Wisconsin Territory Delegation: To The Far West

April 4, 2016

By Amorin Mello

The Daily Union was a newspaper in Washington, D.C., now archived online at the Library of Congress, that published a curious series of correspondences with the pen name “Morgan” during 1845.  In this series, “Morgan” included a remarkable and vicarious description of his experiences on Lake Superior and at La Pointe.  Based on the circumstances and narrative, the identity of “Morgan” is assumed to be Morgan Lewis Martin.

Morgan Lewis Martin

Portrait of Morgan L. Martin Painted by Samuel Marsden Brookes (1816-1892) and Thomas H. Stevenson. Oil on canvas, 1856.
(Wisconsin Historical Museum object #1942.37.) WHI 2786

“From the time of his arrival in Green Bay in 1827, Morgan Lewis Martin (1805-1887) was an important figure in Wisconsin. Martin was an organizer of the Wisconsin Democratic Party, a member of the territorial and state legislatures, a delegate to Congress, and a Civil War paymaster. He played a key role in the early development of Milwaukee and for almost fifty years promoted various Fox and Wisconsin River improvement projects. Brookes and Stevenson, a Milwaukee-based partnership, executed this portrait of Martin during a two-month visit to Green Bay in the summer of 1856.”

According to the Biographical Directory of the United States Government:

MARTIN, Morgan Lewis, (cousin of James Duane Doty), a Delegate from the Territory of Wisconsin; born in Martinsburg, Lewis County, N.Y., March 31, 1805; attended the common schools and was graduated from Hamilton College, Clinton, N.Y., in 1824; studied law; was admitted to the bar and commenced practice in Detroit, Mich.; moved to Green Bay, Wis., in 1827 (then a part of Michigan Territory); member of the Michigan Territorial legislature 1831-1835; member of the Wisconsin Territorial legislature 1838-1844 and served as president in 1842 and 1843; elected as a Democrat to the Twenty-ninth Congress (March 4, 1845-March 3, 1847); president of the second State constitutional convention in 1847 and 1848; again elected to the State assembly in 1855; member of the State senate in 1858 and 1859; served in the Union Army as paymaster with the rank of major 1861-1865; Indian agent 1866-1869; unsuccessful candidate for election in 1866 to the Fortieth Congress; resumed the practice of his profession; elected judge of Brown County in 1875, in which capacity he served until his death at Green Bay, Brown County, Wis., December 10, 1887; interment in Woodlawn Cemetery.

Shortly before Morgan Lewis Martin was elected to the 29th Congress, the Territory of Wisconsin passed the following Joint Resolution:

JOINT RESOLUTION relative to Mail Routes.

Resolved by the Council and House of Representatives of the Territory of Wisconsin:

That our Delegate in Congress be requested to procure the establishment of a mail route from Janesville to Racine on the United States road between those places; also one from Racine to Prairie Village in Millwaukee county; and also one from Wheatland to Racine both in the county of Racine; also one from Mineral Point in Iowa county by way of Shullsburg and New Diggings to White Oak Springs in Iowa county, also one from Madison in Dane county via Sun Prairie, Columbus, and Beaver. 113 dam to Waupun in Fond du Lac county; also one from the falls of St. Croix [to] La Point on Lake Superior; also one from Prairieville in Milwaukee county by the way of Lisbon to Limestone in Washington county; also one from Potosi by way of Hurricane and Cassville to Patch Grove in Grant county; also one from Fond du Lac, Fond du Lac county, by the way of Ceresco and Green Lake to Fort Winnebago in Portage cou nty; also one from Madison to Prairie du Chien in Crawford county -by the most direct route; also, one from Plattville in Grant county by Jamestown to Fairplay, and from Fairplay by Hazel Green to White Oak Springs in Iowa county; also, one from Millwaukee by Lisbon, Warren, Oconomewoc, Watertown and Sun Prairie to Madison ; and also, one. from Milwaukee by Hustis Rapids to Fort Winnebago; also, one from Milwaukee via Whitewater and McFadden, on Sugar River to Mineral Point.

APPROVED, February 15, 1845.

 


 

1845 daily union header

The Daily Union (Washington D.C.)
“Liberty, The Union, And The Constitution.”
June 19, 1845.

EDITOR’S CORRESPONDENCE

[From our regular correspondent.]

NEW YORK, June 16, 1845.

We have had two arrivals from China, bringing dates as late as the 13th of March; but the papers received are said to contain little news of interest.  Trade was represented as dull, except for gray cotton cloth and yarn.

78yo_Andrew_Jackson

Photographic copy of an 1845 daguerreotype featuring 78 year-old Andrew Jackson (seventh President of the United States) shortly before his death. ~ Commons.WikiMedia.org

The announcement of General Jackson’s death reached this city yesterday afternoon, and produced the deepest feelings of regret among thousands of people.  The flags on the shipping in port, and at all the places of public resort, were immediately hoisted at half-mast, as the news spread by extra newspapers over the city like an electric shock.  No doubt, arrangements will be speedily made to commemorate his death, and to express the sorrow of the people for the fall of so great a patriot, by every kind of suitable demonstration.

It is seldom in the annals of history that such men as Gen. Jackson rise up and stand out so prominently from the mass of mankind.  Whatever else may be thought of him, his devoted love of country, his integrity of purpose, his Christian purity and benevolence can never be questioned by any one.

I have no general news of importance to note.  Trade and stocks are dull; without material change in either since my last.  Indeed, we have no change to expect till the arrival of the news by the Boston and Liverpool steamer, which is now daily looked for.

I must make my letter brief to-day, as I am about getting ready for a trip to the “far West,” and when you hear from me again, it will be en route towards sunset.

Yours, very truly and respectfully,

MORGAN.

 


 

1845 daily union header

The Daily Union (Washington D.C.)
“Liberty, The Union, And The Constitution.”
June 24, 1845.

EDITOR’S CORRESPONDENCE

[From our regular correspondent.]

BUFFALO, N. Y., June 19, 1845.

Niagara steamboat by James Bard

“Niagara, Hudson River steamboat built 1845.” Painting by James Bard.

I left New York at 7, a.m. yesterday morning, on board the splendid new steamboat called “Niagara,” on her first trip to Albany as a day-boat.  She is 275 feet long on her keel, and 285 long on her main deck.  Her large engine has a stroke of 11 feet; the main cylinder is 72 inches in diameter.  She is fitted up like a palace.  She ran the distance from New York to West Point, about 55 or 60 miles, in six minutes less than three hours.  No boat runs as well when perfectly new, as when the portions of machinery subject to much friction have been worn smooth.  The “Niagara” put us down in Albany a little before 5, p.m.  Here we had to wait till 8, p.m., before a train left carrying us west towards Buffalo.  We travelled all night, and reached the latter place, 584 or 585 miles, in 36 hours from New York; or, subtracting delays, in the remarkable short space of 30 hours, running time!

I slept as well as I could in the cars; and am here, at half-past 10, p.m., after a fatiguing thirty-six hours’ travel, sitting down trying to indite something for the “Union;” but, from a heavy feeling in my eye-lids, I fear I may make a drowsy affair of it.

I found the western part of New York, and especially the country west of Utica, much better than I anticipated.  The country looked new, for one of the old thirteen.  As populous as the State is, western New York contains still much virgin soil to come into cultivation.

The staple productions appear to be wheat, rye, oats, potatoes, barley, &c.  The first article is the greatest of all.  The valley of the Mohawk is an interesting section of New York; but I think the country lying on the Genesee valley, and bordering the lakes of Cayuga, Seneca, and Canadaigua, c., by far the most interesting – and that portion especially about Seneca Falls, Waterloo, &c.  The crops looked remarkably well in color, &c.; but seemed generally rather backward for the season.  Wheat has headed very well, but does not appear very high, or to stand very thick on the ground, except in places, as the English farmers express it, I think “the heads of grain may be large and full,” if nothing happens; but “the straw will be light.”

After leaving Albany, the first place we stopped at of any note was Utica – 93 miles west of that town.  It contains about 12,000 inhabitants, and is quite a well-built and pretty place.  It is in Oneida county, much of which has been settled by industrious Welsh farmers.  The county cast a majority of about 700 votes for the democratic electoral ticket last November.

As it was 3 o’clock at night when we reached Utica, we walked out to look at the place by moonlight, and were much pleased with its appearance.

From Utica we pushed on from village to village, bearing a variety of ancient Indian, Greek, and Roman names, till we were set down at this point.

As the country is familiar to many, and has been often described, I may have, in my next, to say something more about it.  At present, I must close, or fall asleep over the paper.

Yours, very respectfully,

MORGAN.

P.S. I visit Niagara Falls to-morrow, and expect to return the same day, in time to take a boat (the St. Louis) at seven in the evening for Detroit, Michigan.

 


 

1845 daily union header

The Daily Union (Washington D.C.)
“Liberty, The Union, And The Constitution.”
July 1, 1845.

[From our regular correspondent.]

DETROIT, MICHIGAN, June 24, 1845.

On the next day after I wrote to you from Buffalo, I visited the falls of Niagara, over a railroad of 22 miles in length, running parallel with Niagara river.  We passed Black Rock, a small scattered village, which the British captured, and, whose fort they destroyed in 1813.  Schlosser was the next point of greatest notoriety, opposite the lower end of Navy island.  It now contains only two houses- an old wooden warehouse and pier, (from which the Caroline was cut out,) with one small farm-house, standing, it is said, on the site of the old French fort, erected there prior to the conquest of Canada by the English.  Schlosser is within two and a half miles of the falls.

I have not time to describe what has been so often and so well done; the character, appearances, points of view, &c., of these stupendous and wonderful cascades.  They forcibly impress upon the mind of the beholder a sense of natural awe and sublimity, probably nowhere else, over this whole earth, to be equalled.

1856 niagara falls

“Niagara Falls Terrapin Point” by Ferdinand Reichardt, 1856.
~ Buffalo History Museum

I crossed the river just below the falls, to the Canada side, and visited the battle-ground of Lundy’s Lane.  A village has since sprung up at this place, called Drummondsville, named in honor of the British general who commanded the English troops on that occasion.  Most of the battle-ground is now covered by orchards and fields.

I went with Anderson, the guide, (who says he was in the battle as a British soldier,) into an old grave-yard situated near where the British artillery stood, which Col. Miller took at the point of the bayonet.  In this grave-yard, Anderson pointed out two graves which he says contains the remains of eighteen American officers.  Why cannot American patriotism place some memorial over the graves of these brave men?  The only memorial I saw of this kind, on our side, was a painted wooden board, with a simple epitaph, inscribing the name of Captain Hull, of the United States army, stating he had bravely fallen in this battle.  Another board of a similar description, erected by the bounty of a corporal and a few privates, over the remains of an English officer, with a tomb-stone placed over Col. Cecil Bishop, of the English forces, who died of wounds received at Black Rock, are all the memorials seen at this burial-ground of Lundy’s Lane, who fell in that action.

Lieutenant-Colonel John Gordon and Captain S. B. Torrens received a monument in their memory several years later from their friend and companion, Major Barry Fox.
Niagara Historical Society No. 22 Some Graves on Lundy’s Lane By Ernest Green, page 13.

Col. Gordon, buried in the same ground, lies without a stone.  He belonged to the Royal Scotch Highlanders.  This battle cost the contending parties over 800 aside, in killed and wounded.

Having seen all worthy of note about the falls, I returned to Buffalo, and sailed at 7 p.m. the same day, on board the St. Louis, for Detroit.

We had on board a large number of emigrants and cabin passengers.  The tide of emigration setting west by the lake route is prodigious.  Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, and Indiana, seem to be the great points of attraction just now.

Having touched at Fair Port and Cleveland, we reached this place on the 22d, early in the morning; having passed Fort Malden some twenty miles below.

Detroit is a handsome and well-laid-off town, and growing continually in population and commercial importance.  It is situated on the west bank of the Detroit river, which never overflows or has any material rise or fall.  Its water, as well as that of the lakes, affords the most delicious drinking water.

This town is connected in its history with many important scenes.  Being early settled by the French, it became involved in the English and French Canadian war; and even before it became a part of the United States, it had changed its flag five times.  it was once captured by the Indians, and was burnt down in 1803.  In 1805, by the ignominious and disgraceful surrender of Gen. Hull, it fell into the hands of the English.  This even took place in the southern part of this town, the spot still being pointed out by old settlers who witnessed the transaction.  In 1813, Detroit was retaken by the Americans, when a government was reorganized, and Gen. Lewis Cass appointed its governor.

About fifty miles below this, the river Raisin empties into the lake, at a point called Monroe.  It was on this river the bloody massacre of the brave Kentuckians by Indians was perpetrated by the non-interference of the English, under whose protection they had placed themselves as prisoners of war.

At Monroe, a most fiendish and cold-blooded crime was recently committed.  it seems, a Mr. Hall, cashier of a bank at Monroe, was decoyed into the woods at night, by a man by the name of Wells, of this place, who was extremely intimate with Hall; when he shot him – once in the back of the head, and once in the back of his body.  The deed, it is believed, was committed with the diabolical design of obtaining the keys of the bank from Hall, and robbing it.  Young Hall has both balls in him, but still survives; and, strange to say, walked out a day or two since.  Wells is in prison, and, like other persons guilty of such horrid crimes, professes “insanity.”

nicollet map mississppi basin

Hydrographical basin of the upper Mississippi River from astronomical and barometrical observations, surveys, and information,” by Joseph Nicolas Nicollet, et al; published by order of the United States Senate, 1843.

Having a copy of M. Nicollet’s map of the upper basin of the Mississippi with me, I have been led to trace our boundary between this country and England, west from the northwestern shore of Lake Superior, beginning at the mouth of Pigeon river, by the late treaty of Washington; and find we have been most severely cheated in the new line, running from the point indicated to the Lake of the Woods.  Soon after parting from Lake Superior, ascending Pigeon river, we come to Hunter’s island, about the size of a large county in one of the States.  At the northwest point of this island, Pigeon river divides into two streams – one making an extensive turn to the north, while the other makes a bend to the south, uniting again at the foot of the island.  Now, by the old line of boundary, the navigation of the entire river belonged to us, with Hunter’s and other islands.  These, with the channel north of the island, which is the deepest, have, by the treaty of Washington, by some unaccountable means, been transferred to the English!  Formerly, they yielded up the Pigeon river to our traders, &c., and moved their fort from the mouth of the river some forty miles up the lake, to Thunder Bay, where they built Fort William.  They have now again come down (as they have a right to do) to Pigeon river, and interrupt the transit of our traders and people up and down its navigable channels and principal portages.  Besides Hunter’s island, we have yielded Isle La Croix, still higher up the river.  Hunter’s island is about forty miles long by thirty miles wide, with the deep channel on its northern side.  Isle La Croix is about ten miles by fifteen miles in diameter.  The line from La Croix west, is made to follow the southern chain of lakes, on the most southern part of Pigeon river, till it reaches the river above them.  It then passes to the Lake of the Woods, and from thence to the 49th degree of north latitude, and so on west.  What pretext there was for changing our boundary northwest of Lake Superior up Pigeon river, where there never was a boundary in dispute, and where the Pigeon river and Hunter’s island had for years been laid down in British maps as our property, is more than I can tell.  Those who negotiated the treaty on our side, must have been grossly ignorant of geography, or they must have been woefully overreached by the British minister.

Thomas_Douglas_5th_Earl_of_Selkirk

Thomas Douglas, 5th Earl of Selkirk, was a Scottish peer from the Royal Society of London, and established the Red River Colony along Hudson Bay (1811). This is neither the same person nor place as Alexander Selkirk’s colony on Más-a-Tierra Island, Chile, which inspired Daniel Defoe’s novel, Robinson Crusoe (1719).

The boundary line, stretching across from Lake Superior, along the Pigeon river, to the Lake of the Woods, Red river, &c., is the weakest and most exposed section of the United States.  On the Red river of the North, and north of the Pigeon river, is a large body of hardy half-breed Indians, mixed with the Scotch and Germans, who have descended from Alexander Selkirk’s colony, founded near Hudson’s Bay.  These people have about six thousand men capable of performing military duty.  They come down to the head-waters of the St. Peter’s and Mississippi rivers every season, for the purpose of hunting buffalo, accompanied with their wagons and teams, which, when they have loaded with buffalo meat, they return to their own country.  it is said, these men, with the warriors of the Indian tribes stretching west and north of the United States boundary line, number some twenty thousand fighting men, all of whom are under the control of the Hudson Bay (English) Company.  In time of war these forces might be organized and brought to bear with destructive effect upon our new upper settlements in Wisconsin and Iowa, and other portions of our northwestern territory.  To guard this weak point on our northwestern frontier, our forts are wrongly placed.  The forts Snelling, Winnebago, and Wilkins, are too far in the interior.

Government ought, as early as practicable, to adopt measures to build a strong fort at the junction of Pigeon river with Lake Superior, and then to erect detached forts along our entire line of frontier, up Pigeon river to the Lake of the Woods, and from thence along to the Red river, west.  These forts would serve to protect our northwestern settlements, and to keep the British and half-breed Indians, with Selkirk’s descendants, in check.

Let any man carefully examine a map of the country we have described, and he will see the propriety of our suggestion.

I leave here in a day or two for Mackinaw, from whence I will write again.

I am very respectfully and truly, yours,

MORGAN.

 


 

1845 daily union header

The Daily Union (Washington D.C.)
“Liberty, The Union, And The Constitution.”
July 5, 1845.

[From our regular correspondent.]

ON BOARD THE STEAMBOAT WISCONSIN,

Bound from Detroit to Mackinac,

June 27, 1845.

After spending some three or four days in Detroit, where I met with the friendly hospitality of a number of friends and acquaintances, I prepared to leave for Mackinac, at the head of Lake Huron.

FirstNationalBankDetroit1836

“Bank of Michigan Building, SW corner of Jefferson and Griswold, built 1836”
~ History of Detroit and Michigan, by Silas Farmer, 1890.

While I was in Detroit, the United States circuit court was in session, Judges McLean and Wilkins presiding.  This tribunal now occupies a very neat stone building, formerly erected and owned by the Bank of Michigan.  This bank, in winding up its affairs, fell into debt some forty thousand dollars on their interest account, which, after meeting other liabilities, they were unable to discharge.  The government, therefore, purchased this house from them at $40,000, and converted it to its present use.

A Presbyterian convention was also in session for a part of the time during my visit.

The large steamboats plying between Buffalo and the upper lakes, all touch at Detroit, to the number of two a day.  Many of these are large and splendid structures of their kind.  At this season of the year, they run very full of passengers, and, when bound west, carry out a great many emigrants, who are hunting homes in Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois.  The principal tide is drifting towards Wisconsin at the present, generally landing at Milwaukie, and pushing out into the interior.  The boats running on the upper lakes, are at present united in a combination to regular prices.  From Buffalo to Chicago, they charge as follows: for cabin passage, 12 dollars; for deck passage, 6 dollars.  Cabin to Detroit, 6 dollars; deck, 3 dollars.  From Detroit to Mackinac: cabin, 7 dollars; for deck, 4 dollars.  Meals for deck passengers charged 25 cents each, extra.

We found the Wisconsin pretty well crowded with passengers when we went on board.  Among the deck people were several farmers’ families from Sussex, in England, bound out to Wisconsin, intending to land at Milwaukie, and proceed from thence some little distance into the interior.

On the 26th instant, the United States steam-ship Michigan, and the United States garrison near Detroit, fired minute-guns during the day, in obedience to general orders, and in respect to the memory of Gen. Jackson.

The single ten-inch gun fired from the bow of the Michigan made a loud report, which reverberated along the Canadian  shore, as well as along the streets of Detroit.

"Map of the Great Western Railway of Canada, and Connections." Circa 1879. ~ TrainWeb.org

“Map of the Great Western Railway of Canada, and Connections.” Circa 1879.
~ TrainWeb.org

Should the projected railroad to extend from Lake Ontario to Windsor, opposite Detroit, and that now in progress from the latter place to St. Joseph, on Lake Michigan, be completed, it will have a tendency to make this city a great thoroughfare for travellers, &c., going west.

Leaving Detroit about 9 a.m., we continued up the river till we came to Lake St. Clair.  In our progress through it, we could see, by the aid of the glass, the bay formed on its eastern or Canadian side by the entrance of the river Thames, some distance up which, the celebrated battle was fought, which resulted in the death of Tecumseh.  Gen. Cass, who now resides in Detroit, dispensing kindness and hospitality to his friends, was in that action, with Gen. Harrison.

From Lake St. Clair, we entered St. Clair river, which is a beautiful stream, forming the southern outlet to Lake Huron.  It has cut itself a beautiful canal, on a large scale, through a level country, like Detroit river, leaving gravelly banks, of moderate elevation, on either side.  The banks of this river, and especially on the American side, are pretty thickly settled.  For some distance in the interior, on the Canada side, the Indians still remain in considerable numbers.  At one point, we passed a village of theirs, on the river.  At various points, we saw considerable parties of them, either engaged in fishing or travelling, or encamped.

In the afternoon we passed a village on the American side, called Palmer, where a Michigan volunteer company were out on parade, whose band of music greeted us with some lively airs.  Near the head of the river, we passed a missionary school and station on the English side; and near the foot of Lake Huron, Fort Gratiot.

For a mile after the St. Clair leaves Lake Huron, the current has a force of six or seven miles per hour.  Sail-vessels find it very difficult to stem it; and can only do so, when bound up, by the aid of stiff southerly winds.  This river and rapids area  serious obstacle to the passage of sail-vessels from the lower to the upper lakes.  They are said often to remain wind-bound for a week or more in this river, and at the foot of the rapids.  By aid of a tow-path along the shore, on the American side, a mile long, the length of the strongest current, I should think vessels might be pulled up by horse-power into the lake at any time.

"A painting by Paul Kane depicts an encampment on the shores of Lake Huron in about 1845." ~ The Granger Collection, New York

“A painting by Paul Kane depicts an encampment on the shores of Lake Huron in about 1845.”
~ The Granger Collection, New York

Late in the afternoon of yesterday, we entered Lake Huron, a huge inland sea.  On our right was a vast sheet of water, meeting the horizon, shutting out all sight of land in that direction. We still, however, kept in sight of the western, or American shore; although, at the distance at which we sailed from it, we could see only a small settlement now and then.

The wind, with some clouds and rain, sprung up from the NNE., and threatened a stormy night; but, as the sun went down, the wind fell, the clouds dispersed, and we had a clear, cool, and beautiful starlight night.  With conversation, and listening to some music on a piano in the saloon, the evening passed off pleasantly.

The sun this morning rose bright and clear, from the pure bosom of the lake, bringing us a fine and pleasant day.

There is no better tasted, or purer drinking-water found in the world, than that found in these lakes – and especially in the upper lakes.  They are, in fact, nothing more than pure fresh-water ocean springs.  Your coolest wells in Washington, the Croton in New York, or Schuylkill of Philadelphia, bear scarcely any comparison to this lake water.  There is one advantage to mariners navigating these inland seas – under no circumstances are they likely to suffer from a scarcity of drinking-water.

About half-past 2 to 3 p.m., we landed at Mackinac; which I found to be one of the most picturesque and beautiful places I have seen since leaving New York.

As I shall have another opportunity of writing to you from this place, I will say no more at present; but remain your very obedient and humble servant,

MORGAN.

 


 

To be continued in Mackinac and Sault Ste Marie

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