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from Middlesex, Va., in 1812, and acted as an overseer here for a number of years, has now become a wealthy planter, and lives on Bayou -----, was very civil in introducing me to several gentlemen on board.  A Judge Miller, formerly of this State, now of Cincinnati; a Mr. Carey, a brother of the one of that name who was killed in the celebrated Bowie fight near Natchez.  The widow, who is a daughter of Judge Miller, is now on board, and her little son.  A Gen'l Thomas, a lawyer, living near Alexandria, formerly a M. C. from Tennessee.  A Dr. Burr, who came from New York, near Troy, says he landed at Alexandria about two years ago with his wife and two small children, and not more than $6 in his pocket.  By the practice of medicine and planting, which he commenced on credit, he is now worth $24,000.  Says it is his design to return to the North; he has health, but his family are unhappy, and it is impossible to raise children morally here.  Although he has had health in his family (having only lost one child, and that by scarlet fever), yet of thirteen other men who came from New York with him, only one remains.  He ascribes the mortality of the country to intemperance.  The inordinate use of ardent spirits and of coffee, of which the people here drink a great deal, and he thinks it injurious to the nervous system.  Says the climate relaxes the system very much, and the settlers suppose it necessary to rouse it by the use of stimulants, than which nothing can be more erroneous.  That the moderate use of the ordinary wholesome food is all the stimulus needed; that the use of strong meats should be sparingly indulged in.  The best diet is bread and milk, and the free use of vegetables.  He lives on Bayou Boeuf.

Beeman says the best lands in this part of the State are on Bayou Boeuf, Bayou Rapide, Bayou Robert and Bayou Puffbower.  This latter is said to derive its name from a man, who, traveling through this country many years ago, got swamped in that bayou with his horse, and was near perishing.  The lands on the bayous are higher than those on the river, and never overflow.  They are thickly settled, and form fine neighborhoods.

Gen'l Thomas mentioned what I had before heard from Major Mason, that six or seven hundred miles above the Kiomechi,the Red River runs through a sterile desert for a great distance, where it is perfectly clear, beyond which little or nothing is known of it.  Its upper waters are strongly impregnated with mineral substances; their prevalence, even here, is said to be the reason that the water of this river is not good to drink.  Even after it settles and becomes clear its taste is offensive, hence the water generally drank in this country is preserved in cisterns.  The Pawnee fork of Red River, which is the great North fork, is very salt, and is said to run over immense rocks of salt.  The Indians sometimes bring in large lumps of pure salt, said to be taken from those rocks.  Major Mason was shown by the Indians large masses of salt, hanging like


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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