17o0’s, the white men have killed most of the wild buffalo in Virginia


 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. There 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)



1554 American Bison Drawing
American Bison illus. with descriptive text in Spanish 1554 Francisco López de Gómara, La Historia General de las Indians LOC 2006677962




Henry Kellsey, a factor of the Hudson Bay Company, in a report of his explorations in the far west of Canada, in 1691, tells of his party sighting buffalo in large numbers. A few years later this explorer became the first white buffalo hunter on the plains of western Canada. He tells that everywhere the Indians were slaughtering, taking only the choice pieces and leaving the greater portion of each slain body to the wolves which followed in large bands.

1699 Buffalo Drawing
 1699, Buffalo Drawing LOC-A new discovery of a vast country in America. Louis Hennepin, London LOC



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.


The Pennsylvania Gazette- 1700’s – July 4 1765

1700's  Buffalo Bull Calf


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


The Virginia Gazette

Nov 18th 1773

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 an 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 where with Certainty, any Quantity needed may be easily and conveniently made. Large Tracts of Land lie on Lime-stone, and in several Places there is 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
July 23 1785

1700's  Description of Kentucky country July 23 1785


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


The Independent Gazetteer
July 26 1793

1700's  Thoughts about the Indians July 26 1793


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 then 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.