We do not feel disposed to go away into a strange & unknown country, we desire to remain where our ancestors lay & where their remains are to be seen.

By Leo

Aamoons or Little Bee, chief at Lac du Flambeau c. 1862 (MN Historical Society)

Poking through old archives, sometimes you find the best things where you wouldn’t expect to. The National Archives have been slowly digitizing its Bureau of Indian Affairs microfilms, and for several months, I have been slogging through the thousands of images from the La Pointe Agency. For a change of pace, a few days ago, I checked out the documents on the Sault Ste. Marie Agency films and got my hands on a good one.

In September of 1847, Aamoons (Little Bee) and some headmen of what had been White Crow’s (Waabishkaagaagi) Lac du Flambeau were facing a serious dilemma. They were on their way home from the annuity payment at La Pointe where the main topic of conversation would certainly have been controversy surrounding the recent treaty at Fond du Lac. Several chiefs refused to sign, and the American Fur Company’ Northern Outfit opposed it due to a controversial provision that would have established a second Ojibwe sub agency on the Mississippi River. They saw this provision as a scheme by Missisippi traders to effect the removal west of all bands east of the Mississippi. Aamoons, himself, did not initially sign the document, but his mark can be found on the back of an envelope sent from La Pointe to Washington.

Our old friend George Johnston was returning to his Sault Ste. Marie home from the annuity payments when the Lac du Flambeau men summoned him to the Turtle Portage, near today’s Mercer, Wisconsin. They presented him a map and made speeches suggesting removal would be in direct violation of promises made at the Treaty of La Pointe (1842).

Johnston did not have a position with the American Government at this time, and his trading interests in western Lake Superior were modest. However, he was well known in the country. His grandfather, Waabojiig (White Fisher), was a legendary war chief at Chequamegon, and his parents formed a powerful fur trade couple at the turn of the 19th century. In the 1820s, George served as the first Indian Office sub-agent at La Pointe under his brother-in-law Henry Rowe Schoolcraft. During this time, he developed connections with Ojibwe leaders throughout the Lake Superior country, many of whom he was related to by blood or marriage.

George Johnston of Sault Ste. Marie, fur trader, interpreter, Indian Agent, general hustler and rabble rouser, and son of Ozhaawashkodewekwe of Chequamegon (University of Michigan).

By 1847, Schoolcraft had remarried and left for Washington after the death of his first wife (George’s sister Jane). However, the two men continued to correspond and supply direct intelligence to each other regarding Ojibwe politics. Local Indian Agents attempted to control all communication moving to and from Washington, so in Johnston they likely saw a chance to subvert this system and press their case directly.

The document that emerged from this 174 year old meeting is notable for a few reasons. It further bolsters the argument that the Ojibwe did not view their land cessions in the 1837 and 1842 treaties as requiring them to leave their villages in the east. That point that has been argued for years, but here we have a document where the chiefs speak of specific promises. It also reinforces the notion that the various political factions among the Lake Superior chiefs were coalescing around a policy of promoting reservations as an alternative to removal. This seems obvious now, but reservations were a novel concept in the 1840s, and certainly the United States ceding land back to Indian nations east of the Mississippi would have been unheard of. Knowing this was part of the discussion in 1847 makes the Sandy Lake Tragedy, three years later, all the more tragic. The chiefs had the solution all along, and had the Government just listened to the Ojibwe, hundreds of lives would have been spared.

Finally, the document, especially the map, should be of interest to the modern Lac du Flambeau Band as it appears its reservation should be much larger, encompassing the historical villages at Turtle Portage and Trout Lake as well as Aamoons’ village at Lac du Flambeau proper. The borders also seem to approach, but not include the villages at Vieux Desert and Pelican Lake, which will be interesting to the modern Sokaogon and Lac Vieux Desert Bands.

Saut Ste. Marie

Augt 28th 1848.

Dear sir,

On reaching the turtle portage during the past fall; I was addressed by the Indians inhabiting, the Lac du Flambeau country and they presented me with a map of that region, also a petition addressed to you which I will herein insert, they were under an impression that you could do much in their behalf.  The object of delineating a map is to show to the department, the tract of country they reserved for themselves, at the treaty of 1842, concluded by Robert Stuart at Lapointe during that period, and which now appears to be included in that treaty, without any reserve to the Indians of that region, and who expressly stated through me that they were willing to sell their mineral lands, but would retain the tract of country delineated on the map;  This forms an important grievance in that region.  I designed to have forwarded to you during the past winter their map & petition, but having mislaid it, I did not find it till this day, in an accidental manner, and I now feel that I am bound in duty to forward it to you.

The petition of the Chiefs Ahmonce, Padwaywayashe, Oshkanzhenemais & Say Jeanemay.

My Father (addressing Mr. Schoolcraft.)

Padwaywayashe rose and said, It is not I that will now speak on this occasion, it is these three old men before you, they are related to our ancestors, that man (pointing to Say Jeanemay will be their spokesman,

Sayjeanemay rose and said,

My Father, (addressing himself to Mr. Schoolcraft.)

Padwaywayahshe who has just now ceased speaking is the son of the late Kakabishin an ancient Chief who was lost many years ago in lower Wisconsain, and the white people have not as yet found him, and his Father was one of the first who received the Americans when they landed on the Island of Mackinac.  Kishkeman and Kahkahbeshine are the two first chiefs that shook hands with the Americans, The Indian agent then told them that he had arrived and had come to be a friend to them, they who were living in the high mountains, and he saw that they were poor and he was come to rekindle their fire, and the American Indian Agent then gave Kish Keman a large flag and a large silver medal, and said to him, you will never meet with a bad day, the sky will always be bright before you.

My Father.

Our old chief the white crow died last dall, he went to the treaty held at St. Peters, and reached that point when the treaty was almost concluded, and he heard very little of it, and it was not him who sold our lands, it was an Indian living beyond the pillager band of Indians.  We feel much grieved at heart, we are now living without a head, and had we reached St. Peters in time, the person who sold our lands would not have been permitted to do so, we should have made provision for ourselves and for our children, We do not now see the bright sky you spoke of to us, we see the return of the bad day I was in the habit of seeing before you came to renew my fire, and now it is again almost extinguished.  

My Father; 

We feel very much grieved; had my chief been present I should not have parted with my lands, and we find that the commissioner who treated with us, (meaning Mr. R. Stuart) has taken advantage of our ignorance, and bought our lands at his own price, and we did not sell the tract delineated on our map.

My Father;

We do not feel disposed to go away into a strange & unknown country, we desire to remain where our ancestors lay & where their remains are to be seen.  We now shake hands with you hope that you will answer us soon.

Turtle portage 11th Sep; 1847.

In presence of}

Geo. Johnston.

Ahmonce his X mark

Padwaywayahshe his X mark

Oshkanzhenemay his X mark

Sayjeaneamy his X mark 


Henry R. Schoolcraft Esq.


N.B. All the country lying within the dotted lines embraces the country, the Chief Monsobodoe & others reserved at the Lapointe treaty and which now is embraced in the Treaty articles, and could not be misunderstood by Mr. Stuart and as I have already remarked forms an important grievance.  All of which is respectfully submitted by


Your obt Servant

Geo. Johnston.

Henry R. Schoolcraft Esq.


Respectfully referred from my files to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs


14th Feb 1849

Robert Stuart, an American Fur Company official, was the treaty commissioner in 1842. He notoriously strong-armed the negotiations and alledgedly made several promises that never materialized. Johnston seemed to have his own personal grievance with Stuart as the debt terms of favored the Fur Company over older “British” traders like the Johnstons (Wikimedia).

Ahmonce (Aamoons), is found in many documents from the 1850s and 60s as the successor chief to the band once guided by his father Waabishkaagaagi (White Crow), uncle Moozobodo (Moose Muzzle), and grandfather Giishkiman (Sharpened Stone). The latter two are spelled Monsobodoe and Kishkeman in this document. Gaakaabishiinh (Kahkabeshine) “Screech Owl,” is probably the “old La Chouette” recorded in Malhiot’s Lac du Flambeau journal in the winter of 1804-05.

“The Americans when they landed on the Island of Mackinac” refers to the surrender of the British garrison at the end of the War of 1812, which is often referenced as the start of American assertions of sovereignty over the Ojibwe country. Despite Sayjeanemay’s lofty friendship rhetoric, it should be noted that many Ojibwe warriors fought with the British against the United States and political relations with the British crown and Ojibwe bands on the American side would continue for the next forty years.

The speaker who dominated the 1837 negotiations, and earned the scorn of the Lake Superior Bands, was Maajigaabaw or “La Trappe.” He, Flat Mouth, and Hole-in-the-Day, chiefs of the Mississippi and Pillager Bands in what is now Minnesota, were more inclined to sell the Wisconsin and Chippewa River basins than the bands who called that land home. This created a major rift between the Lake Superior and Mississippi Ojibwe.

Pa-dua-wa-aush (Padwaywayahshe) is listed under Aamoons’ band in the 1850 annuity roll. Say Jeanemay appears to be an English phonetic rendering of the Ojibwe pronunciation of the French name St. Germaine. A man named “St. Germaine” with no first name given appears in the same roll in Aamoons’ band. The St. Germaines were a mix-blood family with a long history in the Flambeau Country, but this man appears to be too old to be a child of Leon St. Germaine and Margaret Cadotte. From the text it appears this St. Germaine’s family affiliated with Ojibwe culture, in contrast to the Johnstons, another mix-blood family, who affiliated much more strongly with their father’s Anglo-Irish elite background. So far, I have not been able to find another mention of Oshkanzhenemay.

Moozobodo was not present at the Treaty of La Pointe (1842) as he died in 1831. Johnston may be confusing him with his brother Waabishkaagaagi

The timing of Schoolcraft’s submission of this document to the Indian Department is curious. In February 1849, a delegation of chiefs, mostly from villages near Lac du Flambeau was in Washington D.C. to petition President Polk for reservations. Schoolcraft worked to undermine this delegation. Had he instead promoted the cause of reservations over removal, one wonders if he could have intervened to prevent the Sandy Lake debacle.

Map of Lac du Flambeau Reservation as understood by Ojibwe at Treaty of La Pointe 1842. Apparently drawn from memory 11 September 1847 by Lac du Flambeau chiefs, copied and presumably labelled by George Johnston. Microfilm slide made available online by National Archives https://catalog.archives.gov/id/164363909 Image 340.

Chiefs’ map simplified by L. Filipczak, 2021, aided by Gidakiimanaan Anishinaabe Atlas (GLIFWC; 2007), Joseph Nicollet’s 1843 map of the Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River and Nicollet’s manuscript map of the same era. The map is clearly bounded to the west by the Great Divide between the Lake Superior and Flambeau/Mantowish basins, extending east as far as Lac Vieux Desert. It includes the upper Elk River but extends only as far south as Elk (Omashkooz “Maskose”) Lake. Most of the Tomahawk (Petit Wisconsin/Giiwewiidoon “Kewey Keweto”) River is included, but the mouth is not. Conversely, in the east, the mouth of Pelican (Zhedeg “Chetec”) River is part of the reservation, but the upper reaches, and Pelican Lake itself are not.
Alleged reservation boundaries roughly superimposed over Nicollet’s 1843 map, which distorts scale but includes some of the same names as the chiefs’ 1847 map.

Alleged reservation boundaries agreed to in 1842 roughly superimposed over modern map. The Treaty of La Pointe (1854) called for three townships for the Lac du Flambeau Band–the white square on this map showing the modern reservation. Had the 1842 boundaries held, the reservation would have been much larger and included several popular resort communities.


Joseph Nicholas Nicollet 1786-1843 (Wikipedia)  *Not to be confused with Jean Nicolet, the explorer who visited Green Bay 200 years before this.

By Leo

Joseph Nicollet* is a name familiar to many in the Upper Midwest.  The French-born geographer is remembered in numerous place names, particularly in Minnesota.  For followers of Chequamegon History, though, he is best known for his 1843 Map of the Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi.  The map remains very popular for its largely-accurate geography and its retention of original Ojibwe and French placenames for rivers, lakes and other land features.  I’ve always found it an attractive map, and use the Chequamegon portion of it to decorate the side panels of the blog.

So, one can imagine the excitement when Brian Finstad emailed and told me there was another version of the map, and that it was available online from St. Olaf College.  This version, covering the country between the St. Croix and Wisconsin rivers (what is now the northwestern half of Wisconsin) is handwritten and contains information and names that never made it onto the published map.  For those unfamiliar with Brian Finstad’s work, he is a long-time correspondent of Chequamegon History and has a keen and detailed understanding of the Gordon/Upper St. Croix region and the history of the St. Croix-La Pointe trail.

The manuscript is also differs from the published map in that the placement of lakes, rivers, and portages.  At first glance, to those of us used to Google and the modern highway system, to be less accurate in terms of actual fixed latitude and longitude.  Instead, it seems more reflective of how Wisconsin’s geography would have been perceived at the time–as chains of water routes and portages.  I need to look into it further, but my current understanding is that Nicollet did not travel extensively in Wisconsin.  Therefore, one can assume that he got most of this information from his hired Ojibwe and Metis guides and voyageurs.


Zhagobe (Shakopee, Chagobai, Little Six), a Snake River chief worked with Nicollet and may have been an informant for the map.  (Painting by Charles Bird King from James Otto Lewis portrait 1825 or 1826)

The handwritten map is challenging to read.  Parts of it are ripped and faded, and the labels are oriented in all directions, including upside-down.  Perhaps most difficult for me, as a monolingual English speaker, the map is in no fewer than four languages.  French predominates, but there is a great deal of Ojibwe (especially in place names) and some English in descriptions.  Near the mouth of the Chippewa River, there is another language, probably Dakota, but I don’t know Siouan languages well enough to say it is not Ho-Chunk.

After spending a few minutes with the map, I knew that the only way I would be able to engage with it fully would be to make it a project.  So, I set out to reproduce the map, as faithfully as possible to the original, but with more legible text oriented according to more-modern cartographic conventions.  Here is the result:


My hope is that the reproduction will make comparisons with the published map easier for scholars, or at the very least, provide a guide for working with the manuscript.  However, this is where I’ll need help from readers, especially those who are good with Ojibwe and French grammar.

Here are some of the challenges we’re up against:

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Familiarity of Locations

Being most familiar with the parts of Wisconsin within the Lake Superior basin, a map that focuses on the Mississippi watershed is not necessarily in my wheelhouse.  Unfortunately, that’s what this truly is a map.  Locations on the lakeshore are barely shown on the manuscript.  There is far better detail in Nicollet’s published map showing that he must have used different sources to fill in that section of his finished product.  However, because the Chequamegon area is the most ripped, faded, and difficult part to read on the entire map, familiarity was an asset.  In the snippet on the left, I am fairly confident that the ripped part under “Chagwamigon” should read Long Ile ou Lapoint or something very similar.  Whereas, the snippet on the right, showing the Eau Galle River area west of Eau Claire, has much clearer script, but I am far less confident in my transcription because I have not been able to locate any online references to Jolie Butte or Rhewash. Waga online.  So, if there are any French or Dakota speakers out there who live near the mouth of the Chippewa let me know if there is a place called “Pretty Mound” or something similar and if I got my letters correct.

Colloquial Nouns in Poor Handwriting 

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Readers of the blog know that I am a big fan of Google Translate.  Compared with the early days of online translation, it is amazing how close one can to reading text in an unfamiliar language these days.  No online translation is ever perfect, especially with grammar, but Google usually steers me in the right direction for nouns.  That said, there are some problems.  The French language, as translated by Google, is more or less the 20th-century version of what Nicollet was educated in.  However, neither of those is the French that was spoken in this area.  What European visitors called Patois and what Manitobans call Michif or Metis French is truly a language of its own and a product of the fur trade.  The “French” of 19th-century La Pointe contained a great deal of Ojibwe and numerous archaic words from colonial Quebec.  This can create challenges in translation, especially when the handwriting is ambiguous.  The snippet on the left, for example, appears to be the Poplar River in Douglas County.  However, the label doesn’t appear to say anything like peuplier or tremble (aspen).  I played around with “frondes” or considered other river names entirely, until I stumbled across the word liard.  Liard does not seem to have the meaning in modern French, but in colloquial Quebecois, it is regionally used to describe several different species of popple tree.  Riv. aux Soles (right), however, has proved much more difficult.  I initially saw the French name of the Totagatic as Riv. aux Lobes, but after some emails with Brian Finstad, Soles seems like the best guess.  But, what is a Sole?  Is it the sun?  The bottom of a foot?  A flounder?  The same fish name can often be applied to different species in different regions.  Is a sculpin a sole?  Is a bullhead?  Do we need to talk to old fishermen in Quebec to find out?

Lack of Grammatical Knowledge


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If Google Translate is my go-to place for French, the Ojibwe People’s Dictionary is where I go to try to confirm words in Ojibwe.  Again, it’s great for nouns and verb-parts, but unless you speak these languages better than I do, knowing the gist of what the word means doesn’t mean you’ll get the translation right.  In the snippet on the left, I transcribed the Ojibwe name for Cross Lake on the Snake River as Kapemijigonian.  This word has elements of the meaning “flows through” in Ojibwe, but the word is nonsensical grammatically.  Charles Lippert, who works for the Mille Lacs Band and has a wealth of information about Ojibwe linguistics, knew the real name, and was kind enough to offer Kapemijigoman as the correct transcription.  Who knows how many similar errors could have been made? French can be tricky too.  Mistaking ou for on, which is very possible with Nicollet’s handwriting, might not alter the meaning of a large chunk of text on Google Translate, but it sure can make you sound like a two-year old.  Check out the snippet of French on the right.  How can a non-Francophone read that?


I used the Inkscape vector graphics illustration program to trace the reproduction from the original.


As always, thanks for reading and please send feedback.


Porcupine Mountains Incidents

December 30, 2017

By Amorin Mello

The following is our transcription of Andrew Rundel’s original handwritten manuscript describing his time spent exploring for copper along the south shore of Lake Superior during the summer of 1846, particularly in the Porcupine Mountains.  Andrew Rundel’s original handwritten manuscript is available online through the Wisconsin Historical Society’s Turning Points series.



Wisconsin Historical Society

Andrew Rundel Journal

“Andrew Rundel left Indiana in July of 1846 to prospect for copper on Lake Superior. His journal of the trip was probably kept for his family, and includes more about traveling than mining. From Chicago he sailed up the Wisconsin shore of Lake Michigan, and describes Racine, Mackinac, and the south shore of Lake Superior. Rundel appears only to have gone as far west as the Porcupine Mountains, but we include his account here for its descriptions of travel on the Great Lakes at the time the mining boom was beginning.  This is his original handwritten manuscript; a printed version was published in Michigan History, June, 1949.”





On the 11th of July with valliece in hand I left my wife and children for the far west I went on foot to Chicago.  After swetting and toiling for two days I reached the city the weather was most excessive hot which rendered it very fatiguing walking.  I put up at the farmers hotel but was soon sick of my bargain as a more filthy place I never stoped at and I would advise any one that may see this never to stop at the farmers hotel unless it has changed hands since I was there.

“Chicago in 1845.”
~ Marquis’ Hand-book of Chicago: A Complete History, Reference Book, and Guide to the City by Albert Nelson Marquis, 1885, page 17.

I remain’d in Chicago from Sunday night until monday at 9 Oclock in the morning when I went on board the S.B. James Madison for Mackinaw.  The Madison is a good boat but not the first class.  We were soon under way and on the broad bosoms on Lake Michigan.

Our boat stood up the Illinois side of the lake we passed, Little Port, Racine, Milwaukee and Che-boy-a-gon and then stood for the Michigan shore.  All the above ports we stop’d at – Racine 25 or 30 miles before reaching Milwaukie is a beautifull place being elevated on a high pice of ground that overlooks the lake.  The buildings all new and some of them handsome gave it a fine prospect appearance it has a population of near two thousand inhabitants.  Milwaukee is also a fine business place and has a population of about five thousand.  Soon after leaving the west shore of the lake we were out of sight of land this was the first time I ever was out of sight I had never form’d a correct Idea of the lake before nothing on every side but water the heavens above and earth beneath perhaps 900 or 1000 feet below.

We now had a head wind so heavy that our boat began to labour heavy to make head way.  And now after six or seven hours that land could not be seen we came in sight of the Manitoe Islands, the wind increas’d until we had a pretty good gail.  We were six hours in gaining the Island twelve miles distance here we lay until sometime in the night we put out for Mackinaw.  The Island and all of the Michigan shore as far as I could see present a baran and gloomy appearance the country is covered with dwarf pine or stunted cedar or hemlock and to me had anything but a pleasant appearance.  Some of the passengers tried to see beauty in the Manatue Islands and the evergreen that covered every thing but I must confess it was but little beauty I could get out of it.  Soon after geting up the morning after leaving the Manitoe Mackinac was in view as we approached the Island the fort with its white walls and buildings on the summit of the hill became visible.  The water of the straits were so clear that we could see the bottom when the water was thirty or forty feet deep.  We are now from the best account four hundred and eighty five miles from Chicago.  The harbour and straits of Mackinaw are verry pretty here you may see the Indian with his bark canoe as he glides over the pure waters of the bay like a sea-bird.  Here are several different tribes of Indians the Chippeways are the most numerous and in fact they appear to be the strongest tribe in the whole N. Western country their territory is very extencive extending from this to the Mississippi and taking the whole of L.S.  The Manomone or wild rice eaters inhabit the country wash’d by the Manomone River this river empties in to Green bay there is also the Winebago Indians that some times come to this place to trade and perhaps others.

1843 Drawing of Mission Point Beach at Mackinac Island, Michigan
~ Historic Mackinac, Volume 1, by Edwin Orin Wood, 1918, facing-page 367.

The great variety of fishing boats and bark canoes with their sails and oars that constantly cover the water gives to Mackinaw a very beautifull appearance some of the boats coming in with fish others going out some palled by squaws and others by french and in fact here you see every boddy.  I mean by that – people from every clime for I never saw so mixed a population in my life.  Every thing appears to be mix’d on half-breeds.  Although there appears to be blood from almost every nation it certainly appears to have a small coulering of Indians with it.

Mackinaw is a very interesting place in many perticulars, certainly for situation, history and wild scenery it is the most interesting Island in our country.  I will quote from travelers its appearance as it is approach’d from lake Huron “We approach it through an armor of Islands, Drummond and Manitoulin [dainly?] seen” on our east and Boisblane and Round in our western side.  Stretching across our path in front is Mackinaw painted against the clear blue skie.  The Island of Mackinaw or Mackinac or Michilimackinac is a high and bold bluff of limestone about three hundred feet above the water covered with evergreen principally stunted pine and hemlock.

Its name signifies in the Indian tongue big turtle as it is something in shape of this animal.  At the foot of the bluff are strewd the buildings of the town.

Painting of Fort Mackinac by Seth Eastman in 1761.
~ United States Army Center of Military History

The United States fort is verry pretty and verry conspicuous as we approach it from either way in the distance it has much the appearance of a row of white buildings lineing the summit of the hill.  The stars and stripes of our country waved over the fort.  And the booming sound of a cannon now rolls over the waters of the straits.  I had to remain here until the next day, and it gave me an opportunity of visiting or rambling over the Island.  On the summit and north of the fort is a natural bridge of white limestone rock stretching a cross a deep chasm, from this we could look down in to the waters of lake Huron.  I saw many curiosities here which I cannot here give.  This place was settled by the French as early as sixteen hundred and seventy three.

It is very singular that the Indians would allow the French to come among them and even marry with them, but when any other nation came among them they were masacreed or driven from the country.

On the opposite shore is to be seen the old fort of Mackinaw in ruins.  It was built by the English before the revolutio and man’d as a garison.  This fort was taken by the Indians under the command of their chief Pontiac by stratagem, and every person was masacre’d.  After the masacree of fort Mackinaw the Indians march’d immediately for Detroit where was also a fort held by English but the commander mistrusted them and saved the fort.

Again I went on board the S. B. Gen’l Scott for the Sault which is ninety miles distant.  As we pass out of the straits for the sault we find our selves on the waters of Lake Huron Islands are to be seen on every side.  The distant to the river from Mackinaw I think is not far from thirty miles.  It is a beautiful evening and the sun sets in lake Huron and to me it was grand beyond any thing I ever saw.

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

Mackinaw The river St. Maries, as you approach it appears like a group of Island and would be different for an inexperianced hand to tell where to find the river and in fact after you are farely in the river there is one continued group of Islands and small lakes the most of the way to the Sault.  These Islands are mostly covered with a stunted growth of evergreen trees of which the hemlock is predominant.  This is the general character of the timber although I notised in some places a fine growth of sugar maple.  The Lakes in this river, or that this river runs through are very prety and abound with fish in great abundence some of the lakes are several miles long and from one to two miles wide.  Around these lakes and at different points an the river Indian wigwams are seen and occasionally Squaws in their bark canoes may be seen gliding across the river with as much grace and eas as tho they were the godesses of those sylvan retreats.  While on our passage ther was an englishman came on board with two squaws.  I learned he was the british Indian agent and that one of the squaws was his wife he appeared to possess wealth and his two squaws were trimed out in fine stile and no doubt wer a source of curiosity and amusement to some southern ladies and gentlemen that were on board on a trip of pleasure to spend the heat of summer at the north.

Our boat took a schooner in toe for the sault as the water is too rappid for schooner in places unless they have a very fair wind.  Thus armed we arrived at the Sault after having been on board twenty four hours the boat however lay by over night in the river on account of the dificulty of the channel.

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

The inhabitants of the Sault ar like those of Mackinaw a perfect mix’d mixed set of inhabitants every thing appears mixed except the whitefish which are pure and the finest I ever saw.  The population perhaps may be two hundred.  There is nothing remarkable at this place except the rappids or shute which is a fall of about twenty two feet in the distance of three fourths of a mile here is fine fishing and the most of the fish are taken by the Indians and consider themselves the rightfull owners of this outlet of Lake Superior.

I was fortunate in finding an excellent Schooner just ready to sail for the copper region of Lake Superior.  We were soon under way and gliding up to the lake from the Sault.  I was surprised to see so many vessels on the waters of Lake Superior not less than eight were in sight one propeller and the Julia Palmer S. B. now send out their steam on this lake.

Our vessel stood directly for Copper harvour which is 225 miles from the Sault we wer soon out of sight of land Lake Superior appears like an ocean to a land lubber like my self, to be twenty hours out of sight of land with a fair wind gives me an Idea of the vastness of this lake I never had before.  Pigeons came on board and sat in the riggins and could scarcely be indus’d to leave the vessel.  They were lost in the fog.

Stanards rock lays nearly on the track from Copper harbour to the Sault and is a very dangerous rock raising not more than two feet out of the water in a calm and when the sea is rough the water runns entire over it so that in a fog or in a dark night vessels might easy run on to it.  The rock is only a five feet square above the water or in sight and to run on to it would be inevitable destruction this rock is thirty or forty miles from any land.  On one side of this rock a line has been let down twelve hundred feet and no bottom found on the other it passes off gradual.  The rock is said to be Traprock.  After passing this rock we soon came in sight of the Manitoe Islands and then Keweenaw point.  Copper harbour is situated on this point.  As we approached Copper harbour the scenery appears bold and rock and no enterance can bee seen to the harbour until we actually enter where the harbour spreads out and we soon find our selves in a beautifull harbour safe from the sea in any direction.

“The ALGONQUIN was built in 1838-39 by the Cleveland North Western Lake Company to compete with Hudsons Bay and American Fur Companies on Lake Superior. The entire fleet on the Big Lake consisted of five schooners and, at 55 feet, ALGONQUIN was the largest of the bunch.”

“Cleveland North Western Lake Company was formed by Messrs. Cyrus Mendenhall, Samuel Richardson, Horatio W. Converse and James A. Converse.”
~ OldAlgonquin.net

Mendenhall ran his vessel the Algonquin in to this harbour a few years ago (I think in ’40) in a gale the first vessel that ever entered this beautiful harbour.  Six or eight vessels may now be seen at a time.

Ft. Wilkins is situated here and was man’d by a small garison until the last summer when the troops were ordered to Texas.

Lake Fanne hoe lays back of Copper harbour and passes entirely around the fort except a few rods at each end of the lake.

The general apperances of the country at this place has a barren rocky aspect.  Nothing can grow here but stunted cedar, pine and hemlock and these must depend mostly on the rocks for the support of I saw no place wher soil enough could be got for a potatoe patch.  The rock is Trap and is traversed by veins of white spar which contrast finely with the dark Trap rock.  The copper men of this neighbourhood have not been verry successfull.  Mendenhall has charge of a location and some interest in it which he thinks will be valuable.

Detail of Porter’s Island and Fort Wilkins at Copper Harbor along the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula 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

As we leve Copper harbour and pass up the lake there is the same general appearance.  We pass Aggate harbour and Eagle harbour and arrive at Eagle River twenty miles from Copper harbour.  Here is the famous Eagle Cliff mine said to be the richest mine in the world.  Whether such will prove to be the fact or not I am not a competent judge.  Mendenhall has a considerable interest in this mine but do not know to what extent.  Not far from this is the Copper falls river where the great copper rock is found this piece of pure copper is of many tons weight I suppose no one knows how arge as they have not found its size the last accounts.

There ar many valuable mines in this vicinity.  In the At Eagle river and vicinity the whole forest appear’d to have suffered from fire the whole country was black.  The fire raged with such fury that it appears to me every tree must be killed for miles around several houses were burned and other damages sustained.

Keewenaw point which I have just been describing is a point of land that runs nearly in to the middle of the lake from the south side.

After leaving copper harbour (which is situated directly on the point) the cost bears a little S. of W. for twenty miles and then bears S. W. so that after passing up the lake sixty or seventy miles it cannot be more than twenty five miles across to the lake.  Directly east from Copper harbour down the lake the cost bears almost south.  So that this point may be called a peninsula.

Portage lake crosses this peninsula so that small boats may cross with a portage of about one mile.  The distance across here may be 20 miles and to go round would be not less than 90 miles.

As we pass up the lake the coast changes its appearance insted of a Trapcrock cost we find the shore generally lined with a redish sand stone though in places there is a beautifull sand beach.  At Portage lake I first found Mendenhall and here I took my first lesson in exploring soon after I arrived Mendenhall left and left me in charg of the company of explorers.

Our company consisted of five men besides my self six in all one of the men staid at the camp and acted as cook when our work lay back from the lake 9 or 10 miles as some of it did.  Each man took his blanket and provisions to last several days.  Our blankets were done up in the form of a pack with our provisions in it each man having a good collar for the purpose thus equipt we were ready for our work.  After searching all day for copper we generally camped by the side of some stream, built a five, cooked our supper, took our blanket, and lay down for the night, with the heavens for our curtains, and the earth for our pillow, and thus we continued until our provisions run out, when we would again return to camp and renew our stock and repeat the same thing over.  I have been thus perticular in describing our manner of exploring, it being descriptive of all of our exploring.

After spending about a month her among Hirnas Wolverenes and Jackalanters and floundering among swamps and moors and climbing hills we left these diggins and went up to Misery river thirty miles farther up the lake to repeat the same thing over.  I might say here we found no copper at the portag but several Beaver habitations.  There is no game in the woods except Beaver and Porcupines scarcely a bird except pheasents no wild fruit no flowers no nothing except cedar swamps of the worst kind.  After leaving this we soon found the coast rocky.  Walls of red sandstone rose from the waters edg or directly out of the water to the heighth of a hundred feet perpendicular here we had a beatifull view of these rocks as our traveling is in a Batteau and must keep close to the shore for safety.  (I might here state the only way of traveling in summer is in Batteaus with sail and oars we coast along from place to place as business calls.  These rocks have a beautifull appearance caverns are wash’d and worn in to the base of these rocks and looks as tho some sea nymph might have had her pallace here.  My mind became so much excited I almost expected to see some of those fabled beauties pressing out at us as we passed along from some of those windows or loopholes in the wall or see them sitting on the point of some prominent rock, attending to her toilet but I didn’t see any though, nor did I hear them sing.  Rivulets of clear pure water came rolling over these rocks from the adjacent high land and form’d beautifull cascades inviting the traveler to view and admire their pur waters before forever lost in the mighty Superior.  Some of these waterfalls appear to leap from the top of the rock, and plunge in the lake several feet from their base while others cling to the rock until they reach the waters of the lake.  I regret much I cannot visit the pictured rocks which are farther down the lake than where we first touched on the south side.  They are said to be beautiful when view’d at a short distance from the water, presenting a vast wall of red sandstone rocks most beautifully pictured.  The Indians have some superstitious notions of these rocks of which I know but little.

Nor shall I be able to visit those stupenduous monuments on the north shore of the lake.  These rocks are trap and are said to rais perpendicularly out of the water to the great heighth of thirteen hundred feet.  These rocks have undoubtedly been thrown up by some volcanic action.

It is the common received opinion that this entire trap range has been thrown up by some violent eruption and has burst up through the upper layer of sandstone. Veins of which spar travers these Trap rocks in every direction and nearly all copper is found in them. Occasionally however veins of oars are traced some distance from the Trap into the Conglomoret rock wher the two unite.

The oars that are formed are the Red, Black and Grey Oxides also, Red, Black, Grey, and Yellow Sulpherets but in many places large quantities of Native copper is found.  Pieces or bolders of pure copper is sometimes found weighing many tons.  Of these copper rocks the one at Copper falls mine is most remarkable of which I have already mentioned.  I saw one from the Ontonagon river weighing over Sixty hundred.  This piece of copper had a good deal of pure silver in it.  These copper bolders sometimes lay in veins in the rock and sometimes they are found loose on the surface of the ground at a distance from any vein yet discovered.  They appear as though they had been melted and run into masses without any form, and of course rough enough.

I will now return and pursue our course up the lake the cost is rough and rocky most of the way from Portage up to the mouth of Misery river.  There is but one stream of any note and that is Graverod river.  This is a small stream large enough for a good mill stream and furnishes a toelerable good boat harbour.  We ran our boat into this tream with a pretty good sea at our heals, and got well wet as all hands had to jump in to the water to save our boat from breaking on the rocks.  Here we camp’d for the night nor did we get away the next day the sea being to rough for our small boat.

“Among those who formed the advance in the settlement of Ontonagon County was James K. Paul, who was widely known as ‘JimPaul. He was the first white man within the limits of the county who came to the vicinity of the mouth of Ontonagon River May 2, 1843, and pre-empted a claim of a tract of land where the village now stands, on the east side, and erected a log cabin thereon the same year. Mr. Paul became a historic character, not only in Ontonagon County, but throughout the Upper Peninsula as well, where settlements existed. He was a native of Old Virginia, and was a fair type of a brave, generous and open-hearted frontiersman. His cabin, though small, served as a dwelling house and store, in which he entertained those who came, and supplied those who desired with such articles as he happened to have for sale. His quarters were given the name of ‘Jim Paul’s Deadfall.'”
History of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan by The Western Historical Company, 1883 (transcribed by Debi Hanes).

Misery river is a muddy sluggish looking stream different from any water I have seen since I came on the lake it is however a good boat harbour and is a point where most boats stop in passing up or down after landing at the mouth of Misery, securing our boat and getting all things ready.  We started for our work which lay back about ten miles from the lake.  Here we repeated the same thing over as at the Portage. And with no better success.  After spending near a month here we again pact all things up and started for the mouth of Misery.  As we pass up the lake we pass Sleeping river Flint Steel and firesteel rivers all of which are small streams but furnish good boat harbours and arrive at the Ontonagon about twenty miles distant.  The Ontonagon is a fine stream and the only stream that I have seen that deserves the name of river.  It is 75 or 100 yds wide at its mouth and is a good harbour for small vessels having a depth of water on the bar of about seven or eight feet.  This place must always be a place of conciderable importance it is in the middle of the mining destrict and the largest river that empties in to the south side of the lake.  I understand there has been a new County form’d and this place is lix’d on as the County seat, at present the mouth of the river is held by one Jim Paul and claims the most eligable cite for a town by preemption and prevents any other one from improving it.  He is a notorious character he has two small houses one he pretends to keep as a tavern and the other as a dogery to sell liquors.  It goes by the name of Paul’s dedfall.  It is one of the most miserable places I ever saw.  I can scarcely repress my feelings at the insult given by it to the entire waters of Lake Superior.  I hope the time is not far distant when this stain will be wash’d from the shores of the lake.  Mendenhalls mine lays up the river, and as we pass up we find rich bottom bands covered with a luxurient growth of vegitation quite diferent from the shore of the lake.  The scenery is beautifull, amongst the trees that line the banks of the streams is the mountain ash one of the most beautifull ornament trees I ever saw, they were loaded with brillient red fruit and are said to retain its fruit all winter.

Detail of Ontonagon River, “Paul’s Cabin,” the Ontonagon Copper 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

The stream is broad and deep the distance I have been up which is about five miles from its mouth.  The indians have fine sugar camps on this stream but the pail faces or Che-moco-man are beginning to occupy them and the red man must leave.

At this point (five miles from the lake) Mendenhall has a warehouse where all of the goods and supplies for the Mendenhall location are landed.

“The Mendenhall Company was formed in 1845 to explore property obtained from the War Department located north of Norwich. Surface improvements and some land clearing took place in 1845 to prepare for mining, which began in 1846. Several shafts were driven on a conglomerate lode and approximately 4,000 pounds of copper was recovered from a sulphur ore that contained copper. All mining ceased in 1849 and the mine was abandoned. 
~ mindat.org

The location is five or six miles from the river.  Here are the best improvements I have ever seen since I have been on the lake.  He has seven or eight buildings for different purposes and several acres of land cleared last season he rais’d potatoes and Turnips enough for the use of the location.  They also had plenty of cucumbers and squashes with some other garden vegetables.  This mine is conducted with order and every thing has a business appearance.

They have a chaplain and preaching every sunday.  Their preacher works in the mine weekdays and preaches on sundays.  The miners are all english men from the cornish mines of England.  The Ontonagon destrict, it is thought will become one of the best mineing destricts on the lake.

Iron river fifteen miles up from the mouth of the Ontonagon is a considerable of a stream next in size to the Ontonagon that I have seen this is a good boat harbour but not large enough for vessel.  It is a great resort for Indians.

From Iron river to the Purcupine mountains the coast is mostly rocky and rather dangerous costing.  For further description of this cost see Note book.

From Iron river to the Porcupine mountains or to the Lone Rock is fifteen miles.  Lone Rock is a detach’d rock situated about 1/4 of a mile from the main land and raises out of the water perhaps twenty feet.  Nothing grows on the rock except some wild roses which are said to be beautifull.  This rock is trap and is fill’d with veins of white spar it is known to all voyagers as a point in counting distances.  The Indians call it Me-ne-sawbic.  This rock is the corner of the location I have been on this winter and the mine is call’d the lone rock mine.

The Porcupine Mountains ar ranges of mountains or hills runn paralell to the lake or nearly so at this place they approach verry near the lake.  And are several ridges laying paralell to each other.

The first ridg is Conglomerate, the second is Trap and also the third.  They rais by steps the first not being so high as the next and the third being higher still so that a person on the top of the third range can overlook the others and see the lake.  These hills or mountains have a gradual incline to the north and are not very steep, but their south side is verry abrupt and form perpendicular walls of rock from one to three hundred feet high.  In the vally between the second and third range Carp River winds its way to the lake running parallel to it for many miles.  This river is a small stream of pure water of sufficient size for mill purposes.  It abounds with Trout in great abundance.  Here is also plenty of Beaver on it.  The scenery is bold and grand for him who can enjoy mountain scenery.

No record of the Bellmont Mine could be found.  The Lone Rock Silver Mining Company was not organized until 1876.  This suggests that this manuscript was not a journal from 1846, but were memoirs written decades after the fact.

The view from some of the higher points of the mountains where Lake Superior is spread out before you on one side and the mountains with their eternal rocks and deep vallies with their small rivers and mountain lakes, on the other presents certainly one of the most grand, and sublime pictures I ever witness’d.  I have recently visited the Bellmont mine about five miles from the Lone Rock mine.  Here I find the upheave to be greater than I have seen at any other part of the range being as near as I can judg seven or eight hundred feet nearly perpendicular.  It is also the highest point of the second range of mountains or second ridg from the lake. Being 1000 feet above Lake Superior. Myself in company with Geo Rice in the evening assended the highest point where we had a beautifull view of the surrounding country and of Lake Superior which was now calm and smooth as a mirror. How shall I paint that sunset scene on Lake Superior as view’d from the top of the Porcupine Mountains.  I have been toss’d on Enis billows, I have heard the thunder of Lake Michigan as she in her magesty lash’d her impenetrable barier but never have I seen nature in all her georgeous beauty until I viewed her at evening from these mountains.  As the sun approach’d the christal floor of Lake Superior the blue waters were painted and ting’d with every possible hue and sparkled like diamonds shortly the brilliants appeared to concentrate until there was but one bright path from us to the sun and formed a beautiful bridg from earth to heaven.  I had always been accustomed to seeing the sun abov me but now it was below near the water, on the water, and under the water, and now the sun sleeps in Lake Superior.  The whole western skies are painted with rose and yellow and green and reflected back on the blue waters of the lake as though nature was determin’d to try her hand at fancy work once more before returning to rest.

We lingered here until one star made its appearance soon follow’d by all the bright lights of Heaven (if I may be allowed to quote from Scripture) until the whole deep blue was set with Jewells.

This reminds me of that pretty vers my litl girls us’d to repeat

Twinkle twinkle pretty star
Cant you tell us where you are
Up above the world so high
Like a diamond in the skie

We lingered here until the hour reminded us we must try to find our way down to the cabbin.

This was the last time I expect to visit this part of the mountains I therefor determin’d to assend thos lofty cliffs and have a morning view. Soon a darling radiance sot up from behind the mountains and the King of day made his appearance as if to greet his favorurite lake.

Deep in the vally lay that beautifull mountain lake with the wild ducks sporting on its bosom or whirling in gracefull circles over its shining waters. After spending an hour or two I bid adieu to this grand and magnificent Observatory of nature probably forever.

Hand-drawn chart of Lake Superior in Andrew Rundel Journal.

By Amorin Mello

Early Life among the Indians

by Benjamin Green Armstrong

Early Indian History.


The First Treaty.—The Removal Order.— Treaties of 1837 and 1842.—A Trip to Washington.—In New York City with Only One Dime.—At the Broker’s Residence.


Benjamin Armstrong is impressively detailed and yet inaccurate at times in his memoirs.  I recommend reading his words with a grain of salt.
There were four Treaties at Prairie Du Chien, but all were before 1835.  Armstrong probably meant the first Treaty in 1825.

My earliest recollections in Northern Wisconsin and Minnesota territories date back to 1835, at which time Gen. Cass and others on the part of the Government, with different tribes of Indians, viz : Potawatomies, Winnebagos, Chippewas, Saux and Foxes and the Sioux, at Prairie du Chien, met in open council, to define and agree upon boundary lines between the Saux and Foxes and the Chippewas. The boundary or division of territory as agreed upon and established by this council was the Mississippi River from Prairie du Chien north to the mouth of of Crow Wing River, thence to its source. The Saux and Foxes and the Sioux were recognized to be the owners of all territory lying west of the Mississippi and south of the Crow Wing River. The Chippewas, by this treaty, were recognized as the owners of all lands east of the Mississippi in the territory of Wisconsin and Minnesota, and north of the Crow Wing River on both sides of the Mississippi to the British Possessions, also Lake Superior country on both sides of the lake to Sault Ste. Marie and beyond. The other tribes mentioned in this council had no interest in the above divided territory from the fact that their possessions were east and south of the Chippewa Country, and over their title there was no dispute. The division lines were agreed to as described and a treaty signed. When all shook hands and covenanted with each other to live in peace for all time to come.

The 1837 Treaty with the Chippewa at St. Peters is also known as the White Pine Treaty.  Henry Dodge was the Commissioner.  (I could not find evidence of Josiah Snelling or Major Walking being present at this Treaty.)

In 1837 the Government entered into a treaty with the Chippewas of the Mississippi and St. Croix Rivers at St. Peter, Minnesota, Col. Snelling, of the army, and Maj. Walker, of Missouri, being the commissioners on the part of the Government, and it appears that at the commencement of this council the anxiety on the part of the commissioners to perfect a treaty was so great that statements were made by them favorable to the Indians, and understood perfectly by them, that were not afterwards incorporated in the treaty. The Indians were told by these commissioners that the great father had sent them to buy their pine timber and their minerals that were hidden in the earth, and that the great father was very anxious to dig the mineral, for of such material he made guns and knives for the Indians, and copper kettles in which to boil their sugar sap.

“The timber you make but little use of is the pine your great father wants to build many steamboats, to bring your goods to you and to take you to Washington bye-and-bye to see your great father and meet him face to face. He does not want your lands, it is too cold up here for farming. He wants just enough of it to build little towns where soldiers stop, mining camps for miners, saw mill sites and logging camps. The timber that is best for you the great father does not care about. The maple tree that you make your sugar from, the birch tree that you get bark from for your canoes and from which you make pails for your sugar sap, the cedar from which you get material for making canoes, oars and paddles, your great father cares nothing for. It is the pine and minerals that he wants and he has sent us here to make a bargain with you for it,” the commissioners said.

And further, the Indians were told and distinctly understood that they were not to be disturbed in the possession of their lands so long as their men behaved themselves. They were told also that the Chippewas had always been good Indians and the great father thought very much of them on that account, and with these promises fairly and distinctly understood they signed the treaty that ceded to the government all their territory lying east of the Mississippi, embracing the St. Croix district and east to the Chippewa River, but to my certain knowledge the Indians never knew that they had ceded their lands until 1849, when they were asked to remove therefrom.

Robert Stuart was an American Fur Company agent and Acting Superintendent on Mackinac Island.
~ Wikipedia.org

In 1842 Robert Stewart, on the part of the government, perfected a treaty at La Pointe, on Lake Superior, in which the Chippewas of the St. Croix and Superior country ceded all that portion of their territory, from the boundary of the former treaty of 1837, with the Chippewas of the Mississippi and St. Croix Indians, east and along the south shore of the lake to the Chocolate River, Michigan, territory. No conversation that was had at this time gave the Indians an inkling or caused them to mistrust that they were ceding away their lands, but supposed that they were simply selling the pine and minerals, as they had in the treaty of 1837, and when they were told, in 1849, to move on and thereby abandon their burying grounds — the dearest thing to an Indian known— they began to hold councils and to ask each as to how they had understood the treaties, and all understood them the same, that was : That they were never to be disturbed if they behaved themselves. Messengers were sent out to all the different bands in every part of their country to get the understanding of all the people, and to inquire if any depredations had been committed by any of their young men, or what could be the reason for this sudden order to move. This was kept up for a year, but no reason could be assigned by the Indians for the removal order.

The 1842 Treaty at La Pointe is also known as the Copper Treaty.

The treaty of 1842 made at La Pointe stipulated that the Indians should receive their annuities at La Pointe for a period of twenty-five years. Now by reason of a non-compliance with the order to move away, the annuity payment at La Pointe had been stopped and a new agency established at Sandy Lake, near the Mississippi River, and their annuities taken there, and the Indians told to go there for them, and to bring along their women and children, and to remain there, and all that did not would be deprived of their pay and annuities.

In the fall of 1851, and after all the messengers had returned that had been sent out to inquire after the cause for the removal orders, the chiefs gathered in council, and after the subject had been thoroughly canvassed, agreed that representatives from all parts of the country should be sent to the new agency and see what the results of such a visit would be. A delegation was made up, consisting of about 500 men in all. They reached the new agency about September 10th of that year. The agent there informed them that rations should be furnished to them until such time as he could get the goods and money from St. Paul.

Some time in the latter part of the month we were surprised to hear that the new agency had burned down, and, as the word came to us,

“had taken the goods and money into the ashes.”

The agent immediately started down the river, and we saw no more of him for some time. Crowds of Indians and a few white men soon gathered around the burnt remains of the agency and waited until it should cool down, when a thorough search was made in the ashes for melted coin that must be there if the story was true that goods and money had gone down together. They scraped and scratched in vain All that was ever found in that ruin in the shape of metal was two fifty cent silver pieces. The Indians, having no chance to talk with the agent, could find out nothing of which they wished to know. They camped around the commissary department and were fed on the very worst class of sour, musty pork heads, jaws, shoulders and shanks, rotten corned beef and the poorest quality of flour that could possibly be milled. In the course of the next month no fewer than 150 Indians had died from the use of these rotten provisions, and the remainder resolved to stay no longer, and started back for La Pointe.

The Sandy Lake Tragedy and Ojibwe Removal efforts have had profound impact upon Chequamegon History.  John S. Watrous was the Indian Agent that Armstrong refers to as “Waters”.

At Fond du Lac, Minnesota, some of the employees of the American Fur Co. urged the Indians to halt there and wait for the agent to come, and finally showed them a message from the agent requesting them to stop at Fond du Lac, and stated that he had procured money and goods and would pay them off at that point, which he did during the winter of 1851. About 500 Indians gathered there and were paid, each one receiving four dollars in money and a very small goods annuity. Before preparing to leave for home the Indians wanted to know of the agent, John S. Waters, what he was going to do with the remainder of the money and goods. He answered that he was going to keep it and those who should come there for it would get their share and those that did not would get nothing. The Indians were now thoroughly disgusted and discouraged, and piling their little bundles of annuity goods into two piles agreed with each other that a game of lacrosse should be played on the ice for the whole stock. The Lake Superior Indians were to choose twenty men from among them and the interior Indians the same number. The game was played, lasting three days, and resulting in a victory for the interiors. During all this time councils were being held and dissatisfaction was showing itself on every hand. Threats were freely indulged in by the younger and more resolute members of the band, who thought while they tamely submitted, to outrage their case would never grow better. But the older and more considerate ones could not see the case as they did, but all plainly saw there was no way of redress at present and they were compelled to put up with just such treatment as the agent saw fit to inflict upon them. They now all realized that they had been induced to sign treaties that they did not understand, and had been imposed upon. They saw that when the annuities were brought and they were asked to touch the pen, they had only received what the agent had seen fit to give them, and certainly not what was their dues. They had lost 150 warriors on this one trip alone by being fed on unwholesome provisions, and they reasoned among themselves :

Is this what our great father intended? If so we may as well go to our old home and there be slaughtered where we can be buried by the side of our relatives and friends.

Other accounts of Oshogay and Chief Buffalo’s 1852 delegation have also been covered by Chequamegon History.

These talks were kept up after they had returned to La Pointe. I attended many of them, and being familiar with the language, I saw that great trouble was brewing and if something was not quickly done trouble of a serious nature would soon follow. At last I told them if they would stop where they were I would take a party of chiefs, or others, as they might elect, numbering five or six, and go to Washington, where they could meet the great father and tell their troubles to his face. Chief Buffalo and other leading chieftains of the country at once agreed to the plan, and early in the spring a party of six men were selected, and April 5th, 1852, was appointed as the day to start. Chiefs Buffalo and O-sho-ga, with four braves and myself, made up the party. On the day of starting, and before noon, there were gathered at the beach at old La Pointe, Indians by the score to witness the departure. We left in a new birch bark canoe which was made for the occasion and called a four fathom boat, twenty-four feet long with six paddles. The four braves did most of the paddling, assisted at times by O-sho-ga and sometimes by Buffalo. I sat at the stern and directed the course of the craft. We made the mouth of the Montreal River, the dividing line between Wisconsin and Michigan, the first night, where we went ashore and camped, without covering, except our blankets. We carried a small amount of provisions with us, some crackers, sugar and coffee, and depended on game and fish for meat. The next night, having followed along the beach all day, we camped at Iron River. No incidents of importance happened, and on the third day out from La Pointe, at 10 a. m. we landed our bark at Ontonagon, where we spent two days in circulating a petition I had prepared, asking that the Indians might be left and remain in their own country, and the order for their removal be reconsidered. I did not find a single man who refused to sign it, which showed the feeling of the people nearest the Indians upon the subject. From Ontonagon we went to Portage Lake, Houghton and Hancock, and visited the various copper mines, and all there signed the petition. Among the signers I would occasionally meet a man who claimed personal acquaintance with the President and said the President would recognize the signature when he saw it, which I found to be so on presenting the petition to President Filmore. Among them was Thomas Hanna, a merchant at Ontonagon, Capt. Roberts, of the Minnesota mine, and Douglas, of the firm of Douglas & Sheldon, Portage Lake. Along the coast from Portage Lake we encountered a number of severe storms which caused us to go ashore, and we thereby lost considerable time. Stopping at Marquette I also circulated the petition and procured a great many signatures. Leaving there nothing was to be seen except the rocky coast until we reached Sault Ste. Marie, where we arrived in the afternoon and remained all the next day, getting my petition signed by all who were disposed. Among others who signed it was a Mr. Brown, who was then editing a paper there. He also claimed personal acquaintance with the President and gave me two or three letters of introduction to parties in New York City, and requested me to call on them when I reached the city, saying they would be much pleased to see the Indian chieftains from this country, and that they would assist me in case I needed assistance, which I found to be true.

The second day at the “Soo” the officers from the fort came to me with the inteligence that no delegation of Indians would be allowed to go to Washington without first getting permission from the government to do so, as they had orders to stop and turn back all delegations of Indians that should attempt to come this way en-route to Washington. This was to me a stunner. In what a prediciment I found myself. To give up this trip would be to abandon the last hope of keeping that turbulent spirit of the young warriors within bounds. Now they were peacably inclined and would remain so until our mission should decide their course. They were now living on the hope that our efforts would obtain for them the righting of a grievous wrong, but to return without anything accomplished and with the information that the great father’s officers had turned us back would be to rekindle the fire that was smoldering into an open revolt for revenge. I talked with the officers patiently and long and explained the situation of affairs in the Indian country, and certainly it was no pleasant task for me to undertake, without pay or hope of reward, to take this delegation through, and that I should never have attempted it if I had not considered it necessary to secure the safety of the white settlers in that country, and that although I would not resist an officer or disobey an order of the government, I should go as far as I could with my Indians, and until I was stopped by an officer, then I would simply say to the Indians,

“I am prevented from going further. I have done all I can. I will send you as near home, as I can get conveyances for you, but for the present I shall remain away from that country,”

The officers at the “Soo” finally told me to go on, but they said,

“you will certainly be stopped at some place, probably at Detroit. The Indian agent there and the marshall will certainly oppose your going further.”

More than one Steamer Northerner was on the Great Lakes in 1852. This may have been the one Chief Buffalo’s delegation rode on.
~ Great Lakes Maritime Database

But I was determined to try, and as soon as I could get a boat for Detroit we started. It was the steamer Northerner, and when we landed in Detroit, sure enough, we were met by the Indian agent and told that we could go no further, at any rate until next day, or until he could have a talk with me at his office. He then sent us to a hotel, saying he would see that our bill was paid until next day. About 7:30 that evening I was called to his office and had a little talk with him and the marshall. I stated to them the facts as they existed in the northwest, and our object in going to Washington, and if we were turned back I did not consider that a white man’s life would long be safe in the Indian country, under the present state of excitement; that our returning without seeing the President would start a fire that would not soon be quenched. They finally consented to my passing as they hardly thought they could afford to arrest me, considering the petitions I had and the circumstances I had related.

“But,” they also added, “we do not think you will ever reach Washington with your delegation.”

I thanked them for allowing us to proceed and the next morning sailed for Buffalo, where we made close connections with the first railroad cars any of us had ever seen and proceeded to Albany, at which place we took the Steamer Mayflower, I think. At any rate the boat we took was burned the same season and was commanded by Capt. St. John.

Lecture Room (theater) at Barnum’s American Museum circa 1853.
~ Commons.Wikimedia.org

We landed in New York City without mishap and I had just and only one ten-cent silver piece of money left. By giving the ‘bus driver some Indian trinkets I persuaded him to haul the party and baggage to the American House, which then stood a block or so from Barnum’s Theatre. Here I told the landlord of my financial embarrassment and that we must stay over night at any rate and in some way the necessary money to pay the bill should be raised. I found this landlord a prince of good fellows and was always glad that I met him. I told him of the letters I had to parties in the city and should I fail in getting assistance from them I should exhibit my fellows and in this way raise the necessary funds to pay my bill and carry us to our destination. He thought the scheme a good one, and that himself and me were just the ones to carry it out. Immediately after supper I started out in search of the parties to whom I had letters of introduction, and with the landlord’s help in giving me directions, I soon found one of them, a stock broker, whose name I cannot remember, or the street on which he lived. He returned with me to the hotel, and after looking the Indians over, he said,

“You are all right. Stay where you are and I will see that you have money to carry you through.”

The next day I put the Indians on exhibition at the hotel, and a great many people came to see them, most of whom contributed freely to the fund to carry us to our destination. On the second evening of the exhibition this stock broker came with his wife to the show, and upon taking his leave, invited me to bring the delegation to his house the next afternoon, where a number of ladies of their acquaintance could see them without the embarrassment they would feel at the show room. To this I assented, and the landlord being present, said he would assist by furnishing tho conveyance. But when the ‘bus was brought up in front of the house the next day for the purpose of taking the Indians aboard, the crowd became so dense that it was found impossible to get them into it, and it was with some difficulty that they were gotten back to their room. We saw it would not be possible to get them across the city on foot or by any method yet devised. I despatched a note to the broker stating how matters stood, and in less than half an hour himself and wife were at the hotel, and the ready wit of this little lady soon had a plan arranged by which the Indians could be safely taken from the house and to her home without detection or annoyance. The plan was to postpone the supper she had arranged for in the afternoon until evening, and that after dark the ‘bus could be placed in the alley back of the hotel and the Indians got into it without being observed. The plan was carefully carried out by the landlord. The crowd was frustrated and by 9 p. m. we were whirling through the streets with shaded ‘bus windows to the home of the broker, which we reached without any interruption, and were met at the door by the little lady whose tact had made the visit possible, and I hope she may now be living to read this account of that visit, which was nearly thirty-nine years ago. We found some thirty or forty young people present to see us, and I think a few old persons. The supper was prepared and all were anxious to see the red men of the forest at a white man’s table. You can imagine my own feelings on this occasion, for, like the Indians, I had been brought up in a wilderness, entirely unaccustomed to the society of refined and educated people, and here I was surrounded by them and the luxuries of a finished home, and with the conduct of my wards to be accounted for, I was forced to an awkward apology, which was, however, received with that graciousness of manner that made me feel almost at home. Being thus assured and advised that our visit was contemplated for the purpose of seeing us as nearly in our native ways and customs as was possible, and that no offense would be taken at any breach of etiquette, but, on the contrary, they should be highly gratified if we would proceed in all things as was our habit in the wilderness, and the hostess, addressing me, said it was the wish of those present that in eating their supper the Indians would conform strictly to their home habits, to insure which, as supper was then being put in readiness for them, I told the Indians that when the meal had been set before them on the table, they should rise up and pushing their chairs back, seat themselves upon the floor, taking with them only the plate of food and the knife. They did this nicely, and the meal was taken in true Indian style, much to the gratification of the assemblage. When the meal was completed each man placed his knife and plate back upon the table, and, moving back towards the walls of the room, seated himself upon the floor in true Indian fashion.

As the party had now seen enough to furnish them with tea table chat, they ate their supper and after they had finished requested a speech from the Indians, at least that each one should say something that they might hear and which I could interpret to the party. Chief O-sha-ga spoke first, thanking the people for their kindness. Buffalo came next and said he was getting old and was much impressed by the manner of white people and showed considerable feeling at the nice way in which they had been treated there and generally upon the route.

Our hostess, seeing that I spoke the language fluently, requested that I make them a speech in the Chippewa tongue. To do this so they would understand it best I told them a story in the Indian tongue. It was a little story about a monkey which I had often told the Indians at home and it was a fable that always caused great merriment among them, for a monkey was, in their estimation, the cutest and most wonderful creature in the world, an opinion which they hold to the present time. This speech proved to be the hit of the evening, for I had no sooner commenced (though my conversation was directed to the white people), than the Indians began to laugh and cut up all manner of pranks, which, combined with the ludicrousness of the story itself, caused a general uproar of laughter by all present and once, if never again, the fashionably dressed and beautiful ladies of New York City vied with each other and with the dusky aborigines of the west in trying to show which one of all enjoyed best the festivities. The rest of the evening and until about two o’clock next morning was spent in answering questions about our western home and its people, when we returned to the hotel pleased and happy over the evening’s entertainment.

To be continued in Chapter II

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.


* 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


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.

By Amorin Mello

… continued from Our First Visitor.

Transcribed and shared by Robert J. Nelson
from the July 7th, 1900, issue of the Bayfield County Press :

Incidents of Early Days on Lake Superior

At the Falls of Bad River # 2

By Ervin Leihy

[Note – my communication in your issue on June 2, starts out with the date, November 1864.  This is a mistake of the printer. The date was 1846]

These tools were likely purchased at La Pointe during the 1846 annuity payments.   Possible merchants include Julius Austrian and Vincent Roy Jr.

About the middle of October, 1846, after our return from LaPointe, our list of tools and implements was about as follows: two serviceable saws, one or two old ones, well past their days of greatest usefulness, one broad ax, one crosscut saw, two shaving knives, one handsaw, one square, and one nail hammer, a few pounds of nails and two or three heavy grub hoes.

There were four of us in camp; Captain Joseph Wood, Charlie Rowley – the linguist – John Smith and myself.  Question arose: what shall we do?  Let’s build a house.  Where?  Let’s go up to the Falls.  Captain Wood and the writer went.  We found a romantic and lovely spot surrounded by dense forest, on the east of high bluff covered with tall pines, on the North and West with Maple, Elm, basswood and other timber of heavy growth.  The rumble and rippling on the falls with the surrounding scenery was almost enchanting.  Well, a place was selected, a stake was struck, and the next day work was commenced.  Captain Wood took the broad ax, Smith and I an ax each, Rowley – the same linguist – he was suffering with the cut foot, was selected as cook.

Detail of Ervin Leihy’s mill on the La Pointe (Bad River) Reservation from Charles Whittlesey‘s 1860 Geological Map of the Penokie Range in Geology of Wisconsin: Volume III; plate XX-214.

Work was now the order of the day.  The plan of the house was 20 x 24, squared timber 6 inches thick, floor and all.  No friction or delay.  Timber for the floor and walls was soon produced.  Now, how to get the timber to the stake?  There was but one way; no choice.  Smith and I must do the job.  A rude sled or go-devil was made, one end of a stick of timber was placed on this and away it went to its destination.  The process was kept up until the timber was all on the ground.  The sills, and 24 feet long, were placed 20 feet apart outside to outside, on these the flooring 6 inches thick, was placed; on top of this the walls went up 11 feet without friction.  Now comes the tug-of-war; the gables and the roof.

Talk about Robinson Crusoe, he didn’t have to build a house.  He found a cave and only he had to do was crawl in.  But the gables went up, a beam across the center and a pair of rafters, 6 x 6 on top of this for roof boards.  Norway pine poles 24 feet long, hewn nicely, 2 inches thick and placed 10 inches, center to center, and on top of these A No. 1 singles, 2 feet long.  Now for the last and worst job of all, fireplace in the chimney.  Sand rock in the opposite bank of the river was plentiful and the old ax’s, the same old team in the same old go-devil was in active operation, sand, clay and ashes were mixed up for mortar and the fireplace went up.

Wood, Smith and I often talked, mourned and dreamed about a grindstone.  During our quarrying operation one day, down came the slab of slatey sandrock about 2 1/2 feet in diameter and 4 to 5 inches thick.  “Holy Moses!” said I, “Smith, if you will help me make a grindstone I will help you make three potato baskets next spring.”  “Agreed” was the prompt reply.  One grindstone ones known to exist in the Lake Superior area and that was in the government blacksmith shop at LaPointe for use of the Indians.

List of mid-1840’s La Pointe Indian Sub-Agency employees including Peter Chouinard, William E. VanTassel, and the previously unknown Carpenter.
~ Thirtieth Congress – First Session. Ex. Doc. No. 26. House of Representatives.  Persons Employed In The Indian Department.  Letter from The Secretary of War, Transmitting a statement of persons employed in the Indian Department.  January 26, 1848.

Before snow fell we had picked up a number of worn-out and castaway Indian axes, some with the initials P.C. – Peter Chounard – who was probably the first man to pound hot iron on Lake Superior, and some of them the initials W.E.V.T. – W. E. Van Tassel – for many nights and Sundays thereafter, those axes might have been heard pecking away at the old sand rock until finally after many days a frame was made, a crank adjusted and a grindstone came into existence.

Wood’s eloquent remark: “a pretty good mechanical job, boys.”  It did good service for many years.  The chimney was finally completed and on the eighth day of January, 1847, we moved into the second house built in Wisconsin, Northup Chippewa Falls, outside of LaPointe.

By Amorin Mello

… continued from At the Falls of Bad River.

Transcribed and shared by Robert J. Nelson
from the June 2nd, 1900, issue of the Bayfield County Press :

Incidents of Early Days on Lake Superior

Out First Visitor

By Ervin Leihy

Correct year is 1846.

Lake November, 1864, and late in the evening, a slight noise was heard outside of our cabin at the Falls.  The door was opened and a Indian entered, clad in regulation uniform, as follows: cotton shirt, a blanket coat with of same material attached, a breech cloth, leggings of blanket and moccasins of buckskin.

it is cold (weather)
~ Ojibwe People’s Dictionary

Rowley, who had picked up a few words of Chippewa wanted to show off, stepped up to the Indian, placed his hand on the bare part of the Indians anatomy and inquired ke-se-nah?  The Indian surveyed him for moment, placed his hand on Rowley’s cheek in repeated Rowley’s question, ke-se-nah, (cold)?  This provided a burst of merriment from the “tender footed,” who could not talk “Injun”, in which the Indian joined. Rowley talked no more Indian that night.

Detail of Ervin Leihy’s sawmill on the La Pointe (Bad River) Reservation from Charles Whittlesey‘s 1860 Geological Map of the Penokie Range in Geology of Wisconsin: Volume III; plate XX-214.

The visitor was evidently a young hunter returning from an unsuccessful hunt.  A place was made for him near the fire, he was housed and fed and in the morning departed for his Lodge, six or 7 miles away.

This was not his last visit.  After the new house was finished – now well underway – became again and brought his two best friends with him, with presents of nice fresh fish from the Lake, which were much enjoyed.  These visits were repeated quite frequently by the three friends.  They would come much out of their way to bring us presents of Partridge, venison, most meat, just made Maple sugar or something else intended to please the strangers.

If you can identify who Wi-nah-kis, Pa-me-sa and Wa-bud-o were, or have a more accurate way to spell their names in Ojibwe, please let us know.

Later on when they came to see the product of our little field their expressions of delight were extravagant in the extreme.  They had never seen such potatoes, turnips, corn, squashes, etc.  They were always ready and willing to help in planting, hoeing and harvesting.  They were always well paid for their work and always well pleased with their pay.  The names of these three friends were Wi-nah-kis, Pa-me-sa and Wa-bud-o.  There were others equally friendly, honest and deserving; in fact, the great majority of the Chippewa were comparatively so.  Of course there were some “dark sheep” some in fact quite black.  These, when detected, were given a “cold shoulder” or a hot reception, as the occasion seem to require, but cases of the last named were quite rare.  But that generation has passed away; few, very few, I knew on Bad River survives, and as for the present generation, alas! they are becoming civilized.

To be continued in At the Falls of Bad River #2

By Amorin Mello

This is a reproduction of a memoir published by Ervin Barnes Leihy, who became known as Nigigoons (Little Otter) by the Chippewas of Bad River.  Leihy is emerging as of the more colorful characters from the post-1842 Treaty of La Pointe era in Chequamegon History, when he was one of the first non-natives to settle on the newly Ceded Territory surrounding La Pointe.  Leihy moved to the Falls of Bad River in 1846 where he built his sawmill.  After the 1854 Treaty, Leihy became associated with the Early Settlement of the Bad River Indian Reservation.  During the post-1860’s era, Leihy moved to Bayfield where he became a successful business person.  Leihy’s general store and brownstone house are still prominent buildings in Bayfield today.


Details of settlements on the La Pointe Reservation from Charles Whittlesey's 1860 Geological Map of the Penokie Range.

Details of Ervin Leihy’s sawmill on the La Pointe Reservation from Charles Whittlesey‘s 1860 Geological Map of the Penokie Range from Geology of Wisconsin: Volume III, plate XX-214.  Also shown are the Opinike (or Potatoe) River Property, Ironton, and McEwen’s Sawmill.


Bayfield County Press

March 31, 1900

[Transcribed and shared by Robert J. Nelson, 2016]

Incidents of Early Days on Lake Superior

At the Falls of Bad River

By Ervin Leihy


“Bayfield, Wis., June 3 [1901].
Ervin Leihy, one of the first white settlers to come to the northern part of Wisconsin died at his home in this city last week. He was born in Oswego county, N. Y., October 12, 1822. His early life was passed on a farm and at 18 moved to Illinois. Later he bought a farm at Bad River, Ashland county, and in 1846 moved onto it. In 1870 he moved to Bayfield, built his present home and opened a general store which he conducted for a number of years. While living at Bad River he was a member of the town and county boards of Ashland county for a number of years and in 1871 and 1872 was a member of the town board of Bayfield. Besides these he held numerous other offices. He was a public-spirited man, had plenty of means and was always ready to assist in anything that would tend to advance the interests of the town in which he resided.”
Wisconsin Weekly Advocate, June 6, 1901.

Next day our arrival at the Falls (October 5, 1846) was spent in looking over the surroundings.  The murmur of the stream, the stream itself and the surrounding scenery, reminded me of the scenes of my earliest recollections on the banks of the Salmon River, Oswego County, New York.  Here to his game in the forest, fish and the stream and sugar in the trees; and the soil is good.

Potatoes are worth one dollar per bushel and corn two dollars per bushel.  Those were my musings as I sat on a big rock at the head of the falls.  Here were many of the necessaries and some of the luxuries of life and all for the taking and no taxes to pay – all as free as air.

Captain Joseph Wood is reportedly the only person wounded during the 1835 Toledo War over the state boundary between Michigan and Ohio.

To say that I was delighted would be putting it mildly.  I asked the captain what were his plans.  He had none; he simply liked to live in the woods.  Here, let me digress.  Captain Wood was a man about 53 years old, had gained perhaps earned the prefix to his name during what was termed the “Toledo War,” early a squabble between the states of Ohio and Michigan for jurisdiction over a strip of land in which Toledo was the principal town.  Wood being deputy sheriff of Monroe County at that time was put in command of a company of Michigan troops to help all the claims of the state of Michigan.  Withal, a genial and agreeable companion.  Not much time was lost.

Detail of Bad River Falls omitted from Barber's second survey of 1856.

Detail of Leihy’s sawmill and Bad River Falls omitted from the Barber brothers’ survey of the La Pointe (Bad River) Reservation.

I have soon acquired a half interest in the “Hermitage” which consisted of a long, hut about 14 feet square, a fireplace in one corner, and covered with shakes; nearly an acre of cleared land, 20 or 30 bushels of potatoes and perhaps as many more of rutabaga; a couple of axes and a hoe or two.

Brother George had gone with his boat and men.  I began to talk to Capt. Wood about LaPointe of which I heard so much.  He finally said, “perhaps you would like to go there?”   I told him I certainly would.

Charles William Wulff Borup and Charles Henry Oakes married into the powerful Beaulieu Family of Ojibwe mixed-bloods traders.
In addition to their fur trade, the American Fur Company began prospecting for copper in 1845.

Well, we found our way to LaPointe, and an interesting place.  It certainly was.  Here the North American fur company was in full bloom, under the efficient management of Messrs. Borup and Oakes.  The traders, had already left with their outfits for their various stations at Lac du Flambeau, Lake Courerille, Sandy Lake, Leech Lake, Grand Portage and other points, not to return until May or June when they were expected to return laden with bear, beaver, otter, Fischer, Martin, mink and other valuable fur.

Reverend Sherman Hall ~ Madeline Island Museum

Reverend Sherman Hall
~ Madeline Island Museum

Here to was established a Catholic mission under the care of father Baraga; also a Presbyterian mission in under the care of Rev. Sherman Hall, and all in flourishing condition.
Fishing was also carried on to a considerable extent among the islands by the Fur company.  The side-wheeler Julia Palmer, have been hauled over the portage at the Soo and had just made one trip as far West as LaPointe.  The rest of the fleet on Lake Superior consisted of five small sail vessels, viz. the Merchant, Swallow, Algonquin, Fur Trader and the Chippewa.

James P. Hays was assigned to the La Pointe Indian sub-Agency in 1844.

A Mr. Hays was subbing in agent and Mr. Van Tassel was the government blacksmith at that time at LaPointe.

We stayed but a few days, procured a few necessary tools, some supplies for the winter and return to the Falls.

There were now [four] in camp.  Captain Joseph Wood, Charlie Rowley, John Smith and myself.  Wood, Smith and I went to work on the second house built in what is now Ashland County outside of LaPointe.

To be continued…

By Amorin Mello

This is the second installment of the Memoirs of Doodooshaboo series on Chequamegon History, as transcribed by us from the original handwritten memoir of Joseph Austrian at the Chicago History Museum.  This installment covers Joseph Austrian’s migration from Bavaria to New York City.  Later installments describe Joseph Austrian’s experience with his Leopold and Austrian relations on Chequamegon Bay during 1851-1852 (Part 1 and Part 2).

Memoirs of Doodooshaboo

… continued from Bavaria 1833-1847.


Left Wittelshofen.  1848.

Feuchtwangen is a city in Ansbach district in the administrative region of Middle Franconia in Bavaria, Germany.”
~ Wikipedia.org
Uncle Samuel N. Guttman lived with his children Henry and Babette in Feutchwangen.  Henry and Babette immigrated with their Austrian cousins to the Keweenaw Peninsula and Chicago in later years.  Nathan Freudenthal Leopold Jr. (grandson of Babette Guttman and Samuel Freudenthal Leopold) was the subject of worldwide scandal due to his role in the Leopold-Loeb Murder of Bobby Franks.

I went to Feuchtwang, to my uncle’s home, making myself useful in the fields about the house and barn and otherwise. He was an intelligent man, self educated and well read, a fine gentlemanly person, but penurious. My coming in contact with him was beneficial as I spent my evenings with him in his study and profitted by his large knowledge of things. My aunt was very kind and treated me as one of her own family, after having been there for one and a half years, and finding there was no further improvements to be gained, in accordance with the suggestions of my brother Julius and brother-in-law Lewis F. Leopold, who had gone to America some four years before, it was finally decided that I with my sister Ida should emigrate to America.

Mr. L. F. Leopold had a fishing and trading business at Mackinaw, my brother Julius was located at La Pointe on Madelaine Island, one of the Apostle group of islands in Lake Superior, northern Wisconsin, where he was engaged in the fur trading and had a general store, and traded with the Indians and half breeds buying fur from them.


Emigrated to America.  1850.

Frankfurt  is a metropolis and the largest city in the German state of Hesse and the fifth-largest city in Germany…”
~ Wikipedia.org
Uncle Heinrich Heule and wealthy cousin Frau Richa Schuster lived in the Jewish community of Frankfurt.
Würzburg is a city in the region of Franconia, northern Bavaria, Germany.”
~ Wikipedia.org

On October 4, 1850, at 4 o’clock in the morning, my sister Ida and I started for America. It was a cheerless raw morning, and with heavy hearts we set out in a private conveyance, via Feuchtwang to Wurzburg, where we arrived that evening and put up at the Wittelsbacher [Hof?]. The following morning we started on a little steam boat on the River Main, for Frankfurt, via Ashaffenburg, where we arrived that evening, leaving for Frankfurt the next morning, arriving there in the afternoon, and were met at the landing by our Uncle Heinrich Heule, who received us most cordially and invited us to his home, where we remained two days. We dined the 2nd day with his daughter, our wealthy cousin, Frau Richa Schuster, who gave a fine dinner in our honor.

Mainz is the capital and largest city of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate in Germany.”
~ Wikipedia.org
Le Havre is an urban French commune and city in the Seine-Maritime department in the Normandy region of northwestern France. It is situated on the right bank of the estuary of the river Seine on the Channel southwest of the Pays de Caux.”
~ Wikipedia.org

From Frankfurt we went to Mainz, to which place our baggage had been forwarded ahead of us. The following morning we started on a Rhine steamer for Rotterdam, thus taking in the entire Rhine trip which we enjoyed immensely, we remained in Rotterdam two days, when we crossed the North Sea on rather a poor small steamer for Havre, France. In crossing we encountered a terrific storm during the night, the waves swept over the decks of the steamer causing the water to rush into the cabin where we were sleeping, and we had our first and most severe experience of home sickness. On our arrival at Havre we looked woe begone, and some of our baggage was almost ruined. The ship on which we were to sail was a large three masted “square rigged” sail vessel, “Robert Kelley”, Captain Barstow. On looking her up, I found she would not leave for five days to come, as she had not yet finished loading her cargo. In the meantime we were comfortably located in a boarding house where we made further preparations for our Ocean Voyage. Oct 20 we sailed from Havre taking 2nd cabin passage which was near the captain’s quarters. There were seven persons besides ourselves occupying our cabin. The ship did not furnish food for the passengers, but provided facilities for them to do their own cooking in a limited way. There were some rows of a certain kind of cooking stoves which were heated by an employee of the ship, the places were divided into a number of spaces so arranged, that kettles could hang in them. Each space was allocated to certain parties during the trip, but there were many more passengers than spaces, and it was not seldom that a fight was occasioned by one or the other party claiming the privilege of priority. In fact when a person turned his back for a few moments, while engaged in preparing food, someone would take off his kettle substituting his own. On certain person finding himself thus dispossessed grew furious and hurled his kettle contents and all on him who had played him this trick. The mate happened to come along, and made the one who had thrown the kettle, take off his coat, and with it wipe up the floor clean, threatening to lock up anyone who would do any thing of this kind again.

Before leaving home my mother had provided us with food such as could be easily prepared, such as roasted [four?], prunes, [gruieback?], dried beef, smoked tongue, &c. During the trip, two others of our party besides myself alternately attended to the cooking, and we got along as well as could be expected. On the voyage we had generally heavy winds and a rough sea, but fortunately the winds came mostly from the direction favorable to our sailing, consequently we made good headway.

Our Captain was a very capable navigator and very strict in his discipline. Among our passengers were two close friends, “frenchmen,” who often indulged to freely in French wine, quarreled, one stabbed the other but not seriously. After the Captain investigated the matter, the offender was hand cuffed. When it was rough the poor fellow tossed about mercilessly, when his injured companion took pity on him, and at such times would remain with him, leading him by the arm to protect him and to keep him from falling.

Besides the second class passengers there were about two hundred steerage passengers, below. One of these men “a monk” jumped overboard one day, the Capt. happened to see it, and gave orders to have the ship quickly turned about. A life buoy thrown by the Captain to the man struggling in the water, was grasped by him and six sailors in a life boat put out to rescue and managed to save him just in time. The monk was brought back to the vessel more dead than alive, the ship’s doctor worked until he revived him. On being questioned he said, he jumped over board owing to the terrible unpleasant surroundings in Steerage. The Capt. then told him that he would not again risk the lives of his sailors, should he jump in again, but there was no need of it, as he did not make another attempt.

On November 20th, we sighted land during the afternoon, and in compliance with a signed “wanting to be towed”, a tug came along side of our ship the next morning, throwing us a tow line, and we expected to reach New York the following morning. But we were doomed to disappointment, a large head wind sprang up and the tug could make no headway, and after a few hours of futile struggle, the tug gave up the attempt to tow us and cast off our line, and our ship was compelled to turn back to sea to avoid danger of the coast. But the next morning two tugs came on and took our ship in tow, and the wind having subsided, made good headway.

Presently a little schooner came along side our ship, and parties aboard began bartering with the passengers to buy their bedding, for which they might have no further use, I gladly sold mine.


Arrived in New York.  1850.

Castle Gardens did not operate as an Immigration Station until the years 1855-1890. ~ Castle Clinton National Monument

Castle Gardens was still an entertainment center in 1850, and did not operate as an Immigration Station until the years 1855-1890.
~ Castle Clinton National Monument

We landed at Castle garden about noon November 21st, our trip over, having lasted about a month. Under the inspection of the Custom House Officers the luggage was unloaded, by sliding the same down a steep plank, and in watching this performance to my great consternation, I saw one of my big chests burst open and contents scattered, giving me an endless amount of trouble to get all repacked. The chest contained an outfit of linens and feather beds our mother had given us for our future use.


Joseph and his sister Ida arrived at New York City via the Robert Kelley on November 21st, 1850.
~ “New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1891,” image 560 of 869; citing NARA microfilm publication M237 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

Joseph Austrian (Oestreicher) and his sister Ida. ~ "New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1891," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:939V-5GDD-X?cc=1849782&wc=MX62-DMW%3A165759201 : 21 May 2014), > image 565 of 869; citing NARA microfilm publication M237 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

Joseph Austrian (Oestreicher) and his sister Ida on the passengers list.

Uncle Max Heule and his wife likely lived in Kleindeutschland.  This is the Lower East Side or East Village of Manhattan in New York City.

On landing, an Uncle of ours, Mr. Heule, an old gentleman about 70 years old, met us on the pier, and it seemed good to see some one who knew us. My Uncle and sister went for a short walk leaving me to look after the baggage, expecting to return in a little while for me, but the afternoon passed, and night came on without their returning. Most all of the passengers had left the pier and I was left alone on my first night in America. Some of the sailors feeling they had been abused by the mate on the voyage over, and made up their minds to get even with him, and on the upper deck that evening, together they attacked him, beating him till they nearly killed him. The noise and excitement the tummult occasioned, did not have a cheering effect upon me, however, when things quieted, I went up on deck and stayed there till after midnight watching the ferries cross and re-cross, which was a novel sight I enjoyed. By this time I despaired of seeing or hearing from my uncle or sister that night, and although worried I sought to get some rest, there was no bed for me and I laid on the hard wood floor that night, and had not a morsel of food to eat. I could not speak a word of English, and altogether, I felt rather forlorn, on this my first night in America. Finally next morning they came to look for me & simply explained that they had wandered too far and Uncle thought it too late to come back for me, and had gone on to his home. I accompanied them back, on our way a vender of notions with his basket on his arm happened to pass me, my Uncle turned to me remarking that I would have to begin with something of this kind to earn my living; it was not an encouraging prospect, and I said nothing, but I little thought then how soon his words would come to pass.

I visited at my Uncle Max Heule’s two days and then decided to start for my intended destination, Mackinaw Island.

To be continued at Mackinac 1850-1851

By Amorin Mello

This is the first installment of the Memoirs of Doodooshaboo series on Chequamegon History, as transcribed by us from the original handwritten memoir of Joseph Austrian at the Chicago History Museum.  This installment contains rare details about a Jewish community in Bavaria before other records were destroyed by Nazi Germany in later years.  Later installments describe Joseph Austrian’s experience with his Leopold and Austrian relations on Chequamegon Bay during 1851-1852 (Part 1 and Part 2).

Joseph Austrian’s
Autobiographical and Historical Sketches.

Dedicated to
My Wife and Members of my Family.


My Childhood Days. 1833.

Wittelshofen is a municipality in the district of Ansbach in Bavaria in Germany.”

I was born September 15, 1833, in a small village called Wittelshofen (Mittel Franken, Bavaria), located at the foot of the Hesselberg, a mountain 1800 ft. high, and at the junction of two little rivers Wörnitz and Sulzach near Dinkelsbuehl, where the judiciary district court is located.

Hesselberg (689 m above sea level) is the highest point in Middle Franconia and the Franconian Jura and is situated 60 km south west of Nuremberg, Germany.”

On the top of the said mountain, every year in June a fair, called “Hesselberger Messe,” was held which was the great attraction for all the people of the several villages located around the foot of the mountain.  To this it was customary to invite friends and relatives from far off places to attend, and it was generally very enjoyable barring the climb it meant to get up there, as it was too steep for vehicles to drive up there excepting from one direction where the road up was more gradual and which was used for the transportation of things for the fair.  Besides the many places where beer was sold and where the rural population had dances, and other amusements there was generally a circus and other shows there.  The view from the top of the mountain in clear weather was very fine and interesting.  I always looked forward impatiently to the time when this fair took place, and soon as I was old enough to take this long steep walk, I availed myself of the opportunity which I greatly enjoyed.


First Jewish presence: 17th century; peak Jewish population: 282 in 1809/10 (40.1% of the total population); Jewish population in 1933: 17″

~ Destroyed German Synagogues and Communities

The village of Wittelshofen had about 500 inhabitants of which about half consisted of Jews and the other half Protestants.

My father’s house was one of the largest and best in the place and stood opposite an old small castle, the grounds of which were surrounded by a stone wall about 10 feet high.  Our home was on a lane called “Schmalz-gasse” which in wet weather was very muddy.

Reb is a Yiddish title for Orthodox Jewish men.  Frohen is a German word for “happy”.

My father’s name was Abraham Isaac Oestreicher (Austrian), he was born in Wittelshofen and died there Sept 17, 1852 of apoplexy at the age of 75 yrs.  He was an only son and his father gave him what educational advantages could then be obtained and principally in “Hebrew” which gained for him the name title of “Reb” and he was known by the Jewish village people as “Reb Frohen”.  He had a large library of Hebrew books, they were of unusual size and some nearly a hundred years old.

Secondary sources about the 1855 Yom Kippur at La Pointe suggest that the Austrian family practiced Reform Judaism in later years.

My father was brought up strictly in the observance of the Jewish faith and adhered to its orthodox teachings very strongly.  He was an easy going man and known by all for his honest and upright character.  He dealt in live stock and had some good farm lands located around the outskirts of the place.

Malka is a Yiddish name that means “queen”.
“Here too, formerly a number of monuments were standing, which cost a great deal of money and at the same time furnishes further proof of the corruption of names. On one appeared the name of Falk Austrian, whilst along side of it stood an older tomb-stone for which the good German name of Oesterreicher had evidently been still considered good enough; the inscription there read:Malla, wife of Abraham Oesterreicher.”
~ Chicago, the Garden City. Its magnificent parks, boulevards and cemeteries. Together with other descriptive views and sketches by Andreas Simon, 1894, pg. 147

My mother’s name was Malka nee Heule, whose parents were considered wealthy, her father, [Hyrun?] Heule was known and respected all around for his charitable deeds, especially for what he did during the famine, caused by the crop failure in 1825, when he sent big wagon loads of flour and other suplies to the famine stricken district to feed the needy, thereby saving many from starvation.

My mother was an intelligent and determined woman, and took sole charge of the house hold and education of the children. She was born in Braunsback, Wurtenberg. She died at the age of 87 yrs in Chicago, Aug 6th, 1882.

Fürth (Yiddish: פיורדא‎, Fiurda) is a city located in northern Bavaria, Germany, in the administrative division of Middle Franconia. It is now contiguous with the larger city of Nuremberg, the centres of the two cities being only 7 km apart.”
~ Wikipedia.org

My father had three children by his first wife and ten by my mother, the eldest died when a baby the others were Falk, Marx, Julius, Babette, Ida, Fanny, Joseph, Minna, & Solomon. The latter being the youngest was my father’s pet. Falk, my oldest brother, was sent to a neighboring city for higher education, which afterwards secured for him a position as a clerk and traveling agent in the business of Wedels in Furth, a brother-in-law of my mother, where he earned a good salary.

Julius’ uncle Samuel N. Guttman lived with his children Henry and Babette in Feutchwangen.
Leather tanning and crafting is an ancient Jewish industry and trade.

My next brother Julius, was sent to Feuchtwangen to learn the tanning trade and afterwards travelled afoot for a couple of years or more working in a number of other cities at his trade, as it was there customary to perfect themselves in the trade, and later going clear to Paris, France, before returning home, a short time afterwards he emigrated to America to join our brother-in-law Lewis F. Leopold, who had located in business at Mackinaw, with branches in Wisconsin.


Julius Austrian (Oestreicher) immigrated with his sister Babette (wife of Louis Freudenthal Leopold) and brother-in-law Henry Freudenthal Leopold.
~ “New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1891,” image 19 of 895; NARA microfilm publication M237 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

No other primary sources about brother Falk in America have been found yet.

My brother Falk went to California in 1846 via Panama.  At six years of age I entered school. I remember well when my mother took me on the first day to school and had me give the teacher a package of smoking tobacco. I went to the public school in the morning, the teacher had little education, his father was the village tailor; the son being versed in the three “R’s” his father secured the position of teacher for him. In the afternoon I went to the Hebrew school. Mr. Mandel was the teacher there, he had received his education in a Seminary he was very strict and high tempered, the children all feared him, as occasionally he afflicted corporal punishment. Besides this I had private lessons in history and geography.

At the age of thirteen I had to start to assist working in the field, in harvesting and hay making. I also had to plow when I was barely strong enough to handle the plough, I had to hook the handles over my shoulders to manage to get to the next furrow. I had to arise during some of the winter months at 4 o’clock in the morning, and assist in the threshing while it lasted, and I got thrashed sometimes too, when I did not keep time. My greatest sport was fishing, for which purpose I made my own pole and I often walked off to the river, when my folks thought I was busily employed. The fish I caught were mostly perch. I remember I once caught several and fastened one to a string fastened to a stake in the ground, suddenly a severe thunder storm came up, at which I made hurridly for home, forgetting the little perch I had left behind. I started bright and early the next morning to get it, and to my great surprise on pulling the string I hauled up a big pike instead of the little perch, which had evidently swallowed the latter tied to the stake and thus was caught. The joy of my good luck was indescribable.

Another sport I was very fond of was shooting off pistols. My brother Marx had one in an old cupboard drawer, which I managed to get hold of one day and when none of the family were about I with a few of my boy friends ran off to the fields, where we had such fun taking turns in shooting, and when we had no more powder we snapped off percussion caps. When a pistol was not available I constructed an improvised pistol of my own design, by attaching a big old hollow key to a natural crook of wood, which I selected in the wood shed and to which I fastened it with wire. After filing a hole on the side of the key, under which I attached a piece of tin to hold the powder. When i was ready to shoot, I laid a little flat sponge on the tin, lighting the outer edge, which acted as a fuse, and as it burned toward the powder ignited it causing it to go off and making a loud report. Not trusting the old key entirely, however, fearing it might explode, I went to a safe distance after lighting the fuse.

"Sitting in front of the synagogue in Wittelshofen." ~ US Holocaust Memorial Museum, 25821.

Outside the synagogue in Wittelshofen, Bavaria, Germany. Circa 1912-1938.
~ United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, photograph # 25821.

“The Jewish community of Wittelshofen inaugurated a synagogue on Postweg in 1843. (Records suggest that a synagogue existed in Wittelshofen before 1804.)”
“Wittelshofen was declared ‘Judenfrei’ (‘free of Jews’) in January 1939.”
“The synagogue building was demolished during the winter of 1938/39.”
“A memorial stone was later unveiled there.”
~ Destroyed German Synagogues and Communities

In 1840, at the grand celebration of the new synagogue, my parents entertained with an invitation on a large scale. My mother had arranged for a special cook to prepare a grand feast. I and the younger children were excluded. I did not fancy being barred from participating. In strolling through the pantry I espied an elaborately decorated tart, chief ornament to grace the table. While the cook was otherwise engaged at the last moment, I managed to eat off the ornaments and decorations. Never will I forget the excitement and consternation the discovery of my act caused. Could hands have been laid on me then, I would have been severely dealt with.

Uncle Samuel N. Guttman’s children Henry and Babette immigrated with their Austrian cousins to the Keweenaw Peninsula and Chicago in later years.  Nathan Freudenthal Leopold Jr. (grandson of Babette Guttman and Samuel Freudenthal Leopold) was the subject of worldwide scandal due to his role in the Leopold-Loeb Murder of Bobby Franks.

In my fourteenth year, my mother began planning as to my future. The income of the fields, and the cattle business had declined, and considering the large family and household to be provided for did not permit of incurring much expense for my higher education, and my father advanced age made it impossible for him to enlarge his income. My mother was anxious to get me away from Wittleshofen, as she could see no promise in the future there for me. At this time, an opporunity was offered through my uncle Samuel N. Guttman and accepted.

To be continued in Manhattan 1848-1850