The Woman In Stone

March 15, 2016

By Amorin Mello & Leo Filipczak

Portrait of the Wheeler and Wood Families from the Wheeler Family Papers at the Wisconsin Historical Society. The woman dressed in white is Harriet "Hattie" Wheeler, according to the book Woman in the Wilderness: Letters of Harriet Wood Wheeler, Missonary Wife, 1832-1892, by Nancy Bunge, 2010.

Photograph of the Wheeler and Wood Families from the Wheeler Family Papers at the Wisconsin Historical Society. The woman dressed in white is Harriet Martha Wheeler, according to the book about her mother, Woman in the Wilderness: Letters of Harriet Wood Wheeler, Missonary Wife, 1832-1892, by Nancy Bunge, 2010.

Leonard Hemenway Wheeler ~ Unnamed Wisconsin by [????]

Leonard Hemenway Wheeler: husband of Harriet Wood Wheeler, and father of author Harriet Martha Wheeler. 
~ Unnamed Wisconsin, by John Nelson Davidson, 1895.

Harriet Wood Wheeler: wife of Leonard Wheeler, and mother of Harriet Wheeler. ~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Harriet Wood Wheeler: wife of Leonard Wheeler, and mother of author Harriet Martha Wheeler.
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

This is a reproduction of the final chapter from Harriet Martha Wheeler’s 1903 book, The Woman in Stone: A Novel.  If you want to read the entire novel without spoiling the final chapter featured here, you can download it here as a PDF file:  The Woman in Stone: A Novel.  Special thanks to Paul DeMain at Indian Country Today Media Network for making the digitization of this novel possible for the  public to read with convenience.

“Hattie” was named after her mother, Harriet Wood Wheeler; the wife of Reverend Leonard Hemenway Wheeler.  Hattie was born in 1858 at Odanah, shortly after the events portrayed in her novel.  Hattie’s experiences and writings about the Lake Superior Chippewa are summarized in an academic article by Nancy Bunge, published in The American Transcendental Quarterly , Vol. 16, No. 1 , March 2002: Straddling Cultures: Harriet Wheeler’s and William W. Warren’s Renditions of Ojibwe History

William Whipple Warren (c. 1851) ~ Wikimedia.org

William Whipple Warren (c. 1851)
~ Wikimedia.org

"Mary Warren English, White Earth, Minnesota" ~ University of Minnesota Duluth, Kathryn A. Martin Library, NEMHC Collections

“Mary Warren English, White Earth, Minnesota”
~ University of Minnesota Duluth, Kathryn A. Martin Library, NEMHC Collections

Harriet Wheeler and William W. Warren not only both lived on Ojibwe reservations in northern Wisconsin during the nineteenth century, but their families had strong bonds between them.  William Warren’s sister, Mary Warren English, writes that her brother returned to La Pointe, Wisconsin, from school on the same boat Harriet’s parents took to begin their mission work. The Wheelers liked him and appreciated his help: “He won a warm and life-long friendship–with these most estimable people–by his genial and happy disposition–and ever ready and kindly assistance–during their long and tedious voyage” (Warren Papers). When Mary Warren English’s parents died, she moved in with the Wheelers, and, long after she and Harriet no longer shared the same household, she began letters to Harriet with the salutation, “Dear Sister.” But William Warren’s History of the Ojibwe People (1885) and Harriet Wheeler’s novel The Woman in Stone (1903) reveal that this shared background could not overcome the cultural differences between them. Even though Wheeler and Warren often describe the same events and people, their accounts have different implications. Wheeler, the daughter of Congregational missionaries from New England, portrays the inevitable and necessary decline of the Ojibwe, as emissaries of Christianity help civilization progress; Warren, who had French and Ojibwe ancestors, as well as Yankee roots, identifies growing Anglo-Saxon influence on the Ojibwe as a cause of moral decay.

Hattie’s book appears to provide some valuable insights about certain events in Chequamegon history, yet it is clearly erroneous about other such events.  According to the University of Wisconsin – Madison, Harriet’s novel is based on discovery of petrified body of Indian woman in northern Wisconsin.”  This statement seems to acknowledge this peculiar event as being somewhat factual.  However, Hattie’s novel is clearly a work of fiction; it appears that some of her references were to actual events.  At this point in time, this mystery of the forest may never be thoroughly confirmed or debunked.  

An incomplete theater screenplay, with the title “Woman in Stone,” was also written by Hattie.  It appears to be based on her novel, can be found at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center Archives, in the Wheeler Family Papers: Northland Mss 14; Box 10; Folder 19.  However, only several pages of this screenplay copy still exist in the archive there.  A complete copy of Hattie’s screenplay may still exist somewhere else yet.


"The Woman in Stone: A Novel" by Harriet Wheeler

The Woman in Stone: A Novel by Harriet Martha Wheeler, 1903.

[Due to the inconsistencies found in Hattie’s novel, we have omitted most of this novel for this reproduction.  We shall skip to the final chapter of Hattie’s novel, to the rediscovery of long lost “Wa-be-goon-a-quace,” the Little Flower Girl.  If you want to read the entire novel first, before spoiling this final chapter, you can download it here:  The Woman in Stone: A Novel, by Harriet Wheeler, 1903.  Special thanks to Paul DeMain at Indian Country Today Media Network for making the digitization of this novel possible for the  public to read with convenience.]

(Pages 164-168)

CHAPTER XX.

THE DISCOVERY OF THE WOMAN IN STONE

A hundred years swept over the island Madelaine, bringing change and decay in their train. But, nature renews the waste of time with a prodigal hand and robed the island in verdant loveliness.

lore dedication

Madelaine still towers the queen of the Apostle group, with rocky dells and pine clad shores and odorous forests, through which murmur the breezes from the great lake, and over all hover centuries of history, romance, and legendary lore.

Jean Michel Cadotte was Madelaine’s father-in-law, not husband.  Madelaine Cadotte’s Ojibwe name was Ikwezewe, and she was still alive at La Pointe, in her ’90s, during Hattie‘s childhood in Odanah.  It’s kind of disturbing how little of this Hattie got right considering Mary Warren (Madeline’s granddaughter) was basically Hattie’s stepsister.

Evolution toward the spiritual is the destiny of humanity and in this trend of progress the Red Men are vanishing before the onward march of the Pale Face. In the place of the blazing Sacred Fire stands the Protestant Mission. The settlers’ cabin supplants the wigwam. No longer are heard the voyageur’s song and the rippling canoes. This is the age of steam, and far and near echoes the shrill whistle. Overgrown mounds mark the sites of the forts of La Ronde and Cadotte. In the spacious log cabin of Jean and Madelaine Cadotte lives their grandson, John Cadotte.

"Dirt trail passing log shack that was probably the home of Michael and Madeline Cadotte, La Pointe." ~ Wisconsin Historical Society

“Dirt trail passing log shack that was probably the home of Michael and Madeline Cadotte, La Pointe,” circa 1897.
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Jean and Anastasia Cadotte had several grandsons named John Cadotte or Jean Baptiste Cadotte at La Pointe.  So did Michel and Madelaine Cadotte.

A practical man is John. He tills his garden, strings his fish-net in the bay, and acts as guide, philosopher and friend for all the tourists who visit the island.

Hildreth Huntington and his father may have been fictionalized, or they may be actual people from the Huntington clan:

The Huntington Family in America: A Genealogical Memoir of the Known Descendants of Simon Huntington from 1633 to 1915, Including Those who Have Retained the Family Name, and Many Bearing Other Surnames

by the Huntington Family Association, 1915.

On a June morning of the year 1857, John sat beneath a sheltering pine mending his fish-net. he smoked a cob-pipe, which he occasionally laid by to whistle a voyageur’s song. A shrill whistle sounded and a tug steamed around the bend to the wharf. John laid aside his fish-net and pipe and strolled to the beach. Two gentlemen, clad in tourist’s costume, stepped from the tug and approached John.

“Can you direct us to Mr. John Cadotte?” said the elder man.

“I am your man,” responded John.

Augustus Hamilton Barber had copper and land claims around the Montreal and Tyler Forks Rivers before his death in 1856.  It is possible that this father and son pair in Hattie’s novel actually represent Joel Allen Barber and his father, Giles Addison Barber.  They were following up on their belated Augustus’ unresolved business in this area during June of 1857.  This theory about the Barber family is explored in more details with Legend of the Montreal River,” by George Francis Thomas.

“My name is Huntington. This young man is my son, Hildreth. We came from New York, and are anxious to explore the region about Tyler’s fork where copper has been discovered. We were directed to you as a guide on whom we might depend. Can we secure your services, sir?” asked the stranger.

“It is also proper to state in addition to what has been already mentioned, that at, or about this time [1857], a road was opened by Mr. Herbert’s order, from the Hay Marsh, six miles out from Ironton, to which point one had been previously opened, to the Range [on the Tyler Forks River], which it struck about midway between Sidebotham’s and Lockwood’s Stations, over which, I suppose, the 50,000 tons as previously mentioned, was to find its way to Ironton, (in a horn).
~ Penokee Survey Incidents: IV

“I am always open to engagement,” responded John.

“Very well, we will start at once, if agreeable to you.”

“I will run up to the house and pack my traps,” said John.

The stranger strolled along the beach until John’s return. Then all aboard the tug and steamed away towards Ashland. John entertained the strangers with stories and legends of those romantic and adventurous days which were fading into history.

“The company not being satisfied with Mr. Herbert as agent, he was removed and Gen. Cutler appointed in his place, who quickly selected Ashland as headquarters, to which place all the personal property, consisting of merchandise principally, was removed during the summer by myself upon Gen. C.’s order – and Ironton abandoned to its fate.”
~ Penokee Survey Incidents: I

The party left the tug at Ashland and engaged a logger’s team to carry them to Tyler’s Forks, twenty miles away. A rough road had been cut through the forest where once ran an Indian trail. Over this road the horses slowly made their way. Night lowered before they had reached their destination and they pitched their tents in the forest. John kindled a camp-fire and prepared supper. The others gathered wood and arranged bough beds in the tent. They were wearied with the long and tedious journey and early sought this rude couch.

John’s strident tones summoned them to a sunrise breakfast. They broke camp and resumed their journey, arriving at the Forks at noon.

The tourists sat down on the banks of the river and viewed the beautiful falls before them.

“This is the most picturesque spot I have seen, Hildreth. It surpasses Niagara, to my mind,” said Mr. Huntington.

Preface

The preface to this novel is a photograph of Brownstone Falls, where the Tyler Forks River empties into the Bad River at Copper Falls State Park.  George Francis Thomas’ “A Mystery of the Forest” was originally published as Legend of the Montreal River (and republished here).  It suggests that the legend takes place at the Gorge on the Tyler Forks River, where it crosses the Iron Range; not where it terminates on Bad River along the Copper Range.

They gazed about them in wondering admiration. The forest primeval towered above them. Beyond, the falls rolled over their rocky bed. The ceaseless murmur of the rapids sounded below them and over all floated the odors of the pines and balsam firs.

“This description will, I think, give your readers a very good understanding of the condition as well as the true inwardness of the affairs of the Wisconsin & Lake Superior Mining and Smelting Co., in the month of June, 1857.”
[…]
“Rome was not built in a day, but most of these cabins were.  I built four myself near the Gorge [on Tyler Forks River], in a day, with the assistance of two halfbreeds, but was not able to find them a week afterwards.  This is not only a mystery but a conundrum.  I thinksome traveling showman must have stolen them; but although they werenon est we could swear that we had built them, and did.
~ Penokee Survey Incidents: IV

After dinner the party began their explorations under John’s leadership. Two days were spent in examining the banks of Bad River. On the third morning they came to the gorge. Here, the river narrowed to a few feet and cut its way through high banks of rock. The party examined the rocks on both sides. John climbed to the pool behind the gorge and examined the rocks lying beneath the shallow water. He rested his hand on what seemed to be a water-soaked log and was surprised to find the log a solid block of stone. He examined it carefully. The stone resembled a human form.

“Mr. Huntington, come down here,” he called.

“Have you struck a claim, John?” asked Mr. Huntington.

“Not exactly. Look at this rock. What do you call it, sir?”

Mr. Huntington, his son and the teamster climbed down to the pool and examined the rock.

“A petrification of some sort,” exclaimed Mr. Huntington. “Let us lift it from the water.”

The men struggled some time before they succeeded in raising the solid mass. They rested it against the rocky bank.

Wabigance: Little Flower Girl

Hattie identified this character as “Wa-be-goon-a-quace.”  In the Ojibwemowin language, Wabigance is a small flower. Wabigon or Wabegoon is a flower. Wabegoonakwe is a flower that is female.

 In Ojibwemowin, a lot of female names have qwe, kwe, quay, on the end of them to make them female. (Kwe is in reference to the head or literally “of the head”). But is is not aways necessary.

“A petrified Indian girl,” exclaimed Mr. Huntington.

The men bent low over the strange figure, examining it carefully.

“Look at her moccasins, father,” exclaimed Hildreth, “and her long hair. Here is a rosary and cross about her neck. Evidently she was a good Catholic.”

 “Holy Mother,” exclaimed John, “it is the Little Flower Girl.”“And who was she?” asked Mr. Huntington.

“She was my grandmother Madelaine’s cousin. I have heard my grandmother tell about her many times when I was a boy. The Little Flower Girl lost her mind when her pale-faced lover died in battle. She was always hunting for him in the island woods. One evening she disappeared in her canoe and never returned.”

“How came she by this cross?”

Jacques Marquette aka Pere Marquette aka James (Jim) Marquette ~ Wikipedia.org

Portrait of Jacques Marquette
~ Wikipedia.org

Father Marquette was stationed at the Jesuit mission at La Pointe du Saint Esprit on Madeline Island during 1669-1670.

“The Holy Father Marquette gave it to her grandmother, Ogonã. The Little Flower Girl wore it always. She thought it protected her from evil and would lead her to her lover, Claude.”

And so it has. The cross has led the Little Flower Girl up yonder where she has found her Claude and life immortal.

“A touching romance, worthy to be embalmed in stone,” said Hildreth.

"Barnum's Museum Fire, New York City, 1868 Incredible view of the frozen ruins of Barnum's 'American Museum' just after the March, 1868 fire. 3-1/4x6-3/4" yellow-mount view published by E & HT Anthony; #5971 in their series of 'Anthony's Stereoscopic Views.' Huge ice formations where the water sprays hit the building; burned out windows and doors. ~ CraigCamera.com

“Barnum’s Museum Fire, New York City, 1868 Incredible view of the frozen ruins of Barnum’s ‘American Museum’ just after the March, 1868 fire. 3-1/4×6-3/4″ yellow-mount view published by E & HT Anthony; #5971 in their series of ‘Anthony’s Stereoscopic Views.’ Huge ice formations where the water sprays hit the building; burned out windows and doors.”
~ CraigCamera.com

“Yes, and worthy of a better resting place,” responded Mr. Huntington. “We must take the Little Flower Girl with us, Hildreth. Her life belongs to the public. Our great city will be better for this monument of her romantic, tragic, sorrowing life.”

Over the forest road, where her moccasined feet had strayed one hundred years before, they bore the Little Flower Girl. And the eyes of the Holy Father shone on her as she crossed the silvery water where her “Ave Maria” echoed long ago. Back to the island Madelaine they carried her, and on, down the great lakes, the Little Flower Girl followed in the wake of her lover, Claude. To the great city of New York they bore her. In one of that great city’s museum rests the Woman in Stone.

Rare sighting of Wabigance at the Tyler Forks Gap. (M. Matusewic © 2013)

Wabigance below the Gorge on the Tyler Forks River.
~ Photograph by M. Matusewic © December 2013.
Reproduced with permission.

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