Extracts of a letter from a gentleman at the Muskingum, to the printer of the Massachusetts Spy, written on the spot where the first city of that territory is to be built.
Adelphi, May 16, 1788.
I am much pleased with the purchase we have made, and am fully determined to fix my residence here. That part of the purchase I have been over far exceeds my expectations. From our eastern boundary to the Muskingum (a distance of about five miles), the intervals, or what the people of this country call bottoms, are from one-half to three-quarters of a mile wide; these, in richness and apparent fertility of soil, exceed anything I ever saw east of the Allegheny mountains.
Next to these are what is called second bottoms, which are elevated plains, and gentle risings of the richest uplands and as free from stone as the lower first bottom, except in some few instances where these elevated plains consist of a shallow, light, and sometimes sandy soil, under which appears an open, loose earth.
Back of these commence the hills which, in general, are considerably uneven and separated by deep hollow grounds, where flow innumerable rivulets which have their source from springs which rise among the hills, the most of which are free from stone, and consist of a rich and deep soil suited to the culture of wheat, grazing, etc. In this distance fall into the Ohio two very considerable creeks, called Little Muskingum and Duck Creek. In the spring these are navigable for boats more than twenty miles, and afford large tracts of the best bottoms and uplands for farming.
We have surveyed the lots of one mile square on both sides the Muskingum for fifteen miles up. A description of the lands in this distance would be only a repetition of that already given of that on the Ohio. The timber growing on the lands above described are of the kind mentioned by Mr. Hutchins and others, but I must confess the trees are larger and more numerous than I expected to find.
We have found plenty of limestone, as well as fine building stone at a small distance up the Muskingum, sufficient for building the city, or any other purpose for which they may be wanted. At present we go 20 miles up the river for pit-coal, but there is no doubt plenty will be found nearer; we have found several salt-licks within our surveys, and are assured there is a salt spring about 40 miles up the Muskingum, from which a sufficient quantity of salt for the supply of the country may be made. Some gentlemen at Fort Harmar doubt this information, but say a sufficient quantity may be made at a spring on the banks of the Scioto.
We have had no time yet to go in search of iron ore; but one of our people has brought in a small stone taken from one of the neighboring hills, which I found on trial, to contain a rich iron ore. We find the seasons here much more forward than even at Pittsburg; by the 7th of April there was as good feed for cattle on the banks of the Muskingum, as you will generally find by the middle of May in the best enclosures in the county of Worcester.
To give some idea of beginning a settlement in this country, compared with Vermont or any new country to the northward, I state the following fact: About a dozen families removed to this place about a year ago last March, and settled opposite Fort Harmar, on the Virginia side of the Ohio; these lands were the same as ours, and evidently new; they raised 1000 bushels of corn last season, and although the last winter was very severe, they wintered, without any hay (making use of their husks and stalks with some corn) between 60 and 70 horses and neat cattle, fatted a sufficient quantity of pork for their own consumption, besides wintering over a large number of swine.
From the plot of ground laid out for building the city of Adelphi, we have a most delightful prospect; from this ground you will have a full view of the waters of the Ohio, eight or nine miles up that river, and five below, and of the Muskingum from the mouth five or six miles up. The front line of house lots is 95 yards from the Muskingum and parallel thereto. All the space between them and the river is to remain an open space or common. The course of this street is north 40 degrees west, and extends in length one mile. All the streets are parallel or at right angles with that, but from some hollow ground and rivulets the city will not be parallelogram, although that figure has been aimed at as much as the situation would admit.
The northeast end thereof is bordered by a beautiful brook, which I am informed, runs all the year; the southeast end and part of the rear is bounded by another creek larger than the former, which will afford a good canal for boats to pass up when the waters of the Muskingum are high. The house lots, in their nearest approach to the Ohio, are distant therefrom 25 perch and separated from it by the last mentioned creek and low interval lands of the first quality; a part of the house lots towards the rear are separated from the rest by a deep hollow ground, through which the last mentioned creek passes. These lots are situated on ground gently ascending toward the northeast, which further on terminates in very considerable hills, in which rise eight springs, the sources of the creek last mentioned. These, with a comparative small expense, may be collected into one great reservoir and conducted to any part of the city.
The city plot includes the ruins of some ancient town or works, of which the world has heard much of late. I have not had time to take an accurate survey of them all, therefore must omit a particular description thereof, but I must confess I was greatly surprised in finding those works so perfect as to put it beyond all doubt that they are the remains of a work erected at an amazing expense, perhaps some thousand years since, but a people who had very considerable knowledge in fortifications. In laying out our city we have preserved some of the work from becoming private property by including them within lots or squares appropriated to public uses, viz: An advanced work containing a mound of earth in the figure of a cone, the base of which is 376 feet in circumference and in thirty feet perpendicular, surrounded by a parapet 580 feet in circumference and 15 feet thick, having a ditch 15 feet wide, and at present about three feet deep, and on the side next the town, or principal works, an open space without parapet or ditch, where it is presumed was the gate or place of entrance.
We have also, in the same manner, secured for public use two elevated mounds of earth situated within the walls of the great oblong square, or principal fortification; one of them is nearly of a square figure, the sides measuring 153.45 feet by 135.7 feet, is raised about five feet above the common surface, and on the top a horizontal plain of the above dimensions, having on three sides thereof gentle ascents projecting out, of about 20 feet wide, in the form of glacis, for the convenience of walking up; and on the fourth side is an indented ascent of the same width.
The other elevated square is an oblong of 200 feet by 124 feet, of about the same height, and as level on the top as the other, and regular projecting ascents on each side thereof. These appear to have been the foundation of some spacious public buildings, but however that may be, they are very convenient, and now reserved for that purpose. The rest of the works can remain, when the city is built, on paper only.
As to the natives, the ensuing treaty I trust will be conducted on principles of honor and justice and end to the satisfaction of that, as I conceive, much injured people. When we arrived at this place we fortunately found Captain Pipes, the chief of the Delaware tribe, with about 70 men, women and children, of that and the Wyandotte tribe, at Fort Harmar, who had come down to trade. We were introduced to them by the commanding officer. Capt. Pipes some days after, with about twenty others, came over and dined with me. We gave them to understand our business and that we hoped to live in friendship, and should be glad to see them or any of their friends at all times. Captain Pipes told us that they should be happy to live by us, but did not expect any people would come on to settle before the treaty. We told him we had brought no families, nor would any come until after the treaty, when we expected everything would be settled to their satisfaction. In the meantime it was necessary we should plant some corn. Captain Pipes appeared fully satisfied, and parted with avowing his friendship should continue as long as the sun and moon endured.
Since making up his new acquaintance, we have more or less of our Indian friends to visit us almost every day, who appear in perfect good humor, and fully as happy as we in the new acquaintance, but nothing is said about our settlement, except one of their chiefs who is now at the fort, and appears to be a very sensible, sober old gentleman; on one of his visits to us told me that "he thanked God that the way was cleared so that they could come down with safety to trade. That Captain Pipes told him he and all the Indians were used exceedingly well by us; that he was very glad to see me here, but there was some things he should not speak of until they met in the great council, meaning the treaty."