By Amorin Mello

This is a reproduction of Ancient Garden Beds of Michigan from Memorials of a Half Century, by Bela Hubbard, 1887, pages 243-261.

ANCIENT GARDEN BEDS OF MICHIGAN.*

* Read before the State Pioneer Society, February 7, 1877, and published in the American Antiquarian.

Bela Hubbard explored Lake Superior in 1840 as the Assistant State Geologist of Michigan with Douglass Houghton.

A CLASS of works of the Mound-builders exists in Michigan, of unknown age and origin, which have received the name of “Garden-Beds.”

An unusual importance attaches to these remains of a lost race, from the fact that they have been almost entirely overlooked by archæologists, and that of those which were so numerous and prominent forty, or even thirty years ago, nearly every trace has disappeared. For any knowledge beyond the scanty details hitherto recorded we are forced to rely upon the recollections of the “oldest inhabitants.” We know how uncertain this reliance often is, and were it otherwise, we cannot but recognize the rapidity with which we are losing our hold of this kind of testimony, and the very brief period of which it must cease altogether.

Archæology of the United States by Samuel Foster Haven, 1856.
Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, Sieur de la Vérendrye came to Lake Superior in 1726.

The earliest mention of these relics which I find is by Haven, in his “Archæology of the United States.” It is the report of Verandrie, who, with several French associates, explored this region before 1748. He found in the western wilderness

“large tracts free from wood, many of which are everywhere covered with furrows, as if they had formerly been ploughed and sown.”

Schoolcraft was the first to give to the world any accurate and systematic account of these “furrows.” Indeed, he is the only author of note who honors this interesting class of the works of the Mound-Builders with more than the most meagre mention. Observations were made by him as early as 1827. He gives figures of two kinds of beds, and he records the fact, that

“the garden-beds, and not the mounds, form the most prominent, and, by far, the most striking and characteristic antiquarian monuments of this district of country.”

Gazetteer of Michigan by John T. Blois.

Another writer of early date, still resident of our State, John T. Blois, published, in 1839, in his “Gazetteer of Michigan,” a detailed description, with a diagram, of one kind of the beds.

No mention is made of these remains by Priest or by Baldwin. Foster devotes to them less than a single page of his voluminus work, and only says, in effect, that “they certainly indicate a methodical cultivation which was not practised by the red man.”

Increase Allen Lapham wrote about ancient gardens in Antiquities of Wisconsin, and was involved with the Penokee Survey Incidents.

Dr. Lapham describes a few of this kind of remains which were found upon the western shore of Lake Michigan, as

“consisting of low parallel ridges, as if corn had been planted in drills. They average four feet in width, and twenty-five of them have been counted in the space of one hundred feet.”

Ancient gardens are also known to be located at Lac Vieux Desert (‘lake of the old garden’) and Gete Gititaaning (‘at the old gardens’) at Bad River.

Yet these relics constitute a unique feature in the antiquities of our country. They are of especial interest to us, from the fact that they were not only the most prominent of our antiquities, but, with the exception referred to in Wisconsin, they are confined to our State.

Some investigations, by no means thorough, enable me to define more accurately and fully than has been heretofore done the different kinds of these beds, which I shall attempt to classify, according to the most reliable information obtained. But I must first define their situation, extent and character.

The so-called “Garden-Beds” were found in the valleys of the St. Joseph and Grand rivers, where they occupied the most fertile of the prairie land and burr-oak plains, principally in the counties of St. Joseph, Cass and Kalamazoo.

They consist of raised patches of ground, separated by sunken paths, and were generally arrange in plats or blocks of parallel beds. These varied in dimensions, being from five to sixteen feet in width, in length from twelve to more than one hundred feet, and in height six to eighteen inches.

The tough sod of the prairie had preserved very sharply all the outlines. According to the universal testimony, these beds were laid out and fashioned with a skill, order and symmetry which distinguished them from the ordinary operations of agriculture, and were combined with some peculiar features that belong to no recognized system of horticultural art.

In the midst of diversity, sufficient uniformity is discoverable to enable me to group the beds and gardens, as in the following

CLASSIFICATION:

1. Wide convex beds, in parallel rows, without paths, composing independent plats. (Width of beds, 12 feet; paths, none; length, 74 to 115 feet.) Fig. 1.

 

2. Wide convex beds, in parallel rows, separated by paths of same width, in independent plats (Width of bed, 12 to 16 feet; paths same; length, 74 to 132 feet.) Fig. 2.

 

3. Wide and parallel beds, separated by narrow paths, arranged in a series of plats longitudinal to each other (Width of beds, 14 feet; paths, 2 feet; length, 100 feet.) Fig. 3.

 

4. Long and narrow beds, separated by narrower paths and arranged in a series of longitudinal plats, each plat divided from the next by semi-circular heads. (Width of beds, 5 feet; paths, 1½ feet; length, 100 feet; height 18 inches.) Fig. 4.

 

5. Parallel beds, arranged in plats similar to class 4, but divided by circular heads. (Width of beds, 6 feet; paths, 4 feet; length, 12 to 40 feet; height, 18 inches.) Fig. 5.

 

6. Parallel beds, of varying widths and lengths, separated by narrow paths, and arranged in plats of two or more at right angles N. and S., E. and W., to the plats adjacent. (Width of beds, 5 to 14 feet; paths, 1 to 2 feet; length, 12 to 30 feet; height, 8 inches.) Figures a, b, and c are varieties. Fig. 6.

 

7. Parallel beds, of uniform width and length, with narrow paths, arranged in plats or blocks, and single beds, at varying angles. Width of beds, 6 feet; paths, 2 feet; length, about 30 feet; height, 10 to 12 inches.) Fig. 7.

 

8. Wheel-shaped plats, consisting of a circular bed, with beds of uniform shape and size radiating therefrom, all separated by narrow paths. (Width of beds, 6 to 20 feet; paths, 1 foot; length, 14 to 20 feet.) Fig. 8.

 

I present diagrams of each of these classes or kinds of beds. Of these only those numbered 1, 2 and 4 have ever before been delineated, to my knowledge. (See figures 1 to 8, pages 257-261.) Nos. 3 and 5 are described by Schoolcraft and Blois, while the others are figured as well – 1 and 2 by Schoolcraft and 4 by Blois. No. 3, according to the latter, consists of five plats, each 100 feet long, 20 beds in each plat. Schoolcraft does not give the exact localities, and I am unable to state whether beds of the same class have been noticed by other observers. As to their extent, his language is, “The beds are of various sizes, covering generally from 20 to 100 acres.” Some are reported to embrace even 300 acres. Plats of beds are undoubtedly here referred to.

Of the plat figured by Blois (No. 4), the writer says:

“They are found a short distance from Three Rivers, on one side of an oval prairie, surrounded by burr-oak plains. The prairie contains three hundred acres. The garden is judged to be half a mile in length by one-third in breadth, containing about one hundred acres, regularly laid out in beds running north and south, in the form of parallelograms, give feet in width and one hundred in length, and eighteen inches deep.”

The distinctive peculiarity of these beds is what Blois calls the “semi-lunar” head, at the extremity of each bed, separated from them by a path as represented.

Class 6, so far as my own inquiries warrant, represents the form and arrangement which is most common, viz.:

that of a series of parallel beds formed into blocks of two or more, alternating with other similar blocks placed at right angles to them. (See figures a, b, and c.) The prevailing width of the bed is five or six feet, and that of the paths one and a half to two feet. The length of the plats or blocks varies, the average being about twenty feet. Gardens of this kind were found by the early settlers of Schoolcraft, the burr-oak plains at Kalamazoo, Toland’s prairie, Prairie-Ronde, and elsewhere.

Mr. Henry Little says, that in 1831 they were very numerous on the plains where now stands the village of Kalamazoo; and south of the mound, eight or ten acres were entirely covered by them.

Mr. E. Laken Brown confirms this account, and says they reminded him of old New England gardens, being very regular and even, and the beds five feet by twelve or fourteen feet. In 1832 the outlines were very distinct, and the burr-oak trees on them as large as any in the vicinity. Mr. A. T. Prouty concurs as to the extent covered, but thinks the beds were six feet wide by twenty-five to forty long. On the farm of J. T. Cobb, section 7, town of Schoolcraft, the beds were quite numerous as late as 1860. There must have been 15 acres of them on his land. The “sets” would average five or six beds each. Neighbors put the number of acres covered with them in 1830, within the space of a mile, at one hundred.

Fig. 6-b, of class 6, is from a drawing by James R. Cumings, of Galesburg, of a garden in which the beds are of more than usual diversity in width and length. H. M. Shafter and Roswell Ransom, old settlers, say that three or four acres on the edge of the prairie, at this place, were covered with the beds. On the farm of the latter in the town of Comstock, of one hundred acres, there were not less than ten acres of beds, six feet by twenty-five to forty, arranged in alternate blocks, having a north-and-south and east-and-west direction.

Fig. 6-c is from a drawing by Mr. Shafter.

The series represented by Class 7 (fig. 7) were found at Prairie-Ronde. They are platted and described to me by Messrs. Cobb and Prouty. They differ from the more ordinary form of No. 6, in the arrangement of the blocks or sets of beds, which is here not at right angles, but at various and irregular angles, also in the single beds outlying. The number of beds in each block is also greater than usual.

Class 8 is established on the authority of Henry Little and A. T. Prouty, of Kalamazoo. The figure delineated is from the descriptions and dimensions given by the former. The diameter of the circular bed and the length of the radiating ones are each twenty-five to thirty feet. The latter describes two of similar design, but of smaller dimensions, the centre bed being only six feet in diameter, and the radiating ones twenty feet. All occurred at Kalamazoo, and in immediate association with the other forms of beds at that place, represented generally by Class 6.

There is reason for supposing that there may have existed another class of beds, differing altogether from any that I have represented, from expressions used by both Schoolcraft and Blois. The former speaks of “enigmatical plats of variously shaped beds;” and further, “nearly all the lines of each area or sub-area of beds are rectangular and parallel. Others admit of half circles and variously curved beds, with avenues, and are differently grouped and disposed.”

The latter says, the beds “appear in various fanciful shapes.” Some are laid off in rectilineal and curvilineal figures, either distinct or combined in a fantastic manner, in parterres and scolloped work, with alleys between, and apparently ample walks leading in different directions.”

This language is too vague to enable me to construct a diagram, nor have I any confirmation to offer from other sources. The reputation of the writers will not allow us to consider the descriptions fanciful, but it is possible to suppose they were misled by the representations of others.

Lac Vieux Desert (‘lake of the old garden’) and Catakitekon [Gete-gitigaan (‘old gardens’)] from Thomas Jefferson Cram’s 1840 fieldbook.  This is the headwaters of the Wisconsin River, and near those of the Wolf River and Ontonagon River. 
~ School District of Marshfield: Digital Time Travelers

Were these vegetable gardens? To answer this question, we must proceed according to the doctrine of probabilities. All opinions seem to agree, that these relics denote some species of cultivation; and that they are very different from those left by the field culture of any known tribes of Indians. Nor do we find any similar remains in connection with the works of the Mound-Builders, which exist, on so extensive a scale, through the valley of the Mississippi River, although those unknown builders were undoubtedly an agricultural people.

The principal crop of the Indians is maize, and this was never cultivated by them in rows, but in hills often large but always disposed in a very irregular manner. As little do these beds resemble the deserted fields of modern agriculture. On the other hand, the resemblance of many of the plats to the well-laid out garden beds of our own day is very striking; while the curvilinear forms suggest analogies quite as strong to the modern “pleasure garden.”

The Whole & True Discouerye of Terra Florida by Captain Jean Ribault, 1563.

The nearest approach to anything resembling horticultural operations among Indian tribes, with the historic period, is noticed by Jones, who refers to a practice, among some of the southern Indians, of setting apart separate pieces of ground for each family. This author quotes from Captain Ribault’s “Discovery of Terra Florida,” published in London, 1563. “They labor and till the ground, sowing the fields with a grain called Mahis, whereof they make their meal, and in their gardens they plant beans, gourds, cucumbers, citrons, peas, and many other fruits and roots unknown to us. Their spades and mattocks are made of wood, so well and fitly as is possible.”

In the St. Joseph Valley I learned of numerous places, widely apart, where the labor and ksill of our ancient horticulturists were apparent in small gardens, laid out in different styles, and with an eye to the picturesque; as if each family had not only its separate garden patch, but had used it for the display of its own peculiar taste.

The Nahua peoples (Aztecs) are known to build Chinampas (man-made islands for gardens) in water bodies.
Penokee Gap was also the historic path for the early copper workers from Mexico, who came to Lake Superior and Isle Royale.”
~ Bad River WPA Papers, Envelope 3, Folder 9.
Penokee Gap, 1000 feet above Lake Superior, is a break in the rough country, a regular gap where the Bad River breaks through the Iron Range Hills on its way to Lake Superior. The Gap is an historic pathway through which the copper workers from Mexico and South America came to Lake Superior centuries ago enroute to the copper deposits on Isle Royal in Lake Superior.
~ Railroad History, Issues 54-58, pg. 26

Historians tell us of the Aztecs, that they had gardens in which were cultivated various plants, for medicinal uses, as well as for ornament. Was there something analogous to this in the Michigan Nation? Did the latter also have botanical gardens? May we accord to this unknown people a considerable advance in science, in addition to a cultivated taste, and an eye for symmetry and beauty, which is without precedent among the pre-historic people of this continent, north of Mexico?

These extensive indications of ancient culture necessarily imply a settled and populous community. We are led, therefore, to look for other evidences of the numbers and character of the people who made them. But here an extraordinary fact presents itself; such evidences are almost wanting! The testimony of nearly every one whom I have consulted – men who were among the first of the white race to break up the sod, that for ages had consecrated these old garden lands – agrees in the fact, that almost none of usual aboriginal relics were found; no pottery; no spear- and arrow-heads; no implements of stone; not even the omnipresent pipe. Tumuli, or burial mounds of the red man, are not uncommon, though not numerous, in Western Michigan, but have no recognized association with the garden race.

Upon the St. Joseph and Colorado rivers, and in the town of Prairie-Ronde, exist several small circular and rectangular embankments, resembling the lesser works of the Mound-Builders so numerous in Ohio. But no connection can be traced between these detached earthworks and the garden-beds. None of them seem to have been the bases of buildings, nor do they give indication of any religious origin or rites. There are no traces of dwellings, and the soil which has so sacredly preserved the labor of its occupants, discloses not even their bones!

At Three Rivers, and in Gilead, Branch County, are some ancient embankments, which are probably referable to this people and may pass for works of defence. That at the first named place was notably extensive. It consisted only of an earth embankment, about six feet in height, extending between two forks of a river, a mile apart. It thus enclosed a large area, and with a sufficient garrison might have withstood the siege of a large army of barbarous warriors.

It seems strange, indeed, that these garden beds, suggestive as they are, should be the only memorials of a race which has left such an evidence of civilized advancement, and was worthy of more enduring monuments! We may reasonably conclude, that they were a people of peaceable disposition, of laborious habits, and of æsthetic if not scientific tastes; that they lived in simple and patriarchal style, subsisting on the fruits of the earth, rather than of the chase. Their dwellings and their tools were of wood, and have perished. This simple record of their character and labors is all, it may be, we can ever know.

But is this all? May we not form some reasonable conjecture as to the period in which these gardeners lived?

Detail of “Chippewa Gardens” at Odanah from Narrative journal of travels from Detroit northwest through the great chain of American lakes to the sources of the Mississippi River in the year 1820, in 1820, by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, page 105.  This place is known as Gete Gititaaning (‘at the old gardens’) in Ojibwemowin.

Gishkitawag (‘Cut Ear’) circa 1858:
“My children, I want you to listen to me.  The proposition I am about to present will benefit all of you, and I need your cooperation.  I would like to have you donate your labor to clear land for a large community garden, where every family, or any one who wishes can plant.  The place I would suggest is that swampy flat, near the cemetery.  It will take time to drain it and dry out but I know it will make good garden plats.
~ Early Settlement of the Bad River Indian Reservation

A fact mentioned by Dr. Lapham furnishes a species of evidence, as to the relative antiquity of the garden beds of Wisconsin, as compared with the animal mounds. They were found overlying the latter; from which he infers, of course, a more recent origin. We may also suppose a considerable more recent age, since it is not likely that the race could have thus encroached upon the works of another, until long after these had been abandoned, and their religious or other significance forgotten.

The date of the abandonment of the beds may be approximately fixed, by the age of the trees found growing upon them. One of these mentioned by Schoolcraft, cut down in 1837, had 335 cortical layers. This carries the period back as far as 1502, or some years prior to the discovery of this country by the French. How long these labors were abandoned before this tree commenced its growth may not be susceptible of proof. Early French explorers do not appear to have been interested in the question, and it does not seem to me necessary to go further back than the three centuries during which that tree flourished, for a period quite long enough to have crumbled into indistinguishable dust every trace of wooden dwellings and implements, as well as of the bodies of their fabricators, if the latter received only simple earth burial.

Seven Fires Prophecy
(Anishinaabe Migration Story)
:
In the Third Fire the Anishinabe will find the path to their chosen ground, a land in the west to which they must move their families. This will be the land where food grows upon the waters.
~ The Mishomis Book – The Voice of the Ojibway by Edward Benton-Banai, Chapter 13 – The Seven Fires.
Manoomin (Wild Rice) is the food that grows upon the waters at the Kakagon and Bad River Sloughs (Third Fire) of Lake Superior.

At the time of the arrival of the French the country was in possession of Algonquin tribes, who emigrated from the St. Lawrence about the middle of the 16th century. They were ignorant of the authors of these works, and were not more advanced in the arts of culture than the other known tribes.

It is probable that the few defensive works I have mentioned were erected by this settled and peaceful race of gardeners, as places of temporary refuge for the women and children, against the raids of the warlike tribes living eastward of them. The larger one may have served for the general defence in a time of sudden and great emergency. It is probable that on some such occasion they were surprised by their savage and relentless foes, and were overwhelmed, scattered or exterminated.

Most of the facts I have been able to present are gathered, in large part, from the memories – of course not always exact or reliable – of early settlers, and after modern culture had for many years obliterated the old.

It is perhaps useless to regret that these most interesting and unique relics of a lost people have so completely perished, through the greed of the dominant race; or that they could not have received, while they yet remained, the more exact and scientific scrutiny which is now being applied to the antiquities of our land. Much that might then have been cleared up, must now remain forever involved in mystery, or be left to conjecture.

– – – – – – – – – –

In September, 1885, the writer visited the region of the ancient garden beds, in hopes of being so fortunate as to find some remaining. He did discover, near Schoolcraft, on a plat of land which had been recently cleared of its timber, a few traces of beds belonging to a set, most of which had been broken up by the plough.

Four or five beds could be distinctly traced, for the distance of some ten to fifteen feet. The remainder of their lengths, said to be some twenty to thirty feet, had been obliterated by cultivation. Each bed had a width of about ten feet from centre to centre of the intervening paths. The latter had apparently a width of two or three feet, but it was impossible to define the exact outlines.

After much inquiry I could learn of no other place in or near Prairie-Ronde, or the plains of St. Joseph and Kalamazoo Counties, where any traces of the old garden beds remained.

Mr. Cobb informed me that about 1859 he endeavored to preserve portions of a set of these beds, which were well covered by touch, protective prairie sod. But when the white grub took possession of the turf thereabouts his ancient garden reserve did not escape. In a year or two the hogs, in their search for the grub, had so rooted and marred the outlines that he ploughed the beds up.

I found many old residents who well remembered the garden plats as they appeared a half century ago, and all concurred in the admiration excited by their peculiar character and the perfection of their preservation. Mr. Cobb says, he often took his friend to see his “ancient garden,” counted the beds, and speculated upon their object. The set of beds, which is shown only partially in his sketch (Fig. 7), contained thirteen beds, and was the largest of the sets. The others averaged five or six beds each.

All concurred, too, as to the great extent of land, amounting to several hundred acres, covered, wholly or partially, by the beds, chiefly upon the northern edge of the prairie. That all visible evidence of their existence should have so completely disappeared is not surprising to any one who notes their situation, upon the richest portions of the mixed prairies and plains. The lands most esteemed by their garden race were those which first attracted the modern farmer. These lands still constitute fields as beautiful as the eye can anywhere rest upon, and in a region second in loveliness to no other part of our country. The wants of the early settler almost preclude any care for the preservation of what was regarded as mere curiosities. Even when spared from the plough, and left to the care of nature, the absence of the annual fires, which had prevented the growth of timber; the roots of trees upheaving the beds; the decay of fallen timber; the hummocks caused by upturned roots; the destruction of the turf by the forest growth, and by cattle and hogs, all tend to deface the beds, and leave them to be reduced to the general level by the elements. Under these circumstances, a few years even would suffice to obliterate outlines which had remained almost unaltered for centuries.

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.

Lake Superior in 1840

September 1, 2016

By Amorin Mello

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

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

 


 

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

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

LAKE SUPERIOR IN 1840.*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“like giants stand, To sentinel enchanted land;”

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

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

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

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

Page 33: “Grandes Sables.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Page 41: “La Portaille.”

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

* Discourse before Detroit Historical Society.

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

Page 43: “The gothic rock.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Page 47: “La Chapelle, inside view.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Page 51: “View from the cliff ranges.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chief. This country belongs to us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charles William Wulff Borup
~ Minnesota Historical Society

Charles Henry Oakes ~ Findagrave.com

Charles Henry Oakes
~ Findagrave.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Amorin Mello

WPA_Main_Image1

United States. Works Progress Administration:

Chippewa Indian Historical Project Records 1936-1942  

(Northland Micro 5; Micro 532)

Abstract

“Records of a WPA project to collect Chippewa Indian folklore sponsored by the Great Lakes Indian Agency and directed by Sister M. Macaria Murphy of St. Mary’s Indian School, Odanah, Wisconsin. Included are narrative and statistical reports, interview outlines, and operational records; and essays concerning Chippewa religious beliefs and rituals, food, liquor, transportation, trade, clothing, games and dances, and history. Also includes copies of materials from the John A. Bardon collection concerning the Superior, Wisconsin region, La Pointe baptismal records, the family tree of Qui-ka-ba-no-kwe, and artwork of Peter Whitebird.”


 

Reel 1, Envelope 2, Item 1

Editor’s Note: This article is the result of the information given by the staff, also gleanings from the “Bardon Collection.”

EARLY TRAILS AND WATER ROUTES

John Alexander Bardon Papers, 1921-1937.
The Bardon Brothers.James, Thomas and John A. Bardon came early to Superior City and upheld her doubtful fortunes in the days of trial, never losing faith in her prospective greatness. They have not toiled and watched and waited in vain. The expected railways have been built; the improved harbor, with dredge boats, well built piers and lighthouse, has been completed. Surveys and terminal approaches of other roads insure the commercial prosperity of the city. Thomas has for some years been a resident of Ashland, Wisconsin.”
~ Fifty Years in the Northwest, by W. H. C. Folsom, 1888, page 258.

Bardon in his Collections says, “From the earliest times, the waterways were the Red Man’s highways: naturally the fur-trader, explorer, and missionary followed the same routes.”

For hundreds of years before the white man came to live in this country, the Indians rarely traveled on land except to portage their canoes in taking short cuts from one body of water to another, thus cutting off considerable distance for extensive traveling.  Then, too, game was plentiful on the banks of rivers and lakes.  For these reasons the Indian preferred traveling by water to that of land.

For the white man in the early 50’s as well as for the Indian, transportation could be carried on only by water in the lowlands and by trails in the uplands, therefore, canoes were extensively used in the former and quite commonly employed in the latter, for the highlands, too, and their lakes and streams.

Water Routes

The route between the Bois Brulé and Saint Croix Rivers has been featured on Chequamegon History before in our Wisconsin Territory Delegation and Lt. Allen Expedition series.

An important route connecting the Great Lakes and the Mississippi was by way of the Brule and the St. Croix Rivers.  This water route began at Lake Superior, ascended the Brule River to Lake St. Croix then descended the St. Croix River to the Mississippi. The first eastern settler, missionaries, explorers, traders and Indians used this route very extensively.

Henry Schoolcraft’s 1831 journey along this route is featured in Chapters 38-39 of his book Personal Memoirs of a Residence of Thirty Years with the Indian Tribes on the American Frontiers, 1851, pages 361-380.

Another route connecting Lake Superior and the Mississippi River was made by the historian, Schoolcraft, over a hundred years ago.  This historic water route began at Chequamegon Bay, ascended the Bad River, and descended the Namekagon and the St. Croix Rivers to the Mississippi.

A route by way of Fish Creek from Chequamegon Bay was also important.  Indian travelers portaged their canoes from Fish Creek to White River and down this river for several miles and again portaged to Lake Namakagon, from thence to Namakagon River, thence to the St. Croix and down to the Mississippi.  This same route could be taken to the Flambeau and the Wisconsin Rivers by going upstream on the St. Croix.

Detail of Fish Creek Slough (T47N R5W).

Several trails converged at the mouth of Fish Creek on Chequamegon Bay. ~ Wisconsin Public Land Survey Records

Trails

In traveling by trail most Indians traveled on foot, but many used dog-teams and toboggans, and in some cases, ponies.  The Lake Superior region was a permanent camping ground for the Chippewa.  This country for many miles around, and numerous trails branching off in all directions, far too many for us to mention each individually.  Here we shall point out only the more important ones.

Talking Trail

“Talking Trail”, was so named on account of its beginning at a popular meeting or camping site situated where the city of Washburn now stands.  “Talking Trail” began at this camping ground, thence it extended south, to Fish Creek, then south-west for a few miles, finally west to Superior, thus connecting Chequamegon Bay and Superior.

Houghton was a small settlement at what is now the City of Washburn. (Detail from A.H. Barber's survey during August of 1855)

The “Talking Trail” began at the mouth of Vanderventer Creek near Washburn, and was also known as the Council Trail.”
Wisconsin Public Land Survey Records

Bad River Trail

Ervin Barnes Leihy’s sawmill was featured in First Sawmills on the Bad River Reservation.

Whether or not this old trail was specifically known as designated above, the title is quite appropriate, since it began at the Leihy Mill on Bad River, Odanah, ran south to Tyler’s Forks, thence to Lake Namakagon and on to Lac Court Oreilles Reservation.

Indian War Trail

The reason for this name is evident:  This trail was much used by the Chippewa in time of strife with the Sioux.  The War Trail ran east to Montreal River and on to Porcupine Mountains, then to Ontonagon, thence to the copper country, including L’Anse and Marquette, Michigan.  Mrs. Frank La Fernier of the Bad River Reservation, (1937) whose father, Mr. James lived to the age of one hundred-three years, corroborated this statement.  Mr. James carried United States mail over this trail from our section of the country.

Moccasin Mike Trail

Ozaagii ~ Geni.com

Chief Joseph Ozaagii was a cosigner of the 1854 Treaty at La Pointe on behalf of the Fond Du Lac Band.
~ Geni.com

“Moccasin Mike Trail”, was only another name for the “Osaugee1 Trail”.  It was one of the most historic trails, and was evidently named after the local chief, Osaugee, who was the father-in-law of Charles Lord, a latter resident of Solon Springs, but originally a pioneer Quebec trader and voyageur.

This famous trail extended from the south of the St. Louis River, down Wisconsin Pointe, thence along the southern shore of Lake Superior to La Pointe, Bayfield, Ashland, Ontonagon, and the “Copper Country” of Michigan.

A branch of this trail led south, along the Montreal River to central Wisconsin, and was the route of the fur trader from Lake Superior to Green Bay.  In the late 50’s and early 60’s, this trail was the land route East and South, and was much used by the early missionaries, traders and pioneer settlers.  It became the regular mail route between all “south shore” points.  Owen Sheridan and R.S. Mclean were two of the early mail carriers on this trail, packing on foot during the summer and fall, and travelling by dog team in winter.

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

“Osawgee Beach” postcard, circa 1920.
~ Zenith City Online

When Superior was started in 1853, a new branch of this trail began at the Nemadji River crossing and followed the mainland east, practically along the present high-ways 10 and 2, through what is now Alloues and Itasca, then east over the route of the present drive to an intersection with the main trail near Dutchman’s Creek.  The early settlers remember it well.  The density of the woods through which it passed kept the trail free from drifting snows and cutting winter winds.  Snow shoes, toboggans, and dog teams were a powerful aid to travelers over this early trail.

Detail of Michael Bright Sr.'s trading post on Saint Louis Bay near Oneota (West Duluth). ~ General Land Office Records

Detail of Michael S. Bright Sr.‘s trading post on Saint Louis Bay near Oneota (West Duluth).
~ General Land Office Records

Douglas County Board member Michael S. Bright Jr. was the son of “Moccasin Mike” S. Bright Sr., who was a Superior, Wisconsin attorney and a partner in the firm of Bright and Hayes.  His record book includes notes on the Buffalo/Armstrong land claim in Duluth.

With the march of civilization, the settler, and the coming of regularly laid out roads, this intensely historic trail became practically eliminated.  In the early 90’s, the Board of Douglas County in conjunction with the city of Superior saw the need of an all-year-round road to Lake Superior and Wisconsin Point.  The project was sponsored by Michael S. Bright, now of Duluth, then a member of the County Board from the second ward of Superior.  As the Supervisor of the Ward was always dubbed some Indian name, Mr. Bright fell heir to the sobriquet of “Moccasin Mike”.  Because the rejuvenated road followed the old Osaugee Trail, and Mr. Bright had been very active in its building, the County Board officially designated the new road: “The Moccasin Mike Trail”.

1 Chief Osaugee was one of the signers of the important Treaty with the Chippewa in 1854.  In Vol 2 “Treaties”, compiled by Chas. J. Kappler, the chief’s name is spelled: O sau’gee.  The Chippewa spelling is: Osagi, the a being pronounced like a in ah, and the i like e in he.

 

TRAILS BECOME HIGHWAYS

Northwest Ordinance of 1787 and the Wisconsin Constitution (1848):

“… the navigable waters leading into the Mississippi and St. Lawrence, and the carrying places between the same, shall be common highways and forever free …”

Many of the old Indian trails, especially those bordering on the southern shores of Lake Superior, have become permanent highways, and a number of these took their rise in our own village of Odanah.  One of these led to Lac du Flambeau, and is now our present U.S. No. 2.

Over-Ridge Trail

This one-time Indian trail ran through Hurley, Wisconsin, Ironwood, Bessemer, Wakefield, and beyond Marinesco, Michigan, where it turned south to Lac du Flambeau.  The Indians called the trail: “Ka-ke-way-wa-jwie-no-con”, meaning – “Over Ridge Trail”.  At the turning point, it was necessary to cross a small river called “Ka-ba-no-ti-go-ge-wung” or “Presque Isle River”.

White River Trail

Another old Indian trail, leading West out of Odanah followed the [????] of our present U.S. No. 2; after crossing the Chicago and North Western railroad just a few feet west of the steel Railroad Bridge at the west entrance of the village, this trail entered the outskirts of Ashland where it turned directly towards Lake Superior.  From thence it followed what is now Front Street in Ashland, turning south at the present site of the Knight Hotel.  Following Ellis Avenue, it later crossed “Wa-bi-si-bi,” or White River.  Mr. Scott, one of our historical staff says, “At that time there was a solid jam of flood wood at that point.  Elm trees blew down on top of the jam, making it sufficiently solid for all kinds of Indian traffic.”

Detail of Ashland City, LaPointe County (T47N R4W).

Detail of trails in Ashland east to Odanah and south to the White River. ~ Wisconsin Public Land Survey Records

This Indian Trail ran through Fifield, Wisconsin then straight east to Lac du Flambeau, from thence to Wausau, which was one of the trading posts of the early days.  It is now our present U.S. Highway, No. 13.

N.B.  An old wagon road known as the St. Paul Road was once a trail when the United States mail was carried on foot.  In later years a wagon road was constructed by the War Department for military purposes.

See article following on “Military or St. Paul Road,” By W.P. Bigboy.


 

Reel 1, Envelope 2, Item 2

MILITARY, OR ST. PAUL, ROAD

By W.P. Bigboy

Old Military Road in Bayfield starts on Highway 13 near Newago’s Fish Market, and follows part of Star Route Road into the Moquah Barrens.

The road referred to in the “Recollections of Joseph Bell,” was the old military, or St. Paul, road, built by the government during the Civil War.

Michael Buskey had a close relationship with Antoine Gordon’s family as stewards of the same trail.

It followed the trail blazed out in earlier years by “Old Michel Buskey,” later identified as a keeper of a stopping place along this route.  These hostelries could be found along the entire route and were for the accommodation and convenience of the early mail packers and travelers, who in the pursuit of their regular missions found the water ways or routes an impediment in the early and proper discharge of their assigned duties.  Their locations were spaced by about twenty miles, and in most cases homesteads located near lakes were designated as such.  Here mail carriers and other weary travelers, becoming too fatigued to continue farther, could pause and rest, and then continue on their way.

1) Moose Lake is near Wanebo Road in the Moquah Barrens.
2) Loon Lake is east of Iron River.
3) Buskey Bay and Spider Lake are popular destinations south of Iron River.

Leaving Bayfield, the first stopping place was at Moose Lake and the second at Loon Lake.  These two places were located between Iron River and Bayfield, somewhere in the “Barrens.”  The third stop was at Spider Lake.  Here lived “Old Michel Buskey,” original trail blazer.  His sunny disposition led to the designation of his cheery home as one of the stopping places; and for many years, not only the mail carriers, but many other weary travelers enjoyed the hospitality rendered by this family.

4) Island Lake is north of Barnes.
5) Bayfield Road leads to Gordon and the Saint Croix River.  Read the comments section of Oshogay for further details.

Leaving this place the next stopping place was at Island Lake, near Barnes of today.  The next or fifth stop was at Gordon considered the crossroad of the country.  Here the traveler usually made an over-night-stop, and enjoyed the hospitality of the village founder, Antoine Gordon.

John George Allen Morrison was the son of Allen Morrison, Sr. and nephew of William Morrison.  John signed the 1863 Treaty at Old Crossing and 1864 Treaty at Washington DC, and became Chief of Police at White Earth.
6) Yellow Lake is near where Albert McEwen was found murdered.
7) Saint Croix Falls.

From Gordon the road continued in a southwesterly direction until it reach near where the Namakagon empties into the St. Croix River.  Here John Morrison, the grandfather of the Odanah Morrison, maintained a small hostelry for the accommodation of the traveling public for years.  From there the road continued on to Yellow Lake, where another stopping place was located, then the road continued on to St. Croix Falls, where the traffic was ferried across the St. Croix, thence continuing on to St. Paul.

The road was not turnpiked as are the roads of today, but deep gullies and ravines were bridged with stout timbers and lumber, strong enough to bear the heavier armament of the United States Army in the event it became necessary to use the road for the transportation of army equipment.


 

Reel 1, Envelope 12, Item 3.

EARLY EXPERIENCE

Statement of Joseph Bell, [90?] yrs.
Interviewed by Dan Morrison.

I am in no position to give you much of a story that anyone would care to read, as I am not educated.  During my childhood days we did not have the opportunity of going to school that the children now have, and all that I know is what I picked up myself.  I have a few things in mind, however, that may be of interest to the present and succeeding generations, pertaining to some old people who were brought up at La Pointe on Madeline Island.

Antoine Gordon from Noble Lives of a Noble Race (pg. 207) published by the St. Mary’s Industrial School in Odanah.

Portrait of Antoine Gordon from Noble Lives of a Noble Race by St. Mary’s Industrial School (Odanah), page 207.

I will tell you about William Gordon’s father raised on Madeline Island, who belongs ot the Lake Superior Band of Chippewa Indians.  In the very early days when the United States Government caused roads to be built for the purpose of opening up the country, one of the first roads to be constructed ran from Bayfield to Eau Claire Lakes.  This road opened up a vast section of the country, and when new roads were built in those times, people, as a rule, followed in quest for new locations and homes.  William Gordon’s [illegible] father did just this.  He followed the road from the starting point at Bayfield, running south for some distance, thence west to what they call Moose Lake.  This was known as the first station and stopping place.  The second station or stopping place was Moon Lake.  The third station was at Spider Lake, known now as Silver Lake.  The fourth place was Gordon’s, where William Gordon’s father settled.  The present town of Gordon represents the first settlement of William Gordon’s father.  The fifth stopping place was Yellow River; the sixth, Grantsburg and the seventh, was St. Croix Falls.  This was the last stopping place as far as I remember.

1820 Cass Schoolcraft

The 1820 Cass-Schoolcraft expedition mapped the “Great Trail to the Folle Avoines Country”  beginning at the mouth of the Sioux River.
~ Narrative journal of travels from Detroit northwest through the great chain of American lakes to the sources of the Mississippi River in the year 1820, by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, page 105.

As I said before, these roads opened up a beautiful section of the country, full of wild game, plenty of fur-bearing animals, with many lakes and rivers where fishing was at its best.  one could easily make a good living by hunting and trapping, and there was always plenty to eat.  Many of the Indians who lived at La Pointe on Madeline Island left the island, following the direction of the newly constructed road.  Though they were members of the La Pointe Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa, many remained in the new settlements, and the Indians remaining along the St. Croix River and other adjacent places finally lost their identity on the La Pointe Band and were later known as the “Lost Tribe.”

My great grandfather told me that the Chippewa lived on the south side of Lake St. Croix and the Sioux Indians lived on the north side, both claiming ownership of the St. Croix River.  The question of full right of the St. Croix River kindled a feeling of animosity between the two tribes, and failing to arrive at any suitable agreement, war was declared between them, the aim of which was to settle the ownership of the river once and for all.  In these encounters the Chippewa conquered the Sioux, driving them out of the country entirely.  In their retreat, the Sioux followed a westerly direction, finally stopping where the city of St. Paul stands today.

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

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

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

INDIAN RECORDS.

Kundickan autobiography

Autobiography of Okandikan

Autobiography of Kundickan, a Chippeway Indian.

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

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

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

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

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

picto2

2

picto1

1

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

picto4

4

picto3

3

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

picto5

5

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

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

By Amorin Mello

A curious series of correspondences from Morgan

… continued from Copper Harbor Redux.

 


 

1845 daily union header

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

August 29, 1845.

EDITOR’S CORRESPONDENCE.

[From our regular correspondent.]

ST. LOUIS, Mo.  Aug. 19, 1845.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Father Antoine "Louis" Hennepin ~ Wikipedia.org

Father Antoine “Louis” Hennepin
~ Wikipedia.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who were these plagiarizers?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

MORGAN.

 


 

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

The End.

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

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

Roderick MacKenzie (Wikimedia Commons)

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

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

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

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

[pg. 49-56]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[pg. 75-76]

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

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

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

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

By Leo Filipczak

Chief Buffalo died at La Pointe on September 7, 1855 amid the festivities and controversy surrounding that year’s annuity payment.  Just before his death, he converted to the Catholic faith, and thus was buried inside the fence of the Catholic cemetery rather than outside with the Ojibwe people who kept traditional religious practices.   

His death was noted by multiple written sources at the time, but none seemed to really dive into the motives and symbolism behind his conversion.  This invited speculation from later scholars, and I’ve heard and proposed a number of hypotheses about why Buffalo became Catholic.

Now, a newly uncovered document, from a familiar source, reveals new information.  And while it may diminish the symbolic impact of Buffalo’s conversion, it gives further insight into an important man whose legend sometimes overshadows his life.

Buffalo’s Obituary

The most well-known account of Buffalo’s death is from an obituary that appeared in newspapers across the country.  It was also recorded in the essay, The Chippewas of Lake Superior, by Dr. Richard F. Morse, who was an eyewitness to the 1855 payment.

While it’s not entirely clear if it was Morse himself who wrote the obituary, he seems to be a likely candidate.  Much like the rest of Chippewas of Lake Superior, the obituary is riddled with the inaccuracies and betrays an unfamiliarity with La Pointe society:


 

From Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Volume 3 (Digitized by Google Books)


 

It isn’t hard to understand how this obituary could invite several interpretations, especially when combined with other sources of the era and the biases of 20th and 21st-century investigators (myself included) who are always looking for a symbolic or political explanation.

Here, we will evaluate these interpretations.

Was Buffalo sending a message to the Ojibwe about the future?

The obituary states, “No tongue like Buffalo’s could control and direct the different bands.”  An easy interpretation might suggest that he was trying to send a message that assimilation to white culture was the way of the future, and that all the Ojibwe should follow his lead.  We do see suggestions in the writings of Henry Schoolcraft and William Warren that might support this conclusion.

The problem with this interpretation is that no Ojibwe leader, not even Buffalo, had that level of influence.  Even if he wanted to, which would have been completely contrary to Ojibwe tolerance of religious pluralism, he could not have pulled a Henry VIII and converted his whole nation.  

In fact, by 1855, Buffalo’s influence was at an all-time low.  Recent scholarship has countered the image crafted by Benjamin Armstrong and others, of a chief whose trip to Washington and leadership through the Treaty of 1854 made him more powerful in his final years. Consider this 1852 depiction in Wagner and Scherzer’s Reisen in Nordamerika:

…Here we have the hereditary Chippewa chief, whose generations (totem) are carved in the ancient birch bark,** giving us profuse thanks for just a modest silver coin and a piece of dry cloth. What time can bring to a ruler!

So, did Buffalo decide in the last days of his life that Christianity was superior to traditional ways?

The reason why the obituary and other contemporary sources don’t go into the reasons for Buffalo’s conversion was because they hold the implicit assumption that Christianity is the one true religion.  Few 19th-century American readers would be asking why someone would convert. It was a given.  160 years later, we don’t make this assumption anymore, but it should be explored whether or not this was purely a religious decision on Buffalo’s part.

I have a difficult time believing this.  Buffalo had nearly 100 years to convert to Christianity if he’d wanted to.  The traditional Ojibwe, in general, were extremely resistant to conversion, and there are several  sources depicting Buffalo as a leader in the Midewiwin.  This continuation of the above quote from Wagner and Scherzer shows Buffalo’s relationship to those who felt the Ojibwe needed Christianity.   

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

Accounts like this suggest a political rather than a spiritual motive.

So, did Buffalo’s convert for political rather than spiritual reasons?

Some have tied Buffalo’s conversion to a split in the La Pointe Band after the Treaty of 1854, and it’s important to remember all the heated factional divisions that rose up during the 1855 payment.  Until recently, my personal interpretation would have been that Buffalo’s conversion represented a final break with Blackbird and the other Bad River chiefs.  Perhaps Buffalo felt alienated from most of the traditional Ojibwe after he found himself in the minority over the issue of debt payments.  His final speech was short, and reveals disappointment and exasperation on the part of the aged leader.  

By the time of his death, most of his remaining followers, including the mix-blooded Ojibwe of La Pointe, and several of his children were Catholic, while most Ojibwe remained traditional. Perhaps there was additional jealousy over clauses in the treaty that gave Buffalo a separate reservation at Red Cliff and an additional plot of land.  We see hints of this division in the obituary when an unidentified Ojibwe man blames the government for Buffalo’s death.  This all could be seen as a separation forming between a Catholic Red Cliff and a traditional Bad River. 

This interpretation would be perfect if it wasn’t grossly oversimplified.  The division didn’t just happen in 1854.  The La Pointe Band had always really been several bands.  Those, like Buffalo’s, that were most connected to the mix-bloods and traders stayed on the Island more, and the others stayed at Bad River more.  Still, there were Catholics at Bad River, and traditional Ojibwe on the Island.  This dynamic and Buffalo’s place in it, were well-established.  He did not have to convert to be with the “Catholic” faction.  He had been in it for years.

Some have questioned whether Buffalo really converted at all.  From a political point of view, one could say his conversion was really a show for Commissioner Manypenny to counter Blackbird’s pants (read this post if you don’t know what I’m talking about).  I see that as overly cynical and out of character for Buffalo.  I also don’t think he was ignorant of what conversion meant.  He understood the gravity of what he was deciding, and being a ninety-year-old chief, I don’t think he would have felt pressured to please anyone.

So if it wasn’t symbolic, political, or religious zeal, why did Buffalo convert?

 

The Kohl article

As he documented the 1855 payment, Richard Morse’s ethnocentric values prevented any meaningful understanding of Ojibwe culture.  However, there was another white outsider present at La Pointe that summer who did attempt to understand Ojibwe people as fellow human beings.  He had come all the way from Germany.

The name of Johann Georg Kohl will be familiar to many readers who know his work Kitchi-Gami:  Wanderings Around Lake Superior (1860).  Kohl’s desire to truly know and respect the people giving him information left us with what I consider the best anthropological writing ever done on this part of the world.

My biggest complaint with Kohl is that he typically doesn’t identify people by name.  Maangozid, Gezhiiyaash, and Zhingwaakoons show up in his work, but he somehow manages to record Blackbird’s speech without naming the Bad River chief.  In over 100 pages about life at La Pointe in 1855, Buffalo isn’t mentioned at all.  

So, I was pretty excited to find an untranslated 1859 article from Kohl on Google Books in a German-language weekly. The journal, Das Ausland, is a collection of writings that a would describe as ethnographic with a missionary bent.  

I was even more excited as I put it through Google Translate and realized it discussed Buffalo’s final summer and conversion.  It has to go out to the English-speaking world.    

So without further ado, here is the first seven paragraphs of Remarks on the Conversion of the Canadian Indians and some Stories of Conversion by Johann Kohl.  I apologize for any errors arising from the electronic translation. I don’t speak German and I can only hope that someone who does will see this and translate the entire article.  


 

 

J. G. Kohl (Wikimedia Images)

Das Ausland.

Eine Wochenschrift

fur

Kunde des geistigen und sittlichen Lebens der Völker

[The Foreign Lands:  A weekly for scholars of the moral and intellectual lives of foreign nations]

Nr. 2 8 January 1859

Remarks on the Conversion of the Canadian Indians and some Stories of Conversion

By J.G. Kohl

A few years ago, when I was on “La Pointe,” one of the so-called “Apostle Islands” in the western corner of the great Lake Superior, there still lived the old chief of the local Indians, the Chippeway or Ojibbeway people, named “Buffalo,” a man “of nearly a hundred years.” He himself was still a pagan, but many of his children, grandchildren and closest relatives, were already Christians.

I was told that even the aged old Buffalo himself “ébranlé [was shaking]”, and they told me his state of mind was fluctuating. “He thinks highly of the Christian religion,” they told me, “It’s not right to him that he and his family be of a different faith. He is afraid that he will be separated in death. He knows he will not be near them, and that not only his body should be brought to another cemetery, but also he believes his spirit shall go into another paradise away from his children.”

But Buffalo was the main representative of his people, the living embodiment, so to speak, of the old traditions and stories of his tribe, which once ranged over not only the whole group of the Apostle Islands, but also far and wide across the hunting grounds of the mainland of northern Wisconsin. His ancestors and his family, “the Totem of the Loons” (from the diver)* make claim to be the most distinguished chiefly family of the Ojibbeways.  Indeed, they believe that from them and their village a far-reaching dominion once reached across all the tribes of the Ojibbeway Nation.  In a word, a kind of monarchy existed with them at the center.

(*The Loon, or Diver, is a well-known large North American bird).

Old Buffalo, or Le Boeuf, as the French call him, or Pishiki, his Indian name, was like the last reflection of the long-vanished glory.  He was stuck too deep in the old superstition.  He was too intertwined with the Medä Order, the Wabanos, and the Jossakids, or priesthood, of his people.  A conversion to Christianity would have destroyed his influence in a still mostly-pagan tribe.  It would have been the equivalent of voluntarily stepping down from the throne he previously had.  Therefore, in spite of his “doubting” state of mind, he could not decide to accept the act of baptism.

One evening, I visited old Buffalo in his bark lodge, and found in him grayed and stooped by the years, but nevertheless still quite a sprightly old man. Who knows what kind of fate he had as an old Indian chief on Lake Superior, passing his whole life near the Sioux, trading with the North West Company, with the British and later with the Americans. With the Wabanos and Jossakids (priests and sorcerers) he conjured for his people, and communed with the sky, but here people would call him an “old sinner.”

But still, due to his advanced age I harbored a certain amount of respect for him myself.  He took me in, so kindly, and never forgot even afterwards, promising to remember my visit, as if it had been an honor for him. He told me much of the old glory of his tribe, of the origin of his people, and of his religion from the East.  I gave him tobacco, and he, much more generously,gave me a beautiful fife. I later learned from the newspapers that my old host, being ill, and soon after my departure from the island, he departed from this earth. I was seized by a genuine sorrow and grieved for him. Those papers, however, reported a certain cause for consolation, in that Buffalo had said on his deathbed, he desired to be buried in a Christian way.  He had therefore received Christianity and the Lord’s Supper, shortly before his death, from the Catholic missionaries, both with the last rites of the Church, and with a church funeral and burial in the Catholic cemetery, where in addition to those already resting, his family would be buried.

The story and the end of the old Buffalo are not unique. Rather, it was something rather common for the ancient pagan to proceed only on his death-bed to Christianity, and it starts not with the elderly adults on their deathbeds, but with their Indian families beginning with their young children. The parents are then won over by the children. For the children, while they are young and largely without religion, the betrayal of the old gods and laws is not so great. Therefore, the parents give allow it more easily. You yourself are probably already convinced that there is something fairly good behind Christianity, and that their children “could do quite well.” They desire for their children to attain the blessing of the great Christian God and therefore often lead them to the missionaries, although they themselves may not decide to give up their own ingrained heathen beliefs.  The Christians, therefore, also prefer to first contact the youth, and know well that if they have this first, the parents will follow sooner or later because they will not long endure the idea that they are separated from their children in the faith. Because they believe that baptism is “good medicine” for the children, they bring them very often to the missionaries when they are sick…

Das Ausland: Wochenschrift für Länder- u. Völkerkunde, Volumes 31-32.  Only about a quarter of the article is translated above.  The remaining pages largely consist of Kohl’s observations on the successes and failures of missionary efforts based on real anecdotes.

Conclusion

According to Johann Kohl, who knew Buffalo, the chief’s conversion wasn’t based on politics or any kind of belief that Ojibwe culture and religion was inferior.  Buffalo converted because he wanted to be united with his family in death.  This may make the conversion less significant from a historical perspective, but it helps us understand the man himself.  For that reason, this is the most important document yet about the end of the great chief’s long life.

  

 

Sources:
Armstrong, Benj G., and Thomas P. Wentworth. Early Life among the Indians:  Reminiscences from the Life of Benj. G. Armstrong : Treaties of 1835, 1837, 1842 and 1854 : Habits and Customs of the Red Men of the Forest : Incidents, Biographical Sketches, Battles, &c. Ashland, WI: Press of A.W. Bowron, 1892. Print.
Kohl, J. G. Kitchi-Gami: Wanderings round Lake Superior. London: Chapman and Hall, 1860. Print.
Loew, Patty. Indian Nations of Wisconsin: Histories of Endurance and Renewal.  Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society, 2001. Print.
McElroy, Crocket.  “An Indian Payment.”  Americana v.5.  American Historical Company, American Historical Society, National Americana Society Publishing Society of New York, 1910 (Digitized by Google Books) pages 298-302.
Morse, Richard F. “The Chippewas of Lake Superior.” Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. Ed. Lyman C. Draper. Vol. 3. Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1857. 338-69. Print.
Paap, Howard D. Red Cliff, Wisconsin: A History of an Ojibwe Community. St. Cloud, MN: North Star, 2013. Print.
Satz, Ronald N. Chippewa Treaty Rights: The Reserved Rights of Wisconsin’s Chippewa Indians in Historical Perspective. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters, 1991. 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, and Seth Eastman. Historical and Statistical Information Respecting the History, Condition, and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Collected and Prepared under the Direction of the Bureau of Indian Affairs per Act of Congress of March 3rd, 1847. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo, 1851. Print.
Wagner, Moritz, and Karl Von Scherzer. Reisen in Nordamerika in Den Jahren 1852 Und 1853. Leipzig: Arnold, 1854. Print.
Warren, William W., and Theresa M. Schenck. History of the Ojibway People. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 2009. Print.

 

PerraultCurotMalhoitNelson

Click to enlarge (it can only be read when the image is full size).

UPDATE MAY 16, 2014: This map is updated with additional names from John Sayer’s journal in this post.

I’ve been getting lazy, lately, writing all my posts about the 1850s and later.  It’s easy to find sources about that because they are everywhere, and many are being digitized in an archival format.  It takes more work to write a relevant post about the earlier eras of Chequamegon History.  The sources are sparse, scattered, and the ones that are digitized or published have largely been picked over and examined by other researchers.  However, that’s no excuse.  Those earlier periods are certainly as interesting as the mid-19th Century. I needed to just jump in and do a project of some sort.

I’m someone who needs to know the names and personalities involved to truly wrap my head around a history.  I’ve never been comfortable making inferences and generalizations unless I have a good grasp of the specific.  This doesn’t become easy in the Lake Superior country until after the Cass Expedition in 1820.

But what about a generation earlier?

The dawn of the 19th-century was a dynamic time for our region.  The fur trade was booming under the British North West Company.  The Ojibwe were expanding in all directions, especially to west, and many of familiar French surnames that are so common in the area arrived with Canadian and Ojibwe mix-blooded voyageurs.  Admittedly, the pages of the written record around 1800 are filled with violence and alcohol, but that shouldn’t make one lose track of the big picture.  Right or wrong, sustainable or not, this was a time of prosperity for many.  I say this from having read numerous later nostalgic accounts from old chiefs and voyageurs about this golden age.

We can meet some of the bigger characters of this era in the pages of William W. Warren and Henry Schoolcraft.  In them, men like Mamaangazide (Mamongazida “Big Feet”) and Michel Cadotte of La Pointe, Beyazhig (Pay-a-jick “Lone Man) of St. Croix, and Giishkiman (Keeshkemun “Sharpened Stone”) of Lac du Flambeau become titans, covered with glory in trade, war, and influence.  However, there are issues with these accounts.  These two authors, and their informants, are prone toward glorifying their own family members. Considering that Schoolcraft’s (his mother-in law, Ozhaawashkodewike) and Warren’s (Flat Mouth, Buffalo, Madeline and Michel Cadotte Jr., Jean Baptiste Corbin, etc.) informants were alive and well into adulthood by 1800, we need to keep things in perspective.

The nature of Ojibwe leadership wasn’t different enough in that earlier era to allow for a leader with any more coercive power than that of the chiefs in 1850s.  Mamaangazide and his son Waabojiig may have racked up great stories and prestige in hunting and war, but their stature didn’t get them rich, didn’t get them out of performing the same seasonal labors as the other men in the band, and didn’t guarantee any sort of power for their descendants.  In the pages of contemporary sources, the titans of Warren and Schoolcraft are men.

Finally, it should be stated that 1800 is comparatively recent.  Reading the journals and narratives of the Old North West Company can make one feel completely separate from the American colonization of the Chequamegon Region in the 1840s and ’50s.  However, they were written at a time when the Americans had already claimed this area for over a decade.  In fact, the long knife Zebulon Pike reached Leech Lake only a year after Francois Malhoit traded at Lac du Flambeau.

The Project

I decided that if I wanted to get serious about learning about this era, I had to know who the individuals were. The most accessible place to start would be four published fur-trade journals and narratives:  those of Jean Baptiste Perrault (1790s), George Nelson (1802-1804), Michel Curot (1803-1804), and Francois Malhoit (1804-1805).

The reason these journals overlap in time is that these years were the fiercest for competition between the North West Company and the upstart XY Company of Sir Alexander MacKenzie.  Both the NWC traders (such as Perrault and Malhoit) and the XY traders (Nelson and Curot) were expected to keep meticulous records during these years.

I’d looked at some of these journals before and found them to be fairly dry and lacking in big-picture narrative history.  They mostly just chronicle the daily transactions of the fur posts.  However, they do frequently mention individual Ojibwe people by name, something that can be lacking in other primary records.  My hope was that these names could be connected to bands and villages and then be cross-referenced with Warren and Schoolcraft to fill in some of the bigger story. As the project took shape, it took the form of a map with lots of names on it.  I recorded every Ojibwe person by name and located them in the locations where they met the traders, unless they are mentioned specifically as being from a particular village other than where they were trading.

I started with Perrault’s Narrative and tried to record all the names the traders and voyageurs mentioned as well.  As they were mobile and much less identified with particular villages, I decided this wasn’t worth it.  However, because this is Chequamegon History, I thought I should at least record those “Frenchmen” (in quotes because they were British subjects, some were English speakers, and some were mix-bloods who spoke Ojibwe as a first language) who left their names in our part of the world.  So, you’ll see Cadotte, Charette, Corbin, Roy, Dufault (DeFoe), Gauthier (Gokee), Belanger, Godin (Gordon), Connor, Bazinet (Basina), Soulierre, and other familiar names where they were encountered in the journals.  I haven’t tried to establish a complete genealogy for either, but I believe Perrault (Pero) and Malhoit (Mayotte) also have names that are still with us.

For each of the names on the map, I recorded the narrative or journal they appeared in:

JBP=  Jean Baptiste Perrault

GN=  George Nelson

MC=  Michel Curot

FM=  Francois Malhoit

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Red Lake-Pembina area:  By this time, the Ojibwe had started to spread far beyond the Lake Superior forests and into the western prairies.  Perrault speaks of the Pillagers (Leech Lake Band) being absent from their villages because they had gone to hunt buffalo in the west.  Vincent Roy Sr. and his sons later settled at La Pointe, but their family maintained connections in the Canadian borderlands.  Jean Baptiste Cadotte Jr. was the brother of Michel Cadotte (Gichi-Mishen), the famous La Pointe trader.

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Leech Lake and Sandy Lake area:  The names that jump out at me here are La Brechet or Gaa-dawaabide (Broken Tooth), the great Loon-clan chief from Sandy Lake (son of Bayaaswaa mentioned in this post) and Loon’s Foot (Maangozid).  The Maangozid we know as the old speaker and medicine man from Fond du Lac (read this post) was the son of Gaa-dawaabide.  He would have been a teenager or young man at the time Perrault passed through Sandy Lake.

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Fond du Lac and St. Croix: Augustin Belanger and Francois Godin had descendants that settled at La Pointe and Red Cliff.  Jean Baptiste Roy was the father of Vincent Roy Sr.  I don’t know anything about Big Marten and Little Marten of Fond du Lac or Little Wolf of the St. Croix portage, but William Warren writes extensively about the importance of the Marten Clan and Wolf Clan in those respective bands.  Bayezhig (Pay-a-jick) is a celebrated warrior in Warren and Giishkiman (Kishkemun) is credited by Warren with founding the Lac du Flambeau village.  Buffalo of the St. Croix lived into the 1840s. I wrote about his trip to Washington in this post.

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Lac Courte Oreilles and Chippewa River:  Many of the men mentioned at LCO by Perrault are found in Warren.  Little (Petit) Michel Cadotte was a cousin of the La Pointe trader, Big (Gichi/La Grande) Michel Cadotte.  The “Red Devil” appears in Schoolcraft’s account of 1831.  The old, respected Lac du Flambeau chief Giishkiman appears in several villages in these journals.  As the father of Keenestinoquay and father-in-law of Simon Charette, a fur-trade power couple, he traded with Curot and Nelson who worked with Charette in the XY Company.

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La Pointe:  Unfortunately, none of the traders spent much time at La Pointe, but they all mention Michel Cadotte as being there.  The family of Gros Pied (Mamaangizide, “Big Feet”) the father of Waabojiig, opened up his lodge to Perrault when the trader was waylaid by weather.  According to Schoolcraft and Warren, the old war chief had fought for the French on the Plains of Abraham in 1759. 

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Lac du Flambeau:  Malhoit records many of the same names in Lac du Flambeau that Nelson met on the Chippewa River.  Simon Charette claimed much of the trade in this area.  Mozobodo and “Magpie” (White Crow), were his brothers-in-law.  Since I’ve written so much about chiefs named Buffalo, I should point out that there’s an outside chance Le Taureau (presumably another Bizhiki) could be the famous Chief Buffalo of La Pointe.

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L’Anse, Ontonagon, and Lac Vieux Desert:  More Cadottes and Roys, but otherwise I don’t know much about these men.

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At Mackinac and the Soo, Perrault encountered a number of names that either came from “The West,” or would find their way there in later years.  “Cadotte” is probably Jean Baptiste Sr., the father of “Great” Michel Cadotte of La Pointe.

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Malhoit meets Jean Baptiste Corbin at Kaministiquia.  Corbin worked for Michel Cadotte and traded at Lac Courte Oreilles for decades.  He was likely picking up supplies for a return to Wisconsin.  Kaministiquia was the new headquarters of the North West Company which could no longer base itself south of the American line at Grand Portage.

Initial Conclusions 

There are many stories that can be told from the people listed in these maps.  They will have to wait for future posts, because this one only has space to introduce the project.  However, there are two important concepts that need to be mentioned.  Neither are new, but both are critical to understanding these maps:

1)  There is a great potential for misidentifying people.

Any reading of the fur-trade accounts and attempts to connect names across sources needs to consider the following:

  • English names are coming to us from Ojibwe through French.  Names are mistranslated or shortened.
  • Ojibwe names are rendered in French orthography, and are not always transliterated correctly.
  • Many Ojibwe people had more than one name, had nicknames, or were referenced by their father’s names or clan names rather than their individual names.
  • Traders often nicknamed Ojibwe people with French phrases that did not relate to their Ojibwe names.
  • Both Ojibwe and French names were repeated through the generations.  One should not assume a name is always unique to a particular individual.

So, if you see a name you recognize, be careful to verify it’s reall  the person you’re thinking of.  Likewise, if you don’t see a name you’d expect to, don’t assume it isn’t there.

2)  When talking about Ojibwe bands, kinship is more important than physical location.

In the later 1800s, we are used to talking about distinct entities called the “St. Croix Band” or “Lac du Flambeau Band.”  This is a function of the treaties and reservations.  In 1800, those categories are largely meaningless.  A band is group made up of a few interconnected families identified in the sources by the names of their chiefs:  La Grand Razeur’s village, Kishkimun’s Band, etc.  People and bands move across large areas and have kinship ties that may bind them more closely to a band hundreds of miles away than to the one in the next lake over.

I mapped here by physical geography related to trading posts, so the names tend to group up.  However, don’t assume two people are necessarily connected because they’re in the same spot on the map.

On a related note, proximity between villages should always be measured in river miles rather than actual miles.

Going Forward

I have some projects that could spin out of these maps, but for now, I’m going to set them aside.  Please let me know if you see anything here that you think is worth further investigation.

 

Sources:
Curot, Michel. A Wisconsin Fur Trader’s Journal, 1803-1804. Edited by Reuben Gold Thwaites. Wisconsin Historical Collections, vol. XX: 396-472, 1911.
Malhoit, Francois V. “A Wisconsin Fur Trader’s Journal, 1804-05.” Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. Ed. Reuben Gold Thwaites. Vol. 19. Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1910. 163-225. Print.
Nelson, George, Laura L. Peers, and Theresa M. Schenck. My First Years in the Fur Trade: The Journals of 1802-1804. St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society, 2002. Print.
Perrault, Jean Baptiste. Narrative of The Travels And Adventures Of A Merchant Voyager In The Savage Territories Of Northern America Leaving Montreal The 28th of May 1783 (to 1820) ed. and Introduction by, John Sharpless Fox. Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections. vol. 37. Lansing: Wynkoop, Hallenbeck, Crawford Co., 1900.
Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe. Information Respecting The History,Condition And Prospects OF The Indian Tribes Of The United States. Illustrated by Capt. S. Eastman. Published by the Authority of Congress. Part III. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo & Company, 1953.
Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe, and Philip P. Mason. Expedition to Lake Itasca; the Discovery of the Source of the Mississippi. East Lansing: Michigan State UP, 1958. Print.
Warren, William W., and Theresa M. Schenck. History of the Ojibway People. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 2009. Print.