Beginnings of the Fur Trade in the Carolinas
Digital History ID 648
Dr. Henry Woodward
In 1674, Dr. Henry Woodward, an early Carolina colonist, began to trade furs with the Westos Indians. Here he describes how European traders reached accommodation with the area's Indian population. Note that much of the initiative for establishing the fur trade comes from the Indians.
As we traveled...I saw...where these Indian had drawn upon trees (the bark being hewed away) the effigies of a beaver, a man, on horseback and guns. Intimating thereby...their desire for friendship, and comers with us....We met two Indians with their fowling peeces, sent by their chief to congratulate my arrival into their parts, who himself awaited my coming with diverse others at the Westoe River....I was carried to the Captains hut, who courteously entertained me with a good repast of those things they count rarities among them....The chief of the Indians made long speeches intimating their own strength (and as I judged their desire of friendship with us). This night first having oyled my eyes and joints with bears oil, they presented me diverse dear skins, setting before me sufficient of their food to satisfy at least half a dozen of their own appetites. Here taking my first nights repose, the next day I viewed the Towne, which is built in a confused manner, consisting of many long houses whose sides and tops are both artificially done with bark, upon the tops of most whereof fastened to the ends of long poles hang the locks of hair of Indians they have slain....[Nearby] seldom ly less than one hundred faire canoes ready upon all occasions. They are well provided with arms, ammunition, trading cloth and other trade from the northward for which at set times of the year they truck driest dear skins furs and young Indian slaves.
Source: Alexander S. Salley, ed., Narratives of Early Carolina (New York, 1911), 130-34.
Copyright 2021 Digital History