A Runaway Marriage
FRÉMONT'S survey of the Des Moines River was by no means unimportant. Nicollet and he during their northern expedition had covered part of its headwaters; and now Secretary Poinsett declared that its course should be carefully plotted to its mouth in order to make their map of the Mississippi-Missouri system more nearly complete. Ordinarily Nicollet would not have been reluctant, but he was in bad health, and needed Frémont's daily help. Another assistant had to be found, and in his report he indicates how indispensable was the aid of both:1
The elements of the celestial bodies observed, as they were needed for the calculation, were taken from the Nautical Almanac: and the calculation of this considerable mass of astronomical observations has been executed by Lieut. Frémont and myself, aided for three months by Lieut. E. P. Scammon, corps of topographical engineers, whose zeal and intelligence on this occasion, as well as the talent with which he had assisted Lieut. Frémont in the construction of the map, insures my gratitude.
The map dragged badly after Frémont left. The young man, however, enjoyed at twenty-eight an opportunity to shoulder an independent responsibility of importance.
Since settlement was pressing rapidly into the Des Moines region, an accurate topographical survey and map would be of material value. Already Iowa Territory, which included that part of Minnesota lying west of the Mississippi, had about 45,000 people. For the most part they clung rather closely to the Mississippi. The Des Moines, flowing into the larger stream____________________