The following reminiscences originally appeared, in the Detroit papers, at intervals, during the past five or six years, mostly over the signature of "Hamtramck," and well deserve a more permanent record. It will be seen, that many of them relate to incidents connected with the war of 1812-15, in the North-West; and as all portions of the North-West participated in, more or less, and felt the effects of, that war, so all parts are interested in its history. Much also relates to Indian anecdote and character, and no particular region, can claim to be the special custodian of that interesting portion of our national history. Wisconsin is as much interested in its preservation as Michigan; nor should they be separated in the pious work of gathering and preserving these fragmentary notices, since both were united, from 1818 to 1835, a period of seventeen years, in forming the Territory of Michigan, and should feel an equal interest in these commendable efforts.
Judge Witherell, the author of the series, has resided at Detroit from his childhood, and has enjoyed rare advantages for the collection, from eye-witnesses, of the facts and narratives he has here recorded. They cannot fail to prove a valuable source of reference to all writers upon the history of the North-West L. C. D.
Reminiscences of the Northwest.
By B. P. H. Witherell
I. -- Capt. John Grant, Wayne, Tecumseh.
I called, awhile since, on my old friend, Capt. John Grant, of Grosse Pointe. Age sits lightly on the venerable, old man. The Captain is a sort of Melchisideck, on the Pointe. He knows no beginning of his days —no father, mother, kith or kin; even his true name is to him unknown, though he has some fifteen or twenty children to hand the name of Grant along down the ever rolling stream of time. The first distinct recollection that he has of his childhood, is that he was a captive boy, about three years old, among a wandering, band of Chippewa warriors. Whence he came, his name or lineage, he never knew. It was rumored, in after years, that he was captured somewhere on the borders of Kentucky, —"the dark and bloody ground," —some seventy years since. He well remembers the dress he wore, when he found himself playing with the papooses of the captors. It was a calico morning gown, gaily ornamented with ruffles. He says, "though I remember nothing of my home, my parents, or family, yet, when I think of mother, it seems as though a shadow passed before my eyes."
From the form of the furrowed and time-worn features of the old veteran, he must have been a beautiful, blue-eyed boy; and it was, in some measure, owing to his personal
300beauty, sprightliness, and forlorn condition among the children of the wilderness, that he owed his redemption from captivity.
The Indians had brought him to Wa-wa-o-te-nong, (Detroit,) and while roaming about the streets, the little captive attracted the attention of the lady of the late Commodore Grant. Commodore Grant commanded the British Government vessels on the lakes; and before the surrender of the country to the United States in 1796, under Jay's treaty, he owned and resided on the farm where George Moran, Esq., now lives, at Grosse Pointe; and I think continued to reside there until his death, in about the year 1815. He was a kind hearted old sailor, and his wife was one of the excellent of the earth. As they were riding out one day, she discovered the little blue-eyed prisoner among the savages, and his condition aroused all the sympathies of a mother's heart. She pointed him out to her husband, and asked him to buy the boy. The old tar was ever ready when a good deed was to be done, and, dismounting from his carriage, he went among the Indians, and finding the owner, he gave him a hundred dollars for the little Che-mo-ka-mun,
The little captive was a great favorite of the Commodore, who raised him to manhood; and he well repaid the kindness shown him, by his unremitting care and attention to the interest of his benefactor.
Capt. Grant, as he grew up to manhood, understood that he was a native of the United States, and never, for a moment, wavered in his allegiance, though as the adopted son of a British officer, it might have been supposed that he would have acted differently.
He says that at the time General Wayne fought and beat
301the combined Indian tribes on the Maumee, in 1794, he happened to be on a visit to the Commodore, who was then lying at anchor in the Maumee bay. Having obtained permission to visit the old fort, built, and then occupied, by British troops, (it stood on the north side of the river, below the rapids,) he went up to it, and was there when the battle was fought. Crawling up among the artillery on the ramparts, and the barrels of sand placed there, to be rolled down upon the columns of "Mad Anthony," (for they expected an assault,) he saw Gen. Wayne and his staff ride up and take a view of the works. His Majesty's officers said he was "a d----d impudent fellow." They had heard of him before at Stony Point.
When the savages were roused from their ambush, by the resistless charge of the sub-legions, and the storm of fire, which burst upon them in front and on their right flank, they broke and fled to the gate of the fort, expecting admittance and protection, as they had been promised. Capt. Grant states that a council of officers was hastily called at the gate, (which he approached, but was ordered off.) The council decided not to admit them, for if they should, the Yankees would soon be storming over their batteries after them. Denied admittance, the savages started off upon the run for their forest homes, and scarcely stopped until they reached them. The late Mr. Griffard, of the Grand Marais, who was in the battle, used to give a ludicrous description of the fight. He said the Bostonian
Captain Grant was well acquainted with Proctor, the Prophet, Tecumseh, Marpot, Walk-in-the-Water, Macoonce, and all the other chiefs of note. He states that he once saw Proctor and Tecumseh at the head of the troops, dressed in
302the splendid uniform, of their rank, (Brigadier General,) scarlet coats, cocked hats, and plumes, &c., but the great Shawnee chief, who had been persuaded to don the uniform for once, would not exactly "go the whole figure," but wore a blue, breechcloth, red leggins, and buck-skin moccasins; yet he strode on, in conscious pride and dignity, the equal of his compeer. Proctor was suspended from command, after the battle of the Thames, for cowardice. Tecumseh died on the field, battle-axe in hand. I am told by Judge Moran, who frequently saw him, that he was a very proud man, but that his pride did not show itself in elegance of dress. His usual costume was a simple buck-skin shirt, fringed with buck-skin at the seams and on the shoulders, with buck-skin leggins, ornamented at the sides with fringe, and with buck-skin moccasins. He wore a red and blue handkerchief tied around his head in the neat and peculiar manner of the Hurons or Wyandotts. The Pottawottamies usually went bare headed; all the hair, except the scalp lock, was neatly shaved off, and the skin was painted red and black.
"Passing away, passing away," is written on all terrestial, things, and the nations of Red Men, who, within my own remembrance, inhabited our beautiful Peninsula, like foot-prints on the sands of time, have passed away forever.
II. -- Capture of Detroit.
During the bombardment of Detroit, previous to its surrender, in the last war, many incidents worthy of note occurred. At its commencement, the citizens, being unaccustomed to the roar of artillery, the rattling of shot against the sides and upon the roofs of the houses, and the bursting of shells, kept a vigilant eye upon the movements of the enemy. When they saw the flash or smoke of a cannon or mortar, on the otherside,
303they dodged behind some building or place of shelter. After a little while, they became more used to it, and paid less attention to the messages sent by the enemy through the air. The late Judge Woodward, one of the Judges of the Supreme Court of the Territory, at that time kept bachelor's hall, in a stone building on the north side of Jefferson Avenue, the principal street of the town, running parallel with the river, and situated near the arsenal. Between this house and the river there was a large brick store-house, belonging to the United States, and near it one of our batteries was built. Many of the shots aimed at the battery struck the store-house. A shot passed over the store-house and perforated the stone building in which the Judge had his quarters. He had just arisen from his bed and stood beside it. The shot came through into his room and struck the pillow and bed, and drove them into the fire-place, and the spent ball rolled out upon the floor.
On the evening of the 15th of August, 1812, a large shell was thrown from a mortar opposite where Woodward Avenue now is. As it came careering along, in its circling path through the air, it was watched with an anxious eye by those who saw it, as a messenger of death, perhaps, to some fellow mortal unconscious of his approaching fate. The fuse was burning brightly as swiftly it sped on its errand of destruction. It passed over Jefferson Avenue, and fell upon the roof of the dwelling of Mr. Augustus Langdon, which stood on what is now called the southerly corner of Woodward Avenue and Congress street. Passing through the upper rooms of the house, it fell upon a table around which the family were seated, and then descended through the floor to the cellar, —the fuse burnt down nearly to the powder. The family fled with expedition to the street, which they had just reached when the shell exploded —tearing up the floors, and carrying away a portion of the roof.
None of the citizens of the town were killed during the
304attack, though many of the dwellings were marked by the shot and shells of the enemy.
The fort occupied the high grounds near the residence of the late Judge McDonell. A shot passed over the front wall, and penetrated the barracks, which were on the north side, killing three officers who happened to be standing in the range of its course. Another shot struck the top of the front parapet, and passing through it, struck a soldier on the breast, killing him instantly, without breaking the skin where it hit him.
One of the French citizens, who lived in a small house near the river, while the shots, and shells were flying over him, stood unconcerned in his door-way smoking his pipe. Presently a shell whizzed past him, taking with it the pipe from his mouth. He was unharmed, but was so indignant, at the unceremonious treatment, and the loss of his pipe, that he seized his musket, and rushing to the river, waded out as far as he could, and fired at the battery of the enemy until his ammunition was exhausted.
III. -- Colonel McKee: "Give the Devil His Due".
After the American Army had been disgracefully surrendered to the enemy at this place on the 16th of August, 1812, numerous hords of Indians poured down upon the frontier from the North-West, Iowa, Wisconsin, Northern Illinois, and Indiana, and nearly all Michigan was then one wide wilderness, peopled only with savages —they scented blood, and like vultures, and wolves, came down for their prey.
The late Major De Quindre was at the time a merchant in
305this city; a garrison of British troops, aided by thousands of savages, held the country in subjection.
The Indians grew uneasy and restless, for want of scalps and plunder; a couple of them went one day to De Quindre's store; one of them took up a roll of cloth and started for the door; the Major called to him to stop, saying be had not paid for it; the Indian moved on —the Major bounded over the counter —jerked the cloth, and pitched both the Indians into the street; they instantly raised the war-whoop, and the Major seeing that "the Devil was to pay," locked the door and went into the chamber, leaped through a window —ran up to the Fort, and asked the British commanding officer to protect him and his goods; the reply was, that he had too few troops, and there were too many Indians, and that he could do nothing.
In the meantime a thousand savages answered the war-whoop, and rushed from all parts of the city to the scene of trouble, and with their war-clubs and tomahawks, instantly demolished the doors and windows of the store, hoping to find De Quindre there.
The Major, however, finding no protection at the Fort, sent Col. McKee, at that time the British Indian Agent, and who possessed unbounded influence over them; his quarters were then in Gen. Hull's former residence, (now the Biddle House.) The Colonel hurried to the store, found large masses of savages there, highly excited, threatening to lay the town in ashes, and to massacre the inhabitants. The Colonel, a tall, straight, athletic, fine looking fellow, with a voice like thunder, called out in the Indian language, "who are the cowards here ? I want to see them all, let the cowards stand on that side, and the braves on this" —his powerful voice was electric, —the tempest of savage passion instantly sunk to a low murmur, and the "whole mass moved together to the side of the braves.
The Colonel then with his stentorian voice cried out, "Let every brave man follow me," and then, led off to the common, (where the National Hotel now stands,) there he harangued
306them, and privately sent a message to Judge McDonnell and Robert Smart, for a barrel of whiskey —it was sent, and soon despatched; he sent for another, it shared the same fate; a third, was sent for, and soon followed its predecessors, by which time the fiery warriors, who had become somewhat mellow and under, the Colonel's, direction, were restrained from further violence, although low mutterings might be heard of "fire," "blood," "scalp," and "plunder."
Col. McKee seat two of the sober warriors, to the dwellings of each of the citizens, whom the savages had most threatened; they wrapt themselves up in their blankets, and lay all night on the front door steps, as a guard to protect the inmates from any sudden out-break of savage fury.
The energetic conduct of Col. McKee on that critical occasion, undoubtedly saved the city from the torch of the savages, and its people from indiscriminate slaughter.
IV. -- Incidents of the War, 1813.
Immediately after the defeat of General Winchester on the Raisin, which occurred on the 22d of January, A. D., 1813, all the prisoners that were able to travel, were taken to Maiden; the badly wounded were indiscriminately murdered by the tomahawk, rifle, and fire. Our fellow-citizen, Oliver Bellair, Esq., at that time a boy, resided with his parents at Maiden. He states that, when the prisoners, some three or four hundred in number, arrived at Maiden, they were pictures of misery. A long, cold march from the States in midwinter, camping out in the deep snow, the hard-fought battle and subsequent robbery of their effects, left them perfectly destitute of any comforts. Many of the prisoners were also slightly wounded; the blood, dust, and smoke of battle were yet upon them. At Maiden, they were driven into an open
307wood-yard, and, without tents or covering of any kind, thinly clad, they endured the bitter cold of a long January night; but they were soldiers of the republic, and suffered without murmuring at their hard lot. They were surrounded by a strong chain of sentinels, to prevent their escape, and to keep the savages off, who pressed hard to enter the enclosure. The inhabitants of the village, at night, in large numbers, sympathizingly crowded around, and thus favored the escape of a few of the prisoners. One of them, who was slightly wounded, passed out unseen by the sentinels, and, mingling among the mass of the people, walked quietly off to the out-skirts of the village, and, entering the house of old Mr. Bellair, half dead, as it were, with excessive cold, fatigue and hunger, he frankly told him his situation. Bellair said to him, that it was dangerous for him to stay there long, but he would do the best he could for him. He took him to a private, room, warmed and fed him, and, after being secreted till somewhat recruited, Mr. Bellair told him in what direction to go, that he must avoid the highway, and keep on till he came to a house described to him. The soldier found it, and in it one of nature's nobles, a friend of humanity, who cheerfully and kindly provided for all his wants; and the soldier, throwing aside his military garb, engaged as a laborer, and worked for several weeks, and then boldly and unconcernedly returned to Maiden, hired a canoe to cross the river, and finally rejoined his friends in the States.
The people of Maiden were generally kind to prisoners. It is not in the nature of a Frenchman to be otherwise than kind to the suffering.
Mr. Bellair tells me, that, at the time these prisoners were brought into Maiden, the village presented a horrid spectacle. The Indians had cut off the heads of those who had fallen in the battle and massacre, to the number of a hundred or more, brought them to Maiden, and stuck them up in rows on the top of a high, sharp-pointed picket fence; and there
308they stood, their matted locks deeply stained with their own gore —their eyes wide open, staring out upon the multitude, exhibiting all variety of feature; some with a pleasant smile; others, who had probably lingered long in mortal agony, had a scowl of defiance, despair or revenge; and others wore the appearance of deep distress and sorrow, —they may have died thinking of their far-off wives and children, and friends, and pleasant homes which they should visit no more; the winter's frost had fixed their features as they died, and they changed not.
The savages had congregated in large numbers, and had brought back with them from the bloody banks of the Raisin, and other parts, of our frontiers, immense numbers of scalps, strung upon poles, among which might be seen the soft, silky locks of young children, the ringlets and tresses of fair maidens, the burnished locks of middle life, and the silver grey of age. The scalps were hung some twenty together on a pole; each was extended by a small hoop around the edge, and they were all painted red on the flesh side, and were carried about the town to the music of the war-whoop and the scalp-yell.
That the British Government and its; officers did not attempt to restrain the savages, is well known; on the contrary, they were instigated to the commission of these barbarous deeds. Among the papers, of Gen. Proctor, captured at the battle of the Thames, was found a letter from Gen. Brock to Proctor, apparently in answer to one asking whether he should restrain the ferocity of the savages. The reply was: "The Indiana are necessary to his Majesty's service, and must be indulged."
If the gallant Brock would tolerate the atrocious conduct of his savage allies, what could, be expected from others?
V. -- Incidents of the Battle of the Thames. Who Killed Tecumseh?
Gen. Cass, during a discussion in the United States Senate, on the Indian appropriation bill, in advocating the payment of a certain amount of money due the Shawnees, a tribe with which he had had much official intercourse, and of which the celebrated warrior, Tecumseh, was the chief, took occasion to "vindicate the truth of history," as follows:
There are two historical points which have been much debated, about which I wish to say a few words; both are connected with Col. Johnson and these Shawnees. The question has been often mooted as to who was the author of the movement by which the mounted regiment commenced the attack upon the British at the battle of the Thames.
Probably I know as much upon that subject as any other man now living, and the facts are these: Gen. Harrison had prescribed the order of battle, and promulgated it in the usual manner; that order directed that the army should move, infantry in front, with a portion of the force placed at right angles to the main body, to prevent the enemy from turning the flank. The cavalry were to remain in the rear, to follow up all the movements of the infantry. They were posted with the Thames on one flank and an almost impassable marsh on the other. Just as the arrangement was completed, and the British forces were almost in sight, I was sitting on my horse, when General Harrison rode up, and said to me, "I have a great mind to change my order of battle. I feel very strongly inclined to let Colonel Johnson's regiment attack the British line first." I replied, "you have undoubtedly considered the difficulty attending the charge; the mounted men are brave, but undisciplined, and their horses unused to service. If defeated, they may be upon our line, and do us irreparable injury." His answer was, "Col. Johnson says he can break the British line, and I will let him try." Well, the
310movement was made and was successful; and never, from that day to this, have I had any doubt that Col. Johnson proposed the movement to Gen. Harrison.
Mr. Butler. —Did Col. Johnson's regiment charge the enemy with swords or rifles?
Mr. Cass. —The men were all on horseback, armed with rifles; few of them had swords; they rode down the British forces; broke their lines almost, without impediment. I saw the whole operation myself, being there rather as a spectator, for I was not in command. I talked about it afterwards with some of the British captured officers, and having expressed my surprise at the little opposition the movement met with, asked why they allowed their lines to be broken, and their men rode down? They replied that "their men had become alarmed, for they had heard our bugles in the swamp on the left," where they supposed that we had a heavy force of regular cavalry. The bugles, Mr. President, were some old tin horns, and we had no force there at all.
I had some conversation on the subject, the other day, at lexington, with a, very intelligent gentleman —Capt. Johnson —a younger brother of Col. Johnson, who was there, and we compared notes, and agreed in our recollections.
Now, as to the other historic but disputed point: Who killed Tecumseh? [Laughter.] I will tell you what I know. Tecumseh fell in the battle, as we are all aware; but in the following year the Prophet, Tecumseh's brother, and his son, young Tecumseh, a very intelligent young man, often came to see me, and we had several conversations respecting the series of events in which his father was engaged. The young man was near his father's side in the battle, but his uncle, the Prophet, was in the Creek country. The young man described the battle very graphically —the persons, the parties present, and the incidents, without hesitation from the beginning to the end, and I have no more doubt from his narration than I have that I am here, that Col. Johnson was the person
311who killed his father. There were three of the Johnson's in the battle, and they were as brave men as ever followed the standard of their country to war.
Gen. Cass continued his remarks, and referred to many incidents to show the services rendered the United State's, during the war, by the Shawnees. Gen. Harrison and himself, in 1814, at the direction of the President, held an interview with a large number of them at Greenville, Ohio, when they agreed to join our standard, and subsequently did render to us efficient service. A party of them accompanied Gen. Cass to the North-West frontier, where he had an engagement with hostile Indians, who were urged on by the British, within two miles of Detroit; and in this connection, Gen. Cass referred to the fact that a white man, named Parks, was sitting in the gallery of the Senate, whom he had known since 1814, and who, when a boy, was taken prisoner and brought up among the Wyandots and Shawnees. Parks, at the time of the engagement, although but a boy, and Black-Hoof, the principal chief of the tribe, whose son was also in the gallery, with a party of their people came to the rescue, and saved Gen. Cass and his men perhaps from destruction. There being another Shawnee in the gallery Gen. Cass added: —
"He is the son of a true and brave chief called Captain Tommy, a son of an Indian aid-de-camp to Gen. Harrison, who was with him during his operations in the North-West, and possessed, as well as merited, our confidence; and, for many years, while they occupied that country, I had relations, political and personal, with the Shawnees, which left a deep impression upon my mind; and whenever they are in any difficulty, I will remember them and their bravery and fidelity, and endeavor to be useful to them."
VI. -- Death of Tecumseh.
The subjoined letter and accompanying affidavit have been handed to us by the distinguished citizen to whom the letter is addressed, and in as much as they throw some light upon an interesting point of American history, we deem them worth giving to the public. It there has hitherto existed any serious doubts as to "who killed Tecumseh," surely sufficient evidence is presented to remove them.
In this connexion, we are happy to learn, that Gen. Witherell is casually engaged in collecting interesting and prominent Incidents in the history of this section of the country. The task could not have fallen into better hands, as, besides his high Intelligence, he has been a resident of the country since his childhood. —Detroit Free Press.
Detroit, Sept 28, 1853.
Gen. Cass —Dear Sir —I read with interest your remarks in the Senate of the United States, last winter, relative to the death of Tecumseh, in which you expressed the opinion that he fell by the hand of Col. Johnson.
Honorably and actively engaged, as you were, in all the stirring events of the war of 1812, on this frontier, your opinion, made up from circumstances at the time, and being yourself on the field of battle, is entitled to great weight.
The affidavit of Capt. James Knaggs, with whom, as with nearly all our old citizens, I believe, you are acquainted, will, I think, set the question at rest.
Being at the river Raisin a few days since, I called on Capt. Knaggs, who was a brave and intrepid soldier, in the Ranger service.
He stated to me all the circumstances of the battle on the Thames, so far as they came within his knowledge, and at my request, he made an affidavit, (a copy of which I herewith send you,) narrating so much of the action as is connected with the death of the great chief.
Col. Johnson stated at the time, and afterwards often reiterated it, that he killed an Indian with his pistol, who was advancing upon him at the time his horse fell under him.
The testimony of Capt. Knaggs shows conclusively, that it could have been no other than Tecumseh.
Col. Johnson, when last here, saw and recognized Capt. Knaggs and Mr. Labadie as the men who bore him from the field in his blanket.
The transaction is of some little importance in history, as the ball that bore with it the fate of the great warrior, dissolved, at once the last great Indian Confederacy, and gave peace to our frontier.
B. F. H. WITHERELL.
STATE OF MICHIGAN,
County of Monroe,
James Enaggs deposeth and saith, as follows:
I was attached to a company of mounted men called Rangers, at the battle of the Thames, in Upper Canada, in the year 1813. During the battle, we charged into the swamp, where several of our horses mired down, and an order was given to retire to the hard ground in our rear, which we did. The Indians in front, believing that we were retreating, immediately advanced upon us, with Tecumseh at their head. I distinctly heard his voice, with which I was perfectly familiar. He yelled like a tiger, and urged on his braves to the attack. We were then but a few yards apart. We halted on the hard ground, and continued our fire. After a few minutes of very severe firing, I discovered Col. Johnson lying near, on the ground, with one leg confined by the body of his white mare, which had been killed, and had fallen upon him. My friend Medard Labadie was with me. We went up to the Colonel, with, whom we were previously acquainted, and found him badly wounded, lying on his side, with one of his pistols lying in his hand. I saw Tecumseh at the same time, lying on his face, dead, and
314about fifteen or twenty feet from the Colonel. He was stretched at full length, and was shot through the body, I think near the heart. The ball went out through his back. He held his tomahawk in his right hand, (it had a brass pipe on the head of it;) his arm was extended as if striking, and the edge of the tomahawk was stuck in the ground. Tecumseh was dressed in red speckled leggings, and a fringed hunting shirt ;
I had no doubt then, and have none now, that Tecumseh fell by the hand of Col. Johnson.
B. F. H. WITHERELL, Notary Public.
NOTE. -- Col. Johnson was invariably modest about claiming the honor of having slain Tecumseh. When I paid him a visit, at his residence at the Great Crossings, in Kentucky, in 1844, while collecting the facts and materials illustrative of the career of Clark, Boone, Kenton and other Western pioneers, he exhibited to me the horse-pistols he used in the battle of the Thames, and modestly remarked, "that with them he shot the chief who had confronted and wounded him in the engagement."
Alluding to Capt. Knaggs' statement, the Louisville Journal remarked: "A new witness has appeared in the newspapers testifying to facts which tend to show that Col. R. M. Johnson killed Tecumseh.
The Colonel was certainly brave enough to meet and kill a dozen Indians, and if he didn't kill Tecumseh, he no doubt would have done it, It he had had a chance. He himself was often interrogated upon the subject, and his reply upon at least one occasion was capital: "They say I killed him; how could I tell? I was in too much of a hurry, when he was advancing upon me, to ask him his name, or Inquire after the health of his family. I fired as quick as convenient, and he fell. If it had been Tecumseh or the Prophet, it would have been all the same." " L. C. D.
VII. -- Tecumseh.
I saw in your paper, a few days since, a communication relative to the death of this celebrated chief. Capt. Knaggs, who is spoken of in that communication, is a highly respectable citizen of Monroe, and was one of the most active and useful partisans in service during the war of 1812. Almost innumerable and miraculous were his "hairbreadth 'scapes" from the savages.
He related to me, when I last saw him, several anecdotes of Tecumseh, which illustrate his character. Amongst others, he states that while the enemy was in full possession of the country, Tecumseh, with a large band of his warriors, visited the Raisin. The inhabitants along that river had been, stripped of nearly every means of subsistence. Old Mr. Rivard, who was lame, and unable by his labor to procure a living for himself and family, had contrived to keep out of the sight of the wandering bands of savages, a pair of oxen, with which his son was able to procure a scanty support, for the family. It so happened that, while at labor with the oxen, Tecumseh, who had come over from Maiden, met him in the road, and walking up to him, said, "My friend, I must have those oxen. My young, men are very hungry: they have nothing to eat. We must have the oxen."
Young Rivard remonstrated. He told the chief that, if he took the oxen, his father would starve to death.
"Well," said Tecumseh, "we are the conquerors, and every thing we want is ours. I must have the oxen; my people must not starve; but I will not be so mean as to rob you of them. I will pay you one hundred dollars for them, and that is far more than they are worth; but we must have them."
Tecumseh got a white man to write an order on the British Indian Agent, Col. Elliot, who was on the river some distance below, for the money. The oxen were killed, large fires built, and the forest warriors were soon feasting on their flesh. Young Rivard took the order to Col. Elliot, who promptly refused to pay it, saying, "We are entitled to our support from the country we have conquered. I will not pay it." The young man, with sorrowful heart, returned with the answer to Tecumseh; who said, "He won't pay it, will he? Stay all night, and tomorrow we will go and see." On the next morning, he took young Rivard, and went down to see the Colonel. On meeting him, he said, "Do you refuse to pay for the oxen I bought?" "Yes," said the Colonel, and he reiterated the reason for refusal. "I bought them," said the chief, "for my young men were very hungry. I promised to pay for them, and they shall be paid for. I have always heard that white nations went to war with each other, and not with peaceful individuals; that they did not rob and plunder poor people. I will not." "Well," said the Colonel, "I will not pay for them." "You can do as you please," said the chief; "but before Tecumseh and his warriors came to fight the battles of the great King, they had enough to eat, for which they had only to thank the Master of Life and their good rifles. Their hunting grounds supplied them with food enough; to them they can return." This threat produced a sudden change in the Colonel's mind. The defection of the great chief, he well knew, would immediately withdraw all the nations of the Red Men from the British service; and without them, they were nearly powerless on the frontier.
"Well," said the Colonel, "if I must pay, I will." "Give me hard money," said Tecumseh, "not rag money," (army bills.) The Colonel then counted out a hundred dollars, in coin, and gave them to him. The chief handed the money to young Rivard, and then said to the Colonel, "Give me one dollar more." It was given; and handing that also to Rivard, he said, "Take that; it will pay for the time you have lost in getting your money."
How many white warriors have such notions of justice?
At the time Col. Dudley approached Fort Meigs, to relieve it from siege, he attacked the besiegers, routed them, and entered their camp. His troops behaved with the most dauntless bravery, and swept all before them; but the moment the victory was completed, militia-like, they broke their ranks, and wandered about to gaze at what they had never seen before, an enemy's camp and a battle-field. The British and Indian force rallied and returned, and finding our soldiers scattered, easily routed them, with great slaughter. After resistance ceased, the savages began killing the prisoners. Col. McKee, who fought with the Indians, "roared like a bull," (as an eye witness expressed it,) ordering them to desist; but they heeded him not. Tecumseh rushed among them, and ordered them to stop the massacre; but they had lost many men, and were furious, and went on hewing down all they met. Tecumseh, was deeply incensed at the merciless and useless waste of life, and the dishonor of killing prisoners; and dashing among his own warriors, he drove his tomahawk to the handle into the scull of one of them, who fell dead at his feet; and, with a fierce yell, he declared he would serve them all in the same way, unless they obeyed his orders. This appeal was effectual; no more prisoners were killed.
Before the commencement of the war, when his hunting parties approached the white settlements, horses and cattle were occasionally stolen; but notice to the chief, failed not to produce instant redress.
The character of Tecumseh was that of a gallant and intrepid warrior, an honest and an honorable man; and his memory is respected by all our old citizens, who personally knew him.
Capt. Knaggs pointed out to me the cellars of the buildings in which our wounded soldiers, who were made prisoners at the battle on the Raisin, were burned. They are within a few yards of the brick house on the left, as you approach the north bank of the river Raisin from Detroit. One of them yet remains uncovered.
Mr. Campau, who, at the time of the battle, lived, and yet lives, about a quarter of a mile from the burned buildings, vividly describes the scene —the shrieks of agony and the howls of despair, that went up to heaven, as the fierce flames rapidly enveloped the burning buildings. Though covered with wounds, many of the prisoners were able to crawl to the doors to avoid the raging fire; but the bullet and the battle-axe
319met them there, and at once ended their miseries. The voices of all were soon stilled in death; and there their bones long lay, bleaching in the sun and storm. The savages forbade the inhabitants to bury them, under pain of death.
A soldier, made prisoner at the battle, was taken to Mr. Campau's house by the Indians. Some apples were handed to them. The prisoner happened to receive his first. This was a mortal affront; and the poor fellow was instantly seized, dragged to the door, and cut down on the steps.
Another soldier had hid in a hay-stack. He was discovered by an Indian boy, who informed the Indians while at Campau's house. With a fierce whoop, they started for him. Campau called out, "Chief, give me your word to save that man." "I give it," said the chief; and this saved the poor fellow from certain death.
It were endless to relate all the tales of blood that were witnessed on this frontier. The lives of the French inhabitants, in consideration of former kindnesses to the Indians, were generally spared, and they exerted themselves, to the utmost in behalf of the suffering captives, and saved many, very many, from untimely graves.
Forty years have passed away, and the Regent, with all his Ministers, who employed the savages, and stimulated them to such atrocious deeds, together with most of the more immediate actors in the scenes, have passed to the great tribunal, to meet their countless victims there, where the crimes of the one, and the sufferings of the other, have been registered for the final reckoning.
VIII. —Incidents, 1807-1814.
In 1807, the little town of Detroit was just rising from its ashes. The Indians of the surrounding wilderness were, even then, seriously threatening the settlements. At that time, there
320was but a small regular force in garrison, at the Old Fort; and, for the purpose of affording additional protection, a body of volunteers were called out and placed under the immediate command of Major John Whipple. The main guard was posted at the Indian council house, where the new Firemen's Hall now stands, and a block-house was erected in Jefferson Avenue, on the Brush farm. The town was surrounded by a row of strong pickets, fourteen feet high, with loop-holes to fire through. The line of pickets commenced at the river, on the line of the Brush farm, and followed that line to about Congress street, and thence westerly along or near Michigan Avenue, back of the Old Fort, to the east line of the Cass farm, and followed that line to the river. On Jefferson Avenue, at the Cass line, and on Atwater street, on the Brush farm, massive gates were placed, which daily at rise and set of sun, grated on their ponderous hinges. Sentinels were placed at them, and along the line of pickets. It was rather an exciting time, but many ludicrous scenes occurred. Among others, on a dark, rainy night, a sentinel fired at an imaginary Indian, the drums beat to arms, the troops turned out, and a militia colonel, (he was not a native of Michigan,) who lived at a distance from the quarters of the troops, hearing the alarm, seized his port-manteau in one hand, and the muzzle of a musket with the other, and ran at full speed to the guard house, dragging the butt of his gun in the mud. He kept on his headlong way until, encountering a small shade tree, it bent away before him, and he slid up to the limbs, but the recoil of the sapling left the gallant warrior flat on his back in the mud. The pickets remained around the town when, the war of 1812 began.
In 1814, Gen. Cass, then a general officer in the army, was in command on this frontier, with a body of troops to protect the country. Our army on the Niagara frontier was hard pressed, and the General, unsolicited, sent to Gen. Brown, all his force; only a dozen or so of invalids, unfit for service, remained.
Gen. Cass had become acquainted with our people, well knew their courage and patriotism, and determined, with them alone, to defend the country; and they did not disappoint his expectations.
Mr. McMillan, —whose widow and children, after the lapse of forty years, are yet with us, —had joined Capt. Andrew West brook's company of Rangers. Capt. Westbrook was a native of Massachusetts, and had been taken, in his childhood, by his father to Nova Scotia, He afterwards found his way to Delaware, on the Thames, in Upper Canada, where he was living when the war of 1812 broke out. He was too much of a Yankee to be quiet, and they drove him off. He came to Michigan, raised a company of Rangers, and proved an exceedingly active partisan soldier, and seriously annoyed the enemy. He made frequent incursions into the Province, as far up as Delaware. He was at the time a man of considerable wealth, had a fine, large house, distillery, &c., at Delaware. On his first visit with his Rangers, he called them around him at his own place, and, swinging a fire; brand around his head, he said, "Boys, you have just fifteen minutes to plunder my premises; after that I give them to the flames;" and true to his word, he applied the brand and burnt up the whole concern.
Capt. Westbrook afterwards settled on the beautiful banks of the river St. Clair, where we have often experienced the generous hospitality of "Baronial Hall;" we usually called him Baron Steuben.
McMillan belonged to this corps. He was a gallant soldier, and did good service to his country. On the 15th of September, 1814, the morning after his return from an expedition to the Rondo, in Upper Canada, he, with his young son, Archibald, then eleven years of age, went out upon the common to find his cow. What follows, I have from an eye-witness, Mr. William McVey, of the Rouge. He says, "David and William Burbank and myself were sitting down at the
322Deer Park, on the Macomb (now Cass) farm, near where La Fayette street crosses it, watching, our cows. McMillan and Archy passed us. We spoke to them about some apples they were eating. They passed on towards some cows that were feeding near the bushes, (the hushes then came down to near where the Capitol stands). We kept our eyes on them, thinking danger might be near. When they approached within gun shot of the bushes, we saw three or four guns fired, and McMillan fall. The Indians instantly dashed upon him, and took off his scalp. Archy, on seeing, that, his father was killed, turned and ran towards us with all the speed that his little legs could supply. A savage on horseback pursued him. As he rode up, and stooped to seize him, the brave little fellow, nothing daunted, turned and struck the horse on the nose with a rod which he happened to have in his hand. The horse turned off at the blow, and Archy put forth his best speed again. Again the Indian came on, but a second blow made the horse sheer off again; and this was repeated several times, until, fearful of losing his prize, the savage sprang from his horse, seized the boy, and dragged him off to the woods, and thence he was taken to Saginaw."
About the same time, a, man by the name of Murphy, who lived with the late Abraham Cook, went with a horse and cart into a field, on Judge Moran's farm, (just back of where the Judge now lives). He was shot, scalped, and his bowels cut open, and left exposed in the field, and the horse was taken off.
The Indians were constantly beleaguering the town, sallying out occasionally, and driving off and killing, all the cattle, &c., that approached the bushes. Determined to put a stop to this, Gen. Cass called upon the young men to arm and follow him.
They were ready at first blast of the bugle, mounted on ponies, such as could be had, (for there were but few left,) and armed with all varieties of weapons, —rifles, shot-guns, war-clubs and tomahawks, swords and spears, and whatever
323other instruments of death could be had, —they mustered for this fight. As the woods and under-brush were very dense, they expected to have a hand-to-hand fight, and prepared for it. The company consisted of Gen. Cass, Judge Moran, Judge Conant, Capt. Francis Cicott, Jas. Cicott, Edward Cicott, Georgo Cicott, Col. H. I. Hunt, Gen. Larned, Wm. Meldrum, John Meldrum, James Meldrum, James Riley, Peter Riley, John Eiley, Lambert Beaubien, John B. Beaubien, Joseph Andre, Dit Clark, Louis Moran, Louis Dequindre, Lambert La Foy, Joseph Riopell, Joseph Visgar, Jack Smith, Ben Lucas, and John Ruland. I knew nearly every one of them personally, and a better lot of fellows, for the business they were on, could not well be got together. They were then young, and full of spirit.
After assembling, they rode up along the border of the river, to the Witherell farm, and rode through the lane to the woods. They soon came upon an Indian camp; the Indians had fled, leaving their meat roasting on sticks by the fire. Here they found Archy McMillan's hat, and were in hopes of finding him. The Rileys discovered the tracks of the enemy, and a hot pursuit commenced. They were overtaken on the back part of the Cass farm, and a hot fire was instantly opened, and kept up until the word was passed to charge; and on the whole body went, pell-mell. It was hot work for the Indians, and after a while they fled. Peter Eiley, who was in advance when the firing commenced, suddenly reined up his horse across the trail, sprang off, and firing over the horse's back, brought a. warrior to the ground, and in a twinkling, took off his scalp, and bore it away on a pole, in triumph. How many Indians were killed is unknown. A squaw came in with a white flag a few days afterwards, and reported that several of their people had been killed. Their Chief, Kish-kaw-kee, was carried off in a blanket, but whether scared or wounded, was not ascertained. Ben Lucas had a personal encounter with an Indian, by the side of Gen. Cass.
After the fight, the company came out upon the common, except two, who were missing. They were the late William Meldrum and Major Louis Moran, (now of Grand Rapids). Much anxiety was felt on their account. It was feared they had been killed. However, after a long while, the brave fellows appeared. They had been in hot pursuit of the enemy, and brought back a scalp, as they said, in token of victory.
During the whole affair, Gen. Cass rode at the head of his men, and when advised by Major Whipple to fall back to the centre, as should he be killed, it might create confusion, he replied, "O Major, I am pretty well off here, let us push on," and he kept his post.
The venerable Judge Conant, who, as I have before mentioned, was among the volunteers, and to whom then, as now, a squirrel's eye at forty yards was a sufficient target, states that Gen. Cass, and every other man of the company, behaved with perfect coolness through the whole affair. They were nearly all accustomed to the woods, (and the enemy knew it,) or they might have been cut off, to a man.
After coming out of the woods, the company formed on the common, and marched to the river Rouge, drove a band of savages out of the settlement, and in the evening returned, having performed a good day's work, —one that gave quiet to the settlement until the end of the war.
Before the return of the company to the town, it had been rumored that the whole party had been killed. On their way up from Springwells, the young men raised a tremendous war whoop. This confirmed the rumor, and numbers of women and children rushed to the river, and in boats, periaguas and canoes, put off to Canada for safety.
I have mentioned the three Rileys —James, Peter and John; they were half breeds. The latter is yet living on the St. Clair. They were educated men. When with white people, they were gentlemanly, high-toned, honorable fellows; when with the Indians in the forest, they could be perfect
325Indians, in dress, language, hunting, trapping, and mode of living. They were the sons of the late Judge Riley, of Schenectady, who was formerly in the Indian trade at Saginaw. The three were thorough-going Americans, in every thought and feeling; and were thought by the British, after they had possession of the Territory, too dangerous persons. They sent an officer and a few soldiers to St. Clair, seized James and sent him to Halifax, where he was kept till the peace.
The warriors were, of course, in the British service, but Riley was their favorite, and of their own blood, and they would not have suffered him to be injured without a fight; they were proud of his courage, and his frolics amused them, so Peter remained unmolested.
Some months after McMillan was killed, and his son carried off, Capt. Knaggs seized three Indians, the relatives of those who had made the boy a prisoner, and they were placed under guard, and John Riley was sent to Saginaw to propose an exchange. The terms were agreed to, and on the 12th of January following his capture, Archy was brought in, and delivered, as one from the dead, to his excellent mother.
There were many sufferings endured, and dangers encountered, in those days, which no mortal tongue will ever utter, and no pen record.
IX. —A Reminiscence.
In 1813-14, after the battle of the Thames, and the appointment of Gen. Cass to the Government of the Territory, the hostile Indians were every where committing depredations on the inhabitants. The lives of the Way-we-te-go-che (the French people,) were generally spared, because during peace, they had been universally kind to them; had relieved their distresses, fed them when hungry, clothed them when naked, and sheltered them by their firesides, from the winter's storm; these things were remembered; but though they spared their lives, stern necessity compelled them, as they said, to take all their means of living. All their cattle were killed, and their horses taken away, the fences around, their land used for firewood, the fruit from their orchards carried off, and, in fact, they were left totally destitute. Knowing their readiness to take up arms for their country, and the patriotic spirit that animated them, the Government, at the instance of Gen. Cass, supplied them, from the public stores, with the necessaries of life, until they could raise something from the earth to subsist on. This was a slow process, for a people without cattle, without teams, without fences. But they murmured not; they looked upon it as the fate of war, and cheerfully submitted to it.
As to the Yankee portion of our population, it was comparatively small, and with the Indians it stood on a different footing. All these were either put to death, when in their power, without mercy, or were carried into captivity. Mr. McMillan, a respectable citizen, whose widow and children are yet among us, was cruelly shot down and scalped on the common, while after his cow, and one of his children taken prisoner and carried to Saginaw. On the same day, a chief and his two sons seeing old Mr. Lewis Moran and his son getting rails near the border of the wood, approached with
327stealthy tread, and when near enough, drew up their rifles, and took deliberate aim. There was but a hair's breadth between the Morans and death. At this critical moment, the old gentleman turned the side of his face to the Indians; the old chief knew him at once, by his crooked nose, to be his former friend. He whistled, the rifles dropt, and the Indians went off. After the peace, they told "Uncle Lewis" that his nose had saved his life.
The forest near, and in sight of the city, was filled with these marauding bands, and they were daily seen from the city, killing cattle, and driving off horses, &c. Col. Croghan built a little Fort, which is yet standing, I think, on Judge Sibley's land, near the Pontiac road, to keep the Indians from the common, and then fired into it from Fort Shelby, to see if he could drive the Indians out, if they should take it. There was too small a garrison of soldiers at Fort Shelby to risk it, or any part of it, in an Indian fight.
Gov. Cass called upon the citizens to come and follow him. Detroit was then a small town, and had but few inhabitants, but they were of the right sort. They gathered together at the summons of the General, armed in all manner of ways —muskets, fowling pieces, rifles, sabres, tomahawks, &c.; but still armed, and willing to use their arms with Gen. Cass at their head, for he was always there. They went up the river about a mile, and there took to the woods, intending to gain the rear of the Indian force; but their scouts were on the alert, and when the citizens reached the Indian camp, they had just quitted it. A fire was opened, however, upon them; one Indian only was known to be killed; how many others were killed or wounded was never known. The Indians effected a retreat, followed by the party for some distance —the dense forest and thick underbrush, however, prevented a rapid pursuit on horseback.
After the return of the party, they were informed that Indians were hanging on the borders of the settlement below,
328near the river Rouge. Gen. Cass, with his party, proceeded to that part of the country, and the Indians fled. He afterwards, with the citizens, marched towards the settlements on the Clinton, river, which were menaced by the enemy, and the savages again retired, and fled to Saginaw. His constant, unremitting vigilance, and energetic conduct, saved our people from many of the horrors of war, and he was well sustained by our habitans. They were brave and fearless to a fault; the Indian yell, and, the war-whoop had no terrors for them when they heard it in battle; they invariably returned it, rushed upon the enemy, as they did at Maguaga, under the gallant De Quindre. They had great confidence in Gen. Cass, and willingly followed him into any danger.
Horses were very scarce, and it was with some difficulty that enough were obtained for the expedition. Gen. Cass had several, and his were readily and willingly furnished; one magnificent horse of his, rode by one of the bravest fellows in all the West, (the late William Meldrum,) was accidentally killed during the expedition.
X. —Ne-gwa-gon, the Little Wing
Among the sachems, chiefs, head-men and warriors of the tribes now assembled in council in this city, is Ke-way-o-sung, the son of the famous old Chippewa chief, Ne-gwa-gon, the friend of our people, whose memory is held in high esteem, not only by the Red Men, but by all of our people who knew him. He has long since passed away to the happy hunting grounds of his fathers.
During the last, war with England, many of the Red Men on this frontier, offered their services to the United States, but, from a mistaken policy the Government declined the offer. The restless young braves could not be kept quiet, and joined
329the enemy. Ne-gwa-gon, then a man of middle age, remained a steadfast friend, and, as far as permitted, took up the tomahawk for the Che-mo-ke-mun. One of his sons fell fighting our battles at Maguaga, and the great chief adopted the late Austin E. Wing, Esq., as his son, in the place of the deceased.
When the enemy had taken possession of the country, Ne-gwa-gon, with his family and band, retired to his hunting ground on the main land near Mackinac. He planted his small American flag in his camp in the woods, and lived by the chase. The British commanding officer at Mackinac sent an officer and fifteen men to take away the flag. The officer, with his party, found the chief alone; his band were hunting. "I have come," said the officer, "to take away that flag; it is the flag of the Che-mo-ke-mun, and must not fly here. The Saginash
Ne-gwa-gon was one of the finest specimens of humanity; he was over six feet in height, straight as the oaks of his own, forest, with powerful muscular developments, and with a manly countenance and bearing. He was a man of strong intellect, and possessed the resolution and courage of a lion. The old chief's dark eyes flashed at the demand for his flag; he rose to his feet, strode forward to his flag, lowered it, and winding it around his left arm, drew his tomahawk from his belt, and turning to the officer, he sternly said: "Saginash, Ne-gwa-gon is the friend of the Che-mo-ke-mun; he has but one flag and one heart. If you take one, you shall take the other." Then, giving a tremendous war-whoop, (the signal for his braves to assemble,) he looked sternly and silently at the officer, who began to think that "discretion was the better part of valor," and hastily retired to his boat, and returned to Mackinac. The gallant old chief rehoisted his flag, and kept it flying till the end of the war.
After the peace, he annually, with his family, visited this city, with two large and beautiful bark canoes the stars and stripes flying at the stern of each. Gen. Cass never failed to reward his integrity with abundant supplies and among other things, with two new flags, which floated in triumph over his wigwam, in the wilderness, till the spirit, of the old warrior departed to join the countless myriads of his race beyond the great western rivers.
XI. —The Old Town of Detroit.
On the 11th day of June, 1805, the sun rose in cloudless splendor, over the little town of Detroit. A few minutes after a poor washer-woman kindled a fire in a back yard, to begin her daily toil, a spark set fire to some hay. At noon of the same day, but one solitary dwelling remained, to mark the site of the town. All the others were in ashes, and the whole population, men, women and children —the aged and young, the sick, the halt, and the blind, were driven into the streets, houseless and homeless. All the boats, pirogues and skiffs lying along the beach, (as it then was,) were loaded with goods, and pushed off into the stream; but burning shingles, driven, by the wind, followed and destroyed them; even there. The town being built of dry pine, and very compact, the streets but about twenty feet wide, (the width of a side-walk on Jefferson Avenue,) the progress of the fire was extremely rapid, and the heat tremendous. The whole population, like Bedouins of the desert, pitched their tents, by the cooling embers of their late happy dwellings. Fortunately, Providence permitted the calamity to fall on them in summer. The Lea-light hearts of the French habitans rose above the pressure of misfortune, and to work they went, to repair damages. No grumbling at Providence. Their religion told
331them that repining was useless. So they -worked, and fiddled, and danced, and sung, and soon a new town began to appear, in its present extended form; and with the regret of the moment, passed away all sorrow for the losses endured.
XII. —An Indian Duel.
Long ere the ceaseless, ever-rolling tide of the pale-faced Che-mo-ke-mun had swept away from their homes and their hunting grounds, the war-like tribe of the Miamis, while their numerous camp-fires illumined the hills and valleys of the West, when the braves of their tribe passed to battle along the warpath, Min-ge-ne-ke-aw, or The Big Man, one of the gallant chiefs of the nation, felt his ire excited at the reputation which a member of his tribe, a half-breed, called Francois Godfrey, had obtained for courage and personal strength.
Min-ge-ne-ke-aw claimed to be the bravest, as well as the strongest, man of his people, and would endure no rival. He chafed like a wild bear, when he heard the braves and red beauties extol the manly bearing of his competitor; and he resolved to test the courage and physical power of Frank, in single combat. He gave no challenge to mortal strife, with "your humble servant" at the bottom, but meeting Frank one day, he accosted him with "Are you a brave man?" "Yes," was the reply. "Then meet me here to-morrow morning, at sunrise, with your scalping-knife in your right hand; we will join our left hands, and he who kills the other is the best and the bravest warrior of the Miamis."
Frank, though a man of dauntless courage and herculean strength, saw no good reason to test either in that way, but nothing but blood would satisfy the chief, and Frank replied, "I'll meet you."
At the appointed hour, the great chief strode along to the battle ground. He relied not only on his personal strength, but also on his great dexterity in the use of the scalping-knife, which he had tried on the pale faces at Harmar's and St. Clair's defeats, and all along our frontier. His dark eye flashed, as, with the deep growl of a tiger, he advanced to anticipated victory. He brandished his knife, and called on his antagonist to sing the death song, ere his spirit was dismissed, by the great chief, to the distant hunting grounds of the dead warriors of their race, who had fallen in battle, and gone to the Far West, beyond the great rivers.
Frank saw that there was no avoiding the deadly strife. To refuse, was to be branded as a coward and a squaw. The only alternative was victory or sudden death; so he flourished his keen blade, gave a shrill whoop of defiance, and advanced. They joined their left hands, and there they stood, face to face, and, like Fitz James and Roderick Dhu of old,
As what they ne'er might see again."
They mustered all their strength for the deadly thrust, raised their keen knives aloft, but ere they fell, Frank, the grip of whose hand was like an iron vice, wrung the left hand of Min-ge-ne-ke-aw with such tremendous force as nearly crushed the bones together. The chief, with a yell of anguish, dropped his knife, and cried out, "You are a braver and a stronger warrior than I am; let us shake hands, and be friends forever."
XIII. —Kish-kaw-ko and Big Beaver.
Among the unpleasant incidents of early days of our city, were the numerous brawls and quarrels of the Indians.
Murders, not alone of whites, but of their own people, were
333frequently committed by the Indians. Being almost at all times drunk, it is not to be wondered at, that they so easily and so often imbrued their hands in human blood. In the winter of 1826, in the afternoon of a day in January, a Chippewa was found in the street in Detroit, nearly dead from a cut in his head from a tomahawk. Kish-kaw-ko, a notorious war chief, dreaded for his many and atrocious murders, was suspected of the crime. He was sought, after, and found with his son, Big Beaver; the latter had his father's tomahawk, which was stained with blood. When he was arrested, he said the blood was from some meat he had been cutting. Both of them went quietly to prison, on being told it was Gov. Cass' wish they should go there. The Coroner's Jury found a verdict against Big Beaver, as the principal in the murder, and Kish-kaw-ko as accessory. The Indians remained in jail until May, when Kish-kaw-ko was found one morning dead in his cell. A jury of inquest returned a verdict of natural death, but, from circumstances afterwards ascertained, it was rendered probable that he poisoned himself. The night before, one of his wives brought him a small cup, and went away. Soon after, a number of Indians called to see him, and held a long conference;and when they went away, he took leave of them with great solemnity and affection. After they left, Kish-kaw-ko asked the jailer to give him liquor, a request which he never before made. At an early hour the next morning, the people who visited him the previous evening, came and asked to see him.
When they found him dead, they appeared delighted, and as if gratified to find their expectations realized. All but a few of his band started immediately for Saginaw. Those who remained, performed the funeral ceremonies. He was buried by moonlight, on a farm near the city.
He was one of the most ferocious and savage chiefs of modern times. His influence with the people was great, although he was unpopular. He was tall and athletic, and
334of great decision of character. He was attended, by a large retinue when he visited Detroit, —was peculiar for carrying his war-axe upon the left arm, tightly grasped with his right hand, as if in expectation of striking. His despotism may be learned from the following occurrence at Saginaw: One of his band killed another. The friends of the victim, were clamorous for revenge. The murderer's friends were desirous of saving him from their vengeance, and negotiated for his life. The conditions were agreed upon, and the property offered in fulfillment of the bargain was about to be delivered, when Kish-kaw-ko stepped up, and struck the murderer dead with his tomahawk. When asked why he interrupted their proceedings, and interfered with their lawful agreements, he merely replied, "The law is altered."
Big Beaver, like his father, was a powerful and muscular savage; and one day when the jailor's son went to see him in his cell, just as he opened the door, Big Beaver seized him, thrust him inside, locked the door, and escaped to the woods. He was never re-taken, but was, not long after, drowned in Saginaw Bay.
XIV. —An Indian Trial in 1823. Capital Conviction of Indians in 1828
In looking over some old letters, I observe one from Governor (then Judge) Doty, of Wisconsin, an extract from which I send you. "The lapse of many years" makes many matters interesting, which, at the time, were little thought of. The race of the Red Men, to which the letter relates, is rapidly passing away,
And we have built our homes upon fields
Where their generations sleep.
The letter bears date —
"Mackinac, August 6, 1823.
"SIR: —At this term of the court, there have been several trials and much more business than could have been expected. An Indian was indicted for the murder of another Indian; he was tried and acquitted. On the trial, a question arose as to the admissibility of evidence. When the act was committed, there were three or four Indians only present, and not a single white person. I was at a loss, on the rules laid down, whether these Indians could be admitted as witnesses; from the situation of the country, you will at once see that it is a question of considerable importance. One of the witnesses (a woman) stated that she believed there was a, Great Spirit —that there were places appointed for those who conducted well, and for those who conducted badly —that the eye of the Great Spirit was continually upon her, and that, if she told a lie about the murder, before the court, she would, after death, be sent to the bad place, and there punished for it. Under a solemn injunction to tell the truth, I permitted her to make her statement to the jury, at the same time instructing, them to place such dependence only on it as it, might seem to merit. All of the others would not say whether they believed in anything. They appeared to be very stupid. One of them said he was a pretty old man, and if any of his friends who had died had come to life again, he rather thought he should have seen them, but he never heard anything about them after they were once dead and buried. These witnesses were all rejected." "
Several years after, (in 1828) they appear to have been troubled in Wisconsin to get a sheriff to hang an Indian, after he had been regularly convicted of murder, as will appear by the following copy of a letter to Gen. Cass, then at Washington, from the Hon. James Witherell, then acting Governor of Michigan:
"Detroit, Nov. 4th, 1828.
"DEAR SIR: —Some time after you left here, I received, by the hand of Major Rowland, the record of conviction, and
336sentence of two Winnebago Indians, tried for murder before Judge Doty, in the county of Crawford. By the sentence, their execution was fixed for the 26th of December. In a note of the Judge, accompanying the testimony, he states that the sheriff of the county, whose duty it was to execute the sentence, is not qualified according to law, not having given bond, and from what he could learn, could not be qualified in time to perform the duty. The distance from this place, and lateness of the season, rendered it doubtful whether the removal of the sheriff and the appointment of another would obviate the difficulty, as he also might neglect or refuse to qualify. All the circumstances considered, I judged it most prudent to refer the whole subject to the President, and, in order that full time might be given for consideration, as well for remedying the defect in the affair of the sheriff, I have forwarded to Judge Doty, by the first (and perhaps the last) opportunity this fall, to be by him communicated to the sheriff, a respite from the sentence till the last Friday of June next. Although the course I have pursued did not make it necessary for me to express any opinion on the facts and circumstances of the case, it was nevertheless necessary to take such steps as might ultimately prevent the failure of public justice, through the fault or fears of a ministerial officer. The President, no doubt, will consult you on this subject.
"Very respectfully, yours,
J. WITHERELL." "
The President, I believe, pardoned the Indians.
XV. -- Indian Names.
In the published Collections of the Wisconsin Historical Society, the Indian names for several of the towns, rivers, &c., in that State are given, and the question; is asked, what is the English meaning for the words? I send you a few, with a translation as given me by Louis M. Moran, one of the interpreters of the Chippewas:
Mil-wau-kee —pronounced by the Indians Me-ne-aw-kee: a rich or beautiful land.
She-boy-gan: a hollow bone.
Wau-ke-sha —pronounced by the Chippewas Waw-goosh-sha: the little fox.
Pee-wau-kee —pronounced, and should be spelled, Pee-wau-naw-kee: the flinty place.
Wau-pe-te-see-pe —the Indian word is Wee-be-te-see-pee: Tooth River.
Osh-kosh: a hoof.
Manitou-wauk: the home or place of the spirits.
There are many parts of long Indian names which are almost inaudible when spoken by an Indian, and yet they are necessary to make any sense of the word. White men generally, in writing such names, leave a part out, and the consequence is, that interpreters, can make nothing of them.