Chronicles of Oklahoma

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Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 8, No. 2
June, 1930

W. Julian Fessler

Page 181

(Oklahoma section)

Jacob Fowler's Map

The Oklahoma section of Jacob Fowler's journal is disappointingly short. Much is left to be desired both as to a more detailed description of the country passed and about the personages met and those composing the Fowler party. Especially is this true concerning Hugh Glenn and Nathaniel Pryor. These two men have left such a deep impress upon the commercial history of early Oklahoma that we would have been indeed grateful to Major Fowler, if he had only written just a few intimate glimpses of these men as he rode with them during the day and camped with them by night. But he did not. It is all too short, especially since it is the first written record of an overland expedition across the northeast corner of the present state of Oklahoma.

Next to nothing is known of Jacob Fowler, himself. If it were not for a letter from R. T. Durrett of Louisville, Ky., concerning the Major to Dr. Elliott Coues, there would be nothing. Mr. Durrett was the owner of the original journal which is not signed, but is considered by Fowler's descendants to have been written by him. Mr. Durrett came into possession of the manuscript from a great-granddaughter of Jacob Fowler.

The Fowler family was prominent in Kentucky from an early date. They were noted as owners of far-flung acres of land, and one was sent to Congress. It is not known for certain whether Jacob Fowler belonged to this same family of Fowlers, but at least, he had two things in common with them, namely, that he was a Kentuckian by adoption and a large landowner. Among other possessions, he owned two thousand acres of the present site of Covington, Kentucky. He was too kind-hearted though, and his signature to a bad note proved his downfall, wiping away all his lands. Shortly afterward, he went west to enter the Indian trade and recoup his fortune.

Major Fowler was born in New York, in 1765, and settled in Kentucky in early life, a fine specimen of physical manhood, fully equipped for the office and duties of a surveyor. His surveying instruments were the best of their day, and elicited no little envy from his acquaintances. He had

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the reputation of being an accomplished surveyor, and did much in this line for the United States government. His surveying extended to the Great Plains and the mountains of the far West, before civilization came to those parts.

While Fowler was away on his surveying trips, his wife would supervise, expertly, their Kentucky farm. She was of French extraction, and the grapes and apples grown on the place were made into wine and cider in accordance with the expert knowledge she had received from her ancestors. Her great-grandchildren of today tell of the life in camp when she was with her husband on one surveying expedition. The tent floor was nicely carpeted; a comfortable bed invited repose after the toil of the day; dainty china, bright cut glass, and shining silverware were used on the camp table.

Major Fowler died in Covington in the year 1850. His life as a surveyor and an explorer of the West subjected him to many hardships, but he remained exceptionally hardy until the very end. He is said to have many descendants in Kentucky and Ohio.

It is disappointing, after reading of Fowler's qualifications, to turn over and peruse his journal, for the spelling is abominable. It is evident that he never would have won a prize in an old-time spelling bee. In order to keep from being too harsh on the old gentleman, in the matter of his spelling vagaries, possibly some allowance should be given for change in spelling forms during the last hundred years. Just how much this allowance should be, it would be hard to tell. An impelling reason for the editing of the Oklahoma part of Fowler's journal was an insatiable desire on the part of the editor to see just where the old gentleman and his friends did go while visiting Oklahoma so many years ago.

Oklahoma City



thorsday 6th Sept 1821

We Set out from fort Smith on the arkensaw and Crossing that River pased threw a bottom of Rich Land Well timbered and much Kaine—thence over Low Ridges the land poor and in some places Rockey—at 30 miles crossed the tallecaw1

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a Crick about 150 feet wid Large bottoms on bothe Sides and at ten miles farther Crosed the Illinois River2 about 80 yds Wide and about one mile farther Stoped for the night at Beens Salt Workes3—this is the Second night Since We left the fort4—the Workes one Small Well With a few kittles

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about 55 gallons of Watter make a bushil of Salt and the Well affords Watter to boil the kittles about three days in the Weake Been and Sanders Has permission of the govem (government) to Worke the Salt Spring—they sell the Salt at one dollar per Bushil—from Heare We pased over Some High poor Hills Some valleys and Some pirarie lands about twenty miles to a large bottom Weel Covered in parts With Caine and Well timbered—threw Which We pased about Eight miles to grand River or Six bull.5 this is fine bold Streem of Clear Watter about 150 yd Wide Which We forde but not Without Some doupts—the Watter Runing With great force—about one mile above the mouth of this River is the mouth of the virdegrees6—a River of about one Hundred yds Wid deep and muddy at the mouth and up it to the Rapids about four miles Wheare there is a trading House.7 but we Stoped at the trading Hous of Conl Hugh glann8 about mile up the virdegree Wheare We Remained till the 25th Sept makeing a Raingment for our gurney to the mountains—Heare five of our Hunters Left us and Went Home this Sircumstance much dispereted

Page 185

more of our men—tho We Still determined to purced—and on the 25th of Sept 1821 We found our Selves 20 men in all, and under the Command of Conl Hugh glann With mager Jacob Fowler Robert Fowler Roy Battis Peno george Douglas Nat Pryer9 Bono Barbo Lewis Dauson Taylor Taylor Richard Walters Ward Jese vanbeber Slovre Simpson Maxwell Findley Battis moran and Pall a black man the property of mager Fowler we Head thirty Horses and mules Seventeen of Which traps and goods for the Indian traid—and Each man mounted on Horseback—We left the traiding House in the afternoon—North 50 West about five miles to a Small Crick10 Which Runs West in to the virdegree—the Bottom between the Six bull and virdegree is High and Rich Well timbered With Some Caine and is about one and a Half miles Wide to the Hills—from What We Cold Learn there is no Caine above this on the arkensaw—We passed to day Some Pirarie Cirted With Wood land Some timber on the Crick it Rained Hard We Packed up our goods and Covered them With Skins to keep them dry and Piched our tents for the night—Conl. Hugh glann Haveing Left us and gon by the mishenerys,11 and to meet us Some Wheare a Head—

26th We Set out Early along the Road Leading to the osage vilege12 threw fine Pirarie Lands a little Rolling and

Page 186

Scirted With Timber the ground is Black and Rich and the vew the most delightful We this day maid 20 miles threw the Rain Which Continued all day at night Camped on a Crick13 about 50 feet Wid Runs West With an Extensive Beed of Stone Coal in its bottom there is Some Wood along the Crick but the Cuntry is mostly Pirarie a little Rolling Scirted With groves of timber Heare the Rain Continued all night—Heare one of our Hunters—Slover Lay out all night but came in in the morning

27th We set out Early along the path threw the Pirarie—timber still to be seen in groves and along the Branches—We maid 20 miles and Camped on a Small Crick14 well timbered—Heare we found Findley He left us 2 days ago—and was Heare for us this day was Clear and pleesent Robert Fowler killed a Large Buck—one Hors gave out was left

28th Sept 1821 Rained all day we Remained in Camp—

29th the Weather Clear We Set out Early and was Soon over taken by Conl glann and soon after in Sight of the Osage vilege.15 Heare We Ware delited With a vew of a nomber of Hills16 or mounds nearely of the Same Hight. from 70 to 80 feet but of different Shapes Some Round and Pointed like a Stack other squair and flat. and the top of one near the vilege Contains about 15 acres of Rich Black land17 and great part of the Bluff faced With a parpendickler Rock—so that with but little labor a few men might keep

Page 187

off a large army—Heare is one of the most delight full peace of Cuntry I Have Ever Seen—of Rich lime stone land mixed With Wood lands the Pirarie is more Extensive than Woods—

Heare We find not one sole in or about the vilege the Indeans are all gon a buffelaw Hunting and are not Exspected to return till in the Winter. We find our journey to this place one Continued Corse North 50 W Heare we Crossed the virdegree and got on Higher grounds and Nearly Covered With Rocks in Some places and Steered North 70 West 10 miles to a small Crick18 Runing South and Well timbered—Heare We Camped for the night—We Seen this day Some Wild Horses game is scars We this day find our Horses two Heavey loaded and Concluded to leave part (of their loads) 30th Sept 1821

We this morning Berryed or Cashed (cached) as the French Call it 32 Bever traps 2 Cases of tobacco and fifty pounds of Brass Weir on the West Bant of the Creek 200 yds above the large Road and 50 below the small path on Which is a Connu (canoe) marked on an oack

October 1th 1821

We Setout Early and Stered North 50 West to the little virdegre—19 Wheare a large Indean Road Cross it this River is about 30 yds Wide With Clear Watter and High Banks—and large inCampment on the East Side. Heare we Crossed to the West Side and followed the North forke of the Road about one mile to another Branch of the Same River but not more than ten Steps Wide both Streems Running South With Rich timbered bottom between the boath—after pasing this forke We Stered the Same Corse threw Roling Pirarie ten miles to a mound. to the North and East the Cuntry is a little Rolling mostly Pirarie With timber along the Branches on our left the mountains or High Hills appeer at from four to five miles distance Heare to avoid the Hills Which Continu on our left We Steered N 30 West six mill (miles) and Camped on the little virdegree20— Peno Went off to Hunt in the fore part of this day and did not Return—

Page 188

2nd October 1821
We set out Early and pased over High Leavel Pirarie lands North 45 West three miles to the High Hills Crossing a small Bransh Running North at the futt of them—We after Some time gained the top of the Hills and found the Cuntry Rolling and partly timbered and partly Pirarie at twelve miles farther We Crossed the little virdigree again and camped on the North Bank Heare21 Duglass got lost in the Evenings hunt and lay out all night

3rd October 1821
this morning our Horses Ware much Scattered and took us till a late our to Collect them—Duglass found the Way to Camp—and Peno Came in with Some Veneson Having killed three deer—Heare we found a large Indean Road going up the Crick and Crossing some of its Branches South 30 West and the Hills being High We followed the Road. the lands poor With Short oack and Hickory for about fifteen miles Wheare the Cuntry begins to appear With fine Rich Piraries Well bordered With Wood lands of a good quality We this day got one deer and Some turkeys game is getting more plenty—We maid 20 miles and Camped on a Small Crick22 Running South—

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