By Amorin Mello

A curious series of correspondences from Morgan

… continued from La Pointe.

 


 

1845 daily union header

The Daily Union (Washington D.C.)
“Liberty, The Union, And The Constitution.”
August 27, 1845.

EDITOR’S CORRESPONDENCE.

(From our regular correspondent.)

FALLS, ST. CROIX, W. T., Aug. 7, 1845.

We left La Pointe on the afternoon of the day on which my last letter was dated.  We had about 70 miles (English,) or 63 of French voyageur’s miles, to travel westward on the lake, before reaching the Brulé river, which we were to ascend for 75 miles, to make the portage to the St. Croix; the latter river being, from its source to the Mississippi river, including the Lake St. Croix at its mouth, about 300 miles long – thus making a journey before us of about 445 miles to reach the Mississippi.  To La Pointe we had already coasted from Sault St. Marie, including the curves, bends, bays, &c , with the entire circuit of Keweena point, the distance of at least 500 miles.  The two added together, give 945 miles of travel, in open boats by day, and under tents by night, with the exception of the three miles portage between the two rivers.  We left the Sault on the 4th July, and reached this place within 50 miles of the Mississippi, making the whole time consumed one month and about three or four days, by the time we will have reached the “father of waters.”

Detail of the shoreline between La Pointe and the Bois-Brule River 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 the shoreline between La Pointe and the Bois Brulé River from Map of the Mineral Lands Upon Lake Superior Ceded to the United States by the Treaty of 1842 With the Chippeway Indians.
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

The distance, in a direct line, from the head of the bay opposite La Pointe, to the portage at the head of the Brulé, by land, is only 80 miles; while by the lake and river, it is about 145.  The whole distance, in a direct line, by land, from La Pointe to the falls of St. Anthony, or to the mouth of the St. Peter’s, does not exceed, by the Indian trail alluded to, over 200 miles.

The first day we left La Pointe we were only enabled to reach Raspberry river, a small stream emptying into the lake 15 miles west of La Pointe, inside the group of islands.

Jocko is a variant of the French name “Jaques.”  This individual cannot be identified without further biographical information.
Ribedoux is a variant of the French surname Robideau.”  This individual cannot be identified without further biographical information.

We first encountered a prodigious thick fog, with a head wind.  We had no sooner landed and raised our tent, than a thunder-storm, with a heavy rain, burst upon us.  The voyageurs, as is their custom, had puled the bark canoes out of the water, and turned them over, placing provisions and other articles under them for shelter.  The Indians, in travelling with their canoes, invariably pull them out of the water at night, turn them bottom upwards, and in bad weather, sleep under them; as our voyageurs (especially Jocko, our Indian voyageur) did on the night in question.  In such cases, they turn water like the roof of a house.  We had, late in the afternoon, doubled some frowning sandstone cliffs alluded to in my other letter, with the grottoes, caves, and excavations wrought out near the water’s edge, by the combined action of the waves and frost.  Another high sandstone promontory still lay just ahead of us, which Ribedoux, our head man, said extended for six miles without affording a landing-place for a boat.

Next morning we found a severe gale blowing from the north-northeast, accompanied with rain.  This compelled us to remain where we were till about 3 or 4 o’clock in the afternoon, when we set out.  The wind had died away, but the sea was running very high, over which our canoes danced along at a great rate – riding them, however, like swans.  The heaviest rolls would be mounted and slid over with as much ease as though the canoes were feathers, as they were propelled forward by the oars and paddles of our skillful voyageurs.

One canoe being small, only admitted of the use of paddles.  The larger craft allowed a pair of oars to be used in front, while a paddle was employed in the stern.  The usual plan of working canoes is to have only two persons to attend to one canoe.  They are always steered with a paddle.  One voyageur seats himself in the bow; while another does the same thing in the stern – the baggage, provisions, passengers, &c., being stored amidships, low in the hull.  Thus arranged, the men apply their paddles with great skill, driving the canoe forward at a pretty rapid speed.

The Voyageurs (1846) by Charles Deas. ~ Commons.Wikimedia.org

The Voyageurs by Charles Deas, 1846.
~ Commons.Wikimedia.org

The Indians display a deal of skill in the construction of their bark canoes.  Their hulls have great symmetry of form; and, under careful handling, which the Indians perfectly understand and practise, they are very light and very strong.

The birch bark, from which they are principally made, is found of excellent quality on the shores and tributaries of Lake Superior, and is extensively used by the Indians for building their lodges, &c., as well as for canoes.  In the latter application, the inside of the bark is exposed to the water and weather; while, in the former case, the outside of the bark is turned to the weather.  Their lodges are of a hemispherical shape, with an opening at the top for the escape of smoke, with a door opening on one side of them, before which a blanket is usually suspended.  The floor of the lodge, with the wealthier class, is usually covered with fine large richly-colored rush mats, on which the Indians recline or sit like Turks on them.  The men, when at home, do little else than recline on the mats and smoke, while the squaws and half-grown children perform all the necessary manual labor.  If an Indian brings in game or fish, he throws it down near his lodge, and troubles himself no more about it; or, if it be troublesome to carry, he leaves it in the woods, returns to the lodge, and sends his squaw for it.

The Anishinaabemowin greeting Boozhoo is not a variant of the French greeting Bonjour.”   However, the similarity of these two greetings likely enhanced the development of friendly relations between French fur traders and the Anishinaabe when these two language groups first encountered each other during the 1600’s.  More information on the Anishinaabe oral tradition of the word Boozhoo can be found in a brief summary written by Robert Animikii Horton: Where Does the Word Boozhoo Come From?

The females among the Indians invariable exhibit the most modest and retiring deportment – equally as much so, I have thought, as is seen or met with among the most civilized whites.  Neither males nor females, when you enter their villages or lodges, ever fix upon you that rude glare, or gaze, which white people often do upon the sudden appearance of a stranger.  The usual salutation of the Chippewa, on meeting you, is “Bojour, bojour, bojour,” at the same time extending his hand to you in friendship.  And if there are fifty men in company, they will all do the same thing.  The exclamations they use is a corruption of the French salutation of “bon jour,” “good day;” or, in English parlance, “how d’ye do.”

The Indians are very fond of bathing and swimming, and they do not consider it the least indelicate for all sexes to bathe at the same time in the immediate vicinity of each other.  I am told, on such occasions, the females wear dresses prepared for the purpose.  The men also are partly clad.

Granville T. Sproat was a Catechist and teacher at the La Pointe mission:
“There are indications that Granville served as a teacher in a school unrelated to ABCFM on or near the Mackinaw Island from the fall of 1834 to the fall of 1835. His first connection with ABCFM dates from September 1835, and he was officially appointed by ABCFM as a missionary assistant some time in 1836. Granville took a leave between July 1837 and June 1838, then returned to La Pointe with his newly wed wife, Florantha nee Thompson. After one unsuccessful pregnancy, Florantha had two healthy daughters, in October 1842, and March 1844. Granville and Florantha retired from the mission in the summer of 1846.”
~ The Sproats at La Pointe: From pages of the Missionary Herald, Boston
Mashkikiiwinini: medicine man
The chief introduced by Mr. Sproat to the author cannot be identified without further biographical information.

I was told by Mr. Grote, who has resided at the Presbyterian mission at La Pointe for some 10 or 12 years, that the Indians, during long peace, and when little surrounds them of a nature to arouse or excite their energies, become, in general, very lethargic, and sink apparently (from ennui) into premature old age, few of them attaining to the years of advanced life.  Among the chiefs I saw at La Pointe, was an old man of sixty.  His hair was quite gray.  He was introduced to me by a friend, at his own request.  He wanted to know where I was from, and whether I had been sent to carry off the Indians.  He was told that I had come on no such errand, but merely to visit and see the country, and that I was a “medicine man,” “mushkiwinini:” this announcement put me on a very friendly footing with him.  He bore a strong resemblance to Robert Dale Owen, the lecturer.

The La Pointe Bands of Lake Superior Chippewa were friendly towards American government efforts, such as the delegation in this series, however many members of their leadership still maintained close ties with British-Canadian ties at this time.

I was told by Mr. Grote that this old chief retained very strong predilections in favor of the British; that he frequently spoke of the good old times when they received fine presents and cheap goods from their great father, the King over the water; and that he annually paid a visit to the Hudson Bay Company’s trading-post at Fort William, or at the Sault, and received presents to some small amount.  he nevertheless professed much friendship for the Americans.

"Mainland sea caves from the water." ~ Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

“Mainland sea caves from the water.”  
~ Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

We left Raspberry river between 3 and 4 p.m., and passed one among the most picturesque cliffs of sand-stone it was our lot to see during the voyage.  It spread along the shore for 6 or 7 miles, varying in height from 50 to 100 feet.  Its base was carved into holes and grottoes of every variety of form, into which the heavy rolls of the waves were pitching with a rumbling and heavy sound; while the white spray flew in foaming whiteness about the outward rocks.  Making a beach near dark at the bottom of the bay, beyond the cliffs, we landed and camped.  Early next morning we were again under way.  In the afternoon we passed four Indian canoes loaded with Indians bound for La Pointe.  They were from Fond-du-Lac.

Charles C. Stannard and his brother Benjamin A. Stannard were both Captains of multiple vessels on Lake Superior before 1845.  Both had been in command of the legendary schooner John Jacob Astor before it sunk in 1844 under the command of a new Captain.

Making Cranberry river, we found Capt. Stanard and his party of voyageurs, who had preceded us from La Pointe, and were bound for Fond-du-Lac, had stopped for dinner.  We concluded to land at the same place for the same purpose.

We were told by Capt. S that he had, on his way, visited an encampment of Indians from Fond-du-Lac, who stated that the Chippewas at that place were laboring under a good deal of excitement.  It seemed that two Indians of that place had been on a visit to the falls of St. Croix, where liquor was freely sold to the Indians; that one of the Indians and a white man quarrelled about a dog; that the latter mauled and beat the former most unmercifully, when the other Indian attempted to interfere, whom the white man attacked and commenced beating also.  The last Indian thereupon stabbed the white man in the breast with a knife, the point of which struck a bone and glanced.  The white man then drew a pistol, and fired it at the Indian, wounded him severely in the thigh.  The Indians then left the falls, and returned to Fond-du-Lac highly incensed, and swearing vengeance against the whites; saying their relations numbered thirty warriors, who would aid them, if necessary, in seeing justice done.  They also said that, some time ago, a Sioux Indian had killed a Chippewa, and that the whites did nothing with him for it.  When the brother of the deceased Chippewa went over to St. Peter’s, and killed the Sioux, the whites had taken up two Chippewas, and had them in jail, which they thought very hard of.  It was also said that sometimes, when the Chippewas left their homes to go to the payment, the Sioux followed them, with a view of annoying and harassing them in the rear.

Today the Bois Brulé River is known as one the best trout streams in the United States.
During the 1840s, Joseph Renshaw Brown sold liquor at his trading post near St. Croix Falls, Maurice Mordecai Samuels sold liquor in his trading post at the mouth of Sunrise River, and Alexander Livingston sold liquor at his trading post at the mouth of Wolf Creek.  These could be the same liquor dealers mentioned in this narrative.  Their liquor trade is featured in several books, including Fifty Years in the Northwest by William H. C. Folsom, 1888.  A Chippewa mixed-blood by the name of “Robido” was accused of murdering Livingston in 1849; this could be the same Ribedoux mentioned in this narrative, or one of his relations.
James P. Hays was in charge of the La Point Indian Subagency (1844-1848).

Captain S. said that he had intended to visit the falls of the Brulé, to fish for trout; but that, owing to these reported difficulties, he should proceed directly to Fond-du-Lac.  It seems that the whole foundation of the troubles on the St. Croix, with the Chippewas, has grown out of the circumstance of grog-shops having been opened at different places along that stream – say one at the falls, another at Wolf river, eighteen or twenty miles above, and a third at the Rising Sun, twenty-five miles above the falls – by low and villanous white men, or half-breeds engaged in their service.  It seems that, some years since, the Chippewas made a treaty, ceding all their lands to the United States, south of a line running due south some fifty miles from the extreme west end of Lake Superior, and from that southern point due west to the mouth of Crow-wing river, on the Upper Mississippi, cutting nearly through the centre of Mille Lake in its course.  There is a proviso in the treaty of cession, which authorizes the Indians to remain in the occupancy of the ceded territory till it is wanted by the government.  I understood Mr. Hays (the Indian agent at La Pointe) to say that he had no power to stop the sale of ardent spirits to the Indians, by the white squatters in the ceded country.  These drunken outrages, if not put a stop to on the St. Croix, will, ere long, lead to serious and disastrous consequences.  The Indians and whites will soon become embroiled in a border “guerrilla” war, and the poor savages, in the end, be butchered and driven out of the country – all, too, growing out of the cupidity of a few rascally men, who aim to cheat and rob the Indians of their last blanket, by selling them the hellish poison of whiskey.  What is the massacre of innocent whites, with the ruin and degradation of Indians, to them, provided they can turn a penny by dealing out rum!!  Mr. Hays lives almost too remote from the St. Croix to prevent these outrages, even if he had the power.  But it does seem to me, that the Indian agent at St. Peter’s, who resides within a day or two’s journey of these outrages, might do something to prevent them.

Doctor Amos J. Bruce was in charge of the St. Peter’s Indian Agency on the Fort Snelling military reservation in 1845.

With due vigilance and firmness on his part, it would appear probable, at least, that Indian murders would not transpire within gun-shot of his agency at St. Peter’s.

The War Department should adopt immediate measures to break up the sale of whiskey to the Indians on the St. Croix, and other parts of that ceded territory, or very serious consequences will follow.  One poor Indian from Fond-du-Lac, on a visit to one of the grogeries on the St. Croix, was made beastly drunk, who, in his helplessness, fell with his face on the fire; having his cheek, with one eye, awfully disfigured and burnt; leaving his whole visage an object of loathing and disgust for life.

As our course to the Mississippi lay along the St. Croix, directly through the whiskey district, the reports of present and prospective difficulties were not very pleasant.  We nevertheless made up our minds to persevere, and meet whatever might happen.

Three chiefs from the Mille Lacs Band signed both the 1842 Treaty with the Chippewa at La Pointe and the 1844 Isle Royale Agreement at La Pointe:
Negwanebi (Quill)
Wazhashkokon (Muskrat’s Liver, aka Pítad in Dakota);
Noodin (Wind).

Towards sunset, we made the mouth of the Brulé, where we found about thirty Chippewa Indians with two or three chiefs encamped, who were on their way to La Pointe; from Leech Lake and Mille Lake.  They belonged to the band denominated “pillageurs,” so nicknamed from their alleged propensity to steal small matters.  We landed on the opposite side of the river to their camp, on a flat – the stream being about twice as wide as the Tiber in good water at Washington.  We were soon joined by Captain Stanard, whose men pitched his tent near ours, and cooked supper by the same fire.  We had scarcely kindled our camp fire, before the chiefs of the “pillageurs” manned their canoes, and came over, crying out, as they came up; “Bojour,” “bojour,” and giving us their hands, which we accepted.  They looked poor and dirty, some of whom were nearly naked.  They said they had nothing to eat, and were very hungry, and wished us to give them some flour, which we complied with.  No sooner did the rest find out we were dispensing “farine,” as the French voyageurs term it, than the whole [posse?] kept coming over in instalments, till we had the whole camp upon our hands – women, children, and all.

We gave them all round about a pint of flour, from Captain S.’s and our own supply, and then gave them to understand we wished them to retire to their own side of the river; they all left us, except some old chiefs, who were privileged to remain, and appeared desirous of smoking their pipes before our fire, and talking over news with Jocko, our Indian voyageur, and one of Captain S.’s half-breeds.

In their camp opposite – out of joy, I suppose, over the flour we had given them – they commenced beating a drum, and singing in a most wild and monotonous manner, which they kept up till near ten p.m., when all became silent.  We all fell fast asleep; and when I awoke next morning, calling the hands for an early start, all was quiet in the Indian camp.  Captain Stanard prepared to depart at the same time, and before sunrise he was off to Fond-du-Lac, and we to the Mississippi.  Whatever the “pillageurs” may have done elsewhere, we will do them the justice to say that they stole nothing from us; for next morning, on packing up, we missed nothing whatever.  Many of them had pleasing and honest countenances, whatever else may be said about them.

Detail of the Bois Brule 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

Detail of the Bois Brulé River (aka “Wissakude [Wisakoda] or Burnt Wood”) and the portage over the Great Divide (a continential divide between the Lake Superior Basin and Missisippi River Basin) to the Saint Croix 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

After going three or four miles, we struck the rapids of this river, over the trap boulders of which the water dashed like a mill-tail.  Our voyageurs had to poke up them with all the strength and skill they could command, for there was constant danger of the canoes being dashed and stove against the rocks, or of being suddenly thrown across the current and capsized.  These rapids were flanked at either side with red sand-stone cliffs; and the darkest and thickest kind of growth, composed of silver fur, or Canadian balsam, white cedars, birch, &c., and wholly unfit for tillage.

At many places the rapids were so powerful, and the channel so crooked and narrow, that the voyageurs had to wade in the water frequently to their waist, and push the canoes forward with their hands.  Sometimes their feet would slip from the spurs of trap-rock boulders, and they would go into holes of deep water, nearly to their arm-pits or chins.

We worked forward in this way over rapids, for about thirty miles; and having passed three portages, around which we had to walk and carry our baggage, with still the fourth and last severe one before us, we finally struck up a camp near the head of the third portage, where all were sufficiently fatigued to sleep most soundly.  At this last portage rapid, there appeared in the bottom of the river a mass of trap crossing it, over which the water fell two or three feet nearly perpendicular.

We were off next morning early, after having examined the bottoms of our canoes, and patched and gummed the leaky places with birch bark and Canada balsam-tree rosin.  The small canoe had to be patched and pitched two or three times, having been punched with holes by the rocks.

1837 Treaty with the Chippewa at St. Peter’s; Article 2:
“In consideration of the cession aforesaid, the United States agree to make to the Chippewa nation, annually, for the term of twenty years, from the date of the ratification of this treaty, the following payments.
1. Nine thousand five hundred dollars, to be paid in money.
2. Nineteen thousand dollars, to be delivered in goods.
3. Three thousand dollars for establishing three blacksmiths shops, supporting the blacksmiths, and furnishing them with iron and steel.
4. One thousand dollars for farmers, and for supplying them and the Indians, with implements of labor, with grain or seed; and whatever else may be necessary to enable them to carry on their agricultural pursuits.
5. Two thousand dollars in provisions.
6. Five hundred dollars in tobacco.
The provisions and tobacco to be delivered at the same time with the goods, and the money to be paid; which time or times, as well as the place or places where they are to be delivered, shall be fixed upon under the direction of the President of the United States.
The blacksmiths shops to be placed at such points in the Chippewa country as shall be designated by the Superintendent of Indian Affairs, or under his direction.
If at the expiration of one or more years the Indians should prefer to receive goods, instead of the nine thousand dollars agreed to be paid to them in money, they shall be at liberty to do so. Or, should they conclude to appropriate a portion of that annuity to the establishment and support of a school or schools among them, this shall be granted them.”
1842 Treaty with the Chippewa at La Pointe; Article 5:
“Whereas the whole country between Lake Superior and the Mississippi, has always been understood as belonging in common to the Chippewas, party to this treaty; and whereas the bands bordering on Lake Superior, have not been allowed to participate in the annuity payments of the treaty made with the Chippewas of the Mississippi, at St. Peters July 29th 1837, and whereas all the unceded lands belonging to the aforesaid Indians, are hereafter to be held in common, therefore, to remove all occasion for jealousy and discontent, it is agreed that all the annuity due by the said treaty, as also the annuity due by the present treaty, shall henceforth be equally divided among the Chippewas of the Mississippi and Lake Superior, party to this treaty, so that every person shall receive an equal share.”

Towards noon, we began to find the rapids less frequent and difficult, till we finally came into a beautiful low bottom, or meadow land, of elm trees, which lasted us for many miles; when, towards night, we again passed some severe rapids, and then entered a long lake of irregular width, formed by the expansion of the river at this point – in no case being more than from seventy-five to one hundred yards wide, with generally a swamp on one side, and considerable sloping pine hills or bluffs on the other.  We found this river, and especially the lake part of it, to be very full of brook trout, some of which we caught, and found them not only beautiful in color, but most excellent to eat; they were continually jumping above the water.  During this day and yesterday, we met several parties of half-breeds and Indians on their way to La Pointe.  On inquiring of them about the fight at the falls, and the difficulties at St. Peter’s, they gave us the most favorable accounts of the quiet and peaceful disposition of the Indians, and said that we might travel just where we pleased, without the least danger whatever.  At any rate, there was one guarantee of their good conduct for a few weeks to come – and that was the forthcoming payment at La Pointe, to which they go up with as much eagerness as the Jews of old did to the Passover.  Any serious disturbance at the present time, or probably at any time, would jeopard the receipt of their annuity, and likely lead to their expulsion from the country.  Besides, at the payment they have an opportunity of laying their numerous grievances before the father, who has to promise them to speak for them in the ear of the great father at Washington.  So matters progress from one year to another, till many grievances of a minor or trivial nature are forgotten.

We camped on a sloping pine ridge, on the east side of the lake part of the river, about 7 p.m.  We found all the nights on the Brulé cool and pleasant.  The water throughout we found as cold as the best mountain spring-water.

We continued our ascent at an early hour next morning, and by noon found our little stream very much diminished in size and volume of water, dwindling first into a small creek, and afterwards into a mere meadow-brook, nearly choked up by the hanging and interlocked alder bushes, the limbs of which we had to push out of our way to enable us to pass.  The little river on this swampy meadow-land also became very crooked.  In going a mile, we very often had to traverse the meadow nearly a dozen times.

Recreation of a voyageur carriying two 90 lb packs of fur across a portage to avoid rapids or move to another river. ~ Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway

“Recreation of a voyageur carrying two 90 lb packs of fur across a portage to avoid rapids or move to another river.”
~ Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway

This famous portage through the Brule Bog between the Bois Brulé River and Saint Croix River can be hiked along the North Country Trail within the Brule River State Forest.

About half-past 2 p.m., however, we arrived at the portage, or the place where we were to take our canoes out, transport them, and afterwards their contents, on our backs, across hill-sides, and over the summit of one or two pine, sand, and pebble hills, about one hundred and fifty feet above the level of the swamp in which the St. Croix and Brulé head.  The two rivers are said to have a common origin in one spring.  But the swamp, in which they both head, is no doubt full of springs – some running one way and some running another.  This swamp is wide, extending from one river to the other, nearly north and south.  On the east side of this swamp, and parallel with it, are found the range of pine hills by the sides, and over the summits of which the portage path crosses.  Still to the east of this short range of hills, is a small lake, which empties into the river Brulé at some distance below the portage, called by the voyageurs White-fish lake.  Near the head of streams of the St. Croix river is Upper St. Croix lake, to which our portage path descended at the northeast corner, descending to it down the southern side of the hills spoken of, being three miles from the place of debarkation on the Brulé.  The sources of these rivers are laid down in Mr. Nicollet’s map as being nine hundred feet above the Atlantic.  They are also said to be two hundred and seventy-five feet above the level of the lake; but I am inclined to believe that they are higher than stated – especially so above the level of the lake, if the high land we crossed be included in the estimate.  Most of the maps are in error about the geography of this part of the country, both with regard to the heading of the rivers; as well as to their size and course.

The altitude of the portage is shown as “956” feet above sea level on Nicollet’s map.  The actual altitude is roughly 100 feet higher than Nicollet’s calculation.

The course of the Brulé is from south-southeast to north-northwest from the portage to the lake, being comparatively a small river.  The course of the St. Croix, from its head to the Mississippi is south-southwest, and is by no means so crooked low down as represented.  It is so large, for fifty or seventy-five miles above the falls, as to compare very favorably with the Ohio; which, at some points, it much resembles.  It, and its tributaries, have a deal of fine pine timber growing along its banks; a good deal of which has been cut, to supply the mills below.  Mr. Nicollet’s map, which is generally very correct, lays down hills between the waters of the Brulé and St. Croix, where none exist.  I believe he did not visit the portage in person, but relied on the information of voyageurs.

It was an agreeable reflection to know, when standing on the highest point of hills on the portage, that we could overlook the course of one river sweeping away to the north, on its vast journey to the Gulf of the St. Lawrence; while to the south were seen the waters of the St. Croix, just gathered into a pretty, quiet lake, from its conglomerate of springs near by about to speed its waters to the Mississippi, and down it to the Gulf of Mexico! and when once there, perchance, gathered in the Gulf stream, and be again wafted by it to the banks of Newfoundland, where it may again unite with the water of its kindred Brulé!

What a wonderful continent is this of ours!  What cast rivers and lakes intersect it!  To appreciate their lengths, magnitude, scenery, &c., they must be travelled over to be understood.  In June, I was at the Falls of Niagara; in a few days I shall probably be at the Falls of St. Anthony – passing from one to the other by water, with the exception of three miles!

Having, on August the 2d, succeeded in getting everything over the portage, including canoes, luggage, &c.; and it being towards sundown; we concluded to camp, and get ready for an early start next morning.  Sunday morning, the 3d of August, found us descending the beautiful upper lake St. Croix, bordered in the distance with rolling pine-hills.

Detail of the upper Saint Croix River, Brule Bog portage, and “Chipeway Village” from Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River From Astronomical and Barometrical Observations Surveys and Information by J.N. Nicollet, 1843.  Also shown is the Grand Footpath (long dotted line) between Chequamegon Bay and Saint Anthony Falls.
~ David Rumsey Map Collection

We soon began to meet large parties of Indians in their canoes, bound to La Pointe, to be present at the payment.  As Mr. Hays (the Indian agent at La Pointe) had told us that he expected the Rev. Mr. Ely, who had charge of a Presbyterian missionary station on the Percagaman, or Snake river, to be over at the payment, and thought it probable that we might meet him; and learning that some of the Indians we met were from Snake river, I asked them if they knew whether Mr. Ely had left.  They told me he had, and that he was at his camp down the river, which we would soon reach.

We continued on, amidst fields of wild rice in full bloom, which covered the lake for acres upon acres on each side of the channel.  This wild rice (rizania aquatica) is of great importance to the Indians, who gather large quantities of it when ripe, in autumn, for their winter food.  Its soft stem and watery roots are immersed about 2 to 2½ feet under water, while the blades, head, and stalk reach about a foot to a foot and a half above water.  In flowering, its heads present a singular appearance.  Its pistils, or grain part of the flower, are clustered on a long, sharp-pointed spicular, terminating in a sharp cone at the very head of the stalk; while the pollen appears attached to the stalk below the head.

Why could not this rice be sown and cultivated in the lakes of western New York and in New England?  Besides the value of the grain for poultry and various other purposes, its tops or blades would make the richest and sweetest fodder for cattle.  I chewed the blades, and found them tender, and as sweet as the tender blades of green corn.  The experiment might be worth the trial.

Reverend Edmund Franklin Ely. ~ Duluth Public Library

Reverend Edmund Franklin Ely.
~ Duluth Public Library

Reverend “Rosselle” could not be identified or found in historical records.

About the middle of the afternoon we reached the first rapids in descending the St. Croix, now contracted from a lake into a narrow river, strewed here and there with black boulders of trap.  We here had the pleasure of finding Mr. Ely encamped on the west bank of the river, who had remained still all day, as it was Sunday.  He had in company with him the Rev. Mr. Rosselle, a young clergyman from Ogdensburg, New York, to whom he introduced me.  Mr. Rosselle informed me that he had been to the falls of St. Anthony, from whence he had gone on a steamboat “Still-water,” at the head of the lower Lake St. Croix, and from thence to the missionary station on the Pergacaman, or Snake river, where he concluded to accompany the Rev. Mr. Ely to La Pointe, and be present at the Indian payment.  From La pointe he expected to make his way home by the Sault St. Marie, Mackinac, &c.  Mr. Ely had some Indians along with him, who were evidently attached to the mission.  He said the success of the mission had been interfered with, to some extend, by the dread in which the Chippewas held the Sioux in that part of the country; that in constant fear of their natural enemy, they disliked making permanent settlements and to improve them.  After some other general conversation, we continued our journey over rapids, till near night, when we camped (as was often the case) on an old Indian camping-ground, and saw lying about us dog bones, on the meat of which the Indians had feasted.  An innumerable swarm of horseflies surrounded our tent and camp-fire, which the voyageurs at first mistook for bumble bees, whose nest, they conceived, they had disturbed, and, for fear of being stung, they fled; but, on ascertaining they were merely noisy flies, they came back again.

We made an early start next morning, to resume our descent over rapids dashing over trap and granite boulders.  We met a half-breed and his wife, who had a keg of whiskey in his canoe.  They were going to La Pointe, where Mr. Hays suffers no liquor to land.  The man offered to treat my voyageurs, one of whom was known to him.  I consented that they might take one dram each, but no more. This being given them, we thanked him, and proceeded on our journey.  About noon, we passed the last severe rapids, and the mouth of a large tributary from the east, called the Macagon, about 100 miles above the falls, and within 50 miles of Snake river.

Detail of the St. Croix River with tributaries Snake River and Kettle River from Nicollet's map.

Detail of the Saint Croix River with tributaries Snake River and Kettle River from Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River From Astronomical and Barometrical Observations Surveys and Information by J.N. Nicollet, 1843. Also shown is the Grand Footpath (long dotted line) between Chequamegon Bay and Saint Anthony Falls.
~ David Rumsey Map Collection

The St. Croix, from this point down, became a larger, more beautiful, and more interesting stream.  The bottoms, too, became wide and rich, but subject to inundation at very high water.  The stratified red sandstone was seen to skirt the margins of the river, all along the rapids; while boulders of trap and granite were strewn over the centre of the channel.  But, as we approached Kettle and Snake rivers, we began to notice the appearance of white sandstone on the shores of the river, which continued to appear till near the falls, and again rose in high cliffs below them, and continued to the Mississippi.  At night, we camped on a high pine bluff on the right bank of the river, a large swamp being on the opposite side.  Here we were nearly devoured by mosquitoes, and were glad to make our escape next morning without breakfast – intending to stop and cook at a place, if possible, less infested by them; which we did, on the pebbly beach of an island.

We had a showery forenoon, but continued our journey.  We met with several long rapids, and, passing Kettle river, reached the mouth of Snake river, about 10 a.m. – where we found a body of Indians encamped, going to La Pointe.  We exchanged some meal for some fish, and gave an old woman some sugar for a sick child.  Then, wishing them a “bon voyage,” we put off.  About 25 miles above the falls, we passed Sunrise river, with splendid and extensive bottom-land opposite to it on the left bank, lying high and dry above high-water mark.

The next place we made was Wolf river, about 18 or 20 miles above the falls.  Here we found a rude village, on a rich piece of land, settled by half-breeds, Indians, and a Frenchman or two.  They had lots of liquor, and offered to sell me some; but I declined to purchase, or to let my voyageurs buy any; and, though late in the afternoon, moved for some 8 or 10 miles further, and camped just within the first rapid or two, at the commencement of the falls.  From the head of the rapids to the falls is 9 miles.

Detail of the St. Croix River with tributaries Snake River and Kettle River from Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River From Astronomical and Barometrical Observations Surveys and Information by J.N. Nicollet, 1843. ~ David Rumsey Map Collection

Detail of Saint Croix Falls with tributaries Sunrise River (“Memokage”) and Wolf Creek (“Attanwa”) from Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River From Astronomical and Barometrical Observations Surveys and Information by J.N. Nicollet, 1843. Also shown is the Grand Footpath (long dotted line) between Chequamegon Bay and Saint Anthony Falls.
~ David Rumsey Map Collection

“The first deed recorded in the county of old St. Croix was Sept. 29, 1845, from James Purinton, of St. Croix Falls, to John H. Ferguson, of the city of St. Louis, Missouri, – consideration $1,552, – of St. Croix Falls water power property.”
~ Fifty Years in the Northwest by William H. C. Folsom, 1888, page 87.

We reached the falls next morning to breakfast, where I made the acquaintance of Mr. Purinton, to whom I bore a letter of introduction, and found him a very clever and enterprising man.  He has done more to develop this part of the country, and to enhance its value and settlement, than any other man in it.  The falls afford a splendid water-power, fully equal to that yielded by the falls of the Merrimac at Lowell.  Mr. Purinton is the proprietor, and has a saw-mill running with five saws, in separate frames.  His logs come down the St. Croix.

There is a trap formation in place, crossing the river at the falls, obliquely from northwest to southeast.  It is lost a short distance to the northwest of the river, but runs off in a range of 20 miles to the southeast of the falls.  It differs a good deal from the trap-formation on Lake Superior.  It is of a bluish and lighter color than the trap on the lake in the high perpendicular cliffs of this stone, which faces the river at, and for some little distance below the falls, may be seen strong indications of a columnar structure in its form; while in the trap on Lake Superior, the same rock is uniformly amorphous in its form.

Besides, the trap on Lake Superior appears uniformly to have had an upheaval through red sandstone; while that at the falls has been borne up through white sandstone, very distinct in its character from the red sandstone of the lake.  It is probable, therefore, that there is no continuous connexion or homogeneousness of character between the trap-rock of the falls, and that on Lake Superior; and that they may have been raised at far different and distinct periods.  Be this as it may, however, I found the trap at the falls of St. Croix to give very favorable indications of the existence of copper ore.  Mr. Purinton gave me some very interesting specimens of the ore found in the vicinity of his mill.

While rambling about the falls, I discovered, also, one or two very fine mineral chalybeate springs.

Detail of the St. Croix River from the Falls to  the head of St. Croix Lake (Stillwater) from Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River From Astronomical and Barometrical Observations Surveys and Information by J.N. Nicollet, 1843. Also shown is the Grand Footpath (long dotted line) between Chequamegon Bay and St. Anthony's Falls.~ David Rumsey Map Collection

Detail of the Saint Croix River from the Falls to the head of Saint Croix Lake (Stillwater, Minnesota) from Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River From Astronomical and Barometrical Observations Surveys and Information by J.N. Nicollet, 1843. Also shown is the Grand Footpath (long dotted line) between Chequamegon Bay and Saint Anthony Falls (Minneapolis, Minnesota.
~ David Rumsey Map Collection

Having paid off my voyageurs at the falls, and sent them back in one of the canoes, I prepared to descend the river to the head of the lake, or to Stillwater, in the other; which I reached next day.  There is a saw-mill at this place, and two others between it and the falls – all being turned by streams which enter the river on one side or the other.  At Stillwater, a town not quite a year old, there is a tavern, two stores, a blacksmith-shop, one lawyer, one doctor, no preacher, no schoolmaster, no justice of the peace or mayor, one saw-mill, no school, a large cool spring, and a very pretty place for the town to grow on.  We here met the steamboat Lynx, on which we took passage, after disposing of my canoe.

The land on the west side of Lake St. Croix is beautiful all the way to the Mississippi, and is fast settling up.  This beautiful sheet of water is 22 miles long, and from one and a half to two miles wide.

I am, very respectfully and sincerely, yours,

MORGAN.

 


 

To be continued in Copper Harbor Redux

By Amorin Mello

A curious series of correspondences from Morgan

… continued from The Copper Region.

 


 

1845 daily union header

The Daily Union (Washington D.C.)
“Liberty, The Union, And The Constitution.”
August 9, 1845.

La Pointe, Lake Superior

July 26, 1845

To the Editor of the Union:

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

I have just time to state that, having spent five days at Copper Harbor, examining the copper mine, &c. at that place, and having got everything in readiness, we set off for this place, along the coast, in an open Mackinac boat, travelling by day, and camping out at night.  We reached this post on yesterday, the 25th instant.  We have now been under tents 21 nights.  In coming up the shore of the lake, we on one occasion experienced a tremendous rain accompanied with thunder, which wetted our things to a considerable extent, and partly filled the boat with water.

On our way we spent a good part of a day at Eagle river, and examined the mine in the process of being worked at that place, but found it did not equal our expectations.

We also stopped at the Ontonagon, the mineral region bordering which, some fifteen miles from the lake, promises to be as good as any other portion of the mineral region, if not better.

I have not time at present to enter fully into the results of observations I have made, or to describe the incidents and adventures of the long journey I have performed along the lake shore for the distance of about 500 miles, from Sault Ste. Marie to La Pointe.  There are many things I wish to say, and to describe, &c.; but as the schooner “Uncle Tom,” by which I write, is just about leaving, I have not time at present.  I must reserve these things for a future opportunity.

I am, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

MORGAN.

P.S. – I set off in a day or two for the Mississippi and Falls of St. Anthony, via the Brulé and St. Croix rivers.

Yours, &c., M.

 


 

1845 daily union header

The Daily Union (Washington D.C.)
“Liberty, The Union, And The Constitution.”
August 25, 1845

EDITOR’S CORRESPONDENCE

[From our regular Northern correspondant.]

La Pointe, Lake Superior,

July 28, 1845.

Morgan’s last letter of this date was published earlier on Chequamegon History as The Copper Region for continuity after Copper Harbor.

In what I said in my last letter of this date, in relation to the extent, value, and prospects of the copper-mines opened on Lake Superior, I had no wish to dampen the ardor, would the feelings or injure the interest of any one concerned.  My only wish is to state facts.  This, in all cases, I feel it my duty to do; although, in so doing, as in the present case, my individual interest suffers thereby.  Could I have yielded to the impulses and influences prevailing in the copper region, I might have been greatly benefited in a pecuniary point of view by pursuing a different course ; but, knowing those whom I represented, as well as the public and the press for which I write, wanted the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, I could do nothing less than make the statement I did.  Previous to visiting the country, I could, of course, know nothing of its real character.  I had to judge, like others, from published reports of its mineral wealth, accompanied with specimens, &c., which appeared very flattering; but which, I am now convinced, have been rather overdrawn, and the mineral region set out larger and richer than it really is.  The authors of the reports were, doubtlessly, actuated by pure motives.  They, no doubt, had a wish, in laying down the boundaries of the mineral region, so to extend it as to leave out no knoll or range of trap-rock, or other formation, if any indicative of mineral deposites, which usually appear in connexion with them, occurred.

I consider, in conclusion, that the result thus far is this: that the mines opened may possibly, in their prosecution, lead to rich and permanent veins; and probably pay or yield something, in some cases, while exploring them.  But, however rich the specimens of one raised, at present there is nothing in them, geologically speaking, that indicates, conclusively, that they have reached a vein, or that the mines will continue permanently as rich as they are at present.  This would be my testimony, according to the best of “my knowledge and belief,” on the witness’s stand, under oath.

"The remarkable copper-silver "halfbreed" specimen shown above comes from northern Michigan's Portage Lake Volcanic Series, an extremely thick, Precambrian-aged, flood-basalt deposit that fills up an ancient continental rift valley." ~ Shared from James St. John under the Creative Commons license

“The remarkable copper-silver ‘halfbreed’ specimen shown above comes from northern Michigan’s Portage Lake Volcanic Series, an extremely thick, Precambrian-aged, flood-basalt deposit that fills up an ancient continental rift valley.”
~ Creative Commons from James St. John

That the region, as before said, is rich in copper and silver ores, cannot be denied.  And I think the indications that veins may or do exist somewhere in great richness, are sufficiently evident to justify continued explorations in search of them, by those who have the means and leisure to follow them up  for several years.  To find the veins, and most permanent deposites, must be the work of time; and as the season is short, on Lake Superior, for such operations, several years may be necessary before a proper and practical examination can be made of the country.

The general features of Lake Superior are very striking, and differ very much in appearance from what I have ever met with in any other part of the continent.  The vastness and depth of such a body of pure fresh cold water so far within the continent, is an interesting characteristic.  When we consider it is over 900 feet deep, with an area of over 30,000 square miles, and yet that, throughout its whole extent, it presents as pure and as fresh-tasted water as though it were taken from a mountain brook, the question naturally arises, Where can such a vast supply of pure water come from?  It is true, it has great many streams flowing into it, but they are nearly all quite small, and would seem to be wholly inadequate to supply such a vast mass of water, and preserve it in such a state of purity.  The water supplied by most of the rivers is far less pure than that in the lake itself.  East of Keweena point, we found the water of the rivers discolored, being tinged by pine and other roots, clay, &c., often resembling the hue of New England rum.  Such rivers, or all combined, would seem to be inadequate to supply such a vast quantity of pure clear water as fills this inland ocean!

Uncertainty in the Great Lakes Water Balance (2005)
~ United States Geological Survey

It is possible that this great lake is freely supplied with water from subterranean springs opening into it from below.  The river St. Mary’s also seems inadequate, from its size, to discharge as much water as comes into the lake from the rivers which it receives.  In this case, evaporation may be so great as to diminish the water that would otherwise pass out at it.

As relates to tides in the other lakes, we have nothing to say; but, as far as Lake Superior is concerned, we feel assured, from observation, as well as from the reports of others upon whom we can rely, that there are tides in it – variously estimated at from 8 to 12 inches; influenced, we imagine, by the point of observation, and the season of the year at which such tides are noticed.

The Voyageurs (1846) by Charles Deas. ~ Commons.Wikimedia.org

The Voyageurs (1846) by Charles Deas.
~ Commons.Wikimedia.org

What strikes the voyageur with the most interest, in the way of scenery, is the wild, high, bold, and precipitous coast of the southern shore, for such much of the whole distance between Grand Sable and La Pointe, and, indeed, for some distance beyond La Pointe ; the picturesque appearance of which often seemed heightened to us, as on a clear morning, or late afternoon, or voyageurs would conduct our boat for miles near their bases.  Above us, the cliffs would rise in towering heights, while the bald eagle would be soaring in grand circular flights above their summits; our voyageurs, at the same time, chanting in chorus many of their wildest boat songs, as we glided along on the smooth and silent bosom of the lake.  I have heard songs among various nations, and in various parts of the world; but, whether it was the wild scenery resting in solemn grandeur before me, with the ocean-like waste of water around us, which lent wilderness to the song, I never listened to any which appeared to sing a verse in solo, and then repeat a chorus, in which the whole crew would join.  This would often be continued for several miles at a time, as the boat glided forward over smooth water, or danced along over the gentle swells of a moderate sea; the voyageurs, at the same moment, keeping time with their oars.

Jean Baptiste, our pilot, had an excellent voice, full, loud, and strong.  He generally led off, in singing; the others falling in at the choruses.  All their songs were in French, sometimes sentimental or pathetic, sometimes comic, and occasionally extempore, made, as sung, from the occurrences of the preceding day, or suggested by passing scenes.

The Chippewa Indians are poor singers; yet they have songs (such as they are) among them; one of which is a monotonous air repeated at their moccasin games.

Stereographic view of a moccasin game, by J. H. Hamilton, circa 1880. ~ University of Minnesota Duluth

Stereographic view of a moccasin game, by J. H. Hamilton, 1880. 
~ University of Minnesota Duluth

Next to the love of liquor, many of the Indians have a most unconquerable passion for gambling.  While at La Pointe, I had an opportunity of seeing them play their celebrated moccasin game.  They were to the number of two, or three aside, seated on the ground opposite to each other, which a blanket spread out between them, on which were placed four or five moccasins.  The had two lead bullets, one of which was made rough, while the other remained smooth.  Two f the gamesters were quite young men, with their faces painted with broad horizontal red and blue stripes, their eyelashes at the same time being dyed of a dark color.  They played the game, won and lost, with as much sang froid as old and experienced gamblers.  Those who sat opposite, especially one of them, was much older, but no means a match, at the time of my visit, for the young rascals, his antagonists.  One takes the balls in his hands, keeps his eye directly on the countenance of the opposite party, at the same time tossing the balls in his hands, and singing, in a changing voice, words which sound somewhat like “He-he-hy-er-he-he-hy-er-haw-haw-haw-yer.  He-he-hy-er,” &c.  During which he keeps raising, shifting, and putting down the moccasins, till, finally, he raises his hands, having succeeded in concealing the balls under two of the moccasins, for which the other proceeds to search; and if he succeeds, on the first trial, in finding the rough ball, he wins.  Then he takes the balls to hide, and commences singing himself.  If he fails, he loses; and the first party repeats the song and the secretion of the balls.  They hold in their hands small bundles of splinters of wood.  When one loses, he gives to the winner so many sticks of wood.  A certain number of them gained by any one of the party, wins the game.  When I saw them, they had staked up their beads, belts, garters, knife-cases, &c.  Their love of gaming is so strong, as to cause them to bet and lose everything they possess in the world – often stripping the last blanket from their naked backs, to stake on the game.  It is said that some Indians acquire so much dexterity at this game, that others addicted to it refuse to play with them.  In playing the game, they keep up a close watch on each other’s eyes, as being the best index to the movement of the hands.  The song is repeated, no doubt, to diver the attention of the antagonists.

Among other peculiarities of Lake Superior, and one of its greatest recommendations, is the abundance and superiority of its fish, consisting of trout of large size, white fish, siskomit, ( a species of salmon,) and bass.  The trout and siskomit are the finest and noblest fresh-water fish I ever saw.  Almost every day we could catch trout by trailing a hook and line in the water behind out boat.  In this way we caught one fine siskomit.  Its meat, when fresh-cooked, we found about the color of salmon.  The fish itself is about as heavy as a common-sized salmon, but less flat, being more round in form.

Detail of "The 12 Apostles" from Captain Jonathan Carver's journal of his travels with maps and drawings, 1766. ~ Boston Public Library

Detail of “The 12 Apostles” from Captain Jonathan Carver’s journal of his travels with maps and drawings, 1766.
~ Boston Public Library

If you will look at a map of Lake Superior, you will find, near its upper end, a labyrinth of islands, called by the early French voyageurs, of whom P. Charlevoix was one, (a Jesuit,) “the Madelaine islands.”  They are sometimes called “the Twelve Apostles.”  The largest island is now generally known as “the Madelaine island” – being the largest of the group.  Just inside, and near its southern extremity, at the head of a large, regular bay, with a sandy beach, with an open and gently-rising scattered pine and spruce land in the rear of the beach, stands La Pointe – one of the most pleasant, beautiful, and desirable places for a residence on Lake Superior, and the very place where Fort Wilkins should have been placed, instead of its present location, which must be conceded, by every impartial person, to be among the very worst that could have been selected on the whole lake.

The garrison at Copper harbor, located, as it is, upon the rocky surface of trap conglomerate, affording a surface so scantily supplied with soil amidst masses of pebbly rock and trap fragments as to be wholly unfit for any sort of cultivation whatever, is altogether out of place.  It is wholly inaccessible by land, and can only be reached by water in summer.  It is at a spot where Indians usually never passed within forty miles of it, till since its occupation.

Detail of the mail route between La Pointe and St. Croix falls. ~ A new map of the State of Wisconsin, by Thomas, Cowperthwait & Co., 1850

Detail of the Indian trail or “mail route” between La Pointe and St. Anthony Falls.
~ A new map of the State of Wisconsin, by Thomas, Cowperthwait & Co., 1850

The very next Congress should direct its prompt removal to La Pointe.  Here, from the foot of the bay in front of the Madelaine island, there is an Indian trail, connecting La Pointe with St. Anthony’s Falls, and over which the mail is carried in winter by voyageurs on foot.  La Pointe is the favorite resort of the Indians.  Their lodges, in villages, bark canoes, &c. are found here the year round.

They delight to paddle and sail their canoes about the beautiful bays, harbors, &c. of these islands, employing their time in canoe building, hunting, fishing, &c.  At every annual payment of their annuities, they flock to La Pointe in great numbers.  Not only is that section of the great Chippewa nation sharing in the annuities brought together, but large parties of the same tribe, who receive no annuity, come at the same time from the British possessions to the north of Pigeon river.  The Chippewas, called the “Pillageurs,” (so called from their thievish propensities,) inhabiting the country about Mille and Leech lakes, also attend – to meet relations, to traffic , and, perhaps, to steal a little.  The great advantage of a government outpost is felt in the moral effect it exercises over the Indians.  I know of no place where this influence would be more decidedly and beneficially exerted than at La Pointe.  here should be daily unfurled the “stars and stripes,” and the sound of the evening gun be heard over the beautiful bays, and along the shores of the Twelve Apostles, which the Indians would learn to reverence with little less respect than they do the voice of the Manitou – the guardian spirit of the mines, embowelled in the dark trap hills of the lake.

Here, too, is an exceedingly healthy place, a good soil, and every convenience for raising the finest potatoes, turnips, and every kind of garden stuff.

borup

1856 oil painting of Doctor Charles William Wulff Borup, a native of Copenhagen, Denmark.  Borup married Elizabeth Beaulieu, a Lake Superior Chippewa daughter of Bazil Hudon Beaulieu and Ogimaagizzhigokwe.  Borup and his brothers-in-law Charles Henry Oakes and Clement Hudon Beaulieu were co-signers of the 1842 Treaty with the Chippewa at La Pointe.  Borup and Oakes became the first bankers of Minnesota.

Dr. Borup, the agent for the American Fur Company, (who have an extensive trading-post at this place,) has a superb garden.  In walking through it with him, I saw very fine crops of the usual garden vegetables growing in it.  His red currant bushes were literally bent down beneath their weight of ripe fruit.  His cherry-trees had also borne well.  Gooseberries also succeed well.  The doctor also had some young apple-trees, that were in a thriving condition.  Poultry, likewise, does well.  Mrs. B. had her yard well stocked with turkeys, geese, ducks, and chickens.  There was also a good garden at the mission-house of the American board.

However infinitely better is such a place for a United States garrison than Copper harbor, located, as it were, on a barren rock, where no Indians are seen, unless induced to go there by the whites – where there is nothing to protect – where intercourse is cut off in winter, and food can only reach it in summer – where there is no soil on which to raise a potato or a cabbage.  I can only say that a greater blunder, in the location of a military post, was probably never committed.  And if made (of which I am assured it was not) by a military man, he ought to be court-martialed and cashiered.

The mouth of the Ontonagon river is a far better spot for the fort than Copper harbor.  It has a good soil, and a beautiful site for a fort.  Furthermore, the country between it and Fort Winnebago, on the Wisconsin river, is favorable to the construction of a military road, which ought, at no distant day, to be opened.  Another road should be cut from Fort Snelling, near the falls of St. Anthony, to La Pointe.  In cutting these roads, it would seem to me as if the United States soldiers themselves might be usefully employed.

Fort Wilkins (1844-1870) – First established in 1844 at Copper Harbor in Keweenaw County, Michigan. Constructed by two companies of the 5th U.S. Infantry under General Hugh Brady and Captain R.E. Cleary. Named after Secretary of War William Wilkins. Abandoned in 1870.”
~ FortWiki.com

While at Copper harbor, I frequently visited Fort Wilkins, in command of Captain Cleary, whom I consider in every way an ornament and an honor to the service.  In the brief space of time he has been at this post, and with the slender materials at command afforded by the country, he has nevertheless succeeded in making an “oasis” in a wilderness.  He has erected one of the neatest, most comfortable, and best-planned garrisons it has been my lot to enter on the western frontier.  He keeps all in excellent condition.  His men look clean, healthy, and active.  He drills them daily, and keeps them under most excellent discipline.  He seems to take both pleasure and ride in the service.  He says he never has any difficulty with is soldiers while he can exclude ardent spirits from them, as he succeeds in doing here, notwithstanding the great number of visitors to Copper harbor this summer.

To all travellers who are interested in objects of leading curiosity, the character of the Indians they fall in with cannot fail to arrest a share of attention.

The Chippewas are the only Indians now met with from the Sault Ste. Marie and Mackinac, extending from thence west along the southern shore of Lake Superior, to Fond du Lac, and from thence, in the same direction, to the Mississippi river.  Within the United States they extend over the country south from the British boundary, to the country low down on the St. Croix and Chippewa rivers.  The same tribe extends from our boundary northwest of the lake, entirely around its northern shore on British territory, till they reach the Sault Ste. Marie, opposite the American shore.  It is said this tribe, spread over such a vast tract of country, is a branch of the powerful race of the Algonquins.  They are sometimes called O-jib-was.  They do not exist as a consolidated nation, or strictly as a confederation of bands.  The entire nation on both sides of the line is divided into a great number of bands, with a chief at the head of each, which not uncommonly go by his name, such as “Old Martin’s band,” “Hole in the Day’s band,” &c.

Big Marten (Gichi-waabizheshi ), his son(?) Little Marten (Waabizheshiins), and their band(s) were featured in The Copper Region.
Hole-In-The-Day the Elder (Bagone-giizhig) (1801-1847) was the father of Hole-In-The-Day the Younger (1825-1868).  They and their band(s) were among the Pillageurs.

The chief’s son, especially if he exhibits the right qualities, is expected to succeed his father at the head of the band; but very frequently the honor is reached by usurpation.  The whole nation, which widely differ in circumstances, according to the part of the country they inhabit, nevertheless all speak the Chippewa language, and have extensive connexion by marriage, &c.  The bands inhabiting the southern shore of Lake Superior are by far the best of any others.  Though polygamy still prevails among them, and especially among their chiefs, it is nevertheless said to be becoming less common, especially where they are much influenced by Catholic and other missions.  While at La Pointe, an Indian wedding was consummated, being conducted according to the ceremonies of the Catholic church, and performed by the missionary priest of that persuasion stationed at the Pointe.

There is one trait of character possessed by the Chippewas, (if we except, perhaps, the band of “pillageurs,” who have a kind of “Bedouin Arab” reputation among their countrymen,) which, I am sorry to say, the whites do not possess in an equal degree – that is, “very great honesty.”

White men can travel among them with the most perfect safety as to life and property.  I will venture to say, that a man may carry baskets filled with gold and silver, and set them down in Indian villages, or leave them lying where he likes, or go to sleep by them, with Indians encamped all around him, and not one cent will be touched.  Such a thing as a house being broken open and robbed at a Chippewa Indian trading-post was never heard of – within between two and three years’ intercourse with them – in time of peace.  Dr. Borup said he would not be afraid, if concealed to look on, to leave his store door open all night; and the fact alone of its being left open, might be made known to the Indians at the Pointe.  He would expect to see no Indian enter the store, nor would he expect to lose anything; such was his confidence in their honesty!!

Prices of goods at La Pointe were artificially inflated by Indian traders because they lacked competition in this remote region and could be reimbursed with treaty annuities.  Read the 1848 La Pointe Annuity Payments to learn more about Borup’s role in these corrupt affairs.

Last winter, flour at the Pointe rose to $40 per barrel.  The poor Indians were nearly famished for bread, but were unable to purchase it at such a price.  They knew the American Fur Company had a considerable lot in store, guarded by nothing stronger than a padlock, yet they never offered the least violence towards the company’s agents or store!  Would white people have acted as honestly?  The poor Indians, by nature honest, have too often known the whites by the wrongs inflicted upon them, which God can forgive, but time can never blot out!  They are very superstitious, but not as basely and insanely so, but a great deal, as the Mormons, Millerites, and other moon-stricken sects among the whites.  They believe in one Great and Good Spirit, or a Being who can at will inflict good or evil on mankind; and there’s an end of it.  They often denominate the mysterious spirit of evil import the Manitou, making him to dwell in the wild hills, islands, grottoes, and caves of Lake Superior.

“In the rugged mountains of the Penokee Iron Range near Hurley in Iron County, in the former domain of the Chippewa Indians, were the reputed nesting places of the Thunderers (wassamowin lightning makers).
From these huge birds the Indians obtained their first knowledge of fire, which they kindled with fire-sticks. These mythical birds were the most powerful of the animal deities of the Indians of the woodlands and of the plains. When the weather was stormy they flew about high in the heavens. When they flapped their great wings, one heard the crashes of thunder, when they opened and closed their eyes flashes of lightning were seen. Some carried lakes of water on their backs, these slopped over and caused downpours of rain.  Their arrows, or thunderbolts, were the eggs which they dropped in their flight. These shattered the rocks and set fire to the forests and prairies.
A Chippewa Indian hunter, who was carried away to his nest by a Thunderer, saved his life by killing one of the young birds and flying back to earth in its feathered hide.
In the Smoky Mountains, a wild and rugged region in the southwestern part of Bayfield County, was the home of Winneboujou (Nenebozho), the fabled hero of the Ojibwa Indians. This all-powerful manitou was a blacksmith, and had his forge on the flat top of the highest mountain. Here he shaped the native copper of the Lake Superior region into useful implements for his Indian children. Much of his work at his forge was done at night, and the ringing blows of his great hammer could be heard throughout the Brule Valley and Lake Superior region. The fire of his forge reddened the sky. When he was not busy at his forge he was away hunting or seeking other adventures. Many stories of the exploits of this giant manitou have been told by the Chippewa and other Wisconsin Algonquian tribes.”
~ Legends of the Hills of Wisconsin by Dorothy Moulding Brown; The Wisconsin Archaeologist, Volume 18, Number 1, 1937, pages 20-21.

At times, it is said, a peculiar noise issues from the Porcupine mountains, and from the high hills on the main land, both east and west of La Pointe, some distance off.  It is said to resemble the distant discharge of ordnance, or thunder.  At one time, they said it was so loud and frequent, that they mistook it for signal guns fired from the brig Astor, which they thought might be in distress, and actually sent out a boat in search of her.

"Ojibwe shoulder pouch depicting two thunderbirds in quillwork, Peabody Museum Harvard." ~ Commons.Wikimedia.org

“Ojibwe shoulder pouch depicting two thunderbirds in quillwork, Peabody Museum, Harvard University.”
~ Commons.Wikimedia.org

These sounds the Indians believe to be the voice of the spirit “Manitou,” who guards the deposites of mineral wealth embowelled beneath the hills, and to whom any attempt made to dig them up, and carry them off, would be highly offensive, and followed by some kind of punishment.  I have never yet heard of an Indian’s leading a white man to a locality of copper, or telling where he has found a piece when picked up!

Some have supposed that the noise in question arises from volcanic action; but, as no vibration is felt in the earth, and no other proof exists of such being the case, we are led to believe that the noise is produced by the lashing of the waves of the lake after a storm, as they are driven forward into the grottoes, caves, &c. of the tall sandstone cliffs, formed at their bases by the disintegrating effects of water and ice.  Some distance east of La Pointe, about the Little Girl’s Point and Montreal river, as well as west of the same place, some fifteen or twenty miles, high red sandstone cliffs occur.  At their bases, near the water’s edge, a great many curiously-shaped caves and grottoes appeared.  In places, the sandstone had been so cut away, that only pillars remained standing at some ten or fifteen feet in the lake, from the top of which a high rude arch would extend to the main shore, and beneath which boats could  easily pass.  This was particularly the case near where the islands are parted with going west up the southern shore of the lake.  Some caves, with small openings for mouths, run for a long distance back beneath the hills, expanding, likely, into large halls with high vaulted roofs, &c.  After a storm, a heavy sea continues to roll into these grottoes and caverns, the waves lashing themselves against their sides and roofs – thus producing sounds resembling those heard at La Pointe, &c.

As the weather is generally calm after a storm, before the sea goes down, it is likely at such times these sounds are heard.

We had occasion to pass these places when a considerable sea would be on, close to the cliffs, and could hear the hollow heavy sounds of the waves as they broke into the caverns within the cliffs and hills.  Every day, while we remained, parties of Indians continued to arrive, to be present at the payment.

James P. Hays was in charge of the La Point Indian Subagency (1844-1848).

We finally became prepared to leave for the Mississippi, having bought two bark canoes, and hired four new voyageurs – two for each canoe – one Indian, one half-breed, and two descendants of Canadian French; and, with a stock of provisions, we were ready to be off.  From this place, I sent back three voyageurs to the Sault Ste. Marie, all that I hired to come as far as La Pointe.  So, after paying our respects to Mr. Hays, our worthy Indian agent, and to Dr. Borup, (to both of whom I had borne letters of introduction,) and having many “bon voyages” heaped upon us by our friends and the friends of the voyageurs, we bade adieu to La Pointe.

You will not hear from me again till I reach the Falls of St. Croix.

I am yours, very truly, &c.

MORGAN.

 


 

To be continued in Saint Croix Falls

By Amorin Mello

A curious series of correspondences from Morgan

… continued from Copper Harbor.

 


 

1845 daily union header

The Daily Union (Washington D.C.)
“Liberty, The Union, And The Constitution.”
August 21, 1845.

 EDITOR’S CORRESPONDENCE.

[From our Regular Correspondent.]

THE COPPER REGION.

La Pointe, Lake Superior

July 28, 1845.

In my last brief letter from this place, I had not time to notice many things which I desired to describe. I have now examined the whole coast of the southern shore of Lake Superior, extending from the Sault Ste. Marie to La Pointe, including a visit to the Anse, and the doubling of Keweena point. During the trip, as stated previously, we had camped out twenty-one nights. I examined the mines worked by the Pittsburg company at Copper harbor, and those worked by the Boston company at Eagle river, as well as picked up all the information I could about other portions of the mineral district, both off and on shore. The object I had in view when visiting it, was to find out, as near as I could, the naked facts in relation to it. The distance of the lake-shore traversed by my part to La Pointe was about five hundred miles – consuming near four weeks’ time to traverse it. I have still before me a journey of three or four hundred miles before I reach the Mississippi river, by the way of the Brulé and St. Croix rivers. I know the public mind has been recently much excited in relation to the mineral region of country of Lake Superior, and that a great many stories are in circulation about it. I know, also, that what is said and published about it, will be read with more or less interest, especially by parties who have embarked in any of the speculations which have been got up about it. It is due to truth and candor, however, for me to declare it as my opinion, that the whole country has been overrated. That copper is found scattered over the country equal in extent to the trap-rock hills and conglomerate ledges, either in its native state, or in the form of a black oxide, as a green silicate, and, perhaps, in some other forms, cannot be denied;- but the difficulty, so far, seems to be that the copper ores are too much diffused, and that no veins such as geologist would term permanent have yet positively been discovered.

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 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.

The richest copper ore yet found is that raised from a vein of black oxide, at Copper harbor, worked by the Pittsburg company, which yields about seventy per cent. of pure copper. But this conglomerate cementation of trap-rock, flint, pebbles, &c., and sand, brought together in a fused black mass, (as is supposed, by the overflowings of the trap, of which the hills are composed near this place,) is exceedingly hard and difficult to blast. An opinion seems to prevail among many respectable geologist, that metallic veins found in conglomerate are never thought to be very permanent. Doctor Pettit, however, informed me that he had traced the vein for near a mile through the conglomerate, and into the hill of trap, across a small lake in the rear of Fort Wilkins. The direction of the vein is from northwest to southeast through the conglomerate, while the course of the lake-shore and hills at this place varies little from north and south. Should the doctor succeed in opening a permanent vein in the hill of trap opposite, of which he is sanguine, it is probable this mine will turn out to be exceedingly valuable. As to these matters, however, time alone, with further explorations, must determine. The doctor assured me that he was at present paying his way, in merely sinking shafts over the vein preparatory to mining operations; which he considered a circumstance favorable to the mine, as this is not of common occurrence.

The mines at Copper harbor and Eagle river are the only two as yet sufficiently broached to enable one to form any tolerably accurate opinion as to their value or prospects.

Edward Larned was the General Agent, and Charles Larned was the sub-Agent, of the New York and Lake Superior Mining Company.
Geologist James Eights “examined several claims of the New York and Lake Superior Mining Company, a group headquartered in Albany, and reported to the company’s trustee, General Gerrit V. Denniston, encouraging estimates that were included in the company’s first annual report.”
~ Encyclopedia of the Earth

Other companies are about commencing operations, or talk of doing so – such as a New York, or rather Albany company, calling themselves “The New York and Lake Superior Mining Company,” under the direction of Mr. Larned, of Albany, in whose service Dr. Euhts has been employed as geologist. They have made locations at various points – at Dead river, Agate harbor, and at Montreal river. I believe they have commenced mining to some extent at Agate harbor.

Joab Bernard was a Trustee of the Boston Mining Company.

One or two other Boston companies, besides that operating at Eagle river, have been formed with the design of operating at other points. Mr. Bernard, formerly of St. Louis, is at the head of one of them. Besides these, there is a kind of Detroit company, organized, it is said, for operating on the Ontonagon river. It has its head, I believe, in Detroit, and its tail almost everywhere. I have not heard of their success in digging, thus far; though they say they have found some valuable mines. Time must determine that. I wish it may be so.

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

Boston Mining Company stock issued by Joab Bernard in 1846.
~ Copper Country Reflections

From Copper harbor, I paid a visit to Eagle river – a small stream inaccessible to any craft larger than a moderate-sized Mackinac boat. There is only the open lake for a roadstead off its mouth, and no harbor nearer than Eagle harbor, some few miles to the east of it. In passing west from Copper harbor along the northern shore of Keweena point, the coast, almost from the extremity of Keweena point, to near Eagle river, is an iron-bound coast, presenting huge, longitudinal, black, irregular-shaped masses of trap-conglomerate, often rising up ten or fifteen feet high above water, at some distance from the main shore, leaving small sounds behind them, with bays, to which there are entrances through broken continuities of the advanced breakwater-like ledges. Copper harbor is thus formed by Porter’s island, on which the agency has been so injudiciously placed, and which is nothing but a conglomerate island of this character; with its sides next the lake raised by Nature, so as to afford a barrier against the waves that beat against it from without. The surface of the island over the conglomerate is made up of a mass of pebbles and fragmentary rock, mixed with a small portion of earth, wholly or quite incapable of cultivation. Fort Wilkins is located about two miles from the agency, on the main land, between which and the fort communication in winter is difficult, if not impossible. Of the inexcusable blunder made in putting this garrison on its present badly-selected site, I shall have occasion to speak hereafter.

"Grand Sable Dunes" ~ National Park Service

“Grand Sable Dunes”
~ National Park Service

In travelling up the coast from Sault Ste. Marie, the first 50 or 100 miles, the shore of Lake Superior exhibits, for much of the distance, a white sandy beach, with a growth of pines, silver fir, birch, &c., in the rear. This beach is strewed in places with much whitened and abraded drift-wood, thrown high on the banks by heavy waves in storms, and the action of ice in winter. This drift-wood is met with, at places, from one end of the lake to the other, which we found very convenient for firewood at our encampments. The sand on the southern shore terminates, in a measure, at Grand Sables, which are immense naked pure sand-hills, rising in an almost perpendicular form next to the lake, of from 200 to 300 feet high. Passing this section, we come to white sand-stone in the Pictured Rocks. Leaving these, we make the red sand-stone promontories and shore, at various points from this section, to the extreme end of the lake. It never afterwards wholly disappears. Between promontories of red stone are headlands, &c., standing out often in long, high irregular cliffs, with traverses of from 6, 7, to 8 miles from one to the other, while a kind of rounded bay stretches away inland, having often a sandy beach at its base, with pines growing in the forest in the rear. Into these bays, small rivers, nearly or quite shut in summer with sand, enter the lake.

The first trap-rock we met with, was near Dead river, and at some few points west of it. We then saw no more of it immediately on the coast, till we made the southern shore of Keweena point. All around the coast by the Anse, around Keweena bay, we found nothing but alternations of sand beaches and sand-stone cliffs and points. The inland, distant, and high hills about Huron river, no doubt, are mainly composed of trap-rock.

Going west from Eagle river, we soon after lost both conglomerate and trap-rock, and found, in their stead, our old companions – red sand-stone shores, cliffs, and promontories, alternating with sandy or gravelly beaches.

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 the 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

Major Campbell and the U.S. Mineral Agency appear to have been located at the mouth of the Ontonagon River, but were primarily based at Copper Harbor.

The trap-rock east and west of the Portage river rises with, and follows, the range of high hills running, at most points irregularly, from northeast to southwest, parallel with the lake shore. It is said to appear in the Porcupine mountain, which runs parallel with Iron river, and at right angles to the lake shore. This mountain is so named by the Indians, who conceived its principal ridge bore a likeness to a porcupine; but, to my fancy, it bears a better resemblance to a huge hog, with its snout stuck down at the lake-shore, and its back and tail running into the interior. This river and mountain are found about twenty miles west of the Ontonagon river, which is said to be the largest stream that empties into the lake. The site for a farm, or the location of an agency, at its mouth, is very beautiful, and admirably suited for either purpose. The soil is good; the river safe for the entrance and secure anchorage of schooners, and navigable to large barges and keel-boats for twelve miles above its mouth. The trap range, believed to be as rich in copper ores as any part of Lake Superior, crosses this river near its forks, about fifteen miles above its mouth. The government have organized a mineral agency at its mouth, and appointed Major Campbell as agent to reside at it; than whom, a better selection could not have been made.

Engraving depicting the Schoolcraft expedition crossing the Ontonagon River to investigate a copper boulder. ~ Wisconsin Historical Society

“Engraving depicting the Schoolcraft expedition crossing the Ontonagon River to investigate a copper boulder.”
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Detail of the Montreal River and Chequamegon bay from 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 the Montreal River, La Pointe, and Chequamegon bay from from Map of the Mineral Lands Upon Lake Superior Ceded to the United States by the Treaty of 1842 With the Chippeway Indians.
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

The nearest approach the trap-rock hills make to the lake-shore, beyond the Porcupine mountain, is on the Montreal river, a short distance above the falls. Beyond Montreal river, to La Pointe, we found red-clay cliffs, based on red sand-stone, to occur. Indeed, this combination frequently occurred at various sections of the coast – beginning, first, some miles west of the Portage.

From Copper harbor to Agate harbor is called 7 miles; to Eagle river, 20 miles; to the Portage, 40 miles; to the Ontonagon, 80 miles; to La Pointe, from Copper harbor, 170 miles. From the latter place to the river Brulé is about 70 miles; up which we expect to ascend for 75 miles, make a portage of three miles to the St. Croix river, and descend that for 300 miles to the Mississippi river.

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 Professor Douglass Houghton by Robert Thom. Houghton first explored the south shore of Lake Superior in 1840, and 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.

Going back to Eagle river, at the time of our visit, we found at the mine Mr. Henshaw, Mr. Williams, and Dr. Jackson of Boston, and Dr. Houghton of Michigan, who was passing from Copper harbor to meet his men at his principal camp on Portage river, which he expected to reach that night. The doctor is making a rapid and thorough survey of the country. This work he is conducting in a duplicate manner, under the authority of the United States government. It is both a topographical and geological survey. All his surveyors carry sacks, into which they put pieces of rock broken from every prominent mass they see, and carry into camp at night, for the doctor’s examination, from which he selects specimens for future use. The doctor, from possessing extraordinary strength of constitution, can undergo exposure and fatigue sufficient to break down some of the hardiest men that can be found in the West. He wears his beard as long as a Dunkard’s; has a coat and patched pants made of bed ticking; wears a flat-browned ash-colored, wool hat, and a piece of small hemp cord off a guard chain; and, with two half-breed Indians and a small dog as companions, embarks in a small bark, moving and travelling along the lake shore with great celerity.

THE PHŒNIX MINE.
Probably no company on Lake Superior has had a longer and harder struggle against adversity than the Phœnix. The original concern, the Lake Superior Copper Company, was among the first which operated at Lake Superior after the relinquishment of the Indian rights to this country in 1843. The trustees of this early organization were David Henshaw and Samuel Williams of Boston, and D. G. Jones and Col. Chas. H. Gratiot, of Detroit; Dr. Charles T. Jackson examined the veins on the property, and work was begun in the latter part of the year 1844. The company met with bad luck from the start, and, the capital stock having become exhausted, it has been reorganized several times in the course of its history.”
~ The Lake Superior Copper Properties: A Guide to Investors and Speculators in in Lake Superior Copper Shares Giving History, Products, Dividend Record and Future Outlook for Each Property, by Henry M. Pinkham, 1888, page 9.

We all sat down to dinner together, by invitation of Mr. Williams, and ate heartily of good, wholesome fare.

After dinner we paid a visit to the shafts at the mine, sunk to a considerable depth in two or three places. Only a few men were at work on one of the shafts; the others seemed to be employed on the saw-mill erecting near the mouth of the river. Others were at work in cutting timbers, &c.

They had also a crushing-mill in a state of forwardness, near the mine.

It is what has been said, and put forth about the value of this mineral deposite, which has done more to incite and feed the copper fever than all other things put together.

Portrait of Doctor Charles Thomas Jackson; Plate 11 of Contributions to the History of American Geology, opposite page 290.

Professor Charles Thomas Jackson
~ Contributions to the History of American Geology, plate 11, opposite page 290.

Dr. Jackson was up here last year, and has this year come up again in the service of the company. Without going very far to explore the country elsewhere, he has certainly been heard to make some very extravagant declarations about this mine,- such as that he “considered it worth a million of dollars;” that some of the ore raised was “worth $2,000 or $3,000 per ton!” So extravagant have been the talk and calculations about this mine, that shares (in its brief lease) have been sold, it is said, for $500 per share! – or more, perhaps!! No doubt, many members of the company are sincere, and actually believe the mine to be immensely valuable. Mr. Williams and General Wilson, both stockholders, strike a trade between themselves. One agrees or offers to give the other $36,000 for his interest, which the other consents to take. This transaction, under some mysterious arrangement, appears in the newspapers, and is widely copied.

Without wishing to give an opinion as to the value and permanency of this mine, (in which many persons have become, probably, seriously involved,) even were I as well qualified to do so as some others, I can only state what are the views of some scientific and practical gentlemen with whom I fell in while in the country, who were from the eastern cities, and carefully examined the famous Eagle river silver and copper mine. I do not allude to Dr. Houghton; for he declines to give an opinion to any one about any part of the country.

"The remarkable copper-silver "halfbreed" specimen shown above comes from northern Michigan's Portage Lake Volcanic Series, an extremely thick, Precambrian-aged, flood-basalt deposit that fills up an ancient continental rift valley." ~ Shared from James St. John under the Creative Commons license

“The remarkable copper-silver ‘halfbreed’ specimen shown above comes from northern Michigan’s Portage Lake Volcanic Series, an extremely thick, Precambrian-aged, flood-basalt deposit that fills up an ancient continental rift valley.”
~ Shared with a Creative Commons license from James St. John

They say this mine is a deposite mine of native silver and copper in pure trap-rock, and no vein at all; that it presents the appearance of these metals being mingled broadcast in the mass of trap-rock; that, in sinking a shaft, the constant danger is, that while a few successive blasts may bring up very rich specimens of the metals, the succeeding blast or stroke of the pick-axe may bring up nothing but plain rock. In other words, that, in all such deposite mines, including deposition of diffused particles of native meteals, there is no certainly their PERMANENT character. How far this mine will extend through the trap, or how long it will hold out, is a matter of uncertainty. Indeed, time alone will show.

It is said metallic veins are most apt to be found in a permanent form where the mountain limestone and trap come in contact.

I have no prejudice against the country, or any parties whatever. I sincerely wish the whole mineral district, and the Eagle mine in particular, were as rich as it has been represented to be. I should like to see such vast mineral wealth as it has been held forth to be, added to the resources of the country.

Doctor William Pettit was a Trustee of the Pittsburg and Boston Copper Harbor Mining Company.

Unless Dr. Pettit has succeeded in fixing the vein of black oxide in the side of the mountain or hill, it is believed by good judges that no permanent vein has yet been discovered, as far as has come to their knowledge, in the country!! That much of the conglomerate and trap-rock sections of the country, however, presents strong indications and widely diffused appearances of silver and copper ores, cannot be denied; and from the great number of active persons engaged in making explorations, it is possible, if not probable, that valuable veins may be discovered in some portions of the country.

To find such out, however, if they exist, unless by accident, must be the work of time and labor – perhaps of years – as the interior is exceedingly difficult, or rather almost impossible, to examine, on account of the impenetrable nature of the woods.

During our long and tedious journey, we were favored with a good deal of fine weather. We however experienced, first and last, five or six thunderstorms, and some tolerably severe gales.

Coasting for such a great length, and camping out at night, was not without some trials and odd incidents – mixed with some considerable hardships.

This beach is by Little Girls’ Point.

On the night before we reached La Pointe, we camped on a rough pebbly beach, some six or eight miles east of Montreal river, under the lea of some high clay cliffs. We kindled our fire on what appeared to be a clear bed of rather large and rounded stones, at the mouth of a gorge in the cliffs.

Topographic map of the gorge at Little Girls Point County Park. ~ United States Geological Society

Topographic map of the gorge in the cliffs at Little Girl’s Point County Park.
~ United States Geological Survey

Next morning early, the fire was rekindled at the same spot, although some rain had falled in the night it being still cloudy, and heavy thunder rolling, indicating an approaching storm. I had placed some potatoes in the fire to roast, while some of the voyageurs were getting other things ready for breakfast; but before we could get anything done, the rain down upon us in torrents. We soon discovered that we had kindled our fire in the bed of a wet weather creek. The water rapidly rose, put out the fire, and washed away my potatoes.

“Indian pone or cake” is frybread, adapted from bannock, which was introduced by fur traders, possibly with Scottish or British origins.

We had then to kindle a new fire at a higher place, which was commenced at the end of a small crooked log. One of the voyageurs had set the frying-pan on the fire with an Indian pone or cake an inch thick, and large enough to cover the bottom it. The under side had begun to bake; another hand had mixed the coffee, and set the coffee-pot on to boil; while a third had been nursing a pot boiling with pork and potatoes, which, as we were detained by rain, the voyageurs thought best to prepare for two meals. One of the part, unfortunately, not observing the connexion between the crooked pole, and the fire at the end of it, jumped with his whole weight on it, which caused it suddenly to turn. In its movement, it turned the frying-pan completely over on the sand, with its contents, which became plastered to the dirt. The coffee-pot was also trounced bottom upwards, and emptied its contents on the sand. The pot of potatoes and pork, not to be outdone, turned over directly into the fire, and very nearly extinguished it. We had, in a measure, to commence operations anew, it being nearly 10 o’clock before we could get breakfast. When near the Madelaine islands, (on the largest of which La Pointe is situated,) the following night, our pilot, amidst the darkness of the evening, got bewildered for a time, when we thought best to land and camp; which, luckily for us, was at a spot within sight of La Pointe. Many trifling incidents of this character befell us in our long journey.

Legend of the Montreal River is a story about an Indian settlement at the mouth of the Montreal River.
Gichi-waabizheshi (Big Marten) is an example of how Chippewa bands and their leaders were not fixed to one position – geographically or politically – and changed fluidly over time.
 1842 Treaty with the Chippewas at La Pointe;
Lake Bands:
“Ki ji ua be she shi, 1st [Chief].
Ke kon o tum, 2nd
[Chief].”
Pelican Lake:
“Ke-che-waub-e-sash-e, his x mark.
Nig-gig, his x mark.”
1847 Treaty with the Chippewas at Fond du Lac;
Pelican Lakes
:
Kee-che-waub-ish-ash, 1st chief, his x mark.
Nig-gig, 2d chief, his x mark.
“Ke-che-waw-be-shay-she, or the Big Martin, 2d chief, his x mark. [L. S.].
Waw-be-shay-sheence, headman, his x mark. [L. S.].”

At the mouth of the Montreal river, we fell in with a party of seventeen Indians, composed of old Martin and his band, on their way to La Pointe, to be present at the payment expected to take place about the 15th of August.

They had their faces gaudily painted with red and blue stripes, with the exception of one or two, who had theirs painted quite black, and were said to be in mourning on account of deceased friends. They had come from Pelican lake (or, as the French named it, Lac du Flambeau,) being near the headwaters of the Wisconsin river, and one hundred and fifty miles distant. They had with them their wives; children, dogs, and all, walked the whole way. They told our pilot, Jean Baptiste, himself three parts Indian, that they were hungry, and had no canoe with which to get on to La Pointe. We gave them some corn meal, and received some fish from them for a second supply. For the Indians, if they have anything they think you want, never offer generally to sell it to you, till they have first begged all they can; then they will produce their fish, &c., offering to trade; for which they expect an additional supply of the article you have been giving them. Baptiste distributed among them a few twists of tobacco, which seemed very acceptable. Old Martin presented Baptiste with a fine specimen of native copper which he had picked up somewhere on his way – probably on the headwaters of the Montreal river. He desired us to take one of his men with us to La Pointe, in order that he might carry a canoe back to the party, to enable them to reach La Pointe the next day, which we accordingly complied with. We dropped him, however, at his own request, on the point of land some miles south of La Pointe, where he said he had an Indian acquaintance, who hailed him from shore.

Having reached La Pointe, we were prepared to rest a few days, before commencing our voyage to the Mississippi river.

Of things hereabouts, and in general, I will discourse in my next.

In great haste I am,

Very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

MORGAN.

 


 

To be continued in La Pointe

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

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

Roderick MacKenzie (Wikimedia Commons)

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

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

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

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

[pg. 49-56]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[pg. 75-76]

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

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

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

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

CAUTION:  This translation was made using Google Translate by someone who neither speaks nor reads German.  It should not be considered accurate by scholarly standards.

When we last left Moritz Wagner and Carl Scherzer, the two Austrian adventurers who traveled across Lake Superior in 1852, they had avoided certain death when caught in a storm halfway through the crossing between Bad River and La Pointe.  In this post, we find them on Madeline Island in the wee hours of the morning, looking for a place to stay.

In the three days they spent in La Pointe, they produced a description of the island as colorful as any I’ve come across.  Enjoy: 

A View of La Pointe from Report of a Geological Survey of Wisconsin, Iowas, and Minnesota (1852) by David Dale Owen (Digitized by Google Books)

XXI

From Ontonagon to the mouth of the Bois-brule River–Canoe ride to Magdalen Island–Porcupine Mountains–Camping in the open air–A dangerous canoe landing at night–A hospitable Jewish family–The island of La Pointe–The American Fur Company–The voyageurs or courriers de bois–Old Buffalo, the 90 year-old Chippewa chief–A schoolhouse and an examination–The Austrian Franciscan monk–Sunday mass and reflections on the Catholic missions–Continuing the journey by sail–Nous sommes degrades–A canoeman and apostle of temperance–Fond du lac–Sauvons-nous!

It was 1 o’clock in the morning, and the whole settlement was in a deep sleep. We were at a loss as to which door to knock at. Among 200 Indians, only a few white families live there. One of the boatmen gave us a name, with which we found Mr. Austrian (a name meaning Oestreicher) a descendent of the Mosaic.

We knocked confidently by rattling at the window showing the distinguishing hemp of Austrian. We have always had a favorable bias for our Jewish countrymen in this nation. They have brought over so many ancient patriarchal customs of antiquity unadulterated, faithful, and pure in their sympathetic breasts. Here the noble manners of hospitality sweep away the cold breath of selfishness found among the Americans. The Jews are always ready to welcome strangers and donate a warm and magnanimous hand with every occasion.

They opened and the young doorman yelled out to the person in the next room, “Joe, steh auf, Leut from below, sind da!” and because it could not be doubted that we were, “One of our people!” We were then bombarded with all the tastes of the kosher delicatessen: belek, kugel, kindeln, and other tidbits of the Jewish frying pan. We were offered a nice, clean room and did not suspect that the close Yom Kippur (Jewish fast day) should frustrate our feast.

Jewish-immigrant brothers, Julius and Joseph Austrian, were prominent La Pointe residents at this time.

Jewish-immigrant brothers, Julius and Joseph Austrian, were prominent La Pointe residents at this time.  This image depicts an incident from Benjamin Armstrong’s Early Life Among the Indians (Engraving by Marr & Richards Co.).

17 September, early, 61° Fahr. The actual owner of the home was absent. However, his younger brother received us with all the warmth of a Bayreuth Jew. He had only been in the country a short time, and spoke English with a Spanish-sounding accent as he called to us in the room, “Waken sie!” He showed us a pair of Indian snowshoes, and asked, “Haben sie snow shoes noch nie geused?*” He finally told of the fish trade in the same mixed gibberish, “Below werden die Fische umgepakt, inspected, und dann weider vereignepakt again.”

(*German immigrants all have a peculiar manner of acquiring the English language. As they hear a strange new name, they mix it together immediately with the words of their native language, without regard for how the expression works in English. A carpenter told us, “Wenn sie ein loghouse bauen wollen un dasselbe inwendig geplastered und von außen geclapboarded wird, so wird es 700 dollars kosten!”

In Pennsylvania, all counties speak an unintelligible German-English slang. It may be that after a few generations, a whole new language is emerging. So, some German immigrants are a tragic example of how one can forget his native language without having to learn another language as a substitute.)

La Pointe is the largest of several islands known under the collective name of Isles des Apotres. It has an unusual history. One of the earliest points on Lake Superior where men of faith planted the cross of salvation in 1665, it wasn’t until a century later that the progress of civilization began to push the two and four-legged forest dwellers further and further west . For several years it was the home depot (post) of the Fur Trading Company. This trading company was founded in 1808 by John Jacob Astor as the American Fur Trading Company, by an act of law of the State of New York. It granted exclusive right of trade and intercourse with the Indians, and in earlier times, provided an immense source of power and wealth. Currently, the business is divided between a Company of the West and the North West, of which the latter united with the Hudson’s Bay Company* and created unrestricted competition and limited the field of activity. The company of the west, currently under the leadership of J. Chouteau and Company, trades with the Indians of the Missouri and Mississippi. Its headquarters are at the upper Mississippi. The company owns 25 stations (trading posts) employing 200 voyageurs who take care of transporting commodities in the business season and bring the furs to the businesses located in St. Paul, Mendota, and Crow Wing in the Minnesota Territory.

(*[This footnote goes on for several pages on the history and structure of the Hudson Bay Company. As it interrupts the narrative, and can be found in other sources, I’ve omitted it.])

The different Indian tribes will kill the animals of the forest in the course of the year and then gather at certain points for the individual bands. Every year there is a caravan of agents (traders) of the fur company who obtain this rich quantity of valuable animal skins from the ignorant Indians for a lowly price of trade items.

This commercial agent will bring birch canoes full of presents across Lake Superior, and usually in 26 to 30 days will bring back the skins of bears, wolves, silver and other foxes, beavers, raccoon, martens, wolverine, otters, muskrats, weasels, and buffalos. Whether their fate is to be a winter covering for the delicate lady’s hands or the lining of a skirt in the princely salons is yet to be determined.

Next door, in perhaps richer numbers and selection, but certainly of far less value, are items of the clever broker. The eyes glare as he flaunts his manufactures. One sees, woolen blankets, cloth fabrics, firearms, ammunition, tin kettles, earrings, finger rings, brass buttons, breastplates, wampum, chopping knives, birch canoes, and mirrors. There is makeup of red, blue, black, and green color, but all the items together carry only one color, that of speculation and dizzying purpose.

Although the furs are barter items, they have an adopted value determined so that the price of the animal fur always corresponds with a certain number of exchanged wares. But the furs are usually valued very low and in contrast, the reverse items are priced very high. The total traffic area with the Indians in the West should produce 1 million dollars annually. Together, the furs are shipped, via New York, to London which is the main market for the American fur trade.

Since we did not visit these remote areas during the season of barter, we could not bear witness to this certainly most-interesting and instructive spectacle, but we cannot omit some words and impart some pressure as we become aware of the facts which throw a sad light on the business of the whites with the Indians. We believe it is the same, and more truthful, to be told as it is by Schoolcraft, the highly-respected American historian, on his travels among the tribes on Lake Superior.

A shotgun worth 10 guineas was sold by an agent to an Indian chief for 120 pounds of beaver skins, or 480 dollars of value. A caravan of 6 bales of barter commodities was traded for $2000. In Athabasca, 96 sacks of beaver skins weighing 8640 pounds brought back four dollars of value when their real worth was $34,560!

Another scholarly researcher, Coldon,writing in 1741 in the area of the Five Nations, describes how the whites in general and the traders in particular, create debts. The vice of drunkenness among the wild Indians occurs so frequently because the greed of the traders allows them to shrink to the lowest means and intentionally put the foolish aborigines in a state of intoxication causing an even more advantageous position for fraud. This evil passion has wreaked more havoc among the Indians than disease or war. It has destroyed more than instruction in Christianity could ever be capable of building up.

Among the Indian tribes there is a strongly-held opinion that if you murder a fur trader, he will retaliate by intentionally bringing back infected goods.* This belief probably arose from the sensitivity caused by the way the whiteskins associate with the redskins. They treat the actual natives of American soil as their subjects and servants, and consider it their privilege to satisfy their greed and passion and claim material and bodily impunity.**

(*[Here the authors insert an extensive footnote about smallpox infections in the Lake Superior region. As it disrupts the narrative and is information that can be found in Schoolcraft’s Narrative of an Expedition Through the Upper Mississippi River to Itasca Lake, I’ve omitted it here.])

(**Two residents of La Pointe told us how a former agent convinced several Indians and mix-bloods to entrust him with their savings due to them from the sale of the Indian country to the government. He used the advantage of his position to gain their trust and did not issue receipts for the borrowed. He had about $800 from everyone but when it was claimed, the fraudulent agent told them they would have to be content with repayment in commodities, flour, sausage, and potatoes, for which the he charged an exorbitant price. We started this narrative not wanting to believe it, but two good Catholics swore on the host. The agent has since left this island, to general contempt, taking the gold pieces of the Indians with him.)

The Voyageurs (1846) by Charles Deas (Wikimedia Images)

After this discussion of the of the rates of the American Fur Company and its agents, we want to add some details about the men whose labor and time exerted such a great influence on the fate and culture of the Indian tribes. We wish to add a few explanatory words about the sad presence on La Pointe of the voyageurs or courriers du bois.

This peculiar class of people, which is like a vein of metal that suddenly disappears within the bedrock and reappears many hundreds of miles away under the same geological conditions, their light reaches the borders of the eastern Canadas. The British people, with their religion and customs, reappeared on the shores of these northern lakes only in 1808 with the Fur Company. For labor they drew on those who could carry their wares across the lakes and communicate with the Indians.

Many young men of adventurous natures left the old wide streets of Montreal and moved into the trackless primeval forests of the West. Young and strong as laborers, they soon started to adopt the lifestyle and language of the aborigines. They married with the Indians and inhabit small settlements scattered throughout those mighty lands which begin at Mackinow Island and come up the upper lake to the region of Minnesota. They almost all speak the Canadian patois along with the language of the Chippewas, the tribe with which they came into kinship. We found only a few, even among the younger generation, who understood English.

Since then, every day the population of the otherwise deserted shore of Lake Superior increases with the discovery of copper mines. The animals driven away by the whirlwind of civilization toward the west, attract the Indians with their sensitive guns, leaving La Pointe, abandoned by the Company for their headquarters at St. Paul in Minnesota. Most voyageurs left the island, having seen their business in ruins and lacking their former importance. Just a few families remain here, making a meager livelihood of hunting, fishing, and the occasional convoy of a few travelers led by business, science, or love of nature who purchase their limited resources.*

(*Except for us, this year they had only two travelers visit this area for scientific interest. The scarcity of this type of tourist seems to be the reason why the price the voyageurs and their companions ask is high. We paid all our leaders one and one half dollars a day and just as many for the days necessary for their return. The voyageurs are democratic and truly similar to those Alpine villagers who charged the emperor two Louis d’or for a breakfast of two eggs.)

A devout Franciscan friar, the family of a Methodist preacher, a school teacher, and a skilled tradesman, together with some old canoe houses, remains of the once large voyageur legion, make up the small numbers of the white population.

The island is 15 miles long, 5.6 miles wide, and has 30 miles in circumference. The main formation is sandstone and red clay. Vegetation proliferates in spruce, pine, cedar, birch, tamarack (Larix americana), etc. The oval horseshoe shape of the island makes it one of the best ports of the entirety of Lake Superior, and this, despite current unemployment, promises hope for a comfortable future.

Add to that, the infinite abundance of fish on their shores. Delicious, but only edible in the spring, are the Siscawit (Salmo siscowet), and the trout (Salmo amethystus). The whitefish (Coregonus albus) are available in uncommon quantities. The most successful fishmonger here sent during the past years, 300 barrels of various species of fish, each 200 pounds, to the markets of Cleveland and Detroit.

The Siscowet, or Fat Trout, is a subspecies of Lake Trout (Drawn by David Starr Jordan, and Barton Warren Evermann, 1911; Digitized by University of Washington)

At the invitation of the zealous schoolteacher*, we toured the schoolhouse. Here we met Old Buffalo (Chi Waishki or Pezhickee), the 90-year-old hereditary chief of the Chippewa band. He was wrapped in a blue striped shirt and a wool blanket. He carried a royal scepter made from a broken wooden base of a bed as a symbol of his authority. He was looking for some glue to repair a garment for a young Indian. We find it necessary here to mention that of the many Chippewas on this island, very few are full-blood Indians. Having crossed frequently with the European race, and through the efforts of Christian missionaries, they have adopted the habits of civilization. They inhabit the abandoned wooden shacks of the Fur Company, and are even given to industrial employment.

(*Mr. Pulcifer, the schoolmaster is a highly-educated teacher. He gives the Sabbath service in the absence of the Methodist preacher. The Methodist mission on the island of La Pointe was founded in 1831).

The Indian chief, worthy by his age, heredity, and his imposing figure, told us he was born near the island and left the area only once to travel in the matters of his tribe to the Great Father* in Washington. His stay was accompanied by many consoling words but little actual success. Since then, he’s been back to the chase. One winter, he brought in 150 fox skins. Despite this wealth of skins in a game-rich area, he is now poor. Here we have the hereditary Chippewa chief, whose generations (totem) are carved in the ancient birch bark,** giving us profuse thanks for just a modest silver coin and a piece of dry cloth. What time can bring to a ruler!

(*”Great Father” is what the Indians call the President and other agents of the United States government.)

(**Almost all Indian tribes have the custom of preserving their lineage from oblivion by carving characters, that correspond to the names of their tribe, on trees, canoes, weapons and everywhere else.

Strangely, we later learned that the majestic Old Buffalo was violently opposed for years to the education and spiritual progress of the Indians. Probably, it’s because he suspected a better instructed generation would no longer obey. Presently, he tacitly accepts the existence of the school and even visits sometimes, where like ourselves, he has the opportunity to see the gains made in this school with its stubborn, fastidious look of an old German high council.)

Although made of simple planks, the school hall is clean and well-ventilated. The youth, consisting of 25 mix-blooded children, are instructed by the Methodist teachers in reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, and natural history. The teacher takes 6 to 8 children to the teacher’s desk and tells them to read their lessons or recite them from memory. Most often, there are questions which are subjected to discussion, questions that relate to the everyday world. This gives the youth the advantage of preparation for practical life.*

(*One of these practical textbooks is similar to Guide to Knowledge, a popular textbook in England: Conversations on common things by a teacher. Boston, Munroe and Francis. 1849.)

For example, a student may read a sentence in which the word “lead” occurs. This immediately gives rise to an instructive conversation about this noble metal, such as where lead is most found, what it is used for, the compounds in which it is used, etc. The youth, by learning this way about various natural phenomena, learns at the same time to know and admire the sources of a country’s wealth. It is an early and delicate way to teach the students the important parts of the geographical, physical, and political history of the country before their own history.

The front page of the Kladderadatsh, a German-languague satirical newspaper published in Berlin. Despite it’s popularity among the masses in Europe, I’m not sure the kids in La Pointe had subscriptions (Wikimedia Images).

At the conclusion of the lesson, the older children, by their own reflection but encouraged by their teacher, asked us several questions about European life: if many European children went to school, and what they learned there…

It was shamefully difficult answering these simple questions asked by the children.

We told these smart young half-Indians that here in Europe the same God lives and moves as in their hemisphere, and that His sun is the only true light that rises for the peoples of the East. We replied further that children learn a tremendous amount but usually know incredibly little, and finally, that the Berliner Kladderadatsch is the most widely read political journal. This last answer left the little indigene who asked the pointed questions bewildered and seemed to discourage the asking of any further information about Europe. At that point, the school meeting was cancelled to our great relief.

Another no-less worthy host received us with warm greetings of the heart. It was the worthy Franciscan monk, Father Scolla, from Rudolphswerth in Carinthia. We went to deliver the pleasure of a recommendation to our pious countryman. We knocked at the meager gate of the little boarded house that grew out from the rear part of the church. We are now almost ashamed of the worldly manner in which we approached, given the distinguished reception we received at the hands of such a pious priest.

Alternate translation of this passage found in History of the diocese of Sault Ste, Marie and Marquette  (1906) by Antoine Ivan Rezek pg.367 (Digitized by Google Books)

Our traveling way of life often finds us witness to scenes of parting, separation, and reunion, but we have never seen any man become so pale, taken, and overcome with intimate emotion as this Franciscan when he learned through language and handshake that we were compatriots from the Imperial City.

We can reasonably account for this surprise in that almost 20 years had passed since the lone missionary had seen a countryman “of the Imperial City” and had been addressed in his language, and felt the warm shake of an Austrian hand. His whole religious intercourse with the faithful, be it preaching the gospel at the pulpit, forgiving sin in confessional, or donating food for the journey to the deathbed, happens in a foreign tongue, in French and Indian language.

What troubled us most about his monastic life was the poverty and helplessness with which this devout priest remains continually fights to preach the Way. The greater part of his church consists of converted Indians and mix-bloods, who all live in such poor circumstances that there is no thought of support for this priest. The maintenance costs for the church and its priests must therefore be restricted to those means which fall from the general missionary funds of the Catholic Church.

The quota, that makes its way to the Church of Our Lady of La Pointe, is extremely low, and sometimes isn’t received for so many years that one gets the impression that the bishop in Milwaukee has forgotten the lonely forests of Madeline Island, its Lady, and Father Scolla. The pious Franciscan, whose destitution has denied him any assistance in church and house, must therefore do as priests and lay ministers do. He decorates and adorns the high altar, paints the images of saints, rings the bell, and worries about the upkeep of his small house at the same time.

cntd. translation in Rezek pg.368

On the Sunday before we left, we attended the service. The small church was quite filled with Indian women, mix-bloods, and Canadian voyageurs. The women wore long cloth of dark green, blue, and black covering them from hips to head and wrapping them in one whole soft shape. The men were all dressed in European clothing. During the vicarious sacrifice of the mass, four half-Indians in white surplices sang the Latin text shouldering such edification that you would have sworn they understood every word.

The sermon was held in French, the most common language of the island, and it was appropriate for the comprehension of the people in the audience. In the afternoon, the tireless Franciscan monk preaches in Indian for his neophytes, which prevents age from weakening his intellectual ability to learn a foreign tongue.

Much more edification of the faithful would have prevailed if not for the wailing cries of the infants disturbed by the devotion, who were brought along on the backs of the countless “squaws.” But these grumpy little citizens of the world seemed to understand even less than the adult choir of the plot of the Latin score.

Fr. Otto Skolla was from Novo Mesto (Rudolfswert) in today’s Slovenia not far from the Slovenian homeland of his fellow Lake Superior priest, Bishop Frederick Baraga (Rezek pg. 360)

When we speak of the conviction in his calling and pure enthusiasm of the priest’s benediction, of the faithful community dropping to their knees, covering their faces, and reverently making the sign of the cross, we could not help but feel sadness that such a worthy and pious work could not flourish better due to a lack of temporal goods.

What ability to spread blessings the Catholic missionary would have if equipped with the necessary material resources: a teacher for the youth, a doctor for the sick, a support for the poor. How can the Church win over humanity when right now the distressing spectacle is such that the Catholic youth, lacking the funds for a teacher, get no education, and the narrow-minded principles of their spiritual board keep them from getting permission to attend the Methodist school?

If you watch the incredible speed of the other religious sects, such as the Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians, and the extraordinary sums taken in and put out for education and missionary purposes– they have missionaries in all ports in the Union–and how without consideration of their religion, they receive immigrants, comfort the sick, the suffering, and take care of the children, while the Herald of Catholic teaching to foreign lands moves slowly. It may not surprise you, especially here in the United States that foreign religious sects are gaining converts while the ranks of the Catholic Church, despite the massive influx of Catholic populations from Ireland and Germany, not only aren’t increasing, but are actually seeing a decrease in numbers.

The Catholic church on Madeline Island as drawn by Skolla (Rezek pg.361).

CAUTION:  This translation was made using Google Translate by someone who neither speaks nor reads German.  It should not be considered accurate by scholarly standards.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Fun With Maps

June 28, 2013

I’m someone who loves a good historical map, so one of my favorite websites is memory.loc.gov, the digital collections of the Library of Congress.  You can spend hours zooming in on neat vintage maps.  This post has snippets from eleven of them, stretching from 1674 to 1843.  They are full of cool old inaccuracies, but they also highlight important historical trends and eras in our history.  This should not be considered an exhaustive survey of the best maps out there, nor is it representative of all the LOC maps.  Really, it’s just 11 semi-random maps with my observations on what I found interesting.  Click on any map to go to the Library of Congress site where you can browse more of it.  Enjoy:

French 1674

Nouvelle decouverte de plusieurs nations dans la Nouvelle France en l’année 1673 et 1674 by Louis Joliet.  Joliet famously traveled from the Great Lakes down the Mississippi with the Jesuit Jacques Marquette in 1673.

  • Cool trees.
  • Baye des Puans: The French called the Ho-Chunk Puans, “Stinky People.”  That was a translation of the Ojibwe word Wiinibiigoo (Winnebago), which means “stinky water people.”  Green Bay is “green” in summer because of the stinky green algae that covers it.  It’s not surprising that the Ho-Chunk no longer wish to be called the Winnebago or Puans.
  • 8tagami:  The French used 8 in Indian words for the English sound “W.”  8tagami (Odagami) is the Ojibwe/Odawa/Potawatomi word for the Meskwaki (Fox) People.
  • Nations du Nord:  To the French, the country between Lake Superior and Hudson Bay was the home of “an infinity of nations,” (check out this book by that title) small bands speaking dialects of Ojibwe, Cree, and Assiniboine Sioux.
  • The Keweenaw is pretty small, but Lake Superior has generally the right shape.

French 1688

Carte de l’Amerique Septentrionnale by Jean Baptiste Louis Franquelin:  Franquelin created dozens of maps as the royal cartographer and hydrographer of New France.

  • Lake Superior is remarkably accurate for this time period.
  • Nations sous le nom d’Outouacs:  “Nations under the name of Ottawas”–the French had a tendency to lump all Anishinaabe peoples in the west (Ojibwe, Ottawa, Potawatomi, etc.) under the name Outouais or Outouacs.
  • River names, some are the same and some have changed.  Bois Brule (Brule River) in French is “burnt wood” a translation of the Ojibwe wiisakode.  I see ouatsicoto inside the name of the Brule on this map (Neouatsicoton), but I’m not 100% sure that’s wiisakode. Piouabic (biwaabik is Ojibwe word for Iron) for the Iron River is still around.  Mosquesisipi (Mashkiziibi) or Swampy River is the Ojibwe for the Bad River.
  • Madeline Island is Ile. St. Michel, showing that it was known at “Michael’s Island” a century before Michel Cadotte established his fur post.
  • Ance Chagoüamigon:  Point Chequamegon

French 1703

Carte de la riviere Longue : et de quelques autres, qui se dechargent dans le grand fleuve de Missisipi [sic] … by Louis Armand the Baron de Lahontan.  Baron Lahontan was a military officer of New France who explored the Mississippi and Missouri River valleys.

  • Lake Superior looks quite strange.
  • “Sauteurs” and Jesuits at Sault Ste. Marie:  the French called the Anishinaabe people at Sault Ste. Marie (mostly Crane Clan) the Sauteurs or Saulteaux, meaning “people of the falls.”  This term came to encompass most of the people who would now be called Ojibwe.
  • Fort Dulhut:  This is not Duluth, Minnesota, but rather Kaministiquia (modern-day Thunder Bay).  It is named for the same person–Daniel Greysolon, the Sieur du Lhut (Duluth).
  • Riviere Du Tombeau:  “The River of Tombs” at the west end of the Lake is the St. Croix River, which does not actually flow into Lake Superior but connects it to the Mississippi over a short portage from the Brule River.
  • Chagouamigon (Chequamegon) is placed much too far to the east.
  • The Fox River is gigantic flowing due east rather than north into Green Bay.  We see the “Savage friends of the French:” Outagamis (Meskwaki/Fox), Malumins (Menominee), and Kikapous (Kickapoo).

French 1742

Carte des lacs du Canada by Jacques N. Bellin 1742.  Bellin was a famous European mapmaker who compiled various maps together.  The top map is a detail from the Carte de Lacs.  The bottom one is from a slightly later map.

  • Of the maps shown so far, this has the best depiction of Chequamegon, but Lake Superior as a whole is much less accurate than on Franquelin’s map from fifty years earlier.
  • The mysterious “Isle Phillipeaux,” a second large island southeast of Isle Royale shows prominently on this map.  Isle Phillipeaux is one of those cartographic oddities that pops up on maps for decades after it first appears even though it doesn’t exist.
  • Cool river names not shown on Franquelin’s map:  Atokas (Cranberry River) and Fond Plat “Flat-bottom” (Sand River)
  • The region west of today’s Herbster, Wisconsin is lablled “Papoishika.”  I did an extensive post about an area called Ka-puk-wi-e-kah in that same location.
  • Ici etoit une Bourgade Considerable:  “Here there was a large village.”  This in reference to when Chequamegon was a center for the Huron, Ottawa (Odawa) and other refugee nations of the Iroquois Wars in the mid-1600s.
  • “La Petite Fille”:  Little Girl’s Point.
  • Chequamegon Bay is Baye St. Charles
  • Catagane: Kakagon, Maxisipi: Mashkizibi
  • The islands are “The 12 Apostles.”

British 1778

A new map of North America, from the latest discoveries 1778. Engrav’d for Carver’s Travels.  In 1766 Jonathan Carver became one of the first Englishmen to pass through this region.  His narrative is a key source for the time period directly following the conquest of New France, when the British claimed dominion over the Great Lakes.

  • Lake Superior still has two giant islands in the middle of it.
  • The Chipeway (Ojibwe), Ottaway (Odawa), and Ottagamie (Meskwaki/Fox) seem to have neatly delineated nations. The reality was much more complex.  By 1778, the Ojibwe had moved inland from Lake Superior and were firmly in control of areas like Lac du Flambeau and Lac Courte Oreilles, which had formerly been contested by the Meskwaki.

Dutch 1805

Charte von den Vereinigten Staaten von Nord-America nebst Louisiana by F.L. Gussefeld:  Published in Europe.

  • The Dutch never had a claim to this region.  In fact, this is a copy of a German map.  However, it was too cool-looking to pass up.
  • Over 100 years after Franquelin’s fairly-accurate outline of Lake Superior, much of Europe was still looking at this junk.
  • “Ober See” and Tschippeweer” are funny to me.
  • Isle Phillipeau is hanging on strong into the nineteenth century.

American 1805

A map of Lewis and Clark’s track across the western portion of North America, from the Mississippi to the Pacific Ocean : by order of the executive of the United States in 1804, 5 & 6 / copied by Samuel Lewis from the original drawing of Wm. Clark.   This map was compiled from the manuscript maps of Lewis and Clark.

  • The Chequamegon Region supposedly became American territory with the Treaty of Paris in 1783.  The reality on the ground, however, was that the Ojibwe held sovereignty over their lands. The fur companies operating in the area were British-Canadian, and they employed mostly French-Ojibwe mix-bloods in the industry.
  • This is a lovely-looking map, but it shows just how little the Americans knew about this area.  Ironically, British Canada is very well-detailed, as is the route of Lewis and Clark and parts of the Mississippi that had just been visited by the American, Lt. Zebulon Pike.
  • “Point Cheganega” is a crude islandless depiction of what we would call Point Detour.
  • The Montreal River is huge and sprawling, but the Brule, Bad, and Ontonagon Rivers do not exist.
  • To this map’s credit, there is only one Isle Royale.  Goodbye Isle Phillipeaux.  It was fun knowing you.
  • It is striking how the American’s had access to decent maps of the British-Canadian areas of Lake Superior, but not of what was supposedly their own territory.

English 1811

A new map of North America from the latest authorities By John Cary of London.  This map was published just before the outbreak of war between Britain and the United States.

  • These maps are starting to look modern.  The rivers are getting more accurate and the shape of Lake Superior is much better–though the shoreline isn’t done very well.
  • Burntwood=Brule, Donagan=Ontonagon
  • The big red line across Lake Superior is the US-British border.  This map shows Isle Royale in Canada.  The line stops at Rainy Lake because the fate of the parts of Minnesota and North Dakota in the Hudson Bay Watershed (claimed by the Hudson Bay Company) was not yet settled.
  • “About this place a settlement of the North West Company”:  This is Michel Cadotte’s trading post at La Pointe on Madeline Island.  Cadotte was the son of a French trader and an Anishinaabe woman, and he traded for the British North West Company.
  • It is striking that a London-made map created for mass consumption would so blatantly show a British company operating on the American side of the line.  This was one of the issues that sparked the War of 1812.  The Indian nations of the Great Lakes weren’t party to the Treaty of Paris and certainly did not recognize American sovereignty over their lands.  They maintained the right to have British traders. America didn’t see it that way.

American 1820

Map of the United States of America : with the contiguous British and Spanish possessions / compiled from the latest & best authorities by John Melish

  • Lake Superior shape and shoreline are looking much better.
  • Bad River is “Red River.”  I’ve never seen that as an alternate name for the Bad.  I’m wondering if it’s a typo from a misreading of “bad”
  • Copper mines are shown on the Donagon (Ontonagon) River.  Serious copper mining in that region was still over a decade away.  This probably references the ancient Indian copper-mining culture of Lake Superior or the handful of exploratory attempts by the French and British.
  • The Brule-St. Croix portage is marked “Carrying Place.”
  • No mention of Chequamegon or any of the Apostle Islands–just Sand Point.
  • Isle Phillipeaux lives!  All the way into the 1820s!  But, it’s starting to settle into being what it probably was all along–the end of the Keweenaw mistakenly viewed from Isle Royale as an island rather than a peninsula.

American 1839 

From the Map of Michigan and part of Wisconsin Territory, part of the American Atlas produced under the direction of U.S. Postmaster General David H. Burr.

  • Three years before the Ojibwe cede the Lake Superior shoreline of Wisconsin, we see how rapidly American knowledge of this area is growing in the 1830s.
  • The shoreline is looking much better, but the islands are odd.  Stockton (Presque Isle) and Outer Island have merged into a huge dinosaur foot while Madeline Island has lost its north end.
  • Weird river names:  Flagg River is Spencer’s, Siskiwit River is Heron, and Sand River is Santeaux. Fish Creek is the gigantic Talking Fish River, and “Raspberry” appears to be labeling the Sioux River rather than the farther-north Raspberry River.
  • Points:  Bark Point is Birch Bark, Detour is Detour, and Houghton is Cold Point. Chequamegon Point is Chegoimegon Point, but the bay is just “The Bay.”
  • The “Factory” at Madeline Island and the other on Long Island refers to a fur post.  This usage is common in Canada:  Moose Factory, York Factory, etc.  At this time period, the only Factory would have been on Madeline.
  • The Indian Village is shown at Odanah six years before Protestant missionaries supposedly founded Odanah. A commonly-heard misconception is that the La Pointe Band split into Island and Bad River factions in the 1840s. In reality, the Ojibwe didn’t have fixed villages.  They moved throughout the region based on the seasonal availability of food.  The traders were on the island, and it provided access to good fishing, but the gardens, wild rice, and other food sources were more abundant near the Kakagon sloughs.  Yes, those Ojibwe married into the trading families clustered more often on the Island, and those who got sick of the missionaries stayed more often at Bad River (at least until the missionaries followed them there), but there was no hard and fast split of the La Pointe Band until long after Bad River and Red Cliff were established as separate reservations.

American 1843

Hydrographical basin of the upper Mississippi River from astronomical and barometrical observations, surveys, and information by Joseph Nicollet.  Nicollet is considered the first to accurately map the basin of the Upper Mississippi.  His Chequamegon Region is pretty good also.

  • You may notice this map decorating the sides of the Chequamegon History website.
  • This post mentions this map and the usage of Apakwa for the Bark River.
  • As with the 1839 map, this map’s Raspberry River appears to be the Sioux rather than the Miskomin (Raspberry) River.
  • Madeline Island has a little tail, but the Islands have their familiar shapes.
  • Shagwamigon, another variant spelling
  • Mashkeg River:  in Ojibwe the Bad River is Mashkizibi (Swamp River).  Mashkiig is the Ojibwe word for swamp.  In the boreal forests of North America, this word had migrated into English as muskeg.  It’s interesting how Nicollet labels the forks, with the White River fork being the most prominent.

That’s all for now folks.  Thanks for covering 200 years of history with me through these maps.  If you have any questions, or have any cool observations of your own, go ahead and post them in the comments.

Note:  This is the final post of four about Lt. James Allen, his ten American soldiers and their experiences on the St. Croix and Brule rivers.  They were sent from Sault Ste. Marie to accompany the 1832 expedition of Indian Agent Henry Schoolcraft to the source of the Mississippi River.  Each of the posts gives some general information about the expedition and some pages from Allen’s journal.   

Sauk Chief Makataimeshekiakiah, or Black Hawk
Sauk Chief Makataimeshekiakiah, or Black Hawk by Charles Bird King (Wikimedia Images)

On the night of August 1, 1831, the section of the Michigan Territory that would become the state of Wisconsin, was a scene of stark contrasts regarding the United States Army’s ability to force its will on Indian people.  In the south, American forces had caught up and skirmished with the starving followers of Black Hawk near the mouth of the Bad Axe River in present-day Vernon County.  The next morning, with the backing of the steamboat Warrior, the soldiers would slaughter dozens of men, women, and children as they tried to retreat across the Mississippi.  The massacre at Bad Axe was the end of the Black Hawk War, the last major military resistance from the Indian nations of the Old Northwest.

Less than 300 miles upstream, Lieutenant James Allen had his bread stolen right out of his fire as he slept. Presumably, it was taken by Ojibwe youths from the Yellow River village on the St. Croix.  Earlier that day, he had been unable to get convince any members of the Yellow River band to guide him up to the Brule River portage.  The next morning, (the same day as the Battle of Bad Axe), Allen was able to buy a new bark canoe to take some load off his leaky fleet.  However, the Ojibwe family that sold it to him was able to take advantage of supply and demand to get twice the amount of flour from the soldiers that they would’ve gotten from the local traders.  Later that day, the well-known chief Gaa-bimabi (Kabamappa), from the upper St. Croix, brought him a desperately-needed map, so not all of his interactions with the Ojibwe that day were negative.  However, each of these encounters showed clearly that the Ojibwe were neither cowed nor intimidated by the presence of American soldiers in their country.

In fact, Allen’s detachment must have been a miserable sight.  They had fallen several days behind the voyageur-paddled canoes carrying Schoolcraft, the interpreter, and the doctor. Their canoes were leaking badly and they were running out of gum (pitch) to seal them up.  Their feet were torn up from wading up the rapids, and one man was too injured to walk.  They were running low on food, didn’t know how to find the Brule, and their morale was running dangerously low.  If the War Department’s plan was for Allen to demonstrate American power to the Ojibwe, the plan had completely backfired.

The journey down the Brule was even more difficult for the soldiers than the trip up the St. Croix. I won’t repeat it all here because it’s in the posted pages of Allen’s journal in these four posts, but in the end, it was our old buddy Maangozid (see 4/14/13 post) and some other Fond du Lac Ojibwe who rescued the soldiers from their ordeal.

Allen’s journal entry after finally reaching Lake Superior is telling:

“[T]he management of bark canoes, of any size, in rapid rivers, is an art which it takes years to acquire; and, in this country, it is only possessed by Canadians [mix-blooded voyageurs] and Indians, whose habits of life have taught them but little else.  The common soldiers of the army have no experience of this kind, and consequently, are not generally competent to transport themselves in this way; and whenever it is required to transport troops, by means of bark canoes, two Canadian voyageurs ought to be assigned to each canoe, one in the bow, and another in the stern;  it will then be the safest and most expeditious method that can be adopted in this country.”

The 1830s were the years of Indian Removal throughout the United States, but at that time, the American government had no hope of conquering and subduing the Ojibwe militarily.  When the Ojibwe did surrender their lands (in 1837 and 1842 for the Wisconsin parts), it was due to internal politics and economics rather than any serious threat of American invasion.  Rather than proving the strength of the United States, Allen’s expedition revealed a serious weakness.

The Ojibwe weren’t overconfident or ignorant.  The very word for Americans, chimookomaan (long knife), referred to soldiers.  A handful of Ojibwe and mix-blooded warriors had fought the United States in the War of 1812 and earlier in the Ohio country.  Bizhiki and Noodin, two chiefs whose territory Allen passed through on his ill-fated journey, had been to Washington in 1824 and saw the army firsthand.  The next year, many more chiefs got to see the long knives in person at the Treaty of Prairie du Chien.  Finally, the removal of their Ottawa and Potawatomi cousins and other nations to Indian Territory in the 1830s was a well-known topic of concern in Ojibwe villages.  They knew the danger posed by American soldiers, but the reality of the Lake Superior Country in 1832 was that American power was very limited.

The journal picks up from part 3 with Allen and crew on the Brule River with their canoes in rapidly-deteriorating condition.  They’ve made contact with the Fond du Lac villagers camped at the mouth, but there are still several obstacles to overcome.

pl

Doc. 323, pg. 66

Doc. 323, pg. 65

pl

Doc. 323, pg. 66
Allen’s journal is part of Phillip P. Mason’s edition of Schoolcraft’s Expedition to Lake Itasca: The Discovery of the Source of the Mississippi (1958). However, these Google Books pages come from the original publication as part of the United States Congress Serial Set.

James Allen (1806-1846)
Collections of the Iowa Historical Society

Allen and all of his men survived the ordeal of the 1832 expedition.  He returned to La Pointe on August 11 and left the next day with Dr. Houghton.  The two men returned to the Soo together, stopping at the great copper rock on the Ontonagon River along the way.

On September 13, 1832, he wrote Alexander Macomb, his commander at Fort Brady.  The letter officially complained about Schoolcraft “unnecessarily and injuriously” leaving the soldiers behind at the mouth of the St. Croix.  When the New York American published its review of Schoolcraft’s Narrative on July 19, 1834, it expressed “indignation and dismay” at the “un-Christianlike” behavior of the agent for abandoning the soldiers in the “enemy’s country.”  The resulting controversy forced Schoolcraft to defend himself in the Detroit Journal and Michigan Advertiser where he pointed out Allen’s map’s importance to the Narrative.  He also reminded the public that the Ojibwe and the United States were considered allies.

James Allen went on to serve in Chicago and at the Sac and Fox agency in Iowa Territory.  After the Mexican War broke out in 1846, he traveled to Utah and organized a Mormon Battalion to fight on the American side.  He died on his way back east on August 23, 1846. He was only forty years old.  (John Lindquist has great website about the career of James Allen with much more information about his post-1832 life). 

Sources:
Ely, Edmund Franklin, and Theresa M. Schenck. The Ojibwe Journals of Edmund F. Ely, 1833-1849. Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 2012. Print.
Loew, Patty. Indian Nations of Wisconsin: Histories of Endurance and Renewal. Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society, 2001. Print.
Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe, and Philip P. Mason. Expedition to Lake Itasca; the Discovery of the Source of the Mississippi,. [East Lansing]: Michigan State UP, 1958. Print.
Warren, William W., and Theresa M. Schenck. History of the Ojibway People. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 2009. Print.
Witgen, Michael J. An Infinity of Nations: How the Native New World Shaped Early North America. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 2012. Print.