The First Expedition
The first expedition taken by John followed encouragement by his future brother in law, William Fairholme, who had explored in the Missouri area himself. The starting point for his trip in 1847 was New Orleans from where he travelled to “Independence” which was on the site of the future Kansas City.
He later suggested that the purpose of his adventure was to set down the “experience I have acquired in outfitting for distant hunting expeditions, in the hope that it may prove of use to such of you as may contemplate similar excursions…”(7) However, the love of the Victorian Adventurer for sport and hunting was nearer to the mark as stated on the very first page of his book as he set off “with all the eagerness of a college student, who casts aside his dull books and duller tutors for a burst after the partridges…” (8)
There is no doubt that this trip was not a pleasure trip but that Palliser did live off the land as evidenced in his requirements list for such trips:
“Beyond your guns and horses, with their several appurtenances, you will absolutely require nothing on the prairie but your knife, flint and steel, and pipe, an iron ladle for melting lead, a tin mug, and tow iron kettles – one for cooking, the other for boiling coffee – with iron covers for them, which will respectively do for frying meat, and for roasting your coffee.” (9)
Palliser tells us that the best guns in the world are produced by “Trulock & Son, of Dawson Street, Dublin.” His encounter with General Tom Thumb on his way to America is drolly explained, “he was the smallest specimen of human nature it has ever been my lot to behold, but a remarkable exception to the generality of dwarfs, being not only intelligent, but active and well proportioned.” (10)
Palliser purchased a dog as a companion on the prairie. This dog was known as “Ishmah” an Indian word descriptive of thick fur. He “was a very fine specimen of a mongrel, between a white buffalo wolf and a common Indian bitch. This fellow was quite white, like his sire, and furnished both with the hair of the dog and a fine undergrowth of fur, which he had in common with the wolf.” (11) This dog he brought back to Waterford and it was according to Julian Walton painted by Louisa Marchioness of Waterford. On completing the expedition Palliser returned to New Orleans in July 1848 and then travelled to Panama before sailing to London.
His adventures were later set down in “Solitary Rambles and Adventures of a hunter in the Prairies” which was produced in 1853 by John Murray the publisher of the work of Dervla Murphy renowned Waterford travel writer. So popular did it prove that a new edition was issued in 1856.
(7) Palliser, John. Solitary Rambles, and adventures in the Prairies…with illustrations. U.K.: John Murray, 1853. xiv, 326p pg. vi
(8) Do pg. 1
(9) Do pg. x
(10) Do pg. 3
(11) Do pg. 148