By Amorin Mello

Originally published in the March 23, 1878, issue of The Ashland Press. Transcribed with permission from Ashland Narratives by K. Wallin and published in 2013 by Straddle Creek Co.

… continued from Number V.

Early Recollections of Ashland: Number VI

by Asaph Whittlesey

During 1856 the steamers Lady Elgin, Illinois, and Superior landed freight and passengers upon a steamboat dock constructed at Bay City, now Ellis division of Ashland.

1860 photograph of the sidewheel steamer Lady Elgin.
~ Ship-Wrecks.net

Ashland’s first saloon was opened by James Whitney in June 1856, and during the same month the first store was opened by Martin Beaser, on the corner of block one hundred and one.

The patent to Ashland, issued by the United States, bears the date June 23rd, 1862.

Land patent for the town site of Ashland issued by President Abraham Lincoln on June 23rd, 1862 to Schuyler Goff:
“The contract between the three was, that Mr. Whittlesey and Mr. Kilborn were to receive each an eighth interest in the land, while the residue was to go to Mr. Beaser. The patent for the land was issued to Schuyler Goff, as county Judge of La Pointe county, Wisconsin, who was the trustee for the three men, under the law then governing the location of town sites.”
~ Biographic sketch of Martin Beaser

OF THE OPENING OF ROADS IN THE EARLY DAYS OF ASHLAND.

In reporting upon this subject it is very possible that our town authorities of the present day may be put somewhat to the blush by the manner in which these and other like improvements were made.  And I will guarantee the re-election of any Town Board, or other town officer who will carry out the program of former days for the opening of roads, which was simply this:

Whenever a road was needed such men as Edwin Elllis, Martin Beaser, George Kilbourn and myself, (I came near overlooking the latter,) and others who mainly volunteered their work, shouldered their axes and served in person until roads contemplated were completed.  There was also this peculiarity attached to this class of individuals; they did not hang about the steps of the town house the balance of the year for the purpose of getting bills audited for work done upon the highways.  It was in this manner that the road leading to Odanah and also that leading south to White River Falls were first opened.  Even Indians partook of the same spirit in volunteering their labor, as Aid-de-camp to their Great Leader, Rev. L. H. Wheeler.

I have no doubt Dr. Ellis still bears in mind how the woods at Bear Trap were made to echo the yells of the Indians as they collided with the party from Ashland on the very day agreed upon, and I think I may safely say that the citizens of Odanah and of Ashland looked upon the opening of this road as a momentous event, and one which cemented us together even more firmly as friends and neighbors, though I have no doubt many of my readers will stand ready to declare that the foot race existed not very far back.

Detail of trail from Ashland to Bad River on Barbers’ survey during the Summer of 1855.

We wore good countenances, slept well nights, and paid one hundred cents on the dollar of our obligations.  We were not ashamed to eat salt pork (those of us who could get it,) while our faithful wives vied with each other in the different styles of cooking this staple article of diet.

Next to this comes the everlasting pancake, without which neither town site nor pre-emptions could be legally established.

Not everyone working on this railroad was able to leave in peace.
“From March to November 15, 1872, over 200 buildings had been erected in Ashland and from a thousand to thirteen hundred men were in the railroad camps engaged in the tremendous task of clearing a track through the forest, and building a railroad. The nation had begun to feel the financial trouble that became the Bank Panic of 1873. Suddenly, one December morning, 1872, Capt. Rich received word to shut down all work on the line, pay off and discharge all the men and transport them and all others who desired to leave, out of the country.”
~ History of the Soo Line by James Lyden, chapter 9.
“On January 1, 1873, Sheriff Nelson Boutin, Capt. R.D. Pike and a party of seventy-five chosen men went over to Ashland as a company to quell the railroad rioters. After stopping there ten days they returned. Having had this little of military life, they conceived the idea of forming a new military company and joining the State militia.”
~ History of Northern Wisconsin by the Western Historical Company, 1881, page 82.

On the second day of June, 1877, I had the honor of driving the last spike, which took place at Chippewa Station, amid the shoutings of a large assemblage of people, including laborers upon the road, and in a few moments thereafter the first train from Milwaukee passed over the road on its way to Ashland, amid great rejoicing and demonstrations of joy over the victory won.  At Ashland also the excitement became intense and though it was late on a Saturday evening on which our train reached the town, the illumination of the place brought to our view a field of faces, crazy with excitement over the event they were celebration.  As for myself, I confess I felt very much like saying, “Now let thy servant depart in peace.”  No longer were we to be informed of what was to be done, but we now knew it to be actually accomplished, and the Wisconsin Central Railroad remained a standing monument to the good name of Gardner Colby, Charles L. Colby and E. B. Phillips, all other efforts being secondary to that of these individuals.  I have in my possession a map of this section of country, published by Charles C. Tucker in 1858, on which he laid down an imaginary line of railroad as being likely to be constructed from Madison via Portage and Stevens Point to Ashland, and strange to say it lays down the precise route of the Wisconsin Central Railroad, the very first to be constructed.

Having received by our last mail an important official statement from the Railroad Commissioner for the State of Wisconsin, I will insert the same here rather than to fail to have it published:

He says “the number of miles of railroad now constructed within the State of Wisconsin is two thousand six hundred and fifty-nine and 6-100, while there are seventy-one thousand seven hundred and fifty-nine miles of railroad now operated within the United States, with a capital and debt amounting to four billion six hundred and fifty-eight million two hundred and eight thousand six hundred and thirty dollars.”

STATISTICS IN GENERAL

In furnishing these I desire specially to acknowledge the obligation I am under to Mrs. James Wilson, for granting me access to early records of the place kept by Martin Beaser, Esq., though I find some discrepancies between his record and my own, which I think can be explained by the fact that he did not commence his record until some years after the first settlement of the place, and made it from memory along.  For instance he says “the town site of Ashland was located by Martin Beaser, Asaph Whittlesey and George Kilbourn in August, 1854,” whereas Mr. Kilbourn and myself commenced the settlement of the town site July 5th, while Mr. Beaser first visited the place in August when he became an owner therein, the town site being from this time forward owned three fourths by Martin Beaser and one eighth each Kilbourn and Whittlesey.

Again Mr. Beaser’s record states that “the first house was built by Asaph Whittlesey in October, 1854, and was twenty by thirty feet square,” while the fact is I had erected two cabins upon the town site previous to the erection of this one and had lived in them.

Following cabin built by Kilbourn and Whittlesey, foundation laid July 5th, 1854, was twelve by fourteen feet square and was erected on lot number two in block one hundred and five.  The foundation to the second cabin built was laid by Kilbourn and Whittlesey Sept. 9th 1854.  This cabin was thirteen by fifteen feet square and was erected on lot five of block six.  The outline of this building may still be traced. – The third house erected was that erected by Asaph Whittlesey on lot six in block six and was twenty by thirty feet square and this building constituted the residence of the Whittlesey family until the fall of 1857 when I removed to what is known as the Tompkins house on lots five and six in block three.  I have in my possession very correct sketches of the first three cabins built, which I hope eventually to have lithographed for preservation.  The fourth house was erected by Conrad Goeltz.  The fifth house by Martin Beaser.  The sixth house by Myron Tompkins.  The seventh house by Lawrence Farley.  The eighth house by Charles Malmet.  The ninth house by Anthony Fisher.  The tenth house by Frederick Bauman.  Beyond this I am unable to give the order in which buildings were erected.

Conrad and Adam Goeltz first arrived at Ashland in March, 1855, and were employed by me in chopping and delivering cord wood upon the bay shore.  As we were without a team we improvised one by harnessing these two Dutchmen and myself in the form of a spike team to a large sized hand-sled with which we banked twenty cords of wood per day.

P.S. – Adam had it twenty-two cords per day, but I think we had better throw off the two cords and try to save our reputation for veracity.

The first chickens brought into town were those brought by A. Whittlesey from Ohio in 1854.

John Beck butchered the first hogs in town, though he left a few which he did not butcher.

Martin Beaser brought the first yoke of oxen, and in 1855 raised about two hundred bushels of potatoes upon the town site.  On the third of December, 1855, the schooner Algonquin landed at Ashland two hundred and twenty-five barrels of freight, seventy-five thousand feet of lumber and a yoke of oxen.

Ashland Bay froze over Dec. 7th, 1855.  The two first steamboat docks were built during the winter of 1855-6, one by Martin Beaser at the foot of Main Street and one by the Bay City Company.  These were carried away by the ice May 1st, 1856.

To be continued in Number VII

 

By Amorin Mello

The Ashland press 1877

Originally published in the March 9th, 1878, issue of The Ashland Press.  Transcribed with permission from Ashland Narratives by K. Wallin and published in 2013 by Straddle Creek Co.

… continued from Number III.

Early Recollections of Ashland: Number IV

by Asaph Whittlesey

In our last number we referred to “the most aristocratic house” with lumber floors, etc.  Though it was the third cabin built upon the “town site,” it was in reality the first cabin built, designed as a permanent residence.  The foundation logs of this house were laid Sept. 20th, 1854.  The record made by Martin Beaser, (evidently made from recollection,) calls this the first building erected, (giving the size of it,) whereas we had lived in two buildings previous to the building of this one.

Rev. Leonard Hemenway Wheeler
~ In Unnamed Wisconsin by Silas Chapman, 1895, cover image.

The “Whittlesey Post Office” was kept therein from the date of its establishment, March 12th, 1855 to Nov. 1858.  The first dancing done within the “town site” was in this house in Nov. 1854, and during the winter religious services were held therein by Rev. L. H. Wheeler, of the Odanah Mission.  It was the birthplace of Delia Elizabeth, second daughter to Mr. And Mrs. Asaph Whittlesey, born May 21st, 1856, being the first American child born within the limits of the “town site.”  The first celebration of the Fourth of July was held in this house July 4th, 1855, further reference to which will hereafter be made.  The first general election of county officers in the county of Ashland, was held in this building Nov. 4th, 1856, at which time Samuel S. Vaughn received eleven votes for the office of County Clerk, and M. H. Mandelbaum receive twelve.  Francis McElroy was elected District Attorney and Asaph Whittlesey County Judge.  It was in this house that Robert D. Boyd was shot and instantly killed by Henry Cross, January 10th, 1858, for which a verdict of justifiable homicide was rendered at an inquest, held by Asaph Whittlesey, Justice of the Peace, acting as Coroner.

ARRIVAL OF THE SECOND FEMALE UPON THE TOWN SITE.

Mr. and Mrs. John P. T. Haskell, with their family, parents of Mrs. Whittlesey, made a landing at Ashland, Nov. 2nd, 1854, and made their home with us during the winter following.  In the early spring they made a home of their own in a cabin located upon the site of the present residence of G. M. Willis, Esq., a little to the east of Vaughn’s Dock, in Vaughn’s addition to Ashland, which was originally known as Haskell’s pre-emption claim.  Mr. Haskell and family remained in the country only a single year, when they returned to Illinois, where Mr. Haskell died in 1873.  Mrs. Haskell is still living and is unusually active for one of her age.

I next call your attention to the

FIRST CELEBRATION OF THE 4TH OF JULY

upon the “town site” July 4th, 1855.

Under an understanding had between Mr. and Mrs. Austin Corser and Mr. And Mrs. John Corser, (then living at Fish Creek,) and being the owners of the only cows nearer than Odanah, an agreement was made whereby the Corsers were to furnish milk, while Mrs. Haskell and Mrs. Whittlesey, (then living in the log house still visible on lot 6, of block 6,) were to do the necessary cooking in the celebrated “mud oven” attached thereto, marvelous for its baking capacity and for the quality of its production.

On the day referred to, the Declaration of Independence was read by Asaph Whittlesey, and this with the delivery of an oration by A. W. Burt, with singing and amusements, constituted the first public celebration of the 4th of July in the history of Ashland.  The exercises were had at Whittlesey’s house in the after part of the day, and extended late in the evening, when music and dancing were added to the festivities of the day.  The ladies present were Mrs. Haskell, Mrs. Whittlesey, the two Mrs. Corsers and Mrs. Farley.  The gentlemen present were J. P. T. Haskell, George Kilborn, Lawrence Farley, Austin and John Corser, Asaph Whittlsey, A. W. Burt, A. J. Barckley, Adam Goeltz, John Donaldson, Conrad Goeltz, Andrew Scobie, and Duncan Sinclaire.  The children present were Eugenia E. Whittlesey, (less than three years old,) George, son of Mr. and Mrs. Austin Corser, also a child of Mr. and Mrs. John Corser and William, John Joseph and Hattie Haskell, children and Mr. and Mrs. J. P. T. Haskell.

I shall never forget Mrs. Haskell’s “classic step” on that occasion, discounting many of those present much younger than herself.  At intervals during the night the party were very highly entertained with singing by Conrad and Adam Goeltz.

FIRST POST OFFICE ESTABLISHED AT ASHLAND, MARCH 12TH, 1855.

As there was no opportunity for doubt as to the rapid growth of the city the establishment of a Post Office was the result of our first raid upon the general government, though for nearly one year following no provision whatsoever was made for furnishing this office with mail service, and mails were received by chance from La Pointe up to the opening of semi-monthly service, upon a new route established between La Pointe via Ashland to Chippewa Falls, and was soon after, during the winter months, supplied with weekly service upon the route from Ontonagon, Mich., to Superior, Wis.  On both of these routes the mails were carried by packers and upon dog teams.

Detail of La Pointe County from a map of Wisconsin published by J. H. Colton & Co., New York, 1856.
~ MapofUS.org

It is worth searching United States Post Office archives for correspondences relating to La Pointe County mail service.
See Objections to Mail Route 13780 (May 21st, 1855) for a separate petition against Julius Austrian in his role as the Postmaster at La Pointe.
Searching for the petition that formed Asaph Whittlesey’s post office (March 21st, 1855) may reveal more details.
Ashland County split from La Pointe County on March 27th, 1860.

In the petition forwarded to Washington asking for the establishment of an office at Ashland, La Pointe county, Wisconsin, the request was made that it be given the name of Ashland, and that Asaph Whittlesey be appointed postmaster.  The sequel showed that as there was an office by the name of Ashland within the State, it was not lawful to attach the name to this office and therefore the appointing officers at Washington attached the name of Whittlesey thereto, by which the office was known until July 30th, 1860, when the obstacle to change in the name being removed, it was then given the name of Ashland, and was also designated as being in Ashland County, Wisconsin.  I well remember how difficult a task I found it to be to satisfactorily explain to them how the place could one day be known as Whittlesey, La Pointe county and the next as Ashland, Ashland county.  But they soon admitted it rather than be longer afflicted with my letters upon the subject.

Detail of La Pointe County from a map of Wisconsin by The Milwaukee & Horicon Rail Road, 1857.
~ Library of Congress

The office of Whittlesey was kept in the cabin still in existence on lot 6 of block 6, “original Ashland,” until in Nov. 1857, when it was removed to lot 3 of block 3, into what was known as the Tomkins House, which then became the residence of myself and family until Nov. 1860.  The case in which the books and papers connected with the office were kept, (which was made by myself,) is now in the “farm house” at “Pleasant Valley,” and will be delivered to any public organization in Ashland desiring to preserve the same.  I continued to serve as postmaster until Nov. 21st, 1860, when I resigned the office and Andrew J. Barckley’s was appointed as my successor.  Barckley’s term as postmaster expired Sept. 9th, 1861, by the appointment of Martin Beaser as successor in office to Barckley.  Mr. Beaser served as postmaster until his death in Nov. 1866.

Detail of La Pointe and Ashland Counties from a map of Wisconsin and Michigan by A. J. Johnson and Ward, 1864.
~ Geographicus.org

The post office of Ashland was re-established Dec. 18th, 1871, and James A. Wilson, (the present incumbent,) being appointed postmaster.

The amount of post office money turned over to the Government by me at the close of my term of service was $8.53.  My commissions upon this amount, together with the “franking privilege” vested upon postmasters, laid the foundation for my future fortunes, the balance was taken in waitings upon William Gotzenberg, who made daily inquiries for his mail, though he was aware that no mails were received oftener than once a week.

To be continued in Number V

By Amorin Mello

The Ashland press 1877

Originally published in the July 7th, 1877, issue of The Ashland Press. Transcribed with permission from Ashland Narratives by K. Wallin and published in 2013 by Straddle Creek Co.

… continued from Number II.

EARLY RECOLLECTIONS OF ASHLAND.

“OF WHICH I WAS A PART.”

Number III

Dear Press: – My last jottings brought us to the sweeping away of the first dock ever attempted in Ashland, April 1, 1855.  Before relating any of the further attempts in the construction of docks, I will recall the names of some of the settlers who came here in 1855 to 1856.

The Connecticut Western Reserve of Lake Erie and Chequamegon Bay of Lake Superior were influenced by Colonel Charles W. Whittlesey during the 1840’s.  George Kilbourn was probably associated with the Whittlesey family at the Western Reserve before arriving at Chequamegon Bay.  Western Reserve archives contain interesting articles about Chequamegon Bay history.

1. George Kilbourn was then over fifty years old, from the Western Reserve, Ohio – a man of great energy and iron constitution, whose greatest joy was hard work, (and if we had a few hundred such men in our country now, who were not afraid to dive into our forests and open farms, the success of Ashland would soon be assured), and who was ever battling with the woods in this, his new home.  No one man who ever came to Ashland ever did half as much as he did, with his own strong arm, to clear up our beautiful town site.  His favorite spot is now occupied by the house built by Alex. Livingston, Esq.  Ashland was “Uncle George’s” pet, and he loved it with an undying love, and when stricken down by death a few years since, he was on his way from Ohio to Ashland.  He merits a monument, and his name should always be held in grateful remembrance.

Asaph Whittlesey was Charles Whittlesey’s younger brother.
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

2. Asaph Whittlesey, then about thirty years of age, a native of Ohio, but who had for several years been engaged in business in Peoria, Ill., where the fruits of years of toil were swept away by fire in a single hour, was, in 1854, looking for a place to try anew his fortune.  He belonged to one of the oldest and most respectable families of the Buckeye State – an energetic, lively, genial, whole-souled man, whom to know is to esteem.  He was active in all the early years of Ashland; was its first Postmaster, (when the office bore his name) in compliment to his venerable uncle, the Hon. Elisha Whittlesey, for many years connected with the U.S. Treasury.  And though he now resides at Bayfield, his interests are still largely in our town, and his pleasant face still occasionally gladdens our homes.  In his present ill health he has our heartfelt sympathies.  May he soon be well again and may his iter ad coctum be postponed yet many years.

“J. P. T. Haskell was the second settler in Ashland. He came with his wife, Nov. 2, 1854, but did not long remain.”
The Eye of the North-west: First Annual Report of the Statistician of Superior, Wisconsin by Frank Abial Flower, 1890, page 251.

Mrs. Whittlesey, with her mother, Mrs. Haskell, were the first white women who passed the winter on this shore.  Her house, though built of logs, was neat and comfortable, and was the resort of all new confers, where we were all made welcome; and the writer will always remember her singing of “The little tailor with the broadcloth under his arm,” and the dancing of her little Eugenia, a flaxen-haired girl of two year, but who, in later years, matured into a beautiful and accomplished woman, and happily settled in life, was, in 1874, called to the “sweet fields beyond the swelling flood.”  Mrs. Whittlesey endured much privation, but she was brave and full of life.  She is still spared to adorn and cheer her pleasant home at Bayfield.

Her father, Mr. Haskell, who passed the first winter in Mr. Whittlesey’s family, died a few years ago, but Mrs. Haskell still lives in green old age, and in 1875 re-visited the scenes of her pioneer life.

Doctor George Leonhard Brunschweiler was also involved with surveying and platting the town site of Houghton on Chequamegon Bay.  The Brunsweiler River is a State Natural Area , a federal Research Natural Area, and has Wild River designation.

Martin Beaser
~ Western Reserve Historical Society

3. Martin Beaser, though he did not bring his family to Ashland till 1856, he is entitled, nevertheless, to be ranked among the very first settlers of Ashland, for he had chosen this for his home in 1854; had aided by his means and counsel, Messrs. Whittlesey and Kilbourn, and came from Ontonagon several times during the year 1855 to assist in carrying out their plans. He employed and brought with him early in 1855, Dr. Brunschweiler, a Civil Engineer, who surveyed and platted the first site on this bay, which is now known as “Old Ashland” or “Beaser’s Division of Ashland.” Brunschweiler River, twelve miles from Ashland, perpetuates his name.

Mr. Beaser was a native of the State of New York, who, in early life, had passed several years on a whaler in the Pacific Ocean and being an acute observer of men and things, had accumulated a vast amount of useful and entertaining knowledge.  He was familiar with the ports of Central and South American and our Northwest coast, not ours then, for the Star Spangled Banner then floated only over a narrow strip of land near the mouth of the Columbia River.

The vast stretch of coast now embraced in the State of California was then Mexican territory and the Russian Bear was the emblem of power extending over forty degrees of longitude and from the fifty-fifth to the seventy-second degree of latitude, or more than eleven hundred miles, from south to north, and sixteen hundred miles from east to west.  By the diplomacy of Mr. Seward and the payment of seven million dollars in gold, the vast extent of coast came under our flag.

No one could listen to Mr. Beaser’s recital of what he saw and heard on the Pacific coast without being entertained, and receiving much useful knowledge.

Martin Beaser worked with Charles Whittlesey for the Algonquin Company of Detroit during 1845, as featured in Two Months In The Copper Range.

Mr. Beaser came to Ontonagon about 30 years ago, soon after the discovery of copper in that country. Very few settlers had preceded him there; but for several years, from 1858, they came in rapidly.

But here were no regular lines of boats as at present from Lake Erie and Michigan.  All the supplies for the population must be brought by water a thousand miles.  They were brought to the Sault and transferred across the portage, re-loaded on vessels and distributed to the infant settlements along the coast.  As a result of the scanty and uncertain means of conveyance, the early northern winter often found the settlers without their winter’s supply of flour, pork and groceries.  They must be brought to Ontonagon from Copper Harbor or Eagle River in open boats, which in the late fall and early winter was a work of hardship and danger.  Mr. Beaser’s skill and bravery as a sailor was more than once instrumental in saving Ontonagon from starvation and want.

In the fall of 1856, Mr. Beaser brought his family to Ashland.  Here he was closely identified with all enterprises calculated to aid in the opening up of this country.  He had accumulated a competence at Ontonagon which he here freely expended.

He was a man of sound discretion and great good common sense, and was one of Ashland’s most useful citizens.  Through discouragements and long deferred hope he persevered; while nearly all the rest of us were compelled to retreat.  His hope seemed never to forsake him and like the heroes of the Cumberland who went down with their colors flying, he stuck to Ashland in its hours of greatest depression and finally found his grave in the waters of our Bay – while attempting to come from Bayfield to Ashland in an open boat alone during a severe storm in November, 1866.  He rests on the Island of La Pointe, but the home of his life should be the home of his mortal remains and I doubt not they will be transferred hither at an early day.

To be continued in Number IV

By Amorin Mello

The Ashland press 1877

Originally published in the June 16th, 1877, issue of The Ashland Press.  Transcribed with permission from Ashland Narratives by K. Wallin and published in 2013 by Straddle Creek Co.

EARLY RECOLLECTIONS OF ASHLAND.

“OF WHICH I WAS A PART.”

Edwin Ellis, M.D. appears to be the ghostwriter of this series of memoirs.
Edwin Ellis

Edwin Ellis, M.D. 
~ Western Reserve Historical Society

My Dear Press:– In these joyous days of Ashland’s history, when we are all made glad by the completion of that great enterprise – the Wisconsin Central Railroad – when from banishment and isolation from the populous portion of our State and from the great world we in one day are brought in close contact with and feel the throbbings of the pulse of commercial and social life, it may be of interest to some to recall a few incidents of the early history of our town and its vicinity.

The years 1853 to 1857 were noted in the West for adventure and enterprise in pushing into new regions and laying out and building new towns.

Superior City Incidents:
Land Office Fraud;

Barber Papers Prologue;
Part VI of Sketch of Vincent Roy Jr.

In 1853 the site of Superior City had been pre-empted and in 1854, laid out into regular lots and blocks, and the work of a new city begun.  The site had attracted the attention and capital of some of our ablest men.  It was backed by stronger political influences than ever combined to lay the foundations of any town in the west.  Among its proprietors were many leading members of Congress and of the Cabinet, especially from the South.  The most sanguine expectations of its future greatness were entertained, for it commanded a scope of country as great as that paying tribute to Chicago.  Its lots were sold at fabulous prices.  It was in 1855 and 1856 – probably the most talked of town in the Union.

The temporary success of Superior kindled a blaze of speculation, which spread far and wide in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan.

Some of the founders of Superior at the map, saw stretching away to the South-west from the Apostles’ Islands, a deep bay, extending far inland, as if reaching forth to reach the tide of commerce flowing northward from the Gulf and the Atlantic.

Report on the Geology of the Lake Superior Land District: Part I. Copper Lands (1850) and Part II.  The Iron Region (1851) by John Wells Foster and Josiah Dwight Whitney.

This was our Chegomegon or Long Island Bay.  The report of Foster and Whitney also told of mountains of iron ore, which must find its way into the channels of commerce, by the waters of this bay.  An important town, it was thought, must spring up near its head.

Martin Beaser

Martin Beaser
~ Western Reserve Historical Society

While plans were maturing for the occupation of this site, we learned that another party had been attracted by the same considerations that moved us, and that Martin Beaser, Asaph Whittlesy, and Geo. Kilbourn had entered upon and claimed about three hundred acres under the townsite law.  The land had not yet been surveyed, and of course could not be entered or pre-empted.  The two latter gentlemen were on the spot, having arrived in the summer of 1854.  But we were not deterred by these anticipations of our plans.

Early in February, 1855, Edwin Ellis, as the representative of several enterprising capitalists of St. Paul, left the latter city with one companion, Cyrus A. Rollins, to examine the situation and site, and if thought advisable and practicable, to make a lodgement there.  The writer was then in full prime and vigor of early manhood, and full of ambition and bright expectations.  The way from St. Paul was through an unbroken wilderness.  The Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad had not been conceived.  In truth, no railroad had then approached within three hundred miles of the great Lake.  The present city of Duluth in its visions of the near future – the Damascus between the Atlantic and Pacific – the halting place of the North Pacific caravan, bringing to New York and London, the wealth of India, and China and Japan, and the Islands of the South sea – was then only occupied by the wild Indian.

Robert Emmet Jefferson is said to have built the first frame house in what is now Duluth.

Emmet Jefferson, who subsequently pre-empted the site of Duluth, was one of our party from St. Paul; but for many years he had slept in his last sleep.  Three or four other adventurers were with us and though it was cold and the way hard, we were a wild and joyous party of young men, going forth to seek our fortunes,– not doubtful of success.

At Superior we first saw the Great Lake.  Half a dozen houses – a store or two and the beginnings of a hotel, comprised all of that rival to Chicago.

Captain T. A. Markland cofounded the Middleton townsite on Minnesota Point.
Washington Ashton was the editor of the Superior Chronicle (1855-1863).
Colonel Reuben B. Carlton was a government blacksmith and farmer at Fond du Lac and signer of the 1847 Treaty at Fond du Lac.  In later years he became a mining investor and politician.

Among our acquaintances formed there, of which there were several pleasant ones, were Capt. Markland, a soldier of the Mexican war, a lawyer by profession, a man of culture, courteous in manner and stately in his bearing;– Washington Ashton, the pioneer publisher of Superior, and Colonel Carleton, who had been for several years a resident at Fond du Lac, and whose name is perpetuated by the name of a county in Minnesota.  All of them have been long years dead.

Having rested a day and bade adieu to our traveling companions, already dear to us as the sharers of our toils, we turned our faces towards the east.  We were fortunate in securing as a pilot on our untried voyage, Baptiste Gauden – mail carrier between Superior and La Pointe.  Here we first saw a dog train, which relieved us of our packs; and at night Baptiste assisted in pitching our camp, “a day’s march nearer home.”  He “still lives,” and devotes much of his time to the service of the Roman Catholic Church, of which he is an obedient and devoted son.

George Riley Stuntz's town-site near the Mouth of Iron River, La Pointe County, 1852.

George Riley Stuntz had a settlement and sawmill near the mouth of the Iron River, 1852.
~ General Land Office Records

Detail of settlements and foot trails in the Sioux River Valley, 1855.

Detail of foot trails in the Sioux River Valley, 1855.
~ General Land Office Records

Leaving Superior late in the forenoon, we arrived at Iron River, twenty miles away; where we were happy to find shelter in a logging camp, full of robust, hearty, whole-souled men, some of whom had come from cultivated homes in the east.  By some means strange to most of that company, the traveling pilgrim discovered a brother of the mystic tie, with whom he passed a pleasant evening, thankful for that fraternal bond, which makes strangers friends and brothers at sight.

Leaving Iron River the next morning, two days march brought us to La Pointe via the valley of the Sioux river, passing through the wilderness then, which is now the cultivated vale, made classic by being the dwelling place of the “Sage of Avoca;” the peer in farming to the immortal Horace, who has earned his title to the peerage by “causing two blades of grass to grow, where but one grew before he came,” and of him we may say:

Remote from cities lived a swain,
Unvexed with all the cares of gain;
His head is silvered o’er with age,
And long experience makes him Sage.

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

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

At La Pointe the first object to meet our profane view were numerous large wooded crosses ten to fifteen feet high, in different parts of the town, erected by the pious zeal of the faithful believers in the then new dogma of “Immaculate Conception.”  We saw also an imposing procession of French mixed bloods, escorting a fat, good natured looking priest through the street, under a gaudy canophy, borne by four devout servants of the Church.  This also was in honor of the same dogma.

We put up for the night at the only hotel of the place, kept by Antoine Gauden, whose aged father, that very night, amid the chanting and prayers of the virgin saints of La Pointe, passed into the presence of the Eternal.  La Pointe at that time was of much greater importance than at present – the most important town on the Lake west of Ontonagon.  It was the annual gathering place of several thousand Indians, who then received their annual payments.  It was the center of the fish trade for all this part of the Lake.  It had, also, quite an extensive fur trade.

Samuel Stuart Vaughn

Samuel Stuart Vaughn
~ Western Reserve Historical Society

Julius Austrian had an extensive store of general merchandise and transacted a large business.  Hon. S.S. Vaughn, one of Ashland’s present most substantial citizens, was then a young merchant at La pointe, where by close attention to business, he was laying the foundation of the fortune he has since achieved.  Wm. E. Vantassel, Government Blacksmith for the Indians, a descendant of an old Knickerbocker family was there – a very skillful workman and a very genial man.  In old age he now resides near Stillwater, Minnesota.  Francis McElroy was also there, full of life and energy.  And last but not least, I must mention John W. Bell, Esq, who even then had lived on the Island more than twenty years, and whose recollections carried him back till he could almost hear the war whoop of the Sioux and Chippewas as the latter drove their old enemies forever away from the land of the Ojibwas.  He has for many years been the “Patriach” of the Island, and is much esteemed by his neighbors.

Frederick Prentice

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

Resting one night, on the following day we started across the bay on snow-shoes, reaching the shore near the Kaukaugon river.  We followed the coast west, and at nightfall we found tracks leading up the ravine, a few rods from where the railroad track now touches the water of the bay.  We found here a log house, built by Lusk, Prentice & Co., for purposes of trade and with the plan for the occupation of the site.  Here we passed our first night.  The ruins of the shanty may be seen on the block now occupied by the residence of Ferinand Schupp.  Adolphus Bart, the clerk of the company, was in charge and made us welcome with his good cheer.  He is now a lawyer in the State of New York.

To be  continued in Number II

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.

Martin Beaser

August 9, 2016

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 24-27.

Martin Beaser.

Martin Beaser

Portrait of Martin Beaser on page 24.

On the fifth day of July 1854, Asaph Whittlesey and George Kilborn left La Pointe, in a row-boat, with the design of finding a “town site” on some available point near the “head of the bay.” At five o’clock P.M. of the same day they landed at the westerly limit of the present town site of Ashland. As Mr. Whittlesey stepped ashore, Mr. Kilborn exclaimed, “Here is the place for a big city!” and handing his companion an axe, he added, “I want you to have the honor of cutting the first tree in a way of a settlement upon the town site.” And the tree thus felled formed one of the foundation logs in the first building in the place. Such is the statement which has found its way into print as to the beginning of Ashland. But the same account adds: “Many new-comers arrived during the first few years after the settlement; among them Martin Beaser, who located permanently in Ashland in 1856, and was one of its founders.”1 How this was will soon be explained.

The father of the subject of this sketch, John Baptiste Beaser, was a native of Switzerland, educated as a priest, but never took orders. He came to America, reaching Philadelphia about the year 1812, where he married Margaret McLeod. They then moved to Buffalo, in one of the suburbs of which, called Williamsville, their son Martin was born, on the twenty-seventh of October, 1822. The boy received his early education in the common schools of the place, when, at the age of fourteen, he went on a whaling voyage, sailing from New Bedford, Massachusetts. His voyage lasted four years; his second voyage, three years; the last of which was made in the whaleship Rosseau, which is still afloat, the oldest of its class in America.

The journal kept by Martin Beaser during his voyages has not been immediately located by Chequamegon History.  Please let us know if you can identify where this valuable source of information can be found.

The young man went out as boat-steerer on his second voyage, returning as third mate. During his leisure time on shipboard and the interval between the two voyages, he spent in studying the science of navigation, which he successfully mastered. On his return from his fourth years’ cruise in the Pacific and Indian oceans, he was offered the position of second mate on a new ship then nearing completion and which would be ready to sail in about sixty days. He accepted the offer. They would notify him when the ship was ready, and he would in the meantime visit his mother, then a widow, residing in Buffalo. Accordingly, after an absence of seven years, he returned to his native city, spending the time in renewing old acquaintances and relating the varied experience of a whaler’s life. He had rare conversational powers, holding his listeners spell-bound at the recital of some thrilling adventure. A journal kept by him during his voyages and now in the possession of his family, abounds in hair-breadth escapes from savages on the shores of some of the South sea islands and the perils of whale-fishing, of which he had many narrow escapes. The time passed quickly, and he anxiously awaited the summons to join his ship. Leaving the city for a day the expected letter came, but was carefully concealed by his mother until after the ship had sailed, thus entirely changing the future of his life.

Martin Beaser appears to have worked with Charles Whittlesey for the Algonquin Company of Detroit during 1845, as featured in Two Months In The Copper Range:
“… Martin, a sailor just from the whaling grounds of the Northwest Coast …”

Disappointed in his aspirations to command a ship in the near future, as he had reasons to hope from the rapid promotions he had already received – from a boy before the mast to mate of a ship in two voyages – and yielding to his mother’s wish not to leave home again, he 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.

"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 T. W. Bristol, 1846, page 97.

“Among the very early settlers at this locality [Ontonagon County] were F. G. White, John Cheynowth. W. W. Spalding, A. Coburn, Abner Sherman, A. C. Davis. S. S. Robinson, Edward Sales. Doctor Osborn, Martin Beaser, and Messrs, Webb, Richards, Lockwood, Hoyt, Hardee, Anthony, Sanderson and Dickerson.”
A History of the Northern Peninsula of Michigan and Its People: Volume 1, by Alvah Littlefield Sawyer, 1911, page 222.

Mr. Beaser was largely identified with the early mining interests of Ontonagon county, being instrumental in opening up and developing some of the best mines in that district.

In 1848 he was married in Cattaraugus county, New York, in the town of Perrysburgh, to Laura Antionette Bebee. The husband and wife the next spring went west, going to Ontonagon by way of Detroit. The trip from buffalo lasted from the first day of May to the sixth of June, they being detained at the “Soo” two weeks on account of the changing of the schooner Napoleon into a propeller, in which vessel, after a voyage of six days, they reached Ontonagon.

Chequamegon History has not found another record about the 1853 Beaser/Coburn/Sayles expedition.  Please let us know if you know where more information can be found.

Here Mr. Beaser resided for seven years in the same business of forwarding and commission, furnishing frequently powder and candles to the miners by the ton. He was a portion of the this time associated with Thomas B. Hanna, formerly of Ohio. They then sold out their interest – Mr. Beaser going in company with Augustus Coburn and Edward Sayles to Superior, at the head of the lake, taking a small boat with them and Indian guides. Thus equipped they explored the region of Duluth, going up the Brule and St. Louis rivers. They then returned to La Pointe, going up Chaquamegon bay; and having their attention called to the site of what is now Ashland, on account of what seemed to be its favorable geographical position. As there had been some talk of the feasibility of connecting the Mississippi river and Lake Superior by a ship canal, it was suggested to them that this point would be a good one for its eastern terminus. Another circumstance which struck them was the contiguity of the Penokee iron range. This was in 1853. The company then returned to Ontonagon.

Martin Beaser’s apparent connection with Charles Whittlesey in the copper region suggests that he may have already been connected to Asaph Whittlesey before they co-founded Ashland together during 1854.

Closing up his business at the latter place, Mr. Beaser decided to return to the bay of Chaquamegon to look up and locate the town site on its southern shore. In the summer of 1854, on arriving there, he found Mr. Whittlesey and Mr. Kilborn on the ground. He then made arrangement with them by which he (Mr. Beaser) was to enter the land, which he did at Superior, where the land office was then located for that section. The contract between the three was, that Mr. Whittlesey and Mr. Kilborn were to receive each an eighth interest in the land, while the residue was to go to Mr. Beaser. The patent for the land was issued to Schuyler Goff, as county Judge of La Pointe county, Wisconsin, who was the trustee for the three men, under the law then governing the location of town sites.

Judge Schuyler Goff was issued this patent for 280.53 acres on May 3rd, 1860, on behalf of Martin Beaser, Asaph Whittlesey, and George Kilborn. ~ General Land Office Records

La Pointe County Judge Schuyler Goff was issued this patent for 280.53 acres on June 23rd, 1862, on behalf of Martin Beaser, Asaph Whittlesey, and George Kilburn.
~ General Land Office Records

Mr. Beaser afterwards got his deed from the judge to his three-quarters’ interest in the site.

Beaser named Ashland after the Henry Clay Estate in Kentucky. ~ National Park Service

Beaser named Ashland in honor of the Henry Clay Estate in Kentucky.
~ National Park Service

In January, 1854, Mr. Beaser having previously engaged a topographical engineer, G.L. Brunschweiler, the two, with a dog train and two Indians, made the journey from Ontonagon to the proposed town site, where Mr. Brunschweiler surveyed and platted2 a town on the land of the men before spoken of as parties in interest, to which town Mr. Beaser gave the name of Ashland. These three men, therefore, were the founders of Ashland, although afterwards various additions were made to it.

Many of our readers are familiar with Beaser Avenue in Ashland, Wisconsin, named in honor of Martin Beaser.

Mr. Beaser did not bring his family to Ashland until the eighth of September, 1856. He engaged in the mercantile business there until the war broke out, and was drowned in the bay while attempting to come from Bayfield to Ashland in an open boat, during a storm, on the fourth of November, 1866. He was buried on Madeline island at La Pointe. He was “closely identified with enterprises tending to open up the country; was wealthy and expended freely; was a man of fine discretion and good, common sense.” He was never discouraged as to Ashland’s future prosperity.

The children of Mr. Beaser, three in number, are all living: Margaret Elizabeth, wife of James A. Croser of Menominee, Michigan; Percy McLeod, now of Ashland; and Harry Hamlin, also of Ashland, residing with his mother, now Mrs. Wilson, an intelligent and very estimable lady.


1 See ‘History of Northern Wisconsin,’ p. 67.
2 The date of the platting of Ashland by Brunschweiler is taken from the original plat in the possession of the recorder of Ashland county, Wisconsin.

Edwin Ellis, M.D.

August 7, 2016

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 21-24.

Edwin Ellis.

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

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

The subject of this sketch is a native of New England, and one of the “Oxford Bears,” having been in Peru, Oxford county, Maine, in 1824. His birthplace was on the banks of the Androscoggin river, among the mountains, a wild, romantic place. His ancestors came early from England to the Massachusetts colony, about the middle of the seventeenth century.

His maternal grandfather was in the Revolutionary army, and to the end of a long life was intensely patriotic and American in all his acts and thoughts. He bought one hundred and sixty acres of government land at the close of the War of the Revolution, on which he lived for more than seventy years, until his death. It still remains in the family. There were no roads in his neighborhood; and at first he was obliged to carry his corn and wheat to mill, for more than thirty miles, upon his shoulders and by a “spotted line.” He lived to break the ground for a railroad to his town and to see its completion.

Dr. Ellis received his early education in the New England common school, whose term was not more than three months in the year. At the age of fourteen years he began the study of Latin at home, going for occasional recitations to one of the celebrated Abbot family, who was a farmer in the town, some four miles distant. He was inclined to study the law, but his mother, who was a most conscientious woman, thought an honest lawyer could not live by his calling, often repeating to him this couplet –

“If I turn lawyer, I must lie and cheat,
For honest lawyers have no bread to eat.”

This had some influence upon him, and he chose the profession of medicine. He entered Waterville college (now Cobly university) in 1842, pursuing its first year’s course, when he began the study of medicine, teaching school in winter to raise money enough to pay his expenses, in which he was cheerfully assisted by his father to the extent of his means, which were very limited, he being a house carpenter and receiving the usual wages of those days of one dollar to one dollar and fifty cents per day.

Edwin Ellis graduated in medicine at the University of the city of New York, in March, 1846, being nearly twenty-two years of age. He at first settled at North New Portland, Maine. It was a frontier town, and the roads in such condition that he was obliged to travel on horseback, going sometimes forty miles in the night.

Portrait of Judge Daniel A. J. Baker ~ The Eye of the North-west, page 9.

Brother-in-law Daniel A. J. Baker
~ The Eye of the North-west, pg. 9.

At the end of a year he settled in Farmington, Maine, where he had studied his profession, where, in 1847, he was married to Sophia S. Davis, who lived less than two years, leaving a daughter, Sophia Augusta, who married George H. Kennedy, who now lives at Ashland.

Dr. Ellis married Martha B. Baker of New Sharon, Maine, in 1850, a woman who has been a faithful and efficient wife for almost forty years. By her he has three children – Domelia, married to George C. Loranger of Calumet, Michigan; Edwin H., bookkeeper in the First National Bank of Ashland, and J. Scott, engaged in wood and coal at Ashland.

Dr. Ellis continued the practice of his profession in Maine, till 1854, with an increasing practice and fair prospects.

“[Judge] Daniel A. J. Baker was born in 1822 in New Sharon, Maine; and died in Minneapolis, October 2, 1909.  He came to Minnesota in 1849, and taught at St. Paul, in 1850-51, the first public school in the territory, having 103 pupils in attendance.  After practicing law here three years, he joined with others in 1854 in pre-empting the site and founding the town of Superior, Wisconsin.”
Minnesota Historical Society Collections: Volume XV, page 832.

But the west was then attracting much attention and the tide of emigration flowing with a strong current. His wife’s brother, Judge Baker of St. Paul, and been for several years in St. Paul, and his representations and inducements led him to sever his pleasant relations with the east and try his fortunes in the west. He with his family, wife and two children, reached St. Paul early in May, 1854. That year he carried on a farm where Merriam park now is, but he was not at home in this business, and abandoned it in the fall of that year.

The years 1852 to 1857 were years of great speculation throughout the northwest. Towns and cities, at least on paper, were springing up with marvelous rapidity. Men became, or seemed to become, suddenly rich by the rapid rise of farming lands and city lots. It was an era of strange speculation, demoralizing in its effects and leading to the terrible panic of 1857.

Superior City preemption and speculation involved General Land Office frauds.
Augustus Hamilton Barber‘s activities in surveying and speculation of the Chequamegon Bay region for the General Land Office are detailed in the Joel Allen Barber Papers.

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

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

A party of speculators had preëmpted the land where the city of Superior now is, in 1852, and as early as 1855 were selling shares in that rising city for fabulous prices. Chaquamegon bay, extending far inland from the Apostles’ islands, appeared, to thoughtful persons, to be a site for a town which would command the trade of a large area of country, then without an inhabitant. Thither he, in February, 1855, with one companion, came by trail from St. Paul. On his arrival he found two families already on the spot where Ashland now lies – Asaph Whittlesey and his father-in-law, Mr. Haskell, who came in the fall preceding; while Lusk, Prentice & Co. had a trading-post and were building a dock. Mr. Whittlesey, with whom were associated Martin Beaser and George Kilborn, were then laying out what is now Beaser’s Division of Ashland, which they claimed under the town site law. The township lines on the bay had been run, but no section lines. The land was not subject to entry or settlement; all were trespassers. But running from the township lines, the settlers were able to locate approximately the section lines, and built preëmption shanties for the purpose of holding the land till it should be subject to entry. In June, 1855, Dr. Ellis went through the woods to Dubuque, Iowa, to urge upon General Warner Lewis, then surveyor-general of all the northwest, the necessity of the immediate subdivision of the towns about the bay. This met with General Lewis’ approval, and he ordered it done as soon as arrangements could be made. A young civil engineer from Vermont, Augustus Barber, began the work in September, and towns 47 and 48, range 4, embracing the present city of Ashland, were surveyed and the plats returned to Washington and to the land office, at Superior, by November, 1855. The necessary declaratory statements were filed, and in the last of December several companions walked along the shore to Superior, for the purpose of proving up their claims. It was a cold, hard trip, but the actors were young and energetic. Thus was obtained from the government the first title to the soil on which Ashland now stands.

Ellis received his title from the General Land Office to 125.72 acres of land in Ashland on July 15th, 1858. ~ General Land Office Records

Ellis was issued his title to 125.72 acres of land in Ashland on July 15th, 1858.
~ General Land Office Records

Downtown St. Paul, 1857. ~ Minnesota Historical Society

Downtown in Saint Paul during the financial panic of 1857.
~ Minnesota Historical Society

Leonard Hemenway Wheeler ~ Unnamed Wisconsin by [????]

Leonard Hemenway Wheeler
~ Unnamed Wisconsin, by John Nelson Davidson, 1895.

Dr. Ellis brought his family by boat from St. Paul in the fall of 1855, going down the Mississippi river from St. Paul to Dubuque, thence to Chicago and thence by the lakes, reaching La Pointe November 4, and his log-cabin on the bay a day or two later. In conjunction with his associates in St. Paul, he entered upon a system of improvements for the purpose of building up a town where Ashland now is, such as cutting out streets, building a dock, steam saw-mill, etc. But the financial storm of 1857 came and overwhelmed him in what appeared to be hopeless bankruptcy. He had incurred debts in the improvements made and his associates could not meet the drafts they had authorized him to make upon them, but by the most rigid economy and untiring industry, he, after several years, succeeded in paying every claim. He remained in Ashland till 1861, when the War of the Rebellion coming on, the little hamlet of Ashland lost nearly all its inhabitants, and he felt compelled, in order to earn bread for his family, to leave the lake, and was preparing to do so when his staunch friend, the Rev. Leonard H. Wheeler, the missionary of the American board in charge of the Indian mission and boarding-school at Odonah, induced him to change his plans and go to Odonah and take charge of the boarding-school and farm at the mission. And here for several years he remained in this work, years which he recalls as the happiest of his life. Mr. Wheeler was a man of education and culture, a graduate of Middlebury and Andover seminary and most heartily devoted to his missionary work among the Indians. His wife was a refined and most amicable lady, and their home was indeed an oasis in the moral desert around them. In 1866 Mr. Wheeler’s failing health, and his desire to afford his children better educational advantages, induced him to retire from the mission work, and the American board suspended their work there. Dr. Ellis and family went to Ontonagon, Michigan, in 1866, where he resumed his profession and also opened a small drug store. Here he remained until 1872, when the proposed building of the Wisconsin Central railroad to Ashland induced his return to his old home. He had held on to his lands on the bay as a forlorn hope, doubtful whether they were worth the light taxes levied upon them. This land now became valuable and placed him in easy circumstances. He was able with Mr. Whittlesey, Mr. Vaughn, Mr. Fifield, Colonel Knight and others to induce the building of four trunk lines of railroads to Ashland, to see numerous manufactures, a great blast-furnace, etc., three great ore docks, a busy, bustling city upon the bay, from which he had been compelled to retreat with the feeling that everything had been lost.

Many of our readers are familiar with Ellis Avenue in Ashland, Wisconsin, named in honor of Edwin Ellis, M.D.

In 1877 he was appointed as county judge of Ashland county, by Governor Smith, to which he has been twice re-elected by his fellow-citizens. He is president of the First National Bank of Ashland. He has retired from the general practice of his profession, but is one of the surgeons of St. Joseph’s hospital, which he visits an hour each day. He is still active and deeply interested in all that concerns Ashland; has aided in securing the Holly system of water-works, the gas and electric works and the street railway. He is a firm believer in the Christian religion and in a personal God, whose guiding hand he recognizes in all the events of his life, and to whom he owes everything and to whom he desires to honor in all his journey of life, and is still alive to all efforts designed to improve and elevate the condition of his fellow-men.

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

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

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

1856-08-19 Superior Chronicle - Ironton

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

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

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


The Ashland Press

January 4, 1873

Ashland! It’s Growth During the Year 1872

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

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

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

~ TurtleTrack.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[…]


The Ashland Press

February 26, 1926

CITY OF ASHLAND IS 72 YEARS OLD TODAY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Ashland Weekly Press became the Ashland Daily Press.

July 28, 1877

Recollections of Ashland

“OF WHICH I WAS A PART”
Number V

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[…]

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

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

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

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

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

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


Interior Field Notes

Ironton Townsite

La Pointe Indian Reservation

Township 47 North, Range 1 West

Barber, Augustus H.

November, 1856

Notebook ID: [N/a]

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


Selected letters of the Joel Allen Barber Papers 

… continued from Spring of 1856.


Superior City Sept 15th 1856

Dear Mother

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With love for yourself and Amherst I remain

Your affectionate son

Allen


To be continued in the Fall of 1856