In compiling a history of "Cheboygan and Mackinac Counties," we have been obliged to refer to a work entitled "Old and New Mackinaw," published by Rev. J. A. Van Fleet, to which we are indebted for much valuable information. Our articles on general improvements, soil, timber, prospects for settlers, etc., will be very interesting to those who contemplate locating in this section. We have also prepared a map of Mackinac Island which will be valuable to all visiting the place, and to those interested in the proposed "National Park." The map is full and complete, showing the various points of interest, and will assist the reader in locating the places so prominent in their early history. We are indebted to our many patrons for the support they have given us, many of whom have displayed their business cards in our work, to which the attention of the public is respectfully invited.
On our first pages will be found more of a general history of the Northwest, and of the prominent characters who figured most conspicuously in the early days of our country than a history of Cheboygan and Mackinac Counties alone. The first pale-faces who ventured into the region stretching around the great lakes, were Jesuit missionaries. Of these, the first who claim a notice here are the Fathers Charles Raymbault and Isaac Jogues. In 1641, these two men visited the Chippewas at the Sault and established a mission among them, but Raymbault soon after fell a victim to consumption, and the enterprise was abandoned. Desperate Indian wars, which soon followed, prevented any further attempt to establish missions among the Indians around the lakes for nearly thirty years.
In the spring of 1668, the illustrious Father, James Marquette, was ordered to repair to the Ottawa mission, as that around Lake Superior was then called. Arriving at the Sault, he planted his cabin at the foot of the rapids, on the American side, and began his work. In the following year he was joined by Father Dablon, Superior of the Mission, and by their united exertions a church was soon built. This was the first permanent settlement made on the soil of Michigan.
During the same year, Marquette repaired to Lapointe, near the western extremity of Lake Superior, leaving Dablon to continue the mission at the Sault. When he arrived at his new field of labor, he found several Indian villages, one of which was composed of Hurons, who, several years before, had dwelt, for a short time, on Mackinac Island.
In 1670, Marquette came to Michilimackinac, and in the following year he established a mission and built a chapel of logs on Point Iroquois, on the north side of the Straits.
This primitive temple was as simple as the faith taught by the devoted missionary, and had nothing to impress the senses, nothing to win by a dazzling exterior the wayward children of the forest. The new mission was called St. Ignatius, in honor of the founder of the Jesuit order, and to this day the name is perpetuated in the point upon which the mission stood.
During the summer of 1671, an event occurred of no common interest and importance in the annals of French history in America, but which, after all, was not destined to exert any lasting influence. Mutual interest had long conspired to unite the Algonquins of the west and the French in confirmed friendship. The Algonquins desired commerce and protection; the French, while they coveted the rich furs which these tribes brought them, coveted also an extension of political power to the utmost limits of the western wilderness. Hence Nicholas Perrot had been commissioned as the agent of the French government, to call a general Congress of the lake tribes at the Falls of St. Mary. The invitations of this enthusiastic agent of the Bourbon dynasty reached the tribes of Lake Superior, and were carried even to the wandering hordes of the remotest north. Nor were the nations of the south neglected. Obtaining an escort of Potawatomies at Green Bay, Perrot, the first of Europeans to visit that place, repaired to the Miamis at Chicago, on the same mission of friendship.
In May, the day appointed for the unwonted spectacle of the Congress of Nations, arrived. St. Lusson was the French official, and Allouez his interpreter. From the head waters of the St. Lawrence, from the Mississippi, from the Great Lakes, and even from the Red River, envoys of the wild republicans of the wilderness were present. And brilliantly clad officers from the veteran armies of France, with here and there a Jesuit missionary, completed the vast assembly. A cross was set up, a cedar post marked with the French lilies, and the representatives of the wilderness tribes were informed that they were under the protection of the French king. Thus, in the presence of the ancient races of America, were the authority and the faith of France uplifted in the very heart of our Continent. But the Congress proved only an echo soon to die away, and left no abiding monument to mark its glory.
On the 17th of May, 1673, Marquette set out on his new labors in the west, which he completed in the spring of 1675 (having spent the preceding winter in Chicago,) set out on his return along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, and as he coasted along the eastern shore of the lake, his strength gradually failed, and he was at last so weak that he could no longer help himself, but had to be lifted in and out of his canoe when they landed each night. At last, perceiving the mouth of a river, he pointed to an eminence near by, and told his companions that it was the place of his last repose. They wished, however, to pass on, as the weather was fine and the day not far advanced, but a wind soon arose which compelled them to return and enter the river pointed out by the dying missionary. They carried him ashore, erected a little bark cabin, kindled a fire, and made him as comfortable as they could. Having heard the confessions of his companions, and encouraged them to rely with confidence on the protection of God, Marquette now sent them away, to take the repose they so much needed.
Two or three hours afterward he felt his end approaching, and summoned his companions to his side. Taking his crucific from around his neck, and placing it in their hands, he pronounced in a firm voice, his profession of faith, and thanked the Almighty for the favor of permitting him to die a Jesuit, a missionary, and alone. Then, his face all radiant with joy, and his eyes raised as if in ecstasy, above his crucifix, with the words "Jesus and Mary" upon his lips, he passed from the scene of his labors to his rest in heaven. After the first outbursts of grief were over, his companions arranged his body for burial, and, to the sound of his little chapel bell, bore it slowly to the spot which himself had designated, where they committed it to the earth, raising a large cross to mark his last resting place. This occurred on the 18th day of May, 1675, in the thirty-eighth year of his age.
Two years later, and almost on the anniversary of this event, a party of Indians whom Marquette had himself instructed at Lapointe, visited his grave, on their return from their winter hunting grounds, and resolved to disinter their good Father and bear his revered bones to the mission of St. Ignatius, at Mackinac, where they resided. They therefore opened the grave, and, according to custom, dissected the body, washing the bones and drying them in the sun. When this was done, a neat box of birch bark was prepared, into which the bones were placed, and the flotilla, now become a funeral convoy, proceeded on its way. Only the dip of the paddle and the sighs of the Indians broke the silence, as the funeral cortege advanced. When nearing Mackinac, the missionaries, accompanied by many of the Indians of the place, went to meet them, and there, upon the waters, rose the "De Profundis," which continued till the coffined remains of the good Father reached the land. With the usual ceremonies, his bones were then borne to the church, where, beneath a pall stretched as if over a coffin, they remained during the day, when they were deposited in a little vault in the middle of the church, "where," says the chronicler, he still reposes aa the guardian angel of our Ottawa mission." Thus did Marquette accomplish, in death, the voyage which life had not enabled him to terminate.
In the life of this humble and unpretending missionary and explorer there is much to admire. Though an heir to wealth and position in his native land, he voluntarily separated himself from his friends, and chose a life ot sacrifice, toil, and death, that he might ameliorate the moral and spiritual condition of nations sunk in paganism and vice. His disposition was cheerful under all circumstances. His rare qualities of mind and heart secured for him the esteem of all who knew him. He was a man of sound sense and close observation, not disposed to exaggerate, not egotistical. His motives were pure and his efforts earnest. His intellectual abilities must have been of no ordinary type; his letters show him to have been a man of education, and though but nine years a missionary among the Indians, he spoke six languages with ease, and understood less perfectly many others.
"He died young, but there are silvered heads,
Whose race of duty is less nobly run."
France and England being rivals in the Old World, could not be partners of the New. Had these two powers been satisfied to divide the American continent amicably between them, the history of Columbia would have been far different from what it is now. But when they crossed the Atlantic, they brought with them their hereditary enmity, and this enmity was strengthened by new issues which were constantly arising. Each desired undivided dominion over the North and West, and at times the struggle for supremacy was desperate.
The Indians around the lakes were, almost without exception, friendly to the French, while the "Five Nations," dwelling south and east from Lake Ontario, sided with the English.
As early as 1686, English adventurers, in quest of the rich furs of the Northwest, pushed up the lakes to Mackinac, but the French, unwilling that any portion of the Indian trade should pass into the hands of their enemies, made their visits to this region too hazardous to be oft repeated.
The heart sickens in contemplating this portion of our country's history. Many a spot was stained with the blood of its unfortunate inhabitants. The forests were often lighted up with the conflagration of burning villages, and the stillness of the midnight hour was frequently broken by the shrill warwhoop, mingled with the shrieks of helpless women under the tomahawk or scalping-knife. And these tragic scenes were too often prompted by French or English thirst for power.
But finally, after many years, during which, with only short intervals of peace, these scenes of blood had frequent repetitions; the British government determined to make a powerful effort to dispossess the French colonies of this territory. Military operations, however, were at first unfavorable to the English cause. Many a red column of well trained and well armed regulars wavered before the rifles of the combined French and Indians, who fought concealed in thickets, or from behind a breastwork of fallen trees. But in 1759, victory turned on the side of the English, and the question was brought to a speedy and decisive issue. An English army, under the command of Brigadier-General Wolf succeeded, during the night of September 12th, in gaining the Heights of Abraham, at Quebec, where, upon the following day, was gained one of the most momentous victories in the annals of history, a victory which gave to the English tongue and the institutions of a Protestant Christianity the seemingly unexplored North and West.
Though this victory was gained in September, of 1759, it was not until September of 1760 that a final surrender of Canada, with all the French posts around the lakes, was made to the English, and not till September of 1761 that possession was taken of Mackinac by English troops.
What the English had gained by force of arms they took possession of as conquerors, and, in their eagerness to supplant the French, they were blind to danger. Some of these posts were garrisoned by less than a score of men, and often left dependent upon the Indians for supplies, though they were so widely remote from each other that, "lost in the boundless woods, they could no more be discovered than a little fleet of canoes scattered over the whole Atlantic, too minute to be perceptible, and safe only in fair weather." But, weak as were the English, their presence alarmed the red man, for it implied a design to occupy the coun try which, for ages, had been his own, and the transfer of the territory around the Great Lakes from the French, who were the friends of the Indians, to the English, upon whom they had been taught to look with distrust, could not, therefore, be regarded with favor by these tawny sons of the woods. They were taught to lay aside everything which they had received from the white man, and so strengthen and purify their natures as to make themselves acceptable to the Great Spirit, and by so doing they would soon be restored to their ancient greatness and power, and be enabled to drive the enemy from their country. The prophet had many followers. From far and near large numbers came to listen to his exhortations, and his words, pregnant with mischief to the unsuspecting Englishman, were borne even to the nations around the northern lakes.
It was the first of the great Pontiac conspiracy which aroused the nations throughout all the forests in the land and whose bloody deeds are recorded on the pages of historic events of the Northwest.
The massacre at Fort Mackinac is too familiar with all who have read the history of our State to require a repetition of that terrible butchery, the details of which are so long that we have not the space to give it. Mr. Alexander Henry, the trader who made his escape gave the full particulars of the affair and the awful scenes that followed. The efforts of the Indians were however unsuccessful and peace was, after many years restored. Pontiac having died, no other efforts were made to drive the English from the country.
|LOCALITY||Jan||Feb||Mar||Apr||May||Jun||Jul||Aug||Sep||Oct||Nov||Dec||.||Yrly Avg||Lowest Extremes||Highest during
|No of Years|
|Mackinac Island, Mich||19||18||26||37||48||57||65||64||55||45||34||23||.||41||23||90||24|
|Albany, N. Y.||24||25||35||47||60||68||72||70||61||49||39||28||.||49||23||99||28|
|St. Paul, Minn.||14||18||31||46||59||68||73||76||59||47||32||17||.||45||37||100||35|
|St. Louis, Mo.||33||35||44||58||66||74||79||77||69||55||41||34||.||55||25||108||23|
*Climatology of United States, by Lorin Blodget: 1857.
By the preceding table it will be seen that the extremes of heat and cold are not only not as great in Mackinac as in other places east and west on the same parallel, but even in places much farther south. At Montreal, during the time embraced in the table, the mercury has been as low as 36 degrees below zero, and as high as 102 above. At St. Paul, on nearly the same parallel, the greatest degree of cold designated is 37 degrees below zero, and of heat, 100 above. At St. Louis, hundreds of miles farther south, the table shows that the mercury has been as low as 25 degrees below zero, and as high as 108 above. By looking at the figures opposite Mackinaw, it will be seen that 23 degrees below zero, is the lowest, and 90 above the highest mark of the mercury. During the past few years the mercury has but once been as low as 19 degrees below zero. This was during the winter of 1867 and 1868. During the winter of 1868 and 1869, 16 degrees below zero was the coldest. During the past winter 13 degrees below occurred but once.
Cheboygan County Data excluded
Looking now to the commercial and industrial development of that region, we find still more extraordinary results. Attached to the State of Michigan is the peninsula, which is inclosed between the Straits of Mackinaw, Lake Michigan, and Lake Superior. For two centuries after the settlement of New England and New York, the wild, unfrequented, unknown shores of Lake Superior were unsuspected of any other capacity for production than those of the forest and the lake. It is only since 1846 that its immense beds of iron and copper were discovered, and only within the last ten years that that region has exhibited a wealth of mineral production which the world can scarcely parallel on an equal space. No sooner were the facts known than copper companies (and since iron companies) began to be formed with the celerity and energy of an excited speculation. Capital was found in the great cities ready to be invested in such enterprises, laborers flocked thither, mines were opened, and now we have immense bodies of copper annually transported to Boston, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and other places to be smelted. In 1858 the copper ore exported from points in the Peninsula was six thousand tons, which yielded four thousand tons of pure copper, worth two millions of dollars. When we consider that this is one-third the amount of copper produced by Great Britain, and one-seventh of the whole amount produced out of America, we can understand the value of these mines, which have scarcely been opened ten years.
In the same region, and above the Sault of St. Mary, are iron mines equally extraordinary. The United States has in various sections immense deposits of iron. But in all the basins of the lakes there is nothing comparable to this. In the vicinity of Marquette, a flourishing port of Lake Superior, iron hills rise from six to seven hundred feet in height, which are a solid mass of iron ore. When smelted in the furnace they yield more than half in pure iron of a superior quality, which is in demand at all the manufacturing towns of the east.
In the meanwhile the resources of the country which were obvious to the eye, were naturally sought and developed by a different class of persons. The fisheries yielded the finest fish in exhaustless quantities, and from Sandusky Bay, in Ohio, to Superior City, in the wild northwest, the lake salmon and the Mackinac trout are transported, like the oysters of the Atlantic, to gratify the epicurean palate in town and city. These fisheries have now risen to great importance. They are supposed to exceed in product the whole of the other fresh water fisheries in the United States At this time about one hundred thousand barrels of fish are freighted and the annual value of the fisheries amounts to a million of dollars.
No sooner had civilization penetrated the wilderness of Lake Superior than another product came into immediate demand. Far as the eye could cast its searching glance, or the traveler penetrate the dark forests of Michigan, of Wisconsin, or of Canada, there rose the tall, slim trunks, and deep green foliage of the pine. Here was material in which the people south and west were deficient. The pines of the Alleghany and the Susquehanna begin to diminish. Their stock will soon be gone, while here stretched away hundreds and thousands of miles of pine forest. Nearly all of which yet remain untouched.
Ferris, in his "States and Territories of the Great West," makes the following mention of the straits: "If one were to point out on the map of North America a site for a great central city in the lake region, it would be in the immediate vicinity of THE STRAITS OF MICHILIMACKINAC. A city so located would have the command of the mineral trade, the fisheries, the furs, and the lumber of the entire North. It might become the metropolis of a great commercial empire. It would be called the Venice of the lakes." In 1853 Mr. Edgar Conkling, then of Cincinnati, with something of the same appreciation of this point, secured a large tract of land on the south side of the straits. In 1857-58 he surveyed the city site but the financial revulsion at that time and the war which soon followed prevented further operations until the present.
That the public attention is already turning this way is too evident to need proof. The "Northern Pacific" is no longer a mooted question, but is actually in process of construction, with a fair prospect of making the Straits its eastern terminus, while several roads from the more southern cities of this and other States are even now hastening towards Mackinaw to claim a share of the spoils. The day is not far in the future when Mackinaw will be a railroad center, as it is by nature a commercial center, and these roads will all lay their laurels at the feet of the new city and rising vicinity.
The Jackson, Lansing and Saginaw, and the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroads, now nearly completed to this point, with the contemplated line northwestward from the north side of the Straits through the heart of the Northern Peninsula, opening up the immense iron and copper mines and pine forests, which will unquestionably be built in a very short time, thus forming a direct line via the Straits, will again add life and vigor to the old city of Mackinaw that has so long laid dormant on her beautiful and important site.
The following is the Mackinaw and Marquette railroad law recently passed:
An act to authorize and empower the Board of Control of State Swamp Lands to make an appropriation of State swamp lands, to aid in the construction of a railroad from the Straits of Mackinaw to Marquette Harbor, on Lake Superior.
Section 1. The people of the State of Michigan enact, That to secure the early construction of a railroad from the Straits of Mackinaw to Marquette Harbor, on Lake Superior, and for the purposes of drainage and reclamation, the Board of Control of State Swamp Lands are authorized and empowered, if by them deemed expedient and to the best interests of the State and to the section of country to be penetrated by said railroad, to appropriate not to exceed ten sections of State swamp lands per mile to any railroad company that shall construct and complete such railroad in running order, on or before December 31st, 1875.
Sec. 2. To further the construction of said railroad, and for the better protection of the interests of the State, the Board of Control, as aforesaid, shall have full power and authority over said lands, the reservations necessary, and the limitations and privileges requisite in the application of such lands to such purpose: Provided, Said lands shall be selected from the vacant and unreserved State swamp lands in the Counties of Mackinaw, Chippewa, Schoolcraft, and not to exceed one hundred sections in the County of Marquette: And Provided, There shall be no extension of the time for the completion of said railroad beyond the date named in this act: And provided, further, That said appropriated lands shall become taxable as soon and as fast as they are earned by the company constructing said railroad.
Sec. 3. It shall be the duty of said Board of control to give thirty days' public notice of the letting of the contract for the construction of said railroad under the provisions of this act, and if upon the day named in such notice, which shall be on or before the first day of July, 1873, two or more responsible railroad companies shall compete for the construction of said railroad, the Board may, if they shall deem it for the interests of the State, contract with that responsible company which will center into bonds to the State of Michigan satisfactory to said Board of Control, conditioned for the completion of said railroad for the least number of acres of said lands.
It is expected that a company will be organized and the work commenced on this line this season and, the road will no doubt be completed by the time mentioned above.
Cheboygan County Data excluded
Is bounded on the north by Chippewa County, on the west by Schoolcraft County, on the south by the head of Lake Michigan, Lake Huron and the Straits of Mackinac. The Islands included in this county are as follows: Mackinac Island, Round Island, Bois Blanc Island, Marquette Island and the St. Martin's Islands. Mackinac Island being the County Seat. But little has been known or said of the county outside of the Island of Mackinac, and but little improvements made up to the present time.
In the winter of 1872 and 1873, the firm of W. H. Bunker & Co. built a saw mill on the north shore, some fourteen miles north and east from Mackinac Island, capacity, 10,000,000 feet, run one gang and one circular.
The gentlemen comprising the firm are enterprising business men and the first to build a saw mill in Mackinac County.
A beautiful Island, located at the Straits, long known as being the most picturesque of any in the lakes. Here we see nature in all its grandeur.
The wonderful curiosities which abound here alone repays one for the travel of a thousand miles.
In addition to the town and fortress, the Arched Rock, Lovers Leap, Sugar Loaf Rock, Devil's Kitchen, Robinson's Folly and Pontiac's Lookout, are objects well worthy of the attention of tourists and pleasure seekers.
The shady walks and drives afford a source of continued recreation, while the rippling waves invite the spectator involuntarily to sail on their gently heaving bosom or bathe in their cool embrace.
This island appears to have been designed by a bountiful Providence for the comfort and pleasure of the people, and it only remains for them to extend to it that support to which its pure air, delightful climate and favorable situation entitle it, to make it the Saratoga or Newport of the West. It certainly seems beyond comprehension that the citizens of the hundreds of cities of our great Republic should pass by this favorable resort to groan and swelter amongst petrolia and shoddy, at Saratoga, Newport, and Cape May.
Heretofore the means of getting to Mackinac have been but imperfectly known to the public, but this should be so no longer, as there are four first-class line of steamers (some 26 in all) plying regularly between Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, Buffalo and Lake Superior, stopping here each way with freight and passengers during the usual "heated term."
This island, as far back as we have any account of it, has been a place of great interest. It received its original name from the Indians. An old legend relates that a large number of these people were once assembled at Point St. Ignace and, while intently gazing at the rising of the sun, during the Great Manitou, or February Moon, they beheld the island suddenly rise up from the water, assuming its present form. From the point of observation, it bore a fancied resemblance to the back of a hugh[sic] turtle, hence they gave it the name Moe-che-ne-mock-e-nung, which means a great turtle. This name when put into a French dress, became Michilimackinac. From the island it passed to the adjacent points. In some connections in the early history, the name is applied to the section as a whole; in others, to the point north of the Straits; but more frequently, to that south of the Straits now known as Old Mackinaw. The term is now obsolete, except as applied to the county which lies immediately north of the Straits in which the island is included. The island has now taken upon itself the name of Mackinac.
Indian mythology makes this island the home of the Giant Fairies, hence the Indians have always regarded it with a species of veneration. The day is still within the memory of many individuals now living on the island when the heathen Indians, in passing to and fro by its shores, made offerings of tobacco and other articles to these Great Spirits to propitiate their good will. These fairies, we are told, had a subterranean abode under the island, the entrance to which was near the base of the hill, just below the present southern gate of the fort. An old Indian, Chees-a-kee or Spiritualist, who once encamped within the limits of the present garrison, is related to have visited this abode of the fairies under the following circumstances: During the night, while wrapped in the unconsciousness of a sound slumber, one of these spirits approached the place where he was, laid his shadowy hand upon him and beckoned him to follow. In obedience to the mysterious request, his spirit left the body and went with the fairy. Together they entered into the mystic dwelling-place of the spirits. Here the Cheesakee was introduced to the Great Spirits assembled in solemn conclave. He was lost in wonder and admiration at what he saw around him. The place where they were assembled seemed to be a very large and beautiful wigwam. Alter spending some time in the fairy abode, the master spirit of the assembly directed one of the lesser spirits to show the Indian out and conduct him back to his body. What were the proceedings of that assembly, the Indian could not be induced to tell, nor were the particulars of what he saw during that mysterious visit ever made known to the red men. From their fairy abodes, these spirits issued forth at the twilight hour to engage "with rapid step and giddy whirl in their mystic dance."
Something of the feeling of veneration which the red men had for this, to them, enchanted island may be learned from the following soliloquy of an old Indian chief. He was just leaving the island to visit his friends to the Lake Superior country. The shades of night were falling around him and the deep blue outlines of the island were dimly shadowed forth. As he sat upon the deck of the steamer and watched the "lovely isle" fast receding from his view, memory was busy in recalling the scenes of by-gone days and the emotions of his heart found expression in these words.
"Mock-che-ne-mock-e-nung, thou isle of the clear, deep-water lake, how soothing it is, from amidst the curling smoke of my opaw-gun (pipe) to trace thy deep blue outlines in the distance; to call from memory's tablets the traditions and storits connected with thy sacred and mystic character. How sacred the regard with which thou hast been once clothed by our indian seers of by-gone days. How pleasant in imagination for the mind to picture and view, as if now present, the time when the Great Spirit allowed a peaceful stillnesss to dwell around thee, when only light and balmy winds were permitted to pass over thee, hardly ruffling the mirror surface of the waters that surrounded thee; or to hear by evening twilight, the sound of the Giant Fairies as they, with rapid step and giddy whirl, dance their mystic dance on thy limestone battlements. Nothing then disturbed thy quiet and deep solitude but the chippering of birds and the rustling of the leaves of the silver-barked birch." But these fairy spirits have long since deserted their island home and gone we know not where, and the race of beings in whose imagination they lived has also well nigh passed away.
From Father Marquette's description of the island we learn that it was often the chosen home of the savage tribes. Marquette was doubtless the first white man to visit it, or at least to dwell upon it. The first permanent white settlement on this island was made in 1780, when the fort and town were removed to this point, not because of its superiority in a commercial or military point of view, but for the security which it afforded against the surrounding Indian tribes. Had that one eyent of June 4th, 1763, never occurred, this island would no doubt have still been in the hands of nature, and the fort and town at "Old Mackinaw," where they properly belong.
Contrary to the treaty of 1773, the English held possession of the island until 1795, when they were compelled to give it up. The size and population of the town has varied at different stages of its history. In 1820 it consisted "of about one hundred and fifty houses and some four hundred and fifty permanent inhabitants." At that time there was no school, no religious services, no attorney, and no physician (other than at the garrison) in the place. There were, however, courts of law, a post office, a jail, and one or more justices of the peace. At present, there are about eight hundred inhabitants, many of whom are engaged in fishing, and absent during a greater part of the summer.
The most interesting feature of the island since the war of 1812 has been its connection with the fur trade carried on by John Jacob Astor of New York. Previous to 1809 an association of traders existed, called the Mackinac Company, but at that date Mr. Astor organized the American Fur Company. Two years alter this he bought out the Mackinac Company and established a new company known as the South-West. During the winter of 1815 and 1816 Congress enacted a law that no foreigner should engage in trade with the Indians who did not become a citizen, and after this Mr. Astor again established the American Company which organized with a capital of two million dollars. It had no chartered right to a monopoly of the Indian trade, yet by its wealth and influence it virtually controlled that trade through a long series of years. The outposts of the company were scattered throughout the whole West and Northwest. This island was the great central mart. The goods were brought to the company's storehouses from New York by way of the lakes, and from Quebec and Montreal by way of the Ottawa, Lake Nipissing and French River, and from this point they were distributed to all the outposts, while from all the Indian countries the furs were annually brought down to the island by the company's agents whence they were sent to Now York, Quebec, or the various markets of the Old World. The traders and their clerks who went into the countries were employed by the company at a salary of from four to six hundred dollars per year, but the engagees or boatmen who were engaged in Canada, generally for five years, received, besides a yearly supply of a few coarse articles of clothing, less than one hundred dollars per annum. Generally, at the end of five years, the poor voyageurs were in debt from fifty to one hundred and fifty dollars, which they must pay before they could leave the country; and the trader often took advantage of this, even encouraging the men to get in debt, that they might avoid the necessity of introducing new and inexperienced men into the country. The men were fed mainly on soup made of hulled corn or sometimes of peas, with barely tallow enough to season it, and without salt, unless they purchased it themselves at a high price. The goods were put up in bales or packs of about eighty pounds each, to be carried into the countries. Upon setting out, a certain number of these packs were assigned to each boatman, which he must carry upon his back across the portages, some of which were fifty miles over. They performed the journeys over these portages by short stages, or by carrying the packs but a short distance at a time, thus never permitting their goods to be separated. The route of travel to the head waters of the Mississippi was by way of Lake Huron, St Mary's River, Lake Superior, and such rivers as would take them nearest the particular points to which the various parties had been assigned. The valleys of the Mississippi and the Missouri were reached by way of Green Bay, Fox and Wisconsin rivers. The traders often occupied nearly the whole summer in the trip from their trading posts to Mackinac and back.
Mr. Astor's principal agent on this island was Ramsey Crooks, to whom, with others, he sold out in 1834; but the trade now lacked the energy and controlling influence which Mr. Astor had given it, and the company soon became involved. In 1848 the bnsiness was closed and the property sold.
At the extreme end of the town is the mission property, now in possession of Mr. E. A. Franks, the house being kept by him as a hotel. The history of this mission is briefly as follows: In the month of June, in the year 1820, the Rev. Dr. Morse, father of the inventor of the telegraph visited this island and preached the first Protestant sermon ever delivered in the Northwest Becoming particularly interested in the condition of the traders and natives, he made a report of his visit to the United Foreign Mission Society of New York, in consequence of which the Rev. W. M. Ferry, a graduate of Union College, was sent in 1822 to explore the field. In 1823 Mr. Ferry, with his wife, opened a school for Indian children, which, before the close of the year, contained twelve scholars. In 1826 the school and little church passed into the hands of the American Board of Commissioners for the Indians on the Lakes and Upper Mississippi. In 1834 Mr. Ferry was released from the mission, and in 1837, the population having so changed around Mackinac, and the resort of the Indians to the Islands for purposes of trade having so nearly ceased that it was no longer an advantageous site for an Indian mission, the enterprise was abandoned.
The mission house was erected in 1825, and the church in 1828-30. After the close of the mission the property passed into the hands of the present occupant. We cannot say how much or how little was accomplished by this mission; the revelations of eternity alone will give full and reliable information on this point. We only know that many who would otherwise have been left in ignorance and heathenism are indebted to the Christian efforts of these missionaries for a knowledge both of the arts and sciences, and of the way of salvation.
The mission house is at present one of the largest and best hotels in Mackinac. Mr. E. A. Franks, the present proprietor, is a genial landlord, and always looks well after the wants of his guests. In justice to the landlady we cannot close this article on the Mission House without paying her a compliment she so justly deserves; we know that Mrs. Franks will provide well for her guests, and make all around her feel cheerful and at home.
We may now proceed to visit the various places of interest. Starting from Fort Mackinac, let us follow the foot-path along the brow of the bluff overlooking the eastern part of the town. If fond of natural scenery, we shall be delighted with the grand panorama of nature, the successive scenes of which will be presented to us as we proceed. Half or three-quarters of a mile from the Fort, at the south-eastern angle of the Island, is the overhanging cliff known as "Robinson's Folly." The following is the interesting history of this point: After the removal of the fort to the Island in 1780, Captain Robinson, who then commanded the post, had a summer-house built upon this cliff. This soon became a place of frequent resort for himself and his brother officers. Pipes, cigars and wine were called into requisition, for at the time no hospitality or entertainment was complete without them, and thus many an hour that would have been lonely and tedious, passed pleasantly away. After a few years, however, by the action of the elements, a portion of this cliff, with the summer-house, was precipitated to the base of the rocks, which disastrous event gave rise to the name. Around the beach below is a confused mass of debris, the remains, doubtless, of the fall.
A little to the north of Robinson's Folly may be seen an immense rock stand out boldly from the mountain's side, near the base of which is a very beautiful little arch of the "Arch of the Giant's Stairway." This arch is well worth the trouble of a visit.
A walk along the beach northward from this point is somewhat difficult, on account of the large portions of the cliffs which have in places been precipitated to the water's edge, but a good foot-path along the brow of the bluff brings us, with only a few minute's walk, to the famed "Arch Rock." This is one of Nature's which must be seen to be appreciated. Words cannot fully describe it in all its grandeur. It is a magnificent natural arch spanning a chasm of eighty or ninety feet in height, and forty or fifty in width. The summit of this rock is one hundred and forty-nine feet above the level of the lake. Its abutments are composed of calcareous rock, and the opening underneath the arch has been produced by the falling down of the great masses of rock now to be seen on the beach below. A path to the right leads to the brink of the arch, whence the visitor, if sufficiently reckless, may pass to its summit, which is about three feet in width. Here we see twigs of cedar growing out of what appears to be solid rock, while in the rear and on either hand the lofty eminence is clothed with trees and shrubbery—maple, birch, poplar, cedar and balsam—giving to the landscape richness and variety; before us are the majestic waters of Lake Huron, dotted in the distance with islands. We may now descend through the great chasm, "arched by the hand of God," and at the base of the projecting angle of the main rock find a second arch, less magnificent, but no less curious and wonderful. Passing under this, we soon reach the beach below, whence the view is particularly grand and imposing. The mighty arch seems suspended in mid-air above us, and as we gaze upon it, lost in wonder and admiration, we exclaim with the Psalmist, "Lord, what is man that Thou takest knowledge of him, or the son of man that Thou makest account of him!" Foster and Whitney say of this rock: "The portion supporting the arch on the north side, and the curve of the arch itself, are comparatively fragile, and cannot for a long period resist the action of rains and frosts, which in this latitude, and on a rock thus constituted, produce great ravages every season. The arch which now connects this abutment with the main cliff, will soon be destroyed as well as the abutment itself, and the whole precipitated into the lake."
The following parody on a popular song was found written on a stone near the base of Arch Rock, about five years since:
"Beauteous Isle! I sing of thee,
Mackinac, my Mackinac, Thy lake-bound shores I love to see,
Mackinac, my Mackinac. From Arch Rock's height and shelving steep
To western cliffs and Lover's Leap, Where memories of the lost one sleep,
Mackinac, my Mackinac.
"Thy Northern shore trod British foe,
Mackinac, my Mackinac; That day saw gallant Holmes laid low,
Mackinac, my Mackinac; Now Freedom's flag above thee waves,
And guards the rest of fallen braves, Their requiem sung by Huron's waves,
Mackinac, my Mackinac."
Taking the road which leads into the interior of the island, we soon find ourselves at the "Sugar Loaf Rock." This rock is about one hundred and fifty yards from the foot of the high ridge, upon the south east extremity of which stands Fort Holmes. The plateau upon which it stands is about one hundred and eighty-four feet above the lake giving an elevation of 134 feet to the rock itself. The composition of this rock is the same as that of Arch Rock. Its shape is conical, and from its crevices grow a few vines and cedars. It is cavernous and somewhat crystaline, with its strata distorted in every conceivable direction. In the north side is an opening, sufficient in its dimensions to admit several individuals. Here one might find shelter from the most violent storm. Within this opening, upon the smooth surfaces of the rock, may be found the autographs of hundreds of eager aspirants after immortality. As we take refuge in this rock we are reminded of the Rock of Ages, and led to sing, with the poet,
"Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hid myself in thee."
As we approach this rock along the road, the effect is grand and imposing. The patriarch of the ages, it lifts its hoary head high up towards heaven in utter defiance of the fury of the elements. The view is also very fine from the top of the ridge whence by its isolated position and bold form, it strikes the beholder with wonder and admiration.
Let us now return to the fort, whence we started, and again start out in a different direction. Half a mile to the rear of Fort Mackinac, and only a few yards to the right of the road that leads to Early's farm, is " Skull Cave," noted as the place where Alexander Henry was secreted by the Chippewa chief Wawatam, after the horrid massacre of the British garrison at Old Mackinaw. The entrance to this cave is at present low and narrow, and promises little to reward the labors of exploration.
Two miles west of the village and fort is Early's (formerly Michael Dousman's) farm. This farm consists of a section of land, and produces annually large quantities of hay and vegetables of the best quality. Near the house now occupied by Mr. Early is that relic of 1812, the old Dousman house, across the road from which is the battle ground hallowed by the blood of the lamented Holmes and others. After the battle such fragments of the slain as had been left on the field by the Indians were gathered up and buried near the east end of the little mound or ridge on the opposite side of the field from the road.
Following the road leading through this farm, we soon arrived at the "British Landing, so named from the fact that Captain Roberts, with his mixed command of English, French and Indians here disembarked his forces to take the place in 1813. It is also noted as the point where the American troops under Col. Groghan effected a landing, under cover of the guns of the American squadron, on the eventful fourth of August 1814, as already described.
Near the north western point of the island is Scott's or Flinn's Cave. To find this we turn to the right a few rods this side of British Landing, and follow an unfrequented trail through the woods. This cave is underneath one of the hnge rocks peculiar to Mackinac. Its entrance is extremely low, but when once inside the Goliath might stand erect. Those intending to visit this cave should provide themselves with a lamp or candle, as but an occasional ray of sunlight can penetrate its hidden chamber.
Our next tramp will be around the high bluffs which bound the south-western side of the island. Leaving the town at its western extremity, we may follow the foot path around those bluffs, or continue along the beach close to the waters edge. About a mile from the village, as we pursue the latter course, is the "Devil's Kitchen," a cavernous rock, curious, both in its formation and in its name. Near it is a spring of clear, cold water shaded by evergreens and other trees.
A few yards further on is the famous "Lover's Leap." This rock stands out boldly from the side of the cliff, and in appearance is similar to the Sugar Loaf Rock. There are other points on the island to which romantic visitors have applied this name but traditions has bestowed the title only on this. William M. Johnson, Esq., formerly a resident of this village, gives us the following legend concerning it:
"The huge rock called the "Lover's Leap" is situated about one mile west of the village of Mackinac. It is a high perpendicular bluff, one hundred and fifty to two hundred feet in height, rising boldly from the shore of the lake. A solitary pine tree formerly stood upon its brow, which some vandal has cut down.
"Long before the pale faces profaned this island home of the genii, Me-che-ne-mock-e-nung-o-qua, a young Ojibwa girl, just maturing into womanhood, often wandered there, and gazed from its dizzy heights and witnessed the receding canoes of the large war-parties of the combined bands of the Ojibwas and Ottawas speeding south for fame and scalps.
"From this bluff she often watched and listened for the return of the war parties, for amongst them she knew was Ge-niw-e-gwon, his head decorated with war-eagle plumes, which none but a brave could sport. The west wind often wafted far in advance the shouts of victory and death, as they shouted and sang upon leaving Pe-quod-e-nong (Old Mackinaw), to make the traverse to the Spirit of Fairy Island.
"One season, when the war party returned, she could not distinguish his familiar and loved war-shout. Her spirit told her that he had gone to the spirit land of the west. It was so; an enemy's arrow had pierced his breast, and after his body was placed leaning against a tree, his face fronting his enemies, he died, but ere he died he wished the mourning warriors to remember him to the sweet maid of his heart. Thus he died, far away from home and the friends he loved.
"Me-che-ne-mock-a-qua's heart hushed its beatings, and all the warm emotions of that heart were chilled and dead. The moving, living spirit of her beloved Ge-niw-e-gwon she witnessed continually beckoning her to follow him to the happy hunting grounds of spirits in the west; he appeared to her in human shape but was invisible to others of his tribe.
"One morning her body was found mangled at the foot of the bluff. The soul had thrown aside its covering of earth, and had gone to join the spirit of her beloved Ge-niw-e-gwon, to travel together to the land of spirits realizing the glories and bliss of a future, eternal existence."
Some little distance further on is "Chimney Rock," which Prof. Winchell denominates one of the most remarkable masses of rock in this or any other State.
A foot-path which leads from the beach or base of the "Lover's Leap" to the plateau above, brings us to the old Davenport farm, now owned by G. S. Hubbard, of Chicago.
Having now made the circuit of the island, let us once more ascend to Fort Holmes, take our seats upon the high station built some years since by the government engineers, and look around us. The island lies at our feet, and we can see almost every part of it. The little clearings seen in various places were once gardens cultivated by American soldiers. That in the vicinity of Arch Rock was called the "big garden." In 1812, when the English captured the island, the clearing on the high plateau back of the Fort Holmes was planted with potatoes, and when the Americans came back to take possession of the island in the spring of 1815 the English not having cultivated it during the time, were compelled to plow it up and plant it, that, according to the terms of the treaty, they might leave everything as they found it.
As we gaze upon the adjacent islands and main land memory is busy with the scenes of the past. Two hundred and fifty years ago only bark canoes dotted the surface of the lake. A few years later the songs of the Canadian voyageur, as he rowed or paddled his large batteau, echoed and re-echoed around the shores. Now the shrill whistle of the propeller is heard, and the white sails of hundreds of vessels are spread to the breezes. The first vessel ever seen on these waters was the Griffin, in 1679, and the first steamer was the Walk-in-the-Water, in 1819. It would be difficult to estimate the amount of wealth which is annually carried through these straits. During the season of navigation from ten to fifty sails may always be seen passing up and down through the straits, and almost every hour in the day from one to ten propellers are in full view.
Some four or five miles to the northwest of us lies the mixed Canadian and Indian settlement of Point St. Ignace. This was the second place settled in the State of Michigan, the Sault being the first. At the head of East Moran Bay, some little distance north of the church, is the site of the mission established by Marquette in 1671, some remains of which may yet be seen.
Farther north is the bluff called "Rabbit Sitting." Northeasterly the St. Martin Islands, the entrance to the Chenoux and the dividing ridge between this and the Sault St. Mary. On the north east is Point Detour, and, though thirty miles distant, vessels may sometimes be seen entering St. Mary's River. Round and Bois Blanc Islands lie to the south east of us, beyond which, at the distance of eighteen miles, is Cheboygan, situated at the mouth of a river of the same name. This place is advantageously located, and is growing rapidly.
Just before the close of the last session of Congress, Senator Ferry, of Michigan, introduced a resolution asking information from the Secretary of War regarding the location and condition of unoccupied lands on the Island, and the propriety of converting the same into a National Park. The Secretary of War has called on the officers of this department who, we are told, have made favorable reports.
The land proposed to be converted into the park comprises over one thousand acres lying in the centre and on the north side of the Island, and is covered with a thick growth of small pines and evergreens, and we venture to state that a more sustable place cannot be found in the Northwest; Nature has made the spot one of rare interest to every American citizen; its early history and Indian traditions, together with the fact that the Island is the most healthy, cool and desirable place during the hot summer months of any to be found in the whole Union. It is, therefore, to be hoped that, at the next session of Congress, a bill will be passed giving to the people that which they ask for, "a National Park at Mackinac."
Mackinac as a Summer Resort.
The three great reservoirs of clear and cold water—Lakes Huron, Michigan and Superior, with the Island of Mackinac in their hydrographical centre—offer a delightful hot weather asylum to all invalids who need an escape from crowded cities, paludal exhaltations, sultry climates, and officious medication The voyage from Buffalo, Cleveland, Sandusky, or Detroit, on the East or from Chicago or Milwaukee, on Lake Michigan, may afford, should the water be agitated, all the benefits of sea-sickness, without its tedious prolongation. On reaching Mackinac an agreeable change of climate is at once experienced, and the bodily feeling is heightened by the emotions which the evidence and consciousness of having retreated upon an island raise in the mind of one who has not before enjoyed the novelty of insular life. To his jaded sensibilities all around him is fresh and refreshing; a feeling of security comes over him, and when, from the rocky battlements, looks down upon the surrounding waters, they seem a moat of defense against the host of annoyances from which he had sought a refuge. Thus the curative state of mind begins to act on his body from the moment of his landing, and if he be a person of intelligence or taste, this salutary mental excitement will not soon die away; for the historic associations, not less than the scenery of this island, are well fitted to maintain it.
From the summit of the island the eye rests upon a number of spots consecrated to a military history. But the natural scenery is still better fitted to make the invalid forget his ailments. Several agreeable and exciting boat voyages may be made to the neighboring coasts, from each of which a new aspect may be had and the island itself, although but nine miles in circuit, affords opportunities for a great variety of rambling on foot. In these excursions he may ascend to the apex of the island, once the site of a fort. From this summit, elevated far above all that surrounds it, the panorama is such as would justify the epithet to Mackinac—Queen of the Isles. To the west are the indented shores of the upper Peninsula of Michigan; to the south those of the lower, presenting in the interior a distant and smoky line of elevated table-land; up the Straits green islets may be seen peeping above the waters; directly in front of the harbor Round Island forms a beautiful foreground, while the larger Bois Blanc, with its lighthouse, stretches off to the east; and to the north are other island at varying distances, which complete the Archipelago.
The Birds Eye View.
When the observer directs his eye upon the waters more than the land, and the day is fair, with moderate wind, he finds the surface as variable in its tints as if clothed in a robe of changeable silk. Green and blue are the governing hues, but they flow into each other with such facility and frequency that while still contemplating a particular spot, it seems, as if by magic, transformed into another; but these mid day beauties vanish before those of the setting sun, when the boundless horizon of lake and and land seems girt around with a fiery zone of clouds, and the brilliant drapery of the skies paints itself upon the surface of the waters. Brief as they are beautiful, these evening glories, like spirits of the air, quickly pass away, and the gray mantle of night warns the beholder to depart for the village while he may yet make his way along a narrow and rocky path, beset with tufts of prickly juniper. Having refreshed himself for an hour, he may stroll out upon the beach and listen to the serenade of the waters. Wave after wave will break at his feet over white pebbles, and return as limpid as it came. Up the straits he will see the evening star dancing on the ruffled surface, and the loose sails of the lagging schooner flapping in the fitful land-breeze, while the milky way—Death's path of the red man—will dimly appear in the waters before him.
The Future Prospects of the Island.
The rapidly increasing wealth of the country; the tide of emigration pushing to the Northward and Westward clearing away the gigantic forests of untold ages, building up cities and towns and converting the soil which God has preserved for us the countless years gone by, into fertile fields and homes of freemen, is every year bringing Mackinac into notice, and making the Island a more central place of resort.
Our active business men of large cities, whose cares and responsibilities keep them through the business season of the year at their posts until the usual "heated term" arrives, when they, in common with those of means, retired from active business, think of a place of resort, are very apt to study and gather what information they can concerning the locality, desirability and convenience of the fashionable places in various portions of the country and in looking over their lists should miss Mackinac, we fear they would certainly miss the most important one in the country.
A company is about being formed in which Mr. Bryan, proprietor of the Bryan Hall, Chicago, Mr. Eames, a banker, and Mr. Williams, all of Chicago, are interested to build a grand hotel at Mackinac. The proposed hotel will be one of the largest in the State, and will have ample room for the accommodation of one thousand guests.
There are also other parties who have similar objects in view, and we may expect to see within the next five years to come at least $1,000,000 expended on the Island in hotel improvements; these together with the National Park and the natural beauties and curiosities of the place, we predict that the Island, in the future, will be crowded during the hot summer months by pleasure-seekers and travelers from every part of the world.
Capt. H. Van Allen, the proprietor of the Island House, has been making general repairs and refurnishing his hotel. The location is a handsome one, and we are sure he will receive his share of the public patronage this season.
The Mission House has been generally repaired and refurnished. Mr. E. A. Franks, the proprietor, will build this season a large addition, and is determined to make the Mission House second to none on the island.
The McLeod House, James Cabel proprietor, has also been refitted and generally improved. The house is centrally located, and will no doubt do its share of business.
Mr. A. B. Madison has for some time been identified among the business men of the island and always does a good business. His stock of Indian curiosities and toys will be found complete.
Cheboygan County Data excluded
Data compiled by Deb Haines September 2008
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