Barber Papers: “Barbers Camp” Fall of 1855

September 19, 2015

By Amorin Mello

Selected letters of the Joel Allen Barber Papers 

… continued from Summer of 1855.

Johnson Sept 26th 1855

Dear Son

Although but two days have elapsed since I wrote to you & Augustus jointly, the spirit moves me to try it again, first to correct a very great error I committed at that time by enclosing the handbill issued by your Uncle Burr for the apprehension of the murderer of Abial Chase, I merely sent it that you might see it as I would have handed it to you to look at, if you had been here, but the soul & essence of all propriety chid me smartly for it calling it “foolish, childish & very improper” so I suppose it was, and if this will answer for an apology, I will pass on to the 2nd article.  That is the bursting up of the Bobkin concern, which took place this morning.

The murder of Abial Chase by Jefferson Fulton : on the 6th day of Sept. A.D. 1855, at Fletcher, and the suicide of Fulton on the 10th. With an explanatory account of the original difficulties between them, and the circumstances attending the death of each party.
~ by Wilson & Henderson; published by Messenger Print, St. Albans, VT; 1855.

There is considerable mystery attending the transactions for they have been making money rapidly and there is apparently no cause for such a move, I worked hard from breakfast to now removing property from their shop to my barn.  It looks as though they had got sick of their location and wanted to get away to some other.  Their stock of hides of all kinds are all done up & sent to market & their [pits?] empty, the copper boiler taken out, and sent off.  Old Bobin has been out west this summer & has probably found a place where he & Frank are going & perhaps Phelps too & they cut up this [shine?] to get rid of the place and turn their [???????] in to pay their debt to [Sen?] Knight about $230.

The Barber brothers, Augustus and Allen, surveyed the first three of six townships for the General Land Office during the Summer of 1855, which included what are now the Cities of Ashland and Washburn.  The Barber brothers continued their survey contract with the second three of six townships into the Fall of 1855; before, during, and after the 1855 Annuity Payment.

Hiram has been up to the cattle show at Hydepark to day and has got home just at dusk pretty well used up having been up on foot, as did Benton & Leo Hyde, though they are coming down by stage & Am footed it back.  I had no notion of going up there as I have long been sick of going there, so I took my name off and bode them a final adieu.  I go to Hydepark as seldom as possible because I love the place and people so well.

As I said in my last, I expected a letter from you at the same time my letter started, so I found it, for yesterday Morning I found one from Augustus which was right welcome as it brought news of the continued good health of you both.

“At Vanderventer’s Creek, near Washburn, was the Celebrated Gigito-Mikana, or “council-trail,” so called because here the Chippewas once held a celebrated council; hence the Indian name Gigito-Mikana-Sibiwishen, meaning “Council-trail Creek.”  At the mouth of this creek, there was once a large Indian village.”
~ Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Volume 13, pages 432

I am glad Augustus is so punctual in writing and it seems as if you could give us a few lines once in a while as well as he.

Will you try it?  Benton delivered a lecture last evening to a full house.  Subject, the proper course of Education in relation to the remarkable progress of the age, as necessary to the requisite training & diciplining of the mind.

It rains & I have got to go and carry this to the office, so you must excuse my brevity.

May God bless you both

G.A. Barber

PS.  Some groaning about writing so often

Johnson Sept 30th 1855

Nedobikag-Sibiwishen is the Indian name for Bay City Creek, within the limits of Ashland.  Here Tagwagane, a celebrated Indian chief of the Crane totem, used occasionally to reside. Warren gives us a speech of his, at the treaty of La Pointe in 1842.  This Tagwagane had a copper plate, an heirloom handed down in his family from generation to generation, on which were rude indentations and hieroglyphics deonting the number of generations of that family which had passed away since they first pitched their lodges at Shagawamking [Chequamegon] and took possession of the adjacent country, including Madelaine Island.  From this original mode of reckoning time, Warren concludes that the ancestors of said family first came to La Pointe circa A.D. 1490.
~ Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Volume 13, pages 430

Dear Sons

Having written twice within the last week I have but very little to say now that may be interesting to you, but as I have determined to write as often as once a week and oftener if any thing transpires worthy of the mention of it, I again set myself to the work.  In my letter of last Wednesday night I mentioned the [vainose?] of Mr Bobkin from these diggings and the attachment of all the effects of [Phelps ?] Bobkin on the debts of sundry individuals.  Thursday morning B’s little wife Jane went over to Montpelier to his father’s to go with them westward the Lord knows where.

Charles [Judivene?] who has lived in the house with them is going soon.  People think Phelps is soon to follow.  [Hawley?] Smith & family & [Hm?] Smith & family go this week.  I sent you a Methodist Paper with the notice for the dedication of our new Chapel therein and also was scribbled on it the startling news of the fall of Sevastapol which was telegraphed from Halifax the day before.  Some doubted but Boston Papers brought the news yesterday morning & this morning the [Sumlokg?] Tribune brought a full confirmation, with some of the particulars of the bloody encounter.

Detail of an Indian Sugar Camp (T48N R5W).

The Barber brothers included many details in their surveys, including this one of an Indian Sugar Camp (T48N R5W).

The Bombardment commenced upon the [Malakoff?] Little Redan at [Carediring Bay?] by the French & the Redan by the English at day break on the 5th & continued to Morn the 8th when the assault commenced.

You will receive the news of the battle by papers to be printed this week & probably this will reach you first.  So that I may be the means of giving you intelligence of great importance sooner than you would otherwise get it.

“According to Blatchford there was formerly another considerable village at the mouth of Whittlesey’s Creek, called by the Indians Agami-Wikwedo-Sibiwishen, which signifies “a creek on the other side of the bay,” from agaming (on the other side of a river, or lake), wikwed (a bay), and sibiwishen (a creek).”

~ Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Volume 13, pages 430-1

Mum always says that it is useless to try to give early news because you will hear of it sooner or later, and what is the use of writing again so soon?  I always that if anything transpires worth relating that then is the time to tell it.  I have been to Meeting to hear Mr D all day as I usually do when at home, especially since the baptists [rave?] got their new man Mr Mirriman to preach to them and all creation are running to hear him on the new broom principle.  Mum and Am have gone to Cambridge to day to try to find a girl, & I see by her letter to you that she is complaining that I do not [figosure rup?] for her, & that She has too much to do &c&c.  I would at any time get a girl for her did I not know that it would only furnish [new?] grounds of complaints.  If I got a little girl then there would be trouble for thinking that She could get along with such help, that it was no help at all & made her as much work as it saved, while should I get an older girl she would soon discover certainly as soon as she got rested that she could get along without any or with a little [one?].  It is a fact, that her mind is not as stable and unchanging as the Green Mountains, and in regard to what she says of my not telling her my plans, I will barely say that so long as she does not know them she cannot combat them, which she surely would, whatever they were and in regard to my having run through all the [offices?] &c & taking a pretty clerkshop, it is all news to me coming from her [diseased brain?]

Detail of settlements and a trail along (Whittlesey?) Creek and Chequamegon Bay (T48N R5W)

Detail of T48N R5W:
Chequamegon Bay; 
an named settlement at the mouth of Boyd Creek;
the Whittlesey Creek National Wildlife Refuge;
and the trailhead of the Grand Footpath.

Boyd’s Creek is called in Chippewa, Namebinikanensi-Sibiwishen, meaning “Little Sucker Creek.”  A man named [Robert] Boyd once resided there, married to an Indian woman.  He was shot in a quarrel with another man.”

~ Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Volume 13, pages 431-2

From this place northward, there were Indian hamlets strung along the western shore of the bay.  Father Allouez mentions visiting various hamlets two, three, or more (French leagues away from his chapel.  Marquette mentions five clearings, where Indian villages were located.

~ Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Volume 13, pages 431

I have been talking with the [boiv’s?] about making my way into cloth for me: and I am convinced that by so doing I can realize 45 or 50 cents  per lb for my [westwhoaor?] should I sell it now I could get 34 ¢ per lb for 20 [place?] and only 25 cent per lb for the remainder.  It is the very thing that Mum proposed and urged to me weeks ago when I talked of selling it.  But now I have concluded to do so she is in distress for fear I shall have to go out there to sell it.  I have been thinking of going in [December?] to buy lumber & get it in the ground & make preparations for some improvements on the little farm and I think some good [G??? ???] into [franned?] will be good articles in [enough?] a [country?].  I am in hopes to have [on yes?] cloth or perhaps [?????] cloth & [?????? ?????? or more?].  So my object is to spend my money.  Mum says [???] when she sees in prospect [thall?] I [???] go [while?] no longer ago than yesterday she [pevondered?] why I did not go and be doing something on the place in Lancaster and garden from day to day [having?] down one day the plans she had built u the day before &c &c.

The hop harvest is about through and there is not only a small crop but the prices will be low this season – [same when?] I was at the Institute last week and was much surprised with Am’s performance as [cutic?], and if I can get it, will copy it for you that you may see how he is improving.

Detail of the Grand Footpath as a trail from Chequamegon Bay to the St Croix River (T48N R5W).

Detail of a trail between Chequamegon Bay and the Saint Croix River National Scenic Riverway (T48N R5W).  This is the Grand Footpath that was discussed in the Comments section of our Oshogay post.

“A short distance from Whittlesey’s Creek, at the western bend of the bay, where is now Shore’s Landing, there used to be a large Indian village and trading post, kept by a Frenchman.  Being at the head of the by a, it was the starting point of the Indian trail to the St. Croix country.”

~ Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Volume 13, pages 431

I have just looked for it & cannot find it, but I think you will say when you see if that it is pretty tall for one only 14 years of age.  I think he is making pretty good progress in his studies though his mother is in great affliction if he is not bowed down to his books every moment.  She thinks he should be kept as close to his books as a hired man or girl at their work and if anything closer, because it is not work.

I shall have some [curly?] to carry with me when I leave this town and would like to get it into [law/land?] in some good place for in that way do I think it would be surest and increase fastest.

Detail of a sand stone boulder (T48N R5W).

Detail of a sand stone boulder (T48N R5W).

Still I know not what I shall do.  Perhaps I may live and die in Vermont after all, but I want to be in some more productive vicinity than Johnson and some more pleasant place than our old farm in Cambridge.  I can work yet but but as for [eritubing?] those hills & rocks I should beg to be [exensed?], though I should regret to have the wood land & sugar place more them all the rest for they [ground me aplenty?] in this or any other place.  But oh [such wish her?] the river has made with the banks within the [two ????] years.  It makes me sick when I see it and know that it cannot be helped.

“Further north is Kitchi-Namebinikani-Sibiwishen, meaning “Large Sucker Creek,” but whites now call it Bonos Creek.  [Boyd and Bono] creeks are not far apart, and once there was a village of Indians there.  It was noted as a place for fishing at a certain time of the year, probably in spring, when suckers and other fish would go up these creeks to spawn.

~ Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Volume 13, pages 432

I have got to get supper for [Mrs?] Benton and milk and shall have to close this stupid letter.  What do you think of having Am & I out there through the winter?  Could we find room any where to lie down and could we find [syinge teethes being?] used to say ??.  You will see that I am economical of my paper I cast such an enormous square for postage THREE whole cents a week.  It is thought any [exlaws out?] Had I been as intent on (spending money as [reprebuted?] I should have gone to Quebec [last ??? in?] Excursion fare only $3.50 from Essex to Quebec & back again.  I am sorry that I did not go, as I am chgd with such a desire to spend money.

May you both prosper in all Laudable pursuits & live long is blessing to your parents & the world


Interior Field Notes

Township 48 North, Range 5 West

Barber, Augustus H.

Oct. 1855

Notebook ID: INT049W06

Original plat map of Town of Barksdale (T48N R5W). Details include: Long Island Bay, trails from Long Island Bay to the St. Croix River, settlements, and a large sandstone boulder.

Original plat map of T48N R5W.  Today, this is the Town of Barksdale.

Survey of Barksdale (T48N R5W) by: Augustus H. Barber, U.S. Deputy Surveyor.

Survey of T48N R5W by:
Augustus H. Barber, U.S. Deputy Surveyor.

First page of affidavit; continued below.

First page of affidavit; continued below.

Chainmen: J. Allen Barber 2nd & George I. Butler Axeman: Joseph Dennis (Joseph Dennis was a mixed-blood member of the Lake Superior Chippewa tribe.)

Chainmen: J. Allen Barber 2nd & George I. Butler
Axeman: Joseph Dennis
(Joseph Dennis was a mixed-blood member of the Lake Superior Chippewa tribe and eligible for a land grant under the seventh clause of the second article of the 1854 Treaty of La Pointe.)

The Barbers' original field notes for this township were rewritten decades later. Why?

The Barbers’ original field notes for this township were reproduced in 1891 “…for the reason that the original record is becoming illegible by the fading of the inks.

 [c. Oct 12, 1855]

Barbers Camp  Oct 1855

Dear Parents

Being unemployed today I have an opportunity though a poor one to write to you once more.

Detail of Fish Creek Slough (T47N R5W).

Detail of Fish Creek Slough (T47N R5W).

My health for a few days past has not been good – in fact I have been obliged to be idle the last two days from a kind of disentery very common here and apt to turn to bloody flux.  But I am much better today and hope to resume work tomorrow.

Detail of Me-ta-bi-Ki-ti-gue-ag River; also known as South Fish Creek (T47N R5W).

Detail of Metabikitigweiag-Sibiwishen; now known as South Fish Creek (T47N R5W).

“Metabikitigweiag-Sibiwishen is the creek between Ashland and Ashland Junction, which runs into Fish Creek a short distance west of Ashland.  At the junction of these two creeks and along their banks, especially on the east bank of Fish Creek, was once a large and populous Indian village of Ottawas, who there raised Indian corn.”
Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Volume 13, page 430.

Our party now contains 3 halfbreeds, two to keep camp and one to ax.  At first I did not like the idea of having such looking fellows to work for us but they get up good victuals.  I don’t inquire how.  I have to cook occasionally but I can’t tell how I make it go.  Still my pancakes and fried pork and bean soup are generally devoured with an assiduity not often seen out of the woods.  The survey is going on pretty well lately.  The fourth town will be finished in 4 or 5 days.  Then there will be only two more.  We are having very good weather now, perhaps it is the beginning of our indian summer which they say is very fine on this lake.  I have not yet made up my mind what I shall do this coming winter.

Detail of trail from Chequamegon Bay to Lac Courte Oreilles (T47N R5W).

Details of a spring and trails along Fish Creek; and the footpath from Chequamegon Bay to the Mississippi River via Lac Courte Oreilles (T47N R5W).

It was from this place that the trail left the bay, leading over to the Chippewa River country.
Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Volume 13,
page 430.

If I make a claim I shall probably live and work on it.  I know of a place near the bay for as good a farm as can be made on the lake, good bottom land — some of it producing good hay now.  During the summer there has been some emigration to this country but there is room for more yet.  The only settlements about this end of the lake are at Superior, Iron river 27 miles this side, Bark Point bay, La point, this bay, Bad river, & Montreal river.  At Bark point there is only a fishery and at Bad river a mission.

Lapointe is a queer old town.  Standing in the midst of an almost unknown country it presents the appearance of and is in fact about the oldest town I ever saw.  Not a horse or carriage track can be seen in the streets and there is not a carriage road leading from the town.  The buildings were mostly constructed without sawed lumber and are mostly enclosed with high fences of sharpened posts.  Squaws, half breed children, indian dogs and lice are the principal commodities.  French and Ojibway are the principal languages spoken.

Detail of water bodies and trails in the area of the Badgerwood CAFO being proposed by Reicks View Farms in current events (T47N R5W).

Detail of water bodies and trails in the vicinity of the Badgerwood CAFO being proposed by Reicks View Farms in current events, described in 1855 by the Barber brothers as “an elevated ridge, much resembling the Mineral ranges of this region” (T47N R5W).

But a more beautiful bay can’t be found than La point bay.  I think it is always a safe and accessible harbour.

Oct. 21st.  Since writing the above I have recovered my health and been at work about a week.

Love to all


[Incomplete copy of letter]

[ca. 1855] Nov. 1

Father’s“letter of November 3, 1856, was written during a rough voyage down Lake Superior and Lake Michigan in the famed steamboat ‘Lady Elgin.'”

~ Barber Papers;
Scope and Content Note

This incomplete letter was misfiled as 1855; it was from the Fall of 1858.  Stay tuned.

Nov 1st The weather is quite different now from what it was 2 years ago yesterday when I left you to come down on the Lady Elgin & to day when we lay shut in by a NorthEaster at Copper harbor.

I have this A.M. recd a letter from Maime Burr & one from her bother.  Maime is a beautiful writer both as to matter & manner.

The folks at Lancaster were well except Cyrus who I fear is consumptive.

It is time for me to go to the House & almost time for the Mail to close.

May Heaven bless & protect you

G.A. Barber

Interior Field Notes

Township 47 North, Range 5 West

Barber, Augustus H.

Oct. 1855-Nov. 1855

Notebook ID: INT049W05

Original plat map of T47N R05W. This is now the Town of Eileen.

Original plat map of T47N R05W. Today this is the Town of Eileen.

Survey of T47N R5W by: Augustus H. Barber, U.S. Deputy Surveyor.

Survey of T47N R5W by:
Augustus H. Barber, U.S. Deputy Surveyor.

General description of T47N R5W.

General description of T47N R5W.


Chainmen: J. Allen Barber 2nd & George I. Butler
Axeman: Joseph (his mark) Dennis
Affidavit signed by: John W. Bell, Justice of the Peace for LaPointe County.

The Barbers' original field notes for this township were rewritten decades later. Where are the Barbers' original field notes?

The Barbers’ original field notes for this township were reproduced in 1885 “… for the reason that the original record is becoming illegible by the fading of the ink.”

Ashland Wisconsin   Dec. 16th 1855

Dear Parents

Once more I am seated to assure you of my continued good health and warm affection for the loved recipients of this letter.

Detail of Ashland City, LaPointe County (T47N R4W).

Detail of Ashland townsite, Wikwedong, and Fish Creek (T47N R4W).

Fish Creek is called by the Indians Wikwedo-Sibiwishen, which means ‘Bay Creek,’ from wikwed, Chippewa for bay; hence the name Wikwedong, the name they have to Ashland, meaning ‘at the bay.'”
Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Volume 13, page 430.

Asaph Whittlesey founded Ashland in 1854 near the ancient village of Wikwedong.

Asaph Whittlesey

I suppose Augustus has informed you of the completion of his contract.  Our summers work hung on rather late as nearly all of the last township was surveyed after the winter had fairly set in.  But we are having an easy time of it now.  We are keeping house in a little cabin at Ashland about two miles from Bay City.  I do all the house work as well as I can by a little stove exactly like our parlor stove and Augustus works at his notes preparing them for the office.  As yet I don’t know what I shall do this winter.  Between working with Augustus, going below, making a claim and a few other things, I must decide before long.  People are pitching upon claims all around me which I might have claimed when surveyed — yet I hold onto to my preemption right in hopes to find a more valuable location.  With my knowledge of the country I could make better selections than most of them do and with the means I could secure several valuable tracts.  (Eve.)  This evening Augustus and I have been singing with Mr. Whittlesey’s folks, who live only a few steps from us.  They are intelligent pious folks and very neighborly.  Mrs. W. brought us some apple dumplings the other night and has since sent us a whitefish nicely cooked.  I suppose they pity our want of skill in the culinary department of housekeeping.  I do some baking in the stove which I find a great help.  In regard to dish-washing I am rather fortunate as we have dishes enough for six men and can’t use them all at once so I only wash about once in two days.

Detail of Raspberry River and West Branch of Raspberry River (T49N R5W).

Detail of Raspberry River and West Branch of Raspberry River upstream from Sioux River Slough (T49N R5W).

Sioux River is a stream located just 4.3 miles from Washburn, in Bayfield County, in the state of Wisconsin, United States, near Sioux, WI. Alternate names for this stream include Miskwimin, Raspberry River and Miskwi Minikan.”


In the Ojibwemowin language, Miskwiwim is Raspberry and Miskwi Minikan is Blood Seed.

The propeller Ogontz survived numerous accidents and a lawsuit upon the Great Lakes.

Butler has left us and gone to Superior intending to go to St. Antony.  He did not appear to like the woods very much.  Dan Damon of Waterbury had just gone there (to St. Antony).  It is announced that there will be preaching here next Sunday by Mr. Warren a young Methodist minister at Bad river mission.  I may not be here as we intend to go to La Pointe and probably Superior in two or three days.  Provisions are scarce all round the lake I guess.  At Superior pork is 25¢ per pound.  Here nothing can be obtained by the quantity.  At Ontonagon prices are very high.  Two cargoes of provisions for Ontonagon have been discharged at some lower port on account of storms.  The propeller Ogonts began to unload at Ontonagon but a storm arising she was obliged to put out for a safer harbor and vessel and cargo were much damaged.  Last fall a steamboat with passengers for Superior and La pointe landed them at Ontonagon and started back for the Sault but was met by a northeaster and driven back to La pointe.  So you see vessels on this lake have to stand round for storms.  The bay is partly frozen over.  Thermometer this morning 2*-0. 

Detail of Sioux River; also labeled as the main branch of the Raspberry River (T49N R5W)

Detail of Sioux River; also labeled as the main branch of the Raspberry River (T49N R5W)

Joseph Alcorn was featured in the Spring of 1855.  He appears to have been close to George Riley Stuntz.

Heard today that Jo is at work at Iron River for Stuntz.

I do not know what Augustus will do about surveying this winter.  He could probably make it pay better than anything else, I suppose the job lies among the islands which will give plenty of meandering which could be done on the ice at the rate of 9 or 10 miles per day.  But nothing can be done about it yet until the channels are frozen over as the water is so full of icebergs part of the time that no small boat could live.

“From all this we see that the bay was from most ancient times the seat of a large aboriginal population.  Its geographical position towards the western end of the great lake, its rich fisheries and hunting grounds, all tended to make it the home of thousands of Indians.”
Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Volume 13, page 433.

The trader of Allen’s yarn was likely present at the 1855 Annuity Payment.

I wish I had time to tell you a lot of yarns about the Indians and indian traders.  A Bad River indian came over here today to trade off a beaver skin for whiskey — he got about two quarts for it which made him feel pretty rich yet feeling he had not quite enough he bought a pint more for 50¢ which the trader brought and poured into his keg — but the last pint fortunately was nothing but pure brack water.  The same trader one night just after payment took about 75 dollars with only 8 gallons of whiskey well watered.

If we go to La pointe soon this letter will be mailed soon.  If not it may stay in this office a week or two.

Please excuse the bad writing, &c, &c.

Your affectionate son

J Allen Barber

Detail of spring and trail on original plat map of T49N R5W.

Detail of a spring along trail from the Sioux River Valley into the Bayfield Peninsula (T49N R5W).

Dear Mother

I am somewhat in arrears of my usual and promised amount of letter writing but I cannot help it.

Detail of sink holes (T49N R5W).

Detail of sink holes (T49N R5W).

In a short time I expect to have more favorable opportunities and a better chance to tell you what I shall do and where I shall be this winter.  If I stay about here you must not look for letters every week for it will be quite impossible for me to dispatch them oftener than once in two weeks; perhaps longer times will unavoidably intervene.  Am well and sound and feel pretty well able to stand a winter here on the lake, though I must own that to survey in mid-winter seems to me like undertaking a pretty [cool?] job.  Never mind, to be at work in the woods here is less tedious and less dangerous than to be on the black prairies of southern Wisconsin where roads are covered deep in an hour or two and no sheltering forest nor even fuel to protect the traveler from the bitter winds.  You may, I think, be tolerably easy about my health and safety, recollecting that I have been some time in this wild country and enjoyed better health than [two words illegible] others claim, and as for accidents, no place is known to be safe between the walls of the universe, but the peaceable prudent and prompt men may expect to walk in safety in all places as anybody.  Besides, there are men here who have shown that they are disposed to remember sundry little accommodations, and if I should need the care of friends at any time I doubt not I should receive all the attention that well disposed strangers could give.

Julius Austrian held the mail contract at LaPointe during 1855.

At present I don’t know much about my operations for the immediate future, but expect to know as I go along.  We are woefully neglected by the mails of late, but are no worse off in that respect than others.

Hoping this letter will not be as unsatisfactory to you as it looks to me.  I am as

Ever Your Affectionate Son

Augustus H. Barber

Interior Field Notes

Township 49 North, Range 5 West

Barber, Augustus H.

Nov. 1855-Dec. 1855

Notebook ID: INT050W01

Original plat map for T49N R5W.

Original plat map for T49N R5W.

Survey of T47N R5W by:
Augustus H. Barber, U.S. Deputy Surveyor.

General description of T49N R5W.

General description of T49N R5W.

Chainmen: J. Allen Barber 2nd & George I. Butler
Axeman: Joseph (his mark) Dennis
Affidavit signed by: John W. Bell, Justice of the Peace for LaPointe County.


The Barber brothers’ original field notes for this township were reproduced in 1891 “… for the reason that the original record is becoming illegible by the fading of the ink.”

[Incomplete copy of letter]

[undated circa 1855]

Ironton townsite claim at Saxon Harbor with trails to Odanah and the Penoka Iron Range. (Detail from Wisconsin Public Land Survey Records)

Detail of Ironton town property with trails to Odanah and to the Penokee Mountains (T47N R1W).  This was not part of the Barber brother’s survey in 1855.  Today this property is known as Saxon Harbor.

Is there not danger that by the decisions of the Secretary of the Interior lately rendered, you may be thrown out of your Ironton Town property?  Or is there perfect immunity from such loss in the hardship of the times that for the present render the property valueless & no temptation to sharks to seize upon them?  You can make your shares perfectly safe by ostensibly making your home there & from what you have hinted about the agent I presume it would be no great displeasure for you to sojourn occasionally with his family, at least enough to have your residence called at Ironton.

And this reminds me of seeing the name of your plan in one of the N.E. Counties of Wis.  I think in Marquette it was in an advertisement for proposals for carrying mails in Wis.  When do you suppose property of any kind will be saleable again about Lake Superior?

The Barber brothers’ Father appears to have become very familiar with other Lake Superior land speculators.

One thing is certain, it must be after [this?], if ever, I would like to hear how some of my acquaintances along down the northern shore are thriving & whether property in & around Burlington, Encampments, Rockville, Beaver Bay are commanding fabulous prices as they did last years.  I presume thousands of dollars were paid last year to be shown claims & for building shanties on them, by those who are forced to abandon them, & remain where they are in no danger of starving.  Has Perry told you that that note could not be paid for lack of money enough in Superior?  What did he say about it?  How did he expect I want him to get my pay?  I expect nothing but that I should lose all that debt, for I am fearful that Carleton will find some way to avoid the payment of it.

Did Perry talk or not as though he wished to have me paid up?  & what did he say about its ever being paid?  Does he gamble & drink yet? & how do they all appear in Superior?  Does the hardship of the time prevent the consumption of such quantities of rot gut as were formerly used?

Are Mr. [Barmite?] & Mr. [McCorble?] there?  Is Frasier there?  & Mr. Hall the young lawyer, Charly Port, White Perkins & Bradford?  If I can only get my affairs in Superior straightened out I can note if the whole place sinks to the “bottom of the sea, the sea, the sea” & half of its inhabitants with it if I could chose who should be saved.

This partial letter has also been misdated.  A response from Allen to Father regarding the Secretary of the Interior’s decisions was written during the Summer of 1858.  Stay tuned.

I have written more than I intended, as times hangs so heavily on my hands that I resort to writing as a pasttime.

Again good bye,

G. A. B.

I send you a blank % sheet for your use.  I bought squires like this for 34¢ last week & wish I could get some of it to you.

Map of Chequamegon Bay water routes associated with ancient villages and water migration routes. ~

This map is an image from Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Volume 13, page 419.
Published in 1895, this map features the area surveyed by the Barber brothers during 1855 surrounded by Bayfield, LaPointe, and Bad River. 
After 1855, the Society’s annual reports were included in its Proceedings.
In 1855, the Barber brothers surveyed six townships (216 square miles) along Chequamegon Bay between Bayfield and Bad River.
The available mix of original documents and reproductions of the Barber brothers’ field notes feature these water/land routes; but do not feature any of these ancient villages.
During 1855, did the Barber brothers record these details separately for the State Historical Society of Wisconsin?

To be continued in the Winter of 1856

One Response to “Barber Papers: “Barbers Camp” Fall of 1855”

  1. Barbara A Cunningham said

    I have enjoyed reading this so much. Some was hard to read, but Augustus Barber seemed a very nice, young man. Also, enjoyed the description of the land area and surrounding waters where the proposed CAFO is to be located.

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