Penokee Survey Incidents: Number III

February 15, 2015

By Amorin Mello

The Ashland Weekly Press became the Ashland Daily Press.

December 1, 1877

The Survey of the Penoka Range and Incidents Connected with its Early History.

Number III.

Julius Austrian‘s warehouse was the epicenter of La Pointe during the 1850s.
“There was a strip of ice all along the south shore, from thirty to forty miles wide, as far as Marquette; encountered ice again twenty-five miles west of Ontonagon, extending through to La Pointe and Bayfield. Many pieces of this ice were as much as twenty feet thick and were as dangerous to encounter as icebergs at sea. These pieces had been formed by drifts of ledges, one upon another.”
Detroit Free Press, June 5, 1857
(MarinetimeHistoryoftheGreatLakes.ca)
The first La Pointe Light was built in 1857 on Michigan Island and was rejected for not “in conformity to the terms of the contract,” and “discontinued in 1857.”  It should have been located on Long Island, where the second La Pointe Light was built in 1858.  This blunder was attributed to bureaucratic errors, but it could have been due to the ice conditions of 1857.

Friend Fifield:- Upon the first arrival of Mr. Sidebotham and myself at La Pointe, in May, ’57, as previously stated, we took lodging at the Hotel Angus,” the hospitalities of which we were forced to enjoy until some means could be found to communicate with Gen. Cutler. The Bay, as well as the Lake, was full of ice. In fact, we had been compelled to fight out way from the Sault to La Pointe, through heavy masses of ice, nearly the whole distance – and while upon this subject, I will say, that incredible as the statement may appear to many, yes it is a fact, that ice bergs were aground in front of Austrian’s Warehouse, at La Pointe, on the 4th day of July, 1857, in 36 feet of water, while at the same time a field of floating ice was visible from the Range, beyond which, no water could be seen. I verily believe that the lake was not wholly free from ice that summer.

“La Pointe residents began to cross to Bayfield for supplies and services. The establishment of commercial transportation service between these points was immediate. The enterprising Morrin brothers of La Pointe, ferried people and freight across the channel in their bateau — a large, flat-bottomed rowboat. Captain John Angus operated his sailboat, the Jane, between Ashland, Bayfield and La Pointe as early as 1857.”
~ Madeline Island Ferry Line

At length, after remaining at the hotel some eight or ten days, during which Mrs. Angus made us as happy as she could by her kindness and attention, Gen. Cutler came, accompanied by Mr. Herbert. This was the first time that either of us had ever seen Gen. Cutler, but on being informed who we were, he seemed overjoyed to see us, and at once made the proposition to me to take charge of the work, and let him return to Milwaukee, so thoroughly disgusted had he become with the whole thing. To this, however, I would not consent, whereupon he decided to remain, and at once directed Mr. Herbert, who was at that time still in our employ, to return at once to Ironton, taking a part of the supplies, which came up with us, of which they were in great need, Mr. Sidebotham accompanying him, leaving the General and myself at La Pointe. After a long consultation, the General decided to go below, after men and money, wherewith to complete the work; which he did, I following Mr. Sidebotham to Ironton, which place I reached in time to join Mr. Herbert’s party, just starting for the Range, which we reached the second day after leaving Ironton.

“The [1856] organization of the Township of Bayport was maintained for about ten years, until about the year 1867, when the settlers, for various reasons, became so reduced in number that the organization failed, and LaPointe again embraced the Township of Bayport — which ten years before had set up a municipality of its own.
During its existence the taxable real estate in the Town of Bayport had increased from nothing to several hundred thousand dollars, principally through entry of pine lands in the south and western portions of the township and also by extensive entries of mineral properties on the Iron Range.”
~ The Lake Superior Country in History and in Story by Guy M Burnham, pg. 179

Omission was made in the list of stockholders given in my first chapter, of Mr. Herbert, whom name should have been included. His stock was, however, by special agreement, unassessable, as it was through his instrumentality, in part, that the existence of this most wonderful metallic deposit was first brought to the knowledge of the Company, and the work of surveying and locating is undertaken. It was this, together with the knowledge that his long residence in the country was supposed to give him, as to the best mode of conducting such an enterprise, that procured for him this aqucession, as well as the appointment of Agent. In justice, however, to Mr. Herbert, it is proper to state, that besides the work done, and money spent at Ironton, the place selected by him as the future shipping point for the iron, (50,000 tons of which he contemplated bringing there that season, at least he stated) considerable work had also been done upon the range during his administration; mostly, however, at Penoka, where a log cabin, yet standing, had been erected, and some thirty acres cleared, the timber being cut into cordwood, to be used in the manufacture of charcoal iron, for the making of which it was contemplated to erect the proper furnaces in the near future. Neither is it any injustice to say, that although perhaps he did the best he could, situated as he was, yet the work did not progress as fast as the company thought it should, the force, while under his control had became badly demoralized. The idea had obtained, if not with him it had with them, that they were working for a company of bloated bondholders,- had a soft thing, and meant to make the most of it; but with the advent of Gen. Cutler, a change came over the spirit of their dreams. Order was quickly brought out of chaos, and the discovery made that a master hand held the reins. Up to this time, May, ’57, the Range had never been visited by any of the company except Messrs. Palmer, Greves and Ripley, those visiting ’56 was one of exploration only, and as Gen. Cutler, Mr. Sidebotham and myself were the only ones that went up there in ’57, or who, in fact, over performed any work there, a short sketch of them will perhaps not be inappropriate in this connection, while awaiting, metaphorically speaking, the arrival of the expected reinforcements from below. And first of Gen. Cutler:

Lysander Cutler of Wisc. (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print)

Lysander Cutler of Wisc. (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

“The First Election
The Order of the County Board creating the Town of Bayport was made March 11, 1856, and the store of Schuyler Goff, in Bay City (Ellis Division) was designated as the place for holding the first election for town officers, the election to be held Tuesday, April 1, 1856.
The Town of Bayport comprised all that portion of LaPointe county (since changed to Ashland County) lying south of the north line of Town 48 North; in all over sixty-eight Townships, including the Bad River reservation, which was, on the 8th day of November, 1859, made a precinct by itself.
At the first election held April 1, 1856, there were 24 votes cast — resulting as follows; for Chairman of the Town Board, Schuyler Goff (later appointed County Judge, an office he held for a year or more).  The other members of the town board being J.T. Welton and Asaph Whittlesey.  Schuyler Goff, chairman elect, was the first officer to qualify, his oath of office being administered by Asaph Whittlesey, Justice of the Peace.”
~ The Lake Superior Country in History and in Story by Guy M. Burnham, pg. 179
Ed Hall, Schuyler Goff, Homer Goff, Edwin Ellis, Junius T. Welton and Asaph Whittlesey  are listed in the 1855 Census of La Pointe.
In 1854, S.R. Marston failed to pay taxes, charges and interest to redeem a land claim in Grant County.
Sioux Scrip were a legal mechanism for dispossessing preemption land claims and reaping the profits.

Gen. Lysander L. Cutler was, in many respects, a remarkable man. In person he was rather above the medium height, large head, large, dark eyes, heavy eyebrows, a sure indication of a good memory, as well as firmness, dark hair, inclined to stand erect; walked, usually with a slow and dignified step, with his eyes apparently fixed upon the ground, as if in deep thought, leading an observer to suppose that he was not cognizant of what was being enacted around him. This, however, was a mistake; nothing escaped his observation. In fact, he seemed to know your very thoughts; neither could anyone be in his presence ten minutes without feeling the magnetic influence of his iron will. Was any dangerous work to be undertaken, he would, if within call, be the first one consulted, and appointed to take charge of it. He was a born leader. He was not only one of the best business men I ever knew, but he was also a leader in politics. A good judge of men, sharp and keen, and who ever undertook to circumvent him was sure to some grief, as some of the people who went about the Range did that summer, have no doubt, an abiding recollection. I refer now to Hall, of St. Paul, Minnesota, who undertook, with the assistance of S.R. Marston, a treacherous employee of the Company, and Schuyler Goff, of Racine, at that time a resident of La Pointe, to beat us out of our rights, by entering the lands upon the Range with Sioux Scrip, in which nefarious attempt they would no doubt have succeeded, but for him. He was more than a match for all of them, and they finally retired from the contest in disgrace. Such was Gen. L.L. Cutler, a firm friend, but an uncompromising enemy. Never will the writer forget the happy days spent with him upon the Range in the summer of 1857. We were like brothers, and our friendship was never interrupted by even a passing cloud. We fraternized at once upon our first meeting, and fought the battle for the possession of the Range together, never doubting our ultimately winning the prize. He has gone to his reward, in that bright world beyond the River; yet “in memory’s ever sleepless eye” he is often present with me.

John Sidebotham’s English mannerisms did not fare well with his employees.
James Smith Buck’s surname is an anglicized identity for the Buchanan clan from the Scottish Wars of Independence.
Simeon N. Small and his family purchased controlling stocks from the Wisconsin & Lake Superior Mining and Smelting Co.
Later in life, John Sidebotham was brutally murdered.

Mr. Sidebotham, however, who was by birth an Englishman, and by occupation a cabinet maker, was of a different mould, and although an honest man, was by his habits of life, wholly unfitted for such an undertaking, and of no practical use whatever, and although not constantly at the Range, he was while there, an actual incumbrance, some one having to remain with him constantly; he could not accustom himself to the woods and its annoyance; was always complaining of his food, which of course soon brought him into contempt with the men. One of his peculiarities was a great fondness for sugar, particularly in his tea, which he could not, or thought he could not, drink without it, and as this was an article not always plenty, the boys would sometimes hide it, in order to see him hunt for it, which he would do most persistently until he found it. I remember on one occasion they hid it in a tree, and as he could not climb or chip, although in plain sight he could not get it. They had, as they expressed it, the “dead wood” on him that time.  He finally became so afflicted with boils, on account of his sedentary habits and change of food, that it was with the utmost difficulty we were able to get him from the Range to Ashland, in December, where he remained until sufficiently recovered to be able to travel, after which he reached home in safety. He was the last to sell his stock, which, however, he finally did, to the late Simeon N. Small, claiming that as it was through much tribulation he had obtained it, he would not part with it except at his own price, which I believe he got. This purchase, although it gave Mr. Small a controlling interest in the stock, was ultimately the cause of his financial ruin.       J.S.B.


[from same issue of The Ashland Press]

Whittlesey on Early Times in Ashland.

The laziness of Lazarus and Sibley was revealed in Penokee Survey Incidents: Number II.
John Beck and his family arrived at the Town of Bayport in 1856.
“The first settlement on the spot where Ashland now stands was made, in 1854, by Asaph Whittlesey and George Kilborn, both natives of the Western Reserve, Ohio. The lands were not as yet surveyed, so that they could not pre-empt them, and there was as yet no Homestead law. For this reason they, with Martin Beaser, then living in Ontonagon, Michigan, laid claim, under the “Town Site” law, to about three hundred acres, embracing their log houses and small clearing. They platted this into town lots in 1855, and subsequently were allowed to enter their lands as claimed, and in due course received their title. In February, 1855, Edwin Ellis, a graduate in medicine, in the University of the City of New York, of the class of 1846, came on foot through the woods from St. Paul to the bay.”
~ The Monthly Magazine; A Monthly Journal of American History, Volume 9, 1888, pg. 18

Editor Ashland Press.- In your last issue of the 24th inst., your correspondent “J.S.B.,” in his Early Recollections of Ashland, makes very portient reference to two of Ashland’s prominent citizens of early days, known as “Sibley” and “Lazarus,” stating that in laziness they were competitors for the belt. My own recollection tells me that of this same Sibley had gained some notoriety for telling big yarns, but in this I think he ultimately gave way to John Beck. On one occasion, Sibley arrived in town on foot and alone, and entering a crowd of the boys, addressing himself to Lazarus, said: “Lazarus, I want you to go and help me get my team into town. It now stands in the mud near the head of Main St.” to which Lazarus replied, “I’ll go, if you will first tell us the biggest lie you ever told.” Sibley responded, “Lazarus, I don’t lie.” Lazarus says, “That will do, I’ll go and help you.” I am personally knowing to the fact that this same Lazarus has been known at several different times when he was “keeping back” in cold winters, to remain in beds two nights and the intervening day, to avoid the necessity of cutting wood and cooking a meal; nevertheless, “George E.,” as Lazarus was otherwise known, was a man of much more than usual ability, and was a surveyor had few superiors. We were all glad to have him show himself, and to witness his alacrity in getting upon the “off side” of any proposition that might be submitted.

The Siege of Carlisle was a conflict in the first of the Scottish Wars of Independence.
Whittlesey’s Siege of Barlisle appears to be a reference to the dark circumstances of Augustus Barber’s death.

I hope that brother “J.S.B.” may be heard from again, and that he may tell us more in regard to the crowd of pre-emptors imported by himself and others, (modesty forbids me to mention who,) tending almost invariably to bankruptcy. You, sir, were at the head of some “noble boys,” and you, too, had your share of tough cases. Should I sufficiently recover my strength to enable me to do so, I may hereafter open out on my “Early Recollections” of the place, and if I do attempt it, let all “stand from under,” for “At the siege of Barlisle, I was there all the while.”

W.

Bayfield, Wis., Nov. 24, 1877.

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