Narrative of a Journey down the Ohio and Mississippi in 1789 to 1790. With a Memoir and Illustrative Notes by Lyman C. Draper
Samuel S. Forman
The journey down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers was instigated by Ezekiel Forman, who intended to move his family and sixty odd colored people to the Natchez country. Samuel S. Forman accompanied them, recounting his adventures for our reading enjoyment two hundred years later. Maj. Forman gives us many insights into the trials and tribulations of long-distance traveling in the late 1700s. It took Samuel Forman and his party three weeks to get from Cranberry, New Jersey, to Pittsburgh. En route he had trouble with finding accommodations, a lack of funds, and a delayed meeting with Ezekiel. Once everyone was together at the Ohio River, and boats secured for their trip, the river rose and delayed their start by a month. By January of 1790, the group had arrived at Louisville, at the Falls of the Ohio where they waited for the river to clear of ice. In February, everyone continued the journey except for Samuel, who, having set up shop, would resume his southwardly trip in May after trading his store and remaining goods for a tobacco boat. He deals with Indians, river obstructions, and much hard work before arriving at Natchez. Entreated to stay with Ezekiel, he nonetheless feels obligated to return home to New Jersey and does so by sea. Samuel is attentive to recounting names and places, and he provides many details which must have been commonplace knowledge for him but which are vital and important tidbits to modern students of history. Footnotes by Draper add historical and biographical details.