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The Expedition of Batts and Fallam:
A Journey from Virginia to beyond the
Appalachian Mountains, September, 1671.
From Annals of Southwest Virginia, 1769-1800.
© Lewis Preston Summers, Abingdon Virginia, 1929
Thomas Batts,1 Thomas Woods and
Robert Fallows having received a commission from the honourable Major
General Wood for the finding out the ebbing and flowing of the Waters on
the other side of the Mountaines in order to the discovery of the South Sea
accompanied with Penecute a great man of the Apomatack Indians and Jack
Weason, formerly a servant to Major General Wood with five horses set forth
from the Apomatacks town about eight of the clock in the morning, being
Friday Sept. 1, 1671. That day we traveled above forty miles, took up our
quarters and found that we had traveled from the Okenecheepath due west.
Sept. 2. we traveled about forty miles and came to our
quarters at Sun set and found that we were to the north of the West.
Sept. 3. we traveled west and by south and about three
oclock came to a great swamp a mile and a half or two miles over and
very difficult to pass. we led our horses thro and waded twice over
a River emptying itself in Roanoake River. After we were over we went
northwest and so came round and took up our quarters west. This day we
traveled forty miles good.
Sept. 4. We set forth and about two of the clock
arrivd at the Sapiny Indian town. We traveled south and by west
course till about even(ing) and came to the Saponys west. Here we
were joyfully and kindly received with firing of guns and plenty of
provisions. We here hired a Sepiny Indian to be our guide towards the
Teteras, a nearer way than usual.
Sept. 5. Just as we were ready to take horse and march from
the Sapinys about seven of the clock in the Morning we heard some
guns go off from the other side of the River. They were seven Apomatack
Indians sent by Major General Wood to accompany us in our voyage. We hence
sent back a horse belonging to Mr. Thomas Wood, which was tired, by a
Portugal, belonging to Major General Wood, whom we here found. About eleven
of the clock we set forward and that night came to the town of the
Hanathaskies which we judge to be twenty five miles from the Sapenys, they
are lying west and by north in an island on the Sapony River2 rich land.
Sept. 6. About eleven of the clock we set forward from the
Hanathaskies; but left Mr. Thomas Wood at the town dangerously sick of the
Flux, and the horse he roade on, belonging to Major General Wood was
likewise taken with the staggers and a failing in his hinder parts. Our
course was this day West and by South and we took up our quarters West
about twenty miles from the town. This afternoon our horses strayd
away about ten of the clock
Sept. 7. We set forward, about three of the clock we had
sight of the mountains, we traveled twenty-five miles over hilly and stony
Ground our course westerly.
Sept. 8. We set out by sunrise and Traveled all day a west
and by north course. About one of the clock we came to a Tree markd
in the past with a coal M. AN i. About four of the clock we came to the
foot of the first mountain went to the top and then came to a small
descent, and so did rise again and then till we came almost to the bottom
was a very steep descent. We traveled all day over very stony, rocky ground
and after thirty miles travill this day we came to our quarters at the foot
of the mountains due west. We passed the Sapony River twice this day.
Sept. 9. We were stirring with the sun and travelled west
and after a little riding came again to the Sapony River where it was very
narrow, and ascended the second mountain which wound up west and by south
with several springs and fallings, after which we came to a steep descent
at the foot whereof was a lovely descending valley about six miles over
with curious small risings. Our course over it was southwest. After we were
over that we came to a very steep descent, at the foot whereof stood the
Tetera Town3 in a
very rich swamp between a branch and the main River of Roanoke circled
about with mountains. we got thither about three of the clock after we had
travelled twenty-five miles. Here we were exceedingly civilly
(Sept. 9-11) Saturday night, Sunday and monday we staid at
the Toteras. Perecute being taken very sick of a fever and ague every
afternoon, not withstanding on tuesday morning about nine of the clock we
resolved to leave our horses with the Toteras and set forward.
Sept. 12. We left the town West and by North we
travelld that day sometimes southerly, sometimes westerly as the
path went over several high mountains and steep Vallies crossing several
branches and the Roanoke River several times all exceedingly stony ground
until about four of the clock Perceute being taken with his fit and verry
weary we took up our quarters by the side of Roanoke River almost at the
head of it at the foot of the great mountain. Our course was west by north,
having travelld twenty-five miles. At the Teteras we hired one of
their Indians for our guide and left one of the Apomatack Indians there
Sept. 13. In the morning we set forward early. After we had
travelled about three miles we came to the foot of the great mountain and
found a very steep ascent so that we could scarse keep ourselves from
sliding down again. It continued for three miles with small intermissions
of better way. right up by the path on the left we saw the porportions of
the mon. When we were got up to the top of the mountain and setdown very
weary we saw very high mountains lying to the north and south as far as we
could discern. Our course up the mountain was west by north. A very small
descent on the other side and as soon as over we found the vallies tending
westerly. It was a pleasing tho dreadful sight to see the mountains
and Hills as if piled one upon another. After we had travilld about
three miles from the mountains, easily descending ground about twelve of
the clock we came to two trees markd with a coal MANI. the other cut
in with MA and several other scratchments.
Hard by a Run just like the swift creek at Mr.
Randolphs in Virginia, emptying itself sometimes westerly and
sometimes northerly with curious meadows on each (side). Going forward we
found rich ground but having curious rising hills and brave meadows with
grass about a mans height. many rivers running west-north-west and
several Runs from the southerly mountains which we saw as we marchd,
which run northerly into the great River. After we had travelled about
seven miles we came to a very steep descent where we found a great Run,4 which emptied itself in to the great River
northerly. our course being as the path went, west-south-west. We set
forward and had not gone far but we met again with the River, still broad
running west and by north. We went over the great run emptying itself
northerly into the great River. After we had marched about six miles
northwest and by north we came to the River again where it was much broader
than at the other two places. It ran here west and by south and so as we
suppose roundup westerly. Here we took up our quarters, after we had waded
over, for the night. Due west, the soil, the farther we went (is) the
richer and full of bare meadows and old fields.
Sept. 14. We set forward before sunrise our provisions being
all spent we travelled as the path went sometimes westerly sometimes
southerly over good ground but stony, sometimes rising hills and then steep
Descents as we marchd in a clear place at the top of a hill we saw
lying south west a curious prospect of hills like waves raised by a gentle
breese of wind rising one upon another. Mr. Batts supposed he saw sayles;
but I rather think them to be white clifts.5 We
marched about twenty miles this day and about three of the clock we took up
our quarters to see if the Indians could kill us some Deer. being west and
by north, very weary and hungry and Perceute continued very ill yet desired
to go forward. We came this day over several brave runs and hope tomorrow
to see the main River again.
Sept. 15. Yesterday in the afternoon and this day we lived a
Dogs life--hunger and ease. Our Indians having done their best could
kill us no meat. The Deer they said were in such herds and the ground so
dry that one or other of them could spy them. About one of the clock we set
forward and went about fifteen miles over some good, some indifferent
ground, a west and by north course till we came to a great run which
empties itself west and by north as we suppose into the great River which
we hope is nigh at hand. As we marchd we met with some wild
gooseberries and exceeding large haws with which we were forced to feed
Sept. 16. Our guide went from us yesterday and we saw him no
more till we returned to the Toras. Our Indians went aranging betimes to
see and kill us some Deer or meat. One came and told us they heard a Drum
and a Gun go off to the northwards. They brought us some exceeding good
Grapes and killed two turkies which were very welcome and with which we
feasted ourselves and about ten of the clock set forward and after we had
travelled about ten miles one of our Indians killed us a Deer and presently
afterwards we had sight of a curious River like Apomatack River. Its course
here was north and so as we suppose runs west about a certain curious
mountains we saw westward. Here we had up our quarter, our course having
been west. We understand the Mohecan Indians did here formerly live. It
cannot be long since for we found corn stalks in the ground.
Sept. 17. Early in the morning we went to seek some trees to
mark, our Indians being impatient of longer stay by reason it was likely to
be bad weather, and that it was so difficult to get provisions. We found
four trees exceeding fit for our purpose that had been half bared by our
Indians, standing after one the other. We first proclaimed the King in
these words: Long live Charles the Second, by the grace of God King
of England, Scotland, France, Ireland, and Virginia and of all the
Territories thereunto belonging,Defender of the faith etc. firing
some guns and went to the first tree which we marked thus
with a pair
of marking irons for his sacred majesty.
The next then for the right honourable
Governor Sir William Berkley, the third thus for the
honourable Major General Wood. The last thus: : RE.
P. for Perceute who said he would learn Englishman. And on another tree
hard by stand these letters one under another TT. NP. VE. R after we had
done we went ourselves down to the river side; but not without great
difficulty it being a piece of very rich ground where the Moketans had
formerly lived,.and grown upwith weeds and small prickly Locusts and
Thistles to a very great height that it was almost impossible topass. It
cost us hard labor to get thro. When we came to the River side we
found it much better and broader than expected, much like James River at
Col. Staggs, the falls much like these falls.6 We imagined by the Water marks that it flows
here about three feat. It was ebbing water when we were here. We set up a
stick by the water side but found it ebbed very slowly. Our Indians kept
such a hollowing that we durst not stay any longer to make further tryal.
Immediatly upon coming to our quarters we returned home
wards and when we were got to the Top of a Hill we turned about and saw
over against us, westerly, over a certain delightful hill a fog arise and a
glimmering light as from water. We supposed there to be a great Bay. We
came to the Toteras Tuesday night where we found our horses, and ourselves
wel entertaind. We immediatly had the news of Mr. Byrd and his great
companys Discoveries three miles from the Teteras Town. We have
found Mehetan Indians who having intelligence of our coming were afraid it
had been to fight them and had sent him to the Toteras to inquire.
We have him satisfaction to the contrary and that we came as friends,
presented him with three or four shots of powder. He told us by our
Interpreter, that we had (been) from the mountians half way to the place
they now live at. That the next town beyond them lived on a plain level,
from whence came abundance of salt. That he could inform us no further by
reason that there were a great company of Indians that lived upon the great
Sept. 21. After very civil entertainment we came from the
Toteras and on Sunday morning the 24th we came to the Hanahathskies. We
found Mr. Wood dead and buried and his horse likewise dead. After civil
entertainment, with firing of guns at parting which was more than
Sept. 25. on monday morning we came from thence and reached to the
Saponys that night where we stayed till wednesday.
Sept. 27. We came
from thence they having been very courteous to us. At night we came to the
Apomatack Town, hungry, wet and weary.
October 1 being Sunday morning we
arrived at Fort Henry. Gods holy name be praised for our
1. Thomas Batts (Batt, Batte) was in Virginia as early as 1667. He was a
son of John Batts and grandson of Robert Batts, fellow and vicarmaster of
University College, Oxford. With his brother Henry, to whom Beverly
ascribes the leadership of the present expedition, he patented five
thousand, eight hundred, seventy eight acres of land in the Appomatox
Valley, August 29, 1668. Henry Batts was burgess for Charles City County in
1691. Thomas Batts died in 1698, and his will is on record in Henrico
2. This is the Staunton River.
3. Near Salem, Virginia.
4. This great run was really the New River and identical with
their great river. That they realized this is shown by the
second sentence following and by the last words of the entry for Sept. 14.
5. Mr. Batts supposed he saw houses but Mr. Fallam rather took them to be
white cliffs... New York Colonial Documents. This sentence shows
that Fallam wrote the journal.
6. The point reached by the explorers was Peters Falls, where the
New River breaks through Peters Mountain, near Pearisburg Virginia.
East Tennessee Pre-1796
Middle Tennessee Pre-1796
This page last updated
on Thursday, August 13, 2015