History of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan
containing a full account of its early settlement; its
growth, development and resources
Surnames found on this page: BART, BAY, BOPART, BRUSH, CARPENTER, CHAPPIEU, CHEVALIERE, DECOTO, DUNCAN, EVELAND, FARNSWORTH, HALL, HARDWIK, INGALLS, JACOBS, KIRBY, KITTSON, MARINETTE, MCLEOD, PREMEAU, QUIMBY, SAXTON, WABASHISH, WALTZ, WHITNEY
The history of Menominee County is full of recollections of the past. The Indian and pioneer history of this division of the State contains much interesting and instructive history, while the history of our own times is a complete review of all that modern enterprise may accomplish, even when battling with the wilderness. The following history is based upon E. S. INGALLS' centennial sketch, supplemented by the notes of our historical writers, and prepared for press with the greatest care. "Tradition," says Mr. INGALLS, "affirms that the first white man on the Menominee was a negro, although old Joe BART, as he was called, a half-breed, always claimed the honor." This entire paragraph is an American Hibernicism, for neither the negro nor the half-breed can be called a white man. Continuing, Mr. INGALLS says: In support of the first claim, however, traditionary lore informs us that in early times a negro Indian trader, accompanied by a Canadian voyageur in his employment, visited this shore many years before CHAPPIEAU came here, and that both were killed at a point on the Peshtigo River several miles above where the village of that name now stands. It is said he had previously traded with the Indians and given them credit, and that at the time he was killed, a party of Indians living at Sturgeon Bay came across to trade with him; that he insisted on their paying up for goods for which he had previously treated them, before he began to trade with them again, which they consented to do. This took about all the furs and deer skins they had with them, and after he had got square with them he refused to trust them any more or to sell them anything for which they could not pay down. This arrangement did not suit the Indians. They thought the trader had taken an unfair advantage of them, and got their furs and peltries. They lost sight of the fact that they had for many months' before had their pay for them, and had so many months' enjoyment of the trader's property, and thought they had been wronged because he had got his pay for the property they had previously bought of him. There are very many white men at the present day who reason just like them, but unlike the white men, they had the remedy of their fancied wrongs in their own hands, which they immediately applied; that is, they lifted the hair of the negro and his companion and confiscated his goods, and thus paid their debts, and obtained a large supply of plunder at the same time. This is a tradition common among the early settlers. The only proof we have to support it is the fact that there is a place up the Peshtigo River called "Nigger's Hill," where, the tradition says, the unfortunate trader lost his wool. The reader may call this history or tradition, which he chooses, but in early times there were many who believed it, and there are some even now who believe he buried quite a sum of money in silver which still lives there.
The first white man who came to Menominee to live was Chappieau, an Indian trader, who came here as an agent for the American Fur Company, and established a post in 1796 or 1798. At that time, many thousands Indians visited the Menominee River every season, while at the north and about the head quarters of the river and toward Lake Superior, the Chippewas had numerous villages which were accessible by birch canoes. There was an abundance of beaver, otter, mink, muskrat, martin and fishers, bear, deer and less valuable game throughout the country, and this post became an important trading point. CHAPPIEAU was a French Canadian voyageur, with sufficient education to keep what books were necessary for an Indian trading post, and was apparently the right man for the place. He was strong and active, and had sufficient courage and nerve for any emergency that might arise. He had a large number of men, picked up from that class of Canadian voyageurs who preferred a life in the solitude of the forests to a home with civilization, and his post sometimes presented the appearance of a well-garrisoned fort, and at other times he was left almost solitary and alone to defend it if hostile Indians approached. His post was solidly built of logs with palisades made of heavy timbers set in the ground around it. Some portions of the one near Chappieu's Rapids were remaining, when the writer of this came to the country in 1859.
A story is told illustrating his nerve in danger as well as the uncomfortable position an Indian trader is sometimes placed in when his post is far out on the frontier, away from civilized men. I state the story as it was related to me by the late John G. KITTSON, several years before his death.
All of the white men belonging to the post had been sent away on various expeditions, leaving only CHAPPIEAU and one white man. A band of Indians from a distance who were none too friendly came to the post, and before CHAPPIEAU had discovered the character of his visitors they had come within the stockade and inside the building used for the store-room. At first they began peaceable to talk of trade, but soon got noisy and threatening, and it was not long before he became satisfied from their actions that the object of their visit was to rob him of his goods, and probably to lift of scalp. To fight them was out of the question, for not only were they inside the stockade, but were crowding around his small counter inside of the store building, and all of his reliable men were miles away and where he could not recall them. He tried by pleasant words to still the storm and avert the danger without avail; they grew more and more threatening, and when, as he thought, the crisis had nearly approached, he rolled out a keg of gunpowder which was open at the end, and was catching up a loaded pistol he chocked it and pointed it into the gunpowder, and with flashing eyes turned to their chief and told him that if every Indian was not out of the stockade in two minutes, he would fire into the gunpowder, and send them and go with them into the happy hunting grounds. They knew by his tone and by the flash in his eye that he meant business, and being suddenly impressed with the idea that discretion was the better part of valor, in less than two minutes not an Indian was to be seen inside the inside the stockade. The best of the matter was that they became so favorable impressed with his bravery they immediately made friends with him, and he got a good trade with them, and they always remained his friends, and often afterward
visited him and the American Fur Company's great profit.
CHAPPIEAU built his first trading post on the Wisconsin side of the Menominee River, near where MARINETTE's house now stands, and not far from where the railroad bridge reaches that bank of the river. He carried on his trade with the Indians for many years, until dispossessed by FARNSWORTH & BRUSH, as will be hereafter stated. After being disposed of his property by them, he crossed the Menominee River, and built a new trading post near the foot of CHAPPIEAU's Rapids, which were named after him, about five miles up the river from the village of Menominee, where he remained trading with the Indians until he died in 1852. He surrounded his post with palisades in the same manner as he did the first one, and some of these remained standing until after I came into the country. CHAPPIEAU took to himself a squaw whom he lived and raised children, as was the custom with the traders in those days, but to whom he was never married. Some of the descendants a few years ago were, and probably are now, living about the Peshtigo River, in Oconto County, Wis.
The next permanent white settlers who came were William FARNSWORTH and Charles BRUSH, who came the same season, and operated together after their arrival. They arrived in 1822. They were stirring, wide-awake business men, but without so nice a sense of meum and tuum as would stand particularly in the way of their carrying out any enterprise that they might undertake. About the first important enterprise they entered into was to root out CHAPPIEAU from his trading post, before alluded to. Unfortunately, CHAPPIEAU, through want of discretion, or perhaps forgetting that he was then the only white settler in the country having authority, opened the way for them and made the opportunity, of which they were only too ready to avail themselves. Owing to some difficulty, CHAPPIEAU, soon after they came on the river, got into a quarrel with the chiefs Spaniard and Shenegesick and a brother of the latter. During the fracas he lost a thumb. Making more of the matter than prudence required, he caused these chiefs to be arrested and taken to Green Bay (Fort Howard), and imprisoned in the fort there by the United States troops stationed at that place. These chiefs were told that they were to be taken to Detroit and imprisoned there, and in some way they got the idea that as a punishment for the loss of CHAPPIEAU's thumb they were to have their teeth knocked out. These stories were undoubtedly started by some of the white men, and told the Indians to get a sell on them (to use a slang term). The Indians being very credulous, believed the reports, and told the chiefs, who, as well as their followers, were very much frightened, and supposed the offence was a very serious one. This was an opportunity for FARNSWORTH. For many years before he came to Menominee, he had been employed by the American Fur Company, and was well acquainted with Indian customs, their language and habits of thought. Possibly he had something to do in circulating the stories, though that such is the fact tradition saith not. At any rate, the chance was too good to be lost, and when their terror had approached its climax he made his way to Green Bay and interceded for the chiefs with such good effect that he obtained their release. This made the tribe his fast friends for life, and a blow was thus struck at CHAPPIEAU's popularity from which he never fully recovered. The good will of the chiefs did not end with words. They strove to show their appreciation of one who had proved a friend indeed when they were in need, by making him a grant of all the land on that side of the river, from the mouth to the rapids, the grant including CHAPPIEAU's trading poet. How far back from the river the grant extended tradition does not show, and as there is no written record of the grant, there is now no means of ascertaining, but as land at that time had no stated market value, it is presumable that it extended as far back as he might choose to consider it, so that it did not interfere with anybody's rights who might be living on the Peshtigo River. This presumption is strengthened by the fact that the Indians, who only wanted the land for hunting purposes, could continue to have just as much use of it as if they had not given it away.
The one thing that FARNSWORTH did want he got, and that was CHAPPIEAU's trading post. One day when the latter was away, taking advantage of his absence, FARNSWORTH and his followers entered and took possession of the post. They piled the goods, wares, whisky, squaws, papooses. etc., out, and as writs for "forcible entry and detainer" were not in fashion then on the Menominee, and the aggressors were the stronger party, CHAPPIEAU on his return, feeling completely disgusted with the turn things had taken, piled his traps into his canoes and paddled them up to the foot of the rapids which still bear his name, and there built another stockade, as I have before stated, and made a final stand for his rights.
While the course taken by FARNSWORTH in this matters may not have been strictly according to the code now supposed to regulate the acts of the people of the State of Wisconsin, it was one step forward in the course of civilization on the Menominee River; in fact, it was the first step or led to it. Though FARNSWORTH was an Indian trader, he was also something more; he had good business opportunity, and BRUSH, who was associated with him, had quite as good. They were not long in coming to the conclusion that there was something better than furs and peltries, and when they cast their eyes around as they journeyed up the Menominee and saw the tall pines on its banks, they began to speculate on their probable value if sawed into boards and got into market where white mon lived; also seeing the schools of whitefish coming up the river out of Green Bay, the thought struck them that they could be caught and packed in barrels and shipped to some place where whitdish would be esteemed a luxury, and return to them many a silver dollar for the silver scales of the whitefish.
Green Bay settlement was just where the city now stands, but there was very little of it then. There was the fort on the Fort Howard side of the Fox River and a small rumbling village on the Green Bay side, whose inhabitants were principally fur traders or men who were employed by the traders, and here and there for a few miles up the river were some of the old voyageurs, who, getting old and tired of wild life, had taken land and opened up small farms. But those men were not to be discouraged by the untoward prospects of a market. If there was no market in the West, there was in the East, and they would find one somewhere; besides, they believed in the future of the Western country, and they lived to see their belief verified, though not to the extent to realize themselves all the advantage which they expected to derive from their labors. Their first enterprise was the building of a saw- mill, which was commenced in 1832, and was the first mill built on the Menominee River. It was a water mill, and was built on the Wisconsin side, a short distance above where the Chicago & North-Western Railway now leaves the bank in crossing. A dam was constructed across to one of the islands, which gave them a pond and head of water, and what we would now call an old-fashioned saw mill was built, one that would cut six or eight thousand feet of lumber each day,
and not such a mill as we have at present, with clock work machinery and the capacity of from one to two hundred thousand feet of lumber each day. The mill was run by them a few years. At some time not precisely known, one Samuel H. FARNSWORTH bought an interest either in the mill or in the water-power formed by the rapids. It has been stated, however, that this mill had been sold at Sheriff's sale for debt, and the bid for it was purchased from the bidder, D. M. WHITNEY, of Green Bay, for eighteen barrels of whitefish, by Samuel N. FARNSWORTH. I cannot learn fully at what time or how he was interested, but only learn the fact that, about the year 1839, Dr. J. C. HALL came on the river and bought out Samuel H. FARNSWORTH's interest, and also bought into the mill with FARNSWORTH & BRUSH, and within two or three years after that time the dam went out and the mill was abandoned, and in 1844 Dr. HALL built another mill and dam, which will be hereaftar referred to. Besides furnishing the power for sawing lumber, the building of the dam opened the way for the fish business. After it was constructed, they built a wier along on the apron below the dam, and in the season when the fish were running they caught great quantities with no other trouble than going out in the morning with scoop nets and scooping them out of the wier. In some seasons they caught as many as 550 barrels, with no expense, comparatively, except dressing, salting and packing.
William FARNSWORTH was lost on the steamer "Lady Elgin," which was sunk in 1860 by a collision with a vessel between Waukegan, Ill., and Chicago. It is not now known what became of BRUSH, or whether he still lives.
The next white man to follow those above mentioned and take up a permanent residence here, was John G. KITTSON. He came in 1826 as a clerk for the American Fur Company under CHAPPIEAU. He was the son of a British officer who was or had been stationed in Canada. Mr KITTSON spent the remainder of his life in this vicinity, and died in 1872, his death being hastened, as it is believed, by the exposure and suffering he and his family were subjected to on the night of the great woods fire, in October, 1871. He was a very intelligent and stirring man, and was all his life actively engaged in the fur trade or in farming, and he had the honor of clearing and working the first farms ever opened in this county, one at Wausakee Bend, above Grand Rapids, and another at CHAPPIEAU's Rapids, near the old trading post, where he resided for many years before the great fire. He had great influence over the Indians, and was at all times a friend to their interests. The Indians always spoke of Mr. KITTSON as "the writer," a name they gave him on account of his doing all the writing for them in their various transactions with the Government. He has left many descendants, who still make the Menominee their home.
One son, John KITTSON, was killed in the war of the rebellion, in Sherman's march to the sea. In 1826, came also Joseph DUNCAN, who was employed as a packer by the American Fur Company. He was a brave soldier, and fought at the battle of Plattsburg. He might be entitled to a pension, only unfortunately, he was fighting on the wrong side. He was a British soldier, is till living and makes his home with Charles MCLEOD, believes himself to be between eighty and ninety years old, though he cannot tell exactly. The next white men who came to stay permanently were Baptists PREMEAU and Charles MCLEOD, who arrived in 1832. They are still living here at Menominee, Charles MCLEOD being now sixty-four years old. Joseph DECOTO came the same year, and is still alive. He is living on a farm at White Rapids, and is now seventy years old. A good story is told of DECOTO, who is French, and does not talk the best of English. A few years ago he had a lawsuit with John G. KITTSON, with whom he was not on the best of terms, about a horse which KITTSON replevined. DECOTO could not speak the name KITTSON, but always called it "Dixon." Soon after the time of the suit with KITTSON, a Catholic priest, who made occasional visits to the Menominee River and through the wild settlements, came here and visited DECOTO at White Rapids, so DECOTO made him a present of a pony to assist him in his travels on his missionary journeys. The matter of his suit with KITTSON would occasionally come up, when he invariably worked himself into a passion, and after exhausting every explosive in the Canadian-French vocabulary, he would cool off with, "Vel1, I give vay, two hoss; I give von to the Lord and I give von to the devil; I give von to the priest, nod I give von to John Dixon."
In this connection it may be well to state that the JACOBS have since an early day been a prominent family, and although their residence was on the Wisconsin side of the river, their history is blended with that of Menominee County, and it is proper that it should have its place in this brief sketch.
When William FARNSWORTH first came to Menominee, MARINETTE was a blooming young woman, bright and intelligent. She was the daughter of a daughter of WABASHISH (the Marten), a chief of the Menominees, and Bartholomew CHEVALIERE, a white man.
When Bartholomew CHEVALIERE came to the Menominee, or whether or not he ever made his home here, tradition saith not, but from the best information obtainable it is thought that he never did. Joseph Bartholomew CHEVALIERE (Joe BART), a brother of MARINETTE, was his son, and it is owing to that fact that he made the claim, as before stated, that he was the first white man who lived at Menominee. It is not known whether or not MARINETTE was born on the Menominee. The first we know of her is that John B. JACOBS, a man from Canada, who was employed in the fur trade in early times, had her for his wife at Mackinaw. While they lived together they had several children, two of whom, John B. JACOBS and Elizabeth MCLEOD, are still living. John B. JACOBS is now fifty-eight years old and resides in Green Bay, Wis.; Elizabeth MCLEOD is isxty years old, and lived here in Menominee, the wife of Charles MCLEOD. For some reasons not known, John B. JACOBS, Sr., parted from MARINETTE at Mackinaw. Afterward, William FARNSWORTH became so enamored of her, and took her for his wife, and when he came to Menominee in 1822 brought her and her children of him. He had children by her, one of whom, George FARNSWORTH, of Green Bay, Wis., is still living. John B. JACOBS (the son) grew up on the Menominee, and became closely identified with its interests, and was prominent in all enterprises which were started for its advancement. For many years, he owned and run the steamboat "Queen City" between Menominee and Green Bay. MARINETTE died in 1863, highly honored by all the residents about the river. She was seventy-two years old when she died, had been looked to as a mother by all the early settlers and Indians, for she had always been ready to assist the needy and comfort the distressed. The first orchard of apple trees was set out by her, which is still standing in Marinette Village, and is the first frame house built on the Menominee river.
The earliest settlers came form Canada in batteaux, sailing and poling them up the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario, and, before the Welland Canal was constructed, up the Niagara River, by portage around the falls
into Lake Erie, up Lake Erie and Detroit River through Lake .and River St. Clair, along Lake Huron and through the straits of Mackinaw into Lake Michigan, and up Green Bay to the Menominee River, the voyage requiring several months and being attended with great hardships and exposure. It was many years before a steamer was seen here, or before even sail vessels became frequent on the waters of Green Bay. The Country was then wilderness from the Detroit River to the Pacific Ocean, excepting a few trading posts, those at Mackinaw and Green Bay being the only ones in this section. We who can now step on the cars and in forty-eight hours reach Montreal can hardly realize that less than fifty years ago it took a whole season to come from there; nor can we understand the hardships the early traders had to endure when they made tho first settlement in Menominee.
The next permanent settler was Andrew EVELAND. He came in 1842, and in 1853 built the first frame building in what is now the village of Menominee. He is still living here. His business has usually been fishing. Charles MCLEOD built a frame house in 1852, and still resides in it, on the river bank, just outside the village. This was the fist frame house in the county.
Next among the old settlers is John QUIMBY, who came in 1845, and died in 1874 aged sixty-five years. At first he had charge of the fisheries and the boarding house of Dr. HALL's water-mill at the rapids. He afterward built a tavern where the KIRBY House now stands which was destroyed by fire in 1859. QUIMBY immediately began to rebuild. He first put up a small building, which he added to from time to time until, with the exception of one addition made since he sold it, it formed what is now the KIRBY House. Here he kept the only hotel in Menominee until 1864. when he sold the property to S. P. SAXTON, and its name was changed to SAXTON House. SAXTON sold the house to a man named BOPART who made the last addition to it, who sold it to Fred WALTZ, who sold it to Abner KIRBY, of the firm of KIRBY-CARPENTER Company and ex-Mayor of Milwaukee, who fitted it up again, and named it KIRBY House. John QUIMBY was a man of marked characteristics, and either a warm friend or a good hater. There was never any trouble in learning which relation he bore to a person, for he never hesitated to make it known, yet he was so kind-hearted that if he saw an enemy suffering and in want he would be the first to assist him. He was a great fighter, and so long as his opponent resisted would never give an inch, yet he never bore malice, and when the resistence was over, if his opponent came to grief, he was the first to extend a helping hand. He was also a great hunter, and found his greatest enjoyment in going with rifle; going with a few friends to some place along the shore of Green Bay, there to camp out for a few days and run deer into the bay, and with a boat to catch them. When the writer first came to Menominee, he frequently joined him in these expeditions, and many a deer have they taken together. QUIMBY owned very much of the land on which the village of Menominee now stands, and fully performed his part of the work in building it up, though he could never fully realize that Menominee was to become a large place. When the writer first came, and after he had resided here long enough to become acquainted with its resources for building up a large town, he frequently talked with him about building a railroad through the county, and his reply usually was that he never wanted to live any longer than to see a railroad through these woods. He did live to see one several years. His widow is still living here, and she has always been considered a mother to the white settlers on the river, and many a footsore and sick traveler or woodsman has been relieved by her care and sympathy; some there are who, without it, would have been long ago in their graves. She is now nearly seventy years of age, and is still active. I have given a short history coming of the first settlers, none of whom are now living, except Charles MCLEOD, Almira QUIMBY, Andreas EVELAND and Baptiste PREMEAU, who may be truly called old settlers. Moses HARDWIK came here in 1826, and lived here several years. He is still living at Bay Settlement, on the. east shore of Green Bay. Another class who may also be called old settlers as compared with late comers, and who built the mills now on the river and gave the country its real start in prosperity, but who came later than those hereinbefore referred to, will necessarily be named in connection with the buildings of the several mills, and will thus appear in the order of their coming here.
When the first white man visited Green Bay, the Menominee River was the home of the Menominee Indians, than very numerous, and Menominee was their most populous locality. The abundance of fish running out of Green BAY into the river, the check they received in climbing the rapids two miles from the month, and the abundance of game in the woods around, enabled them to obtain a living very easily. Their favorable location, too, on the shores of the bay rich with fish, and at the mouth of the river whose branches enabled them to penetrate, the vast regions of the north with their birch-bark canoe - these advantages drew large numbers about the mouth of the Menominee. The peace in character of the Menominees was early noticed by the white traders, and although they were brave as a people, yet wars rarely arose between them and other tribes, and violence was seldom committed on those who visited them. Tradition tells of but one battle within the limits of Menominee County, and that was between the Indians living near the month of the river and those living in the villages near White Rapids and Grand Rapids. The first were Menominees, of course, but it is not certainly known whether their opponents belonged to the same tribe or were Chippewas, but the presumption is that they belonged to the latter tribe. The battle was fought near the house of Charles MCLEOD, and along the banks of the river - near Burying Ground Paint. The trouble occurred in this way:
The Indians in the village near the mouth of the river were living on the fat of the land, that is, Sturgeon, which they caught in great abundance on the rapids. But an abundance was not enough, for sturgeon is the special delight of the red man. The chief, therefore, ordered dams of stone to be built across the river at the rapids in order to prevent the fish from ascending the river. This caused great suffering in the upper villages, for the Indians there were largely dependent upon sturgeon for their subsistence, so the chief at Grand Rapids sent his son down to ask the potentate at the mouth of the river to tear away the obstructions, and let the finny monsters wend their way up the stream as usual, stating at the same time that his people were suffering from the need thereof. But to this most reasonable request the chief turned a deaf ear, and sent the son back to his father with an insulting message. But sturgeon his people must have or starve, and this fact, coupled with the insults heaped upon him by the chief at the mouth of the river, roused his fighting blood. Calling together his warriors and those from the tribes farther up the river, who were in a like condition, he prepared for war. With "sturgeon" for a war cry, they set out down
the river to punish the inhabitants of the village that had wronged them by cutting off their supply of food. At early dawn, the war-whoop broke the stillness of the morning, and as its death-telling echoes and re-echoes were wafted upon the morning breeze, it fell with terrible meaning upon the ears of the Menominees at the mouth of the river, and every warrior was quickly in arms and ready to fight in a warfare that showed no quarter and sought no mercy. The battle was short and sharp. The squaws and children fled to the swamps or crossed the river to safety. The fight raged up and down the river bank and upon the island for two or three hours, when the village fell into the hands of its assailants, and the shore chieftain was a captive in the hands of his enemies. He was made a victim of the most terrible torture that savage ingenuity could devise, which was ended only by death The loss was great on either side, but much more severe on the side of the down river tribe. The conquerors, foregoing further bloodshed, tore away the obnoxious dams, and returned to their homes, followed up by the unsuspecting sturgeon, which were again caught in peace and plenty. The writer received this account from the late John G. KITTSON and he in turn received the traditions from the Indians living on the river when he came here. The tradition as handed down, is much more full than is here given, but the object of this record is rather to preserve the fact of its existence than to make a story, and therefore much of the minutiae is omitted. The Menominee Indians are fast fading away, and where there were thousands when the white man came, it is rare now to find one. When the writer came here, it was very common to see a village of wigwams at the rapids, the occupants busy catching and smoking a season's stock of the staff of life, i. e., sturgeon, as a supply of provisions to last until the deer were fat enough to eat. It was also common to see fleets of bark canoes loaded down with squaws and papooses coasting along the shores of Green Bay. Nearly all of these now live on their reservations at Keshena and Shawano. Many of them have become civilized, and have good common schools and churches. A few yet remain around Menominee but their days are numbered. Like the pines of their native forests, they cannot withstand the effects of civilization, and the time is not far distant when there will not be an Indian left on the Menominee to cherish the memory or even preserve the name of the peaceful tribe that once roamed over these hunting grounds, proud in the freedom of savage life.