By Amorin Mello

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

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

INDIAN RECORDS.

Kundickan autobiography

Autobiography of Okandikan

Autobiography of Kundickan, a Chippeway Indian.

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

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

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

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

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

picto2

2

picto1

1

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

picto4

4

picto3

3

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

picto5

5

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

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

By Amorin Mello

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

 


 

The National Record and Industrial Record

TWO MONTHS IN THE COPPER REGION.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

George Catlin Indian Gallery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gros Cap Conservation Area
Tahquamenon Falls State Park

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

Ile Parisienne Conservation Reserve

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

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

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

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

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

Two Hearted River

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

William Smith vs. Earl of Selkirk
False Imprisonment

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

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

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

Grand Island National Recreation Area

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

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

whittlesey geological section pictured rocks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Father René Ménard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Harris Kinzie ~ Wikipedia.org

John Harris Kinzie
~ Wikipedia.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Boston Mining Company”
~ Copper Country Reflections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

William Austin Burt ~ Wikipedia.org

Judge William Austin Burt
~ Wikipedia.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Amorin Mello

A curious series of correspondences from Morgan

… continued from Copper Harbor Redux.

 


 

1845 daily union header

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

August 29, 1845.

EDITOR’S CORRESPONDENCE.

[From our regular correspondent.]

ST. LOUIS, Mo.  Aug. 19, 1845.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Father Antoine "Louis" Hennepin ~ Wikipedia.org

Father Antoine “Louis” Hennepin
~ Wikipedia.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who were these plagiarizers?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

MORGAN.

 


 

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

The End.

By Amorin Mello

A curious series of correspondences from Morgan

… continued from To The Far West.

 


 

1845 daily union header

The Daily Union (Washington D.C.)
“Liberty, The Union, And The Constitution.”
July 7, 1845.

MADISON, (W.T.,) June 26, 1845.

To the Editor of the Union:

SIR: Our democratic territorial convention has this day nominated the Hon. Morgan L. Martin, of the county of Brown, as the candidate for the delegacy, to succeed Governor Dodge.  Mr. Martin is one of our ablest and most reliable democrats, and there is but little doubt of his election by a triumphant majority.  Mr. Martin has been fourteen years in the upper branch of our territorial legislature, and has been the presiding officer of that body at four sessions.  The democrats of the Territory will go into the canvass in the best possible spirits, and with the fullest confidence of success; for they are well united, and have a candidate worthy of the cause and their most zealous support.

Henry Dodge ~ Wikipedia.org

Henry Dodge
~ Wikipedia.org

More than twice the number of immigrants are arriving here daily, this season, than have ever come at any previous season.  The administration of Governor Dodge is very popular with all parties, and so are the measures of the national administration, and particularly its course on those two great questions – the annexation of Texas, and the maintenance of our rights to Oregon.

The convention was very fully attended; and, although there was some division when it assembled, as to who the nominee should be, the members left here in the best possible spirits.  In haste.

Yours, truly,

J. A. N.

 


 

1845 daily union header

The Daily Union (Washington D.C.)
“Liberty, The Union, And The Constitution.”
July 8, 1845.

[From our regular correspondent.]

MACKINAC, June 29, 1845.

This small town stands on a narrow slip of land sloping from the foot of elevated bluff hills in the rear, to the water.  The second and highest elevation is about three-quarters of a mile in the rear of the town, and is three hundred feet above the level of the lake or straits, and nine hundred feet above the level of the ocean.  The site of the town winds in a crescent form around a small harbor, indented in the southeastern part of the island.

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

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

The old Fort Mackinac stood on an extreme northern point, putting out into the strait from the southern main land, some 10 or 15 miles to the southward of this place.  It was first settled upon as a French missionary station, and a fort erected.  When Carver visited it in 1756-’57, the fort was garrisoned by the English, who came into possession of it with the conquest of Canada, a few years before.  It then contained 30 houses, and had one hundred men in garrison, besides a government-house, &c.  In 1763, the various northwestern tribes of Indians who had long known the French as the first Europeans they had ever formed friendly intercourse with, became highly dissatisfied with the change from French to English rule.  A powerful league was, therefore, formed between the Ottowas, Chippewas, the Hurons, Menomonees, &c.; and the celebrated Pontiac was their leader, who bore a deadly hostility to the English.

"No authentic images of Pontiac [also known as Obwandiyag] are known to exist. This interpretation was painted by John Mix Stanley." ~ Wikipedia.org

“No authentic images of Pontiac [also known as Obwandiyag] are known to exist. This interpretation was painted by John Mix Stanley.”
~ Wikipedia.org

He approached the old Fort Mackinac, followed by a large force, and, at first, with apparently friendly feelings.  he and his followers commenced a [ba??] play in front of the fort.  The English, supposing all was right, ventured out of the fort to see the play; when Pontiac and his men made a sudden run upon the fort, and succeeded in capturing it.  The lives of the English were spared; but they were carried off as prisoners, and afterwards ransomed at Montreal at heavy prices.

After peace was made with Pontiac, the fort came again into the occupancy of the English, who transferred it to us, under the treaty of peace, at the close of the revolutionary war.  When the late war broke out, the British took both old Fort Mackinac and the fort at this town, and held them up to the treaty of Ghent; and if war were to begin soon, they would inevitably fall into their hands again, owing to our neglect to fortify them in a proper manner.  The old site we have abandoned, and erected a small and well-built fort on the hill, just in the rear of the town, on the island, which is about one hundred and fifty feet high above the level of the lake, or strait.  About three-quarters of a mile behind the fort, there is a high hill – the highest on the island – with its steep face looking towards the fort and harbor, while its eastern and northern section extends over a narrow plateau, or level, which could be completely raked by guns stationed on the walls of a fort, which should, by all means, be erected near the brow of the hill.  This high point of land overlooks and completely commands the fort our troops (two companies) at present occupy.

"Major Charles Gratiot visited Mackinac Island in 1817, using his trained engineer’s eye to carefully record the design of Fort Holmes in these detailed plans. The fort’s blockhouse, walls, and gun platforms are clearly visible on Gratiot’s drawings" ~ Mackinac State Historic Parks

“Major Charles Gratiot visited Mackinac Island in 1817, using his trained engineer’s eye to carefully record the design of Fort Holmes in these detailed plans. The fort’s blockhouse, walls, and gun platforms are clearly visible on Gratiot’s drawings”
~ Mackinac State Historic Parks

The first news the people heard of the declaration of war in 1812 in Mackinac, was the appearance of a large body of English and Indians on the high hill, who commanded the surrender of the fort, then garrisoned by some fifty or sixty men which was complied with.  The English entrenched this high ground, planted some batteries on its ramparts, and named it “Fort Holmes,” which it still bears.

This point is the main key to those important straits which connect two of the great lakes.  It is now just in the state of ruins in which the British left it in 1814-’15; and why our government have not strongly fortified it, seems inexplicable.  If this hill were strongly fortified, with armed outposts at some other points about the straits, the military defences of this place would be wholly impregnable – even stronger, if anything, than the rock of Gibraltar.  The position is a most important one and government should lose no time in putting it in a complete state of defence.

The only communication by water, between the two great lakes of Michigan and Huron, is directly in view of the heights of this harbor.

From the hill of Fort Holmes, there is  a most magnificent view.  The great sheets of water in the straits, with the islands, distant main-land, &c., are all in full view.  The approach of a steamer or vessel can be seen when from twelve to fifteen miles distant, in the eastern or western offing.

This post was first settled in 1764 – the year after the fall of old Mackinac.  In 1796 it was conveyed by the English to St. Clair.  It has long been a celebrated Indian trading-point, and is so yet; large numbers of whom constantly visit the place in the birch-bark canoes, encamping beneath bark wigwams (or shanties) on the stony beach along the shore.

1843 Drawing of Mission Point Beach at Mackinac Island, Michigan ~ ??

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

This is also a great point for catching lake trout, or salmon-trout, white fish, &c., which are salted down in barrels, and shipped to market, selling for about seven dollars per barrel, on average.  This business is in the hands of Indians, half-breed Indians, and French fishermen, who go out into the lakes in Mackinac boats, properly prepared with seines, hooks, &c.

Photograph of Arch Rock on Mackinac Island, by n8huckins, shared under Creative Commons license. ~ Wikipedia.org

Photograph of Arch Rock on Mackinac Island, by n8huckins, shared under Creative Commons.
~ Wikipedia.org

The island of Mackinac is about 9 miles in circumference, and contains several natural curiosities among which, is the Giant’s Arch, or Rock, about a mile northeast of the town.  It is 100 feet high – the natural arch having a span of 45 feet wide.

Nearer the centre of the island is Henry’s cave, at which, it is said, this traveller once saved his life from the fury of drunken Indians, by secreting himself in it.  It was then full of bones, which have since disappeared.

In the town of Mackinac, there are two small churches, the most ancient of which is a Catholic chapel, connected with a Catholic mission at the point.  The other is a small Protestant church, originally built in connexion with an extensive mission-house founded by the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions.  They have since changed the establishment to the shores of Lake Superior.  The mission-house is now occupied by Mr. Herrick, lately from Detroit, who has converted it into a large and commodious tavern, at which we are staying.  There is also another comfortable hotel in the place.

I know of no place on the continent that can make a more delightful summer residence than Mackinac.  The heat of the summer is scarcely felt here at all.  You can sleep under a blanket every night throughout the summer.

The drinking water is equal to, if not better than, any which ever gushed from the hill-sides of the Alleghany mountains.  The fish are abundant and delicious.  Large steamers running between Buffalo and Chicago pass twice daily, touching in each case.

The American Fur Company have an agent here.  The United States government have an Indian sub-agent, also resident at this place.

I went to a small Catholic church to-day, where I heard a short sermon in French.  The auditory consisted of French descendants, Indians, half-breeds, and some few Americans.

This island is called the county of Mackinac and Sate of Michigan.  I believe, in addition to a State court, the United States district judge occasionally holds a court here.

We leave to-morrow, on the steamboat General Scott, expected up to-night from Green bay, for the Sault de Ste. Marie – the place of rendezvous for persons bound up Lake Superior, on which then is no craft at present, except two or three schooners sailing up the lake from the Sault to Copper Harbor, &c.

When I arrive at the Sault (pronounced Soo) Ste. Marie, I will write you again.

I remain yours, very respectfully.

MORGAN.

 


 

1845 daily union header

The Daily Union (Washington D.C.)
“Liberty, The Union, And The Constitution.”
July 16, 1845.

EDITOR’S CORRESPONDENCE.

[From our regular correspondent.]

SAULT STE. MARIE,

Near Lake Superior, July 2, 1845.

We left Mackinaw yesterday, the 1st July, about a quarter-past eight , a.m.; our course for forty miles to the “detour” lying through the open and upper part of Lake Huron, which exposed our little boat to a very heavy rolling sea- the result of the previous day or two’s severe blow on the lakes.  Many of the passengers, as usual on such occasions, became severely sea-sick.  At half-past 12, p.m., we rounded into St. Mary’s river, where we had smoother water.

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

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

The river at first appeared very wide, with a low and sandy beach on each side, and a flat swampy country running back into the interior.  As we progressed, however, the stream grew more narrow, and again expanded into two smart lakes – the first called Great George, and the latter Little George’s lake.  Leaving these lakes, the river fifteen or twenty miles below the Sault again contracted, and turned about among high hills a little distance off, while its margin was skirted with low, falt, gravelly ground, covered with white cedar and other rather dwarfed forest trees.  These highlands showed steep hills or knobs of old red sandstone.

It was not long after passing the hills, before we hove in sight of the white and frothy rapids, at the foot of which stands the small village of the Sault, at the principal pier of which we landed – it being 60 miles from the lake.

The town exhibits a collection of wooden log-houses, roofed and weather-boarded with birch bark, gathered along the river at the foot of the falls, here and there showing small framed painted houses, one of which is an hotel, at present overflowing with people bound for the mineral lands of Lake Superior.

The Sault contains, besides the houses noticed, a small United States garrison; the slender wooden stockade defences of which, with officers’ quarters, are almost in a state of dilapidation.  There is also a small missionary station and school-house belonging to the Methodists, and a U. S. Indian agency.

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

A painting of an Ojibwa village near Sault Ste Marie; also by Paul Kane in 1845.
~ Wikipedia.org

There is a collector of the port on each side of the river, which is here about a mile wide, between us and Canada.  I imagine there is very little business to do by either functionary.  The American Fur Company have a station at the Sault.  The Hudson Bay Company have a factory, or station, on the opposite side of the river.  I paid a visit to the latter yesterday, having a note of introduction to a Mr. Blenden, their agent, whom I found busy in packing up for a voyage up the Canada side of Lake Superior.  He is bound on a tour among the posts towards Hudson’s Bay to the north.  Mr. B. received me very politely.  He informed me that he intended to carry his children with him, whom he expected to send in the care of friends across to Hudson’s Bay, where they would embark on one of the company’s ships for London, and be from thence conveyed to Edinburgh, to be placed at school.  He told me Sir George Simpson, the governor of the company, had passed up the lake not long since, accompanied by his boats, &c.  he was bound for the valley of the Red river of the North, where he expected to meet a kind of convention of the authorities of the company’s territories in that quarter – among whom would be the representatives of Selkirk’s colony, the population of which is about 5,000.  They produce more grain, &c., than they can find means of having conveyed to market: hence there is some emigration from their colony to the valley of the Mississippi, within the States.

John Ballenden was a Scottish fur trader for Hudson’s Bay Company.
William E Logan’s 1845 survey.

Mr. B. states that the Hudson Bay Company employ about seven ships in their trade – two or three of which, every summer, visit Hudson’s Bay; three double Cape Horn, and ascent the Columbia river; and one or two others are employed at other points.  He states that their charter gives them ample territorial jurisdiction over all the lands, mines, &c., on the high lands to the north and west of Lake Superior, but not over the lands immediately along the shore.  He states that a geologist, Dr. Logan, is engaged in surveying the country of Upper Canada, and is now employed between Lake Ontario and Lake Huron, or the inlet of the latter lake, called Lake Georgina Bay.  He is expected up this summer, to examine the northern shore of Lake Superior, which is supposed to be as rich in copper ore, at certain points, as the southern shore.

The two fur companies (American and Hudson Bay) are on the best possible understanding; which has a very favorable influence on the northwestern tribe of Indians.

In 1830, they mutually agreed to exclude all intoxicating drinks, in their traffic and intercourse, from them.  The Indians, in consequence of this wise and humane compact, are everywhere, within their bounds more inoffensive and peaceable.  It is just as safe, if not more so, to travel among them, than among the whites.  They have a considerable number of birch-bark lodges at the Sault, employing their time in catching fish at the foot of the falls, in their gill-nets.  They belong almost exclusively to the Chippewa tribe.  The Sault is the greatest place for catching fish I ever saw.  They can take ten times as many white fish, salmon-trout, brook-trout, bass, &c., as can be disposed of.  The Indians push their canoes up into the foam of the falls, cast forward their nets, and draw it as the current carries the boat down again.  Our staple article of food at the Sault is fresh fish.

The falls here, or rapids, have only a descent of about 18 to 21 feet in a mile; while the ground is very favorable to the construction of a ship-canal – the length of which need only be a mile.  On the Canada side, the length of the rapids is only about three-quarters of a mile long.  It is very likely, if our government refuses to construct a canal on our side, that the English may, ere long, make one on their side; which will be only three-quarters of a mile long.

"Hudson Bay Fort, Sault Ste. Marie. By J.S. Hallam." ~ Sault Ste. Marie Public Library

“Hudson Bay Fort, Sault Ste. Marie. By J.S. Hallam.”
~ Sault Ste. Marie Public Library

The fort at this place, in time of war, should be erected on a considerable hill, about three-quarters of a mile in the rear of the Sault, called Coal-pit hill; which commands a fine view of the falls, river, &c.

There are several schooners (say three or four) on Lake Superior, plying between the head of the falls and Lapointe, Copper Harbor, &c.  They have been drawn around the falls on rollers.  There is some talk of having a steamer carried around by the same means.  A fine new vessel is on the stocks at the head of the falls, which is about half done.  It will be launched about the 1st of August.  She is building by Newbury & Co.; to be rigged as a fore-and-aft schooner.

At the Sault, a Catholic station was founded from one to two centuries ago, being fixed upon as a missionary station.  next to Quebec and Montreal, it is said to be the oldest point settled upon by Europeans in Canada.  It has always been an important point for the Indian trade.  Here goods are carried round the falls, and sent up Lake Superior to be distributed to various Indian trading-posts, far in the northwestern region of the continent.

The early Catholic Jesuits, or priests, who first explored the far distant, cold, and deary regions bordering the shores and streams of the upper lakes, must have been animated with a deal of perseverance, and influenced by the dictates (to them) of an all-powerful religion.  They at every prominent point throughout this vast country erected the cross among the savage tribes, and impressed their minds with the solemn and imposing ceremonies of the religion they professed.  Their success among the savage tribes of North America has never been surpassed, if equalled, by more modern and persevering denominations.  They acquired an influence over the Indians, which nearly a century of British and American domination has not been sufficeint to efface.  Even at this day, the frail wooden cross seen standing in the humble grave-yards of the Indians, sufficiently attests the remaining influence of the Catholic religion.  French and Indian have also intermarried more than the Anglo-Saxon and Indian.  The latter also more commonly speak French.  Indians never, in early times, fought Frenchmen.  Our earliest accounts of the vast interior western and northwester regions of this continent were derived from Catholic priests, such as Father Hennespin, &c.

Alexander Henry the Elder and Captain Jonathan Carver were featured in The Story of Chequamegon Bay.

The first Englishmen who explored the upper lakes after the fall of Canada, were Henry and Carver, between the years 1766 and 1775-’76.  Their works contain many interesting details relative to the country.

In alluding, in a former letter, to our loss of Hunters’ island by the treaty of Washington, I underrated its size.  It is greater in area than the vaunted Isle Royale; being about 50 miles long, instead of 40, and about 40 wide.

A gross error prevails with regard to Isle Royale.  It is supposed by some that we acquired it by the Lake Washington treaty, when it has always been ours, since the treaty of peace after the revolution.  We have, therefore, given away important territory on Pigeon river, without receiving any equivalent, that I know of.

We have been wind-bound at the Sault for two or three days, by reason of a strong northwester, blowing directly down the river.  It has been blowing about a half a gale on the upper lakes for nearly two months past; and, from all indications, the gale may last all summer.  The weather in this latitude 46 degrees 30 minutes) is very cold.  We have to wear thick woollens and sleep under blankets – it being difficult, on the 2d day of July, 1845, to keep warm at that!  The soil produces fine Irish potatoes – better than I have tasted anywhere else – some oats, barley, turnips, rye, and wheat, &c.  The soil is miserably bad, back in the interior.  The population depends chiefly upon fishing, for a support; which, to all appearance, is a never-failing resource.

From this point, I expect to coast the southern lake shore in an open boat, with five or six “voyageurs;” or send them on, and go up to Copper Harbor in the schooner Swallow.

I shall pass to where mail facilities cease, and where the reduction of postage affords no benefit; and it may be some days before you can get another letter from me.

For more information about Major Arthur Holmes, see chapter 3 of War 1812 by George S. May.

During the late war, the Americans, under command of Major Holmes, burnt down the Hudson Bay Company’s fur agency, or factor, on the opposite site of the river.

Almost the only tribe of Indians visiting or living about the Sault, belong to the Chippewa tribe – which, on the average, are good-locking Indians, and apparently comfortably clad, &c.  Many of the half-breeds are really beautiful; and, in regularity of features, figure, and size of hands and feet, would do credit to more civilized life.  They seem to me to be more industrious than more southern tribes of Indians among whom I have travelled, and far more inoffensive and civil to the whites.  Some of the men are exceedingly tall and fine-looking fellows.  I saw yesterday the son of a chief from the Canada side, who stood between six and seven feet high, and was as straight as an arrow.  He could not speak a syllable of English.  I saw him examining, with much attention, the new schooner building at the head of the falls.

The USS Michigan was launched in 1843, and later renamed as the USS Wolverine in 1905. ~ Wikipedia.org

The USS Michigan was launched in 1843, and later renamed as the USS Wolverine in 1905.
~ Wikipedia.org

The names of Indians are often very curious, and, in a measure, put at defiance the power of the English language to express them.  I saw a tall man of the Chippewas at Mackinac, as he stood gazing at the United States steamship Michigan.  Mr. Biddle, an old resident trader of the place, who spoke Chippewa, was standing near him.  he wished to know of Mr. Biddle what sort of a vessel she was; who explained to him that she belong to “his great father, the President, who, if necessary, would use it against his enemies.”  This Indian’s name, translated into English, was nothing less than “A Corpse,” or “A Dead Man” – an unusual name, I should think, even for an Indian!

The Indians always keep an abundant supply of dogs, which, about the Sault, seem uniformly to be a cross of the common cur with the wolf, and seem of little use, except to keep up an eternal barking at night about their bark lodges.  This is a remarkably fine climate for the Newfoundland dog, some fine specimens of which I have seen in the possession of the whites about the Sault.  At Mackinac, and other places in the northwest, the half-breeds especially make draught animals of dogs, in drawing water on trucks, and in performing other labor.

The dogs used by the Indians about Hudson’s Bay are said to be larger and more savage, and used to a greater extent as animals of labor.

The Chippewas, it is said, make no scruple of eating dogs, which they often esteem as a delicacy.  This, however, I cannot vouch for.

Yours, very respectfully,

MORGAN.

 


 

To be continued in Copper Harbor

By Amorin Mello

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

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

According to Wikipedia:

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

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

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

 


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

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

The Story Of Chequamegon Bay.

by the Editor.

Reuben Gold Thwaites ~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Reuben Gold Thwaites
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pierre-Esprit Radisson ~ National Archives of Canada

Pierre d’Esprit Sieur Radisson
~ Dictionary of Canadian Biography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Claude Allouez ~ National Park Service

Portrayal of Claude Allouez
~ National Park Service

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

Pere_Marquette

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1744 Belin isle de ronde

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

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

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

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

1769 twelve apostle islands jonathan carver

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

Alexander Henry , The Elder. ~ Wikipedia.com

Alexander Henry , The Elder.
~ Wikipedia.com

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

JohnJohnston

John Johnston
~ Homestead.org

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

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

Michel Cadotte ~ Findagrave.com

Michel Cadotte
~ Findagrave.com

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

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

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

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

1834 Map of LaPointe by Lyman Warren

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

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

1856 ojibwe bible shermal hall

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

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

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

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

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

leonard hemenway wheeler from unnamed wisconsin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1843 View of La Pointe ~ Wisconsin Historical Society

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

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

Now called Crees.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

27 N. Y. Colon. Docs., x., p. 424

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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