August 12, 2013

At the most recent count, Chief Buffalo is mentioned in over two-thirds of the posts here on Chequamegon History.  That’s the most of anyone listed so far in the People Index.  While there are more Buffalo posts on the way, I also want to draw attention to some of the lesser known leaders of the La Pointe Band.  So, look for upcoming posts about Dagwagaane (Tagwagane), Mizay, Blackbird, Waabojiig, Andeg-wiiyas, and others.  I want to start, however, with Oshogay, the young speaker who traveled to Washington with Buffalo in 1852 only to die the next year before the treaty he was seeking could be negotiated.

Two hundred years before Oshogay went to Washington D. C., the Jesuits of New France recorded the Outchougai (Atchougue) as a distinct nation among the many Anishinaabe peoples of the Western Great Lakes along with the Amikouet (Beavers), Nikikouet (Otters), Noquet (Bears), Monsoni (Moose), Marameg (Catfish), and several others.  By the 19th century, these nations were seen no longer seen as distinct nations but as clans of the Otchipoek (Cranes).  According to Schoolcraft and others, the Outchougai (Oshogays) were the Osprey or Fish Hawk clan.  However, others identified them with the Heron (zhashagi  in Ojibwe; Osprey is piichigiigwane).  I am far from being an expert on the Ojibwe clan system, but it seems by the 1800s, the Oshogay clan was either gone from the Anishinaabe of the Lake Superior country or had been absorbed into the Cranes. However, the word Oshogay continued to be a personal name. 

I debated whether to do this post, since I don’t know a lot about Oshogay.  I don’t know for sure what his name means, so I don’t know how to spell or pronounce it correctly (in the sources you see Oshogay, O-sho-ga, Osh-a-ga, Oshaga, Ozhoge, etc.).  In fact, I don’t even know how many people he is.  There were at least four men with that name among the Lake Superior Ojibwe between 1800 and 1860, so much like with the Great Chief Buffalo Picture Search, the key to getting Oshogay’s history right is dependent on separating his story from those who share his name.

In the end, I felt that challenge was worth a post in its own right, so here it is.

Getting Started

According to his gravestone, Oshogay was 51 when he died at La Pointe in 1853.  That would put his birth around 1802.  However, the Ojibwe did not track their birthdays in those days, so that should not be considered absolutely precise.  He was considered a young man of the La Pointe Band at the time of his death.  In my mind, the easiest way to sort out the information is going to be to lay it out chronologically.  Here it goes:

1)  Henry Schoolcraft, United States Indian Agent at Sault Ste. Marie, recorded the following on July 19, 1828:

Oshogay (the Osprey), solicited provisions to return home. This young man had been sent down to deliver a speech from his father, Kabamappa, of the river St. Croix, in which he regretted his inability to come in person. The father had first attracted my notice at the treaty of Prairie du Chien, and afterwards received a small medal, by my recommendation, from the Commissioners at Fond du Lac. He appeared to consider himself under obligations to renew the assurance of his friendship, and this, with the hope of receiving some presents, appeared to constitute the object of his son’s mission, who conducted himself with more modesty and timidity before me than prudence afterwards; for, by extending his visit to Drummond Island, where both he and his father were unknown, he got nothing, and forfeited the right to claim anything for himself on his return here.

I sent, however, in his charge, a present of goods of small amount, to be delivered to his father, who has not countenanced his foreign visit.

Oshogay is a “young man.”  A birth year of 1802 would make him 26.  He is part of Gaa-bimabi’s (Kabamappa’s) village in the upper St. Croix country.

2) In June of 1834, Edmund Ely and W. T. Boutwell, two missionaries, traveled from Fond du Lac (today’s Fond du Lac Reservation near Cloquet) down the St. Croix to Yellow Lake (near today’s Webster, WI) to meet with other missionaries. As they left Gaa-bimabi’s (Kabamappa’s) village near the head of the St. Croix and reached the Namekagon River on June 28th, they were looking for someone to guide them the rest of the way.  An old Ojibwe man, who Boutwell had met before at La Pointe, and his son offered to help. The man fed the missionaries fish and hunted for them while they camped a full day at the mouth of the Namekagon since the 29th was a Sunday and they refused to travel on the Sabbath.  On Monday the 30th, the reembarked, and Ely recorded in his journal:

The man, whose name is “Ozhoge,” and his son embarked with us about 1/2 past 9 °clk a.m. The old man in the bow and myself steering.  We run the rapids safely.  At half past one P. M. arrived at the mouth of Yellow River…  

Ozhoge is an “old man” in 1834, so he couldn’t have been born in 1802.  He is staying on the Namekagon River in the upper St. Croix country between Gaa-bimabi and the Yellow Lake Band.  He had recently spent time at La Pointe.

3)  Ely’s stay on the St. Croix that summer was brief.  He was stationed at Fond du Lac until he eventually wore out his welcome there. In the 1840s, he would be stationed at Pokegama, lower on the St. Croix.  During these years, he makes multiple references to a man named Ozhogens (a diminutive of Ozhoge).  Ozhogens is always found above Yellow River on the upper St. Croix.

Ozhogens has a name that may imply someone older (possibly a father or other relative) lives nearby with the name Ozhoge.  He seems to live in the upper St. Croix country.  A birth year of 1802 would put him in his forties, which is plausible.


Ke-che-wask keenk (Gichi-weshki) is Chief Buffalo.  Gab-im-ub-be (Gaa-bimabi) was the chief Schoolcraft identified as the father of Oshogay.  Ja-che-go-onk was a son of Chief Buffalo.

4) On August 2, 1847, the United States and the Mississippi and Lake Superior Ojibwe concluded a treaty at Fond du Lac.  The US Government wanted Ojibwe land along the nation’s border with the Dakota Sioux, so it could remove the Ho-Chunk people from Wisconsin to Minnesota.

Among the signatures, we find O-sho-gaz, a warrior from St. Croix.  This would seem to be the Ozhogens we meet in Ely.

Here O-sho-gaz is clearly identified as being from St. Croix.  His identification as a warrior would probably indicate that he is a relatively young man.  The fact that his signature is squeezed in the middle of the names of members of the La Pointe Band may or may not be significant.  The signatures on the 1847 Treaty are not officially grouped by band, but they tend to cluster as such. 

5)  In 1848 and 1849 George P. Warren operated the fur post at Chippewa Falls and kept a log that has been transcribed and digitized by the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire.  He makes several transactions with a man named Oshogay, and at one point seems to have him employed in his business.  His age isn’t indicated, but the amount of furs he brings in suggests that he is the head of a small band or large family.  There were multiple Ojibwe villages on the Chippewa River at that time, including at Rice Lake and Lake Shatac (Chetek).  The United States Government treated with them as satellite villages of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band.

Based on where he lives, this Oshogay might not be the same person as the one described above.

6)  In December 1850, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled in the case Oshoga vs. The State of Wisconsin, that there were a number of irregularities in the trial that convicted “Oshoga, an Indian of the Chippewa Nation” of murder.  The court reversed the decision of the St. Croix County circuit court.  I’ve found surprisingly little about this case, though that part of Wisconsin was growing very violent in the 1840s as white lumbermen and liquor salesmen were flooding the country.

Pg 56 of Containing cases decided from the December term, 1850, until the organization of the separate Supreme Court in 1853: Volume 3 of Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Court of the State of Wisconsin: With Tables of the Cases and Principal Matters, and the Rules of the Several Courts in Force Since 1838, Wisconsin. Supreme Court Authors: Wisconsin. Supreme Court, Silas Uriah Pinney (Google Books).

The man killed, Alexander Livingston, was a liquor dealer himself.

Alexander Livingston, a man who in youth had had excellent advantages, became himself a dealer in whisky, at the mouth of Wolf creek, in a drunken melee in his own store was shot and killed by Robido, a half-breed. Robido was arrested but managed to escape justice.

~From Fifty Years in the Northwest by W.H.C Folsom

Several pages later, Folsom writes:

At the mouth of Wolf creek, in the extreme northwestern section of this town, J. R. Brown had a trading house in the ’30s, and Louis Roberts in the ’40s. At this place Alex. Livingston, another trader, was killed by Indians in 1849. Livingston had built him a comfortable home, which he made a stopping place for the weary traveler, whom he fed on wild rice, maple sugar, venison, bear meat, muskrats, wild fowl and flour bread, all decently prepared by his Indian wife. Mr. Livingston was killed by an Indian in 1849.

Folsom makes no mention of Oshoga, and I haven’t found anything else on what happened to him or Robido (Robideaux?).

It’s hard to say if this Oshoga is the Ozhogen’s of Ely’s journals or the Oshogay of Warren’s.  Wolf Creek is on the St. Croix, but it’s not far from the Chippewa River country either, and the Oshogay of Warren seems to have covered a lot of ground in the fur trade.  Warren’s journal, linked in #4, contains a similar story of a killing and “frontier justice” leading to lynch mobs against the Ojibwe.  To escape the violence and overcrowding, many Ojibwe from that part of the country started to relocate to Fond du Lac, Lac Courte Oreilles, or La Pointe/Bad River.  La Pointe is also where we find the next mention of Oshogay. 

7)  From 1851 to 1853, a new voice emerged loudly from the La Pointe Band in the aftermath of the Sandy Lake Tragedy.  It was that of Buffalo’s speaker Oshogay (or O-sho-ga), and he spoke out strongly against Indian Agent John Watrous’ handling of the Sandy Lake payments (see this post) and against Watrous’ continued demands for removal of the Lake Superior Ojibwe.  There are a number of documents with Oshogay’s name on them, and I won’t mention all of them, but I recommend Theresa Schenck’s William W. Warren and Howard Paap’s Red Cliff, Wisconsin as two places to get started. 

Chief Buffalo was known as a great speaker, but he was nearing the end of his life, and it was the younger chief who was speaking on behalf of the band more and more.  Oshogay represented Buffalo in St. Paul, co-wrote a number of letters with him, and most famously, did most of the talking when the two chiefs went to Washington D.C. in the spring of 1852 (at least according to Benjamin Armstrong’s memoir).  A number of secondary sources suggest that Oshogay was Buffalo’s son or son-in-law, but I’ve yet to see these claims backed up with an original document.  However, all the documents that identify by band, say this Oshogay was from La Pointe.

The Wisconsin Historical Society has digitized four petitions drafted in the fall of 1851 and winter of 1852.  The petitions are from several chiefs, mostly of the La Pointe and Lac Courte Oreilles/Chippewa River bands, calling for the removal of John Watrous as Indian Agent.  The content of the petitions deserves its own post, so for now we’ll only look at the signatures.


November 6, 1851 Letter from 30 chiefs and headmen to Luke Lea, Commissioner of Indian Affairs:  Multiple villages are represented here, roughly grouped by band.  Kijiueshki (Buffalo), Jejigwaig (Buffalo’s son), Kishhitauag (“Cut Ear” also associated with the Ontonagon Band), Misai (“Lawyerfish”),  Oshkinaue (“Youth”), Aitauigizhik (“Each Side of the Sky”), Medueguon, and Makudeuakuat (“Black Cloud”) are all known members of the La Pointe Band.  Before the 1850s, Kabemabe (Gaa-bimabi) and Ozhoge were associated with the villages of the Upper St. Croix.


November 8, 1851, Letter from the Chiefs and Headmen of Chippeway River, Lac Coutereille, Puk-wa-none, Long Lake, and Lac Shatac to Alexander Ramsey, Superintendent of Indian Affairs:  This letter was written from Sandy Lake two days after the one above it was written from La Pointe.  O-sho-gay the warrior from Lac Shatac (Lake Chetek) can’t be the same person as Ozhoge the chief unless he had some kind of airplane or helicopter back in 1851.


Undated (Jan. 1852?) petition to “Our Great Father”:  This Oshoga is clearly the one from Lake Chetek (Chippewa River). 


Undated (Jan. 1852?) petition:  These men are all associated with the La Pointe Band.  Osho-gay is their Speaker.

In the early 1850s, we clearly have two different men named Oshogay involved in the politics of the Lake Superior Ojibwe.  One is a young warrior from the Chippewa River country, and the other is a rising leader among the La Pointe Band.

Washington Delegation July 22, 1852 This engraving of the 1852 delegation led by Buffalo and Oshogay appeared in Benjamin Armstrong’s Early Life Among the Indians.  Look for an upcoming post dedicated to this image.

8)  In the winter of 1853-1854, a smallpox epidemic ripped through La Pointe and claimed the lives of a number of its residents including that of Oshogay.  It had appeared that Buffalo was grooming him to take over leadership of the La Pointe Band, but his tragic death left a leadership vacuum after the establishment of reservations and the death of Buffalo in 1855.

Oshogay’s death is marked in a number of sources including the gravestone at the top of this post.  The following account comes from Richard E. Morse, an observer of the 1855 annuity payments at La Pointe:

The Chippewas, during the past few years, have suffered extensively, and many of them died, with the small pox.  Chief O-SHO-GA died of this disease in 1854.  The Agent caused a suitable tomb-stone to be erected at his grave, in La Pointe.  He was a young chief, of rare promise and merit; he also stood high in the affections of his people.   

Later, Morse records a speech by Ja-be-ge-zhick or “Hole in the Sky,” a young Ojibwe man from the Bad River Mission who had converted to Christianity and dressed in “American style.” Jabegezhick speaks out strongly to the American officials against the assembled chiefs:

…I am glad you have seen us, and have seen the folly of our chiefs; it may give you a general idea of their transactions.  By the papers you have made out for the chiefs to sign, you can judge of their ability to do business for us.  We had but one man among us, capable of doing business for the Chippewa nation; that man was O-SHO-GA, now dead and our nation now mourns.  (O-SHO-GA was a young chief of great merit and much promise; he died of small-pox, February 1854).  Since his death, we have lost all our faith in the balance of our chiefs…

This O-sho-ga is the young chief, associated with the La Pointe Band, who went to Washington with Buffalo in 1852.

9)  In 1878, “Old Oshaga” received three dollars for a lynx bounty in Chippewa County.

It seems quite possible that Old Oshaga is the young man that worked with George Warren in the 1840s and the warrior from Lake Chetek who signed the petitions against Agent Watrous in the 1850s.

10) In 1880, a delegation of Bad River, Lac Courte Oreilles, and Lac du Flambeau chiefs visited Washington D.C.  I will get into their purpose in a future post, but for now, I will mention that the chiefs were older men who would have been around in the 1840s and ’50s. One of them is named Oshogay.  The challenge is figuring out which one.

Ojibwe Delegation c. 1880 by Charles M. Bell.   [Identifying information from the Smithsonian] Studio portrait of Anishinaabe Delegation posed in front of a backdrop. Sitting, left to right: Edawigijig; Kis-ki-ta-wag; Wadwaiasoug (on floor); Akewainzee (center); Oshawashkogijig; Nijogijig; Oshoga. Back row (order unknown); Wasigwanabi; Ogimagijig; and four unidentified men (possibly Frank Briggs, top center, and Benjamin Green Armstrong, top right). The men wear European-style suit jackets and pants; one man wears a peace medal, some wear beaded sashes or bags or hold pipes and other props.(Smithsonian Institution National Museum of the American Indian).

This same image is on display at the Bayfield Public Library.  The men in the picture are identified, presumably by someone in the early 20th century with some firsthand knowledge, but the identification doesn’t correspond to the names identified by the Smithsonian.  Osho’gay is the only name common to the Smithsonian’s information (in bold for reference) and the library’s information as follows:

Upper row reading from the left.
1.  Vincent Conyer- Interpreter 1,2,4,5 ?, includes Wasigwanabi and Ogimagijig
2.  Vincent Roy Jr.
3.  Dr. I. L. Mahan, Indian Agent   Frank Briggs
4.  No Name Given
5.  Geo P. Warren (Born at LaPointe- civil war vet.
6.  Thad Thayer      Benjamin Armstrong
Lower row
1.  Messenger    Edawigijig
2.  Na-ga-nab (head chief of all Chippewas)   Kis-ki-ta-wag
3.  Moses White, father of Jim White          Waswaisoug
4.  No Name Given         Akewainzee
5.  Osho’gay- head speaker     Oshawashkogijig or Oshoga
6.  Bay’-qua-as’ (head chief of La Corrd Oreilles, 7 ft. tall) Nijogijig or Oshawashkogijig
7.  No name given  Oshoga or Nijogijig

The Smithsonian lists Oshoga last, so that would mean he is the man sitting in the chair at the far right.  However, it doesn’t specify who the man seated on the right on the floor is, so it’s also possible that he’s their Oshoga.  If the latter is true, that’s also who the unknown writer of the library caption identified as Osho’gay.  Whoever he is in the picture, it seems very possible that this is the same man as “Old Oshaga” from number 9.

11) There is one more document I’d like to include, although it doesn’t mention any of the people we’ve discussed so far, it may be of interest to someone reading this post.  It mentions a man named Oshogay who was born before 1860 (albeit not long before).

For decades after 1854, many of the Lake Superior Ojibwe continued to live off of the reservations created in the Treaty of La Pointe.  This was especially true in the St. Croix region where no reservation was created at all.  In the 1910s, the Government set out to document where various Ojibwe families were living and what tribal rights they had.  This process led to the creation of the St. Croix and Mole Lake reservations.  In 1915, we find 64-year-old Oshogay and his family living in Randall, Wisconsin which may suggest a connection to the St. Croix Oshogays.  As with number 6 above, this creates some ambiguity because he is listed as enrolled at Lac Courte Oreilles, which implies a connection to the Chippewa River Oshogay.  For now, I leave this investigation up to someone else, but I’ll leave it here for interest.

This is not any of the Oshogays discussed so far, but it could be a relative of any or all of them.

In the final analysis

These eleven documents mention at least four men named Oshogay living in northern Wisconsin between 1800 and 1860.  Edmund Ely met an old man named Oshogay in 1834.  He is one.  A 64-year old man, a child in the 1850s, was listed on the roster of “St. Croix Indians.”  He is another.  I believe the warrior from Lake Chetek who traded with George Warren in the 1840s could be one of the chiefs who went to Washington in 1880.  He may also be the one who was falsely accused of killing Alexander Livingston.  Of these three men, none are the Oshogay who went to Washington with Buffalo in 1852.

Credit where credit is due, Theresa Schenck is the person who first told me about the strong St. Croix-La Pointe connection and the movement of many St. Croix families to Bad River in the 1850s. In his 2012 dissertation, The Murder of Joe White: Ojibwe Leadership and Colonialism in Wisconsin, Erik M. Redix identifies the “La Pointe” Oshoge as being a “St. Croix chief.”

That leaves us with the last mystery.  Is Ozhogens, the young son of the St. Croix chief Gaa-bimabi, the orator from La Pointe who played such a prominent role in the politics of the early 1850s?  I don’t have a smoking gun, but I feel the circumstantial evidence strongly suggests he is.  If that’s the case, it explains why those who’ve looked for his early history in the La Pointe Band have come up empty. 

However, important questions remain unanswered.  What was his connection to Buffalo? If he was from St. Croix, how was he able to gain such a prominent role in the La Pointe Band, and why did he relocate to La Pointe anyway?  I have my suspicions for each of these questions, but no solid evidence.  If you do, please let me know, and we’ll continue to shed light on this underappreciated Ojibwe leader.




Armstrong, Benj G., and Thomas P. Wentworth. Early Life among the Indians: Reminiscences from the Life of Benj. G. Armstrong : Treaties of 1835, 1837, 1842 and 1854 : Habits and Customs of the Red Men of the Forest : Incidents, Biographical Sketches, Battles, &c. Ashland, WI: Press of A.W. Bowron, 1892. Print.
Ely, Edmund Franklin, and Theresa M. Schenck. The Ojibwe Journals of Edmund F. Ely, 1833-1849. Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 2012. Print.
Folsom, William H. C., and E. E. Edwards. Fifty Years in the Northwest. St. Paul: Pioneer, 1888. Print.
KAPPLER’S INDIAN AFFAIRS: LAWS AND TREATIES. Ed. Charles J. Kappler. Oklahoma State University Library, n.d. Web. 12 August 2013. <http:// digital.library.okstate.edu/Kappler/>.
Nichols, John, and Earl Nyholm. A Concise Dictionary of Minnesota Ojibwe. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1995. Print.
Paap, Howard D. Red Cliff, Wisconsin: A History of an Ojibwe Community. St. Cloud, MN: North Star, 2013. Print.
Redix, Erik M. “The Murder of Joe White: Ojibwe Leadership and Colonialism in Wisconsin.” Diss. University of Minnesota, 2012. Print.
Schenck, Theresa M. The Voice of the Crane Echoes Afar: The Sociopolitical Organization of the Lake Superior Ojibwa, 1640-1855. New York: Garland Pub., 1997. Print.
———–William W. Warren: The Life, Letters, and times of an Ojibwe Leader. Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 2007. Print.
Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe. Personal Memoirs of a Residence of Thirty Years with the Indian Tribes on the American Frontiers: With Brief Notices of Passing Events, Facts, and Opinions, A.D. 1812 to A.D. 1842. Philadelphia, [Pa.: Lippincott, Grambo and, 1851. Print.
Warren, William W., and Theresa M. Schenck. History of the Ojibway People. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 2009. Print.


30 Responses to “Oshogay”

  1. Brian Finstad said

    You had asked if Oshogay were from the St. Croix, how would he have come to have such a prominent role in the La Pointe Band. I can’t say I know for certain, but the headwaters area of the St. Croix (above the Gordon Dam) may have had closer connections with LaPointe than other parts of the St. Croix, considering the tough, rocky, shallow stretches of the St. Croix below Kabamappa’s village. There also was a travel and communication link between Kabamappa’s village and LaPointe. It was a trail that was the land route alternative to the Brule-St. Croix portage known as the St. Croix Trail that later became cleared and expanded upon into a government road and stage coach line.

    If you look at Nicollet’s initial sketched version of his map prior to the one that is published, the trail goes from Kabamappa’s village and then again makes contact with the St. Croix River at present Gordon before embarking across the sand barrens to LaPointe. At that point, Nicollet labels it “Kabamappa’s place ou l’ea debarque.” In other words a landing and point of embarkment to LaPointe and clearly by how it is labeled, it is used by Kabamappa’s village. The sand barrens, being dry and open, would have been easy to travel upon and is said to have been 2 days shorter than the route by water.

    A voyageur at LaPointe provided Schoolcraft with a hand sketched map of the region and this trail is a major feature, labeled “Map of the Grand Footpath.” A footnote in “The Ojibwe Journals of Edmund F. Ely” notes (p.106) “They were taking the Indian Trail from Chequamegon Bay to the St. Croix River. It comes out near the Eau Claire River.” That is present day Gordon and the location identified as Kabamappa’s “place ou l’ea debarque” (Nicollet had the location of the Eau Claire wrong in his field notes but corrected it for the published version).

    Although much is made about the Brule-St. Croix portage, it was much more difficult and longer. Those more likely to journal would also have been those “exploring” and less knowledgeable to the area, which is probably why we know more of the portage and less of “the grand footpath.” They took the portage in order to stay on known and dependable routes rather than risk getting lost on an 80 mile embarkment overland. It is more likely however that those familiar with the area more frequently took “the grand footpath” or “indian trail” being that it was easier and shorter. Or at least during journeys that did not involved transportation of cargo.

    So Gordon and essentially Kabamappa’s village were the point of contact between LaPointe and the St. Croix River. The placid waters of the “headwaters” area of the St. Croix were physically disconnected from the lower river by shallow rocky stretches which were difficult and at times nearly impossible to navigate. Kabamappa himself was said to have died at LaPointe and Antoine and Sarah Gordon who came after him and operated the trading post that later became modern Gordon were from LaPointe. Gordon and LaPointe have always had strong connections. The headwaters area of the St. Croix (above the Gordon dam) likely were a border area that had close ties both with both LaPointe as well as areas further down the St. Croix, if not tipped more heavily in favor of LaPointe.

  2. Brian Finstad said

    Also, as Gordon is set in a valley, where the St. Croix Trail, “the grand footpath,” entered and left the valley, the trail still to this day is deeply cut into the hillside and visible, although completely overgrown with vegetation. It is not documented in any way that I am aware of and only known to the few locals that know about it.

    • Paap, H. said

      Your detailed comments tell again that in the early days the people of the Chequamegon region not only knew each other well, but stayed in touch through regular travel. The large detailed map recently made by the folks at GLIFWC of the many waterways and lakes of the large region to Lake Superior’s south shore with their names in Ojibwemowin testifies to how well the Ojibwe knew, used, and traveled this region. And if they did this here it strongly suggests they used their other regions in the same way. And going further, it is becoming clear, and perhaps documented at least for the 1800’s, that they knew all of the lands around the big lake this way. All of this tells again that the Moccasin Telegraph was real.

    • philliutas said

      I’m inclined to agree with everything you guys said. It’s easy to see why La Pointe was perceived as the central hub of all news and information. I’m still struck by extent of the St. Croix-La Pointe connection in particular.

      I’m working on a post trying to sort out the different chiefs and bands that made up the La Pointe Band in the 18th and 19th centuries. One of the families I’m trying to figure out is that of Gaa-bimaabi (Kabamappa).

      Brian, what date do you have for Kabamappa’s death? I saw a reference in a Lyman to William Warren letter to the death of an individual by that name in the early 1840s, but the chief from Gordon signed the 1847 Treaty and appears to have signed the anti-Watrous petition from La Pointe in 1851 shown above.

      I want to know how Kappamappa and Ozhaage relate to Noodin. Houghton in 1831 said Noodin was the son of Kabamappa. Warren, with greater detail, says that Noodin’s dad was Shosheman but then describes a chief who was friendly with traders and sought peace with the Dakota (much how Kabamappa has been described). As with Ozhaage, Noodin seems to have relocated to La Pointe in the late ’40s and died soon after.

      • Brian Finstad said

        In recent years, there were two books written about local history. “Mr. Gordon’s Neighborhood” which is about the history of Gordon and “Barnes: A Breath of Fresh Air” which is about the history of Barnes. I can’t remember in which book it is, but one of those two books states that Kabamappa died in 1854 and if my memory serves me correctly, it states he died at LaPointe. I am curious now to know what the source was for that information.

        I have always wondered what happened to Kabamappa’s village, but it doesn’t surprise me that it disappeared after the year 1854. Not only is that reportedly the year Kabamappa passed away, but also the year the first dam was constructed at Namekowagon (present site of the Gordon Dam) that could have flooded the village. It was also the year removal to reservations began and also the year of a devastating small pox outbreak on the upper St. Croix. 1854 seemed to be a year of a lot of dynamic change on the upper St. Croix. Here is a very detailed account of that small pox outbreak:


      • Brian Finstad said

        What is also interesting about the account of the small pox vaccinations is that it doesn’t make any mention of Kabamappa’s village and most journals of anyone who traveled through that area mentions Kabamappa’s village. And specifically this writer was searching out indian populations to vaccinate. When he says that they took the canoe high up the St. Croix until they reached the stage line, the place where the stage line made contact with the St. Croix was at what is now present day Gordon. So they did travel far enough that they should have passed the village. I think this is a good indication that the village was abandoned by this point.

      • Brian Finstad said

        I also have ran across a discussion (linked below) in some Google searching that seems to indicate Kabamappa’s band was still in that vicinity in 1852. I am not familiar with the canoe voyage that is mentioned and the writer states that he had to translate it, so it apparently was not written in English. Is this anything you are familiar with?


      • Brian Finstad said

        There is a portrait of Kabamappa in the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University. A photo of it is on page 29 of the book “Mr. Gordon’s Neighborhood” which can be purchased at the museum in Gordon.

      • Brian Finstad said

        I found the reference to Kabamappa’s death in the book “Mr. Gordon’s Neighborhood” Page 25, written by Whitefish Lake summer resident Ron Sennigen. It references his source as “Metis Culture, 1776-1778” which states that “Joseph Kabimabi (Gambimabi) (To the interior by canoe) was born in 1777 likely at LaPointe, and that he was a respected peace chief of the St. Croix Ojibwe Bands. He died March 13, 1854 in LaPointe.”

        However, in the next paragraph Sennigen states: “Records from the Catholic baptismal index of the St. Joseph Mission at La Pointe indicate that Kabemabe was born at Lac du Flambeau in 1777 and show he was baptized at LaPointe in 1847. In that same year Antoine Gordon was helping rebuild the LaPointe mission church . . . ”

        On page 31 of Mr. Gordon’s Neighborhood, it states “Although the sign at the wayside overlook refers to him as the signer of the 1837 Treaty (aka the “White Pine Treaty”), he also was the signer of at least six treaties, the other five including the 1825 Treaty at Prairie-du-Chien, (which was intended to end the Chippewa-Sioux wars), the 1826 Treaty of Fond du Lac, the 1842 Treaty at LaPointe (aka the “Copper Treaty”), the 1844 Isle Roayale Agreement, and the 1847 Treaty of Fond du Lac.”

        What also might be helpful for your future research is that Mr. Sennigen lists out the variations of spellings he ran across in various “treaty documents and writings of explorers.” Those names included “Kappamappa, Keppameppa, Kabimabi, Kabomob, Kabimobi, Kaubemappa, Kabinabe, Gabimabi, Gaabimabi, Gambimabi, Gaabimaabi, Gahbemahbe, Gabimubbe, Gaa-bimaabi, Cor-ba-map-pa, and Ca-ba-ma-bee. He was always identified as representing the St. Croix band of Chippewa and was referred to as “He that sits to the side,” “Wet Mouth” and/or “We Month.'”

      • Brian Finstad said

        Sorry to keep hogging this comment thread – I just find this era to be fascinating. I had to comment on Papp H’s use of the term “Moccasin Telegraph” because a little known piece of regional trivia is that Gordon’s mainstreet is named “Moccasin Avenue” in reference to being a segment of “the Grand Footpath” to LaPointe. Gordon’s entire existence more or less is tied to La Pointe and Bayfield. The Gaudin’s (later Americanized to “Gordon”) were from LaPointe and sent out to what is now Gordon by Henry Rice as when he developed Bayfield Henry Rice had the contract for carrying mail from St. Paul to Bayfield on the newly developed stage line. The segment from Gordon to Bayfield followed the course of the ancient “indian trail” used by so many.
        Antoine Gordon ran a trading post and a “stopping place” for this stage route and various members of the Gordon family were involved in the carrying of mail to La Pointe. Henry Rice originally purchased the land, later selling to Antoine.

        Unlike other nearby towns that developed because of “settlers” due to logging or railroads, Gordon was an Ojibwe and Metis settlment, basically an interior “outpost” of the Chequamegon Bay communities. Antoine settled in Gordon (which was at first an indian village known as Amik) in 1860 and it was not until 1888 that the first permanent “white” settlers arrived. That’s a whole 28 years where there a community completely comprised of Ojibwe and the Metis before the influence of traditional “American” settlement. Superior historian John Bardon noted that outside of Superior, the only area with a significant population of settlement was at Gordon. Antoine and Sarah Gordon’s connections ran deep in the Ojibwe and Metis worlds. Sarah (Dingley) Gordon was the daughter of Trader Joseph Dingley of the Northwest Co’s post at Yellow Lake (today’s Forts Folle Avoine) and her mother a Metis woman, Isabella LaPrairie. Antoine’s mother was the sister of Chief Hole-in-the Day, the elder. Antoine also had been an interpreter and choir master for Father Baraga at La Pointe.

        Although far inland, it is difficult to understand Gordon without putting it into its context with Chequamegon Bay. Its existence is literally because of it. The purpose of the site of Gordon in the time of Kabamappa was the point of contact between Chequamegon Bay and the St. Croix – where “the grand footpath” from Chequamegon Bay made connection with the St. Croix River. In the time of Antoine Gordon, its purpose became a “relay point” for Chequamegon Bay’s communication and contact with the St. Croix Valley, St. Paul, and Fort Snelling via the stage line.

        Antoine’s original one room house, a rough log hewn structure, still exists as the kitchen of a house that is still on “Moccasin Avenue” to this day. That room would be the oldest structure in “the interior” between Chequamegon Bay and Taylor’s Falls. Across the street is St. Anthony’s Catholic Church, the center portion of which is also the old log hewn structure built by Antoine Gordon as a mission for the Indians and was visited by Jesuit missionaries who traveled to Gordon by foot from La Pointe. Another hand hewn log house from the mid 1800’s also exists along the Eau Claire River. The museum building in Gordon was originally the storehouse for the storing of goods for the trading post. It was converted into a residence by Antoine Gordon’s granddaughter in 1907. Gordon’s cemetery was known for its spirit houses and the center of town had an area known as “the green” that was for the purpose of seasonal camping, playing LaCross, and outdoor ceremonies.

        This is getting a little detailed and off the topic of Oshagay, but the point I’m making is that though far removed from Chequamegon Bay, the connections of this place run deep with the history of the Chequamegon Bay area. Even though 80 miles into the interior, Gordon’s history is more closely tied to LaPointe and Chequamegon Bay than nearby towns only 10 miles away.

  3. Brian Finstad said

    I just realized the date of Kabamappa’s death is only 12 days prior to the account of the small pox epidemic of the upper St. Croix.

    One last note, the website “Metis Culture 1776-1778” also notes that in March 2, 1847 at LaPointe, he married Maria Piness (born 1787, likely at LaPointe).

    • philliutas said

      Thank you very much for all of this. It’s fascinating. I can’t say I’ve spent much time in Gordon. I used to play ball there before they built the nice diamonds in Minong.

      This would explain why in the Ely journals Brule R. and Flagg R. seem to be more associated with the Fond du Lac village while Gobamob’s village (farther away from La Pointe) has the La Pointe connection. Of course, the La Pointe, Fond du Lac, and St. Croix bands all seem very connected in Ely.

      That smallpox was the same that visited La Pointe that winter and killed Oshogay. It appears the old chief outlived his son by a few months. As for the village, it’s hard to say. It seems that many of the St. Croix and Ontonagon people went to La Pointe around 1854, but it’s not as if everyone reported to reservations as soon as the ink was dry on the treaty. If you follow that link in this post about the final St. Croix roll, you’ll see a number of enrolled tribal members of various bands living in Gordon, Solon, L. Nebagamon, etc.

      That work mentioned in the old Yahoo discussion is almost certainly Wagner and Scherzer’s “Reisen in Nordamerika”. I e-translated Chapter 21 (Ontonagon to the Brule) and it’s posted on this site. Chapter 22 is from the Brule to Stillwater. I did a rough e-translation to read it. I may do the full one at some point..

      As I’m sure you know, Antoine Gordon was a big presence at La Pointe too and has many descendants in this area. Did you read the post about the Blackbird-Wheeler letters?

      • Brian Finstad said

        Thank you for the heads up on the link about tribal members living in Gordon. I looked at it, but it was difficult to locate the pertinent information with such a long document and small viewing window. You wouldn’t happen to have a page number I could jump to, would you? I’m curious how many of the names I would recognize. My guess is probably most of them.

        It is said that Antoine established himself at an indian village known as Amik (which means beaver). John Bardon wrote a piece about Antoine and Amik indicates that this was a place where these indians lived longer than anyone knew. I have a theory that will probably never be proven, but I think it is one that makes a lot of sense. Amik is never found on any early maps or early accounts. And Kabamappa’s village completely disappears from history sometime around 1854. And of course as I noted earlier, 1854 is the year the first dam was created at the site that is now the Gordon Dam.

        The site of Amik / Gordon was noted by Nicollet n in his sketch map as “Kabamappa’s place ou’ l’ ea debarque.” So it was a landing / place of disembarkment, and likely a camping ground that was used by this village. It seems very possible that if there was a remnant of Kabamappa’s band that remained and they needed to relocate, that they would relocate nearby and in a place that already was a place of logistical importance to them. The timing of the disappearance of the one and the appearance of the other is only a few years. Antoine came to Amik in 1860 and it appears from the account of the small pox vaccinations that Kabamappa’s village was not present in 1854. I’ve never seen anything that indicates these two ever coexisted. The one appears immediately after the other disappears. The earlier one disappears at a time when it is likely that its site flooded and the later one appears situated on a site known to be of importance to that earlier village. Again, we will probably never know for certain, but of course my suspicion is that Amik was whatever remnant of Kabamappa’s band remained and relocated itself.

      • Brian Finstad said

        You may already be familiar with this account of a trip from LaPointe to the St. Croix (via Brule portage), but thought I’d share it just in case you were not. It begins on page 80. I just reread it as since our discussions, I’m more attentive to the dates and what is or is not mentioned regarding Kabamappa’s village. It is EXTREMELY interesting given the timing of when this is written, 1856, and our discussions regarding Kabamappa’s village and my theory that it was abandoned in 1854. Just after he speaks of the river spreading out into “large natural grass meadows” (which is undoubtably the area which is now the Gordon Flowage, where Kabamappa’s village was located) he mentions lament about encountering deserted “Chippewa Towns.” He writes “I could not avoid a feeling of sadness when passing them, and in places I rambled over these forlorn, sad spots. In one open beautiful spot (Schoolcraft described Kabamappa’s village as “occupying an eligible prairie bank”), some twelve decayed frames remain, and the marks of campfires, kindled here perhaps for centuries, but now deserted and still as death.”


  4. Brian Finstad said

    And PLEASE translate the Brule to Stillwater portion of that travelogue. I’m dying to read it!

  5. Brian Finstad said

    It is interesting to compare the above account in 1856 with this previous account in 1846.

    Click to access v41i03p137-144.pdf

    By the description of the river where it widens into fields of rice in the 1846 account, that area is undoubtably (to anyone who knows the river) where the Gordon Flowage is. Therefore, those indians that “Rambler” speaks of would have been of Kabamappa’s band. In the 1856 account, everything seems “doom and gloom” regarding that state of Indians on the upper St. Croix. In this 1846 account however, everything seems as if “all is well.” That small pox epidemic must have been a devastating and permanent disruption to Indian life on the upper St. Croix.

    One thing always puzzled me about this account: “Rambler” refers to the St. Croix trail as a “portage.” This isn’t the first time I have heard to it referred as such. Except . . . it is EIGHTY MILES LONG! Yet once their party reaches the St. Croix, his journal seems to indicate they just seamlessly began paddling down river. Where did the canoe come from? There is no mention of carrying a canoe. Or when he stated “portage” did he literally imply that they were actually bringing the canoe along with them? One would think it would have been a mentionable endeavor if one had to be constructed at the St. Croix end of the trail and of course there is no mention of that. Even if Indians would sell or barter for an already made canoe, how could one embark on an 80 mile walk with any certainty there would be an indian at the end of the trail waiting and willing to sell a canoe? So where did the canoe come from? Do you really think they carried their canoe that distance??? I find it almost unfathomable, yet I can’t think of any other explanation either.

    • philliutas said

      I don’t have an answer to your canoe question, but I’ve noticed a similar phenomenon of canoes materializing out of nowhere in other journals. I think they probably did just walk the trail assuming they could get a canoe on the other end, but I don’t know. They may have also arranged for one to be there ahead of time. I’m not an expert on this kind of thing, but it seems like over two centuries those voyageurs got things like that down to a science.

      It seems to me that the village may have started to come apart before the winter of 1853-54. The turmoil of the Sandy Lake removals would have been a major destabilizing event, and the violent settlement of the lower St. Croix, the splitting of payments between Crow Wing and La Pointe, would all have made La Pointe/Bad River a more attractive permanent location–especially once smallpox came through and the chiefs died.

      I’m not sure how “permanent” Ojibwe villages ever were–especially those like Kabamappa’s that were associated with one particular chief and family. One way to look at it is to consider that Gordon’s store represents the reestablishment of Kabamappa’s village in the post-Treaty world more than it represents American settlement of the upper St. Croix.

  6. Brian Finstad said

    I was at the Gordon museum this last weekend and there was a booklet that was published fairly recently from Lac Courte Orielles and it had photos of families from Post. One thing that jumped out for me was that there were people with the last name Oshogay. Thought you might find that of interest.

  7. Theresa said

    Excellent research as usual! I would just like to add this. We know from Edmund Ely’s journal that Kabbamappa had a son Oshogay. This is probably the Oshogay who signed as a warrior in 1847. After this treaty Kabbamappa stayed in La Pointe and was baptized Joseph, dying there on March 13, 1854. I would also like to make it clear that almost every band had an Oshogay (also spelled Oshoga, Oshoge, depending on the scribe) so we cannot think every Oshogay is the one whose grave is in La Pointe.
    Another proof of the close connection between La Pointe and St. Croix: Michael Cadotte’s wife Madeline was first cousin to Nodin, second cousin to Iabanse, and niece to Biajig. She was born on the St. Croix, and the White Crane family probably originated there, moving to La Pointe with Michel Cadotte (whose trading post was at the mouth of the Namegakon.

  8. Re: the Grand Footpath between the St. Croix River and La Pointe.

    Great discussion about the significance of this trail system. I was not sure if anyone else here knows how to source a map of it, so here is how to find two versions of it.

    Map Sheet #15 of the Composite Maps available through the Trygg Land Office Online website details trail systems and historical sites such as springs and sugar bushes around the greater Chequamegon Bay region. This includes Gordon, La Pointe, Ashland, Saxon Harbor (trailhead of Old Flambeau Trail), the Penokees, Apostle Islands, etc. Looks like a copy of this map sheet can be acquired for under ten dollars.

    The St. Croix to La Pointe trail was documented on the original PLSS surveys during the 1850s. Even if some villages were being abandoned, the footpaths were still there to be discovered by government surveyors. Their documentation is available online through this Original Field Notes and Plat Maps website for free.

    I did not learn about Trygg’s research until after I had independently reproduced part of the same research. To satisfy my own curiosity I have assembled original PLSS survey maps onto Google Earth to model the ancient trail systems of Iron, Ashland and Bayfield Counties circa 1850s. It is possible to model the entire St. Croix to La Pointe trail onto Google Earth in a similar fashion. This trail could then be transferred onto a GPS unit for field testing the accuracy of this model (with permission from land owners). I can’t help with soliciting permissions, but I can assist with the technical component if anyone is interested in finding the Grand Footpath.

  9. Leo said

    [More from Amorin]

    Here are two maps that show part of the Grand Footpath as the “Bayfield Road”.



    The “St. Croix Trail” labeled on these maps is a separate trail. This St. Croix Trail starts at the bottom of Chequamegon Bay near Ondossagon (roughly translated as “by the way of” or “across the lake” (please correct me if I am wrong)). How these trails are labeled on these maps by Whittlesey and Ross suggests that the Ondossagon trail was the primary route to La Pointe from the St. Croix River, not the Bayfield trail. Labeling on Trygg’s map also suggests that the Ondossagon trail was the primary route to La Pointe over the Bayfield trail.

    The Ondossagon trail converges with the Bayfield trail just after both trails cross the Great Divide near Island Lake north of Barnes. These two trails converge here as the Grand Footpath for the rest of the way to the St. Croix River. My theory is there was a camp or village near this convergence.


  10. Brian Finstad said

    My great great grandparents, George and Martha Barnes, who founded the town of Barnes at one time lived on the island at Island Lake. Island Lake has always been spoken / written about as a significant landmark in that early trail system. Thank you for the additional info. I knew there were two branches at some point, but did not know what they were called specifically. In the Gordon area, I had only heard of “Bayfield Trail” or “St. Croix Trail,” so the Ondossagon Trail is new to me. Very interesting.

  11. Brian Finstad said

    Amorin Mello, Here is a story of a journey along the trail in 1864 after it had been improved into a stage coach route. The descriptions at Island Lake are particularly interesting. I am definitely interested in retracing the trail and possibly even seeking protection of segments of it where it is still clearly visible. I know of a few such segments.


  12. Brian Finstad said

    Just the other day I ran across a reference to where the trail I speak of came out at the Chequamegon Bay end and it stated it was at Whittlesey Creek, which confirms what Amorin Mello had said above – the old Indian Trail followed that route and the separate “leg” of the trail to Bayfield was a later addition. I wish I could cite where I came across that – I’ll come back and note it here if I find it again.

    My guess is Henry Rice was responsible for developing that separate “leg” of the route to end in Bayfield, being that he was responsible for the early development of Bayfield and of course would want travel and commerce to be directed there. It was Henry Rice who developed the “stops” along the southern portions of the trail when it was enhanced, extended, and developed into a stage coach line and mail route. All of the land acquisitions for each of the stops at the Namekagon, Amik (now Gordon), and Island Lake were initially under Henry Rice’s Land Company and were all purchased on Sept.1st, 1860 and were his only land purchases of that day (source: Mr. Gordon’s Neighborhood).

    I realize this has gotten far from the subject of Oshogay, but had the “Grand Footpath” not evolved into the late nineteenth century stage line / mail route, we would probably know little of its route or existence and that travel route explains so much about how the area of the St. Croix headwaters had its own travel and communication link with the Chequamegon Bay region in Oshogay’s time.

  13. Brian Finstad said

    Now that we are fairly certain the leg of the trail that comes out near Whittlesey Creek is the leg that was “the Grand Footpath,” it is interesting to put yourself into the experience of it through the journal of someone who identifies themselves merely as “Rambler” in 1846, prior to any improvements of the trail into the stage line:

    “Two voyageurs and a canoe took me to the foot of the Bay opposite LaPointe an to the beginning of the Portage. Owing to the approaching payment, which is the great fete here for the whole year, it required extra inducement to get any of these fellows to go.

    Once landed on shore, and our journey veritably commenced, looking among the bushes, a narrow and not over distinct trail is seen, and this we have to follow for eighty miles, to the headwaters of the St. Croix . . .

    I take my gun – a Colt’s revolver – my men swing their packs, and we’re off; the bushes around the landing place are parted, the trail struck, and we commence our march in the forest. And such a route as that trail leads one over! Through thickets a deer wouldn’t go through and swamps and swails, wading creeks and small streams of all sizes, climbing over, or worming around, fallen trees, stumbling amongst protruding roots and tangled brush-wood.”

    It is evident when “Rambler” comes upon the sand barrens of the Gordon area and travel becomes easier:

    “There is one singular spot we passed. It is what is called a prairie or barren, being about four miles across, covered with a stunted growth of grass, and a few stunted shrubs. It reminds one of the moors in Scotland; it is a succession of hills, and I almost imagined myself in the Cheviot Hills.”

    When “Rambler” reaches the St. Croix, it is apparent it is Kabamappa’s band he encounters as his band occupied the rice fields that were once where the Gordon Flowage is today:

    “Four days from LaPointe finds us at the end of the Portage, and in a bark canoe, commencing the decent of the St. Croix, winding along its circuitous course among Lakes and rice fields, where the Indians are now commencing tying it, preparatory to gathering – which consists in gathering and tying together as many of the tops as will bind to each other to prevent the grains from shelling out while ripening . . . “An occasional wigwam is passed and the usual “igh! igh!” exchanged – I wish I could transfer an Indian yelp to letter paper. Pretty islands, deep forests, bounding rapids are passed . . . “

  14. To correct my earlier comment, I have not heard of anyone refer to Ondossagon as the Grand Footpath itself because there are multiple trails that converge and diverge at the foot of Chequamegon Bay along Fish Creek and Whittlesey Creek. My understanding of the word Ondossagon comes from a short story I was told during an Ojibwemowin class, I am sure someone else here could offer us a more intimate translation than I can offer. Furthermore, does anyone know if different tribes around Chequamegon Bay would have followed different trails, or did they share trails at the same time?

    Much like Ondossagon, Bayfield has been used in the context of an ambiguous destination. It would be interesting to find out what the Bayfield trail was referred to as before the name Bayfield was appropriated. If anyone knows a traditional name for the general area surrounding Bayfield and Pike Creek, please let us know.

    After I reproduced the trails from the PLSS surveys, I overlaid them onto a watersheds map of Bayfield Peninsula. As I hypothesized, the Bayfield Trail does strongly correlate with the divide (‘backbone’) of the peninsula’s watersheds. Therefore if someone wanted to find this trail from anywhere along the Lake Superior shoreline of Bayfield peninsula they would simply follow any creek upstream to the top of the divide. Coming back from Island Lake might have been a little bit trickier… I theorize that there were multiple undocumented branches off of this associated with each watershed of the peninsula with identifying marks at intersections of trails. There was one major trail that branches off of the Bayfield Trail and follows the Iron River watershed to Lake Superior in lieu, and there were possibly other major trails that were omitted by the surveyors. Unlike the Bayfield Trail, the Grand Footpath does not correlate to watershed divides, it appears to be relatively straight path between Island Lake and Chequamegon Bay.

    As Joseph Austrian detailed in his memoir, If someone did not have a guide or know the trails/river systems of Lake Superior, they could very easily take a wrong path unknowingly and get turned around. Joseph also did us a favor by describing how his brother Julius operated a sawmill on the mainland across from La Pointe, how Julius had a postal contract for mail deliveries on the Grand Footpath between La Pointe and St. Croix (described as 125 miles by Joseph), and how his other brother Marx a house nearby for a townsite preemption claim.. As shown on Trygg’s map sheet, the Bayfield Trail terminates at “Austran’s Mill & Hse” (sic). The original PLSS survey map and survey notes from 1852 also describes the Austrian family’s property at the same location along Pike Creek, but only shows the developed wagon trail between the mill and Lake Superior, without the rest of the undeveloped Bayfield Trail included.

    According to page five of “The Sawmill Communities at Roy’s Point” by Mary E Carlson, Henry Rice located and purchased 345 acres surrounding an old Indian village for the townsite of Bayfield 1855. Page fourteen of the same source describes how the American Fur Company built a sawmill on the mainland in 1845, then sold the sawmill to Julius Austrian, who in turn sold the sawmill in 1855 to Elisha Pike. I assume Marx Austrian’s house was also located in an community space, which may explain the unwelcoming response he received for his pre-1854-treaty preemption claim along the Bayfield Trail.

    The rest of the Bayfield Trail was not surveyed by the PLSS until 1856-’58, after the influx of settlers after the 1854 Treaty of La Pointe a chance to become familiar with the trails and develop some of them into roads. 1857 was the year that the Bayfield Trail was developed into a road by Bayfield’s proprietors (likely the Bayfield Land Company) according to this July 11th article of the Bayfield Mercury reproduced below.

    A party are working on the St. Croix Road, they have advanced about ten miles from Bayfield with the work, and so far, a very good road has been made and should the force by kept at work for sixty days longer, we should have a good wagon Road to the St. Croix, which would be one of the most important improvements for the interest of our Town ever made by the Proprietors.
    We have been informed that the Lumber interest will build some thirty or forty miles of the western end of the road from Taylors Falls towards the Namekagon and if so, should no doubt soon have a good wagon Road through to St. Paul.”

    Bayfield’s timeline puts the preemption attempt by Marx Austrian in 1851 and the townsite purchase by Henry Rice during 1855. This timeline suggests to me Antoine Gordon was inspired by Austrian and Rice to create the Gordon townsite at the other end of these trails at another ancient village site after Gordon left Chequamegon Bay to go deeper into the ceded territory further away from his non-tribal competitors.

  15. Brian Finstad said

    Tonight I ran across something that brought me back to the original question that began this comment thread: If Kabamabe’s son, Oshogay, were from the St. Croix, how did he gain such a prominent role at LaPointe? It was an article regarding the “Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs” from 1850. It speaks of the disbursement of Ojibwe from the St. Croix region and that particularly, the villages of the upper St. Croix, “fearing to be implicated in the act of their bretheren (meaning much drunkenness and scandalous murders on the lower St. Croix during this period), “have generally removed towards Lake Superior.”

    So that explains yet ANOTHER reason why Ojibwe of the upper St. Croix may have left the region. But as to the specific question of how Oshogay could have gained a prominent role at La Pointe, I do not know – but I did notice that another son of Kabamabe, Nodin, was of the upper St. Croix and not only had left to join the band at MIlle Lacs, but had become a treaty signer of that band by 1844. How did he gain such a prominence at Mille Lacs?

    So for whatever reason, it seems to me as though if they had a prominent stature in their position on the St. Croix, that carried with them. The Ojibwe did after all move about and interact quite a bit between regions. My theory is that European culture, in trying to understand the Ojibwe, created labels and categories based on geographic location; however, the reality was not that static or categorical. Even Kabamabe himself is said to have been born at Lac du Flambeau, not the St. Croix.

  16. Emily Oshogay said

    I am a descendant of Chief Oshogay, I am his great great grand daughter.

    • Jenny said

      I have been researching the history of a property our family owns, in northern Wisconsin. I believe the original family that owned the property, beginning in the 1850s, may have been related to him as well. Possibly his daughter and grandchildren. I would love to know how you are related, or if what I have found is accurate.

  17. […] “Oshogay,” Chequamegon History (blog), Published August 12, 2013, https://chequamegonhistory.wordpress.com/2013/08/12/oshogay/.  […]

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