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town is on a plain, terminated by a bluff on the river.  It is surrounded by an amphitheatre of pretty hills, over which it is already laid out, and some pretty houses are extending.  It is a place of considerable trade, and has grown rapidly.  A much greater growth anticipated, although it is about to be rivaled by Wetumpka, some forty miles higher up, and at the head of steamboat navigation.  Saw Wm. Pollard, young Bell and Rootes, and Mr. Whiting, who is now cashier of the bank here, with a salary of $4,000, and a house, etc. -- a smug berth.  Fortunately found here the steamboat Ben Franklin, to steam for Mobile at 5 o'clock, in which we took passage, with a promise to be at Mobile before daylight on Monday morning.

27th: Breakfast, 50 cents; supper 50 cents.
28th: Bill at Montgomery, $2.  Porter, boots, etc., 50 cents.

Sunday, January 29, 1837

On board steamboat Ben Franklin, going down the Alabama.  A gloomy, drizzling day.  Fine boat and pleasant passengers.  Found on board my old acquaintance, Reuben Thornton, who proved to be a relation of Taliaferro.  He went ashore early in the morning, at, I believe, Cahawba.

Became acquainted with General Edwin D. King, of Perry County, Alabama, who has lands in Texas, bought in conjunction with J. R. Allen.

H. Field, of Union Town, Perry County, Ala., a nephew of Judge R. H. Field; he went from Petersburg.  Handsome young man; married; has just sold out; thinks lands and Negroes will fall; intends resting on his arms till times change.

Nath'l Reese, of Benton, a Virginian, formerly a Negro trader, now a merchant, thinks well of Texas, and says he and many others in Alabama are only waiting for peace in that country, when all who can sell here will go there to push their fortune.[ 2]  This I find to be a common sentiment here.  They are getting out of conceit of Alabama.

The Alabama is a narrow and rapid stream, between steep and high banks, the country not visible from the boats; floods rise fifty and sixty feet; banks mostly still clay, running into limestone; much cane.

The Captain charged us $20 fare, but by the adroitness of an old traveller named Dunn, who had made a bargain when he first came on board for $15, and who took care to make it known to the passengers, we all got off for $15 each.

Among the passengers were several of the Florida Volunteers on their return home to Tennessee -- Pillow, Maxwell and Williams, the latter an interesting young man of Nashville, who has been sick for four months, and now looks badly.  They all speak badly of Jessup, and well of Call.  They say the country of


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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