By Amorin Mello

The following is a reproduction of “objections to Julius Austrian’s mail contract business (May 27, 1855)”  from a Minnesota Historical Society collection of United States Post Office correspondences known as Selected items relating to Minnesota, 1855-1861.  This is a classic example of how primary sources sources and historians tend to either honor, abhor, or ignore Julius Austrian at La Pointe.  The petition was not included, but it will be reproduced here if it can be found.

Whittlesey, La-pointe Co.,

Wisconsin.  May 21st, 1855

Horatio King

To the Hon. Horatio King,

First Asst. Postmaster General, D.C.

Julius Austrian had been Postmaster of the La Pointe mail route since at least 1851 or earlier, as documented in his brother Joseph Austrian’s memoir.
The illiterate Frenchmen (Mixed Blood Chippewas) gave their names  by granting Power of attorney to Julius Austrian.  This is the same extralegal arrangement that would be used by Austrian to place Mixed Blood Allotments onto the Penokee Hills and establish the La Pointe Iron Company.

Dear Sir: In addition to this petition, we would respectfully call your attention to a brief history of the base intrigues of Julius Austrian, the Jew, who now holds the contract for carrying the mail on route 13780.  Heretofore there have been but few whites, that is, Yankees living upon the Island, most of the residents being halfbreeds, French and Indians.  These people never have much interest in mail matters and consequently care very little whether Mr. Austrian carries the mail regularly or not.  Indeed they cannot read a letter if they should receive one and therefore have no interest in such things.  Now whenever Mr. Austrian wishes to effect an alteration in mail matters, he goes to these illiterate Frenchmen, gets them to sign something they hardly know what, but he gets their names and these, with his unprincipled misrepresentations, are the instruments and means by which he accomplished his selfish ends.  Those who are most interested in mails, our merchants and other business men, who of course would oppose his measures, know nothing of this until the change is made, and the “Jew” triumphantly announces to them, that by his influence at Washington he has effected this or that change, a change in which those most interested and most effected, could have no voice.  The change of the mail route, via St. Croix, to via Fon-Du-Lac, was accomplished in this manner; the route was perfectly satisfactory to those most interested, as it was, and they knew nothing about it until it was done.  The change he has effected this winter, while at Washington, was brought about very much in the same manner, it does not meet the wants of the public.

Julius Austrian
~ Madeline Island Museum

Besides all this, he does not fulfil his present contract, and if anyone complains, he very insolently tells them, if they do not like the mail arrangements they can leave the place.  The 11th of May we received a mail from Fon-dulac, how cheering to know that we must wait one month ere we could have another mail.  Well, the people were indignant at such treatment, they resolved to use their utmost exertions to break up such a state of things – as soon as the “Jew” found out the indignant feelings that were among the people, he immediately dispatched a mail to Fon-du-lac, and one to Ontonagon on the 16th of May, which we believe is not in accordance with contract which he now holds, it should have left Lapointe June 5th or 8th.  No one was prepared to send letters, supposing that the mail was not to go out until the last named date, consequently no good was accomplished by this irregular and untoward way of doing business.  His object in this undoubtedly was to arrest our action upon the matter, by giving us to understand, that we were to have the usual privileges of mail, and as soon as our indignation had a little subsided, to do as he pleased again.

The Ashland/Whittlesey Post Office was formed via a separate petition on March 12th, 1855, as featured in Asaph Whittlesey Incidents: Number IV.

Now what we want is to give you such an insight into his doings as will forever destroy his influence at the P. O. Dept.  We are tired of his underhand intrigues and disgusted with his mean duplicity.  It is hard to think that the only means of doing our business correspondence and communicating with our friends can be enjoyed but twelve times a year and all through the means of an unprincipled “Jew”.  We therefore respectfully ask and sincerely hope that if the Dept. can find sufficient evidence that he has broken his contract and other misdemeanors which we know him to be guilty of, they will transfer the carrying of the mail to Wm. E. Vantassle, Esq., who is a respectable man, a good citizen and every way worthy of the trust, and you will thereby illicit the gratitude of your fellow countrymen.

Unanimously approved and adopted at our indignation meeting held at Ashland Whittlesey P.O.

C. A. Rollins, Chairman.

A. W. Burtt, Secretary.