Personal Memoirs Of A Residence Of Thirty Years With The Indian Tribes On The American Frontiers
Henry Rowe Schoolcraft
Part 6 out of 15
Goose Island, a distance of ten miles, after a march of three hours, and
afterwards went to Outard Point, but could go no further from the
increased violence of the wind.
_Outard Point, 8 o'clock P.M._ Here have I been encamped since noon,
with a head wind, a dense damp atmosphere, and the lake in a foam. I
expected the wind would fall with the sun, but, alas! it blows stronger
than ever. I fondly hoped on quitting Mackinac this morning, that I
should see home to-morrow, but that is now impossible. How confidently
do we hope and expect in this life, and how little do we know what is to
befall us for even a few hours beyond the present moment. It has pleased
the All-wise Being to give me an adverse wind, and I must submit to it.
I, doubtless, exulted too soon and too much. On reaching Mackinac, I
said to myself: "My journey is accomplished; my route to the Sault is
nothing; I can go there in a day and a half, wind or no wind." This
vanity and presumption is now punished, and, I acknowledge, justly. I
should have left it to Providence. Wise are the ways of the Almighty,
and salutary all His dispensations to man. Were we not continually put
in mind of an overruling Providence by reverses of this kind, the human
heart, exalted with its own consequence, would soon cease to implore
protection from on high.
I feel solitary. The loud dashing of the waves on shore, and the
darkness and dreariness of all without my tent, conspire to give a
saddened train to my reflections. I endeavored to divert myself, soon
after landing, by a stroll along the shore. I sought in vain among the
loose fragments of rock for some specimens worthy of preservation. I
gleaned the evidences of crystallization and the traces of organic forms
among the cast-up fragments of limestone and sandstone. I amused myself
with the reflection that I should, perhaps, meet you coming from an
opposite direction on the beach, and I half fancied that, perhaps, it
would actually take place. Vain sport of the mind! It served to cheat
away a tedious hour, and I returned to my tent fatigued and half sick. I
am in hopes a cup of tea and a night's rest will restore my equipoise of
mind and body. Thus
"Every pang that rends the heart,
Bids expectation rise."
_7th_. Still detained on this bleak and desolate Point. A heavy rain and
very strong gale continued all night. The rain was driven with such
violence as to penetrate through the texture of my tent, and fall
copiously upon me. Daybreak brought with it no abatement of the storm,
but presented to my view a wide vista of white foaming surge as far as
the eye could reach. In consequence of the increasing violence of the
storm, I was compelled to order my baggage and canoe to be removed, and
my tent to be pitched back among the trees. How long I am to remain here
I cannot conjecture. It is a real equinoxial storm. My ears are stunned
with the incessant roaring of the water and the loud murmuring of the
wind among the foliage. Thick murky clouds obscure the sky, and a chill
damp air compels me to sit in my tent with my cloak on. I may exclaim,
in the language of the Chippewas, _Tyau, gitche sunnahgud_ (oh, how hard
is my fate.)
At two o'clock I made another excursion to view the broad lake and see
if some favorable sign could not be drawn, but returned with nothing to
cast a gleam on the angry vista. It seemed as if the lake was convulsed
to its bottom.
What narrowed pleasures swell the bosom here,
A shore most sterile, and a clime severe,
Where every shrub seems stinted in its size,
"Where genius sickens and where fancy dies."
If to the lake I cast my longing view,
The curling waves their noisy way pursue;
That noise reminds me of my prison-strand,
Those waves I most admire, but cannot stand.
If to the shore I cast my anxious eye,
There broken rocks and sand commingled lie,
Mixed with the wrecks of shells and weeds and wood,
Crushed by the storm and driven by the flood.
E'en fishes there, high cast upon the shore,
Yet pant with life and stain the rocks with gore.
Would here the curious eye expect to meet
Aught precious in the sands beneath his feet,
Ores, gems, or crystals, fitting for the case,
No spot affords so poor, so drear a place.
Rough rounded stones, the sport of every wind,
Is all th' inquirer shall with caution find.
A beach unvaried spreads before the eye;
Drear is the land and stormy is the sky.
Would the fixed eye, that dotes on sylvan scenes,
Draw pleasure from these dark funereal greens,
These stunted cedars and low scraggy pines,
Where nature stagnates and the soil repines--
Alas! the source is small--small every bliss,
That e'er can dwell on such a place as this.
Bleak, barren, sandy, dreary, and confined,
Bathed by the waves and chilled by every wind;
Without a flower to beautify the scene,
Without a cultured shore--a shady green--
Without a harbor on a dangerous shore,
Without a friend to joy with or deplore.
He who can feel one lonely ray of bliss
In such a thought-appalling spot as this,
His mind in fogs and mists must ever roll,
Without a heart, and torpid all his soul.
About three o'clock P.M. there was a transient gleam of sunshine, and,
for a few moments, a slight abatement of wind. I ordered my canoe and
baggage taken inland to another narrow little bay, having issue into the
lake, where the water was calm enough to permit its being loaded; but
before this was accomplished, a most portentous cloud gathered in the
west, and the wind arose more fierce than before. Huron, like an
offended and capricious mistress, seemed to be determined, at last, on
fury, and threw herself into the most extravagant attitudes. I again had
my tent pitched, and sat down quietly to wait till the tempest should
subside; but up to a late hour at night the elemental war continued,
and, committing myself to the Divine mercy, I put out my candle and
retired to my pallet.
_8th_. The frowning mistress, Lake Huron, still has the pouts. About
seven o'clock I walked, or scrambled my way through close-matted spruce
and brambles to get a view of the open lake. The force of the waves was
not, perhaps, much different from the day before, but they were directly
from the west, and blowing directly down the lake. Could I get out from
the nook of a bay where I was encamped, and get directly before them, it
appeared possible, with a close-reefed sail, to go on my way. My
_engagees_ thought it too hazardous to try, but their habitual sense of
obedience to a _bourgeoise_ led them to put the canoe in the water, and
at 10 o'clock we left our encampment on Outard Point, got out into the
lake, not without imminent hazard, and began our career "like a
racehorse" for the Capes of the St. Mary's. The wind blew as if "'twad
blawn its last." We had reefed our sail to less than four feet, and I
put an extra man with the steersman. We literally went "on the wings of
the wind." I do not think myself ever to have run such hazards. I was
tossed up and down the waves like Sancho Panza on the blanket. Three
hours and twenty minutes brought me to Isle St. Vital, behind which we
got shelter. The good saint who presides over the island of gravel and
sand permitted me to take a glass of cordial from my basket, and to
refresh myself with a slice of cold tongue and a biscuit. Who this St.
Vital may have been, I know not, having been brought up a Protestant;
but I suppose the Catholic calendar would tell. If his saintship was as
fond of good living as some of his friends are said to be, I make no
doubt but he will freely forgive this trespass upon his territory.
Taking courage by this refreshment, we again put out before the gale,
and got in to the De Tour, and by seven o'clock, P.M., were safely
encamped on an island in St. Mary's Straits, opposite St. Joseph's. The
wind was here ahead.
On entering the straits, I found a vessel at anchor. On coming alongside
it proved to be the schooner Harriet, Capt. Allen, of Mont Clemens, on
her way from the Sault. A passenger on board says that he was at Mr.
Johnston's house two days ago, and all are well. He says the Chippewa
chiefs arrived yesterday. Regret that I had not forwarded by them the
letter which I had prepared at the Prairie to transmit by Mr. Holliday,
when I supposed I should return by way of Chippewa River and
I procured from the Harriet a whitefish, of which I have just partaken a
supper. This delicious fish is always a treat to me, but was never more
so than on the present occasion. I landed here fatigued, wet, and cold,
but, from the effects of a cheerful fire, good news from home, and
bright anticipations for to-morrow, I feel quite re-invigorated. "Tired
nature's sweet restorer" must complete what tea and whitefish have so
_9th_. My journal has no entry for this day, but it brought me safely
(some 40 miles) to my own domicil at "Elmwood." The excitement of
getting back and finding all well drove away almost all other thoughts.
The impressions made on society by our visit to New York, and the
circles in which we moved, are given in a letter from Mr. Saml. C.
Conant, of the 19th July, which I found among those awaiting my arrival.
To introduce a descendant of one of the native race into society, as
had been done in my choice, was not an ordinary event, and did not
presuppose, it seems, ordinary independence of character. Her
grandfather, by the maternal side, had been a distinguished chief of his
nation at the ancient council-fire, or seat of its government at
Chegoimegon and Lapointe. By her father, a native of Antrim, in the
north of Ireland, she was connected with a class of clergy and gentry of
high respectability, including the Bishop of Dromore and Mr. Saurin, the
Attorney-General of Ireland. Two very diverse sources of pride of
ancestry met in her father's family--that of the noble and free sons of
the forest, and that of ancestral origin founded on the notice of
British aristocracy. With me, the former was of the highest honor, when
I beheld it, as it was in her case, united to manners and education in a
marked degree gentle, polished, retiring, and refined. No two such
diverse races and states of society, uniting to produce such a result,
had ever come to my notice, and I was, of course, gratified when any
persons of intellect and refinement concurred in the wisdom of my
choice. Such was Mr. Conant and his family, a group ever to be
remembered with kindness and respect. Having passed some weeks in his
family, with her infant boy and nurse, during my absence South, his
opportunities for judging were of the best kind.
"If you will suffer me to indulge the expression of both my own and Mrs.
Conant's feelings, I am sure that you cannot but be pleased that the
frankness and generosity of one, and the virtues and gentleness of the
other of you, have made so lively an impression on our hearts, and
rendered your acquaintance to us a matter of very sweet and grateful
reflection. Truly modest and worthy persons often exhibit virtues and
possess attainments so much allied to their nature as to be themselves
unconscious of the treasures. It does not hurt such ones to be informed
of their good qualities.
"When I first visited Mr. Schoolcraft, I looked about for his _Indian
girl_. I carried such a report to my wife that we were determined to
seek her acquaintance, and were not less surprised than recompensed to
find such gentleness, urbanity, affection, and intelligence, under
circumstances so illy calculated, as might be supposed, to produce such
amiable virtues. But all have learned to estimate human nature more
correctly, and to determine that nature herself, not less than the
culture of skillful hands, has much to do with the refinement and polish
of the mind.
"Mr. S.'s book ('Trav. Cent. Ports. Miss. Valley') has also received
several generous and laudatory notices; one from the _U.S. Literary
Gazette_, printed at Boston. I saw Gov. Clinton, also, who spoke very
highly both of the book and the author. He thought that Mr. W.'s
ill-natured critique would not do any injury either here or in Europe."
_Oct. 23d_. C.C. Trowbridge, Esq., sends me a copy of "Guess' Cherokee
Alphabet." It is, with a few exceptions, syllabic. Eighty-four
characters express the whole language, but will express no other
Maj. John Biddle communicates the result of the delegate election. By
throwing out the vote of Sault Ste. Marie, the election was awarded by
the canvassers to Mr. Wing.
New views of Indian philology. "You know," says a literary friend, "I
began with a design to refute the calumnies of the _Quarterly_
respecting our treatment of the Indians, and our conduct during the
recent war. This is precisely what I have not done. My stock of
materials for this purpose was most ample, and the most of the labor
performed. But I found the whole could not be inserted in one number,
and no other part but this could be omitted without breaking the
continuity of the discussion. I concluded, therefore, it would be better
to save it for another article, and hereafter remodel it."
_28th_. Mr. C. writes that he has completed his review, and transmits,
for my perusal, some of the new parts of it. "I also transmit my rough
draft of those parts of the review which relate to Hunter, to Adelang's
survey, and to ----. These may amuse an idle hour. The remarks on ----
are, as you will perceive, materially altered. The alteration was
rendered necessary by an examination of the work. The 'survey' is a new
item, and I think, you will consider, the occasion of it, with me, a
precious specimen of Dutch impudence and ignorance. Bad as it is, it is
bepraised and bedaubed by that quack D. as though it were written with
the judgment of a Charlevoix."
This article utters a species of criticism in America which we have long
It breaks the ice on new ground--the ground of independent
philosophical thought and inquiry. Truth to tell, we have known very
little on the philosophy of the Indian languages, and that little has
been the re-echo of foreign continental opinions. It has been written
without a knowledge of the Indian character and history. Its allusions
have mixed up the tribes in double confusion. Mere synonyms have been
taken for different tribes, and their history and language has been
criss-crossed as if the facts had been heaped together with a pitchfork.
Mr. C. has made a bold stroke to lay the foundation of a better and
truer philological basis, which must at last prevail. It is true the
_prestige_ of respected names will rise up to oppose the new views,
which, I confess, to be sustained in their main features by my own views
and researches here on the ground and in the midst of the Indians, and
men will rise to sustain the _old_ views--the original literary mummery
and philological hocus-pocus based on the papers and letters and
blunders of Heckewelder. There was a great predisposition to admire and
overrate everything relative to Indian history and language, as detailed
by this good and sincere missionary in his retirement at Bethlehem. He
was appealed to as an oracle. This I found by an acquaintance which I
formed, in 1810, with the late amiable Dr. Wistar, while rusticating at
Bristol, on the banks of the Delaware. The confused letters which the
missionary wrote many years later, were mainly due to Dr. Wistar's
philosophical interest in the subject. They were rewritten and
thoroughly revised and systematized by the learned Mr. Duponceau, in
1816, and thus the philological system laid, which was published by the
Penn. Hist. Soc. in 1819. During the six years that has elapsed, nobody
has had the facts to examine the system. It has been now done, and I
shall be widely mistaken if this does not prove a new era in our Indian
Whatever the review does on this head, however, and admitting that it
pushes some positions to an ultra point, it will blow the impostor
Hunter sky high. His book is an utter fabrication, in which there is
scarcely a grain of truth hid in a bushel of chaff.
_Nov. 4th_. Difficulties have arisen, at this remote post, between the
citizens and the military, the latter of whom have shown a disposition
to feel power and forget right, by excluding, except with onerous
humiliations, some citizens from free access to the post-office. In a
letter of this date, the Postmaster-General (Mr. McLean) declines to
order the office to be kept out of the fort, and thus, in effect,
decides against the citizens. How very unimportant a citizen is 1000
miles from the seat of government! The national aegis is not big enough
to reach so far. The bed is too long for the covering. A man cannot wrap
himself in it. It is to be hoped that the Postmaster-General will live
long enough to find out that he has been deceived in this matter.
_29th_. Mr. Conant, of New York, writes: "I hope you will not fail to
prosecute your Indian inquiries this winter, getting out of them all the
stories and all the _Indian_ you can. I conclude you hear an echo now
and then from the big world, notwithstanding your seclusion. The Creek
Delegation is at Washington, unfriendly to the late treaty, and I expect
some changes not a little interesting to the aboriginal cause. Mr. Adams
looks at his 'red children' with a friendly eye, and, I trust, 'the men
of his house,' as the Indian orator called Congress, will prove
themselves so. I have been charmed with the quietude and coolness
manifested in Congress in reference to the Georgia business."
And with these last words from the civilized world, we are prepared to
plunge into another winter, with all its dreary accompaniments of ice
and snow and tempests, and with the _consoling_ reflection that when our
poor and long-looked-for monthly express arrives, we can get our letters
and papers from the office after duly performing our genuflections to a
petty military chief, with the obsequiousness of a Hindoo to the image
General aspects of the Indian cause--Public criticism on the state of
Indian researches, and literary storm raised by the new views--Political
rumor--Death of R. Pettibone, Esq.--Delegate election--Copper mines of
Lake Superior--Instructions for a treaty in the North--Death of Mr.
Pettit--Denial of post-office facilities--Arrival of commissioners to
hold the Fond du Lac treaty--Trip to Fond du Lac through Lake
Superior--Treaty--Return--Deaths of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.
_1826. Feb. 1st_. The year opens with unfavorable symptoms for the
Indian cause. The administration is strong in Congress, and the
President favorable to the Indian view of their right to the soil they
occupy east of the Mississippi until it is acquired by free cession. But
the doctrine of state sovereignty contended for by Georgia, seems to be
an element which all the States will, in the end, unite in contending
for. And the Creeks may settle their accounts with the fact that they
must finally go to the West. This is a practical view of the subject--a
sort of political necessity which seems to outride everything else.
Poetry and sympathy are rode over roughshod in the contest for the race.
We feel nothing of this _here_ at present, but it is only, perhaps,
because we are too remote and unimportant to waste a thought about.
Happy insignificance! As one of the little means of supporting existence
in so remote a spot, and keeping alive, at the same time, the spark of
literary excitement, I began, in December, a manuscript _jeu d'esprit_
newspaper, to be put in covers and sent from house to house, with the
perhaps too ambitious cognomen of "The Literary Voyager."
_6th_. The author of a leading and pungent critique for the _North
American Review_ writes in fine spirits from Washington, and in his
usual literary tone and temper about his review: "Dr. Sparks' letter
will show you his opinion. He altered the manuscript in some places, and
makes me say of--what I do not think and what I would not have
said. But let that pass. I gave him _carte blanche_, so I have no right
to find fault with his exercise of his discretion. W. is in a terrible
passion. He says that the article is written with ability, and that he
always entertained the opinion expressed in the review of Heckewelder's
work. But he is provoked at the comments on ----'s work, and, above all,
at the compliment to you. Douglass, who is here, says this is merely
Philadelphia _versus_ New York, and that it is a principle with the
former to puff all that is printed there, and to decry all that is not."
This appears to have been known to Gov. Clinton, and is the ground of
the opinion he expressed of W. to Mr. Conant.
_March 6th_. Col. De Garmo Jones writes from Detroit that it is rumored
that McLean is to leave the General Post-office Department, and to be
appointed one of the United States Judges.
Mr. L. Pettibone, of Missouri, my companion in exploring the Ozark
Mountains in 1818 and 1819, writes from that quarter that his brother,
Rufus Pettibone, Esq., of St. Louis, died on the 31st July last. He was
a man of noble, correct, and generous sentiments, who had practiced law
with reputation in Western New York. I accompanied him and his family on
going to the Western country, on his way from Olean to Pittsburgh. His
generous and manly character and fair talents, make his death a loss to
the community, and to the growing and enterprising population of the
West. He was one of the men who cheered me in my early explorations in
the West, and ever met me with a smile.
_7th_. My sister Maria writes, posting me up in the local news of
_9th_. Mr. Trowbridge informs me that Congress settled the contested
delegate question by casting aside the Sault votes. We are so
unimportant that even our votes are considered as worthless. However
that may be, nothing could be a greater misrepresentation than that
"Indians from their lodges were allowed to vote."
_14th_. Col. Thomas H. Benton, of the Senate, writes that an
appropriation of $10,000 has been granted for carrying out a clause in
the Prairie du Chien treaty, and that a convocation of the Indians in
Lake Superior will take place, "so that the copper-mine business is
_17th_. Maj. Joseph Delafield, of New York, says that Baron Lederer is
desirous of entering into an arrangement for the exchange of my large
mass of Lake Superior copper, for mineralogical specimens for the
Imperial Cabinet of Vienna.
_April 16th_. A letter from the Department contains incipient directions
for convening the Indians to meet in council at the head of Lake
Superior, and committing the general arrangements for that purpose to my
hands, and, indeed, my hands are already full. Boats, canoes, supplies,
transportation for all who are to go, and a thousand minor questions,
call for attention. A treaty at Fond du Lac, 500 miles distant, and the
throwing of a commissariat department through the lake, is no
_27th_. A moral question of much interest is presented to me in a
communication from the Rev. Alvan Coe. Of the disinterested nature and
character of this man's benevolence for the Indian race, no man knowing
him ever doubted. He has literally been going about doing good among
them since our first arrival here in 1822. In his zeal to shield them
from the arts of petty traders, he has often gone so far as to incur the
ill-will and provoke the slanderous tongues of some few people. That he
should deem it necessary to address me a letter to counteract such
rumors, is the only thing remarkable. Wiser, in some senses, and more
prudent people in their worldly affairs, probably exist; but no man of a
purer, simpler, and more exalted faith. No one whom I ever knew lives
less for "the rewards that perish." Even Mr. Laird, whose name is
mentioned in these records, although he went far beyond him in talents,
gifts, and acquirements of every sort, had not a purer faith, yet he
will, like that holy man, receive his rewards from the same "Master."
_May 2d_. Mr. Trowbridge writes me of the death of Wm. W. Pettit, Esq.,
of Detroit, a man respected and admired. He loaned me a haversack,
suitable for a loose mineral bag, on my expedition in 1820.
_8th_. Difficulties between the military and citizens continue. The
Postmaster-General declined, on a renewed memorial of the citizens, to
remove the post-office without the garrison. He says the officers have
evinced "much sensibility" on the subject, and denied that "any
restraints or embarrassments" have been imposed, when every man and
woman in the settlement knows that the only way to the _post-office_
lies through the _guard-house_, which is open and shut by tap of drum.
Restraints, indeed! Where has the worthy Postmaster-General picked up
his military information?
_June 6th_. Definite information is received that the appropriation for
the Lake Superior treaty has passed Congress.
_10th_. Mr. John Agnew, designated a special agent for preliminaries at
Fond du Lac, writes of his prompt arrival at that place and
Gov. C. writes: "We must remove the copper-rock, and, therefore, you
will have to provide such ropes and blocks as may be necessary."
_22d_. The citizens on this frontier, early in the season, petitioned
the Legislative Council for the erection of a new county, embracing the
Straits of St. Mary's and the Basin of Lake Superior, proposing to call
it Chippewa, in allusion to the tribe occupying it. Maj. Robert A.
Forsyth, of Detroit, M.C., writes of the success of the
_July 4th_. The proposed treaty of Fond du Lac has filled the place with
bustle for the last month. At an early hour this morning expectation was
gratified by the arrival of His Excellency, Gov. Cass, accompanied by
the Hon. Thomas L. McKenney, Commissioner of Indian Affairs. They
reached the village in boats from Mackinac.
These gentlemen are appointed by the President to hold the conferences
at Fond du Lac.
_10th_. Everything has been put in requisition for the last six days to
facilitate the necessary embarkation. Jason could not have been more
busy in preparing for his famous expedition to Argos. The military
element of the party consisted of a company of the 2d Infantry, with its
commissariat and medical department, numbering, all told, sixty-two men.
It was placed under the command of Capt. Boardman. They embarked in
three twelve-oared barges, and formed the advance. The provisions,
presents of goods, and subsistence supplies of the commissioners' table,
occupied four boats, and went next. I proceeded in a canoe _allege_ with
ten men, with every appendage to render the trip convenient and
agreeable. Col. McKenney, struck with "the coach-and-six" sort of style
of this kind of conveyance, determined to take a seat with me, and
relying upon our speed and capacity to overtake the heavy boats, we
embarked a day later. The whole expedition, with flags and music, was
spread out over miles, and formed an impressive and imposing spectacle
to the natives, who saw their "closed lake," as Superior was called in
1820, yield before the Anglo-Saxon power. The weather was fine, the
scenery enchanting, and the incidents such as might fill a volume. We
were eighteen days in traversing the lake by its shores and bays. The
distance is about 530 miles, which gives an average of thirty miles
[Footnote 45: Vide "Sketches of a Tour to the Lakes, of the Character and
Customs of the Chippewa Indians, and of Incidents connected with the
Treaty of Fond du Lac, by Thomas L. McKenney." Baltimore, Fielding
Lucas, 1827; one vol. 8vo., 493 pp.]
On reaching the post of Fond du Lac, of St. Louis, near the point where
that bold stream deploys below the Cabotian Mountains, we found a
large assemblage of Indians from every part of the wide-spread Chippewa
territories. It embraced delegations from the extreme sources of the
Mississippi, the Rainy Lake borders, and Old Grand Portage, besides the
entire American borders of Lake Superior and the Rice Lake region, the
sources of the Wisconsin, Chippewa, and St. Croix valleys. The
negotiations were held under a large bower, supported by posts, and
provided with rude seats. The principles of the treaty of Prairie du
Chien, of 1825, were fully explained and assented to. They ceded the
right to explore and take away the native copper and copper-ores, and to
work the mines and minerals in the country. They agreed to surrender the
murderers still inland, who belonged to the misguided war party of 1824.
They fully acknowledged the sovereign authority of the United States,
and disclaimed all connection whatever with foreign powers. They
stipulated that the boundary lines of the treaty of Prairie du Chien
should be carried out in 1827 with the Menomonies and Winnebagoes, in
the region of the sources of the Fox, Wisconsin, and Menomonee rivers.
They provided for an Indian school at St. Mary's, and made some further
important stipulations respecting their advance in the arts and
education, through the element of their half-breeds. The effects of this
treaty were to place our Indian relations in this quarter on a permanent
basis, and to ensure the future peace of the frontier. My agency was now
fixed on a sure basis, and my influence fully established among the
tribes. During the treaty I had been the medium of placing about forty
silver medals, of the first, second, and third classes, on the necks of
the chiefs. A list of their names is appended.
[Footnote 46: From Cabot.]
While the Commissioners were engaged in the treaty, an effort was made,
under their direction, to get out the large copper-boulder on the
Ontonagon. It was entrusted to Col. Clemens, of Mount Clemens, and a Mr.
Porter. The trucks and ropes taken inland by them proved inadequate.
They then piled up the dry trees in the valley on the rock, and set them
on fire. They found this effort to melt it inefficacious. They then
poured on water from the river on whose brink it lays. This cracked off
some of the adhering rock. And this attempt to mutilate and falsify the
noblest specimen of native copper on the globe was the result of
The whole expedition re-embarked on the 9th of August, and being now
relieved of its heavy supplies and favored with winds, returned to the
Sault St. Marie on the 18th of that month.
No sooner were we arrived at St. Mary's than we were informed of the
remarkable coincident deaths, on the 4th July, 1826, of John Adams and
Thomas Jefferson, the second and third Presidents of the United States.
Among the letters accumulated during my absence, was one of Aug. 2d,
from Gov. Clinton, requesting some wild rice for foreign distribution.
Another one was from my excellent friend Conant, of N.Y., who, with a
fine sensitive mind, just appreciation of facts, and no ordinary
capacity, appears to be literally breaking down in health and spirits,
although still a young man. In a joint letter to Mrs. S. and myself, he
says: "It appears you do not escape afflictions and visitations to teach
you 'how frail you are,' how liable at any moment to render up to Him
who gave them, your spirit and your life. Mr. S.," he adds, in evident
allusion to my excess of "hope," "firm in body and ambitious in his
pursuits, does not, I suppose, give over yet, and can scarcely
understand how anybody should tire of life, and look at its pursuits
Among my unread letters was one, Aug. 28th, from a Mr. Myer and Mr.
Cocke, of Washington, District of Columbia, who propose to establish a
periodical to be called "The Potomac Magazine," and solicit
contributions. These abortive attempts to establish periodicals by
unknown men are becoming more frequent as population increases in the
land. It is felt truly that the number of _readers_ must increase, but
it is a mistake to suppose that they will read anything but the very
best matter from the first sources, European and American. It is, at any
rate, a mistake to suppose that a man who has attained reputation in any
branch of science, literature, or general knowledge, should not seek the
highest medium of communicating it, or that he would throw away his time
and efforts in writing for these mere idealities of magazines without
the strong inducements of either fame, money, or, at least, personal
E.A. Brush, Esq., of Detroit, writes (Aug. 28th) from Mackinac, that
honors were performed that day by the military authorities on the
island, in commemoration of the deaths of Adams and Jefferson. "The
obsequies have this morning commenced here; but at this moment it is
rather difficult to select the report of a cannon, at intervals of half
an hour, from the claps of thunder at those of half a minute."
_Aug. 20th_. Mr. Robert Stuart, agent of the A.M. Fur Co., writes a
letter of congratulations on the good policy to result from placing a
sub-agent at La Pointe, in Lake Superior, a location where the interior
tricks of the trade may be reported for the notice of the government.
The selection of the sub-agent appointed by Commissioner McKenney is
gall and wormwood to him. He strives to conceal the deep chagrin he
feels at the selection of Mr. George Johnston as the incumbent.
Epidemical condition of the atmosphere at Detroit--Death of Henry J.
Hunt and A. G. Whitney, Esqrs.--Diary of the visits of Indians at St.
Mary's Agency--Indian affairs on the frontier under the supervision of
Col. McKenney--Criticisms on the state of Indian questions--Topic of
Indian eloquence--State of American researches in natural science--Dr.
Saml. L. Mitchell.
1826. _September_. Sickness, which often assumed a mortal type, broke
out during this month at Detroit, and carried away many of its most
esteemed citizens. Col. McKenney writes (Sep. 13th) that the
Commissioners reached that place from Mackinac in ten days, and that an
alarming sickness prevails--one hundred cases! Among the latter is Mrs.
Judge Hunt, an esteemed lady.
Gov. C. (Sep. 14th) announces the death of Col. Henry J. Hunt, one of
the most respectable citizens; a man who, for many years, has occupied a
position of the highest respect and esteem. His honor, integrity, and
general usefulness, urbanity of manners and kindness to all classes,
have never been called in question, and his loss to society will create
a vacancy which will long be felt. Called away suddenly, his death has
produced a shock in all classes, from the highest to the lowest.
Edmund A. Brush, Esq., writes (Sept. 17th): "Our unhappy mortality
prevails." On the 23d, he says: "Mr. Whitney has been lying at the point
of death for the last ten or twelve days. We hope he begins to improve."
These hopes were delusive. He died. Mr. Whitney had been abroad; he was
an assiduous and talented advocate--a native of Hudson, N.Y.--was on the
high road to political distinction--a moral man and a public loss.
I amused myself this fall by keeping notes of the official visits of my
Indian neighbors. They may denote the kind of daily wants against which
this people struggle.
_Oct. 2d_. Monetogeezhig complained that he had not been able to take
any fish for several days, and solicited some food for himself and
family, being five persons. The dress and general appearance of himself
and wife and the children, nearly naked, bore evidence to the truth of
his repeated expressions, that they were "poor, very poor, and hungry."
He also presented a kettle and an axe to be repaired. I gave him a
ticket on the Agency blacksmith, and caused sixteen rations of flour and
pork to be issued to him.
_3d_. The petty chief, Cheegud, with his wife and two children, arrived
from Lake Superior, and reported that since leaving the Taquimenon he
had killed nothing. While inland, he had broken his axe and trap. This
young chief is son-in-law of Shingauba W'ossin, principal chief of the
Chippewas. He is one of the home band, has been intimate at the agency
from its establishment, and is very much attached to the government. He
attended the treaty of Prairie du Chien, in 1825, and the treaty of Fond
du Lac, in 1826, and received at the latter a medal of the third size.
He has always properly appreciated the presents given him, and by his
temperate, consistent, and respectable course of life, merited
attention. Directed a ticket on the shop and twenty rations.
_6th_. An Indian woman, wife of Sirdeland, a resident Canadian, in very
low circumstances, and living in the Indian mode, requested a kettle to
be mended. My rule, in cases of this sort, excludes Indian females who
are under the protection of Canadian husbands from a participation in
the presents distributed at the office. But it is proper to make
exceptions, in some instances, where repairs of ironwork are solicited.
Directed a ticket on the blacksmith.
_13th_. Issued to Waykwauking and family twelve rations.
_16th_. Shingwaukoance, _The Little Pine_ (17th July, 1822, first
visit), accompanied by twenty persons, visited the office. This is one
of the signers of the Treaty of St. Mary of 1820, where his mark is
prefixed to his _French_ name, Augustin Bart. He told me he had come to
visit me, attended with all his young men, and requested I would listen
to what he had to say. He made a speech at great length, in which he
recapitulated his good offices and exertions towards the Americans, from
the time of Gov. Cass's arrival in 1820. He stated that a plot had then
been formed to cut off the Gov.'s party, and that he and Mr. G. Johnston
had been instrumental in thwarting the design. He was glad to see the
fire I had lighted up here in 1822 was kept burning, that the Indians
might come and warm themselves by it. He had now determined to come and
live permanently on the American side of the river, and put himself
under my protection.
He repeated his friendship, and gave a "parole" of blue wampum to
confirm his words. One of his party then lighted a pipe and handed it to
me to smoke in the usual manner. Caused tobacco and sixty rations of
food to be distributed among his band.
_20th_. Oshawano solicited food, declaring that his boys had not been
able to take any fish from the rapids for several days. This is an old
man, and a chief resident at St. Mary's. I told him that it was not my
practice, which he knew, to issue provision to the families of fishermen
during the fishing season, and that I expected his children to supply
him; that, besides, he was one of the persons who had visited the B.
Post at D. Isd. during the last summer, and that he knew I made no
presents of any kind to Indians who received presents there; that if he
went to his B. father in the summer, when it was pleasant weather, he
must also go in the fall and winter, when the weather was bad; that if
they gave him presents of goods, they must also give him food. He looked
very grave, and, after a short silence, said that he had got little or
nothing at D.I. He said his home was _here_, and he was very poor, &c.
Knowing, from personal observation, that he was suffering for food, I
_21st_. Cheegud came to say that he was about to go to his wintering
grounds, and wished some provisions to commence the journey. This young
chief has been welcomed at the agency, and is friendly to the American
government. He attended the treaties of P.D.C. and F. du Lac; at the
latter he received a medal. He has always appreciated attentions, and by
his sober, consistent, and respectful course of life, merits the notice
of the office. I gave him some necessary ironwork, a knife, tobacco,
ammunition, provisions (18).
_23d_. Visited by Shingauwosh (4 p.)
_24th_. Akeewayzee (4 per.)
_26th_. Keewikoance and band, eleven persons. This is a chief residing
on the lower part of the river St. Mary. Having visited him last spring,
he gave me an ancient clay pot, such as the Indians used before the
arrival of Europeans. He told me he was the seventh chief, in a direct
line, since the French first arrived. He and his band plant some corn
and potatoes upon an island. He appears a sensible discreet man, and has
a good deal of the pride and dignity of the Indian character. He is in
the British interest, and his feelings are all that way, being always
received at D. I. with marked attention. He has a British medal, but
wishes to keep on friendly terms here.
_28th_. Metosh came in the office and said: "My father, I am very poor;
I have nothing, not even an axe to cut wood. Show me pity."
_30th_. Visited by Wayishkee, a chief, having a medal of the first
class, formerly of La Pointe, in Lake Superior, and of an ancient line
of chiefs, but for the last three years a resident of St. Mary's. He had
a wife and nine children. Has been in the constant habit of visiting the
office since its establishment; but it is only within the last year that
he has given up visiting D. I. He is one of the signers of the treaty of
St. Mary. He attended the treaty of F. du Lac last summer. Received a
medal and flag from me in the spring. Is a good hunter and a kind and
affectionate parent. Had all his children by one wife. Came to inform me
that he was on his way to make his first hunt on Red Carp river, L. S.
Gave him ironwork, &c.
_30th_. Neegaubeyun, _The West Wind_, a chief by descent of the home
band; is a man about forty; has lost one eye; much given to
intemperance, and generally badly clothed; will sometimes labor for
whisky; visits D.I. every season. In consequence of his poor character
and political bias, has never been recognized by me as a chief, nor
honored with the marks of one. He said that he was poor, and did not
come to trouble me often, and hoped I would show him charity. I told him
he must not construe my charity into approbation of his conduct,
particularly his visits to D.I., which were displeasing to me and had
been forbidden by his American Father (3b.)
_30th_. Muckudaywuckooneyea. This is a young man about 18. His father
was a steady friend to the American cause even during the late war, and
many years before an Agent resided here. He had received a Jefferson
medal at Detroit; was drowned in the St. Mary a few years ago. The son
has been an irregular visitor at the office for the last four years, and
is ambitious to be invested with the authority of his father, but
possesses neither age, ability, or discretion. In consequence of his
visiting D.I., contrary to my request and _his_ promise, I took away his
father's medal from him, in 1823, hanging it up in my office, and
telling him when he was worthy of it, and not before, he should have it.
His conduct of late has been more considerate, and his professions of
friendship for the American government are profuse; but he has not
ceased his Canada visits. Ten rations.
_Nov. 5th_. Ketuckeewagauboway. This being Sunday, I told him he knew
very well that I never listened to Indians on the Prayer Day unless they
were just come from a journey, &c. He went away, saying he had
_6th_. Oshkinaway and brother, 18 p., of the British shore. Brought a
present of some partridges.
_7th_. Metacosegay. This man resides the greater part of the time on the
Canadian side of the river, but hunts often on the American shore. He
resided many years ago with a French family at St. Mary, and has imbibed
something of the French taste and manners, always wearing an ornamental
hat, and making a bow on entering and leaving the office. He has been in
the regular habit of visiting me from the year 1822, and generally
applies for what is termed _nwappo_ on setting out for his fall and
winter hunts. His elder wife, for he has two, is a Sioux slave, taken in
youth. (3, 12 r.)
_7th_. Nauwequay Wegauboway. (4, 20.)
_9th_. This day Bisconaosh visited me for the first time since my
residence here. He came with his wife and two children. This man is of
the ancient band of the Falls, but being strongly attached to the
British government, has been shy of approaching me. This has been taken
advantage of by Mr. E., a trader on the opposite shore, who told him the
Americans would cause him to be whipped, with other idle stuff of that
sort, if he came over. He stated these facts as the cause for his not
coming earlier to see me, and said he was anxious to return to the seat
of his forefathers, &c. Presented him with an axe, pair of spears,
ice-chisel, knife, and a couple of flints, and with sixteen rations of
flour, pork, and beans. _10th_. Ketuckeewagauboway. This is a resident
Indian of this place. He is a fisherman during the summer, and scarcely
ever does more in the winter than to snare hares or kill partridges,
which he exposes for sale. He also makes snow-shoes, &c. He is
intemperate and improvident, wasting in liquor what would be useful to
his family if laid out for provisions, &c. It is impossible to avoid
issues to such persons occasionally. Advice and reproof he always takes
well, acknowledges their justice with good nature, and is even
facetiously pleasant. This man used formerly to come to the office
intoxicated; but my undeviating rule of listening to no Indian in that
state, has had good effect.
_10th_. Kewazee, a fisherman in the fall, a hunter in the winter, is the
eldest son of the old hereditary chief Oshawano. Keeps himself well
clothed, and supports his family of four persons comfortably in the
Indian way. Having concluded to stop fishing for the season, he came to
solicit some provision to go inland. This is one of the home band who
adheres to the American government, and has entirely broken off all
visits to D.I., even contrary to the practice of his father and all the
other members of his family.
_13th_. Iawbeance, _The Little Male_, a young man.
_14th_. Margret, wife of Metakoosega, came in the name of her husband,
confined by a sore hand and unable to work. 3, 10.
_15th_. Wabishkipenaysee, 6, 18, an Ontonagon Indian, who thinks he is
abandoned by his Manito.
_16th_. Naugitshigome and band, 12, 48. This is an old man, a chief by
descent, but has neither medal nor flag from the British or American
government. His followers, consisting of some relations, entitle him to
some respect, although his foreign attachments have prevented my
receiving him as a chief. His visits are, however, constant, and he
professes himself friendly. His prejudices have evidently given way a
good deal, and the kindness and charity shown to him, mixed with
admonition, have produced a sensible change in his feelings.
_18th_. Caubaonaquet, 6, 36.
_21st_. Moazomonee, 4, 14, of St. Croix, L.S., made a speech, stating
the circumstances which brought him down, and imploring charity in
clothes, &c. Presented a pipe to him; gave him an axe, spears, chisel,
fire-steel, leggings, &c.
_24th_. Oaugaugee, _Little Crow_, 4, 12, a son-in-law of Naugitchigome,
brought some hares as a present.
_27th_. Ochipway, a stout, athletic young Indian, having a wife and
children. He said his youngest child was ill, and requested a physician
to be sent to see him.
_27th_. Negaubeyun, 12, 36.
Oshawano. Told him to come some other time. Axe and spears.
_29th_. Akewaizee applied for provisions and an axe, saying his axe had
been stolen; that he wished to go down the river. I taxed him with
selling his axe for liquor, but he denied this, saying that he never
sold what he received as presents, and that it was stolen while he was
fishing. Gave him an axe, with an injunction that he must take better
care of it than he did of the last. Ten rations.
_30th_. Metacosseguay and wife. Said he had not been able to hunt or
fish for some time, and had been disappointed in getting flour for some
fish he had sold; that the trader had promised him flour when the vessel
came, but no vessel had come. This being the _third_ visit of this man
and family within three weeks, I told him that while he was unwell I had
given him, but now he was able to hunt or trap or fish, he must do so;
that he came to me too often, and sometimes after he had sold the avails
of his hunt, and taken the whole in liquor, he relied upon me for
provisions; that I saw clearly what was going on about me, and he could
not deceive me by idle stories, &c.; that he was constantly calling me
father, and entreating me to look upon him as a child, and I did so, not
only in giving, but also in refusing; that reasonable children did not
trouble their fathers too often, and never requested anything but when
they were _really_ in need, &c. I ordered him a plug of tobacco, and
told him to go to his lodge and _smoke upon my words_, and he would find
them good. He went away seemingly as well pleased as if I had met his
requests, shaking me and my interpreter cordially by the hand, and his
wife dropping a curtsey as she left the office.
_30th_. Moazomonee, nephew, and brother-in-law, came for some muskrat
traps I had promised him on his last visit. As this man belongs to a
band on the head of River St. Croix, 700 miles inland, and will return
there in the spring, the opinions he may imbibe of our government may
have an important influence with his relatives, and I therefore
determined to make a favorable impression upon him by issuing some
presents. In his lodge are four men, three women, and a number of
children. Issued sixteen rations.
_Decr. 1st_. Cath. and Gikkaw applied for awls.
_2d_. Oshawano and his youngest son. Said he had three daughters who had
to cut wood every day, and had no axe of their own; that he was in want
of an ice-chisel; fever in family. Gave him twenty rations. Thanked me
and bade me good-day.
_4th_. Caubamossa, nephew, wife, and child. Twelve rations.
_4th_. Odawau, Refused provisions. Elder brother to Oshawano, alias
_4th_. Getsha Akkewaize. Refused provisions. Told him that on account of
visits to D.I., &c.
_4th_. Moazonee came for traps promised him, also a knife and
fire-steel. Told him to hunt assiduously, but if he could procure
nothing, to come to me for provisions.
_7th_. Merchand. Old iron to mend.
_7th_. Nauwaquaygahig. 12, axe, &c.
_9th_. Namewunagunboway. 12.
_9th_. Merchand. Twenty rations, five persons.
_13th_. Ketetckeewagauboway. Axe and spears.
_13th_. Gitshee Ojibway.
_17th_. Naugitchigome called at house. Sent off with, a reprimand never
to call on Sunday.
_18th_. Iaubence brought some birds. Gave rations.
My correspondence during the autumn was by no means neglected. Col.
McKenney, Com. Ind. Affairs, writes (Oct. 17th) in his usual friendly
vein. The official influence of his visit to this remote portion of the
country is seen in several things. He has placed a sub-agent at La
Pointe. He has approved the agent's course of policy pursued here, and
placed the Indian affairs generally on a better basis.
In his "sketches" of his recent tour, he seeks to embody personal and
amusing things which daily befell the party--matters upon which he was
quite at home. I had mentioned to him, while here, that the time and
labor necessary to collect information on Indian topics, of a literary
character, imposed a species of research worthy of departmental
patronage; that I was quite willing to contribute in this way, and to
devote my leisure moments to further researches on the aboriginal
history and languages, if the government would appropriate means to this
end. I took the occasion to put these views in writing, and, by way of
earnest, enclosed him part of a vocabulary.
_Nov. 1st._ The false views of Indian history and philology, engendered
in some degree by the misapprehensions of Mr. Heckewelder and some other
writers, which were exposed by a glowing article in the _North American
Review_ last year, have had the effect to provoke further discussion. C.
is disposed to prepare another article for that paper, and is looking
about him keenly for new facts. In a letter of this date, he says: "I am
extremely anxious for your conjugation of the Chippewa substantive verb.
Let nothing prevent you from sending it to me, as it is more essential
than I have time to explain to you. Send me also your observations on
the Chippewa language. Let them come as you had them. Take no time to
_11th_. Mr. R. S. writes one of his peculiar letters, in which the
sentiments seem to be compressed, as if some species of _finesse_ were
at work--an attenuated worldly precaution which leads him perpetually to
half conceal sentiment, purpose and acts, as if the operations and
business of life were not ten times better effected by plain
straightforwardness than by any other mode. He has, however, so long
dealt with tricky fur-traders and dealers in interested sentiment, that
it seems his intellectual habits are formed, to some extent, on that
model. What annoys me is, that he supposes himself hid, when, like the
ostrich, it is only his own head that is concealed in the sand. Yet this
man is alive to general moral effort, unites freely in all the
benevolent movements of the day, and has the general air of friendliness
in his personal manners. It continually seems that all the outer world's
affairs are well judged of, but when he comes to draw conclusions of
moral men who have the power of affecting his own interests, there is
apparent constraint, or palpable narrow-mindedness.
_29th_. Professor Chas. Anthon, of Columbia College, writes for
specimens of Indian eloquence. The world has been grossly misled on this
subject. The great simplicity, and occasional strength, of an Indian's
thoughts, have sometimes led to the use of figures and epithets of
beauty. He is surrounded by all the elements of poetry and
eloquence--tempests, woods, waters, skies. His mythology is poetic. His
world is replete with spirits and gods of all imaginable kinds and hues.
His very position--a race falling before civilization, and obliged to
give up the bow and arrow for the plough--is poetic and artistic. But he
has no sustained eloquence, no continuous trains of varying thought. It
is the flash, the crack of contending elements. It is not the steady
sound of the waterfall. Such was the eloquent appeal of Logan, revised
and pointed by Gibson. Such was the more sustained speech of Garangula
to La Barrie, the Governor-General of Canada, with La Hontan as a
reporter. Such were the speeches of Pontiac and the eloquent Sagoyawata,
or Red Jacket, the readiest reasoner of them all, which were diluted
rather than improved by admiring paragraphists. Many persons have
purposed to write a volume of Indian eloquence. Mr. Conant's design on
this subject is fresh. The present request is to supply Mr. Barker, the
publisher of "Stephen's Greek Thesaurus," Cambridge, England. What under
the sun do the learned world suppose the Indians are made of? A man
spending his time painfully to catch a beaver, or entrap an enemy,
without stores of thought, without leisure, with nothing often to eat,
and nothing to put on but tatters and rags, and, withal, with the whole
Anglo-Saxon race treading on his toes and burning out his vitals with
ardent spirits. Such is the Indian.
I sent the learned professor some perfectly truthful specimens, recently
delivered here on the occasion of a surgeon from the fort digging up the
body of an Indian woman for dissection. They expressed plain truth
without eloquence, and I never heard anything more of the professor.
_30th. Science in America_.--I received a friendly letter from Dr.
Samuel L. Mitchell, N. Y. There are, of recent years, more purely
scientific men in the land, no doubt, than the venerable doctor. But
could this have been said truly even ten years ago? He is now, perhaps,
the best ichthyologist in the Union. He is a well-read zoologist, an
intelligent botanist and a general physiologist, and has been for a long
series of years the focus of the diffusion of knowledge on a great
variety of subjects. Gov. Clinton has well called him the "Delphic
Oracle" in one of his Letters of Hibernicus, because every one who has a
scientific question to ask comes to him.
"The Lyceum of Natural History," he writes, "is going on prosperously in
the collection of articles and in the publication of intelligence. The
museum is enlarging and the annals progressing. The intercourse of New
York city with almost numberless parts of the globe, aided by the
enterprise and generosity of our navigating citizens, is productive of
an almost constant supply of natural productions, some familiar, some
known to naturalists, but not before seen by us, and others new to the
whole class of observers."
_Dec. 1st_. Much leisure during the four years I have been at this
agency, added to an early developed distaste for the ordinary modes of
killing time, has enabled me to give no little of my leisure to literary
pursuits. The interesting phenomena of the Indian grammar have come in
for a large share of my attention. This has caused me to revise and
extend my early studies, and to rummage such books on general grammar
and philology as I could lay my hands on. Every winter, beginning as
soon as the navigation closes and the world is fairly shut out, has thus
constituted a season of studies. My attention has been perpetually
divided between books and living interpreters. This may be said to be my
fourth year's _course_ with the Johnstons on the languages.
I have also resumed, as an alternate amusement, "The Literary Voyager."
I wrote this year "The Man of Bronze," an essay on the Indian character,
which has contributed to my own amusement, nor have I determined to show
it to a human eye.
Let others write what others deftly may,
I aim with thought to fill my wintry day.
Mineralogy--Territorial affairs--Vindication of the American policy by
its treatment of the Indians--New York spirit of improvement--Taste for
cabinets of natural history--Fatalism in an Indian--Death of a first
born son--Flight from the house--Territorial matters--A literary
topic--Preparations for another treaty--Consolations--Boundary in the
North-west under the treaty of Ghent--Natural history--Trip to Green
Bay--Treaty of Butte des Morts--Winnebago outbreak--Intrepid conduct of
General Cass--Indian stabbing--Investment of the petticoat--Mohegan
_1827. January 10th_.--Mineralogy became a popular study in the United
States, I believe, about 1817 or thereabouts, when Professor Cleveland
published the first edition of his _Elements of Mineralogy_, and
Silliman began his _Journal of Science_. It is true Bruce had published
his _Mineralogical Journal_ in 1814, but the science can, by no means,
be said to have attracted much, or general attention for several years.
It was not till 1819 that Cleveland's work first came into my hands. The
professor writes me under this date, that he is about preparing a new
edition of the work, and he solicits the communication of new
localities. This work has been about ten years before the public. It was
the first work on that subject produced on this side of the Atlantic,
and has acquired great popularity as a text-book to classes and
amateurs. It adopts a classification on chemical principles; but
recognizes the Wernerian system of erecting species by external
characters; and also Hany's system of crystallography, so far as it
extends, as being coincident, in the respective proofs which these
systems afford to the chemical mode of pure analysis. As such it
commends itself to the common sense of observers.
_20th_. Territorial affairs now began more particularly to attract my
attention. Robert Irwin, Jr., Esq., M.C. of Detroit, writes on
territorial affairs, growing out of the organization of a new county, on
the St. Mary's, and in the basin of Lake Superior. I had furnished him
the choice of three names, Allegan, Algonac, and Chippewa.
Major R.A. Forsyth, M.C., says (Jan. 22d), "the new county bill passed
on the last of December (1826). It is contemplated to tender to you the
appointment of first judge of the new county. We have selected the name
Mr. C.C. Trowbridge writes (25th) that "it is proposed in Congress to
lay off a new territory, embracing all Michigan west of the lake. This
territory, at first proposed to be called Huron, was eventually named
_25th_. Mr. Cass has examined, in an able article in the _North American
Review_, the policy of the American government in its treatment of the
Indians, in contrast with that of Great Britain. In this article, the
charges of the _London Quarterly_ are controverted, and a full
vindication made of our policy and treatment of these tribes, which must
be gratifying to every lover of our institutions, and our public sense
of justice. As between government and government, this paper is a
powerful and triumphant one. As a legal question it is not less so. The
question of political sovereignty is clear. Did our English Elizabeths,
James', and Charles', ever doubt their full right of sovereignty? The
public sense of justice and benevolence, the Republic, if not the parent
monarchy, fully recognized, by tracing to these tribes the fee of the
soil, and by punctually paying its value, as established by public
treaties, at all times.
_26th_. Mr. T.G. Anderson, of Drummond Island, transmits a translation
of the Lord's Prayer, in Odjibwa, which he requests to be examined.
_Feb. 5th_. No State seems comparable, for its enterprise and rapid
improvements, to New York. Mr. E.B. Allen, who recently removed from
this remote village to Ogdensburgh, New York, expresses his agreeable
surprise, after seven years' absence in the West, at the vast
improvements that have been made in that State. "There is a spirit of
enterprise and energy, that is deeply interesting to men of business and
also men of science."
_March 1st_. Dr. Martyn Paine, of New York, proposes a system of
philosophic exchanges. The large and fine collection of mineralogical
and geological specimens which I brought from Missouri and other parts
of the Mississippi valley in 1819, appears to have had an effect on the
prevalent taste for these subjects, and at least, it has fixed the eyes
of naturalists on my position on the frontiers. Cabinets of minerals
have been in vogue for about nine or ten years. Mr. Maclure, of
Philadelphia, Colonel Gibbs, of New Haven, and Drs. De Witt, Bruce and
Mitchill, of New York, and above Profs. Silliman and Cleveland, may be
said to have originated the taste. Before their day, minerals were
regarded as mere "stones." Now, it is rare to find a college or academy
without, at least, the nucleus of a cabinet. By transferring my
collection here, I have increased very much my own means of intellectual
enjoyment and resistance to the power of solitariness, if it has not
been the means of promoting discovery in others.
* * * * *
_4th. Fatalism_,--An Indian, called Wabishkipenace, _The White Bird_,
brings an express mail from the sub-agency of La Pointe, in Lake
Superior. This proved to be the individual who, in 1820, acted as one of
the guides of the exploring expedition to the Copper Rock, on the
Ontonagon River. Trifles light as air arouse an Indian's suspicions, and
the circumstance of his being thus employed by the government agents,
was made use of by his fellows to his prejudice. They told him that this
act was displeasing to the Great Spirit, who had visited him with his
displeasure. Whatever influence this idea had on others, on
Wabishkipenace it seemed to tell. He looked the image of despair. He
wore his hair long, and was nearly naked. He had a countenance of the
most melancholy cast. Poverty itself could not be poorer. Now, he
appears to have taken courage, and is willing once more to enter into
the conflicts of life. But, alas! what are these conflicts with an
Indian? A mere struggle for meat and bread enough to live.
_13th_. This is a day long to be remembered in my domestic annals, as it
carried to the tomb the gem of a once happy circle, the cherished
darling of it, in the person of a beloved, beautiful, intellectually
promising, and only son. William Henry had not yet quite completed his
third year, and yet such had been the impression created by his manly
precocity, his decision of character, perpetual liveliness of temper and
manners, and sweet and classic lineaments, and attachable traits, that
he appeared to have lived a long time. The word _time_ is, indeed, a
relative term, and ever means much or little, as much or little has been
enjoyed or suffered. Our enjoyment of him, and communion with him, was
intimate. From the earliest day of his existence, his intelligence and
quick expressive eye was remarkable, and all his waking hours were full
of pleasing innocent action and affectionate appreciation.
We took him to the city of New York during the winter of 1824-25, where
he made many friends and had many admirers. He was always remembered by
the youthful name of Willy and _Penaci_, or the bird--a term that was
playfully bestowed by the Chippewas while he was still in his cradle. He
was, indeed, a bird in our circle, for the agility of his motions, the
liveliness of his voice, and the diamond sparkle of his full hazel eyes,
reminded one of nothing so much. The month of March was more than
usually changeable in its temperature, with disagreeable rains and much
humidity, which nearly carried away the heavy amount of snow on the
ground. A cold and croup rapidly developed themselves, and no efforts of
skill or kindness had power to arrest its fatal progress. He sank under
it about eleven o'clock at night. Such was the rapidity of this fatal
disease, that his silver playful voice still seemed to ring through the
house when he lay a placid corpse. Several poetic tributes to his memory
were made, but none more touching than some lines from his own mother,
which are fit to be preserved as a specimen of native composition.
Who was it nestled on my breast,
And on my cheek sweet kisses prest,
And in whose smile I felt so blest?
Who hail'd my form as home I stept,
And in my arms so eager leapt,
And to my bosom joyous crept?
Who was it wiped my tearful eye,
And kiss'd away the coming sigh,
And smiling, bid me say, "good boy?"
Who was it, looked divinely fair,
Whilst lisping sweet the evening pray'r,
Guileless and free from earthly care?
Where is that voice attuned to love,
That bid me say "my darling dove?"
But, oh! that soul has flown above,
Whither has fled the rose's hue?
The lily's whiteness blending grew
Upon thy cheek--so fair to view,
Oft have I gaz'd with rapt delight,
Upon those eyes that sparkled bright,
Emitting beams of joy and light!
Oft have I kiss'd that forehead high,
Like polished marble to the eye,
And blessing, breathed an anxious sigh,
My son! thy coral lips are pale--
Can I believe the heart-sick tale,
That I thy loss must ever wail?
The clouds in darkness seemed to low'r,
The storm has past with awful pow'r,
And nipt my tender, beauteous flow'r!
But soon my spirit will be free,
And I my lovely son shall see,
For God, I know did this decree!
_17th_. This being St. Patrick's day, we dined with our excellent,
warm-hearted, and truly sympathizing friend, Mr. Johnston, in a private
way. He is the soul of hospitality, honor, friendship, and love, and no
one can be in his company an hour without loving and admiring a man who
gave up everything at home to raise up a family of most interesting
children in the heart of the American wilderness. No man's motives have
been more mistaken, no one has been more wronged, in public and private,
by opposing traders and misjudging governments, than he, and no one I
have ever known has a more forgiving and truly gentle and
_28th_. I began housekeeping, first on my return from the visit to New
York, in the spring of 1825, in the so-called Allen House, on the
eminence west of the fort, having purchased my furniture at Buffalo, and
made it a pretty and attractive residence. But after the death of my
son, the place became insupportable from the vivid associations which it
presented with the scenes of his daily amusements.
I determined this day to close the house, and, leaving the furniture
standing, we took refuge at Mr. Johnston's. Idolatry such as ours for a
child, was fit to be rebuked, and the severity of the blow led me to
take a retrospect of life, such as it is too common to defer, but,
doubtless, wise to entertain. Why Providence should have a controversy
with us for placing our affections too deeply on a sublunary object, is
less easy at all times to reconcile to our limited perceptions than it
is to recognize in holy writ the existence of the great moral fact. "I
will be honored," says Jehovah, "and my glory will I not give to
another." It is clear that there is a mental assent in our attachments,
in which the very principle of idolatry is involved. If so, why not give
up the point, and submit to the dispensations of an inevitable and
far-seeing moral government, of affairs of every sort, with entire
resignation and oneness of purpose? How often has death drawn his dart
fatally since Adam fell before it, and how few of the millions on
millions that have followed him have precisely known _why_, or been
_entirely prepared_ for the blow! To me it seems that it has been the
temper of my mind to fasten itself too strongly on life and all its
objects; to hope too deeply and fully under all circumstances; to
grapple, as it were, in its issues with as "hooks of steel," and never
to give up, never to despair; and this blow, this bereavement, appears
to me the first link that is broken to loosen my hold on this sublunary
trust. My thoughts, three years ago, were turned strongly, and with a
mysterious power, to this point, namely, my excessive ardor of earthly
pursuits, of men's approbation. Here, then, if these reflections be
rightly taken, is the _second_ admonition. Such, at least, has been the
current of my thoughts since the 13th of the present month, and they
were deeply felt when I took my Bible, the first I ever owned or had
bought with my own money, and requested that it might be placed as the
basis of the little pillow that supported the head of the lifeless child
in his coffin.
_April 30th_. A progress in territorial affairs, in the upper lakes,
seems to have commenced; but it is slow. Emigrants are carried further
south and west. Slow as it is, however, we flatter ourselves it is of a
good and healthy character. The lower peninsula is filling up. My
letters, during this spring, denote this. Our county organization is
complete. Colonel McKenney, on the 10th, apprises me that he is coming
north, to complete the settlement of the Indian boundary, began in 1825,
at Prairie du Chien, and that his sketches of his tour of last year is
just issued from the press. He adds, "It is rather a ladies' book. I
prefer the sex and their opinions. They are worth ten times as much as
we, in all that is enlightened, and amiable, and blissful." Undoubtedly
so! This is gallant. I conclude it is a gossiping tour; and, if so, it
will please the sex for whom it is mainly intended. But will not the
graver male sex look for more? Ought not an author to put himself out a
little to make his work as high, in all departments, as he can?
Governor C. informs me (April 10th) that he will proceed to Green Bay,
to attend the contemplated treaty on the Fox River, and that I am
expected to be there with a delegation of the Chippewas from the
midlands, on the sources of the Ontonagon, Wisconsin, Chippewa, and
Business and science, politics and literature, curiously mingle, as
usual, in my correspondence. Mr. M. Dousman (April 10) writes that a
knave has worried him, dogged his heels away from home, and sued him, at
unawares. Mr. Stuart (April 15) writes about the election of members of
council. Dr. Paine, of New York, writes respecting minerals.
_May 10th_. An eminent citizen of Detroit thus alludes to my recent
bereavement: "We sympathize with you most sincerely, in the loss you
have sustained. We can do it with the deeper interest, for we have
preceded you in this heaviest of all calamities. Time will soothe you
something, but the solace of even time will yet leave too much for the
memory and affections to brood over."
Another correspondent, in expressing his sympathies on the occasion
says: "The lines composed by Mrs. Schoolcraft struck me with such
peculiar force, as well in regard to the pathos of style, as the
singular felicity of expression, that I have taken the liberty to submit
them for perusal to one or two mutual friends. The G---- has advised me
to publish them."
_14th_. National boundary, as established by the treaty of Ghent. Major
Delafield, the agent, writes: "Our contemplated expedition, however, is
relinquished, by reason of instructions from the British government to
their commissioners. It had been agreed to determine the par. of lat. N.
49 deg., where it intersects the Lake of the Woods and the Red River. But
the British government, for reasons unknown to us, now decline any
further boundary operations than those provided for under the
"We have been prevented closing the 7th article of that treaty, on
account of some extraordinary claims of the British party. They claim
Sugar, or St. George's Island, and inland, by the St. Louis, or Fond du
Lac. Both claims are unsupported by either reason, evidence, or anything
but their desire to gain something. We, of course, claim Sugar Island,
and will not relinquish it under any circumstances. We also claim inland
by the Kamanistiquia, and have sustained this claim by much evidence.
The Pigeon River by the Grand Portage will be the boundary, if our
commissioners can come to any reasonable decision. If not, I have no
doubt, upon a reference, we shall gain the Kamanistiquia, if properly
managed; the whole of the evidence being in favor of it."
ORNITHOLOGY.--An Indian boy brought me lately, the stuffed skin of a new
species of bird, which appeared early in the spring at one of the sugar
camps near St. Mary's. "We are desirous," he adds, "to see the
Fringilla, about which you wrote me some time ago."
NATIVE COPPER.--"The copper mass is safe, and the object of admiration
in my collection. Baron Lederer is shortly expected from Austria, when
he will, no doubt, make some proposition concerning it, which I will
_29th_. Many letters have been received since the 13th of March,
offering condolence in our bitter loss; but none of them, from a more
sincere, or more welcome source, than one of this date from the Conants,
of New York.
_June 3d_. Mr. Carter (N.H.) observes, in a letter of this date: "If
there be any real pleasure arising from the acquisition of reputation,
it consists chiefly in the satisfaction of proving ourselves worthy of
the confidence reposed in our talents and characters, and in the
strengthening of those ties of friendship which we are anxious to
_8th_. Mr. Robert Stuart says, in relation to our recent affliction:
"Once parents, we must make up our minds to submit to such grievous
dispensations, for, although hard, it may be for the best."
I embarked for Green Bay, to attend the treaty of _Butte des Morts_
early in June, taking Mrs. S. on a visit to Green Bay, as a means of
diverting her mind from the scene of our recent calamity. At Mackinac,
we met the steamboat Henry Clay, chartered to take the commissioners to
the bay, with Governor Cass, Colonel McKenney, and General Scott on
board, with a large company of visitors, travelers and strangers, among
them, many ladies. We joined the group, and had a pleasant passage till
getting into the bay, where an obstinate head wind tossed us up and down
like a cork on the sea. Sea-sickness, in a crowded boat, and the
retching of the waves, soon turned everything and every one topsy-turvy;
every being, in fine, bearing a stomach which had not been seasoned to
such tossings among anchors and halyards, was prostrate. At last the
steamer itself, as we came nearer the head of the bay, was pitched out
of the right channel and driven a-muck. She stuck fast on the mud, and
we were all glad to escape and go up to the town of Navarino in boats.
After spending some days here in an agreeable manner, most of the party,
indeed nearly all who were not connected with the commission, returned
in the boat, Mrs. S. in the number, and the commissioners soon proceeded
up the Fox River to _Butte des Morts_. Here temporary buildings of logs,
a mess house, etc., were constructed, and a very large number of Indians
were collected. We found the Menomonies assembled in mass, with full
delegations of the midland Chippewas, and the removed bands of Iroquois
and Stockbridges, some Pottowattomies from the west shores of Lake
Michigan, and one hand of the Winnebagoes. Circumstances had prepared
this latter tribe for hostilities against the United States. The replies
of the leading chief, Four-Legs, were evasive and contradictory; in the
meantime, reports from the Wisconsin and the Mississippi rivers denoted
this tribe ripe for a blow. They had fired into a boat descending the
Mississippi, at Prairie du Chien, and committed other outrages. General
Cass was not slow to perceive or provide the only remedy for this state
of things, and, leaving the camp under the charge of Colonel McKenney
and the agents, he took a strongly manned light canoe, and passed over
to the Mississippi, and, pushing night and day, reached St. Louis, and
ordered up troops from Jefferson Barracks, for the protection of the
settlement. In this trip, he passed through the centre of the tribe, and
incurred some extraordinary risks. He then returned up the Illinois, and
through Lake Michigan, and reached the _Butte des Morts_ in an
incredibly short space of time. Within a few days, the Mississippi
settlements were covered; the Winnebagoes were overawed, and the
business of the treaty was resumed, and successfully concluded on the
11th of August.
During the long assemblage of the Indians on these grounds, I was
sitting one afternoon, in the Governor's log shanty, with the doors
open, when a sharp cry of murder suddenly fell on our ears. I sprang
impulsively to the spot, with Major Forsyth, who was present. Within
fifty yards, directly in front of the house, stood two Indians, who
were, apparently, the murderers, and a middle aged female, near them,
bleeding profusely. I seized one of them by his long black hair, and,
giving him a sudden wrench, brought him to his back in an instant, and,
placing my knees firmly on his breast, held him there, my hand clenched
in his hair. The Major had done something similar with the other fellow.
Inquiry proved one of these men to be the perpetrator of the deed. He
had drawn his knife to stab his mother-in-law, she quickly placed her
arms over her breast and chest and received the wounds, two strokes, in
them, and thus saved her life. It was determined, as her life was saved,
though the wounds were ghastly, to degrade the man in a public
assemblage of all the Indians, the next day, by _investing him with a
petticoat_, for so unmanly an act. The thing was, accordingly, done with
great ceremony. The man then sneaked away in this imposed _matchcota_,
in a stolid manner, slowly, all the Indians looking stedfastly, but
uttering no sound approvingly or disapprovingly.
I embraced the opportunity of the delay created by the Winnebago
outbreak, and the presence of the Stockbridges on the treaty ground, to
obtain from them some outlines of their history and language. Every day,
the chiefs and old men came to my quarters, and spent some time with me.
Metoxon gave me the words for a vocabulary of the language, and,
together with Quinney, entered so far into its principles, and furnished
such examples, as led me, at once, to perceive that it was of the
Algonquin type, near akin, indeed, to the Chippewa, and the conclusion
followed, that all the New England dialects, which were cognate with
this, were of the same type. The history of this people clears up, with
such disclosures, and the fact shows us how little we can know of their
history without the languages.
Treaty of Butte des Morts--Rencontre of an Indian with grizzly
bears--Agency site at Elmwood--Its picturesque and sylvan
character--Legislative council of the Territory--Character of its
parties, as hang-back and toe-the-marks--Critical Reviews--Christmas.
_1827. August 11th_.--The treaty of Butte des Morts was signed this day.
It completes the system of Indian boundaries, which was commenced by the
treaty of Prairie du Chien, on the 19th of August, 1825, and continued
by the treaty of Fond du Lac of the 5th of August, 1826. These three
conferences, which may, from their having been concluded in the month of
August of the respective years, be called the _Augustic_ treaties,
embody a new course and policy for keeping the tribes in peace, and are
founded on the most enlarged consideration of the aboriginal right of
fee simple to the soil. They have been held exclusively at the charges
and expenses of the United States, and contain no cession of territory.
As soon as it was signed I embarked for Green Bay, on a gloomy,
drizzling day, and pursued my way to Michilimackinac and the Sault,
without a moment's loss of time. I found the place still active, and
filled with the summer visiting parties of Indians from the Lake
Superior, the Upper Mississippi, and even from Pembina and the plains of
Red River of the North.
Among the latter I observed a small and lithe Indian called Annamikens,
or Little Thunder, also called Joseph, whose face had been terribly
lacerated in a contest on the plains west of Pembina, with grizzly
bears. The wounds were now closed, but the disfiguration was permanent.
He told me the following story of the affair:--
The Sioux, Chippewas, Assinaboines, Crees, and Mandans, called by him in
general Miggaudiwag, which means fighters, were at variance. About 400
half-breeds and 100 Chippewas went out from Pembina to make peace, and
hunt the buffalo.
On the fourth day's march they reached the open plains, and met a large
body of Assinaboines and Crees encamped. Their camp was fixed on
eligible ground, and the lodges extended across the plain. Annamikens
and his followers encamped with them. After they had encamped, they
observed every hour during the night that fresh arrivals of Assinaboines
and Crees took place. On the third day of their encampment he was sent
for to Cuthbert Grant's tent, where he found a large circle of Indians
formed, and all things in readiness for a council of the three nations,
Assinaboines, Chippewas, and Crees. Grant was the trader of the Pembina
metifs, and had followed them out. In the centre of the ring, buffalo
robes were spread, and he with others was given a seat there. The object
of this council was to decide upon a plan to attack a body of 200 Sioux
lodges, which had been discovered at half a day's ride on horseback
distant. The principal chiefs, &c., were agreed as to the propriety of
an attack. He was asked to unite with them. He said he felt not only for
the chiefs and young men, but also for the women and children, hereby
expressing his dissent. Two of the principal chiefs stood up, each
holding a pipe. He was then asked to take one of the pipes and hand it
to the bravest man, giving him the power to elect the war chief. He gave
it to one he knew to be brave.
This chief had no sooner received it than he presented it to Francis,
his brother, to hand it round, thereby hoping that he would not refuse
to smoke the war-pipe when handed by his brother. He took the pipe in
both hands and smoked, then handed it to his brother, who also smoked
it, and handed it to a chief who stood next to him, and it went round.
He said, however, after smoking, "I do not consent to go to war, I am
against it." After some talk the council broke up, it beginning to be
late. At night he heard that some movement was on foot. He went to the
quarter of the camp indicated, and used his influence against the plan.
He had scarcely reached his tent when other reports of a like nature
were brought from various parts of the camp, and he was most of the
night busied in controverting the war spirit.
In the morning he made a descent through the camp, speaking openly
against the meditated attack on the Sioux, and concluded by saying that
for himself and the metifs, he had one thing to say, that they wished to
preserve peace with all, and they should join and fight for the nation
first attacked, and against whoever might raise a war-club. About 100
Crees, however, were determined to go, and in about four hours the whole
camp was broken up and dispersed. He broke up his camp rather in anger,
mounted his horse, put his family in the cart, and set out for home.
Many followed him. Francis, not seeing his brother go, also set out, and
many followed him, a greater number in fact than had followed Joseph. At
night the hunters from each party met, and they found the two parties
had traveled the same distance. On hearing this Francis sent a despatch
in the morning to his brother, but they found he had departed, and, the
country being a grassy plain, they could not exactly tell their course.
Meantime Joseph and his party had reached a point of woods, being the
first woods seen since leaving Pembina, at about nine o'clock in the
morning. Here they encamped at this early hour. He caught two wild
geese, and told his wife to cook them. His followers all dispersed to
hunt buffalo, as they were plenty about. He then put a new flint in his
gun, and stripped himself all but his breech-cloth, and went out to
explore the route he should pass on the next day.
He came into a ravine, and discovered three white bears' lairs fresh,
saw several carcasses of buffaloes lying round, more or less eaten and
decayed, and smelt quite a stench from them. One particularly was fresh
killed, and partly eaten by the bears. He passed on across a brook, and
after looking farther returned to the lairs. On returning to the brook
he found several sticks in the way of his passage for the carts on the
following day, which he commenced removing, having set his gun against a
tree. One stick being larger than the rest, some exertion was necessary
to displace it, and while in the act of doing this he heard a noise of
some animal, and saw at a distance what he took to be a buffalo, as
these animals were plenty, and running in all directions. He then took
up his gun and went on, when the sounds were repeated close behind him,
and looking over his shoulder he saw three white bears in full
pursuit of him.
He turned, cocked his gun, and took deliberate aim at the head of the
foremost, which proved to be the dam, and his gun missed fire. He
re-cocked his piece and again snapped. At this moment the bear was so
near that the muzzle nearly touched it. He knows not exactly how the
bear struck him, but at the next moment his gun flew in one direction
and he was cast about ten feet in another. He lit on his feet. The bear
then raised on her paws and took his head in her mouth, closing her
jaws, not with force, but just sufficient to make the tusks enter the
top of his shoulders. He at this moment, with the impulse of fear, put
up his hands and seized the bear by her head, and, making a violent
exertion, threw her from her balance to one side; in the act of falling
she let go his head.
At this time one of the cubs struck his right leg, being covered with
_metasses_ of their leather, and drew him down upon the ground, and he
fell upon his right side, partly on his right arm. The right arm, which
was extended in falling, was now drawn under his body by another blow
from one of the cubs, and his hand was by this motion brought into
contact with the handle of his knife (a large _couteau_ used for cutting
up buffalo-meat), and this bringing the knife to his recollection, he
drew it, and struck a back-handed blow into the right side of the dam,
whom he still held by the hair with his left. The knife went in to the
hilt. On withdrawing it, one of the cubs struck his right hand, her
nails piercing right through it in several places. He then let go of the
dam and took the knife in his left hand, and made a pass at the cub, and
struck it about half its length, the knife going into it, it being very
bloody. The stroke was impeded, and the knife partly slipped. The left
arm was then struck by one of the cubs, and the knife dropped from his
grasp. He was now left with his naked hand to make such resistance as he
could. The dam now struck him upon the abdomen with a force that
deprived him for awhile of breath, and tore it open, so that when he
rose his bowels fell upon his knees. He at first supposed that it was
his powder-horn that had fallen upon his knees, but looking down, saw
his entrails. The dam then repeated her blow, striking him upon the left
cheek, the forenail entering just below the left eye, and tore out the
cheek-bone, a part of the jaw, including three teeth, maimed his tongue,
and tore down the flesh so that it hung upon his left shoulder.
He now fell back exhausted with the loss of blood, and being conquered,
the bears ceased to molest him. But consciousness was not gone; he heard
them walk off. He lay some time. He opened and shut his hands, and found
he had not lost the use of them. He moved his neck, and found it had its
natural motion. He then raised himself up into a sitting posture, and
gathering up some grass, put it first to his left eye and cheek to wipe
off the blood, but found that it struck the bone. He then passed it to
his right cheek, wiped down the blood, and opening his eye, found he
could see clearly. He saw his gun, powder-horn, and knife scattered
about. He then got up, having bound his wounds.
He had at this time no clothing upon his body but the moccasin upon his
left foot. He took his gun, re-primed it, and while in the act of
priming, heard the peculiar noise this animal utters, and turning, saw
the old bear close upon him. He put the muzzle into her mouth, and again
missed fire. All hope now was lost, and all idea of resistance. They
pawed and tore him at will, he knows not how long. At one time they
seized him by the neck and dragged him some distance. They then once
more left him.
After they left him, he lay some time. He then bethought himself that
possibly he might still be able to rise and return to his camp, which
was not distant. After some exertion and preparation, he got up, and
again took his gun and powder-horn and knife. He picked the flint,
addressing his gun, saying, "that the bears could not kill it, and that
he hoped the gun would have more courage," &c., and putting it on his
shoulder, commenced his way to his camp.
He had not proceeded far when the snorting of the old dam before him
reminded him of his danger. He found his limbs stiff and swollen, and
that he could not bring up the gun to his shoulder to take aim. He held
it before him, and when the dam, still in front, advanced near him,
fired at her head, and the ball entered just behind the shoulder. She
fell dead. He saw the smoke issue from the wound.
One of the yearlings now rose on his hind paws and growled. He raised
his knife (which was in his left hand, upon which the gun rested on
firing), and made a pass at the bear, which the latter avoided by
throwing himself to one side. The third bear now rose up before him, but
at a greater distance than the second, and he made a pass at him, but
found him out of reach. Yet the bear threw himself to one side, as the
former had done.
Having them now on the run, he followed a short distance, but soon felt
very faint. A darkness seemed before his eyes, and he sank down. In this
act the blood gushed from his body. This appeared to relieve him. After
sitting some time, he rose and proceeded homeward. He saw no more of the
two yearling bears. Before reaching the lodge, he was met by a party who
had been seeking him. As he walked along, he felt something striking the
calf of his right leg, and found it to be a piece of flesh from his
thigh behind. There were six open holes in his body through which air
escaped, one in each side, one in his breast, abdomen, and stomach,
besides the torn cheek. He found, on reaching home, he could not speak,
but, after being bandaged, his utterance revived. On the next day the
physician from the forks of Red River arrived and attended him.
_20th_. Annamikens resumed his narrative:--
"On the next day, I have said, the doctor arrived, but not having
medicine sufficient to dress all my wounds, he put what he had on the
principal wounds. On the same day my brother and the party who had
separated on the council-ground also arrived. They remained that and the
next day, and on the third day all moved for Pembina. To carry me they
constructed a litter, carried by four persons; but I found the motion
too great to endure. They then formed a bier by fastening two poles to a
horse's sides, and placing such fixtures upon them, behind the horse, as
to permit my being carried. I found this motion easier to endure. The
Chippewas accompanied me, and were resolved, if I died, to go
immediately to war against the Sioux. My condition was, at this moment,
such that they hourly expected my death. I was prepared for it, and
directed that I should be buried at the spot where I might die. On the
third day we reached Pembina. For nine days I resisted food, feigning
that I could not eat, but wishing to starve myself, as I was so
disfigured and injured that I had no wish to survive, and would have
been ashamed to show myself in such a state. On the ninth day my hunger
was so great that I called for a piece of fish, and swallowed it; in
about two hours after I called for another piece of fish, and also ate
it. Six days after my arrival, Mr. Plavier, and another priest from Red
River, arrived to baptize me. I resisted, saying that if there was no
hope of living I would consent, but not otherwise. After fifteen days, I
was so much recovered that the priest returned, as I had every
appearance of recovery. I would neither permit white nor Indian doctors
to attend me after my arrival; but had myself regularly washed in cold
water, my wounds kept clean, and the bandages properly attended to. In
about one month from the time I could walk; but it was two years before
the wounds were closed."
I requested Dr. Z. Pitcher, the Post surgeon, to examine Annamikens,
with a view to test the narrative, and to determine on the capacity of
the human frame to survive such wounds. He found portions of the
cheek-bones gone, and cicatrices of fearful extent upon that and other
parts of the body, which gave the narrative the appearance of
On returning from Green Bay, I gave my attention, with renewed interest,
to the means of expediting the completion of the Agency buildings, and
occupying the lot and grounds. I have alluded to the success of my
reference of this subject to the Secretary of War, in 1825. A site was
selected on a handsomely elevated bank of the river, covered with elms,
about half a mile east of the fort, where the foundation of a spacious
building and office were laid in the autumn of 1826, and the frame
raised as early in the ensuing spring as the snow left the ground.
Few sites command a more varied or magnificient view. The broad and
limpid St. Mary, nearly a mile wide, runs in front of the grounds. The
Falls, whose murmuring sound falls pleasantly on the ear, are in plain
view. The wide vista of waters is perpetually filled by canoes and boats
passing across to the opposite settlement on the British shore. The
picturesque Indian costume gives an oriental cast to the moving
panorama. The azure mountains of Lake Superior rise in the distance.
Sailing vessels and steamboats from Detroit, Cleaveland, and Buffalo,
occasionally glide by, and to this wide and magnificent view, as seen by
daylight, by sunset, and by moonlight, the frequent displays of aurora
borealis give an attraction of no ordinary force.
In selecting this spot, I had left standing a large part of the fine
elms, maples, mountain ash, and other native forest trees, and the
building was, in fact, embowered by tall clumps of the richest foliage.
I indulged an early taste in horticulture, and planting trees to add to
the natural attractions of the spot, which, from the chief trees upon
it, was named "Elmwood," and every flowering plant and fruit that would
thrive in the climate, was tried. Part of the grounds were laid down in
grass. Portions of them on the water's edge that were low and quaggy,
were sowed with the redtop, which will thrive in very moist soil, and
gives it firmness. The building was ample, containing fifteen rooms,
including the office, and was executed, in all respects, in the best
In addition to these arrangements for insuring domestic comfort and
official respect, my agency abroad among the tribes was now well
established, to the utmost sources of the Mississippi. The name and
power of "Chimoqemon" (American) among the northern tribes, was no
longer a term of derision, or uncertainty of character. The military
post established at these ancient falls, where the power of France was
first revealed as early as 1652; the numerous journeys I had made into
the interior, often in company with the highest civil and military
functionaries; the presents annually issued; the firm basis of a
commissariat for all visiting and indigent Indians; the mechanics
employed for their benefit; the control exercised over the fur traders,
and the general effects of American opinions and manners; had placed the
agency in the very highest point of view. It was a frontier agency, in
immediate juxtaposition with Canada and Hudson's Bay, fifteen hundred
miles of whose boundary closed upon them, separated only by the chain of
lakes and rivers. Questions of national policy frequently came up, and
tended much to augment the interest, which grew out of the national
I had now attained that position of repose and quiet which were so
congenial to my mind. The influence I exercised; the respect I enjoyed,
both as an officer and as a scientific and literary man: every
circumstance, in fact, that can add to the enjoyment of a man of
moderate desires, seeking to run no political race, was calculated to
insure my happiness. And I was happy. No part of my life had so
completely all the elements of entire contentment, as my residence at
the wild and picturesque homestead of Elmwood. I removed my family to
this spot in October, having now a little daughter to enlarge my family
circle, and take away, in a measure, the solitariness effected by the
loss of my son, William Henry.
I resumed my Indian researches with twofold interest. The public duties
of an agent for Indian affairs, if an industrious man, leave him a good
deal of leisure on his hands, and, in a position so remote as this, if a
man have no inclination for studies or belles lettres, he must often be
puzzled to employ his leisure. I amused myself by passing from one
literary study to another, and this is ever refreshing to the mind,
which tires of one thing. Thus, such amusements as the _Appeal of
Pontiac, Rise of the West_, and the _Man of Bronze_, found place among
graver matters. In this manner, a man without literary society may amuse
and instruct himself.
_Nov. 1st_. I have been elected a member of the Legislative Council of
the territory--an office not solicited, and which is not declined. Party
spirit has not yet reached and distracted this territory. So far as I
know, political divisions of a general character, have not entered into
society. The chief magistrate is an eminently conservative man, and by
his moderation of tone and suavity of manners, has been instrumental in
keeping political society in a state of tranquillity. All our parties
have been founded on personal preference. If there has been any more
general principles developed in the legislature, it has been a _promptly
debt paying_, and a _not promptly debt paying party_--a _non divorce_,
and a _divorce party_. I have been ever of the former class of thinkers;
and shall let my votes tell for the right and good old way--_i.e._ pay
your debts and keep your wife.
_Dec. 22d_. My study of the Indian language and history has not only
enlarged my own sources of intellectual gratification, but it has,
without my seeking it, procured me a number of highly intellectual
philosophic correspondents, whose letters operate as an aliment to
further exertion. My natural assiduity is thus continually stimulated,
and I find myself begrudging a single hour, spent in gossiping hum-drum
society--for even _here_ there is society, or an apology for society.
The editor of the _North American Review_, inviting me to write for its
pages, says (Sept. 1st): "Your knowledge and experience will enable you
to say much concerning the western country, and its aboriginal
inhabitants, which will be interesting to the community of readers. You
cannot be too full in your facts and reflections on Indians and Indian
Judge H. Chipman, of Detroit, says (Oct. 21st): "If it were just cause
of offence, that men should estimate differently the merits of opposing
candidates, popular elections would be the greatest curse that could be
inflicted upon a people."
Mr. Everett (Hon. E.) says: "I beg leave to unite with Mr. Sparks in
expressing the hope that you will become a contributor to its pages
(_North American Review_), as often as your leisure, the seasonableness
of topics, and the appearance of works to be noticed, may admit."
_24th_. This day brought one of Mr. Johnston's warm-hearted notes, to
take a Christmas dinner with him to-morrow. "I anticipate," he says,
"great pleasure in seeing many dear relatives about me, on one of the
greatest festivals the world has ever witnessed."
It was the last festival of that kind he ever enjoyed, though nothing
could be further from our imaginations then; for before its recurrence
in 1828, we were called to follow his body to the grave.
Retrospect--United States Exploring Expedition to the South
Sea--Humanity of an Indian--Trip to Detroit from the Icy
Straits--Incidental action of the Massachusetts and Rhode Island
Historical Societies, and of the Montreal Natural History
Society--United States Exploring Expedition--Climatology--Lake vessels
ill found--Poetic view of the Indian--United States Exploring
Expedition--Theory of the interior world--Natural History--United States
Exploring Expedition.--History of early legislation in Michigan--Return
to St. Mary's--Death of Governor De Witt Clinton.
_1828. January 1st_.--During ten years, omitting 1823, I had now
performed, each year, a journey or expedition of more or less peril and
adventure in the great American wilderness, west of the Alleghanies. I
had now attained a point, ardently sought, for many years, where I was
likely to be permitted to sit down quietly at home, and leave traveling
to others. I had, in fact, just removed into a quiet home, a retired,
convenient, tasteful, and even elegant seat, which filled every wish of
retired intellectual enjoyment, where I was encompassed by books,
studies, cabinets, and domestic affections. At this moment, when there
appeared nothing in the prospect to call me to new fields of
observation, I was elected a member of the legislative council, which
opened a civic and quite different scene of duties. This step, I found,
pleased my friends. The executive of the territory writes from Detroit,
February 22d: "We have understood that you have been elected a member of
the legislative council, and there is a prevalent wish that this report
may prove true. I mention the subject now, to inform you that the
council will probably be convened about the beginning of May, in order
that you may make the necessary preparations for visiting this place at
_Feb. 5th_. An exploring expedition for discoveries in the South Sea,
has, for some time, been under consideration in the Senate of the United
States, to be organized in the navy, and to go out under the patronage
of the Secretary, Mr. Southard. Mr. G.N. Reynolds invites me to take a
position in the scientific corps, to accompany it, under an
A friend from Washington writes me (Feb. 6th), on the same topic;
"Whether matrimony has stripped you of your erratic notions and habits,
'and brought you within narrower limits,' or whether the geography of
the earth is no longer of interest to you, I cannot, of course, pretend
to say. But considering you, as I do, a devotee to science, I had
thought it possible that you might feel a desire to engage in her cause
to the South, by occupying some eminent station in the expedition."
The reasons which I have mentioned, at the opening of the year, have
inclined me to seek repose from further travel. Besides which, my
position as a married man, and the peculiar relations I have thereby
assumed, impress me, very deeply, with the opinion that my sphere of
duty, whatever may be my ambition, lies nearer at home than the proposed
and very attractive field of discovery. I therefore wrote declining
_April 7th_, A DOMESTIC CURTAIN LIFTED.--My sister Helen Margaret
writes, from New York: "This afternoon, as I was sitting by the fire,
having become the prey of ill health, a thought struck my mind to write
a few lines to you, not, however, to give you much news, but merely to
acquaint you that we are still in the land of the living, and that,
though our friends are far removed, we still live among them in
imagination. Yes, dear brother, believe me, my imagination has often
wandered, and passed hours with _you_--_hours_, during the silence of
the night, which should have been sacred to sleep.
"I have been out of health about five weeks; the complaint under which I
labor is chronic inflammation of the liver, but I have, under the pain
of sickness, forced my mind to forget its troubles. Most of my time,
last winter, has been spent with Debby; while at home, my time has been
devoted to reading, mapping, and the study of philosophy.
"Probably James has acquainted you of the illness of Margaret. She is
now very low, and is, to all human appearance, soon to leave this world
for a better, 'where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are
at rest.' Her sufferings are great; she has not been able to sit up,
more than nine minutes at one time, for two months. Her mind is calm.
She is ready and willing to leave this vain world, whenever it is the
will of God to take her.
"Mother's health is poor, and has been during all last winter; yet
notwithstanding her daily sufferings, in her harassed body, she
vigorously wrestles with ill luck. As it pains me to write, I must close
with a few words. I have frequently thought, should I be bereft of my
_mother_, what other friend, like her, would watch over the uneasy hours
of sickness? What other friend would bear its petulance, and smooth its
This proved to be her last earthly message to me. She died on the 12th
of April, 1829, aged twenty-three.
_18th_. I, this day, had an official visit from Magisaunikwa
(Wampum-hair), a Chippewa Indian, who, recently, rescued the Inspector
of Customs of the place, John Agnew, Esq., from drowning. This gentleman
was returning from Mackinac, on the ice, with a _train de glis_, drawn
by dogs. Having ascended the straits to the rapids of the South Nebishe
channel, he found the ice faulty and rotten, and, after some exertions
to avoid the bad places, fell in, with train and dogs. The struggle to
get out only involved him worse, and, overcome by fatigue and false
footings, he at length gave over the strife, and, but as a last resort,
uttered a yell.
It chanced that Magisaunikwa was encamped in the woods, at a distance,
and, with the ever ready ear of the aborigines, caught the sounds and
came to his relief. By this time he had relinquished the struggle, and
resigned himself to his fate. By arts known to a people who are familiar
with such dangers, he rescued him from the water, but in an insensible
state. He then put the body on a sled and drew it to his lodge, where he
disrobed it, and, placing it before the fire, succeeded in
I invested him with a silver medal for the act, and gave him a chief's
flag, with goods and cutlery, &c. to the value of above fifty dollars.
My attention was now turned to Detroit: "You are elected," says a
friend, "a member of the council. It is essential you should be here as
speedily as possible. Leave everything to Audrain, and come down. You
can return before the busy season."
_27th_. I left the Sault this day, for Detroit, to attend the
Legislative Council. Patches of snow still lined the banks of the St.
Mary's, and fields of ice were yet in Muddy Lake. It was not until
entering the St. Clair, and passing down beyond the chilling influences
of Lake Huron, that spring began to show striking evidences of her rapid
advances, and on reaching Detroit, the state of horticulture and fruit
trees betokened a quite different and benign climate. The difference in
latitude, in this journey, is full four degrees, carrying the voyager
from about 46-1/2 deg. to about 42-1/2 deg.. This fact, which it is difficult to
realize from the mere inspection of maps, and reading of books, it is
important at all times to bear in mind, in setting a just value on the
country and its agricultural advantages.
On reaching the city, and before the organization of the legislature, I
received a letter from the Hon. John Davis, President of the
Massachusetts Historical Society, suggesting the publication of my
researches on Indian language.
"Mr. Pickering concurs with me, that it is very desirable to have this
publication effected. Some tracts of this description have been
occasionally published in the collections of our society, and we have no
doubt that this course would be pursued with your work, if such should
be your wish, and no preferable mode of publication should occur."
_29th_.--I received from the Rhode Island Historical Society, a copy of
their publication of Roger Williams' Key to the Indian languages. This
tract was greatly needed by philologists. The language commented on is
clearly of the Algonquin stock. Dr. Edwards, in his "Observations on the
Mukhekanieu," demonstrates that the old Mohecan, as spoken on the
Housatonic, was also of this type.
He says, indeed, that the difference in all the New England languages
spoken by the nations were merely dialectic. What I have heard of
Eliot's Bible of the Natic, or Massachusetts language, favors the same
conclusion. All this shows that the ancestors of the present lake tribes
who speak these dialects, must have overspread all New England. History
is thus taught by language. The lake tribes have only this tradition
respecting the fact, that they came from the _East_.
_30th_.--Dr. A.F. Homes transmits me a diploma of membership of the
Montreal Natural History Society.
_May 14th_.--Mr. Reynolds recurs to the subject of the Ex. Expedition,
which he announced to me on the 5th of February. "It is probable," he
observes, "that an expedition to the South Sea will sail from the City
of New York in September next. I wish, and so do several members of the
national cabinet, that you would join it, and be the head of the
scientific corps. Your salary shall be almost anything you ask, and your
relation to the general government shall not be prejudiced by a
temporary absence. The expedition will be absent about eighteen months
or two years. Will you not feel some ambition in being connected with
the first American expedition of discovery?"
_20th_.--Death is ever busy, thinning the ranks of our friends and
relatives. Mr. Shearman, of N.Y., communicates the death of my niece,
Margaret Catharine (S.) at Vernon, New York. She was a young lady of
pleasing manners, and many fine personal and mental traits. She
conversed on her fate with perfect composure, and selected hymns to be
sung at her funeral.
I accomplished my passage to Detroit I think on the 21st of May, being
twenty-four days from St. Mary's, without counting the trip in that
season one of unusual length, and without any serious mishaps, which is,
perhaps, remarkable, as all our lake vessels are ill found, and I
attribute more of success to good luck, or rather Providence, than to
any amount of seamanlike precaution. It is, indeed, remarkable that a
hundred vessels are not every year lost on the upper lakes where one now
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