As the United States began to look westward after the Louisiana Purchase, its official government exploring parties increasingly included scientists who were sent to study the natural history of the new lands. In the spring of 1849, young Philadelphia physician S.W. Woodhouse, an avid ornithologist, became one of these fortunate pioneering scientists when he was appointed surgeon-naturalist of two expeditions to survey the Creek-Cherokee boundary in Indian Territory. Throughout the expeditions, Woodhouse, a keen observer of frontier life and society, wrote down his impressions of the places he passed, as well as offering his physician’s-eye view of the lives of ordinary people. His three diaries are also a valuable record of early Indian Territory personalities such as the McIntoshes and the Perrymans of the Creek Indians; Elijah Hicks of the Cherokees; Tallee and Clermont III of the Osages; and Oh-ha-wah-kee of the Comanches. The journals also contain a rare early view of Oklahoma wildlife. Woodhouse’s work in Indian Territory results in the discovery of 15 new forms of animals.
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