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
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
Nov. 2d/. Mr. J.G. Palfrey, acting editor of the N.A.
Review, invites me to become a contributor to the pages of that
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
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 extent, avoided.
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
This site includes some historical
materials that may imply negative stereotypes reflecting the culture or language
of a particular period or place. These items are presented as part of the
historical record and should not be interpreted to mean that the WebMasters in
any way endorse the stereotypes implied.
Personal Memoirs of a Residence of Thirty Years with the
Indian Tribes on the American Frontiers, 1851
Years with the Indians