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on the Illinois side, and stopt for the night.  Free Trader still near us.  A fine night.  Comet visible; has travelled rapidly to the southwest.  Lightning playing beautifully at a distance; said to be south.  I have got confused, and cannot readily realise the points of the compass.  Cincinnati is on the north, Louisville on the south side of the river; and the course of the boat changing with the devious course of the stream every minute.  Without the aid of a compass it is impossible to tell the points of the heavens.  Ate but little at supper; tea bad; appetite bad -- nothing to tempt it.  Our new steward has got good loaf bread, and milk for tea and coffee -- the first of either that we have had on board.  Gambling still going on to excess.  Much disturbed in the night by some of the company who had been on shore gambling, and came in about 2 or 3 o'clock, very noisy.  Unwell ever since I left Louisville.  A Major Flournoy, who came with us from Cincinnati, complains of the same.  He is sick every night.  Hudgins also complains.  Archer, of Petersburg, the same.  A lady sick in the night (Mrs. Taylor); her son occupies berth under me.  He was called up to her.  Our company increases at every town.  There are now 200 souls on board; upwards of 100 cabin passengers; great scuffling for mattresses.  I am happy in having a good and very comfortable berth.  Most of the gentlemen sleep in pants.  I change as at home.  Astonished to find in how small a compass I can arrange and perform all the economy of the toilet.

Wednesday, Octo. 21, 1835

Our boat and Free Trader both under steam at early day.  A fine, bracing morning.  Not entirely well, but up and on deck.  No appetite for breakfast.  Introduced to a Mr. Marshall of Natchez, a nephew of Geo. Rothrock; recalled his father and mother in Alexandria.  He went South when young; has become very wealthy; married a rich Widow Ross; he is now between 35 and 40, handsome, plain and gentlemanly.  Invited me to see him in Natchez, and proffered information about lands.  Is president of the National Bank.  Passed the Grand Chain, a ledge of rocks across the river, which has been really improved by Shreve; 10 ft. water on the bar.  At 10 we entered the Great Mississippi, the Father of Waters.  Disappointed again.  Size not wider than the Ohio, and the two united do not add to the greatness of the stream in appearance.  A general expression of disappointment from those who see it for the first time.  Can see nothing of the country beyond the banks.  One side presents a steep bank of 30 to 50 feet, the other a wide and dreary beach of sand -- these alternating as the channel crosses from side to side, as it continually does.  The background wood, wood, wood!

One o'clock, came to at Mill's Point, in Hickman County, Ky., the first settlement we have seen on the Mississippi.  Only 2 or 3  stores, and about 1 dozen


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The Diary of William Fairfax Gray, from Virginia to Texas, 1835-1837
Copyright 1997 William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies
Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas