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Did you know...
One of Celeron's Plates
ONE OF CELERON'S PLATES.
In 1749 the Marquis de la Galissonidre, "Captain General of
New France," in pursuance of his plan of claiming for the French
crown the territory drained by the Mississippi and its affluents,
despatched an officer, Celeron de Bienville, with orders to deposit
at certain points leaden plates inscribed with that claim. A description
of one of these plates, in the cabinet of the American
Antiquarian Society, is given in the transactions of that society,
Vol. II. This plate was buried on Aug. 16, at the mouth of the
river " Yenague," or Muskingum. It is, unhappily, in a sorely
mutilated condition, not more than one-fourth of the inscription
being left. In the proceedings of that Society for 1905, this fragment
of a plate is said to be the only one now known to be in
The Maryland Historical Society has in its collections a facsimile
of another of these most interesting historical relics, which
was buried two days later at the mouth of the Kanawha, and which
was (and presumably still is) in perfect condition. The facsimile
was sent in 1847 to the President of the Society, and we reproduce
it with the accompanying letter :
My Dear Sir :
I take pleasure in sending you an accurate transcript of an
engraved leaden plate which was recently found at the confluence
of the Ohio and Great Kanawha Rivers, where it had lain some
ninety-seven years, until from abrasion it was disclosed, projecting
from the bank of the Ohio, at a depth of some six feet.
The plate, which is now in the possession of Col. Beale at Point
Pleasant (mouth of the Kanawha) is about an eighth of an inch
thick. In other respects the sheet which I send you is an accurate
representation—one corner of it presenting jagged appearance, as
if worn by the friction of the water. The inscription, as well as
the several emblems of France, the fleur de lis, so much resembles
the original, that the whole may be regarded as an impression from
This unpronounceable name of our river, has no place in legend
or tradition—but is long since, snperceded by the more euphonious
Kanawha—" river of the woods."
Accept assurances of the regard and esteem of
JAMES M. LAIDLEY.
BBANTZ MAYER, ESQB.,
Charleston, January 25, 1847.
ONE OF CELERON'S PLATES. 279
The editor has endeavored, but without success, to find out
where this plate now is, if still in existence. Miss Delia A. Mc-
Culloch, of Point Pleasant, W. Va., informs him that there is a
report that it was taken to Richmond, copied by the Virginia
Historical Society, and returned to the finder, Mr. Charles W.
Beale. Mr. Beale is still living, and his statement is that he lent
the plate to Mr. J. M. H. Beale, then a member of Congress, who
gave it to the Smithsonian Institution; but there is no record at
that Institution of its ever having been received. Miss McCulloch
also states that a description and copy were given in " The Olden
Time," a periodical published in Pittsburg in 1846.
As this seems to be the only perfect plate known to be in existence,
a knowledge of its present whereabouts is very desirable;
and the editor would be grateful for any information on this point.