BEAVER ISLAND, MICHILIMACKINAC
Ancient and Modern Michilimackinac is an account of the “Strangite” settlement in northern Lake Michigan; especially Beaver Island. “In it Strang surveys the geography and history of Mackinac and the surrounding region, particularly the islands of Lake Michigan, and after giving an account of the Mormon settlement upon Big Beaver Island, addresses himself to the bitter controversies between the people of Mackinac and the Mormons. Although dealing with controverted matters and colored by Strang’s indignation at the outrages he and his people had to endure, the pamphlet is a responsible source on the events of which it treats, and is also interesting for the considerable measure of learning it reveals in Strang.” (Dale L. Morgan, Bibliography, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite).” It was also published in the first four numbers of Volume 4, of the Northern Islander, under the title, “Beaver Islands and Emmet County.” Page numbers from the original pamphlet are shown in brackets [Page 1].
ANCIENT AND MODERN
INCLUDING AN ACCOUNT
CONTROVERSY BETWEEN MACKINAC
Saint James: Cooper & Chidester, 1854
Modern Typeset/Digital Edition By, Samuel E. West, Elder Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite) First Edition, June, 2003 Copyright 2003, by Samuel E. West.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
02 Geographical Divisions
02 Historical Works
03 The First Michilimackinac
04 Mission Broken Up
04 Reflection on the Fate of the Mission
05 Discovery of the Mississippi
06 The Second Michilimackinac
08 Rat, the Huron
08 The Third Michilimackinac
10 Decay of Mackinac
11 Protestant Mission
12 The Fisheries
13 Slavery and Peonage
14 Administration of Justice
14 Indian Whiskey
16 Indian Payments
16 Division of Counties
18 Cheboygan County
19 Grand Traverse County
20 Emmet County
21 Indian Population of Emmet
22 Mormon Settlement in Emmet
24 Resistance of Aggression by the Mormons
25 First Attempt to Drive the Mormons from Beaver
27 Strang’s Imprisonment
27 Mormonism in Politics
28 Indian Hostilities
29 War on the Mormons
30 United States Take Up Against the Mormons
32 Affair with the Bennetts
34 General Oppression
35 Wreck of the Illinois
36 Winter of 1851-2
36 Stealing on the Fisheries
37 Mr. Strang in the Legislature
39 Attempt to Kidnap Mr. Strang
40 Effort to Override the Liquor Law in Emmet
41 Conduct of Mackinac Towards the Mormons
43 Islands of Emmet County
43 Big Beaver
44 Early Settlement of Beaver
45 Garden Island
45 Hog Island
46 High Island
46 Gull Island
46 Trout, Virgin and Rabbit Islands
46 Big Summer
46 Saint Martin
46 Little Summer
46 Poverty Island
47 Smaller Islands
47 Old Michilimackinac
47 Little Traverse Bay
47 Pine River
48 Conclusion Notices of the Press
The name of the Island of Michilimackinac and the Promontory of Old Michilimackinac is derived from the Indian words Michi – Maikinac–Great Turtle; both places, its seen from a distance on the water, resembling the turtle. The Ojibewas, (Chippewas,) Ottowas and Pottowatomies, who settled the country after the name was in use, hold it, synonymous with Michlmauhinonk, the place of mighty spirits. The Island, according to Indian tradition, is the birth place of Michabow, the Indian God of Waters.
This name, now confined to a county, a strait, an island and a deserted village, was by the early settlers of North America applied to all the country on Lakes Huron, Michigan and Superior; and was, except Jamestown, Va., the very first permanent European settlement within the original boundary of the United States.
In 1608 Samuel Champlain laid the foundation of Quebec, the earliest permanent European settlement on the waters of the St. Lawrence. Three years after the Sioux Indians, with the Sauks, Hurons, Algonquins and Montaguiz, were led against the Iroquois, of New York, by Champlain and his companions. On that occasion the Sioux made their rendezvous at the Harbor of Saint James, Beaver Island. On their return from a successful campaign, some of the French returned and settled with them; and from that time forward the Indians of this region were in communication with the French of Quebec, trading annually in furs. These voyages were made principally by Indians at the first, but the French advanced more and more into this region till 1668, when the French Jesuits were in control of large and valuable missions in this region, and the arts of civilization prevailed here. Steam locomotion and the full tide of “Western immigration,” have generally contributed to the diffusion of knowledge and the extension of exploration and settlement–Michilimackinac, its attractive surroundings and historical associations, are still imperfectly known.
Before the villages and the cities of the Lower lakes WERE, Michilimackinac was–yes, more than one hundred and fifty years before the populous cities of Utica, Rochester, Buffalo and Cleveland had a geographical name–more than a century before they were known–even as “God-forsaken places, inhabited by muskrats and visited only by straggling trappers,” Michilimackinac and her dependencies had their forts and chapels and college, their priests and merchants and scientific explorers.
Yes, while Boston, Philadelphia and Baltimore were all unbroken wilderness, and the Indian in his light canoe had scarce been frightened from his fishing in the Bay of New York by the broad sail and the [Page 2] high Dutch poop; Michilimackinac waked to matins, and kneeled at vespers, at the call of the church bell; and her merchants were the princes of the forests.
That region of country bordering on the great upper lakes, which we now call new, and which we recorded until quite recently an “undiscovered wilderness,” has long been known. The winding course of its rivers and its remotest forests were explored long ago for mercantile and religious purposes, and the rich furs which abounded in this unknown region have for two centuries and a half adorned the robes of the monarchs of Europe, and contributed to the beauty and luxury of courts. There are few places in this country with which is connected as much historical interest and as many thrilling incidents; and none, perhaps, where the natural scenery is more beautiful and attractive than Old Michilimackinac and modern Mackinac and their early dependencies.
At that date the political geography of North America was far different from what it is now. New France consisted of the following provinces:–Hudson’s Bay, which included all the region north of the parallel of forty-nine degrees north latitude and west indefinitely; Quebec, including Canada East, and extending southward to the head of Lake Champlain, and westward to the head waters of the Ohio; Michilimackinac, which included all the country west of Quebec, southward to the Ohio, west as far as the western boundary of Minnesota, and all the country drained into Lakes Superior and Huron. New France also included Acadia, ( Nova Scotia,) Cape Breton, New Foundland, etc.
The British America of that day only extended west to the Apalachian (Allegheny) mountains. South of them the Spanish province of Florida included the State of Georgia, nearly all the country south of the Ohio and the Valley of the Mississippi as far as the mouth of the Illinois. The Vice Royalty of Mexico or New Spain took all to the southwest of this and to the northwest all beyond Cape , Mendocino was TERRE INCOGNITO.
The province of New Mexico, erected at a later period, extended north to the Missouri river, at the place of the Mandan Indians.–When the French erected the province of Louisiana it trenched on both Florida and New Mexico. The province of Detroit was taken off from Michilimackinac. It included the part of Canada West above the cataract of Niagara and north to Lake Huron , that part of Michigan south of Saginaw Bay, and most of Ohio and Indiana.
The settlement of Detroit began in 1670 and in a few years it possessed more importance than Michilimackinac and was erected into a province. From that date Michilimackinac has a separate history.
There is no regular history of the early settlements in this country to be found. The country was explored and settled under the direction of the Jesuits, the superior of whom reported annually, and these reports constitute the Jesuit relations.
These are printed in forty duodecimo volumes, under the title of “Relation de ce qui s’est passe en la Nouvelle France es annees.” Sometimes the title runs: “Relation de ce qui s’est passe de plus remarquable aux Missions des Peres de la Campagnie de Jesus en la Nouvelle France, es annees.” They extend from 1632 to 1672. Of their merit, Charlevoix pronounces the following opinion: ”As those fathers were scattered among all the nations with which the French were in relation, and as their mission obliged them to enter into the affairs of the colony, their memoirs may be said to embrace an elaborate history thereof. There is no other source to which we can apply for instruction as to the progress of religion among the savages, or for a knowledge of these people, all of whose languages they spoke. The style of these Relations is exceedingly simple; but this simplicity itself has not contributed less to give them a great celebrity, than the curious and edifying matter they contain.”
In proportion to their great value is, at the same time, their great scarcity. A complete set is not now to be found even in the Royal Library at Paris. In this country the complete set is owned by Mr. J. C. Brown, of Providence, Rhode Island, the volumes for the years 1654-5, 1658-9, and 1671-2 only being wanting. The next in order is that of Harvard College library, there being five volumes wanting. The collection of Mr. J. C. Murphy, of Brooklyn , is the next in point of completeness, there being eleven volumes wanting. The Relations for the year 1654-5 and 1658-9 are not to be found in any collection, public or private, in this Country.
So rare a work is accessible to very few, and when found is incomplete, not only for want of a full set of the Relations, but more especially because they only cover a period of forty years of the two hundred which is the subject of antiquarian research. The neglected archives of some Jesuit college may supply what is lacking, but until that is done we can but look to what tradition and its monuments have preserved to us of this early haunt of civilization, now ignored by reading men.
The seat of government and of trade of the province of Michilimackinac was also called Michilimackinac, and has had three locations. The first was in a bay of the Upper Peninsula , about five miles to the northwest of the Island of Mackinac, within the present township of St. Ignace. It is mentioned on Farmer’s Maps of Michigan as Ancient Fort Mackinac. The second was on the extreme northern point of the Lower Peninsula and at the northeast corner of Emmet county. It usually appears on the maps as Michilimackinac, or old Mackinac. The third is the present Village of Mackinac.
THE FIRST MICHILIMACKINAC.
The original Michilimackinac was a quiet, rural village, made up of a few traders, a college of Jesuits, and a considerable number of Indians.
The Ojibewa and Ottowa Indians are not the earliest known occupants of this region. The Ojibe was, from whom the Ottawas and Pottawatomies are late offsets, migrated about two centuries since from near the Gulf of Mexico and conquered the country around Lakes Michigan and Superior from the Hurons, Sauks, Sioux and other tribes.
Before the conquest of this country by the Ojibewas, this mission included some ten thousand Indians, settled within the present limits of Emmett county, and probably twice that number in the rest of the province.
Southward of the straits were the principal agricultural settlements of Michilimackinac. On the main land, from Little Traverse Bay northward some twenty miles, and extending from the lake shore inland eight or nine miles, was a vast region of farms, gardens and villages. Further east, on the head waters of the Cheboygan river, were numerous large tracts of land cleared and cultivated. Four of the largest in the Beaver group and both the Fox Islands were cultivated to it great extent, and sustained a numerous population.
These people were all converted Indians. They had abandoned both the religion and the government which had prevailed among them before the Jesuits visited them. The Jesuits exercised the sole power in civil matters, as well as religions. When the place was furnished with a garrison of French soldiers the commandment exercised a considerable control in public affairs.
But from 1612, when the first Frenchmen visited this region, till 1681, when Marquetre erected the fort at the north point of the Lower Peninsula , they were generally without a garrison, and the military authority was in the hands of the priests. They were, indeed, sole rulers of the country, owing a nominal allegiance to the French king and a real one to the Pope at Rome, but governing the country without the interference of either.
As in most of the Jesuit missions, so in these, the property was all held in common.–Each village had its priest, who directed all affairs and [Page 4] business matters, even to the cultivation of the crops. Though each family had its own habitation, the fields of grain were all common. The Priest exacted of each such amount of labor as he thought just, and in return furnished them the necessary amount of grain from the common store.
The Jesuits instructed the Indians in the French modes of fishing, and by their skill gave value to lake fisheries, which mere savages could never make available; furnishing all the flesh necessary for the consumption of the inhabitants. Small supplies of fish and corn were sold to the fur traders in payment for such European merchandise as could not be dispensed with. Such advances had been made in the arts that horses and oxen were used to some extent in plowing the fields; utensils of wood, iron and copper were manufactured; men and women were clothed in cloth of their own fabric; and good wooden buildings were erected and their boats navigated all the lakes.
In Marquette’s time large vessels plied from Frontenac to Michilimackinac, Sault Ste Marie and Green Bay, and a large vessel was constructed on Lake Superior. These were constructed under the direction of Frenchmen, but the laborers were Indians.
MISSION BROKEN UP.
The precise date of the irruption of the Ojibewas cannot be ascertained. But when they conquered the country these settlements were broken up. The inhabitants left the country in a body and went under the direction and guidance of their Priests to the province of Quebec. Their descendants now form several considerable villages in the vicinity of Montreal.
The immense fields cleared by them were all abandoned to the move barbarous conqueror. Their towns, as well as their farms, grew up to forests. They are now distinguished from the primeval forests by the less growth of the forest trees; by the great number of apple trees growing wild among the other trees; by the calcined stone of their chimneys and the charred wood on their hearths. Their villages are also marked by large quantities of broken delf ware, manufactured in the settlement, which seems to have been extensively used in culinary labors.
St. Ignace contains the remains of the Jesuit college, said to have contained eleven professors, and from three to five hundred students, most of whom, however, were engaged in merely elementary studies. There is now there a small village of uneducated Frenchmen, partaking largely of the Indian blood, possessed of no enterprise, and gaining a slender subsistence by spring and fall fishing, and a rude and indolent system of agriculture.
The want of education and enterprise is so great, that with a population of three or four hundred, township organization is not regularly kept up. There is neither a school district nor a legal highway in the settlement. Frequently the town has afforded but one man who could read and write. The village of Mackinac contrives to keep up just enough of legal jurisdiction to collect taxes there, but allows St. Ignace no interest in the public funds, no share in the administration of justice.
The lands at St. Ignace are commonly supposed to be French grants. But they are not. The old French titles have been lost by the conquest of the country, or forgotten or abandoned. The present titles are held under an act of congress granting lands to such residents of Michilimackinac, Sault Ste Marie and Green Bay, as were faithful to the United States during the war of 1812.
The fields that were cleared and cultivated above two centuries ago are grown up to forests. The location of the former town had been lost and its existence forgotten, until it was recently discovered by the fallen remains of the old chimneys, and the ruins of the fortress. The present population are not descended front its original founders. Of them not a fragment remains.
REFLECTION ON THE FATE OF THE MISSION.
It would be a curious speculation what effect would have been produced on the future destiny of the North [Page 5] American continent had they chosen to stand their ground and been able to maintain their position. By going to the vicinity of Montreal they obtained ease and quiet under the protection of the French fortresses. With Canada they were transferred to Great Britain. Had they remained here till 1759 they would have become too numerous to be affected by the fall of Quebec and might easily have maintained a separate national existence after France ceded all her possessions to Great Britain.
Their very secluded situation, a thousand miles from other European colonies, in the midst of savage tribes, would have placed them beyond the reach of any powerful invasion, while the possession of the arts of civilization made them formidable to the savages. After conquering the hatred of the savages and the stubbornness of the wilderness, toiling through all the labors of raising men from the wildest barbarism to the best ordered society, they have sacrificed an empire to the love of ease, or the fear of a band of savages less numerous than themselves.
The labors of the Jesuits in civilizing the Indians in all parts of America, have been eminently successful. While all other missions for the last two centuries have failed to redeem a single tribe from barbarism, they have built up extensive provinces, consisting solely of civilized Indians, with a Priest to each village. Notwithstanding the oft repeated and always injurious interference of government, the missions of Uraguay, Chiquitos, California and many others built up populous and prosperous communities, some of them worthy of a separate national existence.
But there is a radical defect in the civilization of the converted Indians. They are good citizens and excellent christians. But there are no statesmen among them. They never learn to be rulers. They do not even claim to guide their domestic affairs. The Priests have the direction of all matters. After a mission has been well established it is liable to fall into the hands of men of little devotion and no enterprise, who, adhering to the established forms of public worship, use their domain as so much private property, and the subjects as slaves. The mission then changes suddenly from a populous and happy republic to an unproductive province of an oppressive government, inhabited by a few seditious subjects, and an unproductive multitude of slaves. Whenever the Jesuits have been recalled from their missions, the people have relapsed to barbarism. If others were sent to govern them, they had not the wisdom, patience and forbearance. If left to govern themselves the want of enterprise has been a fatal barrier. Had the Jesuits separated from the nations of Europe, and built up their missions as an independent State, who will dare assert that they could not have attained to the empire of America?
DISCOVERY OF THE MISSISSIPPI.
Before the Abandonment of Michilimackinac at St. Ignace, the Jesuits settled there had learned of a great river to the westward which flowed to the westward and southward, and conjectured that by it they might reach the South Sea (Pacific Ocean,) or at least the Gulf of Mexico. In 1663 an expedition set out from Michilimackinac to explore this river, at the head of which was Mons. Joliet, a talented and enterprising citizen of Quebec, and the Jesuit Marquette, a man whose mild virtues, and boundless enterprise, made him known and respected among all the tribes for a thousand miles around.
This expedition passed over to the south side of the straits, taking the Beaver Islands in its route, went up to the head of Green Ray, and up Fox river, till they approached the Wisconsin, where crossing over they descended the Wisconsin and the Mississippi as far as the mouth of the Arkansas, where, having no provisions, and unacquainted with the language or manners of the tribes below, they returned, convinced that the Mississippi flowed to the Gulf of Mexico. Their return was by the Illinois river.
No use was made of their discoveries by the Canadians, who lacked [Page 6] means to extend themselves in that direction. Nineteen years later Lasalle, a Norman living in Canada, under the patronage of the court of Versailles, passed up Lake Michigan and down the Illinois and Mississippi to its entrance into the gulf.–Previous to setting out on the Mississippi, Lasalle established several military posts on the route.
THE SECOND MICHILIMACKINAC.
The town at Point Michilimackinac, in the North East corner of Emmet county, was founded in 1681 by the same Marquette who had discovered the Mississippi, who preferred it to St. Ignace on account of its proximity to and land communication with the principal agricultural settlements, and its affording access and anchorage for large vessels; and possibly because he wished to separate the college and Indian establishments by some brief distance from the traders and soldiers.
A fort and chapel were built. It became the nucleus of an extensive fur trade, and was the Mercantile depot of the traders, and headquarters of trappers, traders, soldiers, missionaries, COURIER DES BOIS, and Indians of the far-reaching North West. During the entire period of the French dominion upon the Lakes, their energies were directed to the fur trade, and the original Courier des Bois were French emigrants, who volunteered in the service of the large fur companies, exploring the remotest inlets and streams, with their bark canoes laden with dry goods and trinkets, and Old Michilimackinac was the important interior settlement, the great central depot of these bold adventurers, as all the goods exchanged for fur’s along lake Superior, at Green Bay, in Illinois, and upon the banks of the Mississippi were here deposited for subsequent distribution.
The English, being rivals of the French in the fur trade, because anxious to secure a share of the traffic on the North Western lakes; and a trading expedition was therefore fitted out, and by the aid of the Fox Indians, arrived at Michilimackinac from Montreal through the Ottowa river.
From 1612 to 1760 the French held entire dominion of the central settlement, and of all the region “round about,” and although they built forts, chapels and a Jesuit college, and their missionaries from the most learned and polished order of the Church of Rome were abroad in this wilderness region, still, during the period of a century and a half, the paddles of the French fur traders and their EMPLOYEES alone disturbed the transparent waters of these inland seas and rivers, and the joyous boat songs of the COURIER DES Bois had no hostile or belligerent response from civilized man.
In 1760, after the surrender of Quebec, Michilimackinac, and other French possessions in Canada, fell into the hands of the British by capitulation; but the Indians adhered with un-purchasable fidelity to the French interest. The gorgeous ceremonial of the “Mother Church,” and the ready and cheerful amalgamation of the French with the Indians, pleased the eye, and secured the confidence of the “Native Americans.” The consequence was that as soon as the British became established upon these Lakes, the Indians, under the direction of Pontiac, the noble Algonquin chieftain, designed the overthrow of their power.
The Massacre of Old Fort Michilimackinac, and the demolition of the fort, took place on June 3, 1763, as planned by the master mind of Pontiac. The fort and area comprises two acres, and was enclosed by cedar pickets. Within the stockades were thirty houses, and a chapel, where mass was regularly celebrated by a Jesuit. The garrison consisted of ninety privates, two subalterns, and a commandant; and English traders and Canadian families made up the residue of the settlement. On the 2nd of June, 1763, about four hundred Indians lay around the fort, and the Chief with sixty warriors visited the English trader, Mr. Henry, and informed him they had been disturbed by the “noise of evil birds.” They had feathers thrust through their noses, faces painted, and hideous figures marked upon their bodies.
The third of June. 1763, was the birthday of the British King, and the [Page 7] Indians proposed to celebrate the event by a game of BAGGATIWAY, with bat and ball, between the Ojibewas and Sauks, for a high wager. The game was played by planting two posts in the ground, one mile apart; midway between the posts the game commenced, and the party driving the ball beyond the post of his adversary, obtained the victory. In this game the Indians had ingeniously and secretly combined, and agreed to throw the ball over the pickets in the heat of the sport, and then rush enmass after it, and thus gaining admission within the enclosure, to slaughter the garrison indiscriminately.
The commandant, Major Etherington, was present at the game, and bet on the side of the Ojibewas, and most of the garrison came without the pickets to witness the sport. The game commenced, and the interest and excitement of the spectators became intense–an Indian yell was given–the ball was knocked over the pickets–the Indians rushed in after it, and the salvage slaughter commenced. The English were cut down and scalped indiscriminately; many were held between the knees of the Indians and scalped while alive, and British blood was drank from the hollows of joined hands. Many bodies of the slain were boiled and eaten. Seventy of the English troops were killed and one trader, the rest were kept by the Ottowas until the peace and then ransomed at Montreal.
Only one white person escaped. This was a boy by the Willie of Tanner, who was carried to the Island of Mackinac, and hid in a cavern by an old Indian, who adopted him as son. This spot is pointed out and known as Tanner’s cave. Tanner lived to a great age and in 1822 published a memoir of these events, which is filled with romantic and horrible interest. A few years since, and when above eighty years of age, at Sault Ste Marie he murdered a Mr. Schoolcraft, brother of the celebrated J. L. Schoolcraft, and immediately disappeared, and has never been heard of since. His character partook largely of the bloody scenes in which his early days were spent.
Thus was the fort and the settlement of Michilimackinac demolished, which for eighty-two years had been the seat of the fur trade in the remote North West.
Pontiac, failing in his attack on Detroit, went to the west of Lake Michigan and rallied an immense army, who encountered a severe storm on Lake Michigan , and their canoes were broken in pieces against the rocks south of Death’s Door, and nearly all his warriors perished. Their destruction is written in hieroglyphics on the rocks. After this, Pontiac retired to Illinois where he was assassinated in 1767 by an Indian of the Peoria tribe.
Michilimackinac is now uninhabited. Some small fields remain to grass, and the ruins of the fortress are visible. It is a bold cape or promontory, making the most northern point of the Lower Peninsula . Though it has not a regular harbor, there is good anchorage both sides of the point, and whenever the country is settled around the straits it is likely to become a place of some importance.
The country immediately around was not favorable to settlement and very little land was cleared in its immediate vicinity. Considerable swamps lay between the town and all the settlements around Little Traverse and on Cheboygan river, through which roads were made with little difficulty. But as these swamps remained uncultivated, a considerable space intervened between the settlement of the traders and all the Indian establishments.–Thus the advantage of military protection was nearly sacrificed, to avoid the corruption of traders and soldiers.
After the abandonment of St. Ignace the Jesuits made their establishments farther south, and commenced civilizing the victorious Ojibwas, as they had previously the earlier inhabitants. Marquette ended his days on the Manistee river, where his grave is still pointed out; but their largest establishments continued to be in Emmet County, around Little Traverse Bay and on Beaver Island.
RAT, THE HURON.
In the various cruelties of war, such as murdering prisoners, the Indians were not a whit ahead of their more civilized neighbors. A scene of this kind was enacted at Old Point Michilimackinac, in which the French commandant practiced cruelty worthy of a savage, and the Huron chief, Rat, a cunning worthy of civilized diplomacy.
Denonville, Governor of New France, was engaged in a war with the Iroquois Indians, in the beginning of which he had been guilty of the outrage of seizing the Iroquois ambassadors and making galley slaves of them. The Hurons, ancient enemies of the Iroquois, were in alliance with the French, in the hope of destroying the Iroquois; but the French governor offered separately to treat with the Iroquois for peace. Rat arrived at Frontenac with a powerful body of Huron warriors and was there astonished to hear from the French commandant that negotiations were going on for peace, and indignant when required by the French to desist from attacking the Iroquois.
Concealing his indignation, he went with a band to ambush the Iroquois ambassadors on their way to Montreal. Many of them were killed. From the survivors he learned with feigned astonishment that a treaty was on foot, and that they were on their way to accomplish a permanent peace. He immediately dismissed all the prisoners but one, saying he should keep him to supply the place of a Huron killed in the fray.
Rat forthwith hastened to Michilimackinac and presented his prisoner to the French commandant, who, not knowing that the French were treating with the Iroquois, put him to death. He then released an old Iroquois, who had been for a short time a prisoner among the Hurons, who returned to his nation and informed them that while the French were amusing them with a treaty, they continued to take prisoners and murder them.
Cruelties of this kind were not uncommon, though few of them were attended with consequences of so great importance. The Iroquois renewed the war with great vigor, and the English taking this as a favorable occasion to destroy the French in Canada, joined them in an expedition for the reduction of Quebec.
By a must singular forecast, worthy of the highest order of political wisdom, the Iroquois concluded that if Quebec was conquered, the English, and not themselves, would reap the benefits of the victory. That with a European power each side of them, each would preserve them as a barrier against the other; but that if they helped destroy the French, the English, having no further need of them, would destroy them and take away their country; and on various pretences they abandoned the expedition, which failed. Thus the savages of the forest equaled in policy and determined the fate of the most polished nations of Europe. After the treaty of Ryswick restored peace to the Europeans, the Indians settled a permanent peace.
THE THIRD MICHILIMACKINAC.
After the destruction of the town at Old Michilimackinac, the English fixed on the site of the present town of Mackinac for a military and trading post. The sole reason for their preference of this spot was its facilities for offense and defense against the Indians. The first houses were built in 1767, three years subsequent to the bloody and successful attack under Pontiac. One rotten old building kept as a tippling shop, is pointed out to the traveler as the first house erected on the Island.
Mackinac Island is a barren pile of limestone, rising out of the water at the east end of the Straits of Michilimackinac, about two miles by three in extent, and rising to the height of some six hundred feet. Its shores rise so suddenly from the water as to be ascended with difficulty. Occasionally vast overhanging bluffs, two or three hundred feet high, frown upon the voyager. Each has its own particular legend and the place is rich in story, as well as in natural curiosities. The fort was built on the summit of the Island , and the town on a very narrow flat between the shore [Page 9] and bluff, at the southern extremity, in front of which is an open road, which serves the purpose of a harbor.
By the treaty acknowledging the independence of the United States, this fell to them; but the British did not evacuate it till 1796 or ’97, when they retired to Drummond Island and the Americans took possession of Mackinac. On the breaking out of the war of 1812, and before news of it reached the American commandant, a powerful force of British and Indians from Drummond took possession of the place without firing a gun.
Michael Dousman, of Mackinac, met them at the Cheneux, and piloted them to a favorable landing at the backside of the island, where with his own oxen he hauled their cannon up the hill. At break of day the British were discovered so well posted that resistance was deemed useless and the place was governed as a British province. Many of the inhabitants took the oath of allegiance to the British king. Others, who refused to do so, were retained as prisoners of war.
Dousman remained and became a member of the British municipality of Michilimackinac. In his defense it has been said that he did not go to meet the British, but in search of his brother, who was gone to Drummond, and had staid longer than was expected, and that he returned with the British by compulsion.–And upon the credit of this explanation he received 640 acres of land from the United States as the reward of his faithfulness to their cause. But the popular opinion has ever been against him, and his great wealth forty years subsequent to the imputed treachery scarcely screens him from open demonstrations of public indignation. Popular tradition among the residents even attributes his wealth to his treachery, and names a very high figure as the price of the treason.
The fall of Mackinac gave the British the control of all the Indian tribes above Detroit. The Americans made an attempt under Colonel Holmes to retake the place, but were repulsed with severe loss, and the place remained in the hands of the British till after the close of the war. The defeat of the Americans is attributed to an unfortunate delay after arriving in sight of the Island, during which the British were strengthened both by improving the works and by calling in numerous Ojibewa and Ottowa warriors to their assistance.
The Indian population of this section of country was at that time very great, and their agriculture furnished considerable quantities of corn to Michilimackinac.
After the war Mackinac became the principal station of the American Fur Company, and the headquarters of their immense business. Fifty thousand dollars were expended in the erection of their buildings. Three millions dollars worth of merchandise were annually introduced and distributed through the Indian country to exchange for furs. Not infrequently five hundred boats left Mackinac in a fleet, and as many as three thousand were employed by the company.
About the same time the United States erected valuable buildings for the Indian department. Two companies of soldiers garrisoned the place. The immense sums paid out by the government in supporting the military and Indian establishments, and by the fur company in conducting its extensive trade, called a considerable number of mechanics and small traders to Mackinac. With all these advantages, the settled population of Michilimackinac, including all the settlements between Saginaw and Green Bay, was but 819 in 1820, and only 923 in 1840. As these were times of great prosperity, during which Yankee enterprise first extended to this region, and the government disbursed more than a million of dollars in Mackinac, the result is conclusive that the place is badly located for business.
The Indians of this region at an early period were strongly attached to the French, who intermarried with them, and treated them as men, and in some respects as equals; but they most cordially hated the English. After the extension of the authority of the United States over the District of Michilimackinac, the [Page 10] Indian hatred for the English was transferred to the Americans with increased violence. The consequence was, that from the first settlement of the place till very recently no settlement could be made, except under the guns of the Fort.
The French, who, in this region are a mixed race, partaking more of the Indian than the European; and in latter periods some few adventuresome English in the employ of the Canadian fur traders, located among the Indians. There were small settlements of French at Saint Ignace, Gros Cap and Bois Blanc, partaking too much of the Indian character to be in serious danger of Indian hostilities. Except these, no settlements were made off the Island of Mackinac, and none would have been safe. To these facts alone are attributable the temporary and indifferent prosperity of the place.
Mackinac having been fixed on by Government as the principal military station of the Northwest, to which all other stations above Saint Clair river were but outposts; and the headquarters of the Indian department for the same region; as well as the principal depot of the immense commerce of the American Fur Company; there seemed to be every prospect of its becoming in a short time a large and flourishing town.
The limited extent and bold bluffs of Mackinac were favorable to military defense. The open road in front answered instead of a harbor for the very few vessels which visited the place only in the summer, and the immense fleet of boats in the fur trade could conveniently be hauled up on the shingle beach. When the same vessels visited Sault Ste Marie, Green Bay and Chicago, the situation of Mackinac for a central station of business was favorable, being on the route of vessels going to and returning from all the other points. It was also a favorable station for fitting out the fur trading fleets, both for Lake Superior and the Mississippi; the boats in that trade being adapted to narrow and shallow waters, and usually hauled out at every encamping.
The trade of Mackinac previous to1840 extended west as far as the Rocky Mountains, both by the route of Lake Superior and the Illinois and Missouri rivers. Incredible as it may seem to the present residents of Chicago, the boats, after coasting up the Lake to Chicago, crossed the prairies to the O’Plain, WITHOUT A PORTAGE, the water among the tall grass being then sufficient to float them. Gov. McKenzie, who recently died at Mayville, N. Y., once made the trip in a bark canoe by this route from Mackinac to Saint Louis in four days; where he purchased all the furs in market in advance of the report of a great improvement in the price in Europe; and made a clean profit of eighty thousand dollars on the operation.
Gen. Cass became Governor of Michigan in 1815, and soon after, by proclamation, erected the County of Michilimackinac, of which Mackinac became the seat of justice. The boundaries of this county were cast by the Cheboygan river, south by the Manistee, west by the Manistique and north by Canada. When Michigan became a state, it was extended west to the Menominee river and in 1840 south to Saginaw Bay, making the north line of township twenty across the state the south boundary of the jurisdiction of Michilimackinac County. The courts were held at Mackinac; and in the county, government affairs were so managed that the village of Mackinac monopolized all the offices; and though taxes were collected throughout the region, they were never expended out of the village. There was no post office, and no school (except Indian schools supported out of the Indian annuities) out of the village. Every imaginable species of patronage was heaped on the place, yet it would not grow.
DECAY OF MACKINAC.
Extraneous circumstances, and not natural advantages, made Mackinac. The island is barren. Not above three or four farms have been made there, though every inch of productive land has been put in requisition, and these make a small return for the labor of the husbandman. [Page 11] Only very high prices will justify their cultivation. There are better harbors on both shores of the straits than that of the island, which, as the country settles, must secure the local trade. Wood is obtained at great expense, having to be hauled nine to fifteen miles on the ice, and provisions bear an additional price, because brought from a distance.
Since the necessity of military protection has ceased, all these inconveniences can be avoided by settling at the points in the vicinity where better land bears a less price, and the facilities of commerce are greater, with the opportunity of agriculture and manufactures, which Mackinac never had. The attempt to make Mackinac a fashionable resort, never very successful, must fail entirely on the completion of the Sault Ste Marie Canal, and the opening of the Lake Superior country to visitors seeking summer retreats. The probability, almost certainty, of this event, has prevented the building of a single commodious house for boarders in Mackinac, old buildings long since erected for commercial and religious purposes being used instead.
The habits of the people are equally unfavorable to improvement, with the physical surroundings. Among the old settlers in former times money was obtained so easily, and success in business depended so little upon either industry or integrity, that habits of thrift and economical perseverance in business were scarcely possible. Among all the old settlers Michael Dousman alone has preserved such habits as are consistent with health or wealth; and a very large majority have shortened their days by dissipation, and died poor.
The poorer classes are excessively dissipated. Their only change is from dissipation to want, and from want to dissipation. Ten times more liquor is drank in Mackinac, than any other town of the same population.–Among the half breeds who formerly made most of the population, the deaths are as two to one birth, and the class are rapidly disappearing. The Irish, who are supplying their places, are running the same race.
The business of the American Fur Company has ceased. Their mansion is now the Grove House; the fur store is a warehouse, and the other buildings are going to decay.–The Protestant Mission has been abandoned. The county, shorn of its magnificent proportions, has lost its consequence by the growing up of other settlements in its vicinity of more enterprise and better prospects. The fishing business, which grew up at Mackinac, as its other trade was failing, is being rapidly transferred to other points more convenient to the fisheries.
The steamboats, which formerly stopped at no place in the region except Mackinac, now stop more at other points than there, and thus are gradually transferring local business to rival villages. The Indian payments are reduced to a trifle and will soon cease, and the fortress is reduced from an important military position to a mere hospital to recruit the health of soldiers long employed in sickly climates.
The progress of decay by these causes is stayed a little at present by the retail trade, and the very extensive sale of liquors. But the retail trade is preserved there only by the convenience of docks and storehouses, which will soon be supplied in rival places, and the sale of liquor impoverishes rather than enriches any place.
A Protestant Mission was established at Mackinac a few years after the war, at which the children of the traders and other residents of Mackinac and a few Indian children were educated. Religious services were had at the chapel of the Mission, and the reports of the Missionaries indicated some progress in religion. But the Indian boys educated there were not received in the society of the whites as equals, and wanted the capital to establish in business; and among the Indians they were so ignorant of the modes of procuring subsistence, and so effeminate as to be dependent and despised.
They fell into menial employments [Page 12] and dissipation, and soon died. The girls, unable to obtain respectable civilized husbands, and unfit for wives to the savages, were reduced to the necessity of becoming mistresses to white adventurers, by whom they were soon cast off to the chance of promiscuous prostitution or starvation. Disease and destitution rapidly carried them off. The Mission was long since abandoned. The chapel, an indifferent wooden building, has survived all its converts; and the better constructed Mission residence is now a popular boarding house.
The civilization of the Protestant Mission gave the Indians all the white man’s wants, with none of his means of gratifying them.–It brought before them every temptation of vice, with none of the means of resisting it. It cast upon the mere child of the Forest all the responsibilities of the highest order of civilized society, with none of its experience.
The fisheries of Michilimackinac were, to some extent, a source of subsistence to the Indians before the country was visited by Europeans. The Indians only fished on the shores, in the streams, and in the shallow inland Lakes. The first Frenchmen in this country introduced the French modes of fishing, by which the fish were pursued to the deep waters; and thus a supply was obtained all the year.
As early as 1824 small quantities of whitefish and trout began to be sent to Buffalo for market. In the space of thirty years this branch of trade has increased from two thousand barrels to two hundred and fifty thousand, of which it is supposed one-half are taken in what were formerly known us the Mackinac fisheries, extending from Death’s Door to Middle Channel. Formerly these were all taken to Mackinac, where they were repacked and sent to market. The merchants at Mackinac furnished the fishermen and purchased all their fish, and the entire profits of the business accrued to them.
The fishermen, until within a few years, were all Indians and Frenchmen, who lived in a state of barbarism and misery, and were almost, and in some instances quite slaves to the traders. Their summers were spent in wigwams of the worst kind on the Lake shores, nearly destitute of clothing, and not infrequently reduced to subsist on fish alone for weeks. The traders so conducted their business that the fishermen were generally in debt. But if by any means one had a continual run of good success, and got a little capital at command, he was induced to lay it out in whiskey, and return to the fishing grounds, where, with all his companions, he remained drunk till the supply was gone.
Gradually a few Americans and Irish went on to the fisheries. Some of these took with them small stocks for trade, and divided their time between trading and fishing. As these received their outfits from and sold their fish at Mackinac, it did not materially change the course of trade. But, taking the supply of intoxicating liquors more among the Indians, made their use more common and fatal. But these were men bred to civilization, who had gone among savages to get beyond the restraints of the law. They were the worst class of men, scattered among the most inoffensive and defenseless–and it is needless to say they let slip no opportunity of plundering them.
Numbers of them are known who boast of the amounts they have made by taking fish out of the open barrels of the Indians from night to night, and placing them in their own. On a fishery where a dozen Indians were engaged, they were often plundered in this way to the amount of one hundred barrels in a season. Since the Sault and Fox war the Indians did not dare resent these or greater outrages when discovered.
As a natural consequence, a set of outlaws and felons were scattered through the country, and found on all the fisheries, hated and feared, and living in security on plunder. The control of the fishing business gradually fell into the hands of this class of men, the merchants of Mackinac being their factors. These intermediates were no less formidable by [Page13] their crimes than their numbers, and their intimate connection with the Indians and mixed French and Indian. Over them they obtained all the influence of dependence and fear, strengthened by intimate association. In the hands of such men, the most productive inland fisheries in the world afforded only a miserable and uncertain subsistence to the fishermen, even through the summer.
In the winter the Indian fishermen retired to the various Indian towns, and the French to Mackinac. The Indians obtained a precarious subsistence by hunting, and the French did such labor as they could get to do for their board. That failing, they took what fish they could for food through the ice, and when reduced to starvation, as more or less were every winter, they fell back on the traders for support, who furnished them on credit. On these debts they were frequently sold, of which mention is made hereafter.
Since 1843 merchants and traders have established themselves at other stations, more convenient to the fisheries than Mackinac.–Most of the fishermen had their outfits of provisions, barrels of salt, and many were in debt also for boats, nets and the balances on their winter’s support at Mackinac. But the interlopers or traders at other stations, who made them no advances, carried on a trade ruinous to the Mackinac merchants, by purchasing the fish put up in their barrels and salt, and caught by men provisioned and furnished by them. Such were the habits of dissipation prevailing on the fishing grounds, that these frauds left the fishermen worse off at the close of every season; for they were destitute of credit, and dare not return to Mackinac.
This threw them more into the hands of the felons and outlaws, who infested the region. The losses incurred by these means have ruined several wealthy traders at Mackinac. With these losses, fishing trade is passing to other places, fast growing up, more convenient to the fisheries.
The new class of fishermen are persons of limited means, temperate habits, good morals, and persevering industry, from the best sections of the Northern States and Canada, who have come into the country to make it a permanent residence. They either make farms, or establish mechanic shops, in which they engage in productive labors, when not employed in fishing, and conduct their business as in the best regulated civilized societies.–Their fishing is resorted to, not from necessity, but as a resource of profit, and only pursued while more productive than other business.
Traders cannot make as much profit off this class of customers, but they take more fish with less labor, and, husbanding their means, are accumulating property, and rapidly improving the country. By these means more than half the trade of Mackinac has been transferred to Washington Harbor, Saint James, Saint John, Saint Helena, Duncan, Detour, and divers other places; and as every part of the fisheries is more accessible to some of these places than to Mackinac, the trade of Mackinac in fish must soon cease.
SLAVERY AND PEONAGE.
During the French occupation of the country, prisoners of war in the hands of the Indians were occasionally purchased by them, and detained as bondsmen. This was practiced to but a very limited extent, and never grew into a system.
After the country fell into the hands of the English, a very few Africans were brought from Albany for house servants. But it is doubtful whether their detention in slavery was justified by law. Some of the Ojibewa Indians have unmistakable marks of African blood. They may be descended either from these slaves, or from Spanish negroes, who came among them while they lived near the Gulf of Mexico.
While this country was governed as a part of the North West Territory, there was a law for selling into a bondage all vagrants and persons guilty of petty crimes, by which there existed a kind of slavery similar to the Peonage in Mexico. By a very liberal construction of the law, by the authorities of Mackinac, all poor debtors were held to be vagrants, and sold for the payment of their [Page 14] debts. And to avoid increasing the debt by the addition of costs, creditors frequently seized them without the interposition of Justice or Constable, and sold them at auction to the person who would take them for the least period of time and pay the debt.
Sales of this kind continued until 1836.–Though never sanctioned by law, it is doubtful whether the subjects of them could have obtained redress or escaped the bondage.–There were no persons who knew anything about law, or held any judicial authority within many hundred miles of them, except those who were interested in keeping up the system.
ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE.
The administration of justice in such a place as Mackinac, could not but be lax and irregular. Not tracing its history, the following incidents will show its character:–
Charles O’Malley, not the Irish Dragoon, but the Irish Justice, was hearing a cause, in which Michael Dousman was defendant.–Dousman, a little litigious, but shrewd, prudent and persevering, prided himself on his ability to conduct a suit with success. But in O’Malley’s Court it was well understood that defendants stood no chance. Dousman’s dissatisfaction got the better of him for a moment, and he dropped some remark which O’Malley construed as contempt, and admonished him sharply. Dousman was silent and the matter passed by.
But a few months after a dispute sprung up between them on Dousman’s wharf and O’Malley went to his office and made out a warrant for committing him to prison for a contempt on this stale transaction. Dousman lay in prison several days, but was finally brought up on a HABEAS CORPUS, and discharged.
In 1850 Mr. Strang, the Mormon prophet, was before the same O’Malley, charged with driving a prostitute off from Beaver Island by threatening her with personal chastisement.–The witnesses for the prosecution failed to prove any threatening words. O’Malley recalled one of them, and asked him if he understood Mr. Strang to MEAN that she should be chastised, or rode on the back of a black ram, if she would not leave the Island’?”–Mr. Strang said, “Please your honor, I object;” and for this Mr. Strang was committed to prison FOR LIFE, for a contempt of Court, without further parley, or even making out a mittimus.
He then proceeded with the trial in the absence of Mr. Strang, and without bringing him up to hear judgment, adjudged that he be imprisoned a year for want of sureties in the sum of ten thousand dollars to keep the peace.–Whether this year was to run with the other term, or after the expiration of it, the warrant did not show.
From both these commitments Mr. Strang was discharged, on the return of a HABEAS CORPUS in the evening. But before nine o’clock O’Malley had him again arrested, brought before him, and again COMMITTED FOR LIFE, without swearing a witness. It is presumed that O’Malley did not in fact intend to imprison Mr. Strang for life, but to detain him prisoner till he thought proper to discharge him.
The old traders at Mackinac were in the regular practice of seizing poor debtors without suit, and thrusting them into the County jail, until the debt was paid or satisfactorily secured. In 1842 the right of creditors thus to imprison their debtors on their own verbal process, was seriously claimed and contested, on the return of a writ of HABEAS CORPUS. But the discharge of the prisoner put an end to the practice.
The most profitable, and at the same time, the most ruinous trade Mackinac ever had is that of Whiskey. Indian Whiskey is made by putting two gallons of common Whiskey, or un-rectified spirits, to thirty gallons of water, and adding red pepper enough to make it fiery, and tobacco enough to make it intoxicating. Its cost is not above five cents per gallon.–Thousands of barrels have been sold every year, the prices generally being fifty cents a gallon by the cask, twenty-five [Page 15] cents a quart by the bottle, and six cents a drink.
More than half the fish taken by the Indians for thirty years have been paid for in this article, and more than half the annuities they have received from the United States have been laid out in the purchase of it. The most wealthy and respectable traders have not been ashamed to deal in it. The outlaws and felons who found a hiding place in the country, were seldom without a supply of it; and being the instruments of wealthy traders in disposing of it, became in some degree necessary to their success in business, and thus secured their protection. By their means the horrors produced by this trade were kept out of Mackinac until the place became filled with an unprincipled class of small traders, who had as little regard to appearance as their more wealthy competitors had to integrity.
The trade in spirituous liquors has lately met with a severe check. In 1847 the Beaver Islands were erected into the township of Peaine, and in 1851 a law was passed prohibiting the sale of intoxicating liquors, except by such traders as should enter into bonds with good sureties to make good all damages which should happen by the use of the liquors sold. This law the township of Peaine enforced. No trader there could give the security, because the citizens combined to suppress the trade; and as the best fisheries are in that township, the effect of it was a sensible improvement in the condition of the Indian fishermen, and a material change in the class of whites engaged in the business.
A great effort was made to prevent the enforcement of the law, and as the officers of the township of Peaine were all Mormons, against whom a strong prejudice exists, the act was generally condemned throughout the country. Sympathy was got up for those who were fined for the violation of the law, and the proceedings of the Constables in collecting the fines were spoken of in the newspapers as acts of robbery. But the officers were firm in their duty, and the consequence was a most marked improvement in the state of society.
In 1853 the county of Emmet was erected, extending over all the fisheries west of Old Michilimackinac, and north of the Grand Traverse Light, as far as the Wisconsin boundary; and in the spring before the traders came on with their supplies the officers gave notice through the newspapers published at the County seat of their intention to prosecute in every case of violation of the law within the county. On the appearing of this notice in Mackinac a public meeting was called on a notice signed by the Supervisor and Four Justices of the Peace of the town, and the District Attorney of the Upper Peninsula, to devise measures for resistance. At the meeting held in pursuance of this notice the District Attorney presided, and one of the Justices was Secretary. Resolutions were passed denouncing the people of Emmet County as felons and robbers, condemning the Legislature for erecting the County, threatening armed resistance to the public authorities, and pledging military aid to such transitory traders and fishermen in Emmet as should resist the law.
By their influence, seventy misguided men fishing and trading at Pine River, in Emmet County, were induced to fire on the Sheriff and his boatmen, while he was engaged in summoning Jurors. Six men were wounded, and it was a marvel that they were not all killed. The guilty parties fled the country, and the traffic was generally abandoned in the county, except at the Summer Islands, and is likely to be suppressed there.
The Missionaries at Grand and Little Traverse had kept the whiskey trade away from the Indians under their influence, by inducing the Indians to go in a body and spill all liquor brought there for sale. At the time of the crusade against the Mormons of Beaver Island in 1851, they joined in it; and on the result of that fray, favorable to the Mormons, Grand Traverse Bay became the refuge of numerous outlaws and felons, who have, in some instances, sustained themselves in their nefarious business by violence. In one instance, they kidnapped the constable [Page 16] sent to arrest them, and carried him to Green Bay. The rapid settlement of that place is likely to produce a better order there. The Maine Law has just been adopted, and whatever may be its effect in other parts of the State, it is sure to be enforced in Emmet county, which includes half the fisheries south of Sault Ste Marie.
The payment of Indian annuities at Mackinac began a little subsequent to the war of 1812, and will continue until 1856, when the last expires. They have sometimes amounted to as much as $100,000 a year, but are now only $20 or $30,000.
The practice is to send word to the several bands some weeks before the payment is to take place, and call them in. While waiting for the arrival of the agent, they expend all their means, suffer much of hunger, and usually obtain considerable supplies on credit, for which they are charged two or three prices.–As soon as the payment is made, the Indians have a Saturnalia, out viewing the carnival in the darkest places of Paris or Naples, which usually lasts until their money is expended and their provisions either eaten up or exchanged for whiskey and drink; when, on the first favorable wind, they strike their encampment, launch their boats, and return home poorer than when they left.
Formerly the money was paid to each chief for his band. Before going to get drunk the chiefs deposited most of the money, uncounted, with some trusty white man, usually the trader with whom he dealt, only keeping what amount he wished to drink up. The banker in these cases paid himself whatever he had advanced to the Indians before receiving their annuities, and such commission as he thought proper for the safe keeping of the money. Allowing these bankers to tell their own story, the commission was oftener above than below twenty-five per cent. The Indians were not able to count the money, and at the end of the Saturnalia, ill qualified to judge whether well or ill dealt by.
As a few large traders monopolized this business, and acted in concert, they thus secured a settlement of all balances against the Indians, in cash, once every year, and besides plunder outright, two or three hundred per cent, profit on every article sold.
This state of things was unendurable to the class of small traders, who had no share in it; and they procured such a change of the law that the annuities were paid to the head of every family, instead of the chiefs of the bands. By this means all had a chance at the plunder, and measures still more scandalous were resorted to obtain it.
Some of the Indians, as soon as they receive their annuities, hand the money to their wives for safe keeping. The squaw immediately divides it into several sums, each of which is appropriated to a particular use, and the last she gives to her husband to get drunk on. In these cases, though the husband frequently returns for more money, and sometimes beats his wife to compel her to give him his money, it is generally securely guarded, and faithfully appropriated, according to the original intention.
Notwithstanding a considerable number of cases of this kind, the annuities are a curse to the Indians. Take all the bands together and they return home with less means than they set out with, and on an average they are from home six weeks, at a season of the year when fishing is good, and potatoes and corn require harvesting. Not a few have lost their lives returning home in boisterous weather, and weakened by intoxication.
DIVISION OF COUNTIES.
Michilimackinac County always had a Representative in the State Legislature, and for many years the only one from the upper part of the State. By courtesy all local matters affecting the upper country have been disposed of without opposition, according to the wish of the one or two Representatives from there.
Notwithstanding this fact, when in 1840 the Lower Peninsula was laid off into Counties, the two Counties of Emmet and Cheboygan overlapped and covered Michilimackinac; and [Page 17] for three years it continued in existence, not as an actual county, but as an aggregation of unorganized counties, possessing temporary municipal authority under that name.
In 1843, when the Upper Peninsula was divided into counties, Michilimackinac was reestablished. But though this Act was drawn up by Wm. N. McLeod, the ablest representative Mackinac ever had, it was so worded as to bound Michilimackinac “along the margin of the Lake,” leaving the entire waters in Emmet and Cheboygan; and though Mackinac was never without a Representative, no proposition was ever made to change this boundary, till a bill for that purpose was introduced into the Legislature of 1853, by Mr. Strang, member from Emmet. It is also unfortunate for the village of Mackinac that the County extends only to the North of the Straits, where the land is generally unfit for settlement, instead of the South, where much of it is of the first quality, and equally contiguous. This was produced by the ignorance and carelessness of the members, who could have had it different by only asking it.
The erection of the County of Michilimackinac left Emmet with but five townships, and Cheboygan but nine, according to the United States surveys. Consequently, when these counties were organized in 1853, they were doubled up by adding Charlevoix to Emmet, and Wyandot to Cheboygan, and making a slight change in the boundary between Emmet and Cheboygan, by means of which Emmet now consists of twenty-two townships, and Cheboygan of twenty-three, being about an average with the counties in the best populated parts of the State. This extension of the boundaries of the two counties has been much complained of at Mackinac, though for what reason it is difficult to imagine, for it does not have the slightest effect on that county. The real complaint, doubtless, is that these counties were authorized to organize at all. Mackinac is too much used to being all, and in all; and too little able to bear competition, to be willing to see any other place of business in her vicinity.
The southern boundary of Michilimackinac leaving the waters of that county within the body of the counties of Emmet and Cheboygan, is, to say the least, manifestly improper. But the people of Mackinac should be the last to complain of it; for the bill establishing it was drawn up and introduced by their Representative, and since that time no complaint was ever made of it till 1853, when, seeking a pretence to complain of the Legislature for authorizing the organization of three new counties in their vicinity, they ignorantly charged them with an error committed ten years before. By the same species of blundering the Islands lying between Drummond and Saint Joseph Island, twenty-four in number, and none more than two hundred acres in extent, which, by the Act of 1840, were included in Cheboygan County, were left out of Chippewa when its boundaries were determined in 1843, and remained a part of Cheboygan till the act organizing the township of Drummond, declared them a part of Chippewa.
And Manitue, Huron, Granite and numerous other small Islands in Lake Superior , were included in Emmet by the Act of 1840. The Act of 1843, laying off the Upper Peninsula into counties, does not extend to them, and they remained in Emmet. Unless, by remote implication, the Constitution of 1850 has taken them out of Emmet, they yet remain a part of it. And if they are not a part of Emmet, then they are not in any County; and it is doubtful whether any court can take jurisdiction of crimes committed there.
It is not improbable that some most serious difficulty may yet grow out of this blundering Legislation. But the fault lies entirely at the doors of the Representatives from the upper country: for the members from below, conscious they could not judge of the local wants of a country so remote, have voted for it such measures as its Representatives introduced.
In 1851 an attempt was made to erect the new County of Grand Traverse, out of the unorganized County of Omeena. John D. Irvine, member from Mackinac, introduced the bill, which was passed; but containing [Page 18] no provision for dividing the county into townships, it was impossible to organize. In 1853 this defect was remedied, and the County enlarged to the original bounds of Omeena. At the same time all the Counties within the Lower Peninsula, formerly attached to Mackinac, were detached and attached to Grand Traverse, Cheboygan and Saginaw.
Wyandot and Cheboygan Counties were laid off in 1840, but not organized till 1853, when they were united in one and organized. At the time of organizing, so much of Cheboygan as was in range four West, was cut off and added to Emmet, for the purpose of making the boundary between them a straight line.
The County seat of Cheboygan is at the village of Duncan, on a beautiful Bay, at the junction of the South channel of the Straits of Michilimackinac with Lake Huron. Here is a large steam saw mill, owned by J. Duncan, Esq., of Chicago, and a good wharf for steamboats. About a mile to the West; at the mouth of Cheboygan river, is another steam mill; and a mile up the River is another, driven by water power, also owned by Mr. Duncan. The mouth of the River makes a secure harbor for small vessels. Along its West bank is a beautiful and flourishing village.–The branches of the Cheboygan, and the various lakes that outlet through it, furnishes an excellent inland navigation of 150 miles in extent, through the best agricultural soil in the State of Michigan.
The settlement of Cheboygan was begun by Alexander McLeod, who built the water mill in 1847, and now extends in the interior to the center of the county. But the most desirable locations remain government land. The old Jesuit missions had a number of villages, with extensive and well cultivated plantations, up the Cheboygan and its branches, and especially on the banks of the Lakes. Some of these are now occupied by Indian villages, others are grown up to forests. But a portion yet remains fields of grass, or covered with small hushes.
These locations are all accessible by boats of thirty or forty tons burthen, which can start from the saw mill, forty rods above where small lake vessels land, or two miles from the steamboat wharf. The river, being from fifteen to sixty rods in width, and very deep, affords one of the best and cheapest navigation in the world.
The soil of the inland sections contains every variety of lime, clay, sand, &c., and is generally overlaid with a rich deep vegetable mold. It is naturally inexhaustible and much of it easily cleared and cultivated.–Along Lake Huron it is poor and swampy.
The prevailing timber is white pine, white and black oak, sugar maple, beech, elm, lynn, ash, &c, Norway pine, spruce, fir, hemlock, black ash, ironwood and numerous other varieties are found. The pine is not found in extensive forests, but in small groves, or scattered among hard timber in the proportion of eight or ten trees to the acre. Beech, maple and oak are found in vast forests, on very level plains, elevated twenty to fifty feet above the streams. The various evergreens, except pine, grow in swampy land, and along the slope banks of the streams.
Lumbering has heretofore been the principal business of Cheboygan County. But the village of Duncan must soon be the principal place of trade on the Straits of Michilimackinac. Situated on the South Channel, steamboats plying between the upper and lower cities of the Lakes save several miles by stopping at Duncan instead of Mackinac. Being on the main land, the business of the country can reach it easier and with less expense. It can furnish wood to the steamboats at the lowest price, and Mackinac cannot at all.
Cheboygan County, which must do all its trade there, is without doubt the very best county for agriculture in the State; and its fisheries are considerable. The day is not distant when goods and passengers destined for Mackinac will be landed from steamboats on the wharfs at Duncan, and reshipped on the small sail vessels employed on the fisheries. Many of the first settlers of Cheboygan [Page 19] were not of the best class. They partake too much of the characteristics of Mackinac. But they are of the more industrious class from that place, and circumstances favor their improvement. There is a good prospect of a regular and considerable emigration of the most industrious classes from the eastern and middle states, of a decrease of drinking and dissipation, and a real and substantial improvement in society. Few if any of the counties of the states ever began with brighter prospects than Cheboygan.
GRAND TRAVERSE COUNTY.
The country around Grand Traverse Bay has for several centuries been a favorite residence of the Indians. The supply of game was always good, and of fish abundant. The climate is very mild for the latitude, and the soil productive.
At an early period the Jesuit missions made considerable progress there. Both the apple and peach planted by them are now found growing wild, and are flourishing. The fruit, though, inferior in quality to the cultivated, is, nevertheless, of considerable value. Since the Indians of Michigan have generally emigrated beyond the Mississippi, an effort has been made to concentrate those who remain around Grand Traverse, and improve their condition. This attempt has entirely failed, as it ever must, while the execution of it is entrusted to persons feeling no particular interest in the fate of the Indians, and receiving office as the reward of political services.
At the present time there are a number of small Indian villages around Grand Traverse, engaged part of the year in agriculture and part in hunting. Their number is not increasing. Pulmonary diseases are very common and fatal. At different villages are stationed school teachers, farmers and mechanics, appointed by the Government of the United States, to instruct the Indians.
As often as a new administration comes in, these appointments are changed. For twenty years past most of the incumbents have become so much attached to the country as to remain there on going out of office. Some few years since the then unorganized Counties of Leelanau, Omeena and Antrim were organized as a township of the County of Michilimackinac, by the name of Omeena.
About this time two saw mills were built, and the business of manufacturing lumber for Chicago market commenced. This gave a little impetus to settlement. In 1851 Messrs. Hannah, Lay & Co., of Chicago, erected a large steam mill at the West head of Grand Traverse Bay. The same year an Act was passed erecting the County of Grand Traverse out of a portion of the territory of the unorganized County of Omeena. The balance of Omeena, Leelanau and Antrim remained the township of Omeena; but no provision was contained in the Act for organizing a township, choosing inspectors of election, levying taxes, or forming jury lists. It was, therefore, impossible to organize the County, and it remained destitute of legal government or judicial authority till 1853.
Many of the outlaws who had been engaged in the unsuccessful attempt to expel the Mormons from Beaver Island, resorted to Grand Traverse, and for a time lawlessness and violence run riot, except at the mills, where the influence of the proprietors answered instead of law. A gang of these villains, located just within the Bay, and ostensibly engaged in fishing, made frequent trips to the head of Beaver, where, loading their boats with such plunder as they could seize upon, they went on with the same wind to some uninhabited Island and waited a fair wind to return.
Occasionally their trips were extended to the fisheries off Pointe Seul Choix, and they returned to Hog and Hat Islands for concealment. These excursions were made in the night, laying by at uninhabited places through the day; and as their depredations were committed in the neighborhood of the Mormon settlements, and the usual prejudices against the Mormons were greatly aggravated by the late events, they generally succeeded in charging their crimes to them.
Old settlers in the country understood the matter, but they were interested in increasing the prejudice against the Mormons. New comers, traders and fishers, and the people generally throughout the United States were willingly deceived, and gladly; without evidence, believed the Mormons the guilty parties, though at that time they were destitute of the necessary boats for any such undertakings, and were in extreme want of quiet, and to the last degree anxious to avoid further excitement.
At the same time the settlements near the head of the Bay were receiving accessions of some industrious and enterprising emigrants. In 1853 an Act passed the Legislature extending the boundary so as to make it coincident with the original unorganized County of Omeena, dividing it into townships, attaching the contiguous unorganized Counties, and providing for a full legal organization.
The first visible effect of this Act is ridding the place of a few of its most undesirable inhabitants, and a great increase of a better class of emigrants. Improvements are rapidly progressing, and both agriculture and the manufacture of lumber are being carried on with success.
The pineries around Grand Traverse are extensive. There is also considerable white oak of an excellent quality. About half the land, distributed in tracts of considerable extent, is of an excellent quality for agriculture. The rest is pine plains and cedar swamps. These are covered with valuable timber, which will not be exhausted in many years. As the timber disappears, this land will also be found susceptible of a high state of cultivation.
Grand Traverse is the most beautiful bay in Michigan, and little excelled in mild chaste beauty anywhere. Its shores are bold, and there is considerable high land around it. It is sprinkled with islands, and its shores notched with bays and harbors. Indeed, all Grand Traverse answers the purpose of a harbor. The Bay is rarely obstructed with ice. Except in very severe winters, no ice forms there.
A road has been opened from the County Seat, at the West head of the Bay to the Muskegon river, and by this route all the towns from Grand Traverse to Lake Superior are supplied with mails during the winter. Any rood hereafter made from the lower part of the State to the Straits of Michilimackinac is sure to take Grand Traverse in its route.
Grand Traverse is getting a good emigration by water. But a strong tide of emigration is now settling to the north from Grand Rapids, which will soon fill Grand Traverse County with settlers. Steamboats begin to enter the Bay occasionally, and a very little addition to its business will call them in regularly. These facilities of communication will make settlement easy and desirable.
In 1840 the County of Tonedegana was laid off, consisting of that part of the state north of township thirty-six north and west of range four west, and the County of Kishkonko, consisting of that part of the state between Tonedegana on the north, and township thirty-two on the south, and west of range three west.
In 1843 these names were changed to Emmet and Charlevoix: and Delta and Michilimackinac were cut off on the north, leaving their northern boundary along the northern margin of Green Bay and Lake Michigan . These counties remained unorganized and attached to Michilimackinac till 1853.
In 1847 the Beaver Islands were erected into a township, by the name of Peaine. In the course of that year three meetings were held to elect township officers, but did not succeed in affecting a regular organization.
At the time this Act was passed there were three white families temporarily settled in the township, as well as four or five white men with Indian wives, and several French half-breeds; and twenty or thirty single men, and men who had families elsewhere, were spending the winter at Beaver.
But township organization was not sought by them. It was granted at the instance of Col. Fisk, of Rochester, N. Y., who had commenced a fishing establishment on a large [Page 21] scale, and, with his associates, had invested ten thousand dollars in improvements and outfit, at the harbor of Beaver Island.
These men succeeded in monopolizing all the offices, though they neglected to attend to the public business until 1850, when the Mormons elected a majority of the officers, and in 1851 they elected all the officers, and have since continued to do so.
In 1853 the counties of Emmet and Charlevoix were united in one, and organized under the name of Emmet. So much of Cheboygan County as lay in range four West, was included in the new County, and also Grand Traverse Bay, part of Lake Michigan, and some small Islands not before included in any County.
It was understood by every member of the Legislature when the Act was passed for the organization of this County, that nearly its entire population were Mormons, and that the legal administration of all its affairs would be in their hands. It was equally understood that they intended to emigrate to and settle the County, with a view to permanently occupy and control it.
Mr. Strang, the Mormon prophet and leader, was a member of the House, and introduced and advocated the bill, and so far did his preence and personal acquaintance with him serve to allay prejudice, that the Act passed by a vote almost unanimous. Seven votes only were recorded against it in the House.
The County was divided into three townships. Its organization was perfected in May. All its affairs have been conducted in strict accordance with the law, and for order and regularity it is an example worthy the imitation of most of the old Counties.
INDIAN POPULATION OF EMMET.
There are in Emmet five Indian villages–Garden Island, Cross Village, Middle Village, Le Arbor Croche, and Bear Village, containing in all a population of about two thousand.
The Garden Island Indians formerly resided on the North end of Beaver Island, and have removed to Garden within six years. A majority of the males and many of the females can read, and some of them write in their own language. Very few, none but the children, speak English. They are skillful fishermen, and pay some attention to agriculture and the mechanic arts. A few years ago they were excessively dissipated; but now, owing to the suppression of the liquor trade, are sober and industrious. They are in better circumstances than any other band in the State.
A Roman Catholic Priest visits them once a year. They have a church, and are very devout. In the absence of the Priest, one of the head men reads service. A few, however, remain Pagans.
Cross Village lies on the top of a high bluff, at the bottom of the broad Bay South of Point Waugo-shance. A Roman Catholic Priest resides there, who receives his support from the United States, under the character of a school teacher. The Indians at Cross Village are considerable farmers, and keep many horses and some cattle. They are respectable workmen at house building, boat building and coopering, and have a saw mill. Changing frequently from the well constructed houses to the hunter’s camp, pulmonary diseases prevail.
Middle Village is on the bluff back of Isle le Galet (Skillagalee) light house, and is much such a place as Cross Village.
Near the head of Little Traverse, and upon a splendid harbor that makes up in the North side of the Bay, is Le Arbor Croche, the best located and most thriving of all the Indian towns in the State. All the Indians in the County have lands, which they have purchased of the United States. But these are the most extensive proprietors. They raise considerable quantities of corn and potatoes for sale, and, besides the business and employment common among the Indians, have a well built vessel of thirty or forty tons burthen, constructed, owned and navigated by themselves.
Bear Village is on the South side of Little Traverse, and is an out station of Le Arbor Croche. Its agriculture is considerable. All these villages are engaged in fishing a part of the year. The fisheries along the [Page 22] east shore are not very productive. Some seasons they come from there to Beaver, to the number of one hundred boats. Many of the streams and inland lakes furnish considerable quantities for domestic use, and during the winter more or less are taken through the ice.
MORMON SETTLEMENT IN EMMET.
Mr. Strang, the leader of the Mormons at Voree, in Wisconsin, fixed on the Islands in Lake Michigan as a place for a Mormon community in 1846. The 11th May, 1847 , he, accompanied by four others, Gurdon Brown, Nathan Wagner, R. Frederick Mills, and Wm. Savage arrived at Beaver Island to explore it, and prepare for settlement. It is worthy of remark, that they were so destitute of means for the undertaking that they were, obliged to sell their blankets to pay their passage on the little hooker that landed them there, and went ashore with less than two days provision and not one cent of money.
Alva Cable had a trading house on Whiskey Point, and the Rochester North West Company, of which Col. Fisk was president, had one on the back side of the harbor, They were not well received at these houses, and went into the woods and made a camp of hemlock boughs, and commenced a thorough exploration of the Island, living principally on leeks and beechnuts.
This perseverance, where men who would work at all were obtained with difficulty, soon got them employment–a stock of provisions and the use of a boat. After making a most thorough exploration of the group and building a cabin, Strang, Savage and Wagner returned to Voree. Brown and Mills remained and are the first Mormons settled on Beaver Island.
In the course of that summer several families moved to the Island, but became dissatisfied with the prospects and left. At the setting in of winter the Mormon population consisted of five men and their families, in all eighteen persons. A few persons left for the winter, intending to return in the spring.–The following winter the Mormon population had increased to sixty-two persons, of whom seventeen were men.
The lands were brought into market in 1848. At the land sale was the first positive demonstration of an intention by the other inhabitants to dispossess the Mormons. They got notice of the land sale first. It being the season of fishing they were quite numerous.–Each one marked his claim on the best quarter section he could find. After this they proposed that every claim, whether occupied or not, should be respected at the sale, and no one buy another’s claim, whether the claimant was able to enter it or not. This was agreed to by all, when it was ascertained by the Mormons that all the most desirable locations were covered by claims, many of them merely fictitious, which, under the circumstances they were not at liberty to disregard.
Very little land was entered at the sale, few being able to spare the money, and all satisfied that this arrangement would be faithfully regarded. But Thomas and Samuel Bennett entered three lots of fine land; on which several Mormons had made valuable improvements and built houses. They were without remedy and gave up the land with the improvements, and without harvesting the crops.–The Mormons only got one small lot at the harbor, by buying out a claim; when, by doing as they were done by, they might with five hundred dollars; have purchased property worth as many thousands.
There was another robbery of this kind, equally scandalous. Randolph Densmore and E. J. Moore, the resident agents of the North West Company, of Rochester, divided the possessions of the company between themselves, and entered them in their own names, by which the stockholders residing at Rochester were defrauded of their improvements, worth at the time not less than ten thousand dollars. This broke up the company, and the same men being in possession of considerable amounts of personal property belonging to the stockholders, also converted that to their own use.
The shares in this company were but twenty-five dollars, and, at that distance from the scene of action, the facts were not within reach of the injured parties, and they submitted to the loss rather than to go to law. This having occurred at Beaver Island, rendered famous by the numerous outrages charged to the Mormons, it has in some way been attributed to them in the public mind, though done by violent enemies of theirs. Moore afterwards joined the Mormons, but was a mere hypocrite, hoping to make money out of them; and directly turned against them, as in the beginning.
During the summer of 1849 the Mormon emigration to Beaver Island was considerable. Until then they had only engaged in such labor as they could find to do for traders and others around the Harbor. But at that time they commenced making a road through the swamp into the interior of the Island , where the land is adapted to agriculture, and several families settled in the interior. A steam saw mill was also commenced and a small schooner built. Three companies of emigrants came from Voree, amounting in all to about one hundred persons.
This season the Captains of steam boats were found generally using their influence in opposition to the settlement. Emigrants ticketed for Beaver were persuaded by every imaginable species of misrepresentation to go by into Wisconsin. When persuasion failed, they frequently refused to stop in pursuance of their contracts, and carried them by without their consent. Fifty-four emigrants from Otsego County, New York, took passage on the Steamer Empire State, on a special contract to be landed at Beaver. The boat passed Beaver Harbor in the day time, running along close to the Island, with very fine weather, but refused to land.
Some of these boats had contracted for their wood at the Manitou Islands, and wished to avoid making two stops. But those which stopped at Beaver were still more unjust to their passengers. They were undoubtedly acting at the instigation of the traders and fishermen, in the effort to defeat the settlement of the Mormons at Beaver. Their conduct can be accounted for in no other way. During that one season more than one hundred persons, who started for Beaver, were, by such means, either persuaded or compelled to land at some other place. The same practice has been resorted to subsequent years, but with less success.
A conference was held at Saint James in 1849, at which most of the leading members were present, and a considerable delegation from many of the distant churches, the effect of which was a more favorable impression of the place, and confidence in its prospects.–Twelve Elders went on various missions, with directions to return in the spring with their converts to Beaver.
The large emigration of this year was mostly of persons of the poorer class. As winter approached, some misapprehension was felt lest they should be unable to lay in a supply of provisions. The traders were A. Cable and three associates, and Densnmore and Ward, at the Harbor, and J. Cable at the head of the Island. Late in the fall they announced that they should sell no provisions to the Mormons the following winter, and advised those who had not a supply to remove. Samuel Graham, a Mormon supposed to be possessed of considerable means, undertook to make up the deficiency; and take his pay in erecting buildings and cutting steamboat wood. Many families who had not a supply for one month, remained on this undertaking. But not one ounce came.
Fortunately, Samuel Shaw went to Chicago and engaged a cargo of timber to a lumber firm, and got them to send a vessel to winter in the Harbor, with provisions to pay for the timber as fast as it was made.
This made a sufficient supply; and the same traders immediately offered to sell large amounts to the Mormons, at low prices, and so sharply did they press the competition, that Mr. Shaw found it difficult to make out his cargo.
In 1849 the Mormons commenced building a house of worship, since known as the Tabernacle. During [Page 24] the winter of 1849-’50, while several men were engaged in getting out timber from this building, a large company of men came from Whiskey Point and drove them from their work. One of the Mormons, Spaulding Lewis, who refused to quit work, was severely beaten.
During the same winter a debating school was instituted by the Mormons, but others came in, and by rude and filthy conduct, sometimes accompanied with threats of violence, broke it up. At a social party, new years, a large number came in uninvited, but promising to conduct with propriety, but before leaving they beat two of the Mormons, pretending to no other reason than that they were “Damned Mormons.”
A mail came in, in the course of the winter, and when the Mormons called for their letters, they received every manner of insult. Some were struck, and some had letters taken from them before they left the office. Fishermen, pretending to be drunk, went to the houses of the Mormons when the men were absent, and exposed their persons in a beastly manner, accompanied with vile language and threats of violence.
Mr. Strang had left a cow on the Island for the use of a poor woman, afflicted with palsy. A fisherman of the name of Frazier, wintering on the Island, drove her off and sold her to another fisherman, named Patrick Sullivan, who, knowing the circumstances, said he “would kill any damned Mormon who came for her.”
The effect of all these aggressions was a decided animosity between the Mormons and their neighbors. The distinction of Mormon and Gentile came into use, and a line of distinction in society became visible and broad. However the Mormons neither resisted nor retaliated. Until the spring of 1850 they adhered strictly to the rule of non-resistance to violence, and a patient endurance of whatever injuries and persecutions were inflicted upon them.
The spring of 1850 brought a large emigration of Mormons to Beaver. The various missionaries returned, generally accompanied with a goodly number of followers. A large company came down from Voree, and the leading men of the church removed with their families, intending to make Saint James the permanent headquarters of the church.
These emigrants generally had to land at Whiskey Point, then in possession of Peter McKinley, successor to Alva Cable. They were frequently met with threats on the boat’s deck, and always on the wharf. A dozen men would generally surround a family of emigrants and order them back on the boat, telling them that they were preparing to drive off and kill all the Mormons, and had combined to prevent any more landing. There was a wharf on the west side of the Harbor, where boats might have landed the emigrants in the vicinity of the Mormon settlements, but most of them refused to do so. These demonstrations were the means of keeping away many emigrants, notwithstanding which they increased to between six and seven hundred.
RESISTANCE OF AGGRESSION BY THE MORMONS.
At this time there was a marked change in the policy of the Mormons. They publicly announced that they should submit to injury and aggression no longer–that they would return blow for blow and stroke for stroke, and would punish every man who insulted or intruded upon them.
On different occasions fishermen and sailors went to their meetings for the avowed purpose of interrupting them in the course of worship. All these attempts were suppressed with a strong hand. Guards attended all the meetings. When strangers came in they were seated, so as to disperse them through the congregation. As the guard walked up and down the aisles, with heavy canes, the first show of disturbance was the signal for dragging out the guilty party, without waiting for parley or apology. Not a word was heard in extenuation. If any associate rose to aid or even speak for his companion in mischief, it was but the signal to drag him out. Two or three exhibitions of this resolution put an end to this mode of disturbing meetings. But as the Mormons began at this time to keep [Page 25] Saturday as the Sabbath, the Gentile teamsters generally found some opportunity to work their oxen that one day of the week hauling past the place of meeting. For this annoyance there was no legal remedy, andthe Mormons were compelled to submit.
Mr. Strang went for his cow and the Irish fishermen in Sullivan’s neighborhood gathered with shelalas to beat him and rescue the cow. They were met by an equal number of Mormons, standing in the edge of the woods ready for an encounter, and desisted. He drove the cow home, and Patrick Sullivan went to Mackinac to prosecute him before Justice O’Malley. But at that time O’Malley was a candidate for the office of Member of the Convention to revise the Constitution; to which he had no hope of being elected without the votes of the Mormons, and he sent Sullivan home without any process.
FIRST ATTEMPT TO DRIVE THE MORMONS FROM BEAVER.
In May, 1850, a general invitation was given on all the fishing grounds to come to Whiskey Point against the 4th of July, for a glorious and patriotic celebration of Independence; to be consummated by the expulsion of the Mormons. In this invitation all the traders at Beaver, as well as the fishermen, joined.–Material aid was furnished from Mackinac, and several small vessels owned there engaged to go to Beaver with supplies, and lay in the Harbor ready to join in the fray. Arms, ammunition and provisions, (of which whiskey was chief article,) were laid in; and the Gentiles expressed the utmost confidence of success.
On their part the Mormons gave notice of a General Assembly, and by that means called in a great number of their brethren from distant places, some of whom brought arms. A cannon and a stock of powder and lead was purchased; a regular guard enrolled, who were on duty nightly, while others were drilling. This was conducted with the utmost secrecy; all affecting to believe that no attack would be made. They also procured a large schooner, from Chicago, for the occasion; which they anchored in the Harbor, and in the night filled with armed men, who kept below the deck.
On the third of July, several boats arrived at Whiskey Point, from the fishing grounds, filled with armed men, One vessel from Mackinac arrived, and anchored in the harbor. During the night they had a carouse, in the course of which Mr. Strang, with a select party, reconnoitered their quarters, ascertained their plans, numbers, &c., poured some of their powder in the Lake, and put tobacco in one of their barrels of whiskey, by means of which those who drank of it became excessively drunk.
The plan was to go to the meeting singly, and in small groups, with slung shot, and other concealed weapons; but affecting good order and propriety, and get seats nearly as possible in a body, in the region of the speaker’s stand and Clerks’ tables. In the progress of the service they were to commence talking, drinking, swearing, etc., and if any one interfered, or attempted to keep order, begin a fight; and falling suddenly on the unprepared congregation with pistols, bowie knives and slung shot, disperse them, and disable or kill all the leaders, before they had time to rally, arm or make a stand. This was to be followed up by a general debauching of the women and burning of houses.
At the first dawn of the fourth, the Mormons commenced firing a national salute, which was the first intimation to the Gentiles that they had a cannon. They were not a little alarmed when they discovered that at every boom of the cannon the balls skipped along the water, past Whiskey point, scarcely two rods from them, and were regularly getting the range for their buildings. Before their surprise had time to abate, McKinley, who was proprietor there, was waited on by a deputation of Mormons, with the notice that as he had made his place the headquarters of the mob, he would be held responsible for any attack from any quarter; and the first gun fired would be the signal for destroying his establishment, and every soul [Page 26] in it. Notice was also given to all the Gentiles having property on the Island , that if they joined in, furnished, or even associated with the mob, they would be taken as enemies, and their homes made as bare as a sand bank.
These traders were fully aware of the plans against the Mormons, and of the desperate character of the men engaged in them. Yet, without exceptions, they took great pains to persuade the Mormons that no attempt was to be made against them; and that all the fishermen and others who were coming in, came merely to gratify a laudable curiosity, and enjoy a national holiday, among civilized people. Every effort that men could make to lull into imagined security, neighbors who had some degree of confidence in them, these men resorted to, to persuade the Mormons that they were in no danger.
The Mormons met within the unfinished walls of the Tabernacle; eight men mounted guard, with their guns shotted; the cannon unlimbered in front, in charge of twelve artillerists, with a fire, in which heated balls were continually ready; and two patrols, and a water guard, were constantly on the lookout for the enemy.
In the course of the day two vessels and sixteen boats arrived from the fisheries, bringing men, munitions, &c., including one cannon; but no hostile movements were made till afternoon, when a company of Gentile women came into the congregation unattended. Directly one of them left and returned to the boat which had carried her over, and had a short conversation with NINE men who were with it. They went up and were allowed to enter the congregation, but as soon as they were seated, it was announced from the stand that any interruption of the service or business would be instantly punished by personal chastisement; and the guard were charged in case any general disorder was attempted, to cut down every person who joined in it. They sat uneasily a few moments, and asked leave to withdraw, and the guard conducted them out, and compelled them to take their boat and leave.
Several attempts were made to reconnoiter the position of the Mormons, but were not allowed to proceed. The Gentiles complained that they were not allowed to come and go as they pleased, as they had always done at all religious meetings in other places.
The following evening during their carouse at Whiskey Point, a select party of the Mormons contrived to get within hearing of them at their consultation, and learned that they had been disappointed by the non-arrival of the Gull Island, Seuil Choix and East Shore fishermen; that part of the resident traders were anxious to postpone the attempt, in the fear that it would be a failure and the Mormons would take revenge on them for their part in the transaction; that jealousies existed among them as to the means by which the Mormons had obtained their plans; and the sober were fearful that the Mormons were too well prepared. Indecision and disorder prevailed, and they were unable to agree upon their leader.–The result of all these embarrassments was, that they generally agreed “to wait for recruits, and then pay off the Damned Mormons for arming and setting guards, before any body meddled with them.”
It appeared also that they had generally come without provisions, expecting to be supplied with what they would want, till they used up the Mormons, and got theirs. Some of the traders, believing that the attempt would only provoke the Mormons to retaliate, were anxious to disconnect themselves with the movement, and refused any further aid.
Not a few fishermen having come only for a spree, and having no prospect of one, except at the risk of a bloody welcome to hospitable graves, withdrew unobserved or on pretence of some urgent business. It soon became evident that the spirit of the undertaking had oozed out, and that the difficulty would pass away without blood letting.
The mob dispersed, and the Mormons went on with their Conference. Part of those engaged in it tried to make friends with the Mormons, pretending that no hostile project had been seriously entertained. Others [Page 27] kept up a continual clamor that the destruction of the Mormons had been only postponed, not abandoned. From time to time a new day was fixed for the onslaught, and confidently committed to some timid persons among the Mormons, in the hope of frightening them away.
George J, Adams, a somewhat distinguished preacher among the Mormons, but more widely known as a small player of great parts in various companies of strolling thespians, though next to Mr. Strang, the leading preacher among the Mormons, was about this time subjected to discipline for having abandoned his wife in the State of New Jersey, and taken with him to Beaver a woman of bad reputation, and introduced as his wife, saying his former wife was dead and he married again; the result of which was, that he was degraded, and joined in the movement against the Mormons.
After trying in vain to raise a party of malcontents among the Mormons, he went to Mackinac, where he got aid to commence a series of prosecutions against them. He seized property of the value of more than $1,000, to which he had not a shadow of claim, by process of replevin, on which the Sheriff, Tully O’Malley, took straw bail.
The Mormons litigated these seizures, in the County Court at Mackinac, and recovered; and the Sheriff became liable on his official bonds. But the Sheriff’s bond was fraudulently removed from the County Clerk’s files, and they were without redress.
Adams also prosecuted Mr. Strang, and got him committed to prison several times, but on removing the cause to a higher Court, he was on every commitment honorably discharged.
A grossly false statement of these proceedings was published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, in which it was represented that the sheriff performed a difficult and dangerous duty at Beaver in arresting Mr. Strang, and that the Mormons rushed to Mackinac in force to rescue him; whereas, in fact, Mr. Strang, on hearing that a process was out against him, went voluntarily to Mackinac, accompanied by four friends, and waited there five days, urging the consummation of the proceedings, before he was arrested at all; and except those four friends, no Mormon from Beaver was within forty miles of them. This publication in the Plain Dealer laid the foundation of the general public prejudice against the Beaver Island Mormons. But for this publication, aid and sympathy would not have been looked for from abroad in transactions which the authors had not the hardihood to pretend to justify, and the difficulty would have ended without the shedding of blood.
MORMONISM IN POLITICS.
While these proceedings were going on, preparations were being made for the State and County election. In Michilimackinac County political lines were abandoned for the time, and a County ticket put in nomination headed by Mr. Guilbeault for Representative, pledged to use their official power against the Mormons, and to deny them the protection of the Courts, and ignore them as citizens.
Against this movement another ticket was put in nomination, headed by John D. Irvine for Representative, pledged to a fair and equal administration of the law, and on this ticket were the names of three Mormons, being a trifle less than their proportion of the population.
Both the Whig and Democratic Parties divided about equally on these tickets, but voted on the State ticket as usual. The Anti-Mormon candidate for sheriff, Mr. Henry Granger, was elected by means of fraudulent tickets, in which his name was inserted so as not to be observed, in the law and order ticket. The rest of the law and order ticket were elected.
When the canvassers met, Michael Dousman, the Mackinac canvasser, proposed to reject the returns from Peaine township, (Beaver Islands,) showing ninety-two votes for the law and order ticket and thirteen for the Anti-Mormon; on the allegation that there were not, in his opinion, 105 voters there. This proposition being negatived, he withdrew.
The Board completed the canvass, certifying the result, and Dousman held a separate canvass, in which he rejected the vote of Peaine, but received that of Moran, where no canvass was returned, but the result was reported ORE TENES by a half breed sailor on a wood scow; and on his certificate Mr. Guilbeault unsuccessfully contested the seat of John D. Irvine.
Of the ninety-two persons on Beaver Islandwho voted the law and order ticket, forty-five, less than half, voted the Democratic State ticket. But the Whig Committee neglected to send tickets, and election day found the Whigs without their nomination for State officers.–Consequently no votes were given for the Whig nominees for State officers.
On these facts the Detroit Advertiser and Tribune commenced a bitter warfare against the Mormons, charging them with selling themselves, neck and heels, to the Democratic party, and receiving in return immunity for criminal conduct. High judicial officers in Mackinac were accused of releasing Mr. Strang from imprisonment, by the most outrageous violation of law, and the most shameless prostitution of judicial power, for party purposes.
So far as these public men were concerned, this was taken for political wrangling, and they were not injured. But the rule, “FALSE IN ONE POINT, FALSE IN ALL,” was never applied.–What was said against the Mormons was believed; and added to the previous publications in the Plain Dealer, fixed a deep conviction in the public mind that the Mormons at Beaver were a mere lawless banditti. These publications began just at the close of navigation, and were six months old and a hundred times repeated before the Mormons heard of them.–The civil war was waged against them, and for a long time it was impossible for them to reply to any of them. The replies, when made, were a perfect refutation of the charges, but were never published or even mentioned in the papers which had given currency to the slander.
During the winter of 1850 and ’51, McKinley, Cable, Ward, Dodge and other traders at Beaver engaged the Indians to assume a hostile position towards the Mormons. Kimmeoue, Peaine, Watanesa and Chenotin, influential chiefs, accompanied by thirty braves, thirteen white men and two interpreters, called on Mr. Strang for a talk. They carried guns and tomahawks, had their faces painted with war colors, and followed a red flag.–They made long speeches about their attachment to the traders who supplied their wants, and the fishermen who intermarried with them, and their bravery and cruelty in war.
In conclusion, Peaine, in behalf of the Ottowas and Ojibwas, denounced war and annihilation against the Mormons, in case any of them sued a Gentile at law, warned him out to work a highway tax, attempted to arrest him, or CUT ANY STEAMBOAT WOOD, EXCEPT WHAT WAS PURCHASED BY McKINLEY. It was evident that the Indians fully believing that the Gentiles only were citizens, and that the Mormons were merely intruders; thought they were acting in fulfillment of treaties, and in support of the authority of the United States.
Mr. Strang replied at length to their speeches. When he came to the denunciation of war, he turned to the white men, first took down their names, and from the Revised Statutes read to them the law concerning inciting Indians to commit crimes. Then turning to Peaine, he said, “I am no child, and cannot understand you. Your voice is like a scolding woman. I will not hear you. March on.” The white men were already in motion, and Peaine and his fellow chiefs and braves sullenly followed.
Not far from this time an attempt was made by Constable Fields, of Beaver, to arrest Eri J. Moore, who was on Garden Island selling whiskey to the Indians. He brought his supplies from Mackinac on the ice, by the single barrel, and sold nothing else. Knowing that the Indians would secrete and possibly defend him, Fields took a posse of thirteen men.–It so happened that Moore [Page 29]had started for Mackinac before the posse reached the Indian village. After searching till they were satisfied that he was not there; they started across the ice on their way home, when coming round a point of the Island they met Moore returning, having found the ice broken, and been unable to proceed. Chase was made, and he ran into the woods, and being assisted by the Indians and several white men, he escaped. The white men got behind the bushes and shot at the posse, evidently not intending to hit them, but to shoot as close as they could and miss.
WAR ON THE MORMONS.
As soon as navigation opened Moore obtained warrants before Justice O’Malley, of Mackinac, against thirty-nine men, charging them with being concerned in this transaction, and “putting him IN FEAR OF DANGER.” Sheriff Granger came to execute the warrants. Mr. Strang had gone to Hog Island with a company of workmen, trying to save a yawl boat, which had been lost from the wreck of the steamer Patchin, and frozen in the ice on HogIsland shoals. Another company were there getting out timber for oars; in all eleven men.
Granger raised a party of thirteen whites and thirty-two Indians, well armed; went to Hog Island, stole the boats the Mormons had gone in; chopped in pieces the Patchin’s yawl, and believing it impossible for any to get off from the Island, a little past midnight fell upon the camp of the sleeping Mormons with the Irish hurrah and the terrible Indian war whoop.
The hurrah was a moment too soon. The Mormons sprang to their feet, and boldly rushed through the troops to secure their boat.–Finding it gone, they again broke their lines and took to the woods. Feeling their way in the darkness through a deep swamp, many of them without their boots, they met on the opposite shore, where an old leaky fish boat lay filled with ice and snow.
When they had this ready to launch, but one of their company was lacking. This was the 11th April; a cold freezing morning, the lake spotted with vast fields of drift ice. With a boat preserved from sinking only by the ice frozen in it, without sails or oar locks, and with three unsuitable oars, not half clothed, no provisions, without a line to tie their boat, nor an ax to repair any accident, they set out on the broad blue waters for a place of safety.
Having; made the circuit of the Islands at such distances as to avoid being seen–after buffeting the waves for twenty-four hours, they landed at Gull Island, then uninhabited, having suffered so much with the cold, that when they had warmed and slept, they waked with their faces so swollen that they could not recognize each other.
Here they remained five days, occupying the best fish shanty, and for want of an ax to cut wood with, taking down the others for fuel.–The fragments of provisions left in the various shanties supplied them with food, such as starving men know best how to relish. With an ingenuity of invention which necessity only produces, shaping timber with fire and knives, saving nails from burnt shanties, and using pebbles for hammers, they put their boat in good condition, and returned to learn the fate of their lost companion, and the condition of affairs at Beaver.
Twelve days elapsed after leaving Hog Island, before they reached it again. Then they found the missing man, David Bates: who, after escaping Granger and his party in the long hunt they kept up, hoping to find Mr. Strang, had subsisted on some small fragments of raw hide intended for oar straps, and about two quarts of frozen potatoes, which escaped the scrutiny of Granger’s free booters.
Granger took the tools, provisions, blankets, cooling utensils, etc., of the Mormons as spoils of war, and divided them among his companions. A portion of them were afterwards given up, but the larger share remained in the hands of the victors.
Among the spoil was a joiner’s chest of tools, taken along by Mr. [Page 30] Royal Tucker to use in repairing the Patchin’s yawl. Upon this Sheriff Granger made a semi-official publication in the Tribune or Advertiser at Detroit that he had seized in Strang’s piratical camp “a box of tools admirably adapted to burglarious purposes.”
Granger took some fifteen or twenty prisoners to Mackinac. O’Malley ordered all to prison. But when it was ascertained that all were ready to give bail, two or three were let to bail, and the prosecution against the rest abandoned, and they went home. Those let to bail were discharged at the next session of the county court, no one appearing against them.
Granger returned to Beaver for Strang, and getting a fund subscribed for the purpose, offered a reward for his head. The reward offered at first was but twenty-five dollars, but in a short time it was raised to $300.00. For this reward, Mr. Strang was hunted by bands of armed men, Indians and Half Breeds, Irish, &c., varying from 75 to 350 in number, as the prospect of success increased or diminished, for four weeks.
Most of those men doubtless fully believed that the sheriff’s advertisement would legally justify them in killing Mr. Strang. Many who did not look for the reward, thought it a convenient season to get rid of a man who was in the way of their plans.
And there is not the slightest doubt that had they succeeded in killing him, the result would have verified these opinions. The murderers would never have been prosecuted. Regular grand jury lists are not usually kept in Michilimackinac, and Sheriff Granger had near two years to remain in office, during which time he would have had their selection. And there is no doubt that a majority of the influential men of that county would have been glad to be rid of Mr. Strang, by any safe means, however unlawful. Of this they have given numerous proofs, and the fact that some hundred Mormons have been murdered in the last twenty years, and that no person has ever been punished for it, gives ground for their enemies to hope the same result in any aggression upon them.
UNITED STATES TAKE UP AGAINST THE MORMONS.
While these proceedings were going on, President Fillmore and his Cabinet were invited to New York to assist in the ceremonies of opening the New York and Erie Railroad. The president extended his visit to Detroit, where he had a brother residing; and while there complaints were made before him charging the Mormons with being mere buccaneers, and alleging specifically that Mr. Strang and others were guilty of treason, robbing the mail, counterfeiting the coin,& c., and finally of trespass on the United States land.
These complaints were contained in documents signed in official form, though generally by persons not in office, and were backed by letters from Michael Dousman, whose great wealth gave him weight with the business men at Detroit, and with government.
The President ordered a vigorous and sweeping prosecution, and put the armed steamer Michigan and the cutter Ingram under the orders of Geo. C. Bates, District Attorney for the District of Michigan, to aid in making arrests, which it was alleged the Mormons would resist.
The first intimation that the Mormons had of this movement was the arrival of the Michigan at Beaver Harbor. Hon. J. M. Greig, Judge of Michilimackinac County Court, who had just adjourned his Court at Mackinac, came aboard there, and with the utmost difficulty persuaded the District Attorney and Marshal, who were aboard, to go peaceably about their arrests, without any hostile demonstration.
The steamer anchored in the harbor about midnight. At the instance of Judge Greig, Mr. Bates went ashore, accompanied by no officer, and inquired for Mr. Strang. A friend of Mr. Strang’s arranged an interview, which took place in a few minutes.
Mr. Bates began the interview by an effort to convince Mr. Strang that he could not escape from the force in his hands, nor avoid an arrest, and would do best by giving himself up [Page 31] promptly. Mr. Strang replied that he was satisfied with his present opinion on that subject, and asked “on what charge do you wish to arrest me?” Mr. Bates replied, “the papers are aboard, and if you will step aboard a few minutes, I will show them to you.”
It was immediately arranged that Mr. Strang should go aboard the Steamer and have a consultation, where if he saw fit to do so he should surrender himself to the officer charged with his arrest. But that if he did not consent to so surrender himself, he should at the end of two hours be landed on the beach, in front of his own house, and neither pursued or watched for fifteen minutes.
Mr. Strang went aboard in the same boat that had brought Mr. Bates ashore. No papers were exhibited, but Mr. Bates and Mr. Knox, the Marshal, stated that Mr. Strang and thirty-eight others were charged with trespass on the United States land, and a portion of them, including Mr. Strang, with counterfeiting the coin, and that if they could see the men and look into the matter, they would discharge such as appeared not to be guilty, and take to Detroit for trial only such as the evidence against was conclusive.
Mr. Strang asked for a list of names of the accused, promising that if it was furnished him, all the men named in it should come to the wharf to be arrested within two hours. To this Mr. Bates finally agreed, though Mr. Knox objected, saying it would advertise the Mormons, who should run away. The list was sent ashore with a request from Mr. Strang that the men named would come to the wharf, and wait for a boat to bring them aboard. Not satisfied, Mr. Knox, with some of his Deputies, went and commenced arresting them on their approach. He soon saw his error, and desisted, and within two hours thirty-one men, all the persons named, who were on the Island , had COME TO BE ARRESTED.
A young fellow named William Arnold had been taken aboard at Mackinac, with the tale that the Mormons had an artificial cave in Mount Pisgah, in which they carried on an extensive business at coining, and that he had been solicited to join in the business, and had been in the cave and seen the work going on.
He was brought along to point out the cavern, but on arriving at Beaver acknowledged that his tale was false. It appeared that Adams had persuaded him to tell this tale, as a mere matter of scandal. He had been unexpectedly called to verify it in a legal proceeding, and had gone blindly on till the moment came to point out the workshop. He could go no further, and in shame and confusion burst into a flood of tears.
Some of the civilians aboard the steamer determined to believe the Mormons were guilty, though the testimony vanished. A company of them went ashore, and inquiring of children the route, made their way to Mount Pisgah, and after a thorough examination, concluded–that the cavern was somewhere else. The idea that it was nowhere, did not occur to them.
An awning was prepared, and arrangements made to hold a Commissioner’s Court on the deck of the steamer, when McKinley, one of the complainants, expressed his utter inability to produce his witnesses without a delay of several days, representing that several of them were nearer Detroit than Beaver Island. The Court was dismissed, and a consultation began as to the disposition of the prisoners.–The result was that Messrs. Strang, Townsend, Ketcham and Page, not as prisoners, but under surveillance, to the subjects of further judicial proceedings went to Detroit. Mr. Strang became bail for the appearance of four others, in case bills were found against them, and all the others were discharged. Mr. Strang obtained, in behalf of himself and his associates, a pledge from the District Attorney and Marshal that in case of their acquittal they should not be delivered to the Sheriff of Michilimackinac, but should be brought either on a national vessel or in custody of a Deputy Marshal, and discharged at Beaver. In the result this pledge was broken.
The prosecution continued before the District Court of the United States at Detroit, from the latter part of May till the 9th of July. Mr. [Page 32] Strang and twenty-six others were indicted for going out in armed force and robbing the United States mail; Mr. Strang and two others for coining, and Mr. Strang and about a dozen others in twelve bills for trespass on the public lands. A bill was also submitted to the Grand Jury of the Circuit Court of the United States against Mr. Strang and several others for treason, which was ignored.
Thirteen persons were tried on the indictment for mail robbing, and acquitted. It is well known that these men were prejudged and foredoomed; and that nothing but a defense beyond doubt or caviling could have produced their acquittal. The whole public expected their conviction.
The Advertiser and Tribune, daily papers in the city of Detroit, belched forth morning and evening the most bitter calumnies against them, and though the Free Press occasionally admitted a brief article, in their defense, it was in no sense committed in their behalf, The reports of the trial published in the Advertiser were so barefaced perversions of the truth as to receive severe condemnation from the Hon. Ross Wilkins, District Judge. Under the circumstances the acquittal of the defendants must be the most satisfactory evidence of their innocence.
It is worthy of remembrance, too, that the defendants were charged with going out in armed force, and in a military array at midday on the 19th of February, and making an attack on a mail train only a few rods from a large Indian village, and in the presence of a considerable number of white men. They were not arrested for this offense till three months after. William Wilkins, Clerk of the Court and United States Commissioner, was sent to take testimony on the spot, and among three hundred witnesses attending before him, over one hundred of whom were sworn and interrogated on this point, not one man could be found who had ever heard of it till after the arrest.
Even the Assistant Post Master, Peter McKinley, though he swore to the military attack and robbery, on his cross-examination said he sent the SAME MAIL, after its recovery to Mackinac on the opening of navigation, on a vessel owned and navigated by the same men he was prosecuting for robbing it.
The truth became apparent before the conclusion of the trial that there had not only been no attack and no armed force, but actually no mail in the premises. That a portion of the defendants had been engaged only in assisting in trying to arrest a man charged with crime, who was at that time in company with a dog train, which did not carry a mail, and was not interrupted; and, finally, that the whole story of mail and mail robbery was merely a false tale, got up for the purpose of destroying Mr. Strang by the most unblushing perjury.
This conviction on the public mind, where the trial took place, alone can account for the abandoning of other indictments. The trial of the first indictment did not shed the slightest ray of light on the merits of the other causes, except by showing that the whole batch were the creation of conspiracy and perjury.
AFFAIR WITH THE BENNETTS.
During the progress of these affairs more startling events were going on at Beaver.–Two men, Richard O’Donnel and James Hoy, had beaten Samuel Graham, a leading Mormon, with a cane, breaking his arm and fracturing his skull. Warrants were issued for their arrest, but Sheriff Granger would neither arrest them, or suffer it to be done. He took them in his personal keeping, pretending to employ them as assistants, until the attempt to arrest them was given over, when they returned to the fisheries.
Wm. N. McLeod, prosecuting attorney for Michilimackinac County, went to Beaver to direct a prosecution. Under his advice a constable, with two men, went to arrest them. They were resisted by Thomas and Samuel Bennett with loaded guns, and driven back. Soon after the Constable returned with a posse of some thirty men, and additional [Page 33] warrants for the Bennetts, and acting under the official instructions of the prosecuting attorney.
The Bennetts refused to surrender to the constable, and as he drew back to call his posse to assist, fired upon him. At the second shot he fell, seriously though not mortally wounded. The fire was returned. There was a crash of arms one moment, and all was still. Thomas Bennett was dead–shot through the heart. Samuel had one hand nearly shot away.
There were upwards of seventy fishermen within three-fourths of a mile, who had a military organization and had been well drilled. They were banded together to resist arrests, and had agreed on a signal for a call to arms of three guns. But the rapid discharge of arms alarmed them, and prevented the signal being understood. Some fled to the woods, and some took to the Lake in their boats. Before the rest were ready for action the posse were upon them, and compelled them to disperse. O’Donnel was pursued upon the water and taken.
A coroner’s inquest was held on the body, and a verdict brought in according to the facts. This jury consisted of six Mormons and six Gentiles, and their verdict was signed by nine of the jurors, the other three declining to sign on the allegation that it was not IN PROOF that the constable was a citizen; pretending that if he was not a citizen, the warrant and his office would neither protect him nor his posse in the doing of their duty. In fact he was a citizen, but it is doubtful whether another instance can be found of the raising a question of that kind, for the purpose of charging an officer criminally for obeying the mandate of his warrant.
Had the same resistance of the legal authority occurred at any other place, and a public officer performed similar duties in like manner, his conduct would have been applauded by the public voice throughout the length and breadth of the country. But in this case it was spoken of everywhere as a most atrocious murder. Statements were published in nearly all the papers, representing that the Bennetts were unarmed, and only standing upon their legal rights against “Mormon law;” that the Mormons had long before doomed them to death; and on that occasion had killed and cut in pieces one of them, and terribly mutilated the other, from mere blood-thirstiness.–The chirurgical examination was garbled into a tale of post mortem barbarities, such as cannibals would turn pale at the rehearsal of.
The account of these transactions reached Detroit after the indictment, and previous to the trial of Mr. Strang and the other Mormons indicted in the District Court of the United States. The Daily Advertiser advised not only the prosecution of this posse as murderers, but of Mr. Strang also, who was in Detroit when the events occurred. The indignation excited against the Mormons by these events was a most dangerous preparation for their trial, but they passed the ordeal unscathed.
A great effort was made to produce the impression that these Bennetts were substantial farmers, and respectable and liberal minded men. Nothing could be further from the truth. They were ESCAPED FELONS from Ireland, who kept beyond the bounds of civilization, to avoid the extradition laws. They had been some time in Mackinac, where they were noted for thieving propensities, and the place becoming too warm for them, had taken up their abode at Beaver Island. Thomas took an Indian wife, and lived with her till the expense of supporting the children was more than the value of her work, when he turned her off late in the fall to provide for herself. On her way to her father’s, at Traverse, she was overtaken by a storm and perished, with all her children.
Samuel Bennett prosecuted nearly all the men on Beaver Island, charging them with the murder of his brother. Sheriff Granger commenced raising a posse at Mackinac ostensibly for the purpose of arresting the accused, but really for the purpose of wasting the entire Mormon settlement on Beaver Island.–Jacob Sammons, of Duncan, learning the purpose, [Page 34] remonstrated, and offered to go alone and make the arrests.
The result justified his confidence in the peaceable and law-abiding disposition of the Mormons. He went alone to Beaver, and gave out notice that he had come to arrest the men concerned in killing Bennett, and wished them to meet him at a designated place the next day to be arrested.
In the mean time two men, H. D. McCulloch and Samuel Graham, had gone to Mackinac and been arrested and thrust into jail.–Notwithstanding this, they met Mr. Sammons, according to his request, and above twenty were taken into custody and remained there prisoners in his hands till the United States steamer Michigan returned with Mr. Strang on board, and a number of public officers charged with arresting divers other persons, and taking the testimony of numerous witnesses to be read on his trial, when part of them were transferred to the custody of the Marshal of the United States, and Sammons chartered a vessel and took the rest to Mackinac.
At Mackinac he had the utmost difficulty in protecting his prisoners from the mob. They were taken before O’Malley and ordered to prison. The Mackinac jail is a log building, in a side hill, consisting of two rooms, cold and damp, like an out door cellar, each only eleven feet square. One room is a dungeon, and the other has two grated holes, twelve or fifteen inches square, without glass. It is furnished with neither beds, chairs, benches or tables. To such a place fourteen men were committed to remain ten weeks, until the charge against them could be laid before a grand jury.
The intention evidently was that they should perish of the confinement. But Granger’s cupidity saved them. They arranged with him to allow them to go out and work about town, they paying him for their board, which he also charged to the county, thus giving him double pay for boarding them.
The excitement against them had passed off, and as they were industrious men, they got plenty of work at a place where good laborers can scarcely be got at any price. As steamboats came in almost daily, covered with passengers, these men were pointed out to them as the Mormon “prisoners for murder,” and the idea of keeping men on such a charge, in the public streets, at work about on docks, where steamboats were coming and going at all times of day and night, was so perfectly ridiculous as to produce a strong suspicion, even with those prejudiced against them, that the prosecution was without any foundation.
The tragedy had sunk to a farce; but as if it needed one more scene to mark it with its true character, Sheriff Granger, while he held these men prisoners for murder, summoned them to serve him as a posse in executing a writ of replevin, where he was resisted; two of them as appraisers of replevined property, and finally a majority of them as Jurors on an inquest, which was held before him. The Sheriff pocketed the fees, because they being his prisoners HE WAS TITLED TO THEIR SERVICES. No bills were found against them, and after eleven weeks detention they were discharged. But the Grand Jury, in order to keep up some show of justification for the violence which Mackinac had exhibited in the matter, indicted two persons who were not in custody, and who were no more complicated in the matter than those they refused to indict.
Between the 11th April and the 23d of June, 1851 , ninety-nine Mormons were arrested on Beaver Island and carried to distant places, PREJUDGED AND FOREDOOMED, to answer to criminal charges. Some individuals had to run the gauntlet on from twelve to forty different accusations. Before the end of August every one had been legally acquitted, and returned home. Yet so voracious was the public maw for some tale of Mormon rascality, that their discomfited accusers found as many to feast on their fables as ever.
Besides prisoners, a great number were taken away on compulsory process as witnesses. At one time but twenty-four men were left.–The women cultivated the fields, and thus [Page 35] produced the crops which the following winter saved the settlement from starvation.
In addition to prosecutions, the United States Marshal seized large quantities of square timber, on the allegation that it was wrongfully taken from public lands. Most of this was cut on lands belonging to individuals. That cut on government lands was taken in accordance with instructions of the Commissioner of public lands. And Mr. Strang held in his hands a written official note from Geo. C. Bates, the District Attorney who prosecuted him, advising him to cut the timber, and assuring him that he should not be prosecuted.
These seizures were abandoned, but before the timber was restored, Peter McKinley, whom the Marshal had left in charge of it, had four thousand feet belonging to Mr. Strang thrown into the Lake.
But some of the Deputy Marshals engaged in the seizures took quantities belonging to the Gentiles, who had engaged in these prosecutions, most of which was sold–a single act of justice amid a long train of wrongs–for they had no excuse. They were mere trespassers.
On its being ascertained at Beaver that Mr. Strang was acquitted, and about to return, an effort was made to prevent his landing. Capt. Whitaker, of the steamer Wisconsin, who was grateful to the Mormons for many acts of kindness shown him in the year before, when he lost a boat in their neighborhood, took him and several other of the Mormons up, and made a little display in their behalf as he entered the Harbor. A considerable number of persons gathered on the wharf for a fray, some of whom swore great oaths that Strang should never land alive. But he was not interrupted.
Mr. Strang had been elected a Justice of the Peace the previous spring, and entered upon the duties of the office immediately on returning from Detroit. At first an attempt was made to overawe him by brute violence, but it failed. So great was the advantage of transacting business before one who was well versed in law, and would swerve from no duty, that before fall his most violent persecutors became suitors before him. A few stood out, and in some instances appeals were taken from his judgments, but none were reversed. Sheriff Granger found a shorter way to set aside his authority. Two men were committed to prison by Mr. Strang, in pursuance of a conviction for assault and battery, and Granger turned them at large, and burned up the warrants. He also turned at large two persons committed in execution for trespass.
As winter approached, those who had been most hostile against the Mormons, attempted to get up a crowd to winter on Whiskey Point, prepared for hostilities with the Mormons.–The proposition frightened off many who would otherwise have stayed, and all who had been committed against the Mormons followed.
WRECK OF THE ILLINOIS.
Later in the fall the Propeller Illinois went ashore on Fox Island. The Captain went to Manitou for assistance, and was refused. He then went to the Beaver and asked Mr. Strang to furnish him assistance. He had been unfriendly to the Mormons, and several times treated then ill. Yet they turned out in force to save his boat, of which he was a half owner. When they arrived there it was so much injured that he determined to abandon it. The Mormons refused to abandon it; saying, they would set their pumps and try the effect whether he paid them or not. They did so, and in seven hours had her afloat. She was brought safely into Beaver Harbor, and saved.
The settlers on Fox Island, who were an equal number of Mormons and Gentiles, took the job of saving the cargo ON SHARES, and built a storehouse for the sole purpose of housing it; and put it up in the best possible order, and waited the Captain’s arrival in the spring to divide it. This was at the back side of the Island, distant from, and out of sight of their dwellings.
In the spring he came with the Illinois in the night and commenced moving the cargo without consulting them. They accidentally discovered him in time to save part of their [Page 36] share. Yet he went off calling the Mormons robbers, and accusing them of plundering him, and has never shown them the slightest gratitude. Of the Gentiles who were equally concerned, he made no mention.
WINTER OF 1851-2.
The winter of 1851-2 was very severe. A two horse team went on the ice from Saint James to Mackinac; and for more than two months it was good crossing to Cross Village. Vast icebergs formed, lying on the bottom in thirty and forty feet of water, many of them fifty and some one hundred feet high. At one time ice extended quite across to the Fox Islands; this being the second instance in the memory of man.
Before the traders left, they obtained all the means the Indians provided against winter, promising to furnish them with pork and flour. But they furnished nothing, and when winter came on they were entirely destitute; and no neighbors to resort to, but the Mormons, to whom they had been hostile. With great efforts the Mormons obtained a supply, and furnished them on credit. They paid promptly, and have been fast friends to the Mormons ever since.
STEALING ON THE FISHERIES.
In the spring of 1852 a large body of fishermen and traders came on, prepared for hostilities. The Steamer Northern landed fifty in a body at Whiskey Point, but the buildings were in a ruinous condition and the prospects so unpromising that most of them left on the same boat.
A large schooner started from Mackinac a few hours later, with a still greater number, well armed, and avowing the intention to kill the Mormon men and take the women on the fishing grounds to cook and to do the drudgery. Learning the failure of the other party, and that the Mormons were prepared to welcome them, they abandoned the undertaking.
Among those that remained, two immediately commenced selling whiskey to the Indians, and before a week passed around found themselves charged with a penalty of twenty dollars for violating the Statute; and only escaped further prosecution by shipping off their liquors, and promising reform.
They then went on the fishing ground, and went into partnership with a Mormon in the fishing business, and after selling off their stuff and getting a quantity of fish, one went with the fish, pretending to go for supplies, and the other took the boat which belonged to the Mormon alone and went to Mackinac, boasting there that he had stolen enough to make good his fine for selling liquors. At Mackinac this was considered an excellent joke.
Transactions like the following were frequent through the summer: A lantern, a piece of chain and some old irons were stolen from the wharf at Presque Isle, one hundred and twenty miles east of Beaver, and several respectable newspapers, issued many hundred miles away, published flaming notices of the transaction, representing that the Mormons were the thieves; as though anybody would go a hundred and twenty miles to steal a few shillings worth of property, such as could be picked up nightly in any neighborhood.–Among these the “Green Bay Spectator” took the lead. Stories of this kind were so often repeated that their utter incredibility was lost sight of.
As an extreme example of this may be mentioned the “Buffalo Rough Notes,” which gravely published a statement that the Mormons habitually boarded the lake steamers and pirated what they pleased; and they with one eminent exception, submitted to it.
Any one who had taken pains might have collected during that summer fifty accounts of Mormon depredations on the property of others, gravely and circumstantially asservated, in respectable newspapers, not one of which would have been credited for a single moment, had it been asserted on any other people; every one made up of improbabilities, and containing the most glaring absurdities and impossibilities. Yet these were credited and repeated from mouth to mouth undoubting by those who in other matters are not over credulous. It is clear [Page 37] enough if any reliance can be placed on newspapers and legends, that the Mormons have a most plenary power of miracles in mischief-making, and if not preserved from destruction by the Almighty, are wonderfully and supernaturally strengthened in villainy and protected from punishment by the Devil.
Numerous thefts were committed upon various fishermen on Beaver Island, all of which were charged to the Mormons. But in several instances the stolen property vas finally discovered in the hands of other fishermen; in none was it found in the hands of the Mormons. Many instances occurred where fishermen reported themselves stripped of everything, and unable to pay the sums advanced to them by traders, and getting new supplies, left for distant fisheries, where they were found in possession of the lost property, having made a good speculation out of their own falsehoods and the trader’s credulity.
This system once begun was overdone, and soon no fisherman on Beaver could get credit. At the same time a general system of plundering the Mormons was carried on by the fishermen. This was not a new practice. As early as 1850 Mr. Strang had landed 14,000 feet of lumber on Whiskey Point, where he owned a small piece of land, and a few weeks after there was not 1,000 feet left. More than twenty shanties were afterwards found on the remote and secluded fisheries, covered and floored with this lumber, and not even the marks obliterated. But in 1852 the fishermen supplied themselves regularly from the gardens of the Mormons, and some considerable fields of potatoes and turnips remote from dwellings were quite cleared out.
A few Mormons were fishing, and their nets were lifted and stolen till they were quite broken up; but while this was going on the guilty were detected and prosecutions commenced. The Mormons recovered their damages. On the criminal prosecutions part of the accused escaped, and the rest gave hail, and accused and bail left the country together.–Among the latter was Henry VanAllen, keeper of the light on Beaver Island, who had secreted in the light house eighteen nets belonging to Benjamin G. Wright.
VanAllen had not been suspected, but a short time after the stealing of Wright’s nets, a strong current, produced by long severe winds, drew the buoys under where VanAllen had set twenty-four new nets. The nets could not be found, and he, supposing them stolen, and suspecting some of the Mormons of the theft, offered to restore Mr. Wright’s if his were brought back.
While he was making to some of the leading Mormons this proposition, his buoys raised and his workmen took in his nets, well filled with fish. He was promptly prosecuted and escaped as before stated, since which affairs on Beaver have been entirely in the control of the Mormons. The Indians trade there and sometimes have fished there to the number of six hundred. It is a significant fact that since then no case of stealing has been heard of on Beaver, and many on the fisheries around the island, except what were traced directly to a few fishers at Gull Island and a band of outlaws at Pine River.
MR. STRANG IN THE LEGISLATURE.
In 1851 there was a new apportionment of Representatives among the counties of the state, and though Emmet and above twenty other unorganized counties in the lower peninsula were attached to Michilimackinac for judicial purposes, yet on this apportionment they were all included with Newaygo, Oceana, Lake and Mason in a single Representative District, and Michilimackinac became a district by itself. This apportionment was probably made without much consideration, for it is very evident that not a dozen persons in the state thought of the Mormon settlement being in Newaygo district.
Had the people of Peaine township voted as a part of Mackinac district, they would have controlled the election, but their votes would have been liable to be rejected, on the ground that the apportionment bill [Page 38] placed them in Newaygo district. But if they voted as part of Newaygo district, there was no mode provided in law for the return and canvass of their votes.
A more serious difficulty was that, by the constitution, all the state north of township twenty was included in the district of the Upper Peninsula, and elected its representatives the last Tuesday in September; but Newaygo was one of the Districts of the State at large, and elected the Tuesday following the first Monday in November; and it was questioned whether the Legislature had the power of detaching Emmet County and legislating concerning it as part of the State at large.–Moreover it was disputed whether the Beaver Islands were really in Emmet or Michilimackinac County, the general but erroneous opinion being that they were in Michilimackinac.
The universal opinion was that the Mormon settlement was in Michilimackinac District, and it was known that it could control the election. But the Mormons concluded that legally they were in Newaygo District, where the result was uncertain. Mr. Strang was put in nomination, but his name not announced until election day. There were four other candidates in the field, and he received more votes than any three of them.
The Canvassers met at Newaygo, seven hundred miles by any traveled route from Beaver, and had no intimation that Mr. Strang was in the field, or the Mormon settlement in their district, till Mr. Chidester arrived there as canvasser for all the unorganized counties attached to Michilimackinac. He succeeded in satisfying them that the Beaver Islands were in their district, and Mr. Strang received the certificate of election.
This result was exceedingly mortifying to Mackinac, and the more violent set about devising means to defeat it. At the town meeting the spring previous Mr. Strang had been elected supervisor of Peaine, and in the effort to prevent his sitting with the board the grand jury had trumped up an indictment against him, hoping to frighten him from the place, and L. A. Franks, one of the jurors, mentioned the fact in his hearing, before the warrant issued, but Mr. Strang would not leave, and on being arrested refused to give bail and waited the result. After being in custody five days he was turned at large, and continued to visit Mackinac both on official and private business, as he had occasion, unmolested. But on its being ascertained that he was elected to the House of Representatives, a warrant was issued on this old affair for his arrest, and the plan laid to seize him on his way to the capitol. There was no officer nearer than Detroit having jurisdiction of the writ of HABEAS CORPUS and the session would close before a writ could be obtained and executed.
This plan was defeated by Mr. Strang’s going by way of Green Bay. But Mr. Irvine, District Attorney of the Upper Peninsula, went with a warrant to Detroit, and engaged an officer there to meet Mr. Strang at Lansing, and arrest him, immediately before the call of the house. The special deputation of the Detroit officer to execute this warrant was a forgery.
In the mean time the certificate of Mr. Strang’s election had been withdrawn from the files of the secretary of state and Mr. James Barton, who stood next to Mr. Strang in the canvass, came on from Newaygo to contest Mr. Strang’s seat in his absence. This would have given Mr. Barton a clear field, neither as opponent or a certificate of election against him and the universal opinion in his favor.
The plan signally failed. Though charged with a breach of the peace, so that he could not claim PRIVILEGE FROM ARREST under the Constitution, Mr. Strang claimed PRIVILEGE AS TO THE MANNER OF THE ARREST, at common law; insisting that he could be removed, only by permission of the House, after they had examined the ground of the proceeding. As the officer charged with his arrest determined to remove him forcibly, before the House assembled, he prepared for defense, and notified him that he should treat any attempt to remove him as an unprovoked assault; saying, significantly, when his [Page 39] claim of privilege was disputed, “I will put my neck in a halter upon that.”
When the House was called, he laid a duplicate of his certificate of election on the Clerk’s table and was sworn in. Informing the house of the attempt to arrest him, after several propositions a committee was appointed to investigate the matter, who reported the facts at length, coming to the conclusion that the arrest was attempted, not for the furtherance of justice, but from private malice and persecution, and a desire to deprive the house of his services as a member. He was discharged from arrest by a unanimous vote.
Mr. Barton’s petition for leave to contest his seat immediately came up, and being referred to the Committee on Elections, two reports came in, the majority report being adverse to Mr. Strang. Leave was granted to the parties to be heard at the bar of the house. Mr. Taylor, ex-Secretary of State, appeared for Mr. Barton. Mr. Strang; defended himself in person. His defense was spoken of in the press generally as marked with great ability, and an extraordinary amount of legal learning and general information.
Mr. Strang maintained his seat by a vote of forty-nine to eleven , which, considering that both prejudice and legal opinions were against him in the outset, was a fine tribute to his learning and ability. But what was still more complimentary, some of the ablest members of the House stated in their places that they were not only convinced by the arguments of Mr. Strang; but that their prejudices were quite removed. Among these were the Hon. E. Ransom, of Kalamazoo, for a long time Chief Justice, and once Governor of the State.
The effect of these proceedings was to give Mr. Strang a high standing in the Legislature, and among the public men of the State. He fully maintained that position through the session. At its close he had carried all the measures which his district, consisting of twenty-six counties, asked, and was universally acknowledged to have exerted more influence than any other member, without having ever condescended to anything short of the most open and manly means.
When he entered the House, Newaygo and Oceana counties were organized and fully detached from all other counties, but had no judiciary except Justices of the Peace and Judges of Probate. Consequently no crime, however heinous, committed there, could be punished. Judgments recovered before Justices of the Peace could be appealed, which laid them on the Clerk’s files, and operated as a perpetual stay of execution.
Grand Traverse had not so much as a county organization legally existing, but was fully detached from all other counties, and was, therefore, utterly without law. One-fourth of the state, extending from township twenty to the straits, had only a single township organized in it, and only a foreign judiciary. There were several portions of the territory of the state not in any county, and therefore not subject to the jurisdiction of the judiciary, or of any local municipal authority, and it was in the most serious dispute as to what counties some of the largest settlements in the district belonged.
These and a hundred other wants growing out of the blundering legislation of thirty years were remedied, leaving him abundance of leisure to attend to all the general business of the session. The organization of Grand Traverse County was perfected, two new counties and eight new townships organized, and a judiciary and municipal government provided for all parts of the district.
ATTEMPT TO KIDNAP MR. STRANG.
The people of Mackinac were mortified at Mr. Strang’s success as a legislator. As he was on the steamer Morton in May, 1853, bound for Buffalo, but stopping at Mackinac wharf a few minutes, an attempt was made to kidnap him, with the avowed purpose of “serving him as they did old Jo.”
This attempt was made by a gang of rowdies, without any official authority, who had an old writ on which he had before been arrested [Page 40] and LEGALLY DISCHARGED. Mr. Strang defended himself, barricaded his stateroom door, where he remained in a state of siege till the boat entered the Saint Clair, when he broke down the door and jumped off on a wharf on Canada shore. Here the matter ended.
EFFORT TO OVERRIDE THE LIQUOR LAW IN EMMET.
the same time the people of Mackinac called a meeting to devise means for destroying the Mormons, at which resolutions were passed disapproving the conduct of the legislature in creating township and county organizations within sixty miles of Mackinac, and denouncing war against Emmet County, in case any person was arrested for violating the Liquor law; and offering sympathy and assistance to the band of outlaws at Pine River and Grand Traverse Bay, and some fishermen on Gull Island, in waging war upon the Mormons.
Unfortunately the outlaws at Pine River took this in earnest. Entering into league with a disaffected family of the name of Hill on Beaver Island, who acted as spies for them, they stole large quantities of nets from the Mormons and Indians fishing at Beaver, and set fire to an immense quantity of railroad ties, ready for shipping.
Before this crime was traced to them, the sheriff of Emmet went to Pine River to summon three persons residing there to serve as jurors at the approaching circuit court. On his way, learning that the outlaws at Pine River had determined that no process whatever should be served there, and violence threatened against any officer who attempted it, he got a second boat and took in all fourteen men, unarmed, believing that the presence of that number would prevent violence, till his business was known; when it was supposed the animosity of a portion at least would be appeased.
This reasonable opinion was not realized.–The criminal opposition to lawful authority there was greater than could have been anticipated. Believing that the sheriff had come to arrest criminals, a large force assembled to meet him at the place of landing, prepared for battle. He was permitted to land, and immediately met with a demand, what he had come for.–He stated the nature of his business, and showed his processes. While this was going on they examined his boats, and ascertained that he was without guns.
They then crowded up with such unmistakable signs of hostilities that he returned to his boats. Thirty of the outlaws were strung along the beach, within four rods of the boats; from thirty to fifty on the bluff, immediately back, rising abruptly some twenty-five feet high.
As the sheriff’s party were getting into the boats, this crowd commenced a murderous fire upon them. The wind was on shore, and the boats got off with difficulty. Before they had got beyond gun shot range, some had fired four rounds. Six men were wounded, some of them very severely, but none killed. More than fifty balls passed through the boats and rigging.
The outlaws took boats and pursued for twelve miles, the latter four of which they kept up a running fire, but without effect.–The sheriff finally took refuge on the Barque Morgan, where the wounds were bound up, and the same night he returned to Beaver.
The intention of the outlaws was to kill the whole party, and then report that they had been killed while engaged in committing some crime, and thus set public indignation against the Mormons. The sheriff escaping, they took alarm, lest some signal act of revenge should follow, and all fled. The fishermen at Gull Island, and who were in league with them, fled as soon as they got the news. Not a soul was left at either place.
Scattering in such hot haste they failed to agree upon any story to tell, for the purpose of charging the blame on the Mormons. At Mackinac an attempt was made to put afloat the story that the Mormons had shot first, and wounded a boy. But the history of the matter was already before the public, and they failed to successfully falsify it.
At the circuit court held at Saint James shortly after, the guilty parties were indicted, but none have been arrested.
Since then there has been no attempt to interrupt the due course of legal administration in Emmet. The population is rapidly increasing. Though as yet it has no rich men, it has no paupers. There are schools for all the children. No liquors are sold, and the population are contented, prosperous and happy. The Indian population are superior in moral and material progress to any others in the state.
CONDUCT OF MACKINAC TOWARDS THE MORMONS.
From the first opening of the controversy against the Mormons, with a few honorable exceptions, the people of Mackinac have joined in every project for their destruction with relentless hatred. Immense and immeasurable as was the previous blackguardism, turpitude and rapacity of Mackinac; infamous to a proverb, in her reeking corruption; her conduct towards the Mormons has been more than ordinarily intemperate, indecent and violent.
Mackinac, which was mostly built on public plunder, and enlarged and beautified by stealing from the United States the town on Drummond Island, surrendered by Great Britain, which gained all its wealth; supported its luxury, and supplied the waste of its immense and unequalled dissipation, by plundering the national treasury and robbing and stealing from the Indians; has exhausted the vocabulary of the language, for words wherewith to accuse the Mormons; who were six years in her exclusive jurisdiction without her being able to convict one of an offence; though so shameless in her proceedings that public officers BOAST OF STEALING FROM THE MORMONS BY THE PERVERSION OF LEGAL AUTHORITY.
The people of Mackinac had stood at the public treasury, like pigs at a trough, with nose and feet in, and received nothing from the nation but favors; and upon the first sound of arms surrendered their place, and took MONEY AND THE OATH OF ALLEGIANCE at the hands of the British; and now they find a poverty of words, and a marasmus of language to express their horror of the treason of the Mormons, who after being robbed and plundered of millions of property by the public authorities in two different states, and exiled from their boundaries, have determined to flee no further; to die upon their native soil, rather than flee from their country, for a home where they can worship God.
Rhetoric is exhausted in the vain effort to describe the morals of Mackinac and its surrounding dependencies; where men raised to civilization have separated themselves from the restraints of society, leaving families and character behind, to give loose reins to lust and avarice; dreading no frown from the powerless, illiterate and dependent Indians; no loss of caste among the fellows whose errand is the same unrestrained saturnalia, in which actors and victims alike perish; where Indian men are brutified by persuasions and temptations, which a christian education and the experience of mature years in civilized communities, would resist in vain; that their wives may be intoxicated by compulsion, and prostituted by violence, before their eyes; where the humanity of the Indian has been ignored, and his rights placed below those of the dog, and thousands murdered by slow debasing processes of torture, immeasurably more cruel than the Indian ever knew how to inflict; for no greater temptation than the profits on adulterated whiskey; where men who are ashamed to intermarry with the colored races, have taken not only marriageable Indian women, but Indian wives, as prostitutes, and concubines during pleasure; till the streets were filled with half bloods, whose fathers were ashamed to acknowledge them; using their own daughters and grand-daughters as prostitutes in the same polluted bed with their mothers, till incest with the mixed races ceases to be despicable in their eyes.
Yet in this Mackinac, whose tints no logomachy can make lifelike, are stalking about, wretches with withered and tearless eyes, wilted cheeks, shrunken vitals, and hearts where [Page 42] pulsation is dying out, and whose consciences are in no trouble in the recollection of robbery, rape and murder; asking assistance from christian men to exterminate the Mormons; while in her mansions, late returned from loathing infamy to revel in wealth and falsehood; amassing and destroying, and destroying and amassing; living lives made up of the refuse of human depravity; her chief men invoke the power of the mob, the stiletto of the assassins, the poisoned chalice, the perjury of their creatures, the perversion of the law, the corruption of the judiciary and the crushing weight of State and national government: to help them steal a few farms made valuable by the labor of Mormons; and correct the morals of a people among whom in seven years not one child had been born out of wedlock, and the sole discovered case of fornication or adultery punished by publicly whipping and banishing the guilty man from the settlement.
In Mackinac, where at the Indian payments the most respectable men have heretofore considered stealing from the Indian annuities honorable; where hundreds of inexperienced whites, and thousands of Indians, have been victimized and their lives destroyed for the sole purpose of obtaining their property; where gambling, drunkenness and debauchery swallow up all things, and during one third of the year are the sole employment of the population; where twenty cold blooded murders have been committed within the memory of man, and not one punished; where, till recently, poor men were imprisoned and sold without law and without process: where law is scarcely resorted to, except to gull or destroy some one by the perversion of it; and where the pubic officers, the sworn conservators of the peace, openly and shamefully appeal to the mob power to override the authority of the law, and publish their perjured infamy with their names signed to it; there, in such a place, the men are found to complain of the Legislature for giving a legal organization to Emmet County, the inhabitants of which have never been guilty of an offence against the peace and good order of society.
Such conduct, out of the common order as it is, is not incomprehensible. Equally with that of a Burke or a Thug, it belongs to Pandemonium. But it is equally a matter of cause and effect.
When the Mormons were expelled from Missouri, the public meeting at Independence, which determined their expulsion, published their reasons for doing so, declaring that they did not proceed against them at law, because they had violated no law; but that on account of difference in religion, and in domestic institutions, (having no slaves,) the presence of the Mormons was incompatible with the happiness of themselves; therefore they would expel them peaceably if they could, and forcibly if they must.
Yet in spite of this public declaration, made by the Missourians, it has for years been asserted, and is believed by ninety-nine in a hundred, even in the free States, that the Mormons were banished from Missouri for their crimes.
So readily was this falsehood credited, that when an attempt was made to steal a country in Illinois, made valuable by the industry of the Mormons, the first move was to accuse them of enormous crimes, and the most astounding corruption, as an excuse for the wrongs which were to be inflicted on them.
Though the Governor of the State, who was present during most of their calamities, overawed and prevented from defending them; the Senate Committee appointed to investigate and whitewash the cruelties practiced on them, the Hon. S. A. Douglass, the distinguished Senator from Illinois, then judge of the Criminal Courts in that district; and Col. Bane, of the United States Army, who witnessed their expulsion; all agree that the patriotism, morals and industry of the Mormons was far superior to that of their enemies; yet christian men have labored successfully in convincing mankind that the Mormons were guilty of all they were accused of, and that the half was not told.
Then why should not men, clothed with iniquity as with a garment; [Page 43] reeking in corruption like the sewer of a slaughter house; whose whole lives are a mystery of iniquity; incomprehensible except by the deductions of Pandemonium; who have for fifty years built up and dwelt in a Collossus of wickedness, at the vastness of which human nature stands aghast; appeal to the same deepseated prejudice; the same wicked credulity; to sanctify more deeds of blood; assist them in destroying a successful rival to their trade; stealing a country preferable to their own, and prolonging the decay of Mackinac, till they can sell to victims able to pay for improvements which are rapidly becoming worthless.
The tide is now turned. Withering, blasting condemnation has come on these outlaws, and their more influential compeers. The tale of Mormon ignorance, cupidity and wickedness, has been resorted to, till the well informed perceive its hollowness and falsehood.–The dignity and manhood of the Mormons has been vindicated in the presence of the assembled wisdom of the State, and their moderation and justice in its highest Courts. The same prudence which characterizes their past acts will insure them a glorious future.
ISLANDS IN EMMET COUNTY.
Besides numerous small and uninhabitable Islands, and one of one or two hundred acres in extent in Grand Traverse Bay, the following habitable Islands are included in Emmet County:
Big Beaver, 13
6 ½ 35,219
Garden, 5 2 4,401
Hog, 3 ½ 1 2,071
High, 3 ½ 2 3,510
Gull, 1 ¼ 140
Le Galete 1
Patmos , 5 1 ½ 3,382
Paros , 2 ¾ 777
Big Sumner, 3 1 ¾ 2,130
Little Sumner, 1 ½ ¾ 583
Poverty, ¾ ½ 192
Little Isle, ¼ 10
St. Martins, 2 ½ 1 ¼ 1,322
Gull, ¼ 14
Little Gull, 6
This Island is the largest in Lake Michigan, and one of the finest in the world. The Harbor at Saint James is the best in the lakes, having an entrance eighty rods wide, with sixty feet water, a perfectly land-locked cove of great depth, with clay bottom, sufficiently extensive to accommodate a thousand vessels.
Saint James is the county seat of Emmet County, the seat of the fishing trade for Lake Michigan, and the headquarters of the Mormons east of the Rocky Mountains. It is a small but flourishing place, and cannot fail of getting a rapid growth.
It is scattered in groups amidst old forest trees, on dry rising ground, having a landscape of matchless beauty spread to the north and east, which the hand of improvement will rapidly develop.
The principal articles sold are fish and wood, and the purchases are dry goods, flour, salt, cordage and hardware. Small quantities of lumber are made, and a great number of fish barrels. Some attention has been given to boat building, and a few small schooners have been constructed here. There is one saw mill. Three large wharves are devoted to the wood business.
There is a post office at Saint James, the only one in Emmet county. A printing press has been in operation there for four years, and a weekly paper is issued.
At the southeast extremity of the island is the new village of Galilee. The only business yet opened is that of getting out wood for steamboats. A large wharf has been built for that purpose. At the southern extremity of the island is a lighthouse.
Most of the island is well adapted to agriculture, and farms have been [Page 44] opened in every part. It produces all the crops usually cultivated in New York, Ohio, Wisconsin and Iowa, in perfection.
Stock of every kind usually raised in the northern states have been introduced, and thrive. The climate is adapted to grazing.–Pastures are green till Christmas. Wheat does not winter kill and corn is never cut off with frost. In short, it has all the advantages of climate which Islands in broad, deep waters usually possess, less cold in winter, and less heat in summer, and an exemption from extreme and sudden changes.
Beaver Island is well watered. It has seven lakes, varying from a quarter of a mile to two miles in length, and brooks without number, several of which are large enough for mill streams.
Big River runs into Lake Michigan at Big Sand Bay. It is eight or nine miles long, and affords water power for several mills. There are a dozen other streams discharging out of the east side of the island, possessing some value. Jordan, discharging the waters of the Lake of Galilee into Lake Michigan, is the largest stream and has a fall of twenty-six feet in one mile. At a very slight expense it can be turned into a new channel, and bring this fall at one point, and furnish a most valuable water power in the new village of Galilee. One of the inlets of Lake Galilee affords a good power for a saw mill. There is a brook one mile west of the light house, with a good mill site on it, near the lake shore.
Lake Galilee is the largest lake in Beaver Island, being two miles long and three quarters of a mile wide. It lays back of Galilee, parallel to the shore of Lake Michigan, and only a quarter of a mile distant. It is elevated twenty-six feet above Lake Michigan, and has a depth of one hundred and forty feet. This lake was once a bay of Lake Michigan and the ridge between is a drift formation of the period when Lake Michigan was some thirty or forty feet higher than it is now.
Font Lake, lying in the rear of Saint James, and separated by a plain a quarter of a mile wide from Saint James Channel, at the north end of Beaver, is the second lake in size, being a mile and a quarter long, and half a mile wide. It is elevated thirty-five feet above Lake Michigan . The outlet is a beautiful little brook, sufficient for a small water power.–This brook is lost in a sand plain, and breaks out in several large springs in the bottom of the harbor of Saint James. It is not improbable that this lake was also formed by the drift.
The other lakes are smaller, varying from fifty to one hundred acres in extent. They are generally well stocked with fish, though none of them have outlets. They have fine wooded shores, with handsome dry beaches, and gives a wonderful charm to the scenery.
The face of the Island is gently rolling, and elevated generally from forty to eighty feet above Lake Michigan. Along the west shore is a long range of downs and sand bluffs, but partially covered with timber.
Two principal roads have been opened through the Island, one extending from Saint James due south to Galilee, and the other to a bay one mile west of the light house.
Nearly the whole island is laid out in farms, abutting upon these two roads; the general form being from fifty to eighty rods wide, and from one to two miles long, and usually from one hundred and fifty to two hundred acres in extent. By this arrangement there is an important saving in the amount of road making necessary to accommodate the country, and it will give the country, when well improved, a wonderful appearance of wealth and thrift.
EARLY SETTLEMENT OF BEAVER.
The French of Champlain’s colony at Quebec were at Beaver before the Puritans reached Plymouth, or the Dutch New York. Utensils left by them at different early periods are frequently found. Extensive fields which they cultivated are grown up to woods, and some remain in grass. But there are strong indications of the presence of civilization at a still earlier period.–The French settlement in Canada dates in 1608, but [Page 45] there are extensive fields on Beaver which have been thoroughly cleared and cultivated; and some very fine garden plats remain with the beds, paths and alleys as well formed as the day they were made, and laid out on an extended scale, on which trees have been cut of two hundred and four years growth.–Consequently these places have been abandoned and grown up to timber, at the least since 1650.
But cultivated fields are generally several years abandoned before they grow to timber. These were too extensive and show too much signs of wealth and ease to have been the work of a few adventurers.
There is room at least to believe that of the numerous European colonies which were planted in America and lost without their fate ever being known, some one was carried captive to this recess of the continent and allowed to remain in peace. The existence of such a fact is almost necessary to account for the rapid extension of Champlain’s colony in this direction. For it is certain that within three or four years after Champlain commenced the colony of Quebec, it had extended to Beaver Island, and had a trading house at what now is Saint James.
In 1688 Baron LaHontan, Lord Lieut. of Placentia, passed this way on a voyage to and up the Saint Peter’s river, of Minnesota, near the head of which he found captives from the country around a Salt Lake beyond them, having beards, and the appearance of Europeans, whom he took to be Spaniards; though they being slaves, and in the presence of their masters, called themselves Indians.
These captives described their country as the abode of civilization, (how could savages from the interior of the continent give such a description unless there was such a nation in their country?) and since the country has been better known, we find the other Indian tribes spoken of by LaHontan, but none bearded and resembling Europeans. It can hardly be otherwise than that some considerable settlements of Europeans came into the very heart of the continent and brought with them the industrial arts; whose history is unknown, and have been quite destroyed, or have melted away in the mass of mankind, leaving but some faint and fast passing memorials.
Captain H. Stansbury makes the voyage of this Baron La Hontan, to have been in the direction of the Utah Basin; but this is a most obvious mistake; for La Hontan went from the mouth of the Wisconsin, UP THE MISSISSIPPI, to a River bearing the description of the Saint Peter’s; then far up that, though NOT TO THE LAKE IN WHICH IT RISES; and the Salt Lake was but one hundred and fifty leagues (450 miles) beyond; which would only make the distance to the salt region of Minnesota. (See Stansbury’s Expedition to Salt Lake, p. 150 to 155, and map.)
La Hontan’s map exhibits the Missouri River far to the south of his final stopping place, and Lake Superior and Winnipeg to the North-East; and the only difficulty in applying his location of the country, and of these captive Europeans to the salt region of Minnesota, is, that he makes it West instead of North of the head of the Saint Peter’s, an error founded only on an Indian map, marked on Elk skin, which he copied.
The Indian name of this Island is Tagoning, signifying garden or cultivated land. It is now inhabited by about two hundred Indians, who subsist by fishing and raising corn and potatoes. Many of them can read and write; their morals are good, and they are improving; and, what is quite uncommon, are increasing in numbers.
Tagoning is considered the best Island for Cultivation in the group, and the Mormons have taken pains to keep off the Whites, and retain it in the exclusive possession of the Indians. It has two Harbors, one of which is perfectly land-locked, and will answer well all the purposes of the Island , but it is so situated as not to attract any general commerce.
Hog Island is occupied by a few families of Indians. Most of it has been in cultivation, but is now grown up to forests. Large fields, however, [Page 46] remain to grass. The soil is poor, but well adapted to grazing, and very little labor would be requisite to open an extensive grazing farm.
High Island has considerable waste land, but much of the soil is of the very best quality. It has extensive old fields, most of which are grown up to forests, but some remain to grass. It is exceedingly well adapted to settlement, and the Mormons have a small beginning.–The harbor is deep and bold, with good anchorage, but not entirely land-locked.
The West side of the Island is a vast range of downs, rearing their bald heads near four hundred feet high. Hence the name of the Island. These downs make a valuable landmark for seamen, being visible in clear weather forty or fifty miles. Singular as it may appear, they are slowly progressing to the East, the wind every year moving considerable quantities of sand from their Western slopes over the summits to the Eastern. This process forms vast chasms in the West slope, while on the East, tall trees are found killed with the accumulated sands, and buried nearly to the tops.
Gull is the best of the fishing Islands , and would make a respectable farm. It has good landings, but no Harbor. The soil is fertile.
TROUT, VIRGIN AND RABBIT ISLANDS.
These Islands are piles of gravel elevated a few feet above the Lake, and are all valued as stations for fishing. They furnish wood for fuel and buildings for the fishermen, and the soil admits of cultivation. The landing is indifferent, and the anchorage bad.
Patmos is a mountain rising abruptly from Lake Michigan, to the height of two or three hundred feet. The summit is rolling and beautiful, and a most excellent soil. Towards the South-East the land is but moderately elevated, and exquisitely beautiful. There is the Mormon settlement. Several farms are opened, but there is room for more. No better farming land is found anywhere. There is no Harbor, but the shores are bold, and the landing good with any kind of craft.
The bluffs of Patmos are immense piles of clay. The quality is suitable for pottery.–For brick it is equal to the Milwaukee. Sand and clay can be obtained in the same yard, the wood cut within a quarter of a mile, and the brick shipped from the kiln over the gangway plank. The want of capital has prevented the business being undertaken.
The Island is to be laid out in farms, extending from the East to the West shore, and usually about two hundred acres in extent, and all intersected by a single road, from one end of the Island to the other, which rises to the summit by a very gentle ascent.
Paros is a miniature of Patmos , though not quite equal in quality. The Mormons are just commencing a settlement upon it.
Big Summer is the largest and most valuable of the Summer Island Group. It is partially surrounded and cut in different places by steep ledges of limestone, but the soil is excellent for cultivation. It has an excellent Harbor, which will naturally draw around it the business of the group, and build up a pretty little town.
Saint Martin is elevated four hundred and fifty feet above the Lake, and its shores are precipitous limestone cliffs. Around it are valuable fisheries, and the soil is fertile, and well adapted to farming.
Little Summer Island has a good soil for agriculture, and the fisheries around it, though not extensive, are good. It shores are rough and precipitous, but the water full of reefs and shoals.
Poverty Island has precipitous shores, a good soil, and fisheries of [Page 47] some value. It deserves a better name than it has received.
Isle Le Galet has a Light House upon it.
Wau-go-shance Light House is on an artificial Island eighty feet square, built for the purpose. Except the new Light House on the reef before old Fort Erie, at the entrance of Buffalo Harbor, it is the most splendid work of the kind along the Lake.
Point Wau-go-shance consists of a row of small Islands, separated from the main land by shallow channels, broken through in the last twelve years.
There is a beautiful Island, large enough for settlement, near the Peninsula of Grand Traverse, which with all the small Islands in that Bay is in Emmet County. The Green Islands in the Straits of Michilimackinac, some small ones along the North shore of the Lake, and the waters of Green Bay, and others scattered among the Beaver and Summer group, are also included, but they are not of the slightest account, except as obstructions to the navigation. They may be resorted to occasionally for fishing stations, but scarcely afford any advantages over the contiguous shores.
This is the site of the second ancient Michilimackinac, but is now uninhabited. It is in the North-East corner of the County of Emmet. It begins to have some importance as the point at which any Rail Road from Lake Superior to Detroit must across the Straits.–The early construction of such a road is now probable; the plan being to ferry across the Straits, which at that point are only three and a half or four miles wide.
The plan of a ferry, however, will not succeed; because the ice forms in such quantities as to entirely prevent the passage of boats long before sleighs can cross on it. If the road is located across the Straits, it will necessarily cross on a bridge, in order to secure the winter business.
LITTLE TRAVERSE BAY.
Little Traverse puts up deep into Emmet County, nearly dividing the main land. The head of the Bay is an excellent Harbor, well adapted to local commerce. It is too far off the regular steamboat routes to attract the steamers on the long lines. Nevertheless, when the country settles, it will become a place of much consequence.
The Indian settlements around Little Traverse are extensive and prosperous. The soil is well adapted to agriculture, and the country well watered. There are several streams furnishing good water power, and considerable quantities of valuable timber around them.–But it is not so abundant, as to tempt lumbermen to make lumber for export.
There is a winter road from the head of Little Traverse to Duncan; another to Grand Traverse, and thence to the Muskegon; and one from the head of Little Traverse to Cross Village, from which place the passage is made on the ice, by way of Point Wau-go-shance and Hat, Hog and Garden Islands to Saint James.
At the center of the promontory between Grand and Little Traverse Bays, a small river enters Lake Michigan . On the old maps it is named See-pe-wa, or Green River; but is now known extensively by the name of Pine River. This stream is only a quarter of a mile long, and comes out of a Lake of about one hundred acres in extent, which is connected by a River only sixty rods long with Long Lake, sometimes called Pine Lake.
Pine Lake extends by its main or widest channel fourteen miles up in the country, and by a narrow Bay branching from one side several miles further. The shores of this Lake are bold, its waters deep; it embosoms some beautiful islands; it is indented by numerous promontories; separated by deep bays and harbors; presenting as fine natural scenery as the eye of man ever beheld.
The country around PineLake is well wooded, maple mid beach being the prevailing timber. There is enough of pine for the use of the inhabitants, [Page 48] but the quantity does not accord well with that name.
The mouth of the river is closed by a bar, with no more than two feet of water. Inside this the depth is sufficient for steamboats.–But, there is fall enough between PineLake and Lake Michigan to drive mills. The bay in which Pine River discharges makes a very good harbor, and with the advantage of water power, inland navigation, and a fine back country, it cannot fail of becoming a flourishing place.
When the outlaws who had been engaged in the crusade against the Mormons left Beaver, many of them went to Pine River. There they were joined by others from various quarters, ostensibly for the purpose of fishing. The fisheries have never supported the settlement. Indeed, very few fish were sold. With no other visible business, they continued to increase till 1853, when they numbered seventy or eighty men.
These men made an occasional descent upon Beaver to steal from the Mormons. But as their object was to steal, they were not particular who suffered by it, and were prowling about the lakes at all times, and taking whatever was in their way, and charging their own thefts to the Mormons. The breaking up of their settlement after the murderous assault on the Sheriff of Emmet, gave security to property for fifty miles around.
This vast region of the ancient Michilimackinac, so early visited by civilization, has but just started on the race of Empire. Possessed of all the national elements in boundless extent, with a climate which insures a hardy race, and natural facilities for the greatest enterprises of this enterprising age, its growth must be as rapid as it is long delayed.
NOTICES OF THE PRESS.
The important position which Mormonism has assumed in the affairs of this continent, the marks of perpetuity which now surround it, and its extraordinary character, give it an importance which a few years ago no sane man, out of that faith, believed it would ever attain. From the past experience, there is no probability that they will cease to gain large accession for many years to come. Their missionaries are now found in nearly all the countries of Europe, as well as many in Asia , and are generally successful.–Human foresight can set no limit to its future power, and its influence on the destinies of the American continent.–Fredonia Advertiser, March 18, 1853 .
We went into the House to hear the arguments upon the contested seats from Newaygo county. “King Strang” plead his right in a masterly and convincing manner. He is a talented man, equal to any other man in debate and general information.–Jackson Citizen, February 10. 1853.
The case of James Barton, contesting the seat of Hon. J. J. Strang, is yet undecided. Mr. Strang presents and argues his case in person, with a force of reasoning, energy and eloquence which, whatever may be the result, will leave a most favorable opinion of his personal qualifications for the position be claims.–Mich. State Jour., Jan. 10, 1853.
The Mormon Prophet Strang, more familiarly known as King Strang, was yesterday arrested by a Detroit officer upon a bench warrant. Strang claimed his privilege as a member, and sustained his position in an able speech. His arrest he attributed to malice, and the position was sustained by strong proof. The House today discharged him from arrest, in spite of a strong and powerful prejudice against him. Today Messrs. Barton and Southerland, who are contesting the seats of Messrs. Strang and Hoyt, (the former of Emmet and the latter of Saginaw,) made their argument before the Committee on Elections. The Prophet again was on hand, and in a speech of much strength, shrewdness and tact, maintained his right to be enrolled among the Honorables of Michigan.–Pontiac Jacksonian, Jannary 11, 1853.
Mr. Strang is confessedly the most talented and ready debater in the House. He seems equally ready on any subject, political, commercial, financial, judicial, educational, or anything else within the range of legislation. He is bold, decided, positive–and woe to him who provokes his satire and sarcasm, for his wit is as unmerciful as it is ready in retort. He is ardent, passionate and rapid in his oratory, even to a fault–but is clear and forcible in argument, and never fails to make himself understood.–Temperance Advocate, February 10, 1853 .
Mr. Strang’s course as a member of the present legislature has disarmed much of the prejudice which had previously surrounded him. Whatever may be said or thought of the peculiar sect of which he is the local head, throughout this session he has conducted himself with a degree of decorum and propriety which have been equaled by his industry, sagacity, good temper, apparent regard for the true interests of the people, and the obligations of his official oath.–Detroit Advertiser, Feb. 10, 1853.
There is no one of the advocates of a general law able to measure swords with Strang in debate, and they all know it, so they fight him out doors and in, by low insinuations about “Beaver Island.” Such a mode of dealing with one who ever treats every member like a gentleman, without intruding upon them or the House his peculiar religious views, is not exactly “on the square,” but he is able and will take care of himself.–Detroit Advertiser, Feb. 5, 1853.
The Beaver Island Mormons are defended in our columns this morning by Mr. J. J. Strang, their leader. He writes ably and makes out a strong case. If his representations are correct, no body of men were ever more calumniated than he and his disciples. We have heard of them as deluded and vicious persons, stirrers up of crime and disorder, and sure to receive prompt and condign punishment.–These reports have, however, not been verified by the subsequent chastisement of the alleged offenders, and now we are informed that the reason is, that they have committed no offence at all. We cannot, of course, judge whether Mr. Strang is right or his accusers, but we must say that the statement is a very plausible one, and that if they do not presently overthrow it by clear evidence, the public in this quarter will incline to give a verdict in favor of the Beaver Island Mormons.–New York Daily Tribune, July 2, 1853.
THE BEAVER ISLAND TROUBLES.–The letter from J. J. Strang, the Mormon leader on Beaver Island, will attract attention. It is a reply to the letter of a correspondent who spoke freely against the alleged conduct of the Mormons. As a matter of justice we give Mr. Strang’s letter, with the remark that it is accompanied with very ample evidence of his respectability, from those who have had excellent opportunities of forming a correct opinion.–Rochester Democrat, Aug. 27, 1853 .
King Strang’s senatorial career has been an eloquent and an honorable one.–Detroit Free Press, Feb. 14, 1853 .
Col. Deland, of the Saginaw (Mich.) Herald, says: We knew Mr. Strang well, and that he was a far better man than he has at times been represented. As a Legislator he was vigilant, careful and just; and some of the best laws of Michigan made in those days were made by his pen and influence.”
Col. DeLand was clerk and reporter in the House of Representatives.
The foregoing notices from the press are selected from among nu merous similar ones, as indicating a change of public opinion favorable to the Mormons.