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THIS county is bounded on the north, by James river, which

washes it about thirty-five miles : on the east, partly by upper Chippoah creek, and partly by the Surry line ; on the south, by Surry, Sussex, and Dinwiddie counties; and on the west, by Appomattox river.

It is in length about thirty miles ; its breadth is various ; the medium is sixteen miles. It originally formed part of Charles city county, which is now confined to the northern side of James river.

The river is here about one mile wide at the points ; but in the bays, from two to three miles ; at the confluence of the Appomattox is City. point, which with Bermuda-Hundred, on the opposite side of the Appomattox, forms the port of this district. Vessels of five hundred tons may here load and unload. At Hoods, about eighteen miles below, a British ship of forty-four guns has lain.

Appomattox is navigable for square rigged vessels seven miles; from this to Petersburg, it is only navigable for vessels of less than sixty tons.

The James is one of the most noble rivers in the United States. From its mouth to City-point, it varies in breadth from one to six miles, except at Hoods, where it is only four hundred yards in width. (Here is a very eligible situation to erect a fort for the defence of the upper part of the river, in a case of necessity.) It is navigable for vessels of one hundred and forty tons burthen to Richmond, which is one hundred and sixty miles from Cape Henry, the entrance to the bay of Chesapeak from the Atlantick ocean. In its progress it receives a great num. ber of smaller streams, which are for the most part navigable for several miles. From Prince George it receives, besides the Appomattox and Chippoah, Bailey's, Powell's, and Ward's creeks, with some others of less note. The southern part of this county is watered by Black Water, and the streams which fall into it. This is an extensive swamp rising in the south-west part of Prince George, and running a very lengthy course, it empties into Albemarle sound, in North Carolina. In summer it is, however, confined to a narrow breadth, and is navigable only for canoes.

These rivers and creeks abound with fish of various kinds. In James river are found the sturgeon, shad, bass, carp, sheep's-head, drum, herrings, perch, and cats, &c. It has also a great abundance of oysters and crabs ; of the former, there are none so high up as this, and but few of the latter. In the spring there are immense numbers of shads and herrings taken in seines ; upwards of five thousand of the former have been taken at a single haul; the same number of the latter is not uncommon.

It is not digressing far, to mention here the improvements now making in the navigation of this river.

The falls coinmence at Richmond, and extend seven miles above. The bed of the river is filled with innumerable rocks ; over and between which the waters rush with great rapidity. Canals have been dug round these falls, and partly excavated from a solid rock, and locks have been constructed. The various impediments higher up the river have been reinoved, all with infinite labour and great expense ; so that it is rendered navigable for large flat boats, carrying twenty hogsheads of tobacco, from Lynchburg, more than a hundred and forty miles above Richmond.

It is intended to connect this canal with the tide waters which flow, to the lower edge of the falls ; this will be completed in the course of the summer, The head branches of the river have been explored, and a report made, that the navigation may be carried through the ridges, to the foot of the Alleghany mountains, which will be attempted, when the canal is finished. Not unconnected with this is the attempt now making to unite the waters of James river with those of Albemarle sound, in North Carolina, by the way of Elizabeth river, and a canal through the Dismal swamp, to the head of Pasquotank. This is in considerable forwardness.

In the winter season, there is a great number of wild fowl on this river and its waters, viz. swans, geese, shelldrakes, a variety of ducks and teal. The woods afford wild turkies, partridges in abundance, a few pheasants, pigeons, some deer, and other game common to the rest of America. Here is also that singular animal, the opossum. The reptiles are nearly the same as in the more northern parts of America, with some not known there. The scorpion, which is very venomous, is frequently seen here. Lizards of various colours are common, but are quite harmless. The snakes are much the same. Rattle snakes are not often seen, but in lieu of them, the mocasson is frequently found on the water courses : these are venomous and bold. The jointed and spur snakes are sometimes met with. Of the two latter I have not seen any ; but am well informed the former is composed of joints about an inch in length, which are scaly and brittle : It is said, on being struck, it immediately breaks off at every joint.

The latter takes its name from a spur or dart at the end of its tail, with which it inflicts a dangerous wound, and is the same which Carver cails the thorn tail snake.

The face of the country is neither level nor hilly, but in some degrce broken and rising into gentle swellings. Upon the water courses, are commonly rich low grounds, admirably adapted for grass, hemp), or flax, and when drained, produce abundant crops of corn and wheat. The high lands are generally of a light loam, interspersed with tracts of sandy or clayey soils. The whole, totally free from rocks, and almost so from loose stones. Many of the points, making into the river, are formed of a rich, deep, black loam, capable, without manure,

of producing any crops in abundance, and are not inferiour to the best lands in the Atlantick States,

Through this county from west to east runs a ridge (though not high) of clayey, barren land, covered with pines, and a few miserable oaks. This divides the waters that fall into James river, from those which empty into Black Water. Southward of this ridge, the soil is more sandy, less productive, and not generally so healthy as the northern side. Upon the river and the navigable creeks are extensive bodies of marsh, sometimes flowed by the tide, which rises here about three feet.

The timber consists of oaks, of various kinds (sufficient within a convenient distance of navigation to build a formidable navy, and of good quality) with all the different species known in the eastern States, and others which do not grow there. Mr. Jefferson has enumerated them in his Notes on Virginia, to which I refer.

The woods abound with wild grapes, some of the vines of a prodigious size ; with an infinite variety of flowering shrubs and plants. Here is also, in abundance, sarsaparilla, snake-root, and ginseng.

Notwithstanding, when the English first made their settlements here, this formed part of an extensive and formidable empire under king Powhatan, it does not appear the Indians had any considerable seats in this county.

A few places on the river only contain vestiges of the original inhabie tants. These are traced on some of the points abovementioned, by the quantity of oyster and muscle shells, upon and near the surface of the earth, by the rude misshapen tools they used, and the points of their arrows (both formed of stone) which are frequently met with at those places. Mr. Jefferson mentions a small tribe that resided in Surry, on the eastern side of Upper Chippoah. Probably their residence was at Clermont, the seat of William Allen, Esq. which is at the confluence of that creek with the river, and where I have frequently met with traces of them.

I do not find that any barrows, or burial places of the aborigines, have been discovered in this neighbourhood. Single graves are sometimes found. These are dry, only cighteen or twenty inches deep ; the bodies uniformly deposited, with the heads to the north, and filled up with muscle shells, probably to prevent dogs or vermin from scratching up the bodies.

Perhaps in no part of the United States, are there such evident demonstrations of a general disruption of the earth, as here, in common with the lower parts of Virginia, or at least, that the lower country of the southern States, between the Alleghany mountains, and the Atlantick ocean, has undergone a material change, since the first for mation of this, our globe.

To have an adequate idea of the appearances here, we must conceive the sea, with its finny tribe ; the bowels of the deep broken up, with its various productions ; the earth torn from its foundations, with its trees and plants ; all these, agitated, mixed, and confounded in one common chaos ; and then we must suppose the water suddenly to retire, and leave this heterogeneous mass to consolidate together; for to nothing else can I compare the appearance of the bowels of the earth bere. The banks of the river (which are generally high) uniformly discover this strange mixture. Deep gullies in various places shew the same ; and upon almost every occasion, where the earth is dug into, there is scarce any variation from this curious and singular phenomenon.

Bones and teeth of large and small fish ; oyster, muscle, clam, and cockle shells, with an infinite variety of scallopped shells ; trees of various sorts, petrified vegetables, and in some instances, the bones of land animals ; all these are met with in every direction ; nor are they to be found only in small quantities ; the land seems to be, in a large proportion, formed of them. Neither are they here, in regular strata, as if they had gradually subsided, with the heaviest bodies downwards, but are indiscriminately mixed, the heavier with the lighter.

Two complete skeletons of whales, or some very large fish, I have seen in this neighbourhood ; the one in the bank of the river, at Cog. gin's Point ; the other, some workmen met with, two years ago, in digging into a gravelly knoll, at the side of a water course, for the foundation of a mill.* Poplar and walnut trees of a large growth, perfect in their shape and form, have been found at the depth of thirty-five feet in the earth. These appearances, in a less or greater degree, extend over the whole champaign country, from the falls of the rivers, to the sea, and (if my information is just) through the whole flat country of the southern states, to St. Augustine, in East Florida. Above the falls of the rivers, the ground rises, and is more hilly, and the bowels of the earth are totally different in their formation,

To what causes can this remarkable difference be attributed ? is a question that naturally occurs.

Mr. Jefferson has passed over, unnoticed, this singular appearance, although it could not have escaped his observation. General Lincoln (my very worthy and respected friend) has mentioned something similar at Yorktown, in a communication to the American Academy ; and Mr. Charles Thompson,in the Appendix to “ Notes on Virginia,” has slightly


I cannot forbear to mention a singular oecurrence, that happened at an old mill, which stood near where the above now stands. About three years since, the miller finding there was some impediment, that prevented the mill going as fast as usual, went to the wheel to see what affected it ; when, behold a serpent of an enormous size, had got entwined in the wheel, so that he could not extricate himself. He quickly stopt it, and with the assistance of some others, killed it; after which they measured its length with a fence-rail, which are usually here about eleven feet in length ; when it appeared to be the full length of the rail, after its head had been partly cut off ; no one had the curiosity to measure its bulk. This fact is well attested both by whites and blacks. It was destroyed and thrown into the creek before I heard of it.

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spoken of it, and seems not to have known the extent thereof. No other accounts have I seen.

It is reserved perhaps for some learned member of the Historical Society, to account therefor, from natural and philosophical causes. For my own part, till a better theory is offered, I shall adhere to that of Mr. Thompson, which he however styles but the vision of fancy, as it so perfectly accords with my own reasoning upon the subject. Had he been well acquainted with all the phenomena, which exist here, he would doubtless have thought with me, that it is not merely a vision, but a fact, as well established as any can be that must depend entirely on conjecture.

I do not however agree with him, that the change here has been effected at various times ; but at once, by some sudden and violent convulsion. For although some appearances (particularly at York-Town) may indicate this, yet in general they tend to confirm my opinion.

The productions of this county consist of wheat, Indian corn, cotton, rye, barley, oats, pease, some tobacco. This latter was originally, as in all parts of Virginia, the principal produce, and has injured the soil to a very great degree. It is, however, fast yielding to the culture of wheat and corn. But a small quantity is now made here, in comparison to that usually made twenty years since ; and it is a misfortune that it is any where cultivated, so largely as in some counties of this state, except in those, where the great distance from market will not allow the transportation of grain.

In common, large quantities of wheat and corn are made for sale in this county, exclusive of their own consumption. Flax and cotton' are raised for the clothing of the white inhabitants, as well as their negroes.

In summer, most of the planters and their families appear in outer garments of cotton of their own fabrick; and it is even fashionable amongst the most wealthy : a circumstance honourable to themselves and advantageous to their country. The growth of cotton is not carried to the extent it might be ; it is easily made, and with proper gins is easily cleaned : but the mode generally in use, of picking it by hand, is very slow and tedious. A sufficiency might be made to supply the eastern states. It is here an annual plant. The staple is not so long as the West-India cotton, but compensates for that, by its superiour fineness.

It is not many years since the planters paid no attention to their low grounds : they begin, however, to find the value of them, and a spirit for improving them is daily spreading. Probably the time is not far distant, when the extensive marshes on the river and creeks will begin to assume a new face, and from yielding no profit, become the most valuable part of the planters' possessions.

The fruits are those common in the states northward of this. Extensive orchards of apple and peach trees are very common, from which the inhabitants make large quantities of cider and brandy. The peaches have a flavour unknown to those of the more northern states ; but the VOL, III.



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