Lake Superior in 1840

September 1, 2016

By Amorin Mello

“Soon after removing to Detroit, Bela Hubbard became acquainted with Douglas[s] Houghton, then State Geologist of Michigan, and in 1837, was appointed Assistant Geologist on the State Geological Survey, a position which he held until 1841. He accompanied Douglass Houghton on an important expedition to the southern shore of Lake Superior, in 1840, an account of which is given in his ‘Memorials of half a century.’ It is this book more than anything else that will preserve the memory of its author. It is his most fitting and most enduring monument and entitles the name of Bela Hubbard to a place on the short list of American authors who may be justly termed ‘nature writers.'”

Quote from Report of the Michigan Academy of Science, Volume 4,
by Michigan Academy of Science Council, 1904, page 163.

 


 

This is a reproduction of "Lake Superior in 1840" from Memorials of a Half Century, by Bela Hubbard, 1887.

This is a reproduction of “Lake Superior in 1840” and illustrations from Memorials of a Half-Century, by Bela Hubbard, 1887, pages 21-62.

LAKE SUPERIOR IN 1840.*

* Read before the Detroit Pioneer Society, Jan., 1874.

Portrait and biographic sketch of Bela Hubbard are available in Report of the Michigan Academy of Science, Volume 4, by Michigan Academy of Science Council, pages 163-165. Hubbard

Portrait and biographic sketch of Bela Hubbard are available in Report of the Michigan Academy of Science, Volume 4, by Michigan Academy of Science Council, 1904, pages 163-165.  See the Bela Hubbard Papers: 1837-1893 for more information.

Among the pleasantest of all my reminiscences of travel is that of the exploration, in connection with the geological survey of Michigan, of the coasts of our upper peninsula, in 1840.

Portrait and biographic sketch of Douglass Houghton are available in Report of the Michigan Academy of Science, Volume 4, by Michigan Academy of Science Council, pages 160-162. Houghton

Portrait and biographic sketch of Douglass Houghton are available in Report of the Michigan Academy of Science, Volume 4, by Michigan Academy of Science Council, 1904, pages 160-162. See the Douglass Houghton Papers: 1829-1845 for more information.

Frederick Hubbard was Bela Hubbard’s younger brother, and became a railroad engineer.
C. C. Douglas became an agent of the Phoenix Copper Company.
H. Thielsen was born in Denmark in 1814, and became a prominent figured in the railroad industry of Detroit, Chicago, Omaha, and Portland.
Charles W. Penny became a merchant of clothes and dry goods, as well as a trustee for insane asylums.

The party for this expedition was composed of the State geologist, Dr. Douglass Houghton; his two assistants, C. C. Douglass and myself; Fredk. Hubbard, in charge of instrumental observations; and, for a part of the way, H. Thielson, a civil engineer, and Charles W. Penny, a young merchant of Detroit, supernumeraries.

We left Detroit in the steamer “Illinois,” arriving at Mackinac, May 23. Here two boat crews were made up, consisting of six Canadians. These belonged to that class so famous in the palmy days of the fur trade and the French régime, now extinct, and known to history as “coureurs de bois.” They were of mixed blood, in some, the French, in others, the Indian, predominating. Bred to the business, they would row without fatigue from daybreak until dark,—twelve or fourteen hours,—unlade the boats, pitch the tents for the bourgeois, pile up the baggage, prepare the evening meal, and then creep under their blankets in the open air and enjoy the sound sleep that labor bestows.

The principal dependence of these voyageurs for food—we had no leisure for hunting and little for fishing— was upon a soup of beans, with a most liberal supply of water, into which a piece of pork was dropped. A cake of hard-bread was allowed to each.

The boats for the passage of the Sault were each about twenty feet long by four broad, lightly constructed of pine and cedar, with sharp bows, and were drawn out of the water at night. At the Sault, to which provisions had been forwarded, one of these boats was exchanged for a “Mackinac barge,” sufficiently large to carry two months’ provisions and all our baggage.

A voyage to and upon our great lake at the time of my story was by no means the easy journey it is now. North of Mackinac, no steamers and no regular line of sail-vessels traversed the waters. The ship-canal around the waters of the Sault had not then been projected. Furs and fish constituted the only commerce, and the latter found too few customers to make the trade profitable. The American Fur Company had its headquarters at Sault Ste. Marie, where was a village of some twenty or thirty houses, mostly of logs, and the United States maintained a garrison. On the opposite shore was a small English settlement, consisting of a few white-washed cabins and Episcopal and Baptist mission establishments. Here also the Hudson’s Bay Company had a post.

At L’Anse had been established for many years a factory of the American Fur Company, the only buildings being a log house, storehouse, and barn, and near by a Baptist mission, consisting of a dozen neat huts of logs and bark. Near the extreme west end of the lake this company had another factory or trading-post, at La Pointe.

These were the only white settlements on the south shore of this great lake. At two or three points, transient fishing-camps might be met with. Else, all this region was wild and solitary almost as when, a century earlier, it was traversed by the canoe of the Jesuit missionary or echoed to the rude songs of the wild employees of the fur traders. In a large part of the country, on the southern border, within the territory of the United States, the Indian title had not been extinguished. But the settlements of the aboriginal race were rare; probably the whole region did not number 1000 souls.

Apart from the scientific animus of the expedition, our party, in the ardor of youth, could not but look forward to the new and strange scenes which awaited us with somewhat of the enthusiasm that inspired the first explorers of this region of vast forests and inland seas. We were to voyage almost in the same mode as those travellers, to witness scenes as yet little changed, and partaking of the same character of solitude and mystery.

Though I wander from my narrative, I must linger a moment over the impression produced by the romantic island which was our starting-point, Michilimackinac.

Connected with the story of the early wanderings of the French, their perilous missions in the far wilderness, the fur trade, with its fort, its agents, its coureurs de bois and numerous employees, its bustle, show, and dissipation, its traffic and its enormous profits, and with the numerous native tribes which here rendezvoused,—no place in the North-west possesses greater historic and traditionary interest. The town retained, as it still does, much of its old-time character. The crescent bay in front was still a lounging-place for the American Ishmaelite, whose huts often covered the beach; and this was the last place on the frontier where the Mackinac barge might manned and equipped, as a century ago, by a motley crew of half-breed voyageurs.

The natural beauties and wildness of the island, its situation, enthroned at the apex of the peninsula of Michigan and embracing magnificent views of water and island, its lake breezes and pure cold air, and the excellence of its white-fish and trout, have long made it one of the most attractive of watering-places. The proposal to conserve it as a national park is worthy of its character, and it is to be hoped that thus its natural beauties, and what remains of its woods, will be preserved forever to the nation.

On the morning of May 26 we took our departure from Mackinac, with a moderate breeze and a clear sky,—a thing to be noted where fogs are so frequent,—and coasting by St. Martin’s Island, entered les Cheneaux.

The river, or more properly Strait of Ste. Marie, is a series of channels, winding amid innumerable islands. Some of these, as St. Joseph and Drummond, cover many square miles, but the greater number are much smaller, and often occupy only a few acres. They line the whole northern coast of Lake Huron, and are occasioned by the junction between the silurian lime rocks and the azoic or primary rocks of Canada.

These islands are but little elevated above the water, and are wooded to the edge with cedar, fir and birch. The evergreen trees are completely shrouded in a tapestry of parasitic moss. This is a true lichen, and is not allied to the great Southern epiphyte which it so strongly resembles. It hangs in long festoons, giving the woods a fantastic and gloomy appearance, but the effect is very beautiful. What are called “les Cheneaux” are passages among islands of this description. They are seldom wide enough to admit any but the smallest craft, and so intricate as to form a perfect labyrinth, where any but the practised mariner might wander long, “in endless mazes lost.”

To the north and east of St. Joseph Island the Ste. Marie parts the two systems of rocks, and an instant change takes place in the character of the scenery. Instead of low, timbered shores, the islands rise in abrupt cones, rounded and water-worn, to the height of twenty to one hundred feet, presenting bare knobs of hornblende and quartz. The surfaces are worn smooth, by the action of glaciers, and are frequently covered with a thick carpet of lichens. Among these is, in profusion, the beautiful reindeer moss. A few miles to the right, in Canada, hills of granite rise to a height of 500 to 1000 feet, and form a background to the view.

To the geologist these low hills and rounded knobs have an absorbing interest. Agassiz tells us that America has been falsely denominated the new world; that “hers was the first dry land lifted out of the waters; hers the first shore washed by the ocean that enveloped all the earth beside.” The antiquary finds in this portion of America a very respectable antiquity. To its known civil history he adds evidence of the existence of a race of men familiar with this region ages before its discovery by the French, who were by no means despicable cultivators of the arts, and he infers a human history—could he but gather the full record—possibly as ancient as the pyramids. But science points a period infinitely more remote. We had reached and stood upon what was the skeleton of our earth, when but a crust above the seething fires beneath, not only ages before man had a being upon its surface, but probably ages before what we call the “Old World” had been raised by the forces of nature above the universal ocean. Here was antiquity unmeasured by any human standard. Time itself was young then. This backbone of the earliest continent still stretches unbroken, from the Atlantic to the western plains. During the unnumbered years in which the surface of the earth has been changed by successive upheavals and depressions it has stood unmoved.

Around the base of these low granite and metamorphic hills, in the bed of the river, lies a sandstone rock, which we shall find rising into cliffs along the coast of the lake above. It is the lowest of the paleozoic series, the first rock which brings to our eyes evidence of life upon this continent, and, if geologists speak truth, the first which bears witness to the dawn of life upon our earth. Of the earliest forms of organic life two only have with certainty been found in this rock, the lingula and the trilobite. And these, in the perfection and adaptation of their structure, equal the most perfect beings of their kind which exist at the present day. Thus the first record of the earliest life, upon the most ancient sea beach which the earth affords, is in apparent condemnation of the development hypothesis of Darwin. Are they then evidence of sudden and independent creation, or must we believe that these forms had their origin in some yet more remote and obscure past, and that we behold in these silurian rocks only their perfect development?

Following the northerly channel, the Ste. Marie soon expands into a broad and lovely sheet of water, twelve miles long, called Lake St. George. We have escaped from the labyrinth of rocky isles, the southern shores are again densely wooded, while the azoic rocks are seen on the Canada side, stretching off to the north-west, and terminating in a series of mountainous knobs,—the vertebræ of the world before the Flood. To this lake the Narrows succeed, and here for the first time the Ste. Marie assumes the appearance of a river, being contracted to less than 1000 feet, with a current and occasional rapids.

We passed frequent memorials of the Indian inhabitants. It is not to be wondered at that this region abounds with them, since with an eye to natural beauty this poetical race selects the loveliest spots for the resting-places, both of the living and the dead. The graves were close cabins of logs, thatched with bark, and the places selected are among the most beautiful and elevated sites, as if the souls of the departed braves could hear the echoing paddle and watch the approach of the distant canoe. The burial-place of the chief is designated by a picketed enclosure, and here it is customary for the voyaging Indian to stop, kindle his camp-fire at the head of the grave, and, on departing, to leave within the enclosure a small portion of the provisions he has cooked, for the use of the occupant. A flat cedar stake at the head exhibits in red paint the figure of some bird or brute,—the family totem of the deceased. Often is seen a small cross, erected as an emblem of his faith in Holy Catholic Church, while close by, in strange contrast, is that evidence of his unalterable attachment to the creed of his fathers,—the basket of provisions that is to support his journeying to the land of spirits.

The camping-ground of the voyageur has been that of the Indian from time immemorial. The wigwam poles are recognized from a distance, in some open glade along the shore, left standing after the vagabond inmates have departed. And there is often to be found an old canoe, a camp-kettle, a cradle swinging from the poles, and invariably a litter of picked bones and dirty rags, completely covering the spot, with the burnt brands and ashes of the cabin fire in the midst. Sometimes we meet a rude altar of stones, on which are laid bits of tobacco and other petty offerings to the Manitou. Sometimes the scene is varied by the cabin of a Canadian Frenchman, who, unable to resist the charm of savage life, is bringing up his family of half-breed children in a condition little akin to civilization.

Early on the morning of May 30 we reached the Sault, and proceeded to encamp at the head of the rapids. This required a portage of several rods. The remainder of the day was spent at the village, in witnessing the novel mode of fishing, and other sights pertaining to this remote frontier post.

Page 29: “Sault Ste. Marie, from the Canada shore.”

Preparations for our expedition being completed, on the first of June we took our departure from the head of the rapids. Here lay at anchor a beautiful light brig belonging to the American Fur Company, and which bore the name of its founder, John Jacob Astor. Close by its side was a schooner, which had been built by the Ohio Fishing and Mining Company, at Cleveland, and had just made the portage around the rapids. Another vessel was preparing for a similar transportation. With three such crafts floating on its bosom, our great lake seemed to have already lost something of its old-time character, when, a wide waste of waters, it was traversed only by the canoe of the Indian and voyageur. Its importance as a great commercial highway had thus begun to be foreshadowed, but, in fact, its waters still laved a savage wilderness.*

* The immense commerce since built up will appear from the statement, that in 1886 the number of vessels which passed through the Ste. Mary’s Falls Canal was 6203, carrying 3,701,000 tons and over 50,000 passengers.

Some natural phenomena pertaining to a high northern latitude had begun to exhibit what were marvels to our unaccustomed eyes. One of these was the lengthened twilight, the sun continuing to irradiate the horizon with a bright flash, until nearly midnight. In fact, it was quite possible to tell the hour of the night at any time, by the light which indicated the sun’s position. The Auroras, too, were surpassingly brilliant; often the electric rays streamed up from every point of the horizon, meeting at the zenith and waving like flame. I note these simple and common phenomena because they were novel to us, and it is only those who travel and encamp in the open air who enjoy to the full such scenes of beauty and wonder.

A summer temperature had now set in, and we witnessed another characteristic of this high latitude,—the sudden advance of the season. During the three days of our stay at this place, vegetation, which a week before had hardly commenced, sprung into active life. Trees then bare were now in full leaf. This phenomenon, though common to our side of the Atlantic, we had nowhere else seen so conspicuously displayed.

Time will not permit a narrative of our journey, a two-months’ coasting voyage along the whole southern side of Lake Superior. Nor can I speak, except briefly, of the beauties of the scenery, most of which is now so well known; of Gros Cap and Point Iroquois, those rock-built pillars of Hercules that guard the entrance, and

“like giants stand, To sentinel enchanted land;”

of White-fish Point and its surroundings; of the grand, wild and varied rocky coast; of the many beautiful streams, flashing with cascades, and filled with the speckled trout; or of our scientific researches and observations. I will venture only to relate an occasional incident, and to delineate some features of the coast scenery which seem to me to have been to little noticed or too imperfectly described by others.

Westward from White-fish Point stretch for many miles broad beaches of sand and gravel, backed by hills clothed with Norway-pines, spruce, hemlock, cedar, and birch. These beaches form extensive fishing-grounds, of which parties had already availed themselves. Every one knows the superiority of Lake Superior white-fish, in size and flavor, over those of the lower waters. Yet in relating the following experience I am aware of the risk which I run of being set down as the retailer of a “fish story.”

As we were rowing along the beach, some object was descried at a distance, making out of the water. All, at once, gave vigorous chase. On our near approach, the animal, which proved to be an otter, dropped upon the sand a fish which he had just hauled out, and retreated into the lake. This fish, which was scarcely dead, was of a size so extraordinary that it might truly be called—the fish, not the story—a whopper! It measured two and a half feet in length, and one foot five inches in circumference. We had no accurate means of weighing, but its weight was fairly estimated at fifteen pounds! The flesh was delicious in proportion, and made our whole party several capital meals.

These beaches terminate at a deep harbor called the Grand Marais. Hitherto the hills of dunes of sand have been of no great elevation. But now occurs a phenomenon which, though it seems not to have been classed among the wonders of this region, nor described in any books of travel, so far as I am aware, may well be called extraordinary, and worthy a place among the scenic wonders of America. It is a miniature Sahara, several miles in extent, and in many of its peculiar features resembling those lifeless, sandy deserts which are so distinguishing phenomena in some parts of the world. It is known to the French voyageurs as “Le Grand Sable.”

Page 33: “Grandes Sables.”

Steep cliffs are first observed rising from the water with a very uniform face, of about 200 feet in height, beyond which are visible barren dunes, rising still higher in the distance. On our approach the whole appeared like lofty hills enveloped in fog. This proved to be nothing less than clouds of sand, which the winds were constantly sweeping towards the lake, and which formed a mist so dense as to conceal completely the real character of the coast.

On ascending these steep and wasting cliffs, a scene opens to view which has no parallel except in the great deserts. For an extent of many miles nothing is visible but a waste of sand; not under the form of a monotonous plain, but rising into lofty cones, sweeping in graceful curves, hurled into hollows and spread into long-extended valleys. A few grass roots and small shrubs in some places find a feeble subsistence, and are the only vegetation. But thrusting through the sand are several tops of half-buried pines, barkless, and worn dry and craggy by the drifting soil, while below the surface their bodies appear to be in perfect preservation. To our imagination they seem the time-worn columns of an antique temple, whose main structure has long ago tumbled into dust, or been buried, like the ruins of Egypt, beneath the drift of many centuries.

The surface sand is mostly packed quite hard, and may be trod as a solid floor. This, in many places, is strewed thickly with pebbles; the deep hollows present vast beds of them. Among these are a great variety of precious stones common to the rocks of the country; agates, chalcedony, jasper, quartz of every shade of color and transparency, with hornstone, trap, and other minerals. All are worn smooth, and often beautifully polished by the sharp, drifting sands, and many rich specimens were obtained. We were reminded of the valley of diamonds in the Arabian tales, which it was the fortune of Sinbad to discover, in a scarcely less singular depository.

In the rear of this desert, about two miles from the coast, timber is again met with. Here, just at the edge of the wood, a small and beautiful lake lies embosomed; on the one side, a rich tract of maple forest; on the other, barren and shifting sand. It broke on our view, from amidst the realm of desolation, as did the unexpected fountain to which Saladin led the weary cavalier, Sir Kenneth, over the sandy plains of Palestine, as told in the magic pages of Scott. We named it, not inaptly, I think, “the diamond of the desert.” Around this sheet of water we found snow, on the tenth of June, in large quantities, buried beneath a few inches of sand.

From the diamond lake issues a small stream, which, after making its way through the sand, reaches the clay that constitutes the base of these dunes, and tumbles a perfect cascade into the greater lake. This rivulet separates the dense maple forest which lies on the east from cliffs of driven sand, which rise abruptly to a height that far overlooks the woodland, and are the commencement of the grand and leafless sables.

Page 35: “Grandes Sables from above – sand flying.”

The view on ascending these is most entrancing. On the one side stretches beneath, and far away, the verdant forest; while, by a transition as sudden as it is opposite in character, on the other side every feature of the landscape seems as if buried beneath hills of snow. The desert surface might be likened to that of an angry ocean, only that the undulations are far more vast, and the wave crests more lofty than the billows of the sea in its wildest commotion. Looking upward from one of these immense basins, where only the sandwave meets the sky, the beholder is impressed with a sublimity of a novel kind, unmixed with the terror which attends a storm upon the Alps or on the ocean. The scene, wild and unique, may well claim this brief praise, though hitherto unsung, and lacking the charm of historical association,—“the consecration and the poet’s dream.”

Twelve miles beyond this singular region the beaches terminate, and the sand-rock makes its appearance on the coast, in a range of abrupt cliffs. These are “The Pictured Rocks.” They have been often described, but no description that I have seen conveys to my mind a satisfactory impression of their bold, wild, and curious features. In attempting to convey some dear comprehension of them, I can only hope to impart a faithful, though it be a feeble conception of the peculiar features of this marvel of the Northern Lakes.

Page 37: “Distant view of the Pictured Rocks.”

These cliffs are composed of the same gray-and-red sand-rock which I have alluded to as the lowest of the paleozoic or silurian rocks. It appears in many places on the coast, and probably forms a large part of the bed of the lake. The cliffs here rise into a mural precipice, springing perpendicularly from the deep waters to the height of from 80 to 250 feet; and for the distance of fifteen miles, except in one or two places, are destitute of a beach upon which even a canoe may be landed. So dangerous is the coast that vessels all give it a wide berth, passing at too great distance for accurate view. A small boat that lingers runs imminent risks, from the liability of this lake to sudden gales, and the traverse is attempted only during a perfect calm. The sandrock lies in thick strata of varying degrees of hardness, from a coarse crag of the hardest cemented pebbles to a friable rock of aggregated sand. The predominant color is gray, sometimes light, often dark and rusty, and stained by oxides of iron and copper, with which the materials are charged. Bearing in mind these characteristics, the variety of aspects and the strange forms that these cliffs assume will find a ready explanation.

The great diversity of hues that give so beautiful and variegated an appearance to large portions of the surface, and from which the cliffs derive their name, are owing to the metallic oxides which have filtered through the porous stone in watery solutions and left their stains upon the surface. Beautiful as is the effect, it is due to candor to say that to my eyes there appeared but very imperfect representations of those various forms in the vegetable and animal kingdoms which figure in the highly-colored and fanciful descriptions in travellers’ tales. Too extravagant an idea could scarcely be conveyed of the exceeding brilliancy of the coloring; but in regard to what artists style the “laying on,” the picture presented a much closer resemblance to a house-painter’s bucket, upon the outside of which paints of all colors have trickled down in tapering streams. They represent not so much the picture which Nature has painted, as the palette upon which she has cleaned her pencils. Every hue of the rainbow, besides black and white, and in every possible circumstance of shade and alternation, are drawn in long lines, covering thousands of feet of surface.

Near the western extremity of the range, these colors assume a surpassing brilliancy, with a metallic lustre. Streaming over a gracefully curved surface, having an area of several thousand yards, they mimic, on a gigantic scale, the stripes on our national flag, as it waves in the breeze; or, passing down a fractured ledge, are contorted into long zigzag lines.

Upon close examination, these colors are found to proceed from slimy exudations, and to retain their brilliance only while fresh. When the face of the cliff has become dry, they possess a more faint and often mottled appearance. Then may sometimes be found depicted, upon a background of white, yellow or dun, as if rudely dabbed in by the artist, those vague similitudes, in which the imagination may realize verdant landscapes or fierce battle scenes; perhaps, if sufficiently vivid, a full set of Raphael’s Cartoons. As a whole, the general effect of the coloring is so striking, that the appellation conferred upon these cliffs is well deserved. Thus strangely drawn, upon as strange a canvas, they add, at least, wonderful beauty and effect to the greater wonders which Nature has here displayed.

But color is far from being the most notable feature of the Pictured Rocks. The disintegrating material of which the rock is composed renders it very susceptible to the effects of the elements. These cliffs present indubitable evidence that the lake once washed them at a height many feet above its present level. And as the strata are of differing degrees of hardness, they have been worn by the waves into a variety of forms. Huge cavernous fissures penetrate the massive wall, often to the distance of several hundred feet, piercing through its great projecting buttresses, and leaving the solid mountain supported by bare pillars. These, in turn, are worn by the eddying waters into cylindrical columns, connected by arches that sometimes spring with great regularity to a vast height.

Page 41: “La Portaille.”

An immense angular projection of the cliff, known to voyageurs as “La Portaille,” exhibits on its three sides arches of this construction, one of which springs to a height of about 150 feet. The openings form passages into a great cavern, or more properly a vestibule, the roof of which is beyond the reach of our longest oars, and which conducts through the entire projecting mass,—a distance of not less than 500 feet. Entering with our boat into this natural rock-built hall, its yawning caverns and overhanging walls strike a sudden awe into the soul. Echo gives back the voice in loud reverberations, and the discharge of a musket produces a roar like a clap of thunder. “Even the slight motion of the waves,” writes Governor Cass, “which in the most profound calm agitates these internal seas, swept through the deep caverns with a noise of distant thunder, and died upon the ear, as it rolled forward in the dark recesses inaccessible to human observation; no sound more melancholy or more awful ever vibrated upon human nerves. Resting in a frail canoe, upon the limpid waters, we seemed  almost suspended in air, so pellucid is the element upon which we floated. In gazing upon the towering battlements which impended over us, and from which the smallest fragment would have destroyed us, we felt, and felt intensely, our own insignificance. No splendid cathedral, no temple built with human hands, no pomp of worship, could ever impress the spectator with such deep humility, and so strong a conviction of the immense distance between him and the Almighty Architect.”* Enthusiastic language! and yet it cannot be deemed exaggerated.

* Discourse before Detroit Historical Society.

The number and perfection of the wave-created pillars meeting the eye at every turn,— and which seem formed to support the immense weight above,—the various forms of the arches and of the overhanging rock, bear a close resemblance to the orders of human architecture. The rotundity of the columns is, in general, well preserved, and their tops swell into capitals. The supported mass, which is seldom less than 100 feet in thickness, often assumes characteristic forms, corresponding to the mock design. In one instance, for nearly half a mile, it resembles a vast entablature, of which the cornice,—jutting at least 20 feet, with a curve whose grace is not excelled by the best sculpture,—the pictured frieze, the mouldings, metopes, medallions, and other of those forms which pertain to Grecian architecture, are struck out, with a master, but giant hand, in magnificent relief, and with a perfection truly admirable. A portion of the structure had fallen, and lay at the base in heaps of ruins. But even the imperfections appear as if due to the gradual process of decay. It requires little stretch of the imagination to conceive the whole fabric to be an enormous edifice, the grandest of man’s construction, of which the main body has by some convulsion been suck and engulfed in the waters. We thought of these monuments of ancient art which the volcanic rain of Vesuvius has overwhelmed; but such a temple as this would have enclosed half of Pompeii!!

Page 43: “The gothic rock.”

The mind naturally inquires, Are the beautiful forms of ancient architecture the result of long and laborious study, or was some marvel like this exhibited in that distant era, from which cunning sculptors borrowed those designs that immortalized the Parthenon? And if—as the learned have supposed—the marble structures of that age received the addition of a coat of glowing colors,—of which time has left some traces—we here view the prototype, not only of the graceful forms upon which they labored so successfully, but of the overlay of colorings, in the glory of their original freshness!

These are but single features in the scenic display. The line of cliffs is not uniformly regular, but curves gradually to the south-west, and presents many angles and projecting points. Passing on to harder portions of the rock, the voyageur may encounter at the next angle a vertical and unbroken wall, rearing its solid front from the bed of the lake to the height of from 200 to 300 feet above the surface. The sharpness of the angular projection equals that created by the square and plummet; while the immense thickness of the strata causes the wall to appear as laid in immense blocks, a hundred feet in length. No such blocks were built into their mausolea by the proudest of the Pharaohs.

New changes present themselves as the traveller proceeds. Suddenly he is before the walls of an impregnable fortress, complete with glacis, bastion, and towers. The western cape of Miner’s River exhibits a curious display of this kind. It resembles the dilapidated tower of some timeworn castle. The base rests upon a series of short columns, connected by groined arches, through many of which a boat may pass with ease. There are eight or ten of these pillars; several have large entrances above, and the tower rears its broken battlements to the height of 120 feet.

Page 45: “La Chapelle, from the Lake.”

Among the characteristic features, none is more extra-ordinary than one to which the French voyageurs have appropriately given the name of “La Chapelle.” This rock was originally part of the solid cliff, of which the greater portion has been swept away, causing a valley about half a mile in breadth, through which a considerable stream enters the lake, falling over the rocks in a sheet of foam. Close by, reared upon the rocky platform, about twenty feet above the lake, and conspicuous from its isolation, stands the chapel. It consists of a tabular mass of sandstone, raised upon five columns, whose capitals swell into a uniform arch and support the ceiling or dome of the edifice. Its whole height is 56 feet. The pillars are somewhat irregular in form and position; including their bases, they are about 25 feet in height, and from 4 to 6 feet diameter in the swell. Regular proportion are not altogether preserved, for in most of them the central portion has the smallest diameter, like an hour-glass. Two uphold the front, and from these the arch springs to the height of 30 feet, allowing to the roof a thickness of five or six feet. The span of this arch is 32 feet, as viewed from the water, in which direction the spectator looks completely through the temple into the woodland beyond. The strength of the roof thus upheld must be considerable, since it is clothed with timber, and from the very centre shoots, spire-like, a lofty pine. The cliff on which the edifice stands forms a proportionate pedestal, ascending from the water in steps, which may be easily mounted.

This solemn natural temple might contain a congregation of several hundred persons. Nor are the usual accommodations for the preacher wanting. A column, the upper half of which has been broken, projects from a recess in the walls, and is worn into a curve behind, like the half of a letter S, creating a stand which would serve the purpose as admirably as it strikingly resembles the old-fashioned pulpit, the base of the column affording convenient steps.

Page 47: “La Chapelle, inside view.”

Upon the cliff, just without, a column stands detached, and worn into the form of an urn, no bad representation of the baptismal font.

At what epoch of the world, or for what class of worshippers, this almost perfect temple was created, we might ask in vain of geologist or theologian. Certainly it is well designed to raise in the beholders thoughts of adoration for its all-skillful Architect, while they assign to it a chief place among the wonders of his workmanship.

An urn-shaped mass, similar to the one here observed, of great regularity and beauty of form, and not less than 50 feet in height, may ben seen at another point of the coast. Several rills of water leap from the very top of these precipitous cliffs, and add much to the charm of the view. Indeed, taken in connection with the wide-sweeping lake, the distant mountain ranges, and the woodland, crowning the cliff, the scene presented is of the most picturesque and wildest character.

“Where’er we gaze, around, above, below, What rainbow tints, what magic charms are found! Rock, river, forest, mountain, all abound, And bluest skies that harmonize the whole; Beneath, the distant torrent’s rushing sound Tells where the volumed cataract doth roll, Between those hanging rocks, that shock yet please the soul.”

Against these huge ramparts in the hour of the storm the billows of this impetuous lake dash with terrific fury, rumbling beneath the open arches, until, from the hollow caverns within, the sounds return like distant echoes, and at times their spray is thrown to the very summits of the cliff. Woe betide the bark that is overtaken by the tempest before these hopeless barriers!

But when the winds are down, lulling the lake to gentlest murmurs, the cautious boatman piles along the lone rampart, and with beating heart ventures to explore its awe-inspiring recesses, those.

“Worn and wild receptacles, Worked by the storms, yet work’d as it were planned, In hollow halls, with sparry roof and cells.”

From this sketch some correct idea may perhaps be gathered of a few of those strange forms which Nature, in her sportive hours, has here carved out of the solid fabric of the globe, as if in mockery of the efforts of man, gigantic monuments of that immeasurable Power who formed the wonders of the universe.

Thirty miles west form the Pictured Rocks, at Chocolate and Carp rivers, we first met, in their approach to the shore, the azoic or primary rocks, which from here onward constitute so interesting and important a feature in the geology of the country. Of their scientific or their economical character it is not my purpose to speak, further than to say that to them belong the iron beds, which are such a mine of wealth to our State. Here, a few years after our visit, sprang into being the busy and thriving city of Marquette. But at the time of which I speak, all was a solitude.

From hence to Keweenaw Bay ranges of granite knobs rise into considerable hills, and around them lie a series of quartzites, slates, and metamorphosed sandstones. The granites are pierced by dykes of trap, which in some cases form straight, narrow, and often lofty walls, in others have overflowed in irregular masses. Here Pluto, not Neptune, has been the controlling spirit, and has left the witness of his rule upon the face of the country. Ascending the knobs of granite and quartz, the change is most striking. To the east the eye embraces a tract lying in immense broad steppes of the sandstone, extending beyond the Pictured Rocks; while to the west are seen only rolling hills and knobs, terminating in the Huron Mountains.

I can add nothing to what is so well known of the mineral riches of this part of the country. But there is in its building-stones a wealth that is hardly yet begun to be realized. No more beautiful and serviceable material than the easily-worked and variously-tinted sandstones is found in the West; and her granites, already broken by natural forces into convenient block, and as yet untried, will command a market in the time coming, when the solid and durable shall be regarded a chief requisites to good architecture.

Following our westerly direction to Point Keweenaw, we find the dominion of Pluto established on a most magnificent scale. Not only is his energy displayed in the stern and rock-bound coast, but in the lofty ranges of trap, which rise into rugged hills of from 400 to 900 feet above the lake. Within these are secreted, but scarcely concealed, those wonderful veins of native copper, here quarried rather than mined, in masses such as the world has nowhere else produced.

Page 51: “View from the cliff ranges.”

But of all this wealth nothing was then known, except that traces of copper were visible at a few places along the coast, and that a large mass of the native metal lay in the bed of Ontonagon River, long revered by the Indians as a Manitou, and mentioned in the relations of the early French historians.

I will but add, as the result of this season’s explorations, that the report of the State geologist, published the ensuing winter, unravelled the whole subject of the mode of occurrence of the copper and its associated minerals, in the most complete and scientific manner. It first made known the immense value which Michigan possessed in its hitherto despised Upper Peninsula; and its immediate effect was to arouse an interest in this then wild and uninhabited Indian territory, which has led to the opening up of its mines, and its present teeming prosperity.

On the third of July we encamped at Copper Harbor, and spent several days in exploration of the surrounding country, and in blasting for ores. Several blasts were got ready for the great national jubilee, which we commemorated in the noisy manner usual with Americans, by a grand discharge from the rocks. We succeeded in producing a tremendous report, and the echo, resounding from the placid water as from a sounding-board, pealed forth in corresponding reverberations for several minutes. Later in the day we retired to our camp and partook of an equally grand dinner. It consisted of pigeons, fried and stewed, corn and bean soup, short-cake and hard-tack, pork, and—last but not least—a can of fine oysters, which had been brought along for the occasion. Truly a sumptuous repast for a party of wilderness vagrants, even on a Fourth of July anniversary!

But time warns me to hasten my journey. I will therefore proceed at once to the Ontonagon, where an adventure befel, which it becomes a true knight-errant to relate. It was our purpose to pass up this river to the large mass of copper already alluded to. As we landed at the mouth there were noticed, on the opposite side of the river, several Indian lodges. As soon as we had dined, a few of the occupants crossed over in canoes, shook hands with us, giving the usual greeting of “Bo jou,” and received a small gift of tobacco and bread. Accompanying were half a dozen young boys, some of whom had remarkably fine features. We could not but notice, as an usual circumstance, that several of the men were painted black. One athletic fellow in particular, in this grimy coloring, and naked except the clout, made a very grotesque though savage appearance. The devil himself, however, is said not to be so black as he is painted, and this fellow seemed rather to act the buffoon than the noble warrior.

This son of Chief Buffalo from the La Pointe Band appears to be Jechiikwii’o.
“Houghton served as surgeon and botanist with Henry R. Schoolcraft’s 1831 and 1832 expeditions to the source of the Mississippi River.”
Douglass Houghton Papers: 1829-1845
Excerpt about Chief Buffalo:
“It is at this place, the Chegoimegon of early writers, that tradition places the ancient council fire of the Chippewa nation. […] The present chieftain, Chi Waishki, alias Pizhickee, or the Buffalo, is the representative of this line.   He said to the Indian Agent, who, by direction of the commissioners at the treaty of Fond du Lac, in 1826, invested him with a silver medal.  “What need I of this!  It is known whence I am descended. […] Chi Waishki, the chief above alluded to, was met at Keweena, on his way to visit the Agency.”

Narrative of an expedition through the upper Mississippi to Itasca Lake, the actual source of this river : embracing an exploratory trip through the St. Croix and Burntwood (or Broule) Rivers, in 1832, by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, 1834, pages 20-21.

The party proved to belong to the Buffaloes, whose chief we had met at River Tequamenon, near the eastern end of the lake, and were under the command of the son of that chief. The latter was a resolute-looking fellow, of about 26 or 30 years of age. His face was painted red, and he wore a medal bearing the likeness of John Quincy Adams. We paid little attention to the Indians, although aware that on several occasions exploring parties had been stopped at the mouth of this river and turned back.

We had made but two of three miles progress up the stream when the rapid stroke of paddles was heard, and a canoe, manned with Indians, shot quickly around a bend below and came into slight. The savages were seated, as their custom is, in the bottom of their bark, so that only heads and shoulders were visible. As each applied his whole strength the canoe skimmed over the surface like a young duck, while the dashing of so many paddles caused her to seem propelled by a water-wheel.

Excerpt from Dr. Houghton’s report on small-pox vaccinations:
“”By a comparison of the number of Indians vaccinated upon the borders of Lake Superior, with the actual population, it will be seen that the proportion who have passed through the vaccine disease is so great as to secure them against any general prevalence of the small-pox; and perhaps it is sufficient to prevent the introduction of the disease to the bands beyond, through this channel.  But in the Folle Avoine country it is not so.  Of the large bands of Indians residing in that section of country, only a small fraction of been vaccinated; while of other bands not a single person has passed through the disease.”
Narrative of an expedition through the upper Mississippi to Itasca Lake, the actual source of this river : embracing an exploratory trip through the St. Croix and Burntwood (or Broule) Rivers, in 1832, by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, 1834, page 253.

Our leader’s boat, which was ahead, immediately lay to and raised her American flag. “If they want to fight,” said the Doctor, “we’ll give them a chance.” Our two boats moved into line, and the doctor’s assistants armed themselves, one with a revolver, the other with a rusty shot-gun, our entire military resource. The canoe was soon alongside, and the heads and shoulders proved to belong the bodies of eight stout natives, headed by the young chief. Dr. Houghton held out his hand to be shaken as before. He then asked, through an interpreter, if they recollected the man who had put something into their arms when they were sick, a number of years ago. This something was vaccine for the small-pox, Doctor H. having accompanied the Schoolcraft expedition, in the capacity of physician and botanist. To this the chief, who doubtless well knew, made no reply, but demanded our errand up the river, and said that he and his men had been stationed at the mouth by his father, the head of the tribe, with orders to allow no boat to pass up without that chief’s permission. He added further, that we had not paid him, the son, the respect that was his due, by calling at his lodge and leaving a present. Our leader replied that he was sent hither by their great Father, whose instructions he should obey; that he should ascend the river as far as suited him, and that he did not recognize in them any authority to stop him.

Is this a photo of Jechiikwii’o wearing the 1826 medal in 1856-7? You be the judge.
~ Error Correction: Photo Mystery Still Unsolved

Chief. You must wait at the mouth until the Buffalo comes up. Else I and my band shall go with you, and see that you take nothing.

Doctor. I have been here before, and shall go now, as I am ordered by your great Father. I know the country and do not need a guide.

Chief. This country belongs to us.

Doctor. I know that the country is Indian territory, but the treaty of 1826 allows citizens of the United States to visit it. Neither shall I ask consent of the chief to take what I please. But, being acquainted with the Buffalo, I have no objection to showing him what I bring away.

At this stage of the alteration another canoe came in sight, which proved to contain the boys. By this time two of the Indians had made free to step into our small boat, where they seated themselves with great appearance of familiarity. The affair would have had enough of the ludicrous mingled with its serious aspect to warrant us in making light of it, and holding no further parley, but for two considerations, which we could not afford to overlook. Owing to the numerous rapids, the barge, which contained our whole stock, could be got up only ten miles, while we had to proceed to the forks, twenty miles further, in our smaller boat, and thence five miles by foot. And in case of a trial of strength with the Indians, no dependence could be placed upon our hired voyageurs, most of whom were allied to the opposite party, both in blood and training.

Pointing to a bend in the river, our detainers now said, “We are determined that you shall not go beyond that point to-night.” This audacious order determined us to at once break off all conference, so asserting our intention to be no longer hindered or delayed, we prepared for immediate departure. After some consultation among themselves, the chief answered, that if we would then and there make them a present of a keg of pork and a barrel of flour we would be allowed to proceed, but should be expected to bestow a further present to the head chief on our return.

To this bold demand, which plainly appeared to be a levy of blackmail, an act of piracy, Dr. Houghton replied that he would give them as a present such things as they stood in immediate need of, but nothing more. Nor should he recognize the shadow of a right to demand even that. Accordingly, a bag filled with flour, and some pork and tobacco were offered, and the leader agreed to accept his present in powder, lead, and provisions at La Pointe, whither we were bound.

The parley being at an end, we drew off and pushed up the stream. The hostiles remained awhile in consultation, and then withdrew in the opposite direction. A few miles above we encamped for the night.

It was a necessity, as I have stated, to leave our barge behind with all our stores, while the exploring party were absent for two days and a night. Of course this dilemma was known to the enemy. Holding a council of war the next morning, it was resolved to leave with our goods four of the men, together with the gun. They received most positive orders to fire upon the first Indian who touched the baggage, in case any of them should return, as we had reason to expect. And our captain added with solemn emphasis, that if any man failed in fidelity, his own life should pay the forfeit. Having thus played upon their fears, we pursued our laborious journey, reached the Copper Rock at nightfall, and tired with the day’s toils, laid down beneath the cover of the forest and slept soundly.

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

“Engraving depicting the [1820] Schoolcraft expedition crossing the Ontonagon River to investigate a copper boulder.”
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

The next morning we proceeded to the difficult task of detaching portions of the metallic mass, which was successfully accomplished, and we brought away about twenty-five pounds of it. I will here add, that this copper boulder was, a few years afterwards, removed through the agency of Mr. Eldred, of Detroit, and taken to Washington, where it enriches the museum of the Smithsonian Institution. It is now no novelty to see very much larger masses brought down and landed on the dock at our smelting works.

But to conclude the narrative: on reaching camp, on our return, we learned that the chief, with several of this band, had been there, but had touched nothing, and according to his own account, had taken the trail for Lake Flambeau, in order to join a war-party, then organizing, of the Chippewas against the Sioux. Notwithstanding this story we fully expected to meet these fellows again at the mouth, and to whip them there if we could. But when we reached the place all was silent, and the lodges deserted.

Page 57: “Falls at the mouth of Montreal River.”

I will only add to this long story, that our captain’s order was never presented. We learned further, on reaching La Pointe, that the party which waylaid us had known of our journey from the first; that they had “smoked over it,” had dogged us the whole way up the lake, subsisting themselves by fishing, and that when we met they were nearly starved.

I will take my hearers but one stage further before closing this excursive ramble.

http://www.mnopedia.org/multimedia/charles-w-borup

Charles William Wulff Borup
~ Minnesota Historical Society

Charles Henry Oakes ~ Findagrave.com

Charles Henry Oakes
~ Findagrave.com

A few days brought us to the islands called by Carver “The Apostles.” On one of the largest of these, Madeline, at La Pointe, is located a general depot of the American Fur Company, for all the western parts of the lake, and the chain of lakes and rivers leading into it. It had become, in consequence, an asylum for all the old traders of that part of the country, and the temporary abode to great numbers of Indians. After pitching our tents on the beach, in front of the fort, amid a crowd of Indians and equally idle half-breeds, we were welcomed by the company’s factor, Dr. Borup, Mr. Oakes, the factor from Fond-dulac, and Mr. Bushnell, the Indian agent, and invited to all the hospitalities of the place.

During our whole voyage from the Sault we had not seen the face of a white man, except at the mission of L’Anse, and a casual fishing party. But here, at the end of our wandering, far from what we had been accustomed to consider the limits of civilization, we were greeted, in the families of these gentlemen, not only by features to which we had been so long strangers, but by all the attendant civilized refinements. The dress and manners of the East, the free converse with friendly voices of our own and the gentler sex, the music of a piano, the sound of the church-going bell and Christian services, seemed to us rather like a return to our homes than the extreme of a two-months’ journey in the wilderness.

It may interest my hearer to know in more detail what composed a post so remote, and which was to me so much a surprise.

Borup and Oakes were La Pointe agents for the American Fur Company, and had married into the powerful Beaulieu family of Chippewa mixed-blood traders, and were signatories of 1842 Treaty at La Pointe and 1847 Treaty at Fond du Lac.  Sometime between 1832 and 1836, Borup and Oakes relocated the economic center of La Pointe from its original site at Old Fort to New Fort where it is today.  They became first bankers in Minnesota during the 1850’s.

La Pointe at that period was one of those peculiar growths known only to a era which has long passed away, or been banished to regions still more remote. What is called the company’s “fort” consisted of two large stores painted red, a long storehouse for fish, at the wharf, and row of neat frame buildings painted white. The latter were occupied by the half dozen families in the company’s employ. These dwellings, with the two stores, formed opposite sides of a broad street, in the centre square of which was planted a large flag-pole. Upon this street also clustered sundry smaller and unpainted log tenements of the French and half-breeds. Half a mile from the fort were the Protestant and Catholic missions. The former boasted a good frame mansion of two stories, attached to which was a school, numbering thirty scholars. The Catholic mission had a large number of followers, including the French and Indians. In all, the settlement contained about fifty permanent tenements. Beside these were perhaps an equal number of Indian lodges, irregularly disposed in vacant spaces, and adding to the size and picturesque character of the village. Several hundred Indians usually found constant employ in the fisheries at this place.

This was the oldest, as well as most remote, of the Jesuit missions in the North-west, having been established by Father Allouez, in 1665. It was then a gathering place of many Indian nations, and was hundreds of miles from the nearest French settlement.

It has additional interest from the fact that it witnessed the youthful and zealous labors of Pere Marquette, who came, in 1669, to take the place of Father Allouez, among the Ottawas, Hurons, and other tribes of the neighborhood. It was at La Pointe that Marquette planned that voyage of first discovery, exploration and missionary enterprise down the Mississippi which has rendered his name illustrious.

Page 61: “Pere Marquette. (From the statue at City Hall, Detroit.)”

In the families I have mentioned might be detected an intermixture of Indian blood, which detracts little even from the fairness of the daughters, and the ladies as well as the gentlemen are intelligent and highly educated. Their lives, when not occupied in business, are spent in reading and music; and during the long, cold winter, frequent rides are taken on the ice, upon which they pass from island to island in sledges drawn by dogs.

I could not but picture to my mind, outside of this intelligent circle, the festivities which marked this distant post, at that season, in the more palmy days of the fur trade; when it would be crowded with the hangers-on of such an establishment, returned-returned from their sojourn in the trapping grounds, or their toilsome voyages to and from Montreal and Quebec, bent on lavishing away their season’s earnings in days of idleness or debauch, and in “long nights of revelry and ease.”

Much of this old-time character still remained. The motley population, the unique village, the fisheries and furs, the Indian dances and pow-wows, the mixture of civilization and barbarism, the isolation, broken only be occasional and irregular arrivals from the world below,—made up a scene for which we were little prepared, which will not be easily forgotten, but of which I can give only this meagre description.

By Amorin Mello

Charles Candee Baldwin ~ Memorial of Charles Candee Baldwin, LL. D.: Late President of the Western Reserve Historical Society, 1896, page iii.

C.C. Baldwin was a friend, colleague, and biographer of Charles Whittlesey.
Memorial of Charles Candee Baldwin, LL. D.: Late President of the Western Reserve Historical Society, 1896, page iii.

This is a reproduction of Colonel Charles Whittlesey’s biography from the Magazine of Western History, Volume V, pages 534-548, as published by his successor Charles Candee Baldwin from the Western Reserve Historical Society.  This biography provides extensive and intimate details about the life and profession of Whittlesey not available in other accounts about this legendary man.

Whittlesey came to Lake Superior in 1845 while working for the Algonquin Mining Company along the Keweenaw Peninsula’s copper region.  His first trip to Chequamegon Bay appears to have been in 1849 while doing do a geological survey of the Penokee Mountains for David Dale Owen.  Whittlesey played a dramatic role in American settlement of the Chequamegon Bay region.  Whittlesey convinced his brother, Asaph Whittlesey Jr., to move from the Western Reserve in 1854 establish what became the City of Ashland at the head of Chequamegon Bay as a future port town for extracting and shipping minerals from the Penokee Mountains.  Whittlesey’s influence can still be witnessed to this day through local landmarks named in his honor:

Whittlesey published more than two hundred books, pamphlets, and articles.  For additional research resources, the extensive Charles Whittlesey Papers are available through the Western Reserve Historical Society in two series:


 

 

COLONEL CHARLES WHITTLESEY.

Map of the Connecticut Western Reserve in Ohio by William Sumner, September 1826. ~ Cleveland Public Library

Map of the Connecticut Western Reserve in Ohio by William Sumner, September 1826.
~ Cleveland Public Library

Asaph Whittlesey [Sr], Late of Tallmadge, Summit Co., Ohio by Vesta Hart Whittlesey and Susan Everett Whittlesey, né Fitch, 1872.

[Father] Asaph Whittlesey [Sr], Late of Tallmadge, Summit Co., Ohio by [mother] Vesta Hart Whittlesey [posthumously] and [stepmother] Susan Everett Whittlesey, né Fitch, 1872.
~ Archive.org

Colonel Charles Whittlesey, late president of the Western Reserve Historical society, was born in Southington, Connecticut, October 4, 1808.  He was the son of Asaph and Vesta (Hart) Whittlesey, who settled in Ohio in 1815.  Asaph Whittlesey was a lad of unusual activity and spirits.  His constitution was fine, but he was, just before he was of age, severely injured by the falling of a tree.  For some time it was thought his back was broken.  The accident so impaired him for farm labor that it changed his life.  He removed from Salisbury, Connecticut, to Southington and became a partner with his brother Chester, as a merchant.  He married in 1807 Vesta Hart of that place.  In the spring of 1813, he started for Tallmadge, Portage county, Ohio, in a four horse wagon, with his wife and two children, one of whom is the subject of this sketch.

War was then in the west, and his neighbors feared they might be the victims of the scalping knife.  But the danger was different.  In passing the Narrows, between Pittsburgh and Beaver, the wagon ran off a bank and turned completely over on the wife and children.  They were rescued and revived, but the accident permanently impaired the health of Mr. Whittlesey.

Mr. Whittlesey was in Tallmadge, justice of the peace from soon after his arrival till near the close of his life, and postmaster from 1814, when the office was first established, to his death.  He was again severely injured, but a strong constitution and unflinching will enabled him to accomplish much.  He had a store, buying goods in Pittsburgh and bringing them in wagons to Tallmadge; and an ashery; and in 1818 he commenced the manufacture of iron on the Little Cuyahoga, below Middlebury.

The times were hard, tariff reduced, and in 1828 he returned to his farm prematurely old.  He died in 1842. Says General Bierce,


“His intellect was naturally of a high order, his religious convictions were strong and never yielded to policy or expediency. He was plain in speech, sometimes abrupt. Those who respected him were more numerous than those who loved him. But for his friends, no one had a stronger attachment. His dislikes were not very well concealed or easily removed. In short, he was a man of strong mind, strong feelings, strong prejudices, strong affections and strong attachments, yet the whole was tempered with a strong sense of justice and strong religious feelings.”


Elisha Whittlesey ~ Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives

[Uncle] Elisha Whittlesey
~ Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives

“He had,” says the Ohio Observer , “a retentive and accurate memory.”  Colonel Whittlesey’s mother received the best advantages which a New England town afforded, and became herself a teacher.  She was very happy in correspondence, and fond of writing letters, and she left quite a voluminous diary, which is an excellent example of felicity in composition.  His father was brother to Hon. Elisha Whittlesey, a lawyer of Canfield, Ohio, who settled there in 1806.  Having some knowledge of military tactics, in 1808 he was ensign of a company and soon after captain.  He served in the War of 1812, rose to the rank of brigade major and inspector.  He was eight times elected to congress, and long first comptroller in the United States treasury.  Elisha Whittlesey had much taste and great knowledge of western history.

Portrait of David Bacon from ConnecticutHistory.org: "David Bacon (1771 – August 27, 1817) was an American missionary in Michigan Territory. He was born in Woodstock, Connecticut. He worked primarily with the Ottawa and Chippewa tribes, although they were not particularly receptive to his Christian teachings. He founded the town of Tallmadge, Ohio, which later became the center of the Congregationalist faith in Ohio." ~ Wikipedia.org

Portrait of Reverend David Bacon from ConnecticutHistory.org:
“David Bacon (1771 – August 27, 1817) was an American missionary in Michigan Territory. He was born in Woodstock, Connecticut. He worked primarily with the Ottawa and Chippewa tribes, although they were not particularly receptive to his Christian teachings. He founded the town of Tallmadge, Ohio, which later became the center of the Congregationalist faith in Ohio.”
~ Wikipedia.org

Tallmadge was settled in 1808 as a religious colony of New England Congregationalists, by a colony led by Rev. David Bacon, a missionary to the Indians.  This affected the society in which the boy lived, and exercised much influence on the morality of the town and the future of its children, one of whom was the Rev. Leonard Bacon.  Rev. Timlow’s History of Southington says, “Mr. Whittlesey moved to Tallmadge, having become interested in settling a portion of Portage county with Christian families.”  And that he was a man “of surpassing excellence of character.”

If it should seem that I have dwelt upon the parents of Colonel Whittlesey, it is because his own character and career were strongly affected by their characters and history.  Charles, the son, combined the traits of the two.  He commenced school at four years old in Southington; the next year he attended the log school house at Tallmadge until 1819, when the frame academy was finished and he attended it in winter, working on the farm in summer until he was nineteen.

The boy, too, saw early life on foot, horseback and with ox-teams.  He found the Indians still on the Reserve, and in person witnessed the change from savage life and new settlements, to a state of three millions of people, and a large city around him.  One of Colonel Whittlesey’s happiest speeches is a sketch of log cabin times in Tallmadge, delivered at the semi-centennial there in 1857.

Colonel Charles Whittlesey’s military history is detailed in Volume I, pages 495-498 of Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, since its establishment in 1802 by George W. Cullum.  Whittlesey as a graduate from the Class of 1831, along with Henry Clay Jr (son of Senator Henry Clay Sr).  During 1832, Whittlesey was assigned to Fort Howard (located in what is now Green Bay, Wisconsin), where he studied Great Lakes water levels.  The Wisconsin Territory would not become established until 1836.
“In conformity with the spirit of the act authorizing the Geological Survey, the Topographer, Col. Whittlesey, has also been instructed to survey the remains of ancient works, which are so numerous within our territory. The plans and descriptions of these works will be given in the final report. Col. Whittlesey’s slight notice of some of these will be found in his report, which is annexed.”
~ Annual Report on the Geological Survey of the State of Ohio: 1837 by Ohio Geologist William Williams Mather, 1838, page 22.

In 1827 the youngster became a cadet at West Point.  Here he displayed industry, and in some unusual incidents there, coolness and courage.  He graduated in 1831, and became brevet second lieutenant in the Fifth United States infantry, and in November started to join his regiment at Mackinaw.  He did duty through the winter with the garrison at Fort Gratiot.  In the spring he was assigned at Green Bay to the company of Captain Martin Scott, so famous as a shot.  At the close of the Black Hawk War he resigned from the army.  Though recognizing the claim of the country to the services of the graduates of West Point, he tendered his services to the government during the Seminole Mexican war.  By a varied experience his life thereafter was given to wide and general uses.  He at first opened a law office in Cleveland, Ohio, and was fully occupied in his profession, and as part owner and co-editor of the Whig and Herald until the year 1837.  He was that year appointed assistant geologist of the state of Ohio.  Through very uneconomical economy, the survey was discontinued at the end of two years, when the work was partly done and no final reports had been made.  Of course most of the work and its results were lost.  Great and permanent good indeed resulted to the material wealth of the state, in disclosing the rich coal and iron deposit of southeastern Ohio, thus laying the foundation for the vast manufacturing industries which have made that portion of the state populous and prosperous.  The other gentlemen associated with him were Professor William Mather as principal; Dr. Kirtland was entrusted with natural history.  Others were Dr. S. P. Hildreth, Dr. Caleb Briggs, Jr., Professor John Locke and Dr. J. W. Foster.  It was an able corps, and the final results would have been very valuable and accurate.  In 1884, Colonel Whittlesey was sole survivor and said in this Magazine:


“Fifty years since, geology had barely obtained a standing among the sciences even in Europe.  In Ohio it was scarcely recognized.  The state at that time was more of a wilderness than a cultivated country, and the survey was in progress little more than two years.  It was unexpectedly brought to a close without a final report.  No provision was made for the preservation of papers, field notes and maps.”


Professor Newbury, in a brief resume of the work of the first survey (report of 1869), says the benefits derived “conclusively demonstrate that the geological survey was a producer and not a consumer, that it added far more than it took from the public treasury and deserved special encouragement and support as a wealth producing agency in our darkest financial hour.”   The publication of the first board, “did much,” says Professor Newberry, “to arrest useless expenditure of money in the search for coal outside of the coal fields and in other mining enterprises equally fallacious, by which, through ignorance of the teachings of geology, parties were constantly led to squander their means.”   “It is scarcely less important to let our people know what we have not, than what we have, among our mineral resources.”

Ohio’s ‘State Documents’ of 1838 and 1839 were not identified for this reproduction.
"Descriptions of Ancient Works in Ohio. By Charles Whittlesey, of the late Geological Corps of Ohio." ~ Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge, Vol. III., Article 7,1852.

“Descriptions of Ancient Works in Ohio. By Charles Whittlesey, of the late Geological Corps of Ohio.”
~ Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge, Volume III., Article 7, 1852.

The topographical and mathematical parts of the survey were committed to Colonel Whittlesey.  He made partial reports, to be found in the ‘State Documents’ of 1838 and 1839, but his knowledge acquired in the survey was of vastly greater service in many subsequent writings, and, as a foundation for learning, made useful in many business enterprises of Ohio.  He had, during this survey, examined and surveyed many ancient works in the state, and, at its close, Mr. Joseph Sullivant, a wealthy gentleman interested in archaeology, residing in Columbus, proposed that, he bearing the actual expense, Whittlesey should continue the survey of the works of the Mound Builders, with a view to joint publication.  During the years 1839 and 1840, and under the arrangement, he made examination of nearly all the remaining works then discovered, but nothing was done toward their publication.  Many of his plans and notes were used by Messrs. Squier & Davis, in 1845 and 1846, in their great work, which was the first volume of the Smithsonian Contributions, and in that work these gentlemen said:


“Among the most zealous investigators in the field of American antiquarian research is Charles Whittlesey, esq., of Cleveland, formerly topographical engineer of Ohio.  His surveys and observations, carried on for many years and over a wide field, have been both numerous and accurate, and are among the most valuable in all respects of any hitherto made.  Although Mr. Whittlesey, in conjunction with Joseph Sullivant, esq., of Columbus, originally contemplated a joint work, in which the results of his investigations should be embodied, he has, nevertheless, with a liberality which will be not less appreciated by the public than by the authors, contributed to this memoir about twenty plans of ancient works, which, with the accompanying explanations and general observations, will be found embodied in the following pages.

“It is to be hoped the public may be put in possession of the entire results of Mr. Whittlesey’s labor, which could not fail of adding greatly to our stock of knowledge on this interesting subject.”


"Marietta Works, Ohio. Charles Whittlesey, Surveyor 1837." ~ Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge, Volume I., Plate XXVI.

“Marietta Works, Ohio. Charles Whittlesey, Surveyor 1837.”
~ Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge, Volume I., Plate XXVI.

It will be seen that Mr. Whittlesey was now fairly started, interested and intelligent, in the several fields which he was to make his own.  And his very numerous writings may be fairly divided into geology, archaeology, history, religion, with an occasional study of topographical geology.  A part of Colonel Whittlesey’s surveys were published in 1850, as one of the Smithsonian contributions; portions of the plans and minutes were unfortunately lost.  Fortunately the finest and largest works surveyed by him were published. Among those in the work of Squier & Davis, were the wonderful extensive works at Newark, and those at Marietta.  No one again could see those works extending over areas of twelve and fifteen miles, as he did.  Farmers cannot raise crops without plows, and the geography of the works at Newark must still be learned from the work of Colonel Whittlesey.

“An aged Chippeway, by the name of Kundickan [Okandikan], whom I met on the Ontonagon in 1845, stated that as he was one day sailing along the western shore of the Gogebic (or Akogebe) Lake, at the head of the west branch of that river, he heard an explosion on the face of a rocky cliff that overlooked the water, and saw pieces of something fall at a distance from him, both in the lake and on the beach. When he had found some of them, they proved to be a white metal, like ‘Shuneaw’ [Zhooniyaa(money), which the white man gives to the Indians at La Pointe.”
~ Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge, Volume XIII., Article IV., page 2 of “Ancient Mining on the Shores of Lake Superior” by Charles Whittlesey.
Charles Whittlesey’s article about his experience working for the Algonquin Mining Company in 1845A, Two Months in the Copper Region,” was reproduced here on Chequamegon History.

He made an agricultural survey of Hamilton county in 1844.  That year the copper mines of Michigan began to excite enthusiasm.  The next year a company was organized in Detroit, of which Colonel Whittlesey was the geologist.  In August they launched their boat above the rapids of the Sault St. Marie and coasted along the shore to where is now Marquette.  Iron ore was beneath notice, and in truth was no then transportable, and they pulled away for Copper Harbor, and then to the region between Portage lake and Ontonagon, where the Algonquin and Douglas Houghton mines were opened.  The party narrowly escaped drowning the night they landed.  Dr. Houghton was drowned the same night not far from them.  A very interesting and life-like account of their adventures was published by Colonel Whittlesey in the National Magazine of New York City, entitled “Two Months in the Copper Regions.”  From 1847 to 1851 inclusive, he was employed by the United States in the survey of the country around Lake Superior and the upper Mississippi, in reference to mines and minerals.  After that he spent much time in exploring and surveying the mineral district of the Lake Superior basin.  The wild life of the woods with a guide and voyageurs threading the streams had great attractions for him and he spent in all fifteen seasons upon Lake Superior and the upper Mississippi, becoming thoroughly familiar with the topography and geological character of that part of the country.

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

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

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

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

Whittlesey’s 1865 report was not immediately identified for this reproduction.

His detailed examination extended along the copper range from the extreme east of Point Keweenaw to Ontonagon, through the Porcupine mountain to the Montreal river, and thence to Long lake in Wisconsin, a distance of two hundred miles.  In 1849, 1850 and 1858 he explored the valley of the Menominee river from its mouth to the Brule.  He was the first geologist to explore the South range.  The Wisconsin Geological Survey (Vol. 3 pp. 490 and 679) says this range was first observed by him, and that he many years ago drew attention to its promise of merchantable ores which are now extensively developed from the Wauceda to the Commonwealth mines, and for several miles beyond.  He examined the north shore from Fond du Lac east, one hundred miles, the copper range of Minnesota and on the St. Louis river to the bounds of our country.  His report was published by the state in 1865, and was stated by Professor Winchill to be the most valuable made.

All his geological work was thorough, and the development of the mineral resources which he examined, and upon which he reported, gave the best proofs of his scientific ability and judgment.

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

“Outline Map Showing the Position of the Ancient Mine Pits of Point Keweenaw, Michigan by Charles Whittlesey.” 
~ Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge, Volume XIII., Article IV., frontpiece of “Ancient Mining on the Shores of Lake Superior” by Charles Whittlesey, 1863.

With the important results from his labors in Ohio in mind, the state of Wisconsin secured his services upon the geological survey of that state, carried on in 1858, 1859 and 1860, and terminated only by the war.  The Wisconsin survey was resumed by other parties, and the third volume of the Report for Northern Wisconsin, page 58, says:


The Contract of James Hall with Charles Whittlesey is available from the Journal of the Assembly of Wisconsin, Volume I, pages 178-179, 1862.  Whittlesey was to perform “a careful geological survey of the country lying between the Montreal river on the east, and the westerly branches of [the] Bad River on west”.  This contract was unfulfilled due to the outbreak of the American Civil War.  Whittlesey independently published his survey of the Penokee Mountains in 1865 without Hall.  Some of Whittlesey”s pamphlets have been republished here on Chequamegon History in the Western Reserve category of posts.

“The only geological examinations of this region, however, previous to those on which the report is based, and deserving the name, were those of Colonel Charles Whittlesey of Cleveland, Ohio.  This gentleman was connected with Dr. D. D. Owen’s United States geological survey of Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota, and in this connection examined the Bad River country, in 1848.  The results are given in Dr. Owen’s final report, published in Washington, in 1852.  In 1860 (August to October) Colonel Whittlesey engaged in another geological exploration in Ashland, Bayfield and Douglass counties, as part of the geological survey of Wisconsin, then organized under James Hall.  His report, presented to Professor Hall in the ensuing year, was never published, on account of the stoppage of the survey.  A suite of specimens, collected by Colonel Whittlesey during these explorations, is at present preserved in the cabinet of the state university at Madison, and it bears testimony to the laborious manner in which that gentleman prosecuted the work.  Although the report was never published, he has issued a number of pamphlet publications, giving the main results obtained by him.  A list of them, with full extracts from some of them, will be found in an appendix to the report.  In the same appendix I have reproduced a geological map of this region, prepared by Colonel Whittlesey in 1860.”


"Geological Map of the Penokie Range" by Charles Whittlesey, December 1860. ~ Geology of Wisconsin. Survey of 1873-1879. Volume III., 1880, Plate XX, page 214.

“Geological Map of the Penokie Range.” by Charles Whittlesey, Dec. 1860.
~ Geology of Wisconsin. Survey of 1873-1879. Volume III., 1880, Plate XX, page 214.

“Foreseeing that the South would resist the declared wish of the nation in the election of Lincoln, Whittlesey promptly enrolled himself in the body-guard which was to escort the President-elect to Washington.”
Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, since its establishment in 1802 by George W. Cullum, page 496.

“The Baltimore Plot was an alleged conspiracy in late February 1861 to assassinate President-elect Abraham Lincoln en route to his inauguration. Allan Pinkerton, founder of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, played a key role by managing Lincoln’s security throughout the journey. Though scholars debate whether or not the threat was real, clearly Lincoln and his advisors believed that there was a threat and took actions to ensure his safe passage through Baltimore, Maryland.”
Wikipedia.org

Such was Colonel Whittlesey’s employment when the first signs of the civil war appeared.  He abandoned it at once.  He became a member of one of the military companies that tendered its services to President-elect Lincoln, when he was first threatened, in February, 1861.  He became quickly convinced that war was inevitable, and urged the state authorities that Ohio be put at once in preparation for it; and it was partly through his influence that Ohio was so very ready for the fray, in which, at first, the general government relied on the states.  Two days after the proclamation of April 15, 1861, he joined the governor’s staff as assistant quartermaster-general.  He served in the field in West Virginia with the three months’ men, as state military engineer; with the Ohio troops, under General McClellan, Cox and Hill.  At Seary Run, on the Kanawha, July 17, 1861, he distinguished himself by intrepidity and coolness during a severe engagement, in which his horse was shot under him.  At the expiration of the three months’ service, he was appointed colonel of the Twentieth regiment, Ohio volunteers, and detailed by General Mitchell as chief engineer of the department of Ohio, where he planned and constructed the defenses of Cincinnati.

"Asaph Whittlesey dressed for his journey from Ashland to Madison, Wisconsin, to take up his seat in the state legislature. Whittlesey is attired for the long trek in winter gear including goggles, a walking staff, and snowshoes." Circa 1860. ~ Wisconsin Historical Society

“[Brother] Asaph Whittlesey [Jr.] dressed for his journey from Ashland to Madison, Wisconsin, to take up his seat in the state legislature. Whittlesey is attired for the long trek in winter gear including goggles, a walking staff, and snowshoes.” Circa 1860.
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

In December, 1861, he was ordered to Kentucky with four companies of infantry, to suppress the rebel element in several counties, with headquarters at Warsaw.  In the Magazine of Western History for April, 1885, he gives an interesting account of his experiences there.  On the day before Christmas, 1861, loyal citizens from Kentucky represented that several counties in that state were in a condition of anarchy.  Kentucky had not then seceded, and Colonel Whittlesey was sent to protect Union citizens, prevent rebel enlistments, secure all their arms, and preserve order.  The transports reached Warsaw at nine p. m., and within two hours a number of the most active men sustaining the rebellion were arrested and on their way to Camp Chase.  The practice of releasing on taking the oath of allegiance had become a standing joke.  Colonel Whittlesey substituted agreements by which they severally agreed, that, in case they threatened or injured the persons or property of Union men, or committed any act in aid of the present rebellion and the southern confederacy, they were to be held summarily responsible in person and property.  Sometimes security was required.  These agreements were generally kept.  His administration there was very successful, and a Kentucky Union legislator said “his course had effected much good for the Union cause,” and that “his promptness and decision met with universal praise.”  Colonel Whittlesey was in command of his regiment at the taking of Fort Donelson, and was sent north with the prisoners, of whom over ten thousand five hundred were committed to him.  The movement on Donelson was made in February, 1862.  In 1876 was published a letter from Colonel Whittlesey to General Halleck, dated November 20, 1861, as follows:


“SIR: Will you allow me to suggest the consideration of a great movement by land and water, up the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers.

First, Would it not allow of water transportation half way to Nashville?

Second, Would it not necessitate the evacuation of Columbus, by threatening their railway communications?

Third, Would it not necessitate the retreat of General Buckner, by threatening his railway lines?

Fourth, Is it not the most feasible route into Tennessee?”


This plan was adopted, and Colonel Whittlesey’s regiment took part in its execution.

In April, 1862, on the second day of the battle of Shiloh, Colonel Whittlesey commanded the Third brigade of General Wallace’s division — the Twentieth, Fifty-sixth, Seventy-sixth and Seventy-eighth Ohio regiments.  “It was against the line of that brigade that General Beauregard attempted to throw the whole weight of his force for a last desperate charge; but he was driven back by the terrible fire, that his men were unable to face.”  As to his conduct, Senator Sherman said in the United States senate.1


The official report of General Wallace leaves little to be said.  The division commander says, “The firing was grand and terrible.  Before us was the Crescent regiment of New Orleans; shelling us on our right was the Washington artillery of Manassas renown, whose last charge was made in front of Colonel Whittlesey’s command.”


"This is an engraved portrait of Charles Whittlesey, a prominent soldier, attorney, scholar, newspaper editor, and geologist during the nineteenth century. He participated in a geological survey of Ohio conducted in the late 1830s, during which he discovered numerous Native American earthworks. In 1867, Whittlesey helped establish the Western Reserve Historical Society, and he served as the organization's president until his death in 1886. Whittlesey also wrote approximately two hundred books and articles, mostly on geology and Ohio's early history." ~ Ohio History Central

“This is an engraved portrait of Charles Whittlesey, a prominent soldier, attorney, scholar, newspaper editor, and geologist during the nineteenth century. He participated in a geological survey of Ohio conducted in the late 1830s, during which he discovered numerous Native American earthworks. In 1867, Whittlesey helped establish the Western Reserve Historical Society, and he served as the organization’s president until his death in 1886. Whittlesey also wrote approximately two hundred books and articles, mostly on geology and Ohio’s early history.”
~ Ohio History Central

General Force, then lieutenant-colonel under Colonel Whittlesey, fully describes the battle,2 and quotes General Wallace.  “The nation is indebted to our brigade for the important services rendered, with the small loss it sustained and the manner in which Colonel Whittlesey handled it.”

Colonel Whittlesey was fortunate in escaping with his life, for General Force says, it was ascertained that the rebels had been deliberately firing at him, sometimes waiting to get a line shot.

Colonel Whittlesey had for some time been in bad health, and contemplating resignation, but deferring it for a decisive battle.  Regarding this battle as virtually closing the campaign in the southwest, and believing the Rebellion to be near its end, he now sent it in.

General Grant endorsed his application, “We cannot afford to lose so good an officer.”

“Few officers,” it is said, “retired from the army with a cleaner or more satisfactory record, or with greater regret on the part of their associates.”  The Twentieth was an early volunteer regiment.  The men were citizens of intelligence and character.  They reached high discipline without severity, and without that ill-feeling that often existed between men and their officers.  There was no emergency in which they could not be relied upon.  “Between them and their commander existed a strong mutual regard, which, on their part, was happily expressed by a letter signed by all the non-commissioned officers.”


“CAMP SHILOH, NEAR PITTSBURGH LANDING, TENNESSEE,  April 21, 1862.

“COL. CHAS. WHITTLESEY:

Sir — We deeply regret that you have resigned the command of the Twentieth Ohio.  The considerate care evinced for the soldiers in camp, and, above all, the courage, coolness and prudence displayed on the battle-field, have inspired officers and men with the highest esteem for, and most unbounded confidence in our commander.

“From what we have seen at Fort Donelson, and at the bloody field near Pittsburgh, on Monday, the seventh, all felt ready to follow you unfalteringly into any contest and into any post of danger.

“While giving expression to our unfeigned sorrow at your departure from us, and assurance of our high regard and esteem for you, and unwavering confidence as our leader, we would follow you with the earnest hope that your future days may be spent in uninterrupted peace and quiet, enjoying the happy reflections and richly earned rewards of well-spent service in the cause of our blessed country in its dark hour of need.”


Said Mr. W. H. Searles, who served under him, at the memorial meeting of the Engineers Club of Cleveland: “In the war he was genial and charitable, but had that conscientious devotion to duty characteristic of a West Point soldier.”

Since Colonel Whittlesey’s decease the following letter was received:


“CINCINNATI, November 10, 1886.

“DEAR MRS. WHITTLESEY: — Your noble husband has got release from the pains and ills that made life a burden.  His active life was a lesson to us how to live.  His latter years showed us how to endure.  To all of us in the Twentieth Ohio regiment he seemed a father.  I do not know any other colonel that was so revered by his regiment.  Since the war he has constantly surprised me with his incessant literary and scientific activity.  Always his character was an example and an incitement.  Very truly yours,

“M. F. Force.”


Colonel Whittlesey now turned his attention at once again to explorations in the Lake Superior and upper Mississippi basins, and “new additions to the mineral wealth of the country were the result of his surveys and researches.”  His geological papers commencing again in 1863, show his industry and ability.

It happened during his life many times, and will happen again and again, that his labors as an original investigator have borne and will bear fruit long afterwards, and, as the world looks at fruition, of much greater value to others than to himself.

“Geological Report on that Portion of Wisconsin Bordering on the South Shore of Lake Superior Surveyed in the Year 1849, Under the Direction of David Dale Owen, United States Geologist. By Charles Whittlesey, Head of Sub-Corps.”
~ Report of a geological survey of Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota: and incidentally of a portion of Nebraska Territory, by David Dale Owen, 1852, page 420.

He prognosticated as early as 1848, while on Dr. Owen’s survey, that the vast prairies of the northwest would in time be the great wheat region.  These views were set forth in a letter requested by Captain Mullen of the Topographical Engineers, who had made a survey for the Northern Pacific railroad, and was read by him in a lecture before the New York Geographical society in the winter of 1863-4.

He examined the prairies between the head of the St. Louis river and Rainy Lake, between the Grand fork of Rainy Lake river and the Mississippi, and between the waters of Cass Lake and those of Red Lake.  All were found so level that canals might be made across the summits more easily than several summits already cut in this country.

In 1879 the project attracted attention, and Mr. Seymour, the chief engineer and surveyor of New York, became zealous for it, and in his letters of 1880, to the Chambers of Commerce of Duluth and Buffalo, acknowledged the value of the information supplied by Colonel Whittlesey.

Says the Detroit Illustrated News:


“A large part of the distance from the navigable waters of Lake Superior to those of Red river, about three hundred and eight miles, is river channel easily utilized by levels and drains or navigable lakes.  The lift is about one thousand feet to the Cass Lake summit.  At Red river this canal will connect with the Manitoba system of navigation through Lake Winnipeg and the valleys of the Saskatchewan.  Its probable cost is given at less than four millions of dollars, which is below the cost of a railway making the same connections.  And it is estimated that a bushel of wheat may be carried from Red river to New York by water for seventeen cents, or about one-third of the cost of transportation by rail.”


Western Reserve Historical Society

We approach that part of the life of Colonel Whittlesey which was so valuable to our society.  The society was proposed in 1866.3  Colonel Whittlesey’s own account of its foundation is: “The society originally comprised about twenty persons, organized in May, 1867, upon the suggestion of C. C. Baldwin, its present secretary.  The real work fell upon Colonel Whittlesey, Mr. Goodman and Mr. Baldwin, Mr. Goodman devoting nearly all of his time until 1872 (the date of his death).”   The statement is a very modest one on the part of Colonel Whittlesey.  All looked to him to lead the movement, and none other could have approached his efficiency or ability as president of the society.

The society seemed as much to him as a child is to a parent, and his affection for it has been as great.  By his learning, constant devotion without compensation from that time to his death, his value as inspiring confidence in the public, his wide acquaintance through the state, he has accomplished a wonderful result, and this society and its collections may well be regarded as his monument.

Mr. J. P. Holloway, in his memorial notice before the Civil Engineer’s club, of which Colonel Whittlesey was an honorary member, feelingly and justly said:


“Colonel Whittlesey will be best and longest remembered in Cleveland and on the Reserve, for his untiring interest and labors in seeking to rescue from oblivion the pioneer history of this portion of the state, and which culminated in the establishment of the present Western Reserve Historical society, of which for many years he was the presiding officer.  It will be remembered by many here, how for years there was little else of the Western Reserve Historical society, except its active, hard working president.  But as time moved on, and one by one the pioneers were passing away, there began to be felt an increasing interest in preserving not only the relics of a by-gone generation, but also the records of their trials and struggles, until now we can point with a feeling of pride to the collections of a society which owes its existence and success to a master spirit so recently called away.”


The colonel was remarkably successful in collecting the library, in which he interested with excellent pecuniary purpose the late Mr. Case.  He commenced the collection of a permanent fund which is now over ten thousand dollars.  It had reached that amount when its increase was at once stopped by the panic of 1873, and while it was growing most rapidly.  The permanent rooms, the large and very valuable museum, are all due in greatest measure to the colonel’s intelligent influence and devotion.

I well remember the interest with which he received the plan; the instant devotion to it, the zeal with which at once and before the society was started, he began the preparation of his valuable book, The Early History of Cleveland, published during the year.

Colonel Whittlesey was author of — I had almost said most, and I may with no dissent say— the most valuable publications of the society.  His own very wide reputation as an archaeologist and historian also redounded to its credit.  But his most valuable work was not the most showy, and consisted in the constant and indefatigable zeal he had from 1867 to 1886, in its prosperity.  These were twenty years when the welfare of the society was at all times his business and never off his mind.  During the last few years Colonel Whittlesey has been confined to his home by rheumatism and other disorders, the seeds of which were contracted years before in his exposed life on Lake Superior, and he has not been at the rooms for years.  He proposed some years since to resign, but the whole society would have felt that the fitness of things was over had the resignation been accepted.  Many citizens of Cleveland recall that if Colonel Whittlesey could no longer travel about the city he could write.  And it was fortunate that he could.  He took great pleasure in reading and writing, and spent much of his time in his work, which continued when he was in a condition in which most men would have surrendered to suffering.

Colonel Whittlesey did not yet regard his labors as finished.  During the last few years of his life religion, and the attitude and relation of science to it, engaged much of his thought, and he not unfrequently contributed an editorial or other article to some newspaper on the subject.  Lately these had taken more systematic shape, and as late as the latter part of September, and within thirty days of his death, he closed a series of articles which were published in the Evangelical Messenger on Theism and Atheism in Science.”  These able articles were more systematic and complete than his previous writings on the subject, and we learn from the Messenger that they will be published in book form.  The paper says:


Colonel Charles Whittlesey of this city, known to our readers as the author of an able series of articles on Theism and Atheism in Sciencejust concluded, has fallen asleep in Jesus.  One who knew the venerable man and loved him for his genuine worth said to us that “his last work on earth was the preparation of these articles . . . which to him was a labor of love and done for Christ’s sake.”


"The Old Whittlesey Homestead, Euclid Avenue [Cleveland, Ohio]." ~ Historical Collections of Ohio in Two Volumes, by Henry Howe, 1907, page 521.

“The Old Whittlesey Homestead, Euclid Avenue.” [Cleveland, Ohio]
~ Historical Collections of Ohio in Two Volumes by Henry Howe, 1907, page 521.

Colonel Whittlesey said when the last was done that his work was finished.  He was then in such a condition that he wrote only while in bed and on his back.  On Sunday morning, October 17, 1886, he was seized with a chill.  He seemed to recover somewhat and appeared no weaker than he had often been within the last few years, but in the morning of the next day he died at the early hour of five.  The writer saw him last on Sunday afternoon, when he spoke as fondly, as anxiously and as thoughtfully of the society as ever, though his mind quickly wandered.

Colonel Whittlesey was married October 4, 1858, to Mrs. Mary E. (Lyon) Morgan4 of Oswego, New York, who survives him; they had no children.

"Char. Whittlesey - Cleveland Ohio, Oct. 30, 1895[?] - Geologist of Ohio." ~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Charles Whittlesey died on October 18th, 1886, and was never Ohio’s State Geologist.  
“Char. Whittlesey – Cleveland Ohio, Oct. 30, 1895[?] – Geologist of Ohio.”
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Colonel Whittlesey’s published literary works were very numerous, commencing in 1833, and ending with his death, fifty-three years afterward.  There were four quartos among the Smithsonian Contributions.  Several appear in the various state and United States geological reports.  A collected volume of Fugitive Essays was published in 1855, a History of Cleveland in 1867.  Quite a number appear among the publications of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  Colonel Whittlesey was so engaged in what was new, that it was only a few years ago and at my suggestion that he undertook a list.  The list herewith is larger than his, and the number of books and pamphlets is one hundred and nintey-one.  Many of these are double column and small print, but containing much and new information.  He cared little for large print or good paper.  He furnished a great many articles to the newspapers, often as editorials, many of which maybe found in the rooms of our society.  Colonel Whittlesey was fortunate in simple tastes and happy life, but without fault on his part often unfortunate.  We have seen how his work in the Ohio survey of 1837-8 was cut short; how, what would have been the great and leading work on the archaeology of Ohio was lost, how other surveys and enterprises in which he was engaged were stopped by the war, or otherwise by no fault of his.  Prior to 1869 he was pressing zealously, in this state, the project of a geological survey, and when the bill was finally passed, he fondly hoped to be chief of the survey in his own state.  Another was appointed to the first place, and he was unwilling to accept the post of assistant geologist.

Much of his work does not therefore appear in that complete and systematic shape which would make it best known to the general public.  But by scholars in his lines of study in Europe and America, he was well known and very highly respected.  “His contributions to literature,” said the New York Herald,5 “have attracted wide attention among the scientific men of Europe and America.”

Whittlesey Culture:
A.D. 1000 to 1600

“‘Whittlesey Culture’ is an archaeological designation referring to a Late Prehistoric (more appropriately: Late Pre-Contact) North American indigenous group that occupied portions of northeastern Ohio. This culture isdistinguished from other so-called Late Prehistoric societies mainly by distinctive kinds of pottery. Many Whittlesey communities were located on plateaus overlooking stream valleys or the shores of Lake Erie. The villages often were surrounded with a pallisade or a ditch, suggesting a need for defense.

“The Whittlesey culture is named for Charles Whittlesey, a 19th century geologist and archaeologist who was a founder of the Western Reserve Historical Society.”

~ Ohio History Central

As an American archaeologist, Colonel Whittlesey was very learned and thorough.  He had in Ohio the advantage of surveying its wonderful works at an early date.  He had, too, that cool poise and self-possession that prevented his enthusiasm from coloring his judgment.  He completely avoided errors into which a large share of archaeologists fall.  The scanty information as to the past and its romantic interest, lead to easy but dangerous theories, and even suffers the practice of many impositions.  He was of late years of great service in exposing frauds, and thereby helped the science to a healthy tone.  It may be well enough to say that in one of his tracts he exposed, on what was apparently the best evidence, the supposed falsity of the Cincinnati tablet so called.  Its authenticity was defended by Mr. Robert Clarke of Cincinnati, successfully and convincingly, to Colonel Whittlesey himself.  I was with the colonel when he first heard of the successful defense and with a mutual friend who thought he might be chagrined, but he was so much more interested in the truth for its own sake, than in his relations to it, that he appeared much pleased with the result.

Whittlesey Culture: "South Park Village points (above) and pottery fragment (below)" ~ National Park Service

Whittlesey Culture artifacts: “South Park Village points (above) and pottery fragment (below)”
~ Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Among American writers, Mr. Short speaks of his investigations as of “greater value, due to the eminence of the antiquarian who writes them.”  Hon. John D. Baldwin says, “in this Ancient America speaks of Colonel Whittlesey as one of the best authorities.”  The learned Frenchman, Marquis de Nadaillac and writers generally upon such subjects quote his information and conclusions with that high and safe confidence in his learning and sound views which is the best tribute to Colonel Whittlesey, and at the same time a great help to the authors.  And no one could write with any fullness on the archaeology of America without using liberally the work of Colonel Whittlesey, as will appear in any book on the subject.  He was an extensive, original investigator, always observing, thoughtful and safe, and in some branches, as in Ancient Mining at Lake Superior, his work has been the substantial basis of present learning.  It is noticeable that the most eminent gentlemen have best appreciated his safe and varied learning.  Colonel Whittlesey was early in the geological field.  Fifty years ago little was known of paleontology, and Colonel Whittlesey cared little for it, perhaps too little; but in economic geology, in his knowledge of Ohio, its surface, its strata, its iron, its coal and its limestone in his knowledge of the copper and iron of the northwest, he excelled indeed.  From that date to his death he studied intelligently these sections.  As Professor Lapham said he was studying Wisconsin, so did Colonel Whittlesey give himself to Ohio, its mines and its miners, its manufactures, dealings in coal and iron, its history, archaeology, its religion and its morals.  Nearly all his articles contributed to magazines were to western magazines, and anyone who undertook a literary enterprise in the state of Ohio that promised value was sure to have his aid.6

In geology his services were great.  The New York Herald, already cited, speaks of his help toward opening coal mines in Ohio and adds,“he was largely instrumental in discovering and causing the development of the great iron and copper regions of Lake Superior.”  Twenty-six years ago he discovered a now famous range of iron ore.

“ On the Mound Builders and on the geological character and phenomena of the region of the lakes and the northwest he was quoted extensively as an authority in most of the standard geological and anthropological works of America and Europe,” truthfully says the Biographical Cyclopedia.

The St Clair Papers:
Volume 1;
Volume 2.

Colonel Whittlesey was as zealous in helping to preserve new and original material for history as for science.  In 1869 he pushed with energy the investigation, examination and measures which resulted in the purchase by the State of Ohio of the St. Clair papers so admirably, fully and ably edited by Mr. William Henry Smith, and in 1882 published in two large and handsome volumes by Messrs. Robert Clarke and Co. of Cincinnati.

Colonel Whittlesey was very prominent in the project which ended in the publication of the Margry papers in Paris.  Their value may be gathered from the writing of Mr. Parkman (La Salle) and The Narrative and Critical History of America, Volume IV., where on page 242 is an account of their publication.7  In 1870 and 1871 an effort to enlist congress failed.  The Boston fire defeated the efforts of Mr. Parkman to have them published in that city.  Colonel Whittlesey originated the plan eventually adopted, by which congress voted ten thousand dollars as a subscription for five hundred copies, and, as says our history: “at last by Mr. Parkman’s assiduous labors in the east, and by those of Colonel Whittlesey, Mr. O. H. Marshall and others in the west,” the bill was passed.

The late President Garfield, an active member of our society, took a lively interest in the matter, and instigated by Colonel Whittlesey used his strong influence in its favor.  Mr. Margry has felt and expressed a very warm feeling for Colonel Whittlesey for his interest and efforts, and since the colonel’s death, and in ignorance of it, has written him a characteristic letter to announce to the colonel, first of any in America, the completion of the work.  A copy of the letter follows :


“PARIS, November 4, 1886.

“VERY DEAR AND HONORED SIR: It is to-day in France, St. Charles’ day, the holiday I wished when I had friends so called.  I thought it suitable to send you to-day the good news to continue celebrating as of old.  You will now be the first in America to whom I write it.  I have just given the check to be drawn, for the last leaves of the work, of which your portrait may show a volume under your arm.8  Therefore there is no more but stitching to be done to send the book on its way.

“In telling you this I will not forget to tell you that I well remembered the part you took in that, publication as new, as glorious for the origin of your state, and for which you can congratulate yourself, in thanking you I have but one regret, that Mr. Marshall can not have the same pleasure.  I hope that your health as well as that of Madame Whittlesey is satisfactory. I would be happy to hear so.  For me if I am in good health it is only by the intervention of providence.  However, I have lost much strength, though I do not show it.  We must try to seem well.

“Receive, dear and honored sir, and for Madame, the assurance of my profound respect and attachment.

“PIERRE MARGRY.”


Colonel Whittlesey views of the lives of others were affected by his own.  Devoted to extending human learning, with little thought of self interest, he was perhaps a little too impatient with others, whose lives had other ends deemed by them more practical.  Yet after all, the colonel’s life was a real one, and his pursuits the best as being nearer to nature and far removed from the adventitious circumstances of what is ordinarily called polite life.

He impressed his associates as being full of learning, not from books, but nevertheless of all around — the roads the fields, the waters, the sky, men animals or plants.  Charming it was to be with him in excursions; that was really life and elevated the mind and heart.

He was a profoundly religious man, never ostentatiously so, but to him religion and science were twin and inseparable companions.  They were in his life and thought, and he wished to and did live to express in print his sense that the God of science was the God of religion, and that the Maker had not lost power over the thing made.

He rounded and finished his character as he finished his life, by joint and hearty affection and service to the two joint instruments of God’s revelation, for so he regarded them.  Rev. Dr. Hayden testifies: “He had no patience with materialism, but in his mature strength of mind had harmonized the facts of science with the truths of religion.”

charles whittlesey

Charles Whittlesey
~ Magazine of Western History, Volume V, page 536.

Colonel Whittlesey’s life was plain, regular and simple.  During the last few years he suffered much from catarrhal headache, rheumatism and kindred other troubles, and it was difficult for him to get around even with crutches.  This was attributed to the exposure he had suffered for the fifteen years he had been exposed in the Lake Superior region, and his long life and preservation of a clear mind was no doubt due to his simple habits.  With considerable bodily suffering, his mind was on the alert, and he seemed to have after all considerable happiness, and, to quote Dr Hayden, he could say with Byrd, “thy mind to me a kingdom is.”

Colonel Whittlesey was an original member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, an old and valued member of the American Antiquarian society, an honorary member of the Ohio State Archaeological and Historical society, with headquarters at Columbus.  He was trustee of the former State Archaeological society (making the archaeological exhibition at the Centennial), and although each of these is necessarily to some extent a rival of his pet society, he took a warm interest in the welfare of each.

He was a member of the Society of Americanites of France, and his judgment, learning and communications were much esteemed by the French members of that society.  Of how many other societies he was an honorary or other member I can not tell.

C. C. Baldwin.

 


 

1 – Speech of May 9, 1862.

2 – Cincinnati Commercial, April 9, 1862.

3 – The society was organized under the auspices of the Cleveland Library Association (now Case Library).  The plan occurred to the writer while vice-president of that association.  At the annual meeting in 1867, the necessary changes were made in the constitution, and Colonel Whittlesey was elected to the Case Library board for the purpose of heading the historical committee and movement.  The result appears in a scarce pamphlet issued in 1867 by the library association, containing, among other things, an account of the formation of the society and an address by Colonel Whittlesey, which is an interesting sketch of the successive literary and library societies of Cleveland, of which the first was in 1811.

4 – Mary E. Lyon was a daughter of James Lyon of Oswego, and sister of John E. Lyon, now of Oswego but years ago a prominent citizen of Cleveland.  She m. first Colonel Theophilus Morgan,6 Theophilus,5 Theophilus,4 Theophilus,3 John,2 James Morgan.1  Colonel Morgan was an honored citizen of Oswego.  Colonel Morgan and his wife Mary, had a son James Sherman, a very promising young man, killed in 1864 in a desperate cavalry charge in which he was lieutenant, in Sherman’s march to the sea.  Mrs. Whittlesey survives in Cleveland.

5 – October, 19, 1886.

6 – The Hesperian, American Pioneer, the Western Literary Journal and Review of Cincinnati, the Democratic Review and Ohio Cultivator of Columbus, and later the Magazine of Western History at Cleveland, all received his hearty support.

7 – These papers were also described in an extract from a congressional speech of the late President Garfield. The extract is in Tract No. 20 of the Historical society.

8 – Alluding to a photograph of Colonel Whittlesey
then with a book under his arm.

By Amorin Mello

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

 


 

The National Record and Industrial Record

TWO MONTHS IN THE COPPER REGION.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

George Catlin Indian Gallery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gros Cap Conservation Area
Tahquamenon Falls State Park

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

Ile Parisienne Conservation Reserve

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

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

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

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

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

Two Hearted River

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

William Smith vs. Earl of Selkirk
False Imprisonment

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

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

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

Grand Island National Recreation Area

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

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

whittlesey geological section pictured rocks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Father René Ménard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Harris Kinzie ~ Wikipedia.org

John Harris Kinzie
~ Wikipedia.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Boston Mining Company”
~ Copper Country Reflections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

William Austin Burt ~ Wikipedia.org

Judge William Austin Burt
~ Wikipedia.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Amorin Mello

A curious series of correspondences from Morgan

… continued from Saint Croix Falls.

 


 

1845 daily union header

The Daily Union (Washington D.C.)
“Liberty, The Union, And The Constitution.”
July 31, 1845.

To the Editor of the Union:

This anonymous complaint was a response to a certain letter written by “Morgan” on July 15th, 1845, as published in the Daily Union on July 29th, 1845.  The offending letter was reproduced here on Chequamegon History earlier as Copper Harbor of this series.
General John Stockton was assigned as the Superintendent for this Mineral Agency to reduce corruption there.

SIR: In your paper of Tuesday evening, I have observed a communication from Copper Harbor, (Lake Superior,) so pregnant with errors or misrepresentations, that I am constrained, by a regard to truth and the public interests, to ask the use of your columns to correct some of them.  I know not who your correspondent is; but, judging from the extraordinary zeal with which he labors to forestall public opinion of certain government agents on Lake Superior, whose conduct has recently become obnoxious to very grave suspicion, I think it no unwarrantable conclusion that he has either been most egregiously imposed upon, or that he is animated in his encomiums upon the officers alluded to, by motives much more special than in his admiring comments upon the handsome scenery and novel life upon the lake.  He is evidently more than indifferently anxious to vindicate and extol General Stockton and his faithful deputy, Mr. Gray.  Otherwise, what necessity would there be for asserting facts which do not exist?  Your correspondent states that

“The only tenement on the island is a miserable log-cabin, in which General Stockton, for the want of better quarters, is compelled to keep his office.  The room which he occupies, is only about eight feet square – just large enough to admit a narrow bed for himself, a table, and two or three chairs.  In this salt-box of a room, he is compelled to transact all the business relating to the mineral lands embraced within this important agency.  As many as a dozen men at a time are pressing forward to his ‘bee gum’ apartment, endeavoring to have their business transacted.

“The office of the surveyor of this mineral lands, in charge of Mr. Gray, at this agency, is still worse adapted to the transaction of public business.  He is compelled to occupy the garret of the log-cabin,” &c.

Now, so far from this being true, “the miserable log cabin” of which your fastidious correspondent speaks, is an excellent hewed log house, well finished and ceiled, with three good-sized rooms below, and three above stairs, amply sufficient and convenient for all intended purposes.  The construction of this house cost the government some fifteen hundred dollars, and was designed as the agency-house; whereas General Stockton has converted it into a sort of hotel – doubtless as a means of augmenting the perquisites of his station.  Hence he has stinted himself, and the convenience of the government service, to his “bee-gum” and “salt-box” penetralia of “eight feet square.”  So much for this misrepresentation.

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. Houghton died on Lake Superior during a storm on October 13, 1845. The City of Houghton on Chequamegon Bay was named in his honor, and is now known as the Houghton Falls State Natural Area.

Senator Henry Clay Sr. (Whig Party) was defeated in the 1844 United States presidential election by President James Knox Polk (Democratic Party).  Polk’s campaign was based on American territorial expansionism, also known as Manifest Destiny.  The Territory of Wisconsin became the State of Wisconsin during Polk’s presidency during 1848.

Your correspondent expresses a like sympathy for the privations and long-suffering of Mr. Surveyor Gray.  The apartment which Mr. Gray occupies above stairs, is an ample room, some fifteen or more feet square, and is quote comfortable – nay, quite luxurious quarters, when compared to those of the other surveyors, who are where Mr. Surveyor Gray should be, if he was faithfully discharging his duties – out in the woods and the weather, among the rocks and swamps, driving the compass and chain through almost impenetrable wilds.  It may, perhaps, be a question with the government, as it certainly will be with the public, why Mr. Gray should be lolling at his ease in the agency-house on Porter’s island, while Dr. Houghton, the other surveyor, is traversing large tracts of the mineral lands, and sustaining all the hardships and perils which pertain to his employment?  And it may become a further question, while I am on this head, why Mr. Gray, who was an unrelenting tool of the whig party, and neglected the public service, for which he was receiving a handsome salary, last year, to mingle in the orgies of federal-Clay-clubites, should not only be so sedulously retained in office, but be admitted to the privilege of almost total exemption from labor, which he is employed and paid to perform?  It is a fact, that up to the 3d of July, Mr. Gray had surveyed only two miles, whereas Dr. Houghton had measured some five hundred miles of the mineral lands!  And this is the gentleman against whose discomfort your correspondent so pathetically appeals, forsooth, because he is occupying at his ease an excellent apartment in a very comfortable house.

American Progress by John Gast, 1872. "This painting shows "Manifest Destiny" (the belief that the United States should expand from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. In 1872 artist John Gast painted a popular scene of people moving west that captured the view of Americans at the time. Called "Spirit of the Frontier" and widely distributed as an engraving portrayed settlers moving west, guided and protected by Columbia (who represents America and is dressed in a Roman toga to represent classical republicanism) and aided by technology (railways, telegraph), driving Native Americans and bison into obscurity. It is also important to note that Columbia is bringing the "light" as witnessed on the eastern side of the painting as she travels towards the "darkened" west." ~ Commons.Wikimedia.org

American Progress by John Gast, 1872
“This painting shows ‘Manifest Destiny’ (the belief that the United States should expand from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. In 1872 artist John Gast painted a popular scene of people moving west that captured the view of Americans at the time. Called ‘Spirit of the Frontier’ and widely distributed as an engraving portrayed settlers moving west, guided and protected by Columbia (who represents America and is dressed in a Roman toga to represent classical republicanism) and aided by technology (railways, telegraph), driving Native Americans and bison into obscurity. It is also important to note that Columbia is bringing the ‘light’ as witnessed on the eastern side of the painting as she travels towards the ‘darkened’ west.”
~ Commons.Wikimedia.org

Edward Larned was the President, and Charles G. Larned was the Superintendent, of the New York and Lake Superior Mining Company.

The design of this letter from Copper Harbor is perfectly apparent to me.  It is the sequel to a movement which was made last June, viz: to white-wash and to shield from a just reprehension the present superintendent of the Lake Superior mineral lands.  On the very day that General Stockton opened his office, a sort of soi-disant public meeting was gotten up there, in compliment to the General, in which the president of the New York and Lake Superior Mining Company was the prime mover.  When it is known that General Stockton has certified to the Ordnance Department locations by this company of between one and three hundred square miles, upon which leases were granted, when not a single foot had been actually located, in flagrant violation of all the laws and regulations, some opinion may be formed of the secret of this most disinterested and valuable tribute to the official worth of this superintendent.  What might have been the potency of this expression of public opinion (!) in protecting Gen. Stockton’s official conduct from censure and investigation up to the period of its dispensation, I will not now say.  But, certain it is, that large and glaring spots which have begun to attract scrutiny and invoke exposure, have rendered his escutcheon needful of a new coat of white-washing; and hence this effort of your correspondent to forestall examination into his conduct, by pathetic epics of his patiently-endured privations iin the public service, and the ignorant or else sinister commendations of his conduct.

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

In animadverting upon the conduct of General Stockton and others, I do not mean to include Major Campbell, of whom everything that your correspondent has said is hereby confirmed.

POSTEA PLUS.

———

William Learned Marcy was the 20th United States Secretary of War under Polk's presidency. ~ Wikipedia.org

William Learned Marcy was the 20th United States Secretary of War during Polk’s presidency.
~ Wikipedia.org

We have omitted a large portion of the above communication, in which the writer proceeds to complain of the survey of the mineral lands, and arraigns the agents of the government for gross malversation in office.  These charges are of a serious character, and they demand a full and rigid investigation.  But, as it might lead to a protracted and angry war in the papers, in which crimination would be followed by recrimination; and as we are advised that the Secretary of War is determined to investigate the justice of these complaints and the truth of them – as he will receive any specifications in writing which may be submitted, and is determined to go to the bottom of the subject; and, with that view, will appoint a commission of two of the most respectable gentlemen he can obtain, who will go upon the lands, and probe everything for themselves, – we have thought it best to let matters take that turn.  We have not the slightest doubt that the attention of the department is thoroughly exited to the importance of the duties which may devolve upon it, and that it will unquestionably discharge them.  It is scarcely necessary, therefore, for the press to mingle at present in a discussion, which might occupy much space, lead to much excitement, and, after all, fail to lead to the best and wisest results.

– UNION.

 


 

1845 daily union header

The Daily Union (Washington D.C.)
“Liberty, The Union, And The Constitution.”
August 1, 1845.

THE COPPER REGION.

James Knox Polk: 11th President of the United States. ~ Wikipedia.org

James Knox Polk:
11th President of the United States.
~ Wikipedia.org

We have been inconsiderately drawn into a subject of some importance to the United Sates.  We have struck a vein, however, which promises to be rich in its resources.  The reader will recollect a very long and interesting letter which we published on Tuesday evening, from one of our regular correspondents, who is now on a trip from New York to Lake Superior, in which he gave us a description of its peculiar and striking scenery, and made some remarks upon the copper lands in its vicinity, and upon the agents of the United States who have been charged with the care of the mineral lands belonging to the government.  This letter drew forth a reply in our last evening’s paper; but we declined the publication of the whole communication, for the reasons which we then stated.  The writer of that article charged the United States agent with many acts of mismanagement, and even malversation of office; and as we were aware that our government was about to appoint a commission to visit the country, and investigate the conduct of the agents, we deemed it most advisable to refer to another tribunal, (for the present, at least,) a full inquiry into these matters.  In the mean time, a new scene was opened before us.  We were scarcely aware of the existence of these mineral resources, – much less of their extent.  But our curiosity is now being aroused.  The public documents connected with them have been politely placed in our possession, and we shall prepare an article for the “Union” for the purpose of calling the attention of the country to this very interesting subject.  The lead-mines belonging to the United States in Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, &c., have been longer known and are better understood than the copper region.  They have been worked to a considerable extent, and their produce is so abundant, that they can not only supply our own market with lead, but afford a large export for the consumption of foreign nations.  Perhaps no mines in the world are equal to those of the belt on both sides of the Mississippi.

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

Engraving depicting the 1820 Cass/Schoolcraft expedition crossing the Ontonagon River to investigate the famous copper boulder.
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

How the Ontonagon Boulder was extracted was a contentious issue at this time, as it involved a series of petitions between Julius Eldred and the United States government.  These are available on 27 pages as item 260 of the 28th Congress, 1st Session.  In 1991, the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community petitioned the United States for repatriation of the Ontonagon Boulder, but was denied.
WASHINGTON, January 6, 1844.
The purchase of this rock from the Chippewa Indians was made in 1841. The treaty with these Indians, ceding this portion of the country to the United States, was not made until October, 1842, after the second expedition to that country for the purpose of removing this rock. The Indians say that they did [not] reserve this rock in the treaty of 1842, as they had already sold it to a citizen of the United States, and they conceived that they had no further control over it. They say that, by their treaty, they only sold their lands, and suppose that all moveable property of this kind, which had been previously the subject of individual negotiation, would be allowed to be removed by the individuals making the purchase of them, as readily as they would be allowed to remove their lodges or canoes.
J. ELDRED, for self and sons.
Public Documents Printed by Order of the Senate of the United States: First Session of the Twenty-Eigth Congress, 1844.
Photograph by Ian Shackleford, 2011, of the Ontonagon Copper Boulder off display at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History. ~ Wikipedia.org

The Ontonagon Copper Boulder at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History.  Photograph by Ian Shackleford, 2011; shared with a Creative Commons license. 
~ Wikipedia.org

The copper region is probably more important than the lead-mines.  It is supposed by some geologists to extend from Lake Superior to Texas, crossing the Mississippi diagonally at a lower point than the lead-mines, and forming a vein of from thirty to forty miles of average width.  The ore is said to be unusually rich.  In some places it is mixed with veins of silver, so abundant that the precious metal alone is sufficient to pay all the expenses of working the vein – the ore itself making a yield of 60 or 70 per cent. of copper.  An immense boulder of this metal is now deposited in the public yard between the War and Navy Departments, and is well worthy the inspection of all curious observers who happen to visit Washington.  It weighs more than 3,700 lbs., and is so rich in the metal that a plate of copper is smoothed off on its surface like the copper-plate of the engraver.  It was transported to Washington from the banks of the Ontonagon river, about forty miles from the Eagle river.  The two principal points where the richest ore has yet been developed, are on Eagle river, and near Copper Harbor, on Lake Superior.  But the richest portion of the copper region, as far as it is explored, is reputed to be Isle Royale, in Lake Superior, much nearer the Canada side than our own; but the boundary line runs north of the island, so that it falls within the limits of the United States.  Isle Royale is estimated to be about thirty miles in length, and five miles broad – singularly rich in copper, which is constantly cropping out on the surface. The department has decided that no patents should be granted, and no leases taken, on this singular island.

The two largest companies on the Lake Superior copper range at this time were the Pittsburgh & Boston Copper Harbor Mining Company and the New York & Lake Superior Mining Company.  These firms were featured on Chequamegon History in The Copper Region of this series.

Two large companies have been formed for leasing and working the mines in the Lake Superior Copper Region – the one which operates in New York, and the other in Boston.  So valuable have shares become in some cases, that a gentleman in Boston, who is said to own about eighty shares, has been offered more than $600 for a single share.  The supervision of these mines is devolved on the Ordnance Bureau, (Col. Talcott,) attached, of course to the War Department.  Some important regulations have been made about the leasing of the mines, but further legislation will be required from Congress.  The Secretary of War grants the permits to applicants to go upon the lands; and upon presenting a certificate from the agent of the United States that the tract has not been previously occupied, a lease may be granted for three years, upon condition of paying 6 per cent. of the nett proceeds of the metal, after it is smelted from the ore.  If the lease be renewed for another three years, the rent is extended to 10 per cent.  The leaseholders were originally confined to the smelting of the ore in the neighborhood of the mines; but it was found that, owing to the want of fuel, and other appliances, it was best to transport the ore to New York or Boston.  The secretary yielded at last to the application – the government still receiving its 6 per cent. of rent, in the metal itself, free of all expense of transportation.

On the 21st of March last, it was determined by the Secretary of War to grant no more permits which would authorize a selection of more than one square mile; and between that time and 18th ult., seven hundred and sixty such permits were issued.  It was then determined to stop the further issue.  The cause of this is expressed in the printed circular from the Secretary of War, which we have already published.  It states that,

“should locations be made pursuant to the permits already issued from this department, to select lands in the Lake Superior mineral district, the quantity required to satisfy them would exceed one million one hundred thousand acres  It is apprehended that the whole region open for lation may not contain this quantity of mineral lands.  Explorations and surveys of these lands have been ordered, and it has been determined to suspend the further issue of permits until the results shall be made known.  The applications for permits received at the department subsequent to the 17th instant, will be filed in the office; and if the disclosures of the examinations shall warrant the further issue of permits for the Lake Superior region, they will be considered in the order in which they have been or shall be received.  It is not expected that the results of the examinations and surveys to ascertain the probable quantity of mineral lands in the region, and to make the locations pursuant to the permits already issued, can be completed for some time to come.”

General Walter Cunningham was replaced by General John Stockton as the Superintendent for this Mineral Agency to reduce corruption there.
WASHINGTON, March 26, 1844.
This is to certify, that on the 1st day of September last, while attending the payment of the Chippewa Indians at Lapointe, Lake Superior, Okondókon, being the head chief of the band of that tribe, and who resided at the mouth of the Ontonagon River, state, in my presence, that he had sold to Julius Eldred, of Detroit, in the summer of 1841, the celebrated copper rock; and that he had received, at the time of the sale, a portion of the sum agreed upo, and that there remained due him one hundred and five dollars, which was to be paid him whenever Mr. Eldred removed the rock to the shore of the lake; which sum of one hundred and five dollars Mr. Eldred did pay to Okondókon a few days thereafter, at the Ontonagon agency, in pursuace of the agreement made between them in 1841.
I further certify, that, on the 10th day of September last, Julius Eldred paid to Messrs. Hammond & Co. seventeen hundred and sixty-five dollars, for the services which they rendered in removing the rock, as well as to obtain peaceable possession of the same.
The removal of this copper rock has been attended with very great risk as well as expense, and is one of the most extraordinary performances of the age, and one which, in my opinion, should entitle him to great praise as well as liberal compensation.
WALTER CUNNINGHAM.
Public Documents Printed by Order of the Senate of the United States: First Session of the Twenty-Eigth Congress, 1844.

It seems that Walter Cunningham, the first superintendent of these lands, kept no record of the permits he granted, or of the selection of tracts to which he certified as not interfering with the claims of others; and, in consequence of the absence of this information, it appears that his successor (Stockton) has, in two or three instances, certified for others, tracts previously certified by Mr. Cunningham; and this has given rise, as may be supposed, to some complaint.  The certificates of the latter have been dropping in for a week or two past, but we know that very few or more can be in existence.

Mr. Gray (the only one of the assistants assigned to the superintendent, who possessed any competent knowledge of the surveying or platting) has been busily engaged in preparing maps, and locating the leases, and claims to leases thereon, to save from the risk of granting certificates which will interfere; and another competent surveyor has recently been sent to that country, in order that the operations may be expedited as fast as possible.  It is also understood that Dr. Houghton is carrying on surveys under the orders of the General Land Office, which will soon extend into Stockton’s district, and will probably throw much additional light upon the extent of this interesting region of country.

The Daily Union’s assertion that Mr. Gray did not mingle with politicians may be false as their regular correspondent being accused of this act, “Morgan,” appears to be a Wisconsin Territory politician named Morgan Lewis Martin.

We are informed that, as regards Mr. Gray’s mingling in any way with politicians, (as was stated by our correspondent of last evening,) it can scarcely be true.  “He is a young man, who has been constantly moving about, and acquired no right to give a vote in any location.  Modest and retiring, he is the last man in the world to do anything of the kind charged upon him.”

It will be seen, from this very rapid sketch, on imperfect data, that the copper region of the United States abounds with interest; that, from the abundance and the richness of the ore, it is probably calculated to furnish copper enough for our own consumption, and for a large exportation to foreign countries.  Of course, great interests are growing up in that wonderful region – much speculation, large companies, strong contests for the possession of the titles – the same mine sometimes shingled over with several claims – some violence and some fraud.  And even the agents of the government have not escaped the suspicion of mismanagement and malversation.  The executive is about to do its duty in these respects.  It is contemplated to employ two highly respectable commissioners to inspect the lands, to receive and investigate all complaints, and make a report to the War Department.  A more complete report also, of the mineral resources of the West, the quality and extent of the mines, and the best way of working them, will probably be obtained, under the auspices of the vigilant Secretary of War, to be submitted to the next Congress.  The statistics will, no doubt, be found valuable; and, in fact, the whole subject is every day assuming a new and a more expanding interest.


Two additional articles were published by The Daily Union on August 2 and August 11 regarding the Copper Region.  They include extensive quotes from United States government agents involved in surveying the Copper Region, but are not directly related to the correspondences of “Morgan” or his accuser “Postea Plus” and therefore are not reproduced here on Chequamegon History.


1845 daily union header

The Daily Union (Washington D.C.)
“Liberty, The Union, And The Constitution.”
August 26, 1845.

[From our regular correspondent.]

GALENA, ILL., August 14, 1845.

Not having time to say more at present about the country through which I passed in coming from the falls of St. Croix to this place, I beg leave to refer to a notice taken of a portion of a letter written by me to the “Union,” from Copper harbor, by some correspondent opposed to Gen. Stockton and Mr. Gray.

It seems that deserved praise bestowed upon these officers of a government has proved offensive to the said correspondent.

I deem his publication worth no other notice than to say, that he speaks falsely and malignantly of “Morgan,” when he attributes his praise of Stockton and Gray to “sinister motives.”

This “small band of speculators” trying to locate a mineral lease at Sault Ste Marie could not be identified.

It is known that an attempt was made by members of a certain small band of speculators to locate a mineral lease on a town site at the falls, or Sault St. Marie, where no copper or other mineral has been found, for the purpose of making a speculation of it.  And when told by Gen. Stockton that it was not put down in the mineral region, that it was beyond his jurisdiction, and that he could not consent to grant a location for it, they got made, spluttered about their influence at Washington, hinted at his removal, &c.  Several other applications were made to him by the same and other parties, equally as absurd and ridiculous, which he had the firmness to deny.  Hence, those foiled in using him to suit their own purposes, are most loud in his condemnation.  They probably wish some pliant tool to occupy his place.

I am glad to see that a commission is to be appointed to visit Copper harbor, for the purpose of investigating the affairs of the mineral agency.  I have no question it is the very thing Gen. Stockton and Mr. Gray themselves would solicit, in the event of charges being made against them, and without the least apprehension as to the result.

I could say more on this subject; but respectfully leave the whole matter in the hands of the government, where it belongs.

Galena, Jo Daviess County, Illinois, was named after the variety of lead ore found deposited there.  The lead mining industry became established here during the 1820s, and this county was the largest extractor of lead in the United States, producing an estimated 80% of the national supply by 1845.

I learn from the worthy superintendent of the United States lead-mines at this place, that he thinks the amount of lead shipped from this district the present year will reach 60,000,000 of pounds, which, at 3 cents per pound, would amount to one million eight hundred thousand dollars.  The quantity shipped last year was 43,000,000 of pounds.

Galena is growing, and, as a thriving business place, may be considered (of its size) one of the first in the western country; containing, as it does for a new place, an intelligent, active, and enterprising population.

Wisconsin State Symbols
“In the early 1800s Southwestern Wisconsin miners were too busy digging the ‘gray gold’ to build houses. Like badgers, they moved into abandoned mine shafts for shelter. As a result, Wisconsin was nicknamed ‘The Badger State.'”

Wisconsin Historical Society

Wisconsin is a flourishing Territory, and is going to make a splendid State, being rich in mineral, in farming land, and in fine timber, with a plenty of good water, health, &c.  Emigrants are pouring into it from all parts of Europe.

Iowa has rejected her constitution, and elected a democratic governor.

I remain yours, very truly and respectfully,

MORGAN.

 


 

To be continued in The Upper Mississippi River

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

By Amorin Mello

A curious series of correspondences from Morgan

… continued from Mackinac and Sault Ste Marie.

 


 

1845 daily union header

The Daily Union (Washington D.C.)
“Liberty, The Union, And The Constitution.”
July 22, 1845.

TERRITORY OF WISCONSIN.

“The Wisconsin Territorial Seal was designed in 1836 by John S. Horner, the first secretary of the territory, in consultation with Henry Dodge, the first territorial governor. It features an arm holding a pick and a pile of lead ore.”
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Gen. Henry Dodge, having been re-appointed Governor of the Territory, from which he had been “so ingloriously ejected after the election of 1840, by his political opponents, his valuable services” have ceased as a member of Congress.  It became necessary, of course, to elect another delegate.  To choose a candidate for this office, a democratic convention was held at the capitol, in Madison, on the 25th June.  Horatio N. Wells, of Milwaukie, was elected president; 18 ballots were taken before any one obtained a majority of the votes.  Mr. Morgan L. Martin finally received 49, D. A. J. Upham 20, scattering 10.  Mr. Martin accepts the nomination.

 


 

1845 daily union header

The Daily Union (Washington D.C.)
“Liberty, The Union, And The Constitution.”
July 29, 1845.

[From our regular correspondent.]

COPPER HARBOR, LAKE SUPERIOR,

JULY 15, 1845.

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

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

Having chartered a Mackinac boat at the Sault St. Marie, and stored away our luggage, tents, provisions, with general camp equipage, &c., taking on board six able-bodied voyageurs, consisting of four descendants of Canadian French, and two half-breed Indians, (one of whom acted as our pilot,) we set off, on the 4th of July, at about 11, a.m., to coast it up the southern shore of Lake Superior, to Copper Harbor – a distance, by the way we were to travel, of over 280 miles.

The heat of the sun, combined with the attacks of musquitoes at night, annoyed us very much at first.  I have seen what musquitoes are in many other parts of the world; but I never found them more abundant and troublesome than at some points on Lake Superior.

It took us eleven days’ voyaging to reach this place, travelling all day when the weather was favorable, and lying by when it became stormy, with strong head winds.  At night we camped on shore, and generally rose every morning between three and four o’clock, being under way on the water as soon as it was light enough to see.  In voyaging in this way, we had a better opportunity to view the country as we passed along, many portions of which were full of interest – such as the Grand Sable, the Pictured Rocks, &c.  The former are immense cliffs, rising to the height of two hundred feet above the level of the lake, being composed of pure sand, and reaching about six miles in length along the lake shore, with its front aspects almost perpendicular.  It is said, the sand of which they are formed maintains its perpendicularity by reason of the moisture which it derives from the vapor of the lake.  The summits contain no vegetation, save here and there a solitary shrub or bush.  The rest of this high, bold, and solemn mass stretches out, in silent and naked grandeur, beneath the horizon, forming a picture of desolate sublimity.  We passed it late in the afternoon, during a bright and clear sky, when the sun had just begun to hide himself behind its huge masses.

"Once a vessel was sailing over a northern ocean in the midst of the short, Arctic summer. The sun was hot, the air was still, and a group of sailors lying lazily upon the deck were almost asleep, when an exclamation of fear from one of them made them all spring to their feet. The one who had uttered the cry pointed into the air at a little distance, and there the awe-stricken sailors saw a large ship, with all sails set, gliding over what seemed to be a placid ocean, for beneath the ship was the reflection of it." ~ Round-about Rambles in Lands of Fact and Fancy, by Frank Richard Stockton, 1910, page 277.

“Once a vessel was sailing over a northern ocean in the midst of the short, Arctic summer. The sun was hot, the air was still, and a group of sailors lying lazily upon the deck were almost asleep, when an exclamation of fear from one of them made them all spring to their feet. The one who had uttered the cry pointed into the air at a little distance, and there the awe-stricken sailors saw a large ship, with all sails set, gliding over what seemed to be a placid ocean, for beneath the ship was the reflection of it.”
~ Round-about Rambles in Lands of Fact and Fancy, by Frank Richard Stockton, 1910, page 277.

I have never travelled on a sheet of water where the effect of mirage is so frequently witnessed as on Lake Superior.  For instance: early on Sunday morning, the 6th of July, soon after leaving our encampment, near White Fish Point, the morning being slightly foggy, we saw distinctly the Grand Sable, which must have been fifty miles in advance of us, with intervening points of land.  I witnessed a similar instance of mirage when coming through Lake Huron.  Early one morning, I distinctly saw Drummond’s island, which the officers of the boat assured me was eighty miles off!

Fata Morgana is an example of a superior mirage.  This type of optical illusion is common on the Great Lakes, caused by a thermal inversion between the colder surface of the water and the warmer air mass above it.  This is also documented in historical accounts from ocean-faring sailors as the Flying Dutchman.  A modern example of this phenomenon on Lake Superior is available on YouTube.com.

I have never seen an atmosphere through which I could discern objects so far as on Lake Superior.  Cliffs, headlands, islands, and hills, which often appeared as if within a mile or two of us, were found, on being approached, to be from five to ten miles off.  Hence, in making what “voyageurs” called “traverses” – that is, a passage in a direct line from one headland to another, instead of curving with the shore of the lake – inexperienced voyageurs are very liable to be deceived, by supposing the distance to be short, when it is in reality very long.  In making which, should a strong wind spring up from shore, a small boat would be liable to be blown out to sea, and the boat and people run the hazard of being lost.  We had some brief but painful experience of this deception in apparent distance, by attempting one morning, after having camped at the mouth of the Dead river, to sail before what seemed to be a fair wind from Presqu’isle to Granite Point; but we had not made much over half the distance, when the wind suddenly changed to the west, and blew a gale on our beam, and we came very near being blown out into the open lake – which is just about equivalent to being blown into the Atlantic, for the storms are just as strong, and the waves roll equally as high.  Finding we were going to leeward, we dropped sail, and took to our oars; and, although within half a mile of the point we wished to make, it took us hard oaring for about an hour to reach it.

"Pictured Rocks Splash © Lou Waldock" ~ National Park Service

“Pictured Rocks Splash © Lou Waldock”
~ National Park Service

I have never seen a sheet of water, where the wind can succeed in so suddenly throwing the water into turbulent waves, as on Lake Superior.  This is owing to its freshness, making it so much lighter than salt water.  One night, just as we had oared past a perpendicular red sandstone cliff a mile or two in length, where it would have been impossible for us to make a landing, and had reached a sand beach at the mouth of a small river, where we camped, the surface of the lake up to that time being as smooth as glass, we had no sooner pitched our tents, than a violent wind sprang up from the northeast, and blew a gale nearly all night, shifting from one point to another.  In fifteen or twenty minutes after the commencement of the blow, the water of the lake seemed lashed into a fury of commotion, in which our boat could scarcely have survived.

The grandest scenery beheld in the whole route was that presented by the celebrated “Pictured Rocks.”  They lie stretched out for nine miles in length, a little east of Grand island.  They are considered very dangerous to pass by voyageurs, who generally select favorable spells of weather for the trip.

"Grand Sable Dunes" ~ National Park Service

“Grand Sable Dunes”
~ National Park Service

On the morning of Tuesday, the 8th instant, soon after leaving our camp, the fog cleared up, sufficient to give us a glimpse of these stupendous sandstone cliffs.  As the sun rose, the fog became dispersed, and its brilliant beams fell upon and illuminated every portion of them.

They rise in perpendicular walls from the water of the lake shore, to the height of from 200 to 300 feet.  They are so precipitous, that they in some places appear to lean over the lake at top, to which small trees are seen leaning over the lake, hanging by their frail roots to the giddy crags above.  At one point, a small creek tumbles over a portion of them in a cascade of 100 feet in height.  They stretch for nine miles in length, and in all that distance there are only two places where boats can land – one cove being called the Chapel, and the second Miner’s river.

Photograph of "Chapel Rock" by David Kronk. ~ National Park Service

Photograph of “Chapel Rock” by David Kronk.
~ National Park Service

"Bridalveil Falls" ~ National Park Service

“Bridalveil Falls”
~ National Park Service

So deep is the water, that a boat can pass close along shore, almost touching the cliffs.  Indeed, a seventy-four-gun ship can ride with perfect safety within ten feet of their base.  Taken altogether, their solemn grandeur, and the awful sublimity of their gigantic forms and elevation, far surpass anything of the kind, probably, on the continent, if not in the world.  Next to the Falls of Niagara, they are the greatest natural curiosity they eyes of man can behold.  When steamboats are introduced on Lake Superior, they cannot fail to attract the attention of the tourist.  They contain vast caves, one of which is only 30 feet wide at its mouth, but, on entering it, suddenly expands to 200 feet in width, beneath a lofty dome of 200 feet high.  Different portions of the cliffs go by different names – such as the “Portailles,” the “Doric Rock,” the “Gros Cap,” the “Chapel,” &c.  We went into a small bay at the base of the “Chapel,” which consists of an immense mass of rude sandstone, with trees growing on it, expanded in the form of an arch, its extremities resting on irregularly shaped columns, to the number of three or four under each end.  Beneath the arch, a deep gorge enters the lake, crowded and choked with luxuriant vegetation.  It appeared to me like the finest and most natural Druidical altar to be seen anywhere, not excepting even Stonehenge.  Near the Chapel, a brisk little stream falls rapidly over the rocks into the water below.  It is impossible to do justice to the splendid appearance of “the Pictured Rocks,” so called on account of the [???? ????? ???????] composed being mixed with iron ore, drippings from which they have stained the surface of the rocks with a variety of tints.  The painter alone can convey any just image to the mind’s eye of these grand cliffs, and they will afford him a hundred views, every one of which will differ from the other.  I will defy anybody to visit them, as we did, on a clear, bright day, when the lake is smooth, in an open boat, close by the side of them, without having his expectations of their natural grandeur far surpassed.

"Preliminary Chart of Grand Island and Its Approaches, Lake Superior, 1859" ~ Maritime History of the Great Lakes

“Preliminary Chart of Grand Island and Its Approaches, Lake Superior, 1859″
~ Maritime History of the Great Lakes

Boats have sometimes been caught in the Chapel by sudden, high, and contrary winds, and compelled to remain there for three or four days, before being able to proceed.  A few miles beyond the “Pictured Rocks,” we came to Grand Island, where, entering its harbor, we stopped at Mrs. Williams’s place, the only settlement on the island, which is very large.  This is one of the most splendid and safe harbors on Lake Superior – perfectly land-locked on every side, and extensive enough to contain a large fleet of vessels, being easy of ingress or egress.  From Grand Island we continued to persevere in our voyage, and finally reached Copper Harbor, via the Anse, in eleven days from the Sault Ste. Marie.

James Ord was the Indian sub-Agent at Sault Ste Marie.

“The beginning of Methodism in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan west of Sault Ste. Marie is credited to the missionary trail blazers who came to Kewawenon, now known as Keweenaw Bay.  The first, in 1832 with John Sunday a converted Canadian Indian.  In 1833 Rev. John Clark continued the mission work started by Sunday.  He was followed by Rev. Daniel Chandler in 1834 who remained here for two years.  Rev. Clark was appointed Superintendent of Lake Superior Missions in 1834 and was instrumental in having a mission house and church school house erected during Rev. Chandler’s mission stay.  Houses for the local natives were also erected along the lake shore in the vicinity of the present Whirl-I-Gig Road”

L’Anse United Methodist Church

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

At the Anse we fell in with Mr. Ord, the United States Indian agent at the Sault Ste. Marie, who was on a visit to the Indians at that point, to take the census, and to hold a talk with their chiefs in council.  We arrived at the Anse a few hours before the council began.  The chiefs all sat around a hall on wooden benches, while Mr. Ord, with the interpreter, was seated at the head of the circle.  Many of the Indians were fine-looking men.  They had a great many petty grievances to relate to the agent, who listened to them with patient attention.  The Chippewas about the Anse are said to be much better off than those who trade to La Pointe, at the upper end of the lake.

The Methodists have a missionary station and school on the east side of the bay of Keweewena, and near its head; around which there is an Indian village, consisting of 600 or 700 souls.  The Catholics have also a missionary station on the opposite side of the bay, which is here only about a mile or two wide.

Reverend William Hadley Brockway: "The first Methodist minister licensed to preach in the State of Michigan." ~ Geni.com

Reverend William Hadley Brockway: “The first Methodist minister licensed to preach in the State of Michigan.”
~ Geni.com

The government employs at this Indian post one blacksmith, (Mr. Brockaway,) one carpenter, (Mr. Johnson,) and one teacher, in the person of the Methodist minister.  We left the Anse about half-past 4 o’clock, p.m., sailing before a fair wind, reaching the mouth of the Portage, or Sturgeon river, where we camped on a flat point of land severely infested by musquitoes, with the heat equal to any in intensity (which had prevailed during the day) that I ever experienced.  At Fort Wilkins, Copper Harbor, on the same day, I have since learned the mercury rose to 100° in the shade.  This would seem to be a tremendous degree of heat for such a high latitude, the fort standing on the parallel of 47° 30′.

Detail of "Keewaiwona Bay" with "Anse" and an "Old Indian Village" 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 “Keewaiwona Bay” with “Anse” and the “Old Indian Village” 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

During the night, we could occasionally hear the plunges of sturgeon floundering in the water, which abound in this lake river.  A thunder-storm, also, passed near, before day, which had the effect to cool the air.  About half-past 1 o’clock, I was awakened by the loud talk and whooping of Indians, carried on between our Indian half-breed pilot, Jean Baptiste, and a lot of freshly-arrived Indian voyageurs, conducted in the Indian dialect.  On looking out of our tent, I discovered a plain-dressed Yankee-looking man, standing in front of it.  On hailing him, he proved to be the Rev. Mr. Brockaway, a Methodist minister, and superintendent of Indian missions in this part of the world.  He had been on a visit to the missions at the upper end of the lake, and was returning to the Anse, which he was anxious to reach in time to attend to Sunday morning service, (the next day being Sunday,) and from whence he expected to proceed to the Sault Ste. Marie, where he is stationed in the capacity of chaplain to the garrison at that post.  He said he had, on reaching our encampment, travelled that day from the Ontonagon river, 80 miles distance, in a bark canoe, accompanied by four Indian voyageurs.  After the Indians had prepared some food, with tea, of which Mr. B. and themselves partook, they again set off for the Anse, about 15 miles from us, where they must have arrived at a very early hour.  This despatch far exceeded the expedition of our movements, and displayed unusual activity on the part of the enterprising missionary of an extensive and practical church organization.

We rose at three a.m., and in half an hour were under way on the lake.  In these latitudes it is light at three in the morning; twilight continuing till eight and nine in the afternoon.

The following night we camped near the mouth of Little Montreal river, in full view of the high mountains or large round hills of trap rocks running along the peninsula of Keweewena towards its extreme point, some of which rise to the elevation of eight hundred feet above the level of the lake.

This U.S. Mineral Agency on Porter’s Island was established in 1843 after the 1842 Treaty with the Chippewa at La Pointe ceded Isle Royale and the southwestern shoreline of Lake Superior (lands known to be rich in copper) from the Chippewa tribe to the United States.

The next day, after some detention, we reached Copper Harbor, and landed near the United States Mineral Agency on Porter’s island, where we found quite a village, consisting of white canvas tents of various sizes and forms, occupied by miners, geologists, speculators, voyageurs, visitors, &c.

The only tenement on the island is a miserable log-cabin, in which General Stockton, for the want of better quarters, is compelled to keep his office.  The room which he occupies, is only about eight feet square – just large enough to admit a narrow bed for himself, a table, and two or three chairs.  In this salt-box of a room, he is compelled to transact all the business relating to the mineral lands embraced within this important agency.  As many as a dozen men at a time are pressing forward to his “bee gum” apartment, endeavoring to have their business transacted.

Andrew Belcher Gray surveyed the Map of the Mineral Lands Upon Lake Superior Ceded to the United States by the Treaty of 1842 With the Chippeway Indians in 1845.

The office of the surveyor of this mineral lands, in charge of Mr. Gray, at this agency, is still worse adapted to the transaction of public business.  He is compelled to occupy the garret of the log-cabin, with a hole cut through the logs in the gable to serve as a window.  In this garret he is obliged to have all his draughting performed, subject to the constant interruption of parties wishing to see plans of the mineral lands.  It would seem almost impossible, under such circumstances, for the officers to avoid making mistakes; yet, by dint of unwearied labor and attention to their official duties, they have conducted their affairs with an accuracy and despatch highly creditable to them.

The government has been fortunate in the selection of its agents in the mineral region of Lake Superior.  To untiring industry, punctuality, and close attention to business, they unite, in a high degree, the bland, mild, and patient bearing of gentlemen.

General John Stockton was assigned as the Superintendent for this Mineral Agency to reduce corruption.

Gen. Stockton’s labor are severe and perplexing.  He is continually beset by crowds of applicants for locations, all anxiously pressing forward to secure leases for copper-mines – among whom are found some utterly reckless of all principles of justice and equity, who endeavor to bend the agent into a compliance with their unjust and unreasonable demands – such as wishing him to supersede prior locations for their benefit, or to grant locations evidently intended to cover town sites, beyond the bounds of his agency, where no mineral exists, which he has no authority to grant; and because he has, in every instance of the kind, resisted their unreasonable applications, he has not escaped making a few enemies among such persons, who are collecting together to abuse and misrepresent him.  Considering the cramped quarters furnished him by the government, and the great rush of people upon him from all quarters, under the excitement of a copper fever raging at its height, and many anxious to obtain exclusive advantages, it is surprising how he has succeeded so well as he has done in giving such general satisfaction.  His official duties are discharged with a promptitude, fidelity, firmness, and impartiality, which are creditable to the public service.  He seems peculiarly fitted, both by habit and nature, for the discharge of the responsible duties involved in the administration of an agency established in a wild an uninhabited country, being traversed at present by bands of people in search of mineral treasures, as diversified in character, dispositions, &c., as the various sections of country from whence they come – many of whom are by no means scrupulous as to the means for promoting their own interest – who probably suppose they can play the same game in the copper mineral region that was practiced in the early leasing of the lead mineral districts of Illinois: that is, seize upon government lands, work and raise mineral ore, cheat the government, and sell rights, where they have never had a claim.

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

It is enough to say that, while such men as Gen. Stockton, Major Campbell, and Mr. Gray, remain in office on the southern shore of Lake Superior, all such desperadoes will be completely foiled and disappointed.  The frauds committed on the government in the working of the lead-mines, cannot be repeated in the copper mineral region of the United States.  When fraudulently-inclined adventurers find they cannot make the faithful officers of government stationed in this quarter swerve from the strict and impartial discharge of their duty, they will probably unite for the purpose of operating upon government to procure their removal, and endeavor to get men in their places more likely to act as plaint tools in promoting their selfish ends.

Detail of Porter's Island and Fort Wilkins at Copper Harbor along the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula from Map of the Mineral Lands Upon Lake Superior Ceded to the United States by the Treaty of 1842 With the Chippeway Indians. ~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Detail of Porter’s Island, Fort Wilkins, Copper Harbor, Agate Harbor, Eagle Harbor, and Little Montreal River along the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula from Map of the Mineral Lands Upon Lake Superior Ceded to the United States by the Treaty of 1842 With the Chippeway Indians.
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

The agency being on a narrow small island, half a mile from the mainland, makes it very inconvenient.  The island does not afford sufficient timber for fire-wood, and in winter is isolated by ice, &c.  It should by all means be removed to the main shore, and placed near Fort Wilkins, which is nearly two miles distant on the main land, or removed up to Eagle Harbor, which is a far preferable and more convenient site for the agency.

There is no question by the great range of trap-rock, running parallel with the southern shore of Lake Superior for a great distance, is [????????] with many valuable veins of copper ore; but to find them and develop them, must be the work of time.  The impenetrable stunted forest seems to be little else than a thick, universal hedge, formed by the horizontal interlocked limbs of dwarf white cedars, intermingled with tamarack, birch, and maple.  Persons who attempt to penetrate through them, without being protected by a mail of dressed buck-skin, have their clothes soon slit and torn from their bodies in shreds.

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.

Dr. Houghton says, so considerable is the attraction of the trap-rock for the needle, that, on many places, when surveying over its ranges, he cannot rely upon it, and is compelled to run his lines by the sun and stellar observations.

So far as practicable mining operations have progressed in the country, the following seems to be the result:

At Eagle river several locations are being worked, superintended by Col. Gratiot, and on which from 70 to 80 men are employed.

Colonel Charles H Gratiot was the Agent of the Lake Superior Copper Company.
Edward Larned was the General Agent, and Charles Larned was the sub-Agent, of the New York and Lake Superior Mining Company.

At Agate Harbor another company have this season commenced operations under the direction of Mr. Larned, of New York, in whose service from 15 to 20 laborers find employment.

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

At Copper Harbor a company from Pittsburg are working a vein of black oxide of copper, under the superintendence of Dr. Pettit, who has from 30 to 40 hands employed under him.  Besides these, there are other small parties at work in various directions.  So that it would appear that mining in the United States copper mineral lands has fairly commenced.

Up to this time, the returns made to the agency by two of the above companies – the Eagle River, alias Boston Company, and the Pittsburg Company – amount to the following quantities of ore:  The former have raised 500,000 lbs. of ore, worth not less than $125 per ton.  The latter company have raised 6,670 lbs. of the black oxide copper ore, the value of which I do not exactly know.

Other companies are organizing for mining purposes, and will probably commence operations the present, or early in the next season.

The country still in the possession of the Chippewa Indians, embraced between the northwestern part of the lake and the British frontier, along Pigeon river, might be easily obtained from them by treaty.  And, if poor in mineral wealth, it is a very rich soil and a good agricultural country; and by its acquisition we should at once extend and square out our possession and settlements to the British frontier, which should be protected by detached forts, extending along our lines, towards the Lake of the Woods.  According to the present Indian boundary, it is made to pass along the water-line of the lake shore, from Pigeon river, around Fond du Lac; and when some distance east and south of the lake, strikes a straight line west from the Mississippi.  The United States, by being cut off by this water-line from all landing sites for harbors or fortifications for one or two hundred miles of the western and northern shore of the lake, will be subject to great inconvenience.

The number of persons at present exploring or visiting the mineral region of Lake Superior, is supposed to amount to five hundred or more.  The water of the lake, especially in deep places is remarkably fine and cool for drinking.  The surface of the water in the upper part of the lake is said to be 900 feet above the level of the Atlantic.  The shores of this great lake are, at many places, bold, high, grand, and solitary – the favorite resort of large eagles, several of which we saw – one, in particular, was a splendid specimen of the bald eagle.  The lake abounds in white fish, trout, siskomit, and bass.

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

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

We caught fine trout almost every day during our voyage, by trailing a hook and line at the end of our boat.  On the 13th inst., (the day before reaching Copper Harbor) we caught four fine large trout.

The scenery, climate, &c., of Lake Superior, strike the traveller as being peculiar, and something very different from what is met with in any part of the United States.  Game is not abundant.  With the exception of a porcupine, and a squirrel or two, we succeeded in killing nothing.  Wild fowl, pigeon, and ducks are more plentiful.  we killed many of the former, and two pheasants, during our trip.  Our half-breed Indians skinned and dressed our porcupine for us, whose flesh we found quite palatable.

At one point I purchased the hind-quarters of a beaver, which some Indians had killed.  The tail being considered a great delicacy, I sent it to Mr. Ord and party, who were then travelling in a separate boat, in company with us.  We found the beaver meat, when dressed, most delicious food.

Our party, although sleeping in and exposed to showers for a day or two, all enjoyed excellent health.  Many voyageurs are attacked with dysentery, but it is very slight, and easily overcome by the use of simple medicine.

I remain yours,

Very truly and respectfully,

MORGAN.

 


 

To be continued in The Copper Region

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.

 

Note:  This is the third of four posts 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 will give some general information about the expedition and some pages from Allen’s journal.   

Douglass Houghton (1809-1845) was the naturalist and physician for the expedition. While traveling with Schoolcraft’s lead group, he expressed frequent concern for Allen and the soldiers as they fell behind (painted by Alva Bradish, 1850; Wikimedia Commons).

Schoolcraft’s original book takes up the first quarter of the pages in the 1958 edition of Narrative of an Expedition, edited by Phillip P. Mason.  The rest of the pages are six appendixes including the journals of Douglass Houghton the surgeon and geologist, W.T. Boutwell the missionary, and Allen.  Of the four, Schoolcraft’s provides the blandest reading.  His positive, official spin on everything offers little glimpse into his psyche.  In contrast, Houghton gives us a unique account of smallpox vaccinations, botany, and geology. Boutwell gives us detailed descriptions of Ojibwe religious practices through his zealous missionary filter.  His frequent complaints about mosquitoes, profane soldiers, Indian drumming, and voyageur gambling ruining his Sabbaths are very humorous to those who aren’t sympathetic to his mission.

Allen’s journal is fascinating. He was sent by the War Department to record information about the geography of the country and its people for military purposes.  Officially the Ojibwe and the United States were friendly. Schoolcraft, being married into a prominent Ojibwe family at the Sault, promoted this idea.  However, a sense of future military confrontation looms over the narrative.  The Indian Removal Act was only two years old, and Black Hawk’s War broke out just as the expedition was starting out.  In 1832, lasting peace between the Ojibwe and the United States was not automatically guaranteed.

The journal reads, at times, like a post-modern anti-colonial novel complete with Allen as the villainous narrator looking to get rich off Lake Superior copper and making war plans against Leech Lake.  However, Allen’s writing style allows the reader in as Schoolcraft’s doesn’t, and he shows himself to be thoughtful and observant.

Allen’s primary objective was to protect Schoolcraft and show the Ojibwe that the United States could easily deliver soldiers to their remotest villages.  This mission proved difficult from the beginning.  Once they left Lake Superior and reached the Fond du Lac portages, it became evident that Allen’s soldiers had no canoe experience and could not keep up with Schoolcraft’s mix-blooded voyageurs.  Schoolcraft never seems overly concerned about this, and much of Allen’s narrative is about his men painfully trying to catch up while the Ojibwe and mix-blooded guides laugh at their floundering techniques for getting through rapids.

Through all the hardship, though, Allen did complete the journey to Elk Lake (Itasca) and back down the Mississippi to Fort Snelling.  His map of the trip was praised back east as a great contribution to world geography, and Schoolcraft used it to illustrate the published narrative.  However, it was the final stretch through the St. Croix and Brule, after Schoolcraft had already declared the expedition a success, where things really got bad for the soldiers.

Continued from Part 2:

Section of Allen’s map showing the St. Croix to Brule portage.  Note Gaa-bimabi’s (Keppameppa’s) village on Whitefish Lake near present-day Gordon, Wisconsin. (Reproduced by John Lindquist).

At this point, Allen and his men have fallen multiple days behind Schoolcraft.  They have no knowledge of the country save a few rough maps and descriptions. Their canoes are falling apart, and they are physically beaten from their difficult journey up the St. Croix.  In theory, the portage over the hill to the Brule should be an easy one given the fact they have little food and supplies left to carry.  However, the men are demoralized and ready to quit.  Little do they know, the darkest days of their journey are still to come.

pl

Doc. 323, pg. 61

Allen8

Doc. 323, pg. 62

Allen9

Doc. 323, pg. 63
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.

To be completed…

Note:  This is the second of four posts 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 will give some general information about the expedition and some pages from Allen’s journal.   

The expedition made good time along the south shore of Lake Superior, with the soldiers in the larger Mackinac boats and the rest of the group in smaller and faster canoes.  At the mouth of the Brule River, they got lucky.  They met an Ojibwe named Ozaawindib (Yellow Head) who was part of the Cass Lake band and who considered the headwaters of the Mississippi part of his hunting territory.

He agreed to guide the group all the way past Fond du Lac, across the portages to Sandy Lake, and up the Mississippi to what the Ojibwe called Omashkooz (Elk) Lake and the French called Lac la Biche.  Possibly thinking that a lake already possessing an indigenous and a European name wouldn’t need to be “discovered,” Schoolcraft renamed it Lake Itasca and told the world he had found the source of the Mississippi (Ozaawindib’s hunting camp).

  • (Side note:  if the last paragraph seemed a little cynical, I apologize.  I hate stories about “discoveries” that aren’t really discoveries.  I’m pretty sure that’s why it took me so long to read this book.  I need to get over this prejudice, or I’m going to miss something good.  Still, you won’t see many “First [insert name of WASP] to visit [insert natural feature well known to Native, nonwhite, or Catholic people]stories on this site).    

Eshkibagikoonzhe (Guelle Platte; Flatmouth), chief of Leech Lake band is a towering figure in the history of the upper Mississippi country in the early 19th century. He gave Schoolcraft and company a friendly but clear demonstration of the limits of American power (Minnesota Historical Society).

Schoolcraft’s relative ease (due to having mix-blood and Ojibwe guides and paddlers) in reaching Elk Lake caused him to remark that the Ojibwe would have to accept American authority now that Government officials and soldiers could penetrate that far into their territory.  Of particular concern to him was the Leech Lake band.  Eshkibagikoonzhe (Flat Mouth) the chief was powerful and independent, and so was the rest of the band. When the expedition returned through Leech Lake, Allen had his dozen soldiers drill and parade, but Flat Mouth put it in friendly but very clear terms.  They were guests in his house.  (The expedition’s experiences in Leech Lake are great reading.  A short rundown here wouldn’t do them justice.  Read the introduction to Witgen’s An Infinity of Nations to get a very good analysis).

Schoolcraft and company took the Crow Wing route to the Mississippi and Fort Snelling (later Minneapolis), and met with more Ojibwe and Dakota bands along the way.  He came back north through the St. Croix and Brule to Lake Superior, returned to the Sault, and sent off a positive report of an efficient and effective trip to bring the Ojibwe under American domination.  All had gone according to plan, right?  Read on.

Pee-Che-Kir: a Chippewa Chief by Charles Bird King: This image of Bizhiki (the “Pee-ghee-kee” mentioned below) was originally painted in 1824 while the Snake River chief was part of a delegation to Washington D.C.  Bizhiki (Buffalo) is a name shared with a famous contemporary, Chief Buffalo of La Pointe (Wikimedia Commons).

The journal picks up July 29, 1832 on the St. Croix River.  The expedition has already reached the source of the Mississippi, proceeded downriver to Fort Snelling (Minneapolis) and was on its way back to Lake Superior. 

These pages document Allen’s journey up the St. Croix.  Schoolcraft, along with the expedition’s interpreter and doctor, are in canoes paddled by mix-blooded voyageurs and are making good time.  The soldiers are a few days back and falling farther behind each day.  They pass through the villages of the “St. Croix band.” The St. Croix Ojibwe are not a single unit, but have several villages and camps.  Their biggest villages are at Snake River and Yellow River, but the account also mentions the small village of the prominent chief  Gaa-bimabi (Keppameppa).  This was near present-day Gordon, Wisconsin.

Section of Allen’s map showing the St. Croix around Yellow River and Namakagon River. Ottawa Lake is Lac Courte Oreilles (reproduced by John Lindquist)

At this point, Allen is becoming increasingly angry at Schoolcraft for ditching the soldiers.  As he passes through the three Ojibwe villages, his racism towards Indians shifts from a comfortable sense of superiority to a fearful paranoia.

Placeholde

Doc. 323; pg 58

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Doc. 323, pg. 59

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Doc. 323, pg. 60
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.

To be continued…

Note:  This is the first of four posts 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 will give some general information about the expedition and some pages from Allen’s journal.  The journal picks up July 26, 1832, after the expedition has already reached the source, proceeded downriver to Fort Snelling (Minneapolis) and was on its way back to Lake Superior.   

Henry Rowe Schoolcraft (1793-1864)

Although I’ve been aware of it for some time, and have used parts of it before, I only recently read Henry Schoolcraft’s, Narrative of an Expedition Through the Upper Mississippi to Itasca Lake: The Actual Source of this River from cover to cover.  The book, first published in 1834, details Schoolcraft’s 1832 expedition through northern Wisconsin and Minnesota.  As Indian agent at Sault Ste. Marie, he was officially sent by the Secretary of War, Lewis Cass, to investigate the ongoing warfare between the Ojibwe and Dakota Sioux.  His personal goal, however, was to reach the source of the Mississippi River and be recognized as its discoverer.

Schoolcraft’s expedition included a doctor to administer smallpox vaccinations, an interpreter (Schoolcraft’s brother-in-law), and a protestant missionary.  Having been west before, Schoolcraft knew what it would take to navigate the country.  He hired several mix-blooded voyageurs who are hardly mentioned in the narrative, but who paddled the canoes, carried the portage loads, shot ducks, and did the other work along the way.

Ozhaawashkodewekwe (Susan Johnston) was the mother-in-law of Schoolcraft and the mother of expedition interpreter George Johnston. Born in the Chequamegon region, she is a towering figure in the history of Lake Superior during the late British and early American periods.

Attached the the expedition was Lt. James Allen and a detachment of ten soldiers, whose purpose was to demonstrate American power over the Ojibwe lands.  The United States had claimed this land since the Treaty of Paris, but it was only after the War of 1812 that the British withdrew allowing American trading companies to move in.  Still, by 1832 the American government had very little reach beyond its outposts at the Sault, Prairie du Chien, and Fort Snelling.  The Ojibwe continued to trade with the British and war with the Dakota in opposition to their “Great Father” in Washington’s wishes.

This isn’t to say the Ojibwe were ignorant of the Americans and their military.  By 1832, the Ojibwe were well aware of and concerned about the chimookomaanag (long knives) and what they were doing to other Indian nations to the south and east.  However, the reality on the ground was that the Ojibwe were still in power in their lands.

Allen1

Doc. 323, pg 55

Doc. 323, pg. 56

Doc. 323, pg. 56

Doc. 323, pg. 57 Allen's journal is

Doc. 323, pg. 57
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.

To be continued…