Personal Memoirs Of A Residence Of Thirty Years With The Indian Tribes On The American Frontiers
Henry Rowe Schoolcraft
Part 9 out of 15
shore, having been fifteen hours in our canoes. Found mint among the
high grass, where our tent poles were put. On the next morning we set
off at half-past four o'clock, and went until ten to breakfast. At a low
point of land of the shore, we had a view of a red fox, who scampered
away gayly. He had been probably gleaning among the shell-fish
At a subsequent point we met a boat laden with Indian goods, bound to
St. Peters, and manned by Canadians. The person in charge of it informed
us that it was Menomonies and not Foxes who had, to the number of
twenty-six, been recently murdered.
GENERAL IMPRESSION OF THE MISSISSIPPI.--The engrossing idea, in passing
down the Mississippi, is the power of its waters during the spring
flood. Trees carried from above are piled on the heads of islands, and
also lie, like vast stranded rocks, on its sand bars and lower shores.
Generally the butt ends and roots are elevated in the air, and remain
like gibbeted men by the roadside, to tell the traveler of the POWER
once exerted there.
We traveled till near ten o'clock (13th) in the morning, when we reached
and encamped at Prairie du Chien.
Death of Mr. Monroe--Affair of the massacre of the Menomonies by the
Foxes--Descent to Galena--Trip in the lead mine country to Fort
Winnebago--Gratiot's Grove--Sac and Fox disturbances--Black Hawk--Irish
Diggings--Willow Springs--Vanmater's lead--An escape from falling into a
pit--Mineral Point--Ansley's copper mine--Gen. Dodge's--Mr.
Brigham's--Sugar Creek--Four Lakes--Seven Mile Prairie--A night in the
woods--Reach Fort Winnebago--Return to the Sault--Political changes in
the cabinet--Gov. Cass called to Washington--Religious changes--G.B.
Porter appointed Governor--Natural history--Character of the new
governor--Arrival of the Rev. Jeremiah Porter--Organization of a church.
1831, _Aug. 14th_. One of the first things we heard, on reaching Prairie
du Chien, was the death of ex-President Monroe, which happened on the
4th of July, at the City of New York. The demise of three ex-Presidents
of the revolutionary era (Jefferson, Adams, and Monroe), on this
political jubilee of the republic, is certainly extraordinary, and
appears, so far as human judgment goes, to lend a providential sanction
to the bold act of confederated resistance to taxation and oppression,
made in 1776.
The affray between the Foxes and Menomonies turns out thus. The Foxes
had killed a young Menomonie hunter, near the mouth of the Wisconsin,
and cut off his head. The Menomonies had retaliated by killing Foxes.
The Foxes then made a war party against the Menomonies, and went up the
Mississippi in search of them. They did not find them, till their
return, when they discovered a Menomonie encampment on the upper part of
the Prairie. They instantly attacked them, and killed seven men, five
women, and thirteen children. The act was perfectly dastardly, for the
Menomonies were some domestic lodges of persons living, as
non-combatants, under the guns of the fort and the civil institutions of
the town. The Menomonies complained to me. I told them to go to their
Agent, and have a proper statement of the massacre drawn up by him, and
transmitted to Washington.
I called on the commanding officer, Captain Loomis, and accepted his
invitation to dine. He introduced me to Mr. Street, the Indian Agent. At
four o'clock in the evening, I embarked for Galena, and, after
descending the Mississippi as long as daylight lasted, encamped on a
sand bar. The next morning (15th), we were again in motion before 5
o'clock. We passed Cassville and Dubuque at successive points, and,
entering the river of Galena, reached the town about half-past eight
o'clock, in the evening, and encamped on the banks of the river.
On the following day (16th) I dispatched my canoe back to the Wisconsin
in charge of Mr. Johnston, accompanied by Dr. D. Houghton, and Mr.
Melancthon Woolsey, with directions to meet me at the portage. I then
hired a light wagon to visit the mine country, taking letters from
Captain Legate, U.S.A., and Mr. C. Hemstead. Mr. Bennet, the landlord,
went with me to bring back the team. We left Galena about ten o'clock in
the morning (17th), and, passing over an open, rolling country, reached
Gratiot's Grove, at a distance of fifteen miles. The Messrs. Gratiot
received me kindly, and showed me the various ores, and their mode of
preparing and smelting them, which are, in all respects, similar to the
method pursued in Missouri, with which I was familiar.
Mr. Henry Gratiot was the sub-Indian agent for the Winnebagoes, and was
present at the late disturbances at the head of Rock Island. His band is
the Winnebagoes living on Rock River, which is the residence of their
prophet. He says the latter is a half Sauk, and a very shrewd, cunning
man. They are peaceable now, and disclaim all connection with Black
Hawk, for war purposes. Mr. G. assured me that he places no confidence
in these declarations, nor in the stability of the Sacs and Foxes. He
deems the latter treacherous, as usual, and related to me several acts
of their former villainy--all in accordance with their late attack and
murder of the Menomonies at Prairie du Chien. This murder was committed
by a part of Black Hawk's band, who had been driven from their villages
on the Mississippi below the rapids. They ascended the river to
Dubuque--from thence the party set out, and fell on the unsuspicious and
Having examined whatever was deemed worthy of attention here, I drove on
about fifteen miles to Willow Springs. In this drive we had the Platte
Mounds, a prominent object, all the afternoon on our left. We stopped
at Irish Diggings, and I took specimens of the various spars, ores, and
rocks. Lead ore is found here in fissures in the rock. An extraordinary
mass of galena was recently discovered, in this geological position, by
two men named Doyle and Hanley. It is stated to have been twenty-two
feet wide by one hundred feet in length, and weighed many tons. It was
of the kind of formation called sheet mineral, which occupies what
appears to have once been an open fissure.
The face of the country is exceedingly beautiful, the soil fertile, and
bearing oaks and shagbark hickory. Grass and flowers cover the prairies
as far as the eye can reach. The hills are moderately elevated, and the
roads excellent, except for short distances where streams are crossed.
We passed the night at Willow Springs, where we were well accommodated
by Mr. Ray.
On the 18th it rained in the morning. We stopped at Rocky Branch
Diggings, and I obtained here some interesting specimens. We also
stopped at Bracken's Furnace, where I procured some organic remains. I
examined Vanmater's lead; it runs east and west nearly nine miles. There
was so much certainty in tracing the course of this lead, that it was
sought out with a compass. The top strata are thirty-six to forty
feet--then the mineral clay and galena occur.
While examining some large specimens which had been thrown out of an old
pit forty feet deep, whose edges were concealed by bushes, I had nearly
fallen in backwards, by which I should have been inevitably killed. The
fate that I escaped fell to the lot of Bennet's dog. The poor fellow
jumped over the cluster of bushes without seeing the pit beyond. By
looking down we could see that he was still living. Mr. Vanmater
promised to erect a windlass over the pit and get him out before Mr.
We reached Mineral Point about eleven o'clock. I immediately called on
Mr. Ansley, to whom I had a letter, and went with him to visit his
copper ore discovery. On the way he lost his mule, and, after some
exertions to catch the animal, being under the effects of a fever and
ague, he went back. A Mr. Black went with me to the diggings. Green and
blue carbonates of copper were found in rolled lumps in the clay soil,
much like that kind of lead ore which is called, from its abraded form,
gravel ore. Taking specimens of each kind of ore, I went back to the
town to dinner, and then drove on two or three miles to General
Dodge's. The General received me with great urbanity. I was introduced
to his son Augustus, a young gentleman of striking and agreeable
manners. Mrs. Dodge had prepared in a few moments a cup of coffee, which
formed a very acceptable appendage to my late dinner. We then continued
our way, passing through Dodgeville to Porter's Grove, where we stopped
for the night, and were made very comfortable at Morrison's.
On the 19th we drove to breakfast at Brigham's at the Blue Mounds. I
here found in my host my old friend with whom I had set out from
Pittsburgh for the western world some thirteen or fourteen years before,
and whom I last saw, I believe, fighting with the crows on the Illinois
bottoms for the produce of a fine field of corn. I went on to the mound
with him to view the extraordinary growth of the same grain at this
place. The stalks were so high that it really required a tall man to
reach up and pull off the ears.
Ten miles beyond Brigham's we came to Sugar Creek and a tree marked by
Mr. Lyon. From this point we found the trail measured and mile stakes
driven by Mr. Lyon's party, but the Indians have removed several. From
Sugar Creek it is ten miles to the head of the Four Lakes. We then
crossed the Seven Mile Prairie. To the left as we passed there rose a
high point of rocks, on the top of which the Indians had placed image
stones. Night overtook us soon after crossing this prairie. We took the
horse out of the shafts and tied him to the wagon. My friend Bennet,
though _au fait_ on these trips, failed to strike a fire. We ate
something, and made shift to pass the night.
Next morning we drove twelve miles to a house (Hasting's), where we got
breakfast. We drove through Duck Creek with some ado, the skies
threatening rain, and came in to Fort Winnebago by one o'clock, during a
pouring rain. The canoes sent from Galena had not yet arrived. I spent
the next day at the Winnebago agency, Mr. John H. Kinzie's, where I was
received with great kindness. The canoe with Dr. Houghton and his
companions did not arrive till the 23d, and I embarked the same day on
my return to St. Mary's. It will not be necessary to describe this
route. We were three days in descending the Fox River and its portages
to Green Bay. It required eight days to traverse the shores and bays to
Mackinack, and three more to reach St. Mary's, where I arrived on the
4th of September.
During my absence on this expedition, there were some things in my
correspondence that require notice. Gen. Cass had been transferred to
the War Office at Washington. He writes to me from Detroit (July 22d):
"Very much to my surprise I have found myself called to another sphere
of action. The change I am afraid will be not less unfavorable to my
health and comfort than it certainly is adverse to my pecuniary
interest. But I am forced by irresistible circumstances to accept the
appointment. I have no time to detail these now. When I next have the
pleasure of meeting you, I will fully lay them open to you. You will
then see and say that no other choice was before me."
Gen. Eaton, the former incumbent, goes out as minister to Spain. The
most important aspect is, perhaps, that we shall have a new governor,
under whose rule we shall be happy, if he does not rashly derange Indian
affairs in a too eager zeal to mend them. For a long and eventful era
Gen. Cass has presided as an umpire between the Indian tribes and the
citizens. His force and urbanity of character have equally inspired the
respect of both. He has equally secured the confidence of every class of
citizens in a wise civil administration of affairs. He has carried the
territory from a state of war and desolation, which it presented at the
close of 1815, when the whole population was less than three thousand
souls, to a state of sound prosperity, which, in a few years, will
develop resources that must class us one of the first of the
_July 26th_. The Rev. Absalom Peters, Sec. Home Miss. Society, holds out
the prospect of bringing our remote position, at the foot of Lake
Superior, within the pale of the operations of that society. He views
and describes a graduate of Dartmouth College, who may, probably, be
induced to venture himself on this frontier. He asks: "Please to say
whether you desire such a man as I have described? Will it be best for
him to go this fall, or wait until next spring? How much can you raise
for his support? How much will be necessary to sustain him and his
family with suitable economy? What will be his peculiar trials?"
_Aug. 23d_. It is announced that Mr. Geo. B. Porter, of Lancaster,
Penn., is to be the new governor.
_Oct. 4th_. The last mail brings me a letter from an early and esteemed
friend, a Prof. in the Med. Col. at New York, offering me
congratulations on the moral stand recently taken by me. Approvals,
indeed, of this act reach me from many quarters. The way seemed open,
with very little exertion on my part, to run a political course. But my
impressions were averse to it. There is so much of independent honest
opinion to be offered up by politicians--such continual calls to forsake
the right for the expedient--such large sacrifices to be made in various
ways to the god of public opinion, that a political career is rather
startling to a quiet, unambitious, home-loving individual like myself,
one, too, who is largely interested in other studies and pursuits, the
rewards of which are not, indeed, very prompt, very sure, nor very full;
but they are fraught with gratifications of a more enduring kind, and
furnish aliment to moral conceptions which exalt and purify the soul.
Dr. Torrey also alludes, in the same letter, to my recent journey in the
Indian country: "I am anxious to make some inquiries of you concerning
your expedition to the Falls of St. Anthony, &c. Though your principal
object was more important, perhaps, than natural science, I hope the
latter was not entirely neglected. I know that you have heretofore
devoted as much of your attention as possible to the observation of
natural objects, and the preservation of specimens, and your last
expedition was through a country well deserving of your highest
exertions. I know that part of it is the same as that explored while you
attended Gov. Cass, many years ago; but much of the ground, if I am
rightly informed, is new. You know that I have long devoted much of my
time to the study of N. American botany, and that I am collecting
materials for a general Flora of our country. Now, my dear sir, if you
or Mr. Houghton (the young gentleman whom, I am informed, accompanied
you) have made any collections in botany, I should esteem it a peculiar
favor to have the examination of the specimens.
"Our Lyceum prospers. We have removed to the N.Y. Dispensatory, a new
building lately erected in White Street, where we have excellent
accommodations. The Corporation of the city had use for the N.Y.
Institution, and nearly all the societies who occupied it have been
obliged to decamp. You doubtless have heard of the death of Dr.
Mitchell. Dr. Akerly will pronounce his eulogy soon, and probably Dr.
Hosick will give a more elaborate account of his life.
"Mr. Cooper now devotes himself to shells and birds. If you have
anything rare or new in these departments, we should be greatly obliged
to you for such specimens as you can spare.
"Dr. Dekay went to Russia with his father, Mr. Eckford, last summer."
_23d_. A friend and shrewd observer from Detroit, writes: "You ask how
we like our new Governor. Very well. He is a well-informed plain man,
unassuming in his manners and conciliatory, always ready for business,
and accustomed to do everything _en ordre_. His wife is a fine-looking
agreeable woman, with several pretty well-behaved children."
Another correspondent says: "Mr. Porter is very much such a man as A. E.
Wing, and will, no doubt, generally suit the citizens of the territory,"
_30th_. W. Ward, Esq., says: "I remove hence to Washington, with no
certain prospects, only hopes. I cannot go without thanking you for much
enjoyment in the hours passed with you, and for the manifestations of
interest and friendship."
_Nov. 12th_. Rev. W. S. Boutwell says: "I am happy to hear that my
friend and classmate, Porter, is at Mackinack, on his way to this
people. The Lord speed him on his way."
_22d_. Dr. Houghton writes from Fredonia, communicating the results of
his analyses of the Lake Superior copper-ores.
_Dec. 31st_. The person named in a prior letter from the Home Missionary
Society, prefers a more southerly location, in consequence of which a
new selection has been made by Dr. Peters, in the person of Rev.
Jeremiah Porter, a graduate of Princeton and Andover, and a lineal
descendant, I understand, by the mother's side, of the great Dr.
Edwards. We have been favorably impressed by the manner and deportment,
and not less so by the piety and learning of the man. I felt happy, the
moment of his landing, in offering him a furnished chamber, bed and
plate, at Elmwood, while residing on this frontier. He has taken steps
to organize a church. He preaches in an animated and persuasive style,
and has commenced a system of moral instruction in detail, which, in our
local history, constitutes an era. It has been written that "where vice
abounds, grace shall much more abound," and St. Mary's may now be well
included in the list of favorable examples. The lordly "wassail" of the
fur-trader, the long-continued dance of the gay French "habitant," the
roll of the billiard-ball, the shuffle of the card, and the frequent
potations of wine "when it is red in the cup," will now, at least, no
longer retain their places in the customs of this spot on the frontier
without the hope of having their immoral tendencies pointed out. Some of
the soldiers have also shown a disposition to attend the several
meetings for instruction. The claims of temperance have likewise led to
an organized effort, and if the pious and gentle Mr. Laird were
permitted once again to visit the place, after a lapse of seven years,
he might fervently exclaim, in the language of the Gospel, "What hath
Revival of St. Mary's--Rejection of Mr. Van Buren as Minister to
England--Botany and Natural History of the North-west--Project of a new
expedition to find the Sources of the Mississippi--Algie
Society--Consolidation of the Agencies of St. Mary's and
Michilimackinack--Good effects of the American Home Missionary
Society--Organization of a new inland exploring expedition committed to
me--Its objects and composition of the corps of observers.
1832, _Jan. 31st_. I was now to spend a winter to aid a preacher in
promoting the diffusion and understanding of the detailed facts, which
all go to establish a great truth--a truth which was first brought to
the world's notice eighteen hundred and thirty-two years before, namely,
that God, who was incarnate in the Messiah, under the name of Jesus
Christ, offered himself a public sacrifice for human sins, amidst the
most striking and imposing circumstances of a Roman execution--a fact
which, in an age of extraordinary moral stolidity and ecclesiastical
delusion, was regarded as the behest of a mere human tribunal.
For this work the circumstances of our position and exclusion from
society was very favorable. The world, with all its political and
commercial care, was, in fact, shut out with the closing of the river.
Three hundred miles of a waste, howling wilderness separated us
south-easterly from the settlements at Detroit. Ninety miles in a
south-westerly direction lay the island and little settlement and
mission of Mackinack.
In addition to the exertions of Mr. Porter, who was our pastor, the
winter had enclosed, at that point, a zealous missionary of the American
Board, destined for a more northerly position, in the person of Mr.
Boutwell, who with the person, Mr. Bingham, in charge of the Indian
mission at the same point, maintained by the Baptist Convention,
constituted a moral force that was not likely to be without its results.
They derived mutual aid from each other in various ways, and directed
their entire efforts upon a limited community, wholly excluded from open
contact with the busy world, and having, by their very isolation,
The result was an awakened attention to the truth, to which I have
adverted, not as a mere historical event, but one personally interesting
and important to every person, without regard at all to their
circumstances or position. Severity of climate, deep snows, the
temperature often below zero, and frequently but little above, blinding
snow storms, and every inconvenience of the place or places of meeting,
appeared only to have the effect to give greater efficacy to the
inquiry, as the workings of unshackled mind and will. Early in the
season, a comparatively large number of persons of every class deemed it
their duty to profess a personal interest in the atonement, the great
truth dwelt on, and made eventually a profession of faith by uniting
with, and recording their names as members of some branch of the church.
Among these were several natives. Mrs. Johnston, known to her people by
the name of the Sha-go-wash-co-da-wa-qua, being the most noted. Also
four of her daughters, and one of her sons, one or two Catholic
soldiers, several officers of Fort Brady, citizens, &c., &c.
This statement will tend to render many of the allusions in my journal
of this winter's transactions intelligible. Indeed some of them would
not be at all understood without it. Historically considered, there was
deep instruction "hid" in this event. It was now precisely 222 years
since the Puritans, with the principles of the Scriptures for their
guidance, in fleeing to lay the foundation of a new government in the
West, had landed at Plymouth. It had required this time, leaving events
to develop themselves, for the circle of civilization to reach the foot
of Lake Superior. Ten years after the first landing at this remote spot
in 1822, had been sufficient to warm these ancient principles into life.
John Eliot, and the band of eminent saints who began the labor with him
in 1632, had been centuries in their tombs, but the great principles
which they upheld and enforced were invested with the sacred vitality
which they possessed at that day. Two truths are revealed by this
reminiscence. 1. That the Scriptures will be promulgated by human means.
2. That time, in the Divine mind, is to be measured in a more enlarged
sense; but the propagation of truth goes on, as obstacle after obstacle
is withdrawn, surely, steadily, unalterably, and that its spread over
the entire globe is a mere question of time.
_Jan. 31st_. Mr. Wing, delegate in Congress, writes from Washington,
that the nomination of Mr. Van Buren as minister to England has been
rejected by the Senate, by a majority of one--and that one the casting
vote of the Vice-President. A letter from Albany, Feb. 1, says: "Albany
(and the State generally) is considerably excited this morning in
consequence of the rejection of Mr. Van Buren. Nothing could have more
promoted the interest of Mr. Van Buren than this step of the Senate. New
York city has resolved to receive him, on his return from England, with
all the 'pomp and magnificence in its power, and to show that her
'favorite son' shall be sustained.' I heard this read in public from a
letter received by a person in this city."
"A report reached this a few days ago, stating that the 'cholera' had
been brought to New Orleans in a Spanish vessel."
"Mr. Woolsey, the young gentleman of your tour last summer, died at New
York a short time since." In a letter which he wrote to me (Sept. 27th),
on the eve of his leaving Detroit, he says: "Permit me now, sir, in
closing this note, again to express my gratitude for the opportunity you
have afforded me of visiting a very interesting portion of our country,
and for the uniform kindness that I have experienced at your hands, and
for the friendly wishes, that prosperity may crown my exertions
Dr. Houghton says (Feb. 8) respecting this moral young man: "The tears
of regret might flow freely for the loss of such true unsophisticated
worth, even with those who knew him imperfectly, but to me, who felt as
a brother, the loss is doubly great. We have, however, when reflecting
upon his untimely death, the sweet consolation that he died as he lived,
_Feb. 4th_. Dr. Torrey expresses his interest in the botany and natural
history, generally, of the country visited by me last summer. "Your kind
offer to place in my hands the botanical rarities which, from time to
time, you may acquire, in your interesting journeys, I fully appreciate.
It will give me great pleasure to examine the collections made by Dr.
Houghton during your last expedition.
"My friend Mr. William Cooper, of the Lyceum, will be happy to lend you
all the assistance in his power in determining the shells you have
collected. He is decidedly our beat conchologist in New York, and I
would rather trust him than most men--for he is by no means afflicted
with the mania of desiring to multiply new species, which, is, at
present, the bane of natural history.
"You speak of having discovered some interesting minerals, especially
some good native copper. Above all the specimens which you obtained, I
should like to see the native magnesia which you found in serpentine. I
am desirous of analyzing the mineral, to ascertain whether its
composition agrees with that of Hoboken and Unst (the only recorded
localities in our mineralogical works)."
_13th_. Submitted, in a letter to the department at Washington, A
PROJECT of an expedition to the North-west, during the ensuing season,
in order to carry out the views expressed in the instructions of last
year, to preserve peace on the western frontiers, inclosing the
necessary estimates, &c.
_16th_. Mr. W. H. Sherman, of Vernon, N.Y., communicates intelligence
of the death of my mother, which took place about ten o'clock on the
morning of this day. She was seventy-five years of age, and a
Christian--and died as she had lived, in a full hope. I had read the
letters before breakfast, and while the family were assembling for
prayers. I had announced the fact with great composure, and afterward
proceeded to read in course the 42d Psalm, and went on well, until I
came to the verse--"Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou
disquieted within me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who
is the health of my countenance, and my God."
The emotions of this painful event, which I had striven to conceal,
swelled up in all their reality, my utterance was suddenly choked, and I
was obliged to close the book, and wait for calmness to go on.
_28th_. The initial steps were taken for forming an association of
persons interested in the cause of the reclamation of the Indians, to be
known under the name of the Algic Society. Connected with this, one of
its objects was to collect and disseminate practical information
respecting their language, history, traditions, customs, and character;
their numbers and condition; the geographical features of the country
they inhabit; and its natural history and productions.
It proposes some definite means of action for furthering their moral
instruction, and reclamation from the evils of intemperance and the
principles of war, and to subserve the general purposes of a society of
moral inquiry. The place was deemed favorable both for the collection of
original information, and for offering a helping hand to missionaries
and teachers who should visit the frontiers in carrying forward the
great moral question of the exaltation of the tribes from barbarism to
civilization and Christianity.
_28th_. Instructions are issued at Washington, consolidating the
agencies of St. Mary's and Michilimackinack--and placing the joint
agency under my charge. By this arrangement, Col. Boyd, the agent at the
latter point, is transferred to Green Bay, and I am left at liberty to
reside at St. Mary's or Michilimackinack, placing a sub-agent at the
point where I do not reside.
This measure is announced to me in a private letter of this day, from
the Secretary of War, who says: "I think the time has arrived when a
just economy requires such a measure." By it the entire expenses of one
full agency are dispensed with--the duties of which are devolved upon
me, in addition to those I before had. By being allowed the choice of
selection, two hundred dollars are added to my salary. Here is opened a
new field, and certainly a very ample one, for exertions.
_April 8th_. The object contemplated by invoking the aid of the Home
Missionary Society, in the establishment of a church at this remote
point on the frontiers--in connection with the means already possessed,
and the aid providentially present, have, it will have been seen, had
the effect to work quite a moral revolution. The evils of a lax society
have been rebuked in various ways. Intemperance and disorder have been
made to stand out as such, and already a spirit of rendering the use, or
rather _misuse_ of time, subservient to the general purposes of social
dissipation, has been shown to be unwise and immoral in every view. More
than all, the Sabbath-day has been vindicated as a part of time set
apart as holy. The claims and obligations of the decalogue have been
enforced; and the great truths of the Gospel thus prominently brought
forward. The result has been every way propitious.
The Rev. Wm. M. Ferry, of Mackinack, writes (Feb. 21): "The intelligence
we have received by your letters, Mr. Boutwell, &c., of the Lord's
doings among you, as a people, at the Sault, has rejoiced our hearts
much. Surely it is with you a time of the right hand of the Most High."
"All of us," writes Mr. Robert Stuart (March 29) "who love the Lord,
were much pleased at the indications of God's goodness and presence
The Rev. J. Porter, in subsequently referring to the results of these
additions to the church, observes, that they embraced five officers and
four ladies of the garrison; two gentlemen and seven ladies of the
settlement, and thirty soldiers and four women of Fort Brady, numbering
fifty-two in all. Of these, twenty-six were adults added by baptism.
At Detroit a similar result was experienced. Mr. Trowbridge writes
(April 8th), that about seventy persons united themselves a few days
previous to Mr. Wells' church, to which the influence has been
principally, but not wholly confined. Among these were many who had,
unaffectedly, listened to the Gospel, if not all their lives, certainly
no small part of it.
_May 3d_. Public instructions are issued for my organizing and taking
command of an expedition to the country upon the sources of the
Mississippi River, to effect a pacification between the Indian tribes,
in order to carry out, with increased means, the efforts made in 1831.
Those efforts were confined to tribes living in latitudes south of St.
Anthony's Falls. It was now proposed to extend them to the Indian
population living north of that point, reaching to the sources of that
river. This opened the prospect of settling a long contested point in
the geography of that stream, namely, its actual source--a question in
which I had long felt the deepest interest.
The outbreak of Indian hostility, under Black Hawk, which characterized
the summer of 1832, was apprehended, and it became the policy of the
Indian Bureau, in the actual state of its information, to prevent the
northern tribes from joining in the Sac and Fox league under that
influential leader. I forwarded to the Superintendent and Governor of
the territory, a report of a message and war-club sent to the Chippewas
to join in the war, for which I was indebted to the chief, Chingwauk, or
"Reports from various quarters of the Indian country," says the
Secretary of War, in a private letter so early as March 28th, "lead to
the belief that the Indians are in an unsettled state, and prudence
requires that we should advise and restrain them. I think one more tour
would be very useful in this respect, and would complete our knowledge
of the geography of that region."
"There is a prospect," says the official instructions (May 3d), "of
extensive hostilities among themselves. It is no less the dictate of
humanity than of policy to repress this feeling, and to establish
permanent peace among the tribe.
"It is also important to inspect the condition of the trade, and the
conduct of the traders. To ascertain whether the regulations and the
laws are complied with, and to suggest such alterations as may be
required. And, finally, to inquire into the number, standing,
disposition, and prospect of the Indians, and to report all the
statistical facts you can procure, and which will be useful to the
government in its operations, or to the community in the investigation
of these subjects."
Congress, during the session, passed an act for vaccinating the Indians.
This constituted a separate duty, and enabled me to take along a
physician and surgeon. I offered the situation to Dr. Douglass Houghton,
of Fredonia, who, in the discharge of it, was prepared to take
cognizance of the subjects of botany, geology, and mineralogy. I offered
to the American Board of Missions, at Boston, to take a missionary
agent, to observe the condition and prospects of the Indian tribes in
the north-west, as presenting a field for their operations, and named
the Rev. W.T. Boutwell, then at Michilimackinack, for the post, which
the Board confirmed, with a formal vote of thanks. Lieut. James Allen,
5th U.S. Infantry, who was assigned to the command of the detachment of
troops, assumed the duties of topographer and draughtsman. Mr. George
Johnston, of St. Mary's, was appointed interpreter and baggage-master. I
retained myself the topics of Indian history, archaeology, and language.
The party numbered about thirty souls. All this appeared strictly
compatible with the practical objects to be attained--keeping the
expenses within the sum appropriated for the object.
Some few weeks were required completely to organize the expedition, to
prepare the necessary supplies, and to permit the several persons to
reach the place of rendezvous. Meantime I visited Michilimackinack to
receive the agency from Col. Boyd; after which it was left temporarily
in charge of a sub-agent and interpreter, with the supervision of the
commanding officer of Fort Mackinack.
_4th_. The Secretary of War writes a private letter: "We have allowed
all it was possible, and you must on no account exceed the sum, as the
pressure upon our funds is very great."
Maj. W. writes from Detroit (May 7th): "I am glad to hear that you are
about going on another expedition, and that Mr. Houghton is to accompany
you. I hope you will find time to send us some specimens collected on
your former tour before you start."
Dr. Houghton writes from Fredonia (May 12th): "I shall leave here
immediately after the twenty-fourth, and hope to see you as early as the
second or third of June. I have heard from Torrey, and have sent him a
suit of plants."
The Secretary of War again writes (May 22d): "It has been impossible
before now, to make you a remittance of funds, and they cannot yet all
be sent for your expedition. Our annual appropriation has not yet
passed, and when it will I am sure I cannot tell. So you must get along
as well as you can. I trust, however, the amount now sent will be
sufficient to enable you to start upon your expedition. The residue
promised to you, as well as the funds for your ordinary expenditures,
shall be sent as soon as the appropriation is made."
The sub-agent, in charge of the agency at Mackinack, writes (May 22d):
"Gen. Brook arrived yesterday from Green Bay, and has concluded to make
this post his head-quarters. I was up, yesterday, in the garrison, and
Capt. McCabe introduced me to him. I found him a very pleasant, plain,
unassuming man. Col. Boyd has handed me a list of articles which you
will find inclosed, &c."
"The committee," says the Rev. David Green, Boston, "wish me to express
to you the satisfaction they have in learning that your views respecting
the importance of making known the great truths of the Gospel to the
Indians, as the basis on which to build their improvement, in all
respects accords so perfectly with their own. It is our earnest desire
that our missionaries should act wisely in all their labors for the
benefit of the Indians, and that all the measures which may be adopted
by them, or by others who seek to promote the present or future welfare
of this unhappy and long-abused people, may be under the Divine
guidance, and crowned with great success."
These triple claims, which have now been mentioned, of business, of
science, and of religion, on my attention created not the least
distraction on my mind, but, on the contrary, appeared to have
propitious and harmonizing influences.
Expedition to, and discovery of, Itasca Lake, the source of the
Mississippi River--Brief notice of the journey to the point of former
geographical discovery in the basin of Upper Red Cedar, or Cass
Lake--Ascent and portage to Queen Anne's Lake--Lake Pemetascodiac--The
Ten, or Metoswa Rapids--Pemidgegomag, or Cross-water Lake--Lake
Irving--Lake Marquette--Lake La Salle--Lake Plantagenet--Ascent of the
Plantagenian Fork--Naiwa, or Copper-snake River--Agate Rapids and
portage--Assawa Lake--Portage over the Hauteur des Terres--Itasca
Lake--Its picturesque character--Geographical and astronomical
1832. _June 7th_. It was not until this day that the expedition was
ready to embark at the head of the portage at St. Mary's. I had
organized it strictly on temperance principles, observation having
convinced me, during frequent expeditions in the wilderness, that not
only is there no situation, unless administered from the medicine-chest,
where men are advantaged by its use, but in nearly every instance of
fatigue or exhaustion their powers are enfeebled by it, while, in a
moral and intellectual sense, they are rendered incapable, neglectful,
or disobedient. This exclusion constituted a special clause in every
verbal agreement with the men, who were Canadians, which I thought
necessary to make, in order that they might have no reason to complain
while inland of its exclusion. They were promised, instead of it,
abundance of good wholesome food at all times. The effects of this were
apparent even at the start. They all presented smiling faces, and took
hold of their paddles with a conscious feeling of satisfaction in the
wisdom of their agreement.
The military and their supplies occupied a large Mackinack boat; my
heavy stores filled another. I traveled in a _canoe-elege,_ as being
better adapted to speed and the celerity of landing. Each carried a
national flag. We slept the first night at Point Iroquois, which
commands a full view of the magnificent entrance into the lake. We were
fifteen days in traversing the lake, being my fifth trip through this
inland sea. We passed up the St. Louis River by its numerous portages
and falls to the Sandy Lake summit, and reached the banks of the
Mississippi on the third of July, and ascertained its width above the
junction of the Sandy Lake outlet to be 331 feet. We were six days in
ascending it to the central island in Cass Lake. This being the point at
which geographical discovery rests, I decided to encamp the men, deposit
my heavy baggage, and fitted out a light party in hunting canoes to
trace the stream to its source. The Indians supplied me with five canoes
of two fathoms each, and requiring but two men to manage each, which
would allow one canoe to each of the gentlemen of my party. I took three
Indians and seven white men as the joint crew, making, with the sitters,
fifteen persons. We were provisioned for a few days, carried a flag,
mess-basket, tent, and other necessary apparatus. We left the island
early the next morning, and reached the influx of the Mississippi into
the Lake at an early hour. To avoid a very circuitous bay, which I
called Allen's Bay, we made a short portage through open pine woods.
Fifty yards' walk brought us and our canoe and baggage to the banks of
Queen Anne's Lake, a small sylvan lake through which the whole channel
of the Mississippi passed. A few miles above its termination we entered
another lake of limited size, which the Indians called Pemetascodiac.
The river winds about in this portion of it--through savannas, bordered
by sandhills, and pines in the distance--for about fifteen miles. At
this distance, rapids commence, and the bed of the river exhibited
greenstone and gneissoid boulders. We counted ten of these rapids, which
our guide called the Metoswa, or Ten Rapids. They extend about twenty
miles, during which there is a gradual ascent of about forty feet. The
men got out at each of these rapids, and lifted or drew the canoes up by
their gunwales. We ascended slowly and with toil. At the computed
distance of forty-five miles, we entered a very handsome sheet of water,
lying transverse to our course, which the Indians called Pamidjegumag,
which means crosswater, and which the French call _Lac Traverse_. It is
about twelve miles long from east to west, and five or six wide. It is
surrounded with hardwood forest, presenting a picturesque appearance.
We stopped a few moments to observe a rude idol on its shores; it
consisted of a granitic boulder, of an extraordinary shape, with some
rings and spots of paint, designed to give it a resemblance to a human
statue. We observed the passenger-pigeon and some small fresh-water
shells of the species of unios and anadontas.
A short channel, with a strong current, connects this lake with another
of less than a third of its dimensions, to which I gave the name of
Washington Irving. Not more than three or four miles above the latter,
the Mississippi exhibits the junction of its ultimate forks. The right
hand, or Itasca branch, was represented as by far the longest, the most
circuitous, and most difficult of ascent. It brings down much the
largest volume of water. I availed myself of the geographical knowledge
of my Indian guide by taking the left hand, or what I had occasion soon
to call the Plantagenian branch. It expanded, in the course of a few
miles, into a lake, which I called Marquette, and, a little further,
into another, which I named La Salle. About four miles above the latter,
we entered into a more considerable sheet of water, which I named
Plantagenet, being the site of an old Indian encampment called
Kubbakunna, or the Rest in the Path.
We encamped a short distance above the upper end of this lake at the
close of the day, on a point of low land covered with a small growth of
gray pine, fringed with alder, tamarisk, spruce, and willow. A bed of
moss covered the soil, into which the foot sank at every step. Long moss
hung from every branch. Everything indicated a cold frigid soil. In the
act of encamping, it commenced raining, which gave a double gloom to the
place. Several species of duck were brought from the different canoes as
the result of the day's hunt.
Early the next morning we resumed the ascent. The river became narrow
and tortuous. Clumps of willow and alder lined the shore. Wherever
larger species were seen they were gray pines or tamarack. One of the
Indians killed a deer, of the species _C. Virginea_, during the morning.
Ducks were frequently disturbed as we pushed up the winding channel. The
shores were often too sedgy and wet to permit our landing, and we went
on till twelve o'clock before finding a suitable spot to breakfast.
About five o'clock we came to a high diluvial ridge of gravel and sand,
mixed with boulders of syenite, trap-rock, quartz, and sandstone.
Ozawandib, our guide, said we were near the junction of the Naiwa, or
Copper-snake River, the principal tributary of this branch of the
Mississippi, and that it was necessary to make a passage over this ridge
to avoid a formidable series of rapids. Our track lay across a
peninsula. This occupied the remainder of the day, and we encamped on
the banks of the stream above the rapids and pitched our tent, before
daylight had finally departed. The position of the sun, in this
latitude, it must be recollected, is protracted, very perceptibly, above
the horizon. We ascended to the summit in a series of geological steps
or plateaux. There is but little perceptible rise from the Cross-water
level to this point--called Agate Rapids and Portage, from the
occurrence of this mineral in the drift. The descent of water at this
place cannot be less than seventy feet. On resuming the journey the next
morning (13th) we found the water above these rapids had almost the
appearance of a dead level. The current is very gentle; and, by its
diminished volume, denotes clearly the absence of the contributions from
the Naiwa. About seven miles above the Agate Portage we entered Lake
Assawa, which our Indian guide informed us was the source of this
branch. We were precisely twenty minutes in passing through it, with the
full force of paddles. It receives two small inlets, the most southerly
of which we entered, and the canoes soon stuck fast, amidst aquatic
plants, on a boggy shore. I did not know, for a moment, the cause of our
having grounded, till Ozawandib exclaimed, "O-um-a, mikun-na!" here is
the portage! We were at the Southern flanks of the diluvial hills,
called HAUTEUR DES TERRES--a geological formation of drift materials,
which form one of the continental water-sheds, dividing the streams
tributary to the Gulf of Mexico, from those of Hudson's Bay. He
described the portage as consisting of twelve _pug-gi-de-nun_, or
resting places, where the men are temporarily eased of their burdens.
This was indefinite, depending on the measure of a man's strength to
carry. Not only our baggage, but the canoes were to be carried. After
taking breakfast, on the nearest dry ground, the different back-loads
for the men were prepared. Ozawandib threw my canoe over his shoulders
and led the way. The rest followed, with their appointed loads. I
charged myself with a spy-glass, strapped, and portfolio. Dr. Houghton
carried a plant press. Each one had something, and the men toiled with
five canoes, Our provisions, beds, tent, &c. The path was one of the
most intricate and tangled that I ever knew. Tornadoes appeared to have
cast down the trees in every direction. A soft spongy mass, that gave
way under the tread, covered the interstices between the fallen timber.
The toil and fatigue were incessant. At length we ascended the first
height. It was an arid eminence of the pebble and erratic block era,
bearing small gray pines and shrubbery. This constituted our first
pause, or _puggidenun._ On descending it, we were again plunged among
bramble. Path, there was none, or trail that any mortal eye, but an
Indian's, could trace. We ascended another eminence. We descended it,
and entered a thicket of bramble, every twig of which seemed placed
there to bear some token of our wardrobe, as we passed. To avoid this,
the guide passed through a lengthened shallow pond, beyond which the
walking was easier. Hill succeeded hill. It was a hot day in July, and
the sun shone out brightly. Although we were evidently passing an alpine
height, where a long winter reigned, and the vegetation bore every
indication of being imperfectly developed. We observed the passenger
pigeon, and one or two species of the _falco_ family. There were
indications of the common deer. Moss hung abundantly from the trees. The
gray pine predominated in the forest growth.
At length, the glittering of water appeared, at a distance below, as
viewed from the summit of one of these eminences. It was declared by our
Indian guide to be Itasca Lake--the source of the main, or South fork of
the Mississippi. I passed him, as we descended a long winding slope, and
was the first man to reach its banks. A little grassy opening served as
the terminus of our trail, and proved that the Indians had been in the
practice of crossing this eminence in their hunts. As one after another
of the party came, we exulted in the accomplishment of our search. A
fire was quickly kindled, and the canoes gummed, preparatory to
We had struck within a mile of the southern extremity of the lake, and
could plainly see its terminus from the place of our embarking. The view
was quite enchanting. The waters were of the most limpid character. The
shores were overhung with hard wood foliage, mixed with species of
spruce, larch, and aspen. We judged it to be about seven miles in
length, by an average of one to two broad. A bay, near its eastern-end,
gave it somewhat the shape of the letter y. We observed a deer standing
in the water. Wild fowl appeared to be abundant. We landed at the only
island it contains--a beautiful spot for encampment, covered with the
elm, cherry, larch, maple, and birch, and giving evidence, by the
remains of old camp-fires, and scattered bones of species killed in the
chase, of its having been much resorted to by the aborigines.
This picturesque island the party honored me by calling after my
name--in which they have been sanctioned by Nicollet and other
geographers. I caused some trees to be felled, pitched my tent, and
raised the American flag on a high staff, the Indians firing a salute
as it rose.
This flag, as the evidence of the government having extended its
jurisdiction to this quarter, I left flying, on quitting the island--and
presume the band of Ozawandib, at Cass Lake, afterwards appropriated it
Questions of geography and astronomy may deserve a moment's attention.
If we assume the discovery of the mouth of the Mississippi to have been
made by Narvaez in 1527--a doubtful point!--a period of 305 years has
elapsed before its actual source has been fixed. If the date of De
Soto's journey (1541) be taken, which is undisputed, this period is
reduced to 290 years. Hennepin saw it as high as the mouth of the river
St. Francis in 1680. Lt. Pike, under the administration of Mr.
Jefferson, ascended it by water in 1805, near to the entrance of Elk
River, south of the Crow Wing Fork, and being overtaken at this spot by
frosts and snow, and winter setting in strongly, he afterwards ascended
its banks, on snow shoes, his men carrying his baggage on hand sleds, to
Sandy Lake, then a post of the North-west Company. From this point he
was carried forward, under their auspices, by the Canadian train
_de-glis,_ drawn by dogs to Leech Lake; and eventually, by the same
conveyance, to what is now denominated Cass Lake, or upper _Lac Cedre
Rogue_. This he reached in January, 1806, and it formed the terminus of
In 1820, Gen. Cass visited Sandy Lake, by the way of Lake Superior, with
a strong party, and exploratory outfit, under the authority of the
government. He encamped the bulk of his party at Sandy Lake, depositing
all his heavy supplies, and fitted out a light party in two canoes, to
trace up the river to its source. After ascending to the point of land
at the entrance of Turtle River into Cass Lake, it was found, from
Indian accounts, that he could not ascend higher in the state of the
water with his heavy canoes, if, indeed, his supplies or the time at
his command would have permitted him to accomplish it, compatibly with
other objects of his instructions. This, therefore, constituted the
terminal point of his journey.
The length of the river, from the Gulf of Mexico to Itasca Lake, has
been estimated at 3,160 miles. Barometrical observations show its
altitude, above the same point, to be 1,680 feet--which denotes an
average descent of a fraction over six inches per mile.
The latitude of Itasca Lake has been accurately determined to be 47 deg. 13'
35"--which is nearly two degrees south of the position assigned to it by
the best geographers in 1783, the date of the definite treaty of peace
between the United States and Great Britain.
The reason of this geographical mistake has been satisfactorily shown in
traversing up the stream from the summit of the Pemidjegomag, or
Cross-water Lake--during which, the general course of the ascent is
Descent of the Mississippi River, from Itasca Lake to Cass Lake--Traits
of its bank--Kabika Falls--Upsetting of a canoe--River descends by
steps, and through narrow rocky passes--Portage to the source of the
Crow-Wing River--Moss Lake--Shiba Lake--Leech Lake--Warpool Lake--Long
Lake Mountain portage--Kaginogomanug--Vermilion Lake--Ossawa Lake-Shell
River--Leaf River--Long Prairie River--Kioskk, or Gull River--Arrival at
its mouth--Descent to the Falls of St. Anthony, and St. Peter's--Return
to St. Mary's.
1832, _July 14th_. I found the outlet of Itasca Lake to be about twelve
feet wide, and some twelve to fourteen inches deep. The water is of
crystal purity, and the current very rapid. We were urged along with
great velocity. It required incessant vigilance on the part of the men
to prevent our frail vessels from being dashed against boulders. For
about twelve miles the channel was not only narrow, but exceedingly
crooked. Often, where the water was most deep and rapid, it did not
appear to exceed ten feet in width. Trees which had fallen from the
banks required, sometimes, to be cut away to allow the canoes to pass,
and it required unceasing vigilance to avoid piles of drifted wood or
boulders. As we were borne along in vessels of bark, not more than
one-eighth of an inch thick, a failure to fend off, or hit the proper
guiding point, in any one place, would have been fraught with instant
destruction. And we sat in a perfect excitement during this distance.
The stream then deployed, for a distance of some eight miles, into a
savannah or plain, with narrow grassy borders in which its width was
doubled, its depth decreased, and the current less furious. We went
through these windings with more assurance and composure. It was one of
the minor plateaux in which this stream descends. The channel then
narrowed and deepened itself for another plunge, and soon brought us to
the top of the Kabika Palls. This pass, as the name imports, is a
cascade over rocks. The river is pent up, between opposing trap rock,
which are not over ten feet apart. Its depth is about four feet, and
velocity perfectly furious. It is not impossible to descend it, as there
is no abrupt pitch, but such a trial would seem next to madness. We made
a portage with our canoes of about a quarter of a mile across a
peninsula, and embarked again at the foot of the falls, where the stream
again expands to more than double its former width, and the scenery
assumes a milder aspect. It is another plateau.
Daylight had departed when we encamped on a high sandy bank on the left
shore. We were perfectly exhausted with labor, and the thrilling
excitement of the day. It seemed, while flying through its furious
passes, as if this stream was impatient for its development, and, like
an unrestrained youth, was bent on overthrowing every obstacle, on the
instant, that opposed its advance and expansion. A war horse could not
have been more impatient to rush on to his destiny.
We were in motion again in our canoes at five o'clock the next morning.
At an early hour my Indian guide landed to fire at some deer. He could
not, however, get close enough to make an effectual shot. Before the
animals were, however, out of range, he loaded, without wadding, and
fired again, but also without effect. After passing a third plateau
through which the river winds, with grassy borders, we found it once
more to contract for another descent, which we made without leaving our
canoes, not, however, without imminent peril and loss. Lieut. Allen had
halted to make some observations, when his men incautiously failed for a
moment to keep his canoe direct in the current. The moment it assumed a
transverse position, which they attempted to fix by grasping some bushes
on the opposite bank, the water dashed over the gunwales, and swept all
to the bottom. He succeeded in gaining his feet, though the current was
waist high, and recovered his fowling piece, but irretrievably lost his
canoe-compass, a nautical balanced instrument, and everything besides.
Fortunately I had a fine small land-compass, which Gen. Macomb had
presented to the late John Johnston, Esq., of St. Mary's, many years
before, and thus I measurably repaired his loss. On descending this
channel, the river again displayed itself in savannas, and assumed a
width which it afterwards maintained, and lost its savage ferocity of
current, though still strong.
On this plateau, the river receiving on its left the War River, or
Piniddiwin (the term has relation to the mangled flesh of those slain in
battle), a considerable stream, at the mouth of which the Indian reed
first shows itself. We had, the day previous, noticed the Chemaun, or
Canoe River, tributary from the right bank. Minor tributaries were not
noticed. The volume of water was manifestly increased from various
sources. At a spot where we landed, as evening came on, we observed a
species of striped lizard, which our guide called Okautekinabic, which
signifies legged-snake. Various species of the duck and other water fowl
were almost continually in sight. We reached the junction of the
Plantagenet Fork about one o'clock at night (15th), and rapidly passing
the Irving and Cross-water Lakes, descended to Cass Lake, reaching our
encampment at nine o'clock in the morning.
A day's rest restored the party from its fatigues, and we set out at ten
o'clock the following day (16th) for Leech Lake, by the overland route.
Two hours rowing brought us to a fine sandy beach at the head of a bay,
which was named Pike's Bay, from Lieut. Pike having approached from this
direction in the winter of 1806. Here the baggage and canoes were
prepared for a portage. A walk of nine hundred and fifty yards, through
open pine forest, brought us to the banks of Moss Lake, which we passed
in canoes. A portage of about two miles and a-half was now made to the
banks of a small lake, which, as I heard no name for it, was called
Shiba, from the initials of the names of the five gentlemen of the
party. This lake has an outlet into a large stream, which the
Pillager Chippewas call Kapuka Sagitawag. It was nearly dark when we
embarked on this stream, which soon led, by a very narrow and winding
channel, into the main river. Pushing on, we reached and crossed an arm
of the lake to the principal Indian village of Guelle Plat, Leech Lake,
which we reached at ten o'clock at night.
[Footnote 62: Schoolcraft, Houghton, Johnston, Boutwell, Allen.]
The next day (17th) was passed in council with them, till late in the
afternoon, when I embarked, and went a couple of leagues to encamp, in
order to rid myself fully of the village throng, and be ready for an
early start in the morning. It was my determination to pass inland
south-westerly by an Indian trail, so as to strike the source of the
Crow Wing or De Corbeau River, one of the great tributaries of the
Mississippi which remained unexplored.
We found the entrance to this portage early the next morning (18th).
After following the trail about three-fourths of a mile we reached and
crossed a small lake called Warpool. A small and intricate outlet led
successively to Little Long Lake, the Two Lakes, and the Lake of the
Mountain. Here commenced a highland portage of over 900 yards to the
Lake of the Island--another portage of some 2000 yards was then made to
Midlake, and finally another of one _puggidenun_, partly through a bog,
but terminating on elevated grounds at the head of a considerable and
handsome body of water called Kaginogamaug, or The Long Water. This is
the source of the De Corbeau River, and here we encamped for the night.
We had how crossed the summit between Leech Lake and the source of the
Crow Wing River. We commenced the descent on the morning of the 19th,
and passed successively through eleven lakes, connected by a series of
short channels. The names of these in their order, are Kaginogamaug,
Little Vermilion, Birch, Ple, Assawa, Vieu Desert, Summit, Longrice,
Allen's, Johnston's, and Kaitchibo Sagitawa. Two tributary streams enter
the river in this distance, the principal of which is Shell River; the
stream assumes an ample size, and there is no further apprehension of
shallows. Next day (20th) we passed the influx of six rivers, the
largest of which is Leaf River, coming in from the West. The channel has
now attained a bold and sweeping force. It required part of another day
to reach its mouth, in the course of which it is joined by the Long
Prairie River from the right, and the Kioshk or Gall River from the
left. An alluvial island, with a heavy forest, exists at the point of
its confluence with the Mississippi River. We encamped at the Pierced
Prairie, eighteen miles below the junction, and were less than two days
in a high state of the water, in reaching St. Anthony's falls.
_24th_. I arrived at St. Peter's about two o'clock in the afternoon, and
entered and encamped on the open common on the banks of the river. The
Indian agent (Mr. Tallieferro) was absent. I found Captain Jouett in
command of the fort, and in charge of Indian affairs. He received me in
a cordial manner, and offered every facility in his power to effect the
objects of my mission among the hostile tribes. No recent news from the
seat of operation against the Black Hawk and his adherents was known.
Recent details were, however, imprecise. Captain Jouett had kept up, I
think, the mail communication with Prairie du Chien, by a canoe sent
once a fortnight. The murder of St. Vrain, the events on the Rock River
with the Illinois militia, and the movements on foot to chastise the
hostile Sauks and Foxes, were among the latest items of intelligence.
But nothing was known of the actual position of the Black Hawk and his
followers. My determinations, therefore, as to the route to be pursued,
in returning home, were made in entire ignorance of the fact, that at
that time, the Black Hawk had been driven before Gens. Atkinson and
Dodge to the banks of the Mississippi, at the mouth of the Badaxe
River--where he completely intercepted all communication between the
posts of St. Peter's and Prairie du Chien.
_25th_. I held a council with the Sioux at the Agency Buildings; at
which the tribe disclaimed, by their speakers, having any connection
with the Sauk and Fox league, or having permitted any of their warriors
to join in it. They professed a readiness to furnish warriors to aid the
government in suppressing it.
On returning to my tent, I sat down and wrote to the editor of a Western
paper, as follows:--
ST. PETERS, _July 25th_, 1882.
SIR:--I arrived at this place yesterday, from an expedition through the
Chippewa country on the sources of the Mississippi, accompanied by a
detachment of troops under Lieut. Allen of the 5th Infantry. I have
traced this river to its actual source. On reaching the point to which
it had been formerly explored, I found the water in a favorable state
for ascending; and I availed myself of this circumstance to carry into
effect the desire of visiting its actual source, a point which has
continued to be problematical in our geography. Pike placed it at Leech
Lake in 1806. Gov. Cass carried it much further north, and left it at
Upper Red Cedar Lake in 1820. But it was then ascertained that its
sources were considerably north and west of that lake, which is in lat.
47 deg. 25'. I encamped the expedition, the troops and heavy baggage, at
this lake, and proceeded up the river in five small birch canoes,
capable of containing one man and his bed, in addition to the Indian and
Canadian who conducted it. The Mississippi expands into several lakes,
the largest of which is called Lac Traverse. A few miles above this
occurs the junction of its south-west and north-west branch. The former
I called the Plantagenet, and ascended it through La Salle, Marquette,
and Assawa Lakes to a small creek at the foot of the Hauteur des Terres.
From this point a portage was made over difficult ascents, and through
defiles for about six miles, when we reached the banks of Itasca Lake,
the source of the other and longer branch. To this point we transported
our canoes and baggage. It is a most beautiful and clear lake, about
seven miles long, and lying somewhat in the shape of a y. I found an
island in it, upon which I landed and encamped, and, after causing some
trees to be felled, hoisted the United States flag. I left this flag
flying, and returned down the Itascan branch to my starting point.
I found the Indians friendly, and having no apparent connection with the
movements of Black Hawk, although they are subject to an unpropitious
influence from the Hudson's Bay Company, the agents of which allure them
to carry their trade into that province. The American traders complain
of this with great reason. Many of the Chippewas visit the British posts
in Canada, and their old prejudices are kept alive in various ways; but
I was everywhere received with amity and respect.
_26th_. Having concluded my affairs at St, Peters, I determined to
return to the basin of Lake Superior, by ascending the river St. Croix
to its source, and passing across the portage of the Misakoda, or
Burntwood River, into the Fond du Lac Bay. This I accomplished with
great toil, owing to the low state of the water, in ten days; and, after
spending ten days more in traversing the lengthened shores and bays of
Lake Superior from _La Pointe_, returned to Sault St. Marie on the 14th
_Aug. 15th_. I had now accomplished the discovery of the true source of
the Mississippi River--and settled a problem which has so long remained
a subject of uncertainty in the geography of this celebrated river. If
De Soto began it (and of this there seems little question, for Narvaez
perished before reaching it), and Marquette and Joliet continued it; if
Hennepin and Pike and Cass carried these explorations higher, I, at
least, went to its remoter points, and thence traced the river to its
primary forks--ascended the one, crossed the heights of Itasca to the
other, and descended the latter in its whole length. This has been done
in a quiet way, without heralding or noise, but under the orders and at
the expense of the United States.
Letter from a mother--Cholera--Indian war--Royal Geographical
Society--Determine to leave the Sault--Death of Miss Cass--Death of Rev.
Mr. Richard--Notice of the establishment of a Methodist Mission at
the--The Sault a religious place--Botany and Natural History--New
University organized--Algic Society--Canadian boat song--Chaplains in
the army--Letter from a missionary--Affairs at Mackinack--Hazards lake
commerce--Question of the temperance reform--Dr. D. Houghton--South
Carolina resists--Gen. Jackson re-elected President.
1832. _Aug. 25th_. To clear my table of the correspondence accumulated
during my absence, and report my proceedings to government, required my
first attention. Among the matters purely personal, was a letter of
inquiry from a mother anxious to learn the fate of an apparently wayward
son (named George J. Clark). "I had a letter from him, dated 24th June,
1881, in which he stated he was about to start with you on an expedition
to the Upper Mississippi, and this is the last intelligence we have ever
had of him.
"If he went with you on that expedition, you have, probably some
information to give relative to his present condition, if alive, or of
his fate, if dead.
"Will you be kind enough to give the information desired by letter to
me, at this place (Canandaigua, N. Y.)? By so doing you will confer a
favor on a fond mother and many friends." Not a lisp had ever been heard
of such a person, at least by that name.
The whole country, it was found, had now been in commotion for a month
or more, owing to the ravages of the cholera and the Black Hawk war. The
cholera had first broken out, it appears, in the Upper Lakes, on board
the steamers Sheldon Thompson and Henry Clay, containing troops for the
war. Its ravages on board of both were fearful. One of the boats landed
several soldiers at the island of Michilimackinack, who died there. A
boatman engaged in the fur trade took the disease and died after he had
reached the Little Rapids, and another at _Point aux Pins_, at the foot
of Lake Superior. But the disease did not spread in that latitude. "We
have heard," says a correspondent (25th July), "from Chicago, that the
ravages of the cholera are tenfold worse than the scalping-knife of the
Black Hawk and his party. A great many soldiers died, while on their way
to Chicago, on board the steamers."
_27th_. The agent of the dead-letter post-office, at Washington,
transmits me a diploma of membership of the Royal Geographical Society
of London, which appears to have been originally misdirected and gone
astray to St. Mary's, Georgia. The envelope had on it the general
direction of "United States, America"--a wide place to find a man in.
_Sept. 11th_. A letter, of this date, from the head of the Department,
at Washington, leaves it optional with me, under the consolidation of
agencies, to choose my place of residence. "You can make your own choice
of residence between the Sault and Mackinack, and arrange your
subordinate offices as you think proper."
I determined to remove the seat of the agency to Mackinack next spring,
and to make this my last winter at the Sault. I have now been ten years
a resident of this place.
The most serious inroad upon my circle of friends, made by death during
my absence, was the sudden death, at Detroit, of the eldest daughter of
the Secretary of War. Miss Elizabeth Selden Cass was a young lady of
bright mental qualities, and easy, cultivated manners and deportment,
and her sudden removal, though prepared by her moral experience for the
change, must leave a blank in social circles which will be long felt
Her father writes, upon this irreparable loss: "A breach has been made
in our domestic circle which can never be repaired. I can yet hardly
realize the change. It has almost prostrated me, and I should abandon
office without hesitation were it not that a change of climate seems
indispensable to Mrs. C., and I trust she will avoid in Washington those
severe attacks to which she has been subject for the last five winters."
_12th_. Mr. Trowbridge writes: "Mr. Richard is dead. He was attacked by
a diarrhoea, and neglected it too long." Mr. R. was the Catholic priest
at Detroit, and as such has been a prominent man in the territory for
many years. He was elected Delegate to Congress in 1824, I think, and
served two years in that capacity. I once heard him preach nearly two
hours on the real presence. He finally said, "that if this doctrine was
not true, Jesus Christ must be a fool." These, I think, were the precise
words. When attending, by rotation, as one of the chaplains for the
Legislative Council while I was a member, he used to pray very shrewdly
"that the legislators might make laws for the people and not for
themselves." He spoke English in a broken manner and with a false
accent, which often gave interest to what he said when the matter was
not otherwise remarkable.
_22d_. Rev. John Clark, of Northville, Montgomery Co., N.Y., of the
Methodist Connection, writes: "Should it please Divine Providence, I
hope to be at your place in May or June next, for the purpose of opening
a permanent mission and school among the Chippewas at such place, and as
early as may be advisable."
_27th_. Rev. W. T. Boutwell, of the A. B. Commissioners for Foreign
Missions, now at La Pointe, Lake Superior, writes: "I could not, to a
degree, help entering into all your anxieties about the cholera, which
reports were calculated to beget, but rejoice, not less than yourself,
that the Lord has spared those who are dear to us both. My fears, I
rejoice to say, have not been realized, in relation to my friends at
Mackinack and the Sault, when I heard of the disease actually existing
at Mackinack. Were it not that the Lord is righteous and knoweth them
that are his, the righteous even might fear and tremble, when judgments
are abroad in the land.
"I was happy indeed to learn that you remain at the Sault, the present
winter. Happy for brother Porter's sake, and for the sake of those whose
hands you may and will strengthen, and hearts encourage. I never think
of the Sault but I wish myself there. 'It is now a happy spot--a place
favored of heaven,' said one of my Mackinack friends to me once in
conversation; 'I once felt as though I could never see that place, as I
always associated with it everything wicked, but now I should love to go
there--the Lord is there.'"
_Oct. 5th_. Dr. Torrey writes from N.Y.: "I rejoice to learn that you
have returned in safety from your fatiguing and perilous journey to the
north-west. Dr. Houghton wrote me a letter which I received a few days
ago, dated Sault de St. Marie, stating the general results of the
expedition, but I have read, with great satisfaction, the account which
was published in the _Detroit Journal_ of Sept. 26th. A kind Providence
has preserved you during another absence, and I hope He will cause the
results of your labors to prove a blessing to our Red brethren, as well
as the United States at large."
"Dr. Houghton sent me some of the more interesting plants which he
brought with him last year, but he said the best part of your
collections were destroyed by getting wet.
"By all means send Mr. Cooper your shells. He knows more about fresh
water shells than any naturalist in New York. By the way, have you seen
Mr. Lea's splendid monograph (with colored plates) of Unios, in the
_Transactions of the American Philosophical Society?"_
"Are we to have a narrative of the two expeditions in print? I hope you
consent to publish, and let us have an appendix containing descriptions
of the objects in natural history.
"You have heard, perhaps, something about the University of the City of
New York, which was planned about two years ago. It went into operation
a few days ago, under the most favorable prospects. The council have
given me a place in it (Prof. Chem. Bot. and Mineralogy), the duties of
which I can discharge in addition to those which I attend to in the
medical college, as the latter occupies only four months in the year."
About the middle of September I embarked at the Sault for Detroit, for
the purpose chiefly of meeting the Secretary of War--taking with me thus
far, my little sister Anna Maria, on her way to school at Hadley, in
Massachusetts. While at Detroit, several meetings of benevolent
individuals were held, and the constitution of the Algic Society was
signed by many gentlemen of standing and note, and an election of
officers made. Having been honored with the presidency, I delivered a
brief address at one of these meetings. This, together with the
following resolutions, which were passed at the same time, indicate the
contemplated mode of action. It was not intended to be exclusively a
missionary or educational society, but also, to collect scientific and
statistical information essential to both objects, and to offer
facilities to laborers on the frontiers, and answer inquiries made by
agents authorized by the General Boards from the old States. The effort
was appreciated and warmly approved by the friends of missions and
humanity; but it required great and continual personal efforts to enlist
a sufficient number of persons in the true objects, and to keep their
minds alive in the work. It demanded, in fact, a kind of literary
research, which it is always difficult to command on the frontiers. To
act, and not to pursue the quiet paths of study, is the tendency of the
[Footnote 63: _Resolved_, That the thanks of the society be presented to
Henry R. Schoolcraft, Esq., for the valuable introductory remarks
offered by him, and that he be requested to furnish a copy of the same
_Resolved_, That the Domestic Secretary, be directed to prepare and
submit for the approbation of the Official Board, a Circular, to be
addressed to such persons as have been elected members of this society,
and others, setting forth its objects, its organization, constitution,
and initial proceedings, which circular, when so prepared, shall be
printed for the purpose of distribution.
_Resolved_, That the Official Board be directed to prepare a succinct
Temperance and Peace Circular, suited to the wants and situation of the
North-western Tribes, to be addressed, through the intervention of the
Hon. the Secretary of War, to the Agents of the Government and Officers
commanding posts on the frontiers, and also to persons engaged in the
fur trade; to travelers, and to gentlemen residing in the country,
requesting their aid in spreading its influence.
_Resolved_, That it is expedient for this society to procure an exact
statistical account of the names, numbers and location of the different
bands of Indians, of the Algonquin stock, now living within the limits
of the United States:--also, the number of missionaries who are now
amongst them, and the extent of the field of labor which they present.
_Resolved_, That this society will aid in sending a winter express to
the missionaries who are now stationed near the western extremity of
_Resolved_, That the members of this society residing at Sault St. Marie
and at Michilimackinack, shall constitute a standing committee of this
society, during the ensuing year, with power to meet for the transaction
of business, and shall report from time to time, such measures as they
may have adopted to promote the objects of this institution: which
proceedings shall be submitted to the society at any stated or special
meeting of the same, and if approved by them, shall be entered on the
records of the society.
_Resolved_, That the President of this society be requested to deliver,
at such time as shall be convenient to himself, a course of Lectures on
the Grammatical construction of the Algonquin language, as spoken by the
North-Western Tribes, and to procure, from living and authentic sources,
a full and complete Lexicon of that language, for the use of
_Resolved_, That the Rev. Beriah Green, of the Western Reserve College,
be requested to deliver an address before the society at its next annual
meeting: and, that Henry R. Schoolcraft, Esq., be requested to deliver a
poem on the Indian Character, at the same meeting.
_Resolved_, That the first anniversary of this society be held at
Detroit, on the second Thursday of October, A. D. 1833.]
I returned to St. Mary's about the middle of October. It was a proof of
the care and precision with which my friends looked out for me, that I
was met by my "_canoe-elege"_ with a French crew and flag flying at the
Detour, before the vessel had dropped anchor, so that I went up the
river with the accustomed gayety of a song. These French songs have been
often alluded to. One of them, the measure of which is adapted, by its
music, to the short stroke of the paddle, is given below.
[Footnote 64: Omitted.]
_15th_. Dr. Peters, Secretary of Home Missions, writes to me, from on
board a steamboat on Lake Erie, proposing a plan for bringing the
subject of chaplaincies in the army to the notice of the Secretary
A letter from a missionary (Boutwell) at La Pointe, L.S., says: "I
endeavor daily to do something at the language. But imagine for one
moment, what you could do with a boy (his interpreter) who knows neither
English, French nor Indian, and yet is in the habit of mangling all.
Still I am satisfied he is the best Brother F. could send, though but
_one_ remove from none. Of one thing I am determined, that if I cannot
teach him English, I can to cut bushes. However, I find, by daily
visiting the lodges, that I may retain, and probably add a little now
and then. I find there is a trifling difference between the language
here, and as spoken at the Sault. The difference consists principally in
the accent. I find the interchangeables, if possible, more irregular
here than there.
"The old chief (Pezhiki) is very pleasant and kind. I find him a very
good standard for testing accents. His enunciation is very distinct."
_25th_. The sub-agent in charge at Mackinack writes: "The schooner
'White Pigeon' came in this afternoon from Green Bay, having on board
Major Fowle's Company. She is to sail early to-morrow morning for
"The Indians appear satisfied with their treatment at this office, and
it has been observed by them, that more work has been done for them
since my arrival here than Colonel B. did for them in one year."
His Excellency, Gov. Porter, called here (on his way to Green Bay) and
examined the buildings and rooms of the agency. Casting a hasty look, he
observed that the building would bring an income of four or five hundred
dollars annually, were it at Detroit, for rent. He was of opinion that
the outer steps required repairs, &c.
"Gen. Brook sailed on board the 'Black Hawk' for Green Bay on Sabbath
last, accompanied by Lieut. Stockton, and Messrs. Dousman, Abbott, and
King. Major Thomson (who relieves him) arrived on Monday last, with the
whole of his troops and the officers under his command, Captain Cobbs,
Lieut. Gallagher, and Lieut. Patten.
"Lieut. Gallagher joined us at our evening social prayer meeting last
night, and it was really cheering and reviving to hear him pray. He is
gifted with talent and abilities, and withal meekness and humility."
_Nov. 1st_. The same agent writes: "I forward to you the chief
Shaubowayway's map of that section of the country lying between the
Detour and Point St. Ignace, including all the islands on that coast. I
am now waiting for the chief to proceed to Chenos as a guide, to enable
us to strike in a straight line from thence to Muddy Lake River. Messrs.
David Stuart and Mitchell will accompany me."
_19th_. Mr. Johnston writes: "I volunteered my services to accompany Mr.
Ferry to get off the partial wreck of the mission schooner 'Supply,'
near the second entrance of the Chenos, eighteen miles from this. Major
Thompson furnished a detachment of fifteen men under Captain Cobbs.
George Dousman went also with three of the Company's men. Four days'
efforts were cheerfully rendered, and the vessel saved and brought into
_25th_. As commerce increases, and stretches out her Briarean hands into
the stormy roads and bays of these heretofore uninhabited lakes, losses
from wrecks annually redouble. And the want of light-houses, buoys, and
harbors is more strongly shown. James Abbott, a licensed trader, was
cast ashore by the tempests of Lake Superior, at La Pointe, and, being
unable to proceed to his designated post, was obliged to winter there.
He gave out his credits, and spread his men, therefore, in another
man's district. The agent at Mackinack (E. Stuart) writes, complaining
of, and requesting me to interpose in the matter, so as "to confine his
trade to such limits as may be equitable to all." It would be impossible
to foresee such accidents, and appears almost equally so to correct the
irregularities, now that they are done. The difficulty seems rather to
have been the employment of a clerk, whose action the Company could not
_29th_. Mr. B. E. Stickney, of Vistula (now Toledo), writes: "A few days
ago I received from the author, with which I was much pleased, 'an
Address before the Chippewa County Temperance Society on the Influence
of Ardent Spirits on the Condition of the North American Indians.' We
conceived it to be the most fortunate effort of your pen upon the
greatest subject. While we have so much reason to approve, we hope you
will permit us to be frank. We conceive that, although you have been
more cautious than is common, in touching sectarianism, yet, if you had
not named, or made any kind of allusion to any religious sect,
Christian, Jew, Pagan, or Mohammedan, you would have produced more
effect. There are many individuals who neither touch, taste, nor handle
this most dangerous of all poisons, who yet refuse to join in the
general effort to destroy, prevent the use, or furnish an antidote,
because they conceive that the sectarian poison is not an inferior evil,
unless it may, perhaps, be so to the use of alcohol."
The true, but concealed, objection of this class of non-concurrents in
the cause is not, it is apprehended to "sectarianism," _per se,_ or in
any other sense than that it is an evidence of practical
Christianity--of morals and axioms based on the teachings of the great
Founder of the system--of a belief in a moral accountability to give all
influence possessed to advance the adoption of its maxims among men--in
fine, of a living, constant, undying faith, not only in the truth of
these maxims, but in the divinity of the sublime UTTERER of them.
_Dec. 10th_. Dr. Houghton, my companion in two expeditions into the
Indian country, writes from Detroit: "You will undoubtedly be a little
surprised to learn that I am now in Detroit, but probably not more than
I am in being here. My passage through Lake Huron was tedious beyond
endurance; and so long was I detained in consequence of it, that it
became useless for me to proceed to New York. Under these circumstances,
after having visited Fredonia, I determined to engage in the practice
of my profession, in this place, at least until spring. It is only these
three days since I arrived here and I am not yet completely settled, but
probably will be in a few days."
[Here are the initial motives of a man who became a permanent and noted
citizen of the territory, and engaged with great ardor in exploring its
physical geography and resources. For two years, he was intimately
associated with me; and I saw him under various circumstances of fatigue
and trial in the wilderness, but always preserving his equanimity and
cheerfulness. He was a zealous botanist, and a discriminating geologist.
Assiduous and temperate, an accurate observer of phenomena, he
accumulated facts in the physical history of the country which
continually increased the knowledge of its features and character. He
was the means of connecting geological observations with the linear
surveys of the General Land Office, and had been several years engaged
on the geological survey of Michigan, when the melancholy event of his
death, in 1846, in a storm on Lake Superior, was announced.]
_12th_. E.A. Brush, Esq., of Detroit, writes: "Everybody--not here only,
but through the Union--seems to think with just foreboding of the result
of the measures taken by South Carolina. Their convention have
determined to resist, after the first day of (I think) February.
"Gov. Cass's family are well, but he has not been heard from personally
since he left here. He is too much occupied, I suppose, with the affairs
of his department, at the opening of the session. Of course, you know
that General Jackson and Van Buren are in."
An Indian woman builds a church--Conchology--South Carolina prepares to
resist the revenue laws--Moral affairs--Geography--Botany--Chippewas and
Sioux--A native evangelist in John Sunday--His letter in English; its
philological value--The plural pronoun _we_--An Indian battle--Political
affairs--South Carolina affairs--Tariff compromise of Mr. Clay--Algic
Society; it employs native evangelists--Plan of visiting
Europe--President's tour--History of Detroit--Fresh-water shells--Lake
1833. _Jan. 1st_. A remarkable thing recently transpired. Mrs. Susan
Johnston, a widow--an Indian woman by father and mother--built a church
for the Presbyterian congregation at this place. The building, which is
neat and plain, without a steeple, was finished early in the fall, and
has been occupied this season for preaching, lectures, &c. Certainly, on
the assumption of theories, there is nothing predicted against the
descendants of Shem ministering in good things to those of Japhet; but
it is an instance, the like of which I doubt whether there has happened
since the Discovery. The translation of the Indian name of this female
is Woman of the Green Valley; or, according to the polysyllabical system
of her people, O-she-wush-ko-da-wa-qua.
_2d_. Mr. John M. Earle, of Worcester, Mass., solicits contributions to
his collection of fresh-water shells. "I have a higher object in view,"
he remarks, "than the mere making of a collection--viz., doing what I
can to ascertain what new species remain undescribed, and what ones of
those already described may be only varieties of others; and, in fine,
by a careful examination of a large number of shells, brought together
from various localities, to fix, more accurately than it has heretofore
been done, the nomenclature of the several genera and species, and so
particularly to define their specific characteristics as to leave little
doubt on the subject. The great variety of our fresh-water shells,
exceeding that of any other country, seems to require something of this
kind, in addition to the valuable labors of Say, Barnes, Lea, and
others, who, although they have done much, have yet left much to be done
by others, and have made some mistakes which require rectifying."
_14th_. Mr. Trowbridge writes from Detroit: "The period intervening
since your last visit to this place has been an eventful one to the
nation. South Carolina, driven on by a few infatuated men, has made a
bold effort to shake off the bonds of Union and Federal Law, and, to the
minds of some in whom you and I repose the utmost confidence, a happy
government seems to totter on the brink of dissolution. It is a long
story, and the papers will tell you all. God grant that the impending
evil may be averted, and that the moral and religious improvement of
this government may not be retarded by civil war." It is thought that
this event, and the course taken by the President, will produce a great
reaction in his favor, and that he will be supported by his old
political opponents. The governor is much occupied. It is supposed the
proclamation is from his pen.
_18th_. M. Merrill announces the opening of an infant school, in which
he is to be assisted by Mrs. Merrill, on Monday next.
_21st_. Rev. J. Porter, pastor of the Presbyterian Church, reports to
the Algic Society, that there is but little in the present state of
religion here that is propitious. "Of the little church gathered here
during the last year, ten persons are absent, scattered wildly through
our land. There now remain twenty-six or twenty-eight communicants.
These seem, in a measure, discouraged by the present indifference. The
recent apparent conversion of three or four soldiers, and the increasing
interest in their prayer-meetings and Bible class, give us some promise.
The Sabbath School, taught entirely by members of the church, is now in
a state of pleasing prosperity. And the infant school, lately organized
under the direction of an admirably qualified teacher, promises to
gratify the hearts of parents."
_22d_. The geography of the line of country between Sault St. Marie and
the shores of Lake Huron, opposite to the island of Mackinack, is a
perfect terra incognita. It has been passed in the winter only on snow
shoes. The distance in a direct line from N.E. to S.W. is about forty
or forty-five miles. It is about double that distance by the St. Mary's
River and Lake Huron--which is and has been the ordinary route, from
the earliest French days, and for uncounted centuries before. Mr. G.
Johnston, who has just passed it, with Indian guides on snow shoes,
writes: "I reached this place at half-past twelve this day, after
experiencing great fatigue, caused by a heavy fall of snow and the river
rising. I inclose herein a rough sketched map of the region through
which I passed, that is, from Lake Superior to Lake Huron in a direct
"The banks of the Pe-ke-sa-we-see, which we ascended, are elevated and
pretty uniform. From its mouth to the first fork, is a growth of cedar,
on either bank, intermixed with hemlock, pine, birch, and a few
scattered maples. Thence to the third fork, denoted on the map, the
growth is exclusively pine and fir. This river is sluggish and deep, and
is navigable for boats of ten to fifteen tons burden, without any
obstruction to the third forks. Its width is uniform, about sixty to
seventy feet wide.
"From this point to Pine River of Lake Huron, is invariably level,
gently rising to a maple ridge, and susceptible of a road, to be cut
"The banks of Pine River are very high. The river we found open in many
places, indicating rapids. It is obstructed in many places with drift
wood. The pine ridge, on either bank, indicates a vigorous growth of the
handsomest pine trees I ever beheld. The water marks are high--say ten
to twelve feet, owing to the spring freshets.
"I reached the mouth of the river on the Sabbath, and encamped, which
gave the Methodist Indian an opportunity of revealing God's Holy Word to
Cacogish's band, consisting of thirty souls. We were very kindly
received, and supplied with an abundance of food--hares, partridges,
trout, pork, corn and flour. We had clean and new mats to sleep on."
_Feb. 4th_. The American Lyceum at New York invite me, by a letter from
their Secretary, to prepare an essay on the subject of educating in
_6th_. Dr. John Torrey, of N.Y., writes on the eve of his embarkation
for Europe: "I shall take with me all very rare and doubtful plants, for
examination and comparison with the celebrated herbaria of Europe.
"Your boxes and packages of specimens must have been detained on the
way by the closing of the (N. Y.) canal, as I have as yet received
nothing from you. The plan of your proposed narrative I like much, and I
hope the work will be given to the public as early as possible. Dr.
Houghton did not come to New York, but has settled himself (as you
doubtless know) at Detroit."
_10th_. Lyman M. Warren writes from Lake Superior: "Our country at
present is in a very unsettled state, caused by the unhappy wars between
the Sioux and Chippewas. The latter have been defeated on Rum River--six
men and one woman killed. All our Chippewas are looking to you for
protection, as they consider themselves wronged by the Sioux, the latter
being, and constantly hunting within the Chippewa territory. I am afraid
that a very extensive war will commence the ensuing summer, through this
region, and the whole upper country, if some effectual method is not
adopted to stop it."
This war has all the bitterness of a war of races--it is the great
Algonquin family against the wide-spread Dacota stock--the one powerful
in the east, the other equally so in the west. And the measures to be
adopted to restrain it, and to curb the young warriors on both sides,
who pant for fame and scalps, must ever remain, to a great extent,
ineffective and temporary, so long as they are not backed up by strong
lines of military posts. Mr. Calhoun was right in his policy of 1820.
The Rev. Mr. Boutwell writes from the same region: "We rejoice that you
enter so fully into our views and feelings relative to the intellectual
and moral improvement of the Indians, and rest assured we can most
heartily unite with you in bidding God speed, to such as are willing to
go and do them good."
_14th_. John Sunday, a Chippewa evangelist from Upper Canada among the
Chippewas of Lake Superior, writes from the Bay of Keweena, where he is
stationed during the winter:--
"I received your kind letter. I undersand you--you want here the Indians
from this place. I will tell you what to the Indians doing. They
worshiped Idol God. They make God their own. I undersand Mr. D., he told
all Indians not going to hear the word of God. So the Indians he
believed him. He tell the Indians do worship your own way. Your will get
heaven quick is us. So the Indians they do not care to hear the word
"But some willing to hear preaching. One family they love to come the
meeting. That Indian, by and by, he got ligion. He is happy now in his
heart. After he got ligion that Indian say, Indian ligion not good. I
have been worship Idol god many years. He never make happy. Now I know
Jesus. His ligion is good, because I feel it in my heart. I say white
people ligion very good. That Indian he can say all in Lord's prayer and
ten commandments, and apostle creed by heart. Perhaps you know him. His
name is Shah-wau-ne-noo-tin.
"I never forget your kindness to me. I thing I shall stay here till the
May. I want it to do what the Lord say."
Aside from his teaching among the Chippewas, which was unanswerably
effective, this letter is of the highest consequence to philology, as
its variations from the rules of English syntax and orthography, denote
some of the leading principles of aboriginal construction, as they have
been revealed to me by the study of the Indian language. In truth he
uses the Indian language to a considerable extent, according to the
principles of the Chippewa syntax.
Thus it is perceived from the letter, which is printed verbatim--
1. That the letter _t_ is not uttered when standing between a consonant
and vowel, as in "understand."
2. The want and misuse of the prepositions _of, from_, and _to_.
3. The use of the participial form of the verb for the indicative.
4. The use of pronouns immediately after nouns to which they refer.
5. The interchange of _d_ for _t_, and _g_ for _k_, as in _do_ for _to_,
and "_thing_" for _think_.
6. The suppression of the sound of _r_ altogether, as heard in _re_, and
7. Confounding the perfect past with the present tense.
8. The misuse of the indefinite article, which is wanting, in the
9. The habitual non-use of the imperative mood.
10. The transitive character of verbs requiring _objective_ inflections,
for the nominative, &c.
11. The absence of simple possessives.
12. The want of the auxiliary verbs _have, are, is_, &c.
John Sunday came to St. Mary's in the autumn of 1832. His prayers and
exhortatory teaching completely non-plussed the Chippewas. They heard
him refute all their arguments in their own language. He had, but a
short time before, been one like themselves--a Manito worshiper, an
idler, a drunkard. He produced a great sensation among them, and
overthrew the loose fabric of their theology and mythology with a strong
hand. I had never before heard the Chippewa language applied to
religion, and listened with great interest to catch his phrases. I was
anxious to hear how he would get along in the use of the dual pronoun
_we_, as applied to inclusive and exclusive persons. He spoke at once of
the affections as they exist between a father and his children, and
addressed the Deity at all times as Nosa, which is the term for my
father. He thus made God the inclusive head of every family, and brushed
away the whole cobweb system of imaginary spirits, of the native
Jossakeed, Medas, and Wabanos.
_March 7th_. "My heart was made glad," writes Mr. Boutwell from Lake
Superior, "that Providence directed you to Detroit at a season so
timely, bringing you into contact with the great and the good--giving
you an opportunity of laying before them facts relative to the condition
of the Indians, which eventuated in so much good. We do indeed rejoice
in the formation of the 'Algic Society,' which is, I trust, the
harbinger of great and extensive blessings to this poor and
_8th_. Mr. L. M. Warren reports from La Pointe, at the head of Lake
Superior: "Since my last, Mr. Ayer has arrived from Sandy Lake. He
reports that there have been two war parties sent out against the Sioux,
by the Sandy Lake Band, thirty or forty men each, without accomplishing
anything. Afterwards a third party of sixty men assembled and went out
under the command of Songegomik--a young chief of distinguished
character of the Sandy Lake Band. They discovered a Sioux camp of
nineteen lodges, and succeeded in approaching them before daylight
undiscovered, until they reached, in the form of a circle, within ten
yards. They then opened a tremendous fire, and, as fast as the Sioux
attempted to come from their lodges, they were shot dead, The yelling of
Indians, screaming of women, and crying of children were distressing.
One Sioux escaped unhurt, and notified a neighboring camp. Their
approach to the assistance of their friends was ascertained by a distant
firing of guns. The Chippewas, who by this time had exhausted their
ammunition, began, and effected a retreat, leaving nineteen of their
enemy dead, and forty wounded. This victory was achieved without the
loss of a man on the part of the Chippewas.
"Since that battle was fought, a body of one hundred Sioux have attacked
a fortified camp of the Mille Lac and Snake River band, and killed nine
men and one woman."
_18th_. Mr. Trowbridge writes from Detroit: "We have just heard of the
adjournment of Congress; a new tariff has been passed, together with a
law empowering the President to enforce the collection of duties by
calling in aid the force of the Union. These bills are accompanied by
Mr. Clay's Law of Compromise, providing for the gradual reduction of
duties to a revenue standard. So that the dreaded Carolina question
will, it is supposed, blow over, leaving the Union as it was. The great
men, too, who have been on opposite sides of this question, have shaken
hands at parting, and this is looked upon as another auspicious sign.
"The release of the missionaries in Georgia, having settled that
disagreeable and disgraceful affair to the State, although not done with
that magnanimity which ought to have characterized the proceeding,
leaves no general question at issue, but the Indian question; and from
the prudent measures of government in that regard, it is to be hoped
that that also will be, at length, amicably arranged.
"I mention these facts because I am told that no newspapers will be sent
to the upper country."
_18th_. Lieut. J. Allen, U.S.A., way topographer on the recent
expedition, sends me maps of Leech Lake, Cass Lake, and Itasca Lake, to
be used in my narrative of the journey to the source of the Mississippi
River. Correspondents appear solicitous for a published account of this
expedition, and frequently allude to it, and to the opportunity it gave
for extending our knowledge of the geology and natural history of
_April 8th_. Dr. J.B. Crawe, of Waterton, N.Y., proposes an interchange
of specimens in several departments of science. Hon. Micah Sterling, of
the same place, commends to my notice Dr. Richard Clark, who is ordered
on this frontier, as a "young man of merit and respectability." My
correspondence with naturalists, in all parts of the Union, and my list
of exchanges, had, indeed, for some years been large and active, and
was by no means diminished since my last two expeditions. But new
sympathies have been awakened, particularly during the last two years,
with philanthropists and Christians, which added greatly to the number
of my correspondents, without taking from its gratifications.
_12th_. Rev. Ansel R. Clark of Hudson, Ohio, an agent of the Education
Society, writes on the importance of that cause, on the state and
prospects of American society, the spread of vital morals in
neighborhoods on the great line of the frontiers, Indian civilization,
&c. In connection with the last topic, he acknowledges the receipt of
the proceedings published by the Algic Society, and expresses his
interest in its objects.
This society, by its standing committee here, received Elder John Sunday
in the autumn, furnished him with lodgings while at the place, and an
outfit for his missions to the Indians at Keweena Bay in Lake Superior.
It also furnished John Cabeach and John Otanchey--all converted
Chippewas from the vicinity of Toronto, U.C., with the means of
practical teaching and traveling among various bands of the Northern
Chippewas. It sent an express in the month of January to La Pointe,
L.S., to communicate with the mission family there, with their papers,
letters, &c. Regular monthly meetings of the St. Mary's committee were
held, and the proceedings denote the collection of much information of
high interest to the cause of the red man.
_15th_. I was anxious now to extend the sphere of my observation to
Europe. I had been engaged twelve consecutive years out of a period of
fifteen (omitting 1823, 1828, 1829 and 1830) in journeys chiefly in the
great Valley of the Mississippi, the vast flanks of the Rocky Mountains,
the Upper Lakes, and the north-western frontiers. And I began to sigh for
a prospect of older countries and institutions. The time seemed
favorable, in my mind, for such a movement, and I wrote to a friend high
in influence at Washington, on the subject. In a reply of this date, he
throws, with adroitness, cold water on the subject. He weighs matters in
scales which will only keep their equipoise at the place of the seat of
government; and, if I may say so, require their equipoise to be kept up
by casting on the golden weights of political expediency. Like those
seemingly mysterious charms which produce the variations in the
compass, the effects are always instantly visible, we see the dip and
intensity of the needle, while the causes are in great measure out
A correspondent at Washington writes--"The President" talks of a tour to
the East. He will probably leave here about the last of May. He will go
to Portland, then through New Hampshire and Vermont to Lake Champlain,
and thence through the western part of New York to Buffalo. This was
originally the programme of Gen. Jackson's tour to New England in 1833.
_16th_. Charles Cleland, Esq., of Detroit, writes: "My partner, Franklin
Sawyer, Jr., has, for some months past, been collecting materials to
enable him to publish a history of Detroit, and he has this moment
requested me to solicit your friendly aid. You might have in your
possession many interesting facts, and much information which might give
great value to the work."
The true history of Detroit lies scattered abroad in the public archives
of Paris and London, and in the Catholic College of Quebec. It is
inseparable in a measure, not only from the history of Michigan, but
_17th_. George L. Whitney, of Detroit, writes me respecting the printing
of the narrative of my expedition to Itasca Lake.
_19th_. Rev. John Clark writes from New York, that the Methodist Society
have determined to establish a mission among the Chippewas at Sault St.
Marie--that he is pleased to hear the "native speakers" (Sunday, Cabeach
and Tanchay) have wintered in the county, and that he expects to reach
St. Mary's by the 10th of June.
_20th_. Dr. D. Houghton transmits from Detroit, a map necessary to
illustrate my narrative of the expedition to Itasca Lake.
_May 9th_. Wm. Cooper, of New York, undertakes to describe the
collection of fresh-water shells made on the recent expedition. "You are
not, perhaps, aware," he adds, "that Dr. Torrey is gone to Europe. He
sailed rather unexpectedly in February, and will be absent until next
October. I hope this will not be too great a delay for you, as it would
be difficult to find another botanist equally capable of describing
"Dr. Dekay is in New York at present, and I have no doubt will
contribute his assistance in the examination of your collection."
Major H. Whiting remarks: "The lake here is about two feet lower than
it was at this time the last year. How is the level with you? I have the
cause fixed on record this time. _Mem_.--Not much snow during the
winter, and a dry, a very dry spring--only one brief rain during the
months of March and April. We must watch over these things and fix data,
which will show that the theorizing of the past, has sprung mostly from
the barrenness of observation.
"Emigration is settling again this way, as if the East were in love with
the West. I am not surprised at it. An admirer of the picturesque might
like the hills of the former, but a farmer would prefer to see them lie
down on one of our prairies--such as Prairie Rond. I found out all their
fascination when lately on a visit to the St. Joseph's country."
_20th_. I had now performed my last labor at St. Mary's--which was the
preparation of my narrative of the expedition to Itasca Lake. I looked,
in parting, with fond regret at the trees I had planted, the house I had
built, the walks I had constructed, the garden I had cultivated, the
meadow lands I had reclaimed from the tangled forest, and the wide and
noble prospects which surrounded Elmwood. All was to be left--and I only
waited for a suitable vessel to embark, bag and baggage, for the sacred
island whose formal polysyllables had formed the dread of my spelling
days at school--Michilimackinack.
Earliest point of French occupancy in the area of the Upper
Lakes--Removal of my residence from the Sault St. Marie to the island of
Michilimackinack--Trip to New York--Its objects--American Philosophical
Society--Michilimackinack; its etymology--The rage for investment in
western lands begins--Traditions of Saganosh--Of Porlier--Of
Perrault--Of Captain Thorn--Of the chief, Old Wing--Of Mudjekewis, of
Thunder Bay--Character of Indian tradition respecting the massacre at
old Fort Mackinack in 1763.
1833. _June 1st_. The cascades, or rapids of _Sault de Ste. Marie_,
which occur at the point of the sinking of the water level between Lakes
Superior and Huron, were, it seems, first visited, under the French
government, by Charles Raumbault, in 1641. It appears to have been one
of the earliest points occupied. In 1668, Claude D'Ablon and James
Marquette established there the mission of St. Mary--since which, the
place and the rapids have borne that name.
I had been a member of the first exploring expedition which the U.S.
Government sent into that region in 1820. Troops landed here to occupy
it in 1822, on which occasion I was entrusted by the President, with the
management of Indian affairs. I had now lived almost eleven years at
this ancient and remote point of settlement, which is at the foot of the
geological basin of Lake Superior--a period which, aside from official
duties, was, in truth, devoted to the study of the history, customs, and
languages of the Indians. These years are consecrated in my memory as a
period of intellectual enjoyment, and of profound and pleasing seclusion
from the world. It was not without deep regret that I quitted long
cherished scenes, abounding in the wild magnificence of nature, and went
back one step into the area of the noisy world, for it was impressed on
my mind, that I should never find a theatre of equal repose, and one so
well adapted to my simple and domestic tastes and habits. For I left
here in the precincts of Elmwood, a beautiful seat, which I had adorned
with trees of my own planting, which abounded in every convenience and
comfort, and commanded one of the most magnificent prospects in
The change seemed, however, to flow naturally from the development of
events. The decision once made, I only waited the entrance into the
straits of a first class schooner, which could be chartered to take my
collections in natural history, books, and furniture--all which were
embarked, with my family, on board the schooner "Mariner" the last week
in May. Captain Fowle (who met a melancholy fate many years afterwards,
while a Lieutenant-Colonel on board the steamer "Moselle" on the Ohio)
had been relieved, as commanding officer of the post, at the same time,
and embarked on board the same vessel with his family. We had a pleasant
passage out of the river and up the lake, until reaching the harbor of
Mackinack, which we entered early on the morning of the 27th of May.
Coming in with an easterly wind, which blows directly into it, the
vessel pitched badly at anchor, causing sea-sickness, and the rain
falling at the same time. As soon as it could be done, I took Mrs. S.
and the children and servants in the ship's yawl, and we soon stood on
terra firma, and found ourselves at ease in the rural and picturesque
grounds and domicil of the U.S. Agency, overhung, as it is, by
impending cliffs, and commanding one of the most pleasing and
captivating views of lake scenery. Here the great whirl of lake commerce
from Buffalo to Chicago, continually passed. The picturesque canoe of
the Indian was constantly gliding, and the footsteps of visitors were
frequently seen to tread in haste the "sacred island," rendering it a
point of continual contact with the busy world. Emigrants of every
class, agog for new El Dorados in the West, eager merchants prudently
looking to their interests in the great area of migration, domestic and
foreign visitors, with note-book in hand, and some valetudinarians,
hoping in the benefits of a pure air and "white fish"--these constantly
filled the harbor, and constituted the ever-moving panorama of our
The necessary repairs to the buildings were not yet completed, when I
embarked about the 10th of June for New York, in order to fall in with
the President's cortege to the East. About seven weeks were devoted to
this excursion, during which I made an arrangement with the Harpers to
publish my narrative of the expedition to Itasca Lake, the printing to
be done at Detroit.
_July 19th_. The American Philosophical Society at Philadelphia informs
me of my election as a member.
_28th_. I returned to Michilimackinack from my excursion to New York,
and began to inquire of aged persons, white and red, as they visited the
office, into the local traditions of the place.
There is a hiatus in the history of the island, extending from 1763, the
date of the massacre of the British garrison on the mainland, to about
1780, the probable date of the removal of the post from the apex of the
peninsula (Peekwutinong of the Indians) to the island.
The name of the place is pronounced Mish-i-nim-auk-in-ong, by the
Indians, The term _mishi_, as heard in _mishipishiu_, panther, and
_mishigenabik_, a gigantic serpent of fabled notoriety, signifies
_great; nim_, appears to be derived from _nimi_, to dance, and _auk_
from _autig_, tree or standing object; _ong_ is the common termination
for locality, the vowels _i_ (second and fifth syllable) being brought
into the compound word as connectives. In a language which separates all
matter, the whole creation, in fact, into two classes of nouns--deemed
animates and inanimates--the distinctions of gender are lost, so far as
the laws of syntax are involved. It is necessary only to speak of
objects as possessing and wanting vitality, to communicate to them the
property named, whether it in reality possesses it in nature or not. For
this purpose words which lack it in their penultimate syllables, take
the consonant _n_ to make their plurals for inanimates, and _g_ for
animates. By this simple method, the whole inanimate creation--woods,
trees, rocks, clouds, waters, &c.--is clothed at will with life, or the
opposite class of objects are shorn of it, which enables the speaker,
whose mind is imbued with his peculiar mythology and necromancy, to
create a spiritual world around him. In this creation it is known to all
who have investigated the subject, that the Indian mind has exercised
its ingenuity, by creating classes and species of spirits, of all
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