes growing on the Banks tho' always most on the West side. The difficulty of crossing the River each time retarded our business so much, that we could push the Line but one mile & 300 poles. Our baggage did not cross the River at all, but went round the Bent of it. We forded a large Creek both sides of which afforded plenty of Canes, which from the dark colour of the water, we called Sable Creek. In the evening we encampt on a pleasant ground that commanded the prospect of both Reaches of the River.

16. The Surveyors hurried away & proceeded with the Line 4 miles & 311 poles. At the end of their days work they came upon the River the 5th time, over which we could not find a safe ford. On our way we crossed a small Creek not far from where we lay on which grew abundance of Canes. About 3 miles distance we forded a larger Creek, which we called Low land Creek from a great breadth of low ground made by that & the River. We were obliged to go two miles higher than were our Line butted upon the River, in quest of a Ford, & in that distance passed by several Indian old Fields where the Sauro's had formerly planted Corn; their town not lying far off, which is now deserted. Our people killed no less than 4 Bears, one Deer & 3 Turkeys, so that this was a land of plenty both for man & beast.

17. Our Surveyors moved early, being obliged to go back near two miles before they could get over the River. Nor was it without difficulty & some danger that we crossed this Ford, being full of Rocks & holes, with a current trembling over them so swift that it made us giddy.

However thank God we all got over safe, with no other damage but wetting a little of the bread. This puzzle of getting over the River, & the rough woods we had to encounter, hindered us from extending the Line further than 2 miles & 250 poles, to the banks of Cascade Creek, so named from the many waterfalls we observed in it. In the Course that we conducted the baggage, we traversed rich high Land & clear of underwood. In this days journey as in many others before, we saw very beautiful marble of various colours, & near the banks of this Creek we observed a stone of a fine grain that flakes naturally into thin pieces proper for pavement. About a mile to the N. West of our Camp, was a high mount that Commanded a full prospect of the mountains, & an extensive view of all the flat Countrey. Our men killed a Cubb & a Fawn. We took up our Quarters the sooner, because we were threatened with rain.

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18. The weather clearing up with a brisk N. Wester, our Surveyors were dispacht a little after nine, & ran the Line 6 miles & 30 poles to a branch of the Dan, which we called the Irwin. The neck of Land made by the forking of the River, is supposed to be the place of the old Sauro Town. On our way we passed over a large Level of rich land covered with thickets for 4 miles together, but in all that Distance we could meet with no water. We forded the Irwin with difficulty, by reason of the slippery Rocks on which the horses could hardly keep their feet. Our Indian Killed a Doe extremely fat.

19. About 9 the Surveyors took their departure, & proceeded with the Line 5 miles and 135 poles, nor was it a small days work, considering the way was much more uneven and fuller of bushes than ever. Four miles & 12 poles from the Irwin we crossed Matrimony Creek, so called from being a little noisy. In our march we saw a small Mountain 5 miles to the N. West, which we named the Wart. It was late before we encampt because we endeavoured to find a plentiful place for the horses, which now began to be very thin & weak, but night coming on we were forced to take up with uneven ground, so over run with Saplins, that we could not see ten yards round us, nor was there any picking for the horses, except a little wild Rosemary, of which they are very fond: but it grows so thin, they can never fill their bellies with it. We killed nothing but a Turkey.

20. It was now Sunday which we spent as we ought, but the Indian who knows no distinction of days, went out & killed a monstrous large Bear, which came very seasonably, because the men having nothing else to do, had eat up all their meat. The woods had been so full of smoak for several days, that we had quite lost sight of the mountains, tho' we approached them every day. There was plenty of wild grapes near our Camp, that were very sweet, & might doubtless be improved & made much larger by cultivation.

21. We got to work a little after nine, yet the hills were, so sharp, & the bushes so troublesome, that the Line could advance no more than 4 miles & 270 poles. One of our men going out in quest of his horse, lost himself, being no expert woodsman, but we sent two others to look for him, who by good fortune found him in dispair of ever seeing us again, & brought him to the Camp. However his horse could not be heard of, tho' we sent several men to beat all the neighbouring woods, but to no purpose. The smoak still continued to hide the mountains from our sight. The Indian killed a very fat Bear.

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22. This morning early we sent back two men to make a second search for the horse that was missing, but they returned without success. The Surveyors carried the Line only 1 mile & 230 poles. We crossed a small Creek called Miry Creek, several of the men having been mired in the branches of it. Our Line intersected another River, that runs out of the Dan, which we called the Mayo. We forded it just below a ledge of Rocks, & took up our Quarters on the Western bank of it. This River empties itself into the Dan about a quarter of a mile below the place where we encampt. The men killed a Deer & 6 Bears.

23. The Surveyors moved before 10 this morning, & could proceed with the Line no more than 4 miles & 69 poles. At the distance of 62 poles from our camp, we forded the Dan the 6th & last time. It was not without difficulty that we got over, tho' thank God it was without Damage. It was very Mountainous great part of the way, & the last mile we encountered a locust thicket, interlaced all the way with briars & grape vines. In our Course we crosed a large Creek no less than 5 times, whose banks were so steep we were obliged to cut them down with a Hoe, which we carried with us for that purpose. We called this Crooked Creek, because of the perpetual windings of it. The sides of it abounded with Canes, which were very seasonable for our poor horses, that were jaded with clambouring up so many precipices.

24. The Surveyors got out sooner than ordinary this morning the men having no breakfast to provide, which used to detain them. It seems that they had been been so unthrifty as to eat up all their meat for supper the night before for which they were obliged to fast this morning. However one of them singed all the hair off of a Bear skin, and boiled the pelt into broth, with which he & his particular friends broke their fast. The Line was carried 6 miles & 300 poles & in that distance crossed Crooked Creek 8 times more. We traversed a thicket about two miles in breadth full of Locusts & Hiccory Saplins which are tokens of a rich soil: but there was hard by a great tree to be seen. After this our way was very mountainous & the woods very open, except the last half mile, which was full of bushes & grape vines. We were obliged to quarter in a place of great scarcity for the horses, but the men fared better by the good fortune of the Indian, who shot two Bears one of which we found asleep.

25. The Surveyors went out early yet were not able to push the Line further than 4 miles & 205 poles. The woods were so very thick for near 4 miles that they tore the very deer skins that guarded the Bread bags. The air cleared up this morning, & we were agreably surprised

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with a plain prospect of the mountains both to the North & South of the Line. Those in the North rose 3 distinct ledges one above another, but those to the South formed no more than one single ledge, & that not entire, but in some places broken & interrupted. One of these mountains was prodigiously high, & the west end of it terminated in a horrible precipice. Their distance on either hand did not seem to exceed 6 miles. The course of those to the Northward ran W. S. W & those to the Southward about W. N. W. We could discry other mountains in the course of our Line, at a greater distance where the 2 ridges seemed to join & formed a natural Amphitheatre. Our hunters were so unlucky as to see no Game so we had no other supper, than the scanty remains of yesterdays plenty.

26. The Surveyors measured no more than 300 poles this day to a small Rivulet running to the Southward. This we judged was either a branch of Roanoke or else of deep River, which the Traders say is the North branch of Cape Fear. We determined to proceed no further West with the dividing Line. because the hills began to be so high & steep that they were not practicable for horses, especially not for ours, which had been jaded with so long & difficult a Journey. Besides our Bread was grown too scanty, & the season of the year too far advanced. We had also reason to expect snow & rain, which would raise the Rivers, & so hinder our return, perhaps for the whole winter. The last Line Tree was a Red Oak, with the trees blazed all round it. Near the place where we encampt we found a pair of Elkshorns, & discovered the track of one of them very plainly. They Commonly range to the Northward as Buffalo's do to the Southward, & these love a plain Country whilst the others delight amongst the Hills, & seldom come down so Low as the Inhabitants. The whole distance from Corrotuck Inlet to the Rivulet where we made an end is 241 miles & 230 poles, & from the place where the Commissioners of N. Carolina left us, to the end of the Line is 72 miles & 302 poles most of it hilly & exceedingly full of Underwoods.

27. This being Sunday we were not wanting in our thanks to Heaven for our constant sustenance & protection during the whole Journey to this place; nor did our Chaplain fail to put us in mind of our Duty by a sermon proper for the Occasion. Upon inquiring into our Quantity of bread, we found we had no more left than would last us a fortnight at short allowance. For this reason after the distribution was made, we recommended it to the men to manage it to the best advantage, not knowing how long we might be obliged to subsist thereon. We ordered them all to look well to their horses, & drive them up over night near the

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Camp that they might be easily found next morning. There fell some small rain before noon, but it held up after Dinner, which gave us an opportunity to climb up the neighbouring Hills to take a view of the Mountains. We observ'd plainly from thence, that we were shot in betwixt the two Ridges, both which stretched away several miles to the Eastward of us. In the evening we deliberated which way would be the best for us to return. We had intended to cross over at the foot of the mountains to the head of James River, that we might be able to describe that Natural Boundary so far: but the weakness of our horses, our scantiness of bread, & the near approach of Winter put an end to that project & determined us to make the best of our way back upon the Line. We knew the worst of that & had a beaten path all the way, while we were ignorant what difficulties the other course might be attended with.

28. The horses were brought up very early but the great likelyhood of rain prevented our being too hasty in decamping, & we judged right for at ten o'clock it began to rain in good ernest. However this happened luckily for the horses, which got so much the more rest by it. Our Camp being in a moist situation several of the men began to be out of order, but the remedies we applied proved very successful. The most unlucky accident of all was Mr Dandridge had a formal fit of the gout in this place. This set our inventions at work how to carry him along in such unfortunate circumstances. It was impossible for him to ride on horseback without exposing his foot to be bruised & tormented by the Bushes. However he resolved to try had not the rain happened, seasonably to prevent him.

29. We ordered everything to be in readiness for our departure, but were stopped again by a smart rain. However what we thought a disappointment proved a real service to us, by giving Mr Dandridge time to recover so far as to be able to draw on his boot the day following. It also helped to recruit the poor horses In the afternoon it held up & our men went to drive the woods & killed 2 Bears, but the man that was bewildered before, by straggling too far from his Company lost himself a second time. We fired several guns to direct him by their report to the Camp, but all to no purpose.

30. In the morning the lost man steered a direct Course to our Camp by the sound of the Bells upon our horses. About 9 everything being in readiness, we began our march towards the rising sun. Tho' we had now finished the Line we had still a great fatigue to undergo in returning about 300 miles to our respective homes; & this fatigue was the greater, because we were obliged to march on foot most of the way to favour our horses, which were now grown so weak, that they staggered under their

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Riders. Some of them were so jaded that they were not able to carry so much as their saddles & we were obliged to leave no less than 7 of them not far from the mountains, that would not stir a step further. The first clear night we took the variation again, & found it much the same as at Corotuck Inlet. We likewise endeavoured to try the Latitude, but the wind hindered our observation from being perfect. No remarkable disaster befell any of us in our return, the worst that happened was that some fell into Creeks, & others into Rivers thro' the weakness of their horses. Providence was so good as to supply us day by day, in this lonely desert with sufficient provision. We saw no track or sign of any Indians in the whole journey. We met with several cross paths, but we judged them to be made by Buffalo's. We had the fortune to kill one of these bulky animals in coming back near Sugar Tree Creek. He was a young Bull of two years old, but equal to a full grown Stear in bigness. His legs were much shorter & his body much deeper than of the tame Cattle. His horns too were very short but very strong, with shagged hair on his head & shoulders. That on his head was coarse & frizzled, but that on his shoulders was soft like wool & long enough to spin. The flesh differs in nothing from common Beef, but only that the fat is yellower. The species must be the same with the tame Cattle, because the mixt breed will generate. It is remarkable that we were never catcht in the rain, either out or home, except once & then we found encamping on wet ground to be very uncomfortable. At other times it rained either at night or on Sundays or else after the tent was pitcht & secured by a Trench None of our company had any illness or disaster of any consequence during the whole expedition, but Heaven be praised we all returned in perfect health to our several habitations about the 22nd of November. We had been out in the whole upon the service of the Line (including going and returning) 16 weeks, & travelled above 600 miles.

Below towards the Sea our Course lay through Marshes Swamps, & Mirey Branches, and above over steep Hills Rocky grounds, or Thickets hardly penetrable. Yet notwithstanding all these Difficulties we may venture to say for ourselves, that we have performed the business faithfully & effectually in which we had the honour to be employed.


North Carolina

Journal of the Commissrs for settling the Bounds between Virginia and Carolina

Recd with Mr Byrd's letter
of the 27th June 1729.
Recd 4th Octr 1729

Additional Notes for Electronic Version: This journal was enclosed with a letter from William Byrd - See Related Documents.