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 Aug. 20, 1921


   After the Amulet had secured a load I went on her to Galena, having promised to do so when I first went on board.

  On my return to Stillwater we preceded to fit up two rafts for down river one of which was to follow me in charge of Aaron Winans, and my brother David.  The following men were in my crew: John & David Wray; Ed. Efner; Mat Thompson; C. Knapp; Joseph & Thos. James; Ad. Farrington; Jap Marcey; Phil. Arnett and his brother; Lover Laird and Jim Withrow.  Although the ice went out early it proved to be a backward spring and the weather was so cold that rafting was done with much difficulty and we were slow in getting started.  We had to cordell through the lakes as has been already described and had no bad luck until we reached the home of bully Wells at Frontenac.  We tied up for the night above the point that here projects into the lake, as the wind was from the south west and the point gave us some protection.  Early the next morning the wind changed to the north west and began to blow with great fury.  I was a wake early and heard the roar in the trees on the top of the bluff and realized that we must change our position at once.  All hands were called and I determined to get into the bay below the point where there was plenty of water and we would have fairly good shelter.  We pulled out with the oars so as to float free of the bank and the wind carried us along while we kept line out to shore to warp around the point.  It was a hair raising time with us; we pulled up a couple of trees with our check lines but we succeeded in making the turn, aided by the very high water which made it unnecessary to go far out into the lake.  By the time we wee in our new position the wind was raging in a terrific way and did not abate until early the next morning and then only for a short time when it raised again and blowed as on the previous day, and we were held there until the next morning before we could get away.

  Just a little while before we reached Stillwater, Sandy McPhail had started with a fleet of two lumber and two log rafts and, although we had neither seen nor heard of him, I was sure he was not far ahead of us, so after breakfast the first day of the blow I went to the top of the bluff and although we had no glasses we could see to the lower end of the lake and dimly saw what we were sure were McPahil’s rafts in trouble and in the course of he day our fears were verified by word from McPhail that this rafts were all broken to pieces.  It proved later that they were in a terrible condition.  The lumber was chawed and ground up and even the logs had the barn torn off and logs and lumber scattered all along the shore and running down the river.  The result was a long delay in re-rafting what could be save.  In addition to the large loss of lumber and logs they lost a portion of their cooking outfit and a large lot of supplies. This was a serious loss in those days as we could not go ashore as now, and replace the articles at the first town.

  While we were waiting for the gale to abate.  Cornelius Knapp, Jap Marcy and Lou Ferrington concluded to take advantage of the detention and make a visit to Maiden Rock, nearly directly across the lake.  They started out the first morning in a skiff with a sail but as they began to ship water, they dropped the side and went bounding along almost as fast and were soon on the other side with their skiff nearly full of water.  They spent the day on the rock and looking around and meantime the gale increased so that they did not dare attempt the return trip and spent a cold and dismal night running around in their wet clothes to keep warm until just before day break the wind lulled and they made their way back but none too soon as the wind son began to blow with increased fury.  They had an adventure and were glad to be back safely and I was greatly relieved to see them for I had concluded they were drowned.  Knapp, within the last few days has shown me that he has a vivid remembrance of the occasion.

  The wind abated on the morning of the third day so that we decided to start out.  This was about the 5th of May, 1847, and the weather was so cold that ice formed from the water that splashed over the top of the raft.  The wind was still down stream and soon pushed us out of the lake and into the current once more.  This was as severe a gale as I ever saw in lake Pepin and McPhail’s break up was as bad as any I have known and our own escape from disaster about as miraculous.

  Our trip was finished without any further incident that I can recall.  The lumber raft went to Holmes at St. Louis and I think the log raft was sold before reaching there.

  I returned at once to Stillwater, taking I thin, the Highland Mary to Galena and the Yankee from there.  Such a change was frequently made as many of the large boats did not o to Stillwater regularly but we could always get a boat to Stillwater from Galena.  On our return from Stillwater, Mr. McKusick had no rafts ready so I went up to Cedar Lake where rafting was being done by Socrates, Nelson& Co. the trip being made on the Pioneer in command of Capt. Perry Langford who is still living at his old home in Albany.  Nelson had a couple of rafts of long logs and these I contracted to take to St. Louis for him.  I had practically the same crew with me, mostly men from Albany and I placed surveyor Bruce in charge of the second raft in Lake Pepin we encountered a very high wind and ran into Bogus bay, which we could do at that stage of water, which helped us to et through the lake in god shape and in good time.  Bruce ran his raft into Buffalo slough, whether by mistake or in spite of himself I do not know, and I feared he would have trouble in getting through but he did not and came through without mishap only to find trouble a little further on by hanging up on a willow island or tow head and broke up his raft badly.  I saw his predicament but was obliged to go on some fifteen miles before finding a suitable place to tie up, and that brought a little below Winona.  We returned to Bruce soon as possible and it was a hard pull against the strong current, and commenced picking up and re-rafting his logs.  This kept us at the severest kind of labor for a week or more.  The water was falling and a large number of logs had to be rolled from dry ground into the water and being of extra long length sometimes it took nearly an entire crew to roll one.  In the disaster Bruce had the misfortune to run his cook house under a leaning tree and lost most of his cooking outfit.  This was a new experience to the most of my crew as hitherto we had very little fixing of broken rafts.  When at last we were ready to pull out we found the river had fallen four feet.  We had no further trouble and delivered our rafts to a man named Cochran at St. Louis and returned to Stillwater during the later part of August.


Collected and Transcribed by

Georgeann McClure


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