September 10, 1803
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Aug 30, 1803 Sep 30, 1806

September 10, 1803


The rain ceased about day, the clouds had not dispersed, and looked very much like giving us a repetition of the last evening's frallic, there was but little fogg and I should have been able to have set out at sunrise, but the Corporal had not yet returned with the bread—    I began to fear that he was 〈miffed〉 piqued with the sharp reprimand I gave him the evening before for his negligence & inattention with respect to the bread and had deserted; in this however I was agreeably disappointed, about 8 in the morning he came up bring with him the two men and the bread, they instantly embarked and we set out    we passed several very bad riffles this morning at at 11 Oclock six miles below our encampment of last evening I landed on the east side of R. and went on shore to view a remarkable artificial mound of earth called by the people in this neighbourhood the Indian grave.— [1]

This remarkable mound of earth stands on the east bank of the Ohio 12 miles below Wheeling and about 700 paces from the river, as the land is not cleard the mound is not visible from the river—this mound gives name to two small creeks called little and big grave creek [2] which passing about a half a mile on each side of it & fall into ohio about a mile distant from each other    the small creek is above, the mound stands on the most elivated ground of a large bottom containing about 4000 acres of land    the bottom is bounded from N. E. to S. W. by a high range of hills which seem to discribe a simecircle around it of which the river is the dimater, the hills being more distant from the mound than the river, near the mound to the N. stands a small town lately laid out called Elizabeth-town [3] there are but about six or seven dwelling houses in it as yet, in this town there are several mounds of the same kind of the large one but not near as large, in various parts of this bottom the traces of old intrenchments are to be seen tho' they are so imperfect that they cannot be traced in such manner as to make any complete figure; for this enquire I had not leasure. I shall therefore content myself by giving a discription of the large mound and offering some conjectures with regard to the probable purposes for which they were intended by their founders; who ever they may have been.—

the mound is nearly a regular cone 310 yards in circumpherence at it's base & 65 feet high terminating in a blont point whose diameter is 30 feet, this point is concave being depressed about five feet in the center, arround the base runs a ditch 60 feet in width which is broken or intesected by a ledge of earth raised as high as the outer bank of the ditch on the N. W. side, this bank is about 30 feet wide and appers to have formed the enterence to fortifyed mound—    near the summet of this mound grows a white oak tree whose girth is 13 ½ feet, from the aged appeance of this tree I think it's age might resonably calculated at 300 years, the whole mound is covered with large timber, sugar tree, hickory, poplar, red and white oak &c— [4] I was informed that in removing the earth of a part of one of those lesser mounds that stands in the town the skeletons of two men were found and some brass beads were found among the earth near these bones, my informant told me the beads were sent to Mr. Peals museum [5] in Philadelphia where he believed they now were.— [6]

we got on twenty four miles this day.    we passed some bad riffles but got over them without the assistance of cattle    came too on the E. side in deep water and a bold shore    staid all night a little above sunfish creek [7]

1. Now Grave Creek Mound, at Moundsville, Marshall County, West Virginia, the largest conical tumulus in the Ohio valley, similar to those of the Adena culture of the area. Descriptions vary, but it is over seventy feet in height, some nine hundred feet in circumference at the base, and approximately fifty feet across at the top. One excavation found it to contain two large timbered burial vaults. West Virginia Guide, 513; Hodge, 1:506–7. The mound is pre-Hopewellian and is estimated to date from 100 B.C. James B. Griffin, professor emeritus of anthropology, University of Michigan, personal communication. (back)
2. Now Little Grave Creek and Grave Creek, flowing into the Ohio north and south of Moundsville, respectively. (back)
3. Joseph Tomlinson, Jr., laid out the town in 1798 and named it for his wife. It was consolidated with nearby Mound City in 1865 as Moundsville, county seat of Marshall County West Virginia Guide, 513; Thwaites (EWT), 3:360 n. 40. (back)
4. The "sugar tree" is probably Acer saccharum Marsh., sugar, rock, or hard maple, but possibly A. saccharinum L., silver, white, or soft maple; the hickory can be one of five species of Carya; the poplar is Liriodendron tulipifera L., tulip tree, tulip-poplar, poplar, whitewood; the red oak is Quercus borealis Michx. var. maxima (Marsh.) Ashe, northern red oak; the white oak is Q. alba L. Fernald, 986–88, 676, 543; Gleason & Cronquist, 453–54, 252; Little, 112-E, 113-E, 115-E, 117-E, 118-E. These species are more or less typical of the upland dedicuous mixed mesophytic forests of the Cumberland Plateau region as described by Braun, 52. (back)
5. Charles Willson Peale, noted portrait painter and father of a family of artists, was also the proprietor of Peale's Museum in Philadelphia, at the time the only natural history museum in the country. He began it in 1786 with fossils from Big Bone Lick in Kentucky; by 1802 he had 1,800 different birds, 250 "quadrupeds," and innumerable other species. At the time of the expedition the museum was housed in present Independence Hall. Peale was a friend of Jefferson and probably acquainted with Lewis, who would send back specimens eventually housed in his institution. Sellers; Kastner, 143–58. (back)
6. The remaining one-half page and the next five pages are blank. Perhaps Lewis had in mind writing further descriptions. (back)
7. In Marshall County, nearly opposite Clarington, Ohio. There may be some confusion about Sunfish Creek which is identified by Cramer (5th), as another stream higher up the Ohio. Quaife (MLJO), 42 n. 2. (back)