arrival see page 118
Before taking up the story of the discovery by Nicollet of Green Bay it is well to get some idea of the character of the Indians and their habits and customs and what they gave to the Old World.
Champlain's contacts were with two main divisions of the Indian tribes, the Iroquois and the Algonquins.
The Iroquois occupied the wilderness mostly south of the St. Lawrence and were the keen opposite of their ancient enemies, the Algonquins, by whom they were practically surrounded. The Iroquois were just plain bad, through and through. Eloquent in council and unfaithful to their word no matter how true it rang in their declarations. Parkman states truly "the name of the Iroquois became a by-word of horror through the colony, and to the suffering Canadians they seemed a troop of incarnate fiends. Revolting rites and monstrous superstitions were imputed to them. At the attack on Montreal — those who fell within their clutches endured torments too hideous for description. Their ferocity was equaled only by their courage and address". Champlain assisted the Hurons and Algonquins in their attack on the Iroquois. Their first taste of firearms did temporarily drive them off but after the first sensation of fear, more from superstitious surprise than the result of the firearms, wore off, it incurred their further anger and kindled their desire for revenge. Though inevitable, it was unfortunate that the Iroquois should come into possession of firearms. With the death of Champlain, everything fell dead and enterprise for the discovery or even trading sank to levels and many posts were abandoned. Then the Iroquois' slumbering desire for revenge, because of the rebuffs they suffered from the French arquebusses, came in full flame. Friendly relations were established between the Iroquois and the Dutch traders on the banks of the Hudson River. For beaver-skins they received in exchange the long coveted powder and firearms. A graphic description penned in 1653 from reports says "The war with the Iroquois has dried up all sources of prosperity. The beaver were allowed to build their dams in peace, none being willing to molest them. Crowds of Hurons no longer descend from their country with furs for trading. The Algonquin country is depopulated and the nations beyond it are retiring farther away fearing the musketry of the Iroquois. Before taking up with the adventures of Jean Nicollet into the western tribes, it is well to relate something of the characteristics and life of the Algonquins and Hurons with whom Nicollet lived so long. The recital seems necessary to fully appreciate what a destitute life all of the French pioneers endured for their love of church and state. In the line of succession, the Iroquois, followed that of the mother of the chief.
Into such setting and among tribes of such characteristics, Champlain and his associated endeavored to make a colony worthy of the name of France and its religion. Champlain sent among the different tribes some of his keenest young men to learn the various dialects and habits the better to direct the affairs of his colony.
As time went on and the Frenchmen became more numerous, they married Indian women and entered fully into the tribal life of the Indians. They were of vast help in smoothing the way to meeting the Indians.
Of these young men, Champlain selected one of his best, Jean Nicollet. Quick of intellect and tongue, he soon acquired the respect and confidence of the several tribes he visited. He spent several years with the tribes of the Algonquins along the Ottawa River. No one had as yet given up the idea that it would not be possible to find a water course through the various islands composing the newly discovered continent, to the Pacific Ocean and the much desired Cathay.
In 1634, he commissioned Nicollet to make up such equipment as he desired and make the venture west. With a few canoes and a half dozen Indians with whom he had long been associated, they paddled up the Ottawa to the Mattawan, crossing the divide to Lake Nippissing and down the outlet, the French River into Georgian Bay, along through the island into Lake Huron and skirting the north shore of this lake through the straits into Lake Michigan and following the long tedious miles of Lake Michigan into Green Bay. Such was the course of this courageous young man and his crew.
Just a thin birch bark canoe carried Nicollet into an unknown territory never before visited by white man. Young Nicollet was well equipped by his long acquaintance with the Indian character and his proficiency in many of its dialects. His purpose was to penetrate into the lands of the "People of the Sea" as the tribe of Winnebagos were known. Stories of these people described them as resembling the known characteristics of the Chinese. These reports assured the Frenchmen that the new route must lead to China. Desirous of presenting himself in proper garb, Nicollet brought with him several silk robes of the Chinese Mandarin that he might step before high officials in correct attire. (See picture on page 118) Among the luggage were many presents which were the necessary appeal to any strange people and well known to be the proper approach to Indian Tribes.
His first point of contact with the Winnebago Tribes was near the head of Green Bay. As was customary, runners had been sent ahead to notify the chief of his coming. This brought many of the braves of the tribe and their women down to the water's edge to meet the party. Nicollet dressed in his Chinese robes and carrying a pistol in each hand stepped out of the canoe and waded ashore and immediately fired the pistol into the air for demonstration. The women fled in fear but the Indians are said to have approved the demonstration and approached in very friendly attitude to meet him and his party. Presents were given out and a proper feast of beaver completed the entertainment.
After a short stay, Nicollet pushed on toward the land of the "great waters" probably the Mississippi of which he had by then heard so much. They continued their journey up the Fox River (possibly to the site of Berlin) to within "but two paddling days" of the portage between the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers when he decided that the way to Cathay really did connect is some way with this watercourse and that further pursuit was unnecessary. There is no satisfactory reason offered why Nicollet did not keep on this trip of discovery but instead had some desire to visit the Illinois tribe on the west shore of Lake Michigan. He returned to Quebec late in the fall of 1634.
This year, 1634, marks the nearest approach to the Wisconsin River of the first white man. Nicollet, however, did blaze the trail that was followed for some two hundred years from Green Bay up the Fox to the portage between the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers and on down to the Mississippi or to the upper Wisconsin as the territory up the river from the portage was termed. The experiences of the traders and trappers and Indians, however, was much the same as in the St. Lawrence territory for furs were the sole medium of exchange during most of that time.
Wisconsin Territory was possessed by several tribes. The Menomonees used the upper Wisconsin for their hunting grounds and their name means "wild rice". The Winnebagos were another powerful tribe living from the Bay to the Wisconsin River. Their name was "Hot-shunto-rah", meaning "the people of the parent speech". The other tribes gave them the term of "ill-smelling water". This title is thought to have come from their supposed origin which was far west and attributed to the ill smell of the salt water, either of the Great Salt Lake district or the Pacific ocean. It was this suggested origin, by the Indians, they give the French their belief that somewhere beyond the Wisconsin lay the way to the Pacific.
FROM JOURNAL OF PETER POND
[The complete Journal of Peter Pond can be found in Wisconsin Historical Collections, vol. 18, p. 314-354. Taylor quotes scattered sections of the text, starting on p. 326. Taylor's text occasionally differs from that found in the Wisconsin Historical Collections and he has added some short explanations in parenthesis.]
The next Frenchman of note to follow Nicollet's trail were Joliet and Marquette. In June of 1673, they were on the Fox River and between the 7th and 17th passed through the portage from the Fox into the Wisconsin and down to the mouth of the Wisconsin into the Mississippi. This portage between the Fox and Wisconsin played a vital part in the whole early life between the Indians and the traders. The habits and customs as the traders found these Indians is interesting as it was new and strange.
From the Wisconsin Historical Collections dealing with the British regime in Wisconsin is probably as fine a pen picture of things and events and it is from the Journal of Peter Pond. The date is placed from 1740 to 1775. Only that part of his career that is of interest in this sketch relates to the manner of life and customs of the Indians he found in the Wisconsin territory and his description of his initiation. The quotation is given in his own language and the phonetic spelling of his text. It begins:
This is in the Spring of 1773. Thare was a number of Canoes fiting for Mishlemacanac. I agred with Isac Tod a Sgr. To take my Goods in his Cannoe on fraight and Imbarkt with him & James McGill Esq. in one of his Canoes and Seat of from Lashaen for Mackinac, By way of the Grand (Ottawa) River. As You Pass the End of the Island of Montreal to Go in a Small Lake Cald the Lake of the (Two) Mountains thare stans a Small Romas [ ed. - Roman] Church Against a small Raped. This Church is dedacated to St. Ann who Protects all Voigers. Heare is a small Box with a Hole in the top for ye Reseption of a little Money for the Hole father or to say a small Mass for those Who Put a small sum in the box. Scars a Voiger but stops hear and Puts in his mite and By that Meanes thay Suppose thay are Protected. While absent the Church is not Locked But the Money Box is well Secured from theaves. After the Saremony of Crossing them selves and Repeating a Short Prayer we Crost the Lake and Enterd the Grand River so Cald which Lead us to the Waters which Coms in to that River from the Southwest. (Northwest). We asended these waters & Making Som Careing Places we Came to a small Lake Nipasank (Nipissing) whose waters fall into Lake Huron By the french River. We Desended that River and Coasted along the North Side of that Lake til we Came Oppaseat Mackenac — then crost the Streat to the Garrasson where I found my Goods from New York Had Arrived Safe. Hear I met with a Grate meney Hundred People of all Denominations - Sum trading with the tribes that Came a Grate Distans with thare furs, Skins & Maple Sugar to Market. To these May be added Dride Venson, Bares Greas, and the Like which is a Considerable Part of trade. --- I Divided my Goods into twelve Parts and fited out twelv Large Canoes for Different Parts of the Mississipy River. Each Cannew was mad of Birch Bark and white Seader thay would Carry seven Thousand Wate. In Sep I had my Small fleat Readey to Cross Lake Mishegan. On my way to Grean Bay at the Mouth of fox river I engaged Nine Clarkes for Differant Parts of the Northarn and Westarn Country and Beaing Mand we inbarkt & Crost the Lake without Seaing an Indan or Eney Person Except our One. In three or for Days we arive at the Mouth of the Bay which is two or three mile Bros. --- then follow ye Shore to the Bottom is Seventy Miles whare the fox River Empteys in to the Bay. We went a Short Distans up the River whar is a small french villag and Thare incampt for two Days. This Land is Exalent. The Inhabitans Rase fine Corn and Sum Artickels for fammaley youse in thare Gardens. Thay Have Sum trad with ye Indans which Pas that way. On the North Parrt of this Bay is a small Villeag of Indians Cald the Mannonaneas who Live by Hunting Cheafley. The have another Reasis (resource) - the Bottom of the Bay Produces a large Quantity of Wilde Rice which thay Geather in Sept. for food. At the End of two days we asended the fox river til We came to a villeg which Lies on the East End of a small Lake that Emties into the fox River. These People and Cald Pewans (Puans) & the Lake by the same name. (Winnapago) These People are Singelar from the Rest of thare Neighbors. Thay Speake a Hard Un Couth Langwidge scart to be Learnt by Eney People. Thay will not a Sosheat with or Convars with the other tribes Nor inter-marye among them. --- They live in a Close Connection among themselves. We made But a small Stay Hear and Past a Small Distans on the Lake and Entered the fox River againe which Leads up to a Cairing Plase of Osconston (Wisconsin) --- The Next Day we proseaded up the River which was slack water But very Sarpentine –-- we Have to go two Miles Without Geating fiftey yards ahead so winding --- But Just at nite we reacht within Site of Ye Caring (carrying) Plase and incampt. Next morning Near noon we Arrived and Unloded our Canoes & toock them out of the water to dry that thay mite be liter on the Caring Plase On account of the fox River and its Neghbering Countrey A Long its Shores from the Mouth to the Pewans is a good Naviagion. One or two Small Rapeds (lead) from that Lake the water up to the Caring plase is Veery Gental But Verey Sarpantine. In Maney Parts in Going three Miles you due not advans one. The Bank is almost Level With the Water and the Medoes on Eash Side are Clear of Wood to a Grate Distans and Clothd with a Good sort of Grass the Openings of this River are Cald Lakes But they are no more than Large Openings. In these Plases the Water is about four or five feet deep. With a Soft Bottom these Plases Produce the Greatest Quantities of Wild Rise of Which the Natives Geather Grat Quantities and Eat what thay Have Ocation for & Dispose of the Remainder to People that Pass & Repass on thar trade. This Grane Looks in its Groth & stock & Ears Like Ry and the Grane is of the same culler But Longer But Longer and Slimer. When it is Cleaned fit for youse thay Boil it as we Due Rise and Eat it with Bairs Greas and Sugar But the Greas thay ad it is Bileing which helps to Soffen it and make it Brake in the same Maner as Rise. When thay take it out of thar Cettels for youse thay ad a little sugar and is Eaten with fresh Vensen or fowls we yoused it in the Room of Rise and did very well as a Sustatute for that Grane as it Busts it turns out Perfeckly White as Rise. An account of the Portage of wisconsin the South End of this Caring Plase is Verey Leavel But in Wet Weather it is Bad on account of the Mud & Water which is two thirds of a Mile and then the Ground Riseis to a Considerabel Hith and Clothed with fine Open Wood & a Hansom varder (verdure) This Spot is about the Senter of ye Portage and take up a bout a Quorter Part of it. The South End is Low, flat and Subject to Wet. --- After two Days Hard Labor We gits our Canoes at the Carrying plase with all Our Goods and incampt on the Bank of the River Wisconstan and Gumd our Canoes fit to descend that River. About Midday we imbarkt. The River is a Gentel Glideing Streame. The River Runs near west from the Portage to the Missippey. The Next Day we Arived at the Village where we tarread two days. --- These People are cald Saukeas. They are of a Good Sise and Well Disposed- Les inclind to tricks and Bad manners than thare Nighbers. They will take of the traders Goods on Creadit in the fall for thare youse. In Winter and except for Axedant thay Pay the Deapt Verey Well for Indians. I mite have sade inlitent or Sivelised Indan. --- The Women Rase Grate Crops of Corn, Been, Punkens, Potatoes, Millans and artikals- Land is exaleant - Clear of Wood Sum Distans from the villeag. Thare Sum Hundred of Inhabitants. Thas amusements are singing, Dancing, Smokeing, Matcheis, Gameing, Feasting, Driking, Playing the Slite of Han, Hunting and thare famas in Mageack. Thay are Not verey Gellas of thare Womean.
I HEARD By Sum Indans thar awas a Large Band of the Natives incampt on the Bank of the River about Two Hundred Miles above me Which Wanted to Sea a trader. I conkulded ameatley to Put a Small assortment of Goods into a Canoe and Go up to them - a thing that never was attempted Before By the Oldest of the Traders on Account of he Rudeness of those People who ware Nottawaseas by Nation. But the Band was Cald Yantones (Yankton branch of the Dakota) - the Cheafe of the band all wase Lead them on the Planes. As I was about the cheafe arived to Give me an Invatation to Cum up and trade with them, I agreed and we Seat of to gather --- By water and he by Lan. I was Nine days Giting up to thare Camp. The Cheafe arived Before me - his Rout was Shorter than Mine by Cuting across the Plains. When I arrived within three miles of ye Camp it Beaing Weat Wather and Cold I incampat and Turned up by Canoe Which Made a grand Shelter. At Night it Began to Snow and frease Blow Hard. We ware ther on a Larg Sand Flat By the River Side. Earley in the Morning the wind took the Canoe in the Air, - Leat hir fall on the frozen flat and Broke hir in Pecis. I was then in a Sad Situation. About Noon I Perseaved a Number of the Natives on ye Opaset Sid of the River Aproachine me - Sum on Horseback - others on foot, When thay Came Near finding the Situation we ware in thay forded the River and offered me thare Asitans to take my Goods up to thare Campt. I was Glad and excepted thar offer. We Marcht on with Our loded Horses and Cuming Near the Camp Made a Stop and Seat Down on the Ground. I Perseaved Five Parsons from the Camp Approching – four was imployed Caring a Beaver Blanket finely Panted – the other Held in his Hand a Callemeat or Pipe of Pece – verey finely Drest with Different feathers with Painted Haire. They Ordered the Pipe Lit with a Grate of Saremoney. After Smokeing a fue Whifs the Stem was Pointed East and West - then North and South - then upwards toward the Skies - then to ye Earth after which we all Smoked in turn and Apeared Verey Frendlye. I Could not understand one word thay said But from thar actions I Supposed it to be all frendship. After Smokeing thay toock of my shoes and Put on me a pair of fine Mockasans of Leather shoes of thare One make Raught in a Cureas Manner – then thay Lade me down on the Blanket – One Hold of Each Corner and Cared me Down to the Camp in a Lodge among a verey venarable Asembley of Old Men. I was plased at the Bottom or Back Part which is Asteamed the Highest Plase. After Smokeing an Old man Ros up on his feet with as much Greaveatey as Can be Conseaved of he Came to me - Laid his Hands on my Head and Grond out - I - I - I - three times - then drawed his Rite Hand Down on my Armes faneing a Sort of a Crey as if he Shead tears - then Sit Down - the Hole Follode the Same Exampel which was twelve in number. Thare was in the midel of the Lodg a Rased Pece of Ground about five Inchis in Height five feet long two and a half Brod on which was a fire & Over that Hung three Brass Kettels fild with Mete Boiling for a feast. White we ware Imployed in this Sarremony thare was wateing in the Dore four men to take me up and Care me to another feast. At Length an Old man took up some of the vittels out of one of ye Kittles which apeared to be a Sort of Soope thick and with Pounded Corn Mele. He fead me with three Spoonfuls first and then Gave me the Dish which was Bark & the Spoon Made out of a Buffeloes Horn to fead myself. As I had Got a good apatite from the fateages of the Day I East Hartey. As Sun as I had Got threw with my Part of ye feast I was Desird to Steap Out the Dore which I did. The People in Wateing then toock me and Laid me on Another Skin and Carred me to another Lodg whare I went threw the same Sarremony. There was not a Woman Among them - then to a third after which I was taken to a Large (lodge) Prepaird for me in which thay had Put my People and Goods with a Large Pile of wood and Six of thare Men with Spears to Gard it from the Croud. At four oclock I cummenced a trade with them But ye Croud was So grate that the Chefe was Obliged to Dubel this Gard and I went on with my trade in Safety - Seventy five Loges at Least ten Parsons in Each Will Make Seven Hundred and fifty. My People were Bystanders - Not a word - Not a Word to Say or Acte. The Chefe who Came Down the River to Envite me up to trade with them Gave me to understand that my trade was to Begin at Sundown But he was Absent When Thay Compeld me to Give in befoar the time - he Like wise told me if I was the Contend with them thay Mite take all that I had. I was in a bad Sittuation But at Sundown the Chefe arived and seeing the Crowd Grate he put to the Gard Six Men more and took the Charge on himself. He was as Well Obade & Kept up as Smart Discapline as I Ever Saw One of ye Band was more than Commonly Diaring - he ordered one of the Gard to throw his Lans threw him in Case he persisted in his imperdens - the fellow Came again - the Sentanal threw his lans & it went threw his Close and Drew a Leattle Blod But he neaver attempted agane. I continued my trade till Near Moning. By that time thare furs ware Gon. Thay Prepard to March of as thay had Lane on the Spot Sum time Befour my arival that had Got out of Provishon. I was not in a Situation to Asist them beaing Destatute Myself. By Day Lite, I could Not Sea One But the Chefe who Cept Close By me to the Last to Prevent aney insult which Mite arise as thay ware Going of. The reson of the Behaver of these People is thay Never Saw a trader Befor on thar One Ground or at Least Saw a Bale of Goods opend. Sum traders Long Before sent thare Goods into the Planes with thare Men to trade with these People - Thay Often would have them Chaeper than the french men Could sell them. These People would fall on them and take ye Goods from them at thair One Price til thay Could Not Git eney. Late in the Morning the Chefe Left me. I went to work Bundling or Packing my furs which I got from them. I was now was Destatute of frends or assistans Except my One men and thay could not aford me Aney Assistans in the Provishion Line of Which I was Much in want. Nighter Could thay asist me in the transportation of my furs. I then concluded to leave a Boy to take care of them until we Could Return with Sum Provishon. The Poor fellow seamd willing to Stay By himself and all we Could aford him was three Handfulls of Corn In Case of want I left Him two Bever Skins which Had Sum Meat on them and one Bever Skin which he could singe the haire of and Roste in the fire that he mite Live in Cas we ware Gon Longer than we Calkalated. The Furns ware in a good Lodg that he mite keep himself warm. We Left him in that Sittuation and Got Back to the House Whare we had left the goods By Crossing the Plaines. I found all Safe and the Clark had colected a Leattl Provishon But the Provishons Could not be sent to the Boy on Acount of the Wather Seating is so Bad that the men would not undertake to Go across the Plane. Sum days after it Grew More Modrat and thay Seat of five in Number and Reacht him in fifteen Days from the time we left him They found him well But feeble. Thay Gave him to Eat Modratly at first and he Gain strength. Thay Went to work and Put the furs on a scaffle (scaffold) out of the way of the Woods (Wolves) or Eney Varment and all seat of for home. The Day Befour thay arived that ware Overtaken By a Snow Storm on the Planes & Could not Sea thare Way Near Right. Thay Seat Down on the Plane thare beaing no wood Nigh and Leat the Snow Cover them Over. They Had thare Blankets about them Thay ware in the morning - it was Clear with ye Wind Nowest and freaseing hard. Thay Dug out of the Snow and Beaing Seat in Sum of thare feet thay Was Badley frosted Tho Not More than ten miles to walk. The Boy excaped as well as Eney of them - I beleve the Best. I had a Long job to Heal them But wihout the Los of a Limb. In the Spring I sent my People after the furs thay Had put on a Scaffel in the Winter. Thay Had an Indian Hunter with them who Kild them Sum Buffeloes. The men Cut Down Small Saplens and Made them tite anuf to Bring the furs Down to me thare I had Canoes to Receve them (boats were made of skins of Buffalo by some Indian tribes) --- Spring is now advansing fast. The Chefes Cuming with a Number of the Natives to Go with me to Mackenac to Sea and Hear what thare father Had to Say-
The remainder of the Narrative was destroyed.
ALGONQUINS - CANOE BUILDER
see page 119
The Algonquin was the great Indian family of the New World. They reached from Carolina to the Hudson Bay and completely surrounded their ancient enemy, the Iroquois. Cartier first met them and found them mostly north of the St. Lawrence while the Iroquois lay to the south side.
The Algonquins were friendly and both the French and English found them worthy allies. They were more easily approached than their opposites, the Iroquois. Neither, for any great length of time cared to submit to other authority, proud and from our standards, all lazy. But all children of the forest, listening to its songs and attributing to it as the denizens of all that was supernatural. Dreamers and picture makers. The Algonquins excelled all others in canoe building.
Where they obtained their inspiration is impossible to locate. True, all the avenues of travel were closed to them except that of the rivers and lakes. They must hunt and fish for their main support of life while squaws tilled the fields, limited as they were. Forests were dense and clearings scarce and choice and those they did have probably came from lands laid waste by fires started by themselves during extremely dry seasons. It must have taken centuries for the Algonquins to master this art of canoe building and only by reason of the canoe birch which grew only in the northern regions could they have possibly accomplished this art.
One can easily realize the perfection of their canoe when a vessel weighing around three hundred pounds must sustain a cargo of five tons of freight and men. Further, there were no nails or metals of any kind in its construction. All the materials came from the forests surrounding them.
The canoes were built of the rind of one birch tree trunk generally large enough for one canoe. "Wattape", the fine root of some fir tree generally the spruce, was used by them for the rope or thread with much they sewed the strips of bark together. This covering done it was placed over a frame work of thin white cedar boards shaped to form a vessel from twenty to forty feet long and from four to six feet wide at the center and narrowed to a point as either end. Over the gunwales, the bark was secured with wattape and from four to nine narrow bars were placed across the top at regular intervals to hold the canoe rigidly in form. In front of these bars and several inches below the gunwales were boards four inches or so wide which formed the seats for the crew. Then the canoe was gummed, instead of caulking. They applied melted pine tree gum put on by the use of a torch and repeated as often as required and daily when on any expedition. This kept the canoe water-tight but his gumming was naturally brittle, having no fat in it as one would mix today.
The canoe was not permitted to run on the shore and if possible it was prevented from striking rocks else it would quickly crack off the brittle gumming. With the Indians' love of decoration, they painted their canoe with figures of their own choosing.
They used three sizes of paddles. The common paddle was about two feet long and three inches wide used by the middle men and the longer pattern about five inches wide used by the steersman in the stern. A still larger paddle was assigned to the bowsman for use when running the rapids or guiding the canoe over the small falls. These paddles were of cedar - usually the red cedar and very light. Blades of the paddles were also decorated with color and decorated as fancy suggested. When required, a block was set in the center and bottom of the canoe. This block was bored with a hole of sufficient size to take a pole for use in case of good winds as sail pole.
A hide was carried for covering cargo and also used for sail. Later, they obtained from the whites cloth which they made water-tight with grease for the same purpose as the hides. In their use of the canoes, the Indians obtained from the whites a large sponge for sponging out the boat in event of leaks, and a cordelle or rope for towing. These ropes were various lengths depending on experience, in use, some as long as fifty yards were used.
There were three general types of canoes. The "Montreal" canoes were about thirty-five to forty feet long, used on the lakes and large rivers like the St. Lawrence. The "North" canoe was about twenty-five feet in length and carrying less than the "Montreal" with about three thousand pounds and crew. This was used in the smaller lakes and streams. Between these two was the "Batard" or bastard canoe which carried a crew of ten men. The "Montreal" usually manned by fourteen and the "North" carried an eight man crew. There was a shorter canoe of from ten to fifteen feet termed "light canoe" used with crew only It is quoted "that one of the most potent arguments used by the British in their efforts before 1695 to retain control of the Lake-of-the-Woods Grand Portage routes - was that the birch bark canoes were indispensable to the British control of Western Canada".
The French found the Indian with scanty clothing, but nothing withstood the supplanting with European garments like the moccasin. It easily supplanted the heavy shoe brought in by the French and was quickly adapted by them. They were usually made of buck-skin dressed and smoked after the Indian custom. The skins intended for wear were cleaned and brought to a soft, smooth, pliant condition. If for the bride's moccasin or to be worn by the women for some special occasion it would be ornamented with porcupine quills and treatment of the skin such as to bring it until as soft and white as dress goods. If intended for ordinary use, it was smoked and brought to a brown color and thus treated, it well resisted the action of water. They smoked the skins by burning hard wood chips in a smoldering fire at the bottom of a pit dug in the ground and the skins suspended above the fire and above the top of the pit. The different tribes made a show of forming the moccasin distinctive of the tribe and the Iroquois and the Algonquin moccasin differed in appearance.
see page 119
The Indian's contribution besides the canoe and the moccasin was the snowshoe about which Raddisson says in his fourth voyage.
"The snow increases daily. There we make racketts that they go in the snow and not sinke when they runne" --- "Albeit we made racketts of six foot long and a foot and a half broad; so often thinking to tourne ourselves we felld over and over againe in ye snow, and if we weare alone we should have difficultie enought to rise againe".
The game of lacrosse is the Indians' offering in sports and the shape of the lacrosse stick certainly is perfectly adapted for catching and returning the ball an incredible distance.
Before the firearms were given the Indians they used spear and bow and arrow with marked success. The arrow heads of flint, quartz or obsidian of which they were made are found in most parts of the country.
The Indian holds between his knees a block of stone, from which, by light sharp blows of a small stone hammer, he chips off triangular flakes of flint for making the arrowheads. Each of these blocks has been sweated by being buried in wet earth over which a fire has been built, the object to this treatment being to bring to light all the cracks and checks in the flint so that no unnecessary labor need by performed on a piece too badly cracked to be worked. As the chips are knocked off, the block is turned and chipped and continued until the block is too small but produces flakes somewhat cylindrical. In the second operation, the Indian takes a pad of buckskin large enough to cover and protect it while holding the sharp flake, while over his right hand he slips another piece of tanned hide something like a sailmaker's "palm" and used for the same purpose. Against his "palm" the arrow-maker places the head of a small tool, either horn or bone, about four inches long, and pressing its point against the side of the piece of flint held in the other hand, he flakes off one little chip of the stone and then another close to it, thus passing along the edge of the unformed flint until one side is straight, and then along the other. This is continued until when near the point, there much care is used. He works carefully and rapidly and spoils but few points. After the head is formed, the rough edges are broken off either by pressure or by a sharp blow with some light bit of bone or hard wood. These arrowheads were roughly triangular in shape but a short shank for attachment to the shaft of the arrow. This shank or the middle part of the short side of the triangle, was set into a notch in the shaft, fastened by a glue made from the hoofs of the buffalo and additionally secured by being whipped in place by fine sinew strings, put on wet.
In food, the Indian contributed the corn, "Irish" potatoe, tobacco, maple sugar. It is a startling fact to the layman that the botanist places the potato, tomatoe, tobacco, and the flower petunia in the one and same family of the order of Solanaceae. The Canadian Indians called tobacco "petun".
WAMPUM AND BEADS
illustration page 119
The Indians were all picture makers and signs and symbols had their meaning. It is interesting to illustrate the thought the message sent by the Renards to the branch of the Algonquins in upper Canada.
The quotation is from the Memoir of the Jesuit missionary Le Sueur. "At that time and in the year 1719, the Renards sent a message to the Abenakis. This was expressed by a Picture, one side whereof represented several very large and very populous Villages, men and women of tall stature, well-fed children, very fertile fields, woods full of Elk, moose and other wild animals, and finally Rivers teeming with beaver and fish; on the other side of the picture were represented some small villages barely visible; the persons observed in them were so emaciated that they could hardly stand, neither fields producing corn could be seen, nor woods full of wild animals, no Rivers capable of supplying beaver and fish; but only a great Dragon, one-half of which showed out from the side of the Picture and whose open jaws threatened to swallow the wretched little villages. The following is the explanation of the Picture:-
"My Brother, thou seest that my country is of vast extent; that it is very fertile in producing grains of all kinds; that my woods and my River supply me abundantly with all sorts of wild animals and with fish. Consequently, see how well off I am etc. I learn with regret that thou art reduced to a small area of barren and sterile land wherein all things necessary for thy subsistence are wanting; that this is the cause of thy leanness and of the death of thy children whom thou can't not rear. But the compassion I feel for thee is greatly increased at the sight of the great dragon with gaping jaws, ready to devour thee and whose fury thou canst escape only by prompt flight. As I take an interest in everything that concerns thee, and as I cannot suffer my fellowman (whose Flesh is dark like my own) to perish miserably for want of succor, I offer thee my Land; thou wilt find it vast enough to settle in; fertile enough to supply all thy needs and finally, sufficiently remote to enable thee to live in safety and far beyond the reach of thine enemies."
The Abenakis gave information of this message to their missionary and explained it to him quite naturally, giving him to understand that the Dragon represented the English alone. The account relates that nothing came of this at the time but a proper reply was pictured ….
A year after this message of the Renard's (Foxes) was brought to the Abenakis, the Calumet Dance made its appearance. The Calumet was kept hidden for a whole year and not a word was said about the Dance. When the missionary at S. Francois, who had been a witness of what had occurred in Father Bigot's time, saw this Dance suddenly make its appearance, he was surprised at its novelty, and heard some savages say that Christians could not amuse themselves with such diversions. He, therefore, carefully inquired into the matter and this is what he learned:-
First. That this Dance is really a religious ceremony not only amongst the Renards but also amongst all the nations of the upper country; that it was called the Spirit Dance,; that they did not say "dance with the Calumet" but "dance in honor of the Calumet", in other words that it was the God of those nations.
Second. That the words used in the song of that Dance are an invocation of the Spirit.
Third. That when the Calumet is smoked in the Councils, a man whose wife is pregnant must abstain from smoking it, because his wife would not be safely delivered of her child and the latter would inevitably die.
Fourth. That his Dance is used to call the souls of those against whom war is to be waged, and by this means to kill their enemies without fail.
Fifth. To conciliate foreign and hostile Nations and make a lasting peace with them.
Sixth. To obtain fine weather or rain, according to the needs of the soil.
Seventh. To have favorable winds while navigating.
Eighth. Finally, that it is a specific for warding off evil and for obtaining benefits of all kinds.
It is further related that "The Abenakis have received the Calumet Dance from the Renards; this Calumet Dance brings about union and peace between nations; Therefore they wish to live on good terms with the Renards. In the Indian custom the retention of the Calumet is an acceptance of what ever message that has accompanied it and a return of the Calumet is a refusal to agree to the terms of the message. This is our manner of presenting a Calumet which means peace." This explanation of the picture writing is as good a selection as is found and the meaning of the Calumet and the Dance is typical of the Indian customs.
No word has come down from the Indians to the live boy of civilization as that of "wampum". It means to him a symbol of charm, a means of exchange, and he applies it to any and all of the curious collection found in a real boy's pocket. It played a real part as well with the Indians.
In its substitute for "money" or medium of exchange it served a practical purpose but in their symbolic use of signs and things it meant something more. In the assembly of tribes or even clans, a belt of wampum or as the French styled it "porcelain" was presented to the tribe addressed by the one making the address or appeal as a pledge of an alliance. It was used by the Indians for ceremonial purposes, accompanied messengers given in exchange to solemnly accept agreements and personal adornment and as money.
Wampum, before the French dazzled the eyes of the Indians with their gaudy glass beads, was made from shell of different kinds. The account as given from "Roger Williams, Key of American Language xxiv. [Roger Williams, A Key into the Language of America, 1643, available in several editions]
The Indians are ignorant of Europe's Coyne; yet they have given a name to ours, and call it moneash from the English money. Their own is two sorts; one white, which they make of the stem or stock of the Periwincle, which they call Meteauhock, when all the shell is broken off; and of this sort six of their small beads (which they with holes to string the bracelets) are current with the English for a penny.
From the Everett Oration the wampum is described; As first called "wampumpeage". The peage was the name of the substance and was of two kinds. But as Wampum was the Indian word for white and the white kind of wampum was the most common, the wampumpeage became by custom shortened to wampum or wompum. The shells when strung were worn as bracelets and necklaces and into belts with some show of beauty and served well for personal adornment and thus possessed an intrinsic value with the Indians and was readily taken in exchange for their furs.
FOOD OF THE INDIANS
see page 119
The territory of Wisconsin was a vast region at the time of the coming of the early French in the latter part of the century from 1750 on. There were several Indian tribes occupying the limited cleared land along the forest edges and on the banks of the streams. The Menominees occupied the upper Wisconsin for their hunting grounds and west of the Fox. Their name means "wild rice". The Winnebagos were another powerful tribe living to the east of the Menominees and along the lake of their name and the banks of the Fox River. Their name was "Hot-shunto-rah" meaning "the people of the parent speech". Other tribes gave them the appellation of "ill-smelling water" or stinking people". This title has been suggested to come not because they carried bodily ill-smelling odors but because they came from the far west the location of ill-smelling salt water, either from about the Great Salt Lake or the Pacific Ocean. It was the legend that gave color to the idea entertained by the French that somewhere beyond the territory with which they were acquainted, or had reports, lay the Pacific and the road to Cathay.
Aside from the invention of the canoe and the snowshoe the Indians developed the cultivation of corn, the gathering of wild rice, the making of maple sugar and the making of "pemmikin". The wild rice, the women gathered much as shown in the illustration. The shores of the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers and the swamps had heavy growth of this rice and consequently these fields were resorts for unnumbered flocks of wild fowl which furnished game to Indians and traders alike and the stream abounded in fish of all kinds. Sturgeon were taken weighing over one hundred pounds. One account gives the weight as one hundred and twelve pounds caught in Lake Winnebago through the ice.
There was a time when the Indians would go among the wild rice when it was in the milk and gather the tops into large shocks, fasten in that way and allow them to mature, then when ripe they would run their canoe into the marsh and bend the tops over and beat the grain out. In this manner, they obtained a larger crop with much less work. Now the squaws went in crews of three. One at the stern paddled the boat and the one in the bow faced the one in the middle seat. The bow squaw had sharpened stick that she ran into the grain and bent the heads over in front of the one facing her who beat out the heads into the canoe. The grain was not quite mature it was either placed in high racks and allowed to drip in the sun or else was partly parched and they threaded it out. Fanning out the hulls, The air drying it by far the better and the grain kept months without growing.
The Indians introduced the maple sap and sugar to the Whites. They made it very much as any one would today. They tapped the trees of the hard maple and gathered the sap which they boiled down. Before the advent of the white man's iron kettle they either used a clay vessel under which they placed a slow fire or else heated stones red hot and dumped them into the kettle of sap and this evaporated out the water. Little dirt more or less was never any concern of the Indian.
The woman did all the work and therefore had to prepare the ground for the planting and growing of the corn or maize. During the growing time, the women built high platforms and from that took turns in acting as scare-crows. In September, the time of the ripening, they celebrated and when the ears were ripe for roasting it was celebrated by harvest dance.
The Indians located along the Ohio, Mississippi and the Great Lakes and east to the New England States, all cultivated corn and it was one of their stable articles of food. Territory out of the north temperate zone could not raise the maize or corn. South Indians did not have itt.
The dry grain was prepared in several ways. When intended for boiling it was crushed in crudely dug out wooden or stone bowls. When ground coarse it was cured with lye and became what later pioneers called hominy. When used green it was cut off the cob and mixed with green beans. For use on long journeys, it was ground fine and mixed with a portion of maple sugar and when used mixed with a small portion of water, a sort of soup, but very nourishing. Where the Indian could not be burdened with a quantity of supplies this mixture became a light bundle but concentrated.
This was a curious invention of the Indian alone. Its derivation is from the Cree Indian word meaning "manufactured grease". They made "grease" that is by boiling crude fat (pimmic) in water and skimming off the floating oil. Then deer, bear or buffalo meat is cut into strips and dried and this is ground between stones to almost a shred and added to the fat while hot and then poured into casing of any kind and allowed to harden. It has been known to keep four or five years. Because of its high food value and small compact form it was greatly desired by trappers for long journeys. They also made a sort of gruel by mixing a lot of water and flour or parched corn ground fine, with this pemmican and boiled until thickened and ready to eat.
illustration page 119
The Indians arrived at the stated places indicated in the various treaties where they would receive their payments. The Indians arrived in canoes and each moment would bring in added canoe-loads. As soon as the Indians disbarked the first thing they did was to arrange to build wigwams.
They first cut long flexible poles which they planted in the ground in a circular form. These they bent at the height of five to six feet, and fastened them together above, two by two, leaving at the top an opening about three feet in diameter for the smoke to pass out. They fastened their mats all around on these poles, with cords, saving only a narrow passage between two poles, where one of the mats fastened at the upper edge only, and this served the purpose of a door. Two forked sticks stuck in the ground held up the cross-bar which was to support the kettle. The fire was lighted, the baggage was placed around within the wigwam and almost immediately the Indians were at home. The rapidity with which the Indians set up their camps was remarkable. Their long habit of building these wigwams had developed a speed where every movement tended to complete the camp. Once they have their poles it does not take over ten minutes to complete the camp, where they may live a few weeks and even all winter. Wood and water are all the essentials an Indian needed to establish his home. The mats which cover these cabins as well as supply their beds, are made from rushes sort of woven together with bands from basswood bark. When these mats are made, they roll them up and take them wherever they move. These cabins protect them from rain or snow and though to the ordinary white would be uncomfortable because of the smoke that accumulates in the wigwam when there is no draft out of the top, the Indian does not seem to be aware of its existence.
MEDICINE AND BAGS
Colonel Thomas McKenney relates that on one trip on the Fox that during the crossing a rattle-snake passed and was struck by Capt. D. with his sword, and partly disabled, a Menominee Indian cut off his head with his knife. The head was burned to keep the fangs from doing injury by being trod upon, and his body was cut up into small pieces, distributed to the Indians for their medicine bags - thus furnishing a new antidote against evil.
The Grand Medicine Bag or Meshaum is usually made of otter skin and contains many things fancied by the Indians as charms against bad fortune, some are records by knots in strings, stones and image of figures of names and wars of their gods of ancient time, some of which they supposed as at first delivered to their ancestors by We-sah-kah presumably Noah. In the Medicine Feast it play a prominent part.*
*Condensed from Wisconsin Historical Volume 15 and Schoolcraft Vol. 3
The Medicine Feast of Dance (see picture in large book page 119) is participated in by member only and constitutes a secret society, the acts and meaning only known to the initiated. Comparison with the ceremony of other societies has led writers to compare it with those of Free-Masons in that they have secret known only to the initiated no matter where located and attaining to several degrees with secrets for each degree but unlike the Masons they admit women and children to membership.
They have no regular or stated times for holding this feast. The dog feast is one of the most sacred feasts- no Indian not belonging to the Me-shaum, or white person can witness it. The Medicine Dance is held in a lodge, properly guarded on the outside so that none may see or be admitted not eligible. Any person wishing to join makes the application through one of the members, and is then on probation for one year. If they are bad, they must reform. If at the end of the probation period no objection is made, he is generally admitted. They have signs by which Indians of that fraternity of different bands know each other. Persons desirous of joining the fraternity use the most rigid economy to enable them to lay up goods to pay the initiation fee. The fee is not a fixed amount, but the applicant is required to pay in accordance with his ability. It was known that goods to amount to two to three hundred dollars would be given consisting of blankets, broadcloth, wampum, and trinkets which all go to the medicine men who perform the ceremony of initiation.
When the number to be initiated make it an object to have a great feast, a lodge is especially built for the occasion. This lodge is constructed of poles and covered with furs or bark or other materials that they have. The size is made to fit the occasion. The width is usually about sixteen feet and the length varies all the way from ten to sixty yards.
The members sit on each side of the lodge leaving the center open for the dance. The candidates for admission are required to fast three days previous to the initiation. During the meeting, they celebrate their holy dance, which was called by the French la danse de la grande medicine - the name which the Indians apply to all their spiritual or juggling proceedings. During the initiation, the candidates are taken to some secluded spot by the old medicine men and instructed in the workings of the mysteries of the society. During this initiation, the candidates are supposed to be subjected to severe sweating processes by being covered with blankets and steaming with herbs.
The public ceremony takes place about 11 A.M. The public exercises of dancing, singing and exhorting proceeds the initiation and commences the previous morning. Before the candidates are brought in, the ground through the center is carpeted with blankets and a heavy cloth laid over the blankets. The candidates are then led forward and placed on their knees upon the carpet near one end of the lodge and faced towards the other end. Some eight or ten medicine men then march in single file around the room. Each time they complete the circuit they halt and one of them makes a short address; this repeated until all have spoken. They again advance in line as many a breast as there are candidates, holding their medicine bags before them with both hands, they dance forward slowly at first, and uttering low gutteral sounds as they approach the candidate, their steps and voice increasing in energy, until with a violent "Uogh" they thrust their medicine bags at their breasts. Instantly, as if struck with an electric shock, the candidates fall prostrate on their faces - their limbs extended - their muscles rigid and quivering.
Blankets are now thrown over them, and they are allowed to remain there for a few minutes. As soon as they show signs of recovery from the shock, they are assisted to their feet and led forward. Medicine bags are then placed in their hands and medicine stones in their mouths. They are now medicine men or women as the case may be, and in full fellowship. T he new members, in company with the old, now go round the lodge in single file, knocking members down promiscuously by thrusting their medicine bags at them. After continuing this part of the ceremony for a short time, refreshments are brought in and then follows the Feast of the Dog, already noted as the most sacred feast known to the Indian.
The members of this society are very strict in their attendance at this feast, and nothing is allowed to prevent them from complying with the invitation to attend except sickness. Members were known to travel fifty miles to be present. The secret of the society is kept secret and neither want nor thirst for liquor tempts the members to part with their medicine bag.
Following shortly after the recognition by Congress in July 1836 a very important treaty was made with the Menominee Chiefs, by Governor Doty as Governor of the Territory of Wisconsin and also as commissioner on part of the United States. The territory thus ceded covered the land from Point Bausse, a location on the Wisconsin River about two miles below Whitney Rapids and extending to Big Bull Falls -- now Wausau. With 1836, the development of the lumbering industry on the Wisconsin River dates its birth.
PHOTOSTAT OF TREATY BETWEEN MENOMINEE INDIANS AND THE UNITED STATES ON PAGE 123.
PAYMENT TO THE INDIANS
The first payment to the Indians according to the terms of the treaty was made by Colonel Boyd, the government agent for the Menominee tribes at the appointed place but without the escort of troops and the Indians tried to make the Colonel distribute the funds and provisions on a basis different from the one he had received from the Government.
The second payment was made October 1838 at the appointed place in the treaty which was named "wah-ne-kun-nah" (Wah-ne-kun-nah means a "dirty place" probably pertaining to the mud flats around there) which was near the present site of Winneconne. A large frame house had been hastily put up for the purpose of this council. The money to be distributed was in thirty boxes containing $1000 each in small coin. The next morning the chiefs of the tribe were summoned here, but the Indians had been able to trade their guns and blankets and furs as a pledge for whiskey, for which they would pay after the distribution had taken place, and most of them were drunk so that it was necessary to postpone the council to the following day.
Over night a detachment of fifty soldiers had arrived under the command of a lieutenant and this resulted in everything taking place in an orderly manner until after the departure of the Colonel and the soldiers. The Colonial ordered a strict search of all tents and wherever any liquor was found, it was poured out upon the ground. The Indians were forbidden to cross the river to the other bank where there were drinking booths and sentinels were posted along the bank. These measures had the desired effect.
The next day, the savages having abstained from drink, the council was held. Each chief came and made an enumeration of the families composing his band, and the number in each family; their names were then written upon the registers. At mid-day on the same day as the council, it was announced to the savages that twenty fat beeves, which had been brought from Green Bay as part of their provisions had arrived on the opposite bank of the river.
The news produced the most lively excitement in camp. To run to their cabins to seize their guns, powder, and balls and launch themselves in their canoes, was an affair of a moment. In a few minutes the river, for half a mile was covered with more than two hundred canoes, rivaling each other in a swiftness, propelled by skillful oarsmen in the midst of cries of joy. It was truly an animated and interesting spectacle to see so much movement and life in a place ordinarily dominated by the wild and silent majesty of nature. The Whites, soldiers, women and their children alone remained in camp, but all came forth from their tents to be witness of the scene presented on the opposite bank. Some of the white men had even joined the savages to enjoy this new species of chase. As soon as they arrived, they changed their paddles for carbines, and mounted the bank at a run without discontinuing their cries. The twenty beeves which were in the center of a field of about two hundred acres cleared the previous summer by the savages who had there cultivated maize, frightened by the cries and the appearance of the savages, commenced to scatter in all directions, each pursued by several men, and for more than a quarter of an hour shots from the guns succeeded one another without interruption, resembling the noise of a volley on a field of battle. About fifteen beeves were slain before they reached the neighboring woods; two or three were pursued and killed in the forest and two, each wounded with more than ten bullets, escaped their persecutors and fled back to Green Bay.
It was strange that no accident occurred. From my standpoint, seeing the confusion of the beasts and the men in pursuit firing in all directions, apparently without troubling themselves where their bullets flew, it seems utterly incomprehensible that no one was hurt. Several, they told me, heard the bullets whistle by their ears in a fashion little agreeable, and one savage had his blanket shot through.
As soon as an ox fell, ten or twelve savages cut its throat, and set themselves at the task of taking off the skin. Such was their experience, acquired in hunting deer, bear and buffalo, that the animal was carved and divided in a few minutes and let it be said, the distribution was made with a justice and equity that would have taken much more time among civilized people.
By two o'clock the Indians had all returned to the camp. At three o'clock in the afternoon occurred the distribution of the other provisions furnished by the government according to the term of the treaty - namely, about two hundred barrels of flour, one hundred of salt pork, twenty-five of salt, two hundred hectolitres of maize, and a thousand kilogrammes of tobacco. This last was of a detestable quality, it was entirely unusable by delicate persons; but the Indians did not examine it very closely. This distribution also took place very promptly, each chief of a bank taking the eight of each article, and subdividing it among all the families of his tribe in such manner that each appeared to me to be satisfied with his portion.
Taken all together, I believe there was enough to support each family for about three months. But the savages, having little liking for salt meat, almost immediately exchanged with the traders their part for merchandise, of which there were great quantities at hand. The salt was likewise almost all sold; but those savages who possessed horses carefully kept their share.
As soon as night fell, five savages went through the camp, stopping before the tents of the whites to dance. Two of the men carried a gun apiece, to which they had fastened sticks in the guise of a bayonet. The third had a tomahawk, a kind of small axe which they use in war, and whose head is formed into a pipe. The handle is perforated, and they use this instrument to smoke kinnikinnick - the bark of the red willow, which, when they cannot procure the tobacco of commerce serves as a substitute therefore. The two boys held in their hands, one a tomahawk and a pike, the others accompanied them with a kind of tambourine of Indian manufacture.
They were all in the finest of savage costumes - that is to say, entirely nude, except for the breechcloth; their bodies and their faces were tattooed and streaked with all imaginable colors, and in the most bizarre patterns. Their dance consisted simply in leaping around in a manner quite inelegant, keeping time with the tambourines. At the same time they sang and made all kinds of hideous contortions; and at the end of each refrain, two minutes, they uttered great cries of joy.
Thus ended the day. Towards 10 o'clock at night, profound calm reigned in camp. American sentinels and the savage dogs alone remained awake. These latter, however, had no idea of giving an alarm. With furtive step and watchful eye, these animals, which seemed both in appearance and habit a cross between a wolf and a fox, as soon as silence gave assurance that all this little world was asleep, began their operations, with all the stillness and address for which the works of Fennimore Cooper have made their masters celebrated. Sniffing and gliding under all the tents, with an address and audacity unheard of, they plunged everywhere into the provision baskets; and woe to the poor white men who had not taken the precaution to place their provisions beyond their reach. As for us, we got off with the loss of an excellent cooked ham, scarcely touched, and seven or eight pounds of cheese. We considered ourselves fortunate to escape so easily. As for the savages, they are so accustomed to the habits of their dogs, that they rarely leave anything within their reach.
The next day (Wednesday) about half-past eight in the morning, criers went about camp, announcing that the agent was ready to pay the savages. The entire nation assembled in eight bands, who were to come forward one after the other, in order to avoid confusion. The money was all counted and laid out in piles of ten dollars on large tables. The head of each family, being called in a loud voice, entered and received one of these piles for himself, another for his wife, and one for each of his unmarried children. Some, with numerous families, received as much as one hundred dollars.
This done, the secretary of the agent presented his pen, which they touched with the end of their fingers; this was the manner of signing, since they did not know how to write, and each of this new kind of receipt was certified on the lists. A few half-breeds, who knew how to write, signed for themselves. This ceremony, quite monotonous in procedure, continued until all the savages were paid. There still remained twelve or fifteen hundred dollars. The chiefs of the nation, to the number of ten or twelve, who had already received their pay like the others, were then recalled to the council chamber, and the residue was distributed among them, the principal chief, Oshkosh, receiving double what the others did.
During all this payment, the traders, lists in hand, watched at the door for the exit of the savage, in order to secure their credits. The poor devils had hardly drawn their money with one hand, when they were obliged with the other to give the greater part of it to those rapacious and insatiable men, veritable vampires that attach to them like leeches. Some Indians escaped among the crowd, followed by their avid persecutors, who often abandoned the pursuit for fear of meanwhile losing some other customer. Then one heard among the crowd great cries of joy, and that kind of chase had indeed its amusing side. All, however, took place without a quarrel and with the best nature in the world; for the savages, having abstained from liquor, were naturally peaceable and addicted to laughter.
The traders had previously obtained a written permit from the agent, authorizing them to sell, on the sole condition of not marketing spirituous liquors. Their booths were visited during the day by the savages, who bought guns, kettles, knives, cloth, patricolored bead collars, powder and lead, blankets, calicoes, rings and earrings, and other objects for which they paid partly in peltries but chiefly in money. This traffic was prolonged into the night. However, the greater part of the savages carefully reserved a part of their money for another purpose.
The following day, about ten in the morning, the agent departed accompanied by his escort of soldiers, who all embarked in their bateaux in the midst of profound silence. Scarcely were they out of sight, when cries of intelligence were head from one bank to the other.
Five or six bateaux shot out from the opposite shore and came to disgorge, in the midst of the camp, their cargoes of poisonous liquids for which the Indians have so ardent a thirst. An hour later, one heard from one end of the camp to the other, a heavy sound like that which precedes the tempest. By sunset the storm had burst. There was then nothing but a fearful tumult of hoarse cries, savage howls, in fact, an infernal uproar, such as can only be produced by an entire tribe plunged into drunkenness. Then, the camp presented a scene of confusion and disorder difficult to describe.
Let the reader picture to himself the men of an entire nation, with almost no exception, indulging in a profound orgy, staggering, singing, shouting, fighting one another, smoking, or lying in the dust; the women following, or at most presenting the same spectacle; the maidens, running through the camp and inviting the whites, by gesture and speech, to partake of their favors. You can then have only a very feeble idea of what passed under my eyes. Such scenes as this are too revolting to be described. Let it suffice to say that all the vices of the scum of the population of a great city had their presentiments except one, that of swearing; but this surely due to the lack of such expressions in their language, for as soon as they know a few words of English, they commence very energetically to articulate the "goddams".
It is needless to say, that I sought in vain, that horrid night, to repose. Sleep, in such a hell, was impossible. And how shall I describe the scene that enrolled itself under my eyes, when daylight dame! Never has a more beautiful sunrise revealed a more shocking sight.
The ground was literally strewn with men and women plunged in complete intoxication. I could almost have wept at the state of degradation to which the white man had reduced these poor Indians, whose nature is so noble and generous, when it has not been polluted by his pernicious whiskey. Two human beings lost their lives in the midst of these orgies. One small child was stifled under its brutalized parents, a woman whose tender spouse had with his teeth torn off her nose to its roots. As to the cuts with knives, and heads cut open with blows from bottles, I could count a dozen of them, these were events so common, that no one appeared to notice them. Such little difficulties they regulate among themselves from time immemorial; so much for a nose bitten off, so much for an ear. The customary price having been paid, our savages become again the best of friends in the world. All this has its amusing side, but what can a philanthropist say?
That which has been recounted would seem to impute some blame to the American Government for allowing such a buses; we hasten to proclaim to its honor that none should be attached thereto. The strictest measures are adopted in entire good faith to hinder the sale of alcoholic liquors to the Indians, and those who are caught doing so are severely punished. But at the time that such scenes as we have described, the country was a wilderness. The rivers then flowed through a country which had for inhabitants only the Indians themselves, who ranged the forests in pursuit of game, or glided over the river searching for fish, or the numerous aquatic birds, such as the duck and wild geese with which they were covered, and which still abound in those places. On the borders of these rivers dwelt here and there certain traders, for the most part descendants of the French, or rather of the Canadians, who by their habits and alliances approached more nearly the Indians than the whites.
They found it easier to obtain their livelihood by trading with the Indians than by cultivating the fertile lands on which they were established. It was they, who for sake of the enormous profit made on strong drink, furnished to the poor dupes that for which they have so powerful a passion. T he Government has never been able to stop the traffic of this kind, which occur in places thus inhabited. I hastened to depart. I had wished to satisfy my curiosity, and had done so completely. I returned to Green Bay in half the time it had taken to ascend.
see page 118 for map
One of the early travelers whose account of his experiences and achievements has been the subject of much controversy is Jonathon Carver. Carver comes in for a sound drubbing at the hands of Mr. Kenneth Roberts on pages 707-9 of the novel "Northwest Passage". The Wisconsin Historical Society collections contain much material both for and against the man. His career is of little moment here except for the fact that there is recorded, an indenture and recitation, by an heir of Jonathon Carver, in the Register of Deeds office of Marathon County, at Wausau, Wisconsin and is entered here.
A short sketch, of his trip to Wisconsin, is first reviewed. (Summary of the journey of Jonathon Carver in Wisconsin, from "Travels through the Interior Parts of North America in the years 1766, 1767, and 1768 (Konson 1778) pp 17-180 as follows:
Jonathan Carver left Boston in June, 1766. Going westward via Albany and Niagara, he made his way to Michilimachinac, which he reached some time in August, soon after the arrival of the new commandant Major Robert Rogers. The latter, who had known Carver in the French and Indian War, let him have some trading goods, and in company with a party of other traders he left the fort on September 3, arriving on the 18th at For La Baye. (Green Bay) This building was much decayed, not having been garrisoned since Gorrell's departure three years previous. A few families were living in the fort, on the west side of the Fox, while on the east side were some considerable farms. September 20th the trading cortege advanced up the Fox, arriving at the Winnebago town of Doty's Island (at the head of Lake Winnebago, now a part of the city of Neenah) five days later. Here a "queen" instead of a sachem presided over the tribe an ancient woman, small in stature and undistinguished in dress. Carver thought the Winnebago had migrated from New Mexico. They spoke a harsh, guttural jargon.
Thence, the travelers proceeded along Winnebago Lake, and twelve miles from the island at the site of the modern Oshkosh, entered the upper Fox and followed its windings to the Fox-Wisconsin carry-place (the Portage of today) passing a small Winnebago village enroute. The valley of the Fox, declares Carver, was the former home of the Outagami and Sauk. The carry-place was about a mile and three-quarters in length, and there resided Pinnisance who told our traveler a remarkable story of an Indian who possessed a rattlesnake that he had tamed and worshipped. Carver noted the wild rice spreads and the abundance of wild fowl on the upper Fox and mentions the fertility and beauty of the country.
Embarking on the Wisconsin (October 8) they arrived the next day a the great town of the Sauk, a large-well-built village of ninety houses consisting of plank with bark covering. About three hundred warriors comprised their warparties, that frequently made incursions among the Illinois and Pawnee.
Carver mentions "mountains" some fifteen miles southward, where lead ore is found - the Blue Mounds and similar lead bearing hills, the next day they reached the first town of the Outagami (Fox) which was nearly deserted because of the prevalence of an epidemic. About five miles above the mouth of the Wisconsin, the ruins of another large town were seen; it had been deserted for nearly thirty years, for superstitious reasons. The native inhabitants had built a town on the Mississippi at La Prairies les Chiens (of Dog Plains) where there were now three hundred families. Horses were to be seen here. The village was the site of a great mart, it being a neutral trading ground, even for tribes elsewhere at war.
At Yellow River, the traders took up winter quarters, and Carver with two servants began ascending the Mississippi in a small canoe. November 1, he entered Lake Pepin and remarked the ruins of a French factory where Captain St. Pierre formerly resided. In this neighborhood, he noted and described some Indian mounds. Near the St. Croix, Carver first met the Sioux, whom he calls Naudowessie Indians and mediated between them and a band of Chippewa.
Thirty miles below the falls of St. Anthony, he passed the cave later given his name. At St. Pierre (or Wadapawmenesotor) River, he left his canoe, because of ice and traveled on foot to the falls, where he was impressed with the devotions of a Winnebago "prince". Continuing as far north at St. Francis, passing Run River on the way, he reached on November 25 the point where he had left his canoe. Thence, he mounted the St. Pierre for about two hundred miles and dwelt seven months among the Naudowessie, where he was occupied with geographical inquiries. Returning in April, accompanied by a large delegation of tribesmen whom he had persuaded to visit Mackinac, they held on May 1 a council in the cave before noted, in which complimentary speeches were exchanged. (It was on this occasion, as later claimed, that the celebrated Carver's Grant was made)
Finding no goods at St. Anthony Falls, as had been promised him by the governor of Mackinac, Carver determined to return to La Praires Le Shien and secure some from the traders there. En route he met a Chippewa band headed by the Grand Sautor (whose Indian name was Minavavana chief of Mackinac Island band of Chippewa) who treated the Englishman with disdain, but offered him no violence. Having at last secured a stock of goods, our traveler returned to Chippewa River, engaged an Indian pilot, and mounted the eastern branch to the falls. He there noted the great war lord of the Sioux and Chippewa, and observed a tract of timber leveled by a hurricane. At the head of the Chippewa River was a town of that tribe, with a hundred stout, fine young warriors. Their customs, however, were very filthy.
In July, Carver left this town, crossing to a head branch of the St. Croix, on which he saw mines of virgin copper. Thence carrying again, he ascended to Lake Superior by a river that he named Goddard's arriving at the close of July in West Bay, whence he coasted to Grand Portage, on the northwest shore of the lake. This northwest Wisconsin region was called by the Indians Moschettoe (mosquito) country, because of the abundance of those insects.
At Grand Portage, he met Assinipoil and Killistinoe Indians, who gave him information of the far northwest which he details at some length. Returning by the northern shore of Lake Superior the traveler arrived at Cadott's Fort at Sault Ste. Marie, whence he leisurely returned to Michillimackinac, reaching there the beginning of November after fourteen months absence.
The winter having set in, Carver tarried at this post in good company until the following June where he left for Detroit, thence departing for Boston. From the Wisconsin Historical Collection editorial notes the following are taken; The omission, on Carver's part, of the stirring events at Mackinac in the winter of 1767-68, when Rogers was arrested, kept in irons, and the entire settlement full of excitement, would give rise to the suspicion of his desire to conceal these occurrences. He speaks merely of the tranquil pleasure of fishing and the passing of the time in pleasant company.
HEIRS OF CARVER
Marathon County Wisconsin Record Vol. C of deeds page 289
This indenture, was made this fifth day of August in the year of our Lord. One thousand eight hundred and fifty seven. Between Lauveaur D. Connor of the one part and Stephen Schooley of the other party. Witnesseth that Whereas Hawnopajatin and Otchlongoomlisheau, chiefs of the Nawdorsee (Sioux) Indians did by their certain deeds under their respective hands and seals give, grant and convey to a certain Jonathon Carver a certain territory or Tract of Land which said deed to the aforesaid Jonathon Carver in the words and figures following to wit: To Jonathon Carver a chief under the most mighty and potent George the Third King of the English and other nations the fame of whose Courageous warriors have reached our ears. And has been more fully told us by our good brother Jonathon aforesaid whom we rejoice to see amongst us and bring us good news from his country. The chiefs of the Nawdorsees who have hereunto set our hands and seals, do by these presents for ourselves and heirs forever in return of the many presents and other good services done by the said Jonathon to ourselves and Allies, give grant and convey to him the said Jonathan and his heirs and assigns forever the whole of a certain tract or territory of land bounded as follows, viz; from the falls of St. Anthony running on the East bank of the Mississippi nearly South East as far as the South end of Lake Pepin where the Chippewa River joins the Mississippi and from thence Eastward., five days travel accounting twenty English miles per day and from thence again to the fall of St. Anthony in a direct straight line. We do for ourselves our heirs and assigns forever give unto the said Jonathon his heirs and assigns forever, all the said land with all the trees, rocks and rivers therein reserving for ourselves, and heirs the sole liberty of hunting and fishing on lands not planted or improved by the said Jonathon his heirs and assigns, to which we have affixed our respective seals at the Great cave, May the first one thousand seven hundred and sixty seven.
Hawnopajatin his mark
Otchlongoomlisheau his mark
which said deed is in the records of the Plantation office, White Hall London And whereas the said Jonathon Carver departed this life on or about the thirtieth day of January in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty at the City of London in that part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland called England leaving two sons and five daughters joint heirs and sole inheritors of the aforesaid tract of land or territory to-wit; Rufus Jonathon, Mary Abigal, Olive Mindwell and Martha and whereas the aforesaid heirs and representative of aforesaid Jonathon Carver deceased did in due form of a law grant, bargain, sell and convey the aforesaid territory or Grant of Land together with the premises unto Samuel Peters and his heirs and assigns forever which said several conveyances made and executed buy all and each of the heirs and representatives of the aforesaid Jonathon Carver deceased to him the aforesaid Samuel Peters bear date in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and six (A.D. 1806).
And whereas the said Samuel Peters by deed dated the thirteenth day of July 1815 conveyed to Benjamin Connor five hundred and thirty six thousand six hundred and forty (536,640) acres of land above described, yet unsurveyed, he the said Benjamin Connor, his heirs, or assigns or any of them designating, choosing and detecting the place or places he or they will have the land.
And whereas the said Benjamin Carver departed this life on the --- day of December, A. D. 1835, leaving the said Laveaur D. Connor his heir at law. Now be it known that I the said Lauveur D. Connor by virtue of the powers terms and conditions in said deed contained, and in consideration of $100.00 to me paid by Stephen Schooley of the City of Cincinnati, and his services, grant, bargain, sell and convey to the said Stephen Schooley his heirs and assigns forever so much of my right, title interest and estate on in and to the lands vested in me by said conveyance, as will secure to him nineteen thousand acres of land to be designated and selected by him his heirs and assigns within the limits of the said tract of land herein described. Provided however that the same shall not be located on any land lawfully occupied or settled under said grant to said Jonathon Carver.
To have and to hold the said tract of 19,000 acres of land to the said Stephen Schooley his heirs and assigns forever.
In testimony whereof the said Lauveur D. Connor has set his land and affixed his seal, this 5th day of August A. D. one thousand eight hundred and fifty seven. The Grantor for his heirs and assigns, hereby convenanting with the Grantee his heirs and assigns that the title so conveyed is clear, free and unincumbered by any act of his.
Signed, Sealed Acknowledged and delivered
In Presence of
The words "The Grantors for his heirs and Assigns
hereby convenant with the Grantee his heirs &
Assigns that the title so conveyed is clear free
& unincumbered by any act of his - being
Lauveur D. Connor (seal)
Miss Lusette Schooley
John A. Lynch
State of Ohio
City of Cincinnati
Be it remembered. That on this fifth day of August, in the year of our Lord one thousand Eight hundred and Fifty seven, before me the subscriber a Commissioner appointed by the Respective Governors of the State of Wisconsin and the Territory of Minnesota to tale acknowledgment and proof of the execution of Deeds, or other conveyances, or leases and of any contract, letter of attorney, or other writing under seal or not, administrator oaths, and take and certify depositions to be used or recorded in the said State of Wisconsin or in the Territory of Minnesota, appeared Lauveaur D. Connor described in and who executed the above instrument of writing between him as one of the parties thereto, and Stephen Schooley the other party thereto, and the said Lauveur D. Connor acknowledged that he executed the said instrument freely for the purposes therein stated; and I certify that the person who made the said acknowledgement, is known to me to be the individual described in and who executed the said instrument.
Given under my hand and official seal the day year aforesaid
John A. Lynch
Commissioner of Deeds and for the State of Wisconsin and the Territory of Minnesota
I, Stephen Schooley of Cincinnati do hereby choose and select the following sections in Township No. 29 North of Range No. 2 East Meridian Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, and 29 inclusive and the North half of Section 30 and North East Quarter (80 acres) of the South half of said section, and the South East half of the Quarter (40 acres) of said South half of said Section, all in the County of Marathon State of Wisconsin to embrace the 19,000 acres. As deeded to me by deed as recorded as above from Lauveaur D. Connor.
Signed, Sealed, Acknowledged
and Delivered in presence of
Stephen Schooley (Seal)
Received for record August 25th, 1857 at 7:00 o'clock A. M
In this period of time there was no other way to transport supplies other than by canoes and flat boats when confined to the navigation on the Fox and Wisconsin River. The largest boat that proved the most useful was the Durham. As it is mentioned frequently, it is well to give a short description of it here.* The Durham was an invention of Robert Durham of Bucks County, Pennsylvania in 1750.
*From the Arndt description taken from "Pioneers and Durham Boats on the Fox".
John P. Arndt built the first Durham boat in the spring of 1825 and loaded it with merchandise of points up the Fox and down the Wisconsin River. This style of boat had long been in use on the Delaware and Susquehanna Rivers, with conditions about the same as on the Fox River.
The boat was of the flat bottom sort and was generally from forty-five to sixty five feet long and ten to twelve feet beam and about two and one-half feet deep, drawing from eighteen to twenty inches of water but carrying a large load with light draft. They would easily handle a cargo of from twenty-five to thirty tons.
The bottom was constructed on one and one half inch oak planks, with one strake above the bend;; with pine from this to the gunwale. The timbers of the frame were three by three and one-half inches, steamed and bent or worked out of natural crooks, oak beams were four by five inches placed athwart the boat about eight or nine feet apart and made to arch or crown four or five inches. The waist began about eight feel from the stern and extended perfectly straight to within eight feet of the bow. The sheer began at these points, fore and aft, raising the stem and stern a few inches above the waist. The boat was sharp at both ends, which were decked over to the waist, where the walking board began and ran the whole length of the a waist. The walking board was about fourteen inches wide; combings two by four inches were secured to the inner side to give it strength and increase the freeboard. The steering oar was the novelty of the boat, hewn from a single pine tree twenty feet long and large enough to make a blade twelve inches wide and three to four feet long. The pivot point was about eleven feet from the end of the blade; the stock was arched upward from this point so that when the boat was loaded the handle of the oak would be three feet above the deck. At the pivotal point a slotted mortise was made to receive a one and one-half inch iron pin driven into the head of the stern post, on church to hang the oar. The oar was now put in place, dressed and thinned until it balanced thus making it work easily in desired directions. With the use of a long socket pole made of strong light wood like ash, fifteen feet long and from one and one-half inches in diameter at its largest part it tapered down to one and one-half inches at the top, on which was placed a large button against which the poleman placed his shoulder and pushed while traveling the walking plank. T he other end was provided with a sharp steel point. It was provided with a mast and sail and a heavy block and tackle with a long towline. The usual crew for such a boat was six men and a speed of three miles an hour obtained.
Illustration on page 121
In 1837, Robert Wakely and wife came from New York State by boat down the Ohio River to Cincinnati, and from there again by boat up the Mississippi River to Prairie du Chien, by another boat up the Wisconsin River to Portage (Fort Winnebago) and by "keel boat" to Point Bausse. They opened the "Wakely Tavern" just below Point Bausse being about one mile below present Nekoosa. The lower ferry across at this point was the first "current" ferry.
Wakely's long journey and the use of the keel-boat indicates to what great uses this type of barge became necessary. The keelboat was the best for tonnage and its peculiar built up deck afforded protection often from the attacks by the Indians. Because of its general use, its description is interesting in this connection and it is very doubtful if any living today have seen it. These keelboats were modeled after the Erie canal boats. Occasionally, it was referred to an a "pirogue" but the comparison was incorrect. A pirogue was a log canoe with a square end and the same applied when two such canoes were joined side by side with poles across the tops and then floor laid on these poles. It was rowed by oarsmen at the bow and steered with an oar from the stern.
The keelboat was built of various lengths, some of them as long as one hundred twenty feet with a beam sometimes exceeding twenty feet with a four foot hold and covered to the height of four to six feet above the gunnel. The ends were sharp, some rather pointed and others rounded. The box-like cabin built the full length of the boat was either roofed over or had a frame work over which a tarpaulin was stretched and when necessary came down and was fastened to the sides of the boat. This gave protection to cargo and passengers.
At either end there was a deck eight to ten feet, the forward deck was fitted with a windlass for pulling boat off the sandbars or awarping through swift water over rapids. A walk of some sixteen inches wide was built along the gunnels, the whole length of the boat fitted with cleats nailed about twenty-six to thirty inches apart to give footing for the crew when poling the boat.
Going upstream, when possible to walk along the shore, the man hauled on a rope some one thousand feet long, called a cordelle, fastened to a mast which rose from the center of the boat to a height of from twenty-five to thirty feet. To reduce the side pull, this line was run through a ring, attached to a short rope fastened to the bow, and then to the mast. This was a called a "bridle" and regulated the swing of the line and prevented too much shore pull on the boat. It took a full crew of from fifteen to thirty men, depending on the size of the boat, to make any impression against the current. When poling the men were provided with long hardwood poles fitted with a shoe at one end and at the other end an arm-like piece to fit the shoulder.
A crew for the larger boats required a dozen men on each side. They set their poles into the river bottom, and with the other end against their shoulder, pushed upstream as they walked to the rear. On reaching the stern, they would quickly haul up the poles and run back to the bow, over the roof of the cabin, to take their place in line for another push. When stuck on a sand bar, or the current was too stiff, then the cordelle was run to a tree and fastened some one thousand feet upstream and the other end wound over the drum and fastened and the windlass started to turn. In this manner, the boat wound upstream.
To demonstrate the great carrying space of these keel-boats, Captain Marruat has described the load that was in the keel-boat he started out with on a trip down the Wisconsin from Fort Winnebago (Portage) in 1837.
"I stayed there at Fort Winnebago two days, much pleased with the society and the kindness shown to me; but an opportunity of descending the Wisconsin to Prairie du Chien, in a keelboat, having presented itself, I availed myself of an invitation to join the party, instead of proceeding by land to Galena, as had been my original intention. The boat had been towed up the Wisconsin with a cargo of flour for the garrison; and a portion of the officers having been ordered down to Prairie du Chien, they had obtained this large boat to transport themselves, families, furniture, and horses, all at once, down to their destination. The boat was about one hundred and twenty feet long, covered in to the height of six feet above the gunnel, and very much in appearance like the Noah's Ark given to children, excepting that the roof was flat. -– Our freight consisted of furniture stowed forward and after, with a horse and cow. In a cabin in the center we had a lady and five children, one maid and two officers."
The first boat, propelled by steam, to travel the upper Mississippi was the "Virginia" which arrived at Fort Snelling May 10, 1823 was nothing more than a remodeled keel-boat. It was only one hundred twenty feet long and twenty-two feet beam with passenger accommodations in the hold.
The course of human life didn't run so very smoothly with these pioneers in this or any other western section. To the man and woman, accustomed from childhood to all the privations of the early pioneer and frontier life, they were satisfied it it was possible to obtain the simplest necessities of life for themselves and their family. They waded the swamps, swam the rivers, camped out in the snows and endured the storm of spring, and took all as a matter of nothing unusual. The newcomers, whose homes had been in the East accustomed to some luxuries of life when suddenly brought face to face with wild pioneer life were stunned. Many became homesick and totally discouraged retraced their dreary way homeward. The others, and these were the great majority, made of sterner stuff and either couldn't or wouldn't turn back, remained and realized their reward whatever it was they had set their minds and hopes upon. They saw that the vast rich country had what they wanted if they were willing to put good hard work against nature's resources.
Tallow "dips" were the sources of the evening light and no household was without the familiar tine mould with its several hollow tubes for the casting of the tallow candle. Bar soap was usual but in its absence the familiar soft soap, for which grease was accumulated all winter as well as the hardwood ashes and the back yard of nearly every house showed the low platform upon which was set the ash barrels waiting for the water to be turned into them and the liquid caught into stone jars. This lye and the grease properly prepared and boiled and then cooled made the "soft soap".
The stage coaches and their terminals, the taverns, brought into the new country the news of the outside world and meetings at the taverns provided all there was of the local social side of life. The tavern keepers became famous as the greatest news gatherers. The taverns were the center of all local affairs. Usually built with an addition or second floor which served suitable space for all meetings. Local caucuses, town meetings, conventions, elections, and religious services and the occasional session of the court greatly added to the prestige of the proprietor. For special occasions as Fourth of July the landlord put on attractions that would draw to his house. They put on an unusual display of drinks and food and entertainments that would bring a crowd to the tavern.
Dancing was the most popular pastime. Square dances, such as quadrilles, and contra-dances, like money musk and the Virginia reel, were the favorites. With the incoming of the German emigrant came in the round dances, despite the objections of the "strait-laced". Of these new dances, the polka, mazurka, Schottische and waltzes were the favorites. At the formal dances the ladies wore dark prints during the early part of the evening, but at midnight they would retire to the dressing rooms, which were simply bedrooms assigned for the special occasion, and return to the dance floor in light colored airy dresses of tarltan or muslin. The more dressy wore pumps of bronze or black kid and others dancing in their ordinary shoes or rorocco, prune or waxcalf.
Few of the men wore pumps, but more wore boots and there were some who pulled off their boots and danced in stocking feet. The fiddler was usually some lumberjack or storekeeper with some supposedly better talent brought in from neighboring lumber camp or surrounding section. If the dance was held in the spring when maple sap was running the dance would adjourn to the dining room where a supper of syrup and hot biscuits would be the main item and during the intermission between supper and dance boiling maple syrup was poured upon the snow, forming wax, and then the famous candy pulls would be the feature of the evening. It is related that prices for such sugar parties were usually two dollars and fifty cents per couple. All were young and entered into any diversion with an enthusiasm that was bound to make it a success.
Wild game was plentiful and appeared on the table of most taverns. But the regular bill of fare served was usually plain. Fried salt pork for breakfast and supper, and boiled pork with bread and bean soup was served at dinner. The usual charge ranged from forty to fifty cents per day and some taverns fed the horses also. There were great quantities of whiskey used as it was believed necessary and useful for men doing hard work. During the harvesting it was expected that the farmer would supply something of alcoholic content and as a rule they did. Whiskey was the usual demand of the teamsters and travelers who felt afflicted with a deep seated tiredness that only whiskey could relieve. So that the tavern bars were well attended and the patronage went well towards the income of the proprietors can easily be seen.
illustration on page 121
Beginning with the winter of 1840 and spring of 1841 one stage route operated between Green Bay and the Mississippi River taking in on its way Fond du lac, Fox Lake, Fort Winnebago, Mineral Point and Galena. In 1851, a road was opened from Necedah to Grand Rapids. After the railroad was completed to Berlin in 1857, David and Moore's daily stage passed through Wautoma, on to Plover and ended its route at Stevens Point. Leaving the railroad at New Lisbon the stage started from the stage house "kept" by W. P. Carr passed on touching at George Salter's "Half Way House" six miles up, went on to William Palmer's tavern at Necedah. Ten miles beyond this stop the stage stopped for dinner at Sarle's One Pine House; and twenty miles further the stage was ferried across to Grand Rapids, where R. H. Grace kept the Grand Rapids House, J. X. Brands, the Magnolia House, and from Grand Rapids the stage went on to Plover and finished its run at Stevens Point.
It is related of R. H. Grace that he weighed some three hundred and forty pounds and his wife was well over two hundred. Jovial, naturally, and well-beloved by all who came to their hotel.
For connections out of Grand Rapids to the eastern part of the state a stage was started in 1856 by Myers and Worden who operated a four-horse stage line from Stevens Point by way of Plover and went on to Waupaca and on to Weyauwega and from there a short distance to Gill's Landing on the Wolf River. During the season boats arrived every evening from Fond du Lac and Oshkosh. One luxury of this road the two miles from Weyauwega to Gill's Landing where a plank road had been built. Plank roads were being built where money could be obtained to do the work and was the joy of the traveler.
The picture of the Stage Coach was typical of the times. The Recollections of Aron Rankin taken from the Wisconsin History Society contain a description of those stage coaches and is worth reading. He relates:
In those days the coaches were heavy, unwieldy things. In it were four seats, running crosswise, intended for eight persons, but more often twelve squeezed inside. There were no springs, under the coach; it was suspended by two leather straps, one on each side, extending from front to the hind axle. When the front wheels dropped down into a hole, the occupants of the coach pitched ahead; and so we kept it up day in and day out. I do not believe there was a rod in the whole distance, but some wheel was out of line, either in a hole, or climbing over a stone, stump, or root. If you were fortunate enough to get a corner seat you could brace and hold yourself somewhat, but the middle men had nothing to brace against, and I wonder that their backs were not all unhooked. Frequently we were stalled, and if the efforts of the horses, aided by the whip and the profanity of the driver, could not pull us out, we were all ordered by that autocrat to get out. From his orders there was no appeal; his word was law, reckless was the man who ventured any advice or made any suggestion. At all times, he was "half-crocked" held only by a hair trigger, and slightest jar would touch him off. He was master of the English language with its variations and no discount on him. The trouble was generally with the hind end of the coach, the baggage being all lashed to the boot so that most of the weight came on the hind wheels. After we had all gotten into position and the driver had his arms straightened up for a pull, at the command of the autocrat, we and the horses were expected to pull and lift at the same time, and we generally succeeded in getting it out ; but at times we had to get levers and pry it up. While not one of the drivers was a saint, they were not all bad men.
On this road the stage driver is a very busy man, he is lookout, pilot, captain, conductor, brakeman, engineer, fireman, and to use a slang phrase of today "the whole thing". He must always read the road. He knows every stone, stump, root and hill, but he is frequently deceived in the condition of the ground. Where yesterday he passed over safely, his wheels today break through and he finds no bottom. When he has a bad piece of road, and no way around it, he must go through, trusting to luck and his own skill for success. Approaching the station, or village, while yet a long way off, he blows his horn to notify the small boys and loungers of his coming and for them to assemble and at the stage house to receive him.
Drawing nearer, he jerks on his lines and presses his foot on the footboard whip in hand. Every horse is expected to pull his hardest until they arrive at the exact spot, and at the word of command to stop. He is the hero of every small boy and the champion of every lounger. But to see him in his glory is to see him when he starts out in the morning with a fresh team. He comes up in front of the stage house flying; the horses are nervous and uneasy while the passengers are getting aboard, but he is master of the situation; he is happy, for he knows that he is the observed of by all the small boys and loungers gathered to see him off. Baggage all strapped, passengers all in, everything ready, he is prepared to act, he is not ready yet, first he slaps his hat over on one side of his head, gives the ends of his lines a professional swing over the top of the coach, places his foot firmly on the floorboard, pulls up his lines, whip in hand, rolls his quid to tobacco around to the right spot, and then issues his command to the horses. Each horse is expected to press into his collar at that instant like the touch of an electric button, and do his best to forge ahead. This speed is kept up until he is out of sight of the loungers and small boys, when he slackens the pace and the regular day's journey has begun.
From the Wood County Reporter issue dated Wednesday December 23, 1857 the following advertisement occurred:
"New Stage Route". From Kilbourn City to Grand Rapids, by the way of Plainville, Point Bluff, Quincy and Strong's Prairie. The subscriber having obtained the contract for carrying the mail between Kilbourn City and Grand Rapids, has established a tri-weekly line of stages, a stage to leave each end of the route on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. This line will connect with the cars at Kilbourn City. This route is through a pleasant country, on the shortest and best line of public conveyances from Lower Mississippi and Western Illinois to the pineries of Wisconsin River, and the subscriber will spare no effort to make the accommodations of the route attractive to the traveling public. Quincy, December 15, 1857 H. W. Kingsbury.
[There are no copies extant of this issue, but the February 17, 1858 issue has a very similar notice.]