By Amorin Mello

Early life among the Indians
by Benjamin Green Armstrong
continued from Chapter I.

CHAPTER II

In Washington.—Told to Go Home.—Senator Briggs, of New York.—The Interviews with President Fillmore.—Reversal of the Removal Order.—The Trip Home.—Treaty of 1854 and the Reservations.—The Mile Square.—The Blinding. »

After a fey days more in New York City I had raised the necessary funds to redeem the trinkets pledged with the ‘bus driver and to pay my hotel bills, etc., and on the 22d day of June, 1852, we had the good fortune to arrive in Washington.

Washington Delegation, June 22, 1852
Engraved from an unknown photograph by Marr and Richards Co. for Benjamin Armstrong’s Early Life Among the Indians.  Chief Buffalo, his speaker Oshogay, Vincent Roy, Jr., two other La Pointe Band members, and Armstrong are assumed to be in this engraving.

I took my party to the Metropolitan Hotel and engaged a room on the first floor near the office for the Indians, as they said they did not like to get up to high in a white man’s house. As they required but a couple mattresses for their lodgings they were soon made comfortable. I requested the steward to serve their meals in their room, as I did not wish to take them into the dining room among distinguished people, and their meals were thus served.

Undated postcard of the Metropolitan Hotel, formerly known as Brown’s India Queen Hotel.
~ StreetsOfWashington.com

The morning following our arrival I set out in search of the Interior Department of the Government to find the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, to request an interview with him, which he declined to grant and said :

“I want you to take your Indians away on the next train west, as they have come here without permission, and I do not want to see you or hear of your Indians again.”

I undertook to make explanations, but he would not listen to me and ordered me from his office. I went to the sidewalk completely discouraged, for my present means was insufficient to take them home. I paced up and down the sidewalk pondering over what was best to do, when a gentleman came along and of him I inquired the way to the office of the Secretary of the Interior. He passed right along saying,

Secretary of the Interior
Alexander Hugh Holmes Stuart
~ Department of the Interior

“This way, sir; this way, sir;” and I followed him.

He entered a side door just back of the Indian Commissioner’s office and up a short flight of stairs, and going in behind a railing, divested himself of hat and cane, and said :

“What can I do for you sir.”

I told him who I was, what my party consisted of, where we came from and the object of our visit, as briefly as possible. He replied that I must go and see the Commissioner of Indian Affairs just down stairs. I told him I had been there and the treatment I had received at his hands, then he said :

“Did you have permission to come, and why did you not go to your agent in the west for permission?”

I then attempted to explain that we had been to the agent, but could get no satisfaction; but he stopped me in the middle of my explanation, saying :

“I can do nothing for you. You must go to the Indian Commissioner,”

and turning, began a conversation with his clerk who was there when we went in.

I walked out more discouraged than ever and could not imagine what next I could do. I wandered around the city and to the Capitol, thinking I might find some one I had seen before, but in this I failed and returned to the hotel, where, in the office I found Buffalo surrounded by a crowd who were trying to make him understand them and among them was the steward of the house. On my entering the office and Buffalo recognizing me, the assemblage, seeing I knew him, turned their attention to me, asking who he was, etc., to all of which questions I answered as briefly as possible, by stating that he was the head chief of of the Chippewas of the Northwest. The steward then asked:

“Why don’t you take him into the dining room with you? Certainly such a distinguished man as he, the head of the Chippewa people, should have at least that privilege.”

United States Representative George Briggs
~ Library of Congress

I did so and as we passed into the dining room we were shown to a table in one corner of the room which was unoccupied. We had only been seated a few moments when a couple of gentlemen who had been occupying seats in another part of the dining room came over and sat at our table and said that if there were no objections they would like to talk with us. They asked about the party, where from, the object of the visit, etc. I answered them briefly, supposing them to be reporters and I did not care to give them too much information. One of these gentlemen asked what room we had, saying that himself and one or two others would like to call on us right after dinner. I directed them where to come and said I would be there to meet them.

About 2 o’clock they came, and then for the first time I knew who those gentlemen were. One was Senator Briggs, of New York, and the others were members of President Filmore’s cabinet, and after I had told them more fully what had taken me there, and the difficulties I had met with, and they had consulted a little while aside. Senator Briggs said :

“We will undertake to get you and your people an interview with the President, and will notify you here when a meeting can be arranged. ”

During the afternoon I was notified that an interview had been arranged for the next afternoon at 3 o’clock. During the evening Senator Briggs and other friends called, and the whole matter was talked over and preparations made for the interview the following day, which were continued the next day until the hour set for the interview.

United States President
Millard Fillmore.
~ Library of Congress

When we were assembled Buffalo’s first request was that all be seated, as he had the pipe of peace to present, and hoped that all who were present would partake of smoke from the peace pipe. The pipe, a new one brought for the purpose, was filled and lighted by Buffalo and passed to the President who took two or three draughts from it, and smiling said, “Who is the next?” at which Buffalo pointed out Senator Briggs and desired he should be the next. The Senator smoked and the pipe was passed to me and others, including the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Secretary of the Interior and several others whose names I did not learn or cannot recall. From them, to Buffalo, then to O-sho-ga, and from him to the four braves in turn, which completed that part of the ceremony. The pipe was then taken from the stem and handed to me for safe keeping, never to be used again on any occasion. I have the pipe still in my possession and the instructions of Buffalo have been faithfully kept. The old chief now rose from his seat, the balance following his example and marched in single file to the President and the general hand-shaking that was began with the President was continued by the Indians with all those present. This over Buffalo said his under chief, O-sha-ga, would state the object of our visit and he hoped the great father would give them some guarantee that would quiet the excitement in his country and keep his young men peaceable. After I had this speech thoroughly interpreted, O-sha-ga began and spoke for nearly an hour. He began with the treaty of 1837 and showed plainly what the Indians understood the treaty to be. He next took up the treaty of 1842 and said he did not understand that in either treaty they had ceded away the land and he further understood in both cases that the Indians were never to be asked to remove from the lands included in those treaties, provided they were peaceable and behaved themselves and this they had done. When the order to move came Chief Buffalo sent runners out in all directions to seek for reasons and causes for the order, but all those men returned without finding a single reason among all the Superior and Mississippi Indians why the great father had become displeased. When O-sha-ga had finished his speech I presented the petition I had brought and quickly discovered that the President did recognize some names upon it, which gave me new courage. When the reading and examination of it had been concluded the meeting was adjourned, the President directing the Indian Commissioner to say to the landlord at the hotel that our hotel bills would be paid by the government. He also directed that we were to have the freedom of the city for a week.

Read Biographical Sketch of Vincent Roy, Jr. manuscript for a different perspective on their meeting the President.

The second day following this Senator Briggs informed me that the President desired another interview that day, in accordance with which request we went to the White House soon after dinner and meeting the President, he told the, delegation in a brief speech that he would countermand the removal order and that the annuity payments would be made at La Pointe as before and hoped that in the future there would be no further cause for complaint. At this he handed to Buffalo a written instrument which he said would explain to his people when interpreted the promises he had made as to the removal order and payment of annuities at La Pointe and hoped when he had returned home he would call his chiefs together and have all the statements therein contained explained fully to them as the words of their great father at Washington.

The reader can imagine the great load that was then removed from my shoulders for it was a pleasing termination of the long and tedious struggle I had made in behalf of the untutored but trustworthy savage.

Downtown St. Paul, Minnesota, circa 1857.
~ Minnesota Historical Society

On June 28th, 1852, we started on our return trip, going by cars to La Crosse, Wis., thence by steamboat to St. Paul, thence by Indian trail across the country to Lake Superior. On our way from St. Paul we frequently met bands of Indians of the Chippewa tribe to whom we explained our mission and its results, which caused great rejoicing, and before leaving these bands Buffalo would tell their chief to send a delegation, at the expiration of two moons, to meet him in grand council at La Pointe, for there was many things he wanted to say to them about what he had seen and the nice manner in which he had been received and treated by the great father.

At the time appointed by Buffalo for the grand council at La Pointe, the delegates assembled and the message given Buffalo by President Filmore was interpreted, which gave the Indians great satisfaction. Before the grand council adjourned word was received that their annuities would be given to them at La Pointe about the middle of October, thus giving them time to get together to receive them. A number of messengers was immediately sent out to all parts of the territory to notify them and by the time the goods arrived, which was about October 15th, the remainder of the Indians had congregated at La Pointe. On that date the Indians were enrolled and the annuities paid and the most perfect satisfaction was apparent among all concerned. The jubilee that was held to express their gratitude to the delegation that had secured a countermanding order in the removal matter was almost extravagantly profuse. The letter of the great father was explained to them all during the progress of the annuity payments and Chief Buffalo explained to the convention what he had seen; how the pipe of peace had been smoked in the great father’s wigwam and as that pipe was the only emblem and reminder of their duties yet to come in keeping peace with his white children, he requested that the pipe be retained by me. He then went on and said that there was yet one more treaty to be made with the great father and he hoped in making it they would be more careful and wise than they had heretofore been and reserve a part of their land for themselves and their children. It was here that he told his people that he had selected and adopted, me as his son and that I would hereafter look to treaty matters and see that in the next treaty they did not sell them selves out and become homeless ; that as he was getting old and must soon leave his entire cares to others, he hoped they would listen to me as his confidence in his adopted son was great and that when treaties were presented for them to sign they would listen to me and follow my advice, assuring them that in doing so they would not again be deceived.

Map of Lake Superior Chippewa territories ceded in 1836, 1837, 1842, and 1854.
~ Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission

After this gathering of the Indians there was not much of interest in the Indian country that I can recall until the next annual payment in 1853. This payment was made at La Pointe and the Indians had been notified that commissioners would be appointed to make another treaty with them for the remainder of their territory. This was the territory lying in Minnesota west of Lake Superior; also east and west of the Mississippi river north to the territory belonging to the Boisfort and Pillager tribe, who are a part of the Chippewa nation, but through some arrangement between themselves, were detached from the main or more numerous body. It was at this payment that the Chippewa Indians proper desired to have one dollar each taken from their annuities to recompense me for the trouble and expense I had been to on the trip to Washington in their behalf, but I refused to accept it by reason of their very impecunious condition.

It was sometime in August, 1854, before the commissioners arrived at LaPointe to make the treaty and pay the annuities of that year. Messengers were despatched to notify all Indians of the fact that the great father had sent for them to come to La Pointe to get their money and clothing and to meet the government commissioners who wished to make another treaty with them for the territory lying west of Lake Superior and they were further instructed to have the Indians council among themselves before starting that those who came could be able to tell the wishes of any that might remain away in regards to a further treaty and disposition of their lands. Representatives came from all parts of the Chippewa country and showed a willingness to treat away the balance of their country. Henry C. Gilbert, the Indian agent at La Pointe, formerly of Ohio, and David B. Herriman, the agent for the Chippewas of the Mississippi country, were the commissioners appointed by the government to consumate this treaty.

Mackinac Indian Agent
Henry C. Gilbert
~ Branch County Photographs

While we were waiting the arrival of the interior Indians I had frequent talks with the commissioners and learned what their instructions were and about what they intended to offer for the lands which information I would communicate to Chief Buffalo and other head men in our immediate vicinity, and ample time was had to perfect our plans before the others should arrive, and when they did put in an appearance we were ready to submit to them our views for approval or rejection. Knowing as I did the Indians’ unwillingness to give up and forsake their old burying grounds I would not agree to any proposition that would take away the remainder of their lands without a reserve sufficient to afford them homes for themselves and posterity, and as fast as they arrived I counselled with them upon this subject and to ascertain where they preferred these reserves to be located. The scheme being a new one to them it required time and much talk to get the matter before them in its proper light. Finally it was agreed by all before the meeting of the council that no one would sign a treaty that did not give them reservations at different points of the country that would suit their convenience, that should afterwards be considered their bona-fide home. Maps were drawn of the different tracts that had been selected by the various chiefs for their reserve and permanent home. The reservations were as follows :

One at L’Anse Bay, one at Ontonagon, one at Lac Flambeau, one at Court O’Rilles, one at Bad River, one at Red Cliff or Buffalo Bay, one at Fond du Lac, Minn., and one at Grand Portage, Minn.

Joseph Stoddard (photo c.1941) worked on the 1854 survey of the Bad River Reservation exterior boundaries, and shared a different perspective about these surveys.
~ Bad River Tribal Historic Preservation Office

The boundaries were to be as near as possible by metes and bounds or waterways and courses. This was all agreed to by the Lake Superior Indians before the Mississippi Chippewas arrived and was to be brought up in the general council after they had come in, but when they arrived they were accompanied by the American Fur Company and most of their employees, and we found it impossible to get them to agree to any of our plans or to come to any terms. A proposition was made by Buffalo when all were gathered in council by themselves that as they could not agree as they were, a division should be drawn, dividing the Mississippi and the Lake Superior Indians from each other altogether and each make their own treaty After several days of counselling the proposition was agreed to, and thus the Lake Superiors were left to make their treaty for the lands mouth of Lake Superior to the Mississippi and the Mississippis to make their treaty for the lands west of the Mississippi. The council lasted several days, as I have stated, which was owing to the opposition of the American Fur Company, who were evidently opposed to having any such division made ; they yielded however, but only when they saw further opposition would not avail and the proposition of Buffalo became an Indian law. Our side was now ready to treat with the commissioners in open council. Buffalo, myself and several chiefs called upon them and briefly stated our case but were informed that they had no instructions to make any such treaty with us and were only instructed to buy such territory as the Lake Superiors and Mississippis then owned. Then we told them of the division the Indians had agreed upon and that we would make our own treaty, and after several days they agreed to set us off the reservations as previously asked for and to guarantee that all lands embraced within those boundaries should belong to the Indians and that they would pay them a nominal sum for the remainder of their possessions on the north shores. It was further agreed that the Lake Superior Indians should have two- thirds of all money appropriated for the Chippewas and the Mississippi contingent the other third. The Lake Superior Indians did not seem, through all these councils, to care so much for future annuities either in money or goods as they did for securing a home for themselves and their posterity that should be a permanent one. They also reserved a tract of land embracing about 100 acres lying across and along the Eastern end of La Pointe or Madeline Island so that they would not be cut off from the fishing privilege.

It was about in the midst of the councils leading up to the treaty of 1854 that Buffalo stated to his chiefs that I had rendered them services in the past that should be rewarded by something more substantial than their thanks and good wishes, and that at different times the Indians had agreed to reward me from their annuity money but I had always refused such offers as it would be taking from their necessities and as they had had no annuity money for the two years prior to 1852 they could not well afford to pay me in this way.

“And now,” continued Buffalo, “I have a proposition to make to you. As he has provided us and our children with homes by getting these reservations set off for us, and as we are about to part with all the lands we possess, I have it in my power, with your consent, to provide him with a future home by giving him a piece of ground which we are about to part with. He has agreed to accept this as it will take nothing from us and makes no difference with the great father whether we reserve a small tract of our territory or not, and if you agree I will proceed with him to the head of the lake and there select the piece of ground I desire him to have, that it may appear on paper when the treaty has been completed.”

The chiefs were unanimous in their acceptance of the proposition and told Buffalo to select a large piece that his children might also have a home in future as has been provided for ours.

Kiskitawag (Giishkitawag: “Cut Ear”) signed earlier treaties as a warrior of the Ontonagon Band and became associated with the La Pointe Band at Odanah.
~C.M. Bell, Smithsonian Digital Collections

This council lasted all night and just at break of day the old chief and myself, with four braves to row the boat, set out for the head of Lake Superior and did not stop anywhere only long enough to make and drink some tea, until we reached the head of St. Louis Bay. We landed our canoe by the side of a flat rock quite a distance from the shore, among grass and rushes. Here we ate our lunch and when completed Buffalo and myself, with another chief, Kish-ki-to-uk, waded ashore and ascended the bank to a small level plateau where we could get a better view of the bay. Here Buffalo turned to me, saying: .

“Are you satisfied with this location? I want to reserve the shore of this bay from the mouth of St. Louis river. How far that way do you you want it to go?” pointing southeast, or along the south shore of the lake.

I told him we had better not try to make it too large for if we did the great father’s officers at Washington might throw it out of the treaty and said:

“I will be satisfied with one mile square, and let it start from the rock which we have christened Buffalo rock, running easterly in the direction of Minnesota Point, taking in a mile square immediately northerly from the head of St. Louis Bay”

As there was no other way of describing it than by metes and bounds we tried to so describe it in the treaty, but Agent Gilbert, whether by mistake or not I am unable to say, described it differently. He described it as follows: “Starting from a rock immediately above and adjoining Minnesota Point, etc.”

We spent an hour or two here in looking over the plateau then went back to our canoe and set out for La Pointe. We traveled night and day until we reached home.

During our absence some of the chiefs had been talking more or less with the commissioners and immediately on our return all the Indians met in a grand council when Buffalo explained to them what he had done on the trip and how and where he had selected the piece of land that I was to have reserved in the treaty for my future home and in payment for the services I had rendered them in the past. The balance of the night was spent in preparing ourselves for the meeting with the treaty makers the next day, and about 10 o’clock next morning we were in attendance before the commissioners all prepared for a big council.

Mackinac Indian Agent
Henry Clark Gilbert
~ Branch County Photographs

Agent Gilbert started the business by beginning a speech interpreted by the government interpreter, when Buffalo interrupted him by saying that he did not want anything interpreted to them from the English language by any one except his adoped son for there had always been things told to the Indians in the past that proved afterwards to be untrue, whether wrongly interpreted or not, he could not say;

“and as we now feel that my adopted son interprets to us just what you say, and we can get it correctly, we wish to hear your words repeated by him, and when we talk to you our words can be interpreted by your own interpreter, and in this way one interpreter can watch the other and correct each other should there be mistakes. We do not want to be deceived any more as we have in the past. We now understand that we are selling our lands as well as the timber and that the whole, with the exception of what we shall reserve, goes to the great father forever.”

Bureau of Indian Affairs Director
George Washington Manypenny
~ Commons.Wikimedia.org

Commissioner of Indian affairs. Col. Manypenny, then said to Buffalo:

“What you have said meets my own views exactly and I will now appoint your adopted son your interpreter and John Johnson, of Sault Ste. Marie, shall be the interpreter on the part of the government,” then turning to the commissioners said, “how does that suit you, gentlemen.”

They at once gave their consent and the council proceeded.

Buffalo informed the commissioners of what he had done in regard to selecting a tract of land for me and insisted that it become a part of the treaty and that it should be patented to me directly by the government without any restrictions. Many other questions were debated at this session but no definite agreements were reached and the council was adjourned in the middle of the afternoon. Chief Buffalo asking for the adjournment that he might talk over some matters further with his people, and that night the subject of providing homes for their half-breed relations who lived in different parts of the country was brought up and discussed and all were in favor of making such a provision in the treaty. I proposed to them that as we had made provisions for ourselves and children it would be only fair that an arrangement should be made in the treaty whereby the government should provide for our mixed blood relations by giving to each person the head of a family or to each single person twenty-one years of age a piece of land containing at least eighty acres which would provide homes for those now living and in the future there would be ample room on the reservations for their children, where all could live happily together. We also asked that all teachers and traders in the ceded territory who at that time were located there by license and doing business by authority of law, should each be entitled to 160 acres of land at $1.25 per acre. This was all reduced to writing and when the council met next morning we were prepared to submit all our plans and requests to the commissioners save one, which we required more time to consider. Most of this day was consumed in speech-making by the chiefs and commissioners and in the last speech of the day, which was made by Mr. Gilbert, he said:

“We have talked a great deal and evidently understand one another. You have told us what you want, and now we want time to consider your requests, while you want time as you say to consider another matter, and so we will adjourn until tomorrow and we, with your father. Col. Manypenny, will carefully examine and consider your propositions and when we meet to-morrow we will be prepared to answer you with an approval or rejection.”

Julius Austrian purchased the village of La Pointe and other interests from the American Fur Company in 1853.  He entered his Town Plan of La Pointe on August 29th of 1854. He was the highest paid claimant of the 1854 Treaty at La Pointe.  His family hosted the 1855 Annuity Payments at La Pointe.
~ Photograph of Austrian from the Madeline Island Museum

That evening the chiefs considered the other matter, which was to provide for the payment of the debts of the Indians owing the American Fur Company and other traders and agreed that the entire debt could not be more than $90,000 and that that amount should be taken from the Indians in bulk and divided up among their creditors in a pro-rata manner according to the amount due to any person or firm, and that this should wipe out their indebtedness. The American Fur Company had filed claims which, in the aggregate, amounted to two or three times this sum and were at the council heavily armed for the purpose of enforcing their claim by intimidation. This and the next day were spent in speeches pro and con but nothing was effected toward a final settlement.

Col. Manypenny came to my store and we had a long private interview relating to the treaty then under consideration and he thought that the demands of the Indians were reasonable and just and that they would be accepted by the commissioners. He also gave me considerable credit for the manner in which I had conducted the matter for Indians, considering the terrible opposition I had to contend with. He said he had claims in his possession which had been filed by the traders that amounted to a large sum but did not state the amount. As he saw the Indians had every confidence in me and their demands were reasonable he could see no reason why the treaty could not be speedily brought to a close. He then asked if I kept a set of books. I told him I only kept a day book or blotter showing the amount each Indian owed me. I got the books and told him to take them along with him and that he or his interpreter might question any Indian whose name appeared thereon as being indebted to me and I would accept whatever that Indian said he owed me whether it be one dollar or ten cents. He said he would be pleased to take the books along and I wrapped them up and went with him to his office, where I left them. He said he was certain that some traders were making claims for far more than was due them. Messrs. Gilbert and Herriman and their chief clerk, Mr. Smith, were present when Mr. Manypenny related the talk he had with me at the store. He considered the requests of the Indians fair and just, he said, and he hoped there would be no further delays in concluding the treaty and if it was drawn up and signed with the stipulations and agreements that were now understood should be incorporated in it, he would strongly recommend its ratification by the President and senate.

Naagaanab of Fond Du Lac
~ Minnesota Historical Society

The day following the council was opened by a speech from Chief Na-gon-ab in which he cited considerable history.

“My friends,” he said, “I have been chosen by our chief, Buffalo, to speak to you. Our wishes are now on paper before you. Before this it was not so. We have been many times deceived. We had no one to look out for us. The great father’s officers made marks on paper with black liquor and quill. The Indian can not do this. We depend upon our memory. We have nothing else to look to. We talk often together and keep your words clear in our minds. When you talk we all listen, then we talk it over many times. In this way it is always fresh with us. This is the way we must keep our record. In 1837 we were asked to sell our timber and minerals. In 1842 we were asked to do the same. Our white brothers told us the great father did not want the land. We should keep it to hunt on. Bye and bye we were told to go away; to go and leave our friends that were buried yesterday. Then we asked each other what it meant. Does the great father tell the truth? Does he keep his promises? We cannot help ourselves! We try to do as we agree in treaty. We ask you what this means? You do not tell from memory! You go to your black marks and say this is what those men put down; this is what they said when they made the treaty. The men we talk with don’t come back; they do not come and you tell us they did not tell us so! We ask you where they are? You say you do not know or that they are dead and gone. This is what they told you; this is what they done. Now we have a friend who can make black marks on paper When the council is over he will tell us what we have done. We know now what we are doing! If we get what we ask our chiefs will touch the pen, but if not we will not touch it. I am told by our chief to tell you this: We will not touch the pen unless our friend says the paper is all right.”

Na-gon-ab was answered by Commissioner Gilbert, saying:

“You have submitted through your friend and interpreter the terms and conditions upon which you will cede away your lands. We have not had time to give them all consideration and want a little more time as we did not know last night what your last proposition would be. Your father. Col. Manypenny, has ordered some beef cattle killed and a supply of provisions will be issued to you right away. You can now return to your lodges and get a good dinner and talk matters over among yourselves the remainder of the day and I hope you will come back tomorrow feeling good natured and happy, for your father, Col. Manypenny, will have something to say to you and will have a paper which your friend can read and explain to you.”

When the council met next day in front of the commissioners’ office to hear what Col. Manypenny had to say a general good feeling prevailed and a hand-shaking all round preceded the council, which Col. Manypenny opened by saying:

“My friends and children: I am glad to see you all this morning looking good natured and happy and as if you could sit here and listen to what I have to say. We have a paper here for your friend to examine to see if it meets your approval. Myself and the commissioners which your great father has sent here have duly considered all your requests and have concluded to accept them. As the season is passing away and we are all anxious to go to our families and you to your homes, I hope when you read this treaty you will find it as you expect to and according to the understandings we have had during the council. Now your friend may examine the paper and while he is doing so we will take a recess until afternoon.”

Detail of Benjamin Armstrong from a photograph by Matthew Brady
~ Minnesota Historical Society

Chief Buffalo, turning to me, said:

“My son, we, the chiefs of all the country, have placed this matter entirely in your hands. Go and examine the paper and if it suits you it will suit us.”

Then turning to the chiefs, he asked,

“what do you all say to that?”

The ho-ho that followed showed the entire circle were satisfied.

I went carefully through the treaty as it had been prepared and with a few exceptions found it was right. I called the attention of the commissioners to certain parts of the stipulations that were incorrect and they directed the clerk to make the changes.

The following day the Indians told the commissioners that as their friend had made objections to the treaty as it was they requested that I might again examine it before proceeding further with the council. On this examination I found that changes had been made but on sheets of paper not attached to the body of the instrument, and as these sheets contained some of the most important items in the treaty, I again objected and told the commissioners that I would not allow the Indians to sign it in that shape and not until the whole treaty was re-written and the detached portions appeared in their proper places. I walked out and told the Indians that the treaty was not yet ready to sign and they gave up all further endeavors until next day. I met the commissioners alone in their office that afternoon and explained the objectionable points in the treaty and told them the Indians were already to sign as soon as those objections were removed. They were soon at work putting the instrument in shape.

“One version of the boundaries for Chief Buffalo’s reservation is shown at the base of Minnesota Point in a detail from an 1857 map preserved in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Other maps show a larger and more irregularly shaped versions of the reservation boundary, though centered on the same area.”
~ DuluthStories.net

The next day when the Indians assembled they were told by the commissioners that all was ready and the treaty was laid upon a table and I found it just as the Indians had wanted it to be, except the description of the mile square. The part relating to the mile square that was to have been reserved for me read as follows:

“Chief Buffalo, being desirous of providing for some of his relatives who had rendered them important services, it is agreed that he may select one mile square of the ceded territory heretofore described.”

“Now,” said the commissioner,

“we want Buffalo to designate the person or persons to whom he wishes the patents to issue.”

Buffalo then said:

“I want them to be made out in the name of my adopted son.”

This closed all ceremony and the treaty was duly signed on the 30th day of September, 1854. This done the commissioners took a farewell shake of the hand with all the chiefs, hoping to meet them again at the annuity payment the coming year. They then boarded the steamer North Star for home. In the course of a few days the Indians also disappeared, some to their interior homes and some to their winter hunting grounds and a general quiet prevailed on the island.

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

About the second week in October, 1854, I went from La Pointe to Ontonagon in an open boat for the purpose of purchasing my winter supplies as it had got too late to depend on getting them from further below. While there a company was formed for the purpose of going into the newly ceded territory to make claims upon lands that would be subject to entry as soon as the late treaty should be ratified. The company consisted of Samuel McWaid, William Whitesides, W. W. Kingsbury, John Johnson, Oliver Melzer, John McFarland, Daniel S. Cash, W. W. Spaulding, all of Ontonagon, and myself. The two last named gentlemen, Daniel S. Cash and W. W. Spaulding, agreeing to furnish the company with supplies and all necessaries, including money, to enter the lands for an equal interest and it was so stipulated that we were to share equally in all that we, or either of us, might obtain. As soon as the supplies could be purchased and put aboard the schooner Algonquin we started for the head of the lake, stopping at La Pointe long enough for me to get my family aboard and my business matters arranged for the winter. I left my store at La Pointe in charge of Alex. Nevaux, and we all sailed for the head of Lake Superior, the site of which is now the city of Duluth. Reaching there about the first week in December—the bay of Superior being closed by ice—we were compelled to make our landing at Minnesota Point and take our goods from there to the main land on the north’ shore in open boats, landing about one and-one half miles east of Minnesota Point at a place where I desired to make a preemption for myself and to establish a trading post for the winter. Here I erected a building large enough for all of us to live in, as we expected to make this our headquarters for the winter, and also a building for a trading post. The other members of the company made claims in other places, but I did no more land looking that winter.

Detail of Superior City townsite at the head of Lake Superior from the 1854 U.S. General Land Office survey by Stuntz and Barber.

About January 20th, 1855, I left my place at the head of the lake to go back to La Pointe and took with me what furs I had collected up to that time, as I had a good place at La Pointe to dry and keep them. I took four men along to help me through and two dog trains. As we were passing down Superior Bay and when just in front of the village of West Superior a man came to us on the ice carrying a small bundle on his back and asked me if I had any objections to his going through in my company. He said the snow was deep and the weather cold and it was bad for one man to travel alone. I told him I had no objections provided he would take his turn with the other men in breaking the road for the dogs. We all went on together and camped that night at a place well known as Flag River. We made preparations for a cold night as the thermometer must have been twenty-five or thirty degrees below zero and the snow fully two feet deep. As there were enough of us we cut and carried up a large quantity of wood, both green and dry, and shoveled the snow away to the ground with our snow shoes and built a large fire. We then cut evergreen boughs and made a wind break or bough camp and concluded we could put in a very comfortable night. We then cooked and ate our supper and all seemed happy. I unrolled a bale of bear skins and spread them out on the ground for my bed, filled my pipe and lay down to rest while the five men with me were talking and smoking around the camp fire. I was very tired and presume I was not long in falling asleep. How long I slept I cannot tell, but was awakened by something dropping into my face, which felt like a powdered substance. I sprang to my feet for I found something had got into my eyes and was smarting them badly. I rushed for the snow bank that was melting from the heat and applied handful after handful to my eyes and face. I found the application was peeling the skin off my face and the pain soon became intense. I woke up the crew and they saw by the firelight the terrible condition I was in. In an hour’s time my eyeballs were so swollen that I could not close the lids and the pain did not abate. I could do nothing more than bathe my eyes until morning, which I did with tea-grounds. It seemed an age before morning came and when it did come I could not realize it, for I was totally blind. The party started with me at early dawn for La Pointe. The man who joined us the day before went no further, but returned to Superior, which was a great surprise to the men of our party, who frequently during the day would say:

“There is something about this matter that is not right,”

and I never could learn afterward of his having communicated the fact of my accident to any one or to assign any reason or excuse for turning back, which caused us to suspect that he had a hand in the blinding, but as I could get no proof to establish that suspicion, I could do nothing in the matter. This man was found dead in his cabin a few months afterwards.

At La Pointe I got such treatment as could be procured from the Indians which allayed the inflamation but did not restore the sight. I remained at La Pointe about ten days, and then returned home with dog train to my family, where I remained the balance of the winter, when not at Superior for treatment. When the ice moved from the lake in the spring I abandoned everything there and returned to La Pointe and was blind or nearly so until the winter of 1861.

Returning a little time to the north shore I wish to relate an incident of the death of one of our Ontonagon company. Two or three days after I had reached home from La Pointe, finding my eyes constantly growing worse I had the company take me to Superior where I could get treatment. Dr. Marcellus, son of Prof. Marcellus, of an eye infirmary in Philadelphia, who had just then married a beautiful young wife, and come west to seek his fortune, was engaged to treat me. I was taken to the boarding house of Henry Wolcott, where I engaged rooms for the winter as I expected to remain there until spring. I related to the doctor what had befallen me and he began treatment. At times I felt much better but no permanent relief seemed near. About the middle February my family required my presence at home, as there was some business to be attended to which they did not understand. My wife sent a note to me by Mr. Melzer, stating that it was necessary for me to return, and as the weather that day was very pleasant, she hoped that I would come that afternoon. Mr. Melzer delivered me the note, which I requested him to read. It was then 11 a. m. and I told him we would start right after dinner, and requested him to tell the doctor that I wished to see him right away, and then return and get his dinner, as it would be ready at noon, to which he replied:

“If I am not here do not wait for me, but I will be here at the time you are ready for home.”

Mr. Melzer did return shortly after we had finished our dinner and I requested him to eat, as I would not be ready to start for half an hour, but he insisted he was not hungry. We had no conveyance and at 1 p. m. we set out for home. We went down a few steps to the ice, as Mr. Wolcott’s house stood close to the shore of the bay, and went straight across Superior Bay to Minnesota Point, and across the point six or eight rods and struck the ice on Lake Superior. A plain, hard beaten road led from here direct to my home. After we had proceeded about 150 yards, following this hard beaten road, Melzer at once stopped and requested me to go ahead, as I could follow the beaten road without assistance, the snow being deep on either side.

“Now,” he says go ahead, for I must go back after a drink.”

I followed the road quite well, and when near the house my folks came out to meet me, their first inquiry being:

“Where is Melzer?”

I told them the circumstances of his turning back for a drink of water. Reaching the bank on which my house stood, some of my folks, looking back over the road I had come, discovered a dark object apparently floundering on the ice. Two or three of our men started for the spot and there found the dead body of poor Melzer. We immediately notified parties in Superior of the circumstances and ordered a post-mortem examination of the body. The doctors found that his stomach was entirely empty and mostly gone from the effects of whisky and was no thicker than tissue paper and that his heart had burst into three pieces. We gave him a decent burial at Superior and peace to his ashes, His last act of kindness was in my behalf.

To be continued in Chapter III

By Amorin Mello

 

This is one of many posts on Chequamegon History that feature the $90,000 of Indian trader debts that were debated during the 1854 Treaty and the 1855 Annuity Payments at La Pointe. 

In summary, the Chiefs of the Chippewas made it a condition of the treaty that they would be granted $90,000 to settle outstanding debts with Indian traders, under the condition that a Council of Chiefs would determine which debts claimed by the traders were fair and accurate.  The following quote is the fourth article of the 1854 Treaty of La Pointe, with the sentence about the $90,000 underlined for emphasis:

ARTICLE 4. In consideration of and payment for the country hereby ceded, the United States agree to pay to the Chippewas of Lake Superior, annually, for the term of twenty years, the following sums, to wit: five thousand dollars in coin; eight thousand dollars in goods, household furniture and cooking utensils; three thousand dollars in agricultural implements and cattle, carpenter’s and other tools and building materials, and three thousand dollars for moral and educational purposes, of which last sum, three hundred dollars per annum shall be paid to the Grand Portage band, to enable them to maintain a school at their village. The United States will also pay the further sum of ninety thousand dollars, as the chiefs in open council may direct, to enable them to meet their present just engagements. Also the further sum of six thousand dollars, in agricultural implements, household furniture, and cooking utensils, to be distributed at the next annuity payment, among the mixed bloods of said nation. The United States will also furnish two hundred guns, one hundred rifles, five hundred beaver traps, three hundred dollars’ worth of ammunition, and one thousand dollars’ worth of ready made clothing, to be distributed among the young men of the nation, at the next annuity payment.

~ 1854 Treaty with the Chippewa at La Pointe
Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties; Volume II by Charles Kappler, 1904

 

This $90,000 appear to have been an unexpected expense that the United States government incurred in order to successfully negotiate this Treaty.  Indian Agent Henry Clark Gilbert was a commissioner of the Treaty, and was obliged to explain this $90,000 to his superiors at the Office of Indian Affairs in Washington D.C.  The following is his explanation written a few weeks after the 1854 Treaty of La Pointe was concluded:

The Chiefs who were notified to attend brought with them in every instance their entire bands. We made a careful estimate of the number present and found there were about 4,000. They all had to be fed and taken care of, thus adding greatly to the expenses attending the negotiations.

A great number of traders and claim agents were also present as well as some of the persons from St. Paul’s who I had reason to believe attended for the purpose of preventing if possible the consummation of the treaty. The utmost precautions were taken by me to prevent a knowledge of the fact that negotiations were to take place from being public. The Messenger sent by me to Mr Herriman was not only trust worthy but was himself totally ignorant of the purport of the dispatches to Major Herriman. Information however of the fact was communicated from some source and the persons present in consequence greatly embarrassed our proceedings.

~ Treaty Commissioner Henry C. Gilbert’s explanation of the treaty concluded in 1854 with the assistance of David B. Herriman
Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters: Volume 79, No. 1, Appendix 5

 

Indian Agent Gilbert’s explanation suggests that there was some effort on his behalf to preemptively avoid the subject of outstanding debts from occuring during the Treaty negotiations.  In January of 1855, a few months after the Treaty was negotiated, President Franklin Pierce budgeted for this $90,000 in the fund appropriated for fulfilling the terms of the Treaty:

For the payment of such debts as may be directed by the chiefs in open council, and found to be just and correct by the Secretary of the Interior, per 4th article of the treaty of September 30, 1854…….. 90,000

~ United States House of Representatives Documents, Volume 11, 33d Congress, 2nd Session, Ex. Doc. No. 61.
1854 Treaty of La Pointe Appropriations

 

As quoted above, the $90,000 negotiated during the treaty were to be distributed by a Council of the Chiefs following the treaty.  How the $90,000 were actually distributed did not honor the intent or terms of the treaty.   The following is a public notice from Indian Agent Gilbert that invited Indian traders with claims against Tribe to come forth with their claims before or during the 1855 Annuity, and makes no mention of any distribution to be determined by a Council of Chiefs:

PUBLIC NOTICE.
OFFICE MICHIGAN INDIAN AGENT,
DETROIT, June 12, 1855.

ALL PERSONS having just and legal claims against the Chippewa Indians of Lake Superior are hereby notified that all such claims must be presented without delay to the undersigned, for investigation. Each claim must be accompanied by such evidence of its justice and legality as the claimant may be able to furnish; and in all cases where the idebtedness claimed is on book account, or is composed of aggregated items, transcripts of such accounts specifying the items in detail, with the charge for each item, and the name of the person to whom, and time when, the same was furnished, must accompany the claims submitted. The original books of entry must also in all cases be prepared for examination.

Claims may be presented at any time prior to the close of the next annuity payment at La Pointe, which will take place in the month of August next; but after that time they will not be received or acted upon.

This notice is given in accordance with instructions received from the United States Commissioner of Indian Affairs.

HENRY C. GILBERT.
Indian Agent.
jy 10 4t

~ Superior Chronicle newspaper, July 10th, 1855
Library of Congress

 

The distribution of this $90,000 was hotly debated by Blackbird and other members of the Council of Chiefs during the 1855 Annuity Payments.  It is clear from the speeches transcribed from this important event that the Council was not being allowed to determine the distribution of this $90,000.  The following is one of many speeches that touched upon this subject:

In what Blackbird said he expressed the mind of a majority of the chiefs now present.  We wish the stipulations of the treaty to be carried out to the very letter.

I wish to say our word about our reserves.  Will these reserves made for each of our bands, be our homes forever?

When we took credits of our trader last winter, and took no furs to pay him, and wish to get hold of this 90,000 dollars, that we may pay him off of that.  This is all we came here for.  We want the money in our own hands & we will pay our own traders.  We do not think it is right to pay what we do not owe.  I always know how I stand my acct. and we can pay our own debts.  From what I have now said I do not want you to think that we want the money to cheat our creditors, but to do justice to them I owe.  I have my trader & know how much I owe him, & if the money is paid into the hands of the Indians we can pay our own debts.

~ Adikoons, Chief of Grand Portage Band
(Wheeler to Smith, 18 Jan. 1856)
Blackbird’s Speech at the 1855 Payment

 

With the above quotes as an introduction to this subject, we will now investigate what exactly happened to the $90,000 to be disbursed as “directed by the chiefs in open council”.  What we have found so far appears to suggest that the federal government did not honor their Trust responsibility to the Tribe:

 


 

Senate Documents, Volume 112

U.S. Government Printing Office, 1858

 

 

[Page 295 of audit]

Indian Disbursements

Statement containing a list of the names of all persons to whom goods, money, or effects have been delivered, from July 1, 1856, to June 30, 1857, specifying the amounts and objects for which they were intended, the amount accounted for, and the balances under each specified head still remaining in their hands; prepared in obedience to an act of Congress of June 30, 1834, entitled “An act to provide for the organization of the department of Indian affairs.”

 

[Pages 303-305 of audit]

Fulfilling treaties with Chippewas of Lake Superior, September 30, 1854

When issued To whom issued. For what purpose. Amount of requisition. Am’t accounted for.
Amount unaccounted for.
1856
July 3 John B. Jacobs Fulfilling Treaties, (due) $1,718.73 $1,718.73
22 Henry C. Gilbert …do… $7,000.00 $7,000.00
Do …do… $5,000.00 $5,000.00
Aug. 14 Henry E. Leman …do…(due)… $1,412.50 $1,412.50
18 Ramsey Crooks …do…do… $6,617.64 $6,617.64
Adam Noongoo …do…do… $66.00 $66.00
Wm. Parsons …do…do… $28.50 $28.50
Erwin Leiky …do…do… $119.75 $119.75
Robert Morrin …do…do… $163.56 $163.56
Charles Bellisle …do…do… $191.00 $191.00
Posh-qway-gin …do…do… $47.88 $47.88
22 W. A. Pratt …do…do… $50.00 $50.00
John G. Kittson …do…do… $1,280.93 $1,280.93
Asaph Whittlesey …do…do… $25.00 $25.00
Louis Bosquet …do…do… $72.00 $72.00
David King …do…do… $100.00 $100.00
P. O. Johnson …do…do… $10.12 $10.12
Henry Elliott …do…do… $399.02 $399.02
McCullough & Elliott …do…do… $475.78 $475.78
Edward Assinsece …do…do… $50.00 $50.00
John Southwind …do…do… $21.00 $21.00
Kay-kake …do…do… $35.00 $35.00
Goff & Co. …do…do… $556.21 $556.21
Jame Halliday …do…do… $67.88 $67.88
Peter Crebassa …do…do… $1,013.99 $1,013.99
S. L. Vaugh …do…do… $57.08 $57.08
David King …do…do… $191.72 $191.72
Peter B. Barbean …do…do… $1,200.00 $1,200.00
23 Antoine Gaudine …do…do… $3,250.94 $3,250.94
Peter Markman …do…do… $300.00 $300.00
Pat L. Philan …do…do… $90.08 $90.08
Treasurer of township of Lapointe …do…do… $224.77 $224.77
Michael Bosquet …do…do… $219.63 $219.63
James Ermatinger …do…do… $2,000.00 $2,000.00
Louison Demaris …do…do… $2,000.00 $2,000.00
Joseph Morrison …do…do… $250.00 $250.00
John W. Bell …do…do… $253.11 $253.11
27 Paul H. Beaubien …do…do… $600.00 $600.00
R. Sheldon & Co. …do…do… $1,124.71 $1,124.71
Abraham Place …do…do… $450.00 $450.00
Michael James …do…do… $195.00 $195.00
R. J. Graveract …do…do… $269.19 $269.19
Reuben Chapman …do…do… $71.11 $71.11
Miller Wood …do…do… $38.50 $38.50
Robert Reed …do…do… $21.60 $21.60
Louis Gurno …do…do… $179.00 $179.00
Gregory S. Bedel …do…do… $142.63 $142.63
Geo. R. Stuntz …do…do… $537.41 $537.41
Usop & Hoops …do…do… $49.43 $49.43
May-yan-wash …do…do… $45.50 $45.50
John Hartley …do…do… $41.01 $41.01
B. F. Rathbun …do…do… $8.07 $8.07
W. W. Spaulding …do…do… $258.92 $258.92
Stephen Bonge …do…do… $40.00 $40.00
Abel Hall …do…do… $160.00 $160.00
Louis Cadotte …do…do… $200.00 $200.00
John Senter & Co. …do…do… $17.00 $17.00
John B. Roy …do…do… $150.00 $150.00
L. Y. B. Birchard …do…do… $26.00 $26.00
Peter Roy …do…do… $250.00 $250.00
Jacob F. Shaffer …do…do… $150.00 $150.00
Peter Vandeventer …do…do… $216.31 $216.31
Sept. 4 John Hotley, jr. …do…do… $538.48 $538.48
G. B. Armstrong …do…do… $950.00 $950.00
Lathrop Johnson …do…do… $376.00 $376.00
6 Wm. Mathews …do…do… $1,741.50 $1,741.50
Cronin, Hurxthal & Sears …do…do… $4,583.77 $4,583.77
13 Henry C. Gilbert …do… $12,500.00
24 B. W. Brisbois …do…(due)… $4,000.00 $4,000.00
27 John Brunet …do…do… $2,000.00 $2,000.00
John B. Roy …do…do… $80.00 $80.00
Edward Connor …do…do… $600.00 $600.00
Alexis Corbin …do…do… $1,000.00 $1,000.00
Louis Corbin …do…do… $1,108.47 $1,108.47
Vincent Roy …do…do… $645.36 $645.36
Abner Sherman …do…do… $568.00 $568.00
John B. Landry …do…do… $502.64 $502.64
Thomas Conner …do…do… $1,050.00 $1,050.00
Augustus Corbin …do…do… $238.50 $238.50
Julius Austrain …do…do… $6,000.00 $6,000.00
Do… …do…do… $1,876.86 $1,876.86
John B. Corbin …do…do… $750.00 $750.00
Cruttenden & Lynde …do…do… $1,300.00 $1,300.00
Orrin W. Rice …do…do… $358.09 $358.09
Francis Ronissaie …do…do… $817.74 $817.74
Dec. 6 W. G. and G. W. Ewing …do…do… $787.02 $787.02
1857
Jan. 2 Henry C. Gilbert …do… $674.73 $674.73
Feb 21 Do …do… $8,133.33 $8,133.33
24 John B. Cadotte …do…(due)… $1,265.00 $1,265.00
Cruttenden & Lynde …do…do… $1,615.00 $1,615.00
J. B. Landry …do…do… $560.00 $560.00
P. Chouteau, jr., & Co. …do…do… $935.00 $935.00
Vincent Roy …do…do… $5,000.00 $5,000.00
Northern Fur Company …do…do… $625.00 $625.00
J. B. Landry …do…do… $90.00 $90.00
$105,071.70 $84,363.64 $20,708.06

 


 

Many of the Indian traders listed above make regular appearances in other primary documents of Chequamegon History.  Some of the names are misspelled but still recognizable to regular readers.  In summary let’s take a closer look at the top ten Indian traders that received the most disbursements related to the 1854 Treaty of La Pointe:

 

9½.)  James Ermatinger

$2,000.00

James Ermatinger was involved with the American Fur Company in earlier years.  He seems to have become an independent Indian trader in later years leading up to the 1854 Treaty:

James founded Jim Falls, Wis., arriving by canoe from La Pointe, Wis. where he was involved in fur trading. He settled in Jim Falls, initially managing a trading post there for the American Fur Company. Others in the Ermatinger family were prominent fur traders in Canada, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and Wisconsin.

~ Ermatinger family papers, 1833-1979

 

9½.)  Louison Demaris

$2,000.00

According to Theresa Schenck’s research in her book All Our Relations, Louison Demarais may have been a son of Jean Baptiste Demarais who was an interpreter for Alexander Henry the Younger’s North West Company on the Red River:

Louison Desmarais residing at Chippewa River a ½ breed Chippewa 50 yrs of age born at Pembina and remained in the North until 9 years back when he came to Chippewa river where he has resided since claims for himself and wfie Angelique a ½ breed, 35 yrs of age born at Fond du Lac where she remained until she was married 23 years since when she went to the North with her husband and has since lived with him.

~ 1839 Mixed Blood Census
All Our Relations by Theresa M. Schenck, 2010, page 60

 

8.)  Cruttenden & Lynde

$1,615.00 + $1,300.00 = $2,915.00

“Here lie the remains of Hon. J. W. Lynde Killed by Sioux Indians Aug. 18.1862″
~ Findagrave.com

James William Lynde was an Indian Agent, Senator, and first casualty of 1862 Sioux Uprising.  Mr. Lynde was also a signatory of the 1854 Treaty, which may be a conflict of interest:

Hon. James W. Lynd was a native of Baltimore, born in 1830, but was reared and educated at Cincinnati. He had received a college education at Woodward College, having attended from 1842 – 1844. He was a man of accomplishments and ability. He thoroughly mastered the Indian language, married successively two Indian wives, and spent years in the study of the history and general character of the Sioux or Dakota tribe. For some time prior to his death he had been engaged in revising for publication the manuscript of an elaborate work containing the results of his studies and researches. Under the circumstances the greater part of this manuscript was lost. He was a young man, of versatile talents had been an editor, lecturer, public speaker, and was a member of the Minnesota State Senate in 1861.

~ Sketches: Historical and Descriptive of the Monuments and Tablets Erected by the Minnesota Valley Historical Society in Renville and Redwood Counties, Minnesota by the Minnesota Valley Historical Society, 1902, page 6

 

Joel D. Cruttenden was Mr. Lynch’s business partner:

Col. Cruttenden, of whom I have spoken briefly in another place, left St. Louis in 1846 and removed to Prairie du Chien, where he was employed by Brisbois & Rice. In 1848 he came to ST. PAUL and remained up to 1850, when he took up his residence in St. Anthony and engaged in business with R. P. Russel. He then went to Crow Wing and was connected with Maj. J. W. Lynde. In 1857 he was elected to the House of Representatives, and on the breaking out of the war was commissioned Captain Assistant Quartermaster; was taken prisoner, and on being exchanged rose to the rank of Colonel. At the close of the war he was honorably discharged, and soon after removed to Bayfield, Wisconsin, where he has held many offices and is greatly esteemed. He is a pleasant, genial gentleman, well known and well liked.

~ Pen Pictures of St. Paul, Minnesota, and Biographical Sketches of Old Settlers: Volume 1, by Thomas McLean Newson, 1886, page 95

 

7.)  Antoine Gaudine

$3,250.94

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

Antoine Gaudine (a.k.a. Gordon) as one of those larger-than-life mixed-blood members of the La Pointe Band leading up to the 1854 Treaty and beyond:

Mr Gordon was the founder of the village of Gordon and for years had a trading post there which was the only store there. It is but a few years since he discontinued this store. He was a full-blooded Chippewa Indian, and came here from Madelaine Island, where he ran a post years ago. He was formerly the owner of the famous Algonquin, the first ship to come through the Soo locks, and used her in the lumber trade.

~ Eau Claire Leader newspaper, May 8, 1907

 

 

6.)  B. W. Brisbois

$4,000.00

Bernard Walter Brisbois was a son of Michael Brisbois, Sr.:

Bernard Brisbois was born in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, in 1808, to Michel Brisbois, a French-Canadian voyageur, and his second wife Domitelle (Madelaine) Gautier de Verville.

Like his father, Brisbois also began his career in the fur trade, working as agent for the American Fur Company. Bernard married Therese LaChappelle [daughter of metis Pélagie LaPointe (herself the daughter of Pierre LaPointe and Etoukasahwee) and Antoine LaChapelle]. Later he engaged in the mercantile business in Prairie du Chien until 1873 when he was appointed consul at Verviers, Belgium. He returned to Prairie du Chien in 1874 and lived there until his death in 1885.

~ Wikipedia.org

 

5.)  Cronin, Hurxthal & Sears

$4,583.77

Advertisement of Cronin, Hurxthal & Sears
~ The Prairie News (Okolona, Miss.), April 15, 1858, page 4

According to a receipt from this company, the partners behind this firm were John B. Cronin, Ben. Hurxthal and J. Newton Sears.  No further biographical information could be found about these individuals, who are presumed to have been New York City businessmen.  In general they appear to have been involved with trades associated with slavery and Indians.  Per their advertisement, they were the successors to the firm of Grant and Barton:

Grant and Barton nevertheless remained active in the [Texas] region, winning government contracts to supply the Bureau of Indian affairs with “blankets and dry goods” in the late 1840s and early 1850s…

The Business of Slavery and the Rise of American Capitalism, 1815-1860, by Calvin Schermerhorn, 2015, page 225

 

4.) Vincent Roy

$5,000.00 + $645.36 = $5,645.36

Vincent Roy, Jr. (III)
~ Life and Labors of Rt. Rev. Frederic Baraga, by Chrysostom Verwyst, 1900, pages 472-476

Vincent Roy, Sr. (II) and his son Vincent Roy, Jr. (III) were prominent members of the La Pointe Band mixed-bloods.  Sr. was recognized by Gilbert as the Head of the Mixed Bloods of the La Pointe Band of Lake Superior Chippewas.  Jr. was allegedly an interpreter at the 1854 Treaty, but is not identified in the Treaty itself and cannot find primary source.  Jr. is described as a skilled trader in many sources, including this one:

“Leopold and Austrian (Jews) doing a general merchandize and fur-trading business at LaPointe were not slow in recognizing ‘their man.’  Having given employment to Peter Roy, who by this time quit going to school, they also, within the first year of his arrival at this place, employed Vincent to serve as handy-man for all kind of things, but especially, to be near when indians from the woods were coming to trade, which was no infrequent occurrence.  After serving in that capacity about two years, and having married, he managed (from 1848 to 1852) a trading post for the same Leopold and Austrian; at first a season at Fond du Lac, Minn., then at Vermillion Lake, and finally again at Fond du Lac.” 

Miscellaneous materials related to Vincent Roy, 1861-1862, 1892, 1921

 

3.)  R. Crooks

$6,617.64

Ramsay Crooks
~ Madeline Island Museum

Ramsey Crooks enjoyed a long history with the American Fur Company outfit at La Pointe in the decades leading up to the 1854 Treaty:

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

~ Milwaukee County Historical Society

 

2.)  J. Austrian

$ 6,000.00 + $1,876.86 = $7,876.86

Julius Austrian
~ Madeline Island Museum

Julius Austrian was competitor and successor of the American Fur Company during the decade immediately leading up to the 1854 Treaty.  Chequamegon History’s research has explored the previously uncovered circumstances of Austrian’s purchase of the Village of La Pointe from American Fur Company in 1853, being the unnamed and de facto host of the 1854 Treaty of La Pointe, being the host of the 1855 Annuities at La Pointe, and the host of the 1855 High Holy Days at La Pointe:

In 1855 a number of Jewish Indian traders met on an island in Lake Superior in the frontier village of La Pointe, Wisconsin.  The Indians were assembled there to collect their annuities and the Jews were present to dun their debtors before they dispersed.  There were enough Jews for a minyan and a service was held.  That was the beginning and the end of La Pointe Jewry.

United States Jewry 1776-1985: Vol. 2; the Germanic Period, Part 1 by Jacob Rader Marcus Wayne State University Press , 1991, page 196

 

1.) Henry C. Gilbert

$0.00 ?

Henry Clark Gilbert
~ Branch County Photographs

Mackinac Indian Agent Henry Clark Gilbert was the Commissioner of the 1854 Treaty of La Pointe along with David B. Herriman. 

Gilbert submitted requisitions for $5,000.00, $7,000.00, $12,500.00, $674.73, and $8,133.33; which is a total amount of $33,308.06.  The amount accounted for in his name is $0.00, but his total amount unaccounted for is $20,808.06.  The difference between the total amount Gilbert requisitioned and his total amount unaccounted for is $12,500, which is the same amount that Gilbert requisitioned for on September 4th, 1856.

A closer look at all of the 1854 Treaty accounts as a whole suggests that Gilbert was paid his $12,500.00 despite what is shown on paper.  The total amount accounted for is actually $71,763.64; which is $12,600.00 less than the total amount on paper.  The total amount unaccounted for is $20,808.06; which is $100 greater than the total amount on paper (all of which was in Gilbert’s name).  We are left with a puzzle missing some pieces.  Did Gilbert obtain his $12,500.00 fraudulently?  Was the extra $100 accounted for taken from the unaccounted amounts by someone else as a bribe?

Did Gilbert abuse his Trust responsibility to the 1854 Treaty of La Pointe?  Or was this simply a case of sloppy reporting by a federal clerk?

By Amorin Mello

The Ashland Weekly Press became the Ashland Daily Press.

Originally published in the February 16, 1878, issue of The Ashland Press.  Transcribed with permission from Ashland Narratives by K. Wallin and published in 2013 by Straddle Creek Co.

Early Recollections of Ashland: Number I

by Asaph Whittlesey

"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

Photograph of Asaph Whittlesey from the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Our first arrival at La Pointe being so intimately associated with the settlement of Ashland, I have determined to make our arrival there the subject of my first letter.

It was among the first days of June, 1854, that George Kilburn, Jr., myself and wife and only child, Eugenia, (then some eighteen months old,) made a landing at La Pointe with a view to remain permanently in the country. Well do I remember the beautiful “town,” spread before us as we merged from the “old log warehouse” through which we passed in reaching the shore, while the general appearance was that of neatness and comfort.

Julius Austrian ~ Madeline Island Museum

Photograph of Julius Austrian from the Madeline Island Museum.

We had already made the acquaintance of Mr. and Mrs. Julius Austrian, having had the pleasure of their company up the Lakes, and had made many inquiries of them as to the place of our destination. From this time forward we found Mr. and Mrs. Austrian to be most agreeable neighbors and associates, and these young “brides” spent much of their time together, and not unfrequently did the evening air carry to listening crowds our notes of “Good old Colony times,” and “There’s no place like home,” still fresh in our memory.

La Pointe at this time was the second in importance of towns upon the Lakes, Ontonagon taking the lead.

Within a few days after our landing, we were fully organized as “house keepers,” under the same roof with Mr. and Mrs. George Starks, now residents of Bayfield; who proved to be most excellent neighbors, and never did a single roof cover a more harmonious trio of families.

We had, however, a common “foe” to encounter, visions of which filled our dreams and harassed our waking moments. This “foe” was the everlasting “bed bug,” more numerous and more determined in their onslaught than is the “Russian Army;” while this mixture of Dutch and Yankee blood served to satisfy their ravenous appetites. We had heard of this race before, but this was the first time we had met in open combat, face to face. It was our custom regularly before retiring to rest to go into combat with them armed with “wooden spads,” with which we slaughtered them by the quart. Our plan was to remain awake an hour or so after retiring to bed, when we would strike a light which was a signal for a field fight. It was an exciting scene to witness their ranks surrounding us on every hand, while the sheets of our bed seemed dyed in human blood. One means of our defense was to have the bed posts stand in molasses; but this only put them to the trouble of marching to the ceiling above from which they dropped upon us like hail; of course all these contingencies helped to make my wife good natured, and strengthen her attachments to the country. This condition of things lasted while we remained occupants of the building, and when we, in our weakness from loss of blood, staggered forth to make us a home elsewhere, we were filled with anxiety as to the safety of our German neighbors.

Julius Austrian’s garden was originally established by Charles William Wulff Borup, M.D.:
“Dr. Borup, the agent for the American Fur Company, (who have an extensive trading-post at this place,) has a superb garden.  In walking through it with him, I saw very fine crops of the usual garden vegetables growing in it.  His red currant bushes were literally bent down beneath their weight of ripe fruit.  His cherry-trees had also borne well.  Gooseberries also succeed well.  The doctor also had some young apple-trees, that were in a thriving condition.  Poultry, likewise, does well.  Mrs. B. had her yard well stocked with turkeys, geese, ducks, and chickens.”
~ Morgan at La Pointe during 1845.

As I have before stated, the general appearance of the island was most attractive. The garden of Mr. Austrian was laid out most tastily. We found there a large variety of fruit trees, apples, plums, cherries, etc. Also large quantities of currants and strawberries; but the crowning attraction was the “grape bower,” affording a most attractive lounging place. Here also a merry party, consisting, so far as my recollection serves me, of the following persons: Mr. and Mrs. Julius Austrian, Rev. John Chebohm, (who, I remember, asked the blessing at the table,) Marks Austrian, Mr. H. Mandelbaum, Henry Smit, Mr. and Mrs. Hocksteiner, Mr. and Mrs. George Starks, old Mr. and Mrs. Perinier, Mr. and Mrs. Asaph Whittlesey, and I think Mrs. William Herbert, and a Mr. Roy, celebrated the

“FORTH OF JULY,” 1854.

Being a curious mixture of Americans, Jews, Germans, French and Austrians, no two of whom could carry on a very extensive conversation, for want of a knowledge of the languages, so that our toasts were mainly received in silence, nevertheless the day was passed most pleasantly, while the reading of the Declaration of Independence by Asaph Whittlesey, marked it as a day for national celebration.

To be continued in Number II

1855 Yom Kippur at La Pointe

December 18, 2016

By Amorin Mello

Julius Austrian ~ Madeline Island Museum

Photograph of Julius Austrian from the Madeline Island Museum

One of the more colorful figures from primary sources of Chequamegon History is Julius Austrian at La Pointe.  Austrian is also one of the more elusive, as he is often overlooked and omitted from secondary sources.  

My research of Austrian is what originally inspired me to begin contributing to Chequamegon History.  I have been working behind the scenes on a series of stories about Austrian featuring extensive collections of primary documents to shed more light on his life at La Pointe during the 1850’s, and look forward to publishing them at a later date.  

One story in particular is about Austrian’s, and his family’s, involvement with the 1855 La Pointe annuity payment, one of the most colorful events in Chequamegon History.  A brief introduction to the 1855 La Pointe annuity payment is needed for context, so I refer to a quote from Leo in an earlier post of his: A real bona fide, unmitigated Irishman

“Regular readers will know that the 1855 La Pointe annuity payment to the Lake Superior Chippewa bands is a frequent subject on Chequamegon History.  […]  The 1855 payment produced dozens of interesting stories and anecdotes:  some funny, some tragic, some heroic, some bizarre, and many complicated.  We’ve covered everything from Chief Buffalo’s death, to Hanging Cloud the female warrior, to Chief Blackbird’s great speech, to the random arrival of several politicians, celebrities, and dignitaries on Madeline Island.”

The annuity payment at La Pointe took place during August and September of 1855.  Yom Kippur during 1855 began on September 21st (also known in the Jewish calendar as the 9th of Tishrei, 5616).

At this moment in Chequamegon History, Austrian was a powerful resident at La Pointe in terms of private land ownership and political savvy.  Austrian was a signatory of the 1847 Treaty at Fond du Lac, but not a signatory of the 1854 Treaty at La Pointe.  However, primary sources reveal that Austrian was the owner of La Pointe during the 1854 Treaty, and received financial reimbursement from the Department of Interior for services related it.  A letter from Reverend Leonard Wheeler at Odanah dated January 18, 1856, asserts that the 1855 annuity payment at La Pointe was hosted by Austrian:

“The following is the substance of my notes taken at the Indian council at La Pointe a copy of which you requested.  Council held in front of Mr. Austrian’s store house Aug 30. 1855.”

I have come across secondary sources that allude to Austrian’s role as the host of the 1855 Yom Kippur at La Pointe immediately after the annuity payments, but have not yet been able to locate any primary sources.  This post cites secondary sources in hopes that another researcher may review them and help me find primary sources.  Having a background in Jewish studies would be helpful, as it is possible primary sources about the 1855 Yom Kippur at La Pointe were written in the Hebrew language rather than in English.  Please contact Chequamegon History if you can help find and translate primary sources.

Without further ado, here are secondary sources about the 1855 Yom Kippur at La Pointe listed chronologically by their publication dates.

 


 

The Beth El Story: With a History of the Jews in Michigan before 1850

by Irving I. Katz
Wayne University Press (1955)
ISBN-10: 0-7837-3584-7
ISBN-13: 978-0-7837-3584-9

Pages 53-54:

Read An Interesting Family History to learn more about business partnerships and marriages between the Leopold (Freudenthaler) siblings and Austrian (Oesterreicher) siblings.
The Austrians and Leopolds were connected to Temple Beth El via their former employee Edward Kanter.
Primary sources about the 1855 Yom Kippur at La Pointe might be found in archives at Temple Beth El.

“Lewis F. Leopold, whose name was Freudenthaler in his native Baden, Germany, his wife, Babette, who was a member of the Oesterreicher (Austrian) family, their infant son, Lewis’ sister, Hannah, and Lewis’ brother, Samuel, were located on the Island of Mackinac in 1845.  The brothers became the first pioneers in this locality in the fishery business and were soon shipping a thousand barrels of salted fish to Cleveland each season.  This business, together with the sale of supplies to fishermen, Indian trading and the purchase of furs, laid the foundation for an extensive business and they became prominent as owners of Lake Michigan vessels and merchants in the ports of the Great Lakes.

Austrian’s brother-in-law and business partner Lewis (Louis) Freudenthal Leopold was based in Cleveland.  Primary sources about the 1855 Yom Kippur at La Pointe might be found in the Jewish American Archives at the Western Reserve Historical Society.

“Samuel Leopold left Mackinac in 1853 to join his two other brothers and Julius Austrian, who had married Hannah Leopold in 1849, in their recently undertaken business enterprises at La Pointe and Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, where they were among the first white settlers.  Lewis Leopold officiated as cantor at the first High Holy Day services held at La Pointe in the fall of 1855.  Within a few years after 1850, the Leopolds and Austrians established leading stores in Michigan, at Eagle River, Eagle Harbor, the Cliff Mine, Calumet, and at Hancock, Joseph Austrian having selected the latter place as the site for his first store and warehouse.”

 


 

Mount Zion, 1856-1956: The First Hundred Years

by W. Gunther Plaut
North Central Publishing Company (1956)
ASIN: B0007DEZ4W

Page 24:

Primary sources about the 1855 Yom Kippur at La Pointe might be found at Mount Zion Temple.
Newspaper clipping featuring Austrian and "his man" Vincent Roy, Jr. ~ Minnesota Pioneer, January 30th, 1851; republished in The Daily Crescent (New Orleans, LA), Feburary 24th, 1851.

Minnesota Pioneer article about Julius Austrian and his Chippewa mixed-blood employee Vincent Roy, Jr. in Saint Paul as republished in The Daily Crescent (New Orleans, LA), February 24th, 1851.  Roy also worked for Austrian and Leopold at La Pointe, Fond du Lac, and Vermillion Lake.

“Julius Austrian was perhaps one of the most colorful figures not merely in the history of the Congregation but in the larger Minnesota community as well.  His wife, the former Hannah Leopold (in Germany, the name had been Freudenthaler), at once became an undisputed leader among the Jewish women.  The couple had married in 1849 and were among the first white settlers at La Pointe and at Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.  Others of the family joined them later.  High Holy day services are recorded at Fond du Lac as early as 1855.  Austrian laid claim to mineral rights and lands in what later became part of Duluth.  1851 he once made the trek south to St. Paul in the dead of the winter – and arrived in St. Paul with two dog trains and several hundred pounds of freight.  The Minnesota Pioneer duly reported that this ‘excited much curiosity in our town.’ The Austrians and Leopolds, who may be reckoned as among the earliest pioneers of the region, later had stores in a number of Michigan towns; and when Julius and Hannah moved to St. Paul, their reputation had preceded them.  But unlike his wife, Julius Austrian preferred the quiet, behind-the-scenes type of leadership.  When funds were low, he would make up the deficit; and at least on one occasion, so the minute book records, he guaranteed the Rabbi’s salary.  He wrote a fine hand, both in English and in Hebrew, as is attested by the cemetery records which he kept for many years.”

 


 

The Jews in Minnesota: The First Seventy-Five Years

by W. Gunther Plaut
American Jewish Historical Society (1959)
ISBN:

Pages 12-14:

Primary sources about the 1855 Yom Kippur at La Pointe might be found at the Independent Order of B’nai B’rith Minnesota Lodge, No. 157.

“When Abram Elfelt became Vice-President of the new Minnesota Lodge No. 157, B’nai B’rith, his fellow officer and treasurer was a man by the name of Julius Austrian.  The two had known each other for many years, for while Austrian did not come to St. Paul until after the Civil War he, too, had been in the Territory when it was still part of Wisconsin.

Julius Austrian (Oestreicher) immigrated with his sister Babette and brother-in-law Henry Leopold (Freudenthal). ~ New York Passenger Lists, September 5th, 1844; FamilySearch.org

Julius Austrian (Oestreicher) immigrated with his sister Babette Austrian (Babet Oestreicher) (wife of Louis F. Leopold) and their brother-in-law Henry F. Leopold (Heinr Freudenthal).
~ “New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1891,” image 19 of 895; NARA microfilm publication M237 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

“Austrian was one of five brothers.  In the old country, their name had been Oesterreicher or Oestreicher.  Julius must have had an adequate Jewish education, for he could write Hebrew with a sure hand and had deep and definite religious convictions.  In the late forties he, his brother Marx, and Lewis Leopold had gone up to LaPointe, Wisconsin, on Lake Superior, where they were among the first white settlers.  As early as 1855, they held Holy Day services in this outpost of civilization.

“In 1849, Julius had married his partner’s sister, Hannah Leopold, a girl who was then not quite nineteen years old.  Their business prospered; stores were established on the northernmost part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula: in Eagle River, Eagle harbor, Cliff Mine, Calumet and Hancock, where their store and warehouse were located.

Marriage license application for Julius Austrian and Hannah Leopold. ~ Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013; FamilySearch.org

Marriage license application for Julius Austrian and Hannah Leopold.
~ “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013,” image 47 of 229.

“The Austrians and Leopolds traded throughout the area and soon extended their contacts into Minnesota.  Even during the summer, it was quite a journey to St. Paul, but only the hardiest person would gather enough courage to make it during the winter.  No wonder, therefore, when Julius Austrian dared it in January, 1851, the press recorded that his arrival ‘excited much curiosity in our town.’  He came with another person from Lake Superior via the Falls of St. Croix.  Their mode of transportation was the northern dog-train.  In their two sleds they brought several hundred pounds of freight for trading.

“Austrian soon became a land owner in Minnesota.  He acquired mineral rights at Lake Superior on a site where later the city of Duluth was built.  In the late sixties, he and his brother Marx moved to St. Paul where Julius and Hannah at once became two of the leading Jewish citizens.  For they soon proved their strong Jewish loyalties and unusual leadership qualities.

Photograph of Hannah Leopold Austrian from the Madeline Island Museum.

Photograph of Hannah Leopold Austrian from the Madeline Island Museum.

“When they came to St. Paul, the Civil War was over, and whatever little Jewish institutional life there had been in Minnesota was left in very poor circumstances.  The two Austrians were soon engaged in building up the congregation.  They helped to find the means for erecting the young state’s first synagogue.  Hannah founded its first women’s group and headed it in its work for the Temple and in its increasingly ambitious welfare and social enterprises until after the turn of the century.  Under her presidency Mount Zion’s women founded the St. Paul Neighborhood House.  In 1897, she was feted lavishly on her twenty-fifth anniversary as president of the Temple auxiliary.  She was a stocky woman, coupled with a wonderful sense of humor.  She died in ripe old age in Chicago, where she had gone to live with her daughter, who had married Amiel Hart.  Hannah’s passing was noted with great sorrow in her old community to which she had given so much.

“The Austrians were moderate in their outlook; they were Reformers, but of the evolutionary kind.  Julius was, until his death in 1891, a mainstay of Mount Zion Hebrew Congregation.  More retiring than his wife, he preferred a trusteeship or vice-presidency to the chair itself.  He was responsible for bringing Leopold Wintner was the first ordained Rabbi to Minnesota; for when his fellow members were fearful of committing themselves to a contract he personally agreed to underwrite it.  His special concern was the cemetery of Mount Zion, the first Jewish burial ground in the state.  He kept its records in English and Hebrew, and some of the social background of the earlier days can be read in his private obituary notes.

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

Marx Austrian immigrated to the United States during 1853 with his mother, several of his siblings, and cousin Henry Guttman (Goodman).
~ “New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1891,” image 499 of 671; NARA microfilm publication M237 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

Joseph Austrian’s memoir asserts that the Marx Austrian’s life was threatened at least once by the Lake Superior Chippewas for his actions along Chequamegon Bay.

“His brother Marx (more often he was known as Max) was blind from early youth on.  Still he pioneered with the rest of the family, and the Indians at Lake Superior loved the handicapped white man.  In St. Paul, whither he removed with Julius and Hannah in 1869, he was known as a man of dignity and piety.  For many years he blew the shofar at Mt. Zion’s Holy Day services.  He outlived Julius by twelve years.”

 


 

United States Jewry 1776-1985.
Vol. 2: the Germanic Period, Part 1

by Jacob Rader Marcus
Wayne State University Press (1991)
ISBN-10: 0-8143-2187-9
ISBN-13: 978-0-8143-2187-4

Page 196:

Primary sources about the 1855 Yom Kippur at La Pointe may be found at the Jacob Rader Marcus Center for American Jewish Archives.

“By the 1850’s America was studded with Jewish societies, one even on the High Plains.  How rapid was the organizing process?  In general a whole generation elapsed, possibly two, after the coming of the pioneers before the first communal society came into being.  In some states, as in Florida and Connecticut, it would take decades before the Jews would established a congregation.  There are some striking exceptions.  In 1855 a number of Jewish Indian traders met on an island in Lake Superior in the frontier village of La Pointe, Wisconsin.  The Indians were assembled there to collect their annuities and the Jews were present to dun their debtors before they dispersed.  There were enough Jews for a minyan and a service was held.  That was the beginning and the end of La Pointe Jewry.  Another historical accident is the “instant” community.  The Jews of Savannah arrived from London in 1733 already organized as a congregation; San Francisco Jewry of the Gold Rush was able to establish two religious groups without delay and Oklahoma City and Guthrie were born overnight during the 1889 ‘run.’  All this is completely atypical.”

 


 

Jewish Pioneers of Saint Paul: 1849-1874

by Gene H. Rosenblum
Arcadia Publishing (2001)
ISBN-10: 0-7385-1862-X
ISBN-13: 978-0738518626

Page 75:

“Julius Austrian was one of the more influential and colorful Jewish pioneers.  In 1849, he and his wife Hannah Leopold Austrian were among the first white settlers in La Pointe and Fon Du Lac, Wisconsin, at a time when the Minnesota Territory was part of the Wisconsin Territory.  In 1855, they had participated in the Jewish High Holiday services in La Pointe.  He was already a successful businessman when he and his family came to St. Paul in 1869 from Wisconsin.  He had a string of successful stores throughout the Upper Michigan Peninsula.  He also had already acquired claims in mineral rights around Lake Superior, where the city of Duluth now stands.  He was a man of great generosity, and when the fledgling Mt. Zion Synagogue was unable to hire its first rabbi, he guaranteed payment.  He also was a moving force in the failed attempt to establish the Painted woods colony in North Dakota.”

Page 79:

Primary sources about the 1855 Yom Kippur might be found at Mount Zion Temple in Saint Paul.
“In 1856, when St. Paul only had a population of 1200, 8 Jewish pioneers (fur traders, liquor and clothing merchants) founded Mount Zion Hebrew Congregation. In 1856, Minnesota was still a territory, to become a state in 1858. Mount Zion was traditional in its beginning years.”
~ Mount Zion Temple
“The first Jews arrived in Minnesota in the 1840s and 1850s. Most were from the area that would become Germany, but they had spent several years in the eastern United State, especially New York and Pennsylvania. They came as young families and as single men. Chiefly they engaged in selling liquor and taking furs in trade; later they expanded their businesses to sell clothing and other dry goods.”
~ Mount Zion Temple

“Two significant events took place in 1869 that had a permanent impact on the pattern of communal life within the St. Paul Jewish community.  The first event involved the more orthodox of the settlers.  Dissatisfied with Mt. Zion, they began to gather together for private prayers in a frame house on Payne Avenue near Seventh Street in the Dayton’s Bluff near East Side area.  They were the roots for the first strictly orthodox synagogue in Minnesota and established what later became the Sons of Jacob Synagogue.  At this point, Mt. Zion began its slow evolution toward Reform Judaism.  The second event involved a husband and wife team who were to have far reaching influence.  Julius Austrian and his wife Hannah arrived in St. Paul in 1869 when the Jewish communal institutions were in very poor circumstances.

“Julius Austrian was one of five brothers.  In the old country their name was Oestrreicher.  In the late 1840s, his older brothers, Marx Austrian and Lewis Leopold, had gone to La Pointe, Wisconsin, on Lake Superior, where they were among the first white settlers.  As early as 1855 they held High Holy Day (Yom Kippur) services in La Pointe, Wisconsin.  In 1849, Julius married Lewis Leopold’s sister Hannah, who was not quite 19.  In 1851, he made a trip south to St. Paul in the dead of winter and arrived with two dog trains and several hundred pounds of freight.”

By Amorin Mello

… continued from Among The Otchipwees: I

Magazine of Western History Illustrated No. 3 January 1885 as republished in Magazine of Western History: Volume I

Magazine of Western History Illustrated
No. 3 January 1885
as republished in
Magazine of Western History: Volume I, pages 177-192.

AMONG THE OTCHIPWEES.

II.

In the fall of 1849, the Bad Water band were in excellent condition, and therefore very happy.  Deer were then very abundant on the Menominee.  They are nimble animals, able to leap gracefully over obstructions as high as a man’s head standing.  But they do not like such efforts, unless there is a necessity for it.  The Indians discovered this long ago, and built long brush fences across their trails to the water.  When the unsuspecting animal has finished browsing, he goes for a drink with the regularity of an habitué of a saloon.  Seeing the obstruction, he walks leisurely along it, expecting to find a low place, or the end of it.  The dark eye of the Chippewa is fixed upon him from the top of a tree.  This is much the best position, because the deer is not likely to look up, and the wind is less likely to bear his odor to the delicate nostrils of the game.  At such close quarters every shot is fatal.  Its throat is cut, its legs tied together, and thrown over the head and shoulders of the hunter, its body resting on his back, and he starts for the village.  Here the squaws strip off the hide and prepare the carcass for the kettle.  With a tin cup full of flour or a pound of pork, we often purchased a saddle of venison, and both parties were satisfied with the trade.

Naagaanab<br/>~ Minnesota Historical Society

Naagaanab
~ Minnesota Historical Society

Ushkabwahka river is Ushkibwakani-zibi [Askibwaanikaa-ziibi]. The-river-of-the-place-of-the-wild-artichokes.”
Executive Documents of the State of Minnesota for the Year 1886, Volume V.: Minnesota Geographical Names Derived from the Chippewa Language, by Reverend Joseph Alexander Gilfillan, 1887, page 457.
Jerusalem Artichoke is translated as as As’kibwan’ 1928 book, Uses of Plants by the Chippewa Indians by Frances Densmore, 1928.
Ekwaakwaa refers to a place near the “edge of the woods.”
Akwaakwaa
refers to “go a certain distance in the woods.”
“The several rapids from Knife portage to Ashkewaka, I estimate at sixty (60) feet, and thence to the mouth of the East Savannah river twenty-five (25) feet, making five hundred and ninety-four (594) feet above Lake Superior and 1204 above the ocean.”
General Geology: Miscellaneous Papers, Volume 1A Report of Explorations in the Mineral Regions of Minnesota During the Years 1848, 1859 and 1864 by Colonel Charles Whittlesey, 1866, page 44.

Of course the man of the woods has a preference as to what he shall eat; but when he is suffering from hunger, as he is a large part of his days, he is not very particular.  Fresh venison, bear meat, buffalo, moose, caribou, porcupine, wild geese, ducks, rabbits, pigeons, or fish, relish better than gulls, foxes, or skunks.  The latter do very well while he is on the verge of starvation, and even owls, crows, dead horses and oxen.  The lakes of the interior of Minnesota and Wisconsin produce wild rice spontaneously.  When parched it is more palatable than southern rice, and more nutritious.  Potatoes grow well everywhere in the north country; varieties of corn ripen as far north as Red Lake.  Nothing but a disinclination to labor hinders the Chippewa from always having enough to eat.  With the wild rice, sugar, and the fat of animals, well mixed, they make excellent rations, which will sustain life longer than any preparation known to white men.  A packer will carry on his back enough to last him forty days.  He needs only a tin cup in which to warm water, with which it makes a rich soup.  Pemmican is less palatable, and sooner becomes rancid.  This is made of smoke or jerked meat pulverized, saturated with fat and pressed into cakes or blocks.  Sturgeon are numerous and large, and when well smoked and well pulverized they furnish palatable food even without salt, and keep indefinitely.  Voyagers mix it with sugar and water in their cups.  In the large lakes, white fish, siskowit, and lake trout are abundant.  In the smaller lakes and rivers there are many varieties of fish.  With so many resources supplied by nature, if the natives suffer  from hunger it is solely caused by indolence.  His implicit reliance upon the Great Spirit, which is his good Providence, no doubt encourages improvidence.  Nanganob was apparently very desirous to have a garden at Ashkebwaka, for which I sent him a barrel of seed potatoes, corn, pumpkins, and a general assortment of seeds.  Precisely what was done with the parcel I do not know, but none of it went into the ground.  In most cases everything eatable went into their stomachs as soon as they were hungry.  Even after potatoes had been planted, they have been dug out and eaten, and squashes when they were merely out of bloom.  If the master of a lodge should be inclined to preserve the seed and a hungry brother came that way, their hospitality required that the garden should be sacrificed.  Their motto is that the morrow will take care of itself.  After being well fed, they are especially worthless.  When corn has been issued to them to carry to their home, they have been known to throw it away and go off as happy as children.

Detail of the Saint Louis River with Knife Portage and East Savannah River from Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River from Astronomical and Barometrical Observations Surveys and Information by Joseph Nicolas Nicollet, 1843. ~ David Rumsey Map Collection

Detail of the Saint Louis River with the Artichoke River (unlabeled) between the Knife Portage and East Savannah River from Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River from Astronomical and Barometrical Observations Surveys and Information by Joseph Nicolas Nicollet, 1843.
~ David Rumsey Map Collection

No footgear is more comfortable, especially in winter, than the moccasin.  The Indian knows nothing of cold feet, though he has no shoes or even socks.  His light loose moccasin is large enough to allow a wrap of one or more thickness of pieces of blankets, called “nepes.”  In times of extreme cold, wisps of hay are put in around the “nepes.”  In winter the snow is dry, and the rivers and swamps everywhere covered with ice, which is a thorough protection against wet feet.  As they are never pinched by the devices of shoemakers, the blood circulates freely.  The well tanned deer skin is soft and a good nonconductor, which cannot be said of the footgear of civilization.  In summer the moccasin is light and easy to the foot, but is no protection against water.  At night it is not dried at the camp-fire only wrung out to be put on wet in the morning.  Like the bow and the arrow, these have nearly disappeared since Europeans have furnished bullets, powder and guns.  Before that time the war club was a very important weapon.  It was of wood, having a strong handle, with a ball or knot at the end. If the Chippewas used battleaxes of stone, they could not have been common.  I have rarely seen a light war club with an iron spike well fastened in the knot or ball at the end.  In ancient days, when their arrows and daggers were tipped with flint, their battles were like those of all rude people – personal encounters of the most desperate character.  The sick are possessed of evil spirits which are driven out by incantations loud and prolonged enough to kill a well person.  Their acquaintance with medical herbs is very complete.

Mr. B cannot be identified without more biographical information.  He could be either Harry S. Beesley or Daniel P. Bushnell (both men are mentioned later), or someone else.

One of the customs of the country is that of concubinage as well as polygamy, resembling in this respect the ancient Hebrews and other Eastern nations.  The parents of a girl – on proper application and the payment of a blanket, some tobacco and other et ceteras, amounting to “ten pieces” – bestowing their daughter for such a period as her new master may choose.  A further consideration is understood that she is to be clothed and fed, and when the parents visit the traders’ post they expect some pork and flour.  To a maiden – who, as an Indian wife or in her father’s house is not only a drudge but a slave, compelled to row the canoe, to cut and bring wood, put up the lodge and take it down, and always to carry some burden – this situation is a very agreeable one.  If she wishes to marry afterwards, her reputation does not suffer.  While Mr. B. was conversing with the Hudson’s Bay man on the bank, some of the girls came coquettishly down to them frisking about in their rabbit skin blankets well saturated with grease.  One of them managed to keep in view what she considered a special attraction – a fine pewter ring on her finger.  These Chippewas damsels had in some way acquired the art of insinuation belonging to the sex without the aid of a boarding school.

History and Tribes of the La Pointe Indian Agency

The Indian agent at La Pointe killed a deer of about medium size, which he left in the woods.  He engaged an Indian to bring it in.  Night came and the next day before the man returned without the deer.  “Where is my deer?”  “Eat him, don’t suppose me to eat nothing.”  Probably that meal lasted him a week.  There is among them no regular time for meals or other occupations.  If there are provisions in the lodge, each one helps himself; and if a visitor comes, he is offered what he can eat as long as it lasts.  This is their view of hospitality.  The lazy and worthless are never refused.  To do this to the meanest professional dead beat would be the ruin of the character of the host.

Detail of portage across Missabay Heights between Lake Vermillion and the Saint Louis River headwaters from Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River from Astronomical and Barometrical Observations Surveys and Information by Joseph Nicolas Nicollet, 1843. ~ David Rumsey Map Collection

Detail of portage between Lake Vermillion and the Saint Louis River headwaters from Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River from Astronomical and Barometrical Observations Surveys and Information by Joseph Nicolas Nicollet, 1843.
~ David Rumsey Map Collection

Daniel P. Bushnell was stationed at the La Pointe Indian sub-Agency.
Wiindigoo is a legendary being among the Ojibwe and other Algonquin tribes.
Vincent Roy, Jr. was a famous figure of La Pointe.  Mr. Roy in this narrative is most likely his father (Vincent Roy, Sr.), or perhaps his grandfather (Vincent Roy the Eldest).

“Vincent Roy Sr. was born at Leech Lake Minn. in the year 1779 1797, and died at Superior, Wis. Feb. 18th 1872. He was a son of a Canadian Frenchman by the same name as his son bears. When V. Roy, Sr was about 17 or 18 years old, they emigrated to Fort Frances, Dominion of Canada, where he was engaged by the North-West Fur Co. as a trader until the two Companies (the North-West and the Hudson Bay Co joined together) he still worked for the consolidated Company for 12 or 15 years. When the American Traders came out at the Vermillion Lake country in Minnesota Three or four years afterwards he joined the American Traders. For several years he went to Mackinaw, buying goods and supplies for the Bois Fortes bands of Chippeways on Rainy and Vermillion Lake Country. About the year 1839 he came out to the Lake Superior Country and located his family at La Pointe. In winters he went out to Leech Lake Minn., trading for the American Fur Co. For several years until in the year of 1847 when the Hon. H. M. Rice, now of St. Paul, came to this country representing the Pierre Choteau Co. as a fur trading company. V. Roy, Sr. engaged to Pierre Choteau & Co. to trade with his former Indians at Vermillion Lake Country for two years, and then went for the American Fur Company again for one year. After a few years he engaged as a trader again for Peter E. Bradshaw & Co. and went to Red Lake, Minn. for several years. In 1861 he went to Nipigon (on Canadian side) trading for the same company. In a few years, he again went back to his old post at Vermillion Lake, Minn., where he contracted a very severe sickness, in two years afterwards he died at Superior among his Children as stated before &c.”
~ Minnesota Historical Society: Henry M. Rice and Family Papers, 1824-1966; Box 4; Sketches folder; Item “Roy, Vincent, 1797-1872”

Among the Chippewas we hear of man eaters, from the earliest travelers down to this day.  Mr. Bushnell, formerly Indian agent at La Pointe, described one whom he saw who belonged on the St. Louis River and Vermillion Lake.  The Indians have a superstitious dread of them, and will flee when one enters the lodge.  They are hated, but it is supposed they cannot be killed, and no one ventures to make the experiment.  it is only by a bullet such as the man eater himself shall designate that his body can be pierced.  He is frequently a lunatic, spending days and nights alone in the woods in mid winter without food, traveling long spaces to present himself unexpectedly among distant bands.  Whatever he chooses to eat is left for him, and right glad are the inmates of a lodge to get rid of him on such easy terms.  The practice is not acquired from choice, but from the terrible necessities of hunger which happen every winter among the northern Indians.  Like shipwrecked parties at sea, the weaker first falls a prey to the stronger, and their flesh goes to sustain life a little longer among the remainder.  The Chippewas think that after one has tasted human food he has an uncontrollable longing for it, and that it is not safe to leave children alone with them.  They say a man eater has red eyes and he looks upon the fat papoose with a demonical glance, and says: “How tender he would be.”  One miserable object on the St. Louis River eat off his own lips, and finally became such a source of consternation that one Indian more courageous than the rest buried a tomahawk in his head.  Another one who had the reputation of having killed all of his own family, came to the winter fishing ground on Rainy Lake, where Mr. Roy was trading with the Indians.  He stayed on the ice trying to take some fish, but without success.  Not one of the band dared go out to fish, although they were suffering from hunger.  Mr. Roy and all the Indians requested him to go away, but he would not unless he had something to eat.  no one but the trader could give him anything, and he was not inclined to do so.  Things remained thus during three days, no squaw daring to go on the ice to fish for fear of the man eater.  Mr. Roy urged them to kill him, but they said it would be of no use to shoot at him.  The man eater dared them to fire.  The trader at length lost patience with the cannibal and the terrified Bois Forts.  He took his gun and warned the fellow that he would be shot if he remained on the ice.  The faith of the savage appears to have been strong in the charm that surrounded his person, for he only replied by a laugh of derision.  On the other side Mr. Roy had great faith in his rifle, and discharging it at the body of the man, he fell dead, as might have been expected.  The Indians were at once relieved of a dreadful load, and sallied out to fish.  No one, however, dared to touch the corpse.

No one of either party can go into the country of the other, and not be discovered.  Their moccasins differ and their mode of walking.  Their canoes and paddles are not alike, and their camp-fires as well as their lodges differ.  The Chippewa lodge or wigwam is made by a  circular or oblong row of small poles set in the ground, bending the tops over and fastening them with bark.  They carry everywhere rolls of birch bark, which unroll like a carpet.  These are wound on the poles next the ground course, and overlapping this a second and third, so as to shed rain.  On one side is a low opening covered by a blanket, and at the top a circular place for the smoke to escape.  The fire is on the ground at the centre.  The work of putting up the lodge is done by the squaws, who gather wood for the fire, spread the mats, and proceed to cook their meals, provided there is anything to cook.

Stereograph of "Chippewa Indians and Wigwams" by Martin's Art Gallery, Yew York City, circa 1862-1875. ~ Commons.Wikimedia.org

Stereograph of “Chippewa Indians and Wigwams” by Martin’s Art Gallery, circa 1862-1875, shows that they used more than one type of wigwam.
~ Commons.Wikimedia.org

A Sioux lodge is the model of the Sibley tent, with a pole at the centre and others set around in a circle, leaning against the central one at the top, forming a cone.  This they cover with skins of the buffalo, deer, elk or moose, wound around like the Chippewa rolls of bark, leaving a space at the top for the smoke to escape, and an entrance at the side.  This is stronger and more compact than the Chippewa wigwam, and withstands the fiercest storms of the prairies.  In winter, earth is occasionally piled around the base, which makes it firmer and warmer.

We were coming down the Rum River, late in the fall of 1848, when one of our voyageurs discovered the track of a Sioux in the sand.  It was at least three weeks old, but nothing could induce him to stay with us, not even an hour.  He was not sure but a mortal enemy was then tracking us for the purpose of killing him.

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

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

Earlier in the season we were at Red Lake.  A cloud of smoke came up from the west, which caused a commotion in the village and mission at the south end of the lake.  A war party was then out on a Sioux raid.  The chief had lost a son, killed by them.  He had managed to get the hand of a Sioux, which he had planted at the head of his son’s grave.  But this did not satisfy his revenge nor appease the spirit of his son.  He organized a war party to get more scalps, which was then out.  A warrior chief or medicine man gains his principal control of the warriors by means of a prophecy, which he must make in detail.  If the first of his predictions should fail, the party may desert him entirely.  In this case, on a certain day they would meet a bear.  When they met the enemy, if they were to be victorious, a cloud of smoke would obscure the sun.  It was this darkening of the sky that excited the hopes of the Red Lake band.  They were sure there had been a battle and that the Sioux were defeated.

Judge Samuel Ashmun ~ Chippewa County Historical Society

Judge Samuel Ashmun
~ Chippewa County Historical Society

Wa-ne-jo cannot be identified without more biological information.

The late Judge Ashmun, of Sault Ste. Marie, while he was a minor, wandered off from his nativity in Vermont to Lake Superior, through it to Fond du Lac, and thence by way of the St. Louis River to Sandy Lake on the Mississippi.  Somewhere in that region he was put in charge of one of Astor’s trading posts.  In the early winter of 1818 he went on a hunt with a party of seventeen indiscreet young braves, against the advice of the sachems, apparently in a southwesterly direction on the Sioux border, or neutral land.  Far from being neutral, it was very bloody ground.  At the end of the third day they were about fifty miles from the post.  On the morning of each day a rendezvous was fixed upon for the next camp.  Each one then commenced the hunt for the day, taking what route pleased himself.  The ice on the lakes and marshes was strong and the snow not uncomfortably deep.  The principal game was deer, with some pheasants, prairie hens, rabbits and porcupines.  What a hunter could not carry he hung upon trees to be carried home upon their return.  Their last camp was on the border of a lake in thick woods, with tall dry grass on the margin of the lake.  Having killed all the deer they could carry, it was determined to begin the return march the next day.  It was not a war party, but they were prepared for their Sioux enemies, of whom no signs had been discerned.  There was no whiskey in the camp, but when the stomach of an Indian is filled to its enormous capacity with fresh venison he is always jolly.  It was too numerous a party to shelter themselves by a roof of boughs over the fire, but they had made a screen against the wind of branches of pine, hemlock or balsam.  Around the fire was a circle of boughs on which they sat, ate and slept.  Some were mending their moccasins, other smoking tobacco and kinnikinic, playing practical jokes, telling stories, singing songs and gambling.  Mr. Ashmun could get so little sleep that he took Wa-ne-jo, who had a boy of thirteen years, and they made a separate camp.  This man going to the lake to drink, was certain that he heard the tramp and felt the vibrations of a party going over the ice, who could be no other than the Sioux.  He returned, and after some hesitation Mr. Ashmun reported the news to the main camp.  “Oh, Wa-ne-jo is a liar, nobody believes him,” was the universal response.  Mr. Ashmun, however, gave credit to the repot.  They immediately put out the fire at his bivouac.  Even war parties do not place sentinels, because attacks are never made until break of day.  In the isolated camp they waited impatiently for the first glimpse of morning.  Most of the other party fell asleep with a feeling of security, for which they took no steps to verify.  One of them lay down without his moccasins.  Mr. Ashmun and his man were just ready to jump for the tall grass when a volley was poured into the other camp, accompanied by the usual savage yell.  The darkness and stillness of a faint morning twilight made this burst of war still more terrific.  Taking the boy between them, they commenced the race for life under the guidance of Wa-ne-jo, in a direction directly opposite to their home.  He well knew the Sioux all night long had been creeping stealthily over the snow and through the thicket, and had formed a line behind the main camp.  The Chippewas made a brave defence, giving back their howls of defiance and fighting as they dispersed through the woods.  Eight were killed near the camp and a wounded one at some distance, where he had secreted himself.  Two fo the wounded were helped away according to custom, and also the barefooted man, whose feet were soon frozen.  All clung to their guns, and the frightened boy to his hatchet.  They estimated the Sioux party to have been one hundred and thirty, of whom they killed four and wounded seven, but brought in no scalps.

Indians Canoeing in the Rapids painting by Cornelius Krieghoff, 1856. ~ Commons.Wikimedia.org

Indians Canoeing in the Rapids painting by Cornelius Krieghoff, 1856.
~ Commons.Wikimedia.org

In his way, the Chippewa is quite religious.  He believes in a future world where there is a happy place for good Indians.  If he is paddling his canoe against a head wind and can afford it, he throws overboard a piece of tobacco, the most precious thing he has.  With this offering there is a short invocation to the good manitou for a fair breeze, when he can raise a blanket for a sail, stop rowing and take a smoke.  At the head of many a rapid which it is dangerous to run, are seen pieces of tobacco on the rocks, which were laid there with a brief prayer that they may go safely through.  Some of them, which are frightful to white men, they pass habitually.  These offerings are never disturbed, for they are sacred.  He endeavors also to appease the evil spirit Nonibojan.  Fire, rocks, waterfalls, mountains and animals are alive with spirits good and bad.  The medicine man, who is prophet, physician, priest and warrior, is an object of reverence and admiration.  His prayers are for success in the hunt, accompanied by incantations.

In Part III, “Charlie” is identified as a brother of Stephen Bonga.  The only known brothers of Stephen were George Bonga and Jack Bonga.  “Charlie” may be an alias for either George or Jack.
For more information about the Bonga family, Chequamegon History recommends reading French Africans in Ojibwe Country: Negotiating Marriage, Identity and Race, 1780-1890 by Mattie Marie Harper, 2012.
George Bonga ~ Wikipedia.org

George Bonga
~ Wikipedia.org

Among the stories of a thousand camp-fires, was one by Charlie, a stalwart, half-breed Indian and negro, whose father was an escaped slave.  On the shores of Sandy Lake, a party of Chippewas had crossed on the ice in midwinter, and encamped in the woods not far from the north shore.  One of them went to the Lake with a kettle of water, and a hatchet to cut the ice.  After he filled his kettle, he lay down to drink.  The water was not entirely quiet, which attracted his attention at once.  His suspicions were aroused, and placing his ear to the ice, he discerned regular pulsations, which his wits, sharpened by close attention to every sight and every sound, interpreted to be the tramp of men.  They could be no other than Sioux, and there must be a party larger than their own.  Their fire was instantly put out, and they separated to meet at daylight at a place several miles distant.  All their conclusions were right.  One band of savages outwitted another, having instincts of danger that civilized men would have allowed to pass unnoticed.  The Sioux found only the embers of a deserted camp, and saw the tracks of their enemies diverge in so many directions that it was useless to pursue.

In 1839 the Chippewas on the upper Mississippi were required to come to Fort Snelling to receive their payments.  That post was in Sioux territory, and the order gave offense to both nations.  It required the presence of the United States troops to prevent murders even on the reservation.  On the way home at Sunrise River, the Chippewas were surprised by a large force of Sioux, and one hundred and thirty-six were killed.

At the mouth of Crow Wing River, on the east bank of the Mississippi, is a ridge of gravel, on which there were shallow pits.  The Indians said that, about fifteen years before, a war party of Sioux was above there on the river to attack the Sandy Lake band.  A party of Chippewas concealed themselves in these pits, awaiting the descent of their enemies.  The affair was so well managed that the surprise was complete.  When the uncautious Sioux floated along within close range of their guns, the Chippewa warriors rose and delivered their fire into the canoes.  Some got ashore and escaped through the woods to the westward, but a large portion were killed.

Detail of Crow Wing River from <a href="http://www.davidrumsey.com/maps1840.html" target="_blank"><em><strong>Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River from Astronomical and Barometrical Observations Surveys and Information</strong></em></a> by Joseph Nicolas Nicollet, 1843.<br /> ~ David Rumsey Map Collection

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

While crossing the Elk River, between the falls of St. Anthony and those of St. Cloud, a squaw ran into the water, screaming furiously, followed by a man with a club.  This was her lord and master, bent on giving her a taste of discipline very common in Indian life.  She succeeded in escaping this time by going into deep water.  Her nose had been disfigured by cutting away most of the fleshy portions, as a punishment for unfaithfulness to a husband, who was probably worse than herself.

At the mouth of Crow Wing River was an Indian skipping about with the skin of a skunk tied to one of his ankles.  There was also in a camp near the post another Chippewa, who had murdered a brother of the lively man.  There is no criminal law among them but that of retaliation.  Any member of the family may execute this law at such time and manner as he shall decide.  This badge of skunk’s skin was a notice to the murderer that the avenger was about, and that his mission was not fulfilled.  Once the guilty man had been shot through the thigh, as a foretaste of what was to follow.  The avenger seemed to enjoy badgering his enemy, whom he informed that although he might be occasionally wounded, it was not the intention at present to kill him outright.  If the victim should kill his persecutor, he well knew that some other relative would have executed full retaliation.

Bagon-giizhig the Elder died before the 1848 La Pointe Annuity Payments.
Bagone-giizhig (Bug-on-a-ke-it):
Hole In the Day the Elder
(1801-1847)
“Intelligent, brave, loquacious, and ambitious, Bagone-giizhig [the Elder] made a universally powerful impression on nearly everyone he met.  Although born without traditional claims to chieftainship, he attained more status and power than many traditional hereditary chiefs. The constant flux in Ojibwa-Dakota relations and the burgeoning military and economic power of the United States created rapid change in Ojibwa communities and he was able to use that climate and his undeniable charisma, oratorical power, and diplomacy savvy to build a powerful chieftainship for himself.”
The Assassination of Hole In The Day [the Younger] by Anton Treuer, 2010.
Bagon-giizhig (Po-go-noyke-schik):
Hole In The Day the Younger
aka Kue-wee-sas (Gwiiwizens [Boy or Lad])
(1825-1868)
Bagone-giizhig the Younger ~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Bagone-giizhig the Younger
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

This Chippewa brave, Bug-on-a-ke-dit, lived on a knoll overlooking the Mississippi River, four miles above Little Rock, where he had a garden.  He appeared at the payment at La Pointe, in 1848, with a breech cloth and scanty leggings.  This was partially for showing off a very perfect figure, tall, round and lithe, the Apollo of the woods.  His scanty dress enabled him to exhibit his trophies in war.  The dried ears of his foes, a part of whom were women, were suspended at his neck.  Around his tawny arms were bright brass bands, but there was nothing of which he was more proud than a bullet hole just below the right breast.  The place of the wound was painted black, and around it circles of red, yellow and purple; other marks on the chest, arms and face told of the numbers he had slain and scalped, in characters well understood by all Chippewas.  The numbers of eagle feathers in his hair informed the savage crowd how many battles he had fought.  He was not, like Grizzly Bear, a great orator, but resembled him in getting drunk at every opportunity.  He managed to procure a barrel of whiskey, which he carried to his lodge.  While it was being unloaded it fell upon and crushed him to death.  Looking up a grass clad hill, a dingy flag was seen (1848) fluttering on a pole where he was buried.  He often repeated with great zest the mode by which the owners of two of the desecrated ears were killed.  His party of four braves discovered some Sioux lodges on the St. Peters, from which all the men were absent.  The squaws lodged their hereditary enemies over night with their accustomed hospitality.  Bug-on-a-ke-dit and his party concealed themselves during the day, and at dark each one attacked a lodge.  Seven women and children were slaughtered.  His son Kue-wee-sas, or Po-go-noy-ke-schik, was a much more respectable and influential chief.

An hundred years since, the Sioux had an extensive burial ground, on the outlet of Sandy Lake, a few miles east of the Mississippi River.  Their dead were encased in bark coffins and placed on scaffolds supported by four cedar posts, five or six feet high.  This was done to prevent wolves from destroying the bodies.  Thirty years since some of these coffins were standing in a perfect condition, but most of them were broken or wholly fallen, only the posts standing well whitened by age.  The Chippewas wrap the corpse in a blanket and a roll of birch bark, and dig a shallow grave in which the dead are laid.  A warrior is entitled to have his bow and arrow, sometimes a gun and and a kettle, laid beside him with his trinkets.  Over the mound a roof of cedar bark is firmly set up, and the whole fenced with logs or protected in some way against wolves and other wild animals.  There is a hole at one or both ends of the bark shelter, in which is friends place various kinds of food.  Their belief in a spirit world hereafter is universal.  If it is a hunter or warrior, he will need his arms to kill game or to slay his enemies.  Their theory is that the dog may go to the spiritual country, as a spirit, also his weapons, and the food which is provided for the journey.  To him every thing has its spiritual as well as its material existence.  Over all is the great spirit or kitchi-manitou, looking after the happiness of his children here and hereafter.

Portrait of Stephen Bonga ().

Stephen Bonga
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Winter travelling in those northern regions is by no means so uncomfortable as white men imagine.  By means of snow shoes the Indian can move in a straight course towards his village, without regard to the trail.  In the short days of winter he starts at day break and travels util dark.  Stephen said he made fifty miles a day in that way, which is more than he could have done in summer.

At night they endeavor to find a thicket where there is a screen against the wind and plenty of wood.  They scoop away the snow with their shoes and start a fire at the bottom of the pit.  Around this they spread branches of pine, balsam or cedar, and over head make a shelter of brush to keep off the falling snow.  Probably they have a team or more of dogs harnessed to sledges, who take their places around the fire.  Here they cook and eat an enormous meal, when they wrap themselves in blankets for a profound sleep.  Long before day another heavy meal is eaten.  Everything is put in its proper package ready to start as soon as there is light enough to keep their course.

A Dictionary of the Otchipwe Language, Explained in English was published by Bishop Frederic Baraga in 1853.
Chequamegon History recommends two Ojibwemowin dictionaries online:
Freelang Ojibwe-English by Weshki-ayaad, Charles Lippert and Guy T. Gambill
Ojibwe People’s Dictionary by the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota

Many Indian words have originated since the white people came among them.  A large proportion of their proper names are very apt expressions of something connected with the person, lake, river, or mountain to which they are applied.  This people, in their primitive state, knew nothing of alcohol, coffee, tea, fire-arms, money, iron, and hundreds of other things to which they gave names, generally very appropriate ones.  A negro is black meat; coffee is black medicine drink; tea, red medicine drink; iron, black metal; gold, yellow metal.  I was taking the altitude of the sun at noon near Red Lake Mission with a crowd of Chippewas standing around greatly interested.  They had not seen the liquid metal mercury, used for an artificial horizon in such observations, which excited their especial astonishment, and they had no name for it.  One of them said something which caused a general expression of delight, for which I enquired the reason.  He had coined a word for mercury on the spot, which means silver water.

Detail of Minnesota Point during Stuntz's survey contract during August-October of 1852.

Detail of Minnesota Point during George Stuntz’s survey contract during August-October of 1852.
~ Barber Papers (prologue): Stuntz Surveys Superior City 1852-1854

This family's sugar bush was located at or near Silver Creek (T53N-R10W). ~ General Land Office Records

This family’s sugar bush was located at or near Silver Creek (T53N-R10W).
~ General Land Office Records

Indian Trail to Rockland townsite overlooking English/Mineral Lake and asdf.

Indian trail to Rockland townsite overlooking English/Mineral Lake and Gogebic Iron Range.
~ Penokee Survey Incidents: Number V

“Buckoda” means Bakade (hungry).

Coasting along the beach northward from the mouth of the St. Louis River, on Minnesota Point, I saw a remarkable mark in the sand and went ashore to examine it.  The heel and after part was clearly human.  At the toes there was a cleft like the letter V and on each side some had one, others two human toes.  Not far distant were Indians picking berries under the pine trees, which then covered the point in its entire length.  We asked the berrypickers what made those tracks.  They smiled and offered to sell us berries, of which they had several bushels, some in mokoks of birch bark, others in their greasy blankets.  An old man had taken off his shirt, tied the neck and arms, and filled it half full of huckleberries.  By purchasing some, (not from the shirt or blanket) we obtained an explanation of the nondescript tracks.  There was a large family, all girls, whose feet were deformed in that manner.  It was as though their feet had been split open when young halfway to the instep, and some of the toes lost.  They had that spring met with a great loss by the remorseless bear.  On the north shore, thirty miles east of Duluth, they had a fine sugar orchard, and had made an unusual quantity of sugar.  A part was brought away, and a part was stored high up in trees in mokoks.  There is nothing more tempting than sugar and whiskey to a bear.  When this hard working family returned for their sugar and dried apples, moistened with whiskey, to lure bruin on to his ruin.  A trap fixed with a heavy log is set up across a pen of logs, in the back end of which this bait is left, very firmly tied between two pieces of wood.  This is fastened to a wooden deadfall, supporting one end of a long piece of round timber that has another piece under it.  The bear smells the bait from afar, goes recklessly into the pen, and commences to gnaw the pieces of wood; before he gets much of the bait the upper log falls across his back, crushing him upon the lower one, where, if he is not killed, his hind legs are paralyzed.  These deadly pens are found everywhere in the western forests.  Two bears ranging along the south shore of English Lake, in Ashland County, Wisconsin, discovered some kegs of whiskey which contraband dealers had concealed there.  With blows from their heavy paws they broke in the heads of the kegs and licked up the contents.  They were soon in a very maudlin state, rolling about on the ground, embracing each other in an affectionate manner and vainly trying to go up the trees.  Before the debauch was ended they were easily captured by a party of half-breeds.  There are Indians who acknowledge the bear to be a relation, and profess a dislike to kill them.  When they do they apologize, and say they do it because they are “buckoda,” or because it is necessary.

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

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

At Ontonagon, a very sorry looking young Indian came out of a lodge on the west side of the river and expressed a desire to take passage in our boat.  There had been a great drunk in that lodge the day before.  The squaws were making soup of the heads of white fish thrown away by the white fishermen.  Some of the men were up, others oblivious to everything.  Our passenger did not become thoroughly sober until towards evening.  We passed the Lone Rock and encamped abreast of the Porcupine Mountains.  Here he recovered his appetite.  The next day, near the Montreal River, a squaw was seen launching her canoe and steering for us.  She accosted the young fellow, demanding a keg of whiskey.  He said nothing.  She had given him furs enough to purchase a couple of gallons and he had made the purchase, but between himself and his friends it had completely disappeared.  The old hag was also fond of whiskey.  The fraud and disappointment put her into a rage that was absolutely fiendish.  Her haggard face, long, coarse, greasy, black hair, voluble tongue and shrill voice perfected that character.

Turning into the mouth of the river we found a party from Lake Flambeau fishing in the pool at the foot of the Great Fall.  Their success had not been good, and of course they were hungry.  One of our men spilled some flour on the sand, of which he could save but little.  The Flambeaus were delighted, and, gathering up sand and flour together, put the mixture in their kettle.  The sand settled at the bottom, and the flour formed an excellent porridge for hungry aboriginees.

Mushinnewa and Waubannika cannot be identified without additional biographical information.
Mushinnewa” is “Maazhiniwe” which means “Bad to Other Peoples”, implying that he treated himself well while treating other life-forms (such as animals) poorly.
Mizhinawe means “messenger” and is pronounced Me-zhin-ah-way. Mizhinawe’s descendants became the Messenger family in Odanah and they are a highly respected family. Mizhinawe is listed as a signatory on the 1854 Treaty with the Chippewa at La Pointe as a second chief of the La Pointe Band, and his son George Messenger traveled several times to Washington DC to negotiate for the Bad River Band.  The actions of the character “Mushinnewa” described here do not fit with being a highly respected leader.
Transcribed note, dated La Pointe Indian Agency, certifying the good character and disposition of Min-zhe-nah-way, 2nd chief of the Bad River Band of Chippewas, signed by John S. Livermore, Indian Sub-Agent; and a photograph of the original document.
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Mushinnewa and Waubannika, Chippewas, lived at Bad River, near Odana.  Mushinnewa had a very bad reputation among his tribe.  He was not only quarrelsome when drunk, but was not peaceable when sober.  He broke Waubannika’s canoe into fragments, which was resented by the wife of the latter on the spot.  She made use of the awl with which she was sewing the bark on another canoe, as a weapon, and stabbed old Mushinnewa in several places so severely that it was thought he would die.  He threatened to kill her, and she fled with her husband to Lake Flambeau.  But Mushinnewa did not die.  He had a son as little liked by the Odana band as himself.  In a drunken affray at Ontonagon another Indian killed him.  The murderer then took the body in his canoe, brought it to Bad River and delivered it to old Mushinnewa.  According to custom the Indian handed the enraged father the knife with which his son was killed, and baring his breast told him to strike.  The villagers were happy to be rid of the young villain, and took the knife from the hand of his legal avenger.  A barrel of flour covered the body, and before night Mushinnewa adopted the Indian as his son.

Two varieties of willow, the red and the yellow, grow on the low land, at the margin of swamps and streams, which have the name of kinnekinic.  During the day’s journey, a few sticks are cut and carried to the camp.  The outer bark is scraped away from the inner bark, which curls in a fringe around the stick, which is forced in the ground before a hot fire, and occasionally turned.  In the morning it is easily crumpled in the hands, and put into the tobacco pouch.  If they are rich enough to mix a little tobacco with the kinnekinic, it is a much greater luxury.  As they spend a large part of their leisure time in smoking, they are compelled to be content with common willow bark, which is a very weak narcotic.  Tobacco is not grown as far north as the country of the Chippewas, but it is probable they had it through traffic with the tribes of Virginia, North Carolina and the Gulf States, in times very remote.  Pipes are found in the works of the mounds builders that are very ancient, showing that they had something to smoke, which must have been a vegetable.

Detail of Fish Creek Slough (T47N R5W).

Detail of where the “Lake Long” [Lake Owen] and St. Croix foot paths start along Fish Creek.
~ Barber Papers: “Barbers Camp” Fall of 1855

HARRY S. BEESLEY, surveyor, civil engineer and explorer, a pioneer of Lake Superior of 1846. was born in Oxford, England, May 2, 1823. He was educated in England, and went to sea when about the age of sixteen years, at first in the coasting trade, then in the packets from Liverpool to New York. After leaving the sea, he located in Ohio, and remained there until the fall of 1845, and passed the following winter in Chicago. In May of 1846, he came to Lake Superior as a mineral explorer; in July of that year, he located a nine mile permit on the Ontonagon River joining the Norwich. In 1849, he assisted Col. C. C. Whittlesey, in his geological surveys on the south shore of Lake Superior. He has held the office of County Surveyor a number of years, and laid out the principal roads and several of the villages in this section of the country.”
History of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, by Western Historical Co., 1883, page 276
Whittlesey and Beesley had two voyaguer guides from La Pointe named Antoine Connoyer and Paul Soulies.

Staggering around in a drunken crowd at La Pointe was a handsome Chippewa buck, as happy as whiskey can make any one.  The tomahawk pipe is not an instrument of war, though it has that form.  Its external aspect is that of a real tomahawk, intended to let out the brains of the foe.  It is made of cast iron, with a round hollow poll, about the size of a pipe.  The helm or handle is the stem, frequently decorated in the height of savage art, with ribbons, porcupine quills, paint and feathers.  One thoroughly adorned in this manner has aperatures through the handle cross wise, so large and numerous that it is a mechanical wonder how the smoke can be drawn through it to the mouthpiece.  No Indian is without a pipe of some kind, very likely one that is an heirloom from his ancestors.  It is only in a passion that his knife or tomahawk pipe becomes dangerous.  This genial buck had been struck with the poll of such a pipe when all hands were fighting drunk.  It had cut a clear round hole in his head, hear the top, sinking a piece of skull with the skin and hair well into his brains.  A surgeon with his instrument could not have made a more perfect incision.  Inflammation had not set in and he was too busy with his boon companions to think of the wound.  It was about twenty-four hours after it occurred when he stepped into his canoe and departed.  When Mr. Beasley went up the Fish River, a few days afterwards a funeral was going on at the intersection of the Lake Long and the St. Croix trails, and the corpse had a cut in the head made by the pole of a tomahawk.  From this event, no doubt, a family quarrel commenced that may continue till the race is extinct.  The injured spirit of the fallen Indian demands revenge.  In the exercise of retaliation it may be carried by his relations a little beyond retaliating justice, which will call on the other side for a victim, and so on to other generations.

Chequamegon History recommends the book The Shaman: Patterns of Religious Healing Among the Ojibway Indians by John A. Grim, 1987.

In a lodge between the agency and the mission there was a young girl very sick.  Probably it is my duty to say that she was not only young but beautiful, but at this time she was only wretched.  Whether in her best health and estate the term beauty could be applied I very much doubt, as such cases are extremely rare among Indians, compared by our standard.  A “grand medicine” had been got up expressly for the purpose of curing her.  The medicine lodge was about thirty feet in length, made of green boughs.  The feast, without which no evil spirit would budge one inch, had been swallowed, and the dance was at its height, in which some women were mingled with the men.  Their shrieks, yelling and gesticulations should have frightened away all the matchi-manitous at La Pointe.  The mother of the girl seemed to be full of joy, the bad spirit which afflicted her child was so near being expelled.  As they made the circuit of the dance they thrust a large knife into the air towards the northwest, by which they gave the departing demon a stab as he made his escape from the lodge.  This powow raged around the poor girl all the afternoon and till midnight, when the medicine man pronounced her safe.  Before sundown the next day we saw them law her in a shallow grave, covered with cedar bark.

Father Nicolas Perrot ~ Wikipedia.org

Father Nicolas Perrot
~ Wikipedia.org

Father Perret, who was among the Natches as far back as 1730, gives a portrait of a medicine man of that tribe at that time.  It answers so well for those I have seen among the Chippewas that I give his description at length.  For the Chippewa juggler I must except, however, the practice of abstinence and also the danger of losing his head.  A feast is the first thing and the most essential.

“This nation, like all others, has its medicine man.  They are generally old men, who, without study or science, undertake to cure all complaints.  All their art consists in different jugglings, that is to say, they sing and dance night and day about the sick man, and smoke without ceasing, swallowing the smoke of the tobacco.  These jugglers eat scarcely anything while engaged with the sick, but their chants and dances are accompanied by contortions so violent that, although they are entirely naked and should suffer from cold, they are always foaming at the mouth.  They have a little basket in which they keep what they call their spirits, that is to say, roots of different kinds, heads of owls, parcels of the hair of deer, teeth of animals, pebbles and other trifles.  To restore health to the sick they invoke without ceasing something they have in their basket.  Sometimes they cut with a flint the part afflicted, suck out the blood, and in returning it immediately to the disk they spit out a piece of wood, straw or leather, which they have concealed under their tongue.  Drawing the attention of the sick man, ‘there,’ they say, ‘is the cause of his sickness.’  These medicine men are always paid in advance.  If the sick man recovers their gain is considerable, but if he dies they are sure to have their heads cut off by his relations.”

"Osawgee Beach" postcard, circa 1920. ~ Zenith City Online

Osawgee Beach.  Superior, Wis.” postcard, circa 1920:
“Ojibwe chief Joseph Osawgee was born in Michigan in 1802 and came to Wisconsin Point as a young boy. There he established Superior’s first shipyard—a canoe-making outfit along the Nemadji River near Wisconsin Point. His birch bark canoes supplied transportation for both Ojibwe trappers and French Voyageurs. Chief Osawgee signed the 1854 Treaty of La Pointe on behalf of the Fond du Lac Ojibwe—and subsequently lost his land. He died in Solon Springs, Wisconsin, in 1876.”
~ Zenith City Online

Ozaagii ~ Geni.com

Joseph Ozaagii
~ Geni.com

“Chief Joseph Osaugie was born in April of 1802 at Lac Vieux Desert, Michigan. He moved to Wisconsin Point as a young man and was made a Chief by President Franklin Pierce.”
~ Indian Country Today Media Network
There is a native oral history about Ozaagii available in the WPA Project in Reel 1; Envelope 3: Item 10:
“Chief O-sau-gie Built First ‘Ships’ in City of Superior (He Was Head of Small Chippewa Band when Superior was Tiny Spot)”
John S. Livermore was stationed at the La Pointe Indian sub-Agency, and wrote a letter defending Mizhinawe’s honor.

As a rare example of the industry and probity among northern Indians, I take pleasure in recording the name of Osagi.  His hunting ground and sugar camp lay to the west of La Pointe, on Cranberry River, where he had a cabin.  In traversing that region I had as a guide a rude map and sketch of the streams made by him on a sheet of post office paper with a red pencil.  Osagi was never idle and never drunk.  Dr. Livermore was at this time the agent for the tribes at the west end of Lake Superior, and related the following instance of attention and generosity which is worthy of being reported.  Osagi frequently made the agency presents, and Dr. Livermore, of course, did the same to his Otchipwee friends.  Late in the fall, as the fishing season was about to close, he sent a barrel of delicious trout and white fish to the agency, which, by being hung up separately, would in this cool climate remain good all winter.  The interpreter left a message from the donor with the fish, that he did not want any present in return, because in such a case there would be on his part no gifts, and he wished to make a gift.  Dr. Livermore assented, but replied that if Osagi should ever be in need the agent expected to be informed of it.  During the next winter a message came to Dr. Livermore stating that his friend wanted nothing, but that a young man, his cousin, was just in from Vermillion Lake, where he lived.  The young man’s father and family could no longer take fish at Vermillion, and had started for Fonddulac.  The old man was soon attacked by rheumatism, and for many days the whole party had been without provisions.  Would the agent make his uncle a present of some flour?  Of course this was done, and the young messenger started with a horse load of eatables for the solitary lodge of his father, on the St. Louis River, two hundred miles distant.  This exemplary Indian, by saving his annuities, and by his economy, had accumulated money enough to buy a piece of land, and placed it in the hands of the agent.  when the surveyors had subdivided the township opposite La Pointe, on the mainland, he bought a fraction and removed his family to it as a permanent home.  In a few months the small pox swept off every member of that family but the mother.

[CHARLES WHITTLESEY.]

 


 

To be continued in Among The Otchipwees: III

Land Office Frauds

March 25, 2016

By Amorin Mello

New York Times

December 9, 1858

—~~~0~~~—

Land Office Frauds.

—~~~0~~~—

AGRICULTURAL CAPABILITIES HEREABOUT – LOCAL AMUSEMENTS AND EXCITEMENTS – SETTLEMENTS OF SUPERIOR CITY – A CONTROVERSY, AND SECRETARY M’CLELLAND’S ADJUDICATION OF IT – SECRETARY THOMPSON’S REVERSAL OF THAT JUDGEMENT – ITS CONSEQUENCES – LAND-STEALING RAMPANT – INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE ENTRY OF SUPERIOR CITY – THE LAND OFFICE REPEALS THE LAW OF THE LAND – A CASE FOR INVESTIGATION.

Correspondence of the New-York Times.

SUPERIOR CITY, Wis., Thursday, Nov. 25.

I am booked here for another winter, but fortunately with no fear of starvation this time.  We have been most successful the last Summer in our Agricultural labors.  The clay soils about here has proved marvelously fruitful, and where we expected little or nothing it has turned out huge potatoes that almost dissolve under the steaming process, and open as white as the inside of a cocoa-nut ; mammoth turnips, as good as turnips can be ; cabbages of enormous size ; and cauliflowers, that queen of vegetables, weighing as much as a child a year old.  There is no reason to fear for the future of this country, now that we can show such vegetable products, and talk of our gardens as well as of our mines, forests, furs, and fisheries.

We are not without our excitements here, too ; though we have no model artists, or theatrical exhibitions, to treat our friends with.  But our little city is now in a state of commotion produced by causes which often agitate frontier life, and sometimes reach the great center with their echo or reverberation.  The Land Office is the great point of interest to frontier men, and the land law is the only jurisprudence save Lynch law, in which we are particularly interested.  And as we have no means of reaching the great Federal legislature, through our Local Presses, we are always glad of an opportunity to be heard through the Atlantic organs, which are heard all over the country, and strike a note which the wind takes up and carries not only to San Francisco, but up here to the mouth of the St. Louis River, the hereafter great local point of Pacific and Atlantic intercommunication.

Eye of the Northwest, pg. 8

The Eye of the Northwest, pg. 8: James Stinson; Benjamin Thompson; W. W. Corcoran; U. S. Senator Robert J Walker; George W Cass; and Horace S Walbridge.

23rd United States Attorney General Caleb Cushing speculated in the St. Croix River valley for land and copper during the 1840s.

Five or six years ago a few American pioneers – stalwart backwoodsmen, undertook to select a town site out here, and did select one in good faith, and with clubs and muskets in had fought off from their premises a gang of Indians who were claiming to preëmpt it as “American citizens.”  The Indians, however, were backup up by a Canadian white man by the name of STINSON, and some of the great speculators who were engaged in another town enterprise alongside here, and this “Indian war” was protracted in the local and general Land Offices some two or three years, when Mr. M’CLELLAND, then Secretary of the Interior, made a final adjudication of all the legal questions involved in the controversy, and sent it back to the Land Office to ascertain and apply the facts to the law as settled, on great deliberation by himself and Mr. CUSHING.

More Proprietors of Supeior from The Eye of the North-west, pg. 9.

More Proprietors of Superior from The Eye of the North-west

, pg. 9: [names are illegible]

4th United States Secretary of the Interior Robert McClelland
5th United States Secretary of the Interior Jacob Thompson.

Meanwhile the original settlers and occupants maintained their adverse possession against the Indians and all the world, and expended a good deal of money in erecting buildings and a pier, and in cutting out streets and in laying out their town, and in carrying on their litigation, which was by no means inexpensive.  M’CLELLAND’s determination of the law in their favor encouraged them to go on and incur additional expenses ; and they parted with diverse interests in the town site, some by assignment to persons who advanced money, and some by sale on quit-claim to persons who covenanted to make improvements.  They made application to the proper office to enter the site, and nobody objected but the Indians – and the Indians were nowhere.  So things stood when the case went back to the General Land Office, and to Mr. Secretary THOMPSON.  The worthy Secretary, for some cause altogether unaccountable, adopted the extraordinary (and under the decision of the Supreme Court illegal) course of reversing the final judgement of his predecessor in this very case, (an exercise of power entirely unheard of in a case of mere private right,) and of rejecting the claim of the original occupants and settlers, though it was not contested by somebody who had a better right.

Madison Sweetzer was using Sioux Scrip to claim land, but does not appear to be a mixed blood member of the Sioux/Lakota/Dakota nation.
Commissioner of the General Land Office Thomas Andrews Hendricks later became the 21st Vice President of the United States.

You may well imagine that this decision excited no little astonishment here.  All the land stealers looked upon Superior City as vacant ground.  They thought the men who selected and settled the town site were outlawed, and had no interests.  Some supposed that the Land Office would put the ground up at auction.  A chap by the name of SWEETZER came on here fresh from the General Land Office, and undertook to lay Sioux scrip on the whole site.  Another – one JOHN GRANT – made application to preëmpt a portion of the site – and, what is the most remarkable feature about this business, GRANT was permitted to enter it as a preëmptor, though it was notoriously a selected town site, and in the adverse possession of town claimants half a year before GRANT ever saw it.  This outrage created a great excitement for a small place.  The Register, Mr. DANIEL SHAW, excuses himself by saying that he was almost expressly ordered by HENDRICKS to issue the certificate to GRANT, but this we do not believe in these parts.  SHAW is clever, and covers his tracks, but nobody here supposes that the Commissioner ever countenanced such a gross violation of a public statute, without a motive.  And what motive could the Commissioner have?

But, besides these movements, one of the Indians – ROY by name, who was defeated as one of the claimants by preëmeption – is now seeking to locate his Chippewa scrip on the town-site, and it is supposed that the same influences which urged him as an American citizen will support his claim as an Indian.  A white man by the name of KINGSBURY, encouraged by the disregard of law exhibited by the local office, has made a claim on another part of the town-site.  This purports to have originated in the fourth year of a litigation between the town claimants and the illegal preëmptors, and is supposed to be stimulated and encouraged by the Register.

Subsequently to his original rejection of the town-site claim, Mr. Secretary THOMPSON issued instructions to permit the entry, and the County Judge made application on the 18th instant, under the law of the United States, May 23, 1844.  On this being known, some of the persons heretofore claiming under the original settlers and occupants (who had selected the town and paid all the expenses of the settlement) came together and formed an organization as a city, under a recent law of Wisconsin, the object of which they declare to be secure to themselves a title from the United States to the lots they specially occupy, and to sell the balance to defray their expenses in entering and alloting the land!  The men whose rights vested under the absolute decision of Secretary MCCLELLAND, and who did all that they could do to enter the land, and paid the money for it more than two years ago, – the men whose “respective INTERESTS” the statute of 1844 recognizes and was designed to protect, – these men are all ruled off the course, and the men claiming under them have conspired to divide the land and its proceeds among themselves.

Preemption Act of 1841

Of course these iniquitous and illegal proceedings are all within the reach of the Courts – but they are the legitimate consequence of Mr. JACOB THOMPSON’s repeal of so much of the Preëmption Law of 1841 as excludes from preëmption those portions of the public lands that have been “selected as the site of a city or town.”  Mr. THOMPSON has overruled all his predecessors, all the Attorney-General, all the local offices, all the lexicographers, and the English language generally, by deciding solemnly that “selection” does not mean “selection,” but means something else – or more particularly nothing at all.  Because, says he, if adverse “selection” excluded a preëmptor, then a preëmptor might be excluded by a false allegation of selection.  Was there ever such an argal since Dogberry’s time?  The Secretary has discovered an equally efficient “dispensing power” with that of King JAMES of blessed memory, and one which his brethren in the Cabinet may use very efficiently, if Congress does not look into the subject and fix some limits to it. For now, not only the Secretary, but the Commissioner, and the Register and Receiver, all think that they are at liberty to treat the repeal by the Secretary as an effective nullification of the law of the land.

Receiver Eliab B Dean Jr and Register Daniel Shaw were at the Superior City Land Office.

If Congress would amuse their leisure a little by looking at these land office operations on the verge of civilization, they would strike a placer of corruption.  Let them open the books and call for the documents, and see what Dr. T. RUSH SPENSER, late Register of the Willow River District, says of his predecessor and successor, Mr. JOHN O. HENNING, and then ascertain by what influences HENNING has been reappointed, and SPENSER transferred to Superior.  Let them find out what Receiver DEAN said of Register SHAW, and what Register SHAW said of Receiver DEAN, and why DEAN was dismissed and why SHAW was retained.  It will be rare fun for somebody.  The country ought to know something about the Land Offices, and such an investigation as this would enlighten the country very materially.  I hope it will be made, and that the country will learn how it is that more land has been entered in this district by Indians, foreigners, and minors than by qualified preëmptors, and all for the benefit of a few favored speculators.

By Amorin Mello

United States. Works Progress Administration:

Chippewa Indian Historical Project Records 1936-1942  

(Northland Micro 5; Micro 532)

12th President Zachary Taylor gave the 1849 Removal Order while he was still in office. The 1852 meeting in Washington, D.C. was with 13th President Millard Fillmore. ~ 1848 presidential campaign poster from the Library of Congress

12th President Zachary Taylor gave the 1849 Removal Order while he was still in office. During 1852, Chief Buffalo and his delegation met 13th President Millard Fillmore in Washington, D.C., to petition against this Removal Order.
~ 1848 presidential campaign poster from the Library of Congress

Reel 1; Envelop 1; Item 14.

The Removal Order of 1849

By Jerome Arbuckle

After the war of 1812 the westward advance of the people of the United States of was renewed with vigor.  These pioneers were imbued with the idea that the possessions of the Indian tribes, with whom they came in contact, were for their convenience and theirs for the taking.  Any attempt on the part of the aboriginal owners to defend their ancestral homes were a signal for a declaration of war, or a punitive expedition, which invariably resulted in the defeat of the Indians.

“Peace Treaties,” incorporating terms and stipulations suitable particularly to the white man’s government, were then negotiated, whereby the Indians ceded their lands, and the remnants of the dispossessed tribe moved westward.  The tribes to the south of the Great Lakes, along the Ohio Valley, were the greatest sufferers from this system of acquisition.

Another system used with equal, if less sanguinary success, was the “treaty system.”  Treaties of this type were actually little more than  receipt signed by the Indian, which acknowledged the cessions of huge tracts of land.  The language of the treaties, in some instances, is so plainly a scheme for the dispossession and removal of the Indians that it is doubtful if the signers for the Indians understood the true import of the document.  Possibly, and according to the statements handed down from the Indians of earlier days to the present, Indians who signed the treaties were duped and were the victims of treachery and collusion.

By the terms of the Treaties of 1837 and 1842, the Indians ceded to the Government all their territory lying east of the Mississippi embracing the St. Croix district and eastward to the Chocolate River.  The Indians, however, were ignorant of the fact that they had ceded these lands.  According to the terms, as understood by them, they were permitted to remain within these treaty boundaries and continue to enjoy the privileges of hunting, fishing, ricing and the making of maple sugar, provided they did not molest their white neighbors; but they clearly understood that the Government was to have the right to use the timber and minerals on these lands.

Entitled "Chief Buffalo's Petition to the President" by the Wisconsin Historical Society, this famous symbolic petition was made and delivered completely independently of Chief Buffalo from La Pointe. Or anyone else from the La Pointe Band for that matter. See Chequamegon History's original post for more information.

Entitled Chief Buffalo’s Petition to the President by the Wisconsin Historical Society, the story behind this now famous symbolic petition is actually unrelated to Chief Buffalo from La Pointe, and was created before the Sandy Lake Tragedy. It is a common error to mis-attribute this to Chief Buffalo’s trip to Washington D.C., which occurred after that Tragedy.  See Chequamegon History’s original post for more information.

Detail of Benjamin Armstrong from a photograph by Matthew Brady (Minnesota Historical Society)

Detail of Benjamin Armstrong from a photograph by Matthew Brady (Minnesota Historical Society).  See our Armstrong Engravings post for more information.

Their eyes were opened when the Removal Order of 1849 came like a bolt from the blue.  This order cancelled the Indians’ right to hunt and fish in the territory ceded, and gave notification for their removal westward.  According to Verwyst, the Franciscan Missionary, many left by reason of this order, and sought a refuge among the westernmost of their tribe who dwelt in Minnesota.

Many of the full bloods, who naturally had a deep attachment for their home soil, refused to budge.  The chiefs who signed the treaty were included in this action.  They then concluded that they were duped by the Treaty Commissioners and were given a faulty interpretation of the treaty passages.  Although the Chippewa realized the futility of armed resistance, those who chose to remain unanimously decided to fight it out.  A few white men who were true friends of the Indians, among these was Ben Armstrong, the adopted son of the Head Chief, Buffalo, and he cautioned the Indians against any show of hostility.

See our posts on Chief Buffalo Picture Search and Oshogay for more information about these legendary leaders of the Lake Superior Chippewa.

At a council, Armstrong prevailed upon the chiefs to make a trip to Washington.  Accordingly, preparations for the trip were made, a canoe of special make being constructed for the journey.  After cautioning the tribesmen to remain calm, pending their return, they set out for Washington in April, 1852.  The party was composed of Buffalo, the head Chief, and several sub-chiefs, one of whom was Oshoga, who later became a noted man among the Chippewa.  Armstrong was the interpreter and director of the party.  The delegation left La Pointe and proceeded by way of the Great Lakes as far as Buffalo, N. Y., and then by rail to Washington.  They stopped at the white settlements along the route and their leader, Mr. Armstrong, circulated a petition among the white people.  This petition, which was to be presented to the President, urged that the Chippewa be permitted to remain in their own country and the Removal Order reconsidered.  Many signatures were obtained, some of the signers being acquaintances of the President, whose signatures he later recognized.

Despite repeated attempts of arbitrary agents, who were employed by the government to administer Indian affairs, and who endeavored to return them back or discourage the trip, they resolutely persisted.  The party arrived at Buffalo, New York, practically penniless.  By disposing of some Indian trinkets, and by putting the chief on exhibition, they managed to acquire enough money to defray their expenses until they finally arrived at Washington.

Here it seemed their troubles were to begin.  They were refused an audience with those persons who might have been able to assist them.  Through the kind assistance of Senator Briggs of New York, they eventually managed to arrange for an interview with President Fillmore.

United States Representative George Briggs. ~ Library of Congress

United States Representative George Briggs was helpful in getting an audience with President Millard Fillmore.
~ Library of Congress

At the appointed time they assembled for the interview and after smoking the peace pipe offered by Chief Buffalo, the “Great White Father” listened to their story of conditions in the Northwest.  Their petition was presented and read and the meeting adjourned.  President Fillmore, deeply impressed by his visitors, directed that their expenses should be paid by the Government and that they should have the freedom of the city for a week.

Vincent Roy, Jr., portrait from "Short biographical sketch of Vincent Roy, [Jr.,]" in Life and Labors of Rt. Rev. Frederic Baraga, by Chrysostom Verwyst, 1900, pages 472-476.

Vincent Roy, Jr., was also on this famous trip to Washington, D.C.  For more information, see this excerpt from Vincent Roy Jr’s biography.

At a second interview the President assured them that their request was granted; that they might remain in the territory in question and that he would countermand the Removal Order.  He, furthermore, instructed them that on their return to their homes they should call an assembly of their people at Madeline Island, and prepare for a new treaty in September, 1854.

Their mission was accomplished and all were happy.  They had achieved what they sought.  An uprising of their people had been averted in which thousands of human lives might have been cruelly slaughtered; so with light hearts they prepared for their homeward trip.  Their fare was paid and they returned by rail by way of St. Paul, Minnesota, which was as near as they could get by rail to their homes.  From St. Paul they traveled overland, a distance of over two hundred miles, overland.  Along the route they frequently met with bands of Chippewa, whom they delighted with the information of the successes of their trip.  These groups they instructed to repair to Madeline Island for the treaty at the time stipulated.

Upon their arrival at their own homes, the successes of the delegation was hailed with joy.  Runners were dispatched to notify the entire Chippewa nation.  As a consequence, many who had left their homes in compliance with the Removal Order now returned.

When the time for the treaty drew near, the Chippewa began to arrive at the Island from all directions.  Finally, after careful deliberations, the treaty of 1854 was concluded.  This treaty provided for several reservations within the ceded territory.  These were Ontonagon and L’Anse, in the present state of Michigan, Lac du Flambeau, Bad River or La Pointe, Red Cliff, and Lac Courte Oreille, in Wisconsin, and Fond du Lac and Grand Portage in Minnesota.

It was at this time that the Chippewa mutually agreed to separate into two divisions, making the Mississippi the dividing line between the Mississippi Chippewa and the Lake Superior Chippewa, and allowing each division the right to deal separately with the Government.

By Amorin Mello

Vincent Roy Jr

Portrait of Vincent Roy, Jr., from “Short biographical sketch of Vincent Roy,” in Life and Labors of Rt. Rev. Frederic Baraga, by Chrysostom Verwyst, 1900, pages 472-476.

Miscellaneous materials related to Vincent Roy,

1861-1862, 1892, 1921

Wisconsin Historical Society

“Miscellaneous items related to Roy, a fur trader in Wisconsin of French and Chippewa Indian descent including a sketch of his early years by Reverend T. Valentine, 1896; a letter to Roy concerning the first boats to go over the Sault Ste. Marie, 1892; a letter to Valentine regarding an article on Roy; an abstract and sketch on Roy’s life; a typewritten copy of a biographical sketch from the Franciscan Herald, March 1921; and a diary by Roy describing a fur trading journey, 1860-1861, with an untitled document in the Ojibwe language (p. 19 of diary).”


 

St. Agnes’ Church

205 E. Front St.
Ashland, Wis., June 27 1903

Reuben G. Thwaites

Sec. Wisc. Hist Soc. Madison Wis.

Dear Sir,

I herewith send you personal memories of Hon. Vincent Roy, lately deceased, as put together by Rev. Father Valentine O.F.M.  Should your society find them of sufficient historical interest to warrant their publication, you will please correct them properly before getting them printed.

Yours very respectfully,

Fr. Chrysostom Verwyst O.F.M. 

 


 

~ Biographical Sketch – Vincent Roy. ~

~ J. Apr. 2. 1896 – Superior, Wis. ~

 

I.

Vincent Roy was born August 29, 1825, the third child of a family of eleven children.  His father Vincent Roy Sen. was a halfblood Chippewa, so or nearly so was his mother, Elisabeth Pacombe.1

Three Generations:
I. Vincent Roy
(1764-1845)
II. Vincent Roy, Sr.
(1795-1872)
III. Vincent Roy, Jr.
(1825-1896)

His grandfather was a french-canadian who located as a trader for the American Fur Company first at Cass Lake Minn, and removed in 1810 to the bank of Rainy River at its junction with Little Fork, which is now in Itasca Co. Minn.2  At this place Vincent saw at first the light of the world and there his youth passed by.  He had reached his twentieth year, when his grandfather died, who had been to him and all the children an unmistakable good fortune.

‘I remember him well,’ such are Vincent’s own words when himself in his last sickness.3  ‘I remember him well, my grandfather, he was a well-meaning, God-fearing frenchman.  He taught me and all of us to say our prayers and to do right.  He prayed a great deal.  Who knows what might have become of us, had he not been.’

The general situation of the family at the time is given by Peter Roy thus:4

“My grandfather must have had about fifty acres of land under cultivation.  About the time I left the place (1839) he used to raise quite a lot of wheat, barley, potatoes and tobacco – and had quite a lot of stock, such as horses, cattle, hogs and chickens.  One winter about twenty horses were lost; they strayed away and started to go back to Cass Lake, where my grandfather first commenced a farm.  The horses came across a band of Indians and were all killed for food. – When I got to be old enough to see what was going on my father was trading with the Bois Forte bands of Chippewa Indians.  he used to go to Mackinaw annually to make his returns and buy goods for a year’s supply.”

This trading of the Roys with the Indians was done in commission from the American Fur Company; that is they were conducting one of the many trading posts of this Company.  What is peculiar is that they were evidently set up to defeat the hostile Hudson Bay Company, which had a post at Fort St. Francis, which was across the river, otherwise within sight.  Yet, the Roys appear to have managed things peaceably, going at pleasure to the Fort at which they sold the farm-products that were of no use to themselves.

 

II.  

LaPointe – School – Marriage

Grandfather Roy died and was buried on the farm in 1845.  Soon after, the family broke away from the old homestead and removed to LaPointe, where a boy had been placed at school already 6 or 7 years before.5

“About the year 1838 or 1839,” says Peter Roy,6 “my father took me down to LaPointe, it then being the headquarters of the American Fur Company.  He left me with my uncle Charles LaRose. (Mr. LaRose was married to his mother’s sister.)  At that time my uncle was United States interpreter for Daniel P. Bushnell, U.S. Indian Agent.  I went to the missionary school (presbyterian), which was under the charge of Rev. Sherman Hall.  Grenville T. Sprout was the teacher.”

1839 official register la pointe agency

Officers | Where employed | Where born | Compensation
~ “War Department – Indian Agencies,” Official Register of the United States, 1839

The family was acting on wise principles.  Where they lived church and school were things unknown and would remain such for yet an indefinite future.  The children were fast growing from under the care of their parents; yet, they were to be preserved to the faith and to civilization.  It was intended to come more in touch with either.  LaPointe was then a frontier-town situated on Madaline Island; opposite to what is now Bayfield Wis.  Here Father Baraga had from upwards ten years attended the spiritual wants of the place.

1843 view of La Pointe

“View of La Pointe,” circa 1842.
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Our Vincent came, of course, along etc. etc. with the rest.  Here for the first time in his life, he came within reach of a school which he might have attended.  He was however pretty well past school age.  The fact is he did not get to see the inside of a school a ten months and may be, much less, as there is an opinion he became an employ for salary in 1845, which was the year of his arrival.7  But with his energy of will made up for lack of opportunity.  More than likely his grandfather taught him the first rudiments, upon which he kept on building up his store of knowledge by self-instruction.

‘At any spare moment,’ it is said,8 ‘he was sure to be at some place where he was least disturbed working at some problem or master some language lesson.  He acquired a good control of the English language; his native languages – French and Ojibway – were not neglected, & he nibbled even a little at Latin, applying the knowledge he acquired of that language in translating a few church hymns into his native Ojibway.  Studying turned into a habit of life with him.  When later on he had a store of his own, he drew the trade of the Scandinavians of that locality just because he had picked up quite a few words of their language.  Having heard a word he kept repeating it half loud to himself until he had it well fixed on his memory and the stock laid up in this manner he made use of in a jovial spirit as soon as often as an opportunity was open for it.’

"Boardwalk leading to St. Joseph's Catholic Church in La Pointe." Photograph by Whitney and Zimmerman, circa 1870. ~ Wisconsin Historical Society

“Boardwalk leading to St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in La Pointe.” Photograph by Whitney and Zimmerman, circa 1870.
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

About three years after his coming to LaPointe, Vincent chose for his life’s companion Elisabeth Cournoyer.  The holy bond of matrimony between them was blessed by Reverend Otto Skolla in the LaPoint catholic church, August 13th, 1848.  They did not obtain the happiness to see children born to them.  Yet, they lived with each other nearly 48 years and looking back over those years there appears nothing which could not permit their marriage to be called a happy one.  Their home had a good ordinary measure of home sunshine in which, in a way, children came yet to do their share and have their part.

 

III.  

His occupation.

Vincent was employed in the interest of the fur trade with little intermission up to the forty third year of his life and thereafter until he retired from business he was engaged in keeping a general store.

“Lapointe was a quiet town in the early days and many Indians lived there. The government pay station was there and the Indians received certain monies from the government.”
The Austrians, a fine Jewish family, established a store and maintained a good Indian trade.”
“Knowing the Indians lack of providing for the future, the Austrians always laid in extra supplies for the winter and these were doled out when necessary.”
~ Tales of Bayfield Pioneers by Eleanor Knight, 2008.

Mr. and Mrs. Julius Austrian were among the first settlers. Splendid people they were and especially kind to the Indians. It was their custom to lay in extra supplies of flour and corn meal for they knew the Indians would be begging for them before the winter was over. On this particular occassion the winter had been extra cold and long. Food supplies were running low. The Indians were begging for food every day and it was hard to refuse them. The flour was used up and the corn meal nearly so. Still Mrs. Austrian would deal it out in small quantities. Finally they were down to the last sack, and then to the last panful. She gave the children half of this for their supper, but went to bed without tasting any herself. About midnight she was awakened by the cry of ‘Steamboat! Steamboat!’ And looking out the window she saw the lights of the North Star approaching the dock. She said that now she felt justified in going downstairs and eating the other half of the corn bread that was left.”
~ The Lake Superior Country in History and in Story by Guy M. Burnham, 1930, pg. 288.

It was but natural that Vincent turned to the occupation of his father and grandfather.  There was no other it may have appeared to him to choose.  He picked up what was lying in his way and did well with it.  From an early age he was his father’s right hand and business manager.9  No doubt, intelligent and clever, as he was, his father could find no more efficient help, who, at the same time, was always willing and ready to do his part.  Thus he grew up.  By the time the family migrated south, he was conversant with the drift of the indian trade knowing all its hooks and crooks; he spoke the language of the indians and had their confidence; he was swift a foot and enduring against the tear and wear in frontier life; and there was no question but that he would continue to be useful in frontier business.

Leopold and Austrian (Jews) doing a general merchandize and fur-trading business at LaPointe were not slow in recognizing ‘their man.’  Having given employment to Peter Roy, who by this time quit going to school, they also, within the first year of his arrival at this place, employed Vincent to serve as handy-man for all kind of things, but especially, to be near when indians from the woods were coming to trade, which was no infrequent occurrence.  After serving in that capacity about two years, and having married, he managed (from 1848 to 1852) a trading post for the same Leopold and Austrian;10 at first a season at Fond du Lac, Minn., then at Vermillion Lake, and finally again at Fond du Lac.11  Set up for the sole purpose to facilitate the exchange trade carried on with the indians, those trading-posts, nothing but log houses of rather limited pretensions, were nailed up for the spring and summer to be reopened in the fall.  Vincent regularly returned with his wife to LaPointe.  A part of the meantime was then devoted to fishing.12

A Dictionary of the Otchipwe Language, Explained in English was published by Bishop Frederic Baraga in 1853.

It was also in these years that Vincent spent a great deal of the time, which was at his disposal, with Father Frederic Baraga assisting him in getting up the books of the Ojibway language, which that zealous man has left.13

In the years which then followed Vincent passed through a variety of experience.

 

IV.  

His first Visit to Washington, D.C. – The Treaty of LaPointe.

Read Chief Buffalo Really Did Meet The President on Chequamegon History for more context about this trip.

At the insistence of Chief Buffalo and in his company Vincent made his first trip to Washington D.C.  It was in the spring of the year 1852. – Buffalo (Kechewaishke), head chief of the Lake Superior Ojibways had seen the day, when his people, according to indian estimation, was wealthy and powerful, but now he was old and his people sickly and starving poor.  Vincent referring once to the incidents of that time spoke about in this way:14

“He (Buffalo) and the other old men of the tribe, his advisors, saw quite well that things could not go on much longer in the way they had done.  The whites were crowding in upon them from all sides and the U.S. government said and did nothing.  It appeared to these indians their land might be taken from them without they ever getting anything for it.  They were scant of food and clothing and the annuities resulting from a sale of their land might keep them alive yet for a while.  The sire became loud that it might be tried to push the matter at Washington admitting that they had to give up the land but insisting they be paid for it.  Buffalo was willing to go but there was no one to go with him.  He asked me to go with him.  As I had no other business just then on hand I went along.”

Ashland, Wisconsin, is named in honor of Henry Clay’s Estate.

They went by way of the lakes.  Arriving at Washington, they found the City and the capitol in a barb of morning and business suspended.15  Henry Clay, the great statesman and orator, had died (June 29) and his body was lying in state.  Vincent said:

“we shook hands and spoke with the President (Fillmore) and with some of the headmen of the government.  They told us that they could not do anything at the moment, but that our petition should be attended to as soon as possible.  Unable to obtain any more, we looked around a few days and returned home”.

The trip had entailed a considerable drain on their private purses and the result towards the point at issue for them, the selling of the land of the indians, was not very apparent.

Henry C. Gilbert ~ Branch County Photographs

Henry C. Gilbert
~ Branch County Photographs

After repeated urging and an interval of over two years, during which Franklin Pierce had become President of the United States, the affairs of these Indians were at last taken up and dealt with at LaPointe by Henry C. Gilbert and David B. Herriman, commissioners on the part of the United States.  A treaty was concluded, September 30th, 1854.  The Lake Superior Ojibways thereby relinquished their last claims to the soil of northwest Michigan, north east Wisconsin and an adjoining part of Minnesota, and, whilst it was understood that the reserves, at L’Anse Michigan, Odanah, and Courte Oreille Wisconsin and Fond du Lac Minnesota, were set apart for them, they received in consideration of the rest the aggregate sum of about four hundred and seventy five thousand dollars, which, specified as to money and material, ran into twenty years rations.

Chief Buffalo, in consideration of services rendered, was allowed his choice of a section of land anywhere in the ceded terrain.

‘The choice he made,’ it is said,16 ‘were the heights of the city of Duluth; but never complying with the incident law formalities, it matters little that the land became the site of a city, his heirs never got the benefit of it.  Of Vincent who had been also of service to the indians from the first to the last of the deal, it can only be said that he remained not just without all benefit from it.’  

Julius Austrian‘s capitalization of the Mixed Blood clause from the 1854 Chippewa Treaty will be published on Chequamegon History.

A clause was inserted in the treaty (art. 2. n. 7.) 17 by which heads of families and single persons over twenty one years of age of mixed blood were each entitled to take and hold free of further charge eighty acres of the ceded lands.; – this overruled in a simple and direct way the difficulties Vincent had met with of late in trying to make good his claim to such a property.  The advantage here gained was however common to others with him.  For the sacrifices he made of time and money in going with Chief Buffalo to Washington he was not reimbursed, so it is believed, and it is very likely time, judging from what was the case when later on he made the same trip a second time.

 

V.  

The small-pox.

During the two years the Lake Superior indians waited for the United States to settle their claims, important events transpired in which Vincent took part.  In the fall of 1853 those indians were visited by the smallpox which took an epidemic run among them during the following winter.  The first case of that disease appeared in the Roy family and it is made a circumstance somewhat interesting in the way it is given.18  Vincent and his oldest brother John B. were on some business to Madison, Wisconsin.  Returning they went around by way of St. Paul Minnesota to see their brother Peter Roy who was at the time acting representative of a northern district, at the Minnesota territorial legislation which had then, as it seems, convened in extra session.  On the evening previous to their departure from St. Paul, John B. paid a short visit to a family he knew from Madaline Island.  In the house in which that family lived a girl had died about a year before of small-pox, but no one was sick there now at the time of the visit.  If John B.’s subsequent sickness should have to be attributed to infection, it was certainly a peculiar case.  The two brothers started home going by way of Taylor’s Falls, up the St. Croix river on the Wisconsin side, till Yellow Lake river, then through the woods to what is now Bayfield where they crossed over to Madaline Island.  John B. began feeling sick the second day of the journey.  Vincent remembered ever after the anxiety which he experienced on that homeward journey.19  It costed him every effort to keep the energies of his brother aroused.  Had the same been allowed to rest as he desired he had inevitably perished in the woods.  All strengths was however spent and the sick man lay helpless when the boat which carried them from the mainland touched Madaline Island.  Willing hands lifted him from the boat and carried him to his house.  His sickness developed into a severe case of small-pox of which he finally recovered.  The indians of whom the settlement was chiefly made up did not as yet understand the character of that disease which was all the more dangerous with them for their exposed way of living.  Before they were aware of it they were infected.  General sickness soon prevailed.  Deaths followed.  Some fled in dismay from the settlement, but it may be said only to carry the angel of death to other habitations and to die after all.

Several members of the Roy family were laid up with the sickness, none of them died though.20  Vincent had been in close contact with his brother while yet on the road and had been more than any attending his brother and other members of the family in their sickness, yet he passed through the ordeal unscathed.  The visitation cased with the return of spring.

 

VI.  

Superior.

Vincent had barely emerged from the trouble just described when it was necessary for him to exert himself in another direction.  A year or so previously he had taken up a claim of land at the headwaters of Lake Superior and there was improvement now on foot for that part of the country, and danger for his interests.21

Vincent Roy Jr. storage building, circa 1933. The following is a statement by John A. Bardon of Superior accompanying the photography, "Small storehouse building erected by the late Vincent Roy at Old Superior. The timbers are 4' x 8'. After the one mile dike across Superior Bay had served its purpose, it was allowed to gradually go to pieces. The timbers floating in the Bay for a while were a menace to navigation. You would find them drifting when least expected. The U.S. War Department caused the building of this dike from the end of Rice's Point, straight across to Minnesota Point to prevent the waters of the St. Louis River being diverted from the natural entry at Superior, to the newly dug canal, across Minnesota Point in Duluth. The contention was that, if the waters of the St. Louis were diverted, the natural entrance at Superior would become shoaled from lack of the rivers scouring current. However, when the piers were extended into 18 feet of water at both the old entrance and the Duluth Canal, it was found that the currents of the river had no serious effect. The dike was never popular and was always in the way of the traffic between Superior and Duluth. Several openings were made in it to allow the passage of smaller boats. It was finally condemned by the Government Engineers as a menace to navigation. This all happened in the early 70's. This building is now the only authentic evidence of the dike. It is owned by the Superior and Douglas County Historical Society. The writer is the man in the picture." ~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Vincent Roy Jr. storage building, circa 1933.
The following is a statement by John A. Bardon of Superior accompanying the photography, “Small storehouse building erected by the late Vincent Roy [Jr] at Old Superior. The timbers are 4′ x 8′. After the one mile dike across Superior Bay had served its purpose, it was allowed to gradually go to pieces. The timbers floating in the Bay for a while were a menace to navigation. You would find them drifting when least expected. The U.S. War Department caused the building of this dike from the end of Rice’s Point, straight across to Minnesota Point to prevent the waters of the St. Louis River being diverted from the natural entry at Superior, to the newly dug canal, across Minnesota Point in Duluth. The contention was that, if the waters of the St. Louis were diverted, the natural entrance at Superior would become shoaled from lack of the rivers scouring current. However, when the piers were extended into 18 feet of water at both the old entrance and the Duluth Canal, it was found that the currents of the river had no serious effect. The dike was never popular and was always in the way of the traffic between Superior and Duluth. Several openings were made in it to allow the passage of smaller boats. It was finally condemned by the Government Engineers as a menace to navigation. This all happened in the early 70’s. This building is now the only authentic evidence of the dike. It is owned by the Superior and Douglas County Historical Society. The writer is the man in the picture.”
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Detail of Superior City townsite at the head of Lake Superior from 1854 Plat Map of Township 49 North Range 14 West.

Read more about Vincent Roy, Jr.’s town-site at Superior City here on Chequamegon History.

The ship canal at Sault St Marie was in course of construction and it was evidently but a question of days that boats afloat on Lakes Huron and Michigan would be able to run up and unload their cargo for regions further inland somewhere on the shore at the further end of Lake Superior, at which a place, no doubt, a city would be built.  The place now occupied by the city of Superior was suitable for the purposes in view but to set it in order and to own the greatest possible part of it, had become all at the same time the cherished idea of too many different elements as that developments could go on smoothly.  Three independent crews were struggling to establish themselves at the lower or east end of the bay when a fourth crew approached at the upper or west end, with which Vincent, his brother Frank, and others of LaPointe had joined in.22  As this crew went directly to and began operations at the place where Vincent had his property it seems to have been guided by him, though it was in reality under the leadership of Wm. Nettleton who was backed by Hon. Henry M. Rice of St. Paul.23  Without delay the party set to work surveying the land and “improving” each claim, as soon as it was marked off, by building some kind of a log-house upon it.  The hewing of timber may have attracted the attention of the other crews at the lower end about two or three miles off, as they came up about noon to see what was going on. The parties met about halfway down the bay at a place where a small creek winds its way through a rugged ravine and falls into the bay.  Prospects were anything but pleasant at first at the meeting; for a time it seemed that a battle was to be fought, which however did not take place but the parceling out of ‘claims’ was for the time being suspended.  This was in March or April 1854.  Hereafter some transacting went on back the curtain, and before long it came out that the interests of the town-site of Superior, as far as necessary for efficient action, were united into a land company of which public and prominent view of New York, Washington, D.C. and other places east of the Mississippi river were the stockholders.  Such interests as were not represented in the company were satisfied which meant for some of them that they were set aside for deficiency of right or title to a consideration.  The townsite of the Superior of those days was laid out on both sides of the Nemadji river about two or three miles into the country with a base along the water edge about half way up Superior bay, so that Vincent with his property at the upper end of the bay, was pretty well out of the way of the land company, but there were an way such as thought his land a desirable thing and they contested his title in spite of his holding it already for a considerable time.  An argument on hand in those days was, that persons of mixed blood were incapable of making a legal claim of land.  The assertion looks more like a bugaboo invented for the purpose to get rid of persons in the way than something founded upon law and reason, yet at that time some effect was obtained with it.  Vincent managed, however, to ward off all intrusion upon his property, holding it under every possible title, ‘preemption’ etc., until the treaty of LaPointe in the following September, when it was settled upon his name by title of United States scrip so called, that is by reason of the clause,as said above, entered into the second article of that treaty.

The subsequent fate of the piece of land here in question was that Vincent held it through the varying fortune of the ‘head of the lake’ for a period of about thirty six years until it had greatly risen in value, and when the west end was getting pretty much the more important complex of Superior, an English syndicate paid the sum of twenty five thousand dollars, of which was then embodied in a tract afterwards known as “Roy’s Addition”.

 

VII.

– On his farm – in a bivonac – on the ice.

Superior was now the place of Vincent’s home and continued to be it for the remaining time of his life.  The original ‘claim’ shanty made room for a better kind of cover to which of course the circumstances of time, place, and means had still prescribed the outlines.24  Yet Vincent is credited with the talent of making a snug home with little.  His own and his wife’s parents came to live with him.  One day the three families being all seated around a well filled holy-day table, the sense of comfort called forth a remark of Vincent’s mother to her husband:25

“Do you remember, man,” she said, “how you made our Vincent frequently eat his meals on the ground apart from the family-table; now see the way he repays you; there is none of the rest of the children that could offer us as much and would do it in the way he does.”

It was during this time of his farming that Vincent spent his first outdoor night all alone and he never forgot it.26  It was about June.  Spring had just clothed the trees with their full new foliage.  Vincent was taking a run down to Hudson, Wisconsin, walking along the military wagon road which lead from Superior to St. Paul.  Night was lowering when he came to Kettle river.  Just above the slope he perceived a big bushy cedar tree with its dense branches like an inscrutable pyramid set off before the evening light and he was quickly resolved to have his night’s quarters underneath it.  Branches and dry leaves being gathered for a bed, his frugal meal taken he rolled up in the blanket carried along for such purposes, and invited sleep to come and refresh his fatigued mortality.  Little birds in the underbrush along the bank had twittered lower and lower until they slept, the frogs were bringing their concert to a close, the pines and cedars and sparse hardwood of the forest around were quiet, the night air was barely moving a twig; Vincent was just beginning to forget the world about him, when his awakening was brought on upon a sudden.  An unearthly din was filling the air about him.  As quick as he could extricate himself from his blanket, he jumped to his feet.  If ever his hair stood up on end, it did it now; he trembled from head to foot.  His first thoughts as he afterwards said, were, that a band of blood-thirsty savages had discovered his whereabouts and were on the point to dispatch him.  In a few moments, everything around was again dead silence.  He waited, but he heard nothing save the beating of his own heart.  He had no other weapon than a muzzle-loaded pistol which he held ready for his defense.  Nothing coming in upon him, he walked cautiously from under his shelter, watching everything which might reveal a danger.  He observed nothing extraordinary.  Facing about he viewed the tree under which he had tried to sleep.  There! – from near the top of that same tree now, as if it had waited to take in the effect of its freak and to ridicule all his excitement, a screeching owl lazily took wing and disappeared in the night.  The screeching of this bird with its echo in the dead of night multiplied a hundred times by an imagination yet confused from sleep had been the sole cause of disturbance.  Vincent used to say that never in his life he had been so upset as on this night and though all had cleared up as a false alarm, he had had but little sleep when at daybreak he resumed his journey.

Another adventure Vincent had in one of these years on the ice of Lake Superior.27  All the family young and old had been on Bass Island near Bayfield for the purpose of making maple-sugar.  That meant, they had been some three weeks in March-April at work gathering day and night the sap tapped from maple-trees and boiling down to a mass which they stored in birch bark boxed of fifty to hundred and fifty pounds each.  At the end of the season Vincent got his horse and sleigh and put aboard the product of his work, himself, his wife and two young persons, relatives of his wife, followed; they were going home to Superior on the ice of the lake along the shore.  When they came however towards Siskowit bay, instead of following the circuit of the shore, they made directly for Bark Point, which they saw standing out before them.  This brought them out on a pretty big field of ice and the ice was not to be trusted so late in spring as it was now.  Being almost coming in upon the point they all at once noticed the ice to be moving from shore – a split was just crossing through ahead of them.  No time was to be lost.  With a providential presence of mind, Vincent whipped his horse, which seemed to understand the peril of the situation; with all the speed it could gather up in a few paces it jumped across the gap.  The sleigh shooting over the open water struck the further ice edge with a thump yet without harm  – they were safe.

By pressure of other ice wedging in at a distance or from the hold which wind and wave get upon it, a considerable area of ice may, sometimes in spring, break loose with a report as that of a cannon and glide apart some ten feet right out upon the start.  That it happened different this time and that our travelers did not drift out into the lake with a cake of ice however large yet, any thawing away or breaking up under them, was their very good fortune.

 

 VIII.

– Superior’s short-lived prosperity – V. at his old profession – a memorable tour.

Built circa 1857, photographed circa 1930. "The trading post was owned by Vincent Roy. The Roy family was prominent in the early history of the Superior area. The father, Frank Roy, and the sons, Vincent and Peter, signed the 1854 treaty." ~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Built circa 1857, photographed circa 1930.
“The trading post was owned by Vincent Roy [Jr]. The Roy family was prominent in the early history of the Superior area.”
~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Vincent was too near Superior as not to feel the pulsation of her life and to enter into the joys and sorrows of already her infant days.28  The place had fast donned the appearance of a city; streets were graded, lines of buildings were standing, trades were at work.  Indeed, a printing office was putting out at convenient intervals printed matter for the benefit of the commonwealth at home and abroad; then was a transfer of real-estate going on averaging some thousand dollars a week, town lots selling at two to three hundred dollars each; and several stores of general merchandise were doing business.

The scarcity of provision the first winter was but an incident, the last boat which was to complete the supply being lost in a gale.  It did not come to severe suffering and great was the joy, when a boat turned up in spring especially early.

In short, the general outlook had great hopes on the wing for the place, but its misgivings came.  Its life blood ceased to flow in the financial crisis of September 1857, as the capital which had pushed it was no more forthcoming.  It was a regular nor’easter that blew down the young plant, not killing it outright but stunting its growth for many, many years to come.  The place settled down to a mere village of some hundred inhabitants, doing duty of course as county seat but that was not saying much as the whites stood in that part of the country all the way to pretty well up in the eighties.

~ Superior Chronicle, July 7th, 1860.

~ The Superior Chronicle, July 7th, 1860.

About 1856 Vincent embarked again in the profession of his youth, the fur trade.  Alexander Paul who did business in “The Superior Outfit” on Second Street, engaged his services.  After a few years the business passed into the hands of Peter E. Bradshaw; which however did not interfere with Vincent.  He was required to give all his attention to fur and peltry; first to getting them in, then to sorting them and tending to them until they were set off in the east.  His employers had trading posts along the north shore at Grand Marais and Grant Portage, about the border line at the Lakes Basswood, Vermillion and Rainy, then at Lower Red Lake, at Mud Lake east of Leech Lake and at Cross Lake about thirty miles north of Crow Wing Minnesota.  A tour of inspection of these posts was necessary on the average in the fall to see what was needed to be sent out, and in the spring to get home the peltries which had been obtained.29  One tour in which Vincent, Mr. P Bradshaw, Francis Blair, and one or two others, made up the party, was regarded especially memorable.  It was undertaken early in spring, perhaps in February since the calculation was to find brook and lake yet passable on the ice.  The party set out with the usual train of three dogs harnessed to a toboggan which carried as long as the dogs did not give out, the most necessary luggage; to wit, a blanket for each the men to roll up in at night and the supply of food consisting in a packet of cornmeal with a proportionate amount of tallow for the dogs and bacon for the men to add, the Canadian snowshoes being carried in hand any way as long and wherever they would be but an incumbrance to the feet.  Their way led them along the wagon road to Kettle river, then across the country passing Mille lac Lake to Crow Wing, then northward to touch their posts of Cross and Mud Lake, moving nearly always on the ice in that region of lakes in which the Mississippi has its beginning.  After leaving the Mud Lake post a swamp of more than a day in crossing was to be traversed to reach the Red Lake post.  They were taking the usual trail but this time they were meeting more than usual inconvenience.  They had been having a few days soft weather and here where the water would not run off they found themselves walking knee-deep in the slush, to increase their annoyance it set in drizzling.  Still they trudged along till about mid-afternoon when they halted.  The heavens scowling down in a gray threatening way, all around snow, from which looked forth, an occasional tuft of swamp grass, otherwise shrubby browse with only at places dwarfed pine and tamarack, were sticks of an arm’s thickness and but thinly scattered, they were in dread of the night and what it might bring them in such dismal surrounding.  They were to have a fire and to make sure of it, they now began to gather sticks at a place when they were to be had, until they had a heap which they thought would enable them to keep up a fire till morning.  The next thing and not an easy one was to build a fire.  They could not proceed on their usual plan of scraping away the snow and set it up around as a fortification against the cold air, it would have been opening here a pit of clear water.  So they began throwing down layers of sticks across each other until the pile stood in pierform above water and snow and furnished a fire-place.  Around the fire they built a platform of browse-wood and grass for themselves to lie upon.  But the fire would not burn well and the men lay too much exposed.  Luckily the heavens remained clouded, which kept up the temperature.  A severe cold night easily have had serious results in those circumstances.  The party passed a very miserable night, but it took an end, and no one carried any immediate harm from it.

Next morning, the party pushed forward on its way and without further adventure reached the Red Lake post.  Thence they worked their way upwards to the Lake of the Woods, then down the Rainy Lake River and along Rainy Lake, up Crane Lake, to Pelican Lake, and finally across Vermillion Lake to the Vermillion post, about the spot where Tower, Minn. now stands.  Thence back to Superior, following the water courses, chiefly the St. Louis river.  The distance traveled, if it is taken in a somewhat straight line, is from five to six hundred miles, but for the party it must have been more judging from the meandering way it went from lake to lake and along the course of streams.  That tour Messrs. Bradshaw required for their business, twice a year; once in the winter, to gather in the crops of furs of the year and again in the fall to furnish the posts with provision and stock in trade and the managing there lay chiefly upon Mr. Roy.  As to the hardships on these tours, dint of habit went far to help them endure them.  Thus Mr. Bradshaw remarked yet in 1897 – he did not remember that he or any of his employees out on a trip, in the winter, in the open air, day and night, ever they had to be careful or they get a cold then.

“As any who have tried snowshoes will know, there is a trick to using them. The novice will spread his legs to keep the snowshoes from scraping each other, but this awkward position, like attempting too great a distance before conditioning oneself to the strain, will cause lameness. Such invalids, the old voyageur type would say, suffer fromMal de raquette.’
~ Forest & Outdoors, Volume 42, by the Canadian Forestry Assocation, 1946, page 380.

Not infrequently a man’s ingenuity came into action and helped to overcome a difficulty.  An instance in case happened on the above or a similar tour.  Somewhere back of Fond du Lac, Minn, notwithstanding the fact that they were approaching home, one of the men declared himself incapable of traveling any longer, being afflicted most severely with what the “courreurs du bois” called “mal de la raquette.”  This was a trouble consequent to long walks on snow shoes.  The weight and continual friction of the snow-shoe on the forefoot would wear this so much that blood oozed from it and cramps in foot and leg set in.  In this unpleasant predicament, the man was undismayed, he advised his companions to proceed and leave him to his fate, as he would still find means to take care of himself.  So he was left.  After about a week some anxiety was felt about the man and a search-party set out to hunt him up.  Arriving at his whereabouts, they found their man in somewhat comfortable circumstances, he had built for himself a hut of the boughs of trees and dry grass and have lived on rabbits which he managed to get without a gun.  So far from being in need of assistance, he was now in a condition to bestow such for it being about noon and a rabbit on the fire being about ready to be served he invited his would-be-rescuers to dinner and after he had regaled them in the best manner circumstances permitted, he returned home with them all in good spirits.

The following incidents shows how Mr. Roy met an exigency.  Once at night-fall he and the men had pitched for a night’s stay and made preparations for supper.  No game or fish was at hand.  A brook flowed near by but there was nothing in the possession of the crew to catch a fish with.  But Roy was bent upon making the anyway scant fare more savory with a supply of fish, if it could be.  Whilst the rest made a fire, he absented himself and in a very short time he returned with a couple of fish fresh from the water and sufficiently large to furnish a dish for all.  He had managed to get them out from the brook with no other contrivance than the forked twig of a tree.

The following trip of Mr. Roy is remembered for the humorous incidents to which it gave occasion.  One summer day probably in August and in the sixties, a tourist party turned up at Superior.  It consisted of two gentlemen with wives and daughters, some six or seven persons.  They were from the east, probably New York and it was fairly understood that it was the ambition of the ladies to pose as heroines, that had made a tour through the wild west and had seen the wild indian in his own country.  The Bradshaws being under some obligation to these strangers detailed Roy and a few oarsmen to take them by boat along the north shore to Fort William, where they could take passage on a steamer for the continuation of their journey.

Now the story goes that Roy sent word ahead to some family at Grand Marais, Minn. or thereabouts that his crew would make a stop at their house.  The unusual news, however, spread and long before Roy’s boat came in sight, not only the family, which was to furnish hospitality, was getting ready, but also their friends; men, women and children, in quite a number, had come gathering in from the woods, each ready for something, if no more, at least to show their wild indian faces.

Maple sugar in a birch bark container. ~ Minnesota Historical Society

Maple sugar in a birch bark container.
~ Minnesota Historical Society

When Roy and the gentlemen and ladies in his custody had arrived and were seated at table, the women and girls busied themselves in some way or another in order to make sure not to miss seeing, what was going on, above all how the strange ladies would behave at table.  The Indian woman, who had set the table, had put salt on it – simply enough it is said for the boiled eggs served; – but what was peculiar, was that the salt was not put in salt-dishes, but in a coffee cup or bowl.  If sugar was on the table, it was maple-sugar, which any Indian of the country could distinguish from salt, but the ladies at the table were not so versed in the customs of the country through which they were travelling, they mistaking the salt for sugar, reached for it and put a tea-spoonful of it into their tea or coffee.  A ripple of surprise ran over the numerous spectators, the features of the older ones relaxing somewhat from their habitual rigor and a half-suppressed titter of the younger being heard – possibly in their judgement, the strange ladies of the city in the east were the less civilized there.  In fact, the occurrence was never forgotten by those who witnessed it.

Proceeding on their journey, one night Roy and those in his custody had not been able to take their night’s rest at a human habitation and had chanced to pitch their tents on a high embankment of the lake.  During the night the wind arose and blew a gale from the lake, so strong that the pegs of the tents, in which the ladies were lodged, pulled up and the canvass blew away.  When the ladies were thus on a sudden aroused from sleep and without a tent out in the storm they screamed for their life for Roy to come to their aid.  The men helped along with Roy to set up the tent again.  Roy often afterwards amusingly referred to this that the ladies had not screamed for their husbands or fathers, but for Roy.  The ladies gave later on their reasons for acting thus.  Not knowing the real cause of what was transpiring, they in their freight thought the wild Indians were now indeed upon them that they were on the point of being carried off into the woods.  In such a peril they of course thought of Roy as the only one who could rescue them.  After the excitement things were soon explained and set aright and the ladies with their husbands and fathers arrived safely at Fort William and took passage in due season on an east-bound steamer.

A Friend of Roy.

 


 

Sources of Inform:tion

boyz

“Top: Frank Roy, Vincent Roy, E. Roussin, Old Frank D.o., Bottom: Peter Roy, Jos. Gourneau (Gurnoe), D. Geo. Morrison.” The photo is labelled Chippewa Treaty in Washington 1845 by the St. Louis Hist. Lib and Douglas County Museum, but if it is in fact in Washington, it was probably the Bois Forte Treaty of 1866, where these men acted as conductors and interpreters (Digitized by Mary E. Carlson for The Sawmill Community at Roy’s Point).

1 His journal and folks.

2 Pet. Roy’s sketch.

3 Mr. Roy to V.

4 P. R.’s sketch

5 Mr. Geo. Morrison says, the place was in those days always called Madelaine Island.

~ The Superior Chronicle, July 7, 1860.

~ The Superior Chronicle, July 7, 1860.

6 P. Roy’s sketch.

7 His wife.

8 His folks.

9 Cournoyer.

10 Mrs. Roy.

11 See foot-note.

12 Mrs. Roy.

13 Fr. Eustachius said smthng to this effect.

14 Mr. Roy to V.

15 Cournoyer or Mr. Roy to V.

16 Cournoyer.

17 The Treaty doc.t

18 by Geo. Morrison & others.

19 Mr. Roy to V.

20 The family.

21 Mr. Roy to V.

22 Mr. Roy to V.

23 History of Superior as to the substce.

Vincent Cournoyer was Vincent Roy Jr’s brother-in-law.  The Roy brothers, Cournoyer, Morrison, and La Fave were all Mixed-Blood members of the Lake Superior Chippewa, and elected officials in Douglas County, Wisconsin.

24 The family.

25 Cournoyer.

26 Mr Roy to V. – His family also.

27 Mr. Roy to V. – His family also.

28 History aS subst.e

29 Mr. J. Bradshaw and J. La Fave.

 


 

Father Valentine wishes his name to be suppressed in this communication and hence signs himself as above: “A Friend of Roy.”

Fr. Chrysostom Verwyst O.F.M.

 

Reverend Chrysostome Verwyst

Reverend Chrysostome Verwyst, circa 1918. ~ Wisconsin Historical Society

By Amorin Mello

In our Penoka Survey Incidents series earlier this year, we followed some of the adventures and schemes of Albert Conrad Stuntz circa 1857.  The legacy of Albert’s influential survey still defines the geopolitical landscape of the Penokee Mountains to this day.  However, Albert’s work during the late 1850s was relatively minor in comparison to that of his brother, George Riley Stuntz, during the early 1850s.  The surveying work of George and his employees started in 1852 and enabled the infamous land speculators and townsite promotors of Superior City to manifest their schemes by early 1854 (months before the Treaty of La Point occurred later that year).  

Among the men that worked with George was Augustus Hamilton Barber.  Sometime around 1850, Augustus had followed his Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins from the Barber family of Lamoille County, Vermont, to Lancaster in Grant County, Wisconsin.  After a short career as a school teacher in Grant County, Augustus came to Lake Superior in 1852 employed by George as a Chainman under his contract with the United States General Land Office to survey lands at the Head of Lake Superior.

Before taking a closer look at the Barber Papers, let’s examine the lives and affairs of other surveyors and speculators along the southwest shore of Lake Superior, starting with George Riley Stuntz and his production of these Exterior Field Notes (June of 1852):

1852 affidavit 1 1852 affidavit 2 1852 affidavit 3

Duluth and St. Louis County, Minnesota;
Their Story and People

By Walter Van Brunt, 1921, pages 64-65.

Page 75.

Portrait of George Nettleton’s cabin on Minnesota Point in 1852 on page 75.

William Rainey Marshall was a Democrat in Wisconsin and as a Republican in Minnesota.
A biography of the brothers George and William Nettleton is available at ZenithCity.com.

First Settler.– The honor, for both Superior and Duluth, must presumably go to George R. Stuntz. He came in 1852, and settled in 1853. Several were earlier of course, but can hardly be considered to have been legitimate independent settlers. Carlton had been on the ground, at Fond du Lac, for some years, but he was Indian agent; Borup and Oaks had spent their time between La Pointe and Fond du Lac, but were then at St. Paul, and mainly interested in the development of that city, and in fur trading. Wm. R. Marshall stated that he “was on the lake as early as 1848,” but not to settle and he did not come again until 1857. Wm. R. Marshall and George R. Stuntz were fellow-surveyors, in federal pay, “back in the ’40s,” but Marshall did not seek to take the place of Stuntz as premier pioneer at the head of Lake Superior. As a matter of fact, although “on the lake as early as “1848,” Marshall did not then get nearer to Duluth than La Pointe, where he met “Borup and Oaks, the principal traders, Truman Warren, George Nettleton, Cruttenden, Wattrous, Rev. Sherman Hall, E. F. Ely and others.” It is quite possible that Stuntz was with Marshall in 1848, for that was the year in which Stuntz first entered Minnesota territory “having charge of a surveying party that was working near Lake Pepin and in what is now Washington County.”

A biography of George B. Sargent is available at ZenithCity.com.

The “Heart of the Continent.”– George R. Stuntz prepared the way for the first attempt at white settlement at the head of Lake Superior. He surveyed the land on the Wisconsin side, within a year of beginning which survey, in 1852, the first settlers began to appear. George R. Stuntz came by direction of George B. Sargent, who at the time was surveyor-general of the Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota district for the federal government, his headquarters being at Davenport, Iowa. In that year, states Carey, “he surveyed and definitely located a portion of the northeastern boundary line between Minnesota and Wisconsin, starting from the head of navigation on the St. Louis River, at Fond du Lac, and running south to the St. Croix River.Stuntz himself stated: “I came in 1852. I saw the advantages of this point (Minnesota Point) as clearly then as I do now (1892). On finishing the survey for the government, I went away to make a report, and returned the next spring and came for good. I saw as surely then as I do now that this was the heart of the continent commercially, and so I drove my stakes.”

Group of people, including a number of Ojibwe at Minnesota Point, Duluth, Minnesota [featuring William Howenstein] ~ University of Minnesota Duluth, Kathryn A. Martin Library

Group of people, including a number of Ojibwe at Minnesota Point, Duluth, Minnesota [featuring William Howenstein in 1872?] ~ University of Minnesota Duluth

Stuntz and Howenstein competed with Nettleton and others for fame as the first settlers on Minnesota Point after Stuntz’s 1852 survey with Augustus Barber.

The Vanguard.– He did not come alone, needing of course assistants in the work of surveying, but he was in charge of the work, Gand necessarily takes first place in the accounting. William C. Sargent, son of George B. Sargent, stated in 1916, that his father “came here (Duluth) first in 1852 with George R. Stuntz and Bill Howenstein,” and goes on to state “a word of those two grand men, George R. Stuntz and Bill Howenstein.” He believed that “to George R. Stuntz, more than to any other man belongs the honor (of) opening up that region,” and of Howenstein, he said: “And old Bill Howenstein, one of the best ever, and always my very good friend, a kindly body, with a quaint dry humor unsurpassed and seldom met with in these later days. I had many an interesting chat with him, in his home on Minnesota Point, that he built in 1852, and lived in until his death, some years ago.” Bill Howenstein, undoubtedly was of Stuntz’ party in 1852, but it is doubtful whether he built a log house on Minnesota Point in that year. As to General Sargent’s visit in 1852. If he did come then, it was probably only a flying visit. His interest in the head of Lake Superior in 1852 reached only to the extent of directing Stuntz to survey it. He, himself, had the surveying business of three states to attend to.


The New York Times

[December 11, 1852]

The Region about the Southwest End of Lake Superior.

Augustus H. Barber also lived in Grant County, where George R. Stuntz was the County Sheriff during 1851-52.

Mr. Stuntz, of Grant County, Wis., has been deputed by the general Land Surveyor of this Northwest District to lay off such a tract of land about the southwest point of the lake into townships and sections, as emigrants will earliest require.  He returned via La Pointe and Stillwater last week. We have obtained from him some new views of that region. From Fond du Lac, a trading post situated 11 miles inland on the St. Louis River, eastward, for perhaps 50 miles, the margin of the lake is a flat strip of land reaching back to a rocky ridge about 11 miles off. The soil of this flat land is a rich red clay. The wood is white cedar and pine of the most magnificent growth. The American line is beyond the mouth of the St. Louis and Pigeon rivers. It evidently abounds in copper, iron and silver. The terrestrial compass cannot be used there, so strong is the attraction to the earth. The needle rears and plunges “like mad.” Points of survey have to be fixed by the solar compass.

This individual is likely Joseph B. Houle from Lac Courte Oreilles who became an early settler of Superior City with his Roy brothers-in-law.  Big Joewas featured in the Penoka Survey Incidents memoirs by James Smith Buck, and may also beKitchie Ininifrom Joseph Austrian’s memoirs.

The Indian and half breed packmen have astonishing strength. One Indian, who is described by the others as being as large as two men, carried for a company of 11 men provisions for ten days, viz: one barrel of flour, half barrel of pork and something else, beside the utensils. Mirage is a common phenomenon is Spring and Summer. For the bays not opening as soon as the main lake, or not cooling so early, an object out on the lake, is viewed from the shore, through a dense medium of air and a thin medium. Hence is a refraction of rays which gives so many wonderful sights that the Chippewas call that the spirit or enchanted land. Sail vessels which are really 40 miles off, are seen flapping and bellying about almost within touch. Turreted Islands, look heavy and toppling towards the zenith. Forests seem to leap from their stems and go a soaring like thistles for the very sport of it.

Born in Denmark, Doctor Charles William Wulff Borup intermarried with the Beaulieu Family of La Pointe Chippewa during the 1830’s.  As an employee of the American Fur Company, Borup relocated the village of La Pointe from the Old Fort location to the modern site in 1836.  The Borup/Beaulieu/Oakes Family appear to be the last owners of the defunct American Fur Company outfit at La Pointe before Julius Austrian purchased all of La Pointe in 1853, including Borup’s residence and garden. By then, Borup was absent from La Pointe, and engaged in the earliest banking and Freemasonry activities of Minnesota in St. Paul.

The ice did not leave some of the bays till the 10th of June. The fish are delicious, especially the salmon trout. But little land game. Mr. Stunts calculates on wonderful enterprises in that country after the opening of the Saut Canal.

Mr. S. describes La Pointe a town of the Lake, as being situated at the head of a bay some 25 miles from the high lake, and secluded from the lake by several islands. He saw there a warehouse 300 feet long, built of tamarac poles, and roofed with bark. This building is very much warped by the pressure of age ; it is entered by a wooden railway. The town is dingy and dreary. He saw a most luxurious garden by the former residence of Dr. Borup. It contained a variety of fruit trees and shrubs, such as plums, cherries, apples, pears, currants, &c.


1852

Cover of Stuntz’s Exterior Field Notes (August-October 1852) ~ Wisconsin Public Land Survey Records: Original Field Notes and Plat Maps

Title page.

1852 Iron River assistants

George Riley Stuntz was also assisted by his brother Albert Conrad Stuntz as well as the African-Chippewa mixed-blood Stephen Bonga employed as an Axeman. To learn more about the interesting Bonga (Bonza) family and Stephen as “the first white child born at the head of Lake Superior,” read pages 39-41 of The Black West by William Loren Katz (1971), and pages 131-34 of Black Indians also by Katz (2012).


The Eye of the North-west: First Annual Report of the Statistician of Superior, Wisconsin

By Frank Abial Flower, 1890

Portrait of Steven Bonga, pg. 7

Portrait of Stephen Bonga, page 7.

GEORGE R. STUNTZ, DEPUTY U. S. SURVEYOR [pages 50-52]

Portrait of George Riley Stuntz, pg.

Portrait of George Riley Stuntz, page 26.

In 1852 George R. Stuntz took a contract to run the township lines in this part of the country, including the state boundary, and filed with the land-office at Dubuque a rude map of the head of the lake, on the Wisconsin side, in December of that year. He took a new contract and returned in the spring of 1853 to survey the copper range around Black River, a few miles south of Superior. He brought seeds with him and planting them on the Namdji, raised a quantity of vegetables; they grew to great size. he also built a trading-post on Minnesota point near the present light-house, and a mill on Iron River in Bayfield county. In respect of these operations W. W. Ward writes from Morley, Mo.:

W. W. Ward also came to Lake Superior employed as a Chainman with Augustus H. Barber for George R. Stuntz’s first contract in June of 1852.  Was he related to Matt Ward from the Penoka Survey Incidents?
FIRST SAW MILLS AT THE HEAD OF LAKE SUPERIOR
The first lumber of any description produced locally, other than by “Whip sawing”, was at Iron River, Wisconsin about forty miles from Superior on the South Shore of Lake Superior.
George R. Stuntz with William C. Howenstein, Andrew Reefer and George Falkner built and operated a water power “up and down” sawmill at the falls on Iron River about a half a mile from the Lake, capable of cutting three thousand feet of lumber a day. The writer has several 1 1/4 inch absolutely “clear” White Pine boards 24 and 26 inches wide and 18 feet long that were originally stored in a loft to be used in building a skiff. This mill was built in 1854 and the lumber was floated up the Lake to Superior, Oneota and Fond du Lac…
~ Superior, Wisconsin, papers, 1831-1942 ([unpublished])
SUPERIOR TOURIST SEASON OF 1854
From “A Pioneer of Old Superior” by Lillian Kimball Stewart
“In the summer of ’54 the Sam Ward plying between the Sault and any port on Lake Superior, brought on every trip a goodly number of emigrants, speculators, and tourists, bent on seeing the new “city” of Superior. Stuntz’s dock was located near an Indian village, so that every traveler as well as every piece of freight or baggage was subject to inspection by braves, squaws, and papooses before receiving a passport to the shore across the bay…”
~ Superior, Wisconsin, papers, 1831-1942 ([unpublished])

“It was in the spring of 1853 that Mr. Stuntz, Deputy U. S. Surveyor, received his second contract to survey and run the township lines taking in the range around Black River Falls, a portion of Left-hand River country and that part where Superior now is. In the latter part of April that year he organized a party – viz., Nat. W. Kendall, James McKinzie, Pain Bradt, James McBride, Harvey Fargo, Wm. H. Reed, John Chisholm, Joseph Latham, Augustus Barber, and your humble servant. Procured three birch-bark canoes and supplies at Stillwater, Minn.: left there the first day of May, passed up the St. Croix River to its head, made a portage of about two and a half miles into the headwaters of the Brule River, down said river into Lake Superior, thence up the lake to what was called the entry of St. Louis Bay [now Superior Bay], and landed on Minnesota Point in the early part of June. At that time there were no white settlers in this end of the lake – all Chippewa Indians and ‘breeds’ – scarcely a stick missing on that side of the bay where Superior City now stands. We finished the surveying contract and went in early fall down to Iron River, built a double log-shanty, and made other preparations for the construction of a saw mill. Here the first lumber was made at the head of the lake and the first road opened through to the settlement on the St. Croix. The following February, Mr. Stuntz having a trading-post on Minnesota Point [then Stuntz’s Point], I went there and assisted in building a block-house and steamboat pier, and found improvements and a few log-shanties built where old Superior now is located.”

[…]

HUSTLING FOR TOWNSITES [pages 58-60]

Vincent Roy Jr. (From Life and Labors of Rt. Rev. Frederic Baraga by Chrysostom Verwyst

Vincent Roy Jr.  ~ Life and Labors of Rt. Rev. Frederic Baraga by Chrysostom Verwyst,

VI. – Superior.

Vincent [Roy Jr.] had barely emerged from the trouble just described when it was necessary for him to exert himself in another direction.  A year or so previously he had taken up a claim of land at the headwaters of Lake Superior and there was improvement now on foot for that part of the country, and danger for his interests.

The ship canal at Sault St Marie was in course of construction and it was evidently but a question of days that boats afloat on Lakes Huron and Michigan would be able to run up and unload their cargo for regions further inland somewhere on the shore at the further end of Lake Superior, at which a place, no doubt, a city would be built.  The place now occupied by the city of Superior was suitable for the purposes in view but to set it in order and to own the greatest possible part of it, had become all at the same time the cherished idea of too many different elements as that developments could go on smoothly.  Three independent crews were struggling to establish themselves at the lower or east end of the bay when a fourth crew approached at the upper or west end, with which Vincent, his brother Frank, and others of LaPointe had joined in.  As this crew went directly to and began operations at the place where Vincent had his property it seems to have been guided by him, though it was in reality under the leadership of Wm. Nettleton who was backed by Hon. Henry M. Rice of St. Paul.  Without delay the party set to work surveying the land and “improving” each claim, as soon as it was marked off, by building some kind of a log-house upon it.  The hewing of timber may have attracted the attention of the other crews at the lower end about two or three miles off, as they came up about noon to see what was going on. The parties met about halfway down the bay at a place where a small creek winds its way through a rugged ravine and falls into the bay.  Prospects were anything but pleasant at first at the meeting; for a time it seemed that a battle was to be fought, which however did not take place but the parceling out of ‘claims’ was for the time being suspended.  This was in March or April 1854.  Hereafter some transacting went on back the curtain, and before long it came out that the interests of the town-site of Superior, as far as necessary for efficient action, were united into a land company of which public and prominent view of New York, Washington, D.C. and other places east of the Mississippi river were the stockholders.  Such interests as were not represented in the company were satisfied which meant for some of them that they were set aside for deficiency of right or title to a consideration.  The townsite of the Superior of those days was laid out on both sides of the Nemadji river about two or three miles into the country with a base along the water edge about half way up Superior bay, so that Vincent with his property at the upper end of the bay, was pretty well out of the way of the land company, but there were an way such as thought his land a desirable thing and they contested his title in spite of his holding it already for a considerable time.  An argument on hand in those days was, that persons of mixed blood were incapable of making a legal claim of land.  The assertion looks more like a bugaboo invented for the purpose to get rid of persons in the way than something founded upon law and reason, yet at that time some effect was obtained with it.  Vincent managed, however, to ward off all intrusion upon his property, holding it under every possible title, ‘preemption’ etc., until the treaty of LaPointe in the following September, when it was settled upon his name by title of United States scrip so called, that is by reason of the clause, as said above, entered into the second article of that treaty.

The subsequent fate of the piece of land here in question was that Vincent held it through the varying fortune of the ‘head of the lake’ for a period of about thirty six years until it had greatly risen in value, and when the west end was getting pretty much the more important complex of Superior, an English syndicate paid the sum of twenty five thousand dollars, of which was then embodied in a tract afterwards known as “Roy’s Addition”.
Biographical Sketch – Vincent Roy Jr;  Vincent Roy Jr. Papers.

Up to the time of the survey in the spring of 1854 all was chaos as to lands west of the claims of Robertson, Nelson, Baker and their party. There could be no titles or bona fide purchases, as only the mouth of the Nemadji had been surveyed. There were really three “townsite” companies— Robertson, Nelson and Baker, with their associates J. A. Bullen, J. T. Morgan, E. Y. Shelly, August Zachau, C. G. Pettys, Abraham Emmett, and perhaps others, forming one which had the surveyed lands next to the Nemadji. West of them were Francis Roy, Benjamin Cadotte, Robert Bothwick, Basil Dennis, Charles Knowlton and nearly a dozen half-breeds, mostly brought from Crow Wing by Nettleton in the interest of what was known as the “Hollinshead crowd”—Edmund and Henry M. Rice, George L. Becker, Wm. and George W. Nettleton, Benjamin Thompson, James Stinson and W. H. Newton. Still farther west were Benjamin W. Brunson, A. A. Parker, R. F. Slaughter, C. D. Kimball, Rev. E. F. Ely, George R. Stuntz, Bradley Salter, Joseph Kimball, Calvin Hood, and others who proposed to call their town Endion—”Ahn-dy-yon,” the Chippewa for “home.”

B. W. Brunson, still a resident of St. Paul, has described the contest in writing. He says:

Believing Superior would become of importance I went there in February, 1854, with R. F. Slaughter. We found some Ontonagon parties had claimed on the bay and we bought an interest in their claims and began to lay out a city and make improvements. While surveying the town, and when we had the same so far completed as to make a plat of it, the township having been subdivided by a good surveyor, then it was that Vincent Roy, Basil Dennis, Charles Brissette and Antoine Warren, accompanied by twenty-one other half-breeds and some four or five white men, headed, led and directed by one Stinson and one Thompson, who were acting for themselves and as agents of the company, came upon the lands to make their claims and avail themselves of pre-emption rights as citizens of the United States. These men were in the employ of the company for the purpose of making claims, and there was a claimant for each and every quarter-section as fast as the surveyor set the quarter-post. They had commenced the day before, with or at the same time the surveyor commenced his work. The timber being dense and there being a strong force, they were able to build an 8×10 cabin and cover it with boughs, upon each quarter, and then overtake the surveyor before he could establish the next quarter, thus taking the land as they went, and in that manner were progressing when they came upon the land marked out and occupied by us.

The meeting of the two hostile parties occurred on the banks of the deep slough in what is now called Central Park. Nothing but the timidity of the half-breeds prevented bloodshed. Brunson was armed and intended to, and did stand his ground. Thompson, one of the pluckiest of men, was also armed, having two revolvers, and was prepared and intended to proceed. The Indians, not being armed, did not wish to engage in a battle where the leaders only were prepared to fight; and so there was no physical conflict, though a state of chaos and bad feeling continued for some time. Several cabins were demolished, Brunson’s party entirely cutting in pieces a house built by Basil Dennis on the ground now occupied by Dr. Conan’s fine residence.

A long legal contest followed. Finally in 1862-63 patents issued from the government to three men—S. W. Smith, Lars Lenroot and Oliver Lemerise—chosen as trustees of the townsite for the benefit of actual occupants. Thus those who claimed to be proprietors of, but not settlers on the townsite, lost their lands as well as their labor. In the winter of 1853-54 Henry M. Rice asked the Commissioner of the General Land Office whether, when lands which had not been surveyed were claimed for a townsite they would be liable to pre-emption as soon as the survey should be made. The answer was in favor of pre-emption; and that is how those who with Brunson put money into Superior City townsite lost it. The actual settlers got the townsite, the patent being made to the three trustees named who divided the plat, containing 240 acres with riparian rights in Superior Bay, and deeded lots to occupants and purchasers. It may be proper to mention here that a little plat of thirty-four acres, with riparian rights in the bay, and known as Middletown, went through a similar siege of litigation and was finally patented to three trustees —Urguelle Gouge, Louis Morrisette and Nicholas Poulliott—for the benefit of actual occupants. These decisions did not come until the “city” had collapsed and the land become nearly worthless.


The New York Times

[June 19th, 1858]

WESTERN LAND FRAUDS.

More Blood in the Body than Shows in the Face – Land Frauds in the Northwest – The Superior City Controversy – Pre-emptions by Swedes and Indians

Washington, Thursday, June 17, 1858.

Senator Henry Mower Rice ~ United States Senate Historical Office

Senator Henry Mower Rice
~ United States Senate Historical Office

There are some interesting matters here besides what takes place in Congress, and I propose from time to time to touch upon them. An expenditure of $60,000,000 per annum does not cover all the pickings and stealings that “prevail” in our hereabouts. Senator RICE did not tell all he knew about land-office operations, when he testified to the value of the Fort Snelling property. Nobody is better aware than he that the tract would be much better to cut up into town lots than Bayfield was when he bought it for a few cents an acre, and sold it for hundreds of dollars. If we could find out all that Senator BRIGHT knows of these matters, one could learn how to become a millionaire at very small expense of brains or labor. Indian treaties and land-office jobbing have made more men rich than care to tell of it – ask General CASS if this is not so.

Attorney-General Caleb Cushing had previously invested with other Bostonians in the St. Croix River Valley copper mining and land speculation as the St. Croix and Lake Superior Mineral Company during 1845.

Seeing a bushel-basket of papers in the Interior Department the other day, I was curious to know what the kernel might be to all that rind, and made inquiry in the premises. I was told that they enveloped the case of Superior City. I cast my eye over some of them, and noticed that an argument was filed on behalf of one of the parties by Mr. Senator BRIGHT – or rather with Senator BRIGHT’S indorsement. This whetted my desire of knowledge, and I ran my eye over the paper in question, which was from the pen of a Minnesota Judge and was without exception the richest document I ever saw intended for a judicial or administrative tribunal. The substance of it was that the opinion of the Attorney-General CUSHING in the case was absurd, the adoption of his views by the Interior Department preposterous, and the action of the local Land office at Superior, in defining the status of certain half-breed Indians on the most abundant testimony, corrupt. It was clear enough that such a document required at least a senatorial indorsement to justify its reception. Nobody can suppose for a moment that Senator BRIGHT has any interest in the result of the case, or that he expected to influence the judgement of his friend, HENDRICKS, (Commissioner of the General Land Office,) by appearing in it. That would be too strong an inference to draw from so meek a fact ; and yet the malicious might suggest it as an apprehension.

Eye of the Northwest, pg. 8

Original Proprietors of Superior featuring James Stinson, Benjamin Thomson, Dr. W.W. Coran, U.S. Senator Robert J Walker, George W. Cass, and Horace Bridge.  Featured in The Eye of the North-west, pg. 8.

From the printed argument of Senator BRIGHT’S friend, and from a private abstract of the testimony in the case, and a few items I have picked up in the Land Office, I think it will be in my power to indite an epistle that may excite some attention. At the Southwestern extremity of Lake Superior, there is a tract of land, which is expected some day to become the cite of a large city. Being aware of its great advantages for this purpose, a St. Paul speculator by the name of THOMPSON, and a Canadian operator by the name of STINSON, undertook to possess themselves of it as long as as in the early part of General PIERCE‘S administration, by vicarious preemptions. In this plan they were assisted by some official gentlement, who shared in the spoils, and patents were ground out in double-quick time, or certificates issued to Swedes and Indians for the benefit of this STINSON and THOMPSON, and their associate speculators.

More Proprietors of Supeior from The Eye of the North-west, pg. 9.

More Proprietors of Supeior from The Eye of the North-west, pg. 9.

In the Summer of 1854, this Mr. STINSON, headed a gang of Swedes and led them from Swede Lake, in the Territory of Minnesota, to Lake Superior, guiding them in person to the tracts he wished them to preempt. These men were ignorant of our language and of our laws, and were used by STINSON to “settle” their tracts, “prove up” their claims, and “convey” to him, the said STINSON, without knowing either the frauds they were practicing, or the rights which they might have secured to themselves if they had been acting in good faith. In the Land Office at Hudson, where these frauds were perpetrated, there was a notary public, who drew the deeds to STINSON, got the signatures of the Swedes to them and took the acknowledgements, immediately after the preemption oath had been administered – the Swedes thinking the whole operation a part of the preemption process. The terms were said to be $30 a month, and a bonus of $15 on the consummation of the bargain. The names of these Swedes were Aaron Peterson, Martin Larson, Peter Nelson, John Johnson, Sven Magnassan, Lorenz Johnson, Peter Norell, Sven Larson, Andreas Senson, Johannes Helon, Johannes Peterson, and Peter Erickson. These “preemptors,” for their own benefit, all “proved up” at Hudson, and the very same day they made conveyances to STINSON. The same thing is true of another Swedish invasion that was made in the Summer of 1855. In that year three Swedes – Old Westerland, Andrew Walmart, and Israel Janssen – commenced their settlements June 11, proved up June 22, and conveyed to STINSON June 22 – eleven days being sufficient for the whole operation. The records of the Land Office at Superior, and of the Register of Deeds of Douglas County, show these facts. They are well known in the General Land Office.

But Mr. STINSON did not operate through Swedes alone. He and his friend THOMPSON worked with half-breed Indians also. In March, 1854, he and THOMPSON followed up the Government Surveys with a gang of Chippewa half-breed Indians. The whole gang made preemptions in Douglas County, under the guidance of THOMPSON and STINSON, who hired them at La Pointe, and convered a large portion of a township with their fraudulent pre-emptions, which were proved up simultaneously, and simultaneously conveyed to the attorney of THOMPSON and STINSON. The names of all of this gang appear on the tract books in the General Land Office. These were Joseph Lamoureaux, Joseph Defaut, Joseph Dennis, Joseph Gauthier, Francis Decoteau, John B. Goslin, George D. Morrison and Levi B. Coffee, all preemptors for these land-sharks. There were three or four more half-breeds in the gang, who ran foul of some eight or ten American citizens who were seeking to save a slice of this Territory from Swedish and Indian preemption, and lay out a town site there under the law. This was the origin of the Superior City controversy, which has been pending some three or four years in the various land offices, and which has accumulated the basket of papers which first drew my attention to a case of such interesting dimensions. The contest is nominally between three or four Chippewa half-breeds claiming some three hundred acres as a town site. But the Indians are not merely bogus citizens, they are bogus pre-emptors in the bargain, for they were the hired men of THOMPSON & STINSON.

The Dred Scott v. Sandford case influenced whether former (non-white) slaves residents of the United States could ever achieve status and rights (such as acquiring land) as citizens of America or not.  It is safe to presume that Cushing was quite familiar with the status and politics of Lake Superior Chippewa mixed acting as quasi-citizens of the United States from his time there during the 1840s.

Mr. CUSHING decided in this controversy, before it was so settled by the Dred Scott case, that a half-breed Indian, receiving annuities as such, recognized as a dependent of a tribe, and the beneficiary of treaty stipulations, could become a citizen of the United States only by some positive act of Federal legislation ; that he could not, of his own volition, or by the laws of a State, change his condition from that of an Indian to that of a Federal citizen. Strange as it may seem, it appears that this part of the Dred Scott is repudiated by Mr. Commissioner HENDRICKS, who thinks a state cannot make a Federal citizen of a man with a drop of negro blood in his veins, but that the Commissioner of the General Land Office may naturalize Indians, ad libitum, without statute or judgement to sustain him.

I am curious to see how this controversy will be decided. The General Land Office upheld STINTSON’S Swedish preemption, on the ground that the frauds were discovered too late for the Commissioner to interefere. Whether or not STINSON hasmade any negro preemptions does not appear. It was too cold at the end of the lake for negroes to flourish much. But now it is to be settled in a case where the attempted frauds have been seasonably discovered, whether or not a Canadian adventurer can preempt whole townships of the Public Lands by the agency of a gang of half-breed Indians, and procure patents for them when the facts are known to the Federal authorities.


The pre-emptive right. Homesteads.

~ Superior, Wisconsin, papers, 1831-1942 ([unpublished])

Detail of Superior City townsite at the head of Lake Superior from 1854 Plat Map of Township 49 North Range 14 West.

Detail of Superior City townsite at the head of Lake Superior from Stuntz’s 1854 Plat Map of Township 49 North Range 14 West.

Early history of Superior should make mention of this right of acquisition, since there under, titles to government land were derived. Any qualified person might acquire title to one hundred and sixty acres of land by settling thereon, erecting a dwelling and making other improvements. Such person was to be twenty-one years of age, either male or female, or the head of a family whether man or woman.

Proof of each settlement was required to be made on a certain day at the United State Land Office and upon the payment of two hundred dollars with the taking of a required oath, the preemptioner got his one hundred and sixty acres of land.

But the whole proceeding, was far from straight, as a general thing, and in fact often amounted to a fraud.

In the words of George R. Stuntz:
“In the first place, Superior was backed by a powerful company of Democratic politicians and Government bankers in Washington, while the northern and northeastern portions of the state were still held by the Indians. This Superior company sought a connection with the Mississippi river, to obtain which they urged in congress the passage of a land grant bill, offering ten sections to the mile to aid in the construction of a railroad from Milwaukee to some point on Lake St. Croix, on the western boundary of the state of Wisconsin.”
History of Duluth and St. Louis County, Past and Present,
Volume 1, page 230.
U.S. Representative John Cabell Breckinridge of Kentucky and U.S. Congressman Henry Mower Rice of Minnesota were both Democrats and both invested in land claims near Superior City.
The Barber familiy members appear to have been Republicans.

Hence the whole country, in and about Superior, was dotted with preemption cabins, which were little more than logs piles up in walls, without floors, or windows, often with brush for a roof, a hole therein for a chimney and perhaps for a door. A slashing of half an acre or so of trees was the “improvement” so called. A very barbarous travesty, it was, upon a white man’s home and farm. Here is an instance, where as was said, a certain doctor of divinity laid claim to a quarter section of land, now in the midst of this city.

One day he sought “to prove up” his preemption, and one Alfred Allen was his witness, and they asked Allen, “Was the pre-emptions shanty good to live in?“, the law requiring a good habitable house on the claim.  And Alf said “Yes, good for mosquitoes.” The Reverend said “Pshaw! Pshaw!” Meanding to upbraid or caution the witness who thereupon only protested and adjured the harder. The difficulty was somehow smoothed over, through some mending of the proofs, and perhaps connivance on the part of persons charged with administration of the United States land laws.

Nevertheless, it is interesting to member that upon rude and rough proceedings, such as are herein alluded to, rest at bottom the titles and claims to everything we own in the nature of lots, blocks, and land.

From: Statements of Hiram Hayes. Mr. Hayes came to Superior in 1854.


History of Duluth and St. Louis County, Past and Present, Volume 1

By Dwight Edwards Woodbridge, et al, 1910

GEORGE R. STUNTZ. [pages 229-231]

One of the earliest settlers at the head of the lakes was Mr. George E. Stuntz, who a short time ago joined the great majority. Before his death Mr. Stuntz wrote of his pioneer experiences as follows:

“In July, 1852, I came to the head of Lake Superior to run the land lines and subdivide certain townships. When I arrived at the head of the lakes there was nothing in Duluth or Superior. There was no settlement. The old American Fur Company had a post at La Pointe, at the west side of Madeline Island.

Detail of Minnesota Point during Stuntz's survey contract during August-October of 1852.

Detail of Minnesota Point from Stuntz’s Exterior Field Notes (August-October of 1852).

“In 1853 I got the range subdivided, and also in Superior, townsite 49, range 13. During the same year, later, in my absence, there came parties from the copper district of upper Michigan and located claims upon the range. They were principally miners. During the same year I built a residence on Minnesota Point under treaty license before the territory was sold to the Government. At that time there were only missionaries or license traders in the tract, as it belonged to the original Indian territory. In 1852, at Fond du Lac, there was a trading post and warehouse, in which I stored my goods on my arrival. In the fall of 1853 I bought three yoke of cattle and two cows at St. Croix Falls and brought them to the mouth of the Iron river, and had to cut a road thirty miles through the dense forest so as to get the oxen, cows and cart through. Later in the fall of 1853 I came through with an extra yoke of oxen, buying provisions, etc., and on coming up to Superior I found quite a settlement of log cabins. These settlers were anxious to get to the United States land office, then at Hudson, Wis. A dense forest intervened. We organized a volunteer company in January, 1854, to cut a road from old Superior to the nearest lumber camp on the St. Croix river, I furnishing two barrels of flour, provisions, pony and dog train, necessary to carry the provisions for a gang of seventeen men. The road was completed in twenty days, the snow being at that time two feet deep. This cut through a direct road to Taylor’s Falls and Stillwater. In 1854 I completed a mill on the Iron river and employed a man to superintend it, and I remained at Minnesota Point, my trading post, where I had first taken out the license. In the same year I took a contract to subdivide two townships located in Superior, townships 48-49, range 15, and afterward I attended the treaty at the time the Indians sold this country to the Government.

Before the 1854 Treaty of La Pointe could be ratified in Washington, D.C., the oral description agreed upon during the negotiations for exterior boundaries of the Chippewa treaties had to be surveyed with the tribe, documented, and delivered to Washington, D.C. before 1855.  It is not clear who was involved with the exterior boundaries of these reservations; whether it was Stuntz, Barber, and/or others from their party.

“There were 5,000 Indians present with their chiefs. It was the biggest assemblage of Indians ever held at Lake Superior at this period of the country’s history. It took a month to pacify the troubles that grew among the different tribes in regard to their proportionate rights. This treaty was sent to congress September [30], 1854, and was ratified and became law in January, 1855.


 To be continued in 1854

Photos, Photos, Photos

February 10, 2014

The queue of Chequamegon History posts that need to be written grows much faster than my ability to write them.  Lately, I’ve been backed up with mysteries surrounding a number of photographs.  Many of these photos are from after 1860, so they are technically outside the scope of this website (though they involve people who were important in the pre-1860 era too.

Photograph posts are some of the hardest to write, so I decided to just run through all of them together with minimal commentary other than that needed to resolve the unanswered questions.  I will link all the photos back to their sources where their full descriptions can be found.  Here it goes, stream-of-consciousness style:

Ojibwa Delegation by C.M. Bell.  Washington D.C. 1880 (NMAI Collections)

This whole topic started with a photo of a delegation of Lake Superior Ojibwe chiefs that sits on the windowsill of the Bayfield Public Library.  Even though it is clearly after 1860, some of the names in the caption:  Oshogay, George Warren, and Vincent Roy Jr. caught my attention.  These men, looking past their prime, were all involved in the politics of the 1850s that I had been studying, so I wanted to find out more about the picture.

As I mentioned in the Oshogay post, this photo is also part of the digital collections of the Smithsonian, but the people are identified by different names. According to the Smithsonian, the picture was taken in Washington in 1880 by the photographer C.M. Bell.

I found a second version of this photo as well.  If it wasn’t for one of the chiefs in front, you’d think it was the same picture:

While my heart wanted to believe the person, probably in the early 20th century, who labelled the Bayfield photograph, my head told me the photographer probably wouldn’t have known anything about the people of Lake Superior, and therefore could only have gotten the chiefs’ names directly from them.  Plus, Bell took individual photos:

Edawigijig (Edawi-giizhig “Both Sides of the Sky”), Bad River chief and signer of the Treaty of 1854 (C.M. Bell, Smithsonian Digital Collections)

Niizhogiizhig: “Second Day,” (C.M. Bell, Smithsonian Digital Collections)

Kiskitawag (Giishkitawag:  “Cut Ear”) signed multiple treaties as a warrior of the Ontonagon Band but afterwards was associated with the Bad River Band (C.M. Bell, Smithsonian Digital Collections).

By cross-referencing the individual photos with the names listed with the group photo, you can identify nine of the thirteen men.  They are chiefs from Bad River, Lac Courte Oreilles, and Lac du Flambeau.

According to this, the man identified by the library caption as Vincent Roy Jr., was in fact Ogimaagiizhig (Sky Chief).  He does have a resemblance to Roy, so I’ll forgive whoever it was, even if it means having to go back and correct my Vincent Roy post:

Vincent Roy Jr. From C. Verwyst’s Life and Labors of Rt. Rev. Frederic Baraga, First Bishop of Marquette, Mich: To which are Added Short Sketches of the Lives and Labors of Other Indian Missionaries of the Northwest (Digitized by Google Books)

Top: Frank Roy, Vincent Roy, E. Roussin, Old Frank D.o., Bottom: Peter Roy, Jos. Gourneau (Gurnoe), D. Geo. Morrison. The photo is labelled Chippewa Treaty in Washington 1845 by the St. Louis Hist. Lib and Douglas County Museum, but if it is in fact in Washington, it was probably the Bois Forte Treaty of 1866, where these men acted as conductors and interpreters (Digitized by Mary E. Carlson for The Sawmill Community at Roy’s Point).

So now that we know who went on the 1880 trip, it begs the question of why they went.  The records I’ve found haven’t been overly clear, but it appears that it involved a bill in the senate for “severalty” of the Ojibwe reservations in Wisconsin.  A precursor to the 1888 Allotment Act of Senator Henry Dawes, this legislation was proposed by Senator Thaddeus C. Pound of Wisconsin.  It would divide the reservations into parcels for individual families and sell the remaining lands to the government, thereby greatly reducing the size of the reservations and opening the lands up for logging.

Pound spent a lot of time on Indian issues and while he isn’t as well known as Dawes or as Richard Henry Pratt the founder of the Carlisle Indian School, he probably should be.  Pound was a friend of Pratt’s and an early advocate of boarding schools as a way to destroy Native cultures as a way to uplift Native peoples.

I’m sure that Pound’s legislation was all written solely with the welfare of the Ojibwe in mind, and it had nothing to do with the fact that he was a wealthy lumber baron from Chippewa Falls who was advocating damming the Chippewa River (and flooding Lac Courte Oreilles decades before it actually happened).  All sarcasm aside, if any American Indian Studies students need a thesis topic, or if any L.C.O. band members need a new dartboard cover, I highly recommend targeting Senator Pound.

Like many self-proclaimed “Friends of the Indian” in the 1880s, Senator Thaddeus C. Pound of Wisconsin thought the government should be friendly to Indians by taking away more of their land and culture.  That he stood to make a boatload of money out of it was just a bonus (Brady & Handy:  Wikimedia Commons).

While we know Pound’s motivations, it doesn’t explain why the chiefs came to Washington.  According to the Indian Agent at Bayfield they were brought in to support the legislation.  We also know they toured Carlisle and visited the Ojibwe students there.  There are a number of potential explanations, but without having the chiefs’ side of the story, I hesitate to speculate.  However, it does explain the photograph.

Now, let’s look at what a couple of these men looked like two decades earlier:

This stereocard of Giishkitawag was produced in the early 1870s, but the original photo was probably taken in the early 1860s (Denver Public Library).

By the mid 1850s, Akiwenzii (Old Man) was the most prominent chief of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band.  This stereocard was made by Whitney and Zimmerman c.1870 from an original possibly by James E. Martin in the late 1850s or early 1860s (Denver Public Library).

Giishkitawag and Akiwenzii are seem to have aged quite a bit between the early 1860s, when these photos were taken, and 1880 but they are still easily recognized.  The earlier photos were taken in St. Paul by the photographers Joel E. Whitney and James E. Martin.  Their galleries, especially after Whitney partnered with Charles Zimmerman, produced hundreds of these images on cards and stereoviews for an American public anxious to see real images of Indian leaders.

Giishkitawag and Akiwenzii were not the only Lake Superior chiefs to end up on these souvenirs.  Aamoons (Little Bee), of Lac du Flambeau appears to have been a popular subject:

Aamoons (Little Bee) was a prominent chief from Lac du Flambeau (Denver Public Library).

As the images were reproduced throughout the 1870s, it appears the studios stopped caring who the photos were actually depicting:

One wonders what the greater insult to Aamoons was:  reducing him to being simply “Chippewa Brave” as Whitney and Zimmerman did here, or completely misidentifying him as Na-gun-ub (Naaganab) as a later stereo reproduction as W. M. McLeish does here:

Chief identified as Na-gun-ub (Minnesota Historical Society)

Aamoons and Naaganab don’t even look alike…

…but the Lac du Flambeau and Fond du Lac chiefs were probably photographed in St. Paul around the time they were both part of a delegation to President Lincoln in 1862.

Chippewa Delegation 1862 by Matthew Brady? (Minnesota Historical Society)

Naaganab (seated middle) and Aamoons (back row, second from left) are pretty easy to spot, and if you look closely, you’ll see Giishkitawag, Akiwenzii, and a younger Edawi-giizhig (4th, 5th, and 6th from left, back row) were there too.  I can’t find individual photos of the other chiefs, but there is a place we can find their names.

(From Early Life Among the Indians by Benjamin Armstrong)

Benjamin Armstrong, who interpreted for the delegation, included a version of the image in his memoir Early Life Among the Indians.  He identifies the men who went with him as:

Ah-moose (Little Bee) from Lac Flambeau Reservation, Kish-ke-taw-ug (Cut Ear) from Bad River Reservation, Ba-quas (He Sews) from Lac Courte O’Rielles Reservation, Ah-do-ga-zik (Last Day) from Bad River Reservation, O-be-quot (Firm) from Fond du Lac Reservation, Sing-quak-onse (Little Pine) from La Pointe Reservation, Ja-ge-gwa-yo (Can’t Tell) from La Pointe Reservation, Na-gon-ab (He Sits Ahead) from Fond du Lac Reservation, and O-ma-shin-a-way (Messenger) from Bad River Reservation.

It appears that Armstrong listed the men according to their order in the photograph.  He identifies Akiwenzii as “Ba-quas (He Sews),” which until I find otherwise, I’m going to assume the chief had two names (a common occurrence) since the village is the same.  Aamoons, Giishkitawag, Edawi-giizhig and Naaganab are all in the photograph in the places corresponding to the order in Armstrong’s list.  That means we can identify the other men in the photo.

I don’t know anything about O-be-quot from Fond du Lac (who appears to have been moved in the engraving) or S[h]ing-guak-onse from Red Cliff (who is cut out of the photo entirely) other than the fact that the latter shares a name with a famous 19th-century Sault Ste. Marie chief.  Travis Armstrong’s outstanding website, chiefbuffalo.com, has more information on these chiefs and the mission of the delegation.

Seated to the right of Naaganab, in front of Edawi-giizhig is Omizhinawe, the brother of and speaker for Blackbird of Bad River.  Finally, the broad-shouldered chief on the bottom left is “Ja-ge-gwa-yo (Can’t Tell)” from Red Cliff.  This is Jajigwyong, the son of Chief Buffalo, who signed the treaties as a chief in his own right.  Jayjigwyong, sometimes called Little Chief Buffalo, was known for being an early convert to Catholicism and for encouraging his followers to dress in European style.  Indeed, we see him and the rest of the chiefs dressed in buttoned coats and bow-ties and wearing their Lincoln medals.

Wait a minute… button coats?…  bow-ties?… medals?…. a chief identified as Buffalo…That reminds me of…

This image is generally identified as Chief Buffalo (Wikimedia Commons)

UPDATE APRIL 27, 2014 The mystery is not solved.  Read this updated correction for why the photo can’t be Jechiikwii’o (Jayjigwyong) in 1862.

Anyway, with that mystery solved, we can move on to the next one.  It concerns a photograph that is well-known to any student of Chequamegon-area history in the mid 19th century (or any Chequamegon History reader who looks at the banners on the side of this page).Noooooo!!!!!!!  I’ve been trying to identify the person in The above “Chief Buffalo” photo for years, and the answer was in Armstrong all along!  Now I need to revise this post among others.  I had already begun to suspect it was Jayjigwyong rather than his father, but my evidence was circumstantial.  This leaves me without a doubt.  This picture of the younger Chief Buffalo, not his more-famous father.

The photo showing an annuity payment, must have been widely distributed in its day, because it has made it’s way into various formats in archives and historical societies around the world.  It has also been reproduced in several secondary works including Ronald Satz’ Chippewa Treaty Rights, Patty Loew’s Indian Nations of Wisconsin, Hamilton Ross’ La Pointe:  Village Outpost on Madeline Island, and in numerous other pamphlets, videos, and displays in the Chequamegon Region.  However, few seem to agree on the basic facts:

When was it taken?

Where was it taken?

Who was the photographer?

Who are the people in the photograph?

We’ll start with a cropped version that seems to be the most popular in reproductions:

According to Hamilton Ross and the Wisconsin Historical Society:  “Annuity Payment at La Pointe: Indians receiving payment. Seated on the right is John W. Bell. Others are, left to right, Asaph Whittlesey, Agent Henry C. Gilbert, and William S. Warren (son of Truman Warren).” 1870. Photographer Charles Zimmerman (more info).

In the next one, we see a wider version of the image turned into a souvenir card much like the ones of the chiefs further up the post:

According to the Minnesota Historical Society “Scene at Indian payment, Wisconsin; man in black hat, lower right, is identified as Richard Bardon, Superior, Wisconsin, then acting Indian school teacher and farmer” c.1871 by Charles Zimmerman (more info).

In this version, we can see more foreground and the backs of the two men sitting in front.

According to the Library of Congress:  “Cherokee payments(?). Several men seated around table counting coins; large group of Native Americans stand in background.” Published 1870-1900 (more info).

The image also exists in engraved forms, both slightly modified…

According to Benjamin Armstrong:  “Annuity papment [sic] at La Pointe 1852” (From Armstrong’s Early Life Among the Indians)

…and greatly-modified.

Harper’s Weekly August 5, 1871:  “Payment of Indian Annuities–Coming up to the Pay Table.” (more info)

It should also be mentioned that another image exists that was clearly taken on the same day.  We see many of the same faces in the crowd:

Scene at Indian payment, probably at Odanah, Wisconsin. c.1865 by Charles Zimmerman (more info)

We have a lot of conflicting information here.  If we exclude the Library of Congress Cherokee reference, we can be pretty sure that this is an annuity payment at La Pointe or Odanah, which means it was to the Lake Superior Ojibwe.  However, we have dates ranging from as early as 1852 up to 1900. These payments took place, interrupted from 1850-1852 by the Sandy Lake Removal, from 1837 to 1874.

Although he would have attended a number of these payments, Benjamin Armstrong’s date of 1852, is too early.  A number of secondary sources have connected this photo to dates in the early 1850s, but outside of Armstrong, there is no evidence to support it.

Charles Zimmerman, who is credited as the photographer when someone is credited, became active in St. Paul in the late 1860s, which would point to the 1870-71 dates as more likely.  However, if you scroll up the page and look at Giishkitaawag, Akiwenzii, and Aamoons again, you’ll see that these photos, (taken in the early 1860s) are credited to “Whitney & Zimmerman,” even though they predate Zimmerman’s career.

What happened was that Zimmerman partnered with Joel Whitney around 1870, eventually taking over the business, and inherited all Whitney’s negatives (and apparently those of James Martin as well).  There must have been an increase in demand for images of Indian peoples in the 1870s, because Zimmerman re-released many of the earlier Whitney images.

So, we’re left with a question.  Did Zimmerman take the photograph of the annuity payment around 1870, or did he simply reproduce a Whitney negative from a decade earlier?

I had a hard time finding any primary information that would point to an answer.  However, the Summer 1990 edition of the Minnesota History magazine includes an article by Bonnie G. Wilson called Working the Light:  Nineteenth Century Professional Photographers in Minnesota.  In this article, we find the following:

“…Zimmerman was not a stay-at-home artist.  He took some of his era’s finest landscape photos of Minnesota, specializing in stereographs of the Twin Cities area, but also traveling to Odanah, Wisconsin for an Indian annuity payment…”

In the footnotes, Wilson writes:

“The MHS has ten views in the Odanah series, which were used as a basis for engravings in Harper’s Weekly, Aug. 5, 1871.  See also Winona Republican, Oct. 12, 1869 p.3;”

Not having access to the Winona Republican, I tried to see how many of the “Odanah series” I could track down.  Zimmerman must have sold a lot of stereocards, because this task was surprisingly easy.  Not all are labelled as being in Odanah, but the backgrounds are similar enough to suggest they were all taken in the same place.  Click on them to view enlarged versions at various digital archives.

Scene at Indian Payment, Odanah Wisconsin (Minnesota Historical Society)

Chippewa Wedding (British Museum)

Domestic Life–Chippewa Indians (British Museum)

Chippewa Wedding (British Museum)

Finally…

Scene at Indian Payment–Odanah, Wis.  (Wikimedia Images)

So, if Zimmerman took the “Odanah series” in 1869, and the pay table image is part of it, then this is a picture of the 1869 payment.  To be absolutely certain, we should try to identify the men in the image.

This task is easier than ever because the New York Public Library has uploaded a high-resolution scan of the Whitney & Zimmerman stereocard version to Wikimedia Commons.  For the first time, we can really get a close look at the men and women in this photo.

They say a picture tells a thousand words.  I’m thinking I could write ten-thousand and still not say as much as the faces in this picture.

zimpay2 zimpay3

To try to date the photo, I decided to concentrate the six most conspicuous men in the photo:

1)  The chief in the fur cap whose face in the shadows.

2)  The gray-haired man standing behind him.

3)  The man sitting behind the table who is handing over a payment.

4)  The man with the long beard, cigar, and top hat.

5) The man with the goatee looking down at the money sitting to the left of the top-hat guy (to the right in our view)

6)  The man with glasses sitting at the table nearest the photographer

According to Hamilton Ross, #3 is Asaph Whittlesey, #4 is Agent Henry Gilbert, #5 is William S. Warren (son of Truman), and #6 is John W. Bell.  While all four of those men could have been found at annuity payments as various points between 1850 and 1870, this appears to be a total guess by Ross.  Three of the four men appear to be of at least partial Native descent and only one (Warren) of those identified by Ross was Ojibwe.  Chronologically, it doesn’t add up either.  Those four wouldn’t have been at the same table at the same time.  Additionally, we can cross-reference two of them with other photos.

Asaph Whittlesey was an interesting looking dude, but he’s not in the Zimmerman photo (Wisconsin Historical Society).

Henry C. Gilbert was the Indian Agent during the Treaty of 1854 and oversaw the 1855 annuity payment, but he was dead by the time the “Zimmerman” photo was taken (Branch County Photographs)

Whittlesey and Gilbert are not in the photograph.

The man who I label as #5 is identified by Ross as William S. Warren.  This seems like a reasonable guess, though considering the others, I don’t know that it’s based on any evidence.  Warren, who shares a first name with his famous uncle William Whipple Warren, worked as a missionary in this area.

The man I label #6 is called John W. Bell by Ross and Richard Bardon by the Minnesota Historical Society.  I highly doubt either of these.  I haven’t found photos of either to confirm, but the Ireland-born Bardon and the Montreal-born Bell were both white men.  Mr. 6 appears to be Native.  I did briefly consider Bell as a suspect for #4, though.

Neither Ross nor the Minnesota Historical Society speculated on #1 or #2.

At this point, I cannot positively identify Mssrs. 1, 2, 3, 5, or 6.  I have suspicions about each, but I am not skilled at matching faces, so these are wild guesses at this point:

#1 is too covered in shadows for a clear identification.  However, the fact that he is wearing the traditional fur headwrap of an Ojibwe civil chief, along with a warrior’s feather, indicates that he is one of the traditional chiefs, probably from Bad River but possibly from Lac Courte Oreilles or Lac du Flambeau.  I can’t see his face well enough to say whether or not he’s in one of the delegation photos from the top of the post.

#2 could be Edawi-giizhig (see above), but I can’t be certain.

#3 is also tricky.  When I started to examine this photo, one of the faces I was looking for was that of Joseph Gurnoe of Red Cliff.  You can see him in a picture toward the top of the post with the Roy brothers.  Gurnoe was very active with the Indian Agency in Bayfield as a clerk, interpreter, and in other positions.  Comparing the two photos I can’t say whether or not that’s him.  Leave a comment if you think you know.

#5 could be a number of different people.

#6 I don’t have a solid guess on either.  His apparent age, and the fact that the Minnesota Historical Society’s guess was a government farmer and schoolteacher, makes me wonder about Henry Blatchford.  Blatchford took over the Odanah Mission and farm from Leonard Wheeler in the 1860s.  This was after spending decades as Rev. Sherman Hall’s interpreter, and as a teacher and missionary in La Pointe and Odanah area.  When this photo was taken, Blatchford had nearly four decades of experience as an interpreter for the Government.  I don’t have any proof that it’s him, but he is someone who is easy to imagine having a place at the pay table.

Finally, I’ll backtrack to #4, whose clearly identifiable gray-streaked beard allows us to firmly date the photo.  The man is Col. John H. Knight, who came to Bayfield as Indian Agent in 1869.

Col. John H. Knight (Wisconsin Historical Society)

Knight oversaw a couple of annuity payments, but considering the other evidence, I’m confident that the popular image that decorates the sides of the Chequamegon History site was indeed taken at Odanah by Charles Zimmerman at the 1869 annuity payment.

Do you agree?  Do you disagree?  Have you spotted anything in any of these photos that begs for more investigation?  Leave a comment.

As for myself, it’s a relief to finally get all these photo mysteries out of my post backlog.  The 1870 date on the Zimmerman photo reminds me that I’m spending too much time in the later 19th century.  After all, the subtitle of this website says it’s history before 1860.  I think it might be time to go back for a while to the days of the old North West Company or maybe even to Pontiac.  Stay tuned, and thanks for reading,