Lewis and Clark and Big Bone Lick


James Duvall, M. A.

At the Big Bone University Press

Nec ossa solum, sed etiam sanguinem.

Big Bone




      My purpose here today in presenting this paper is not so much to supply you with information, though perhaps there may be a few scraps here that even the experts on the subject may have missed; but to offer you an interpretation of Big Bone Lick in American history. The importance of Big Bone Lick went far beyond the local area; it was a place of national and international significance, from a scientific and antiquarian viewpoint. It stood also at the confluence of a great movement of people to the west, which affected the entire nation, east and west. I would like to offer you a perspective of the westward movement from this place, Big Bone Lick.

      The past never completely dies; it leaves traces which survive in the present, and by which it can be recovered. Most of the traces by which we can understand the history of Big Bone Lick are not apparent to a casual observer; there is little in the topography to show how unusual the area once was, or even to tell you the significance of the name. If you walked long enough, perhaps the most unusual thing you would notice is a muddy spring with a strong smell of sulphur. You might even wonder why someone doesn't do something about it. It is in fact what makes the lick a lick. As we move back in time, we begin to notice things used to be different here.

      In the century that is behind us there were several excavations, and you might have seem some unusual things had you been here then. From time to time you might have joined in the excitement as a huge bone or tusk was taken from the soil. You would certainly have read about it in the newspaper. There are people here today who could tell you that there are very interesting artifacts below the surface at Big Bone Lick.

      If you moved back a century earlier, to the 1800's, you would observe things were even more unusual. You would have seen the rise and fall of two hotels, called then watering places, where people actually came to drink this strong-smelling water with a bluish colour. In those days you would have seen quite a number of excavations, though, with some exceptions, most of them were not of the highest scientific caliber. You would witness the beginnings of a commercial salt industry, and of a budding steamboat building industry: we produced a total of four steamboats between 1824 and 1827, that is until the white oak timber gave out. Had you been of a different generation you would have observed how the civil war affected the area. If you had been at Big Bone Lick on the cold and snowy morning of 29 December 1863 perhaps you would have observed John Hunt Morgan and Capt. Hines ride by with their guide Perry Corbin. These are just some of the many events that occured here; but it was the lick that linked the area to the outside world, and was its chief claim to fame.

      A number of explorers arrived here before Lewis and Clark; many bone hunters and excavators came after them. One writer says of the expedition sent by Jefferson:

  The Lewis and Clark Expedition was probably the greatest prespace exploration carried out by Americans. It broadened our knowledge and introduced numerous plants and animals to western science. But it also threw irreconcilable cultures into conflict, and permanently altered the land. We must forever lament our failure to reap the benefits of this great exploration without suffering the attendant calamities.*

This Expedition, motivated by a curious mixture of science, propaganda and politics, and its connection with Big Bone Lick, will help us to understand the context of the westward movement. It was the historical events of the movement which sent forth this expedition that gave Big Bone its scientific importance.

Lewis and Clark and the Way West

      The Expedition of Lewis and Clark as it relates to Big Bone Lick will be our focus today. At this point we have stepped back two centuries, and have cleared the way of things that stand between us and them. We should be aware that the visit of single individuals, even at the behest of the President of the United States, is a mere incident in the life of a Salt Lick — we need to keep a sense of perspective here. It was Big Bone Lick that was important to them, not they to it. Our object here is to concentrate on the history of the lick, and show why it was important to them and how that related to their larger objectives.

      Thomas Jefferson made the following request in a letter:

  Any observations of your own on the subject of the big bones or their history, or on any thing else in the Western country, will come acceptably to me, because I know you see the works of nature in the great, and not merely in detail. Descriptions of animals, vegetables, minerals, or other curious things, notes as to the Indians, information of the country between the Missisipi (sic) and waters of the South set &c. will strike your mind as worthy being communicated. I wish you had more time to pay attention to them.*1

     This is an extract from a letter written by Jefferson, not in 1803 but in 1782, and not to William Clark, but to his more famous older brother, George Rogers Clark. Jefferson and the older Clark kept up a correspondence on scientific subjects, particularly on the fossils at Big Bone Lick. Clark promised to send Jefferson a collection of bones, but was prevented from it for various reasons, chief of which was the area was subject to regular Indian incursions. As early as December of 1781 Jefferson had sent a letter by Col. Daniel Boone requesting Clark to send him bones, and especially teeth from the Lick.*2

      George Rogers Clark was, perhaps more than any other person, the man who put the United States in the position to make an Expedition to the Pacific Coast possible. He directed the military campaigns against the British and Indians, when Kentucky was in eminent danger, and carried the war into the Northwest territory. Furthermore knew the West better than any other man. It was due to George Rogers Clark, as Jefferson once acknowledged in a private letter, that most of the information he published about the Western country was so accurate.*3 Clark was interested in the natural history of the country, and picked up many specimens of the great bones on the rocks of the Falls of Ohio near his home when the water was low. He was particularly intrigued by bones and other materials that had partly fossilized, one end had petrified, but the other end was rotten.*4 He was a great expert in the history of the Indians.*5 If there had been time to devote to these interests, he may have become one of the greatest early naturalists of the United States: It was he that inspired Aububon to become a naturalist.*6 In this light I think Samuel Thomas and Eugene Conner are correct when they say in an article entitled "George Rogers Clark: Natural Scientist and Historian", in the Filson Quarterly: "It took a George Rogers Clark to produce a William Clark, not so much as an older brother relays his experience, but in a larger sense, by developing a suitable atmosphere."*7

      The most significant geographical feature of the Ohio Valley is the river from which it takes its name. It was called by the Indians Oyo — from which we get the word Ohio; and called by the French the Fine River, which is supposed to mean the same thing. This river has served as an inland highway between Eastern and Western North America from time immemorial. Joutel, travelling up the Mississippi after the death of La Salle in 1687, reported in his Journal as they passed the junction of the Ohio with the Mississippi that the Indians had said that that was the way to the land of the Iroquois.*8 The fact that Big Bone Lick was close to the Ohio greatly increased access to it, and so served to increase its importance. It is also probably the reason it was discovered and exploited as early as it was.

      The other major factor in the importance of Big Bone Lick was salt. There are many salt licks and springs in America; Buffalo, New York, is named for the creatures who came there to lick the salt. Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio all have their share of salt licks and springs. Joutel describes one in Illinois soon after he had passed the mouth of the Ohio. It is significant that it was the Indians who showed it to him, though it was within sight of the Mississippi.*9 His description of a salt pond much further south is also interesting.*10 Mary Ingles came here to boil salt with the Indians 1756. Salt was of such importance to the early settlers in Kentucky that in 1777 a number of inhabitants petitioned the Virginia legislature to seize and operate any salt spring not being worked by its owners, so scarce had salt become.*11 Salt was used not only with meals and in preserving meat and other food, but livestock needed salt, and it was needed to cure animal skins.*12

      The importance of salt was such that Jefferson was interested in the report of a great salt mountain in the far west. When Jefferson submitted a report to Congress which amounted to the sum of what was known about the Louisiana Territory included was the astounding information that there was said to be a mountain of solid rock salt 180 miles long, and 45 miles wide, on which nothing grew.*13 Jefferson's detractors said sarcastically that an American eagle, also of solid rock salt, was probably sitting on the top of it; but the prospect of such a huge amount of pure salt must have seemed a wonderful treasure to a salt-hungry continent.*14 Though this mountain of salt has yet to be discovered, when the expedition reached the Pacific, they boiled sea water for salt to use on the return journey. It is interesting to note that Clark, a good Kentuckian, did not think the sea salt was as good as Kentucky salt.*15

      As an example of how Kentuckians regarded salt springs in the time of Lewis and Clark, Henry Clay entered into an agreement with Thomas Vaughn in 1804, in which Clay sold Vaughn half of his two-thirds interest in a patent for a thousand acres of land at the Upper Blue Licks; this was evidently the third he had bought from James Barlow for $800 worth of horses, which were to be between the ages of three and eight years. For this third interest in the land and salt works there Vaughn agreed to pay Clay a total of 600 bushels of "clean dry merchantable Salt."*16 Clay rented also Young's Salt Lick on the Big Sandy to John Riesman as a two year lease. The price was one or two horses a year, to be delivered to his farm in Lexington, for a total of $300. This agreement was made 4 August 1810.*17

     In a letter written 13 November 1810, Clay tells James Monroe, who was to be president in a few years, and who had requested him to sell lands he owned on Goose Creek, in Clay County, Kentucky, which included a salt works:

  I fear the moment is inauspicious to effect a sale, the vast discoveries of Saline water on the Kanawha & Sandy having depreciated very much the value of lands affording Salt water or the expectation of it.*18

      The new discoveries having depressed the price of salt, many small salt works went out of business. No doubt some regarded this as a personal tragedy; certainly the Kanawha salt makers tried to resist the inevitable when it was their turn to be out-produced by the Onondaga salt works. But the price of salt went down drastically, and the man-power of the nation could move on to more productive labour.

     The salt works at Big Bone seem to have hung on a little longer than most in Kentucky, due to the efforts of James Colquhoun, who bought land here in 1809. Zadok Cramer describes the saltworks at this time. He says Mr. Colquhoun, has two salt furnaces at work, with which he can make about 69 bushels per day. The owner began boring another well for salt water in 1810, and actually got down 150 feet through the solid rock and planned to go another 50 feet. Even this thrifty Scotchman, with all his exertions could not compete with the Kanawha prices, and shortly after this salt ceased to be produced commercially at Big Bone. When Dr. Christopher C. Graham dug here in about 1876 he found remains of one of these early furnaces: "In sinking one of our pits, we came to a regularly built furnace, six feet under ground, and took up the pipes, partly decayed, that conducted the water from the main spring to the furnace, where salt was made nearly a hundred years ago."*19

      Now let us turn our attention to the historical background of Big Bone Lick. There has been a great deal written on the discovery of the lick and the long list of explorers visiting here. Much of this has been repeated from writer to writer, and I don't propose to cover it here.*20 I will not speak today of anything relating to geology or paleontology, except as it is touched upon by the explorers and scientists of the period.

The Way West

      The first explorers into Kentucky attempted to enter along the Big Sandy River; but this was unsatisfactory. Some of them did make it this way, but many, including Daniel Boone, were not successful. The discovery of Cumberland Gap, long known to the Indians, and the subsequent blazing of the Wilderness Trail, opened Kentucky to settlement from Virginia, North Carolina, and areas of Pennsylvania. This was the route taken by most of the earliest settlers. It was not long, however, before the Ohio became the most important way west. Between 1765 and 1768 about 30,000 settlers arrived in Kentucky.

      A chief of the Huron tribe (also known Wyandots), who was called Nicholas, permitted a trading post to be established by Pennsylvania traders near the Great Lakes in 1749. Even then these tribes were not uniformly friendly to the French. Gist, Finley, and Boone were among the earliest to visit the Lick. Others, less willing, were Mary Ingles and a Dutch woman, who were brought here in 1756, but escaped from the Indians and returned home. In 1762 the Indians at Fort Pitt bartered a tooth and a piece of tusk, probably from Big Bone, for trade goods. These artifacts eventually reached Benjamin Franklin in London, which greatly excited his interest. A letter to the famous naturalist John Bartram, written in this year details an Indian account of Big Bone Lick and the Shawnee legends relating to it.*21 A few years later (1768) an article about the specimens acquired by Franklin appeared in the Transactions of the Royal Society. This was the beginning of scientific interest in the subject of the big bones.

      Among the earliest to come along the Ohio River route to the west was George Rogers Clark. In June of 1772 he was at Fort Pitt, and was soon floating down the Ohio beyond the mouth of the Kanawha, in present day West Virginia. Later that year Clark set out again down the Ohio, this time with his father, John Clark, and four others. George Rogers Clark and his friend James Higgins settled on the Ohio at Fish Creek. By 1773 the settlements had reached 350 miles below the mouth of Fort Pitt, and the Indians of the Ohio Territory were beginning to get stirred up. Young William Clark heard stories of all this from his father and older brother.

     In 1777 was the Long Island Conference near Holston, Virginia (203 miles from Kentucky) There a treaty with Cherokee was signed 20 July 1777. Col. William Christian, one of the Peace Commissioners who opened the Conference on the 13th of July, was the first owner of the land and springs at Big Bone Lick. With this peace treaty Virginia was trying to make peace with the Southern Indians, particularly the Cherokee, so it would be possible to wage war on the Northern Indians. It was a successful move from that point of view.

     George Rogers Clark soon emigrated to Kentucky, and established himself near the Falls of Ohio. Before long he was in charge of all military movements on the frontier. In 1780 there were various forts built in Kentucky. Fort Jefferson, near the Mississippi, was built by Clark about the same time that Fort Nelson was being built at the Falls of Ohio. Some have said that the fort shown on the 1831 map on the island at Big Bone was built in 1780 to protect the salt makers. We know it existed, but it is difficult to say exactly when it was built, or to say much else about it without further research.*22 It is certain that military fortifications were the order of the day, and salt making was an activity which it was important to defend.*23

      The Revolutionary War was over when Cornwallis surrendered to Washington 19 Oct 1781; that is, it was over in the east. The British, who had acquired Canada from the French, acknowledged that they had lost the original colonies, but the fate of the western territories was still uncertain. It is true that Kentucky had a fairly large population, but it was still very sparsely settled, and subject to depredations by the Indians. The British were determined to hold the west, and unofficially encouraged the Indians to continue the struggle, and the latter crossed the Ohio when and where they pleased.

      In 1781 Kentucky was in a state of siege. Nearly everyone in the area was in a fort. The British and their allies were attempting to drive the white settlers out of Kentucky, and it appeared for awhile as if they might succeed. Cave Johnson, a prominent early Boone County resident, and the first county clerk, who lived in the Bluegrass at that time, wrote of trying to get salt for Bryant's Station:

  Again, during my residence at the station in 1781, we were in want of salt, and a company of us, about ten or twelve, got on our horses, with our rifles on our shoulders, and started for Bullet's Lick, near the Falls of the Ohio, where salt was made. We passed through Lexington and along a small trace to the Kentucky River at Leestown, as it was then called, situate about half a mile below Frankfort. The weather was warm, and we rode down the bank into the water; and, while our horses were drinking, all near the bank of the river, a party of Indians that followed us came on the bank, fired on us and killed one horse, that fell in the river. His rider pushed on across the river, and the Indians crossed after him and took him prisoner. They wounded five men of our company, all of whom recovered. We gave up our trip and returned to the station.*24

This, I think, shows us the importance of the licks, and the peril of the situation.

The Virginia legislature, which was responsible for the defense of Kentucky, had no money, and George Rogers Clark was writing bills for military supplies on his own credit, almost all of which Virginia eventually refused to pay. Elsewhere this year Thomas Jefferson was publishing his Notes on the State of Virginia, a most interesting work, which included his scientific speculations on Big Bone Lick. He had a theory that the Mammoth might actually exist further west. He seems to have held the theory that the works of nature were so perfect that no species would ever go extinct:

  The bones of the Mammoth which have been found in America, are as large as those found in the old world. It may be asked, why I insert the Mammoth, as if it still existed? I ask in return, why I should omit it, as if it did not exist? Such is the œconomy of nature, that no instance can be produced of her having permitted any one race of her animals to become extinct; of her having formed any link in her great work so weak as to be broken. To add to this, the traditionary testimony of the Indians, that this animal still exists in the northern and western parts of America, would be adding the light of a taper to that of the meridian sun. Those parts still remain in their aboriginal state, unexplored and undisturbed by us, or by others for us. He may as well exist there now, as he did formerly where we find his bones. If he be a carnivorous animal, as some Anatomists have conjectured, and the Indians affirm, his early retirement may be accounted for from the general destruction of the wild game by the Indians, which commences in the first instant of their connection with us, for the purpose of purchasing matchcoats, hatchets, and fire locks, with their skins.*25

     It is interesting that by 1782 George Rogers Clark had decided that the Mastodon was not carnivorous (Clark to Jefferson, 20 Feb 1782), though two of the leading naturalists in London, the Scotch brothers John and William Hunter, had declared that they were, and Jefferson, as it appears here, was undecided.*26

     In the same year, 1781, Alexander Henry in the North West wrote to Sir Joseph Banks that the Royal Society, of which Banks was president, should finance exploration of the High Country — the area from Lake Athabasca, in Canada, to the Pacific Coast. He got no reply, but this shows the British were starting to get interested in the far west.*27

      In early 1782 Governor Benjamin Harrison of Virginia, reckoning with a depleted treasury, counselled the Kentuckians to try to preserve a good understanding with the Indians — whatever that meant; but the Indian attacks continued. Virginia did suggest that Kentuckians might create a line of forts — three more than we already had, with two row-galleys to be built for each fort, for a total of eight. It was a good plan, except there was no money, and no men to man the forts. General Clark did actually build one of these row-galleys, and it once landed at Big Bone for the night. Virginia decided it would be best to try to hold the Ohio as a line of defense, and the Indians seem to have had a healthy respect for cannon.

      If you had been watching on the banks of the Ohio near the mouth of Big Bone Creek in July of 1782 you would have seen a small company of militia, 38 men commanded by Capt. Robert Patterson. From what transpired, they do not seem to have been happy to be here. Next you would have seen a 73 foot warship, the only one of the eight suggested by Virginia that was actually constructed. This was the Miami, one of the first ships ever built in the Commonwealth. She was rowed with 46 oars, and carried several cannon. This row-galley was designed to be operated by 110 men, but men were in short supply, hence the stop for reinforcements. This boat, constructed at the Falls of Ohio, was designed, and financed by General Clark. She drew a shallow draft, of five to six feet, ideal for the Ohio, and was armoured; there were sides that could be raised to protect her from shots even close to the bank. Perhaps the most unusual thing about her were the ropes; rope was non-existent, there was no hemp in the entire Commonwealth, so the rope was made from the bark of pawpaw trees. The Miami was commanded by Capt. Robert George, the best artilleryman in the west, and she was on her way to the mouth of the Licking River.

      In the negotiations which followed the landing of the galley you would have learnt that Capt. Patterson was a difficult man; he demanded double rations of flour for each of his men before they would come aboard. This was granted, but the next morning they refused to go aboard, saying militia could not be made into sailors; so they were allowed to march along the shore, escaping the onerous labour of rowing. Even marching in such wild country was difficult, and most of them deserted and went home that night.*28

      This fiasco proved to be more fruitful than it would have appeared to you. Speaking of the Miami Humphrey Marshall wrote in his History of Kentucky (1812):

. . . there is a tradition, that its passage up the Ohio, once as far as the mouth of Licking, had the effect to stop an expedition, which a formidable party of Indians had commenced against Kentucky.*29

     Apparently you were not the only person observing at Big Bone that day, for soon the report of Clark's galley and militia were circulated in the lands beyond the Ohio. The figures were widely reported, and wildly overestimated. More scouts came, and it was reported that not only were the first reports true, but that this must have been an advance party. Others even reported two boats. More than half of the Indians gathered with the British, poised for a major thrust into Kentucky, returned to protect their own homes. Even more seem to have left soon after. It is said that when the attack on Bryan Station came 15 August 1782, the British had only some 300 men with which to fight. On the 19th of August was the Battle of Blue Licks, often called "the last battle of the American Revolution, "which the enemy technically won, while losing the war.

      During this period General Clark and Jefferson continued to correspond about Big Bone Lick and other subjects. In 1783 Jefferson again asked for bones, Clark replied he hoped to collect them soon; he was able to send him some seeds of the Kentucky Coffee tree — not as satisfactory. In a letter to Clark from Annapolis 4 December 1783, Jefferson hinted at the expedition to the west. Later he asked Clark if he would consider leading the party, a proposition he declined with regret, suggesting instead his younger brother. When William Clark later received the offer 19 June 1803, he went to his older brother for advice.*30

      After the Battle of Blue Licks things settled down some, though the danger was far from over. Between the close of the Revolution and 1790 more than a thousand Kentucky settlers lost their scalps, and the danger was even greater in Ohio. In 1784 John Clark, father of General Clark, set out for Kentucky with his family. They wintered at Fort Pitt, now coming to be called Pittsburgh, and came down the Ohio to Louisville the following spring. It is estimated that one thousand boats came down the Ohio in 1785. Often enough there were shots at the boats, or one was attacked. The Indians refused the honour the treaties of 1784 and 1785 which granted whites land in Ohio. They demanded the Ohio River as a permanent boundary between white and red territory. William Clark was 14 years of age.*31

      This year several interesting things happened regarding our subject. Alexander Mackenzie explored the High Country mentioned earlier; this was the first recorded British foray into the west. In December of this year, despite the troubles, Isaac Zane and an Ensign Denny visited the lick looking for bones. There was in interesting incident that happened about 1785 that is significant in showing the importance of bringing the west under the protection of the United States. A Kentuckian (whose name I would like to know), went to Pennsylvania and loaded a flatboat with flour. He navigated his way down the Monongahela, the Ohio, and the Mississippi, arriving at New Orleans. There he bartered the flour for furs. Then he went by ship to Havana, Cuba. He sold his furs there for sugar, and took the sugar to Philadelphia, where he sold his merchandise, pocketed his profits, and walked home.*32 How much he made, I do not know, but it must have been worth the trip. This is an example of what could be done if the west was open to Americans.

      In 1786 some 1500 Wabash warriors were on the warpath. We do not know if young William Clark rode with Col. Benjamin Logan's militia of four to five hundred men, but he is said to have been with his older brother, General Clark, in the fighting that took place at the end of the year.*33 In 1788 Kentucky land was being offered for sale in Virginia by Thomas Carneal, and by Capt. John Craig, which included land at Big Bone Lick.*34

      In August 1789, when William Clark was 19, he rode with Col. John Hardin and 200 mounted volunteers when they crossed the Falls of Ohio. He also spent the winter of 1790 helping to defend against the Indian retaliation for this engagement. Once again the Indians were demanding the Ohio River as the demarcation of a permanent boundary between white and red settlements — an interesting idea.*35

      In 1792 the pioneer John Heckwelder, a Moravian missionary, on his way to Ohio, stopped on the river near the lick to camp. He wrote: "We camped at Big Bone Lick Creek, about two miles from the Lick where big bones and teeth are found . . . We met people going to and from the Lick where large salt works have been built." In 1795 a far-sighted gentleman, Edward Graham, wrote to John Breckenridge, a letter now preserved in the Library of Congress, in which he proposes the establishment of a museum of natural history in Lexington, the nucleus of which was to be a skeleton from Big Bone Lick. It is unfortunate for the Commonwealth that this course was not pursued.*36

      Thomas Jefferson was not the only American president to be interested in Big Bone Lick or to acquire bones here. In the spring of 1796 Capt. William Henry Harrison, a future president, brought men with wagons from Cincinnati, where he lived, to the Lick. They collected 13 hogsheads of bones, which were sent to Pittsburgh by boat.*37 They never arrived as the boat sank. By the end of the century, only a few bones were to be found on the surface of the lick. The buffalo were but a memory; Dr. Myrix J. Crouch of Union wrote in 1894:

  I remember to have heard old men speak of herds of buffalo gathering and making their way along a ridge beginning in the western portion of Gallatin County and extending unbroken to the Big Bone Lick, thus avoiding the steep river and creek hills. This was known to old settlers as Buffalo Ridge.*38

      By the time of the Lewis and Clark Expedition there were still Indians in the area, but the dangers from them were slight. John Taylor, the pioneer preacher, tells of seeing Indians when he lived at Corn Creek, in Gallatin County about 1802. He says:

The opposite shore of the Ohio, was Indian title, and the Indians hunting on their own land about a mile from my house, but they were at peace."*39

      When Meriwether Lewis came to Big Bone to excavate on the 4 Oct 1803, probably by way of the Leather's Trace Road from Banklick, he did so at the wish of President Jefferson. The previous day he had written a letter to the President describing in detail the collection of Mr. Caspar Wistar. In this letter he says:

On the evening of the 1st inst. I again dispatched my boat with orders to meet me at the Big Bone lick, to which place I shall pass by land, it being distant from hence only seventeen miles while by water it is fifty three, a distance that will require my boat in the present state of the water near three days to attain.*40

He says that the river at this time was lower than it had ever been known. Apparently Lewis did not write about his own collection, if so I have not found the letter, and that collection was lost in the spring of 1804 when the boat sank at Natchez. It seems no one ever thought to divide up a shipment, and send them in several lots. Even the few specimens that were salvaged when the boat sank disappeared, so we do not know exactly what Lewis found and took from here.

     While Lewis and Clark were away life went on; and in 1805 we find that Joseph Brann is applying to build a grist and saw mill at Big Bone; though this was stopped for a time through a legal quibble.*41 In 1807, after the expedition was completed William Clark, returned to the lick once again for bones and tusks. This time he was successful.

     Many of the bones obtained by William Clark were left with General Clark at his home in Clarksville, Indiana, near Louisville, at the express wish of Jefferson for Clark's personal collection.*42 It might have been also to keep from sending all of the specimens at once, since so many other collections had been lost. In 1807 Jefferson wrote Clark and asked him to send these bones as well; which Clark did almost two years later. By 1808 Jefferson is giving bones away. He wrote to Lacé°¨de:

  Sir, if my recollection does not deceive me, the collection of the remains of the animal incognitum of the Ohio (sometimes called the Mammoth) possessed by the Cabinet of Natural History at Paris, is not very copious. Under this impression, and presuming that this Cabinet is allied to the National Institute, to which I am desirous of rendering some service. I have lately availed myself of an opportunity of collection some of those remains. General Clark (the companion of Governor Lewis in his expedition to the Pacific Ocean) being, on a late journey, to pass by the Big-bone Lick of the Ohio, was kind enough to undertake to employ for me a number of laborers, and to direct their operation in digging for these bones at this important deposit of them. The result of these researches will appear in the enclosed catalogue of specimens which I am now able to place at the disposal of the National Institute.*43

     Thus the bones left Kentucky, but not the scrutiny of scientists, and others, who have found them a source of study and amazement.


      By thinking about the flow of history around a single salt lick — a geographical landmark as important in its own way as any in our national history — we are in a position to see, almost to feel, the great period of the Western movement in our nation's history. At first this is the West. It is through thinking about some concrete object like this and its history, we can see some things clearly through the fog that surrounds us when we attempt to grasp large ideas and movements.

     The history of the westward movement begins with a trickle of exploration: Gist, Boone, Kenton, and others. From the first they came to Big Bone Lick. Suddenly this becomes a flood, and still they come to the Lick. Then, suddenly, the Great West opens up. There Lewis and Clark were the early explorers, and the flood follows them. But this great flood of people does not merely rush past us — we also contributed to it. As many as a third of the men on the expedition were Kentuckians, or had Kentucky connections. Many people from the Northern Kentucky area moved west, some for a short time, some, or at least their descendants are still there.

     A few lines from Whitman, written in 1865, when the westward movement was at its height, might give an idea of the ceaseless activity and vast energy that went into this immense migration of humans into new territories.*44

We detachments steady throwing
Down the edges, through the passes, up the mountains steep,
Conquering, holding, daring, venturing as we go the unknown ways,
Pioneers! O Pioneers!

We primeval forests felling,
We the rivers stemming, vexing we and piercing deep the mines within,
We the surface broad surveying, we the virgin soil upheaving,
Pioneers! O Pioneers!

      Big Bone contributed its salt, so necessary for life, to this movement; but this, important as it was, was not its chief contribution. Even as the movement into the great west continued, like Lewis and Clark, people still stopped at Big Bone. There was something here that captured the imagination, it made people want to study the past, to decipher what it could tell us. What they found at Big Bone contributed to the ideology of the nation; through the mediation of Jefferson and others it helped to transform the idea of what science is, and what it is for. They were not merely interested in prehistoric species; Lewis and Clark discovered 122 new types of animals, including many species not previously catalogued. Furthermore, they redefined and expanded the ranges of many known species.*45

     In 1817 a society formed in New York for the encouragement of domestic manufactures. This may sound a bit prosaic, but listen to the idealism in these lines from their program:

  The exhaustless stores of mind and matter shall be this nation's treasury. Adventurous man, triumphing over the obstacles of nature, shall search the recesses of the stubborn mountain. The sounding tools, and the voice of human speech shall wake the echo in the vaulted space; where from the beginning, silence and darkness reigned; and the rich ore shall quit its hidden bed, and sparkle in the upper day.*46

     Science and Technology were rather confused together, as often enough they still are. These lines are quoted by the late Perry Miller, of Harvard University. It was Prof. Miller's opinion that the Westward movement had changed the nature of how Americans view science, though it was not an easy transformation. He writes:

The conception of science as primarily a form of contemplation was inevitably transformed into a more activist ideal by the lure of the vast continent, especially after the philosopher Jefferson had purchased 'Louisiana'. Partisans of science were bound to see it as a challenge to the conquest of the wilderness, though it is remarkable that they moved cautiously toward this argument, as though reluctant to cast loose from the moorings of pure natural philosophy.*47

     The business of integrating so much territory into itself posed practical problems that called for the best thought the nation could muster. This scientific engagement, practical, even ruthless in its solution to problems of geography and exploitation of natural resources, never quite lost its contemplative aspect, but it was transformed into something that domesticated the continent.

     George Daniels of Northwestern University noted that the background of the Lewis and Clark expedition shows that the American government was ambivalent in its reasons for financing explorations in the nineteenth century. There nearly always had to be some utilitarian justification, whether military, industrial, or commercial. The keynotes sounded at this time were exploitation and Manifest Destiny. It is significant, however, that all government financed explorers were carefully instructed to bring back scientific specimens — botanical, zoological, mineral, and so on. Not only were they to collect information on the Indians with a regard to military or commercial interests, but also their languages, customs, and religion. All of this, as Daniels points out, aided the cause of science in one way or another. He says that scientists on the frontier laid out major roads and transportation routes, helped develop its agriculture, helped to overcome the threat of Indian attacks, and, perhaps most important from a later standpoint, helped secure the sovereignty of the United States to these lands. Up until the time of the Civil War there was no place for government financed laboratory work, and the great bulk of all scientific research sponsored by the government was in exploration. Later the geological survey and surveying for the railroads occupied a similar place in the pattern that was established by Lewis and Clark.*48 From this point of view the excavations at Big Bone were part of the complex rationale behind the journey, and certainly not the least of the government's interest, if that means Thomas Jefferson.

     This is one side of the westward movement, of which the Lewis and Clark Expedition might be considered the down payment. The other was a swashbuckling image of the American as tamer of the land. Alexis de Tocqueville, who may be said to have understood Americans, both then and now, better than they ever understood themselves, wrote an interesting chapter in his Democracy in America entitled: "Of some Sources of Poetry among Democratic Nations," in which he wrote:

In Europe people talk a great deal of the wilds of America, but the Americans themselves never think about them; they are insensible to the wonders of inanimate nature and they may be said not to perceive the mighty forests that surround them till they fall beneath the hatchet. Their eyes are fixed upon another sight: the American people views its own march across these wilds, draining swamps, turning the course of rivers, peopling solitudes, and subduing nature. This magnificent image of themselves does not meet the gaze of the Americans at intervals only; it may be said to haunt every one of them in his least as well as in his most important actions and to be always flitting before his mind.*49

This seems to me to be a profound understanding of the American character, and it explains much that might seem otherwise inexplicable. Early Kentuckians did not like trees; there might be an Indian behind that tree; but when the Indians were gone we still cut trees; we were woodsmen, and woodsmen cut trees. We have now enlarged our scope and scale. We say now we like trees; we don't cut them so much anymore, we tear them up with bulldozers and shred them into mulch. Edward Quinn writes in the American Zoologist:

Most of the prairies Lewis and Clark saw are gone now, replaced mainly by farmland. Much of the former wildlife has vanished too, and innumerable sites of great natural beauty have been altered beyond recognition. Among these lost sites are the Great Falls of the Missouri, which left the explorers open-mouthed in wonder, and the Columbia River Cascades.*50

We need to ask whether we can afford to continue cultivating this image of ourselves as Americans; or, if we retain it, at least whether we need to find a new frontier. What has been destroyed is irreplaceable. In some ways we find that forests, tribes, wild rivers, and the salt licks covered with huge bones, are more interesting than the things that replaced them. This is more than nostalgia; it is as though we are collectively haunted by the fact that we were party to a crime. Things were going to change; but could we not have done more to preserve these original natural treasures?

      I would suggest that the new frontier for the swashbuckling American might be in the area of preservation and restoration. We are not going to completely restore the primeval forests, not to their original extent; but we can leave some wild places as an example of what it was like then. I would suggest we, as Kentuckians, and particularly as Northern Kentuckians, start with our most significant landmark: Big Bone Lick. Let us show the nation how restoration can and should be done. The work of restoration and interpretation is in a real sense harder than the initial work of scratching a living out of the wilderness; in this case you must also work hard, but you must also think about what you are doing, and its consequences. It requires sacrifices and difficult decisions.

      As someone once said that all politics is local politics, so all history is local history. The past has left traces in the present, and only by examining these traces can we understand the present in which we live. The past is prologue; we must learn from it what we can.

The Past as Prologue

      At this point I would like to open up a discussion of our past and our future. I don't think the discussion started here; I don't think it will end here. I hope I have made some small contribution to a better knowledge and understanding of Big Bone Lick and the movement in which it played such an important part. I wish to remind you that nothing happens without a dream. The Louisiana Purchase, Lewis and Clark, the Westward movement, were not accidents, they were part of a collective dream. This dream had nowhere been given so good an expression as found in an almanac, that perennial source of American wisdom. In 1758 the Almanac maker Nathaniel Ames wrote a three part essay on the past, present and future of America. In the third part he rose to almost prophetic heights and there he presented the American dream as dreamed by himself and his contemporaries:

     Thirdly (he says), of the future state of NORTH AMERICA. Here we find a vast stock of proper materials for the art and ingenuity of man to work upon: - treasures of immense worth; concealed from the poor ignorant aboriginal natives! The curious have observed that the progress of human literature (like the sun) is from east to west; thus has it travelled through Asia and Europe, and now is arrived at the eastern shore of America. As the celestial light of the gospel was directed here by the finger of GOD, it will doubtless, finally drive the long! long! night of heathenish darkness from America: - so arts and sciences will change the face of nature in their tour from hence over the Appalachian mountains to the western ocean; and as they march through the vast desert, the residence of wild beasts will be broken up, and their obscene howl cease forever; - instead of which, the stones and trees shall dance together at the music of Orpheus, - the rocks will disclose their hidden gems, - and the inestimable treasures of gold and silver be broken up. - Huge mountains of iron ore are already discovered; and vast stores are reserved for future generations: this metal more useful than gold or silver, will employ millions of hands, not only to form the martial sword, and peaceful share, alternately; but an infinity of utensils improved in the exercise of art, and handicraft amongst men. Nature through all her works has stamped authority on this law, namely, 'that all fit matter shall be improved to its best purposes.' Shall not then those vast quarries, that teem with mechanic stone, - those for structure be pilled into great cities, and those for sculpture into statues to perpetuate the honour of renowned heroes; even those who shall NOW save their country.

     O! ye unborn inhabitants of America! should this page escape its destined conflagration at the year's end, and these alphabetical letters remain legible, - when your eyes behold the sun after he has rolled the seasons round for two or three centuries more, you will know that in ANNO DOMINI 1758, we dreamed of your times. NATH. AMES.*51

     This remarkable document foretold, not by divination of the author, but by an understanding of the situation in which he stood, a movement which has not yet subsided. Even today we remain largely under the spell of this dream. It is time for us, while retaining the richness of its hope, to dream new dreams that will repair some of the destructive consequences of the old dream.

     Big Bone Lick has been in slow, but constant change. There was never one point in time at which we could say this is the real Big Bone. So it is with America. Concerning the springs at Big Bone, John Uri Lloyd, the founder and president of the first Big Bone Lick Association, wrote in 1935:

  The Springs, (excepting the quagmires), are unchanged. Great streams of rich saline sulphur water, cold, clear, blue-clear, rush from the earth, accompanied by volumes of free sulphuretted hydrogen gas.

  They are a marvel now, as they ever have been. To one acquainted with this country, in its primitive beauty, the loss of the great forest is painful. No such woods were elsewhere to be found as stood in and about this valley. But the deadly ax has kept pace with the deadly rifle; the herds of deer, the bear, the buffalo or bison, the great proud woods, all, all have gone down before the touch of so-called civilization, that withering, scorching thing, that leaves but the bones yet hidden in Big Bone's quagmire, and in the minds of a few men yet alive reminiscences of these things I have just touched upon.*52

     Nowadays even the Springs have reached a low ebb. Civilization need not wither; it is only through technology and science that what has been destroyed might be restored. Though I think it should be evident that before science and technology, which deal with means, and not ends, can begin their work, the kind of historical study we are doing here is a necessary foundation. It is on this that the future rests. When I speak of restoration, I mean not to some ideal past, but to what it could and should be now. We may have a chance in the near future to see what this might be like for the park, since it would be similar to the restoration project proposed by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, known as the Big Bone Creek Embayment Project.*53

      Regardless of what they do, we should begin the process of restoring the area called Big Bone Lick. I think it is time to build, here at Big Bone, the museum first proposed in 1795. It should not be just a building housing some old bones, but a living museum that will interpret for us, for our area, and for generations to come the significance of this spot. It should be our gift to the nation.


An Indian Account of Big Bone Lick and Legends Concerning It

Letter of 1762

James Wright to John Bartram

The Original is in the British Museum B. M. Additional Mss 216 48, ff. 333-334.

Respected friend,

      Pursuant to thy request, I have made as particular an Enquiry relating to those bones thou mentions, as I possibly Could, from two Sincible Shawanese Indians, Assisted by an Interpreter, And the Substance of what they Say is as follows -- the place where they lye is about 3 miles from the Ohio, salt & moist, as well as I could judge by their description of it seems to contain 30 or 40 Acres, in the Midst of a large Savannah, 4 days Journey Below the lower Shawanese town, on the East Side of the river, that there appear to be the remains of 5 Entire Sceletons, with their heads All pointing towards Each other, And near together, supposd to have fallen at the same time; when they were desired to describe their several parts, they began with their heads, of which two were larger than the rest, one of these, they said a Man Could but Just Grasp in Both his Arms, with a long Nose, And the Mouth on the under side, they next mentioned the shoulder blade, which whenSset on End, reached to their Shoulders, And they were both tall men, What they Call'd the Cup (or socket) of this bone, was equal in size to a large bowl, the thigh bone when broke asunder, would admit of a little boy's Creeping into it -- they were askd if they had seen those long bones they Call'd horns, they Answered they had, And by the distance from where they stood to the door, Showd them to be 10 or 12 feet long, And added that by the Bones, they Judged the Creature when Alive must have been the Size of a Small House, pointing from the Window to a Stable in Sight; -- I askd them if the Place where they lay was Surounded with Mountains, So as to admit a probability of its Ever having been a lake, they Answered, they place was salt and Wettish, And by having been much trod & Licked, was somthing lower than the adjacent land, which however, was so level, to a pordigious Extent, that the lick, as they Calld it, Could never been coverd with water; And that there were many roads thro this Extent of land, larger & more beaten by Buffolas and other Creatures, that had made them to go to it, that any Roads they saw in this Part of the Country on being Questioned if they had see such bones in Any other place, they said they had seen many such, Scatterd here & there in that large tract of land mentioned before, some upon the Surface, and some Partly burned (sic), but all much more decay'd by time, they those they had been describing, and not Any Entire Sceleton; I Askd if they had Ever heard from their old men, when these 5 were first observed, or if they, or their fathers, had Ever seen any such large Creatures living, as these bones were supposd to have been a part of, they Answered they had never heard them of, other then as in the Condition they are at present, or ever heard of any such creature having been seen by the oldest Man, or his father -- that they had indeed a tradition, such mighty Creatures, once frequented those Savannahs, that there were then men of a size proportionable to them, who used to kill them, and tye them in Their Noppusses And throw them upon their Backs As an Indian now dos a Deer, that they had seen Marks in rocks, which tradition said, were made by these Great & Strong Men, when they sate down with their Burthens, such as a Man makes by sitting down on the Snow, that when there were no more of these strong Men left alive, God had Kill'd these last 5 they had been questioned about, which the Interpreter said was to be understood, they supposed them to have been Killd by lightening -- these the Shawanese said were their traditions, and as to what they knew, they had told it -- the Man who Interpreted, was well Acquainted with their language, and as I have known him from a boy, I am Confident he would do it faithfully, I shal be pleas'd if what smal Information I have gain'd wil be agreable to thee, And shal be glad to oblige thee at any time the the Utmost of my Power,

I am thy Assured friend
James Wright

August 22nd 1762

John Bartram

Bibliography for this Paper

Return to Big Bone History


Lewis and Clark and Big Bone Lick


James Duvall, M. A.

1. Thomas, Samuel W., and Eugene H. Conner, "George Rogers Clark: Natural Scientist and Historian," Filson Club Historical Quarterly. 41 (1967): 216. Return

2. Ibid., 214. Return

3. Ibid., p. 220. Return

4. Ibid., p. 217. Return

5. The text of his Treatise on the Mound Builders, (first published by Henry Schoolcraft, 1860), is available in Ibid., p. 208-210. Return

6. Ibid. Return

7. Ibid., p. 214. Return

8. Henri Joutel, Journal historique du dernier voyage que feu M. de La Sale fit . . . Paris, 1713; E. T. London, 1714; A Journal of La Salle's Last Voyage. (New York: Corinth Books, 1962), p. 135. Entry for 19 Aug 1687. Return

9. Ibid., p. p. 154. Entry for 25 Aug 1687. Return

10. Ibid., p. 60. Entry for May 1685. Return

11. Petitions of the Early Inhabitants of Kentucky to the General Assembly of Virginia, 1769 - 1792. James R. Robertson, ed. ( Filson Club Publications, No. 27. Louisville: John P. Morton, 1914). The text of the document is on the Boone History website: www.oocities.com/bigbonehistory/saltpetition.html Return

12. For a history of salt and its uses I recommend Mark Kurlansky, Salt: A World History. New York: Walker and Company, 2002. I think he overstates the case when he says all the wars in America have been fought over salt. Return

13. John E. Bakeless. Lewis & Clark, Partners in Discovery. (New York: Morrow, 1947), p. 109. Return

14. See Kurlansky, op. cit. on the Kanawha and Onandaga salt works. Return

15. Bakeless, Lewis and Clark, p. 290. See also the Journals,5 January 1805: "Those men also informed us that the salt makers with their assistance had erected a comfortable camp, had killed an elk and several deer and secured a good stock of meat. They commenced the making of salt and found that they could make from 3 quarts to a gallon a day. They brought with them a specimen of the salt, of about a gallon. We found it excellent, white, and fine, but not so strong as the rock salt, or that made in Kentucky or the western parts of the U. States. This salt was a great treat to most of the party, having not had any since the 20th ult. As to myself I care but little whether I have any with my meat or not, provided the meat is fat, having from habit become entirely careless about my diet; and I have learned to think that if the cord be sufficiently strong which binds the soul and body together, it does not so much matter about the materials which compose it.
I determined to set out early tomorrow with two canoes and 12 men in quest of the whale, or at all events to purchase from the Indians a parcel of the blubber. For this purpose I made up a small assortment of merchandise and directed the men to hold themselves in readiness. — Captain Clark, Fort Clatsop, 5 January 1805. [Italics are mine.]
On the subject of salt springs see Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia: "The country westward of the Alleghaney abounds with springs of common salt. The most remarkable we have heard of are at Bullet's lick, the Big bones, the Blue licks, and on the North fork of Holston. The area of Bullet's lick is of many acres. Digging the earth to the depth of three feet, the water begins to boil up, and the deeper you go, and the drier the weather, the stronger is the brine. A thousand gallons of water yield from a bushel to a bushel and a half of salt, which is about 80 lb. of water to one lb. of salt; but of sea-water 25 lb. yield one lb. of salt. So that sea-water is more than three times as strong as that of these springs. A salt spring has been lately discovered at the Turkey foot on Yohogany, by which river it is overflowed, except at very low water. Its merit is not yet known. Duning's lick is also as yet untried, but it is supposed to be the best on this side the Ohio. The salt springs on the margin of the Onondago lake are said to give a saline taste to the waters of the lake." Return

16. Henry Clay, The Papers of Henry Clay. Vol. I, 1797-1814. J. F. Hopkins, ed. (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1959), p. 153. The title to this land was still in litigation with John Finley, who had discovered it in 1773; Clay won the suit in the lower court, ultimately lost in a reversal by the U. S. Supreme Court. See also Clay Papers, p. 138-139, 29 Jun 1804. For another Salt Works agreement, see Clay Papers, 247-248. Return

17. Clay Papers, p. 481; see p. 79-80. Return

18. Clay Papers, 497-498. Monroe was president from 1817-1825. It appears there was also some defect in Monroe's claim, and Clay gives him some legal advice about it. See also Roy R.White, "The Salt Industry of Clay County, Kentucky," Register of the Kentucky Historical Society 50 (1952): 238-24. There are also some considerations of the saline works in Ohio in relation to the canal around the Falls of Ohio, p. 285. Return

19. C. C. Graham, "The Mammoth's Graveyard," Owensboro Examiner; reprinted in Boone County Recorder 22 Feb 1877, p. 1. Zadoc Cramer, The Navigator, 1810 edition, p. 119-120. Return

20. This has been covered best in the following: W. R. Jillson, Big Bone Lick (Louisville, Standard Printing, 1936; rpt. Rabbit Hash, Ky,: Habbit Hash Historical Society, 1998), and The Extinct Vertebrata of the Pleistocene in Kentucky, (Frankfort: Roberts Printing, 1968); Simpson, George G. "The Discovery of Fossil Vertebrates in North America," Journal of Paleontology 17 No. 1 (Jan 1943): 26-38. Return

21. Letter of James Wright to John Bartram, 1762. The letter appears as an appendix to this paper, and on Big Bone History website: www.oocities.com/ bigbonehistory/wright-bartram.1762.html Return

22. "Big Bone Lick State Park," Unpaged Booklet compiled by R. L. Ruehrwein, et al. (Frankfort: Kentucky Department of Parks, 1996) see the section "Salt and Settlers". This is probably just a guess; but there were several forts built then, and Virginia had recommended even more.

23. Filson's Map (1793) shows "Gen.l Clarks War Road" going through Big Bone Lick. You may see the map on Boone History: www.oocities.com/boonehistory/filsonmap.html Return

24. Memoirs of Cave Johnson. "Some Reminiscences from the Life of Col. Cave Johnson" Boone County Recorder 1 February 1877, p. 1; and 8 February 1877, p. 1. . You can read the entire document on the website Kentucky History: www.oocities.com/boonehistory/ cavej.html Return

Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Chapter 4. Jefferson has been questioned for thinking the Indians had such legends. Simpson has contrasted this with the letter from James Wright to John Bartram (See Simpson, op.cit., p. 36) About 1810, David Thompson, an Indian trader, wrote in his Journal: "We are now entering the defiles of the Rocky Mountains by the Athabasca River. . . . strange to say, here is a strong belief that the haunt of the Mammoth is about this place." Cited in Walter O'Meara, The Savage Country (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1960), p. 236-237. Return

26. Thomas and Conner, p. 216. Return

27. Carse, p. 194. Return

28. Clark to Harrison, 2 May 1782, Calendar of Virginia State Papers, Vol. 3, p. 150; Thomas and Conner, p. 207-208. Baldwin, 18-20; Bakeless, George Rogers Clark, p. 287-288; J. A. James, Clark Papers; R. W. Donnelly, "George Rogers Clark's Row Galley Miami: Virginia Marines in the Ohio Valley, 1782." Virginia Cavalcade 27 (Winter 1978), pp. 114-117. Similar galleys had been constructed in the east: In a letter from Philadelphia 13 Aug 1775 it is stated: "Several companies of riflemen are formed in this city and the adjacent counties, who are become expert in shooting; besides we have sixteen row galleys, with latteen sails, now building. Some of them are already rigged and manned. These galleys are rowed with from twenty-four to thirty oars, and carry each one gun, from eighteen to thirty-two pounds, besides swivel guns, fore and aft. We are told by experienced men that these galleys will prevent any ship of war from coming up this river." Annals of Buffalo Valley, Pennsylvania, 1755-1855. J. B. Linn, ed. (Harrisburg: Lane S. Hart, 1877), p. 83. Return

29. Marshall, Humphrey. The History of Kentucky. (Frankfort: Henry Gore, 1812; rpt. 1971), p. 148. Return

30. Bakeless, Background to Glory, p. 311. Return

31. It is interesting to note that in this wild state of the country there were no fences to stop the movement of livestock and they might go about anywhere; but there were not many people wandering about to take them either. Spencer Records, "Memoir of the Ohio Valley Frontier, 1766-1795," Indiana Magazine of History 55 (Dec 1959): 341: In 1783 he lost his horses, in January he began to look for them. Later than March 1784: "I heard of my mare, about fifteen miles north of Lexington, & found her near a great buffaloe road, that comes from the north-west, out of the knobs, and leads to the Blue Licks, crossing North Elkhorn at a place which was then called the Great Crossings, which name it still bears. My two year old colt was found near the Big Bone lick, and brought in, so I got all my horses again." Return

32. Carse, p. 197. Return

33. Bakeless, Lewis and Clark, p. 29, thinks perhaps he did. Return

34. David Rowland (Fayette Co, Ky.) to Joseph Anderson (Richmond, Va.) 14 Aug 1788. Return

35. Bakeless, Lewis and Clark, p. 29, 35. Return

36. Jillson, 1936, p. 136, item 68. Return

37. Note that by this time many people were interested in early history and archaeology. In 1798 some boys swimming in the mouth of the Muskingum River, Ohio, discovered the lead plates the French had buried there, dated 16 August 1749. The lead plates at the mouth of the Kanawha were found 1846. Marjorie Burress, The Mouth of the Great Miami: Along History's Path (North Bend, Ohio: privately published, 2000), p. 5-7. Return

38. Myrix Josiah Crouch, M. D. "Big Bone Springs", A Paper Read before the 76th Meeting of the Grant County Medical Association (1894). Boone County Recorder 26 Dec 1894, p. 2. Return

39. John Taylor, A History of Ten Baptist Churches, of Which the Author has been Alternately a Member: In which will be seen something of a Journal of the Author's Life, for more than Fifty Years. (Frankfort: 1823; rpt. Cincinnati: Art Guild, 1968), p. 115. This has also been edited with an introduction by Chester Raymond Young (Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 1995. Annotated 3rd ed.), p. 311. Return

40. Lewis to Jefferson 3 Oct 1803. For a copy of the letter, see Big Bone History: www.oocities.com/ bigbonehistory/lewis-bigbone.html Return

41. The Old Mill at Big Bone. Boone County Court Orders, 6 May 1805: "On the motion of Joseph Brann setting forth that he is proprietor of the land on Big Bone Creek at the Place that is Generaly known by the rocky landing, where he is desirous of erecting a water grist & saw mill. It is therefore ordered that a writ of Aquod Damnum Issue commanding the Sheriff to Summon a Jury of Inquest to meet on the said place on fryday (sic) the 31st Inst then and there to enquire & report agreeable to law." Boone County Court Orders, 3 Jun 1805: "The Writ of Aquod Damnum and report of the Jury on the mill seat of Joseph Brann on Big Bone Creek was returned into Court, and on the motion of Thomas Carneal by Richard Southgate his Attorney the same is ordered to be Quashed for defect appearing in the face of the Order." A mill-race is mentioned in 1830 Webb survey, so the mill must have been built between those two dates. By this time four steamboats had been built at Big Bone. See Bob Ellis, "Early Steamboats Built at Big Bone Lick," Enquirer, 1 Jan 1963; from Fitzgerald Scrapbook, volume 3. Return

42. Thomas and Conner, p. 213-214. Return

43. In a letter dated July 14, 1808. Return

44. Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, "Birds of Passage," Modern Library College Edition, 1981, p. 185. Return

45. C. E. Quinn, "A Zoologist's View of the Lewis and Clark Expedition." American Zoologist 26 (1986): 302, 305. Return

46. Perry Miller, The Life of the Mind in America: From the Revolution to the Civil War. (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1965), p. 291. Return

47. Ibid. Return

48. George H. Daniels, Science in American Society: A Social History. (New York: Knopf, 1971), p. 178-179, 205. Return

49. Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Volume II, Section I "Influence of Democracy on the Action of Intellect in The United States," Chapter XVII. Return

50. Quinn, p. 305. Return

51. Nathaniel Ames, An Astronomical Diary: or, an Almanack for ... 1758. (Boston: J. Draper, 1757). Return

52. John Uri Lloyd "The Big Bone Country of Kentucky" Lloyd Papers at the Lloyd Library in Cincinnati (LLM collection 1 Box 39 file 551). The typescript, with handwritten annotations in Lloyd's hand is undated, but it appears to have been written in 1935. The entire text appears on the Big Bone History website: www.oocities.com/bigbonehistory/julbigbone.html Lloyd also wrote the introduction to Jillson's Big Bone Lick (1936). Return

53. Big Bone Creek Embayment Project

You can link to this document from the website Big Bone History: www.oocities.com/bigbonehistory Return

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