By Amorin Mello

Magazine of Western History Illustrated Volume IX No.1 Pages 12-17

Magazine of Western History Illustrated
November 1888
as republished in
Magazine of Western History: Volume IX, No. 1, pages 12-17.

ASHLAND, WISCONSIN:

ITS EARLY AND PRESENT DAYS.

Detail of Lapointe du Saint Espirit and Mission du Saint Espirit from Claude Allouez Map of New France, 1669. ~ Research Laboratories of Archaeology

Detail of Lapointe du Saint Espirit and Mission du Saint Espirit from Claude Allouez Map of New France, 1669.
~ Research Laboratories of Archaeology

If the reader will look at the map of the United States, he will see on its northern boundary the largest body of fresh water in the world – Lake Superior, called by the Ojibways Kitche Gumi, “The Big Water.” It lies between 46 and 47 degrees north latitude, and stretches east and west through eight degrees of longitude. Its coast-line is nearly two thousand miles in extent, forming some of the finest natural harbors in the world. Its surface is six hundred and thirty feet above the ocean level, while its bottom in the deepest parts is four hundred feet below the level of the tide-waters. As you come from the east end of the lake, St. Mary’s river, approaching its western extremity, you will, from the deck of the steamer, notice a group of beautiful islands – the same islands which, more than two hundred years ago, met the gaze of Fathers Marquette, Allouez and Mesnard, and which, in their religious zeal, they named the “Apostles’ Islands,” thinking that in number they corresponded with the number of our Savior’s disciples. One of these they named “Madeline,” from a favorite saint of their own “Belle France,” and to commemorate one of the most noted churches of Paris.

Detail of "The 12 Apostles" from Captain Jonathan Carver's journal of his travels with maps and drawings, 1766. ~ Boston Public Library

Detail of “The 12 Apostles” from Captain Jonathan Carver’s journal of his travels with maps and drawings, 1766.
~ Boston Public Library

These islands in ancient times were doubtless a part of the main, as was also the land now lying under Ashland bay. Underlying them was sandstone, rising from twenty to one hundred feet above the water, and horizontal. The great glaciers coming from the north, and moving in a southwest direction, cut channels in the sandstone, forming these islands, and scooping out of the solid rock the large basin which, in after years, received the name of Chaquamegon bay, and which is now known as Ashland bay. This was the first prophecy of the city of Ashland. In the times, millions of years before this, the vast deposits of iron ore had been upheaved and stored along the south shore of the lake, to subserve the designs of the Mighty Builder in the development of that commerce of which we now see but the earliest down, and of whose future extent we can form but a faint comprehension. Chaquamegon, Le Anse and Marquette bays are the natural outlets on Lake Superior for the rich mineral deposits which line its southern shore.

The formation of Ashland bay was therefore not accidental, but in harmony with Eternal plans. It is protected from the storms of the lake by a long, low, sandy point, and also by the Apostles’ islands. Into it open from the lake three broad channels, with a depth of water ample for the largest vessels, called the North, Middle and South channels. Under these islands, vessels coming from the wild storms of the open lake are secure. It is the sailor’s haven of safety.

1834 Map of LaPointe by Lyman Warren

1834 Map of LaPointe by Lyman Warren for the American Fur Company.
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

The first settlement on the bay was made by the American Fur company in the early part of the present century, on the beautiful Madeline island, and named La Pointe. It continued for many years the headquarters of a flourishing fur and fishing trade. About 1830 a Protestant and, soon after, a Catholic mission were established there, and churches built by them, in which devoted missionaries labored to Christianize and civilize the Indians whose homes were here and in the surrounding country. Here toiled Rev. Sherman Hall, a missionary of the American board, and Rev. L. H. Wheeler, and also that devoted man, now known to us as Bishop Baraga. These have all passed away. La Pointe, then the most populous and active village on the lake, is now, alas, “The deserted village,” and is visited alone in veneration of its past memories.

Map inset of Chequamegon Bay with Houghton, LaPointe, Bayfield, Ashland, and Bay City.

Map inset of Chequamegon Bay with Houghton, LaPointe, Bayfield, Ashland, and Bay City.
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

On the west shore of the bay, opposite La Pointe, is the beautiful town of Bayfield, founded by Honorable Henry. M. Rice in 1856. It is the terminus of the C., St. P., M. & O. railroad and the headquarters of a flourishing fish and lumber trade, and one of the most charming summer resorts on the lake.

On the west shore of the bay is also the flourishing town of Washburn – named in honor of Wisconsin’s governor, Cadwallader C. Washburn. It is the favorite town of the Omaha railroad, and has several large saw-mills, and is an active and enterprising town.

"Asaph Whittlesey dressed for his journey from Ashland to Madison, Wisconsin, to take up his seat in the state legislature. Whittlesey is attired for the long trek in winter gear including goggles, a walking staff, and snowshoes." Circa 1860. ~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Asaph Whittlesey circa 1860.
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

The first settlement on the spot where Ashland now stands was made, in 1854, by Asaph Whittlesey and George Kilborn, both natives of the Western Reserve, Ohio. The lands were not as yet surveyed, so that they could not preëmpt them, and there was as yet no Homestead law. For this reason they, with Martin Beaser, then living in Ontonagon, Michigan, laid claim, under the “Town Site” law, to about three hundred acres, embracing their log houses and small clearing. They platted this into town lots in 1855, and subsequently were allowed to enter their lands as claimed, and in due course received their title. In February, 1855, Edwin Ellis, a graduate in medicine, in the University of the City of New York, of the class of 1846, came on foot through the woods from St. Paul to the bay. He had been engaged in the practice of his profession in his native state – Maine – till 1854, when, attracted by the prospect of wider fields for enterprise in the new west, and by the advice of Judge D. A. J. Baker, his brother-in-law, then living in St. Paul, he came to Minnesota.

Edwin Ellis, M.D., died in Ashland on May 3rd, 1903. This portrait and a posthumous biography of Dr. Ellis is available on pages 16-18 of Commemorative Biographical Record of the Upper Lake Region by J.H. Beers & Co., 1905.

Edwin Ellis, M.D.
~ Commemorative Biographical Record of the Upper Lake Region by J.H. Beers & Co., 1905, pages 16-18.

The years 1853 to 1857 were years of wild speculation. The states of Wisconsin and Minnesota especially were covered with rising cities – at least on paper. Fabulous stories of rich silver, copper and iron mines on the south shore of Lake Superior attracted a multitude of active young men from the eastern states. The city of Superior had been laid out, and its lots were selling for fabulous prices. The penniless young man of to-day became the millionaire to-morrow. The consequent excitement was great, and in the event demoralizing.

The Bay of Ashland, stretching far in-land, the known vast deposits of iron near the Penokee Gap, whose natural route to market was evidently by Chaquamegon bay, indicated with moral certainty that at its head would rise a commercial mart which should command a wide extent of country. The vast forests of pine were then hardly thought of, and no efforts made to obtain them. The lands were unsurveyed, and all the “squatters” were, in the eye of the law, trespassers. Nevertheless, the new-comers ran “spotted” lines around their claims and built log-cabins to hold them, and began to clear up the land. In June, 1855, Dr. Ellis went on foot to St. Paul, and thence to Dubuque, Iowa, and secured from the surveyor-general an order to survey four townships about the bay, embracing the site of the present city of Ashland. In the meantime, many settlers had come in and preëmpted lands in the neighborhood. In the fall of 1855 many of them were enabled to prove up and get titles to their lands.

Portrait and biography of Frederick Prentice, the "first white child born in ... Toledo." ~ History of the Maumee Valley by Horace S Knapp, 1872, pages 560-562.

Portrait and biography of Frederick Prentice; the “first white child born in … Toledo.”
~ History of the Maumee Valley by Horace S Knapp, 1872, pages 560-562.

In the winter of 1855 Lusk, Prentice & Company, who had a trading-post within the present limits of Ellis’ division of Ashland, built a dock for the accommodation of the settlers coming to the new town. It was built of cribs, made of round logs sunk in the water about twenty feet apart. From one crib to another were stringers, made of logs, flattened on the upper surface, all covered with small logs to make a roadway. On the docks were piled several hundred cords of wood for the purpose of “holding” the dock from floating away, and to be sold in the summer to the steamboats which should come to bring supplies and begin the commerce of the town. The evening of the second day of April, 1855, saw the bay full of ice, slightly detached for a few feet from the shore, but with no sign of an immediate opening of navigation.

Portrait of Martin Beaser on page 24.

Portrait of Martin Beaser on page 24.

The next morning no ice was in sight, nor a vestige of the dock to be seen. Floating timber and cord-wood covered the bay. Till then the settlers had no idea the power of the floating ice moved by the tide of the bay. But they were not discouraged. The following winter two other docks were constructed – one by Martin Beaser, at the foot of what is now called “Beaser Avenue,” and the other by Edwin Ellis, near where Seyler’s foundry now stands.

These were also crib-docks, but the effort was made to anchor the cribs. There were no rocks to be had on the side of the bay where the docks were built, for which reason Mr. Beaser filled his cribs with clay, dug out of the banks. Dr. Ellis hauled stone across the bay, and filled as many of his cribs as possible, and on the top of the dock also piled several hundred cords of wood, and the settlers with anxious faces watched the departure of the ice. The shock came, and the docks afforded little resistance. The cribs filled with clay were easily carried. Those filled with stone stood better, but that part of those above water, and near the outer end, were swept away. The labors of many weary days and much money was thus swept away. There was, however, enough of the Ellis dock left to afford a landing to the few boats that came with supplies for the people.

The years of 1855-1857 at Bayport, Ashland, Bayfield, Ironton, and Houghton along Chequamegon Bay are captured in the Penokee Survey Incidents and the Barber Papers.

Survey of Frederick Prentice‘s Addition of Ashland near the Gichi-wiikwedong village.
“It is in this addition, that, the Chippewa River and the St. Croix Indian trails reach the Bay, and for the purpose of accomodating the trade, already flowing in on their routes, a commodious store has just been built”
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Gichi-wiikwedong
Translates as “Big Bay” in Ojibwemowin.
Traditional place-name for Ashland, WI.
Equadon
Anglicized version of Gichi-wiikwedong.
Prentice Park and Maslowski Beach.
Area is famous for artesian wells.
The Park of a Hundred Flowing Wells
“This was all Indian land then, but [Asaph] Whittlesey believed in take time for the forelock, looking he said, for a place that ‘might prove to be the most available point for a town, at or near Equadon (pronounced E Quay don, the second syllable emphasized.) The word ‘Equadon,’ is the Chippewa word meaning ‘settlement near the head of the bay.'”
The Ashland Daily Press, July 6, 1933, by Guy M. Burnham, reproduced on TurtleTrack.org.  Read the full article for an interesting stories about how the town-site for Ashland was allegedly negotiated between Reverend Wheeler and Little Current.

During the years 1855, ’56 and ’57 many settlers had come to Ashland and built homes, and were all young men full of bright hopes for the future. In the spring of 1856 a township organization was formed, embracing more than forty townships of six miles square, and was called Bayport. The usual township officers were elected. The year 1857 opened with bright prospects. In Ashland streets were cleared and several frame houses were built. A steam saw-mill was begun and brought near completion. But in September of that year the great financial storm came, involving the whole country in ruin. The little village of Ashland was overwhelmed. The people had but little money, and in making their improvements had contracted debts which they could not at once pay. There had been so such speculation that the settlers had paid but little attention to the cultivation of the soil, depending upon supplies brought by water a thousand miles. We had no wagon roads nor railroads within three hundred miles. Winter was coming on, and many of the settlers – in truth, all who could get away – left the place. The few who remained saw hard times, whose memory is not pleasant to recall. Some of them, in making improvements, had assumed liabilities which well-nigh ruined them. If the county had then been organized for judicial purposes, so that judgements and execution could have been easily obtained, scarcely anyone would have saved a dollar from the wreck. But this fortunate circumstance gave them time, and their debts were finally paid, and they had their land left; but it then was without value in the market. Town lots in the village, which are now selling for five thousand to six thousand dollars, could then be sold for enough to buy a barrel of flour. The years following “’57” were hard years, and the settlers, one by one, moved away, so that in 1862 only two remained – Martin Beaser and Martin Roehn. In 1866 Mr. Beaser undertook to come alone from Bayfield to Ashland in an open sail-boat. It was a stormy day, and he never reached home. His boat was found soon afterwards at the head of the bay, and his body was found the following spring on the beach on the west side of the bay. Ashland was now left desolate and alone. Mr. Roehn, with a few cows, migrated backward and forward between Ashland and the Marengo river, finding hay and pasture for his cows, selling his produce and butter at Bayfield and La Pointe, and thus eked out an existence. The first railroad to reach Ashland was the Wisconsin Central, completed in 1877, connecting Ashland with Milwaukee. Work at the Ashland end was begun in 1872, and in 1873 finished to Penokee, twenty-nine miles south from Ashland. It had been built from the south to within about eighty-five miles of Ashland, and then came the panic of 1873, and all work stopped. The building in 1872 in Ashland was quite extensive, and village property sold at good prices, and everybody was hopeful. But the crisis of 1873 coming on, all enterprises at once stopped. Not till 1877 was the railroad completed. Its completion established Ashland on a substantial basis. In 1877 the Wisconsin Central company completed the Chaquamegon hotel, one of the finest in the country, which has added greatly to the attractions of Ashland.

The building of the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha road to this place, in 1883, gave a short outlet to the west and southwest, greatly benefiting the lumber trade.

The Northern Pacific, whose eastern terminus is at Ashland, soon after completed, gave it new importance as in the direct line of transcontinental commerce.

But the advent of the Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western railroad had done more, perhaps to stimulate the growth of Ashland than any one of its great enterprises.

It runs northerly from Milwaukee to Manitowoc, where, turning in northwesterly course, it traverses vast tracts of valuable timber and farming lands, running for fifty miles along the Gogebic range – the richest iron region in the world.

This company has built two large and costly ore docks for the shipment of the vast amount of iron ore which it brings over its road.

Chapter 9
South From Ashland
“The promoters decided to make Ashland the north end of their iron. It was a mere clearing, in the woods in 1870, formerly known as Equadon which was founded in 1854 and abandoned in 1863. The Ashland site was located on the bank of a splendid natural harbor called Cheguamegon Bay.”

“The clearing, grubbing and grading of the 30-mile Ashland-Penokee Gap Division had been practically complete in 1872. The iron rails were not laid into the Gap until October 1873, and there the railroad stopped for 4 long years.”

Penokee Gap, 1000 feet above Lake Superior, is a break in the rough country, a regular gap where the Bad River breaks through the Iron Range Hills on its way to Lake Superior. The Gap is an historic pathway through which the copper workers from Mexico and South America came to Lake Superior centuries ago enroute to the copper deposits on Isle Royal in Lake Superior.”
History of the Soo Line, by James Lyden.

The Wisconsin Central Railroad company has also built a very fine ore dock, over which it ships the iron brought from the same range by its own line – the “Penokee Railroad” – built easterly along the northern base of the Gogebic range to Bessemer, in Michigan.

Notwithstanding the depression in the iron trade, more than a million tons of ore will be shipped from Ashland the present season.

Ashland has also two coal docks – one operated by the Ohio Coal company and the other by the Columbus & Hocking Valley Coal company – both of whom are doing a large business. The Lake Shore railroad and the Wisconsin Central obtain their coal for their engines, on the northern two hundred miles, by their docks at Ashland. The same rates for coal going west prevail as from Duluth and Washburn, and a large trade is springing up over the Omaha & Northern Pacific lines.

Ashland has three National and one private bank, all of which are conservative and carefully managed. It has also a street railway, two miles in length, with six fine cars and about forty horses, and is rendering very satisfactory service. We have also a “Gas and Electric Light Plant,” which affords abundant light for the streets, stores, dwellings and the ore docks. Ashland has also the Holly system of water-works, with about two miles of pipe laid, affording ample protection against fire and an abundant supply of water for domestic purposes. The pump-house has two ponderous engines, one being kept in reserve in case of accident.

As a point for the distribution of manufactured goods of all kinds, Ashland stands among the foremost. With practically the same rates as by the roads leading from Duluth west, it is prepared to compete with that lively town for part of the trade of the great northwest – now in its infancy but destined soon to attain great proportions; whose beginnings we can measure, but whose vast results we cannot now comprehend.

Portrait of Prentice's brownstone quarry at Houghton Point. ~ Ashland Daily Press, circa 1893.

Portrait of Prentice’s brownstone quarries at Houghton Point.
~ Ashland Daily Press, circa 1893.

“A Big Stone Quarry,
A Great Brownstone Industry Established At Houghton Point.
What Frederick Prentice Has Accomplished During The Season.
~ Ashland Daily Press article in the Washburn Itemizer, October 18, 1888, reproduced on BattleAxCamp.tripod.com
Brownstone quarries along the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.
Tour historic buildings in Ashland, Washburn, Bayfield, Superior, Duluth, etc., for examples of The Brownstone Architecture of the Lake Superior Region, 2000, by Kathryn Bishop Eckert.

One industry on Ashland bay is the brown stone, which exists along the water’s edge for many miles on the shore of the mainland and on the islands. It can be quarried in inexhaustible quantities within a few hundred feet of navigable waters of Lake Superior. It is of fine texture and beautiful color, and hardens by exposure. Large quantities have already been shipped and the demand is rapidly increasing. It can be shipped by rail at about four dollars per ton to Cincinnati. This stone, used for trimmings in buildings built of white brick, makes a very beautiful appearance.

The vast quantities of pine and hardwood timber in the vicinity of Ashland, and its advantages as a point of distribution for manufactured articles in wood, render it one of the best locations for manufacturing industries. For tanneries its location is unrivaled; the supply of hemlock bark is ample, while hides can be cheaply brought from Minnesota and the northwest, and the products can be shipped in all directions at low rates.

The schools of Ashland afford the best of opportunities for the education of our youth. Our school buildings are large, new and commodious, with all modern improvements. Our schools are graded and the attendance is large.

In the churches, most denominations are represented. The Catholic is the finest church edifice in the city, built of our own brown stone at a cost of over thirty thousand dollars. There are Presbyterian, Congregational, Episcopal, Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran and several Scandinavian churches.

As a summer resort, Ashland and the Apostles’ islands afford unrivaled attractions. Sail-boats, tugs and steamboats make daily excursions in all directions. They busy men from Chicago, St. Louis, St. Paul, Cincinnati and other cities can, in one day, escape from the sweltering heat and sleep on the cool ore of Lake Superior, and with our lines of railroad and telegraph stretching in all directons, they can be in constant and instant communication with their counting-rooms a thousand miles away. Its advantages in this line are already drawing many persons of wealth and leisure, as well as invalids, who come here to spend the hot season and at the close of the summer return home with new health and vigor.

Portrait of Edwin Ellis, M.D. on page 20.

Portrait of Edwin Ellis, M.D. on page 20.

Ashland has just two daily and three weekly newspapers, models of enterprise and very newsy, contributing much to the prosperity of the city.

The population of Ashland is about fifteen thousand, composed principally of persons under thirty-five years of age, and full of push and activity, who have come to stay and built up fortunes.

With all these and many other advantages Ashland seems to have a bright future, and many of us think it bids fair, in the near future, to become the second city in the state of Wisconsin. And we will labor that she shall be worthy of her rank.

EDWIN ELLIS.

By Amorin Mello

This is a reproduction of Colonel Charles W. Whittlesey’s article, “Two Months in the Copper Region,” as published in the National Magazine and Industrial Record, Volume II., Number IX., February 1846, by Redwood Fisher, pages 816-846.  For more information about these places and people, please refer to Copper Harbor, The Copper Region, and Copper Harbor Redux in the Wisconsin Territory Delegation, which occurred only a few weeks previous to Whittlesey’s experience.

 


 

The National Record and Industrial Record

TWO MONTHS IN THE COPPER REGION.

"Studio portrait of geologist Charles Whittlesey dressed for a field trip." Circa 1858. ~ Wisconsin Historical Society

“Studio portrait of geologist Charles Whittlesey dressed for a field trip.” Circa 1858.
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

It was on the 14th day of August, 1845, that our party went on board a light and well-built yawl, of about four tons, moored in the still water above the rapids of the St. Mary’s river. We were venturing upon an experiment. We could not learn that such a craft had ever put forth alone upon the waters of Lake Superiour, and our intention was, to follow the south coast as far as the season would permit. For hundreds of years this lake had been navigated by the bark canoe, and parties were setting off every day for Copper Harbour, La Pointe, and other remote points, in these apparently frail vessels, but which the experience of centuries, in these apparently frail vessels, but which the experience of centuries had demonstrated to be the safest conveyance known. The Mackinaw boat had long traversed these shores, transporting goods to the Fur Company’s posts, and returning with furs.

These long, narrow, flat-bottomed boats, carry a heavy burden, go well before the wind, and are easily drawn ashore. The bark canoe, as well as the Mackinaw boat, has no keel, and the safety of both consists in being able to make a harbour of every sand beach, in case of a storm. The expert voyager, has a kind of second sight in regard to weather, smelling a storm while it is yet a great way off. It is only when a great saving may be made, and the weather is perfectly fair, that he ventures to leave the vicinity of the shore, and cross from point to point, in the open sea. These passages are called “traverses;” and such si the suddenness with which storms arise, that a traverse of 10 or 15 miles, even in fair weather, and while every indication is favourable, is regarded as a hazardous operation. Some daring boatmen make them of 30 miles.

Of course, the birch canoe and the Mackinaw boat, being without keels, cannot sail upon the wind. Our yawl, with a keel of four inches, having nine men and about a ton of provisions aboard, sank about 16 inches in the water. She was provided with a cotton square-sail, containing about 40 square yards, and had row-locks for six oars. How she would row – how she would sail, and how she would brave the storm, we could only surmise, and the surmises were rather against the little vessel.

The portage, over which goods now pass, from the level of Lake Huron to that of Lake Superiour, is a flat, wet, marshy piece of land, about three-fourths of a mile across. To the westward, the country appears to be low and swampy, as far as the view extends; which, however, is limited by the thick timber, principally spruce, pine, white cedar, birch, and hemlock. But a walk of one mile, in that direction, brought me to a low eminence, rising out of a cedar swamp, composed of masses of rolled granite and other primitive rocks, in size from a small pebble to a diameter of ten feet. The timber among them had been lately blackened by a raging fire. The trunks of these charred trees, some standing erect, some leaning against others, and many prostrate on the rocks, contrasted hideously with the white and nakedness of those immense granite boulders, which covered the surface.

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

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

On the north and east, in the province of Canada, a high range of mountains extends, in each direction, out of sight. They were first visible at the head of St. Joseph’s island, having the jagged outline of trap-rocks. The view from the low ground, on the American side, towards the high land across the river, is extensive and gratifying. In front is the river, a mile broad, and the rapids. At the opposite shore, the establishment of the Hudson’s Bay Company, half commercial, half military, with a stockade and white houses. For several miles down the river, there are houses on the bank, and farms extending back, at irregular distances, up the mountains. Here the traders, voyagers, missionaries, factors, Indian agents, and Indians, reside promiscuously – such is the foreground of the view. Behind and beyond rise the mountain ranges, in that pure atmosphere perfectly distinct at the distance of twenty miles.

Our tents were struck at 7 o’clock, A.M., and the journey began. There were other parties scattered about the open space at the warehouse; some had regular tents, some sheltered themselves under a broad piece of India rubber cloth, stretched over a pole like the roof of a house. One party had a conical tent, with an upright pole in the centre, the canvass spread out around the foot; and another, in default of other covering, lay snoring under a cotton bedtick, stretched across the bushes. A party of surveyors were encamped near the landing, from a cruise of three months in the interiour. This party had run a tier of townships, from Mackinaw, northward, into sections of one mile square. These men encamped a few days at this place, to recruit their tattered garments, of which only the shreds and fragments remained. In enterprises of this sort, it is only by physical energy, and great powers of endurance, that the contractor can realize any thing from the prices allowed by Government for its original surveys. They provision themselves, by carrying all on their backs, from the depots on the shore. The thickets through which they pursue their work, week after week, and month after month, would be declared absolutely impracticable to a person not trained in that school, especially in the vicinity of the lake. No beast of burden could pass without bridges, even in case a pathway should be cut through the matted evergreens that cover the ground. To make a path for a horse or mule, would consume more time and labour per mile than the survey itself. There is a hardy class of Frenchmen and half-breeds, cousin-german to the Canadian voyageur, called “packers;” they were bred in the service of the Fur Companies, to carry goods from the nearest landing to the trading post, and return with a pack of furs. The surveyors found these packers indispensable to their operations. They will carry from 50 to 70 pounds, and can travel along in the recesses of the forest, without fear of losing their way.

They are patient, cheerful, and obedient; in fact, they are on land what the voyageur is upon the water. His capacity for food corresponds with his ability to endure fatigue, and his great care is to secure it in sufficient quantity. He makes, with a little instruction, an excellent axeman and chainman. If circumstances prevent a return to the camp, or the rendezvous, he can lie down at the foot of a tree, sleep till daybreak, and resume his tramp without complaint.

George Catlin Indian Gallery

The party which joined our encampment here, was a subject for Catlin, the Indian sketcher. More hale, hearty, and jovial fellows, never broke into the limits of civilization. The northern atmosphere had tinged their cheeks with red, they were all young and active men, glowing with that high animal life, that extreme buoyancy of spirits, which is a stranger to the inhabitants of cities – to those who toss upon feather beds, and live upon soups and comfits.

1641 journey of Father Isaac Jogues and Charles Raymbault to the Sault.

This rugged company, full of fun and frolic, with beards of three months’ cultivation, in red flannel shirts, and fustian trowsers in shreds, white beaver hats, less the border, some in shoes, some in moccasins, and some in boots, from all of which various toes were looking out surprised even the worthy burghers of the Sault. The Sault St. Marie has been a trading post more than two hundred years. The good Catholics Ramboult and Jonges, preached preentance to the Nodowessies, or Sioux, on this spot, in 1641, whom the French traders immediately followed. Here it may be said the borders of civilization have been fixed for two centuries. In consequence, a mixed race has arisen, neither the representatives of refinement nor of barbarism, but of a medium state. It may well be supposed, that a band of jolly fellows, habited as we have described these hardy surveyors, axemen, chainmen, and packers, would not attract here that attention which they would in New-York, or in London. But they appeared to be objects of no little interest and curiosity to the worthy inhabitants of the Sault, especially as some of them were so disfigured that their old friends did not recognize them.

"Ojibwa village near Sault Ste Marie" by Paul Kane in 1845. ~ Wikipedia.org

“Ojibwa village near Sault Ste Marie” by Paul Kane in 1845.
~ Commons.Wikimedia.org

Looking back from the water, upon the collection of tents and lodges, we had a view of the group at one glance, and the scene from the new point of observation suggested ideas that had not presented themselves while we formed a part of it. Around some of the camp-fires were gentlemen from the Atlantic shores, with genteel caps and surtouts, shivering in the raw wind of the morning. Poor fellows ! impelled by the hope of wealth to be found in the copper region, they had rushed, at steamboat rates, to the extremity of navigation, of taverns, and permanent habitations.

The reality of copper exploration had now commenced. A night of drizzling rain and fog had been passed, in a cold tent, on wet ground. Among them were seated voyageurs and half-breeds, as happy as a plenty of grub could take them. The raw wind was no annoyance to them, so long as there was a flint and steel to start a fire, and a plentiful stock of provisions. Between the cap and surtout, and the flannel shirt and canvass trousers, was every grade of men represented by a grade of habiliments.

In front of this motley collection of persons and things, lay the frame of a large schooner, on which fifty workmen were laying the plank – all its timbers and lumber brought from the lower lakes; and in the open level space beyond, along a track cleared through the swamp, stood the spars of a vessel, advancing on solid land towards the basin above the falls. This labour and expense of bringing vessels over land, or the timber to construct them with, is unavoidable. As far as known, there is not ship timber enough on Lake Superiour to build a schooner.

The rock which causes the rapids is a close, fine-grained, red sandstone, in thin layers, pitching to the northward. There has been much diversity of opinion among geologists, about the geological position of this rock. As I proceed, I shall again notice this rock, and its analogue, which occupies almost the entire south coast of this lake.

Map of Ohio including the Connecticut Western Reserve, the First Principal Meridian, and the Base Line. Drawn by Jerome S. Higgins, 1887. ~ Wikipedia.org

Map of Ohio including the Connecticut Western Reserve, the First Principal Meridian, and the Base Line. Drawn by Jerome S. Higgins, 1887.
~ Wikipedia.org

The 1st principal meridian of the U. States surveys, comes out on the waters of St. Marie’s, at the ship yard, just above the rapids. This is a true meridian, run with great care from the base line, which is about 12 miles north of Detroit. The 1st meridian is about 30 miles west of Detroit, and passing up through the peninsula of Michigan, crosses the straits near Mackinaw. By the Government system of rectangular co-ordinates, referred always to a given base and meridian, an observer knows his exact position, wherever he may be, in the surveyed portions of the U. States. Every township is six miles square, every section one mile square, every quarter section half a mile square. Every section [corner] has permanent marks on some adjacent tree, which gives the situation of that corner from its proper base and meridian. I make this explanation, to give light upon terms that I shall use hereafter. In traversing the American shore of Lake Superiour, we found, as far as the Porcupine Mountains, west of the Ontanagon, that the surveyors had preceded us. During the present and the past year they had extended the township lines to this distance along the coast, and for a part of this distance had subdivided the townships into sections. These surveys had been carried to different distances, interiour. From the base, near Detroit, numbering northward, St. Marie’s is in township No. 47 North, range No. 1 East. But our point of embarkment was on the west side of the meridian, in town 47 North, range 1 West, or 282 miles north of the base line.

Gros Cap Conservation Area
Tahquamenon Falls State Park

We are now fairly under way, and shall be able to keep our reckoning. The river expands, as we ascend against a very gentle current; the shores are low and swampy, or sandy, and covered with stunted pines. In an hour and a half, so easily did our boat row, we were at “Point Aux Pins,” on the British side. At ten o’clock, we were on shore at the “Gros Cap,” looking up a spar, and clambering the red granite ridge, which here projects towards the American shore – the extremity of that range of mountains in view from the rapids, to the eastward. From the height of 500 feet, we could see the continuation of this range, westward, into Michigan, until its summit were lost int eh mist. The western extremity of the American range is “Point Iroquois,” nearly opposite “Gros Cap,” where the Chippeways, by their ancestors, fought a great battle with the Iroquois, long before the French came into these waters. The range is called the “Tequamenon Mountains,” overlooking for some 20 miles a deep bay, known as the Tequamenon Bay. The waters about “Gros Cap” are so clear that the bottom is seen from 50 to 60 feet below the surface.

Ile Parisienne Conservation Reserve

Before leaving this inhospitable crag, we set fire to a windfall about about two years of age, and consequently in a fine state for a conflagration. This was not done through any republican contempt of the British Queen, or her territory, but from pure benevolence towards subsequent travellers exploring “Gros Cap.” It lay between the ridge and the bay, in a swamp so thickly covered with prostrate trees that one might go a quarter of a mile on them without touching the ground, unless an unlucky misstep should precipitate him into the mud beneath. At one o’clock, we were at “Isle Parisien,” a low island, five miles long, cooking a dinner, and procuring a better spar.

We succeeded here so well in fitting our sail, that the traverse of 15 miles to “White-Fish Point,” ordinarily a hazardous voyage, was safely and pleasantly made, a little after dark; and the wind, though light, being still fair, we ran into the lake without landing, and made along the shore. We were now upon the largest body of fresh water on the globe; called by the Indians, Kitche-goming, by the French, Superieur, or Upper, and corrupted by the English into “Superiour.”

The moon shone dimly through a heavy sky, the water was merely ruffled by a warm southern breeze, and in the distance the flame of the burning windfall shone conspicuously above the mountains.  On the Michigan side, several large tracts of burning timbers were seen on the hills, at the head of Tequamenon Bay.  It was determined to proceed as long as the wind continued favourable, but in a short time it failed altogether, and we went ashore at half-past eleven, and encamped.  The ground here lay in a series of low sand ridges, with scattered pines.  Distance from the Sault, 45 miles.

At sunrise every thing was on board, and the sail spread before a fair wind.  Along the beach, the surf has piled a ridge of water-washed granitic gravel, five to six feet high, the deep water holding out quite to the shore.  In coasting, in an open boat, the traveller must resign all hope of regularity of hours, of meals, and of sleep.  His sovereign is the weather: when that is calm, he may proceed with the “white ash queen,” as the sailors say: when the wind is ahead, he can take his ease – provided he is safe on shore!  But, when it is fair, he must always be before it.  The prevailing winds along this shore are from the west, at this season; and, consequently, they are ahead as you go up the lake.

Breakfast on board, upon cold beans, cold pork, and hard bread.

Two Hearted River

Towards evening, the wind came so strong ahead as to oblige us to put into the mouth of “Two-Heart” river, a stream sufficiently deep to float a large vessel inside the bar, but not deep enough to carry the yawl with her load.  Of the streams discharging into the lake from the south, only two or three are known with open mouths.  At most of them it was necessary to lighten the boat and haul her over, with about the same labour and discomfort as though there was no channel; but once inside, a quiet harbour was always found.  These mouths are so completely sealed up, and concealed by sand ridges, tat persons may pass them within ten rods of shore, and not discover that a creek is there.

The shore is composed of low monotonous sand ridges; with stunted pines.  The bluff is from 50 to 80 feet high, presenting a stratified edge of sand, inclined gently to the east, not exceeding 10 feet in a mile.  The ridges run from the interiour nearly perpendicular to the direction of the shore.

We passed several fishing huts, now deserted, with a plenty of empty salt barrels and fish scales scattered around.

A little east of the mouth of the creek we observed, in toiling up, several picketed enclosures, among the pines, on a beautiful ridge.  They were Indian graves, thus strongly guarded to keep out the beasts of prey.  There are those who doubt whether the Indian is susceptible to the delights of taste – whether he enjoys a bright morning, a clear and moonlight night, a mountain, a vale, or a beautiful river.  Was it mere accident that placed this burying-ground upon so enchanting a spot?  The lake is about 40 rods distant in front, and about as many feet below the site of the graves.  Through the open trees you see its waters, as plainly as if there was no intervening timber – while the shade of its branches is perpetual upon the spot.  Even the lowest ripple on the beach reaches the ear as distinctly as the angriest roar of the waves.  Every breath of air that moves to and from the lake – the evening and the morning breeze, as well as the northern tempest, plays audibly upon the long and evergreen leaves of these ancient pines.  At the head of each grave is a flat shingle or board, with emblems, painted in red, or rudely carved with a knife.  On one, there are tree red cross-bows, and two human figures – representing a man and a woman, (doubtless a husband and wife,) with clasped hands.  On the reverse, a bear – probably the sign or token of the deceased.  On the top, three eagle quills.  Some have crosses – indicating that a good Catholic sleeps below.

At an early hour on the morning of the 16th we got out of “Two-Heart” river through a light sea, determined to try the “ash breeze” against the west wind; but, after a couple of miles hard rowing, the regular breeze prevailed: we could no longer make headway, and put about.

Notwithstanding the sand-flies and moschetoes, it was comfortable to lie down once more upon the green grass and fragrant wintergreens of that shore.  The weather was warm and heavy.  Some wandered through the sand-hills and stumps; some, wrapped in blankets as a defence against the flies, sought in vain for sleep; others, with the fishhook and artificial fly, rowed up the creek in pursuit of speckled trout.  A good dinner and supper of these fish was the result of the expedition.

At 8 P.M. the wind became more favourable, and the boat was headed up the coast.  At 10 the weather became thick, and running ashore at random, we had the first trial at hauling our craft out of the water by main force.  She proved to be as easily handled on land as a Mackinaw of the same capacity; only requiring more care.  In camp, we turned her over – one gunwale resting on the sand, about thirty feet from the surf; the other set upon sticks, after the fashion of a trap.  Under this we all crawled, spread our blankets, and some of the party went to sleep.

Josiah R. Dorr
Daniel P. Bushnell was stationed at the La Pointe Indian sub-Agency.
Mike, Martin, Charley, and Patrick cannot be identified without further biographical information.
Martin appears to be Ashland’s co-founder Martin Beaser, who formerly worked in the whaling industry:
“[Martin] engaged in sailing on Lake Erie from Buffalo to Detroit until 1847, when he went in the interest of a company in the latter city to Lake Superior for the purpose of exploring the copper ranges in the northern peninsula of Michigan. He coasted from Sault Ste. Marie to Ontonagon in a bateau. Remaining in the employ of the company about a year, he then engaged in a general forwarding and commission business for himself.”

Mr. J. R. Dorr, of Detroit, the principal of the expedition, had seen something of this kind of life.  Mr. D. P. Bushnell , of the same place, had long been Indian agent at La Pointe; and was, of course, familiar with the country and this mode of travelling.  Another gentlemen, well known on the lakes for his wit and vivacity, qualities that generally attend an excitable temperament, not being accustomed to tents, boats, and camps, found it rather uncomfortable.  The sand, so soft and yielding to the foot, was as hard as a rock to the bones.  The grinding of the gravel, thrown incessantly about by the waves, gave out a grating sound that had no tendency to sooth a man to rest; especially one who had been accustomed to the quiet of the third story of a boarding-house.  Besides, there was some chance of the props giving out, and the trap springing upon the legs, arms and bodies projecting from beneath.  Mike, an old soldier who officiated as cook; Martin, a sailor just from the whaling grounds of the Northwest Coast; Charley, a giant from the Low Countries, and Patrick, the other hand seemed to pay no attention to the hard bed, the cold wind, the noisy waves, or to the doubtful props.  A sprightly young clerk of the company, fresh from the counter, though swollen and tormented by the poison of the sand-flies, took the matter like a veteran, and slept like an opium-eater.

About noon the next day we passed the “Grand Marais,” a Bay 40 miles from White-Fish Point, with six feet water on the bar, and a fine harbour.

Two men had left St. Marie’s the day before we did, in a small, but neat and clinker-built boat, with two masts and a wide keel.  They were wholly unacquainted with the difficulties that lay before them; yet one of them, by the name of Axtel, had been exposed in the same boat 48 hours to the fury of a Lake Michigan storm, and therefore felt a confidence in fate.  neither of them had been on Lake Superiour, and therefore knew little of its harbours, rocks, and storms.  Their supplies were salt pork and bread, their furniture a camp-kettle.

Passing Grand Marais, before a smart breeze, we saw their fire in the harbour, and shortly their sail, coming up astern.  Here the low, regular, dear shore of sand, suddenly changed to a lofty wall of the same material, rising from the water’s edge, as steep as it will lie, to the height of 400 feet.  For 20 miles back, there had been seen near the water’s edge a stratum of pebbles, inclined, with the sandy stratum above it, to the eastward.  Now the strata of sand rest on a bed of clay, with the same inclination, but only a few feet in the mile.  The Grand Sable struck us with the more force, because of the sudden transition, from a low, uninteresting shore, to a bold, lofty, regular scarp, four times the height of the tallest trees.  But there were upon this Sable no trees or other vegetation, either on the face towards the lake, which was nearly perpendicular, or upon the summit – all was one black pile of sand; yet so clear, so regularly stratified, and so beautifully variegated, by colours, white and red, that the prospect was not deary, but rather sublime.  Imagine a straight wall of pure sand, four miles long, and four hundred feet high; the base lashed by a rough sea, its top enveloped in a heavy mist, through which rounded hillocks of white wind-blown drift occasionally rise, as the eye reaches, mile after mile, over the country behind.  To me, this sight was more grand and curious than the Pictured Rocks.  Whence came this mass of sand?  Its upper portion has apparently been moved about by winds; its lower portions appear to be too solid to be thus moved.  Was it not in remote ages, like the low sands we have passed, but extending much further into the lake.  A prevailing north wind, with sufficient force to move the sand at the surface, would overcome vegetation, and, like the current of a river, transport the particles incessantly in one direction.  By this means the sand would pile higher and higher, and the lake always encroaching at the foot, would increase the height of the bluff shore.

The “Sable” overlies, on the west, a variegated sand rock, coarse grained, and easily broken, pitching slightly to the eastward.  This is the first rock west of White-Fish Point.  The stratification is imperfect, the colour, an irregular mixture of grey and red.

Turning one of the rocky points west of the “Grand Sable,” a stiff gale from the west put an end to further progress, and gave warning of a storm.  The only expedient in such an emergency, is, to beach the boat, and draw her out of the reach of the waves.  It is an operation not always agreeable; because, while loaded, she cannot be run upon dry ground; and, to be unloaded, the goods must be taken through the water to the shore.  On this occasion the wetting process had been gone through with, two hours before, during a heavy fall of rain.

Our baggage was scarcely safe on land when the wind blew furiously, and our two friends in the sail-boat appeared, endeavouring to make the shore, as the sea had risen so much, that a landing was at this moment not only uncomfortable, but a little hazardous.

As the storm increased, our fires began to burn brightly.  Near the boats, was a little dell, sheltered by a low ridge of sand, where our tents were pitched, and all made dry and comfortable, while the gale heightened into a tempest.

On the next day, progress was impracticable, and being well provided, we determined to give an entertainment.  our friends were invited at 1, P.M.  They had bean soup, boiled ham, tea and coffee, bread, and pickles.  The quantity consumed, probably exceeded that of ordinary dinners, as much as it does at the annual meals of the Aldermen of New York, and London.  As to style, there were tin cups and pewter platters, knives and spoons.  For tables, there were the knees of the guests and a spare box; forseats, camp stools and bundles.  The entertainment continued with great glee about two hours, and passed off with as much sociability and mirth as though it had been given at the Astor.

After the first hour had been spent in the enjoyment of this cheer, our guests began to refuse dishes, by way of politeness; but the ex-Indian agent put all such hesitation aside, by relating what he had done and seen in the Indian country.  There was one example of an Indian eating half a bushel of wild rice at a meal.  Another, of a half-breed, who was sent out to bring in a deer that had been killed some miles from the post.  The half-breed lost his way, and slept in the woods one night.  The next day, in the afternoon, he came in without the deer.  He was asked where he had left it.  “Ugh ! got him – do you s’pose a man is to starve.”

One thing is certain – in this high latitude, with its pure and healthy climate, where the enervating effects of heat upon digestion are unknown, men may eat with impunity what would be fatal to them at the south.

In commemoration of the feast, a little trout brook, which empties there, was named “Pickle Creek,” and the names of the party, neatly carved on a neighbouring birch.

William Smith vs. Earl of Selkirk
False Imprisonment

One of the our guests is the son of a former sheriff in Canada, who made the journey from St. Marie’s to Fort William, by land, in the winter of 1816.  The object of this trip, through a region so rough and forbidding, in the severity of the cold season, was the execution of a warrant upon Lord Selkirk, then in possession of that post.  Fort William is situated about the middle of the north shore, nearly opposite the east end of Isle Royal.  The warrant was issued from the King’s Bench, and had reference to some of those acts of violence that occurred between the “Hudson’s Bay Company” and the “Northwest Company.”  The sheriff, whose name was [Smith], at last reached the fort, with ten men.  Selkirk professed to hold, and to fight, under the ancient chartered rights of his ancestors; and when Smith presented his authority for the arrest, Selkirk fell back on his charter.  Smith offered the authority of the King’s Bench; Selkirk claimed to be outside of all civil jurisdiction, and replied: “If you do not believe in my charter, here is my authority,” pointing to about 50 men, who were ready to do battle in such emergencies.  He continued: “Instead of my being your prisoner, you are mine.  I will treat you and your men well, yet you must take quarters in the block-house till I leave here.”

Accordingly, the sheriff was obliged to remain in custody about five months, until the opening of the season.

The timber about Pickle Creek is black and white birch, a few stunted white maples, white and yellow pine, mountain ash, spruce, balsam of fir, balsam of spruce, white cedar, and hemlock; none of it large enough to be valuable.

Grand Island National Recreation Area

The next morning at 4, with a fair wind, we were on the water, having Grand Island in sight, at daybreak.  This island is high and bold, like the Pictured Rocks, which lie on the mainland opposite.  It bears sugar maple in profusion, and has one family (that of Mr. Williams) residing upon it; he is a thrifty farmer and trader.  The variegated sandstone, as well as I could determine, here plunges to the west, and passes under the strata which compose the Pictured Rocks.  The lamented Dr. Houghton regarded the red or variegated sandstone of Lake Superiour, as older than the “old red sandstone.”  The Pictured Rock stratum he considered the equivalent of the “Pottsdam sandstone” of the New York Reports.  This rock comes to the shore, about twenty miles in length, and has a thickness of at least five hundred feet.  Grand Island is an outlier on the north.

The following is a section from the water’s edge upward, taken by the eye, at the highest point, which, according to Captain Bayfield, is 300 feet.

whittlesey geological section pictured rocks

It will now be readily seen, how the perpendicular faces of rock are caused, which have given this passage such a frightful aspect.  Vertical walls of smooth, gray rock, 200 to 300 feet high, passing to unknown depths beneath the surface; in places worn into large caverns, in others, coloured in fantastic, yet grim figures, half real and half imaginary, yellow, green, and black; shapes neither animal, nor in the likeness of any thing else that is natural, but so near the natural, as to give rise to the idea of monsters, griffins, and genii.  Such are the Pictured Rocks, before which the Indian thinks of his Manitou, and the Frenchman crosses himself with profound reverence.

The soft conglomerate (No. 1) yields to the incessant wear of the wave, which, rolling from deep water, strikes with great power.  When the undermining process has extended a few yards, the hard stratum next above falls, and with it the superincumbent mass.  Much of this dissolves away in time, leaving the fragments of No. 2 visible, in great blocks, at various depths beneath the surface.  The colours are furnished by the dripping solutions of iron, in the state of oxyde, carbonate, and sulphate; by moss growing upon the face of the rocks, and probably by the green carbonate of copper.  The niches, caves, and angles, follow naturally from a rock of different degrees of hardness, acted upon by the same disintegrating force.  At the mouth of a creek, where the trail from “Bay De Noquet,” (called Bodenock,) on Lake Michigan, strikes this lake, there is a hard silicious slate, approaching to flint, dark in colour, and imperfectly stratified.  This bed, which appears to be limited, lies low, near the water.

Passing these dreaded rocks, the principal harbour of Grand Island, and the farm of Mr. Williams, come in view.  For refuge in bad weather, this island must, in future time, be of great advantage to vessels.  It has several large and deep harbours, and of itself forms a good lee, in almost all weather.  On the mainland, opposite Mr. William’s, is a solitary cabin, the agency of the American Fur Company.

Between Grand Island, on the west, and the shore at Train River Point, there are two low islands, that appear to be formed of the red sandstone.  At the point, this rock forms the shore, and has a rapid dip to the eastward, say 150 feet in the mile; evidently running under the Pictured Rocks, and therefore an older formation.  Here it enclosed occasional pebbles of quartz, agates, and fine-grained sandstone.

The wind, which had been fair all day, on turning the point came strong ahead, against which we had hard pulling about five miles, to the mouth of Train river.  our craft proved to be a fast sailer, easily beating the little clinker of our friends, before the wind; but those dauntless fellows did not rest, until, at the end of the day, they drew her into the same harbour with us.  Train river, like many others, has deep water inside, but only a few inches at the entrance.  Wherever we set foot on shore, the remains of previous travellers were seen.  Here, the poles of many Indian lodges were standing, and the bones of a bear lay around, indicative of a feast.  There were, also, dwarf cherries and whortleberries.

"Geological Map of the District Between Keweenaw Bay and Chocolate River, Lake Superior, Michigan." By John Wells Foster, circa 1849-1854. ~ Huntington Digital Library

“Geological Map of the District Between Keweenaw Bay and Chocolate River, Lake Superior, Michigan.” By John Wells Foster, circa 1849-1854.
~ Huntington Digital Library

Passing out of the bay, in the morning, a range of mountains were visible, the ends presenting themselves near at hand, and the principal range extending westward, toward Chocolate river.  From the outline, I conjecture that they are composed of primitive rocks.  At the shore, the strata are still the variegated sandstone, very much tilted with thin beds of shale interstratified; apparent dip, to the northward.  Making a long traverse from Train River Bay, at 5, P.M., we entered a magnificient harbour, between projecting points of granite rocks; and coasting along inside some islands, soon saw that there was a very safe and spacious shelter for shipping still further inland, accessible in any wind, with deep and quiet water inside.  This bay is sometimes called Presque Isle.  It commences about two miles north of the mouth of “Riviere des Morts,” six or seven miles northwest of Chocolate river, and extends to Granite Point.

Mr. Dorr being quite ill, our party remained a day.  The boat anchored in a quiet nook of the harbour.  Granite rocks were projecting on all sides, through the red sandstone, scorched and whitened at the points of contact.  In the rear, were seen rugged mountains, covered with evergreens.  This was regarded as the commencement of the copper region.  Accordingly, myself and Martin sallied forth in the morning, to spy out the mineral wealth of the spot.  On the south point of the bay, to our great satisfaction, we discovered a piece of green carbonate, about the size of a pea, in the hard, green stone trap; but a little further on, found, also, evidences of prior occupation, in a log cabin covered with birch bark, a small patch of chopped land, and a pen made of poles, which enclosed two or three hills of potatoes, and some stalks of green peas.  Pursuing our way along the shore, to Dead Men’s river, we found a permanent fishing establishment, and two comfortable houses, now deserted and locked up.

The country adjacent, for two or three miles, is low and swampy, with sand ridges between the swales; and at the mouth of the river, heaps of granite rocks.  It was soon evident that the surveyors had been this way, and that very recently.  At the south point of the bay, was a stake, on the dividing line between sections Nos. 1 and 2, town 48 north, range 25 west; showing that we were one town, or six miles north of St. Mary’s, and 25 towns, or 150 miles west.

Bayfield, Wisconsin, was named in honor of Admiral Henry Wolsey Bayfield surveyed Lake Superior between 1823-1825. His map of Chequamegon Bay is available online here. Photograph from Dictionary of Canadian Biography.

Bayfield, Wisconsin, was named in honor of Admiral Henry Wolsey Bayfield, who surveyed Lake Superior between 1823-1825. His map of Chequamegon Bay is available online here. Photograph from Dictionary of Canadian Biography.

In making the traverse from Train River Bay, to Presque Isle Bay, a singular object was visible to the right, long before the shore opposite to it came in sight.  Under the effect of refraction, it rose and fell, dilated and contracted, changing continually from a tall spire to a flat belt of land.  By the glass, it was seen to be almost destitute of trees, and Mr. Bushnell began to regard it as one of the peaks of Point Kewena.  There is no map of this lake, upon which a navigator can rely, except a British one, from the survey of Capt. Bayfield, (Royal Navy,) made about 20 years ago.  We had what purported to be a copy, but soon found that it was not a true one.  We could neither recognise from it, the harbour, the points, nor the rivers, where we were.  At Chocolate river the coast, from a westerly course, makes almost a right angle to the northward; but at that time, whether we were at Chocolate, or Dead Men’s river, we could not tell.

Stannard Rock was documented by either Benjamin A Stannard or his brother Charles C Stannard.

The isolated object seen in the north proved to be the “Granite Rock,” situated about 10 miles from the shore, 50 to 80 feet in height, and a few acres in extent.  Along this shore, huge masses of this recent granite rise through the water, and may be seen in its clear depths.  From the section stake just mentioned the Granite Rock bears north, 10 or 12 miles distant.  It must not be confounded with “Standard’s Rock,” which is in the track of vessels from Point Kewena to St. Mary’s, 30 miles from land.  That these granite rocks are more recent than the sedimentary sandstone which rests upon them, is evident from observation.  The metamorphic rocks have protruded through the sandstone, distorting and breaking up the strata.  If the red, or variegated sandstone, had been deposited after the upheaval, this disturbance would not have been visible, nor would there have been seen the discolouration and semi-vitrification at the junction, or contact of the two formations.

The mountainous country, which here comes quite to the lake, extends in east and west ranges, beyond the sources of the Huron river and Kewena Bay, and appears to have been formed by the same volcanic effort.  The spacious and beautiful harbour where we lay, is formed by four granitic islands, three of them now connected with the shore by sand-bars, forming as many “Presque Isles.”

Our next day’s sail ended at a small creek, represented on the map as the St. John’s river, but by the voyageurs called Cypress river, from the adjacent forest of cypress timber, as it is called.  This tree is an evergreen, with rough bark, resembling a tamarack, but the leaves are more like the hemlock.  At 15 miles from Presque Isle Harbour, the shore made again to the westward, the sandstone bluff being more elevated and perpendicular; its strata somewhat rolling, but the general dip appeared to be westward.  The knobs of Point Kewena were now distinctly in sight, from 40 to 50 miles distant, in the north.  Mr. Door, being quite sick with a bilious fever, we determined to make a long traverse on the next day, across the bay, to Inverse Island, and thence, with all dispatch, to Copper Harbour.  But after putting out, in the face of a stiff breeze, early in the day, we found it impossible to weather the next point, and returned to camp.  The river called the St. John’s by us, is known to the French as the “Chien-Jaun,” or Yellow Dog river, corrupted, in the first instance, to “Shannejone,” and Thence to St. John.  It is, on the map, laid down as about 30 miles long.  In this country the creek is never used, but the French term “riviere,” is applied to all its streams, which is Anglicised river.  Being now wind-bound for the day, I took our trusty and intelligent whaler, Martin, who had already shown himself a good woodsman, as well as a first-rate sialor, and followed the creek into the interiour.  At the end of two miles of still, deep water, our canoe was obstructed by flood-wood, and at three-fourths of a mile further, by a fall of 8 or 10 feet, over sand rock.  Above the fall was a beautiful lake, overlooked by granitic mountains on the west, with an opening at the south.  This led us to a second lake, and this to a third – strictly speaking, only branches of the same water – in all, about four miles long.  On the wast and south were gentle ridges, sustaining the first valuable pines we had seen; on the west, lofty hills.  In the low grounds, at the water level, were thousands of large white cedars, forming a perfect abattis, or barrier, against our progress.  There were pheasants and ducks in abundance – red squirrels, and whortleberries.  On the whole, there was present so much of the New England scenery and productions, that I have written on my sketch of these ponds the name of “New England Lakes.”  This is the termination of our 30 mile river.

On the succeeding day, the wind being still adverse to a direct passage to Copper Harbour, we thought only of proceeding along the coast, to the westward, and reached the mouth of Huron river, in a few hours.  The health of our invalid having improved, we hauled the boat over the sand-bar, at the mouth of this river, and finding deep and wide water, ascended about two miles, and encamped.  The reports of other exploring parties, were highly favourable to the Huron region, as a mineral location; but after expending two days of rainy weather, in the mountains between the Little and the Big Huron, and finding the signs of valuable copper not promising, we set forward for the “Anse.”

During our stay, we had made an excursion, by water, into a bay about 15 miles deep, called after the adjacent islands and river, Huron Bay.  The shores are low, and the extremity, or head, swampy, and filled with a labyrinth of wet islands, covered with white cedar.  On the south, the Huron range overlooks the bay, at a height of 500 to 600 feet.  This inlet is in the form of a pocket, gathered at the middle; and if necessary, though shallow, would accommodate a great number of vessels.  When we were fairly at the bottom of the pocket, the wind came square in, and preventing our departure that night, we were under the necessity of encamping, without blankets, in a lodge lately occupied by the surveyors.  A lodge is a temporary habitation, erected by those who have no tents, to be occupied for the night, or, for some days if the weather is bad.  It is made of evergreen boughs, pine, hemlock, or balsam, cut short.  The frame-work consists of two crotches, and a pole between them.  On the side towards the wind poles are laid, like rafters, one end on the ground, the other on the cross-pole, in the crotches.  On these the small brush is laid, like shingles, beginning at the ground, and each course overlapping the last.  The ends are stopped in the same way, and the fire built in front.  They serve to keep off the dew, snow, and wind, but are of little avail in heavy rains.

The promontory between Huron Bay and Kewena Bay is called “Point Obang,” a corruption of “Point Abaye.”  It is a low, flat tract of land, which bears some sugar maple, and has a good soil, capable of cultivation.  The range line between ranges 29 and 30 west, comes to the lake a short distance west of the mouth of Huron river.  The northwest corner of Section 18, T. 52 No., R. 29 W., is about a mile from the shore – showing a progress to the westward of St. Marie’s of 29 towns, and to the northward five towns.

About six miles from the shore is a collection of granitic islands, called the Huron Islands, inhabited by rabbits in great numbers.  Soon after casting loose from the Islands, our fitful breeze again settled into the west, where she tumbled and pitched all night and all the next day, our faithful whaler sleeping on board.  In the evening, a calm enabled us to work with oars, and to reach the mission at the “Anse” about daybreak.

Father René Ménard

This term, is the French for a small bay, and is used to designate the place, as well as the head or extremity of Kewena Bay.  Here the Abbe Mésnard preached to the Sioux, in 1660, and impelled by the missionary spirit, proceeded towards “Chegoimegon,” the modern La Pointe.  He is said to have perished in the wilds beyond the Ontonagon, for he was seen no more.

Dr. Lathrop Johnson was the Government carpenter for the Indian sub-Agency located here.
Daniel D. Brockway was the Government blacksmith for the Indian sub-Agency locaed here.

There is yet a Catholic mission on the north side of the bay, which, with its collection of log cabins, and chapel, presents at a distance, a very pretty view.  On the south side is the Fur Company’s agency, now comparatively desolate, and the Methodist mission for the Chippeways.  Dr. Johnson, the carpenter, and Mr. Brockway, the blacksmith and farmer, of this mission, showed our party great kindness, which is more to be considered, when it is known that the spirit of copper speculation had attracted many people to the country, all of whom received the good offices of the establishment.

The mission farm produces good grass, very heavy crops of potatoes and turnips, good oats, barley, and rye.  They are now trying the wheat crop, with little doubt of success.

Those who have spent the winter here, do not complain of its severity, although snow lies from one to four feet deep, from December till May.  The bay furnishes inexhaustible supplies of white fish, that are taken almost the entire year.  Every night, except Sunday, the water is dotted with the canoes of the squaws and Indians, planting their gill nets; and again, at daylight in the morning, these female fishermen are seen overhauling the net for their morning meal.  The two missions appear to divide the band about equally.  At this moment, the principal portion of both flocks are absent at La Pointe, receiving their annuities, each under the watchful care of their respective pastors.

From the Anse to the mouth of the Ontanagon, direct by land, is a very practicable route for a road, the distance about 45 miles.  It is from this place, also, that the winter trail to Green Bay leads off to the southward, and which must always be the approach from the States by land.  To reach the Ontanagon by water, the distance is about 160 miles, following the shore around Point Kewena.  But about 12 miles from the Catholic mission there is a river, called the Portage river, that communicates with the Portage Lakes, which extend across the base of Point Kewena, to within one mile and a half of the northern shore.  For bark canoes and light craft this portage is practicable, and usually made.  About 60 miles of navigation is thus avoided.

Having feasted a couple of days upon the good things of the Anse, to wit: potatoes, turnips, sweet milk, and fresh bread, we departed for Copper Harbour, and arrived there in ten days.  The sand rock of the south shore of Kewena Bay continued around on the northern side to “Bay de Gris.”  A little beyond this, a different rock made its appearance, but probably the geological equivalent of the red and variegated sand rock.  it is a very coarse, but stratified conglomerate, with pebbles of gate, quartz trap, amygdaloid trap, red granite, &c., many of them larger than a man could lift.  It is raised in uplifts, corresponding with the subordinate trap, and contains fissures like the trap, which are filled with spar.  The general course of the uplifts is southwest by west, and the course of the fissures or veins, both of the trap and conglomerate, is nearly at right angles to the face of the uplifts.  It is in these veins that the native copper and its ores are found.

The line of greatest elevation runs near the middle of the point, forming an anticlinal axis, from which the rocks pitch each way, at various angles, from 20 to 60 deg.  But it must not be supposed that the descent is regular from the summit towards the lake.  In the volcanic convulsions that generated and raised the trap rocks, they were greatly broken and fractured; and consequently, the overlying rocks, the conglomerate and sandstones, were dislocated in the same way.  They now lie in the form of vast steps; the broken faces of the conglomerate and trap nearly perpendicular, and the slopes at the angles above stated.  The veins of the stratified and the unstratified rocks appear to be of the same age, to have been formed by the same cause, after the enclosing rocks had taken the form and position they now have.  Upon the manner of the formation of these veins there are various conjectures, which I have not space to notice.  When they pass from the conglomerate to the harder and more compact trap rock, they are said to diminish in width, sand the material of the vein changes.  They carry, in general, beautiful calcareous spar, and also other substances besides copper, such as quartz and barytes.

Painting of Douglass Houghton by Robert Thom. Houghton first explored the south shore of Lake Superior in 1840. Houghton died on Lake Superior during a storm on October 13, 1845. The city of Houghton on Chequamegon Bay was named in his honor.

Painting of Douglass Houghton by Robert Thom. Houghton first explored the south shore of Lake Superior in 1840. Houghton died on Lake Superior during a storm on October 13, 1845. Chequamegon Bay’s City of Houghton was named in his honor, and is now known as Houghton Falls State Natural Area.

From the Manitou Islands, at the extremity of Point Kewena, to the Portage Lakes, the most elevated mountain range, or rather succession of knobs, is nearer to the north than the south shore, and from 100 to 800 feet in height.  It is a very rough region to explore, with precipitous rocks, thick cedar swamps, and tangled evergreens, in every part.  But, Dr. Hougton, with five companies of explorers and surveyors, has subdivided all the land east of the Portage Lakes into sections, during the past summer, except one fractional township.  The labour and exposure attending this work cannot be understood by any except those who have been upon the ground, and seen its mountains and swamps.  This survey was undertaken to demonstrate the practicability and value of a favourite system of Dr. Houghton’s.  He had, as geologist of the State of Michigan, spent several years in this desert region, and knew its mineral worth.  He felt, as every exploring geologist feels, the necessity of exact topographical and lineal surveys, in order to give his reports that character of perfect accuracy of which the science is capable.  in truth, a large portion of the results of mineral explorations is geographical, topographical, and mathematical matter.  The thickness, extent, and dip of rocks, when found, constitute a perfect measurement of the country.  Dr. Houghton contracted with the Government to make the lineal survey of this region, and at the same time a geological one; and labouring upon it as the great undertaking of his life, had, as I have remarked, nearly completed the most difficult portion – that of Point Kewena.  His melancholy fate is well known.

Detail of a Survey of Location No. 4 for the Pittsburgh & Boston Copper Harbor Mining Co. (Image digitized by the Detroit Public Library Burton Historical Collection for The Cliff Mine Archeology Project Blog).

Detail of Copper Harbor and Fort Wilkins from “Survey of Location No. 4 for the Pittsburgh & Boston Copper Harbor Mining Co.” Image digitized by the Detroit Public Library Burton Historical Collection for The Cliff Mine Archeology Project Blog.

By these surveys, Fort Wilkins and Copper Harbour are situated near the southwest corner of town 59 north, range 28 west, or 12 towns north, and 28 towns west of St. Mary’s.

The returns of the Government surveys of this region will not show any of the coasts and water-courses, in connexion with towns and section lines, but will give the elevation and depression – what public surveys hitherto have not – of the country, taken at every change, by the barometer. They will, further, exhibit the exact limit and character of the mineral region.  Such a system, introduced into all the public surveys, with modifications suitable to the agricultural districts, such as the analysis of soils, collection of plants and marls, would be of immense advantage to the settler, and honourable to the nation.

The maps and papers of the mineral agency at Porter’s Island, in Copper Harbour, showed about 500 locations, of one mile square, each.  The War Department has, by usage, the control of the mineral lands of the United States.  It is doubtful whether there is any law that covers the case of the copper mines of Lake Superiour.  The President has, however, reposed the power of leasing these and other mineral lands in the War Department, which confides their management to the Bureau of Ordnance, which acts by local agents.  The Secretary of War, or the local agents, grant permits of search and location, and the location being made, a lease is granted to the locator.  in this lease, there are covenants to render the Government six per cent. of the mineral raised, for three years, and after that time, the Government have power to require ten per cent. for the next six years.

At first, the permits including three miles square, or nine square miles; but were, early last spring, reduced to one square mile, and given upon every application, without fees.  About 70 permits were now laid in the neighbourhood of Dead Men’s river, and 8 or 10 about the mouth of Huron river.  The Point Kewena, proper, that is to say, that portion east of the Portage Lakes, was mostly covered, and various other large tracts on the waters of Elm river, the Ontonagon, Iron river, and even on the Brulé, beyond La Pointe.

In order, therefore, to locate our permits, it became necessary to go westward, and explore some of the vacant regions beyond the Portage Lakes.  We therefore left Copper Harbour, touching at Agate Harbour, Eagle Harbour, and Eagle river, and proceeded to the mouth of Salmon Trout river, in township 55 north, range 35 west.

Mr. Bushnell, and myself, and two men, here took to the woods, and striking the range line between 34 and 35, followed it south, to the southeast corner of township 53 north, range 35 west, being about 17 miles interiour.  To our surprise, instead of finding a rugged mineral region, we had passed through a handsome rolling country, tolerably well watered, with a good loamy soil, producing an abundance of sugar maple.  Along the margin of the lake, owing probably to the harsh and moist winds from the water, nothing bu birch, balsam, pine, hemlock, spruce, and white cedar, is seen; but to the distance of two to five miles, interiour, the forest growth changes entirely.  There is an occasional white pine, with a lofty, straight, and majestic trunk, some scattering elms, linns, and black oaks, but the reigning tree is the sugar maple.

On the left, lay the valley of the Portage Lakes and of Sturgeon river, which we had just crossed.  Turning westward, we soon encountered one of those eye-sores to the explorer and surveyor, a cedar swamp, in which a progress of a mile an hour is considered rapid travelling.  The white cedar lives to a great age before it beings to decline.  It finally rots at the root, and is blown down by the northern tempest.  But this is by no means its end; its prostrate trunk sends up live branches, that draw sustenance through the roots of the parent, of new prongs went by itself below, among the buried trunks of preceding centuries.  In after ages, when it has at length matured, and, weakened by time, has yielded to the winds, another sprout from its side keeps the family stock in perpetual being.  Beneath the accumulated bodies of these trees, some dead and some living, the water, in which they delight, stands the year through, flowing gradually towards some stream of the vicinity.  What is remarkable, the water of these swamps, so little and slow is the decay of the cedar tree, is clear, pure and cool.

I hope I have been able to convey to the reader, a just idea of a white cedar swamp, because without a correct conception of this, he will never be able to realize the great difficulty of travelling in this new country. After he has penetrated one of them forty rods, the view is equally extensive in every direction, whether it is only forty rods to the other side, or whether it is two miles.  In addition to the network of logs, and the thicket of leaves that never fall, it is necessary to thin of numberless dry, sharp, and stiff prongs, the imperishable arms and limbs of dead and fallen trees.  It is then to be remembered that every man carries more or less of a load upon his back; his blanket, his tin cup, probably some implement, a hatchet, or a hammer, with specimens, and a few pounds of provisions.

The second night found us advanced about one mile into a noble cedar swamp.  Climbing a tree extended somewhat the range of the eye, but it met only the sombre and half naked trunks of the white cedar, in every direction.  A camp-bed was formed beneath a tall and beautiful larch, or tamarack, and a fire made at its root.  The bed was made made as usual of branches, kept out of the water in this instance by brush and poles.  This white cedar has the merit of burning readily, as well as of durability, and made to-night a bright fire, flaming gaily upwards against the straight and stately larch.  When had such an illumination shone there before?  The owl gave utterance to his surprise in hideous screams, and hooted for his mate.  The larch, as it swayed to and fro in the night breeze, seemed to creek and groan because of the fire, which was scorching its sinews and boiling its life-blood in its veins.  No doubt, before many seasons pass by, he will sicken and die, and from a tall prince, overlooking the humble cedars, will come heavily down, perhaps in the stillness of night, and lay his body along side of theirs.

In the morning, after passing a cold and comfortless night, a few minutes’ travel cleared the swamp, and rising some very high land, we found the stratified sandstone again, and inclined towards the lake.

At the southeast corner of township 53 north, range 36 west, the trap ranges again made their appearance, from whose summits the mountains of the Huron river were visible, in the south, beyond the Anse.

John Harris Kinzie ~ Wikipedia.org

John Harris Kinzie
~ Wikipedia.org

We were now on the head waters of Elm river, on ground located for many miles around.  Most of them are what are called office locations, made without visiting the spot, and in consequence of some locations made by Mr. Kenzie, of Chicago, from actual observation, of which favourable reports were in circulation.

That night we should have met two of our men at a rendezvous with supplies; but neither party had sought the right spot, so indefinite were the descriptions given us of localities.  As it was some miles from the coast to the mineral ranges, the boat passed slowly along the shore, sending out provisions, from time to time, to the exploring party.  It was not then known how far west the township lines were surveyed, consequently the points of meeting were fixed at the forks of some stream, or some old camp, and in finding these many errours might be committed.  In this case a day was consumed in uniting the two parties, which would not have been of so much consequence, had not the stock of eatables began to fail.  But most of the disagreeable effects of a short allowance were avoided by the capture of a porcupine, of which we made, by long boiling in the camp-kettle, very palatable soup.

On the 20th of September, at a distance of 20 miles from the coast, there were a few flakes of snow, succeeding a cold rain.  On the 21st and 22d, rain.  The ground passed over during this week, is drained by the Salmon Trout river, (a creek,) Elm river, Misery river, Sturgeon, and Flint Steel rivers.  Every member of the party was delighted with its soil, its beautiful and heavy timber, and the unsurpassed purity, plenty, and coldness of its waters.  We passed several small clear lakes, the sources of many streams.  These streams are in general but few miles in length, enlarging very fast as you follow them downward from the head, alive with the famous speckled trout, rapid in their descent, and so uniform in the flow of water, that water power is every where abundant.  Many a time did Patrick and Charley select their future farms, on the border of some quiet pool, from which a tumbling brook issued, bearing its faithful tribute into the reservoir of the Father of Lakes.

The cedar swamps, so hateful to the explorer, will be necessary to the farmer for his supply of rails; the tall, round pines, scattered here and there among the sugar trees, now so green and majestic, will supply him with lumber; the straight and beautiful balsam, with timber.

Hitherto, the mineral trap rocks that rise occasionally through the sandstone stratum, do not greatly interfere with the use of the land for tillage.  This rock, when fully disintegrated, gives a light soil that produces well.  In this vicinity, the trap rises suddenly out of the plain land, sometimes with one perpendicular face and one gentle slope; sometimes like an island with a bluff all around, and flat, rich land on the top; and sometimes in irregular peaks, standing among the timber like cones and pyramids.  At the sources of Flint Steel river  we saw, interspersed with protruding summits of trap, peaks of conglomerate shooting up from flat land, to the height of 50, 70, and 100 feet.

Pursuing a southwesterly course, about noon, on the 26th, we entered the ravines that lead into the Ontanagon.  From Elm river to the Ontanagon, the sand rock is covered from 10 to 400 feet in depth, with a stratified deposite of red clay and sand, very fine.  It is commonly called clay, but contains more silex than alumine, though tit is so minutely divided as to have the appearance of clay.  I saw nowhere true clay beds, but it is possible some of this deposite will harden in the fire, so as to make bricks.

This great sand-bed is easily washed out by running water.  From the Falls, the Ontanagon has hollowed out for itself a channel 300 to 400 feet deep, and from a half a mile to two miles wide.  The lateral gullies are very numerous, deep, and steep.  Every permanent rill, operating for ages, has excavated a narrow trough, the bottom of which descends towards the river, in the inverse proportion to its length, and the sides remain as nearly a perpendicular as the earth will lie.  The low grounds, not so wet as to cause cypress and cedar swamps, are everywhere inclined to produce hemlock and balsam.  It is the same in the prairies; cold, moisture, and a confined atmosphere, causing the growth of evergreens, and also of cedars.

It will be easy to judge of the facilities of travelling in the region of the gullies.  To cross them, rising one slippery face and sliding down the next, is very exhausting to men loaded with packs.  To follow down one of the ravines, so narrow, deep, and shaded, as almost to exclude the sun at noon, is much like the change “from the frying pan into the fire.”  The timber of the sides has fallen inward, into and across the contracted pathway of the rivulet, so thick, and so much entangled, that the mind is in a constant state of exercise, determining whether it is easier to crawl under, or climb over the next log.

In such regions, as you approach the common discharge of all these ravines, as a creek, a lake, or, as in this case, a river, the number of lateral gullies diminish, and it is sometimes preferable to take the crest of the gulf, and follow it towards the mouth.  We did so; and coming along a narrow backbone, scarcely wide enough for two to walk abreast, suddenly came to its termination, with the river far below us.  It was noon of a lovely day, such as are called the Indian summer.  In the distance, to the north 12 or 15 miles, a thick haze covered the lake; the sides and bottom of the valley of the Ontonagon, were brilliant in the mellow sunlight, mottled with yellow and green; the golden tops of the sugar tree mingled with the dark summits of the pine and the balsam.  The rough gorges that enter the valley on both sides, were now concealed by the dense foliage of the trees, partly gorgeous, and partly sombre, made yet richer by the contrast, so that the surface of the wood, as seen from our elevation, in fact from the waving top of a trim balsam which I had ascended, lay like a beautifully worked and colored carpet, ready for our feet.

On this promontory, jutting into the valley, we kindled a fire in the dry and hollow trunk of a hemlock, as a beacon to our companions, who were to be at the foot of the rapids with the boat.

On the left or inland side, the valley at some miles distant is seen to divide, corresponding with the two branches of the river. In this direction are elevated peaks, several hundred feet higher than our position, but partly hid in the mist of the atmosphere. We had now spent as much time in scene gazing as was profitable, and taking up our packs, tumbled down the bluff to the river. There stood the tents, and there lay the boat, with our comrades lounging about in the sun. The meeting brought forth three hearty shouts all around, and such congratulations of genuine good will, as none but woodsmen and sailors know.

We were now at the foot of the rapids, one mile north of the correction base, which is also the line between towns 50 and 51 north, and one mile east of the range line between ranges 39 and 40 west.

Could this have been Patrick Sullivan, who later lived in La Pointe?

On the next day, after washing, drying, and mending, some of the most needed garments, Patrick, our faithful Irishman, and myself, crossed the river, and went west along the correction line. This course carried us constantly nearer the lake, because the direction of the shore is south of west. The timber was, as might have been expected, on approaching the lake, more hemlock, birch, and balsam; but the soil appeared as good as that we had passed over from Salmon Trout river, in range 35 west. In range 41 west, we turned to the left, and soon found that no surveys had been made south of the correction line. The same day a rain set in, that lasted, with little intermission, four days and five nights. In the trap region, the magnetic needle is subject to great fluctuations. When the sky is overcast, as it was in this case, from morning to night, the sun, the principal guide, is of course lost. If the traveller loses his confidence in the compass, that instrument is the same as lost, and he is compelled to rely upon judgement, or rather the woodsman’s instinct. This judgement is, sometimes, a very uncertain reliance. The streams and ridges of land are so irregular that little information can be drawn from them. There is a great difference in persons, in the accuracy of their calculations, guided by the “make of the country,” as its general topography is called. In this region, none but the oldest hunters and trappers feel safe, when the compass begins to play false, and the sun withdraws himself.  If the consumption of provisions could cease for the time, it would always be safer and wiser to stop and encamp until clear weather comes; but the appetite does not seem to know that circumstances alter cases. With the mind in a state of perplexity, the fatigue of travelling is greater than usual, and excessive fatigue, in turn weakens, not only the power of exertion, but of resolution, also. The wanderer is finally overtaken with an indescribable sensation—one that must be experienced to be understood —that of lostness.  At the moment when all his faculties, instincts, and perceptions, are in full demand, he finds them all confused, irregular, and weak. When every physical power is required to carry him forward, his limbs seem to be yielding to the disorder of his mind; he is filled with an impressive sense of his inefficiency, with an indefinite idea of alarm, apprehension, and dismay; he reasons, but trusts to no conclusion: he decides upon the preponderance of reason and fact, as he supposes, and is sure to decide wrong. If he stumbles into a trail he has passed before, or even passed within a few hours, he does not recognise it; or if he should at last, and conclude to follow it, a fatal lunacy impels him to take the wrong end. His own tracks are the prints of the feet of some other man, and if the sun should at last penetrate the fogs and clouds that envelop his path, the world seems for a time to be turned end for end; the sun is out of place — perhaps it is, to his addled brain, far in the north, coursing around to the south, or in the west, moving towards the east. At length, like a dream, the delusion wears away; objects put on their natural dress; the sun takes up its usual track; streams run towards their mouths; the compass points to the northward; dejection and weakness give place to confidence and elasticity of mind.

I have twice experienced what I have here attempted to describe. It is a species of delirium. It oppresses and injures every faculty, like any other intense and overwhelming action. The greatest possible care should be taken to prevent the occasion for its return. Two men, last summer, were exploring on Elm river, and without compass or food, started for a vein a few rods from camp. They got entangled among swamps and hills, and wandered forty-eight hours in the woods, bewildered and lost. By accident, they struck the lake shore, and their senses returned. It is not prudent to be a moment without the means of striking a fire, without food for a day or two, and a plenty of clothing, or without a compass. Our man Martin, and myself, went out in the morning, from Salmon Trout river, intending to go three miles and return. He had neither coat, nor vest, nor stockings, because the weather was mild. A rain soon come on, and a thick mist; steering for the camp, we struck the creek two miles above the mouth and the camp. The ground in the vicinity of the lake has a low, evergreen bush, with a leaf like the hemlock, which lies flat on the surface, entangling the feet at every step. It was dark when we struck the creek, and began to follow it down stream. The sloughs, logs,ground hemlocks, and cedar brush, were so bad, that it would have been difficult to make much progress in daylight, and it was now pitch dark. We took to the water-course to avoid the brush and bluffs of either bank, and waded along the channel. But the waters of these streams are always cold, and Martin, though a stout fellow, and full of resolution, began to be numb with cold and wet. We took nothing to eat; our matches were wet; the gun could not be fired off. There was but one course to pursue. The stream would take us to camp, but how far distant that desirable spot lay, we could not conjecture. But the chilly water must be avoided, and the brush and logs, wet, slippery, and numberless as they were, must be surmounted. “We have crossed that log before,” says Martin. “What, are we lost?  Impossible; we have not left the stream a moment—it cannot be.” Crooked and winding as it was, it is not possible that we should travel twice over the same ground. But there was the log, to all appearance the same we had crossed half an hour before. Both of us would swear to the identity of the log—the same timber, the same size, the same splinters at the root; the bark off in the same way; and still it was more probable that two such logs should be found, than that we had passed twice over the same spot.

We crawled around, filled with the mystery—and it is not to this hour any thing else than a mystery. In about two hours my companion gave an exclamation of hope and joy. He had been up the creek the day before, shooting ducks and fishing for trout. He recognised the spot where the canoe was obstructed by flood-wood, half a mile from the tents. We now knew where there was a trail, and in a few minutes beheld the sparks of the camp-fire ascending gaily among the trees.

With fire works better secured, with more attention to clothing on the part of Martin, and to blankets by both of us, especially with ordinary prudence in regard to provisions, the discomfort and exertion, the bruises, chills, and exhaustion of this day, so injurious to the constitution, whether felt immediately or not, might have been entirely avoided. It may be thought that such vexations might be prevented by a rational foresight, and this is no doubt true ; but in practice they occur frequently to woodsmen, and they are in general as keen in the examination of chances as any class of men. Even Indians and Indian guides become bewildered, miscalculate their position, make false reckonings of distances, lose courage, and abandon themselves to despair and to tears.

It is not explicit which map Charles Whittlesey was using on his expedition.  Could it have been an unpublished draft of Douglass Houghton’s survey?

The maps for the copper region, instead of assisting the explorer, were for the interiour so erroneous—a fault worse than deficiency—that mistakes equal to a day’s travel frequently resulted from a reliance upon them.

On the office map there was noted a lake not far above the forks of the Ontanagon—on the west fork. Leaving the “correction base” at the southwest corner of town 51 N., range 40 W., we should have struck that lake in the distance of ten miles; but, instead of a lake, found ourselves involved in the marshes at the sources of the Cranberry and Iron rivers, the lake itself being about fifteen miles distant. The forks of the Ontanagon appeared from the map, and the best information within reach, to be about four miles by river above the foot of the rapids. This was made a point in our return, to which a packer was sent with pork and beans. Instead of making the rendezvous in one day’s travel, as was expected, he reports the distance at fifteen miles by river, and seven or eight in a direct line. The delay occasioned by bad weather and mistakes, amounted on our part to two days; the packer, who had at last reached the forks, after spending two nights in a cold rain, without fire, had left, and carried back his provisions. Patrick had, by mistake, taken salt pork for three men, instead of two. When we arrived at the Forks, only one meal of bread and beans remained, with a little tea and sugar; but the pork was sufficient for two days more. It was necessary to alter our route, and employ those two days in reaching the agency at the mouth of the river. This is an instance of hazard and disappointment, and it is difficult to see how it could have been avoided. With the greatest sagacity and forethought, small parties, who do not survey and mark their courses and distances, cannot avoid occasional perils.

Photograph by Ian Shackleford, 2011, of the Ontonagon Copper Boulder off display at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History. ~ Wikipedia.org

Photograph by Ian Shackleford, 2011, of the Ontonagon Copper Boulder off display at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History.
~ Wikipedia.org

The circumstances in which we were placed, did not allow of as much observation upon that interesting region, the Falls of the Ontanagon, as I desired. The greatest fall is on the west branch, and occupies a distance of at least two miles, with a descent of about eighty feet. It was at the head of this succession of cataracts, that the “Copper Rock” was found, which is now at Washington city. It lay when first discovered, on the brink of the river, in the red deposite, of which I have spoken, although mountains of trap, sandstone, and conglomerate, rise on all sides. The rock was removed from its place upon a temporary railway, constructed through the woods, about four miles, to a point on the river where it could be floated. This road crossed deep ravines, and a steep mountain 300 feet high. The rock was hauled along on a car, and up the mountain, by a capstan and ropes. Its weight is a little over 3,000 pounds.

It is now eighty years since this copper rock obtained notoriety among white men.  Mr. Alexander Henry,- an adventurous Englishman, and an agreeable writer, who entered the Indian country immediately after the peace of 1763, gives a description of the rock, which is worthy of being repeated.


“On the 19th of August, (1765,) we reached the mouth of the river Ontanagon, one of the largest on the south side of the lake. At the mouth was an Indian village, and at three leagues above, a fall, at the foot of which sturgeon were at this season so abundant, that a month’s subsistence for a regiment, could have been taken in a few hours. But I found this river chiefly remarkable for the abundance of virgin copper which is on its banks and in its neighbourhood, and of which the reputation is at present (1809) more generally spread, than it was at the time of this, my first visit. The copper presented itself to the eye in masses of various weight. The Indians showed me one of twenty pounds. They were used to manufacture this metal into spoons and bracelets for themselves. In the perfect state in which they found it, it required nothing but to be beat into shape. The ‘Pi-wa-tic,’ or Iron river, enters the lake to the westward of the Ontanagon, and here it is pretended silver was found, while the country was in the possession of the French.”—Part 1, pp. 194-5.

“On my way (1776) I encamped a second time at the mouth of the Ontanagon, and now took the opportunity of going ten miles up the river, with Indian guides. The object which 1 went most expressly to see, and to which I had the satisfaction of being led, was a mass of copper, of the weight, according to my estimate, of no less than five tons. Such was its pure and malleable state, that, with an axe, I was able to cut off a portion weighing a hundred pounds. On viewing the surrounding surface, I conjectured that the mass, at some period or other, had rolled from the side of a lofty hill which rises at its back.”—p. 203.


I quote extensively from Mr. Henry’s interesting book, because it is now out of print, and very rare. Capt. Jonathan Carver, also, travelled in the Lake Superiour and Mississippi country, in 1766, of whom,-after the manner of succeeding travellers, speaking of their predecessors, Mr. Henry says, “and he falls into other errours.” The Chippeways told Carver, that being once driven by a storm to the Isle de Maurepas, (now Michipicoten,) they had found large quantities of shining earth, “which must have been gold dust.” They put some of it into their canoes, but had not moved far from the land, when a spirit sixty feet in height strode into the water, and ordered them to bring every particle of it back to the island. This of course they did, and never ventured again to the haunted island.

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

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

Alexander Baxter partnered with Alexander Henry the Elder to mine for silver/copper ore on Lake Superior.
Henry Bostwick was the first Englishman licenced in the Great Lakes fur-trade.

In the spring of 1769, Mr. Henry, excited by this and other reports of the Indians, visited the islands, expecting to find “shining rocks and stones of rare description,” but found only a mass of rock, rising into barren mountains, with veins of spar. The Indians then insisted upon going to another island to the south, (Caribeau) as it was the true island of the “golden sands;” but the weather prevented this visit at that time. In 1770, Mr. Baxter, Mr. Bostwick, and Mr. Henry, were constituted members of a company for working mines on Lake Superiour.


“We passed the winter together at Sault de Sainte Marie, and built a barge fit for the navigation of the lake; at the same time laying the keel of a sloop of forty tons. Early in May, 1771, we departed from Point aux Pins, our shipyard, and sailed for the island of Yellow Sands, promising ourselves to make our fortunes, in defiance of the serpents. I was the first to land, carrying with me my loaded gun, resolved to meet with courage the guardians of the gold.

“A stay of three days did not enable us to find gold, or even yellow sands ; and no serpents appeared to terrify us, not even the smallest and most harmless snake.

“On the fourth day, after drying our Caribeau meat, we sailed for Nanibason, (on the north shore,) which we reached in eighteen hours, with a fair breeze. On the next day, the miners examined the coast of Nanibasou, and found several veins of copper and lead ; and after this returned to Point aux Pins, where we erected an air furnace. The assayer made a report on the ores which we had collected, stating that the lead ore contained silver in the proportion of forty ounces to the ton; but the copper ore only in very small proportion indeed.”


“Mr. Norberg, a Russian gentleman, discovered a mass of choloride of silver on the lake shore, and that it contained sixty per cent of metal.”
A Brief Account of the Lake Superior Copper Company, 1845, page 13.

The party now start for the Ontanagon, having in company a Mr. Norberg, an officer in the 60th regiment, then stationed at Mackinaw, old fort. At Point Iroquois, he found among the loose stones, one “of eight pounds, of a blue colour, and semi-transparent,” which he deposited in the British Museum at London, and which, it is said, contained sixty per cent, of silver.


“Hence we coasted westward, but found nothing till we reached the Ontanagon, where, besides the detached masses of copper formerly mentioned, we saw much of the same metal imbedded in stone. Proposing to ourselves to make a trial on the hill, till we were better able to go to work on the solid rock, we built a house, and sent to the Sault de Sainte Marie for provisions. At the spot pitched upon for the commencement of our preparations, a green coloured water, which tinged iron of a copper colour, issued from the hill, and this the miners called a leader. In digging, they found frequent masses of copper, some of which were of three pounds weight. Having arranged every thing for the accommodation of the miners during the winter, we returned to the Sault. Early in the spring of 1772, we sent a boat load of provisions, but it came back on the 20th day of June, bringing with it, to our surprise, the whole establishment of miners. They reported that in the course of the winter they had penetrated forty feet into the hill, but that on the arrival of the thaw, the clay on which, on account of its stiffness, they had relied, and neglected to secure by supports, had fallen in ; that from the detached masses of metal which to the last had daily presented themselves, they supposed there might be ultimately reached some body of the same, but could form no conjecture of its distance. Here our operations in this quarter ended It was never for the exportation-of copper that our company was formed but always with a view to the silver which it was hoped the ores, whether of copper or lead, might in sufficient quantity contain.”—pp. 227,233.

“In the following August we launched our sloop, and carried the miners to the vein of copper ore on the north side of the lake, (probably at Nanibasou, about one day’s sail from Michipicoten.) Little was done during the winter; but by dint of labour, performed between the commencement of the spring of 1773, and the ensuing month of September, they penetrated thirty feet into the solid rock. The rock was blasted with great difficulty, and the vein which at the beginning was of the breadth of four feet, had in the progress contracted into four inches. Under these circumstances we desisted, and carried the miners back to the Sault. What copper ore we had collected, we took to England; but the next season we were informed that the partners there declined entering into further expenses. In the interim, we had carried the miners along the north shore, as far as the river Pic, making, however, no discovery of importance. This year, therefore, (1774,) Mr. Baxter disposed of the sloop and other effects of the company, and paid its debts. The partners in England were his Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester, Mr. Secretary Townshend, Sir Samuel Tucket, Baronet, Mr. Baxter, Consul of the Empress of Russia, and Mr. Cruikshank. In America, Sir William Johnson, Baronet, Mr. Bostwick, Mr. Baxter, and myself. A charter had been petitioned for and obtained, but owing to our ill success, it was never taken from the seal office.”—pp. 234-5.


Detail of Ontonagon River, “Paul's Cabin,” the Ontonagon Boulder, and the Porcupine Mountains from Map of the Mineral Lands Upon Lake Superior Ceded to the United States by the Treaty of 1842 With the Chippeway Indians. ~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Detail of Ontonagon River, “Paul’s Cabin,” the Ontonagon Boulder, and the Porcupine Mountains from Map of the Mineral Lands Upon Lake Superior Ceded to the United States by the Treaty of 1842 With the Chippeway Indians.
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

There is living an old chief who, when a boy, saw this company of English miners at the falls of the Ontanagon. He represents the manager as a stout, burly man, with a red face. There are near the spot where the great copper rock was found, remains of a chimney, supposed to belong to the house spoken of by Henry. The timber around the spot was of a second growth; now cut away by Mr. James Paul, who has lived there, and located a three-mile permit. He told me that an aspen, eighteen inches in diameter, had blown down near his cabin, and a copper kettle was found, flattened and corroded, beneath its roots. There are also the remains of ancients pits, still visible; and in the sand and clay deposite, by digging, lumps of native copper are now found. There can, therefore, be no doubt but this is the spot visited by the English company, before the American Revolution, and now become again an object of hope and notoriety.

This region is singularly wild and disordered. The Falls, which are distinct from the “Rapids,” are caused by the irregular upheaval of trap, sandstone, and conglomerate, thrown about in grand confusion. To the miner and geologist such points possess not only the greatest interest, but the greatest practical value.

Here appears to be one of those great centres of convulsion, which raised and tossed about the metalliferous rocks. Another may be seen to the eastward of the Portage Lakes. From the central point in such direction along the line of action, that is to say, in a northeasterly and southwesterly course, the height of the upheaval and the extent of the distortion gradually becomes less on each side. The effect of the subterranean forces being very much the same upon the overlying sand rock, as that of a projecting point of rock upon the ice of an estuary of the sea when the tide falls away. The trap uplifts represent the rock, itself rising instead of the sandstone stratum settling. The resemblance is not perfect, but only illustrative. The field of ice subsiding upon a sharp point of rock, in a bay of quiet waters, will break and crack equally in all directions. But the uprising trap, though it has a centre, does not act equally on all sides; for there is a line of upheaval, along which the force operates, giving rise to an elevated ridge, which is highest at the centre, or focus. It has a breadth of 5 to 15 miles, and a length of 50 or 60. The trap rock intruding from below has within itself a certain regularity, which I have noticed before ; throwing up long parallel faces, looking inward towards the line of greatest elevation.

Of this fact I have from observation a knowledge of only a portion of the northern half of the trap range ; from the Manitou Islands to Sun river, a distance of about 120 miles. I did not cross the range far enough to ascertain the position of the south half, and give this statement of its organization upon the representation of other explorers, whom I have no reason to doubt.

These ranges are not- in every case parallel to the great anticlinal line, but generally they are so. There are cases of spurs, or lateral ranges, of limited extent, branching off from the main pile. Both the trap and the overlying conglomerate rocks, are very hard to work. The trap is the most compact, but is more uniform in its texture. The conglomerate encloses pebbles of all sizes, and of many different rocks, most of them very hard. This want of homogenity prevents the blast from producing that effect, which it would on a close, uniform, tight rock. I think there can be little doubt but Mr. Henry’s conjecture respecting the source of the copper rock of the Ontanagon, and the many copper boulders found in the red clay deposite, is correct. That they were loosened from their position in a neighboring vein, by the disentegration of the enclosing rock, and by the force of gravity and that agent, whatever it may have been, which brought on the red sand and clay deposite, they have been scattered around. The red deposite is evidently younger than the sandstone and the trap, for it is horizontal. The sandstone it is equally evident is older than the trap, for the latter has shot up through it, tilting it outward from the line of uplift. The copper boulders are found imbedded in the red loam, as it may be called, and must have been loosened from the vein at and before the period when it (the loam) was brought on.

The native copper, which is the principal ore of the country, (if metal can be called an ore,) exists in the veins, in all sizes and shapes; from the weight of the point of a pin to 20, 40, 100, 1,000 and 1,500 pounds. A boulder was found this season near the mouth of Elm river, weighing over 1,500 pounds, which is now at New Haven. I saw an irregular mass in a vein near Agate Harbour, about one mile east, which might with great care have been taken out, weighing 800 to 1000 pounds. It was removed in one body, to the amount of about 400 pounds; but to procure such specimens there is great trouble and expense, in securing all the prongs against damage by the blast. These boulders are found in the water-worn pebbles of the shore, and of various sizes, from 1 to 40 and 100 pounds. They are also found far to the southward, in Wisconsin—giving rise to great hopes and speculations—transported by that universal power, (whatever it was,) which covered the northern hemisphere with drift from the north.

It may then be suggested whether the great copper rock and its satellites, of the Falls of the Ontanagon, were not carried thither in the same manner. There is certainly room for such a doubt. But no matter how far these masses of copper have been transported, or how short the distance they have been moved, they must have originally been derived from veins. Here we find not the particular veins from which the boulder was extracted, but find in the country veins containing exactly such masses. They may have been dragged from regions farther north, where similar veins probably exist, but as there is no necessity for going to sogreat a distance in search of their origin, so there is not a.s great a probability of finding their original seat far from their present position. The difficulty of transporting such heavy material is a strong reason against distance, though not a conclusive one.

But in the case of the great rock, the number of attending fragments is so numerous—so much more so than is known anywhere else at a distance from the veins, that little doubt remains that they are from a nest not very far off. In the gold region, and in the lead mines, where loose metal is found, the miner begins to search in all directions to ascertain from whence it came. If he finds it more abundant on one side than another, he famines more closely the soil of that side; and if found to increase as he proceeds, he is convinced that he is on the trail. As he follows this, the evidences multiply, and at last he arrives at the parent vein, from which the scattered fragments were driven. It is probable that time, money, and enterprise, will finish what the English company began; and at last disclose a prominent vein within hearing of the cataracts of the west branch.

The mouth of the Ontanagon is one of those commanding points that strike the observer at first glance. As Henry says, it is the principal river of the south shore, and the only one except the Chocolate river and Grand Marais, where a vessel can enter. There is now, in a low stage of the lake, six feet water on the bar, and deep water several miles up the stream, which is about 300 feet wide. It is the natural outlet of a large fanning region, which the surveyors say extends 50 or GO miles interiour, and 40 or 50 each way along the shore. The mineral belt occupies several miles in width, at this point 10 or 12 miles from the shore, and parallel with it; but at the mouth of Sun, Black, and Montreal rivers, it comes down to the waters of the lake. On each side of this range, and even among the Porcupine Mountains, the agricultural resources of the country are only limited by the shortness of the seasons. The soil is good— the climate without an equal for health and strength, and the lake and streams abound in fish. The swamps and the flat lands produce wild grass in abundance, showing the tendency of the soil to that production. Potatoes, turnips, and all roots grow here in the greatest perfection; and oats and barley do well. I have little doubt but it will also be found an excellent wheat region.

We found the rich bottom-lands of the Ontanagon already dotted with the cabins of pre-emption claimants, for several miles up the river. The Indians have a tradition about the name of Ontanagon, as about almost every thing else, and say it is truly “Nindinagan.” That an old woman, long ago, was cooking on the shore at the mouth, and her dish slipped into the current and was carried out into the lake. She exclaimed, “Oh! there goes my dish,” the Indian of which is said to be Nindinagan.

The site at its mouth is rather low and swampy. On the west the Porcupine Mountains rise boldly out of the water, at the distance of 20 miles, presenting that peculiar outline of the trap uplifts by which they may be recognised afar off, almost as well as by inspection. A cross-section, which would also correspond with the end view, from the Ontanagon may be compared to the notches or teeth of a mill-saw, laid upon its back, one edge straight and vertical, the other sloping. If the expectations of mineral locators are realized, the prosecution of the mining business will of itself create a place of some importance here. To the fanner of New England there will be great inducements, as soon as the mining operations are placed upon a sure footing; for the products most congenial to the region are such as are bulky, and cost much in their transportation, to wit: potatoes and roots, hay and oats. It is well known that miners never till the soil to much purpose. A garden and a little pasture suffice for them. This must be done by the practical farmer. The mineral and the agricultural districts are here so admirably situated as mutually to render to each interest the greatest assistance. When the navigation shall be completed around the rapids of the St. Mary’s, the emigrant and miner, placing himself at any harbour of any of the lakes, may take his passage to any part of Lake Superiour, with his family and effects. The hardy son of Vermont and New Hampshire will find here his own climate and mountains; his own trout streams, and a good substitute for the shad and salmon of the ocean ; and a soil equal to most parts of the West, without the fever and ague of the more southern portions. The facility of making roads to the interiour is great, and along the shore they are practicable. Of course, on the immediate east, ravines are too frequent to cross without expensive bridges. But a few miles inland the country rises, the valleys of the streams diminish, and a very favourable country is found as far east as the Portage Lakes and the Anse. Here the swamps and lakes form the only serious obstacles, and they are avoided by good selections of routes. The difficulty of making roads in the Ontanagon region is far less than it was in the first settlement of Ohio.

Major Campbell reported on the copper lands here in December of 1843.

Until the night of the 5th of October I had not observed any frost, although the leaves were already coloured with the hues of autumn, and falling from their stems hid begun to cover the ground. The winds and ruins that occurred between the 5th and the 10th left the branches of the trees almost as naked as in winter, and the snow began to fall. We were received at the Agency house with that liberality of hospitality which can be found nowhere more full and hearty than among the backwoodsmen of the West. Major Campbell, the agent, was absent in search of a copper rock, in the neighbourhood of “Lake Vieux Desert,” about 150 miles distant. In the evening Mr. Paul, who has been three years in the country, and who had joined in the wild-goose chase after the copper rock, on the faith of an Indian, came in, and amused the company till a late hour by reciting the stratagems and effrontery of their Indian guide.

Since the whites have shown such an intense curiosity about copper rocks, they have sprung up on all sides. Every Indian knows where one may be found. It can be had of any size or shape, and generally for the price of a few dollars and provisions for the trip. It is generally seven, ten, or twelve days’ journey to it. The Great Spirit and the tribe will destroy or otherwise injure him who shows it to the white man, but they will lead him to the vicinity, and he can do the rest. In this case a monster was to be found, and the price was to correspond; but $50 or $60 was somehow procured in advance. The Indian lived in the neighbourhood of the rock and had shown it to but one other mortal; a half breed now dead. After great labour and vexation the party approached the sacred place. There are four trees marked with Porcupines, done in charcoal; according to the description. They were far from any trap ranges, in a low, swampy country. The Indian fixes his eyes in a given direction, and all are elated with the certainty of success. They scour the woods in that direction, but no rock is found. The Indian and his boy wish to be left to pursue the search by themselves, and still the rock hides itself. He is watched, and they find that he only moves around in a limited circle, and returns to the camp. Hesitating between the apprehension that he is duped, and the realization of his hopes, the agent becomes impatient. The Indian at length points his finger to the spot, but the Great Spirit had sunk the rock deep into the earth. The Indian is calm and immovable. “Hou, hou—marchez wigwam” he says, in the usual tone. “What does he say?” inquires the agent. “He says we had better go to his wigwam,” replies the interpreter. The scene changes from the highest expectations to the highest rage. “Give him a hundred lashes—break every bone in his body—kill him!” and expressions of this sort, are now heard, with gestures to match. The Indian could not understand English, but knew enough to be sensible that some cursing was going on, and that he was the object. He now began to kindle with wrath. The first motion was to throw down his pack, and in this he was followed by the boy, and two or three other Indians of the party. What was the agent, the surveyor, and the interpreter to do, here in this wilderness, deserted by their packers and guides. Paul, who had long known the Indian’s cunning, saw at once the position of affairs, laughed at the agent, and offered the Indians a half dollar to take up their packs. They had, in the mean time, proceeded from anger to mockery. They had paraded themselves in advance of the party, strutting along with some small willow sticks on their shoulders, in derision of the many loads under which the whites were groaning. The latter were obliged not only to pocket the insult, but to employ the old man, his boy, wife, and canoe, to cross some lakes that lay in their route home.

Coming in they met another party of whites, with the usual complement of Indians, also in search of a copper rock, said to exist in the region of Lake Vieux Desert. If such rock were actually visible, no Indian would show it, so long as he can get one-half of his yearly support from it as a guide. Those who know them best, say that it matters little to the explorer whether such boulders exist or not, the Indians will never be guilty of showing one to a white man. There is a superstition upon the subject, and it is also a rule that the proceeds of a found rock should be divided, and a large portion go to the chief. In case an Indian actually knew of one, he would not disclose its position, unless he was sure the fact would never be made known to his tribe.

On the morning of the second day the square-sail of our boat, which had been to La Pointe, appeared at the foot of the Porcupine Mountains, bright in the light of the rising sun. At eleven it entered the river, before a bountiful breeze, and the company was once more together.

"Algonquin Company of Detroit." ~ Reports of Wm. A. Burt and Bela Hubbard, by T. W. Bristol, 1846, page 97.

“Algonquin Company of Detroit.”
~ Reports of Wm. A. Burt and Bela Hubbard, by J. Houghton Jr and T. W. Bristol, 1846, page 97.

The mining company for which we were acting is called the “Algonquin,” and is composed principally of citizens of Detroit. Our locations were made, four in number, upon the waters of Flint Steel river, and we were now on the way thither, to make preparations for the men who were to stay through the winter. Towards evening, we entered the mouth of Flint Steel river, which is six miles east of the Ontanagon. Dragging the boat over the bar, and rowing it two miles up the stream, we landed. From thence to the locations, is about twelve miles, over a beautiful rolling country of sugar maple. The copper found here is chiefly native, and is enclosed in the trap rock. We brought away a piece weighing seven pounds, that lay in a vein near the surface.

On the 13th, we were again at the boat, working out of the river. For several days there had been snow, and indications of the close of the season. The snow was still falling as we proceeded down the lake, after dark, with a view of reaching Elm river. But the water was calm, and the oarsmen were making good speed. A little after 9 o’clock, we passed the mouth of Misery river, a bleak and desert place, without firewood, and some of the party fancying they saw a light at the old camp, or Elm, the boat was kept on her course. It was difficult to the see shore at the distance of twenty rods, on account of the falling snow.

About half past 9, a light puff of wind came on from the northwest, which aroused the attention of Martin at once. “If the next one (says he) is stiffer than that, we must put about for Misery river.” A sharp flaw followed his words, and the boat was put about. But it was scarcely before the breeze, when it came in short, irregular blasts, and the water became agitated. Martin was our oracle on the water. He said we must make the shore instantly, and the craft bounding and splashing, was headed for a light streak that appeared to be a sand beach, but above which frowned a dark line like a bluff! Before she struck, the sharp, irregular waves combed freely over the sides and the stern of the boat.

“Charley, Patrick, Mike, and all hands, throw your oars and jump ashore!” Every man was in the water in a moment, holding her by the head. “Keep her stern off; heave, ho! heave, ho! Now she sticks. Throw out the luggage before she fills. Keep her stern off; heave, ho! Now she rests; take a line to that root.” It would seem that not more than five minutes had passed, since we were quietly moving over that water, from which we were now thankful to seek relief on land. The storm had already become a tempest, roaring through the woods and over the waves, like a tornado. There stood the giant frame of Charley at the stern of the boat, the waves dashing over him, lifting and pushing her towards the shore; the others grasping her by the sides, assisted to work her further on, but she was too much loaded with water, to be moved by main strength; Martin soon rigged the halyards into a purchase with two blocks, by which advantage she was drawn beyond the reach of the sea, that seemed to grow more angry as we rescued the boat from that element.

There is generally within hailing distance a birch tree to be found, and the ragged outside bark, that rolls up like paper, in tatters, will burn at the touch of fire. No matter whether the tree is green or dry, or the day has been wet or dry, there is some side of a birch tree from which there can be pulled a handful of these paper-like shreds, to kindle a fire. These, with a few small dead cedar limbs, will always, with due care, give the foundation of a camp-fire. But to be more certain, voyageurs usually carry a roll of peeled birch bark, the remains of some bark canoe, and this, broken and split into strips, burns at once. Groping about among the balsams and pines, that stood thick on the beach, no birch could be found. The roll in the boat had been washed out, and though found at last, was coarse and wet. The wind and snow which penetrated every nook and corner, added to the difficulty of starting a blaze, and some of the party began to yield to the influence of cold and exhaustion, when we found a piece of dry pine board, and cutting it into shavings, had the satisfaction to see it flame up brightly at the root of a tree. A dish of hot tea rivived every one, and at 1 o’clock, the whole party were as sound asleep as ever, in a little hollow, back from the shore. But the storm raged on until the morning after the succeeding day, when we ventured to put ourselves before it, and reached Copper Harbour, sixty miles distant, in eleven hours, without landing. As we passed Eagle river, a number of people were seen along the coast, where the spray still dashed over the rocks, in search, as we afterwards learned, of the body of Dr. Houghton, who with two of his men, were lost there as the gale arose. It is remarkable that no more persons were shipwrecked on that dreadful night. A birch canoe, with an Indian and his boy, and a white man, put out from Agate Harbour, and sailed in the height of the storm to Eagle Harbour, several miles. Other boats were exposed at various points, but by seeking the shore in season, escaped the danger. Dr. H. had the misfortune to be opposite a forbidding coast, with rocks extending into the water, and shallow for some distance out. It was not his misfortune alone, but that of science, and the nation. The boat did not, as it appears from the survivors, capsize, so capable is a well-built sail boat of resisting severe weather; but was sent end over end, probably by hitting the bottom, while in a trough of the sea.

In September, a boat of about the same size, made the passage from Isle Royal to Copper Harbour, direct across the open lake, with a bark canoe in tow, before a severe gale. A party of seven men, among whom was Mr. Hall, of the New York survey, were on the island, and short of provisions. The vessel which was expected to take them off had missed the rendezvous, and they were driven to attempt the passage in their open boats. When fairly out on the lake, the wind, which was fair, increased to a gale, in which they gave themselves up for lost. About midway from the two shores the canoe and two men went adrift, and it became necessary to put about and take them again in tow. When it is considered how much the lug of a canoe impedes and endangers a small sail boat in bad weather, it will be regarded as a miracle of preservation that these men completed their voyage in safety.

I intended to give a brief notice of the mines now in operation, but have already made a much longer article, as I fear, than will suit a magazine reader.

"Lake Superior Company" ~ Reports of Wm. A. Burt and Bela Hubbard, by T. W. Bristol, 1846, page 92.

“Lake Superior Company”
~ Reports of Wm. A. Burt and Bela Hubbard, by J. Houghton Jr and T. W. Bristol, 1846, page 92.

The most extensive works are those belonging to the “Lake Superiour Company,” at Eagle river, under the superintendence of Col. C. H. Gratiot. There were here about 120 workmen, and, in September, near 800 tons of ore, ready for the stamping or crushing machine. This machine is a very nice piece of mechanism, that works by water, and crushes ten tons of the rock in a day. The principal shaft, then 70 feet deep, was in a vein or dyke, about 11 feet wide, one-half of which bears native silver in such quantities as to be an object without regarding the copper. Whether it is a true vein, or an irregular mass, I find geologist do not agree; but for practical purposes, it is regular and extensive.

"Pittsburgh and Boston Copper Harbor Company" ~ Reports of Wm. A. Burt and Bela Hubbard, by J. Houghton Jr and T. W. Bristol, 1846, page 92.

“Pittsburgh and Boston Copper Harbor Company”
~ Reports of Wm. A. Burt and Bela Hubbard, by J. Houghton Jr and T. W. Bristol, 1846, page 92.

"New York and Lake Superior Company" ~ Reports of Wm. A. Burt and Bela Hubbard, by J. Houghton Jr and T. W. Bristol, 1846, pages 93-94.

“New York and Lake Superior Company”
~ Reports of Wm. A. Burt and Bela Hubbard, by J. Houghton Jr and T. W. Bristol, 1846, pages 93-94.

Boston Mining Company stock issued by Joab Bernard. ~ Copper Country Reflections

“Boston Mining Company”
~ Copper Country Reflections

About four miles southwest from this, the “Pittsburg Company” are working a vein about four feet wide, which bears silver also, but its value is not as well tested as the Lake Superiour Company’s bed. Eagle river is only a brook, coming down from the mountains, which a Ynan may cross by ten steps at low water. The shaft and pounding mill is about one and a half miles from the shore, and their landing is five or six miles east. At Eagle Harbour, they have a saw mill and many buildings. The celebrity of the mines, and the scarcity of places of shelter, have caused a great many persons to visit the spot during the past season. The superintendent and his assistants have, however, always shown visiters that attention and hospitality, which could nowhere be esteemed more highly. About three miles east of Eagle river, is the Henshaw location, not as yet much worked. On the west side of Eagle Harbour, at Sprague’s location, I procured a handsome specimen of silver, which appeared to be abundant. On the east side is the Bailey location, not worked, but which is well spoken of. On Agate Harbour, the “New York and Lake Superiour Company” had sunk three shafts without hitting the metallic vein. The “Boston Company” have an establishment at the east end of the harbour. Within two miles, on the east, there are two veins, from one of which a piece of native copper, weighing about 400 pounds, was taken by Mr. Hempstead, and in the other a valuable sulphuret of copper has since been discovered. A vein of sulphuret is also known on the waters of Mineral creek, a few miles west of the Ontanagon.

"Massachusetts Company" ~ Reports of Wm. A. Burt and Bela Hubbard, by J. Houghton Jr and T. W. Bristol, 1846, pages 101.

“Massachusetts Company”
~ Reports of Wm. A. Burt and Bela Hubbard, by J. Houghton Jr and T. W. Bristol, 1846, pages 101.

"Isle Royale Company" ~ Reports of Wm. A. Burt and Bela Hubbard, by J. Houghton Jr and T. W. Bristol, 1846, pages 94.

“Isle Royale Company”
~ Reports of Wm. A. Burt and Bela Hubbard, by J. Houghton Jr and T. W. Bristol, 1846, pages 94.

The “Massachusetts Company” have commenced works about a mile west of the extremity of Copper Harbour, where several veins, apparently rich, and said to carry silver, have been opened on the coast. At the Harbour, the “Pittsburgh Company” have two shafts, from which they have taken several tons of the rich black oxyde. A mile east, is a location of the ” Isle Royal Company,” under the charge of Mr. Cyrus Mendenhall, employing ten or fifteen hands.

There are probably now in the country 600 persons engaged in mining, as labourers, agents, clerks, superintendents, and mining engineers.

Communication is kept up with them during the winter, by a semimonthly mail from Green Bay, taken on the back of a man, by way of the Menominee river and the Anse, to the post-office at Fort Wilkins. This does not allow the carriage of newspapers, or heavy packages, but only letters. Although the winter is severe, it is so uniform that those who have tried it do not complain, and even pursue their journeys with more facility by land than they can in summer. If a road were open to Green Bay, the journey would be made in four or five days, over a road which, once trod, would be perfect for several months. From the best information derived from mail carriers, and gentlemen who have made the trip on snow-shoes, it is not an expensive route for a road.

William Austin Burt ~ Wikipedia.org

Judge William Austin Burt
~ Wikipedia.org

I have spoken frequently of the fluctuations of the needle, and of its variations. The surveys in this region can be made only with the solar compass, or some instrument of that nature. The one used by Judge Burt, who has run all the township lines west of the Sault, is of his own invention. It is now made in England for exportation to this country. This compass is placed in the meridian by an apparatus always directed on the sun, and as it carries a needle, shows the variation every time it is set.

At the Sault the regular variation was given 2 deg. east, which, at every section corner on the town lines, is written with red chalk on the stake. At southwest corner section 19, range 35 west, T. 55 north, variation 7 deg. 15 min. east; 6 miles directly south, 5 deg. 15 min. east. One mile north of southeast corner of T_ 52 north, range 36 west, variation 5 deg. 5 min.; one mile west, 6 deg. 5 min. At south corner of T. 52, range 37, variation 5 deg. 15 min. east; one mile north, 1 deg. 10 min.; two miles west, 1 deg. 35 min.; three miles further west, 8 deg. 15 min. At middle of south line of T. 51 north, range 40 west, variation 5 deg. 35 min. east.

For game we saw pheasants, or as some call them partridges, in great numbers, and also red squirrels. No turkeys, deer, or black squirrels. There are bears, moose, and reindeer; yet they are not numerous. There is also an animal of the wild-cat species, called a lynx, whose tracks we saw. For reptiles, we saw none but a few feeble garter snakes. There are owls, mice, and rabbits in abundance. We saw no insects of consequence, except spiders, and these were sufficiently numerous to be troublesome. During the latter part of June, and the whole of July, in the woods and low places, there are countless myriads of moschetoes and sand-flies. They are said not to be troublesome on the coast.

Much of the comfort of a trip in this region depends on the outfit. Arrangements should be made for a supply of at least two pounds of solid food per day for each man, and a surplus for friends who are less provident.

The cheapest, least weighty and bulky, as well as the best for health and relish, are hard bread, beans, and salt pork, of the very best quality. Tea, coffee, and sugar, are in such cases not necessaries, but are, for the expense and trouble, the greatest and cheapest luxuries that can be had under any circumstances. To every two men there must be a small camp-kettle, and if in a boat, a large kettle and frying-pan. In the woods, a hatchet to every two men, and a strong tin cup for each, with a surplus of one-half these articles to make up for losses. Knives, forks, and spoons disappear so fast that two setts to each man will be none to many. Salt and pepper are indispensable for the game you may kill; and if there are a plenty of horse-pistols, a great many pheasants may be shot without much loss of time. But these are not to be taken into account for supplies.

A pocket compass is necessary to each party. For a pack there is nothing better than a knapsack and straps, without the boards. Ordinary clothing is of no use, for it will disappear in a short time. The surveyors wear trousers made of heavy cotton ticking, and a sort of pea-jacket made of the same. This or medium cotton duck will stand wear, and although moisture comes through, the rains do not. It thickens when wet, and turns long storms better than any thing except oil-cloth. A supply of thick flannel shirts should be procured without fail, and flannel or Canton flannel under-clothes. A vest is unnecessary, and instead of suspenders the pantaloons are kept up by a broad belt, on which the tin-cup may be strung. A low, round-crowned, white beaver hat is much worn, but perhaps a light cap, of oiled silk, made soft and impervious to rain, is better. For the feet, moccasins or light brogans, made of good leather, and plenty of woollen stockings. In the wet season, cowhide boots, made of good but not heavy leather, and very large, but in the shape of the foot. A flint and steel for emergencies, and matches for ordinary use to strike a fire. Without something water-proof around them, the matches will acquire moisture in long spells of wet weather. If you carry a map case, they may be put in a second case, around which the map is rolled. A belt with a leather pouch and a buckle, to carry the hatchet in, is a very great convenience; for nothing is so likely to be lost as a hatchet. We were three days without one in very bad weather, having dropped it on the route.

Tents are not indispensible, but comfortable, especially along the shore and in very warm weather, when moschetoes are plenty.

A good, large, heavy Mackinaw blanket is beyond comparison the most necessary article to the voyageur and woodsman. With all these preparations, the lover of exercise and adventure may count upon as much enjoyment, on a trip through the Lake Superior country, as he will find at home. If he is badly provided, he will be inefficient and uneasy – will suffer many privations, and perhaps injure his health.

By Amorin Mello

A curious series of correspondences from Morgan

… continued from Saint Croix Falls.

 


 

1845 daily union header

The Daily Union (Washington D.C.)
“Liberty, The Union, And The Constitution.”
July 31, 1845.

To the Editor of the Union:

This anonymous complaint was a response to a certain letter written by “Morgan” on July 15th, 1845, as published in the Daily Union on July 29th, 1845.  The offending letter was reproduced here on Chequamegon History earlier as Copper Harbor of this series.
General John Stockton was assigned as the Superintendent for this Mineral Agency to reduce corruption there.

SIR: In your paper of Tuesday evening, I have observed a communication from Copper Harbor, (Lake Superior,) so pregnant with errors or misrepresentations, that I am constrained, by a regard to truth and the public interests, to ask the use of your columns to correct some of them.  I know not who your correspondent is; but, judging from the extraordinary zeal with which he labors to forestall public opinion of certain government agents on Lake Superior, whose conduct has recently become obnoxious to very grave suspicion, I think it no unwarrantable conclusion that he has either been most egregiously imposed upon, or that he is animated in his encomiums upon the officers alluded to, by motives much more special than in his admiring comments upon the handsome scenery and novel life upon the lake.  He is evidently more than indifferently anxious to vindicate and extol General Stockton and his faithful deputy, Mr. Gray.  Otherwise, what necessity would there be for asserting facts which do not exist?  Your correspondent states that

“The only tenement on the island is a miserable log-cabin, in which General Stockton, for the want of better quarters, is compelled to keep his office.  The room which he occupies, is only about eight feet square – just large enough to admit a narrow bed for himself, a table, and two or three chairs.  In this salt-box of a room, he is compelled to transact all the business relating to the mineral lands embraced within this important agency.  As many as a dozen men at a time are pressing forward to his ‘bee gum’ apartment, endeavoring to have their business transacted.

“The office of the surveyor of this mineral lands, in charge of Mr. Gray, at this agency, is still worse adapted to the transaction of public business.  He is compelled to occupy the garret of the log-cabin,” &c.

Now, so far from this being true, “the miserable log cabin” of which your fastidious correspondent speaks, is an excellent hewed log house, well finished and ceiled, with three good-sized rooms below, and three above stairs, amply sufficient and convenient for all intended purposes.  The construction of this house cost the government some fifteen hundred dollars, and was designed as the agency-house; whereas General Stockton has converted it into a sort of hotel – doubtless as a means of augmenting the perquisites of his station.  Hence he has stinted himself, and the convenience of the government service, to his “bee-gum” and “salt-box” penetralia of “eight feet square.”  So much for this misrepresentation.

Painting of Douglass Houghton by Robert Thom. Houghton first explored the south shore of Lake Superior in 1840. Houghton died on Lake Superior during a storm on October 13, 1845. The city of Houghton on Chequamegon Bay was named in his honor.

Painting of Professor Douglass Houghton by Robert Thom. Houghton first explored the south shore of Lake Superior in 1840. Houghton died on Lake Superior during a storm on October 13, 1845. The City of Houghton on Chequamegon Bay was named in his honor, and is now known as the Houghton Falls State Natural Area.

Senator Henry Clay Sr. (Whig Party) was defeated in the 1844 United States presidential election by President James Knox Polk (Democratic Party).  Polk’s campaign was based on American territorial expansionism, also known as Manifest Destiny.  The Territory of Wisconsin became the State of Wisconsin during Polk’s presidency during 1848.

Your correspondent expresses a like sympathy for the privations and long-suffering of Mr. Surveyor Gray.  The apartment which Mr. Gray occupies above stairs, is an ample room, some fifteen or more feet square, and is quote comfortable – nay, quite luxurious quarters, when compared to those of the other surveyors, who are where Mr. Surveyor Gray should be, if he was faithfully discharging his duties – out in the woods and the weather, among the rocks and swamps, driving the compass and chain through almost impenetrable wilds.  It may, perhaps, be a question with the government, as it certainly will be with the public, why Mr. Gray should be lolling at his ease in the agency-house on Porter’s island, while Dr. Houghton, the other surveyor, is traversing large tracts of the mineral lands, and sustaining all the hardships and perils which pertain to his employment?  And it may become a further question, while I am on this head, why Mr. Gray, who was an unrelenting tool of the whig party, and neglected the public service, for which he was receiving a handsome salary, last year, to mingle in the orgies of federal-Clay-clubites, should not only be so sedulously retained in office, but be admitted to the privilege of almost total exemption from labor, which he is employed and paid to perform?  It is a fact, that up to the 3d of July, Mr. Gray had surveyed only two miles, whereas Dr. Houghton had measured some five hundred miles of the mineral lands!  And this is the gentleman against whose discomfort your correspondent so pathetically appeals, forsooth, because he is occupying at his ease an excellent apartment in a very comfortable house.

American Progress by John Gast, 1872. "This painting shows "Manifest Destiny" (the belief that the United States should expand from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. In 1872 artist John Gast painted a popular scene of people moving west that captured the view of Americans at the time. Called "Spirit of the Frontier" and widely distributed as an engraving portrayed settlers moving west, guided and protected by Columbia (who represents America and is dressed in a Roman toga to represent classical republicanism) and aided by technology (railways, telegraph), driving Native Americans and bison into obscurity. It is also important to note that Columbia is bringing the "light" as witnessed on the eastern side of the painting as she travels towards the "darkened" west." ~ Commons.Wikimedia.org

American Progress by John Gast, 1872
“This painting shows ‘Manifest Destiny’ (the belief that the United States should expand from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. In 1872 artist John Gast painted a popular scene of people moving west that captured the view of Americans at the time. Called ‘Spirit of the Frontier’ and widely distributed as an engraving portrayed settlers moving west, guided and protected by Columbia (who represents America and is dressed in a Roman toga to represent classical republicanism) and aided by technology (railways, telegraph), driving Native Americans and bison into obscurity. It is also important to note that Columbia is bringing the ‘light’ as witnessed on the eastern side of the painting as she travels towards the ‘darkened’ west.”
~ Commons.Wikimedia.org

Edward Larned was the President, and Charles G. Larned was the Superintendent, of the New York and Lake Superior Mining Company.

The design of this letter from Copper Harbor is perfectly apparent to me.  It is the sequel to a movement which was made last June, viz: to white-wash and to shield from a just reprehension the present superintendent of the Lake Superior mineral lands.  On the very day that General Stockton opened his office, a sort of soi-disant public meeting was gotten up there, in compliment to the General, in which the president of the New York and Lake Superior Mining Company was the prime mover.  When it is known that General Stockton has certified to the Ordnance Department locations by this company of between one and three hundred square miles, upon which leases were granted, when not a single foot had been actually located, in flagrant violation of all the laws and regulations, some opinion may be formed of the secret of this most disinterested and valuable tribute to the official worth of this superintendent.  What might have been the potency of this expression of public opinion (!) in protecting Gen. Stockton’s official conduct from censure and investigation up to the period of its dispensation, I will not now say.  But, certain it is, that large and glaring spots which have begun to attract scrutiny and invoke exposure, have rendered his escutcheon needful of a new coat of white-washing; and hence this effort of your correspondent to forestall examination into his conduct, by pathetic epics of his patiently-endured privations iin the public service, and the ignorant or else sinister commendations of his conduct.

Major Campbell reported on the copper lands here in December of 1843.

In animadverting upon the conduct of General Stockton and others, I do not mean to include Major Campbell, of whom everything that your correspondent has said is hereby confirmed.

POSTEA PLUS.

———

William Learned Marcy was the 20th United States Secretary of War under Polk's presidency. ~ Wikipedia.org

William Learned Marcy was the 20th United States Secretary of War during Polk’s presidency.
~ Wikipedia.org

We have omitted a large portion of the above communication, in which the writer proceeds to complain of the survey of the mineral lands, and arraigns the agents of the government for gross malversation in office.  These charges are of a serious character, and they demand a full and rigid investigation.  But, as it might lead to a protracted and angry war in the papers, in which crimination would be followed by recrimination; and as we are advised that the Secretary of War is determined to investigate the justice of these complaints and the truth of them – as he will receive any specifications in writing which may be submitted, and is determined to go to the bottom of the subject; and, with that view, will appoint a commission of two of the most respectable gentlemen he can obtain, who will go upon the lands, and probe everything for themselves, – we have thought it best to let matters take that turn.  We have not the slightest doubt that the attention of the department is thoroughly exited to the importance of the duties which may devolve upon it, and that it will unquestionably discharge them.  It is scarcely necessary, therefore, for the press to mingle at present in a discussion, which might occupy much space, lead to much excitement, and, after all, fail to lead to the best and wisest results.

– UNION.

 


 

1845 daily union header

The Daily Union (Washington D.C.)
“Liberty, The Union, And The Constitution.”
August 1, 1845.

THE COPPER REGION.

James Knox Polk: 11th President of the United States. ~ Wikipedia.org

James Knox Polk:
11th President of the United States.
~ Wikipedia.org

We have been inconsiderately drawn into a subject of some importance to the United Sates.  We have struck a vein, however, which promises to be rich in its resources.  The reader will recollect a very long and interesting letter which we published on Tuesday evening, from one of our regular correspondents, who is now on a trip from New York to Lake Superior, in which he gave us a description of its peculiar and striking scenery, and made some remarks upon the copper lands in its vicinity, and upon the agents of the United States who have been charged with the care of the mineral lands belonging to the government.  This letter drew forth a reply in our last evening’s paper; but we declined the publication of the whole communication, for the reasons which we then stated.  The writer of that article charged the United States agent with many acts of mismanagement, and even malversation of office; and as we were aware that our government was about to appoint a commission to visit the country, and investigate the conduct of the agents, we deemed it most advisable to refer to another tribunal, (for the present, at least,) a full inquiry into these matters.  In the mean time, a new scene was opened before us.  We were scarcely aware of the existence of these mineral resources, – much less of their extent.  But our curiosity is now being aroused.  The public documents connected with them have been politely placed in our possession, and we shall prepare an article for the “Union” for the purpose of calling the attention of the country to this very interesting subject.  The lead-mines belonging to the United States in Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, &c., have been longer known and are better understood than the copper region.  They have been worked to a considerable extent, and their produce is so abundant, that they can not only supply our own market with lead, but afford a large export for the consumption of foreign nations.  Perhaps no mines in the world are equal to those of the belt on both sides of the Mississippi.

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

Engraving depicting the 1820 Cass/Schoolcraft expedition crossing the Ontonagon River to investigate the famous copper boulder.
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

How the Ontonagon Boulder was extracted was a contentious issue at this time, as it involved a series of petitions between Julius Eldred and the United States government.  These are available on 27 pages as item 260 of the 28th Congress, 1st Session.  In 1991, the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community petitioned the United States for repatriation of the Ontonagon Boulder, but was denied.
WASHINGTON, January 6, 1844.
The purchase of this rock from the Chippewa Indians was made in 1841. The treaty with these Indians, ceding this portion of the country to the United States, was not made until October, 1842, after the second expedition to that country for the purpose of removing this rock. The Indians say that they did [not] reserve this rock in the treaty of 1842, as they had already sold it to a citizen of the United States, and they conceived that they had no further control over it. They say that, by their treaty, they only sold their lands, and suppose that all moveable property of this kind, which had been previously the subject of individual negotiation, would be allowed to be removed by the individuals making the purchase of them, as readily as they would be allowed to remove their lodges or canoes.
J. ELDRED, for self and sons.
Public Documents Printed by Order of the Senate of the United States: First Session of the Twenty-Eigth Congress, 1844.
Photograph by Ian Shackleford, 2011, of the Ontonagon Copper Boulder off display at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History. ~ Wikipedia.org

The Ontonagon Copper Boulder at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History.  Photograph by Ian Shackleford, 2011; shared with a Creative Commons license. 
~ Wikipedia.org

The copper region is probably more important than the lead-mines.  It is supposed by some geologists to extend from Lake Superior to Texas, crossing the Mississippi diagonally at a lower point than the lead-mines, and forming a vein of from thirty to forty miles of average width.  The ore is said to be unusually rich.  In some places it is mixed with veins of silver, so abundant that the precious metal alone is sufficient to pay all the expenses of working the vein – the ore itself making a yield of 60 or 70 per cent. of copper.  An immense boulder of this metal is now deposited in the public yard between the War and Navy Departments, and is well worthy the inspection of all curious observers who happen to visit Washington.  It weighs more than 3,700 lbs., and is so rich in the metal that a plate of copper is smoothed off on its surface like the copper-plate of the engraver.  It was transported to Washington from the banks of the Ontonagon river, about forty miles from the Eagle river.  The two principal points where the richest ore has yet been developed, are on Eagle river, and near Copper Harbor, on Lake Superior.  But the richest portion of the copper region, as far as it is explored, is reputed to be Isle Royale, in Lake Superior, much nearer the Canada side than our own; but the boundary line runs north of the island, so that it falls within the limits of the United States.  Isle Royale is estimated to be about thirty miles in length, and five miles broad – singularly rich in copper, which is constantly cropping out on the surface. The department has decided that no patents should be granted, and no leases taken, on this singular island.

The two largest companies on the Lake Superior copper range at this time were the Pittsburgh & Boston Copper Harbor Mining Company and the New York & Lake Superior Mining Company.  These firms were featured on Chequamegon History in The Copper Region of this series.

Two large companies have been formed for leasing and working the mines in the Lake Superior Copper Region – the one which operates in New York, and the other in Boston.  So valuable have shares become in some cases, that a gentleman in Boston, who is said to own about eighty shares, has been offered more than $600 for a single share.  The supervision of these mines is devolved on the Ordnance Bureau, (Col. Talcott,) attached, of course to the War Department.  Some important regulations have been made about the leasing of the mines, but further legislation will be required from Congress.  The Secretary of War grants the permits to applicants to go upon the lands; and upon presenting a certificate from the agent of the United States that the tract has not been previously occupied, a lease may be granted for three years, upon condition of paying 6 per cent. of the nett proceeds of the metal, after it is smelted from the ore.  If the lease be renewed for another three years, the rent is extended to 10 per cent.  The leaseholders were originally confined to the smelting of the ore in the neighborhood of the mines; but it was found that, owing to the want of fuel, and other appliances, it was best to transport the ore to New York or Boston.  The secretary yielded at last to the application – the government still receiving its 6 per cent. of rent, in the metal itself, free of all expense of transportation.

On the 21st of March last, it was determined by the Secretary of War to grant no more permits which would authorize a selection of more than one square mile; and between that time and 18th ult., seven hundred and sixty such permits were issued.  It was then determined to stop the further issue.  The cause of this is expressed in the printed circular from the Secretary of War, which we have already published.  It states that,

“should locations be made pursuant to the permits already issued from this department, to select lands in the Lake Superior mineral district, the quantity required to satisfy them would exceed one million one hundred thousand acres  It is apprehended that the whole region open for lation may not contain this quantity of mineral lands.  Explorations and surveys of these lands have been ordered, and it has been determined to suspend the further issue of permits until the results shall be made known.  The applications for permits received at the department subsequent to the 17th instant, will be filed in the office; and if the disclosures of the examinations shall warrant the further issue of permits for the Lake Superior region, they will be considered in the order in which they have been or shall be received.  It is not expected that the results of the examinations and surveys to ascertain the probable quantity of mineral lands in the region, and to make the locations pursuant to the permits already issued, can be completed for some time to come.”

General Walter Cunningham was replaced by General John Stockton as the Superintendent for this Mineral Agency to reduce corruption there.
WASHINGTON, March 26, 1844.
This is to certify, that on the 1st day of September last, while attending the payment of the Chippewa Indians at Lapointe, Lake Superior, Okondókon, being the head chief of the band of that tribe, and who resided at the mouth of the Ontonagon River, state, in my presence, that he had sold to Julius Eldred, of Detroit, in the summer of 1841, the celebrated copper rock; and that he had received, at the time of the sale, a portion of the sum agreed upo, and that there remained due him one hundred and five dollars, which was to be paid him whenever Mr. Eldred removed the rock to the shore of the lake; which sum of one hundred and five dollars Mr. Eldred did pay to Okondókon a few days thereafter, at the Ontonagon agency, in pursuace of the agreement made between them in 1841.
I further certify, that, on the 10th day of September last, Julius Eldred paid to Messrs. Hammond & Co. seventeen hundred and sixty-five dollars, for the services which they rendered in removing the rock, as well as to obtain peaceable possession of the same.
The removal of this copper rock has been attended with very great risk as well as expense, and is one of the most extraordinary performances of the age, and one which, in my opinion, should entitle him to great praise as well as liberal compensation.
WALTER CUNNINGHAM.
Public Documents Printed by Order of the Senate of the United States: First Session of the Twenty-Eigth Congress, 1844.

It seems that Walter Cunningham, the first superintendent of these lands, kept no record of the permits he granted, or of the selection of tracts to which he certified as not interfering with the claims of others; and, in consequence of the absence of this information, it appears that his successor (Stockton) has, in two or three instances, certified for others, tracts previously certified by Mr. Cunningham; and this has given rise, as may be supposed, to some complaint.  The certificates of the latter have been dropping in for a week or two past, but we know that very few or more can be in existence.

Mr. Gray (the only one of the assistants assigned to the superintendent, who possessed any competent knowledge of the surveying or platting) has been busily engaged in preparing maps, and locating the leases, and claims to leases thereon, to save from the risk of granting certificates which will interfere; and another competent surveyor has recently been sent to that country, in order that the operations may be expedited as fast as possible.  It is also understood that Dr. Houghton is carrying on surveys under the orders of the General Land Office, which will soon extend into Stockton’s district, and will probably throw much additional light upon the extent of this interesting region of country.

The Daily Union’s assertion that Mr. Gray did not mingle with politicians may be false as their regular correspondent being accused of this act, “Morgan,” appears to be a Wisconsin Territory politician named Morgan Lewis Martin.

We are informed that, as regards Mr. Gray’s mingling in any way with politicians, (as was stated by our correspondent of last evening,) it can scarcely be true.  “He is a young man, who has been constantly moving about, and acquired no right to give a vote in any location.  Modest and retiring, he is the last man in the world to do anything of the kind charged upon him.”

It will be seen, from this very rapid sketch, on imperfect data, that the copper region of the United States abounds with interest; that, from the abundance and the richness of the ore, it is probably calculated to furnish copper enough for our own consumption, and for a large exportation to foreign countries.  Of course, great interests are growing up in that wonderful region – much speculation, large companies, strong contests for the possession of the titles – the same mine sometimes shingled over with several claims – some violence and some fraud.  And even the agents of the government have not escaped the suspicion of mismanagement and malversation.  The executive is about to do its duty in these respects.  It is contemplated to employ two highly respectable commissioners to inspect the lands, to receive and investigate all complaints, and make a report to the War Department.  A more complete report also, of the mineral resources of the West, the quality and extent of the mines, and the best way of working them, will probably be obtained, under the auspices of the vigilant Secretary of War, to be submitted to the next Congress.  The statistics will, no doubt, be found valuable; and, in fact, the whole subject is every day assuming a new and a more expanding interest.


Two additional articles were published by The Daily Union on August 2 and August 11 regarding the Copper Region.  They include extensive quotes from United States government agents involved in surveying the Copper Region, but are not directly related to the correspondences of “Morgan” or his accuser “Postea Plus” and therefore are not reproduced here on Chequamegon History.


1845 daily union header

The Daily Union (Washington D.C.)
“Liberty, The Union, And The Constitution.”
August 26, 1845.

[From our regular correspondent.]

GALENA, ILL., August 14, 1845.

Not having time to say more at present about the country through which I passed in coming from the falls of St. Croix to this place, I beg leave to refer to a notice taken of a portion of a letter written by me to the “Union,” from Copper harbor, by some correspondent opposed to Gen. Stockton and Mr. Gray.

It seems that deserved praise bestowed upon these officers of a government has proved offensive to the said correspondent.

I deem his publication worth no other notice than to say, that he speaks falsely and malignantly of “Morgan,” when he attributes his praise of Stockton and Gray to “sinister motives.”

This “small band of speculators” trying to locate a mineral lease at Sault Ste Marie could not be identified.

It is known that an attempt was made by members of a certain small band of speculators to locate a mineral lease on a town site at the falls, or Sault St. Marie, where no copper or other mineral has been found, for the purpose of making a speculation of it.  And when told by Gen. Stockton that it was not put down in the mineral region, that it was beyond his jurisdiction, and that he could not consent to grant a location for it, they got made, spluttered about their influence at Washington, hinted at his removal, &c.  Several other applications were made to him by the same and other parties, equally as absurd and ridiculous, which he had the firmness to deny.  Hence, those foiled in using him to suit their own purposes, are most loud in his condemnation.  They probably wish some pliant tool to occupy his place.

I am glad to see that a commission is to be appointed to visit Copper harbor, for the purpose of investigating the affairs of the mineral agency.  I have no question it is the very thing Gen. Stockton and Mr. Gray themselves would solicit, in the event of charges being made against them, and without the least apprehension as to the result.

I could say more on this subject; but respectfully leave the whole matter in the hands of the government, where it belongs.

Galena, Jo Daviess County, Illinois, was named after the variety of lead ore found deposited there.  The lead mining industry became established here during the 1820s, and this county was the largest extractor of lead in the United States, producing an estimated 80% of the national supply by 1845.

I learn from the worthy superintendent of the United States lead-mines at this place, that he thinks the amount of lead shipped from this district the present year will reach 60,000,000 of pounds, which, at 3 cents per pound, would amount to one million eight hundred thousand dollars.  The quantity shipped last year was 43,000,000 of pounds.

Galena is growing, and, as a thriving business place, may be considered (of its size) one of the first in the western country; containing, as it does for a new place, an intelligent, active, and enterprising population.

Wisconsin State Symbols
“In the early 1800s Southwestern Wisconsin miners were too busy digging the ‘gray gold’ to build houses. Like badgers, they moved into abandoned mine shafts for shelter. As a result, Wisconsin was nicknamed ‘The Badger State.'”

Wisconsin Historical Society

Wisconsin is a flourishing Territory, and is going to make a splendid State, being rich in mineral, in farming land, and in fine timber, with a plenty of good water, health, &c.  Emigrants are pouring into it from all parts of Europe.

Iowa has rejected her constitution, and elected a democratic governor.

I remain yours, very truly and respectfully,

MORGAN.

 


 

To be continued in The Upper Mississippi River

By Amorin Mello

A curious series of correspondences from Morgan

… continued from La Pointe.

 


 

1845 daily union header

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

EDITOR’S CORRESPONDENCE.

(From our regular correspondent.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reverend Edmund Franklin Ely. ~ Duluth Public Library

Reverend Edmund Franklin Ely.
~ Duluth Public Library

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am, very respectfully and sincerely, yours,

MORGAN.

 


 

To be continued in Copper Harbor Redux

By Amorin Mello

A curious series of correspondences from Morgan

… continued from The Copper Region.

 


 

1845 daily union header

The Daily Union (Washington D.C.)
“Liberty, The Union, And The Constitution.”
August 9, 1845.

La Pointe, Lake Superior

July 26, 1845

To the Editor of the Union:

1843 View of La Pointe ~ Wisconsin Historical Society

View of La Pointe, circa 1843.
“American Fur Company with both Mission churches. Sketch purportedly by a Native American youth. Probably an overpainted photographic copy enlargement. Paper on a canvas stretcher.”
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

I have just time to state that, having spent five days at Copper Harbor, examining the copper mine, &c. at that place, and having got everything in readiness, we set off for this place, along the coast, in an open Mackinac boat, travelling by day, and camping out at night.  We reached this post on yesterday, the 25th instant.  We have now been under tents 21 nights.  In coming up the shore of the lake, we on one occasion experienced a tremendous rain accompanied with thunder, which wetted our things to a considerable extent, and partly filled the boat with water.

On our way we spent a good part of a day at Eagle river, and examined the mine in the process of being worked at that place, but found it did not equal our expectations.

We also stopped at the Ontonagon, the mineral region bordering which, some fifteen miles from the lake, promises to be as good as any other portion of the mineral region, if not better.

I have not time at present to enter fully into the results of observations I have made, or to describe the incidents and adventures of the long journey I have performed along the lake shore for the distance of about 500 miles, from Sault Ste. Marie to La Pointe.  There are many things I wish to say, and to describe, &c.; but as the schooner “Uncle Tom,” by which I write, is just about leaving, I have not time at present.  I must reserve these things for a future opportunity.

I am, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

MORGAN.

P.S. – I set off in a day or two for the Mississippi and Falls of St. Anthony, via the Brulé and St. Croix rivers.

Yours, &c., M.

 


 

1845 daily union header

The Daily Union (Washington D.C.)
“Liberty, The Union, And The Constitution.”
August 25, 1845

EDITOR’S CORRESPONDENCE

[From our regular Northern correspondant.]

La Pointe, Lake Superior,

July 28, 1845.

Morgan’s last letter of this date was published earlier on Chequamegon History as The Copper Region for continuity after Copper Harbor.

In what I said in my last letter of this date, in relation to the extent, value, and prospects of the copper-mines opened on Lake Superior, I had no wish to dampen the ardor, would the feelings or injure the interest of any one concerned.  My only wish is to state facts.  This, in all cases, I feel it my duty to do; although, in so doing, as in the present case, my individual interest suffers thereby.  Could I have yielded to the impulses and influences prevailing in the copper region, I might have been greatly benefited in a pecuniary point of view by pursuing a different course ; but, knowing those whom I represented, as well as the public and the press for which I write, wanted the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, I could do nothing less than make the statement I did.  Previous to visiting the country, I could, of course, know nothing of its real character.  I had to judge, like others, from published reports of its mineral wealth, accompanied with specimens, &c., which appeared very flattering; but which, I am now convinced, have been rather overdrawn, and the mineral region set out larger and richer than it really is.  The authors of the reports were, doubtlessly, actuated by pure motives.  They, no doubt, had a wish, in laying down the boundaries of the mineral region, so to extend it as to leave out no knoll or range of trap-rock, or other formation, if any indicative of mineral deposites, which usually appear in connexion with them, occurred.

I consider, in conclusion, that the result thus far is this: that the mines opened may possibly, in their prosecution, lead to rich and permanent veins; and probably pay or yield something, in some cases, while exploring them.  But, however rich the specimens of one raised, at present there is nothing in them, geologically speaking, that indicates, conclusively, that they have reached a vein, or that the mines will continue permanently as rich as they are at present.  This would be my testimony, according to the best of “my knowledge and belief,” on the witness’s stand, under oath.

"The remarkable copper-silver "halfbreed" specimen shown above comes from northern Michigan's Portage Lake Volcanic Series, an extremely thick, Precambrian-aged, flood-basalt deposit that fills up an ancient continental rift valley." ~ Shared from James St. John under the Creative Commons license

“The remarkable copper-silver ‘halfbreed’ specimen shown above comes from northern Michigan’s Portage Lake Volcanic Series, an extremely thick, Precambrian-aged, flood-basalt deposit that fills up an ancient continental rift valley.”
~ Creative Commons from James St. John

That the region, as before said, is rich in copper and silver ores, cannot be denied.  And I think the indications that veins may or do exist somewhere in great richness, are sufficiently evident to justify continued explorations in search of them, by those who have the means and leisure to follow them up  for several years.  To find the veins, and most permanent deposites, must be the work of time; and as the season is short, on Lake Superior, for such operations, several years may be necessary before a proper and practical examination can be made of the country.

The general features of Lake Superior are very striking, and differ very much in appearance from what I have ever met with in any other part of the continent.  The vastness and depth of such a body of pure fresh cold water so far within the continent, is an interesting characteristic.  When we consider it is over 900 feet deep, with an area of over 30,000 square miles, and yet that, throughout its whole extent, it presents as pure and as fresh-tasted water as though it were taken from a mountain brook, the question naturally arises, Where can such a vast supply of pure water come from?  It is true, it has great many streams flowing into it, but they are nearly all quite small, and would seem to be wholly inadequate to supply such a vast mass of water, and preserve it in such a state of purity.  The water supplied by most of the rivers is far less pure than that in the lake itself.  East of Keweena point, we found the water of the rivers discolored, being tinged by pine and other roots, clay, &c., often resembling the hue of New England rum.  Such rivers, or all combined, would seem to be inadequate to supply such a vast quantity of pure clear water as fills this inland ocean!

Uncertainty in the Great Lakes Water Balance (2005)
~ United States Geological Survey

It is possible that this great lake is freely supplied with water from subterranean springs opening into it from below.  The river St. Mary’s also seems inadequate, from its size, to discharge as much water as comes into the lake from the rivers which it receives.  In this case, evaporation may be so great as to diminish the water that would otherwise pass out at it.

As relates to tides in the other lakes, we have nothing to say; but, as far as Lake Superior is concerned, we feel assured, from observation, as well as from the reports of others upon whom we can rely, that there are tides in it – variously estimated at from 8 to 12 inches; influenced, we imagine, by the point of observation, and the season of the year at which such tides are noticed.

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

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

What strikes the voyageur with the most interest, in the way of scenery, is the wild, high, bold, and precipitous coast of the southern shore, for such much of the whole distance between Grand Sable and La Pointe, and, indeed, for some distance beyond La Pointe ; the picturesque appearance of which often seemed heightened to us, as on a clear morning, or late afternoon, or voyageurs would conduct our boat for miles near their bases.  Above us, the cliffs would rise in towering heights, while the bald eagle would be soaring in grand circular flights above their summits; our voyageurs, at the same time, chanting in chorus many of their wildest boat songs, as we glided along on the smooth and silent bosom of the lake.  I have heard songs among various nations, and in various parts of the world; but, whether it was the wild scenery resting in solemn grandeur before me, with the ocean-like waste of water around us, which lent wilderness to the song, I never listened to any which appeared to sing a verse in solo, and then repeat a chorus, in which the whole crew would join.  This would often be continued for several miles at a time, as the boat glided forward over smooth water, or danced along over the gentle swells of a moderate sea; the voyageurs, at the same moment, keeping time with their oars.

Jean Baptiste, our pilot, had an excellent voice, full, loud, and strong.  He generally led off, in singing; the others falling in at the choruses.  All their songs were in French, sometimes sentimental or pathetic, sometimes comic, and occasionally extempore, made, as sung, from the occurrences of the preceding day, or suggested by passing scenes.

The Chippewa Indians are poor singers; yet they have songs (such as they are) among them; one of which is a monotonous air repeated at their moccasin games.

Stereographic view of a moccasin game, by J. H. Hamilton, circa 1880. ~ University of Minnesota Duluth

Stereographic view of a moccasin game, by J. H. Hamilton, 1880. 
~ University of Minnesota Duluth

Next to the love of liquor, many of the Indians have a most unconquerable passion for gambling.  While at La Pointe, I had an opportunity of seeing them play their celebrated moccasin game.  They were to the number of two, or three aside, seated on the ground opposite to each other, which a blanket spread out between them, on which were placed four or five moccasins.  The had two lead bullets, one of which was made rough, while the other remained smooth.  Two f the gamesters were quite young men, with their faces painted with broad horizontal red and blue stripes, their eyelashes at the same time being dyed of a dark color.  They played the game, won and lost, with as much sang froid as old and experienced gamblers.  Those who sat opposite, especially one of them, was much older, but no means a match, at the time of my visit, for the young rascals, his antagonists.  One takes the balls in his hands, keeps his eye directly on the countenance of the opposite party, at the same time tossing the balls in his hands, and singing, in a changing voice, words which sound somewhat like “He-he-hy-er-he-he-hy-er-haw-haw-haw-yer.  He-he-hy-er,” &c.  During which he keeps raising, shifting, and putting down the moccasins, till, finally, he raises his hands, having succeeded in concealing the balls under two of the moccasins, for which the other proceeds to search; and if he succeeds, on the first trial, in finding the rough ball, he wins.  Then he takes the balls to hide, and commences singing himself.  If he fails, he loses; and the first party repeats the song and the secretion of the balls.  They hold in their hands small bundles of splinters of wood.  When one loses, he gives to the winner so many sticks of wood.  A certain number of them gained by any one of the party, wins the game.  When I saw them, they had staked up their beads, belts, garters, knife-cases, &c.  Their love of gaming is so strong, as to cause them to bet and lose everything they possess in the world – often stripping the last blanket from their naked backs, to stake on the game.  It is said that some Indians acquire so much dexterity at this game, that others addicted to it refuse to play with them.  In playing the game, they keep up a close watch on each other’s eyes, as being the best index to the movement of the hands.  The song is repeated, no doubt, to diver the attention of the antagonists.

Among other peculiarities of Lake Superior, and one of its greatest recommendations, is the abundance and superiority of its fish, consisting of trout of large size, white fish, siskomit, ( a species of salmon,) and bass.  The trout and siskomit are the finest and noblest fresh-water fish I ever saw.  Almost every day we could catch trout by trailing a hook and line in the water behind out boat.  In this way we caught one fine siskomit.  Its meat, when fresh-cooked, we found about the color of salmon.  The fish itself is about as heavy as a common-sized salmon, but less flat, being more round in form.

Detail of "The 12 Apostles" from Captain Jonathan Carver's journal of his travels with maps and drawings, 1766. ~ Boston Public Library

Detail of “The 12 Apostles” from Captain Jonathan Carver’s journal of his travels with maps and drawings, 1766.
~ Boston Public Library

If you will look at a map of Lake Superior, you will find, near its upper end, a labyrinth of islands, called by the early French voyageurs, of whom P. Charlevoix was one, (a Jesuit,) “the Madelaine islands.”  They are sometimes called “the Twelve Apostles.”  The largest island is now generally known as “the Madelaine island” – being the largest of the group.  Just inside, and near its southern extremity, at the head of a large, regular bay, with a sandy beach, with an open and gently-rising scattered pine and spruce land in the rear of the beach, stands La Pointe – one of the most pleasant, beautiful, and desirable places for a residence on Lake Superior, and the very place where Fort Wilkins should have been placed, instead of its present location, which must be conceded, by every impartial person, to be among the very worst that could have been selected on the whole lake.

The garrison at Copper harbor, located, as it is, upon the rocky surface of trap conglomerate, affording a surface so scantily supplied with soil amidst masses of pebbly rock and trap fragments as to be wholly unfit for any sort of cultivation whatever, is altogether out of place.  It is wholly inaccessible by land, and can only be reached by water in summer.  It is at a spot where Indians usually never passed within forty miles of it, till since its occupation.

Detail of the mail route between La Pointe and St. Croix falls. ~ A new map of the State of Wisconsin, by Thomas, Cowperthwait & Co., 1850

Detail of the Indian trail or “mail route” between La Pointe and St. Anthony Falls.
~ A new map of the State of Wisconsin, by Thomas, Cowperthwait & Co., 1850

The very next Congress should direct its prompt removal to La Pointe.  Here, from the foot of the bay in front of the Madelaine island, there is an Indian trail, connecting La Pointe with St. Anthony’s Falls, and over which the mail is carried in winter by voyageurs on foot.  La Pointe is the favorite resort of the Indians.  Their lodges, in villages, bark canoes, &c. are found here the year round.

They delight to paddle and sail their canoes about the beautiful bays, harbors, &c. of these islands, employing their time in canoe building, hunting, fishing, &c.  At every annual payment of their annuities, they flock to La Pointe in great numbers.  Not only is that section of the great Chippewa nation sharing in the annuities brought together, but large parties of the same tribe, who receive no annuity, come at the same time from the British possessions to the north of Pigeon river.  The Chippewas, called the “Pillageurs,” (so called from their thievish propensities,) inhabiting the country about Mille and Leech lakes, also attend – to meet relations, to traffic , and, perhaps, to steal a little.  The great advantage of a government outpost is felt in the moral effect it exercises over the Indians.  I know of no place where this influence would be more decidedly and beneficially exerted than at La Pointe.  here should be daily unfurled the “stars and stripes,” and the sound of the evening gun be heard over the beautiful bays, and along the shores of the Twelve Apostles, which the Indians would learn to reverence with little less respect than they do the voice of the Manitou – the guardian spirit of the mines, embowelled in the dark trap hills of the lake.

Here, too, is an exceedingly healthy place, a good soil, and every convenience for raising the finest potatoes, turnips, and every kind of garden stuff.

borup

1856 oil painting of Doctor Charles William Wulff Borup, a native of Copenhagen, Denmark.  Borup married Elizabeth Beaulieu, a Lake Superior Chippewa daughter of Bazil Hudon Beaulieu and Ogimaagizzhigokwe.  Borup and his brothers-in-law Charles Henry Oakes and Clement Hudon Beaulieu were co-signers of the 1842 Treaty with the Chippewa at La Pointe.  Borup and Oakes became the first bankers of Minnesota.

Dr. Borup, the agent for the American Fur Company, (who have an extensive trading-post at this place,) has a superb garden.  In walking through it with him, I saw very fine crops of the usual garden vegetables growing in it.  His red currant bushes were literally bent down beneath their weight of ripe fruit.  His cherry-trees had also borne well.  Gooseberries also succeed well.  The doctor also had some young apple-trees, that were in a thriving condition.  Poultry, likewise, does well.  Mrs. B. had her yard well stocked with turkeys, geese, ducks, and chickens.  There was also a good garden at the mission-house of the American board.

However infinitely better is such a place for a United States garrison than Copper harbor, located, as it were, on a barren rock, where no Indians are seen, unless induced to go there by the whites – where there is nothing to protect – where intercourse is cut off in winter, and food can only reach it in summer – where there is no soil on which to raise a potato or a cabbage.  I can only say that a greater blunder, in the location of a military post, was probably never committed.  And if made (of which I am assured it was not) by a military man, he ought to be court-martialed and cashiered.

The mouth of the Ontonagon river is a far better spot for the fort than Copper harbor.  It has a good soil, and a beautiful site for a fort.  Furthermore, the country between it and Fort Winnebago, on the Wisconsin river, is favorable to the construction of a military road, which ought, at no distant day, to be opened.  Another road should be cut from Fort Snelling, near the falls of St. Anthony, to La Pointe.  In cutting these roads, it would seem to me as if the United States soldiers themselves might be usefully employed.

Fort Wilkins (1844-1870) – First established in 1844 at Copper Harbor in Keweenaw County, Michigan. Constructed by two companies of the 5th U.S. Infantry under General Hugh Brady and Captain R.E. Cleary. Named after Secretary of War William Wilkins. Abandoned in 1870.”
~ FortWiki.com

While at Copper harbor, I frequently visited Fort Wilkins, in command of Captain Cleary, whom I consider in every way an ornament and an honor to the service.  In the brief space of time he has been at this post, and with the slender materials at command afforded by the country, he has nevertheless succeeded in making an “oasis” in a wilderness.  He has erected one of the neatest, most comfortable, and best-planned garrisons it has been my lot to enter on the western frontier.  He keeps all in excellent condition.  His men look clean, healthy, and active.  He drills them daily, and keeps them under most excellent discipline.  He seems to take both pleasure and ride in the service.  He says he never has any difficulty with is soldiers while he can exclude ardent spirits from them, as he succeeds in doing here, notwithstanding the great number of visitors to Copper harbor this summer.

To all travellers who are interested in objects of leading curiosity, the character of the Indians they fall in with cannot fail to arrest a share of attention.

The Chippewas are the only Indians now met with from the Sault Ste. Marie and Mackinac, extending from thence west along the southern shore of Lake Superior, to Fond du Lac, and from thence, in the same direction, to the Mississippi river.  Within the United States they extend over the country south from the British boundary, to the country low down on the St. Croix and Chippewa rivers.  The same tribe extends from our boundary northwest of the lake, entirely around its northern shore on British territory, till they reach the Sault Ste. Marie, opposite the American shore.  It is said this tribe, spread over such a vast tract of country, is a branch of the powerful race of the Algonquins.  They are sometimes called O-jib-was.  They do not exist as a consolidated nation, or strictly as a confederation of bands.  The entire nation on both sides of the line is divided into a great number of bands, with a chief at the head of each, which not uncommonly go by his name, such as “Old Martin’s band,” “Hole in the Day’s band,” &c.

Big Marten (Gichi-waabizheshi ), his son(?) Little Marten (Waabizheshiins), and their band(s) were featured in The Copper Region.
Hole-In-The-Day the Elder (Bagone-giizhig) (1801-1847) was the father of Hole-In-The-Day the Younger (1825-1868).  They and their band(s) were among the Pillageurs.

The chief’s son, especially if he exhibits the right qualities, is expected to succeed his father at the head of the band; but very frequently the honor is reached by usurpation.  The whole nation, which widely differ in circumstances, according to the part of the country they inhabit, nevertheless all speak the Chippewa language, and have extensive connexion by marriage, &c.  The bands inhabiting the southern shore of Lake Superior are by far the best of any others.  Though polygamy still prevails among them, and especially among their chiefs, it is nevertheless said to be becoming less common, especially where they are much influenced by Catholic and other missions.  While at La Pointe, an Indian wedding was consummated, being conducted according to the ceremonies of the Catholic church, and performed by the missionary priest of that persuasion stationed at the Pointe.

There is one trait of character possessed by the Chippewas, (if we except, perhaps, the band of “pillageurs,” who have a kind of “Bedouin Arab” reputation among their countrymen,) which, I am sorry to say, the whites do not possess in an equal degree – that is, “very great honesty.”

White men can travel among them with the most perfect safety as to life and property.  I will venture to say, that a man may carry baskets filled with gold and silver, and set them down in Indian villages, or leave them lying where he likes, or go to sleep by them, with Indians encamped all around him, and not one cent will be touched.  Such a thing as a house being broken open and robbed at a Chippewa Indian trading-post was never heard of – within between two and three years’ intercourse with them – in time of peace.  Dr. Borup said he would not be afraid, if concealed to look on, to leave his store door open all night; and the fact alone of its being left open, might be made known to the Indians at the Pointe.  He would expect to see no Indian enter the store, nor would he expect to lose anything; such was his confidence in their honesty!!

Prices of goods at La Pointe were artificially inflated by Indian traders because they lacked competition in this remote region and could be reimbursed with treaty annuities.  Read the 1848 La Pointe Annuity Payments to learn more about Borup’s role in these corrupt affairs.

Last winter, flour at the Pointe rose to $40 per barrel.  The poor Indians were nearly famished for bread, but were unable to purchase it at such a price.  They knew the American Fur Company had a considerable lot in store, guarded by nothing stronger than a padlock, yet they never offered the least violence towards the company’s agents or store!  Would white people have acted as honestly?  The poor Indians, by nature honest, have too often known the whites by the wrongs inflicted upon them, which God can forgive, but time can never blot out!  They are very superstitious, but not as basely and insanely so, but a great deal, as the Mormons, Millerites, and other moon-stricken sects among the whites.  They believe in one Great and Good Spirit, or a Being who can at will inflict good or evil on mankind; and there’s an end of it.  They often denominate the mysterious spirit of evil import the Manitou, making him to dwell in the wild hills, islands, grottoes, and caves of Lake Superior.

“In the rugged mountains of the Penokee Iron Range near Hurley in Iron County, in the former domain of the Chippewa Indians, were the reputed nesting places of the Thunderers (wassamowin lightning makers).
From these huge birds the Indians obtained their first knowledge of fire, which they kindled with fire-sticks. These mythical birds were the most powerful of the animal deities of the Indians of the woodlands and of the plains. When the weather was stormy they flew about high in the heavens. When they flapped their great wings, one heard the crashes of thunder, when they opened and closed their eyes flashes of lightning were seen. Some carried lakes of water on their backs, these slopped over and caused downpours of rain.  Their arrows, or thunderbolts, were the eggs which they dropped in their flight. These shattered the rocks and set fire to the forests and prairies.
A Chippewa Indian hunter, who was carried away to his nest by a Thunderer, saved his life by killing one of the young birds and flying back to earth in its feathered hide.
In the Smoky Mountains, a wild and rugged region in the southwestern part of Bayfield County, was the home of Winneboujou (Nenebozho), the fabled hero of the Ojibwa Indians. This all-powerful manitou was a blacksmith, and had his forge on the flat top of the highest mountain. Here he shaped the native copper of the Lake Superior region into useful implements for his Indian children. Much of his work at his forge was done at night, and the ringing blows of his great hammer could be heard throughout the Brule Valley and Lake Superior region. The fire of his forge reddened the sky. When he was not busy at his forge he was away hunting or seeking other adventures. Many stories of the exploits of this giant manitou have been told by the Chippewa and other Wisconsin Algonquian tribes.”
~ Legends of the Hills of Wisconsin by Dorothy Moulding Brown; The Wisconsin Archaeologist, Volume 18, Number 1, 1937, pages 20-21.

At times, it is said, a peculiar noise issues from the Porcupine mountains, and from the high hills on the main land, both east and west of La Pointe, some distance off.  It is said to resemble the distant discharge of ordnance, or thunder.  At one time, they said it was so loud and frequent, that they mistook it for signal guns fired from the brig Astor, which they thought might be in distress, and actually sent out a boat in search of her.

"Ojibwe shoulder pouch depicting two thunderbirds in quillwork, Peabody Museum Harvard." ~ Commons.Wikimedia.org

“Ojibwe shoulder pouch depicting two thunderbirds in quillwork, Peabody Museum, Harvard University.”
~ Commons.Wikimedia.org

These sounds the Indians believe to be the voice of the spirit “Manitou,” who guards the deposites of mineral wealth embowelled beneath the hills, and to whom any attempt made to dig them up, and carry them off, would be highly offensive, and followed by some kind of punishment.  I have never yet heard of an Indian’s leading a white man to a locality of copper, or telling where he has found a piece when picked up!

Some have supposed that the noise in question arises from volcanic action; but, as no vibration is felt in the earth, and no other proof exists of such being the case, we are led to believe that the noise is produced by the lashing of the waves of the lake after a storm, as they are driven forward into the grottoes, caves, &c. of the tall sandstone cliffs, formed at their bases by the disintegrating effects of water and ice.  Some distance east of La Pointe, about the Little Girl’s Point and Montreal river, as well as west of the same place, some fifteen or twenty miles, high red sandstone cliffs occur.  At their bases, near the water’s edge, a great many curiously-shaped caves and grottoes appeared.  In places, the sandstone had been so cut away, that only pillars remained standing at some ten or fifteen feet in the lake, from the top of which a high rude arch would extend to the main shore, and beneath which boats could  easily pass.  This was particularly the case near where the islands are parted with going west up the southern shore of the lake.  Some caves, with small openings for mouths, run for a long distance back beneath the hills, expanding, likely, into large halls with high vaulted roofs, &c.  After a storm, a heavy sea continues to roll into these grottoes and caverns, the waves lashing themselves against their sides and roofs – thus producing sounds resembling those heard at La Pointe, &c.

As the weather is generally calm after a storm, before the sea goes down, it is likely at such times these sounds are heard.

We had occasion to pass these places when a considerable sea would be on, close to the cliffs, and could hear the hollow heavy sounds of the waves as they broke into the caverns within the cliffs and hills.  Every day, while we remained, parties of Indians continued to arrive, to be present at the payment.

James P. Hays was in charge of the La Point Indian Subagency (1844-1848).

We finally became prepared to leave for the Mississippi, having bought two bark canoes, and hired four new voyageurs – two for each canoe – one Indian, one half-breed, and two descendants of Canadian French; and, with a stock of provisions, we were ready to be off.  From this place, I sent back three voyageurs to the Sault Ste. Marie, all that I hired to come as far as La Pointe.  So, after paying our respects to Mr. Hays, our worthy Indian agent, and to Dr. Borup, (to both of whom I had borne letters of introduction,) and having many “bon voyages” heaped upon us by our friends and the friends of the voyageurs, we bade adieu to La Pointe.

You will not hear from me again till I reach the Falls of St. Croix.

I am yours, very truly, &c.

MORGAN.

 


 

To be continued in Saint Croix Falls

By Amorin Mello

A curious series of correspondences from Morgan

… continued from Copper Harbor.

 


 

1845 daily union header

The Daily Union (Washington D.C.)
“Liberty, The Union, And The Constitution.”
August 21, 1845.

 EDITOR’S CORRESPONDENCE.

[From our Regular Correspondent.]

THE COPPER REGION.

La Pointe, Lake Superior

July 28, 1845.

In my last brief letter from this place, I had not time to notice many things which I desired to describe. I have now examined the whole coast of the southern shore of Lake Superior, extending from the Sault Ste. Marie to La Pointe, including a visit to the Anse, and the doubling of Keweena point. During the trip, as stated previously, we had camped out twenty-one nights. I examined the mines worked by the Pittsburg company at Copper harbor, and those worked by the Boston company at Eagle river, as well as picked up all the information I could about other portions of the mineral district, both off and on shore. The object I had in view when visiting it, was to find out, as near as I could, the naked facts in relation to it. The distance of the lake-shore traversed by my part to La Pointe was about five hundred miles – consuming near four weeks’ time to traverse it. I have still before me a journey of three or four hundred miles before I reach the Mississippi river, by the way of the Brulé and St. Croix rivers. I know the public mind has been recently much excited in relation to the mineral region of country of Lake Superior, and that a great many stories are in circulation about it. I know, also, that what is said and published about it, will be read with more or less interest, especially by parties who have embarked in any of the speculations which have been got up about it. It is due to truth and candor, however, for me to declare it as my opinion, that the whole country has been overrated. That copper is found scattered over the country equal in extent to the trap-rock hills and conglomerate ledges, either in its native state, or in the form of a black oxide, as a green silicate, and, perhaps, in some other forms, cannot be denied;- but the difficulty, so far, seems to be that the copper ores are too much diffused, and that no veins such as geologist would term permanent have yet positively been discovered.

Detail of a Survey of Location No. 4 for the Pittsburgh & Boston Copper Harbor Mining Co. (Image digitized by the Detroit Public Library Burton Historical Collection for The Cliff Mine Archeology Project Blog).

Detail of a Survey of Location No. 4 for the Pittsburgh & Boston Copper Harbor Mining Co. Image digitized by the Detroit Public Library Burton Historical Collection for The Cliff Mine Archeology Project Blog.

The richest copper ore yet found is that raised from a vein of black oxide, at Copper harbor, worked by the Pittsburg company, which yields about seventy per cent. of pure copper. But this conglomerate cementation of trap-rock, flint, pebbles, &c., and sand, brought together in a fused black mass, (as is supposed, by the overflowings of the trap, of which the hills are composed near this place,) is exceedingly hard and difficult to blast. An opinion seems to prevail among many respectable geologist, that metallic veins found in conglomerate are never thought to be very permanent. Doctor Pettit, however, informed me that he had traced the vein for near a mile through the conglomerate, and into the hill of trap, across a small lake in the rear of Fort Wilkins. The direction of the vein is from northwest to southeast through the conglomerate, while the course of the lake-shore and hills at this place varies little from north and south. Should the doctor succeed in opening a permanent vein in the hill of trap opposite, of which he is sanguine, it is probable this mine will turn out to be exceedingly valuable. As to these matters, however, time alone, with further explorations, must determine. The doctor assured me that he was at present paying his way, in merely sinking shafts over the vein preparatory to mining operations; which he considered a circumstance favorable to the mine, as this is not of common occurrence.

The mines at Copper harbor and Eagle river are the only two as yet sufficiently broached to enable one to form any tolerably accurate opinion as to their value or prospects.

Edward Larned was the General Agent, and Charles Larned was the sub-Agent, of the New York and Lake Superior Mining Company.
Geologist James Eights “examined several claims of the New York and Lake Superior Mining Company, a group headquartered in Albany, and reported to the company’s trustee, General Gerrit V. Denniston, encouraging estimates that were included in the company’s first annual report.”
~ Encyclopedia of the Earth

Other companies are about commencing operations, or talk of doing so – such as a New York, or rather Albany company, calling themselves “The New York and Lake Superior Mining Company,” under the direction of Mr. Larned, of Albany, in whose service Dr. Euhts has been employed as geologist. They have made locations at various points – at Dead river, Agate harbor, and at Montreal river. I believe they have commenced mining to some extent at Agate harbor.

Joab Bernard was a Trustee of the Boston Mining Company.

One or two other Boston companies, besides that operating at Eagle river, have been formed with the design of operating at other points. Mr. Bernard, formerly of St. Louis, is at the head of one of them. Besides these, there is a kind of Detroit company, organized, it is said, for operating on the Ontonagon river. It has its head, I believe, in Detroit, and its tail almost everywhere. I have not heard of their success in digging, thus far; though they say they have found some valuable mines. Time must determine that. I wish it may be so.

Boston Mining Company stock issued by Joab Bernard. ~ Copper Country Reflections

Boston Mining Company stock issued by Joab Bernard in 1846.
~ Copper Country Reflections

From Copper harbor, I paid a visit to Eagle river – a small stream inaccessible to any craft larger than a moderate-sized Mackinac boat. There is only the open lake for a roadstead off its mouth, and no harbor nearer than Eagle harbor, some few miles to the east of it. In passing west from Copper harbor along the northern shore of Keweena point, the coast, almost from the extremity of Keweena point, to near Eagle river, is an iron-bound coast, presenting huge, longitudinal, black, irregular-shaped masses of trap-conglomerate, often rising up ten or fifteen feet high above water, at some distance from the main shore, leaving small sounds behind them, with bays, to which there are entrances through broken continuities of the advanced breakwater-like ledges. Copper harbor is thus formed by Porter’s island, on which the agency has been so injudiciously placed, and which is nothing but a conglomerate island of this character; with its sides next the lake raised by Nature, so as to afford a barrier against the waves that beat against it from without. The surface of the island over the conglomerate is made up of a mass of pebbles and fragmentary rock, mixed with a small portion of earth, wholly or quite incapable of cultivation. Fort Wilkins is located about two miles from the agency, on the main land, between which and the fort communication in winter is difficult, if not impossible. Of the inexcusable blunder made in putting this garrison on its present badly-selected site, I shall have occasion to speak hereafter.

"Grand Sable Dunes" ~ National Park Service

“Grand Sable Dunes”
~ National Park Service

In travelling up the coast from Sault Ste. Marie, the first 50 or 100 miles, the shore of Lake Superior exhibits, for much of the distance, a white sandy beach, with a growth of pines, silver fir, birch, &c., in the rear. This beach is strewed in places with much whitened and abraded drift-wood, thrown high on the banks by heavy waves in storms, and the action of ice in winter. This drift-wood is met with, at places, from one end of the lake to the other, which we found very convenient for firewood at our encampments. The sand on the southern shore terminates, in a measure, at Grand Sables, which are immense naked pure sand-hills, rising in an almost perpendicular form next to the lake, of from 200 to 300 feet high. Passing this section, we come to white sand-stone in the Pictured Rocks. Leaving these, we make the red sand-stone promontories and shore, at various points from this section, to the extreme end of the lake. It never afterwards wholly disappears. Between promontories of red stone are headlands, &c., standing out often in long, high irregular cliffs, with traverses of from 6, 7, to 8 miles from one to the other, while a kind of rounded bay stretches away inland, having often a sandy beach at its base, with pines growing in the forest in the rear. Into these bays, small rivers, nearly or quite shut in summer with sand, enter the lake.

The first trap-rock we met with, was near Dead river, and at some few points west of it. We then saw no more of it immediately on the coast, till we made the southern shore of Keweena point. All around the coast by the Anse, around Keweena bay, we found nothing but alternations of sand beaches and sand-stone cliffs and points. The inland, distant, and high hills about Huron river, no doubt, are mainly composed of trap-rock.

Going west from Eagle river, we soon after lost both conglomerate and trap-rock, and found, in their stead, our old companions – red sand-stone shores, cliffs, and promontories, alternating with sandy or gravelly beaches.

Detail of Ontonagon River, “Paul's Cabin,” the Ontonagon Boulder, and the Porcupine Mountains from Map of the Mineral Lands Upon Lake Superior Ceded to the United States by the Treaty of 1842 With the Chippeway Indians. ~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Detail of the Ontonagon River, “Paul’s Cabin,” the Ontonagon Boulder, and the Porcupine Mountains from Map of the Mineral Lands Upon Lake Superior Ceded to the United States by the Treaty of 1842 With the Chippeway Indians.
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Major Campbell and the U.S. Mineral Agency appear to have been located at the mouth of the Ontonagon River, but were primarily based at Copper Harbor.

The trap-rock east and west of the Portage river rises with, and follows, the range of high hills running, at most points irregularly, from northeast to southwest, parallel with the lake shore. It is said to appear in the Porcupine mountain, which runs parallel with Iron river, and at right angles to the lake shore. This mountain is so named by the Indians, who conceived its principal ridge bore a likeness to a porcupine; but, to my fancy, it bears a better resemblance to a huge hog, with its snout stuck down at the lake-shore, and its back and tail running into the interior. This river and mountain are found about twenty miles west of the Ontonagon river, which is said to be the largest stream that empties into the lake. The site for a farm, or the location of an agency, at its mouth, is very beautiful, and admirably suited for either purpose. The soil is good; the river safe for the entrance and secure anchorage of schooners, and navigable to large barges and keel-boats for twelve miles above its mouth. The trap range, believed to be as rich in copper ores as any part of Lake Superior, crosses this river near its forks, about fifteen miles above its mouth. The government have organized a mineral agency at its mouth, and appointed Major Campbell as agent to reside at it; than whom, a better selection could not have been made.

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

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

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

Detail of the Montreal River, La Pointe, and Chequamegon bay from from Map of the Mineral Lands Upon Lake Superior Ceded to the United States by the Treaty of 1842 With the Chippeway Indians.
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

The nearest approach the trap-rock hills make to the lake-shore, beyond the Porcupine mountain, is on the Montreal river, a short distance above the falls. Beyond Montreal river, to La Pointe, we found red-clay cliffs, based on red sand-stone, to occur. Indeed, this combination frequently occurred at various sections of the coast – beginning, first, some miles west of the Portage.

From Copper harbor to Agate harbor is called 7 miles; to Eagle river, 20 miles; to the Portage, 40 miles; to the Ontonagon, 80 miles; to La Pointe, from Copper harbor, 170 miles. From the latter place to the river Brulé is about 70 miles; up which we expect to ascend for 75 miles, make a portage of three miles to the St. Croix river, and descend that for 300 miles to the Mississippi river.

Painting of Douglass Houghton by Robert Thom. Houghton first explored the south shore of Lake Superior in 1840. Houghton died on Lake Superior during a storm on October 13, 1845. The city of Houghton on Chequamegon Bay was named in his honor.

Painting of Professor Douglass Houghton by Robert Thom. Houghton first explored the south shore of Lake Superior in 1840, and died on Lake Superior during a storm on October 13, 1845. Chequamegon Bay’s City of Houghton was named in his honor, and is now known as Houghton Falls State Natural Area.

Going back to Eagle river, at the time of our visit, we found at the mine Mr. Henshaw, Mr. Williams, and Dr. Jackson of Boston, and Dr. Houghton of Michigan, who was passing from Copper harbor to meet his men at his principal camp on Portage river, which he expected to reach that night. The doctor is making a rapid and thorough survey of the country. This work he is conducting in a duplicate manner, under the authority of the United States government. It is both a topographical and geological survey. All his surveyors carry sacks, into which they put pieces of rock broken from every prominent mass they see, and carry into camp at night, for the doctor’s examination, from which he selects specimens for future use. The doctor, from possessing extraordinary strength of constitution, can undergo exposure and fatigue sufficient to break down some of the hardiest men that can be found in the West. He wears his beard as long as a Dunkard’s; has a coat and patched pants made of bed ticking; wears a flat-browned ash-colored, wool hat, and a piece of small hemp cord off a guard chain; and, with two half-breed Indians and a small dog as companions, embarks in a small bark, moving and travelling along the lake shore with great celerity.

THE PHŒNIX MINE.
Probably no company on Lake Superior has had a longer and harder struggle against adversity than the Phœnix. The original concern, the Lake Superior Copper Company, was among the first which operated at Lake Superior after the relinquishment of the Indian rights to this country in 1843. The trustees of this early organization were David Henshaw and Samuel Williams of Boston, and D. G. Jones and Col. Chas. H. Gratiot, of Detroit; Dr. Charles T. Jackson examined the veins on the property, and work was begun in the latter part of the year 1844. The company met with bad luck from the start, and, the capital stock having become exhausted, it has been reorganized several times in the course of its history.”
~ The Lake Superior Copper Properties: A Guide to Investors and Speculators in in Lake Superior Copper Shares Giving History, Products, Dividend Record and Future Outlook for Each Property, by Henry M. Pinkham, 1888, page 9.

We all sat down to dinner together, by invitation of Mr. Williams, and ate heartily of good, wholesome fare.

After dinner we paid a visit to the shafts at the mine, sunk to a considerable depth in two or three places. Only a few men were at work on one of the shafts; the others seemed to be employed on the saw-mill erecting near the mouth of the river. Others were at work in cutting timbers, &c.

They had also a crushing-mill in a state of forwardness, near the mine.

It is what has been said, and put forth about the value of this mineral deposite, which has done more to incite and feed the copper fever than all other things put together.

Portrait of Doctor Charles Thomas Jackson; Plate 11 of Contributions to the History of American Geology, opposite page 290.

Professor Charles Thomas Jackson
~ Contributions to the History of American Geology, plate 11, opposite page 290.

Dr. Jackson was up here last year, and has this year come up again in the service of the company. Without going very far to explore the country elsewhere, he has certainly been heard to make some very extravagant declarations about this mine,- such as that he “considered it worth a million of dollars;” that some of the ore raised was “worth $2,000 or $3,000 per ton!” So extravagant have been the talk and calculations about this mine, that shares (in its brief lease) have been sold, it is said, for $500 per share! – or more, perhaps!! No doubt, many members of the company are sincere, and actually believe the mine to be immensely valuable. Mr. Williams and General Wilson, both stockholders, strike a trade between themselves. One agrees or offers to give the other $36,000 for his interest, which the other consents to take. This transaction, under some mysterious arrangement, appears in the newspapers, and is widely copied.

Without wishing to give an opinion as to the value and permanency of this mine, (in which many persons have become, probably, seriously involved,) even were I as well qualified to do so as some others, I can only state what are the views of some scientific and practical gentlemen with whom I fell in while in the country, who were from the eastern cities, and carefully examined the famous Eagle river silver and copper mine. I do not allude to Dr. Houghton; for he declines to give an opinion to any one about any part of the country.

"The remarkable copper-silver "halfbreed" specimen shown above comes from northern Michigan's Portage Lake Volcanic Series, an extremely thick, Precambrian-aged, flood-basalt deposit that fills up an ancient continental rift valley." ~ Shared from James St. John under the Creative Commons license

“The remarkable copper-silver ‘halfbreed’ specimen shown above comes from northern Michigan’s Portage Lake Volcanic Series, an extremely thick, Precambrian-aged, flood-basalt deposit that fills up an ancient continental rift valley.”
~ Shared with a Creative Commons license from James St. John

They say this mine is a deposite mine of native silver and copper in pure trap-rock, and no vein at all; that it presents the appearance of these metals being mingled broadcast in the mass of trap-rock; that, in sinking a shaft, the constant danger is, that while a few successive blasts may bring up very rich specimens of the metals, the succeeding blast or stroke of the pick-axe may bring up nothing but plain rock. In other words, that, in all such deposite mines, including deposition of diffused particles of native meteals, there is no certainly their PERMANENT character. How far this mine will extend through the trap, or how long it will hold out, is a matter of uncertainty. Indeed, time alone will show.

It is said metallic veins are most apt to be found in a permanent form where the mountain limestone and trap come in contact.

I have no prejudice against the country, or any parties whatever. I sincerely wish the whole mineral district, and the Eagle mine in particular, were as rich as it has been represented to be. I should like to see such vast mineral wealth as it has been held forth to be, added to the resources of the country.

Doctor William Pettit was a Trustee of the Pittsburg and Boston Copper Harbor Mining Company.

Unless Dr. Pettit has succeeded in fixing the vein of black oxide in the side of the mountain or hill, it is believed by good judges that no permanent vein has yet been discovered, as far as has come to their knowledge, in the country!! That much of the conglomerate and trap-rock sections of the country, however, presents strong indications and widely diffused appearances of silver and copper ores, cannot be denied; and from the great number of active persons engaged in making explorations, it is possible, if not probable, that valuable veins may be discovered in some portions of the country.

To find such out, however, if they exist, unless by accident, must be the work of time and labor – perhaps of years – as the interior is exceedingly difficult, or rather almost impossible, to examine, on account of the impenetrable nature of the woods.

During our long and tedious journey, we were favored with a good deal of fine weather. We however experienced, first and last, five or six thunderstorms, and some tolerably severe gales.

Coasting for such a great length, and camping out at night, was not without some trials and odd incidents – mixed with some considerable hardships.

This beach is by Little Girls’ Point.

On the night before we reached La Pointe, we camped on a rough pebbly beach, some six or eight miles east of Montreal river, under the lea of some high clay cliffs. We kindled our fire on what appeared to be a clear bed of rather large and rounded stones, at the mouth of a gorge in the cliffs.

Topographic map of the gorge at Little Girls Point County Park. ~ United States Geological Society

Topographic map of the gorge in the cliffs at Little Girl’s Point County Park.
~ United States Geological Survey

Next morning early, the fire was rekindled at the same spot, although some rain had falled in the night it being still cloudy, and heavy thunder rolling, indicating an approaching storm. I had placed some potatoes in the fire to roast, while some of the voyageurs were getting other things ready for breakfast; but before we could get anything done, the rain down upon us in torrents. We soon discovered that we had kindled our fire in the bed of a wet weather creek. The water rapidly rose, put out the fire, and washed away my potatoes.

“Indian pone or cake” is frybread, adapted from bannock, which was introduced by fur traders, possibly with Scottish or British origins.

We had then to kindle a new fire at a higher place, which was commenced at the end of a small crooked log. One of the voyageurs had set the frying-pan on the fire with an Indian pone or cake an inch thick, and large enough to cover the bottom it. The under side had begun to bake; another hand had mixed the coffee, and set the coffee-pot on to boil; while a third had been nursing a pot boiling with pork and potatoes, which, as we were detained by rain, the voyageurs thought best to prepare for two meals. One of the part, unfortunately, not observing the connexion between the crooked pole, and the fire at the end of it, jumped with his whole weight on it, which caused it suddenly to turn. In its movement, it turned the frying-pan completely over on the sand, with its contents, which became plastered to the dirt. The coffee-pot was also trounced bottom upwards, and emptied its contents on the sand. The pot of potatoes and pork, not to be outdone, turned over directly into the fire, and very nearly extinguished it. We had, in a measure, to commence operations anew, it being nearly 10 o’clock before we could get breakfast. When near the Madelaine islands, (on the largest of which La Pointe is situated,) the following night, our pilot, amidst the darkness of the evening, got bewildered for a time, when we thought best to land and camp; which, luckily for us, was at a spot within sight of La Pointe. Many trifling incidents of this character befell us in our long journey.

Legend of the Montreal River is a story about an Indian settlement at the mouth of the Montreal River.
Gichi-waabizheshi (Big Marten) is an example of how Chippewa bands and their leaders were not fixed to one position – geographically or politically – and changed fluidly over time.
 1842 Treaty with the Chippewas at La Pointe;
Lake Bands:
“Ki ji ua be she shi, 1st [Chief].
Ke kon o tum, 2nd
[Chief].”
Pelican Lake:
“Ke-che-waub-e-sash-e, his x mark.
Nig-gig, his x mark.”
1847 Treaty with the Chippewas at Fond du Lac;
Pelican Lakes
:
Kee-che-waub-ish-ash, 1st chief, his x mark.
Nig-gig, 2d chief, his x mark.
“Ke-che-waw-be-shay-she, or the Big Martin, 2d chief, his x mark. [L. S.].
Waw-be-shay-sheence, headman, his x mark. [L. S.].”

At the mouth of the Montreal river, we fell in with a party of seventeen Indians, composed of old Martin and his band, on their way to La Pointe, to be present at the payment expected to take place about the 15th of August.

They had their faces gaudily painted with red and blue stripes, with the exception of one or two, who had theirs painted quite black, and were said to be in mourning on account of deceased friends. They had come from Pelican lake (or, as the French named it, Lac du Flambeau,) being near the headwaters of the Wisconsin river, and one hundred and fifty miles distant. They had with them their wives; children, dogs, and all, walked the whole way. They told our pilot, Jean Baptiste, himself three parts Indian, that they were hungry, and had no canoe with which to get on to La Pointe. We gave them some corn meal, and received some fish from them for a second supply. For the Indians, if they have anything they think you want, never offer generally to sell it to you, till they have first begged all they can; then they will produce their fish, &c., offering to trade; for which they expect an additional supply of the article you have been giving them. Baptiste distributed among them a few twists of tobacco, which seemed very acceptable. Old Martin presented Baptiste with a fine specimen of native copper which he had picked up somewhere on his way – probably on the headwaters of the Montreal river. He desired us to take one of his men with us to La Pointe, in order that he might carry a canoe back to the party, to enable them to reach La Pointe the next day, which we accordingly complied with. We dropped him, however, at his own request, on the point of land some miles south of La Pointe, where he said he had an Indian acquaintance, who hailed him from shore.

Having reached La Pointe, we were prepared to rest a few days, before commencing our voyage to the Mississippi river.

Of things hereabouts, and in general, I will discourse in my next.

In great haste I am,

Very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

MORGAN.

 


 

To be continued in La Pointe

Bayfield’s Beginnings

March 6, 2016

By Amorin Mello

This is a reproduction of Captain Robinson Darling Pike’s speech for the 50th anniversary celebrations of Bayfield, Wisconsin on March 24th, 1906.  It was originally digitized and reproduced onto RootsWeb.com by John Griener, a great-grandson of Currie G. Bell.  The Bayfield County Press was in the Bell family from the Fall of 1882 until July of 1927.  Pike’s obituary was not included in this reproduction.


 

Portrait of Bayfield from History of Northern Wisconsin, by the Western Historical Company, 1881, page 80.

Portrait of Bayfield from History of Northern Wisconsin, by the Western Historical Company, 1881, page 80.

Capt. R. D. PIKE on

Bayfield’s Beginnings

Captain Robinson Derling Pike ~ A gift that spawns Great Lakes fisheries

Captain Robinson Derling Pike
~ A gift that spawns Great Lakes fisheries:The legacy of Bayfield pioneer R.D. Pike, by Julia Riley, Darren Miller and Karl Scheidegger for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, October 2011.

Robinson Darling PIKE, son of Judge Elisha and Elizabeth Kimmey PIKE, was a lumbering giant in early Bayfield history. Capt. R. D. Pike, as his name appeared weekly in the Press, was one of the most influential men in the county, associated not only with timber interests, but with the Bayfield Brownstone Company, the electric light company, the fish hatchery, etc. Just before his death on March 27, 1906, he wrote the following recollections of early Bayfield. The paper was read at the Bayfield 50th anniversary celebrations and was published in the March 30, 1906 issue of the Press along with Capt. PIKE’s obituary:

I regret very much not being able to be with you at the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the town of Bayfield. As you may be aware, I have been ill for the past few weeks, but am pleased to state at this time I am on the gain and hope to be among you soon. If my health permitted I would take great pleasure in being present with you this evening.

Detail from McAboy's 1856 Map of Bayfield.

Detail from Major William McAboy‘s 1856 Map of Bayfield.

rice

Senator Henry Mower Rice  
~ United States Senate Historical Office

I remember very distinctly that the first stake was driven in the town of Bayfield by Major McABOY who was employed by the Bayfield Townsite Company to make a survey and plat same, (the original plat being recorded at our county seat.) This Bayfield Townsite Company was organized with Hon. Henry M. RICE of St. Paul at the head and some very enterprising men from Washington D.C. Major McABOY arrived here about the first of March and made his headquarters with Julius AUSTRIAN of LaPointe. Julius AUSTRIAN in those days being the Governor General of all that part of the country west of Ontonagon to Superior; Ashland and Duluth being too small to count The major spent probably two weeks at LaPointe going back and forth to Bayfield with a team of large bay horses owned by Julius AUSTRIAN, being the only team of horses in the country.

For more information about Julius Austrian, see other Austrian Papers.

I remember very well being in his office at LaPointe with father, (I being then a mere lad of seventeen,) and I recollect hearing them discuss with Mr. AUSTRIAN the question of running the streets in Bayfield north and south and avenues east and west, or whether they should run them diagonally due to the topography of the country, but he decided on the plan as the town is now laid out. Mr. AUSTRIAN and quite a little party from LaPointe came over here on the 24th of March, 1856, when they officially laid out the town, driving the first stake and deciding on the name Bayfield, named after Lieutenant Bayfield of the Royal Navy who was a particular friend of Senator RICE, and it was he who made the first chart for the guidance of boats on Lake Superior.

"Map of Bayfield situate in La Pointe County, Wisconsin." ~ Wisconsin Historical Society

“Map of Bayfield situate in La Pointe County, Wisconsin” by Major William McAboy, 1856 for the Bayfield Land Company.
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Frederick Prentice

For more information about Indian interpreter Frederick Prentice, see his appearances in the Barber Papers
~ Portrait of Prentice from History of the Maumee Valley by Horace S Knapp, 1872, pages 560-562.

The summer of 1855 father was in poor health, filled up with malaria from the swamps of Toledo, and he was advised by Mr. Frederick PRENTICE, now of New York, and known by everybody here as “the brownstone man,” to come up here and spend the summer as it was a great health resort, so father arrived at LaPointe in June, 1855, on a little steamer that ran from the Soo to the head of the lakes, the canal at that time not being open, but it was opened a little later in the season.

1852 austrian sawmill

Detail of “Austrian’s Saw Mill” on Pike’s Creek, Chequamegon Bay, Lake Superior, circa 1852.
~ Wisconsin Public Land Survey Records

Upon arrival at LaPointe father entered into an agreement with Julius AUSTRIAN to come over to Pike’s creek and repair the little water mill that was built by the North American Fur Company, which at that time was owned by Julius AUSTRIAN. He made the necessary repairs on the little mill, caught plenty of brook trout and fell in love with the country on account of the good water and pure air and wrote home to us at Toledo glowing letters as to this section of the country. Finally he bought the mill and I think the price paid was $350 for the mill and forty acres of land, and that largely on time; however the mill was not a very extensive affair. Nearly everything was made of wood, except the saw and crank-pin, but it cut about two thousand feet of lumber in twelve hours. Some of the old shafting and pulleys can be seen in the debris at the old mill site now. Remember these were not iron shafts as we used wooden shafts and pulleys in those days. This class of the mill at the time beat whip-sawing, that being the usual way of sawing lumber.

Father left LaPointe some time in September 1855 for Toledo to move his family to Pike’s creek, which stream was named after we moved up here. Onion river and Sioux river were named before that time. On father’s arrival from Toledo from this country we immediately began to get ready to move. We had a large fine yoke of red oxen and logging trucks. He sold out our farm at Toledo, packed up our effects, and boarded a small steamer which took us to Detroit. Our family then consisted of father, mother, grandma PIKE, and my sister, now Mrs. BICKSLER, of Ashland. We stayed several days in Detroit to give father time to buy supplies for the winter; that is feed for the oxen and cow and groceries for the family to carry us through until Spring.

We then boarded the steamer Planet, which was a new boat operated by the Ward Line, considered the fastest on the lake. It was about two hundred fifty tons capacity. We came to Sault Ste. Marie, it being the Planet‘s first trip through the Soo, the canal as I remember was completed that fall. During this year the Lady Elgin was running from Chicago and the Planet and North Star running from Detroit, they being about the only boats which were classed better than sail boats of the one hundred and fifty tons.

Portrait of the Steamer North Star from American Steam Vessels, by Samuel Ward Stanton, page 40. ~ Wikimedia.org

Portrait of the Steamer North Star from American Steam Vessels, by Samuel Ward Stanton, page 40.
~ Wikimedia.org

We arrived at LaPointe the early part of October, 1855. On our way up we stopped at Marquette, Eagle Harbor, Eagle River, and Ontonagon. We left Ontonagon in the evening expecting to arrive at LaPointe early the next morning, but a fearful storm arose and the machinery of the Planet became disabled off Porcupine mountains and it looked for a while as though we were never going to weather the storm, but arrived at LaPointe the next day. There were some parties aboard for Superior who left LaPointe by sail.

We remained at LaPointe for a week or ten days on account of my mother’s health and then went to Pike’s bay with all our supplies, oxen and cow on what was known as the Uncle Robert MORRIN’s bateau. Uncle Robert and William MORRIN now of Bayfield, and if I remember rightly, each of the boys pulled an oar taking us across. We landed in Pike’s bay just before sundown, hitched up the oxen and drove to the old mill. Now, this was all in the fall of 1855.

1856-04-19 bayfield surveyed by mcaboy

Detail from William McAboy‘s 1856 Map of Bayfield.

“HON. JOHN W. BELL, retired, Madeline Island, P.O. La Pointe, was born in New York City, May 3, 1805, where he remained till he was eight years of age.  His parents then took him to Canada, where his father died.  He had gotten his education from his father and served an apprenticeship at three trades – watchingmaking, shipbuilding, and coopering.  He then moved to Ft. La Prairie, and started a cooper shop, where he remained till 1835, when he came to La Pointe, on the brig “Astor,” in the employ of the American Furn Company as cooper, for whom he worked six months, when he took the business into his own hands, and continued to make barrels as late as 1870.  It was in 1846 or 1847 that Robert Stewart, then Commissioner, granted him a license, and he opened a trading post at Island River, and became interested in the mines.  he explored and struck a lead in the Porcupine Range, on Onion River, which he sold to the Boston Company, and then came back to La Pointe.  In 1854 he was at the treaty between the Chippewas of Lake Superior and the Mississippi River, and was appointed Enrolling Agent on their new reservation, on the St. Louis River, where he went, but soon came back, as the Indians were not willing to stay there.  He was then appointed by the Indians to look up their arrearages, and while at this work visited the national capital.  He was appointed to County Judge for La Pointe County, and helt till 1878.  He was elected on the town board in 1880.  Has been Register of Deeds  a great many years.  Has held most all the different county and town offices, and at one time held or did principally the business for the whole county.  He has seen La Pointe in all of its glory dwindle down to a little fishing hamlet; is now Postmaster at his island home, where he occupies a house put up by the old fur company.  He was married in 1837 to Miss Margaret Brebant, in the old Catholic Church, by Rev. Bishop Baraga.  They had seven children – John(deceased), Harriette (now Mrs. La Pointe), Thomas (deceased), Alfred (now Town Clerk), Sarah F., Margaret (deceased), and Mary (now Mrs. Denome).”

~ History of Northern Wisconsin, by the Western Historical Company, 1881.

As I said before, the town was laid out on March 24th, 1856, and record made same at LaPointe by John W. BELL, who at that time was the “Witte” of all the country between Ontonagon and Superior; Julius AUSTRIAN being the “Czar” of those days and both God’s noblemen. [Note: This was a reference to Count Sergei Witte and Tsar Nicholas II, contemporaries of Capt. Pike. Witte was responsible for much industrial development of Tsarist Russia in the 1890’s.] The Territory now comprising the town of Bayfield was taken from LaPointe county. There were a number of very prominent men interested in laying out the townsite and naming our avenues and streets, such as Hon. H. M. RICE and men of means from Washington after whom some of our avenues were named.

Very soon after this they wished to build a large mill in order to furnish lumber necessary for building up the town. The Washington people decided upon a man by the name of CAHO, an old lumberman of Virginia, so he was employed to come up here and direct the building of the mill. A hotel was built directly across from the courthouse by the Mr. BICKSLER who afterwards married my sister. The saw mill was built about a block west of where my saw mill now stands. The mill had a capacity of five or six thousand feet per day and I think the machinery came from Alexandria, Virginia. Joe LaPOINTE was the only man recognized as being capable of running a mill from the fact that he could do his own filing and sawing. While they were constructing the mill they had a gang of men in the woods getting out hard wood for fuel, not thinking of using any of the sawdust, and they piled the sawdust out with the slabs as useless. Charley DAY, whom many of you will remember, who was the party who got out the hardwood as fuel for the mill.

Time has wrought many changes in our midst. As far as I know, I am the only white man living who was here at the time the town was laid out.

In conclusion I wish to say that at a banquet given in Bayfield some two or three years ago, I made the statement that when the last pine tree was cut from the peninsula on which Bayfield is located the prosperity of our town and vicinity will have just commenced. The pine has gone and now we are cutting the hemlock and hardwood which will last ten to fifteen years; and long before this is exhausted the cut over lands will be taken up and farms tilled, as is the history of other sections of the country.

"Elisha and R.D. Pike owned a private fish hatchery in Bayfield County from the 1860s to 1895. The Wisconsin State Legislature mandated the construction of a fish hatchery in northern Wisconsin in 1895, so R.D. Pike donated 405 acres (1.64 km2) from his hatchery to serve as the state hatchery. The state built the main hatchery building in 1897 using brownstone from nearby Pike's Quarry. The Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha Railway built a siding to the hatchery, and a special railcar known as The Badger brought fish from the hatchery to Wisconsin waterbodies. In 1974, new buildings and wells were constructed to modernize the hatchery. The hatchery was renamed in honor of longtime Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources secretary Les Voigt in 2006, and the main building was named for R.D. Pike in 2011. The hatchery currently spawns five types of trout and salmon and also includes a visitor's center and aquarium." ~ Wikipedia.org

“Elisha and R.D. Pike owned a private fish hatchery [at Julius Austrian’s former sawmillin Bayfield County from the 1860s to 1895. The Wisconsin State Legislature mandated the construction of a fish hatchery in northern Wisconsin in 1895, so R.D. Pike donated 405 acres (1.64 km2) from his hatchery to serve as the state hatchery. The state built the main hatchery building in 1897 using brownstone from nearby Pike’s Quarry. The Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha Railway built a siding to the hatchery, and a special railcar known as The Badger brought fish from the hatchery to Wisconsin waterbodies. In 1974, new buildings and wells were constructed to modernize the hatchery. The hatchery was renamed in honor of longtime Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources secretary Les Voigt in 2006, and the main building was named for R.D. Pike in 2011. The hatchery currently spawns five types of trout and salmon and also includes a visitor’s center and aquarium.”
~ Wikipedia.org

By Amorin Mello

detroit flag

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

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


1905 publications of the American Jewish Historical Society Number 13

——-

Jewish Beginnings in Michigan Before 1850

——-

 

Beginnings Of The Immigration Preceding The Year 1850.

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

The Leopold And Austrian Families.

1843_drawing_of_Mission_Point_beach_at_Mackinac_Island,_Michigan

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

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

1852 austrian sawmill

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

Plate_Jos_Austrian_up_a_tree

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

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

Sketch Of Edward Kanter.2

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

Edward Kanter findagrave

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

Die_Gartenlaube_(1873)_b_132

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

davvsadf

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

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

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

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

german-american bank possibly detroit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Amorin Mello & Leo Filipczak

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

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

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

Legends of the Land of Lakes

Legend of the Montreal River.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Amorin Mello

Hercules Louis Dousman cosigned several treaties, including the 1837 land cession treaties with the Chippewa and Dakota (Wikimedia Images).

Hercules Louis Dousman 
“In 1827, the American Fur Company (AFC) achieved a monopoly on the fur trade in what is now Minnesota. The Company suddenly increased its prices by 300 percent; American Indians, returning from the hunt with expectations of trading for their yearly supplies, found themselves cast into a debt cycle that would increase in the decades ahead. American Indians would receive virtually unlimited credit as long as they maintained the most precious collateral: land.
As game was overhunted and demands for furs changed, the system collapsed under a burden of debt. In 1834, AFC departments were sold to partners who included the Chouteaus, Henry Sibley, and Hercules Dousman. The business strategy of the reorganized companies changed from fur trading to treaty making. In 1837, economically stressed Dakota and Ojibwe people began selling land in what became Minnesota. Fur traders, through their political connections, were able to divert government payments for American Indian land into their own pockets. In effect, land cession treaties became a vast government bailout of fur trade corporations.”
Relations: Dakota & Ojibwe Treaties

Henry Hastings Sibley Papers 1826-1848

Henry Hastings Sibley ~ Minnesota Historical Society

Henry Hastings Sibley
~ Minnesota Historical Society

Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center
History Center & Archives

“Papers of Minnesota’s first governor during his years as a fur trader, consisting primarily of correspondence among the various American Fur Company agents located in the Wisconsin Territory. Correspondence concerns internal company business; business with Hudson Bay Fur Company; company agreements with the Dakota Indians; company interest in United States government treaties with the Dakota, Ojibwa, and Winnebago Indians; attempts by the company to prevent war between the Dakota and the Sauk and Fox Indians; relations with missionaries to the Indians of the region; and company disputes with Indian agents Henry R. Schoolcraft and Lawrence Taliaferro.

Correspondents prominent in the early history of Minnesota and Wisconsin include William Aitken, Frederick Ayer, Alexis Bailly, Bernard Brisbois, Ramsay Crooks, Henry Dodge, James Doty, Hercules Dousman, Jean Faribault, Alexander Faribault, Joseph Nicollet, Henry Rice, Joseph Rolette, Henry Schoolcraft, Lawrence Taliaferro, and Lyman Warren.”

 


New York April 17, 1848

To Geo Ebninger Esq.
Assignee Am. Fur Co.

Dear Sir,

Pierre_Chouteau_Jr

Pierre Chouteau, Jr.; son of French Creole fur trader, merchant, politician, and slaveholder Jean-Pierre Chouteau.
~ Wikipedia.org

We hasten to reply to you, of this date offering to sell “The American Fur Co Establishments at Lapointe” all the Northern Outfit Posts: – “The whole for twenty five hundred dollars ($2500)” provided we will take the goods remaining on hand there after this spring’s trade at New York cash for sound Merchantable goods everything else as its fair actual value & say that we regret you waited until the moment our senior was leaving for the west before making the above proposition & also some days after the departure of Mr. Rice. It is probable, if your letter had been received during his stay here, that we would have accepted it or made other propositions which would have been agreeable. We thought if you were desirous of selling the Establishments & goods that you would have apprised us earlier of your intentions & given us time to consult or reflect upon it. And we expect, and hope that you will give us time to communicate your proposition to the persons interested with us in Upper Mississippi & particularly with Mr. Rice who alone has visited the posts & has a correct idea of their value.

Believing that the delay we ask will not or cannot be prejudicial to your interests we will wait your answer.

Very respectfully
yr obd svt

P Chouteau Junr


New York 28th June, 1848

Mister P Chouteau Jr & Co

New York

Gentlemen,

Agreeably to what I had the pleasure to address you on the 14th April last, copy of which letter is annex I will sell you the late American Fur Company’s Establishment at La Pointe & as the terms and conditions as before named, delivery to be made to you or your agent on a date to be hereafter agreed upon between the First day of September and Fifteenth day of October next and ending Payments for the same to be made in New York to me in October or November next.

Please let me have your written reply to this proposition.

I am gentlemen bestly
Your Obedt Servt

George Ebninger

Assignee to P Chouteau Jr, St Louis


New York 30th June, 1848

To George Ebninger Esq.
Assignee Am Fur Co.

Dear Sir,

1843 View of La Pointe ~ Wisconsin Historical Society

View of La Pointe, circa 1843.
“American Fur Company with both Mission churches. Sketch purportedly by a Native American youth. Probably an overpainted photographic copy enlargement. Paper on a canvas stretcher.”
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

In reply to yours of 28th inst (with copy annexed of similar letters under date 14th April last) we have to say that under advises lately received from our Saint Louis house we accept in general terms your proposition for the sale of the American Fur Co’s trading Establishment at Lapointe and interior for the sum offered, of Twenty Five Hundred dollars. It may be well enough to observe how ever that we consider the sale as dating only from the time of delivery to our authorized agents. Until then received we shall consider the posts as the property of Late American Fur Co and to be as their risk and any destruction of property between now and the time you may fix for delivery to be their loss and not ours.

The terms of payments proposed by you are entirely acceptable. But we think it might be better to make it more definite and accordingly suggest that our agents who received the property draw upon us as forty days & nights for the amount.  Hoping that these slights exchanged may meet your sanctions and that you will name an early day for the delivery of posts & we remain very truly,

Your Obedt Servt

P. Chouteau Jr & Co


New York 5th July 1848

P Chouteau Jr Esq
Saint Louis

Dear Sir

Astorian Ramsay Crooks

Ramsey Crooks (also spelled Ramsay) was born in Scotland in 1787. He immigrated to Canada in 1803 where he worked as a fur trader and explorer around the Great Lakes. He began working for the American Fur Company, which was started by John Jacob Astor, America’s first multi-millionaire, and made an expedition to the Oregon coast from 1809-1813 for the company. By doing so he also became a partner in the Pacific Fur Company. In 1834 he became acting president of the American Fur Company following Astor’s retirement to New York. A great lakes sailing vessel the Ramsey Crooks was constructed in 1836 by the American Fur Co. A nearly identical sister ship was built in the same year and was called the Astor. Both ships were sold by the dissolving fur company in 1850. Ramsay Crooks passed away in 1859, but had made a name for himself in the fur trade not only in Milwaukee and the Great Lakes, but all the way to the Pacific Ocean.” ~ Milwaukee County Historical Society

On the 28th June I sold to your house the Establishments of the late American Fur Company at Lapointe agreeably to the letter I had written to you on the 14th April. Cash delivery to be made at some period to be agreed upon hereafter between the first day of September and fifteenth day of October next. I hope that it may be in my power to get to Lapointe and attend to the delivery to your agents but if not we must select some other to act for me, Mr. Crooks and myself are not on good terms in [cou-bethee?] ease as he has been opposed to the sale being made by from the bush. I have lately heard that Mr. Crooks has written the Establishment & at Lapointe (Mr. [Ludgem?] of Detroit told me so while in the city lately) and he must have written to him shortly after the offer was made to you here, and it remains to be seen what authority he can have to dish use of the property which has been assigned to me and over which I have acted as assignee for nearly the last six years. Mr. Crooks acts of leaving here shortly for the Northern Posts. Before then I shall know what he proposes to do to annul the sale I have (under the authority vested in me as assignee) made to you, and which has been made agreeably to his only Suggestions on the 14th day of April last, and the only objection he can make to the Sale is that you did not as once accepts of his but required only a reasonable time to reply to which I was willing to grant and would again give under such circumstances you being there on the eve of leaving here, but it was clear enough that Mr. Crooks never wished that you should have the Northern Outfit Establishment, but that his friend Borrup should. I shall however do all that I can to oppose his injust views on that score.

I am In Most Truly
Your Obedt Servt

George Ebninger


Senator Henry Mower Rice ~ United States Senate Historical Office

Aspring politician and future Senator Henry Mower Rice represented the Chippewas at the 1847 Treaty of Fond du Lac, and appears frequently here on Chequamegon History.
~ United States Senate Historical Office

St. Louis July 14, 1848

Mr.s Sibley & Rice
St. Peters

Dr. Sirs

We had this pleasure of the 7th inst by [Shamus Highland Many?] enclosing Invoice & Bill of Landing of C.O. English goods which we hope you will have received in good order and due time – The same day and as the time the boat was pushing off we addressed you a few lines in haste, advising you of the purchase made by our House in New York, of the posts at Lapointe. We have just received several documents in relation to that purchase of which you will find copies herewithin.

You will perceive from their contents how Mr. Crooks has acted in the matter, and that it has become urgent for us to take such steps as will answer the possession of the said posts. How we will be able to succeed, Doctr. Borrup being now in possession & having apparently purchased from Mr. Crooks, is a matter of doubt and can only be ascertained at Lapointe. We have purchased Bona Fide from Mr. G. Ebninger, the only person authorized to make sale, as the assigner of the late American F. Co. Mr. Borrup we are afraid, will (as you can see by Mr. Sanford’s letter) refuses to give possession, and in that case, in a country where there is no way of enforcing law, we may not be able to obtain possession before next year. Now, would it be desirable or advantageous to make the purchase and not get possession before that time? We think not.

borup

Oil painting of Doctor Charles William Wulff Borup from the Minnesota Historical Society:
“Borup and Oakes were headmen for the [American Fur Company]. All voyageurs, ‘runners,’ as they were called, were employed by said company. They would leave La Pointe about the beginning of September, stay away all fall and winter among the Indians in their respective districts, collect furs, and return about the beginning of June. They would take along blankets, clothes, guns, etc., to trade with the Indians for their furs. They took along very little provisions, as they depended mostly on hunting, fishing, wild reice, and trade with the Indians for their support. There were several depots for depositing goods and collecting furs, for instance at Fond du Lac (Minnesota,) Sandy Lake, Courtes Oreilles, Lac du Flambeau Mouth of Yellow River, etc.”
~ Proceedings of the [Wisconsin Historical] Society at its Sixty-fourth Annual Meeting, 1917, pages 177-9

Our object in this purchase has been more with our view to force Dr. Borrup to come to such arrangements as would prevent him from opposing us on the Mississippi and its dependencies, and more particularly with the Winnebagoes, far the best trade of all_ If then, it becomes impossible to obtain the Establishments at Lapointe unless by due course of law (which would prolong it till next year) We are of the opinion that it would be better for our interests to make such compromise with Dr. Borrup as would exclude him entirely from the west side of the dividing rift.

We are writing this day to our home in New York and to Mr. G. Ebninger that he must proceed immediately to Lapointe so as to be here from the 1st to the 15th September, and claim himself & in person the delivery of the posts. Any agent would not probably succeed, or objections would no doubt be made by Doctr. Borrup which said agent could not face or answer. You will therefore do the necessity of either of you going to Lapointe and meet them with Mr. Ebninger on the time appointed above.

Very truly yours,

P. Chouteau Jr & Co

It was only on the 10th inst that we were handed your forms of 25 june enclosing packing ‘℅’ of the U.S. postal M.R. #01037 for ℅ St Louis ℅ Chippewa outfit. Capt. Ludwick ought to be more particular with papers confided to his care.

Bernard Walter Brisbois was an agent for the American Fur Company.

Duplicates of this letter and documents enclosed, sent to the care of Mr. Brisbois of Prairie du Chien, by mail

You will notice by copy of telegraphic dispatch of the 10th that the Chippewa annuity will be paid at Lake Superior as heretofore.

[Illegible]


The New York Times

September 29, 1851

“Indian Moneys”

There is no greater abuse in the governmental policy of the United States, than the past and present system of Indian payments; and the Indians would be benefited if the money thus appropriated were cast into the Lakes, rather than made the cause of such much distress and swindling as it is.

The author of this article is not identified.

In the August of 1848 we were present at a payment at La Pointe, and we have no hesitation in saying that every dollar paid to the Indians there was a disadvantage rather than a benefit to them.

The payment was fixed for August, and Indians from West of the Mississippi were called together at La Pointe to receive it.  They gathered at the appointed time, and the payment was not made for three weeks after the time specified.

The money collected at the Saut Ste. Marie Land Office, the most convenient point, had been transported, as per Government order, to Chicago, and the Paymaster received drafts on that point where he was compelled to go for the specie, and the payment was thus delayed.

la pointe beaver money

La Pointe Beaver Money of the American Fur Company’s Northern Outfit from “The Beaver in Early Wisconsin” by A. W. Schorger, Wisconsin Academy of Science, Arts, & Letters, Volume 54, page 159.

Meantime, the Indians gathered at La Pointe were without the necessaries of life, and the agents of the North American Fur Company, and a few old traders who were posted in the business, supplied them with provisions at exorbitant rates, and forced them to buy with every ounce of pork or flour which they needed, an equal amount of dry-goods and gewgaws, which had no value for them.  These sales were made on credit, to be settled at the pay-table.  At the payment, some $30,000 in cash, and a stipulated quantity of blankets, guns, powder, tin pails, calicoes, ribbons, &c., were distributed; and this American Fur Company, and the favored traders, raked from the Paymaster’s table as it was counted out to the bands, over $12,000 for provisions furnished to, and trash forced upon the Indians, while they were delayed after being summoned to the payment.

Some $14,000 more was spent among forty traders and the remaining $4,000 the Indians carried home; about one dollar each.

Their blankets, about the only valuable thing they received in the way of dry goods, were on the night after payment, mostly transferred to a mercenary set of speculators, at a cost of a pint of whiskey each, and came down to the Saut as private property on the same propeller that took them up as government gratuity.

Such was the result of a payment for which thousands of Indians traversed many miles of forest, wasted six weeks’ time, and lost the crop of wild rice upon which they depended for their winter’s subsistence.

If a white man with a white soul, writes the history of the Indians of the West, the American government will gain little credit from his record of Indian payments.

For more context about these American Fur Company partners and their affairs following the 1848 La Pointe annuity payments, please read pages 133-136 of Last Days of the Upper Mississippi Fur Trade by Rhonda R. Gilman, Minnesota History, Winter 1970.

But the swindle of 1848 was not gross enough to suit certain grasping parties.  La Pointe was too easy of access.  So many traders sought a market for their goods there, that the old monopolists could not obtain a thousand per cent on the goods they sold; and even in 1848, it was whispered that they were using all their influence to have the future payments made at some point so far West that competition would not force them to be content with moderate profits.

For more context about the Lake Superior Chippewa following the 1848 La Pointe annuity payments, please read our The Sandy Lake Tragedy and Ojibwe Removal series here on Chequamegon History.

To effect this it was necessary to remove the Chippewas further West, and by some influence, not, perhaps, distinctly marked, but yet more than suspected, this order of removal was secured.

It was uncalled for, useless, and abominable; and we are glad, for the sake of humanity and justice, that the Administration have resolved that for the present the edict shall not be enforced.  We trust it may never be.