An Incident of Chegoimegon

November 26, 2016

By Amorin Mello

Report and Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. For the years 1877, 1878 and 1879. Volume VIII., pages 224-226.

This is a reproduction of “An Incident of Chegoimegon – 1760” from Report and Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin: For the years 1877, 1878 and 1879. Volume VIII., pages 224-226.

AN INCIDENT OF CHEGOIMEGON – 1760.*

We have been permitted to extract the following from the journal of a gentleman who has seen a large portion of the country to the north and west of this place, and to whose industry our readers have been often indebted for information relating to the portion of country over which he has passed, and to transactions among the numerous tribes, within the limits of this territory, which tend to elucidate their characteristics, and lay open the workings of their untaught minds:

Mooningwanekaaning-minis:
Island of the Northern Flicker;
Isle de la Ronde;
Madeline Island.
1744 Belin isle de ronde

Detail of Isle de la Ronde from Carte des lacs du Canada by Jacques-Nicolas Bellin; published in Charlevoix’s Histoire et Description Générale de Nouvelle France, Paris, 1744.

Monecauning (abbreviated for “Monegoinaic-cauning,” the Woodpecker Island, in Chippewa language) – which is sometimes called Montreal Island, Cadott’s Island, or Middle Island, and is one of “the Apostles” mentioned by Charlevoix. it is situated in Lake Superior, about ninety miles from Fond du Lac, at the extremity of La Pointe, or Point Chegoimegon.

On this island the French Government had a fort, long previous to its surrender to the English, in 1763. It was garrisoned by regular soldiers, and was the most northern post at which the French king had troops stationed. It was never re-occupied by the English, who removed everything valuable to the Sault de St. Marie, and demolished the works. It is said to have been strongly fortified, and the remains of the works may yet be seen.

In the autumn of 1760, all of the traders except one, who traded from this post, left it for their wintering grounds. He who remained had with him his wife, who was a lady from Montreal, his child – a small boy, and one servant. During the winter, the servant, probably for the purpose of plunder, killed the trader and his wife; and a few days after their death, murdered the child. He continued at the fort until the spring. When the traders came, they enquired for the gentleman and his family; and were told by the servant, that in the month of March, they left him to go to their sugar camp, beyond the bay, since which time he had neither seen nor heard them. The Indians, who were somewhat implicated by this statement, were not well satisfied with it, and determined to examine into its truth. They went out and searched for the family’s tracks; but found none, and their suspicions of the murderer increased. They remained perfectly silent on the subject; and when the snow had melted away, and the frost left the ground, they took sharp stakes and examined around the fort by sticking them into the ground, until they found three soft spots a short distance from each other, and digging down they discovered the bodies.

Other versions of this tragic incident are cited in The Story of Chequamegon Bay:
“New France was tottering to her fall. The little garrison on Madelaine Island had been withdrawn from the frontier, with many another like it, to help in the defense of the lower country ; and the Upper Lakes, no longer policed by the fur trade monopoly, were free plunder for unlicensed traders, or coureurs des bois. Doubtless such were the party who encamped upon the island during the autumn of 1760. By the time winter had set in upon them, all had left for their wintering grounds in the forests of the far West and Northwest, save a clerk named Joseph, who remained in charge of the stores and the local traffic. With him were his little family,—his wife, who was from Montreal, his child, a small boy, and a man-servant, or voyageur. Traditions differ as to the cause of the servant’s action,— some have it, a desire for wholesale plunder; others, the being detected in a series of petty thefts, which Joseph threatened to report; others, an unholy and unrequited passion for Joseph’s wife. However that may be, the servant murdered first the clerk, and then the wife; and in a few days, stung by the piteous cries of the child, the lad himself. When the spring came, and the traders returned to Chequamegon, they inquired for Joseph and his family, but the servant’s reply was unsatisfactory and he finally confessed to his horrid deed. The story goes, that in horror the traders dismantled the old French fort as a thing accursed, sunk the cannon in a neighboring pool, and so destroyed the palisade that to-day naught remains save grassy mounds. Carrying their prisoner with them on their return voyage to Montreal, he is said to have escaped to the Hurons, among whom he boasted of his deed, only to be killed as too cruel a companion even for savages.29″
“29 See the several versions of this tale, Wis. Hist. Colls., viii., pp. 224 et seq.; and Minn. Hist. Colls., v., pp. 141-145, 431-432.  Warren says that some Chippewa traditions ascribe this tragedy to the year 1722, but the weight of evidence is as in the text above.”
William Whipple Warren attributed his version of this story to Michel Cadotte and John Baptiste Corbin.

The servant was immediately seized and sent off in an Indian canoe, for Montreal, for trial. When passing the Longue Saut, in the river St. Lawrence, the Indians who had him in charge, were told of the advances of the English upon Montreal, and that they could not in safety proceed to that place. They at once became a war party, – their prisoner was released, and he joined and fought with them. Having no success, and becoming tired of the war, they sought their own land – taking the murderer with them as one of their war party.

They had nearly reached the Saut de St. Marie, when they held a dance. During the dance, as is usual, each one “struck the post,” and told, in his manner, of his exploits. The murderer, in his turn, danced up to the post, and boasted that he had killed the trader and his family – relating all the circumstances attending the murder. The chief heard him in silence, saving the usual grunt, responsive to the speaker. The evening passed away, and nothing farther occurred.

The next day the chief called his young men aside, and said to them: “Did you not hear this man’s speech last night? He now says that he did the murder with which we charged him. He ought not to have boasted of it. We boast of having killed our enemies – never our friends. Now he is going back to the place where committed the act, and where we live – perhaps he will again murder. He is a bad man – neither we nor our friends are safe. If you are of my mind, we will strike this man on the head.” They all declared themselves of his opinion, and determined that justice should be rendered him speedily and effectually.

They continued encamped, and made a feast, to which the murderer was invited to partake. They filled his dish with an extravagant quantity, and when he commenced his meal, the chief informed him, in a few words, of the decree in council, and that as soon as he had finished his meal, either by eating the whole his dish contained, or as much as he could, the execution was to take place. The murderer, now becoming sensible of his perilous situation, from the appearance of things around him, availed himself of the terms of the sentence he had just heard pronounced, and did ample justice to the viands. He continued, much to the discomfiture of the “phiz” of justice (personified by the chief, who all the while sat smoking through his nose), eating and drinking until he had sat as long as a modern alderman at a corporation dinner. But it was of no avail – when he ceased eating he ceased breathing.

The chief cut up the body of the murderer, and boiled it for another feast – but his young men would touch none of it – they said, “he was not worthy to be eaten – he was worse than a bad dog. We will not taste him, for if we do, we shall be worse than dogs ourselves.”

William Morrison and his younger brother, Allen Morrison, were both employed at Fond du Lac by John Jacob Astor for the American Fur Company.

Mr. Morrison, who gave me the above relation, told me he had it from a very old Indian, who was present at the death of the murderer.

 


L’Anse Qui-wy-we-nong
L’anse Keweenaw;
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community.

* – This paper was originally published in the Detroit Gazette, Aug. 30, 1822. Hon. C. C. Throwbridge of Detroit, a resident of that place for sixty years, states that Mr. Schoolcraft, without doubt, contributed this sketch to the Gazette; that Mr. Schoolcraft, at the time of its publication, was residing at the Saut St. Marie: and Mr. Morrison, who was one of Mr. Astor’s most trusted agents at “L’Anse Qui-wy-we-nong,” came down to Mackinaw every summer, and thus gave Mr. Schoolcraft the information.

L. C. D.

By Amorin Mello

… continued from Among The Otchipwees: II

 


 

Magazine of Western History Illustrated No. 4 February 1885 as republished in Magazine of Western History: Volume I

Magazine of Western History Illustrated
No. 4 February 1885
as republished in
Magazine of Western History: Volume I, pages 335-342.

AMONG THE OTCHIPWEES.

III.

The Northern tribes have nothing deserving the name of historical records.  Their hieroglyphics or pictorial writings on trees, bark, rocks and sheltered banks of clay relate to personal or transient events.  Such representations by symbols are very numerous but do not attain to a system.

Their history prior to their contact with the white man has been transmitted verbally from generation to generation with more accuracy than a civilized people would do.  Story-telling constitutes their literature.  In their lodges they are anything but a silent people.  When their villages are approached unawares, the noise of voices is much the same as in the camps of parties on pic-nic excursions.  As a voyageur the pure blood is seldom a success, and one of the objections to him is a disposition to set around the camp-fire and relate his tales of war or of the hunt, late into the night.  This he does with great spirit, “suiting the action to the word” with a varied intonation and with excellent powers of description.  Such tales have come down orally from old to young many generations, but are more mystical than historical.  The faculty is cultivated in the wigwam during long winter nights, where the same story is repeated by the patriarchs to impress it on the memory of the coming generation.  With the wild man memory is sharp, and therefore tradition has in some cases a semblance to history.  In substance, however, their stories lack dates, the subjects are frivolous or merely romantic, and the narrator is generally given to embellishment.  He sees spirits everywhere, the reality of which is accepted by the child, who listens with wonder to a well-told tale, in which he not only believes, but is preparing to be a professional story-teller himself.

Charles Whittlesey reproduced some of these pictographs in Western Reserve Historical Society Tract 41.

Indian picture-writings and inscriptions, in their hieroglyphics, are seen everywhere on trees, rocks and pieces of bark, blankets and flat pieces of wood.  Above Odanah, on Bad River, is a vertical bank of clay, shielded from storms by a dense group of evergreens.  On this smooth surface are the records of many generations, over and across each other, regardless of the rights of previous parties.  Like most of their writings, they relate to trifling events of the present, such as the route which is being traveled; the game killed; or the results of a fight.  To each message the totem or dodem of the writer is attached, by which he is at once recognized.  But there are records of some consequence, though not strictly historical.

Charles Whittlesey also reproduced Okandikan's autobiography in Western Reserve Historical Society Tract 41.

Charles Whittlesey also reproduced Okandikan’s autobiography in Western Reserve Historical Society Tract 41.

Before a young man can be considered a warrior, he must undergo an ordeal of exposure and starvation.  He retires to a mountain, a swamp, or a rock, and there remains day and night without food, fire or blankets, as long as his constitution is able to endure the exposure.  Three or four days is not unusual, but a strong Indian, destined to be a great warrior, should fast at least a week.  One of the figures on this clay bank is a tree with nine branches and a hand pointing upward.  This represents the vision of an Indian known to one of my voyagers, which he saw during his seclusion.  He had fasted nine days, which naturally gave him an insight of the future, and constituted his motto, or chart of life.  In tract No. 41 (1877), of the Western Reserve Historical Society, I have represented some of the effigies in this group; and also the personal history of Kundickan, a Chippewa, whom I saw in 1845, at Ontonagon.  This record was made by himself with a knife, on a flat piece of wood, and is in the form of an autobiography.  In hundreds of places in the United States such inscriptions are seen, of the meaning of which very little is known.  Schoolcraft reproduced several of them from widely separated localities, such as the Dighton Boulder, Rhode Island; a rock on Kelley’s Island, Lake Erie, and from pieces of birch bark, conveying messages or memoranda to aid an orator in his speeches.

“The drawings, done in color, were copies made by Four Horns from a set by Sitting Bull’s own hand, had been sold to James C. Kimball, Assistant Surgeon, U.S.A. in 1870 by a Yanktonais Sioux, who also supplied a key or index (highly inaccurate and incomplete) explaining the pictures.”
~ New Sources of Indian History, 1850-1891: The Ghost Dance and the Prairie Sioux, A Miscellany by Stanley Vestal, 2015, page 269.

The “Indian rock” in the Susquehanna River, near Columbia, Pennsylvania; the God Rock, on the Allegheny, near Brady’s Bend; inscriptions on the Ohio River Rocks, near Wellsville, Ohio, and near the mouth of the Guyandotte, have a common style, but the particular characters are not the same.  Three miles west of Barnsville, in Belmont County, Ohio, is a remarkable group of sculptured figures, principally of human feet of various dimensions and uncouth proportions.  Sitting Bull gave a history of his exploits on sheets of paper, which he explained to Dr. Kimball, a surgeon in the army, published in fascimile in Harper’s Weekly, July 1876.  Such hieroglyphics have been found on rocky faces in Arizona, and on boulders in Georgia.

Charles Whittlesey is referring to either the La Pointe Annuity Payments during 1849 or 1860.  For context about these events, read about the 1848 La Pointe Annuity Payments and the 1855 La Pointe Annuity Payments.
Detail of 1852 PLSS of La Pointe. http://digicoll.library.wisc.edu/SurveyNotes/Search.html

Pointe De Froid is the northwestern extremity of La Pointe on Madeline Island. Map detail from 1852 PLSS survey.

“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.
“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.”
~  Geology of Wisconsin: Paleontology by R. P. Whitfield, 1880, page 58.

While pandemonium was let loose at La Pointe towards the close of the payment we made a bivouac on the beach, between the dock and the mission house.  The voyageurs were all at the great finale which constitutes the paradise of a Chippewa.  One of my local assistants was playing the part of a detective on the watch for whisky dealers.  We had seen one of them on the head waters of Brunscilus River, who came through the woods up the Chippewa River.  Beyond the village of La Pointe, on a sandy promontory called Pointe au Froid, abbreviated to Pointe au Fret or Cold Point, were about twenty-five lodges, and probably one hundred and fifty Indians excited by liquor.  For this, diluted with more than half water, they paid a dollar for each pint, and the measure was none too large – neither pressed down nor running over.  Their savage yells rose on the quiet moon-lit atmosphere like a thousand demons.  A very little weak whisky is sufficient to work wonders in the stomach of a backwoods Indian, to whom it is a comparative stranger.  About midnight the detective perceived our traveler from the Chippewa River quietly approaching the dock, to which he tied his canoe and went among the lodges.  To the stern there were several kegs of fire-water attached, but weighted down below the surface of the water.  It required but a few minutes to haul them in and stave the heads of all of them.  Before morning there appeared to be more than a thousand savage throats giving full play to their powerful lungs.  Two of them were staggering along the beach toward where I lay, with one man by my side.  he said we had better be quiet, which, undoubtedly, was good advice.  They were nearly naked, locked arm in arm, their long hair spread out in every direction, and as they swayed to and fro between the water line and the bushes, no imagination could paint a more complete representation of the demon.  There was a yell to every step – apparently a bacchanalian song.  They were within two yards before they saw us, and by one leap cleared everything, as though they were as much surprised as we were.  The song, or howl, did not cease.  It was kept up until they turned away from the beach into the mission road, and went on howling over the hill toward the old fort.  It required three days for half-breed and full-blood alike to recover from the general debauch sufficiently to resume the oar and pack.  As we were about to return to the Penoka Mountains, a Chippewa buck, with a new calico shirt and a clean blanket, wished to know if the Chemokoman would take him to the south shore.  He would work a paddle or an oar.  Before reaching the head of the Chegoimegon Bay there was a storm of rain.  He pulled off his shirt, folded it and sat down upon it, to keep it dry.  The falling rain on his bare back he did not notice.

Stephen Bonga was famous for his deeds as a mixed-blood member of the Lake Superior Chippewa, his family were the first African-Americans living in what is now Minnesota.  Stephen’s brother Charles Bonga was introduced in Part II, but there is no other record of him.  Charles appears to be an alias for either George Bonga or Jack Bonga, Stephen’s other brothers.
Portrait of Stephen Bonga ().

Portrait of Stephen Bonga
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

We had made the grand portage of nine miles from the foot of the cataract of the St. Louis, above Fond du Lac, and encamped on the river where the trail came to it below the knife portage.  In the evening Stephen Bungo, a brother of Charles Bungo, the half-breed negro and Chippewa, came into our tent.  He said he had a message from Naugaunup, second chief of the Fond du Lac band, whose home as at Ash-ke-bwau-ka, on the river above.  His chief wished to know by what authority we came through the country without consulting him.  After much diplomatic parley Stephen was given some pequashigon and went to his bivouac.

Naagaanab (Minnesota Historical Society)

Portrait of Naagaanab
~ Minnesota Historical Society

The next morning he intimated that we must call at Naugaunup’s lodge on the way up, where probably permission might be had, by paying a reasonable sum, to proceed.  We found him in a neat wigwam with two wives, on a pleasant rise of the river bluff, clear of timber, where there had been a village of the same name.  His countenance was a pleasant one, very closely resembling that of Governor Corwin, of Ohio, but his features were smaller and also his stature.  Dr. Norwood informed him that we had orders from the Great Father to go up the St. Louis to its source, thence to the waters running the other way to the Canada line.  Nothing but force would prevent us from doing this, and if he was displeased he should make a complaint to the Indian agent at La Pointe, and he would forward it to Washington.  We heard no more of the invasion of his territory, and he proceeded to do what very few Chippewas will do, offered to show us valuable minerals.  In the stream was a pinnacle of black sale, about sixty feet high.  Naugaunup soon appeared from behind it, near the top, in a position that appeared to be inaccessible, a very picturesque object pointing triumphantly to some veins of white quartz, which are very common in metamorphic slate.

Those who have heard him, say that he was a fine orator, having influence over his band, a respectable Indian, and a good negotiator. If he imagined there was value in those seams of quartz it is quite remarkable and contrary to universal practice among Chippewas that he should show them to white men.  They claim that all minerals belong to the tribe.  An Indian who received a price for showing them, and did not give every one his share, would be in danger of his life.  They had also a superstitious dread of some great evil if they disclosed anything of the kind.  Some times they promise to do so, but when they arrive at the spot, with some verdant white man, expecting to become suddenly rich, the Great Spirit or the Bad Manitou has carried it away.  I have known more than one such instance, where persons have been sustained by hopeful expectation after many days of weary travel into the depths of the forest.  The editor of the Ontonagon Miner gives one of the instances in his experience:

The Ontonagon Trading Post of the American Fur Company was located at the mouth of Big Iron River.  For more information, read A History of Silver City, Ontonagon County, Michigan by Knox Jamison, 1963, page 1.

“Many years ago when Iron River was one of the fur stations, of John Jacob Astor and the American Fur Company, the Indians were known to have silver in its native state in considerable quantities.”

Men are now living who have seen them with chunks of the size of a man’s fist, but no one ever succeeded in inducing them to tell or show where the hidden treasure lay.  A mortal dread clung to them, that if they showed white men a deposit of mineral the Great Manitou would punish them with death.

Several years since a half-breed brought in very fine specimens of vein rock, carrying considerable quantities of native silver.  His report was that his wife had found it on the South Range, where they were trapping.  To test his story he was sent back for more.  In a few days he returned bringing with him quite a chunk from which was obtained eleven and one-half ounces of native silver.  He returned home, went among the Flambeaux Indians and was killed.  His wife refused to listen to any proposals or temptation from friend or foe to show the location of this vein, clinging with religious tenacity to the superstitious fears of her tribe.

The “Bruce or Wellington mining property” could not be identified before publication of this post.

When the British had a fort on St. Joseph’s Island in the St. Mary’s River, in the War of 1812, an Indian brought in a rich piece of copper pyrites.  The usual mode of getting on good terms with him, by means of whisky, failed to get from him the location of the mineral.  Goods were offered him; first a bundle, then a pile, afterwards a canoe-load, and finally enough to load a Mackinaw boat.  No promise to disclose the place, no description or hint could be extorted.  It was probably a specimen from the veins on the Bruce or Wellington mining property, only about twenty miles distant on the Canadian shore.

Mako-bimide (also known as Moquabimetem, Makwabimetem, or John Beargrease the Elder) and his family lived in isolation near Prairie Lake.  They later moved to Beaver Bay on the North Shore of Lake Superior.
John Beargrease the Younger (aka Eshquabi) was the first mail carrier on the North Shore.  John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon is named in his honor.
Chequamegon History recommends the book John Beargrease [the Younger]: Legend of Minnesota’s North Shore by Daniel Lancaster, 2008.
John Beargrease the Younger was the first mail carrier on the North Shore of Lake Superior. ~ Smithsonian's National Postal Museum

Detail of John Beargrease the Younger from stereograph “Lake Superior winter mail line” by B. F. Childs, circa 1870s-1880s.
Commons.Wikimedia.org

Crossing over the portage from the St. Louis River to Vermillion River, one of the voyageurs heard the report of a distant shot.  They had expected to meet Bear’s Grease, with his large family, and fired a gun as a signal to them.  The ashes of their fire were still warm.  After much shouting and firing, it was evident that we should have no Indian society at that time.  That evening, around an ample camp fire, we heard the history of the old patriarch.  His former wives had borne him twenty-four children; more boys than girls.  Our half-breed guide had often been importuned to take one of the girls.  The old father recommended her as a good worker, and if she did not work he must whip her.  Even a moderate beating always brought her to a sense of her duties.  All he expected was a blanket and a gun as an offset.  He would give a great feast on the occasion of the nuptials.  Over the summit to Vermillion, through Vermillion Lake, passing down the outlet among many cataracts to the Crane Lake portage, there were encamped a few families, most of them too drunk to stand alone.  There were two traders, from the Canada side, with plenty of rum.  We wanted a guide through the intricacies of Rainy Lake.  A very good-looking savage presented himself with a very unsteady gait, his countenance expressing the maudlin good nature of Tam O’Shanter as he mounted Meg.  Withal, he appeared to be honest.  “Yes, I know that way, but, you see, I’m drunk; can’t you wait till to-morrow.”  A young squaw who apparently had not imbibed fire-water, had succeeded in acquiring a pewter ring.  Her dress was a blanket of rabbit skins, made of strips woven like a rag carpet.  It was bound around her waist with a girdle of deer’s hide, answering the purpose of stroud and blanket.  No city belle could exhibit a ring of diamonds more conspicuously and with more self-satisfaction than this young squaw did her ring of pewter.

Old Wau-nun-nee could not be identified before publication of this post.  Please let us know if you can identify this individual and the fate of his Band.
The Grand Fourche Bands may have been located along the Red River of the North.  This may be at Grand Forks on the Red River of the North bordering between Minnesota and North Dakota.
Ash-ab-ash-kaw Lake could not be identified before publication of this post.  Please let us know if you can identify this village.
The Red River of the North was known as part of Rupert’s Land, and was used as a major trade route by the Hudson’s Bay Company.

As we were all silently sitting in the canoes, dripping with rain, a sudden halloo announced the approach of living men.  It was no other than Wau-nun-nee, the chief of the Grand Fourche bands, who was hunting for ducks among the rice.  More delicious morsels never gladdened the palate than these plump, fat, rice-fed ducks.  Old Wau-nun-nee is a gentleman among Indian chiefs.  His band had never consented to sell their land, and consequently had no annuities.  He even refused to receive a present from the Government as one of the head men of the tribe, preferring to remain wholly independent.  We soon came to his village on Ash-ab-ash-kaw Lake.  No band of Indians in our travels appeared as comfortable or behaved as well as this.  Their country is well supplied with rice and tolerably good hunting ground.  The American fur dealers (I mean the licensed ones) do not sell liquor to the Indians, and use their influence to aid Government in keeping it from them.  Wau-nun-nee’s baliwick was seldom disturbed by drunken brawls.  His Indians had more pleasant countenances than any we had seen, with less of the wild and haggard look than the annuity Indians.  It was seldom they left their grounds, for they seldom suffered from hunger.  They were comfortably clothed, made no importunities for kokoosh or pequashigon, and in gratifying their savage curiosity about our equipments they were respectful and pleasant.  In his lodge the chief had teacups and saucers, with tea and sugar for his white guests, which he pressed us to enjoy.  But we had no time for ceremonials, and had tea and sugar of our own.  Our men recognized numerous acquaintances among the women, and as we encamped near a second village at Round Lake they came to make a draft on our provision chest.  We here laid in a supply of wild rice in exchange for flour.  Among this band we saw bows and arrows used to kill game.  They have so little trade with the whites, and are so remote from the depots of Indian goods, that powder and lead are scarce, and guns also.  For ducks and geese the bow and arrow is about as effectual as powder and shot.  In truth, the community of which Wau-nun-nee was the patriarch came nearer to the pictures of Indians which poets are fond of drawing than any we saw.  The squaws were more neatly clad, and their hair more often combed and braided and tied with a piece of ribbon or red flannel, with which their pappooses delighted to sport.  There were among them fewer of those distinguished smoke-dried, sore-eyed creatures who present themselves at other villages.

The “head of the Round Lake branch” could not be identified before publication of this post.  Please let us know if you can identify this historic route and portage.

By my estimate the channel, as we followed it to the head of the Round Lake branch, is two hundred and two mile in length, and the rise of the stream one hundred and eight feet.  The portage to a stream leading into the Mississippi is one mile.

At Round Lake we engaged two young Indians to help over the portage in Jack’s place.  Both of them were decided dandies, and one, who did not overtake us till late the next morning, gave an excuse that he had spent the night in courting an Indian damsel.  This business is managed with them a little differently than with us.  They deal largely in charms, which the medicine men furnish.  This fellow had some pieces of mica, which he pulverized, and was managing to cause his inamorata to swallow.  If this was effected his cause was sure to succeed.  He had also some ochery, iron ore and an herb to mix with the mica.  Another charm, and one very effectual, is composed of a hair from the damsel’s head placed between two wooden images.  Our Lothario had prepared himself externally so as to produce a most killing effect.  His hair was adorned with broad yellow ribbons, and also soaked in grease.  On his cheeks were some broad jet black stripes that pointed, on both sides, toward his mouth; in his ears and nose, some beads four inches long.  For a pouch and medicine bag he had the skin of a swan suspended from his girdle by the neck.  His blanket was clean, and his leggings wrought with great care, so that he exhibited a most striking collection of colors.

Cass Lake is the largest community of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe.

At Round Lake we overtook the Cass Lake band on their return from the rice lakes.  This meeting produced a great clatter of tongues between our men and the squaws, who came waddling down a slippery bank where they were encamped.  There was a marked difference between these people and those at Ash-ab-ash-kaw.  They were more ragged, more greasy, and more intrusive.

CHARLES WHITTLSEY.

By Amorin Mello

… continued from Among The Otchipwees: I

Magazine of Western History Illustrated No. 3 January 1885 as republished in Magazine of Western History: Volume I

Magazine of Western History Illustrated
No. 3 January 1885
as republished in
Magazine of Western History: Volume I, pages 177-192.

AMONG THE OTCHIPWEES.

II.

In the fall of 1849, the Bad Water band were in excellent condition, and therefore very happy.  Deer were then very abundant on the Menominee.  They are nimble animals, able to leap gracefully over obstructions as high as a man’s head standing.  But they do not like such efforts, unless there is a necessity for it.  The Indians discovered this long ago, and built long brush fences across their trails to the water.  When the unsuspecting animal has finished browsing, he goes for a drink with the regularity of an habitué of a saloon.  Seeing the obstruction, he walks leisurely along it, expecting to find a low place, or the end of it.  The dark eye of the Chippewa is fixed upon him from the top of a tree.  This is much the best position, because the deer is not likely to look up, and the wind is less likely to bear his odor to the delicate nostrils of the game.  At such close quarters every shot is fatal.  Its throat is cut, its legs tied together, and thrown over the head and shoulders of the hunter, its body resting on his back, and he starts for the village.  Here the squaws strip off the hide and prepare the carcass for the kettle.  With a tin cup full of flour or a pound of pork, we often purchased a saddle of venison, and both parties were satisfied with the trade.

Naagaanab<br/>~ Minnesota Historical Society

Naagaanab
~ Minnesota Historical Society

Ushkabwahka river is Ushkibwakani-zibi [Askibwaanikaa-ziibi]. The-river-of-the-place-of-the-wild-artichokes.”
Executive Documents of the State of Minnesota for the Year 1886, Volume V.: Minnesota Geographical Names Derived from the Chippewa Language, by Reverend Joseph Alexander Gilfillan, 1887, page 457.
Jerusalem Artichoke is translated as as As’kibwan’ 1928 book, Uses of Plants by the Chippewa Indians by Frances Densmore, 1928.
Ekwaakwaa refers to a place near the “edge of the woods.”
Akwaakwaa
refers to “go a certain distance in the woods.”
“The several rapids from Knife portage to Ashkewaka, I estimate at sixty (60) feet, and thence to the mouth of the East Savannah river twenty-five (25) feet, making five hundred and ninety-four (594) feet above Lake Superior and 1204 above the ocean.”
General Geology: Miscellaneous Papers, Volume 1A Report of Explorations in the Mineral Regions of Minnesota During the Years 1848, 1859 and 1864 by Colonel Charles Whittlesey, 1866, page 44.

Of course the man of the woods has a preference as to what he shall eat; but when he is suffering from hunger, as he is a large part of his days, he is not very particular.  Fresh venison, bear meat, buffalo, moose, caribou, porcupine, wild geese, ducks, rabbits, pigeons, or fish, relish better than gulls, foxes, or skunks.  The latter do very well while he is on the verge of starvation, and even owls, crows, dead horses and oxen.  The lakes of the interior of Minnesota and Wisconsin produce wild rice spontaneously.  When parched it is more palatable than southern rice, and more nutritious.  Potatoes grow well everywhere in the north country; varieties of corn ripen as far north as Red Lake.  Nothing but a disinclination to labor hinders the Chippewa from always having enough to eat.  With the wild rice, sugar, and the fat of animals, well mixed, they make excellent rations, which will sustain life longer than any preparation known to white men.  A packer will carry on his back enough to last him forty days.  He needs only a tin cup in which to warm water, with which it makes a rich soup.  Pemmican is less palatable, and sooner becomes rancid.  This is made of smoke or jerked meat pulverized, saturated with fat and pressed into cakes or blocks.  Sturgeon are numerous and large, and when well smoked and well pulverized they furnish palatable food even without salt, and keep indefinitely.  Voyagers mix it with sugar and water in their cups.  In the large lakes, white fish, siskowit, and lake trout are abundant.  In the smaller lakes and rivers there are many varieties of fish.  With so many resources supplied by nature, if the natives suffer  from hunger it is solely caused by indolence.  His implicit reliance upon the Great Spirit, which is his good Providence, no doubt encourages improvidence.  Nanganob was apparently very desirous to have a garden at Ashkebwaka, for which I sent him a barrel of seed potatoes, corn, pumpkins, and a general assortment of seeds.  Precisely what was done with the parcel I do not know, but none of it went into the ground.  In most cases everything eatable went into their stomachs as soon as they were hungry.  Even after potatoes had been planted, they have been dug out and eaten, and squashes when they were merely out of bloom.  If the master of a lodge should be inclined to preserve the seed and a hungry brother came that way, their hospitality required that the garden should be sacrificed.  Their motto is that the morrow will take care of itself.  After being well fed, they are especially worthless.  When corn has been issued to them to carry to their home, they have been known to throw it away and go off as happy as children.

Detail of the Saint Louis River with Knife Portage and East Savannah River from Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River from Astronomical and Barometrical Observations Surveys and Information by Joseph Nicolas Nicollet, 1843. ~ David Rumsey Map Collection

Detail of the Saint Louis River with the Artichoke River (unlabeled) between the Knife Portage and East Savannah River from Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River from Astronomical and Barometrical Observations Surveys and Information by Joseph Nicolas Nicollet, 1843.
~ David Rumsey Map Collection

No footgear is more comfortable, especially in winter, than the moccasin.  The Indian knows nothing of cold feet, though he has no shoes or even socks.  His light loose moccasin is large enough to allow a wrap of one or more thickness of pieces of blankets, called “nepes.”  In times of extreme cold, wisps of hay are put in around the “nepes.”  In winter the snow is dry, and the rivers and swamps everywhere covered with ice, which is a thorough protection against wet feet.  As they are never pinched by the devices of shoemakers, the blood circulates freely.  The well tanned deer skin is soft and a good nonconductor, which cannot be said of the footgear of civilization.  In summer the moccasin is light and easy to the foot, but is no protection against water.  At night it is not dried at the camp-fire only wrung out to be put on wet in the morning.  Like the bow and the arrow, these have nearly disappeared since Europeans have furnished bullets, powder and guns.  Before that time the war club was a very important weapon.  It was of wood, having a strong handle, with a ball or knot at the end. If the Chippewas used battleaxes of stone, they could not have been common.  I have rarely seen a light war club with an iron spike well fastened in the knot or ball at the end.  In ancient days, when their arrows and daggers were tipped with flint, their battles were like those of all rude people – personal encounters of the most desperate character.  The sick are possessed of evil spirits which are driven out by incantations loud and prolonged enough to kill a well person.  Their acquaintance with medical herbs is very complete.

Mr. B cannot be identified without more biographical information.  He could be either Harry S. Beesley or Daniel P. Bushnell (both men are mentioned later), or someone else.

One of the customs of the country is that of concubinage as well as polygamy, resembling in this respect the ancient Hebrews and other Eastern nations.  The parents of a girl – on proper application and the payment of a blanket, some tobacco and other et ceteras, amounting to “ten pieces” – bestowing their daughter for such a period as her new master may choose.  A further consideration is understood that she is to be clothed and fed, and when the parents visit the traders’ post they expect some pork and flour.  To a maiden – who, as an Indian wife or in her father’s house is not only a drudge but a slave, compelled to row the canoe, to cut and bring wood, put up the lodge and take it down, and always to carry some burden – this situation is a very agreeable one.  If she wishes to marry afterwards, her reputation does not suffer.  While Mr. B. was conversing with the Hudson’s Bay man on the bank, some of the girls came coquettishly down to them frisking about in their rabbit skin blankets well saturated with grease.  One of them managed to keep in view what she considered a special attraction – a fine pewter ring on her finger.  These Chippewas damsels had in some way acquired the art of insinuation belonging to the sex without the aid of a boarding school.

History and Tribes of the La Pointe Indian Agency

The Indian agent at La Pointe killed a deer of about medium size, which he left in the woods.  He engaged an Indian to bring it in.  Night came and the next day before the man returned without the deer.  “Where is my deer?”  “Eat him, don’t suppose me to eat nothing.”  Probably that meal lasted him a week.  There is among them no regular time for meals or other occupations.  If there are provisions in the lodge, each one helps himself; and if a visitor comes, he is offered what he can eat as long as it lasts.  This is their view of hospitality.  The lazy and worthless are never refused.  To do this to the meanest professional dead beat would be the ruin of the character of the host.

Detail of portage across Missabay Heights between Lake Vermillion and the Saint Louis River headwaters from Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River from Astronomical and Barometrical Observations Surveys and Information by Joseph Nicolas Nicollet, 1843. ~ David Rumsey Map Collection

Detail of portage between Lake Vermillion and the Saint Louis River headwaters from Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River from Astronomical and Barometrical Observations Surveys and Information by Joseph Nicolas Nicollet, 1843.
~ David Rumsey Map Collection

Daniel P. Bushnell was stationed at the La Pointe Indian sub-Agency.
Wiindigoo is a legendary being among the Ojibwe and other Algonquin tribes.
Vincent Roy, Jr. was a famous figure of La Pointe.  Mr. Roy in this narrative is most likely his father (Vincent Roy, Sr.), or perhaps his grandfather (Vincent Roy the Eldest).

“Vincent Roy Sr. was born at Leech Lake Minn. in the year 1779 1797, and died at Superior, Wis. Feb. 18th 1872. He was a son of a Canadian Frenchman by the same name as his son bears. When V. Roy, Sr was about 17 or 18 years old, they emigrated to Fort Frances, Dominion of Canada, where he was engaged by the North-West Fur Co. as a trader until the two Companies (the North-West and the Hudson Bay Co joined together) he still worked for the consolidated Company for 12 or 15 years. When the American Traders came out at the Vermillion Lake country in Minnesota Three or four years afterwards he joined the American Traders. For several years he went to Mackinaw, buying goods and supplies for the Bois Fortes bands of Chippeways on Rainy and Vermillion Lake Country. About the year 1839 he came out to the Lake Superior Country and located his family at La Pointe. In winters he went out to Leech Lake Minn., trading for the American Fur Co. For several years until in the year of 1847 when the Hon. H. M. Rice, now of St. Paul, came to this country representing the Pierre Choteau Co. as a fur trading company. V. Roy, Sr. engaged to Pierre Choteau & Co. to trade with his former Indians at Vermillion Lake Country for two years, and then went for the American Fur Company again for one year. After a few years he engaged as a trader again for Peter E. Bradshaw & Co. and went to Red Lake, Minn. for several years. In 1861 he went to Nipigon (on Canadian side) trading for the same company. In a few years, he again went back to his old post at Vermillion Lake, Minn., where he contracted a very severe sickness, in two years afterwards he died at Superior among his Children as stated before &c.”
~ Minnesota Historical Society: Henry M. Rice and Family Papers, 1824-1966; Box 4; Sketches folder; Item “Roy, Vincent, 1797-1872”

Among the Chippewas we hear of man eaters, from the earliest travelers down to this day.  Mr. Bushnell, formerly Indian agent at La Pointe, described one whom he saw who belonged on the St. Louis River and Vermillion Lake.  The Indians have a superstitious dread of them, and will flee when one enters the lodge.  They are hated, but it is supposed they cannot be killed, and no one ventures to make the experiment.  it is only by a bullet such as the man eater himself shall designate that his body can be pierced.  He is frequently a lunatic, spending days and nights alone in the woods in mid winter without food, traveling long spaces to present himself unexpectedly among distant bands.  Whatever he chooses to eat is left for him, and right glad are the inmates of a lodge to get rid of him on such easy terms.  The practice is not acquired from choice, but from the terrible necessities of hunger which happen every winter among the northern Indians.  Like shipwrecked parties at sea, the weaker first falls a prey to the stronger, and their flesh goes to sustain life a little longer among the remainder.  The Chippewas think that after one has tasted human food he has an uncontrollable longing for it, and that it is not safe to leave children alone with them.  They say a man eater has red eyes and he looks upon the fat papoose with a demonical glance, and says: “How tender he would be.”  One miserable object on the St. Louis River eat off his own lips, and finally became such a source of consternation that one Indian more courageous than the rest buried a tomahawk in his head.  Another one who had the reputation of having killed all of his own family, came to the winter fishing ground on Rainy Lake, where Mr. Roy was trading with the Indians.  He stayed on the ice trying to take some fish, but without success.  Not one of the band dared go out to fish, although they were suffering from hunger.  Mr. Roy and all the Indians requested him to go away, but he would not unless he had something to eat.  no one but the trader could give him anything, and he was not inclined to do so.  Things remained thus during three days, no squaw daring to go on the ice to fish for fear of the man eater.  Mr. Roy urged them to kill him, but they said it would be of no use to shoot at him.  The man eater dared them to fire.  The trader at length lost patience with the cannibal and the terrified Bois Forts.  He took his gun and warned the fellow that he would be shot if he remained on the ice.  The faith of the savage appears to have been strong in the charm that surrounded his person, for he only replied by a laugh of derision.  On the other side Mr. Roy had great faith in his rifle, and discharging it at the body of the man, he fell dead, as might have been expected.  The Indians were at once relieved of a dreadful load, and sallied out to fish.  No one, however, dared to touch the corpse.

No one of either party can go into the country of the other, and not be discovered.  Their moccasins differ and their mode of walking.  Their canoes and paddles are not alike, and their camp-fires as well as their lodges differ.  The Chippewa lodge or wigwam is made by a  circular or oblong row of small poles set in the ground, bending the tops over and fastening them with bark.  They carry everywhere rolls of birch bark, which unroll like a carpet.  These are wound on the poles next the ground course, and overlapping this a second and third, so as to shed rain.  On one side is a low opening covered by a blanket, and at the top a circular place for the smoke to escape.  The fire is on the ground at the centre.  The work of putting up the lodge is done by the squaws, who gather wood for the fire, spread the mats, and proceed to cook their meals, provided there is anything to cook.

Stereograph of "Chippewa Indians and Wigwams" by Martin's Art Gallery, Yew York City, circa 1862-1875. ~ Commons.Wikimedia.org

Stereograph of “Chippewa Indians and Wigwams” by Martin’s Art Gallery, circa 1862-1875, shows that they used more than one type of wigwam.
~ Commons.Wikimedia.org

A Sioux lodge is the model of the Sibley tent, with a pole at the centre and others set around in a circle, leaning against the central one at the top, forming a cone.  This they cover with skins of the buffalo, deer, elk or moose, wound around like the Chippewa rolls of bark, leaving a space at the top for the smoke to escape, and an entrance at the side.  This is stronger and more compact than the Chippewa wigwam, and withstands the fiercest storms of the prairies.  In winter, earth is occasionally piled around the base, which makes it firmer and warmer.

We were coming down the Rum River, late in the fall of 1848, when one of our voyageurs discovered the track of a Sioux in the sand.  It was at least three weeks old, but nothing could induce him to stay with us, not even an hour.  He was not sure but a mortal enemy was then tracking us for the purpose of killing him.

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

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

Earlier in the season we were at Red Lake.  A cloud of smoke came up from the west, which caused a commotion in the village and mission at the south end of the lake.  A war party was then out on a Sioux raid.  The chief had lost a son, killed by them.  He had managed to get the hand of a Sioux, which he had planted at the head of his son’s grave.  But this did not satisfy his revenge nor appease the spirit of his son.  He organized a war party to get more scalps, which was then out.  A warrior chief or medicine man gains his principal control of the warriors by means of a prophecy, which he must make in detail.  If the first of his predictions should fail, the party may desert him entirely.  In this case, on a certain day they would meet a bear.  When they met the enemy, if they were to be victorious, a cloud of smoke would obscure the sun.  It was this darkening of the sky that excited the hopes of the Red Lake band.  They were sure there had been a battle and that the Sioux were defeated.

Judge Samuel Ashmun ~ Chippewa County Historical Society

Judge Samuel Ashmun
~ Chippewa County Historical Society

Wa-ne-jo cannot be identified without more biological information.

The late Judge Ashmun, of Sault Ste. Marie, while he was a minor, wandered off from his nativity in Vermont to Lake Superior, through it to Fond du Lac, and thence by way of the St. Louis River to Sandy Lake on the Mississippi.  Somewhere in that region he was put in charge of one of Astor’s trading posts.  In the early winter of 1818 he went on a hunt with a party of seventeen indiscreet young braves, against the advice of the sachems, apparently in a southwesterly direction on the Sioux border, or neutral land.  Far from being neutral, it was very bloody ground.  At the end of the third day they were about fifty miles from the post.  On the morning of each day a rendezvous was fixed upon for the next camp.  Each one then commenced the hunt for the day, taking what route pleased himself.  The ice on the lakes and marshes was strong and the snow not uncomfortably deep.  The principal game was deer, with some pheasants, prairie hens, rabbits and porcupines.  What a hunter could not carry he hung upon trees to be carried home upon their return.  Their last camp was on the border of a lake in thick woods, with tall dry grass on the margin of the lake.  Having killed all the deer they could carry, it was determined to begin the return march the next day.  It was not a war party, but they were prepared for their Sioux enemies, of whom no signs had been discerned.  There was no whiskey in the camp, but when the stomach of an Indian is filled to its enormous capacity with fresh venison he is always jolly.  It was too numerous a party to shelter themselves by a roof of boughs over the fire, but they had made a screen against the wind of branches of pine, hemlock or balsam.  Around the fire was a circle of boughs on which they sat, ate and slept.  Some were mending their moccasins, other smoking tobacco and kinnikinic, playing practical jokes, telling stories, singing songs and gambling.  Mr. Ashmun could get so little sleep that he took Wa-ne-jo, who had a boy of thirteen years, and they made a separate camp.  This man going to the lake to drink, was certain that he heard the tramp and felt the vibrations of a party going over the ice, who could be no other than the Sioux.  He returned, and after some hesitation Mr. Ashmun reported the news to the main camp.  “Oh, Wa-ne-jo is a liar, nobody believes him,” was the universal response.  Mr. Ashmun, however, gave credit to the repot.  They immediately put out the fire at his bivouac.  Even war parties do not place sentinels, because attacks are never made until break of day.  In the isolated camp they waited impatiently for the first glimpse of morning.  Most of the other party fell asleep with a feeling of security, for which they took no steps to verify.  One of them lay down without his moccasins.  Mr. Ashmun and his man were just ready to jump for the tall grass when a volley was poured into the other camp, accompanied by the usual savage yell.  The darkness and stillness of a faint morning twilight made this burst of war still more terrific.  Taking the boy between them, they commenced the race for life under the guidance of Wa-ne-jo, in a direction directly opposite to their home.  He well knew the Sioux all night long had been creeping stealthily over the snow and through the thicket, and had formed a line behind the main camp.  The Chippewas made a brave defence, giving back their howls of defiance and fighting as they dispersed through the woods.  Eight were killed near the camp and a wounded one at some distance, where he had secreted himself.  Two fo the wounded were helped away according to custom, and also the barefooted man, whose feet were soon frozen.  All clung to their guns, and the frightened boy to his hatchet.  They estimated the Sioux party to have been one hundred and thirty, of whom they killed four and wounded seven, but brought in no scalps.

Indians Canoeing in the Rapids painting by Cornelius Krieghoff, 1856. ~ Commons.Wikimedia.org

Indians Canoeing in the Rapids painting by Cornelius Krieghoff, 1856.
~ Commons.Wikimedia.org

In his way, the Chippewa is quite religious.  He believes in a future world where there is a happy place for good Indians.  If he is paddling his canoe against a head wind and can afford it, he throws overboard a piece of tobacco, the most precious thing he has.  With this offering there is a short invocation to the good manitou for a fair breeze, when he can raise a blanket for a sail, stop rowing and take a smoke.  At the head of many a rapid which it is dangerous to run, are seen pieces of tobacco on the rocks, which were laid there with a brief prayer that they may go safely through.  Some of them, which are frightful to white men, they pass habitually.  These offerings are never disturbed, for they are sacred.  He endeavors also to appease the evil spirit Nonibojan.  Fire, rocks, waterfalls, mountains and animals are alive with spirits good and bad.  The medicine man, who is prophet, physician, priest and warrior, is an object of reverence and admiration.  His prayers are for success in the hunt, accompanied by incantations.

In Part III, “Charlie” is identified as a brother of Stephen Bonga.  The only known brothers of Stephen were George Bonga and Jack Bonga.  “Charlie” may be an alias for either George or Jack.
For more information about the Bonga family, Chequamegon History recommends reading French Africans in Ojibwe Country: Negotiating Marriage, Identity and Race, 1780-1890 by Mattie Marie Harper, 2012.
George Bonga ~ Wikipedia.org

George Bonga
~ Wikipedia.org

Among the stories of a thousand camp-fires, was one by Charlie, a stalwart, half-breed Indian and negro, whose father was an escaped slave.  On the shores of Sandy Lake, a party of Chippewas had crossed on the ice in midwinter, and encamped in the woods not far from the north shore.  One of them went to the Lake with a kettle of water, and a hatchet to cut the ice.  After he filled his kettle, he lay down to drink.  The water was not entirely quiet, which attracted his attention at once.  His suspicions were aroused, and placing his ear to the ice, he discerned regular pulsations, which his wits, sharpened by close attention to every sight and every sound, interpreted to be the tramp of men.  They could be no other than Sioux, and there must be a party larger than their own.  Their fire was instantly put out, and they separated to meet at daylight at a place several miles distant.  All their conclusions were right.  One band of savages outwitted another, having instincts of danger that civilized men would have allowed to pass unnoticed.  The Sioux found only the embers of a deserted camp, and saw the tracks of their enemies diverge in so many directions that it was useless to pursue.

In 1839 the Chippewas on the upper Mississippi were required to come to Fort Snelling to receive their payments.  That post was in Sioux territory, and the order gave offense to both nations.  It required the presence of the United States troops to prevent murders even on the reservation.  On the way home at Sunrise River, the Chippewas were surprised by a large force of Sioux, and one hundred and thirty-six were killed.

At the mouth of Crow Wing River, on the east bank of the Mississippi, is a ridge of gravel, on which there were shallow pits.  The Indians said that, about fifteen years before, a war party of Sioux was above there on the river to attack the Sandy Lake band.  A party of Chippewas concealed themselves in these pits, awaiting the descent of their enemies.  The affair was so well managed that the surprise was complete.  When the uncautious Sioux floated along within close range of their guns, the Chippewa warriors rose and delivered their fire into the canoes.  Some got ashore and escaped through the woods to the westward, but a large portion were killed.

Detail of Crow Wing River from <a href="http://www.davidrumsey.com/maps1840.html" target="_blank"><em><strong>Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River from Astronomical and Barometrical Observations Surveys and Information</strong></em></a> by Joseph Nicolas Nicollet, 1843.<br /> ~ David Rumsey Map Collection

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

While crossing the Elk River, between the falls of St. Anthony and those of St. Cloud, a squaw ran into the water, screaming furiously, followed by a man with a club.  This was her lord and master, bent on giving her a taste of discipline very common in Indian life.  She succeeded in escaping this time by going into deep water.  Her nose had been disfigured by cutting away most of the fleshy portions, as a punishment for unfaithfulness to a husband, who was probably worse than herself.

At the mouth of Crow Wing River was an Indian skipping about with the skin of a skunk tied to one of his ankles.  There was also in a camp near the post another Chippewa, who had murdered a brother of the lively man.  There is no criminal law among them but that of retaliation.  Any member of the family may execute this law at such time and manner as he shall decide.  This badge of skunk’s skin was a notice to the murderer that the avenger was about, and that his mission was not fulfilled.  Once the guilty man had been shot through the thigh, as a foretaste of what was to follow.  The avenger seemed to enjoy badgering his enemy, whom he informed that although he might be occasionally wounded, it was not the intention at present to kill him outright.  If the victim should kill his persecutor, he well knew that some other relative would have executed full retaliation.

Bagon-giizhig the Elder died before the 1848 La Pointe Annuity Payments.
Bagone-giizhig (Bug-on-a-ke-it):
Hole In the Day the Elder
(1801-1847)
“Intelligent, brave, loquacious, and ambitious, Bagone-giizhig [the Elder] made a universally powerful impression on nearly everyone he met.  Although born without traditional claims to chieftainship, he attained more status and power than many traditional hereditary chiefs. The constant flux in Ojibwa-Dakota relations and the burgeoning military and economic power of the United States created rapid change in Ojibwa communities and he was able to use that climate and his undeniable charisma, oratorical power, and diplomacy savvy to build a powerful chieftainship for himself.”
The Assassination of Hole In The Day [the Younger] by Anton Treuer, 2010.
Bagon-giizhig (Po-go-noyke-schik):
Hole In The Day the Younger
aka Kue-wee-sas (Gwiiwizens [Boy or Lad])
(1825-1868)
Bagone-giizhig the Younger ~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Bagone-giizhig the Younger
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

This Chippewa brave, Bug-on-a-ke-dit, lived on a knoll overlooking the Mississippi River, four miles above Little Rock, where he had a garden.  He appeared at the payment at La Pointe, in 1848, with a breech cloth and scanty leggings.  This was partially for showing off a very perfect figure, tall, round and lithe, the Apollo of the woods.  His scanty dress enabled him to exhibit his trophies in war.  The dried ears of his foes, a part of whom were women, were suspended at his neck.  Around his tawny arms were bright brass bands, but there was nothing of which he was more proud than a bullet hole just below the right breast.  The place of the wound was painted black, and around it circles of red, yellow and purple; other marks on the chest, arms and face told of the numbers he had slain and scalped, in characters well understood by all Chippewas.  The numbers of eagle feathers in his hair informed the savage crowd how many battles he had fought.  He was not, like Grizzly Bear, a great orator, but resembled him in getting drunk at every opportunity.  He managed to procure a barrel of whiskey, which he carried to his lodge.  While it was being unloaded it fell upon and crushed him to death.  Looking up a grass clad hill, a dingy flag was seen (1848) fluttering on a pole where he was buried.  He often repeated with great zest the mode by which the owners of two of the desecrated ears were killed.  His party of four braves discovered some Sioux lodges on the St. Peters, from which all the men were absent.  The squaws lodged their hereditary enemies over night with their accustomed hospitality.  Bug-on-a-ke-dit and his party concealed themselves during the day, and at dark each one attacked a lodge.  Seven women and children were slaughtered.  His son Kue-wee-sas, or Po-go-noy-ke-schik, was a much more respectable and influential chief.

An hundred years since, the Sioux had an extensive burial ground, on the outlet of Sandy Lake, a few miles east of the Mississippi River.  Their dead were encased in bark coffins and placed on scaffolds supported by four cedar posts, five or six feet high.  This was done to prevent wolves from destroying the bodies.  Thirty years since some of these coffins were standing in a perfect condition, but most of them were broken or wholly fallen, only the posts standing well whitened by age.  The Chippewas wrap the corpse in a blanket and a roll of birch bark, and dig a shallow grave in which the dead are laid.  A warrior is entitled to have his bow and arrow, sometimes a gun and and a kettle, laid beside him with his trinkets.  Over the mound a roof of cedar bark is firmly set up, and the whole fenced with logs or protected in some way against wolves and other wild animals.  There is a hole at one or both ends of the bark shelter, in which is friends place various kinds of food.  Their belief in a spirit world hereafter is universal.  If it is a hunter or warrior, he will need his arms to kill game or to slay his enemies.  Their theory is that the dog may go to the spiritual country, as a spirit, also his weapons, and the food which is provided for the journey.  To him every thing has its spiritual as well as its material existence.  Over all is the great spirit or kitchi-manitou, looking after the happiness of his children here and hereafter.

Portrait of Stephen Bonga ().

Stephen Bonga
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Winter travelling in those northern regions is by no means so uncomfortable as white men imagine.  By means of snow shoes the Indian can move in a straight course towards his village, without regard to the trail.  In the short days of winter he starts at day break and travels util dark.  Stephen said he made fifty miles a day in that way, which is more than he could have done in summer.

At night they endeavor to find a thicket where there is a screen against the wind and plenty of wood.  They scoop away the snow with their shoes and start a fire at the bottom of the pit.  Around this they spread branches of pine, balsam or cedar, and over head make a shelter of brush to keep off the falling snow.  Probably they have a team or more of dogs harnessed to sledges, who take their places around the fire.  Here they cook and eat an enormous meal, when they wrap themselves in blankets for a profound sleep.  Long before day another heavy meal is eaten.  Everything is put in its proper package ready to start as soon as there is light enough to keep their course.

A Dictionary of the Otchipwe Language, Explained in English was published by Bishop Frederic Baraga in 1853.
Chequamegon History recommends two Ojibwemowin dictionaries online:
Freelang Ojibwe-English by Weshki-ayaad, Charles Lippert and Guy T. Gambill
Ojibwe People’s Dictionary by the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota

Many Indian words have originated since the white people came among them.  A large proportion of their proper names are very apt expressions of something connected with the person, lake, river, or mountain to which they are applied.  This people, in their primitive state, knew nothing of alcohol, coffee, tea, fire-arms, money, iron, and hundreds of other things to which they gave names, generally very appropriate ones.  A negro is black meat; coffee is black medicine drink; tea, red medicine drink; iron, black metal; gold, yellow metal.  I was taking the altitude of the sun at noon near Red Lake Mission with a crowd of Chippewas standing around greatly interested.  They had not seen the liquid metal mercury, used for an artificial horizon in such observations, which excited their especial astonishment, and they had no name for it.  One of them said something which caused a general expression of delight, for which I enquired the reason.  He had coined a word for mercury on the spot, which means silver water.

Detail of Minnesota Point during Stuntz's survey contract during August-October of 1852.

Detail of Minnesota Point during George Stuntz’s survey contract during August-October of 1852.
~ Barber Papers (prologue): Stuntz Surveys Superior City 1852-1854

This family's sugar bush was located at or near Silver Creek (T53N-R10W). ~ General Land Office Records

This family’s sugar bush was located at or near Silver Creek (T53N-R10W).
~ General Land Office Records

Indian Trail to Rockland townsite overlooking English/Mineral Lake and asdf.

Indian trail to Rockland townsite overlooking English/Mineral Lake and Gogebic Iron Range.
~ Penokee Survey Incidents: Number V

“Buckoda” means Bakade (hungry).

Coasting along the beach northward from the mouth of the St. Louis River, on Minnesota Point, I saw a remarkable mark in the sand and went ashore to examine it.  The heel and after part was clearly human.  At the toes there was a cleft like the letter V and on each side some had one, others two human toes.  Not far distant were Indians picking berries under the pine trees, which then covered the point in its entire length.  We asked the berrypickers what made those tracks.  They smiled and offered to sell us berries, of which they had several bushels, some in mokoks of birch bark, others in their greasy blankets.  An old man had taken off his shirt, tied the neck and arms, and filled it half full of huckleberries.  By purchasing some, (not from the shirt or blanket) we obtained an explanation of the nondescript tracks.  There was a large family, all girls, whose feet were deformed in that manner.  It was as though their feet had been split open when young halfway to the instep, and some of the toes lost.  They had that spring met with a great loss by the remorseless bear.  On the north shore, thirty miles east of Duluth, they had a fine sugar orchard, and had made an unusual quantity of sugar.  A part was brought away, and a part was stored high up in trees in mokoks.  There is nothing more tempting than sugar and whiskey to a bear.  When this hard working family returned for their sugar and dried apples, moistened with whiskey, to lure bruin on to his ruin.  A trap fixed with a heavy log is set up across a pen of logs, in the back end of which this bait is left, very firmly tied between two pieces of wood.  This is fastened to a wooden deadfall, supporting one end of a long piece of round timber that has another piece under it.  The bear smells the bait from afar, goes recklessly into the pen, and commences to gnaw the pieces of wood; before he gets much of the bait the upper log falls across his back, crushing him upon the lower one, where, if he is not killed, his hind legs are paralyzed.  These deadly pens are found everywhere in the western forests.  Two bears ranging along the south shore of English Lake, in Ashland County, Wisconsin, discovered some kegs of whiskey which contraband dealers had concealed there.  With blows from their heavy paws they broke in the heads of the kegs and licked up the contents.  They were soon in a very maudlin state, rolling about on the ground, embracing each other in an affectionate manner and vainly trying to go up the trees.  Before the debauch was ended they were easily captured by a party of half-breeds.  There are Indians who acknowledge the bear to be a relation, and profess a dislike to kill them.  When they do they apologize, and say they do it because they are “buckoda,” or because it is necessary.

Detail of the Porcupine Mountains between the Montreal River and Ontonagon River from Map of the Mineral Lands Upon Lake Superior Ceded to the United States by the Treaty of 1842 With the Chippeway Indians. ~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Detail of the Porcupine Mountains between the Montreal River and Ontonagon River from Map of the Mineral Lands Upon Lake Superior Ceded to the United States by the Treaty of 1842 With the Chippeway Indians.
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

At Ontonagon, a very sorry looking young Indian came out of a lodge on the west side of the river and expressed a desire to take passage in our boat.  There had been a great drunk in that lodge the day before.  The squaws were making soup of the heads of white fish thrown away by the white fishermen.  Some of the men were up, others oblivious to everything.  Our passenger did not become thoroughly sober until towards evening.  We passed the Lone Rock and encamped abreast of the Porcupine Mountains.  Here he recovered his appetite.  The next day, near the Montreal River, a squaw was seen launching her canoe and steering for us.  She accosted the young fellow, demanding a keg of whiskey.  He said nothing.  She had given him furs enough to purchase a couple of gallons and he had made the purchase, but between himself and his friends it had completely disappeared.  The old hag was also fond of whiskey.  The fraud and disappointment put her into a rage that was absolutely fiendish.  Her haggard face, long, coarse, greasy, black hair, voluble tongue and shrill voice perfected that character.

Turning into the mouth of the river we found a party from Lake Flambeau fishing in the pool at the foot of the Great Fall.  Their success had not been good, and of course they were hungry.  One of our men spilled some flour on the sand, of which he could save but little.  The Flambeaus were delighted, and, gathering up sand and flour together, put the mixture in their kettle.  The sand settled at the bottom, and the flour formed an excellent porridge for hungry aboriginees.

Mushinnewa and Waubannika cannot be identified without additional biographical information.
Mushinnewa” is “Maazhiniwe” which means “Bad to Other Peoples”, implying that he treated himself well while treating other life-forms (such as animals) poorly.
Mizhinawe means “messenger” and is pronounced Me-zhin-ah-way. Mizhinawe’s descendants became the Messenger family in Odanah and they are a highly respected family. Mizhinawe is listed as a signatory on the 1854 Treaty with the Chippewa at La Pointe as a second chief of the La Pointe Band, and his son George Messenger traveled several times to Washington DC to negotiate for the Bad River Band.  The actions of the character “Mushinnewa” described here do not fit with being a highly respected leader.
Transcribed note, dated La Pointe Indian Agency, certifying the good character and disposition of Min-zhe-nah-way, 2nd chief of the Bad River Band of Chippewas, signed by John S. Livermore, Indian Sub-Agent; and a photograph of the original document.
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Mushinnewa and Waubannika, Chippewas, lived at Bad River, near Odana.  Mushinnewa had a very bad reputation among his tribe.  He was not only quarrelsome when drunk, but was not peaceable when sober.  He broke Waubannika’s canoe into fragments, which was resented by the wife of the latter on the spot.  She made use of the awl with which she was sewing the bark on another canoe, as a weapon, and stabbed old Mushinnewa in several places so severely that it was thought he would die.  He threatened to kill her, and she fled with her husband to Lake Flambeau.  But Mushinnewa did not die.  He had a son as little liked by the Odana band as himself.  In a drunken affray at Ontonagon another Indian killed him.  The murderer then took the body in his canoe, brought it to Bad River and delivered it to old Mushinnewa.  According to custom the Indian handed the enraged father the knife with which his son was killed, and baring his breast told him to strike.  The villagers were happy to be rid of the young villain, and took the knife from the hand of his legal avenger.  A barrel of flour covered the body, and before night Mushinnewa adopted the Indian as his son.

Two varieties of willow, the red and the yellow, grow on the low land, at the margin of swamps and streams, which have the name of kinnekinic.  During the day’s journey, a few sticks are cut and carried to the camp.  The outer bark is scraped away from the inner bark, which curls in a fringe around the stick, which is forced in the ground before a hot fire, and occasionally turned.  In the morning it is easily crumpled in the hands, and put into the tobacco pouch.  If they are rich enough to mix a little tobacco with the kinnekinic, it is a much greater luxury.  As they spend a large part of their leisure time in smoking, they are compelled to be content with common willow bark, which is a very weak narcotic.  Tobacco is not grown as far north as the country of the Chippewas, but it is probable they had it through traffic with the tribes of Virginia, North Carolina and the Gulf States, in times very remote.  Pipes are found in the works of the mounds builders that are very ancient, showing that they had something to smoke, which must have been a vegetable.

Detail of Fish Creek Slough (T47N R5W).

Detail of where the “Lake Long” [Lake Owen] and St. Croix foot paths start along Fish Creek.
~ Barber Papers: “Barbers Camp” Fall of 1855

HARRY S. BEESLEY, surveyor, civil engineer and explorer, a pioneer of Lake Superior of 1846. was born in Oxford, England, May 2, 1823. He was educated in England, and went to sea when about the age of sixteen years, at first in the coasting trade, then in the packets from Liverpool to New York. After leaving the sea, he located in Ohio, and remained there until the fall of 1845, and passed the following winter in Chicago. In May of 1846, he came to Lake Superior as a mineral explorer; in July of that year, he located a nine mile permit on the Ontonagon River joining the Norwich. In 1849, he assisted Col. C. C. Whittlesey, in his geological surveys on the south shore of Lake Superior. He has held the office of County Surveyor a number of years, and laid out the principal roads and several of the villages in this section of the country.”
History of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, by Western Historical Co., 1883, page 276
Whittlesey and Beesley had two voyaguer guides from La Pointe named Antoine Connoyer and Paul Soulies.

Staggering around in a drunken crowd at La Pointe was a handsome Chippewa buck, as happy as whiskey can make any one.  The tomahawk pipe is not an instrument of war, though it has that form.  Its external aspect is that of a real tomahawk, intended to let out the brains of the foe.  It is made of cast iron, with a round hollow poll, about the size of a pipe.  The helm or handle is the stem, frequently decorated in the height of savage art, with ribbons, porcupine quills, paint and feathers.  One thoroughly adorned in this manner has aperatures through the handle cross wise, so large and numerous that it is a mechanical wonder how the smoke can be drawn through it to the mouthpiece.  No Indian is without a pipe of some kind, very likely one that is an heirloom from his ancestors.  It is only in a passion that his knife or tomahawk pipe becomes dangerous.  This genial buck had been struck with the poll of such a pipe when all hands were fighting drunk.  It had cut a clear round hole in his head, hear the top, sinking a piece of skull with the skin and hair well into his brains.  A surgeon with his instrument could not have made a more perfect incision.  Inflammation had not set in and he was too busy with his boon companions to think of the wound.  It was about twenty-four hours after it occurred when he stepped into his canoe and departed.  When Mr. Beasley went up the Fish River, a few days afterwards a funeral was going on at the intersection of the Lake Long and the St. Croix trails, and the corpse had a cut in the head made by the pole of a tomahawk.  From this event, no doubt, a family quarrel commenced that may continue till the race is extinct.  The injured spirit of the fallen Indian demands revenge.  In the exercise of retaliation it may be carried by his relations a little beyond retaliating justice, which will call on the other side for a victim, and so on to other generations.

Chequamegon History recommends the book The Shaman: Patterns of Religious Healing Among the Ojibway Indians by John A. Grim, 1987.

In a lodge between the agency and the mission there was a young girl very sick.  Probably it is my duty to say that she was not only young but beautiful, but at this time she was only wretched.  Whether in her best health and estate the term beauty could be applied I very much doubt, as such cases are extremely rare among Indians, compared by our standard.  A “grand medicine” had been got up expressly for the purpose of curing her.  The medicine lodge was about thirty feet in length, made of green boughs.  The feast, without which no evil spirit would budge one inch, had been swallowed, and the dance was at its height, in which some women were mingled with the men.  Their shrieks, yelling and gesticulations should have frightened away all the matchi-manitous at La Pointe.  The mother of the girl seemed to be full of joy, the bad spirit which afflicted her child was so near being expelled.  As they made the circuit of the dance they thrust a large knife into the air towards the northwest, by which they gave the departing demon a stab as he made his escape from the lodge.  This powow raged around the poor girl all the afternoon and till midnight, when the medicine man pronounced her safe.  Before sundown the next day we saw them law her in a shallow grave, covered with cedar bark.

Father Nicolas Perrot ~ Wikipedia.org

Father Nicolas Perrot
~ Wikipedia.org

Father Perret, who was among the Natches as far back as 1730, gives a portrait of a medicine man of that tribe at that time.  It answers so well for those I have seen among the Chippewas that I give his description at length.  For the Chippewa juggler I must except, however, the practice of abstinence and also the danger of losing his head.  A feast is the first thing and the most essential.

“This nation, like all others, has its medicine man.  They are generally old men, who, without study or science, undertake to cure all complaints.  All their art consists in different jugglings, that is to say, they sing and dance night and day about the sick man, and smoke without ceasing, swallowing the smoke of the tobacco.  These jugglers eat scarcely anything while engaged with the sick, but their chants and dances are accompanied by contortions so violent that, although they are entirely naked and should suffer from cold, they are always foaming at the mouth.  They have a little basket in which they keep what they call their spirits, that is to say, roots of different kinds, heads of owls, parcels of the hair of deer, teeth of animals, pebbles and other trifles.  To restore health to the sick they invoke without ceasing something they have in their basket.  Sometimes they cut with a flint the part afflicted, suck out the blood, and in returning it immediately to the disk they spit out a piece of wood, straw or leather, which they have concealed under their tongue.  Drawing the attention of the sick man, ‘there,’ they say, ‘is the cause of his sickness.’  These medicine men are always paid in advance.  If the sick man recovers their gain is considerable, but if he dies they are sure to have their heads cut off by his relations.”

"Osawgee Beach" postcard, circa 1920. ~ Zenith City Online

Osawgee Beach.  Superior, Wis.” postcard, circa 1920:
“Ojibwe chief Joseph Osawgee was born in Michigan in 1802 and came to Wisconsin Point as a young boy. There he established Superior’s first shipyard—a canoe-making outfit along the Nemadji River near Wisconsin Point. His birch bark canoes supplied transportation for both Ojibwe trappers and French Voyageurs. Chief Osawgee signed the 1854 Treaty of La Pointe on behalf of the Fond du Lac Ojibwe—and subsequently lost his land. He died in Solon Springs, Wisconsin, in 1876.”
~ Zenith City Online

Ozaagii ~ Geni.com

Joseph Ozaagii
~ Geni.com

“Chief Joseph Osaugie was born in April of 1802 at Lac Vieux Desert, Michigan. He moved to Wisconsin Point as a young man and was made a Chief by President Franklin Pierce.”
~ Indian Country Today Media Network
There is a native oral history about Ozaagii available in the WPA Project in Reel 1; Envelope 3: Item 10:
“Chief O-sau-gie Built First ‘Ships’ in City of Superior (He Was Head of Small Chippewa Band when Superior was Tiny Spot)”
John S. Livermore was stationed at the La Pointe Indian sub-Agency, and wrote a letter defending Mizhinawe’s honor.

As a rare example of the industry and probity among northern Indians, I take pleasure in recording the name of Osagi.  His hunting ground and sugar camp lay to the west of La Pointe, on Cranberry River, where he had a cabin.  In traversing that region I had as a guide a rude map and sketch of the streams made by him on a sheet of post office paper with a red pencil.  Osagi was never idle and never drunk.  Dr. Livermore was at this time the agent for the tribes at the west end of Lake Superior, and related the following instance of attention and generosity which is worthy of being reported.  Osagi frequently made the agency presents, and Dr. Livermore, of course, did the same to his Otchipwee friends.  Late in the fall, as the fishing season was about to close, he sent a barrel of delicious trout and white fish to the agency, which, by being hung up separately, would in this cool climate remain good all winter.  The interpreter left a message from the donor with the fish, that he did not want any present in return, because in such a case there would be on his part no gifts, and he wished to make a gift.  Dr. Livermore assented, but replied that if Osagi should ever be in need the agent expected to be informed of it.  During the next winter a message came to Dr. Livermore stating that his friend wanted nothing, but that a young man, his cousin, was just in from Vermillion Lake, where he lived.  The young man’s father and family could no longer take fish at Vermillion, and had started for Fonddulac.  The old man was soon attacked by rheumatism, and for many days the whole party had been without provisions.  Would the agent make his uncle a present of some flour?  Of course this was done, and the young messenger started with a horse load of eatables for the solitary lodge of his father, on the St. Louis River, two hundred miles distant.  This exemplary Indian, by saving his annuities, and by his economy, had accumulated money enough to buy a piece of land, and placed it in the hands of the agent.  when the surveyors had subdivided the township opposite La Pointe, on the mainland, he bought a fraction and removed his family to it as a permanent home.  In a few months the small pox swept off every member of that family but the mother.

[CHARLES WHITTLESEY.]

 


 

To be continued in Among The Otchipwees: III

By Amorin Mello

A curious series of correspondences from Morgan

… continued from La Pointe.

 


 

1845 daily union header

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

EDITOR’S CORRESPONDENCE.

(From our regular correspondent.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Detail of the Bois Brulé River (aka “Wissakude [Wisakoda] or Burnt Wood”) and the portage over the Great Divide (a continential divide between the Lake Superior Basin and Missisippi River Basin) to the Saint Croix River from Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River from Astronomical and Barometrical Observations Surveys and Information by Joseph Nicolas Nicollet, 1843.
~ David Rumsey Map Collection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reverend Edmund Franklin Ely. ~ Duluth Public Library

Reverend Edmund Franklin Ely.
~ Duluth Public Library

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am, very respectfully and sincerely, yours,

MORGAN.

 


 

To be continued in Copper Harbor Redux

By Amorin Mello

detroit flag

Original sketch of Detroit’s flag, by David Emil Heineman, 1907.
~ Detroit Historical Society

This is a reproduction of biographical sketches from “Jewish Beginnings in Michigan Before 1850,” by Hon. David Emil Heineman.  It was transcribed  from Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society: Number 13, 1905, pages 57-63.  The author’s father, E. S. Heineman, and Kanter were business partners.  For more information about Kanter while working for the Leopolds and Austrians families, see the Edward Kanter Papers, 1847-1848.


1905 publications of the American Jewish Historical Society Number 13

——-

Jewish Beginnings in Michigan Before 1850

——-

 

Beginnings Of The Immigration Preceding The Year 1850.

An account of the Jews who came to Michigan in the years immediately succeeding 1850 would be of secondary interest to a society such as this. Such an account would be more proper for a local than a national society; it would deal with the extensive immigration, principally German, of that period, and be made up of long lists of names, birthplaces, and dates of arrival. It would be a recital common at a somewhat earlier date to most of the then Western States telling of the humble beginnings of prosperous merchants, successful professional men, and communal leaders, in largest measure, valuable and valued citizens. The beginnings of congregations would be accurately set down and the memory of man would still suffice to amend the errors due to a neglect of local history. Inasmuch as there has hitherto been a woeful neglect of proper investigation, the writer does not hesitate to enlarge upon the commencement of this immigration and upon a few pioneers therein, all prior to 1850.

The Leopold And Austrian Families.

1843_drawing_of_Mission_Point_beach_at_Mackinac_Island,_Michigan

1843 Drawing of Mission Point Beach at Mackinac Island, Michigan ~ Wikimedia.org

We again recur to Mackinac, and in 1845 find at this point members of the Leopold and Austrian families1 which afterwards became prominent as owners of Lake Michigan vessels and merchants in the ports of the Great Lakes. Lewis F. Leopold, his wife, who was a Miss Babette Austrian,and their son of less than a year old, together with his sister Hannah and his brother Samuel, were located at the island in the year mentioned. Samuel F. Leopold soon after his arrival at Mackinac purchased a one-mast sloop, the “Agate,” with which he gathered up the product of the different fishing points, becoming the first pioneer at this locality in the fishery business, which since that time has grown to such a great industry. The brothers sent down to Cleveland a thousand barrels of salted fish each season, no insignificant industry for those days. This venture, together with the sale of supplies to fishermen, Indian trading, and the purchase of furs, laid the foundations for an extensive business. Samuel F. Leopold left Mackinac in 1853, joining his brothers, Henry and Aaron, and Julius Austrian, who had married Miss Hannah Leopold in 1849, in their recently undertaken business ventures at La Pointe and Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, where they were among the first white settlers.

1852 austrian sawmill

Detail of the “Austrian’s Saw Mill” (formerly the American Fur Company’s sawmill) on Pike’s Creek in the Town of Bayfield, La Pointe County, circa 1852. ~ Wisconsin Public Land Survey Records

Plate_Jos_Austrian_up_a_tree

Stories about the Austrians’ sawmill and home in Bayfield are shared in Joseph Austrian’s Memoir, and in Benjamin Armstrong’s Memoir.

The town of Bayfield, Wisconsin, was platted shortly thereafter, Marks and Julius Austrian being the preemptors, and Mrs. Julius Austrian the first white woman resident at that place. The history of these enterprising and prominent families, it will thus be seen, falls properly to Wisconsin, but in addition to what has been mentioned, it should be stated that within a few years after 1850 they had established leading stores in Michigan, at Eagle River, Eagle Harbor, the Cliff Mine, Calumet, and at Hancock, Mr. Joseph Austrian having selected at the latter place the site for its first store and warehouse. The Leopolds came from Baden where their name was Freudenthaler; the Austrians, whose name originally was Oesterreicher, came from Wittelshofen, Bavaria. As is obvious, the name in each instance was changed purely for convenience.

Sketch Of Edward Kanter.2

There was a young man at Mackinac who in 1846 worked for the parties just mentioned and whose name was Edward Kanter. He had come to Detroit in the fall of 1844 and remained a citizen of Michigan until his death, 52 years later. Always a modest man, he never, in spite of his prominence as a citizen, permitted the publication of his biography and the interesting facts of his career certainly deserve such preservation as the records of this Society afford. They are here set forth for the first time.

Edward Kanter findagrave

Edward Kanter “Photo published in Katz, Irving I. The Jewish Soldier from Michigan in the Civil War. Detroit, Mich.: Wayne State University Press, 1962. Page 8. Kanter served as vice-president of a Detroit soldier recruitment organization and was the first Jewish member of the Michigan Legislature. Added by: Hebrew Heritage Foundation”
~ Findagrave.com

Die_Gartenlaube_(1873)_b_132

Edward Kanter was related to German Parliamentarian Eduard Lasker (originally Jizchak Lasker).
~ Wikipedia.org

Edward Kanter was born in Breslau in 1824. His father was Louis Kanter, a prosperous linen merchant and a member of the Linen Merchants’ Guild. His mother was Helena Lasker, a near kinswoman of Edward Lasker, the German Parliamentarian, of whose birthplace she was also a native. Young Kanter graduated from the Breslau Gymnasium, equipped among other things with a knowledge of Greek, Latin, German, English, French, and Hebrew. In later years he was often heard to remark that it was his education above all things which helped him out in emergencies. A wild spirit of adventure seized him early in life with the result that he ran away from home and made his way to Paris where his knowledge of the language obtained him employment in a lawyer’s office. Six months later saw him at Havre where, as he was strolling about the wharves, a sudden impulse prompted him to go aboard a vessel bound for New Orleans. He hid behind a coil of rope until well out at sea when he was discovered and at once given a further taste of the rope accompanied by an assortment of curses in several languages. As he was able to turn away wrath with soft answers in all of the respective tongues, it instantly dawned upon the mate at the other end of the rope that he had found a much-needed interpreter for the immigrants of various nations with whom the ship was crowded. The rest of the trip was pleasant sailing for the young stowaway.

The Occident and American Jewish Advocate, Vol. IX. No. 8: Elul 5611, September 1851
——-
“Isaac Hart, Esq., of New Orleans.—We lately intimated that Mr. Hart would be presented with a token of regard from the congregation over which he had been president for several years. The presentation took place on Sunday, the 21st of September, and the following extract from the New Orleans Bee will give our readers all the particulars which have reached us:

Presentation of a Silver Pitcher.— On Sunday last, we were witness of a highly-interesting ceremony. Everybody knows Mr. Isaac Hart, of Canip Street, and most persons are aware that he is an active, zealous, and intelligent member of the German Hebrew Congregation of this city. To his unwearied exertions, his liberality, and his unflagging energy, that Congregation is indebted, in a great degree, for its present prosperity, and for the possession of a spacious and beautiful Temple for the worship of the GOD of Israel. Mr. HART retained the honorable post of President of the Congregation, devoting himself to its welfare, until its leading objects were secured. He then resigned his office, leaving to his successors a noble example of the successful fruits of diligence, religious faith, and indefatigable perseverance.

The members of the congregation, desirous of testifying their grateful appreciation of the efforts of their ex-president, subscribed toward the construction of a massive silver pitcher of exquisite workmanship, having on one side an appropriate inscription, and on the other a beautiful representation of the German Synagogue, and enriched all over with tasteful devices. On Sunday, the officers of the Congregation assembled at Mr. Hart’s residence, and Mr. George G. Levi, on behalf of that body, tendered the pitcher to that gentleman, accompanying the gift with some feeling and eloquent remarks, in which he set forth the valuable services of Mr. Hart, and the high sense of his merits entertained by the association of which he had been selected the interpreter. The donee, in accepting the splendid token, responded warmly and sincerely. He sketched the history and progress of the Congregation, from the days when, obscure and almost nameless, it first struggled into existence, up to the present time, when its members assemble weekly in a noble edifice, consecrated to the Almighty, to solemnize their Sabbath and offer up devotion and prayer to the Most High. He claimed little merit for himself, but said, that like a general in battle, he only led his soldiers, while they had won the victory by their courage and resolution. At the conclusion of the ceremony, the gentlemen and ladies present were conducted by Mr. Hart into another room, where they were entertained with cordial and profuse hospitality.”

On arriving at New Orleans, he found himself with but a single shilling which he gave to be changed to one of the sailors on the ship. The sailor did not return and so the lad landed on the soil of America with literally not a single penny in his pocket. Hardly ashore, he was laid low with yellow fever. He was taken care of by a relief committee of Jewish citizens of New Orleans, among them Mr. Isaac Hart, afterwards a resident of Detroit, a gentleman most kindly remembered by Detroiters. Upon his recovery, the same committee set him to peddling cigars until a congenial place was found for him in a drug store. The place was too congenial; he was much given to chemical experiments, reminiscences perhaps of the Breslau Gymnasium. Presently one of the experiments resulted in a bad explosion of the drug store, from the wreck of which the young scientist rushed terrified to the levee. He went aboard the first boat which happened to need a waiter. Because of his excellent penmanship he was soon promoted to the position of clerk and as such he continued to sail up and down the Red River until one day the boat happened to blow up opposite Helena. He swam ashore, worked his way to St. Louis, took a steamer to Pekin, Illinois, and walked thence to Chicago, where he shipped on the steamer Wisconsin until the close of navigation, 1844. He was now only twenty years of age, but had certainly obtained a few lessons in the larger university of life.

Jewish Virtual Library: Detroit
——-
“German Jews arrived in Detroit in significant numbers in the 1840s. Charles E. Bresler, a settler of the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti area in the 1830s, moved to Detroit in 1844. He dealt in horses, furs, and wool, and made a fortune importing steel pens. He was one of the incorporators of Detroit’s first Jewish congregation, Temple Beth El. Edward Kanter arrived in Detroit that same year, moving to Mackinac the following year where he was employed by the American Fur Company. Later he worked for the Leopold Brothers, pioneers on the island of Mackinac in the fishery business, and fur traders. Kanter returned to Detroit in 1852 and became Detroit’s first Jewish banker and the first Michigan Jew to serve in the state legislature. Kanter Street is named after him.”

He spent the winter of 1844 in Detroit. The English he had learned at Breslau had always given him trouble, or more properly speaking, had always given trouble to those to whom he spoke, and so he profited by his stay in Detroit to take some lessons from Chas. E. Bresler, a Jewish resident of Michigan, originally from the same part of Europe as Kanter. The ensuing spring saw him again on the lakes, this time as clerk of the steamer Illinois. He left this position, however, taking employment the same year at Mackinac as clerk and interpreter for the American Fur Company, the successor to John Jacob Aster’s venture. Here again his French and English stood him in good stead. His remarkable faculty for languages revealed itself in the rapidity with which he picked up the Indian tongues. In a short time he had mastered the Huron, Chippewa, and Pottawatomie languages and even in later life could on occasion unconcernedly carry on a fluent conversation in any of them. He visited at this time Duluth and the Apostle Islands and was a passenger on the first trip of the “Julia Palmer,” the second boat to be carried on rollers around the Falls at Sault Ste. Marie.

In 1846, as has been stated, he worked for the Leopolds and Austrians. The following year he had been placed in charge of a stock of goods at the island by some eastern parties who suddenly decamped without notice to their creditors. When the latter arrived, they were so impressed by the honesty and zeal wherewith young Kanter had guarded their interests that they voluntarily turned the entire stock and store over to him on easy terms of payment, and so in July, 1847, he opened his books with a cash capital of $200. On these prospects he married a month later the daughter of former State Senator Lyman Granger of the neighboring Bois Blanc Island. He remained at Mackinac until 1852. In that year the late Mr. E. S. Heineman,3 father of the writer, recently arrived at Detroit, was sent to Mackinac to be present at the Indian payment. Mr. Kanter and he immediately became warm friends. The Indians had given Mr. Kanter, because of his bustling activity, the name of “Bosh-bish-gay-bish-gon-sen,” meaning “Fire Cracker,” and Mr. Heineman being somewhat shorter in stature than Mr. Kanter, but of equal activity, was immediately dubbed “Little Firecracker.”

davvsadf

Edward Kanter’s father-in-law was Senator Lyman Granger.
~ Findagrave.com

The red men always had a great liking for Mr. Kanter; they never missed an opportunity to call on him in Detroit or to send greetings to him. The merchants of Detroit in the early 60’s were at a loss one day to account for a circle of Indians gravely squatted in front of Mr. Kanter’s store on the chief business street, Mr. Kanter making one of the circle, the whole company smoking and maintaining a dense silence, until they were informed that a delegation of chiefs on their way to see the Great Father at Washington would not pass through Detroit without smoking a pipe of peace with “Firecracker.”

Julius Austrian; Hannah Leopold Austrian (Wife); Amelia Austrian (Mother); Marx Austrian (Brother); Solomon Austrian (Brother); Mina Austrian (Sister); Henry Goodman (Cousin) ~ New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1891," index and images, FamilySearch.com

Julius Austrian also went to Germany during 1853 to liquidate his recently deceased father’s estate, and to bring the rest of his family back to settle upon the Great Lakes.  Did Edward Kanter travel with the Austrian family?

german-american bank possibly detroit

German-American Bank, possibly Detroit, circa 1900-1920.
~ Library of Congress

In 1853 Mr. Kanter visited his parents in Europe. On his return he continued his successful business career. He became the founder of the German-American Bank, of which one of his sons continues at present to be a principal officer. He entered actively into political life at about this time. He was elected to the legislature of 1857, and though not a member of the prevailing party, presented and so persistently drove home a minority report on certain wrongdoings in the State treasury that the matter ended with the guilty party’s being sent to prison. He was twice made a candidate for the office of State Treasurer, but being a Democrat, the nomination was against hopeless odds. Mr. Kanter was long and conspicuously connected with the Democratic party organization. In the sixties he was Secretary of the Democratic State Central Committee; he was a delegate to the National Convention that nominated Tilden, for eight years was the member from Michigan of the Democratic National Committee. He was Commissioner from Michigan to the New Orleans Exposition, a member of the Board of the House of Correction of Detroit, and in general a constant and valuable participator in public affairs. He was Vice-President and Treasurer of Congregation Beth El in Detroit in 1855 and an unfailing contributor towards its needs. He died in June, 1896. Respected by all who knew him, he left a name synonymous with strict integrity.

"German American Bank, Detroit.  Organized February 3, 1883." ~ Annual Report of the Commissioner of the Banking Dept By Michigan. Banking Dept, 1891, page 56.

“German American Bank, Detroit. Organized February 3, 1883.”
~ Annual Report of the Commissioner of the Banking Dept
By Michigan. Banking Dept, 1891, page 56.

1 Data obtained through the kindness of our fellow-member, Rev. Dr. Jos. Stolz, from Mrs. Julius Austrian (Hannah Leopold), and other members of the Austrian family.

2 Data supplied mainly by Hon. Henry L. Kanter of Detroit, son of Edward Kanter.

3 Farmer’s History of Detroit, Vol. II, p. 1155. The friendship of these two young men, thus meeting on this distant and savage island, was a most natural one. Both had been born in the same year, both had received a superior education in Europe, and both had left homes of comfort and luxury, having been equally unfitted by temperament to endure the political and other conditions then prevailing abroad. Their friendship endured until 1896, being terminated by death, Mr. Kanter surviving his friend only a few days.

Who doesn’t love a good mystery?

In my continuing goal to actually add original archival research to this site, rather than always mooching off the labors of others, I present to you another document from the Wheeler Family Papers.   Last week, I popped over to the Wisconsin Historical Society collections at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center in Ashland, and brought back some great stuff.  Unlike the somber Sandy Lake  letters I published July 11th, this first new document is a mysterious (and often hilarious) journal from 1843 and 1844.

It was in the Wheeler papers, but it was neither written by nor for one of the Wheelers.  There is no name on it to indicate an author, and despite a year of entries, very little to indicate his occupation (unless he was a weatherman).  He starts in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, bound for Fond du Lac, Minnesota–though neither was a state yet.  Our guy reaches Lake Superior at a time of great change.  The Ojibwe have just ceded the land in the Treaty of 1842, commercial traffic is beginning to start on Lake Superior, and the old fur-trade economy is dying out.

Our guy doesn’t seem to be a native of this area.  He’s not married.  He doesn’t seem to be strongly connected to the fur trade.  If he works for the government, he isn’t very powerful.  He is definitely not a missionary.  He doesn’t seem to be a land speculator or anything like that. 

Who is he, and why did he come here?  I have some hunches, but nothing solid.  Read it and let me know what you think.

1843

Aug. 24th 1843.  left Taycheedah for Milwaukie on my route to Lake Superior, drove to Cases[?] in Fond du Lac

His ultimate destination is Fond du Lac of Lake Superior (today’s Fond du Lac, MN), but here he’s referring to Fond du Lac of Lake Winnebago (FdL, WI).

25th                   Drove to Cases on Milwaukie road, commenced rowing before we arrived, and we put up for the night.

26th                   Started in the rain, drove to Vinydans[?], rain all the time. wet my carpet bag and clothes—we put out 12 O’clock m. took clothes out of my traveling bag and dried them.

27th sunday         Left early in the morning.  arrived at Milwaukie at 12 O clock M.  stayed at the Fountain house, had good fun.

28th                   Purchased provisions and other articles of outfit and embarked aboard the Steamboat Chesapeake for Mackinac 9 O’clock P. M. had a pleasant time.

30th                   Arrived at Mackinac 6 O’clock A.M. put up at Mr. Wescott’s had excellent fare and good company, charges reasonable.  four Thousand Indian men encamped on the Island for Payment—very warm weather—Slept with windows raised, and uncomfortably warm.  There are a few white families, but the mass of the people are a motley crowd “from snowy white to sooty[?],” I visited the curiosities, the old fort Holmes, the sugar loaf rock the arched rock—heard some good stories well told by Mr. Wescott and a gentleman from Philadelphia.

Sept 4th              Left Mackinac on board the Steamer Gen. Scott 8 O’clock A. M.  arrived at Sault St, Marie same night 6 O’clock—very pleasant weather.  gardens look well.  Put up at Johnsons.  had good fare fish eggs fowls and garden vegetables.

Johnsons is likely Johnston’s, the dominant fur-trading family of the Soo.

7th                     Embarked on board the Brig John Jacob Astor for La Pointe.  Sailed fifty miles.  at midnight the wind shifted suddenly into the N.W. and blew a hurricane and we were obliged to run back into the St. Marie’s river, and lay there at Pine Point until Sunday.

10th                   when we best[?] out of the river, and proceeding on

1843

Sept 11th            Monday  heading against hard wind all day—

Mr. Wheeler: Rev. Leonard H. Wheeler
makak: a semi-rigid or rigid container: a basket (especially one of birch bark), a box (Photo: Smithsonian Institution; Definition: Ojibwe People’s Dictionary).

12th                   Warm cloudless brilliant morning, a perfect calm—10 O’clock fair wind, and with every sail our vessel plows the deep, with majesty.

13th                   cloudy—fair wind, we arrive at La Pointe 9 O’clock P.M. when a cannon fired from on board the vessel announced our arrival.

Mr. Wheeler of the Presbyterian Mission was very kind in receiving me to room with him, and I am indebted to him and family for many acts of kindness during my stay at La Pointe, and I fell under [?] for about 15 lbs boiled beef and a small Mokuk of sugar, which they insisted on my taking on my departure for Fond du Lac, and which men[?] very p[?]able while wind on my way upon the shore of Lake Superior.

27th                   Left La Pointe about 4 O clock P. M. in small boat in company with the farmer & Blacksmith stationed at Fond du Lac.  we rowed to Raspberry river and encamped.

Farmer & Blacksmith:  Under the terms of the 1842 Treaty of La Pointe along with annual payments of money and goods, and money to establish schools, the government paid the Ojibwe “two thousand (2,000) dollars for the support of two blacksmiths shops, (including pay of smiths and assistants, and iron steel &c.) one thousand (1,000) dollars for pay of two farmers, twelve hundred (1,200) for pay of two carpenters…”  My working hypothesis is that this journal was written by the government carpenter, but I’ve yet to figure out his name.
Raspberry River:  Flows into Raspberry Bay north of Red Cliff.  Siskiwit Bay:  near modern day Cornucopia, Wisconsin.  Bark Point:   just east of Herbster.  Pukwaekah (Gaa-apakwaanikaa) River is the Flagg River (Port Wing, WI).  For another post on these locations, check out Kah-puk-wi-e-kah: Cornucopia, Herbster, or Port Wing? from March 30th.

28th                   Head wind—rowed to Siscowet Bay and encamped.

29th                   Rain and fair wind, we embarked about 8 O clock in the rain—in doubling Bark Point we got an Ocean more, but our little boat rides it nobly.  the wind and rain increase, and we run into Pukwaekah river, the wind blowing directly on shore and the waves dashing to an enormous height, it was by miracle, our men chose,  that struck the mouth of that small river, and entered in safety, After we had pitched our tent, we saw eight canoes with sails making directly for the river.  they could not strike the entrance at the mouth of the river, and were driven on shore upon the beach and filled. We assisted in hauling our some of the first that came, and they assisted the rest.

1843

Sept 30th            High wind and rain.  We remained at this place until wednesday.

Oct 4th               At 1 O clock A. M. the wind having abated we again embarked and rowed into the mouth of the St. Louis at 1 O clock P. M. I threw myself upon the bank, completely exhausted, and thankful to be once more on Terra firma, and determined to stay there until my strength should be reignited, however having taken dinner upon the bank and a cup of tea, the wind sprang up favorably and we sailed up the river ten miles and encamped upon an island.

A.M.F:  American Fur Company

5th                     Arrived at the A.M.F.’s Trading Post the place of our destination, at 10 O’clock A.M.  (mild and pleasant from this time to the 24th weather has been remarkably.

24th                   Cold—snow and some ice in the river

26th                   The river froze over at this place.

27th                   Colder the ice makes fast in the river

Nov 1st              Crossed the river on the ice—winter weather—

2nd                    Moderate

5th                     Sunday warm the ice is failing in the river dangerous crossing on foot

7th and 8th           Warm and pleasant—the ice is melting

9th                     Warm and misty—thawing fort

20th                   Warm—rains a little—the river is nearly clean of ice—

Dec. 3rd              The weather up to this date has been very mild.  No snow, the ice on the river scarcely sufficient to bear a horse and train—

Although this journal doesn’t have a lot of solid narrative history in it, I love the references to how some of the holidays were celebrated around here 170 years ago.  It prompted me to look up the origins of April Fools Day, for one.  New Years hasn’t changed much, though we have to wonder if our unknown narrator ever got his kiss.

Jan 1st 1844        Warm and misty—more like April fool than New years day

1844

Jan 1st               On this day I must record the honor of being visited by some half dozen pretty squaws expecting a New Years present and a kiss, not being aware of the etiquette of the place, we were rather taken by surprise, in not having presents prepared—however a few articles were mustered, an I must here acknowledge that although, out presents were not very valuable, we were entitled to the reward of a kiss, which I was ungallant enough not to claim, but they’ll never slip through my fingers in that way again.

March 2nd           New sugar, weather pleasant

3rd                     Cloudy chilly wind

Bebiizigindibe (Curly Head) signed the Treaty of 1842 as 2nd Chief from Gull Lake. According to William Warren, he was known as “Little Curly Head.” “Big Curly Head” was a famous Gull Lake war chief who died in 1825 while returning home from the Treaty of Prairie du Chien. The younger chief was the son of Niigaani-giizhig (also killed by the Dakota), and the half-brother of Gwiiwizhenzhish or Bad Boy (pictured). According to Warren, this incident broke a truce between the two nations (Photo by Whitney’s of St. Paul, Collections of the Minnesota Historical Society).

17th                   Pleasant, two Indians arrive and bring the news that the chief of the Gull Lake band of Chippeways has been killed by the Sioux—there appears to be not much excitement among the Indians here upon the subject.  The name of the chief that is killed is Babezegondeba (Curly Head)

The winter has been remarkably mild and pleasant—but little snow—no tedious storms and but two or three cold days.

31st                   A cloudy brilliant day—The frogs are singing

April 1st             A lovely spring morning—warm—the Ducks are flying

Afternoon a little cloudy but warm

Evening, moonlight—beautiful and bright

2nd                    Warm morning.  afternoon high wind rain

A pleasant moonlight evening—warm

3rd                     Briliant morning—warm afternoon appearance of rain.  the ice is moving out of the river  Ducks & Geese are flying and we have fresh fish

4th                     Clean cold morning wind N.E. afternoon high wind chilly.  The clear of ice at this place.

5th                     Cold cloudy morning.  Wind NE. After noon wind and rain from the N.E.

1844

April

6th                     Wind N.E. continues to rain moderately again—thunder and rain during the past night.

7th                     Sunday.  warm rainy day—attended church

8th                     Cloudy morning and warm, afternoon very fair.

9th                     Fair frosty morning, afternoon very warm.

10th                   Cloudy and warm—thunder lightning and rain during the past night, afternoon fair and warm.

11th                   Rainy warm morning, with thunder and lightning afternoon fair and very warm.

12th                   Fair warm morning, after noon, cloudy with a little rain thunder and lightning—Musketoes appear

13th                   Most beautiful spring morning—fair warm day, wind S.W.

14th                   Cool cloudy day—Wind N.E. (Sunday)

15th                   Rainy, warm day

16th                   Fair cool morning—after noon warmer

A striker is a blacksmith’s apprentice, a position accounted for in the Treaty of 1842.  The Belangers (Bellonger, Belangie) were a large mix-blood trading family spread throughout the Ojibwe country. It’s hard to tell which Belanger this is, if he’s the striker, if he accompanied the striker and blacksmith to La Pointe, or if he took over for the striker at Fond du Lac when he went to La Pointe.  

17th                   Fair and warm day (Striker started for La Pointe Bellanger with the Blacksmith)

18th                   Another beautiful day.

19th                   Warm rainy day

20th                   Rainy day

21st                   Sunday fair and cool—high wind from N.E.

22nd                   Cool morning—some cloudy—P.M. high wind and rain

23rd                   High wind and rain from the N.E.—tremendous storm;

24th                   Fair morning moderately warm—afternoon fair.  Musketoes

25th                   Rainy day

26th                   Cool cloudy morning

27th}                  fair & warm

28th

29th                   Beautiful April day

30th                   Rainy day

May 1st              Warm with high wind

2nd                    Do. a little rain

3rd                     Warm—sunshine and showers

4th}                   Beautiful warm day

5th

6th                     Most beautiful brilliant day

the woods have already a shade of green

1844

May 7th              Warm rainy day

farmer, the  Blacksmith & Striker: Again, all that’s missing is the carpenter, right?.  A man named Mis-co-pe-nen-shey (Miskobineshii) or Red Bird signed the Treaty of 1863 as a chief of the Lake Winnibigoshish band.  It’s unclear if this is the same person.

June 21st            Since the last date the weather has been good for the season—during the month of may occasionally a frosty night with sufficient variety of sunshine and shower.  On this day I started for La Pointe in company with the farmer, the Blacksmith & Striker, and Indian, named Red Bird, in a small boat. we rowed to the River Aminicon and encamped.

22nd                   Three O’clock A.M. Struck our tent and embarked—took the oars, (about 6 O’clock met a large batteau from La Pointe Bound for Fond du Lac with seed Potatoes for the Indians, it also had letters for Fond du Lac, among which was one for my self—The farmer returned to Fond du Lac to attend to the distribution of the Potatoes.  We breakfasted at Burnt wood River.  about 7 O’clock The wind sprang up favorably and blew a steady strong blast all day, and we arrived at La Pointe about sun set.

Burnt wood River: the Brule River.  Burntwood is a translation of the French Bois Brule, which is a translation of the Ojibwe wiisakode.

23rd                   Sunday, attended church

24th                   Did nothing in particular—weather very warm

28th                   Was taken suddenly with crick in the back which laid me up for a week

Charles Wulff Borup, an immigrant doctor from Denmark, was agent for the American Fur Company at La Pointe.  His wife, Elizabeth Beaulieu, was from a prominent mix-blooded trading family.  

July 4th              Independence day—Just able to get about The batteaus were fitted out by Dr. Borup for a pleasure ride, by way of celebrating the birth day of American Independence—These boats were propelled by eight sturdy Canadian voyagers each, nearly all the inhabitants of La Pointe were on board, and I was among the number, we were conveyed , amidst the firing of pocket pistols, rifles, shot guns & the music and mirth of the half-breeds and the mild cadence of the Canadian Boat songs, to one of the Islands of the Apostles about ten miles distant from La Pointe.  Here we disembarked and partook of a sumptuous dinner which had been prepared and brought on board the boats.

The brig John Jacob Astor, named for the fur baron pictured above, was one of the earliest commercial vessels on Lake Superior.  It sank near Copper Harbor about two months after the La Pointe Independence Day celebration (Painting by Gilbert Stuart, Wikimedia Images).

Just as we had finished the repast, having done ample justice to the viands which were placed before us, Some one, by means of a large spy glass discovered the Brig Astor supposed to be about 10 or 15 miles distant beating for La Pointe in thirty minutes we were all on board our boats and bound to meet the Astor. The Canadians were all commotion, and rowed and sung with all their might for about eight miles when finding that we yet a long distance from the vessel, she making little head way, and it being past middle of the afternoon, the question arose whether we should go forward or return to La Pointe.  a vote was taken, but as the chairman was unable to decide which party carried the point, he said he should be under the necessity of dividing the boat.  this was accordingly done, and all those who were desirous to go a head, took one boat, and those who wished to return the other.  I was anxious to go and meet the vessel, but being unwell was advised to return, and did so, and arrived at La Pointe at dusk.

July 11th            Started from La Pointe for Fond du Lac with Mr. Johnson & Lady missionaries at Leech Lake.  Mr. Hunter the Blacksmith, and two Indians, in our small boat. sailed about three miles a squall came up suddenly and drove us back to La Pointe—Started again after noon and rowed to Sandy River and encamped next

12th day              rowed to Burnt wood (Iron) river.

13th                   Arrived at Fond du Lac 9 O’clock P.M.

Aug 6th              Since I arrived the weather has been intensely warm  Yesterday Mr. Hunter started for La Pointe to attend the Payment.  I am alone

Erethizon dorsatum, North American Porcupine: I’m going to assume our author devoured one of these guys. Hedgehogs are exclusively an Old World animal (J. Glover, Wikimedia Images, CC)

Aug 27th            The weather fair, the nights begin to be cooler.  Musketoes and gnats have given up the contest and left us in full and peaceable possession of the country.  Since Mr. hunter left for the payment I have been unwell, no appetite, foul stomac, after trying various remedies, in order to settle my stomac, I succeeded in effecting it at last by devouring a large portion of roast Hedge hog But was immediately taken down with a rheumatism in my back, which has held me to the present time and from which I am just recovering.

An Indian has just arrived from Leech Lake bringing news that the Sioux have killed a chippeway and that the Chippeways in retaliation have killed eight Sioux.

29th                   Johnson arrived from La Pointe—Rainy day.

31st                   The farmer and Blacksmith arrived from La Pointe

The weather is very warm—

Sept 5               Weather continues warm.  Mr. Wright Mr Coe and wife start for Red Lake (they are Missionaries)

10                     Frosty night

11                     Do.       “

12                     Cloudy and warm

13                     Do.       Do.       “

14                     Do.       Do.       Do. Batteau arrived from La Pointe

15                     Sunday  foggy morning—very warm fair day

16                     Warm

22                     Do.

29                     fair

Oct 3rd               Warm and fair

Sunday 13th        fair days & frosty nights, this month, thus far

14-15                Rainy days

19th                   cold

20                     Snow covers the ground—the river is nightly frozen over at some places—

21                     fine day

22&23               fair & warm thunder & lightning at night

24th                   Do.       Do.       (Agent arrived from La Pointe 28th)

28th                   Cold—snow in the afternoon and night

—————————————————————————————————————–

END OF 1843-44 JOURNAL

The last two pages of the document are written in the same handwriting, a few years later in 1847, and take the form of a cash ledger.

________________________________________________________________

1847 Madam Defoe [?][?] 1847
Dec 3rd [?] [?]
p/o 4 lbs Butter 1 00
“ 3 Gallons Soap 1 00
15th By Making 2 pr Moccasins 50
[Washing 2 Down pieces ?] 1 00
Mending pants [?] 25
Joseph Defoe Jr
p/o 50 lbs Candles 1 50
“ 10 “ Pork 1 50
“ 20 “ flour 1 25
By three days work by self and son 3 75
p/o Pork 4 lbs 50
Then, as now, the Defoe (Dufault, DeFaut) family was widespread and numerous.  There were multiple Joseph Defoes living in both La Pointe and Fond du Lac at this time.  More than one was married to a woman named Julia.  My instinct is that this Joseph was the one born in the 1790s.
[?]:  There are experts out there on 19th-century account book shorthand.  I am not one of them.

____________________________________________________________________________

1847 Memorandum
Aug Went to La Pointe with Carleton
Staid four days
Oct 9th Went to La Pointe (Monday)
12 Returned 4 O’clock P.M.
16 Went to La Pointe. returned same night
24th Do.     Do.
25th Returned
Nov. 28th Lent Mr. Wood 10 lbs nails–
5 lbs 4[?] 5 lbs 10[?] previous to this time 12 lbs
4[?]  Total= 22 lbs
By three days work by self and son
p/o Pork 4 lbs
Nov T.A. Warren Due to Cash 2 00
Lent 10 lbs nails: Is he the government carpenter?
Truman A. Warren, son of Lyman Warren and Marie Cadotte Warren, brother of Willam W. (Wisconsin Historical Society Image ID: 28289)

____________________________________________________________________________

While not overly significant historically, I enjoyed typing up this anonymous journal.  The New Years, Independence Day, and “Hedge Hog” stories made me laugh out loud.  You just don’t get that kind of stuff from an uptight missionary, greedy trader, or boring government official.  It really makes me want to know who this guy was.  If you can identify him, please let me know.

Sources:

Ely, Edmund Franklin, and Theresa M. Schenck. The Ojibwe Journals of Edmund F. Ely, 1833-1849. Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 2012. Print.
KAPPLER’S INDIAN AFFAIRS: LAWS AND TREATIES. Ed. Charles J. Kappler. Oklahoma State University Library, n.d. Web. 21 June 2012. <http:// digital.library.okstate.edu/Kappler/>.
Nichols, John, and Earl Nyholm. A Concise Dictionary of Minnesota Ojibwe. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1995. Print.
Schenck, Theresa M. William W. Warren: The Life, Letters, and times of an Ojibwe Leader. Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 2007. Print.
Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe. Historical and Statistical Information Respecting the History, Condition and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1853. Print.
Warren, William W., and Edward D. Neill. History of the Ojibway Nation. Minneapolis: Ross & Haines, 1957. Print.
Warren, William W., and Theresa M. Schenck. History of the Ojibway People. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 2009. Print.