Journal of Jefferson Van Horne — Choctaw Removal, November-December 1832
Journal of a part of a large detachment of emigrating Choctaws in charge of Lieut. J. Van Horne United States disbursing agent on their way from Little Rock Ark. to their new country near Fort Towson.
29th At sunrise on the morning of the 29th November, I commenced crossing the party of Six Towns assigned to me consisting of 629 people, with 14 hired teams and 9 native teams. I counted the people as they crossed the [Arkansas] river. We encamped about 4 miles from Little Rock, convenient to water and wood. 4 miles
30th Proceeded at half past seven o’clock over a good road to the stand on Hurricane Creek where the party arrived at half past four o’clock. Issued two days provisions and forage in the evening. The whole party was comfortably encamped and cooking their supper early in the evening. 15 miles
Dec. 1st Started at eight o’clock and proceeded leisurely over a good road until about half past two o’clock. We could easily have gone much further but Lieut. Montgomery’s party was not far ahead and I deemed it best to keep a day’s journey in rear of them. The party traveled with great cheerfulness and harmony and were fast improving in health. When I joined the main party east of Little Rock; great numbers were sick and considerable numbers dying. 11 miles
2nd It rained powerfully last night. Started at eight o’clock. Issued two days supplies for the 3rd & 4th. Six people and twenty-four horses joined from the horse party. I rejected a quantity of beef presented at this stand. It had been slaughtered too long and was spoiled. Other beef was furnished in its place. Encamped at half past three o’clock convenient to wood and water. 12 miles
3rd Started at eight o’clock. I gave a certificate for crossing 584 of my people, (small children not counted) at the ferry over the Washita river. Sixty-five of David Fulsom’s people, who had fallen back from Lieut. Phillips party being unable to get over, requested me to cross them. I did so. All the teams and horses of my party forded but the river was too deep & swift for the people to do so. A man in the employ of Davis, the ferryman, made several of my party drunk, notwithstanding I went into his shop before my party came up and obtained his pledge that they should not have any liquor. Some of Lieut. Phillips party whom I found here had been beastly drunk for many days. We encamped about 4 o’clock on the banks of a beautiful creek. 12 miles
4th Started about 8 o’clock. One birth since last__. Issued to 634 people. Encamped about 4 o’clock on a fine stream. 12 miles
5th All the captains called on me in a body and desired me to wait until the cart of their head man Etotahoma (which broke down last evening and was unable to get to camp,) should be brought up. I had sent back more than once and had much trouble to get this old man and his cart along. His oxen were poor and worn out, and his cart badly constructed. but he was looked to and beloved by the whole party. He would not part with his cart and although it might have been policy to go on and leave the wretched old establishment, I found it impossible to get his people along without him. He was old, lame and captious, and gave us more trouble than all the rest of the party. Proceeded at half past 9 o’clock and crossed the Cadeau. As the weather was cold and the water deep and swift, the teams, horses and young men forded and the women, children and old men were crossed in the boat. Etotahoma’s cart was brought up and repaired. Encamped about 4 o’clock. 9 ½ miles
6th Started at eight o’clock. Encamped at the stand at Hynight at half past three o’clock and issued two days supply. 13 miles
7th Rained all last night and the whole day severely. Found it difficult to start the party at nine o’clock. Etotahoma’s cart fell to the rear again. I sent back Mr. Bryn and the interpreter with a yoke of oxen and a driver to bring it up. Encamped about four o’clock. The rain continued in the night. 12 miles
8th Started at 8 o’clock The Little Missouri river had risen considerably but I managed to get the teams and horses through it. I crossed the people in the boat counting only grown persons. I gave a certificate for the passage of 340. The road was pretty muddy this day. We encamped at the stand at half past three o’clock & two days provisions & forage were issued. 13 miles
9th Notwithstanding I had hired a yoke of oxen and driver to bring Etotahoma’s cart up with the party. He failed to bring it further than Little Missouri river. Many of Etotahoma’s people had stopped behind and this morning all the captains called on me and requested that the party might lay by this day (Sunday) to allow all to get up with the party and that they might wash, mend their moccasin’s and rest. They said Etotahoma was their chief, that they all love him, that he was old and lame, and that they were all unwilling to go on and leave him behind. I remained, made a new axel tree for his cart, brought it up with a fresh yoke of oxen and to prevent any more trouble hauled his cart with this yoke of oxen all the remainder of the journey. Five people with five horses came to me here stating that they had quit Lieut. Phillips party to hunt for horses that had strayed. As they were known to my interpreter I took them on with my party.
10th Started at 8 o’clock. Roads much cut up and muddy. Reached Washington Ark at two o’clock. As there was no water on the road short of eight miles, we encamped here. I have paid off and discharged Mr. Byrn Ast. Conductor. Mr. Campbell Ast. Agent having joined and reported for duty. 12 miles
11th Started at eight o’clock. Road heavy and muddy. Encamped at the stand at half past three o’clock and issued _____. 10 miles
12th Started about eight o’clock. Road muddy as far as Mine Creek then good. Encamped at half past 4 o’clock. 14 miles
13th Started at half past seven o’clock. Issued provisions and forage at nine o’clock A. M. and proceeded through a heavy rain. Encamped at half past four o’clock. 16 miles
14th Proceeded at half past seven over three miles of bad & 13 miles of good road. Reached the stand at Little River at 4 o’clock. Provisions & forage issued in the evening. 16 miles
15th Commenced crossing the river at day-break. I counted the people by companies as they crossed. I remained to cross the whole party and directed Mr. Campbell to go forward six miles and a half and show them where to camp. Some teams arrived at the camp in the day and one or two did not get up until dark. 6 ½ miles
16th Started at eight o’clock, and encamped at sunset. 16 miles
17th Started at half past 7 o’clock and made two miles to the stand at D. Fulsom’s. Here I obtained two days supplies for the 18th & 19th and left the five people & five ponies of Lieut. Phillips party who came on with me. We then proceeded twelve miles further and encamped on a beautiful spot convenient to excellent water and wood. 14 miles
18th Started at eight o’clock. For the last few days we had been met by many of the Choctaw emigrants of proceeding years coming to meet their friends and relatives. My party had dressed themselves neatly for the occasion and seemed in fine health and spirits. Agreeable to the wishes of the party and of Col. Nail, their chief. I made a final encampment at half past one o’clock four miles east of Clear Creek. When I forthwith discharged all the teamsters, and mustered the people who were enrolled by the issuing officer, numbering 648 persons.
J. Van Horne Lieut. 3rd Infy.
Disbursing Agt. Choctaw removal.
Source: National Archives Record Group, Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Entry 210, Records of the Commissary General of Subsistence, Letters received, Choctaw, 1833, Box 11.
Transcribed by Carolyn Y. Kent