Library of Congress

Exhibitions

The Library of Congress > Exhibitions > Mapping a New Nation: Abel Buell’s Map of the United States, 1784 > Special Presentation

Across a New Nation

In 1783 Congress sent a messenger, Ephraim Douglass, to tell Britain’s Indian allies that the Revolutionary War was ending. The journal kept by Douglass’s travel companion George McCully brings the landscape of Buell's map alive.

View a digitized version of George McCully’s journal in its entirety »

Ephrain Douglass

Start

June 7, 1783

Leaving Fort Pitt

“You will announce to the different tribes [that they] must no longer look to the King beyond the Water.”

— Benjamin Lincoln to Ephraim Douglass, May 3, 1783

Appointed messenger to the “Seven Indian Nations on the Frontiers” by Secretary of War Benjamin Lincoln, Ephraim Douglass gathered horses and supplies at Pittsburgh (his home and the site of Fort Pitt), crossed the Allegheny River, and began his journey.

Map showing Fort Pitt

Enlarge Map showing Fort Pitt

Back Continue

Map showing Fort Pitt, drawn by George Washington, 1780.

George Washington. A map of the land abt. Red Stone and Fort Pitt 1780, detail. Ca. 1780. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress

Go Back

June 7, 1783

The Old Trading Path

“[F]ound the road intricate as the Bushes were lofty and in many places enterlocked in each other, so that it was impossible to follow the old path.”

Outside Pittsburgh Douglass took an Indian route he called “the old trading path.” Accompanying him was Pennsylvanian and Revolutionary War veteran George McCully, who kept a journal documenting their trip. McCully's journal begins with this description of the overgrown path.

Trading Path

Enlarge Trading Path Image

Back Continue

Mapmaker Thomas Hutchins identified the “old trading path” on this 1778 map.

Thomas Hutchins. A New Map of the Western Parts of Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and North Carolina (detail) 1778. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress

Go Back

June 7, 1783

Logstown, Pennsylvania

“…we came to many improvements about 1/2 of an Acre planted with Corn, and three or four rounds of Cabben logs laid up…”

Before the French and Indian War (1754-1763) Logstown on the Ohio River was an important trading center and meeting place for the Shawnee, Delaware, and Iroquois. By 1783 the Indians were gone and McCully saw signs of new settlement there.

Trading Path

Enlarge Trading Path Image

Trading Path

Enlarge Trading Path Image

Back Continue

On his 1778 map Thomas Hutchins shows Logstown on the “old trading path” and the Ohio River.

Thomas Hutchins. A New Map of the Western Parts of Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and North Carolina (detail) 1778. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress

Go Back

Mapmaker John Mitchell saw Anglo-American settlement at Logstown before the Revolutionary War.

John Mitchell. A Map of the British Colonies in North America, 1755 (detail). Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress

Go Back

June 10, 1783

River Crossing

“Here we are at a loss, the roads entirely disappearing.”

After a rainstorm Douglass and McCully “Gained Tuscorarrie [Tuscarawas] River which we found to be very high and rising very fast. Though by carrying our provisions and Baggage on our Backs we, on our horses got everything safe.” Then they got lost.

Enlarge Trading Path Image

Back Continue

The Tuscarawas River in 1905, more than a century after Douglass and McCully crossed it.

R. W. Johnston, “A Scene on the Beautiful Tuscarawas River,” 1905. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Go Back

June 11, 1783

Heavy Rain and Bees

“A heavy rain… obliged a large swarm of Bees to take refuge on the body of a tree where we encamped. They were our companions during our stay at the place.”

Douglass and McCully spent a wet night at a trading center called Mohican John’s Town, or John’s Town. Then they had to stay the whole next day when they could not get across rain-swollen John’s Creek.

Trading Path

Enlarge Trading Path Image

Back Continue

Mapmaker Thomas Hutchins shows “Mohicken John’s Town” at the intersection of the trading path and “White Woman’s Creek.”

Thomas Hutchins. A New Map of the Western Parts of Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and North Carolina (detail) 1778. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress

Go Back

June 16, 1783

Sandusky River

“Now brothers with this string (wampum…) I take the briars and thorns from your feet… I remove the fatigue and palpitation from your hearts.”

— Captain Pipe’s welcome

At this important Delaware town Douglass was welcomed by Delaware chief Hopocan, known as Captain Pipe. Douglass hoped to meet with neighboring tribes to deliver his message. But when he learned they were gathering with the British at Detroit he decided to go there.

Enlarge Trading Path Image

Back Continue

This possibly fanciful portrait shows Captain Pipe, the Delaware chief Douglass met on the Sandusky River.

[John Frost]. Heroes and Hunters of the West. Philadelphia: H. C. Peck and T. Bliss, 1853. General Collection, Library of Congress

Go Back

June 30, 1783

Moschetoes

“The country that we rode through today is an entire swamp… Here I suffered exceedingly from the assaults of the moschetoes; they were larger and more of them than I ever before saw.”

The Pennsylvania and Ohio wilderness through which McCully and Douglass traveled was very wet, full of streams, rivers, swamps, and lakes, including the Great Lakes. This watery landscape made travel difficult and dangerous.

Back Continue

July 1, 1783

Loyalist and British Agent

“[M]et Mr. Elliot who had been detached by the Commanding Officers at Detroit to prevent our speaking with the Indians. He was also directed to conduct us to Detroit.”

Near the Miami River, Douglass met Matthew Elliot. Elliot, a British Indian agent who lived with the Shawnee, was an old acquaintance of Douglass’s. Once traders together on the Pennsylvania and Ohio frontier, now they represented opposite sides.

Back Continue

July 3, 1783

Crossing the Huron River

“As soon as everything was over we moved on; passed many bad swamps and in six miles came to the Detroit River, where we encamped all night.”

The travelers met a series of small rivers and streams fanning west from Lake Erie. One, the Huron, was unfordable but “we found on the water a small bark canoe that we and our baggage crossed in. Our horses swam.”

Enlarge Trading Path Image

Back Continue

Douglass and McCully may have crossed the Huron River in a canoe like this one.

Seth Eastman. “Spearfishing in a Canoe,” in Henry R. Schoolcraft, Information Respecting the History, Condition, and Prospects of the Indian Tribes, vol. 2. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo, 1855. General Collections, Library of Congress

Go Back

July 4, 1783

Arriving at Fort Detroit

“[Depeyster] had no official information to justify his supposing that the States extended to this place, and therefore could not consent to the Indians being told so.”

— Ephraim Douglass to Benjamin Lincoln, August 18, 1783

At Detroit Douglass hoped to meet with the representatives of eleven Indian nations who were gathered there to meet with the British. Fort Detroit’s commander, Arent Schuyler Depeyster, refused to allow Douglass to speak to them.

Trading Path

Enlarge Trading Path Image

Back Continue

Fort Detroit in 1796, with Indian camp.

Go Back

July 7, 1783

Meeting Joseph Brant

“Captain Brant came from the Mohawk Village to see me… Brant insisted that they would make a point of having them [Indian lands] secured before they would enter into any farther or other Treaty.”

— Ephraim Douglass to Benjamin Lincoln, August 18, 1783

The British commander at Fort Niagara also refused to let Douglass speak with his Indian allies. However, Mohawk leader Joseph Brant, or Theyendenegea, came to speak with Douglass. Brant and Douglass discussed the future of Indian lands and spent a long evening in “friendly argument.”

Trading Path

Enlarge Trading Path Image

Enlarge Trading Path Image

Back Start Again

Joseph Brant, Mohawk Chief

Joseph Thayendaneken the Mohawk Chief printed in The London Magazine, July, 1776. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress

Go Back

Fort Niagara on Lake Ontario, New York, 1814

William Strickland. Fort Niagara Taken from the British Side of the River at Newark. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Go Back

Back to top