By Amorin Mello

A curious series of correspondences from Morgan

… continued from Copper Harbor.

 


 

1845 daily union header

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

 EDITOR’S CORRESPONDENCE.

[From our Regular Correspondent.]

THE COPPER REGION.

La Pointe, Lake Superior

July 28, 1845.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joab Bernard was a Trustee of the Boston Mining Company.

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

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

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

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

"Grand Sable Dunes" ~ National Park Service

“Grand Sable Dunes”
~ National Park Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This beach is by Little Girls’ Point.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In great haste I am,

Very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

MORGAN.

 


 

To be continued in La Pointe

By Amorin Mello & Leo Filipczak

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

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

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

Legends of the Land of Lakes

Legend of the Montreal River.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Amorin Mello


Selected letters of the Joel Allen Barber Papers 

… continued from the Spring of 1857.


 

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

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

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

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

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

Milwaukee Genealogical Society, 1881, page 790.

Augustus Barber Grave

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

~ FindAGrave.com

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

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

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

Chequamegon Point

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

barber apostle islands

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

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

  • William W Ward
  • Alexander Aiken
  • Louis Nevioux

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

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

 


 

Exterior Field Notes

Township 51 North, Range 2 West

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

Barber, J. Allen

April 1857

Notebook ID: EXT27501

EXT27501 cover

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

EXT27501 book 275

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

EXT27501 affidavit 1

EXT27501 affidavit 2

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

EXT27501 copy 1

EXT27501 copy 2.jpg

 


 

Interior Field Notes

Barber, J. Allen

Mar. 1857

Notebook ID: INT011E03

INT011E03 cover

No. 11 T. 46-47-52-&53. R. 1. East”

 

Township 46 North, Range 1 East

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

T46N R1E detail from 1860 whittlesey map

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

 

Township 47 North, Range 1 East

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

View on Montreal River

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

 

Township 52 North, Range 1 East

T52N R1E

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

 

Township 53 North, Range 1 East

T53N R1E survey

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

T53N R1E title page

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

T53N R1E assistants

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

T53N R1E affidavit 1

T53N R1E affidavit 2

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

 


 

Interior Field Notes

Township 51 North, Range 1 West

Barber, J. Allen

Apr. 1857

Notebook ID: INT010W04

T51N R1W

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

T51N R1W title

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

T51N R1W assistants

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

T51N R1W affidavit 1

T51N R1W 2

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

 


 

Interior Field Notes

Township 52 North Range 1 West

Barber, J. Allen

Apr. 1857

Notebook ID: INT010W05

T52N R1W

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

T52N R1W title

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

T52N R1W assistants

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

T52N R1W affidavit

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

 


 

Interior Field Notes

Township 53 North Range 1 West

Barber, J. Allen

Apr. 1857

Notebook ID: INT010W06

T53N R1W

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

T53N R1W title

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

T53N R1W assistants

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

T53N R1W affidavit

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

 


 

Interior Field Notes

Township 50 North Range 2 West

Barber, J. Allen

Apr. 1857

Notebook ID: INT019W04

T50N R2W

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

T50N R2W title

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

T50N R2W assistants

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

T50N R2W affidavit

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

 


 

Interior Field Notes

Township 51 North Range 2 West

Barber, J. Allen

Apr. 1857

Notebook ID: INT019W02

T51N R2W survey

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

T51N R2W title

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

T51N R2W assistants

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

T51N R2W general remarks

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

T51N R2W affidavit 1

T51N R2W affidavit 2

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

T51N R2W end

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

 


 

Interior Field Notes

Township 52 North Range 2 West

Barber, J. Allen

Apr. 1857

Notebook ID: INT019W03

T52N R2W

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

T52N R2W title

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

T52N R2W general remarks

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

T52N R2W affidavit

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

 


 

Interior Field Notes

Township 53 North Range 2 West

Barber, J. Allen

Apr. 1857

Notebook ID: INT019W05

T53N R2W

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

T53N R2W assistants

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

T53N R2W affidavit

T53N R2W affidavit 2

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

 


 

Interior Field Notes

Township 51 North Range 3 West

Barber, J. Allen

Apr. 1857

Notebook ID: INT030W06

T51N R3W

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

T51N R3W title

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

T51N R3W assistants

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

T51N R3W general remarks

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

T51N R3W affidavit

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

 


 

Interior Field Notes

Township 52 North Range 3 West

Barber, J. Allen

Apr. 1857

Notebook ID: INT030W07

T52N R3W

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

T52N R3W title

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

T52N R3W assistants 1

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

T52N R3W general description

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

T52N R3W affidavit 1

T52N R3W affidavit 2

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

 


 

Interior Field Notes

Township 53 North Range 3 West

Barber, J. Allen

Apr. 1857

Notebook ID: INT030W08

T53N R3W

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

T53N R3W title

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

T53N R3W assistants

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

T53N R3W general description

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

T53N R3W affidavit

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

 


 

Interior Field Notes

Township 51 North Range 4 West

Barber, J. Allen

Apr. 1857

Notebook ID: INT040W04

T51N R4W

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

T51N R4W title.jpg

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

T51N R4W assistants

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

T51N R4W general description

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

T51N R4W general description 2

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

T51N R4W affidavit 1

T51N R4W affidavit 2

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

 


 

Interior Field Notes

Township 52 North Range 4 West

Barber, J. Allen

Apr. 1857

Notebook ID: INT040W05

T52N R4W

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

T52N R4W title

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

T52N R4W assistants

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

T52N R4W general description

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

T52N R4W affidavit 1.jpg

T52N R4W affidavit 2

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

 


 

Interior Field Notes

Township 52 North Range 5 West

Barber, J. Allen

Apr. 1857

Notebook ID: INT050W04

T52N R5W

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

T52N R5W title

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

T52N R5W assistants

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

T52N R5W affidavit 1

T52N R5W affidavit 2

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

 


 

1857-08-22 Bayfield Mercury header

Bayfield Mercury, August 22, 1857.

IRONTON

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


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

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

Josiah_whitney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


 

Lancaster Aug 30th 1857

Dear Son.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mother

 


 

Johnson Sept 20 /57

Friend Allen

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

Good night

Hattie C.

P.S.

Beware of those pretty squaws out there.

 

Allen,

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

That’s all

Am

 


 

Lancaster Sept 20th 1857

Dear Son.

george r stuntz

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

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

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

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

Augustus Barber Grave

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

~ FindAGrave.com

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

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

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

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

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

your Mother

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

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

 


 

To be continued in the Fall of 1857

By Amorin Mello

Selected letters of the Joel Allen Barber Papers 

… continued from Winter of 1856.


Johnson April 5th 1856

Dear Son

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

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

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

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

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

Augustus was in a little trouble.”

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

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

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

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

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

Yours in heart

G. A. Barber.


Johnson April 13th /56

My Dear Allen

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

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

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

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

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

They have no children.

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

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

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

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

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

Your Affectionate

Mother

J. A. Barber


Johnson April 13th 1856

Dear Son.

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

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

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

Yours in haste

Giles W. Barber


Cambridge May 30th 1856

My very dear son Allen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your affectionate Mother


[Incomplete copy of letter]

[ante May, 1856]

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

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

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

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

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

Was Augustus murdered?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Augustus H. Barber


To be continued in the Summer of 1856

Susan Johnston, or Ozhaawashkodewekwe, the wife of John Johnston  ( Chicago Newberry Library)

The name of John Johnston will be familiar to those who have read the works of his son-in-law Henry Schoolcraft.  Johnston (1762-1828) was born into the Anglo-Protestant gentry of Northern Ireland and came to the Chequamegon region in 1791.  After marrying Ozhaawashkodewekwe, the daughter of Waabojiig, he cemented his alliance with a prominent Ojibwe trading family.  The Johnstons settled at Sault Ste. Marie, and their influence as a fur-trade power couple in the eastern part of Lake Superior parallels that of Michel and Madeline (Ikwezewe) Cadotte around La Pointe.  The Johnstons played a key role in resistance to American encroachment in Lake Superior during the War of 1812 but later became centrally-connected to the United States Government efforts to establish a foothold in the northern country.  A nice concise biography of John Johnston is available in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.

Roderick MacKenzie (Wikimedia Commons)

In 1806, John Johnston was trading at the Soo for the North West Company when he received a printed request from Roderick MacKenzie, one of the heads of the Company.  It called for information on the physical and cultural geography of the different parts of North America where the NWC traded.  Johnston took it upon himself to describe the Lake Superior region and prepared An Account of Lake Superior, an 82-page manuscript.

By the end of the 19th century, the manuscript had found its way to Louis Rodrigue Masson (a grandson-in-law of MacKenzie) who edited it and published it in Les Bourgeois de la Compagnie du Nord-Ouest; recits de voyages, lettres et rapports inedits relatifs au Nord-Ouest Canadien (1889-90).   The Masson archives were later donated to the McGill University Library in Montreal and are now digitized.  

Much of Johnston’s account concerns the Sault and the eastern part of Lake Superior.  However, he does include some information from his time at La Pointe, which is reproduced below.  While it doesn’t say much about the political topics that I tend to focus on, this document is fascinating for its geographic toponyms and terminology, which is much more reflective of the 18th century than the 19th.  Enjoy:

[Ojibwe names for geographic locations are taken from Gidakiiminaan:  An Anishinaabe Atlas of the 1836 (Upper Michigan), 1837, and 1842 Treaty Ceded Territories (GLIFWC 2007)].

[pg. 49-56]

…The coast runs almost due West from the Kakewiching or Porcupine Mountain to the Montreal River a distance of fifteen leagues, and the beach is a shelving rock the same as the Mountain all the way with here and there a little gravelly strand. There is but one river, and that a very small one, from the Black to the Montreal River. This last takes its rise from the Wa[s]wagonnis or flambeau Lake about 80 leagues to the Southwest: it is one continued rapid from within ten leagues of its source, and a few hundred yards from the entrance has a fall of fifteen or twenty feet: – there are two high clay banks which distinguish the entrance. The lands tends to the Northwest and is a stiff clay for three leagues rent into deep gutters at short distances; it then gradually declines to a sandy beach for three leagues farther until you arrive at the Mouskissipi or bad river so called from its broad and shallow stream in which it is almost impossible to mount even an Indian Canoe.

It takes its rise from the Ottawa Lake about 125 leagues to the Westward: the Lake has its waters divided very partially as the chief part takes a southerly course and falls into the Mississipi and is called Ottawa River.

The Flambeau Lake has its waters also, the better part taking a southeasterly direction to the Mississipi and is called Ouisconsin or the medicine River. From the bad river the coast runs north four leagues to Chogowiminan or La Pointe; it is a fine strand all the way, behind which are sand hills covered with bent and sand cherry shrubs – and behind the hills there runs all the length a shallow bay which is a branch from the Bay of St Charles.

At Lapointe you are nearly opposite the Anse or Keegwagnan the distance I should conjecture to be twenty leagues in a straight line.

The Bay of St Charles runs southwest from La Pointe and is four leagues in depth and better than a league broad at the entrance. Opposite Lapointe to the Northeast is the Island of Montreal, one of the largest of those called the twelve Apostles. On the main land the Indians had once a Village amounting to 200 huts but since the Traders have multiplied, they no longer assemble at Netoungan or the sand beach, but remain in small bands near their hunting grounds. When you double the Point of Netoungan the coast tends nearly west and is composed of high rocky points of Basaltes with some freestone; there is one place in particular which is an humble imitation of the Portals but not near so high: it is about a leagues from La Pointe and is a projection from the highest mountain from Porcupine bay to fond du lac, a distance of more than 45 leagues. From the Summit of the Mountain; you can count twenty six Islands extending to the North and North east, Islands which has never been visited by the boldest Indians and lying out of the way of the N.W.Co’s Vessel: have a chance of never being better known. Of the Islands opposite La pointe ten or twelve have been visited by the Indians, some of which have a rich soil covered with oak and beech, and round all of them there is deep water and fine fishing for Trout. The Trout in this part of the Lake are equal to those of Mackinac in size & richness – I myself saw one taken off the Northeast end of Montreal Island that weighed fifty two Pounds. How many Islands this Archipelago actually contains will not be easily ascertained; but I take Carribou Island to be the eastern end of the chain. It lies a little to the Southward of the course of the Co’s Vessel, is about three miles round, has a flat shore and good anchorage, and is allowed to be half passage from Camanitiquia to St. Mary’s. However, no other land is seen from it by the Vessel; but that may be owing to the Islands being low and lying too much to the Southward of the course. It is to be observed this account of the number of Islands is upon Indian Authority, which though not the best, is still less apocryphal than that of the Canadians.

There are several rivers between Lapointe and Fond du Lac, the distance is allowed to be thirty leagues, and the breadth of the bay from a high Rocky point within a leagues of Netoungan to the roche deboute, or the upright rock, which is a lofty Mountain right opposite, cannot be less than twenty leagues.

The Metal River is within ten leagues of Fond du Lac; it is only remarkable from the Old Chief of Lapointe’s having once found a large piece of Silver ore in descending it. The Burnt river is three leagues to the Westward of Metal river; it issues from one of the Lakes of the little wild Oats Country about thirty leagues to the Southward, and is only navigable for small Canoes: it has several rapids and the Portages are dangerous, several of them lying along the edge of the river, and over precipices where one false step would be fatal. It empties itself into the Bay of Fond du Lac through a stiff Clay Bank which continues all along the shore until it joins the sands of Fond du Lac river.

About sixteen years ago, Wabogick, or the Whitefisher, the Chief of Lapointe, made his sugar on the skirt of a high mountain four days march from the entrance of the river to the south west, his eldest daughter then a girl of fourteen with a cousin of hers who was two or three years older, rambling one day up the eastern side of the Mountain came to a perpendicular Cliff, which exactly fronted the rising sun, and had an apparently artificial level before it, on which near the base of the Cliff they found a pieces of yellow metal as they called it, about eighteen inches long, a foot broad, and four inches thick; and perfectly Smooth: – it was so heavy that they could raise it with great difficulty: – after amusing themselves with examining it for some time, it occured to the eldest girl that it belonged to the Gitchi Manitou or the great spirit; upon which they abandoned the place with precipitation. As the Chipeways are not Idolators, it occurs to me that some of the Southern tribes must have once Migrated thus far to the North, and that the piece, either of copper or gold, is part of an alter dedicated to the sun. If my conjecture is right, the slab is most probably gold as the Mexicans have more of that Metal than they have of copper. I have often regretted the premature death of the Chief the same autumn that he told me the story, as he had promised to go and bring it to me if he recovered: and circumstances since have precluded my making any attempt to procure it.

The river of Fond du Lac is deep, wide and serpentine, but is only navigable for four or five leagues from its entrance. The Portages are many and different until you arrive at the sand Lake, where the tribe of Chipeways, called the Pillagers, reside. The furs from this country are the best assorted of any on the Continent; and the quantity would much increase were it possible to repress the mutual incursions of the Scieux and Chipeways, who caray on perpetual war. The tract of country lying between the two nations for near 150 leagues in length and from thirty to forty in breadth is only visited by stealth, and if peaceably hunted would be more productive than the richest mine of Peru…

[pg. 75-76]

…The wild Vine is not found at St Mary’s nor any where along the lake except at Lapointe, where however it is scarce. The wild Hop is very abundant at Lapointe but I do not recollect to have seen it elsewhere. There are three distinct species of Whortleberry. The blue or real whortleberry is by far the most wholesome and agreeable: the abundance of this fruit on the borders of Lake Superior is incredible; the Indians dry great quantities of them which they preserve during the winter, and which make an agreeable taste when repeatedly washed in warm water to take away the smoky taste from them. The black Whortleberry grows much higher than the blue; its seeds are very hard and astringent – the largest species the Indians call Hareberry; it grows to 2 or 3 feet high and bears a fruit as large as a cherry, but it is neither so agreeable nor so wholesome as either of the others…

Kakewiching:  Gaag-wajiwan (Porcupine Mountains)
Waswagonnis:  Waaswaganing (Lake of the Torch Light)
This last one takes its rise…  Lac du Flambeau and Lac Courte Oreilles (Ottawa Lake) are in the Mississippi watershed via the Chippewa River.  They connect with the Lake Superior watershed only through overland portages to the Montreal and Bad Rivers They are not, as Johnston suggests, the sources of those rivers.
Mouskissipi:  Mashkii-ziibi (Swampy River)–Johnston suggests the Bad is bad because it’s hard to navigate.  Others have asserted that the French misheard Mashkii (swampy) as Maji (bad).
Ottawa River:  This is the Chippewa River
Ouisconsin:  The origin of the name Wisconsin has been debated for centuries.  The Gidakiiminaan atlas lists six possible translations, none of which are Medicine River.
St. Charles, Lapointe, Montreal Island:  This shows that “Chequamegon Bay,” “Village of La Pointe,” and “Madeline Island” are relatively recent terms.  Johnston, writing twenty years after the American Revolution, is still using older French terms for the bay and island.  To him “Lapointe” and “Chogowiminan” are synonymous, and refer to the point, not Michel Cadotte’s trading post on nearby “Montreal” Island.
On the main land… This shows that Waabojiig’s village, where Johnston met his wife, was on the mainland, not the Island.
Point of Netoungan:  The reference to “sand” and a west-running coast suggest this is Point Detour and Netoungan is Sand Bay.  
Poisson Blanc (whitefish), Broche (pike) and Truite Comune (Lake Trout) from the Codex Canadensis.
How many Islands…:  Today we count 22 Apostle Islands, but historically that number changes according to which shoals, outcroppings, peninsulas, and washed-away islands are included.  I have a hard time believing Johnston’s claim that only ten or twelve had been visited.
Carribou Island:  Lake Superior’s Caribou Island is near Michipicoten at the far eastern end of the lake, nowhere near the Apostles.  Outer Island is the farthest east, but if Johnston’s Carribou is one of the Apostles, he is probably referring to Michigan Island.
Camanitiquia:  Kaministiquia or Fort William (now Thunder Bay) was the headquarters of the North West Company after it was forced to withdraw from Grand Portage on the American side of the border.
Metal River:  Iron (Biwaabik) River.
The “little wild Oats Country” Manoominikeshinh or Folle Avoine is the St. Croix River, named for its abundance of wild rice.
Burnt river:  Bois Brule River (Wisaakode-ziibi)
Fond du Lac river:  Gichi-gamiwi-ziibi or St. Louis River
Wabogick:  Waabojiig (d. 1793), the White Fisher, was Johnston’s father in law.  He was the son of Mamaangezide of the Caribou Clan.  Both Mamaangezide and Waabojiig were renowned Chequamegon war chiefs.
girl of fourteen:  Presumably this is Ozhaawashkodewekwe, Johnston’s wife, a commanding figure in the history of the Lake Superior trade in the early 19th century.
the Pillagers:  The Sandy Lake Band, at that time led by Gaa-dawaabide (Broken Tooth), is not generally grouped with the Pillager Band or  Makandwewininiwag who were centered at Leech Lake.
real whortleberry:  “Whortleberry” is a term applied to several members of the genus Vaccinium.  Johnston’s “real” whortleberry is almost certainly the blueberry.  From the description, it seems more likely the other two “whortleberries” he refers to are the blackberry and thimbleberry (genus Rubus) rather than other species of Vaccinium(Photo:  Wikimedia Images)  

This is all for now on John Johnston, but this document is a potential jumping-off point for several potential research topics.  Look for an upcoming post on the meaning of “La Pointe” and “La Pointe Band.”

Sources:
Armour, David A. “JOHNSTON, JOHN,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 6, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed June 12, 2014, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/johnston_john_6E.html.
Gidakiiminaan = Our Earth. Odanah, WI: Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission, 2007. Print.
Masson, L. R. Les Bourgeois De La Compagnie Du Nord-Ouest: Recits De Voyages, Lettres Et Rapports Inedits Relatifs Au Nord-ouest Canadien. Québec: A. Côté, 1889. Print.
Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe. Oneóta, or Characteristics of the Red Race of America. New York: Wiley & Putnam, 1845. Print
Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe. The Indian in His Wigwam, Or, Characteristics of the Red Race of America from Original Notes and Manuscripts. New York: W.H. Graham, 1848. Print.
Warren, William W., and Theresa M. Schenck. History of the Ojibway People. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 2009. Print.