November 1, 1832
1 November: Overcast sky and warm. At seven thirty in the morning, temperature of 10°R ⟨[⟩ 54. 5°F, 12.5°C]. The sky had been red yesterday, and this indicated rainy weather. Mr. Hall, our traveling companion and associate since Louisville, left today. We wrote to St. Louis to have any letters for us there forwarded here. Cholera is now said to be more severe there; some people also believe that it has spread from St. Louis to Cincinnati and Louisville.
At nine o’ clock I undertook a walk to the forest up along the bank of the Wabash. Near the ferry that crosses the river, I entered the forest, at the beginning of which tall, dry Syngenesia plants released large amounts of their seed filaments onto my clothing. Because of the low level of the river, sandy areas now extend along its banks. Here I believed I would find some kingfishers (Alcedo alcyon Linn.), but in
vain. Along and on those flat sandbars, willows grow in clumps, some with leaves similar to Salix alba, some with narrower ones. 38 Behind them rises the high forest, here traversed by various kinds of ditches, some of them unusual; the ground was covered with fallen foliage, and stalking was therefore not easy everywhere.
A large number of thick, fallen trunks stretch out on the ground among equally old majestic giants. In the season of full foliage, this forest must be extremely attractive. Platanus of enormous thickness, divided into very thick, spread-out branches, in part hollow, snow-white on their upper parts because the bark has completely fallen away. On the tips of their branches, they still have the large, yellowish red leaves, which the wind was hurling to the ground. Frequently Rhus radicans, Vitis labrusca, Hedera quinquefolia Cissus, Smilax, and other plants twist around the thick trunks, which they often completely cover like a net. 39
Other trees were entwined in tangles of grapevines, some as thick as a man’ s thigh. Here grew tall tulip trees, maples of enormous thickness and height, M14The tall Gymnocladus canadensis, which bears large pods; Gleditsia triacanthos; Robinia pseudoacacia; several species of Juglans: pecan (Juglans olivaeformis), butternut (J. cinerea), with its elongated fruit; the hickory with a small nut; the black walnut (J. nigra). ⟨[and]⟩ oaks, especially the Quercus macrocarpa with its huge fruits, which now lay on the ground. But among all the plants, the magnificent Bignonia radicans—which we see so often in our gardens but here extraordinarily often coils around ⟨[tree]⟩ trunks—adorns this shady area most of all during the summer. M15According to David Thomas (p. 139), it grows in Madison County, Ohio, though small; already larger near
Vincennes and enormous near Harmony. It is said to grow along the White River and in nearby towns, just as it does at Vincennes ([Thomas] p. 146). Here its foliage was still primarily a fresh, green color, but I did not find
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any seeds in this deeply shaded forest. In many places here in the forest, the pawpaw trees (Annona triloba or porce -
lia Pers.), with their large, beautiful leaves and
their attractive whitish gray bark, form copses of straight undergrowth 15 to 20 feet high.
I often stood and listened attentively for various birds, while urubus soared in wide circles high above the forest; far away, at the edge of the cornfields, one heard the shrill call of the wary crows, only one of which we had been able to bag during our entire stay in America. The forest resounded with the tapping of the woodpeckers: Picus auratus,
carolinus, pubescens, varius, and others; their calls very closely resemble those of German woodpeckers. But close to us, tits were climbing and pecking: Parus bicolor and atricapillus, the nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) with the black crown, and the small brown creepers (Certhia), which I added to our bird collection. 40 Several other small birds were fluttering in the very crowns of the trees, which my
bird shot could not reach. The heat was great. At twelve thirty we had a temperature of 16 1/2°R ⟨[69.1°F, 20.6°C]⟩ in the shade and in the breeze. In the open field it was very hot.
I returned home fatigued, since I had just recovered from my indisposition. I found several persons indisposed. Mr. Say, too, complained about his stomach. Incidentally, we received letters today from Louisville, according to which cholera there is said to have subsided somewhat.
In the afternoon we visited Mr. Lesueur, and with him and Mr. Say ⟨[we]⟩ climbed the high loft on what had once been the church, the tallest building in town. From here one has an interesting view: to the south and west, ⟨[an overview]⟩ of the Wabash, with its meanderings in dense, level forests; around Harmony, of a beautiful plain, cleared by Mr. Rapp’ s Germans and now covered with fields of tall corn, enclosed by forest; and in an easterly direction, of an odd range of undulating hills in the direction of Mount Vernon.
From there we went into Mr. Lesueur’ s house and viewed until evening the superb collection of drawings of mollusks, frogs, and mammals that he had made during his journey around the world with Captain Baudin. These collections are most interesting, and it is a great pity that they were not published earlier. Now they lie in this remote corner of the earth, and their owner is already old. In the evening, until ten o’ clock, a visit from by Messrs. Lesueur, Say, and Gibbs Twigg (General). 41