From the Vermont Chronicle.
Under date of August 13th, 1833, Mrs. Wright, near Fort Towson, on Red River, makes the following statements respecting
Distressing sickness prevailing among the Choctaws.
The sickness commenced very early in the season. Mr. Wright's whole time has been occupied with the sick. Since the first week in June he has attended on 322 individual cases, some of which were very severe. Many he sees every day, during the violence of the symptoms, and many who are convalescent, for want of suitable food, suffer from relapse. In some families every individual is sick; and indeed almost every individual on Red River is more or less sick. Mr. Hotchkin, with his wife and child, were obliged to remove to our house to be taken care of. Miss Clough, who came to make us a visit is also sick. We were not prepared for this, and are obliged to purchase medicines at the exorbitant prices of this country, Mr. Wright's health is still very poor. It is only by the greatest care that he is able to endure the constant fatigue that he is compelled to undergo.
Our communion season, the first of July, was deferred on account of sickness. Fifty had united with the church at this station, and a number more had been examined of the members of the church in the old nation, and some new ones. Two schools had been commenced on Red River, and two others were to have been opened on Little River, but the sickness has prevented all efforts. Indeed, unless you could see for yourself, you could form no idea of the state of suffering. Except on Red River, among children, there have, as yet been but few deaths, in proportion to the number of the sick. West of the Kiemiebi, it is said, that forty adults have died this season. No cases of spasiaodie cholera occurred, but several severe cases of cholera morbus.- Sickness is commencing on Mountain Fork and on other streams.
The sickness continued till October. Mr. Williams, stationed at Bethabara, on the Mountain Fork of Little River, a northern tributary of Red River, states that all the members of his family had been sick; and that the Choctaws around him were suffering severely.- Many had died, and numbers in his neighborhood, when he wrote, were at the point of death. The wretchedness of the people, without suitable food, or medicine, or nursing, was heart rending, and altogether beyond description.
Mr. Wilson and Mr. Washburn, from Dwight, made a tour among that portion of the western Choctaws settled on the Arkansas River, of which the former, giving an account under date of October 2, remarks-
We found the Indians in a wretched state, suffering greatly from poverty ' sickness. We did not visit a house, wigwam, or camp, where we did not find more or less sickness, and in many instances the whole family were prostrated by disease. Great numbers of them have died. The astonishing rise of the Arkansas River, which occurred more than a month ago, has swept away their crops of corn and nearly all the little improvements which they had made; their springs failed, leaving them to drink pond or river water, which doubtless, tends greatly to increase the amount of mortality of their sickness. For these reasons the people seem to be very much dissatisfied with their situation and determined to remove to some other part of the country, though they know not where to go to improve their condition. I found ample opportunity in visiting the sick to give away all the medicine I had with me, though many seemed to fear the white man's medicine more than death. They have more faith in conjuring. There has been and still is much sickness through this whole district of country. For some time past there has not been less than twelve or fifteen sick at a time in the family at Dwight, including pupils in the school. Some have been severely ill but the Lord has spared them.
From the Presbyterian.
Extract of a letter from Rev. Henry R. Wilson, Jr. a missionary, to his parents, dated Dwight Mission, West Cherokee Nation, October 30, 1833.-
Much Beloved Parents- My communications have generally been long, but at present, I am compelled to be brief. A few days after my last letter, I set out with Br. Washburn to attend a missionary convention at Harmony Station, among the Osages, on the borders of Missouri, more than two hundred miles from Dwight. An express had been sent to me the night before to visit Br. Newton, whose station is from this about a day's ride. He and several members of his family were very ill. Taking this station on our route, we arrived there on the first day. The next morning we left the family much better. After riding all day in the rain, and crossing the Illinois, Neasho, and Verdigris rivers, we arrived late on Saturday evening at Brother Fleming's in the Creek Nation. Found him well, and spent the Sabbath with him preaching to two congregations of Creek Indians. On Monday morning we resumed our journey with the company of Br. Fleming, and in the evening reached the Union Station, among the Osages, where we spent the night. Here we were joined by Br. Vail.- On the next morning we all set out to cross the vast prairie, which lies between this and Harmony. After travelling all day over the most enchanting grounds, we came in the evening to Hopefield, a little colony of Osages, under the care of Br. Riqua. This devoted missionary has lately lost his wife. He has sent his two little helpless children to the family at Union, and is here laboring alone among these poor degraded beings.
The next morning we pursued our journey, and having travelled forty-five miles, we came to a little creek skirted with timber, which furnished us a spacious hotel, where we put up for the night. After hobbling our horses, we turned them out to pick grass, and then turned our attention towards making provision for ourselves. We had carried with us a wallet containing some bread and meat, and a little bag of ground coffee. After striking fire, we cut down a tree, (having carried an axe with us), and very soon had a comfortable fire. Filling our tin boiler from the creek, we had a cup of very good coffee; and sitting down by the fire we partook of a very delicious supper, every one having an excellent appetite. After supper we enjoyed a precious season in social prayer, being able to read and sing by the light of a hickory fire. Then rolling ourselves in our blankets, we lay down to sleep under the broad canopy of heaven.- Rose next morning, had our breakfast over, our horses caught, and were ready to start at day break. In the evening reached Boudinot, where Br. Dodge is stationed, having travelled seventy miles without seeing a house or any kind of habitation. Here we found Br. Montgomery and family, who had left Union some days before we arrived there. Spent a pleasant evening in prayer. The next morning we proceeded with the recruit of Br. Montgomery and family, and Br. Dodge, his wife, and two children, in two little wagons. After travelling forty miles, we came to a piece of timber on a small stream of water, where we encamped for the night. After supper we had a prayer meeting; yes, a prayer meeting, after night, in the open woods, and in the midst of the Indian hunting grounds. And oh! how sweet to hear those woods and hills re-echo the praises of Jehovah; and to hear amidst the howling of wolves, and the cries of other wild beasts, the voice of prayer, as it ascended to the God of Israel, and the God of missions. The next evening we arrived safely at Harmony, and found the mission family generally well, anxiously looking for us, and ready to give us cordial welcome. Notwithstanding the fatigue of our journey, the family were called together, and the evening spent i prayer and exhortation. The next day (Sabbath) was a refreshing season. I was called onto preach in the morning and to address the children of the schools in the afternoon; and Br. Washburn preached in the evening.
After having been, for a long season, deprived of such privileges, I was ready to exclaim, 'O how sweet to the soul is communion with saints.' On Monday the convention was opened. A considerable part of the time was spent in religious exercises, and the remainder in the transaction of business. Many subjects of deep interest and of great importance to the cause of missions came before us for consideration, such as the best manner of conducting missionary operations, removing evils which may exist, and disposing of assistant missionaries lately sent on. Many of these things, which the board cannot do, at so great a distance we are obliged to do. The Sabbath, which was the last day of our stay at Harmony, was truly a delightful one. We partook of the Lord's supper. I had the blessed privilege of administering the emblem of Christ's precious blood, not only to my brethren in the ministry, and to the lay brethren and sisters at the station, but also to some young Delaware and Osage converts; children who have been taken from the depths of pollution, and brought into the school. Here they have been instructed for some years and lately have given evidence of a saving change. This is but the first fruits of missionary labor in this barren part of the Lord's vineyard. On Monday morning we set out on our journey homeward. As snow had fallen to the depth of several inches, it made the travelling much colder, especially lying out on the frozen ground at night. But the Lord prospered us, and on Saturday evening we reached Br. Fleming's and spent the Sabbath with him. On Monday evening at 9 o'clock we arrived here, having travelled sixty miles that day, without food for ourselves or horses. During the two days I have been here, I have bee kept busy riding to see several sick persons in the neighborhood. I am just starting again for the Choctaw Nation, in order, if practicable, to have an interview with them, and form the preliminaries for commencing a mission among them. Perhaps I may be back in eight or ten days. Write to me, as usual, at this place. My health is as good at present as it ever was. As thy day is, so shall thy strength be. Please remember me to all my Christian friends.- Tell them to hold up my hands in prayer by prayer, as those of Moses were stayed. I must stop. Farewell.
Your affectionate and dutiful son.
HENRY G. WILSON, Jr.