Early Explorers Sighting Bison

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Early America’s explorers first seeing our bison, had no idea what they were, and they have been called many various terms; buffalo, bison, wild ocshen, buffelo, wild ox, wild cattle, cibola, vaca, wild beast, etc..It depends where and when I am searching. Many remarking they look like those of Europe but much larger and darker. Today, the European bison species is said to be larger than American. (a whole other subject I may or may not get into. A friend commented “rabbit hole”.)   I might also point out that I pretty much ignore articles from out of country, whether printed here or in another country because they could be speaking of Asian buffalo. There is no way for me to know in most cases, so they are tossed out of my discoveries. In some cases, however, they will say from America.  (Tyger means any wild cat in America)


 1700’s, the white men have killed most of the wild buffalo in Virginia


1701 –

Numerous experiments in buffalo breeding have been made, and the subject is far from being a new one “The capture and domestication of buffaloes in 1701 by the Haguenot settlers at Manikin town, which was situated on the James River, about 14 miles above Richmond. Apparently, buffaloes were more numerous in Virginia than in any other of the Atlantic States.” “Present State of Virginia”  1737



British dominions in North America, according to the Treaty in 1763


The Pennsylvania Gazette
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 08 Dec 1730

John Pemberton killed a buffalo upon Shunadore River (Shenandoah River )which weighed after it was dressed 1400 weight, and the hide 300. There was one kill’d there some time before, which weigh’d 1800: and in those parts ‘tis said they frequently see ten or more of those creatures together.



The Caledonian Mercury
Edinburg, August 23, 1733

Wye’s Letter Verbatim, London, Aug. 18.  (extract)

In that which Tomachichi, one of the chiefs, first made to Mr.Tomochichi-Georgia Oglethorpe, he expressed in some parts thereof, viz. here is a little present, and then gave Mr. Oglethorpe a Buffalo Skin, painted on the inside with the head and feathers of an Eagle, which he desired him to except, because the Eagle signified speed, and the Buffalo strength; that the English were as swift as the bird, and as strong as the beast, since like the first they flew from the utmost parts of the earth, over the vast seas; and like the second nothing could withstand them;  That the feathers of the Eagle Warsaw and signified love, and the Buffalo skin, warm and signified protection; and therefore he hoped they would love and protect their little families. (Tomochichi (to-mo-chi-chi’) (c. 1644 – October 5, 1739) was the head chief of a Yamacraw town on the site of present-day Savannah, Georgia in the 18th century. He gave his land to James Oglethorpe to build the city of Savannah. He remains a prominent historical figure of early Georgia history.)




The Pennsylvania Gazette
Dated Nov.1st, 1733

From the WEEKLY MISCELLANY, Aug. 11.

THE Writer of a letter in this Paper, highly applauds the Undertaking of establishing a Colony on Georgia, bestows large Encomiums on the Founders of it; and adds, that a Subscription is now open’d by the Trustees for the religious Uses of the Colony, a Church is to be built and endow’d at Savannah, and a Clergyman, well recommended, is sent over on the Foot of an annual Salary, to reside as the first Minister of it there. These early Expressions of Zeal in that Trustees, give us just Ground to hope, that a better Face of Religion will be preserv’d in Georgia, then appears in many of our American Settlements; and that many Obstacles which have hitherto defeated all Attempts to gain the Indians; may be gradually remov’d. And as a Confirmation of his Hopes, the Writer gives the following Part of a Letter from James Oglethorpe, Esq; at Georgia, to the Hon,-in London. Dated the 9th June last.

(edited for content)

Communicating with the Indians, he writes:

These Conferences in Matters of great Difficulty have sometimes lasted two Days, and are always carried on with great Temper and Modesty. If they do not come into some unanimous Resolution, the Meeting breaks up, but if they are Unanimous, (which they generally are) then they call in the young Men, and recommend to them the putting in Execution the Resolution, with their strongest and most lively Eloquence. And, indeed, they seem to me, both in Action and Expression, to be thorough Masters of true Eloquence; and making Allowances for badness of Interpreters, many of their Speeches are equal to those which we admire most in the Greek and Roman Writings. They generally in their Speeches use Similes and Metaphors. Their Similes were quite new to me, and generally wonderful proper and wealth carried on. But in Conferences among their chief Men they are more Laconic and concise. In fine, in speaking to their young Men they generally address to the Passions; in speaking to their old Men they apply to Reason only. For Example, Tomo-chi-chi, in his first set Speech to me, among other Things said, Here’s a little present; and then gave me a Buffalo’s Skin, painted on the inside with the Head and Feathers of an Eagle. He desired me to accept it, because the Eagle signified Speed, and the Buffalo Strength. That the English were as swift as the Bird, and as strong as the Beast; since like the first, they flew from the utmost Parts of the Earth over the vast Seas; and, like the second, nothing could withstand them. That the Feathers of the Eagle were soft, and signified Love; the Buffalo’s Skin warm, and signified Protection; therefore he hoped that we would Love and Protect their little Families.

(story continues, edited here for content)


The Caledonian Mercury Edinburgh Scotland Feb 13 1735

An extract of a Journal of Mr. Commissary van Reck, who conducted the first Transport of Saltzburghers to Georgia, translated from German Tongue, is just published, wherein is the following Description of the Colony called Ebenezer, 21 miles from Savannah, where they are settled.

“As to the game here, are Eagles, wild Turkies, Rocbucks, Stags, wild Goats, wild Cows, Hogs, Horses, Hares, Parrots, Patridges and Buffalos; and in the rivers, great plenty of fish of different sorts.”


The Pennsylvania Gazette Oct 30, 1735

1700's Oct 30 1735 treaty written on a buffalo hide


1700’s The northern plains nomads came each fall to the Missouri River Villages. In the beginning of June, there arrive at the great fort on the bank of the river of the Mandan

La Verendrye in 1739 said:  “They bring dressed skins trimmed and ornamented with plumage and porcupine quills, painted in various colors, also white buffalo skins, and the Mandan give them in exchange grain and beans of which they have an ample supply”  (fall of 1738)

Here is a map, if you’d like to see the location of the context.

By 1760 none existed in Carolina’s or northern or eastern Georgia

The South Carolina Gazette
Charleston, South Carolina June 20, 1761


Extracted from Letters dated at the Camp near Fort Prince George, Keeohwee, (where Col. Grant then had his Head-quarters) June 5th 1761.

“The Indians of the Lower Towns were almost starved, and had been obliged for some time past to subsist upon acorns and strawberries, their corn being mostly expended; but they have beef and buffalo meat enough, with which the Young Warrior of Estabtowib had of late frequently supplied the garrison.”


The Public Advertiser
London, Greater London England Jan 26 1762

SIR, On the 22d of this Month, I saw a Paragraph in your Paper, wherein it mentions about the Cou»t d’ Estaing being sent to the Common Prison at Plymouth, I think in my Heart it is no more than what he most justly deserves; for in the manner that he has acted, had our Admirals had met with him in India, I believe his Fate would have beent to have hung at one of their Yards for an Hour by the Neck.

For as i was an Officer be’onging to the Ship Denham that was burnt at Bencoolen, and afterwards taken Prisoner by the Count d’ Estaing, I am a Judge of his Treatment to us after we became his Prisoners, and when he took us he was then on his Parole.

When we returned to the Fort out of the Country, he cramm’d most of our poor Men into the Black-hole in the Fort, but with a great. Deal of Persuasion, he ordered them out, or in a few Hours Time they must have all perished; for when they came out, they appeared as if they came out of a Boiling-Copper. He kept us three Months at Bencoolen, and then put us on board the Frigate, not taking any of the Gentlemen or Ladies on board his Ship; so that several of the Ladies and the Gentlemen, with their Children, lay exposed on the Decks; and in that Country, we had heavy Rains, Thunder, and Lightning, which is very frequent there. And while we was on board the Frigate, on our Passage to Batavia, our chief Diet was rotten Buffalo with Maggots in it. Lucky it was for us that we had a short Passage, or half of us would not have lived to Batavia.


The Public Advisor
London, Greater London, England Aug 24 1762

A State of Newfoundland Fishery, with a Plan proposed for __________the French from that Trade.
Deli____d is the ministry. May 1761,  by Thomas Cole.

The French, by Means of their Fishery on the Northern Part of Newfoundland, have carried on a great Trade with the Esquameau Indians, which inhabit the vast Coast of Labradore, and not above ten Leagues across the Straits of Belleisle to the said North Part of the Island of Newfoundland, for furs, deer, elk, and Buffalo skins, etc. on which Coast they have also a great Whale Fishery, and bring home great Quantities of Masts, Yards, Spars etc. for their Ships of War, and saw a great deal of Plank from the red Pine, which is the best and the World or Ship and Boat Building; both the North Part of Newfoundland and the coast of Labradore abounding in the Materials, insomuch that the French have been so fully supplied from thence, as not to have Occasion for any from Russia or Norway, for several Years past. (see map above)


The Pennsylvania Gazette
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 15 Sep 1763

PHILADELPHIA, September 05.
On Monday last the GENERAL ASSEMBLY of this Province met here.
The same Day an Express arrived from Reading in Berks County, with the following Intelligence, viz.

” That on Thursday last, about two o’Clock in the Afternoon, eight Indians came armed to the House of John Fincher (one of the people called Quakers) about three quarters of a Mile distant from a Party of Captain Kearn’s,  consisting of six Men, commanded by Ensign Sheffer, and about 24 miles from Reading, over the blue Mountains: That said Fincher, his Wife, two Sons, and Daughter, immediately went to the Door, and asked them if they would eat any Thing, hope they were come as Friends, and entreated them to spare their Lives: That’s, however, after some Deliberation, they killed Fincher, his Wife, and two Sons, the Daughter said to be missing; but as she was heard screaming by some of the Neighbours, and crying Murder, it is feared she is likewise killed: That a little Boy made his Escape from the Savages,  and came to the Ensign, who immediately went to the Place with his Party, but the Indians were gone, and finding, by their Tracks, which Way they went, pursued them to the House of one Nicholas Miller, where he found for Children murdered, the Enemy having carried off to others with them; but that said Miller, and his Wife, being at Work in a field, save their Lives by Flight, the Man being pursued near a Mile by one of the Indians, who fired at him twice; That our Party still pursued, and soon came up with the Enemy, and fired on them, which they returned; but the Soldiers rushed on  them so furiously, that they quickly ran off, and left behind them two Prisoners, two Tomahawks,  one Hanger, and a Saddle; three of their Number being badly wounded; That the two Prisoners recovered, were two of the above mentioned Miller’s Children,  which they had tied together, and drove them before them: That the Persons murdered were all scalped, except a Child about two Weeks old, which they, in the most cruel Manner, dashed to Pieces against the Wall: That the Number killed over the Mountains was eight, and two missing: And that the Inhabitants had all come on this Side, and were in the utmost Distress.

“That as the Express was setting off from Reading, certain Information was brought there, that the House of Frantz Hubler, in Bern Township, about 18 Miles from Reading, was attacked,  on Friday Evening last, by the Indians, when Frantz himself was wounded; his Wife,  and three Children,  carried off; and three others of his Children scalped a live, two of whom are since dead.”

Since our last arrived here an Express from Fort Bedford, which he left the Seventh Instant. By him there is Advice, that all was well at Pittsburgh: That Capt. Hay, with the Convoy from Ligonier,  had got safe there: That there had been no Disturbance from the Indians in that Quarter, since Colonel BOUQUET’s Victory over them: And that every thing was likewise very quiet in Cumberland County, where there seemed to be a noble Spirit, many brave Men being ready to go out in the Service of their King and Country, if properly encouraged.

Extract of a Letter from Fort Cumberland, September 5.
“One Henry Adams informs me, that he was Yesterday at John Foreman’s Fort, about 30 Miles from this Place, on the South Branch, when an Express arrived there from Fort Pleasant, who informed, that Capt. Luke Collins, with some Men, had followed a Party of Indians to Cheat River, one of the main Branches of the Monongahela, where he overtook them, and killed six of their Number; took 11 Guns, 14 Shot Pouches, several Horses, and a large Quantity of other Plunder, to the Amount of One Hundred Pounds, or more, exclusive of the Horses; He also released a Son of Capt John Walton’s from the Enemy. It is remarkable, that not one of the Guns taken from the Indians was loaded, and, when attacked, they were barbecuing a Buffaloe, not thinking of Danger. It appears that there Party did not consist of above Eleven, some of the Shot Pouches being taken from the Inhabitants. “



The Caledonian Mercury
Edinburgh Scotland Feb 11 1765

Commodities which Louisiana may furnish, in return for those of Europe.

France might draw from this colony several forts of furs, which would not be without their value, though held cheap in France: and, by their variety, and the use that might be made of them, would yield satisfaction.  Some persons have dissuaded the traders from taking any furs from the Indians, on a supposition that they would be moth-eaten, when carried to New Orleans, on account of the heat of the climate: but I am acquainted with people of that business, who know how to preserve them from such an accident.

Dry Buffalo hides are of sufficient value to encourage the Indians to procure them, especially if they were told,  that only their skins and tallow were wanted; they would then kill the old bulls, which are so fat as scarce to be able to go: each buffalo would yield at least a hundred pounds of tallow; the value of which, with the skin, would make it worth their while to kill them; and thus none of our money would be sent to Ireland, in order to have tallow from that country: besides, the species of buffaloes would not be diminished, because these fat buffalo are always the prey of wolves.


The Pennsylvania Gazette
Philadelphia Pennsylvania. Jul 4 1765


Lodwick Sengeiss’s, Butcher, at the Upper End of  Race street, in Philadelphia (at One Shilling each Man, Six-pence,  a Woman, and Three pence a Child)
He may be between 12 and 13 Hands high, and will grow much larger; has a long Beard, and bushy Hair on his Belly and fore Legs, but the Hair of his main Body is so fine, as to equal any silk: his Back, towards the Head,  is elevated like an Elephants and the Head- hair long, hanging down his Forehead; his Horns are short,  leaning backwards and his Look as fierce and frightful as any Animals in Nature.  




The South Carolina and American General Gazette
Charleston, South Carolina  Jul 8 1768

As Superintendent directed the Community in the Creek Nation to demand Satisfaction for former murders as well as far that at St. Mary’s it is probable the Indian, mentioned in a former Gazette to be put to death on that Account, was the above named Bonaichee.

The Cherokee Indians have fixed on the 25th October next, for meeting the Commissioners from Virginia at Chifwell’s Mines on the Great Conohway, in order to proceed with the Superintendant’s deputy on the important Service of making the Boundry Line behind that Province.

On Tuesday sunday (?) Gentlemen of this Province,  want  Passengers for New York, in the Sloop Sally, John Schermerhorn, Master.

By the Prorogation, this Day, of the General Assembly, the large Bounty, granted by this Province to Protestants coming to settle here, ceases and determines.

Last Week two French men arrived here from Fort Prince-George, who had been taken Prisoners by the Indians, and were sent down to the Superintendant by the Commissary in the Cherokee Nation, who supplied them with some necessaries. They far their Business was to procure Buffalo and Venison for the Garrison at the Illinois and were so employed when taken. All the Parties of northern Indians are not yet returned home, but continue their Depredations on the Cherokees. Several People from the back Settlement of Virginia,  going towards the Mississippi,  have been killed and scalped, it is uncertain by what Indians.  


The South-Carolina Gazette; and Country Journal
Charleston South Carolina Aug 9 1768

(extract) 150 miles from Charles Town and 40 from the province line.
Here is many buffalo licks, a kind of earth the cattle is fond of, and resorts thither in the spring time in large herds, wild and tame,  (the buffaloes being wholly hunted out of this province, and fled to the mountains.) In this lick earth I have more reason than one to believe there is good salt petre.


The Caledonian Mercury
Edinburgh Nov.11, 1771

Description of the Manners of the Nation of AKANZAS, their religion and manner of carrying on the WAR.
[From Bossu’s Travels through Louisiana, just published]  (extract)

The Arkanzas live on the banks of a river that bears the name; it arises in New Mexico, and falls into the Mississippi. These Indians are tall, well made, brave and good swimmers, very expert in hunting and fishing, and entirely devoted to the French, of which they have given marks on several occasions. (skip forward)

Their baggage in times of war, consists of a bears skin, which serves as a bed; a wild ox’s skin, with which they cover themselves; a tiger-cat’s skin, which serves as a sack to put the calumet or tobacco pipe in; a head breaker or club; and a little hatchet, which they make use of in order to make huts in the woods.

Their arms consists of a gun or musket, the horn of an ox to put the gun-powder in, which they hang around the body with the string, together with a little bag in which they put their balls, the flint, and a screw; beside this, a bow and a quiver full of arrows; the latter is very useful for hunting. They never employ their fire-arms at any animals, when they are upon any expedition against their enemies, lest the noise might serve to discover them. They agree amongst themselves upon the method of serve Price he their enemies; for the Indians place all their glory in the knowledge of this kind of war, which is generally fatal to those who are the object of. (continues)


F. Haskin wrote:”When the first American buffalo that crossed the Atlantic Ocean was received in Germany in 1772, it attracted wide attention in Europe, not only because it was of a species new to a majority of Europeans, and interesting to naturalists, but also because it was a representative of the largest herd of wild animals of great economic value ever discovered in any country. “



The Virginia Gazette
Nov 18th, 1773

However whimsical my going to the Mississippi is looked on by some, who are prejudiced by the Reports designing Persons have circulated about the Soil and Climate,  I have incontestable Proof to give not only of the Goodness of them, but that every Thing necessary to support a Family is already an Importation of 20,000/. Sterling Worth of Goods from London, besides a large Importation from Philadelphia this Spring, which are vending at a Town called Mavcback, upwards of 20 Miles u the River Mississippi.

As the deservedly famous Mr. Franklin has observed that the People increase so fast in America as to double every twenty years, and the Ministry seem fixed against granting any more new Colonies (at this Juncture, however) I would recommend it to those, who are the desirous or improving their Fortunes, to consider how rapidly the Lands must be settled by such a Number wanting them, and how advantageous it would be to those who get the first Foothold. And as an Inducement to Numbers, whose Distress, as well as Inclination to fever their Offspring, I can, with Pleasure, inform them, from such Authority as will stand the test, that two Crops of Indian Corn, three of Indigo, three of Tobacco, and two in general of Rice, are to be made in a Year, also that Cotton is to be raised to great Advantage, to which it is to be added of plentiful Supply of fine Sith, Foul, Deer, Bear, Buffalo, Etc. Also that Cattle, Sheep, Hogs, Etc. are to be had more reasonable than in Virginia, and Horses at two Dollars, or five Gallons of Rum.


The Virginia Gazette (Williamsburg, Virginia)

Sat, Sep 30, 1775

A COMPANY of gentlemen of North Carolina having, for a large and valuable Consideration, purchased from the Chiefs of the Cherokee Indians; by and with the Consent of the whole Nation, a considerable Tract of their Lands, now called Transylvania, lying on the Rivers Ohio, Cumberland, and Louisa the; the understanding that many people are desirous of becoming Adventurers in that Part of the World, and wished to know the Terms on which Lands in that Country may be had, they therefore hereby inform the Public, that any person who will settle on and inhabit the same before the first day of June 1776, shall have the privilege of taking up and surveying for himself 500 Acres, and for each tithable Person of 50s. Sterling per Hundred, subject to a yearly Quitrent of 28. like Money, to commence in the Year 1780. Such persons as are willing to become Purchasers may correspond and treat with Mr. William Johnston in Hillsborough, and Col. John Williams in Granville, North Carolina, or Col. Richard Henderson at Boonsborough, and Transylvania. — This country lies on the south side of the Rivers Ohio and Louisa, in temperate and healthy Climate. It is in general well watered with Springs and Rivulets and has several Rivers, of which Vessels of considerable Burthen may come with Ease. In different Places of it are number of Salt Springs’ where the making of salt has been tried with great success, and wherewith Certainty, any Quantity needed may be easily and conveniently made. Large Tracts of Land lie on Lime-stone, and in several places, there is an Abundance of Iron Ore. The Fertility of the Soil, and Goodness of the Range, almost surpass Belief; and it is at present well stored with Buffalo, Elk, Deer, Bear, Beaver, etc. and the Rivers abound with fish of various Kinds. Vast Crowds of people are daily flocking to it, and many Gentlemen of the first Rank and Character have bargained for Lands in it; so that there is a great Appearance of a rapid Settlement, and that it will soon become a considerable Colony and one of the most agreeable Countries in America.

Note: Transylvania, or the Transylvania Colony, was a short-lived, extra-legal colony founded in 1775 by Richard Henderson, who controlled the North Carolina-based Transylvania Company, which had reached an agreement to purchase the land from the Cherokee in the “Treaty of Sycamore Shoals”. This area was claimed at the time by the Province of Virginia —especially following Lord Dunmore’s War —and North Carolina. It is primarily located in what is now the central and western parts of the State of Kentucky. American pioneer Daniel Boone was hired by Henderson to establish the Wilderness Road going through the Cumberland Gap into central “Kentuckee”, where he founded Boonesborough, the designated capital of the Transylvania colony. Transylvania officially ceased to exist after the Virginia General Assembly invalidated the Transylvania Company’s purchase in 1776. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transylvania_(colony)


The Pennsylvania Gazette
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Sep. 11, 1776


By Mr. William Harrison, in nine days from Fort Pitt, we have advice, that Capt. John Hingston, with a number of letters, arrived from Licking Creek, near the Kentucky, the very day he left home. Capt Hingston gave the following account, that one James Cooper, and another person, a Dutchman, been on their way to a buffalo lick, were fired upon by a couple of Indians, who shot down Cooper, and frightened the Dutchman’s horse so that he flung him. His foot hanging in the stirrup one of the Indians made up to him, to tomahawk him; but, although in that disadvantageous situation, he found means to aim his gun so well (which he never quitted) as to shoot Savage dead on the spot, and, seeing the other Indian making up to him, he disengaged himself from his own horse, mounted Cooper’s, and got clear off to the inhabitants. Upon his arrival, many of the Kentucky settlers immediately when about sorting themselves at Boonsborough and Harwood’s town; and numbers agreed to come into the neighborhood of Fort Pitt, with Captain Hingston. – Mr. Harrison likewise and forms that Mr. Jacob Hite, who lately removed from Berkeley county to the neighborhood of the Cherokee country with his family, and a large parcel of negroes, was murdered at his own house by those Savages, with most of his slaves, and his wife and children carried off prisoners; his son, who was in the Cherokee country, was likewise murdered. – The Shawanese, Delaware’s, and Mingoes had not met our Commissioners, although to expresses had been sent to them for that purpose, and returned without any answer. A third express was sent off but had not returned.


The Public Advertiser, “New Magazine” Feb 28 17771700's  The Public Advertiser, "New mag. Feb 28 177

The Pa. Packet Oct 29 1778
The Pa. Packet Oct 29 1778

The Pennsylvania Gazette   Oct 2, 1782

Buffalo Handle Knives-ad

The Pa. Packet Feb 3 1783

1700's  The Pa. Packet Feb 3 1783


The Freeman’s Journal or The North-American Intelligencer
May 21, 1783

1700's  Taken Captive and tied with buffalo rope. May 21 1783



The Pennsylvania Packet
Dunlap and Claypoole’s American Daily Advertiser
Philadelphia Pennsylvania Jul 23 1785

The Kentucke country lies in the west part of1700's  Description of Kentucky country July 23 1785 Virginia, on the east bank of the Ohio, between 8 and 9 hundred miles S. W. by W. from Philadelphia, and is two hundred and fifty miles in length,  and two hundred in breadth. It is divided into three counties, viz. Fayette, Jefferson, and Lincoln.    
Their rivers are well supplied with fish and the forests with beast, among which is the buffalo, in shape like an ox, and weighs from five hundred to a thousand pounds: these animals frequent the salt springs, to which they make paths from all quarters appearing like the roads to a great city.




 “It is also a matter of historical record that in 1786, or thereabouts, buffaloes were domesticated and bred in captivity in Virginia, and Albert Gallatin states that in some of the northwestern counties the mixed breed was quite common.”


In 1786 statistics show that over 705,000 skins were exported from Québec alone, valued at over £203,000. Muskrat, 202,719; deer, 133,271; beaver, 116,623; raccoon, 108,521; marten, 48,463; otter, 23,684; bear, 19,362 (what a chance for the Zoological Garden!) : wolf, 12,923; elk, 7,555, with numerous others, the particular designation of which are now unknown. This was a single years business from one port, and at that date the traffic had fallen off largely, as the country was beginning to get drained of the supply. What a paradise must Detroit have been for the hunter! Indeed, much of the real zest of sport must have been lost when all the cook had to do was to step to the door of her cabin and with her unerring gun or arrow bring down from the encircling line of forest whatever description of game happened to suit her fancy.

The trade in bison skins had hardly commenced when Cadillac came, and during the lifetime of many readers hereof the race of animals furnishing this valuable item of merchandise will probably become extinct. History or tradition affords some light respecting the immense fortunes that were realized from this trade. Jacques Le Ber, of Montréal, was the Vanderbilt of that day, and it is well known that the great fortune of John Jacob Astor, with whom the last of our old traders had large accounts, was largely derived from this source.


The Pennsylvania Packet
April 5 1787

1700's  Misc , method of hunting buffalo on the Mississippi Apr 5 1787


By 1790, (with the settlers encouraged to move further west), there were few if any buffalo left along what is today the West Virginia and Ohio border on the Ohio river


National Gazette 
Philly Pa, November 07, 1791


The Buffaloes have entirely quitted the cultivated parts of Kentuckey, and the Deer have become scarce; of wild
turkies however, there are an abundance nearly as tame as those bred in the yard. From their being extremely poor in the summer they remain unmolested: in the winter they grow very fat, and are reckoned delicious food: of other birds here is no great variety.


National Gazette.
Philly Pa Aug 18 1792

[From an English Paper]
MUCH has been said of Welch Indians in America; and there is scarcely: Welchman who does not believe that this extensive continent was discovered by his great ancestor, Owen Madoc, in the year of Christ 1170, or 322 years before the arrival of Columbus.

The tribes now thought to have descended from Welchmen, left in America by Owen Madoc, are known by the Indian name of Padoucas, or Welch Indians, called by some, the White Indians, whose country is situated far westward of the Mississippi. — That the Indian natives of America have for many years past emigrated from the eastward to the westward is a known fact. That the tribes above mentioned, who speak the Welch tongue, may have done the same, is much within the order of probability, and that the White or Welch Indians now reside at or near the banks of the river Missouri, is scarcely to be doubted, every traveler having confirmed this fact. They are denominated by the French, the white-bearded Indians; and are said to be really white. They possess thirty two villages, or towns; are exceedingly civilized, and vastly attached to certain religious ceremonies. Their situation is about 1000 miles from the Illinois.

A gentleman has lately arrived from the American Indian country, who had remained some time among the Padouca tribes. He was introduced to the chief of the principal tribe, and was received with much solemnity, owing to his being of white complexion. He was treated with much friendship and hospitality, was called the Angel of God, and every day had his hands and feet washed by order of the chieftain, who appeared much advanced of in years, his hair being long and perfectly white He further informs, that the people chiefly subsist by the produce of the chace; that the instruments they use or the occasion are generally bows and arrows ; that the further he advanced from the frontiers, the different tribes he passed through were the more civilized ; that he supported the reason to be (which I am afraid is the case) owing to the continual encroachments made on their land by the white people in those parts contiguous to them. The late transactions on the back frontiers of the United States of America, it is probable, are owing to the same circumstance.

It may be necessary to remark, that the distance from the mouth of the Mississippi to the entrance of the Missouri into it, is about 1200 miles, that the navigation of the Mississippi upwards, is tedious and difficult, owing to the current continually running the same way, by which means the vessels employed on the occasion seldom make that distance in less than three months. A light boat, well manned, however, might go from New-Orleans to the Missouri it six weeks: and from Kentuckey, on the Ohio, in less than three weeks; whereas on their return, the same distance is made in a few days ; that the country bordering on those rivers is extremely fertile; that in very severe winters they are subject to frost, which is generally of short duration; that every article for the use of man grows almost spontaneously; that large numbers of  buffaloes are taken, the hides and tallow of those animals, as well as deer skins, beaver, &c. are carried down the Mississippi to New-Orleans, from whence they are exported to different parts of Europe; that all forts of timber and naval stores are to be had in abundance; that during the late war, had the ministers, or the public servants of the crown of this country, had its real interest at heart, they would, in preference of the business of St. Eustatius have taken possession of New-Orleans, the key of the Mississippi, and by that measure have opened the navigation of that river, which in the hands of the enterprising and mercantile genius of the British nation, would be opening a mine of wealth which would have filled the channels of commerce of this

It would also have tended to another grand object, it would have afforded an asylum to the American Loyalist (with whom we have ever differed in political opinion) were they inclined really to relieve
them, instead offending them to the barren rocks of Nova Scotia, where they find it difficult to raise a common sized cabbage, and where it is deemed a wonder to see a field of 12 acres abound with grass six inches long; in this it will be a pleasure to me to be controverted.



National Gazette.
 Philly Pa Oct 27 1792

Some particulars relative to Kentucky, and other interior parts of America.

The buffalo are mostly driven out of Kentucky. Some are still found upon the head waters of Licking creek, Great Sandy, and the head water of Green river. Deer abound in the extensive forest; but the eIk confines itself mostly to the hilly and uninhabited places.

The rapidity of the settlement has driven the wild turkey quite out of the middle countries, but they are found in large flocks in all our extensive woods.

National Gazette
Philadelphia, Pa. Nov. 24 1792 (extract)

Salt Springs have been found in every part of the Western country which has been well explored, and I have no doubt that time will prove that every part of it is well supplied with them. The manner by which they are mostly found in uninhabited places is by large Buffalo roads which leads to them. Whenever the ramifications of those roads begins to concentre, it is almost an infallible sign that a salt lick is near. Those animals resorting to them throughout the temperate part of the year for the benefit of the salt, make large roads, which leading from the leg, branch different ways into the country.


National Gazette
Philadelphia Pa. Feb 02, 1793 (extract)

Extract of a letter from a gentleman in Virginia, to his friend in this city, dated January 11th.
” The affairs of France give joy to every true republican. The people here disapprove very generally the tax proposed or horses, nor wiil the people who have carriages submit to a tax on them, unless one on sleighs equally high should accompany it, as they are certainly made use of as much, or more, for pleasure than carriage are here.”

The Buffaloe beef lately killed in this city, sold in the market at 2s. 6d per lb. (Sixpence, or ‘tanner’ =$ 0.01US)  The exact resemblance of the creature in a preserved state, is now to be seen at Mr. Peale’s museum.


The Independent Gazetteer
July 26 1793

1700's  Thoughts about the Indians July 26 1793

National Gazette
Philadelphia Pa. September 04, 1793 (extract)

Extract of a letter from a person in Philadelphia, to his friend in Maryland.
“Having sufficiently rested myself after my arrival in this city. I divided the remaining days assigned for my stay here, into equal dividends, that I might be clear of embarrassment at the time of my intended departure. In the first place to gratify my curiosity, I went to see Mr. Peal’s Museum, are pository of once-living things. Referred to as to resemble life.

The room so called is about 50 feet long, and 20 high. On the floor, and near the door the American Buffaloe stands in its huge and natural shape; this aborigine of the western hemisphere may properly be called a substitute for Cow: the taming and domiciliation of which, is one of the greatest desideratum’s of the inhabitants in the Trans-Allegheny regions of North America, as it can support itself in the winter season, without the help of man. Yarn spun from the wool of this animal was produced by Mr. Peale, and cannot be distinguished from that made of sheep’s wool.

**Note the article goes on to say that the Museum holds shields, bows, arrows, petrifactions, Indian and European scalps, etc…

N.B. The expense of seeing this Museum is but one-fourth of a dollar. It will please, repeat it even ten times.

**Note the taxidermy buffalo is still reported at Peale’s in 1804 Washington DC paper.


Montreal Gazette Montreal,
Quebec Canada Sep 5 1796

His Majesty’s State Coach has undergone several material alterations, consequence of the damage done to it on the first day of the session. The sides and back, instead of being glazed, as formerly, as completely paneled; and lined with sheet-copper, musket proof, for the better protection of his majesty’s sacred person. It is painted rich yellow, with sprigs of flowers, and very highly varnished. The lining is crimson, behind which is a wadding of fine wool, coated with buffalo skin. By the new construction the public are deprived of their former gratification of having a full view of their sovereign; but, on the whole, it must be a very judicious, and we are sorry to say necessary, improvement.


The Independent Gazette, Pennsylvania
October 25, 1796

The Account of the American Buffalo
by Mr. Turner

The American buffalo is if I mistake not the bison of Buffon. Immense herds of this animal roam at large, in Interior America- From Green river to the Mississippi, the shores of Ohio are lined with them. The hunters are too apt to destroy them wantonly: a circumstance much to be regretted, and not to be prevented. Frequently I have seen this fine animal killed; and, excepting the tongue and tallow, left on the ground, afraid to tigers, wolves, and eagles. The boss of the shoulders of the buffalo is, as well as the tongue, extremely rich and delicious,-superior- to the best English beef. It is usual to cure the tongues and transport them to New Orleans: where they are sure to meet with a good market.
There is a singular, and affecting trade in the character of the Buffalo, when a calf: and my feelings have severely felt it. Whenever a cow buffalo falls before the murdering lead of the hunters and happened to have a calf, the helpless young one, far from attempting to escape, stays by its fallen dam, with signs expressive of strong and active natural affection. The dam thus secured, the hunter makes no attempt on the calf, (knowing it to be unnecessary) but proceeds to cut up the carcass: then laying it on his horse, he returns towards home, followed by the poor calf, thus instinctively attending the remains of its dam. I have seen a single hunter ride into the town of Cincinnati, between the Miamis, followed in this manner, and, at the same time by three calves, who had lost their dams by this cruel hunter.
Since I have expressed a wish to see the Buffalo domesticated on the English farms, I will now mention of fact concerning it, within my own knowledge. A farmer, on the great Kenhawa, broke a young Buffalo to the plough having yoked it with the steer taken from his tame cattle. The Buffalo performed to admiration. Inquiring of the man, whether he had any fault to find with the buffalo’s performance he answered, there was but one objection to it: this step of the Buffalo was too quick for that of the tame steer. “My friend,” said I, “the fault lies not in the buffalo, but in the steer: what you term the fault in the former is really an advantage on its side.” Till this moment, the man had labored under one of those clouds of prejudice but too common among farmers. He had taken the ox of his father’s farm, as they give it whence all his calculations were to be made, and his conclusions drawn:-with his unchangeable standard of excellence, whether applied to the plough or the draught. No sooner was my observation uttered than conviction flashed on his mind. He acknowledge the superiority of the buffalo.
But there is another property in which the buffalo far surpasses the ox:-his strength. Judging from the extraordinary size of his bones, and the depth and formation of his chest, I should not think it unreasonable to assign nearly a double portion of strength to this powerful inhabitant of the forest. Reclaim him, and you gain a capital quadruped for the draught and for the plough: his activity peculiarly fits him for the latter, and preference to the ox.


Winter of 1799-1800 there were between 300-400 buffalo remaining in Pennsylvania.