Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century
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LAWSON, John, historian, born in Scotland; died on the river Meuse, North Carolina, in 1712. He came to this country as surveyor-general of North Carolina, and began his surveys in 1700, but fell a victim to the jealousy of the Tuscarora Indians, who confounded the surveyor of their territory with those that despoiled them of it. He was captured while he was exploring North Carolina in 1712, in company with a Swiss named Graffenried (q. v.). The latter was permitted to buy himself free, but Lawson was put to death, probably in the manner he thus describes in his book: "Their cruelties to their prisoners are such as none but devils out of hell could invent. Others keep their enemy's teeth which are taken in war, while others split pine into splinters and stick them into the prisoner's body, yet alive, then they light them, which burn like so many torches, and in this manner they make him dance around a great fire, every one buffeting and deriding him till he expires." Lawson left one of the most valuable of the early histories of the Carolinas, entitled "A New Voyage to Carolina, containing the Exact Description and Natural History of that Country, together with the Present State thereof; and a Journal of a Thousand Miles travelled through Several Nations of Indians, giving a Particular Account of their Customs, Manners, etc." (London, 1700; new eds. in 1709, 1711, 1714, and 1718). The volume is a quarto of 258 pages, well illustrated with one of the best maps of the time, and with various other engravings, chiefly in natural history. The original edition is now very rare; it was reprinted at Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1860.
The John Lawson biography should say he was killed on the Neuse River (actually, a tributary of the Neuse) and came to the colonies in 1701, first to Charleston, S.C., then made a 1701-1702 exploratory trip of Carolina from Charleston, up the Santee River, overland into North Carolina and ending near what is now Washington, N.C. He later became Surveyor-General of North Carolina.
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