McCall describes "Gopher John" circa 1842, interpreter, fisherman, chef
to main trail
Lieutenant George McCall published the best known physical description of John Horse in his 1868 book Letters from the Frontiers. The following was a post-script to
McCall's letter headlined "Wahoo Swamp, April 18, 1842":
"Yesterday morning before breakfast, 'Gopher John,' who has grown up from a long-legged, ill-looking negro boy to a fine-looking fellow of six feet, as straight as an Indian, with just a smile of red blood mantling to his forehead. He dresses remarkably well, and has altogether a jaunty air that would fix your attention at sight. He retains his cognomen with the Indians as well as with the whites who lived in the Indian country before the war. The Gopher is with us as interpreter. Well, as I have said, he brought me early yesterday morning a mess of fish -- the yellow perch -- in return for a hook and line which I had given him the day before. Seeing that my breakfast was being prepared, he said, 'Let me cook them for you, Captain;' and without waiting for a reply, he drew the coals from the front of the fire and spread upon the space thus cleared some hot ashes, then laid the fish upon the ashes just as they came from the water; and having covered them also with ashes, he covered them up with a coating of live coals. In about five minutes he removed the covering of coals, lifted the fish with a knife and fork, remove the skin with the scales, &c., &c., all at once in the neatest manner you can imagine; and then placed the fish, looking as white as this paper and smoking-hot, upon a dish: half a dozen perch that really would have done honor to your cuisine at home."
McCall 399-400. ©
Part 3, Exile: l