By Amorin Mello

This is a reproduction of Ancient Garden Beds of Michigan from Memorials of a Half Century, by Bela Hubbard, 1887, pages 243-261.

ANCIENT GARDEN BEDS OF MICHIGAN.*

* Read before the State Pioneer Society, February 7, 1877, and published in the American Antiquarian.

Bela Hubbard explored Lake Superior in 1840 as the Assistant State Geologist of Michigan with Douglass Houghton.

A CLASS of works of the Mound-builders exists in Michigan, of unknown age and origin, which have received the name of “Garden-Beds.”

An unusual importance attaches to these remains of a lost race, from the fact that they have been almost entirely overlooked by archæologists, and that of those which were so numerous and prominent forty, or even thirty years ago, nearly every trace has disappeared. For any knowledge beyond the scanty details hitherto recorded we are forced to rely upon the recollections of the “oldest inhabitants.” We know how uncertain this reliance often is, and were it otherwise, we cannot but recognize the rapidity with which we are losing our hold of this kind of testimony, and the very brief period of which it must cease altogether.

Archæology of the United States by Samuel Foster Haven, 1856.
Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, Sieur de la Vérendrye came to Lake Superior in 1726.

The earliest mention of these relics which I find is by Haven, in his “Archæology of the United States.” It is the report of Verandrie, who, with several French associates, explored this region before 1748. He found in the western wilderness

“large tracts free from wood, many of which are everywhere covered with furrows, as if they had formerly been ploughed and sown.”

Schoolcraft was the first to give to the world any accurate and systematic account of these “furrows.” Indeed, he is the only author of note who honors this interesting class of the works of the Mound-Builders with more than the most meagre mention. Observations were made by him as early as 1827. He gives figures of two kinds of beds, and he records the fact, that

“the garden-beds, and not the mounds, form the most prominent, and, by far, the most striking and characteristic antiquarian monuments of this district of country.”

Gazetteer of Michigan by John T. Blois.

Another writer of early date, still resident of our State, John T. Blois, published, in 1839, in his “Gazetteer of Michigan,” a detailed description, with a diagram, of one kind of the beds.

No mention is made of these remains by Priest or by Baldwin. Foster devotes to them less than a single page of his voluminus work, and only says, in effect, that “they certainly indicate a methodical cultivation which was not practised by the red man.”

Increase Allen Lapham wrote about ancient gardens in Antiquities of Wisconsin, and was involved with the Penokee Survey Incidents.

Dr. Lapham describes a few of this kind of remains which were found upon the western shore of Lake Michigan, as

“consisting of low parallel ridges, as if corn had been planted in drills. They average four feet in width, and twenty-five of them have been counted in the space of one hundred feet.”

Ancient gardens are also known to be located at Lac Vieux Desert (‘lake of the old garden’) and Gete Gititaaning (‘at the old gardens’) at Bad River.

Yet these relics constitute a unique feature in the antiquities of our country. They are of especial interest to us, from the fact that they were not only the most prominent of our antiquities, but, with the exception referred to in Wisconsin, they are confined to our State.

Some investigations, by no means thorough, enable me to define more accurately and fully than has been heretofore done the different kinds of these beds, which I shall attempt to classify, according to the most reliable information obtained. But I must first define their situation, extent and character.

The so-called “Garden-Beds” were found in the valleys of the St. Joseph and Grand rivers, where they occupied the most fertile of the prairie land and burr-oak plains, principally in the counties of St. Joseph, Cass and Kalamazoo.

They consist of raised patches of ground, separated by sunken paths, and were generally arrange in plats or blocks of parallel beds. These varied in dimensions, being from five to sixteen feet in width, in length from twelve to more than one hundred feet, and in height six to eighteen inches.

The tough sod of the prairie had preserved very sharply all the outlines. According to the universal testimony, these beds were laid out and fashioned with a skill, order and symmetry which distinguished them from the ordinary operations of agriculture, and were combined with some peculiar features that belong to no recognized system of horticultural art.

In the midst of diversity, sufficient uniformity is discoverable to enable me to group the beds and gardens, as in the following

CLASSIFICATION:

1. Wide convex beds, in parallel rows, without paths, composing independent plats. (Width of beds, 12 feet; paths, none; length, 74 to 115 feet.) Fig. 1.

 

2. Wide convex beds, in parallel rows, separated by paths of same width, in independent plats (Width of bed, 12 to 16 feet; paths same; length, 74 to 132 feet.) Fig. 2.

 

3. Wide and parallel beds, separated by narrow paths, arranged in a series of plats longitudinal to each other (Width of beds, 14 feet; paths, 2 feet; length, 100 feet.) Fig. 3.

 

4. Long and narrow beds, separated by narrower paths and arranged in a series of longitudinal plats, each plat divided from the next by semi-circular heads. (Width of beds, 5 feet; paths, 1½ feet; length, 100 feet; height 18 inches.) Fig. 4.

 

5. Parallel beds, arranged in plats similar to class 4, but divided by circular heads. (Width of beds, 6 feet; paths, 4 feet; length, 12 to 40 feet; height, 18 inches.) Fig. 5.

 

6. Parallel beds, of varying widths and lengths, separated by narrow paths, and arranged in plats of two or more at right angles N. and S., E. and W., to the plats adjacent. (Width of beds, 5 to 14 feet; paths, 1 to 2 feet; length, 12 to 30 feet; height, 8 inches.) Figures a, b, and c are varieties. Fig. 6.

 

7. Parallel beds, of uniform width and length, with narrow paths, arranged in plats or blocks, and single beds, at varying angles. Width of beds, 6 feet; paths, 2 feet; length, about 30 feet; height, 10 to 12 inches.) Fig. 7.

 

8. Wheel-shaped plats, consisting of a circular bed, with beds of uniform shape and size radiating therefrom, all separated by narrow paths. (Width of beds, 6 to 20 feet; paths, 1 foot; length, 14 to 20 feet.) Fig. 8.

 

I present diagrams of each of these classes or kinds of beds. Of these only those numbered 1, 2 and 4 have ever before been delineated, to my knowledge. (See figures 1 to 8, pages 257-261.) Nos. 3 and 5 are described by Schoolcraft and Blois, while the others are figured as well – 1 and 2 by Schoolcraft and 4 by Blois. No. 3, according to the latter, consists of five plats, each 100 feet long, 20 beds in each plat. Schoolcraft does not give the exact localities, and I am unable to state whether beds of the same class have been noticed by other observers. As to their extent, his language is, “The beds are of various sizes, covering generally from 20 to 100 acres.” Some are reported to embrace even 300 acres. Plats of beds are undoubtedly here referred to.

Of the plat figured by Blois (No. 4), the writer says:

“They are found a short distance from Three Rivers, on one side of an oval prairie, surrounded by burr-oak plains. The prairie contains three hundred acres. The garden is judged to be half a mile in length by one-third in breadth, containing about one hundred acres, regularly laid out in beds running north and south, in the form of parallelograms, give feet in width and one hundred in length, and eighteen inches deep.”

The distinctive peculiarity of these beds is what Blois calls the “semi-lunar” head, at the extremity of each bed, separated from them by a path as represented.

Class 6, so far as my own inquiries warrant, represents the form and arrangement which is most common, viz.:

that of a series of parallel beds formed into blocks of two or more, alternating with other similar blocks placed at right angles to them. (See figures a, b, and c.) The prevailing width of the bed is five or six feet, and that of the paths one and a half to two feet. The length of the plats or blocks varies, the average being about twenty feet. Gardens of this kind were found by the early settlers of Schoolcraft, the burr-oak plains at Kalamazoo, Toland’s prairie, Prairie-Ronde, and elsewhere.

Mr. Henry Little says, that in 1831 they were very numerous on the plains where now stands the village of Kalamazoo; and south of the mound, eight or ten acres were entirely covered by them.

Mr. E. Laken Brown confirms this account, and says they reminded him of old New England gardens, being very regular and even, and the beds five feet by twelve or fourteen feet. In 1832 the outlines were very distinct, and the burr-oak trees on them as large as any in the vicinity. Mr. A. T. Prouty concurs as to the extent covered, but thinks the beds were six feet wide by twenty-five to forty long. On the farm of J. T. Cobb, section 7, town of Schoolcraft, the beds were quite numerous as late as 1860. There must have been 15 acres of them on his land. The “sets” would average five or six beds each. Neighbors put the number of acres covered with them in 1830, within the space of a mile, at one hundred.

Fig. 6-b, of class 6, is from a drawing by James R. Cumings, of Galesburg, of a garden in which the beds are of more than usual diversity in width and length. H. M. Shafter and Roswell Ransom, old settlers, say that three or four acres on the edge of the prairie, at this place, were covered with the beds. On the farm of the latter in the town of Comstock, of one hundred acres, there were not less than ten acres of beds, six feet by twenty-five to forty, arranged in alternate blocks, having a north-and-south and east-and-west direction.

Fig. 6-c is from a drawing by Mr. Shafter.

The series represented by Class 7 (fig. 7) were found at Prairie-Ronde. They are platted and described to me by Messrs. Cobb and Prouty. They differ from the more ordinary form of No. 6, in the arrangement of the blocks or sets of beds, which is here not at right angles, but at various and irregular angles, also in the single beds outlying. The number of beds in each block is also greater than usual.

Class 8 is established on the authority of Henry Little and A. T. Prouty, of Kalamazoo. The figure delineated is from the descriptions and dimensions given by the former. The diameter of the circular bed and the length of the radiating ones are each twenty-five to thirty feet. The latter describes two of similar design, but of smaller dimensions, the centre bed being only six feet in diameter, and the radiating ones twenty feet. All occurred at Kalamazoo, and in immediate association with the other forms of beds at that place, represented generally by Class 6.

There is reason for supposing that there may have existed another class of beds, differing altogether from any that I have represented, from expressions used by both Schoolcraft and Blois. The former speaks of “enigmatical plats of variously shaped beds;” and further, “nearly all the lines of each area or sub-area of beds are rectangular and parallel. Others admit of half circles and variously curved beds, with avenues, and are differently grouped and disposed.”

The latter says, the beds “appear in various fanciful shapes.” Some are laid off in rectilineal and curvilineal figures, either distinct or combined in a fantastic manner, in parterres and scolloped work, with alleys between, and apparently ample walks leading in different directions.”

This language is too vague to enable me to construct a diagram, nor have I any confirmation to offer from other sources. The reputation of the writers will not allow us to consider the descriptions fanciful, but it is possible to suppose they were misled by the representations of others.

Lac Vieux Desert (‘lake of the old garden’) and Catakitekon [Gete-gitigaan (‘old gardens’)] from Thomas Jefferson Cram’s 1840 fieldbook.  This is the headwaters of the Wisconsin River, and near those of the Wolf River and Ontonagon River. 
~ School District of Marshfield: Digital Time Travelers

Were these vegetable gardens? To answer this question, we must proceed according to the doctrine of probabilities. All opinions seem to agree, that these relics denote some species of cultivation; and that they are very different from those left by the field culture of any known tribes of Indians. Nor do we find any similar remains in connection with the works of the Mound-Builders, which exist, on so extensive a scale, through the valley of the Mississippi River, although those unknown builders were undoubtedly an agricultural people.

The principal crop of the Indians is maize, and this was never cultivated by them in rows, but in hills often large but always disposed in a very irregular manner. As little do these beds resemble the deserted fields of modern agriculture. On the other hand, the resemblance of many of the plats to the well-laid out garden beds of our own day is very striking; while the curvilinear forms suggest analogies quite as strong to the modern “pleasure garden.”

The Whole & True Discouerye of Terra Florida by Captain Jean Ribault, 1563.

The nearest approach to anything resembling horticultural operations among Indian tribes, with the historic period, is noticed by Jones, who refers to a practice, among some of the southern Indians, of setting apart separate pieces of ground for each family. This author quotes from Captain Ribault’s “Discovery of Terra Florida,” published in London, 1563. “They labor and till the ground, sowing the fields with a grain called Mahis, whereof they make their meal, and in their gardens they plant beans, gourds, cucumbers, citrons, peas, and many other fruits and roots unknown to us. Their spades and mattocks are made of wood, so well and fitly as is possible.”

In the St. Joseph Valley I learned of numerous places, widely apart, where the labor and ksill of our ancient horticulturists were apparent in small gardens, laid out in different styles, and with an eye to the picturesque; as if each family had not only its separate garden patch, but had used it for the display of its own peculiar taste.

The Nahua peoples (Aztecs) are known to build Chinampas (man-made islands for gardens) in water bodies.
Penokee Gap was also the historic path for the early copper workers from Mexico, who came to Lake Superior and Isle Royale.”
~ Bad River WPA Papers, Envelope 3, Folder 9.
Penokee Gap, 1000 feet above Lake Superior, is a break in the rough country, a regular gap where the Bad River breaks through the Iron Range Hills on its way to Lake Superior. The Gap is an historic pathway through which the copper workers from Mexico and South America came to Lake Superior centuries ago enroute to the copper deposits on Isle Royal in Lake Superior.
~ Railroad History, Issues 54-58, pg. 26

Historians tell us of the Aztecs, that they had gardens in which were cultivated various plants, for medicinal uses, as well as for ornament. Was there something analogous to this in the Michigan Nation? Did the latter also have botanical gardens? May we accord to this unknown people a considerable advance in science, in addition to a cultivated taste, and an eye for symmetry and beauty, which is without precedent among the pre-historic people of this continent, north of Mexico?

These extensive indications of ancient culture necessarily imply a settled and populous community. We are led, therefore, to look for other evidences of the numbers and character of the people who made them. But here an extraordinary fact presents itself; such evidences are almost wanting! The testimony of nearly every one whom I have consulted – men who were among the first of the white race to break up the sod, that for ages had consecrated these old garden lands – agrees in the fact, that almost none of usual aboriginal relics were found; no pottery; no spear- and arrow-heads; no implements of stone; not even the omnipresent pipe. Tumuli, or burial mounds of the red man, are not uncommon, though not numerous, in Western Michigan, but have no recognized association with the garden race.

Upon the St. Joseph and Colorado rivers, and in the town of Prairie-Ronde, exist several small circular and rectangular embankments, resembling the lesser works of the Mound-Builders so numerous in Ohio. But no connection can be traced between these detached earthworks and the garden-beds. None of them seem to have been the bases of buildings, nor do they give indication of any religious origin or rites. There are no traces of dwellings, and the soil which has so sacredly preserved the labor of its occupants, discloses not even their bones!

At Three Rivers, and in Gilead, Branch County, are some ancient embankments, which are probably referable to this people and may pass for works of defence. That at the first named place was notably extensive. It consisted only of an earth embankment, about six feet in height, extending between two forks of a river, a mile apart. It thus enclosed a large area, and with a sufficient garrison might have withstood the siege of a large army of barbarous warriors.

It seems strange, indeed, that these garden beds, suggestive as they are, should be the only memorials of a race which has left such an evidence of civilized advancement, and was worthy of more enduring monuments! We may reasonably conclude, that they were a people of peaceable disposition, of laborious habits, and of æsthetic if not scientific tastes; that they lived in simple and patriarchal style, subsisting on the fruits of the earth, rather than of the chase. Their dwellings and their tools were of wood, and have perished. This simple record of their character and labors is all, it may be, we can ever know.

But is this all? May we not form some reasonable conjecture as to the period in which these gardeners lived?

Detail of “Chippewa Gardens” at Odanah from Narrative journal of travels from Detroit northwest through the great chain of American lakes to the sources of the Mississippi River in the year 1820, in 1820, by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, page 105.  This place is known as Gete Gititaaning (‘at the old gardens’) in Ojibwemowin.

Gishkitawag (‘Cut Ear’) circa 1858:
“My children, I want you to listen to me.  The proposition I am about to present will benefit all of you, and I need your cooperation.  I would like to have you donate your labor to clear land for a large community garden, where every family, or any one who wishes can plant.  The place I would suggest is that swampy flat, near the cemetery.  It will take time to drain it and dry out but I know it will make good garden plats.
~ Early Settlement of the Bad River Indian Reservation

A fact mentioned by Dr. Lapham furnishes a species of evidence, as to the relative antiquity of the garden beds of Wisconsin, as compared with the animal mounds. They were found overlying the latter; from which he infers, of course, a more recent origin. We may also suppose a considerable more recent age, since it is not likely that the race could have thus encroached upon the works of another, until long after these had been abandoned, and their religious or other significance forgotten.

The date of the abandonment of the beds may be approximately fixed, by the age of the trees found growing upon them. One of these mentioned by Schoolcraft, cut down in 1837, had 335 cortical layers. This carries the period back as far as 1502, or some years prior to the discovery of this country by the French. How long these labors were abandoned before this tree commenced its growth may not be susceptible of proof. Early French explorers do not appear to have been interested in the question, and it does not seem to me necessary to go further back than the three centuries during which that tree flourished, for a period quite long enough to have crumbled into indistinguishable dust every trace of wooden dwellings and implements, as well as of the bodies of their fabricators, if the latter received only simple earth burial.

Seven Fires Prophecy
(Anishinaabe Migration Story)
:
In the Third Fire the Anishinabe will find the path to their chosen ground, a land in the west to which they must move their families. This will be the land where food grows upon the waters.
~ The Mishomis Book – The Voice of the Ojibway by Edward Benton-Banai, Chapter 13 – The Seven Fires.
Manoomin (Wild Rice) is the food that grows upon the waters at the Kakagon and Bad River Sloughs (Third Fire) of Lake Superior.

At the time of the arrival of the French the country was in possession of Algonquin tribes, who emigrated from the St. Lawrence about the middle of the 16th century. They were ignorant of the authors of these works, and were not more advanced in the arts of culture than the other known tribes.

It is probable that the few defensive works I have mentioned were erected by this settled and peaceful race of gardeners, as places of temporary refuge for the women and children, against the raids of the warlike tribes living eastward of them. The larger one may have served for the general defence in a time of sudden and great emergency. It is probable that on some such occasion they were surprised by their savage and relentless foes, and were overwhelmed, scattered or exterminated.

Most of the facts I have been able to present are gathered, in large part, from the memories – of course not always exact or reliable – of early settlers, and after modern culture had for many years obliterated the old.

It is perhaps useless to regret that these most interesting and unique relics of a lost people have so completely perished, through the greed of the dominant race; or that they could not have received, while they yet remained, the more exact and scientific scrutiny which is now being applied to the antiquities of our land. Much that might then have been cleared up, must now remain forever involved in mystery, or be left to conjecture.

– – – – – – – – – –

In September, 1885, the writer visited the region of the ancient garden beds, in hopes of being so fortunate as to find some remaining. He did discover, near Schoolcraft, on a plat of land which had been recently cleared of its timber, a few traces of beds belonging to a set, most of which had been broken up by the plough.

Four or five beds could be distinctly traced, for the distance of some ten to fifteen feet. The remainder of their lengths, said to be some twenty to thirty feet, had been obliterated by cultivation. Each bed had a width of about ten feet from centre to centre of the intervening paths. The latter had apparently a width of two or three feet, but it was impossible to define the exact outlines.

After much inquiry I could learn of no other place in or near Prairie-Ronde, or the plains of St. Joseph and Kalamazoo Counties, where any traces of the old garden beds remained.

Mr. Cobb informed me that about 1859 he endeavored to preserve portions of a set of these beds, which were well covered by touch, protective prairie sod. But when the white grub took possession of the turf thereabouts his ancient garden reserve did not escape. In a year or two the hogs, in their search for the grub, had so rooted and marred the outlines that he ploughed the beds up.

I found many old residents who well remembered the garden plats as they appeared a half century ago, and all concurred in the admiration excited by their peculiar character and the perfection of their preservation. Mr. Cobb says, he often took his friend to see his “ancient garden,” counted the beds, and speculated upon their object. The set of beds, which is shown only partially in his sketch (Fig. 7), contained thirteen beds, and was the largest of the sets. The others averaged five or six beds each.

All concurred, too, as to the great extent of land, amounting to several hundred acres, covered, wholly or partially, by the beds, chiefly upon the northern edge of the prairie. That all visible evidence of their existence should have so completely disappeared is not surprising to any one who notes their situation, upon the richest portions of the mixed prairies and plains. The lands most esteemed by their garden race were those which first attracted the modern farmer. These lands still constitute fields as beautiful as the eye can anywhere rest upon, and in a region second in loveliness to no other part of our country. The wants of the early settler almost preclude any care for the preservation of what was regarded as mere curiosities. Even when spared from the plough, and left to the care of nature, the absence of the annual fires, which had prevented the growth of timber; the roots of trees upheaving the beds; the decay of fallen timber; the hummocks caused by upturned roots; the destruction of the turf by the forest growth, and by cattle and hogs, all tend to deface the beds, and leave them to be reduced to the general level by the elements. Under these circumstances, a few years even would suffice to obliterate outlines which had remained almost unaltered for centuries.

An Old Indian Settler

January 15, 2017

By Amorin Mello

Joseph Stoddard circa 1941.

Joe Stoddard 1941″
~ Bad River Tribal Historic Preservation Office

United States. Works Progress Administration:

Chippewa Indian Historical Project Records 1936-1942  

Envelope 19, Item 1

An Old Indian Settler

Statement of Joseph Stoddard

by James Scott

Joseph Stoddard was a Headman for the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa during the early 20th century, and a child during the 1854 Treaty with the Chippewa at La Pointe.
Joseph‘s birth-year on 20th century U.S. Census records ranges anywhere from 1849 to 1859.
Joseph married Sophia Sweet in 1875. They had multiple biological and adopted children.  Their marriage certificate lists his father as Ka-Wa-Yash and mother as Ne-Gu-Na-Ba-No-Kwa.
Joseph may have adopted the surname of John Stoddard, a government carpenter employed in Odanah by the La Pointe Indian Agency.

On the afternoon of Sunday, February 28, 1937, I visited Joseph Stoddard, one of the oldest residents of the Bad River Reservation.  He is a man of full blood Indian descent, and a full-fledged member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewas.  He has always been respected for his wisdom concerning matters affecting his fellow Chippewas; as always recognized as a headman in the councils of the band, and is today an outstanding figure.  He related to me many experiences of his early days, and has a distinct recollection of the incidents attending the closing deliberations leading up to the signing of the last treaty affecting the Bad River Band of Chippewas, which was concluded at Madeline Island, Sept. 30, 1854.

He relates: In this treaty with the Lake Superior Chippewas, Henry C. Gilbert and David B. Harriman represented the United States.  According to Mr. Stoddard‘s version, Mr. Gilbert stood at one end of a small writing table, and Chief Buffalo on the other end, joining hands in mutual grip of friendship.

Henry C. Gilbert ~ Branch County Photographs

Henry C. Gilbert
Mackinac Indian Agent
~ Branch County Photographs

Commissioner Gilbert held in his hand the signed treaty, which was rolled and tied with red, white and blue ribbons.  He expressed confidence that the Chippewas of Lake Superior and the Mississippi would always remain friendly toward the United States, and assured the Indians that the obligations of the United States under this treaty would be fulfilled to the latter.  Using the rolled treaty as a pointer, Mr. Gilbert pointed to the East, to the West, to the North and to the South.  The gesture circumscribing the Great White Father’s domain, explaining that the treaty just concluded was backed by the integrity of the U.S. and promising that the Great Father would see that the stipulations in the document would be taken care of at the time indicated.  Mr. Stoddard asks: “Has the government carried out the promises embraced in the treaties?”  And he answers his own question by saying, “No. Many of the most important provisions which were agreed upon at Madeline Island were stricken from the treaty, not at the Island, perhaps, but at some other point; and the whole document was so changed that every provision leaned to the advantage of the United States.”  Mr. Stoddard says further, “As a Christian, I dislike to say that the field representatives of the United States were grafters and crooks, but the stories related about unfulfilled treaties, stipulations entirely ignored, and many other things that the Indians have just cause to complain about, seem to bear out my impressions in this respect.”

“The Indian Reorganization Act of June 18, 1934, or the Wheeler-Howard Act, was U.S. federal legislation that dealt with the status of Native Americans (known in law as American Indians or Indians). It was the centerpiece of what has been often called the ‘Indian New Deal’. The major goal was to reverse the traditional goal of assimilation of Indians into American society, and to strengthen, encourage and perpetuate the tribes and their historic traditions and culture.”
~ Wikipedia.org

The experience of the Indians in dealing with the United States government, contends Mr. Stoddard, has been anything but satisfactory, and this is the reason why the Reorganization Act does not appeal to many of our Indians, and the experience of Indians in different parts of the country must have been similar, as on some reservations of other tribes, the Reorganization Act has not even been given serious consideration.  The Indians fear that this is just another ruse on the part of the Government to further exploit the Indians; that there is a hidden meaning between the lines, and that the Act, as a whole, is detrimental to the Indians’ interests and development.

For a person of his age, Mr. Stoddard has a wonderful memory and gives a clear portrayal of incidents connected with the treaty. He states that:

Chief Buffalo died on September 7th, 1855, which was immediately before the 1855 Annuity Payment. For more information, read Chief Buffalo‘s Death and Conversion: A New Perspective.

Chief Buffalo worked so hard during the drafting of the treaty of 1854, that he suffered a general health break-down, and lived only a short time after the completion and signing of the document.  The Chief felt highly elated after the work was completed, thinking that every word of the treaty would be carried out, affording permanence and security to his people.

“At the death of this venerable old chief, the funeral service attending his burial was very impressive.  The pall bearers were all leading warriors who had seen and experienced the strife of battle.  Those who paid tribute formed

[line(s) of text missing from bottom of page 2]

the mortal remains of the famous chief were laid to rest.

Giishkitawag (Cut Ear) signed multiple treaties as a warrior of the Ontonagon Band.  Giishkitawag became associated with Early Settlement of the Bad River Indian Reservation.
The following photo was featured as Giishkitawag from Ontonagon and Odanah in Photos, Photos, Photos.  However, the date conflicts with Joseph‘s story about his grandfather dying in 1868.
kiskitawag cut ear

Kiskitawag” in Washington D.C. circa 1880.  
Which Giishkitawag is this?  
Joseph‘s grandfather,
or Joe White?
~ C.M. Bell, Smithsonian Digital Collections

The above photo may actually be a different Giishkitawag, alias Chief Joe White, from Lac Courte Oreilles.  Read Wisconsin Historical Society’s archives or Erik M. Redix’s book to learn about the politics behind the murder of Joe White during 1894.

“After the death of Chief Buffalo, my grandfather, Kishketuhwig, became a leader of the Chippewa tribe.  He was widely known throughout the Indian country, and well did the Sioux nation know him for this bravery and daring, having out-generalled the Sioux on many different occasions.  To the whites he was known as “Cut-ear,” that being the interpretation of his Indian name, Kishketuhwig.  He was born in 1770 and died in 1868.

“When nearing his ninetieth milestone, he would call me to his bed-side many times in the evenings, and often during the day, to advise and counsel me.  Once he said, “My son, I can foresee the path that is leading straight ahead of you.  I can see that you are going to be of great value and assistance to your people.  You must make a serious effort, therefore, to familiarize yourself with the contents and stipulations of the different Chippewa treaties.  My first experience in treaty negotiations was in 1785, at early dawn one day, there far off on the blue waters of Lake Superior several strange canoes.  They were first sighted by a couple of fishermen, who were raising their nets at this early hour, on the east side of Madeline Island.  When the fishermen were sure that the approaching canoes were those of strangers, their coming was immediately reported to the thousands of Chippewa who made their homes on the west shores of the island.  The alarm was given, and a number of the most daring warriors were instructed to meet the party, and be prepared for the worst.  Chief Buffalo was also notified.

“As the party came nearer, it was noted that the fleet consisted of five large, strangely designed canoes, and at the bow of the leading canoe, stood a stalwart brave in great dignity.  In front of him, upon an upright rack, a war council pipe could be plainly seen, and as they approached the shore line the sounding of war drums were heard, and sacred peace songs were being sung as the party

[line(s) of text missing from bottom of page 3]

his hand high above his head, the gesture indicating the question, “Are we welcome to enter your land of liberty?”  One of the Chippewa warriors acting as a lieutenant, answered in similar fashion, conveying the message, “you are welcome.”

Giiskitawag‘s story begins during 1784, when he was a teenager.
These were visitors from the Wyandot/Wendat people, also known as the Iroquoian-speaking Huron nation.
Correction:
These were visitors from the Algonquin-speaking Odawa nation. Their ancestors once lived at Grant’s Point on Madeline Island with the Wyandot people as refugees during the mid-17th century.

“After the strangers pulled their canoes onto high land, the Ojibways and the visitors clasped hands in a bond of friendship, saying Na-gay-ma, meaning ‘welcome, my friend.’  After the lieutenant was satisfied that there was no mischief connected with this party, he extended them the welcome of the village.  With an apparent feeling of deep appreciation, the newcomers accepted the invitation, but indicated the wish that they preferred to prepare and eat their breakfasts first before entering the great Chippewa village.  The spokesman explained that their ancestors once lived here.

“After their breakfast was over they were escorted to the village and lead to the lodge of Chief Buffalo.  They explained the purpose of their visit, and Chief Buffalo indicated an open space where the meeting was to take place on the day following.  Runners of the village were instructed to pass this information from lodge to lodge.

“On the day of the council, there emerged from the numerous lodges, naked figures of Chippewa warriors, looking fit for whatever the occasion required, wrapped close in their gaudy blankets, and their heads adorned with American Eagle feathers.  The war-paint make-up was also conspicuous, and over the back of every brave, ‘quivers‘ were slung, while resting in the shallow of their arms were war-clubs stained with human blood.

“All were soon seated in a very wide circle upon the green grass, row after row, forming a grim assemblage.  Each warrior’s face seemed carved in stone, and no one could have detected the deep and fiery emotions hidden beneath the surface of their expressionless faces.

“In the customary manner, pipes with ornamented stems were lighted and of the visitors, a young brave, arose, and walked into the midst of the council assemblage.  He was not tall, but the symmetrical lines of his body spoke loudly of great strength and vigor.  In complexion, he was darker than the average of his race, which we learned later was due to the fact that he belonged to the black bear clan or totem.  The men and women of the Chippewa nation who belonged to the same clan accepted him as a brother and as one of the family.

“His expression was bold and confident, and as he stood in the middle of the circle, he pointed towards the heavens saying,

The United States was very young at this time while beginning to negotiate treaties with the Lake Superior Chippewa and other sovereign native nations.  For perspective, the American Revolutionary War had ended one year before with the signing of the 1783 Treaty of Paris, and the United States Constitution was not drafted until several years later during 1789.
Fort McIntosh
(Beaver, Pennsylvania)

Constructed in 1778, it was the first fort built by the Continental Army north of the Ohio River, as a direct challenge to the British stronghold at Detroit. It was the headquarters of the largest army to serve west of the Alleghenies. Its purpose was to protect the western frontier from possible attacks by the British and from raids by their Native American allies. The fort, large for a frontier setting, at one time had a garrison of about 1,500 men.
[…]
The fort was the scene of a historic event in January 1785 — the signing of the ‘Treaty of Fort McIntosh‘ by chiefs of the Delaware, Wyandot, Ottawa and Chippewa nations, along with treaty commissioners George Rogers Clark, Richard Butler and Arthur Lee. As a direct result, the way was cleared for Congress to enact the Land Ordinance of 1785. This became the pattern for ultimately opening all the western territories to boundary surveys and orderly settlement, and marked the real beginning of the westward migration that continued for the next 100 years.

~ Beaver Area Heritage Foundation
Gichi-manidoo-giizis
“Gitche Manitou Gee-sis”
“Great Spirit Moon”
“January”

‘My faith is in God, who is the creator of mankind, the maker of the heavens, the earth, the trees, the lakes and the rivers.  I am very proud that the opportunity to address you is mine.  I never thought that I would ever be accorded this privilege.  I am sent here by my father to deliver a most humble message to your chief and to your nation.  My father did not dare to leave.  He is guarding his people in the East.  The white man is encroaching upon our lands, and if he is not stopped, his invasion will soon reach you.  My father needs your assistance.  Will you join him, or will you remain passive and watch your children suffer?   It is an invitation to a national council of the Algonquin nation, and it also means that you should prepare for the worst.  The Grand National Council will take place as Sog-ga-nash-she Ah-ka-wob-be-win-ning, or English Look-out Tower, at Fort MacIntosh, on the last quarter of Gitche Manitou Gee-sis, meaning January.’

“The wampum belt consisted of cylindrical pieces of sea shells, a quarter of an inch long and in diameter less than the width of an ordinary pipe stem.  These were drilled lengthwise to permit stringing on a sinew thread.  The wampum belt was an article in general use among many tribes, not merely for ornamentation, but for graver purposes.  They played an important part in national councils and in treaty negotiations.  They were made of fragments of shells

[line(s) of text missing from bottom of page 5]

Wampum belts are used by eastern woodland Tribes as a living record of events, often between nations.

The color scheme was that of white, black with white tips, dark purple and violet.  The only time these belts were exposed was on public gatherings, such as general councils effecting the welfare of the tribes.  Only an Indian of distinction was permitted to administer the rites of the wampum belt ceremonies, and to perpetuate the history of the relation they bore to the particular council in which they were used, the belts were stored away, like other important documents.  They were generally kept in custody of some old man who could interpret their meaning.

“The brave from the East continued in loud, clarion tones:

‘My father has received a message from the Great White Father.  He said that he heard the voices of his red children pleading that they were in dire want, and in response to their entreaties he will come with a cargo of merchandise with his war vessels as soon as navigation opens.

The dish with one spoon wampum belt from the Great Peace of 1701 was a treaty between the Iroquois and Ojibwe near Lake Ontario.

‘The Algonquin Nation had agreed at one time to eat out of the same dish, so this will be our first opportunity to see what kind of a dish we are going to be offered.  I thank God for the privilege of being able to deliver this message to you.’

“The speaker raised his right hand and looked straight into the heavens.  He pivoted, and executing a right-turn, and with his right hand still held in the same position, walked back to his place and sat down.

This ceremonial pipe is different than Chief Buffalo‘s famous pipe from his 1852 trip to Washington D.C and 1854 Treaty at La Pointe, which was made shortly before The Removal Order of 1849.

Chief Buffalo ordered that the Lake Superior Chippewa War Pipe be lighted and passed around.  As it made a complete circle, the servant then presented the pipe to the strange young man.  Chief Buffalo then arose, and as he walked in the midst of the council, he pointed into the heavens, saying, ‘I leave everything to God who rules my destiny.  This is the very first time that this sacred war pipe is ever to leave this island.’  Chief Buffalo continued,

Shortly after the creation of mankind, the Great Spirit, or Gitche-manitou, sent a message to his red children, that, to insure their future security, they should establish a government of their own.  The advices of the Great Spirit were

[line(s) of text missing from bottom of page 6]

regarded sacred, and the substance of the whole was carved in a pink colored agate, a rare and beautiful stone, and buried in Madeline Island.  Incorporated in this document are the ten moral laws: Religion, tobacco, pipe, earth, wampum, herbs, water, fire, animals and forest.  The law embracing religion stipulated that a chief shall be created, selecting one whose clan is of the Albina Loon, or Ah-ah-wek or mong.  He is designated as the emancipator of the Indian race.  One selected from the bear clan, is to be a leading war general; one selected from the Bull-head fish clan, a captain; wolf clan, a lieutenant, and so on down the line.’

“Like the former speaker, Chief Buffalo, at the conclusion of his speech, raised his hand heavenward and walked to his seat.

La Pointe Band war leader:
Animikiiaanakwad
“Ah-num-me-me Wan-na-kwad”
“Thunder Head Cloud”

“The leading war general, Ah-num-me-me Wan-na-kwad, meaning Thunder Head Cloud, rose to his feet and walked to the center of the assemblage.  Gently addressing the young brave from the visiting nation, he said,

‘This sacred pipe has been presented to you.  You may take it back with you and interpret the statement you have just heard to your father, and say to your people that my great chief and his people will be fully prepared to come and assist your father.  He will bring back with him the invitation emblem, your wampum peace belt, and your war pipe.’

“Immediately one of the announcers of the tribe stepped forward and announced that on the following day a feast in honor of the visitors would be had.  The sounding of the war drums would be heard and a brave dance would take place.  He told the people that provisions were being collected for the use of their friends upon their return voyage.  Early in the morning, the day after the banquet, the strangers embarked, pointing their canoes homeward.

“During that fall many young braves were preparing to join the proposed war party.  I was making clandestine preparations myself, being then about sixteen or seventeen years of age.  I begged my grandmother to make me t least a dozen pairs of moccasins.  When I advised her of my intentions, she shed tears saying, ‘Son, you are much too young.’   I was very anxious to see real action.  Through rumors I learned that there were already eight thousand volunteers, ready to take up arms, if anything happened.  If war was inevitable, it would be the first time in the history of the Lake Superior Chippewas that they would bear arms against their white brothers.  There were more rumors to the effect that various bands were forming war parties to join their head chief at his command.

“Chief Buffalo told the runners of the various bands to deliver his message: that he needed only a few men at the outset.  He promised that he would contact someone at the Island through his spiritual power to determine the exact time he would need his army.  He advised them, however, to be on the alert.  Everyone was apparently satisfied with the plans made by the chief.

La Pointe Band war leader:
Niigaaniiogichidaa
“Neg-ga-neg O Gitch dow”
“Leading Veteran”

“It was shortly after New Years that the alarm was given by the leading war general, Neg-ga-neg O Gitch dow, that when the moon attained a certain size, the journey should be started.  Four or five days before the departure, war ceremonial dances should be held.  The chief intimated that he needed a party of only one hundred to make up a visiting party.  How I hated to ask permission from my grandfather to join this party, or even to tell him that I was planning on going.  I finally decided to keep the information from him, because I knew that I would be terribly disappointed if he refused to allow me to join the party.  Of course my grandmother was my confidant, and secretly we made the preparations.  The tension of my anxiety was so high that I was unable to sleep nights.  I would lie awake nights, listening to the beat of the war-drums, thinking that any moment the party might begin the journey.  About two days before the appointed time, Chief Buffalo selected his visiting party, which was composed of orators and councilmen.

“The night previous to the day of departure, I went on ahead.  It

[line(s) of text missing from bottom of page 8]

Gaagwajiwan
“porcupine mountains”
Okandiikan
“Ontonagon”
“buoy (marking the location of a net)”
Dasoonaaganing
“Do-nagon-ning”
“a trap; a deadfall trap”
“mouth of the Ontonagon River”

as far as the eye could discern.  I started in the direction of Porcupine Mountains, and arrived there early the next day.  After preparing, and having something to eat, I resumed my journey, my next objective being Ontonagon, or do-nagon-ning.  There I waited for the party to arrive.

“I hunted and killed four deer, and when I saw them coming I sliced the meat, and placed it on hardwood sticks, standing the meat through which the stick ran, close to the fire to roast.  I knew that my smoke would attract the party and guide them to my temporary camping place.  When the party landed, I handed a piece of meat to each of the party, and to Chief Buffalo, who gave me a grunt and a smile in acknowledgement to my greeting, I gave a piece of meat which I had especially selected for him.  I also gave him a large piece of plug tobacco, and after bestowing these favors I felt more confident that my request to join his party would be favorably considered.  I told the chief that I desired to join his party, and he gave me his assent, saying that inasmuch as I was such a good cook I might join the party.  I felt highly elated over the compliment the Chief paid me.

“After the repast, we started in the direction of Ontonagon.  For a while we walked on the ice, and then cut across the country.  It seemed that luck was with us.  On the second day of our journey we ran across a group of Indian families, and as the afternoon was well on, our leader decided to camp with them that night.  A couple of the men from this group presented tobacco to our chief, declaring that they had decided to join our party.  The women were busy making extra pairs of moccasins, and before we retired for the night, war songs were sung, and a dance was started in one of the larger wigwams.

“The following morning saw us again on our way.  We hugged the shore line closely, but very often the leader would make a short cut through the forest.  The snow as not deep enough to hinder good traveling, and on the way the men hunted for fresh meat.  A camping site was always located before the night.

Baawitingininiwag
“Ba-we-tigo-we-ni-ning-wug”
“Sault Ste. Marie Band men”

“After traveling several days we came upon an Indian village, occupied by Indians called ‘Ba-we-tigo-we-ni-ning-wug,’ meaning Salt Ste. Marie men.  We stopped at their village for a few days, and on our resuming the journey several of the men joined our party.  They seemed to know all about our journey.  I recall that on the morning of the day before we reached Fort MacIntosh, our leader commanded that we were not to travel very far that day, as he desired to arrive at Sog-ga-nash-she ak-ka-wab-be-we-ning, or the English Look-out Tower.

“During that night I got up to put some more wood into the fire place.  Pausing, I could hear a dog barking in the far distance, and I concluded that there must be an encampment of some kind in the direction from whence the dog’s bark proceeded.  I noticed also that all was talking in subdued tones.  After resuming our journey the following morning, we had not traveled very far when we came to a river.  Smoke was issuing from many different places.  One of the younger members of our party told me that the smoke rose from the camp fires of a large Indian encampment on many tribes.  In obedience to orders issued by our commander, we were to remain where we were until we received further orders.  Each man had a pack of provisions weighing about twenty pounds.  A camping site was immediately started.  We built a hundred-foot wigwam, covering it with pine, cedar, spruce, and balsam boughs.  For mattresses we used cedar boughs.  We built about ten fire places, which furnished plenty of heat when the fires were all burning.  Some gathered fuel, while others engaged in making water pails, dishes and cups, out of birch bark.  In a short time everything was ship-shape: our lodge was in complete readiness, fuel gathered and the dishes and other receptacles required were made.

The Chippewa Nation and Odawa Nation are two of the Three Fires Council known as the Anishinaabe.

“Chief Pe-she-kie then sent one of his warriors to make inquiry where the leading chief of the Ottawa Nation resided.  It wasn’t too long before the warrior returned with two strange braves, who came to invite our chief to the Ottawa camping ground.  Chief Buffalo refused, saying, ‘Not until you have held your grand council, as you said when you invited my people.’  ‘Yes,’ they answered.  ‘Our chief has been awaiting your arrival.  We shall again come, and let you know when we shall hold the grand council.’  They returned to their encampment, and the length of time they were gone was about the time it would require to burn two pipe-fulls of tobacco.  They reported back saying, ‘Not today, but tomorrow.  When the morning sun shall have reached the tree tops, the grand council shall be called to order.’  This would mean about nine o’clock in the morning.

“That evening a funny thing happened.  Two braves were placed on sentry duty, one on each end of our wigwam which was built long and narrow, the single door-ways on each end being covered with blankets.  That night everything was quiet, and the occasional hoot of an owl, or the call of the whip-per-will were the only sounds that disturbed the deep silence of the night.  I was not asleep and as I listened, I could distinctly hear a noise such as might be made by dragging some object on the ground.  I gave this matter no serious thought, as I was under the impression that one of our tribesmen was dragging poles for the fires which needed more fuel.  I found out later that one of our sentries located on the east side of the wigwam, saw someone peeping in the door-way.  The sentry was covered up with a blanket in a sitting position, and underneath his blanket he held his light war-club.  Like a flash we sprang, and taking the peeping person entirely by surprise, he tapped him on the head with his war-club, not hard enough to kill him, but with sufficient force to knock him in a state of coma for a few moments.  Tying his victim with his pack-strap, he dragged him in his wigwam and laid him lengthwise in the center of the lodge.  With the coming of day-light the next morning, some of the men rekindled the fires after which they sad down for their morning smoke.  For centuries it has been the habit of the Indians to have their morning smoke first before anything else was attempted.  Every one saw the strange Indian laying there, but nothing was said.  The party soon began the preparation of breakfast, and while all were busy, it was noticed that one of the warriors was busy, sharpening his famous scalping knife, and was edging closer and closer to the stranger.  Someone asked him why he was sharpening his knife, and he replied saying, ‘Oh, I’m going to have a good breakfast this morning.  I think I will have some nice roast meat,’ and so saying, he started to feel and examine the leg of the victim lying in the wigwam, indicating he would supply the fresh roast.  The captive became so frightened that he let out a howl and began to scream.  A couple of men then came over with a large load of fish, which they presented to the chief.  Seeing the stranger thus tied, screaming and begging for mercy, the two men who brought the fish began to show uneasiness.  The sentry who captured this man then explained just what had taken place during the night.  He said that there were two of them, but one got away.  The two braves were requested to report to their people just what happened during the night at the Chippewa camping site, find out what tribe the victim belonged, and ask them to come over and get him, or that he would die on the spot if he was lying.  It was not long before a party came with a large load of blankets and many other useful things which were offered to the chief with an apology and an expression of hope that he would overlook and forgive the actions of their two tribesmen.

“The Kickapoo people are an Algonquian-speaking Native American and Indigenous Mexican tribe. Anishinaabeg say the name ‘Kickapoo’ (Giiwigaabaw in the Anishinaabe language and its Kickapoo cognate Kiwikapawa) means ‘Stands here and there,’ which may have referred to the tribe’s migratory patterns. The name can also mean ‘wanderer’. “
~ Wikipedia.org

They belonged to the Kickapoo tribe.  Our chief interfered, saying, ‘We did not come here to collect ransom.  Go and take your child back to your home,’ and he ordered his release immediately.

“Early the next morning a runner came in our wigwam and lighted a large peace pipe.  First he made inquiry as to where the leading chief sat. 

[line(s) of text missing from bottom of page 12]

him first, and invited him to the national council, then he passed the pipe around the rest of us.

“We started across the river just before the position of the sun attained the tree tops.  The Chippewas wore blankets of bright and many colors.  Their weapons were concealed, and the quivers were the only things visible.  These were slung over the backs of the warriors.  As they arrived in the council ring, they were seated in the order of their arrival.  In the center, was a rack, which was regarded as a sacred stand, and upon this lay a large peace pipe.  This was made from light blue granite, decorated with selected eagle feathers.  The pipe itself bore an engraving of the American Eagle.

Ottawerreri was a signatory of the 1785 Treaty with the Wyandot, etc., at Fort McIntosh.

“Along towards noon twenty men entered the ring, each carrying a large kettle.  They served us three of the kettles, which were filled with well cooked food, consisting of fresh meat, fish, potatoes, squash and other edibles, which I cannot just now recall.  The ceremonial invocation was said by Chief Ottawerriri, or Ottawa Race, who walked to the center of the ring and spoke in a loud clear voice.  Saluting the heavens, he said:

I have faith in God, the Creator of mankind, and I hope that he will protect and guide us.  In two days we are invited to meet our great White Father’s children.  They tell me that they have a message which they wish to convey to us: that this message is directly from Washington.’

Zhaaganaashonzaabiwin
“Sog-ga-nash-she ak-ka-wab-be-we-ning”
“English Look-out Tower”

“According to the white man’s measurements of distance, I would say that we were about two miles from Fort MacIntosh, which the Indians called Sog-ga-nash-she Ak-ka-wob-be-we-ning, or English Look-out Tower.

Zagataagan
“Sug-ga-tog-gone”
“tinder, punk”
Niso-[????]
“Nah-sho-ah-ade”

“Three Sounding Winds”

“It was almost noon when the Ottawa chief called upon his war general, Neg-ga-neg-o-getche-dow, to deliver the Lake Superior War Pipe to the Chippewa chief.  The general rose to his feet and walked to the center of the ring.  In his hand he held the noted pipe. He filled it with tobacco and lit a good sized punk, in Chippewa Sug-ga-tog-gone, which was to be used in lighting the pipe later.  As the general placed the punk in the pipe, he made four circles around the council ring and ended by handing the pipe to Chief Buffalo.  The Chief took the pipe, and after drawing three or four puffs or whiffs from the pipe, and after drawing three or four puffs or whiffs from the pipe, handed it to one of his attendant chiefs, Nah-sho-ah-ade, the interpretation of whose name being ‘Three Sounding Winds.’  This chief rose to his feet, and coming to an erect position, addressed the assembly saying:

‘I trust in God.  He has heard me.  What pledge I made to you and my people, I am here ready to carry out and to stand by you.  Whatever may happen, my people, and the other Indian nation, are ready to obey my command.’

“He then ordered his leading war general to light up the Ottawa war pipe, which he did.  Then he went through the same performance as the Ottawa war general, except in the hollow of his are the Ottawa Wampum peace belt and presented both the pipe and the peace belt to the Ottawa war chief who accepted them, smoked for a minute or two, then stood up and thanked our chief.  A short prayer was offered by one of the Ottawa headmen, at the conclusion of which everyone said: ‘Oh’, meaning ‘Amen’. Then all the people assembled for the morning meal.  The prayer uttered by the Ottawa headman was a festive ceremonial offering.  After dinner the chief of the Ottawa nation bid all to adjourn and return to their camping sites until summoned to visit the fort.

[Giizhig??????]
“Kie-shik-kie-be-be-wan”
“sound of the Indian War Eagle”

Early one bright morning, shortly after the break of day, we heard the sound of the Indian War Eagle, Kie-shik-kie-be-be-gwan.  The meaning of this was clearly understood by all of the Algonquin nations.  Shortly after the bugle call, a runner came to tell the chief that each tribe was to leave immediately after finishing breakfast for the white man’s council house.  We hurried with our breakfasts and as soon as we were through we started out for Sog-ga-nash-she Ak-ak-wob-be-we-ning, or the English Look-out Tower.  When we got near there, all I could observe was a sea of eagle feathers, which were really the head-gears of those already there.  So magnificent were the head-gears, and so numerous were the eagle feathers adorning them, that a birds-eye view of the assembled group presented rather a field of eagle feathers than a group of warriors, or counselors.

Zhimaaganishag
“She-mog-gun-ne-shug”
“white soldiers”

“We were about the last party to arrive, and in a few minutes the meeting was called to order.  This white man’s wigwam was a packed house.  No business was taken up that day, the purpose of the meeting being to promote better acquaintance among the different bands. Runners from the various bands were invited to follow a few She-mog-gun-ne-shug, or soldiers.  Our runners asked me to accompany them, and the white men brought us to another white man’s wigwam.  I was never so surprised in all of my life, and in all of my days I never saw so much food stuffs.  The soldiers told us through interpreters that our Great White Father was going to feed us from now on.  They invited us to take anything that our chiefs and warriors could eat.  Out of pure astonishment I hesitated for a moment.  I didn’t know which way to move, or how to get started.

“I saw before me a large quantity of fresh pork, and spreading the top blanket I had on me, upon the ground, I placed several large pieces of the meat on the blanket, as well as tea, sugar, tobacco, and some bread which was as hard as the hip bone of a horse.  The interpreter laughed at me, and told me to take some, saying

Bakwezhigan
“Ba-tay-be-qua-zhe-gun”
“hard tack”
“bannock, bread”

‘When you cook your meat, put the bread in with it.  I know you will like it.  The white man likes it that way, and calls it Ba-tay-be-qua-zhe-gun or hard-tack.’

“Just as we were about to go, one of our men came in and offered to [??? ??? ???] told him to take a couple of the large kettles to cook with which he did.  He told us that we might just as well go to our camping grounds, as he had been instructed to come and tell us that nothing further would be done officially by the conference for several days.  Arriving at our camp site, we cooked a bountiful meal, including meat, potatoes and hominy, which we brought from the fort earlier in the afternoon, and when the rest of the party arrived we had our supper.

Commissioner Johnson is not listed as a signatory of the 1785 Treaty at Fort McIntosh, and could not be immediately identified elsewhere for this post.

“In about a week or so we were again notified that the council was to convene the following morning, that matters of vital importance were to be taken up, and that the council would be called to order by one of the white father’s children.  We started early on the morning of the day indicated.  When we got there, everything was in readiness and the council began in earnest.  Johnson, representing the United States government, arose, and after making his salutation, he said:

‘I bid you a hearty welcome to this place, and I ask, pray and trust that the Great Spirit will allow us to meet in this friendly spirit more frequently.  The Great White Father has now let down the bars, thus enabling all the tribes to meet his representatives in one common community, for the purpose of discussing the problems which affects them individually or as a tribe.  The Great White Father is your guardian and adviser, and henceforth all of you are under his protection.’

Wyandot leader Ha-ro-en-yan” could not be immediately identified for this post.  He may have signed the 1785 Treaty using a different name.
Niijiikinisayenh
“Ne-gie-chi ne-cieh”
“my greatest brother”
Nishiime-[weshki?ag]
“Ne-she-may-yence-see-doug”
“my young brothers”
Niijiibeshwaji’
“Ne-gie-ki-wayzis”
“my friendly brother”

“Mr. Johnson remained standing as Chief Ha-ro-en-yan, of the Wyandot Nation, arose and began to speak: ‘I respectfully request that the Lake Superior Chief, Ne-gie-chi ne-cieh (meaning my great brother), make the opening address.’  He also remained standing until Chief Buffalo stood up and addressed the gathering, thus: ‘Ne-she-may-yence-see-doug’ (my young brothers), and turning to Commissioner Johnson, he continued, ‘Ne-gie-ki-wayzis,’ (my friendly brother),

If your intentions are right and earnest, the Great Spirit will know; and if you neglect these promises in the future, he will punish you severely.  I have in my right hand a peace pipe made from a birth rights of the blue-blood clans of the Lake Superior Chippewas.  I am going to fill this sacred pipe, but before I light it I am going to tell you what my ancestors conveyed to my forefathers, and that is this: Many generations ago, long before the white man ever conceived the idea that the world was round, and that across the Atlantic new lands might be found, our great ancestors knew of the white man’s coming in the future.  Standing on the shores of the great Atlantic, they saw the coming of a strange craft, fluttering many white wings, and at the bow of the craft they saw a white man standing, holding in his hand a book — the word of God.  The build of this white man was the same as the Indians’, the only difference being that his complexion was light, or white, and that hair grew on his face.  Gitche-manitou, the Great Spirit, spoke to these old Indians, telling them that those they could see coming from the far East were their brothers, and that they should treat they courteously when they landed.  I shall light this noble pipe, and pledge again our friendship to the White Man, if you will carry our your promises.’

“Chief Buffalo then lit the sog-ga-tog-gon (punk), placed it on top of the tobacco in the pipe bowl, and making a circle with the pipe covering the four points of the compass, he presented the pipe to Mr. Johnson.  He received it with bowed head, and after taking a few whiffs, he returned it to Chief Buffalo, who in turn handed it to the Wyandot chief.  After the Wyandot had taken several puffs, he returned the pipe to Chief Buffalo, who now also took a few whiffs from it.  The Chippewa war general then stepped up, and the peace pipe was handed to him to pass to the chiefs and warriors, and to the other white men participating in the council.  Commissioner Johnson still stood up, and requesting the attention of the assembly, reached out his right hand to Chief Buffalo in token of friendship, saying

‘I am the proudest man that ever stood on two legs.  The pleasure of grasping your hand in this friendly spirit is all mine; and I only hope that we, as well as the rising and future generations, will always continue in this spirit of harmony.  Before returning to the Great White Father I must have some evidence to show what I have accomplished here, and I have therefore prepared a document for your acknowledgement.  In this document are embodied the promises the Great White Father has made to you through me.  It describes the boundary lines of your lands wherein you may hunt at will and in peace, and you may rest assured that the promises held out in this document shall be fulfilled to the letter.’

“After the treaty had been signed, a peace pipe ceremonial was performed, as a sanctification of the work done there.  Immediately thereafter the distribution of goods and food began, and the leading chiefs of each tribe were instructed to deliver a message to their people, that as soon as the water-ways became navigable, more goods would be delivered to various points for distribution to the Indians who were parties to this treaty.

Nabagidaabaan
“Nab-bug-gie-dob-bon”
“toboggan”

“We lost no time in returning to our homes in Madeline Island.  It was then the latter part of February.  To handle their loads better, the Indians made tobaggons, or Nab-bug-gie-dob-bon.  I had a large load of goods on my tobaggon, and when I got home a distribution was made to our relatives and friends, making an equal division of the goods and food I had brought.  As far as I can now recall, that was the last benefit we ever got out of the treaty so solemnly concluded.”

“The foregoing is an account of the activities of the Indians within the dates mentioned, part of which was related to me by my grandfather, and a part relating my own experiences.  In conclusion, I wish to state a few facts concerning the establishment of the Bad River Reservation.

The survey of The Gardens at Odanah is featured in the Joel Allen Barber Papers.  Joseph Stoddard would have been working for Augustus Barber and George Riley Stuntz as they surveyed the Bad River Reservation during the winter of 1854.

“In the winter of 1854 a general survey was made of the Bad River Indian Reservation.  My father was a member of the survey crew, but was unable to take up his work on account of the fact that he injured himself while he

[line(s) of text missing from bottom of page 18]

“As he could not join the survey crew, and realizing that I owed my parents a debt for the many sacrifices they made in my behalf in the early period of my life, I determined to join this party if possible.  I asked my father to speak to the foreman for me, and when my application was accepted, no one in the world was happier than I was.  I was happy in the thought that I would be able to support my family, and reciprocate to a small extent, at least, for their care of me from infancy.

“A half-breed Frenchman, named Antoine Soulier, was the cook.  The crew consisted of five white men, and about the same number of Indians.  My duties were to provide water for the crew, and to attend to the chores around the camp.

Gichi-ziibiiwishenhnyan (“Ke-che-se-be-we-she”) is Oronto Creek at Saxon Harbor.  This is the same place as the Ironton townsite in the Barber Papers and Penokee Survey Incidents.
1854 Treaty with the Chippewa:
2nd Clause of Article 2;
“For the La Pointe band, and such other Indians as may see fit to settle with them, a tract of land bounded as follows: Beginning on the south shore of Lake Superior, a few miles west of Montreal River, at the mouth of a creek called by the Indians Ke-che-se-be-we-she, running thence south to a line drawn east and west through the centre of township forty-seven north, thence west to the west line of said township, thence south to the southeast corner of township forty-six north, range thirty-two west, thence west the width of two townships, thence north the width of two townships, thence west one mile, thence north to the lake shore, and thence along the lake shore, crossing Shag-waw-me-quon Point, to the place of beginning. Also two hundred acres on the northern extremity of Madeline Island, for a fishing ground.”
Township 46 north, Range 32 west is near Kansas City, Missouri.

“It did not take very long to run the original boundary line of the reservation.  There was a crew of surveyors working on the west side, within the limits of the present city of Ashland, and we were on the east side.  The point of beginning was at a creek called by the Indians Ke-che-se-be-we-she (large creek), which is located east of Grave Yard Creek.  The figure of a human being was carved on a large cedar tree, which was allowed to stand as one of the corner posts of the original boundary lines of the Bad River Reservation.

“After the boundary line was established, the head surveyor hastened to Washington, stating that they needed the minutes describing the boundary for insertion in the treaty of 1854.

“We kept on working.  We next took up the township lines, then the section lines, and lastly the quarter lines.  It took several years to complete the survey.  As I grew older in age and experience, I learned to read a little, and when I ready the printed treaty, I learned to my surprise and chagrin that the description given in that treaty was different from the minutes submitted as the original survey.  The Indians today contend that the treaty description of the boundary is not in accord with the description of the boundary lines established by our crew, and this has always been a bone of contention between the Bad River Band and the government of the United States.”

Detail of La Pointe Band Reservation including Gichi-ziibiiwishenhnyan in a letter dated March 30th, 1855, from the Commissioner John Wilson of the General Land Office to General Surveyor Warner Lewis at Dubuque, Iowa: "For the Lapointe and other Indians, the body of land on the shore of Lake Superior, immediately west of Montreal river together with 200 acres on the Northern extremity of Madeline Island (all full colored blue on diagram A.) under the 2nd clause of the 2nd Article of the Treaty." ~ National Archives Microfilm Publications; Microcopy No. 27; Roll 16; Volume 16.

Detail of La Pointe Band Reservation including Gichi-ziibiiwishenhnyan (Saxon Harbor) in a letter dated March 30th, 1855, from the Commissioner John Wilson of the General Land Office to General Surveyor Warner Lewis at Dubuque, Iowa:
“For the Lapointe and other Indians, the body of land on the shore of Lake Superior, immediately west of Montreal river together with 200 acres on the Northern extremity of Madeline Island (all full colored blue on diagram A.) under the 2nd clause of the 2nd Article of the Treaty.”
~ National Archives Microfilm Publications; Microcopy No. 27; Roll 16; Volume 16.

 

An Incident of Chegoimegon

November 26, 2016

By Amorin Mello

Report and Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. For the years 1877, 1878 and 1879. Volume VIII., pages 224-226.

This is a reproduction of “An Incident of Chegoimegon – 1760” from Report and Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin: For the years 1877, 1878 and 1879. Volume VIII., pages 224-226.

AN INCIDENT OF CHEGOIMEGON – 1760.*

We have been permitted to extract the following from the journal of a gentleman who has seen a large portion of the country to the north and west of this place, and to whose industry our readers have been often indebted for information relating to the portion of country over which he has passed, and to transactions among the numerous tribes, within the limits of this territory, which tend to elucidate their characteristics, and lay open the workings of their untaught minds:

Mooningwanekaaning-minis:
Island of the Northern Flicker;
Isle de la Ronde;
Madeline Island.
1744 Belin isle de ronde

Detail of Isle de la Ronde from Carte des lacs du Canada by Jacques-Nicolas Bellin; published in Charlevoix’s Histoire et Description Générale de Nouvelle France, Paris, 1744.

Monecauning (abbreviated for “Monegoinaic-cauning,” the Woodpecker Island, in Chippewa language) – which is sometimes called Montreal Island, Cadott’s Island, or Middle Island, and is one of “the Apostles” mentioned by Charlevoix. it is situated in Lake Superior, about ninety miles from Fond du Lac, at the extremity of La Pointe, or Point Chegoimegon.

On this island the French Government had a fort, long previous to its surrender to the English, in 1763. It was garrisoned by regular soldiers, and was the most northern post at which the French king had troops stationed. It was never re-occupied by the English, who removed everything valuable to the Sault de St. Marie, and demolished the works. It is said to have been strongly fortified, and the remains of the works may yet be seen.

In the autumn of 1760, all of the traders except one, who traded from this post, left it for their wintering grounds. He who remained had with him his wife, who was a lady from Montreal, his child – a small boy, and one servant. During the winter, the servant, probably for the purpose of plunder, killed the trader and his wife; and a few days after their death, murdered the child. He continued at the fort until the spring. When the traders came, they enquired for the gentleman and his family; and were told by the servant, that in the month of March, they left him to go to their sugar camp, beyond the bay, since which time he had neither seen nor heard them. The Indians, who were somewhat implicated by this statement, were not well satisfied with it, and determined to examine into its truth. They went out and searched for the family’s tracks; but found none, and their suspicions of the murderer increased. They remained perfectly silent on the subject; and when the snow had melted away, and the frost left the ground, they took sharp stakes and examined around the fort by sticking them into the ground, until they found three soft spots a short distance from each other, and digging down they discovered the bodies.

Other versions of this tragic incident are cited in The Story of Chequamegon Bay:
“New France was tottering to her fall. The little garrison on Madelaine Island had been withdrawn from the frontier, with many another like it, to help in the defense of the lower country ; and the Upper Lakes, no longer policed by the fur trade monopoly, were free plunder for unlicensed traders, or coureurs des bois. Doubtless such were the party who encamped upon the island during the autumn of 1760. By the time winter had set in upon them, all had left for their wintering grounds in the forests of the far West and Northwest, save a clerk named Joseph, who remained in charge of the stores and the local traffic. With him were his little family,—his wife, who was from Montreal, his child, a small boy, and a man-servant, or voyageur. Traditions differ as to the cause of the servant’s action,— some have it, a desire for wholesale plunder; others, the being detected in a series of petty thefts, which Joseph threatened to report; others, an unholy and unrequited passion for Joseph’s wife. However that may be, the servant murdered first the clerk, and then the wife; and in a few days, stung by the piteous cries of the child, the lad himself. When the spring came, and the traders returned to Chequamegon, they inquired for Joseph and his family, but the servant’s reply was unsatisfactory and he finally confessed to his horrid deed. The story goes, that in horror the traders dismantled the old French fort as a thing accursed, sunk the cannon in a neighboring pool, and so destroyed the palisade that to-day naught remains save grassy mounds. Carrying their prisoner with them on their return voyage to Montreal, he is said to have escaped to the Hurons, among whom he boasted of his deed, only to be killed as too cruel a companion even for savages.29″
“29 See the several versions of this tale, Wis. Hist. Colls., viii., pp. 224 et seq.; and Minn. Hist. Colls., v., pp. 141-145, 431-432.  Warren says that some Chippewa traditions ascribe this tragedy to the year 1722, but the weight of evidence is as in the text above.”
William Whipple Warren attributed his version of this story to Michel Cadotte and John Baptiste Corbin.

The servant was immediately seized and sent off in an Indian canoe, for Montreal, for trial. When passing the Longue Saut, in the river St. Lawrence, the Indians who had him in charge, were told of the advances of the English upon Montreal, and that they could not in safety proceed to that place. They at once became a war party, – their prisoner was released, and he joined and fought with them. Having no success, and becoming tired of the war, they sought their own land – taking the murderer with them as one of their war party.

They had nearly reached the Saut de St. Marie, when they held a dance. During the dance, as is usual, each one “struck the post,” and told, in his manner, of his exploits. The murderer, in his turn, danced up to the post, and boasted that he had killed the trader and his family – relating all the circumstances attending the murder. The chief heard him in silence, saving the usual grunt, responsive to the speaker. The evening passed away, and nothing farther occurred.

The next day the chief called his young men aside, and said to them: “Did you not hear this man’s speech last night? He now says that he did the murder with which we charged him. He ought not to have boasted of it. We boast of having killed our enemies – never our friends. Now he is going back to the place where committed the act, and where we live – perhaps he will again murder. He is a bad man – neither we nor our friends are safe. If you are of my mind, we will strike this man on the head.” They all declared themselves of his opinion, and determined that justice should be rendered him speedily and effectually.

They continued encamped, and made a feast, to which the murderer was invited to partake. They filled his dish with an extravagant quantity, and when he commenced his meal, the chief informed him, in a few words, of the decree in council, and that as soon as he had finished his meal, either by eating the whole his dish contained, or as much as he could, the execution was to take place. The murderer, now becoming sensible of his perilous situation, from the appearance of things around him, availed himself of the terms of the sentence he had just heard pronounced, and did ample justice to the viands. He continued, much to the discomfiture of the “phiz” of justice (personified by the chief, who all the while sat smoking through his nose), eating and drinking until he had sat as long as a modern alderman at a corporation dinner. But it was of no avail – when he ceased eating he ceased breathing.

The chief cut up the body of the murderer, and boiled it for another feast – but his young men would touch none of it – they said, “he was not worthy to be eaten – he was worse than a bad dog. We will not taste him, for if we do, we shall be worse than dogs ourselves.”

William Morrison and his younger brother, Allen Morrison, were both employed at Fond du Lac by John Jacob Astor for the American Fur Company.

Mr. Morrison, who gave me the above relation, told me he had it from a very old Indian, who was present at the death of the murderer.

 


L’Anse Qui-wy-we-nong
L’anse Keweenaw;
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community.

* – This paper was originally published in the Detroit Gazette, Aug. 30, 1822. Hon. C. C. Throwbridge of Detroit, a resident of that place for sixty years, states that Mr. Schoolcraft, without doubt, contributed this sketch to the Gazette; that Mr. Schoolcraft, at the time of its publication, was residing at the Saut St. Marie: and Mr. Morrison, who was one of Mr. Astor’s most trusted agents at “L’Anse Qui-wy-we-nong,” came down to Mackinaw every summer, and thus gave Mr. Schoolcraft the information.

L. C. D.

By Amorin Mello

This is a partial reproduction of<strong> <br /> <em>Western Reserve and Northern Ohio</em></strong><br /> <em> <strong> Historical Society</strong></em><br /> <em><strong>[Tract] Number 41</strong></em><br /> <em> <strong> Ancient Earthworks - Northern Ohio</strong></em><br /> by Charles Whittlesey, circa 1877<br /> as published in<br /> <a href="https://books.google.com/books?id=EawKAAAAIAAJ" target="_blank"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Western Reserve Historical Society Publication, Volume 2</span>,</strong></a><br /> pages 38-39.

This is a partial reproduction of 
Western Reserve and Northern Ohio
Historical Society
[Tract] Number 41: Ancient Earthworks – Northern Ohio
by Colonel Charles W. Whittlesey, circa 1877,
as republished in
Western Reserve Historical Society Publication, Volume 2,
pages 38-39.

INDIAN RECORDS.

Kundickan autobiography

Autobiography of Okandikan

Autobiography of Kundickan, a Chippeway Indian.

The subjoined pictorial record of his life, was made many years since by a Chippeway of Lake Superior.  He delivered it to the Hon. A. C. Davis, of Detroit, who placed it in the Museum of the Natural Science Association of that place where it is now.  The tracing was made in October, 1875, by Bela Hubbard, of Detroit.  The engraving is from a photograph by E. Decker of Cleveland, reduced to one-third the original size.

The signs or characters are cut with a knife on both sides of a flat piece of sugar maple wood, less than one-fourth of an inch thick, wrought out by the Indian himself, for this purpose.  The upright lines at a, a, a, appear to be divisions in the narrative, for the purpose of grouping events.  He explained to Mr. Davis that this board contained the principal occurrences of his life, which any other Chippeway could read.  How it should be read, whether from right to left or the reverse, or whether the inverted parts are to be taken in connection with those below, is not settled.  The partitions A and B are colored vermillion red.  It corresponds with the general character of the Indian pictorial writing, of which numerous examples are given by Schoolcraft, and shows a close relation to the rock inscriptions of the United States.  It embraces the usual variety of uncouth men, animals, and implements which characterize the rock sculptures.  Between the two sides of the board there does not appear to be any connection in regard to the sentences or paragraphs, though there must be as to dates.  They are all, without much doubt, the work of people in the condition of savages.  I saw this Indian on the Ontonagon river in 1845. He purported to have seen Alexander Henry in that region in 1769-70, who was engaged there in mining for copper and silver.

Okandikan pictograph, reproduced from birch bark by Seth Eastman, and published in Historical and statistical information respecting the history, condition, and prospects of the Indian tribes of the United States by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, 1851.

“Pictograph C. Okundekund and his Band of Ontonagon – Michigan,” as reproduced from birch bark by Seth Eastman, and published as Plate 62 in Historical and Statistical Information Respecting the History, Condition, and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States, Volume I., by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, 1851. Okandian’s pictograph petition was one of several from the 1849 Martell delegation:
“By this scroll, the chief Kun-de-kund of the Eagle totem of the river Ontonagon, of Lake Superior, and certain individuals of his band, are represented as uniting in the object of their visit of Oshcabewis. He is depicted by the figure of an eagle, Number 1. The two small lines ascending from the head of the bird denote authority or power generally. The human arm extended from the breast of the bird, with the open hand, are symbolic of friendship. By the light lines connecting the eye of each person with the chief, and that of the chief with the President, (Number 8,) unity of views or purpose, the same as in pictography Number 1, is symbolized. Number 2, 3, 4, and 5, are warriors of his own totem and kindred. Their names, in their order, are On-gwai-sug, Was-sa-ge-zhig, or The Sky that lightens, Kwe-we-ziash-ish, or the Bad-boy, and Gitch-ee-man-tau-gum-ee, or the great sounding water. Number 6. Na-boab-ains, or Little Soup, is a warrior of his band of the Catfish totem. Figure Number 7, repeated, represents dwelling-houses, and this device is employed to deonte that the persons, beneath whose symbolic totem it is respectively drawn, are inclined to live in houses and become civilized, in other words, to abandon the chase. Number 8 depicts the President of the United States standing in his official residence at Washington. The open hand extended is employed as a symbol of friendship, corresponding exactly, in this respect, with the same feature in Number 1. The chief whose name is withheld at the left hand of the inferior figures of the scroll, is represented by the rays on his head, (Figure 9,) as, apparently, possessing a higher power than Number 1, but is still concurring, by the eye-line, with Kundekund in the purport of pictograph Number 1.”

Inscriptions on Clay Banks, Bad River, Ashland County, Wis.

picto2

2

picto1

1

A few representations of recently inscribed figures are given for the purpose of comparison with ancient stone inscriptions.  A short distance below the portage, across a long, loop-like bend of the Mashkeg or Bad river, above the Odanah Mission, is a perpendicular bluff of clay, on the west bank of the stream.  Steep clay and sand bluffs are common through the flat country below the Falls of Bad River.  This one has been sheltered by a thick fringe of growing trees, from the wearing effects of storms.  It presents quite a smooth, upright face of dry clay; that is easily cut with a knife, about fifty feet long, and about ten to fifteen feet long, and about ten to fifteen feet high.  This space is completely covered with picture records, made by the Chippeways.  No doubt many of them are old, but most of them have been made recently, or by men now living, often obliterating or cutting new inscriptions over old ones.

picto4

4

picto3

3

In my explorations on the waters of Bad river in 1846, 1849, and 1860, I passed them repeatedly, but having other objects in view, made only a few sketches.  The effigies are grotesque outlines of animals, canoes, birds, fishes, men, women, trees, and other objects, animate and inanimate.  My Indians and some of the half-breed voyageurs, professed to be able to read them.  They said it was expected that every young man, when he was old enough to become a warrior, should retire to some solitary place and undergo a fast.  The length of time he could do without food was a test of his bravery.  Sometimes he perched in a tree, day and night, or sat on a rock or on a high mountain, without fire or shelter, in order to show his contempt of pain and exposure.  In due time he naturally had visions, in which his destiny or chart of life, was disclosed.  Weak constitutions are unable to fast more than three or four days.  When the incipient warrior had satisfied himself that his mission on earth was fully disclosed to him, he returned to the tribe and was received a man.  Their version of this ceremony, and its consequences agrees generally with that of Chingwauk to Mr. Schoolcraft in 1839, as related in vol. 1, pages 13-14, of his “North American Indians.”  The symbols of his destiny were generally put upon record, in such a manner and in such a place as he saw fit, but generally on trees or rocks, along a traveled route.  In some cases a full statement of the vision or visions, was written out in this pictorial mode, with his dodem or “totem” attached.  I remember the meaning of only one, of which figure No. 2 forms a part.  The tree with nine branches, and a hand pointing upward, signifies that the party making it had fasted nine days.

picto5

5

There is nothing in their customs to prevent other messages being left in such places.  Their records include nothing historical in regards to the nations or their chiefs.  Such matters are perpetuated by repetition from the old to the young, until every young man is thoroughly crammed.  General story telling, and the recital of their traditions, is the literary life work of an Indian.  His memory is a mental record, transmitted from generation to generation.  The fidelity of such records is, however, very far from reliable.

Figures one to five are random copies from a large number of the Bad river effigies, not made to scale, but they are fair representatives of Indian pictography.

By Amorin Mello

This is a reproduction of Colonel Charles W. Whittlesey’s article, “Two Months in the Copper Region,” as published in the National Magazine and Industrial Record, Volume II., Number IX., February 1846, by Redwood Fisher, pages 816-846.  For more information about these places and people, please refer to Copper Harbor, The Copper Region, and Copper Harbor Redux in the Wisconsin Territory Delegation, which occurred only a few weeks previous to Whittlesey’s experience.

 


 

The National Record and Industrial Record

TWO MONTHS IN THE COPPER REGION.

"Studio portrait of geologist Charles Whittlesey dressed for a field trip." Circa 1858. ~ Wisconsin Historical Society

“Studio portrait of geologist Charles Whittlesey dressed for a field trip.” Circa 1858.
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

It was on the 14th day of August, 1845, that our party went on board a light and well-built yawl, of about four tons, moored in the still water above the rapids of the St. Mary’s river. We were venturing upon an experiment. We could not learn that such a craft had ever put forth alone upon the waters of Lake Superiour, and our intention was, to follow the south coast as far as the season would permit. For hundreds of years this lake had been navigated by the bark canoe, and parties were setting off every day for Copper Harbour, La Pointe, and other remote points, in these apparently frail vessels, but which the experience of centuries, in these apparently frail vessels, but which the experience of centuries had demonstrated to be the safest conveyance known. The Mackinaw boat had long traversed these shores, transporting goods to the Fur Company’s posts, and returning with furs.

These long, narrow, flat-bottomed boats, carry a heavy burden, go well before the wind, and are easily drawn ashore. The bark canoe, as well as the Mackinaw boat, has no keel, and the safety of both consists in being able to make a harbour of every sand beach, in case of a storm. The expert voyager, has a kind of second sight in regard to weather, smelling a storm while it is yet a great way off. It is only when a great saving may be made, and the weather is perfectly fair, that he ventures to leave the vicinity of the shore, and cross from point to point, in the open sea. These passages are called “traverses;” and such si the suddenness with which storms arise, that a traverse of 10 or 15 miles, even in fair weather, and while every indication is favourable, is regarded as a hazardous operation. Some daring boatmen make them of 30 miles.

Of course, the birch canoe and the Mackinaw boat, being without keels, cannot sail upon the wind. Our yawl, with a keel of four inches, having nine men and about a ton of provisions aboard, sank about 16 inches in the water. She was provided with a cotton square-sail, containing about 40 square yards, and had row-locks for six oars. How she would row – how she would sail, and how she would brave the storm, we could only surmise, and the surmises were rather against the little vessel.

The portage, over which goods now pass, from the level of Lake Huron to that of Lake Superiour, is a flat, wet, marshy piece of land, about three-fourths of a mile across. To the westward, the country appears to be low and swampy, as far as the view extends; which, however, is limited by the thick timber, principally spruce, pine, white cedar, birch, and hemlock. But a walk of one mile, in that direction, brought me to a low eminence, rising out of a cedar swamp, composed of masses of rolled granite and other primitive rocks, in size from a small pebble to a diameter of ten feet. The timber among them had been lately blackened by a raging fire. The trunks of these charred trees, some standing erect, some leaning against others, and many prostrate on the rocks, contrasted hideously with the white and nakedness of those immense granite boulders, which covered the surface.

Detail of Sault Ste Marie from Carver [Jonathan], Captain. Journal of his travels with maps and drawings, 1766. ~ Boston Public Library

Detail of Sault Ste Marie from Carver [Jonathan], Captain. Journal of his travels with maps and drawings, 1766.
~ Boston Public Library

On the north and east, in the province of Canada, a high range of mountains extends, in each direction, out of sight. They were first visible at the head of St. Joseph’s island, having the jagged outline of trap-rocks. The view from the low ground, on the American side, towards the high land across the river, is extensive and gratifying. In front is the river, a mile broad, and the rapids. At the opposite shore, the establishment of the Hudson’s Bay Company, half commercial, half military, with a stockade and white houses. For several miles down the river, there are houses on the bank, and farms extending back, at irregular distances, up the mountains. Here the traders, voyagers, missionaries, factors, Indian agents, and Indians, reside promiscuously – such is the foreground of the view. Behind and beyond rise the mountain ranges, in that pure atmosphere perfectly distinct at the distance of twenty miles.

Our tents were struck at 7 o’clock, A.M., and the journey began. There were other parties scattered about the open space at the warehouse; some had regular tents, some sheltered themselves under a broad piece of India rubber cloth, stretched over a pole like the roof of a house. One party had a conical tent, with an upright pole in the centre, the canvass spread out around the foot; and another, in default of other covering, lay snoring under a cotton bedtick, stretched across the bushes. A party of surveyors were encamped near the landing, from a cruise of three months in the interiour. This party had run a tier of townships, from Mackinaw, northward, into sections of one mile square. These men encamped a few days at this place, to recruit their tattered garments, of which only the shreds and fragments remained. In enterprises of this sort, it is only by physical energy, and great powers of endurance, that the contractor can realize any thing from the prices allowed by Government for its original surveys. They provision themselves, by carrying all on their backs, from the depots on the shore. The thickets through which they pursue their work, week after week, and month after month, would be declared absolutely impracticable to a person not trained in that school, especially in the vicinity of the lake. No beast of burden could pass without bridges, even in case a pathway should be cut through the matted evergreens that cover the ground. To make a path for a horse or mule, would consume more time and labour per mile than the survey itself. There is a hardy class of Frenchmen and half-breeds, cousin-german to the Canadian voyageur, called “packers;” they were bred in the service of the Fur Companies, to carry goods from the nearest landing to the trading post, and return with a pack of furs. The surveyors found these packers indispensable to their operations. They will carry from 50 to 70 pounds, and can travel along in the recesses of the forest, without fear of losing their way.

They are patient, cheerful, and obedient; in fact, they are on land what the voyageur is upon the water. His capacity for food corresponds with his ability to endure fatigue, and his great care is to secure it in sufficient quantity. He makes, with a little instruction, an excellent axeman and chainman. If circumstances prevent a return to the camp, or the rendezvous, he can lie down at the foot of a tree, sleep till daybreak, and resume his tramp without complaint.

George Catlin Indian Gallery

The party which joined our encampment here, was a subject for Catlin, the Indian sketcher. More hale, hearty, and jovial fellows, never broke into the limits of civilization. The northern atmosphere had tinged their cheeks with red, they were all young and active men, glowing with that high animal life, that extreme buoyancy of spirits, which is a stranger to the inhabitants of cities – to those who toss upon feather beds, and live upon soups and comfits.

1641 journey of Father Isaac Jogues and Charles Raymbault to the Sault.

This rugged company, full of fun and frolic, with beards of three months’ cultivation, in red flannel shirts, and fustian trowsers in shreds, white beaver hats, less the border, some in shoes, some in moccasins, and some in boots, from all of which various toes were looking out surprised even the worthy burghers of the Sault. The Sault St. Marie has been a trading post more than two hundred years. The good Catholics Ramboult and Jonges, preached preentance to the Nodowessies, or Sioux, on this spot, in 1641, whom the French traders immediately followed. Here it may be said the borders of civilization have been fixed for two centuries. In consequence, a mixed race has arisen, neither the representatives of refinement nor of barbarism, but of a medium state. It may well be supposed, that a band of jolly fellows, habited as we have described these hardy surveyors, axemen, chainmen, and packers, would not attract here that attention which they would in New-York, or in London. But they appeared to be objects of no little interest and curiosity to the worthy inhabitants of the Sault, especially as some of them were so disfigured that their old friends did not recognize them.

"Ojibwa village near Sault Ste Marie" by Paul Kane in 1845. ~ Wikipedia.org

“Ojibwa village near Sault Ste Marie” by Paul Kane in 1845.
~ Commons.Wikimedia.org

Looking back from the water, upon the collection of tents and lodges, we had a view of the group at one glance, and the scene from the new point of observation suggested ideas that had not presented themselves while we formed a part of it. Around some of the camp-fires were gentlemen from the Atlantic shores, with genteel caps and surtouts, shivering in the raw wind of the morning. Poor fellows ! impelled by the hope of wealth to be found in the copper region, they had rushed, at steamboat rates, to the extremity of navigation, of taverns, and permanent habitations.

The reality of copper exploration had now commenced. A night of drizzling rain and fog had been passed, in a cold tent, on wet ground. Among them were seated voyageurs and half-breeds, as happy as a plenty of grub could take them. The raw wind was no annoyance to them, so long as there was a flint and steel to start a fire, and a plentiful stock of provisions. Between the cap and surtout, and the flannel shirt and canvass trousers, was every grade of men represented by a grade of habiliments.

In front of this motley collection of persons and things, lay the frame of a large schooner, on which fifty workmen were laying the plank – all its timbers and lumber brought from the lower lakes; and in the open level space beyond, along a track cleared through the swamp, stood the spars of a vessel, advancing on solid land towards the basin above the falls. This labour and expense of bringing vessels over land, or the timber to construct them with, is unavoidable. As far as known, there is not ship timber enough on Lake Superiour to build a schooner.

The rock which causes the rapids is a close, fine-grained, red sandstone, in thin layers, pitching to the northward. There has been much diversity of opinion among geologists, about the geological position of this rock. As I proceed, I shall again notice this rock, and its analogue, which occupies almost the entire south coast of this lake.

Map of Ohio including the Connecticut Western Reserve, the First Principal Meridian, and the Base Line. Drawn by Jerome S. Higgins, 1887. ~ Wikipedia.org

Map of Ohio including the Connecticut Western Reserve, the First Principal Meridian, and the Base Line. Drawn by Jerome S. Higgins, 1887.
~ Wikipedia.org

The 1st principal meridian of the U. States surveys, comes out on the waters of St. Marie’s, at the ship yard, just above the rapids. This is a true meridian, run with great care from the base line, which is about 12 miles north of Detroit. The 1st meridian is about 30 miles west of Detroit, and passing up through the peninsula of Michigan, crosses the straits near Mackinaw. By the Government system of rectangular co-ordinates, referred always to a given base and meridian, an observer knows his exact position, wherever he may be, in the surveyed portions of the U. States. Every township is six miles square, every section one mile square, every quarter section half a mile square. Every section [corner] has permanent marks on some adjacent tree, which gives the situation of that corner from its proper base and meridian. I make this explanation, to give light upon terms that I shall use hereafter. In traversing the American shore of Lake Superiour, we found, as far as the Porcupine Mountains, west of the Ontanagon, that the surveyors had preceded us. During the present and the past year they had extended the township lines to this distance along the coast, and for a part of this distance had subdivided the townships into sections. These surveys had been carried to different distances, interiour. From the base, near Detroit, numbering northward, St. Marie’s is in township No. 47 North, range No. 1 East. But our point of embarkment was on the west side of the meridian, in town 47 North, range 1 West, or 282 miles north of the base line.

Gros Cap Conservation Area
Tahquamenon Falls State Park

We are now fairly under way, and shall be able to keep our reckoning. The river expands, as we ascend against a very gentle current; the shores are low and swampy, or sandy, and covered with stunted pines. In an hour and a half, so easily did our boat row, we were at “Point Aux Pins,” on the British side. At ten o’clock, we were on shore at the “Gros Cap,” looking up a spar, and clambering the red granite ridge, which here projects towards the American shore – the extremity of that range of mountains in view from the rapids, to the eastward. From the height of 500 feet, we could see the continuation of this range, westward, into Michigan, until its summit were lost int eh mist. The western extremity of the American range is “Point Iroquois,” nearly opposite “Gros Cap,” where the Chippeways, by their ancestors, fought a great battle with the Iroquois, long before the French came into these waters. The range is called the “Tequamenon Mountains,” overlooking for some 20 miles a deep bay, known as the Tequamenon Bay. The waters about “Gros Cap” are so clear that the bottom is seen from 50 to 60 feet below the surface.

Ile Parisienne Conservation Reserve

Before leaving this inhospitable crag, we set fire to a windfall about about two years of age, and consequently in a fine state for a conflagration. This was not done through any republican contempt of the British Queen, or her territory, but from pure benevolence towards subsequent travellers exploring “Gros Cap.” It lay between the ridge and the bay, in a swamp so thickly covered with prostrate trees that one might go a quarter of a mile on them without touching the ground, unless an unlucky misstep should precipitate him into the mud beneath. At one o’clock, we were at “Isle Parisien,” a low island, five miles long, cooking a dinner, and procuring a better spar.

We succeeded here so well in fitting our sail, that the traverse of 15 miles to “White-Fish Point,” ordinarily a hazardous voyage, was safely and pleasantly made, a little after dark; and the wind, though light, being still fair, we ran into the lake without landing, and made along the shore. We were now upon the largest body of fresh water on the globe; called by the Indians, Kitche-goming, by the French, Superieur, or Upper, and corrupted by the English into “Superiour.”

The moon shone dimly through a heavy sky, the water was merely ruffled by a warm southern breeze, and in the distance the flame of the burning windfall shone conspicuously above the mountains.  On the Michigan side, several large tracts of burning timbers were seen on the hills, at the head of Tequamenon Bay.  It was determined to proceed as long as the wind continued favourable, but in a short time it failed altogether, and we went ashore at half-past eleven, and encamped.  The ground here lay in a series of low sand ridges, with scattered pines.  Distance from the Sault, 45 miles.

At sunrise every thing was on board, and the sail spread before a fair wind.  Along the beach, the surf has piled a ridge of water-washed granitic gravel, five to six feet high, the deep water holding out quite to the shore.  In coasting, in an open boat, the traveller must resign all hope of regularity of hours, of meals, and of sleep.  His sovereign is the weather: when that is calm, he may proceed with the “white ash queen,” as the sailors say: when the wind is ahead, he can take his ease – provided he is safe on shore!  But, when it is fair, he must always be before it.  The prevailing winds along this shore are from the west, at this season; and, consequently, they are ahead as you go up the lake.

Breakfast on board, upon cold beans, cold pork, and hard bread.

Two Hearted River

Towards evening, the wind came so strong ahead as to oblige us to put into the mouth of “Two-Heart” river, a stream sufficiently deep to float a large vessel inside the bar, but not deep enough to carry the yawl with her load.  Of the streams discharging into the lake from the south, only two or three are known with open mouths.  At most of them it was necessary to lighten the boat and haul her over, with about the same labour and discomfort as though there was no channel; but once inside, a quiet harbour was always found.  These mouths are so completely sealed up, and concealed by sand ridges, tat persons may pass them within ten rods of shore, and not discover that a creek is there.

The shore is composed of low monotonous sand ridges; with stunted pines.  The bluff is from 50 to 80 feet high, presenting a stratified edge of sand, inclined gently to the east, not exceeding 10 feet in a mile.  The ridges run from the interiour nearly perpendicular to the direction of the shore.

We passed several fishing huts, now deserted, with a plenty of empty salt barrels and fish scales scattered around.

A little east of the mouth of the creek we observed, in toiling up, several picketed enclosures, among the pines, on a beautiful ridge.  They were Indian graves, thus strongly guarded to keep out the beasts of prey.  There are those who doubt whether the Indian is susceptible to the delights of taste – whether he enjoys a bright morning, a clear and moonlight night, a mountain, a vale, or a beautiful river.  Was it mere accident that placed this burying-ground upon so enchanting a spot?  The lake is about 40 rods distant in front, and about as many feet below the site of the graves.  Through the open trees you see its waters, as plainly as if there was no intervening timber – while the shade of its branches is perpetual upon the spot.  Even the lowest ripple on the beach reaches the ear as distinctly as the angriest roar of the waves.  Every breath of air that moves to and from the lake – the evening and the morning breeze, as well as the northern tempest, plays audibly upon the long and evergreen leaves of these ancient pines.  At the head of each grave is a flat shingle or board, with emblems, painted in red, or rudely carved with a knife.  On one, there are tree red cross-bows, and two human figures – representing a man and a woman, (doubtless a husband and wife,) with clasped hands.  On the reverse, a bear – probably the sign or token of the deceased.  On the top, three eagle quills.  Some have crosses – indicating that a good Catholic sleeps below.

At an early hour on the morning of the 16th we got out of “Two-Heart” river through a light sea, determined to try the “ash breeze” against the west wind; but, after a couple of miles hard rowing, the regular breeze prevailed: we could no longer make headway, and put about.

Notwithstanding the sand-flies and moschetoes, it was comfortable to lie down once more upon the green grass and fragrant wintergreens of that shore.  The weather was warm and heavy.  Some wandered through the sand-hills and stumps; some, wrapped in blankets as a defence against the flies, sought in vain for sleep; others, with the fishhook and artificial fly, rowed up the creek in pursuit of speckled trout.  A good dinner and supper of these fish was the result of the expedition.

At 8 P.M. the wind became more favourable, and the boat was headed up the coast.  At 10 the weather became thick, and running ashore at random, we had the first trial at hauling our craft out of the water by main force.  She proved to be as easily handled on land as a Mackinaw of the same capacity; only requiring more care.  In camp, we turned her over – one gunwale resting on the sand, about thirty feet from the surf; the other set upon sticks, after the fashion of a trap.  Under this we all crawled, spread our blankets, and some of the party went to sleep.

Josiah R. Dorr
Daniel P. Bushnell was stationed at the La Pointe Indian sub-Agency.
Mike, Martin, Charley, and Patrick cannot be identified without further biographical information.
Martin appears to be Ashland’s co-founder Martin Beaser, who formerly worked in the whaling industry:
“[Martin] engaged in sailing on Lake Erie from Buffalo to Detroit until 1847, when he went in the interest of a company in the latter city to Lake Superior for the purpose of exploring the copper ranges in the northern peninsula of Michigan. He coasted from Sault Ste. Marie to Ontonagon in a bateau. Remaining in the employ of the company about a year, he then engaged in a general forwarding and commission business for himself.”

Mr. J. R. Dorr, of Detroit, the principal of the expedition, had seen something of this kind of life.  Mr. D. P. Bushnell , of the same place, had long been Indian agent at La Pointe; and was, of course, familiar with the country and this mode of travelling.  Another gentlemen, well known on the lakes for his wit and vivacity, qualities that generally attend an excitable temperament, not being accustomed to tents, boats, and camps, found it rather uncomfortable.  The sand, so soft and yielding to the foot, was as hard as a rock to the bones.  The grinding of the gravel, thrown incessantly about by the waves, gave out a grating sound that had no tendency to sooth a man to rest; especially one who had been accustomed to the quiet of the third story of a boarding-house.  Besides, there was some chance of the props giving out, and the trap springing upon the legs, arms and bodies projecting from beneath.  Mike, an old soldier who officiated as cook; Martin, a sailor just from the whaling grounds of the Northwest Coast; Charley, a giant from the Low Countries, and Patrick, the other hand seemed to pay no attention to the hard bed, the cold wind, the noisy waves, or to the doubtful props.  A sprightly young clerk of the company, fresh from the counter, though swollen and tormented by the poison of the sand-flies, took the matter like a veteran, and slept like an opium-eater.

About noon the next day we passed the “Grand Marais,” a Bay 40 miles from White-Fish Point, with six feet water on the bar, and a fine harbour.

Two men had left St. Marie’s the day before we did, in a small, but neat and clinker-built boat, with two masts and a wide keel.  They were wholly unacquainted with the difficulties that lay before them; yet one of them, by the name of Axtel, had been exposed in the same boat 48 hours to the fury of a Lake Michigan storm, and therefore felt a confidence in fate.  neither of them had been on Lake Superiour, and therefore knew little of its harbours, rocks, and storms.  Their supplies were salt pork and bread, their furniture a camp-kettle.

Passing Grand Marais, before a smart breeze, we saw their fire in the harbour, and shortly their sail, coming up astern.  Here the low, regular, dear shore of sand, suddenly changed to a lofty wall of the same material, rising from the water’s edge, as steep as it will lie, to the height of 400 feet.  For 20 miles back, there had been seen near the water’s edge a stratum of pebbles, inclined, with the sandy stratum above it, to the eastward.  Now the strata of sand rest on a bed of clay, with the same inclination, but only a few feet in the mile.  The Grand Sable struck us with the more force, because of the sudden transition, from a low, uninteresting shore, to a bold, lofty, regular scarp, four times the height of the tallest trees.  But there were upon this Sable no trees or other vegetation, either on the face towards the lake, which was nearly perpendicular, or upon the summit – all was one black pile of sand; yet so clear, so regularly stratified, and so beautifully variegated, by colours, white and red, that the prospect was not deary, but rather sublime.  Imagine a straight wall of pure sand, four miles long, and four hundred feet high; the base lashed by a rough sea, its top enveloped in a heavy mist, through which rounded hillocks of white wind-blown drift occasionally rise, as the eye reaches, mile after mile, over the country behind.  To me, this sight was more grand and curious than the Pictured Rocks.  Whence came this mass of sand?  Its upper portion has apparently been moved about by winds; its lower portions appear to be too solid to be thus moved.  Was it not in remote ages, like the low sands we have passed, but extending much further into the lake.  A prevailing north wind, with sufficient force to move the sand at the surface, would overcome vegetation, and, like the current of a river, transport the particles incessantly in one direction.  By this means the sand would pile higher and higher, and the lake always encroaching at the foot, would increase the height of the bluff shore.

The “Sable” overlies, on the west, a variegated sand rock, coarse grained, and easily broken, pitching slightly to the eastward.  This is the first rock west of White-Fish Point.  The stratification is imperfect, the colour, an irregular mixture of grey and red.

Turning one of the rocky points west of the “Grand Sable,” a stiff gale from the west put an end to further progress, and gave warning of a storm.  The only expedient in such an emergency, is, to beach the boat, and draw her out of the reach of the waves.  It is an operation not always agreeable; because, while loaded, she cannot be run upon dry ground; and, to be unloaded, the goods must be taken through the water to the shore.  On this occasion the wetting process had been gone through with, two hours before, during a heavy fall of rain.

Our baggage was scarcely safe on land when the wind blew furiously, and our two friends in the sail-boat appeared, endeavouring to make the shore, as the sea had risen so much, that a landing was at this moment not only uncomfortable, but a little hazardous.

As the storm increased, our fires began to burn brightly.  Near the boats, was a little dell, sheltered by a low ridge of sand, where our tents were pitched, and all made dry and comfortable, while the gale heightened into a tempest.

On the next day, progress was impracticable, and being well provided, we determined to give an entertainment.  our friends were invited at 1, P.M.  They had bean soup, boiled ham, tea and coffee, bread, and pickles.  The quantity consumed, probably exceeded that of ordinary dinners, as much as it does at the annual meals of the Aldermen of New York, and London.  As to style, there were tin cups and pewter platters, knives and spoons.  For tables, there were the knees of the guests and a spare box; forseats, camp stools and bundles.  The entertainment continued with great glee about two hours, and passed off with as much sociability and mirth as though it had been given at the Astor.

After the first hour had been spent in the enjoyment of this cheer, our guests began to refuse dishes, by way of politeness; but the ex-Indian agent put all such hesitation aside, by relating what he had done and seen in the Indian country.  There was one example of an Indian eating half a bushel of wild rice at a meal.  Another, of a half-breed, who was sent out to bring in a deer that had been killed some miles from the post.  The half-breed lost his way, and slept in the woods one night.  The next day, in the afternoon, he came in without the deer.  He was asked where he had left it.  “Ugh ! got him – do you s’pose a man is to starve.”

One thing is certain – in this high latitude, with its pure and healthy climate, where the enervating effects of heat upon digestion are unknown, men may eat with impunity what would be fatal to them at the south.

In commemoration of the feast, a little trout brook, which empties there, was named “Pickle Creek,” and the names of the party, neatly carved on a neighbouring birch.

William Smith vs. Earl of Selkirk
False Imprisonment

One of the our guests is the son of a former sheriff in Canada, who made the journey from St. Marie’s to Fort William, by land, in the winter of 1816.  The object of this trip, through a region so rough and forbidding, in the severity of the cold season, was the execution of a warrant upon Lord Selkirk, then in possession of that post.  Fort William is situated about the middle of the north shore, nearly opposite the east end of Isle Royal.  The warrant was issued from the King’s Bench, and had reference to some of those acts of violence that occurred between the “Hudson’s Bay Company” and the “Northwest Company.”  The sheriff, whose name was [Smith], at last reached the fort, with ten men.  Selkirk professed to hold, and to fight, under the ancient chartered rights of his ancestors; and when Smith presented his authority for the arrest, Selkirk fell back on his charter.  Smith offered the authority of the King’s Bench; Selkirk claimed to be outside of all civil jurisdiction, and replied: “If you do not believe in my charter, here is my authority,” pointing to about 50 men, who were ready to do battle in such emergencies.  He continued: “Instead of my being your prisoner, you are mine.  I will treat you and your men well, yet you must take quarters in the block-house till I leave here.”

Accordingly, the sheriff was obliged to remain in custody about five months, until the opening of the season.

The timber about Pickle Creek is black and white birch, a few stunted white maples, white and yellow pine, mountain ash, spruce, balsam of fir, balsam of spruce, white cedar, and hemlock; none of it large enough to be valuable.

Grand Island National Recreation Area

The next morning at 4, with a fair wind, we were on the water, having Grand Island in sight, at daybreak.  This island is high and bold, like the Pictured Rocks, which lie on the mainland opposite.  It bears sugar maple in profusion, and has one family (that of Mr. Williams) residing upon it; he is a thrifty farmer and trader.  The variegated sandstone, as well as I could determine, here plunges to the west, and passes under the strata which compose the Pictured Rocks.  The lamented Dr. Houghton regarded the red or variegated sandstone of Lake Superiour, as older than the “old red sandstone.”  The Pictured Rock stratum he considered the equivalent of the “Pottsdam sandstone” of the New York Reports.  This rock comes to the shore, about twenty miles in length, and has a thickness of at least five hundred feet.  Grand Island is an outlier on the north.

The following is a section from the water’s edge upward, taken by the eye, at the highest point, which, according to Captain Bayfield, is 300 feet.

whittlesey geological section pictured rocks

It will now be readily seen, how the perpendicular faces of rock are caused, which have given this passage such a frightful aspect.  Vertical walls of smooth, gray rock, 200 to 300 feet high, passing to unknown depths beneath the surface; in places worn into large caverns, in others, coloured in fantastic, yet grim figures, half real and half imaginary, yellow, green, and black; shapes neither animal, nor in the likeness of any thing else that is natural, but so near the natural, as to give rise to the idea of monsters, griffins, and genii.  Such are the Pictured Rocks, before which the Indian thinks of his Manitou, and the Frenchman crosses himself with profound reverence.

The soft conglomerate (No. 1) yields to the incessant wear of the wave, which, rolling from deep water, strikes with great power.  When the undermining process has extended a few yards, the hard stratum next above falls, and with it the superincumbent mass.  Much of this dissolves away in time, leaving the fragments of No. 2 visible, in great blocks, at various depths beneath the surface.  The colours are furnished by the dripping solutions of iron, in the state of oxyde, carbonate, and sulphate; by moss growing upon the face of the rocks, and probably by the green carbonate of copper.  The niches, caves, and angles, follow naturally from a rock of different degrees of hardness, acted upon by the same disintegrating force.  At the mouth of a creek, where the trail from “Bay De Noquet,” (called Bodenock,) on Lake Michigan, strikes this lake, there is a hard silicious slate, approaching to flint, dark in colour, and imperfectly stratified.  This bed, which appears to be limited, lies low, near the water.

Passing these dreaded rocks, the principal harbour of Grand Island, and the farm of Mr. Williams, come in view.  For refuge in bad weather, this island must, in future time, be of great advantage to vessels.  It has several large and deep harbours, and of itself forms a good lee, in almost all weather.  On the mainland, opposite Mr. William’s, is a solitary cabin, the agency of the American Fur Company.

Between Grand Island, on the west, and the shore at Train River Point, there are two low islands, that appear to be formed of the red sandstone.  At the point, this rock forms the shore, and has a rapid dip to the eastward, say 150 feet in the mile; evidently running under the Pictured Rocks, and therefore an older formation.  Here it enclosed occasional pebbles of quartz, agates, and fine-grained sandstone.

The wind, which had been fair all day, on turning the point came strong ahead, against which we had hard pulling about five miles, to the mouth of Train river.  our craft proved to be a fast sailer, easily beating the little clinker of our friends, before the wind; but those dauntless fellows did not rest, until, at the end of the day, they drew her into the same harbour with us.  Train river, like many others, has deep water inside, but only a few inches at the entrance.  Wherever we set foot on shore, the remains of previous travellers were seen.  Here, the poles of many Indian lodges were standing, and the bones of a bear lay around, indicative of a feast.  There were, also, dwarf cherries and whortleberries.

"Geological Map of the District Between Keweenaw Bay and Chocolate River, Lake Superior, Michigan." By John Wells Foster, circa 1849-1854. ~ Huntington Digital Library

“Geological Map of the District Between Keweenaw Bay and Chocolate River, Lake Superior, Michigan.” By John Wells Foster, circa 1849-1854.
~ Huntington Digital Library

Passing out of the bay, in the morning, a range of mountains were visible, the ends presenting themselves near at hand, and the principal range extending westward, toward Chocolate river.  From the outline, I conjecture that they are composed of primitive rocks.  At the shore, the strata are still the variegated sandstone, very much tilted with thin beds of shale interstratified; apparent dip, to the northward.  Making a long traverse from Train River Bay, at 5, P.M., we entered a magnificient harbour, between projecting points of granite rocks; and coasting along inside some islands, soon saw that there was a very safe and spacious shelter for shipping still further inland, accessible in any wind, with deep and quiet water inside.  This bay is sometimes called Presque Isle.  It commences about two miles north of the mouth of “Riviere des Morts,” six or seven miles northwest of Chocolate river, and extends to Granite Point.

Mr. Dorr being quite ill, our party remained a day.  The boat anchored in a quiet nook of the harbour.  Granite rocks were projecting on all sides, through the red sandstone, scorched and whitened at the points of contact.  In the rear, were seen rugged mountains, covered with evergreens.  This was regarded as the commencement of the copper region.  Accordingly, myself and Martin sallied forth in the morning, to spy out the mineral wealth of the spot.  On the south point of the bay, to our great satisfaction, we discovered a piece of green carbonate, about the size of a pea, in the hard, green stone trap; but a little further on, found, also, evidences of prior occupation, in a log cabin covered with birch bark, a small patch of chopped land, and a pen made of poles, which enclosed two or three hills of potatoes, and some stalks of green peas.  Pursuing our way along the shore, to Dead Men’s river, we found a permanent fishing establishment, and two comfortable houses, now deserted and locked up.

The country adjacent, for two or three miles, is low and swampy, with sand ridges between the swales; and at the mouth of the river, heaps of granite rocks.  It was soon evident that the surveyors had been this way, and that very recently.  At the south point of the bay, was a stake, on the dividing line between sections Nos. 1 and 2, town 48 north, range 25 west; showing that we were one town, or six miles north of St. Mary’s, and 25 towns, or 150 miles west.

Bayfield, Wisconsin, was named in honor of Admiral Henry Wolsey Bayfield surveyed Lake Superior between 1823-1825. His map of Chequamegon Bay is available online here. Photograph from Dictionary of Canadian Biography.

Bayfield, Wisconsin, was named in honor of Admiral Henry Wolsey Bayfield, who surveyed Lake Superior between 1823-1825. His map of Chequamegon Bay is available online here. Photograph from Dictionary of Canadian Biography.

In making the traverse from Train River Bay, to Presque Isle Bay, a singular object was visible to the right, long before the shore opposite to it came in sight.  Under the effect of refraction, it rose and fell, dilated and contracted, changing continually from a tall spire to a flat belt of land.  By the glass, it was seen to be almost destitute of trees, and Mr. Bushnell began to regard it as one of the peaks of Point Kewena.  There is no map of this lake, upon which a navigator can rely, except a British one, from the survey of Capt. Bayfield, (Royal Navy,) made about 20 years ago.  We had what purported to be a copy, but soon found that it was not a true one.  We could neither recognise from it, the harbour, the points, nor the rivers, where we were.  At Chocolate river the coast, from a westerly course, makes almost a right angle to the northward; but at that time, whether we were at Chocolate, or Dead Men’s river, we could not tell.

Stannard Rock was documented by either Benjamin A Stannard or his brother Charles C Stannard.

The isolated object seen in the north proved to be the “Granite Rock,” situated about 10 miles from the shore, 50 to 80 feet in height, and a few acres in extent.  Along this shore, huge masses of this recent granite rise through the water, and may be seen in its clear depths.  From the section stake just mentioned the Granite Rock bears north, 10 or 12 miles distant.  It must not be confounded with “Standard’s Rock,” which is in the track of vessels from Point Kewena to St. Mary’s, 30 miles from land.  That these granite rocks are more recent than the sedimentary sandstone which rests upon them, is evident from observation.  The metamorphic rocks have protruded through the sandstone, distorting and breaking up the strata.  If the red, or variegated sandstone, had been deposited after the upheaval, this disturbance would not have been visible, nor would there have been seen the discolouration and semi-vitrification at the junction, or contact of the two formations.

The mountainous country, which here comes quite to the lake, extends in east and west ranges, beyond the sources of the Huron river and Kewena Bay, and appears to have been formed by the same volcanic effort.  The spacious and beautiful harbour where we lay, is formed by four granitic islands, three of them now connected with the shore by sand-bars, forming as many “Presque Isles.”

Our next day’s sail ended at a small creek, represented on the map as the St. John’s river, but by the voyageurs called Cypress river, from the adjacent forest of cypress timber, as it is called.  This tree is an evergreen, with rough bark, resembling a tamarack, but the leaves are more like the hemlock.  At 15 miles from Presque Isle Harbour, the shore made again to the westward, the sandstone bluff being more elevated and perpendicular; its strata somewhat rolling, but the general dip appeared to be westward.  The knobs of Point Kewena were now distinctly in sight, from 40 to 50 miles distant, in the north.  Mr. Door, being quite sick with a bilious fever, we determined to make a long traverse on the next day, across the bay, to Inverse Island, and thence, with all dispatch, to Copper Harbour.  But after putting out, in the face of a stiff breeze, early in the day, we found it impossible to weather the next point, and returned to camp.  The river called the St. John’s by us, is known to the French as the “Chien-Jaun,” or Yellow Dog river, corrupted, in the first instance, to “Shannejone,” and Thence to St. John.  It is, on the map, laid down as about 30 miles long.  In this country the creek is never used, but the French term “riviere,” is applied to all its streams, which is Anglicised river.  Being now wind-bound for the day, I took our trusty and intelligent whaler, Martin, who had already shown himself a good woodsman, as well as a first-rate sialor, and followed the creek into the interiour.  At the end of two miles of still, deep water, our canoe was obstructed by flood-wood, and at three-fourths of a mile further, by a fall of 8 or 10 feet, over sand rock.  Above the fall was a beautiful lake, overlooked by granitic mountains on the west, with an opening at the south.  This led us to a second lake, and this to a third – strictly speaking, only branches of the same water – in all, about four miles long.  On the wast and south were gentle ridges, sustaining the first valuable pines we had seen; on the west, lofty hills.  In the low grounds, at the water level, were thousands of large white cedars, forming a perfect abattis, or barrier, against our progress.  There were pheasants and ducks in abundance – red squirrels, and whortleberries.  On the whole, there was present so much of the New England scenery and productions, that I have written on my sketch of these ponds the name of “New England Lakes.”  This is the termination of our 30 mile river.

On the succeeding day, the wind being still adverse to a direct passage to Copper Harbour, we thought only of proceeding along the coast, to the westward, and reached the mouth of Huron river, in a few hours.  The health of our invalid having improved, we hauled the boat over the sand-bar, at the mouth of this river, and finding deep and wide water, ascended about two miles, and encamped.  The reports of other exploring parties, were highly favourable to the Huron region, as a mineral location; but after expending two days of rainy weather, in the mountains between the Little and the Big Huron, and finding the signs of valuable copper not promising, we set forward for the “Anse.”

During our stay, we had made an excursion, by water, into a bay about 15 miles deep, called after the adjacent islands and river, Huron Bay.  The shores are low, and the extremity, or head, swampy, and filled with a labyrinth of wet islands, covered with white cedar.  On the south, the Huron range overlooks the bay, at a height of 500 to 600 feet.  This inlet is in the form of a pocket, gathered at the middle; and if necessary, though shallow, would accommodate a great number of vessels.  When we were fairly at the bottom of the pocket, the wind came square in, and preventing our departure that night, we were under the necessity of encamping, without blankets, in a lodge lately occupied by the surveyors.  A lodge is a temporary habitation, erected by those who have no tents, to be occupied for the night, or, for some days if the weather is bad.  It is made of evergreen boughs, pine, hemlock, or balsam, cut short.  The frame-work consists of two crotches, and a pole between them.  On the side towards the wind poles are laid, like rafters, one end on the ground, the other on the cross-pole, in the crotches.  On these the small brush is laid, like shingles, beginning at the ground, and each course overlapping the last.  The ends are stopped in the same way, and the fire built in front.  They serve to keep off the dew, snow, and wind, but are of little avail in heavy rains.

The promontory between Huron Bay and Kewena Bay is called “Point Obang,” a corruption of “Point Abaye.”  It is a low, flat tract of land, which bears some sugar maple, and has a good soil, capable of cultivation.  The range line between ranges 29 and 30 west, comes to the lake a short distance west of the mouth of Huron river.  The northwest corner of Section 18, T. 52 No., R. 29 W., is about a mile from the shore – showing a progress to the westward of St. Marie’s of 29 towns, and to the northward five towns.

About six miles from the shore is a collection of granitic islands, called the Huron Islands, inhabited by rabbits in great numbers.  Soon after casting loose from the Islands, our fitful breeze again settled into the west, where she tumbled and pitched all night and all the next day, our faithful whaler sleeping on board.  In the evening, a calm enabled us to work with oars, and to reach the mission at the “Anse” about daybreak.

Father René Ménard

This term, is the French for a small bay, and is used to designate the place, as well as the head or extremity of Kewena Bay.  Here the Abbe Mésnard preached to the Sioux, in 1660, and impelled by the missionary spirit, proceeded towards “Chegoimegon,” the modern La Pointe.  He is said to have perished in the wilds beyond the Ontonagon, for he was seen no more.

Dr. Lathrop Johnson was the Government carpenter for the Indian sub-Agency located here.
Daniel D. Brockway was the Government blacksmith for the Indian sub-Agency locaed here.

There is yet a Catholic mission on the north side of the bay, which, with its collection of log cabins, and chapel, presents at a distance, a very pretty view.  On the south side is the Fur Company’s agency, now comparatively desolate, and the Methodist mission for the Chippeways.  Dr. Johnson, the carpenter, and Mr. Brockway, the blacksmith and farmer, of this mission, showed our party great kindness, which is more to be considered, when it is known that the spirit of copper speculation had attracted many people to the country, all of whom received the good offices of the establishment.

The mission farm produces good grass, very heavy crops of potatoes and turnips, good oats, barley, and rye.  They are now trying the wheat crop, with little doubt of success.

Those who have spent the winter here, do not complain of its severity, although snow lies from one to four feet deep, from December till May.  The bay furnishes inexhaustible supplies of white fish, that are taken almost the entire year.  Every night, except Sunday, the water is dotted with the canoes of the squaws and Indians, planting their gill nets; and again, at daylight in the morning, these female fishermen are seen overhauling the net for their morning meal.  The two missions appear to divide the band about equally.  At this moment, the principal portion of both flocks are absent at La Pointe, receiving their annuities, each under the watchful care of their respective pastors.

From the Anse to the mouth of the Ontanagon, direct by land, is a very practicable route for a road, the distance about 45 miles.  It is from this place, also, that the winter trail to Green Bay leads off to the southward, and which must always be the approach from the States by land.  To reach the Ontanagon by water, the distance is about 160 miles, following the shore around Point Kewena.  But about 12 miles from the Catholic mission there is a river, called the Portage river, that communicates with the Portage Lakes, which extend across the base of Point Kewena, to within one mile and a half of the northern shore.  For bark canoes and light craft this portage is practicable, and usually made.  About 60 miles of navigation is thus avoided.

Having feasted a couple of days upon the good things of the Anse, to wit: potatoes, turnips, sweet milk, and fresh bread, we departed for Copper Harbour, and arrived there in ten days.  The sand rock of the south shore of Kewena Bay continued around on the northern side to “Bay de Gris.”  A little beyond this, a different rock made its appearance, but probably the geological equivalent of the red and variegated sand rock.  it is a very coarse, but stratified conglomerate, with pebbles of gate, quartz trap, amygdaloid trap, red granite, &c., many of them larger than a man could lift.  It is raised in uplifts, corresponding with the subordinate trap, and contains fissures like the trap, which are filled with spar.  The general course of the uplifts is southwest by west, and the course of the fissures or veins, both of the trap and conglomerate, is nearly at right angles to the face of the uplifts.  It is in these veins that the native copper and its ores are found.

The line of greatest elevation runs near the middle of the point, forming an anticlinal axis, from which the rocks pitch each way, at various angles, from 20 to 60 deg.  But it must not be supposed that the descent is regular from the summit towards the lake.  In the volcanic convulsions that generated and raised the trap rocks, they were greatly broken and fractured; and consequently, the overlying rocks, the conglomerate and sandstones, were dislocated in the same way.  They now lie in the form of vast steps; the broken faces of the conglomerate and trap nearly perpendicular, and the slopes at the angles above stated.  The veins of the stratified and the unstratified rocks appear to be of the same age, to have been formed by the same cause, after the enclosing rocks had taken the form and position they now have.  Upon the manner of the formation of these veins there are various conjectures, which I have not space to notice.  When they pass from the conglomerate to the harder and more compact trap rock, they are said to diminish in width, sand the material of the vein changes.  They carry, in general, beautiful calcareous spar, and also other substances besides copper, such as quartz and barytes.

Painting of Douglass Houghton by Robert Thom. Houghton first explored the south shore of Lake Superior in 1840. Houghton died on Lake Superior during a storm on October 13, 1845. The city of Houghton on Chequamegon Bay was named in his honor.

Painting of Douglass Houghton by Robert Thom. Houghton first explored the south shore of Lake Superior in 1840. Houghton died on Lake Superior during a storm on October 13, 1845. Chequamegon Bay’s City of Houghton was named in his honor, and is now known as Houghton Falls State Natural Area.

From the Manitou Islands, at the extremity of Point Kewena, to the Portage Lakes, the most elevated mountain range, or rather succession of knobs, is nearer to the north than the south shore, and from 100 to 800 feet in height.  It is a very rough region to explore, with precipitous rocks, thick cedar swamps, and tangled evergreens, in every part.  But, Dr. Hougton, with five companies of explorers and surveyors, has subdivided all the land east of the Portage Lakes into sections, during the past summer, except one fractional township.  The labour and exposure attending this work cannot be understood by any except those who have been upon the ground, and seen its mountains and swamps.  This survey was undertaken to demonstrate the practicability and value of a favourite system of Dr. Houghton’s.  He had, as geologist of the State of Michigan, spent several years in this desert region, and knew its mineral worth.  He felt, as every exploring geologist feels, the necessity of exact topographical and lineal surveys, in order to give his reports that character of perfect accuracy of which the science is capable.  in truth, a large portion of the results of mineral explorations is geographical, topographical, and mathematical matter.  The thickness, extent, and dip of rocks, when found, constitute a perfect measurement of the country.  Dr. Houghton contracted with the Government to make the lineal survey of this region, and at the same time a geological one; and labouring upon it as the great undertaking of his life, had, as I have remarked, nearly completed the most difficult portion – that of Point Kewena.  His melancholy fate is well known.

Detail of a Survey of Location No. 4 for the Pittsburgh & Boston Copper Harbor Mining Co. (Image digitized by the Detroit Public Library Burton Historical Collection for The Cliff Mine Archeology Project Blog).

Detail of Copper Harbor and Fort Wilkins from “Survey of Location No. 4 for the Pittsburgh & Boston Copper Harbor Mining Co.” Image digitized by the Detroit Public Library Burton Historical Collection for The Cliff Mine Archeology Project Blog.

By these surveys, Fort Wilkins and Copper Harbour are situated near the southwest corner of town 59 north, range 28 west, or 12 towns north, and 28 towns west of St. Mary’s.

The returns of the Government surveys of this region will not show any of the coasts and water-courses, in connexion with towns and section lines, but will give the elevation and depression – what public surveys hitherto have not – of the country, taken at every change, by the barometer. They will, further, exhibit the exact limit and character of the mineral region.  Such a system, introduced into all the public surveys, with modifications suitable to the agricultural districts, such as the analysis of soils, collection of plants and marls, would be of immense advantage to the settler, and honourable to the nation.

The maps and papers of the mineral agency at Porter’s Island, in Copper Harbour, showed about 500 locations, of one mile square, each.  The War Department has, by usage, the control of the mineral lands of the United States.  It is doubtful whether there is any law that covers the case of the copper mines of Lake Superiour.  The President has, however, reposed the power of leasing these and other mineral lands in the War Department, which confides their management to the Bureau of Ordnance, which acts by local agents.  The Secretary of War, or the local agents, grant permits of search and location, and the location being made, a lease is granted to the locator.  in this lease, there are covenants to render the Government six per cent. of the mineral raised, for three years, and after that time, the Government have power to require ten per cent. for the next six years.

At first, the permits including three miles square, or nine square miles; but were, early last spring, reduced to one square mile, and given upon every application, without fees.  About 70 permits were now laid in the neighbourhood of Dead Men’s river, and 8 or 10 about the mouth of Huron river.  The Point Kewena, proper, that is to say, that portion east of the Portage Lakes, was mostly covered, and various other large tracts on the waters of Elm river, the Ontonagon, Iron river, and even on the Brulé, beyond La Pointe.

In order, therefore, to locate our permits, it became necessary to go westward, and explore some of the vacant regions beyond the Portage Lakes.  We therefore left Copper Harbour, touching at Agate Harbour, Eagle Harbour, and Eagle river, and proceeded to the mouth of Salmon Trout river, in township 55 north, range 35 west.

Mr. Bushnell, and myself, and two men, here took to the woods, and striking the range line between 34 and 35, followed it south, to the southeast corner of township 53 north, range 35 west, being about 17 miles interiour.  To our surprise, instead of finding a rugged mineral region, we had passed through a handsome rolling country, tolerably well watered, with a good loamy soil, producing an abundance of sugar maple.  Along the margin of the lake, owing probably to the harsh and moist winds from the water, nothing bu birch, balsam, pine, hemlock, spruce, and white cedar, is seen; but to the distance of two to five miles, interiour, the forest growth changes entirely.  There is an occasional white pine, with a lofty, straight, and majestic trunk, some scattering elms, linns, and black oaks, but the reigning tree is the sugar maple.

On the left, lay the valley of the Portage Lakes and of Sturgeon river, which we had just crossed.  Turning westward, we soon encountered one of those eye-sores to the explorer and surveyor, a cedar swamp, in which a progress of a mile an hour is considered rapid travelling.  The white cedar lives to a great age before it beings to decline.  It finally rots at the root, and is blown down by the northern tempest.  But this is by no means its end; its prostrate trunk sends up live branches, that draw sustenance through the roots of the parent, of new prongs went by itself below, among the buried trunks of preceding centuries.  In after ages, when it has at length matured, and, weakened by time, has yielded to the winds, another sprout from its side keeps the family stock in perpetual being.  Beneath the accumulated bodies of these trees, some dead and some living, the water, in which they delight, stands the year through, flowing gradually towards some stream of the vicinity.  What is remarkable, the water of these swamps, so little and slow is the decay of the cedar tree, is clear, pure and cool.

I hope I have been able to convey to the reader, a just idea of a white cedar swamp, because without a correct conception of this, he will never be able to realize the great difficulty of travelling in this new country. After he has penetrated one of them forty rods, the view is equally extensive in every direction, whether it is only forty rods to the other side, or whether it is two miles.  In addition to the network of logs, and the thicket of leaves that never fall, it is necessary to thin of numberless dry, sharp, and stiff prongs, the imperishable arms and limbs of dead and fallen trees.  It is then to be remembered that every man carries more or less of a load upon his back; his blanket, his tin cup, probably some implement, a hatchet, or a hammer, with specimens, and a few pounds of provisions.

The second night found us advanced about one mile into a noble cedar swamp.  Climbing a tree extended somewhat the range of the eye, but it met only the sombre and half naked trunks of the white cedar, in every direction.  A camp-bed was formed beneath a tall and beautiful larch, or tamarack, and a fire made at its root.  The bed was made made as usual of branches, kept out of the water in this instance by brush and poles.  This white cedar has the merit of burning readily, as well as of durability, and made to-night a bright fire, flaming gaily upwards against the straight and stately larch.  When had such an illumination shone there before?  The owl gave utterance to his surprise in hideous screams, and hooted for his mate.  The larch, as it swayed to and fro in the night breeze, seemed to creek and groan because of the fire, which was scorching its sinews and boiling its life-blood in its veins.  No doubt, before many seasons pass by, he will sicken and die, and from a tall prince, overlooking the humble cedars, will come heavily down, perhaps in the stillness of night, and lay his body along side of theirs.

In the morning, after passing a cold and comfortless night, a few minutes’ travel cleared the swamp, and rising some very high land, we found the stratified sandstone again, and inclined towards the lake.

At the southeast corner of township 53 north, range 36 west, the trap ranges again made their appearance, from whose summits the mountains of the Huron river were visible, in the south, beyond the Anse.

John Harris Kinzie ~ Wikipedia.org

John Harris Kinzie
~ Wikipedia.org

We were now on the head waters of Elm river, on ground located for many miles around.  Most of them are what are called office locations, made without visiting the spot, and in consequence of some locations made by Mr. Kenzie, of Chicago, from actual observation, of which favourable reports were in circulation.

That night we should have met two of our men at a rendezvous with supplies; but neither party had sought the right spot, so indefinite were the descriptions given us of localities.  As it was some miles from the coast to the mineral ranges, the boat passed slowly along the shore, sending out provisions, from time to time, to the exploring party.  It was not then known how far west the township lines were surveyed, consequently the points of meeting were fixed at the forks of some stream, or some old camp, and in finding these many errours might be committed.  In this case a day was consumed in uniting the two parties, which would not have been of so much consequence, had not the stock of eatables began to fail.  But most of the disagreeable effects of a short allowance were avoided by the capture of a porcupine, of which we made, by long boiling in the camp-kettle, very palatable soup.

On the 20th of September, at a distance of 20 miles from the coast, there were a few flakes of snow, succeeding a cold rain.  On the 21st and 22d, rain.  The ground passed over during this week, is drained by the Salmon Trout river, (a creek,) Elm river, Misery river, Sturgeon, and Flint Steel rivers.  Every member of the party was delighted with its soil, its beautiful and heavy timber, and the unsurpassed purity, plenty, and coldness of its waters.  We passed several small clear lakes, the sources of many streams.  These streams are in general but few miles in length, enlarging very fast as you follow them downward from the head, alive with the famous speckled trout, rapid in their descent, and so uniform in the flow of water, that water power is every where abundant.  Many a time did Patrick and Charley select their future farms, on the border of some quiet pool, from which a tumbling brook issued, bearing its faithful tribute into the reservoir of the Father of Lakes.

The cedar swamps, so hateful to the explorer, will be necessary to the farmer for his supply of rails; the tall, round pines, scattered here and there among the sugar trees, now so green and majestic, will supply him with lumber; the straight and beautiful balsam, with timber.

Hitherto, the mineral trap rocks that rise occasionally through the sandstone stratum, do not greatly interfere with the use of the land for tillage.  This rock, when fully disintegrated, gives a light soil that produces well.  In this vicinity, the trap rises suddenly out of the plain land, sometimes with one perpendicular face and one gentle slope; sometimes like an island with a bluff all around, and flat, rich land on the top; and sometimes in irregular peaks, standing among the timber like cones and pyramids.  At the sources of Flint Steel river  we saw, interspersed with protruding summits of trap, peaks of conglomerate shooting up from flat land, to the height of 50, 70, and 100 feet.

Pursuing a southwesterly course, about noon, on the 26th, we entered the ravines that lead into the Ontanagon.  From Elm river to the Ontanagon, the sand rock is covered from 10 to 400 feet in depth, with a stratified deposite of red clay and sand, very fine.  It is commonly called clay, but contains more silex than alumine, though tit is so minutely divided as to have the appearance of clay.  I saw nowhere true clay beds, but it is possible some of this deposite will harden in the fire, so as to make bricks.

This great sand-bed is easily washed out by running water.  From the Falls, the Ontanagon has hollowed out for itself a channel 300 to 400 feet deep, and from a half a mile to two miles wide.  The lateral gullies are very numerous, deep, and steep.  Every permanent rill, operating for ages, has excavated a narrow trough, the bottom of which descends towards the river, in the inverse proportion to its length, and the sides remain as nearly a perpendicular as the earth will lie.  The low grounds, not so wet as to cause cypress and cedar swamps, are everywhere inclined to produce hemlock and balsam.  It is the same in the prairies; cold, moisture, and a confined atmosphere, causing the growth of evergreens, and also of cedars.

It will be easy to judge of the facilities of travelling in the region of the gullies.  To cross them, rising one slippery face and sliding down the next, is very exhausting to men loaded with packs.  To follow down one of the ravines, so narrow, deep, and shaded, as almost to exclude the sun at noon, is much like the change “from the frying pan into the fire.”  The timber of the sides has fallen inward, into and across the contracted pathway of the rivulet, so thick, and so much entangled, that the mind is in a constant state of exercise, determining whether it is easier to crawl under, or climb over the next log.

In such regions, as you approach the common discharge of all these ravines, as a creek, a lake, or, as in this case, a river, the number of lateral gullies diminish, and it is sometimes preferable to take the crest of the gulf, and follow it towards the mouth.  We did so; and coming along a narrow backbone, scarcely wide enough for two to walk abreast, suddenly came to its termination, with the river far below us.  It was noon of a lovely day, such as are called the Indian summer.  In the distance, to the north 12 or 15 miles, a thick haze covered the lake; the sides and bottom of the valley of the Ontonagon, were brilliant in the mellow sunlight, mottled with yellow and green; the golden tops of the sugar tree mingled with the dark summits of the pine and the balsam.  The rough gorges that enter the valley on both sides, were now concealed by the dense foliage of the trees, partly gorgeous, and partly sombre, made yet richer by the contrast, so that the surface of the wood, as seen from our elevation, in fact from the waving top of a trim balsam which I had ascended, lay like a beautifully worked and colored carpet, ready for our feet.

On this promontory, jutting into the valley, we kindled a fire in the dry and hollow trunk of a hemlock, as a beacon to our companions, who were to be at the foot of the rapids with the boat.

On the left or inland side, the valley at some miles distant is seen to divide, corresponding with the two branches of the river. In this direction are elevated peaks, several hundred feet higher than our position, but partly hid in the mist of the atmosphere. We had now spent as much time in scene gazing as was profitable, and taking up our packs, tumbled down the bluff to the river. There stood the tents, and there lay the boat, with our comrades lounging about in the sun. The meeting brought forth three hearty shouts all around, and such congratulations of genuine good will, as none but woodsmen and sailors know.

We were now at the foot of the rapids, one mile north of the correction base, which is also the line between towns 50 and 51 north, and one mile east of the range line between ranges 39 and 40 west.

Could this have been Patrick Sullivan, who later lived in La Pointe?

On the next day, after washing, drying, and mending, some of the most needed garments, Patrick, our faithful Irishman, and myself, crossed the river, and went west along the correction line. This course carried us constantly nearer the lake, because the direction of the shore is south of west. The timber was, as might have been expected, on approaching the lake, more hemlock, birch, and balsam; but the soil appeared as good as that we had passed over from Salmon Trout river, in range 35 west. In range 41 west, we turned to the left, and soon found that no surveys had been made south of the correction line. The same day a rain set in, that lasted, with little intermission, four days and five nights. In the trap region, the magnetic needle is subject to great fluctuations. When the sky is overcast, as it was in this case, from morning to night, the sun, the principal guide, is of course lost. If the traveller loses his confidence in the compass, that instrument is the same as lost, and he is compelled to rely upon judgement, or rather the woodsman’s instinct. This judgement is, sometimes, a very uncertain reliance. The streams and ridges of land are so irregular that little information can be drawn from them. There is a great difference in persons, in the accuracy of their calculations, guided by the “make of the country,” as its general topography is called. In this region, none but the oldest hunters and trappers feel safe, when the compass begins to play false, and the sun withdraws himself.  If the consumption of provisions could cease for the time, it would always be safer and wiser to stop and encamp until clear weather comes; but the appetite does not seem to know that circumstances alter cases. With the mind in a state of perplexity, the fatigue of travelling is greater than usual, and excessive fatigue, in turn weakens, not only the power of exertion, but of resolution, also. The wanderer is finally overtaken with an indescribable sensation—one that must be experienced to be understood —that of lostness.  At the moment when all his faculties, instincts, and perceptions, are in full demand, he finds them all confused, irregular, and weak. When every physical power is required to carry him forward, his limbs seem to be yielding to the disorder of his mind; he is filled with an impressive sense of his inefficiency, with an indefinite idea of alarm, apprehension, and dismay; he reasons, but trusts to no conclusion: he decides upon the preponderance of reason and fact, as he supposes, and is sure to decide wrong. If he stumbles into a trail he has passed before, or even passed within a few hours, he does not recognise it; or if he should at last, and conclude to follow it, a fatal lunacy impels him to take the wrong end. His own tracks are the prints of the feet of some other man, and if the sun should at last penetrate the fogs and clouds that envelop his path, the world seems for a time to be turned end for end; the sun is out of place — perhaps it is, to his addled brain, far in the north, coursing around to the south, or in the west, moving towards the east. At length, like a dream, the delusion wears away; objects put on their natural dress; the sun takes up its usual track; streams run towards their mouths; the compass points to the northward; dejection and weakness give place to confidence and elasticity of mind.

I have twice experienced what I have here attempted to describe. It is a species of delirium. It oppresses and injures every faculty, like any other intense and overwhelming action. The greatest possible care should be taken to prevent the occasion for its return. Two men, last summer, were exploring on Elm river, and without compass or food, started for a vein a few rods from camp. They got entangled among swamps and hills, and wandered forty-eight hours in the woods, bewildered and lost. By accident, they struck the lake shore, and their senses returned. It is not prudent to be a moment without the means of striking a fire, without food for a day or two, and a plenty of clothing, or without a compass. Our man Martin, and myself, went out in the morning, from Salmon Trout river, intending to go three miles and return. He had neither coat, nor vest, nor stockings, because the weather was mild. A rain soon come on, and a thick mist; steering for the camp, we struck the creek two miles above the mouth and the camp. The ground in the vicinity of the lake has a low, evergreen bush, with a leaf like the hemlock, which lies flat on the surface, entangling the feet at every step. It was dark when we struck the creek, and began to follow it down stream. The sloughs, logs,ground hemlocks, and cedar brush, were so bad, that it would have been difficult to make much progress in daylight, and it was now pitch dark. We took to the water-course to avoid the brush and bluffs of either bank, and waded along the channel. But the waters of these streams are always cold, and Martin, though a stout fellow, and full of resolution, began to be numb with cold and wet. We took nothing to eat; our matches were wet; the gun could not be fired off. There was but one course to pursue. The stream would take us to camp, but how far distant that desirable spot lay, we could not conjecture. But the chilly water must be avoided, and the brush and logs, wet, slippery, and numberless as they were, must be surmounted. “We have crossed that log before,” says Martin. “What, are we lost?  Impossible; we have not left the stream a moment—it cannot be.” Crooked and winding as it was, it is not possible that we should travel twice over the same ground. But there was the log, to all appearance the same we had crossed half an hour before. Both of us would swear to the identity of the log—the same timber, the same size, the same splinters at the root; the bark off in the same way; and still it was more probable that two such logs should be found, than that we had passed twice over the same spot.

We crawled around, filled with the mystery—and it is not to this hour any thing else than a mystery. In about two hours my companion gave an exclamation of hope and joy. He had been up the creek the day before, shooting ducks and fishing for trout. He recognised the spot where the canoe was obstructed by flood-wood, half a mile from the tents. We now knew where there was a trail, and in a few minutes beheld the sparks of the camp-fire ascending gaily among the trees.

With fire works better secured, with more attention to clothing on the part of Martin, and to blankets by both of us, especially with ordinary prudence in regard to provisions, the discomfort and exertion, the bruises, chills, and exhaustion of this day, so injurious to the constitution, whether felt immediately or not, might have been entirely avoided. It may be thought that such vexations might be prevented by a rational foresight, and this is no doubt true ; but in practice they occur frequently to woodsmen, and they are in general as keen in the examination of chances as any class of men. Even Indians and Indian guides become bewildered, miscalculate their position, make false reckonings of distances, lose courage, and abandon themselves to despair and to tears.

It is not explicit which map Charles Whittlesey was using on his expedition.  Could it have been an unpublished draft of Douglass Houghton’s survey?

The maps for the copper region, instead of assisting the explorer, were for the interiour so erroneous—a fault worse than deficiency—that mistakes equal to a day’s travel frequently resulted from a reliance upon them.

On the office map there was noted a lake not far above the forks of the Ontanagon—on the west fork. Leaving the “correction base” at the southwest corner of town 51 N., range 40 W., we should have struck that lake in the distance of ten miles; but, instead of a lake, found ourselves involved in the marshes at the sources of the Cranberry and Iron rivers, the lake itself being about fifteen miles distant. The forks of the Ontanagon appeared from the map, and the best information within reach, to be about four miles by river above the foot of the rapids. This was made a point in our return, to which a packer was sent with pork and beans. Instead of making the rendezvous in one day’s travel, as was expected, he reports the distance at fifteen miles by river, and seven or eight in a direct line. The delay occasioned by bad weather and mistakes, amounted on our part to two days; the packer, who had at last reached the forks, after spending two nights in a cold rain, without fire, had left, and carried back his provisions. Patrick had, by mistake, taken salt pork for three men, instead of two. When we arrived at the Forks, only one meal of bread and beans remained, with a little tea and sugar; but the pork was sufficient for two days more. It was necessary to alter our route, and employ those two days in reaching the agency at the mouth of the river. This is an instance of hazard and disappointment, and it is difficult to see how it could have been avoided. With the greatest sagacity and forethought, small parties, who do not survey and mark their courses and distances, cannot avoid occasional perils.

Photograph by Ian Shackleford, 2011, of the Ontonagon Copper Boulder off display at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History. ~ Wikipedia.org

Photograph by Ian Shackleford, 2011, of the Ontonagon Copper Boulder off display at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History.
~ Wikipedia.org

The circumstances in which we were placed, did not allow of as much observation upon that interesting region, the Falls of the Ontanagon, as I desired. The greatest fall is on the west branch, and occupies a distance of at least two miles, with a descent of about eighty feet. It was at the head of this succession of cataracts, that the “Copper Rock” was found, which is now at Washington city. It lay when first discovered, on the brink of the river, in the red deposite, of which I have spoken, although mountains of trap, sandstone, and conglomerate, rise on all sides. The rock was removed from its place upon a temporary railway, constructed through the woods, about four miles, to a point on the river where it could be floated. This road crossed deep ravines, and a steep mountain 300 feet high. The rock was hauled along on a car, and up the mountain, by a capstan and ropes. Its weight is a little over 3,000 pounds.

It is now eighty years since this copper rock obtained notoriety among white men.  Mr. Alexander Henry,- an adventurous Englishman, and an agreeable writer, who entered the Indian country immediately after the peace of 1763, gives a description of the rock, which is worthy of being repeated.


“On the 19th of August, (1765,) we reached the mouth of the river Ontanagon, one of the largest on the south side of the lake. At the mouth was an Indian village, and at three leagues above, a fall, at the foot of which sturgeon were at this season so abundant, that a month’s subsistence for a regiment, could have been taken in a few hours. But I found this river chiefly remarkable for the abundance of virgin copper which is on its banks and in its neighbourhood, and of which the reputation is at present (1809) more generally spread, than it was at the time of this, my first visit. The copper presented itself to the eye in masses of various weight. The Indians showed me one of twenty pounds. They were used to manufacture this metal into spoons and bracelets for themselves. In the perfect state in which they found it, it required nothing but to be beat into shape. The ‘Pi-wa-tic,’ or Iron river, enters the lake to the westward of the Ontanagon, and here it is pretended silver was found, while the country was in the possession of the French.”—Part 1, pp. 194-5.

“On my way (1776) I encamped a second time at the mouth of the Ontanagon, and now took the opportunity of going ten miles up the river, with Indian guides. The object which 1 went most expressly to see, and to which I had the satisfaction of being led, was a mass of copper, of the weight, according to my estimate, of no less than five tons. Such was its pure and malleable state, that, with an axe, I was able to cut off a portion weighing a hundred pounds. On viewing the surrounding surface, I conjectured that the mass, at some period or other, had rolled from the side of a lofty hill which rises at its back.”—p. 203.


I quote extensively from Mr. Henry’s interesting book, because it is now out of print, and very rare. Capt. Jonathan Carver, also, travelled in the Lake Superiour and Mississippi country, in 1766, of whom,-after the manner of succeeding travellers, speaking of their predecessors, Mr. Henry says, “and he falls into other errours.” The Chippeways told Carver, that being once driven by a storm to the Isle de Maurepas, (now Michipicoten,) they had found large quantities of shining earth, “which must have been gold dust.” They put some of it into their canoes, but had not moved far from the land, when a spirit sixty feet in height strode into the water, and ordered them to bring every particle of it back to the island. This of course they did, and never ventured again to the haunted island.

Detail of Lake Superior from Carver [Jonathan], Captain. Journal of his travels with maps and drawings, 1766. ~ Boston Public Library

Detail of Lake Superior from [Jonathan] Carver, Captain. Journal of his travels with maps and drawings, 1766.
~ Boston Public Library

Alexander Baxter partnered with Alexander Henry the Elder to mine for silver/copper ore on Lake Superior.
Henry Bostwick was the first Englishman licenced in the Great Lakes fur-trade.

In the spring of 1769, Mr. Henry, excited by this and other reports of the Indians, visited the islands, expecting to find “shining rocks and stones of rare description,” but found only a mass of rock, rising into barren mountains, with veins of spar. The Indians then insisted upon going to another island to the south, (Caribeau) as it was the true island of the “golden sands;” but the weather prevented this visit at that time. In 1770, Mr. Baxter, Mr. Bostwick, and Mr. Henry, were constituted members of a company for working mines on Lake Superiour.


“We passed the winter together at Sault de Sainte Marie, and built a barge fit for the navigation of the lake; at the same time laying the keel of a sloop of forty tons. Early in May, 1771, we departed from Point aux Pins, our shipyard, and sailed for the island of Yellow Sands, promising ourselves to make our fortunes, in defiance of the serpents. I was the first to land, carrying with me my loaded gun, resolved to meet with courage the guardians of the gold.

“A stay of three days did not enable us to find gold, or even yellow sands ; and no serpents appeared to terrify us, not even the smallest and most harmless snake.

“On the fourth day, after drying our Caribeau meat, we sailed for Nanibason, (on the north shore,) which we reached in eighteen hours, with a fair breeze. On the next day, the miners examined the coast of Nanibasou, and found several veins of copper and lead ; and after this returned to Point aux Pins, where we erected an air furnace. The assayer made a report on the ores which we had collected, stating that the lead ore contained silver in the proportion of forty ounces to the ton; but the copper ore only in very small proportion indeed.”


“Mr. Norberg, a Russian gentleman, discovered a mass of choloride of silver on the lake shore, and that it contained sixty per cent of metal.”
A Brief Account of the Lake Superior Copper Company, 1845, page 13.

The party now start for the Ontanagon, having in company a Mr. Norberg, an officer in the 60th regiment, then stationed at Mackinaw, old fort. At Point Iroquois, he found among the loose stones, one “of eight pounds, of a blue colour, and semi-transparent,” which he deposited in the British Museum at London, and which, it is said, contained sixty per cent, of silver.


“Hence we coasted westward, but found nothing till we reached the Ontanagon, where, besides the detached masses of copper formerly mentioned, we saw much of the same metal imbedded in stone. Proposing to ourselves to make a trial on the hill, till we were better able to go to work on the solid rock, we built a house, and sent to the Sault de Sainte Marie for provisions. At the spot pitched upon for the commencement of our preparations, a green coloured water, which tinged iron of a copper colour, issued from the hill, and this the miners called a leader. In digging, they found frequent masses of copper, some of which were of three pounds weight. Having arranged every thing for the accommodation of the miners during the winter, we returned to the Sault. Early in the spring of 1772, we sent a boat load of provisions, but it came back on the 20th day of June, bringing with it, to our surprise, the whole establishment of miners. They reported that in the course of the winter they had penetrated forty feet into the hill, but that on the arrival of the thaw, the clay on which, on account of its stiffness, they had relied, and neglected to secure by supports, had fallen in ; that from the detached masses of metal which to the last had daily presented themselves, they supposed there might be ultimately reached some body of the same, but could form no conjecture of its distance. Here our operations in this quarter ended It was never for the exportation-of copper that our company was formed but always with a view to the silver which it was hoped the ores, whether of copper or lead, might in sufficient quantity contain.”—pp. 227,233.

“In the following August we launched our sloop, and carried the miners to the vein of copper ore on the north side of the lake, (probably at Nanibasou, about one day’s sail from Michipicoten.) Little was done during the winter; but by dint of labour, performed between the commencement of the spring of 1773, and the ensuing month of September, they penetrated thirty feet into the solid rock. The rock was blasted with great difficulty, and the vein which at the beginning was of the breadth of four feet, had in the progress contracted into four inches. Under these circumstances we desisted, and carried the miners back to the Sault. What copper ore we had collected, we took to England; but the next season we were informed that the partners there declined entering into further expenses. In the interim, we had carried the miners along the north shore, as far as the river Pic, making, however, no discovery of importance. This year, therefore, (1774,) Mr. Baxter disposed of the sloop and other effects of the company, and paid its debts. The partners in England were his Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester, Mr. Secretary Townshend, Sir Samuel Tucket, Baronet, Mr. Baxter, Consul of the Empress of Russia, and Mr. Cruikshank. In America, Sir William Johnson, Baronet, Mr. Bostwick, Mr. Baxter, and myself. A charter had been petitioned for and obtained, but owing to our ill success, it was never taken from the seal office.”—pp. 234-5.


Detail of Ontonagon River, “Paul's Cabin,” the Ontonagon Boulder, and the Porcupine Mountains from Map of the Mineral Lands Upon Lake Superior Ceded to the United States by the Treaty of 1842 With the Chippeway Indians. ~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Detail of Ontonagon River, “Paul’s Cabin,” the Ontonagon Boulder, and the Porcupine Mountains from Map of the Mineral Lands Upon Lake Superior Ceded to the United States by the Treaty of 1842 With the Chippeway Indians.
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

There is living an old chief who, when a boy, saw this company of English miners at the falls of the Ontanagon. He represents the manager as a stout, burly man, with a red face. There are near the spot where the great copper rock was found, remains of a chimney, supposed to belong to the house spoken of by Henry. The timber around the spot was of a second growth; now cut away by Mr. James Paul, who has lived there, and located a three-mile permit. He told me that an aspen, eighteen inches in diameter, had blown down near his cabin, and a copper kettle was found, flattened and corroded, beneath its roots. There are also the remains of ancients pits, still visible; and in the sand and clay deposite, by digging, lumps of native copper are now found. There can, therefore, be no doubt but this is the spot visited by the English company, before the American Revolution, and now become again an object of hope and notoriety.

This region is singularly wild and disordered. The Falls, which are distinct from the “Rapids,” are caused by the irregular upheaval of trap, sandstone, and conglomerate, thrown about in grand confusion. To the miner and geologist such points possess not only the greatest interest, but the greatest practical value.

Here appears to be one of those great centres of convulsion, which raised and tossed about the metalliferous rocks. Another may be seen to the eastward of the Portage Lakes. From the central point in such direction along the line of action, that is to say, in a northeasterly and southwesterly course, the height of the upheaval and the extent of the distortion gradually becomes less on each side. The effect of the subterranean forces being very much the same upon the overlying sand rock, as that of a projecting point of rock upon the ice of an estuary of the sea when the tide falls away. The trap uplifts represent the rock, itself rising instead of the sandstone stratum settling. The resemblance is not perfect, but only illustrative. The field of ice subsiding upon a sharp point of rock, in a bay of quiet waters, will break and crack equally in all directions. But the uprising trap, though it has a centre, does not act equally on all sides; for there is a line of upheaval, along which the force operates, giving rise to an elevated ridge, which is highest at the centre, or focus. It has a breadth of 5 to 15 miles, and a length of 50 or 60. The trap rock intruding from below has within itself a certain regularity, which I have noticed before ; throwing up long parallel faces, looking inward towards the line of greatest elevation.

Of this fact I have from observation a knowledge of only a portion of the northern half of the trap range ; from the Manitou Islands to Sun river, a distance of about 120 miles. I did not cross the range far enough to ascertain the position of the south half, and give this statement of its organization upon the representation of other explorers, whom I have no reason to doubt.

These ranges are not- in every case parallel to the great anticlinal line, but generally they are so. There are cases of spurs, or lateral ranges, of limited extent, branching off from the main pile. Both the trap and the overlying conglomerate rocks, are very hard to work. The trap is the most compact, but is more uniform in its texture. The conglomerate encloses pebbles of all sizes, and of many different rocks, most of them very hard. This want of homogenity prevents the blast from producing that effect, which it would on a close, uniform, tight rock. I think there can be little doubt but Mr. Henry’s conjecture respecting the source of the copper rock of the Ontanagon, and the many copper boulders found in the red clay deposite, is correct. That they were loosened from their position in a neighboring vein, by the disentegration of the enclosing rock, and by the force of gravity and that agent, whatever it may have been, which brought on the red sand and clay deposite, they have been scattered around. The red deposite is evidently younger than the sandstone and the trap, for it is horizontal. The sandstone it is equally evident is older than the trap, for the latter has shot up through it, tilting it outward from the line of uplift. The copper boulders are found imbedded in the red loam, as it may be called, and must have been loosened from the vein at and before the period when it (the loam) was brought on.

The native copper, which is the principal ore of the country, (if metal can be called an ore,) exists in the veins, in all sizes and shapes; from the weight of the point of a pin to 20, 40, 100, 1,000 and 1,500 pounds. A boulder was found this season near the mouth of Elm river, weighing over 1,500 pounds, which is now at New Haven. I saw an irregular mass in a vein near Agate Harbour, about one mile east, which might with great care have been taken out, weighing 800 to 1000 pounds. It was removed in one body, to the amount of about 400 pounds; but to procure such specimens there is great trouble and expense, in securing all the prongs against damage by the blast. These boulders are found in the water-worn pebbles of the shore, and of various sizes, from 1 to 40 and 100 pounds. They are also found far to the southward, in Wisconsin—giving rise to great hopes and speculations—transported by that universal power, (whatever it was,) which covered the northern hemisphere with drift from the north.

It may then be suggested whether the great copper rock and its satellites, of the Falls of the Ontanagon, were not carried thither in the same manner. There is certainly room for such a doubt. But no matter how far these masses of copper have been transported, or how short the distance they have been moved, they must have originally been derived from veins. Here we find not the particular veins from which the boulder was extracted, but find in the country veins containing exactly such masses. They may have been dragged from regions farther north, where similar veins probably exist, but as there is no necessity for going to sogreat a distance in search of their origin, so there is not a.s great a probability of finding their original seat far from their present position. The difficulty of transporting such heavy material is a strong reason against distance, though not a conclusive one.

But in the case of the great rock, the number of attending fragments is so numerous—so much more so than is known anywhere else at a distance from the veins, that little doubt remains that they are from a nest not very far off. In the gold region, and in the lead mines, where loose metal is found, the miner begins to search in all directions to ascertain from whence it came. If he finds it more abundant on one side than another, he famines more closely the soil of that side; and if found to increase as he proceeds, he is convinced that he is on the trail. As he follows this, the evidences multiply, and at last he arrives at the parent vein, from which the scattered fragments were driven. It is probable that time, money, and enterprise, will finish what the English company began; and at last disclose a prominent vein within hearing of the cataracts of the west branch.

The mouth of the Ontanagon is one of those commanding points that strike the observer at first glance. As Henry says, it is the principal river of the south shore, and the only one except the Chocolate river and Grand Marais, where a vessel can enter. There is now, in a low stage of the lake, six feet water on the bar, and deep water several miles up the stream, which is about 300 feet wide. It is the natural outlet of a large fanning region, which the surveyors say extends 50 or GO miles interiour, and 40 or 50 each way along the shore. The mineral belt occupies several miles in width, at this point 10 or 12 miles from the shore, and parallel with it; but at the mouth of Sun, Black, and Montreal rivers, it comes down to the waters of the lake. On each side of this range, and even among the Porcupine Mountains, the agricultural resources of the country are only limited by the shortness of the seasons. The soil is good— the climate without an equal for health and strength, and the lake and streams abound in fish. The swamps and the flat lands produce wild grass in abundance, showing the tendency of the soil to that production. Potatoes, turnips, and all roots grow here in the greatest perfection; and oats and barley do well. I have little doubt but it will also be found an excellent wheat region.

We found the rich bottom-lands of the Ontanagon already dotted with the cabins of pre-emption claimants, for several miles up the river. The Indians have a tradition about the name of Ontanagon, as about almost every thing else, and say it is truly “Nindinagan.” That an old woman, long ago, was cooking on the shore at the mouth, and her dish slipped into the current and was carried out into the lake. She exclaimed, “Oh! there goes my dish,” the Indian of which is said to be Nindinagan.

The site at its mouth is rather low and swampy. On the west the Porcupine Mountains rise boldly out of the water, at the distance of 20 miles, presenting that peculiar outline of the trap uplifts by which they may be recognised afar off, almost as well as by inspection. A cross-section, which would also correspond with the end view, from the Ontanagon may be compared to the notches or teeth of a mill-saw, laid upon its back, one edge straight and vertical, the other sloping. If the expectations of mineral locators are realized, the prosecution of the mining business will of itself create a place of some importance here. To the fanner of New England there will be great inducements, as soon as the mining operations are placed upon a sure footing; for the products most congenial to the region are such as are bulky, and cost much in their transportation, to wit: potatoes and roots, hay and oats. It is well known that miners never till the soil to much purpose. A garden and a little pasture suffice for them. This must be done by the practical farmer. The mineral and the agricultural districts are here so admirably situated as mutually to render to each interest the greatest assistance. When the navigation shall be completed around the rapids of the St. Mary’s, the emigrant and miner, placing himself at any harbour of any of the lakes, may take his passage to any part of Lake Superiour, with his family and effects. The hardy son of Vermont and New Hampshire will find here his own climate and mountains; his own trout streams, and a good substitute for the shad and salmon of the ocean ; and a soil equal to most parts of the West, without the fever and ague of the more southern portions. The facility of making roads to the interiour is great, and along the shore they are practicable. Of course, on the immediate east, ravines are too frequent to cross without expensive bridges. But a few miles inland the country rises, the valleys of the streams diminish, and a very favourable country is found as far east as the Portage Lakes and the Anse. Here the swamps and lakes form the only serious obstacles, and they are avoided by good selections of routes. The difficulty of making roads in the Ontanagon region is far less than it was in the first settlement of Ohio.

Major Campbell reported on the copper lands here in December of 1843.

Until the night of the 5th of October I had not observed any frost, although the leaves were already coloured with the hues of autumn, and falling from their stems hid begun to cover the ground. The winds and ruins that occurred between the 5th and the 10th left the branches of the trees almost as naked as in winter, and the snow began to fall. We were received at the Agency house with that liberality of hospitality which can be found nowhere more full and hearty than among the backwoodsmen of the West. Major Campbell, the agent, was absent in search of a copper rock, in the neighbourhood of “Lake Vieux Desert,” about 150 miles distant. In the evening Mr. Paul, who has been three years in the country, and who had joined in the wild-goose chase after the copper rock, on the faith of an Indian, came in, and amused the company till a late hour by reciting the stratagems and effrontery of their Indian guide.

Since the whites have shown such an intense curiosity about copper rocks, they have sprung up on all sides. Every Indian knows where one may be found. It can be had of any size or shape, and generally for the price of a few dollars and provisions for the trip. It is generally seven, ten, or twelve days’ journey to it. The Great Spirit and the tribe will destroy or otherwise injure him who shows it to the white man, but they will lead him to the vicinity, and he can do the rest. In this case a monster was to be found, and the price was to correspond; but $50 or $60 was somehow procured in advance. The Indian lived in the neighbourhood of the rock and had shown it to but one other mortal; a half breed now dead. After great labour and vexation the party approached the sacred place. There are four trees marked with Porcupines, done in charcoal; according to the description. They were far from any trap ranges, in a low, swampy country. The Indian fixes his eyes in a given direction, and all are elated with the certainty of success. They scour the woods in that direction, but no rock is found. The Indian and his boy wish to be left to pursue the search by themselves, and still the rock hides itself. He is watched, and they find that he only moves around in a limited circle, and returns to the camp. Hesitating between the apprehension that he is duped, and the realization of his hopes, the agent becomes impatient. The Indian at length points his finger to the spot, but the Great Spirit had sunk the rock deep into the earth. The Indian is calm and immovable. “Hou, hou—marchez wigwam” he says, in the usual tone. “What does he say?” inquires the agent. “He says we had better go to his wigwam,” replies the interpreter. The scene changes from the highest expectations to the highest rage. “Give him a hundred lashes—break every bone in his body—kill him!” and expressions of this sort, are now heard, with gestures to match. The Indian could not understand English, but knew enough to be sensible that some cursing was going on, and that he was the object. He now began to kindle with wrath. The first motion was to throw down his pack, and in this he was followed by the boy, and two or three other Indians of the party. What was the agent, the surveyor, and the interpreter to do, here in this wilderness, deserted by their packers and guides. Paul, who had long known the Indian’s cunning, saw at once the position of affairs, laughed at the agent, and offered the Indians a half dollar to take up their packs. They had, in the mean time, proceeded from anger to mockery. They had paraded themselves in advance of the party, strutting along with some small willow sticks on their shoulders, in derision of the many loads under which the whites were groaning. The latter were obliged not only to pocket the insult, but to employ the old man, his boy, wife, and canoe, to cross some lakes that lay in their route home.

Coming in they met another party of whites, with the usual complement of Indians, also in search of a copper rock, said to exist in the region of Lake Vieux Desert. If such rock were actually visible, no Indian would show it, so long as he can get one-half of his yearly support from it as a guide. Those who know them best, say that it matters little to the explorer whether such boulders exist or not, the Indians will never be guilty of showing one to a white man. There is a superstition upon the subject, and it is also a rule that the proceeds of a found rock should be divided, and a large portion go to the chief. In case an Indian actually knew of one, he would not disclose its position, unless he was sure the fact would never be made known to his tribe.

On the morning of the second day the square-sail of our boat, which had been to La Pointe, appeared at the foot of the Porcupine Mountains, bright in the light of the rising sun. At eleven it entered the river, before a bountiful breeze, and the company was once more together.

"Algonquin Company of Detroit." ~ Reports of Wm. A. Burt and Bela Hubbard, by T. W. Bristol, 1846, page 97.

“Algonquin Company of Detroit.”
~ Reports of Wm. A. Burt and Bela Hubbard, by J. Houghton Jr and T. W. Bristol, 1846, page 97.

The mining company for which we were acting is called the “Algonquin,” and is composed principally of citizens of Detroit. Our locations were made, four in number, upon the waters of Flint Steel river, and we were now on the way thither, to make preparations for the men who were to stay through the winter. Towards evening, we entered the mouth of Flint Steel river, which is six miles east of the Ontanagon. Dragging the boat over the bar, and rowing it two miles up the stream, we landed. From thence to the locations, is about twelve miles, over a beautiful rolling country of sugar maple. The copper found here is chiefly native, and is enclosed in the trap rock. We brought away a piece weighing seven pounds, that lay in a vein near the surface.

On the 13th, we were again at the boat, working out of the river. For several days there had been snow, and indications of the close of the season. The snow was still falling as we proceeded down the lake, after dark, with a view of reaching Elm river. But the water was calm, and the oarsmen were making good speed. A little after 9 o’clock, we passed the mouth of Misery river, a bleak and desert place, without firewood, and some of the party fancying they saw a light at the old camp, or Elm, the boat was kept on her course. It was difficult to the see shore at the distance of twenty rods, on account of the falling snow.

About half past 9, a light puff of wind came on from the northwest, which aroused the attention of Martin at once. “If the next one (says he) is stiffer than that, we must put about for Misery river.” A sharp flaw followed his words, and the boat was put about. But it was scarcely before the breeze, when it came in short, irregular blasts, and the water became agitated. Martin was our oracle on the water. He said we must make the shore instantly, and the craft bounding and splashing, was headed for a light streak that appeared to be a sand beach, but above which frowned a dark line like a bluff! Before she struck, the sharp, irregular waves combed freely over the sides and the stern of the boat.

“Charley, Patrick, Mike, and all hands, throw your oars and jump ashore!” Every man was in the water in a moment, holding her by the head. “Keep her stern off; heave, ho! heave, ho! Now she sticks. Throw out the luggage before she fills. Keep her stern off; heave, ho! Now she rests; take a line to that root.” It would seem that not more than five minutes had passed, since we were quietly moving over that water, from which we were now thankful to seek relief on land. The storm had already become a tempest, roaring through the woods and over the waves, like a tornado. There stood the giant frame of Charley at the stern of the boat, the waves dashing over him, lifting and pushing her towards the shore; the others grasping her by the sides, assisted to work her further on, but she was too much loaded with water, to be moved by main strength; Martin soon rigged the halyards into a purchase with two blocks, by which advantage she was drawn beyond the reach of the sea, that seemed to grow more angry as we rescued the boat from that element.

There is generally within hailing distance a birch tree to be found, and the ragged outside bark, that rolls up like paper, in tatters, will burn at the touch of fire. No matter whether the tree is green or dry, or the day has been wet or dry, there is some side of a birch tree from which there can be pulled a handful of these paper-like shreds, to kindle a fire. These, with a few small dead cedar limbs, will always, with due care, give the foundation of a camp-fire. But to be more certain, voyageurs usually carry a roll of peeled birch bark, the remains of some bark canoe, and this, broken and split into strips, burns at once. Groping about among the balsams and pines, that stood thick on the beach, no birch could be found. The roll in the boat had been washed out, and though found at last, was coarse and wet. The wind and snow which penetrated every nook and corner, added to the difficulty of starting a blaze, and some of the party began to yield to the influence of cold and exhaustion, when we found a piece of dry pine board, and cutting it into shavings, had the satisfaction to see it flame up brightly at the root of a tree. A dish of hot tea rivived every one, and at 1 o’clock, the whole party were as sound asleep as ever, in a little hollow, back from the shore. But the storm raged on until the morning after the succeeding day, when we ventured to put ourselves before it, and reached Copper Harbour, sixty miles distant, in eleven hours, without landing. As we passed Eagle river, a number of people were seen along the coast, where the spray still dashed over the rocks, in search, as we afterwards learned, of the body of Dr. Houghton, who with two of his men, were lost there as the gale arose. It is remarkable that no more persons were shipwrecked on that dreadful night. A birch canoe, with an Indian and his boy, and a white man, put out from Agate Harbour, and sailed in the height of the storm to Eagle Harbour, several miles. Other boats were exposed at various points, but by seeking the shore in season, escaped the danger. Dr. H. had the misfortune to be opposite a forbidding coast, with rocks extending into the water, and shallow for some distance out. It was not his misfortune alone, but that of science, and the nation. The boat did not, as it appears from the survivors, capsize, so capable is a well-built sail boat of resisting severe weather; but was sent end over end, probably by hitting the bottom, while in a trough of the sea.

In September, a boat of about the same size, made the passage from Isle Royal to Copper Harbour, direct across the open lake, with a bark canoe in tow, before a severe gale. A party of seven men, among whom was Mr. Hall, of the New York survey, were on the island, and short of provisions. The vessel which was expected to take them off had missed the rendezvous, and they were driven to attempt the passage in their open boats. When fairly out on the lake, the wind, which was fair, increased to a gale, in which they gave themselves up for lost. About midway from the two shores the canoe and two men went adrift, and it became necessary to put about and take them again in tow. When it is considered how much the lug of a canoe impedes and endangers a small sail boat in bad weather, it will be regarded as a miracle of preservation that these men completed their voyage in safety.

I intended to give a brief notice of the mines now in operation, but have already made a much longer article, as I fear, than will suit a magazine reader.

"Lake Superior Company" ~ Reports of Wm. A. Burt and Bela Hubbard, by T. W. Bristol, 1846, page 92.

“Lake Superior Company”
~ Reports of Wm. A. Burt and Bela Hubbard, by J. Houghton Jr and T. W. Bristol, 1846, page 92.

The most extensive works are those belonging to the “Lake Superiour Company,” at Eagle river, under the superintendence of Col. C. H. Gratiot. There were here about 120 workmen, and, in September, near 800 tons of ore, ready for the stamping or crushing machine. This machine is a very nice piece of mechanism, that works by water, and crushes ten tons of the rock in a day. The principal shaft, then 70 feet deep, was in a vein or dyke, about 11 feet wide, one-half of which bears native silver in such quantities as to be an object without regarding the copper. Whether it is a true vein, or an irregular mass, I find geologist do not agree; but for practical purposes, it is regular and extensive.

"Pittsburgh and Boston Copper Harbor Company" ~ Reports of Wm. A. Burt and Bela Hubbard, by J. Houghton Jr and T. W. Bristol, 1846, page 92.

“Pittsburgh and Boston Copper Harbor Company”
~ Reports of Wm. A. Burt and Bela Hubbard, by J. Houghton Jr and T. W. Bristol, 1846, page 92.

"New York and Lake Superior Company" ~ Reports of Wm. A. Burt and Bela Hubbard, by J. Houghton Jr and T. W. Bristol, 1846, pages 93-94.

“New York and Lake Superior Company”
~ Reports of Wm. A. Burt and Bela Hubbard, by J. Houghton Jr and T. W. Bristol, 1846, pages 93-94.

Boston Mining Company stock issued by Joab Bernard. ~ Copper Country Reflections

“Boston Mining Company”
~ Copper Country Reflections

About four miles southwest from this, the “Pittsburg Company” are working a vein about four feet wide, which bears silver also, but its value is not as well tested as the Lake Superiour Company’s bed. Eagle river is only a brook, coming down from the mountains, which a Ynan may cross by ten steps at low water. The shaft and pounding mill is about one and a half miles from the shore, and their landing is five or six miles east. At Eagle Harbour, they have a saw mill and many buildings. The celebrity of the mines, and the scarcity of places of shelter, have caused a great many persons to visit the spot during the past season. The superintendent and his assistants have, however, always shown visiters that attention and hospitality, which could nowhere be esteemed more highly. About three miles east of Eagle river, is the Henshaw location, not as yet much worked. On the west side of Eagle Harbour, at Sprague’s location, I procured a handsome specimen of silver, which appeared to be abundant. On the east side is the Bailey location, not worked, but which is well spoken of. On Agate Harbour, the “New York and Lake Superiour Company” had sunk three shafts without hitting the metallic vein. The “Boston Company” have an establishment at the east end of the harbour. Within two miles, on the east, there are two veins, from one of which a piece of native copper, weighing about 400 pounds, was taken by Mr. Hempstead, and in the other a valuable sulphuret of copper has since been discovered. A vein of sulphuret is also known on the waters of Mineral creek, a few miles west of the Ontanagon.

"Massachusetts Company" ~ Reports of Wm. A. Burt and Bela Hubbard, by J. Houghton Jr and T. W. Bristol, 1846, pages 101.

“Massachusetts Company”
~ Reports of Wm. A. Burt and Bela Hubbard, by J. Houghton Jr and T. W. Bristol, 1846, pages 101.

"Isle Royale Company" ~ Reports of Wm. A. Burt and Bela Hubbard, by J. Houghton Jr and T. W. Bristol, 1846, pages 94.

“Isle Royale Company”
~ Reports of Wm. A. Burt and Bela Hubbard, by J. Houghton Jr and T. W. Bristol, 1846, pages 94.

The “Massachusetts Company” have commenced works about a mile west of the extremity of Copper Harbour, where several veins, apparently rich, and said to carry silver, have been opened on the coast. At the Harbour, the “Pittsburgh Company” have two shafts, from which they have taken several tons of the rich black oxyde. A mile east, is a location of the ” Isle Royal Company,” under the charge of Mr. Cyrus Mendenhall, employing ten or fifteen hands.

There are probably now in the country 600 persons engaged in mining, as labourers, agents, clerks, superintendents, and mining engineers.

Communication is kept up with them during the winter, by a semimonthly mail from Green Bay, taken on the back of a man, by way of the Menominee river and the Anse, to the post-office at Fort Wilkins. This does not allow the carriage of newspapers, or heavy packages, but only letters. Although the winter is severe, it is so uniform that those who have tried it do not complain, and even pursue their journeys with more facility by land than they can in summer. If a road were open to Green Bay, the journey would be made in four or five days, over a road which, once trod, would be perfect for several months. From the best information derived from mail carriers, and gentlemen who have made the trip on snow-shoes, it is not an expensive route for a road.

William Austin Burt ~ Wikipedia.org

Judge William Austin Burt
~ Wikipedia.org

I have spoken frequently of the fluctuations of the needle, and of its variations. The surveys in this region can be made only with the solar compass, or some instrument of that nature. The one used by Judge Burt, who has run all the township lines west of the Sault, is of his own invention. It is now made in England for exportation to this country. This compass is placed in the meridian by an apparatus always directed on the sun, and as it carries a needle, shows the variation every time it is set.

At the Sault the regular variation was given 2 deg. east, which, at every section corner on the town lines, is written with red chalk on the stake. At southwest corner section 19, range 35 west, T. 55 north, variation 7 deg. 15 min. east; 6 miles directly south, 5 deg. 15 min. east. One mile north of southeast corner of T_ 52 north, range 36 west, variation 5 deg. 5 min.; one mile west, 6 deg. 5 min. At south corner of T. 52, range 37, variation 5 deg. 15 min. east; one mile north, 1 deg. 10 min.; two miles west, 1 deg. 35 min.; three miles further west, 8 deg. 15 min. At middle of south line of T. 51 north, range 40 west, variation 5 deg. 35 min. east.

For game we saw pheasants, or as some call them partridges, in great numbers, and also red squirrels. No turkeys, deer, or black squirrels. There are bears, moose, and reindeer; yet they are not numerous. There is also an animal of the wild-cat species, called a lynx, whose tracks we saw. For reptiles, we saw none but a few feeble garter snakes. There are owls, mice, and rabbits in abundance. We saw no insects of consequence, except spiders, and these were sufficiently numerous to be troublesome. During the latter part of June, and the whole of July, in the woods and low places, there are countless myriads of moschetoes and sand-flies. They are said not to be troublesome on the coast.

Much of the comfort of a trip in this region depends on the outfit. Arrangements should be made for a supply of at least two pounds of solid food per day for each man, and a surplus for friends who are less provident.

The cheapest, least weighty and bulky, as well as the best for health and relish, are hard bread, beans, and salt pork, of the very best quality. Tea, coffee, and sugar, are in such cases not necessaries, but are, for the expense and trouble, the greatest and cheapest luxuries that can be had under any circumstances. To every two men there must be a small camp-kettle, and if in a boat, a large kettle and frying-pan. In the woods, a hatchet to every two men, and a strong tin cup for each, with a surplus of one-half these articles to make up for losses. Knives, forks, and spoons disappear so fast that two setts to each man will be none to many. Salt and pepper are indispensable for the game you may kill; and if there are a plenty of horse-pistols, a great many pheasants may be shot without much loss of time. But these are not to be taken into account for supplies.

A pocket compass is necessary to each party. For a pack there is nothing better than a knapsack and straps, without the boards. Ordinary clothing is of no use, for it will disappear in a short time. The surveyors wear trousers made of heavy cotton ticking, and a sort of pea-jacket made of the same. This or medium cotton duck will stand wear, and although moisture comes through, the rains do not. It thickens when wet, and turns long storms better than any thing except oil-cloth. A supply of thick flannel shirts should be procured without fail, and flannel or Canton flannel under-clothes. A vest is unnecessary, and instead of suspenders the pantaloons are kept up by a broad belt, on which the tin-cup may be strung. A low, round-crowned, white beaver hat is much worn, but perhaps a light cap, of oiled silk, made soft and impervious to rain, is better. For the feet, moccasins or light brogans, made of good leather, and plenty of woollen stockings. In the wet season, cowhide boots, made of good but not heavy leather, and very large, but in the shape of the foot. A flint and steel for emergencies, and matches for ordinary use to strike a fire. Without something water-proof around them, the matches will acquire moisture in long spells of wet weather. If you carry a map case, they may be put in a second case, around which the map is rolled. A belt with a leather pouch and a buckle, to carry the hatchet in, is a very great convenience; for nothing is so likely to be lost as a hatchet. We were three days without one in very bad weather, having dropped it on the route.

Tents are not indispensible, but comfortable, especially along the shore and in very warm weather, when moschetoes are plenty.

A good, large, heavy Mackinaw blanket is beyond comparison the most necessary article to the voyageur and woodsman. With all these preparations, the lover of exercise and adventure may count upon as much enjoyment, on a trip through the Lake Superior country, as he will find at home. If he is badly provided, he will be inefficient and uneasy – will suffer many privations, and perhaps injure his health.

By Amorin Mello

A curious series of correspondences from Morgan

… continued from Copper Harbor Redux.

 


 

1845 daily union header

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

August 29, 1845.

EDITOR’S CORRESPONDENCE.

[From our regular correspondent.]

ST. LOUIS, Mo.  Aug. 19, 1845.

One of the most interesting sections of the North American continent is the basin of the Upper Mississippi, being, as it is, greatly diversified by soil, climate, natural productions, &c.  It embraces mineral lands of great extent and value, with immense tracts of good timber, and large and fertile bodies of farming land.  This basin is separated by elevated land o the northeast, which divides the headwaters of rivers emptying into the Mississippi from those that flow into the lakes Superior and Michigan, Green Bay, &c.  To the north and northwest, it is separated near the head of the Mississippi, by high ground, from the watercourses which flow towards Hudson’s bay.  To the west, this extensive basin is divided from the waters of the Missouri by immense tracts of elevated plateau, or prairie land, called by the early French voyageurs “Coteau des Prairies,” signifying “prairie coast,” from the resemblance the high prairies, seen at a great distance, bear to the coast of some vast sea or lake.  To the south, the basin of the Upper Mississippi terminates at the junction of the Mississippi with the Des Moines river.

The portion of the valley of the Mississippi thus described, if reduced to a square form, would measure about 1,000 miles each way, with St. Anthony’s falls near the centre.

Detail of Saint Anthony's Falls and Lake Superior from Amerique Septentrionalis Carte d'un tres grand Pays entre le Nouveau Mexique et la Mer Glaciace Dediee a Guilliaume IIIe. Roy de La Grand Bretagne Par le R. P. Louis de Hennepin Mission: Recol: et Not: Apost: Chez c. Specht a Utreght 1698. ~ Commons.Wikimedia.org

1698 detail of Saint Anthony’s Falls and Lake Superior from Amerique Septentrionalis Carte d’un tres grand Pays entre le Nouveau Mexique et la Mer Glaciace Dediee a Guilliaume IIIe. Roy de La Grand Bretagne Par le R. P. Louis de Hennepin Mission: Recol: et Not: Apost: Chez c. Specht a Utreght 1698.
~ Commons.Wikimedia.org

For a long time, this portion of the country remained unexplored, except by scattered parties of Canadian fur-traders, &c.  Its physical and topographical geography, with some notions of its geology, have, as it were, but recently attracted attention.

Douglas Volk painting of Father Louis Hennepin at Saint Anthony Falls. ~ Commons.Wikimedia.org

Douglas Volk painting of Father Hennepin at Saint Anthony Falls.
~ Commons.Wikimedia.org

Father Antoine "Louis" Hennepin ~ Wikipedia.org

Father Antoine “Louis” Hennepin
~ Wikipedia.org

Father Hennepin was no doubt the first white man who visited St. Anthony’s falls.  In reaching them, however, he passed the mouth of St. Peter’s river, a short distance below, without noticing it, or being aware of its existence.  This was caused by the situation of an island found in the Mississippi, directly in front of the mouth of St. Peter’s, which, in a measure, conceals it from view.

After passing the falls, Father Hennepin continued to ascend the Mississippi to the St. Francis river, but went no higher.

Portrait of Jonathan Carver from his book, Travels through the interior parts of North America in the years 1766, 1767 and 1768. ~ Commons.Wikimedia.org

Portrait of Jonathan Carver from his book, Travels through the interior parts of North America in the years 1766, 1767 and 1768.
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

In the year 1766, three years after the fall of Canada, Captain Johnathan Carver, who had taken an active part as an officer in the English service, and was at the surrender of Fort William Henry, where (he says) 1,500 English troops were massacred by the Indians, (he himself narrowly escaping with his life,) prepared for a tour among the Indian tribes inhabiting the shores of the upper lakes and the upper valley of the Mississippi.  He left Boston in June of the year stated, and, proceeding by way of Albany and Niagara, reached Mackinac, where he fitted out for the prosecution of his journey to the banks of the Mississippi.

From Mackinac, he went to Green Bay; ascended the Fox river to the country of the Winnebago Indians; from thence, crossing some portages, and passing through Lake Winnebago, he descended the Wisconsin river to the Mississippi river; crossing which, he came to a halt at Prairie du Chien, in the country of the Sioux Indians.  At the early day, this was an important trading-post between French traders and the Indians.  Carver says: “It contains about three hundred families; the houses are well built, after the Indian manner, and well situated, on a very rich soil, from which they raise every necessary of life in great abundance.  This town is the great mart whence all the adjacent tribes – even those who inhabit the most remote branches of the Mississippi – annually assemble about the latter end of May, bringing with them their furs to dispose of to the traders.”  Carver also noticed that the people living there had some good horses.

Detail of Prairie du Chien from the 1769 Map showing Jonathan Carver's travels west of the Great Lakes. ~ Boston Public Library

Detail of Prairie du Chien from Carver [Jonathan], Captain. Journal of his travels with maps and drawings, 1766.
~ Boston Public Library

Prairie du Chien continues to be a place of some note, though, from its present appearance, it is not much larger than it was at the time of Carver’s visit.

Saint Peter’s River is now known as the Minnesota River.

The fur-trade, which at one time centred here, and gave it much consequence, has been removed to St. Peter’s river.  Indeed, this trade, which formerly gave employment to so many agents, traders, trappers, &c., conferring wealth upon those prosecuting it, is rapidly declining on this continent; in producing which, several causes conspire.  The first is, the animals caught for their furs have greatly diminished; and the second is, that competition in the trade has become more extensive and formidable, increasing as the white settlements continue to be pushed out to the West.

"John Jacob Astor portrait by John Wesley Jarvis, circa 1825." ~ Wikipedia.com

John Jacob Astor established the American Fur Company.
~ Wikipedia.com

At Prairie du Chien is still seen the large stone warehouse erected by John Jacob Astor, at a time when he ruled the trade, and realized immense profits by the business.  The United States have a snug garrison at this place, which imparts more or less animation to the scene.  It stands on an extensive and rather low plain, with high hills in the rear, running parallel with the Mississippi.

The house in which Carver lodged, when he visited this place, is still pointed out.  There are some men living at this post, whose grandfather acted as interpreter to Carver.  The Sioux Indians, whom Carver calls in his journal “the Nadowessies,” which is the Chippewa appellation for this tribe of Indians, keep up the tradition of Carver’s visit among them.  The inhabitants, descendants of the first settlers at Prairie du Chien, now living at this place, firmly believe in the truth of the gift of land made to Carver by the Sioux Indians.

From this point Carver visited St. Anthony’s falls, which he describes with great accuracy and fidelity, accompanying his description with a sketch of them.

Detail of Saint Anthony's Falls from Carver [Jonathan], Captain. Journal of his travels with maps and drawings, 1766. ~ Boston Public Library

Detail of Saint Anthony’s Falls from Carver [Jonathan], Captain. Journal of his travels with maps and drawings, 1766.
~ Boston Public Library

From St. Anthony’s falls, he continued to ascend the Mississippi till he reached, late in the season, the mouth of St. Francis river; when, returning from which, he repassed the falls, and entered the mouth of the St. Peter’s, up which he ascended to an extensive Sioux village, where he wintered with them.  The following spring he returned to them Mississippi with the Sioux, accompanying them to an extensive cave not far below the falls; to which point this tribe of Indians conveyed their dead to be buried.  This cave now goes by the name of “Carver’s cave.”  Mr. J. N. Nicollet visited it, and has given a description of it in his valuable “Report on the Upper Basin of the Upper Mississippi.”

The Bois Brulé River was featured in Saint Croix Falls of this series.

From the Mississippi river Carver crossed over to the Chippewa river; up which he ascended to its source, and then crossed a portage to the head of the Bois Brulé, which he called “Goddard’s river.”  Descending this latter stream to Lake Superior, he travelled around the entire northern shore of that lake from west to east, and accurately described the general appearance of the country, including notices of the existence of the copper rock on the Ontonagon, with copper-mineral ores at points along the northeastern shore of the lake, &c.

Detail of "Goddard's River," La Pointe, and Ontonagon from Carver [Jonathan], Captain. Journal of his travels with maps and drawings, 1766. ~ Boston Public Library

Detail of “Goddard River,” La Pointe, and Ontonagon from Carver [Jonathan], Captain. Journal of his travels with maps and drawings, 1766.
~ Boston Public Library

Jean-Baptiste Cadot, Sr. did business with Alexander Henry, the Elder.

He finally reached the Sault St. Marie, where he found a French Indian trader, (Monsieur Cadot,) who had built a stockade fort to protect him in his trade with the Indians.

Detail of Sault Ste Marie from Carver [Jonathan], Captain. Journal of his travels with maps and drawings, 1766. ~ Boston Public Library

Detail of Sault Ste Marie from Carver [Jonathan], Captain. Journal of his travels with maps and drawings, 1766.
~ Boston Public Library

Michel Cadotte (a son of Jean-Baptiste Cadot,Sr.) and his family became famous while living at La Pointe and working for the American Fur Company.

Descendants of this Monsieur Cadot are still living at the Sault and at La Pointe.  We met one of them returning to the latter place, in the St. Croix river, as we were descending it.  They, no doubt, inherit strong claims to land at the falls of the St. Mary’s river, which must ere long prove valuable to them, if properly prosecuted.

From the Sault St. Marie, Carver went to Mackinac, then garrisoned by the English, where he spent the winter.  The following year he reached Boston, having been absent about two years.

From Boston he sailed for England, with a view of publishing his travels, and securing his titles to the present of land the Sioux Indians have made him, and which it is alleged the English government pledged itself to confirm, through the command of the King, in whose presence the conveyance made to Carver by the Sioux Indians was read.  He not only signified his approval of the grant, but promised to fit out an expedition with vessels to sail to New Orleans, with the necessary men, &c., which Captain Carver was to head, and proceed from thence to the site of this grant, to take possession of it, by settling his people on it.  The breaking out of the American revolution suspended this contemplated expedition.

Captain Carver died poor, in London, in the year 1780, leaving two sons and five daughters.  I consider his description of the Indians among whom he travelled, detailing their customs, manners, and religion, the best that has ever been published.

Captain Duncan Graham was born in Scotland and married to Susanne Istagiwin “Ha-za-ho-ta-win” Pennishon.

In this opinion I am sustained by others, and especially by old Mr. Duncan Graham, whom I met on the Upper Mississippi.  He has lived among the Indians ever since the year 1783.  He is now between 70 and 80 years old.  He told me Carver’s book contained the best account of the customs and manners of the Indians he had ever read.

His valuable work is nearly out of print, it being rather difficult to obtain a copy.  It went through three editions in London.  Carver dedicated it to Sir Joseph Banks, president of the Royal Society.  Almost every winter on the Indians and Indian character, since Carver’s time, has made extensive plagiarisms from his book, without the least sort of acknowledgement.  I could name a number of authors who have availed themselves of Carver’s writings, without acknowledgement; but as they are still living, I do not wish to wound the feelings of themselves or friends.

Who were these plagiarizers?

One of the writers alluded to, gravely puts forth, as a speculation of his own, the suggestion that the Winnebagoes, and some other tribes of Indians now residing at the north, had, in former times, resided far to the south, and fled north from the wars and persecutions of the bloodthirsty Spaniards; that the opinion was strengthened from the fact, that the Winnebagoes retained traditions of their northern flight, and of the subsequent excursions of their war parties across the plains towards New Mexico, where, meeting with Spaniards, they had in one instance surprised and defeated a large force of them, who were travelling on horseback.

Now this whole idea originated with Carver; yet Mr. ——— has, without hesitation, adopted it as a thought or discovery as his own!

The next Englishman who visited the northwest, and explored the shores of Lake Superior, was Mr. Henry, who departed from Montreal, and reached Mackinac through Lake Huron, in a batteau laden with some goods.  His travels commenced, I believe, about 1773-‘4, and ended about 1776-‘7.  Mr. Henry’s explorations were conducted almost entirely with the view of opening a profitable trade with the Indians.  He happened in the country while the Indians retained a strong predilection in favor of the French, and strong prejudices against the English.  It being about the period of the Pontiac war, he had some hazardous adventures among the Indians, and came near losing his life.  He continued, however, to prosecute his trade with the Indians, to the north and west of Lake Superior.  Making voyages along the shores of this lake, he became favorably impressed with the mineral appearances of the country.  Finding frequently, through is voyageurs, or by personal inspections, rich specimens of copper ore, or of the metal in its native state, he ultimately succeeded in obtaining a charter from the English government, in conjunction with some men of wealth and respectability in London, for working the mines on Lake Superior.  The company, after making an ineffectual attempt to reach a copper vein, through clay, near the Ontonagon, the work was abandoned, and was not afterwards revived.

Lieutenant James Allen’s expedition on the Brule and Saint Croix Rivers was reproduced earlier on Chequamegon History.

General Cass, with Colonel Allen, &c., were the next persons to pass up the southern coast of Lake Superior, and, in going to the west and northwest of the lake, they travelled through Indian tribes in search of the head of the Mississippi river.  Their travels and discoveries are well known to the public, and proved highly interesting.

Mr. Schoolcraft’s travels, pretty much over the same ground, have also been given to the public; as also the expedition of General Pike on the Upper Mississippi.

More lately, the basin of the Upper Mississippi has received a further and more minute examination under the explorations directed by Major Long, in his two expeditions authorized by government.

Lastly, Mr. J. N. Nicollet, a French savan, travelling for some years through the United States with scientific objects in view, made an extensive examination of the basin of the Upper Mississippi.

He ascended the Missouri river to the Council Bluffs; where, arranging his necessary outfit of men, horses, provisions, &c., (being supplied with good instruments for making necessary observations,) he stretched across a vast tract of country to the extreme head-waters of the St. Peter’s, determining, as he went, the heights of places above the ocean, the latitude and longitude of certain points, with magnetic variations.  He reached the highland dividing the waters of the St. Peter’s from those of the Red river of the North.  He descended the St. Peter’s to its mouth; examined the position and geology of St. Anthony’s falls, and then ascended the same river as high as the Crow-wing river.  The secondary rock observed below the falls, changes for greenstone, sienite, &c., with erratic boulders.  On the east side of the river, a little below Pikwabik, is a large mass of sienitic rock with flesh-colored feldspar, extending a mile in length, half a mile in width, and 80 feet high.  This is called the Little Rock.  Higher up, on the same side, at the foot on the Knife rapids, there are sources that transport a very fine, brilliant, and bluish sand, accompanied by a soft and unctuous matter.  This appears to be the result of the decomposition of a steachist, probably interposed between the sienitic rocks mentioned.  The same thing is observed at the mouths of the Wabezi and Omoshkos rivers.

from Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River from Astronomical and Barometrical Observations Surveys and Information by Joseph Nicolas Nicollet, 1843. ~ David Rumsey Map Collection

Detail of Saint Anthony’s Falls and Saint Peter’s River from Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River from Astronomical and Barometrical Observations Surveys and Information by Joseph Nicolas Nicollet, 1843.
~ David Rumsey Map Collection

Ascending the Crow-wing river a short distance, Mr. Nicollet turned up Gull river, and proceeded as far as Pine river, taking White Fish lake in his way; and again ascended the east fork of Pine river, and reached Little Bay river, which he descended over rapids, &c., to Leech lake, where he spent some days in making astronomical observations, &c.  From Leech lake, he proceeded, through small streams and lakes, to that in which the Mississippi heads, called Itasca.  Having made all necessary observations at this point, he set out on his return down the Mississippi; and finally, reaching Fort Snelling at St. Peter’s, he spent the winter there.

Detail of Leech Lake and Lake Itasca from Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River from Astronomical and Barometrical Observations Surveys and Information by Joseph Nicolas Nicollet, 1843. ~ David Rumsey Map Collection

Detail of Leech Lake and Lake Itasca from Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River from Astronomical and Barometrical Observations Surveys and Information by Joseph Nicolas Nicollet, 1843.
~ David Rumsey Map Collection

Lake Itasca, in which the Mississippi heads, Mr. Nicollet found to be about 1,500 feet above the level of the ocean, and lying in lat. about 47° 10′ north, and in lon. 95° west of Greenwich.

This vast basin of the Upper Mississippi forms a most interesting and valuable portion of the North American continent.  From the number of its running streams and fresh-water lakes, and its high latitude, it cannot fail to prove a healthy residence for its future population.

It also contains the most extensive body of pine timber to be found in the entire valley of the Mississippi, and from which the country extending from near St. Anthony’s falls to St. Louis, for a considerable distance on each side of the river, and up many of its tributaries, must draw supplies of lumber for building purposes.

In addition to these advantages, the upper basin is rich in mines of lead and copper; and it is not improbable that silver may also be found.  Its agricultural resources are also very great.  Much of the land is most beautifully situated, and fertile in a high degree.  The climate is milder than that found on the same parallel of latitude east of the Alleghany mountains.  Mr. Nicollet fixes the mean temperature at Itasca lake at 43° to 44°; and at St. Peter’s near St. Anthony’s falls, at 45° to 46°

"Maiden Rock. Mississippi River." by Currier & Ives. Maiden's Rock Bluff. This location is now designated as Maiden Rock Bluff State Natural Area. ~ Springfield Museums

Maiden Rock. Mississippi River. by Currier & Ives. Maiden’s Rock Bluff. This location is now designated as Maiden Rock Bluff State Natural Area.
~ SpringfieldMuseums.org

Every part of this great basin that is arable will produce good wheat, potatoes, rye, oats, Indian corn to some extent, fine grasses, fruits, garden vegetables, &c.  There is no part of the Mississippi river flanked by such bold and picturesque ranges of hills, with flattened, broad summits, as are seen extending from St. Anthony’s falls down to Prairie du Chien, including those highlands bordering Lake Pepin, &c.  Among the cliffs of sandstone jutting out into perpendicular bluffs near the river, (being frequently over 100 feet high,) is seen one called Maiden’s rock.  it is said an Indian chief wished to force his daughter to marry another chief, while her affections were placed on another Indian; and that, rather than yield to her father’s wishes, she cast herself over this tall precipice, and met an instant death.  On hearing of which, her real lover, it is said, also committed suicide.  Self-destruction is very rare among the Indians; and we imagine, when it does occur, it must be produced by the strongest kind of influence over their passions.  Mental alienation, if not entirely unknown among them, must be exceedingly rare.  I have no recollection of ever having heard of a solitary case.

From St. Anthony’s falls to St. Louis is 900 miles.  The only impediment to the regular navigation of the river by steamboats, is experienced during low water at the upper and lower rapids.

"St. Louis Map circa 1845" ~ CampbellHouseMuseum.org

“St. Louis Map circa 1845”
~ CampbellHouseMuseum.org

The first are about 14 miles long, with a descent of only about 25 feet.  The lower rapids are 11 miles long, with a descent of 24 feet.  In each case, the water falls over beds of mountain or carboniferrous limestone, which it has worn into irregular and crooked channels.  By a moderate expenditure of money on the part of the general government, which ought to be made as early as practicable, these rapids could be permanently opened to the passage of boats.  As it is at present, boats, in passing the rapids at low water, and especially the lower rapids, have to employ barges and keel-boats to lighten them over, at very great expense.

From the rapid settlement of the country above, with the increasing trade in lumber and lead, the business on the Upper Mississippi is augmenting at a prodigious rate.  When the river is sufficiently high to afford no obstruction on the lower rapids, not less than some 28 or 30 boats run regularly between Galena and St. Louis – the distance being 500 miles.  Besides these, two or three steam packets run regularly to St. Anthony’s falls, or to St. Peter’s, near the foot of them.  Every year will add greatly to the number of these boats.  Other fine large and well-found packets run from St. Louis to Keokuk, at the foot of the lower rapids, four miles below which the Des Moines river enters the Mississippi river.  It is the opinion of Mr. Nicollet, that this river can be opened, by some slight improvements, for 100 miles above its mouth.  It is said the extensive body of land lying between the Des Moines and the Mississippi, and running for a long distance parallel with the left bank of the latter, contains the most lovely,rich and beautiful land to be found on the continent, if not in the world.  It is already pretty thickly settled.  Splendid crops of wheat and corn have been raised on farms opened upon it, the present year.  Much of the former we found had already arrived at depots on the river, in quantities far too great to find a sufficient number of boats, at the present low water, to carry it to market.

I do not see but the democratic party are regularly gaining strength throughout the great West, as the results of the recent elections, which have already reached you, sufficiently indicate.

Those who wish to obtain more general, as well as minute information, respecting the basin of the Upper Mississippi, I would recommend to consult the able report, accompanied with a fine map of the country, by Mr. J. N. Nicollet, and reprinted by order of the Congress at their last session.

I am, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

MORGAN.

 


 

This curious series of correspondences from “Morgan” is continued in the September 1 and September 5 issues of The Daily Union, where he arrived in New York City again after 4,200 miles and two and a half months on this delegation.  As those articles are not pertinent to the greater realm of Chequamegon History, this concludes our reproduction of these curious correspondences.

The End.

By Amorin Mello

This is a reproduction of Reuben Gold Thwaites’ 1895 “The Story of Chequamegon Bay”  to demonstrate how our local history has been institutionalized and portrayed since the end of the 19th century.  Thwaites’ professional legacy as a journalist is embedded in many institutions, including the following:

  • American Library Association
  • American Antiquarian Society
  • University of Wisconsin
  • Wisconsin State Journal
  • Wisconsin Historical Society
  • Mississippi Valley Historical Association

According to Wikipedia:

Thwaites was well-known for not being a mere academic, but rather as a historian who attempted to understand history by experiencing those aspects that he could, and bringing those experiences to life. In 1888 he took canoe trips on the Wisconsin, Fox and Rock rivers. In 1892 he took a bicycle trip across England. In 1903 he took a trip down the Ohio River in a rowboat.

Thwaites’ approach and work has been questioned, to some degree by his contemporaries but more so in modern times. His summaries include phraseology such as “[Europeans] left the most luxurious country in Europe to seek shelter in the foul and unwelcome huts of one of the most wretched races of man.” When editing the Jesuit Relations, he included background information that is generally credible and thorough with respect to events and Europe, but is far less thorough in regard to the disruptions from disease and other sources that the indigenous people themselves were facing. In other words, the criticism is that the original works were insensitive, and Thwaites failed to fully account for the prejudicial and inaccurate reporting in the Relations. However, Thwaites is also recognized as being the pioneer in an approach to using the Relations that is continuing to be enriched by modern scholarship, and so in a sense he started a process by which his very work could be corrected and improved as historians learn more about the periods in question.

The purpose of reproducing this story is to serve as an introduction to Chequamegon Bay history, and as a reference point for modern scholarship and primary research about Chequamegon Bay before 1860.

 


Reuben's A Story about Chequamegon History was originally published in Collections of the State Historical Societ of Wisconsin: Volume 13, 1895, pages 397-425. It was also published in American Antiquary , 1895, pages .

The Story about Chequamegon Bay was originally published in Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin: Volume XIII, by Reuben Gold Thwaites, 1895, pages 397-425.

The Story Of Chequamegon Bay.

by the Editor.

Reuben Gold Thwaites ~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Reuben Gold Thwaites
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

WE commonly think of Wisconsin as a young State. In a certain sense she is. There are men now living, two or three of whom I meet almost daily, who were blazing paths through the Wisconsin wilderness, only sixty years ago: men who cleared the forests and broke the prairies; who founded frontier communities which have developed into cities; who upon this far away border sowed the seeds of industries which to-day support tens of thousands of their fellows; who threw up their hats when the Territory was erected; and who sat in the convention which gave to the new State a constitution. The Wisconsin of to-day, the Wisconsin which we know, is indeed young; for the lively octogenarians who were in at the birth will not admit that they are now old. But there was an earlier, a less prosaic, a far more romantic Wisconsin,—the French Wisconsin; and it had flourished in its own fashion for full two centuries before the coming of the Anglo-Saxon, who, brusquely crowding the Creole to the wall, made of his old home an American Commonwealth.

In 1634, when the child born upon the Mayflower was but in her fourteenth year, Jean Nicolet, sent out by the enterprising Champlain as far as Wisconsin,— a thousand miles of canoe journey west from Quebec,— made trading contracts, such as they were, with a half-score of squalid tribes huddled in widely-separated villages throughout the broad wilderness lying between Lakes Superior and Michigan. It was a daring, laborious expedition, as notable in its day as Livingstone’s earliest exploits in Darkest Africa ; and although its results were slow of development,—for in the seventeenth century man was still cautiously deliberate,— this initial visit of the forest ambassador of New France to the country of the Upper Lakes broke the path for a train of events which were of mighty significance in American history.1

"Jean Nicolet, landing at the Bay of Green Bay in 1634. Painted by Franz Edward Rohrbeck (1852-1919) in 1910 into the mural in the rotunda of the Brown County Courthouse, Green Bay, Wisconsin. It shows Nicolet wearing a Chinese damask tunic strewn with flowers and birds, and discharging two pistols into the air." ~ Wikipedia.org

Jean Nicolet, landing at the Bay of Green Bay in 1634. Painted by Franz Edward Rohrbeck (1852-1919) in 1910 into the mural in the rotunda of the Brown County Courthouse, Green Bay, Wisconsin. It shows Nicolet wearing a Chinese damask tunic strewn with flowers and birds, and discharging two pistols into the air.”
~ Wikipedia.org

Let us examine the topography of Wisconsin. The State is situated at the head of the chain of Great Lakes. It is touched on the east by Lake Michigan, on the north by Lake Superior, on the west by the Mississippi, and is drained by interlacing rivers which so closely approach each other that the canoe voyager can with case pass from one great water system to the other; he can enter the continent at the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and by means of numerous narrow portages in Wisconsin emerge into the south-flowing Mississippi, eventually returning to the Atlantic through the Gulf of Mexico. From Lake Michigan, the Fox-Wisconsin river system was the most popular highway to the great river; into Lake Superior, there flow numerous turbulent streams from whose sources lead short portage trails over to the headwaters .of feeders of the Mississippi. From the western shore of Lake Superior, Pigeon River invites to exploration of the Winnipeg country, whence the canoeist can by a half-hundred easy routes reach the distant regions of Athabasca and the Polar Sea. In their early voyages to the head of lake navigation, it was in the course of nature that the French should soon discover Wisconsin; and having discovered it, learn that it was the key-point of the Northwest — the gateway to the entire continental interior. Thus, through Wisconsin’s remarkable system of interlacing waterways, to which Nicolet led the way, New France largely prosecuted her far-reaching forest trade and her missionary explorations, securing a nominal control of the basin of the Mississippi at a time when Anglo-Saxons had gained little more of the Atlantic slope than could be seen from the mast-head of a caravel. Thus the geographical character of Wisconsin became, early in the history of New France, an important factor. The trading posts and Jesuit missions on Chequamegon Bay2 of Lake Superior, and on Green Bay of Lake Michigan, soon played a prominent part in American exploration. The career of Green Bay is familiar to us all.3 I have thought it well hastily to summarize, in the brief space allowed me, the equally instructive story of Chequamegon Bay.

Outline Map showing the position of the ancient mine-pits of Point Keweenaw, Michigan ~ Ancient Mining on the Shores of Lake Superior, by Charles Whittlesey

“Outline Map showing the position of the ancient mine-pits of Point Keweenaw, Michigan” 
~ Ancient Mining on the Shores of Lake Superior, by Charles Whittlesey

The sandstone cliffs of Lake Superior were, many geologists think, among the first Laurentian islands to arise from the ancient ocean; if this be so, then the rim of our greatest inland sea is one of the oldest spots on earth. In its numerous mines of copper, prehistoric man long delved and wrought with rude hammers and chisels of stone, fashioning those curious copper implements which are carefully treasured in American museums of archaeology;4 and upon its rugged shores the Caucasian early planted his stake, when between him and New England tidewater all was savagery.

Pierre-Esprit Radisson ~ National Archives of Canada

Pierre d’Esprit Sieur Radisson
~ Dictionary of Canadian Biography

After the coming to Wisconsin of Nicolet, a long period followed, in which the energies of New France were devoted to fighting back the Iroquois, who swarmed before the very gates of Quebec and Montreal. Exploration was for the time impossible. A quarter of a century passes away before we have evidence of another white man upon Wisconsin soil.  In the spring of 1659, the Indians of the valley of the Fox were visited by two French fur-traders from the Lower St. Lawrence – Pierre d’Esprit, Sieur Radisson, and his sister’s husband, Medard Chouart, Sieur de Groseilliers.  In all American history there are no characters more picturesque than these two adventurous Creoles, who, in their fond desire to “travell and see countries,” and “to be known as the remotest people,” roamed at will over the broad region between St. Jame’s seaway and the Wisconsin River, having many curious experiences with wild beasts and wilder men.  They made several important geographical discoveries, – among them, probably, the discovery of the Mississippi River in 1659, fourteen years before the visit of Joliet and Marquette; and from a trading settlement proposed by them to the English, when their fellow-countrymen no longer gave them employment, developed the great establishment of the Hudson’s Bay Company.  The unconsciously-amusing narrative which Radisson afterwards wrote, for the editication of King Charles II, of England, is one of the most interesting known to American antiquaries.5

~ Arrival of Radisson in an Indian camp, 1660, by Charles William Jefferys

“Arrival of Radisson in an Indian camp, 1660” 
by Charles William Jefferys
~ Wikimedia.org

Two years after Radisson and Groseilliers were upon the Fox River, and made their notable trip to the Mississippi, they were again in the Northwest (autumn of 1661), and this time upon Lake Superior, which they had approached by carrying around the Sault Ste. Marie.  Skirting the southern shore of the lake, past the now famous Pictured Rocks, they carried across Keweenaw Point, visited a band of Christino Indians6 not far from the mouth of Montreal River, now the far western boundary between Upper Michigan and Wisconsin, and, portaging across the base of the Chequamegon Island of to-day, – then united to the mainland,- entered beautiful Chequamegon Bay.  Just where they made their camp, it is impossible from Radisson’s confused narrative to say; but that it was upon the mainland no Wisconsin antiquary now doubts, and we have reason to believe that it was upon the southwest shore, between the modern towns of Ashland and Washburn.7

"The First House Built by White Men in Wisconsin Was Erected near this Spot by Radisson and Groselliers in the Fall of 1858." ~ Wisconsin Historical Society

“Close-up of the Radisson and Groseilliers house historic site marker, commemorating the first house built in Wisconsin by white men. The house was believed to have stood in the vicinity of Ashland at the mouth of Fish Creek where it empties into Chequamegon Bay.”
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Our chronicler writes, with a particularity of detail suggestive of De Foe:

“We went about to make a fort of stakes, w’ was in this manner.  Suppose that the watter-side had ben in one end; att the same end there should be murtherers, and att need we made a bastion in a triangle to defend us from assault.  The doore was neare the watter side, our fire was in the midle, and our bed on the right hand, covered.  There were boughs of trees all about our fort layed acrosse, one uppon an other.  Besides those boughs, we had a long cord tyed w’ some small bells, w’ weare sentereys.  Finally, we made an ende of that fort in 2 dayes’ time.”

"Front view of the Radisson cabin, the first house built by a white man in Wisconsin. It was built between 1650 and 1660 on Chequamegon Bay, in the vicinity of Ashland. This drawing is not necessarily historically accurate." ~ Wisconsin Historical Society

“Front view of the Radisson cabin, the first house built by a white man in Wisconsin. It was built between 1650 and 1660 on Chequamegon Bay, in the vicinity of Ashland. This drawing is not necessarily historically accurate.”
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Modernize this statement, and in imagination we can see this first dwelling erected by man on the shores of Lake Superior; a small log hut, built possibly on the extremity of a small rocky promontory; the door opens to the water front, while the land side, to the rear of the hut, is defended by a salient of palisades stretching from bank to bank of the narrow promontory; all about the rude structure is a wall of pine boughs piled one upon the other, with a long cord intertwined, and on this cord are strung numbers of the little hawk-bells then largely used in the Indian trade for purposes of gift and barter. It was expected that in case of a night attack from savages, who might be willing to kill them for the sake of their stores, the enemy would stir the boughs and unwittingly ring the bells, thus arousing the little garrison. These ingenious defenses were not put to the test, although no doubt they had a good moral effect; in keeping the thieving Hurons at a respectful distance.

Winter was just setting in. The waters of the noble bay were taking on that black and sullen aspect peculiar to the season. The beautiful islands, later named for the Twelve Apostles,8 looked gloomy indeed in their dark evergreen mantles. From the precipitous edges of the red-sandstone cliffs, which girt about this estuary of our greatest inland sea, the dense pine forests stretched westward and southward for hundreds of miles. Here and there in the primeval depths was a cluster of starveling Algonkins, still trembling from fear of a return of the Iroquois, who had chased them from Canada into this land of swamps and tangled woods, where their safety lay in hiding. At wide intervals, uncertain trails led from village to village, and in places the rivers were convenient highways; these narrow paths, however, beset with danger in a thousand shapes, but emphasized the unspeakable terrors of the wilderness.

"The Search for Wisconsin's First Priest" ~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Père René Ménard
“The Search for Wisconsin’s First Priest”
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Radisson and Groseilliers, true coureurs de bois, were not daunted by the dangers which daily beset them. After caching their goods, they passed the winter of 1661-62 with their Huron neighbors, upon a prolonged hunt, far into the Mille Lacs region of Minnesota. The season was phenomenally severe, and the Indians could not find game enough to sustain life. A famine ensued in the camp, the tragical details of which are painted by our friend Radisson with Hogarthian minuteness. In the spring of 1662, the traders were back again at Chequamegon, and built another fortified shelter, this time possibly on the sand-spit of Shagawaumikong,9 from which base they once more wandered in search of adventures and peltries, going as far northwest as Lake Assiniboine, and later in the season returning to their home on the Lower St. Lawrence.

When Radisson’s party went to Lake Superior, in the autumn of 1661, they were accompanied as far as Keweenaw Bay by a Jesuit priest. Father Pierre Ménard, who established there a mission among the Ottawas. The following June, disheartened in his attempt to convert these obdurate tribesmen, Ménard set out for the Huron villages on the upper waters of the Black and Chippewa, but perished on the way.10

It was not until August of 1665, three years later, that Father Claude Allouez, another Jesuit, was sent to reopen the abandoned Ottawa mission on Lake Superior. He chose his site on the southwestern shore of Chequamegon Bay, possibly the same spot on which Radisson’s hut had been built, four years previous, and piously called his mission and the locality La Pointe du Saint Esprit, which in time was shortened to La Pointe.11

Detail of La Pointe du Saint Espirit <br/>from Claude Allouez Map of New France, 1669.<br /> ~ Research Laboratories of Archaeology

Detail of La Pointe du Saint Esprit
from Claude Allouez map’s of New France, 1669.
~ Research Laboratories of Archaeology

Claude Allouez ~ National Park Service

Portrayal of Claude Allouez
~ National Park Service

At the time of Radisson’s visit, the shores of Chequamegon Bay were uninhabited save by a few half-starved Hurons ; but soon thereafter it became the centre of a considerable Indian population, residents of several tribes having been drawn thither, first, by the fisheries, second, by a fancied security in so isolated a region against the Iroquois of the East and the wild Sioux of the West. When Allouez arrived in this polyglot village, October 1, he found there Chippewas, Pottawattómies, Kickapoos, Sauks, and Foxes, all of them Wisconsin tribes; besides these were Hurons, Ottawas, Miamis, and Illinois,— victims of Iroquois hate who had fled in droves before the westward advances of their merciless tormentors.

Pere_Marquette

Jacques Marquette
aka James (Jim) or Père Marquette
~ Wikipedia

Despite his large congregations, Allouez made little headway among these people, being consoled for his hardships and ill-treatment by the devotion of a mere handful of followers. For four years did he labor alone in the Wisconsin wilderness, hoping against hope, varying the monotony of his dreary task by occasional canoe voyages to Quebec, to report progress to his father superior.  Father James Marquette, a more youthful zealot, was at last sent to relieve him, and in September, 1669, arrived at La Pointe from Sault Ste. Marie, after spending a full month upon, the journey,—so hampered was he, at that early season, by snow and ice. Allouez, thus relieved from a work that had doubtless palled upon him, proceeded upon invitation of the Pottawattomies to Green Bay, where he arrived early in December, and founded the second Jesuit mission in Wisconsin, St. Francis Xavier, on the site of the modern town of Depere.12

Marquette had succeeded to an uncomfortable berth. Despite his strenuous efforts as a peacemaker, his dusky parishioners soon unwisely quarreled with their western neighbors, the Sioux,13 with the result that the La Pointe bands, and Marquette with them, were driven like leaves before an autumn blast eastward along the southern shore of the great lake: the Ottawas taking up their home in the Manitoulin Islands of Lake Huron, the Hurons accompanying Marquette to the Straits of Mackinaw, where he established the mission of St. Ignace.

With La Pointe mission abandoned, and Lake Superior closed to French enterprise by the “raging Sioux,” the mission at Depere now became the centre of Jesuit operations in Wisconsin, and it was a hundred and sixty-four years later (1835), before mass was again said upon the forest-fringed shores of Chequamegon Bay.

"Daniel Greysolon Sieur Dulhut at the Head of the Lakes - 1679." ~ Painted by artist Francis Lee Jaques, c.1922.

“‘Daniel Greysolon Sieur Dulhut at the Head of the Lakes – 1679.’  Painted by artist Francis Lee Jaques, c.1922.”
~ Minnesota Historical Society

Although the missionary had deserted La Pointe, the fur trader soon came to be much in evidence there. The spirit of Radisson and Groseilliers long permeated this out-of-the-way corner of the Northwest. We find (1673), three years after Marquette’s expulsion. La Salle’s trading agent, Sieur Raudin, cajoling the now relentent Sioux at the western end of Lake Superior. In the summer of 1679, that dashing coureur de bois, Daniel Grayson du l’ Hut,14 ascended the St. Louis River, which divides Wisconsin and Minnesota, and penetrated with his lively crew of voyageurs to the Sandy Lake country, being probably the first white trader upon the head-waters of the Mississippi. The succeeding winter, he spent in profitable commerce with the Assiniboines, Crees, and other northern tribes in the neighborhood of Grand Portage,15 on the boundary between Minnesota and Canada. In June, 1680, probably unaware of the easier portage by way of the Mille Lacs and Rum River, Du I’ Hut set out at the head of a small company of employees to reach the Mississippi by a new route. Entering the narrow and turbulent Bois Brulé,16 half-way along the southern shore of Lake Superior, between Red Cliff and St. Louis River, he with difficulty made his way over the fallen trees and beaver dams which then choked its course. From its head waters there is a mile-long portage to the upper St. Croix; this traversed. Du l’ Hut was upon a romantic stream which swiftly carried him, through foaming rapids and deep, cool lakes, down into the Father of Waters. Here it was that he heard of Father Louis Hennepin’s captivity among the Sioux, and with much address and some courage rescued that doughty adventurer, and carried him by way of the Fox-Wisconsin route in safety to Mackinaw.

“Sources vary on the details of Pierre-Charles Le Sueur‘s origins and early life. Some indicate he was a native of France, while others suggest he was born in French Canada.”

“In 1693, Le Sueur founded a trading post on the site of present-day La Pointe on Madeline Island, the largest of Chequamegon Bay’s Apostle Islands. After hearing reports of what he believed were valuable deposits of copper ore south of Lake Superior, he traveled to France in 1697, where the French government granted him permission to mine these resources.”
Encyclopedia of Exploration, vol. 1,  2004.

An adventurous forest trader, named Le Sueur, was the next man to imprint his name on the page of Lake Superior history. The Fox Indians, who controlled the valleys of the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers, had for various reasons become so hostile to the French that those divergent streams were no longer safe as a gateway from the Great Lakes to the Great River.  The tendency of the prolonged Fox War was to force fur trade travel to the portages of Chicago and St. Joseph’s on the south, and those of Lake Superior on the north.17  It was with a view to keeping open one of Du l’ Hut’s old routes, – the Bois Brulé and St. Croix Rivers,- that Le Sueur was despatched by the authorities of New France in 1693.  He built a stockaded fort on Madelaine island, convenient for guarding the northern approach,18 and another on an island in the Mississippi, below the mouth of the St. Croix, and near the present town of Red Wing, Minnesota.  The post in the Mississippi soon became “the centre of commerce for the Western parts”; and the station in Chequamegon Bay also soon rose to importance, for the Chippewas, who had drifted far inland into Wisconsin and Minnesota with the growing scarcity of game,- the natural result of the indiscriminate slaughter which the fur trade encouraged, – were induced by the new trading facilities to return to their old bay shore haunts, massing themselves in an important village on the southwestern shore.

This incident strikingly illustrates the important part which the trader early came to play in Indian life.  At first an agriculturalist in a small way, and a hunter and fisher only so far as the daily necessities of food and clothing required, the Indian was induced by the white man to kill animals for their furs, – luxuries ever in great demand in the marts of civilization.  The savage wholly devoted himself to the chase, and it became necessary for the white man to supply him with clothing, tools, weapons, and ornaments of European manufacture; the currency as well as the necessities of the wilderness.19  These articles the savage had heretofore laboriously fashioned for himself at great expenditure of time; no longer was he content with native manufactures, and indeed he quickly lost his old-time facility for making them.  It was not long before he was almost wholly dependent on the white trader for the commonest conveniences of life; no longer being tied to his fields, he became more and more a nomad, roving restlessly to and fro in search of fur-bearing game, and quickly populating or depopulating a district according to the conditions of trade.  Without his trader, he quickly sank into misery and despair; with the advent of the trader, a certain sort of prosperity once more reigned in the tepee of the red man.  In the story of Chequamegon Bay, the heroes are the fur trader and the missionary; and of these the fur trader is the greater, for without his presence on this scene there would have been no Indians to convert.

“1718. – A post was founded at Chequamegon by Paul le Gardeur, sieur de St. Pierre, with Godefroy de Linctot second in command.  A settlement of French traders was this year reported as existing at Green Bay.”
~ State of Wisconsin Blue Book, 1925, page 66.

Although Le Sueur was not many years in command upon Chequamegon Bay,20 we catch frequent glimpses thereafter of stockaded fur trade stations here, – French, English, and American, in turn, – the most of them doubtless being on Madelaine Island, which was easily defensible from the mainland.21 We know that in 1717 there was a French trader at La Pointe – the popular name for the entire bay district—for he was asked by Lt. Robertel de la Noüe, who was then at Kaministiquoya, to forward a letter to a certain Sioux chief. In September, 1718, Captain Paul Legardeur St. Pierre, whose mother was a daughter of Jean Nicolet, Wisconsin’s first explorer, was sent to command at Chequamegon, assisted by Ensign Linctot, the authorities of the lower country having been informed that the Chippewa chief there was, with his fellow-chief at Keweenaw, going to war with the Foxes. St. Pierre was at Chequamegon for at least a year, and was succeeded by Linctot, who effected an important peace between the Chippewas and Sioux.22

“Fort La Pointe was the second French fort on the island; the first, erected by Le Sueur in 1693 and abandoned in 1698, held open the route from Lake Superior to the Mississippi for French trade. Fort La Pointe was established to maintain peace among te Indian tribes in this region. In 1727 Louis Denis, Sieur de la Ronde, was given command of the fort. While La Ronde was in charge, the fort was garrisoned; a dock and probably a mill were built; some agriculture was carried on.
The Indians at La Pointe told the French of an island of copper guarded by spirits; La Ronde, when he heard of the mineral, requested permission from the French Government to combine his duties at the fort with mining. he was not given permission to operate the mines until 1733, and in 1740 his mining activities were halted by an outbreak between the Sioux and the Chippewa. Nonetheless, La Ronde is known as the first practical miner on Lake Superior, and the man who opened this region for settlement by white men.”
~ The WPA Guide to Wisconsin, by Federal Writers’ Project, 2013, page 348.
“After the failure of the mining enterprise, La Ronde sought promotion to commandant of the colonial regular troops in New France, as well as promotions for two of his sons, Philippe and Pierre-François-Paul, both of whom were officers. Philippe had served at Chagouamigon during his father’s absences and took over permanently when La Ronde died in 1741.”
~ Dictionary of Canadian Biography

Whether a garrisoned fort was maintained at Chequamegon Bay, from St. Pierre’s time to the close of the French domination, it is impossible to say; but it seems probable; for the geographical position was one of great importance in the development of the fur trade, and the few records we have mention the fort as one of long standing.23  In 1730, it is recorded, that a nugget of copper was brought to the post by an Indian, and search was at once made for a mine; but October 18, 1731, the authorities of New France wrote to the home office in Paris that, owing to the superstitions of the Indians, which led them to conceal mineral wealth from the whites, no copper mine had thus far been found in the neighborhood of Chequamegon Bay. The commandant of Chequamegon at this time was Sieur La Ronde Denis, known to history as La Ronde,— like his predecessors, for the most part, a considerable trader in these far Western parts, and necessarily a man of enterprise and vigor. La Ronde was for many years the chief trader in the Lake Superior country, his son and partner being Denis de La Ronde.  They built for their trade a boat of 40 tons, which was without doubt “the first vessel on the great lake, with sails larger than an Indian blanket.” 24 On account of the great outlay they had incurred in this and other undertakings in the wilderness, the post of Chequamegon, with its trading monopoly, had been given to the elder La Ronde, according to a despatch of that day, “as a gratuity to defray expenses.” Other allusions to the La Rondes are not infrequent: in 1736,25 the son is ordered to investigate a report of a copper mine at Iron River, not far east of the Bois Brulé; in the spring of 1740, the father is at Mackinaw on his return to Chequamegon from a visit to the lower country, but being sick is obliged to return to Montreal;26 and in 1744, Bellin’s map gives the name “Isle de la Ronde” to what we now know as Madelaine, fair evidence that the French post of this period was on that island.

1744 Belin isle de ronde

Detail of Isle de la Ronde from Carte des lacs du Canada by Jacques-Nicolas Bellin, 1744.
Wisconsin Historical Society

Pierre-Joseph Hertel, sieur de Beaubassin: (1715 – ?)
Pierre-Joseph was the son of Joseph Hertel de St.Francois & Catherine Philippe, born in Trois-Rivieres. He married Catherine-Madeleine Jarrot (daughter of Jean Bte.Jarrot, sieur de Vercheres & Madeleine Francoise d’Ailleboust de Manthet) in 1751. [Her father commanded the post at Green Bay in 1747].
Pierre-Joseph followed in his families tradition and was a captain on a raid of Albany in 1756 during the King George’s War. From 1756 to 1758 he was commander of the post of Lapointe (in today’s northern Wisconsin) and sailed for France after the loss of Canada to the British.”
~ [Unknown].

We hear nothing more of importance concerning Chequamegon until about 1756, when Hertel de Beaubassin, the last French commandant there, was summoned to Lower Canada with his Chippewa allies, to do battle against the English.27  For several years past, wandering English fur traders had been tampering with the Chippewas of Lake Superior, who in consequence frequently maltreated their old friends, the French;28 but now that the tribe were summoned for actual fighting in the lower country, with extravagant promises of presents, booty, and scalps, they with other Wisconsin Indians eagerly flocked under the French banner, and in painted swarms appeared on the banks of the St. Lawrence, with no better result than to embarrass the French commissariat and thus unwittingly aid the ambitious English.

New France was tottering to her fall. The little garrison on Madelaine Island had been withdrawn from the frontier, with many another like it, to help in the defense of the lower country ; and the Upper Lakes, no longer policed by the fur trade monopoly, were free plunder for unlicensed traders, or coureurs des bois. Doubtless such were the party who encamped upon the island during the autumn of 1760. By the time winter had set in upon them, all had left for their wintering grounds in the forests of the far West and Northwest, save a clerk named Joseph, who remained in charge of the stores and the local traffic. With him were his little family,—his wife, who was from Montreal, his child, a small boy, and a man-servant, or voyageur. Traditions differ as to the cause of the servant’s action,— some have it, a desire for wholesale plunder; others, the being detected in a series of petty thefts, which Joseph threatened to report; others, an unholy and unrequited passion for Joseph’s wife. However that may be, the servant murdered first the clerk, and then the wife; and in a few days, stung by the piteous cries of the child, the lad himself. When the spring came, and the traders returned to Chequamegon, they inquired for Joseph and his family, but the servant’s reply was unsatisfactory and he finally confessed to his horrid deed. The story goes, that in horror the traders dismantled the old French fort as a thing accursed, sunk the cannon in a neighboring pool, and so destroyed the palisade that to-day naught remains save grassy mounds. Carrying their prisoner with them on their return voyage to Montreal, he is said to have escaped to the Hurons, among whom he boasted of his deed, only to be killed as too cruel a companion even for savages.29

1769 twelve apostle islands jonathan carver

Detail of “The 12 Apostles” from Captain Jonathan Carver’s journal of his travels with maps and drawings, 1769. ~ Boston Public Library

Alexander Henry , The Elder. ~ Wikipedia.com

Alexander Henry , The Elder.
~ Wikipedia.com

New France having now fallen, an English trader, Alexander Henry, spent the winter of 1765-66 upon the mainland, opposite the island.30  Henry had obtained from the English commandant at Mackinaw the exclusive trade of Lake Superior, and at Sault Ste. Marie took into partnership with him Jean Baptiste Cadotte,31 a thrifty Frenchman, who for many years thereafter was one of the most prominent characters on the Upper Lakes. Henry and Cadotte spent several winters together on Lake Superior, but only one upon the shores of Chequamegon, which Henry styles “the metropolis of the Chippeways.32

JohnJohnston

John Johnston
~ Homestead.org

The next dweller at Chequamegon Bay, of whom, we have record, was John Johnston, a Scotch-Irish fur trader of some education. Johnston established himself on Madelaine Island, not far from the site of the old French fort; some four miles across the water, on the mainland to the west, near where is now the white town of Bayfield, was a Chippewa village with whose inhabitants he engaged in traffic. Waubojeeg (White Fisher), a forest celebrity in his day, was the village chief at this time, and possessed of a comely daughter whom Johnston soon sought and obtained in marriage. Taking his bride to his island home, Johnston appears to have lived there for a year or two in friendly commerce with the natives, at last retiring to his old station at Sault Ste. Marie.33

Mention has been made of Jean Baptiste Cadotte, who was a partner of Alexander Henry in the latter’s Lake Superior trade, soon after the middle of the century. Cadotte, whose wife was a Chippewa, after his venture with Henry had returned to Sault Ste. Marie, from which point he conducted an extensive trade through the Northwest. Burdened with advancing years, he retired from the traffic in 1796, and divided the business between his two sons, Jean Baptiste and Michel.

Michel Cadotte ~ Findagrave.com

Michel Cadotte
~ Findagrave.com

About the opening of the present century,34 Michel took up his abode on Madelaine Island, and from that time to the present there has been a continuous settlement upon it. He had been educated at Montreal, and marrying Equaysayway, the daughter of White Crane, the village chief of La Pointe,35 at once became a person of much importance in the Lake Superior country. Upon the old trading site at the southwestern corner of the island, by this time commonly called La Pointe,— borrowing the name, as we have seen, from the original La Pointe, on the mainland, and it in turn from Point Chequamegon,—Cadotte for over a quarter of a century lived at his ease; here he cultivated a “comfortable little farm,” commanded a fluctuating, but often far-reaching fur trade, first as agent of the Northwest Company and later of Astor’s American Fur Company, and reared a considerable family, the sons of which were, as he had been, educated at Montreal, and became the heads of families of Creole traders, interpreters, and voyageurs whom antiquarians now eagerly seek when engaged in bringing to light the French and Indian traditions of Lake Superior.36

La Pointe Beaver Money Northern Outfit, American Fur Company ~ Wisconsin Academy of Science, Arts, & Letters, volume 54, page 159.

La Pointe Beaver Money
Northern Outfit, American Fur Company
~ Wisconsin Academy of Science, Arts, & Letters, volume 54, page 159.

In the year 1818 there came to the Lake Superior country two sturdy, fairly-educated37 young men, natives of the Berkshire hills of Massachusetts,—Lyman Marcus Warren, and his younger brother, Truman Abraham. They were of the purest New England stock, being lineally descended from Richard Warren, one of the “Mayflower” company. Engaging in the fur trade, the brothers soon became popular with the Chippewas, and in 1821 still further entrenched themselves in the affections of the tribesmen by marrying the two half-breed daughters of old Michel Cadotte,—Lyman taking unto himself Mary, while Charlotte became the wife of Truman. At first the Warrens worked in opposition to the American Fur Company, but John Jacob Astor’s lieutenants were shrewd men and understood the art of overcoming commercial rivals. Lyman was made by them a partner in the lake traffic, and in 1824 established himself at-La Pointe as the company’s agent for the Lac Flambeau, Lac Courte Oreille, and St. Croix departments, an arrangement which continued for some fourteen years. The year previous, the brothers had bought out the interests of their father-in-law, who now, much reduced in means, retired to private life after forty years’ prosecution of the forest trade.38

1834 Map of LaPointe by Lyman Warren

American Fur Company “Map of La Pointe”
by Lyman Marcus Warren, 1834. 
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

The brothers Warren were the last of the great La Pointe fur traders.39 Truman passed away early in his career, having expired in 1825, while upon a voyage between Mackinaw and Detroit. Lyman lived at La Pointe until 1838, when his connection with the American Fur Company was dissolved, and then became United States sub-agent to the Chippewa reservation on Chippewa River, where he died on the tenth of October, 1847, aged fifty-three years.40

1856 ojibwe bible shermal hall

Iu Otoshki-Kikindiuin Au Tebeniminvng Gaie Bemajiinung Jesus Christ, Ima Ojibue Inueuining Giizhitong:
The New Testament of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
by Sherman Hall and Henry Blatchford, 1856.
~ Archive.org

Lyman Marcus Warren was a Presbyterian, and, although possessed of a Catholic wife, was the first to invite Protestant missionaries to Lake. Superior. Not since the days of Allouez had there been an ordained minister at La Pointe; Warren was solicitous for the spiritual welfare of his Chippewa friends, especially the young, who were being reared without religious instruction, and subject to the demoralizing influence of a rough element of white borderers. The Catholic Church was not just then ready to reenter the long-neglected field; his predilections, too, were for the Protestant faith. In 1830, while upon his annual summer trip to Mackinaw for supplies, be secured the cooperation of Frederick Ayer, of the Mackinaw mission, who returned with him in his batteau as lay preacher and school-teacher, and opened at La Pointe what was then the only mission upon the shores of the great lake. Thither came in Warren’s company, the latter part of August, the following year (1831), Rev. Sherman Hall and wife, who served as missionary and teacher, respectively, and Mrs. John Campbell, an interpreter.41

La Pointe was then upon the site of the old French trading post at the southwest corner of Madelaine Island; and there, on the first Sunday afternoon after his arrival, Mr. Hall preached “the first sermon ever delivered in this place by a regularly-ordained Christian minister.” The missionaries appear to have been kindly received by the Catholic Creoles, several of whom were now domiciled at La Pointe. The school was patronized by most of the families upon the island, red and white, who had children of proper age. By the first of September there was an average attendance of twenty-five. Instruction was given almost wholly in the English language, with regular Sunday-school exercises for the children, and frequent gospel meetings for the Indian and Creole adults.

We have seen that the first La Pointe village was at the southwestern extremity of the island. This was known as the “Old Fort” site, for here had been the original Chippewa village, and later the fur-trading posts of the French and English. Gradually, the old harbor became shallow, because of the shifting sand, and unfit for the new and larger vessels which came to be used in the fur trade.

The American Fur Company therefore built a “New Fort” a few miles farther north, still upon the west shore of the island, and to this place, the present village, the name La Pointe came to be transferred. Half-way between the “Old fort” and the “New fort,” Mr. Hall erected (probably in 1832) “a place for worship and teaching,” which came to be the centre of Protestant missionary work in Chequamegon Bay.

leonard hemenway wheeler from unnamed wisconsin

Leonard Hemenway Wheeler
~ Unnamed Wisconsin by John Nelson Davidson, 1895.

At that time, the Presbyterians and Congregationalists were, in the American Home Missionary Society and the American Board, united in the conduct of Wisconsin missions, and it is difficult for a layman to understand to which denomination the institution of the original Protestant mission at La Pointe may properly be ascribed. Warren was, according to Neill, a Presbyterian, so also, nominally, were Ayer and Hall, although the last two were latterly rated as Congregationalists. Davidson, a Congregational authority, says: “The first organization of a Congregational church within the present limits of Wisconsin took place at La Pointe in August, 1833, in connection with this mission”;42 and certainly the missionaries who later came to assist Hall were of the Congregational faith; these were Rev. Leonard Hemenway Wheeler and wife, Rev. Woodbridge L. James and wife, and Miss Abigail Spooner. Their work appears to have been as successful as such proselyting endeavors among our American Indians can hope to be, and no doubt did much among the Wisconsin Chippewas to stem the tide of demoralization which upon the free advent of the whites overwhelmed so many of our Western tribes.

James’ family did not long remain at La Pointe. Wheeler was soon recognized as the leading spirit there, although Hail did useful service in the field of publication, his translation of the New Testament into Chippewa (completed in 1836) being among the earliest of Western books. Ayer eventually went to Minnesota. In May, 1845, owing to the removal of the majority of the La Pointe Indians to the new Odanah mission, on Bad River, Wheeler removed thither, and remained their civil, as well as spiritual, counselor until October, 1866, when he retired from the service, full of years and conscious of a record of noble deeds for the uplifting of the savage. Hall tarried at La Pointe until 1853, when he was assigned to Crow Wing reservation, on the Mississippi, thus ending the Protestant mission on Chequamegon Bay. The new church building, begun in 1887, near the present La Pointe landing, had fallen into sad decay, when, in July, 1892, it became the property of the Lake Superior Congregational Club, who purpose to preserve it as an historic treasure, being the first church-home of their denomination in Wisconsin.

Not far from this interesting relic of Protestant pioneering at venerable La Pointe, is a rude structure dedicated to an older faith. Widely has it been advertised, by poets, romancers, and tourist agencies, as “the identical log structure built by Père Marquette”; while within there hangs a picture which we are soberly told by the cicerone was “given by the Pope of that time to Marquette, for his mission church in the wilderness.” It is strange how this fancy was born; stranger still that it persists in living, when so frequently proved unworthy of credence. It is as well known as any fact in modern Wisconsin history,— based on the testimony of living eyewitnesses, as well as on indisputable records,—that upon July 27, 1835, five years after Cadotte had introduced Ayer to Madelaine Island, there arrived at the hybrid village of La Pointe, with but three dollars in his pocket, a worthy Austrian priest. Father (afterwards Bishop) Frederic Baraga. By the side of the Indian graveyard at Middleport, he at once erected “a log chapel, 50×20 ft. and 18 ft. high,” and therein he said mass on the ninth of August, one hundred and sixty-four years after Marquette had been driven from Chequamegon Bay by the onslaught of the Western Sioux.43  Father Baraga’s resuscitated mission, still bearing the name La Pointe, as had the mainland missions of Allouez and Marquette,—throve apace. His “childlike simplicity,” kindly heart, and self-sacrificing labors in their behalf, won to him the Creoles and the now sadly-impoverished tribesmen; and when, in the winter of 1836-37, he was in Europe begging funds for the cause, his simpIe-hearted enthusiasm met with generous response from the faithful.

"Bishop Frederic Baraga, three-quarter length portrait, facing three-quarters to right, seated, in clerical robes, holding his Dictionary of the Otchipwe Language" ~ Library of Congress

“Bishop Frederic Baraga, three-quarter length portrait, facing three-quarters to right, seated, in clerical robes, holding his Dictionary of the Otchipwe Language”
~ Library of Congress

Returning to La Pointe in 1837, he finished his little chapel, built log-houses for his half-starved parishioners, and lavished attentions upon them; says Father Verwyst, himself an experienced missionary among the Chippewas : “In fact, he gave them too much altogether—so to say— spoiled them by excessive kindness.” Four years later, his chapel being ill-built and now too small, he had a new one constructed at the modern village of La Pointe, some of the materials of the first being used in the second. This is the building, blessed by Father Baraga on the second Sunday of August, 1841, which is to-day falsely shown to visitors as that of Father Marquette. It is needless to say that no part of the ancient mainland chapel of the Jesuits went into its construction; as for the picture, a “Descent from the Cross,” alleged to have once been in Marquette’s chapel, we have the best of testimony that it was imported by Father Baraga himself from Europe in 1841, he having obtained it there the preceding winter, when upon a second tour to Rome, this time to raise funds for the new church.44 This remarkable man though later raised to a missionary bishopric, continued throughout his life to labor for the uplifting of the Indiana of the Lake Superior country with a self-sacrificing zeal which is rare in the annals of any church, and established a lasting reputation as a student of Indian philology. He left La Pointe mission in 1853, to devote himself to the Menomonees, leaving his work among the Chippewas of Chequamegon Bay to be conducted by others. About the year 1877, the white town of Bayfield, upon the mainland opposite, became the residence of the Franciscan friars who were now placed, in charge. Thus, while the Protestant mission, after a relatively brief career of prosperity, has long, since been removed to Odanah, the Catholics to this day retain possession of their ancient field in Chequamegon Bay.

1843 View of La Pointe ~ Wisconsin Historical Society

View of La Pointe, circa 1843.  
“American Fur Company with both Mission churches. Sketch purportedly by a Native American youth. Probably an overpainted photographic copy enlargement. Paper on a canvas stretcher.”
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

In closing, let us briefly rehearse the changes in the location of La Pointe, and thus clear our minds of some misconceptions into which several historians have fallen.

  1. As name-giver, we have Point Chequamegon (or. Shagawaumikong). Originally a long sand-spit hemming in Chequamegon Bay on the east, it is now an island. The most conspicuous object in the local topography, it gave name to the district; and here, at the time of the Columbian discovery, was the Chippewa stronghold.
  2. The mission of La Pointe du St. Esprit, founded by Allouez, was, it seems well established, on the mainland at the southwestern corner of the bay, somewhere between the present towns of Ashland and Washburn, and possibly on the site of Radisson’s fort. The point which suggested to Allouez the name of his mission was, of course, the neighboring Point Chequamegon.
  3. The entire region of Chequamegon Bay came soon to bear this name of La Pointe, and early within the present century it was popularly attached to, the island which had previously borne many names, and to-day is legally designated Madelaine.
  4. When Cadotte’s little trading village sprang up, on the southwestern extremity of the island, on the site of the old Chippewa village and the old French forts, this came to be particularly designated as La Pointe.
  5. When the American Fur Company established a new fort, a few miles north of the old, the name La Pointe was transferred thereto. This northern village was in popular parlance styled “New Fort,” and the now almost-deserted .southern village “Old Fort”; while the small settlement around the Indian graveyard midway, where Father Baraga built his first chapel, was known as “Middleport.”
La Pointe, Madelaine Island, Chequamegon Bay, circa 1898.<br /> <em>"The large building in the foreground is an old American Fur Company's warehouse. The mainland town of Bayfield rests in a hollow of the opposite hills, which appears to merge into the island. This La Pointe, early established as a French military and trading post, must not be confounded with the still earlier missions of La Pointe served by Allouez and Marquette, which is on the mainland on the southwest shore of Chequamegon Bay, between Washburn and Ashland."</em><br /> ~ <strong><a href="http://content.wisconsinhistory.org/cdm/search/collection/whc" target="_blank">Wisconsin Historical Collections</a>, Volume XVI</strong>, page 80.

La Pointe, Madelaine Island, Chequamegon Bay, circa 1898.
“The large building in the foreground is an old American Fur Company’s warehouse. The mainland town of Bayfield rests in a hollow of the opposite hills, which appears to merge into the island. This La Pointe, early established as a French military and trading post, must not be confounded with the still earlier missions of La Pointe served by Allouez and Marquette, which is on the mainland on the southwest shore of Chequamegon Bay, between Washburn and Ashland.”
~ Wisconsin Historical Collections, Volume XVI, page 80.

La Pointe has lost much of its old-time significance. No longer is it the refuge of starveling tribes, chased thither by Iroquois, harassed by unneighborly Sioux, and consoled in a measure by the ghostly counsel of Jesuit fathers; no longer a centre of the fur-trade, with coureurs de bois gayly dight, self-seeking English and American factors, Creole traders dispensing largesse to the dusky relatives of their forest brides, and rollicking voyageurs taking no heed of the morrow. Its forest commerce has departed, with the extinction of game and the opening of the Lake Superior country to industrial and agricultural occupation; the Protestant mission has followed the majority of the Indian islanders to mainland reservations; the revived mission of Mother Church has also been quartered upon the bay shore. But the natural charms of Madelaine island, in rocky dell, and matted forest, and sombre, pine-clad shore, are with us still, and over all there floats an aroma of two and a half centuries of historic association, the appreciation of which we need to foster in our materialistic West, for we have none too much of it.


 

The chief authority on Nicolet is Butterfield’s Discovery of the Northwest (Cincinnati, 1881).  See also Wis. Hist. Colls., xi, pp. 1-25.

2 In his authoritative History of the Ojibway Nation, in Minn. Hist. Colls., v., Warren prefers the spelling “Chagoumigon,” although recognizing “Shagawaumikong” and “Shaugahwaumikong.”  “Chequamegon” is the current modern form.  Rev.  Edward P. Wheeler, of Ashland, an authority on the Chippewa tongue and traditions, says the pronunciation should be “Sheh-gu-wah-mi-kung,” with the accent on the last syllable.

See Nevill and Martin’s Historic Green Bay (Milwaukee,1894); and various articles in the Wisconsin Historical Collections.

See Minn. Hist. Colls., v., pp.98, 99, note, for account of early copper mining on Lake Superior by Indians.  In the summer of 1892, W. H. Holmes, of the Smithsonian Institution, found on Isle Royale no less than a thousand abandoned shafts which had been worked by them; and “enough stone implements lay around, to stock every museum in the country.”

Radisson’s Voyages was published by the Prince Society (Boston, 1895); that portion relation to Wisconsin is reproduced, with notes, in Wis. Hist. Colls., xi.  See also Jesuit Relations, 1660, for Father Lallemant’s report of the discoveries of the “two Frenchmen,” who had found “a fine river, great, broad, deep, and comparable, they say, to our great St. Lawrence.”
In Franquelin’s map of 1688, what is now Pigeon River, a part of the international boundary between Minnesota and Canda, is called Groseilliers.  An attempt was made by members of the Wisconsin State Historical Society, in the Wisconsin Legislature,during the session of 1895, to have a proposed new county called Radisson; the name was adopted by the friends of the bill, but the measure itself failed to pass.

Now called Crees.

Radisson’s Voyages plainly indicates that the travelers portaged across the long, narrow sand-spit formerly styled Shagawaumikong, in their day united with the mainland, but now insular, and bearing the name Chequamegon Island; this Radisson describes as “a point of 2 leagues long and some 60 paces broad,”and later he refers to it as “the point that forms that Bay, wch resembles a small lake.”  After making this portage of Shagawaumikong, they proceeded in their boats, and “att the end of this bay we landed.”  The Ottawas of the party desired to cross over to their villages on the head-waters of the Black and Chippewa, and no landing-place was so advantageous for this purpose as the southwest corner of the bay.  It is plain from the narrative that the Frenchmen, now left to themselves, built their fortified hut at or near the place of landing, on the mainland.  The Chippewa tradition of the coming of Radisson and Groseilliers, as given by Warren in Minn. Hist. Colls., v., pp. 121, 122, places the camp of the first white men on the eastern extremity of Madeline (or La Pointe) Island.  The tradition runs close to the fact in most other particulars; but in the matter of location, Radisson’s journal leaves no room to doubt that the tradition errs.
See post, Father Verwyst’s article, “Historic Sites on Chequamegon Bay,”with notes on the site of Radisson’s fort, by Sam. S. Fifield and Edward P. Wheeler.  Verwyst thinks the location to have been “somewhere between Whittlesey’s Creek and Shore’s Landing;”  Fifield and Wheeler are confident that it was at Boyd’s Creek.

Apparently by Johnathan Carver, in the map accompanying his volume of Travels.

Says Warren (Minn. Hist. Colls., v., p. 102): “Shag-a-waum-ik-ong is a narrow neck or point of land about our miles long, and lying nearly parallel to the island of La Pointe, toward the western end of which it converges, till the distance from point to point is not more than two miles.”  In first entering the bay, the previous autumn, Radisson describes the point of Shagawaumikong, and says: “That point should be very fitt to build & advantageous for the building of a fort, as we did the spring following.”  But later on in his journal, in describing the return to the bay from their winter with the Indians in the Mille Lacs region, he does not mention the exact location of the new “fort.”  While in this fort, they “received [news] that the Octanaks [Ottawas] [had] built a fort on the ponit that forms that Bay, wcresembles a small lake.  We went towards it with all speede,” – and had a perilous trip thither, across thin ice.  This would indicate that the French camp was not on the point.  As with many other passages in the journal, it is impossible to reconcile these two statements.  Verwyst thinks that the traders were stationed on Houghton Point.
Warren, who had an intimate acquaintance with Chippewa traditions’ believed that that tribe, driven westward by degrees from the shores of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, reached Lake Superior about the time of the Columbian discovery, and came to a stand on Shagaqaumikong Point.  “On this spot they remained not long, for they were harassed daily by their warlike foes, and for greater security they were obliged to move their camp to the adjacent island of Mon-in-wun-a-kauning (place of the golden-breasted woodpecker, but known as La Pointe).  Here, they chose the site of their ancient town, and it covered a space about three miles long and two broad, comprising the western end of the island.” – (Minn. Hist. Colls., v., p. 96).  They remained in this large town “for the space of three generations, or one hundred and twenty years,” but for various reasons (see Ibid, p. 108 et seq., for the details) evacuated the place, and settling on the adjacent mainland came to regard La Pointe Island (now Madeline) as an abode of evil spirits, upon which, it is said, until the days of Cadotte, no Indian dare stay over night alone.  Gradually, as the beaver grew more scarce, the Chippewas radiated inland, so that at the time of Radisson’s visit the shores of the bay were almost unoccupied, save during the best fishing season, when Chippewas, Ottawas, Hurons, and others congregated there in considerable numbers.

10 The route which Ménard took, is involved in doubt.  Verwyst, following the Jesuit Relations, thinks he ascended some stream flowing into Lake Superior, and portaged over to the head-waters of Black river.  Others, following Tailhan’s Perrot, believe that he crossed over to Green Bay, then ascended the Fox, descended the Wisconsin, and ascended the Mississippi to the mouth of the black.  If the latter was his route, his visit to the Mississippi preceded Joliet’s by eleven years.

11 Neill (in Minn. Hist. Colls., v., p. 116) is of the opinion that Allouez “built a bark chapel on the shores of the bay, between a village of Petun Hurons and a village composed of three bands of Ottawas.”  That Allouez was stationed upon the mainland, where the Indians now were, is evident from his description of the bay (Jesuit Relations for 1666-67): “A beautiful bay, at the bottom of which is situated the great village of the savages, who there plant their fields of Indian corn, and lead a stationary life.  There are there, to the number of eight hundred men bearing arms, but collected from seven different nations, who dwell in peace with each other.”  Verwyst, whose local knowledge is thorough, thinks that Allouez’s mission was at the mouth of Vanderventer’s Creek, and I have followed him in this regard.
There has always been some confusion among antiquarians as to what particular topographical feature gave name to the region.  In christening his mission “La Pointe,” he had reference, I think, not to the particular plot of ground on which his chapel lay, but to the neighboring sandy point of Shagawaumikong, hemming in the bay on the east, in which he must have had a poetic interest, for tradition told him that it was the landfall of the Chippewas, and the place where, perhaps a century before, had been fought a great battle between them and the Dakotah’s (or Sioux), relics of which were to be found in our own day, in the human bones scattered freely through the shifting soil; doubtless in his time, these were much in evidence.
The map of in the Jesuit Relations for 1670-71 styles the entire Bayfield peninsula, forming the west shore of the bay, “La Pointe du St. Esprit,” of 1688, more exact in every particular, places a small settlement near the southwestern extremity of the bay. See also Verwyst’s Missionary Labors of Fathers Marquette, Ménard, and Allouez (Milwaukee, 1886), p. 183.
In 1820, Cass and Schoolcraft visited Chequamegon Bay, and the latter, in his Narrative, says: “Passing this [Bad] River, we continued along the sandy formation to its extreme termination, which separates the Bay of St. Charles [Chequamegon] from that remarkable group of islands called the Twelve Apostles by Carver.  It is this sandy point which is called La Pointe Chagoimegon by the old French authors, a term no shortened to La Pointe.”

12 By this time, fear of the Iroquois had subsided, and many Hurons had lately returned with the Pottawattomies, Sauks, and Foxes, to the oldhaunts of the latter, on Fox River.  Cadillac, writing in 1703 from Detroit, says (Margry, v., p. 317): “It is proper that you should be informed that more than fifty years since [about 1645] the Iroquois by force of arms drove nearly all of the other Indian nations from this region [Lake Huron] to the extremity of Lake Superior, a country north of this post, and frightfully baren and inhispitable.  About thirty-two years ago [1671] these exiled tribes collected themselves together at Michillimakinak.”

13 “The cause of the perpetual war, carried on between these two nations, is this, that both claim, as their exclusive hunting ground, the tract of country which lies between them, and uniformly attack each other when they meet upon it.” – Henry’s Travels and Adventures (N. Y., 1809), pp. 197, 198.

14 From whom the city of Duluth, Minn. was named.

15 For an account of Grand Portage see Wis. Hist. Colls., xi., pp. 123-125.

16 See ante, p. 203, note, for description of the Bois Brulé-St. Croix route.

17 See Parkman’s Half Century of Conflict, and Hebberd’s Wisconsin under French Domination (Madison, 1890).

18 Neill, in Minn. Hist. Colls., v. p 140, says that soon after St. Lusson’s taking possession of the Northwest for France, at Sault. Ste. Marie (1671), French traders built a small fort set about with cedar palisades, on which a cannon was mounted, “at the mouth of a small creek or pond midway between the present location of the American Fur Company’s establishment and the mission-house of the American Board of Foreign Missions.”

19 Minn. Hist. Colls., v., p. 125.  Originally, the Indians of Lake Superior went to Quebec to trade; but, as the whites penetrated westward by degrees, these commercial visits were restricted to Montreal, Niagara, Detroit, Mackinaw, Sault Ste. Marie, as each in turn became the outpost of French influence; finally trading-posts were opeend at La Pointe, St. Louis River, and Pigeon River, and in time traders even followed the savages on their long hunts after the ever-decreasing game.

20 In July, 1695, Chingouabé, Chief of the Chippewas, voyaged with Le Sueur to Montreal, to “pay his respects to Onontio, in the name of the young warriors of Point Chagouamigon, and to thank him for having given them some Frenchmen to dwell with them; and to testify their sorrow for one Jobin, a Frenchmen killed at a feast.  It occurred accidentally, not maliciously.”  In his reply (July 29), Governor Frontenac gave the Chippewas some good advice, and said that he would again send Le Sueur “to command at Chagouamigon.”  – Minn. Hist. Colls., v., p. 421.

21 It is evident that hereafter Madelaine Island was the chief seat of French power in Chequamegon Bay, but it was not until the present century that either the name La Pointe or Madelaine was applied to the island.  Franquelin’s map (1688) calls it “Isle Detour ou St Michel.”  Bellin’s French map of Lake Superior (in Charlevoix’s Histoire et Description Générale de Nouvelle France, Paris, 1744) calls the long sand-point of Shagawaumikong (now Chequamegon Island), “Pointe de Chagauamigon,” and styles the present Madelain Island “Isle La Ronde” after the trader La Ronde; what is now Basswood Island, he calls “Isle Michel,” and at the southern extremity of the bay indicates that at that place was once an important Indian village.  In De l’ Isle’s map, of 1745, a French trading house (Maison Francoise) is shown on Shagawaumikong Point itself.  Madelaine Island has at various times been known as Monegoinaiccauning (or Moningwnakauning, Chippewa for “golden-breasted woodpecker”), St. Michel, La Ronde, Woodpecker, Montreal, Virginia (Schoolcraft, 1820), Michael’s (McKenney, 1826), Middle (because midway between the stations of Saulte Ste. Marie and Fort William, at Pigeon River), Cadotte’s, and La Pointe (the latter because La pointe village was situated thereon).

22 Minn. Hist. Colls., v., pp. 423-425.

23 It was during this period the only fur-trading station on the south shore of Lake Superior, and was admirably situated for protecting not only the west end of the lake, but the popular portage route between Lake Superior and the Mississippi River, – the Bois Brulé and the St. Croix Rivers.

24 J. D. Butler’s “Early Shipping on Lake Superior,” in Wis. Hist. Soc. Proc., 1894, p. 87.  The rigging and material were taken in canoes from the lower country to Sault Ste. Marie, the vessel being built at Point aux Pins, on the north shore, seven miles above the Sault.  Butler shows that Alexander Henry was interested with a mining company in launching upon the lake in May, 1771, a sloop of 70 tons.  After this, sailing vessels were regularly employed upon Superior, in the prosecution of the fur trade and copper mining.  The Hudson’s Bay Company’s “Speedwell” was upon the lake as early as 1789; the Northwest Company’s principal vessel was the “Beaver.”

25 In this year there were reported to be 150 Chippewa braves living on Point Chagouamigon. — N. Y. Colon. Docs., ix.

26 Martin MSS., Dominion Archives, Ottawa, – letter of Beauharnois.  For much of the foregoing data, see Neill’s “History of the Ojibways,” Minn. Hist. Colls., v.

27 N. Y. Colon. Docs., x., p. 424

28 Says Governor Galissoniére, in writing to the colonial office at Paris, under date of October, 1748: “Voyageurs robbed and maltreated at Sault Ste. Marie, and elsewhere on Lake Superior; in fine there appears to be no security anywhere.” – N. Y. Colon. Docs., x. p. 182.

29 See the several versions of this tale, Wis. Hist. Colls., viii., pp. 224 et seq.; and Minn. Hist. Colls., v., pp. 141-145, 431-432.  Warren says that some Chippewa traditions ascribe this tragedy to the year 1722, but the weight of evidence is as in the text above.

30 “My house, which stood in the bay, was sheltered by an island of fifteen miles in length, and betwen which and the main the channel is four miles broad.  On the island there was formerly a French trading post, much frequented; and in its neighborhood a large Indian village.” – Henry’s Travels, p. 199.  Henry doubtless means that formerly there was an Indian village on the island; until after the coming of Cadotte, Warren says, the island was thought by the natives to be bewitched.

31 Jean Baptiste Cadotte (formerly spelled Cadot) was the son of one Cadeau, who is said to have come to the Northwest in the train of Sieur de St. Lusson, who took possession of the region centring at Sault Ste. Marie, in 1671.  See St. Lusson’s procés verbal in Wis. Hist. Colls., xi., p. 26.  Jean Baptiste, who was legally married to a Chippewa woman, had two sons, Jean Paptiste and Michel, both of whom were extensive traders and in their turn married Chippewas.  See Minn. Hist. Colls., v., index.

32 “On my arrival at Chagouenig, I found fifty lodges of Indians there.  These people were almost naked, their trade having been interrupted first by the English invasion of Canada, and next by Pontiac’s war.” – Travels, p. 193.

33 McKenny, in History of the Indian Tribes (Phila., 1854), i., pp. 154, 155, tells the story.  He speaks of Johnston as “the accomplished Irish gentleman who resided so many years at the Sault de Ste. Marie, and who was not better known for his intelligence and polished manners than for his hospitality.”  See also, ante, pp. 180, 181, for Schoolcraft and Doty’s notices of Johnston, who died ([ae]t. 66) at Sault Ste. Marie, Sept. 22, 1828.  His widow became a Presbyterian, and built a church of that denomination at the Sault.  Her daughter married Henry B. Schoolcraft, the historian of the Indian tribes.  Waubojeeg died at an advanced age, in 1793.

34 Warren thinks he settled there about 1792 (Minn. Hist. Colls., v., p.111), but there is good evidence that it was at a later date.

35 “The Cranes claim the honor of first having pitched their wigwam and lighted the fire of the Ojibways, at Shaug-ah-waum-ik-ong, a sand point or peninsula lying two miles immediately opposite the Island of La Pointe.” – Warren in Minn. Hist. Colls., v., p. 86.

36 “Kind-hearted Michel Cadotte,” as Warren calls him, also had a trading-post at Lac Courte Oreille.  He was, like the other Wisconsin Creole traders, in English employ during the War of 1812-15, and was at the capture of Mackinaw in 1812.  He died on the island, July 8, 1837, aged 72 years, and was buried there.  As with most of his kind, he made money freely and spent it with prodigality, partly in high living, but mainly in supporting his many Indian relatives; as a consequence, he died poor, the usual fate of men of his type. – (Minn. Hist. Colls., v., p. 449.)  Warren says (Ibid., p. 11), the death occurred “in 1836,” but the tombstone gives the above date.
Cass, Schoolcraft, and Doty visited Chequamegon Bay in 1820.  Schoolcraft says, in his Narrative, pp. 192, 193: “Six mile beyond the Mauvaise is Pointe Che-goi-me-gon, once the grand rendezvous of the Chippeway tribe, but now reduced to a few lodges.  Three miles further west is the island of St. Michel (Madelaine), which lies in the traverse across Chegoimegon Bay, where M. Cadotte has an establishment.  This was formerly an important trading post, but is now dwindled to nothing.  There is a dwelling of logs, stockaded in the usual manner of trading-housess, besides several out-buildings, and some land in cultivation.  We here also found several cows and horses, which have been transported with great labor.”  See ante, pp. 200, 201, for Doty’s account of this visit.

37 Alfred Brunson, who visited Lyman Warren at La Pointe, in 1843, wrote: “Mr. Warren had a large and select library, an unexpected sight in an Indian country, containing some books that I had never before seen.” – Brunson, Western Pioneer (Cincinnati, 1879), ii., p. 163.

38 Minn. Hist. Colls., v., pp. 326, 383, 384, 450.  Contemporaneously with the settlement of the Warrens at La Pointe, Lieutenant Bayfield of the British navy made (1822-23) surveys from which he prepared the first accurate chart of Lake Superior; his name is preserved in Bayfield peninsula, county, and town.

39 Borup had a trading-post on the island in 1846; but the forest commence had by this time sadly dwindled.

40 He left six children, the oldest son being William Whipple Warren, historian of the Chippewa tribe.  See William’s “Memoir of William W. Warren,” in Minn. Hist. Colls., v.

41 See Davidson’s excellent “Missions on Chequamegon Bay,” in Wis. Hist. Colls., xii., to which I am chiefly indebted for information concerning the modern La Pointe missions.  Mr. Davidson has since given us, in his Unnamed Wisconsin (Milw., 1895), fuller details of this mission work.

42 Wis. Hist. Colls., xii., p. 445.  Mr. Davidson writes to me that in his opinion Ayer leaned to independency, and was really a Congregationalist; Hall is registered as such in the Congregational Year Book for 1859.  “As to the La Pointe-Odanah church,” continues Mr. Davidson, in his personal letter, “its early records make no mention of lay elders, – of organization it was independent, rather than strictly Congregational.  This could not be otherwise, with no church nearer than the one at Mackinaw.  That was Presbyterian, as was its pastor, Rev. William M. Ferry.  The La Pointe church adopted articles of faith of its own choosing, instead of holding itself bound by the Westminster confession.  Moreover, the church was reorganized after the mission was transferred to the Presbyterian board.  For this action there may have been some special reason that I know nothing about.  But it seems to me a needless procedure if the church were Presbyterian before.”

43 See Verwyst’s Missionary Labors, pp. 146-149.  This chapel was built partly of new logs, and partly of material from an old building given to Father Baraga by the American Fur Company

44 See Wis. Hist. Colls., xii., pp. 445, 446, note, also, Verwyst’s Missionary Labors, pp. 183, 184.  Father Verwyst also calls attention to certain vestments at La Pointe, said to be those of Marquette: “That is another fable which we feel it our duty to explode.  The vestments there were procured by Bishop Baraga and his successors; not one of them dates from the seventeenth century.”

By Leo

Deer Hunting by Torchlight in Bark Canoes 1846-1848 by George Catlin (Smithsonian American Art Museum)

Chequamegon History doesn’t usually deal with current events, preferring to stay in the 18th and 19th centuries, but I heard a radio program last week that prompted me to dig out some old sources related to a timely topic:  off-reservation deer hunting at night by the Lake Superior Chippewa bands.

The State of Wisconsin’s January 7th, 2015 decision to appeal a lower-court decision in favor of Chippewa off-reservation night hunting prompted an edition of Wisconsin Public Radio’s Central Time on the topic that aired later that afternoon.  The Ojibwe case in favor of night hunting is briefly, but thoughtfully, presented by the hosts, by Brandon Thoms for the Lac du Flambeau Band and by Richard Monette, Director of the Great Lakes Indian Law Center at UW-Madison.

Though Monette and Thoms touched briefly on the historical and ethical role in Ojibwe communities, the program wasn’t long enough for them to go into much depth.  Since night hunting is something that brings controversy, and with it misinformation, I am hoping these historical documents can help promote three points of understanding among those of us who live in the ceded territory of the 21st century.

1.  Ojibwe hunters used bright light as a means to harvest deer at night long before the creation of the current reservations.

2.  Hunting at night was historically an efficient and effective means of obtaining food.

3.  Controversy over the ethics of “shining” stems more from differences in historical and cultural hunting values than on real environmental values and sustainable practices.  

 

“Modern” Technology

In Northern Wisconsin, the idea of night-hunting deer is often associated with the term “shining.” Often used pejoratively, the word tends to conjure up the image of hunters shooting deer out the windows of mud-covered trucks equipped with high-powered electrical spotlights.  

Since deer tend to freeze in place when bright light is shone in their eyes, this makes it possible to get close enough to make an accurate shot in darkness.  I’ve heard the argument that “shining” relies on modern technology and therefore isn’t fair to the deer.

However, this argument isn’t true.  North American hunters used bright light as a means to harvest deer long before the invention of electric spotlights.  An 1804 journal entry from the British-Canadian fur-trader George Nelson explains how it worked.  Nelson, a teenager trading on the Chippewa River under Simon Charette for the XY Company, participated in such a hunt with his Ojibwe companions just south of Clam Lake.  This entry appears on page 158-160 of the 2002 Minnesota Historical Press Edition of the Nelson journals, edited by Laura Lynn Peers and Theresa Schenck:

Monday 29th [May 1804] Sorel & I go to get our small canoe that we left above in this small river not being able to bring it down with our fish upon our backs the river being too rapidous.  As soon as we arrived at our camp we set off & encamped at a small portage not very distant.  We had no sooner carried our things across the Portage, then I embarked with the indian to hunt deer to night with a Candle[*].  We ascended the river about 2 leagues further than our encampment where we seen a large Buck which we frightened away by sneezing – :  However at dusk we light our candle & about an hour after hearing something puddling in the water we let ourselves drift ’till within 8 or ten yards when we found it to be several deer, the indian wounded one & the others immediately run off – we debarked & seen much blood having our candle, dispairing however of finding it we reembarked – but misfortunately we upset our canoe just getting in, consequently our candle not being well secured fell over board & a terrible shower of rain falling just at this momment obliged us to shelter ourselves under a large pine (Epinette) ’till next morning when after some search we found the deer dead – We returned to our people [–& then continued our course up this same river]

At the end of this journal, Nelson added the following (in footnote on same pages of the published edition):

*(To Page 29 – May 29th) The indians from about the 15th of May ’till about the 20th of August kill a great number of deer every night by this means, the skins of which they gather & sell or trade them in the fall with the traders – The means they employ are these, they raise about 4 foot long of pine, elm, or any other strong bark which they double in such a manner as to make the lower part serve as a shelf & upon this the Candle rests, while the rest or upper part off the bark serves as a kind of screen behind which they set unperceived; for the candle that is upon the lower part of the shelf does not leave any part of the canoe visable for it is fastened to the bow of the canoe between the first bar & the curve – it is tied fast & high enough to put the Gun under below.  When there is any deer (for they never fail coming every night to the borders of the small lakes & rivers where they eat weeds & remain in the water on account of the muskatas that are no less numerous than troublesome) it is easily known; for indians in General have as sharp an ear as their sight; & can tell where to direct when he hears the least puddling in the water.  The deer whenever they see a light of this kind never stir but keep looking upon it ’till sometimes they are not more than three yards distant when the indian shoots them with shot, but if the least noise be made, by striking upon the canoe or its bars, sneezing, caughing, or even by touching your paddle upon a stone or stick in the bottom of the river they scamper off immediately…

And in a later consolidation of his journals, he added this to the account:

…At another place, a young indian & I went out to hunt deer.  We made a Candle by chewing tallow, of which we had plenty & wrapped over a piece of cotton shirt as a wick, & placed it conveniently in the bow of the Canoe, where a screen had been erected with a piece of Spruce bark so large as to completely cover the indian, yet so as he could see what was going on before.  We saw Several Deer.  At dark, we drifted down -frightened off one party of deer.  We soon found another, who attracted by the Candles, kept staring upon it alone: we drifted slowly only the lad shot one, & off the others ran…

Similar accounts can be found in other sources, and it seems this method of hunting was widespread and the most common way to hunt deer in spring and summer.  The practice almost certainly predates the arrival of whites in the Lake Superior country, and hopefully these journals can put to bed the idea that night-hunting only became possible with the advent of electricity.

The Sport in Shining

Sir Edward Robert Sullivan, 5th Baronet, as depicted by Carlo Pelligrini for Vanity Fair in 1885 (National Portrait Gallery; London)

Some criticism of night hunting comes from the idea that it is too easy, and therefore, not sporting or fair to the deer.  An 1850 account from the St. Croix River near present-day Gordon shows some of this sentiment. Sir Edward Robert Sullivan Bart., an English noble came here during a trip throughout the Americas described in the 1852 work, Rambles and Scrambles in North and South America.  Although it comes two years before Carl Scherzer’s account of La Pointe  (translated into English for the time first here on Chequamegon History) the Brule and the St. Croix, Rambles and Scrambles is not nearly as interesting as the German work.  Sullivan took the same route to Stillwater, and even engaged the same La Pointe voyageur (Souverain Denis) as a guide, but the work is generally disappointing.  Rather than Scherzer’s curiosity and deep ethnographic detail, Sullivan’s text is largely filled with the haughty superiority one might expect from the most stereotypical Victorian gentleman colonialist.    

pg. 76

pg. 77

This account of Ojibwe hunting contrasts humorously with Sullivan’s earlier account from the lakeshore (probably near Sand Bay) of his own attempt at hunting the Northwoods:

pg. 67

pg. 68

The image of the pompous British gentleman hunter walking in panicked circles, is made all the more hilarious by the fact that one of his companions would do the exact same thing the next evening at Iron River.  One imagines the thoughts going through the minds of the Ojibwe-French mix-blood guides as they had to rescue two mighty Zhaaganash sportsmen out of the woods in two days.

And that brings me to my point.  As hard as it may be to admit, much of the prevailing American conservation ethic comes from this British notion of hunting for sport.  This comes from a time in Europe when hunting was forbidden to the common people.  A peasant might be arrested for poaching a deer to feed his family, while the gamekeepers kept the forests preserved so men like Sullivan could bring home trophies.  In such a viewpoint, something like shining might be condemned for being too easy, effective, and unromantic.

On the other hand, the Ojibwe husband and wife on the St. Croix were not looking for a splendid evening of recreation.  They needed venison to feed the village.  It didn’t matter if it was summer and the buck’s antlers weren’t as impressive as they might get in November.  Hunting was necessary work for survival, and it was done using the most efficient and effective means possible.  In describing the Ojibwe idea of the afterlife five years later in 1855, the German ethnographer Johann Kohl writes:

…But, even if we wished to represent the buffalo-covered prairies as a paradise for the hunter, it is still questionable to me whether hunting forms a material feature of the Indian paradise.  To us Europeans hunting is more or less an amusement, but to the Indian it is a toil, and frequently a most fatiguing mode of life.  In many Indian dialects the words “hunter” and “hunting” are synonymous with “work” and “working.”  A good hunter is a clever and industrious workman.  As, then, the idea entertained by most nations of paradise is, that it will be without toil or labour, it is to me more than doubtful whether they regard the chase as an element of their paradisiac existence.  Among the Ojibbeways I never heard that they held such a view.  I once asked a man of their tribe, who was describing paradise to me, and did not at all allude to hunting, “And then you will go every day to hunt and kill a countless number of animals?”  “Oh no!” he replied, dryly, “there is no hunting or labour in paradise (212-13).”

I would argue that most deer hunters in Northern Wisconsin today, both Native and non-Native, derive food, pleasure, and a sense of tradition from hunting.  However, the relative importance of each can vary greatly from hunter to hunter in both communities.  

I know many white hunters who hunt mainly to fill the freezer rather rather than for sport, and with it, there is a certain conservation ethic that has descended from those peasant poachers.  In this viewpoint, you respect and value the lives of animals because they gave their lives to keep you alive, not because you came up with some convoluted “sporting” method of harvesting them.  The ethics that would have you break the law to keep and eat a dying undersized fish aren’t the same ethics of the Teddy Roosevelts and Ernest Hemingways of the world, but they are conservation ethics nonetheless.  

In my mind, these two viewpoints on the role and purpose of hunting are central to the debate over “shining,” and I think examination of history might find Ojibwe and non-Ojibwe residents of the ceded territory having more in common with each other than they do with Scott Walker and his Deer Czar.        

Environmental Impact of Night Hunting

While on the subject of conservation, it is worth looking at whether or not night hunting is bad for the environment.  Let’s put aside for a minute the fact that the off-reservation night harvest would be minuscule compared to the regular Wisconsin deer hunt or the amount of deer who die at night after being inadvertently “shined” on the highways.  And let’s forget for a minute how “divide and conquer” politicians in the eighties used the environment as red herring to turn whites and Indians against each other over the issue of spearfishing or how the walleye populations in the ceded territory are kept up in large part by tribal conservation efforts.  Finally, let’s stop puzzling over how Native people managed to survive on this continent for tens of thousands of years before whites came to teach them how to manage resources.  Yes, let’s forget about those things and go back to the historical record.

If Nelson’s journals show that hunting out of a canoe by torchlight was well established at the outset of the 1800s, and Sullivan’s Rambles and Scrambles, show it being used at mid-century, we can close out the 19th century with an account from Minnesota.  

Reverend Joseph Gillfillan, was a Christian missionary to the Ojibwe people in the areas around Red, Cass, and Leech lakes.  In an 1895 letter to the Minnesota Forestry Department and a subsequent article, The Ojibways in Minnesota, presented in 1896 and published in 1901, we hear a familiar story.

Gillfillan doesn’t describe the Lake Superior Chippewa cessions, specifically, but it shows that Ojibwe hunters continued to night at hunt, by canoe, on off-reservation ceded territory: 

pg. 100

This account, well into the reservation period, is highly critical of Ojibwe hunting techniques. In it, we see parallels to the earlier elite European hunting ethic and today’s concerns over shining.   However, we must remember that the goal of Christian missionaries at that time was not only spreading Christianity but also the assimilation of Native people into white culture.  Gillfillan sees success at hunting as an impediment to the settled agricultural life he desires.  “The Great Spirit always provid[ing] for their wants,” is a direct threat to his mission.  So, rather than admit that maybe the increasing deer population was due to sustainable hunting practices, he tries to come up with outside explanations while condemning the hunt as wasteful.  

Changing the Narrative

In presenting these historical documents, I’m not necessarily trying to convince people to change their views on off-reservation night hunting.  However, I do want people to have their facts straight.  The use of bright lights at the bow of a canoe was a traditional Ojibwe technique for hunting deer long before the land was ceded, and it continues to be to this day.  

In my opinion, whether it is a wooden torch or a battery-powered flashlight shining at the deer is immaterial.   It serves the same ends.  

I don’t expect this to end the conversation on night hunting.  I didn’t bring up the safety argument, which is a key part of the State’s opposition (though the DNR has sanctioned other types of night hunting with firearms).  I will say, however, that despite its widespread use, I haven’t found any examples of the torch technique being dangerous (unless you count George Nelson capsizing his canoe).  I will post one if I come across it.  

So, as the ethics of “shining” continue to be debated, I call on those of both sides of this argument to examine where their personal conservation ethics come from.  Is hunting primarily for sport or food?  How traditional is night hunting, and how sustainable is it?  Finally, how have those in power used similar issues in the past to divide different groups of hunters and fishermen, and what motives do they have for doing so?

Think about it.

~LF

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

While I can’t promise this post will lead to more writing from Leo anytime soon, Chequamegon History will keep producing!  Amorin Mello has agreed to contribute a series of articles related to the original land claims, frauds, and mining operations in the Penokee Mountains.  For a fascinating preview of what’s coming, check out 0:37-1:24 of this video clip from Indian Country Television’s coverage of the recent Penokee conference at Legendary Waters in Red Cliff.  Thank you Amorin for this outstanding research, for the upcoming posts, and for giving Chequamegon History its first mention on TV!  

Sources
Gilfillan, Rev. Joseph A. The Ojibways in Minnesota, Collections of the Minnesota Historical Society, Vol. 9 (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 1901) 72. 
Kohl, J. G. Kitchi-Gami: Life among the Lake Superior Ojibway. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 1985. Print.
Minnesota. Forestry Commissioner. Forestry. Annual Report. N.p.: n.p., 1895. Print.
Nelson, George, Laura L. Peers, and Theresa M. Schenck. My First Years in the Fur Trade: The Journals of 1802-1804. St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society, 2002. Print.
Sullivan, Edward Robert. Rambles and Scrambles in North and South America. London: R. Bentley, 1852. Print.

Susan Johnston, or Ozhaawashkodewekwe, the wife of John Johnston  ( Chicago Newberry Library)

The name of John Johnston will be familiar to those who have read the works of his son-in-law Henry Schoolcraft.  Johnston (1762-1828) was born into the Anglo-Protestant gentry of Northern Ireland and came to the Chequamegon region in 1791.  After marrying Ozhaawashkodewekwe, the daughter of Waabojiig, he cemented his alliance with a prominent Ojibwe trading family.  The Johnstons settled at Sault Ste. Marie, and their influence as a fur-trade power couple in the eastern part of Lake Superior parallels that of Michel and Madeline (Ikwezewe) Cadotte around La Pointe.  The Johnstons played a key role in resistance to American encroachment in Lake Superior during the War of 1812 but later became centrally-connected to the United States Government efforts to establish a foothold in the northern country.  A nice concise biography of John Johnston is available in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.

Roderick MacKenzie (Wikimedia Commons)

In 1806, John Johnston was trading at the Soo for the North West Company when he received a printed request from Roderick MacKenzie, one of the heads of the Company.  It called for information on the physical and cultural geography of the different parts of North America where the NWC traded.  Johnston took it upon himself to describe the Lake Superior region and prepared An Account of Lake Superior, an 82-page manuscript.

By the end of the 19th century, the manuscript had found its way to Louis Rodrigue Masson (a grandson-in-law of MacKenzie) who edited it and published it in Les Bourgeois de la Compagnie du Nord-Ouest; recits de voyages, lettres et rapports inedits relatifs au Nord-Ouest Canadien (1889-90).   The Masson archives were later donated to the McGill University Library in Montreal and are now digitized.  

Much of Johnston’s account concerns the Sault and the eastern part of Lake Superior.  However, he does include some information from his time at La Pointe, which is reproduced below.  While it doesn’t say much about the political topics that I tend to focus on, this document is fascinating for its geographic toponyms and terminology, which is much more reflective of the 18th century than the 19th.  Enjoy:

[Ojibwe names for geographic locations are taken from Gidakiiminaan:  An Anishinaabe Atlas of the 1836 (Upper Michigan), 1837, and 1842 Treaty Ceded Territories (GLIFWC 2007)].

[pg. 49-56]

…The coast runs almost due West from the Kakewiching or Porcupine Mountain to the Montreal River a distance of fifteen leagues, and the beach is a shelving rock the same as the Mountain all the way with here and there a little gravelly strand. There is but one river, and that a very small one, from the Black to the Montreal River. This last takes its rise from the Wa[s]wagonnis or flambeau Lake about 80 leagues to the Southwest: it is one continued rapid from within ten leagues of its source, and a few hundred yards from the entrance has a fall of fifteen or twenty feet: – there are two high clay banks which distinguish the entrance. The lands tends to the Northwest and is a stiff clay for three leagues rent into deep gutters at short distances; it then gradually declines to a sandy beach for three leagues farther until you arrive at the Mouskissipi or bad river so called from its broad and shallow stream in which it is almost impossible to mount even an Indian Canoe.

It takes its rise from the Ottawa Lake about 125 leagues to the Westward: the Lake has its waters divided very partially as the chief part takes a southerly course and falls into the Mississipi and is called Ottawa River.

The Flambeau Lake has its waters also, the better part taking a southeasterly direction to the Mississipi and is called Ouisconsin or the medicine River. From the bad river the coast runs north four leagues to Chogowiminan or La Pointe; it is a fine strand all the way, behind which are sand hills covered with bent and sand cherry shrubs – and behind the hills there runs all the length a shallow bay which is a branch from the Bay of St Charles.

At Lapointe you are nearly opposite the Anse or Keegwagnan the distance I should conjecture to be twenty leagues in a straight line.

The Bay of St Charles runs southwest from La Pointe and is four leagues in depth and better than a league broad at the entrance. Opposite Lapointe to the Northeast is the Island of Montreal, one of the largest of those called the twelve Apostles. On the main land the Indians had once a Village amounting to 200 huts but since the Traders have multiplied, they no longer assemble at Netoungan or the sand beach, but remain in small bands near their hunting grounds. When you double the Point of Netoungan the coast tends nearly west and is composed of high rocky points of Basaltes with some freestone; there is one place in particular which is an humble imitation of the Portals but not near so high: it is about a leagues from La Pointe and is a projection from the highest mountain from Porcupine bay to fond du lac, a distance of more than 45 leagues. From the Summit of the Mountain; you can count twenty six Islands extending to the North and North east, Islands which has never been visited by the boldest Indians and lying out of the way of the N.W.Co’s Vessel: have a chance of never being better known. Of the Islands opposite La pointe ten or twelve have been visited by the Indians, some of which have a rich soil covered with oak and beech, and round all of them there is deep water and fine fishing for Trout. The Trout in this part of the Lake are equal to those of Mackinac in size & richness – I myself saw one taken off the Northeast end of Montreal Island that weighed fifty two Pounds. How many Islands this Archipelago actually contains will not be easily ascertained; but I take Carribou Island to be the eastern end of the chain. It lies a little to the Southward of the course of the Co’s Vessel, is about three miles round, has a flat shore and good anchorage, and is allowed to be half passage from Camanitiquia to St. Mary’s. However, no other land is seen from it by the Vessel; but that may be owing to the Islands being low and lying too much to the Southward of the course. It is to be observed this account of the number of Islands is upon Indian Authority, which though not the best, is still less apocryphal than that of the Canadians.

There are several rivers between Lapointe and Fond du Lac, the distance is allowed to be thirty leagues, and the breadth of the bay from a high Rocky point within a leagues of Netoungan to the roche deboute, or the upright rock, which is a lofty Mountain right opposite, cannot be less than twenty leagues.

The Metal River is within ten leagues of Fond du Lac; it is only remarkable from the Old Chief of Lapointe’s having once found a large piece of Silver ore in descending it. The Burnt river is three leagues to the Westward of Metal river; it issues from one of the Lakes of the little wild Oats Country about thirty leagues to the Southward, and is only navigable for small Canoes: it has several rapids and the Portages are dangerous, several of them lying along the edge of the river, and over precipices where one false step would be fatal. It empties itself into the Bay of Fond du Lac through a stiff Clay Bank which continues all along the shore until it joins the sands of Fond du Lac river.

About sixteen years ago, Wabogick, or the Whitefisher, the Chief of Lapointe, made his sugar on the skirt of a high mountain four days march from the entrance of the river to the south west, his eldest daughter then a girl of fourteen with a cousin of hers who was two or three years older, rambling one day up the eastern side of the Mountain came to a perpendicular Cliff, which exactly fronted the rising sun, and had an apparently artificial level before it, on which near the base of the Cliff they found a pieces of yellow metal as they called it, about eighteen inches long, a foot broad, and four inches thick; and perfectly Smooth: – it was so heavy that they could raise it with great difficulty: – after amusing themselves with examining it for some time, it occured to the eldest girl that it belonged to the Gitchi Manitou or the great spirit; upon which they abandoned the place with precipitation. As the Chipeways are not Idolators, it occurs to me that some of the Southern tribes must have once Migrated thus far to the North, and that the piece, either of copper or gold, is part of an alter dedicated to the sun. If my conjecture is right, the slab is most probably gold as the Mexicans have more of that Metal than they have of copper. I have often regretted the premature death of the Chief the same autumn that he told me the story, as he had promised to go and bring it to me if he recovered: and circumstances since have precluded my making any attempt to procure it.

The river of Fond du Lac is deep, wide and serpentine, but is only navigable for four or five leagues from its entrance. The Portages are many and different until you arrive at the sand Lake, where the tribe of Chipeways, called the Pillagers, reside. The furs from this country are the best assorted of any on the Continent; and the quantity would much increase were it possible to repress the mutual incursions of the Scieux and Chipeways, who caray on perpetual war. The tract of country lying between the two nations for near 150 leagues in length and from thirty to forty in breadth is only visited by stealth, and if peaceably hunted would be more productive than the richest mine of Peru…

[pg. 75-76]

…The wild Vine is not found at St Mary’s nor any where along the lake except at Lapointe, where however it is scarce. The wild Hop is very abundant at Lapointe but I do not recollect to have seen it elsewhere. There are three distinct species of Whortleberry. The blue or real whortleberry is by far the most wholesome and agreeable: the abundance of this fruit on the borders of Lake Superior is incredible; the Indians dry great quantities of them which they preserve during the winter, and which make an agreeable taste when repeatedly washed in warm water to take away the smoky taste from them. The black Whortleberry grows much higher than the blue; its seeds are very hard and astringent – the largest species the Indians call Hareberry; it grows to 2 or 3 feet high and bears a fruit as large as a cherry, but it is neither so agreeable nor so wholesome as either of the others…

Kakewiching:  Gaag-wajiwan (Porcupine Mountains)
Waswagonnis:  Waaswaganing (Lake of the Torch Light)
This last one takes its rise…  Lac du Flambeau and Lac Courte Oreilles (Ottawa Lake) are in the Mississippi watershed via the Chippewa River.  They connect with the Lake Superior watershed only through overland portages to the Montreal and Bad Rivers They are not, as Johnston suggests, the sources of those rivers.
Mouskissipi:  Mashkii-ziibi (Swampy River)–Johnston suggests the Bad is bad because it’s hard to navigate.  Others have asserted that the French misheard Mashkii (swampy) as Maji (bad).
Ottawa River:  This is the Chippewa River
Ouisconsin:  The origin of the name Wisconsin has been debated for centuries.  The Gidakiiminaan atlas lists six possible translations, none of which are Medicine River.
St. Charles, Lapointe, Montreal Island:  This shows that “Chequamegon Bay,” “Village of La Pointe,” and “Madeline Island” are relatively recent terms.  Johnston, writing twenty years after the American Revolution, is still using older French terms for the bay and island.  To him “Lapointe” and “Chogowiminan” are synonymous, and refer to the point, not Michel Cadotte’s trading post on nearby “Montreal” Island.
On the main land… This shows that Waabojiig’s village, where Johnston met his wife, was on the mainland, not the Island.
Point of Netoungan:  The reference to “sand” and a west-running coast suggest this is Point Detour and Netoungan is Sand Bay.  However, the “mountain” within a league of La Pointe is Mt. Ashwabay, south of Point Detour.
Poisson Blanc (whitefish), Broche (pike) and Truite Comune (Lake Trout) from the Codex Canadensis.
How many Islands…:  Today we count 22 Apostle Islands, but historically that number changes according to which shoals, outcroppings, peninsulas, and washed-away islands are included.  I have a hard time believing Johnston’s claim that only ten or twelve had been visited.
Carribou Island:  Lake Superior’s Caribou Island is near Michipicoten at the far eastern end of the lake, nowhere near the Apostles.  Outer Island is the farthest east, but if Johnston’s Carribou is one of the Apostles, he is probably referring to Michigan Island.
Camanitiquia:  Kaministiquia or Fort William (now Thunder Bay) was the headquarters of the North West Company after it was forced to withdraw from Grand Portage on the American side of the border.
Metal River:  Iron (Biwaabik) River.
The “little wild Oats Country” Manoominikeshinh or Folle Avoine is the St. Croix River, named for its abundance of wild rice.
Burnt river:  Bois Brule River (Wisaakode-ziibi)
Fond du Lac river:  Gichi-gamiwi-ziibi or St. Louis River
Wabogick:  Waabojiig (d. 1793), the White Fisher, was Johnston’s father in law.  He was the son of Mamaangezide of the Caribou Clan.  Both Mamaangezide and Waabojiig were renowned Chequamegon war chiefs.
girl of fourteen:  Presumably this is Ozhaawashkodewekwe, Johnston’s wife, a commanding figure in the history of the Lake Superior trade in the early 19th century.
the Pillagers:  The Sandy Lake Band, at that time led by Gaa-dawaabide (Broken Tooth), is not generally grouped with the Pillager Band or  Makandwewininiwag who were centered at Leech Lake.
real whortleberry:  “Whortleberry” is a term applied to several members of the genus Vaccinium.  Johnston’s “real” whortleberry is almost certainly the blueberry.  From the description, it seems more likely the other two “whortleberries” he refers to are the blackberry and thimbleberry (genus Rubus) rather than other species of Vaccinium(Photo:  Wikimedia Images)  

This is all for now on John Johnston, but this document is a potential jumping-off point for several potential research topics.  Look for an upcoming post on the meaning of “La Pointe” and “La Pointe Band.”

Sources:
Armour, David A. “JOHNSTON, JOHN,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 6, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed June 12, 2014, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/johnston_john_6E.html.
Gidakiiminaan = Our Earth. Odanah, WI: Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission, 2007. Print.
Masson, L. R. Les Bourgeois De La Compagnie Du Nord-Ouest: Recits De Voyages, Lettres Et Rapports Inedits Relatifs Au Nord-ouest Canadien. Québec: A. Côté, 1889. Print.
Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe. Oneóta, or Characteristics of the Red Race of America. New York: Wiley & Putnam, 1845. Print
Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe. The Indian in His Wigwam, Or, Characteristics of the Red Race of America from Original Notes and Manuscripts. New York: W.H. Graham, 1848. Print.
Warren, William W., and Theresa M. Schenck. History of the Ojibway People. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 2009. Print.
ghf

(Click to Enlarge)

On March 8th, I posted a map visually laying out the names of Ojibwe people and certain traders and voyageurs who appeared in the journals and narratives of Perrault, Curot, Nelson, and Malhoit.  These four men traded during years of fierce competition between the North West Company (Perrault, Malhoit), and the upstart XY Company (Nelson, Curot), at the dawn of the 19th-century.  These were British companies, working on American-claimed territory, but they mostly employed French-Ojibwe mix blood and French-Canadians.  These were violent and turbulent times, but they are valuable to written history because the competition led the companies to require journals from their clerks and traders.

I recently came across the published journal of John Sayer, a prominent North West trader of this era. He wintered at Cross Lake on Snake River in 1804-05, the same winter that Francois Malhoit spent at Lac du Flambeau, and the same winter that the North West and XY began the process of combining back into one company.  I decided the names from Sayer’s journal absolutely belonged on the map.

Sayer’s journal is very similar to the others, but is probably the least interesting, and least historically-important of the five.  It records day-to-day operations of the post with little commentary.  It largely lacks the colorful stories of Perrault and Nelson, and does not reveal as much about its author as Curot’s or Malhoit’s.  In fact, for several years historians did not know Sayer had even written it.  The online version, is scanned from Five fur traders of the Northwest: being the narrative of Peter Pond and the diaries of John Macdonell. Archibald N. McLeod, Hugh Faries, and Thomas Connor (1933), and identifies the journal with Thomas Connor.  It wasn’t until the 1970s that Douglas Birk and Bruce White revealed the true identity of the journal’s author.  Birk later had it republished as John Sayer’s Snake River Journal, 1804-1805: A Fur Trade Diary from East Central Minnesota.

hgbhj

Detail from map at the top of the post:  note that the black dot is at the mouth of the Snake River, while Sayer’s post was farther upstream at Cross Lake.  JS=John Sayer, MC=Michel Curot, and GN=George Nelson.

 

Surprisingly, there was very little overlap between Sayer’s names the names recorded by Michel Curot the previous winter at nearby Yellow Lake.  Pike (Brochet, presumably Ginoozhe) is the only one I saw.

Zhaagobe (Jack-o-pa, Shakopee, Chacoubai) was the name of several Ojibwe and Dakota chiefs in this part of the world. The one Sayer traded with was likely the man above, in this lithograph of a Charles Bird King revision of a James Otto Lewis portrait from the Treaty of Prairie du Chien. Charles Lippert’s Wikipedia articles are very helpful in sorting out the different Zhaagobes and Ozaawindibs (Wikimedia Images).

This gives additional support to the notion, repeated in the March 8th post, that kinship ties rather than geographic proximity is what defines a “band” in this time period.  In these journals, you see references to both chiefs and villages, but descriptions like “Tete Jaune’s Band” appear much more often than ones like “Pokegama Band.”  Undoubtedly, these definitions were still very strong in mid-18th century, which begs the question of how meaningful the categories in the Chequamegon History People Index (or for that matter, the treaties) are.

It also appears that these kinship-based bands were often affiliated with one trading company or the other, and moved according to where there was a trader.  La Plat is described by Sayer as one of “Chernier’s (XY trader) Indians,” and along with Giishkiman (Sharpened Stone), he seems to pop up at XY posts from the St. Croix, to the Chippewa River, to Lac du Flambeau.

Anyway, I get out of my league if I go too far down this “big-picture” path, so I’ll wrap it up for now.  I may revisit this section of the map if I’m ever inclined to write about Zhaagobe (Shakopee “Six”), Ozaawindib (Yellow Head), and the shifting identities of the Ojibwe and Dakota of the Snake River area, but for now I leave that in the hands of people much more qualified than myself.