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American Fur Company Invoices 1821-1822

 

By The Editor - Reuben G. Thwaites

About the year 1855, the effects of the American Fur Company at Mackinaw were transferred to Ronald McLeod, he purchasing the company’s warehouse and office building.  The latter structure is now (1888) in use as a summer hotel: the warehouse “is but little used or quite deserted at times.”  In 1863, several large packing boxes, filled with the company’s books and papers, were opened by the holders of the real estate and “the contents variously used – for lighting fires and placing around cabbage plants when put in the ground, to protect them from the cut-worm.  Mrs. B. F. Felix, a Chicago lady, with antiquarian tastes, saved several volumes from the hands of vandals and presented them to the Chicago Historical Society.  In 1870, Mrs. Felix was again in Mackinaw and discovered that in the pantry of the McLeod home there were still left some volumes of accounts and letters, “the leaves of which were being used to line cake tins with.”  She again rescued several volumes, presenting all but three to the Chicago Historical Society. In the great fire of 1871, the Society’s collections were largely destroyed, and these books of the American Fur Company with them.  The only volumes now known to remain, of the lot first unboxed in 1863, are one volume of invoices in the possession of Mrs. Felix and two volumes of letters which are in the hands of a friend of that lady.*

The volume of invoices-marked: “Invoices Outward, A. F. Co. B.” was kindly loaned to me in October, 1887, by Mrs. Felix. It contains the outward invoices of the company from Michilimackinac (Mackinaw) during the years 1821 and 1822, and is chiefly interesting because giving the names and location of the traders having connection with the company, together with the nature of their relationship to the concern.  It lacks the first twenty six pages, but is otherwise in good condition.  The accounts are, for the most part, kept in both English and American currency, and with great neatness and exactness. Although the transactions recorded did not all effect Wisconsin traders, it is deemed advisable to present the entire list of trading posts referred to in the volume, with the names and locations of the traders, and classified as to their connection with the company.  A sample invoice is also presented, as showing the character of goods then entering into the Indian trade of the Northwest, and the prices extant.  The orthography is that of the MS. Volume.**

*Mrs. Felix is my authority for the above statements. She was of the opinion that volumes were in the library of the Western Reserve Historical Society, at Cleveland, Ohio, placed there by the late Alfred T. Goodman, secretary of that Society, but I am informed that none are now to be found in its archives.

**For a statement relative to the condition of the Indian trade west of Lake Michigan, in 1831, prices of goods and location of traders, consult Senate Docs., No. 90, 22d Cong., 1st sess., pp. 49, 50.

 

List Of Traders

JOINT ACCOUNT WITH THE AMERICAN FUR COMPANY

 FARNHAM, Russel – for the trade of the Lower Mississippi and its dependencies. At Michilimackinac, 10 August, 1821.

DECHEREAU[1], Joseph C. – for the trade of Penatangonshire[2] and its dependencies: Lake Huron Outfit, 1820, transferred to ac. Of Decheneau Outfit, 1821; for account of American Fur Company & Joseph C. Decheneau, 1 Aug. 1822

DECHENEAU’S Outfit – 1821: Sundry goods delivered at Michilimackinac at different times and forwarded to Drummond Island. 1 Aug. 1822

DECHENEAU’S Outfit – 1821: Merchandise delivered by Wm. W. Matthews at Drummond Island, to Joseph C. DECHENEAU, for trade at Penatangonshire. 1 August, 1822.

LAKE HURON OUTFIT – 1821: Merchandise delivered by Joseph C. DECHENEAU to Etienne LAMORANDIERE at Drummond Island, being a part of purchase from Mr. Joseph ROLETTE at Drummond Island. July 21, 1821.

LA PERCHE, Joseph and FARNHAM, Russell - for trade of the Lower Mississippi and its dependencies. Michilimackinac, July 27, 1822.

BUISSON, Louis – Merchandise for Illinois Outfit 1822. Account and risk of American Fur Company and Louis PENSONEAU, Senr. Michilimackinac, August 8, 1822.

 

ON THEIR OWN ACCOUNT AND RISK

CADOTTE, Michael, Senr.[3] – for his trade at La Pointe, Lake Superior. Michilimackinac, 23 July 1821.

GUERETTE, Joseph – for trade on Illinois River. Michilimackinac, 18 August, 1821.

BINETTE, BUISSON and BIBEAU, Messrs.  – for trade on the Illinois River and its dependencies. Michilimackinac, 18 August, 1821.

SCHINDLER, Therese – for her trade at and about Michilimackinac. Michilimackinac, 23 August, 1821.

GRIGNON, Augustin and LAWE, John – for account and risk of themselves and Jacques PORLIER, Senr., Pierre GRIGNON and Louis GRIGNON, all of Green Bay, for their trade there, &c. Michilimackinac, 3 September, 1821.

DESCHAMPS, Antoine – for the trade of Masquigon.[4]  Michilimackinac, 11 September, 1821.

ROLETTE, Joseph – Merchandise forwarded by Ramsey CROOKS, Agent of American Fur Company, from New York to Prairie du Chien. N. Y. Jany. 1822.

DESCHENAUX, Joseph C. – Merchandise delivered Laurent ROLETTE. Michilimackinac, 15 August, 1821.

ROLETTE, Joseph – Michilimackinac, 15 August, 1821.

PRIOR, Richard M. – Goods sold and delivered by William W. MATTHEWS, at Drummond Island. Michilimackinac, 5 September, 1821.

ROLETTE, Joseph – Merchandise delivered Laurent ROLETTE. Michilimackinac, Augt. 9, 1822.

PRIOR, R. M. – Sundry merchandise taken by R. M. PRIOR out of those left last summer (1821) by W. W. MATTHEWS. Michilimackinac, August 10, 1822.

FRAMOISE, Mrs.[5] – Sundry merchandise, from her inventory of Grand River Outfit, 1821, and delivered to her during the summer of 1822, for ac. of Rix ROBINSON. Michilimackinac, August 14, 1822.

BEAUBIEN, Jean Bt.[6] – for his trade at Milliwakie. Michilimackinac, August 14, 1822.

DINGLEY, Daniel – for the trade of Folleavoine,[7] South Lake Superior, 1822-3. Michilimackinac, July 30, 1822.

ROLETTE, Joseph – Michilimackinac, Aug. 9, 1822.

BIDDLE, Edward – Michilimackinac, August 15, 1822.

DESCHENEAUX, Joseph C. – Michilimackinac, June 28, 1822.

PICHET, Ignace – Michilimackinac June 28, 1822.

ROBINSON, Rix – for his trade on Lake Michigan[8] Michilimackinac, August 23, 1822.

CADOTTE, Michel, Senr. – Merchandise delivered in charge of William MORRISON.[9] Michilimackinac, July 23, 1822.

AITKIN, William A. – for his trade at Fond du Lac,[10] and its dependencies. Michilimackinac, July 24, 1822.

MITCHELL, Eliza and William – Michilimackinac, August 12, 1822.

BEAUBIEN, Jean Bt. and KINZIE, James[11] – Michilimackinac, August 14 1822.

GRIGNON, Pierre – LAWE, John – PORLIER, Jacques Senr. – GRIGNON, Augustin – GRIGNON, Louis, all of Green Bay, for their trade there, &c. Michilimackinac, August, 23, 1822.

GRIGNON, Pierre and Augustin – Michilimackinac, 23d August, 1822.

BAILLY, Joseph – Michilimackinac, August 28, 1822.

CAUNE, Pierre – Michilimackinac, August 31, 1822.

SCHINDLER, Therese – Michilimackinac, Septr. 8, 1822.

 

 FOR ACCOUNT OF THE AMERICAN FUR COMPANY

DAVIS, John Henry – For the trade of the Upper Wabash and its dependencies. Michilimackinac, 21 August, 1821.

KINZIE, James[12] - for the trade of Milliwaki and its dependencies. Shipped per Schooner Ann, Captn. RANSOM, from Michilimackinac to Chicago. Michilimackinac, 13 September, 1821.

PRIOR, Richard M. – Good delivered by William W. MATTHEWS at Drummond Island, August 10, 1821.

 

FOR ACCOUNT AND RISK OF THE AMERICAN FUR COMPANY.

GAUTHIER, Josette – for the trade on Lake Superior. Michilimackinac, 23 July 1821.

HOGLE, John F. and others – for the trade of Lac du Flambeau[13] and its dependencies. Michilimackinac, 21 July 1821.

CORBIN, Jean Bt. – for the trade of Lac Courtoreille[14] and it’s dependencies. Michilimackinac, 31 July 1821.

ROUSSAIN, Eustache – for the trade of Folleavoine and its dependencies. 31 July 1821.

WARNER, Goodrich – for the trade of Ance Quirvinan[15] and its dependencies. Michilimackinac, 15 August 1821.

ROLETTE, Joseph – for trade of the Upper Mississippi and its dependencies. Michilimackinac, 15 August 1821.

WALLACE, William H. – for the trade of the Lower Wabash and its dependencies. Michilimackinac, 22 August 1821.

BERTRAND, Joseph – for the trade of St. Joseph’s (of Lake Michigan) and its dependencies. Michilimackinac, 22 August 1821.

CLAIREMONT, Jeremie – for the trade of Iroquois River and its dependencies. Michilimackinac 22 August, 1821.

LaFRAMBOISE, Madeline – for the trade of Grand River and its dependencies. Michilimackinac 3 September 1821.

ROLETTE, Joseph – for the trade of the Upper Mississippi and its dependencies. 1822.

PENSONNEAU, Louis Senr. – for Illinois River Outfit. Michilimackinac Augt. 12, 1822.

WARREN, Truman A.[16] – for the trade of Lac du Flambeau, and its dependencies. Michilimackinac July 15, 1822.

MORRISON, William and others, for the trade of Fond du Lac and its dependencies. Michilimackinac July 20, 1822.

CORBIN, Jean Bt. – for the trade of Lac Courtoreille and it dependencies. Michilimackinac July 23, 1822.

HOLLIDAY, John – for the trade of Ance Quirvinan and its dependencies. Michilimackinac 26 July 1822.

WALLACE, William H. – for the trade of the Lower Wabash and its dependencies. Mackinac, Augt. 6, 1822.

DAVIS, John H. for the trade of the Upper Wabash and its dependencies. Michilimackinac August 7, 1822.

BERTRAND, Joseph and NAVARRE, Pierre – for the trade of St. Josephs and Kinkiki[17] and dependencies. Michilimackinac Augt. 7, 1822.

DESCHAMPS, Antoine and HUBBARD, Gurdon S. – for the trade of the Iroquois River[18] and its dependencies. Michilimackinac Augt. 9, 1822.

ABBOTT, James – Detroit, pr. Schooner Tiger, Blake, for Detroit Outfit. Michilimackinac Sept. 6, 1822.

MATTHEWS. W. W. – Goods to be sold in Montreal. Michilimackinac Sept. 5, 1822.

 

A SAMPLE INVOICE.

Omitted from this version.



[1] Spelled two different ways within document.  Decheneau and Dechereau. - PLH

[2] Penetanguishene, Ontario. Original Editor.

[3] Michael Cadotte’s trading post was at La Pointe, on the sourthwest shore of what is now called Madeline Island, in the Apostles group, off Chequamegon Bay.  In 1820, he was visited by Henry R. Schoolcraft. (Exped. To Sources of Miss. River, Phila., 1855, p. 105)  Cadotte then had his abode with the Chippewa band under chief Bezhike.  Schoolcraft, in his curiously distorted map of the Apostles archipelago, calls it the “Federation group,” and gives the name of “Virginia island” to the Madeline of today; the other islands are assigned to Indiana, Missouri, Delaware, Ohio, Texas, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Illinois, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, California, South Carolina, New York, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Oregon, Rhode Island, Kentucky, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, naming them northward from Chequamegon Bay, which is called “Bay of St. Charles: on Schoolcraft’s chart. In July, 1826, Thomas L. McKenney visited Cadotte’s post. (Tour to the Lakes, Baltimore, 1827, pp. 261-265.) McKenney calls the island “Michael’s,” probably in recognition of the trader’s Christian name, and says Cadotte had “lived here twenty five years,” and was the owner of a comfortable little farm. In Wis. Hist. Colls., v., p. 324, Cadotte is said to have “early founded settlement at La Pointe, and educated his sons at Montreal.”  Joseph Cadotte, probably one of the sons, is mentioned (Id., x., 142) as being a lieutenant in the British Indian department, during the war of 1812-15.  It appears (Id., viii., p. 224) that Madeline Island has at various times been known as Monegoinaic cauning, Woodpecker, Montreal, Middle and Cadotte’s. Original Editor.

[4] Muskegon, Mich. Original Editor.

[5] Madame Madeline la Framboise was a half breed Ottawa woman, whom her husband Francis, a brother of Alexander la Framboise, who had a trading post at Milwaukee as early as 1785, had taught to read and write. He was killed, writes Mrs. E. T. Baird, of Green Bay, in the winter of 1809-10, at his trading wigwam near the present site of Grand Haven, Michigan, and Indian shooting him dead while on his knees at prayer. Other accounts are to the effect that he was killed by Winnebagoes, while trading on the upper Wisconsin. His wife successfully prosecuted the fur trade after his death. She was a tall, commanding form, agreeable manners and excellent deportment; and highly esteemed by both whites and Indians. She was for many years in the company’s employ and “accustomed to visit the various trading posts, looking after the doings of clerks and employees. Her chief station, as agent of the American Fur Company, was at the site of Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she erected a trading hut, the first building in Kent County, and was on very friendly terms with the Ottawas and Ojibwas. She was, on account of her great age, superseded as agent for the company by Rix Robinson, in 1821. In 1876, traces of the La Framboise cabin were yet visible, being treasured by the people of Grand Rapids as the oldest historic relics in their midst. In the summer of 1817, at Mackinaw, her daughter Josette, a sinularly beautiful girl, became wife of Lieut. John S. Pierce, U.S.A., a brother of President Peirce. Mrs. J. S. Pierce died in 1821.  The late Col. G. S. Hubbard, of Chicago, declared Madame la Framboise to be “a woman of extraordinary ability.” Original Editor.

[6] The late Col. J. B. Beaubien, of Chicago, who had a trading post at Milwaukee as early as 1800. Original Editor.

[7] Rice Lake ? Original Editor.

[8] At Ada, Michigan, near Grand Rapids. Robinson had studied law in New York state, but came west to enter the fur trade. He was a remarkably powerful athlete. Original Editor.

[9] The company’s agent at L’Anse, Mich. He visited Itasca Lake, the source of the Mississippi, in 1804. (Neill’s Hist. Minnesota, ed. 1882, pp. 375, 376.)

[10] Of Lake Superior. Original Editor.

[11] A half brother of John H. Kinzie, a famous Chicago pioneer. Original Editor.

[12] See ante, p. 224, note 2. Original Editor.

[13] In Lincoln County, Wisconsin. James D. Doty reported to Governor Cass, September 27, 1820, that “In Lake du Flambeau the Southwest Company have an establishment of five traders and twenty hands, the return from which last season was about fifty packs. (Wis. Hist. Colls. vii., p. 203.) Original Editor.

[14] In Chippewa County, Wisconsin. Original Editor.

[15] L’Anse, Michigan upper peninsula: sometimes written “L’Anse Qui-wy-we-nong.” Original Editor.

[16] Warren, in 1832, was the chief trader at La Pointe, being the son in law of Michael Cadotte. (Neill’s Hist. Minnesota, ed. 1882, p. 404) Original Editor.

[17] Kankakee River. Original Editor.

[18] A branch of the Kankakee. Original Editor.

Relative records on this site: American Fur Company Employees 1818-1819

Extracted from: Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin Vol. XI pages 370-377
Edited and Annotated by Reuben G. Thwaites
Published: 1888 Madison Wisconsin

 



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