Incidents of Early Days on Lake Superior

by Ervin Leihy


[First Memoir]

[Has not been found yet.]

At the Falls of Bad River

“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.”

Our First Visitor

“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.”

At the Falls of Bad River # 2

“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.”

Supplemental information

Early Settlement of the Bad River Reservation

“Several years before the final treaty was signed by the Chippewas of Lake Superior, a strange gentleman appeared in the Indian country: He was a white man and became very well acquainted with some of the Indians His name was Ervin Leihy, but the Indians called him Neg-gi-goons (a young otter).”

First Sawmills on the Bad River Reservation

“The first sawmill on the Bad River Reservation was operated by a Mr. Leihy at the rapids of Bad River, which is approximately fifteen miles from the village of Odanah. The power was furnished by a paddle-wheel which was propelled by the force of the stream. The saw was of the old vertical style. With these rude methods, the sawing of six to ten logs into lumber was considered a good daily average. Mr. Leihy was known to the Indians as ‘Nig-gig-goons’ or ‘Little Otter’. He married a woman of Indian blood, and he apparently enjoyed great favor among the Indians of this region.”

Memoirs of Doodooshaboo: Joseph Austrian’s Time at La Pointe 1851-1852 (Pt. 2)

“I returned to the Island and the next morning I started for the meadow fields in a birch bark canoe with a Mr. Lehigh who had a little saw mill about five miles up Bad River.  We were obliged to sit in the bottom of the little boat in a most uncomfortable and cramped position, having been warned by the boatman in charge not to move as the least motion is apt to cause the frail craft to capsize.  On arrival at the meadow I found the men busily at work.  They were about to take dinner and I gladly consented to join them, and being hungry relished the spread of fried pork, crackers, and tea.  My companion Mr. Lehigh was bound for his little saw mill up the river where he lived, and I having business to attend to there started with him on a foot trail through the woods.”

Asaph Whittlesey Incidents: Number III

“The third and only remaining cabin built upon the ‘town site’ during 1854 was 20×30, built upon lot 6 and block 6, and is in a remarkable state of preservation to this day, except that the ‘stoop’ in front and ‘room back’ for a kitchen with the mud oven opening into it are wanting.  So many and important were the events intimately associated with the history of this house, that a somewhat extended notice thereof seems unavoidable.  The logs of which it was built were cut by my hands and with only the help of a yoke of oxen, (driven through the woods from Odanah.)”

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