By Amorin Mello

A curious series of correspondences from Morgan

… continued from To The Far West.



1845 daily union header

The Daily Union (Washington D.C.)
“Liberty, The Union, And The Constitution.”
July 7, 1845.

MADISON, (W.T.,) June 26, 1845.

To the Editor of the Union:

SIR: Our democratic territorial convention has this day nominated the Hon. Morgan L. Martin, of the county of Brown, as the candidate for the delegacy, to succeed Governor Dodge.  Mr. Martin is one of our ablest and most reliable democrats, and there is but little doubt of his election by a triumphant majority.  Mr. Martin has been fourteen years in the upper branch of our territorial legislature, and has been the presiding officer of that body at four sessions.  The democrats of the Territory will go into the canvass in the best possible spirits, and with the fullest confidence of success; for they are well united, and have a candidate worthy of the cause and their most zealous support.

Henry Dodge ~

Henry Dodge

More than twice the number of immigrants are arriving here daily, this season, than have ever come at any previous season.  The administration of Governor Dodge is very popular with all parties, and so are the measures of the national administration, and particularly its course on those two great questions – the annexation of Texas, and the maintenance of our rights to Oregon.

The convention was very fully attended; and, although there was some division when it assembled, as to who the nominee should be, the members left here in the best possible spirits.  In haste.

Yours, truly,

J. A. N.



1845 daily union header

The Daily Union (Washington D.C.)
“Liberty, The Union, And The Constitution.”
July 8, 1845.

[From our regular correspondent.]

MACKINAC, June 29, 1845.

This small town stands on a narrow slip of land sloping from the foot of elevated bluff hills in the rear, to the water.  The second and highest elevation is about three-quarters of a mile in the rear of the town, and is three hundred feet above the level of the lake or straits, and nine hundred feet above the level of the ocean.  The site of the town winds in a crescent form around a small harbor, indented in the southeastern part of the island.

Painting of Fort Mackinacc by Seth Eastman in 1761. ~ United States Army Center of Military History

Painting of Fort Mackinac by Seth Eastman in 1761.
~ United States Army Center of Military History

The old Fort Mackinac stood on an extreme northern point, putting out into the strait from the southern main land, some 10 or 15 miles to the southward of this place.  It was first settled upon as a French missionary station, and a fort erected.  When Carver visited it in 1756-’57, the fort was garrisoned by the English, who came into possession of it with the conquest of Canada, a few years before.  It then contained 30 houses, and had one hundred men in garrison, besides a government-house, &c.  In 1763, the various northwestern tribes of Indians who had long known the French as the first Europeans they had ever formed friendly intercourse with, became highly dissatisfied with the change from French to English rule.  A powerful league was, therefore, formed between the Ottowas, Chippewas, the Hurons, Menomonees, &c.; and the celebrated Pontiac was their leader, who bore a deadly hostility to the English.

"No authentic images of Pontiac [also known as Obwandiyag] are known to exist. This interpretation was painted by John Mix Stanley." ~

“No authentic images of Pontiac [also known as Obwandiyag] are known to exist. This interpretation was painted by John Mix Stanley.”

He approached the old Fort Mackinac, followed by a large force, and, at first, with apparently friendly feelings.  he and his followers commenced a [ba??] play in front of the fort.  The English, supposing all was right, ventured out of the fort to see the play; when Pontiac and his men made a sudden run upon the fort, and succeeded in capturing it.  The lives of the English were spared; but they were carried off as prisoners, and afterwards ransomed at Montreal at heavy prices.

After peace was made with Pontiac, the fort came again into the occupancy of the English, who transferred it to us, under the treaty of peace, at the close of the revolutionary war.  When the late war broke out, the British took both old Fort Mackinac and the fort at this town, and held them up to the treaty of Ghent; and if war were to begin soon, they would inevitably fall into their hands again, owing to our neglect to fortify them in a proper manner.  The old site we have abandoned, and erected a small and well-built fort on the hill, just in the rear of the town, on the island, which is about one hundred and fifty feet high above the level of the lake, or strait.  About three-quarters of a mile behind the fort, there is a high hill – the highest on the island – with its steep face looking towards the fort and harbor, while its eastern and northern section extends over a narrow plateau, or level, which could be completely raked by guns stationed on the walls of a fort, which should, by all means, be erected near the brow of the hill.  This high point of land overlooks and completely commands the fort our troops (two companies) at present occupy.

"Major Charles Gratiot visited Mackinac Island in 1817, using his trained engineer’s eye to carefully record the design of Fort Holmes in these detailed plans. The fort’s blockhouse, walls, and gun platforms are clearly visible on Gratiot’s drawings" ~ Mackinac State Historic Parks

“Major Charles Gratiot visited Mackinac Island in 1817, using his trained engineer’s eye to carefully record the design of Fort Holmes in these detailed plans. The fort’s blockhouse, walls, and gun platforms are clearly visible on Gratiot’s drawings”
~ Mackinac State Historic Parks

The first news the people heard of the declaration of war in 1812 in Mackinac, was the appearance of a large body of English and Indians on the high hill, who commanded the surrender of the fort, then garrisoned by some fifty or sixty men which was complied with.  The English entrenched this high ground, planted some batteries on its ramparts, and named it “Fort Holmes,” which it still bears.

This point is the main key to those important straits which connect two of the great lakes.  It is now just in the state of ruins in which the British left it in 1814-’15; and why our government have not strongly fortified it, seems inexplicable.  If this hill were strongly fortified, with armed outposts at some other points about the straits, the military defences of this place would be wholly impregnable – even stronger, if anything, than the rock of Gibraltar.  The position is a most important one and government should lose no time in putting it in a complete state of defence.

The only communication by water, between the two great lakes of Michigan and Huron, is directly in view of the heights of this harbor.

From the hill of Fort Holmes, there is  a most magnificent view.  The great sheets of water in the straits, with the islands, distant main-land, &c., are all in full view.  The approach of a steamer or vessel can be seen when from twelve to fifteen miles distant, in the eastern or western offing.

This post was first settled in 1764 – the year after the fall of old Mackinac.  In 1796 it was conveyed by the English to St. Clair.  It has long been a celebrated Indian trading-point, and is so yet; large numbers of whom constantly visit the place in the birch-bark canoes, encamping beneath bark wigwams (or shanties) on the stony beach along the shore.

1843 Drawing of Mission Point Beach at Mackinac Island, Michigan ~ ??

1843 Drawing of Mission Point Beach at Mackinac Island, Michigan
~ Historic Mackinac, Volume 1, facing-page 367.

This is also a great point for catching lake trout, or salmon-trout, white fish, &c., which are salted down in barrels, and shipped to market, selling for about seven dollars per barrel, on average.  This business is in the hands of Indians, half-breed Indians, and French fishermen, who go out into the lakes in Mackinac boats, properly prepared with seines, hooks, &c.

Photograph of Arch Rock on Mackinac Island, by n8huckins, shared under Creative Commons license. ~

Photograph of Arch Rock on Mackinac Island, by n8huckins, shared under Creative Commons.

The island of Mackinac is about 9 miles in circumference, and contains several natural curiosities among which, is the Giant’s Arch, or Rock, about a mile northeast of the town.  It is 100 feet high – the natural arch having a span of 45 feet wide.

Nearer the centre of the island is Henry’s cave, at which, it is said, this traveller once saved his life from the fury of drunken Indians, by secreting himself in it.  It was then full of bones, which have since disappeared.

In the town of Mackinac, there are two small churches, the most ancient of which is a Catholic chapel, connected with a Catholic mission at the point.  The other is a small Protestant church, originally built in connexion with an extensive mission-house founded by the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions.  They have since changed the establishment to the shores of Lake Superior.  The mission-house is now occupied by Mr. Herrick, lately from Detroit, who has converted it into a large and commodious tavern, at which we are staying.  There is also another comfortable hotel in the place.

I know of no place on the continent that can make a more delightful summer residence than Mackinac.  The heat of the summer is scarcely felt here at all.  You can sleep under a blanket every night throughout the summer.

The drinking water is equal to, if not better than, any which ever gushed from the hill-sides of the Alleghany mountains.  The fish are abundant and delicious.  Large steamers running between Buffalo and Chicago pass twice daily, touching in each case.

The American Fur Company have an agent here.  The United States government have an Indian sub-agent, also resident at this place.

I went to a small Catholic church to-day, where I heard a short sermon in French.  The auditory consisted of French descendants, Indians, half-breeds, and some few Americans.

This island is called the county of Mackinac and Sate of Michigan.  I believe, in addition to a State court, the United States district judge occasionally holds a court here.

We leave to-morrow, on the steamboat General Scott, expected up to-night from Green bay, for the Sault de Ste. Marie – the place of rendezvous for persons bound up Lake Superior, on which then is no craft at present, except two or three schooners sailing up the lake from the Sault to Copper Harbor, &c.

When I arrive at the Sault (pronounced Soo) Ste. Marie, I will write you again.

I remain yours, very respectfully.




1845 daily union header

The Daily Union (Washington D.C.)
“Liberty, The Union, And The Constitution.”
July 16, 1845.


[From our regular correspondent.]


Near Lake Superior, July 2, 1845.

We left Mackinaw yesterday, the 1st July, about a quarter-past eight , a.m.; our course for forty miles to the “detour” lying through the open and upper part of Lake Huron, which exposed our little boat to a very heavy rolling sea- the result of the previous day or two’s severe blow on the lakes.  Many of the passengers, as usual on such occasions, became severely sea-sick.  At half-past 12, p.m., we rounded into St. Mary’s river, where we had smoother water.

"A painting by Paul Kane depicts an encampment on the shores of Lake Huron in about 1845." ~ The Granger Collection, New York

“A painting by Paul Kane depicts an encampment on the shores of Lake Huron in about 1845.”
~ The Granger Collection, New York

The river at first appeared very wide, with a low and sandy beach on each side, and a flat swampy country running back into the interior.  As we progressed, however, the stream grew more narrow, and again expanded into two smart lakes – the first called Great George, and the latter Little George’s lake.  Leaving these lakes, the river fifteen or twenty miles below the Sault again contracted, and turned about among high hills a little distance off, while its margin was skirted with low, falt, gravelly ground, covered with white cedar and other rather dwarfed forest trees.  These highlands showed steep hills or knobs of old red sandstone.

It was not long after passing the hills, before we hove in sight of the white and frothy rapids, at the foot of which stands the small village of the Sault, at the principal pier of which we landed – it being 60 miles from the lake.

The town exhibits a collection of wooden log-houses, roofed and weather-boarded with birch bark, gathered along the river at the foot of the falls, here and there showing small framed painted houses, one of which is an hotel, at present overflowing with people bound for the mineral lands of Lake Superior.

The Sault contains, besides the houses noticed, a small United States garrison; the slender wooden stockade defences of which, with officers’ quarters, are almost in a state of dilapidation.  There is also a small missionary station and school-house belonging to the Methodists, and a U. S. Indian agency.

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

A painting of an Ojibwa village near Sault Ste Marie; also by Paul Kane in 1845.

There is a collector of the port on each side of the river, which is here about a mile wide, between us and Canada.  I imagine there is very little business to do by either functionary.  The American Fur Company have a station at the Sault.  The Hudson Bay Company have a factory, or station, on the opposite side of the river.  I paid a visit to the latter yesterday, having a note of introduction to a Mr. Blenden, their agent, whom I found busy in packing up for a voyage up the Canada side of Lake Superior.  He is bound on a tour among the posts towards Hudson’s Bay to the north.  Mr. B. received me very politely.  He informed me that he intended to carry his children with him, whom he expected to send in the care of friends across to Hudson’s Bay, where they would embark on one of the company’s ships for London, and be from thence conveyed to Edinburgh, to be placed at school.  He told me Sir George Simpson, the governor of the company, had passed up the lake not long since, accompanied by his boats, &c.  he was bound for the valley of the Red river of the North, where he expected to meet a kind of convention of the authorities of the company’s territories in that quarter – among whom would be the representatives of Selkirk’s colony, the population of which is about 5,000.  They produce more grain, &c., than they can find means of having conveyed to market: hence there is some emigration from their colony to the valley of the Mississippi, within the States.

John Ballenden was a Scottish fur trader for Hudson’s Bay Company.
William E Logan’s 1845 survey.

Mr. B. states that the Hudson Bay Company employ about seven ships in their trade – two or three of which, every summer, visit Hudson’s Bay; three double Cape Horn, and ascent the Columbia river; and one or two others are employed at other points.  He states that their charter gives them ample territorial jurisdiction over all the lands, mines, &c., on the high lands to the north and west of Lake Superior, but not over the lands immediately along the shore.  He states that a geologist, Dr. Logan, is engaged in surveying the country of Upper Canada, and is now employed between Lake Ontario and Lake Huron, or the inlet of the latter lake, called Lake Georgina Bay.  He is expected up this summer, to examine the northern shore of Lake Superior, which is supposed to be as rich in copper ore, at certain points, as the southern shore.

The two fur companies (American and Hudson Bay) are on the best possible understanding; which has a very favorable influence on the northwestern tribe of Indians.

In 1830, they mutually agreed to exclude all intoxicating drinks, in their traffic and intercourse, from them.  The Indians, in consequence of this wise and humane compact, are everywhere, within their bounds more inoffensive and peaceable.  It is just as safe, if not more so, to travel among them, than among the whites.  They have a considerable number of birch-bark lodges at the Sault, employing their time in catching fish at the foot of the falls, in their gill-nets.  They belong almost exclusively to the Chippewa tribe.  The Sault is the greatest place for catching fish I ever saw.  They can take ten times as many white fish, salmon-trout, brook-trout, bass, &c., as can be disposed of.  The Indians push their canoes up into the foam of the falls, cast forward their nets, and draw it as the current carries the boat down again.  Our staple article of food at the Sault is fresh fish.

The falls here, or rapids, have only a descent of about 18 to 21 feet in a mile; while the ground is very favorable to the construction of a ship-canal – the length of which need only be a mile.  On the Canada side, the length of the rapids is only about three-quarters of a mile long.  It is very likely, if our government refuses to construct a canal on our side, that the English may, ere long, make one on their side; which will be only three-quarters of a mile long.

"Hudson Bay Fort, Sault Ste. Marie. By J.S. Hallam." ~ Sault Ste. Marie Public Library

“Hudson Bay Fort, Sault Ste. Marie. By J.S. Hallam.”
~ Sault Ste. Marie Public Library

The fort at this place, in time of war, should be erected on a considerable hill, about three-quarters of a mile in the rear of the Sault, called Coal-pit hill; which commands a fine view of the falls, river, &c.

There are several schooners (say three or four) on Lake Superior, plying between the head of the falls and Lapointe, Copper Harbor, &c.  They have been drawn around the falls on rollers.  There is some talk of having a steamer carried around by the same means.  A fine new vessel is on the stocks at the head of the falls, which is about half done.  It will be launched about the 1st of August.  She is building by Newbury & Co.; to be rigged as a fore-and-aft schooner.

At the Sault, a Catholic station was founded from one to two centuries ago, being fixed upon as a missionary station.  next to Quebec and Montreal, it is said to be the oldest point settled upon by Europeans in Canada.  It has always been an important point for the Indian trade.  Here goods are carried round the falls, and sent up Lake Superior to be distributed to various Indian trading-posts, far in the northwestern region of the continent.

The early Catholic Jesuits, or priests, who first explored the far distant, cold, and deary regions bordering the shores and streams of the upper lakes, must have been animated with a deal of perseverance, and influenced by the dictates (to them) of an all-powerful religion.  They at every prominent point throughout this vast country erected the cross among the savage tribes, and impressed their minds with the solemn and imposing ceremonies of the religion they professed.  Their success among the savage tribes of North America has never been surpassed, if equalled, by more modern and persevering denominations.  They acquired an influence over the Indians, which nearly a century of British and American domination has not been sufficeint to efface.  Even at this day, the frail wooden cross seen standing in the humble grave-yards of the Indians, sufficiently attests the remaining influence of the Catholic religion.  French and Indian have also intermarried more than the Anglo-Saxon and Indian.  The latter also more commonly speak French.  Indians never, in early times, fought Frenchmen.  Our earliest accounts of the vast interior western and northwester regions of this continent were derived from Catholic priests, such as Father Hennespin, &c.

Alexander Henry the Elder and Captain Jonathan Carver were featured in The Story of Chequamegon Bay.

The first Englishmen who explored the upper lakes after the fall of Canada, were Henry and Carver, between the years 1766 and 1775-’76.  Their works contain many interesting details relative to the country.

In alluding, in a former letter, to our loss of Hunters’ island by the treaty of Washington, I underrated its size.  It is greater in area than the vaunted Isle Royale; being about 50 miles long, instead of 40, and about 40 wide.

A gross error prevails with regard to Isle Royale.  It is supposed by some that we acquired it by the Lake Washington treaty, when it has always been ours, since the treaty of peace after the revolution.  We have, therefore, given away important territory on Pigeon river, without receiving any equivalent, that I know of.

We have been wind-bound at the Sault for two or three days, by reason of a strong northwester, blowing directly down the river.  It has been blowing about a half a gale on the upper lakes for nearly two months past; and, from all indications, the gale may last all summer.  The weather in this latitude 46 degrees 30 minutes) is very cold.  We have to wear thick woollens and sleep under blankets – it being difficult, on the 2d day of July, 1845, to keep warm at that!  The soil produces fine Irish potatoes – better than I have tasted anywhere else – some oats, barley, turnips, rye, and wheat, &c.  The soil is miserably bad, back in the interior.  The population depends chiefly upon fishing, for a support; which, to all appearance, is a never-failing resource.

From this point, I expect to coast the southern lake shore in an open boat, with five or six “voyageurs;” or send them on, and go up to Copper Harbor in the schooner Swallow.

I shall pass to where mail facilities cease, and where the reduction of postage affords no benefit; and it may be some days before you can get another letter from me.

For more information about Major Arthur Holmes, see chapter 3 of War 1812 by George S. May.

During the late war, the Americans, under command of Major Holmes, burnt down the Hudson Bay Company’s fur agency, or factor, on the opposite site of the river.

Almost the only tribe of Indians visiting or living about the Sault, belong to the Chippewa tribe – which, on the average, are good-locking Indians, and apparently comfortably clad, &c.  Many of the half-breeds are really beautiful; and, in regularity of features, figure, and size of hands and feet, would do credit to more civilized life.  They seem to me to be more industrious than more southern tribes of Indians among whom I have travelled, and far more inoffensive and civil to the whites.  Some of the men are exceedingly tall and fine-looking fellows.  I saw yesterday the son of a chief from the Canada side, who stood between six and seven feet high, and was as straight as an arrow.  He could not speak a syllable of English.  I saw him examining, with much attention, the new schooner building at the head of the falls.

The USS Michigan was launched in 1843, and later renamed as the USS Wolverine in 1905. ~

The USS Michigan was launched in 1843, and later renamed as the USS Wolverine in 1905.

The names of Indians are often very curious, and, in a measure, put at defiance the power of the English language to express them.  I saw a tall man of the Chippewas at Mackinac, as he stood gazing at the United States steamship Michigan.  Mr. Biddle, an old resident trader of the place, who spoke Chippewa, was standing near him.  he wished to know of Mr. Biddle what sort of a vessel she was; who explained to him that she belong to “his great father, the President, who, if necessary, would use it against his enemies.”  This Indian’s name, translated into English, was nothing less than “A Corpse,” or “A Dead Man” – an unusual name, I should think, even for an Indian!

The Indians always keep an abundant supply of dogs, which, about the Sault, seem uniformly to be a cross of the common cur with the wolf, and seem of little use, except to keep up an eternal barking at night about their bark lodges.  This is a remarkably fine climate for the Newfoundland dog, some fine specimens of which I have seen in the possession of the whites about the Sault.  At Mackinac, and other places in the northwest, the half-breeds especially make draught animals of dogs, in drawing water on trucks, and in performing other labor.

The dogs used by the Indians about Hudson’s Bay are said to be larger and more savage, and used to a greater extent as animals of labor.

The Chippewas, it is said, make no scruple of eating dogs, which they often esteem as a delicacy.  This, however, I cannot vouch for.

Yours, very respectfully,




To be continued in Copper Harbor

By Amorin Mello

The Daily Union was a newspaper in Washington, D.C., now archived online at the Library of Congress, that published a curious series of correspondences with the pen name “Morgan” during 1845.  In this series, “Morgan” included a remarkable and vicarious description of his experiences on Lake Superior and at La Pointe.  Based on the circumstances and narrative, the identity of “Morgan” is assumed to be Morgan Lewis Martin.

Morgan Lewis Martin

Portrait of Morgan L. Martin Painted by Samuel Marsden Brookes (1816-1892) and Thomas H. Stevenson. Oil on canvas, 1856.
(Wisconsin Historical Museum object #1942.37.) WHI 2786

“From the time of his arrival in Green Bay in 1827, Morgan Lewis Martin (1805-1887) was an important figure in Wisconsin. Martin was an organizer of the Wisconsin Democratic Party, a member of the territorial and state legislatures, a delegate to Congress, and a Civil War paymaster. He played a key role in the early development of Milwaukee and for almost fifty years promoted various Fox and Wisconsin River improvement projects. Brookes and Stevenson, a Milwaukee-based partnership, executed this portrait of Martin during a two-month visit to Green Bay in the summer of 1856.”

According to the Biographical Directory of the United States Government:

MARTIN, Morgan Lewis, (cousin of James Duane Doty), a Delegate from the Territory of Wisconsin; born in Martinsburg, Lewis County, N.Y., March 31, 1805; attended the common schools and was graduated from Hamilton College, Clinton, N.Y., in 1824; studied law; was admitted to the bar and commenced practice in Detroit, Mich.; moved to Green Bay, Wis., in 1827 (then a part of Michigan Territory); member of the Michigan Territorial legislature 1831-1835; member of the Wisconsin Territorial legislature 1838-1844 and served as president in 1842 and 1843; elected as a Democrat to the Twenty-ninth Congress (March 4, 1845-March 3, 1847); president of the second State constitutional convention in 1847 and 1848; again elected to the State assembly in 1855; member of the State senate in 1858 and 1859; served in the Union Army as paymaster with the rank of major 1861-1865; Indian agent 1866-1869; unsuccessful candidate for election in 1866 to the Fortieth Congress; resumed the practice of his profession; elected judge of Brown County in 1875, in which capacity he served until his death at Green Bay, Brown County, Wis., December 10, 1887; interment in Woodlawn Cemetery.

Shortly before Morgan Lewis Martin was elected to the 29th Congress, the Territory of Wisconsin passed the following Joint Resolution:

JOINT RESOLUTION relative to Mail Routes.

Resolved by the Council and House of Representatives of the Territory of Wisconsin:

That our Delegate in Congress be requested to procure the establishment of a mail route from Janesville to Racine on the United States road between those places; also one from Racine to Prairie Village in Millwaukee county; and also one from Wheatland to Racine both in the county of Racine; also one from Mineral Point in Iowa county by way of Shullsburg and New Diggings to White Oak Springs in Iowa county, also one from Madison in Dane county via Sun Prairie, Columbus, and Beaver. 113 dam to Waupun in Fond du Lac county; also one from the falls of St. Croix [to] La Point on Lake Superior; also one from Prairieville in Milwaukee county by the way of Lisbon to Limestone in Washington county; also one from Potosi by way of Hurricane and Cassville to Patch Grove in Grant county; also one from Fond du Lac, Fond du Lac county, by the way of Ceresco and Green Lake to Fort Winnebago in Portage cou nty; also one from Madison to Prairie du Chien in Crawford county -by the most direct route; also, one from Plattville in Grant county by Jamestown to Fairplay, and from Fairplay by Hazel Green to White Oak Springs in Iowa county; also, one from Millwaukee by Lisbon, Warren, Oconomewoc, Watertown and Sun Prairie to Madison ; and also, one. from Milwaukee by Hustis Rapids to Fort Winnebago; also, one from Milwaukee via Whitewater and McFadden, on Sugar River to Mineral Point.

APPROVED, February 15, 1845.



1845 daily union header

The Daily Union (Washington D.C.)
“Liberty, The Union, And The Constitution.”
June 19, 1845.


[From our regular correspondent.]

NEW YORK, June 16, 1845.

We have had two arrivals from China, bringing dates as late as the 13th of March; but the papers received are said to contain little news of interest.  Trade was represented as dull, except for gray cotton cloth and yarn.


Photographic copy of an 1845 daguerreotype featuring 78 year-old Andrew Jackson (seventh President of the United States) shortly before his death. ~

The announcement of General Jackson’s death reached this city yesterday afternoon, and produced the deepest feelings of regret among thousands of people.  The flags on the shipping in port, and at all the places of public resort, were immediately hoisted at half-mast, as the news spread by extra newspapers over the city like an electric shock.  No doubt, arrangements will be speedily made to commemorate his death, and to express the sorrow of the people for the fall of so great a patriot, by every kind of suitable demonstration.

It is seldom in the annals of history that such men as Gen. Jackson rise up and stand out so prominently from the mass of mankind.  Whatever else may be thought of him, his devoted love of country, his integrity of purpose, his Christian purity and benevolence can never be questioned by any one.

I have no general news of importance to note.  Trade and stocks are dull; without material change in either since my last.  Indeed, we have no change to expect till the arrival of the news by the Boston and Liverpool steamer, which is now daily looked for.

I must make my letter brief to-day, as I am about getting ready for a trip to the “far West,” and when you hear from me again, it will be en route towards sunset.

Yours, very truly and respectfully,




1845 daily union header

The Daily Union (Washington D.C.)
“Liberty, The Union, And The Constitution.”
June 24, 1845.


[From our regular correspondent.]

BUFFALO, N. Y., June 19, 1845.

Niagara steamboat by James Bard

“Niagara, Hudson River steamboat built 1845.” Painting by James Bard.

I left New York at 7, a.m. yesterday morning, on board the splendid new steamboat called “Niagara,” on her first trip to Albany as a day-boat.  She is 275 feet long on her keel, and 285 long on her main deck.  Her large engine has a stroke of 11 feet; the main cylinder is 72 inches in diameter.  She is fitted up like a palace.  She ran the distance from New York to West Point, about 55 or 60 miles, in six minutes less than three hours.  No boat runs as well when perfectly new, as when the portions of machinery subject to much friction have been worn smooth.  The “Niagara” put us down in Albany a little before 5, p.m.  Here we had to wait till 8, p.m., before a train left carrying us west towards Buffalo.  We travelled all night, and reached the latter place, 584 or 585 miles, in 36 hours from New York; or, subtracting delays, in the remarkable short space of 30 hours, running time!

I slept as well as I could in the cars; and am here, at half-past 10, p.m., after a fatiguing thirty-six hours’ travel, sitting down trying to indite something for the “Union;” but, from a heavy feeling in my eye-lids, I fear I may make a drowsy affair of it.

I found the western part of New York, and especially the country west of Utica, much better than I anticipated.  The country looked new, for one of the old thirteen.  As populous as the State is, western New York contains still much virgin soil to come into cultivation.

The staple productions appear to be wheat, rye, oats, potatoes, barley, &c.  The first article is the greatest of all.  The valley of the Mohawk is an interesting section of New York; but I think the country lying on the Genesee valley, and bordering the lakes of Cayuga, Seneca, and Canadaigua, c., by far the most interesting – and that portion especially about Seneca Falls, Waterloo, &c.  The crops looked remarkably well in color, &c.; but seemed generally rather backward for the season.  Wheat has headed very well, but does not appear very high, or to stand very thick on the ground, except in places, as the English farmers express it, I think “the heads of grain may be large and full,” if nothing happens; but “the straw will be light.”

After leaving Albany, the first place we stopped at of any note was Utica – 93 miles west of that town.  It contains about 12,000 inhabitants, and is quite a well-built and pretty place.  It is in Oneida county, much of which has been settled by industrious Welsh farmers.  The county cast a majority of about 700 votes for the democratic electoral ticket last November.

As it was 3 o’clock at night when we reached Utica, we walked out to look at the place by moonlight, and were much pleased with its appearance.

From Utica we pushed on from village to village, bearing a variety of ancient Indian, Greek, and Roman names, till we were set down at this point.

As the country is familiar to many, and has been often described, I may have, in my next, to say something more about it.  At present, I must close, or fall asleep over the paper.

Yours, very respectfully,


P.S. I visit Niagara Falls to-morrow, and expect to return the same day, in time to take a boat (the St. Louis) at seven in the evening for Detroit, Michigan.



1845 daily union header

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

[From our regular correspondent.]

DETROIT, MICHIGAN, June 24, 1845.

On the next day after I wrote to you from Buffalo, I visited the falls of Niagara, over a railroad of 22 miles in length, running parallel with Niagara river.  We passed Black Rock, a small scattered village, which the British captured, and, whose fort they destroyed in 1813.  Schlosser was the next point of greatest notoriety, opposite the lower end of Navy island.  It now contains only two houses- an old wooden warehouse and pier, (from which the Caroline was cut out,) with one small farm-house, standing, it is said, on the site of the old French fort, erected there prior to the conquest of Canada by the English.  Schlosser is within two and a half miles of the falls.

I have not time to describe what has been so often and so well done; the character, appearances, points of view, &c., of these stupendous and wonderful cascades.  They forcibly impress upon the mind of the beholder a sense of natural awe and sublimity, probably nowhere else, over this whole earth, to be equalled.

1856 niagara falls

“Niagara Falls Terrapin Point” by Ferdinand Reichardt, 1856.
~ Buffalo History Museum

I crossed the river just below the falls, to the Canada side, and visited the battle-ground of Lundy’s Lane.  A village has since sprung up at this place, called Drummondsville, named in honor of the British general who commanded the English troops on that occasion.  Most of the battle-ground is now covered by orchards and fields.

I went with Anderson, the guide, (who says he was in the battle as a British soldier,) into an old grave-yard situated near where the British artillery stood, which Col. Miller took at the point of the bayonet.  In this grave-yard, Anderson pointed out two graves which he says contains the remains of eighteen American officers.  Why cannot American patriotism place some memorial over the graves of these brave men?  The only memorial I saw of this kind, on our side, was a painted wooden board, with a simple epitaph, inscribing the name of Captain Hull, of the United States army, stating he had bravely fallen in this battle.  Another board of a similar description, erected by the bounty of a corporal and a few privates, over the remains of an English officer, with a tomb-stone placed over Col. Cecil Bishop, of the English forces, who died of wounds received at Black Rock, are all the memorials seen at this burial-ground of Lundy’s Lane, who fell in that action.

Lieutenant-Colonel John Gordon and Captain S. B. Torrens received a monument in their memory several years later from their friend and companion, Major Barry Fox.
Niagara Historical Society No. 22 Some Graves on Lundy’s Lane By Ernest Green, page 13.

Col. Gordon, buried in the same ground, lies without a stone.  He belonged to the Royal Scotch Highlanders.  This battle cost the contending parties over 800 aside, in killed and wounded.

Having seen all worthy of note about the falls, I returned to Buffalo, and sailed at 7 p.m. the same day, on board the St. Louis, for Detroit.

We had on board a large number of emigrants and cabin passengers.  The tide of emigration setting west by the lake route is prodigious.  Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, and Indiana, seem to be the great points of attraction just now.

Having touched at Fair Port and Cleveland, we reached this place on the 22d, early in the morning; having passed Fort Malden some twenty miles below.

Detroit is a handsome and well-laid-off town, and growing continually in population and commercial importance.  It is situated on the west bank of the Detroit river, which never overflows or has any material rise or fall.  Its water, as well as that of the lakes, affords the most delicious drinking water.

This town is connected in its history with many important scenes.  Being early settled by the French, it became involved in the English and French Canadian war; and even before it became a part of the United States, it had changed its flag five times.  it was once captured by the Indians, and was burnt down in 1803.  In 1805, by the ignominious and disgraceful surrender of Gen. Hull, it fell into the hands of the English.  This even took place in the southern part of this town, the spot still being pointed out by old settlers who witnessed the transaction.  In 1813, Detroit was retaken by the Americans, when a government was reorganized, and Gen. Lewis Cass appointed its governor.

About fifty miles below this, the river Raisin empties into the lake, at a point called Monroe.  It was on this river the bloody massacre of the brave Kentuckians by Indians was perpetrated by the non-interference of the English, under whose protection they had placed themselves as prisoners of war.

At Monroe, a most fiendish and cold-blooded crime was recently committed.  it seems, a Mr. Hall, cashier of a bank at Monroe, was decoyed into the woods at night, by a man by the name of Wells, of this place, who was extremely intimate with Hall; when he shot him – once in the back of the head, and once in the back of his body.  The deed, it is believed, was committed with the diabolical design of obtaining the keys of the bank from Hall, and robbing it.  Young Hall has both balls in him, but still survives; and, strange to say, walked out a day or two since.  Wells is in prison, and, like other persons guilty of such horrid crimes, professes “insanity.”

nicollet map mississppi basin

Hydrographical basin of the upper Mississippi River from astronomical and barometrical observations, surveys, and information,” by Joseph Nicolas Nicollet, et al; published by order of the United States Senate, 1843.

Having a copy of M. Nicollet’s map of the upper basin of the Mississippi with me, I have been led to trace our boundary between this country and England, west from the northwestern shore of Lake Superior, beginning at the mouth of Pigeon river, by the late treaty of Washington; and find we have been most severely cheated in the new line, running from the point indicated to the Lake of the Woods.  Soon after parting from Lake Superior, ascending Pigeon river, we come to Hunter’s island, about the size of a large county in one of the States.  At the northwest point of this island, Pigeon river divides into two streams – one making an extensive turn to the north, while the other makes a bend to the south, uniting again at the foot of the island.  Now, by the old line of boundary, the navigation of the entire river belonged to us, with Hunter’s and other islands.  These, with the channel north of the island, which is the deepest, have, by the treaty of Washington, by some unaccountable means, been transferred to the English!  Formerly, they yielded up the Pigeon river to our traders, &c., and moved their fort from the mouth of the river some forty miles up the lake, to Thunder Bay, where they built Fort William.  They have now again come down (as they have a right to do) to Pigeon river, and interrupt the transit of our traders and people up and down its navigable channels and principal portages.  Besides Hunter’s island, we have yielded Isle La Croix, still higher up the river.  Hunter’s island is about forty miles long by thirty miles wide, with the deep channel on its northern side.  Isle La Croix is about ten miles by fifteen miles in diameter.  The line from La Croix west, is made to follow the southern chain of lakes, on the most southern part of Pigeon river, till it reaches the river above them.  It then passes to the Lake of the Woods, and from thence to the 49th degree of north latitude, and so on west.  What pretext there was for changing our boundary northwest of Lake Superior up Pigeon river, where there never was a boundary in dispute, and where the Pigeon river and Hunter’s island had for years been laid down in British maps as our property, is more than I can tell.  Those who negotiated the treaty on our side, must have been grossly ignorant of geography, or they must have been woefully overreached by the British minister.


Thomas Douglas, 5th Earl of Selkirk, was a Scottish peer from the Royal Society of London, and established the Red River Colony along Hudson Bay (1811). This is neither the same person nor place as Alexander Selkirk’s colony on Más-a-Tierra Island, Chile, which inspired Daniel Defoe’s novel, Robinson Crusoe (1719).

The boundary line, stretching across from Lake Superior, along the Pigeon river, to the Lake of the Woods, Red river, &c., is the weakest and most exposed section of the United States.  On the Red river of the North, and north of the Pigeon river, is a large body of hardy half-breed Indians, mixed with the Scotch and Germans, who have descended from Alexander Selkirk’s colony, founded near Hudson’s Bay.  These people have about six thousand men capable of performing military duty.  They come down to the head-waters of the St. Peter’s and Mississippi rivers every season, for the purpose of hunting buffalo, accompanied with their wagons and teams, which, when they have loaded with buffalo meat, they return to their own country.  it is said, these men, with the warriors of the Indian tribes stretching west and north of the United States boundary line, number some twenty thousand fighting men, all of whom are under the control of the Hudson Bay (English) Company.  In time of war these forces might be organized and brought to bear with destructive effect upon our new upper settlements in Wisconsin and Iowa, and other portions of our northwestern territory.  To guard this weak point on our northwestern frontier, our forts are wrongly placed.  The forts Snelling, Winnebago, and Wilkins, are too far in the interior.

Government ought, as early as practicable, to adopt measures to build a strong fort at the junction of Pigeon river with Lake Superior, and then to erect detached forts along our entire line of frontier, up Pigeon river to the Lake of the Woods, and from thence along to the Red river, west.  These forts would serve to protect our northwestern settlements, and to keep the British and half-breed Indians, with Selkirk’s descendants, in check.

Let any man carefully examine a map of the country we have described, and he will see the propriety of our suggestion.

I leave here in a day or two for Mackinaw, from whence I will write again.

I am very respectfully and truly, yours,




1845 daily union header

The Daily Union (Washington D.C.)
“Liberty, The Union, And The Constitution.”
July 5, 1845.

[From our regular correspondent.]


Bound from Detroit to Mackinac,

June 27, 1845.

After spending some three or four days in Detroit, where I met with the friendly hospitality of a number of friends and acquaintances, I prepared to leave for Mackinac, at the head of Lake Huron.


“Bank of Michigan Building, SW corner of Jefferson and Griswold, built 1836”
~ History of Detroit and Michigan, by Silas Farmer, 1890.

While I was in Detroit, the United States circuit court was in session, Judges McLean and Wilkins presiding.  This tribunal now occupies a very neat stone building, formerly erected and owned by the Bank of Michigan.  This bank, in winding up its affairs, fell into debt some forty thousand dollars on their interest account, which, after meeting other liabilities, they were unable to discharge.  The government, therefore, purchased this house from them at $40,000, and converted it to its present use.

A Presbyterian convention was also in session for a part of the time during my visit.

The large steamboats plying between Buffalo and the upper lakes, all touch at Detroit, to the number of two a day.  Many of these are large and splendid structures of their kind.  At this season of the year, they run very full of passengers, and, when bound west, carry out a great many emigrants, who are hunting homes in Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois.  The principal tide is drifting towards Wisconsin at the present, generally landing at Milwaukie, and pushing out into the interior.  The boats running on the upper lakes, are at present united in a combination to regular prices.  From Buffalo to Chicago, they charge as follows: for cabin passage, 12 dollars; for deck passage, 6 dollars.  Cabin to Detroit, 6 dollars; deck, 3 dollars.  From Detroit to Mackinac: cabin, 7 dollars; for deck, 4 dollars.  Meals for deck passengers charged 25 cents each, extra.

We found the Wisconsin pretty well crowded with passengers when we went on board.  Among the deck people were several farmers’ families from Sussex, in England, bound out to Wisconsin, intending to land at Milwaukie, and proceed from thence some little distance into the interior.

On the 26th instant, the United States steam-ship Michigan, and the United States garrison near Detroit, fired minute-guns during the day, in obedience to general orders, and in respect to the memory of Gen. Jackson.

The single ten-inch gun fired from the bow of the Michigan made a loud report, which reverberated along the Canadian  shore, as well as along the streets of Detroit.

"Map of the Great Western Railway of Canada, and Connections." Circa 1879. ~

“Map of the Great Western Railway of Canada, and Connections.” Circa 1879.

Should the projected railroad to extend from Lake Ontario to Windsor, opposite Detroit, and that now in progress from the latter place to St. Joseph, on Lake Michigan, be completed, it will have a tendency to make this city a great thoroughfare for travellers, &c., going west.

Leaving Detroit about 9 a.m., we continued up the river till we came to Lake St. Clair.  In our progress through it, we could see, by the aid of the glass, the bay formed on its eastern or Canadian side by the entrance of the river Thames, some distance up which, the celebrated battle was fought, which resulted in the death of Tecumseh.  Gen. Cass, who now resides in Detroit, dispensing kindness and hospitality to his friends, was in that action, with Gen. Harrison.

From Lake St. Clair, we entered St. Clair river, which is a beautiful stream, forming the southern outlet to Lake Huron.  It has cut itself a beautiful canal, on a large scale, through a level country, like Detroit river, leaving gravelly banks, of moderate elevation, on either side.  The banks of this river, and especially on the American side, are pretty thickly settled.  For some distance in the interior, on the Canada side, the Indians still remain in considerable numbers.  At one point, we passed a village of theirs, on the river.  At various points, we saw considerable parties of them, either engaged in fishing or travelling, or encamped.

In the afternoon we passed a village on the American side, called Palmer, where a Michigan volunteer company were out on parade, whose band of music greeted us with some lively airs.  Near the head of the river, we passed a missionary school and station on the English side; and near the foot of Lake Huron, Fort Gratiot.

For a mile after the St. Clair leaves Lake Huron, the current has a force of six or seven miles per hour.  Sail-vessels find it very difficult to stem it; and can only do so, when bound up, by the aid of stiff southerly winds.  This river and rapids area  serious obstacle to the passage of sail-vessels from the lower to the upper lakes.  They are said often to remain wind-bound for a week or more in this river, and at the foot of the rapids.  By aid of a tow-path along the shore, on the American side, a mile long, the length of the strongest current, I should think vessels might be pulled up by horse-power into the lake at any time.

"A painting by Paul Kane depicts an encampment on the shores of Lake Huron in about 1845." ~ The Granger Collection, New York

“A painting by Paul Kane depicts an encampment on the shores of Lake Huron in about 1845.”
~ The Granger Collection, New York

Late in the afternoon of yesterday, we entered Lake Huron, a huge inland sea.  On our right was a vast sheet of water, meeting the horizon, shutting out all sight of land in that direction. We still, however, kept in sight of the western, or American shore; although, at the distance at which we sailed from it, we could see only a small settlement now and then.

The wind, with some clouds and rain, sprung up from the NNE., and threatened a stormy night; but, as the sun went down, the wind fell, the clouds dispersed, and we had a clear, cool, and beautiful starlight night.  With conversation, and listening to some music on a piano in the saloon, the evening passed off pleasantly.

The sun this morning rose bright and clear, from the pure bosom of the lake, bringing us a fine and pleasant day.

There is no better tasted, or purer drinking-water found in the world, than that found in these lakes – and especially in the upper lakes.  They are, in fact, nothing more than pure fresh-water ocean springs.  Your coolest wells in Washington, the Croton in New York, or Schuylkill of Philadelphia, bear scarcely any comparison to this lake water.  There is one advantage to mariners navigating these inland seas – under no circumstances are they likely to suffer from a scarcity of drinking-water.

About half-past 2 to 3 p.m., we landed at Mackinac; which I found to be one of the most picturesque and beautiful places I have seen since leaving New York.

As I shall have another opportunity of writing to you from this place, I will say no more at present; but remain your very obedient and humble servant,




To be continued in Mackinac and Sault Ste Marie