Letter from a mother--Cholera--Indian war--Royal Geographical
Society--Determine to leave the Sault--Death of Miss Cass--Death of
Rev. Mr. Richard--Notice of the establishment of a Methodist Mission
at the--The Sault a religious place--Botany and Natural History--New
University organized--Algic Society--Canadian boat song--Chaplains
in the army--Letter from a missionary--Affairs at Mackinack--Hazards
lake commerce--Question of the temperance reform--Dr. D.
Houghton--South Carolina resists--Gen. Jackson re-elected President.
1832. Aug. 25th. To clear my table of the correspondence
accumulated during my absence, and report my proceedings to
government, required my first attention. Among the matters purely
personal, was a letter of inquiry from a mother anxious to learn the
fate of an apparently wayward son (named George J. Clark). "I had a
letter from him, dated 24th June, 1881, in which he stated he was
about to start with you on an expedition to the Upper Mississippi,
and this is the last intelligence we have ever had of him.
"If he went with you on that expedition, you have, probably some
information to give relative to his present condition, if alive, or
of his fate, if dead.
"Will you be kind enough to give the information desired by letter
to me, at this place (Canandaigua, N. Y.)? By so doing you will
confer a favor on a fond mother and many friends." Not a lisp had
ever been heard of such a person, at least by that name.
The whole country, it was found, had now been in commotion for a
month or more, owing to the ravages of the cholera and the Black
Hawk war. The cholera had first broken out, it appears, in the Upper
Lakes, on board the steamers Sheldon Thompson and Henry Clay,
containing troops for the war. Its ravages on board of both were
fearful. One of the boats landed several soldiers at the island of
Michilimackinack, who died there. A boatman engaged in the fur trade
took the disease and died after he had reached the Little Rapids,
and another at Point aux Pins, at the foot of Lake Superior.
But the disease did not spread in that latitude. "We have heard,"
says a correspondent (25th July), "from Chicago, that the ravages of
the cholera are tenfold worse than the scalping-knife of the Black
Hawk and his party. A great many soldiers died, while on their way
to Chicago, on board the steamers."
27th. The agent of the dead-letter post-office, at
Washington, transmits me a diploma of membership of the Royal
Geographical Society of London, which appears to have been
originally misdirected and gone astray to St. Mary's, Georgia. The
envelope had on it the general direction of "United States,
America"--a wide place to find a man in.
Sept. 11th. A letter, of this date, from the head of the
Department, at Washington, leaves it optional with me, under the
consolidation of agencies, to choose my place of residence. "You can
make your own choice of residence between the Sault and Mackinack,
and arrange your subordinate offices as you think proper."
I determined to remove the seat of the agency to Mackinack next
spring, and to make this my last winter at the Sault. I have now
been ten years a resident of this place.
The most serious inroad upon my circle of friends, made by death
during my absence, was the sudden death, at Detroit, of the eldest
daughter of the Secretary of War. Miss Elizabeth Selden Cass was a
young lady of bright mental qualities, and easy, cultivated manners
and deportment, and her sudden removal, though prepared by her moral
experience for the change, must leave a blank in social circles
which will be long felt and deplored.
Her father writes, upon this irreparable loss: "A breach has been
made in our domestic circle which can never be repaired. I can yet
hardly realize the change. It has almost prostrated me, and I should
abandon office without hesitation were it not that a change of
climate seems indispensable to Mrs. C., and I trust she will avoid
in Washington those severe attacks to which she has been subject for
the last five winters."
12th. Mr. Trowbridge writes: "Mr. Richard is dead. He was
attacked by a diarrhoea, and neglected it too long." Mr. R. was the
Catholic priest at Detroit, and as such has been a prominent man in
the territory for many years. He was elected Delegate to Congress in
1824, I think, and served two years in that capacity. I once heard
him preach nearly two hours on the real presence. He finally said,
"that if this doctrine was not true, Jesus Christ must be a fool."
These, I think, were the precise words. When attending, by rotation,
as one of the chaplains for the Legislative Council while I was a
member, he used to pray very shrewdly "that the legislators might
make laws for the people and not for themselves." He spoke English
in a broken manner and with a false accent, which often gave
interest to what he said when the matter was not otherwise
22d. Rev. John Clark, of Northville, Montgomery Co., N.Y., of
the Methodist Connection, writes: "Should it please Divine
Providence, I hope to be at your place in May or June next, for the
purpose of opening a permanent mission and school among the
Chippewas at such place, and as early as may be advisable."
27th. Rev. W. T. Boutwell, of the A. B. Commissioners for
Foreign Missions, now at La Pointe, Lake Superior, writes: "I could
not, to a degree, help entering into all your anxieties about the
cholera, which reports were calculated to beget, but rejoice, not
less than yourself, that the Lord has spared those who are dear to
us both. My fears, I rejoice to say, have not been realized, in
relation to my friends at Mackinack and the Sault, when I heard of
the disease actually existing at Mackinack. Were it not that the
Lord is righteous and knoweth them that are his, the righteous even
might fear and tremble, when judgments are abroad in the land.
"I was happy indeed to learn that you remain at the Sault, the
present winter. Happy for brother Porter's sake, and for the sake of
those whose hands you may and will strengthen, and hearts encourage.
I never think of the Sault but I wish myself there. 'It is now a
happy spot--a place favored of heaven,' said one of my Mackinack
friends to me once in conversation; 'I once felt as though I could
never see that place, as I always associated with it everything
wicked, but now I should love to go there--the Lord is there.'"
Oct. 5th. Dr. Torrey writes from N.Y.: "I rejoice to learn
that you have returned in safety from your fatiguing and perilous
journey to the north-west. Dr. Houghton wrote me a letter which I
received a few days ago, dated Sault de St. Marie, stating the
general results of the expedition, but I have read, with great
satisfaction, the account which was published in the Detroit
Journal of Sept. 26th. A kind Providence has preserved you
during another absence, and I hope He will cause the results of your
labors to prove a blessing to our Red brethren, as well as the
United States at large."
"Dr. Houghton sent me some of the more interesting plants which he
brought with him last year, but he said the best part of your
collections were destroyed by getting wet.
"By all means send Mr. Cooper your shells. He knows more about fresh
water shells than any naturalist in New York. By the way, have you
seen Mr. Lea's splendid monograph (with colored plates) of Unios, in
the Transactions of the American Philosophical Society?"
"Are we to have a narrative of the two expeditions in print? I hope
you consent to publish, and let us have an appendix containing
descriptions of the objects in natural history.
"You have heard, perhaps, something about the University of the City
of New York, which was planned about two years ago. It went into
operation a few days ago, under the most favorable prospects. The
council have given me a place in it (Prof. Chem. Bot. and
Mineralogy), the duties of which I can discharge in addition to
those which I attend to in the medical college, as the latter
occupies only four months in the year."
About the middle of September I embarked at the Sault for Detroit,
for the purpose chiefly of meeting the Secretary of War--taking with
me thus far, my little sister Anna Maria, on her way to school at
Hadley, in Massachusetts. While at Detroit, several meetings of
benevolent individuals were held, and the constitution of the Algic
Society was signed by many gentlemen of standing and note, and an
election of officers made. Having been honored with the presidency,
I delivered a brief address at one of these meetings. This, together
with the following resolutions, which were passed at the same time,
indicate the contemplated mode of action1.
It was not intended to be exclusively a missionary or educational
society, but also, to collect scientific and statistical information
essential to both objects, and to offer facilities to laborers on
the frontiers, and answer inquiries made by agents authorized by the
General Boards from the old States. The effort was appreciated and
warmly approved by the friends of missions and humanity; but it
required great and continual personal efforts to enlist a sufficient
number of persons in the true objects, and to keep their minds alive
in the work. It demanded, in fact, a kind of literary research,
which it is always difficult to command on the frontiers. To act,
and not to pursue the quiet paths of study, is the tendency of the
I returned to St. Mary's about the middle of October. It was a proof
of the care and precision with which my friends looked out for me,
that I was met by my "canoe-elege" with a French crew and
flag flying at the Detour, before the vessel had dropped anchor, so
that I went up the river with the accustomed gayety of a song. These
French songs have been often alluded to. One of them, the measure of
which is adapted, by its music, to the short stroke of the paddle,
is given below2.
1: Resolved, That the thanks of the
society be presented to Henry R. Schoolcraft, Esq., for the valuable
introductory remarks offered by him, and that he be requested to
furnish a copy of the same for publication.
Resolved, That the Domestic Secretary, be directed to prepare
and submit for the approbation of the Official Board, a Circular, to
be addressed to such persons as have been elected members of this
society, and others, setting forth its objects, its organization,
constitution, and initial proceedings, which circular, when so
prepared, shall be printed for the purpose of distribution.
Resolved, That the Official Board be directed to prepare a
succinct Temperance and Peace Circular, suited to the wants and
situation of the North-western Tribes, to be addressed, through the
intervention of the Hon. the Secretary of War, to the Agents of the
Government and Officers commanding posts on the frontiers, and also
to persons engaged in the fur trade; to travelers, and to gentlemen
residing in the country, requesting their aid in spreading its
Resolved, That it is expedient for this society to procure an
exact statistical account of the names, numbers and location of the
different bands of Indians, of the Algonquin stock, now living
within the limits of the United States:--also, the number of
missionaries who are now amongst them, and the extent of the field
of labor which they present.
Resolved, That this society will aid in sending a winter
express to the missionaries who are now stationed near the western
extremity of Lake Superior.
Resolved, That the members of this society residing at Sault
St. Marie and at Michilimackinack, shall constitute a standing
committee of this society, during the ensuing year, with power to
meet for the transaction of business, and shall report from time to
time, such measures as they may have adopted to promote the objects
of this institution: which proceedings shall be submitted to the
society at any stated or special meeting of the same, and if
approved by them, shall be entered on the records of the society.
Resolved, That the President of this society be requested to
deliver, at such time as shall be convenient to himself, a course of
Lectures on the Grammatical construction of the Algonquin language,
as spoken by the North-Western Tribes, and to procure, from living
and authentic sources, a full and complete Lexicon of that language,
for the use of the society.
Resolved, That the Rev. Beriah Green, of the Western Reserve
College, be requested to deliver an address before the society at
its next annual meeting: and, that Henry R. Schoolcraft, Esq., be
requested to deliver a poem on the Indian Character, at the same
Resolved, That the first anniversary of this society be held
at Detroit, on the second Thursday of October, A. D. 1833.
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Personal Memoirs of a Residence of Thirty Years with the
Indian Tribes on the American Frontiers, 1851
Years with the Indians |