By Amorin Mello

 

Madeline Island Museum

Julius Austrian Papers

Folder 6: James Hughes Affair (1853-1866)

 


 

J. Austrian

Power of Attorney to

J. Hughes

“State of Wisconsin”
“La Pointe County”
“Office of Register of Deeds”

Received for Record on this 10th day of December 1853 at 7 O Clock P.M. and Recorded on Pages 20 and 21 in Book A of Records of Deeds.

Robt. D. Boyd

Register of Deeds

 

– – – – – – – – – –

 

James Bibb Hughes of St. Paul, MN, and Hudson, WI.
Newsman; Politician; Abolitionist.
~ Wikipedia.org

Know all men

Moses S. Gibson was a prominent banker and politician in Hudson, WI.

by these presents that I Julius Austrian of La Pointe, Lapointe County and state of Wisconsin, have made, constituted, and appointed and do by these presents, make, constitute and appoint James Hughes now of La Pointe my lawful Attorney for me and in my name, place and stead to, to sell, alien, and convey, any and all rights, title claim and interest that I have or may have unto any lands or lands purchased by me as the public land sales at Willow River or the second day of May A. D. 1853 for which I hold a Duplicate No 242 signed by Moses S. Gibson received Dated May 2, 1853.

Giving and granting unto my said Attorney full power and Authority to do and perform all and every act or thing whatsoever, requisite and necessary to be done and performed in and about the Premises, as fully & completely, to all intents and purposes as I myself might or could do if I were personally present with full authority to make deeds or deeds for lands sold & to receive money & receipt for same here by ratifying and confirming all the acts or acts of my said Attorney (as fully as I myself could do & [cause?] to be [owner?]) by virtue thereof.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hands & seal this 30th day of May AD 1853

Julius Austrian

 

Signed Sealed & delivered
in Presence of

Henry Smitz
S Goff

 


 

State of Wisconsin
County of La Pointe

Schuyler Goff later became a La Pointe County Judge and involved with Penokee mixed-blood lands.

S. Goff came personally before me and being duly sworn according to laws, Says, That, he signed the annexed foregoing power of Attorney from Julius Austrian to James Hughes bearing date on the 30 day of May AD 1853, as one of the subscribing witnesses thereto, and that his Deponents signature thereon and thereto, is genuine, that Deponents was then and still is acquainted with and personally knew the said Julius Austrian who signed the said Power of Attorney, and that he signed the same in the presence of this Deponent at the time the same bears date. To wit: on the 30th day of May AD 1853, and the said Julius Austrian’s signature thereto and thereon is genuine.

S. Goff

Subscribed and Sworn
to before me the 10th day
of december AD 1853

John W. Bell
Justice of the peace

 


 

This Agreement

made and entered into between Charles H Oakes, Michael E Ames and Isaac Van Etten of St Paul, Minnesota Territory of the first part and James Hughes of Hudson Wisconsin, of the second part witnesseth:

Julius Austrian purchased the American Fur Company’s La Pointe Lands from the Bealieu/Borup/Oakes family of white and mixed-blood fur traders.
Michael E. Ames and Isaac Van Etten were lawyers and politicians in Minnesota Territory during the 1850’s.
Austrian and Oakes both signed the 1847 Treaty at Fond Du Lac.
Austrian and Van Etten were both involved with Chippewa Mixed Blood Land Fraud.

That the said parties of the first part do hereby agree to pay or cause to be paid, the sum of Three Hundred and fifty Dollars, to be paid unto the said James Hughes, party of the second part, as soon as two certain Warranty Deeds made and executed by Julius Austrian through and by the said James Hughes, his Attorney in fact, to the parties of the first part of even date herewith, shall by duly Recorded in the office of the Register of La Pointe county, Wisconsin, upon the express condition however, that no deed or other instrument of conveyance of the lands described in the said Deed, or any part of them, has been executed or Recorded in said County or State from Julius Austrian, or from his Attorney in fact previous to the Record of the above deeds, to the parties of the first part.

And upon the further condition that the entry or purchase from the United States Government, of the said Austrian of said lands mentioned and described in said Deeds to the parties of the first part, shall be held good and valid by the Government and not vacated or cancelled, and that a patent issue from the United States Government therefore and perfecting the title thereof in the parties of the first part.

And the parties of the first part further agree to pay unto the said James Hughes the further sum of Six Hundred Dollars after and out of the proceeds of the sale of a portion of the property ( Real Estate described in the said two Deeds of Julius Austrian, executed and delivered to the parties of the first, by said James Hughes, as Attorney in fact, for said Austrian above named, after the same shall have been sold and proceeds therefrom realized and not before.

Charles Henry Oakes
La Pointe fur trader; Chippewa treaties signatory; father of a mixed-bloods family; St. Paul banker and Free Mason.
~ Findagrave.com

It is further understood and agreed by and between the parties of the first part, and the party of the second part hereto that the payments of the above sums or either of them, is dependent and upon the express condition, that the said Warranty Deed, bearing even date herewith, to the parties of the first part above herewith, to the parties of the first part above described, does and shall convey and vest a good perfect and legal title of the lands describe therein, in and to the parties of the first part, their heirs and assigns in fee simple, free of all adverse title or titles, and free from all incumbrance (Excepting a certain Mortgage upon a part of the premises to secure the payments of about fifteen Hundred Dollars, from the said Austrian to Charles H Oakes of the parties of the first part).

Otherwise it is understood and agreed that the party of the second part, has not and shall not have any claim whatever when the parties of the first part for the payment of the above mentioned sums, or any part thereof.

In witness whereof, we have hereto set our hands the 1st day of December AD 1853

in duplicate form

Signed Chas H Oakes

[Other signatories cut off in scan]

Isaac Van Duzer Heard was also a Minnesota Territory lawyer and politician during the 1850’s.

In presence of

I V D Heard

 


 

Julius Austrian

To.

Charles H Oakes
Michael E Ames
Isaac Van Etten

Warranty Deed

“State of Wisconsin”
“County of La Pointe”
“Office of Register of Deeds”

Received for Record on the 10th day of December 1853 at 7 O Clock P.M. and Recorded on Pages 22, 23, and 24 in Book A of Records of Deeds.

Robt. D. Boyd
Register of Deeds

 

– – – – – – – – – –

 

THIS INDENTURE,

made this first (1st) day of December is the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty three.

BETWEEN

Julius Austrian (by James Hughes his attorney in fact)

of the county of La Pointe and State of Wisconsin of the first part, and

Charles H Oakes Michael E Ames and Isaac Van Etten

of the second part,

WITNESSETH, that the said party of the first part, for and is in consideration of the sum of

One Thousand ($1000)

Dollars, in hand paid by the said parties of the second part – the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged – has given, granted, bargained, sold, conveyed, and confirmed, and by these presents, does give, grant, bargain, sell, convey and confirm unto the said parties of the second part, their heirs and assigns, forever, all the following described pieces or parcels of land, situate, lying and being in the County of La Pointe ^and State of Wisconsin^ and known and designated as follows, vis:

The lots of this deed are outlined in red, describing La Pointe (New Port and Middleport) for a total of 306.28 acres.  This is roughly 80 acres short of “Containing 382 23/100 Acres of land”.
~ General Land Office

Lots numbered three (3) four (4) and five (5) in Section No thirty (30) in Township No. fifty (50) North of Range NO. three (3) west, and Lots Numbered One (1) two (2) three (3) and four (4) in Section Number thirty one (31) in said Township No fifty (50), Range No three (3) aforesaid, according to the Survey of the United States government and Platts thereof, [ben?] and hereby intending, to convey the same, and all of the pieces, [pared?] or lots of land heretofore entered, bids of or purchases by the said party of the first part from the United States Government, on or about the second day of May AD 1853, or at any other time.  Containing 382 23/100 Acres of land.

TO HAVE AND TO HOLD THE SAME,

This deed is not recognized at the General Land Office or the Ashland County Register of Deeds.  Nor do they have any original land patent for these lands at all for that matter.

together with all and singular the appurtenances and privileges thereunto belonging, or in any wise appertaining, and all the Estate, Right, Title, Interest and Claim whatsoever, of the said partof the first part, either in Law or Equity, in and to the above described premises, to the only proper use, benefit, and behoof of the said parties of the second part, their heirs, and assigns forever.  And the said party of the first part, for himself his heirs, executors, and administrators, does COVENANT AND AGREE to and with the said parties of the second part, their heirs and assigns, that he is well seized in fee of the aforesaid premises, and has good right to SELL and CONVEY the same in manner and form as above written, and that the same are free of all incumbrances whatever ; and that the aforesaid premises in the quiet and peaceable possession of the said parties of the second part, their heirs and assigns, against every person lawfully claiming or to claim the whole or any part thereof, he will forever WARRANT AND DEFEND.

 

IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, the said party of the first part, has hereunto set his hand and seal the day and year first above written.

Julius Austrian

By James Hughes

his Attorney in fact

Sealed and Delivered in Presence of

The words “and State of Wisconsin” first [intertriced?] before signing.

I V D Heard

Truman M Smith

 

Truman Mott Smith was also a banker.
~ Minnesota Historical Society via Minnesota Public Radio

Territory of Minnesota,
COUNTY OF Ramsey

BE IT KNOWN, that on the first (1st) day of December A. D., before the undersigned, personally came James Hughes (the attorney in fact of the said Julius Austrian) the grantor to the foregoing and within DEED, from him as such grantor to Charles H Oakes Michael E Ames and Isaac Van Etten grantors, and to me personally known to be the identical person described in, and who by James Hughes his said attorney in fact executed the said deed, and the said James Hughes his attorney in fact acknowledged that he executed the said deed, freely and voluntarily, for the uses and purposes therein expressed, for in behalf and on the part of the said Julius Austrian [grantors?], aforesaid, 

Truman M Smith

Justice of the Peace

 

– – – – – – – – – –

 

Territory of Minnesota
County of Ramsey

I do hereby certify that Truman M Smith, Esq before whom this within acknowledged [guest?] was taken was at the time the same bears date, a Justice of the Peace in and for said County, duly Elected & qualified to act as such, & to take Acknowledgement of Deeds,
that I am well acquainted with his hand writing & believe the within signature purporting to be his, to be his genuine signature. And that the within Deed is Executed & Acknowledged according to the laws of said Territory.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand & affirm the seal of the District Court of said County, at St. Paul, this 3rd day of December A. D. 1853. [A. J. Mutney?] Clerk.

by Sherwood Hough

Dept. Clerk of said Court

 


 

Julius Austrian

To

Charles H. Oakes
M E Ames
Isaac Van Etten

Warranty Deed

“State of Wisconsin”
“Lapointe County”
“Office of Register of Deeds”

Received for Record on this 10th day of December, 1853 at 7 O Clock P.M. and Recorded on pages 24, 25, and 26 in Book A of Records of Deeds.

Robert Dundas Boyd was a La Pointe County Judge, married to Julia Cadotte of the La Pointe Band, and a nephew of President John Quincy Adams.  Boyd was shot to death in an Ashland bar fight.

Robt. D. Boyd
Register of Deeds

 

– – – – – – – – – –

 

THIS INDENTURE,

made this first (1st) day of December is the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty three.

BETWEEN

Julius Austrian (by James Hughes his attorney in fact)

of the county of Lapointe and State of Wisconsin of the first part, and

Charles H Oakes Michael E Ames and I Van Etten

of the second part,

WITNESSETH, that the said party of the first part, for and is in consideration of the sum of

One hundred and fifty ($150~)

Dollars, in hand paid by the said parties of the second part – the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged – has given, granted, bargained, sold, conveyed, and confirmed, and by these presents, does give, grant, bargain, sell, convey and confirm unto the said parties of the second part, their heirs and assigns, forever, all the following described pieces or parcels of land, situate, lying and being in the County of La Pointe ^and State of Wisconsin^ and known and designated as follows, vis:

Roughly 80 acres are highlighted in blue, labeled as Austrian’s Sawmill on the 1852 PLSS survey map. This is located along what is now Pike’s Creek south of the Bayfield Road on the mainland.
~ General Land Office

The South West quarter of the North West quarter of Section No twenty one (21) and the North west quarter of the south west quarter of said section No. twenty one (21) in Township No fifty (50) North, of Range No. four (4) containing Eighty Acres more or less.

Borup and Oakes built La Pointe (New Fort) and the Sawmill for the American Fur Company.
“In 1845, the American Fur Company built a small sawmill near the mouth of what came to be known as Pike’s Creek (S21 T50N R4W). A dam provided waterpower for the mill’s operation. It was operated by the company for only a brief period of time before being sold to Julius Austrian, who in turn sold it to Elisha Pike in 1855.”
~ The Sawmill Community At Roy’s Point by Mary E. Carlson, 2009, page 14.
According to the General Land Office, these 80 acres were entered by Joseph Austrian (via Power of Attorney to his brother Julius Austrian); the north 40 acres on July 5th, 1854, and the south 40 acres on June 6th, 1855.  Both dates occurred after James Hugh’s sale.
Joseph Austrian had an interesting adventure at Austrian’s Sawmill, during the winter of 1851/1852.

TO HAVE AND TO HOLD THE SAME,

together with all and singular the appurtenances and privileges thereunto belonging, or in any wise appertaining, and all the Estate, Right, Title, Interest and Claim whatsoever, of the said partof the first part, either in Law or Equity, in and to the above described premises, to the only proper use, benefit, and behoof of the said parties of the second part, their heirs, and assigns forever.  And the said party of the first part, for himself his heirs, executors, and administrators, does COVENANT AND AGREE to and with the said parties of the second part, their heirs and assigns, that he is well seized in fee of the aforesaid premises, and has good right to SELL and CONVEY the same in manner and form as above written, and that the same are free of all incumbrances whatever ; and that the aforesaid premises in the quiet and peaceable possession of the said parties of the second part, their heirs and assigns, against every person lawfully claiming or to claim the whole or any part thereof, he will forever WARRANT AND DEFEND.

IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, the said party of the first part, has hereunto set his hand and seal the day and year first above written.

Julius Austrian

By James Hughes

his Attorney in fact

Sealed and Delivered in Presence of

The words “and State of Wisconsin” first [introduced?] before signing.

I V D Heard

Truman M Smith

 

Territory of Minnesota,
COUNTY OF Ramsey

BE IT KNOWN, that on the first (1st) day of December A. D., before the undersigned, personally came James Hughes the attorney in fact of the said Julius Austrian the grantor to the foregoing and within DEED, from him as such grantor to Charles H Oakes Michael E Ames and I Van Etten grantors, and to me personally known to be the identical person described in, and who by James Huges his said attorney in fact executed the said deed, and by James Hughes his attorney in fact and who acknowledged that he executed the said deed, freely and voluntarily, for the uses and purposes therein expressed, for in behalf and on the part of the said Julius Austrian [grantors?], aforesaid, 

Truman M Smith

Justice of the Peace

 

– – – – – – – – – –

 

Territory of Minnesota
County of Ramsey

I do hereby certify that Truman M. Smith Esq. before whom the within Acknowledgment was taken, was at the date thereof, a Justice of the Peace in and for said County, duly Elected & qualified to act as such, & to take the Acknowledgement of Deeds, that I am well acquainted with his hand writing and believe the signature to the within certificate purporting to be his, to be his genuine signature. And that the within Deed is Executed & Acknowledged according to the laws of this Territory.

In Testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand & affix the Seal of the District Court of said County at St. Paul this 2nd day of December A.D. 1853. Clerk.

by Sherwood Hough

Dept. [Crt?] Clerk
of the Dist Court
of said County

 


 

Hudson, Wisconsin
Dec. 4th 1853

Julius Austrian Esq.

Doctor Charles William Wulff Borup was Charles Henry Oakes’s brother-in-law; and business partner at the American Fur Company in La Pointe, and as bankers and Free Masons in St. Paul.

Dear Sir,

WILLIAM H. SEMMES was born in Alexandria, Virginia. He came to Hudson in 1851, and practiced law, as a partner of Judge McMillan, in Stillwater. He was a young man of great promise, but died early and much lamented, Sept. 13, 1854.”
~  
Fifty Years in the Northwest, by W. H. C. Folsom, 1888, page 169.

I have first learnt, by report, that Col. Hughes by virtue of a power of att’y given him by you, has sold to Borup and Oaks the whole La Pointe property, for the sum of four thousand dollars. You had better at once draw, execute and have placed on record a written revocation of the Power of Attorney. The revocation should be acknowledged before a justice of the peace as same as a deed.

If this report be true you had better come down at once.

Yours truly

W. H. Semmes

 


 

Notice to the Public

Julius Austrian
~ Madeline Island Museum

Whereas James Hughes of Hudson in the County of St Croix and State of Wisconsin, on the first day of December AD 1853, did execute to Charles H Oakes, Michael E Ames and Isaac Van Etten, under a pretended power of attorney from Julius Austrian and without any authority from him, or either of the under signed, two several deeds, one of which deeds had described therein, the following described lands, lying in the County of La Pointe and State of Wisconsin, to wit:

the south west quarter of the north west quarter of Section No twenty one (21), and the north west quarter of the south west quarter of Section No Twenty one (21) in Township No fifty (50) North of Range No four (4) containing eighty acres more or less,

and the other of said deeds had described therein the following described lands to wit:

Lots numbered Three (3) four (4) and five (5) in Section No Thirty (30) in Township No fifty (50) north of Range No Three (3) west and Lots numbered one (1) two (2) three (3) and four (4) in Section No Thirty one (31) in said Township No fifty (50) Range No Three (3) aforesaid.

Henry Smitz lived with the Austrian Family and was a trusted employee.

And whereas the said lands were entered and purchased by Julius Austrian from the Government of the United States on the 2nd day of May 1853. And whereas the said Julius Austrian, did, on the 23rd day of May AD 1853, execute and deliver to one Henry Smitz of La Pointe County, a deed of conveyance in fee simple of the undivided one sixth part of the following described lands, to wit:

Lots Nos three (3) four (4) and five (5) in Section No thirty (30), and Lots Nos one (1) two (2), three (3) and four (4) of Section No Thirty one (31) in Township No fifty (50) North of Range No three (3) in the said County of La Pointe.

And whereas neither the said Julius Austrian, nor the said Henry Smitz, has conveyed any part or portion of the rel estate above described & any person. And whereas further the said James Hughes had no legal or equitable power or authority from the said Julius Austrian and Henry Smitz or either of them, to sell or convey the said above described lands, on the said first day of December AD 1853 or at any time previous or subsequent of that day.

Now therefore notice in hereby given to all persons, that the said Julius Austrian and Henry Smitz, nor either of them do not, and never have recognized the authority of the said James Hughes to make the deeds aforesaid of the said laws, and do not recognize the acts of the said James Hughes in the premises. And that the said Julius Austrian and Henry Smitz, do now claim and have ever since the said 23rd day of May 1853, claimed the legal title to and ownership of, and the sole right to sell and convey the following described lands; to wit;

Lots Nos three (3), four (4) and five (5) in Section No Thirty (30) and lots Nos one (1) two (2), three (3) and four (4) of Section No Thirty one (31) in Township No fifty (50) North of Range No three (3) West.

And that the said Julius Austrian does now claim and has ever since the 2nd day of May 1853, claimed the legal title to and the ownership of and the sole right to sell and convey the following described lands, to wit;

the South West quarter of the North West quarter of Section No Twenty one (21) and the North West quarter of the South West quarter of Section No Twenty one (21) in Township No fifty (50) North of Range No four (4) West, containing eighty acres more or less.

And all persons are therefore hereby warned, notified and forbidden from purchasing of, or receiving any manner of conveyance or conveyances from the said Charles H Oakes, Michael E Ames and Isaac Van Etten, or either of them, of any part or portion of the above described lands.

Hudson, St Croix County, Wisconsin
December 23 1853

Julius Austrian
Henry Smitz

 


 

To Messrs Charles H. Oakes, Michael E. Ames and Isaac Van Etten and to each and everyone of you

You are hereby notified that the conveyances made to you by James Hughes on the first day of December A.D. 1853 under a pretended power of attorney from Julius Austrian, of the following described lands to wit:

the South West quarter of the North West quarter of Section No. twenty one (21), and the North West quarter of the South West quarter of Section No. twenty one (21) in Township No. fifty (50) North of Range No. four (4) containing eighty acres more or less; and also Lots numbered three (3) four (4) and five (5) in Section No thirty (30) in Township No. fifty (50) North of Range No. three (3) West, and Lots numbered one (1) two (2) three (3) and four (4) in Section No. thirty one (31) in said Township No. fifty (50) Range No. three (3) aforesaid in the County of La Pointe and state of Wisconsin,

were made in fraud of the rights of the said undersigned, the said Julius Austrian and Henry Smitz to the said lands and without any authority from the said Julius Austrian and Henry Smitz or either of them, either by power of attorney or otherwise, to the said James Hughes.

And you are therefore hereby notified that we the said Julius Austrian and Henry Smitz claim the legal title to and the ownership of the following described lands to wit:

lots numbered three (3) four (4) and five (5) in Section No. thirty (30) in Township No. fifty (50) North of Range No. three (3) west and Lots numbered one (1) two (2) three (3) and four in section No. thirty one (31) in said Township No. fifty (50) Range No. three (3) aforesaid being in the County of La Pointe and state of Wisconsin.

And you are further notified hereby that the said Julius Austrian claims the legal title to and ownership of the following described lands to wit:

the South West quarter of the North West quarter of Section No. twenty one (21) and the North West quarter of the South West quarter of Section No. twenty one (21) in Township No. fifty (50) North of Range No. for (4) containing eighty acres more or less.

And that we the said Julius Austrian and Henry Smitz do not and neither of us does, recognize the acts of the said James Hughes concerning the said above described lands and hereby forbid you and each of you from executing any conveyance or in any manner encumbering the title to the lands above described or any part thereof.

Dated at Hudson December 23d 1853

Julius Austrian
Henry Smitz

 


 

Mr. [McCloud?]

You will please deliver to Julius Austrian the enclosed papers upon my sending you a quit claim deed signed by Chas. H. Oakes & wife, Michael E. Ames & wife & I. Van Etten & wife for the lands embraced in two certain Deeds executed by said Austrian by James Hughes his atty-in- fact to said Oakes, Ames & Van Etten which deeds will accompany said Quit Claim Deeds.  The [?????ed ??? you?].

I Van Etten

[????] discharge of [??????]

I Van Etten

 

 

– – – – – – – – – –

 

Quit Claim Deed

Chas. H. Oakes
and others

to

Julius Austrian

Office of Register of Deeds
La Pointe County Wis

I hereby Certify that the within Deed was filed in this Office for Record October 10th 1859 a [M?] and was duly Recorded in Book A of Deed Vol 3 on pages 333 & 334.

John W Bell

Register of Deeds

Fee 10$

 

– – – – – – – – – –

 

Know all men by these present.

That we Charles H Oakes and Julia B., his wife, Issac Van Etten & Jan I., his wife & Michael E. Ames & Josephine, his wife, of the County of Ramsey in the State of Minnesota. & the first part in consideration of the sum of three Hundred Dollars were?] in [hand?] [paid?] by Julius Austrian of La Pointe County in the State of Wisconsin, the receipt whereof is hereby a acknowledged, have bargained, sold, and quit claimed, deed of these presents do bargain, sell and quit claim unto the said Julius Austrian, his heirs and assigns forever, all [our?] rights, title, intersets, claim and severance in and [wled?] following described pieces or parcels of land situate and being in the County of La Pointe and State of Wisconsin [as is?] described as follows, to wit:

Lots Number three four & five (3, 4 & 5) in Section Number thirty (30) in Township No fifty (50) North of Range No Three (3) West, and lots one (1) two (2) three (3) and four (4) in Section number thirty-one (31) in said Township No fifty (50) Range No Three (3), and the South West quarter of the North West quarter of Section Number twenty one (21), and the North West quarter of the South West quarter of said Section number twenty one (21) in Township Number fifty (50) North of Range No four (4), being the same lands conveyed by said Julius Austrian by James Hughes his Attorney in fact to said Oakse & Van Etten & Michael E. Ames, by Deeds dated Dec [1?] 1853.

To Have and to Hold the above Quit claimed Premises with all the privileges and appurtenances thereto belonging to the said Julius Austrian, his heirs and assigns forever, so [cleat?] neither [we do?] said parties of [wofeist?] part, [??] in heirs or assigns shall have any claims, rights, or title in [?] to the aforesaid premises.

In Witness [????] We have hereunto set our [hand?] and seal, the thirtieth day of September, AD; 1859.

Isaac Van Etten
Jane I. Van Etten
M. E. Ames
Josephine Ames
Chas. H. Oakes
Julia B. Oakes

Signed, Sealed & Delivered
in presence of

[Harvey Affrcer?]
Thomas Van Etten

 

– – – – – – – – – –

 

State of Minnesota
County of Ramsey

Be it Remembered that in this 18th day of September AD. 1859, at St Paul in said County & State formerly same before nee, [Iwrue denjued?]. Charles H Oakes and Julia B. his wife, Isaac Van Etten and Jane I. his wife and Michael E Ames and Josephine his wife [fernaly? Rumb? me? who? elusegues?] & [seates?] of [deepering?] deed and acknowledge that they embrace the same for [lew? o? wiwre?] therein expressed, and the said Julia B. Jane I. and Josephine afersaid being by nee examined separate and apart from their said husbands acknowledge that they executed said deed freely.

 


 

United States of America

State of Minnesota,
Secretary’s Office.

Francis Baasen
“He was born in Luxembourg, Germany and came to America when he was 19 years of age. […] He was Minnesota’s first Secretary of State, assuming office on May 4, 1858.”
~ Findagrave.com

The Secretary of State of the State of Minnesota, does hereby certify, that Thomas Van Ettan whose name appears subscribed to the annexed instrument, was, at the date thereof, a NOTARY PUBLIC, in and for the State of Minnesota, residing in the County of Ramsey duly appointed and qualified, and empowered by the laws of this State, to administer Oaths, take Depositions, Acknowledgements of Deeds, and other written instruments, and exercise all such powers and duties, as by the law of Nations and according to commercial usages, may be exercised and performed by Notaries Public, and that full faith and credit are due and should be given to his official acts as such Notary.

In Testimony Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and affixed the Great Seal of the State, at the Capitol, in Saint Paul, this Fifteenth day of September A. D. 1859

Francis Baasen

Secretary of State,

 


 

Rec’d August 11, 1866,

of Julius Austrian $766.50 (by draft for 450$ & 210 94/100 acres of land valued at $1.50 per acre) in full satisfaction of a certain deed presents rendered & [d???etece] in the District Court of the United States for the District of Wisconsin in July 3, 1861 for $1127.94 damages & $74.70 cents in my favor & against said Austrian.

C. H. Oakes

by I. Van Etten
his Atty.

 


 

Bayfield Aug 11, 1866

Mr Julius Austrian

Dr Sir

Finding this Judgement dated July 3, 1861, may reveal more details about the James Hughes Affair of 1853 and other scandals at La Pointe.

In consideration of my settlements this day made I agree to obtain & file a [satisfactuis?] of the Judgement I obtained against you July 3, 1861, in the District Court of the United States for the District of Wisconsin, as soon as I leave [reach?] Madison.

[Y?? ? ?]

I. Van Etten

for C. H. Oakes

By Amorin Mello

The Ashland press 1877

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

… continued from Number III.

Early Recollections of Ashland: Number IV

by Asaph Whittlesey

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

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

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

ARRIVAL OF THE SECOND FEMALE UPON THE TOWN SITE.

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

I next call your attention to the

FIRST CELEBRATION OF THE 4TH OF JULY

upon the “town site” July 4th, 1855.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To be continued in Number V

By Amorin Mello

Report and Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. For the years 1877, 1878 and 1879. Volume VIII., pages 224-226.

Historical Sites on Chequamegon Bay was originally published in Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin: Volume XIII, by Reuben Gold Thwaites, 1895, pages 426-440.

HISTORIC SITES ON CHEQUAMEGON BAY.1

BY CHRYSOSTOM VERWYST, O.S.F.

Reverend Chrysostome Verwyst, circa 1918. ~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Reverend Chrysostome Verwyst, circa 1918.
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

One of the earliest spots in the Northwest trodden by the feet of white men was the shore of Chequamegon Bay.  Chequamegon is a corrupt form of Jagawamikong;2 or, as it was written by Father Allouez in the Jesuit Relation for 1667, Chagaouamigong.  The Chippewas on Lake Superior have always applied this name exclusively to Chequamegon Point, the long point of land at the entrance of Ashland Bay.  It is now commonly called by whites, Long Island; of late years, the prevailing northeast winds have caused Lake Superior to make a break through this long, narrow peninsula, at its junction with the mainland, or south shore, so that it is in reality an island.  On the northwestern extremity of this attenuated strip of land, stands the government light-house, marking the entrance of the bay.

William Whipple Warren (c. 1851) ~ Wikimedia.org

William Whipple Warren, circa 1851.
~ Commons.Wikimedia.org

Castoroides (giant beaver) were abundant around the Great Lakes util their extinction around 10,000 years ago.

W. W. Warren, in his History of the Ojibway Nation3, relates an Indian legend to explain the origin of this name.  Menabosho, the great Algonkin demi-god, who made this earth anew after the deluge, was once hunting for the great beaver in Lake Superior, which was then but a large beaver-pond.  In order to escape his powerful enemy, the great beaver took refuge in Ashland Bay.  To capture him, Menabosho built a large dam extending from the south shore of Lake Superior across to Madelaine (or La Pointe) Island.  In doing so, he took up the mud from the bottom of the bay and occasionally would throw a fist-full into the lake, each handful forming an island, – hence the origin of the Apostle Islands.  Thus did the ancient Indians, the “Gété-anishinabeg,” explain the origin of Chequamegon Point and the islands in the vicinity.  His dam completed, Menabosho started in pursuit of the patriarch of all the beavers ; he thinks he has him cornered.  But, alas, poor Menabosho is doomed to disappointment.  The beaver breaks through the soft dam and escapes into Lake Superior.  Thence the word chagaouamig, or shagawamik (“soft beaver-dam”), – in the locative case, shagawamikong (“at the soft beaver-dam”).

Reverend Edward Jacker ~ FindAGrave.com

Reverend Edward Jacker
~ FindAGrave.com

Rev. Edward Jacker, a well-known Indian scholar, now deceased, suggests the following explanation of Chequamegon:  The point in question was probably first named Jagawamika (pr. shagawamika), meaning “there are long, far-extending breakers;” the participle of this verb is jaiagawamikag (“where there are long breakers”).  But later, the legend of the beaver hunt being applied to the spot, the people imagined the word amik (a beaver) to be a constituent part of the compound, and changed the ending in accordance with the rules of their language, – dropping the final a in jagawamika, making it jagawamik, – and used the locative case, ong (jagawamikong), instead of the participial form, ag (jaiagawamikag).4

The Jesuit Relations apply the Indian name to both the bay and the projection of land between Ashland Bay and Lake Superior.  our Indians, however, apply it exclusively to this point at the entrance of Ashland Bay.  It was formerly nearly connected with Madelaine (La Pointe) Island, so that old Indians claim a man might in early days shoot with a bow across the intervening channel.  At present, the opening is about two miles wide.  The shores of Chequamegon Bay have from time immemorial been the dwelling-place of numerous Indian tribes.  The fishery was excellent in the bay and along the adjacent islands.  The bay was convenient to some of the best hunting grounds of Northern Wisconsin and Minnesota.  The present writer was informed, a few years ago, that in Douglas county alone 2,500 deer had been killed during one short hunting season.5  How abundant must have been the chase in olden times, before the white had introduced to this wilderness his far-reaching fire-arms!  Along the shores of our bay were established at an early day fur-trading posts, where adventurous Frenchmen carried on a lucrative trade with their red brethren of the forest, being protected by French garrisons quartered in the French fort on Madelaine Island.

Reverend Henry Blatchford, born as Francois Decarreaux, Jr., was a grandson of Chief Waabojiig from the La Pointe Band.

From Rev. Henry Blatchford, an octogenarian, and John B. Denomie (Denominé), an intelligent half-breed Indian of Odanah, near Ashland, the writer has obtained considerable information as to the location of ancient and modern aboriginal villages on the shores of Chequamegon Bay.  Following are the Chippewa names of the rivers and creeks emptying into the bay, where there used formerly to be Indian villages:

Charles Whittlesey documented the pictographs of Bad River.

Charles Whittlesey documented several pictographs along the Bad River.

Mashki-Sibi (Swamp River, misnamed Bad River): Up this river are pictured rocks, now mostly covered with earth, on which in former times Indians engraved in the soft stone the images of their dreams, or the likenesses of their tutelary manitous.  Along this river are many maple-groves, where from time immemorial they have made maple-sugar.

Makodassonagani-Sibi (Bear-trap River), which emptties into the Kakagon.  The latter seems in olden times to have been the regular channel of Bad River, when the Bad emptied into Ashland Bay, instead of Lake Superior, as it now does.  Near the mouth of the Kakagon are large wild-rice fields, where the Chippewas annually gather, as no doubt did their ancestors, great quantities of wild rice (Manomin).  By the way, wild rice is very palatable, and the writer and his dusky spiritual children prefer it to the rice of commerce, although it does not look quite so nice.

Bishigokwe-Sibiwishen is a small creek, about six miles or so east of Ashland.  Bishigokwe means a woman who has been abandoned by her husband.  In olden times, a French trader resided at the mouth of this creek.  He suddenly disappeared, – whether murdered or not, is not known.  His wife continued to reside for many years at their old home, hence the name.

Nedobikag-Sibiwishen is the Indian name for Bay City Creek, within the limits of Ashland.  Here Tagwagané, a celebrated Indian chief of the Crane totem, used occasionally to reside.  Warren6 gives us a speech of his, at the treaty of La Pointe in 1842.  This Tagwagané had a copper plate, an heirloom handed down in his family from generation to generation, on which were rude indentations and hieroglyphics denoting the number of generations of that family which had passed away since they first pitched their lodges at Shagawamikong and took possession of the adjacent country, including Madelaine Island.  From this original mode of reckoning time, Warren concludes that the ancestors of said family first came to La Pointe circa A. D. 1490.

Detail of Isle de la Ronde from Carte des lacs du Canada by Jacques-Nicolas Bellin, 1744. ~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Detail of “Ici était une bourgade considerable” from Carte des lacs du Canada by Jacques-Nicolas Bellin, 1744.
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Metabikitigweiag-Sibiwishen is the creek between Ashland and Ashland Junction, which runs into Fish Creek a short distance west of Ashland.  At the junction of these two creeks and along their banks, especially on the east bank of Fish Creek, was once a large and populous Indian village of Ottawas, who there raised Indian corn.  It is pointed out on N. Bellin’s map (1744)7, with the remark, Ici était une bourgade considerable (“here was once a considerable village”).  We shall hereafter have occasion to speak of this place.  The soil along Fish Creek is rich, formed by the annual overflowage of its water, leaving behind a deposit of rich, sand loam.  There a young growth of timber along the right bank between the bay and Ashland Junction, and the grass growing underneath the trees shows that it was once a cultivated clearing.  It was from this place that the trail left the bay, leading to the Chippewa River country.  Fish Creek is called by the Indians Wikwedo-Sibiwishen, which means “Bay Creek,” from wikwed, Chippewa for bay; hence the name Wikwedong, the name they gave to Ashland, meaning “at the bay.”

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

Whittlesey Creek (National Wildlife Refuge) was named after Asaph Whittlesey, brother of Charles Whittlesey.  Photo of Asaph, circa 1860.
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

According to Blatchford, there was formerly another considerable village at the mouth of Whittlesey’s Creek, called by the Indians Agami-Wikwedo-Sibiwishen, which signifies “a creek on the other side of the bay,” from agaming (on the other side of a river, or lake), wikwed (a bay), and sibiwishen (a creek).  I think that Fathers Allouez and Marquette had their ordinary abode at or near this place, although Allouez seems also to have resided for some time at the Ottawa village up Fish Creek.

A short distance from Whittlesey’s Creek, at the western bend of the bay, where is now Shore’s Landing, there used to be a large Indian village and trading-post, kept by a Frenchman.  Being at the head of the bay, it was the starting point of the Indian trail to the St. Croix country.  Some years ago the writer dug up there, an Indian mound.  The young growth of timber at the bend of the bay, and the absence of stumps, indicate that it had once been cleared.  At the foot of the bluff or bank, is a beautiful spring of fresh water.  As the St. Croix country was one of the principal hunting grounds of the Chippewas and Sioux, it is natural there should always be many living at the terminus of the trail, where it struck the bay.

From this place northward, there were Indian hamlets strung along the western shore of the bay.  Father Allouez mentions visiting various hamlets two, three, or more (French) leagues away from his chapel.  Marquette mentions five clearings, where Indian villages were located.  At Wyman’s place, the writer some years ago dug up two Indian mounds, one of which was located on the very bank of the bay and was covered with a large number of boulders, taken from the bed of the bay.  In this mound were found a piece of milled copper, some old-fashioned hand-made iron nails, the stem of a clay pipe, etc.  The objects were no doubt relics of white men, although Indians had built the mound itself, which seemed like a fire-place shoveled under, and covered with large boulders to prevent it from being desecrated.

Robert Dundas Boyd, nephew of President John Quincy Adams, married into the Cadotte family of the La Pointe Band.

Boyd’s Creek is called in Chippewa, Namebinikanensi-Sibiwishen, meaning “Little Sucker Creek.”  A man named Boyd once resided there, married to an Indian woman.  He was shot in a quarrel with another man.  One of his sons resides at Spider Lake, and another at Flambeau Farm, while two of his grand-daughters live at Lac du Flambeau.

John Bono was the owner of the Bayfield Exchange hotel.

Further north is Kitchi-Namebinikani-Sibiwishen, meaning “Large Sucker Creek,” but whites now call it Bonos Creek.  These two creeks are not far apart, and once there was a village of Indians there.  It was noted as a place for fishing at a certain season of the year, probably in spring, when suckers and other fish would go up these creeks to spawn.

Peter B. Vanderventer married into the Lamoreaux family of the La Pointe Band.

At Vanderventer’s Creek, near Washburn, was the celebrated Gigito-Mikana, or “council-trail,” so called because here the Chippewas once held a celebrated council; hence the Indian name Gigito-Mikana-Sibiwishen, meaning “Council-trail Creek.”  At the mouth of this creek, there was once a large Indian village.

There used also to be a considerable village between Pike’s Bay and Bayfield.  It was probably there that the celebrated war chief, Waboujig, resided.

There was once an Indian village where Bayfield now stands, also at Wikweiag (Buffalo Bay), at Passabikang, Red  Cliff, and on Madelaine Island.  The writer was informed by John B. Denomie, who was born on the island in 1834, that towards Chabomnicon Bay (meaning “Gooseberry Bay”) could long ago be seen small mounds or corn-hills, now overgrown with large trees, indications of early Indian agriculture.  There must have been a village there in olden times.  Another ancient village was located on the southwestern extremity of Madelaine Island, facing Chequamegon Point, where some of their graves may still be seen.  It is also highly probable that there were Indian hamlets scattered along the shore between Bayfield and Red Cliff, the most northern mainland of Wisconsin.  There is now a large, flourishing Indian settlement there, forming the Red Cliff Chippewa reservation.  There is a combination church and school there at present, under the charge of the Franciscan Order.  Many Indians also used to live on Chequamegon Point, during a great part of the year, as the fishing was good there, and blueberries were abundant in their season.  No doubt from time immemorial Indians were wont to gather wild rice at the mouth of the Kakagon, and to make maple sugar up Bad River.

We thus see that the Jesuit Relations are correct when they speak of many large and small Indian villages (Fr. bourgades) along the shores of Chequamegon Bay.  Father Allouez mentions two large Indian villages at the head of the bay – the one an Ottawa village, on Fish Creek; the other a Huron, probably between Shore’s Landing and Washburn.  Besides, he mentions smaller hamlets visited by him on his sick-calls.  Marquette says that the Indians lived there in five clearings, or villages.  From all this we see that the bay was from most ancient times the seat of a large aboriginal population.  Its geographical position towards the western end of the great lake, its rich fisheries and hunting grounds, all tended to make it the home of thousands of Indians.  Hence it is much spoken of by Perrot, in his Mémoire, and by most writers on the Northwest of the last century.  Chequamegon Bay, Ontonagon, Keweenaw Bay, and Sault Ste. Marie (Baweting) were the principal resorts of the Chippewa Indians and their allies, on the south shore of Lake Superior.

"Front view of the Radisson cabin, the first house built by a white man in Wisconsin. It was built between 1650 and 1660 on Chequamegon Bay, in the vicinity of Ashland. This drawing is not necessarily historically accurate." ~ Wisconsin Historical Society

“Front view of the Radisson cabin, the first house built by a white man in Wisconsin. It was built between 1650 and 1660 on Chequamegon Bay, in the vicinity of Ashland. This drawing is not necessarily historically accurate.”
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

The first white men on the shores of Chequamegon Bay were in all probability Groseilliers and Radisson.  They built a fort on Houghton Point, and another at the head of the bay, somewhere between Whittlesey’s Creek and Shore’s Landing, as in some later paper I hope to show from Radisson’s narrative.8  As to the place where he shot the bustards, a creek which led him to a meadow9, I think this was Fish Creek, at the mouth of which is a large meadow, or swamp.10

After spending six weeks in the Sioux country, our explorers retraced their steps to Chequamegon Bay, arriving there towards the end of winter.  They built a fort on Houghton Point.  The Ottawas had built another fort somewhere on Chequamegon Point.  In travelling towards this Ottawa fort, on the half-rotten ice, Radisson gave out and was very sick for eight days; but by rubbing his legs with hot bear’s oil, and keeping them well bandaged, he finally recovered.  After his convalescence, our explorers traveled northward, finally reaching James Bay.

The next white men to visit our bay were two Frenchmen, of whom W. W. Warren says:11

“One clear morning in the early part of winter, soon after the islands which are clustered in this portion of Lake Superior, and known as the Apostles, had been locked in ice, a party of young men of the Ojibways started out from their village in the Bay of Shag-a-waum-ik-ong [Chequamegon], to go, as was customary, and spear fish through holes in the ice, between the island of La Pointe and the main shore, this being considered as the best ground for this mode of fishing.  While engaged in this sport, they discovered a smoke arising from a point of the adjacent island, toward its eastern extremity.

“The island of La Pointe was then totally unfrequented, from superstitious fears which had but a short time previous led to its total evacuation by the tribe, and it was considered an act of the greatest hardihood for any one to set foot on its shores.  The young men returned home at evening and reported the smoke which they had seen arising from the island, and various were the conjectures of the old people respecting the persons who would dare to build a fire on the spirit-haunted isle.  They must be strangers, and the young men were directed, should they again see the smoke, to go and find out who made it.

“Early the next morning, again proceeding to their fishing-ground, the young men once more noticed the smoke arising from the eastern end of the unfrequented island, and, again led on by curiosity, they ran thither and found a small log cabin, in which they discovered two white men in the last stages of starvation.  The young Ojibways, filled with compassion, carefully conveyed them to their village, where being nourished with great kindness, their lives were preserved.

“These two white men had started from Quebec during the summer with a supply of goods, to go and find the Ojibways who every year had brought rich packs of beaver to the sea-coast, notwithstanding that their road was barred by numerous parties of the watchful and jealous Iroquois.  Coasting slowly up the southern shores of the Great Lake late in the fall, they had been driven by the ice on to the unfrequented island, and not discovering the vicinity of the Indian village, they had been for some time enduring the pangs of hunger.  At the time they were found by the young Indians, they had been reduced to the extremity of roasting and eating their woolen cloth and blankets as the last means of sustaining life.

“Having come provided with goods they remained in the village during the winter, exchanging their commodities for beaver skins.  They ensuing spring a large number of the Ojibways accompanied them on their return home.

“From close inquiry, and judging from events which are said to have occurred about this period of time, I am disposed to believe that this first visit by the whites took place about two hundred years ago [Warren wrote in 1852].  It is, at any rate, certain that it happened a few years prior to the visit of the ‘Black-gowns’ [Jesuits] mentioned in Bancroft’s History, and it is one hundred and eighty-four years since this well-authenticated occurrence.”

So far Warren; he is, however, mistaken as to the date of the first black-gown’s visit, which was not 1668 but 1665.

Claude Allouez ~ National Park Service

Portrayal of Claude Allouez
~ National Park Service

The next visitors to Chequamegon Bay were Père Claude Allouez and his six companions in 1665.  We come now to a most interesting chapter in the history of our bay, the first formal preaching of the Christian religion on its shores.  For a full account of Father Allouez’s labors here, the reader is referred to the writer’s Missionary Labors of Fathers Marquette, Allouez, and Ménard in the Lake Superior Region.  Here will be given merely a succinct account of their work on the shores of the bay.  To the writer it has always been a soul-inspiring thought that he is allowed to tread in the footsteps of those saintly men, who walked, over two hundred years ago, the same ground on which he now travels; and to labor among the same race for which they, in starvation and hardship, suffered so much.

In the Jesuit Relation for 1667, Father Allouez thus begins the account of his five years’ labors on the shores of our bay:

“On the eight of August of the year 1665, I embarked at Three Rivers with six Frenchmen, in company with more than four hundred Indians of different tribes, who were returning to their country, having concluded the little traffic for which they had come.”

Marquis Alexandre de Prouville de Tracy ~ Wikipedia.org

Marquis Alexandre de Prouville de Tracy
~ Wikipedia.org

His voyage into the Northwest was one of the great hardships and privations.  The Indians willingly took along his French lay companions, but him they disliked.  Although M. Tracy, the governor of Quebec, had made Father Allouez his ambassador to the Upper Algonquins, thus to facilitate his reception in their country, nevertheless they opposed him accompanying them, and threatened to abandon him on some desolate island.  No doubt the medicine-men were the principal instigators of this opposition.  He was usually obliged to paddle like the rest, often till late in the night, and that frequently without anything to eat all day.

“On a certain morning,” he says, “a deer was found, dead since four or five days.  It was a lucky acquisition for poor famished beings.  I was offered some, and although the bad smell hindered some from eating it, hunger made me take my share.  But I had in consequence an offensive odor in my mouth until the next day.  In addition to all these miseries we met with, at the rapids I used to carry packs as large as possible for my strength; but I often succumbed, and this gave our Indians occasion to laugh at me.  They used to make fun of me, saying a child ought to be called to carry me and my baggage.”

August 24, they arrived at Lake Huron, where they made a short stay; then coasting along the shores of that lake, they arrived at Sault Ste. Marie towards the beginning of September.  September 2, they entered Lake Superior, which the Father named Lake Tracy in acknowledgement of the obligations which the people of those upper countries owed to the governor.  Speaking of his voyage on Lake Superior, Father Allouez remarks:

“Having entered Lake Tracy, we were engaged the whole month of September in coasting along the south shore.  I had the consolation of saying holy mass, as I now found myself alone with our Frenchmen, which I had not been able to do since my departure from Three Rivers. * * * We afterwards passed the bay, called by the aged, venerable Father Ménard, Sait Theresa [Keweenaw] Bay.”

Speaking of his arrival at Chequamegon Bay, he says:

“After having traveled a hundred and eighty leagues on the south shore of Lake Tracy, during which our Saviour often deigned to try our patience by storms, hunger, daily and nightly fatigues, we finally, on the first day of October, 1665, arrived at Chagaouamigong, for which place we had sighed so long.  It is a beautiful bay, at the head of which is situated the large village of the Indians, who there cultivate fields of Indian corn and do not lead a nomadic life.  There are at this place men bearing arms, who number about eight hundred; but these are gathered together from seven different tribes, and live in peacable community.  This great number of people induced us to prefer this place to all others for our ordinary abode, in order to attend more conveniently to the instruction of these heathens, to put up a chapel there and commence the functions of Christianity.”

Further on, speaking of the site of his mission and its chapel, he remarks:

“The section of the lake shore, where we have settled down, is between two large villages, and is, as it were, the center of all the tribes of these countries, because the fishing here is very good, which is the principal source of support of these people.”

To locate still more precisely the exact site of his chapel, he remarks, speaking of the three Ottawa clans (Outaouacs, Kiskakoumacs, and Outaoua-Sinagonc):

“I join these tribes [that is, speaks of them as one tribe] because they had one and the same language, which is the Algonquin, and compose one of the same village, which is opposite that of the Tionnontatcheronons [Hurons of the Petun tribe] between which villages we reside.”

But where was that Ottawa village?  A casual remark of Allouez, when speaking of the copper mines of Lake Superior, will help us locate it.

“It is true,” says he, “on the mainland, at the place where the Outaouacs raise Indian corn, about half a league from the edge of the water, the women have sometimes found pieces of copper scattered here and there, weighing ten, twenty or thirty pounds.  It is when digging into the sand to conceal their corn that they make these discoveries.”

Detail of Fish Creek Slough (T47N R5W).

Detail of Fish Creek from Township 47 North Range 5 West.
~ Wisconsin Public Land Survey Records

Allouez evidently means Fish Creek.  About a mile or so from the shore of the bay, going up this creek, can be seen traces of an ancient clearing on the left-hand side, where Metabikitigweiag Creeek empties into Fish Creek, about half-way between Ashland and Ashland Junction.  The writer examined the locality about ten years ago.  This then is the place where the Ottawas raised Indian corn and had their village.  In Charlevoix’s History of New France, the same place is marked as the site of an ancient large village.  The Ottawa village on Fish Creek appears to have been the larger of the two at the head of Chequamegon Bay, and it was there Allouez resided for a time, until he was obliged to return to his ordinary dwelling place, “three-fourths of a league distant.”  This shows that the ordinary abode of Father Allouez and Marquette, the site of their chapel, was somewhere near Whittlesey’s Creek or Shore’s Landing.  The Huron village was most probably along the western shore of the bay, between Shore’s Landing and Washburn.

Detail of Ashland City, LaPointe County (T47N R4W).

Detail of Ashland next to an ancient large village (unmarked) in Township 47 North Range 4 West.
~ Wisconsin Public Land Survey Records

Father Allouez did not confine his apostolic labors to the two large village at the head of the bay.  He traveled all over the neighborhood, visiting the various shore hamlets, and he also spent a month at the western extremity of Lake Superior – probably at Fond du Lac – where he met with some Chippewas and Sioux.  In 1667 he crossed the lake, most probably from Sand Island, in a frail birch canoe, and visited some Nipissirinien Christians at Lake Nepigon (Allimibigong).  The same year he went to Quebec with an Indian flotilla, and arrived there on the 3d of August, 1667.  After only two days’ rest he returned with the same flotilla to his far distant mission on Chequamegon Bay, taking along Father Louis Nicholas.  Allouez contained his missionary labors here until 1669, when he left to found St. Francis Xavier mission at the head of Green Bay.  His successor at Chequamegon Bay was Father James Marquette, discoverer and explorer of the Mississippi.  Marquette arrived here September 13, 1669, and labored until the spring of 1671, when he was obliged to leave on account of the war which had broken out the year before, between the Algonquin Indians at Chequamegon Bay and their western neighbors, the Sioux.


1 – See ante, p. 419 for map of the bay. – ED.

2 – In writing Indian names, I follow Baraga’s system of orthography, giving the French quality to both consonants and vowels.

3 – Minn. Hist. Colls., v. – ED.

4 – See ante, p. 399, note. – ED.

5 – See Carr’s interesting and exhaustive article, “The Food of Certain American Indians,” in Amer. Antiq. Proc., x., pp. 155 et seq. – ED.

6 – Minn. Hist. Colls., v. – ED.

7 – In Charlevoix’s Nouvelle France.  – ED.

8 – See Radisson’s Journal, in Wis. Hist. Colls., xi.  Radisson and Groseilliers reached Chequamegon Bay late in the autumn of 1661. – ED.

9 – Ibid., p. 73: “I went to the wood some 3 or 4 miles.  I find a small brooke, where I walked by ye sid awhile, wch brought me into meddowes.  There was a poole, where weare a good store of bustards.” – ED.

10 – Ex-Lieut. Gov. Sam. S. Fifield, of Ashland, writes me as follows:

“After re-reading Radisson’s voyage to Bay Chewamegon, I am satisfied that it would by his description be impossible to locate the exact spot of his camp.  The stream in which he found the “pools,” and where he shot fowl, is no doubt Fish Creek, emptying into the bay at its western extremity.  Radisson’s fort must have been near the head of the bay, on the west shore, probably at or near Boyd’s Creek, as there is an outcropping of rock in that vicinity, and the banks are somewhat higher than at the head of the bay, where the bottom lands are low and swampy, forming excellent “duck ground” even to this day.  Fish Creek has three outlets into the bay, – one on the east shore or near the east side, one central, and one near the western shore; for full two miles up the stream, it is a vast swamp, through which the stream flows in deep, sluggish lagoons.  Here, in the early days of American settlement, large brook trout were plenty; and even in my day many fine specimens have been taken from these “pools.”  Originally, there was along these bottoms a heavy elm forest, mixed with cedar and black ash, but it has now mostly disappeared.  An old “second growth,” along the east side, near Prentice Park, was evidently once the site of an Indian settlement, probably of the 18th century.

“I am of the opinion that the location of Allouez’s mission was at the mouth of Vanderventer’s Creek, on the west shore of the bay, near the present village of Washburn.  It was undoubtedly once the site of a large Indian village, as was the western part of the present city of Ashland.  When I came to this locality, nearly a quarter of a century ago, “second growth” spots could be seen in several places, where it was evident that the Indians had once had clearings for their homes.  The march of civilization has obliterated these landmarks of the fur-trading days, when the old French voyageurs made the forest-clad shores of our beautiful bay echo with their boat songs, and when resting from their labors sparked the dusky maidens in their wigwams.”

Rev. E. P. Wheeler, of Ashland, a native of Madelaine Island, and an authority on the region, writes me:

“I think Radisson’s fort was at the mouth of Boyd’s Creek, – at least that place seems for the present to fulfill the conditions of his account.  it is about three or four miles from here to Fish Creek valley, which leads, when followed down stream, to marshes ‘meadows, and a pool.’  No other stream seems to have the combination as described.  Boyd’s Creek is about four miles from the route he probably took, which would be by way of the plateau back from the first level, near the lake.  Radisson evidently followed Fish Creek down towards the lake, before reaching the marshes.  This condition is met by the formation of the creek, as it is some distance from the plateau through which Fish Creek flows to its marshy expanse.  Only one thing makes me hesitate about coming to a final decision, – that is, the question of the age of the lowlands and formations around Whittlesey Creek.  I am going to go over the ground with an expert geologist, and will report later.  Thus far, there seems to be no reason to doubt that Fish Creek is the one upon which Radisson hunted.”  – ED.

11 – Minn. Hist. Colls., v., pp. 121, 122, gives the date as 1652. – ED.

Indian Sugar Camp by Seth Eastman c.1850 (Minnesota Historical Society)

Since we’re into the middle of March 2014 and a couple of warm days have had people asking, “Is it too early to tap?” I thought it might be a good time to transcribe a document I’ve been hanging onto for a while.

170 years ago, that question would have been on everyone’s mind.  The maple sugar season was perhaps the most joyous time of the year.  The starving times of February and early March were on the way out, and food would be readily available again.  Friends and relatives, separated during the winter hunts, might join back together in sugar camp, play music around the fire as the sap boiled, and catch up on the winter’s news.

Probably the only person around here who probably didn’t like the sugar season was the Rev. Sherman Hall.  Hall, who ran the La Pointe mission and school, aimed to convert Madeline Island’s Native and non-Native inhabitants to Protestantism.  To him, Christianity and “civilization” went hand and hand with hard labor and settling down in one place to farm the land.  When, at this time of the year, all his students abandoned the Island with everyone else, for sugar camps at Bad River and elsewhere on the mainland and other islands, he saw it as an impediment to their progress as civilized Christians.

Rev. Leonard Wheeler, who joined Hall in 1841, shared many of his ethnocentric attitudes toward Ojibwe culture.  However, over the next two decades Wheeler would show himself much more willing than Hall and other A.B.C.F.M. missionaries to meet Ojibwe people on their own cultural turf.  It was Wheeler who ultimately relocated from La Pointe to Bad River, where most of the La Pointe Band now stayed, partly to avoid the missionaries, where he ultimately befriended some of the staunchest traditionalists among the Ojibwe leadership.  And while he never came close to accepting the validity of Ojibwe religion and culture, he would go on to become a critical ally of the La Pointe Band during the Sandy Lake Tragedy and other attempted land grabs and broken Government promises of the 1850s and ’60s.

In 1844, however, Wheeler was still living on the island and still relatively new to the area.  Coming from New England, he knew the process and language of making sugar–it’s remarkable how little the sugar-bush vocabulary has changed in the last 170 years–but he would see some unfamiliar practices as he followed the people of La Pointe to camp in Bad River.  Although there is some condescending language in his written account, not all of his comparisons are unfavorable to his Ojibwe neighbors.  

Of course, I may have a blind spot for Wheeler.  Regular readers might not be surprised that I can identify with his scattered thoughts, run-on sentences, and irregular punctuation.  Maybe for that reason, I thought this was a document that deserved to see the light of day.  Enjoy:             

Bad River  Monday  March 25, 1844

We are now comfortably quartered at the sugar camps, Myself, wife, son and Indian Boy.  Here we have been just three weeks today.

Leonard (Lenny) Wheeler, the oldest son of missionaries Leonard and Harriet Wheeler, was just a baby in 1844.  The Wheelers had several more children after settling at Odanah.  I don’t know who “Indian Boy” is.  It may be one of the sons or nephews of Lyman and Marie Warren.

I came myself the middle of the week previous and commenced building a log cabin to live in with the aid of two men , we succeeded in putting up a few logs and the week following our house was completed built of logs 12 by 18 feet long and 4 feet high in the walls, covered with cedar birch bark of most miserable quality so cracked as to let in the wind and rain in all parts of the roof.  We lived in a lodge the first week till Saturday when we moved into our new house.  Here we have, with the exception of a few very cold days, been quite comfortable.  We brought some boards with us to make a floor–a part of this is covered with a piece of carpeting–we have a small cooking stove with which we have succeeded in warming our room very well.  Our house we partitioned off putting the best of the bark over the best part we live in, the other part we use as a sort of storeroom and woodhouse.

Bob Boyd, who married Julia Cadotte in 1847 and was the first Justice of the Peace for La Pointe County after Wisconsin’s statehood, came into the area around this time. The scale of his ambition and other context clues make him my prime suspect for Wheeler’s “Robert.”   

We have had meetings during on the Sabbath and those who have been accustomed to meet with us have generally been present.  We have had a public meeting in the foreroom at Roberts sugar bush lodge immediately after which my wife has had a meeting with the women or a sabbath school at our house.  Thus far our people have seemed to keep up their interest in Religion.

They have thus far generally remembered the Sabbath and in this respect set a good example to their neighbors, who both (pagan) Indians and Catholics generally work upon the Sabbath as upon other days.  If our being here can be the means of preventing these from declension in respect to religion and from falling into temptation, (especially) in respect to the Sabbath, an important end will be gained.

Of all the Christian commandments they wanted the Ojibwe to keep, the A.B.C.F.M. missionaries were especially obsessed with keeping the Sabbath holy.  See the writings of William T. Boutwell and Edmund F. Ely for more extreme examples.

The sugar making season is a great temptation to them to break the sabbath.  It is quite a test upon their faith to see their sap buckets running over with sap and they yet be restrained from gathering it out of respect to the sabbath, especially should their neighbors work in the same day.  Yet they generally abstain from Labor on the Sabbath.  In so doing however they are not often obliged to make much sacrifice.  By gathering all the sap Saturday night, their sap buckets do not ordinarily make them fill in one day, and when the sap is gathered monday morning.

N.E.=New England: The Wheelers were natives of Massachusetts.

They do not in this respect suffer much loss.  In other respects, they are called to make no more sacrifice by observing the sabbath than the people of N.E. do during the season of haying.  We are now living more strictly in the Indian country among an Indian community than ever before.  We are almost the only persons among a population of some 5 or 600 people who speak the English language.  We have therefore a better opportunity to observe Indian manners and customs than heretofore, as well as to make proficiency in speaking the language.

Process of making sugar and skillful use of birch bark.

The process of making sugar from the (maple) sap is in general as that practiced elsewhere where this kind of sugar is make, and yet in some respects the modus operandi is very different.  The sugar making season is the most an important event to the Indians every year.  Every year about the middle of March the Indians, French and halfbreeds all leave the Islands for the sugar camps.  As they move off in bodies from the La Pointe, sometimes in companies of 8, 10, 12 or 20 families, they make a very singular appearance.

Apakwe (apuckwais) is one of the Ojibwe words most often left untranslated in English records of this era.  Generally meaning “covering,” it usually refers to woven rush (flagg) mats as in this post, or to the wide birch bark rolls used to cover a wigwam.  Wheeler uses the word for both types of covering in this account.

Upon some pleasant morning about sunrise you will see these, by families, first perhaps a Frenchman with his horse team carrying his apuckuais for his lodge–provisions kettles, etc., and perhaps in addition some one or two of the [squaw?] helpers of his family.  The next will be a dog train with two or three dogs with a similar load driven by some Indians.  The next would be a similar train drawn by a man with a squaw pushing behind carrying a little child on her back and two or three little children trudging behind on foot.  The next load in order might be a squaw drawn by dogs or a man upon a sled at each end.  This forms about the variety that will be witnessed in the modes of conveyance.  To see such a ([raucous?] company) [motley process?] moving off, and then listen to the Frenchmen whipping his horse, which from his hard fare is but poorly able to carry himself, and to hear the yelping of the dogs, the (crying of) the children, and the jabbering in french and Indian.  And if you never saw the like before you have before you the loud and singular spectacle of the Indians going to the sugar bush.

“Frame of Lodge Used For Storage and Boiling Sap;” undated (Densmore Collection: Smithsonian)

One night they are obliged to camp out before they reach the place of making sugar.  This however is counted no hardship the Indian carries his house with him.  When they have made one days march it might when they come to a place where they wish to camp, all hands set to work to make to make a lodge.  Some shovel away the snow another cut a few poles.  Another cuts up some wood to make a fire.  Another gets some pine, cedar or hemlock (boughs) to spread upon the ground for floor and carpet.  By the time the snow is shoveled away the poles are ready, which the women set around in a circular form at the bottom–crossed at the top.  These are covered with a few apuckuais, and while one or two are covering the putting up the house another is making a fire, & perhaps is spreading down the boughs.  The blankets, provisions, etc. are then brought in the course of 20 or ½ an hour from the time they stop, the whole company are seated in their lodge around a comfortable fire, and if they are French men   you will see them with their pipes in their mouths.  After supper, when they have anything to eat, each one wraps himself in a blanket and is soon snoring asleep.  The next day they are again under way and when they arrive at the sugar camp they live in their a lodge again till they have some time to build a more substantial (building) lodge for making sugar.  A sugar camp is a large high lodge or a sort of a frame of poles covered with flagg and Birch apuckuais open at the top.  In the center is a long fire with two rows of kettles suspended on wooden forks for boiling sap.  As Robert (our hired man) sugar makes (the best kind of) sugar and does business upon rather a large scale in quite a systematic manner.  I will describe his camp as a mode of procedure, as an illustration of the manner in which the best kind of sugar is made.  His camp is some 25 or 30 feet square, made of a sort of frame of poles with a high roof open at the (top) the whole length coming down with in about (4 feet) of the ground.  This frame is covered around the sides at the bottom with Flag apukuais.  The outside and roof is covered with birch (bark) apukuais.  Upon each side next to the wall are laid some raised poles, the whole length of the (lodge) wall.  Upon these poles are laid some pine & cedar boughs.  Upon these two platforms are places all the household furniture, bedding, etc.  Here also they sleep at night.  In the middle of the lodge is a long fire where he has two rows of kettles 16 in number for boiling sap.  He has also a large trough, one end of it coming into the lodge holding several Barrels, as a sort of reservoir for sap, beside several barrels reserved for the same purpose.  The sap when it is gathered is put into this trough and barrels, which are kept covered up to prevent the exposure of the sap to the wind and light and heat, as the sap when exposed sours very quick.  For the same reason also when the sap and well the kettles are kept boiling night and day, as the sap kept in the best way will undergo some changes if it be not immediately boild.  The sap after it is boild down to about the consistency of molases it is strained into a barrel through a wollen blanket.  After standing 3 or 4 days to give it an opportunity to settle, some day, when the sap does not run very well, is then set aside for sugaring off.  When two or 3 kettles are hung over the fire a small fire built directly under the bottom.  A few quarts of molasses are then put into the kettles.  When this is boiled enough to make sugar one kettle is taken off by Robert, by the side of which he sets down and begins to stir it with a small paddle stick.  After stirring it a few moments it begins to grow all white, swells up with a peculiar tenacious kind of foam.  Then it begins to grain and soon becomes hard like [?] Indian pudding.  Then by a peculiar moulding for some time with a wooden large wooden spoon it becomes white as the nicest brown sugar and very clean, in this state, while it is yet warm, it is packed down into large birch bark mukoks made of holding from 50 to a hundred lbs.

Makak:  a semi-rigid or rigid container: a basket (especially one of birch bark), a box (Ojibwe People’s Dictionary) Photo:  Densmore Collection; Smithsonian

Certainly no sugar can be more cleaner than that made here, though it is not all the sugar that is made as nice.  The Indians do not stop for all this long process of making sugar.  Some of (their) sorup does not pass through anything in the shape of a strainer–much less is it left to stand and settle after straining, but is boiled down immediately into sugar, sticks, soot, dirt and all.  Sometimes they strain their sorup through the meshes of their snow shoe, which is but little better than it would be to strain it through a ladder.  Their sugar of course has rather a darker hue.  The season for making sugar is the most industrious season in the whole year.  If the season be favorable, every man wom and child is set to work.  And the departments of labor are so various that every able bodied person can find something to do.

The British missionary John Williams describes the coconut on page 493 of his A Narrative of Missionary Enterprises in the South Sea Islands (1837).   (Wikimedia Commons)

In the business of making sugar also we have a striking illustration of the skillful and varied use the Indians make of birch bark.  A few years since I was forcibly struck, in reading Williams missionary enterprises of the South Seas, with some annals of his in regard to the use of the cocoanut tree illustrated of the goodness and wisdom of God in so wonderfully providing for their condition and wants (of men).  His remarks as near as I can recollect are in substance as follows.  The cocoanut tree furnishes the native with timber to make his house, canoe, his fire and in short for most of the purposes for which they want wood.  The fruit furnishes his most substantial article of food, and what is still more remarkable as illustrating that principle of compensation by which the Lord in his good providence suplies the want of one blessing by the bestowment of another to take its place.  On the low islands their are no springs of water to supply the place of this.  The native has but to climb the cocoanut tree growing near his door and pluckes the fruit where in each shall he find from ¼ a pint to a kind of a most agreeable drink to slake his thirst.  His tree bearing fruit every month in year, fresh springs of water are supplied the growing upon  the trees before his own door.  Although the birch bark does not supply the same wants throughout to the Indian, yet they supply wants as numerous and in some respects nearly as important to their mode of living as does the cocoanut to the Inhabitants of the South Sea Islands.

Biskitenaagan:  a sap bucket of folded birch bark (Ojibwe People’s Dictionary) Photo:  Waugh Collection; Smithsonian

It is with the bark he covers his house.  With this bark he makes his canoe.  What could the Indian do without his wigwam and his canoe?  The first use (of the bark) we notice in the sugar making business what is called the piscatanagun, or vessel for catching sap in.  The Indian is not to the expence or trouble of making troughs or procuring buckets to catch the sap at the trees.  A piece of birch bark some 14 inches wide and 18 or 20 inches wide in the shape of a pane of glass by a peculiar fold at each end kept in place by a stitch of bark string makes a vessel for catching sap called a piskitenagun.  These are light, cheap, easily made and with careful usage will last several years.  When I first saw these vessels, it struck me as being the most skillful use of the bark I had seen.  It contrasted so beautifully with the clumsy trough or the more expensive bucket I had seen used in N.E.  This bark is not only used to catch the sap in but also to carry it in to the sugar camps, a substitute for pails, though lighter and much more convenient for this purpose than a pail.

“Chippewa Bucket and Trays Made of Birch Bark”  (Smithsonian)

In making a sap bucket bark of a more substantial kind is used than for the piskatanaguns.  They made large at the bottom small at the top, to prevent the sap from spilling out by the motion of carrying.  They are sewed up with bark the seams gummed and a hoop about the top to keep them in shape and a lid.  But we are not yet done with the bark at the sugar bush.  In boiling sap in the evening thin strips are rolled tight together, which is a good substitute for a candle.  Every once in a little while the matron of the lodge may be seen with her little torch in hand walking around the fire taking a survey of her kettles.  Lastly when the sugar is made it is finally deposited in large firmly wrought mukuks, which are made of bark.  This however is not the end of bark.  It is used for a variety of other purposes.  Besides being a substitute in many cases for plates, [bearers & etc.?], it is upon birch bark that the most important events in history are recorded–National records–songs, & etc. are written in hieroglific characters (upon this article) and carefully preserved by many of the Indians.

In Red Cliff, Wisconsin (2013), Howard Paap dismantles the still widely-held belief that shortly after the start of the fur trade the Ojibwe lost their traditional methods of making goods and became dependent on Europeans.  In 1844, two centuries after the first Ojibwe trade canoes probably reached Montreal, the use of birch bark kettles was still in living memory.

And finally the most surprising use of bark of which I have heard or could conceive of, is before the acquaintance of the Indians with the whites, the bark was used as a substitute for kettles in cooking, not exactly for bake kettles but for (kettles for) boiling fish, potatoes, & etc.  This fact we have from undoubted authority.  Some of the Indians now living have used it for this purpose themselves, and many of them say their fathers tell them it was used by their ancestors before iron kettles were obtained from the whites.  One kettle of bark however would not answer but for a single use.

Transcription note:  Spelling and grammatical errors have been maintained except where ambiguous in the original text.  Original struck out text has been maintained, when legible, and inserted text is shown in parentheses.  Brackets indicate illegible or ambiguous text and are not part of the original nor are the bolded words and phrases, which were added to draw attention to the sidebars.

The original document is held by the Wisconsin Historical Society in the Wheeler Family Papers at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center in Ashland.