Though for two centuries France had claimed the Old Norhtwest by right of exploration, England by the might of conquest and the United States with the spirit of '76, it was not until 1821 that the three Indian nations whose right was that of actual ownership through occupation, ceded the land that now lies south of the Grand river, noth of the South Bend of the St. Joseph, east of the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, and west of the boundaries of Detroit and Saginaw treaties.
Rich in historical lore, southwestern Michigan presents no more picturesque scenes than the signing of the Indian treaties. In 1821 at Fort Dearborn (Chicago), within the old stockade, in all the gay splendor of beads and feathers and buckskin fringes, there were gathered the majority of the head chiefs of the Ottawa, Chippewa and Pottawatomie nations--for, according to their tribal laws, the consent of the majority of chiefs was necessary to legally dispose of their hunting lands.
We picture the chieftains in dignified council: Top-in-a-bee, Match-e-be-nash-she-wish, Met-tey-waw and others of high degree surrounded by their warriors, interpreters, Indian agents, fur traders, soldiers of the fort, and two white men, one of whom represents the white father at Washington, General Lewis Cass, whose years of contact with the Indians had proven him fearless, determined--a man who "valued his word as he valued his life." The second commissioner was Solomon Sibley, the man who saved Michigan from being merged with Indiana and who later supervised the building of the Chicago road along the old Chicagua trail.
In exchange for their lands, the government guaranteed certains rights that were to be the Indians forever, but the results were unexpected. In contrast with the honorable methods of Call and Sibley, the squatters and land speculators, with whiskey and trickery, obtained the choice lands within twelve years after the treaty was made, which had ceded it for Indian use forever.
The old Northwest furnishes no more vivid picture of Indian justice than that meted out by lawful Pottawatomie chiefs, who though they refused to sign the second treaty to cede the reservations, nevertheless fulfilled, peaceably, the terms of the treaty which had been fraudently signed by unauthorized warriors. The pledged word of the Pottawatomie nation had been given--but they killed the Indian signers.
Boy Scouts seeking Indian names may glory in some of the names of the Indian signers, though their deeds, of necessity, must be judged from the Indian's standpoint.
ST. JOSEPH IN HOMESPUN
The Pottawatomie signers of 1812 included: Top-in-a-bee, Mee-te-ay, Wee-saw, Waw-we-wek-ke-neck, She-shaw-gan, Waw-seb-ban, Aw-be-tone, Shaw-ko-te, Shee-shaw-gun, Shaw-was-nay-see and scores of others.
In the long list of signers of the later treaty one can but conjecture which ones were killed for signing. The only familiar name is that of Pierre Moreau, who was the unsurping head of the Nottawa Seepe band.
Our great highways over which the automobiles smoothly spin follow the old Indian trails.
St. Joseph county had three types of trails: hunting, trading or portage, and the war trails. The portage trail was followed by Indian, trader, missionary, surveyor and settler. The hunting trail originally followed the pathways made by game to salt licks and drinking places. The hunting grounds of each tribe were clearly defined and woe to the Indians who trespassed. In an article by Mrs. Susan Fisk Perrin, concerning the trails of St. Joseph county, Mrs. Perrin, describes the war trail as deeper and wider than the others and tells of cleared spaces which were made at certain distances along the war trail where the warriors could camp. There were thousands of places where the Indians could secrete themselves in times of danger.
Mrs. Perrin located many of the trails, and followed them. She found that there were three war trails running across the county besides the main portage and hunting trails. The most important trail was the old Chicagua trail, now U. S. 112, along which every year the Indians passed to receive their annuities from the government. The trail entered the county in the southeastern part of Burr Oak, passed southwesterly through Fawn River, between Honey and Sweet Lakes, then westerly through Sturgis, White Pigeon and Mottville.
The Washtenaw trail entered St. Joseph county from Calhoun county in the northeast corner of Leonidas township, ran southwest to Nottawa Prairie, via Centreville, through the southeast corner of Lockport township just south of Three Rivers, then to Mottville where all trails met at the "Grand Traverse." This trail became the Ypsilanti branch of the old Territorial Road.
Another old trail ran north from Mottville, forded the St. Joseph forty rods above the mouth of the Rocky, at Three Rivers, then passed through the Zierle and Null farms, and the Barnes estate, then paralleled for several miles that which later became part of the Buckhorn road north. Down this trail is pictured the Shawnee's headlong flight in the battle of Three Rivers. The tradition is somewhat substantiated by the quan-
INDIAN TREATIES, TRAILS AND TRADERS
tities of arrow heads found in the fields which border the trail. Besides this trail in Park township stood the old Buckhorn tavern for which the road of later years was named.
Miss Hoppin wrote: "What pioneer does not remember the Buckhorn road as it wound through the forest from Three Rivers? The only houses for years were those of Joseph Sterling, Grant Brown, Abram Schoonmaker, and Reuben Bristol. The pole bridge on this road which crossed the great marsh just below the outlet of Goose lake was another landmark known all over the country. The Indian trail from the Marantette agency at Nottawa Seepe struck the main road just below the pole bridge. The trail passed across the Kellogg farm in Park and crossed the Portage river by the White Man's bridge about a mile below Portage lake."
Voyageurs And Fur-Traders "Dans mon chemin, Jai recontre "Troise Cavalieres, bein montees, L'on, ton laridon danee L'on, ton laridon, dai." So sang the voyageur. "Trois Cavalieres, bien montees, L'une a cheval, l'autra a pied, L'on, ton, laridon, dai." L'on, ton, laridon danee.To it's lilt, sturdy arms sent the batteaux along, for the years of Michigan's fur trade under the happy-go-lucky Frenchman was the period of greatest romance as well as greatest hardships. A time filled with hampering laws, but laws completly ignored by the picturesque courerus de bois who hunted the beaver with might and main.
In the currency of the trading post, "one beaver was worth one jug of brandy, four beaver worth eight pounds of powder, two beaver, one red blanket." Two words from the old currency survive as slang expressions in the speech of today: "doe" and "buck"---the latter a buckskin was the equivalent of one dollar.
The traders were divided into two classes: the coureurs de bois--the unlicensed, lawless trader, and the licensed trader who was more or less lawabiding.
After the abandonment of LaSalle's fort at the mouth of the St. Joseph there is no record of fur traders in St. Joseph river valley until about the close of the Revolutionary war, which from New Jersey came William Burnette, an independent trader, who located at the mouth of the river, but who covered the territory of the entire St. Joseph river valley. His success brought him into disfavor with the commandant at Michili-
ST. JOSEPH IN HOMESPUN PAGE 10
mackinac, who ordered him to report to the post. Burnette refused but, being threatened, agreed to try living at the post for a year. However, when he refused to stay longer than the year, he was sent to the guard house under arrest and then to Montreal to prison. When at last he was permitted to return to the St. Joseph valley, his property had been almost entirely confiscated by his clerks, and the other English traders had invaded his territory. But the quick witted Yankee wooed, won and married Princess Kakima, daughter of Headchief Amiquiba, two of whose children left indelible marks on the history of Michigan: Proncess Kakima, as the wife of Burnette, and her brother, Headchief Top-in-e-be, considered the greatest of Pottawatomie chieftains. He was the singer of all of the important treaties which granted cessions to the white people.
The old chronicles pictured the marriage of Burnette, the white fur trader, and his Indian princess. The ceremony performed by the Rev. Father La Vi Deaux, the Catholic missionary, with all the pomp and circunstance due so important an occasion. The marriage gave Burnette an influence among the Indians which no British trader could undermine, so for many years he remained unmolested, seldom leaving his home except to market his furs on an annual trip to Michilimackinac or Detroit.
Three of Burnette's old account books are on file in the Burton Collection, Detroit. Though figures are dull reading, it is most interesting to note the records for one year, of one trader's output from the St. Joseph river valley. For the year 1796-7, the old account books show the sale of "117 bever skins, 97 fishers, 1591 deer, 3127 doe, 5091 muskrats, 160 bears, 250 wolves, 1250 redskins, 215 cats, 280 foxes, 517 mink, 2899 bucks, 436 otter, 22,032 raccoons and 2680 "enfants du diable"--skunks."
Concerning William Burnett's family of seven children, but little is known except that James, the oldest son, succeeded to his father's business, having been given a white man's education at Detroit. Abraham Burnette became interpreter for Daniel McCoy, the founder of the mission. An amusing exploit of one of the sons--amusing for the reader--was of his bringing the wrath of the Indians upon himself for some youthful prank. They had bound him to be burned at the stake in the front yard of a trader named Godfroy. Mrs. Godfroy pertended to desire to take vengeance in her own hands, bought the boy for five gallons of whiskey and sent him in disguise to his people.
Concerning Princess Kakima, Burnett's Indian wife, to whom fell the task of training five sons, who on the father's side inherited a white man's viewpoint, and from their mother
INDIAN TREATIES, TRAILS AND TRADERS PAGE 11
an Indian's love of a wilderness life. Kakima, like her husband, must have been an unusual type, for from the evidence of her boys and of the chief men of her tribe, she was not only a princess and chief through inherited title but won an outstanding place through her influence toward their betterment. The place and time of her death are a mystery, though the old settlers' tradition places her burial place on an island in the St. Joseph river which, until the building of the Sturgis dam, was but a short distance above the covered bridge. The old island burial place is now many feet under water. It is said by old settlers that every year members of the tribe from across the Mississippi and from the far north quietly glided into the neighborhood of the burial place, left tributes of flowers or trinkets and as silently stole away.
The Burnettes were followed by many other fur traders in the St. Joseph valley but St. Joseph county records give few names: A. T. Hatch, near Appletree ford, Godfroy brothers, Pierre Navarre and Patrick Marantette are perhaps the most important.
The site of the Hatch trading post was located in 1920 by the Daughters of the American Revolution. It stood at the Ox-box, just across the river from the Pottawatomie reservation, on the Nottawa Seepe. Very little is known of Trader Hatch, except his marriage to an Indian woman, and that by his later marriage to a white woman, he has many descendants in the county.
The Cassoway and Gibson trading post on the St. Joseph "at the confluence of the rivers" was located by Dr. Blanche Moore Haines some years ago in LaSalle Park, Three Rivers. It was marked with a granite boulder by the Abiel Fellows Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution.
Of Pierre Navarre, little is known other than his association with Burnette in his later years and of his location near Mendon. Tradition claims him as a descendant of the royal family of old France.
The Downing's trading post, now near Ketcham's Corners, was in territorial times on the Ypsilanti branch of the territorial road. It was on land first located by Lindsey Warfield in 1831. Little is known of this post other than the records in the probate court at Centreville filed in the early thirties. An old invoice of goods on hand at the death of Downing, itemized articles for whose use we of the present day can only guess: "Indian knee hands, footing, bobbinet footing, wampum, sneath, 20 yards barraze, sticks of twist, lute string, etc."
The probate records give an interesting list of names from Downing's ledger: Morans--Wabega Ann, Isadore, Pierre, Nancy, Joseph, evidently the whole family. Then we find Shobi Sparep, Ship-she-Manowoe, Sheano as typical In-
INDIAN TREATIES, TRAILS AND TRADERS PAGE 12
dian names and as proof of residences in 1831: Selden Martin, P. and J. J. Godfrey, A. L. Hatch, Stephen Downing (a Revolutionary soldier and father of Rufus) and the names of the Lairds, Moutons, Engles, Dushames, Shellhouse and a long list of other interesting characters of the times. The fur trader, however, whose life thrills the imagination is the sage and diplomat of Nottawa Seepe, Patrick Marantette, who to the St. Joseph valley Indians was counselor and friend.
Patrick Marantette, "a scion of the House of Navarre," a native of Detroit, where he had been educated under Father Gabriel Richard, came to Godfroy Trading Post at Nottawasippi in 1833. He preempted a section of land whoch included the post and an Indian village.
In 1833 he assisted Governor Porter in paying off the Indians when their land was sold. His descendants still have the cloverleaf mahogany table on which were heaped the money and merchandise for the payment.
John S. Barry, writing to his friend Lucius Lyon, presents a picture of the reservation when Governor Porter "came out." Representative Barry speaks plainly of the unpopular Governor Porter and graphically portrays a scene on the Indian reservation: "During the payment, two weeks ago, on the Nottawasippi, Governor Porter made even uncommon bluster. He broke in the heads of whiskey barrels with a sledge and swaggered and bullied in a manner quite unbecoming to a governor. Every person on the grounds was disgusted and incensed with him. He found such a current against him that he was alarmed for his personal safety and, being a coward, as you know, on the last day came armed, Cap-a-pie, sword and pistols by his side. He said though he had beenin the land of the Hoosiers and even at White Pigeon, yet people of Nottawasippi were the worst he had ever met and vowed to return in the spring with troops. One poor Justice (Coffinberry) must make acknowledgments to him. His crime was selling ginger cake. The justice refused to apologize, saying he would not hold office under such a '--------scoundrel."
In 1832 Patrick Marantette, at the age of twenty-six, was employed by Peter and J. J. Godfroys, agents at the reservation at Nottawasippi. He succeeded Mons. Francheval Navarre and John B. Ducharm, who were in possession from 1831 until 1833. In 1836 the post was purchased by Mr. Marantette. When he came as Indian agent, there were 1,500 Indians on Gourdneck and Nottawa prairies. Mr. Marantette says that their leading men at the time were: Pequi-te-ke-sie, Swa-gah-maw, Swa-wah-quet, son of Peter Moran, and Pe-
INDIAN TREATIES, TRAILS AND TRADERS PAGE 13
ne-she, a celebrated orator, and She-pe-she-wah now, a great warrior--chief of the Pottawatomii, and Mac-caw-moot.
The trading post consisted of two buildings, one story in height, each 16X18 feet in dimensions, with a covered hall measuring 16X10 feet located between them, as a meeting place for the Indians. In the rear was a place for the reception of furs, about 30 feet in length. The Indians held some of their wildest festivities near the post on the banks of the St. Joseph.
In Mr. Marantett's first year he purchased 4,000 deer skins and gave in exchange for others furs over $16,000.
In his reminiscences published in the Michigan Pioneer and Historical collections, Mr. Marantette says:
"In the spring of each year, the red hunters of the forest and the trappers of the river, would set the grass of the marshes on fire, to cause the flight and appearance of game-deer, beaver, muskrat and otter-and the prairie would be a sea of flame. In the night time it was an awe-inspiring scene.
"Succeeding their fires, the month of May brought forth the sweet grass and Nature again again restored her bright carpet.
"The Indians had in their village thirty or forty huts made of poles laid up like loghouses with bark roofs and a hole cut through the center for the smoke to escape. These were their permanent residences, their temporary ones while on their hunting expeditions being bark tepees. They raised corn, potatoes, and beans in a small way, but did not harvest very heavy crops owing to their method of cultivation and the trespassing of their white neighbor's cattle. In the winter they went into the heavy timber for a better protection from the cold and to make maple sugar in the spring, which was very fine, packing it in mokucks', a kind of flat basket of fifty or sixty pounds weight. They were very fond of gay attire, red and blue being their favorite colors."
When asked concerning incidents which had happened during his occupancy of the post, Mr. Marantette told many interesting stories, among them of the death of old Quicet: "The aged chief was a member of one of the wildest tribes. He was jealous, gloomy and very fond of liquor; very envious of the leading chiefs of the more civilized bands, and sought their downfall.
"One day in December, 1833, the Indians were gradually gathering around the trading-post, to receive their annuity from the government. Sau-au-quette, a large, tall, manly looking chief, came riding across the prairie mounted on a splended horse. The chief was arrayed in half
ST. JOSEPH IN HOMESPUN PAGE 14
American uniform, with pistols, sword, epaulettes-presenting to his people a very martial appearance. He was received with enthusiasm and being somewhat 'set-up', commemced at once his harangue-boasting of the great sale he had made of the reservation-land owned by the Great Spirit, and that for two quarts of whiskey he would sell the same again should opportunity occur.
"Hardly had he ceased, when Quicet stepped up to him in a shrewd, cautious manner and seizing one of his pistols snapped it at Sau-au-kette. The priming being damp, it did not ignite and the life of Sau-au-kette, as by a miracle, was saved. The feud was over the sale of the reservation by an unauthorized chief.
"Quicet in the meantime disappeared, but eighteen months afterward Sau-au-kette and Quicet again met. The latter was slightly intoxicated. Sau-au-kette's squaw came into the post and bought a knife. In a few moments she retuned and announced: 'Killed Quicet.' The startled trader demanded 'What for?' 'Quicet poison my husband Sau-au-kette, I kill.' "
Marantette feared more trouble. He hastily sent a message to Mocco-gah-mant, the "Chief of Bears" and son of Quicet, to come and bury his father. "Life for life" is the Indian's custom, but Mr. Marantette saved the life of Suu-au-quette's squaw by paying the chief at his 'father's burial a horse, saddle, rifle and blankets, in all about $150.00.
"The nearest white neighbor to the post was Francois Mouton, a Frenchman. He was an elderly man, possessed of an excellent French education. He came to St. Joseph in 1831 with his wife and seven children. The daughter, Frances, became the wife of Patrick Marantette in 1836."
Mr. Marantette held several responsible positions under the government. He surveyed and assisted in platting a new town, planted orchards, fenced fields and in 1846 was elected a representative from St. Joseph county to the state legislature.
An unpublished letter, written by Mr. Marantette, concerning affairs after the sale of the reservation was a gift to the public records department of the Three Rivers library, for the use of St. Joseph county research workers. The letter was written to Lucius Lyon and was the gift of Mrs. James H. Campbell of Grand Rapids, an able investigator, who rejoiced in the preservation of Michigan's priceless historical material. The letter voices a plea for the payment by the government of a just claim for 'goods necessary for the welfare of the Indians.'
INDIAN TREATIES, TRAILS AND TRADERS
"I frequently relieved the Indiams' wants by giving them goods ....... furnished them with such articles as seemed indispensably necessary ..... My claim is different in many respects from others....I gave to them with the consent and approbation of government officers, assured that I would be speedily paid. I was instrumental in their peaceable embarkation. My house was the Indians' rendezvous." The letter vividly recalls the consequences of the treaty of 1833 when the Pottowatomies give up their lands and migrated to the west.
Victor H. Van Horn's interesting group of historical pictures on file at the library, includes one of Madame Patrick Marantette's room, with its huge fire place, its pictures and old furniture imported from France. Another picture is of the old account books which, as one reads them, induces a second look at the pictures in a quest of demijohns.
[top of page]