By Amorin Mello

This is one of several posts on Chequamegon History featuring the original U.S. General Land Office surveys of the La Pointe (Bad River) Indian Reservation.  An earlier post, An Old Indian Settler, features a contentious memoir from Joseph Stoddard contemplating his experiences as a young man working on the U.S. General Land Office’s crew surveying the original boundaries of the Reservation.  In his memoir from 1937, Stoddard asserted the following testimony:

Bad River Headman
Joseph Stoddard
“As a Christian, I dislike to say that the field representatives of the United States were grafters and crooks, but the stories related about unfulfilled treaties, stipulations entirely ignored, and many other things that the Indians have just cause to complain about, seem to bear out my impressions in this respect.”

In the winter of 1854 a general survey was made of the Bad River Indian Reservation.

[…]

It did not take very long to run the original boundary line of the reservation.  There was a crew of surveyors working on the west side, within the limits of the present city of Ashland, and we were on the east side.  The point of beginning was at a creek called by the Indians Ke-che-se-be-we-she (large creek), which is located east of Grave Yard Creek.  The figure of a human being was carved on a large cedar tree, which was allowed to stand as one of the corner posts of the original boundary lines of the Bad River Reservation.

After the boundary line was established, the head surveyor hastened to Washington, stating that they needed the minutes describing the boundary for insertion in the treaty of 1854.

We kept on working.  We next took up the township lines, then the section lines, and lastly the quarter lines.  It took several years to complete the survey.  As I grew older in age and experience, I learned to read a little, and when I ready the printed treaty, I learned to my surprise and chagrin that the description given in that treaty was different from the minutes submitted as the original survey.  The Indians today contend that the treaty description of the boundary is not in accord with the description of the boundary lines established by our crew, and this has always been a bone of contention between the Bad River Band and the government of the United States.

The mouth of Ke-che-se-be-we-she Creek a.k.a. the townsite location of Ironton is featured in our Barber Papers and Penokee Survey Incidents.  Today this location is known as the mouth of Oronto Creek at Saxon Harbor in Iron County, Wisconsin.  The townsite of Ironton was formed at Ke-che-se-be-we-she Creek by a group of land speculators in the years immediately following the 1854 Treaty of La Pointe.  Some of these speculators include the Barber Brothers, who were U.S. Deputy Surveyors surveying the Reservation on behalf of the U.S. General Land Office.  It appears that this was a conflict of interest and violation of federal trust responsibility to the La Pointe Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

Missionary stationed at Bad River 
Reverend Leonard H. Wheeler

This post attempts to correlate historical evidence to Stoddard’s memoir about the mouth of Ke-che-se-be-we-she Creek being a boundary corner of the Bad River Indian Reservation.  The following is a reproduction of a petition draft from Reverend Leondard Wheeler’s papers, who often kept copies of important documents that he was involved with.  Wheeler is a reliable source of evidence as he established a mission at Odanah in the 1840s and was intimately familiar with the Treaty and how the Reservation was to be surveyed accordingly. 

Wheeler drafted this petition six years after the Treaty occurred; this petition was drafted more than seventy-five years earlier than when Stoddard’s memoir of the same important matter was recorded.  The length of time between Wheeler’s petition draft and Stoddard’s memoir demonstrates how long this was (and continued to be) a matter of great contemplation and consternation for the Tribe.  Without further ado, we present Wheeler’s draft petition below:

 


 

A petition draft selected from the

Wheeler Family Papers:

Folder 16 of Box 3; Treaty of 1854, 1854-1861.

 


 

To Hon. C W Thompson

Genl Supt of Indian affair, St Paul, Min-

and Hon L E Webb,

Indian Agent for the Chippewas of Lake Superior

March 30th, 1855 map from the U.S. General Land Office of lands to be withheld from sale for the La Pointe (Bad River) Reservation from the National Archives Microfilm Publications; Microcopy No. 27; Roll 16; Volume 16.  The northeast corner of the Reservation along Lake Superior is accurately located at the mouth of Ke-che-se-be-we-she Creek (not labeled) on this map.

The undersigned persons connected with the Odanah Mission, upon the Bad River Reservation, and also a portion of those Chiefs who were present and signed the Treaty of Sept 30th, AD 1854, would most respectfully call your attention to a few Statements affecting the interests of the Indians within the limits of the Lake Superior Agency, with a view to soliciting from you such action as will speedily see one to the several Indian Bands named, all of the benefits guaranteed to them by treaty stipulation.

Under the Treaty concluded at La Pointe Sept 30th, 1854 the United States set apart a tract of Land as a Reservation “for the La Pointe Band and such other Indians as may see fit to settle with them” bounded as follows.

Gichi-ziibiwishe
a.k.a.
Ke-che-se-be-we-she


Ke-che” (Gichirefers to big, or large.
se-be” (ziibirefers to a river.
we-she” (wishe) refers to rivulets.


Source: Gidakiiminaan Atlas by the Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission

“Beginning on the South shore of Lake Superior a few miles west of Montreal River at the mouth of a creek called by the Indians Ke-she-se-be-we-she, running thence South &c.”

Detail of the Bad River Reservation from GLIFWC’s Gidakiiminaan Atlas. This map clearly shows that the northeast boundary of Bad River Reservation is not located at the true location of Ke-che-se-be-we-she Creek in accordance with the 1854 Treaty.  Red highlights added for emphasis of discrepancies.

Your petioners would represent that at the time of the wording of this particular portion of the Treaty, the commissioner on the part of the United States inquired the number of miles between the mouth of the Montreal River and the mouth of the creek referred to, in reply to which, the Indians said “they had no knowledge of distance by miles” and therefore the commissioner assumed the language of “a few miles west of Montreal River” as discriptive of the creek in mind.  This however, upon actual examination of the ground, does to the Band the greatest injustice, as the mouth of the creek to which the Indians referred at the time is even less than one mile west of the mouth of the Montreal.*

*This creek at the time was refered to as having Deep water inside the Bar” sufficient for Boats which is definitive of the creek still claimed as the starting point, and is not descriptive of the most westerly creek.

The mouth of Ke-che-se-be-we-she Creek was renamed as Ironton by a group of land speculators in the years immediately following the 1854 Treaty of La Pointe.  Some of these speculators include the Barber Brothers, who were U.S. Deputy Surveyors surveying the Reservation.  Ironton is featured in our Barber Papers and Penokee Survey Incidents.

But White men, whose interests are adverse to those of the Indians now demand that the Reservation boundary commence at an insignificant and at times scarcely visible creek some considerable distance west of the one referred to in the Treaty, which would lessen the aggregate of the Reservation from 3 to 4000 acres.

The Barber Brothers worked on the 1854 survey, 1856 survey, and 1858 survey of the La Pointe (Bad River) Reservation, but these surveys are apparently not available online through the United States General Land Office or the Wisconsin State Cartographers Office websites.

Your petioners, have for years, desired and solicited a settlement of the matter, both for the good of the Indians and of the Whites, but from lack of interest the administrations in power have paid no attention to our appeals, as is also true of other matters to which we now call your attention.

1861 resurvey of Township 47 North of Range 1 West by Elisha S. Norris for the General Land Office relocating Bad River Reservation’s northeast boundary.  Ke-che-se-be-we-she Creek was relocated to what is now Graveyard Creek instead of its true location at the Barber Brother’s Ironton townsite location.  Red highlights added for emphasis of discrepancies.

As many heads of families now wish to select (within the portion of Town 47 North of Range 1 West belonging to the Reservation the 80 acre tract assigned to them) we desire that the Eastern Boundary of the Reservation be immediately established so that the subdivisions may be made and and land selected.

Your petioners would further [represent?] that under the 3d Section of the 2nd article of the Treaty referred to the Lac De Flabeau, and Lac Court Orelles Bands are entitled to Reservations each equal to 3 Townships, (See article 3d of Treaty.  These Reservations have never been run out, none have any subdivisions been made.) which also were to be subdivided into 80 acre Tracts.

Article 4th promises to furnish each of the Reservations with a Blacksmith and assistant with the usual amount of Stock, where as the Lac De Flambeau Band have never yet had a Blacksmith, though they have repeatedly asked for one.

Wisconsin State Representative
and co-founder of Ashland
Asaph Whittlesey

As the matters have referred to one of vital importance to these several Bands of Indians, we earnestly hope that you will give your influence towards securing to them, all of the benefits named in the Treaty and as the subject named will demand labor entirely outside of the ordinary duties of an Indian Agent, and as it will be important for some one to visit the Reservations Inland, so as to be able to report intelligently upon the actual State of Things, we respectfully suggest that Mr Asaph Whittlesey be specially commissioned (provided you approve of the plan and you regard him as a suitable person to act) to attend to the taking of the necessary depositions and to present these claims, with the necessary maps and Statistics, before the Commissioner of Indian Affairs at Washington, the expense of which must of necessity, be met by the Indian Department.

Asaph Whittlesey was appointed to serve as the Indian Agent at the La Pointe Indian Agency from 1861 until 1869.  We have not yet found any evidence that Whittlesey addressed any discrepancies about Bad River’s northeast boundary corner not being the true location of Ke-che-se-be-we-she Creek in accordance with the Treaty.

Mr Whittlesey was present at the making of the Treaty to which we refer, and is well acquainted with the wants of the Indians and with what they of right can claim, and in him we have full confidence.

In addition to the points herein named should you favor this commission, we would ask him to attend to other matters affecting the Indians, upon which we will be glad to confer with you at a proper time.

The undersigned L H Wheeler and Henry Blatchford have no hesitency in saying that the representations here made are full in accordance with their understanding of the Treaty, at the time it was drawn up, they being then present and the latter being one of the Interpreters at the time employed by the General Government.

Most Respectfully Yours

Dated Odanah Wis July 1861

 

Names of those connected with the Odanah Mission

[None identified on this draft petition]

 

Names of Chiefs who were signers to the Treaty of Sept 30th 1854

[None identified on this draft petition]

 


 

Although this draft was not signed by Wheeler or Blatchford, or by the tribal leadership that they appear to be assisting, Chequamegon History believes it is possible that a signed original copy of this petition may still be found somewhere in national archives if it still exists.

By Amorin Mello

The Ashland press 1877

Originally published in the June 30th, 1877, issue of The Ashland Press. Transcribed with permission from Ashland Narratives by K. Wallin and published in 2013 by Straddle Creek Co.

… continued from Number I.

EARLY RECOLLECTIONS OF ASHLAND.

“OF WHICH I WAS A PART.”

Number II

My Dear Press: – At the close of my last scribblings, we had arrived on the present site of Ashland, near where the railroad dock reaches the shore and were sheltered in a log shanty, built by Lusk, Prentice & Co., a kind of land company who had plans of starting a town here, of building a dock, and who had a small stock of merchandise and provisions to aid in their proposed work.  The members of the firm were David S. Lusk, of New York, Frederick Prentice, of Toledo, Ohio, Capt. J. D. Angus, of Ontonagon, and Geo. R. Stuntz, then of Superior City.

1850s-prentice-addition-to-ashland

1850s survey of Frederick Prentice Addition of Ashland at/near the ancient village site of Gichi-wiikwedong. “It is in this addition, that, the Chippewa River and the St. Croix Indian trails reach the Bay.”
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Mr. Lusk left the lake in 1856, and I think died some years since in California.

Frederick Prentice

Frederick Prentice
~ History of the Maumee Valley by Horace S Knapp, 1872, pages 560-562.

Mr. Prentice, a man of great energy and business enterprise, now resides in Toledo, and is largely engaged in the production and refining of coal oil, being one of the great operators in that enlightening civilizer.  He has accumulated an ample fortune, and is still largely interested in real estate in our town and country.

01.1.120 capt. angus

Captain John Daniel Angus
~ Madeline Island Museum

Capt. J. D. Angus, and old salt, familiar with all the oceans as well as our inland seas – having circumnavigated the globe; able to build any water craft from a Mackinaw boat to a ship of war; a man with an exhaustless store of anecdotes; who was acquainted with “Sinbad, the Sailor” – having passed through many vicissitudes- is now living in our country, full of life and activity.

george r stuntz

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

George R. Stuntz now resides in Duluth, a civil engineer by profession, who came to the west end of the lake thirty year ago; who has done more surveying of government land than any other man on the lake.  He is a descendant from the third generation of a Hessian soldier, hired by George III to fight against the American Colonies in the war of our Revolution; but who after fighting one battle on the side of the Despot, was convinced of the wrong of the British cause, became an active rebel and a sincere defender of American liberty.  He and his children and children’s children have ever been true American patriots, and have done good service to the cause of the Republic.  He is the owner of much real estate on Lake Superior, in both Wisconsin and Minnesota.

These men had also been attracted by the situation of our bay as the outlet of an extensive country, abounding in minerals and timber.  They had perfected no plans for the acquisition of title to the land.  It is true several claims had been made reaching from Fish Creek nearly to the Indian Reserve –  a narrow strip on the bay, but the claimants gained no rights thereby, for the lands had not been surveyed, and we were all in the eye of the law, trespassers.  The Land Office, which was then at Hudson, on the St. Croix river, was not allowed to receive and entertain declaratory pre-emption statements.

Still Lusk, Prentice & Co. were even then engaged in building a dock and clearing off the site of an expected city, to which even then they gave the name of “Bay City” – by which name the larger part of the present site of Ashland was known for many years.  It is now in legal description as “Ellis Division of Ashland.”  The timber was cut into cord wood and piled upon the dock, in anticipation of the wants of the numerous steamboats soon expected to throng the docks of the rising city.

Some twenty acres of land were thus cut over, reaching from near Dr. Ellis’ present residence to the Bay City creek, and from the bay shore nearly back to the Railroad depot.

The dock extended from the low point about a hundred yards east of the Door and Sash Factory of White & Perinier, about five hundred feet into the water, and reaching a depth of about eleven feet.  It was made of cribs of round logs, pinned together with wooden pins.  The cribs were about 25×30 feet, and about 25 feet apart.  They had no filling of any kind.  They were connected with stringers, which served as the foundation of the road-way, made by laying round poles crosswise upon the stringers.

It may seem stranger to us with the results of many years’ observation and experience of the force of waves and currents and ice pressure in the bay, that such a dock should ever have been built.  But hind sight is always clearer than fore sight, and recent dock builders have had the benefit of the costly experience of the pioneers.

The Kakagon Sloughs on the Bad River Reservation is recognized as a Wetland of International Importance.

They labored under the impression that the ice melted in the bay and did not move out in large fields.  They soon had this error corrected.  On the last day of March, 1855, the ice in Ashland bay was broken for two or three hundred feet from shore only the body of the ice had not moved, and gave no signs of moving.  It looked as though it might remain for weeks.  The morning sun of April 1st shone upon the smooth, classy surface of the water.  The ice had disappeared in a single night, and the dock and wood piled upon it – the result of so many hard days’ work – had passed away also.  The remains might be seen for many years scattered along the bay shore and far up the Kau-kau-gon.  The present dwellers here can hardly realize the depressing effect of this loss to the little squad of settlers.

To be continued in Number III

By Amorin Mello

United States. Works Progress Administration:

Chippewa Indian Historical Project Records 1936-1942  

(Northland Micro 5; Micro 532)

1860 bad river settlement

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

Reel 1; Envelope 1; Item 30.

EARLY SETTLEMENT OF THE BAD RIVER INDIAN RESERVATION

by James Scott

Several years before the final treaty was signed by the Chippewas of Lake Superior, a strange gentleman appeared in the Indian country: He was a white man and became very well acquainted with some of the Indians His name was Ervin Leihy, but the Indians called him Neg-gi-goons (a young otter). When he saw that the Indians were making their homes on each side of the Bad River, as far up as the Bad River Falls, he too decided to build a little home for himself on the bank at the foot of the Falls. He cleared a small piece of land, built his house and in time erected a saw mill which was run by water power. There he lived for many years cultivating the soil and manufacturing lumber. He was never bothered by any of the Indians because he never gave them any cause for unfriendliness. He associated mostly with the young men of the tribe, learned their language, and spoke it quite fluently. He was soon familiar with Indian ways and habits and adopted many of them.

Senator Henry Mower Rice ~ United States Senate Historical Office

Senator Henry Mower Rice
~ United States Senate Historical Office

On September 30, 1854, the final treaty between the Chippewa of Lake Superior and the United States was concluded, (ratified Jan. 10, 1855). The preliminaries required thirty days of deliberation.

Before the last conference, a gentleman by the name of Henry M. Rice, approached the chiefs and headmen of the La Pointe Band at night, and held a secret conference with them. He coached and advised them to be on the alert should a question arise concerning the selection of a reservation.

“I have been secretly approached,” he said, “by a certain band of Chippewa to assist them in securing the land where you have maintained your homes for years. It would be a shame if another band should cheat you out of this place where you have built your homes and lived so long. Any band, or member of such band, which is a part of the Lake Superior Chippewa who reside in the territory you are now ceding to the United States government, have equal rights to make a selection anywhere in the territory the United States is reserving for you.”

When the conference convened the next day, the question of selecting reservations was in order. Immediately after the announcement was made by the official interpreter, Chief Blackbird of the Bad River Band was on his feet shouting and pointing in different directions with a large flat ceremonial pipe which he held in his right hand, describing the boundary lines of his reservation.  (See Article 2, paragraph 2, page 648, Chippewa Treaty of 1854).1

Manidoons (Small Bug).

As soon as Chief Blackbird arose, Chief Moni-don-se (Small Bug) of the Lac du Flambeau Band, also arose at the same time, and tried hard to discourage Chief Blackbird. Chief Moni-don-se claimed that he was supposed to make the selection that Chief Blackbird was now making. Then both chiefs became angry and exchanged unpleasant words with one another. One of the Government officials intervened. Chief Moni-don-se claimed that his people had as much right to select this land as Chief Blackbird had. Moni-don-se was finally over-ruled, so he had to settle on the Lac du Flambeau Reservation. Chief Blackbird then thanked Mr. Henry M. Rice for his advice and assistance.

Vincent Roy, Jr., portrait from "Short biographical sketch of Vincent Roy, [Jr.,]" in Life and Labors of Rt. Rev. Frederic Baraga, by Chrysostom Verwyst, 1900, pages 472-476.

Vincent Roy, Jr. was Henry Mower Rice’s interpreter during the 1854 Treaty with the Chippewas at La Pointe, according to The Sawmill Community at Roy’s Pointe, by Mary Carlson, 2009, page 21.

Mr. Henry M. Rice was an attorney-at-law, and also a fur trader and merchant. He was a very influential man, and the Government granted him the authority to establish a trading post among the Chippewa of Lake Superior. He supplied Indian trappers with food, clothing, traps, guns, ammunition and tobacco, in return for furs. Maple sugar makers also bartered their production for provisions, clothing and other necessities.

A few years after the reservations were set aside for the Chippewa people, the construction of more log houses was begun, even being used to bring the timber required for this purpose from the forest.  Many new homes were built along the Bad River, the location of the houses extending as far as the Falls.  The then existing homes were not lost from view in this movement, and houses needing repairs were given attention.  A sub-agent was appointed and placed in charge of the Bad River Reservation, whose duty it was to assist the Indians in agricultural pursuits, as well as guide and advise them in matters concerning such pursuits.  None was known as the Government Farmer.

The Indians always took the responsibility and care of his children quite seriously.  He taught them early the rudiments of the hunt and the trapping of wild game.  He instilled into them from infancy a love of the traditions and customs of their forefathers; he brought before their young minds the organization of the tribe and clans and their duties.  He also taught them early in life to be grateful to the Great Spirit and appreciate his many gifts.

Duluth News Tribune Tribune
Sunday, 21 Apr. 1918
“ASHLAND, Wis., April 20. – Chief Adam Scott, of the Chippewa tribe of Indians is dead. He passed away at his home in Odanah after a short illness of pneumonia at the age of 76 and was buried today.
Chief Scott was one of the head chiefs of the Chippewas since the death of his father who was a head chief of the Chippewa tribe when they were uncivilized. His father was Ka-ta-wa-ba-bay Scott and he lived to see his tribe emerge from a savage state to civilization. His son has been one of the chief advisors of the tribe and has made many trips to Washington on tribal business. Chief Adam Scott leaves one son who becomes chief. Chief Scott was born on Madeline Island and has lived either at Madeline Island or on the Bad River reservation all his life.”

Gic-he-chi-gie-nig Bah-dub-wah-be-da Scott, my father, who died at the age of seventy-six years and ten months, (born June 12, 1840; died April 16, 1916, told me the following:

Gaagaagens was Young Raven (George Cedar Root).
Kiskitawag (Giishkitawag: “Cut Ear”) signed multiple treaties as a warrior of the Ontonagon Band but afterwards was associated with the Bad River Band. ~C.M. Bell, Smithsonian Digital Collections

Kiskitawag (Giishkitawag: “Cut Ear”) signed multiple treaties as a warrior of the Ontonagon Band but afterwards was associated with the Bad River Band.  Photograph circa 1880.
~ C.M. Bell, Smithsonian Digital Collections

About four years after the signing of the Treaty of 1854, in the spring of 1858, Chief Keesh-ke-tow-wug (Cut Ear), one of the signers of the treaty, sent invitations through his runner, George Cedar Root (Ke-ka-geese, meaning young Raven) to tell all the people he could contact, to come to his home on a certain day.  He had his wife and daughters prepare a great feast and opened up a large Mo-kuk (birch bark container for maple sugar) of maple sugar.  About a hundred people ate at his feast that day.

Chief Keesh-ke-tow-wug ordered his runner to light his personal ceremonial pipe and pass it to each of his male guests.  After the pipe ceremony he arose in a very dignified manner.  He was a tall, lanky old gentleman, and when standing erect was over six feet tall.  He said:

“My children, I want you to listen to me.  The proposition I am about to present will benefit all of you, and I need your cooperation.  I would like to have you donate your labor to clear land for a large community garden, where every family, or any one who wishes can plant.  The place I would suggest is that swampy flat, near the cemetery.  It will take time to drain it and dry out but I know it will make good garden plats.”

The people approved of the idea and gave him the assurance that they would cooperate with him to carry out his plans.  The old chief was more than pleased.  he designated a date on which to start.

When they started clearing the ground for this purpose, many things had to be done.  The land was covered with willows and scrubby tamarack and water.  Long ditches had to be dug to furnish adequate drainage into both rivers, the Ka-ka-gon and the Bad.  It was not long before a tract of land of about eighty acres was prepared for the plow and under actual cultivation.

Weshki is a common Ojibwemowin name for the oldest son of a chief.  There were a number of chiefs with the Marten surname, especially at Lac du Flambeau and Lac Courte Oreilles.

This community garden extended from Mrs. Armstrong’s dwelling on the U. S. Highway No. 2 to where the steel and concrete bridge now crosses the Bad River on the east; and north-west to Waish-ki Martin’s house.  This old community clearing is now known as the “Blackbird Field.”  The Indians used this ground for their gardens about twenty-five years.

Detail of Chief James Blackbird from photo by De Lancey Gill. ~ Smithsonian Collections

Detail of Chief James Blackbird from an 1899 photo by De Lancey Gill.
~ Smithsonian Collections

In the years 1888 to 1890, Gic-caw-kie-yesh-sheese (Minor Surface Wind), son of the old chief Ma-ca-day-pe-nay-se (Blackbird), filed on this community clearing as his allotment.  He was later known as Chief James Blackbird.  The selection was approved by the Indian Department and a patent issued, covering the greater portion of the community garden, in the name of James Blackbird.  (see Article 3, granting of allotments, in the Chippewa Treaty of 1854, page 649).1

Under the stipulations of the Treaty of 1854, the chiefs with the assistance of a field Indian Agent constituted an allotment committee, who made membership rolls and gave allotments to those who were recognized as members of the Bad River band.  Tracts of eighty acres of land were allotted to each.

1 Laws and Treaties – Kappler

1820 Cass Schoolcraft

The Cass-Schoolcraft Expedition identified “Chippewa Gardens” at the location of Odanah.  This map is several decades older than Kiskitawag‘s proposal to pursue agriculture at the same location.
~ Narrative journal of travels from Detroit northwest through the great chain of American lakes to the sources of the Mississippi River in the year 1820, by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, page 105.

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