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Two American missionaries visit the Tehuelche Indians at Gregory's Bay, 1833-1834
The Daily Journal of Rev. Titus Coan [extract]

Sunday, December 1st, 1833 through Saturday, December 7th, 1833

Dec. 1st. Sabbath. As the Indians were unsuccessful in their hunt on yesterday, they have gone out again today in search of food. This is the first Sabbath they have spent in hunting since we have been among them. This morning the wife of Lorice came to see us with a very pleasant countenance and desired me to go to her husband's tent, and get a piece of meat. Accordingly I went and received the present which was a piece of young guanaco; but it was not long after then before she came again to beg some of our things, and continued until her departure was a great relief to us. Until today the family have not visited us since our removal to this place, and we suspect the reason to be that they were displeased that we erected our tent close by that of the Old Captain and his son, as we had formerly done. The Indians pitch their tents nearly in a line, with the Old Captain's on the right and that of Captain Lorice on the left.

The day has been calm and pleasant and we have been less interrupted with company than on most previous days. My Companion has been considerably indisposed today, so that he has kept his bed. Probably this is on account of the great change in his diet. The wife of the aged Captain has been several times to see him, and appears to sympathise with much motherly feeling. There is something so noble, so kind and generous in this aged couple that my affections are strongly drawn toward them and I ardently long that the gospel with its free invitations, and rich and consoling promises may yet come to them before they die. I can but think that while thousands of [youth?] in christian lands reject it with disdain they would receive it with the docility of little children.

Monday Dec. 2d. Washed out some clothes today, and the Indians gathered around with much curiosity to witness the strange manoeuvre. Brother Arms has in a good degree recovered from his indisposition so that he is quite smart again. The Old Captain and his wife made us a long visit, and entertained us much with the cordiality of their friendship. During their stay the wife of Lorice came and looked into our tent, but perceiving us entertaining some of the family towards whom she seems to indulge a deadly hatred she turned herself and made off to our no small joy. Shut up our tent before night and […] the monthly concert. This is the first season of the kind we have spent on heathen ground, and though there were but two of us to call on the name of the Lord, yet we were not solitary or comfortless. We read the 35th and the [62nd?] chapters of Isaiah, and found ourselves much strengthened to go forward in our work. I had prayed for missionaries on such occasions before, but never with such a knowledge of the trials and wants of a missionary. I had prayed for heathen on such occasions before, but never surrounded by heathen within the sound of my voice.

Dec 3d. The weather is warm and the Indians indulge their native indolence in lounging in their tents, or sleeping on the ground. They have been so successful of late in taking guanaco that they are full fed, and we also are bountifully supplied by the generosity of our young friend Captain Louis. Hitherto our apprehensions of suffering with hunger have not been realised. The Lord has liberally spread our table, if not with the luxuries, yet with the necessaries of life.

Dec. 4th. Went out this morning in search of vegetables for poth[…], and by the ready aid of some half a dozen children soon succeeded in obtaining a fine mess of the root which the Indians call [ blank ]. In appearance it resembles the garlic, and in flavour is much like the wild turnip. While preparing our dinner I perceived some of the Indians taking down their tents and making preparations as if to decamp. Most of the horses were brought up and in a few minutes every tent was struck except that of the old Captain and his son, and the horses were all laden for a removal. This sudden, and to us mysterious movement, was ordered by Captain Lorice, but for what reason we could not determine. when they were about to remove before, we had timely notice of it and were requested to be in a state of readiness to go ourselves; but at this time nothing was said to us on the subject until the company began to move off. Perceiving no preparations making for a removal in the tent of the young Captain we went and enquired the cause, and were informed that that family were to remain, and that we were to stay with them. After most of the Indians had gone Captain Lorice came to see us apparently with a view to explain the matter to us, and from what he said we got the idea that he was going to meet Santa Maria, the Queen, and would be back in a few days, but by conversing since with the other family we apprehend that we either misunderstood him, or that he used duplicity with the intent of misrepresenting the matter.

Some of the Indians came to us and were very anxious that we should go, but as no arrangements were made to carry our effects Providence seemed evidently to say, wait where you are and see the result. In a short time the Indians were all off the ground except the solitary tent before mentioned. The family of the aged Captain consists of a wife and five children, two sons and three daughters. The two oldest daughters, now young women, went with the tribe, and the young Captain with a little sister and brother remain with their parents. When the Company started, the young man mounted his horse and accompanied them for some time; but he returned before night with a guanaco which he had killed on the way. Of this he gave us nearly half, so that, though we are left in the midst of a wide and unknown solitude with no knowledge of the residence of a human being except the single family in whose care under God we have confided, yet is does not seem to be the will of our heavenly Father that we should immediately perish by starvation. How long we shall stay here, or where we shall next go is all uncertain to us. It is emphatically true that we know not what a day may bring forth. These Savages have no fixed residence, but remove suddenly from place to place according as fancy or caprice dictates. They seem to remove with their tents and all their effects with as much ease as the farmer goes to mill.

Dec. 5th. We have had a very quiet time today, and the peace and stillness around make it appear almost like a Sabbath of rest. Seeing a drove of guanacos on a distant hill, the young man offered me his gun and wished me to go in pursuit of them; accordingly I went, and after traveling nearly two miles came in full view of more than thirty feeding in a herd. They resembled a drove of young horses so much that I should have taken them for such had I never seen a guanaco before. On approaching them they often neigh like the horse. As these animals are very wild I was not able to approach within musket shot of them. So I returned with no other reward for my labour than the benefit of a thorough though rather fatiguing exercise.

Dec. 6th. It being intimated to the young Captain that we needed more covering at night he immediately presented us with several young guanaco skins, and […] his mother and sister set to making them into a mantle for us. We have only to reveal our wants to this family and they are readily supplied to the extent of their ability. Our Indian Mother treats us with much kindness, and endeavours to prevent any thing from annoying us. If the dogs become troublesome while we are dressing our meat, or cooking, she often comes with her rod to chasten them, and teach them good manners. The little children, about 8 and 10 years old, appear amiable, affectionate and obedient. They are never troublesome, like many of the Indian children, when they visit us, and they exhibit no inclination to pilfer little articles. In point of intellect, sprightliness and pleasantry they would not suffer by a comparison with most children in civilized countries.

Dec. 7th. The young Captain has been out today, and brought in a fine supply of fresh meat which he divided with us as usual, so that instead of suffering for the want of provision we are kept constantly rather overstocked. The weather has been cold during the day with frequent falls of rain and hail. Brother Arms is still feeble and unable to attend to much active duty.