Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Virginia's Euphrates

John Fontaine, a Huguenot journalist and one of my ancestors, was invited to participate in what became known as the legendary Knights of the Golden Horseshoe Expedition, which helped to open the Blue Ridge Mountains to settlers moving westward. This is his account of their discovery of the Shenandoah River, which they named the Euphrates, and the memorable celebration which followed. (Although the etymology of the (Iroquois) Indian word "Shenandoah" is uncertain, as I have camped on the river and looked upward at the night sky, I am glad the name "Shenandoah," often translated "Daughter of the Stars," stuck.)

The Journal of John Fontaine: An Irish Huguenot Son in Spain and Virginia
, p. 106:

September 6, 1716. [Thursday]. Spotswood Camp (Our Governor). We crossed this river which we called Euphrates. It is very deep and the main course of the water is north. It is four score yards wide in the narrowest place and about two foot and 1/2 water from side to side. We drank some healths on the other side and returned, after which I went a swimming in it. It being deep in several places, no place of it fordable as we could only the place we forded. I got some grass hoppers and fished. And another and I we catched a dish of fish. We took some perch and a fish they call Chubb. The others went a hunting and killed deer and turkies. The Governor had graving irons but could not grave any thing the stones were so hard. I graved my name on a tree by the river side and the governor buried a bottle with a paper enclosed in which he writ that he took possession of this place in the name and for King George 1st of England. We had a good dinner. After dinner we got the men all together and loaded all their arms and we drunk the King's health in Champagne, and fired a volley; the Prince's health in Burgundy, and fired a volley; and all the rest of the Royal Family in Claret, and a volley. We drunk the Governor's health and fired another volley. We had several sorts of liquors, namely Virginia Red Wine and White Wine, Irish Usquebaugh [whiskey], Brandy, Shrub, two sorts of Rum, Champagne, Canary, Cherry punch, Cider, Water &c.

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