Part 12 out of 15
veracity, and I have myself seen one of them in pursuit of small birds.
"There is a small species of sparrow, that inhabits the forests near the
settlements in this region, of a very interesting character. It matters
not how intense the cold, it never deserts our woods, but remains
hunting for insects in the cavities and among the branches of the trees
with the most assiduous caution. They hatch their young in holes, which
they perforate in decayed trees with their sharp bills. If a person
happens to come near their nests during the time of incubation, it
vociferates most strenuously against the intrusion, while its feathers
expand, its eyes sparkle with rage, and it darts from branch to branch
with the most astonishing rapidity. It is frequently to be seen near our
houses in the winter, and in the most severe and inclement weather they
will tend, by their chirping and gambols, to amuse and enliven our
minds, while at the same time they afford us an entertaining study.
"Their wants are very small. If a piece of meat, weighing two or three
pounds, is hung against some tree or fence near to our houses in the
winter, we can have the pleasure of witnessing them merrily banqueting
on it every day for several weeks.
"Sandpipers of the smaller kinds can swim on the surface of the water,
dive beneath and remain under it with the same facility as the duck and
other aquatic birds, although they do not make use of this property
unless driven to extremity. This fact I can pledge my veracity on from
personal observation. They need not use this power of swimming for the
purpose of procuring food, as the substances on which they subsist are
found on the margin of the water."
Value of the equivalent territory granted to Michigan, by
Congress, for the disputed Ohio boundary--Rapid improvement of
Michigan--Allegan--Indian legend--Baptism and death of Kagoosh, a very
aged chief at St. Mary's--New system of writing Indian, proposed by Mr.
Nash--Indian names for new towns--A Bishop's notion of the reason for
applying to Government for education funds under Indian treaties--Mr.
Gallatin's paper on the Indians--The temperance movement.
_1836. Oct. 27th_. I embarked this day, at Michilimackinack, with my
family, for Detroit, to assume the duties of the superintendency at that
point. Nothing, demanding notice, occurred on the passage; we reached
our destination on the 30th. Political feeling still ran high respecting
the terms of admission proposed by Congress to Michigan, and the
convention, which recently met at Ann Arbor, refused their assent to
these terms, under a mistaken view of the case, as I think, and the lead
of rash and heady advisors; for there is no doubt in my mind that the
large area of territory in the upper country, offered as an equivalent
for the disputed boundary with Ohio, will be found of far greater value
and importance to the State than the "seven mile strip" surrendered--an
opinion, the grounds of which are discussed in my "Albion" letters. I
expressed this opinion in the spring of the year, before the Judiciary
Committee of the Senate, where I attended, on the invitation of Hon.
Silas Wright, to impart information, which I was supposed to possess, on
the geography and natural resources of the Lake Superior region.
_Nov. 2d/_. Mr. J.G. Palfrey, acting editor of the _N.A. Review_,
invites me to become a contributor to the pages of that standard
_8th_. No territory in the Union has required so long, so very long a
time for its appreciation, as Michigan, and now, that emigration is
freely coming in, it is difficult to estimate the very rapid
improvement of places. An instance of the kind occurs in the details of
a letter which I have just received. "It may not be amiss," says Mr.
A.L. Ely, "to give you a short description of the growth of Allegan. The
site was bought at government prices, in the spring of 1833, by two
gentlemen now living at Bronson, namely, Anthony Cooly and Stephen
Vickery. In November of that year, my father, who was then in Michigan
looking for a location, both for him and myself, purchased for me
one-third of the property, there being in all about 452 acres of land,
for which he paid $1750. In June, 1834, we sent one family from
Rochester, who built two log houses, and grubbed the ground for a mill
race. In October, 1834, Mr. Sidney Ketchum, as agent for some gentlemen
in Boston, purchased all the interests in the property, except those
held by me, for something under $5,000.
"The winter of '34 and '35 was spent in making roads, and getting
provisions together, and preparing to commence improvements. In April,
1835, we commenced the dam and canal for a double saw mill, which were
completed that fall. In May, our plat was laid out in lots. In June, we
commenced selling them. We have sold up to this date 175 lots. In June,
1835, the second family came into the place. In November, the first
merchant commenced selling goods. In December, we commenced the erection
of a small building for a church; it was completed in May, 1836, and a
few days after, accidentally burnt down.
"There are now (Nov. 1836) in Allegan three stores, two large taverns, a
cupola furnace, a chairmaker's shop, two cabinet shops, two blacksmiths,
a shoemaker's shop, a tailor's shop, a school house 20 by 40, costing
$1200; about 40 frame buildings, and over 500 people."
_10th_. I have for many years been collecting from the Indian lodges a
species of oral fictitious legends, which attest in the race no little
power of imagination; and certainly exhibit them in a different light
from any in which they have been heretofore viewed. The Rev. Mr.
McMurray, of St. Mary's, transmits me a story of this kind, obtained
some two months ago by his wife (who is a descendant, by the mother's
side, of Chippewa parents) from one of the natives. This tale impressed
me as worthy of being preserved. I have applied to it, from one of its
leading traits, the name of "The Enchanted Moccasons." "I have written
the story," he remarks, "as near the language in which Charlotte
repeated it as possible, leaving you the task to clothe it with such
garb as may suit those which you have already collected, or as the
substance will merit."
_Sept. 7th_. Mr. McMurray (who is an Episcopal Missionary at St. Mary's)
announces the death of one of the principal and most aged chiefs of the
Odjibwas, in that quarter of the country--Kagcosh. "He bade adieu to
this world of trouble last evening at sunset. I visited him about two
weeks since, and conversed with him on religious subjects, to which he
gave the utmost attention, and on that occasion requested me to baptize
him. I told him that I was willing to do so whenever I could, without
leaving a doubt in my mind as to his preparedness for the rite. I,
however, promised, if his mind did not change, to administer it soon. He
sent for me the day before he died, and requested me again, without
delay, to baptize him, which I did, and have every reason to believe
that he understood and felt the necessity of it."
This venerable chief must have been about ninety years of age. His head
was white. He was about six feet two inches in height, lithe of form,
and long featured, with a grave countenance, and cranial developments of
decided intellectuality. He was of the Crane totem, the reigning family
of that place, and the last survivor of seven brothers, of whom
Shingabowossin, who died in the fall of 1828, was noted as the most
distinguished, and as a good speaker. He was entitled to $500, under the
treaty of 28th March, as one of the first class chiefs of his nation.
_Nov. 2d_. Rev. Mr. Nash presented me letters as a missionary to the
Chippewas. He had prepared a new set of characters by which to write
that language, and presented me a copy of it. Every one is not a Cadmus,
and the want of success which has, therefore, attended the efforts at
new systems of signs to express sounds, should teach men that it is
easier, and there are more practical advantages attending the use of an
old and well-known system, like that of the English alphabet, than a new
and unknown system, however ingenious and exact. The misfortune is that
all attempts of this sort, like new systems of notation with the Roman
alphabet, are designed rather to show that their authors are inventive
and exact, than to benefit the Indian race. For if an Indian be taught
by these systems to read, yet he can read nothing but books prepared
for him by this system; and the whole body of English literature,
history, and poetry, is a dead letter to him. Above all, he cannot read
the English version of the Bible.
_23d_. A friend asked me to furnish him an aboriginal name for a new
town. I gave him the choice of several. He selected Algonac. In this
word the particle _ac_, is taken from _ace_, land or earth; and its
prefixed dissyllable _Algon_, from the word Algonquin. This system, by
which a part of a word is made to stand for, and carry the meaning of a
whole word, is common to Indian compound substantives. Thus
_Wa-we-a-tun-ong_, the Algonquin name for Detroit, is made up from the
term _wa-we_, a roundabout course, _atun_ a channel, and _ong_,
locality. Our geographical terminology might be greatly mended by this
system. At least repetition, by some such attention to-our geographical
names, to the liability of misdirecting letters, might be, to a great
_24th_. Mr. Bishop Rese, of the Catholic Church, called to make some
inquiry respecting a provision in the late treaty, designed to benefit
his church. I had traveled on the lake with the Bishop. He is a short,
club nosed, smiling man, of a quizzical physiognomy. He asked me what I
supposed was the cause of the press for the treaty appropriations for
educations, by Protestant missions. I told him that I supposed the
conversion of the souls of the Indians constituted the object of these
applications. "Poh! poh!" said he, "it is the money itself."
_Dec 19th_. Mr. Gallatin's _Synopsis of the Indian Tribes_ is forwarded
to me for a review. "The publication," says Mr. Palfrey, "of the second
volume of _Transactions of the American Antiquarian Society_ was delayed
considerably beyond the time appointed. It was only a week ago that a
copy reached me. I transmit it by mail. Should it not reach you within a
week after the receipt of this, will you have the goodness to inform me,
and I will forthwith let another copy try its fortune."
_23d_. The temperance movement has excited the community of Detroit this
season, as a subject essential to the cause of sound morals. Its
importance is undeniable on all hands, but there is always a tendency in
new measures of reform, to make the method insisted on a sort of moral
panacea, capable of doing all things, to the no little danger of setting
up a standard higher than that of the Decalogue itself. In the midst of
this tendency to ultraism, the least particle of conservative opinion
would be seized upon by its leaders as the want of a thorough
acquiescence and heartiness in the cause. Rev. Mr. Cleaveland transmits
me a resolution of the "Total Abstinence City Temperance Society," for
an address to be delivered in one week. "Do not, do not, do not," he
remarks, "say us nay."
I determined to devote two or three winter evenings to gratify this
Difficulties resulting from a false impression of the Indian
character--Treaty with the Saginaws--Ottawas of Grand River establish
themselves in a colony in Barry County--Payments to the Ottawas of
Maumee, Ohio--Temperance--Assassination of young Aitkin by an Indian at
Leech Lake--Mackinack mission abandoned--Wyandots complain of a trespass
from a mill-dam--Mohegans of Green Bay apply for aid on their way to
visit Stockbridge, Mass.--Mohegan traditions--Historical
Society--Programme of a tour in the East--Parental disobedience--Indian
treaties--Dr. Warren's Collection of Crania--Hebrew
language--Geology--"Goods offer"--Mrs. Jameson--Mastodon's tooth in
Michigan--Captain Marryatt--The Icelandic language--Munsees--Speech of
Little Bear Skin chief, or Mu-konsewyan.
OFFICE INDIAN AFFAIRS, DETROIT.
_1837. Jan. 5th_. Difficulties are reported as existing between a party
of Indians (of about fifteen souls) of Bobish, and the settlers of
Coldwater, Branch county, (township 8, S. range, 5 west.) About forty
families have settled there within the last fall and summer. The
Indians, who have been in the habit of making sugar and hunting on the
public lands, are disposed not to relinquish these privileges, probably
not understanding fully their right. Mutual threats have passed, which
are repeated by Thomas G. Holden, who requests the interposition of the
Settlers generally move into the new districts with strong prejudices
against the Indians, whom they regard, mistakingly, as thirsting for
blood and plunder. It only requires a little conciliation, and proper
explanations, as in this case, to induce them at once to adopt the
_14th_. Articles of a new treaty were this day signed at my office, by
the Saginaw chiefs, for the sale of all their reservations in Michigan.
These reservations were made under the treaty of September 24th, 1819.
They were ceded by them at Washington, in the spring of 1836, but the
terms, and particularly the advance of money stipulated to be made, were
deemed too liberal by the Senate, and, in consequence, the treaty was
rejected. The object is now attained in a manner which, it is hoped,
will prove satisfactory. By this, as the former treaty, this tribe are
allowed the entire proceeds of the sale of their lands.
_20th_. Rev. Mr. Slater reports that the Ottawas of Grand River, who
were parties to the treaty of 28th of March, have purchased lands in
Barry county for the $6,400 allowed by the ninth article of the treaty,
in trust for Chiminonoquet; and that a mission has been established on
the lands purchased, which is called Ottawa Colony. Difficulties have
occurred with pre-emption claimants in the same lands.
_31st_. Captain Simonton reports the payment of the annuity, amounting
to $1,700, due to the Ottawas of Maumee, Ohio. The entire number of
persons paid by him was four hundred and thirty-three, dividing a
fraction under $4 per soul. In these payments old and young fare alike.
Henry Connor, Esq., the interpreter present, confirms the report of the
equal division, _per capita_, among the Indians, and the satisfaction
which attended the payment, on their part.
_Feb. 1st_. Delivered an address at the Presbyterian Church, before a
crowded audience, on the temperance movement, showing that the whole
question to be decided was, in which class of moderate drinkers men
elected themselves to be arranged, and that ardent spirits, as a
beverage, were wholly unnecessary to a healthy constitution.
Transmitted to Mr. Palfrey a review of Mr. Gallatin's "Synopsis of the
Indian Tribes of America."
_Feb. 1st_. Mr. William A. Aitkin writes from Sandy Lake: "Since I left
you at St. Peter's I have had a severe trial to go through. I came up by
Swan River, but heard nothing there of the melancholy event which had
taken place during my absence at Upper Red Cedar Lake. My eldest son had
been placed at that place last fall, in charge of that post. You saw
him, I believe, last summer; he was in charge of Leech Lake when you
were at that place. He was a young man of twenty-two years of age, of a
very amiable temper, humane and brave, possessed of the most unbounded
obedience to my will, and of the most filial affection for my person.
This, my son, was murdered in the most atrocious manner by a bloody
monster of an Indian. My poor boy had arrived the evening previous to
the bloody act, from a voyage to Red Lake. Early the next morning he
sent off all the men he had to Lake Winnipeck, excepting one Frenchman,
to bring up some things which he had left there in the fall. A short
time after his men had gone, he sent the remaining man to bring some
water from the river; the man returned into the house immediately, and
told him an Indian had broken open the store, and was in it. He went
very deliberately to the store, took hold of the villain, who tried to
strike him with his tomahawk, dragged him out of the store and disarmed
him of his axe, threw him on the ground, and then let him go--and was
turned round in the act of locking the store-door. The villain stepped
behind the door, where he had hid his gun, came on him unawares and shot
him dead, without the least previous provocation whatever on the part of
my poor lost boy. When arrived, I found the feelings of every one
prepared for vengeance. I immediately, without one moment's loss of
time, proceeded to Leech Lake. In a moment there were twenty half-breeds
gathered round, with Francis Brunette at their head, full-armed, ready
to execute any commands that I should give them. We went immediately to
the camp where the villain was, beyond Red Cedar Lake, determined to cut
off the whole band if they should raise a finger in his defence. Our
mutual friend, Mr. Boutwell, joined the party, with his musket on his
shoulder, as a man and a Christian, for he knew it was a righteous
cause, and that the arm of God was with him. We arrived on the wretches
unawares, disarmed the band, and dragged the monster from his lodge. I
would have put the villain to death in the midst of his relations, but
Mr. Boutwell advised it would be better to take him where he might be
made an example of. The monster escaped from us two days after we had
taken him, but my half-breeds pursued him for six days and brought him
back, and he is now on his way to St. Peter's in irons, under a strong
guard. My dear friend, I cannot express to you the anguish of my heart
at this present moment.
"The Indians of all this department have behaved like villains during my
absence, particularly the Indians of Leech Lake, committing the greatest
depredations on our people, and would surely have murdered them if they
had shown the least disposition to resist their aggravations. You will
excuse me from giving you any other news at present. I'm not in a state
of mind to do it."
_Feb. 3d_. Rev. David Green, of Boston, communicates the determination
of the Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions to break up and
abandon the school and mission at Mackinack. This decision I have long
feared, and cannot but deplore. The school is large, and the education
of many of the pupils is such that in a few years they would make useful
practicable men and women, and carry a Christian influence over a wide
circle. By dispersing them now the labor is to some extent lost.
_6th_. Received, a vote of thanks of the Detroit Total Abstinence
Society, for my temperance address of the 1st instant, which is
courteously called "elegant and appropriate." So, ho!
_22d_. A party of Wyandots from the River Huron, of Michigan, visited
the office. They complain that trespasses are committed by settlers on
the lands reserved to them. The trespasses arise from the construction
of mill-dams, by which their grounds are overflowed. They asked whether
they hold the reservation for fifty years or otherwise. I replied that
they hold them, by the terms of the treaty, as long as they shall have
any posterity to live on the lands. They only escheat to the United
States in failure of this. But that I would send an agent to inquire
into the justice of their complaint, and to redress it.
_24th_. Robert Kankapot presents himself with about twenty followers. He
is a Stockbridge Indian of Green Bay, Wisconsin, on his way to the East.
He is short of funds, and asks for relief. No annuity or other funds are
payable, at this office, to this tribe. I deemed his plea, however, a
reasonable one, and loaned him personally one hundred dollars.
I detained him with some historical questions. He says he is sixty-four
years of age, that he was born in Stockbridge, on the head of the
Housatonic River, in Massachusetts. From this town they take their
present name. They are, however, the descendants of the ancient
Mohegans, who lived on the sea coast and in the Hudson Valley. They were
instructed by the Rev. Jonathan Edwards, the eminent theologian, who was
afterwards president of Princeton College. Their first migration was
into New Stockbridge, in Oneida County, New York, where the Oneida tribe
assigned them lands. This was about the era of the American Revolution.
They next went, about 1822, to Fox River of Green Bay, where they now
reside. Their oldest chief, at that point, is Metoxon, who is now
He says his remote ancestry were from Long Island (Metoacs), and that
Montauk means great sea island. (This does not appear probable
philologically.) He says the opposite coast, across the East River, was
called _Monhautonuk_. He afterwards, the next day, said that Long Island
was called _Paum-nuk-kah-huk._
_March 1st_. To a friend abroad I wrote: "I have written during the
winter an article on Mr. Gallatin's recently published paper on the
Indian languages, entitled _A Synopsis of the Indian Tribes_, which is
published by the American Antiquarian Society. It was with great
reluctance that I took up the subject, and when I did, I have been so
complete a fact hunter all my life, that I found it as difficult to lay
it down. The result is probably an article too long for ninety-nine
readers out of a hundred, and too short for the hundredth man."
_8th_. Mr. Palfrey acknowledges the safe arrival of my article for the
_North American Review_.
The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions decline $6000
for the abandoned missionary house at Mackinack, offered under the view
of its being converted into a dormitory for receiving Indian visitors at
that point under the provisions of the treaty of 1836.
_17th_. Received a letter of thanks from old Zachariah Chusco, the
converted Jos-sa-keed, for kindness.
_23d_ Received a commission from Gov. Mason, appointing me a regent of
the University of Michigan.
_22d_. The Historical Society of Michigan hold their annual meeting at
my office. In the election for officers I was honored by being selected
its President. A deep interest in historical letters had been manifested
by this institution since its organization in 1828, particularly in the
history of the aboriginal tribes, and means have been put on foot for
the collection of facts. To these, the recent and extraordinary
settlement of the country by emigration from the Bast, has added a new
branch of inquiry, respecting town, county, and neighborhood
settlements. Much of this is held in the memory of old persons, and will
be lost if not gleaned up and preserved in the shape of narratives.
Resolutions for this purpose were adopted, and an appeal made to the
legislature to facilitate the collection of pamphlets and printed
documents. Men live so rapidly now that few think of posterity; society
hastens at a horse's pace, and we pass over so large a surface in so
short a time, that the historian and antiquarian will stand aghast, in a
few years, and exclaim "would that more minute facts were within
_23d_. The Department at Washington instructs me to examine additional
and unsatisfied claims arising under the 5th article of the treaty of
March 28th, 1836, and, after submitting them to the Indians, to report
them for payment.
_28th_. Very different are the diurnal scenes enacted from those which
passed before my eyes at the ice-closed post of Mackinack last winter.
Yet in one respect they are entitled to have a similar effect on my
mind; it is in the craving that exists to fill the intervals of business
with some moral and intellectual occupation that may tend to relieve it
of the tedium of long periods of leisure. When a visitor is dismissed,
or a transaction is settled, and the door closes on a man habituated to
mental labor, the ever-ready inquiry is, What next? To sit still--to do
nothing absolutely but to turn over the thoughts of other men, though
this be a privilege, is not ultimate happiness. There is still a void,
which the desire to be remembered, or something else, must fill.
_31st_. Gen. Cass writes from Paris that he is on the eve of setting
out, with his family, for the Levant, to embark on a tour to the East,
to visit the ancient seats of oriental power. "We proceed directly to
Toulon, where we shall embark on board the frigate Constitution. From
thence we touch at Leghorn, Civita Vecchia, Naples, and Sicily, and then
proceed to Alexandria. After seeing Cairo, the Pyramids, Memphis, and, I
hope, the Red Sea, we shall proceed to Palestine, look at Jerusalem, see
the Dead Sea, and other interesting places of Holy Writ, pass by and
touch at Tyre and Sidon, land at Beyrout, and visit Damascus and
Baalbec, and probably Palmyra; touch at Smyrna, proceed to
Constantinople and the Black Sea, and then to Greece, &c.; after that to
the islands of the Archipelago, then up the Adriatic to Venice and
Trieste, and thence return to this place. So, you see, here is the
programme of a pretty good expedition, certainly a very
_April 6th_. By letters received from Albany, a singular chapter of the
inscrutable course and awards of Providence for parental disobedience
and youthful deception is revealed. Alfredus, who departed from my
office in Detroit early in March last, to receive a warrant as a cadet
at West Point, has not appeared among his friends. He was a young man of
good mind, figure, and address, and would doubtless have justified the
judgment of his friends in giving him a military education. His father
had been one of the patriots of 1776, and served on the memorable field
of Saratoga. But the young man was smitten with the romance of going to
Texas and joining the ranks of that country, striving for a rank among
nations. This secret wish he carefully concealed from me, and, setting
out with the view of returning to his father's roof, and solacing his
age by entering the military academy, he secretly took the stage to
Columbus, Ohio. Thence he pushed his way to New Orleans and Galveston.
The next intelligence received of him, was a careful measurement of his
length, by unknown hands, and the statement that, in ascending the
Brazos, he had taken the fever and died.
_10th_. Issued notice to claimants for Indian debts, under the 5th
article of the treaty of March 28th, 1886; that additional claims would
be considered, and that such claims, with the evidence in support of
them, must be produced previous to the first of June next.
_26th_. Received notice of my election as a corresponding member of the
Hartford Natural History Society, Connecticut.
I have filled the pauses of official duty, during the season, by
preparing for the press the oral legends which have been gleaned from
the Indians since my residence at Sault St. Marie, in the basin of Lake
Superior, and at Michilimackinack, under the name of _Algic
Researches_, vol. i.
_10th_. By the treaty of 9th May, 1836, with the Swan Creek and Black
River Chippewas, the United States agree to furnish them thirteen
sections of land West, in lieu of the cessions relinquished in Michigan,
besides accounting to them for the nett proceeds of the land ceded.
Measures were now taken to induce them to send delegates to the Indian
territory west of the Missouri, to locate this tract, and an agent was
appointed to accompany them.
_16th_. Received a copy of my article on Indian languages.
_17th_. The Saginaws, by the cession of the 14th of January, agreed to
leave Michigan, and accept a location elsewhere; and they were now urged
to send delegates to the head waters of the Osage River, where they can
be provided with fine lands, and placed in juxtaposition to
_29th_. Received a letter from the editor of the "Knickerbocker." 
[Footnote 79: Birchen Canoe: Song of the Ship.]
_May 18th_. Received notice of my election as one of the vice presidents
of the American Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, at
_23d_. William Ward, Esq., of the War Office, Washington, D.C., writes:
"I have received two communications from Dr. Warren, of Boston, on the
subject of a collection of crania and bones of the aborigines. He is
desirous of procuring specimens from the different tribes, and from the
mounds in the different sections of the country.
"Trusting, in a great measure, to your readiness to co-operate in every
effort to advance the cause of science, I have promised him to use the
means my connection with the office might give me to forward his views.
His high reputation must be known to you, and I am sure you will aid him
to complete a collection which, I understand, he has been occupied many
years in making.
"I gather from his letters, that he wishes to procure a few complete
skeletons, and a number of crania, and that it will be desirable to have
as much as possible of the history of each head."
_June 4th_. Michilimackinack. Received a copy of _Bush's Grammar of the
Hebrew Language_, and commenced comparing the Indian tongues with it.
This language has twenty-two letters. In order to impress the elements
upon my own mind, as well as improve theirs, I commenced teaching my
children the language, just keeping ahead of them, and hearing their
recitations every morning.
_26th_. Receive a letter of introduction from Governor Mason, by Mr.
Massingberd, of England, an intelligent and estimable traveler
_27th_. Dr. Edward Spring, son of the Rev. Gardiner Spring, of New York,
visits the island with the view of a temporary practice.
_July 1st_. A copy of _Stuart's Hebrew Grammar_ reached me this morning.
I have a special motive in making myself acquainted with this ancient,
and, as I find, simple tongue. The course of my investigation of the
Algonquin language, has shown me the want of the means of enlarged
comparison, which I could not institute without it.
_6th_. Major Whiting writes: "I have lately begun _Buckland's Treatise,_
and a noble work it is; the subject he treats just in that way which
will communicate the greatest amount of information to the reading
public. That part which explains the bearing of the Scriptures on
geology, will have a most salutary effect on the public mind. It was all
important that such explanations should be given. Many good minds have
been startled, and approached geology with averted eyes, apprehending
that it ran counter to the great truths of the Bible. Viewed as the
Bible generally has been, geological facts are likely to disturb the
moral world. Either they must be disbelieved, or that literal
interpretation of Genesis, so long received, must be abandoned. To make
this abandonment, without having satisfactory reasons for it, would have
risked much, that never should be put in jeopardy. It had come to this,
geology must be sealed up and anathematized, or it must be reconciled
with the Sacred Writ. Buckland has undoubtedly done the latter; and he
has thus conferred an inestimable blessing on mankind."
_12th_. A remarkable land claim, upon the Indians, who are parties to
the late treaty of 1836, came before me. This consisted of a grant given
by the Chippewas in 1760, to Major Robert Rodgers, of anti-revolutionary
fame, to a valuable part of the upper region on Lake Superior. The
present heir is James Chaloner Alabaster, who says the deed, of which a
copy is furnished, has been in the possession of his family in England
about sixty years. It appears to have been executed in due form for a
consideration. It is prior to the proclamation of George III.
_19th_. A band of Chippewas, originally hailing from Grand Island, in
Lake Superior, but now living on the extreme northern head of Green Bay,
visited the office. It embraced the eldest son of the late Oshawn
Epenaysee (South Bird), who died, in the first class of chiefs, at Grand
Island last fall. His name is Ado-wa-wa-e-go (something of an inanimate
kind beating about in the water on shore). They requested that he might
be recognized as their chief. On examination this request was acceded
to, and I invested him with a flag.
_24th_. The department submitted a proposition to the Indians, to take
half their annuities under the treaty of 1836, at the approaching
payments, in goods, and half in silver. If the goods were declined, they
were requested to receive the half annuity in silver, with the other
annuities provided by the treaty, in kind, and to wait for the other
moiety till the next year.
I submitted the offer to a full council of the chiefs and warriors this
day. They debated it fully. A delegation visited the goods, which were
shown by an agent. They decline receiving them, but agree to receive the
half annuity in coin, and wait, as requested, for the other half till
the next payment. This proposition was called the "goods offer," and was
much distorted by the public-press. I was blamed for having carried the
offer into effect, whereas it was declined, and the half annuity in
silver accepted, and the credit asked for, given for the rest.
_25th_. Two bands who had not united in this decision, namely, the bands
of Point St. Ignace and Chenos, came in, by their chiefs, and yielded
their assent to the arrangement of yesterday. Thus the consent became
unanimous on the part of the Indians.
A notification, by a special messenger, to the Grand River Ottawas, is
dispatched to attend the payments at this place on the 1st of September,
and to signify their assent or dissent to the proposed arrangement. Rix
Robinson and Louis Campeau, Esqrs., of that valley, and the Rev. Leonard
Slater, of Barry, are requested to give this notice publicity.
_26th_. Mrs. Jameson embarks in an open boat for Sault Ste. Marie,
accompanied by Mrs. Schoolcraft, after having spent a short time as a
most intelligent and agreeable inmate under our roof. This lady,
respecting whom I had received letters from my brother-in-law Mr.
McMurray, a clergyman of Canada West, evinced a most familiar knowledge
of artistic life and society in England and Germany. Her acquaintance
with Goethe, and other distinguished writers, gave a life and piquancy
to her conversation and anecdotes, which made us cherish her society the
more. She is, herself, an eminent landscape painter, or rather sketcher
in crayon, and had her portfolio ever in hand. She did not hesitate
freely to walk out to prominent points, of which the island has many, to
complete her sketches. This freedom from restraint in her motions, was
an agreeable trait in a person of her literary tastes and abilities. She
took a very lively interest in the Indian race, and their manners and
customs, doubtless with views of benevolence for them as a peculiar race
of man, but also as a fine subject of artistic observation.
Notwithstanding her strong author-like traits and peculiarities, we
thought her a woman of hearty and warm affections and attachments; the
want of which, in her friends, we think she would exquisitely feel.
Mrs. Jameson several times came into the office and heard the Indians
speaking. She also stepped out on the piazza and saw the wild Indians
dancing; she evidently looked on with the eye of a Claude Lorraine or
_27th_. The term _ego_, added to an active Indian verb, renders it
passive. I have given an example of this before in the case of a man's
name. Here is another: The verb _to carry_ is Be-moan in the Algonquin.
By the pronominal prefix _Nim_, we have the sense _I carry_. By adding
to the latter the suffix _ego_, the action is reflected and this sense
is rendered passive.
_29th_. A treaty is concluded this day at Fort Snelling, St. Peter's,
between Governor H. Dodge and the Chippewa Indians, by which they cede a
large and important tract to the United States.
_Aug. 1st_. A discovery of a tooth of the Mastodon has lately been made
in the bed of the Papaw River, in Berrian County, Michigan. It is about
six inches long and three broad. The enamel is nearly perfect, and that
part of the tooth which was covered by it nearly whole, while the
portion which must have been inserted in the socket is mostly broken
off. The diluvian soil of the Michigan Peninsula is thus added to the
wide area of the _mastodonic period_.
_2d_. Capt. Marryatt came up in the steamer of last night. A friend
writes: "He is one of Smollett's sea captains---much more of the
Trunnion than one would have expected to find in a literary man. Stick
Mackinack into him, with all its _rock-osities._ He is not much disposed
to the _admirari_ without the _nil_--affects little enthusiasm about
anything, and perhaps feels as little." He turned out here a perfect sea
urchin, ugly, rough, ill-mannered, and conceited beyond all bounds.
Solomon says, "answer not a fool according to his folly," so I paid him
all attention, drove him over the island in my carriage, and rigged him
out with my _canoe-elege_ to go to St. Mary's.
_3d_. George Tucker, Professor in the University of Virginia, came up
in the last steamer. I hasted, while it stayed, to drive him out and
show off the curiosities of the island to the best advantage.
_5th_. Mrs. Schoolcraft writes from the _Sault_, that Mrs. Jameson and
the children suffered much on the trip to that place from mosquitoes,
but by dint of a douceur of five dollars extra to the men, which Mrs.
Jameson made to the crew, they rowed all night, from Sailor's
encampment, and reached the Sault at 6 o'clock in the morning. "I feel
delighted," she says, "at my having come with Mrs. Jameson, as I found
that she did not know how to get along at all at all. Mr. McMurray and
family and Mrs. Jameson started off on Tuesday morning for Manitouline
with a fair wind and fair day, and I think they have had a fine voyage
down. Poor Mrs. Jameson cried heartily when she parted with me and my
children; she is indeed a woman in a thousand. While here, George came
down the rapids with her in fine style and spirits. She insisted on
being baptized and named in Indian, after her _sail_ down the falls. We
named her Was-sa-je-wun-e-qua (Woman of the Bright Stream), with which
she was mightily pleased."
_9th_. Delegates from the Saginaws, from the Swan Creek and Black
Chippewas of Lower Michigan, stop, on their way, to explore a new
location west, in charge of a special exploring agent.
Mr. Ord, recently appointed a sub-agent in this superintendency, reaches
the island. He is the second person I have known who has made the names
of his children an object of singularity. Mr. Stickney, who figured
prominently in the Toledo War, called his male children One, Two, &c.
Mr. Ord has not evidently differed in this respect from general custom,
for the same reason, namely, an objection to _Christian_ prejudice for
John and James, or Aaron and Moses. He has simply given them Latin
nominatives, from the mere love he has apparently for that tongue. I
believe he was formerly a Georgetown professor.
Capt. Marryatt embarked on board the steamer Michigan, on his return
from the island, after having spent several days in a social visit,
including a trip to the Sault, in company with Mr. Lay, of Batavia.
While here, I saw a good deal of the novelist. His manners and style of
conversation appeared to be those of a sailor, and such as we should
look for in his own Peter Simple. Temperance and religion, if not
morality, were to him mere cant words, and whether he was observed,
either before dinner or after dinner--in the parlor or out of it--his
words and manners were anything but those of a quiet, modest, English
I drove Mr. Lay and himself out one day after dinner to see the
curiosities of the island. He would insist walking over the arched rock.
"It is a fearful and dizzy height." When on the top he stumbled. My
heart was in my throat; I thought he would have been hurled to the rocks
below and dashed to a thousand pieces; but, like a true sailor, he
crouched down, as if on a yardarm, and again arose and completed his
We spoke of railroads. He said they were not built permanently in this
country, and attributed the fault to our excessive go-aheadiveness. Mr.
Lay: "True; but if we expended the sums you do on such works, they could
not be built at all. They answer a present purpose, and we can afford to
renew them in a few years from their own profits."
The captain's knowledge of natural history was not precise. He aimed to
be knowing when it was difficult to conceal ignorance. He called some
well-characterized species of _septaria_ in my cabinet _pudding-stone,_
beautiful specimens of limpid hexagonal crystals of quartz, _common
Mr. George P. Marsh, of Vermont, brings me a letter of introduction.
This gentleman has the quiet easy air of a man who has seen the world.
His fine taste and acquirements have procured him a wide reputation. His
translation of _Rusk's Icelandic Grammar_ is a scholar-like performance,
and every way indicative of the propensities of his mind for
It is curious to observe, in this language, the roots of many English
words, and it denotes through what lengths of mutations of history the
stock words of a generic language may be traced. Lond, skip, flaska,
sumar, hamar, ketill, dal, are clearly the radices respectively of land,
ship, flask, summer, hammer, kettle, dale. This property of the
endurance of orthographical forms gives one a definite illustration of
the importance of language on history.
_12th_. A large party of Munsees and Delawares from the River Thames, in
Upper Canada, reach the harbor in a vessel bound for Green Bay,
Wisconsin. The Rev. Mr. Vogel, in whose charge they are, lands and
visits the office with some of the principal men. He says that most of
them have been known as "Christian Indians." That the number recognized
by this title on the Thames is 282, of whom 50 have been excommunicated.
Of these Christian Indians, 84 have been left on the Thames, in charge
of the Rev. Abraham Lukenbach.
Mr. Vogel has in his company 202 persons, but says that others,
rendering their number 260 souls inclusive, are on their way by land.
Thirteen of this party, with White Eyes, son of White Eyes of frontier
war celebrity, came on the 9th instant, and have been lodged in the
public dormitory. They are on their way, in the first place, to the
Stockbridges, at Green Bay, and, finally, to their kindred, the
Delawares, on the Kanzas.
_13th_. Early one morning I was agreeably surprised by the arrival of
Mrs. Jameson, whom I had previously expected to spend some time with me,
and found her a most agreeable, refined and intelligent guest, with none
of the supercilious and conceited airs, which I had noticed in some of
her traveling countrywomen of the class of authors.
_15th_. Mukonsiwyan, a Chippewa chief of the first class, calls, on his
way back from a visit to the British annual meeting of the Indians, to
get their subsidies at the Manitouline Islands. He was evidently piqued
in not having received as much as he expected. He attempted to throw
dust in the agent's eyes by the following speech:--
"My father, I wish to warm myself by your fire. I have tried to warm
myself by the British fire, but I could not, although I sat close by.
They put on _green poplar_, which would throw out no heat. _This_ is the
place where hard wood grows, and I expect to be warmed by its heat."
[Footnote 80: The island of Mackinack was formerly covered with a forest
of rock-maple, ironwood, &c., and much of it is still characterized by
It was said that an _inferior_ quality of blankets had been issued at
Manitouline. This was the _green poplar_. No guns and no kettles were
given. This is the coldness and want of heat, although sitting close by
the fire. On the contrary, large and extraordinary presents, and of the
best quality, were issued here last season at the execution of the
treaty of 1836. This is the _hard wood_ and _good heat_ thrown out to
all. The figure derived appositeness from the prevalence of such species
on the island.
Notions of foreigners about America--Mrs. Jameson--Appraisements of
Indian property--Le Jeune's early publication on the Iroquois--Troops
for Florida--A question of Indian genealogy--Annuity payments--Indians
present a claim of salvage--Death of the Prophet Chusco--Indian
sufferings--Gen. Dodge's treaty--Additional debt claims--Gazetteer of
Michigan--Stone's Life of Brant--University of Michigan--Christian
Keepsake--Indian etymology--Small-pox breaks out on the
Missouri--Missionary operation in the north-west--Treaty of Flint River
with the Saginaws.
1837. _Aug. 16th_. A Mr. Nathan, an English traveler, of quiet and
pleasing manners, was introduced. He had been to St. Mary's Falls, and
to the magnificent entrance into Lake Superior, of whose fine scenery he
spoke in terms of admiration. It seems to me that Englishmen and
Englishwomen, for I have had a good many of both sexes to visit me
recently, look on America very much as one does when he peeps through a
magnifying glass on pictures of foreign scenes, and the picturesque
ruins of old cities, and the like. They are really very fine, but it is
difficult to realize that such things are. It is all an optical
It was clearly so with Marryatt, a very superficial observer; Miss
Martineau, who was in search of something ultra and elementary, and even
Mrs. Jameson, who had the most accurate and artistic eye of all, but
who, with the exception of some bits of womanly heart, appeared to
regard our vast woods, and wilds, and lakes, as a magnificent panorama,
a painting in oil. It does not appear to occur to them, that here are
the very descendants of that old Saxa-Gothic race who sacked Rome, who
banished the Stuarts from the English throne, and who have ever, in all
positions, used all their might to battle tyranny and oppression, who
hate taxations as they hate snakes, and whose day and night dreams have
ever been of liberty, that dear cry of _Freiheit_, whichever war made
"Germania" ring. It has appeared to me to be very much the same with the
Austrian and Italian functionaries who have wandered as far as
Michilimackinack within a few years, but who are yet more slow to
appreciate our institutions than the English. The whole problem of our
system, one would judge, seems to them like "apples of ashes," instead
of the golden fruits of Hesperides. They alike mistake realities for
fancies; real states of flesh and blood, bone and muscle, for cosmoramic
pictures on a wall. They do not appear to dream how fast our millions
reduplicate, what triumphs the plough, and the engine, and loom, are
making, how the principles of a well guarded representative system are
spreading over the world, and what indomitable moral, and sound
inductive principles lie at the bottom of the whole fabric.
Troops arrived from St. Mary's this day, to garrison the Fort, to keep
order during the annuity payments. The chiefs from St. Mary's send over
a boat for their share of the treaty, tobacco, salt, rice, &c.
_18th_. Mr. Conner, the sub-agent, writes that the Saginaws are
afflicted by want and threatened by starvation; and, to render their
condition extreme, the small-pox has broken out amongst them. Ordered
relief to be given in the cases specified.
_20th_. Mrs. Jameson writes to Mrs. Schoolcraft, from Toronto: "If I
were to begin by expressing all the pain it gave me to part from you, I
should not know when or where to end. I do sometimes thank God, that in
many different countries I possess friends worthy that name; kind hearts
that feel _with_ and _for_ me; hearts upon which my own could be
satisfied to rest; but then that parting, that forced, and often
hopeless separation which too often follows such a meeting, makes me
repine. I will not say, pettishly, that I could wish _never_ to have
known or seen a treasure I cannot possess: no! how can I think of you
and feel regret that I have known you? As long as I live, the impression
of your kindness, and of your character altogether, remains with me;
your image will often come back to me, and I dare to hope that you will
not forget me _quite_. I am not so unreasonable as to ask you to write
to me; I know too well how entirely your time is occupied to presume to
claim even a few moments of it, and it is a pity, for 'we do not live by
bread alone,' and every faculty and affection implanted in us by the
good God of nature, craves the food which he has prepared for it, even
in this world; so that I do wish you had a little leisure from eating
and drinking, cares and household matters, to bestow on less important
things, on me for instance! poor little me, at the other side of
"Mrs. McMurray has told you the incidents of our voyage to the
Manitouline Island, from thence to Toronto; it was all delightful; the
most extraordinary scenery I ever beheld, the wildest! I recall it as a
dream. I arrived at my own house at three o'clock on the morning of the
13th, tired and much eaten by those abominable mosquitoes, but otherwise
better in health than I have been for many months. Still I have but
imperfectly achieved the object of my journey; and I feel that, though I
seized on my return every opportunity of seeing and visiting the Indian
lodges, I know but too little of them, of the women particularly. If
only I had been able to talk a little more to my dear Neengay! how often
I think of her with regret, and of you all! But it is in vain to repine.
I must be thankful for what I have gained, what I have seen and done! I
have written to Mrs. McMurray, and troubled her with several questions
relative to the women. I remark generally, that the propinquity of the
white man is destruction to the red man; and the farther the Indians are
removed from us, the better for them. In their own woods, they are a
noble race; brought near to us, a degraded and stupid race. We are
destroying them off the face of the earth. May God forgive us our
tyranny, our avarice, our ignorance, for it is very terrible to
_21st_. Judge McDonnel, of Detroit, reached the island with Captain
Clark of St. Clair, these gentlemen having been engaged since spring, in
a careful and elaborate appraisement of the Indian improvements, under
the 8th article of the treaty of 28th March, 1836. They commenced their
labor in the Grand River Valley, and continued it along the entire
eastern coast of Lake Michigan, to Michilimackinack, not omitting
anything which could, by the most liberal construction, be considered
"as giving value to the lands ceded." Not an apple tree, not a house, or
log wigwam, and not an acre, once in cultivation, though now waste,
They report the whole number of villages in this district at twenty-two,
the whole number of improvements at 485, and the gross population at
3,257 souls. This population live in log and bark dwellings of every
grade, cultivate 2477 acres of land, on which there are 3,212 apple
trees; besides old fields, the aggregate value of which is put at
$74,998. They add that these appraisements have been deemed everywhere
fully satisfactory to the Indians.
_23d_. A poor decrepit Indian woman, who was abandoned on the beach by
her relatives some ten days ago, applied for relief. It is found that
she has been indebted for food in the interim to the benevolence of Mrs.
_23d_. "I take the liberty," says A. W. Buel, Esq., of Detroit, "of
addressing you concerning the little book in my possession, touching the
early history of New France and the Iroquois. You may recollect,
perhaps, that on one occasion last winter or spring, when you were in
this city, I had some conversation with you concerning it. It is written
in French, of old orthography, and was published at Paris, A. D. 1658.
It purports to have been written by a Jesuit, Paul Le Jeune; I am
however, inclined to think that it was not all written by him, inasmuch
as the orthography of the same Indian words varies in different parts of
the book. It is rather a small duodecimo volume and contains about 210
pages, of rather coarse print. To give you a better idea of the
contents, I will mention the titles of the several chapters." These
"A few others are appended. The early history of the Iroquois, and of
our own country, even after its settlement by Europeans, you are well
aware, is buried in great obscurity. Even Charlevoix's _Histoire de
Nouvelle France_, I believe, has never been translated into English. I
have never seen it, if it has been. That work I suppose to be at present
the starting point in the history of the Iroquois and New France, as
regards minuteness of detail.
"This little book (Le Jeune) was published a considerable time previous.
It appears by it that the Jesuits had, for several years previously,
sent some letters; but I am confident that this is the first book ever
published touching directly and minutely the history of the Iroquois.
Caleb Atwater, in his book on western antiquities, speaks of a little
work published in Latin at Paris, I think, in 1664, as the first
touching the history of New France and the Iroquois. I could not at
first decide whether it be of much value, I thought it to be such a book
as would immediately find its way to the missionaries, and so small as
to be easily overlooked. I became at once so far interested in it, as
to translate it into English, not certain that I should ever make any
further use of it. I have, however, been solicited by some, either to
publish a translation of it, or a compendium of the principal matter
contained in it, and beg to trouble you so much as to ask your views of
the probability of the utility of doing so. Will the task be equal to
_25th_. Troops from Green Bay pass Mackinack on their way to Florida, to
act in the campaign against the Seminoles--a weary long way to send
reinforcements; but our army is so small, and has so large a frontier to
guard, that it must face to the right and left as often as raw recruits
_26th_. Received a copy of the _Miner's Free Press_ of Wisconsin of the
11th of August, containing an abstract of a treaty concluded by Gov.
Dodge with the Chippewas of the Upper Mississippi, ceding an important
tract of country, lying below the Crow-wing River.
_Sept. 3d_. The old chief Saganosh died.
_4th_. The Chippewas of Sault Ste. Marie got into a difficulty, among
each other, respecting the true succession of the principal
chieftainship, and the chiefs came in a body to leave the matter to me.
The point of genealogy to be settled runs through three generations, and
was stated thus:--
Gitcheojeedebun, of the Crane totem, had four sons, namely, Maidosagee,
Bwoinais, Nawgitchigomee, and Kezhawokumijishkum. Maidosagee, being the
eldest, had nine sons, called, Shingabowossin, Sizzah, Kaugayosh,
Nattaowa, Ussaba, Wabidjejauk, Muckadaywuckwut, Wabidjejaukons, and
Odjeeg. On the principles of Indian descent, these were all Cranes of
the proper mark, but the chieftainship would descend in the line of the
eldest son's children. This would leave Shingabowossin's eldest son
without a competitor. I determined, therefore, to award the first chiefs
medal to Kabay Noden, the deceased chief Shingabowossin's eldest son.
_10th_. The annuity payments commence.
Major Jno. Garland, U.S.A., having succeeded Major Whiting as the
general disbursing officer on this frontier, arrived early in the month.
This officer has been engaged, with his assistants and the aid of the
Indian department, about a week, in preparing the pay rolls of the
Indian families, and correcting the lists for deaths, births, and new
families. All the payments which were made in silver, at the agency, in
my presence, were divided _per capita_. This business of counting and
division took three days, during which time the proportionate share of
$21,000, in half dollars, was paid. The annuities in provisions,
tobacco, &c., were delivered in bulk to the chiefs of villages, to be
divided by them.
Mr. John J. Blois, of Detroit, proposes to publish a gazetteer of
Michigan, and writes requesting statistical information, &c., of the
upper country, an Indian nomenclature, &c.
Mr. Palfrey writes proposing to me to review Stone's _Life of Brant_,
and Mr. Dearborn, the publisher at New York, sends me the proofs.
_15th_. The payments are finished, and the Indians begin to disperse. I
invested Kabay Noden with his father's medal, and his uncle,
Muckadaywuckwut, with a flag; recommending at the same time the division
of the St. Mary's Chippewas into three bands, agreeably to fixed
Having finished the business of the payments, the disbursing agent
embarks on board of the steamer Michigan, and the island, which has been
thronged for three weeks with Indians, Indian traders, and visitors,
began immediately to empty itself of population. During this assemblage,
to pay the Ottawas and Chippewas their annuity, great care and
exactitude have been observed by the concurrently acting officers of the
army and the Indian department, to carry out strictly the agreements
made with them in the spring, by which the payment of half their annuity
in silver, due for 1837, was postponed till 1838. Yet it was reported in
a few days, and reiterated by the press, that the Indians had been
defrauded out of half their annuities, and that goods, and those of a
bad quality, had been given them for silver. And my name was coupled
with the transaction, although the Indians of all nations who were under
my charge, in the State of Michigan, had, from first to last, been
treated with the kindness and justice of a father. The Government at
Washington came in for no little abuse. Mrs. Jameson wrote from Toronto,
asking "whether it was true that a Miami chief had offered $70,000 to
enable the Indian Department to pay their debt to the Indians
_23d_. The Indians Akukojeesh and Akawkoway brought a case of salvage
for my action. They had found a new carriage body, and harness; a box of
7 by 9 glass, and 18 chairs, floating on the lake (Huron), N.E. of the
island. They supposed the articles had been thrown overboard, in a
recent storm, or by a vessel aground on the point of Goose Island,
called Nekuhmenis. The Nekuh is a brant.
_30th_. Chusco dies.
Completed and transmitted the returns and abstracts of the year's
proceedings and expenditures.
_Oct 1st_. I sent the interpreter and farmers of the Department to
perform the funeral rites for Chusco, the Ottawa jossakeed, who died
yesterday at the house erected for him on Round Island. He was about 70
years of age; a small man, of light frame and walked a little bent. He
had an expression of cunning and knowingness, which induced his people,
when young, to think he resembled the muskrat, just rising from the
water, after a dive. This trait was implied by his name. For many years
he had acted as a jossakeed, or seer, for his tribe. In this business he
told me that the powers he relied on, were the spirits  of the
tortoise, crow, swan, and woodpecker. These he considered his familiar
spirits, who received their miraculous power to aid him directly from
_Mudjee Moneto_, or the Great Evil Spirit. After the establishment of
the Mission at Mackinack, his wife embraced Christianity. This made him
mad. At length his mind ran so much on the theme, that he fell into
doubts and glooms when thinking it over, and finally embraced
Christianity himself; and he was admitted, after a probation of a year
or two, to church membership. I asked him, after this period, how he had
deceived his people by the art of powwowing, or jugglery. He said that
he had accomplished it by the direct influence of Satan. He had
addressed him, on these occasions, and sung his songs to him, beating
the drum or shaking the rattle. He adhered firmly to this opinion. He
appeared to have great faith in the atonement of Christ, and relied with
extraordinary simplicity upon it. He gave a striking proof of this, the
autumn after his conversion, when he went with his wife, according to
custom, to dig his potatoes on a neighboring island. The wife
immediately began to dig. "Stop," said he, "let us first kneel and
return thanks for their growth." He was aware of his former weakness on
the subject of strong drink, and would not indulge in it after he became
a church member.
[Footnote 81: Indians believe animals have souls.]
_3d_. Received an application for relief from the Black River
Chippewas, near Fort Gratiot. It is astonishing how completely the
resources of the Indians have failed with the game, on which they
formerly relied. When a calamity arrives, such as a white settlement
would surmount without an effort, they at once become objects of public
charity. Kittemagizzi is their immediate cry. This is now raised by the
Black River band, under the influence of small-pox.
_14th_. Received a copy of the treaty of the 29th of July last with the
Chippewas. This tribe, like all the other leading tribes of the race, is
destined to fritter away their large domain for temporary and local
ends, without making any general and permanent provision for their
prosperity. The system of temporary annuities will, at last, leave them
without a home. When the buffalo, and the deer, and the beaver, are
extinct, the Indian must work or die. In a higher view, there is no
blessing which is not pronounced in connection with _labor_ and _faith_.
These the nation falter at.
_18th_. Finished my report on the additional debt claim, under the
treaty of 1836, agreeably to the instructions of the Commission of
Indian Affairs, of the 23d March last, and to the published notice of
April 10th. These claims on the debt fund of the treaty have received
the best consideration of the agent and the Indian chiefs, with the aid
of a secretary authorized at Washington, and the result is forwarded
with confidence to head-quarters.
_19th_. My arduous duties during the summer had thrown some of my
private correspondence in the rear. It may now be proper to notice some
of it. A letter (Aug. 20th) from St. Mary's says: "The schooner John
Jacob Astor arrived on the 18th instant from the head of Lake Superior,
and the captain brings us information of Mr. Warren's arrival at La
Pointe. He attended the treaty at St. Peter's, concluded by Gov. Dodge.
The Indians are to receive $700,000 in annuities for twenty years,
$100,000 to the half-breeds, and $70,000 for Indian creditors."
"Captain Stanard brought down a specimen of native copper, similar to
the piece of forty-nine pounds weight in your cabinet. It was at De
l'Isle, fifteen leagues on the north shore from Fond du Lac."
Mr. John T. Blois, of Detroit (Sept. 20th), informs me that he is
preparing a Gazetteer of Michigan. "Of the topics," he remarks, "I had
proposed to submit to your consideration, one was the etymology of the
Indian nomenclature, to the extent it has been adopted in the
application of proper names to our lakes, rivers, and other inanimate
objects. In the preparation of my work, this subject has frequently
presented itself to my mind as one of interesting importance, and whose
development is more auspicious, at the present time, than it may be at a
future day. I had a particular desire to rescue the Indian names from
that oblivion to which the negligence of the early settlers of other
States has permitted them to descend, by the substitution, for no
reasonable cause, of insignificant English or French names, without
regard to either good taste or propriety.
"I wish, among other things, to ask of you the favor to inform me of the
origin and signification of the name of our adopted State, Michigan."
A correspondent at Detroit (J.L.S.) writes (21st Sept.): "Bills have
been introduced into both Houses to carry out the President's
sub-treasury system, and 'tis said Calhoun will support the measure.
These bills, which were introduced by Wright and Cambreleng, propose
that treasury notes shall be issued not to exceed $12,000,000."
Mr. Palfrey (25th Sept.) suggests my reviewing Col. Stone's "Life of
Joseph Brant," and the publishers (Geo. Dearborn and Co.) transmit me
the proof sheets on sized paper. I sat down with enthusiasm to read them
(as far as sent) preparatory to a decision. Many things are desirable,
and most worthy of commendation. But there were some errors of fact and
opinions, which I could not pass over without bringing forward facts
which I felt no capacity to manage, without giving offence to one whom I
had every reason to regard as a friend. Brant had been the scourge of my
native State during all the long and bloody war of the Revolution; and
his enormities had the less excuse to be plastered over on account of
his having received a Christian education, and speaking and writing his
own language. He was doubtless a man much above his red brethren
generally, for mental conception and boldness. It is true, I had heard
all the terrific details of his cruelties from the lips of my father,
who was an actor in the scenes described, at an age when impressions
sink deep. But I had outlived my youthful impressions, and felt disposed
to regard him as one of the most celebrated individuals of his race,
which race I had learned to regard as one of the peculiar types of
mankind. But I thought it injudicious to lay the story of the Revolution
on his shoulders--with the real causes of which his life had about as
much to do as the fly on the wagon-wheel, in turning it. I therefore on
broad grounds declined it.
The establishment of the University of Michigan and its branches over
the State, now excited considerable attention, and I began to receive
letters from various quarters on the subject. "At a meeting of the
people of this county (Kalamazoo)," says A. Edwards, Esq., "very
advantageous offers were made to the Board, in case it was by them
deemed proper to establish here one of the two branches contemplated
within the senatorial district."
Mr. Daniel B. Woods, Dorchester, Mass., writes me respecting an article
for the "Christian Keepsake," which has passed to the hands of the Rev.
Mr. Clark, of Philadelphia.
_25th_. Letters were received to-day from the Secretaries of the
Presbyterian, and from the Methodist Boards of Missions at New York,
proposing the establishment of missions for the Ottawas and Chippewas,
under the fourth article of the treaty of 1836. I advised Mr. Lowry, the
organ of the former, and also the Methodist Society, to select positions
south of this island in Lake Michigan.
_27th_. The first snow falls for the season.
_30th_. The chiefs of the Ottawas at L'Arbre Croche request that I would
procure and send them vaccine matter, having heard that the small-pox
existed at Grand River, and at Maskigo,
An Ottawa Indian, called Mis-kweiu-wauk (Red Cedar) brought a
counterfeit half dollar, saying that he had received it at the payments,
from Major Garland. It seemed to me that such was not the fact, but that
he had been sent by some saucy fellow. But I thought prudent to give him
a good half dollar in its place.
_Nov. 4th_. Information was received, that a strong party of Boisbrules
and Indians, who went west from Red River early in the fall, to hunt the
buffalo agreeably to their custom, were met and attacked by the Gros
Venters and Sioux of the plains, and one hundred of their number killed
in the affray.
_10th_. Completed arrangements to leave the office during the winter in
charge of Mr. F. W. Shearman.
_11th_. Embarked at Mackinack on board the steamer "Madison," for the
_18th_. Arrived at Detroit, and resumed the duties of the
superintendency at that point. Charles Rodd reports that three hundred
Saginaws have taken shelter on the St. Clair, from the ravages of the
small-pox, that they will pass the winter in the vicinity of Point au
Barques; and that, consequently, they will not attend the payments at
Saginaw this fall.
_17th_. Asked H. Conner, Esq., the signification 'of "Monguagon," He
replied, the true name is Mo-gwau-go [nong], and was a man's name,
signifying dirty backsides. It was the name of a Wyandot who died there.
_Mo_, in the Algonquin, means excrement; _gwau_ is a personal term; _o_,
the accusative; and _nong_, place. I observe that, in the Hebrew, the
same word _Mo_, denotes semen. The mode of combination, too, is not
diverse; thus, _mo-ab,_ in Hebrew, is a substantive of two roots, _mo_,
semen, and _ab_, father.
Paukad [Hebrew], Hebrew, means to strike upon or against any person or
thing. Pukatai Chip, is to strike anything animate or inanimate. Paukad,
in the same tongue, means a stroke of lightning.
_17th_. Judge Riggs, who has charge of affairs at Saginaw, reports that
about twenty Indians have been carried off by the small-pox, on the
Shiawassa, and the same number on the Flint River. Says the disease was
first brought to Saginaw by Mr. Gardiner D. Williams, and it was
afterwards extended to the Flint by Mr. Campau.
_21st_. Rev. J. A. Agnew, of N.Y., addresses me as one of the Regents
of the University, under a belief that the Board will, very soon,
proceed to the election of a chancellor and professors. He takes a very
just view of the importance of making it a fundamental point, to base
the course of instruction on a sound morality, and of insuring the
confidence of religious teachers of evangelical views,
_25th_. Mr. Conner brought me, some days ago, a cranium of an Indian,
named B-tow-i-ge-zhig (Both Sides of the Sun), who was killed and buried
near his house in a singular way.
It seems that another Indian, a young man, had fallen from a tree, and,
in his descent, injured his testicles, which swelled up amazingly.
Etowigezhig laughed at him, which so incensed the young fellow that he
suddenly picked up a pot-hook and struck him on the skull. It fractured
it, and killed him. So he died for a laugh. He was a good-natured man,
about forty-five, and a good hunter. I gave the skull to Mr. Toulmin
Smith, a phrenological lecturer.
_26th_. Mr. Cleaveland (Rev. John) preached his farewell sermon to the
First Presbyterian Church, Detroit, from Jonah iii. 2: "Arise and go to
Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid
thee." This message he has faithfully and ably delivered to them for
about five years that he has occupied this pulpit.
_27th_. A letter of this date, from Fort Union, on the Missouri,
published in the St. Louis Bulletin, gives a frightful account of the
ravages of the small-pox among the Mandans, Aurickerees, Minitares and
Gros Venters, of the Missouri. This disease, which first broke out about
the 15th of July, among the Mandans, carried off about fifteen hundred
of that tribe. It left about one hundred and thirty souls. It spread
rapidly, and during the autumn carried off about half of the two tribes
mentioned. It was carried to the Blackfeet, Crees, and Assinaboines, who
also suffered dreadfully. Upwards of one thousand of the Blackfeet
perished, and about five hundred Minitares. Whole lodges were swept
away, and the desolations created were frightful.
[Footnote 82: The report that they were entirely extinguished was an
error. The survivors fled to their relatives, the Minnitares, where they
increased rapidly, when they returned to their ancient villages on the
Missouri, where they now (1851) reside, numbering about five
_28th_. Mr. F. Ayer writes from Pokegoma, on Snake River, of the St.
Croix Valley of the Upper Mississippi: "Shall we be molested by
government soon, or at a future time; or, in case the government sell
the land to a company, or to individuals, will they consider our case
and make any reservation in our favor?"
_Dec. 2d_. Rev. Oren O. Thompson writes in relation to
"1. Have you a missionary engaged for that station?
"2. Do you feel the importance and necessity of obtaining one who is
already acquainted with the Indian language?
"3. Do you wish to engage one for that station, who is in sentiment a
"4. Are there appropriations for his support?
"5. What will be his business particularly?
"6. How long will he probably be wanted there?
"7. What, in your opinion, is the prospect of his usefulness there?"
_Dec. 1st_. Mr. Hamill, of Lawrenceville, N.J., responds to my inquiry
for a suitable school for my son--a matter respecting which I am just
now very solicitous.
_13th_. Set out by railroad for Flint River, accompanied by Major
Garland and Mr. Conner. Weather very cold, and the snow forming a good
road. At Pontiac, we took a double sleigh, and drove out to Flint
Village. I was invited to his house by Mr. Hascall, who did everything
to render the visit agreeable. Between 400 and 500 Indians were
assembled. They appeared poorly clad, and needy, having suffered greatly
from the small-pox during the autumn and winter. About 40 had died on
the Shiawassa River, and some 30 on the Flint. After the Major had
completed the payment of their annuities and delivery of goods, I opened
a negotiation with them to complete the sale of their reservations.
_16th_. In a letter of this date, Dr. Greene, Sec. of the A.B.C., for F.
Missions, adverts to the positions heretofore taken, by that board,
respecting the missionary establishment at Mackinack. The moral position
of that Board, with respect to _that_ Mission, appears to me to be
wrong. This mission involves the mission cause, in some important
respects, with the entire question of missionary operations over the
North-west--reaching from lat. 42 deg. to 49 deg., with many degrees of
longitude; for, from all this region, the Indian boys and girls of the
mission have been collected. It began operations with them, I think, in
1822; and having, in this interval, expended many thousand dollars, and
erected expensive buildings, it now drops the thing, just at the point
when the Indians have commenced important cessions, and when their
condition is such that they are not only inclined to receive interior
teachers and evangelists, which have been raised at that central point,
but, by these cessions to the government, they have provided funds for
schools and teachers.
Merely because the excellent superintendent determined, two or three
years ago, to leave this important point and enter into secular
business, to provide for a growing family; and because the attraction of
foreign fields carries young clergymen abroad, to the detriment of the
home field, it does not, I think, fulfil the highest requisitions of
duty to abandon the field, and thereby to leave it to be said that the
Board doubts God's purposes with regard to the red man. If the
missionary himself, who has so many years conducted the concern with
approbation, was not willing to trust his rewards to a higher power, but
aimed, as it were, to steady himself by stretching forth his hand, it
seems to me the race ought not to be the sufferers for such a course.
They constitute a vastly more appropriate field of labor than the
"millions of foreign lands," who sit, to a large extent, unaffected by
the Gospel. Not, indeed, that those fields should be neglected; but the
Indian race, and these large families of it, are worthy of a warmer
sympathy than I can see in Dr. Greene's letters, or the decisions of the
Board by whom he is governed.
_20th_. Signed a supplementary treaty with the Saginaws at Flint. By
this treaty the Saginaws relinquish their reserves in this valuable and
rapidly settling portion of the country, and agree to accept a location
on the head waters of the Osage, which their chiefs, have explored. They
are to occupy two of their reservations on the west shores of Saginaw
Bay, for five years. The government is to pay them the entire proceeds
of the land, as sold in the public land offices. They set apart funds
for schools, and to pay their debts. This tribe has now no instructors.
They have the reputation of being turbulent, and averse to all plans of
improvement. Their history is fraught with deeds of violence. They made
bloody inroads on the settlements of Western Virginia and Pennsylvania,
after the close of the war of the Revolution, and brought away captives.
One of these was the notorious and infamous John Tanner. They lived
under a perfect dictator, in the person of Kish-ka-ko, who made and
altered laws to suit a strong-willed savage mind. They were originally a
band of Chippewa refugees. They settled here when the Sauks in the 17th
century were driven off. Their name is derived from this. The true sound
of the word is _Saukinong_, or Place of the Sauks. It has been
improperly assimilated to Saganosh, _i.e._, Englishman.
_23d_. Rev. John A. Clark, of Philadelphia, writes, requesting a
contribution to the "Christian Keepsake," which denotes the interest in
the Indian subject to be unabated.
Tradition of Pontiac's conspiracy and death--Patriot war--Expedition of
a body of 250 men to Boisblanc--Question of schools and missions among
the Indians--Indian affairs--Storm at Michilimackinack--Life of
Brant--Interpreterships and Indian language--A Mohegan--Affair of the
"Caroline"--Makons--Plan of names for new towns--Indian legends--Florida
war--Patriot war--Arrival of Gen. Scott on the frontiers--Resume of the
difficulties of the Florida war--Natural history and climate of
Florida--Death of Doctor Lutner.
1838. _Jan. 1st_. OFFICE OF INDIAN AFFAIRS, DETROIT,--In the recent trip
to Flint River, Mr. Henry Conner told me one day that he had been
acquainted with the Indian person who, in 1763, informed Major Gladwyn,
the commanding officer at Detroit, of Pontiac's conspiracy.
The affair had other motives than Carver imagines. She thought more of
saving the life of Major Gladwin than of saving the whole Anglo-Saxon
race. She had been a very handsome person in her youth, being nearly
white, though of Indian blood. Owing to her gallantries, her husband had
bit off her nose. When an old woman, she became intemperate, and, on one
of these occasions, at a sugar camp on the Clinton River, she fell
backward into a boiling kettle of sap, and thus perished. Truly "the way
of the transgressor is hard."
He stated the tradition respecting Pontiac's death as it was related by
a chief who well knew the facts. The English made great efforts to
conciliate a man of such powerful abilities and influence, and
endeavored to enlist him as an ambassador among the Western Indians to
bring them into their interests. Pontiac used deception in appearing to
fall in with their views, and went on this business to the country of
the Illinois, which was then about to be surrendered to them. They took
the precaution to send with him, as an associate, a chief called
Chianocquot, or the Big Cloud, who was strongly attached to their
interests. When Pontiac reached the region of the Illinois posts,
instead of persuading the Indians to peace and friendship with the
English, he advised them not to surrender the country, and, in his
addresses to them, he used the most persuasive arguments to dissuade
them from permitting the surrendry at all, and gave vent to his natural
feelings and sentiments in favor of the French and against the English.
This had been his policy at Detroit. He appeared instinctively to dread
the advance of the English race, or, perhaps, really foresaw that their
arts and industry, against the adoption of which he so vehemently
inveighed, would uproot and crush the aboriginal race. Chianocquot was
roused to anger by this duplicity and dispatched him.
[Footnote 83: Nicollet, in his _Hydrographical Report_ in 1841, has
placed this tradition in its proper light. He gives a somewhat different
account of Pontiac's death, which he states to have taken place when he
was in liquor, and the blow was insidiously given.
A Kaskaskia Indian, it seems, was hired for a barrel of rum by an Indian
trader to commit the act. The blow he inflicted by his club fractured
the skull of his victim, who lingered a while, but eventually died of
the wound. This was at Fort Chartres, in Illinois.]
Mr. Conner continued: Pontiac's village and residence near Detroit was
Peach Island and the main shore directly abreast of it, north-east. In
the summer he lived on the island, and in the winter on the main land.
Pontiac was offended at the Indian who, during the siege, killed
McDougel, and would have put him to death for the act had the murderer
not fled. The man who did it had been absent, and did not know that this
officer had received permission to return to the fort.
_4th_. Walter Lowrie, Esq., Secretary of the Presbyterian Board of
Foreign Missions at New York, writes that the Executive Committee have
determined to establish a mission and school among the Chippewas and
Ottawas of Lake Michigan as early in the spring as suitable men can
_8th_. The Canadian, or patriot war, is now at its height. The city has
been kept in a perfect turmoil by it for weeks. The setting fire to
outbuildings or deserted houses almost every dark night, appears to be
connected with it. One dark night I stumbled and fell on an uneven
pavement on a part of Jefferson Avenue, and immediately a voice cried
"Hurrah for Canada!" There was an intense excitement among the lower
classes in its favor, which it required a high degree of moral energy in
the lovers of law and order to keep down.
This morning a conservative force of 250 volunteer militia embarked, at
two P.M., in a steamer for Amherstburg (the Malden of the war of 1812),
to demand the surrendry of the State arms recently taken from their
place of deposit--the city jail. This demand is to be made of the
patriot refugee force from Canada, who are about to take post on the
island of Boisblanc, at the mouth of the Detroit River. It was a
well-armed force, with muskets and cartridge-boxes well filled; but it
was found that, on the way down the river, their cartridge-boxes had
been relieved, by persons friendly to the patriots on board, of every
particle of ammunition. The detachment returned about eleven o'clock at
night, having proved wholly unsuccessful in the object of the movement.
Mr. Ball, a representative in the local legislature from Kent County,
called this day to inquire into the propriety of establishing a
sub-agency at Grand Rapids, on Grand River, for the ostensible benefit
of the Ottawas in that quarter. The question of the division of funds
between schools established for a part of the same people at Gull
Prairie, under the care of Mr. Slater, and the separate school at Sault
Ste. Marie, in Chippewa County, in the care of Mr. Bingham, both of
which are under the general direction of the Baptist Missionary Board at
Boston, was considered and approved, and letters written accordingly.
These efforts, at detached points, to improve the race must, we are
inclined to believe, eventually fail. Two races so diverse in mind and
habits cannot prosper together permanently; but the hope is that
temporary good may be done. An Indian who is converted and dies in the
faith, is essentially "a brand plucked out of the fire," and no man can
undertake to estimate the moral value of the act. A child who is taught
to read and write is armed with two requisites for entering civilized
life. But the want of general efficient efforts, unobstructed by local
laws and deleterious influences, cannot but, in a few years, convince
the Boards that the colonization of the tribes West is the best, if not
the only hope of prosperity to the race _as a race_.
_9th_. Lieut. E. S. Sibley, U.S.A., sets out to pay the Grand River
Indians. I commissioned Charles H. Oakes, Esq., to witness the pay
rolls. Mr. Conner returns the same day from attending the payments of
the Swan Creek and Black River bands. He reports the Indians on the
American side of the lines not disposed to engage in the present unhappy
contest in the Canadas. Exertions, he affirms, have been made by the
British authorities to induce the Chippewas living in Canada, opposite
to the mouth of Black River, to engage in the conflict against their
revolted people, but without success. They threatened, if matters were
pushed, to flee to the American side. He states, also, that a council to
the same effect had been held with the Canada Indians opposite Peach
Island, at the foot of Lake St. Glair, which resulted in the same
_12th_. The appraisement rolls transmitted to Washington by Messrs.
Macdonnel & Clarke, the appraisers appointed under the 8th article of
the treaty of 28th March, 1836, were judged to be too high; and the
subject was referred for revision to Maj. Garland and myself. I this day
transmitted a joint reply of the major and myself, stating how
impossible it would be to revise so complex a subject without
opportunities of personal examination in each case--a business which
neither of us desires.
_16th_. Received the first winter express from Mackinack, transmitting
reports from the various persons in official employ there. They report a
great storm at that place on the 8th and 9th of December, 1837, in the
course of which the light-house on Boisblanc was blown down, and other
damage done by the rise of water.
_18th_. Received the Senate's printed document, No. 1, containing the
President's annual message and all the Secretaries' reports. The
Commissioner of Indian Affairs recommends the abolition of sub-agencies,
and the raising of the pay of interpreters--two measures recommended in
my annual report. The department is very much in the hands of ignorant
and immoral interpreters, who frequently misconceive the point to be
interpreted. Could we raise up a set of educated and moral men for this
duty, the department would stand on high grounds. Surely, a sort of
normal institute could teach the principles of the Indian grammar, as
well as the Greek. There is no _sound_ without a _meaning_, and no
meaning conveyed without an orthographical _rule_. They do not _gabble_
at random, as some think. Their modes of utterance are, it is true,
often defective, but they are not without grammatical _laws_, I inquired
into this matter at my first entrance into the Indian country of the
Algonquins, sixteen years ago. I found that verbs had eight classes of
conjugations, and ten including the broad vowels; five declensions of
nouns, and two sets of pronouns, one to be placed before and the other
at the end of the verb and substantive. That all substantives could be
changed into verbs; that there were a stock of adjective and
prepositional participles, and that the mode of forming compounds and
derivatives was varied, but all subject to the most exact rules. They
have a very accurate appreciation of _sound_ and its varied meanings,
and are pushed to use figures to help out or illustrate a meaning; but
the excessive refinements of syntax, for which some contend, are
theories in the minds of unpracticed collaborators.
_18th_. I wrote to Mr. Palfrey, E.N.A.R., declining to review Stone's
"Brant," and apprizing him of the preparation of an article on the
"North-west," by Mr. I. Lanman. "I take this occasion to say that I have
received the proof-sheets of some hundred and fifty pages of Col.
Stone's _Life of Brant_. It is a work somewhat discursive, and involves
some critical points in Indian history and customs. I should not feel
willing to commence a notice of it, without having the whole before me.
The hero of the work hardly exerts influence enough on the revolutionary
contest to justify the attempt of piling on him so much of the materials
of that momentous contest, and I think, moreover, there is a perceptible
attempt made to _whitewash_ a man who lived and died with no slight nor
_19th_. Hendrick Apaumut, a Mohegan chief, of Wisconsin, applied for
aid, in money, to facilitate his journey to Washington. What the Indians
lack, in their business affairs, is system and method; foresight to
plan, and stability to carry into effect.
Received a copy of the message of the President, communicating the
thrilling circumstances of the recent massacre on board of the ill-fated
steamer "Caroline," and the gross outrage of national rights committed
by the burning of that boat and the destruction of her crew. Palliatives
for the act will undoubtedly be plead; but the act itself will probably
make a hero, in the estimation of his countrymen, of Mr. McNab, if it
does nothing more.
_22d_. The friends of education in Michigan, having assembled in
convention, issue a circular calling attention to that vital subject,
and recommend a "Journal of Public Instruction" to the patronage of the
people. There can be no fear of our institutions as long as education is
_24th_. Maconse (the Little Bear), chief of the Swan Creeks, writes to
Gov. Mason that it is reported some of his people are about to join the
Canadian authorities to put down the partial revolt. The Governor,
probably thinking I would better know how to deal with him, sends the
letter to me. The fellow, whose moral code is not very high, only meant
to give himself a little consequence by it. Both he and his people will
take good care to keep out of harm's way.
_24th_. Gov. Mason informs me that he has communicated to the
Legislature of Michigan my plan for a system of Indian names
communicated to him on the 12th instant, for the new counties and towns,
founded on the idea of the avoidance of the number of dead letters
reported as annually received at Washington, from their misdirection.
This misdirection is supposed to arise chiefly from great repetition of
old township, city, county, and village names. Let any one take up a
gazetteer or post-office list who wishes to see this. Names that are
sonorous and appropriate are rejected; but there is hardly a county in
any of the new States without their Springfields, and Fairfields, and
Oxfords, and Warwicks without number. Where they do not abound taste is
often put to shame. Mud Creek, and Jack's Corner, and Shingle Hollow are
doubtless appropriate names compared to some. But cannot _we supply a
remedy by drawing on the aboriginal vocabulary_?
_26th_. Completed the revision of a body of Indian oral legends,
collected during many years with labor. These oral tales show up the
Indian in a new light. Their chief value consists in their exhibition of
aboriginal opinions. But, if published, incredulity will start up
critics to call their authenticity in question. There are so many Indian
tales fancied, by writers, that it will hardly be admitted that there
exist any _real_ legends. If there be any literary labor which has cost
me more than usual pains, it is this. I have weeded out many vulgarisms.
I have endeavored to restore the simplicity of the original style. In
this I have not always fully succeeded, and it has been sometimes found
necessary, to avoid incongruity, to break a legend in two, or cut it
The steamer "Robert Fulton" arrived at Detroit, with three companies of
U.S. troops, under the command of Col. Worth, to keep up neutrality, put
down the wild "patriot movement," and prevent disturbances on
_27th_. Mr. Trowbridge tells me that he has heard of the arrival of our
minister to France (Gen. Cass), at Port Mahon, with his family, on his
return to Paris, from his Mediterranean tour. He had carried out a
letter to Com. Elliot, from the President, to offer him every facility
in this trip to visit the sites of Oriental cities.
_30th_. Transmit to Washington a plan and estimates for building a
dormitory at Mackinack, under the provision of the treaty of March,
1836. Such a building has been long called for at that point, where the
Indians are often sojourners, without a place to sleep, or cook the
provisions furnished them.
_Feb. 1st_. The _Knickerbocker Magazine says_: "That the Indian oratory
contains many attributes of true eloquence. With a language so barren,
and minds too free for the rules of rhetoric, they still attained a
power of touching the feelings, and a sublimity of style, which rival
the highest productions of their more cultivated enemies."
_7th_. Mr. Palfrey, in a letter of this date, observes: "I have only to
repeat that, in the preparation of the article (on Stone's
'Brant'--which I hope you will not think of giving up), I trust you will
not hesitate to introduce, with the utmost freedom, whatever your
respect for the truth of history, and distaste for the tricks of
bookmaking, may dictate."
_11th_. General Jessup writes to the department that, "we have committed
the error of attempting to remove the Seminoles, when their lands were
not required for agricultural purposes, when they were not in the way of
the white inhabitants, and when the greater portion of their country was
an unexplored wilderness, of the interior of which we were as ignorant
as of the interior of China." He recommends a line of occupancy west of
the Kissamee and Okee Chubbe, which they may be allowed to occupy.
_20th_. W. Lowrie, Esq., S.P.B.F. Missions, in a letter of this date,
says: "I was glad to see your suggestion to the government in relation
to a cabinet and library in the Indian office."
_22d_. Charles E. Anderson, Esq., of New York, announces his intention
to visit Europe. "I will not leave here until the 15th of March, at
least, when I shall take out my wife with me, and anticipate much
gratification in presenting her to such a pattern of goodness and true
feminine excellence as Mrs. Cass. Anything you wish to forward I will
attend to with pleasure, and when in Paris will not forget the
interesting subject of your letter, and will inform you what books may
be obtained respecting the early history of the country."
_26th_. Gen. Scott this day arrived at Detroit, with a view to quiet the
disturbances on the lines, and see to the proper disposition of the
troops along the chain of lakes to effect this end. I immediately called
on him, and offered him any of the peculiar facilities, which are at the
command of the Indian department, in sending expresses in the Indian
_27th_. Major H. Whiting, U.S.A., writes from St. Augustine, Florida:
"I have been favored with your letter of a month since, it having, I
dare say, made all due diligence the post office arrangements admit. But
the time shows the sort of intercourse I am doomed to have with my
Detroit friends. I consider that the country ought to feel under
obligations to one who serves her at such a sacrifice. Indeed, she can
make us no adequate return, but to allow me to return--the only _return_
I ask. When, however, that favor will be granted is past my guessing.
You ask when the war will terminate? You could not puzzle any of us more
than by putting such a question. We are more at our wit's end than the
war's end. And yet I do not see that anything has been left undone, that
might have been done. The army has moved steadily toward its objects.
But those objects are like a mirage, they are always nearly the same
distance off. What can we do in such a case?
"The army for the last few weeks has been operating in a country that is
more than half under water. It has often been difficult to find a spot
dry enough for an encampment. If the troops do not all come out
web-footed, it is because water can't make a duck's leg.
"I am on the lookout for specimens. I have one small alligator's bones,
and have laid in for those of a larger one, an old settler, no doubt
going back to Bartram's days. Alligators here have suffered more than
the Indians in this war. I should judge that several hundreds have been
killed from the boats as they pass up and down. They all have a bed
just in the bank of the river, where they sleep in the sun, and the
temptation is too great for any rifle, and they generally wake up a
little too late. Mineral specimens here are not various. I have
collected a few in order to show my friends, who can draw inferences
from them. Shells have had a principal hand in the formation of this
peninsula. They form the ninety-ninth part of the rock in this quarter.
It is a most convenient formation, being worked almost as easily as
clay, and yet it makes substantial walls. Frost, I presume, would play
the deuce with it. But that is a thing not much known here. I have not
yet had the pleasure to fix my northern eye on a piece of ice this
winter, though there has been a cream thickness of it once or twice. A
pitcher frozen over here makes more noise than the river frozen over at
Detroit. The frogs have piped here all winter--happy dogs. I have been
out at all times and in all places, and I don't think my nose has been
blue but once since I have been here--I have not been blue myself once.
I have not yet been to Ponce de Leon's spring. But there are some
springs here of a wondrous look. They are so transparent that the fish
can scarce believe themselves there in their own element. The Mackinack
waters are almost turbid to them. They have a most sulphurous odour, and
_might_ renew a man's youth, but it must be at the expense of all sweet
smells. I would rather keep on than go back on such conditions.
"In the fight which Lieut. Powell had with the Indians, a Doctor Lutner
was killed, who was a scientific man, and had joined the expedition to
botanize, &c. He had already done something in that way, and would have
done much more. Such a life is a great loss."
Indiana tampered with at Grand River--Small-pox in the Missouri
Valley--Living history at home--Sunday schools--Agriculture--Indian
names--Murder of the Glass family--Dr. Morton's inquiries respecting
Indian crania--Necessity of one's writing his name plain--Michigan
Gazetteer in preparation--Attempt to make the Indian a political
pack-horse--Return to the Agency of Michilimackinack--Indian skulls
phrenologically examined--J. Toulmin Smith--Cherokee question--Trip to
Grand River--Treaty and annuity payments--The department accused of
injustice to the Indians.
1838. _March 2d_. LIEUT. E. S. SIBLEY, U.S.A., called at the office,
and reported certain things which had been put into the heads of the
Indians of Grand River, by interested persons, which they had at the
recent annuity payments, requested him to state to me. Also, the fact of
an outrage upon one of their number, committed by a white person, which
should have been redressed at once by the civil magistrates. There is
but one way of escape for the Indians living in white communities, that
is, to place them, at once, under the protection, and subject to the
penalties of our criminal and civil codes.
_3d_. Renewed and confirmatory accounts are published at St. Louis, of
the desolating effects of the small-pox among the Indian tribes on the
Missouri. In addition to the tribes mentioned in the first accounts as
having suffered, the Upsarokees, or Crows, have been dreadfully
afflicted. The various bands of the Pie-gans, Blood Indians, and
Blackfeet, have lost great numbers. And the visitation of this appalling
disease, against which they have no remedy, has been one of the severest
ever felt by these tribes. Compared to it, the loss that the Saginaws
and other local bands in Michigan have felt, is small; but it is an
instructive fact, that the outbreak has been concurrent in point of
time, on the Missouri and in Michigan, which would seem to imply a
climatic condition of the atmosphere, on a wide scale, favorable to
_6th_. A.E. Wing, Esq., declines to deliver the annual address before
the Michigan Historical Society, owing to other engagements. Few men who
have capacity are found willing to devote the time necessary for the
preparation of a literary address, even where the materials for it would
appear to lie ready. The pressing practical calls of life, in a new
country, where there is no hereditary wealth, appear to furnish a valid
reason for this. But another reason is, that the materials and frame-work
of an address are sought for at too great a distance, and are thought to
lie too deeply buried, to be disinterred by any but extraordinary hands.
This is a mistake. The subjects are at home, and exist not only in
exploring old literary mines, but in the very circumstances around us.
What more extraordinary than the current which throws such masses of
people daily among us, tearing up, as it were, the old plan of life, and
laying the foundations of new social ties in the wilderness. Not a
county is settled in the West, the initial steps of which does not
furnish legitimate materials for an address which would edify the living
generation, and instruct those which are to follow us. A single century
hence, and how much tradition will sleep in the grave that might now be
rescued! Somebody has written a book "How to Observe," but there is good
need of another--"HOW TO THINK."
_7th_. A new and growing society has every kind of moral want. The
necessity for education exists in a thousand forms; and if the friends
of it do not bestir themselves, the enemies will. The friends of the
Sunday School Union, in Michigan, feeling impressed with these views,
issued a circular this day, making an appeal which deserves a hearty
response. Michigan mind appears very active in every department.
_17th_. Received a circular (from Messrs. Baloh & Wales, of Marshall,
Calhoun Co.) for the issue of an agricultural paper, adequate to the
wants of that interest.
_29th_. Dr. D. Houghton, the agent of the Geological Survey of the
State, which is in progress, commits to me, in a letter of this date,
the topic of the Indian terminology, and the bestowal of new names, from
the aboriginal vocabulary.
_30th_. An inquest was held this day, in Ionia, on the head waters of
Grand River, on the bodies of a woman and two children, supposed
(mistakingly) to have been murdered by the Indians. By the testimony
adduced, it is shown that a Mr. Aensel D. Glass, of whose family the
bodies consist, lived about four miles from the nearest neighbor. He had
not been seen since the 14th of the month. On the 28th, a Mr. Hiram
Brown, one of his nearest neighbors, went there on business, and found
the house burned, and the bodies of his wife and children lying half
burned in the area of the house (which was of logs), having been
previously most horribly mutilated. No trace could be found of Mr.
Glass, nor of a good rifle, two axes, and two barrels of flour, which he
was known to have had.
Suspicion first fell on the Grand River Ottawas. I investigated the
subject, and found this unjust. They are a peaceable, orderly,
agricultural people, friendly to the settlers, and having no cause of
dislike to them. Suspicion next fell on the Saginaws, who hunt in that
quarter, and whose character has not recovered from the imputation of
murder and plunder committed during the war of 1812. Petossegay was
named as the probable aggressor. But on an investigation made by Mr.
Conner, at Saginaw, this imputation was also found improbable, and he
was dismissed, leaving the horrible mystery unexplained.
[Footnote 84: Mr. Glass was subsequently, in 1841, found alive in
_April 1st_. Dr. Samuel George Morton, of Philadelphia, who is preparing
a comprehensive work on aboriginal crania, writes:--"Your obliging
letter, offering me any information you might possess that would promote
my work on the skulls of the American tribes, makes me free to put to
you the following inquiries, inasmuch as I am desirous of seeing as many
tribes, and as many individuals as possible, in a limited space of time.
"When will the next annual payment be made at Mackinaw, and how many
tribes, and what number of people do you think will assemble on
"If I visit Mackinaw, can I readily cross the country to the
Mississippi, and what length of time will be required on the journey?
"It is my intention to visit Mackinaw, or any adjacent place, that, in
your judgment, will give me the greatest opportunity for seeing the
Indians, and I shall await your advice thereon.
"My work progresses rapidly. Twenty of sixty plates are already
finished, and I hope to complete the work before the close of the year.
I shall soon have an opportunity of forwarding, as far as Detroit, a set
of my plates for your inspection and acceptance."
_10th_. Washington Irving writes: "I have to acknowledge the receipt of
a letter informing me of my having been elected an honorary member of
the Michigan Historical Society, of which, I perceive, you are
President. Not being able to make out the name of the Corresponding
Secretary, I have to ask the favor of you to assure the Society of the
deep sense I entertain of the honor they have done me, and my ready
disposition to promote the views of so meritorious an institution." What
is worthy of note herein is this, that the name which the distinguished
writer could not make out, is that of one of our most fluent penmen,
namely, C.C. Trowbridge, Esq., but who, on scrutiny, I perceive, writes
his name worse than anything else, and so inconceivably bad that a
stranger might not be able to guess it.
_16th_. Mr. John T. Blois, who is engaged on a Gazetteer of the State of
Michigan, acknowledges the receipt from me of some details respecting
the statistical and topographical departments of his work. The
difficulty to be met with by all gazetteers of the new States, consists
in this, that most classes of the data alter so much in a few years that
the books do not present the true state of things. Towns and counties
spring up like magic, and if old Aladdin had his lamp he could not more
expeditiously cover the shores of streams, and valleys, and plains, with
seats, mills, and various institutions belonging to our system.
[Footnote 85: This was proved by the result. The work was published in
Oct., 1838, and was a very creditable performance, but the author had
been two or three or even four years about it, and the information was
just this time out of date.]
_19th_. A memorial is got up in Ionia County, on Grand River, respecting
the Indians, their feelings and their affairs. In it facts are
distorted, opinions misapprehended, and the acts and policy of the
government and its agents greatly misconceived in some things, and
wholly misrepresented in others. And the paper, when examined by the
lights of treaties and acts, as they really occurred, is to be regarded
as the work of some ambitious man who wishes to get on the backs of the
Indians to ride into office, or to promote, in some other way, selfish
and concealed ends. All such attempts, though they may seem to "run
well" for a time, and may result in temporary success, may be safely
left to the counteraction of right opinions. For it has always remained
an axiom of truth, verified by every day's experience, "That he that
diggeth a pit for his neighbor shall himself fall into it."
_20th_. General Jo. M. Brown, of the militia, who with the valor of the
redoubtable Peter Stuyvesant at Christina, marched into Toledo,
"brimful of wrath and cabbage," transmits the above precious memorial,
not to the Department, or the President, to whom it is ostensibly
addressed, but to the editor of a political party paper at Detroit, to
"manufacture" public opinion, claiming, at the same time, very high
motives for so very disinterested an act, in which the good of the
Indians, and the integrity of public faith, are clearly held forth as
the aim of the writer. The editor endorsing it with most high-sounding
phrases, in which he speaks of it as taking fit place beside the most
atrocious fictions, which have been conjured up by mistaken heads and
zealous hearts, anxious to ride the aforesaid "Indian question," in
relation to the Cherokees and Florida Indians. When all this
grandiloquent display of parental sympathy, and a sense of outraged
justice, is stripped of its false garbs and put into the crucible of
truth, the result is, that political capital can be made just now of the
handling of the topic. A delay of a few months (owing to the fiscal
crisis at Washington) in the payment of half the annuity for the year,
and the neglect or refusal of a few bands to come for the other moiety,
as ready in silver, and paid at the stipulated time and place, is made
the subject of allusion in this political hue and cry. As to these
bands, they are the most peaceable, corn-planting, and semi-agricultural
bands in the State. They have been pre-eminently cultivators from an
early date of their history, and have been so characteristically
addicted to barter, in the products of their industry as to be called by
the other Algonquin bands, Ottawas, or traders from the days of
Champlain. They had probably as little to do with the Glass murder in
Ionia, which is alleged as an instance of hostility to the United
States, as Gen. Jo. M. Brown himself.
_20th_. Mrs. Caroline Lee Hentz, one of our female writers, in a note of
acknowledgment to the Hist. Soc., falls into the same quandary about
making out the signature of one of our most expert and beautiful penmen,
that Washington Irving did. She could by no means make out Mr.
Trowbridge's name, and addressed her reply to me.
_21st_. Having passed the winter at Detroit, I left the Superintendency
office in charge of Mr. Lee, an efficient clerk, and embraced the
sailing of one of the earliest vessels for the Upper Lakes, to return to
Michilimackinack. Winter still showed some of its aspects there,
although gardening at Detroit had been commenced for weeks. The
difference in latitude is nearly four and a half degrees; the
geographical distance is computed by mariners at 300 miles.
_May 1st._ In a communication from Mr. J. Toulmin Smith, he expresses
his anxiety to procure some Indian skulls from the tribes of the Upper
Lakes, to be employed in his lectures on phrenology; and, also, for the
purpose of transmission to London. This gentleman lectured acceptably on
this topic during the winter at Detroit. During these lectures, I gave
him the skull of Etowigezhik, a Chippewa, who was killed on Mr. Conner's
farm about four or five years ago. He pronounced the anterior portion to
exceed in measurement by one-half an inch the posterior, and drew
conclusions favorable to the natural intellect.
_10th_. The Cherokee question assumes a definite crisis. Gen. Scott
issues, under this date, a friendly proclamation to the Cherokees,
calling on them to remove peaceably, under the terms of the treaty of
1835, telling them that more than two years had already elapsed after
the time agreed on, and that they would be provided, in their removal to
the west of the Mississippi, with food, clothing, and every means of
transportation; and making a just and humane appeal to their sense of
justice to remote; but assuring them that, if these considerations were
allowed to pass unheeded, his instructions were imperative, and he had
an army at his command, and would be compelled to order it to act in the
premises. Such an appeal must be successful.
However much we may sympathize with the poetic view of the subject, and
admire that spirit of the human heart which loves to linger about its
ancient seats and homes, the question in this case has assumed a purely
practical aspect founded on public transactions, which cannot be
recalled. The inaptitude of the Indian tribes generally, for conducting
the business of self-government, and their want of a wise foresight in
anticipating the relative power and position of the two great opposing
races in America, namely, the white and red, has been the primary cause
of all their treaty difficulties. The treaties themselves are not
violated in any respect, but being written by lawyers and legalists, the
true intent of some of these provisions, or the relative condition of
the parties at a given time, are not sometimes fully appreciated; and at
other times, the Indian chiefs exercise diplomatic functions which their
nation has not restored, as in the case of the Creeks of Georgia, or to
the exercise of which the majority are actually opposed, as in the
treaty of New Echota with the Cherokees. Some of their most intelligent
and best minds led the way to and signed the treaty of final cession of
New Echota, in 1835. But the compensation being found ample, and the
provisions wise, and such as would, in the judgment of the United States
Senate, secure their prosperity and advancement permanently, that body,
on large consideration, yielded its assent, making, at the same time,
further concessions to satisfy the malcontents. These are the final
arrangements for leaving the land to which Gen. Scott, in his
This tribe has lived in its present central position longer than the
period of exact history denotes. They are first heard of under the name
of "Achalaques," by the narrator of De Soto's Conquest of Florida, in
1540; within a dozen years of three centuries ago.
_June 2d_. I proceeded, during the latter part of May, to visit the
Ottawas of the southern part of Michigan, to inquire about their schools
under the treaty of '36, and to learn, personally, their condition
during the state of the rapid settlements pressing around them. I went
to Chicago by steamboat, and there found a schooner for Grand River.
Here I was pleased to meet our old pastor, Mr. Ferry, as a proprietor
and pastor of the newly-planned town of Grand Haven. I had to wait here,
some days, for a conveyance to the Grand Rapids, which gave me time to
ramble, with my little son, about the sandy eminences of the
neighborhood, and to pluck the early spring flowers in the valley. The
"Washtenong," a small steamer with a stern-wheel, in due time carried us
up. Among the passengers was an emigrant English family from Canada, who
landed at a log house in the woods. I was invited, at the Rapids, to
take lodgings with Mr. Lewis Campeau, the proprietor of the village. The
fall of Grand River here creates an ample water power. The surrounding
country is one of the most beautiful and fertile imaginable, and its
rise to wealth and populousness must be a mere question of time, and
that time hurried on by a speed that is astonishing. This generation
will hardly be in their graves before it will have the growth and
improvements which, in other countries, are the results of centuries.
_5th_. I this day, in a public council at the court house, paid the
Indians the deferred half annuity of last year (1837) in silver coin,
and afterwards concluded a treaty with them, modifying the treaty of
28th March, 1836, so far as to make it obligatory on the government to
pay their annuities here instead of Michilimackinack. The annuities in
salt, tobacco, provisions and goods, were also delivered to them by
agents appointed for the purpose. They expressed themselves, and
appeared to be highly gratified, with the just fulfilment of every
treaty obligation, and with the kind and benevolent policy and treatment
of the American government.
I took this occasion to call their attention to the murder of the Glass
family in Ionia, in the month of March last. They utterly disclaimed it,
or any participation of any kind in its perpetration. They agreed to
send delegates west, in accordance with the 8th art. of the treaty of
'36, to explore the country on the sources of the Osage River, for their
future permanent residence. They were well content with their teachers
and missionaries of all denominations. The Chief Nawequageezhig, in