By Amorin Mello

… continued from Number IV.

EARLY RECOLLECTIONS OF ASHLAND.

“OF WHICH I WAS A PART.”

Number V

Mr. Dear Press: – As has been already stated, the land on which Ashland now stands, had not, at the time of its first settlement, in 1854, been surveyed.  The town lines had only been laying off the country into blocks six miles square.

Detail from Sketch of the Public Surveys in Wisconsin and Territory of Minnesota by the Surveyor General’s Office, Dubuque, Oct. 21, 1854 as presented in Senate Executive Document No. 1, 34th Congress, 1st Session.
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

When the settlers made their claims, as most of us did, near the town lines, we were able, by the use of pocket compasses approximately to fix the boundaries of our claims.  But no title could be obtained, nor even any safe foundation for a title laid, until the lands should be subdivided into sections, and the returns of that survey made to the Surveyor General’s Office, and by that officer platted or mapped, and then plats and notes sent to the General Land Office at Washington, and from there transmitted to the Local Land office.  At that date the local office was at the town of Hudson, on Lake St. Croix, two hundred miles away.  But early in 1855 an office was established at Superior, at the west end of the Lake, – and though this was nearly a hundred miles from Ashland, – with no roads, compelling settlers in summer to cost in open boats, and winter to walk this distance.  Still it was a very great favor to settlers here, and greatly lessened their hardships, and facilitated the acquisition of their lands.

Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota, then were embraced in one Surveyor’s District, with the office at Dubuque, Iowa.  It was the duty of the Surveyor General to provide for the details of the Government Surveys in his district, as fast as the settlement of the country might require.  Gen’l Warner Lewis was then Surveyor General of this District.

Detail of Ashland City, LaPointe County, from the Barber Brother’s survey during the Joel Allen Barber Papers: Summer of 1855.

These memoirs are classic examples of Edwin Ellis, M.D. writing in the third person when crediting himself for achievements during Ashland’s early days.

No steps having been taken or any order given for the survey of the shore of Chequamegon Bay, in June 1855, Dr. Ellis left in an open boat for Superior, then on foot through the wilderness to St. Paul, following not far from the route over which many years later was constructed the Lake Superior & Mississippi R.R., – then by boat down the river to Dubuque.  The situation of our affairs and the people of an early settlement here induced Gen. Lewis to order an immediate subdivision of Towns 47 and 48, North of Range 4 and 5 West, both sides of our bay, and all the lands on which squatters had settled.

Early in September of that year, (1855), Augustus H. Barber began the survey, and pushed the work rapidly, so that he had completed 47 and 48 of Range 4 in October, and the returns had been made and plats prepared and forwarded to the local land office by the first of December.

Joel Allen Barber Papers:
Spring of 1856

Last known letter from Augustus

“There is a conspiracy, or combination of old preemptors here who have no right to make claims.  Their object is to secure each member a claim on the North shore, and to drive off and keep off by knives and pistols any who may wish to make legal preemptions on the lands they choose to appropriate to themselves.
There may be some fighting up here this season and there is certain to be considerable laming before the business is settled.  Let ‘em rip.
“I can send half a dozen to Jehanum in about as many seconds, but don’t want to do it & will avoid trouble if possible but butcher knife companies must not meddle with any claim when I have made one.

The Pre-emptors now, for the first time, could file claims to their lands and receive assurance that they were likely to be the owners of their homes.

During December many pre-emption claims were filed, and during the closing days of the year and in the first days of 1856, quite a number proved up those claims and received duplicates, upon which patents were afterwards issued.  These were the earliest titles to the present site of Ashland.  Unlike many towns in the West at that period our site was not cursed with complicating claims, and it is cause for congratulations that Ashland property has no cloud upon its title and that every buyer may, with little trouble, assure himself of this fact.  The title to a portion of the site of Superior was bitterly contested involving years of delay and thousands of dollars of cost and much acrimony of feeling; and it is possible that this may have had its influence in carrying the railroad to Duluth rather than to Superior.  Quarrels over title are a curse to any town, especially a new one.

“IN MEMORY OF AUGUSTUS H. BARBER of Cambridge, Vt. U.S. Deputy Surveyor who was drowned in Montreal River
Apr. 22. A.D. 1856
Aged 24 yrs. & 8 ms.”
~ FindAGrave.com

Of Augustus Barber the early Surveyor of this vicinity, who is unknown to a larger part of this generation, a few words ought to be said:

He was a native of Vermont of an excellent family.  At this time he was about 22 years of age, well educated, gentle as a Lady, refined and easy in his manners and very amiable in his temper.  Like many other young men from the east, of active and enterprising habits, he had come into this outer verge of civilization to make this his home and to grow up with its institutions.  He was the nephew of Hon. J. Allen Barber, of Lancaster, in this State, who once represented his District in Congress.  He continued in the surveys of this part of the Lake until in the summer or fall of 1856, when he, with others, conceived of the idea of founding a city at the mouth of the Montreal River – the dividing line between Wisconsin and Michigan about thirty miles east of Ashland.

The iron range approaches nearer the Lake at that point than it does at Ashland.  And though the country is much rougher and more difficult for construction of roads than between Ashland and the Range, yet the shorter route, it was argued, would more than compensate for the heavier grades. – The town was laid out and platted by Mr. Barber.

Joel Allen Barber Papers:
Spring of 1857

“This has been a sorgawful day to me, feeling more impressed with the awful calamity that befel over dear lamented Augustus and all our family in his loss One year ago to day.”
[…]
It must remain a sealed book to us, how Augustus was hurried out of the woods, and why it was so ordained if there, was any ordination about it, till we meet him in another world, which I devoutly hope we may do though I am sorry to say more hoping than expecting.

The Montreal, not far from its mouth, leaps down a perpendicular descent of nearly a hundred feet presenting a wild and picturesque view.  Being an enthusiastic lover of the beautiful of nature and desiring to reach a position underneath the falls, Mr. Barber in a canoe with two companions, approaching too close, were drawn in by the eddying whirlpool, the canoe was capsized, and before help could reach him he and one of his boatmen were drowned.  His body was recovered and was buried on a sand hillock near the mouth of the same river in whose waters he met his death.  Ironton has long been deserted, and Barber’s grave with its marble headstone, is the sole make of that civilization, which twenty years ago there essayed to lay the foundation of a mart of commerce.

They Called Him “Gray Devil”:
Summer of 1857

“One man working in the interest of the company the year before, had been discovered, after being missed for some weeks, dead in the forest, near the range. Bruises and other indications of violence on the body gave strong ground for the belief that he had been murdered.

The surf of the waves of the lake in summer and fierce driving snow storms in winter, with solitude presiding over the grand orchestra, are perpetually chanting his mournful requiem, while a fond father and mother on the slopes of the distant Green Mountains are mourning bitterly the early death of their first born son.

To be continued in Number VI

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By Amorin Mello

"Map Showing the Succession of Layers Along Potato River" by R. D. Irving, 1873. Reproduced from the Geology of Wisconsin: Volume III.

“Map Showing the Succession of Layers Along Potato River” by R. D. Irving, 1873. Reproduced from the Geology of Wisconsin: Volume III.

 

opinike0

OPINIKE

(OR POTATOE)

RIVER PROPERTY,

TOWN 46, NORTH RANGE 1, WEST, SECTIONS 16 & 17,

480 ACRES,

ASHLAND COUNTY, WISCONSIN.

————–

Detail of Township 45 North, Range 1 West, from Charles Whittlesey’s 1860 Geological Map of the Penokie Range.

Detail of the Opinike River Property and the Ironton trail in Township 45 North, Range 1 West, from Charles Whittlesey’s 1860 Geological Map of the Penokie Range.

The “Charter Oak” Mining Company occupied these premises in 1845-6 under permits from the government. The reports of the agents of the Company at that time state that copper bearing veins were found in the trap rocks next above the lower Falls. In geological characters and position, the rocks are the same here as at the Upper Falls of the Montreal, herein described. Next below the sandstone is the same black slate; below this the conglomerate, then alternating bands of sandstone and trap, and beneath them the main body of brown and amygdaloid trap. Like the Montreal River beds, they are here tilted up at a high angle to the North-west, their line of outcrop bearing North-east. They are, however, reduced in thickness materially, the conglomerate being about 600 feet, and the bands f sandstone are fewer in number. over the conglomerates, and over the trap, there are several falls and chutes in the river, amounting to 125 or 130 feet in a mile.

Detail of the Upper Falls (Saxon Falls) on the Montreal River in Township 47 North, Range 1 East from Charles Whittlesey’s 1860 Geological Map of the Penokie Range.

Detail of the Upper Falls (Saxon Falls) on the Montreal River and the Old Flambeau Trail in Township 47 North, Range 1 East from Charles Whittlesey’s 1860 Geological Map of the Penokie Range.

Here, as at the Montreal, the best trap is above the chutes, where it is well exposed in the channel of the river. For one mile above the Lower Falls the trap is of a favorable character ; but above this is not visible until the old Ironton trail is reached. The thickness of the productive trap is not as great as it is at the Montreal River. I judge that this tract covers the entire breadth of the soft brown amygdaloid trap. So far as I can form an opinion from the eternal character of the rocks, they promise as well as any part of this range. No part of the ground has been tested by recent explorations for veins, but there is abundant encouragement for a thorough trial. It must be remembered that it is only in the streams that the rocks composting the best part of this copper range are visible. From the Montreal to the Opinike River, neither the conglomerate nor the trap rises above the level of the country. From the Opinike to the forks of Bad River on Section 17, Town 45, Range 2, West, a distance South-easterly of about nine (9) miles, the productive belt of trap does not show itself above the drift materials, which over the country. The process of exploration is therefore much more tedious than it would be if the uplift was elevated into a high mountain ridge, with rocky cliffs exposed to view.

Ironton townsite claim at Saxon Harbor with trails to Odanah and the Penoka Iron Range. (Detail from Wisconsin Public Land Survey Records during November of 1861)

Detail of Ironton landing and trail from T47N R1W.

Ironton is the proper landing for works at the Opinike Falls, as well as for the Montreal River, and the distance is about nine miles. About two miles up the river, the Ironton trail to the Iron Range, crosses the River Opinike. It is highly probable the Ashland Copper Mining Company, which is now at work at the forks of Bad River, will seek an outlet this way. Although there is not a natural harbor at Ironton Landing, there is an angle in the cast which gives shelter to all but Northern winds, and the deep water approaches near the shore. Piers that were sunk there in 1857, have not yet been moved from their foundations by storms or by floating ice. This is the natural outlet for that part of the Iron Range which is East of the Penokie Gap. Although the country is somewhat mountainous, there are no serious obstacles to prevent highways, plank-roads or railroads from being built. Whatever mines may be developed on either the Copper or the Iron Range East of the Bad River, will find this the most convenient route to reach the lake. The water-power of the Opinike is at the upper chutes twenty-eight (28) feet and the lower seventy-five (75) feet – the latter being over the conglomerate rock and the former over trap. It is about three-fourths of a mile between them, and in the distance the river is rapid over a rocky bed. There is sufficient timber on the tract for all mining purposes, and a portion of the soil is equal to any in the country.

From the falls of the Opinike to Lehy’s saw-mill, at the falls of Bad River, is about nine (9) miles, in a North-westerly direction. Batteaux can reach Lehy’s mill from the lake during the ordinary stage of water. There is an Indian trail from Lehy’s to the falls, over a level country, somewhat more feasible for a road than the route to Ironton, but for the purposes of a mine the Ironton landing is much preferable. The flow of water in the Opinike is not equal to that of the Montreal, but the total fall is greater. Should workable mineral be found here – as appearances lead me confidently to anticipate – the location has advantages of position and water-power such as to place it next the Montreal River property for economical mining.

CHAS. WHITTLESEY,

Geologist and Mining Engineer.

Cleveland, Jan’y 1st, 1865.

By Amorin Mello & Leo Filipczak

This is a reproduction of “Legend of the Montreal River” by George Francis Thomas from his book: Legends of the Land of Lakes, Or History, Traditions and Mysteries, Gleaned from Years of Experience Among the Pioneers, Voyageurs and Indians: With Descriptive Accounts of the Many Natural Curiosities Met with from Lake Huron to the Columbia River. And the Meaning and Derivation of Names of Rivers, Lakes, Towns, Etc., of the Northwest, 1884, pages 70-73.  

"The American Fur Company warehouse, also called Old Treaty Hall. In 1832 the fur company moved its Bayfield post to the Island (Madeline Island), and on the council ground adjoining the building the Chippewa signed the Treaty of 1854 that established their reservations. At some point in its history the bulding came into the hands of George Francis Thomas, who in turn presented it to the DAR, but it was destroyed by fires shortly thereafter." ~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Old Treaty Hall, La Pointe, Madeline Island, cirica 1922.
“At some point in its history the building came into the hands of George Francis Thomas, who in turn presented it to the
[Daughters of the American Revolution], but it was destroyed by fires shortly thereafter.”
~ Wisconsin Historical Society
——-
George Francis Thomas married Sarah E. Bell at La Pointe in 1882. Sarah was the daughter of Judge John William Bell of La Pointe and Maraget Brebant of the Sandy Lake Band of Chippewa Indians.  Thomas inherited Treaty Hall at La Pointe from the Bell family after his in-laws and wife died. Thomas also inherited many legends from his marriage at La Pointe.

Legends of the Land of Lakes

Legend of the Montreal River.

Details of settlements on the La Pointe Reservation from Charles Whittlesey's 1860 Geological Map of the Penokie Range.

Detail of OdanahIronton, and Leihy‘s settlements on the La Pointe Reservation from Charles Whittlesey‘s 1860 Geological Map of the Penokie Range from Geology of Wisconsin, Volume III, plate XX-214.  Ironton is located near the mouth of the Montreal River.

Long ago, perhaps fifty years, before a single house or wigwam stood where the city of Ashland now spreads its mammoth protecting wings, there was an Indian settlement on Bad River and another near the beautiful falls on the Montreal. A short distance above its mouth and within sight of the lake, the red sandstone rocks rise boldly to the height of eighty feet, forming a ledge over which the entire volume of water is precipitated into a deep, circular basin or amphitheater, presenting a scene novel and strikingly beautiful. About three miles up the stream is another similar fall, very beautiful, but not so interesting as the first.

Superior Falls at the mouth of the Montreal River, as featured in the stereograph "View on Montreal River" by Whitney & Zimmerman from St. Paul, circa 1870. ~ Wikimedia Commons~ Wikimedia Commons

Superior Falls at the mouth of the Montreal River; featured in the stereograph titled “View on Montreal River” by Whitney & Zimmerman from St. Paul, circa 1870.
~ Wikimedia Commons

Mouth of the Montreal Rivercirca August 1661:
“Skirting the southern shore of the lake, past the now famous Pictured Rocks,
[Pierre d’Esprit, Sieur Radisson, and his sister’s husband, Medard Chouart, Sieur de Groseilliers] carried across Keweenaw Point, visited a band of [Cree] Indians not far from the mouth of Montreal River, now the far western boundary between Upper Michigan and Wisconsin, and, portaging across the base of the Chequamegon Island of to-day, – then united to the mainland,- entered beautiful Chequamegon Bay.”
~ The Story of Chequamegon Bay by Reuben Gold Thwaites.

Below this lovely waterfall and near the shore of the lake, once dwelt the chief a Chippewa band, and near his wigwam were clustered a number of his warriors. Their time was passed in the chase and in fishing; the squaws made mats, canoes, and in the spring time maple sugar; and all were happy and prosperous. In this quiet, peaceful circle was enacted the only real love tragedy recorded during many years upon these shores; and this was caused by the cruel inconstancy of a white man, who had won the heart of an innocent child of nature only to break it, and leave her to mourn and die, as many a fairer, but no less pure maiden had been left before.

1688 Jean Baptiste Louis Franquelin map of New France ~ Library of Congress

Detail of the Rivière du Montreal (Montreal River) from the Carte de l’Amerique Septentrionnale by Jean Baptiste Louis Franquelin, 1688.
~ Library of Congress

It seems that the simple girl had been won by the gew-gaws and glitter – so attractive to the forest maiden – brought here by a young American for trade. At first she only sought his wares, of which, owing to her standing in the tribe as the chief’s daughter, she was enabled to purchase a full share. Decked out in all the latest finery of civilization, she, woman-like no doubt, began to exhibit her new acquisitions in a spirit of rivalry, which, of course, soon begat jealousy in the hearts of her female companions. At this point Cupid came to the front; for if there is one thing more than another which a woman delights in, it is to monopolize the attention of the beau of society. In this particular society, for such really exists among the children of the forest, in a manner at least, the young trader reigned supreme. He was sought by all the beauties of the camp, and had no rival; for be it known that the old beaux and stand-bys are always laid on the shelf when a dashing cavalier from civilization appears – especially when he is an American, and of course rich – for all Americans are either rich or worthless in the eyes of the natives. This bold, bad man was the favored one, no Frenchman or half-caste Indian stood the least show, and ere the joyful days of spring time had gone, two hearts beat as one. The chief’s daughter and the young American were to be married, the gossips said. Time passed and the white man went below to buy goods. He returned, and went once more after many happy hours and days had rolled by; but the maid now began to get impatient. She dreamed that the white man loved another, which may have been true, for he never returned again. At their last parting she bade him farewell, never intimating her suspicions until his canoe was launched upon the waters, and as he paddled away her song of reproach, full of melody and pathos greeted his most unwilling ears. The notes, clear and sweet, floated out over the rising billows, until the truant lover was far beyond. Her words in part were these:

“That water on whose bosom bright,
With joy I’ve seen your bark appear;
You cross no longer with delight,
Nor I with joy, your greeting hear.

False words are thine; tho’ now you sigh
I know your grief is not sincere;
‘Tis well our dreaded parting’s nigh;
I bid farewell to pleasure dear.

When o’er the waters wide and deep,
Far, thine Ojibway maid shall be,
New loves will make you please to weep,
Nor e’er again remember me.”

With this the fairest of all the tribe, the beloved child of a kind father, confiding and loving, thoughtless and innocent, the merry chirping bird of the forest, and the forsaken fawn, left to die of a wounded heart, wandered far away and was lost in the impenetrable pine forest.

Ironton townsite claim at Saxon Harbor with trails to Odanah and the Penoka Iron Range. (Detail from Wisconsin Public Land Survey Records during November of 1861)

Detail of the Chippewa village (Ironton), at Saxon Harbor, near the mouth of the Montreal River and Superior Falls; with footpaths leading East towards Odanah, and South into the Penokee Mountains …

Springdale townsite (John Sidebotham's Claim), the Ironton Trail, and the Iron Range at The Gorge of Tyler's Fork River. (Detail of Albert Stuntz's 1857 PLSS survey map)

… leading to the Wisconsin & Lake Superior Mining & Smelting Company‘s town-site Springdale at The Gorge on Tyler Forks River.
~ Wisconsin Public Land Survey Records

“This description will, I think, give your readers a very good understanding of the condition as well as the true inwardness of the affairs of the Wisconsin & Lake Superior Mining and Smelting Co., in the month of June, 1857.”
[…]
“Rome was not built in a day, but most of these cabins were.  I built four myself near the Gorge [on Tyler Forks River], in a day, with the assistance of two halfbreeds, but was not able to find them a week afterwards.  This is not only a mystery but a conundrum.  I think some traveling showman must have stolen them; but although they were non est we could swear that we had built them, and did.
~ Penokee Survey Incidents: IV

Years afterwards, about 1857, there was considerable excitement in these regions on account of copper discoveries in the range near where it crosses Bad River. Buildings were erected on the banks of Tyler’s Fork, and near the falls, the remains of which are visible at the present day. Mines were opened with fair prospects, but there was no use to try to stem the tide, the current was too strong, transportation was too primitive, and the mines were abandoned. Not, however, until a strange discovery had been made. One day while engaged in exploring below the falls, a workman noticed in a pool what he at first took for a water-soaked section of a log. It was covered by some two feet of water and on closer contact was found to be a solid rock, but in form and size of a human being; in fact it was a petrified Indian woman. How it came there is a mystery. Only a few ever knew of the discovery, for it was kept a secret until it was carried away and sold to a New York Museum. Those who saw the petrified body and knew the story of the chief’s daughter failed not to connect here the two mysteries of the pine forest.

Bad River1 receives its waters partially from a marsh just south of the Penokee range, and besides being dark in color, it possesses some peculiar qualities which may have caused the petrifaction of the body of the young girl after she had drowned herself, as she most likely did.

1 The Chippewa name for Bad River is Mus-ke-ze-bing, meaning river from the marsh. Because the water was discolored the white men thought the Indian name meant dirty or impure water.

The Ice Lady at the Gorge on the Tyler Forks River. ~ Michael Matusewic.

Wabigance below the Gorge on the Tyler Forks River.
~ Photograph by M. Matusewic © December 2013.
Reproduced with permission.

By Amorin Mello


Selected letters of the Joel Allen Barber Papers 

… continued from the Spring of 1857.


 

This season (Summer of 1857) of the Barber Papers begins with this editorial commentary from Chequamegon History because the Barber Papers do not contain much information about events that occurred during this time period.  Fortunately, letters from Giles Addison Barber preceding this season indicate that he had planned to take his second trip west from Vermont to Lake Superior in order to rejoin his son Joel Allen Barber during the Summer of 1857. 

Giles’ first trip in the Spring of 1856 was tragically disrupted by the death of his first son Augustus Hamilton Barber, and was unprepared to reconcile Augustus’ unfinished copper claims, land speculations, and U.S. General Land Office survey contracts during that trip.  The vocabulary Giles used to describe employees and politics at the U.S. General Land Office in Superior City were not admirable.  Giles sought reconciliation by applying pressure upon national politicians in his social network (particularly Alvah Sabin; U.S. Representative from Vermont), and began preparations for this second trip.

Augustus Hamilton Barber had begun to work closely with George Riley Stuntz earlier in 1852 to survey the far northwestern region of the Wisconsin Territory; their most recent survey together before the Summer of 1857 had been at the Gardens in Odanah of the LaPointe Indian Reservation during the Fall of 1856.  Stuntz’s nephew Albert Conrad Stuntz began surveying the Gogebic Iron Range of La Pointe County during the Summer of 1857.  Lysander “Gray Devil” Cutler moved to Ironton during the Summer of 1857 as the new managing agent on the Gogebic Iron Range for the Wisconsin & Lake Superior Mining & Smelting Company to operate in collusion with Stuntz’s survey of the Gogebic Iron Range for the U.S. General Land Office.

“Mr. Cutler was appointed the managing agent of this prospective Wisconsin bonanza, at a fair salary, to which was added a liberal amount of the stock of the company.  His first task was to perfect the title to the property, and the first step toward it was to take a personal view of the situation and the property.  It was a somewhat arduous undertaking, not unfraught with danger. Excepting two or three traders and surveyors, who had stock in the company, the population, which consisted mostly of Indians and half-breeds, viewed this incursion of wealth-hunters from the lower lakes with suspicion and distrust.  To add to the difficulties of the situation, other parties owning Sioux script were endeavoring to acquire a title to the mineral range.  One man working in the interest of the company the year before, had been discovered, after being missed for some weeks, dead in the forest, near the range.  Bruises and other indications of violence on the body gave strong ground for the belief that he had been murdered.  Altogether it was a position, the applications for which were not numerous.  His [Cutler’s] first trip was made in the Summer of 1857.”

History of Milwaukee, Wisconsin:
From Prehistoric Times to the Present Date

Milwaukee Genealogical Society, 1881, page 790.

Augustus Barber Grave

“IN MEMORY OF
AUGUSTUS H. BARBER
of Cambridge, Vt. U.S. Deputy Surveyor
who was drowned in
Montreal River
Apr. 22. A.D. 1856
Aged 24 yrs. & 8 ms.”

~ FindAGrave.com

The death of this unnamed managing agent that Cutler replaced corresponds with the timing of Augustus’ death in the Spring of 1856. Augustus’ last letters reveal that he had gotten into A Little Trouble and decided to Let ‘Em Rip shortly before his death.  Augustus was reported to have drowned below Superior Falls near Ironton and the Mouth of the Montreal River.  However, a confidential letter written by Giles to Allen on the first year anniversary of Augustus’ death reveals that the location actually occurred further inland under secret circumstances:

“It must remain a sealed book to us, how Augustus was hurried out of the woods, and why it was so ordained if there, was any ordination about it, till we meet him in another world, which I devoutly hope we may do though I am sorry to say more hoping than expecting.”

Augustus is suspected to have been the unnamed managing agent found dead near the Gogebic Iron Range that Cutler replaced.  There was a footpath between the Gogebic Iron Range and Ironton, which supports this speculation.  James Smith Buck was an elected official of La Pointe County during the Summer of 1857, and wrote memoirs about working in the Penokee Survey Incidents with Cutler and Stuntz.  Buck’s memoirs glorified another traumatic event at Ironton which involved Cutler and his management approach to disciplining the mining company’s Lake Superior Chippewa employees at these locations.  Buck did not make any references to the Barbers in his memoirs; however, Asaph Whittlesey published a public retort to Buck’s memoirs with a cryptic allusion to the Siege of Barlisle.  Whittlesey’s reference is suspected to have been about the murder of Augustus Hamilton Barber.

Chequamegon Point

Detail of Chequamegon Point included in the Barber brother’s survey of T47N R4W during the Summer of 1855.

Without further speculation about how the Barber family may have been involved with the 1857 Stuntz/Cutler survey of the Gogebic Iron Range, the rest of this will be dedicated to the 1857 Barber survey of we can focus on the Barber brothers’ survey of what is now the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Joel Allen Barber and his brother Augustus Hamilton Barber began their work to survey the Apostle Islands at Chequamegon Point on Long Island during the Summer of 1855.  Augustus and Allen continued their survey of the Apostle Islands during the Winter of 1856:

“We shall go back in a few days and commence surveying around the islands.  Now don’t fancy that we cannot survey in the winter, for we have tried it and know better.”

 After Augustus’ death, Allen rewrote their original field notes of the Apostle Islands survey during the Winter of 1857, per instructions from their father:

“Keep a strict acct of all the expense of resurveying on the last winters contract, if you get a new one & undertake it, as I am informed that I can get relief from Congress by a special act, paying me all that it will cost to do the work over again, which will be as much for you interest as anybody’s of this please say nothing to any one.”

Allen then renewed their contract for this survey during the Spring of 1857, causing much anxiety for their father despite giving instructions to do this:  

“I am surprised to learn that you are going to survey islands so late in the season.  Nothing that I can now say will avail any thing else I would caution against trusting too long to the treacherous covering over the dark blue waters.  I hope you will have good success and get through without any fatal accidents to your self or to any one of your party.”

The Barbers’ survey field notes were finally accepted as complete by the U.S. General Land Office during this season; the Summer of 1857.

barber apostle islands

“… the survey of the Apostle Islands, in Lake Superior.  The survey of those islands was executed by J. Allen Barber, deputy surveyor, with unusual care and trouble.”  
~ Message of the President of the Untied States to the Two Houses of Congress at the Commencement of the Second Session of the Thirty-Fifth Congress, 1858, page 119.

The following documents are the original surveys notes of the Apostle Islands as submitted by Deputy Surveyor Joel Allen Barber during the Summer of 1857.  Augustus Hamilton Barber’s former role in these surveys during 1855 and 1856 was not mentioned anywhere in his brother’s survey notes.  In lieu, Joel Allen Barber identified three assistants during these surveys:

  • William W Ward
  • Alexander Aiken
  • Louis Nevioux

Aiken and Neveau are familiar surnames in Lake Superior Chippewa communities.

Our transcriptions of selected letters from the Joel Allen Barber Papers are continued below without further editorial commentary:

 


 

Exterior Field Notes

Township 51 North, Range 2 West

Township 52 North, Range 1 West
Township 52 North, Range 2 West
Township 53 North, Range 1 East
Township 53 North, Range 1 West
Township 53 North, Range 2 West

Barber, J. Allen

April 1857

Notebook ID: EXT27501

EXT27501 cover

Joel Allen Barber received this survey contract on March 28th, 1857, from Warner Lewis at the General Land Office in Dubuque, Iowa.

EXT27501 book 275

“Township Lines Between Townships 51 & 52 North, Range 2 West”

EXT27501 affidavit 1

EXT27501 affidavit 2

These survey notes were originally sealed in Lancaster, Grant County, on July 1st, 1857.

EXT27501 copy 1

EXT27501 copy 2.jpg

 


 

Interior Field Notes

Barber, J. Allen

Mar. 1857

Notebook ID: INT011E03

INT011E03 cover

No. 11 T. 46-47-52-&53. R. 1. East”

 

Township 46 North, Range 1 East

[Joel Allen Barber’s survey notes for this township are referenced by the the Wisconsin Public Land Survey Records, but is are omitted from the General Land Office Records.  A survey map published by Charles Whittlesey in 1860 reveals diverse geology, one mineral claim, and part of the ancient Flambeau Trail were documented in this township.]

T46N R1E detail from 1860 whittlesey map

Detail of T46N-R1E and the surrounding region from Charles Whittlesey’s Geological Map of the Penokie Range, 1860.

 

Township 47 North, Range 1 East

[One more minor Chequamegon History editorial commentary: Joel Allen Barber’s survey notes of this township are referenced by the Wisconsin Public Land Survey Records, but are omitted from the General Land Office Records.  This township is featured in the above detail of Whittlesey’s 1860 map.  It is near Ironton; and contains the Mouth of the Montreal River, Superior Falls, and Saxon Falls.]

View on Montreal River

Superior Falls at the mouth of the Montreal River, as featured in the stereograph “View on Montreal River” by Whitney & Zimmerman from St. Paul, circa 1870.
~ Wikimedia Commons

 

Township 52 North, Range 1 East

T52N R1E

Barber’s survey of T52N R1E included the southeast corner of Outer Island, the rest of this township is occupied by Lake Superior.  There are no survey notes available for this township, it was included in the survey of T53N R1E for convenience.

 

Township 53 North, Range 1 East

T53N R1E survey

Barber’s survey of T53N R1E features the east half of Outer Island, the rest of this township is occupied by Lake Superior.

T53N R1E title page

“Commenced March 30th, 1857. Finished March 30th, 1857.”

T53N R1E assistants

Barber’s assistants were William W. Ward, Alexander Aiken, and Louis Nevioux.

T53N R1E affidavit 1

T53N R1E affidavit 2

These survey notes were sealed in Lancaster, Grant County, on July 1st, 1857.  Barber’s assistants were not signatories.

 


 

Interior Field Notes

Township 51 North, Range 1 West

Barber, J. Allen

Apr. 1857

Notebook ID: INT010W04

T51N R1W

Barber’s survey of T51N R1W included Michigan Island, Gull Island, and a corner of “Presque Island” (Stockton Island).

T51N R1W title

“Commenced April 24th, 1857, and finished on April 28th, 1857.”

T51N R1W assistants

Barber’s assistants were William W. Ward, Alexander Aiken, and Louis Nevioux.

T51N R1W affidavit 1

T51N R1W 2

These survey notes were sealed in Lancaster, Grant County, on July 1st, 1857.  Barber’s assistants were not signatories.

 


 

Interior Field Notes

Township 52 North Range 1 West

Barber, J. Allen

Apr. 1857

Notebook ID: INT010W05

T52N R1W

Barber’s survey of T52N R1W included the northeastern end of “Presque Island” (Stockton Island) and the south western end of Outer Island.

T52N R1W title

“Commenced March 28th, 1857.  Finished March 31st, 1857.”

T52N R1W assistants

Barber’s assistants were William W Ward, Alexander Aiken, and Louis Nevioux.

T52N R1W affidavit

These survey notes were sealed in Lancaster, Grant County, on July 1st, 1857.  Barber’s assistants were not signatories.

 


 

Interior Field Notes

Township 53 North Range 1 West

Barber, J. Allen

Apr. 1857

Notebook ID: INT010W06

T53N R1W

Barber’s survey of T53N R1W included the northwestern part of Outer Island. The rest of this township is covered by Lake Superior.

T53N R1W title

“Commenced March 29th, 1857.  Finished March 30th, 1857.”

T53N R1W assistants

Barber’s assistants were William W Ward, Alexander Aiken, and Louis Nevioux.

T53N R1W affidavit

These survey notes were sealed in Lancaster, Grant County, on July 1st, 1857.  Barber’s assistants were not signatories.

 


 

Interior Field Notes

Township 50 North Range 2 West

Barber, J. Allen

Apr. 1857

Notebook ID: INT019W04

T50N R2W

Barber’s survey of T51 R2W included part of Madeline Island.

T50N R2W title

“Commenced April 22nd, 1857.  Finished April 23rd, 1857.”

T50N R2W assistants

Barber’s assistants were William W Ward, Alexander Aiken, and Louis Nevioux.

T50N R2W affidavit

These survey notes were sealed in Lancaster, Grant County, on July 1st, 1857.  Barber’s assistants were not signatories.

 


 

Interior Field Notes

Township 51 North Range 2 West

Barber, J. Allen

Apr. 1857

Notebook ID: INT019W02

T51N R2W survey

Barber’s survey of T51N R2W included the LaPointe Indian Reservation Fishing Grounds on the north end of Madeline Island, and parts of “Wilson’s Island” (Hermit Island) and “Presque Island” (Stockton Island).

T51N R2W title

“Commenced April 17th, 1857, and finished April 23rd, 1857.”

T51N R2W assistants

Barber’s assistants were William W Ward, Alexander Aiken, and Louis Nevioux.

T51N R2W general remarks

“The land of this Township consists of a cold clay soil, unfavorable to agriculture.  It’s principle importance is derived from the facilities it afford for carrying on the fishing business, the bays for Presque Isle are a favorite resort for fishermen, and the natives have reserved two hundred acres on Madeline Island for their use as a fishery, for laying in their winter supplies.”

T51N R2W affidavit 1

T51N R2W affidavit 2

These survey notes were sealed in Bayfield on May 30th, 1857, by Samuel Stuart Vaughn as Justice of the Peace for LaPointe County.  Alexander Aiken was not a signatory, yet William W Ward and Louis Nevioux (“his X mark”) were included as signatories.  This nuance was not explained.

T51N R2W end

There appears to be something written or drawn behind the smaller sheet in this scan of Barber’s original survey field notes.

 


 

Interior Field Notes

Township 52 North Range 2 West

Barber, J. Allen

Apr. 1857

Notebook ID: INT019W03

T52N R2W

Barber’s survey of T52N R2W included “Devil’s Island” (Manitou Island), an unnamed island (Ironwood Island), and parts of “Hemlock Island” (Cat Island), and “Preque Island” (Stockton Island).

T52N R2W title

“Commenced April 1st, 1857.  Finished April 25th, 1857.”

T52N R2W general remarks

“There is but little good land in this Township, the greater part being of a very inferior quality, there is some good White Pine on Presque & Hemlock Islands.”

T52N R2W affidavit

These survey notes were sealed in Bayfield on May 30th, 1857, by Samuel Stuart Vaughn as Justice of the Peace for LaPointe County.  Alexander Aiken was not a signatory, yet William W Ward and Louis Nevioux (“his X mark”) were signatories.  This nuance was not explained.

 


 

Interior Field Notes

Township 53 North Range 2 West

Barber, J. Allen

Apr. 1857

Notebook ID: INT019W05

T53N R2W

Barber’s survey of T53N R2W included “Shoal Island” (South Twin Island), an unnamed island (North Twin Island), the north end of “Hemlock Island” (Cat Island), and the east end of “Ironwood Island” (Rocky Island).

T53N R2W assistants

Barber’s assistants were William W Ward, Alexander Aiken, and Louis Nevioux.

T53N R2W affidavit

T53N R2W affidavit 2

These survey notes were sealed in Lancaster, Grant County on July 1st, 1857.  Barber’s assistants were not signatories.

 


 

Interior Field Notes

Township 51 North Range 3 West

Barber, J. Allen

Apr. 1857

Notebook ID: INT030W06

T51N R3W

Barber’s survey of T51N R3W included parts of “Bass Island” (Basswood Island), “Wilson’s Island” (Hermit Island), Oak Island, and the mainland where the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa was located six years later in 1863.

T51N R3W title

“Commenced April 14th, 1857. Finished April 28th, 1857.”

T51N R3W assistants

Barber’s assistants were William W Ward and Alexander Aiken, and Louis Nevieux.

T51N R3W general remarks

“The land in this Township is all high and rolling and is pretty well adapted to agricultural pursuits, the soil is gravelly and in some places stony. The poorest portions are Wilson’s and Bass Islands, which contain more clay. Much good White Pine & Hemlock are found on the Main shore near the Lake.”

T51N R3W affidavit

These survey notes were sealed by Samuel Stuart Vaughn at Bayfield on May 30th, 1857, by Samuel Stuart Vaughn as Justice of the Peace for LaPointe County.  Alexander Aiken was not signatories.

 


 

Interior Field Notes

Township 52 North Range 3 West

Barber, J. Allen

Apr. 1857

Notebook ID: INT030W07

T52N R3W

Barber’s survey of T52N R3W included parts of Oak Island, “Devil’s Island” (Manitou Island), Bear Island, “Cranberry Island” (Raspberry Island), an unnamed island (Otter Island), and the mainland where the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa were located six years later in 1863.

T52N R3W title

“Commenced April 4th, 1857. Finished April 29th, 1857.”

T52N R3W assistants 1

Barber’s assistants were William W Ward, and Louis Nevioux. Alexander Aiken is not identified as an assistant in this survey.

T52N R3W general description

“The principal part of the land of this Township is of good quality. Oak & Bear Islands are very high and rolling with a good soil. The Island in the N.E. part of the Township is more level, but it soil is of a good quality.”

T52N R3W affidavit 1

T52N R3W affidavit 2

These survey notes were sealed by Samuel Stuart Vaughn in Bayfield on May 30th, 1857, as Justice of Peace for LaPointe County.

 


 

Interior Field Notes

Township 53 North Range 3 West

Barber, J. Allen

Apr. 1857

Notebook ID: INT030W08

T53N R3W

Barber’s survey of T53N R3W included an unnamed island (Devils Island), the west end of “Ironwood Island” (Rocky Island), and the north end of Bear Island.

T53N R3W title

“Commenced Apr 4th, 1857. Finished Apr. 7th, 1857.”

T53N R3W assistants

Barber’s assistants were William W Ward, Alexander Aiken, and Louis Nevioux.

T53N R3W general description

“The soil of this Township is of rather poor quality, yet some crops can be raised with tolerable success. The timber of these Islands is quite dense but is of inferior quality. No rocks are found except red sandstone of which the shore is in many places composed. The opportunities for fishing in this vicinity are excellent.”

T53N R3W affidavit

These survey notes were sealed in Lancaster, Grant County on July 1st, 1857.  Barber’s assistants were not signatories.

 


 

Interior Field Notes

Township 51 North Range 4 West

Barber, J. Allen

Apr. 1857

Notebook ID: INT040W04

T51N R4W

Barber’s survey of T51N R4W on the mainland was used to locate the Red Cliff Reservation years later in 1863

T51N R4W title.jpg

“Commenced April 30th, 1857.  Finished May 8th, 1857.”

T51N R4W assistants

Barber’s assistants were William W Ward, Alexander Aiken, and Loius Nevioux.

T51N R4W general description

“The land of this Township is well adapted to agriculture. The soil is a light-sandy loam. The surface is generally dry, being sufficiently rolling to secure drainage. There are no streams of sufficient size to power a good motive power for mills. In the interior are extensive sugar orchards, from which the natives make considerable maple sugar. No wells were found in place in …”

T51N R4W general description 2

“… this Township, but it belongs to the sand-stone formation and is overlaid by drift,- in some places to the depth of several hundred feet. No houses or other improvements were noticed.”

T51N R4W affidavit 1

T51N R4W affidavit 2

These survey notes were sealed in Bayfield on May 30th, 1857, by Samuel Stuart Vaughn as Justice of Peace for LaPointe County.  Alexander Aiken was not a signatory, yet William W Ward and Louis Nevioux (“his X mark”) were signatories.  This nuance was not explained.

 


 

Interior Field Notes

Township 52 North Range 4 West

Barber, J. Allen

Apr. 1857

Notebook ID: INT040W05

T52N R4W

Barber’s survey of T52N R4W included Point Detour on the mainland, an unnamed island (York Island), the west end of “Cranberry Island” (Raspberry Island), and the east end of “Sand River Island” (Sand Island).

T52N R4W title

“Commenced April 8th, 1857. Finished April 12th, 1857.”

T52N R4W assistants

Barber’s assistants were William W Ward, Alexander Aiken, and Louis Nevioux.

T52N R4W general description

“The land of this Township is of inferior quality, the portion on the main land is the best, but it descends rapidly toward the lake, giving it a northern aspect – unfavorable to agriculture. On the main land there is some good Hemlock & White Pine timber.”

T52N R4W affidavit 1.jpg

T52N R4W affidavit 2

This survey contract was at Bayfield on May 30th, 1857, by Samuel Stuart Vaughn as Justice of Peace for LaPointe County.  Alexander Aiken was not a signatory, yet William W Ward and Louis Nevioux (“his X mark”) were signatories.  This nuance was not explained.

 


 

Interior Field Notes

Township 52 North Range 5 West

Barber, J. Allen

Apr. 1857

Notebook ID: INT050W04

T52N R5W

Barber’s survey of T52N R5W included “Steamboat Island” (Eagle Island), “Little Steamboat Island” (no longer exists), and most of Sand Island.

T52N R5W title

“Commenced April 8th, 1857. Finished April 10th, 1857.”

T52N R5W assistants

Barber’s assistants were William W Ward, Alexander Aiken, and Louis Nevioux.

T52N R5W affidavit 1

T52N R5W affidavit 2

These survey notes were sealed in Lancaster, Grant County on July 1st, 1857.  Barber’s assistants were not signatories.

 


 

1857-08-22 Bayfield Mercury header

Bayfield Mercury, August 22, 1857.

IRONTON

The Barbers did business with William Herbert and others at Ironton.  The activities of the company during the Summer of 1857 are detailed the Penokee Survey Incidents.


“… Wm. Herbutt, was here in 1847-48 prospecting for copper for the American Fur Company.”
Report of the City Statistician, Volume 1, page 58.

Week before last we took a trip to Ironton and the interior in company with Mr. HERBERT, the Agent of the town, and several others, and promised to give our readers an account of the the town and country back of it, but inasmuch as some kind friend took the liberty of abstracting our memorandum book from our pocket, we cannot give as definite an account as we would like.

Josiah_whitney

Lake Superior surveyor, American geologist, and Harvard University professor Josiah Dwight Whitney. ~ Portrait of Whitney by Silas Selleck, 1863.

Ironton is situated on the South shore about 20 miles from this place and three fourths of a mile from the mouth of the Montreal river, which is the State line between this State and Michigan. Its harbor is good and the water is of sufficient depth for any of the largest class of steamers. The company are building a splended pier, 400 feet long, and when finished it probably will be one of the most substantial piers on the Lake, and will cost about $5000. They have also erected a large Hotel, two stories high, and we also noticed the materials on the ground for putting up several frame buildings, and arrangemnts has been made for the erection of a steam sawmill with 40 horse power, which is to be completed this summer, and will cost from $10,000 to $12,000. The lots are 40 x 125, except on 1st and 2nd streets which are 40 x 128.

The site of the town is beautiful, — about a third of it is on a nice level next to the Lake, and then it ascends gradually in benches back for one or two miles. Its near proximity to the Copper mines on the Montreal river and the Iron range back, together with the farming lands, which by the bye is not equalled on Lake Superior, must needs make Ironton a town of no small importance. The company are cutting out a good road from Ironton to the Iron range some 16 miles in length.

Superior Falls is the lower falls near the Mouth fo the Montreal River, and Saxon Falls is the upper falls several miles upriver.

While there we visited the Falls on the Montreal river, the scenery of which cannot be surpassed on the Lakes. The lower falls are 60 feet high and the upper falls are 80 feet. They are about three miles apart. The indication of mineral between the two falls and especially on Mr. WHITNEY’s claim, bids as fair for large deposits of copper as any that has yet been discovered and certainly has a good surface show as had any of the mines that are now being developed.

The Barber brothers were part of the survey of Ironton during the Winter of 1856.

We could say much more about the Iron range and surrounding country, but defer it until another time. The town was only laid out in February last, and it already bids fair for a bright future. Go on gentlemen, we hope you will build up a large town, and help develop the vast resources of the Great Northwest, and we will aid you what we can.

 


 

Lancaster Aug 30th 1857

Dear Son.

This is a letter from Joel Allen Barber’s mother, and Giles Addison Barber’s wife:
Maria Green Barber
.  She came to Lancaster to visit her in-laws, and to consider relocating there from Vermont.

A week or more since I rec’d a letter from [you?] at Bayfield by [????] I am happy a safe arrival for which I am very thankful.  But in it you don’t say where your father is.  [??? ???ably] return or whether he intends to come here, or go home, or other ways expecting me to go along [???? ?? ?? ????? ????]  I have not had a letter from him since you left but father Barber goes on some other which road.  I have not [?????] to [????????] as [????????????] about [?? ???] there to get it.  Mr Burr [??????] last [??? ???] –  I did not know what to do about going but as the friends here so I Pray [??? ???] he would come this way to see to his produce [????????] was out state with [???] that time I thought but to wait a little longer.  [?? ??? ????] an [????] I wished I would stay with this while [?? ??? ???] as they are rather homesick [???] the [???? ??? ??? ??? ????? ??????] [????? ??? ??????] I enjoy myself better with them than of [???? other affect?] as it is such a pleasant family and very young so comfortable quilt – Last evening the Bank came up here to give me a seranade.  They had intended to come [???] and were expected and They were invited in and treated to Coffee, pie, and cake and the girls gave them the best music – as they said – on the Piano they ever heard  – Then they all joined in several songs They went to nearly every house in the town “to wake them up.”  Yesterday Miss Barber got in another exhibition – that is, had them (her exhibit) & had something to speak – had a stage in [??????] grove where they exhibited had a pre-mer.  I tried to get some – singing – pretty much failed in that – tried to get out there hard and wholely failed – and on the whole, not “[????? ???????]” they say.

It is quite [??????] here [????????? ???? ????] several others of summer complained.  There has been hot months but, [???? ?????? ???? ????? ????? ?????] Esq [M????] wife are considered [????? ??? ????]

I wish I knew what [???? ? ??? ???? ????] as your father would write [??????? ??????? ????? ??? ???] to go home without [???????] at last.  Got a line from [Albe?] last week.  Suppose he [????] to as he does not [?????] to [???????????????????] but “lying ‘round longer.”  [??? ??] very sorry he was not that [winter?] the government and instruction of some one who would have taught him something useful and kept in a study.

It is beautiful weather now for gathering the grain [????? ???? ????? ????????? ????] will be plenty of them but very little fruit of any kind this year.

I expect father will come this week without fail if he comes at all.  Have heard nothing more about going to Cassville.  Uncle Allen is building a large office and Cyrus and Thode are building the Evert house fence.  Write often, till you come, to your

Mother

 


 

Johnson Sept 20 /57

Friend Allen

May I call you friend?  I will venture for if I recollect right we were once very good friends and I hope that we are so still although we are far distant from each other, and may never meet again in this world, have you forgotten Hattie?  I have not forgotten Allen and probably never shall, and were I even disposed I have a small gillon badge laid safely away which brings forcably to my mind an old friend who much resembles you, when I once knew.  Amherst said he presumed you would not think I was very naughty to dare to write to you, so I thought I would take the liberty.  I have written enough so I will close by saying please don’t forget the Johnson people for we shall never forget you.

Good night

Hattie C.

P.S.

Beware of those pretty squaws out there.

 

Allen,

I want you to understand that Miss Hattie & Miss Hastings & Carls & I have spent the evening here together at Mr. Caldwells upstairs & have had all sorts of good times.  That is, as far as I am concerned. (I do not speak for the ladies) & I have enjoyed myself “excruciatingly” (as Hattie suggests) considering the company & the advantages I had.

That’s all

Am

 


 

Lancaster Sept 20th 1857

Dear Son.

george r stuntz

Portrait of George Riley Stuntz. ~ The Eye of the North-west: First Annual Report of the Statistican of Superior, Wisconsin by Frank Abial Flower, 1890, page 26.

 I will venture to write once more to you tho I have no evidence that my letters ever reach you.  I have had two letters from you but not one from father since you left here.  One from him to Mr Burr of Sept 15-6th appears to be the only one he has sent here since you arrival.  Why he has not written to me to let me know what to do about going home I cannot understand, but here I am yet, and shall stay, until he either comes or writes he is not coming.  I should have written several times to him, had I not expected him every week [??????????] letter [????] that you had not [??????] from [???????] I had not gone home with Mr B.  Mr Stunts [visited?] here, and said he was going [??????] to La Pointe [???? ??????] you have learned the state of affairs before this.  Mr [??] returned home last night having been about now a few weeks, had a fortunate trip tho on Lake Ontario there was a high wind and every passenger very sick.  I am thankful to have escaped that, but something else may happen to us when I do go.  Oh how I do dread the journeys.

I am confident that your father will be here this week, that is if he is not still too sick to come – which I greatly fear he is.  If he is still there when this arrives he may [c??????] it as much to him as to you.  How I wish you would confide to travel there this fall and to remain with [me?] [?????] to me the [??????????] and remain there this winter [?????????????????????????????????????????????????????]

There will be a County Fair held here this week – the grounds in full view of Uncle Jay’s where I am now stopping.  I shall probably see some of the best food [ration?] of this great country.  I went, two weeks since to McCartney and Cassville with Allen and family.  Had a pleasant ride, but it was very warm and dusty.  Mc has a beautiful place, the largest orchard in the county, I suppose, as they will have 500 bushels this fall.  It is on the highest land 2 miles east of the Miss. river.  But perhaps you have been there, if not you have seen the river at other points.  I was wishing to see the “great river” and went to Cassville for that purpose.  It is certainly worth the trouble of going to see.  Aunt Sa’h pointed out to me a high sharp bluff which Augustus climbed and left his name out on the white bark of a [tree?].  To me, how interesting – almost sacred does every thing appear where he has left the impress of his work.  There is nothing can bring so forcibly to our minds a dear departed friend, as a sight of the productions of his hands or his mind.  So, if we would be remembered with pleasure and gratitude we must do something for the good of every being with whom we have to do.

Augustus Barber Grave

“IN MEMORY OF
AUGUSTUS H. BARBER
of Cambridge, Vt. U.S. Deputy Surveyor
who was drowned in
Montreal River
Apr. 22. A.D. 1856
Aged 24 yrs. & 8 ms.”

~ FindAGrave.com

I hope your father has placed the marble he sent me enclosed the grave of the dear one who lies on the land here, I feared shall never have the melancholy satisfaction of visiting the cursed spot.  It hardly know whether I can wish to behold the terrible scene where he lost his prime life.  I cannot but fear that those of my family now in that inhospitable shore may be laid beside that line [??] bed grave that we may all live to [???? ???? ?????].

And land flowing with milk and sugar – than which no better can be found, at least I have yet found a place better adapted in all respects to make life comfortable.  With labor and care we can have all that is desirable there – without those we can h should have little enjoyment here unless we are content to live in poverty and filth.  One thing alone would discourage me from coming to this Western world, where in the great uncertainty or procuring a constant convenient supply of good soft water.  Here, at Jay’s, their Cistern leaks and they have to fix up the pump and have to draw it from the bottom where it [????? ?? ???] with a pail and string, as they do at Allen’s and Thode’s you know there is no cistern and they manage to catch some in tubs to wash with.

It would almost kill Marth and the girls to bring enough from the spring near as it is, based on when they get it, it is good for nothing to wash with in that it is cleansed with [??? ?? ???].  I never yet saw water so convenient, plenty and good as it is at our old home.

Mr. Harris [?????] died about 3 weeks since, and Mrs. Mills is not expected to live but a few days – perhaps hours.  It has been very healthy most of the [senses?] People from other places come here to spent the summer on account of the known healthfulness of the place.  One gentleman from Cleveland, with consumption, and the Drs said, come – at the end of the 1 week, he had gained 12 lbs – Says he will buy property and stay here.  [Sherman Page?] is here – has commenced a select school.

I have no more to [??????????????????????????]

your Mother

Aunt Lucy is unwell to day and I have [????] the [?????].

All friends well but Allen who has his old complaint.
Am sorry this ink is not black & you can read it.

 


 

To be continued in the Fall of 1857

By Amorin Mello

Selected letters of the Joel Allen Barber Papers 

… continued from the Fall of 1856.


Sandusky Dec 22nd 1856

My dear Son

You will see by date of this letter, that I have progressed somewhat towards home.

Ironton was the Barbers’ town-site claim, located near the Mouth of the Montreal, where Augustus Barber died.
James_Meacham

Portrait of U.S. Representative James Meacham from the History of the Town of Middlebury: In the Country of Addison, Vermont by Samuel Swift, 1859, after page 388.  “Much to my astonishment I now find that Mr Meacham is a habitual private tippler and is often such a condition from drink as to occasion general notice and remark […] Is it not wonderful our state has had a long list of such members, Mallory, Nole, Buck, Phelps, &c.” from 1856 letter in the University of Vermont Libraries’ Center for Digital Initiative.

Alvah_Sabin

U.S. Representative Alvah Sabin was mentioned earlier in the Barber Papers during the Spring and Summer of 1855. ~ Eighty-Three Years a Servant, or, the Life of Rev. Alvah Sabin by Alvah Sabin Hobart, 1885

I left Lancaster in company with E. D. Lowry for Galena last Wednesday morning & on getting to Galena found that the cars had not run for 5 days on account of snow, but they got in toward morning & at 9 AM I started & only got through to Chicago next day at night, when not running we were in snow drifts.  I arrived here Saturday evening & am having a very comfortable visit with your Uncle’s family.  Shall leave at 7 tonight for the East & shall make all speed for Vermont.  Your Uncle’s folks are looking for Jay house tomorrow night to spend the holiday & then return again.  There is something in the Tribune of last week concerning the termination of the Eastern RailRoad on the Northern boundary & laying it down as pretty certain that the road would be carried to the Mouth of Montreal River.  If I can find the paper before mailing this, I will send you the article, & did I know that the road would be run to your town I would take all possible means to apprise you of the fact so that you might not dispose of your interest in the great haste.  If you have sold none, when this reaches you, I trust you will act in reference to the above information, and I would advise you to keep dark, till further advice, & as fast as I can learn anything relative to your interests I will communicate the same to you.  I have heard nothing from you yet, since parting with you at La Pointe, but hope to get letters from you when I get home.  I have left money with Cyrus to pay your taxes, & will have him pay on Jo’s.  Tell Mr. Wheeler, that I have learned the trouble concerning Hon Jas. Meacham that he & I talked about at his house.  He had become a confirmed & miserable drunkard & drank himself out of the world.  This is from one of his colleagues Hon A. Sabin, and is but too true.

Reverend Leonard Wheeler & Government Carpenter John Stoddard lived at the Gardens.

Give my last respects to Mr. Wheeler & family also to Mr. & Mrs. Stoddard & tell them that I have not escaped a hard winter as [?????? ?????? ??????] but do not fear starvation like I did on L. Superior.

The Barber brothers’ original contract for the previous winter’s survey of the Apostle Islands was not recognized by the General Land Office Records.

I expect you are all buried in deep snows by this time, so that you can do nothing at Surveying.  The Snow was 2 ft deep at Lancaster when I left, but it rained all day Friday like July Showers & the ground is entirely bare about this place.  Her Bay is frozen over.  Keep a strict acct of all the expense of resurveying on the last winters contract, if you get a new one & undertake it, as I am informed that I can get relief from Congress by a special act, paying me all that it will cost to do the work over again, which will be as much for you interest as anybody’s of this please say nothing to any one.

Now My dear Son I again implore you to be careful of your life & health.  Do provide yourself with enough to make yourself comfortable & easy & above all good warm clothing & bedding, be careful of exposing yourself, where you there is danger of being lost & freezing, or of getting through the ice.  Do my son heed the requests of your parents & only brother who feel more interest for you than you are aware of, & who are in hopes to yet enjoy your society in a more genial soil & climate.

Chlorastrolite, aka Isle Royale  Greenstone, is associated with Lake Superior copper deposits, and can found in copper mine waste rock piles and Lake Superior  beaches.  Chlorastrolite was first reported by C. T. Jackson and J. D. Whitney in 1847.
Joseph Alcorn‘s gemstone demonstrates a strong bond between the Alcorn and Barber families.

I think that one visit to Lancaster will be sufficient to wean you from the frozen, famine stricken, regions around the Great Lake.  I overhauled my agates yesterday giving lots of them to the children, also specimens &c.  I gave them some chrorastrolites & shall give them some more.  They prize them very high.  The stone that Jo gave Lucy & she to your Uncle, has been cut & set in two rings. 1 for Aunt Em & 1 for Lina…  Aunt E’s ring cost $12.00 besides the stone.  It is a splendid affair.

Do write as often as you can, for be assured that your letters will be always joyfully rec’d & read by your parents & Hiram.

Farewell my dear Son & may God preserve your life & health

G. A. Barber

Respect to the boys.


Cambridge Dec 29th 1856

My dear Son

It is now about 2 months since I left you at La Pointe, since which time I have not heard one word from you, whether you were in the land of the living, or had got cast away on your journey to Montreal River.  I was very anxious to get intelligence from you while at Lancaster & could not feel reconciled to come away till I had heard from you.  But having left directions with our friends there to forward your letters, if any came, to me.  I finally ventured to start for Vermont.  I stopped over 48 hours at Sandusky, & wrote you from there, on matters pertaining to Ironton, which will reach you long before this does.  If you have not sold any shares, it would be best to rest easy till you see how the matter turns, but if the road is likely to terminate at the Mouth of Montreal River, some shark will be after all the shares he can get, & at the lowest prices.  I left Sandusky Monday night (22nd) at 7, was in Buffalo at 7 next morning & Albany at 10 P.M.  Rutland at [morn?] Wednesday.  Called on Mrs. Temple & Nancy Green, got to Burlington at 8 P.M. on the 24th & home on Christmas at sunset, found all well and tired out with looking for me.  Every thing looks as natural as ever, except that our Prairies are more rolling & the bottoms greatly shrunken in dimensions.

“In the spring of 1856 [Albe Burge Whiting] set out, traveling by railroad as far as St. Louis, and there took a boat which took him to Westport Landing, now Kansas City.
[…]
Mr. Whiting had a partner, B. E. Fullington, an honest, God-fearing, upright man, and their plan was to engage in farming–raising corn for the Government post at Fort Riley. Mr. Fullington soon became disgusted with the meager success that attended their efforts, and after one season returned East, leaving Mr. Whiting to conduct the business. Mr. Fullington agreed to furnish the capital while Mr. Whiting was to manage the business connected with the partnership. But Kansas looked better to Mr. Fullington after he got to Vermont and he came back the next spring to spend a long and useful life here.”
A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans by William E. Connelley, 1918, transcribed by Baxter Springs Middle School students, 1997.

While on the platform at Essex Junction, who should I run into again? but Mr. Bradly & Fullington direct from Kansas when he left Albe!  Left him well, on the land they had claimed, another man a neighbor had gone into the shanty with Albe to [book/back?] it together this winter, & take care of their cattle

Matters are more quiet there now.  Gov. Geary proves a better man than was anticipated.  Prospects for Terr. Kansas are brightening.  I sent you the message of the infamous Frank Pierce, from Lancaster, & hope your patience permitted you to read it through.  Still it is the meanest vilest paper that ever emanated from our Government and will go down to posterity with its author excerated by all good & honest persons.  Folks are well around.  Levi & Oscar were here last night till after 9.  Of course I gave them some specimens of copper, agates &c.  Mary Buck from Galesburgh Ill. sister to Mrs. Kingsbury keeps the school, from 6 to 10 scholars, & enough for such a “marm.”  Ed. Bryant teaches the best school at the Center.  Pat Coldwell is in a Store at Waterbury.  Dr. C.L. Fisher is teaching in Johnson.  Helen Whiting is about going to “Kaintucky” to teach in a family.  I do not mean of her own, but in a private school.

Bradley Fullington

~ Collections of the Kansas State Historical Society, Volume 12, by Kansas State Historical Society, page 119.

I am going to Johnson to day & must be brief but will perhaps do better another time.  If mails are regular you will get as many as one letter per week, while I have ability to scribble for I have learned by experience how good it seems to have letters from “friends & sacred home.”  Again I caution you to take care of yourself, you can read my back letters for particulars.  Your mother will write soon now when she knows where you are, & I will make Amherst do likewise.

Your affectionate father

G. A. Barber


[ca. 1856]

My Dear Son.

I hardly know whether to write again to you before hearing or knowing something of your situation.

It seems too much like writing to the dear departed.  But I know that if it were possible you would have sent us news of your self before now.  I feel assured that it is not your fault that we do not get letters.

I often imagine you shut in from the world by deep snows – perhaps you and your party frozen – disabled from work or even from the use of the pen.  But the thought of the good Christian Missionary near you makes me hope that you would not be allowed to perish with cold or hunger and that, should any great misfortune happens to you he would inform us of it.  How very long and tedious must the winter have been to you all and how often the vainly have I wished you had complied with our wishes and returned to spend the winter at home.  Oh!  How much more pleasure and comfort might we all have then.

I mentioned in a former letter my wish to go to Lan. next summer and my great desire to meet you there.  I do not know that I will take the trouble and incur the expense of such a journey if I must come back without seeing you, so do not let me be disappointed.  If you will If I felt sure that you would meet me there and would return with us to spend next winter I should feel that I had something to live for.  But the thought of going there and returning to live in this old, desolate, neglected, forsaken looking place without you, with no prospect if there ever being any improvement in its appearance under the present administration makes me quite indifferent to life.  I am very sorry that we cannot get another woman here – one who would be agreeable and friendly with me, or whom I could confide in as a good and honest dairy woman.  I should then feel quite satisfied to leave the business with her, and less unwilling to return again.  But your father will not let any one else come – tho he has had some very good offers.

How I do wish that you would come and live with me and befriend me & I really need to have one friend.

Good night

Mother


Cambridge Jan 6th 1857

Dear Son

I have determined to wait in hopes to hear from you, before writing back again.  It really seems strange, that we do not get something from you in all this long time, your last being dated Nov-.  Your Mother & I wrote repeatedly while at Sandusky & I hope you get the letters, but why do I not get something from you?

Barber’s contract with the General Land Office to survey the LaPointe Indian Reservation was started during the Fall of 1856.

I am extremely anxious to know how you are & how you are getting along this winter, whether you have yet recd that long expected draft & whether you have done anything at surveying the Indian Reservation whether you are boarding at Mr Maddock’s yet, or what you are doing & have spending the long & hard winter.  The date of this will show you that I have once more got home, and am now a dweller among the G. Mountains.

After being at your Uncle’s in Sandusky 10 weeks and I had so far recovered that I could walk across the river your Mother was away to have me start for home & I was hurried away before I was sufficiently strong to endure the fatigues of such a journey.  On Sunday 27th ult I first ventured out of doors Monday 28th was stormy so that I could not go out & yet I had to start Tuesday, or trouble would endear, so I was off and that night at Midnight I was in Buffalo (leaving station at noon).  Left B. at 9 A.M. & was in Albany 10 ½ P.M next Morning started at 7 & was snugly quartered at the Lomied of N.E.N’ Esq on the [????] by the college on Burlington.  My feet & legs [???] badly swollen all the way caused by debility I remained there 2 nights & spent [???????] with them.  Saturday we continued in the stage with [Sen/Tom?] Andrews to the Centre where we [??? ?????? ??? ??????? ???] house unfit to occupy, as his had “Batnies” all over the floor drying your Brother & I went to Mr Wetherby’s (in the Miner house) & stayed till next day when Mr Green brought his woman here & she & Amherst worked at the house while Mr G. went to the centre for your Mother.  I was brought up toward night, and am a close prisoner ever since on account of my swelled legs & lameness but I am free from that infernal pain that troubled me at La Pointe & only feel a soreness in my walking apparature.

I could scarcely believe the fact was so, when I found I could put my legs feet down on the floor without excruciating pain, but I have reason to hope I have seen the last of that tormentor.  My appetite is shrunk so much, my strength is returning & when I shall regain part of my flesh and my legs get sound I shall be nearly as good as new.  I was reduced almost to a shadow by the “little gobbel,” but they did not make me any sicker than before as the Allopathic Medicines would have done.  Their effect was produced silently, and though I was run down pretty low & weak I at no time felt any distressing sickness save in my legs till I imprudently ate too many preserved tomatoes that distressed me 2 or 4 days.  But my greatest gratification was to get Amherst home with me once more, after he had been a wanderer & outcast for months in his own neighborhood.  We found him living at Griswold’s where he was enjoying himself tolerably well & was useful about the storm & handed &c.  He was all [?????] at our [????] house by the shore [devil?] that [punished?] in the [Kitchen?]

He always found a welcome at Atwood’s & was urged to stay there & too at [Supuien’s?] but Mrs P. in the woods wanted take paints to make him understand that they did not want him to consume much of their grub, I always knew she was a stingy old satan & now I think I shall request her whenever a good opportunity offers.  I think he was as glad to see us, as we to see him, & that we will take as much solid comfort together as the nature of the case will present.

7th

I shall look earnestly for a letter from you till I get one & though my letters may be a long time in reaching you I shall keep a stream of them running to your country that you may have something once in a while to refresh your memory of home and those so dear to you who are now sojourning here.  There have been but few changes by death or marriage that I hear of since my leaving last spring.  I wrote to you of the death of Mr Chase Old Mr John Safford died in Dec aged 92 years & old Mrs Darker also very aged.  David Griswold & Mary Ann Chadwick were yoked at Christmas.  I do not hear of any others in town, who have got married, that you know, but I will tell you if your patience will permit, a little something of one Rodney [Casde?] whom you will recollect.  He was living with [Gad?] on the Mirriam farm & by chance became enamored of [Clena?] Scott & she as much of him, they were thick, & had the time set for marriage, but she finding some of his great [fertensing?], doubtful, flared up & was off entirely, whereupon he threatened 1st to go to her door & spill his heart blood on the door stones, next he threatened a suit for breach of promise, went down to Burlington to consult Lawyers & Morrisville & finally gave it up and fizzled out.

The poor boy is doubly consorted since, for he has got religious & been baptised into the Methodist Church, and has at last got married to somebody in Stowe. The tragedy is all over.

Major John S Watrous was formerly the Indian Agent from the Sandy Lake Tragedy and failed Ojibwe Removal.  Watrous was now the final Speaker of the Minnesota Territory House of Representatives,  Minnesota was granted statehood.

Major Watrous, Speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives, was in the cars with me from Sandusky to Cleveland & from him I heard some things from the great Lake later than I had formerly known.  He was on his way to Washington, having his chair temporarily filled during his absence.  He is dead against old Buchanan & his southern Masters on the Kansas question & probably uttered the sentiment of the party in the territory.

The winter except a few days of the latter part of Nov that were unusually severe has been remarkably mild with no snow to do any good till Jan 1st.  There is now a sufficient quantity of 8 or 10 in. & sleighing is 1st rate so that there are from 50 to 100 sleighs whirling by us daily, without giving us a chance to see their pretty faces, or knowing them.  Your Mother is more than ever troubled & careful about many things, nothing suits.  She says we are the poorest off of any family in town except Ed Davis’ folks, she wants to stay here & not have the farm let another year, but you know she is for lack of strength & power of endurance wholly uncapably of carrying on the dairy & there is not much prospect of my being capable of much labor.  Dow is the best tenant after all that we can get, if I find him honest when I settle with him but his wife is a (but his wife is a) little tough and withal “narrow” home there can be that little peace in the funerals department of the house.

Amherst has promised to write something to go with this.

I remain your affectionate father

Giles A. Barber

Do write often about yourself your affairs & about everything that will interest me

Give my respects to all friends
Especially to Mr Maddocks


Cambridge Jan 10th Saturday night 1857

My Dear Son

Contrary to my intention, I have let slip One Sunday without writing to you.  My excuse for it is just this Your Uncle & Aunt Burr were here over Sunday and I could really find no very good time to write.  But I will make amends as far as I can by being more punctual in future.  We are all three quite well, have removed our quarters from the west room to the East room which as well as the west room is now papered and looks com-fort-a-ble.

Since I got home Dow has killed one 5.00 lbs [quarter?] & sold it at 8 ½ $42.50 & the Alcorn Cow very fat, & I wish you & your party had part of it instead of your everlasting “salt [rusty?] pork”.  We sold 812 ½ bs Butter this week at 21 ¢ & yesterday I sold our oxen that we have had so long for $140.00 to be delivered tomorrow morning.

secondstatehousebeforeafter

The second Vermont State House before and after the fire. “However, on the night of January 6, 1857, disaster struck. A special session to revise the Vermont Constitution had been scheduled for the following day. The stove was loaded with wood and left to warm the building before the legislators arrived the next morning. By evening the stove became so hot that the timbers near it caught fire. The flames quickly spread to the rest of the capitol destroying all but the granite sections.” ~ Vermont Historical Society

The State House at Montpelier was burned down last Tuesday.  The fire taking around the furnace & getting such hold that all efforts to save the edifice were unavailing.  The Library & State archives & most of the furniture were saved, the walls are not badly injured.  The House was being warmed up for the constitutional Convention which was to occupy the Representatives Hall the next day, but they have gone into the Court House to hold their session.

Sunday 11th

Reverend James Peet and Reverend William Augustus McCorkle established churches in Superior City.

I have not been to any meeting since leaving Superior where I enjoyed the labors of brothers Peet and McCorkle.  Did think of going to day to hear Mr Whitney an old Methodist man who preached here some years ago, but finally concluded it would not pay.  Rebellions are the order of the day & they are trying hard to inaugurate one at the Centre, but I believe without any success thus far.  They are doing a tolerable business at the Borough & at Johnson.

“Old Benton” may have been Samuel Slade Benton (1777-1857).

They have tried their best for some weeks, have secured Old Man Daniels and made Sissy Hunt snivel once or twice.  Old Benton says they can never make a one horse rebellion do anything in Johnson, & I am of nearly the same mind.  The fact is, the people, (I mean those of any mind, at all) are becoming every year more loyal, & less liable to be excited to meeting  & open rebellion.  Mother finds fault with what I am here said about revival.  I do not wish to be understood as discarding all religious notions whatever, far from it.  I feel that we are called upon every moment of our lives for deep heartfelt gratitude to the great Author of our existence who crowns our lives with the richest blessings, that to feel our dependence upon him & realize that it is from him that we receive all, every comfort, and all that we have, & do toward our fellow men as we would wish to have them do unto us.  This I say in my opinion is, as good religion to live by as any of their newly patented article, obtained at modern rebellions & I cannot but think it will be much better to light our feet through the dark valley that we must all pass, sooner or later.

Of all the profession of religion, especially men, How many are there, who by their deal with their neighbors, or their every day walk, would evince any superiority of Character or better show for happiness hereafter than the calm stoid person who adores his God and submits himself & all he has into his care & keeping?  Amherst has just returned from Meeting & says he read in a Montpelier paper that the collection of the State Naturalist was destroyed, but it was thought that the House could be rebuilt by filling up the inside, walls all good.  I went to the Borough yesterday and sat as sole referee in a case between Jonas Gobs & school district & also between S. Stratton Jr & same, did not decide as there were 2 law questions involved in such case & I wanted time to look it over.

Agates, chlorastrolites, copper, and other mineral specimens from Wisconsin copper deposits along Lake Superior were collected by the Barber family before or during 1856.  These specimens were gifted throughout New England to promote the Barber’s mineral and land speculations.

The winter has been pretty severe in Vermont thus far, down to 20* & 24* below zero.  There is not much snow in the fields.  The ground all covering but not deep.  Sleighing good as ever was.  Went up to Johnson last Monday & staid at Judge Tom’s over night & had B.E. Fullington told his story about Kansas to a crowded room (the Valley).  Col Ferner, Col Stoddard, Tom Baker, Judge Caldwell & old Homer teased him with foolish questions, & would have kept him on the stand all night if they could, to learn whether wild game were plenty, whether [frungh him?] grow well & [??] the ladies were contented &c &c.  Mr F. thinks Kansas will be free in any confident it will be so.  I presented Herman’s wife with the handsomest Chorastrolite. I brought home with me the little fine spackled one that had a ball on the backside & I gave Aunt Ellen a very nice one both on condition that this would get them set in rings.  I gave your Aunt Martha her [???] in all but one  sent some to the little girls with some agates.  I saw the stone out & set that Jo gave to your Aunt Lucy, & it is the right ring I have seen.  I made up a package of specimens & sent up to the old Dr last week but have heard nothing from him.

Amherst is in extacy with his Embroidered Shirt & wears it all the time & to all places, Meeting, Lycum, & to work in every day.  I have bought materials for another  he will soon long rejoice in a pair of them.

The school is rather a feeble concern in our district this winter.

Kept (I cannot say taught) by a Miss Buck sister to Mrs Kingsbury on the Wetherby farm.  Attendance of Scholars from 2 to 7 or 5.  By the way we have some excellent neighbors Mr & Mrs K. both young and better mates for you & Am than for old people.  Miss Buck’s folks at the foot of the hill are also very good neighbors so your mother says.  At Old Grim farm there is Lucy & her 4 boys.  Mr Green is on his place but is going off it, having let it out.  Dow wants this place again.

Have just had a good supper of hogs face with we could have had you to make even our number.  Oh Allen I will not answer to how you remain up in that miserable frozen region longer than till you can so arrange your affairs so as to get away advantageously.

This incident was the second of four times that the propeller “Old Manhattan” sank on the Great Lakes during the 1850s.
The November 9th letter featured the shipwreck of the sidewheel steamboat Superior, at the base of Spray Falls at Pictured Rocks.  The Superior was carrying survey supplies for Joel Allen Barber and George Riley Stuntz to survey the LaPointe Indian Reservation.

Your mother in constant alarm about you, at times thinking you gone to join our dear lost Augustus & no more to bless us with with your presence here, but to day she has prepared 4 blinds for you & your comrades to wear in the gloom of Feb & March.  We got a short letter from you dated Nov 9th saying that you & 4 others were to start that day for your work on Bad River.  I saw by the papers that the Old Manhattan was wrecked on one of the piers at the mouth of the Harbor in Cleveland, total loss.  This makes two of your regular boats of the 3 that used to churn the sight of the dwellers of Lake Superior now gone to ruin.  ([????]) I saw that among the saved on the Superior was a Foster.  I suppose the young surveyor you & I conversed with on our passage down to La Pointe.  But there was a [??????] Foster lost whether wife, or sister to him or none related I knew not.  I am going to send you a paper – when I can get one.  I now send you Life Illustrated, this letter one from Amherst for this time.  Hope to do better thereafter.  I think it would be condusive to the interests of us all to sell the farm & place a good share of the proceeds at interest in Wisconsin.  What say you?  Do you want to come & help carry it on?  The Secretary of the Interior recommends that the clauses for the graduation law requiring residence on the land be reproofed, which if done, will be all in your favor.  I shall watch the Tribune eagerly for anything interesting to you & communicate all valuable information immediately.

Do my dear son be careful & prudent, father G.A. Barber

My respects to the boys, Mr Wheeler’s & Mr Stoddard’s families.

Write.


Cambridge Jan 18th 1857

My dear Son

Since writing you last Sunday I have recd two letters from you, one dated Nov 9th directed to me at Lancaster & forwarded by father & the other dated Nov 22nd directed to your mother.  You may bet high that your letters were gladly recd & that our minds were much easier about you than before.  Still we should feel much better, were you here with us, to have a good warm bed to sleep on, and enough of the best that Vermont produces to satisfy your appetite, and with all the genial influence of our eastern society that I should think in some respects preferable to the general run of society about L. Superior.  Still further there are rebellions in progress on all sides of us, and an interest in some of them would be quite an item in the adventures of the east over the west.  They have broken out considerably with it at the centre, but I fear the infection is not genuine, and that it will not result in anything very good.  They have got enough to talk in meeting so far as this “if there is anything on religion I am determined to get it” &c.  Elias C. & wife & Mrs F. Wetherby and some others have had something to say, & the Minister has labored very hard to get all creation on his anxious seats.  Mad. Heath is on tiptoe among them, almost an apostle.  I went down yesterday to the Borough to give my decision in an arbitration, carried your mother down to Thode’s where we staid all night & went to Meeting to day A.M. to Meth. Chapel P.M. to Cong. House. They are getting hot among the Methodists & trying to do something judging from the groans & grunts of one of the ministers while the other was hoping rumbling the howls of distressed or enraged wild animals.

John Chase got home yesterday from California have not seen him, but understand that he talks of going back again in March.  Did you ever hear what Emily Ellsworth did with herself?  I never heard till a few days ago that she married a Doran one of the [Paddis?] out in “Senate Ireland” nearly two years ago.

I have got the watch repaired by Scott, who says it is now as good as ever it was.  I would be glad if I could get it into your hands.  Furs are monstrous dear this winter as you have doubtless seen by the papers.  Mink skins [Prim?] are worth $4.00 a piece.  Muskrat from 10 ¢ to 20 ¢.  Martins must be worth $5.00 or $6.00.  How if you had the [Shonis?] to purchase some furs this winter & spring you might buy some at prices that would pay you a good sound profit.  I have no doubt but you could get Sable for 1.50 to 2.00 & mink for 1.00.  Otter skins are generally called about here $1.00 per foot measuring from the nose to the end of the tail.  They ought to be cheaper there.

Our district school wound up yesterday for want of scholars having had but 2 the last week.  Julius G. & Martin P. & in day Julius alone.  The teacher was the greatest failure of all.

We are getting very cold weather about now, but how cold I cannot say, as our thermometer has got broken by your Mother’s hanging it up on the side of the house for the wind to blow down, instead of hanging it inside the door casing where I had kept it so long.  I feel lost without it & shall get one when I go down to St Albans which will probably be within one or two weeks.  Think to day the coldest of the winter so far, at any rate it was cold enough for comfort coming up from Thode’s to night.

Monday Morning Jan 19th 1857

We are having a great snow storm to day, so thick as to make it quite dark.

We are all well, living very com-fort-a-ble in our close quarters & expect to be more so soon for I got 5 new curtains Saturday & you know they are always essential.

Your Mother says you must get some kind of fur and cover your mittens & also fur as much as you can to keep out the pinching frost.  I am afraid you will suffer for clothes socks &c (by the way, you had better save the tops of all your socks, that are new and good down as far as they are good & have them footed up again & if you are short for yarn to mend with you can ravel some).  The Stage will be here soon & I must close.

Have I told you that Charley Turner & Helen Sabin are married?  Even so, & they are in [clover?].

Give my respects to the boys & you may rest assured of my eternal regard and paternal solicitude.

Giles A. Barber


Cambridge Jan 26th 1857

My dear Son

The Rebellion at the Centre was a split among religious and political society in Vermont.  No public records have been identified.

I wrote you yesterday one good long letter & because there was something in it about the 1 horse “Rebellion” at the Centre and some other things to tedious to mention your Mother destroyed it last night after I went to bed.  So I have to repair the damage as well as I can this morning, but writing in such a hurry I cannot think of half I want to write, & shall only send you a small apology for a letter this time.  I have suffered much in my mind on your account for a few days, fearing that you & your party must have undergone great distress from cold weather.  It has been colder within a few days than ever before known in Cambridge.  At 11 o’clock last Friday night the mercury was at 40* below 0, next Morning at 38* below.  And you may be assured I should have felt much better if you had been at home with us in good quarters.  Oh Allen I hope you will not find it necessary to spend another winter in that region of frost and famine, but will spend your winters henceforth in a country of more genial in climate, society, & Grub.

If I were assured of our safety from freezing & suffering for want of clothing, blankets, or provisions, I should rest much easier about you than I now do.  Still I know you are in a party of good fellows & in the midst of kind friends who will be ready to befriend you.

Everything remains about as usual in Cambridge.  On the whole I think the town about holds its own.  The dairymen are growing rich on the high prices that Butter & Cheese are selling for, & well they may.  Dr Safford has sold $150.00 worth of Butter from 3 cows & supplied his family with Milk & Butter beside.  H. Montague at North Bend has realized $50. per head from his cows (20) but to make this out he counts his calves, & [Pork?] made from the dairy. Our dairy has done better this season than ever before but as I have not settled with Dow I cannot yet state the nett proceeds.

The rebels convicted are as yet only two, Mr.s E Chadwick & George Reynolds, they have a few more on trial, & are seeking indictments against lots of others.  Mr Dow takes this & will probably mail it at Richmond so do not think strange of that.  I wish to say one word of Amherst.  He is at home & does not much, but chops all the wood we burn, runs about to mill & too meeting.

He is attending the Lycum at the Centre & writes some very good pieces for them which exercises I think worth a good deal to him.  He grows like a weed & will soon be as large as you.  I persuaded him to write to you, as you will see if the letter soon reaches you.  I had nearly forgotten to tell you that we are all well, living cozily in the East Room secure from cold & hunger, & only wanting your presence to enable us to feel quite at home again.  I said wrong.  There is one gone from us forever in the world.  I cannot yet feel as though any place was home so long as he is gone.  But my time is up and I must close by writing you, health & prosperity.

G.A.B.


Cambridge Feb 1st 1857

Dear Son

Another Sunday gives me an opportunity to sit down to give you a brief narration of things transpiring in this outer world.  Though you will see that nothing really worth mentioning occurs from week to week, yet to you who are without the visible world & the pale of comparison almost any thing from the old home of your childhood will be interesting.  Within the past week the weather has been much milder & even quite pleasant till yesterday, when we had a terrific storm of wind & snow, but from what quarter I could not determine, as the wind blew all ways. The roads are all full & traveling almost suspended.  Amherst & I got all ready to go to St. Albans but the storm increased so fast that we did not start, so we went over & staid with Oscar till this morning & I went down & made Mr Heath a visit, found him just as he was one year ago, unable to speak except in a low whisper, says he under goes much pain in the region of the heart.  I went to see Uncle Enoch, how he progressed in the divine life, for there has been a desperate effort made to enlist him on the side of “the Lord” & much said about his being in deep distress &c &c found no changes, except that he is ready to talk candidly & give his views on religious matters.

Our last letter from you was dated Nov 22nd & we are growing very uneasy at not hearing anything from you in all this long time & especially when we consider what an awful cold winter we are having.  Oh Allen my heart is pained when I think of you at times, when the sky is convulsed with storms & when it is so cold that mercury congeals, that you should be up there suffering for aught I know, when you could be so much better off elsewhere.

The Rebellion here blown over, almost a failure.  2 or 3 concerts as they are called & as many backsliders reclaimed, constitutes the amount of damage done to the Kingdom of darkness, rather small potatoes when we consider who have been here at work for the salvation of souls, for we have the word of the good folks that no less a person than the 2nd on the glorious [Frinsty?] has been here for weeks at work, to say nothing of 3 methodist ministers & Luther [Brevoter?].  When will men & women cease to insult the God that made them by their impious & blasphemous fooleries to cheat mortals into this or that church under the specious pretext of saving their souls.

“Kinni Butch” may be a variety of Kinnikinnick; a blend of herbal medicines used for social and ceremonial purposes in Anishinaabe culture.

Marm says of this last sentence, that it shows that I am in a some what excited state or I would not write to you so much on the subject.  Kinni butch, I do not know how to spell this word, but you do, but I claim to be tolerably free from believing & falling in with every new thing that comes nor am I greatly given to running after every new minister, lecturer, or concert singer that happens to favor the world with their marvellous works.  “Oh the folly of Sinners” & (I wish Saints were wholly divested of the article) I was up in Johnson last Wednesday, saw some of the old familiar faces. There are some sick, more in that village now than in La Pointe & Douglas Counties in 6 months, & yet when the west is mentioned a Johnsonian will start with alarm at the bare thought or name of so sickly a place.  Mrs Tracy is soon to wind up her pilgrimage, (consumption).  She had been sick, was getting smart, a girl in the house, broke a [flaid?] lamp, set her clothes on fire, Mr & Mrs T. got their hands burned in putting out the fire.  Mrs T. held hers in cold water all night, & took such a cold that she must die in consequence.  Poor Helen Pillsbury whose health has not been the finest for 2 years, was still able to work & keep about her usual [????tions], till this winter feeling it her duty to “come up to the help of the Lord against the mighty” in their feeble rebellion.  She overdid herself or exposed her health, so that it is found that her life will be the penalty.  Poor Girl, she is going as I fear the way of Merrill & Mary, & yet that damnable, mean, thievish help “Vet” must live to be a curse to his parents & to the world.

Portrait of Uncle Joel Allen Barber

Joel Allen Barber’s uncle U.S. Representative Joel Allen Barber was a member of the State Senate in 1856-57.

It is an economy of Providence that I cannot comprehend why such persons who bid fair for usefulness in the world, who are a pride & blessing to their friends & all who know them should be removed from this world, while others who are a pest to their friends & the world & not worth the powder to shoot them, should remain as secure, as though death could not reach them.  But God knows, & perhaps we may hereafter, understand what to us now appears so dark and mysterious.  I see by the Tribune that your Uncle Allen was not elected U.S. Senator, but J.R. Doolittle was.  I know not whether I wrote to you what your Grand father wrote about your Uncle, that he was going to take Thode Burr to Madison with him & get him a place as assistant Clerk if he could, & further that he (Father) was afraid that Allen would never get home alive, his health was such, but I should have more hopes of him while there than when at home, for he would be more likely to do something for himself & get better Medical advice.  I hope he will do something in season.  Amherst & I shall go to St Albans to morrow or next day & stay a day or two & make a call or two on the way in Georgia & Fairfax.  I expect Mr Burr is going to Lancaster this month, to determine upon his future course whether to finally go there to reside & go into business, or to give up all thoughts of it, and settle himself down quietly in this country for woe or weal.

It is yet a matter of uncertainty what I shall do with the farm another year.  Dow wants it another year & in some respects he is as good a man as I can get, and on some accounts he is quite objectionable.  He is a very industrious man & a good hand to take care of the stock, make pork &c his wife is not 1st rate for Butter & cheese, but middling.  Dow is too much disposed to [skin?] the farm, or keep, more land under the place than can be manured & is rather too tight & [fizzish?] while his woman is quite & altogether too much so besides your Mother & she have been at variance almost through the entire year, & in this case I think Mrs. D was very much in the wrong, & that she is a little stingy nervous, wilful jade.  It would be idle to think of ever living in the house with them another year.

Think some of hiring a good Man & girl & carrying on the whole ourselves.  This is your Mother’s notion but I have before now heard her declare that she would not be burdened with the care of so much work.  I would so far as I am concerned rather sell the farm cows & all and go to Lancaster to live on our little farm, where our dear Augustus did so much to make it valuable & attractive.  When Offered $35. per acre for the place, I looked at those young apple trees planted by his hands expressly for our advantage & comfort & said to myself that $50. per acre shall not deprive me of it at present.  I shall like to know your mind upon these matters, but of course cannot in season for the coming spring.  I have some thoughts of getting Mr Perry to take the farm if he will do so.  Then I should feel all safe.  Your Mother & Am are drawing a pattern for his embroidered shirt that is now making, & after his is made, you are to have two made.  Am is toasting cheese & stuffing himself with it.  I wish you had a shake in that, as well as your abundance of good fat beef pork sausages, butter & milk.  Oh My Son, I think of you whenever it is cold or stormy, & when I lay me down at night in a warm bed or sit down at home or abroad to a good regular meal of victuals gotten up by the hand of a woman, other than Nancy.

Am is doing quite a business in peeling muskrats, he shot & caught 17 in the fall & sold them for 10 ¢ each.  He has just peeled 3 more & is on the qui vive for more.  They are worth 20 or 25 now.  If I get to St Albans I will start a paper or two off for you, and some for others in your country.

May God bless & preserve you

G. A. Barber


Cambridge Feb 8th 1857

Dear Son

Another Sunday has come around & I am again trying to place on this sheet a few scratches, that you may know that we are all well at home, & that we are not forgetting you our poor exiled son.

The boys surveying the LaPointe Indian Reservation and the Apostle Islands with Joel Allen Barber are:
Joseph Alcorn
William W Ward
Larry Marston
Edward L Baker

We were very glad to receive a letter from you day before yesterday, that had been nearly two months on the passage, dated Dec 13th at Mr Stoddard’s.  We have felt much uneasiness on your account for a long time it has been so very cold, & have been afraid that you must have suffered; but our fears are happily relieved by learning that you are doing so well and survived but such a band of invincibles.  Who could have fears for such a crowd as Jo, William, Larry Marston’s?  I am very happy to add Baker too!  I am really glad to hear Mr. Baker has got back with you again & hope it may be for his advantage, that he braves the perils of another polar winter, & I am confident it will be for yours.  You will see that I was mistaken about your Uncle Allen’s being elected Senator.  But I was not more so than many others.  I see by the Grant Co Herald that there is a bill introduced into Congress, to make good all entries under the Graduation Law without any further requirements, & there is little doubt of its passage.

This will be a good thing for you, if it becomes a law…

augustus young

U.S. Representative Augustus Young ~ Findagrave.com

Amherst & I went down to St Albans last Monday & drove Kitty and got home Friday, had to stay longer than we expected on account of storms, winds, drifts &c found all the folks well at Mr Burr’s.  Went down to the Bay & found all well there but Mr Young, who was quite feeble, but much better than I had expected to find him.  He is now confined to the house during the cold weather, but I should think he might get some better in the spring.  I would like to see him in LaPointe County about two months next spring & witness the effect of that climate on him, & I would see it if he was alive & I were able to take him there.  I carried down some specimens to him that pleased him much.  Little Augustus Stevens is living with Mr Young now & will probably remain with him while he lives.

Uncle Amherst W. willed $100.00 a year to Mr Young during his natural life, and $50.00 a year to your Aunt Betsey as long as she lives.  The rest of his property is given to various benevolent purposes.  The interest of $10,000.00 to the Episcopal Institute at Burlington.  The interest of $1,000.00 to the Brattleborough Insane Asslyum. & the use of remainder principally to support Preaching at East B.  All this is well enough.  If he thought a few thousand could pave the way to heaven, it was his duty to down with the dust when he found he could hold it no longer himself.

Do any portraits of Augustus Barber produced by Merrill & Wilson still exist?

While at St Albans I took the Ambrotype copy that your Aunt Martha had taken from our daguerreotype of Augustus & had a good likeness taken, that I have done up for my Mother & shall send to Morrow also One on Mira that is set in a gold pin for your Mother, one other put up in a case, both good copies, & 10 other copies all ambrotypes one of which I shall enclose in this letter for you, that you can keep till we can furnish you with a larger one in a case.  That Daguerreotype taken by Merrill & Wilson you know was good & these copies are most of them copies are equally so.

Hiram Hayes, a pioneer of Superior, worked his way from Town Clerk to District Attorney and went to Washington D.C. While he was working there at the Census Bureau, the war broke out and he was commissioned a captain and quartermaster.”
~ Zenith City Weekly
Daniel Shaw was the Register officer at the U.S. General Land Office in Superior City.  Eliab B Dean Jr was the Receiver officer working there with Shaw.

I got a letter from Mr Hayes last Friday saying that he had called in November and tendered the 120 acre warrant & $58. in gold to the Land Officer & was told that they would attend to it.  So as to send off the entry in their returns that Month, & again in Dec. he called and wiged repeatedly that it should be done & was all along told that it should be attended to, but at or near Jan 1st when again pressing the subject upon them, he was told that an appeal was taken by the Dutchman and sent to Washington for a hearing there.  This is the state of the case.  I had some little confidence in Mr Shaw as an Officer but but cannot have much now, since he has conducted in such a manner in my Land Suit.  As to E. B. Dean I was always satisfied that he was a d‘d scoundrel any way it could be fixed, & the history of his transactions in Madison goes very far to justify such an opinion.

The Barbers appealed to Washington D.C. from multiple angles to resolve their land claims and surveying contracts with the General Land Office.

I feel as though in duty bound to go to Washington to see to having every thing done there to protect our rights, that can be done, I am fully satisfied that somebody beside the little Dutchman is the person or persons in interest now pushing it up to Washington where they hope by some trick to cheat us out of the Land.  I wrote yesterday to Elder Sabin to have him attend to it for me but he his now Lawyer & may not have time to do anything…  Mr Hayes has written to a Lawyer in Washington but who knows how far a Lawyer in Washington may be trusted, when sure of a fee on one side & perhaps a double one on the other, & there is no doubt, that who ever carries that case to D.C. will have nothing continued to effect his purposes.  I am surprised to find that all that has been done, goes for naught & that the case is yet undated.  Still if I have a fair chance I should not fear, but if there was anything unfair, or any undue advantage being taken, I ought to be there, I suppose it would cost about $40.00 to go.

All is very quiet in the religious world at present.  The rebellion has not amounted to any thing serious after all the noise & confusion in the Saint’s Camp.  Madison Heath is bent on pulling down strongholds and setting up the standard of the Cross, & as one of the first steps in the warfare he & his frau came up & made us a visit last Friday night & undertook to [sumed?] me upon matters of faith, doctrine, &c.  I am thankful for his good intentions, but would prefer to listen to him “after a little” than now, when it is a new thing to him, & he scarce knows what he is about.  We are having a great thaw, the snow is nearly gone in the fields and pretty well done to in the roads.

The river is very high & threatens to break up.

Mr Burr talks of going to Lancaster two weeks from to morrow, but is very faithless about liking the place well enough to ever go there to live.  If he does not like, he will take Thode home with him, and go into business of some kind in St. Albans.  He is in great purplexity.  When at St Albans the other day I got some papers and sent to you, P.B. Van, Esq Felt, Charly Post, H Fargo & Pat O’Brian, and a new Ballou’s Pictorial to my good young friend Stick in The Mud.  I have many other good friends about the Lake that I remember with much pleasure, and would be glad to recompense for their uniform kindness toward me.

ballous pictorial

Ballou’s Pictorial was published during the 1850s in Boston, Massachusetts. ~ HistoricNewEngland.org

I am glad that you make your quarters with Mr Stoddard some of the time.  You could find no better place in that country.  Give my respects to him & wife, also to Mr Wheeler & family & Mr Davis & family if there.  Give my best respects to Mr Baker & all the other boys & be assured of the best wishes for your welfare & happiness, and success in business, of your ever affectionate Father

Giles A. Barber

Has Gen. Lewis even sent you that contract?


Cambridge Feb 12th 1858

Dear Son

This week is about gone & have not yet written one word to you.  I hope you will pardon the neglect.  I have not much to write that you will care about reading.  Still I intend to furnish you with some thing from home every week, i.e. if it ever reaches you.

The most important item of news is that we are all well as usual (myself excepted) & that has been so long stereotype that it has ceased to be news, & yet I presume it is none the less welcome to you.  My health & strength are gradually on the gain, & for a week past my swelled legs have been much better.

I went up to Dr Chamberlin (as I wrote you I intended) last week Wednesday and stayed close in his house till the next Sunday night, & recd great benefit from his ministrations.

He pronounced my trouble, as wholly arising from debility & torpor of the small veins and absorbment in my feet & legs & immediately applied bandages & a wash of Alcohol & [Garm My sch?] I was well satisfied with the Dr’s performance & think he did as well as any who make more noise in the world.  It was very gratifying to him, having a patient from a distance.  Consequently his steps, always very short when in good spirits, were reduced  in length and quickened ¼.

Many good old fellows of the village called to see me & I had a very agreeable time of it, besides being greatly benefitted by the long protracted visit.

I have been improving since I came home!  Amherst is my Dr now he rubs & bathes my legs 4 times a day and applies the bandages with considerable skill & alacrity.

Amherst chops the wood at the door & is quite a chopper his time is occupied with that, Skating, playing pasteboard, & backgammon, reading & some study.  I have promised him that when he gets the front yard filled with good stove wood I will go with him to Georgia & visit every body there, from Hon A. Sabin, down to those little ones growing up around my old associates & friends.  Such a visit will be very pleasant to me & would do him no harm, but if my legs do not get well or better than now I am afraid “I cannot get to go” this winter.

There is a great temperance agitation throughout the State this winter, & hired lecturers are traversing it in all directions “but as the movement” began before I got home, & I have been unable to attend, any meetings, it it is impossible for me to tell what particular object of the temperance people are driving at.

I think that in Johnson & this town those who formerly were most open & vindictive against the cause, have no subsided into acqueiscince with public opinion, and have become ashamed to be seen tippling or opposing the law.  Even Uncle Enoch has ceased to rail constantly about the abridgement of his liberties, and would give his old hat if it (alcohol) could be kept for ever from George, who has now got to be a complete sot when he can obtain the “outter” so as to go to bed before noon or hide himself in the haymow.  Last fall he George set out in the evening for Montpelier with his skin full of rotgut & about 10 oclock he was found lying in a puddle near Morgan’s Store by Graw who alarmed the villagers.  George was got into the tavern & his horse & sulky were found near by the Academy.  The horse feeding quietly in the Morning George came to & to put the best look on the [can pisned?] himself sick, went to bed & had physicians attend him all day.

There are rebellions progressing in a few places about the country.  St Albans Bay, Bakersfield, the South East part of the town and that neighborhood in what was once Sterling near Sanford Waterman’s.  Ralph Lasell is said to be one of the trophies they boast about.

The most curious thing aster is the strange predicament in which Judge Stowell of the Borough finds himself, he being a widower has for some over a year been playing [policies?] with one widow Goodrich a daughter & only child of David [T?????] & the day of the wedding twice fed upon the cake made & [Risd?] engaged but his precocious son Henry threatens wonderful things if his father marries the widow..  A suit is threatened but he Judge contending to worry the young widow & keep her easy so that she will not move in the matter, although Frank her father is swift for compelling him to marry or fork over.  Stowell is in trouble.  The ravings of French about town amaze him.

13th

Yesterday I went up to Mr Green’s visiting & drove my own team (Kate 2nd but my hands and arms are so weak that I shall not dare to try it again.  I could do just nothing at holding a horse that was disposed to go too fast, or where I did not wish to have it.  Kitty as we call the mare, is a larger nice beast, strong as a Moose, a good traveler, kind & true in every place, & would be just the creature we should want to carry on the little farm in Lancaster, for with her could every thing be done easily.  But then shall we ever occupy that farm?  Or shall we always have to clamber up rocks & hills, so long as I live?  There is manifested in a certain quarter the same disposition to withhold any opinions or wish in regard to that question as there, save when it is known to be in direct conflict with mine.

(Night.)

I have been down to Mr Heath’s this afternoon & made a short visit, found him about as he was last winter, still unable to speak louder than a whisper.  He is able to be up most of the time and to ride about some when Madison can go & drive for him…  Mad has a fine fat gal baby, a perfect wonder to its grand parents.  Marion has no such good luck (or all luck ) to boast of.  The weather has been very mild till day before yesterday when the Ther. was down -12* Yesterday it was -24* & this Morning -16* & prospect of a cold night again.  Sleighing that has been poor most of the winter is now tolerable & teams are constantly passing as in older times.

14th

Last evening Uri Perry & woman made us a visit.  Martin & Jot living at home with them.  Wyman is still in Ill.  Susan lives at North Bend, & Amanda married last fall to a young man named Bosworth son of a rich Merchant in Boston, so the story goes.

The Defendant & wife have just made us a short call, their boy now able to talk, is a very fine looking smart fellow.  We have been having some talk about Weston’s coming here to work for me next season.  I shall see him again & ascertain what we can do in the way of agreement.  I got a letter from Cyrus last monday asking about the disposition of the little farm another year.  He says he put up 166 baskets of corn for me the basket ½ Bus which would be so many Bus of shell corn.  There were [??] Bus of wheat for me, which Cyrus got ground at your mothers request & sold at the store at 24 pr lb for which he account to me.

Portrait

Honorable James Buchanan Jr was the newly-elected fifteenth President of the United States (1857-1861). Buchanan’s vice president John Cabell Breckinridge was already involved in Chequamegon land speculations. ~ U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

It is still a source of unhappiness to me that you are doomed to pass the long gloomy winter around that gloomy Lake.  I should feel much better if you were down at Lancaster or in the good little State of Vermont, where you could enjoy your friends and some of the comforts [???] I could wish all the comforts of civilized life.  But you are Surveying and prosperous I know you are making a better winters job of it than you could any where else were it not for the sufferings you must [??????????] made go in [isading?] in the snow [?? ?? ?? ??? ????ing ????] of sleeping at [??????] Such cold nights & mornings as the last week has given us makes me humble for you & your party, and perhaps miles from any lands or aid in case of any [????] of prusing or seeking to which you are in your situation.  So [??????????ly] exposed [?????????] I am anxiously waiting for more letters from you to know how you are braving the perils of your third polar winter, & I had thought that [?????] you went up to Superior i.e. if you have to go there for your drafts, you would just do us a ½ a doz letters to make up for past remissness in little writing.  I wrote a while ago to E.R. Bradford of Superior for information in relation to Superior [????] Starving populations I want to hear from there once in a dog’s age even if I do not like the inhabitants quite so well.  I have been in hopes that some of your paper would get along so that I could by them learn what was going on in the copper regions but as yet none have reached me, & probably will not this winter.  I hope Mr Tylor & his friends will be able to sustain themselves & their paper too, in spite of the combined powers of hell & its minions on earth, Buchanan, & all the unterrified & unwashed & E. B. Dean in [???] to the bargain.

Amen.

Summary of the Topeka Constitution, aka “the Kansas struggle”, from CivilWarOnTheWesternBorder.org:

  • Date originally drafted: October 1855
  • Stance on slavery: prohibited
  • Suffrage for women: none
  • Suffrage for African Americans: none
  • Suffrage for Native Americans: “every civilized male Indian who has adopted the habits of the white man”
  • Settlement by free African Americans: prohibited by an “exclusion clause” that was approved by Kansas voters
  • Status: failed to achieve federal recognition by January 1857
Stephen_A_Douglas_by_Vannerson,_1859

U.S. Senator Stephen Arnold Douglas ~ Library of Congress

The Kansas struggle seems drawing to a close.  Matters have arrived at that stage when a final settlement of the great issue is most able.  The prospection now favorable for the cause of freedom & for the abolishment of human bondage from the territory forever, & if that glorious result is finally obtained, it will be through the influence & talents of Douglas, the Northern Senator, who was mainly instrumental in opening the country to the inroad of Slavery, nor is it certain now that his [???????? ???? ?????] in his espousal of the Kansas Free State cause than long were in 1854.  Still whatever may be his policy in things on the right side over in his political compass, I am thankful enough for such aid in this time of need.  Probably no other man could have caused the [???????] to abandon the President as he has done when the d’d old [??????? ??? ????] is fairly laid on his back & the darling [??????] of his administration by which he had hoped to secure to himself the adoration and support of the entire south [??????] in wild as of the great unterrified & unwashed of the few states then if Douglas will conduct himself properly I should not care so much if he was the [????????] aspirant for the Presidency.  Senator said lately in the Senate that within the year there would be 19 Free States to 15 Slave States, by the admission of Minnesota, Kansas, & [???????], as [????? ????] states.  The Southern [??????] are alarming and talk loudly of a Southern Confederacy.  The Democracy generally throughout the Southern states are in opposition to their stupid Presidents on the Kansas question, & nothing but Douglas’ carrying his point will save this party from utter defeat & ruin.  While at the same time the party will be rid of its most obsiquious satans of southern [????] if the Poor devils and find any place to go to.  Perhaps they may get up a [????] of Secession party to catch the scum of the Democracy.

Do write as often as you can and as long as you can.  That is one great fault with your letters.  They are too short & do not tell [??] half about yourself business & prospects, that we would be glad to learn.

The Barbers made many friends among the Lake Superior Chippewa Mixed Bloods.
“Hon. John W. Bell, born in New York City in 1805, in his eighth year went to Canada with his parents, learned to be a watchmaker, a ship builder and a cooper, and came to La Pointe in 1835, where he has since resided.  He carried on the coopering business first, for the American Fur Company, and then for himself established a trading post, became interested in mining stocks, and filled various county offices, having served as county judge and register of deeds a great many years.  In later life he was postmaster at La Pointe.  He was married in 1837 to Miss Margaret Brahant, in the Catholic chapel, by BishopBaraga.  He died in 1888.”
Fifty Years in the Northwest by Elijah Evan Edwards, page 250.
William Herbert was a merchant in Ashland selling supplies to Ironton, and previously a copper prospector for the American Fur Company during the 1840s.

When you are at leisure you must begin and write little by little, till you would get a respectable letter [?????] size & length.  Anything would be interesting from the lake region even to the health of any of the Indians or half breeds, how my old Sombre friends [Chochiguenion?] Newaga & old [Renase?] & George Day ([?????]) are & how my Superior stranded friends are passing the winter.  Does the Judge indulge in a good drink occasionally?  Are Mr Maddock’s people all well?  Does Mr M work with his gang on the Pointe this winter?  Is Houghton stock rising?  Have you got your $800. [?????] begun yet?  I trust you will know too much to be drawn into [???????] arguments, I am willing he should make as much as pleases out of his wildcat town, but I do not want you should have anything to do with it any way or any how.  How does Dr Ellis get along with his Mill?  Do the hard times pinch operations & speculations around you this winter?  Is there any less Whiskey consumed than previously?  Does Dawson deal out the stuff with remembering to wet his own whistle? Is Herbert blasting around La Pointe or is he down at Ironton?  & finally how are things in general all around you?  When you are engaged in surveying I cannot expect you to have much spare time for writing, but I repeat the request that when you have the time to spare, you will give us longer letters so you must remember to write as often as you conveniently can, and when you do write, give us a letter long as a strong or as long as Amhert’s [???????] whiplash.

15th

Augustus Barber Grave

“IN MEMORY OF AUGUSTUS H. BARBER of Cambridge, Vt. U.S. Deputy Surveyor who was drowned in Montreal River Apr. 22. A.D. 1856 Aged 24 yrs. & 8 ms.” ~ FindAGrave.com

Yesterday a little sister of Ballard’s was buried.  She died of Scarlet fever, that is prevailing in N [????].  Ballard is at homer’s tells great stories how he sold property in those new towns [Samtagia?] & [San Colana?] (that he was concerned in taking up test summer with [????] her, ward [???]) in N.Y. City & how he recd payments in real estate in Brooklyn.  If he got any such property in Brooklyn, it must have been when the tide plains on some very distant part of a salt marsh for it does not look very [??? ????] that he would [? ?? ?? ??? ???] The eyes of Brights his so as to sell paper [??? lots for [???] valuable [?? ???????] I [??? ?????? ??? ???? ???? ??? ???? ???? ??? ????] make my visit to my old [???? ] in [??? ???] as I now contemplate doing.  You have [??? ??? ???? ????] your [???????] should for you or [????? ???] you [???? ???? ?????????] to have along [???? ????? ?? ???? ?? ????] How have you informed me [??? ??? ??? ??????? ?? ????] & [???? ?? ??] the grave of your dear Augustus.  How [??? ??? ???] his previous remains are at Lancaster.  [? ???] in Cambridge & [???] I would [????] I could prevent on you to leave there, never wish to see the Lake again or anything about it, but so long as Augustus is buried on the shore of that [???????? ????] I shall feel as though there is as some thing that [???? ?? ??] and [?????? ?? ??] have it so long as I stay.

This very long letter may be dismal for you to take at one dose.  So if you find your strength failing before you are through, reserve parts for another time when you feel better able to wade through these 8 pages.  Give my respects to all friends.  Tell John [C?????] I give my respect to his good old father, & to tell him that I do not forget my old friends.  Tell Mrs Maddock I wish I could convey one of my large cheeses to her.  I think cheese would suit you very well [?????] and prosperity & believe me your ever affectionate and anxious father

G. A. Barber


Cambridge Sunday Feb 15 1857

My dear Son

I again sit down to give you a short history of matters & things in this glorious land of liberty, of laws, Bibles, & Sabbaths.  In the 1st place we are all well, & when I write that word, that means so much, I cannot but wish that I knew, it could with equal truth be applied to you.  Our last from you was dated Dec 13th & in that two months following, so very cold here, how much you have suffered, or how you have endured the cold, fatigues, & privations of a surveyor’s life, is a subject of much solicitude in your paternal mansion, as well as among your numerous friends in Lamoille County.  But I hope soon to get another letter from you assuring us of your safety & welfare, down to a much later period.  I hope the winter has broken in your region as it has here, & that you will have a better time for prosecuting your surveys.

The Graduation Act of 1854 was an obstacle for the Barbers’ absentee land claims in Grant County, Wisconsin.

Last week I wrote something about those who had purchased under the graduation law having their titles confirmed without further requirement, & that such a law would probably pass, but now it looks “like” it would not pass that the purchasers would be held strait up to the mark &c.  Your Uncle Allen says you had better build a house, for that is what you need, & will add to the value of the farm all it will cost, & save your paying out the [??? ?????] to save what you have already paid which would be $201.38 if I have figured right & then you would have no house or improvement.  Perhaps the Law may be passed or some relief granted to the many who would suffer severely if the Law as it now stands is enforced.

Your friend Levi with Oscar have been over here a good share of the day, & have been viewing by day light the agates & curiosities I brought home with me.

This is the 3rd good visit from Levi since I got home.  His health is much better now than formerly, but if he is not well this spring I will try to have him go up & visit you.

Our winter is on its wane & spring like days are upon us & yet I have not settled what will or shall be done with the farm.  Dow wishes to remain, & would so far as he is concerned be as good a man as I could expect to find any where but his little woman is a small specimen of she tiger as venomous as hell, to all whom she dislikes.

There is now talk of having Mr Perry & Wyman for tenants though nothing certain yet, shall know soon.

The Barbers appear to have taken legal and private action against Daniel Shaw and Eliab B Dean Jr at the Superior City General Land Office for interfering with Augustus’ land claims.

I wrote you last week of the appeal having been taken from the Superior Land Office.  I have since written to Elder Sabin again enquiring how it stands now, when there will be a hearing in the case & whether my being present would be of any advantage &c.  If the Officers at at Superior have done anything to my prejudice, have left out anything material to my side of the case, or presented anything on the Dutchman’s side that should not be in or in any way connived to wrong me out of the Land why then I ought to be on the spot ready to meet it.  I want to prevail in that suit, after all the opposition, delay & rascality I have encountered from the other side.  I would sooner trust a dog with my dinner than any of my rights or interests in the hands of such a man as E. B. Dean & I know not as Shaw is any better.

When I wrote to you last we were having a heavy thaw that broke up the Hudson and did $2,000,000 damage in the City of Albany alone & immense damage at Troy & other places on the river & on all the rivers south as far as heard from including Cincinnati where there was great damage done, by crushing boats &c.

That thaw took cold Sunday night, & it has been down to 20* below 0. since, but to day we are having another thaw & raining so that sleighing will be “pone” after this if there is any.  The Legislature Extra Session convenes at Montpelier next Wednesday to do something to provide for a place in which to hold their future sessions, & such a stripe as will be manifested the present week, the state never saw.  Among the towns claiming the future State house are Montpelier Burlington Northfield St Johnsbury, Rutland Woodstock Windsor & Bellows Falls.  The principal stripe will be between Montpelier & Burlington & I should not wonder if the latter should carry the day.  Of course all below Hydepark are for B. & a general desire through the state has long been expressed for a removal of the Capitol from M, but possibly a sympathy for M. may operate on the minds of the Members thinking it hard to take it away when they have built & spread themselves so much thinking their fine Granite house was as durable as the Green Mountains.  On the Contrary it can be said that M. has had the S. House 50 years and that is a long time, & should be the reason of giving to some other town.  When I write next Sunday I may be able to tell you more about it, though it is not likely the question will be settled by that time.

I sent you in my letter of last Sunday a beautiful Ambrotype copy, from the Daguerrotype of Augustus, which I hope will reach you in safety.  I sent one to my Mother in a good case & one to Alvira like yours, & Am. is going to send one to Helen Whiting, who has written him some of the most touching & beautiful letters in relation to the death of our dear unfortunate Augustus.  I knew she was a girl great powers of mind, but did not think she would interest herself so much in the griefs of our family.  I wish you could read her letters to Amherst.  She is now at Greenupsburg write to her Greenups Co. Ky. in the extreme N.E. part of the State, teaching in a family school.

I got a letter from your Grand Pa last Friday by which we are advised of the continued good health of all the good folks in Lancaster up to Feb 4th  He says that they are now talking of building an Academy there.  Mr Myers who married Marthy Phelps has offered to give $150.00. and teach German & French two years.  He is a wealthy, educated & refined Gentleman from the faderland & by his liberality I should think would shame some of the close fisted skinflints who might by such liberality have made Lancaster a “heap” smarter place than it is now.

16th

You cannot imagine how Hiram enjoys his new Red embroidered shirts, they can keep him him warm enough in winter weather without anything else.  Hoping to hear from you soon I will defer writing more till another Sunday unless something “turns up.”  You have so many letters sent & so few mails, they must come in chunks or gobs as Jo Doane says.  Give my respects to all the boys & friends in La Pointe Co!

Your father Giles A Barber


Cambridge Sunday Feb 22 1857

My Dear Son

I will continue to trouble you with my letters, if I do not get anything from you & I hope to have you receive as many letters during your prolonged, painful absence from home as there are weeks, and though I am unable to fill them with matter interesting to you.  Still I know from experience that when in exile, in a distant strange land, any such mementoes from home & those dear to us, bring all the familiar faces of friends visibly to mind & for a moment almost make us forget [????] the distance that stretches out between us.  I suppose there is no item of news that gives you more pleasure than the two short words “All well” when you understand that it applies to our family & yet you have had it so often reiterated, that were it anything else, it would have become quite stale, if not absolutely painful.  We want to get such news from you oftener than we do, or rather we would be very happy to know of your continued well being & be so near you that the knowledge would be more direct, than hearsay.

Your Mother is constantly apprehensive of dire misfortunes to you, of suffering, from cold, hunger, fatigue & privations.  Yet, after all, I cannot help feeling much solicitude for your welfare fearful of the effect of this unprecented cold winter upon your health as well as comfort & convenience.  Still no letter from you of later date than Dec 13th.  Hope to get one very soon, with good news from you & the young men of your party.

For about 3 weeks the thaws have been so severe as to carry off all the snow except a little in the woods & the mud was like April, but we have some snow fallen again that has laid an embargo on waggons.  The river has run over the meadows during the past week..  A thing unusual in winter.

As yet we have made no disposition of the farm for the coming year.  Mr Dow has done much better in a pecuniary point of view, than either other tenant.  I was looking over matters with him last night & find that the product of the Dairy, &c has been sold for $616.00 to say nothing of 18 Bu’s Wheat, 150 Bus Potatos, a good lot of corn & Oats 7 yearlings the cold, &c &c.  The cold is a very good one, worth as much as any one I ever knew of its gender, but as I may have to pay Dow for ½ of him I am confident about “letting on.”  So far as I can see, the man has been honest enough, is a very careful man with cattle & horses, a good judge of both, is a sober, temperate, cool, calculating Yankee.  And yet his wife is a different sort of woman from what I should like to have around, & has not treated your mother & Amherst as she should considering the obligations she was under to do otherwise.  She is a little waspied, petulant, conceited, niggardly body, as one would meet in a summer’s day, not strictly confined within the limits of truth, somewhat nervous & in case of trouble in domestic matters rather inclined to sick headache & hysterias.  But she keeps things in much better shape than Mrs Dickinson did, every way & in the main, would wish to pass off for a very nice little woman.  It is hard to think of having her another year, after all her insulting talk to your Mother, & perhaps equally hard for her to ask to stay, after so often saying that she would not do so, on any consideration.  I have no trouble with her & will not with her or her husband while they are around, or I have any thing to do with them.. Another Man Harrison Putnam cousin to Aaron was here yesterday while I was gone to Johnson, wishing to take the farm, but whether the change would be advantagous is problematical.  One thing I have set down as a fixed fact, it is one of the last places in which I would look for perfection, in a tenant, & as all are wide of the mark it only remains to take them making the [????] affirmation.

Our Extra Session of the Legislature is battling for a location for the future State house, with what success I do not learn since the 2nd day, when an informal ballot was taken in the senate, each Senator giving his ballot with the name of the town he would prefer for State Capitol written on it, whole number voting 29, of which Burlington took 12, Montpelier 11, the remaining 6 for 6 different towns.  I fear that a foolish sympathy for M. because they have had the capitol so long inducing them to build extravagantly will induce many to vote against removal, without considering that Burlington has never had but 1 Session of the Legislature (in 1802) while Montpelier has had it in uninterrupted succession 49 years, or a half century.  “Let her rip”  I hope to survive it, let it go either way, but my [??inx’] are for Burlington.

“Plain truth to speak” there is nothing of consequence to write, any how either about Cambridge or Johnson folks.. Times are barren of news I take the Semi Weekly Tribune in which we have murder & robberies committed in the latest fashion, by the garrote applied to the victim.  Some humorous articles entitled “Witches of New York” in numbers the last of which recd is 9.  They bear evident marks of coming from the pen of Mortimer Thompson author of Doesticks.

Oh there is one thing you will rejoice to hear & I should have informed you since.  The sugar that you & Mother prepared for the N.Y. Market has been sold & the cash recd when I was at St Albans on the [??d] inst from Mr Ladd.  It shows how much better it is to do things scientifically than otherwise for this sugar something about 300 [??] brought the astonishing sum of $15.00 after paying freight & Mr Ladd had hard work to get that.  Such Sugar as that is now worth up to 12% [cts?] here at home.  I got a letter from Mr Sabin Friday relative to that land claim now before the General Office at Washington, expect another soon to let me know when a hearing may be had.

I suspended writing till Amherst had returned from the P.O. in hopes he would bring a letter from you but disappointed in that I go at it again to finish it up ready for the mail.  I ought to correct an improper that I got on my mind & imparted to you, was that young Chadwick was an infamous character.  He is on the one that Mr Lowry had seen in Milwaukee, as he has never lived there but is & has been in Chicago ever since he went there three years ago.  I know not but I have made this correction before.  Give my respect to all my friends in Siberia.  Be a good boy, keep a stiff upper lip and take good care of yourself.  Write whenever you can.  Remember that unless Congress passes some law for the relief of Graduation purchases, you will have to come down & build a house on your land, sure as fate.

May God bless and preserve you

G.A. Barber


Dear Son

I take it for granted that if you live till spring you will go to Lancaster as it will probably be necessary for you to attend to your land as soon as possible.  Now if you do not think you can come home after you have been there, I feel as tho’ I must go there myself and see you.  I do not see any thing to prevent my doing so, now, and if nothing happens to prevent I hope to have the pleasure of seeing you.

If you can come here next summer I should defer my visit until some future time ‘tho I should like much to see L. and some of its inhabitants before long as I may like the place well enough to wish to stay.  Tell me what you think of the place.

Your affectionate Mother


Cambridge Sunday March 1st 1857

My Dear Son

Do you get any letters from home this long cold winter?  If you do you are more fortunate than we have been, for since my parting with you we have had but 4 letters 2 dated Nov 9th 1 Nov 22 & 1 Dec 13th & now there is a tedious period of 77 days in which we have known nothing of your health, your welfare or sufferings, or even of your existence.  You may be assured that we are growing very impatient to get letters from you, & think they will arrive soon, & in the meantime will console ourselves with the thought or rather hopes that you are yet alive & well, that we shall yet have good tidings from you, when the mail are to be carried around the shores of the Lake & through the forests.

There is nothing new, to write to you to day, only the same old story that we are all three well as could be expected under the circumstances.  Our snow went off the 1st week in Feb and we have only a few days good traveling since.

The snow is gone in the woods so that we can get around with perfect ease anywhere, & the prospect is that it will be the best season for Sugaring that we have had for 10 years.  Amherst & I are thinking of rigging up another small sugar place up in the woods east of the Gooseberry Hill, & making a few pounds of the delicious article.  Sugar is now worth from 10 to 12 ½ cts and they are ready to contract for it at 10 ½ now.  There has been some made the last week, though but few have commenced as yet.

Wyman Perry talks of starting in a few days for the Great West, he is here now, & I am advising him to go to Lancaster, thinking there will be a land call for Carpenters [?????] to build all the Buildings that are to dot the graduated lands.

I have just been reading three of the last letters written by our dear Augustus home, & to see the high hopes he had of doing well there & the indomitable energy that led him on, as he & any body else might have supposed, to affluence & and an honorable position in the world, and then to see all those bright hopes & prospects crushed in an hour & what is infinetely and painfully worse to lose him who was the light & hopes of us all.  Oh the thought that he who was suffering such hardships and privations in hopes of seeing brighter & happier days should be stricken down in a strange land, far from friends [?????] home, called in a moment to bid adieu to this bright earth, to all hopes of seeing friends & home & keep to the dark watery grave & into that unknown future world, where realms are forever sealed from the knowledge of the living, the thought I say is almost insupportable.  May God keep you from such a fate my dear Son.  Do be careful of your precious life & health & if our dear Augustus is gone where we may never see him again, we have his good examples, his virtues, & his valuable letters & papers, that are worthy of our highest regard & from which we may still derive instruction & benefit though he is as I [?????] believe in a happier state of being.

I do believe there was never any young man or any man in Cambridge whose death caused such a profound grief throughout the entire circle of his acquaintances as did the Melancholy death of our dear departed one, & well may humanity mourn his loss for he was one of [???] noblest specimens, & the loss of one such is more to be lamented than that of a regiment of senseless fops & rowdies who are suffered to curse the earth with their hated presence.  That we may all meet him, in another & better world is a fond hope to which I most fondly cling.

Monday 2nd March

I believe this is somebody’s birth day.  Oh that you were here to spend it with your parents & surviving brother.  How much joy it would be to us all, yourself included I trust. We had a letter from Alvira last week by which we learn that She has been something of a rambler since September 1st for she says that with her husband she went to Wis. as far as Beaver Dam, thence back to Chicago & from there to Quincy Ill. down on the Miss 200 or 300 miles below Galena where they remained till into January when they returned, to Winooski.  Brink has since gone to Troy N.Y. to work & [??] is boarding, talkings of coming up here to stay a while this spring in sugaring.  Would not you like to be here with us.  We are all hands going to getting in at the Cruping Rock to fill an ice house at Bush on the Carlston [???] to day, & that brings to mind the changed condition of our neighborhood.  Kingsbury owns the Wetherby farm & lives in the farther house, & two French families live in the Wetherby house.  George Busk owns & lives on the Carlston place.  Mr Green has let out his farm and moves away this spring.  Atwood does not keep a boat so that all communication with them is cut off except by ice (I went over there last night with Am. crossing on a small ice bridge yet remaining at the road & Oscar returned with us) & by wading as Am & Oscar used to do last summer to get together.  The school has all dwindled out, there not being more than 20 scholars in the district, beside French children, & taken altogether it does not seem like a very desirable place to spend a long & happy life.

The river is taking off the banks at an alarming rate & within a few years will have carried the whole meadow away.

If this reaches you & the many more I have sent out on Monday Mornings you will have some reading to do & I hope it may stimulate you to write oftener to your

Anxious and Affectionate father

G.A. Barber

It is now in contemplation to build you some good substantial clothing from the beset of [Gibon?] a business coat some pants & a vest, shirts, socks, mitts gloves &c &c & I am going to have about 12 or 15 pr of good stout pants made to carry up for such as may prefer to buy good articles, rather than the twice or thrice ground over rag cloth that scarcely lasts a fellow home.  If you come down to Lancaster you will find your & Augustus clothes there to make you a decent rig up while you remain there. I believe I will write to Norman Washburn to engage some lumber for you to use about your house.  He lives on the [??????] & is an agent for some body who deals in lumber about 10 miles from your land… Perhaps I will engage a quantity for myself to use at some future day on our pretty little farm at the village.

The Mail will be along soon, so I must have this ready.  Once more I say be careful of your life & health.  May a Merciful Providence protect you & bless you in all your lawful undertakings.

Giles A. Barber

My respects to the boys & all friends


Cambridge Sunday March 8th 1857

Dear Son Allen.

Why do we get no letters or word from you?  It does seem as though we should have had something from you, within 85 days if you had been in the land of the living.

Are you still alive & well?  If so, why do you not write?  Or are there no mails from where you are, to the habitable portions of the globe?  How does this long silence happen?  I write these questions as though you could answer them in a few days time, not realising that it may be a month or two before they reach you & that ere that time I may get letters from you fully explaining all the delay of letters & tidings from that winter isolated region of the earth…  I have great fears for the safety of yourself & party, the snows have been so deep and the cold so intense, & that if you are alive and well you have been unable to make any progress in the survey for the above reasons.  I see by the G. C. Herald that a party of “Engineers on the N.W. Land Grant R.R. have suspended work till spring the great depth of snow & intense cold of the winter offering insurmountable obstacles to their progress.

I also see an article in relation to graduation lands that is favorable to you, I will cut it out & enclose it to you.  By it, you will see that if the law passes, it will have to be shown that the Lands were not entered in good faith, before they can deprive you of yours, & that you will probably have no trouble with having to comply with any requisitions whatever unless perhaps you may deem it best to show that almost from the time of the entry of [?] lands you have been engaged in surveying on the Public Domain & have even designed to improve & reside upon the lands by you entered.

Mr Caleb Blake has just called and staid 2 ½ hours, on his way from the Borough to Lowell where he & family reside.  Jo is in New Jersey in an architects office & is going to rival old Greece & Rome in the building art.  Mrs Blake is yet living & enjoying a tolerable degree of health, for one who has been sick as long as she has.  Tom Edwards came in here last night about sunset & was very sick, greatly distressed with [Albe?], thought he would have to stay all night, but finally went home preferring to get there while he could, have heard nothing from him since, presume he will do a good days work to morrow.  Last Sunday [L?????] Parker daughter of Otis Parker (usually called “Cienta”) was buried, she having cut her throat with a case knife, cause probably insanity from severe pain in the back of the head & in the neck.  The family is now residing in Belviders.

Amherst’s red embroidered shirt was may have been a ribbon shirt from the Lake Superior Chippewas.

I got a letter last Tuesday from your Aunt Martha, who says that Mr B. had not gone to Wis. yet, had written to have Thode come home, was waiting till he came, so as not to pass him on the way & then it would chiefly depend on Thode whether they even went west or not, as they are very anxious to settle down somewhere, & have him willing & contented to stay with them.  I expect Thode will be at home soon & have that matter settled.  It will hard for the poor boy to leave his dear Miss P. & come to Vermont, & that very thing may have some influence in determining their residence.  I wrote yesterday by Mail & to day by Kingsbury to St. Albans & by to morrow night shall get answers to them, & to 3 o’clock, the folks i.e. Marm & Am have just got home from Meeting.  I chose to send him hoping he would imbibe more good than I could expect to do.  He wears the embroidered Red shirt as bold as any half breed to meeting to mills.

I know not but you are tired of receiving so many letters from me, but I do not yet believe “that receiving so many letters will make them of less value than they would be if recd more seldom”, as have heard argued this very day, but it would not be proper for me to state by whom, whether Am. or some body else that thought so much of saving 3 ¢ postage, nor did I think “He (yourself) is not concerned about us & needs not to hear from home so often.”  I have written every week but one, since getting home & if there has been great delay of mails, you will get letters by the bundle when they do come & then perhaps you will need a good stock of patience & time to enable you to ever get through them.  One thing you may rely upon, the perusal will not pay a great profit.. but you will see that you are not forgotten, if you are out the civilised world.  Especially by your

Affectionate father G.A. Barber

Do be careful of yourself
My respects to your companions
And to all friends & acquaintances
Write! Write!!  Write!!! oftener if you can.

March 9th 5 o’clock a.m.

All well.  Weather cold.
Hard South East Wind.  Got Sabrina Chase last night to make you some clothes, & some pants to take up to your country to sell.  Mrs Tracy of Johnson was buried yesterday.  Deacon Reynolds father to Harry Reynolds died a few days ago aged 91 years.

When shall I hear from you again????


Allen.

We wish very much that we could hear from you to know what you are up to & how you passed this winter & spring.  But we hope to get some thing from you soon.  I wish you could be here to make sugar with me this spring.  I intend to tap a lot of trees a way back in the woods & care it on my self.  Wouldn’t that be fun!

Should you wish not be bashful about going to help the squaws that sugar there shall you?  I cannot write any thing more at present but I will write when we hear from you.

A.W.B.


Cambridge March 19th 1857

Dear Son

The Barber Papers do not include copies of any letters from Lake Superior during the Winter of 1857.

We were happily surprised last night at receiving two letters from you, one a good long one to me dated at La Pointe Feb 13th & the other to Amherst dated at Mr Fargo’s new house on the 22nd ult.

The Barbers had plans to purchase supplies for Ironton from merchants in Ashland including Albert McEwen.

I rec’d also 3 other letters one from your uncle Allen, one from your Aunt Martha & one from Hyde back on business.  I am much alarmed for the safety of Friend McEwen & think the prospect of his being alive is very small.  The case deserves a rigid investigation to ascertain whether he was murdered by his guides, or was deserted by them & left to perish in the wilderness.  The weather was favorable about that time & for some days after.  I think he left La Pointe Oct. 14th the day I got back from Montreal River.  ‘Poor Mc’

In your Uncle Allen’s letter I find a notice from J. C. Squire Register of the Land Office at Mineral Point dated March 2nd in which he says

you are hereby called upon to produce testimony to perfect your title to the land entered by you on the 25th day of May 1857 at this office for Certificate of purchase No 25532 for actual settlement & cultivation under the provisions of the act of Congress &c &c.  If such testimony be not produced at this Office before the 1st day of June 1857, it will be regarded as an abandonment of your claim to the Land & the case will be reported at the General Land Office, in order that steps may be taken for throwing the land into Market again after proper notice.”

Your Uncle says

“I presume Allen had better make some improvements on his land before June 1st or by making [affe?] that he does not intend immediately to settle & that he desires to pay the bal. $75cts per a & enter in the land, he can do so.  I presume some one has complained, who wishes to get the land.

— Congress passed an act authorising patents to issue in all cases where complaints is not made before June as I understand.  If Allen will come down & make some improvement probably that would be the cheapest & besides he would have the money on his land.”

Now you have the sum & substance of the matter i.e. if you ever receive this & you will probably do in relation thereto as you deem most expedient.

Cyrus has P. the taxes on your land this winter $15.50 & says “a School house tax has been raised in that neighborhood the cause of it being so much.”  Your land will be worth enough more to pay for it.  Thode Burr has not got home yet he is in Howe & Barber’s store.  Mr Burr has not gone out there as yet but started for N.Y. yesterday with Emily on business for some other man when E. will stay 3 or 4 weeks.  Sugaring has begun & it is very nasty rainy weather today.

While in Congress (from March 4, 1853 to March 3, 1857), Honorable Alvah Sabin served as chairman for the Committee on Revisal and Unfinished Business in the Thirty-fourth Congress.
“The Committee on Revisal and Unfinished Business monitored the business of Congress during its early years when unfinished business was terminated at the end of each session, and it recommended procedures to accomplish the work of Congress leaving as little unfinished business as possible.”
~ Guide to House Records

I am glad to learn that Mr Hayes has got through with that Land Claim, if it be really so.  But why should he write me that an appeal was taken & cause me the trouble of getting Mr Sabin to attend to it for me in Washington?  I have got 1 bag [pr,?] good [Gihow?] pants made to carry up to the lake.  Cut & made in the best manner, lined with heavy cotton, pockets of sout drilling.  Shall have 2 coats made for you 1 a very fine [Gihow Prown?] & I do [Grey?] for work.  If anybody wants good durable pants they will do well to see of me.

I have not much of consequence to write at this time more than you will find in the foregoing.  We are all well & com-fort-a-ble.

I have a lame knee, made some worn by going to the top of Billings hill with Amherst & Oscar last Sunday.  They were going & wanted one to go to point out to them the different places to be seen from there, & as it was one of the prettiest days in town I went with them.

Amherst is going to carry on a small sugar place where Mr Harvey used to make sugar.  Them is a great stripe for making sweet, by everybody who are snatching for Buckets & everything pertaining to the business.

It is about mail time & I must dry up.

Give my inputs to all friends.

Affectionately yours

G. A. Barber


To be continued in the Spring of 1857

By Amorin Mello

This summer was a time of trauma for the Barber family immediately following the death of Augustus Hamilton Barber at the mouth of the Montreal River near his town-site claim of Ironton during the Spring of 1856.  Augustus had unfinished business on Lake Superior, which was being attended to by his brother Allen and father Giles in mourning.  

1856-08-19 Superior Chronicle - Ironton

Item from the Superior Chronicle, August 19th, 1856.  Ironton was platted during February of 1856 according to the Bayfield Mercury, August 15th, 1857.

The Summer of 1857 was also a when the town-site claims of Ashland and Ironton were being established and platted by merchants near the east and west borders of the Bad River Indian Reservation.  Several memoirs about the early days of Ashland and Ironton will be featured in this post to provide context due to copies of certain letters being missing from the Barber Papers.  Only one letter was archived from the Summer of 1856 in the Joel Allen Barber Papers, located at the end of this post.

Oral history traditions from the Lake Superior Chippewa tell about how the language describing the exterior boundaries of the LaPointe Indian Reservation were changed sometime between the 1854 Treaty of LaPointe negotiations and when it was ratified by Congress in 1855.  According to at least one oral history, both Ashland and Ironton were located within the boundaries negotiated at the treaty.


The Ashland Press

January 4, 1873

Ashland! It’s Growth During the Year 1872

A Quarter of a Million Dollars Expended in Improvements.
A Full List Of Buildings—Docks—And Railroad Work
ALL HAIL TO THE IRON CITY

The history of Ashland, full and complete, would require more space, and more labor in its preparation, than we can possibly give it at this time. Nor is it necessary in connection with this summary of its growth during the first year of its regenerated existence, to enter into an elaborate or extended article upon its past fortunes, but merely to give an outline showing its first organization, and a few of the most important items incident to its early settlement. This much we shall endeavor to do in this article, and no more, leaving other and better informed persons to give a full and accurate historical record, hereafter.

The Ashland Press
July 6, 1933
by Guy M. Burnham
During the month of February 1854, Leonard Wheeler, the missionary and an Odanah Indian met at Odanah, where Mr. Wheeler then lived, and drove on the ice along the south shore of the Chequamegon Bay, from Kakagon to Fish Creek. It was the year of the great treaty, in which the Indians agreed to cede most of their lands to the United States and to reserve tracts for their permanent homes. The Indians were glad to do this, for only four years before; the government had decided to move the Chippewa to the Minnesota country. William Whipple Warren led a large delegation to Minnesota but like all others who were interested, they much preferred Wisconsin. Leonard Wheeler himself, took up the cudgel of his wards, and practically led the fight to prevent the removal of the Chippewas from Wisconsin, but in 1854, it was understood that some sort of agreement was going to have to be reached, for white settlers were looking to the north, and they need an outlet to Lake Superior. The Indians realized that they would have to do something so Wheeler, the missionary and Little Current [aka Naawajiwanose], the Chippewa, were delegated to look over the south shore of Chequamegon Bay. William Wheeler who was a small boy accompanied his father and the Indian on the trip, says that the Indians furnished the pony and the missionary the cutter, and they drove down past where Ashland now stands, to the extreme head of the bay. From the head of the bay region, at Fish Creek to nearly where Whittlesey afterwards built his first house, there was a straggling Indian settlement, which the Indians called Equadon.
Every foot of land from Fish Creek to Odanah was Indian Land. It was in this settlement or village, which the wife of Robert Boyd, Jr., told me her father, lived in Equadon, near the many flowing springs, which we now call Prentice Park. The Indians thought the western limits of the proposed reservation of Bad River, should be the west end of the bay, but the missionary pointed out that that would keep the white men from building a city on the south shore of the bay, and that it would be advantageous to the Indians to have such a city built, as it would furnish a market for their furs and other products they might have for sale. Little Current agreed to this, and then and there, the agreed on the western limits of the Bad River Reservation should begin at the Kakagon just as it is now, extending the reservation far enough south to make up for the loss of the frontage from Kakagon to Fish Creek. Asaph Whittlesey frequently talked with Leonard Wheeler about good sites along the south shore and so about four months after the momentous trip of Leonard Wheeler and Little Current, near the end of February. Asaph Whittlesey and George Kilbourne rowed a boat over from Bayfield and felled the first tree, built the first house, establishing the settlement, which was to be known for about six years as Whittlesey. When Whittlesey felled the first tree on July 5, 1854, the land still belonged to the Indians. Three months later, on September 30, 1854, the Treaty of La Pointe was signed, under which Bad River, Lac Courte Oreilles, Red Cliff, the tip of Madeline Island, and Lac du Flambeau were reserved, but it was not until January 10, 1855, that the Senate ratified the treaty, which became a law by proclamation of President Franklin Pierce, on January 29, 1855.
Although Whittlesey built his first house on land, which still belonged to the Indians, there was little danger of the Wheeler-Little Current agreement being disturbed, and Whittlesey became Ashland in 1860. The head of the bay, which then, as well as now, swarmed with fish and game, became a part of the white man’s domain, and this included the Place of Many Springs, Prentice Park.

~ TurtleTrack.org

Old Ashland, to be properly written up, should be woven into the history of all the country extending from the head of Lake Superior to Ontonagon. This section from the beginning of the first settlements has been intimately connected in all its various fortunes, and its people of that date should be considered as one, and spoken of as the early day pioneers on the Lake. Scarcely an enterprise was attempted that a majority were not more or less interested in, and the early Ashlander was not satisfied with being limited to one small portion as the place of his adoption, but generally considered himself honored only when credited with being a citizen of the “Superior Country,” or as many term it, “of Lake Superior.” Like the old fashioned “Queen’s arm” the early settlers “scattered” terribly, and hence we find them at the present day, posessors of corner lots in exploded townsites, parchment mining stocks, iron lands, copper mines, mineral claims and silver veins, in almost every section of the south shore that has been explored. To enumerate all the enterprises attempted by these enterprising, pushing-ahead, speculating men, would be too great an undertaking for us, but a book, well written, giving a thorough history of their operations, would not only be intensely interesting, but posess a value scarcely to be enumerated. But it is not our purpose to digress. We have to do with Ashland only, and chiefly with its present growth and future prospects.

The Ashland of to-day was formerly Bay City, St. Mark and Ashland, two distinct townsites, located but half a mile apart, the intervening territory being that platted as St. Mark, best known as Vaughn’s Division. Each of these divisions has a history of its own, though of course more or less connected with each other in common interests. These three divisions have, since the new enterprise sprang into existence, been joined together and now constitutes the city of Ashland, all parties interested working harmoniously for the common interest and a general prosperity.

The Ashland Press
August 28, 1920
“Mr. [William] Wheeler was born at the mission at Odanah and remembers distinctly of a trip he made with his father [Leonard Wheeler] and one of the Indian Chiefs [Little Current aka Naawajiwanose], into the country to establish the boundary limes of the Bad River reservation. The Indians wanted the boundary line at Fish Creek but Rev. Wheeler told them to leave a site where the present city not stands, for he was certain that a big city would grow up and big boats from the outer world would sail into the harbor and that the people would furnish a market for the Indian’s products.”
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

On the 5th day of July, 1854, Asaph Whittlesey and George Kilbourn landed on the bank of Ashland bay, and immediately commenced the erection of a claim shanty, within fifty feet of the west line of Section 5, Town 47 north, Range 4 west, in Ashland proper. The first tree was felled by Mr. Whittlesey, on that day, and by night the first log house, 14×16, was commenced. On the 27th day of August this building was occupied by Mr. Whittlesey’s family. It was used many years after for various purposes, and its ruins can still be found on the bank of the bay. During the same season the small log house near the present residence of James A. Wilson, Esq., on lot 6, block 6 was built, and in November of the same year the largest of the three log houses now standing on the same lot was completed and became the residence of Mr. Whittlesey, which he occupied until the fall of 1857. This house has quite a history. It has witnessed many an exciting and tragic scene, as well as many a pleasant and happy gathering. If its walls could speak, and possessed the genius of a Shakspeare, they would tell a story that would out rival in magic fascination any work of fiction. It was within its walls that the first permanent white settlers in Ashland dwelt. In its spacious room in the winter of 1854, the man of God, the missionary in the cause of Christ, preached the first sermon ever preached on the town-site. The minister was the late Rev. L.H. Wheeler, founder of the Odanah Mission, and a man known as a good and earnest Christian missionary, loved and respected by all the border settlement. It was here that the first ball was given in 1854; the first Fourth of July celebrated, in 1855, some thirty persons participating. It was the first post office, established in March, 1855, with Mr. Whittlesey as P.M. It was here too, that the first election was held, in the spring of 1856, at which time the town of Bayport, (which included Ashland and Bay City and all the surrounding county,) was organized. It was also the scene of a sad tragedy, when Henry Cross, in self defense, shot and killed Robert D. Boyd in 1858. The first Sabbath School was organized in this house in 1858, by Ingraham Fletcher, Esq. It was also, May 31st, 1856, the birth place of Miss Delia E. Whittlesey, the second white child born in the town, the first birth being that of Katherine Goeltz, early in the same month. Many other interesting events might be enumerated as belonging to its history, but space forbids. The old house still remains a monument of Ashland’s former glory.

The first freight ever landed from a steamer in our harbor, was in September, 1854. The steamer “Sam Ward,” Capt. Exsterbrook, brought the household goods of Mr. Whittlesey to Ashland at that time, and they were landed in small boats in the ravine near the foot of Main street.

“The first marriage in the town was that of Martin Roehm to Mrs. Modska, in the fall of 1859, John W. Bell officiating, (music furnished by Conrad Goeltz,)” and a good time generally indulged in by all who participated in the festivities. And here let us state that Ashland was never forsaken by this sturdy veteran pioneer couple. They stood by the place with characteristic German fidelity, king and queen of the deserted village, corner lots and all until the dawn of the new era commenced.

The Indian in his might
Roamed monarch of this wild domain,
With none to bar his right.
Excepting fearless Martin Rhoem.

The first government survey of the territory around the head of the bay was made in 1848, when the township lines were run by S.C. Norris, deputy U.S. Surveyor. It was not subdivided, however, until 1856. The town-site of Ashland, embracing lots 1, 2 and 3, and the N. half of the S.W. quarter, N.W. quarter of S.E. quarter and N.E. quarter Section 5, Town 47, Range 4, was surveyed and platted by G.L. Brunschweiler in 1854, and entered at the United Stated Land Office, at Superior, by Schuyler Goff, County Judge, under the laws then governing the location of town-sites on Lake Superior, December 11th, 1856, for the use and benefit of the owners and occupants thereof, viz: “Asaph Whittlesey, George Kilbourne and Martin Beaser.”

Most of the names mentioned in this article also appeared in the Penoka Survey Incidents series.

Succeeding the first settlement above mentioned, the population of Ashland increased quite rapidly. During the year 1854 several families moved in. Among the new corners were Martin Beaser, J. P. S. Haskell, Austin Cousen, John Cousen, Conrad Goeltz, A. J. Barclay, Capt. J. D. Angus, G. L. Brunschweiler, Frederic Prentice, Adam Goeltz, John Donaldson, David Lusk and Albert Little. Of these a few remained only a short time, coming merely for temporary purposes. 1855 brought a still larger increase of inhabitants, among them M. H. Mandlebaum (now a resident of Hancocck, Mich.), Augustus Barber (who was drowned at Montreal River in 1856), Benj. Hoppenyan, Chas. Day, Geo R. Stuntz, George E. Stuntz, Dr. Edwin Ellis, Martin Roehm, Col. Lysander Cutler, J. S. Buck, Ingraham Fletcher, Hon. J. R. Nelson, Hon. D. A. J. Baker, Mrs. Conrad Goeltz, Henry Drixler (father of Mrs. Conrad Goeltz, who died in 1857, his being the first death in town), and Henry Palmer.  In 1856, Mrs. Beaser (now Mrs. James A. Wilson) arrived, also Oliver St. Germain and family, still here; Mrs. J.D. Angus and family, John Beck and family, Schuyler Goff (afterwards County Judge) and Chas. E. Tucker. In 1857, Mr. Eugene F. Prince and family, A. C. Stuntz and family, Wm. Goetzenberger, Geo. Tucker and others arrived.

Vaughn, Ellis, and Beaser are the names of prominent avenues in Ashland today.

On the 25th of October, 1856, Hon. S.S. Vaughn pre-empted Lot 1, Section 32, Town 48, Range 4, and the East half of the N.E. quarter and the N.E. quarter of the S.E. quarter Section 5, Town 47, Range 4, the same being now Vaughn’s Division of Ashland. In 1856 Bay City was surveyed and platted, the town-site being owned by a stock company, of which Dr. Edwin Ellis was the agent. Under his direction a large clearing was made, a store, hotel and several substantial buildings created. A saw mill was also commenced, the frame of which is now standing near the east end of the new bridge across Bay Creek creek. During the same year and the next following improvements were being rapidly made in old Ashland. Martin Beaser, Esq., who was the leading business man and property holder of the place, gave it its name, (after the homestead of Henry Clay, he being an ardent admirer of that eminent statesman,) and erected the store and residence now occupied by James A. Wilson, Esq. Eugene F. Prince built his present residence, and quite a number of dwellings were put up, several of which are still standing and have been fitted up and occupied, while others have been destroyed or fallen into decay. Temporary docks were built both at Bay City and Ashland.

The Ashland dock was built by Martin Beaser and cost about $4,000. Both however were allowed to rot down and wash away. Main street and a portion of what is now Second street, as well as a number of avenues were opened and improved. Additions were also platted, and most prominent being ”Prentice’s Addition,” in 1856, and the Ashland of that day presented a live and vigorous aspect, containing as it did a thrifty and energetic class of citizens.

With the continuing reports of minerals in the area and some mining being done, another group of hopefuls sought recognition as a corporation and received charter to begin mining.  This corporation was formed in Milwaukee and was known as the Wisconsin & Lake Superior Mining & Smelting Co.  Its charter was granted in 1856 by the State of Wisconsin, and with the charter the company was granted about 1,900 acres of land in the Penokee Range, some of which is now in Iron County and some in Ashland County.”
[…]
“The other two villages planned for their mining venture were Springdale and Lockwood.”
[…]

“Ironton was the headquarters for the officers for only a short time.  They moved their office duties to Ashland shortly after getting established.

The names of some of the merchants from Ashland who planned to be the suppliers for these villages included McElwin [McEwen], Herbert and Mandelbaum.  Herbert’s name is mentioned in other areas as well as the name of Mandelbaum, who is mentioned in the history of Ontonagon also.”
~ A Historical and Archaeological Reconnaissance of the Saxon Harbor area, Iron County, Wisconsin by John F Wackman et al, pages 57-58.

This was in an era of speculation and Lake Superior the theatre of many a town-site and mining operation, The Penoka Iron Range had begun to attract the attention of eastern capitalists, while the Copper Range and the mineral regions of the Porcupine Mountains had drawn thither a number of daring adventurers, who sought their fortunes in the discovery of valuable metals. Railroads too were projected then, and the brave surveyors with their compass and chains were penetrating the forest and engineering a path through a trackless wilderness to the land of civilization that lay far away to the south. Ashland then, as now, was the center of attraction, and to possess corner lots and broad acres was to realize one’s fortune.

But Ashland was not alone in its glory. Superior City, at the head of the Lake; Red Cliff, Bayfield, Houghton and La Pointe, among the Apostle harbors; Ironton, near the mouth of Montreal river on Raymond Bay; and Ontonagon, Copper Harbor, Eagle River, Hancock, Houghton and Marquette, on the peninsula of Michigan, were each points of interest and struggling for an existence, their claims being urged by their proprietors with characteristic energy. Money was lavishly expended; mining both of copper and iron largely engaged in and the whole country was apparently undergoing that rapid development that leads to general prosperity and thrift.

[…]


The Ashland Press

February 26, 1926

CITY OF ASHLAND IS 72 YEARS OLD TODAY

The Ashland Press
May 3, 1910
“In the year 1855, Dr. Edwin Ellis located upon land to the eastward of Whittleseys. Instead of locating under the town site laws, Mr. Ellis entered a homestead and began to literally hue out his path to civilization. Several of the doctor’s friends joined him and located on adjacent land and soon there was a plat filed of the town of ‘Bayport.’ After a few years of continuous hardships and disappointments, the hardy pioneers became disheartened and some even moved away. The plat of ‘Bayport’ was declared vacated, but when business began to revive and new settlers came in 1872, the old town plat was revived and reinstated by Dr. Ellis as Ellis Division of the city of Ashland.”
~ Wisconsin Historical Society
Ellis successfully petitioned Warner Lewis at the General Land Office in Dubuque to survey Chequamegon Bay.  This was the contract the Barber Brothers had completed in the Summer and Fall of 1855.
The American Fur Company at La Pointe was now owned and operated by Julius Austrian and his family.  Austrian was contracted to operate (via Mixed-Bloods) the mail route between La Pointe and St. Paul.

The city of Ashland is seventy-two years old today, for on Feb. 24, 1854, Dr. Edwin Ellis landed in Ashland, at a spot where Whittesey Avenue now is located. Dr. and Mrs. Ellis had come from Maine and stopped at St. Paul, with Mrs. Ellis’ brother. From St. Paul, Dr. Ellis walked all the way to Superior. Then to Bayfield, then to La Pointe, in the ice, and then on to Ashland. He constructed the first log cabin at what is now Whittlesey Avenue. Asaph Whittlesey and Kilbourn, the next white men to come to this part of the country, arrived in June or July of the same year.

In 1855, Dr. Ellis walked to Dubuque, Iowa to file a petition to have this country surveyed. The trail which he took was know as the St. Croix Falls and from there Dr. Ellis took a steamer down the river to Dubuque. In 1856 he went to St. Paul and brought Mrs. Ellis and the two girls back with him.

The American Fur Company was situated at La Pointe, at this time but had very little to do with the mainland. The people in the early days sent to Chicago for their supplies. As there was always somebody walking to St. Paul they would send their orders by one of these men and from there the mail was taken to Chicago. The suppliers would come up on the last boat which came up Lake Michigan to what is now the Soo Canal.

Twice the boats on their last trip were wrecked and the early settlers would be without supplies for the winter.

The principal food was fish. Deer at that time always left the country during the winter.

Martin Beaser and party arrived here a short time after the Ellis’ but the Beasers settled on the shore where Beaser Avenue is now situated. This whole country was a mass of woods and the Beaser home. which is now the Jack Harris home, was practically the only house at what is called Old Ashland. When the Ellis Family visited the Beasers they had to hitch up the oxen and go through the dense woods.

Scott Ellis was born August 24, 1824, which is also the birthday of Queen Victoria. He died May 3, 1903, at Ashland, after watching the city grow from a dense forest to the present city.


The Ashland Weekly Press became the Ashland Daily Press.

July 28, 1877

Recollections of Ashland

“OF WHICH I WAS A PART”
Number V

This memoir was ghostwritten for The Ashland Press by Doctor Edwin Ellis.

Mr. Dear Press: – As has been already stated, the land on which Ashland now stands, had not, at the time of its first settlement, in 1854, been surveyed.  The town lines had only been laying off the country into blocks six miles square.

Detail from Sketch of the Public Surveys in Wisconsin and Territory of Minnesota by the Surveyor General's Office (Warner Lewis), Dubuque, Oct. 21, 1854.

Detail from Sketch of the Public Surveys in Wisconsin and Territory of Minnesota by the Surveyor General’s Office (Warner Lewis), Dubuque, Oct. 21, 1854.

“In 1845 [Warnen Lewis] was appointed Register of the United States Land Office at Dubuque. In 1853 he was appointed by President Pierce Surveyor-General for Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota and at the expiration of his term was reappointed by President Buchanan.”
~ The Iowa Legislature

When the settlers made their claims, as most of us did, near the town lines, we were able, by the use of pocket compasses approximately to fix the boundaries of our claims.  But no title could be obtained, nor even any safe foundation for a title laid, until the lands should be subdivided into sections, and the returns of that survey made to the Surveyor General’s Office, and by that officer platted or mapped, and then plats and notes sent to the General Land Office at Washington, and from there transmitted to the Local Land office.  At that date the local office was at the town of Hudson, on Lake St. Croix, two hundred miles away.  But early in 1855 an office was established at Superior, at the west end of the Lake, – and though this was nearly a hundred miles from Ashland, – with no roads, compelling settlers in summer to coast in open boats, and in winter to walk this distance.  Still it was a very great favor to settlers here, and greatly lessened their hardships, and facilitated the acquisition of their lands.

Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota, then were embraced in one Surveyor’s District, with the office at Dubuque, Iowa.  It was the duty of the Surveyor General to provide for the details of the Government Surveys in his district, as fast as the settlement of the country might require.  Gen’l. Warner Lewis was then Surveyor General of this District.

“In June, 1855, Dr. Ellis went through the woods to Dubuque, Iowa, to urge upon General Warner Lewis, then surveyor-general of all the northwest, the neccessity of the immediate subdivision of the towns about the bay.  This met with General Lewis’ approval, and he ordered it done as soon as arrangements could be made.  A young civil engineer from Vermont, Augustus Barber, began the work in September, and towns 47 and 48, range 4, embracing the present city of Ashland, were surveyed and the plats returned to Washington and to the land office, at Superior, by November, 1855.  The necessary declaratory statements were filed, and in the last of December several companions walked along the shore to superior, for the purpose of proving up their claims.  It was a cold, hard trip, but the actors were young and energetic.  Thus was obtained from the government the first title to the soil on which Ashland now stands.”
~ The National Magazine; A Monthly Journal of American History, Volume 9, page 23.
Superior City’s controversial origins were featured in the Prologue post of this series.  The Barber Brothers’ surveys of Chequamegon Bay and Ashland were featured in the Summer and Fall posts of 1855.

No steps having been taken or any order given for the survey of the shore of Chequamegon Bay, in June 1855, Dr. Ellis left in an open boat for Superior, then on foot through the wilderness to St. Paul, following not far from the route over which many years later was constructed the Lake Superior & Mississippi R.R., – then an early settlement here induced Gen. Lewis to order an immediate subdivision of Towns 47 and 48, North of Range 4 and 5 West, both sides of our bay, and all the lands on which squatters had settled.

Early in September of that year, (1855), Augustus H. Barber began the survey and pushed the work rapidly, so that he had completed 47 and 48 of Range 4 in October, and the returns  had been made and plats prepared and forwarded to the local land office by the first of December.

The Pre-emptors now, for the first time, could file claims to their lands and receive assurance that they were likely to be the owners of their homes.

Superior City’s controversial origins were featured in the Prologue post of this series.

During December many pre-emption claims were filed, and during the closing days of the year and in the first days of 1856, quite a number proved up those claims and received duplicates, upon which patents were afterwards issued.  These were the earliest titles to the present site of Ashland.  Unlike many towns in the West at that period our site was not cursed with complicating claims, and it is cause for congratulation that Ashland property has no cloud upon its title and that every buyer may, with little trouble, assure himself o this fact.  The title to a portion of the site of Superior was bitterly contested involving years of delay and thousands of dollars of cost and much acrimony of feeling; and it is possible that this may have had its influence in carrying the railroad to Duluth rather than to Superior.  Quarrels over title are a curse to any town, especially a new one.

Gravestone at Hillside Cemetery in Lancaster, Grant County, Wisconsin:

“IN MEMORY OF
AUGUSTUS H. BARBER
of Cambridge, Vt.
U.S. Deputy Surveyor
who was drowned in Montreal River.
Apr. 22. A.D. 1856
Aged 24 yrs. & 8 ms.”
~ FindAGrave.com

Of Augustus Barber the early Surveyor of this vicinity, who is unknown to a larger part of this generation, a few words ought to be said:

He was a native of Vermont of an excellent family. At this time he was 22 years of age, well educated, gentle as a lady, refined and easy in his manners and very amiable in his temper. Like many other young men from the east, of active enterprising habits, he had come into this outer verge of civilization to make this his home and to grow up with its institutions. He was the nephew of Hon. J. Allen Barber, of Lancaster, in this State, who once represented his District in Congress. He continued in the surveys of this part of the Lake until in the summer or fall of 1856, when he, with others, conceived of the idea of founding a city at the mouth of the Montreal River – the dividing line between Wisconsin and Michigan about thirty miles east of Ashland.

“According to the Bureau of Public Lands, Department of the Interior, the land surveys were not completed in that area [Ironton] of Wisconsin nor offered for sale to the public until November 18, 1866.

[…]

“A practical location for an operating headquarters was chosen at the site of the Indian settlement on the shore of Lake Superior on that piece of level ground where there were mountains on three sides and through which a creek ran.  The village at this location was named Ironton, and because of the activities planned for it and two other mining locations farther inland a group of merchants from Ashland assisted in building up this boat landing and supply headquarters.  A dock was built and several buildings for warehouses and some living quarters.”

~ A Historical and Archaeological Reconnaissance of the Saxon Harbor area, Iron County, Wisconsin by John F Wackman et al, pages 57-58.

The iron range approaches nearer the Lake at that point than it does at Ashland. And though the country is much rougher and more difficult for construction of roads than between Ashland and the Range, yet the shorter route, it was argued, would more than compensate for the heavier grades. –The town was laid out and platted by Mr. Barber.

As indication of its future chief industry, as the entry point of the iron range – it was called Ironton,” with the accent on the second syllable. Great expectations were entertained of the future importance of the place, and much land was entered in the vicinity.

The Montreal, not far from its mouth, leaps down a perpendicular descent of nearly a hundred feet presenting a wild and picturesque view. Being an enthusiastic lover of the beautiful of nature and desiring to reach a position underneath the falls, Mr. Barber in a canoe with two companions, approaching too close, were drawn in by the eddying whirlpool, the canoe was capsized, and before help could reach him he and one of his boatmen were drowned. his body was recovered and was buried on a sand hillock near the mouth of the same river in whose waters he met his death. Ironton has long been deserted, and Barber’s grave with its marble headstone, is the sole mark of that civilization, which twenty years ago there essayed to lay the foundation of a mart of commerce.

The surf of the waves of the lake in summer and fierce driving snow storms in winter, with solitude presiding over the grand orchestra, are perpetually chanting his mournful requiem, while a fond father and mother on the slopes of the distant Green Mountains are mourning bitterly the early death of their first born son.


Interior Field Notes

Ironton Townsite

La Pointe Indian Reservation

Township 47 North, Range 1 West

Barber, Augustus H.

November, 1856

Notebook ID: [N/a]

This survey is mentioned by multiple sources, however, the Barber Brothers’ field notes and plat map for Ironton from 1856 are not available from the General Land Office Records or from theWisconsin Public Lands Survey Records. Did Warner Lewis receive them at the General Land Office in Dubuque, Iowa?  The search for these survey notes continues.


Selected letters of the Joel Allen Barber Papers 

… continued from Spring of 1856.


Superior City Sept 15th 1856

Dear Mother

“Ironton’s potential was very promising.  While all the activity was taking place for a mining center, plans were being made by the Milwaukee & Superior Railroad to extend its line northward from Stevens Point to a terminus at Ironton at the shore of Lake Superior, then to continue west to Bay City (now Ashland).”[…]

“Besides the officers of the mining company, several businessmen of Ashland became interested in a railroad between Ashland Penokee Gap.

Some of these men were J.S. Beisch, Martin Beaser, John S. Harriss, I.A. Lapham, J.C. Cutler, Edwin Ellis and T.C. Dousman.  This railroad was to be the Ashland & Iron Mountain Railroad.  A lot of planning and some work was being done when quite suddenly the Panic of 1857 came on bursting many bubbles and bringing to a halt all of the mining activities, causing an exodus of many workers and a large number of potential settlers.”
~ A Historical and Archaeological Reconnaissance of the Saxon Harbor area, Iron County, Wisconsin by John F Wackman et al, page 60.

I wrote a few words to you a few days ago when I was unwell and had to be rather short.  I have since recovered my usual health and will try to write a longer letter, but I am afraid it will be of little interest.  I see you are anxious that I should quit the lake.  It is not strange that you should wish dread to have me remain here.  You wish me to come to [?] to Lancaster or any where but here.

Now to tell the truth I am as much attached to this lake as to any other place and I don’t know how to leave it.  I know its disadvantages and privations as well as any one.  I know the sweets of a more social life and much do I long for them.  I know the luxury of living on a fertile soil in a genial climate and hope some day to enjoy it, but still if my life is spared Lake Superior will probably see me occasionally for a number of years.

You ask me my opinion in preference between a good farm in Grant County and ten miles of forest in this country and be bound to it.  But I should not be bound to it if I owned [40/41?] miles and there are many farms about here worth more money than any farm on Lamoille river of twice the size.

Ironton townsite claim at Saxon Harbor with trails to Odanah and the Penoka Iron Range. (Detail from Wisconsin Public Land Survey Records)

Detail of Ironton property with trails to Odanah and the Penokee Mountains from T47N-R1W.  This survey map was from Elisha S Norris during 1861.

I hope to visit Lancaster this fall but the middle of winter will see me threading my way back to this wild country.  I would like extremely to visit Vermont next winter if possible but I expect my engagements will render it impossible.

I hope you will not dwell too much on the terrors of his country and fancy I am suffering all imaginable hardships.  I am never hungry and seldom cold or over fatigued.  I like the climate about as well any south of here and would sooner emigrate North west than South East, were I not bound by social ties.  Were I to follow agriculture as a source of profit I would not go to Vermont or Grant County.

In regard to my Ironton property I have no hopes of getting you to think as you do.

Hon. D. A. J. Baker was introduced as an early resident of Ashland in our Penokee Survey Incidents series.  Baker appears to be in business with the Barbers at Ironton.

“A trail between “Penokee” and Ashland is shown on Stuntz’s map of 1858.  An Indian trail between Ironton and Odanah was improved for transportation and communication when land travel was preferred to lake travel or when the lake could not be used.  During that same time the trail between Odanah and Ashland was being improved to accommodate heavier traffic.  (This road later became a part of Old U.S. 10 and now is Ashland County Truck “A”.)

The original Ironton to Odanah trail began on the west side of the village, ascending the highlands at that point, then followed a southwesterly course paralleling the Oronto Creek but avoiding the obstacles of lowlands or ravines until it reached a point where the headwaters of both Oronto Creek and Graveyard Creek were but a few yards apart.  As it passed this narrow strip of land and headed both streams it swung sharply to the west towards Odanah.”

A Historical and Archaeological Reconnaissance of the Saxon Harbor area, Iron County, Wisconsin by John F Wackman et al, page 59.

I may be obliged to sacrifice the whole of it, but it will not be my fault.  Mr. Baker sold five shares a few days ago for city lots here which will soon be worth 500 dollars.  The opinion of explorers and speculars expressed in deeds as well as words confirm my opinion of the place.  I suppose Father writes everything concerning his business here so I will depend on him for that and not repeat it.

I would set a time to come home but the future is so uncertain I fear I should only disappoint you and myself.  I never yet planned anything as it turns out.  I intended to return to Lancaster last fall but did not.  I intended to go down last spring but was prevented by the death of Augustus.  If I wait untill next spring before going down I shall go to Vermont at the same time probably.  “Man proposes and God disposes.”  I can only guess how God will dispose my affairs.

I see that you and Amherst feel rather bitter towards [Dow’s?] folks.  I am sorry that is so.  It is unavoidable that you should see a great many things that you don’t approve but the sum of my advice is “Let em rip.”

I hope to go to Lapointe and Ashland before long where I am about as well acquainted as at any place I ever lived at.

I am now engaged on the field notes of Augustus’ work – [fitting?] them for the office.

With love for yourself and Amherst I remain

Your affectionate son

Allen


To be continued in the Fall of 1856

By Amorin Mello

Selected letters of the Joel Allen Barber Papers 

… continued from Winter of 1856.


Johnson April 5th 1856

Dear Son

I grow more & more uneasy every day about your lands.  If you get The Grant Co. Herald up there you will see what has got to be done before May 11th.  The Herald of March 22nd is out again with two articles in relation to the prefecture of Lands entered under Graduative prices & in one of them says that all lands [forpect?] to Government will be advertised for sale to the highest bidder & if not sold, will be then in the Market at $1.25 per acre.  That purchasers under the Graduation Law cannot pay 75 ¢ more per acre & hold nor even can they go now and pay $1.25 to save it, but it must go into the market & sold at a land sale if anybody will buy it.  My first efforts will be on reaching Lancaster to see that a dwelling is made on your land & something done by way if improvement & it will be absolutely necessary that you should come there yourself as I view the case.

Barber's sketch of his Left Hand Point land claim from the Winter of 1856.

Barber’s sketch of his Left Hand Point land claim from the Winter of 1856.

If you still have that Pointe of Land in your grip & can leave it for a short time, come & come at any rate if you can possibly without too great a sacrifice, for I cannot bear to have you lose so much money for nothing.  Can you not leave your Point after making some moves in the matter without having it squatted on by some one else?  Or can you not get some person you can trust to stay on it for you after erecting a cabin on it?  You will of course know more about it than I do & must act accordingly.  Nothing of great importance transpiring here abouts.  Day before yesterday [Vst.?] Pillsbury & Luther Carpenter were hauled up for damages done to Ben Atwell’s Barn on the mountain by cutting down the timbers to the scaffold destroying 1 good horse rake & some hand rakes & 25 buckets & other damages.  They had to pay Atwell cost & all $19.12 & on a state prosecution $10 fine each & 3.50 cost each making $46.12 as the price [????] for their sport.

It has got to be warm & snow is [going?], not much sugar made yet. I have got a new tenant on the farm Stephen [Dow?] from York side.  Hen. Griswold has become sole owner & occupant of all [red drops?].  Do not go and hang yourself on that [???].  Old Fuller yesterday bought out Bixby’s farm (the [Fod?] [Lathrop?] [place?]).  [Belden?] of Eden has [ba?] the Bixby place in the village.  Mr. G.W. Hill is nearly gone with consumption.  Sir Transit [????]

Augustus was in a little trouble.”

I [recd?] a letter 2 days ago from [Aug?] dated [Mar?] 4. Written when he was evidently (or as Dr. [Ferhas?] says evidentially) afflicted with the blues.  He wanted I should procure some hundreds of Dollars for him to invest in lands & I shall try to get it if possible.

If I can get $1,000. for him, yourself, & myself to invest jointly I will do it.

The [avails?] of the old farm well laid out for lands at the west would soon double while the farm would be gradually going off with the action of the water on the bank & yielding not so much as 4 percent interest on its value.

But Mum will hear to nothing but laying out hundreds of Dollars to fix it up.  Well she may have her way about that & that only.  I am not for having her jurisdiction extended over all the west while [surveying?] the [distance?] of the world here in Vermont.

Remember your lands.  Remember.  Shall I meet you at Lancaster about 25th of the present month?  All well.

Yours in heart

G. A. Barber.


Johnson April 13th /56

My Dear Allen

GRADUATION ACT OF 4th AUGUST, 1854.
This law cheapens, with certain limitations, the price of public lands which have been in market for specified periods to the actual settlers, who are required, before making the entry, to file their affidavits that the purchase is made for actual settlement and cultivation.
United States Congressional serial set, Volume 1117, page 482.

Having had the satisfaction of reading some letters from you of late I now sit down to thank you for them – tho without one thought that I can convey to you an adequate expression of my gratitude for your [??? favors stifl less?] for the continued assurance of your good health and favorable prospects.  I am glad to learn that you have had encouragement to persevere in the prosecution of your “claims and now imagine you doing your utmost to make yourself a house – temporary though it may be – which will some day repay you for all the trouble you have had about it: and I hope much more.  Do you intend to build an “Octagon Concrete” house?  Or is there no material and no foundation for such a [build.?] Suppose you will have to clear it off and drain it before you will decide on that point.  I imagine you will have some [allushectors?] to destroy before you will get peaceable possession.  I suppose if you succeed in holding that you will have to give up the land you bought in “Little Grant” as whatever title you could have to that, would seem to be acquired by “preemption and actual settlement” – the reduced price alone depressing on those conditions.  Well, no matter if your present “grab” is worth half as much as your exited fancy has you to believe.  I know that the letter you have rec’d from home will have a tendency to unsettle your mind and perhaps to send you “packing” to Lancaster, but from such advice come to you too late to be of any use.  Indeed, what written advice or sympathy does not when it takes two months to get an answer to a letter?

I, too, have been in something of a “quandary” about a place to stay in while all my family are absent, seeking their fortunes or spending them.  Father wished to have me remain in this old house and continue to keep boarders.

I could not agree to that, as I knew how much work there was in it, and how little strength there was in me.  Besides, other reasons pertaining to the house and its capacities made me unwilling to stay here.  I could see no better way for me than have our goods moved back to the farm and to make it my home there.  This did not suit the convenience of the Meads because they could not afford to be troubled to sleep above stairs or to remove any of their things to give me a room. [So?], [their?] minds and interests being previously about equally balanced between staying and going.  That turned the scale, and they [prached?] up and were off before we had any warning, scarcely.

But, as good luck would have it, a stranger came with good recommendation and I have the assurance that the woman will be a very agreeable person to reside with – this.  I have not yet seen her, but feel hopeful.

They have no children.

“In the spring of 1856 he [Albe Whiting] set out, traveling by railroad as far as St. Louis, and there took a boat which took him to Westport Landing, now Kansas City. He had secured some preliminary training as a civil engineer, and it was his purpose to find employment in that line. After a week at Westport Landing, he, with his partner and a passenger, started West with a team of seven yoke of oxen drawing a covered wagon filled to the bows with supplies. This little party started for Fort Riley, and after about three weeks arrived in the Republican Valley some fifteen miles from the fort and just beyond the outposts of civilization. Mr. Whiting had a partner, B. E. Fullington, an honest, God-fearing, upright man, and their plan was to engage in farming – raising corn for the Government post at Fort Riley.”
~ A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, Volume 3, page 1313-14.

Presume I shall be lonely, but mean to have work enough to occupy my hands while there and leisure to spend with my friends there at home as well as to visit them at theirs.  I shall expect Aug. at home next summer – read a long letter from him to Albe – who, by the way has stared for Kansas – in which he says he shall come to Vermont next summer.  Oh!  Shant I be glad to see him?  [If?] you could come with him.  Shall not be so certain of his coming as to be very much disappointed if he does not, as it is my lot to bear his appointments.  I am sorry to have Am. go away with his father to such a distance, but I believe he will be much better off to be there than he would to be left with me, as in my care, as he has become selfwilled and independent of my authority to an eminent degree.  Hope he will not go to the lake as I do not think he would be of any use there, he is so unused to labor or hardship.

He has not been entirely free from a cough since he had the whooping cough last spring until within three weeks – it seems to have left him free.

My health is quite good tho I cannot endure severe exercise.  [?] have best one boarder and no fired girl.

Have a few things to send to you and Aug. – meant to have [???] but my girl [???] away [on?] a visit for a week and as been gone nearly [forever?] – so I could not get [time?] to [grew?] and hurt much for you as I should.

Your Affectionate

Mother

J. A. Barber


Johnson April 13th 1856

Dear Son.

Yours of March [16th?] is rec’d together with one from Augustus by same mail, dated March 11th and you may be assured that it affords me joy to hear of your bright prospects, good health & spirits, courage & perseverance I hope you may finally achieve the object you have in view, and have the satisfaction of distancing all competition for the golden prize.  But from what I have been writing to you for some weeks about your land in the town of Little Grant.  I shall expect to find you at Lancaster when I get there or at any rate before the 10th of May, if it is necessary that you should be there & commence a residence on your land prior to that time.  I have written to your Uncle about the Matter the 2nd time and am looking anxiously for his answer every mail.  I cannot see the justice or propriety of your being obliged to make a residence on the law at that particular time when it is taken into consideration that you were only just of age, had exhausted all your means in making the purchase & was forced to seek some employments to raise the necessary means for building and making improvements on your land, & farther than all that, being so young, & unprovided with any means of housekeeping or living. & worst of all, nobody to prepare & get you “bread & milk” when you should happen to feel longer than usual.

Instructions received by the General Land Offices regarding graduation entries of land.

I cannot believe that your land will be forfeit in default of making proof of residence at the time appointed, but it will not be prudent to run any risks about it, if possible to prevent it.  I have not yet fixed upon any day for my setting out for Wis, but hope to be ready soon.  Perhaps it is all nonsense to take Amherst out there this season.  But Augustus & you have said so much about having him go there that your mother (even son) thought best to have him go, & I of course was not unwilling to have it so, but of late you & Aug. do not seem so much in favor of having him up at the Lake, I suppose because you will not know what to do with him, & I should be loth to have him there in burden to you when it costs so much for subsistence if he could do nothing to earn it – But he is nearly in [reading?] [now?] & I rather feel as tough I would choose to have him with me than leave him to the whims and [caprice?] of any woman whatever there would be too many wonderful projects “work on a farm” “Learn a trade” “go into a [store?]” “fit for college” “rest a while certainly two or three years from his studies.” and all the other 1001 notions of a nervous person, who has now within the last ½ hour been complaining of his going off, not from any other consideration but that he were not going when he would not earn anything, or not enough to pay his way.  If I work on my little place he can help me & he can do work for others or find some employment or he can go to school to H. B. Woods.  I shall feel better if he goes, than if he stays.  I have been reading a very long letter today from Augustus to Albe, but Albe is gone to Kansas & left directions that any letters from you or Aug’ to him should be shown to us & then forwarded to him.  Everett got home last week, with improved health though not sound yet.  He met Allen in Ohio & spent 2 days with him.  A. was in good spirit.  Minister is so unwell as to give up preaching.  Woodruff is failing & will live but a short time.  Nothing of consequence to write.  Had sugar at the old place & at Columb’s Friday (Fat Friday).

Yours in haste

Giles W. Barber


Cambridge May 30th 1856

My very dear son Allen

Gravestone at Hillside Cemetery in Lancaster, Grant County, Wisconsin:

“IN MEMORY OF
AUGUSTUS H. BARBER
of Cambridge, Vt.
U.S. Deputy Surveyor
who was drowned in
Montreal River.
Apr. 22. A.D. 1856
Aged 24 yrs. & 8 ms.”
~ FindAGrave.com

One week ago today your letters bearing bearing the heart-crushing intelligence of the sudden Death of our beloved Son and your dear brother were received by me.  Oh, may God save – preserve the others to release to me, and may he support us all to endure our great afflictions.  Greatly as I suffer under the stroke, my heart bleeds for the absent ones on whom the blow has fallen with equal severity.  Augustus was dearly and worthily beloved by us all.  Can it be time we shall never again see his face – never receive the dear letters full of bright hopes and cheering anticipations.  Oh, he was too much beloved by all who knew him.  Why could he not have been spared to bless his family and the world in which he could do good.

My friends [???] tell one that no death has caused such universal sorrow in this vicinity as his.  Many of my friends have called to sympathize with me and to learn the particulars of the sad accident.

Superior Falls at the mouth of the Montreal River, as featured in the stereograph

Superior Falls at the mouth of the Montreal River, as featured in the stereograph “View on Montreal River” by Whitney & Zimmerman from St. Paul, circa 1870.
~ Wikimedia Commons

Mr. Dougherty with [Sen.?] Robinson came down on Tuesday to see me.  Aunt Martha and Mrs. Chadwick came Wednesday – M. stayed till this Friday morning.

Mr. D. took your letter of the 13 May home with him intending to address his congregation on this mournful subject on next Sabbath, I cannot bear to be present.

I did not get your first letter – addressed to Johnson dated April 28th mailed May 10th until the 23 – the one dated May 13th mailed 14th about two hours afterwards – or in about 10 days from date.  I would not write to any one till today – but supposed you had written to your father at Lancaster when you wrote to me last. (13th) If you did not I fear he had started for the lake before the dreadful tidings reached him.  Can it be that each one of our severed family has had to bear the grief alone – separated from all the others.  How much I know you must have suffered!  By your suspense before you could reach the spot where he was lost – and then, during the shocking scenes which followed.  I suppose I can imagine but little what your feelings were or what mine would have been had I been present.  I am so thankful that you were not with him and that I still have a dear-[kind?] son in this dark and gloomy world – May we all meet again, feeling this chastening affliction to be from the hands of a merciful God.  May we be drawn together as a family by a [closer?] tie – even by the bonds of our common affliction.

I hope you will remember to write me as often as possible as I shall feel more concern now for the absent ones than ever before.  Am anxiously waiting a letter from “father” that I may know where to direct to him.  I want very much to have Amherst come home and stay with me this summer.  He would be a great comfort to me if he could be contented to stay here, and would feel that he aught to try to make his mother less miserable.  In doing that he would find his reward in being more happy in time to come.

I must close this and prepare to sent it to the office if there is a chance today, shall write soon again.  No doubt you have got the letter I wrote to your dear, departed brother, since I came here.  If so there is nothing of importance to write now.

Your affectionate Mother


[Incomplete copy of letter]

[ante May, 1856]

This is the last letter available from Augustus to his family before his death on April 22nd, 1856. 

A week in Lancaster or Johnson would be worth more to me than an interest in –––.  But a copper mine first of all if at all and then for a good time generally.

Augustus had at least three locations: a farm near Lancaster; the townsite of Ironton at Saxon Harbor; and a copper claim located at or near Amnicon River Falls State Park. 

I have some chances for a location that some would gladly embrace, but I mean to have a right on so I let them drive their trains without making a move or showing that I care a fig for the whole country.

There is a conspiracy, or combination of old preemptors here who have no right to make claims.  Their object is to secure each member a claim on the North shore, and to drive off and keep off by knives and pistols any who may wish to make legal preemptions on the lands they choose to appropriate to themselves.

Was Augustus murdered?

There may be some fighting up here this season and there is certain to be considerable laming before the business is settled.  Let ‘em rip.

I can send half a dozen to Jehanum in about as many seconds, but don’t want to do it & will avoid trouble if possible but butcher knife companies must not meddle with any claim when I have made one.

“The 1830 Treaty of Prairie du Chien set aside 320,000 acres of potentially valuable land west of Lake Pepin for ‘half-breed’ members of the Dakota nation. The move set off a series of events that would enrich a number of early Minnesotans, none of Indian heritage.”
[…]
Henry Rice, a Minnesota territorial delegate to the US Senate, hadn’t forgotten the Half-Breed Tract. In July 1854, he convinced the Senate to offer the mixed-race claimants a deal. Each could get up to 640 acres of unsurveyed federal lands by giving up their claim to the Half-Breed Tract. Those eligible would receive ‘exchanging scrip,’ certificates that could be used to buy land.”
~ Minnesota Historical Society

Allen, what think you of the [expedring?] of making yourself a location on the famed Half-breed Tract which is to be surveyed and brought into market immediate?

It lies west of Lake Pepin and is as fair a tract of farming land as lies out of doors besides being regarded as very rich in lead.

You never saw such an [Elganim?] as a portion on the Lake appears to be.

I do want to go down and get you out to see more of the North West – not that I wish you to come up here against your inclination, but I want to travel with you, to see what we have not seen and talk over old times together while we rub up each other’s ideas about the things of the present and the future.

If you want a farm in the west and don’t like Sp. just consult Uncle Allen about the “modus operandi of securing a farm by preemption and then take a look at the country I have mentioned, as there will be great snatching.

My love to Grandmother, Uncles, Aunts and cousins and my respect to the ladies if they inquire – not without.

Augustus H. Barber


To be continued in the Summer of 1856

By Amorin Mello

The Ashland Weekly Press became the Ashland Daily Press.

December 8, 1877.

The Survey of the Penoka Range and Incidents Connected with its Early History
Number IV.
 Friend Fifield:- As no doubt many of your readers are acquainted with the form and location of the Penoka Range, I have concluded to give in this number a short sketch of its main topographical features, in order that a better understanding may be had of the work done upon and in connection with it, by the Wisconsin & Lake Superior Mining and Smelting Company, in 1856, ’57 and ’58.
Increase A. Lapham surveyed the Penokee Iron Range on behalf of the Wisconsin & Lake Superior Mining and Smelting Company during 1858.

Increase Allen Lapham surveyed the Penokee Iron Range in September of 1858 for the Wisconsin & Lake Superior Mining and Smelting Company. Years later, Lapham’s experience was published as Mountain of Iron Ore: The buried wealth of Northern Wisconsin in the Milwaukee Evening Wisconsin newspaper on February 21, 1887. (Image courtesy of the University of Wisconsin Geography Department)

Water gaps are valuable locations in mountain ranges for transportation routes and geological study.
The Gogebic iron range is crossed by the Bad River, City Creek, Ballou Creek, Tyler Forks River and the Potatoe River. Each forms a valley termed a ‘gap’ in the range.
~ 1978 Marsden Report for US Steel.
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
Palmer’s station, aka Penoka, was near Bad River Gap, aka Penokee Gap.
Lockwood’s station was not mapped.  City Creek and Ballou Creek are the two water gaps on either side of Mount Whittlesey (midway between the Bad River and Tyler’s Fork).
Sidebotham’s station, aka “The Gorge,” was near Tyler Forks Gap and the Lac Courte Oreilles Harvest & Education Learning Project.
S.R. Marston’s treachery to the company was revealed in Penokee Survey Incidents: Number III.
George W. Chase and Dr. Enoch Chase were cofounders of the Old Settlers’ Club of Milwaukee along with Horace Chase.  The father of the Chase brothers was a Freemason in Vermont.
John B.D. Cogswell was the brother-in-law of Simeon M. Small.

The Penoka Iron Range consists, as is well known, of a sharp ridge, some fifteen miles in length, by from one to one and one half in breadth, with a mean elevation of 700 feet above Lake Superior, from which is a distance about twenty-two miles, as the crow flies, its general trend being nearly east and west, it is densely covered with timber consisting of sugar maple, (of which nearly every tree is birdseye or curly) elm, red cedar, black, or yellow birch, some of which are of an enormous girth, among which are intermixed a few white pine and balsams, for it is traversed from north to south at three different points, by running streams, upon each of which the company had a station, the western being known in the vernacular of the company, as Palmer’s, (now Penoka); the center, as Lockwood’s, in honor of John Lockwood, who was at the time a prominent member of the Company, and upon its executive board; and the eastern, as Sidebotham’s, or The Gorge.”  These were the principal stations or centers, where supplies and men were always kept, and as which, as before stated, more or less work had been done the previous year.  Penoka, as which the most work had been done, being considered by far the most valuable.  This post was, at the time of my first visit, by charge of S.R. Marston, of whom mention was made in my last, and two young boys from Portsmouth, N.H., who had come west on exhibition, I should say, from the way they acted.  They soon left, however, too many mosquitoes for them.  “Lockwood’s,” as previously stated, was garrisoned by one man, whose name I have forgotten, and although a great amount of work had been done here as yet, it was nevertheless considered a very valuable claim, on account of the feasibility with which it could be reached by the rail Mr. Herbert had in contemplation to build from Ironton, and which would, in passing along the north side of the Range, come in close proximity to this station; besides, it had the additional advantages of a fine water power.  At the east end were two half-breeds employed by the company, and George Chase, a young man from Derby, Vermont, a nephew of ex-Mayor Horace, and Dr. Enoch Chase, of Milwaukee, an employee of Stuntz, who, with James Stephenson, was awaiting the return of Gen. Cutler with reinforcements, in order to continue the survey.  Chase subsequently made a claim which he was successful in securing – selling it finally to the Mr. Cogswell, of Milwaukee.

Palmer's station aka Penoka, near the Bad River Gap.

Penoka, aka Penokee, is Palmer’s station near the Bad River Gap.

No record found for Samuel Champner. He may have been a resident of Whittlesey’s settlement near Equadon within the Town of Bayport.
Wiiwkwedong (Ojibwemowin for “bay”) aka “Equadon” was the name of an ancient Indian settlement at the artesian springs of Prentice Park and Maslowski Beach.  Wiikwedong was accessible by Lake Superior as well as footpaths from Bad River Gap, Odanah, Lac Courte Oreilles, St. Croix, and Fond du Lac.
Lysander Cutler abandoned the Ironton trail between Saxon Harbor and Tyler’s Fork Gap before it became a road.  Cutler favored the Old Penokee trail between Wiikwedong and Bad River Gap.

It is also proper to state in addition to what has been already mentioned, that at, or about this time, a road was opened by Mr. Herbert’s order, from the Hay Marsh, six miles out from Ironton, to which point one had been previously opened, to the Range, which it struck about midway between Sidebotham’s and Lockwood’s Stations, over which, I suppose, the 50,000 tons as previously mentioned, was to find its way to Ironton, (in a horn).  For this work, however, the Company refused to pay, as they had not authorized it; neither had Mr. Herbert, at that time, any authority to contract for it, except at his own risk; his appointment as agent having already been revoked; although his accounts had not, as yet, been fully settled.  This work, which was without doubt, intended to commit the company still further in favor of Ironton as an outlet for the iron, was done by Samuel Champner, a then resident of Ashland and who if living is probably that much out of pocket today.  No use was ever made of this road by the Company, not one of their employees, to my knowledge, ever passing over it.

There are two significant gaps in the between Sidebotham's and Palmer's. Lockwood's station may have been located at Mount Whittlesey or at Ballou Creek.

The location of Lockwood’s station was not mapped by Lapham or by Stuntz. City Creek and Ballou Creek are the two water gaps on either side of Mount Whittlesey, midway between the gaps of Bad River and Tyler’s Fork.

William Herbert was a resident of Superior City in 1855 and moved back to Bayfield by 1859 where he and his family were prominent settlers.

This description will, I think, give your readers a very good understanding of the condition as well as the true inwardness of the affairs of the Wisconsin & Lake Superior Mining and Smelting Co., in the month of June, 1857.

Arthur R. Wheelock, Julius O. Smith, and Alfred A. Stevens secured land patents for Lockwood’s station through the General Land Office.
No record found for Joel P. McClellan.

At length, after remaining on the Range nearly three weeks, awaiting, Micawber like, for something to turn up, a change came with the arrival of Gen. Cutler from Milwaukee with the expected reinforcements.  Mr. Herbert at once left the Range, went to Milwaukee and settled up with the Company, after which, to use a scriptural expression, “he walked no more with us.”

Among those who came at this time was Arthur R. Wheelock, Joel P. McClellan and Julius O. Smith, of Milwaukee, for the Company, and Alvin Stevens, (from Maine), with a number of others whose names I have forgotten, for Stuntz – thus enabling him to again commence work.
Springdale is John Sidebotham's townsite claim at The Gorge of Tyler Fork's River.

Springdale is Sidebotham’s station at The Gorge of Tyler Fork’s River.

No record found for John Cummings.
A.S. Stacy was from Franklin, Quebec, and started a family in Milwaukee.
James Smith Buck alludes to Freemasonry influences in the Penokees.  Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni and Sir Christopher Wren are famous Freemasons.  The Forty-seventh Problem of Euclid and fifteen degrees to the Ecliptic are traditional Freemason concepts. “Fearfully and wonderfully made,” Ancient Milesianand  Modern Milesian were cited in American Freemason publications during the 1850s and 1860s.
Sixteen rocks and iron ores from the Penokie Range were featured at the United States Centennial.  These mineral specimens are detailed in the Catalogue of the Wisconsin State Mineral Exhibit at Phialephia, 1876.
Non Est Factum (“not his deed”):
A special defense in contract law to allow a person to avoid having to respect a contract that she or he signed because of certain reasons such as a mistake as to the kind of contract.
~ Duhaime.org

Wheelock, Smith, and McClellan were at once placed upon claims – McClellan in the interest of John Cummings, (whose name by an oversight was also omitted from the list of stockholders, given in my first paper), and Wheelock and Smith for the Company generally.  Subsequently, A.S. Stacy, of Canada, was also employed to hold a claim.  How well he performed this duty, will be seen further on.  This done, the improvements necessary to be made in order to entitle us to the benefits of the preemption law were at once commenced.  These improvements consisted of log cabins, principally, of which some twenty in all were erected upon the different claims.  These cabins would have been a study for Michel Angelo, or Sir Christopher Wren.  They had more angles than the Forty-seventh Problem of Euclid, with an average inclination of fifteen degrees to the Ecliptic.  O, but they were fearfully and wonderfully made,” were these cabins.  Their construction embodied all the principle points of architecture in the Ancient as well as ModernMilesian-Greek, mixed with the “hoop skirt” and Heathen Chimee.  Probably ten dollars a month would have been considered a high rent for any of them.  No such cabins as those were in exhibition at the Centennial, no sir.  Rome was not built in a day, but most of these cabins were.  I built four myself near the Gorge, in a day, with the assistance of two halfbreeds, but was not able to find them a week afterwards.  This is not only a mystery but a conundrum.  I think some traveling showman must have stolen them; but although they were non est we could swear that we had built them, and did.

Enemies included the La Pointe Iron Company, the Town of Bayport, the Bayfield Land Company, and other land speculators.
Meanwhile our enemies, who had begun to show themselves occasionally – not idle, and from fear of yet loosing a part of our lands on account of not being able to hold all by preemption, we decided to adopt what was known at that time as the townsite plan,’ in part.  This townsite fever was then in full blast from Maine to California, in fact.  The whole Lake shore was dotted with them from the Sault to Superior City.  Every man had one and as they were supposed to be ‘sure fire’ they were of course just what we wanted.
Springdale townsite (John Sidebotham's Claim), the Ironton Trail, and the Iron Range at The Gorge of Tyler's Fork River. (Detail of Albert Stuntz's 1857 PLSS survey map)

Springdale townsite plan at Sidebotham’s station by The Gorge of Tyler’s Fork in close proximity to the Ironton Trail and Iron Range. (Detail of Stuntz’s survey during August of 1857.) 

Land patents for Sidebotham’s station at The Gorge were secured at the General Land Office by Lysander Cutler with Sioux Scrip.

Three were accordingly platted — one at Penoka, one at Lockwood‘s and one at the Gorge.  And in order that it might be done without interfering with the regular survey, Gen. Cutler decided to place S.R. Marston who, in addition to his other accomplishments, claimed to be a full-fledged surveyor, in charge of the work, assisted by Wheelock, Smith and myself.  He commenced at the Gorge, run three lines and quit, fully satisfied that he had greatly overestimated his abilities.  We were certainly satisfied that he had.  A drunken man could have reeled it off in the dark and come nearer the corner than he did.  He was a complete failure in every thing he undertook.  He left in the fall after the failure of the Sioux Scrip plot.  Where he went I never knew.  George E. Stuntz was subsequently put upon the work, which he was not long in doing, after which he rejoined Albert on the main work.  This main work, however, for the completion of which we were all so anxious, was very much delayed, the cause for which we did not at the time fully understand, but we did afterwards.       J.S.B.

By Amorin Mello

The Ashland Weekly Press became the Ashland Daily Press.

December 1, 1877

The Survey of the Penoka Range and Incidents Connected with its Early History.

Number III.

Julius Austrian‘s warehouse was the epicenter of La Pointe during the 1850s.
“There was a strip of ice all along the south shore, from thirty to forty miles wide, as far as Marquette; encountered ice again twenty-five miles west of Ontonagon, extending through to La Pointe and Bayfield. Many pieces of this ice were as much as twenty feet thick and were as dangerous to encounter as icebergs at sea. These pieces had been formed by drifts of ledges, one upon another.”
Detroit Free Press, June 5, 1857
(MarinetimeHistoryoftheGreatLakes.ca)
The first La Pointe Light was built in 1857 on Michigan Island and was rejected for not “in conformity to the terms of the contract,” and “discontinued in 1857.”  It should have been located on Long Island, where the second La Pointe Light was built in 1858.  This blunder was attributed to bureaucratic errors, but it could have been due to the ice conditions of 1857.

Friend Fifield:- Upon the first arrival of Mr. Sidebotham and myself at La Pointe, in May, ’57, as previously stated, we took lodging at the Hotel Angus,” the hospitalities of which we were forced to enjoy until some means could be found to communicate with Gen. Cutler. The Bay, as well as the Lake, was full of ice. In fact, we had been compelled to fight out way from the Sault to La Pointe, through heavy masses of ice, nearly the whole distance – and while upon this subject, I will say, that incredible as the statement may appear to many, yes it is a fact, that ice bergs were aground in front of Austrian’s Warehouse, at La Pointe, on the 4th day of July, 1857, in 36 feet of water, while at the same time a field of floating ice was visible from the Range, beyond which, no water could be seen. I verily believe that the lake was not wholly free from ice that summer.

“La Pointe residents began to cross to Bayfield for supplies and services. The establishment of commercial transportation service between these points was immediate. The enterprising Morrin brothers of La Pointe, ferried people and freight across the channel in their bateau — a large, flat-bottomed rowboat. Captain John Angus operated his sailboat, the Jane, between Ashland, Bayfield and La Pointe as early as 1857.”
~ Madeline Island Ferry Line

At length, after remaining at the hotel some eight or ten days, during which Mrs. Angus made us as happy as she could by her kindness and attention, Gen. Cutler came, accompanied by Mr. Herbert. This was the first time that either of us had ever seen Gen. Cutler, but on being informed who we were, he seemed overjoyed to see us, and at once made the proposition to me to take charge of the work, and let him return to Milwaukee, so thoroughly disgusted had he become with the whole thing. To this, however, I would not consent, whereupon he decided to remain, and at once directed Mr. Herbert, who was at that time still in our employ, to return at once to Ironton, taking a part of the supplies, which came up with us, of which they were in great need, Mr. Sidebotham accompanying him, leaving the General and myself at La Pointe. After a long consultation, the General decided to go below, after men and money, wherewith to complete the work; which he did, I following Mr. Sidebotham to Ironton, which place I reached in time to join Mr. Herbert’s party, just starting for the Range, which we reached the second day after leaving Ironton.

“The [1856] organization of the Township of Bayport was maintained for about ten years, until about the year 1867, when the settlers, for various reasons, became so reduced in number that the organization failed, and LaPointe again embraced the Township of Bayport — which ten years before had set up a municipality of its own.
During its existence the taxable real estate in the Town of Bayport had increased from nothing to several hundred thousand dollars, principally through entry of pine lands in the south and western portions of the township and also by extensive entries of mineral properties on the Iron Range.”
~ The Lake Superior Country in History and in Story by Guy M Burnham, pg. 179

Omission was made in the list of stockholders given in my first chapter, of Mr. Herbert, whom name should have been included. His stock was, however, by special agreement, unassessable, as it was through his instrumentality, in part, that the existence of this most wonderful metallic deposit was first brought to the knowledge of the Company, and the work of surveying and locating is undertaken. It was this, together with the knowledge that his long residence in the country was supposed to give him, as to the best mode of conducting such an enterprise, that procured for him this aqucession, as well as the appointment of Agent. In justice, however, to Mr. Herbert, it is proper to state, that besides the work done, and money spent at Ironton, the place selected by him as the future shipping point for the iron, (50,000 tons of which he contemplated bringing there that season, at least he stated) considerable work had also been done upon the range during his administration; mostly, however, at Penoka, where a log cabin, yet standing, had been erected, and some thirty acres cleared, the timber being cut into cordwood, to be used in the manufacture of charcoal iron, for the making of which it was contemplated to erect the proper furnaces in the near future. Neither is it any injustice to say, that although perhaps he did the best he could, situated as he was, yet the work did not progress as fast as the company thought it should, the force, while under his control had became badly demoralized. The idea had obtained, if not with him it had with them, that they were working for a company of bloated bondholders,- had a soft thing, and meant to make the most of it; but with the advent of Gen. Cutler, a change came over the spirit of their dreams. Order was quickly brought out of chaos, and the discovery made that a master hand held the reins. Up to this time, May, ’57, the Range had never been visited by any of the company except Messrs. Palmer, Greves and Ripley, those visiting ’56 was one of exploration only, and as Gen. Cutler, Mr. Sidebotham and myself were the only ones that went up there in ’57, or who, in fact, over performed any work there, a short sketch of them will perhaps not be inappropriate in this connection, while awaiting, metaphorically speaking, the arrival of the expected reinforcements from below. And first of Gen. Cutler:

Lysander Cutler of Wisc. (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print)

Lysander Cutler of Wisc. (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

“The First Election
The Order of the County Board creating the Town of Bayport was made March 11, 1856, and the store of Schuyler Goff, in Bay City (Ellis Division) was designated as the place for holding the first election for town officers, the election to be held Tuesday, April 1, 1856.
The Town of Bayport comprised all that portion of LaPointe county (since changed to Ashland County) lying south of the north line of Town 48 North; in all over sixty-eight Townships, including the Bad River reservation, which was, on the 8th day of November, 1859, made a precinct by itself.
At the first election held April 1, 1856, there were 24 votes cast — resulting as follows; for Chairman of the Town Board, Schuyler Goff (later appointed County Judge, an office he held for a year or more).  The other members of the town board being J.T. Welton and Asaph Whittlesey.  Schuyler Goff, chairman elect, was the first officer to qualify, his oath of office being administered by Asaph Whittlesey, Justice of the Peace.”
~ The Lake Superior Country in History and in Story by Guy M. Burnham, pg. 179
Ed Hall, Schuyler Goff, Homer Goff, Edwin Ellis, Junius T. Welton and Asaph Whittlesey  are listed in the 1855 Census of La Pointe.
In 1854, S.R. Marston failed to pay taxes, charges and interest to redeem a land claim in Grant County.
Sioux Scrip were a legal mechanism for dispossessing preemption land claims and reaping the profits.

Gen. Lysander L. Cutler was, in many respects, a remarkable man. In person he was rather above the medium height, large head, large, dark eyes, heavy eyebrows, a sure indication of a good memory, as well as firmness, dark hair, inclined to stand erect; walked, usually with a slow and dignified step, with his eyes apparently fixed upon the ground, as if in deep thought, leading an observer to suppose that he was not cognizant of what was being enacted around him. This, however, was a mistake; nothing escaped his observation. In fact, he seemed to know your very thoughts; neither could anyone be in his presence ten minutes without feeling the magnetic influence of his iron will. Was any dangerous work to be undertaken, he would, if within call, be the first one consulted, and appointed to take charge of it. He was a born leader. He was not only one of the best business men I ever knew, but he was also a leader in politics. A good judge of men, sharp and keen, and who ever undertook to circumvent him was sure to some grief, as some of the people who went about the Range did that summer, have no doubt, an abiding recollection. I refer now to Hall, of St. Paul, Minnesota, who undertook, with the assistance of S.R. Marston, a treacherous employee of the Company, and Schuyler Goff, of Racine, at that time a resident of La Pointe, to beat us out of our rights, by entering the lands upon the Range with Sioux Scrip, in which nefarious attempt they would no doubt have succeeded, but for him. He was more than a match for all of them, and they finally retired from the contest in disgrace. Such was Gen. L.L. Cutler, a firm friend, but an uncompromising enemy. Never will the writer forget the happy days spent with him upon the Range in the summer of 1857. We were like brothers, and our friendship was never interrupted by even a passing cloud. We fraternized at once upon our first meeting, and fought the battle for the possession of the Range together, never doubting our ultimately winning the prize. He has gone to his reward, in that bright world beyond the River; yet “in memory’s ever sleepless eye” he is often present with me.

John Sidebotham’s English mannerisms did not fare well with his employees.
James Smith Buck’s surname is an anglicized identity for the Buchanan clan from the Scottish Wars of Independence.
Simeon N. Small and his family purchased controlling stocks from the Wisconsin & Lake Superior Mining and Smelting Co.
Later in life, John Sidebotham was brutally murdered.

Mr. Sidebotham, however, who was by birth an Englishman, and by occupation a cabinet maker, was of a different mould, and although an honest man, was by his habits of life, wholly unfitted for such an undertaking, and of no practical use whatever, and although not constantly at the Range, he was while there, an actual incumbrance, some one having to remain with him constantly; he could not accustom himself to the woods and its annoyance; was always complaining of his food, which of course soon brought him into contempt with the men. One of his peculiarities was a great fondness for sugar, particularly in his tea, which he could not, or thought he could not, drink without it, and as this was an article not always plenty, the boys would sometimes hide it, in order to see him hunt for it, which he would do most persistently until he found it. I remember on one occasion they hid it in a tree, and as he could not climb or chip, although in plain sight he could not get it. They had, as they expressed it, the “dead wood” on him that time.  He finally became so afflicted with boils, on account of his sedentary habits and change of food, that it was with the utmost difficulty we were able to get him from the Range to Ashland, in December, where he remained until sufficiently recovered to be able to travel, after which he reached home in safety. He was the last to sell his stock, which, however, he finally did, to the late Simeon N. Small, claiming that as it was through much tribulation he had obtained it, he would not part with it except at his own price, which I believe he got. This purchase, although it gave Mr. Small a controlling interest in the stock, was ultimately the cause of his financial ruin.       J.S.B.


[from same issue of The Ashland Press]

Whittlesey on Early Times in Ashland.

The laziness of Lazarus and Sibley was revealed in Penokee Survey Incidents: Number II.
John Beck and his family arrived at the Town of Bayport in 1856.
“The first settlement on the spot where Ashland now stands was made, in 1854, by Asaph Whittlesey and George Kilborn, both natives of the Western Reserve, Ohio. The lands were not as yet surveyed, so that they could not pre-empt them, and there was as yet no Homestead law. For this reason they, with Martin Beaser, then living in Ontonagon, Michigan, laid claim, under the “Town Site” law, to about three hundred acres, embracing their log houses and small clearing. They platted this into town lots in 1855, and subsequently were allowed to enter their lands as claimed, and in due course received their title. In February, 1855, Edwin Ellis, a graduate in medicine, in the University of the City of New York, of the class of 1846, came on foot through the woods from St. Paul to the bay.”
~ The Monthly Magazine; A Monthly Journal of American History, Volume 9, 1888, pg. 18

Editor Ashland Press.- In your last issue of the 24th inst., your correspondent “J.S.B.,” in his Early Recollections of Ashland, makes very portient reference to two of Ashland’s prominent citizens of early days, known as “Sibley” and “Lazarus,” stating that in laziness they were competitors for the belt. My own recollection tells me that of this same Sibley had gained some notoriety for telling big yarns, but in this I think he ultimately gave way to John Beck. On one occasion, Sibley arrived in town on foot and alone, and entering a crowd of the boys, addressing himself to Lazarus, said: “Lazarus, I want you to go and help me get my team into town. It now stands in the mud near the head of Main St.” to which Lazarus replied, “I’ll go, if you will first tell us the biggest lie you ever told.” Sibley responded, “Lazarus, I don’t lie.” Lazarus says, “That will do, I’ll go and help you.” I am personally knowing to the fact that this same Lazarus has been known at several different times when he was “keeping back” in cold winters, to remain in beds two nights and the intervening day, to avoid the necessity of cutting wood and cooking a meal; nevertheless, “George E.,” as Lazarus was otherwise known, was a man of much more than usual ability, and was a surveyor had few superiors. We were all glad to have him show himself, and to witness his alacrity in getting upon the “off side” of any proposition that might be submitted.

The Siege of Carlisle was a conflict in the first of the Scottish Wars of Independence.
Whittlesey’s Siege of Barlisle appears to be a reference to the dark circumstances of Augustus Barber’s death.

I hope that brother “J.S.B.” may be heard from again, and that he may tell us more in regard to the crowd of pre-emptors imported by himself and others, (modesty forbids me to mention who,) tending almost invariably to bankruptcy. You, sir, were at the head of some “noble boys,” and you, too, had your share of tough cases. Should I sufficiently recover my strength to enable me to do so, I may hereafter open out on my “Early Recollections” of the place, and if I do attempt it, let all “stand from under,” for “At the siege of Barlisle, I was there all the while.”

W.

Bayfield, Wis., Nov. 24, 1877.

By Amorin Mello

The Ashland Weekly Press became the Ashland Daily Press.

November 24, 1877.

The Survey of the Penoka Range and Incidents Connected with its Early History

Number II.

Friend Fifield:– Notwithstanding the work upon the Range was delayed very much on account of the unwoodsman like conduct of the Milwaukee boys, referred to in my first communication, yet it did not cease,- the company having a few white men, previous employed, as well as a large number who were “to the Mannor born” that did not show the “white feather” on account of the mosquitos, gnats, gad flies and other vermin with which the woods were filled,– most of whom remained with us to the end.

Joseph B. Houle was from Lac Courte Oreilles and married to Catherine Roy of La Pointe.  Together they were early pioneers of Superior City with the Roy brothers.
Batteese (Badiis or Zhaabadiis) is the Ojibwe word for Baptiste (i.e. “John” or Jean-Baptiste).  That was probably the most common name among the mixed-blood men.  The surname of “Old Batteese” could be Denomie, Roy, Belanger, Cadotte…  Let us know your theory in a comment to this post.
The Ironton trail connects Saxon Harbor to the Tyler Forks Gap.  John Sidebotham’s claim was located near the Lac Courte Oreilles Harvest & Education Learning Project.

Prominent among these last named was Joseph Houle, or “Big Joe” as he was usually called,– a giant halfbreed, (now dead), who was invaluable as a woodsman and packer. Some idea of Joe’s immense strength and power of endurance may be formed from the fact that he carried upon one occasion the entire contents, (200 lbs.) of a barrel of pork from Ironton to the Range without seeming to think it much of a feat. Among the party along on this trip was a young man taking his first lesson in woodcraft, whose animal spirits cropped out to such a degree that the leader caused to be placed upon his back a bushel of dried apples (33 lbs.), simply to keep him from climbing the trees, but before he reached the Range, his load, light as it was, proved too much for him, when Joe, in charity, relieved him of it, adding it to his own pack – making it 233 lbs. This was, without doubt the largest pack ever carried to the Range by any one man. There was an Indian, however, in the employ of the company, as a packer, (Old Batteese), who left Sidebotham‘s claim one morning at 7 A.M., went to Ironton and was back again to camp at 7 P.M. with 126 lbs. of pork, having traveled forty-two miles in ten hours. This was in July ’57, and was what I considered the biggest day’s work ever done for the company. The usual load, however, for a packer, was from sixty to eighty pounds.

Ironton townsite claim at Saxon Harbor with trails to Odanah and the Penoka Iron Range. (Detail from Wisconsin Public Land Survey Records)

Ironton townsite claim at Saxon Harbor with trails to Odanah and the Penoka Iron Range. (Detail from Wisconsin Public Land Survey Records)

The halfbreeds were sulky and mutinous at times, giving us some trouble, until Gen. Cutler, who was a strict disciplinarian, gave them a lesson that they did not soon forget and which occurred at follows:

Other stories regarding Lysander Cutler as a disciplinarian were published here.
Lockwood’s station was located near Ballou Creek Gap.  Lockwood’s and Sidebotham’s were connected by a footpath running along the Penoka Iron Range.  Sidebotham’s was the halfway camp between Lockwood’s and Ironton.
Duncan Sinclair was businessman from Racine and (in)famous for sheltering and employing a fugitive slave from St. Louis, Missouri.

The General and myself left Ironton just before the removal of our supplies to Ashland, with four of these boys, with provisions for the Range, to be delivered at Lockwood’s Station. But upon reaching Sidebotham’s, two of them refused to proceed any further, threw down their packs, and started on their return to Ironton. The General’s blood was up in a moment, and directing me to remain with the others until he returned, at once started after them. Reaching Ironton at 11 A.M., about an hour after their arrival, they were quite surprised at seeing him, but said nothing. The General at once directed Duncan Sinclair, who had charge of the supplies at that time, to make up two packs of one hundred pounds each, with ropes in place of the usual leathern strap, which was quickly done, the “rebels” looking sullenly on all the while. When all was ready he drew his revolver and ordered them to pick them up and start. They did not wait for a second order, but took them and started, he followed immediately behind. Nor did he let them lay them down again until they reached Lockwood’s at sunset, a distance of twenty-six miles. – That evening they were the most completely used up men I ever saw on the Range, and from that time forward were as submissive and obedient as could be desired. After that we never had any trouble.  It was a lesson they never forgot.

No record found for James Stephenson, young surveyor from Virginia.
Charles Blondin achieved international fame for walking across Niagra Falls.

Among the whites referred to in this article, was James Stephenson, a young man from Virginia, who came up with Stuntz as a surveyor. He was of light build, wiry and muscular – full of fun – very excitable and nervous, – but a good man for the woods. He had some knowledge of the compass, but not sufficient education to make a good surveyor. “Jim” got lost once and was out three days before he came into camp, which he did just as the party was starting out to find him. “Jim” would not have made a good rope walker. He was no Blondin. On the ground he was all right, but let him attempt to cross a stream of water, be it ever so small, upon a log, no matter if the log was six feet in diameter, and he would fall in sure. He fell in twice while lost and came near perishing with wet and cold in consequence of it. He left the company in the fall of ’57.

George Erastus Stuntz was living with his grandfather Rev. George Stuntz during the 1850 census. George Riley Stuntz (another uncle of George E.’s) first came to Chequamegon Bay in 1852 and was known as a “Maker of Millionaires.
Thaddeus Pembroke Sibley established a farm on the Marengo River and built a road to where his brother-in-law, Junius Tillotson Welton, built a sawmill on the White River.  Their land claims are detailed on Charles Whittlesey’s 1860 Geological Map of the Penokie Range.  Sibley was married to Mary M. Wright and Welton was married to Jane E. Wright.

But the best man we had on the range that summer, as a surveyor, (except Albert Stuntz, and I very much doubt if he could beat him), was George E. Stuntz, a nephew of Albert’s, known among the boys as Lazarus.” He was tall and slim, with a long thin face, blue eyes, long dark brown hair, stooped slightly when walking; walked with a swinging motion, spoke slow and loud – was fond of the woods, prided himself on his skill with the compass, and was, I think, the laziest man at that time in the county, except Sibly,” who could discount him fifty and then beat him. But notwithstanding all this Albert could not have completed his survey that season without him. His lines never required any corrections. George was a singer – or thought he was, which is all the same. The recollections of some of his attempts in this line almost brings tears to my eyes from laughter, even now. Nearly every night in camp, the boys, after getting into a position where they could laugh without his seeing them, would coax him to sing. His favorite piece was a song called “The Frozen Limb.” What it meant I have no idea, and do not think he had. One verse of this only can I recall to mind, which ran as follows:

“One cold, frosty evening as Mary was sleeping –
Alone in her chamber, all snugly in bed. – She woke with a noise that did sorely affright her.
‘Who’s that at my window?’ she fearfully said.”

You can easily imagine how this would sound when sung through the nose in the hard shell style – each syllable ending with a jerk, something like this:

“Who’s-that-at-my-win-dow-she-fear-ful-ly-said-ud.”

George had a suit of clothes for the woods made of bed ticking, cap and all complete – all but the cap in one piece. The cap was after the “Dunce” pattern, ie, it ran to a point. The stripes instead of running up and down as they should have done, ran diagonally around him, giving him the appearance of a walking barber’s pole. He was a nice looking boy – he was.

Shortly after donning this beautiful suit, while crossing the Range, he suddenly found himself face to face with a full grown bear. It was no doubt a surprise to both parties,– it certainly was to the bear. For he took one square look and left for distant lands at a speed which, if kept up, would have carried him to Mexico in two days. “Not any of that in mine” was probably what was passing through his massive brain, but he made no sign. The boys who were surveying some fifteen miles south of the Range claimed to have met him that day, still on the jump.      J.S.B.