By Amorin Mello


Selected letters of the Joel Allen Barber Papers 

… continued from the Spring of 1857.


 

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

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

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

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

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

Milwaukee Genealogical Society, 1881, page 790.

Augustus Barber Grave

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

~ FindAGrave.com

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

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

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

Chequamegon Point

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

barber apostle islands

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

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

  • William W Ward
  • Alexander Aiken
  • Louis Nevioux

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

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

 


 

Exterior Field Notes

Township 51 North, Range 2 West

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

Barber, J. Allen

April 1857

Notebook ID: EXT27501

EXT27501 cover

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

EXT27501 book 275

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

EXT27501 affidavit 1

EXT27501 affidavit 2

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

EXT27501 copy 1

EXT27501 copy 2.jpg

 


 

Interior Field Notes

Barber, J. Allen

Mar. 1857

Notebook ID: INT011E03

INT011E03 cover

No. 11 T. 46-47-52-&53. R. 1. East”

 

Township 46 North, Range 1 East

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

T46N R1E detail from 1860 whittlesey map

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

 

Township 47 North, Range 1 East

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

View on Montreal River

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

 

Township 52 North, Range 1 East

T52N R1E

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

 

Township 53 North, Range 1 East

T53N R1E survey

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

T53N R1E title page

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

T53N R1E assistants

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

T53N R1E affidavit 1

T53N R1E affidavit 2

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

 


 

Interior Field Notes

Township 51 North, Range 1 West

Barber, J. Allen

Apr. 1857

Notebook ID: INT010W04

T51N R1W

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

T51N R1W title

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

T51N R1W assistants

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

T51N R1W affidavit 1

T51N R1W 2

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

 


 

Interior Field Notes

Township 52 North Range 1 West

Barber, J. Allen

Apr. 1857

Notebook ID: INT010W05

T52N R1W

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

T52N R1W title

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

T52N R1W assistants

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

T52N R1W affidavit

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

 


 

Interior Field Notes

Township 53 North Range 1 West

Barber, J. Allen

Apr. 1857

Notebook ID: INT010W06

T53N R1W

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

T53N R1W title

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

T53N R1W assistants

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

T53N R1W affidavit

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

 


 

Interior Field Notes

Township 50 North Range 2 West

Barber, J. Allen

Apr. 1857

Notebook ID: INT019W04

T50N R2W

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

T50N R2W title

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

T50N R2W assistants

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

T50N R2W affidavit

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

 


 

Interior Field Notes

Township 51 North Range 2 West

Barber, J. Allen

Apr. 1857

Notebook ID: INT019W02

T51N R2W survey

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

T51N R2W title

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

T51N R2W assistants

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

T51N R2W general remarks

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

T51N R2W affidavit 1

T51N R2W affidavit 2

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

T51N R2W end

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

 


 

Interior Field Notes

Township 52 North Range 2 West

Barber, J. Allen

Apr. 1857

Notebook ID: INT019W03

T52N R2W

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

T52N R2W title

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

T52N R2W general remarks

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

T52N R2W affidavit

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

 


 

Interior Field Notes

Township 53 North Range 2 West

Barber, J. Allen

Apr. 1857

Notebook ID: INT019W05

T53N R2W

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

T53N R2W assistants

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

T53N R2W affidavit

T53N R2W affidavit 2

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

 


 

Interior Field Notes

Township 51 North Range 3 West

Barber, J. Allen

Apr. 1857

Notebook ID: INT030W06

T51N R3W

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

T51N R3W title

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

T51N R3W assistants

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

T51N R3W general remarks

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

T51N R3W affidavit

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

 


 

Interior Field Notes

Township 52 North Range 3 West

Barber, J. Allen

Apr. 1857

Notebook ID: INT030W07

T52N R3W

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

T52N R3W title

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

T52N R3W assistants 1

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

T52N R3W general description

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

T52N R3W affidavit 1

T52N R3W affidavit 2

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

 


 

Interior Field Notes

Township 53 North Range 3 West

Barber, J. Allen

Apr. 1857

Notebook ID: INT030W08

T53N R3W

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

T53N R3W title

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

T53N R3W assistants

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

T53N R3W general description

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

T53N R3W affidavit

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

 


 

Interior Field Notes

Township 51 North Range 4 West

Barber, J. Allen

Apr. 1857

Notebook ID: INT040W04

T51N R4W

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

T51N R4W title.jpg

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

T51N R4W assistants

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

T51N R4W general description

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

T51N R4W general description 2

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

T51N R4W affidavit 1

T51N R4W affidavit 2

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

 


 

Interior Field Notes

Township 52 North Range 4 West

Barber, J. Allen

Apr. 1857

Notebook ID: INT040W05

T52N R4W

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

T52N R4W title

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

T52N R4W assistants

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

T52N R4W general description

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

T52N R4W affidavit 1.jpg

T52N R4W affidavit 2

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

 


 

Interior Field Notes

Township 52 North Range 5 West

Barber, J. Allen

Apr. 1857

Notebook ID: INT050W04

T52N R5W

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

T52N R5W title

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

T52N R5W assistants

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

T52N R5W affidavit 1

T52N R5W affidavit 2

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

 


 

1857-08-22 Bayfield Mercury header

Bayfield Mercury, August 22, 1857.

IRONTON

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


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

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

Josiah_whitney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


 

Lancaster Aug 30th 1857

Dear Son.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mother

 


 

Johnson Sept 20 /57

Friend Allen

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

Good night

Hattie C.

P.S.

Beware of those pretty squaws out there.

 

Allen,

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

That’s all

Am

 


 

Lancaster Sept 20th 1857

Dear Son.

george r stuntz

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

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

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

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

Augustus Barber Grave

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

~ FindAGrave.com

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

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

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

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

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

your Mother

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

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

 


 

To be continued in the Fall of 1857

By Amorin Mello

Selected letters of the Joel Allen Barber Papers 

… continued from Winter of 1857.


 Cambridge Sunday April 12th 1857

Dear Son

It is some weeks since I have written a word to you, for the reason, that after I learned that you had gone to Superior & might be coming down to Lancaster, all my letters to you might fail of ever reaching you, so I have held on till I should learn something further from you.  We have recd several letters from you, since your arrival at Superior, for which we were thankful, & I trust that when you got back again to La Pointe our old friend Esq Bell had a lot of my letters for you that would take a long time to read, i.e. if you should have patience enough to read them all through I wrote you last on the 8th of March & next day letters from you, one dated at La Pointe & one for Amherst dated at Fargo’s.  Since that time nothing any important has occurred within the circle of your acquaintance.  Every thing has jogged on in the old beaten track.  We are all three well, & it is a remarkably healthy time all around us.  There have been but 3 or 4 deaths in town since I came home.  Deacon Reynolds aged 90 Lyman Seeley’s wife & Walter Wheeler [???s] wife & a boy of D.R. Evan’s.  In Johnson no deaths that I can think of except old Mrs Hunt who died last week.  The marriages in this town have been very few & none that you will know any thing about except Susan Harvey who was married last week.  In Johnson very few, Calvin Whiting has lately married the widow W. (Albe‘s Mother).

Albe Whiting was a hometown friend and reoccuring character in the Barber Papers.

This has been a remarkable sugar season thus far, but we are probably through or nearly so for this year.  Dow has made about 1150 lbs & has a lot more to sugar off.  Amherst has tapped 15 trees where Mr Harvey who used to make sugar in our woods and has made about 250 lbs of the kindest sugar ever made in Vt as he used tin milkpans to catch his sap & boil in the great caldron kettle & every thing is done up scientifically.  It would amuse you to see how the “Hops” put into it, as he goes into the woods at 7 a.m. gathers his work, over 3 or 4 times boils it down & draws it down on the handsled in the largest wine keg, at night, often after dark, & half the way in deep mud, sometimes breaking his draw ropes & nearly blistering his hands by drawing on the rope.  Amherst has got to be a great swarthy half breed 5 feet 5 ½ inches high in his stockings & weighs 140 lbs as well & free from every ail as one could wish & if you do not see him soon you will never be able to handle him again.

We had a great flood last week as high as I have ever seen it, save a very few times tearing the banks terribly, carrying off fences, bridges, & doing all sorts of mischief generally.  Our meadow will part with a slice from the trees just below the house to the large trees on our bank [????] the creeping rock about ½ a rod wide.  You will be surprised to see how the meadow is going off, the more it wears, the faster it goes next time & it will not be long before it will go all off entirely.  If it were like all other meadows, that gained in some other place as fast as it last elsewhere it would be more tolerable.  But we shall have to grin & bear it, awhile, till we all make up our minds to let somebody else have it & try what they can do to save it.  Another great objection to our meadow is its liability to have the soil carried off & great holes washed out, if plowed, & there is 1/3 or nearly of the meadow in this state & for want of plowing it does not produce more than 1/3 of what it should do.

Dow is still on the place, though he & wife are bad enough I do not see as I can do better. Jonathan Nichols has got back with his family to Cambridge, Irving sold out in Al. but on?? is homesick to get back again.

You will get a letter from me with a copy of a notice from the Land Office at Mineral Point, & probably you will get a copy of the law as passed by Congress, before this reaches you, or I can cut it out and send it in this letter so that you can see it for yourself which I think the best way & you can also see Oscar’s [???], & as you have lately written to your Uncle Allen I suppose he will give you all needful advise on the subject.

On further reflection I will not send you the Law, you will get it in William’s Paper of March 21st if it now goes to La Pointe as his father said he should direct it [???] Nov 20th thenI think will be no trouble in your case, as you will see that all entries under that act

“where the purchaser has made affidavit & paid the purchase money as required by [?d] [a?] & the instructions issued & in force & in the hands of the Regent at the time of making said entry, are hereby legalised & [???] shall issue to the parties respectively, Excepting those entries under said act, which the Commissioner of the Gen. Land Office may ascertain to have been fraudulently, or evasively made.” 

Giles Addison Barber first visit to his son Joel Allen Barber on Lake Superior was during the Summer and Fall of 1856.

This is all the law governing your case & I think there will be no difficulty whatever about it.  Your entry was made in good faith & you went to the Lake to earn something with which to improve your land & have forfeited nothing there.  I was thinking that if you came to Lancaster I would go there & take you with me to the Lake via the Sault when I go up there in May or June.  However if you do come I know it as soon as you get there, & if you do not I shall expect to find you at or around La Pointe in health & in good spirits I hope, & probably glad to see one from below, but not gladder than we should be to see you here.

Joel Allen Barber began surveying the Apostle Islands during the Winter of 1855 with his brother Augustus.

I am surprised to learn that you are going to survey islands so late in the season.  Nothing that I can now say will avail any thing else I would caution against trusting too long to the treacherous covering over the dark blue waters.  I hope you will have good success and get through without any fatal accidents to your self or to any one of your party.  I shall feel great anxiety on your account, till I hear from you again, but shall try to comfort myself with the assurance you gave us in a late letter that you were careful to avoid all danger as much as possible, not only on your own account but on that “of your parents & dear brother.”  I cannot expect to get answer to this before it is time to go up to the Lake, but that need not deter you from writing, if you do not come below, & if you do come to Lancaster you may expect to see your Mother there forthwith & possibly Amherst & myself.  I do not yet know what I shall do with Amherst this season whether continue him at school put him in a store or to some trade.  He would like to be a printer well enough, & it is not a bad business.  Whether it would be best to have him go through college is matter of uncertainty with me.  There are half as many spoiled by going to college as there benefitted by it.  But I do want you to close up all your business around that Lake & come to your Uncle’s Office to study Law.  Thode Burr thinks of it & his Uncle wants to have him.  I wish you to take the matter into consideration.  May God preserve your life & health and prosper you in all lawful undertakings

I remain your Affectionate father

Giles A. Barber

Amherst has shot 3 muskrats to day, prices better now from 15 to 25 ¢.

The death of Albert McEwen was mentioned in the Superior Chronicle and Benjamin Armstrong’s memoir.

I am very sorry for the fate of poor McEwen.  I fear he is dead & that his fate will never be known.  I think he was abandoned by his guides & perished alone.

Mr Young is still alive I suppose, have heard lately that he was worse.

U.S. Representative Augustus Young, U.S. President James Buchanan Jr, the Kansas question, and the Southern Confederacy were featured during the Winter of 1857.

You will see that Buchanan is the worst patron of Border Ruffians & the meanest tool of slave holders that has yet cursed the nation, appointing the worst fire eaters and none else to office in Kansas, & doing all the dirty work of the south crushing out freedom & establishing slavery all over the [?????] if possible.


Superior Chronicle

April 14th, 1857

SUPPOSED MURDER.

superior-chronicle-april-14-1857-murder-on-grand-footpath detail

“Supposed Murder” was a newspaper article published in the Superior Chronicle issue of April 14th, 1857.

March 19th, 1857, Barber Papers:
I am much alarmed for the safety of Friend McEwen & think the prospect of his being alive is very small.  The case deserves a rigid investigation to ascertain whether he was murdered by his guides, or was deserted by them & left to perish in the wilderness.  The weather was favorable about that time & for some days after.  I think he left La Pointe Oct. 14th the day I got back from Montreal River.  ‘Poor Mc’”.

Considerable anxiety is felt by the people of La Pointe county in regard to the whereabouts of Mr. Albert McEwen, a citizen of that county, who started overland for St. Paul sometime during the months of October or November of last year; and of whom nothing has since been heard. Strong suspicions that he was murdered are entertained by his friends. The circumstances, as near as we can learn them, are as follows:

History of Northern Wisconsin
by Western Historical Co., 1881
Ironton, which was settled at the time of the iron excitement, was situated on the south shore of the lake, one-half mile west of the Montreal River. The village was platted in 1856-7, by McEwan [Albert McEwen], Herbert, Mandlebaum, and others. Warehouses and docks were built, and the place thrived for about four years, when it was abandoned.”

Mr. McEwen, a gentleman from Detroit connected with the Indian Agency, and several persons from La Pointe county, with half-breed packers, started together last fall to go across the country, and traveled in company until reaching the head waters of the St. Croix. Here McEwen and the gentleman from Detroit procured canoes and, with two half-breed yoyaguers, determined to descend the river, while the remainder of the party took the land route. When the latter party reached Yellow Lake they found the half-breeds there, but could learn nothing definite in regard to McEwen and his companion; nor could the learn anything in St. Paul, where both these gentlemen had business engagements.

McEwen was known to have about $600 in notes and drafts on his person, and his companion $1,000 in gold. The half-breeds were seen a short time after in St. Paul in possession of large sums of money, principally gold. It is believed that they murdered these gentlemen while descending the river. The circumstances are strongly in favor of this belief.

Was McEwen’s party going “across the country” to the Office of Indian Affairs in Washington D.C.?

Mr. McEwen had resided in and about LaPointe for several years, and owns considerable property in that county. He was an explorer; and is well and favorably known throughout the lake region. The other gentleman was in the employ of Mr. Gilbert, superintendent of the Lake Superior Indians; and was returning to Detroit from La Pointe, where he had been on business connected with the agency.

Benjamin Armstrong organized the McEwen search party.

At latest advices a party were organizing at La Pointe to go to the St. Croix and arrest the half-breeds, and if possible learn the fate of the missing persons.


Early Life among the Indians:

by Benjamin Armstrong

CHAPTER XVII.

A Murder on a Trial at Yellow Lake.——Yet a Mystery.——Collar and Sleeve Buttons of the Murdered Man.——An Introduction to the Bear Family.

early life among the indians

Early Life Among The Indians by Benjamin Armstrong, Chapter XVII.

In 1855 [sic] a man named McEwen came to me at La Pointe who told me he was from California formerly, but was then located at St. Paul; that he had been prospecting through this part of the country for some time for the purpose of finding a suitable location for business and to buy real estate but as the weather was becoming unfavorable for this work he had resolved to return to St. Paul and wanted to know if I could furnish a couple of good reliable men to pilot him as far as Yellow Lake, for when once there he could get on alone over old lumber roads to St. Paul. I furnished him with two men whom I considered reliable. They were two half breeds by the name of Gostelang, their first names being Belamy and Batese, and it transpired that they did their duty and left McEwen at Yellow Lake all right, at a stopping place kept by Joseph Cobaux (or Cavillion), and that McEwen remained at this place two nights and a day. I further ascertained that Cobaux advised McEwen not to follow the tote road as he had intended but to go by trail to Clam Lake and from there to Wood Lake, as it would shorten the distance some ten or twelve miles and that he would send a man with him as a pilot until he should again come to the tote road, which he would do at a place called Knute Anderson’s Meadow. Subsequent events show that McEwen took this advise but he was never again seen alive by his friends.

North Woods River:
The St. Croix River in Upper Midwest History
By Eileen M. McMahon, Theodore J. Karamanski, pages 64-66.

Among the unsavory traders who entered the St. Croix at this time was Joe Covillion. He was a Metis who took over the former mission school at Yellow Lake and used it for his post. Located on the Yellow River just where it leaves Little Yellow Lake, the trading house was the scene of many drunken reveries and a key location in the first murder mystery in the St. Croix valley. In 1845 [sic] Albert McEwen hired Covillion to guide him to timberlands in the Yellow Lake region. McEwen had a large amount of gold coin he hoped to use to secure title to lands upon which a profitable speculation might be made. McEwen never returned from the trip. Covillion explained that he had actually not been with McEwen and he cast suspicion on a Chippewa who was alleged to have actually served as guide. Not long afterwards McEwen’s body was found stuffed in a hallow tree about ten miles from Covilion’s post. Preliminary investigation revealed that Covillion had in his possession a large amount of gold coins, McEwen’s watch, and a fist full of land warrants. Calmly the trader explained that he obtained these from the Chippewa in trade. Later that winter the Indian whom Covillion had claimed guided McEwen was found dead in his camp. Covillion, the owner of ‘considerable property’ retired to Taylor’s Falls, where he died in 1877.”

It seems that McEwen had written to a partner of his in St. Paul prior to his departure that he would arrive there about a certain time, and that his partner had become anxious about him after the time had expired. He wrote to me. I answered him telling all I could, which was his start and arrival at Yellow Lake. In a short time after this friend of McEwen‘s, whose name I cannot remember, came to La Pointe to ferrit out the mystery. I gave him what information I could and he set out, promising to let me know from Yellow Lake what success he was having. He did so, saying that McEwen had arrived at Yellow Lake and remained there two nights and the men that I had sent returned the next morning. I then sent two men to Yellow Lake, who could talk both English and Chippewa, and instructed them to talk with whites and Indians and get all the information they could and the route he had taken and follow it and find out if possible what had became of the man. They ascertained at Yellow Lake from the Indians that Cobaux had sent a man with him by way of Clam Lake trail. The men followed. At Clam Lake they found where they had a fire and had cooked a meal. The next sign they found was at Wood Lake where they had occupied an old lumber camp. Here they found blood stains but a thorough search of the camp only revealed a tin box in which McEwen had carried his papers and minutes of land descriptions. The streams and lakes were now frozen over and snow had fallen and further search had to be abandoned until spring. A search was instituted then which resulted in finding his body in a little lake at the head of Wood Lake proper. The head had been cut with an axe or hatchet on the back part of it. Nothing by which he could be identified was left except his clothing. His collar button and shirt studs and a valuable finger ring, which he told me were made of gold he had dug himself, were missing. I do not think McEwen had any money about him except what might have been left from ten dollars which he borrowed from me. The collar button and Shirt studs, or similar ones, were afterward seen in a shirt worn by a trader at St. Croix Falls, but there being no one who could identify them to a certainty, we were compelled to be satisfied with our own conclusions, but from what we had seen of them and what he had said of them, we were more than satisfied that they were the property of Mr. McEwen.

In the spring of 1841 my first real good introduction to the bear family took place. It was in the logging camp of Mr. Page and less than one mile from the present city of Hudson, Wis. The camp had been pretty well cleared out of its supplies, theyhaving been moved down to the place where the drive would begin. Only a few papers, scalers rule and time book and a keg part full of molasses were left behind. One afternoon after the landings had been broken and booming about completed, Mr. Page requested me to take a man and go to the camp and return in the morning, bringing the rule and papers and have the man bring along the keg of molasses. I took a young Indian about twenty years of age, named Wa-sa-je-zik, and started for the camp. It was nearly dark when we started and we had a mile to walk over a muddy trail. The boy stripped some birch bark from an old wigwam near the road and made a torch to use as a light when we reached the shany. When near he handed me the torch and picked up some wood to make a fire. I lit the torch at the cabin and found the door partly open but went in followed by the boy and dashed his armful of wood down at the fire place. At this we heard a rush along side the camp at our left that nearly scared the life out of us and raising the torch we beheld two bears, who had doubtlessly been attracted to the cabin by the scent of the molasses. They made a rush for the door where they entered but it was closed and wheeling about they faced us, their eyes shining with a lustre that we would much rather have seen in a painting.

Imprisoned with two bears

Plate “Imprisoned with Two Bears” between pages 238 and 239.

But we were there; no door but the one the bears were guarding and no window where we could escape. We stood like statues for awhile eyeing our companions, while the torch was fast burning away. The roof was made of shakes and the eaves were about four feet from the ground. Escape we must or we would soon be in the dark with our black companions. We expected every moment to be pounced upon, for every spring bears, as a usual thing, are very hungry. It occurred to me that perhaps I could move the shakes enough to crawl through and handing the now shortened torch to the boy and at the same time instructing him to keep it waving to hold bruin at bay, I made a dash for the shakes and soon had a hole through which I could crawl and did crawl and shouted to Wa-sa-je-zik to come. The lad went through that hole like an arrow, and he was none too quick, for the bear espied the light of Heaven through the hole I had made and dashed for it, but missed his footing and fell back. By this time we had the shakes kicked back to place and Messrs. Bruin were our prisoners. We camped outside that night and in the morning got a rifle and killed them both. We took the hides and the best of the meat to the boys on the drive and had a regular pow-wow and feast to celebrate our adventure.

Did Benjamin Armstrong leaving a clue to connect Albert McEwen‘s death and stories about the bear family in this chapter?

I had several experiences with bears after this but never again was caught in their den. A black bear is harmless except when wounded or cornered and then they are a wicked foe. I once wounded one and before I could reload my gun he was almost upon me and we had a lively promenade around an old pine stub until I got my hunting hatchet from my belt and dealt him several blows when he gave up the fight and we had no quarrels over gate receipts. He started away uttering an occasional growl. I picked up my gun and finished loading it and I soon had his hide as a trophy.

I did not meet Wa-sa-je-zik again until two or three years ago when I met him at Granite Falls, on the Mississippi. He recognized me at once and began to relate the story and it seemed like meeting a long lost brother, when our encounter with the bears had been revived.

Cambridge, April 22nd 1857

My Dear Son

Augustus Barber Grave

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

This has been a sorgawful day to me, feeling more impressed with the awful calamity that befel over dear lamented Augustus and all our family in his loss One year ago to day.

I wanted to immerse myself in solitary seclusion from every body & every thing and mourn my sad bereavements, but that was impossible in the house so I went on the hill with Amherst & have been at work with him where we had none to molest or make us afraid.  Time has done nothing toward healing the wound, though perhaps something in habituating me to my affliction, so that if my grief is not so fresh & new it is still none the less severe.  There are many painful reflections & questions that are suggested by this calamity & 1st whether it was an act of providence in thus snatching him from this life the only way of which we have any certainty & that naturally brings up the question, why was it?  Was it for his good?  or for the good of any other persons in the world?  I know there are those who see, or pretend to see, some intended good in whatever they term the dealings of an [in?????] Providence, but my faith is not so strong in such things as to afford me any consolation in my affliction.

Could I be satisfied that an overruling Providence has removed our dear Augustus from this life, it would not be as painful to bear as it now is, for I should then be satisfied that it was not without wise & sufficient cause, whatever the cause might be, & I should humbly bow to that disposation however distressing it might be

It must remain a sealed book to us, how Augustus was hurried out of the woods, and why it was so ordained if there, was any ordination about it, till we meet him in another world, which I devoutly hope we may do though I am sorry to say more hoping than expecting.  Could that blessed assurance, that we shall meet him in the future state of existence, pervade our minds, how death would be show of his greatest terrors.  That we may all be enlightened, and be enabled to discover the truths, and guided in the path of wisdom & duty is my daily prayer.

It has been a great sugar season beyond any thing for a dozen years.  Dow has made over 1600 lbs.  Buck on the Carlston farm 2500 lbs.  Some have over 2000 & some over 3000 lbs.  Amherst has made some over 300 lbs with 74 milkpans & 4 buckets.  We are surfeited with sweet this spring.

It is still a general time of health all around us.

I got a letter from our Aunt Martha a few days ago, saying that Mr Burr was then at Lancaster, was still no better satisfied with the place than when there before, but he was in progress of a trade, buying out your Uncle Thode’s interest in the firm of Howe & Barber, taking an inventory of the goods &c.  He sent Thode home soon after getting there, on a visit I suppose, he Thode went to Brooklyn & brought Emily home from thence.  Mrs B. feels rather unpleasantly about going to L. “because Thode has done so miserably there, yet knows it is all his fault”.  I expect to hear from him again soon, possibly to night.  Alvira promised to come up and make us a story of some time this spring, but a letter recd to day from her informed us that she cannot come at present.  She is going in a few days to her husband within 10 miles of N.Y. City & has so much work to fit up a gal that is to be married next week that she cannot come wisely concluding that we can bear the disappointment better than the gal could that of not getting married just now while she is in the fit of it though she had seen her intended but 2 or 3 times & had not been acquainted with him over 4 weeks.  Alvira enquires for you & says “how I would like to see him” 

23rd

I suppose it is about time to begin to prepare for my journey to the Great Lake & I am so perplexed about that & other matters so that I at times hardly know how to turn myself.

Your mother has so many schemes that I consider unwise & impractical that are daily urged upon me that I find there is no way but to take the course I think best under all circumstances.  One is to hire out the farm & every thing on it for a term of years and move enough of our effects to Lancaster to keep house with & then go to building & improving the farm, at the same time leaving this place to go to hell faster if possible, than it has done for the 5 years that it has been farmed by somebody else, nor can any thing I say, convince her that whoever rented the place would do his utmost to skin it and rob it of every thing that could be taken from it.  (& now she having read the last two or three lines is accusing me of committing this very stripping & robbery myself saying that I take every thing for other purposes & put nothing on the farm again by way of repairs &c)  The fact is this.  The expensive journey taken by me last year is set down by her as a pleasure trip & I am continually reminded of spending all I can get in traveling back & forth between here & Wisconsin as though I do it for the purpose of wasting the money & nothing else.

If I ever go to Lancaster to live on that little farm I want to make it a pleasant and attractive home.  This considering the expense of building & fencing will require some money more than I shall have left in my pockets after I have got the family there, & to think of building without that means would be no wise & consistent as many other plans I hear daily proposed.”  One of which to build on the scanty remainders (here my patience gave way).  The trouble is, she wants to be present whenever anything is to be done, so as to exercise her undoubted & undisputed [p???ation] to “Benjamin” the business fully confident of her superior judgement & experience in all out-of-door work or mechanical or [????????] operations.

I recd a letter last evening from your Uncle Allen in relation to your land in Little Grant.  He writes the substance of the act of March 2nd 1857 as recd by him from Squires, & who concludes by saying “all entries will be reqarded as regular & in good faith untill there is proof to the contrary.”  Your Uncle says “who will therefore see that it is not necessary for Allen to take immediate steps to settle &c & for this reason I have taken no steps about Lumber.”

I had written to him to purchase lumber enough to build a house, thinking you would be down and need it to save your place.  Whether you come down or not I want to hear from you again before I leave home for the west.  Your Mother talks of going to Lancaster, but at times, especially at this minute, she talks as though she should not go, & that is the way the scale vibrates.  Amherst & I went yesterday to cutting the small spruces that have sprung up over the pasture & grows to be pretty good sized trees some 6 or 7 inches through & we shall probably try it again to day.  Amherst has now [?] rat skins having killed three this morning before breakfast, but one floated into the stream so that he would not get it by following it to the dry hill.  He is doing great things with the little old gun, will work in the woods till supper & then go ball over the meadow till dark.  My time is up.  Give my love to the boys & believe me your ever affectionate father

G.A. Barber


Cambridge Sunday May 3rd 1857

Dear Son

I again sit down to say a few words to you after a pause from April 22nd to this time.

Not really knowing whether you are coming down to Lancaster, or not, I have not been so punctual as previously on account of the uncertainty of your getting my letters so that you must not impute my [rumapneps?] in waiting to any [dririmestion?] of parental affection or anxiety for your welfare.  The last letter from you was dated at Superior March 15th and though I have great fears for your safety I shall hope to receive more of your ever welcome letters assuring us of your life being preserved & health also.  We are well at home, Amherst has gone to St Albans to day with Mr Kingsbury to return again to morrow.  Our Alvira is here with us on a visit & we should have a good time of it, if we could only make her feel contented & happy.  She came up last Thursday & says she must return this week.  Her husband is at Spuyten Duyvil creek 11 miles above N.Y. on the East bank of the Hudson and she is soon going to join him.  Your Uncle Burr has been to Lancaster & bought out T.M.B.’s interest in the stores & has come out in the Herald with the new firm of Howe & Burr, so that they are all bound to go to Wisconsin to live.  I think I wrote you in my last that Thode had come home for a visit but I do not know whether he has gone back again.  Your Uncle Allen writes me about your land &c, & I wrote you the substance of his letter.  He also sent word by Mr Burr to me, that I need have no uneasiness about it, as he thought all was right now.

I recd a letter from Mr Hayes a few days ago Saying that M. S. Bright had returned from Washington, was told by Mr Stevens the Lawyer there that there was no doubt of our land suit being decided in our favor, there being no trouble in the case.

Augustus Barber got into A Little Trouble and died soon after he decided to Let ‘Em Rip.

I am fearful that the expense of obtaining it will be half as Enough as it is all worth.  Still I shall not regret having done all in my power to hold it, as I think it was carrying out what Augustus would have wished could he have permitted to foresee his untimely death, & given directions.

Our spring has been unusually cold and backwards, so that Hay is in great request, though not very dear.  Dow has bought 2 loads at $8.00 per ton & may have to buy some more.  Very little has been done at springs work yet, the roads have been badly torn & what grieves me most of all is, the banks of the river are wearing away so fast on our meadow & is [??] going off like shot & in a few years we think have no meadow left, but every body’s meadows are suffering more or less this spring.  Well, let them slide, in 100 years from now I shall not care what becomes of them, for I hope now of my posterity will be situated so that it will affect them.

I have to day been to the funeral of Elias Chadwick’s mother.  The old Meeting house was pretty full of old familiar faces, they had very good singing and preaching some like [Bes/Mrs?] Peet’s.  I have been trying to get Alvira to write something in this letter to you but she declines, saying if she writes to you she wants to write a good long letter.  How do you get along with your survey of the Islands?  Are Baker, Jo & William with you? if so give them my best [????] respects & tell them I will be with them in a short time, & am some better of my lameness so that I work about on the hills some, cutting up the everlasting growth of small spruces that have sprung up.

They are quite thick in some places, especially in that part of the pasture toward [P????] where they make quite a forest.  Some that I cut down will have limbs 4 feet long lying upon the ground and all the [??????] 12 or 15 ft shortening toward the top & when I get them off I find a good deal of good pasture reclaimed.  Amherst works with me and is quite strong and happy, and generally ready & willing to do almost any thing if he can work with me.  I am at a loss what to do with him this summer, think some of taking him to Pointe aux Tremble where the Dougherty girls went a year or two ago, about 10 miles below Montreal on the left bank of the St Lawrence.  He would acquire more French there in 4 months than in 9 months at any of our Academies, and the expense would be no greater.

The new Dr. (Deming) has just gone by returning from Johnson where he has been to see [Du??] Dow who is very sick & probably cannot live through it.  There has been but 4 funerals in this town before to day since I got home Dec 25th which I think is very well for as large a population as ours.  We had a great [?????] in Feb. & two very great floods this spring, and now we are getting the water over the meadows again to night and probably we shall have one or two more before planting is over by the time the floods are over our meadow will be pretty well whittled down.  I hope there will be a little left.

May 4th

Giles was to join his son Allen on Lake Superior for a second summer and continue working on Augustus’ unresolved land claims and survey contracts with the U.S. General Land Office.

All alive yet.  Some angry debate last night, because I said I should go to Lancaster if you came down there & then go up to the Lake in company with you.  The intention being to put you through to Superior on a bee line, let what will happen, & that was what I had calculated on doing, so that I should not be more than a week or then days in reaching La Pointe, unless you should be down at Lancaster when I should go there & join you.

Another theme of warm debate is concerning the disposition of the farm.  No 1 contends to have it rented for an annual rent with the cows, oxen, horses & every thing for 5 years & we all go to Lancaster to live on the farm there leaving this to be stripped of every thing the cattle & horses to die out and every thing on this place even if we are to sell it, & then go to Lancaster where there are no buildings, & have to build without [m?????].

May 5th

I went up to Johnson to Mead’s & N. Hydepark yesterday & it began to rain hard & steady while there & kept it up till I got home bringing a load of lumber with me.  Amherst came home & in the rain all the way from that Conglomerate Ledge 16 miles & when he got home you may be assured he made a sorry figure.  He found Thode Burr at home, & all the family well as usual.  They are not determined whether they will move to Lancaster in June or wait till fall, but rather thought to go in June.  Thode & two of the Girls will be here to day, or to morrow, & then I shall know more about the matter.  Amherst carried down this 13 pelts and realized $2.23 from them..  Am shot an owl up in the woods one of the large kind, wounded his wing so that he could not fly, had brought him down & kept him two weeks when he got away & went to the woods again.  Alvira has gone up to Sylvia’s & to Johnson & is coming back in a few days.  Amherst & Kingsbury saw Ryan Ballard yesterday, who Land he should come out & see me soon & probably send up some small articles to Hiram when I go up there.  I am yet undecided as to the time of starting for your country.  Take good care of yourself, and ever rely upon the paternal affection and solicitude of an affectionate father

G. A. Barber

J. Allen Barber Esq.


Laura Burr her writing

“Laura [?] Burr” in “her writing” is signed on the top margin of this letter.

Cambridge May 10th 1857

Dear Son

Again I sit down to give you the the assurance that we are all well, and are not unmindful of you our dear son.  Especially do we feel the loss of your society to day & yesterday as Thode Burr, Emily, & Laura are here & we all feel how much our pleasure would be enhanced, were you of our number.  Nor would your company have been less agreeable last week when Alvira was here & Hannah, Amy, Charlotte, & Levi..

11th

I got broke off last night by the coming in of Dave Griswold Mary Ann Chadwick & Jim who has just got home from Wisconsin..  Mr Burrs folks are going in June to Lancaster for good.  Thode goes one week from to day.  He is going into your Uncle’s Office to read Laws, & how much I wish you would feel disposed to do the same & where now ready to begin with Thode, but says the objector (Mother) “There are 3rd & 4th rate lawyers enough now, more than can get a living,”  “Every boy should learn a trade,” &c &c, all too tedious to mention.  But I would advise you now, to so shape your matters that you can enter the office certainly this next fall, and go through with the study of Law as soon as practicable.  I do think it best for you, or I would not advise it, at any rate a year or two or even three devoted to the study of Law would be far from time & labor lost, even if you should then never practice any but follow farming or any other kind of business.  I do wish you would think of it, and if you can make up your mind, to try it, I think it will be the best thing you can do.  I do not want to have confined to such a dog’s life as [??] you are getting around Lake Superior.

I would certainly try to convince that famous objector that 3rd & 4th rate lawyers would never be more numerous for any thing you had to [??] with the Law, but of this be your own judge.  Amherst got home from St A. in the rain (I think I mentioned it in my last) and next day posted off to Johnson on foot to the exhibition a schedule of which I forward you, was there two nights & then came home on foot going down to Whitten’s after you r gloves making 4 miles extra travel 12 in all & then went to the top of the Gooseberry hill for snow, to warm sugar on for we melted some & cooked for By. who got back here some day.  But with Amhersts hard work this spring; hs exposure, & tramps he is getting worn down thin and has a bad cold on him.  Amherst heard at Johnson that Sis Hunt had left the Country to avoid the impertinent profanity of a Waterville girl.  Certain it is Sim carried Sis down one Sunday & went back two days afterward without him, & he has gone suddenly away leaving his shop and business, & if that is not the reason, none can tell what is.  The rumor at Johnson was, that he had vamosed to induce said female to bestow her billings gate or naughty words upon somebody else.  Poor Sister!  Though the rebellion caused snivelling, it did not wholly eradicate the old Adam, & perhaps his fall from grace was not so far as to break any of his bones… How are the Mighty fallen.  The ground was covered with snow this morning, the weather cold & unpleasant so that T.A.B. & the girls have not gone from to day & of cards, which for mental discipline is the best game of cards I know of.  Thode is the same old coon sitting on a rail.  Daniel [?] Dow died last Sunday making 5 that have died in [??????] street with in a year & none in any other part of the village next old Mrs Hunt, while we lived there B [?????????????] in all the rest of the village.

Since my last letter we have had a [???????] the 3rd this spring & 4th since Feb 12th & this last one has raised the very [????] with the meadows & banks, doing more damage than then meadow will repay in a long time.  I have not been down to ours yet & scarcely dare to do so, for fear my feelings may suffer.  I got a letter from Father dated May 1st saying Cyrus had sown the wheat on my land, set out some apple trees; & was plowing for corn.  There is where I want to be with means to erect suitable buildings & if we have anything more it will yield more profit there at interest than here in meadow land that is constantly giving us proofs of it fugacious nature.

12th

The Barber family was planning to join their relatives in Lancaster, Grant County, Wisconsin.

This letter did not get finished so as to “get to go” up to this time.  Thode & Laura & Emily left here this morning for home in high spirits, it is most likely the last visit they will ever make to Cambridge but if we all live to gether in Wis. it will answer every  purpose.

Amherst & I went up to cutting spruce bushes as soon as Thode went away & “wrought [son?],” till 4 o’clock this P.m without dinner or any rest.  We have so hard colds both of us, that we are unfit for labor, but the farther we get from the house the pleasanter it is, & this is the main reason why I am pursuing the bushes with such a vengeance.

I am afraid you would not be any better off if I should go on & fill out the sheet, & as Mother wants to go down to the store to night I will dry up.

The Barber Papers do not include copies of any letters from Lake Superior during the Spring of 1857.

Give my respects to all friends & accept of the best wishes for your welfare of your affectionate father

G. A. Barber


To be continued in the Summer of 1857

By Amorin Mello

Selected letters of the Joel Allen Barber Papers 

… continued from the Summer of 1856.


Lapoint Oct. 12th 1856

Dear Mother

This afternoon I returned from Bad River where I have been attending an Indian payment.  Father will tell you all about it.  I will only say I had a good time, saw many old friends and made some acquaintances among the government officials that I deem very portinate.  I also got a contract from the Indian agent on which I ought to make more than a thousand dollars.

Copy of agreement between Henry C Gilbert and Joel Allen Barber, to be done under the direction of Leonard Wheeler. ~ Board of Commissioners of Public Lands

Copy of contract between the LaPointe Indian Agency and Joel Allen Barber to survey the LaPointe Indian Reservation and “the gardens” town-site (Old Odanah), to be done under the direction of Reverend Leonard Wheeler.
~ Board of Commissioners of Public Lands

According to the Trygg Land Office‘s map sheet #15, the Bad River Reservation survey began during 1855.
Barber had already begun surveying at the LaPointe Indian Reservation as of January of 1856.  These survey notes of the Bad River Reservation are not available from the General Land Office Records or from the Wisconsin Public Land Survey Records.  Where are they archived today?
“George and Albert Stuntz surveyed around Bark Point and Ashland in 1854-5, though it was several years before the survey was completed. It was while on one of these expeditions that young Barber, son of Hon. J. Allen Barber, deceased, of Lancaster, was drowned in the Montreal River, at the foot of the falls, by being sucked into a whirlpool.”
~ History of Northern Wisconsin, page 64.
  Are these the Stuntz/Barber surveys hinted at during 1854 and the Winter of 1855?  Were these the survey notes that Barber worked on for his deceased brother during the Summer of 1856?

I could easily if I had means to carry it on to my liking.  It is surveying at $6.25 per mile.

Father has gone to Ironton.  I could not go as I wished to stay and conclude my business with the agent.

[You might?] I have been offered $50.00 per share for Ironton I took on which I have only paid 25 dollars per share, but I refused to take it.  It may cause you pain to see that I am everyday becoming more and more fastened to this country but I cannot think of deserting it yet.  As yet I have not realized one cent for my sojourn in the wilderness but I am far from being discouraged.  I have seen fortunes made and have seen men make tens of thousands by taking chances that I might as well have had but I was green and could not read the future.

I am not in a mood for writing my thoughts to you [see rum?] principally upon many matters.  Perhaps that is because I have been to payment and and because there is a gambling table in full opperation in the room where I am writing.

Ironton and Doctor Edwin Ellis were featured during the Summer of 1856, George R Stuntz was featured in the Prologue, and Albert C Stuntz was featured in the Penokee Survey Incidents.

It is strange that father never told you the facts in regards to the $600.

There was never any mystery about it to me.  Stuntz & Dr. Ellis had the money and returned over $400 of it.  It is all right or will be.  I nearly forgot to mention that I just got a letter from you to Father of Sept. 25th.

We are both well.  Please excuse haste and carelessness.

Your affectionate Son

Allen


[Incomplete copy of letter]

Father“visited Allen in the fall of 1856, and his letter of November 3, 1856, was written during a rough voyage down Lake Superior and Lake Michigan in the famed steamboat “Lady Elgin.”
~ Scope and Summary of Joel Allen Barber Papers
Who was this“young Englishman” ?
John Sidebotham?
William G Cowell?

There is a young Englishman aboard who has been quite a tourist.  He was in the Crimeran? army, went East of there to Ferlizand through Syria to their Holy land to Jerusalem to Egypt the Pyramids the Catacombs.  Through all the Country in the South of Europe and northward through Scotland to the [Shetwood Jelas?], has been travelling in the U.S. the past season & is now returning from Superior, got there the day we left [songs her?] visited that poor [Ratefu?] that lost his foot every day till he died.  He is a rich land lord & nobleman as I suppose and has a happy way of communicating information upon all subjects especially upon Geology, Mineralogy, Geography [overrated spy?] as well as all other “ologies”  He is laying [w/a Speciation?] & [conavasated ??? ??? from?] to England.

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

1860 photograph of the Paddle Steamboat “Lady Elgin”.
~ Ship-Wrecks.net

The Sault Ste. Marie (Soo) Canal created access for Great Lakes steamboats to Lake Superior in 1855.
Joseph Latham, and William W Ward worked on surveys with Barber’s older brother, Augustus, during Stuntz’s surveys.  Joseph Alcorn apparently did as well.

The boat has just put to the Canal & [???? ? ????]  Do be careful of your life & health and let us hear from you as often as you can.

May God bless and preserve you for many
years

G. A. Barber

Give my respect to Jo & William.


Interior Field Notes

La Pointe Indian Reservation
Township 47 North, Range 2 West

Barber, Joel Allen.

Notebook ID: [N/a]

Contract awarded by La Pointe Indian Agency to Joel Allen Barber and George R Stuntz on October 12th, 1856. Survey partially completed by Barber Stuntz during December, 1856. These survey notes are not available from the General Land Office or the Wisconsin Board of Commissioners of Public Lands.

Contract awarded by La Pointe Indian Agency to Joel Allen Barber on October 12th, 1856.  These survey notes are not available from the General Land Office or the Wisconsin Board of Commissioners of Public Lands.


Lapoint Nov 9th 1856

Dear Mother

Barber was elected as LaPointe County Surveyor on November 4th, 1856.
Barber’s land claim in Grant County was not secured yet due to his absence.  Barber was impostering their cousin on survey notes during the Fall of 1855.
The families of Reverend Leonard Wheeler and Government Carpenter John Stoddard settled at the Bad River Mission and Odanah town-site.

I start today for Bad river with four others to commence my job of surveying on the reserve.  I am well and in pretty good spirits.  Father left on the S.b. Lady Elgin last week.

I am in such a hurry that I can scarcely write legibly.  I was elected county Surveyor of this county last Tuesday.  My term of office commences Jan 2nd.

I would not like to have this known in Lancaster as it might cause me a little difficulty.  I am writing this in a [gragshop?] where there are several men talking so I couldn’t write very sensibly so you must excuse levity.  I will write as often as possible but don’t expect me every week as the mails are very irregular and it will be very inconvenient for me to write sometimes.  I expect to have a good time this winter.  Shall not be far from the very best kind of folks about the Mission and I beg of you don’t grieve because I remain here this winter.

I am very anxious to go home but you see I had something to stay for.

With best love to Am, Aunt Betsy and yourself.

I remain your affectionate Son

Allen


Lapoint Wis. Nov. 9th 1856

Dear Father

Members of the 1856 survey of the La Pointe Indian Reservation:
Joel Allen Barber;
William W Ward;
Larry Marston;
Joseph Latham.

I expect to get away today for Bad River with one party – Bill & I Larry Marston and Joseph Latham.

I went to Ironton on Saturday before election so I was not there on that interesting day.  That mound of earth has scarcely changed at all and will not materially in years.  Business is going on pretty well at Ironton.  The house is probably up [?? this?].

Members of the 1856 election for La Pointe County offices:
Joel Allen Barber;
Asaph Whittlesey;
Major McAboy;
[Fremont?];
James Buck;
and others.

The election came off here all right as far as I am concerned.  Whittlesey 11 or 12 and McAboy 1.  Whole number of votes 108.  [Fremont?] got ten votes.  The Buck ticket was carried throughout.  We only start with one party because no steamboat has come yet and it is doubtful where we shall get a large supply of provisions.

We are all well and prospering.  Give my love to all friends in Lancaster

Your affectionate Son

Allen

Excuse haste.


Interior Field Notes

La Pointe Indian Reservation
Township 48 North, Range 2 West

Barber, Joel Allen.

Notebook ID: [N/a]

 

Contract awarded by La Pointe Indian Agency to Joel Allen Barber on October 12th, 1856. These survey notes are not available from the General Land Office or the Wisconsin Board of Commissioners of Public Lands.

Contract awarded by La Pointe Indian Agency to Joel Allen Barber on October 12th, 1856. These survey notes are not available from the General Land Office or the Wisconsin Board of Commissioners of Public Lands.

 


Cambridge Nov 9th 1856

Dear Son.

Now that your father has left you I suppose you will be very glad to hear from Am and me sometimes; at least I hope you have not so much forgotten us that you do not look for a letter whenever the boat arrives and have one prepared to send home by every one.  But I forgot that there will be no boats for 5 or 6 long tedious months to come and I fear we shall hear from you but seldom.  Let me entreat you to have a letter ready to send to me at least by every visit that leaves your region.  I cannot imagine how any one can think of surveying in the deep, dark forest during the winter months to be exposed to storms, day and night without shelter – how you lived do tell me.  I am sure no one could live here through the winter in the woods without a pretty warm house and a good fire.  Were it not that I know you have had some experience in the business & manner of living I should feel certain you would be frozen or perish in some way.  But I suppose you have no such fears.

I have sent 2 or 3 letters for you and father to Lancaster supposing he would be there and hoping you would also.  In one I mentioned the happy marriage of M. C. Heath to a most excellent pious young lady who taught school in the village center last summer named Mott.  No one suspected his intention – not even his own family till he brought her home and presented her as his wife.  Every body is much pleased at the matter.

Mr. J Woodruff has departed this life after lingering and suffering much longer than his friends expected.  He tried every possible remedy, but nothing – not even Dr. Hunter’s boasted inhaling method could arrest the fated disease.  The latter remedy has been tried in several cases of Consumption in Johnson and equally failed in every case.

You have never said any thing about the trouble in your head and throught since you left home.  How is it – does it increase or has that climate proved beneficial in that affliction, as in other respects, to your health?

I am pained to have to announce the death of one more of your dear friends and school mates.  Julia Whiting has gone to the spirit world to join the happy throng of the young the beautiful and the good who have passed on before.  This is the fourth daughter that afflicted family have been called to mourn – they have but one left.  I mentioned the sickness of the rest of the family before – at last Julia was taken unwell with slow fever – then Typhoid symptoms which ended in death.  We heard of it the morning of the funeral and Amherst and I went to J to attend it, and do some errands.

I have had a little good fortune –.  Mr. Pike has at length drawn a small sum from the pensions office for me on account of my father’s services so [Serjeant?].  He only drew 80 dollars a year as private when he was entitled to 100 dollars as [Serjeant?].  The sum drawn was $209.86 out of which Pike takes about 25.00 for the expenses of getting it.  I never expected to get so much if I get anything – but trouble and expense.

If you stay at the lake this winter what will become of your title to the land you bought in Grant?  You will have to improve it some before June or you will lose it. I wrote to you about Lewis Wilson.  I understand he has gone into the Blake house for this winter but has bought nothing.  I have not seen him since I wrote you but would go to see them if we had a horse we could drive. “Old Grey” is so lame in her fore foot she cannot go farther than a walk so we do not drive her far and [Fate?] has a bad trick of starting and turning short about when she is a little frightened so that Dow thinks her unsafe for Am or I to drive.  She is a large, beautiful beast and perfectly gentle when not mad.

Oh, how I do wish you were going to spend the winter at home – you would have such nice times riding about and visiting the young people here.  There are several young ladies still single that would no doubt like to take a side.  There is not a large number to be sure but some of them are worthy of the attention of any good young man.  There is Miss Anna Bryant who is said to be a prodigy of learning and good sense – and Carry C – your old school mate – lovely as a rose – accomplished in all domestic affairs, and, as you well know, an excellent schollar.  But of all those with which we are acquainted there is no one so perfectly amiable and good – who would, if I am not deceived and misinformed be so desirable a companion for life as Miss C Griswold.  I believe she is beloved by old and young – one of the excellent of the earth.  And M. A. Chadwick who is always with her.  But I suppose none but little David can come near her.

The Barber Papers are an interesting case study in morality.  Stay tuned.

According to your father’s description of the people in your country, you must see a great deal of vice – drunkenness, gambling, quarreling, and I should expect fighting.  But I hope and pray with a strong faith that you in no way participate in such scenes.  With all my fears for your personal safety I have never had the sorrow of knowing or fearing that my dear sons would be tempted from the path of virtue.

What must be the agony of parents who have vicious children.  I believe that whenever a man conforms to the will of his Maker by using all in his own power – through the exercise of all his faculties he may safely trust in his protection.

That you may be as protected is the prayer of your affectionate Mother


Nov 10th 56

Dear brother Allen,

Barber’s younger brother, Amherst, lived with their parents in Vermont.

I have but little to write at this time but I thought I would put in a few lines to let you know that I still read [lest?] you & can write to you.  We suppose by father’s letters that you are yet to remain at the lake through the winter.  We were in hopes that you would go to Lancaster, or come home with father, but I don’t know but it will be best that you stay there.  But I wish you were to spend the winter in some more congenial & convenient situation if possible.  It is already pretty cold weather here & it freezes considerably.  Mother & I have been living in the old west room pretty comfortably this fall.  I have provided wood as fast as we needed it but I guess Dow will have to get it for us after this.  I am going to the Centre school now and enjoy it quite well.  Mr. Ed. Bryant, my teacher, is very well liked here, & is going to stay & teach select school through the winter.  We have a tolerable good [Scycum?] here now & I have some speaking & writing to do for it.  Last week was appointed to get up a dissertation, which I am now writing.  My subject is Noses.  There is not much going on here but the school & [Scycum?]. & it’s pretty dull times now.  Hardly any one here will talk polities except the business of whom there are 74 in town.  We got partial returns from election Saturday night which set the Democrats all right greatly.  That day we heard cannon all over the country.

Atwood’s folks are over here occasionally; all is well as usual; & Levi is I think improving in health as he works considerably now.  The Johnson school is flourishing nicely under their new teacher.  Old Bent, the former preceptor is now 2nd clerk of the Senate at Montpelier.  Mother & things at Johnson are getting along about as usual & the same in Cambridge. Allen, I have not written near as much as I ought, but some other time I’ll write a longer & better letter.  Now father is gone do let us hear from you often.  We will write you often.

Good bye

A. W. Barber


Lancaster 13th Nov 1856

Dear Son

I [improve?] this 1st Mail to inform you of my safe arrival here night before last at 8 P.M. & that all the friends here are well &c &c

Kingston Daily News
November 25, 1856
“Nov. 11 – The Steamer Lady Elgin, which left the St. Mary’s River for Chicago, Nov. 1st, had not, at latest advices, reached her port or been heard from elsewhere.”
~ MarinetimeHistoryOfTheGreatLakes.ca

I wrote you from the Sault by which you will learn my progress to that place.  Left there at 1 P.M. & ran down the river 40 miles when wind & fog threatened an unpleasant night & the Capt ran to a Sawmill dock & tied up for the night.  Next morning showed the wisdom of stopping for it was that awful snow storm Election day.  We land there 2 nights & on Wednesday started again stopped at Mackinaw 3 hours & then put out again against a dead head wind that increased in violence till 3 next morning when the Capt put about & ran 15 miles back for shelter under the North Manitou where we laid till 7 o’clock drifting down the shore & then storming up to the head of the Island.  Anchor was then thrown over & held untill 2 next morning when the boat drifted off with the anchor & we drifted down & steamed up the east shore till toward night when we made the dock on the Island the wind heaving about & changed from South to N.E. & blew like the D’l till just night next day (Saturday) when we started again for the [west?] shore of the Lake & [p????ed] our voyage till we reached Chicago toward might Sunday night.

These properties are on a margin of this letter to Allen from his Father. The handwriting appears to be of Allen's, not of his Father's:

These locations are on a page of this letter to Allen from his Father.
The handwriting appears to be of Allen’s, not of his Father’s:
“Lot 1 Sec 19 Town 48 R 4 con       44.37
Lot 1 39.99 and NE 1/4 of NE 1/4  39.99
Sec 24 Town 48 R 5 W containing  40.00
Lots                                              124.36
Lots 1 and 2 Sec 36 and NE 1/4 of SE 1/4
And SE 1/4 of NE 1/4 Sec 25 Town 48 R 5 West”
These locations are along the shoreline of Barksdale on either side of Boyd Creek (and underneath Chequamegon Bay).  Was this Barbers Camp?

Joseph Alcorn owned land in Grant County, where his family lived.  Father implied that Joseph Alcorn was working with Barber on this survey.  Was Joseph Latham an alias for Joseph Alcorn?

Monday I came to [Galena?].  Found on the [car?] John [Muskler?] & Sarah [Le???] on her way to live with Mr. L.O. Stevens in Iowa.  From them I heard direct from Johnson.  There is much sickness there this fall.  Dexter Whiting had been sick unto death of Typhoid fever but was getting well but had his upper lip all eaten off.  Mrs. W had also been sick & poor Julian was sick & died of some fever rather unexpectedly.  She had been asleep 30 hours & died [?] Sarah said she saw Mother & Amherst at the Funeral. Mr. Woodruff died 3 or 4 weeks ago.  It is about Mail time & I cannot be brief.  Tell Jo that Jay paid his taxes last spring so that he is all right there.

Algebra equations on a page

Algebra equations on the backside of a sheet from this letter.

W. W. Ward also had family in Grant County:
“Dexter Ward was born in Chittenden VT and came to Grant County on February 8, 1843. He settled in Lancaster where he was a carpenter and builder. He was elected Counstable in 1857 (? Possibly 1847) and held that job for 5 years. He was a deputy sheriff under Matthew Woods and George Stuntz.”
~ GrantCountySheriffWisconsin.com

Take good care of your life & health and do as well as you can for yourself.  I will write you again before leaving for VT.  You may be [apsment?] that it looks rather better about here where there are [lesasy?] crops all about me than about the Lake where there is nothing.  I called at the Sherriffs & left William’s letter, found all well.

In haste your affectionate father

G. A. Barber


Interior Field Notes

Odanah Townsite aka “The Gardens”

La Pointe Indian Reservation
Township 48 North, Range 3 West

Barber, Joel Allen.

November, 1856

Notebook ID: [N/a?]

"For Plat of Townsite Odanah LaPointe Indian Reservation [...] See Large Plat Book [s]Next to last page[/s] Middle of Book" ~ Board of Commissioners of Public Lands

“For Plat of Townsite Odanah
LaPointe Indian Reservation
and Resurvey of Sec 23, 24, 25, 26, 35, & 36
See Large Plat Book
Next to last page
Middle of Book”
~ Board of Commissioners of Public Lands

"Note Sections 23, 24, 25, 26, 35 & 36 having been previous surveyed by Mr George R Stuntz have been omitted by J. Allen Barber Dept. Surveyor, under Henry C. Gilbert, Indian Agent, so says Mr Barber but no evidence can be found to support his declaration either in the Gen'l L. Office or Indian Bureau. Secs 23, 24, 25, 26, 35 & 36 were recently surveyed by A.C. Stuntz so says the Comm'r Indian Affairs in his letter of Feb'y 6, 1865, inclosing a diagram thereof." ~ General Land Office Records

“*Note Sections 23, 24, 25, 26, 35 & 36 having been previous surveyed by Mr George R Stuntz have been omitted by J. Allen Barber Dept. Surveyor, under Henry C. Gilbert, Indian Agent, so says Mr Barber but no evidence can be found to support his declaration either in the Gen’l L. Office or Indian Bureau. Secs 23, 24, 25, 26, 35 & 36 were recently surveyed by A.C. Stuntz so says the Comm’r Indian Affairs in his letter of Feb’y 6, 1865, inclosing a diagram thereof.”
~ General Land Office Records


LaPoint Nov. 22nd 1856

Dear Mother

Detail of "Chippewa Gardens" at Odanah from Summary narrative of an exploratory expedition to the sources of the Mississippi River, in 1820, by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, page 105.

Detail of the “Chippewa Gardens” at Odanah from Summary narrative of an exploratory expedition to the sources of the Mississippi River, in 1820, by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, page 105.

Many Lives Lost on Lake Superior.

The steamer Superior was lost near Grand Island, Lake Superior, October 29, 1856, during a violent storm. Her rudder was carried away and the boat fell into the trough of the sea. She commenced making, the fires were put out and she struck the rocks, soon after going to pieces. Thirty-five lives, including 11 passengers, were lost, and 16, including five passengers, were saved. Capt. Hiram J. Jones was among the lost. The Superior was considered one of the best sea boats in the trade, and had lived through many a storm. She left Chicago October 25, loaded principally with supplies for miners.”
~ History of the Great Lakes, Chapter 37.

Yesterday I arrived here from Bad River in a Macinaw boat with two fair men, we have been surveying nearly two weeks although we have scarcely made a beginning.  Thus far we have been at work at “the Gardens” as the settlement at Bad River is called to layout out an Indian Village.  I was over to Bay City [???] Wednesday to see about getting provisions for the winter but got [clism?] appointed and found others in the same fix.  Mr. Stuntz had promised to furnish us with provisions but all his supplies were last on the Superior.  You have probably seen an account of that said disaster.  The boat was last on the pictured rocks in the night, 45 or 50 lives were lost, only 16 saved.  As for us I have heard no one was lost that I know personally.  No one may prove Superior with [3 Sisters?] were lost.  [This?] father lived in Superior – his name is [Mentar?].  I have not much news to make.  I think my prospects [to get?] surveying are pretty fair.  I have been successful in getting a fair supply of provisions and if anything happened I believe we will do a pretty fair lot of work within the next month or two.  My provisions are not thought to be scarce but so navigation is closed prices will be high.

Pork is 30 dollars per Barrel, Sugar 15 or 15 cents per pound.

I have not yet decided when to go below but I should probably see Lancaster before many months.

Last night I attended a half breed ball – not as a participant but as a spectator.  The balls are rather an important affair as they generally last three days.

This appears to be Bishop Frederic Baraga.  His Catholic Priest was not identified; was this the same Catholic Priest featured in the BlackBird-Wheeler Alliance?

Last night was the third night and was necessarily the last as the ball was very suddenly “broken” by the Catholic priest about 8 o’clock.  The priest and Bishop came to the door and demanded admittance and the priest went in and after asking a few questions commanded them to disperse and you may depend on it there was a scattering.

Ironton is prospering finally.  Today I sold 6 shares at $60 per share.  They were sold to two men who are at work for me and are good men.  I am writing this in Squire Bell’s office and the others present are getting [warm?] and it is getting dark so I will fold this up.

Your affectionate Son

Allen


Interior Field Notes

La Pointe Indian Reservation
Township 47 North, Range 3 West

Barber, Joel Allen.

December, 1856

Notebook ID: [N/a]

Contract awarded by La Pointe Indian Agency to Joel Allen Barber and George R Stuntz on October 12th, 1856. Survey partially completed by Barber Stuntz during December, 1856. These survey notes are not available from the General Land Office or the Wisconsin Board of Commissioners of Public Lands.

Contract awarded by La Pointe Indian Agency to Joel Allen Barber and George R Stuntz on October 12th, 1856. Survey partially completed by Barber and Stuntz during December, 1856. These survey notes are not available from the General Land Office or the Wisconsin Board of Commissioners of Public Lands.

Detail of Bad River Falls omitted from Barber's second survey of 1856.

Detail of Sturgeon Falls on the Bad River omitted from Barber’s resurvey during 1858.

Detail of White River omitted from Barber's second survey during 1858.

Detail of the White River omitted from Barber’s resurvey during 1858.

 


Lancaster, Sunday Dec 7th 1856

Dear Son Allen

Here I am yet, amid my friends in this beautiful country.  It was far from my intention to have spent so long a time here, but one hindrance after another has prevented my getting away.  It is my design to leave the present week & stop at Sandusky probably over next Sunday.  I have now passed by my friends three times, and feel as though to do so any more would look like studied neglect of them.

My disappointment at not getting any thing from you up to this time is great, & I now begin to hope you have sent a letter or two to Vermont instead of here, & that I shall find them all right when I get there.  Though to tell the truth I am in some concern for your safety, fearing that you have been wrecked on your journey from La Pointe to Ironton or Bad River.  I am still in hopes to get a letter from you tomorrow or before I leave the place.  Your friends are all well hereabouts, and everything carry on swimmingly.

Thode Burr was dismissed from Ryland & Swab’s employment last Monday, not for any fault but because Ryland has got well enough to work in the Store “[the St Louis?]” are able to do all their business.  He is doing nothing at present though he could have $30.00 per Month to go into a school at [Baserbol?].  I mistake perhaps in saying that he is doing nothing, for he is attending [any/my?] [earnestly?] to his [hymn?] & nothing else.

George Parker & Lincoln of [Midden?] (you know him) are in DTP [stom?].  Lincoln was in College 2 years & had to quit on account of sore eyes after trying to resume study twice.  He gave me the following items concerning some of the Johnson Boys.

[Thuler?] was expelled last June for participating in the annual mock training contrary to the command of the College Officers.  He talked of going to [knive Coll. Schunistudy?], but has not yet.  Hotchkiss had to quit College & has gone to work on the farm.  [Spurr?] is Married to a Miss [Denny?] of [Largage?] a real visage and was teaching in Mass. receiving $1000. for his & his wife’s services for [canninor?].

This is all that he told me of them.  Had there been any thing else worthy of note, he would have told of it.

I wrote you about the Small pox being in the town & that there had been some deaths.  Whether there have been any since my last I cannot say.  Only 3 in all.  There are no new cases for some 10 days or more & it is hoped that it will spread no further.  Mr. James Mc[Gonigal?] brother to William from Tennessee was was buried last Sunday.  He was taken sick of fever the Sunday previous, & went to bed saying, that was the last time, & was expecting to die untill he breathed his last on Friday night at 10’o’clock.  He was a very fine young man, had lost a wife & only child, before he came here, & has been clerk for D.T.P. for some time.

Wm Carter & Miss [Rawdon?] were married last Thursday.

I should feel much better if you were living in this country than I do now, when my mind is constantly worried by thoughts of you suffering from cold, fatigue, hunger & all sorts of privations, to say nothing of being deprived of all society congenial to your natural taste.

The “badgers” were lead miners in the southwestern part of Wisconsin.

I cannot sit down to a good meal or get into one of the warm soft comfortable beds, without thinking of my poor son who is where all such things are unknown, and may be suffering for want of the comforts that here so much abound and especially did I think of you last Sunday when there was the worst storm of snow from the N.E. ever known in the Western part of Wisconsin, so said by all the badgers.  Snow fell 18 in deep in the timber, but it piled up in the roads & streets like it does in Vermont.  The snow was drifted into one place East of Galena 40 feet on the track with a freight train beneath.  They got the [cars?] through yesterday.  The weather has been very cold here for this time of the year.  Thursday Morning 4th Therm 11* below 0,  Friday 14* below 0, & Saturday 6th at 14* below 0.  I do not believe Vermont ever beat that in the 1st week of December, & in all that time I have been thinking how you & your company must suffer if out in the woods surveying.

I hope you keep warm nights, if so, you can do enough in the day to keep from suffering.  My greatest fears at present for your [sloping?].

Allen Hyde has been very swift to purchase the little farm and has offered $35.00 per acre by my taking $415.00 of it in two lots of land.  One of five acres South of the burying grounds at $315, & directly opposite the new schoolhouse.  The other is a meadow of 8 acres out towards where [Sprader?] used to live at $[6.00/600?] which is cheap for either place.  But I shall not be in great haste about selling for I should prefer that that little piece of land should remain in the family even if I do not live to come on it myself.  There is quite a stir about farms at present.  There was a Mr. Hayward from N.Y. State wishing to purchase & bartered for Jay’s farm & I think would have paid $50.00 per acre for it but Jay would not sale without he could put in his 2 ½ acres of an out lot with it.  Mr. H. offered Frank Hyde $36.40 per acre for his land, East of Hollaway’s & did buy Hyde’s new brick house built the summer past near Esq. Philp’s new house, at $1,000.

Joseph Alcorn owned land in Grant County.  Joseph Latham did not.  Was Latham an alias for Alcorn?

Tell Jo that I think I shall want to buy his land when I can see him.  I went to it soon after I got here, but I was sick all the time so I could scarcely move, consequently did not see much of it & cared very little for what I did see.  Tell Wm. W. Ward that I did as I promised to do, & went to his Father’s and had a good meal that would astonish any body from Lake Superior.  I have been there three times since I came, I wish you boys could have had some of the chicken din & other fixings… Wm’s eldest sister played on the [a Melodron?] & sang a number of [piren?]… Mr. Richard [Myers?], an old country Dutchman who married Martha Phelps’ sister to your Aunt [Lucy?], is erecting a steam Sawmill just across the brook due East from your Uncle Allen’s & intends to have it ready for business in the spring  & Mr. [Kirke?] of Philadelphia talks of coming here to erect a Steam Gristmill in the springs.

Some things are as dear here as in the country around you.  Coffe 6 lbs per $1.00.  Sugar 7 lbs per 1 doll.  Butter 25¢ for [good/gevd?] but Pork sells for 5. to 5.50 [gevd?] fat beef rather better than [Cousin?] Ox for [?] for [foze grs?] & 5. for Hind do.  Flour $2.50 per 100 lbs, &c.  Venison is brought in and sold frequently & on the whole I think there is more comfort in living here than there you can be on the Lake.

I find considerable difficulty in settling off with Old Black for the proceeds of the little farm but shall get through with him tomorrow I now hope he has drawn some [manners?] on the orchard & and done some [plervisy?] for [Sish?] he charges exorbitantly, all done before I came & he had harvested most of the corn, but I am confident the dishonest whelp will cheat me out of a good deal any way I can fix it, but I will get shut of him some way and remain so ever afterward.  He has sold his tavern stand today & taken a farm 4 miles north of the Village in payment of a Mr. Wilhinson.  There is a new store opened in the [forver?] East of the Burnett House where J. M. Otis over traded by two men under the firm of Baily & Carroll who are giving the build a new Gristmill below Handall’s Sawmill.

Portrait of Uncle Joel Allen Barber from page 199 of the Proceedings of the State Bar Association of Wisconsin, Volume 1900. A memoir of Uncle Joel is found on page 198.

Portrait of Uncle Joel Allen Barber from page 199 of the Proceedings of the State Bar Association of Wisconsin, Volume 1900.

The prospect now is that your Uncle Allen will be elected U.S. Senator for the next 6 years after the 4th March next.  I would not write this had I not good reasons for believing that it will be so.  And now in regard to yourself, I do hope you will be careful of your life and health, that you will avoid exposure to the dangers of the cold & the treacherous ice as much as possible.  That you will not trust yourself on the ice, long distances in the cold or storms, or alone.  Finally I beseech you to take all possible care of yourself.  If you have not got blankets enough to keep you sufficiently warm nights do so & get more & not suffer or be uncomfortable without or for want of them.  I do not feel reconciled to the thought of going home without hearing from you, & knowing that you are alive & well.  I overhauled the trunk of our dear lamented Augustus yesterday and [leave?] nearly every thing as I found it.  There are some good clothes, that may be of service to you, should God spare you to ever come down here.  I have rec’d a number of letters from home since I got here, but none lately, as they are probably expecting me home about this time, all were well.  I do not know whether I mentioned in my letter to you that your mother had drawn $209. from Government additional pension money.

Adieu my dear son.

That our Heavenly father will bless and preserve you is the daily prayer of your affectionate as well as afflicted father.

Giles A. Barber


To be continued in the Winter of 1857

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