Personal Memoirs Of A Residence Of Thirty Years With The Indian Tribes On The American Frontiers
Henry Rowe Schoolcraft
Part 10 out of 15
imaginable kinds, which, to his fancied eye, fill all surrounding space.
If he be skilled in the magic rites of the sacred meda, or jesukewin, it
is but to call on these spirits, and his necromantic behest is at its
highest point of energy.
In reference to this spiritual creation, the word _mish_ signifies
great, or rather big, but as adjectives are, like substantives,
transitive, the term requires a transitive objective sign, to mark the
thing or person that is big, hence the term _michi_ signifies big
spirit, or "fairy"--for it is a kind of _pukwudjininne_, and not of
_monetoes_ that are described. The terms _nim_ and _auk_, dance and
tree, and the local _ong_, are introduced to describe the particular
locality and circumstances of the mythologic dances. The true meaning of
the phrase, therefore, appears to be, Place of the Dancing Spirits. The
popular etymology that derives the word from Big Turtle, is still
farther back in the chain of etymology, and is founded on the fact that
the _michi_ are turtle spirits. This is the result of my inquiries with
the best interpreters of the language. The French, to whom we owe the
original orthography, used _ch_ for _sh_, interchanged _n_ for _l_ in
the third syllable, and modified the syllables _auk_ and _ong_ into the
sounds of _ack_--which are, I believe, general rules founded on the
organs of utterance, in their adoption by that nation of Indian words.
Hence Michilimackinack. The word has, in Indian, a plural inflective in
_oag_, which the French threw away. The Iroquois, who extended their
incursions here, called it Ti-e-don-de-ro-ga.
_Aug. 1st_. While at Detroit (July 24th) Mr. Arthur Bronson, the money
capitalist, and Mr. Charles Butler, from New York, came to that place
with a large sum for investment in lands. This appeared to be the first
unmistakeable sign in this quarter, of that rage for investment in
western lands, which the country experienced for several years, and
which, acting universally, produced in 1836 a surplus revenue to the U.
S. treasury of fifty millions of dollars.
_15th_. Saganosh, an Ottawa chief of St. Martin's Island, visited the
office with eleven followers. I asked him if any of the relatives of
Gitche Naigow, of whom tradition spoke, yet lived. He pointed to his
wife, and said she was a daughter of Gitche Naigow. I asked her her age.
She did not know (probably fifty-five to sixty). She said her father
died and was buried at the Manistee River (North), that he was very old,
and died of old age--probably ninety. She said he was so old and feeble,
that the last spring before his death, when they came out from their
sugar camp to the open lake shore, she carried him on her back.
He had not, she said, been at the massacre of old Mackinack (described
by Henry), being then at _L'Arbre Croche_, but he came to the spot soon
afterwards. She had heard him speak of it. Says she was a little girl
when the British, in removing the post from the main land, first brought
over their cattle, and began to take possession of the present island of
The old fort on the peninsula was called _Bik-wut-in-ong_ by the
Indians, but the island always had the name of _Mish-in-e-mauk-in-ong_.
Her father used to encamp where the village of Mackinack is now built.
Her name is _Na-do-wa-kwa_, Iroquois woman. Thus far the wife of
Saganosh. The man added that he lived on the island of Boisblanc, where
he had a garden, when the English vessel arrived to take possession of
Mackinack. He then went to the largest of the St. Martin's islands,
where he has continued to reside to this day, with intervals of absence.
He does not know his age, he may be seventy. Neither of them recollect
to have heard of "Wawetum," or "Menehwehwa," mentioned by
[Footnote 65: Henry's Travels.]
_16th_. Mr. Porlier, of Green Bay, remarks that he is now in the
sixty-ninth year of his age. Fifty years ago, he says, he first came to
Michilimackinack, and the post had then been removed from the main land
about three years. This would place the date of the removal about 1780.
On turning to the MSS. of John Baptiste Perrault, in my possession, he
says that he arrived at Mackinack on the 28th of June, 1783. That the
merchants had not then completed all their buildings consequent on the
removal. That the removal had taken place recently under Gov. Sinclair,
a commanding officer, so called by the French, who had been relieved the
preceding year by Captain Robinson. And that the 15th of July was kept
as the anniversary of the removal. It is probable, therefore, that the
post had been transferred in 1780 or '81.
The transfer from old to new Mackinack seems to have been gradual with
the inhabitants. Among the reasons for it, I was told, was the fear of
disturbance from the American war. The main reason doubtless was the
superiority of the island as a strong military position against
Captain Thorn told me that he had sailed to old Mackinack _seven_ years
_after_ the massacre. The inhabitants did not go all at once. They
dismantled their houses, and took away the windows, doors, &c.
_Aug. 19th_. Ningwegon (or the Wing) visited, with his band, consisting
(by the bundles of sticks) of ten men, twelve women, and six children.
Asked him where he was when the British took possession of this island
in 1812. He said at Detroit; that he had gone there previous to the
taking of the fort by the party from St. Joseph's; that he remained at
Detroit during the war; formed an acquaintance with Gov. Cass, who was
then commanding officer at that post, and had promised that his services
should be remembered.
[Footnote 66: This chief received an annuity under the treaty of 28th
He said his father was a native of Detroit, having lived a little above
the present site of the city. He was an Ottawa. He emigrated, with his
father and grandmother, to Waganukizzi (_L'Arbre Croche_), when young,
and he had since lived there. His father died, not many years since, a
very old man, at Maskigon River. He is himself seventy-six years of age,
and gray headed--the little hair he has (his head being shaved after the
Indian fashion). His eyesight fails in relation to near objects, but is
good in viewing distant ones. He bears his age well, looks firm, and is
erect of body, face full, and voice unimpaired. He is a man above six
feet in height, and well proportioned.
In speaking of the Seneca nation, he called them _As-sig-un-aigs,_ a
term by which they are distinguished from the general Algonquin term of
Na-do-wa, or Iroquis.
Of the establishment of the present military post of Mackinack, he said
that, when young, he had come over from the main with his father, along
with the party of British officers who came to reconnoitre the place for
the purpose of establishing a post on it. The party dined under the
trees (pointing to some large sugar-maples then standing in the military
garden, under the cliffs). The British officer, who had led the party,
then asked the Indians' consent to occupy it. This was not immediately
given; they took time to consider, and the removal of the fort was
Presented him a nest of kettles (twelve), two pieces of factory cloth,
two guns, five pounds of net-thread, and two hoes, together with a
requisition for provisions.
_24th_. Mud-je-ke-wiss, chief of Thunder Bay, a descendant of the captor
of old Mackinack, being questioned of his family, their former
residence, his knowledge and remembrance of affairs at old Mackinack,
replied that his father's name was Mud-je-ke-wiss; it had been
Kaigwiaidosa when he had been a young man. He had lived at Mackinack,
going to Thunder Bay to hunt. He died, not very old, at a treaty held on
the Maumee. He (himself) had heard of the taking of old Mackinack, but
was born after the removal of the post to the island, and his father
died before he had instructed him. He had not heard of Wawitum, or
Menehwehwa, of whom I questioned him.
This answer is a specimen of Indian caution and suspicion of white men.
I knew but little of the man then, and had seen him but once or twice.
He evidently "played shy," and was determined the Anglo-Saxon race
should get no facts from him that might ever be told to the disadvantage
of the Indians who had once, under the lead of a noted chief (Pontiac),
been led, under the deception of a ball-play, to fall on the unprepared
ranks of a British garrison, and stain their history with a horrible
tale of blood. Henry's travels preserve the most vivid account of this
massacre, for he was himself an eye witness of some of its atrocities,
and was spared, by a remarkable Providence, from being one of
It was not credible that seventy years should have left so little of
Indian tradition of that sanguinary event.
It is reported that letters written by Longlade, Indian interpreter at
old Mackinack, at and during the era of the massacre of the English
garrison, are in the possession of the Greenough family, at Green Bay.
They would, perhaps, throw some light on a transaction which is by far
the most tragic event of this _transition_ period of our Indian history.
By transition, I mean the era of the change from French to English
Anniversary of the Algic Society--Traditions of Chusco and Mukudapenais
respecting Gen. Wayne's treaty--Saliferous column in American
geology--Fact in lake commerce--Traditions of Mrs. Dousman and Mr.
Abbott respecting the first occupation of the Island of
Michilimackinack--Question of the substantive verb in the Chippewa
language--Meteoric phenomena during the month of December--Historical
1833. _Oct. 12th_. Business called me to Detroit, where I had a work in
the press, early in October. The Algic Society held its first
anniversary this day, in the Session Room of the Presbyterian Church.
The Secretary read a report of its proceedings, and submitted a body of
the vital statistics of the tribes of the Upper Lakes, which elicited an
animated discussion. Mr. Lathrop called attention to the singular fact,
that of the mothers reported in the tables, the rate of reproduction in
the hunter tribes did not exceed an average of over two children per
female. Mr. Sheldon thought the causes of their depopulation, since we
have been their neighbors, were rather seated in their extraordinary
attachment to the use of ardent spirits, than in the effects of wars,
internal or external. Mr. Clark believed the Indian youth were capable
of being brought under the power of moral and religious instruction. Mr.
Schoolcraft depicted the adverse circumstances under which the masses
had heretofore labored, in coming under plans of instruction and
Christianity, owing to their poverty; their dispersion over large areas
of country for large parts of the year; the impracticability of their
finding subsistence in large bodies at one place; and the deleterious
influence of the commerce in furs and peltries, on their moral and
mental character. He submitted a report of the proceedings of the St.
Mary's committee, showing, in detail, operations within the year. With
the limited sum of $151 10, they had been able to furnish elder John
Sunday an outfit for Keweena Bay in Lake Superior, and given two other
native converts, namely, John Otanchey and John Cabeach, the means of
pursuing their labors amongst the Chippewas during the winter of 1833.
They had sent an express, during the month of February, to the mission
of the American Board at La Pointe, in Lake Superior. Their minutes of
monthly meetings denoted that a valuable body of information had been
collected, respecting the population and statistics of the Chippewa
nation, and the grammatical structure of their language, &c.
The occasion being coincident with the meeting of the Synod of the
Western Reserve, at Detroit, many gentlemen of learning, benevolence,
and piety, were brought together, and a high degree of interest excited
respecting the condition and prospects of the tribes.
In accordance with a resolution passed the year previous, I recited a
poetic address on the character of the race, which was received with
approbation, and directed to be printed. This had been, in fact,
sketched in a time of leisure in the wilderness some years before.
I returned to Mackinack near the close of October, when I resumed my
traditionary inquiries. It was sought, as a mere matter of tradition, to
obtain from the Indians a recognition of the cession of this island, &c.
made by them to the United States through the instrumentality of Gen.
Wayne, at Greenville, in Ohio, in 1793.
Chusco  (muskrat), the old prophet or jossakeed of the Ottawa nation,
had told me of his presence at Greenville, at the treaty, while a young
man, alwith others of his tribe. He was a man who would attract
attention, naturally, from the peculiarities of his person and
character. He had been a man of small stature, not over five feet four
inches, when young, and of very light make. But he was now bent by age,
and walked with a staff. His hazel eyes still sparkled in a head of no
striking development, and with a peculiarity of expression of his lips,
gave him a striking expression of placidity in cunning. Hence his name,
which was given by the Indians from some fancied resemblance to this
animal, when jutting its head above water. He had, for forty years, made
_jeesuckawin_ (prophecying) for his people, when he was converted to
Christianity at the Mackinack Mission. He gave up at once his Indian
rites, but retained, to a great degree, his characteristic expression.
Some one had given him an old blue broadcloth coat with yellow metal
buttons, which he matched with dark-colored trousers, a vest, hat, and
moccasins. I always received him with marked attention, and often sent
him to the kitchen for a meal, where, indeed, the Indians had their
claims ever allowed by Mrs. S.
[Footnote 67: From Wauzhusko.]
_27th_. Muekudapenais, or Blackbird, an Ottawa, chief of L'Arbre Croche,
visited the office. I directed his attention to the tradition mentioned
by Chusco, respecting Wayne's treaty, and the inclusion of
Michilimackinack in the cessions. He confirmed this tradition. He said
that his uncle, Ish-ke-bug-ish-kum, gave the island, and that when he
returned he denied that he had given it, but the British took away his
medal in consequence. He said that three men of the party, who attended
this treaty, were still living. They were Op-wagun, Che-mo-ke-maun, and
Chusco. He thinks the land taken by the late surveys of Mr. Ellis, at
Point St. Ignace, was not given, but admits that the cession embraced
the area around old Mackinack, and the island of Boisblanc. The Indians
called Gen. Wayne _Che Noden_, the Strong Wind.
_30th_. The series of deposits, which embrace fossil salt, or produce
strong brine water, in the geological column of the rocks of the United
States, constitute a deeply important subject in science, and public
economy. Mr. James R. Rees, of Clyde, Ontario County, N.Y., sends me
the result of borings, made at that place, to the depth of 376 feet,
with samples of the rock, which appear to denote, if I have rightly
judged the geological data, a _roof and floor_, to the saliferous
formation. And the result gives a stimulant to further investigations.
_9th_. Commerce is rapidly invading the wilderness. Wheat in bulk, and
flour in bags and barrels, were brought down from St. Joseph's, through
the straits of Michigan, this fall; which is the first instance of the
kind, but one, in the commercial history of the country. Beef and wheat
were brought from the same post last season.
_Nov. 13th._ A remarkable display of the aurora borealis was observed
last night. The Indians, who call this phenomenon _Jebiug nemeiddewaud_,
or dancing spirits, describe it as radiating balls, streams of fire or
falling stars from the zenith into the lake.
Mr. Wm. Johnston, who was at Leech Lake, on the sources of the
Mississippi, describes the changing phenomena as wonderful. "The
weather," he says (13th Nov.), "is still very pleasant, with very little
frost at night. About two or three o'clock in the morning one of the men
came and awoke me. 'Come and see a strange sight,' he said. We went to
the door, where we saw, every now and then, stars shooting or falling.
The centre from whence they first appeared to the eye was, to us, nearly
in a direct line above our heads--from whence they went in all
directions, to all points of the compass. Most all our village people
were looking at them with fearful astonishment, and they were making
their remarks as their feelings caused them. We went in the house, and
each smoked his pipe, and we could not say much about the cause of what
we had seen, but only expressed our astonishment to each other.
"Before going to bed, we thought we would take another look at the
heavens. What a sight it was! The whole heaven appeared to be lit with
the falling stars, and we could now more plainly see, as it were, the
centre from whence they would shoot. The night was calm, the air clear;
nothing to disturb the stillness, but the hushed breathings of the men.
The stars were accompanied with a rustling noise, and, though they
appeared to fall as fast and as thick as hail, above them, now and then,
we could see some of the fixed stars, shining as bright as ever. But
these (falling stars) appeared to be far below them. I can compare it to
nothing more comprehensive than a hail storm. The sight was grand beyond
description. Yet I must confess that my feelings were awed into a
perfect silence. We stood and gazed, till we saw the bright streaks of
day appearing, and the stars began gradually to be less in number, till
the light of the sun caused them to disappear."
_28th_. I resumed the old traditions. Mrs. Michael Dousman observes that
her father (McDonnel) came to the island, with the troops, in 1782. That
the government house, so called, was then built, and a few other
buildings, but nothing as yet had been done towards the present fort on
the cliff. Gov. Sinclair, so called, was then in command. He was
relieved that year by Captain Robinson.
She thinks the removal from old Mackinack must have taken place about
1778 or 1779, under Sinclair. The inhabitants transferred their
residences gradually, bringing over the sashes and doors of their old
houses and setting them up here.
After the massacre, the troops remained some time. The Indians had not
burned the fort.
Says that Wawetum, the Indian chief, became blind, and was burned,
accidentally, in his lodge at the point (Ottawa Point). I had been
inquiring about Henry's account of him.
The Indians at Mackinack, she says, opposed its occupancy. Things came
to such a height in 1782 that Gov. Sinclair sent to Detroit for cannon.
It was a remarkable fact that the brig Dunmore, sent down on this
occasion, was absent from the island but _eight day_, during which she
went to and returned from Detroit, bringing the expected supply. She
entered Mackinack harbor on the eighth day, on the same hour she had
left it, and fired a salute.
Mrs. Dousman says that charges had been preferred against Gov. Sinclair
(the term constantly used by the old inhabitants) for extravagance. He
had, as an example, paid at the rate of a dollar per stump for clearing
a cedar swamp, which is now part of the public fields.
Respecting the massacre in 1763, she says that Mr. Solomons and a Mr.
Clark, the latter long resident with Mr. Abbot, were present.
_30th_. Mr. Abbot (Sam.) says he arrived at Mackinack in 1803. The
government-house was then occupied by Col. Hunt. A man named Clark, who
had formerly lived with him, was a boy in the employ of Solomons at the
massacre of old Mackinack. He crept up a chimney, where he remained a
day or two, and was thus saved. Solomons hid himself under a heap of
corn, and was thus saved.
Mr. Abbot does not know, with certainty, the date of the transfer of the
post, but says the papers of all the notaries, including all grants of
commanding officers, are in a trunk at Mr. Dousman's. Thinks these, by
showing the date of the earliest grants, will decide the question.
_Dec. 1st_. Finished an article for the _Literary and Theological
Review_, on the influence of the native priests, or metais, and the
adaptation of the general principles of Christianity to the North
American Indians. Some of the phenomena of the Chippewa language are of
deep interest. The substantive verb _to be_, deemed by many philologists
to be wanting in the Indian language of this continent, is perceived to
be freely used by Mr. Peter Jones in the translation of John, as in c.
i. 1, 6, 15, &c. The existence of this verb in the northern dialects may
be adverted to as affording the probable root of many active verbs. It
is a subject eliciting discussion, as bearing on a point early stated by
theologians, viz., the origin of the tribes. The verb _iau_, spelled
"ahyah" in the verses referred to, with the particle, for past tense,
"ke," prefixed, and "bun" suffixed, appears to be restricted in its use
to objects possessed of _vitality_, but cannot, it seems, be applied to
mere _passion_ or _feeling_. These, by a peculiarity of the grammar, are
referred to as subordinate parts, or increments inanimate of the
organization, _i. e._, as things without flesh and blood, and not as
units or whole bodies. The native speaker does not, therefore, say I
_am_ glad, I _am_ sorry, &c., but merely I glad, I sorry, &c. This has,
probably, led philologists to observe that the verb declarative of
existence, was wanting, and discouraged them in the search of it. But is
it so? When it becomes necessary for the Indian to describe the abstract
truth of existence--as that God _is_--the appropriate pronominal form of
the verb _iau_ or _I-e-au_ is used, and apparently with great force and
propriety. It is a rule of this grammar, not to apply it to emotions.
When nouns inanimate proper are used, or objects of a non-vital
character, the corresponding verb is _atta_. The present tense,
indicative of these two parallel verbs, for material and for god-like
existence, are as follows:--
Iau (animate) _To be_. Atta (inanimate)--_To be_.
Nin, Diau--_I am_, or _my spirit is_. Atta--_It is_.
Ki, Diau--_Thou art_, &c. Atta-aun--_They are_.
Iau--_He (or she) is_. Atta-bun--_it was_.
Nin, Diau-min (ex.)--_We_ (excluding you) _are_. Atta-aubun--_They have been_.
Ki, Diau-min (in.)--_We_ (including you) _are_. Iah atta--_It shall be_.
Ki, Diau-ni--_Ye are_. Iah atta-win--_They shall be_.
There is probably no language so barbarous as not to have words to
address God. But, of all languages under heaven, the Indian dialects
appear to me the most fruitful in terminations and adjuncts to point
their expressions, and to give to them living and spiritual meanings.
They appear, by their words, to live in a world of spirits. Aside from
the direct words for Father, as the universal Parent, and of Maker, and
Great Spirit, they have an exact term for the Holy Ghost; and he who has
ever heard a converted Indian pray, and can understand his petition,
will never afterwards wish to read any philological disquisitions about
the adaptation of their languages to the purposes of Christianity.
_Dec. 2d_. I determined that part of the diversions of my first winter
at Mackinack should consist of notices of its meteorology, the changes
of winds and currents in the straits, &c. Shut out from the world by a
long expanse of coasts, which cannot be navigated in the winter, much of
the sum of our daily observation must necessarily take its impress from
local objects. To pass a winter in the midst of one of the great
lakes--the Huron--was itself a subject of excitement. Mild weather had
characterized the season, which had been predicted by some persons as
the consequence of the remarkable meteoric displays in November.
At the monthly concert in the evening, interesting statements were made
on the efforts now in progress to evangelize the world. In this the
Bible, tract, and mission causes were shown to act with
_3d_. I employed myself in the morning in a revision of papers relating
to subjects of natural history, and in references to Conybeare and
Phillips. In the evening, the Rev. Mr. Ferry and Mr. Barber
_4th_. The last vessel for the season, the "Marengo," left the harbor
for Detroit, taking on board our expressmen, who are to return by land.
The weather has continued mild, with the winds from the westward and
_6th_. Some rain fell in the evening, which did not, however, prevent
friends from passing the evening with us.
_7th_. Weather still mild.
_10th_. The continued mildness of the atmosphere has induced the Indians
from the adjacent shores to visit the island. There are no Indians
permanently resident on it. Within the last ten days, rising of eighty
souls have visited the agency and shops. Some have iron work to mend.
Most of them have applied for provisions. Several aged persons and
widows have asked for blankets.
I employed the day in reading Humboldt's "Superposition of Rocks in
both Hemispheres." Humboldt is the Dr. Johnson of geology.
_11th_. Kwewis, a Chippewa convert, returned, after spending a week or
more among the Point St. Ignace Indians. He complained of the
listlessness and want of attention of the Indians to the truths by Mr.
G., his spiritual guide.
I determined to send an express, as soon as the state of the ice will
permit, to St. Mary's, with directions for its continuance from that
place to La Pointe, in Lake Superior--the missionary station.
_12th_. The meteorologic phenomena begin to thicken. The thermometer, at
2 P.M. to-day, stood at 48 deg., Some snow, of a moist, sleety character.
Wind easterly. Not a particle of ice has formed in the harbor up to
_13th_. Perused Stewart's visit to the South Seas and the Sandwich
Islands. Certainly the author is one of the most gifted religious
travelers. He reminds the reader, by his graphic descriptions, sometimes
of Bishop Heber. It is remarkable, that with every improvement, the
population of these islands declines.
A blow from the east, with depression of temperature, and some snow.
_14th_. Easterly wind continues. Thermometer at noon 38 deg..
_16th_. Strong easterly winds.
_17th_. On rising this morning and drawing the curtains aside, I
observed a vessel in the harbor from Detroit. It proved to be the
"General Warren," with supplies for the inhabitants, ordered in the
fall, but, for two or three weeks back, not expected. By her we have New
York city papers to Nov. 26th, and Detroit dates to Dec. 4th. What a
jumble is a newspaper! Here we have the death of Ferdinand of Spain, and
the report of troubles in Europe: the appointment of Mr. Butler as
Attorney-General, and the busy note of editorial discussion preparatory
to the meeting of Congress; the result of elections, progress of
nullification, "cussin and discussion" by Jack Downing, a terrible list
of murders, accidents, &c. Prominent among things for scientific
readers, are accounts of the meteoric phenomena of November.
_18th_. Dispatched an express to St. Mary's with letters for the
sub-agency, missionaries, &c. In the evening the vessel sailed for
Detroit with a light westerly breeze, which is fair.
Mr. Abbot, being in the office during the day, remarked that he had
examined the old records before alluded to; that the first public act of
the commanding officer is the appointment of a notary by Gov. Sinclair
in 1780; the next is a grant of land in 1781.
Stating these facts afterwards to Mr. Mitchell (William), he observed
that his father, who was the post surgeon, remarked that the removal of
the troops from old Mackinack was the year after the massacre, which
would be 1764. This is astounding. Yet Carver's Mackinack, in 1766,
appears to have been "old Mackinack."
_19th_. Thanksgiving day for the territory. A practical discourse from
Mr. Ferry. Lieut. and Mrs. K., &c., to dinner. The Indian Kwewis returns
to St. Mary's, accompanied by Mr. Cameron.
_20th_. Mr. Mitchell passed the evening.
_21st_. Visited Mr. Ferry in the afternoon. Conversation on various
religious topics. Coming home, found company; Lieut. and Mrs. P., Miss
D., and Miss H., who remained to tea, and spent the evening.
_22d_. S. visited the infant-school in the village, and made some
_24th_. Visited Mr. Barber, who directed conversation to various
theological points, and the state of religion on the island.
_25th_. Christmas. The Catholics have had the usual services, and have
gone to the usual extremes of a pantomimic ceremony at midnight, &c. As
a question of time, we cannot say that this is the exact day of the
anniversary of the Saviour's birth; but the computation and adjustment
of dates were made, I believe, on the best astronomical data, and before
the Romish Church assumed political power.
_26th_. Wind N. W. Depression of temperature; freezes all day. Mr. F.
visited me, and directed my attention to the Mosaical geology, or
account of the creation, which he thinks the pride of science has sadly
_27th_. Snow. No ice; not the slightest _bordage_ yet in the harbor.
Lieut. P., Mrs. P., Mrs. K., and Dr. Turner visit. In the afternoon, the
Maternal Association, at Mrs. Schoolcraft's invitation, assemble. I
wrote to Prof. Olmstead a notice of the falling stars of Nov. 13th, as
described by the Indians.
_28th_. Wind from the westward and southward; moderate for the season.
_29th_. Wind veers to the east.
_30th_. A blow on the lake, creating a perfect tempest. Before noon, the
wind veers south-easterly, and snow melts on the roofs.
Ackuckojeesh and band, from the north shore, visit the office. He
presents me a small _mukuk_ of maple sugar, made during the month, as a
proof of the mildness of the weather.
Continue my biblical readings, with a view of noticing the coincidence
of passages referred to by clergymen who have visited me. Quite
satisfied that "day," in Gen. i, 5, means, in that place, a natural day
of twenty-four hours. The context cannot be read without it. Mr. M. and
Mr. Stuart pass the evening.
_31st_. No thawing to-day. There has been quite a blow on the lake.
Began some sketches of biblical geology.
Population of Michilimackinack--Notices of the weather--Indian name of
the Wolverine--Harbor closed--Intensity of temperature which can be
borne--Domestic incidents--State of the weather--Fort Mackinack
unsuccessfully attacked in 1814--Ossiganoc--Death of an Indian
woman--Death of my sister--Harbor open--Indian name of the Sabbath
day--Horticultural amusement--Tradition of the old church door--Turpid
conduct of Thomas Shepard, and his fate--Wind, tempests, sleet, snow--A
vessel beached in the harbor--Attempt of the American Fur Company to
force ardent spirits into the country, against the authority of
1834. _Jan. 1st_. My journal for this winter will be almost purely
domestic. It is intended to exhibit a picture of men and things,
immediately surrounding a person isolated from the world, on an island
in the wide area of Lake Huron, at the point where the current, driven
by the winds, rushes furiously through the straits connected with Lake
Michigan. Where the ice in the winter freezes and breaks up continually,
where the temperature fluctuates greatly with every wind, and where the
tempests of snow, rain and hail create a perpetual scene of changing
Society here is scarcely less a subject of remark. It is based on the
old French element of the fur trade--that is, a commonalty who are the
descendants of French or Canadian boatmen, and clerks and interpreters
who have invariably married Indian women. The English, who succeeded to
power after the fall of Quebec, chiefly withdrew, but have also left
another element in the mixture of Anglo-Saxons, Irishmen or Celts, and
Gauls, founded also upon intermarriages with the natives. Under the
American rule, the society received an accession of a few females of
various European or American lineage, from educated and refined circles.
In the modern accession, since about 1800, are included the chief
factors of the fur trade, and the persons charged by benevolent
societies with the duties of education and of missionaries; and, more
than all, with the families of the officers of the military and civil
service of the government.
In such a mass of diverse elements the French language, the Algonquin,
in several dialects, and the English, are employed. And among the
uneducated, no small mixture of all are brought into vogue in the
existing vocabulary. To _fouchet_, and to _chemai_, were here quite
The continued mildness of the weather enabled the Indians from the
surrounding shore to approach the island, not less than fifty-four of
whom, in different parties, visited the office during the day. This day
is a sort of carnival to these people, who are ever on the _qui vive_
for occasions "to ask an alms." I had prepared for this. To each person
a loaf of bread.
To adult males a plug of tobacco. No drink of any kind, but water, to a
Snow fell during the day, rendering it unpleasant.
_Jan. 2d_. Shabowawa, a Chippewa chief, and part of his band, with the
remainder of the Point St. Ignace band, got across the _Traverse_ this
morning. The whole number who visited the office during the day was
thirty. Shabowawa said we might soon expect cold weather.
_3d_. Visits from a number of Indians (about twenty), who had not before
called, to offer the _bon jour_ of the season. Among them were several
widows and disabled old people, to whom presents of clothing were given.
The atmosphere has been severely cold. A hard frost last night. I killed
an ox for winter beef, and packed it, when cut into pieces, in snow.
There has been floating ice, for the first time, in the harbor. The
severe weather prevented the St. Ignace Indians from returning.
One of the St. Ignace Indians, referring to the meteoric phenomenon of
the morning of the 13th of November, said that the stars shot over in
the form of a bow, and seemed to drop into the lake. Such a display, he
added, was never before seen. He says that the Chippewa Indians called
the Wolverine "Gween-guh-auga," which means underground drummer. This
animal is a great digger or burrower.
_4th_. Stormy and cold.
_5th_. S. Cold. Mr. Barber preached on the character and trials of
Noah. The old N.E. divines loved to preach from texts in the Old
_6th_. A change of wind from N. to S.W. created a very perceptible
increase of temperature. Indians, who had been detained by floating ice
since New Year's day, got over to Point St. Ignace.
The postmaster sends me word that the second express will start
to-morrow, without awaiting the return of the first.
On visiting the monthly concert in the evening, I was reminded that this
day had been set apart by various churches for imploring a special
blessing on the Word of God, in the conversion of the world.
_7th_. Yesterday afternoon the harbor filled with floating ice. This
morning it is frozen over into a solid body, completely closing up the
harbor. But the passage between it and Round Island is open, and the
lake in other directions. Wind northerly and westwardly; thermometer as
on the 3d, 4th, and 5th; but the air does not _feel_ to be as cold as
those days. This is the effect of its having remained about a week of
nearly the same temperature. It is, in truth, the range of the
thermometer between given points, and not the absolute degree of it,
that creates the sensation of intense change. And herein must be sought
the secret of people's standing a great degree of cold in the north,
without being duly sensible of the extreme degree of it. This remark
ought, perhaps, to be limited to such severe degree of cold (say 40 deg.
below zero), as a man can withstand or live in.
The ice, being only glued together, separated about 2 o'clock, and left
the harbor free again before night.
The express from St. Mary's came in, about two hours after our Detroit
express left. By letters brought by it, I learn that letters of recall
have recently passed the _Sault_ for Capt. Back. It is stated that Capt.
Ross has unexpectedly returned to England, after an absence of four
years, great part of which time he had passed among the Esquimaux, or in
an open boat on the sea. That he had made observations to fix the
magnetic meridian, and had discovered a large island, almost the size of
Great Britain, which he named Boothea.
Mr. Ferry, Lieut. Kingsbury, and Mr. P. passed the evening with us.
Fires were seen on the main land, which are supposed to be signals from
our express men.
_8th_. Snow--blustering--cold. Our first express to Detroit has so far
overstayed its time, that it is impossible to say when it may now be
expected. Fires again seen on the main land, and an unsuccessful attempt
made to reach them, the floating ice preventing.
_9th_. Maternal Association meets at my house, which, Mrs. S. reports,
is well attended. In the evening, Mr. H., Mr. J., Miss McF., and Miss S.
Floating ice in the straits, and no crossing.
_11th_. Snowing--blustering. Expecting the mail soon, I prepared my
letters, and, being Saturday, sent them to the post-office, lest the
mail should arrive and depart on Sunday.
_13th_, Deep snow drifts, stormy--cold. Very difficult, in consequence
of the drifts, to reach the teacher's concert, in the evening, which met
at the Court House. Meeting between Mr. D. and Mr. Ferry at my house, to
try the effects of conciliation.
_14th_. High wind died away last night: the sun rose, this morning,
clear and pleasant, but the air still cold. Ice completely fills the
channel between Boisblanc and the main harbor; the outer channel is
Mrs. Kingsbury passed the day with us. The church session on examination
accepts her, and Mr. D. Stuart, the gentleman named in Irving's
_15th_. The express from Detroit arrives, having crossed from the main
to Boisblanc on the ice, and from thence in a boat. By this mail we have
a week's later dates than were brought by the "Warren." No political
intelligence of importance. I received a number of printed sheets of the
appendix to the narrative of my tour to _Itasca Lake_. Heard also from
LeConte, the engraver, at New York.
_16th_. Took Mr. D. in my cariole to Mr. Ferry's, to further the object
of a reconciliation of the matters in difference between them. It
commenced raining, soon after we got there, and continued steadily all
evening. Got a complete wetting in coming home, and in driving to the
fort Mrs. Kingsbury, whom I found there.
_17th_. Yesterday's fain has much diminished the quantity of snow; bare
ground is to be seen in some spots. Atmosphere murky, and surcharged
with moisture, rendering it disagreeable to be out of doors.
The soldiery of the garrison invite Mr. F. to hold a meeting in the
garrison every Sabbath afternoon, showing an awakened moral sense
_18th_. Depression of the atmospheric temperature. Frost renders the
walking slippery, and the snow crusted and hard. This condition of
things, in the forest, is fatal to wild hoofed animals, which at every
step are subject to break through, and cut their ankles. In this way the
Indians successfully pursue and take the moose and reindeer of
_19th_. Mr. David S. and Mrs. K. are admitted to the communion, on a
profession of faith, and Mr. Seymour, Miss Owen, and Miss Leverett, by
letter. The Rev. Mr. and Mrs. Barber were also, for the first
Snow fell upon the previous glare surface, and, being attended with
wind, rendered the day very blustering and boisterous. The wind being
from the west, was very strong--so strong as to blow some persons down.
The temperature at the same time was quite cold.
_20th_. Coldness continued; the thermometer stood at only 2 deg. above zero
at 8 o'clock in the morning; the west wind continuing. The air, in
consequence of this depression, became colder than the water of the
lake, producing an interchange of temperature, and the striking
phenomenon of rising vapor. The open lake waters gave out their latent
heat, like a boiling pot, till the equilibrium was restored. This
singular phenomenon I had seen before in the North, and it is to be
observed, in the basin of the upper lakes, some days every winter.
I received a visit from Mr. Barber. Conversation on the state of
religious knowledge. Do geology and the natural sciences afford external
evidence of the truth of God's word?
_21st_. Atmospheric temperature still low; the thermometer at 8 o'clock
A.M. standing at 9 deg. above zero. The harbor and straits, between the
island and Point St. Ignace, frozen over; but the channel, in which,
there is a strong current, between the outer edge of the harbor and
Round Island, still open. Along this edge very deep water is immediately
found, and these waters, under the pressure of lake causes, rush with
the force of a mill-race. _22d_. The air is slightly warmer, the
thermometer standing at 8 o'clock, A.M., at 16 deg. above zero. The
soldiery further request of Mr. F. to hold a Bible class in the fort.
_23d_. The temperature still rises a few degrees, the thermometer
standing at 21 deg. at 8 o'clock, A.M. The express from the _Sault_
arrives. Prepared my mail matter and dispatched it to the office.
_24th_. The thermometer falls five degrees, standing at 16 deg. at 8 o'clock
A.M.; but in consequence of the cessation of winds at night, and
accumulation of floating ice, the open districts of the lake were
entirely frozen over. Kebec, the _Sault_ expressman, went off on his way
to Detroit, at a very early hour, walking on the ice from about abreast
of the Old Still House, direct to the main. The thermometer in the fort
was observed to be, at one time during the night, at 5 deg. below zero,
denoting more intense cold than my 8 o'clock observation indicates. This
is, therefore, so far, the maximum cold for January.
_25th_. A strong easterly wind broke up the ice, which was solid, as far
as the Light-House, about ten miles, and again exposed the limpid bosom
of the lake in that direction; but it did not disturb the straits west.
My son John began, this day, to pronounce words having the sound of _r_,
for which, agreeably to a natural organic law recognized by
philologists, he has heretofore substituted the sound of _l_.
_26th_. S. A sermon on the inefficacy of the prayer of faith without
submission to God's better wisdom. I was this day set apart as an elder.
_27th_. The temperature, which has risen since the 24th, still rises,
creating a perceptible change in feelings. Visited Mr. Agnew, who
reached the island from the Sault yesterday.
_28th_. The harbor breaks up with a south-east wind, but the ice remains
firm between the island and the main, and in the direction to Pt. St,
Ignace. This wind is attended with a farther moderation of the
temperature. I fell in descending the steep hill, which is exposed to
the south, in coming back from a visit to Lieut. Penrose, in the fort.
This fort is what engineers call a _talus_, being, as I suppose, the
exact area, very nearly, of the top of a cliff overlooking the town. It
was very effective for controlling the Indians, but was found in 1812 to
be commanded by a still higher point within cannon range, which was
seized and fortified by the British.
This apex they made the site of Fort George; the Americans changed the
name to Fort Holmes, after a gallant officer, a Kentuckian, who fell in
the unsuccessful attempt of Col. Croghan to retake the island in 1814.
_29th_. The temperature still rises, and is mild for the season. Gave
each of my children a new copy of the Scriptures. If these truths are
important, as is acknowledged, they cannot too early know them. I
visited Mr. Mitchell.
_30th_, The temperature continues to moderate. Drove to the mission,
accompanied by Mr. D., to converse, at his request, with Mr. Barber, on
the unhappy topics of difference between him and Mr. F. Mr. and Mrs.
Abbott called at my house, in the interval, and were received by Mrs. S.
In the evening I attended the social prayer meeting at Mr. Dousman's.
_31st_. The sun shone clear; no snow, no high winds, but a serene and
pleasant atmosphere. Visits were received from Maj. Whistler and Lieut.
Kingsbury. Conversation on the probable reception of the President's
Message, etc., by our next express.
This being Mrs. Schoolcraft's birth-day, I presented her a Bible.
_Feb. 1st_. The mildness and pleasantness of the weather continued.
Drove out to Mr. Davenport's with Mrs. Schoolcraft and the children.
Davenport is a Virginian. He was one of the residents driven off the
island by the events of the late war, and was on board of Commodore St.
Clair's squadron, sailing around the island, and in sight of his own
home, during the expedition to recapture the island, in 1814. For his
sufferings and losses he ought to have been remunerated by the
Government, whom he faithfully served.
Our second express from Detroit arrived, bringing us the expected
newspaper intelligence, and letters from friends. Heard of the alarming
illness of my sister, in Oneida County, N.Y.
_2d_. S. A sermon on the often handled subjects of election and free
grace--how God elects, and how man is free to come himself.
_3d_. Devoted to newspaper reading. In the evening attended the monthly
_4th_. A small party at dinner, namely, Major Whistler, Lieut.
Kingsbury, Mr. Agnew, Mr. Stuart the elder, Mr. Abbott, Mr. Dousman, and
Mr. Johnston. The weather continues mild, clear, and calm. In the
evening I prepared my mail matter for the Sault, intending to dispatch
it by a private express to-morrow.
_5th_. Finished and dispatched my mail for St. Mary's by two Indians,
who set out at ten o'clock A.M. I received an official visit from
Ossiganac, and seven men from the village of L'Arbre Croche. He stated
it to be the wish of the Ottawas, to visit Washington. The reasons for
such a visit arose from a desire to see the President, on the subject of
their lands. Many of these lands were denuded of game. Drummond Island
had been abandoned. They thought themselves entitled to compensation for
it. They were poor and indebted to the traders. The settlements would
soon intrude on their territories. Wood was now cut for the use of
steamboats and not paid for. They had various topics to confer about.
This was, in fact, the first move of the Lake Indians, leading in the
sequel to the important treaty of March 28th, 1836.
_6th_. The thermometer is again depressed, and a recurrence of easterly
_7th_. The depression of temperature creates the sensation of _coldness_
after the late mild weather, although the thermometer, examined at 8
o'clock, has not fallen below 26 deg., but six degrees below the
I embodied Ossiganac's remarks in a letter to the Department, and also
requesting the survey of the old grants under Wayne's Treaty of 1793. I
likewise proposed the establishment of an Indian Academy at
Michilimackinack for the Indian tribes of the upper lakes. Mackinack has
peculiar facilities of access in the open months for a large circle of
cognate tribes; and, in view of a future cession of the country, these
tribes will possess ample means. I wrote to my sister Catharine, in the
prospect of her dying of consumption; directing her mind to the great
moral remedy in the intercession of Christ.
_8th_. Our third express for Detroit left this morning. The day was
clear and calm, with the thermometer at 30 deg. at 8 o'clock. I began
sketching some remarks, to be transmitted to the American Lyceum, on the
best mode of educating the Indians.
_9th_. S. Mild. An Indian woman was buried to-day, who has borne the
character of a Christian. As her end drew near she said she did not fear
to "pass through the valley of death." She appeared to be prepared to
die, and had the testimony of Christians in her behalf, many of whom
attended her funeral. As a general fact, the Christian Indians whom I
have known, seize with great simplicity of faith on an Intercessor and
_10th_. Mild. In consequence of the protracted mildness of the weather,
Indians from Thunder Bay visited the office. They spoke of the meteoric
phenomenon of November. I asked the leader of the party what he thought
of it. He replied that it betokened evil to the Indian race--that
sickness would visit them calamitously.
In the evening the wind veered from a favorable quarter suddenly to the
north, producing a strong sensation of cold.
_12th_. Dine with Kingsbury.
_13th_. Dine with Mitchell. In the afternoon Mr. F. and Mr. D. met by
appointment at my house, to endeavor to close their accounts and
terminate their difficulties.
_14th_. Yesterday's effort to compromise matters between F. and D. was
continued and brought to a close, so far as respected items of account;
but this left unhealed the wounds caused by mutual hard thoughts, of a
moral character, and for which there has seemed, to Christians, in Mr.
D., a cause of disciplinary inquiry. I felt friendly to Mr. D., and
thought that he was a man whose pride and temper, and partly Christian
ignorance, had induced to stand unwittingly in error. But he took
counsel of those who do not appear to have been actuated by the most
conciliatory views. He stood upon his weakest points with an iron brow
and "sinews of brass."
_15th_. Visited Mr. Barber. Meeting in the evening at Mr. Mitchell's.
_17th_. The temperature fell several degrees, and lake closed, as seen
at a distance. I finished my remarks for the American Lyceum.
_18th_. Engaged in pursuing Mr. F.'s lectures, delivered at a prior
time, on the character and differences between the Protestant and
_19th_. The weather assumes a milder turn, and gives us rain. Messrs.
F. and D., having called on Mr. Mitchell, renew their meeting at
_20th_. Rain and thunder.
_21st_. Temperate; sinks and turns cold in the evening.
_22d_. Cold, with some snow.
_23d_. Thermometer continues to sink, and the ice is reported as having
become strong everywhere.
_24th_. The third express from Detroit came in at an early hour, and my
letters and papers were brought in before breakfast. During breakfast I
opened a letter, announcing the death of my sister Catharine, on the 9th
of January, at Vernon, N. Y.
Mr. Agnew and Mr. Chapman, who have been guests on the island, set out
for the Sault. The lake is now finally and strongly closed by a covering
of solid ice. Trains cross to-day, for the first time, to Point
_25th_. Mr. Levake, another guest on the island, called at eight o'clock
for my letters, with a view of overtaking the party who left yesterday.
_26th_. Wind west, and so strong as to drive the ice out between the
harbor and the light-house, but did not affect the harbor itself, nor
_27th_. Snow and rain. Richardson May, a discharged soldier, and Manito
Geezhig (Spirit-sky), a Chippewa Indian, arrived with the express mail
_28th_. The weather is mild again. An express from the Hudson's Bay
Company departed for Saginaw, at seven o'clock A.M. The adverb
"fiducially" first brought to my notice, as the synonym of confidently,
steadily. Finished the perusal of Mr. F.'s manuscript lectures, on the
Romish Church. Think them an offhand practical appeal to truth, clear in
method, forcible in illustration. Learning and research, such as are to
be drawn from books other than the Bible, have not been evidently relied
on. They might not do to print without revision. The New Testament does
not, as an example, declare that Peter ever was at Rome, and yet that
fact, got from other sources, is much relied on by that Church.
_March 1st._ The change in temperature continues. It is so mild and warm
that the snow melts.
_2d_. S. Mild, and Sabbath exercise as usual.
_3d_. The temperature falls, and it becomes sensibly cold and wintry.
The sky and lower atmosphere, however, remain clear.
Cadotte, an expressman from La Pointe, Lake Superior, arrived in the
course of the afternoon, with letters from Mr. Warren. Miss W., Miss D.
and Mr. J., pass the evening.
_4th_. Weather mild; snow soft and sloppy. Receive visits from Mr.
Abbott, Mr. Ferry, and Mr. Mitchell.
_5th_. Snow has melted so much, in consequence of the change of
temperature, that I am compelled to stop my team from drawing wood. The
ice is so bad that it is dangerous to cross. The lake has been open from
the point of the village to the light-house, since the tempest of the
26th ultimo. The broad lake below the latter point has been open all
winter. The lake west has been, in fact, fast and solidly frozen, so as
to be crossed with trains, but twelve days!
Mr. Warren's express set out for Lake Superior this morning. Our fourth
express from Detroit came in during the evening, bringing New York dates
to the 4th of February.
_6th_. The evidences of the approach of spring continue. The sun shines
with a clear power, unobstructed by clouds. Snow and ice melt rapidly.
Visited the Mission's house in the evening.
_7th_. Clouds intercept the sun's rays. An east wind broke up the ice in
the harbor, and drives much floating ice up the lake.
_8th_. The wind drives away the broken and floating ice from the harbor,
and leaves all clear between it and Round Island. It became cold and
freezing in the afternoon. Conference and prayer meetings at my house.
_9th_. Very slippery, and bad walking, and icy roads. Freezes.
_10th_. In consequence of the increase of cold, and the prevalence of a
calm during the night, there was formed a complete coating of ice over
the bay, extending to Round Island. This ice was two inches thick. Mrs.
Schoolcraft spent the evening at Mrs. Dousman's. On coming home, about
nine o'clock, we found the ice suddenly and completely broken up by a
south wind, and heaped up along shore.
_11th_. Harbor and channel quite clear; the weather has assumed a
mildness, although the sky is overcast, and snow drifted in the roads
during the morning. Miss Jones, Mr. D. Stuart, Dr. Turner, and Mr.
Johnston spent the evening with me.
_12th_. Filled my ice-house with ice of a granular and indifferent
quality, none other to be had.
_13th_. Mild, thawing, spring-like weather. Visits by Captain and Mrs.
_14th_. About eight o'clock this morning, a vessel from Detroit dropped
anchor in the harbor, causing all hearts to be gay at the termination of
our wintry exclusion from the world. It proved to be the "Commodore
Lawrence," of Huron, Ohio, on a trip to Green Bay. Our last vessel left
the harbor on the 18th of December, making the period of our
incarceration just eighty-five days, or but two and a half months.
Visited by Lieut. and Mrs. Lavenworth.
_15th_. Mild and pleasant. Plucked the seed of the mountain ash in front
of the agency dwelling, and planted it on the face of the cliff behind
the house. Mr. Chapman arrived with express news from the _Sault_.
_16th_. S. _Anni-me-au-gee-zhick-ud_, as the Indians term it, and a far
more appropriate term it is than the unmeaning Saxon phrase of
_17th_. Very mild and pleasant day. The snow is rapidly disappearing
under the influence of the sun. Mackinack stands on a horse-shoe bay, on
a narrow southern slope of land, having cliffs and high lands
immediately back of it, some three hundred feet maximum height. It is,
therefore, exposed to the earliest influences of spring, and they
develop themselves rapidly. Mr. Hulbert arrived from the _Sault_ in the
morning, bringing letters from Rev. Mr. Clark, Mr. Audrain, my sub-agent
at that point, &c.
_18th_. Wind southerly. This drives the ice from the peninsula into the
harbor, it then shifts west, and drives it down the lake. A lowering sky
ends with a sprinkling of rain in the forenoon; it then clears up, and
the sun appears in the afternoon. Dr. Turner visits me at the office.
Conversation turns on my translations into the Indian, and the
principles of the language. An Indian has a term for man and for white;
but, when he wishes to express the sense of white man, he employs
neither. He then compounds the term _wa-bish-kiz-zi-_--that is,
_19th_. The weather is quite spring-like. Prune cherry trees and currant
bushes. Transplant plum tree sprouts. Messrs. Biddle and Drew finish
preparing their vessel, and anchor her out.
_20th_. The thermometer sinks to 18 deg. at eight o'clock A.M. Snows, and
is boisterous all day, the wind being north-east.
_21st_. The snow, which has continued falling all night, is twelve to
fourteen inches deep in the morning; being the heaviest fall of snow, at
one time, all winter. Some ice is formed.
_22d_. The body of snow on the ground, and the continuance of cold, give
quite a wintery aspect to the landscape. In the course of the day, Mr.
Ferry, Mr. Mitchell, and Mr. Stuart call.
_23d_. S. Cold.
_24th_. Wintery feeling and aspect.
_25th_. The temperature still sinks. Visits from Mr. Mitchell, Mr.
Ferry, and Mr. Stuart. Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell, Mr. Hulbert, Mr. Chapman,
and Mr. Johnston spend the evening.
_26th_. Drove, with Mr. Ferry, to Mr. Boyd's, and thence to Mr.
_27th_. Ice still lingers in the harbor, but the day is clear and
sunshiny, and the snow melts rapidly. Visit the mission, and inquire
into the effects of its government and discipline on the character of
the boys, one or two of whom have been recently the subject of some
scandals. Accompanied in this visit by Mr. Hulbert, Mr. Stuart, and Mr.
Mitchell. Thomas Shepard, a mission boy, calls on me at an early hour,
and states his contrition for his agency in any reports referred to.
_28th_. Weather mild; snow melts; wind S.W.; some rain.
With this evening's setting sun,
Years I number forty-one.
Visited the officers in the fort. Rode out in my carriage in the
evening, with Mrs. Schoolcraft, to see Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell, and Mr.
and Mrs. Ferry. Satan's emissaries appear to be busy in circulating
scandal respecting our pastor, Mr. F., a person of high moral worth
To put these down effectively, it appears necessary to probe them to the
bottom, and ascertain their length and breadth. This was a duty of the
eldership, and it could be thoroughly performed without fear, respecting
a man of Mr. F.'s character. It was necessary, I found, to unmask all
the actors. The scandal appears to be one originating with certain Metif
boys of the Mission school. One of these, it was averred, had looked
through the key-hole of the common parlor door of the Mission house,
and beheld the Rev. Mr. F. sitting near a Miss S., one of the assistant
missionaries of the establishment. The door was locked. The hair of the
young lady was dishevelled; her comb had fallen on the floor. It was
early in the morning. Another boy was called to look; no change of
position was observed--nothing that was not respectful and proper.
This story was detailed, a night or two afterwards, by Thomas Shepard,
one of the boys, at a drinking conclave in the village, where _bon
vivants_, and some persons inimical to Mr. F. were present, and created
high merriment. From that den it was spread. It appeared that Miss S.
had, for some time, had doubts on the subject of her conversion, and
sought a conversation with her pastor to resolve them.
_29th_. Moderate temperature continues. A meeting of some of the leading
persons of the place, citizens and officers, at which statements,
embracing the above narrative, were made, which were quite satisfactory
in regard to the reports above mentioned. The reports are traced to a
knot of free livers, free drinkers, and infidels, who meet a-nights, in
the village, to be merry, and who drew some of the mission boys into
their revelries. A case of discipline in the church, which led, finally,
to the excommunication of one of the leading persons of the place, has
raised enemies to the Rev. Mr. F., who were present at these orgies, and
helped to spread the report.
_30th_. Service as usual, but more than usually interesting.
_31st_. Mild weather continues; clear and sunny; snow melts. The
remaining ice is completely broken up by an easterly wind. Visit Mr.
Stuart's child, which is very low.
_April 1st_. A dark drizzly morning terminates before ten o'clock in
rain. It cleared away at noon; the broken ice of the day and night
previous, is mostly driven down the lake by westerly winds.
Satisfied of the excellency of the mission school, I sent my children to
it this morning. The Rev. Mr. Ferry, Rev. Mr. Barber, Mr. Mitchell, Mr.
D. Stuart, and Mr. Chapman dine with me. In the evening, Capt. and Mrs.
Barnum, and Lieut. Kingsbury make a visit.
_2d_. The harbor is now entirely clear of ice, with a west wind. Wrote
to Rev. D. Greene, Missionary Rooms, Boston, giving my opinion
respecting the establishment of a mission among the Odjibwas at Fond du
Lac, Lake Superior.
_3d_. Pleasant, mild, clear. Winter has now clearly relaxed his hold.
Indians who came in to-day from L'Arbre Croche, report that the ice is,
however, still firm at Point Wa-gosh-ains (Little Fox Point), on the
straits above. This point forms the bight of the straits, some twenty
miles off, at their entrance into Lake Michigan. Attended the funeral of
William Dolly, a Metif boy, of Indian extraction.
_4th_. The season is visibly advancing in its warmth and mildness. Began
to prepare hot-beds. Set boxes for flowers and tubs for roots.
_5th_. The mission schooner "Supply" leaves the harbor on her first trip
to Detroit, with a fine west wind, carrying our recent guests from St.
Mary's. Transplant flowering shrubs. Miss McFarland passes the day with
Mrs. Schoolcraft at the agency.
_7th_. Cloudy but mild. Adjusting fixtures for gooseberry bushes, &c.
_8th_. Superintending the construction of a small ornamental mound and
side wall to the piazza, for shrubbery and flowers. Books are now thrown
by for the excitement of horticulture. Some Indians visit the office. It
is remarkable what straits and suffering these people undergo every
winter for a bare existence. They struggle against cold and hunger, and
are very grateful for the least relief. _Kitte-mau-giz-ze
Sho-wain-e-min_, is their common expression to an agent--I am poor, show
me pity, (or rather) charity me; for they use their substantives
_9th_. The schooner "White Pigeon," (the name of an Indian chief,)
enters the harbor, with a mail from Detroit. "A mail! a mail!" is the
cry. Old Saganosh and five Indian families come in. The Indians start up
from their wintering places, as if from a cemetery. They seem almost as
lean and hungry as their dogs--for an Indian always has dogs--and, if
they fare poor, the dogs fare poorer.
Resumed my preparations at the garden hot-beds.
The mail brought me letters from Washington, speaking of political
excitements. The project for an Indian academy is bluffed off, by saying
it should come through the Delegate. Major Whiting writes that he is
authorized to have a road surveyed from Saginaw to Mackinack.
_10th_. Engaged at my horticultural mound. The weather continues mild.
_11th_. Transplanting cherry trees.
_12th_. Complete hot-bed, and sow it in part.
_14th_. The calmness and mildness of the last few days are continued.
Spring advances rapidly.
_15th_. Mild, strong wind from the west, but falls at evening. Write to
Washington respecting an Indian academy.
Walking with the Rev. Wm. M. Ferry through the second street of the
village (M.), leading south, as we came near the corner, turning to
Ottawa Point, he pointed out to me, on the right hand, half of a large
door, painted red, arched and filled with nails, which tradition asserts
was the half of the door of the Roman Catholic church at old Mackinack.
The fixtures of the church, as of other buildings, were removed and set
up on this spot. I afterwards saw the other half of the door standing
against an adjoining house.
_16th_. Wind westerly. Begin to enlarge piazza to the agency. A party of
Beaver Island Indians come in, and report the water of the Straits as
clear of ice, and the navigation for some days open.
The schooner "President," from Detroit, dropped anchor in the evening.
_17th_. The schooners "Lawrence," "White Pigeon," and "President," left
the harbor this morning, on their way to various ports on Lake Michigan,
and we are once more united to the commercial world, on the great chain
of lakes above and below us. The "Lawrence," it will be remembered,
entered the harbor on the 14th of March, and has waited thirty-two days
for the Straits to open.
_18th_. Wind N.E., chilly. It began to rain after twelve o'clock A.M.,
which was much wanted by the gardens, as we have had no rain for nearly
a month. All this while the sun has poured down its rays on our narrow
pebbly plain under the cliffs, and made it quite dry.
I was present this morning at the Mission, at the examination of the
Metif boy Thomas Shepard, and was surprised at the recklessness and
turpidity of his moral course, as disclosed by himself, and, at the
announcement of the names of his abettors.
The fate of this boy was singular. He set out alone to return to Sault
Ste. Marie, where his relations lived, across the wilderness. After
striking the main land, his companions returned. All that was ever heard
of him afterwards, was the report of Indians whom I sent to follow his
trail, as the season opened, who found a spot where he had attempted,
unsuccessfully, to strike a fire and encamp. From obscure Indian reports
from the channels called Chenos, the Indians there had been alarmed by
news of the inroads of Na-do-was (Iroquois), and seeing some one on the
shore, in a questionable plight, they fired and killed him. This is
supposed to have been Thomas Shepard.
_19th_. Wind westerly--chilly--cloudy--dark.
_20th_. The "Austerlitz," and "Prince Eugene," two of Mr. Newbery's
vessels, arrived during the afternoon. Rain fell in the evening.
_21st_. The schooner "Nancy Dousman" arrived in the morning from below.
A change of weather supervened. Wind N.E., with snow. The ground is
covered with it to the depth of one or two inches. Water frozen, giving
a sad check to vegetation.
_22d_. This morning develops a north-east storm, during which the "Nancy
Dousman" is wrecked, but all the cargo saved: a proof that the harbor is
no refuge from a north-easter. The wind abates in the evening.
_23d_. Wind west, cloudy, rainy, and some sleet. About midnight the
schooner "Oregon" came in, having rode out the tempest under Point
_24th_. Still cold and backward, the air not having recovered its
equilibrium since the late storm.
_25th_. Cloudy and cold--flurries of snow during the day.
_26th_. The weather recovers its warm tone, giving a calm sky and clear
sunshine. The snow of the 21st rapidly disappears, and by noon is quite
gone, and the weather is quite pleasant. The vessels in the harbor
continue their voyages.
_27th_. S. A boat reaches us from the Sault, showing the Straits and
River St. Mary to be open. It brought the Rev. Mr. Clark, of the
Methodist Episcopal Church, who occupies Mr. F.'s position, before the
soldiery, in the evening.
_28th_. The atmosphere is still overcast, although the thermometer
Levake, a trader for the Indian country, went off about two o'clock P.M.
On granting him his license, I directed him to take no ardent spirits.
He therefore ordered a barrel of whisky to be taken back to the American
Fur Company's store, where he had purchased it. Mr. Abbot, the agent,
sent it back to him. Mr. Levake finally remanded it. Mr. Abbot said,
"Why! Mr. Schoolcraft has no authority to prevent your taking it!" The
moment, in fact, the boats leave the island they enter the Indian
country, where the act provides that this article shall not be taken on
any pretence. This was an open triumph of the Agent of the United States
against the Fur Company. I wrote to the Rev. Mr. Boutwell, at Leech
Lake, by this opportunity.
_29th_. The atmosphere has regained its equilibrium fully. It is mild
throughout the day. Indians begin to come in freely from the adjacent
shores. Sow radishes and other early seeds.
_30th_. The schooner "Napoleon," and the "Eliza," from Lake Ontario,
come in. The Indian world, also, seems to have awaked from its winter's
repose. Pabaumitabi visits the office with a large retinue of Ottawas.
Shabowawa with his band appear from the Chenoes. Vessels and canoes now
again cross, each other's track in the harbor.
Visit to Isle Rond--Site of an ancient Indian village--Ossuarie--Indian
prophet--Traditions of Chusco and Yon respecting the ancient village and
bone deposit--Indian speech--Tradition of Mrs. La Fromboise respecting
Chicago--Etymology of the name--Origin of the Bonga family among the
Chippewas--Traditions of Viancour--Of Nolan--Of the chief
Aishquagonaibe, and of Sagitondowa--Evidences of antique cultivation on
the Island of Mackinack--View of affairs at Washington--The Senate an
area of intellectual excitement--A road directed to be cut through the
wilderness from Saginaw--Traditions of Ossaganac and of Little Bear Skin
respecting the Lake Tribes.
_1834. May 1st_. At last "the winter is gone and past," and the voice of
the robin, if not of the "turtle," begins to be heard in the land. The
whole day is mild, clear, and pleasant, notwithstanding a moderate wind
from the east. The schooner "Huron" comes in without a _mail_--a sad
disappointment, as we have been a long time without one.
I strolled up over the cliffs with my children, after their return from
school at noon, to gather wild flowers, it being May-day. We came in
with the spring beauty, called _miscodeed_ by the Indians, the adder's
tongue, and some wild violets.
The day being fine and the lake calm, I visited the Isle Rond--the
locality of an old and long abandoned village. On landing on the south
side, discovered the site of an ancient Indian town--an open area of
several acres, with graves and boulder grave stones. Deep paths had been
worn to the water. The graves had inclosures, more or less decayed, of
cedar and birch bark, and the whole had the appearance of having been
last occupied about seventy years ago. Yet the graves were, as usual,
east and west. I discovered near this site remains of more ancient
occupancy, in a deposit of human bones laid in a trench _north_ and
_south_. This had all the appearance of one of the antique ossuaries,
constructed by an elder race, who collected the bones of their dead
periodically. The Indians call this island _Min-nis-ais_, Little
Island. Speaking _of_ it, the local termination _ing_ is added.
During the day the old Indian prophet Chusco came in, having passed the
winter at Chingossamo's village on the Cheboigan River, accompanied by
an Indian of that village, who calls himself Yon, which is probably a
corruption of John, for he says that his father was an Englishman, and
his mother a Chippewa of St. Mary's.
Chusco and Yon concur in stating that the old town on Round Island was
Chi Naigow's, where he and Aishquonaibee's  father ruled. It was a
large village, occupied still while the British held old Mackinack, and
not finally abandoned until after the occupancy of the island-post. It
consisted of Chippewas. Chi Naigow afterwards went to a bay of
Boisblanc, where the public wharf now is, where he cultivated land
[Footnote 68: A Chief of Grand Traverse.]
[Footnote 69: His daughter, who was most likely to know, says he died at
Manista. See prior part of Journal.]
These Indians also state, that at the existence of the town on Round
Island, a large Indian village was seated around the present harbor of
Mackinack, and the Indians cultivated gardens there. Yon says, that at
that time there was a stratum of black earth over the gravel, and that
it was not bare gravel as it is now. (He is speaking of the shores of
[Footnote 70: At Mackinack, they, in some places, raise potatoes in clean
Yon says that a man, called Sagitondowa, is now living at Chingassamo's
village, who once lived in Chi Naigow's village at Minnissais--and that
he is about his age. Yon was about seventy. He further says that the
traverse to Old Mackinack was made directly from the old town, on Round
Island, and that it was from thence they-went over to get rum.
Chusco made the following speech: "Nosa, when I first spoke to you it
was at the camp of the Strong Wind (Gen. Wayne). You then told me that I
should not be troubled with the smoke, (meaning intrusion from
settlement.) It was said to me that a place should be provided by our
Great Father for us. My home was then at Waganukizzi, the place of the
crotched tree (L'Arbre Croche).
"About twenty men had the courage to go, and united in the treaty.
Chemokoman was one of them. The old chief Niskauzhininna did not go. He
was afraid of the Americans. I carried my ancient implements, which you
know I have forever laid aside. (He was the Seer.)
"The English did not come up to their promises. The land was lost. The
posts were lost. They were all given up, and we only were the sufferers.
Hard is our fate.
"Strong Wind said to the chiefs that there should be a place for the old
and disabled, where they should have food. We were absent at this treaty
all summer. We came back late in the fall."
"Forty winters have past. I am poor and old, and cannot go about any
more. Look at me. I want a house and a shelter. Tell me, shall I
have it?" 
[Footnote 71: In the treaty of 28th March, 1836, a dormitory was provided
for the Indians visiting the post of Mackinack. Chusco was granted an
annuity in coin.]
_2d_. Having, on the 19th of April, called the attention of Mrs. La
Fromboise, an aged Metif lady, to the former state of things here, she
says that the post of Chicago was first established under English rule,
by a negro man named _Pointe aux Sables_, who was a respectable man.
The etymology of Chicago appears to be this:--
Chi-cag, _Animal of the Leek or Wild Onion_.
Chi-cag-o-wunz, _The Wild Leek or Pole-cat Plant_.
Chi-ca-go, _Place of the Wild Leek_.
She also says that Captain Robinson, while commanding at Mackinack,
discharged a negro servant named Bonga, who afterwards, with his wife,
purchased the house and lot in which Mr. Wendell now lives (the old red
house next Dousman's, south), where he kept a tavern, and maintained a
respectable character. He afterwards sold out and went to Detroit, and
lived with Mr. Meldrum.
She adds: "The son of this Bonga was the late Bonga, who died as a
_comme_, at Lake Winnepec, of the Fond du Lac Department. The present
Stephen Bonga of Folleavoine, a trustworthy trader, is the grandson of
this Bonga--Robinson's freed slave. His connections are Chippewas, and
all speak the Chippewa language fluently."
Having seen and known this Bonga, the grandson, I was led to remark
that climate and intermarriage have had little or no appreciable effect
on the color of the skin.
The traditions of Mr. Viancourt, one of the oldest French residents of
Point St. Ignace, who visited the office (24th April), relate that he
was born the year Montreal was taken, 1759. That Mackinack (the island)
was first occupied four years after.
He further says that Gov. Sinclair built a small fort on Black River,
and that he gave his name to that part of the straits which have since
been called St. Clair. Says he has been on the island forty-seven
years, consequently came in 1788.
[Footnote 72: Consult Charlevoix's Journal. Is not so, go far as the
origin of the name is concerned.]
The late Mr. J.B. Nolin, of Sault St. Marie, remarked to John Johnson,
Esq., that Governor Sinclair came up with troops the year after the
massacre at old Mackinack; and that he landed with a broad belt of
wampum in his hands.
Aishkwagon-ai-bee, or the feather of honor, first chief of the Chippewas
of Grand Traverse Bay, Lake Michigan, says that the Nadowas (Iroquois)
formerly lived at Point St. Ignace--that they fell out with the
Chippewas and Ottawas on a certain day, at a ball-playing, when a
Chippewa was killed. Hereupon, the Chippewas and Ottawas united their
strength and drove them away, destroying their village.
The Chippewas and Ottawas then divided the land by natural boundaries.
Grand Traverse Bay fell to the Chippewas.
Another Indian tradition respecting the old village on Isle Rond, was
Sagitondowa visits the office: he says he lacks one year of fifty. His
earliest recollections are of the old village on Round Island. It was
then (say 1783, the close of the American Revolutionary War) a large
village, and nearly half the island in cultivation. It was not finally
abandoned until lately.
Having his attention called to the deposit of old bones exposed by the
action of the lake, he finally said he knew not how they came there;
that they must be of ancient date, and were probably of the same era
with the bones in the caves of the island of Mackinack. He said when he
was young there was no village on that part of the bay of Mackinack
situated between the old Government house, and the present Catholic
church. This was formerly a cedar swamp. There was a village near
Porkman's (Mr. Edward Biddle's), and another near the Presbyterian
_3d_. Seed the borders around the garden lots with clover and timothy,
united with oats. Continue to plant in hot-beds, and in the ornamental
mound. The "Huron" departs up the lake, the "Austerlitz" returns.
Drove out in my carriage with Mrs. Schoolcraft and children, round the
island. I found no traces of snow or ice.
_5th_. A gale from the east, which began to show itself yesterday.
The schooner "Lady of the Lake" comes in, _without a mail_. During the
afternoon, the wind also brings in the "Marengo," with a mail, and in
the night, the "Supply."
_6th_. Wind from the S.W. and W. Rain, chilly, cloudy.
_7th_. A complete counterpart of the weather of yesterday.
_8th_. The same weather in every respect, with light snow flurries. The
last four or five days have been most disheartening weather for this
season, and retarded gardening. The leaves of the pie plant have been
partially nipped by the frost.
_9th_. Clear and pleasant--wind west. Drove out with Mrs. Schoolcraft
and children to see the arched rock, the sugar-loaf rock, Henry's cave,
and other prominent curiosities of the island. There are extensive old
fields on the eastern part of the island, to which the French apply the
term of _Grands Jardins._ No resident pretends to know their origin.
Whether due to the labors of the Hurons or the Wyandots, who are known
to have been driven by the Iroquois to this island from the St. Lawrence
valley, early in the 17th century; or to a still earlier period, when
the ancient bones were deposited in the caves, is not known. It is
certain that the extent of the fields evince an agricultural industry
which is not characteristic of the present Algonquin race. The stones
have been carefully gathered into heaps, as in the little valley near
the arched rock, to facilitate cultivation. These heaps of stones, in
various places might be mistaken for Celtic cairns.
_10th_. The schooner "Mariner," our old friend, comes into port with
forty emigrants for Chicago. During the evening the "Commerce" and
"America" join her.
_11th_. S. Cold north-west wind, gloomy and cloudy.
_12th_. A report is received that the President has communicated a
protest to the Senate on the expression of their views respecting the
removal of the deposits.
I told a party of Ottawas, who applied for food, that their Great Father
was not pleased that his bounties should be misused by their employing
them merely to further their journeys to foreign agencies, where the
counsels they got were such as he could not approve. That hereafter such
bounties must not be expected; that the poor and suffering would always
find the agency doors open, but I should be compelled to close them to
such as turned a deaf ear to his advice, if their practices in visiting
these foreign assemblies were persisted in.
_13th_. A slight snow covers the ground in the morning, it melts soon,
but the day is ungenial, with S.W. wind, and cloudy atmosphere.
_14th_. A powder of snow covers the ground in the north, the wind in the
N.W. It varies from N.W. to S.W., and by ten o'clock, A.M., it is
pleasant and clear. Plant garden corn, an early species cultivated by
_15th_. Cold and clear most of the day.
_16th_. Young Robert Gravereat first came to the office in the capacity
of interpreter. It is a calm and mild day; the sun shines out. The
thermometer stands at 50 deg. at 8 o'clock, A.M., and the weather appears to
be settled for the season. Miss Louisa Johnston comes to pass
_15th_. Ploughed potato land, the backward state of the season having
rendered it useless earlier. Even now the soil is cold, and requires to
lay some time after being ploughed up.
The steamer "Oliver Newberry" arrives in the afternoon, bringing Detroit
dates of May 5th, and Washington dates a week later.
The new brig "John Kinzie" enters the harbor on the 19th, bringing up
Gov. D.R. Porter, of Pennsylvania, and suit, with forty passengers.
_20th_. I may now advert to what the busy world has been about, while we
have been watching fields of floating ice, and battling it with the
elements through an entire season. A letter from E.A. Brush, Esq.,
Washington, March 13th, says: "Nothing is talked about here, as I may
well presume you know from the papers, but the deposits and their
removal, and their restoration; and that frightful mother of all
mischief, the money maker (U.S. Bank). Every morning (the morning begins
here at twelve, meridian) the Senate chamber is thronged with ladies and
feathers, and their obsequious satellites, to hear the sparring. Every
morning a speech is made upon presentation of some petition representing
that the country is overwhelmed with ruin and disasters, and that the
fact is notorious and palpable; or, that the country is highly
prosperous and flourishing, and that everybody knows it. One, that its
only safety lies in the continuance of the Bank; and the other, that our
liberties will be prostrated if it is re-chartered. Of course, the well
in which poor truth has taken refuge, in this exigency, is very deep.
"But the Senate is, at this moment, an extraordinary constellation of
talent. There is Mr. Webster, and Mr. Clay, and Mr. Calhoun, and a
no-way inferior, Mr. Preston, the famous debater in the South Carolina
troubles, and Mr. Benj. Watkins Leigh, the equally celebrated ambassador
near the government of South Carolina. All are ranged on one side, and
it is a phalanx as formidable, in point of moral force, as the
twenty-four can produce. Mr. Forsyth is the atlas upon whose shoulders
are made to rest all the sins of the administration. Every shaft flies
at him, or rather is intended for others through him; and his Ajax
shield of seven bull hides is more than once pierced, in the course of
the frequent encounters to which he is invited, and from which they will
not permit him to secede. But it is all talk. They will do nothing. A
constitutional majority in the Senate (two-thirds) is very doubtful, and
a bare one in the House, still more problematical. Of course, you are
aware that the executive has expressed its unyielding determination not
to sign a bill for the re-charter, or to permit a restoration of
"Houses are cracking in the cities, as if in the midst of an earthquake,
and there is hardly a man engaged in mercantile operations (I might say
not one) who will not feel the 'pressure.'"
Major W. Whiting writes from Detroit, March 28th: "I spoke of the
project of a road to Mackinack, which you wished me to bear in mind. The
Secretary approved the project, and the Quarter-Master General said it
might be done without a special appropriation. I was authorized to have
the survey made as soon as the season will permit, and an officer has
reported to me for that purpose. He will start from Saginaw some time in
the next month, to make a reconnoisance of the country, and will appear
at the head of the peninsula when perhaps you little expect such
"As soon as the survey shall be completed, the cutting out will be put
under contract. When this road shall be completed, you will feel more
neighborly to us. The express will be able to perform the journey in
half the time, and, of course, the trips can be multiplied."
_June 4th_. Reuben Smith, a Mission scholar of the Algonquin lineage,
determines to leave his temporary employment at the agency, and complete
his education at the eastward.
_5th_. Ossiganac, an Ottawa, who was formerly interpreter at the British
post at Drummond Island, says that Ottawa tradition points back to the
Manitouline Islands, as the place of their origin. They call those
islands Ottawa Islands, and Lake Huron Ottawa Lake. They call Lake
Superior Chippewa Lake. All the Ottawas, he says, of L'Arbre Croche,
Grand River, &c., came from the Ottawa or Manitouline Islands. The
French first found them there.
[Footnote 73: This is pretty well for Indian tradition, but is not so, in
truth, as Charlevoix's Hist. of New France denotes.]
They migrated down Lake Michigan, and lived with the Potawattomies.
After awhile, the Potawattomies growing uneasy of their presence,
accused them of using bad medicine, which was the cause of their people
dying. The Ottawas replied, that if they were jealous of them, they
would retire, and they accordingly withdrew up the peninsula. While in
the course of withdrawing, one of their number was killed by the
_6th_. Ossiganac, at an interview at my house this afternoon, says that
the Ottawas of Maumee, Ohio, sent a message to the Ottawas of L'Arbre
Croche, in Governor Hull's time--consequently between 1805 and
1812--saying: "We were originally of one fire, and we wish to come back
again to you, that we may all derive heat again from the same fire."
The Ottawas of L'Arbre Croche replied: "True, but you took a coal to
warm yourselves by. Now, it will be better that you remain by your own
coal, which you saw fit long ago to take from our fire. Remain where you
are." From that day the Ottawas of Maumee have said nothing more about
Now (1834) the Potawattomies come with a request to join our fire.
Shall we receive them, when we refused our brethren, who are more nearly
related to us? I think not.
_7th_. The Little Bear Skin, Muk-ons-e-wy-an-ais, of Manistee, inquires
respecting the truth of a rumor, that the Potawattomies, since selling
their lands at Chicago, are coming to the North, amongst the Ottawas and
Chippewas. He deprecates such a movement. Says the habits of the
Potawattomies are so different that they would not be satisfied were
they to come. Their horses are their canoes. They know nothing of
traveling by water; beyond shore navigation. They are sea-sick on
Little Bear Skin says he lives on the first forks of the Manistee.
Although a Chippewa, he is in the habit of cultivating gardens. He is
originally, by his parents, from the North--is related to the St. Mary's
and Taquimenon Indians. He himself was born on the Manistee. He is a
Cherry trees in full bloom. The steamer "Uncle Sam" enters the harbor,
being the first of a line established to Chicago.
_9th_. Apple and plum trees pretty full in flower.
_10th_. Mrs. Robert Stuart makes a handsome present of conchological
species from foreign localities to be added to my cabinet.
_15th_. Major Whistler interdicts preaching in the fort. Mr. B. Stuart,
having returned recently from the East, resumes the superintendence of
the Sabbath School at the Mission, from which I had relieved him in
I have written these sketches for my own satisfaction and the
refreshment of my memory, in the leading scenes and events of my first
winter on the island, giving prominence to the state and changes of the
weather, the occurrences among the natives, and the moral, social, and
domestic events around me. But the curtain of the world's great drama is
now fully raised, by our free commercial and postal union with the
region below us; new scenes and topics daily occur, which it would be
impossible to note if I tried, and which would be useless if possible.
Hereafter my notices must be of isolated things, and may be "few and
Trip to Detroit--American Fur Company; its history and
organization--American Lyceum; its objects--Desire to write books on
Indian subjects by persons not having the information to render them
valuable--Reappearance of cholera--Mission of Mackinack; its history and
condition--Visit of a Russian officer of the Imperial Guards--Chicago;
its prime position for a great _entrepot_--Area and destiny of the
1834. About the first of July, I embarked for Detroit, for the purpose
chiefly of meeting the Secretary of War, during his summer refuge from
the busy scenes at Washington. There were some questions to be decided
important to my duties at Mackinack and St. Mary's, arising from recent
changes in the laws or regulations. He wrote to me on the 21st of July,
from the White Sulphur Springs, in Virginia, that he should probably
reach Detroit before the 10th or 12th of August; but his delay had been
protracted so much, that after reaching the city I felt compelled to
return to my agency without seeing him.
One reason for this step, which operated upon my mind, was the change in
the partnership and management of the affairs of the American Fur
Company, consequent on Mr. John Jacob Astor's withdrawal from it. This
company was founded by this noted and successful merchant's having
purchased, at the close of the war, about 1815, the trading posts,
consisting of buildings, property, &c., of the British North-West
Company, who had been so long the commercial, and to all practical
intents, the political lords of the regions of the north-west. He
organized the concern in shares, under an act of incorporation of the
Legislature of New York, and began operations by establishing his
central point of interior action at Michilimackinack. This was in 1816.
From data submitted at a treaty at Prairie du Chien by Mr. R. Stuart,
the whole capital invested in the business, was not less than 300,000
dollars. The interior sub-posts were spread over the entire area of the
frontiers up to the parallel of 59 deg. north latitude, extending to the
Missouri. Together with the posts, indeed, the North-West Company turned
over, in effect, some of its agents and the principal part of its
clerks, interpreters, and boatmen for this area, who were, I believe,
without a single exception, foreigners, chiefly Canadian French,
Scotchmen, Irishmen, and perhaps a few Englishmen.
Congress passed an act the same year (1816) providing that this trade
should be carried on under licenses, by American citizens, who were
permitted, however, to employ this class of foreigners, by entering into
bonds for their proper conduct. This created a class of duties for the
agents, on the line of the Canada frontiers, which was at all times
onerous. To carry on the trade at all, the old and experienced "servants
of the N.W.," as they were called, were necessary, and it was sometimes
essential to take out the license in the names of American boys, or
persons by no means competent, by their experience in this trade, to
conduct the business, which was, in fact, still in the hands of the old
It was a false theory, from the start, that ardent spirits was one of
the articles necessary to trade. Congress entertained an opinion of its
injuriousness to the character of the Indians, and passed laws excluding
it. This constituted another class of duties of the agents who were
entrusted with their execution, and required them to "search packages,"
and to judge of the probabilities of all persons applying for licenses
keeping the laws.
To expect that this mixed body of foreigners would exert any very
favorable political influence on the mass of Indian minds in the
north-west, was indulging a hope not very likely to be fulfilled. They
were employed to glean the Indian lodges of furs, and expected to make
good returns to their employers at Michilimackinack; and, if they kept
the ground of neutrality with respect to governments, it was considered
as exempting them from censure.
The great body of the Indians in the upper lakes, and throughout the
north-west, extending to the sources of the Mississippi, were averse to
the American rule. Many of them had been embodied to fight against the
Americans, who were successively met by ambuscade, surprise, or
otherwise, as at Chicago, at Michilimackinack, Brownstown, River Raisin,
Maumee, Fort Harrison, and other places. They had been assembled in
large bodies, by the delusive prophesyings of Elksatawa, and by the not
less delusive promises of the agents of the British Indian Department,
on the lines, that the Americans were to be driven back to the line of
the Illinois, if not of the Ohio--an old and very popular idea with the
lake Indians from early days.
The lake Indians had suffered severely from the war, chiefly from the
camp fevers and irregularities. They had finally been defeated--their
great war captain killed, their false prophet driven from the Wabash
into Canada; and, to crown the whole, were themselves abandoned, one and
all, by their allies, at the treaty of Ghent. Many never returned to the
homes of their fathers--entire villages were depopulated, and their
sites overgrown in a few years with shrubbery. Those who came back from
the active campaign of 1814, were sullen and desponding. As an evidence
of what they had suffered, and how completely they had been abandoned by
their allies, the transactions of the first treaty at Springwells, at
the close of the war, may be referred to. The tribes were literally
starving and in rags.
The agents of the Executive and Governors, who were appointed to conduct
their intercourse after the war, were, in reality, called to execute a
high class of diplomatic functions, second only in general importance to
those required at the prime courts of Europe. The several classes of
duties which have been described denote, to some extent, in what this
importance consisted. Eighteen years had now elapsed since this
important commercial company had furnished traders to the discomfited
tribes. During twelve years of this period I had had charge of the
intercourse with by far the largest and most unfriendly and warlike of
the tribes; and, when I saw that Mr. Astor had disconnected himself from
the concern which he had organized; and that, to some extent, new agents
and actors were called to the field, I felt anxious to be at my post, to
supervise, personally, the intercourse act, and to see that no improper
persons should enter the country.
_15th_. Dr. L.D. Gale, of New York, writes me that the American Lyceum
has resolved to enlarge the scope of its objects. "We have, therefore,"
he remarks, "as we now stand, 1. The department of education. 2. The
department of physical science. 3. Moral and political science. 4.
Literature and the arts. The influence of the society has been very much
enlarged since its last meeting, and it now enrolls amongst its active
members many, indeed I may say a large share of the most valuable men of
science of the United States. The chief object of the physical science
department is to obtain, as far as possible, a report of the recent
history and progress, and, in some cases, the future prospects of the
different departments. So that we may be enabled to form a volume of
transactions that shall embrace all that is new or recent in the
departments, posted up to the present time.
"The subject of the antiquities of the western countries of the United
States, and especially the remains of towns and fortifications, which
appear to have been built by a civilized population, has been frequently
agitated this side of the Alleghanies, and it was thought by the
executive committee that justice would be done to the subject in your
hands. They have, accordingly, requested that you would consent to give
them a paper on the subject. They presumed that you were in possession
of much interesting and valuable matter that has never yet come to the
eyes of the world."
_26th_. I have been often written to, by persons at a distance wishing
for information on the Indian tribes, or their languages, or
antiquities, and uniformly responded favorably to such applications,
sending a little where it was not practicable to do more. It has ever
appeared to me, that the giving of information was just one of those
points which rendered me not a whit more ignorant myself, and might add
something to the knowledge, as it certainly would to the gratifications
of others. The only good objection is, that time and attention is
required for every such effort. But cannot this be easily redeemed from
waste hours, when the object is to add to the moral gratifications
A letter was addressed to me, this day, from a Mr. H. Newcomb,
Alleghany, near Pittsburg, which certainly seems a little onerous in the
tax it imposes on my time; as the writer announces his intention of
publishing two or three volumes, on the subject of the Indians, and
presents a formidable array of subjects respecting which he is to treat.
In only one respect it strikes me as singular, namely, that any writer
west of the Alleghanies should set down to write a work on such a
subject, without personal observation. In older areas, where the Indian
has disappeared, books must alone be relied on; but in the West, there
should be something fresh, something distinctive and personal, to give
vitality to such a work. The writer observes, "I have not yet been able
to obtain materials for the first two volumes satisfactory to myself."
_August 1st_. Mr. Theodore Dwight, Jr., writes: "Cannot a syllabic, or
semi-syllabic alphabet, be applied to our Indian tongues?"
Rev. Leonard Woods, Jr., of New York, Editor of the New York Theological
Review, desires a paper on the subject of the American Indians. "I have
found," he says, "that while the subject is one of very general
interest, there are few who possess the requisite information to do
_15th_. The cholera, which first appeared in this country in 1833, made
its second appearance in Detroit, in the month of July. It was not,
however, of the same virulence as the first attack. "From present
appearances," writes a friend at that place, "the cholera is vanishing."
Having matters of eminent concern there, I determined to make a brief
visit to the place. My health was very good, and had never, indeed, been
subject to violent fluctuations of the digestive functions, and, after
attaining the object, I returned to Mackinack. I again visited Detroit
for a short time, during the latter part of August, and resumed my
position at Mackinack in September. Indian affairs, in the upper lakes,
were now hastening to a crisis, which in a year or two, developed
themselves in extensive sales of territory by the Indians, who, as game
failed, saw themselves in straits. These events will be mentioned as
they take definite shapes of action.
_Sept. 2d_. Mr. David Green, Secretary of the Board of Commissioners for
American Missions, Missionary Rooms, Boston, depicts a crisis in the
mission at Mackinack. "Your favor by Mr. Ferry," he remarks, "has come
to hand. As you anticipated, he has requested our Missionary Board to
relieve him from the missionary service, and they, though with much
reluctance, have granted his request. He seems fully convinced that he
is not likely to be hereafter useful, to any great extent, in connection
with the Mackinack mission; and that the claims of his family call him
to a different situation. This movement on his part, though he has
before suggested that such a step might be expedient, was quite
unexpected by us at this time; and I fear that we shall not find it easy
to obtain a suitable man to fill his place. No such person is now at our
disposal. I have written to the Rev. Dr. Peters, of New York, Secretary
of the American Home Missionary Society, stating the circumstances of
the place, inquiring if it would not properly fall within that portion
of the Lord's Vineyard, and whether they could not furnish a suitable
man to cultivate it.
"That Society, as well as ours, is, I believe, pressed for missionaries
on every hand. The prayers of all the Lord's people should be, in these
exigencies, 'Send forth laborers into thy harvest.' _Men of devoted
piety and zeal, and of high intellectual character, and judgment, and
enterprise, are needed in great numbers both in our own land and
abroad_. The want of such men is now the most serious impediment which
our societies have to contend with.
"You may be assured, sir, that we shall do all in our power, consistent
with the claims of our other missions, to send some person to Mackinack;
but we cannot promise to succeed immediately. Mr. Ferry, we hope, will
remain the next spring.
"Some embarrassment is felt by our Board, from the fact that foreign
fields, offering access to densely populated districts, where millions
speaking the same language, can be easily approached--are more
attractive to the candidates for the missionary work than the small,
scattered, and migratory bands of our Indians.
"I fear that a preference of this nature will cause our friends--the
Indians--to be neglected, if not forgotten. As Providence seems, in so
many ways, to be against the Indians, I often fear that no considerable
portion of them are ever to enjoy the blessings of civilization and
Christianity. But we must leave them in the hands of God, after using
faithfully the means which he places at our disposal."
"We are glad to hear that you still approve of the course pursued by our
missionaries in the north-west, and that the advancement of the cause of
Christ, in that quarter, is still a subject of care with you, and truth,
and divine grace, will enable you rightly to bear the responsibility in
this respect, which rests on you."
I have put in italics, in the above letter, a high moral truth, which
accords with all my observation and experience on the frontiers; and
upon the due appreciation and carrying out of which, the success of the
missionary cause over the world, in my judgment, depends. It is a
sentence that should be inscribed in letters of gold in every missionary
room in America. It is certainly a mistake to send feeble men on the
frontier, who are not deemed to have sufficient energy, talents, and
sound discretion to enter foreign fields. Our frontiers are full of
cavillers, and shrewd and bold gainsayers of Christianity, men of
personal energy and will, who generally stand aloof from such efforts,
and who, when they come into contact with missionary laborers, judge
them by common rules of judgment--who are, indeed, not the best fitted
to estimate "devoted piety and zeal," but who are, nevertheless,
disposed to respect it, in proportion as it is joined with "high
intellectual character, and judgment, and enterprise." In the frequent
want of this--we do not include Mackinack in this category--is to be
sought the true cause of our failures with the Indians, to whom the
strange and intense story of the Gospel appears at first in something as
wild and marvelous as some of their own relations; and who are, at any
rate, firmly fixed in their heathenish rites and devotions to a subtil
system of deism, and the invocation of gods of the elements and demons.
With respect to the mission of Mackinack, its influence, on the whole,
has been eminently good, and not evil. Mr. Ferry possessed business
talents of a high order, with that strict reference to moral
responsibilities and accountabilities, which compose the golden fibres
of the Gospel net. He sought to bring all, white and red men, into this
net; and its influences were extensively spread from that central point
into the Indian country. He gathered, from the remotest quarters, the
half-breed children of the traders and clerks, into a large and well
organized boarding school, where they were instructed in the points
essential to their becoming useful and respectable men and women. They
were then sent abroad as teachers and interpreters, and traders' clerks,
over a wide space of wilderness, where they disseminated Gospel
principles. Many of their parents also embraced Christianity. Many of
the girls turned out to be ladies of finished education and manners, and
married officers of the army or citizens. There were some pure Indian
converts of both sexes, among whom was the chief prophet of the
Ottawas--the aged Chusco. In 1829, after seven years' labor, he
witnessed a revival among the citizens of that town, which appeared to
be his crowning labor, and it had the effect to renovate the place, and
for many years to drive vice and disorder, if not entirely away, into
holes and corners, where they avoided the light. He came to this island
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