Skip to main content

Full text of "Early days in Detroit; papers written by General Friend Palmer of Detroit, being his personal reminiscences of important events and descriptions of the city for over eighty years"

See other formats

Digitized by tine Internet Archive 

in 2007 with funding from 

IVIicrosoft Corporation 












Copyright, 1906 
By Hunt and Junk 








Several years ago, when I was about to leave for New York, 
the General, as we always called him, said rather sadly, "It will 
be very lonesome, when you are away and the hours will be long 
and sometimes weary." 

"Why don't you write your reminiscences?" I asked. "That 
will keep your heart and mind busy and time will pass so swiftly 
that I will be back before you have fairly missed me." 

"Where will I commence," asked the General. 

"Take the river front from the River Rouge to Bloody Run 
and then zig zag to and fro until you have covered the old city." 
He did so. He started the papers for the Detroit Free Press and 
they have been published regularly with but few intermissions 
ever since. 

He has woven a story which will interest many in whose 
veins runs the blood of the pioneers and one which will prove of 
infinite value to the historian who shall write the story of Detroit 
and the great Northwest. 

General Palmer was my cousin, my friend and my lifelong 
comrade. For many years he shared my home, and in that home 
he closed his eyes forever. In these papers there is kindness for 
all and malice for none. 


No work was ever published without omissions or trivial 
errors, and the publishers claim no better verdict for this volume. 

Friend Palmer was stricken with his fatal illness the very 
day he and the editors were to b€gin re-editing the manuscript. 
As these are strictly personal reminiscences, the editors did not 
feel authorized in making any alterations without the author's 
co-operation. We therefore present it without rearrangement or 

If the living representatives of the families named herein 
will notify us of ^ny mistakes or omissions, we will be happy to 
correct them in future editions. 

With a tender appreciation of Friend Palmer's lovable and 
kindly characteristics, we present his book in its present crude 
but authentic form. 

The Editors, 

H. P. Hunt, 
C. M. June. 


DILD OCTOBER 9th. 1906 

The remains of General Palmer were removed from the resi- 
dence of former Senator Thomas W. Palmer at lo o'clock and 
taken to the Elmwood Cemetery chapel, where the services were 
held at 2 130 o'clock, Rev. Reed Stuart of the Unitarian Church 

Senator T. W. Palmer, who said, "When I was a boy I read 
a couplet written, I know not by whom, which impressed me so 
forcibly that I have remembered it through life. It is as follows : 

" 'Thou art not a king of terrors, Death, 
But a maiden with golden hair.' 


"This couplet has clung to me through Hfe, and on occasions 
like this is brought forcibly to my mind. While it does not apply 
to those who are in the heyday of life, full of health and strength, 
when life lies all before them, full of achievement and promise 
of achievement, it is particularly applicable to cases like this. 

"The General, as we called him, sank away gradually with- 
out preliminary suffering, and went down into the valley so 
quietly that it seemed to me the maiden with golden hair took him 
by the hand and led him across the line into the other life. 

"He was a member of my father's family when I was born 
and for seventy-six years we were very near each other. Although 
we were separated from each ot'her by other family ties, our sympa- 
thies were almost always in common. In his youth General Pal- 
mer was the friend of all young men in his town, and as they 
came to manhood their regard for him was not diminished. He 
was a kind and sympathetic man, and all went to him with their 
troubles. He met the vicisitudes of life with calm philosophy. 
He lost his wife and two children, leaving only one behind, and 
while he grieved for them it never affected his deportment toward 
others. He was a helpful man and too responsive for his own 
good in material things. 


''Although he may ha-ve had resentments he retained no ani- 
mosities. He was a philosophic man and took the ordinary annoy- 
ances of life with cheerful acceptance. He was a religious man 
and, although not devout in conversation, believed in the great 
law of compensation and that time at least would make all things 
even. His religion was not dogmatic. He was charitable in his 
judgment of others. He believed in the great hereafter that 
would bring every wanderer home. He was a man of critical lit- 
erary tastes, and, although he did not obtrude his conversation on 
others would astonish his friends when circumstances caused him 
to expose his knowledge of literature, and particularly of books 
of travel. 

''He will be much missed by me, my family, my household, 
and all who knew him. I can think of no better way of ending 
my remarks than by a quotation which a friend repeated to me 
in the carriage on my way to the cemetery and which I asked him 
to write out : 

" 'Calmly he looked on either life, and here 
Saw nothing to regret or there to fear, 
From Nature's temperate least rose satisfied, 
Thanked Heaven that he had lived, and died.' 

"Today we place him beside his wife and children in the same 
ground with his parents and two generations of friends who have 
preceded him, happy in his life and thrice happy in his death." 

The active pallbearers were Charles Miller. Ernest Mar- 
son, Henry M. Rice, William Wemp, Henry Grix, Roswell A. 
Hollister, Clare Bennett and Mr. Marshall. 

The honorary pallbearers were Alexander Lewis, Alexander 
M. Campau, Gen. Henry L. Chipman, Don M. Dickinson, George 
N. Brady, William Livingstone, William E. Quinby, General h. 
S. Trowbridge, Colonel S. E. Pittman, Colonel J. D. Lydecker, 
Richard R. Elliott, William V. Moore, Richard H. Fyfe, C. A. 
Kent, J. M. Shepard, John M. Wendell, Colonel James M. Shep- 
lierd and J. B. Cook. 


In Days o? Danger '. 17 

My Arrival in Detroit, May, 1827 23 

The Early Marine 26 

Earlier Navigation on Lake and River 30 

Slavery Days in Michigan 103 

The Toledo War 108 

Incidents oe the Patriot War 113 

Early Day Architecture 120 

Surveying in Early Days 123 

Perils of Pioneer Days 124 

The Happy French Habitant .* . 126 

"The Winning oe the West'' 130 

The Iron Men oe the Border 1 34 

In Days oe Old 138 

Early Days in Detroit .- 144 

Our Citizen Soldiers 163 

Old Express Days 194 

Old Hotels oe Detroit 213 

Tippecanoe and Tyler Too 240 

Remarkable Specimen oe Native Copper 247 

When Detroit Had a Town Pump 254 

Royalty Saw Detroit. 261 

First Baptist Church : . . . . 264 

Detroit Merchants of Long Ago 269 

No More Credit at the Postoffice 275 

Fighting Epidemics 280 

When Woodward Avenue Was a Corduroy Road 287 

Colonel McDougall Was a Rare Old Soul 294 

Rev. John N. Maffitt's Work in Detroit 299 

Went to Pontiac by Way of Mt. Clemens 304 

12 early days in detroit. 

Tramps Received Ten Stripes 310 

When Indians Were Hanged in Michigan 315 

Washington Bonnet Inspired a Poet 321 

Early History of the Detroit Free Press 325 

Fighting Fire in the Old Days 331 

Keen Rivalry of Fire Fighters 335 

Famous Buildings Destroyed by Fire 341 

Darius Clark and M. C. R. R. Fire in 1850 347 

Heroic Work of Volunteer Firemen 351 

Volunteer Firemen Became Famous 357 

Social Functions of Volunteer Firemen 361 

Fined $10 if Your Chimney Blazed 366 

The Old River Road 370 

Early Festivities 374 

DowN-RivER Homes 378 

The Cass Family 381 

Old Mansion House 385 

Old River Front 389 

Many Old Buildings 393 

Tunis S. Wendell 397 

Old Jefferson Avenue 401 

Dancing Teachers 407 

Old Business Men 412, 463 

S. L. Rood's Store 418 

Mr. John Owen .421 

A Son's Tribute 427 

Joseph Campau 433 

The Campau Family 438 

F. & T. Palmer's Stores 443 

F. & T. Palmer 449 

Old Storekeepers 455 

Early Postmasters 459 

Makers of Detroit 467 

Men of the Forties 473 

The Desnoyers Heirs 476 

Recollections of Men Prominent in the City's Affairs 481 

Colonel Joshua Howard a Man of Note 594 

General Isaac DeGraff Toll 601 

contents. 13 

The Navarre Family. 606 

The St. Martin Family 614 

The Peltier Family 619 

The Labx\die Family. ^ 623 

The Chapoton and Cicotte Families 630 

Five Prominent Families — Rivard, Lafferty, Riopelle, 

DuBois, St. Aubin 636 

The Chene Family. 640 

The Merry French Carts 644 

Hamtramck 650 

The Streets in the Lower Part of the City 665 

Christmas in Detroit's Earlier Days 669 

The Old Berthelet Market 674 

Woodward Avenue in the Thirties 710 

Visiting Firemen '..... 802 

The Cass Farm 805 

Judge Solomon Sibley 814 

A Noted Firm 826 

Conspicuous Men in Life of the City 819, 842 

The Lewis Family 842 

Business Houses in 1850 852 

Persons Prominent in the City's Life 856 

State Capitol and Supreme Court 865 

Detroit Boat Club 868 

Recollections of Persons and Events in Years Long 

Past .' 872 

Recollections of Mexican War 876 

Fall of Fort Dearborn (Chicago) 880 

Something About Business Men of the City Seventy 

Years or More Ago 886 

The Old Ten Eyck Tavern ' , 906 

Marriage and Death Notices '. 910 

Some Residents That I Have Overlooked 915 

The Plat of the Town Known as Woodward's Plan. . 918 

Buffalo to Detroit by Steamboat in 1821.. . , 921 

Elkanah Watson and the Erie Canal 925 

Prince Philip and Queen Mary 928 

14 early days in detroit. 

The Fort Street Girls 934 

Belles and Beaux of Bygone Days 944 

Randolph Street 953 

First Protestant Society 962 

Farewell to Judge A. B. Woodward 965 

Early Social Conditions 973 

Recollections of the First Theatres in Detroit 980 

On the Canadian Side 1000 






44 T N 1807 the little town of Detroit was just rising from its 

I ashes. The Indians of the surrounding wilderness were 

even then seriously threatening the settlements. At that 

time there was but a small regular force in garrison at the old 

fort, and, for the purpose of affording additional protection, a 

body of volunteers was called out and placed under the immediate 

command of Major John Whipple. 

''The main guard was posted at the Indian council house, 
where the new firemen's hall now stands, and a blockhouse was 
erected on Jefferson Avenue, on the Brush farm. The tow^n was 
surrounded by a row of strong pickets fourteen feet high, with 
loopholes through which to fire. The line of pickets commenced 
at the river on the line of the Brush farm and followed that line 
to about Congress Street, and thence westerly along or near Mich- 
igan Avenue back to the old fort, to the east line of the Cass farm, 
and followed that line to the river. At Jefferson Avenue, at the 
Cass line, and on Atwater Street, on the Brush farm, massive 
gates were placed, which, daily, at rise and set of sun, grated on 
their ponderous hinges. Pickets were placed at them and along 
the line. 

"It was rather an exciting time, but many ludicrous scenes 
occurred. Among others, on a dark, rainy night, a sentinel fired 
at an imaginary Indian, the drums beat to arms, the troops turned 
out, and a militia colonel (he was not a native of Michigan), 
who lived at a distance from the quarters of the troops, hearing 


the alarm, seized his portmanteau in one hand, and the muzzle of 
a musket with the other, ran at full speed to the guard house, 
dragging the but of his gun in the mud. He kept on his headlong 
way until, encountering a small shade tree, it bent away before 
him, and he slid up to the limbs, but the recoil of the sapling left 
the gallant warrior flat on his back in the mud. 

*'The pickets remained around the town when the war of 
1812 began. 

"In 1814 General Cass, then a general officer in the army, was 
in command of the frontier, with a body of troops to protect the 
country. Our army on the Niagara frontier was hard pressed, 
and the general, unsolicited, sent to General Brown all his force ; 
only a dozen or so of invalids, unfit for service, remained. Gen- 
eral Cass had become acquainted with our people, well knew their 
courage and patriotism, and determined, with them alone, io 
defend the country ; and they did not disappoint his expectations. 


"Mr. McMillan, whose widow and children, after the lapse 
of forty years, are still with us, had joined Captain Andrew West- 
brook's company of Rangers. Captain Westbrook was a native 
of Massachusetts, and had been taken in his childhood by his 
father to Nova Scotia. He afterwards found his way to Dela- 
ware, on the Thames, in Upper Canada, where he was living when 
the war of 1812 broke out. 

"He was too much of a Yankee to be quiet, and they drove 
him oflf. He came to Michigan, raised a company of Rangers,, 
and proved to be an exceedingly active partisan soldier, and seri- 
ously annoyed the enemy. He made frequent incursions into the 
province as far up as Delaware. 

"He was at that time a man of considerable wealth, had a 
fine large house, distillery, etc., at Delaware. On his first visit 
there with the Rangers he called them around him at his own 
place and, swinging a firebrand around his head, he said : 

" 'Boys, you have just fifteen minutes to plunder my prem- 
ises ; after that I give them to the flames !' And true to his word 
he applied the brand and burnt up the whole concern. 

"Captain Westbrook afterwards settled on the beautiful 
banks of the river St. Clair, where we have often experienced the 
generous hospitality" of 'Baronial Hall.' We usually called him 
Baron Steuben. 



''McMillan belonged to this corps. He was a gallant soldier 
and did good service for his country. On the 15th of September, 
18 14, the morning after his return from the Ronde, in Upper 
Canada, he, with his young son, Archibald, then 11 years old, 
went upon the common to find his cow. What follows, I have 
from an eye-witness, Mr. William McVey, of the Rouge : 

"David and William Burbank and myself were sitting down 
at the Deer park, on the Macomb (now Cass) farm, near where 
Lafayette Avenue crosses it, watching our cows. Mr. McMillan 
and Archie passed us. W^e spoke to them about some apples they 
were eating. They passed towards some cows that were feeding 
near some bushes (the bushes then came down to where the cap- 
itol stands). We kept our eyes on them, thinking danger might 
be near. When they approached within gunshot of the bushes, 
we saw three or four guns fired and saw McMillan fall. The 
Indians instantly dashed out upon him and took off his scalp. 
Archie, on seeing that his father was killed, turned and ran 
towards us with all the speed that his little legs could supply. 

''A savage on horseback pursued him. As he rode up and 
stooped to seize him, the brave little fellow, nothing daunted, 
turned and struck the horse on the nose with a rod which he hap- 
pened to have in his hand. The horse turned off at the blow and 
Archie put forth his best speed again. And this was repeated sev- 
eral times, until the savage, fearing of losing his prize, sprang 
from the horse, seized the boy and dragged him off to the woods ; 
and thence was taken to Saginaw. 

"About the same time a man by the name of Murphy, who 
lived with the late Abraham Cook, went with a horse and cart 
into the field on Judge Moran's farm, just back of where the 
judge now lives. He was shot; scalped and his bowels cut open 
and left exposed in the field, and the horse was taken off. 


"The Indians were constantly beleaguering the town, sallying 
out occasionally, and driving off and killing the cattle, etc., that 
approached the bushes. Determined to put a stop to this. General 
Cass called upon the young men to arm and follow him. 

"They were ready at the first blast of the bugle, mounted on 
ponies, such as could be had (for there were but few left), and 


armed with all varieties of weapons — rifles, shotguns, war clubs 
and tomahawks, and whatever other instruments of death could 
be had. As the woods and underbrush were very dense, they 
expected to have a hand-to-hand fight, and prepared for it accord- 
ingly. The company consisted of General Cass, Judge Moran, 
Judge Conant,Captain Francis Cicott,James Cicott, Edward Cicott, 
George Cicott, Colonel Henry I. Hunt, General, Charles Larned, 
William Meldrum, James Meldrum, James Rilpy, Peter Riley, 
Lambert Beaubien, John B. Beaubien, Joseph Andre, "Ditt" Clark, 
Louis Moran, Louis Dequinder, Lambert Lafoy, Joseph Riopelle, 
Joseph Visger, Jack Smith, Ben Lucas and John Ruland. I know 
nearly every one of them personally, and a better lot of fellows 
for the business they were on could not be well got together. They 
were then young and full of spirit. 

"After assembling, they rode up along the border of the river, 
to the Witherell farm, and rode through the lane to the woods. 
They soon came upon an Indian camp ; the Indians having fled, 
leaving their meat roasting before the fires upon sticks. 

"Here they found Archie McMillan's hat, and were in hopes 
of finding him. The Rileys discovered the tracks of the enemy 
and a hot pursuit commenced. They were overtaken on the back 
part of the Cass farm and a hot fire was instantly opened ui>on 
them, and was kept up until the word was passed to "Charge!" 
Then, on the whole body went, pell-mell. It was hot work for the 
Indians, and after awhile they fled. Peter Riley, who was in 
advance when the firing commenced, suddenly reigned up his 
horse across the trail, sprang off; and, firing over the horse's back, 
brought a warrior to the ground, and in a twinkling took off his 
scalp and bore it away on a pole in triumph. How many Indians 
were killed is unknown. A squaw came in with a white flag 
a few days afterwards and reported that several of their people 
had been killed. Their chief, Kish-kaw-ko, was carried oflf in a 
blanket, but whether wounded or killed could not be ascertained. 

"Ben Lucas had a personal encounter with an Indian by the 
side of General Cass. After the fight the company came out upon 
the common, except two who were missing. They were the late 
William Meldrum and Major Louis Moran, now of Grand Rap- 
ids. Much anxiety was felt on their account. It was feared that 
they had been killed. However, after a long while the brave fel- 
lows appeared. They had been in hot pursuit of the enemy, and 
had brought back a scalp, as they said, in token of victory. 


"During the whole affair General Cass rode at the head of 
his men, and when advised by Major Whipple to fall back (for 
should he be killed it might create confusion), replied, 'Oh, major, 
I am pretty well off here ; let us push on,' and he kept his post." 

The venerable Judge Conant, who, as I have before men- 
tioned, was among the volunteers, and to whom, as now, a squir- 
rel's eye at forty yards was a sufficient target, states that General 
Cass, and in fact every man in the company, behaved with perfect 
coolness throughout the whole affair. They were nearly all 
accustomed to the woods and the enemy knew it or they might 
have been cut off to a man. 

"After coming out of the woods the company formed and 
marched to the River Rouge, drove a band of savages out of the 
settlement and in the evening returned, having performed a good 
day's work — one that gave quiet to the settlement until the end 
of the war. 

"Before the return of the company to the town it had been 
rumored that the whole party had been killed. On their way up 
from Springwells, the young men of the company raised a shrill 
war-whoop. This confirmed the rumor and numbers of women 
and children rushed to the river and put off in canoes, boats and 
periag^uas for safety in Canada. 

"I have mentioned the three Rileys, James, Peter and John ; 
they were half-breeds. The latter is yet Hving on the St. Clair 
River. They were educated men, and when with white people 
they were gentlemanly, high-toned, honorable men; when with 
the Indians in the woods, they could be perfect Indians, in dress, 
language, hunting, trapping and mode of living. They were the 
sons of the late Judge Rile}^, of Schenectady, who was formerly 
in the Indian trade at Saginawy The three were thorough-going 
Americans in every thought and feeling, and were thought to 
be by the British, after they had gained possession of the terri- 
tory, too dangerous persons to be allowed at large. They sent an 
officer and a few soldiers to St. Clair, seized James and sent him 
to Halifax, where he was kept until the war was over. He was 
aftedwards killed by the explosion of a keg of gunpowder at 
Grand Rapids. 

"Peter remained about Detroit. He (as well as his brothers) 
w^as a great favorite with the Indians, and used occasionally, when 
a little corned, to annoy the British authorities by putting on the 


uniform of an American officer, and with twenty or thirty Chip- 
pewas at his back, parading up and down Jefferson Avenue, every 
now and then giving the war-whoop. 

"The warriors , were, of course, in the British service, but 
Riley was their favorite, and of their own blood, and they would 
not suffer him to be injured without a fight. They were proud 
of his courage and his frolics amused them, so Peter remained 

''Some months after McMillan was killed, and his son carried 
off. Colonel Knaggs seized three Indians, the relatives of those 
who had made the boy a prisoner. They were placed under guard, 
and John Riley was sent to Saginaw to propose an exchange. The 
terms were agreed to, and on the 12th day of January, following 
his capture, Archie was brought in and delivered, as one from 
the dead, to his excellent mother. 

''There were many sufferings endured and danger encoun- 
tered in those days, which no mortal tongue will ever utter and 
no pen record." 



I CAME to Detroit in May, 1827, with my mother and two 
sisters, on the steamer Henry Clay. We were under the 
friendly guidance of Mr. Felix Hinchman (father of Mr. 
Guy F. Hinchman), who took charge of us at Canandaigua, N. Y. 

My father, Friend Palmer, had preceded us some two or 
three months, on account of urgent business matters connected 
with the firm of F. & T. Palmer, of Detroit, of which he was the 
senior partner. 

Our trip through New York from Canandaigua to Buffalo 
was by stage and very rough, the roads having been rendered 
almost impassible by recent rains. It took us, I think, two days 
and two nights to reach Buffalo. We had to wait at that point 
two or three days for the steamboat Henry Clay. We did not 
mind that in the least, for we were quartered at the Old Eagle 
Hotel, kept by Benjamin Rathbun, a most sumptuous resting 
place, I thought it, and so it was for those days. Our trip up the 
lake to Detroit on the Henry Clay was uneventful. We had a 
pleasant passage that occupied, I think, two or three days. The 
Henry Clay, Captain Norton, was a floating palace, we thought,^ 
and we greatly enjoyed the time spent on it. The Henry Clay 
had no cabin on the upper deck — they were all below. When you 
desired to retire for the night or for meals, or get out of the reach 
of rain and storms, downstairs or between decks you had to go. 


We landed at Jones's dock, between Griswold and Shelby 
Streets, on a fine day, about lo o'clock in the morning, and all 
walked up to the residence of my uncle, Thomas Palmer, corner 


of Jefferson Avenue and Griswold Street. There were no public 
conveyances in thpse days. Thomas Palmer lived over his store, 
as did many of the merchants doing business here at that time. 

Let me refer once more to Captain Norton, one of the most 
conspicuous and popular captains on the lakes at that early day. 
The Henry Clay was a crack steamer and, of course, must have 
a corresponding chief officer. Of commanding presence, Captain 
Norton, of the "fast steamboat Henry Clay," when he appeared 
on Jefferson Avenue, clad in his blue swallow-tail coat with brass 
buttons, nankeen pants and vest, and low shoes with white stock- 
ings, not forgetting the ruffle shirt and tall hat, was the observed 
of all observers. Steamboat captains were kings in those days. 
. All were pleased and anxious to show them every attention. 

When the Clay rounded Sandwich point, Detroit lay before 
us and, though small, the city presented quite an attractive appear- 
ance. The most conspicuous object in the distance was the steeple 
or cupola of the state house or territorial capitol building, that 
pushed its head up among the surrounding trees, its tin covering 
glittering in the morning sun. 


The windmills along the river also attracted our wondering 
attention. Three were located on the Canadian side of the river, 
one on the point opposite the residence of the late Joseph Taylor, 
and two just above the present site of Walkerville. The one on 
the American side was on a small point where Knaggs creek then 
entered the river and opposite the old Knaggs' homestead (Hub- 
bard's farm), since destroyed. Knaggs creek later on was oblit- 
erated by the Ives brothers, who turned the place into a drydock. 

The four mills presented to us a wonderful sight on that 
bright May morning. They were in full operation; their four 
immense arms, covered with white sail-cloth, were whirled 
through the air by the force of the wind, and, as said before, 
filled us with delightful amazement as all New York state could 
not produce a scene to match it. 

Two companies of British regulars in their red coats (they 
were stationed at Sandwich) were going through their drill on 
the green in the front of the old Huron Catholic church, its decay- 
ing walls propped by poles, and on the open in front was planted 
a high wooden cross, since destroyed. -The parsonage or mission 


house, however, remained, held up by its two enormous chimneys 
at either end. The contrast presented by the red of the soldiers' 
uniforms and the green sward will always remain a vivid picture 
in my memory, so new and so unique. The Indians Jn their 
canoes, to whom a boat propelled without the aid of sails or oars 
was always an object of wonder, attracted our attention also, as 
did the horse ferry boat, John Burtis, captain, that plied between 
Detroit and Windsor, as slow as ''molasses in January." The 
description of the celebrated first steam monitor of the civil war 
(Ericson's) would aptly apply to this boat of Burtis's, namely, 
"a. cheese box on a raft." 


It is needless to say that my father welcomed us gladly at the 
dock, and my uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Palmer, 
greeted us with a genuine western hospitality that put us directly 
at our ease. I forgot to mention that the late R. E. Roberts was 
a fellow passenger on the Clay, it being his first appearance in 
Detroit, whither he had come to join his brother, John Roberts. 

I will try to give my recollections of Detroit and vicinity, and 
the people at that early day. 

The outlook below the present site of Fort Wayne was not 
quite so inviting as now. The country around the mouth of the 
River Rouge was low, flat and marshy, covered with a most 
luxuriant growth of wild grass (marsh hay), that any one could 
cut if he so desired. What was not cut was usually set fire to in 
the winter and would burn for days, giving the people of the city 
quite a scene, at night illuminating the sky above the marsh and 
showing vividly the flames leaping through the dry grass. The 
same scene used to be repeated every winter on the Grande 
Marias, above the city, just beyond the water works. 

Where Fort Wayne now is, and extending a little this side, 
was an immense hill of yellow sand that always looked from the 
city, like a yellow patch on the landscape. This sandhill, it is 
presumed, was used in the early days (the memory of man run- 
neth not to the contrary), as a burial ground by the Indians, 
because in its slow demolition ( the sand of which was composed 
being used for many purposes by anyone who desired to take the 
trouble to get it), numerous remains of Indians were found who 
had evidently rested there before and since Cadillac's time. 



On the River road (thre was none other at that time),, 
beyond the sand hill, I think, Mr. Reeder lived, on what is now 
the Crane farm. I will halt a moment to dwell on Reeder. I 
presume many now living will remember him. He was quite a 
conspicuous figure in the streets of Detroit — very tall, thin and 
angular, always dressed in a black swallowtail coat, buttoned to 
the chin ; trousers of the same hue, and a tall hat the worse for 
wear. He was almost always under the influence of liquor, his 
frequent potations having lent themselves to painting his face a 
fiery red. He was known to all at that time and, however intoxi- 
cated or in the bonds of the "rosy" he might be, he was always 
most polite and gentlemanly. 

Well, nearly everyone has heard of the passing of Reeder and 
the Reeder farm, the former to the beyond and the latter to the 
late Walter Crane and Reeder's heirs. 

The next residence, I do not know who occupied it at that 
time, was an old style French-built house, with huge chimneys at 
each end. There was an old orchard on the west side. At one 
time, 1808, I think, it was occupied by Judge James Witherell 
and family, who, coming here soon after the destruction of the- 
town by fire in 1805, found suitable tenements exceedingly scarce, 
and had to accommodate themselves to circumstances. It was 
somewhat perilous at that time for people living so far from the 
fort, as the Indians were none too friendly. I have often heard 
Mrs. Thomas Palmer, Senator Palmer's mother and daughter of 
Judge Witherell, relate how her father used to admonish the 
family to keep indoors after dark, for fear of being carried off by 
the redskins. 


The judge and family did not remain there long. The next 
tenants I dot remember, but it was occupied by individuals whom 
many now living will remember,, Walter Harper and Nancy 
Martin. Of the former little is known, and of what the relations 
were that existed between the two, just as little. But Nancy 
Martin's name in connection with Harper Hospital will be remem- 
bered long after the present generation are in the beyond. Her 
property, consisting of eight acres on Woodward avenue, she 
bestowed as a gift for the purpose of founding a hospital to which 
she gave the name of Harper, in memory of her old and life-long 


friend. This hospital is now one of the institutions of the city^ 
an ever present reminder of her generosity. Her name is further 
perpetuated by a beautiful street leading from Woodward Avenue 
to the hospital and is named Martin Place in her honor. She 
died in 1875, February 9, I think. 

It may not be out of place to quote here what Chevalier 
Cadillac, of Detroit's bicennial anniversary celebration, said of her,, 
and it is so true : "In Nancy Martin, contradictory characteris- 
tics were mingled. She was sweet, charitable and good ; she was^ 
coarse, raw and rude ; she was gentle, patient and long suffering ;. 
she was outspoken, jovial and frank. She had a large store o£ 
plain Saxon words more expressive than refined. She was as 
blunt as a barn hostler, and yet she was loving and forgiving, and. 
as tender-hearted as the noblest of her sex. Her truthfulness,, 
sagacity and integrity were never assailed. Do good, you, too,, 
then you also will be remembered when your bones are dust." 

DR. STEJW art's tribute. 

Dr. Morse Stewart, in The Free Press a short time ago, had 
this to say in regard to Nancy Martin: 

"When Walter Harper gave nearly i,qoo acres of land 
situated only a little distance outside of Detroit, also three lots 
with buildings thereon in Philadelphia, and if my memory serves 
me rightly some property in the village of Pontiac, to a board of 
trustees for the purpose of establishing a Protestant charity hospi- 
tal in Detroit, Mrs. Ann (Nancy) Martin supplemented that 
munificent gift by conveying to the same board of trustees eight 
acres of land fronting on Woodward avenue and extending east 
on the rear part of which Harper hospital now stands ; also fifteen 
acres just outside the city limits. These properties were the 
accumulations of many years of hard work as huckster in Detroit 
city markets, the small earnings from which had been wisely 
invested in real estate of growing value. The hospital very appro- 
priately bears the name of its founder, but to this day there exists 
no adequate memorial of the large-hearted woman contributor to 
the enterprise in any part of this rich city so greatly benefited 
thereby. Tested by the standard which our Lord Jesus Christ 
set upon money being cast into the treasury, all the charitable 
contributions of all the rich men of Detroit pale into littleness in 
comparison with this poor woman's gift, 'for they did give of 
their abundance, but she of her need did give all her living.' 

> >> 


In this connection it seems to me that it would not be out of 
place to perpetuate also in some substantial manner the memory 
of Walter Harper and that of Rev. George Duffield, he having 
first suggested the idea to Walter Harper and Nancy Martin. 
The memory of Harper is sufficiently before the people, perhaps, 
in having the hospital bear his name, but the memory of the others 
is not. 

I have said this hospital is an ever present reminder of Nancy 
Martin's generosity, such is the fact, no doubt, to the present 
generation, very many of whom are familiar with the circum- 
stances attending the birth of Harper hospital, but in the long 
years to come who will be likely to think of her or tell her story 
unless something exists in enduring bronze or otherwise to her 
memory ? 

My first recollections of her date back to 1839 and 1840, 
when she and Walter Harper lived in the vicinity of the sand hill, 
Springwells. She was an almost daily visitor at Sidney Rood's 
book store, as a huckster. She paid particular attention to cater- 
ing to the tastes of the epicures in game, furnishing such choice 
eatables as woodcock, quail, wild pigeons, ducks, venison, spring 
chickens, etc. Rood and many that used to congregate at his 
book store, were generous livers and fond of things good to eat, 
and Nancy was on the best of terms with them all. Uncle Shubal 
. Conant was an epicure and fond of game. He, too, always 
patronized her liberally, as did Josh Carew, H. A. Newbould and 
the gay epicurean bachelors, Randolph Brothers, wholesale dry 
goods dealers oh Jefferson Avenue between Woodward Avenue 
and Griswold Street, who kept the first strictly wholesale dry 
goods house in Michigan. Theo. Romeyn, who was the greatest 
epicure in game of them all, and many others also bought from 

Mary Jacklin of late years, almost all will remember, was 
something of the stamp of Nancy Martin, and quite as outspoken. 


Gen. J. E. Schwarz also lived down that way about 1830, in 
a cottage with a veranda in front. The cottage once belonged to 
Hon. Austin E. Wing, and was occupied as a residence by him. 
It stood on Bates Street, between Woodbridge and Atwater 
Streets. The general had a raft constructed and floated the house 



down the river and anchored it ,on the bank about where Baugh's 
iron foundry was built. The general, his wife, who was a highly 
refined lady, and his daughter Emma, made it an ideal home, 
many a gay party from the city enjoying their hospitality. 

The general was always adjutant-general of the state until 
his death, it seems to me, and aside from the elite of the city, 
drew around him all the military officers of the state, as well as_ 
the United States army officers stationed here. Aside from Mr. / 
Uhlman, I think Gen. Schwarz was the only German in the clty^ 
at that time. There were quite a number of English, Scotch and\ 
Irish. The French were in the ascendant, of course. J 

The general was one of the best specimens of a German 
gentleman I ever came in contact with. I think all those that 
knew him' will sustain my assertion. 

His daughter, Miss Emma, long resisted the advances of her 
numerous American admirers, but was finally captured by *'Bob" 
Woods, a young lawyer from Sandwich, across the river, a gentle- 
man, and well up in his profession. They went to Chatham to 
reside and I think they are living there yet, and where, I under- 
stand, Mr. Woods has gained much distinction in his profession. 

The J. P. Clark house next above was built by N. O. Sargent, 
a boot and shoe merchant of Detroit, but I do not think he lived 
to occupy it. Mr. Clark bought it and after making some alter- 
ations, occupied it with his family and continued to live there until 
he died. All are familiar with the drydocks .he built in front of 
his house on the river. It is in use and well to the front now. 
Clark was also owner of the Springwells mineral springs. 





IT is probable that few long-time residents of Detroit retain 
such an interesting fund of information in regard to lake and 

river marine matters of early days as did Friend Palmer, 
some of whose recollections of pioneer boats and their com- 
manders are here set down. 

The steamer Henry Clay was one of the fastest boats on the 
lakes in the early '30s, says Mr. Palmer. Captain W^alter Norton, 
her commander, was a man of fine presence, and he used to cut a 
swell figure when he appeared on Jefferson Avenue, clad in his 
blue coat, with its brass buttons; nankeen trousers, white vest, 
low shoes, white silk stockings, ruffled shirt, high hat, not forget- 
ting the jingling watch chain and seals. Steamboat captains occu- 
pied a high place in the social ranks in those days and much 
deference was shown them. 

I also call to mind Captain Roger Sherman, who commanded 
the steamboat Superior, the second steamer on the lakes after 
the Walk-in-the-Water. The Superior came out on the second 
Tuesday in May, 1822, and was pronounced a decided success. 
She was 346 tons burden, no feet keel, 29 feet beam, engine 56 
, horse-power. The accommodations for passengers were excellent, 
and the ladies' cabin was furnished in a style of great splendor 
for those days. 

Captain William T. Pease was also one of the old school 
gentlemen of the lakes. He commanded respectively the steamers 
Niagara first, Pioneer, Superior, Niagara ^second, and others, 
including the Boston. He was also at one time master of the 
schooner Michigan, which afterwards was sent over Niagara 



Captain L. H. Cotton, of Detroit, it is said, commanded the 
first steamer that ever towed a vessel up the Fort Erie rapids, the 
steamer being the Monroe and the vessel the Milwaukee. He 
was also master from time to time of the steamers Ohio first, 
Pennsylvania, Daniel Webster, Oregon, Baltic, Anthony Wayne, 
and later on, the then mammoth steamer Western World. At an 
early period of his life, in 1835, he fitted out the brig Queen 
Charlotte, which during the war of 18 12 was captured from the 
British by Commodore Perry, and lay sunk for many years at 
Erie, Pa. Captain David Wilkinson, who died in Perrysburg, O., 
many years ago, commanded the schooners Eagle and Guirrier, 
his first steamer being the Commodore Perry, of which he 
remained master until the close of her career, when he and others 
caused to be built the Superior second, which he commanded for 
many years. Captain C. L. Gager was with Captain Levi Allen, 
James Harrington, Loring Pierce and John Kimberly on the 
Walk-in-the-Water when she was lost. He was absent from the 
lakes for several years, and on his return bought the Red Jacket 
and sailed her, then the General Porter, which he converted into 
a propeller, and afterwards the steamer Albany, which latter he 


Captain John F.. Wight commanded the William Penn, and 
afterwards the Chicago, a scow craft. It was said of him when 
master of the latter steamer, that coming out of Cleveland, and 
passing the then town Ohio City, since absorbed by the former, a 
heavy fog prevailed. The captain observed, as he supposed, the 
smokestack of a steamer between his boat and the shore. He at 
once ordered the engineer to put on all steam, saying he would 
not allow anything to pass him, if he knew it. The contest kept 
up, apparently, but when the fog cleared away it was found that 
the smokestack was nothing but a fire-blackened tree stump on 
shore. It is -also related of him that one time coming from Buffalo 
the steamer Illinois hove in sight abaft the Chicago and gained 
rapidly on her, whereupon an anxious passenger said to the cap- 
tain : "Captain, she is after us, isn't she?" "Never mind." said 
he, "we will be after her directly." Captain Wight, speaking in 
praise of the Chicago, said his boat "could run anywhere where 
the ground was moist." 




Captain Harry Whitaker, who died a few years ago at St. 
Luke's Retreat, Detroit, sailed at one time the schooner Marie 
Antoinette; then the steamers North America, Monroe, United 
States and A. D. Patchin. By navigating the United States 
between Detroit and Buffalo during the entire winter of 1845, 
Captain Whitaker accomplished something that has never been 
equaled in the history of lake navigation. I was a passenger with 
him on one occasion during the fore part of that year. We left 
Buffalo on the morning of the loth of March, I think it was. The 
steamer made its way laboriously through a mass of rotten ice for 
about five miles, when we encountered a large field that was 
apparently solid. The captain got all the passengers on the upper 
deck, and had them run in a body from one side of the steamer to 
the other, which gave her a rolling motion, as he backed her up, 
and then let .her drive with a full head of steam into the icy bar- 
rier. We continued in this way for the greater part of two days 
in full sight of Buffalo before we got out of the ice into clear, open 

Captain Augustus Walker was probably one of the best 
known navigators in aiding and furthering steamboat interests 
that ever sailed the lakes. He built the Sheldon Thompson, 
Washington First, Columbus and Great Western. He first com- 
manded the United States and subsequently the others named. In 
regard to the Sheldon Thompson, I copy an advertisement from a 
Buffalo paper of July 7, 1830 : 

''The steamer Sheldon Thompson, A. Walker, maste", pro- 
poses to leave her dock, August 30th, for Mackinac, Green Bay 
and intermediate ports. This stanch and elegant steamship is 
lauded as being a specimen of Ohio architecture. She will remain 
at Green Bay two or three days and one or two days at Mackinac, 
to give her passengers a chance to view the delightful scenery of 
the upper lakes." 

On May 30, 1832, the Sheldon Thompson was. advertised to 
leave Buffalo on the 4th of July, and Detroit on the 6th of July, 
for the same ports. She left her dock (Dorr & Jones', foot of 
Shelby Street) on the day advertised. I witnessed the leaving 
of this steamer from her dock as above. She had on board a 
goodly number of passengers, besides a number of United States 


troops, with their officers and regimental band, destined for the 
seat of the Black Hawk war. The band treated the citizens to 
some fine music. 


The Great Western was the first steamboat on the great 
lakes provided with upper cabins, and she aroused the curiosity 
and interest of the entire lake region. I will give a description 
of her, taken from the Cleveland Herald and Gazette, published 
at the time, 1838 or '9 : "Her dimensions are as follows : Length, 
186 feet; breadth of beam, 34 feet 4 inches; across the guards, 
60 feet; depth of hold, 13 feet; tonnage, custom house measure- 
ment, 781 ; being greater than any craft that ever floated on our 
fresh seas. She is propelled by a high-pressure engine, made at 
Pittsburg, said to be the largest, or one of the largest, engines of 
that description ever made in the United States. The cylinder is 
30 inches in diameter; stroke 10 feet; rated at 300 horse-power. 
Her paddle wheels are 13^ feet radius, and 2 feet in breadth. 
The Great Western is arranged unlike any other boat. The 
entire hull is occupied by the boilers and by holds for freight and 
wood. On the main deck aft is the ladies' cabin and state rooms ; 
above this, on what would be the hurricane deck, the main cabins 
are placed, running almost the whole length of the boat. The 
ladies' saloon is aft, the dining cabin next, and the saloon, or bar- 
room, forward. State rooms are arranged on either side these 
cabins the whole length. The Great Western has sixty state 
rooms, with three berths in each, and other berths in cabins, mak- 
ing in all about 300." 

I remember well when this steamer first came out. I was 
'residing in St. Clair for a short season at the time, and it was her- 
alded abroad that she was to be fitted with upper cabins, an inno- 
vation unheard of on the lakes and hardly beheved possible, as it 
was feared she would prove top-heavy. All the people living along 
the St. Clair River watched for her passing on her first trip to 
Chicago. The steamer unfortunately passed up the river in the 
night. Nevertheless, the people were all out and on the watch. 
She made a fine sight as she passed up on the Canada side, her 
cabins all ablaze with light. Captain Walker died at Buffalo 
many years ago, aged 65 years. 



"Bob" Wagstaff, as he was familiarly called, will not soon be 
forgotten by many. He commanded the first and finest sailing 
ship ever on the lakes, the Julia Palmer, in 1836. She was built 
at Buffalo in that year, and was 300 tons burden. Afterwards 
she was converted into a steamer. Captain Wagstaff was also a 
steamboat man for many years. He and Captain "Gus" McKins- 
try took command of one of Oliver Newberry's steamers in mid- 
winter, and relieved Fort Mackinac, the troops stationed there 
being short of provisions. He was also in command of New- 
berry's fine brig Manhattan, when she went ashore on Lake Erie, 
below Maiden. Later on he was appointed collector of customs 
at Tampico, Florida. He died many years ago in Brooklyn, N. Y. 

Captain Chas. C. Stannard commanded the brig Ramsey 
Crooks, also the steamers Niagara, Bunker Hill and Saratoga, 
and died on board the Western World as she was leaving the 
dock at Detroit in 1856. Stannard's rock in Lake Superior took 
its name from him. 


The steamer Chippewa, built at Buffalo, without frames, and 
with the shape or model of a muskmelon, was sailed by Captain 
Benjamin Armstrong, who also commanded the schooners Ster- 
ling and Brittania, besides other craft. Captain Gil Appleby 
sailed the schooner New Connecticut, which capsized on Lake 
Erie; three days afterwards a woman was rescued from the cabin 
alive, which was conceded to be one of the most remarkable events 
of the times. Captain Appleby also commanded the steamers 
North America, Constitution, Ben Franklin and Sultana. He 
died at Buffalo in 1867. 

Captain T. J. Titus commenced his career in sailing vessels, 
commanding the schooners Aurora, United States and others. He 
also sailed the steamers Ohio First, Sandusky, Erie, Buft'alo, 
Queen City and Julia Palmer, his first one. His last command 
was that of the propeller Monticello. While on Lake Michigan 
he was drowned from the small boat while attempting to land on 


The steamer Mayflower, built by the Michigan Central Rail- 
road Co., was by all odds the finest steamer that up to that time 
had ever appeared on the lakes. As she was of our own produc- 


tion, SO to Speak, a notice of her first departure from Detroit to 
Buffalo, taken from a local paper of that day, along in the spring 
or summer of 1849, will prove of interest. It was as follows : 

''This magnificent boat left our city on Monday evening on 
her first trip to Buffalo this season. She carried many of our 
worthiest citizens among the crowd of passengers, some of whom 
have waited for days for her departure. Her kind and gentle- 
manly commander, Van Allen, appeared as natural as life in his 
post of 'mine host' on the occasion, and the polite and efficient 
clerk, Nichols, transacted office business with his usual prompt 
suavity, while Wormley, the bountiful and accomplished caterer, 
and Newhall, the experienced engineer, and Farrer, his assistant, 
were each looking as well as heart could wish at their accustomed 

The Mayflower was wrecked on Point Au Pelee, Lake Erie, 
in 1854. Before the completion of the Great Western Railway 
through Canada, passengers journeying east or west would always 
time themselves so as to catch the Mayflower. I have often 
waited for her, in company with many others, at Buffalo, twenty- 
four hours at a time, and when the hour for her departure arrived 
she would appear to be in an almost sinking condition, loaded 
as she was with passengers, their baggage and her usual freight. 
Detroit and the entire lake district bemoaned the fate of the May- 
flower. No lives were lost, I think. The steamer Thames was 
also at one time commanded by Captain G. R. Williams, plying 
between Buffalo and Port Stanley, Ont. Captain Eberts also 
at one time was in command of the Thames when she plied 
between Detroit and Chatham, Ont., and he kept on this route 
for many years. Captain F. S. Atwood ranks also among the 
first navigators on the lakes. Besides sail vessels, he commanded 
at different times the steamers Macomb, Monroe, General Har- 
rison, Troy, Arrow, T. Whitney, Philo Parsons and others. Cap- 
tain J. L. Edmonds commanded for several years vessels and 
steamers, such as the North America, Chicago and Southerner.* 
While in command of the latter, and after leaving Buffalo on her 
second trip of the season, in March, 1850, he was taken suddenly 
ill, causing the immediate return of the steamer to port, where 
he died on entering the harbor. Captain Aaron Root sailed the 
schooner Amaranth, steamers Constellation, in 1836, Bunker 
Hill, in 1837; and subsequently the propeller Henry Clay. He 



died at Black River, Ohio. Captain Joel H. McQueen com- 
manded the steamer Constellation in 1837, afterwards the Samuel 
Ward, and other boats. He also at one time commanded the 
schooner White Pigeon. Captain John Shook sailed the schooner 
Cincinnati, besides other vessels at an early period; also the 
steamers United States and Columbus. He died at Huron, Ohio, 
some years since. He had the distinguished honor, if it may be 
called so, while in command of the Columbus, of conveying the 
Prince de Joinville and suite from Buffalo to Green Bay. They 
tarried in Detroit two days to see and to be seen. Captain vShook's 
brother. Captain Jim Shook, sailed the fine clipper brig Illinois, 
of the Eagle line, in 1836, when it was fashionable to have the 
pea jacket ornamented with a spread eagle. He also at one time 
commanded the propeller Sciota, besides several small sail craft. 
He died at Huron, Ohio, many years ago. 


Captain A. H. Squeirs sailed vessels for many years, among 
others the schooner Leguire, steamers De Witt Clinton and Gar- 
den City. He was living in Buffalo in 1883. He had for clerk 
with him on board the steamer Clinton, Ben Barton, of Buffalo, 
who, perhaps, some will remember. Ben was a gay and convivial 
chap, and knew the "boys around, town" in every port on the 
lakes between Buffalo and Chicago. When the Clinton came into 
port it was the signal for a gathering of the boys, to have a good 
time, and they always had it. Dan Whipple's place, that was on 
Bates Street, Detroit, saw many of these gatherings, where fun 
reigned fast and furious. The captain had a brother, Heber 
Squeirs, ''Hebe," as he was familiarly called. He was a gay 
young man when I knew him in Buffalo in the early forties. He 
commanded and owned a tug, the name of which I have foi*got- 
'ten; but "Hebe" I cannot forget. During the winter months he 
was always the head and front of the gay balls and dances given 
in the assembly rooms of the old Eagle tavern, on Main Street, 


Captain Amos Pratt, long a prominent lake navigator, will be 
recollected as the master of the steamer Anthony Wayne, or Mad 
Anthony, as she was first called. He also commanded one of the 
first propellers on the lakes, the Sampson (in 1843). afterwards 


the Princeton and the Globe. He was a popular seaman and a 
gentleman. His death occurred in 1869 or '70. Captain William 
Dickinson, who died at Buffalo in 1865, aged 65 years, was 
reared on the waters and commenced life as a ferryman between 
Black Rock and Fort Erie. After several years' experience on 
the lakes, he commanded the schooners Sterling, Merchant, 
Michigan (second), ship Milwaukee, brig Robert Hunter, pro- 
pellers Hunter and Illinois. 

Captain I. T. Pheatt, who died at Toledo in 1859, came from 
the lower lakes in command of the schooner Grant. While on 
the upper lakes he commanded the steamer General Harrison (in 
1840), the steamer Indiana (in 1842), the Northern Indiana and 
Western Metropolis. At the time of his decease he was managing 
a ferry at Toledo. Captain John Stewart sailed several vessels for 
the late Oliver Newberry. Among others were the schooners 
Marengo, La Salle and the brig Manhattan. Previous to his 
decease, which took place on the River St. Clair, he commanded 
the steamers Michigan and Northerner. He was a bluff, hearty 
sailor, and universally liked. I would also like to pay a passing 
tribute to the memory of other lake pioneers, among whom were 
Captain Samuel Vary, who died at Sheboygan, many years ago; 
"Old Ned Burke," as he was familiarly known ; Jerry Oliver, 
who commanded the steamer New England, besides sail vessels 
at other periods ; Captain Paine Mann, Joe Sherwood, John 
Kline; also Captain John W. Webster, who, with Captain James 
Hackett, lighthouse keeper at the mouth of Detroit River, were 
the two oldest vessel masters living in 1833. ' Webster died ^t 
Painesville in 1864, and Hackett died in May, 1901. "Ned" 
Burke died at Buffalo in 1841. Jerry Oliver died at Buffalo in 
1855. Captain Paine Mann died at St. Joseph, Mich., in 1859. 
Captain Joe Sherwood died at Delafield, Wis., in 1856. Captain 
John Kline died at St. Joseph, Mich., in 1870. Captain W. P. 
Stone, once of the steamer Keystone State, and favorably known, 
died many years ago at a hotel in New York City. Captain 
Thomas Richards died while in command of the steamer Niagara 
at Milwaukee in 1849. Captain G. W. Floyd came from the sea- 
board, and sailed the brig Indiana in 1837, ^^ 1^39 the steamer 
Sandusky, and in 1843 "the propeller Hercules, after which he 
returned to salt water. He died in California. 

Captain E. B. Ward was also at an early day a vessel man, 


sailing among" others the schooner General Harrison. The first 
steamboat he commanded was the Huron, in 1840. Subsequent 
events in his career are too familiar to be repeated here. Captain 
L. B. Goldsmith was navigating the lakes in 1871, and was in 
command of the steamer Jay Cook in 1883. Captain Fred S. 
Wheeler, who commanded the propeller Hercules and steamboat 
St. Louis, was very popular with all classes in every port on the 
lakes. The Hercules, besides being the largest propeller on the 
lakes at that time, had another distinguishing peculiarity — her 
hull was painted checker pattern, red, blue and white. The Hol- 
lister Bros., of Buffalo, her owners, had their store on Main 
Street, in the latter city, painted in the same fashion. 

Captain Fred S. Miller was still navigating in 1883. He was 
tossed about from an early date. There are those, no doubt, who 
will also remember Captain R. C. Bristol, who sailed vessels, also 
the steamers James Madison and Niagara, second. He died at 
Chicago in 1856. 

Captain Morris Hazzard came from the east, having had 
experience on the rivers. He brought out the steamer Milwaukee 
at Buffalo in 1838, and afterwards commanded the Constellation, 
Empire State, and also sailed the Monroe. Captain D. H. Mc- 
Bride died in Milwaukee in March, 1871, after a lengthy career 
on the lakes. He had a long experience on both sail and steam 
craft. The schooner Havre was the last vessel he commanded 
(in 1842), and the propeller Ironsides the last steamer. He was 
second mate of the steamer Erie, which was, burned on Lake Erie 
in 1841, and narrowly escaped being counted among the lost. 
Captain William Hinton, for several years pilot on the United 
States steamer Michigan, was first officer of the Erie when she 
was burned, and he also met with a narrow escape. He served 
long and faithfully on board of steamers, and commanded the 
Daniel Webster after her name was changed to the Black Dan. 
Captain James M. Averill, an old lake man, commanded the 
steamer Erie (the little one) in 1840, and subsequently sail ves- 
sels. Previous to this period the captain was several years at sea. 
He died at Buffalo in 1875. 

/In the year 1836, the steamer Little Erie made her first 
appearance on the St. Clair River. She was the fastest boat of 
her size on the lakes. She made quite a record during the Patriot 
war, chasing up the patriots and seeing that they did not violate 


the neutrality laws existing between the United States and Can- 
ada. She was lost in the ice on Lake St. Clair in 1842, and her 
loss was much deplored.^ 

Captain Jacob Travers, who commanded the steamer Golden 
Gate, besides several smaller craft, was lost with the steamer 
Keystone State on Lake Huron in 1861. Captain John Caldwell, 
who died at Cleveland in 1846, commanded in 1836, '37 and '38, 
the schooner Hudson, afterwards the Henry Crevolin, and Tren- 
ton. Subsequently for several years he commanded steamers to 
Lake Superior, and in the Northern Transportation Line. 

Captain J. C. Benjamin, who died at Prairieville, Mich., in 
1864, sailed the steamboat Ben Franklin in 1849. He previously 
sailed vessels out of Cleveland. With Captain Imson on the 
steamer Hendrick Hudson, as clerk, was Wm. B. Rochester, of 
Rochester, N. Y. He during the civil war entered the army as 
paymaster and subsequently became paymaster-general. He is 
now living in Washington, a retired brigadier-general. 


The steamer Ocean, of the Ward line,- Captain C. C. Blod- 
gett, had for clerk Theodore Luce (''Commodore Luce"), and 
"Bob" Montgomery for steward. The captain and these under 
officers were immensely popular and made things quite pleasant 
for their patrons. Captain Whitaker had for his clerk on the 
steamer United States in the early forties a young man by the 
name of Bradley, a quiet, sedate, gentlemanly chap, who was 
very popular. He resigned to become a messenger in Charles H. 
Miller's Western Express Company, the first enterprise of the 
kind ever inaugurated between Buffalo and Chicago. Bradley 
was the first and only messenger of the company except Miller 
himself. As the venture was not a success. Wells, Fargo and 
Dunning obtained Miller's interest, and all know the immense 
success of the present express companies in this dir-ection. 

The steamer Great Western, Captain Walker, had at one 
time a very popular clerk in the person of a Mr. Emerson, who 
contributed his share in rendering this steamer a great favorite 
with the traveling public. He, too, after a while ( 1844) resigned 
to take a position in Wells, Fargo & Co.'s Western Express as 
messenger. William A. Bury, now of Grosse He, Mich., was a 


very popular clerk on many steamers and propellers in the early 
days. He is unfortunately now a hopeless invalid. 

"Tom" Gillett, son of the late Shadrick Gillett, was also 
clerk on various steamboats and propellers in those days, and 
he, as well as Bury, was a great favorite with all. He died sev- 
eral years since. There were a large number of steamer clerks at 
that time on the lakes, equally as deserving as those mentioned, 
but I do not recollect their names. 


Among the river captains that I recall, were Captain Arthur 
Edwards, master of the steamboat Gratiot, which plied to and 
from tlie following ports : St. Clair, Black River and Ft. Gratiot.. 
Monroe, Vistula and Maumee. In noticing the Gratiot a paper 
of that day (1832) says: "No foolishness about Captain 
Edwards, for he says his boat will be precise in starting at the 
hour advertised." 

The sam6 paper says (June, 1833) : "The River Line is 
supplemented by the addition of the steamer General Brady, Cap- 
tain John Burtis, and this year the General Gratiot has changed 
masters. Captain John Clark succeeds Captain Edwards." 

I knew these captains well ;' have traveled with them often. 
Captain Clark retired from service and settled on his farm on the 
banks of the St. Clair, just below St. Clair city. He became a 
prosperous farmer, wood merchant and general dealer. 

All the Chicago steamers of that day ' (or steamers plying 
between the latter port and Buffalo) used to wood at his dock. 
He died many years ago. Captain Edwards passed away since 
the civil war, in which he served with distinction as quartermaster. 
Captain John Clark also at one time (1834) commanded the 
steamboat General Jackson, built at Mt. Clemens, also the Lady 
of the Lake, built at Mt. Clemens in 1833. Captain Atwood was 
at one time also on this route. The steamboats General Macomb, 
built at Mt. Clemens (1837), and Star, built at Belvidere (1837), 
were also at one time on this route. 

Captain E. B. Ward sailed the steamboat Huron in 1840. 
"She was owned by Captain Samuel Ward, and was a very suc- 
cessful steamer, netting him thousands of dollars, and laying the 
foundation of his laree fortune." 

e;arly navigation on laki; and rive;r. 41 

first boat through the canal. 

Captain Samuel Ward built and commanded another boat 
at an earlier day than any of the above. It was a sailing vessel 
called the St. Clair, and was built in 1820 at Marine City. After 
the Erie canal was opened, Captain Ward freighted his boat at 
Detroit for New York city, and took on board two horses to tow 
her through the canal. On arriving at Buffalo he took down his 
masts, entered and towed her safely through the canal; arrived 
at the Hudson River, he shipped his masts, bent the sails and 
soon came to anchor at the metropolis. Securing a full freight 
back, he returned, but was somewhat disappointed on being 
, required to pay toll. Captain Ward not only calculated on get- 
ting through the canal free of toll, but expected (as should have 
been the case) to get a premium, as his was the first boat from 
the lakes to New York. 


Captain Hanson succeeded Captain E. B. Ward in command 
of the Huron. These three captains (Ward, Hanson and Clark) 
sailed the steamers Huron and General Gratiot respectively 
between Detroit and Port Huron along in the '30s and '40s. 
Another river steamboat, the first to ply between Detroit and 
Black River (Port Huron), was the Argo, built at Detroit in 
1830 by Captain John Burtis, and commanded by him. I was on 
hand when she was launched and I made two or three trips on 
her to St» Clair and return. She was very cranky. On these 
trips I was in company with Thomas Palmer, father of the sen- 
ator, who was quite portly, and Captain Burtis was on constant 
watch to see that "Uncle Tom," as he called him, did not upset 
his steamboat. She was found too cranky for the business and 
was put on the ferry route, between Detroit and Windsor. 

The steamboat General Vance, about 1835, was on the down- 
river route, Detroit to Truax's (Trenton), and Newport, and was 
owned and commanded by Captain Samuel Woodworth, son of 
Uncle Ben Woodworth, of the Steamboat Hotel. She blew up 
while lying at the dock in Windsor, killing the captain and some 
of the crew. 


About 1830 Thomas Palmer, father of the senator, owned 
the schooner Tiger and the scow Independence. The former was 
not a very large affair, but the latter was of considerable ton- 


nage, and was quite a freighter. Her captain, William Loiicks, 
. dubbed her a "square-toed packet." 

The Tiger seems to have done considerable business in her 
time. The Detroit Gazette, of July, 1821, says: "The schooner 
Tiger, Captain Birdsall, sailed from this port for Buffalo with 
410 packs of furs, valued at $62,000." 

Detroit was the greatest shipping port for furs on the lakes 
at that time. In addition to the Tiger, the schooner Superior, 
Captain Keith, sailed for Buffalo with 200 packs, and the account 
quoted from above says : "There are between 300 to 400 packs 
remaining at our different wharves, valued at from $300 and 
$500 to $900 each. The Tiger and Independence both came to 
grief on Lake St. Clair ; no lives lost. 

Lewis Godard, of Detroit, about 1830, built a steamboat, 
called the David Crockett. She was small, and of novel construc- 
tion in that she was propelled by an immense wheel attached 
to her stern. She plied between this port and Mt. Clemens. 

The steamboat Arrow, built at Trenton in the early forties, 
by Messrs. Atwood, Davis & Edwards, was a very fast boat, and 
a great favorite with the traveling public. The Toledo Blade said 
of her when she came out : "It is expected she will take pas- 
sengers here after breakfast and land them in Detroit immediately 
after dinner, and be in Toledo before tea time," and she did. 

The names and personalities of the early navigators of the 
lakes and rivers, as well as the various craft they were connected 
with, all seem to pass before me in a long procession, as in a 
dream. Many of the captains and all the clerks I knew quite 
intimately, having traveled on many of the steamers in the early 
days, when in the employ of the Western and Pomefoy's Express 
Companies between Buffalo and Detroit. 


It is recorded that the first vessel on the lakes was the Griffin, 
which was built on the Niagara River at or near Schlosser Land- 
ing in 1679. She was schooner rigged with the addition of a 
topsail, and was sixty tons burden. She took her departure from 
that place for Mackinac on August 7 of that year, in command of 
Chevalier De LaSalle, a Catholic missionary, with a crew of six 
persons. She arrived there in due time, and was laden with furs 
for a return voyage, but after her departure was never again 


heard from. Not for many years thereafter do we find any record 
of craft on the lakes. 

From 1 77 1 to 1779 nine vessels were built at Detroit by the 
English government. They were as follows : Schooner Hope, 
81 tons, built in 1771 ; sloop AngeHca, 66 tons, built in 1771 ; brig 
Gage, 154 tons, built in 1772; schooner Dumore, 106 tons, built 
in 1772; sloop Felicity, 55 tOns, built in 1774; schooner Faith, 61 
tons, built in 1774; sloop Adventure, 54 tons, built in 1776; sloop 
Wyandotte, 47 tons, built in 1779. During the revolutionary war, 
the Gage carried fourteen guns, and the Faith, ten guns. 

What was the fate of these vessels the record does not dis- 


It appears from a Buffalo paper, published in 1830, "that 
the first schooner, fore-and-aft, built on Lake Erie after the 
Griffin, was in 1797, at Four-Mile Creek, near Erie, Pa. She was 
called the Washington. 

The Union was the name of the first brig. She was built in 
1814. She was ninety-six tons burden. She was laid up for a 
time on account, it was said, of her being too large for the require- 
ments of the period. 

The first steamboats ever built on the lakes are said to have 
been built by the Canadians, one at Brockville in 1816, name not 
known, and the other the Frontenac. She was built at Kingston 
in 18 1 7. She was of 700 tons burden, had three masts, no guards, 
and looked like an ocean steamer. The Frontenac cost £20,000. 
Captain James McKenzie, a retired officer of the royal navy, was 
her first commander. It was said at the time that he was not 
over-confident of his vessel, for advertisements were thus quali- 
fied : ''The steamer Frontenac will sail from Kingston for Nia- 
gara, calling at York (Toronto) on the first and fifteenth days 
of each month, with as much punctuality as the nature of lake 
navigation will admit of." She ended her career in 1828. 

In 18 1 7 another steamboat, the Ontario, was built, but in 
American waters, at Sacket's Harbor. She was no feet long 
and 24 feet wide, measuring 246 tons. Captain Francis Mallaby, 
U. S. N., was her first master. 

In 18 18 the celebrated Walk-in-the- Water was built at Black 


*'In those days a solitary barque now and then sailed lazily 
along the gentle current of our beautiful river, and the painted 
savage, in his bark canoe, with his brood of tawny papooses, 
glided silently along the sea-green waters. The voyageurs and 
the bois coureurs of the Hudson Bay and Northwest Fur Com- 
panies, while their voices kept tune and their paddles kept time, 
annually departed to the hunting grounds of the red men along 
the shores of the Slave Lake and the Lake of the Woods, and 
even to the shores of the far-distant Oregon, where no sound was 
heard but its own dashing." 

The Detroit Gazette of May lo, 1822, says: "On Monday 
last at about i o'clock, our noble river presented a very pleasant 
sight. Nine fine schooners and a variety of small craft, aided by 
a favorable wind, could be seen bearing -into port with all their 
sails set." 

I am led to contrast the foregoing with the account of the 
number of craft, steam and sailing, that passed up and down the 
Detroit River, on the 3d of June, 1901. The number on that date 
was 168. 

The Detroit Gazette of Friday, July 21, 1820, says: "The 
arrivals and departures of vessels at this port since the 13th inst. 
was as follows : Arrivals, 9 ; departures, 9, including steamboat 
Walk-in-the-Water, for Black Rock," and the article also states 
that Captain Rodgers has reduced the rate of passabe (cabin) on 
his steamboat from Detroit to Black Rock from $18 to $15, and 
in proportion to intermediate ports. 

The Gazette of Friday, July 21, 1820, says: "The schooner 
Tiger, Mr. Birdsell, master, arrived at this port last Sunday from 
Green Bay, in the remarkably short passage of four days and 
twelve hours, twenty-four hours of which time she remained at 
Fort Mackinac. The following gentlemen were passengers on 
her: Of the Third Regiment, United States Infantry, Colonel 
Smith, Lieutenant-Colonel Lawrence, Captains Green and Gar- 
land, and Lieutenants Dean, Lewis and Curtis. Of the Fifth 
Infantry, Captain Whiting and Lieutenant Hunt. Of the Corps 
of Artillery, Major Biddle; also Lieutenants Leib and Harding." 

The same paper of Friday, May 18, 1821, says: "Last Sat- 
urday morning fourteen schooners, laden with merchandise and 
produce, sailed from this port for Michilimackinac and the ports 
on Lake Michigan." It also says : "The steamboat Walk-in-the- 



Water arrived here last Tuesday evening. She left Buffalo on 
the 13th inst. at ii o'clock a. m., being the first vessel from Buf- 
falo this season. She brought, among other things, several emi- 

A Detroit Gazette of 1827 says: "These boats (referring to 
the steamboats Henry Clay, Superior and Niagara) will take 
freight at the usual rates, and every exertion will be made to 
deliver it to the owners or consignees, but which, as well as bag- 
gage of every description and small parcels, will be taken only at 
the risk of the respective owners or shippers." 

There were laid up in port of Detroit in December, 1845, 
eleven steamboats, one propeller, forty schooners and sixteen 
wood scows. 


''The History of the Great' Lakes" gives this account of the 
steamboat Superior, that came out after the wreck of the Walk- 
in-the- Water : "The hull of the Walk-in-the-Water was dam- 
aged beyond repair, and having been a financial success, her 
owners determined to replace her, and during the following 
winter the Superior was built on the bank of Buffalo creek 
by Noah Brown, master carpenter. She was not quite as long 
nor as wide as her predecessor, but was two feet deeper. She 
was owned by the Lake Erie Steamboat Co., and was launched 
April 13, 1822. She was the first vessel of any size built at 
Buffalo. Some slight work had to be done in the mouth of 
Buffalo creek in the way of cutting through the sandbars, so 
as to deepen the waters in order that the Superior might get out 
into the lake. The shallowness of the water there had caused the ^^ v 
owners of thi^boat to hesitate about building her in Buffalo creek, rVX 
but as they were assured that the spring freshets would clear the 
mouth of the creek, and a guarantee of $100 per day was given 
by responsible citizens for each day that she was delayed in the 
creek, after she was ready to go out, they decided to build her 

"When she was nearly ready to go out there was great anxi- 
ety lest the guarantee would have to be made good, and the citi- 
zens assembled every day in large numbers — merchants, lawyers 
and laborers alike, with teams, scrapers and shovels and other 
necessary tools, and labored most assiduously to remove as much 
of the bar as was necessary to permit the Superior to pass out. 



and to return to the harbor; and those who could not work sent 
down provisions of all kinds to those at work, in order to help 
the good work along. All felt that success in getting this vessel 
out of the harbor into the lake was vital to the future of that 

"The fatal day arrived, and after some little difficulty in 
touching the bar, the Superior got out into the lake, being aided 
by her engine, around the shaft of which a cable was wound and, 
attached to an anchor, carried ahead. After making a few miles' 
run on the lake to try her machinery, she returned to the harbor, 
and everybody concerned breathed more freely, for it then seemed 
certain that had the Superior failed to get out over the bar at the 
mouth at Buffalo creek, the harbor for commerce at the lower end 
of the lake would have been established at Black Rock." 

The Superior went into commission in May, 1822, under 
command of Captain Jeddediah Rogers, and until 1826 was the 
one steamboat of Lake Erie. This boat also made voyages to 
Mackinac, which was then the terminus of western navigation. 

The Lake Erie Steamboat Line, which was in operation in 
1827, was composed of the steamers Superior, Wm. Penn, Henry 
Clay and Niagara, which plied between Buffalo and Detroit. One 
of these boats left the above ports every other day, commencing 
in the early part of May from Buffalo. The Superior left on 
May 7, the Wm. Penn on May 9, the Henry Clay on May 3, and 
the Niagara on May 5. 


The number of arrivals at the port of Detroit, and what they 
brought from April 8th to 19th, 1830, is as follows : Arrivals — 
Steamboats and schooners, fourteen. The cargoes consisted of 
flour, 91 barrels; whisky, 698 barrels; port, 95 barrels; dry fruit, 
51 packages; cider, 33 barrels; beef, 16 barrels; salt, 66 barrels: 
passengers, 72; kegs of lard, 18; bars of iron, 30; packages of 
furs, 10; skins, 171; hides, 2; bushels of corn, 123; fish, four 
barrels; butter, 36 kegs ; hams, 106; shingles, 11,500; lumber, 990 

It will be seen that whisky had the call. 

The Lake Erie Steamboat Line in 1830 was made up of the 
following boats and captains : Superior, Captain Wm. T. Pease ; 
Wm. Penn, Captain Weight ; Niagara, Captain Blake ; Wm. Pea- 
cock, Captain Fleeharty ; Enterprise, Captain Miles ; Henry Clay, 



Captain Norton. The first boat left Buffalo, April 12. For the 
season of 183 1 there were added to the above the Ohio, Captain 
Cahoon, and the Sheldon Thompson, Captain Walker, making a 
daily line. 

The steamboat Michigan, Captain W. T. Pease, commenced 
her regular trips between Detroit and Buffalo and intermediate 
ports, Wednesday, April 23, and continued through the season, 
except on July 10, when she started for St. Maries (Soo), Mack- 
inac and Green Bay. On August 10, she started for Mackinac, 
Green Bay, Chicago, St. Joseph and Grand River — a fine inland 

The following Lake Erie steamboats were in 1834 plying 
between Buffalo and Detroit : 

The Michigan, Captain W. T. Pease; Daniel Webster, Cap- 
tain Tyler ; Governor Marcy, Captain Chase ; Ohio, Captain Cot- ^ J 
ton ; Oliver Newberry, Captain Edwards ; General Porter, Cap- ^' ^r- 
tain Norton ; Henry Clay, Captain Stannard ; Uncle Sam, Captain 
McKinstry ; Niagara, Captain Allen ; New York, Captain Miles. 

There entered the port of Detroit from June 19 to 25, 1832, 
eight steamers and eight sailing vessels, and cleared during the 
same time ten steamboats and five sailing vessels. 

In October and November of the same year it was some 
better; from October 29 to November 12, ten steamboats and 
twenty sailing vessels entered and thirteen steamboats and nine- 
teen sailing vessels cleared. 

The Chicago Democrat of June, 1834, says : "Arrangements 
have been made by the proprietors of the steamboats on Lake 
Erie whereby Chicago is to be visited by a steamboat from Buf- 
falo once a week until the 25th of August. The steamboat Uncle 
Sam left Buffalo on Monday last, agreeable to the arrangement." 
It is also stated that ''there are four or five schooners which are 
constantly plying across the lake. The stage has commenced run- 
ning twice a week to Niles." 


On the I2th of August, 1834, the splendid steamboat Mich- 
igan left Buffalo for Mackinac, Green Bay, Chicago, Michigan 
City, St. Joseph and the mouth of the Grand River of Michigan ; 
and the notice of the event goes on^ to say : 

"The trip will embrace a distance of 2,000 miles, and the 


passengers will have an opportunity of viewing the splendid 

scenery of Lakes Erie, St. Clair, Huron and Michigan, and the 

rivers, straits and bays connected with them. The Michigan is 

described to be a splendid vessel. We can conceive of no more 

delightful excursion." 


I make a few extracts in regard to Detroit and the lakes, 
from a letter published in the Buffalo Daily Advertiser some time 
in the year 1834. The letter is from Detroit, without date, and 
commences : "I have just returned from an excursion among 
the lakes, having traveled about 1,700 miles and visited some por- 
tion of the country bordering the Mediterranean of the west," 
and among other things goes on to say: ''The Detroit River is 
not surpassed in beauty and grandeur by the majestic Hudson. 
The city of Detroit has a population of 5,000, and is very rapidly 
increasing in population and business. I arn persuaded that 
Detroit possesses advantages which have not been fully appre- 
ciated. The river at its foot, being very broad and deep, forms 
a harbor which can hardly be excelled, and which must always 
form the grand rendezvous for the lake vessels." The letter goes 
on to say further: "The increase of shipping and the improve- 
ment of the vessels within a few years on the lakes are equally 
astonishing. An excursion of 1,000 miles is a mere matter of 
relaxation and pleasure. The citizens of Detroit, however, have 
the honor of bearing off the palm in the construction of steam- 
boats. The Michigan, built wholly at Detroit, challenges the 
entire American waters to produce her equal." 

The first propeller on the lakes was the Vandalia, built at 
Oswego, in 1841. She was commanded by Captain Rufus Haw- 
kins, and made her first voyage to the upper lakes in 1842. All 
know how rapidly this class of steamer has accumulated since that 
time, and how they have increased in size and speed. 

The first steamer known to be on Lake Michigan was the 
Henry Clay. In August, 1827, an excursion of pleasure was 
made on her to Green Bay, where Governor Cass was holding a 
treaty with the Winnebago Indians. From that period to 1832, 
some of the boats went to Green Bay, but no further. 

Here are some of the doings of steamboats, vessels, etc.. that 
appeared in the local papers here and at other ports during the 
season of 1844: 


"The steamboat Fairport was got into Buffalo harbor with- 
out having suffered any material injury. She was advertised to 
leave that port to-day, for Detroit, 4th April, 1844." 

The Commercial Advertiser of Buffalo, March 20, 1844, 
says : "Travelers from the west say a boat was seen yesterday on 
the Canada shore near Point Abino. Whether it is the United 
States (Captain Whitaker) returning, or the St. Clair, is 
unknow^n ; it is probably the former, as she has had sufficient time 
to make her trip to Detroit and back." 

This no doubt was the return trip of the United States. She 
left the port of Buffalo, for Detroit, March 10, 1844, and on this 
trip I was a passenger. 


"Steamer Missouri — This boat arrived here this morning 
from Buffalo, which place she left on Thursday last. The Mis- 
souri is the first steamer from below which has entered our port 
this season." — Chicago Express, April 11, 1844. 

The Buffalo Gasette of January 17, 1844, says: "The ice is 
all out of the creek again, and there is but very little prospect that 
the lake will be frozen over during the winter. There is not much 
ice yet formed along the shores, and unless we have extraordi- 
nary weather during February and March, an earlier navigation 
than usual may be anticipated. The season thus far resembles 
that of 1837." 

The Chicago Express of April 10, 1844, says : "The schooner 
Oneida arrived this morning from Cleveland, an event quite grati- 
fying to our citizens. Our own port had been opened so long that 
we had been impatiently awaiting the arrival of vessels from 
below. The schooners E. C. Merrick and St. Lawrence, also from 
Cleveland, are in the offing. The Oneida found a great deal of ice 
in the Straits, and it was generally very thick. She reports, as 
being this side of the Straits, the brig O. Richmond, and schooners 
Windham, Baldwin and Havanna." 

The schooner Windham got away from Chicago all right, 
with a fine cargo, but met with disaster, as the Chicago Express 
of the 17th of April, 1844, relates as follows: 

"The schooner Windham, which cleared from this port yester- 
day for Buffalo with 10,000 bushels of wheat, went ashore during 
the prevailing high wind of last night, north of the north pier, and 


close to it. She mistook a light on shore for the one on the north 
pier. There is considerable water in the Windham, but she can be 
got off without serious injury to the vessel." 

The steamer Missouri got away from Chicago all right, as 
appears by the Chicago Express of April 13, 1844, which says : 

"The steamer Missouri left this morning for Buffalo with 
quite a number of passengers. Our present fine weather will 
hasten the traveling season. A large emigration may be 

The Buffalo Advertiser of April 17, 1844, thus chronicles the 
first arrival of the season at that port from Chicago : 

"First Sail From Chicago. — Captain Gager led in the 
upper lake fleet, this morning, with the propeller Porter from 
Chicago, with 8,500 bushels of wheat, and a heavy invoice of flour 
and other rolling freight from Detroit. The Porter also brought 
down quite a number of passengers." 

LAKE business IN 1 844. 

The picking up of business at the western ports on Lake 
Michigan, etc., is thus chronicled by the Buffalo Commercial 
Advertiser of April 12, 1844: "Vessels are much wanted for the 
upper lake lumber trade. Some have been chartered here and 
others sold for such destination. Chicago, Racine and other lead- 
ing points on the west shore of Lake Michigan, are improving so 
fast, and the demand for building materials is so great, that good 
round prices are now offering for vessels to trade between Green 
Bay, Kalamazoo, etc., to the places named above." 

This appears to be a notice of the first steamboat combination 
formed on the lakes. It appeared in an evening paper published 
in Detroit by George L. Whitney, May, 1844, and reads: "The 
owners of the steamboats on our lakes have completed an associa- 
tion for the ensuing season ; the cabin fare from Buffalo to Cleve- 
land is $5; to Detroit, $7; and to Chicago, $14; the steerage to 
Detroit, $3 ; to Chicago, $7. We learn that the Julia Palmer and 
St. Clair do not come into the combination, but run on the "oppo- 
sition line." 


The Buffalo Gazette of January 30, 1844, takes back what 
it said in its issue of the 17th of the same month, in relation to the 
lakes freezing, and says : "The lake is at last frozen over. A 


friend who skated out to Point Abino on Saturday informs us 
that about half way across he made a hole through the ice, and 
found it to be about five inches thick. The fishermen of course 
will soon commence bringing in fresh lake trout." 

A ''east'' trip. 

The Buffalo Advertiser of April 13, 1844, contained the fol- 
lowing: ''The Detroit Free Press of Wednesday evening 
acknowledges the receipt by the propeller Hercules, Captain 
Wheeler, of New York papers of Saturday and of Buffalo papers 
of Monday evening, in advance of the mail. This trip of the 
Hercules is an era in the annals of propellers, and fully demon- 
strates the great value of that class of vessels. The Hercules left 
this port at 5 o'clock Monday afternoon and was back to her berth 
again fully loaded at 5 o'clock this morning, thus making her trip 
in four days and a half, an instance of dispatch rarely, if ever, sur- 
passed by our best steamboats. Her rate of running was about 
nine miles an hour." 

The same paper of April 24, 1844, says in regard to lake 
freights: "The price of freight is low upon the lakes. From 
Lake Erie ports to Buffalo, wheat is brought for four to five cents ; 
flour, sixteen to eighteen cents ; pork, twenty-five to twenty-eight 
cents per barrel. For the same to Oswego, wheat is taken through 
the Welland canal at eight and one-half cents. From the upper 
lakes to this port, wheat is charged only eleven to twelve cents per 
bushel, flour thirty-five to thirty-seven one-half cents per barrel, 
according to circumstances." 


Captain Chelsea Blake, that veteran sailor, so long and favor- 
ably known on these waters as "Commodore of the Lakes," and 
who for so many years sailed the magnificent steamers Michigan 
and llinois, built by his earnest and steadfast friend, Oliver New- 
berry, of this city, also commanded the good schooner General 
Jackson in 1816, then owned by Messrs. Mack & Conant, of 
Detroit. At the breaking out of the war of 1812, and while the 
British fleet was blockading our coasts, Blake was mate of a brig 
outwardbound, and then lying at Newberryport, Mass., waiting 
for an opportunity to go to sea. He had been waiting about two 


months and, seeing no chance of passing the British squadron, 
determined to remain inactive no longer; and at his soHcitation 
the whole brig's crew joined the American army. Blake, possess- 
ing a good business education, was placed in the commissary 
department, and his regiment belonged to Scott's brigade. He 
was at the battle of Lundy's Lane, and used to relate an incident 
thereof. As the two armies were approaching, and a little while 
before the action, an Indian attempted to pass between the armies, 
running for dear life. His captain said, ''Blake, can't you kill that 
Indian?" at which Blake leveled his gun and. fired, but did not hit 
the red man. He loaded his gun in an instant and fired again. 
The Indian gave an upward leap and fell, apparently dead. This 
Indian proved to be one of a family of five brothers, all warriors, 
who resided on the Big Bear Creek, on the Canadian side, and 
were known as the Sha-na-way family. One of them bore the 
name of Megish, who followed the British army, and was at the 
battle of Lundy's Lane, where he was killed." 

The late R. E. Roberts had this to say of Blake in his work 
on Detroit : 

''For so many years, and so intimately, through ,battles breeze 
and storm, had our citizens known Blake, from the time he vol- 
unteered to sustain his country's flag under General Scott at Lun- 
dy's Lane, until through every vicissitude of a sailor's life, he had 
won for himself the distinguished title which he bore at his death, 
that his name must be forever associated with the lakes, which 
became his favorite element. Of almost giant size and command- 
ing presence, no son of Neptune ever united in his composition 
a rarer combination of the qualities which make a true seaman, a 
safe commander, a genuine hero. Rough as the billows whose 
impotent assaults on his vessel he ever laughed to scorn; with 
voice as hoarse as the tempest which he delighted to rule this gal- 
lant son of the sea had withal a woman's tenderness of heart to 
answer the appeals of distress. Sincere was the grief of many 
he had relieved, and universal regret among those who had ever 
sailed with him, when he fell a victim to the cholera at Milwaukee 
in the year 1849." 

Captain Blake was rough, indeed, and rude of speech. Unlike 
rnost of the lake captains of those days, who were perfect gentle- 
men in manners and dress, he affected none of these, no courtly 


phrases, no ruffled shirt, no blue coat with brass buttons, when in 
port and off duty, but was ever the hard-headed, rough seaman. 
Like most men with rough exteriors, he possessed, as Mr. Roberts 
says, a kindly heart, and rarely ever allowed a cry of distress to 
pass unheeded. His use or abuse of the king's English was some- 
what phenomenal. Indeed, most of the lake captains of those 
days had the same malady, though to a limited extent, and I pre- 
sume some of those of to-day have the same characteristics. 


I listened once to Blake's profanity. On this occasion it was 
directed to no less a person than his employer, Uncle Oliver New- 
berry himself. The former was in command of a schooner belong- 
ing to the latter, and had tied up his vessel- at the wharf near the 
foot of Qass Street. Between this wharf and Mr. Newberry's 
warehouse was a narrow slip. In this slip another youngster and 
myself were amusing ourselves in a small canoe. I saw Mr. New- 
berry come hastily out of his office, bareheaded, and hurry around 
the rear of the ship, and call to Blake. He began to comb him 
down for something in grand style. The captain listened to the 
tirade a brief period ; then he let out at Mr. Newberry with such 
a storm of profanity that the latter was so amazed and nonplussed 
he turned on his heel, with the remark, "Well, well, have your 
own way; you are bound to have it, anyway," and went back to 
his office. 

Blake, it was said, stood in mortal fear of death and from 
the cholera in particular. He went to Milwaukee to escape the 
latter, but unfortunately did not. A short time before he went to 
Milwaukee he attended the funeral of a friend as a pallbearer. 
Bishop McClosky officiated, and as the funeral cortege turned 
from Jefferson and Elmwood Avenue, the bishop said to Blake, 
"Well, captain, this is a ride we shall all have to take sooner or 

"Yes, bishop," Blake said, "I know that, but I shall object 
just as long as I can, d — d if I don't." 

He died in Milwaukee of the cholera in 1849, aged about 65. 

54 e;arIvY days in Detroit. 

Here is a poem from the Milvmiikee Commercial Herald 
printed some time in 1843, in regard to Blake: 

Ho, all ye travelers to the west ; , 

If you are bound across the lake, 
And wish to take the boat that's best, 

Go on the IlHnois with Blake. 

A veteran, both By land and sea. 

He long has braved the stormy main ; 

And amongst the foremost, too, was he, 
In the great fight at Lundy's Lane. 

And now the din of battle past. 

And smiling peace returned again. 
See proudly floating from his mast, 

Our nation's banner o'er the main. 

Steve Newall, too, is at his post ; 

A man of science, as to steam ; 
Of engineers he is the boast, ' 

And none of danger need dream. 

The steward, Wyncoop, is on board ; 

'Mongst epicures he has the name 
Of keeping his rich larder stored 
''' With luxuries of fish, flesh, game. 

In short, the boat we recommend 

For safety, comfort and for speed ; 
And warmly we advise each friend 

For his own sake this notice heed. 


Success attend your bonny boat. 

The pride and glory of the lake ; 
And may ye both forever float — 

The Illinois and Veteran Blake. 


I know I will be pardoned if I have a little more to say aboui 
Captain Whitaker and his steamboat, the United States. In a 
letter from the editor of a Detroit evening paper, dated "Buffalo, 
May I, 1844," speaking of the United States and her captain, is 
this statement: 'We arrived here about 8 o'clock last evening, 
having had the most pleasant trip over the lake that I ever 



enjoyed. We made the passage from Detroit to Buffalo in less 
than thirty-four hours, including some five or six hours that we 
lost in stopping at intermediate ports. The United States sur- 
passed my expectations, in comfort as well as in speed. Her new 
and spacious upper cabin makes her one of the most comfortable 
and pleasant boats on the lakes. No boat sets a better table, 
by which, I mean, a table with a variety of dishes, well selected, 
well cooked, well arranged, and well attended. The United 
States has a fine band of music on board, which frequently 
entertained the company amid the solitude of the lakes. One 
word of Captain Whitaker, who owns and commands the 
United States : He has been connected with lake navigation, and 
most of the time in command of some vessel, for about twenty 
years. For several seasons, as the public well knows, he has been 
the first out of and the last into port, and yet he has never had a 
serious accident befall his boat, nor ever lost a life on board of one, 
nor ever injured property under his care, so as to incur a dollar's 
worth of insurance." 

The United States was the first steamer to arrive from Buf- 
falo in the spring of 1844, the date being March 18. I was a 
passenger in charge of the Wells & Co. western express. A 
Detroit evening paper of the above date thus mentions the event : 
'*As the Buffalo papers announced that the steamboat United 
States, Captain Whitaker, was advertised to leave Buffalo for this 
port on the 9th inst., and she not arriving here before the papers 
of that day came round by land, we had made up our mind that 
Captain Whitaker had been balked for once ; but lo ! about break- 
fast time yesterday, up came the steamboat United States in gal- 
lant style to our wharf, being the first vessel out of Buffalo this 
season. The United States left Buffalo, according to her adver- 
tisement, on Saturday afternoon, the 9th. After proceeding some 
five or six miles, she found herself completely surrounded by the 
ice, which a strong headwind had blown down the lake ; here she 
was obliged to remain during Saturday night and most of Sun- 
day ; towards the close of the day the wind had somewhat moved 
the ice so as to allow the boat to turn around, and at about 5 
o'clock she returned to Buffalo. With characteristic perseverance 
and energy. Captain Whitaker put out again on Thursday and 
came through in triumph. We understand that the boat encoun- 
tered ice 100 miles this side of Buffalo." 


At the close of the last century there were on Lakes Huron. 
Erie and Michigan the following schooners : The Nancy, 94 
tons ; the Swan and the Neagal ; the sloops Sigma, Detroit, Bea- 
ver, Industry, Speedwell and Arabaska, and on Lake Superior the 
sloop Otter. 

The steamboat Michigan, "The Pride of the Lakes," the 
sailing vessels Marengo, Marshall Ney, the steamboat Michigan 
No. 2 and the brig Manhattan, all of Oliver Newberry's fleet, 
were built on the river front between Cass and Wayne Streets. 
The steamboat Michigan No. i (before mentioned) was, as many 
will remember, the "ne plus ultra" of steamboats at that time. 
She had three masts, two low-pressure engines, and at that date 
was a wonder and a show, although her cabins, sleeping and 
eating accommodations were between decks. The splendid brig 
Manhattan was the pride of Admiral Newberry's heart, and when 
she was wrecked, after she had been out but a short time, he was, 
as he said, ''badly hurt." Not that he missed the money that she 
had cost so much, but because she was such a thing of beauty, 
with her towering masts and fine lines. One of Mr. Newberry's 
vessels — the Napoleon — was built on the St. Clair River, in front 
of Captain Westbrook's residence, just above Marine City. I 
saw this vessel on the stocks myself when it was building. 


The Napoleon was the vessel that was afterwards selected to 
convey supplies to relieve the garrison at Fort Mackinac, in mid- 
winter, and commanded by Captains Bob Wagstaflf and Gus Mc- 
Kinstry. December, 1829, news came that by some oversight the 
garrison and people at Mackinac had failed to receive their winter 
supplies of provisions. The weather up to this time had beert 
boisterous, and much ice had formed. A favorable change in the 
weather occurred and it became mild. Mr. Newberry oflfered 
one of his vessels in winter quarters here at that time to carry 
the supplies, if a crew could be got together for that purpose. 
"Gus" McKinstry (son of Colonel D. C. McKinstry) and Bob, 
Wagstaff, both good, fearless sailors, undertook the job. They 
succeeded in getting a crew, and about the middle of December 
they landed the needed supplies on Mackinac Island, much to the 
delight of the citizens and garrison. 



I witnessed the launching of all the craft that I have just 
mentioned, with the exception of the schooner Napoleon. Cap- 
tain Van Allen, in command of the steamboat Mayflower when 
she first came out, was at that time said to be the first favorite 
of the traveling public on the lakes. Those now living that have 
sailed with him, either on the Emerald, between Buffalo and 
Niagara Falls, or on the steamboat Canada, between Detroit and 
Buffalo, on the same route, I am sure, will testify to his gentle- 
manly bearing at all times and to his good qualities as a sailor. 
He retired from the service to take charge of a hotel at Mackinac, 
which was a success, and died there some years ago. Captain 
Willoughby succeeded Van Allen on the steamer Canada. He, 
too, was immensely popular with the traveling public, as many 
will remember. The Canada, under his command, and the May- 
flower, under the command of Captain Van Allen, divided the 
honors between this port and Buffalo. Captain Willoughby died 
in Quebec in 1862, 

Captain Thomas P. Folger was quite popular on the lakes 
in the '40s. I knew him quite well, but cannot call to mind the 
names of any craft that he commanded. He was brother to 
Judge Folger, of New York, who was secretary of the treasury 
under President Arthur. He died in California in 1855. 

Captain Ira Davis was a very popular captain. I think his 
entire service was on the route between here and Toledo. He 
was in command of the steamboat John Owen, when she first 
came out, I think, and for some years after. He died at his fine 
home on Woodward Avenue, this city, in 1873, aged 56. 

Captain Selah Dustin was on this same route, and also com- 
manded the steamboat John Owen for some time. I presume he 
was master of other craft, but do not call them to mind. He, ,too, 
was very popular and a master of his profession. Many, I am 
sure, will remember with pleasure the kindly old captain as I do. 


I have something further to say in regard to Captain Gager. 
He died in Buffalo, December 2, 1886. The Buffalo paper record- 
ing his death goes on to say : "He was well known in marine 
circles. His career dated back to 18 19, when he served on the 
steamboat Walk-in-the-Water, which was the first steamboat on 


the lakes above Niagara Falls. She ran from Black Rock to 
Detroit, and, in addition to her Own power, required the assistance 
of twelve yoke of oxen to get up the current of Niagara River. 

Captain Gager about 1848 built the passenger steamer 
Albany, sailing her himself. He also commanded a number of 
other steamboats, and later owned and ran the large tug Echo, 
at this port, which was afterwards converted into a floating ele- 
vator. In his early days he sailed on the salt water, and is said to 
have been engaged in the slave trade. He was bluff and obstinate, 
but good-hearted, and a decidedly unique benefactor. He leaves 
considerable property. 

Captain Gager, was, indeed, a ''rough diamond." He had 
an interesting family. His wife was a sister of Mrs. George G. 
Bull, who was the clerk of the United States Court here about 
1858 or 1859. He had a beautiful daughter. Mary was her 
name. Mr. George G. Bull, her uncle, was for many years and 
until his death (some time about 1870), an attache of the United 
States Court here, in conjunction with the late Colonel John Win- 
der and Addison Mandel, etc. I record a transaction in which 
Captain Gager was one of the principal factors : 

The steamer Albany was wintering at this port in 1848. vSome 
time in January of that year, the First Regiment, Michigan Vol- 
unteer Infantry, destined for service in Mexico, had completed 
its organization and had reported to the war department for duty 
in the field. Five companies, under command of Lieutenant-Col- 
onel Alpheus S. Williams, were ordered to march to Cincinnati, 
to take transportation down the Mississippi, which they did. The 
other five companies, with Colonel Stockton and staff, managed 
to secure transportation by water to Cleveland, or thought they 
had. The river and lake w^re open and clear of ice, a January 
thaw being in evidence, and apparently there was no inpediment 
to navigation in, that direction. Captain Sewel L. Fremont, the 
United States quartermaster at this post at that time, contracted 
with Captain Gager to take the five companies, with their bag- 
gage, etc., to the point above mentioned. Colonel Stockton's 
command, with their baggage, etc., got on board the steamer 
Albany, at the foot of Woodward Avenue, and started for their 
destination. Before leaving the dock it was currently reported 
that Captain Gager had induced the quartermaster to pay him in 
advance for transportation of the troops to Cleveland. But on 



arriving at Maiden the steamer was met by a sudden change of 
temperature and threatening weather. The captain tied his boat 
up at the dock and informed Captain Fremont that he would not 
proceed a rod further under the circumstances, as he feared for 
the safety of his vessel, as well as for the safety of his passengers. 
He did not budge an inch, notwithstanding the threats of the 
officers, backed by loaded pistols. They tried the engineer, but 
he, too, was obdurate. Finally, the colonel and his command 
were forced to get to Gibraltar, on the American side, as best they 
could, and that was on foot, across Grosse He, and on scows 
across the river beyond. 

How Captain Fremont, if such was the fact (the prepaying 
of Captain Gager) , ever squared himself with the war department 
at Washington for his blunder, I never knew. As for Captain 
Gager, he could take care of No. i, as all who knew him can tes- 
tify. I was a clerk in the United States quartermasters and com- 
missary offices here at the time, under Captain Whitall, Fifth 
United States Infantry. Captain Fremont was detailed by the 
war department on a special duty of equipping and transporting 
this regiment and Captain Whitall and he had their offices 


The steamboat engineers were not quite so much in the pub- 
lic eye as were the steamboat commanders. Yet here are a few 
of them that I call to mind, whose names and personalities were 
almost as much to the front as any of the captains that I have 
named : Steve Newhall, Ben Briscoe, Joe Cook, Frank Farrer 
and George Watson. Newhall was one of Oliver Newberry's 
trusted, reliable subordinates, and was an accomplished engineer 
wherever placed. I think he was with Blake on the steamboat 
Michigan when she first came out. Ben Briscoe passed the 
morning, noon and aln;ost the afternoon of his life in the engine 
rooms of many of the finest steamers on the lakes, and it is 
entirely safe to say he was inferior to none. Joe Cook, Frank 
Farrer and George Watson were also accomplished engineers. 
I do not call to mind any of the steamboats on which Frank Far- 
rer served, but I know he had the reputation of being A No. i 
in his profession. Joe Cook was for many years engineer on the 
May Queen, running between here and Cleveland. George Wat- 
son was engineer at one time on the steamboat Ocean, one of 

6o E;ARLY days in DETtlOlT. 

Ward's finest steamers. There were hosts of other accompHshed 
engineers on the lakes at that time, as there are now, but I do 
not call them to mind. 


Captain Samuel Ward came to Newport (now Marine City) 
about 1819 or '20. Shortly afterward he built a little schooner 
of thirty tons burden called the St. Clair. In this boat Captain 
Ward got his start, trading in general merchandise. The cap- 
tain made extensive trips in this little boat, one of which was 
from Green Bay to New York (of which trip mention has before 
been made). He built the schooner Marshal Ney about 1830. 
About 1835 the schooner Harrison (100 tons) came out. E. B. 
Ward, a nephew of Captain Samuel Ward, afterwards one of the 
largest vessel and steamboat owners on the lakes, sailed in her as 
mate. In 1839 he built the hull of the steamboat Huron, but had 
not the means to complete it. His nephew, Eber B. W^ard, took 
the matter in hand, finished the boat and afterwards developed 
a rare business sagacity, as all who are familiar with his career 
can bear witness. 


In 1846 the steamboat Detroit was the only first-class 
steamer plying regularly between Detroit and the "Soo." In 1855 
there were four first-class passenger steamboats, besides sev- 
eral propellers, running regularly between Detroit and ports on 
Lake Superior, passing through the "Soo" canal. The shipment 
of the copper output of the fourteen mines in the Ontonagon dis- 
trict in 1855 amounted to nearly 3,000 tons. At the present writ- 
ing not one of the fourteen companies is in existence. But the 
mines in the Portage Lake and Keweenaw districts are now (as 
everyone knows) producing immense amounts of copper, and the 
stocks of each are held high in the Boston market, particularly the 
Calumet & Hecla and the Tamarack. It is hard to imagine what 
the late Mr. Sheldon, at one time one of the heavy owners of the 
Calumet & Hecla mine, would say in regard to this property now. 

In 1866 I was in Houghton, and Mr. Sheldon, whom I knew 
well, tried to induce me to take some of the stock at $1 per share, 
but I had been bit in copper to the extent of about $600, and could 
not be persuaded. 



I call to mind three craft that were included in our lake 
marine, that I have not mentioned before, and that had quite a 
history attached. They were the brig Queen Charlotte, the 
barque Detroit and the fore-and-after Lady Provost. They 
belonged to the British fleet, opposed to Commodore Perry at the 
battle of Lake Erie, and were captured by him. They were sunk 
in the harbor of Erie. After remaining under water for a num- 
ber of years they were raised and put into commission. How long 
they remained so I do not remember. They all plainly showed 
in their hulls the marks of the punishment they had received. 

The brig Queen Charlotte had to "take crow." I have been 
told that before the Lake Erie fight she passed up and down the 
opposite side of the Detroit river under full sail, with -the cross 
of St. George flying at her masthead, and as she passed in front 
of the city she fired a blank cartridge (cannon), besides lowering 
and hoisting her topsails. The late Commodore Brevoort related 
the above circumstance. He knew, if anybody did, as he was 
here at the time and was an eye-witness of the incident. He 
afterwards participated in the fight as a volunteer. He used to 
relate the incident with great glee, and it was memorized in 
rhyme, as follows : 

The Detroit and Queen Charlotte and Lady Provost, 
Not able to fight or run, gave up the ghost, 
And not one of them all from our grapplings got free 
Though we'd fifty-four guns and they just sixty-three. 

Here is a short sketch of what the Queen Charlotte was in 
her prime : 

'*On the morning of the i6th of August, 1812, the time of 
Hull's surrender, the Queen Charlotte, a fine ship of war, 18 
guns, ran up the Detroit River, near the sand hill (where the old 
copper smelting works are now located) and dropped her anchor. 
Under cover of her broadsides the boats, with General Brock's 
troops, landed. They instantly formed and marched up to the 
place where the Michigan Central Railroad crosses the river road, 
and there defiled into the ravine out of the reach of our cannon.'/ 

Referring to the recent move of shipping freight direct by 
steamers from Chicago to European ports, I would say that it 


is not the first attempt of our lake shippers to place western pro- 
ducts in foreign ports, without breaking cargo at the east. 
George W. Bissell, of Detroit, freighted a vessel (the Levi Cook), 
sometime in the early fifties, with an assorted cargo, for Liver- 
pool. What the result of the venture was I never knew. 

The St. Helena (sail), among others, chartered by J. and 
P. Aspinwall, Detroit, to carry staves to Europe in July, 1859. 
The Sexton, Pierce and Kershaw (sail), were chartered the same 
season by Captain Pierce, of Cleveland, to carry railroad ties to 
Russia. Trowbridge and Wilcox, Detroit, in 1859 sent from this 
port the schooner Grand Trunk, 327 tons burden. Captain Stark- 
weather, to Hamburg, Germany, with a large cargo, consisting 
of hardwood lumber, and no doubt there were others. 

In the fall of 1843, the number of boats remaining in com- 
mission on the lakes was sixty, making a tonnage of 17,000 tons; 
and of these only thirty-five Were used when the steamboat com- 
bination was in existence. 

It was computed in 1845 ^^at the average value of property 
freighted to and fro on lakes Erie and Ontario exceeded $81,000,- 
000, and the number of vessels exceeded 500, including seventy- 
eight steamboats and steam propellers, many of which were from 
500 to 1,200 tons burden. (This information was obtained from 
a Detroit Daily of that year.) 


The first shipment of grain from Lake Michigan was made 
in 1836. In that year 3,000 bushels of wheat were shipped from 
Grand River, Mich., on the brig John Kenzie, owned by Dorr & 
Jones, Detroit, and commanded by Captain R. C. Bristol. This 
cargo arrived at Buffalo safely. In 1838 the steamer Great West- 
ern carried from Chicago to Buffalo thirty-nine bags of wheat, 
which were consigned to parties in Otsego County, N. Y. This 
was the first grain shipped from Chicago. In October, 1839, the 
brig Osceola carried down from Chicago to Kingman & Durfee, 
of Black Rock, 1,678 bushels of wheat, this being the first ship- 
ment of grain in bulk from that port. In 1840 a small schooner 
named the General Harrison, of about 100 tons, was loaded at 
Chicago with 3,000 bushels of wheat for Buffalo. The same years 
the schooner Gazelle carried from Chicago to Buft'alo 3,000 
bushels of wheat ; the brig Erie 2,000 bushels ; and the schooners 
Major Oliver and Illinois each a small cargo, etc. 


WINTER OE 1843. 

The Jackson, Mich., Democrat said in the winter of 1843 • 
''Just think of it — As soon as the lake is open to Buffalo, travelers 
can go from Jackson, sixty miles in the interior of Michigan, to 
Boston or New York by steam. If any man had told us fifteen 
years ago that such a trip would be performed, or that such a com- 
munication would be opened in 1843, we should have called him a 
Mormon or Millerite." 

There was much trouble with the mails in those days (1843), 
as, for instance, a Detroit paper had this to say : "The steamboats 
Columbus and Julia Palmer left Buffalo at the same time day 
before yesterday. The mail was put on board the Julia Palmer ; 
the Columbus arrived here between 8 and 9 o'clock this morning, 
but the Julia Palmer is not here yet. The result is that we have 
had no eastern mail since yesterday morning." 


It appears from the Buffalo Gazette of some time in 1843 
"that CaptainSquires, of the steamboat DeWitt Clinton, was the 
first to adopt the plan of metallic checks for baggage, so that 
when a passenger delivers his baggage to the porter he receives a 
check, the duplicate number of which is attached to his baggage, 
which is delivered only on presenting the duplicate — n great and 
long-felt want." 


A copy of the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser of 1843 says: 
"The present 3^ear completes a quarter of a century since the first 
steamer was launched upon the western lakes. During that period 
changes of vast magnitude have been effected by the application 
of the mighty agent — steam. Dense forests which frowned from 
the margins of great lakes, have been felled to give place to thriv- 
ing villages, and the moody aboriginal occupant, who gazed with 
wonderment at the approach of the ponderous vehicle, has become 
extinct, or is known only as a wanderer beyond the limits of the 
Mississippi. Changes like those have characterized the introduc- 
tion of steam upon the lakes and the independent, inquiring spirit 
which so distinctly marks the habits of the people of this country 
has kept pace with the progress of steam westwardly, and devel- 
oped the fertility and abounding resources of the prairies until 
they have become the granary of the world." 



*'The largest steamer on the lakes in 1859 was the Western 
World, 2,002 tons. There were nine others over 1,000 tons each, 
twenty-one measuring over 400 tons, seventy measuring over 100 
tons, sixty-three measuring over 30 tons, and sixty-one measur- 
ing under 20 tons. 

'7n May, 1863, the steamers Western World, Plymouth Rock 
and Mississippi were taken from Detroit to Buffalo to have their 
machinery removed, and otherwise to be dismantled. These fine 
steamers were commissioned in 1855, plied but three seasons, and 
were among the largest and finest floating palaces ever put upon 
the lakes ; and like everything else earthly they had their time ; so 
had the railroad that scooped them, and there was no further use 
for them. An extravagant outlay of money to a very small pur- 
pose, as they never realized one dollar over expenses." 


In 1827 the schooner Michigan, having been condemned as 
unseaworthy, was sent over Niagara Falls. The event was 
announced in sensational handbills, which proclaimed that "the 
pirate ship Michigan, with a cargo of furious animals, will pass 
over the Falls of Niagara on the 8th of September, 1827." Enter- 
tainment was promised for all who might visit the Falls on that 
occasion, which would, ''for its novelty and the remarkable 
spectacle which it will present, be unequaled in the annals of inter- 
nal navigation." The Michigan was 136 tons burden. The event 
was witnessed by several thousand people. 

This schooner Michigan, that was sent over the Falls, was 
the same vessel that conveyed Judge Buncer, of St. Clair, and his 
belongings to Detroit in 181 7. He left Albany for Buffalo in 
April of that year. On his arrival at the latter place, he had to 
wait some days for the completion of the above vessel, on which he 
intended to cross, and did cross Lake Erie. 


In the early days, from 1827 to about 1835, the absorbing 
event in this community was the arrival of the steamboat from 
Buffalo. A quaint old custom prevailed on these steamboats, and 
that was the firing of a cannon on rounding the point at Sandwich, 
announcing the fact that a boat was coming up the river. The 


echo of the gun had hardly died away before, down to the wharf 
would come trooping all the citizens of the town, not otherwise 
specially engaged, who enjoyed the diversion of seeing the boat 
come in to her dock. Seeing the boat come in meant a great deal, 
too, for the boats were few and far between, and those that did 
arrive over the then uncertain route of inter-communication were 
indeed welcome, bringing, as they did, friends, news, letters and 
needed supplies. So the boats let off a gun to announce their 
arrival and away every one that could hurried to the dock. 

I can testify from actual experience, many times repeated, 
what a welcome sound it was, and how everyone rushed to the" 
dock, as stated. I presume the old steamboat Walk-in-the- Water 
inaugurated this custom of firing a cannon, which was kept up 
until steamboats became so numerous that their arrival and depart- 
ure ceased to be a novelty, and the practice gradually died out. 
But it was a stirring and exciting experience to all Detroit folks, 
while the custom lasted, as any one that passed through that time 
will bear witness. Everything in the way of occupation was 
dropped when the report of that cannon was heard. 


In the early thirties immigration was at fever heat, and every 
steamboat that came in from Buffalo was loaded to the water's 
edge. The rivalry was intense, and the boats were, ineed, floating 
palaces for those days. The agents especially emphasized the 
assurance that the public might depend on the most exact punctu- 
ality in the sailing of the boats throughout the season, from either 
end of the route, and their absolute safety. One of the most ener- 
getic and active of these agents, or runners, at this end, and indeed 
one of the most lively and truthful, not excepting those at the port 
of Buffalo, was Billy Burchell. Many, no doubt, will remember 
him, and what a stirring little chap he was. After hustling around 
at every hotel and taven in town, and seeing to it that everyone 
desiring to leave on the daily boat was on hand at the hour of 
departure, his "passengers all aboard, sir !" to the captain at his 
post, was the signal for starting, and it was almost invariably 
waited for. 

''FLOATING palaces'" OF THE PAST. 

The steamer Michigan, as before mentioned, built by Oliver 
Newberry, when she first came out was considered a leviathan 



(472 tons burden), with her two engines, two walking beams and 
three masts, and magnificent appointments. Then after a while 
the steamboat Superior appeared, eclipsing the Michigan ; then the 
Washington (609 tons burden) ; then the Great Western (780 
tons), with the upper cabin, outdoing them both; then came the 
Empire, Captain Howe, declared by all to be, up to that date, the 
largest and most magnificent steamboat that had ever appeared 
on the lakes. She was a fine steamer, and I well remember her 
first appearance at her dock in this city. She landed at the foot of 
Woodward Avenue, Grey & Lewis' wharf. The citizens of this 
goodly town, almost en masse, inspected her admiringly and pro- 
nounced her the pride of the lakes, and one not easily duplicated or 
surpassed. Then came the Western World, 1,000 tons; then the 
Mayflower, 1,300 tons; then the Plymouth Rock, 1,991 tons; also 
the Northwest, 1,100 tons ; the R. N. Rice, 1,030 tons, etc. 

The magnificent examples of naval architecture, taking into 
account also their size and speed, as are now presented to us, 
makes all former efforts in that direction dwindle into insignifi- 
cance ; perhaps the efforts of the future may dwarf the present, but 
it does not seem possible. How significant also is the advance of 
the steam propeller of the lakes. In the early days sailing vessels 
or steam propellers capable of taking on a cargo of 15,000 or 
20,000 bushels of wheat, were considered large and quite sufficient 
(copper and iron ore were not factors then in the freighting bus- 
iness only to a very small extent), but now the capacity of the 
propellers engaged in the grain, ore and lumber trade is enor- 
mous. The amount of tons of ore, bushels of grain, and feet of 
lumber the present lake monsters are able to take all are familiar 
with. , 

Comparing the capacity of some of the early freighters with 
those of the present an illustration is given, taken from a Detroit 
paper of that time, November 2.^], 1843. 

"The brig Rocky Mountains (which was one of the largest of 
her class), on her last trip for Buffalo took a full cargo, consisting 
of 1,042 barrels of flour, 1,776 bushels wheat, 120 barrels fish, 6 
casks ashes, 9 barrels cranberries." 

Contrasting the time taken by steamers between Buffalo and 
Chicago from the years 1833- 1840, with the present, we find that a 
steamer left Buffalo June 23 and returned July 18; another left 
Buffalo July 20 and returned August 11.^ 


CROSSING lake: ERIE IN 1815. 

The following extract from a letter dated Detroit, September 
29, 181 5, will give some idea of the tribulations of travelers in 
those days. It was written by the late Judge James Witherell to a 
friend in the "states," as they used to say then : 

"I arrived in Buffalo ou the 19th of August, and was detained 
until the 31st for want of a vessel. On that day I sailed in a 
little vessel called the 'Experiment.' The little dirty cabin was 
crowded with several women, six men and a dog. During the 
night we ran past Presque Isle (Erie) some twenty miles, and as 
some of the passengers were to have been landed there, they chose 
to be put on shore opposite the vessel, and get back as they could. 
They were landed. Among them was the famous Barnabas Bid- 
well. On the 20th we ran into the mouth of Grand River in a gale 
of wind. The mouth of the river was then some three or four rods 
wide. The wind changed and soon raised a sandbar at its mouth, 
which prevented the vessel getting out; and in this condition we 
lay until the 6th of September (sixteen days), when Major Mars- 
ton and Lieutenant Ballard, of the army ; Messrs. Bell and Kane, 
of Buffalo, and myself (as the prospect of getting out within the 
next ten or fifteen days was uncertain) concluded to hire a man 
to take us in a wagon to Cuyahoga (Cleveland). Our baggage 
was sent on shore to the wagon, but in going myself got jostled 
out of the boat into deep water, and was compelled to swim some 
distance. Of course I was thoroughly wet. It was about sunset 
and we had several miles to go. The teamster said the road was 
plain and I walked on ahead. When I had gone far enough to feel 
sure that I was not on the right road, being surrounded by a dense 
wilderness and no habitation to be seen, I began to retrace my 
steps. I had walked several miles. The cold night air and my 
dripping clothes had benumbed my shivering limbs. After awhile 
I discovered a light and procured a boy for a guide, and after 
seven or eight miles' walking over a very soft, muddy road, I 
found the wagon. Arriving at Cleveland, I found that there was 
but one way to proceed to Detroit, and that was to charter a small 
schooner, which we did for $40, and sailed the next morning, 
September 8. We ran to Black River ; stopped about an hour and 
sailed again about 10 o'clock at night some twenty miles towards 
Sandusky ; but the captain, not knowing the coast, was obliged to 
run back to Black River on account of head wind, where w^e 


remained until the I2th of September. On that day we sailed to 
the mouth of the Vermillion, but could not enter on account of a 
sandbar. We ran into a small creek and remained until daylight. 
On the 13th we reached the islands. Here a violent storm of 
thunder, lightning, wind and rain set in, which placed our little 
barque in imminent peril. Here we found ourselves out of pro- 
visions, and in attempting to leave the islands the wind drove us 
back. We went on shore to look for food, but the island, being 
uninhabited, and we having no guns or fishing tackle, we got noth- 
ing but a few hard, small peaches, which were divided among us. 
At night two men were sent on shore to get som.e sassafras or spice 
bush to make a drink of, but the men found none. The captain 
then advised that some button wood bark should be procured, 
which was done, and being boiled an hour or two in an old ash 
kettle we fell to drinking. To'me it was serviceable, as I was 
suffering from fever occasioned by long fatigue and exposure. In 
the course of the night the wind became favorable to lay our course 
to Maiden. After being two hours under way a violent storm 
arose, and our vessel sprung a leak in a place where it could not 
be stopped ; and after our sails had been split to pieces by the wind, 
we were driven on the Canada shore near the new settlement below 
Maiden. Here we found a house and stayed all night, and in the. 
morning we hired a man to take us to Maiden, and there another 
was employed to take us up the river, and we landed at Captain 
Knagg's on the i8th of September." 

What a difference between then and now ! 

There have been in the past sailing greyhounds on the lakes, 
as well as those at present on the ocean; as, for instance, the 
ships Julia Palmer and Superior, the brigs Manhattan, Ramsey 
Crooks, Queen Charlotte,, the clipper brig Illinois, etc. — all fast 
sailers, as old lake men can testify. ' 

It was an exhilarating sight and one to stir the blood, to wit- 
ness one of these vessels fly by the city with a fair wind abaft, 
carrying a *'bone in her mouth" (to use a nautical expression), 
everything set below and aloft, her colors fluttering in the breeze. 
Old citizens, and sailors as well, will call to mind with a thrill 
of delight the stirring spectacle. The picture can be, and is 
repeated, on the ocean, but it is safe to say never again on the 
lakes. Gone like a puff of smoke. 



In the article below, which appeared in one of our local 
papers, signed by the captain himself, appear the names and 
descriptions of some of the steamboats and their captains that 
I have mentioned before, but I do not think that need lessen its 
interest; besides it presents some new features: 

The first steamboat — the Walk-in-the- Water — was built at 
Black Rock in 1817. John Fish was the master. She was as 
good a model as those upon which boats of the same dimensions 
are now built. Her length was 150 feet; breadth of beam, 27 
feet;. depth of hold, 10 feet, with three feet rise to quarter-deck. 
Her engine was low pressure and was built in England. It had 
four feet stroke of piston, cylinder 40-inch bore, diameter of 
wheels, 16 feet — four times the length of stroke. She always 
ran from Grand River to Cleveland in three hours and forty 
minutes in still water, a distance of thirty-one miles by govern- 
ment chart, which gives a speed of eight and a half miles per 
hour. She was lost at Buffalo on the first day of November, 
182 1, after running four seasons. . 

The steamboat Superior, Jedediah Rogers master, was built 
at Buffalo and came out in May, 1822. She was not as good a 
model as the Walk-in-the- Water. She was about the same speed, 
and had the engine and furniture of her predecessor. 

A small steamboat called the Chippewa, with a low pressure 
engine, was built at Buffalo in 1823. She was a failure. 

The Enterprise was built at Cleveland in 1825 by L. Johnson. 
She had a low-pressure engine, which was changed to a high- 
pressure in 1828-9. She then made money. 

The Wm. Penn was built at Erie, Pa., in 1826, with a con- 
densing engine. She was a failure. 

The steamboat Pioneer was built at Black Rock (Captain 
W. T. Pease) in 1825-6. She went ashore at Grand River, Ohio, 
the same fall ; was gotten off and a high-pressure engine put in 
her. She then performed well. The small boat Niagara, built 
at Black Rock in 1826-7, received the low-pressure engine of the 
Pioneer. She was a success. 

The steamboat Henry Clay (Captain William Norton) was 
built at Black Rock in 1826. She was a low-pressure boat, of 
model and size similar to the W^lk-in-the-Water. The Clay was 
a success. 


In the winter of 1827-8 the steamboat Wm. Peacock was 
built at Barcelona, Chautauqua Co., N. Y. She had the low- 
pressure engine of the Chippewa and was a failure. She was 
bought by C. M. Reed, of Erie, who put a high-pressure engine 
in her. She was then a fair boat of her size. 

In 1830 the small steamboat Ohio was built at Lower San- 
dusky with a high-pressure oscillating engine. She was a failure. 

In 1830 the steamboat Sheldon Thompson came out with a 
low-pressure engine. She was a good model and a fair success. 

In June, 1833, the steamboat Uncle Sam (Captain Stiles) 
came out from Detroit. She had a condensing beam engine, but 
was not a success. 

In the same month, 1833, the steamer New York was built 
at Black Rock. She had two high-pressure engines and eight 
boilers, but was a big failure. 

The steamboat Pennsylvania, with two high-pressure engine^ 
built by C. M. Reed, at Erie, Pa., was not a success. 

From May, 1822, up to July, 1833, the following steamboats 
were built : Chippewa, Enterprise, Wm. Penn, Pioneer, Niagara, 
Henry Clay, Wm. Peacock, Ohio, Sheldon Thompson, Uncle 
Sam, New York and Pennsylvania — twelve steamboats — making 
fourteen steamboats built during the first fifteen years. The 
Henry Clay was the only one of the twelve steamboats which 
came up to the Walk-in-the-Water, or was superior to her in 
speed or capacity for business. The other eleven were far infe- 
rior in speed and capacity. 

In the fall of 1833 the steamboat Michigan, with two low- 
- pressure beam engines, built by Oliver Newberry, of Detroit, 
and commanded by Chelsea Blake, came out. She was then the 
best rough water boat in this country. 

The Daniel Webster came out in December, 1833, ^"^ made 
one trip from Buffalo to Detroit and back. She was built by 
Pratt & Taylor, of Buffalo, after having false sides. She was a 
fair boat. 

After 1833, with an increase of business, the steamboats 
built, with the exception of a few failures, were larger and better. 

I commanded four of the above-named steamboats during 
the time stated, and know their speed and capacity. 

This account of early steamboating upon our western lakes 
is drawn from memorv and is reliable. I doubt whether records 


can be found which are rehable. I am pleased to say that during 
the fifteen years of steamboating, of which I have written, there 
were but five hves lost, caused by the breaking of a steam pipe 
on board the Peacock, Captain John Flaherty. 

Harry Whitaker. 

captain fred wheeler and the hercules. 

Captain Fred Wheeler, of the steamer Hercules, was a gay 
boy for a steamboat captain, but they were nearly all so when in 
port and tied up at the dock. Of course, outside, they were sail- 
ors all. 

The Hercules, on her trips from Buffalo to Chicago, rarely 
ever stopped at any ports on the way, except Cleveland, Detroit 
and Milwaukee, and at these three ports Captain Fred had many 
warm friends. By far the greater number were at this port, 
Detroit. * 

The arrival of the boat here was always the signal to the 
"boys" that a good time with Fred was at hand, and we always 
had it, in a moderate way. He usually tied up at Alex. Lewis' 
dock, at the foot of Bates Street, for from twelve to twenty-four 
hours, leaving in time to get over the St. Clair Flats by daylight, 
and rarely ever stopping on his downward trips for over an hour 
or so. 

Well, Fred concluded to get married and settle down, which 
he did, marrying a young lady in Buffalo. Just before the event 
he left word here with Dan Whipple (of the Bates Street res- 
taurant) to provide a supper and a basket of champagne for the 
"boys," wherewith to celebrate his nuptials. The supper came 
off, and they were all on hand and enjoyed it, as much- as they 
did the champagne. There was only one thing that occurred to 
mar the pleasure of the occasion, and that was the intoxication of 
the properietor of the house (Whipple), and he was the only one 
of the crowd to get in that condition. 



After the supper was over and the cigars lighted, it was 
proposed that a meeting be organized for the purpose of adopting 
resolutions expressing the friendly sentiments of the crowd 
toward the bride and groom. Barney Campau was called upon 
to preside and George Dibble was named as secretary. They 


were installed in chairs placed on top of the supper table after 
the cloth was removed. The proceedings had hardly begun when 
Dan, seeing the boys seated on top of the table, his muddled brain 
(he having been indulging a little in the "rosy") failed to take 
in the situation, got furious, grabbed hold of the two chairs and 
pulled them and their two occupants to the floor. The meeting 
broke up in a row, of course, and the party left the house highly 
indignant. Whipple came around to each one the next day and 
made an humble apology, and the matter was smoothed over and 
soon forgotten. Dan was always ugly when in that plight, but 
he was a mighty good fellow withal. 

Wheeler concluded to spend his honeymoon on a trip to 
Chicago and return on the sidewheel steamer St. Louis, instead 
of his own, the Hercules. The party arrived here in due time, 
and he received the congratulations of his friends. As the steamer 
was to remain here for eight or ten hours, one of tf^e boys pro- 
posed to take the bride out for a buggy ride, and show her the 
city. The offer was accepted. 

For some reason or other, I imagine designed by the way of 
a joke on the part of the escort, they did not return until after the 
steamer St. Louis had left, and with it the groom. Wheeler was 
in a peck of trouble on account of the non-appearance of his wife, 
and left word for her to join him at Chicago by rail, which she 
did. She was awfully indignant, of course. Captain Fred bided 
his time in which to get in his retaliation work, and he did after 
a little. About a month had passed after this small episode when 
one day, along about noon, the Hercules appeared at her dock, on 
her down trip from Chicago. Fred gave out to the ''boys" that 
it would give him great pleasure to have them dine with him on 
board the boat at 7 o'clock of that day. Well, we were all on hand 
at the hour, and had a very enjoyable time. After the cigars were 
lighted. Captain Fred excused himself for a few moments, and 
upon his return he resumed his cigar. After a pleasant half hour 
spent in smoking and relating reminiscences, he said, "Boys, I 
am afraid I cannot give you an invite to accompany me to Buffalo, 
but I can do the next best thing, and that is to give you a trip to 
Maiden, and you are taking it right now ; no thanks !" 

Sure enough, wher^ he excused himself he had given orders 
to have the cables quietly slipped, and before we knew it we were 
half way to Maiden. On our arrival at the latter place the 


captain put us ashore, with a "Good bye, boys," and a "safe return 
home," and sped on his way. We had to hire conveyances at 
Maiden to get us home, which we reached after a tedious, dusty 
ride of some three or four hours. We failed to see the joke. 


The other propeller, which I have mentioned (the Goliah), 
was of about the same tonnage as the Hercules, and was owned 
by Wesley Truesdail, of St. Clair. She was lost on her way to 
the "Soo" in 1846, I think, on Lake Huron, it was supposed. At 
any rate she was never heard from after she passed fort Huron. 
The reason that I mention this boat again is that I knew the 
captain and have been aboard of her frequently ; on her last trip 
she carried two friends of mine, Edward Good, a clerk in the 
employ of Mr. Truesdail, and John Schwarz, son of Gen. John 
E. Schwarz, adjutant-general of the state. , Both were bright 
young men, the latter particularly so. 

Captain T. Langley, when in command of the propeller May- 
flower, in August, 1861, received on board his boat at Mackinac 
Prince Napoleon (Plon-Plon) and his suite, who wished to go 
to Milwaukee. He gave up his own stateroom to the prince, who 
testified his appreciation of the pleasures of the trip by presenting 
the captain at the end of the voyage with his own cane. The 
cane was a fine one, being surmounted by a massive gold head 
bearing the prince's own name and crest. 


The following tribute to the steamer Ocean is from the pen 
of Ossian E. Dodge, and is an extract from a poem delivered on 
that boat, on its return to Detroit from the celebration of the 
forty-fifth anniversary of the battle of Lake Erie at Put-in-Bay 
Island, September 10, 1858. 

Well, just at half-past seven o'clock. 
The good steamer Ocean pulled out from the dock, 
And while from the river she merrily ran on, 
The ladies all screamed at the sound of the cannon. 

There were plenty of soldiers with musket and sword 
And a number of men lost their hats overboard, 
While soon in the cabin we all had a chance 
To each take a lady .and all have a dance. 


And now I will this opportunity take 
To say that steamboats are well manned on the lake ; 
And you will no doubt all respond to my motion, 
That none can be more so than the good steamer Ocean. 

To prove that this steamer is rapid and fierce, 
She's got an agent, one Gen. Pierce; 
And passengers dream of the Cupids and heavens. 
While sailing so smoothly with good Captain Evans. 

When the steamer is ready and all wish to start her, 
The clerk sells the tickets — one good David Carter; 
And to be doubly sure that she'll never be late, 
One William McKay is the popular mate. 

Of danger there never can be any fear 

So long as George Watson is chief engineer; 

And no one to grumble can ever be able 

When the steward, John Greenslade, provides for the table. 

Before the advent of Captain John Burtis, with his horse 
boat, which he brought from Cleveland in 1825 or thereabouts, 
the traffic between the two points was carried on by small boats 
and scows, the former for the conveyance of passengers, the latter 
for teams and passengers as well. 

William Baubie, of Windsor, recently deceased, was engaged 
in this business before Burtis came. He owned a scow and seven 
row-boats, and has often related to the writer his experience in 
the ferry marine. 

Captain Burtis' boat was called the Olive Branch, a scow- 
constructed craft propelled by horses. It resembled a "cheese- 
box on a raft," and Mr. Bolio, one of the old French residents, 
whose widow is still living in this city, was also engaged in the. 
same business about that time, and with the same appliances. 
And now comes Captain Ben Woodworth, of Woodworth's hotel, 
who has this advertisement in the Detroit Gazette of April 20, 


OVER ! OVER ! ! 

The subscriber has obtained a license to keep a Ferry 
on the Detroit River, and calls on the public for patronage. 
He has provided an excellent Flat, and his Boats for pas- 
sengers are superior to any that can be found on the River. 
Careful men have been engaged to attend the Ferry, and 
constant attention will be given, in order that passengers may 
suffer no delay. Persons wishing to contract for their fer- 
riage by the year, will be accommodated at a low rate, and 
landed at any point within a reasonable distance of the land- 
ing-place on the opposite shore. Freight will be taken over 
at a low rate. 

*^ The Ferry is kept nearly in front of the Steam Boat 


N. B. — Persons wishing to cross are desired to give 
notice at the Steam Boat Hotel. 
Detroit, April 20, 1820. 

Captain Burtis' horse-boat was a sidewheeler. These wheels 
were made to revolve by two horses, which trod on a circular 
table, set flush with the deck in the center, and revolved upon 
rollers, which, being connected with the shaft, set the wheels in 
motion. The horses remained stationary on the deck, the table 
on which they trod revolving under them, and being furnished 
with ridges of wood, radiating like spokes from the center, and 
which the horses caught with their feet, thus setting the tables in 

The following advertisement in relation to the horse-boat 
ferry appeared in the Detroit Gazette in 1825 : 

The subscribers have recently built a large and 

for the purpose of transporting across the Detroit river pas- 
sengers, wagons, horses, cattle, etc., etc. The boat is so 
constructed that wagons and carriages can be driven on it 
with ease and safety. It will leave McKinstry's wharf 
(adjoining that of Dow & Jones) for the Canada shore, and ■ 
will land passengers, etc., at the wharf lately built on that 
shore by McKinstry & Burtis. The ferry wharves are directly 
' opposite. 

Mr. Burtis resides on the Canada shore and will pay 
every attention to those who may desire to cross the river. 

D. C. McKinstry — J. Burtis. 


The writer crossed the river on this boat many times in 1827 
and afterward. 

The ''horse-boat" continued on this route until 1833, when 
Captain Burtis superseded her with the steamer Argo, which 
Captain Jenkins, of Windsor, built for him in that year. This 
little steamer I have alluded to slightly in a former article. For 
the following, in regard to the ferry business, I am indebted to 
the late Captain J. W. Hall, marine reporter at this port in 1878: 

"In 1834 the Argo had a rival on the ferry route called the 
Lady of the Lakes. The status of the ferry business did not vary 
materially until 1836, when the United was brought forth. Mr. 
Jenkins got up this craft for Louis Davenport. The United was 
71 tons burden, and continued on the ferry route until 1853. 
Subsequently she was converted into a lumber barge, and is still 
(1878) in commission. During her term of service as a ferry 
she had several masters. Those we at present call to mind were 
Captains Davenport, W. Clinton and J. B. Baker. In 1842 the 
Alliance began plying. After a few years her name was changed 
to the Undine, Captain John Sloss. Tom Chilvers at different 
times commanded her. The Argo No. 2 came on the route in 
1848. Not long afterward an explosion took place on board, 
killing Captain Foster, her master, and others. After reconstruc- 
tion she was for several years commanded by Captain W. C. 
Clinton, father of the present Captain W. R. Clinton, and after- 
wards by Captain James Forbes until 1872, when she was taken 
from the route. In 1852 Dr. Russell built and placed on the route 
the Ottawa, commanded by Captain W. R. Clinton, and subse- 
quently by Captain A. H. Mills. The steamer Gem, built for W. P. 
Campbell, came out in 1856, and was first in command of Captain 
J. B. Goodsell, and afterwards by Captain Tom Chilvers, the 
latter having had for a short time on the route the Mohawk, form- 
erly a British naval steamer. The Windsor was also built in 
1856 by Dr. Russell. She was commanded by Captain W. R. 
Clinton. After a short period of service she was chartered to the 
Detroit & Milwaukee Railway, and was burned at their dock in 
March, 1866, with the loss of several lives. Subsequently she 
was rebuilt, converted into a barge, and is now (1878) in com- 
mission on Lake Michigan. The Essex, built by Messrs. Jenkins, 
came out in 1859, and began ferrying. She was commanded by 
Captain George Jenkins. After running for some years she was 



laid up for a time and again took the route, plying more or less 
of the past (1878) season. The steamer Olive Branch for a time 
also served as a ferry during the period of 1859. She was owned 
by W. P. Campbell. The Detroit, built at Algonac for Mr. Camp- 
bell by Zadock Pangburn, came on in 1834, and, with others above 
referred to, continued plying until 1875, when she was retired. 
The Hope was built in 1870 for George N. Brady and Captain 
W. R. Clinton, the latter taking charge of her. The present 
(1878) fleet of ferry steamers consists of the Victoria, built in 
1872, Captain W. R. Clinton; the Fortune, built in 1875, Captam 
Walter E. Campbell, and the Excelsior, built in 1876, Captain W. 
L. Horn. The last named steamers, in point 6i superiority, in 
their get-up and accommodations, are unsurpassed anywhere in 
the world. And what adds to this is that their officers are obliging 
and gentlemanly in their deportment, and spare no pains in caring 
for all who travel over this important thoroughfare." 

This statement was made twenty-four years ago, and the 
great advance the ferry company has made since that time all are 
quite familiar with. 

Another pleasing feature about this ferry business is the lib- 
erality of the company in allowing the public to enjoy in season 
the luxury of riding on their boats from morning until evening 
for ten cents each person ; children in baby carriages and arms 
free. Just think of it ! Nowhere else in the world can this be 
duplicated, nor the routes either, for that matter. In the early 
days no such luxury was dreamed of. It was available to a lim- 
ited extent, but no one ever thought of taking advantage of it. 

Although I have copied freely from Mr. Hall's article, I was 
quite familiar with all the ferry boats, etc., that he mentions. The 
ferry dock during the time of the Davenports and a little earlier 
was at the foot of Griswold street. The steatmboats Argo, 2d, 
and United ran every fifteen minutes or so into a slip on which 
the Davenports, Lewis and his brother, built a commodious struc- 
ture for a waiting room, saloon and restaurant. The saloon and 
restaurant were run by John Edwards, whom many, no doubt, 
will remember as an exceedingly jolly and pleasant Englishman. 
This waiting room, saloon and restaurant were built over the 
water on piles. 



I have barely mentioned this mite of a steamboat and her 
jovial captain in a former article, but think both boat and captain 
deserve a more extended notice, as it was this city's first attempt 
in steamboat building. 

The Argo was built in this city at the foot of Wayne Street. 
The captain was a pioneer in the ferry business between Detroit 
and Windsor, he having, as before mentioned, commanded the 
horse fer-ry-boat that plied between the two cities. His ambition 
in the navigation business was not satisfied, so he essayed the 
steamer Argo (this was in 1833). She was fashioned out of two 
immense trees, or logs, hollowed out like canoes, and the two were 
joined together, fore and aft, but were spread apart and decked 
over with side wheels. Shadrick Jenkins, father of the Jenkins 
brothers^ Windsor ship builders, was the builder also of several 
vessels respectively at Detroit, Moy (this side of Walkervillej 
and Maiden. It seems to me that I was on hand almost daily 
when the building of this boat was in progress, such an interest I 
took in it. 

The boat was finally completed and launched, sideways, into 
the slip near by. She was a success in a small way, as far as 
steam propulsion was concerned; but was very "cranky." The 
Free Press published in 1879 (the exact date I do not remember) 
an article I wrote in relation to Captain Burtis and his steamboat, 
which I think will bear reproduction here : 


"Rambling about the city a few days ago, I found myself in 
the City cemetery on Russell Street, corner of Gratiot Avenue, 
and it occurred to me that as the order had gone forth for the 
removal of the bojlies still remaining buried there, I might idle 
away an hour or so scanning the few remaining tombstones, and 
that perhaps I might remember something in relation to them that 
would be of interest to the living. 

"Many of our old residents will remember Captain Burtis. 
His grave is so near Russell Street that the passerby can or could 
read his name on the tombstone; doubtless many have done so, 
when it stood erect, and perhaps have wondered who this person 
was that once owned the high-soUnding title of 'Captain.' Quite 
recently some miserable vandal broke the stone in twain. The 


captain had the gift of forcible language to a remarkable degree, 
and I can imagine him standing beside his own grave, in the flesh, 
giving vent to his feelings against the perpetrators of the useless 
act, in some of his choicest English. He died in 1836, at the age 
of 45, so the stone records, and though comparatively young, he 
had lived long enough to accomplish some few things to help along 
the growth of this great city and state. He was the first to estab- 
lish a decent ferry between this city and Windsor. Many will 
remember his boat that looked something like 'Erickson's cheese 
box on a raft,' propelled by horsepower. It was a wonder to all 
the natives as well as a great convenience to the inhabitants on 
both sides of the river. He continued this for a while until he 
superseded it by something new and better, viz. : the steamer 
Argo, the first steamboat built in Michigan. After serving as a 
ferry boat for a short time, it became the pioneer of steam river 
navigation between Detroit, Port Huron, Fort Gratiot, St. Clair, 

'*! well remember the building of this diminutive steamer and 
the captain's overseeing the same. It was built almost in front of 
the hardware house of Buhl, Ducharme & Co., on Woodbridge 
Street. The hull was composed of two immense logs, hollowed 
out and joined together, making a huge canoe, as it were, and , 
when sufficiently completed to receive her miniature engine, she 
was helped into the river, on rollers. Her trips to Port Huron 
and other places were trips to be remembered. I ventured on 
three of them to St. Clair and return, and the incidents connected 
therewith are as fresh in my memory as though they had hap- 
pened yesterday. She was awfully 'cranky,' this little Argo, and 
it required considerable vigilance on the part of her captain to 
keep his passengers from 'shooting' around and tipping her over. 
One occasion I remember well. On one of the trips I mention, 
the late Thomas Palmer was with us, and he, being of goodly pro- 
portions, it behooved Burtis, who was at the helm, to keep his^ 
eye on him. Every once in a while he would sing out, 'For God's 
Sake, Uncle Tom, keep in the middle of the boat, or you will- 
have us over,' or 'Trim ship, Uncle Tom,' or 'Look out, Uncle 
Tom,' until 'Trim ship, Uncle Tom,' came to be a by-word during 
the excursion. This little Argo soon passed away and was super- 
seded by another and larger steamer of the same name, but not 
another 'Burtis.' The jovial and genial captain fell a victim to 
cholera, I think." 



-Another funny incident occurred on one of these trips that 
I have hitherto failed to record. My uncle had imported from 
the then lumbering state of Maine, an experienced hand, or expert, 
in the lumber business, for service in his water saw mill, located 
some miles up Pine River, in St. Clair county. Well, this chap 
was with us on one of these excursions. Everything went along 

, all right until, steaming quietly and serenely close to the shore, 
between Algonac and Newport (now Marine City), the Argo 
sunddenly ran her nose into a dense bunch of alder bushes on the 
river bank, and stuck there hard aground. The utmost power of 
the diminutive engine was unable to extricate the boat. My uncle 
suggested to Captain Burtis that perhaps his man from Maine 
might do the thing, as he was over six feet tall and quite lanky. 
Well, the chap was quite willing, and, cautiously letting himself 
into the water, at the bow of the steamer, where the water was 
about up to his waist, he, without much effort, released the Argo 
from her plight. Then the question arose, how was the man 
from Maine to get aboard again without tipping us over. He 
was bound to do it, if he tried it where he was, at the bow, so the 
captain told him he must try getting aboard over the stern. The 

•water there was up to his arm-pits, but he managed to crawl 
aboard over the stern, with the help of those on board, and we 
proceeded on our way rejoicing. 


Here is another incident in connection with the Argo and 
Uncle Thomas Palmer. On one of these trips the latter found" it 
necessary to go aft. To accomplish this it was necessary to climb 
over the paddle-box, and as he was executing that feat he broke 
through and caught his foot in a bucket of the paddle wheel. It 
was a test of strength between himself and the engine. The 
engine gave up. Palmer extricated his foot and the Argo pro- 
ceeded on her way. 

It's a long cry from the little Argo to the steamers Promise 
and Tashmoo, and from these to what 

Steam tugging was begun in 1844 by the steamer Romeo, 
a sidewheeler. In 1848 there were also employed at the Flats the 
steamers Tecumseh, Little Erie, Telegraph No. 2, Chautauqua, 
propeller Odd Fellow, and others. The number of tugs in com- 


mission in 1877, according to Captain J. W. Hall, marine reporter 
at that time, was forty-two. In his records Captain Hall says: 
''These tugs, for finish and capacity, are not surpassed in any 
other part of the world, both as regards towing and wrecking." 
The late Governor Jerome and his brother *'Tiif" had the 
charter of the steamer Chautauqua when she was engaged in tug- 
ging on Lake and River St. Clair in 1848. Captain David, as we 
called him then, invited me, in the fall of the above year, to spend 
a couple of weeks with him "aboard ship," which I did. I had a 
very enjoyable time, the memory of which will remain with me 
pleasantly always. Dave did not dream then that some day the 
governorship of Michigan would be bestowed upon him. 


This tugging business was at one time indispensable and 
assumed immense proportions. Of the forty-two tugs in com- 
mission in 1877, I call to mind only four — the Champion, the 
Sweepstakes, the Crusader and the Gladiator — all powerful tugs. 
The Champion was without doubt the most powerful tug on the 
lakes. She was built by the Detroit Dry-Dock Co. and owned 
by the late John P. Gillett and others. The Sweepstakes was 
owned by H. Norton Strong. These tugs, with their tows, were 
a spectacular feature of our rivej in those days. Strong had his 
tug, with five or six vessels in tow, perpetuated in a colored litho- 
graph. They made a pleasing picture, taken as they passed the 
city, bound down, with colors flying. This lithograph was widely 
distributed, and many no doubt are the fortunate possessors of 

These tugs filled a long-felt want. I call to mind, along in 
1837, 1838, and on to 1840, when our merchants received the 
bulk of their spring and fall purchases in the east by sailing ves- 
sels from Buffalo. These vessels were often detained by adverse 
winds, sometimes for many days, causing the merchants and their 
customers considerable anxiety and vexation. I call to mind one 
such occasion. I was a boy clerk in the general store of C. & J. 
Wells, Desnoyer Block, Jefferson Avenue, in 1837 or 1838. We 
had the fall and winter stock of dry goods, groceries, etc., on the 
way here, by vessel from Buffalo, and the proprietors were look- 
ing anxiously for their arrival, as were many other merchants for 
their goods. Well, one day eight or ten vessels appeared in sight 


just below Sandwich point. As they were rounding the point a 
head wind struck them, and there they lay for almost a week, with 
all those goods in their holds that everybody needed so badly. 
Finally a fair wind came along and wafted the fleet to the city, 
and all interested were happy. Now, if the steam tug had been in 
evidence such a thing could not have happened. 

The late Captain E. B. Ward built an iron tug boat about 
three years before he died. It was the first one built of iron, and 
the largest on the lakes. She was constructed by the Detroit Dry- 
Dock Company, but was found to be not adapted for the work 
and was taken to New Orleans and sold. She was put into the 
fruit trade in that vicinity. 

the; waIvK-in-the- water. 

The public has no doubt often heard of the steamer Walk-in- 
the-Water, her origin and her loss on the beach at Buffalo pier in 
182 1, but there are some incidents connected with this boat that 
I don't think have appeared in print before. The ''History of the 
Great Lakes" says of the Walk-in-the- Water : 

"The year 1818 is memorable for the construction of the 
Walk-in-the-Water, the first steamboat on Lake Erie. During 
the winter of 1817-18 the following named persons associated 
together to build a steamboat to navigate Lake Erie : Joseph B. 
Stuart, Nathaniel Davis, Asa H. Curtis, Ralph Pratt, James Dur- 
ant and John Meads, of Albany, and Robert McQueen, Samuel 
McCoon, Alexander McMuir and Noah Brown, of the city of 
New York. Of these Mr. McQueen, a machinist, built the engine, 
and Mr. Brown, a shipwright, superintended the construction of 
the hull. Early in 1818 Mr. Brown laid the keel at the mouth of 
Scajaquada creek. There she was launched on May 18, 1818. On 
August 25 she departed on her first passage over the waters^ of 
Lake Erie. 

The scene presented when the boat was ascending the 
Niagara River was picturesque. The primitive steamboat strug- 
gled with the rapid current, aided by several yoke of oxen on the 
beach, tugging at the end of a long towline. This was the his- 
torical "horn breeze" prevalent on Niagara River when the 
current was stronger than the applied steam power. 

According to Captain Barton Atkins, of Buffalo, the origin 
of the name "Walk-in-the-Water" was as follows : "When Fulton 



first steamed his boat, the CleSmont, up the Hudson in 1807, an 
Indian standing on the river bank and gazing long and silently 
at the boat moving up-stream without sails, finally exclaimed: 
'Walks in the water.' " The man in the forest saw the boat stem- 
ming the current unaided by any power known to him. He 
observed the paddle wheels slowly revolving, and intuitively com- 
prehended that when a paddle struck the water there was a step 


It may be here briefly stated that the name, "Walk-in-the- 
Water," being so long was not generally used, either in conver- 
sation or in print. As she was the only one of her class on Lake 
Erie, she was usually designated as "The Steamboat." Her 
arrival at Cleveland is thus chronicled by a local historian: "On 
the first day of September, 1818, an entire novelty, the like of 
which not one in 500 of the inhabitants had ever before seen, pre- 
sented itself before the people of Cuyahoga county. On the day 
named the residents along the lake shore of Euclid saw upon the 
lake a curious kind of a vessel making what was then considered 
very rapid progress westward, without the aid of sails, while 
from a pipe near its middle rolled forth a dark cloud of smoke, 
which trailed its gloomy length far into the rear of the swift- 
gliding, mysterious traveler over the deep. They watched its 
westward course until it turned its bow toward the harbor of 
Cleveland, and then returned to their labors. Many of them 
doubtless knew what it was, but some shook their heads in sad 
surmise as to whether some evil powers were not at work in pro- 
ducing such a strange phenomenon as that on the bosom of their 
beloved Lake Erie. Meanwhile the citizens of Cleveland perceived 
the approaching wonder and hastened to the lake shore to examine 
it. 'What is it?' What is it?' 'Where did it come from?' 
'What makes it go?' queried one and another of the excited 

" 'It is the steamboat ; that's what it is,' cried others in reply. 

" 'Yes, yes, it's the steamboat ; it's the steamboat ; it's the 
steamboat,' was the general shout, and, with ringing cheers, the 
people welcomed the first vessel propelled by steam which had 
ever traversed the waters of Lake Erie. 

"The keel had been laid at Black Rock, near Buffalo, in 
November, 1817, and the vessel had been built during the spring 


and summer of 1818. It had received the name of Walk-in-the- 
Water from a Wyandotte chieftain, who was formerly known by 
that appelation, which was also extremely appropriate as applied 
to a vessel which did, indeed, walk in the water like a thing of life. 
The harbinger of the numerous steam leviathans of the upper 
lakes, and of the immense commerce carried on by them, was of 
342 tons burden, and could carry 100 cabin passengers and a still 
larger number in the steerage. Its best speed was from eight to 
ten miles an hour, and even this was considered something won- 
derful. All Cleveland swarmed on board to examine the new 
craft, and many of the leading citizens took passage in it to 
Detroit, for which place it soon set forth." 


a* The Detroit Gazette of that day said of her first trip to this 

• ■ city : 

-< ''The Walk-in- the-Water left Buffalo at one 'and a half p. m. 

'v ■« and arrived at Dunkirk at thirty-five minutes past 6 on the same 

^ day. On the following morning she arrived at Erie, Captain Fish 

(* having reduced her steam in order not to pass that place, where 

%;.(/► J he took in a supply of wood. The boat was visited by all the 
inhabitants during the day, and had the misfortune to get aground 
for a short time in the bay, a little west of French Street. At 
half past 7 p. M. she left Erie and arrived at Cleveland at 11 
o'clock. Tuesday at twenty minutes past 6 o'clock p. m. she 
sailed, and reached Sandusky bay at i o'clock on Wednesday ; lay 
"^ at anchor during the night, and then proceeded to Venice for 

'^'\ f. wood ; left Venice at 3 p. m. and arrived at the mouth of the 

V ' Detroit River, where she anchored during the night. The whole 

)C^ ^, time of the first voyage from Buffalo to Detroit occupied forty- 

four hours and ten minutes^ — the wind being ahead during the 
ir^ whole passage. Not the slightest accident happened during the 

voyage, and her machinery worked admirably. 

"Nothing could exceed the surprise of the 'sons of the forest' 
on seeing the Walk-in-the- Water move majestically and rapidly 
against wind and current, without sails or oars. Above Maiden 
they lined the shores and expressed their astonishment by repeated 
shouts of 'Taiyoh nichee !' (An exclamation of suprise.) 

"A report that had circulated among them that a 'big canoe' 
would soon come from the 'noisy waters,' which, by order of the 
'great father of the "Chemo Komods" ' (Long Knives, or Kan- 




kees), would be drawn through the lakes and rivers by a sturgeon. 
Of the truth of this report they were perfectly satisfied. 

"Her second arrival at Detroit was on September 7 of the 
same year, having on board thirty-one passengers, including the 
Earl of Selkirk and suite, destined for the far northwest. 

''The cabins of the Walk-in-the-Water were fitted up in a 
neat, convenient and elegant style, and a trip to Buffalo was con- 
sidered not only tolerable, but truly pleasant. She made an excur- 
sion from Detroit to Lake St. Clair with a party of ladies and 
gentlemen, and returned to Buffalo in time to be again at Detroit 
the following week." 

Honorable Henry R. Schoolcraft, Indian agent, gives an 
account of a trip on the Walk-in-the-Water in 1820, as follows : 

"On the 6th of May I embarked on the steamboat, which left 
Black River at 9 o'clock in the morning and reached Detroit on 
the 8th at 12 o'clock "at night. We were favored with clear 
weather and part of the time with fair wind. The boat is large, 
uniting in its construction a great degree of strength, convenience 
and elegance, and is propelled by a powerful and well-cast engine 
on the Fultonian plan, and one of the best pieces of the original 
foundry (McQueen's, N. Y.). The accommodations of the boat 
are all that could be wished, and nothing occurred to interrupt the 
delight which a passage at this season affords. The distance is 
computed at 300 miles ; the time we employed in the voyage was 
sixty-two hours, which gives an average rate of traveling of five 
miles per hour. The first two miles after leaving Black Rock 
a very heavy rapid is encountered, in ascending which the assist- 
ance of oxen is required. In passing through Lake Erie the boat 
touches at the town of Erie, in Pennsylvania, at the mouth of 
Grande River, and at the towns of Cleveland and Portland, in 
Ohio, the latter situated on Sandusky Bay." 

The Walk-in-the-Water had a low pressure engine. Captain 
Job Fish commanded her when she made her first trip, arriving at 
Detroit August 22 of the above year. She was afterwards com- 
manded by Jebediah Rogers, and a Buffalo paper of July 9, 182 1, 
says of her : 

"The steamboat Walk-in-the-Water will sail on the 27th of 
July at 4 o'clock in the afternoon for Detroit, Mackinac and Green 
Bay, and will stop, as usual, at Erie, Grand River, Cleveland and 


A ^'splendid adventure/'' 

The New York Mercantile Advertiser of May 14, 1818, had 
this to say of her: "The swift steamboat Walk-in-the- Water is 
intended to make a voyage early in the summer from Buffalo, on 
Lake Erie, to Michilimackinac, on Lake Huron, for the convey- 
ance of company. The trip has so near a resemblance to the 
famous Argonautic expedition in the heroic ages of Greece that 
expectation is quite alive on the subject. Many of our most dis- 
tinguished citizens are said to have already engaged their passage 
for the splendid adventure." 

To speak of stotrip to Mackinac as having a resemblance to 
the famous Argonautic. expedition of the heroic ages of Greece, 
will provoke a smile in these days, when the same voyage is an 
every-day occurrence. 

The Detroit Gazette of August 10, 1821, contained the fol- 
lowing : 

"The steamboat Walk-in-the-Water left here on the 31st ult. 
for Michilimackinac and Green Bay, having on board upwards of 
200 passengers and a full cargo of merchandise for the ports on 
the upper lakes. The officers of the army who took passage in her 
were Colonels Pinckney, McNeil and House ; Majors Baker, Lar- 
ribee and Watson ; Captains Garland, Green, Legate and Cass ; 
Lieutenants Tuffts, Baker, Morris, Chambers, Allen and Pomeroy. 


General Ellis, at one time surveyor-general of Wisconsin, 
contributes a paper on the early days in the west, which is printed 
in the collections of the Historical Society of Wisconsin, in which 
he gives a description of this steamboat and of his passage on her 
from Buffalo to Detroit, some time in June, 182 1. He goes on 
to say : 

"The new steamboat Walk-in-the-Water, built by capitalists 
from Albany, and after the North River models, commanded by 
Captain Rogers, lay at the wharf at Black Rock. We took passage 
in her for Detroit. She was furnished with what the engineer 
called 'a powerful low-pressure engine,' but she could not, with all 
her power, stem the rapids, and go out into the lake, but had to 
be towed out. by nine yoke of oxen going along the beach, at the 


end of a line of 600 feet, which was cast off as soon as the steamer 
got out of the rapids into the lake. This boat has great length 
with but little breadth, was very slender, and proved unseaworthy, 
having broken in two the next fall in a storm on the lake. She, 
however, took us safely to Detroit." 


The steamboat Walk-in-the-Water assisted in celebrating the 
Fourth of July in 1821. The Detroit Gazette of July 6 says: 

"This day, which may be emphatically syled 'The Birthday 
of our Nation,' was celebrated by our citizens and strangers in 
this city in a very appropriate and agreeable manner. At 12 
o'clock the Declaration of Independence was read to a large con- 
course at the council house, by Charles Larned, Esq. A proces- 
sion was then formed, and, preceded by martial music, playing 
the good old tune, 'Yankee Doodle,' marched to the hotel of Mr. 
Bronson, where upwards of 150 persons sat down to a bounteous 
repast, at which Judge James Witherell, as president, and Major 
T. Maxwell, as vice-president, presided. Both of these gentlemen 
entered the army at an early period of. the revolution, and never 
laid aside their arms until the liberties of their country were 
secured. Major J. Kearsley and Captain B. Woodworth assisted 
as second and third vice-presidents." 

The account goes on to say : 

"The anniversary of our national independence, in the cele- 
bration of which every American heart and hand should join, 
was also distinguished by a numerous and brilliant assemblage of 
the ladies of Detroit and its vicinity, accompanied by several of 
our citizens and the gentlemen of the army at this post, who 
embarked on board the steamboat Walk-in-the-Water at 11 
o'clock:. The company were attended by a band of excellent 
musicians, and their strains of melody, 

'Now scarcely heard, now swelling on the gale, 
As down the stream the floating barque is borne.' 

conveyed to each listener the truth that the party on the water 
sympathized amply in the patriotic and joyous feelings of their 
fellow-citizens on shore. 

"The day was extremely fine, and the quarter-deck of the 


boat, which, by the pohteness of Captain Rogers, had been pre- 
pared for the occasion, was occupied by cotilHon parties. The 
Declaration of Independence was read, and, after partaking of an 
excellent dinner, a set. of appropriate toasts were drunk. The 
boat, after passing Maiden, and making a short trip in Lake 
Erie, returned to her wharf at sunset." 

The Gazette of the 13th says: 

"It ought to be stated that the steamboat Walk-in-the-Water, 
while passing the British garrison at Fort Maiden, was properly 
noticed by the military authorities at that place." 

The Walk-in-the-Water was beached in a storm, a few miles 
above the Buffalo lighthouse, on the night of the 6th of Novem- 
ber, 1 82 1, on her way to Detroit. She. left Black Rock at 4 p. m. 
of that day. She was struck by a severe squall when about four 
miles out in Lake Erie, which caused her to spring a leak. The 
boat was at the mercy of the waves until half -past 5 o'clock 
Thursday morning, when she beached a short distance above the 
lighthouse. The passengers and crew got ashore without the loss 
of lives or any material injury. Some idea may be formed of the 
fury of the storm, when it is known that the boat, heavily laden 
as she was, was thrown entirely on the beach. Among the pas- 
sengers were Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Palmer, of Detroit, who were 
returning home from their wedding trip, accompanied by Miss 
Catharine Palmer, Mr. Palmer's sister. 


Here follows a more extended account of the disaster, taken 
from a Buffalo paper of November 6, 1821 : 

"On Wednesday last the steamboat Walk-in-the-Water left 
Black Rock at 4 p. m. on her regular trip to Detroit ; the weather, 
though somewhat rainy, did not appear threatening. After she 
had proceeded about four miles above Bird Island she was struck 
by a severe squall, which it was immediately perceived had injured 
her much, and caused her to leak fast. The wind from the south- 
west continued to blow with extreme severity through the night, 
which was exceedingly dark and rainy, attended at intervals with 
the most tremendous squalls. The lake became rough to a terri- 
fying degree and every wave seemed to threaten immediate 
destruction to the boat and all on board. This was truly to the 


passengers and crew a night of terror and dismay — to go forward 
was impossible ; to attempt to return to Black Rock in the dark- 
ness and tempest would have been certain ruin, on account of the 
difficulty of the channel; and little less could be hoped, whether 
the boat were anchored, or permitted to be driven on the beach. 
She, however, was anchored, and for awhile held fast, but as 
every one perceived, each wave increased her injury and caused 
her to leak faster; the casings in her cabin were seen to move at 
every swell, and the squeaking of her joints and timbers was 
appalling; her engine was devoted to the pumps, but in spite of, 
them all the water increased to an alarming extent — the storm 
grew more terrible. The wind blew more violently as the night 
advanced, and it was presently perceived that she was dragging 
her anchors and approaching the beach. In such blackness of 
darkness could her helm have commanded her course, not the most 
skillful pilot could have chosen with any certainty the part of the 
shore on which it would be most prudent to land. The passengers 
on board were numerous and many of them were ladies, whose 
fears and cries were truly heartrending. 

''In this scene of distress and danger, the undersigned passen- 
gers in the boat, feel that an expression of the warmest gratitude 
is due to Captain J. Rogers, for the prudence, coolness and intelli- 
gence with which he discharged his duty ; his whole conduct 
evinced that he was capable and worthy his command. He 
betrayed none but the character of one who at the same time feels 
his responsibility and has courage to discharge his duty. He was, 
if we may so speak, almost simultaneously on deck to direct and 
assist in the management of the boat, and in the cabins to encour- 
age the hopes and soothe the fears of the distressed passengers. 
The calmness of his countenance and pleasantness of his conver- 
sation relieved in a great degree the feelings of those who seemed 
to despair of seeing the light of another day. No less credit is 
due to the other officers. Sailing Master Miller, and Engineer Cal- 
houn, and even the whole crew. All were intent on their duty, 
and manifested that they had intelligence, courage, and a determi- 
nation to perform it. All were active, and proved that they 
wanted none of the talents of the most expert sailors, in the most 
dangerous moments. To them all as well as the captain the 
undersigned passengers tender their most sincere thanks. 


*'The boat was at the mercy of the waves until 5 130 o'clock 
Thursday morning, when she beached a short distance above the 
light house, when the passengers and crew began to debark, which 
was effected without the loss of lives, or any material injury. 
Some idea may be formed of the fury of the storm, when it is 
known that the boat, heavily laden as she was, was thrown entirely 
on the beach. 

Alanson W. Welton, Jedediah Hunt, 
Thomas Pai^mer, OrIvAndo Cutter, 

Wm. Berczy, Silas Meriam, 

Mary A. W. Palmer, Rhoda Lattimore, 

Catherine Palmer, Martha Bearey, 

Chauncey Barker, Geo. Williams, 

Thomas Gay, Elisha N. Berge, 

John S. Hudson, Edson Hart, 

James Clark, Geo. Throop. 

A journey to DETROIT IN 182I. 

The following is taken from a Detroit paper of March 23, 
1874, the particulars of which were given to the writer of them 
by Mrs. Thomas Palmer, one of the passengers on the steamer. 
Mrs. Palmer was the mother of Senator Thomas W. Palmer: 

"On the evening of October 31st, 182 1, the saloons and decks 
of the Walk-in-the-Water (the first steamboat on the lakes, 
coming out in 1819) were thronged with intelligence and beauty, 
all full of animation and joy fulness, in the harbor at Buffalo, des- 
tined for Detroit and other western towns — some returning home 
after the absence of weeks and months, some to seek their fortunes 
and some on a mission of love and mercy. Among the passengers 
were to be found Thomas Palmer, merchant of Detroit and his 
wife; Mrs. C. Hinchman, of Detroit; John Hale, of Detroit; 
Lieutenant Kenzie, of the United States army for the post at 
Detroit; Rev. Mr. Welton, Protestant Episcopal minister, and 
family, destined for Detroit; Mr. Throop, merchant of Pontiac; 
Rev. Mr. Hart and wife, of the Presbyterian church, for an Indian 
mission at Fort Gratiot; John S. Hudson and wife and Miss 
Eunice Osmer, as teachers for the same mission, with some others 
not important to mention. With this company Captain Jedediah 
Rogers started from Buffalo at evening for Detroit, all having 
high hopes of reaching this port in safety. But during the night 


the storm king walked forth and shook himself fearfully, the wind 
howled, the storm raged, and everything conspired to make it a 
fearful night. Every effort to stem the storm was in vain. They 
were driven back, and at 5 o'clock in the morning of November 
1st, 1 82 1, the Walk-in-the- Water was wrecked on the shore in 
•Buffalo bay, at the light-house. Mrs. Palmer was the first one to 
reach the light-house. Others quickly followed, and all the pas- 
sengers and crew were saved. This was the first steamboat ever 
navigated on these inland seas — that ever visited the port of 
Detroit. She was succeeded the next summer by the Superior, 
of three hundred tons burden, constructed at Buffalo, 1822, and 
commanded by Captain Roger Sherman, and not by Captain 
Rogers, as some have supposed. But what became of the pas- 
sengers? They were all taken to Buffalo and kindly cared for 
by the inhabitants for three or four days, when they found 
other ways of getting to their respective destinations. Thos. 
Palmer had been away from his business so long that he thought 
he must secure the most expeditious means of getting to Detroit 
that he could find. So he engaged a Mr. WiUiams to bring 
himself and wife, Mrs. Hinchman, Lieutenant Kenzie, John 
Hale and a Mr. Throop, of Pontiac, in a large wagon across 
Canada. The weather was stormy, the roads horrible, and the 
accommodations terrible. The journey occupied nine days of 
hard and diligent travel. In the midst of what was then called 
the long woods the wagon broke down, and, as it was near night, 
they concluded to walk on to find a house, which they found to 
be several miles distant. It was wet and the road very muddy, 
but the ladies courageously walked on. In the meantime they had 
to cross a river on a bridge composed of a single log. Some of 
the men having gone before, the man of the house came to meet 
the ladies with a torch, and so lighted their way and aroused their 
courage. Weary, wet and covered with mud, they finally reached 
the house, and were glad to find anything for a shelter, as it was 
now in November. The house was made of logs and had but one 
room for all purposes. There were seven in the family — father, 
mother and five children. Not a very flattering prospect for com- 
fortable accommodations. The family, however, sat up all night 
and dried and cleaned the garments of the travelers, and left all 
the lodging room for their guests. 


A canoe: ferry. 


''On the ninth day, just at evening, they reached the Detroit 
River. The only means of ferryage was a canoe. The idea of 
crossing in such a ferry was perfectly terrifying to Mrs. Palmer, 
and so affected her that she wept bitterly. There, however, was 
no other way to cross, and notwithstanding the canoe man was 
very much intoxicated they passed over safely. It is easier to 
imagine than to realize the perils and sufferings of such a jour- 
ney at that season of the year, and through so sparsely settled a 
country. The trip was so severe on the team that Mr. Williams 
had to remain a whole week to recruit his horses before he could 
venture to return with them to Buffalo. Having recruited his 
team he returned the way he came. 


''The other division of the passengers must have had even a 
worse time than the first division. They embarked on a schooner, 
or at least Rev. Mr. Hart and his wife, Mr. Hudson and wife. 
Miss Osmer, Rev. Mr. Welton and family did so, and wefe four 
weeks on the way. To" have been confined on a small schooner 
for that length of time must have been even worse than crossing 
Canada in nine days in an open wagon. As everything must have 
an end, so had their voyage, and they reached Detroit in safety. 
Here the missionary family remained a short time to recruit them- 
selves and then went to their mission. They obtained all their 
supplies through Thomas Palmer. During the time they were 
here a box of clothing had been left in store in the loft of Mr. 
Palmer's store for the benefit of the mission. One day one of the 
men in the store below, hearing a noise in the loft, went up to see 
what was the matter, and found Mr. Hudson in a sad predica- 
ment, for, having put on a coat that was much too small for him, 
he was not able to get it off, and had to be relieved. 

"Of all the passengers on the Walk-in-the- Water at the time 
of the disaster only one is now residing in Detroit, viz., Mrs. 
Welton, one of the last survivors, Mrs. Palmer, having died 
March 23, 1874. Mrs. Palmer to the last retained a lively remem- 
brance of the event, and of the various incidents connected with 
it. It was a joke for a good while whether she or one of the 
divines aboard was the most frightened. I am indebted to Mrs. 


Palmer for the facts above recited. She was one of the pioneers 
of Detroit, being a daughter of Judge James Witherell, one of 
the justices appointed by President Jefferson for the Territory of 
Michigan when the territorial government was first organized. 
The judge brought his family to Detroit from Vermont before the 
war of 1812, but when he saw the clouds of war gathering he 
sent his family east till the storm had passed over. She, there- 
fore, had seen the city grow up from a very small town. Having 
seen in the papers a different version of the story above recited, 
she was very anxious to have the true state of the facts published. 
'The truth of history must be vindicated.' I should here also 
state that Mrs. Palmer went east on the first downward trip of 
the Walk-in-the- Water. She went east as Miss Witherell and 
now was returning as Mrs. Palmer. Thomas Palmer having gone 
east, was married to her and they were now completing their 
bridal trip. 

"We have now, March 23, 1874, to record that since the 
foregoing was written Mrs. Palmer has deceased, having died 
quite suddenly on the 18th instant. Her husband had preceded 
her, having died in 1868. She was 78 years of age, and nearly 79. 
Thus, one by one, the pioneers of Detroit are dropping away. 


Come we now to the birch-bark barge and canoe and the 
French voyageurs — a great come-down, it must be confessed, 
from the splendid equipment of our present lake and river 
marine; and it seems as though they ought not to be included 
in the program ; yet they were the beginning, and in Cadillac's 
time almost the only marine hereabouts. They were quite plen- 
tiful in the early days, and with their companions, the wooden 
dug-outs, were indispensable, and formed quite a feature in 
the meager panorama of the river. Nearly, if not quite all, were 
equipped with a mast and sale that could be used at pleasure, 
the sail consisting usually of a blanket. There were no regular 
sailboats, as we have them now. The people here and thpse living 
on the borders of the river, up and down, on either side, did not 
seem to appreciate the pleasure and satisfaction that a 5ail on the 
surface would afford them. How much it is enjoyed and indulged 
in now, all know. 

It seems a queer thing, too, in the light of the present, that 
the young men of the city at that time were not fond of sailing or 


a sailboat, as are the young people, and some of the old, for that 
matter, now. As far as my experience goes, I can safely say that 
I never went sailing on the river until after I was 25 years of 
age, nor did any of the youth of my acquaintance. Such a pastime 
was never indulged in. A boat club (and the first) was formed 
in the early forties, composed of the principal young men of the 
city, such as A. E. Brush, Dr. J. H. Farnsworth, Barney and 
Alex. Campau and others. (Alex. Campau is the only survivor.) 
An exhaustive and interesting account of this club was given in 
the Detroit Free Press some two or three years ago. 

Henry R. Schoolcraft, in his "Travels," gives a description 
of the birch-bark barge and canoe. He says : ''Those of the 
largest size, such as are commonly employed in the fur trade of 
the north, are thirty-five feet in length and six feet in width at 
the widest part, tapering gradually towards the bow and stern, 
which are brought to a. wedge-like point and turned over from the 
extremities towards the center, so as to resemble in some degree 
the head of a violin. They are constructed of the bark of the 
white birch tree, which is peeled from the tree in large sheets and 
bent over a slender frame of cedar ribs confined by gunwales, 
which are kept apart by slender bars of the same wood. Around 
these the bark is sewed by the slender and flexible roots of the 
young spruce tree, called "wattap," and also where the pieces of 
bark join, so that the gunwales resemble the rim of an Indian 
basket. The joinings are afterwards luted and rendered water- 
tight by a coat of pine pitch, which, after it has been thickened by 
boiling, is used under the name of "gum." In the third cross-bar 
from the front, an aperture is cuit for a mast, so that a sail can 
be employed when the wind proves favorable. Seats for those 
who paddle are made by suspending a strip of board with cords 
from the gunwales in such a manner that they do not press 
against the sides of the canoe. For propelling them the natives 
use the cedar paddle, with a light and slender blade. They are 
steered with a large paddle having a long handle and broad blade. 
A canoe of this size, when employed in the fur trade, is calculated 
to carry sixty packages of skins weighing ninety pounds each and 
provisions to the amount of 1,000 pounds. This is exclusive o^ 
the weight of eight men, each of whom is allowed to put on board 
a bag or knapsack of about forty pounds weight. Such a canoe 
thus loaded is paddled by eight men, at the rate of four miles per 
hour, in a perfect calm." 



The French voyageurs were quite numerous here up to about 
1837. They manned the "Mackinac barge" and the canoes of the 
fur traders, and were also ready for service to anyone needing 
them. They were quite a feature on the river at that time, and, 
of course, must have been the same from Cadillac's day. I remem- 
ber them quite well, and have joften been one of a party propelled 
by them in their birch-bark canoes and barges. I copy from the 
late Bela Hubbard's admirable book, "Memories of a Half Cen- 
tury," a vivid and lifelike description of them, as' I saw and knew 
them : "A wild-looking set were these rangers of the woods and 
waters. The weirdness was often enhanced by the dash of Indian 
blood. Picturesque, too, they were, in their red flannel or leather 
shirts (buckskin), and cloth caps of some gay color finished to a 
point, which hung over on one side, with a depending tassel. 

"They had a genuine love for this occupation, and muscles 
that seemed never to tire at the paddle and oar. From dawn to 
sunset, with only a short interval, and sometimes no mid-day rest, 
they would ply these implements, causing the canoe or barge to 
fly through the water like a thing of life; but often contending 
against head winds and gaining but little progress in a day's 
rowing. Then in came the oars, and down lopped each mother's 
son, and in a few minutes was in the enjoyment of a sound snooze. 
The morning and evening meal consisted almost invariably, and 
from choice, of bouillon — a soup made from beans, peas or hulled 
corn, with a piece of pork boiled in it, and hard bread, or seabis- 
cuit. To the northern voyageurs, rations were generally served 
out of one quart of hulled corn, and a half a pint of bear's grease, 
or oil, this being the daily and only food. 

"The traveler, Henry, says (1776) : *A bushel of hulled corn, 
with two pounds of fat, is reckoned to be a month's subsistence. 
No other allowance is made, of any kind, not even salt, and bread 
4s never thought of. The difficulty which would belong to an 
attempt to reconcile any other men than Canadians to this fare 
seems to secure to them and their employers the monopoly of the 
fur trade.' 

"As late as the last century, Detroit was one of the principal 
depots for provisions, and fitting out for the Indian trade; and 
here, particularly, the corn was prepared, hulled, boiled, and mixed 
with fat, for the voyageurs. 


''After supper, pipes were lighted, and, seated on logs or 
squatted around the campfire, they chatted until bedtime. This 
came early and required little preparation. To wrap a blanket 
around the person, placing coat or shoe-packs beneath the head, 
and a little greasy pillow — the only bed that was carried — consti- 
tuted the whole ceremony ; and speedy and sound was the sleep 
beneath the watchful stars. 

"The labor of the oar was relieved by songs, to which each 
stroke kept time, with added vigor. The poet Moore has well 
caught the spirit of the voyageurs' melodious chant in his 'Boat 
Song Upon the St. Lawrence.' But to appreciate its wild sweet- 
ness one should listen to the melody, as it wings its way over the 
waters, softened by distance, yet every measured cadence falling 
distinct upon the ear. These songs are usually half ballad or 
ditty, and love is of course the main theme. They express the 
natural feelings of a people little governed by the restraints of 

He gives two specimens of these songs. The words wer.^ 
sung by one of the party and all joined in the chorus. (The songs 
are too long to copy here; besides they are given in French, and 
if rendered into English would lose their character.) "These boat 
songs," he goes on to say, "were often heard upon our river, and 
were very plaintive. In the calm of the evening, when sounds are 
heard with greater distinctness, and the harsher notes are toned 
down and absorbed in the prevailing melody, it was sweet, from 
my vine-mantled porch, to hear the blended sounds of songs 
and oar, 

'By distance mellowed, o'er the waters sweep.' 

"To my half dreaming fancy, at such times, they have 
assumed a poetic, if not a supernatural, character, wafting me into 
elfland on wings of linked sweetness. 

"Some spirit of the air has waked the string; 

'Tis now a seraph bold, with touch of fire, 
And now the brush of fancy's frolic wing." 

"At other times these sounds harmonize with scenes that are 
still more inspiring. Seldom have I witnessed a more animated 
spectacle than that of a large canoe or barge belonging to the 
Hudson Bay Co., manned by a dozen voyageurs — the company's 


agent seated in the center — propelled with magic velocity, as if 
instinct with life, every paddle keeping time to the chorus that 
rang far and wide over the waters. But times have changed, and 
with them have passed from our midst the voyageur and his song. 
French gayety is rapidly ebbing into more sober channels. 

'*As I call up these memories with the same noble river in my 
view, I listen in vain for the melodies which were once the pre- 
lude to many joyous hours of early manhood. But instead, my 
ear is larumed by the shriek of the steam whistle, and the labor- 
ious snort of the propeller. All announce that on these shores and 
waters the age of the practical, hard-working, money-getting 
Yankee is upon us ; and that the careless, laughter-loving French- 
man's day is over," 

I have myself often listened with delight to these songs as 
they floated over the water, in the calm, still summer nights, and 
my emotions in that regard have been so aptly portrayed by Mr. 
Hubbard that I could not resist the temptation of copying from 
his book as freely as I have done. 

When Governor Cass accompanied Colonel Thomas L. 
McKinney and party to Lake Superior, he provided, or had con- 
structed, for their use a birch-bark canoe, or state-barge, of 
unusual dimensions. I forget the size, but it was sufficiently large 
to accommodate the entire party, with their provisions and other 

The party consisted, I think, of Governor Cass, Colonel 
McKinney, United States Commissioner Major "Robert Forsyth, 
and C. C. Trowbridge, secretary, besides six French voyageurs. 
The details of the expedition are related in full by Colonel McKin- 
ney, in a book published about that time, a copy of which is in 
the Detroit public library, and which is very interesting. 

The reason why I allude to this event that happened a year 
before my arrival in Detroit, is that I have often seen this barge, 
and as often enjoyed a ride in it up and down the river, as the 
governor retained it until his departure for Washington as secre- 
tary of war. What became of it thereafter I do not know. 


There were birch-bark canoes, and birch-bark canoes in 
plenty, on these waters at that time, but this birch-bark barge 
eclipsed them all. The stern was amply provided with cushions, 


and had a canopy, or awning, overhead for protection from the 
sun. It was usually moored at the foot of the river bank, in front 
of the governor's residence, in charge of the voyageurs, ever ready 
for an excursion up or down the river or up into Lake St. Clair. 
This barge was a feature on the river in those days — more so 
than it would be now, with all the various attractions that it pre- 
sents, though no doubt it would cause some stir, even at this day, 
with its gay flags, colored awnings, and the eight voyageurs, clad 
in their picturesque costumes, with their crimson-bladed paddles, 
keeping time to the charming refrain of some French chant, such 
as ''Mai Brooke," etc., which all old residents will remember. 
These excursions were particularly enjoyable of a moonlight 
night, as can readily be imagined. 


The hardy friar who accompanied Sieur de la Salle in his 
expedition, gives this description of the vessel in his published 
book : " 

"It was a two-masted schooner, but of a fashion peculiar to 
that day, having double decks and a high poop projecting over 
the stern, where the main cabin was located, and over this rose 
another and smaller cabin, doubtless for the use of the commander. 
The stern was thus carried up broad and straight. Bulwarks-pro- 
tected the quarterdeck. She bore on her prow a huge figure, skill- 
fully carved, in imitation of an heraldic monster — the arms of 
Count Frontenac — and above it an eagle." 

This in the representation (which appears in the volume) 
adorns the top of the stern. The ship carried five small cannon, 
three of which were brass and three harquebusses, and the remain- 
der of the ship had the same ornaments as men-of-war used to 

''It might have been called," adds Henepin, "a moving fort- 
ress." In fine, it "was well equipped with sails, masts, and all 
other things necessary for navigation." 

After describing the natural beauty of the region lying 
between Lakes Erie and Huron, Fr. La Salle adds : "They who 
shall have the happiness some day to inhabit this pleasant and 
fertile country will remember their obligation to those who first 
showed them the way." 


I have received a letter from a lady in St. Clair city (Mrs 
Anna Brakeman), under date of March lO, in which she says: 
"I have read with much interest your articles in the St. Clair 
Republican, copied from the Detroit Free Press, in relation to 
the early marine. While reading them I was reminded of a few 
items my grandfather, the late Captain William Brown, of Cothel- 
ville, related to me many years ago. He was born in Detroit in 
1784. When 18 years of age (1802) he sailed in the employ of 
Judge James Abbott, of Detroit. I cannot recall the name of the 
boat he commanded, but it was a sail vessel, and" went down as 
far as Tonawanda, N. Y. There they loaded with salt for Detroit. 
I presume it was Syracuse and Onondaga salt. That article was 
very scarce in this section at that time. After he was 21 years of 
age he cradled wheat all one day for a farmer in Cothelville for 
two quarts of salt." 

The lady also relates : "My greatgrandfather, the late Cap- 
tain William Thorn, a native of Providence, R. I., who died in 
Port Huron in 1842, sailed on the lakes in a very early day ; was 
captain of a sail vessel owned by a Mr. Donsman, and I have been 
told he took the first boat through the St. Mary's River. 

On one occasion his vessel was windbound, near an island at 
the mouth of that river. He went ashore on the island arid found 
there a frying pan, supposed to have been left by the Indians. He 
then named it 'Frying Pan Island,' the name it still retains. On 
another occasion his vessel lay at anchor in a bay in Lake Erie. 
They were entirely out of provisions, excepting flour, which they 
stirred in a pot of boiling water, calling it pudding. He then 
named the bay 'Pudding Bay.' At the present time it is known as 


He was so well acquainted with the route at the head of Lake 
Huron arid the Straits of Mackinac that he was selected a& pilot 
of the American fleet that went to recapture Mackinac Island 
from the British after the War of 1812. He was lame at the 
time from a dislocated hip; could not climb a mast, but sat in a 
chair securely lashed to the seat, and was hoisted with pulleys to 
the masthead. As I have been told, it was a very foggy morning, 
but, understanding the route so well, he took tl]e fleet in unawares 
to the British. 



She goes on to narrate further in regard to the early lake and 
river marine, and says : 

"By old papers I find that some time prior to the year 1830 
there was a sail vessel named the Louisa Jenkins, which brought 
goods, that came to Buffalo from New Ygrk, for the firm of Peter 
Verhoeff & Co., Detroit. George Jasperson and my father, the 
late Peter F. Brakeman, were members of the firm. The same 
year the brig Wellington and the schooner Lady Goderich 
brought goods from Montreal for the firm. Messrs. Verhoeff and 
Jasperson had previous to this opened a store at Sandwich, Can- 
ada. Mr. Brakeman had charge of the store at Point du Chien. 
The goods were brought to him from Detroit by small sail ves- 
sels, row boats and French batteaux. The names of the sail ves- 
sels were the Nation's Guest, Lark, Happy Return, and a sloop 
called The Forester, commanded by Captain Samuel Hayward. 
These boats carried grain, furs, lumber and shingles from Point 
du Chien to Detroit for the firm. 

The letter also says : "June 20, 1832, P. F. Brakeman ship- 
ped from Point du Chien, on the schooner Pilot, Captain Charles 
Cauchois (Coshnay), 100 bushels white flint corn to Mackinac for 
Robert Stuart, agent of the American Fur Co. 

"Lewis J. Brakeman, brother of the late Peter F. Brakeman, 
with four other men — Roswell Newhall, brother of the late Cap- 
tain Clark Newhall, of Port Huron ; Francis Lanzon, uncle of 
David and Daniel Cottrell,* of Cottrellville ; a Captain Stevens and a 
Mr. Roe, on their way from Detroit to Point du Chien, on the 
schooner Emily, were shipwrecked on Lake St. Clair December 13, 
1830. L. J. Brakeman had purchased the boat and was bringing 
her to lay up for the winter at Point du Chien, now Algonac. 
Altogether there were seven men on the boat and a boy, Jemmie 
Burns, whose homes were on the river. They had taken passage 
on her from Detroit, that being the only way of conveyance for 
them at the time. Each had some goods and stores with him. It 
was a very cold and severe time. The boat jumped her mast, but 
did not sink immediately. The story, as told by the boy, Jemmie 
Burns, was that as soon as the accident occurred each one put 
forth his best efforts, which would naturally be the case at such a 
time, to save lives and goods. The schooner had a yawl boat of 
sufficient size to carry all the men who were on board, with their 


gx)ods. One Bela Knapp and brother, with the boy Burns, got 
themselves in readiness a Httle sooner than the other five, and 
were hurrying to the yawl. The men begged them to wait until 
they could get ready. They paid no attention to their pleadings, 
but entered the yawl, and Bela Knapp, who had a new broadax 
with him, cut the rope, which loosened them from the schooner, 
and they and their goods were all saved. The blame all rested on 
Bela Knapp, as his brother and the boy pleaded with him to wait 
until they were all in. We can better imagine than describe the 
feelings of those who were left behind to perish with the cold. 
The schooner dashed about for some time. Peter F. Brakeman, 
then residing at Point du Chien, hearing of the trouble, procured 
a large yawl and took with him several men, going to the place 
of the accident, but when they arrived there the sea was rolling 
so high they could not reach the wreck, but could very distinctly 
see the men all sitting near each other at the bow — dead, frozen — 
the stern being under water. Mr. Brakeman recognized his 
brother sitting, holding his head in his hands, his elbow resting 
on his knees. They then rowed for shore, built up a fire, spending 
the night there, thinking perhaps the sea would calm down, and 
they be able to procure the bodies in the morning. But when day 
dawned nothing could be seen of the boat. She sank during the 
night. L. J. Brakeman's body was found the next August by an 
Indian, having been washed ashore on Squirrel Island. The 
remains were buried in the old Point du Chien cemetery." 

I remember the William Brown the lady mentions. He lived 
near Cothelville (St. Clair River). I once accompanied my uncle, 
Thomas Palmer, on a trip to St. Clair, in a sleigh, along shore, in 
the winter of 1829, and we accepted his hospitality for one night. 
He was a gentleman of the old school, sported his ruffled shirt, 
etc., the same as did his neighbors along the river. Colonel Cot- 
trell, grandfather of Hon. E. W. Cottrell, Captain John Clark, 
Colonel Westbrook and Mr. Smith, the "Father of Algonac." I 
also remember Captain William Thorn. He was the brother or 
nephew of Mr. John Thorn, who platted the greater part of the 
village of Black River, now the city of Port Huron. He was 
rather a wild boy in the early days — they used to call him '*Cap- 
tain of St. Clair River." I have often heard my uncles, Thomas 
and George Palmer, relate the mad pranks the lawyers of Detroit, 
Mr. Thorn, and the members of the Black River bar would indulge 


in every time the court was in session at St. Clair, (the latter being 
the county seat then). Conspicuous among the Detroit lawyers, 
they used to say, were Counselor O'Keefe, Mr. A. D. Frazier, B. 
F. H. Witherell, etc., though Witherell, not being a drinking man, 
was rather a "looker-on in Venice" than otherwise. 

I also remember quite well the Mr. George Jasperson men- 
tioned. He was a highly educated Swede. When I knew him he 
was a retired merchant, and lived in quite a pretentious house, 
surrounded with two or three acres of ground on the corner 
of Russell and Catherine Streets, nearly opposite the present 
Arbeiter Hall, which was away out in the country then. He had 
two promising sons, Henry and Lewis, schoolmates of mine. He 
also had a beautiful daughter, who became the wife of Alex. 
Goodell, a partner of Henry M. Campbell, father of Judge Camp- 
bell. Campbell and Goodell carried on the grocery business at 
the northwest corner of Jefferson Avenue and Bates Street. 
What became of the Jaspersons, I do not know. 



THE following references to slaves in Michigan have been 
extracted from an able paper on the subject, prepared 
and published many years ago by the late James A. Girar- 
din, and also from other sources, and from personal recollec- 
tions : - 

In the olden time the city of Detroit and vicinity had slaves 
among its inhabitants. The old citizens generally purchased them 
from marauding bands of Indians, who had captured the negro 
slaves in their war depredations on plantations. Many were thus 
brought from Virginia, New York and Indiana, and sold to the 
inhabitants of Detroit, sometimes for nominal prices. Among 
our old citizens who were slaveholders in the olden times were the 
late Major Joseph Campau, George McDougall, James Duperop 
Baby, Abbott, Finchley and several others. The negro slaves 
were well treated by their owners. Many of these poor captives 
when sold and released were at once well taken care of by our 
ancient inhabitants. Sometimes the price of a slave was regulated 
according to his intrinsic value, but the price was quite high for 
those days. For instance, a negro boy named Frank, aged 12 
years, the property of the late Philip Jonciere, of Belle Fontaine, 
now Springwells, was sold on the 22d of October, 1793, by Wil- 
liam Roe, acting auctioneer, to the late Hon. James Duperon 
Baby, for the sum of £213, New York currency, equal to $532.50 
of our money. Mr. Baby being the highest bidder, Frank was 
adjudged to him for the benefit of Mr. Jonciere's estate. In the 
records of baptism of Ste. Anne's church, we find several persons 
of color recorded as having received the sacrament of baptism, 
and, in the absence of family names, we learn that the name of 
''Margaret," for instance, a negress ''unknown," would be entered. 
Several instances of this kind are entered in the old records. 



During the administration of the governor and judges of the 
territory of Michigan, several negroes received donation lots. 
Among them was a well known negro named "Pompey," the prop- 
erty of the late James Abbott. As a class the negroes were 
esteemed by our early time population. Many of them could 
speak the French language fluently, especially those living with 
their French masters. But little cruelty was practiced by their 
owners. There were no Wendell Phillips nor Lloyd Garrisons 
nor any ''higher law doctrine" expounded in those days to disturb 
the mind of the slave or the slaveholder. Everyone lived in 
Arcadian simplicity and contentment. The negro was satisfied 
with his position, and rendered valuable services to his master, 
and was ever ready to help him against the treacherous Indians. 
During the war of 1812, ^several of them accompanied thei-r mas- 
ters to the battlefield and mateMally helped them and the troops. 


By an ordinance enacted by congress, dated July 3, 1787, 
entitled "an act for the government of the territory of the United 
States northwest of the Ohio River," there was a clause in Article 
VI, saying that "there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary 
servitude in the said territory, otherwise than in the punishment 
of crimes." This was a safeguard by congress to prevent the 
extension of slavery northwest of the Ohio River. Notwithstand- 
ing this wise provision, our ancestors paid little attention to it, 
for whenever a spruce young negro was brought by the Indians 
he was sure to find a purchaser at a reasonable price. Most every 
prominent man in those days had a slave or two, especially mer- 
chants trading with the Indians. Detroit and vicinity was a 
heaven to the slave compared to the southern states, although 
slavery was carried on on a moderate scale here, there being no 
cotton or rice fields to employ them in, their labor being on the 
plantations near Detroit, or at their master's houses. The master 
once attached to his "Sambo," a great price would have to be paid 
to buy him. 

The late Judge May had a slave woman, who had come to 
his hands for a debt owed to him by one Granchin. This faithful 
slave served the judge some twenty-five years. Mr. Joseph Cam- 
pau, an extensive trader in those days, had as many as ten slaves 


at different times. Among them was a young negro named Crow, 
quite a favorite of Mr. Campau, who had him dressed in scarlet, 
a decided contrast to his color. This negro, to the amusement of 
the inhabitants of the old town, used to ascend old Ste. Anne's 
church steeple and there perform some of his gymnastic tricks. 
He was supple and elastic as a circus rider. He had been pur- 
chased at Montreal by Mr. Campau. He was afterwards drowned 
from one of Mr. Campau's batteaux. 

''Hannah," another intelligent colored woman, was purchased 
at Montreal by Mr. Campau. This faithful slave^ after serving 
him many years, married ''Patterson," also a slave. "MuUett," 
one of the most honest and faithful of all slaves, also belonged to 
Mr. Campau, who very often employed him as confidential clerk. 
This slave died not many years ago, at a very advanced age, 
respected and esteemed for his great integrity and fidelity. The 
slave "Tetro" was among the favorites of Major Campau. He, 
too, was a faithful and as honest as the day was long. The late 
General John R. Williams also possessed a slave named "Hector." 
He, too, was faithful and trustworthy. 

In the year 183 1 Daniel Leroy, Olmstead Chamberlain and 
Gideon O. Wittemore sold to Colonel Mack, General Williams 
and Major Campau the newspaper called the Oakland Chronicle, 
the office being transferred here, and the well known slave "Hec- 
tor" was placed in charge of it. When the late Colonel Sheldon 
McKnight entered to take possession he was fiercely resisted by 
"Hector," who showed fight and the colonel (I heard the colonel 
relate this circumstance) had to retreat. This paper was after- 
wards merged into the Detroit Gazette, and afterwards into the 
Detroit Free Press. 

de:ath :^or ivARcrcNv. 

Ann Wyley, a former slave, suffered the extreme penalty of 
the law for having stolen six guineas from the firm of Abbott & 
Finchley. She was sentenced to death by a justice of the peace, 
and buried on the spot where Ste. Anne's Church formerly stood 
on Larned Street, which'ground was used as a place of burial in 
early days. When in 18 17 the foundations of the church were 
being excavated, the body of this unfortunate woman was found 
face downward. It was supposed that she was in a trance at the 
time of her burial. This incident Mr. Girardin says was related 


to him by an old lady some years ago, who knew all about the 
facts, and who has since died. 

The late Joseph Drouillard, of Petite Cote, Canada, had two 
daughters. Upon the marriage of one of them to the grandfather 
of Mr. Girardin she received a farm ; the other received two slaves 
as her marriage portion. This goes to show that the negro in 
those days was considered a chattel. Several of our French farm- 
ers on both sides of the river had one or more of them. 

Many anecdotes can be related of Africa's sons among our 
ancestors. They as a class were well cared for and educated by 
their kind masters. 

The question may be asked, "How did slavery die out here?" 
The owners of slaves, after having received their services for a 
number of years, would generally liberate them, or sometimes 
sell them to parties outside of the territory. When the celebrated 
ordinance of 1787 was extended over the north-west, Michigan 
assumed for the first time the first grade of government, and the 
laws were put in force ; no more slaves were afterward allowed 
to be brought into the territory, and slavery was known no more 


The following is a copy of a deed furnished by W. W. 
Backus, of Detroit. 

''Know all men by these presents, that I, James May, of 
Detroit, for and in consideration of the sum of forty-five pounds, 
New York currency, to me in hand paid by John Askin, Esq., of 
Detroit, the receipt whereof I do hereby acknowledge, to be fully 
satisfied and paid,, have sold and delivered, and by these presents, 
in plain and open market, do bargain, sell and deliver unto the 
hands of said John Askin, Esq., his heirs, executors, administra- 
tors and assigns forever ; arfd I, the said James May, for my heirs, 
executors and assigns, against all manner of person or persons, 
shall and will warrant and forever defend by these presents. 

"In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal 
this 19th day of October, A. D., 1794. , 

(Signed) "James May." 

In the presence of 

Robert Stevens. 


''I do hereby make over my whole right, title and interest in 
the above mentioned negro man, Pompey, to Mr. James Donald- 
son, of this place, for the sum of fifty pounds, New York cur- 
rency, the receipt of which I do hereby acknowledge, as witness 
my hand and seal at Detroit this 3d day of January, 1795. 

(Signed) ''John Askin.'' 

Witness : 

"WiivUAM McCuntock/' 

Through the counties of Wayne, Monroe, Macomb and Oak- 
land, the slave existed. True, he bore the same relation, almost, 
to his master, as the white laborer of the south did to his master 
previous to 1861. Yet he was a slave and liable to be bought 
and sold. 

An extensive merchant of Sandwich, Canada, and father of 
the late Mrs. Judge John McDonell, of this city, owned two or 
three slaves in the early days. Mrs. McDonell had in her posses- 
sion her father's account books and papers, and she has often 
shown the former to me, in which there appear accounts of the 
expenses of each slave ; also an accurate description of them. 
Their names I have forgotten. She remembered them all, well, 
and testified to their fidelity quite heartily. 



THE "Toledo War" has been often ventilated in the public 
press and through other sources, but there are two or 
three amusing incidents connected with it that may be news 
to some people. Although quite young, I was an eye-witness 
of the feverish excitement that ruled our little community, and of 
the marshaling of troops in our streets with the beating of drums, 
flaunting banners and all the "pomp and circumstance of glorious 
war" — all eager to be led by our plucky governor, Stevens T. 
Mason, to chastise Ohio. It was related at the time that Major 
Stickney, of Toledo, and his raft of boys were the only ones they 
met there that really did any real fighting. 

An instance is related concerning Major Stickney 's arrest, 
which caused great amusement at the time. He and his family 
fought valiantly, but were overpowered by numbers. He was 
requested to mount a horse, but flatly refused. He was put on 
by force, but would not sit there. Finally two men -were detailed 
to walk beside him and hold his legs, while a third led the horse. 
After making half the distance in this way, they tied his legs 
under the horse, and thus got him to jail in Monroe. 


Major Stickney's raft of boys were named One Stickney. 
Two Stickney, Three Stickney, and so on. In an attempt to arrest 
one of the boys, "Two Stickney," a scuffle ensued, in which the 
officer was stabbed with a knife, but the wound did not prove dan- 
gerous, and it is believed this was the only blood shed during the 
war. The officer let go his hold, and Stickney fled into Ohio. On 
another occasion an officer attempted to arrest a man in the night 
time. The man had but a moment's warning, and sought safety 
in flight. He reached the Maumee River, threw himself on a saw- 
log, and, with hands and feet paddled himself to safety to the 
other shore. 


A very pious man was elected as justice of the peace and fled 
to the woods, where he Hved for many days in a sugar shanty. It 
'W^as currently reported and generally believed by the Ohio 
partisans., that a miracle had been wrought in his behalf — that 
/'robin red-breasts" brought him his daily food and drink. *The 
belief in this miracle strengthened the cause of Ohio in many 
quarters very materially. 

BLOOD ON the: moon. 

The Ohio troops, numebring about 600 officers and men, fully 
armed and equipped, went into camp at old Fort Miami, and there 
awaited the orders of the governor. Governor Mason, with Gen- 
eral Joseph E. Brown, arrived at Toledo with a force, under the 
immediate command of the latter, variously estimated at from 800 
to 1,200 men, fully armed and equipped, and went into camp. 
Then ''blood was on the moon," but the troops did not meet in 
hostile array, owing to the timely intervention of two commis- 
sioners sent by the President of the United States to use, their per- 
sonal influence to stop all warlike demonstrations. The commis- 
sioners were men of eminence in the nation — Hon. Richard Rush, 
of Philadelphia, and Colonel Howard, of Baltimore. Hon. Elisha 
Whittlesey, of Ohio, accompanied the commissioners as a volun- 
tary peace-maker. 

Governor Lucas, of Ohio, believed things were all amicable, 
and thought he could run and re-mark the line between the two 
states without serious opposition from the authorities of Michigan, 
whereupon he disbanded the military he had collected, and 
directed his commissioners to proceed with the work. S. Dodge, 
an engineer on the Ohio canal, had been engaged as surveyor to 
run the line. But Governor Mason was not of the same mind, 
for it appears from the report of the Ohio commissioners to their 
governor, that "On Saturday evening. May 25, 1835, after having 
performed a laborious day's service, your commissioners, together 
with their party, retired to the distance of about one mile south of 
the line, in Henry County, within the state of Ohio, where we 
thought to have rested quietly, and peaceably enjoy the blessings 
of the Sabbath ; and especially, not being engaged on the line, we 
thought ourselves secure for the day. But contrary to our expec- 
tations, at about 12 o'clock in the day an armed force of about 
fifty or sixty men hove in sight, within musket shot of us, all 


mounted upon horses, well armed with muskets and under the 
command of General Brown, of Michigan. Your commissioners, 
observing the great superiority of force, having but five armed 
men among us, who had been employed to keep a lookout and as 
hunters for the party, thought it prudent to retire, and so advised 
our men. Your commissioners, with several of their party, made 
good their retreat to this place ( Perry sburg, O.). But, sir, we 
are under the painful necessity of relating that nine of our men, 
who did not leave the ground in time, after being fired upon by 
th€ enemy from thirty to fifty shots, were taken prisoners and car- 
ried away into the interior of the country. We are happy to learn 
that our party did not fire a gun in turn, and that no one was 
wounded, although a ball from the enemy passed through the 
clothing of one of our men." 

These prisoners were taken to Tecumseh. They were there 
brought before a magistrate for examination. They denied juris- 
diction ; six entered bail for their appearance, two were released 
as not guilty, and one, Mr. Fletcher — refused to give bail and was 
retained in custody. 

Governor Mason was at Tecumseh at the time with General 
Brown. The former in an interview with Fletcher, advised him 
to give bail, but he firmly and decidedly declined to do so. 

Governor Mason was very anxious that the unpleasantness 
and difficulties might be settled without any further trouble. Gen- 
eral Brown did not have much to say on the subject, but it was 
believed at the time that he did not desire to have the question 
amicably settled, but that he secretly wished for a collision 
between the two states, that he might have the opportunity to dis- 
tinguish himself, and in a conversation between Fletcher and Gen- 
eral Brown, in regard to the arrest of the former and party, the 
general, in response to the sheriff's regret that the citizens of Ohio 
were fired upon, replied that "it was the best thing that was done ; 
that he did not hesitate to say he gave the order to fire." He also 
mentioned giving orders to the sheriff how to proceed ; and the 
latter admitted that he acted under Brown's direction. 

''B. F. Stickney, of Toledo, although one of the party 
engaged in running the line, was confined in the Monroe County 
jail for, as he says, "the monstrous crime of having acted as the 
judge of an election within the state of Ohio." 

Mr. N. Goodsell, a citizen of Toledo, was also abducted and 
taken to Monroe. He was obliged to ride on a horse without a 

THE T0LE:D0 war. Ill 

bridle ; the horse, being urged from the rear, became unmanage- 
able and ran away with him until he freed himself by jumping, 
and got to Monroe on foot, where he was detained for a day or 
two, secured bail and returned to Toledo. On the way to Monroe 
Mr. Goodsell and the party having him in custody were joined by 
another party having in custody a Mr. McKay, of Toledo. He 
was mounted with his feet tied under the horse. 


The Ohio commissioners, with their surveyor, again com- 
menced to run the line, previous to which General Brown sent 
scouts through the woods to watch their movements and to report 
when they found them running the line. When the surveying party 
had got within the county of Lenawee, the under sheriff of that 
county, with a warrant and a posse, made his appearance to arrest 
them. He arrested a portion of the party ; but the commissioners 
and Surveyor Dodge made their escape, and they ran with all their 
might until they got off the disputed territory. They reached 
Pennsylvania next day with clothes badly torn ; some of them hat- 
less, with terrible looking heads, and all with stomachs very much 
collapsed. They reported that they had been attacked by a large 
force of Michigan militia under General Brown, and had been 
fired upon and had just escaped with their lives; and that they 
expected that the remainder of their party were either killed or 
taken prisoners. 


In regard to the arrest of "Two Stickney" by Joseph Wood, 
deputy sheriff of Monroe County, Michigan, and of the knifing of 
this officer, some further particulars are given herewith. Lyman 
Hurd, constable, of the same county, testifies that he and Woo'd, 
the latter having in his hands a warrant against "Two Stickney," 
went into the tavern of J. B. Davis, in Toledo, where they found 
Stickney and George McKay, against whom Hurd also had a war- 
rant. Hurd also testified that he informed the latter that he had a 
warrant against him, and attempted to arrest him. McKay sprang 
and caught a chair and told him if he attempted that game he 
would split him down. Hurd also said McKay had a drawn dirk 
in his hand, and he did not arrest him, presumably on that 
account. While Hurd was attempting to arrest McKay, Wood 
attempted to arrest Stickne}'. They had quite a scuffle and during 


the melee Stickney drew a dirk out of the left side of Wood and 
exclaimed, "There, damn you, you have got it now." Wood let 
go of Stickney and put his hand upon his left side, apparently in 
distress, and went to the door. Those present asked Wood if he 
was stabbed. He said, very faintly, that he was. A doctor was 
called, on Wood's request, who on examination of the wound, 
thought the latter's recovery very doubtful. But he did recover^ 
and as I before said, this was the only real fight and the only 
blood shed on this memorable occasion. 

For some of the foregoing particulars I am indebted to the 
History of the Maumee Valley, by H. T. Knapp, Toledo, 1872. 



I WILL not say very much in regard to the Patriot war of 
1838-39, as it has been dilated uponso often that the story 
must be famihar to most people. 

I was on Jones' dock, this side of the river, directly in the 
rear of the old board of trade building on W^oodbridge Street, 
shortly after the Patriots crossed the river on the steamboat 
Thames. The noise of the exploding musketry, in the short bat- 
tle between the Canadian militia and the Patriots, in the Baby 
orchard, woke me early. I surmised what it meant, and, on reach- 
ing the dock, I saw the steamer in flames, at the dock in Windsor, 
a short distance above the present ferry dock, and the barracks, a 
large yellow building, just this side of the steamer, was also 

I think the Patriots, who got badly worsted in their short 
scrimmage with the "Cannucks'' in the orchard, set them on fire 
in their hurry-scurry to get away up the river ; part of them took 
to the Canadian woods. Soon a battery o-f British artillery, from 
Maiden I think, came tearing up the river road and pushed on in 
hot pursuit of the fugitives, but they did not succeed in capturing 
any of the retreating Patriots. 


In the meantime those who had taken the river road reached 
in safety the two old windmills that stood on the bank of the river, 
just above the present site of Walkerville. They availed them-, 
selves of six or eight canoes, that luckily appeared in sight, drawn 
up on the river bank, and pushed off for the American shore. 
Some of them met with disaster before reaching *'home." The 
artillery gained the further mill just about the time the fugitives 
reached the middle of the river, and from that point they opened 
upon them with grape and caninster. We could plainly see the 


puffs of smoke at every discharge. They did not do much dam- 
age, only wounding three or four slightly. Part got across the 
river safely, the remainder, including the wounded, were taken 
prisoners by a detachment of the Brady Guards, Captain Rowland, 
and under the immediate personal command of General Hugh 
Brady, who were on the steamer Erie, patroling the river in the 
interests of the neutrality laws. Those who escaped and remained 
in Canada got back safely after awhile. 

During this time the little steamboat Erie, got away from the 
dock between Woodward' Avenue and Griswold Street, where it 
was waiting the Brady Guards to get aboard. Atwater Street in 
that vicinity, and indeed the entire river front, was filled with a 
howling mob, who deeply sympathized with the Patriots. When 
the Brady Guards appeared, headed by Captain Rowland and 
General Brady, a howl of derision went up from the crowd. But 
General Brady, tall and as straight as a young poplar, Rowland, 
whose black eyes snapped ominously behind his gold-rimmed 
glasses, and the boys behind them with their muskets, paid no 
more attention to the howlers than they would have done to a 
swarm of buzzing flies, but parted the crowd to the right and left 
and boarded the steamer without molestation. 


The reason I surmised that the musket-firing on that Decem- 
ber morning meant trouble was that a short time previous to the 
crossing, I was invited by one of the initiated to an informal 
meeting of the members of a "Hunter's Lodge," so named by the 
Patriots. Thes gatherings were held in a building in the Brush 
garden. The late William Adair ran the garden at that time. 
Wliile at this meeting, I gleaned from the conversation going on 
around me, that in the near future, a demonstration would be 
made against our neighbors on the other side of the river, but the 
time and place I could not ascertain. It was at this meeting that 
I first saw and became acquainted with the late John Harmon, 
who was an ardent Patriot, and the acquaintance ripened into a 
warm friendship that lasted until his death. At this meeting I 
also saw Colonel E. J. Roberts, Dr. Theler and others. 

I was an eye witness of all the incidents referred to in this 



One of the Patriots that ventured across the river and took 
an active part in the affair was a clerk in the office of A. E. 
Hathon, city surveyor, a son of Erin (Hogan I think was his 
name). He got back to this side safe and without a scratch. He 
related with much amusement some of the details of the expedi- 
tion. He said that after they had marched off the steamboat on 
the Canada side. ''Some d — d rascal set it on fire," and there 
they were, "Sink or Swim." They proceeded down the river road 
to the barracks, a large frame building occupied by a company or 
detachment of Canadian soldiers. They fired on the advancing 
Patriots without damage. The fire was returned with a charge by 
the Patriots, on the barracks. The enemy left in short order, and 
retired to the Baby orchard, where the Patriots followed them, 
and where the latter got worsted and were scattered, some being 
taken prisoners on the spot, others fleeing for their lives up the 
river road towards what is now Walkerville, and still others took 
to the fields and roads leading into the country, all pursued by 
the victorious Canadians. Our Irish friend said he took to one 
of the country roads and, being fleet of foot, soon out-distanced 
his pursuers, though several shots were fired at him, and any 
quantity of imprecations were hurled after him. He got shelter 
and concealment in a friendly farmer's barn, whose kindly wife 
furnished him subsistence. He remained here quiet for a few 
days, and then ventured into Windsor concealed in a load of hay 
the farmer was bringing in. He got to the river all right, stole a 
canoe, and paddled himself across to this side, and out of danger. 

Hathon's ofiice was in the Cooper block, and the back win- 
dows commanded a clear view of Windsor. I have often seen 
Hogan go to the windows, and, casting his eyes across the river, 
syear in an undertone, and then laugh immoderately at the remem- 
brance of some funny incident connected with the affair. He said 
further, he reckoned the reason the soldiers did not hit him during 
his hurried flight was because they could not see him for the dust 
he kicked up. 

I have mentioned before in this connection Colonel E. J. 
Roberts. He was the father of Colonel Horace S. Roberts, of the 
First Regiment Michigan Volunteers, and was killed at the second 
battle of Bull Run, while in command of the regiment. 


DR. THELER'S expedition. 

Referring again to Dr. Theler. He was an ardent Patriot of 
the first water, a short, chtmky Irishman and full of fight appar- 
ently, but the expedition he commanded that set out to capture 
Maiden did not pan out successfully. He got away from here 
one morning somehow, with I do not remember how many men, 
and one piece of cannon — I think a brass six-pounder — on the 
schooner Ann, and sailed away down the river for Maiden. Arriv- 
ing in front of that town, they began blazing away with their gun. 
The inhabitants, realizing what they were up to, armed themselves 
and started out in small boats to capture the Patriots, which they 
did after a short and harmless scrimmage. The doctor and 
party were sent to Quebec and confined in the citadel and the 
schooner and equipment were confiscated. The doctor, after a 
brief confinement in that stronghold, managed to escape, and got 
safely to this side. He published a book detailing his adventures, 
escape, etc., which was quite interesting, his escape from the 
citadel being particularly so. 


One party of Patriots, including Captain James Armstrong, 
of Port Huron, recrossed the river from Canada, landing on Belle 
Isle, but before they reached the land a ball from the six-pounder 
cannon fired from the windmill at Walkerville mangled Arm- 
strong's arm. He was bro.ught to Dr. Hind's office, in this city, 
where the arm was amputated. Anesthetics were not in use in 
those days, but Armstrong never uttered a groan during the 
operation, and when it was finished he picked up the arm, waved 
it around his head and said : ''Hurrah for the Patriots ! I'm will- 
ing to lose another arm for the cause." Armstrong was afterward 
sheriff of Sanilac County in 1856 or 1857. 


Aaron Dresser and T. T. Wright were engaged with Colonel 
Von Thoultz, in the affair of the windmill, near Prescott, Canada, 
November, 1838. They were tried by a militia court-martial at 
Kingston, and sentenced to death, but were sent to Van Dieman's 
Land ^s convicts, where, after residence of nearly four years, thev 

ixNciDENTs OF the: patriot war. 117 

were forgiven and allowed to return to their country b) Sir John 
Franklin, the British governor. In a communication to the New 
York Tribune, February 17, 1844, they appealed to their country- 
men to interest themselves in behalf of the fifty-four comrades 
still in captivity, and to endeavor to procure their release. In addi- 
tion to the above serving sentence at the same place they said were 
twenty-two, taken prisoners in the affair at Windsor, opposite 
Detroit, in the same year. Their names were Chauncey Sheldon, 
Elijah C. Woodman, Michael Murray, John H. Simmons, Alvin 
B. Sweet, Simeon B. Goodrich, James A. Achison, Elijah Stevens. 
John C. Williams, Samuel Snow, Riley M. Stewart, John 
Sprague, John B. Tyrell, James DeWitt Ferro, Henry V. Barnum, 
John Varnum, James Waggoner, Norman Mallory, Horace 
Cooley, John Grant, Lynus W. Miller (student at law) and 
Joseph Stewart. They said they were five months on the passage 
from Van Dieman's Land to London, and Mr. Everett, our min- 
ister at London, got them a ship to New York. They also said : 
'We say it with truth and sincerity that we would not of choice 
pass the rest of our lives in Van Dieman's Land if the whole 
island were given to us in freehold as a gift. We have not to com- 
plain of unusual hardship used to ourselves, and yet both of us 
have often wished to be relieved by death from the horrid bond- 
age entailed on those who are situated as we were. 'To be obliged 
to drag out an existence in such a convict colony, and among such 
a population, is in itself a punishment severe beyond our power to 

They also said: "Several parties, in all about 1,500 men, 
were placed last May, under proper officers of the government, for 
the purpose of securing four criminals guilty of murder, etc. ; we 
were in one of these parties by whom the criminals were secured ; 
and this and general good conduct procured several persons their 
liberty, among whom we two were so fortunate as to be included. 
Morrisset, Murry and Lafore are, we think, from lower Canada. 
We can speak more decided as to. our comrades from Prescott, 
Windsor, and the Short Hills, above named, because when we got 
our freedom we visited most of them, though scattered through 
the interior of the country, following their several trades or occu- 
pations. One of us, Aaron Dresser, resides in Alexandria, Jeffer- 
son County^the other, Stephen T. Wright, lives in Denmark, 


Lewis County, both in New York state. We will be happy to 
reply to any post-paid letters from the relatives of our comrades, 
and to give them any further information in our power." 

(Signed) Aaron Dresser, 
T. T. Wright. 


Chauncey Sheldon was from Oakland County, this state, and 
came into the city with his team and load of produce. He had 
some friends here that were ardent in the Patriot cause. They 
persuaded him to visit the Hunters' Lodge in the Brush garden, 
the night before the crossing, and induced him to join the expedi- 
tion, telling him it was just a picnic and nothing short of that. 
Well, he crossed the river with the ''gang," leaving his team, etc. 
He was taken prisoner and sentenced to Van Dieman's Land as 
above stated. 

DR. Hume's cruel murder. 

The old orchard (Baby's) where the battle cam^e off was 
nearly opposite the building now occupied by D. M. Ferry & Co.'s 
seed store, and among other incidents connected with this scrim- 
mage was one of a most melancholy nature, and that was the mur- 
der of Doctor Hume, of the British army, who was at Sandwich, 
and for some reason was detained there, after the militia left, and 
came up alone on horseback. On the road in front of this orchard 
was a long, low log house, which was at that time in possession of 
the Patriots, and from one of the windows or corner of this house 
he was as far as any one knows, shot without mercy. His body 
was thrown into a hogpen and partially devoured before his 
friends had time to rescue it. For this and other atrocities of the 
Patriots Colonel Prince, of Sandwich, commander of the Cana- 
dian militia, retaliated on them with a summary vengeance that 
has been often detailed. 

This taking off of Dr. Hume in such a tragic manner has 
been often detailed before, and I repeat it now because he was so 
well known on this side of the river. The distressing occurrence 
was the talk of the town and was regretted by all. I visited the 
scene of the battle in the orchard two or three days after it 
occurred, as also the spot where the doctor fell. 




The excitement incident to the war was kept up for many 
months, all along the border, on both sides, after all demonstra- 
tions of a hostile nature had ceased. During the summer follow- 
ing the Windsor episode, I spent some months in St. Clair. The 
village of Moretown, on the opposite side of the river, still con- 
tinued to maintain a company of Canadian militia, who had their 
quarters over the store and warehouse of a Mr. Sutherland, an 
extensive English merchant, who was loyalty personified. Many 
of the present inhabitants of St. Clair and of Moretown will, no 
doubt, call to mind the personality of the jolly Englishman. Every 
time the militia company relieved guard, night and morning, the 
squad that were relieved, would invariably discharge their mus- 
kets when they reached the platform at the head of the stairs, 
on the outside of their quarters. Everyone banged oflf his piece, 
singly, before entering the door, waking the sleeping echoes and 
reminding the peaceful inhabitants on both sides of the river, that, 
although the ''cruel war" was over, still, ''eternal vigilance was 
the price of liberty" and that they were not to be caught napping. 



'^y^ HE first brick dwelling house in the city, it is believed, was 
I built, or begun, by an Englishman — Mr. Benjamin 

Stead, who died in 182 1. The house was finished soon 
after his death by other parties. It was a two-story, double 
brick house, and still stands, nearly opposite the old Michigan 
Exchange. Part of it was occupied by the late Tunis Wendell, 
and the other part by the late Col. Whiting, U. S. A. Later por- 
tions of it were used by the United States for officers' sleeping 
rooms. Dr. Farnsworth also had his office in part of it. It is 
now occupied for various purposes. 

The house of David Cooper, that formerly stood on Cadillac 
Square, was built about 1827. It also was a double brick house 
and was built by David Cooper and Charles Jackson. Both Mr. 
Jackson and Mr. Cooper lived there in 1827 and later on. There 
was also a small brick house on Jefferson Avenue below Wayne 
Street, occupied for many years by William Berger as a gun-shop, 
and before him by Hon. John Norvell, with the postoffice. Many 
old residents will remember this, I think, as well as the old wooden 
gun Berger had projecting from •the roof as a sign. The house 
on the south side of Fort Street, near Wayne Street, now occupied 
by Mrs. Whitbeck, was built by Dr. Henry, father of D. Farrand 
Henry, and was occupied by him for at least five years. . It was 
probably built prior to 1832. 

Dr. Hurd built and occupied a two-story brick house on the 
corner of Woodward Avenue and Congress Street, where is now 
the Richmond & Backus Co., before 1827. Jhomas Palmer, 
father of the senator, built and occupied as a store and residence 
a two-story brick house on the south side of Jefferson Avenue, on 


the corner of Griswold Street, where the senator first saw the 
Hght in 1830. 

Levi Brown, the jeweler and inventor of the gold pen, had 
his brick store and residence on the north side of Jefferson Avenue 
between Shelby and Griswold Streets, nearly opposite that of 
Thomas Palmer. There was also a brick dwelling, built by Jona- 
than Keeney prior to 1830, on Fort Street, north side, between 
Griswold and Shelby Streets. It is still standing. 

Robert Smart built and owned, prior to 1827, a two-story 
brick store on the corner of Jefferson and Woodward Avenues, 
the present site of the Merrill Block, which was occupied as a 
general store in 1827-8-9 and 1830, by Henry V. Disbrow, Esq. 

General John R. Williams, prior to 1827, owned and lived in 
a two-story brick house, on the north side of Woodbridge Street, 
between Bates and Randolph Streets. 

General Hull also built and occupied, prior to 1827, a brick 
residence of quite fi pretentious character, on the corner of Jeffer- 
son Avenue and Randolph Street, the present site of the Biddle 
House. After General Hull vacated it it was occupied for a short 
time by General Proctor (British), and shortly after by General 
Brady, until he completed his residence on the corner of Jefferson 
Avenue and Hastings Street, the present site of the Art Museum. 

The Mansion House, that stood on the north side of Jeffer- 
son Avenue, near the line of the Cass farm, now Cass Street, was 
a stone and brick structure, and was built prior to 1827, from the 
ruins of Fort Shelby. The old Bank of Michigan, or Detroit 
City Bank, as I think it was called then, built and occupied, prior 
to 1827, a small brick building on the present site of the Kearsley 
building, at the southwest corner of Jefferson Avenue and Ran- 
dolph Street. 

Judge Canniff and Jerry Dean, prior to 1827, built ^nd occu- 
pied as residences, the two-story, double brick house (still stand- 
ing), on the south side of Congress Street, a few doors from 
Shelby Street. Peter Desnoyer also, about the same period, built 
and occupied as a store, a two-story brick building, on the present 
site of the Desnoyer Block. The store did not occupy as much 
ground as does the present block. His dwelling (wooden), built 
directly after the fire of 1805, stood on the corner of Jefferson 
Avenue and Bates Street, and the new brick store next to it on the 


The stone buildings of that time were Ste. Anne's church 
(Catholic), the old Council House, on the corner of Jefferson 
Avenue and Randolph Street, on the present site of the water 
works building, and the old arsenal, on the southwest corner of 
Jefferson Avenue and Wayne Street. 

The state capitol building (brick) was built prior to 1827. 
There was also a government warehouse, of brick, directly in the 
rear of Berger's gun shop and fronting on Woodbridge Street. 



IN October, 183 1, Mr. Edwin Jerome left Detroit with a sur- 
veying party composed of John Mullet, United States sur- 
veyor, and Utter, Brink and Peck, assistants, for that portion 
of Michigan territory lying west of Lake Michigan, and which 
is now Wisconsin. Their outfit consisted of a French pony team 
and a buffalo wagon to carry tent, camp equipage, blankets, etc. 
Most of the way to the southeast corner of Lake Michigan they 
followed a wagon track or Indian trail, and had a cabin or an 
Indian hut to lodge in at night ; but west of the point mentioned 
they found neither road nor inhabitant. They arrived at Chicago 
in a terrible rainstorm and put up at the fort (Dearborn). This 
far-famed city at that time had but five or six houses, and they 
were built of logs. Within a distance of three or four miles of 
the fort the land was valued by its owners at fifty cents an acre. 
After twenty-three days' weary travel through an uninhabited 
country, fording and swimming streams and exposed to much 
rainy weather, they arrived at Galena where they commenced 
their survey, but in two days the ground froze so deep that further 
work was abondoned until the next spring. The day after the 
memorable Stillman battle with Black Hawk, while the Mullet 
party were crossing the Blue Mounds, they met with an Indian 
half-chief, who had just arrived from the Menominee camps with 
the details of the battle. He stated the slain to be three Indians 
and eleven whites. The long shaking of hands and the extreme 
cordiality of this Indian alarmed Mullet for the safety of his 
party, but he locked the secret in his own heart until the next day. 
They had just completed a town corner when Mullet, raising him- 
self to his full height, said : ''Boys, I'm going in ; I'll not risk 
my scalp for a few paltry shillings." This laconic speech was an 
electric shock to the whole company. Mr. Jerome, in describing 
his own sensations, said ''that the hair of his head became then as 
porcupine quills, raising his hat in the air and himself from the 
ground, and the top of his head became as sore as a boil." 



THE late Judge Z. W. Bunce, of Port Huron, in the spring 
of 1817 put on board a one-horse wagon $3,000 worth 
of ready-made clothing and started from Albany, N. Y., 
for Detroit on the 15th day of April. He passed through 
Rochester, N. Y., when there were only twenty persons there, and 
a choice of lots could be had then for $50. In this connection, and 
referring to the same location record, Judge Jerome, father of all 
the Jeromes in this state, related once in my presence that he was 
offered 200 acres, on which was a log house, for 20 cents an acre, 
but he said his eyes were set for Michigan, and had no use for 
wild land in New York state. 

Our adventurer was detained at Buffalo some days for the 
completion of the schooner Michigan, on which he intended to 
cross Lake Erie. The schooner was the one which was subse- 
quently sent over the Niagara Falls with wild animals on board. 
After three days he arrived in Detroit and stored his goods with 
James Abbott and engaged board at Colonel Richard Smith's 
tavern, on the south side of Woodward Avenue, between Jeffer- 
son Avenue and Woodbridge Street. He made an effort to see 
the farming country around Detroit, and for this purpose told 
Colonel Smith, his landlord, to have a horse saddled for him. 
He mounted his horse and took his course across what was then 
called the commons to a French wood road, followed this until 
he found himself deep in the mud and water. He then tried 
another and another road, and found all the same. He then 
returned to the tavern and asked the landlord to put him on to a 
road that would take him into the country. 

"Where do you want to go ?" inquired the landlord. 

"Out among the farmers, to see what you have got for a 
back-bone for your city," he replied. 

"We have got no such bone. You will find nothing in that 
direction but swamps, woods, wildcats and Indians. If you want 
to see our farmers you must go up and down the river." 

He took his advice and went as far as Hudson's (now the 


Country Club) on Lake St. Clair, by way of the old Stone Wind 
Mill (once on Wind Mill Point) and was apparently satisfied. 
He was invited by Colonel Jack Langhan, paymaster in the 
United States army, to go with him and assist in paying off the 
troops at the River Raisin, now Monroe. They started at 3 
o'clock in the morning, Colonel Langhan and Colonel Dick Smith 
on horseback, and Chauncy S. Payne and the judge in a one-horse 
wagon. They crossed the Rouge by swimming the horses and 
carrying the wagon over in two canoes. In the same way they 
crossed the Ecorse. The ground over which they passed in the 
firstpart of their journey was sandy and they found no great diffi- 
culty until they reached Swan Creek. There they mired their 
horse and wagon, but after one expedient and another they extri- 
cated themselves from this quagmire. Here night came on — a 
dark, dreary night — with nothing to amuse or cheer them but the 
howl of the wolves, which kept up their serenade until nearly day- 
light. The last part of their way there was a road made by the 
United States troops through a dense forest free from stumps, 
but with no bottom to the spongy soil. They arrived at the Raisin 
about 9 o'clock in the evening. 

After four days at the Raisin they started at 6 o'clock a. m. 
on their return and, having daylight for the most part of the way, 
they got along better than when going down, crossing the Ecorse 
about 9 o'clock in the evening. Half way between that river and 
the Rouge they found a pack of wolves in the road before them, 
which opened to the right and left and let the travelers pass, at 
the same time saluting them with a hideous howl. Payne, badly 
scared, stuck to the wagon. The judge, having provided himself 
with a cudgel, posted himself at the hind end of the wagon for 
defense, but neither of them was injured. The horse suffered 
most from the effects of Payne's whip. They reached Detroit in 
the wee hours of the morning. 

Mr. Payne was for many years a citizen of Detroit, associated 
with Levi Brown in the silversmith and jewelry business. Payne 
married the daughter of Jacob Smith, an Indian trader. Captain 
Garland, of the army, married another daughter of Smith. These 
girls inherited from their father an Indian reserve west of this 

Mr. and Mrs. Payne were both living in 1882. The traffic 
of this family with the Indians was carried on most throug^i the 
house of Conrad (CoOn) and Jerry Ten Eyck. 




GEORGE HERIOT, in his "Travels in Canada" (London, 
1807), says of the French habitant: 
"They were honest, hospitable, religious, inoffensive and 
uninformed, possessed of simplicity and civility. Without 
ambition and attached to ancient prejudices they sought no more 
than the necessaries of life. Many, as a result of happy action, 
were poor without realizing their poverty ; some were well-to-do 
without boasting of their wealth." 

"The stream-haunting habitant has been happily compared to 
the beaver, or muskrat. At times he seemed to live in waters and 
marshes around him, building his cabin where it was accessible 
only to a canoe. 

"A century and more after the founding of Detroit, the 
farms still cling lovingly to the river banks, and a mile back from 
the stream was still seen the untouched forest. The troops who 
came from Ohio to Detroit in 18 12, found only one muddy road, 
winding along between stream and wood, a situation which 
offered the lurking savage every opportunity for ambush and 
attack. What roads there were, the water-loving habitant despised ; 
but over his rough highways he jogged merrily to market with a 
two-wheeled Norman cart and rough, dwarfish pony, a curious 
mongrel animal of unknown pedigree, but with an endurance and 
possible speed w^hich delighted the simple peasant or his rollick- 
ing sons. 


"It was the hardy, lawless French coureur des bois and bush- 
rangers who hated England cordially, and pushing their way into 
this coveted country, readily affiliated with the savages and 
influenced them to hate English, and to look upon the French as 


their allies. They many times adopted Indian habits, took to 
wife daughters of their savage friends, and raised a brood of 
half-breed children. 

"When the time came to change French for English control 
the Indians, it is said, reluctantly consented, and d5wn to the mid- 
dle of the last century, although the British were generally pre- 
ferred to the Americans, the French were greatly preferred to 

" 'Whatever may have been the reason,' said Governor Cass, 
'the fact is certain that there is in the French character peculiar 
adaptations to the habits and feelings of the Indians, and to this 
day the period of French domination is the era of all that is happy 
in Indian reminiscences.' " (Historical Sketches of Michigan.) 


At the Sault de Ste. Marie in 1826 a Chippewa chief, address- 
ing the American agent, thus pathetically referred to' the happy 
days of the French dominion in the west : "When the French- 
men arrived at these falls they came and kissed us. They called 
us children, and we found them fathers. We lived like brethren 
in the same lodge, and we had always the wherewithal to clothe 
us. They never mocked at our ceremonies, and they never 
molested the places of our dead. Seven generations of men have 
passed away, but we have not forgotten it. Just, very just, were 
they towards us." Mrs. Jameson's "Winter Studies." 

Detroit's early days. 

In his "Life of Cass" Professor Andrew McLaughlin says : 
Seventy-five years ago Detroit was still a French settlement. 
The few Scotch who came in during the later years of the English 
domination affiliated with the French and appreciated their con- 
servatism. In consequence of this ancestry there has always been 
a steadiness and sobrietv in business and a caution and reserve in 
society. It has not felt until a comparative recent period the stir 
of American life, as has Buffalo, or Cleveland, placed in* the heart 
of 'New Connecticut.' It can scarcely be doubted that conserva- 
tive French Catholicism has had its influence in giving peculiar 
tone and setting a dignified pace. It is true that after Detroit 
had been ostensibly an American city for forty years, the intro- 
duction of New England life gave the town a look of prosperity 


and activity which was lacking to the Canadian towns across the 
river. Not long ago, easily within the memory of men now living 
in Detroit, the well-to-do French peasant held his acres and 
refused twice their value or demanded perhaps that the city put 
a rail fence on each side of the street, which eminent domain had 
forced through his land. For a long time Detroit was practically 

"Down to 1763 the city grew slowly. In the time of the Eng- 
lish domination there came a few English traders and a few canny 
Scotch, with their habits of thrift and deftness. But the French 
habitant does not allow his ease to be interfered with. Every- 
where the world presents the same roseate hue to his contented 
vision. After 1796 some Americans making their way into the 
territory jostle him about a little, insist on trial by jury, talk to 
him of popular elections and other incomprehensive problems, 
suggest the idea that Detroit may become a great commercial 

''When winter set in, the people gave themselves up to pleas- 
ure-seeking. Their shaggy ponies, which had been allowed all 
summer long to roam the woods or scamper uncontrolled along 
the river banks, now became their special pride. The swiftest of 
the herd was dearly cherished; and the highest ambition of the 
farmer was to drive the fastest horse. The frozen 'river was the 
theater of delights, or the 'Grand Marais' a few miles above the 
city, swollen with autumn rains, offered its icy attractions. Sun- 
day, as in most Catholic countries, was a day for enjoyment as 
well as solemn worship, and Saturday was generally an occasion 
of unrestrained merry-making. Sleigh-riding, dancing, feasting 
and uncontrolled levity filled up the passing winter weeks. A sum- 
iner's providence was easily lost in a winter's mild dissipation." 

In 1817 the Gazette thus encouraged the French to effort: 
"Frenchmen of the territory of Michigan, you ought to begin 
immediately to give an education to your children. In a little time 
there will be in this territory as many Yankees as French, and if 
you do not have your children educated the situations will all be 
given to the Yankees." 

The French were exasperating to the busy Yankee, for they 
never did today what could be delayed till the morrow. 


diffe:re:d from other settlers. 

The late Bela Hubbard, in his "Memorials of a Half a Cen- 
tury," in regard to the French habitant, has this to say : "I have 
alluded to one trait in which the French emigres di'ffered widely 
from the English and Spanish settlers in America — their friendli- 
ness towards the aboriginal inhabitants. This kindly disposition 
was appreciated by the Indians ; so that the two races, whenever 
they fairly understood each other, lived in peace together. 

"I am not aware that intermarriages were frequent, or that 
this relationship was often entered into by the peasantry of this 
part of Canada. It was common enough at the remoter parts, 
down even to times within my personal knokledge. The Indian 
trader, whether Frenchman, Scotsman or Yankee, prompted partly 
by interest, usually took to himself an Indian wife. At such 
places as Mackinac and Sault Ste. Marie, half-breeds were quite 
numerous, as they had been at Detroit at an earlier day. The class 
known as voyageurs — the coureurs de bois of the older times — 
had become to a very considerable extent of mixed blood. The 
licentious lawlessness of those wild wood-rangers was not only 
well known, but was a subject of much complaint at a very early 
day. Certain it is, that in many points there was greater assimi- 
lation between the natives and the people from France than was 
the case with the emigrants from any other civilized country. In 
several excursions which I made between 1836 and 1840, in the 
wilderness portions of Michigan, and along the large streams and 
channels, it was not uncommon to find the solitary lodge of a 
Frenchman, with his squaw wife, and sometimes two wives, and 
a troop of half-breed children. They lived more like Indians than 
white people, associated chiefly with them, and depended on 





GEORGE CROGHAN, of Pennsylvania, Sir William John- 
son's sub-commissioner, made a visit to the west in 1765, 
for the purpose of establishing more friendly relations be- 
tween the English and the more distant western tribes. 

He says : *'We arrived at Detroit on the 17th of August, in 
the morning, and went to the fort, which is a large stockade, 
inclosing about eighty houses. It stands close on the north side of 
the river, on a high bank, commands a very pleasant prospect for 
nine miles above and nine miles below the fort. The country is 
thickly settled with French. Their plantations are generally laid 
out about three or four acres in breadth on the river and eighty 
acres in depth. The soil is good, producing plenty of grain. 
All the people here are generally poor wretches, and consist 
of three or four hundred French families, a lazy, idle people, 
depending chiefly on the savages for subsistence. Though 
the land, with little labor, produces plenty of grain, they 
scarcely raise as much as will supply their wants, in imita- 
tion of the Indians, whose manners and customs they have 
entirely adopted, and cannot subsist without them. The men, 
women and children speak the Indian tongue fluently. In the 
last Indian war, the most part of the French were concerned in 
it (although the settlement had taken the oath of allegiance to his 
Britannic majesty). They have, therefore, great reason to be 
thankful to the English clemency in not bringing them to deserv^ed 
punishment. Before the last Indian war, there resided three 
nations of Indians at this place — the Pottawatomies, whose village 
was on the west side of the river, about one mile below the fort ; 
the Ottawas, on the east side, about three miles above the fort; 
the Wyandottes, whose village lays on the west side, about two 
miles below the fort. The former two nations have removed to a 
considerable distance, and the latter still remain where they were, 
and are remarkable for their good sense." 



Roosevelt in his "Winning of the West," speaking of the con- 
flict for supremacy between the white element of the infant north- 
west and the Indian element, says : "They would have found their 
struggle with the Indians dangerous enough in itself, but there 
was an added element of menace in the fact that back of the 
Indians stood the British. It was for this reason that the fron- 
tiersmen grew to regard as essential to their well-being the posses- 
sion of the lake posts; so that it became with them a prime object 
to wrest from the British, whether by force of arms or by 
diplomacy, the forts they held at Niagara, Detroit and Machili- 
mackinac. Detroit was the most important, for it served as the 
headquarters of the western Indians, who formed for the time 
being the chief bar to American advance. The British held the 
posts with a strong grip, in the interest of their trades and mer- 
chants. To them the land derived its chief importance from the 
fur trade. This was extremely valuable, and, as it steadily 
increased in extent and importance, the consequence of Detroit, 
the fitting-out town for the fur traders, grew in like measure. It 
was the center of a population of several thousand Canadians, who 
lived by the chase and by the rude cultivation of their long, nar- 
row farms ; and it was held by a garrison of three or four hundred 
British regulars, with auxiliary bands of American, loyalist and 
French-Canadian rangers, and above all, with a formidable but 
fluctuating reserve force of Indian allies. 

It was to the interest of the British to keep the American set- 
tlers out of the land ; and therefore their aims were at one with 
those of the Indians. All the tribes between the Ohio and the 
Missouri were subsidized by them, and paid them a precarious 
allegiance. Fickle, treacherous, and ferocious, the Indians at 
times committed acts of outrage even on their allies, so that these 
allies had to be ever on their guard ; and the tribes were often at 
war with one another. War interrupted trade and cut down 
profits, and the British endeavored to keep the diflferent tribes at 
peace among themselves, and even with the Americans. More- 
over, they always discouraged barbarities, and showed what kind- 
ness was in their power to any unfortunate prisoners whom the 
Indians happened to bring to their posts. But they helped the 
Indians in all ways save by open military aid to keep back the 
American settlers. They wished a monopoly of the fur trade ; and 


they endeavored to prevent the Americans from coming in to their 
settlements. EngHsh officers and agents attended the Indian 
councils, endeavored to attach the tribes to the British interests, 
and encouraged them to stand firm against the Americans and to 
insist upon the Ohio as the boundary between the w^hite man and 
the red. The Indians received counsel and advice from the Brit- 
ish, and drew from them both arms and munitions of war, and 
while the higher British officers were usually careful to avoid com- 
mitting any overt breach of neutrality, the reckless partisan lead- 
ers sought to inflame the Indians against the Americans and even 
at 'times accompanied their war parties. 

ufej at the posts 

''The life led at a frontier post like Detroit was 'marked by 
sharp contrasts. The forest roundabout was cleared away, though 
blackened stumps still dotted the pastures, orchards and tilled 
fields. The town itself was composed mainly of the dwellings of 
the French habitants ; some of them were mere hovels, others 
pretty log cottages, all swarming with black-eyed children ; 
while the stoutly-made, swarthy men, at once lazy and 
excitable, strolled about the streets in their picturesque and 
bright-colored blanket suits. There were also a few houses 
of loyalist refugees, implacable Tories, stalwart men, revengeful 
and goaded by the memory of many wrongs done and many suf- 
fered, who proved the worst enemies of their American kinsfolk. 
The few big, roomy buildings which served as store houses and 
residences for the merchants were built not only for the storage 
of goods and peltries, but also as strongholds in case of attack. 
The heads of the mercantile houses were generally Englishmen, 
but the hardy men who traversed the woods for months and for 
seasons, to procure furs from the Indians, were for the most part 
French. The sailors, both English and French, who manned 
the vessels on the lakes, formed another class. The rough earth- 
works and stockades of the fort were guarded by a few light guns. 
Within, the red-coated regulars held sway, their bright uniforms, 
varied here and there by the dingy huting shirt, leggings and fur 
cap of some Tory ranger or French partisan leader. Indians 
lounged about the fort, the stores, and the houses, begging or gaz- 
ing stolidly at the troops as they drilled, at the creaking carts from 
the outlying farms as they plied through the streets, at the driving 

the: winning of the west. 133 

to and fro from the pasture of the horses and the milch cows, or at 
the arrival of a vessel from Niagara or a brigade of fur-laden 
bateaux from the upper lakes. 


**In their paint and cheap, dirty finery these savages did not 
look very important; yet it was because of them that the British 
kept up their posts in these far-off forests, beside these great 
lonely waters ; it was for their sakes that they tried to stem the 
inrush of the settlers of their own blood and tongue, for it was 
their presence alone which served to keep the wilderness as a 
game preserve for the fur merchants ; it was their prowess in war 
which prevented French village and British garrison from being 
lapped up like drops of water before the fiery rush of the Ameri- 
can advance. The British themselves, though fighting with and 
for them, loved them little; like all frontiermen, they soon 
grew to look down on their mean, trivial lives — lives which nev- 
ertheless strongly attracted white men of evil and shiftless, but 
adventurous natures, and to which white children, torn from their 
homes and brought up in the wigwams, became passionately 
attached. Yet back of the drunken and lazy squalor lay an ele- 
ment of the terrible, all the more terrible because it could not be 
reckoned with. Dangerous and treacherous allies, upon whom 
no real dependence could ever be placed, the Indians were never- 
theless the most redoubtable of all foes when war was waged in 
their own gloomy woodlands." 



IN the early conflict for supremacy I do not think it out of place 
to recount some of the struggles, trials and hardships these 

men of iron endured in ''Winning the West," gathered from 
various sources, and before which the widely heralded accounts 
of expeditions to the Klondike in search of gold pale into insignifi- 

The times were hard in the early days, and they called for 
men of flinty fiber. Those of the softer, gentler mood would have 
failed amidst such surroundings. The iron men of the border 
had a harsh and terrible task allotted to them, and, though going 
through dreadful scenes and privations, they never faltered, and 
wrested this fair land from the dominion of the cruel and remorse- 
less savage, and left it as a heritage to the present owners, who 
today are scarcely mindful of the splendid gift and the immunity 
from harm that they enjoy, from within or without, contrasting 
today with those of the early troublous ones. 

The late Judge B. F. H. Witherell, writing of the early days, 
says : 


''When the United States troops took Maiden, during the 
war of 1812, they found in one of the government buildings, 
securely packed away, hundreds of human scalps, nicely dressed, 
and put up in packages of twenty each, and artistically ornamented 
with various colored ribbons. The scalps were from the soft, silky 
hair of the infant to the gray and white hair of the aged man and 

"A halfbreed Pottawattamie chief, by the name of Robinson, 
was present at the surrender of the fort at Chicago at the end of 
the last war with England, and, being somewhat friendly with 
the American troops, he used his influence to prevent their mas- 
sacre. He succeeded, however, in saving only Captain Helm, 

the; iron men ok the border. 135 

the commandant, and his wife. During the confusion that fol- 
lowed the first volley fired by the Indians, and partly covered by 
the smoke, he succeeded in placing Captain Helm and his wife in 
a bark canoe that he had concealed in that vicinity, and carried 
them to Mackinac, navigating the whole length of Lake Michigan 
in a bark canoe, and keeping out of sight of land nearly the whole 
distance for fear of roving bands of Indians." 

Probably the whole history of the Western country does not 
furnish a more daring feat than this. 

I must confess this is a silver lining to the cloud, for the 
Indians massacred nearly the entire garrison. 


"Immediately after the defeat of General Winchester on the 
Raisin, which occurred on the 226. of January, A. D. 181 3, all the 
prisoners that were able to travel were taken to Maiden ; the 
badly wounded were indiscriminately murdered by the tomahawk, 
rifle and fire. Our fellow citizen, Oliver Bellair, Esq., at that 
time a boy, resided with his parents at Maiden. He states that 
when the prisoners, some three or four hundred in number, arrived 
in Maiden, they were pictures of misery. A long, cold march 
from the states in mid-winter, camping out in the deep snow, the 
hard-fought battle and subsequent robbery of their effects, left 
them perfectly destitute of any cornforts. 

"Many of the prisoners were also slightly wounded ; the 
blood, dust and smoke of battle were yet upon them. 

"At Maiden they were driven into an open woodyard, and 
without tents or covering of any kind, thinly clad, they endured 
the bitter cold of a long January night ; but they were soldiers qi 
the republic and suffered without murmuring at their hard lot. 

"They were surrounded by a strong chain of sentinels to 
prevent their escape, and to keep off the savages who pressed hard 
to enter the inclosures. The inhabitants of the village at night, 
in large numbers, sympathizingly crowded around and thus fav- 
ored the escape of a few prisoners. 

"Mr. Bellair tells rrie that at the time these prisoners were 
brought into Maiden, the village presented a horrible spectacle. 
The Indians had cut off the heads of those that had fallen in battle 
and massacre, to the number of a hundred or more, had brought 
them to Maiden and had stuck them in rows on the top of a high 


picket fence; and there they stood, their matted locks deeply 
stained with their own gore — their eyes wide open, staring out 
upon the multitude, exhibiting all varieties of features ; some with 
a pleasant smile ; others who had probably lingered long in mortal 
agony, had a scowl of defiance, despair or revenge ; and others 
wore the appearance of deep distress or sorrow — they may have 
died thinking of their far-ofif wives and children and friends, 
and pleasant homes whick they would visit no more ; the winter's 
frost had fixed their features as they died, and they changed not. 
' '*The savages had congregated in great numbers and had 
brought back with them from the bloody banks of the Raisin, and 
other parts of our frontier, immense numbers of scalps, strung 
upon poles, among which might be seen the soft, silky locks of 
young children, the ringlets and tresses of fair maidens, the bur- 
nished locks of middle life and the silver gray of old age. The 
scalps were hung, some twenty together, on a pole ; each was 
extended by a small hoop around the edge and they were all 
painted red on the flesh side and were carried about the town to 
the music of the war-whoop and scalp-yell." 

"That the British government did not attempt to restrain the 
savages, is well known ; on the contrary they were instigated to 
these barbarous deeds. Among the papers of General Proctor, 
captured at the battle of the Thames, was found a letter from 
General Brock to Proctor, apparently in answer to one asking 
whether he should restrain the Indians. The reply was, 'The 
Indians are necessary to his majesty's service and must be in- 

'In another communication, the judge says: 

'Captain Knaggs, of Monroe, pointed out to me the cellars 
of buildings in which our wounded soldiers, who were made pris- 
oners at the battle of the Raisin, were burned. They are within 
a few yards of the brick house on the left, as you approach the 
north bank of the River Raisin from Detroit. One of them yet 
remains uncovered. 

"Mr. Campau, who, at the time of the battle, lived and yet 
lives, about a quarter of a mile from the burned buildings, vividly 
describes the scene — the shrieks of agony, and the howls of 
despair, that went up to heaven, as the fierce flames rapidly envel- 
oped the burning buildings. Though covered with wounds, many 
of the prisoners were able to crawl to the doors to avoid the raging 




fires; but the bullet and the battle-ax met them there and at once 
ended their miseries. The voices of all were soon stilled in death ; 
and their bones lay bleaching in the sun and storm. The Indians 
forbade the inhabitants to bury them under pain of death. 

*'A soldier made prisoner at the battle was taken to Mr. Cam- 
pau's house by the Indians. Some apples were handed to them. 
The prisoner happened to receive his first. This was a mortal 
affront, and the poor fellow was instantly seized, dragged to the 
door and cut down on the steps. 

^'Another soldier had hid in a haystack. He was discovered 
by an Indian boy, who informed the Indians at Campau'^ bouse. 
With a fierce whoop they started for him. Campau called out, 
'Chief, give me your word to save that man !' 

" 'I give it !' said the chief, and this saved the poor fellow 
from certain death. 

"It were endless to relate all the tales of blood that were wit- 
nessed on the frontier. The lives of the French inhabitants, in 
consideration of their former kindnesses to the Indians were gen- 
erally spared and they exerted themselves to the utmost in behalf 
of the sufifering captives and saved many from untimely graves. 
Forty years have passed away, and the regent, with all his min- 
isters, who employed the savages, and stimulated them to such 
atrocious deeds, together with most of the immediate actors in 
the scenes, have passed to that great tribunal to meet their count- 
less victims, where the crimes of the one and the sufferings of the 
other have been registered for the final reckoning." 




44 T N 1813-14, after the battle of the Thames, and the appoint- 
I ment of General Cass to be governor of the territory, the 
hostile Indians were everywhere committing depredations 
on the inhabitants. The lives of the Way-we-te-go-che (French 
people) were generally spared, because, during peace, they had 
been universally kind to the Indians ; had relieved their distress, 
fed them when hungry, clothed them when naked, and sheltered 
them by their firesides from the winter storms — these things they 
remembered ; but though they spared their lives, stern necessity 
compelled them, as they said, to take all their means of living. 
All their cattle were killed and their horses taken away ; the fences 
around their land were used for firewood ; the fruit from their 
orchards was carried ofT, and, in fact, they were left totally desti- 

"Knowing their readiness to take up arms for their country 
and the patriotic spirit that animated them, the government, at the 
instance of General Cass, supplied them with the necessaries of 
life from the public stores until they could raise something from 
the earth to subsist on. 

"This was a slow process for a people without cattle, without 
teams, without fences. But they murmured not ; they looked upon 
it as the fate of war and cheerfully submitted to it. 

"As to the Yankee portion of our population, it was compar- 
atively small and with the Indians it stood on a different footing. 
All these were either put to death, when in their power, without 
mercy, or were carried into captivity. 

"Mr. McMillan, a respectable citizen, whose widow and chil- 
dren are yet among us, was shot down and scalped, while out on 
the common after his cow, and one of his children was taken pris- 
oner and carried to Saginaw, as before mentioned. On the same 

IN DAYS OF OI.D. 1 39 

day a chief and his two sons, seeing old Mr. Moran and his son 
getting rails near the border of the woods, approached with 
stealthy tread, and when near enough drew their rifles and took 
deliberate aim. There was but a hair's breadth between the 
Morans and death. At this critical moment the old gentleman 
turned the side of his face towards the Indians. The old chief 
knew him at once, by his crooked nose, to be his former friend. 
He whistled, the rifles dropped and the Indians went ofif. After 
the peace they told Uncle Lewis that his nose had saved his life. 


*'The forest within sight of the city w^as filled with these 
marauding bands and they were daily seen from the city, killing 
cattle, driving oflf horses, etc. 

"Colonel Croghan built a little fort, which is yet standing, I 
think, on Judge Sibley's land, near the Pontiac road, to keep the 
Indians from the common, and then fired into it from Fort Shelby, 
to see whether or not he would be able to drive the Indians out 
if they should take it. There was too small a garrison at Fort 
Shelby to risk it or any part of it in an Indian fight. Governor 
Cass called upon the citzens to come and follow him. 

''Detroit then was but a small town and had but few inhab- 
itants, but they were of the right sort. They gathered together 
at the summons of the general, armed in all manner of ways — 
muskets, fowling pieces, rifles, sabers, tomahawks, etc., but still 
armed and willing to use their arms with General Cass at their 
head, for he always was there. 

"They went up the river about a mile, and there took to the 
woods, intending to gain the rear of the Indian force, but their 
scouts were on the alert, and when the citizens reached the Indian 
camp they had just quitted it. A fire was opened upon them, 
however ; one Indian, only, was known to be killed ; how many 
others were killed or wounded was never known. The Indians 
effected a retreat, followed by the party, for some distance — the 
dense forest and thick underbrush, however, prevented a rapid 
pursuit on horseback. 

"After returning, the party w^ere informed that the Indians 
were hanging on the borders of a settlement below, near the River 
Rouge. General Cass and his party proceeded to that part of the 
country, and the Indians fled. He afterwards, with the citizens, 


marched toward the settlements on the CHnton River, which were 
menaced by the enemy, and the savages again retired and fled to 

''His constant, unremitting vigilance and energetic conduct 
saved our people from many of the horrors of war, and he was 
well sustained by our habitants. They w^ere brave and fearless 
to a fault ; the Indian yell and the war-whoop had no terrors for 
them; when they heard it in battle they invariably returned it, 
and rushed upon the enemy, as they did at Monguagon, under the 
gallant Dequindre. They had great confidence in General Cass, 
and willingly followed him into any danger. 

"Horses were very scarce, and it was with great difficulty 
that enough were obtained for the expedition. General Cass had 
several, and his were readily and willingly furnished ; one mag- 
nificent horse, ridden by one of the bravest fellows in all the west 
(the late William Meldrum), was accidentally killed during the 

THE Indian's conscience. 

"Among the unpleasant incidents of the early days of our city 
were the numerous brawls and quarrels of the Indians. 

"Murders, not alone of the whites, but of their ow'n people, 
also, were frequently committed by the Indians. Being almost at 
all times drunk, it is not to be wondered at that they so easily and 
so often immured their hands in human blood. 

"In the winter of 1812, on the afternoon of a day in January, 
a Chippewa was found in the street of Detroit nearly dead from a 
cut in his head from a tomahawk. Kish-kaw-ko, a notorious war 
chief, dreaded fof his many atrocious murders, was suspected of 
the crime. He was sought after and found, with his son, Big 
Beaver ; the latter had his father's tomahawk, which was stained 
with blood. When he was arrested, he said the blood was from 
some meat he had been cutting. Both went quietly to prison, when 
told it was the wish of General Cass that they should go there. 
The governor's jury found a verdict of guilty against Big Beaver, 
as the principal in the murder, and Kish-kaw-ko as accessory. 

"The Indians remained in jail until May, when Kish-kaw-ko 
was found dead one morning in his cell. A jury of inquest 
returned a verdict of death from natural causes, but from circum- 
stances afterward ascertained it was rendered probable that he 
had poisoned himself. The night before, one of his wives brought 

IN DAYS O^ OLD. . 14I 

him a small cup ; then went away. Soon after a number of Indi- 
ans called to see him, and held a long conference, and when they 
went away he took leave of them with great solemnity and affec- 
tion. After they left, Kish-kaw-ko asked the jailor to give him 
some liquor, a request which he had never made before. At an 
early hour the next morning the people who had visited him the 
evening previous came again and asked to see him. 

"When they found him dead they appeared delighted and as 
if gratified to find their expectations realized. All but a few of his 
band started immediately for Saginaw. Those who remained 
performed the funeral ceremonies. He was buried by moonlight 
in an orchard on a farm near the city." 


The Moravian missionaries arrived in Detroit in 1781, when 
the Indians held a war council in the presence of those mission- 
aries and De Peyster, the commandant. The Indian chief, known 
as Captain Pike, told De Peyster that the English might fight 
the Americans if they wished ; they had raised the quarrel among 
themselves and it was they who should fight it out. The English 
had set him on the Americans just as a hunter sets his dog on the 
game, but the Indians would play the dog's part no longer. 

Kish-kaw-ko and another warrior stood by the British com- 
mandant. The former carried a hickory cane about four feet long, 
ornamented — or, rather, strung with scalps of Americans, together 
with a tomahawk, presented to him by De Peyster, some time pre- 
viously. He concluded his address to the commandant thus : 

"Now, father, here is what has been done with the hatchet 
you gave me. I have made the use of it you ordered me to do, 
and have found it sharp." 

A few days after this council the Moravians left Detroit for 
their new homes on the Riviere aux Hurons (Clinton). 

The English at Detroit, it appears, suspecting that a certain 
set of pious Moravians on the Muskingum River were sympa- 
thizers with the Americans, called a conference of the tribes at 
Niagara, and urged the fierce Iroquois to destroy the Moravian 
Indians. But they failed to see where such a massacre would 
benefit themselves and would not fall in with the measure. The 
conference at Detroit, it will be seen, met with like result. 



"He was one of the most ferocious and bloodthirsty chiefs of 
modern times. His influence with his people was great, although 
he was unpopular. He was tall and athletic, and of great decision 
of character. He was always attended by a large retinue when 
he visited Detroit; was peculiar for carrying his war-ax on his 
left arm, tightly grasped by his right hand, as if in the expectation 
of striking. His disposition may be learned from the following: 

"One of his band killed another, at Saginaw. The friends of 
the victim were clamorous for revenge. The murderer's friends 
were desirous of saving him from their vengeance and negotiated 
for his life. The conditions were agreed upon and the property 
offered in fulfillment of the bargain was about to be delivered, 
when Kish-kaw-ko stepped up and struck the murderer dead with 
his tomahawk. When ask^ why he interrupted the proceedings 
and interfered with their lawful agreements, he merely said : 'The 
law is altered.' 

"Big Beaver, like his father, was a powerful and muscular 
savage, and one day, when the jailor's son went to see him, he 
seized him, thrust him to one side, just as he opened the door of 
his cell, locked the door on him, and escaped to the woods. He 
was never retaken, but was, not long afterwards, drowned in 
Saginaw Bay." 

he; was a brave man. 

Referring again to General Cass, and the fearlessness and 
decision displayed in his dealings with the Indians, "Early West- 
ern Days" (by Judge B. F. H. Witherell, in the Wisconsin Histor- 
ical Collections), records: ^ 

"In 1820 General Cass was detailed by the war department to 
make a treaty with the Chippewa Indians, for a tract of land at 
the outlet of Lake Superior for a military post. 

"General Cass took along fifteen or twenty soldiers. Arriving 
at the straits he sent out runners to inform the Indians of his 
arrival and business. 

"On the day appointed about 600 Indians assembled, a major- 
ity of them from the north of the straits. A council was called. 
General Cass explained at length the object of his visit, which 
was to obtain, for the Great Father at Washington, a certain dis- 
trict, or county, upon which to build a fort, where the traders 
could be protected, etc. 


"Robinson was uneasy. He noticed that the Indians were 
mad ; they did not look right ; and when General Cass had con- 
chided his speech, one of the chiefs rose and, in reply, said he did 
not like the Americans ; he did not like the Great Father at Wash- 
ington, and that they would not sell him any of their lands, and 
that if he (General Cass) and his soldiers did not leave they would 
be killed. The chief then reached back, took a spear with a cloth 
around it from another Indian, stuck the shaft into the ground 
and the British flag spread in the breeze to the music of the war- 
whoop of the entire band. 

"General Cass instantly stepped up and took the staff in his 
hand, jerked it out of the ground, tore oft' the flag, threw it down 
and ground it with his heel, fairly hissing out with rage : 

" 'As long as I live that flag shall not float in my presence on 
this side -of the great lakes!' 

" 'Then,' said Robinson, 'I was afraid. I expected they would 
kill us right off.' 

"But not another word was spoken for some minutes. Gen- 
eral Cass and the chief stood looking at each other. At length 
the chief advanced towards Cass, took him by the hand, and said : 

" 'The Great Father at Washington can have the land he 

"The land was selected and a treaty was signed without any 
further difticulty. 

"General Cass," said Robinson, "was the bravest man I ever 



WALK-IN-THE-WATER, the great chief of the Wyan- 
dottes, resided at Monguagon (Wyandotte) on the place 
where the late Major John Biddle built his farm house 
and resided for several years. Walk-in-the- Water's totem was 
a turtle (because it walked in the water). He was a famous chief 
in his day, of fine commanding person, nearly six feet in hight, 
well proportioned and straight as an arrow. He had none of the 
ferocious, morose and savage manner that characterized the great 
chief of the Chippewas, Kish-Kaw-Ko ; he was mild in his deport- 
ment and appeared pleasant and sociable with those who could 
converse with him in the Wyandotte language. He could speak 
only a few words of English. He was highly respected by the 
whites who knew him and his own people respected him for his 
wisdom and prudence in council and for his valor in war. 

He led his warriors against General Wayne, whom the 
Indians generally called General Waw-bunk (or General Tomor- 
row). Nearly all the warriors of his tribe that followed him to 
that battle, fell in the action, and he barely escaped. After the 
defeat of Harmer and St. Clair, the old inhabitants used to say, 
that long poles strung with the scalps of our soldiers were daily 
paraded through the streets of Detroit, then a British post, accom- 
panied by the demoniac scalp yells of the warriors who had taken 
them — but after the battle of the Maumee, not a scalp was seen ; 
the bayonets of the Tub-Regions roused them so rapidly from 
their coverts that they with difficulty brought off their own scalps. 
After the commencement of the war of 1812, and after Gen- 
eral Hull had arrived at this post, Walk-in-the- Water and his 
Wyandottes asked to be employed in the service of the United 
States. General Hull, under orders from the government, declined 
and advised them to remain in peace at home. They were soon 
after exposed to the attacks of the British troops and their Indian 


allies from Maiden — these threatened the Wyandottes with exter- 
mination unless they would raise the tomahawk for the Saga-nosh 
(the British). The late Judge James Witherell, who had been 
an officer of the revolutionary army, at the request of the execu- 
tive, accepted the command of a battalion of volunteers in the 
service of the United States. He strongly urged upon General 
Hull the necessity of establishing a stockade at Monguagon or 
Brownstown, with a garrison strong enough to resist any sudden 
attack, for the double purpose of keeping up the communication 
with Ohio, and to aid the Wyandottes in protecting themselves; 
the general at last consented and ordered him to take a few com- 
panies of troops with entrenching tools and proceed in boats to 
Monguagon or Brownstown for that purpose. The boats were 
got ready, the entrenching tools were on board, and the troops 
embarked, when the vacillating course, which characterized the 
whole of General Hull's conduct, again showed itself and the fol- 
lowing order was received : 

Major Withe:re:i.l : 

Sir — General Hull has ordered me to call for the entrench- 
ing tools you have in your charge or can obtain, including those 
that were delivered to go to Brownstown ; you will be so good as 
to deliver to the bearer. Tayi^gr Be;rry, Q. M. 

July 2."], 18 1 2. . 

After awhile he again induced the general to make the 
attempt to establish a post an^ to open the communication with 
Ohio. And he was again ordered to proceed with his own com- 
mand, Dequindre's Rifles, Smith's Dragoons, Forsyth's Artillery, 
and some companies of the Fourth United States Infantry and a 
few Ohio Volunteers. They set out for Ohio, expecting to meet 
the enemy below the Ecorse. On reaching the Rouge General 
Hull sent an aid with the following order : 

Sandwich, 3d August, 1812. 

Sir — I have received your letter of this day. I wish you to 
cross the River Rouge with your main force, until I send a rein- 
forcement or vmtil you hear from me ; take an advantageous posi- 
tion on this side of the River Rouge, and remain until you receive 
further orders. I am respectfully yours, 

William Hull, 

B. Genl. Commanding. 



Walk-in-the- Water and his warriors soon discovered that 
they were to receive no protection or assistance, and being too few 
to defend themselves, they joined the enemy, though their hearts 
were never with the British. 

The next year (1813) Tanke, the Crane, one of the great 
chiefs of the Wyandottes, Hving with a part of his tribe in Ohio, 
and who had joined General Harrison, dispatched one of his trusty 
warriors to the Wyandottes in Maiden, requesting them to leave 
the British service and return home. The delivery of such a mes- 
sage in the camp of the enemy required a high degree of integrity 
and moral courage, yet the brave fellow ''threaded the forest, and 
swam the rivers" and alone entered the camp of the enemy, and 
in a bold manner and fearless tone delivered his message. The 
Wyandottes knew that open compliance would be impossible — 
instant death would have been their lot — and they returned a 
negative answer, but sent a band of their bravest warriors to pro- 
tect the messengers of the Crane, until he reached the Black 
Swamp, and was in safety. The Wyandottes gradually disap- 
peared from the British service. 

Following the treaty of Brownstown Walk-in-the-Water, 
after some urging, gave to the late Judge Witherell his opinion of 
the origin and creation of the earth, etc. It shows that he had 
mingled biblical revelations with his pagan ideas. 

Walk-in-the-Water died about the year 18 17. He was a man 
of strong mind and sound common sense, and had he been an edu- 
cated white man he would have risen to a high position in the 
nation ; yet how dark, bewildered and crude were his ideas of the 
creation and final destiny of man. 


As Tecumseh was somewhat before my time (as also was 
Kish-Kaw-Ko). I only relate some incidents in regard to him 
picked up from various sources, that I think will be found to be 
rather new ; also James Knaggs' sworn statement and affidavit, 
furnished to General Cass, Detroit, September 28, 1853, ^^ regard 
to the death of Tecumseh, and who killed him, found among the 
papers of the late Judge B. F. H. Witherell. Mr. Knaggs claimed 
to be an eye-witness of the affair. 

Tecumseh was not only an accomplished military commander, 
but a natural statesman and diplomat. A strong natural charac- 


teristic was exhibited by him at the council, held by General Har- 
rison at Vincennes in 181 1. Tecumseh had heard the demands 
and charges, and in reply made some striking hits at the general. 
Having finished one of his speeches he looked around, and seeing 
every one seated, while no seat was prepared for him, a moment- 
ary frown passed over his countenance. Instantly General Har- 
rison ordered that a chair be given him. One of the officers pre- 
sented one, and bowing to him said : 

"Warrior, your father. General Harrison, offers you a seat." 
Tecumseh's eyes flashed. "My father!" he exclaimed indig- 
nantly, extending his arm toward the heavens, "the sun is my 
father and the earth is my mother ; she gives me nourishment and 
I repose upon her bosom," and then sat down upon the ground. 

General Brock at one time took the sash from his own waist, 
and placed it around the body of Tecumseh, who seemingly appre- 
ciated the honor, but the next day he was observed not to be 
wearing his sash, and General Brock, fearing that something had 
displeased him, sent his interpreter for an explanation. On report- 
ing, the latter said that Tecumseh did not wish to wear a mark of 
distinction, while there was an older and better warrior than him- 
self present and hence he had transferred the sash to the Wyan- 
dotte chief, Roundhead. 

The following was found in the diary of a British officer : 

"In the skirmish in which my command and a party of our 
allies were engaged with the Americans, one of their officers was 
wounded, when two Indians rushed in to take his scalp. The 
American officer, bethought himself to give a Masonic signal, 
when one of the Indians immediately sprang forward and caught 
him in his arms. The Indian was Tecumseh." 


Here follows the affidavit in regard to the death of Tecumseh : 

Detroit, September 28, 1853. 

"General Cass: Dear Sir — I read with interest your 
remar*ks in the senate of the United States, last winter, relative to 
the death of Tecumseh, in which you expressed the opinion that 
he fell by the hand of Colonel Johnson. 

Honorably and actively engaged as you were in all the stir- 
ring events of the war of 1812, on this frontier, your opinion, 


made up from circumstances at the time, and being yourself on 
the field of battle, is entitled to great weight. 

The affidavit of Captain James Knaggs, with whom, as with 
nearly all our old citizens, I believe, you are acquainted, will, I 
think, set the question at rest. 

Being at the River Raisin a few days since, I called on Cap- 
tain Knaggs, who was a brave and intrepid soldier, in the Ranger 

He stated to me all the circumstances of the battle on the 
Thames, as far as they came within his knowledge, and at my 
request, he made an affidavit (a copy of which I herewith send 
you), narrating so much of the action as is connected with the 
death of the great chief. . 

Colonel Johnson stated at the time, and afterwards often 
reiterated it, that he killed an Indian with his pistol, who was 
advancing upon him at the time his horse fell under him. The 
testimony of Captain Knaggs shows conclusively that it could 
have been no other than Tecumseh. 

Colonel Johnson, when last here, saw and recognized Captain 
Knaggs and Mr. Labadie as the men who bore him from the field 
in his blanket. 

The transaction is of some little importance in history, as the 
ball that bore with it the fate of the great warrior dissolved at once 
the last great Indian confederacy, and gave peace to our frontier. 

I am, respectfully yours, etc., B. F. H. Withkrell. 

State of Michigan, County of Monroe, ss. 

James Knaggs deposeth and saith as follows : 

I was attached to a company of mounted men called Rangers, 
at the battle of the Thames, in Upper Canada, in the year 18 13. 
During the battle, we 'charged into the swamp, where several of 
our horses mired down, and an order was given to retire to the 
hard ground in our rear, which we did. The Indians in front, 
believing that we were retreating, immediately advanced upon us, 
with Tecumseh at their head. I distinctly heard his voice, with 
which I was perfectly familiar. He yelled like a tiger, and urged 
on his braves to the attack. We were then but a few yards apart. 
We halted on the hard ground, and continued our fire. After a 
few minutes of very severe firing, I discovered Colonel Johnson 
lying near, on the ground, with one leg confined by the body of his 


white mare, which had been killed, and had fallen upon him. My 
friend, Medard Labadie, was with me. We went up to the colonel, 
with whom we were previously acquainted, and found him badly 
wounded, lying on his side, with one of his pistols lying in his 
hand. I saw Tecumseh at the same time, lying on his face, dead; 
and about fifteen or twenty feet from the colonel. He was 
stretched at full length, and was shot through the body, I think, 
near the heart. The ball went out through his back. He held his 
tomahawk in his right hand (it had a brass pipe on the,head of 
it) ; his arm was extended as if striking, and the edge of the toma- 
hawk was stuck in the ground. Tecumseh was dressed in red 
speckled leggings and a fringed hunting shirt; he lay stretched 
directly towards Colonel Johnson. When we went up to the col- 
onel, we offered to help him. He replied with great animation. 
"Knaggs, let me lay here, and push on and take Proctor." How- 
ever, we liberated him from his dead horse, took hs blanket from 
his saddle, placed him in it, and bore him off the field. I had 
known Tecumseh from my boyhood ; we were boys together. 
There was no other Indian killed immediately around where Col- 
onel Johnson or Tecumseh lay, though there were many near the 
small creek a few rod*s back of the place where Tecumseh fell. 

I had no doubt then, and have none now, that Tecumseh fell 
by the hand of Colonel Johnson. James Knaggs. 

Sworn to before me this 226. day of September, 1853. 

B. F. H. WlTHEREIvIv, 

Notary Public. 

Tecumseh left a son about 17 years of age, when he was slain, 
to whom King George HI., in 1814, sent a present of a sword as 
a mark of respect to the memory of his father. 

When Colonel Richard M. Johnson was running for vice- 
president I heard him deliver a campaign speech here from the 
balcony of the Russell House, and during the speech some one in 
the crowd cried out, "Who killed Tecumseh?" 

''Well," the colonel said, ''while the battle was progressing 
(referring to the battle of the Thames) "I saw a stalwart Indian 
warrior approaching me with uplifted tomahawk. I was mounted, 
and, drawing a pistol from my holsters, shot him dead. On exam- 
ining the fallen Indian, they all averred that it was Tecumseh, and 
I have never doubted but that it was." 




Macaunse was a brave and sometimes sanguinary Chippewa 
chief and warrior. His home was on the border of Lake St. 
Clair, L'anse Cruz Bay. I have been to his lodge in company 
with my uncle, Thomas Palmer (father of the senator), when 
on winter excursions to his possessions in the village of Palmer 
(now St. Clair City) in 1830. The chief was well-to-do, and 
entertained us with genuine hospitality. He often visited the 
city, where he had many friends among the old French Inhab- 
itants. Joseph Campau, Peter Desnoyers, Major Antoine De- 
Quindre and others. When I came here in 1827 the half of the 
first floor of Mr. Joseph Campau's residence on Jefferson Avenu'e 
was devoted to a store and office, the store in front and the office 
in the rear. In this store he had a small stock of Indian goods, to 
supply, in a measure, the wants of his good friends, the Indians. 
This he kept up until about 1840, when most of the Indians in 
Michigan were removed by the government beyond the Missis- 

Mr. Campau was indeed the friend of- the red men of the 
entire northwest, and they heartily returned the feeling. He could 
talk their language, and every chief of note knew him intimately, 
and came to him for counsel and advice. I have seen, often and 
often, in the summer season, scores of them, bucks, squaws and. 
pappooses, squatted on the pavement in front of his place, invad- 
ing his front steps and every available space, as on their visits to 
the city they always made it a point to call on their good friend, 
the great ''Che-mo-Ka-Mun" (white man). 

They never failed to give him an ovation every fall when on 
their way to and from Maiden (Canada) to receive their presents 
from the British government. It was said that he used to make a 
good thing of it, trading or buying outright the articles the Indians 
got at Maiden that they did not need or want. Perhaps he did. 
He was not the only one. 

The only chief of prominence that I remember visiting Mr. 
Campau was Macaunse. I think he belonged to the Chippewa 
tribe of Indians. His lodge and headquarters were on the banks 
of Lake St. Clair, as before mentioned. I have seen him here very 
often, and also at the village of Palmer, now St. Clair City. He 

e;arly days in Detroit. 151 

was a fine specimen of his class, of commanding presence, and 
spoke English fairly well and on these occasions was costumed as 
nearly like a white man as it was possible for an Indian to be ; 
black frock coat, confined around the waist with a wampum sash, 
calico hunting shirt, fringed gaudy vest, broadcloth leggins orna- 
mented with beads and porcupine quills, the outer seams profusely 
decorated with silver ornaments, that gave out a musical jingle 
with each step he took, buckskin mocassins hooked with porcupine 
quills, plug hat ornamented with a broad open worked silver band, 
five or six silver ear-bobs in each ear, and a silver ring through the 
cartilage of his nose. All this, added to his fine physique, made 
him quite the thing. 

He was a brave and sometimes sanguinary Indian, quite as 
bad as the rest of his dusky companions, and any one seeing him 
in his lodge dispensing his hospitality, or quietly and peacefully 
mingling with friends in Detroit or in his own village would 
scarcely believe that he was the murderous savage our friend 
Gagette Tremble describes him to be, further on. 

He was always robed, a state of existence that many of his 
race could not boast of. Extravagantly fond of whisky were these 
Indians, squaws as well as bucks. I have often seen the former, 
when offered a drink of whisky, take a good swig of the article, 
and then fill their mouths to the utmost limit, and deposit the con- 
tents in a little buckskin bag that they carried for the purpose, to 
enjoy at their leisure. 

Among the papers of the late Judge B. F. H. Witherell I find 
an account of the experience of Gagette Tremble, who lived at 
Milk River point, fifteen miles above the city, on the borders of 
Lake St. Clair (now included in Grosse Pointe Village), had with 
Alacaunse, Kish-Kaw-Ko and their bands ; also the experience of 
Richard Connor, Indian trader and interpreter, w^io lived at Con- 
nor's creek, with the same savages. He goes on to say, ''His 
(Tremble's) is a healthy, active, green old age. (He was hale 
and hearty in 1855 at the age of 78 years, the judge says). I met 
him a short time since, joyous and merry, driving his pony and 
charette home from the city, his cheerful countenance beaming 
with pleasure and delight. Some of the old man's adventures in 
former years are worthy of notice. The enemy, as is well known, 
had in 18 13 full possession of the whole territory, and all tfie 
western tribes of Indians had joined them. After the defeat and 
slaughter of our troops on the Raisin, Macaunse, one of the chiefs 


of the Chippewas, came to the house of Tremble, with a bag in his 
hand, and said : 'My friend, I am hungry, I have brought you 
some venison. Have some of it cooked for me.' He then emptied 
the bag on the floor, shaking out the leg of one of our brave but 
unfortunate soldiers who had been killed a few days before under 
Winchester at the Raisin. 

"Tremble's anger rose, and regardless of danger, and the fact 
that he was wholly in the power of the chief and his braves, he 
delivered a volley of the most opprobrious epithets that the Indian 
language afforded, and with foot and fist, gave the chief a severe 
pommeling, kicked him into the highway, and told him, at the 
peril of his life, never to insult a Way-me-ta-goche (white man) 
in that way again. The old chief threatened to kill him, but 
Gagette walked fiercely up to him, looked him in the eye, and said : 
'If you are a brave man, as you say you are, strike now. You are 
ar;iied ; your young men are all around you ; kill me if you dare — 
strike now ; but you are a coward, and no warrior. Puckachee — 
go, go.' The chief never sought revenge ; he felt that Gagette 
was right in his anger. 

"One of Macaunse's band shot one of Tremble's hogs. Gag- 
ette discovered it, hauled it to the house, dressed and salted it. 
The savage begged for a piece — said he was starved, was 
very hungry, and he would have a piece. 'No,' sternly said 
Treroble, 'not a morsel. When did a hungry red man ever come 
to my wigwam and ask for food in vain? Have I not always 
divided with him when I had little ; and when I had much, did I 
not satisfy his hunger, and feed him and his people? But you 
come to rob and steal, and maybe to kill me. Not a bite of the 
cocoche (hog) shall you have.' 

" 'Well,' said the Indian, 'I'll burn your barn then.' He took 
a firebrand and ran to the barn. Gagette seized his rifle and ran 
after him, while the rest of the band looked on to see the result. 
Arriving at the barn the Indian flourished his brand. Gagette 
cocked his rifle and leveled it at his head, and cried out : 'Do it, 
do' it, and you are a dead man.' 

" 'Ty yaw,' said the fellow, and throwing away his fire, he 
walked sullenly off. After that they never tried by force to get 
any of Tremble's pigs. His fists and his rifle, and his well known 
readiness to defend his property, were his protection. 

"Whatever" could be stolen, however, was considered lawful 


prey. One of the most daring feats ever performed by man — one 
that is not exceeded, if equaled in the history of Indian wars — was 
performed by Gagette about the same time. 

The late Henry Connor, so well and favorably known in the 
state, was one of the Indian interpreters. The Indians called him 
Waw-biS-Kin-diss, or white hair. He had once traded at Sagi- 
naw, the stronghold of Kish-Kaw-Ko and his band. Connor had 
in sorne way incurred the ill-will of the chief, who was impatient 
for revenge ; but he feared Connor, who was a man of dauntless 
courage and stalwart frame. So the old savage postponed his ven- 
geance until a safe opportunity should occur. 

''The war came on and Connor was ordered out of the coun- 
try by General Proctor. It so happened that his wife and child 
were at what is now known as Mt. Clemens. It then contained but 
one dwelling house, that of the late Colonel Clemens. 

''Mrs. Connor, who still survives, is the sister of Gagette. 
Kish-Kaw-Ko, knowing of Connor's absence, thought that the 
time for revenge had arrived, and started with his guard (he 
always had some fifteen or twenty armed warriors about him) for 
Mt. Clemens, with the design of murdering Mrs. Connor and her 
child. It is an Indian custom to kill the nearest relation of their 
enemy when he is out of their reach. 

"Gagette's younger brother heard of the old chief's designs, 
and immediately sent word to him of the threatened danger. He 
was at work in a field, at a distance from his house when the word 
was brought to him. He was ten miles from Mt. Clemens, and 
felt that no time was to be lost. His sister might even then have 
fallen under the war club or battle ax. He was wholly unarmed, 
had on only his shirt and pants, with a blue handkerchief tied 
around his head. Minutes seemed ages. He instantly leaped upon 
his faithful Sorrel, as he called his pony, which happened to be 
feeding near, and, without saddle or bridle, away he flew, cleared 
the fences at a bound, and through swamp and forest he held his 
headlong way, lashing his nag to his utmost speed, and in an 
almost incredibly short space of time, his pony, covered with foam, 
reached the door of the colonel's house which Kish-Kaw-Ko and 
his warriors were plundering. He sprang from his horse. His 
pent-up wrath was burning high as he rushed into the house. Old 
Kish and his men saw him enter, and knowing his terrible violence 
when justly aroused and his dauntless courage at all times, and 



feeling moreover guilty, they instantly sat down and drew their 
blankets over their heads and were silent. 

"Gaggette's wrath exploded with a perfect tornado of Indian 
billingsgate, he gave full scope to his anger. When his eye caught 
the giant form of Kish-Kaw-Ko his wrath fairly boiled over, he 
sprang upon him like a tiger, jerked his blanket from his head and 
showered his blows like winter rainfall in the old chief's face, till 
the blood spouted from his nose and mouth ; then, rapidly passing 
to the others, he pulled away their blankets, slapped their faces, 
and returning to Kish, he gave him another pounding, saying, 
'You old murderer, you have^ come here to kill my sister, have 
you? You cowardly old villain. You have killed women and 
children. You are not afraid of squaws and pappooses, but you 
fear a brave man. If you don't, here is one — try me (striking his 
fist on his own bosom). Come on, coward — dog, strike. Go home 
and never show a murderer's face here again. The Green Bird (a 
brave chief of the Tiger band, and a deadly enemy of Kish), told 
me that you were a coward and a woman. You are no warrior, 
no brave.' 

*'A young brother of Gagette, a mere boy, was present, and 
says that he fully expected instant death, but Gagette's sudden 
burst of insane fury seemed to have completely paralyzed the sav- 
ages. Not one of them stirred ; but received his vigorous blows, 
dealt out, right, left and center, as they were, without a word or 

''Having found that Mrs. Connor had been sent in a' canoe 
down the Clinton river (then called the Upper Huron) to a 
place of safety, before the arrival of the Indians, Gagette gave 
them a parting blessing in his own peculiar way, and telling them 
that the next time they went on an expedition to murder women 
and children, they would find him on hand, he mounted his Sorrel 
and ambled off at a careless, easy gait, to his home on the point — 
and though a quiet, peaceable citizen, he is yet ready for another 
fight, if the like occasion requires it. 

"Mount Clemens was then in the Indian country — there was 
no white man's dwelling between that of Colonel Clemens and the 
North Pole. The life of the good and brave old colonel was, dur- 
ing the war, often in peril from civilized and savage foes — he was 
a while in service with the Michigan troops." 




It was at the Mansion House in Detroit and when Colonel 
Mack was landlord that I saw the Indian warrior and chief, the 
celebrated Black Hawk, and party. They were here on July 
Fourth, 1833, on their way home after their imprisonment in 
Fortress Monroe. Black Hawk and party put up at the Mansion 
House, staying there three or four days, and I had the opportunity 
of seeing them often. I quote from the diary of an English gen- 
tleman who was a fellow passenger on the steamer that brought 
them from Buffalo. 

''Black Hawk is a slight-made man, about 50 or 55 years old, 
and stands five feet five or six inches tall. He is, dressed in a 
short blue frock coat, white hat and leggins tied around below the 
knee with garters. He carries his blanket folded under his arm. 
His shirt is not very clean, and his face is of a very dark com- 
plexion, much like our gypsies. The cartilages, as well as the 
lobes of his ears, are loaded with glass bugle ornaments, his nose 
perforated very wide between the nostrils so as to give the appear- 
ance of the upper and lower mandibles of a hawk. He wears 
light-colored kid gloves and walking stick with a tassel. His son 
is a fine looking young man, with what might be called an open 
countenance. He carries his head high and looks about him. He 
is covered with a scarlet blanket or cloth and wears nothing on .his 
head but a feather or two stuck in his hair, and great bunches of 
bugles in his ears. His face and bosom are painted red and his 
forehead either painted or tattooed with a band. His hair is 
turned up in front and pompatumed. He has many ornaments 
about him and little bells that jingle as he walks. The prophet is 
covered with a green blanket or mantle." 

As said before, I saw Black Hawk and party many times, and 
must say that the Englishman has given a good pen-picture of 
them. The son was, indeed, a fine specimen of the Indian athlete. 
He looked, as he was, the beau ideal of the Indian warrior, a tall, 
brawny, muscular fellow, and handsome, too. His scalp-lock 
was twisted full of gorgeous feathers, silver medals adorned his 
breast, and silver bracelets clasped his wrists and arms. A scarlet 
blanket was thrown in the most negligent manner across his 
shoulders, and his nether garments were plentifully ornamented 
with porcupine quills and silver bobs. As he stood there on the 

156 i:ari.y days in de:troit. 

porch or veranda of the hotel, having taken this pose evidently for 
effect, he attracted more attention than did all the rest of the 
party, particularly from the female portion of the community. 
But he received it all without betraying the slightest intere'fet in 
what was going on around him, and without a shadow of emotion. 
Indeed, they all behaved in the same manner ; that is where the 
Indian of it comes in. I have seen many good specimens of the 
Indian brave, but I think this son of Black Hawk excelled them 
all, a noble specimen of physical beauty, a model for those who 
would embody the idea of strength. 

Ex-Senator Jones, in a speech made September 29, 1894, 
said : "When the Black Hawk war came on in 1832, General H. 
Dodge sent his adjutant and his son, H. ly. Dodge, to my home to 
ask me to serve him as aid-de-camp in the war which seemed 
inevitable. I readily accepted the invitation, as only a few days 
before my brother-in-law, who was agent for the Indians who 
were making the trouble, was killed by the red devils. They cut 
off his head, his hands and his feet and then cut his heart into 
chunks, which the young bucks ate, he being judged the bravest 
who could swallow the largest *piece without chewing it." 

Mr. J. C. Sabine, who came here in the early days, says that 
he, too, saw Black Hawk and party, when here. He also says that 
Senator T. W. Palmer had the proud distinction, when quite an 
infant, of being held for a few moments in the old chief's arms. 
His nurse had him out for an airing one morning, and they met 
Black Hawk and his son, who were out for a stroll. The old chief 
took notice of the child, and, taking him up in his arms, said, 
''Fine pappoose, but him too dark for white pappoose," and the 
senator was dark at that age, two years. 

Dr. J. L. Whiting, in his reminiscences published some years 
ago, says among other things, speaking of Black Hawk and his 
son : "On their return from Washington they stopped a while in 
Detroit. I saw them both. Young Black Hawk fell desperately 
in love with a prominent society belle and wanted to honor her 
by making her his squaw. She declined the proferred dignity, 
for reasons best known to herself, but she never married, and is 
still living in single blessedness at Mackinac." 

The lady in question was Miss Sophia Biddle, daughter of 
Edward Biddle, Esq., of Mackinac. 




The command of Colonel Dudley, which consisted of 800 
Kentucky militia, completely succeeded in driving the British 
from their batteries on the left bank of the Maumee Rivei? 
and spiking their cannon. Having accomplished this object, 
his orders were to return at once to his boats and cross to 
the fort; but the blind confidence which usually attends militia 
when successful, proved their ruin. Although repeatedly ordered 
by Colonel Dudley and warned of their danger, and called upon 
from the fort to leave the ground, and although there was abun- 
dant time for that purpose before the British reinforcements 
arrived, yet they began a pursuit of the Indians and suffered 
themselves to be drawn into an ambuscade by some feint skirmish- 
ing, while the British troops and large bodies of Indians were 
brought up and intercepted their return to the river. Elated with 
their first success, they considered their victory as already gained, 
and pursued the enemy nearly two miles into the woods and 
swamps, where they were suddenly caught in a defile and sur- 
rounded by double their numbers. Finding themselves in this 
situation, consternation prevailed ; their line became broken and 
disordered and huddled together in unresisting crowds, they were 
obliged to yield to the fury of the savages. 

Fortunately for these unhappy victims of their own rashness. 
General Tecumseh commanded at this ambuscade, and had imbibed 
since his appointment more humane feelings than his brother 
Proctor. After the surrender, and when all resistance had ceased, 
the Indians finding 500 prisoners at their mercy, began the work 
of massacre with the most savage delight. Tecumseh sternly 
forbade it and buried his tomahawk in the head of one of his 
chiefs who refused obedience. This order, accompanied with his 
decisive manner of enforcing it, put an end to the massacre. Of 
800 men only 150 escaped. The remainder were slain or made 
prisoners. , 


Captain Knaggs, who made the affidavit in regard to the 
killing of Tecumseh, is thus spoken of by the late Judge B. F. H. 
Witherell : 

"Captain Knaggs is a highly respected citizen of Monrge, 
and was one of the most active and useful partisans during the 
war of 1812. Almost innumerable and miraculous were his 'hair- 
breadth 'scapes' from the savages. 


*'He related to me, when I last saw him, several anecdots of 
Tecumseh, which will illustrate his character. Amongst others, 
he states that while the enemy was in full possession of the coun- 
try, Tecumseh, with a large band of his warriors, visited the 
Raisin. The inhabitants along that river had been stripped of 
nearly every means of subsistence. Old Mr. Rivard, who was 
lame and unable to procure a living for himself and family, had 
contrived to keep out of sight of the wandering bands of savages 
a pair of oxen, with which his son was able to procure a scanty 
support for the family. It so happened that while at labor with 
the oxen Tecumseh, who had come over from Maiden, met him 
on the road, and, walking up' to him, said: 

" 'My friend, I must have those oxen. My young men are 
very hungry ; they have had nothing to eat. We must have the 

"Young Rivard remonstrated. He told the chief that if he 
took the oxen his father would starve to death. 

" 'Well,' said Tecumseh, 'we are the conquerors, and every- 
thing we want is ours. I must Have the oxen ; my people must 
not starve ; but I will not be so mean as to rob you of them. I 
will pay you $100 for them, and that is far more than they are 
worth ; but we must have them.' 

"Tecumseh got a white man to write an order on the British 
Indian agent, Colonel Elliot, who was on the river some distance 
below, for the money. The oxen were killed, large fires built, and 
the forest warriors were soon feasting on their flesh. Young 
Rivard took the order to Colonel Elliot, who promptly refused to 
pay it. 'We are entitled to our support from the country we 
have conquered ; I will not pay it.' The young man, with a sor- 
rowful heart, returned with the answer to Tecumseh, who said : 
'He won't pay it, won't he? Stay all night, and tomorrow we 
will go and see.' On the next morning he took young Rivard and 
went down to see the colonel. On meeting him he said : 

" 'Do you refuse to pay for the oxen I bought ?' 

" 'Yes,' said the colonel, and he reiterated the reason for 

" 'I bought them,' said the chief, 'for my young men were 
very hungry. I promised to pay for them, and they shall be paid 
for. I have always h^ard that white nations went to war with 
each other, and not with peaceful individuals ; that they did not 
rob and plunder poor people. I will not.' 

Well,' said the colonel, 'I will not pay for them.' 

(I i^ 

e:ARLY days in DETROIT. 1 59 

" *You can do as you please,' said the chief, 'but before 
Tecumseh and his warriors came to fight the battfes of the great 
king they had enough to eat, for which they had only to thank the 
Master of Life and their good rifles. Their hunting grounds sup- 
plied them with food enough ; to them they can return.' 

''The threat produced a change in the colonel's mind. The 
defection of the great chief, he well knew, would . immediately 
withdraw all the nations of the red men from the British service, 
and without them they were nearly powerless on the frontier. 

" 'Well,' said the colonel, 'if I must pay, I will.' 

" 'Give me hard money,' said Tecumseh, not rag money (armv 

"The colonel then counted out a hundred dollars in coin, and 
gave them to him. The chief handed the money to young Rivard, 
and then said to the colonel : 

" 'Give me one dollar more.' It was given, and, handing that 
also to Rivard, he said :^ "Take that ; it will pay for the time you 
have lost in getting your money.' 

"How manv white warriors have such notions of justice? 
Before the commencement of the war, when his hunting parties 
approached the white settlements, horses and cattle were occasion- 
ally stolen, but notice to the chief failed not to produt:e instant 

"The character of Tecumseh was that of a gallant and 
intrepid warrior, an honest and honorable man ; and his memory 
is respected by all our old citizens who personally knew him." 


The following letter from the late venerable General Combs, 
of Kentucky, who bore so gallant a part in the defense of tho Ohio 
and the Maumee valley, in regard to Tecumseh, will, I think, be 
found interesting. It is copied from "The Records of the Miumee 
Valley" : 

Editor Historical Record : You ask for a description of the 
celebrated Indian warrior, Tecumseh, from my present observa- 
tion. I answer that I never saw the chief but once, and then under 
rather exciting circumstances, but I have a vivid recollection of. 
him from his appearance and from intercourse with his personal 
friends,- 1 am possessed of accurate knowledge of his character. 

I was, as you know, one of the prisoners taken at what is 
known as the Dudley's defeat on the banks of the Maumee River, 
opposite Fort Meigs, early in May, 1813. Tecumseh had fallen 


on our rear, and we were compelled to surrender. We were 
marched down to the old Fort Miami, or Maumee, in squads, 
where a terrible scene awaited us. The Indians, fully armed with 
guns, war clubs and tomahawks — to say nothing of scalping 
knives, had formed themselves into two lines in front of the gate- 
way between which all of us were bound to pass. Many were 
killed or wounded in running the gauntlet. Shortly after the 
prisoners had entered, the Indians rushed over the walls and again 
surrounded us, and raised the war-whoop, at the same time mak- 
ing unmistakable demonstrations of violence. We all expected to 
be massacred, and the small British guard around us were utterly 
unable to afford protection. They called loudly for General Proc- 
tor and Colonel Elliot to come to our relief. At this critical 
moment Tecumseh came rushing in, deeply excited and denounced 
the murderers of prisoners as cowards. Thus our lives were 
spared and we were sent down to the fleet at the mouth of Swan 
creek (now Toledo), and from that place across the end of the 
lake to Huron and paroled. 

I shall never forget the noble countenance, gallant bearing 
and sonorous voice of that remarkable man, while addressing his 
warriors in our behalf. He was then between forty and forty-five 
years of age. His frame was vigorous and robust, but he was not 
fat, weighing about one hundred and seventy pounds. Five feet 
ten inches was his height. He had a high, projecting forehead, 
and broad, open countenance ; and there was something noble and 
commanding in all his actions. He was brave, humane and gen- 
erous, and never allowed a prisoner to be massacred if he could 
prevent it. At Fort Miami he saved the lives of all of us who had 
survived running the gauntlet. He afterwards released seven 
Shawanese. belonging to my command, and sent them home on 
parole. Tecumseh was a Shawanese. His name signified in their 
language. Shooting Star. At the time when I saw him he held the 
commission of a brigadier-general in the British army. I am sat- 
isfied that he deserved all that was said of him by General Cass 
and Governor Harrison, previous to his death. 

Lexington, Ky., October, 1871. Leslie Cxdmbs. 


During the siege of Fort Meigs it narrowly escaped" destruc- 
tion. Many of the enemy's balls were red-hot and were directed 
to a small blockhouse within the fort where the powder had been 


removed. Whenever their balls struck they raised a cloud of 
smoke and made a frightful hissing. An officer seeing the danger 
cried out, "Boys, who will volunteer to cover this blockhouse?" 
No second call was needed, and a more than sufficient number 
sprang to execute the officer's request. As soon as they reached 
the spot there came a ball and took off a man's head. The spades 
and dirt flew faster than ever. In the midst of the job, a bomb- 
shell fell on the roof, and lodging on one of the braces it spun 
around for a moment. Every man fell flat on his face, and breath- 
lessly awaited the explosion which they expected would end their 
days then and there. Only one of the party saw fit to reason on 
the case. He silently argued that as the shell had not bursted as 
quickly as it ought, there might be something wrong in its makeup. 
If it should burst where it was, and the magazine exploded, there 
could be no escape ; it was death anyhow ; so he sprang to his 
feet, seized a boat-hook, and pulling the sputtering missile to the 
ground, and jerking the smoking match from its socket, discov- 
ered that the shell was filled with inflammable matter, which, if 
once ignited, would have wrapped the whole building in a sheet of 
flame. This circumstance added wings to their shovels, and the 
party were right glad when the officer said: ''That will do; go 
to your lines." 


Mr. Joseph R. Underwood, who was present at the defeat of 
Colonel Dudley in the capacity of lieutenant in a volunteer com- 
pany of Kentuckians, commanded by Captain John C. Morrison, 
has this to say: 

''Colonel Elliot and Tecumseh, the celebrated Indian chief, 
rode into the garrison. When Elliot came to where Thos. Moore, 
of Clark County, stood, the latter addressd him, and inquired 'if, 
it was compatible with 'the honor of a civilized nation, such as the 
British claim to be, to suffer defenseless prisoners to be murdered 
by savages.' Elliot desired to know who he was. Moore replied 
that he was nothing but a private in Captain Morrison's company 
and here the conversation ended. 

"Elliot was an old man. His hair might have been termed, 
with more propriety, white than gray, and to my view he had 
more of the savage in his countenance than Tecumseh. This cel- 
ebrated chief was a noble, dignified personage. His face was 
finely proportioned, his nose inclined to the aquiline, and his eye 


displayed none of the savage and ferocious triumph common to 
the other Indians on that occasion. He seemed to regard us with 
unmoved composure, and I thought a beam of mercy shone in his 
countenance, tempering the spirit of vengeance inherent in his 
race against the American people. I saw him only on horseback." 


For the Indian, cruel and revengeful as he was, there is some 
apology, and time has in a measure conceded it. Since the land- 
ing of our forefathers on Plymouth Rock until the present day the 
crusade has been ever against the Indian. He resisted the inva- 
sion of the whites on his domain, with all the means in his power, 
throughout all the wide empire we claim to own, which once 
called him master. They have fought the relentless crusade step 
by step (as we white people would have done), until the last rem- 
nants of that once numerous and powerful race are few in num- 
ber and scattered to the winds, as it were ; soon they will be 
nothing but a memory — a tradition. 


"Ye say they all have passed away, 

That noble race and brave — 
That their light canoes have vanished ^ ^ 

From off the crested wave; 
That 'mid the forest where they 'roamed 

There rings no hunter's shout; 
But their name is on your waters, 

Ye may not wash it out. 

"Ye say their cone-like cabins 

That clustered o'er the vale 
Have fled like withered leaves 

Before the autumn gale ; 
But their memory liveth on your hills, 

Their baptism on your shore; 
Your everlasting rivers speak 

Their dialect of yore. 

"Ye call these red-browed brethren 

The insects of the hour, 
Crushed like the noteless worm amid 

The regions of their power ; 
Ye drive them from their father's lands 

Ye break the faith, the seal. 
But can ye from the Court of Heaven 

Exclude their last appeal !" 




THE City Guards were the first uniformed infantry company. 
The present Light Guards are the lineal descendants of 
the Brady Guards, and the Brady Guards of the City 
Guards. The City Guards were organized at a meeting held 
in the parlor of the old Steamboat Hotel in the winter of 1 830-1. 
Among those present were General John E. Schwarz, Colonel 
Edward Brooks, R. E. Roberts, Chas. R. Desnoyers, Joseph Alex- 
ander, Jas. W. Sutton, Geo. Moran, B. B. Moore and Virgil 
McGraw. Colonel Brooks, who was an officer under General 
Harrison at the battle of the River Thames, was chosen captain, 
and Isaac T. Rowland, a 'graduate of West Point, was first lieu- 
tenant, and R. E. Roberts was orderly sergeant. 

In 1 83 1 there was one other military company in the city, 
but it was one of cavalry, commanded by Chas. Jackson, an artil- 
lery company, raised previously by Captain Ben Woodworth, hav- 
ing been broken up. 


The Black Hawk war broke out in Illinois in 1832, and Mich- 
igan troops were called upon to aid the United States forces. 
Accordingly the militia, under the command of Major-General 
John R. Williams, were ordered to appear for muster at Ten 
Eyck's, near Dearborn, on the 24th of May, the only uniformed 
companies in the command being the City Guard and the IJght 
Dragoons, of which Chas. Jackson was captain, Garry Spencer 
first lieutenant, John Farrar second lieutenant, and James Han- 
mer third lieutenant. At the muster of the First Regiment, Mich- 
igan militia, it was ordered to furnish a detachment of 250 men 
to be under the command of Col. Edward Brooks, who was pro- 
moted from the captaincy of the guard to the colonency of the 
regiment, Lieutenant Rowland being promoted to the captaincy. 
Volunteers were called for, and not a member of the company 


except the commissioned officers stepped forward. General Wil- 
liams, who had been told that all would volunteer, asked what the 
apparent mutiny meant, whereupon First Sergeant R. E. Roberts 
advanced and said that ''the City Guard is an organized military 
company and ready to obey orders." The order was then given, 
"City Guards, five paces to the front, march !" The command was 
obeyed, and the men sworn into the service. The detachment, 
with the cavalry, went as far as Saline, and was then ordered to 
return to Detroit. This order was countermanded, and while the 
troops were at Ann Arbor, they were ordered to join General 
Brown's command at Dexter, and, there being no camp equipage 
provided, the men contributed their money, watches and other 
valuables to raise a fund for its purchase, but before another 
twenty-four hours had elapsed the company was again ordered 
back to Detroit, and this time there was no revocation. General 
Williams with the dragoons went on to Chicago and thence to the 
Naper settlement in Illinois, remaining.there until the termination 
of the war. 

On the return of the detachment it encamped on the com- 
mons, near the old capitol, where a bountiful mess was prepared 
and the 'men had the first square meal since leaving home. Hard 
bread and raw salt pork was all that was supplied them on the 
march. Some managed to cook the pork on sticks stuck into the 
ground before the camp fires. The young men of the guard were 
unused to such fare and several died shortly after, and others 
were so broken down in health that they never mustered with the 
company again. Many of the guard in the absence of blankets, 
had green Scotch plaid cloaks, then the prevailing fashion, which, 
when strapped on their knapsacks, gave them the appearance of 

The field officers connected with the Detroit command, aside 
from General Williams, were Colonel Edw^ard Brooks, Lieuten- 
ant-Colonel Jonathan D. Davis, Major Benj. Holbrook and Dr. 
John L. Whiting, surgeon ; Captain Louis Davenport having 
charge of the baggage train. 


Tom Williams, son of General John R. Williams, was fourtli 
corporal in the City Guards. When the Guards were ordered 
back Thomas joined the Dragoons under Captain Jackson, and 
went to Chicago, and on arriving there news had just been 


received that the Indians were massacreing settlers at Napier set- 
tlement, some miles beyond. Thomas joined a party of volun- 
teers, under Colonel Brooks, and went to their rescue that night, 
arriving at daybreak next morning. This Tom Williams after- 
wards entered West Point Military Academy, graduated after the 
usual course, entered an infantry regiment as second lieutenant 
and during the civil war was killed a brigadier general at Baton 
Rouge on the Union side. In this engagement he received his 
death wound while leading his command with a ringmg cheer, 
mounted, saying to the Twenty-first Indiana Volunteers : "Boys, 
your field officers are all gone. I will lead you." 

Tom Williams also served through the Mexican and Florida 
wars, with distinction. 

General Williams was also accompanied to Chicago by Major 
Chas. W. Whipple and Major M. Wilson, escorted by Captain 
Jackson's dragoons. Jackson returning to Detroit, the company 
was in command of First Lieutenant Garry Spencer, Second Lieu- 
tenant John Farrar and Third Lieutenant Jame^ H. Hanmer. 

While the command was in Chicago the people of the city, 
on the i8th of June, at a public meeting, adopted and published an 
address to General Williams and the officers and soldiers of his 
command, warmly thanking them *'for the prompt and efficient 
aid rendered them when the citizens of Chicago were without pro- 
tection and had not means of defending themselves." 


The City Guards were again called upon, and this time a 
proclamation of Governor Mason to go to Toledo armed and 
equipped to defend the soil and sovereignty of Michigan against 
the invasion and attempt of Ohio *'to steal their neighbors' land- 
marks," and to capture certain judicial officers, ''who were 
attempting to hold a session of an Ohio court at that place in 
defiance of the statutes of Michigan and the peace and dignity of 
the people thereof." And they went. Under command of Gen- 
eral Joe Brown and the immediate orders of Colonel Warner S. 
Wing, they entered Toledo at i o'clock in the morning, and saw 
the coattails streaming in the air of the Ohio judges and troops as 
they flew from their secret court room. The City Guards, after 
having at the city of Monroe, in a hollow square, with about 2,500 
more Michigan volunteers, sworn ''eternal hostility to Andrew 


Jackson, Ohio and all their legions, and eternal fidelity to Stevens 
Thompson Mason as governor of Michigan," returned to Detroit 
amid the beating of drums and flaunting banners, and were wel- 
comed by the people, as were the Roman legions of old on their 
return from a foreign conquest. Among the names of those who 
composed or went forth on this expedition were such men as Jacob 
M. Howard, Franklin Sawyer, Conrad Ten Eyck, Daniel Good- 
win, Peter Desnoyers, Marshall J. Bacon, Charles M. Bull, George 
D. Bull, George C. Bates and others. 


In 1 83 1 the City Guards escorted Governor Cass from his 
residence to the boat on his departure for Washington to enter the 
cabinet of President Jackson as secretary of war. A carriage had 
been provided for the governor, but he declined it and took his 
position with Captain Brooks at the head of the company, and 
walked bareheaded from his residence on the river bank at the 
west line of the city to the foot of Woodward Avenue, where he 
took the steamer Henry Clay. 

The exact date at which the City Guard ceased to exist is not 
known, but it was previous to the organization of the Brady 
Guard, many of its members being among the original members 
of the latter company. 


The artillery company mentioned as having been organized 
by Uncle Ben Woodworth, and that had such a brief and unevent- 
ful life, was made up of the young element, many of whom, after 
it ceased to exist, entered the ranks of the City Guard, notably 
Anson Burlingame, B. B. Moore, R. E. Roberts, James Sutton, 
and, I think, Geo. Doty. They were not uniformed, but had one 
gun, an iron six-pounder, attached to the gun carriage ; no horses. 
Thy hauled their piece around with drag ropes, as the "fireladdies" 
used to haul their machines in the old days. They seemed to have 
a considerable amount of fun, getting the gun out, hauling it 
around the streets and banging it ofiF on slight provocation. But 
they got it ofif once too often, and with disastrous results. The 
occasion was on a Fourth of July. They were engaged in firing 
a national salute on the Campus Martins, where the Bagley bust 
now is. I do not know who had charge of the breech of the gun, 


but I do know that the late Levi Bishop, who was one of the mem- 
bers of the company, was at the muzzle ramming home the car- 
tridge. A premature discharge sent a large portion of the ramrod 
into one of his arms, the right one, injuring and lacerating it to 
such an extent that it had to be amputated. I was an eye-witness 
of the accident and the amputation of the arm as well. The latter 
operation was performed by Dr. Hurd in his office, corner Wood- 
ward Avenue and Congress Street. Mr. Bishop was at that time 
a journeyman shoemaker, working at his trade. On his recovery 
he concluded to abandon shoemaking and enter the law% and all 
know his subsequent career in that profession. In after years it 
used to be said of him, ''That Fourth of July accident was the 
means of spoiling a poor shoemaker and making a good lawyer." 


The artillery company was dead after this. Their gun came 
to grief also. It was said the cause of the accident lay in the gun 
itself, being, as artillerymen term it, "honey-combed at the breech." 
*'Tom" Peck, a jolly, genial chap, and a member of the company, 
too, procured a sledge-hammer and knocked the gun off its car- 
riage, injuring it m such a way that it was fit only for old iron, 
saying, as he did so, "he'd be d — d if that gun would ever have a 
chance to injure another man." No one appeared to object. 
'Tom" Peck — perhaps some may call him to mind — kept a large 
shoe store in what was called the "Rpublican Block," corner Jef- 
ferson Avenue and Bates Street. I think Bishop was in his 
employ at the time of the accident. 


Before going further I call to mind that there is an account 
somewhere that during the war of 1812 four independent, ununi- 
formed companies called the "Michigan Legion," commanded by 
Major James Witherell, then one of the territorial judges, who 
had been an officer in the American revolution, and was grand- 
father of Senator Thomas W. Palmer. They and their leader 
saw hazardous and arduous service on this frontier during the 
entire w^ar. They were included in Hull's surrender, and Major 
Witherell was taken down the lake as prisoner of war, and only 
submitted to parole at Kingston. 



In 1835 3. force of 100 men or more was employed in grading 
down the high river bank in front of the Cass farm. One day, 
having been given an unHmited supply of whisky, they got into 
a fight. They were too drunk to do much injury to each other, but 
blood flowed freely. The sherifif's posse was powerless to stop 
the fight or make arrests, and as there was no military organiza- 
tion to call upon, there was nothing to do but let them fight it out, 
until night put an end to the battle. This disgraceful scene 
showed the importance of having a military company to call upon 
in such cases. 

Accordingly, in February or March, 1836, John Chester, 
Isaac S. Rowland, Andrew T. McReynolds and Marshal J. Bacon 
met in a room in the old "Smart Block," where the Merrill block 
now is, discussed the question of raising a military compan}-, and 
resolved that they would use their utmost efforts to interest other 
young men in the project, and with such success that on the 2nd of 
April a formal meeting of those favorably disposed, was held, 
with an attendance of thirty-three young men. Colonel John 
Winder was chosen chairman and Geo. C. Bates and John Y. 
Pretty, secretaries. The unanimous conclusion was soon reached 
that a company should at once be formed, and that a number of 
committees were appointed for that purpose. The committee on 
names were discussing earnestly, when Peter E. De Mill suggested 
the name of General Hugh Brady as one which it would be a 
pleasure to honor, and the suggestion was so appropriate that it 
was unanimously accepted by the committee, who reported it to 
the company, when it was adopted by acclamation and a commit- 
tee appointed to ask the general's consent to the use of his name, 
which consent was accorded with thanks for the compliment. 

General Hugh Brady was an officer in the war of 1812. He 
was especially distinguished in the battles of Chippewa and 
Niagara Falls (Lundy's Lane), and was commander of the 
department of the lakes, with headquarters at Detroit, from 1825 
to the time of his death, April 15, 185 1, aged 83 years. He had 
been for fifty-nine years continuously an officer in' the United 
States army. 

The committees on membership, at a subsequent meeting, 
reported the results of their endeavors in that direction. The com- 
mittee also presented a "Pledge of Membership," drawn up by 


Andrew T. McReynolds, and engrossed on parchment by John 
Chester, which had received fifty-seven signatures, which, with 
those added subsequently, swelled the entire membership to 
ninety-seven names, which constitutes the celebrated. 

ROLL o^ 1836. 

The following is a list of officers elected at this meeting: 

Captain — Isaac S. Rowland. 

Lieutenants — First, Marshal J. Bacon ; second, James H. 
Mullett; third, George B. Martin. 

Surgeon — Abram E. Sager, M. D. 

Quartermaster— Henry G. Hubbard. 

Sergeants — Orderly, George C. Bates; second, George C. 
Leib; third, John Chester; fourth, Peter E. DeMill. 

Corporals — First, Jacob M. Howard ; second, John J. Ashley ; 
third, Caleb F. Davis ; fourth, John McReynolds. 

I am under the impression that the first appearance of the 
Guard, fully armed and equipped, was on the 226. £>i February, 
1837, on which occasion the first standard was presented to them 
at the American hotel (now the Biddle house) in the presence of 
Governor Stevens T. Mason and a large concourse of citizens, 
who had watched with eager interest the development of this 
organization embracing as it did the elite of the .male portion of 
Detroit, in every walk of life. At this their first turnout they 
numbered nearly 100 muskets. The flag, presented to the Guard, 
I think, is now in the possession of the state quartermaster general 
at Lansing. 

General Brady subsequently presented the company with a 
handsome flag from the steps of the American hotel (Biddle 
House) . One side of the flag bore the arms of the city of Detroit, 
and on the reverse was. a portrait of one of the Guards, Charles 
W. Penny, and said at that time to be the handsomest man in the 

The flag was painted by Tom Burnham or Caleb F. Davis, 
I forget which. Both were artists well up in their profession. 


The Brady Guards, on their first parade, mustered nearly 100 
(as before mentioned) muskets, and made ^a fine appearance. 
Their captain, Isaac Rowland, was every inch a soldier, and the 


Guards, on this, their first appearance, plainly showed by their 
superb drill and soldiery bearing, that they had been under the 
keen supervision of a West Point graduate. They were given a 
splendid ovation- by the citizens, who had watched with eager 
interest the formation and the nightly drilling of the company in 
the streets. 

Soon after the "Bradys" had completed their organization 
and perfected their uniforms, equipments, etc., the patriot war 
suddenly loomed up on the horizon. Their services were soon 
required to aid the United States in the enforcemnet of our neu- 
trality laws, and which became an imperative necessity. So Gen- 
eral Scott made his requisition for an armed military force from 
Michigan and the ''Young Bradys," like the Coldstream guards, 
rushed to the front and during the winters of 1837 and 1838, for 
three months of each year, were mustered into the service of the 
United States as common soldiers, subject to the rules and articles 
of war. And, as George C. Bates said, "We faithfully performed 
all the duties as such and won the special commendation and 
praise of Generals Scott, Worth and Brady, and the secretary of 
war, as the records will prove. 


"During all this time we pooled our pay, secured a very large 
sum of money, with which we burnished our muskets, mounted 
them with mahogany stocks instead of the old black walnut, pur- 
chased a magnificent camp equippage, and so, at Goat Island, at 
the Falls of Niagara, on July 4, 1838, we took the highest prize 
as the best drilled, most thoroughly uniformed and equipped troop 
on the frontier. We numbered about 100 muskets and our officers 
were Captain L. S. Rowland, Lieutenants A. S. Williams, Edmund 
Kearsley and James A. Armstrong. Our sergeants were George 
C. Bates, John Chester, George Doty and one other, whose name 
escapes me. Our men, every one of them, were the elite of 
Detroit, who voted always as they shot, and who would gladly 
have shot any and all men who violated the laws or defiled the flag 
of the nation." 

The front, to which the guards were ordered, was at Fighting 
Island, near Ecorse and within the boundaries of Canada. Gen- 
eral Brady had his headquarters directly opposite the island, on 
the American shore. 

OUR citize;n soldie;rs. 171 


By Lieutenant Ed. Kearsley and one other officer, General 
Brady sent a message to Colonel Basden, of the Twenty-first 
British foot, in command at Maiden, the purpose of which was 
that he (Brady) and his command would see to it that the Patriots 
on Fighting Island would be prevented from crossing the river ab 
they had threatened. Lieutenant Kearsley returned from his 
interview with the British commander, and proceeded to General 
Brady's headquarters, where he reported to him that on reaching 
Maiden they found Colonel Basden and all his officers at the mess 
table, where they were dining and wining deeply ; that on bein^ 
introduced by the orderly to Colonel Basden and delivering their 
message from General Brady, they were not even asked to be 
seated, but were answered by Colonel Basden ''that while he had 
the highest possible respect for General Brady, whom he had not 
met since the battle of Lundy's Lane in 18 14, where the two regi- 
ments repeatedly crossed bayonets, yet he had none for the United 
States civil service officers or their disposition to enforce their 
neutrality laws ; that he should, regardless of General Brady or 
his command, attack the d — d vagabon(js on Fighting Island 
before daylight the next morning; that he would clean them out 
with grape and canister from his batteries and if they retreated to 
the United States he would follow them th^re and destroy and kill 
them wherever he could overtake them." • 

IN 1.INE; OF battle:. 

The moment this message was delivered the bugle call 
sounded, the drum beat the alarm, and the entire command fell in, 
formed into a hollow square with General Brady in the center, 
who, in a firm, clear voice repeated most distinctly his message 
to Colonel Basden and Basden's unsoldierlike and insulting reply, 
and calling upon Captain Rowland for a half-dozen Brady Guards 
with guide flags he ordered them to pace off the distance on the 
ice from the American shore to mid-channel, which was the 
boundary line between the United States and Canada, and to place 
those flags about 100 rods apart up and down, so as to mark 
clearly and distinctly that portion of the ice which covered Ameri- 
can soil and that which covered the British boundary. When this 
was done Brady moved the command back into line of battle, up 


and dawn the river, and, taking his place about five paces in front 
of the Hne, pointed to those guide flags and straightening himself 
up like the old hero that he was, said : 

Brady's ordi:rs to his troops. 

"Soldiers, you see before you clearly marked out by yonder 
guides the boundary line between the United States and Canada. 
We are here to enforce our laws and to arrest and punish all 
oflfenses and offenders against the United States on this side of 
that line, and to see to it that no foreign power shall intermeddle 
with our rights and duties. My orders to you are as heretofore, 
to arrest and prevent all armed men from proceeding over to 
Fighting Island, to capture and to turn over to the United States 
marshal as prisoners all men who shall retreat from Fighting 
Island to our shore; but if a British officer or soldier in arms 
crosses inside of our lines I charge you all to beat them back, to 
capture and to kill them, if it be necessary to protect our sover- 
eignty, and to guard our soil against the impress of a British sol- 
dier's foot. I have confidence that we can and will successfully 
defend our soil against the intrusion or insolence of a British foe." 

"These orders," Geo. C. Bates, orderly sergeant of the 
Brady Guards, says, "were received by the troops with the wildest 
huzzahs, and then our sentinels resumed their cheerless and chilly 
round. The camp fires were piled high with hickory, beech and 
maple and ash, and the suppers were cooked and the coffee boiled. 
We all waited and watched for what was next to come. That 
fearfully cold night wore on. The officer of the night made his 
grand rounds repeatedly and reported all was well on the Detroit. 
The old general, enveloped in buffalo robes and blankets, knee 
deep, was sleeping in his headquarters. But every man slept with 
his piece loaded, and his right ear listening- sharp and keen for 
the call to arms. About an hour before day an attempt was made 
by the Patriots to run a gun carriage over on the ice in order to 
mount their sole piece of artillery, but this was prevented, and 
the men in charge of it arrested. Almost simultaneously there- 
with the rumbling of heavy artillery was heard on the Canadian 
shore, and very shortly thereafter the whole British Twenty-first 
regiment moved directly up, opposite Fighting Island, took up 
their position on the ice and commenced a heavy cannonade upon 
the Patriot camp. With the first gun fired, the whole of our com- 

OUR ciTizi^N soldie;rs. • 173 

mand turned out under arms, and as the shot from the British bat- 
teries, struck through the branches of the trees on Fighting 
Island, and knocked off the snow and ice, in one instance carrying 
away a Patriot's arm, their track could be followed as distinctly as 
that of the locomotive of a railway train. No sooner had Basden's 
battery fairly opened, than the poor devils on the island began to 
retreat by tens and twenties, and soon the Detroit River was dot- 
ted all over with the fragments of this grand army, and just so 
fast as they came inside our lines, we picked them up, arrested 
them and turned them over to the United States marshal, who sent 
them up by sleigh loads to Detroit, where they were confined in 

"About 10 o'clock, with drums beating and flags flying, Col- 
onel Basden's entire regiment, in two divisions, one above and one 
below the island, marched around in line of battle to cut off the 
retreat and capture these reti;eating ones. No sooner had they 
uncovered themselves from behind the island than our entire com- 
mand was formed in line of battle, and thus awaited the move- 
ments on the other side, and of course with a strong hope that no 
collision should come. The two British detachments marched 
close down to our flags on the boundary, saluted each other, ana 
marched back whence they came, but not a British soldier stepped 
inside the American line. The pluck and coolness and prudence 
of General Hugh Brady, aided by the Brady Guards and their 
comrades, vindicated the rights and maintained the peace and 
dignity of the United States and the people thereof." 

Dr. Theller (Hero of the Schooner Ann) has something 
to say about the Brady Guards on this occasion in his book, "Can- 
ada in 1837-8." It appears there was a party of Patriots congre- 
gated in this city, who conceived the idea of seizing the little 
steainer Erie, lying at her dock in winter quarters, and joining the 
forces at Fighting Island. "Hearing the cannonade they hurried 
their movements, and took possession of the steamer and got their 
arms, etc., on board. At this juncture fresh troops (Patriots) 
came in from St. Clair, Macomb and Oakland Counties, all choice 
riflemen, and joined their comrades on the Erie. They accom- 
plished all this before any alarm was sounded, an excitement was 
created at once by the ringing of bells, and a general feint simul- 
taneous from all directions. However, before they could raise 
steam on board the Erie, the Brady Guards were turned out with 
the United States marshal at their head, and an attempt made to 


seize the boat. Finding all entreaties, commands or threats una- 
vailing, the marshal ordered them to be fired upon. The Bradys 
of course obeyed the order, but being most of them good fellows, 
took good care to fire over their heads, with the exception of one 
who let his bullet strike a barrel of provisions a hardy old Patriot 
was handling, who coolly, and as if a little ofifended, cried out, 
"Take care there ; d — n it, you had a ball in your gun." 


February 22, 1839, the first ball of the company was given 
at the National Hotel (Russell House). The elite of the city 
were present, as were the officers of the United States army sta- 
tioned here and those of the British army stationed at Sandwich 
and Maiden, in full uniform. There being quite a large number 
of United States officers stationed here at that time, they, the 
British officers and the officers, non-commissioned officers and 
privates of the Guards, all in full uniform, aided by the gay 
toilettes of the ladies present, made a most brilliant spectacle. 

The day before the ball the following resolution, offered by 
Private Geo. G. Bull, was adopted : 

''Resolved, That all who go to the ball ought, to keep sober. ' 


July 2, 1838, the company, on the invitation of the Buffalo 
City Guard, left on the steamer Michigan to spend the Fourth at 
Buffalo and Niagara Falls. The Burgess Corps of Albany, the 
Williams Light Infantry of Rochester and the Buffalo Light 
Guard of Buffalo were at that period considered to be the crack 
volunteer military companies of the union. 

Writing of the Buffalo excursion of the Brady Guards, the 
late Geo. C. Bates says : "During our active service upon the 
frontier and under the special teachings and thorough drillings 
given in person by Gen. Worth, Scott's aid, and by Maj, Payne, 
U. S. A., the latter one of the most perfect drill sergeants that 
ever shouldered a musket, we had acquired a reputation that not 
only extended through the state of Michigan, but all along the 
frontier, and so on the 4th of. July, 1838, we were invited by the 
mayor and common council of Buffalo to visit that city and spend 
the day with the Buffalo Light Guard and the Williams Light 
Infantry from Rochester, on Goat Island at Niagara Falls. The 


invitation was joyously accepted and the whole command, num- 
bering 119 muskets, some nineteen or twenty of whom were 
distinguished young lawyers, among whom I remember especially 
the Rev. Jack Atterbury, then a mad wag, a fellow of infinite jest, 
were carried down on the old steamer IlHnois or Michigan, and 
were received at the docks in Buffalo by a grand military escort 
and two-thirds of the population of that busy city. They were 
marched to the park in front of the old court house, and in the 
square above the splendid hotel — such an one as Buffalo has never 
since had — where we spent the 3d, and were feasted and feted 
and wined and juleped and punched and addressed by Mayor 
Taylor and the various members of the common council as if we 
had been revolutionary soldiers. Finally at early dawn on the 
4th we went to Goat Island, where we pitched our tents, set our 
marquee, planted our batteries and there contested with Williams 
Light Infantry from Rochester for the palm of victory. We 
justly won the premium, then and there awarded to us, as the best 
citizen soldiers along the national frontier, who had no superiors 
in promptness, efficiency and perfect knowledge of the school of a 
soldier, the company and the battalion." 

On this trip to Buffalo, on the invitation of the Buffalo City 
Guards, the Brady s must have had a "high old time," judging by 
the steamer's bill for refreshments, which amounted to $480, of 
which $268 was for champagne at $2 a bottle, and $212 for meals 
at thirty-seven and a half cents a meal. The question seems to 
present itself, why they spent so much money on their eating." 


The Buffalo City Guard having accepted an invitation to pass 
the Fourth of July, 1839, ^^^ Detroit, elaborate preparations were 
made to entertain them handsomely, and on the evening of the 
first (Saturday) the Bradys went into camp, with the Washington 
Lancers, the camp being named in honor of Maj. Payne, under 
whom the Guard had served during their enlistment in the patriot 
war, and was located on the Cass farm, where the residence built 
by the late Gov. Baldwin now is. Monday, July 3, the battalion 
from Buffalo arrived, the whole being under the command of Col. 
McKay, and went into camp with the Brady Guards and Lancers. 
July 4 at 10 a. m. all were under arms, and Captain Rowland, on 
behalf of the Brady Guards, presented a stand of colors to the 


battalion of the Buffalo^ City Guard. Private Norman Rawson, 
secretary of the Bradys, then presented a pair of pistols to Captain 
Allen and silver cups to Messrs. Barton and Hosier, all of the 
steamer Michigan, as tokens of appreciation of their attentions on 
the occasion of the visit of the company to Buffalo in 1838. 

The Bradys also gave a ball in honor of their guests at the 
National hotel that was graced by the beauty and fashion of the 
city, as well as by the presence of the United States officers 
stationed here, and the British officers stationed at Sandwich and 
Maiden, all in full uniform. Notably among the latter were 
Colonel England and Captain Eyrie, both of whom later on won 
distinction in the Crimean war, the- former attaining high com- 
mand in the line and the latter on the staff, rising to the position 
of quartermaster-general of the English forces. The affair was a 
brilliant success, eclipsing the one given February 22. 

The music at this ball was furnished by a colored band, which 
came with the Buffalo Light Guard, and it was particularly fine, 
as well it might be, when it is understood that the band and its 
leader (whose name it bore, which I have unfortunately for- 
gotten) had a national reputation at that time. It had its head- 
quarters at Philadelphia, I think. 


The Washington Lancers was a juvenile company, composed 
of youths, all about 16 years of age, commanded by Captain 
William P. Doty; Albion Turner, first lieutenant; Edward M. 
Pitcher, second lieutenant. This latter company usually did 
guard duty while their older soldier brothers were away on social 
and pleasanter duties. Their uniform was white pants, blue 
jacket, blue cloth cap and they were armed with a lance instead of 
musket. This lancer company was exceedingly short lived. 

The military, at 11 a. m. on the 4th, united with the civil 
authorities and attended the Presbyterian church, corner of 
Woodward Avenue and Larned Street, and listened to the oration 
in honor of the day, by George C. Bates in his civil capacity as 
member of the Detroit Young Men's sociefy, after which there 
was a grand dinner at the National hotel. At half-past 6 o'clock 
p. m., the guard, accompanied by the common council, escorted 
their guests to the steamer Buffalo and gave them a salute by way 
of a parting compliment. 



The above company, from Rochester, N. Y., having accepted 
an invitation to visit the Brady s, arrived here on the Steamer 
Lexington, Wednesday morning, July i6, 1846, and having been 
received by the Guards, was escorted to the corner of Jefferson 
Avenue and Rivard Street, and went into camp on the spot where 
the Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian church now stands. 

After morning parade the two companies and a large number 
of invited guests participated in a cold collation, which was given 
on the camp ground by the Bradys, in a large marquee tent. On 
this occasion the late Hon. John Patton, then a somewhat obscure 
wagonmaker, read an address suitable to the occasion, and he 
delivered it in such a masterly manner as to challenge the admir- 
ation of all his listeners. This, and his prominence in the 
volunteer fire department, were great factors, no doubt, in 
elevating him to the position of Mayor of the city, which office he 
filled acceptably for two terms. ' 

In the evening the visiting company was complimented with 
a ball at the National Hotel (now Russell House), which was 
graced, as all the former balls were, by the fashion of the city, as 
well as by the officers of the United States Army stationed here, 
and the British officers stationed at Maiden. The next day they 
were invited to a dinner at the Michigan Exchange, and in the 
evening started on their homeward trip, evidently highly pleased 
with their visit. 

General Brady and Colonel Basden first met at the battle of 
Lundy's Lane (as before intimated) June, 1814. General Winfield 
Scott, as all know, was in command of the American forces, and, 
as most people know, was a giant in stature, being six feet four 
inches high. On this occasion, it is said, he wore in his hat a 
white plume nearly two feet long. With his aids, Worth and 
Wool, he stormed the British battery, but was repulsed by the 
Twenty-first British Infantry, commanded by Colonel Basden, 
until finally about 8 o'clock in the evening, just as the moon rose 
over the carnage that raged there. Scott organized a division, 
consisting of Hugh Brady's Twenty-first Pennsylvania Infantfy 
and the bloody Ninth recruited in Maine, and forming them into 
column of four deep and placing himself on his white horse in 
front, he said : 


I ' *'Boys, I am satisfied that you can carry that infernal British 

battery. Now, I want you to follow me, and wherever you see 
this white plume you will know that Winfield Scott is under it, in 
advance. Charge !" 

Shortly the white horse and the white plume were seen rolling 
over and over in the dust, but on rushed Hugh Brady and on 
clashed the arms of that gallant battalion until shortly Worth and 
Wool, Scott's aids, were both knocked over, and Colonel Brady 
wounded by a ball striking his sword and driving it into his groin, 
was picked up and cared for. Basden and the British troops 
encamped upon the field and slept upon and under their guns, 
while Scott and Worth and Wool and Brady, and many others 
were carried off the field and transported in batteaux to Buffalo, 
where they all recovered. 


Strange to say, twenty-four years thereafter these old war- 
riors met again on the frontier at Maiden and Detroit, and by 
their arms and true patriotism prevented another war between 
• Great Britain and the United States. 

They, Brady and Basden, met again (and the last time) at the 
Michigan Exchange in 1847, where they and their fellow soldiers, 
English and French, as the guests of the Brady Guards, rushed 
into each other's arms and embraced like boys from school, until 
the dining-hall of that glorious old-time hostelry echoed and rang 
with joyous cry, "God Bless Brady and Basden : God bless the 
queen and the president of the United States; God grant that* 
henceforth in sunshine and in storm, in times of plenty and of 
poverty, on the land and on the sea, everywhere the sun shall 
shine, that Great Britain and the United States shall be firmer 
friends, and that their only contests and controversies hereafter 
shall be which can most and best promote the blessings of com- 
merce, education, religion and liberty. Let all the people of both 
nations forever shout Amen." And thus the feast ended. 


A further account of this dinner, from the pen of Geo. C. 
Bates, orderly sergeant of the Bradys, is given below. He is also 
responsible for the story that General Scott, at Lundy's Lane, 
sported a white plume, in imitation of Henry IV. of France at the 
battle of Ivry : 


"The king has come to marshal us 

In all his armor dressed, 
And he has bound a snow-white plume 
Upon his gallant crest. 

"And if my standardbearer fall, m- 

As fall f^ill well he may 
(For never saw I promise yet 

Of such a bloody fray), 
Press where ye see my white plume 

Shine amidst the ranks of War 
And be your oriflamme today 

The helmet of Navarre." 


"The troubles along the border had substantially ceased and 
were finally ended by the treaty made by Lord Ashburnton with 
Daniel Webster, our secretary of state, in 1847. 'The federal gov- 
ernment had placed in its fortifications at Buffalo, Cleveland, 
Detroit, Fort Gratiot and Fort Brady, and the Sault Ste. Marie- 
detachments of regular troops, between whom and the British 
troops on the Canadian side a warm friendship soon sprang up 
and invitations to lunch and to dine from one side to the other, 
were constantly given and accepted. This finally led to an invita- 
tion from the Brady Guards to the officers of the British and fed- 
eral armies to a dinner to be given at the Michigan Exchange, 
including, of course. Colonel Basden at Maiden, and General 
Brady at Detroit, where for the first time after a quarter of a cen- 
tury, they should meet face to face, not with bayonets and sabers 
and guns, and drums and wounds, but with knives and forks and 
wines and wassail, and where once inore they could embrace each 
other, not in the arms of death, but in those of friendship, love 
and truth. ''The invitations to the dinner were cordially accepted 
by all parties — the day fixed and the old dining room of the Mich- 
igan Exchange on the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Shelby 
Street was decorated, not with flowers as of modern dates, but 
draped upon one side with the battered banners of Basden's regi- 
ment, prizes captured in the peninsula campaigns at Badajos, Sal- 
amanca, Corunna and other victories in Spain, and on the other 
side the walls were hung with the banners captured in the war 


ued, the organic law of the Brady Guard that in the event of the 
sounding of the tocsin of war, the Guard should instantly disband. 
But he had sat down for hours and listened to the warlike reminis- 
cences of the veterans of the Guard, who at the conclusion of their 
bloody recitals always drew forth their land warrants to prove the 
terrible statements." 


Mr. Geo. N. Brady has kindly furnished me a copy of the 
Pree Press of March lo, 1901, in which is copied an account of 
the dinner of the Grayson Light Guards in honor of their com- 
mander, Colonel J. B. Grayson, which account appeared in the 
Detroit Evening Tribune of Saturday, Deecember 21, 1850. 
Among the distinguished guests present were Lieutenant (after- 
ward general) Grant and other distinguished men of affairs, ootn 
in military and civil life. 

"At the head of the table," reads the article, "was seated the 
commanding officer of the guards, Lieutenant E. R. Kearsley; 
seated at his right were Colonel Graysgn, Colonel Whistler, of the 
Fourth United States Infantry, and Major Daniel H. Rucker; on 
his left were General Hugh Brady, U. S. A., and General Schwarz 
and aid. At the tables on the right and left were Lieutenants 
James E. Pittman and Wm. D. Wilkins, of the Grayson Light 
Guards; Lieutenants Henry and Grant, of the Fourth United 
States Infantry; Lieutenant Freeman Norveil, of the marines; 
Hon. John Ladue, mayor; Judge Whipple and Messrs. Rufus 
Hosmer and Henry Barnes, of the press. Lucker's Sax Horn 
band discoursed sweet music during the evening, adding much to 
the pleasure of the occasion. After the removal of the cloth, and 
ample justice had been done to the rations furnished for the occa- 
sion, the president announced that they would charge for a toast, 
which introduced the guest of the evening. Colonel John B. Gray- 
son. Colonel Grayson's toast was followed by others, responded 
to by the following prominent men : Adjutant and Quarter- 
master-General Schwarz, Governor John S. Barry, Mayor Ladue, 
Chas. E. Whilden, Lieutenant Wm. D. Wilkins, Lieutenant 
Kearsley, Captain Phin Homan, aid-de-camp to the adjutant-gen- 
eral; Rufus Hosmer, of the Advertiser; Lieutenant James E. 
Pittman, Lieutenant Henry, of the Fourth United States Infantry ; 
Major Rucker, Sergeant Jas. B. Witherell, Joe L. Langley, 


Charles Dibble, Henry Barnes, of the Tribune; Lieutenant Free- 
man Norveil, Corporal John B. Palmer, Alex. K. Howard, Ser- 
geant John Robertson, Lieutenant Grant, Fourth United States 
Infantry ; Judge Chas. Whipple, S. J. Mather, Charles S. Adams, 
Charles Brewster, J. E. Martin, Calvin C. Jackson, J. Cook, Chas. 
Berkey, Sergeant Geo. Davie, James W. Sutton, Corporal V. W. 
Bullock and Thos. S. Gillett. 

*'A letter of regret was read from Surgeon Chas. S. Tripler, 
U. S. A. Among the toasts proposed was one to the press of the 
city by Colonel Wm. D. Wilkins, wishing the pencil-pushers long 
life and prosperity, to which was added, in brackets, by the printer 
that set up that part of the article ('Sensible to the last — Com- 

''When the name of the immortal Grant was announced he 
arose and in his characteristically modest style said he 'could face 
the music, but not make a speech.' He proposed the toast, 'The 
Grayson Guards — should their services be required, may they be 
rendered in proportion to the confidence placed in them and their 
worthy commander.' " 

Of the above named men Colonel W. D. Wilkins will be 
remembered by F7'ee Press readers as the writer of the best series 
of foreign letters ever penned; Lieutenant, afterwards Colonel 
Freeman Norveil, was one of the early proprietors of the Free 
Press; Sergeant Robertson was adjudant-general of Michigan 
during the civil war ; Calvin C. Jackson, at one time private secre- 
tary to Governor Stevens T. Mason, was afterwards purser in the 
navy during the civil war ; Colonel, now General Jas. E. Pittman, 
is still aHve (1901) and one of the most respected veteran resi- 
dents of Detroit. Sergeant James B. Witherell entered the United 
States service as first lieutenant Third Dragoons, and was acci- 
dentally drowned at Point Isabel, Texas, just as his regiment was 
on the point of embarking for the north at the outbreak of the 
civil war." 

Of the above named persons the only ones now alive (1902) 
are General D. H. Rucker, U. S. A, retired), Washington, D. C, 
and Joe L. Langley, Chicago, 111. 

When the Brady Guards disbanded the arms and accoutre- 
ments that the statp had furnished them with reverted to the Gray- 
son Guards and from them to the Light Guard. While in use by 
the Bradys the possessor of each musket became attached to it to 


that degree that, as Geo. C. Bates said, he replaced the ordinary 
wood of the stock with the mahogany or cherry, and otherwise 
embelHshed it with silver mountings. When the civil war broke 
out these muskets were taken possession of by the state quarter- 
master-general (being flintlock), and percussion lock arms sub- 
stituted in their stead, and the Light Guard took these latter with 
them out of the state. These same flintlock muskets were changed 
into percussion lock, as indeed all flintlock muskets in possession 
of the state were, the demand for arms being so urgent, and 
issued to troops in the service of the United States. After the war 
closed the state claimed pay for all ordnance stores, in its posses- 
sion, that were issued to troops in the service of the United States 
and taken by them out of the state and not returned. (Included 
in these stores we're the Brady Guard muskets, 79 in number.) 
The state demanded the cash for them, or the return of the stores. 
After some years the general government concluded to allow the 
claim in cash, and the state, in due course, got the money. 

The present Light Guard, learning of the payment of the 
claim by the United States, petitioned the state mihtary board for 
pay for the 79 Brady Guard muskets. What the nature of their 
demand was, or what it was based on, I do not know. The board 
allowed the claim, the state paying the same amount to the com- 
pany for the muskets that it received for them from the general 
government. So the Light Guard, luckily, were ahead so much. 
' The Detroit Light Guard, the successors of the Bradys and 
Graysons supplied over thirty ofiicers, for various Michigan regi- 
ments in the civil war, and I presume the Scott and Montgomery 
Guards did their share. Greusel, one time captain of the Scott 
Guard, became colonel of an Illinois regiment in the war. 


Referring again to the Brady Guards: When they were 
organizing I was a boy clerk in C. & J. Wells' grocery store, Des- 
noyer Block, corner of Jefferson Avenue and Bates Street. Mr. 
John Wells, one of the firm, was a Brady, and, being quite popu- 
lar, our store seemed to be headquarters of the company as it were, 
where the members used to meet daily and "talk shop." The drill 
rooms of the company were in the Williams building, where 
Edson, Moore & Co. now are, in the fourth story. So I became 
deeply interested in the company, its formation, etc., and when it 

OUR CITIZEN soldie:rs. 185 

turned. out on its first public parade, nearly 100 rank and file (with 
its brass band), completely armed and equipped, it seemed to me 
the climax was reached. Of all that number I think but one sur- 
vivor remains, and that one is George Doty. In an article on this 
company contributed to one of the daily papers some months ago 
by Mr. Richard R. Elliott, is given the first roster of the company, 
and if this meets the eye of any fortunate owner of it, by referring 
to it, will readily see, if he is an old timer, that it contains the 
names of nearly all the bright, promising young men of that day. 
Men in every walk of life, that have contributed their shares to 
make Detroit what it this day is. 


The Grayson Guards that followed the Bradys was composed 
of about the same material as its predecessor, and flourished like 
a "green bay tree" during the sojourn of its founder (Colonel J. 
B. Grayson, U. S. A.,) among us. When he was ordered away it 
languished, and died a natural death. There are many living who 
were members of this company who will remember more about it 
than I. Suffice it to say, I knew most of the members of the com- 
pany intimately. Colonel Grayson and his assistant. Major Whil- 
den, as well, and I am sure scores and scores of our people will 
call to mind the personalities of the two latter gentlemen with the 
same emotions of pleasure and regard that I do. 

Most of all those that composed the foregoing military com- 
panies have passed to the beyond and many of them on the field 
of battle in the service of their country. 

"On Fame's eternal camping ground 
Their silent tents are spread, 
And glory guards with solemn round 
The bivouac of the dead." 


The Grayson Guards had an amusing target shoot (their first, 
I think) up at Bloody Run. The firing was from this side of the 
Run, where the stove works are now ; the target was planted on 
the opposite bank of the stream. The day was all that could be 
desired, the commissary had everything provided in the way of 
eatables and drinkables that could be required. I was not present, 
but full details of the affair were not wanting, given by partici- 


pants, the next day. Joe Law, a member of the company, had 
the first crack at the target. His bullet bored a hole clean through 
the center of the bull's-eye, much to his surprise. The rest fol- 
lowed in quick succession, their bullets apparently taking the same 
course that Law's did, through the bull's-eye, as there were no 
other marks on the target. On examination it was found that the 
bank of the run on each side of the target was heavily charged 
with lead, so they were compelled to award the prize, whatever it 
was, to Private Law. Whereupon they had the greatest kind of a 
jollification then and there. Their march back to their armory 
was said to be a laughable aflfair by those who witnessed it. Geo, 
Conkling, a member of the company, and an engraver in Geo. 
Doty's employ, got up a cartoon of the return march, which was 
most graphic and amusing, as all will testify who saw it, and their 
number must be many. The memory of this target shoot in its 
entirety must also be fresh in their remembrance. It was quite 
fortunate that there were no dwellers at that time on that side of 
Jefferson Avenue in the rear of the target. If there had been their 
lives might have been in dangr. 


I never was very familiar with the Scott or Montgomery 
Guard, except that they were old organizations, well drilled and 
efficient. The former furnished some capable officers of the First 
Michigan Volunteer Infantry in the Mexican war — notably Major 
Reuhle and Captain Nick Greusel. One conspicuous feature in 
the Scott Guard parades, that many no doubt will remember, was 
the ''pioneer" (Mr. Crongeyer), who marched at the head of the 
company, clad in a uniform copied, I think, from that of Napo- 
leon's pioneers of the Imperial Guard — blue with buff" facings, 
bearskin shako, white leather apron coming down below the 
knees, buff gaiters and carrying over his shoulder a broad or 
battle ax. It is presumed the great captain got up this kind of a 
soldier to clear away the underbrush, as it were, from the path of 
his guarl, that they might have a fair show. Our friend, Cron- 
geyer, was mindful of the position he held in the company and 
bore the honor with becoming dignity, as all who ever saw him in 
that capacity will recall to mind. 

The Scott Guard also furnished a company for the Second 
Michigan Volunteer Infantry, in the civil war (Company A) : 


Captain, Louis Dillman; first lieutenant, John V. Reuhle; second 
lieutenant, Gustavus Kast. At Fair Oaks Major Dillman was in 
command of the regiment; he was also in command at Centre- 
ville, August 28, 1862, but this time as lieutenant-colonel (Poe 
being in command of a brigade). 

Referring again to the Detroit Light Guard, which today is 
so well to the fore, and to which I once had the honor to belong, 
when it was first organized, I think it quite appropriate to include 
in this article, an extract from one in relation to it that appeared 
in the Detroit Journal some time in the fore part of 1898 : 

''This grand old company was an outgrowth of the Brady 
Guards, which was organized by the young men of the city as an 
independent and volunteer military company April 2, 1836. The 
name was derived from that famous hero. General Hugh Brady. 
To this organization belonged the best class of young men in the 
city. Matters of social as well as military interest were taken up, 
and the company made many trips up to various parts of the state 
and country, reflecting great credit upon Detroit. 

''When the Mexican war broke out, the Brady Guards 
responded to the call for men at once. They served with distinc- 
tion and gave three men to the cause whose names are well known. 
These were General Alpheus S. Williams, General James E. Pitts- 
man and Colonel Wm. D. Wilkins. 

"Shortly after the close of the Mexican war, and on the death 
of General Brady, the Brady Guards were disbanded and merged 
into the Grayson Light Guard, which was organized in 185 1. 
This latter company was named after and commanded by Colonef 
John B. Grayson, U. S. A., who was at that time stationed in 
Detroit. But it was destined to a short life, and on November 16, 
1855, it became the Detroit Light Guard. 

"The original roll of the new organization was signed by 100. 
Many of them went to the front in '61 and earned honor for 
themselves and their state. One of the most prominent of these 
was General A. S. Williams. Among the original first signers of 
the roll who are still living in Detroit are General James E. Pitt- 
man, Colonel Jerome Croul, General Friend Palmer, Hon. 
Thomas W. Palmer, William A. Moore, George Doty, John 
Patton, Alfred Russell, Thomas P. Sheldon, Henry R. Mizner, 
Edward J. Smith, R. R. Howard, David R. Pierce and Henry C. 


"The record of the Light Guard in the war is magnificent. It 
was the first company in the state to volunteer its services to 
President Lincohi. The call was made April i6, 1861, and the 
Light Guard volunteered on the next day. Nearly the whole coni- 
pany of 79 men who were enrolled in the organization at that 
time were mustered into the army. Many were anxious to go 
with the boys and in several instances the members were offered 
large sums of money for their places. 

*'The company was in command of Colonel Charles M. Lum 
as captain, John D. Fairbanks, after whom Fairbanks post is 
named, was the first lieutenant and Wm. A. Throop second lieu- 
tenant. General Eugene Robinson was at that time second ser- 
geant of the company. It will be remembered that it was General 
Robinson who drilled the Detroit Commandery, Knights Templar, 
and made it what it is. ^ 

"The Light Guard became company A of that famous regi- 
ment the First Michigan. It was the first company west of the 
Alleghanies to report for duty at Washington. To it, also, 
belongs the distinction of being the first company of the entire 
north to cross the Long Bridge into Virginia, and so enter hostile 
territory. The First Michigan led the army, and as company A, 
the Light Guard was at the head of it. The company sacrificed 
two men to the government in the battle of Bull Run. They were 
William A. Cunningham and David A. Jones. 

"At the end of three months, the Light Guards' term of 
service closed. The members returned to Detroit and were given 
«. most enthusiastic greeting. But they were not grand stand 
players. Their country still needed them and nearly every man 
went back to reenlist for three years, and the Light Guard fur- 
nished the government with eighty-three commissioned officers. 

"Prominent among these were Major-General A. S. Wil- 
liams, Brigadier-Generals Henry M. Whittelsey, Henry M. Miz- 
ner, William A. Throop, F. W. Swift, Jas. E. Pittman and John 
Robertson ; Colonels Henrv L. Chipman, Horace S. Roberts, W. 
W. Duffield, WiUiam D. w'ilkins, Huber Le Favour, Edward Hill, 
William S. Whipple and Charles M. Lum ; Majors John D. Fair- 
banks and Robert T. Elliott, and Captains Charles E. Wendell and 
William J. Speed. 

"While the company was fighting bravely at the front, the 
Detroit Light Guard reserve corps did good service at home. 


There were at times stirring scenes even in Detroit. Many rebels 
lived in Windsor and attacks were expected at almost any 
moment. In 1863 the negro riots had to be put down, and there 
were raids of various kinds. During all these troublesome times, 
the reserve corps did good service in patrolling the streets, guard- 
ing the jails, and protecting the city generally. 

''They did good work at the time of the negro riots," said 
Colonel Fred E. Farnsworth, speaking of the matter. "The city 
was aroused one night by the ringing of all the bells, which was 
the signal agreed upon for calling the troops to arms in case of 
danger. The reserve corps came to the rescue at once, and had 
it not been for their aid, bloody scenes might have been the result. 

*'And since the war the Light Guard has showqd the kind of 
men that composed it. In 1874, it was ordered to Ishpeming- to 
quell the riots among the iron workers in that locality. Its ser- 
vices wete so well appreciated that one of the iron companies sent 
it a check for $500. In 1877, with other military organizations, it 
helped suppress the railroad strikes. Again, in 1885, they were 
called to Bay City during the lumber workers' strike. 

"The Light Guard has always been a great advertisement for 
the city. The boys took part in the parades connected with the 
Centennial in Philadelphia in 1876, and won compliments galore 
by their fine appearance, splendid marching, and superb drilling. 
It was the same way in New York, where the company stopped on 
its return home. The organization has taken its due share of first 
prizes in drills held in Toledo, Cleveland, Grand Rapids and other 

''It has always made a fine showing at all state encampments. 
It inaugurated the governor's levees, which have been among 
the prominent social functions of the city. 


This company is an offshoot from the Detroit Light Guard, 
which occurred some time in 1877. I ^^^ ^^^ at all well informed 
on this military company, except that it is composed of the same 
element as is the Light Guard, and not behind it in any way in the 
manual of arms or proficiency in drill. I saw them once on parade 
when the audience was the nation, as it were. The place was 
Washington, and the occasion the dedication of the Washington 
monument, February 22, 1884. It was a stinging cold day, as 


many members of the company must remember. They formed in 
the procession part of its military display, which latter was com- 
posed of crack independent military companies from all parts of 
the union. 

I witnessed the passing of the procession from the office of 
the depot quartermaster, U. S. A., corner of Fifteenth Street and 
Pennsylvania Avenue, and when the Light Infantry came march- 
ing down Fifteenth Street in open order and wheeled into Penn- 
sylvania Avenue, they came around, or wheeled, v*^ith admirable 
precision, as one man, eliciting the applause of the vast crowd 
that were gathered at that point, an ovation of the like no other 
military company in the procession called forth. 


During the month of June, 1847, the company known as the 
Brady Guards of Detroit was enlisted and mustered into the ser- 
vice of the United States on the i8th of the above month, with 
Morgan L. Gage, Detroit, as captain ; Alex. K. Howard, Detroit, 
first lieutenant; Wm. F. Chittenden, Detroit, second lieutenant, 
and Asa W. Sprague, Detroit, third lieutenant. This company 
garrisoned Fort Mackinac and Fort Brady at the Soo, taking the 
place of United States regulars sent to the front (Mexican war). 
These forts were comm^anded respectively by Captain Gage and 
Lieutenant Howard. The company was mustered out of service 
at the close of the war. Though assuming the name of "Brady 
Guards" there were none of the old members of the guard in the 
ranks, but made up of new men recruited for the emergency. 

The commissioned officers, however, were, or had been mem- 
bers of the old guard. They were mustered into service by Cap- 
tain J. A. Whitall, Fifth United States Infantry, who was sta- 
tioned here at that time. 


Referring again to the City Guard, that they had an arduous 
time during their Black Hawk campaign may well be believed, 
when I state, that I was an eye-witness of their return, somewhere 
about the latter part of July. They came into the city, mounted, 
via Chicago turnpike (Michigan Avenue) to Woodward Avenue, 
then down that avenue to their armory somewhere in the vicinity 
of Woodworth's Hotel on Woodbridge Street east. Horse and 
man were a sorry sight, particularly the former. Their reception 


by the citizens was most cordial, every one was out, apparently, 
and the guard was delighted with the generous welcome accorded 

Later on the Cavalry horses belonging to the general govern- 
ment, came into the city, by same route, tied together in fours, 
then came cannon, caissons, traveling forges, etc., four horses to 
each, the latter were skeletons, bedraggled with mud, indeed the 
whole business was, as it had rained quite hard the two days 
previous. Well, it was a wretched sight ; but Black Hawk and his 
savage followers had been snuffed out like the flame of a candle. 

Dear Mr. Editor : 

An old and esteemed friend, as he says, who has perused 
my articles published in your paper on the mihtary companies of 
Detroit, writes me in relation to the Brady Guards, and clears my 
memory in regard to that company in two or three particulars, 
as for instance : 

The music that the Buffalo City Guards brought to Detroit 
at the time the Bradys entertained them on the Cass farm, was the 
band of the Philadelphia Firemen, led by the celebrated bugle 
player, Frank Johnson (colored). The band gave a concert at 
the old city hall while in Detroit, which was then the only hall in 
the city. It was crowded with the elite of Detroit. (I now call to 
mind the incident, as I was present) . He further says that John 
A. Rucker, of Grosse He ; George Doty and Stanley G. Wright of 
this city, are the sole survivors of the Brady Guards. 

Another point : I stated in one of the articles that the por- 
trait painted on the flag presented to the Bradys by General 
Brady represented the handsomest man in the company, "Charles 
W. Penny." It was my impression that it was so understood at 
the time, but it appears there was another claimant in the field, 
George G. Bull, clerk United States Court. George was, indeed, 
a handsome man, a fine soldier, as many will remember, and might 
easily have been selected to represent the company as its hand- 
somest member, but which of the two it really was I do not know. 
I presume John Rucker, Stanley G. Wight or George Doty, can 

I understand there is in existence in this city, a full-length 
portrait of Mr. George G. Bull, taken at the time he was a mem- 
ber of the Bradys, and in the full uniform of the company. A 
most interesting relic, it seems to me. 



In this connection, I repeat what is related in regard to the 
Guards, in my article, "Incidents of the Patriot War," that 
appeared in your journal some time during the early summer. It 
was with the Patriots who invaded the soil of Canada on that 
December morning of 1838 that the Guards had to do. After 
their defeat in the Baubie orchard, Windsor, the Patriots dis- 
persed at once; some of them took to the Canadian woods, but 
most of them took the river road towards the Windmills (now 
Walkerville) that stood on the bank of the river. They availed 
themselves of six or eight canoes that luckily appeared in sight, 
drawn up on the river bank, and pushed off for the American 
shore. Some of them rnet with disaster before reaching home. 
The British atillery, in pursuit, gained the further windmill, just 
about the time the fugitives reached the middle of the river, and 
from that point they opened upon them with grape and cannister. 
They did not do much damage, only wounding three or four 
slightly. Part got across the river safely, the remainder, mcluding 
the wounded, were taken prisoners by the Brady Guards, Captain 
Rowland, and under the immediate personal command of General 
Hugh Brady, who were on the steamer Erie, patrolling the river 
in the interest of the neutrality laws. 

The march of the Guards from their armory to the steamer 
Erie, which was at her dock between Woodward Avenue and 
Griswold Street, waiting for their arrival, appeared to be some- 
what perilous. Atwater Street in that vicinity, and indeed the 
entire river front, was filled with a howling mob who deeply sym- 
pathized with the Patriots. When the Brady Guards appeared, 
headed by Captain Rowland and General Brady, a howl of 
derision went up from the crowd ; but General Brady, tall and as 
straight as a young poplar; Rowland, whose black eyes snapped 
ominously behind his gold-rimmed glasses, and the boys behind 
them, with their muskets, paid no more attention to the howlers 
than they would have done to a swarm of buzzing flies, but parted 
the crowd to the right and left, and boarded the steamer without 


Another incident in regard to the Bradys that, until now. 
had lapsed from my memory, and of which I was an e3^e-witness. 
It has also to do with the late General T. E. Schwarz, quarter- 

OUR citize;n soi.die:rs. 193 

master-general of the state. The general was intensely military, 
and donned his uniform on the slightest occasion. Although a 
fine, scholarly gentleman, and one of the old school, he was not 
much up in military matters, particularly parade duty and manual 
of arms. He did very well caring for the military property of the 
state, but when it came to other duties — the ''shoulder arms" part 
— he was minus, although I do not think he was conscious of it. 
The instance I allude to in which he betrayed his lack of knowl- 
edge in this regard was a public inspection of the guard. When 
the Brady s were in their prime the general was requested by Cap- 
tain Rowland to inspect the company in his official capacity. He 
signified his willingness to do so, and the Guards were occordingly 
drawn up in open order for inspection on the designated day on 
the east side of Woodward iVvenue between Jefiferson Avenue 
and Woodbridge Street. The general, in full uniform, passed up 
and down the ranks, minutely examining the men, accoutrements 
and muskets. I think there is a regulation way of handing a 
musket, by a private, to the inspecting officer and also a regu- 
lation way of returning it. Without heeding the rule, whatever 
it is, the general had nearly concluded his job without a miss, 
apparently, when he came to Sergeant George Doty, who 
was away up in the manual of arms. The latter handed 
him his musket for inspection. The general looked it over 
critically, proceeded to return it to George, but not "accord- 
ing to Gunter." The latter did not see it, so to speak, and the 
musket fell to the ground with a clang, causing much surprise, 
and suppressed merriment by the members of the company and 
the bystanders gathered to witness the parade. The general did 
not appear to notice the incident in the least and concluded his 
inspection and expressed himself as being highly pleased with the 
superb condition of the company. Doty used to enjoy relating 
this afifair. Friend Palmer. 





NOTING by the papers, some months ago, that the 
American Express, the United States Express, and the 
Wells-Fargo Express Companies contemplate consoHdating 
under one head with capital of $30,cx)0,ooo, brings to my mind 
the early days of the express business, when its was in its swad- 
dling clothes, and giving then but little evidence of growing to 
the giant it has now become. Perhaps my memories of those 
days may be of interest to some, and therefore they are here 
presented : 

All know what a mighty business this express venture has 
grown to, and probably do not realize what a small and insig- 
nificant beginning it had. How much the people of this great 
country, and, indeed, the world, owe to its progenitors, they, 
perhaps, will never stop to consider. From its very start and 
inception the enterprise was a success, in a small way, and pro- 
ceeded to fill a great and long felt want was, instantly, as it were, 
appreciated by all classes of the community. It fast became an 
absolute necessity, and it is now impossible for the business 
portion, at least, to get along without it. 

Well, I was connected with this express business, in a mod- 
erate way, when it was first started in Bufifalo, and was with the 
company for a few years afterwards. Early in January, 1842, I 
left Detroit for Bufifalo, to fill, or try to fill a position in the book 
and stationery store of Wm. B. and C. E. Peck, on Main Street in 
that city. The Pecks were also agents for Pomeroy & Co.'s 


The journey through Canada to Queenstown, was uneventful, 
except that it took six days to get through to that point, traveling 
by day and putting up nights at the comfortable taverns on the 
route, where wines and liquors were free, and the juicy round of 

OLD e:xpress days. 195 

beef was always in evidence. The only thing the stage passengers 
''kicked" at was the price of cigars, and that was four cents for the 
best Havanas, the price never having been but three cents on the 
American side for the best Principe Havana could produce. We 
could not see why they did it ; they did not offer any explanation 
and we stood it. 

From Lewiston, opposite Queenstown, a horse railroad took 
us to Niagara Falls, thence by steam railroads to Buffalo. Buffalo 
was quite bewildering to me, being so much larger than Detroit, 
25,000 inhabitants. Detroit at that time had only ten or twelve 
thousand, I think. I was soon installed in my new position and, 
among the rest of my duties was the care and charge of this 
express business. Its small limit can be imagined, when I relate- 
that I was easily able to take care of my part in running the book 
store and attending to the business of the express as well, no 
porter, no delivery wagon, etc. 

The parties comprising the firm of Pomeroy & Co. were Geo. 
E. Pomeroy, Henry Wells, Crawford Livingston and Wm. A.Liv- 
ingston. Mr. Pomeroy and W. A. Livingston had their headquar- 
ters in Albany, and Crawford Livingston in New York. The 
chief office was in Albany. Mr. Wells had his headquarters in 
Buffalo, and was almost always traveling on the railroad, between 
the former city and Albany, soliciting business and making the 
new enterprise known. He was a great factor in founding the 
express business and placing it on the firm and stable basis it now 
enjoys. / , 

Of commanding presence, possessed of a most kind and 
genial manner, Mr. Wells was a most companionable man, full of 
joke and fun. He had a pronounced impediment in his speech, a 
stammer and a stutter combined, which in some might be con- 
sidered a great af^iction, but in him it seemed to lend piquancy to 
his jokes, stories and remarks of men and things. He had, as said 
before, a fine presence, and in -addition, affected a peculiarity in 
dress. Ruffle shirt, always a blue broad cloth cloak in winter, with 
ample, flowing sleeves, and always a peculiar black silk velvet cap 
that fell over the left side of the head and ended with a gold tas- 
sel. He was sure of being the conspicuous, central figure 
wherever he happened to be, and if any one on the route wished to 
know anything in relation to the express business, if Mr. Wells 
was on the railroad train, most every one knew it, and could read- 


ily point him out. His personality was his greatest card, and did 
more to fasten his ideas of the express business, its benefits, etc., 
on the minds of the public than any other factor did, or could. 
He won and always had hosts and hosts of warm-hearted friends, 
and they, as a natural consequence, became the friends and 
patrons of his express company, an enterprise so novel and so 

Mr. Crawford Livingston was the resident New York partner 
at, then. No. 2 Wall Street. I never came in contact with him 
except through correspondence. He was a fine business man and 
did much to promote the express business in New York, now the 
head center. He died early, but lived long enough to realize what 
his exertions in that direction would blossom into. 

Mr. Wells performed twice the feat of bringing the presi- 
dent's message from Albany to Buffalo in advance of the mails, 
riding on the locomotive, the train composed of the latter and its 
tender only. He used to say in his inimitable way "the engineer 
just pulled the plug and let her rip." 


Mr. Pomeroy was considered the ''Great Mogul," or assumed 
to be, but 'in my opinion Henry Wells and Crawford Livingston 
were the two men who gave to the weak child a healthy, sturdy 
growth, which kept on increasing, and which it has today in a 
most marked manner.' 

To the express messengers is also due a large share of the 
success that came to the enterprise. They were hustlers, all of 
them, and untiring in the interest of the company. I call to mind 
the names and personalities of some of them who were considered 
the best, viz., Sam Lee, who always had what was termed the 
''Bank Run." To explain, most of the country banks and bankers 
kept their accounts with the Albany City Bank, and made their 
remittances weekly by this "Bank 'Run" and this Messenger Lee. 
Then there was Daniel Dunning, a pink of suavity and politeness, 
as also Schyler, Thad Pomeroy, Powell Hurd, Wheeler, and last 
and not by any means least, Wm. G. Fargo. The assumed duties 
of these messengers were something that the messengers of the 
present day do not feel called upon to perform, or are not, I pre- 
sume, only in some isolated cases. These were executing mes- 
sages, errands of all sorts, taking charge of ladies traveling from 


one point to another on the railroad without escort, seeing to their 
baggage, etc., taking charge of young children without their 
parents, and doing many other things for the public that they had 
long desired some one to step in and do. Thus they made them- 
selves exceedingly popular, as well as the express company they 
so well and ably represented. 

Messenger Dunning (before mentioned) was most polite and 
winning in manner, particularly to the fairer portion of creation ; 
he gained their good-will, and I might say, admiration, both old 
and young, if they were journeying unattended between Albany 
and Buffalo, by his assiduous attentions to their wants. 


The journeys between the above points were something dif- 
ferent from what they are now. Instead of four continuous 
tracks, there was only one (strap rail), and that was not Contin- 
uous. Four or five different companies, I do not remember their 
names, operated their several roads and had their depots at the 
various termini. So it can be readily imagined that a woman, 
unattended and with or without baggage, would not have much 
of a picnic traveling in those days, particularly in winter. It was 
on such occasions that our friend Dunning 'got in his work," so to 
speak, and, as said" before, gained their admiration, also their 
appreciative regard, besides advertising the merits of the express 
company, which then was in need of all the favorable publicity it 
could get. 

I do not know, with but one exception, what ever became of 
these messengers that I have mentioned, but presume they contin- 
ued with the company, and retired with honor. They seemed to 
drop out of the business in the ordinary course and never heard of 
afterwards, but with Wm. G. Fargo it was quite different. He 
entered the service of the company as messenger the fore part of 
the winter of 1842, at a salary of fifty dollars per month. He 
came originally from Pompey, Onondago County, New York, 
where he was born and to the employ of the express company, 
from the position of freight agent on the Auburn & Syracuse Rail- 
road. *'This employment" his biographer, Francis F. Fargo, 
truthfully says, "gave him the employment of his life," and he 
readily proceeded to take advantage of it. "It awakened concep- 
tions of the possibilities in transportation facilities which he so 


grandly wrought out and carried to such completeness in later 
years." Mr. Fargo says he was one of the original projectors of 
the express business of the Pomeroy and American Express. He 
was not, but he was of the Western Express, and says also ''at the 
time William G. came on the road the rails were only laid to the 
east from Batavia, and packages were carried between the latter 
place and Buffalo by stage coach." Not so. The rails were there, 
all right, from Buffalo to Batavia and Rochester, January, 1842. 
He also says **W. G. was appointed agent for Pomeroy & Co. at 
Buffalo." Not so, he was never agent for that company at Buf- 
falo. Not but that he would have been competent enough to fill 
the bill, but he had other "fish to fry," and little did he or anyone 
connected with the express business at that time, dream that he 
would die as early as he did, a broken down old man at 63, but 
worth, it was said, $20,000,000. In addition to this he had been 
mayor of ^Buffalo twice, during the civil war. He was a war 
Democrat, and in 1868, was candidate for governor of New York, 
but failed to get the nomination. Don't think he cared much 
for it. 

peck's bookstore. 

Peck's bookstore was located on Main Street, Buffalo, north 
side, in the block between Swan and Seneca Streets, and was, as 
all bookstores were in those days, headquarters for book lovers, 
literary and business men, those scientifically inclined — a place 
where the society gossip and the affairs of the day of every phase 
were discussed and commented upon. The 'express venture, so 
new an innovation and a novel but much needed enterprise, 
claimed and had its full share of commendation and ardent wishes 
for its success. The winter of 1842 will be rememebered by old 
railroad and express men as one of unusual rigor. The railroad 
between Buffalo and Albany was ironed with the strap rail, and 
where any deep cuts occurred, or any cuts at all, the flurry of snow 
would put a quietus on railroad travel until the cause could be goi 
rid of by gangs of men armed with shovels. Snow plows were not 
in evidence in those days. 


The express company was put to its trumps to maintain a 
daily express between New York and Buffalo during that winter, 
but did it in spite of cold and snow. When the railroad was tied 


up or snowed under the company had to resort to the stage 
coaches, and thus it was through snow, or rain or shine, the 
express messenger was on hand daily to meet the wants of the 
community, and the people soon learned to appreciate its benefits 
and rely on its service, more especially banks and bankers. It 
soon came to be a necessity, same as the d^ily mail, the daily paper, 
etc. I have seen the snow on a level with the tops of the fences, 
yet there was the express messenger. 

The expense and difficulties attending the enterprise at this 
early day seemed to be insurmountable, but the American pluck 
and energy of the people composing the company pushed aside 
all obstacles, and their hold on the country at large was assured. 

The express people realized they were building for a far 
future, and at the present time, though they of that day have gone 
to the other shore, the small structure they then erected, and the 
enterprise they inaugurated, has grown, as all know, to gigantic 
proportions and has ''girdled the globe." The express company 
had the confidence of the people from the very beginning, so much 
so that banks and bankers, in fact all, intrusted their business to 
them, giving into their care vast sums and packages of valuables 
for transmission, without even the formality of a receipt for the 
same, and neither the company nor the public at that time 
demanded or required a receipt for money or valuables. 

To illustrate some of the difficulties encountered during that 
winter of 1842. Three or four times I was called upon to make a 
messenger's run to Rochester, as from that point east the rail- 
roads managed to make reasonable time, but between Buffalo and 
Rochester the snow kept up an almost continuous blockade, neces- 
sitating the services of additional messengers between these points. 
Communication was kept up by the stage company by means ot 
coaches on runners. During these trips it was a common occur- 
rence to experience two or three tip-ups in the snow going, and 
about the same number returning. On one of my trips to Roches- 
ter, the stage was crowded with passengers. I had in my custody 
a valise containing money packages, value not known, besides six 
boxes of silver coin, the latter stowed awav in the bottom of the 
stage. While we were, or the horses were, floundering through 
the snow, which filled the air and everything with a blinding bliz- 
zard, the team came up against a huge snow bank, and in trying 
to wallaw through it, over we went completely. The sudden shock 


grandly wrought out and carried to such completeness in later 
years." Mr. Fargo says he was one of the original projectors of 
the express business of the Pomeroy and American Express. He 
was not, but he was of the Western Express, and says also ''at the 
time William G. came on the road the rails were onlv laid to the 
east from Batavia, and packages were carried between the latter 
place and Buffalo by stage coach." Not so. The rails were there, 
all right, from Bufifalo to Batavia and Rochester, January, 1842. 
He also says "W. G. was appointed agent for Pomeroy & Co. at 
Buffalo." Not so, he was never agent for that company at Buf- 
falo. Not but that he would have been competent enough to fill 
the bill, but he had other "fish to fry," and little did he or anyone 
connected with the express business at that time, dream that he 
would die as early as he did, a broken down old man at 63, but 
worth, it was said, $20,cx)o,ooo. In addition to this he had been 
mayor of Buffalo twice, during the civil war. He was a war 
Democrat, and in 1868, was candidate for governor of New York, 
but failed to get the nomination. Don't think he cared much 
for it. 

peck's bookstore. 

Peck's bookstore was located on Main Street, Buffalo, north 
side, in the block between Swan and Seneca Streets, and was, as 
all bookstores were in those days, headquarters for book lovers, 
literary and business men, those scientifically inclined — a place 
where the society gossip and the affairs of the day of every phase 
were discussed and commented upon. The express venture, so 
new an innovation and a novel but much needed enterprise, 
claimed and had its full share of commendation and ardent wishes 
for its success. The winter of 1842 will be rememebered by old 
railroad and express men as one of unusual rigor. The railroad 
between Buffalo and Albany was ironed with the strap rail, and 
where any deep cuts occurred, or any cuts at all, the flurry of snow 
would put a quietus on railroad travel until the cause could be goi 
rid of by gangs of men armed with shovels. Snow plows were not 
in evidence in those days. 


The express company was put to its trumps to maintain a 
daily express between New York and Buffalo during that winter, 
but did it in spite of cold and snow. When the railroad was tied 


up or snowed under the company had to resort to the stage 
coaches, and thus it was through snow, or rain or shine, the 
express messenger was on hand daily to meet the wants of the 
community, and the people soon learned to appreciate its benefits 
and rely on its service, more especially banks and bankers. It 
soon came to be a necessity, same as the d^ily mail, the daily paper, 
etc. I have seen the snow on a level with the tops of the fences, 
yet there was the express messenger. 

The expense and difficulties attending the enterprise at this 
early day seemed to be insurmountable, but the American pluck 
and energy of the people composing the company pushed aside 
all obstacles, and their hold on the country at large was assured. 

The express people realized they were building for a far 
future, and at the present time, though they of that day have gone 
to the other shore, the small structure they then erected, and the 
enterprise they inaugurated, has grown, as all know, to gigantic 
proportions and has "girdled the globe." The express company 
had the confidence of the people from the very beginning, so much 
so that banks and bankers, in fact all, intrusted their business to 
them, giving into their care vast sums and packages of valuables 
for transmission, without even the formality of a receipt for the 
same, and neither the company nor the public at that time 
demanded or required a receipt for money or valuables. 

To illustrate some of the difficulties encountered during that 
winter of 1842. Three or four times I was called upon to make a 
messenger's run to Rochester, as from that point east the rail- 
roads managed to make reasonable time, but between Buffalo and 
Rochester the snow kept up an almost continuous blockade, neces- 
sitating the services of additional messengers between these points. 
Communication was kept up by the stage company by means ot 
coaches on runners. During these trips it was a common occur- 
rence to experience two or three tip-ups in the snow going, and 
about the same number returning. On one of my trips to Roches- 
ter, the stage was crowded with passengers. I had in my custody 
a valise containing money packages, value not known, besides six 
boxes of silver coin, the latter stowed away in the bottom of the 
stage. While we were, or the horses were, floundering through 
the snow, which filled the air and everything with a blinding bliz- 
zard, the team came up against a huge snow bank, and in trying 
to wallaw through it, over we went completely. The sudden shock 


threw us all in a heap, and the six boxes of coin, weighing about 
seventy pounds each, went bang through the stage window, and 
into three or four feet of snow. We managed after a little delay 
and much trouble to right the coach and rescue the six boxes of 
specie from the snow, and went on our way rejoicing, none the 
worse for our rough experience in the snow, and arrived at the end 
of our journey in time for an enjoyable dinner, which was made 
the most of. 

Rochester at that date called itself quite a city, crediting itself 
with 25,000 inhabitants, 5,000 more than Buffalo, I think. My 
impression of Rochester, that wild, first stormy night, will ever 
remain with me. One peculiar feature was this: I noticed that 
Buffalo did not have, though she needed them badly, night watch- 
men, who, clad in their long cloaks and leather headgear, with 
lantern and club, guarded the streets and slumbers of the people 
and cried the hours, ''Two o'clock, and all's well." 

My return trip with the express was quite as stormy. The 
snow was on a level with the tops of the fences, and the stage 
tipped over several times between Rochester and Buffalo, as I said 
before. The railroad did not resume operations for many days. 
The messengers had a hard, weary time that winter. They never 
came into Buffalo without long accounts of their hardships, and 
angry complaints against the various railroad superintendents 
between Albany and Buffalo, and more particularly against Mr. J. 
W. Brooks, late superintendent of the Michigan Central railroad, 
and Mr. Higham. They alleged that Brooks and Higham arbi- 
trarily restricted them to much less than their quota of freight and 
extra baggage, when all the cities between x\lbany and Buffalo 
were clamoring for the extras that the express had afforded them, 
the which they had never had before so promptly ; they kicked 
because they were now and then deprived of them. They were 
beginning to realize what a wonderful benefit the advent of the 
express company was to the country and community. 


Early in the spring of 1842 Mr. Charles Miller, a German, 
and a retired oil merchant of Buffalo, started the first western 
express. He had his headquarters with the Pecks, and designed 
running the business in connection with Pomeroy & Co. He 
made two or three preliminary trips to Chicago, as did his one 


messenger (Bradley). After looking the ground over pretty 
thoroughly, as he thought, he concluded the task was too heavy 
and gave up the venture. There were at that time no railroads 
between the west and Buffalo. Communication was had in sum- 
mer by water and in winter by stage. 

Some time during the summer of 1842 the Pecks changed 
their location for a more central one further down Main Street, 
on the same side, to Brown's building, midway between Seneca 
and Exchange Streets, and with them went the express company. 
By this time the business of the company had increased to that 
extent that it became necessary to hire a porter and equip him 
with a horse and wagon. The clerical force was not increased, 
Mr. Henry Wells giving his almost undivided attention to the 
business when in the city, and it also necessitated my sleeping at 
the store, which I had not done before, as the express messenger 
came in at midnight and I had to be on hand to receive him and 
take charge of the money packages, etc. For fear something 
might happen when the messenger and porter routed me out, the 
company provided me with a revolver, a six-shooter, the same as 
the messengers carried, a clumsy affair, though I never had occa- 
sion to use it. 

The railroad depot at that time was located on the outskirts 
of the city, away out on Exchange street, and the messenger and 
porter had a trying time in bad weather getting their express mat- 
ter into the city and to the office. 

i,uxurie:s easily obtained. 

Shortly after removing to the new location the company 
entered into an arrangement with Hagerman & Cowell, fruit and 
sea food dealers, of Albany, to supply them daily with oranges, 
lemons, pineapples, etc., when in season ; also fresh oysters, lob- 
sters, hard and soft shell crabs. This was a great and unheard-of 
accommodation to good livers, all along the line from Albany to 
Buffalo, and, indeed, to all who could afford to indulge in such 
luxuries. The people used to say, "Just think of it, oranges and 
lemons in midwinter, and fresh oysters and sea food, and all you 
want if you pay the price," and the latter was not heavy. It 
became possible for the wealthy citizen to have all these hitherto 
unobtainable luxuries at his winter entertainments. I am reminded 
of a retired Buffalo capitalist, a Mr. Coe, living on Niagara Street, 


who gave three entertainments at that time, one week apart, on 
the nights of Thursday. He ordered 1,500 fresh oysters in kegs 
for each function. It was the talk of the town for quite a while. 

Occasionally during the season of 1843 ^ messenger was sent 
west in charge of packages, etc., that had accumulated from time 
to time, for points beyond Buffalo. A young man by the name of 
B. B. Cornwell was employed in that capacity, the first express 
messenger, except Mr. Bradley, of Miller, & Co., that was ever 
sent west. The principal agents west were Mr. C. Younglove, 
bookseller, Cleveland; B. L. Webb, forwarding merchant, Detroit, 
and S. F. Gale & Co., booksellers, Chicago. 

The business kept on increasing to that extent that the com- 
pany were forced to abandon their agency with the Pecks, and 
seek quarters for themselves alone. They selected offices in the 
Mansion house, then kept by Philip Dorsheimer, on the Exchange 
Street side, and moved in early in the fall of 1843. 


As said before, about this time was organized the Western 
Express, under the name of Wells & Co., and it was a success from 
the start. The company had but one regular messenger, Mr. 
Nichols (Cornwell having resigned.) They selected a number of 
steamboat clerks, who acted in that capacity in addition to their 
other duties, so they managed to fill the bill quite well. Some time 
during the winter of 1844, Mr. Dunning came to Detroit, as resi- 
dent partner, and established his office with C. Morse & Son, book- 
sellers. In 1845 M^- Dunning withdrew from the partnership, and 
a year later Mr. Wells sold his interest fo William A. Livingston, 
of Albany, and the firm name was changed to Livingston & Fargo. 
*'Mr. Livingston took charge of the Buffalo business and Mr. 
Fargo removed to Detroit, where he remained a year and returned 
to Buffalo." 

No messengers went west of Detroit, either by boat or rail, 
until after 1845. Business did not warrant it. The Michigan 
Central railroad was finished to Marshall only at that time, at 
which point the express company established an agency, with Mr. 
Kimball as agent. Communication between the latter point and 
Chicago was by stage. Money packages destined for the east 
from Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha and so on found their way by 
private hands to the Chicago agency. 



In October, 1894, I had a communication from Mr. Charles 
Fargo, second vice-president of the American Express Company, 
Chicago, which I copy, and which will show what giant strides 
the express business made west of Buffalo, from 1844 up to the 
above date. He said : "We have in the western department 
(which means all the lines of the American Express Company 
west of Buffalo) 6,136 men employed in the forwarding, receiving 
and delivery of express packages at offices. In addition we have 
807 men employed as messengers on trains, steamboats and stage 
lines. We use in handling our business in this department 1,223 
horses. We have, arriving and leaving Chicago every day, from 
all points, seventy-four messengers bringing in from one package 
each up to seven or eight carloads of express matter. In addition 
to this we have established at convenient locations in all cities in 
the west agents for the sale and payment of our money orders. 
They do not handle express packages of any kind, simply being 
what we call branch money order agents, where patrons can at all 
times and conveniently purchase money orders. In many large 
cities a large portion of the gas bills each month are paid by means 
of these orders. In the city of Chicago alone we have 250 of such 
branch agencies, and in the west nearly 1,500." 

At that time (1845), ^s before mentioned, the Buffalo agency 
could boast of but two clerks, one porter and one delivery wagon, 
while at Cleveland, Detroit and Chicago there were none at all. 
Verily, the projectors of this express business "built better than 
they knew." 

When the company had got well into their new quarters on 
Exhange Street, Buffalo, their legitimate business had increased 
to the extent that they abandoned the oyster and fruit business. 

Mr. Dunning, when he came west, was the first regular mes- 
senger of Wells & Co. He left Buffalo for Detroit in January, 
1844, with quite a large consignment of goods, money, etc., and a 
few valuable packages for Chicago. He had a large Pennsylvania 
wagon that looked like a schooner on wheels, with a driver and 
four horses. Thus equipped, he made the journey in about seven 
days, I think. He said he had a prety rough time. After that the 
express left Buffalo weekly. The messengers were Parks, Emer- 
son and Geer (Kye Geer.) When navigation opened these same 
messengers continued, but to Detroit only, I do not know when 


messenger service was established between Detroit and pomts 
west, as I left the service in the fall of 1845. 

I had a little fun with this Western Express messenger busi- 
ness myself three or four times. The first trip was March 10, 
1845, out of Buffalo on the steamboat United States, Captain 
Whitaker. We were two days and two nights in the ice in sight of 
Buffalo light before we got into clear water. 

The Hemingways, of Buffalo, owned and operated the line 
of stages between the latter point and Detroit, through Canada, 
and they had their stage office with the express company on 
Exchange Street. The stages arrived and departed from this 
point, so it was quite the thing to get newspapers and small pack- 
ages to the Detroit office ahead of the mails through the courtesy 
and kindness of the stage drivers. 

Pomeroy & Co. had some little opposition after they got fairly 
on their feet. A firm by the name of Pullen & Copp, seeing what 
a good thing it promised to be, thought they would join in. They 
did start in, but they soon found that the "longest pole was bound 
to knock the persimmons." Pomeroy & Co. appearing to have it, 
they soon backed out. Adams, of Adams & Co.'s Boston and New 
York Express, occasionally came to Buffalo, with a lonesome car- 
pet bag in his hand, presumably to look the land over. He soon, 
quit, however. 

The excessive postage on letters charged by the United States 
had been for many years a matter of complaint among all classes. 
The express companies determined to "beard the lion in his den," 
and advertised to carry single letters to and from all points where 
they had their offices established, for ten cents each, which 
included delivery. They had stamps printed and gummed. The 
stamps were from a wood-cut and oval in form. The design on 
them I forget. Anyway, the innovation took with the public, and 
the company was rushed with business. But it did not continue 
long. Uncle Sam got his "dander up," pitched into the company, 
served an injunction and got a decision from the United States 
Supreme Court that knocked the express company out of the 
letter-carrying business. In the meantime about two bushels of 
letters had accumulated in the Buffalo office. These the company 
turned over to the postmaster at Buffalo to forward to their desti- 
nation. Those to them thev were directed had to fork over the 


amount of Uncle Sam's charge for postage. What the outcome of 
the matter was I never knew. It, however, paved the way to the 
adoption of cheap postage. 


The express company was the means of stimulating the news- 
paper and periodical business, and to it, in a large measure, is due 
the credit of affording them facilities that have enabled them to 
achieve the enormous business and circulation they now enjoy. 
The same can be said of the book trade. I well remember what 
an experience it was in Buffalo to get the New York dailies the 
next day after publication. Two rival newsdealers, Hawks at the 
po^toffice, and Burke in the Mansion house in that city, received 
all the New. York and Albany papers and all the magazines then 
published, which were only two or three, if my memory serves me. 
How rapidly they have grown since, under the distributing facili- 
ties afforded them, all know. 

The express company was also a great factor in the fish, 
oyster and fruit trade, placing" the great public out of New York 
almost on an equal footing. It was also a great factor in the milli- 
nery, jewelry and fancy goods trade at that time. The small and 
pressing wants of dealers in these lines could be readily supplied. 
I call to mind, aside from quite a number in Buffalo, a firm in 
Detroit, Freedman & Goodkind, in the millinery and fancy goods 
trade. The first express that went west from Buffalo in the winter 
of 1844, and every one thereafter, carried for that firm a large bale 
of millinery goods, dress trimmings, etc. The express charges 
were excessive, necessarily, but the house glady paid them in view 
of the increased custom the early receipt of the goods gave them 
— an innovation Detroit people had not been used to. Freedman, 
one of the firm, from the small store on Jefferson Avenue, 
branched out into one of larger dimensions on Woodward Ave- 
nue, and was for quite a period the proprietor of the largest dry 
goods house in Detroit, or in Michigan^ — Freedman Brothers. 

The express company also at that time did a large business 
buying foreign silver coin, German thalers, Spanish milled dol- 
lars, etc. 



The company (Pomeroy & Co.) sent a messenger weekly by 
canal packet boat during the season of navigation to Buffalo to 
Lockport and Rochester and return. Lockport at that time had 
no communication by rail with the outside world. This was a 
very enjoyable trip, though a little slow, but it gave one ample 
time to enjoy the beauties of the country through which the canal 
passed, and also ample time and opportunity to study that odd 
specimen of humanity, the "canal driver," and also to experience 
the pleasurable sensation of passing through the canal locks at 

The packet boats (the "Old Red Bird Line") on the canal 
between Buffalo, Lockport and Rochester at that time (1843) 
were new and acknowledged to be the finest and fastest packets 
that ever floated on the canal. Their names were the Empire and 
Rochester. They were no feet long by 12 feet wide, and ele- 
gantly fitted up with saloons, wash rooms, etc. The Empire was 
commanded by Captain D. H. Bromley (''Dan Bromley") and the 
Rochester by Captain J. H. Holmes, both princes of Captains, as 
many old Buffalonians and others, perhaps, will remember. The 
fare was $2, meals extra, and they were fine. The boats left from 
the Commercial Street bridge daily, and their departure was 
almost as much an event as that of an upper lake steamer ; indeed, 
quite so. 

There are so many more people in the world now and so 
many travel for pleasure only, and to while away the time, perhaps 
travel by canal may be revived, as pleasure travel is now revived 
between Detroit and Buffalo by two magnificent steamers, form- 
ing a daily line. What a contrast between them and those of the 
early days ! 

As said before, the company had not been in the habit of giv- 
ing or taking receipts for packages ; their customers did not 
demand it, neither did they. This custom of mutual confidence 
continued for two or three years, until the company got a rude 
awakening. In the early spring of 1844 Richard Mott, of Toledo, 
delivered to the express messenger, as he supposed, a package of 
money, said to contain $3,000. The package never reached its 
destination. A fuss was made about it, of course. I was sent to 
Toledo to see about it. I saw Mr. Mott, and he said he had occa- 


sion to make a remittance to Buffalo of the amount stated, and 
arriving at the Indiana House, in that city, just as the stage was 
leaving, he inquired at the stage window if the express messenger 
was inside. Some one answered, "Yes." He handed the package 
over, and that was the last of it. I made inquiries in regard to 
Mr. Mott's standing and veracity, and satisfied myself that he was 
all right, and so reported to tHe company, and they paid the $3,000 
without any further talk. A few months after this Pomeroy & 
Co.'s express messenger, Powell, was robbed of his money trunk 
at the Syracuse House in that city, kept by Phile Rust. The trunk 
was said to contain $7,000. I don't think the money was ever 
•recovered, or the thief found ; anyway, the company paid the loss, 
and ever after the receipt business, to and from, was in vogue and 
rigidly adhered to, as' all know. These two happenings served to 
strengthen still more the confidence of the public in the company. 


It is amusing, in the ligt of the present, to call to mind a trip 
(one of many) along shore from Buffalo to Detroit in charge of 
the express, say on the steamboat New England, for instance, in 
1844. She was very slow, light of draft, and her captain boasted 
that she could run anywhere. She used to touch at Dunkirk, Erie, 
Ashtabula, Conneaut, Painesville, Milan, Vermillion, Cleveland, 
Toledo, Monroe, and so on. These were all small places at that 
time, and the only towns that made anything of a show were 
Cleveland and Toledo. The former boasted of two lighthouses, 
as it does now, one at the mouth of the river, the other on the 
high bluff overlooking the lake. There were three or four ware- 
houses near the lighthouse at the mouth of the river, but not 
another structure of any description on what was then called the 
"Flats." There were quite a number of good" business lio'uses, 
besides a fine hotel, the Weddell House. There was a town across 
the river, Ohio City, I think it was, connected with Cleveland by a 
bridge. Toledo at that time was the most forlorn, uninviting look- 
ing place that it is possible to imagine. The authorities Had been 
cutting down the bank of the river Maumee, where is now Summit 
Street, and filling in along its front for dock purposes. 

There was not a structure of any kind on Summit Street until 
you got down the street some distance, and that, I think, was the 
residence of Richard Mott. There were warehouses on this front 


(two only, I think), newly erected, not very pretentious, and occu- 
pied, one by Alonzo Goddard, the other by King Bros. But the 
Toledo people said, notwithstanding the apparently gloomy out- 
look, there was a ''silver lining to the cloud," and that was the 
Wabash canal, which had just then been completed to their city. 
All know what that canal has done for Toledo, and what its citi- 
zens have done for themselves. There was only one hotel at 
Toledo at that time of any pretensions, and that one was the 
Toledo House, a two-story brick building, on the corner of Perry 
and Summit Streets. It was afterwards added to and renamed the 
'Indiana House. 

Monroe w^s more of a shipping point then than now. The 
steamboat ran up the short canal from the lake to the dock (which 
I think was about two miles from the city), where were several 
quite pretentious warehouses. Considerable shipping was done at 
this point, and for many years after, but I think now it has almost 
entirely ceased. 

There were no other points between Monroe and Detroit, 
except, perhaps, Brest and Gibraltar, but they were of no account. 
The trip was rather enjoyable than otherwise, when the weather 
was fair, and it took some three or four days to accomplish it. 

Of the large number of people, except in a clerical way, con- 
nected with the express companies (Pomeroy and American) at 
the times I mention, only one, I think, is alive and still remains 
"in harness," and he is the present efficient president of the Amer- 
ican Express Co., James C. Fargo. His brother, W. G. Fargo, 
secured him a place in the Buffalo office on Exchange Street, in 
1843 o^ 1844, a country lad fresh from the farm. He has passed 
along up from office boy, through a period of over 50 years, to the 
head of the largest business of the kind in the world. His brother 
Charles came into the business later, and was a good second. He 
died in Chicago a short time ago, vice-president, I think, of the 
same company. Nothing further need be said, I think, in regard 
to the Fargos that I have mentioned, and their connection with the 
express business, except this, their record speaks for itself now 
.and always. In this connection Fra Elbertus, the "high daddy" of 
the Roycrofters, East Aurora, N. Y., says in the Philistine: 

"There is no such thing as a science of education, any more 
than there is a science of medicine. Both are systems of experi- 
ment and guesswork. Some of the very strongest and most influ- 


ential men who have ever Hved were men who had no **advan- 
tages." Almost without exception, the men who have built up and 
who managed our great railroad were untaught country boys. 
Many of the strong men in all our great cities — the men at the 
heads of the factories, great enterprises and banks — were bovs 
who never had college advantages." 


I do not call to mind the date of the death of Henry Wells. 
He, too, departed this life a millionaire, I think. At any rate, he 
established a young ladies' seminary at Aurora, in New York 
state, or some point near Buffalo, and endowed it liberally. He, 
too, was on "his uppers" when he took hold of the express busi- 
ness. He was at one time, I was told, captain of a canal packet or 
passenger boat. He was also at one time employed as a runner for 
steamboats plying between New York and Albany on the Hudson 

An article that appeared in the New York Sunday Sun, of 
recent date, in relation to pioneer steamboat days, on the Hudson, 
has this to say of him in that regard : 

"The rivalry between the steamboats brought into existence 
an army of persistent and strenuous runners. Not a few of them 
rose in after years to distinction and wealth as railroad men and in 
other lines of transportation, as well as in politics. I remember 
one who operated on the New York docks. We used to call him 
stuttering Wells, on account of an impediment in his speech. 
Wells was a hustler in his line, but not much of a fighter. One 
day in a hand-to-hand contest over a passenger, a runner for an 
opposition boat knocked him down. Wells got up, pondered a 
moment as he saw his opponent bearing the passenger away in 
triumph, shook his head and walked away. He did not come back 
to steamboat running any more, but took to carrying parcels, 
packages, letters and the like to their destinations. He built up 
such a business in that line that he founded an express company. 
That company made him a millionaire and bears his name today 
as the "Wells-Fargo Express Company." So that knock-down 
argument of an opposition runner on the steamboat dock that day 
was rather a good thing for Stuttering Wells." 

He often used to tell of his selling tickets on the curb in front 
of the Park Theatre in New York, and also of opening a school to 




cure stammering, although a confirmed stammerer hhnself. He 
said he was quite successful in the latter vocation. But how he 
effected a cure on his patrons he did not divulge. 


Although my services with the express company lasted only' 
for a brief period, about three years, yet I was in almost at its 
beginning, and claim to have ''billed" the first goods that ever 
went west by express from Buffalo. Not much of a job, to be 
sure, and one that some one else would and could have performed, 
if L had not. Yet it is something to tell, seeing that after all these 
years, I am alive to tell it. I also claim to have originated the 
initials "C. O. D." that are often seen on express packages in place 
of "Collect on Delivery." If any one living is disposed to dispute 
these two propositions, let him "rise up and speak." 

The principal points between Buffalo and Albany were Roch- 
ester, Canandaigua, Syracuse, Auburn, Geneva and Utica. Can- 
andaigua was at one time head center of the stage lines in the 
state of New York, the home of some of the most prominent and 
wealthiest men in the state. Also the head and front of the 
Masonic Fraternity, where it was said the taking of Morgan was 
concocted. Anyway, in regard to this latter, two of its prominent 
citizens and Masons were imprisoned in the county jail at Canan- 
daigua, on suspicion of being engaged in the afifair. Their names 
were Cheesebro and Sawyer. 

I may be pardoned for getting off of the express track, as it 
were, and dwelling over much on Canandaigua, but the fact is, 
it was my birthplace, and also the home of the first clerk theT'om- 
eroy & Co. express employed after their move into their new quar- 
ters on Exchange Street. And all old expressgien will remember 
"Bill" Blossom, I am sure. He was a nephew of that prince of 
landlords, Col. Blossom, the proprietor of "Blossom's Hotel," 
known so well the country through. 

Geo. Bemis, son of Mr. J. D. Bemis, bookseller, was the effi- 
cient agent at this point, assisted by. a young man by the name of 
Shepard. All these were factors in favor of the express company, 
(except Morgan, perhaps). Canandaigua also, was one of the 
places Lafayette deigned to honor with his presence, when he vis- 
ited this country in 1824. He was dined and wined by the citizens 
at Blossom's Hotel. 


Rochester was another prominent and important point, more 
so, I think than any other between Albany and Buffalo, (more so 
than the latter.) D. Hoyt, the principal bookseller in the place, was 
the agent and had two efficient assistants, Starr Hoyt, his nephew, 
and Henry Hastings, two popular young men in Rochester, as 
many will remember. These young men were untiring in their 
efforts to serve the interests of the express company in season and 
out of season. The other points on the route were of importance, 
of course, but these I have mentioned, with the exception, perhaps, 
of Syracuse, were the most talked of and most heard from. 

Erastus Corning, head of the Albany City Bank, also chief of 
the great hardware house of Erastus Corning & Co., was a great 
friend and patron of the company, as also was Dean Richmond. 
In fact all men of prominence along the line from Albany to Buf- 
falo lent their aid and gave their good words for the success of 
this new venture. 

When the ice went out of Buffalo Creek, in the spring, it was 
a sure sign, and noted as such, then that the Hudson River was 
open, from Albany to New York ; a gratifying event to the express 
company, as during the closing of the Hudson, the only communi- 
cation between Albany and New York was by the Housatonic 
Railroad, and that was very unsatisfactory and uncertain. They 
used to call it ''The Ram's Horn." 

The founder of the express business in the Unied States was 
William F. Harnden, who commenced the transportation of bun- 
dles and parcels between Boston and New York March 4, 1839. 
A year later (1840) a competing express was started by P. B. 
Burke and Alvin Adams, the sole ownership and management of 
which soon passed into the hands of the latter. In 1841 Mr. 
Adams associated with himself as partner William B. Dinsmore, 
of New York, and placed him in charge of the New York office. 
Following this enterprise were the companies started by Gay & 
Kinsley and Pomeroy & Co., and the Wells & Fargo. Mr. Harn- 
den died in 1848. 

Contrasting the. business of the express companies the pres- 
ent, in Michigan only, with that of 1842, 1843 ^^^ 1844, I copy 
an article that appeared in one of the daily papers in Detroit. 

"The American Express Company paid its annual taxes in 
March, 1902, and in its report to the auditor-general stated that 


it had 555 agencies, and the National Express, which is under its 
control, in Michigan, 88. The number of miles under which the 
former does business in the state is 4,191, and the latter 780. 

Receipts for 1901 : 

American in Michigan were $370,825 81 

National in Michigan were 76,672 63 

Total $447,498 44 

In closing this article all I have to say is: All the express 
people had to do in the early days, and since, was to get in ahead 
on every new route that was opened and to take care of the busi- 
ness that came to them. Once firmly seated in the saddle they 
could not be easily unhorsed, nor were they. 



WOOD worth's steamboat house. 

WOODWORTH'S HOTEL was in the early days the cen- 
ter of almost everything, all the stage lines started from 
there and nearly everyone of any note put up at this hos- 
telry. ''Uncle Ben's" was as well known as any house of 
• its kind in all the northwest. Here were held many of the fes- 
tivities and functions of impkDrtance, military or otherwise. 

I remember one occasion, a ball held directly after the con- 
clusion of the Patriot War and Washington's birthday. It was 
a brilliant affair. All the British officers stationed at Maiden and 
Sandwich were invited and attended in full uniform, which was 
quite elaborate with hussar jacket, dependent from one shoulder, 
with side arms, saberstache, aigulettes, scarlet bobtailed coats, 
knee breeches, silk stockings, etc. This was the same kind of 
uniform it was said, that the. British officers wore at Waterloo, 
minus the silk stockings and knee breeches. The originators of 
the ball anticipated a rumpus at the ferry dock, foot of Wood- 
ward Avenue, on the arrival of the guests, on account of the ill- 
feeling entertained by our people on the border, engendered in 
consequence of the then recent patriot disturbance. A large crowd 
did gather at the ferry landing, but happily nothing unpleasant 
occurred. Another rather interesting event happened there, an 
auction for the benefit of the Free School Society which was run- 
ning a free infant school, in a building which had been part of old 
Fort Shelby, which building stood on the line of Cass farm. The 
auction was held in the dining room of the hotel and the articles 
to be disposed of were, fancy goods, needle work, etc. Colonel 
Edward Brooks, a humorous and witty man, was the auctioneer. 
One of the articles put up was a roasted turkey, donated by Oliver 
Newberry, for which Landlord John R. Kellogg, of the National 


Ffotel (now the Russell House), and Landlord Wales, of the 
Michigan Exchacge, bid against each other until it was finally 
knocked down to Kellogg for $200. My eye came across another 
version of this auction sale and I give it below : 

"After the sale, Mr. Lillibridge, of the Tontine restaurant, 
in the old council house, nearby, had a turkey waiting for a pur- 
chaser. It was proposed that this turkey be obtained and sold for 
the benefit of the society. Mr. Kellogg and Mr. Wales went for 
the turkey, and it was proposed that the two draw lots for it and 
give it to the ladies. Thereupon Lillibridge declined to sell, but 
shouldered the turkey, brought it to the sale and donated it to 
the ladies, and it was sold over and over again and finally knocked 
off for $200." 

I was present at this auction and I think the first version is 
the correct one. I know Mr. Newberry presented a turkey. 
Various articles brought large prices. For instance, a doll made • 
of raisins excited such competition that it was finally knocked 
down at seventy-five or a hundred dollars. The successful bid- 
der, I think, was Oliver Newberry. People had some money to 
burn, even in those early days of Detroit. The fair netted $1,656. 

"Uncle Ben" retired from the hotel business after awhile, 
and settled on his farm, near St. Clair City. Milton Barney 
succeeded him in the keeping of this house. But its glory had 
departed. Barney continued it for a while, until the fire of 1*848 
swept it away. 


Mr. Barney had a beautiful daughter, Caroline. She was 
highly accomplished and all that, and the father set great store 
by her. She did not happen at that time to be in the social swim, 
but soon attracting the attention of some of the young men of 
Detroit's society, they chose to introduce her into their set if she 
so desired. She was not adverse to the idea and the opportunity 
soon came. The "boys," as they termed themselves, had formed 
a dancing club (this in the winter), and met once in every two 
weeks at their homes, each gentleman inviting his own lady. 
Miss Barney *was invited and was escorted, in the first instance, 
by the gentleman giving the party. She was well received, and 
ever afterwards did not lack for "invites" and a welcome from 
all. But during the early summer following death came to her 
in the shape of malignant erysipelas. She was widely mourned, 
and her funeral was largely attended. *' 



Uncle Ben Woodworth had two sons and two daughters. 
One was drowned at the foot of Randolph Street in 1829. One 
of the daughters was married about 1830, to whom I have for- 
gotten; the other daughter, Ann, was married to Mr. Simon 
Brown, who afterwards became colonel of a Michigan cavalry 
regiment in the civil war, and attained the rank of brevet briga- 
dier-general. The other son, Samuel, must be remembered by 
many. He was his father's right-hand man. Prompt and ener- 
getic, he was always "on deck." After quitting the hotel business 
he purchased and became captain of the steamer Vance and was 
blown up on her shortly afterward while the steamer was lying at 
her dock in Windsor. . 

Ann Woodworth was a sprightly, quick-witted, black-eyed 
lady and was the boss in the kitchen and upstairs as well. 

Following were the lines of stages running from Wood- 
worth's Steamboat hotel in 1832, daily: 

Sandusky line, passing through Monroe and Maumee; St. 
Joseph line, passing through Ypsilanti, Saline, Clinton, Tecumseh, 
Jonesville, Mottville, White Pigeon and Niles; Ann Arbor line, 
passing through Pekin, Plymouth and Panama; Pontiac line, 
passing through Rochester, Stony Creek and Romeo ; also a line 
to Mt. Clemens, three times a week, Ypsilanti daily, in the 
morning and sometimes an extra at 12 o'clock, noon. 


. I copy an article written in 1877, in regard to Sam Wood- 
worth, and the hotel, by the late Geo. C. Bates. The latter was a 
citizen of Detroit in 1835 and later. 

''Come a little closer to the front (Steamboat hotel) and 
there you see that same old omnibus having on its white panels 
over the door in great gilt letters, "Woodworth's Steamboat 
Hotel," and standing, aiding passengers to aHght, is a stout red- 
haired, blue-eyed, very polite young man, about 28 years of age, 
whose green frock-coat is buttoned very tightly about his person, 
his dazzling-striped pantaloons fitting very closely, while a black 
string and broad rolling shirt collar gave the Byronic appearance 
to Sam Woodworth, the son of its proprietor — the major domo, 
the man-of-all-work, who accompanied the omnibus to all steam- 

21 6 e;arly days in Detroit. 

ers, whose politeness, affability and knowledge of all men and 
things, made him a very different hotel clerk from the diamond- 
studded clerk of modern days. Everyone, man or woman, who 
ever entered 'Uncle Bens,' as the Woodworth's hotel was called 
for short, will remember Sam's suavity of' manner, his graceful, 
smiling politeness, smacking a little of Sam Weller's, but still, a 
kind-hearted, truly polite, and quite well-educated son of a brave 
old father, who, after serving in the capacity of general manager 
of Woodworth's hotel, for years, became possessed of the. vaulting 
ambition to step up the ladder, and become the master of a steam- 
boat, to stand, like old Commodore Blake, on the pilothouse, pull 
this bell, that, and shout in loud tones, 'Avast, there !' 'Port, sir !' 
'Port sir !' and, who having purchased a very small steamer called 
the General Vance, commenced his regular trips to Truax's 
(Trenton) and Newport, down the river and back, all in a single 
day, touching at Windsor, Sandwich, Springwells, Ecorse and all 
the intermediate points, 'wind and weather permitting,' until one 
day, when lying at the Windsor dock, the teakettle engine of poor 
Sam exploded, and the last ever seen of him was when he was 
observed with outstretched arms and widespread limbs going up 
higher than a kite, where many of the old sailors on the steamers 
of those days followed him. 

"The steamer was split up into matches, and what was left of 
poor Sam was followed to the old cemetery — Sexton Noble and 
his pipe managing the hearse — by all the old habitues of that inn, 
and no man ever deserved more justly the tears that were shed 
over his remains than he did." 


Mr. Bates also speaks about Uncle Ben Woodworth in this 
wise : "But come, let us enter this hospitable old home and first 
pay our respects to Uncle Ben, a broad-shouldered, gray-eyed 
man, then nearly 60 years of age, with very firm lips, mild in his 
outward seemings, but when enraged a perfect old volcano, whose 
increasing pallor, and deepening of the wrinkles on his face, told 
of the higher barometer of passion within ; a great-handed, strong, 
old-fashioned Yankee, whose heart was as open as the day, and 
whose industry and cordiality made his home the headquarters of 
all the steamboat men, and pioneers of the Straits." 

Mr. Bates also mentions a noted character of those davs, Wil- 


liam Clay, and says this of him : "Having shaken hands with 
'Uncle Ben,' we pass into the barber shop, and, behold, here is 
William Clay, the learned tonsorial artist, the cultivated, educated 
barber from England, a man sui generis, who could cut your hair 
in the very latest fashion, and chop logic with you ad interim; 
who would give you a superb shave and simultaneously discourse 
on the Greek roots; who would furnish an elegant shampoo and 
all the while interesting you by quotations from Socrates, Long- 
inus, Thomas x\quinas; who would give you the catalogue of his 
private library — where the very finest editions of the Greek, Latin 
and English classics could be found ; a man who would make you 
a wig and at the same time weave you a web of philosophy, of 
metaphysics and religion that would carry you to your grave; a 
learned, scholarly, thoroughly educated barber, who only went 
to rest these last few months (about 1875) and who was indeed 
a marvel of the bygones of Detroit. 'When shall we look upon 
his like again?' — a scholarly barber; a logical wigmaker; a class- 
ical hairdresser ; a most learned shampooer ; a tonsorial artist, and 
expounder of Greek phiHsophy, all combined ; a marvelous con- 
junction of the vulgar art of living, with the aesthetics of the 
academy, the homely drudgery of everyday life, united with the 
beautiful teachings of Plato, Socrates and Cicero on the banks of 
the Ilyssus." 

Mr. Bates goes on to say further of the Steamboat Hotel : 


"But let US look the Woodworth Hotel over — it will take but 
a moment. Observe it is only two stories over the basement ; it is 
plain in construction and model. On entering from the street you 
find the stage office, the bar, wherein those days one could get a 
glass of pure Monongahela whisky, old Jamaica rum, brandy 
imported from Quebec, that had no adulterant in it — bygones now 
giving place only to liquid hell fire, composed of all sorts of ingre- 
dients. Then came a large sitting room; then a large dining 
room, all neatly and simply furnished, but all most comfortable. 
In the next flight of stairs was the ladies' parlor, a very large 
room, which we used to qccupy for Whig meetings ; several large 
double rooms, where you would find not infrequently at least eight 
members of the legislative council, all living and sleeping there. 
The carpets were not velvet nor Royal Wilton, but three-ply, soft- 


ened by heavy linings of hay, which gave rather frowzy odor to 
the room. The furniture was very substantial, not wahdgany ; the 
forks were steel, not silver, and the knives had bone instead of 
ivory handles; but every room and bed in that hotel was full, year 
in and year out. 

"In February of each year, after the session of the Supreme 
Court of the territory, around that table were wont to congregate 
the members of the bar; and the annual bar dinner was given 
when Judge Woodbridge, that witty old gentleman at the head 
of the table, was flanked by Chief Justice Sibley and Justice Mor- 
rell. At the foot sat Harry Cole, with Ross Wilkins on his right, 
and midway between the two was General Charles Larned, one of 
the most elegant, dashing and princely of all that bar, having on 
either hand George McDougall, the father of the bar, and Charles 
Cleland, his poet, editor, toastmaster ; while on the other side sat 
Augustus S. Porter pulling his nose in nervous enjoyment of the 
wine and wit, when every member was condemned to give a toast, 
tell a story, make a speech, sing a song o-r drink a glass of salt and 
water, and when Cleland's last toast was always to old McDou- 
gall, a legal Falstaff, redivius, the quondam father of the bar, 
then lighthousekeeper at Fort Gratiot, and which was drunk 
standing, somewhat in these words : 

" 'Brethren of the Bar : We drink now to the Nestor of our 
bar, George McDougall, who, in early life, shed the light and bril- 
liancy of his genius over our profession in beautiful Michigan, but 
who now, in his old age, illuminates the dark waters of Lake 
Huron with his magic lantern, and so guides the tempest-tossed 
mariner safely through storms and dangers of the lake down to * 
the silvery streams of St. Clair.' 

"At which three cheers were given, heel taps all around, and 
then, after a valedictory from Judge Hand, the bar went back 
into chancery." 



Melvin Dorr, city auctioneer, occupied the first house this 
side of the Cass residence, and on the line of the farm. The. next 
was the Mansion House, about where Cass Avenue crosses Jeffer- 
son now. This and Uncle Ben Woodworth's Steamboat Hotel 
were the only hotels of any consequence in the city then. This 
Mansion House was built and owned by Judge Woodward arid 
was built in 1824 of the brick and stone taken from the ruins of 


old Fort Shelby when it was demolished. It was not very large 
(three or four stories, I think), and, with the out-building, 
extended back to what is now Larned Street. It had a high, open 
porch that occupied its entire front, su{)ported by large wooden 
pillars. Across the street from it was a large summer house, built 
apparently for the pleasure of the guests of the house, and where 
a band, when they had one, discoursed music, such as it was. The 
high bank in front of the Cass farm extended to and a little 
beyond the Mansion House. This summer house was on this bank 
and had a long flight of steps leading from it down to Jefferson 
Avenue, where the latter deflected from its course, about where 
Cass Avenue crosses, and ended in the river. It was a pleasant 
experience to spend a summer evening on the hotel porch or in the 
summer house. Perhaps there are some living who can remem- 
ber the pleasure, and with myself regret that the needs of business 
and commerce necessitated the destruction and obliteration of this, 
the fairest part of the city. It is hard to realize the change it has 


Here at this Mansion House and at Uncle Ben Woodworth's 
Steamboat Hotel all the notables of the country visiting the city 
were entertained. General Scott and suite made the former their- 
headquarters in 1832, as also did Black Hawk and his suite, on 
their way from Washington to their homes, after receiving a 
wholesome chastisement from Uncle Sam. Here also the citizens 
of Detroit banqueted General Cass on the eve of his departure for 
Washington to accept the portfolio of the secretary of war. I got 
into this banquet for a short time through the good oflices of 
Charles Mack, who was a chum of mine, and son of the proprietor, 
Andrew Mack. I remember quite well the appearance of the 
whole affair, the company present, etc. I also remember Major 
Henry Whiting's recitation of his poem, "Michigania." 

Mr. Alvah Bronson was -the first proprietor, General J. E. 
Schwarz the next and Andrew Mack next, Mr. Uhlman next, and 
then Mr. Boyer. 

The hotel was demolished in 1834, when the Cass farm front 
was graded down and dumped into the river, making some dozen 
or more acres of available river front. A singular fact in regard 
to General Schwarz and Mr. Uhlman was that they were the only 
two native-born Germans in the city at that time. 



Colonel Andrew Mack was the first landlord after I came, or 
shortly after. He was also United States custom house officer, 
and the office was in a small building adjoining or near the hotel. 
I think he afterwards kept the American Hotel (where the Biddle 
House now is) for a short tirtie when it was first opened. A fine 
man was the colonel. Of commanding presence and a "Chester- 
field" in manners, he easily won the esteem of all. He was ably 
seconded by his amiable wife. He subsequently moved or retired 
to a farm on the St. Clair River, between Port Huron and St. 
Clair City, where he died many years ago. 

Charles Mack, son of Colonel Andrew Mack, proprietor of 
the old Mansion House, was a handsome boy, and grew to a fine 
manhood, but had no adaptation for business. He tried to be an 
artist ; had a studio here, worried a while at portrait painting, but 
soon gave it up, not meeting with success. He entered the United 
States revenue service, and continued in it until he had to be 
retired on account of rheumatism, which finally caused his death, 
I think. He married one of the Clark sisters, who at one time 
( 1838 or 9) was playing at the old brick theatre near the public 
library building, with their brother-in-law, William Sherwood. 
They were very pretty, bright and attractive, and were great 
favorites. They made a great impression on the "boys," and I 
did not wonder at Charley Mack's falling in love with the pret- 
tiest one. Among other gifts the sisters were fine singers, and, 
accompanied by Sherwood, who was himself a fine singer, they 
rendered such songs as *'Hail Columbia," "Star Spangled 
Banner" and others of the patriotic order, that set the house wild 
with enthusiasm. 

Mrs. Mack is living yet, and is, with her daughter, Mrs. Fitz 
Talman, somewhere in North Carolina. 


The late George C. Bates, in some of his reminiscences 
(1877) has this to say in regard to the old Mansion House and 
of its closing days, in 1834, when it was demolished, and the glory 
of the old house was transferred to the new Michigan Exchange: 

"In those 'by-gones' the Detroit River in turning around so 
as to swing Sandwich Point, made a huge detour just at the foot 


of Cass Street, and, sweeping away inland, made a second Tappan 
Zee. Its banks at that curve were the Cass farm, the Jones, 
Woodbridge, Baker and Thompson farms, very high and bold, 
and General Cass' orchard came almost to the edge of the bluff. 
High up on the bank just below Cass Street stood this dashing 
old home, the Mansion House, built many years before our visit 
of today (July, 1835). It was made of stone, some three stories 
high, with a veranda along its entire front and huge pillars reach- 
ing clear away to the roof, and then extending back some 200 feet 
deep. From that veranda you could look right down over old 
Uncle Oliver Newberry's warehouse, across the Detroit Iron 
Works, and have an exquisite view of the river, the dwellmgs and 
gardens at Windsor and Sandwich down around the Pomt, 
Springwells, and the smoke of the upcoming steamer could always 
be seen far away around Sandwich Point. The old porch was 
very cool and delightful, and there today you see' grouped on the 
veranda young Governor Tom Mason, so handsome and genial; 
prim John Norvell, Lieutenants Alex. Center, John M. Berrien, 
Heintzelman, the latter all drawn up with rheumatism ; Lieutenant 
Poole, Captain Russell, Major Forsyth, of the army; Judge Wil- 
kins. Judge Morrill, Thomas Sheldon, Justin Burdick and numer- 
ous other long-time habitues of this old inn — for today was a gala 
day in Detroit. 

**The records of that old Mansion House, if they could be 
exhumed and read now, would furnish a sketch of Detroit, its old 
citizens and guests that would astonish, interest and amuse. 

"On that veranda in 1837 Daniel Webster was welcomed to 
Detroit and in General Cass' orchard — afterwards graded down 
by Abraham Smolk, and dumped into the river, making some 17 
acres of new river front — made one of those God-like speeches, 
which no other man ever had, ever can or ever will make. At that 
dining table during a whole season was Silas Wright, New York's 
greatest senator, with Judge Morrell, wife and daughter, Captain 
J. B. F. Russell, of the United States artillery, and his gorgeous 
wife, a splendid beauty. At the same table Stephen, A. Douglass 
was not an infrequent guest, and there I have seen in brilliant 
army costume side by side Generals Scott, Worth, Wool, 
McComb, Whiting, Larned and an army of subalterns. But now 
here today (1834) the glory of dear old Mansion House 



Mr. Bates also discourses quite at length in regard to the 
opening of the Michigan Exchange. I have already given above 
quite a space to this hostelry, yet I did not refer to its opening, as 
I was a young schoolboy in those days and do not remember much 
about it, although I knew of it, as Edwin A. Wales, son'of Austin 
Wales, was a schoolmate of mine at the time. I will let George C. 
Bates tell the story. 

''Now the Michigan Exchange is opened and all the crowd 
are about to go there and aid in its christening. So in fall all the 
gentry, and in double files, led by Governor Stevens T. Mason and 
John Norvell, we march to Shelby Street, corner of Jefferson 
Avenue, where at the door the entire party are welcomed by Shu- 
bal Conant, the owner and builder of that then magnificent pal- 
ace, and by Austin Wales and his brother, E. B. Wales, then its 
proud and youthful landlord. Prodigious, indeed, is this grand 
new hotel, one hundred feet front on the avenue, the same in 
depth on Shelby Street, four stories high, of pressed brick, with 
stone trimmings. It begins a new era in Detroit. Old times are 
passing away and commerce and fashion are westward bound 
today. Of the building itself I need not speak. Like the monu- 
ment of Bunker Hill, 'there it stands, and the first rays of the 
morning sun greet it, and the last hours of expiring day linger and 
play around its base.' " 

"The dining room in that day was upstairs over the corner 
store, at the conjunction of Jefiferson avenue and Shelby street, 
where Webb, Douglass & Co., of Albany,^ the junior partner of 
whom was John Chester, who for many a long year had the first 
wholesale and retail crockery establishment. Directly from the 
street you entered the office, and on the right was a large well- 
lighted, airy, elegant bar, with a mahogany rail, rested on plated 
silver arms or braces in front, and where, on this opening day, 
everybody, young and old, grand and humble, drank pure liquors 
to their hearts' content, for then we had no red ribbons ; '*'tis true, 
'tis pity, and pity 'tis, 'tis true.' Everybody shakes hands with 
Shubal Conant, then a teetotaler of the strictest kind, like old 
Solomon, who had found 'wine and strong drink to be a mocker.' 
Everybody congratulated Wales & Co. and everybody drank with 
everybody and all 'went merry as a marriage bell.' Late dinner 


was served, and around that first table were gathered John A. 
Welles, George B. Martin, Walter Newberry, Rufus Brown, John 
Chester, Judge Hand, Colonel Daniel Goodwin, Ambrose Town- 
send, John L. Talbot, Bill Alvord, Morgan L. Martin, while at its 
head sat Judge Conant,*a Vermont giant — who occupied that same 
seat until he was upwards of 80 years of age — and a great number 
of invited guests, including all who came over from the Mansion 

*'The register of that first day of the Michigan Exchange, 
Irish John used to shriek it out, 'Passengers for the Michigan 
Exchange, omnibus going up now,' will furnish over 150 names 
of the Detroit guests, and out of that number not a dozen remain 
to this day ( 1877) to read these 'Bygones,' or to recall the pleas- 
ures of youth and hope there gathered around the first table ever 
spread in that now universally known hostelry. Underneath that 
old roof lived Fletcher Webster, the favorite son of Daniel Web- 
ster, and wife; Anthony Ten Eyck and lady; Marshal F. Bacon 
and wife ; John A. Welles and wife ; Robert McClellan and wife, 
and nearly all the quondam guests of the Mansion House, while 
Judge Conant, Uncle Gurdon WiUiams, Salt Williams ('Stam- 
mering Alph'), Young Gurdon, poor Bill Alvord, John L. Tal- 
bot, and multidudes of others either actually lived in the house 
or left it to die somewhere else. 

"Forty-two years have come and gone since that opening 
day of the Michigan Exchange — an epoch in Detroit (July, 1885), 
and of the multitudes then in our streets only here and there can 
you see a gray-haired man plodding wearily on, waiting for the 
carriage that will be his escort to Elmwood^ — but even to this day, 
with its old-fashioned front, its simplicity and plainness of out- 
ward seeming, whosoever shall enter there will find every com- 
fort and care that heart can desire or money command. Like the 
old homes of Detroit, its latchstring is always on the outside, and 
the weary and dust-stained traveler will ever find a cordial and 
hearty welcome." 


The Michigan Exchange was built by Shubal Conant about 
1837 and opened by Austin A. Wales, who was succeeded by 
Orville B. Dibble, and the latter by Daniel Goodnow, formerly of 
the Macomb Street House, Monroe. Mr. Goodnow had asso- 
ciated with him his son, William. They were succeeded by Fel- 


lers & Benjamin, the latter having been keeping the old National 
Hotel, the present Russell House ; they were followed by Edward 
Lyon. I don't remember who had it after that. During Mr. 
Lyon's reign Homer Barstow, George W, Thayer, now of Grand 
Rapids, and Farnham Lyon, now of the Bancroft House, Sag- 
inaw, were associated with him from time to time in running the 
house. The hotel was a success from the start, and to accommo- 
date the constantly increasing business, Mr. Conant was obliged 
to enlarge the building on towards Wayne Street, and towards 
the river on Shelby Street to Woodbridge Street. The original 
building occupied but one-half of the lot on the corner of Jeffer- 
son Avenue and Shelby Street ; that is, it e:jctended back from the 
avenue about lOO feet. In the rear ran an iron balcony the width 
of the hotel, the reading and dining rooms opening out on to it. 
On one occasion under Mr. Goodnow's supervision, a public 
dinner of some sort was given, and among the guests was Curtis 
(Curt) Emerson. Many people will remember him. After the 
wine had circulated pretty freely, he became quite jolly and 
uproarous. Mounting the table, he proceeded to promenade up 
and down, kicking the dishes right and left. His father, Thomas 
Emerson, was sitting in the reading room quietly reading during 
all this. Mr. Goodnow informed him of what was going on in 
the dining room and entreated him to go in and see if his son 
''Curt" could not be induced to simmer down. The old gentle- 
man readily assented and, going out on to the balcony, through 
the open windows (it being summer), he saw his son "Curt" 
dancing up and down the table and raising the old "Harry" with 
the crockery. He looked on for a minute, chuckling, and this is 
what he said, "Yes, that is my son Curt, sure enough. I used to 
do the same thing myself when I was his age. Go it. Curt." He 
returned to the reading room and resumed his paper as though 
nothing unusual had happened. 


The Michigan Exchange, in the "forties," was also a famous 
place for the gay and dancing portion of Detroit's society, young 
and old, to assemble during the long winter months and "chase 
the hours with flying feet ;" Detroit was always gay in those days, 
more particularly in the winter season. When the "frost king" 
locked the lake and river in his icy embrace, cutting off all com- 


munication from the eastern world, fun and frolic had full sway. 
It was here in the ball room of this hotel, during the time the 
Fourth United States Infantry (Grant's regiment) was sta- 
tioned here, that all Detroit's gay '^400" or less, whatever there 
was, the creme de la creme, met in weekly cotillion parties, gotten 
up by subscription. That they were exclusive goes without say- 
ing. You could not get within the charmed circle, had you ever 
so much money, unless you were in the swim ; would not even be 
asked to subscribe; no, sir! The officers of the army stationed 
at this post, on detached duty (and it being the headquarters of 
the "Michigan department of the lakes"), there was always quite 
a number of them who contributed to their success. General 
Grant, then a brevet-captain in the Fourth United States Infantry, 
was a subscriber also, and with his bride, formerly Miss Dent, 
was in attendance at all these parties, as well as the other officers 
of the regiment and their ladies during its stay here. Grant him- 
self did not dance, but his wife did. He used to stand around or 
hold down a seat all the evening. One thing I noticed in him. 
He was always ready to join the boys when they went out to 
"see a man." This they did pretty often, as boys and men will, 
but I never saw him under the influence of liquor, and I saw him 
as often as anyone here, anyone, I mean, outside of the members 
of his regiment and family ; and why I came to know so much in 
regard to him arose from the fact that I was at that time in the 
employ of Major E. S. Sibley, U. S. A., quartermaster for the 
military department of the lakes, with headquarters in this city, 
as quartermaster's clerk. Captain Grant was acting assistant 
quartermaster and commissary of that portion of his regiment 
stationed at Detroit barracks. He drew all his funds and orders 
for supplies for his command from our office ; consequently I was 
in frequent communication with him. He was always very tac- 
iturn, talking no more than the business would allow, making his 
wants known in the fewest possible words, and that was about all. 
I attributed it to his youth and diffidence, for he certainly was 
very "backward about coming forward." This latter trait in him 
led me to ask his quartermaster-sargeant why the colonel of the 
regiment appointed him acting quartermaster. He said he really 
did not know why ; just happened to do so, he guessed, "but," he 
said, "the captain, I will own is not much good when you come to 
papers, accounts, returns and all that sort of thing, but when you 



g-et to the soldier part of it, drill, manual of arms, etc., (shoulder 
arms business we used to call it) he could handle the regiment 
as well, if not better, than any other fellow in it." This sergeant's 
name was Smith. I once repeated the above, in relation to Grant. 
to Mr. H. Garland and think he published it among other things 
about the general in a magazine a few years ago. 


These gatherings were always delightful and a source of 
much pleasure to those who had the entre. Mr. Lyon was the 
most even-tempered landlord, except Mr. Goodnow and his son, 
William, that ever held sway over the fortunes of this hotel. No 
matter how gay or wild the "boys" would get, nor how "Curt" 
Emerson and Josh Carew and that set would rush things, he 
never got off his balance. If things did get smashed, he always 
knew well that there was always someone to foot the bill, and no 
talk back. I call to mind one occasion. (It was New Year's eve, 
1845 or 6; I forget which year.) There had been a New Year's 
ball in the hotel that night, and on its conclusion (and it was an 
unusually brilliant and gay affair), some eight or ten gentlemen 
of the younger set hied themselves to the dining room on the 
ground floor to pass the remainder of the evening. Champagne 
was freely indulged in, and to the extent that it made the boys 
quite jolly. They occupied the table next to the street, on which 
were many remains of the ball supper, such as crockery, glass- 
ware, etc. Soon the fun began, fast and furious, and in a very 
short time there was not a thing left on that table. During the 
performance Mr. Lyon would look in now and then to see how 
they got along, but never an angry word nor remonstrance on his 
part, as to the noise they were making or the havoc they had 
caused in the crockery and glassware line. He knew the party 
well, and that they were amply able to pay for what they called 
for or for any damage his property might sustain at their hands. 
They did pay the next day or two, and no mistake, and all parties 
were satisfied. 

hawley's beer room. 

Under the corner of the Michigan Exchange on' Shelby 
Street, and directly after its completion, a Mr. Hawley, from 
Cleveland, opened a place for the sale of "Cleveland Beer" and 
a sandwich ; nothing else. It was called "Hawley's Cleveland 


Beer Room." The beer was fine; much better than Thomas 
Owen's brewery had suppHed to the people of Detroit. He 
directly had a large run of custom and continued there for quite 
a while, making money. There in that little downstairs room 
he laid the foundation for a fortune. Afterwards he established a 
brewery of his own. Many will remember ''Hawley's Brewery 
and Malt House" on. Bates Street, between Woodbridge and 
x^twater Streets. 


Here is a list of people of note who have lived at the Michi- 
gan Exchange, from time to time. Tubal Conant, General 
Brooke, U. S. A. ; Colonel J. B. Grayson, U. S. A. ; Colonel Jas. 
R. Smith, U. S. A.; Colonel J. B. Kingsbury, U. S. A.; Colonel 
Electus Backus, U. S. A.; Major Hunter, paymaster, U. S. A. 
(afterwards brigadier-general in the civil war) ; Captain Irwin 
McDowell, U. S. A. (later on commander of the Army of the 
Potomac) ; Lieutenant De Lancey Floyd Jones, U. S. A. (after- 
wards colonel Third United States Infantry) ; Lieutenant J. M. 
Berrien, U. S. A.; Lieutenant Center, U. S. A.; Captain J. A. 
Whitale, U. S. A. ; Captain Robinson, U. S. A. (afterwards briga- 
dier-general in the civil war) ; Josh Carew, Mr. Carnes, Curtis 
Emerson, Thomas Emerson (father of "Curt") ; Governor Austin 
Blair, George C. Bates, Mr. Van Husen and family. Judge War- 
ner Wing, Doctor T. B. Scovell, Colonel Rucker, of Grosse He; 
Lieutenant Holabird, U. S. A. (afterwards quartermaster-gen- 
eral United States Army) ; Lieutenant Hawkins, U. S. A. (after- 
wards commissary-general United States Army); Colonel John 
W. Alley, U. S. A. ; Colonel J. P. Taylor, U. S. A. (brother of 
President Taylor) ; Colonel Chilton, U. S. A. (afterwards on Gen- 
eral Lee's staff. United States Army). 


Alex H. Newbould made his home at the Exchange most of 
the time, as also did Henry J. Buckley, Colonel E. H. Thompson 
Flint, Colonel Grosvenor, Colonel Hammond, General Fountain 
and General Giddings of the state military department, during the 
first two or three years of the civil war. Whenever Gil Davidson, 
of the wholesale hardware house of Erastus Corning & Co., 
Albany, came to visit Alex Newbould and the "boys," the 
Exchange prepared itself for feasting, wine and wassail. In the 


private dining room would gather Alex Newbould, Josh Carew, 
Joe Clark, Curt Emerson, Colonel Grayson, Sam Suydam, Alph 
Hunter (Ypsilanti), Charles Ducharme, Fred W. Backus, etc., 
when fun, fast and furious, ruled the hour. 

Captain Meade, United States Army (afterwards in command 
of the Potomac) ; Lieutenant M. C. Meigs, United States Army 
(afterwards quartermaster-general. United States Army, during 
the civil war), were also guests of the house most of the time they 
were stationed here. Among those who lived at the Michigan 
Exchange in the early 40s was Joseph Clark ("Joe," as he was 
familiarly termed) , and his wife. Clark was a popular and genial 
man. He trained in the crowd composed of Josh Carew, Colonel 
Grayson, Curtis Emerson, John T. Hunt, Samuel Suydam, etc. 
His wife belonged to the fashionable set, and was a very bright, 
pleasant lady. She was the daughter of Colonel Fenton, of Flint. 
Her sister, Miss Jennie Fenton, lived with them at the Exchange. 
The)^ were there continuously through two winters, and added 
much to the gayeties' of that hostelry. General Brooke was a 
soldierly-looking man, as all who ever saw him will call to mind. 
He served with great distinction in the Mexican war, and came 
here with his regiment, the Fourth United States Infantry 
(Grant's regiment). 

Lake Superior magnates, the copper kings of the early days, 
usd to make this their headquarters also, when in the city. Among 
them were Simon Mandelbaum, that genial, nervous, energetic 
German, close friend of the Sibleys and the Bradys, as also of 
all the Lake Superior people. Among the latter were James Car- 
son, John Senter, Ransom Sheldon (the father of the Calumet & 
Hecla mine) ; C. C. Douglass; Hon. Peter White (the delegate 
from Carp River, Marquette), Holland, etc. 

General Custer, in 1861, then a fresh graduate from West 
Point and second lieutenant in a cavalry regiment, danced attend- 
ance on Governor Blair, waiting his pleasure, for an advancement 
to the colonelcy of a Michigan cavalry regiment. The latter hesi- 
tated, being distrustful of his flowing, yellow locks, and his other- 
wise effeminate appearance. He succeeded in gaining his oppor- 
tunity after a brief period, and all are familiar with the brilliant 
use he made of it. Chief Justice Charles W. Whipple made this 
house his home after the death of his wife. Chamberlain, the 
Democratic sage from Three Oaks, also had his headquarters 
here, when in the city. 

OLD hote:ls of de^troit. 229 

The members of the legislature, before the capital was 
removed to Lansing, bestowed their patronage about equally 
between the Exchange, American, National and Woodworth's, 
though I am inclined to think that Uncle Ben WoodwOrth got the 
lion's share, on account of old associations, etc. 

A me;lanchoi.y reminder. 

Well, the glory of the old hotel has departed, I fear never to 
return. What was almost the center of the city, around which, 
and in the immediate vicinity, ebbed and flowed nearly all the life 
there was here then, and I might say of the whole state, in either 
the social, political or business world, is now almost deserted, and 
the old hostelry has been given up to the rats. What a change it 
presents, seeing it then, as I did, and seeing it now, as I do. 

It seems to me the present site of the old Exchange would 
be an ideal one for the contemplated new hotel. Take the entire 
block, if it can be acquired, and have the house eight or ten 
stories high, with a summer garden on top, balconies to all rooms 
fronting on the river, above the third story. What a magnificent 
outlook all this would have. Not another city in the Union could 
match it. 


After Mr. Dibble left the Exchange he retired to private life, 
from which he emerged in company with his son Charles to take 
charge of the Biddle House, of which they were the first pro- 

Dibble had a very interesting family. They were all together 
when he kept that hostelry — two boys, Charles and George, and 
three girls. Sue' was the eldest ; the other two were quite young 
then. I have forgotten their names. George entered the navy 
as midshipman. His father was very proud of him — he was truly 
the "apple of his eye." When he was home on leave for the first 
time, and sported his midshipman's uniform, the "admired of all 
admirers," it did seem as though the father could not make 
enough of him. Indeed, he was a handsome, bright and genial 
youth of great promise, and a great favorite in the gay circles of 
Detroit's young society. and with all guests of the house. But, 
sad to say, he met a violent death, just before passing to a lieu- 
tenantcy, in California, at the hands of a desperado. The latter, 
for some cause, was never brought to justice. It was a terrible 


shock to the family, and I do not think the father or mother ever 
recovered from it entirely. 

Charles was associated with his father in the management of 
the Exchange, as also in that of the Biddle (as mentioned). 
Many will remember Charles L. Dibble, who was an ideal hotel 
Clerk, and all-around landlord as well. He was a favorite in 
society and with the public also. Strange to say, he, too, met a 
violent death, as did his brother George. It happened in an oil 
mill, near the foot of Dequindre Street, that himself and Mr. 
Higham (a civil engineer and formerly superintendent of one of 
the separate railroads between Albany arid Buffalo in 1842-3), 
were operating. It suddenly blew up one morning, killing both 
men instantly. 

Sue Dibble was a bright, charming society bud, the gayest of 
the gay. She had many admirers, but death came to her early, 
before she was out of her teens, and shortly after the death of 
her brother George, which seemed to add still greater weight to 
the burden of affliction already borne by the parents. The other 
two- daughters married, and are living in Syracuse, N. Y., or near 
there. One of them married a Mr. Stanton, who was at one time 
conductor on the Detroit & Milwaukee Railway ; the name of the 
other gentleman I have forgotten. I may be pardoned for dwell- 
ing so long on the Dibble family. I was on almost as intimate 
terms with them as I was with my own before they took charge 
of the Biddle House. 


The American Hotel was built somewhere about 1830, the 
Governor Hull residence being utilized in its construction ; and it 
was extended to Randolph Street, the first story of the exten- 
tion being used for stores. Its first proprietors were Austin 
Wales & Bro., or John Griswold, I forget which. Many others 
succeeded these in its management, until the great fire of 1848 
wiped it out. It was always a first-class hotel, fully on a par in 
every way with the Mansion House, Woodworth's National 6r 
the Exchange. During Mr. Griswold's occupancy it was the 
headquarters of the officers of the Fifth TJnited States Infantry, 
five of which companies were at that time stationed at the Detroit 
barracks, out on Russell Street. Nearly all of the officers of these 
companies boarded at the American. Many of them had families. 


All these, in conjunction with the other United States officers on 
staff duty stationed in the city, added much to the social swim, 
and there was a constant whirl of gayety at this hostelry, until 
the Mexican war rudely broke it up, but not before Griswold's 
pretty daughters, Martha and Clara, had been captured and made 
soldiers' brides by two officers^of the Fifth, Captain Carter L. 
Stevenson taking the former, and Lieutenant Paul Guise (brother 
of our old and lamented friend, A. H. Guise) taking the latter. 
After this, it always was more or less a military hotel. Mr. Gris- 
wold was the father of Attorney George R. Griswold, for many 
years county clerk ; Charles, deputy county register, and Dr. John 
Alexander. Many must remember these gentlemen. After think- 
ing the matter over I am satisfied that John Griswold was the first 
proprietor of this house, and that Austin Wales & Bro. succeeded 
him. It was not quite so gay as it was under Griswold's rule, 
though reasonably so. 

The first bachelors' ball that was ever given in Detroit came 
off at this house, directly after Wales took it. It was a brilliant 
affair, graced by the elite of the city, men and women. One 
peculiar feature about it was, there was a committee appointed to 
see that the ladies invited had an escort to and from the ball. The 
invitations stated that the recipient would be called for about a 
certain hour and also that it would be seen to that she had an 
escort to her home. So all anxiety on that score was done away 
with, and those that didn't have a beau got there and back to their 
residence all right. Rather unique, don't you think? 

Wales, after quitting this house, retired to his farm at Erin, 
a short distance out on the Gratiot Road, where he died many 
years ago. A large number of our people must remember him, 
as well as his brother, and his son, Edwin A. Wales. Mr. Wales 
had two charming daughters. One died in the early 40s; the 
other, Cornelia, married La Fayette Knapp, son of Sheriff Knapp, 
who declined or shrunk from the task of hanging Simmons, the 
wife murderer, in the early 30s. He died after a brief married 
life, and she afterward married Alex. H. Newbould. 


I think Petty & Hawley succeeded Austin Wales in the man- 
agement of this house, and after them J. W. VanAnden. It was 
at this hotel, during the proprietorship of Austin Wales, that Pro- 
fessor DeBonnville, a disciple of Mesmer, gfave exhibitions of his 


wonderful powers, and performed his wonderful cures, particu- 
larly of rheumatism. 

I have seen lots of people go to his rooms on crutches and 
come away without them, their aches and pains entirely dispelled. 
But I do not think the cures were lasting. The professor had 
two attendants, who seemed to be entirely under his influence. 
They were young men by the name of Williams and the other 
E. N. Lacroix. The latter most all old residents will remember. 
Whenever DeBonnville gave a lecture on mesmerism, these two 
were always in evidence. The professor was the first exponent 
of this wonderful science that Detroit had ever seen, and of 
course he drew crowds, and he no doubt made much money. 

Before leaving the American Hotel I will relate an incident 
with it, or, more properly, with the General Hull residence, which 
it afterwards absorbed. Mrs Nancy Hubbard, in a paper read at 
a meeting of old settlers at Port Huron, Mich., on July 3, 1886, 
in which reference was made to the early days in Detroit, says: 
"My father left Painsville, Ohio, in 1811, in an open boat, for the 
territory of Michigan, taking his family with him. We came 
around the shores of Lake Erie and were two weeks in making 
the trip to Detroit, stopping wherever night overtook us. When 
we reached Detroit, we landed where is now Randolph Street, but 
there was no street there then, and where Atwater Street now is 
was covered over entirely with water. There was but one dock, 
and it belonged to the United States government. The only 
church in Detroit was Ste. Anne's Catholic church. Father Rich- 
ard was the pastor. There were no settlements back from the 
river, the Indians being the only inhabitants of the forests, and a 
dense wilderness covered the state. Most of the inhabitants of 
Detroit at that time were French." 

Speaking about Hull's surrender, Mrs. Hubbard relates that, 
"A guard was placed around Hull's house, which stood where the 
Biddle House now stands, and the public buildings were all 
burned. After Hull was taken to Canada. General Proctor occu- 
pied his house and he offered $5 for every American scalp the 
Indians brought to him. I have seen twelve Indians go in at one 
time with scalps. At such a time the Indians would form a circle 
in Proctor's yard, with the scalps hung on a pole in the center, 
and would whoop and dance to the music of a small drum beaten 
by one of their members." 



The corner where the Russell House now is in the early days 
was inclosed by a cedar picket fence. In the inclosure was a 
small yellow house occupied by Dr. William Brown before he 
changed his residence to Jefferson Avenue, north side, just above 
Bates Street. Adjoining was a log house used as a schoolhouse. 
It had for a teacher a Mr. Healy (an Irishman), who was clerk 
of the steamer Henry Clay when I was a passenger on her to this 
city. After some years the National Hotel succeeded this log 
house and Dr. Brown's corner. It was built (if I don't mistake) 
by Mr. Chase, of the hardware firm of Chase & Ballard. Mr. 
Chase was a retired British army officer, and a grandfather of the 
Casgrains. Mr. Chase and family made their home at this house 
until his death. The National was a fine structure in its day, 
first-class in every respect and on an equal footing with the Man- 
sion, Woodworth's, Exchange and the American. Its first pro- 
prietor, I think, was Mr. S. K. Haning. He was succeeded by 
John R. Kellogg, H. D. Garrison, Edward Lyon, Fellers and 
Benjamin and, I think, the last proprietor was Mr. Russell, after 
whom the present house gets its name. It is my impression that 
it has always, up to the present time, been successful. The spa- 
cious dining and dancing hall of this hostelry was a favorite place 
for concerts, balls, etc., in the 40s and early 50s — much more so 
than any of the others, with the exception of the weekly cotillion 
parties at the Michigan Exchange in the winters of 1845-6. The 
dances of the Brady Guards were always given at the National, 
as also were the annual balls of the fire department, which were 
all brilliant affairs. The firemen's balls were a feature of the 
year, looked forward to with eager anticipation by every member 
of the department, and the fairer portion of the city as well. 
They came off about midwinter usually, and for months before 
the function the office of the secretary of the department in the 
hall, corner of Larned and Bates Street, was besieged by 
anxious inquirers to ascertain for a certainty that their names and 
those of their fair friends were on the list of the secretary. 

When the night came it seemed all too short to suffice for the 
eager longing, and the fuss and worry of preparation. Every 
phase of society attended these department balls. From the high- 
est to the lowest all met on a common footing, and everything 


went as *'merry as a marriage bell." Many, I presume, will 
remember them. Perhaps there are some that can call to mind 
the gay society that in the latter 30s, through the 40s and early 
50s used to congregate in assembly rooms of the Michigan 
Exchange, American and National (Russell) Hotels during the 
winter months. I have given something of a description of the 
balls given by the Brady Guards at the National Hotel in a for- 
mer article on our "Independent Military Companies." 

FAMOUS pe:opIvi: performed there. 

Every concert of any note was given at this house (the 
National). The great English singers, the Brahams, sang here, 
as did Henry Russell, the greatest of them all. Who that ever 
heard him render "The Brave Old Oak," "The Ivy Green," etc., 
will ever forget them or the singer? Others of reputation sang 
here, but their names have passed from my memory. Signor 
Martinez always gave his inimitable guitar concerts here. On 
this instrument he had no equal, as those that ever heard him will 
remember. Mr. Siddons and his niece at different times gave 
readings here. They were lineal descendants of the immortal 

Looking through a package of old letters, etc., I came across 
an invitation to attend a ball to be given the evening of February 
15, 1844, at this hotel, for the benefit of Mr. Noverre, an Italian 
music teacher here at that time, by the following gentlemen: 
Thomas C. Sheldon, Douglass Houghton, Orville B. Dibble, A. 
L. Williams, Edmund A. Brush, Lewis Cass, Jr., Alex H. Sibley, 
Samuel Lewis, John Bradford, John T. Hunt, John Watson, E. 
P. Seymour, Lieutenants George Deas,- J. L. Folsom, J. L. Jones, 
of the Fifth United States Infantry, stationed here, Walter Inger- 
soll, William N. Carpenter, T. W. Lockwood, James M. Welch, 
E. S. Truesdail, Charles S. Adams, J. B. Campau and Henry M. 
Roby. It was a gay affair, all the beauty and fashion of the city, 
as well as from the opposite side of the river, were present. The 
owners of the names appended to the invitation have all passed 
away, without an exception. Not more than five or six persons, 
myself among the number, are now living who attended the bril- 
liant, crowded ball room of the National Hotel that night. 



In the early 50s, costume parties were quite in vogue among 
Detroit's 400. Two, particularly, I call to mind, at both of which 
I was present. 

The first one was given by Mr. Thomas C. Miller at his resi- 
dence on Jefferson Avenue, corner of Hastings Street, where is 
now Dr. Jennings's office. It was a notable affair, attended as it 
was by the youth and beauty of the city, all in costume. The 
other was given at the National Hotel, now the Russell House, 
February 19, 1857, by a committee of gentlemen. The chronicler 
of the event at the time says : 

"The costume party at the National Hotel on Thursday even- 
ing, February 19, notwithstanding the embarrassment under 
which the committee suffered, was entirely successful. So bril- 
liant an assemblage was never before witnessed in the 'City of the 
Straits,' and all who participated in the delineations of that even- 
ing will long remember the enchanting scene and recur to it with 
emotions of pleasure and satisfaction. 

"Messrs. Fellers and Benjamin contributed much to the 
enjoyment and comfort of their guests, by their preparation and 

Here follows a list of some of those present and the char- 
acters they represented: 

Mr. John C. Bonnell, as Lord Shaftesbury, in a rich court 
dress of blue and gold. He escorted Miss E. C. Green, who was 
prettily dressed as a Swiss peasant in a blue skirt and cherry 
waist. Mr. L. E. Higby, as the great financier. Sir Giles Over- 
reach, escorting Mrs. L. E. Higby, as the beautiful Catherine 
Parr, first wife of Henry VIII. The costume of Mr. Higby was 
a court dress of crimson and gold. Dr. Gunn represented a High- 
lander and dressed in the tartan of his clan. Mrs. Gunn was the 
Goddess Flora, with her hair pleated in the form of a basket and 
filled with flowers. Mr. Wareham S. Brown wore a remarkably 
rich costume of crimson velvet and gold, of the court of St. James, 
made expressly for the occasion. Mr. Nat Pitcher wore the dress 
of a German courtier. One of the most perfect disguises of ^the 
evening was worn by Mr. John W. Strong, as a zouave. His 
dress consisted of scarlet pants, tied at the knee and falling to the 

236 e;ari,y days in de:troit. 

ankle, blue jacket and scarlet cap. Mr. H. T. Stringham, as a 
Turk, was also completely disguised. He wore a very long beard, 
large turban of blue and white silk, with silver crescent; jacket 
and wide flowing pantaloons of silk, red sash and sword. Mrs. 
H. T. Stringham, in her dress, represented most charmingly an 
Italian peasant girl, in her gala dress — a very beautiful costume. 
The impersonation of Night by Mrs. J. Talman Whiting was 

Mrs. Horace S. Roberts was prettily dressed as "Snow ;" Mr. 
Charles P. Crosby as a courtier of St. Petersburg ; Captain A. D. 
Dickinson as Paudeen O'Rafiferty. His correct representation of 
the character contributed much to the amusement of the evening. 
Mr. M. Howard Webster wore a remarkably rich dress of the 
court of Louis XV. Mrs. Henry H. Welles appeared as Lady 
Rowena. Miss Higby personated Sir Walter Scott's charming 
character of "Die Vernon." Mr. Henry H. Welles was King 
Charles H., in a maroon velvet trunk and jacket trimmed with 
gold lace, black velvet mantle with a wide border of ermine and 
cavalier hat and plumes. Mr. Moses W. Field was an Italian 
peasant. Mr. G. W. Hunt was "Alonzo," in a rich dress. Messrs. 
George W. Jarvi^ and E. M. Biddle were appropriately costumed 
as Athos and Porthos, and made excellent guardsmen. Messrs. 
A. J. Fraser, Thomas W. Mizner and T. D. Wilkins were Italian 
brigands, in rich, fierce-looking costumes. Mr. Walter Ingersoll 
was very becomingly costumed as a Spanish courtier. Mr. H. 
Norton Strong was a Calabrian brigand. Dr. Louis Davenport 
appeared as Don Juan, and Captain Alpheus S. Williams the pos- 
tillion de Longumeau, with his pretty little daughter as La Fille 
du Regiment. Mr. James F. Bradford was Master Modus. 

Among the Shakespearean characters came Mr. Thomas H. 
Hartwell as the Duke of Buckingham ; Mr. Julius E. Eldred, as 
Romeo; Mr. Theodt)re H. Hinchman looked Hamlet well; Mr. 
Henry P. Sanger was richly dressed in ermine as Richmond. 

Mr. George W. Bissell appeared in perfect continental dress ; 
Mrs. George W. Bissell in her mother's wedding suit ; Miss Bis- 
sell as a country school marm of 1800; Miss Sarah Palmer was 
Young America in short dress skirts of red satin, striped with 
white; blue waist spangled with silver stars and red velvet cap 
with red and white plumes. Mr. G. B. Stimson as Don Juan, in 


a purple velvet Spanish jacket, doublet and trunks slashed with 
white satin and silver lace, buff boots and Spanish hat with 
plumes, look the part. Lieutenants C. N. TurnbuU and C. M. 
Poe, United States Army, wore the becoming full dress uniforms 
of the United States engineers. Mr. William Biddle was very 
handsomely costumed as Mercutio. His dress consisted of a del- 
icate pink silk trimmed with white satin and cap of same material, 
with elegant drooping plumes. Mr. Horace S. Roberts was Don 
Caesar. King Charles H. was represented by Messrs. A. N. 
Rood, Henry R. Mizner and Allyn Weston. Mr. Samuel Lewis 
as Chinese Koryan, looked very odd. Mr. Julius Movius was 
King Charles L Mr. Tom P. Shelden appeared as the brave 
Count Rudolph. Miss Sallie Webster was beautifully dressed as 
the Maid of the Mist ; • ' • 

"And gracefully, jto the music's sound, 
The sweet, bright nymph went gliding round." 

Mr. Thomas C. Miller was richly costumed as Cassio; Mr. 
Jesse Ingersoll danced in Highland costume, and Mr. Nath G. 
WiUiams in the rich green silk costume of Vicentio. Mr. J. C. 
Van Anden was the Count of Monte Cristo. Mrs. W. Y. Rum- 
ney was appropriately costumed as "Night." Mr. L. L. Knight 
was a page of the court of Louis XIV. Mr. C. H. Wetmore was 
in a field marshal's uniform. ' 

Two of the most elegant- dresses of the evening were those 
worn by Mrs. Alex J. Fraser and her sister. Miss M. Miles, as 
Grecian sisters. The skirts were short, of white silk, striped 
with silver, over which was a blue silk tunic covered with 
spangles; a beautiful white plume encircled the head, securing a 
rich veil of white lace trimmed with spangles, which hung grace- 
fully over all. The effect was beautiful, and the costumes, in 
exquisite taste, ehcited much admiration. 

Mr. John Rumney was a Spanish courtier. Mr. Sears 
Stevens was a gentleman of the old school. The* queenly Miss 
Louisa Whistler wore a blue dress, straw hat, and skirt looped up 
with a choice collection of flowers, and carried a bouquet on her 
arm. Mps. DeGarmo J. Whiting as a tambourine girl wore a rich 


scarlet skirt, white bodice, short outer jacket of scarlet, trimmed 
with gold lace and richly spangled, and carried an ornamented 
tambourine. Mr. Preston Brady as a cowled monk, escorted Mr. 
Fred W. Backus as Mephistopheles. Major Charles E. Whilden 
was an Italian brigand. Mr. Joe L. Langley was an excellent 
Scotchman in the Fraser tartan. Mr. John B. Palmer was cos- 
tumed as a gentleman of colonial days. He was dressed in black 
slik, velvet, knee breeches, silk stockings, low shoes and diamond 
buckles, powdered hair, etc. Mrs. E. F. Alery was a Spanish 
peasant, and was dressed in a crimson merino skirt, trimmed with 
deep black plush, green silk velvet waist, laced in front, and 
trimmed with crimson ribbon ; corn-colored silk apron. Mr. E. F. 
Alery was a Spanish muleteer, in black velvet, knee breeches, 
Spanish sandals, crimson velvet jacket trimmed with corn-color, 
crimson sash and long cap of red falling on the shoulder. Mr. C. 
C. Cadman appeared in the style of a citizen of the French repub- 
lic. Joseph Law, F. Palmer and E. A. Lansing wore rich court 
dresses. Mr. T. V. Reeve was Ruy Gomez, in a full suit of blue, 
with blue and white plumes, curls and mustache. Mr. Nathan 
Reeve was a Tyrolean peasant. Messrs. C. K. Gunn and Benja- 
min Vernor were Knights Templar. Mr. George A. Baker was 
in Mexican costume. The court of Louis XIV was represented 
by several characters, all of which were beautiful — Mrs. John 
Rumney and Mrs. R. T. Elliott, Mr. W. J. Chittenden in scarlet 
and gold, and Mr. F. G. Goodwin in black and purple. Mr. W. 
J. Rumney, dressed as a clown, had the most comical dress of the 

The author of the foregoing description of this party, etc., 
was Mr. Henry R. Mizner, then a law student, but now a retired 
brigadier-general, U. S. A. — a title won by distinguished service 
during the civil war as colonel of the Fourteenth Michigan Infan- 
try, and subsequent service as colonel of a regular regiment on 
the Indian frontier. 

As stated before, the first proprietor of this house was Mr. 
S. K. Harring, who was followed by Hon. John R. Kellogg and 
others. Kellogg had a very beautiful daughter (Amanda), and 
while he was the landlord she died in the house of malignant 
smallpox. Strange to relate, her death with that dread disease 
caused scarcely any flutter among the guests. 




This house has had various fortunes under various propri- 
etors, successful and otherwise, and thus, all down through the 
years, it has continued to be one of the centers of the social" and 
dinner-giving world of Detroit. When merged into the Russell 
House many years ago, it continued on the same plane, and has 
kept up the reputation of the locality in a marked degree. Its 
career under the admirable management of Chittenden & Whit- 
beck, and, after Mr. Whitbeck's unfortunate demise, by the 
present proprietor, Mr. W. J. Chittenden, I am told, has been 
marked with deserved success. The present house has been in 
the public eye for the past thirty or forty years, and should be 
familiar to all. 



THE Whigs of Detroit participated quite heartily in the 
Harrison campaign of 1840, and were almost wild in 
their espousal of the cause of the "Log Cabin," "Hard 
Cider" and ''Coon Skin" candidate for the presidency. 

A large vacant lot opposite the American Hotel (now the 
Biddle House) on Jefferson Avenue was selected on which to 
build a log cabin, in which the faithful could meet. The logs 
for the structure were cut by the Harrison and Tyler Club on 
the Jones farm out on Grand River Road, and hauled into the 
city. Alex H. Sibley and Henry M. Roby drove a four ox team 
for about two days. It was no boys' play either, as the Grand 
River Road then was turnpiked quite high, and muddy at that, 
and it was difficult to keep from getting into the ditch. There 
were others engaged in the same pastime, but these are the only 
ones I remember particularly. 

I was one of the party cutting the logs and building the 
cabin, though not quite old enough to vote. The log cabin was 
of ample dimensions and of the most primitive kind. The front 
was decorated with dried coonskins, with the hair on. The 
interior was garnished with festoons of dried apples, dried 
pumpkins, and corn ears, while a barrel of hard cider, on tap, 
occupied a prominent position, and over the speaker's primitive 
seat was placed a stuffed raccoon. 

The ladies were requested to send in contributions of coarse 
eatables for the dedication feast, and they responded liberally. 
The tables groaned under a generous supply of pork and beans, 
cold boiled ham, rye and Indian bread, corn dodgers, etc. 

On the occasion of the dedication of the Log Cabin, a pro- 
cession was formed, in which were included the orator of the 
day, Colonel Edward Brooks, distinguished visitors from abroad, 
various Harrison and Tyler Clubs, as also the Glee Club, com- 


posed of Chas. T. Adams, Henry M. Roby, Dr. Terry, Morris M. 
Williams, James Sutton, Chas. A. Trowbridge and two or three 
others whose names have passed from my memory. Two or 
three log cabins on wheels, drawn by yokes of oxen, were also in 
the procession. One of quite large dimensions, large enough to 
accommodate four or five persons, who dispensed hard cider to 
the thirsty crowd. Perched on the ridge pole was a live raccoon, 
to which it was attached by a chain. It took four or five yokes 
of oxen to haul this cumbersome affair. Another feature of the 
procession was our stalwart Whig friend, fireman and ship car- 
penter, Matthew Gooding (Zip-Coon) in his picturesque back- 
woodsman's costume, bearing on his shoulder a tame live rac- 
coon. Gooding followed directly after the large log cabin, and 
attracted universal attention. 

The dedication was a very hilarious affair. Colonel Edward 
Brooks, president of the club, presided, and, after a characteristic 
speech from him and a song by the Glee Club of "Tippecanoe 
and Tyler, Too," he gave th'e signal to pitch into the eatables. 
There was a wild scramble, and soon the tables looked as though 
a cyclone had struck them. 

Well, the Whigs had many a good enthusiastic meeting in 
that log cabin that were remembered by the participants for 
many long years. 

Aher the nomination of Harrison, a Washington corre- 
spondent of a Baltimore paper, who subsequently became a Har- 
rison man, referred to the candidate of the Whig party as one 
whose habits and attainments would secure him the highest 
measure of happiness in a log cabin with an abundant supply of 
hard cider. This ill-chosen and hapless phrase, coming from a 
Democrat, was seized upon by the crafty Whig politicians, and 
made to form the keynote of the campaign. Log cabins con- 
structed after the frontier style of rude architecture, their walls 
ornamented with coon-skins and their interior abundantly sup- 
plied with hard cider, which was generally drank from gourds, 
or in tin cups, constituted the "wigwams" where all indoor 
gatherings of the Whigs were held. 


The Whig celebration of Fort Meigs, Ohio, was held in 
June, 1840, on the anniversary of the raising of the siege of that 
fort, and on the ground it had occupied. A chronicler of that* 
time says of it: 

16 ' . 


. ''There assembled at the appointed time and place, a con- 
course of people variously estimated at from thirty-five to forty 
thousand and embracing representatives from every state and 
territory in the Union. Probably never before or since in the 
annals of the country has there occurred a more enthusiastic 
or impressive pageant. All classes and conditions, rich and poor, 
aged and young, 'fair women and brave men,' lent their presence 
and ardor. General Harrison's veterans and many of the coun- 
try's rare statesmen, orators and humorists were there to honor, 
each in his own attractive way, the hero of the siege. The mer- 
chant left 'his counter, the farmer his fields, the rtiechanic his 
bench, to join in the shouts of applause and exultation, while 
cannon, musketry, church bells and martial music rent the air 
again and again. Nature, too, smiled from her brightest sky 
upon the green banks, the glancing waters, the beautiful towns 
of Perrysburg and Maumee, the gleaming banners waving over 
the victory — honored fort and British batteries — all combining 
to give the celebration the pride and glory, if not magnificence, 
of a Roman triumph." 


A large number of distiguished speakers were present, 
among them General Harrison himself, who, it was said, deliv- 
ered an eloquent and scholarly address. Governor Woodbridge, 
of Michigan, was also among the speakers, as was Geo. C. Bates. 
Geo. Dawson, Colonel Edward Brooks and Jas. A. Van Dyke, of 
Detroit. A large number of our citizens attended, among whom 
were nearly all the young Whigs of the city, voters and non- 
voters. They provided themselves with tents and subsistence for 
the occasion. That they had a good campaign and enjoyable 
time was evidenced bv the rubicund nose each one had on him 
when he returned. Most of them laid it to the sun and some to 
the hard cider, and things they had to encounter. Of all the 
number that went from here on that occasion, Stanley G. Wight 
is the only one living, I think. He can remember, no doubt, the 
festive time the boys had at the function, and going and returning 
on the steamer. I was prevented from being one of the crowd, 
much to my disgyst. My employer, "Sid" Rood, his brother, 
"Gil" Rood, and the foreman of the bindery going, kept me at 
. home. 



Geo. Dawson and Morgan L. Bates ran the Detroit Daily 
Advertiser (Whig) at that time. 

Geo. Dawson was, as the late Eben N. Wilcox happily' said, 
the very impersonation of muscular politics and was also endowed 
with great power to enforce the pleasure of his will against all 
questions. His phrenological and physiognomical features adorn- 
ing such a figure impressed one instantly with the idea of the 
man's intellectual superiority. You saw at once a man of force, 
a born leader, and as such he was accepted by the Whigs of 
Michigan, whom he was largely instrumental in leading to the 
grand victory won in that fall of 1840. He had a most able 
helper in the person of Morgan L. Bates ("Morgan the Rattler"). 
Many must remember his energetic personality and his green 

Among other political writers and speakers of the Whig per- 
suasion of that day were Franklin Sawyer, John L. Talbot, Henry 
Chipman (father of the late Hon. J. Logan Chipman), William 
Woodbridge, Jacob M. Howard, Geo. C. Bates, Jas. A. Van Dyke, 
Asher B. Bates, Colonel Edward Brooks. The Democrats had 
among their foremost rank of writers and speakers such men as 
Henry N. Walker, John S. Bagg, John Norvell, Daniel Goodwin, 
Anthony Ten Eyck, Wm. Hale, Randolph Manning, Dan Mun- 
ger, Geo. R. Griswold, Colonel E. J. Roberts (father of the 
lamented Colonel Horace S. Roberts, who fell at the Second 
Bull's Run), Theo. Romeyn, Marshal J. Bacon, Chancellor Farns- 

We will recall the names of some of the most prominent 
co-workers (Whigs) in this memorable campaign : Abram C. 
Canniff, A. C. and Virgil McGraw, Ed. King, Dave Smart, that 
gushing Scotchman, Henry Roby, one of the celebrated minstrel 
quartet who enlivened the rafters and sawdust of the Log Cabin 
nightly, Alanson Sheley, Judge Canniff, Zach Chandler, Francis 
Raymond, Franklin Moore, Wm. N. Carpenter, Wm. Harsha, 
N. Prouty, Oliver Newberry, with his brigade of noted lake cap- 
tains, headed by Captain Bob Wagstaff, Wm. Cole, sailmaker, 
the Desnoyers, P. J. and son, DeGarmo Jones, J. R. Dorr, N. T. 
Ludden, Phin Davis, Theo. Williams, the Abbotts, James and'^ 
sons, Morris Williams, Sid. and Gil. Rood, Wm. Gooding, James 
Sutton, Stetson, the giant vulcan, Cullen Brown. John, Ellis and 

244 e;arly days in Detroit. 

R. E. Roberts, Doctors Pitcher, Rice and Whiting, Chas. Jack- 
son, John Farrar, Jerry Moors, John Mullett, John Farmer, 
Thomas Mason and John Palmer, Frank Hall, Charley Adams, 
C. C. Trowbridge, John and Howard Webster, Alex. H. Sibley, 
the most youthful voter of all but a most strenuous worker, and 
a young man that ** feared no noise." Kb. Wilcox, myself and a 
large number of young Whigs were under age at that time, but 
that did not deter us from "working in the vineyard," and we did 
the best we knew how. Wilcox was an exceedingly bright youth, 
and could more than hold his own in our lyceum debates, pitted 
against such rising lights as Anson Burlingame, Wm. B. Wes- 
son, J. Hyatt Smith, Jed P. C. Emmons, and others. He was 
quite a poet, besides, but I think he never essayed anything loftier 
than carriers' addresses or something of that sort. He might 
have done better, perhaps, if he had only let his muse have full 
swing. I give a verse from his first carriers' address, composed 
for Geo. Dawson's paper, January i, 1840: 

"Time, inexorable tyrant; ever on, 

Remorselessly thou hold'st thy rapid flight; 
Thous't traveled ages ; still thou art not wan 
But hale, as when God said, Let there be light." 

Dawson, he said, praised him very much for the effusion, and 
he said further, what surprised him more than anything else was 
that the former should have pitched on him to write the address, 
when there were so many others more capable, but he had a copy 
of the address written the year before for the same paper by E. 
M. McGraw (brother of A. C. McGraw), a suberb production, 
he said, and worthy of Byron, and what better could he do than 
follow in his footsteps. Here is the opening stanza of E. M. 
McGraw's production, or part of it : 

"Hist ! 'tis the tread of ever fleeting Time ; 
Another year is buried in the tomb of years, 
With all its scenes of virtue, vice and crime, 
Its buoyant hopes, and bitter, burning tears." 

Wilcox also pays a glowing tribute to G. W. Dawson, that 
I am sure, all who knew the man, will concur in : 

"Peace to thee, dear Dawson ; if we pictured thee too brus- 
quely in the opening lines of this diffusive tribute to thy mem- 
ory, it was with no unkind thought. The whirligig of time has 


let US come to know thee in thy gentler moods, as a lover of 
nature and thy fellowman, an enthusiastic disciple of beloved 
Isaak Walton. May your lines be as pleasant as his, now that 
they are cast in the ocean of eternity." 

I think it proper in passing to mention some of the young 
,boy Whigs who, with Eben Wilcox and myself were active in this 
campaign, many of them in after life gaining distinction, viz: 
Anson Burlingame, Wm. B. Wesson, J. Hyatt Smith, O. B. Wil- 
cox, Ed. M. Pitcher, Joseph Cook, Henry R. Mizner, Frank Far- 
rar, La Fayette Knapp, E. A. Wales, David Lum, Stewart Lum, 
Abijah Joy, Stanley G. Wight, Henry A. Wight, Sylvester Lar- 
ned, Albion Turner, L. H. Cobb, Geo. Jerome, Wm. Duncan, Kin 
S. Dygert, Jed Emmons, L. W. Tinker, Ed. King, Henry P. 
Dequindre, John T. Walker, W. L. Woodbrid'ge, Anson Eldred, 
Ed. Kearsley, Harrison and Tyler boys, all, and as enthusiastic 
in the cause as they could be, and whose efforts no doubt con- 
tributed much to the success of the Whigs, particularly in Detroit. 
Senator Palmer, though a lad of only ten years, was always 
around, and quite lively, too. 

I may be pardoned for referring again to Eben N. Wilcox, 
the friend of my boyhood, and of my maturer years whose prem- 
ature taking off was the cause of so much regret. He will be 
remembered for his promising opening youth, his brilliant career 
at the bar, and his stirring speeches in the cause of the Union 
at the outbreak of the civil war. His effort before the crowd con- 
vened at the old firemen's hall on the fate of Fort Sumpter, was 
like a bugle blast. Peace to his ashes. 

"The moving finger writes ; and, having writ, 
Moves on ; nor all thy piety nor wit 
Shall lure it back to cancel half a line. 
Nor all thy tears wash out a word of it.'.' 

Colonel Richard M. Johnson, of Kentucky, the candidate foe 
vice-president on the Democratic ticket, came up this way during 
the campaign on an electioneering tour and put up at the old 
National Hotel (Russell House). From the balcony of this hotel 
he made a stirring speech to a large and enthusiastic crowd of his 
admirers and others. I was among the latter. During the har- 
rangue, some previous cuss in the audience interrupted the orator 
with. "Who Killed Tecumseh." 

''Well." said the colonel in answer, "in the thickest of the 


fight, at the battle of the Thames, I saw a stalwart and fierce- 
looking Indian, with his war paint on, coming at me with uplifted 
tomahawk. I was mounted at the time and drawing one of my 
pistols from its holster, shot him dead. Some one coming up at 
the time said that it was the noted chief (Tecumseh) ; he was also 
recognized by many others. I believe now, as I believed then,, 
that the individual who is now addressing you, did kill Tecum- 

I guess there is no doubt about it. I think I have alluded to 
this incident slightly, in a former article. 

During the campaign, the Whigs had an immense mass and 
barbecue meeting on Fort Street where the Governor Baldwin 
house now stands. They had a rough building improvised for 
the purpose, with dining hall, speakers' stand, etc. Representa- 
tives from adjoining states were present, also distinguished Whig 
orators from outside the state, including Wm. M. Evarts, at that 
time a rising young lawyer, and a fine orator even then. The 
gathering was a great success, particularly the barbecue part of it. 



AS AN indication of the mineral wealth of Michigan that 
was so soon to make many men millionaires, the recovery 
of an immense mass of copper in the bed of the Ontonagon 
river in 1843, and its transfer to Detroit and to Buffalo, and 
finally to the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, arc facts of 
considerable interest. The valuable find was discovered by Gov. 
Cass, H. R. Schoolcraft and others, and the huge mass was 
brought down by Julius Eldred, of Detroit, in 1843. 

The Buffalo Gazette of that year says of it : 

This celebrated rock of pure copper, which has caused so 
much speculation among the scientific and others, arrived in this 
city on board the revenue cutter Erie, "Capt. Knapp. This rock 
has attracted much attention since its discovery, about one hun- 
dred years since. 

"This rock has been brought from the shores of Lake 
Superior through the enterprise of Mr. Julius Eldred, of Detroit, 
and is to be placed in the national institution at Washington. 
After several visits and two or three unsuccessful attempts to 
remove it, Mr. Eldred left Detroit on the nth of June last, with 
apparatus and machinery, fully determined to fetch away this 
great mineral curiosity. After almost incredible efforts — being 
compelled to overcome a hill fifty or sixty feet in hight, the party 
at length reached the lake, having an affective force of twenty- 
one men to assist in the removal. 

The copper was shipped on board the schooner Algonquin 
and transported over 300 miles to the head of the Falls of St. 
Mary. It was then transferred to a Mackinac boat, and after 
passing through the canal and around the rapids, it was shipped 
on board the schooner Brewster for Detroit, w^here it arrived on 
the nth of October last. 


"At Detroit, it was taken on board the revenue cutter, and 
arrived here, as stated, in charge of Mr, Eldred. Mr. Eldred 
has presented to us a piece of the rock, which was flaked off in 
moving. It is pure native copper, and such is its malleabiUty 
that it may easily be hammered into any shape or form without 

"The weight of the rock has never been definitely ascer- 
,tained. It has been differently estimated — by Schoolcraft at 
2,200 pounds, and he gives its dimensions at 3 feet 3 inches long, 
by 3 feet 4 inches broad. Dr. Houghton, the state geologist for 
Michigan, who has good opportunities for forming a correct 
estimate, thinks it will weigh not far from 4 tons. It is the 
largest specimen of native copper in the world, and Mr. Eldred 
assuredly deserves the thanks of the country for his indefatigable 
and successful efforts to bring it forth into the civilized world." 

The canal around the St. Mary's Falls was not in existence 
at that time. The rock was transported across the portage on 
the horse tramway. 


Mr. Hubbard with Dr. Houghton visited this copper rock in 
1840, in the bed of the Ontonagon River. At that time nothing 
was known of all this mineral wealth locked in the rugged hills 
of Lake Superior, except now and then traces of copper were 
seen at a few places along the shore, and this large mass of native 
metal in the bed of the Ontonagon River was known. It- was 
long revered by the Indians as a Manitou, and was mentioned in 
the relations of the early French historians. Large masses 
(larger even than this celebrated mass) have since been mined 
in the Lake Superior district, and smelted at the old copper 
smelting works at Springwells. They came from the Minnesota, 
Isle Royal and Cliff mines. 

This Ontonagon river copper rock arrived in Buffalo when 
I was residing there. I think it came in the fall of 1843. While 
in transit from the revenue cutter Erie to the railroad depot on 
Exchange Street, it was under the immediate charge of Capt. S. 
P. Heintzelman, United States quartermaster (since major- 
general, U. S. A., in the civil war), who was stationed at Buffalo 
at that time. 

The captain, to gratify the curiosity of the citizens, had it 
paraded up and down the principal part of Main Street and down 


Exchange Street on a four wheeled truck, behind two spans of 
horses and a driver. The horses were gayly decorated. . 

Many of the citizens, eager to possess a cHpping from the 
rock, as a souvenir, provided themselves with hammers and 
chisels for that purpose, hoping to get a clip at it as it passed 
through the streets, but they were foiled in this, as Captain Heint- 
selman was close to the rock on foot and it kept him busy keeping 
the people back. 

The history of this copper mass is familiar to many, and 
more particularly to Lake Superior people, and I mention it 
more from the fact that in the winter of 1845 or 6 I kept Julius 
Eldred & Co.'s tannery books in this city during my unoccupied 
evenings, and at that time Mr. Eldred was trying to collect from 
the government money to repay him for the expense he had 
sustained in getting the rock to Detroit, and of course, heard 
from the old genteleman more or less about it. He recovered 
something I think from the United States, but how much I do 
not know. 


H. R. Schoolcraft, in company with Governor Cass and party, 
visited this copper rock June 28, 1820. His description of it is 
much like the rest. I quote a few remarks of his in regard to it 
and its surroundings. He says : "I do not think the weight 
of metallic copper in the rock exceeds 2,200 pounds. The quan- 
tity may, however, have been much diminished since its first dis- 
covery, and marks of chisels and axes upon it, with the broken 
tools lying around, prove that portions have been cut off and 
carried away. . Notwithstanding this reduction it may still be con- 
sidered one of the largest and most remarkable bodies of native 
copper on the globe, and is, so far as my reading extends, only 
exceeded by a specimen found in a valley in Brazil weighing 
2,666 Portuguese pounds." 

In regard to its surroundings, he says : "Mostly immersed 
in water reposes the copper rock ; on the left the little island of 
cedars divides the river into two channels, and the small depth and 
rapidity of the water is shown by the innumerable rocks which 
project above its surface from bank to bank. The masses of 
fallen earth — the blasted trees, which either lie prostrate at the 
foot of the bluffs or hang in a threatening posture above — the 
elevation of the banks — the rapidity and noise of the stream. 


present such a mixed character of wildness, ruin and sterility, as 
to render it one of the most rugged views in nature. One cannot 
help fancying that he has gone to the ends of the earth, and 
beyond the boundaries appointed for the residence of man. 
Every object tells us that it is a region alike unfavorable to the 
productions of the animal and vegetable kingdom; and we shud- 
der in casting our eyes over the frightful wreck of trees, and the 
confused groups of falling-in banks and shattered stones. Yet 
we have only to ascend these bluffs to behold hills more rugged 
and elevated ; and dark hemlock forests, and yawning gulfs more 
dreary, and more forbidding to the eye. Such is the frightful 
region through which, for a distance of twenty miles, we follow 
our Indian guides to reach this unfrequented spot, in which there 
is nothing to compensate the toil of the journey but its geological 
character and mineral productions." 

After Governor Cass and Thos. L. McKenney as joint com- 
missioners on the part of the United States to negotiate a treaty 
with Chippewa Indians at Fond du Lac in 1826, had concluded 
the same, they ordered Geo. F. Porter to accompany the detach- 
ment sent to the Ontonagon River for the purpose of procuring 
this mass of native copper. 

The result is given in his report, part of which follows : 


*'We left Fond du Lac on the first day of August, 1826, with 
two boats, containing 20 men, including our French and Indian 
guides; and after a short passage of something less than four 
days, arrived in the mouth of the river. We immediately pro- 
ceeded up the river. About 28 miles from its mouth the river is 
divided into two branches of equal magnitude. We continued up 
the right branch for about two miles further, where we found it 
necessary to leave our boat and proceed by land. 

''After walking about five miles further over points of the 
mountains from 100 to 300 feet high, separated every few rods by 
deep ravines, the bottom of which were bogs. We at length, with 
some difficulty, discovered the object of our search, long known 
by the name of Copper Rock of Lake Superior. 

''This remarkable specimen of virgin copper lies a little 
above low water mark on the west bank of the river, and about 
35 miles from its mouth. Its appearance is brilliant wherever 


the metal is visible. It consists of pure copper, ramified in every 
direction through a map of stone (mostly serpentine, intermixed 
with calcareous spar) in veins of from one to three inches in 
diameter, and in some parts exhibiting maps of pure metal of lOO 
pounds weight, but so intimately connected with the surrounding 
body that it was found impossible to detach them with any instru- 
ments we had provided, 

"Having ascertained that, with our means and time, it was 
impossible to remove by land a body weighing more than a ton 
(two-thirds of which I should have observed is pure metal) we 
proceeded to examine the channel of the river, which we found 
intercepted by ridges of sandstone, forming three cataracts, with 
a descent in all of about 70 feet, over which it was impossible to 
pass : and the high and perpendicular banks of sandstone ren- 
dered a passage around them impracticable. Finding our plans 
frustrated by unforeseen difficulties, we were obliged to abandon 
our attempt, and proceeded to the Sault Ste, Marie." 

This mass of native copper appears to have been known to 
the Indians for a very long period. Pierre Boucher, in his His- 
torie Veritable et Naturelle, Paris, 1664, says "that the French- 
men who went with Father Menard told me that they had seen a 
nugget of copper at the end of a hill which they estimated to 
weigh more than 800 pounds," 


At the conference in 1826 with the Ojibwa at Fond du Lac, 
for the purchase of these lands, one of the chiefs said in reference 
to this nugget of copper : 

"This, fathers, is the property of no one man. It belongs 
alike to us. It was put there by the Great Spirit, and it is ours. 
In the life of my father the British were busy working it. It was 
then big like that table. They tried to raise it to the top of the 
hill, but failed. They then said the copper was not in the rock, 
but in the banks of the river. They dug for it by a light, working 
under ground. The earth fell in, killing three men. It was then 
left until now." 

In 1843 the weight of this rock was estimated between 6,000 
to 7,000 pounds, and its purity at 95 per cent, it was removed to 
the Smithonian Institution at Washington as before stated, and at 
a cost of about $3,500. 



I have seen this rock many times at the Smithsonian Institu- 
tion, Washington, as I presume many thousands have done, but I 
do not remember if it bore on its surface anything to indicate its 
strange history, and the various vicissitudes it had passed through 
before reaching this, its final resting place. If it does not, it 
seems to me it should, considering the vast wealth it has already 
heralded, and the prospect of millions yet to come, the contempla- 
tion of which almost makes the senses reel. 

This silent rock, in its bed on the rugged shore of the Onto- 
nagon, bore on its metallic face its story and its significance. The 
untutored savage read it partly, but it was left for Fur Trader 
Henry and Cass, McKenney, Schoolcraft, Houghton, Hubbard 
and others before them who visited it from time to time, to read 
aright the tale it had to tell and its great import. 

It seems to me no mineral specimen in the world at this day 
possesses the interest and significance that this rock of copper 
does now, reposing so quietly in the halls of the Smithsonian 
Institution in Washington, and there should be some fitting recog- 
nition of the great part it played in making known to the nation 
the vast wealth that lay hidden in the copper region of Lake 
Superior, only waiting to be sought after. 

The Calumet and Hecla people could afford alone to furnish 
a golden pedestal for it, let alone a marble one, surmounted by a 
golden scroll, with its history blazoned upon it. 

Aside from seeing this copper rock in Buffalo, when it was 
on its way to Washington, and listening to Mr. Julius Eldred's 
account of his experience with it, I some years before this (1830), 
heard of Mr. J. O. Lewis, who. was with Governor Cass and 
Colonel McKenney as sketch artist on their trip in 1826, relate 
his account of it to my uncle, Thos. Palmer. 

After my uncle was burned out, on the corner of Jefferson 
Avenue and Griswold Street, in 1830, he moved his books and 
papers to the first floor of a frame building in the rear, on the 
corner of the alley and Griswold Street (where the Michigan 
Mutual Life is now), belonging to Shubal Conant. This Mr. 
Lewis, who was by trade a steel and copper plate engraver and 
printer, occupied the rooms in the rear of my uncle's. 

Lewis often talked of this trip and this rock with my uncle 
and others. I was most of the time in evidence, and an eager 

re:markable: spe:cime:n of nativje: copper. 253 

listener. Early impressions, it is said, are always lasting, so the 
story of hunting up this copper rock, told by J. O. I^ewis, I never 

• It has been told that the one hundred pounds of copper that 
the fur trader, Alexander Henry, cut from this rock in 1766 is 
now in the British Museum and is held to be one of its rarest min- 
eral specimens. 

Schoolcraft, as a further evidence of what a terrrible spot 
this rock had for an abiding place, quotes a passage from Walter 
Scott, which I give : 

"It seemed the mountain, rent and riven, 

A channel for the stream had given ; 

So high the cliff of sandstone gr^^, 

Hung beetling o'er the torrent's way. 

Where he who winds 'twixt rock and wave. 

May hear the headlong torrent rave ; 

May view her chafe her waves to spray, 

O'er every rock that bars her way. 

The foam globes o'er her eddies glide, 

Thick as the scheme of human pride 

That down life drive amain, 
.As frail, as frothy, and as vain." 

It is fair to presume that the vicinity of Ontonagon, to which 
this refers, wears something of a different aspect from what it 
did when this was quoted. 

Mr. J. O. Lewis above referred to made a sketch of the cop- 
per rock as it appeared lying in its bed on the margin of the 
Ontonagon River, and I presume the engraving of it that appears 
[in Schoolcraft's narrative, is taken from it." 

Frii^nd PaIvMe;r. 





MANY people now living in Detroit can remember when all 
the people were supplied with water through tamarack 
logs, bored out to make pipes. It was not long before that 
when there was a t^wn pump at the foot of Randolph Street, 
free for the use of all citizens. 

The development of the water system included the discarding 
of plants that in their day were supposed to be large enough to 
take care of Detroit for years to come. At times people in some 
sections of the city found that they could get no water during the 
day, and some member of the family had to get busy at midnight, 
when the demand fell off in other sections of the city, in order to 
draw water to supply his family through the next day. 

The issue of the Detroit Gazette July 20, 1820, contains this 
notice : 

"Resolved, That the board of trustees of the city of Detroit 
will meet on Thursday, the loth of August next, for the purpose 
of receiving proposals to furnish the city with water for a certain 
number of years. "Geo. McDougall, 

Attest. "Sec'y pro tem." 

But it does not appear that any further action was taken 
imtil the 4th of June, 1822, at a meeting of the citizens convened 
at Bronson's Hotel, situated on the south side of Woodward 
Avenue, midway between Jefferson Avenue and Woodbridge 
Street. The Detroit Gazette, in 1822, had this item : 


"At a meeting of a number of the citizens of Detroit, con- 
vened at Bronson's Hotel on the evening of the 4th of June, 1822, 
A. B. Woodward was elected chairman and Geo. A. O'Keefe, 

WHEN d£:troit had a town pump. 255 

"Certain proposals for supplying the city with water were 
exhibited to the meeting by George Deming and his associates, 
and were read and considered by the meeting, whereupon, 

"Resolved, Unanimously, as the opinion of the meeting, that 
it is expedient to promote the enterprise of George Deming and 
his associates to supply the city of Detroit with water, and it will 
be agreeable to us that the legislative authority should give him 
an exclusive privilege for a certain nurnber of years, under equit- 
able conditions. 

"Ordered, that the secretary transmit a copy of these pro- 
ceedings to the Detroit Gazette for publication." 

And then the meeting adjourned. But it does not appear 
that any further progress was made until the legislature, August 
5, 1824, passed the act in relation thereto, mentioned in the 
"History of the Detroit Water Works," by Jacob Houghton, 
superintendent, in his report December 31, 1853. But this was 
only an act empowering Mr. Peter Berthelet to construct a wharf 
at the foot of Randolph Street and on it erect a pump, for the 
purpose of pumping water from the river, to which all citizens 
should have free access. 

Previous to this meeting, however, the Gazette of April 12, 
1822, in an editorial, had this to say : "A respectable fellow-citizen 
has received a letter from a gentleman in Ohio, in which inquiries 
are made as to the encouragement which a person would receive 
from the citizens of Detroit in undertaking to supply them with 
water from the river by means of hydraulic machinery. That 
water can be carried from the river to the door of every inhab- 
itant by means of hydraulics is evident to every person least 
acquainted with the subject — and it is equally certain that were 
it once effected, a vast number of our citizens would be saved an 
expense of from $15 to $25 per year. It is perhaps out of the 
power of our corporation to erect the necessary works, but it is 
not out of the power of the citizens of Detroit to grant certain 
privileges to individuals who would undertake and properly 
accomplish the business. It is to be hoped that the trustees of 
the city of Detroit generally will turn their attention to this 
important object; and as its great utility cannot for a moment 
be questioned, let foreign enterprise derive a portion of the ben- 
efit of its accomplishment, if a company of our own citizens 
cannot be formed to secure the whole to ourselves." 


THi: FIRST ste:p. 

The efforts of the citizens of Detroit to devise some plan or 
means through which they could be supplied with water became 
— as Jacob Houghton says in his report — noised abroad, until it 
reached the ears of Bethuel Farrand and Rufus Wells, residents 
of Aurelius, Cayuga County, New York, who came on and sub- 
mitted to the common council, February 17, 1825, their proposi- 
tion for supplying the city with water, a full detail of which is 
given in Mr. Houghton's report. 

I witnessed the erection of the pump house on the Berthelet 
wharf, foot of Randolph Street, and saw it in operation, in free 
use by the citizens. I also saw it pumping water into the reservoir 
erected on the rear of the lot now occupied by the water board 
(formerly Firemen's Hall), and witnessed the boring for water 
on the site designated for that purpose by Mayor Jonathan 
Kearsley and Alderman Thomas Palmer, on the south side of 
Fort, between Shelby and Wayne streets, and the building of the 
reservoir at that point. I also gathered at the boring works quite 
a quantity of water-worn pebbles that the borer brought to the 
surface from a depth of between two and three hundred feet. 

I was also quite familiar with the pumping works erected by 
the Detroit Hydraulic Co. on the north side of Woodbridge Street, 
between Cass and Wayne. I was well acquainted with Uncle 
Chas. Howard, who ran the engine, and was around there often 
when Captain John Burtis was building his steamboat Argo, close 
by. I think it will be interesting to many of the old settlers, as 
well as to many of the new, of our goodly Detroit. To the latter 
it will, no doubt, be fresh news 

I give herewith facts from the History of the Detroit Water 
Works, up to the time (February 14, 1853,) the state legislature 
passed the act creating the board of water commissioners and for 
which history I am under obligations to my good friend of these 
many, many years' standing, Jacob Houghton, Esq., superinten- 
dent, who, I am happy to say, is with us yet. 

The history is quite lengthy, I know, but I give from it facts 
as they appear in his report of the condition of the department 
under his charge for the year 1^53. The report was presented to 
the common council. 



On account of the stiff and impermiable clay upon which the 
city was located the old residents did not find wells satisfactory, 
for the water in them drained into them only from the surface. 
As a result the river was the unfailing source of supply. 

The water was at first furnished to the people by men who 
hauled in carts, casks and barrels of it. Buckets were suspended 
at the ends of wooden yokes, borne on the shoulders of worthy 
pioneers. The ordinance of the trustees compelled each citizen 
to keep on his premises a cask containing a certain amount of 
water, for use in case of fire. 

A free pump was arranged for at the foot of Randolph 
Street in 1824, and it was erected by Peter Berthelet, by permis- 
sion of the governor and legislative council. All citizens had free 
access to the wharf on which the pump was located. It continued 
in use until 1835, when it was taken down, by order of the com- 
mon council. 

Bethuel Farrand, father of the late Jacob S. Farrand, and a 
pump, maker, Rufus Wells, both of Aurelius, Cayuga County, 
New York, learned that Detroit wished an up-to-date water sys- 
tem and came to this city on foot in 1825 and submitted a propo- 
sition to the council which was accepted, and Mr. Farrand was 
given the "sole and exclusive right of watering the city of 
Detroit." Mr. Farrand later withdrew from, the enterprise and 
the plant was established by Mr. Wells. 

The pump house was located on Berthelet's wharf at the foot 
of Randolph Street. This was in 1827. The house was a frame 
building 20 feet square, with a cupola 40 feet high. The pumps 
were driven by horse power, and the water was pumped into a 
40-gailon cask at the top of the cupola. 

The water passed through tamarack logs from this cask to 
the reservoir which was located on the rear of the lot later occu- 
pied by the Firemen's Hall at the corner of Randolph Street an3 
Jefferson Avenue. This reservoir was 16 feet square and 6 feet 
deep, and held 9,580 imperial gallons. 

From the reservoir a line of logs was laid down Jefferson 
Avenue as far as Schwartz's Tavern, between Cass and First 
Streets, through parts of Larned and Congress Streets and east on 
Jefferson as far as Brush Street. 

258 £;ARI.Y days in DETROIT. 


The city had a water famine one day, because a man in a resi- 
dence on Larned Street left a plug open, and the water ran until 
it filled his cellar. At this time the city had about 1,500 inhabit- 
ants. Families were uniformly charged $10 per annum, quarterly 
in advance. Mr. Wells remained sole proprietor until 1829. 

In that year the right to supply the city until 1850 was given 
Mr. Wells, Phineas Davis, Jr., Lucius Lyon and A. E. Hathon. 
They formed the Detroit Hydraulic Company and bored on the 
south side of Fort Street, between Shelby and Wayne, going down 
260 feet, getting no water, but running into a bed of salt that gave 
an indication of the future wealth to be obtained in this state from 
this source. 

The company secured an extension of the life of its charter in 
1865, ^^^ prepared to build a pumping station and reservoir. 
They were placed on the same lot where the boring took place. 
The power was furnished by the second stationary engine brought 
into this state, and water was supplied in the fall of 1830. The 
reservoir was constructed of brick, was 18 feet square and 9 feet 
deep, housed in a wooden building. The engine also furnished 
power for the Detroit Iron Worlcs, at the corner of Jefferson and 
v^ass. • 

The city was supplied through two lines of wooden logs, of 
three-inch bore. During the winter of i830-'3i all but four of the 
hydrants were rendered useless by freezing and remained in that 
condition until spring. Many of the logs, which had not been 
laid at sufficient depth, also were frozen. The reservoir was 
extremely defective and in 183 1 tHe company constructed another, 
40 feet square and 10 feet deep, made of oak planks. 


The Detroit Hydraulic Company soon after erected an engine 
house on the north side of Woodbridge Street, between Cass and 
Wayne streets. Instead of a rotary pump a double action force 
pump was used. The water was declared not to be clear, pure 
and wholesome, and not furnished continuously, and the company 
was losing money, but it continued to extend its system. 

Frequently the common council discussed the proposition to 
buy the works, and a committee reported to that body that the 


company had forfeited its charter by the character of service ren- 
dered. It was recommended that the works be located on land 
up-river from the city. 

A committee conferred with the company to learn on what 
terms it would give up its interest, the committee consisting of 
Aldermen Julius Eldred and Thomas Palmer. The price fixed 
was $20,500. This report was accepted and the plant was pur- 
chased in 1836. Noah Sutton, as agent for the city, visited east-' 
ern water works and soon a site was purchased at the foot of 
Orleans Street. 

The plan of piping water from springs near Farmington was 
considered and forgotten. During 1837 ^^e foundation of a new- 
reservoir was laid, nearly a duplicate of the old Manhattan works 
in New York. The next year the reservoir was completed. 

The construction of the new plant included the laying of 
nine miles of hollow tamarack logs and four and a half miles of 
iron pipe. Water was pumped into an iron reservoir at the foot 
of Orleans Street and from there it ran by gravitation to the old 
reservoir on Fort Street, and from this point it was distributed 
through the old system of logs. 


A report made to the council in 1841 said that there was 
leakage through the old logs at the rate of 116,000 gallons in 
twenty-four hours. It was recommended that the new system be 
used entirely, and provision was made for keeping a map of all 
connections. Digging at random was found expensive, even in 
those days. In 1838 six hundred and thirteen persons were 
assessed for water, and in 1841 only 335. The deficiency was 
probably occasioned more by the defects in the old works than the 
absence of persons wishing a supply of water. 

Soon after this report was made the engine and pump on 
Woodbridge Street were abandoned and the new Orleans Street 
pump was brought into use to supply water to the Fort Street 
reservoir for distribution. December 14, 1841, the works was 
accepted by the council. Early in 1842 the Fort Street reservoir 
was abandoned. 

When the plans for the new system were decided upon in 
1836 the city contained 8,000 inhabitants. In 1849 the number 
was more than 20,000, and nearly twice the contents of the reser- 


voir was required each twenty-four hours. It was difficult to 

find time to make the necessary repairs. Contracts were made 

for a larger engine and new engine hpuse. The new engine was 

put in use in November, 1850. 

Early in 185 1 four acres of land on the Mullet farm, between 

Russell and Prospect Streets, opposite the city cemetery, were 

purchased by the council as a site for a new reservoir. 

• ^ 

GOT wate:r only at night. 

For several years there had been many complaints of insuffi- 
cient supply, as the population increased. People had to draw 
water at night for use the following day, and there were large dis- 
tricts in^ which a supply could not be secured before midnight. 
There was plenty of power to raise water to the reservoir, but 
inadequate means for distributing it. Joined to the four and a 
half miles of iron pipes, the largest having an interior diameter of 
ten inches, were about thirty-five miles of logs, principally of two- 
inch bore, and those were in many cases connected with a five- 
eighths inch lead pipe. These were laid regardless of any system, 
and the common council was besieged by complainants. More 
than $181,000 had been spent on construction, and there had been 
a deficit in fifteen years of more than $85,000. 

In 1852 the control of the water works was placed in the 
hands of five trustees, Shubael Conant, Henry Ledyard, Edmund 
A. Brush, James A. Van Dyke and WilHam R. Noyes. Jacob 
Houghton was appointed commissioner. Iron pipes were laid to 
those sections of the city from which the most complaints had 

The trustees were made a board of water commissioners Feb- 
ruary 14, 1853, by an amendment of the city charter, on applica- 
tion by the common council, and special powers and authority 
were given to them. Shubael Conant was the first president of 
the board. He later resigned and E. A. Brush was appointed. 

The city had grown from 1,500 to 35,000 people. Water- 
works constructions, supposed to be large enough to care for 
increased population, were repeatedly found inadequate after a 
few years. This lesson was learned. 

Be sure to build large enough; you will find it difficult to 





A LONG in the latter thirties and early forties, I was clerk in 
the book store of Sidney L. Rood in the Cooper Block on 
Jefferson Avenue, this city. I recall an incident that hap- 
pened, in which the Prince de Joinville and his suite figured. 

They visited this city while en route to Green Bay, Wis., on 
the steamer Columbus, in charge of Captain Shook. The steamer 
lay at her dock one entire day, giving the distinguished party 
ample time to see Detroit. They visited our store and remained 
quite a time looking over the French books in stock that I sub- 
mitted for their inspection, and they purchased quite liberally. 

Many of our people were curious to know why the prince 
and his party should be bound for Green Bay. The question 
appeared to be answered when it was remembered that the Rev- 
erend Eleazer Williams, the alleged Dauphin of France, son of 
Louis XVL and Marie Antoinette, lived there, and it was known 
afterwards that the prince called on the Reverend Eleazer Wil- 
liams, on the steamer's arrival at Green Bay, and had a prolonged 
interview with him. I think the prince did call and see Williams, 
but he disclaimed afterwards that there was any significance 
attached to it. Yet the people continued to wonder. 


In this connection, George Knaggs, in Robert B. Roy's his- 
tory of the Knaggs family, says: 

''While on a visit to my relatives in Detroit, I met General 
Lewis Cass, who said: 'You are the very man I wanted to see.' " 

He went to the Cass residence, where he was introduced to 
the Prince de Joinville and the Duke d'Aumale, sons of King 
Louise Phillippe, of France, who with their suite had just returned 
from Green Bay, Wis. Their suite consisted of Marshal Ber- 


trand, Count Montholon, Viscount Montesquieu and several ser- 

It appears that Louis Phillipe had heard that a man named 
Rev. Eleazer Williams, an Indian missionary in the Episcopal 
church of the United States, claimed that he was the son of Louis 
XVI. and Queen Marie Antoinette, who had been beheaded, was 
consequently the dauphin end entitled to the throne of France. 
To ascertain whether the story was true, the young princes came 
to the United States, chartered the steamer Columbus at Buf- 
falo, and proceeded to Green Bay, where Williams was preaching 
to a tribe of Indians. 


When they saw and spoke to him, however, they became 
convinced he was either a wilful imposter, or a person deceived 
by foolish stories. Williams was well-known in Detroit. When 
the first St. Paul's church on the east side of Woodward Avenue, 
between Larned and Congress Streets, was consecrated, on 
August 24, 1837, he read the consecration service and he was 
frequently in this citv afterwards. He died at Hogansburg, N. 
Y., in 1858. 

When the two princes were on their way back they stopped 
at Detroit and were entertained by General Cass. They had 
great curiosity to know the situation in the surrounding countr}-, 
which was once under French rule. Cass was much gratified on 
being able to furnish a historian on those subjects like George 
Knaggs, who was gentlemanly, finely educated and spoke French 
like a native. George accompanied the princes on their steam- 
boat trip to Buffalo, where he bade them farewell, and went to 
New York, via Lake Champlain. 

The Prince de Joinville and the Duke D'Aumale were 
accompanied by Marshal Bertrand, Count Montholon and the 
Viscount Montesquieu. Something in regard to their attire 
may be interesting. I copy a description of the same from an 
article that appeared in one of our daily journals, of date, Novem- 
ber 2.y, 1892, and written by Richard R. Elliott, Esq. 

''The princes, who were tall and sallow, but well shaped, 
wore dark cloth frocks, buttoned; light cassimere trousers, made 
rather collant, patent leather boots and blue traveling caps. De 
Joinville wore a Byron collar and black silk cravat once around 
with sailor fashioned knot ; D'Aumale a straight collar, black lace 


scarf run through a gold filagree ring ; Montesquieu was dressed 
somewhat like D'Aumale, neither wore mustache nor beard, nor 
was there any sign of jewelry visible. 

"There was, however, a small oval ring badge on the cap of 
De Joinville, on which was displayed an anchor, and the letters 
L. B. P., La Belle Poule, the name of his man-of-war frigate. 

"The marshal presented the type of the retired' generals of 
the army. His bronzed face, short white mustache, long blue 
frock, buttoned to the chin, loose blue trousers which partially 
concealed his legs, which had become bowed from the constant 
use of the saddle, his black cravat without collar, his erect and 
commanding appearance, all indicated the hero to whom histori- 
ans had already assigned a distinguished place in European his- 

"Montholon, confidential companion of his exiled master to 
the last, wore a bourgeois claret frock, buttoned, gray trousers, 
straight collar, black scarf and horseshoe coil scarf pin. He had 
in the upper button-hole of his frock the small ribbon of the 
Legion of Honor. His face was cleanly shaved, and both he and 
the marshal wore 'compromise' silk hats, i. e., neither bell-shaped, 
which was royalist, nor cone-shaped, which was republican." 

Mr. Elliott says, further, the dress of the princes and suite 
was described to him at the time by the junior of the firm of A. 
and J. McFarlane, merchant tailors here. 




A COPY from the Michigan Christian Herald, of October i6, 
1902, a portion of an article on this society, in 1827-8. As 
I was closely intimate with some of the persons mentioned 
in it, I give it herewith, and follow it with some personal 

The growth of modern Detroit dates in almost every particu- 
lar from the period from 1820 to 1830. It was in this period that 
the anomalous rule of the governor and judges, who combined in 
one body executive, legislative and judicial functions, gave way 
first to an appointive council to act with the governor in admin- 
istrative measures, and afterwards to an elective council. It 
was about this time also that the first steps were taken toward 
the establishment of the University of Michigan ; that the first 
State Medical Society was organized; that the first territorial 
roads were laid out; that emigration to the territory commenced 
on a large scale. 

"In this transition period from the lethargy of the old French 
settlement to the modern American city, the religious life of the 
place received a new impetus. It was along in this period that 
the first Episcopal, Methodist and Presbyterian churches were 
organized, and at this time, also, that a few Baptist brethren began 
to move for the establishment of religious services according to 
their own faith. 


"It was providential that Brother Henry Davis, who was 
just completing his studies for the ministry, had his attention 
turned in this direction, and in the August of 1826 he paid the 
brethren here a visit. In the course of the following winter a 
loom was fitted up "in the old Academy, a historic buildmg, which 
long stood at what is now the west entrance of the city hall. Two 


brethren and three sisters constituted his first congregation. At 
the first meeting all related their Christian experience, and cove- 
nanted together to strive for the establishment of their faith in 
the city. Stated meetings were thereafter kept up in the Academy 
for preaching, prayer and business. On the 19th of August Mrs. 
Nancy Cabell was added to their number by baptism, the first bap- 
tism by immersion that ever took place in the Detroit River. 
Later in the same month two others were also baptised. 

"October 20th, 1827, at the call of these brethren, a council 
convened, and, after examination of their letters, declaration of 
faith and covenant, gave them recognition as an organized body 
of believers, under the name of the First Baptist church at 
Detroit. The council consisted of lay delegates from the churches 
in Pontiac, Troy and Farmington. No minister of the denomina- 
tion is known to have been then settled in the state except Rev. 
Elkanah Comstock, of Pontiac, who, from some providential 
cause, was not present. The fact is historically suggestive th^t the 
nearest ministers whose presence could be secured for the occa- 
sion were Rev. Elisha Tucker, of Fredonia, Rev. Jairus Handy, of 
Buffalo, N. Y., and Rev. Asahel Mors^, of Ohio. The sermon on 
the occasion was from the text, 'Walk About Zion,' etc., by 
Brother Tucker, the moderator of the council, and the charge 
and hand of fellowship by Brethren Morse and Handy. The con- 
stituent members of the church were, Henry Davis, pastor ; Leon- 
ard Loomis, Reuben Starr, and Sisters Eliza H. Davis, Mary 
Loomis, Martha Rhodes, Hannah W. Gordon, Sally Moon, and 
Thankful Newberry. Brother Francis P. Browning was con- 
sidered a member, though his letter from Pontiac was not received 
at that time. To these four brethren and six sisters was thus 
given a banner to be diisplayed because of the truth, and in the 
name of their God, they set it up. 


"Of the further labors of Brother Henry Davis, Rev. Samuel 
Haskell said in his Half Centurv Memorial of the Church : 'The 
records of the church during the first year are incomplete. They 
mention, however, the painful exclusion of one who was among 
the first baptized into their number, the dismissal of several others, 
and the disablement of the pastor by sickness, which compelled 
him to leave the field at the opening of navigation, before he had 


finished a year's labor on it. He left in April, much debilitated, 
intending, however, by appointment of the church, to serve it for a 
few months in collecting funds to build a house of worship, and 
then return. But these expectations were disappointed. His 
work here was finished. He had accomplished good under great 
hindrances, and deserves our grateful remembrance, especially for 
the leading part he acted in procuring from the city the grant of 
these most eligible and beautiful lots on which our house of wor- 
ship stands. This grant was secured only by coping with great 
opposition, and owed its passage very much to the friendly advice 
and active co-operation of Governor Cass, whose sympathy with 
the young interest and its young pastor is still spoken of by the 
latter with affectionate gratitude." 

*'For more than three weeks after Brother Davis' departure 
the church was without a pastor and was refused admission to the 
Michigan Baptist Association. The reason given for this refusal 
was that the body was too small to be considered a church, and 
that it chose to receive as members persons who had been baptized 
by pedobaptist ministers. Through this period the church mem- 
bership varied from eight? to twelve. But the little band with a 
noble zeal and firm purpose, continued to hold meetings regularly 
from house to house. Brother Browning was an acknowledged 
leader among them, and he was accustomed to expound the Scrip- 
tures, read a published sermon, conduct a Sunday School, and 
exercise a general presidency over the church. Though unso- 
licited by agents this little body of faithful workers made regular 
contributions to foreign missions and tract and Bible organiza- 
tions, and erected a small building for the uses of the church. 

"The history of the denomination in the state contains few 
records of more devoted service and deeper Christian love than 
were shown by this little body during its day of small things." 


Of those first members that met on the 20th of October, 1827, 
the following, as a boy I knew well : Rev. Henry Davis and his 
wife, Sally Moon, Thankful Newberry and Francis P. Browning. 
I have always been told that my father. Friend Palmer, who was 
a devout Baptist, was mainly instrumental in inducing Brother 
Davis to turn his eyes in this direction. He came in 1826, as the 
Herald says, and one year before the advent of my mother and two 
sisters and mvself. 


In July, 1827, the trustees of the city gave Rev. Mr. Davis 
permission to use the lower room of the academy as a place of 
public worship. This academy was a historic building, as the 
Herald has it, but it was located on the corner of Bates and Con- 
gress Streets, instead of where the west entrance of the city hall 
is. He held forth there accordingly every Sunday morning and 
at 2 o'clock in the afternoon. During his pastorate here he bap- 
tized my mother, Thankful Palmer, and at my father's death in 
May, 1827, officiated at the funeral. Shortly after this my mother 
and myself became inmates in his family, for how long I do not 
remember, but it appears to me for nearly a year. He lived then 
on the Corner of Hastings and Woodbridge Streets in the rear of 
the present Blodgett Terrace. He was a charming man and a 
most devout Christian. His wife was a most estimable woman, 
and so neat and trim. They were a very devoted couple, and dur- 
ing all the years that have intervened, their memory dwells with 
me fresh and fragrant, "like the vase in which roses have once 
been distilled." 

Mrs. Thankful Newberry was the wife of Uncle Henry New- 
berry, and a most intimate and dear friend of my mother. Miss 
Sally Moon was quite prominent here in those days. She was 
associated with her brother, Geo. C. Moon, in the millinery and 
fancy goods business, and what Miss Moon said in regard to the 
prevailing style in female attire "went," as the saying is. 


Mr. Francis P. Browning was a most estimable man, and 
extensive operator in lumber, real estate, etc., a true, unselfish 
Christian gentleman, if there ever was one. The firm of F. & T. 
Palmer was intimately connected with him in many business ven- 
tures, all of which were mutually beneficial. He was a sure Bap- 
tist from the crown of his head to the sole of his foot. He died, 
much lamented, of the cholera, in 1834. He left a son, Samuel 
Browning, who is at present in the hardware business in this city. 

Francis P. Browning was the father of the Baptist Sunday 
School in this city, as were John J. Deming and Horace Hallock 
of that of the Presbyterians. 

My uncle, Thos. Palmer, was intimately connected with the 
building of the first Baptist church on the corner of Fort and 
Griswold Streets. Though not a member of that persuasion, he 

268 i;ari.y days in Detroit. 

assisted in the erection of the building in many ways, principally 
in money and lumber, the latter from his sawmill at St. Clair. So 
much was he identified with it that he was considered one of the 
"pillars of the church," and Rev. .Mr. Turnbull, its first pastor, 
was always an honored and welcome guest at his house, corner 
Fort and Shelby Streets. Senator Palmer when a boy was a 
regular attendant at the Baptist Sunday School, as I was myself. 
After Rev. Mr. Davis left the society erected a small wooden 
building for church and Sunday School purposes on the corner of 
Fort and Griswold Streets, and it continued there until it made 
way for the fine new brick structure that took its place. In addi- 
tion to those I have mentioned as being at that time members or 
regular attendants, I recall the names and personalities of the 
following : Lewis Goddard and wife, Mr. Crocker and wife, Mr. 
Ambrose and wife, Henry Glover, James Burns, Solomon Davis 
and wife, John Bloom and wife, the three Dwight families, Sam- 
uel Goodell and wife, Miss Urilla Bacon. The last named was a 
niece of Lewis Goddard, an inmate in his family. In her James 
Burns met his fate, then and there. After marriage, I think, 
they joined the Methodist Church. Anyway, they were mighty 
good people, good enough for any church. Henry Glover also 
met his fate here, in the person of Miss Laura Dwight, a daughter 
of Mr. Amassa Dwight. She was his first wife, and a charming 
woman she was. 

HIS mothe;r's baptism. 

Referring again to Rev. Henry Davis, and my mother's bap- 
tism, it was by immersion and it occurred on the river front, 
between Hastings Street and Bolivar Alley. The latter alley is 
now obliterated, but it ran between the residences of Theo H. 
Eaton and Wm. G. Thompson, from Jefferson Avenue to the 

Most of the river front along here was composed of a sandy 
beach, shallow water out for quite a distance, with hard, sandy 
bottom. It was an ideal place for the purpose, much better I used 
to think, than the one in front of the Cass Farm. When the new 
church was erected on the Corner of Fort and Griswold Streets a 
large tank, for use in immersions, was put in the basement. I 
think after this no more baptisms happened on the river front, 
except those that got into the water by accident, or mistake, with- 
out the aid of a minister. 



THE old Detroit Gazette was an insignificant sheet both in 
size and appearance. The Democratic Free Press that fol- 
lowed it was a trifle larger, and a decided improvement, as 
regards typography, paper and contents. The first page of 
the Gasette was almost entirely taken up with the laws of the 
United States and the territory of Michigan. It was fairly 
patronized by the merchants and others with advertisements. 

I have a file of the paper from July 21, 1820, to June 28, 
1822, from which I make some extracts, coupled with some per- 
sonal remembrances of parties, and incidents mentioned in its 
pages, that may be of interest to many and of no moment perhaps 
to others. Anyway they will serve to show the difference in many 
things between then and now. ^'Jom'mg in Contrast Lieth Love's 
Delight." In the issue of July 21, 1820, I find: 

George McDougall, Sec'y pro tem of Board of Trustees, 
orders that the assize of bread be 4lbs. 40Z. for 12 1-2 cents; and 
2lbs. 20Z. for 61-4 cents. 

It also has an article taken from the New York Columbian, 

"Shameful procedure — Some persons at York (now Toronto) 
in Upper Canada recently thought proper to show their loyalty 
to the British and hatred to the American cause, by seizing on 
a wax figure of General Jackson, which had been exhibited in 
that place, and after a mock trial, hanging it and destroying it. 
This pitiful evidence of malice appeared to give great satisfac- 
tion, and even a newspaper expresses much approbation at the 
triumph. We have, however, been gratified in seeing, in another 
part of the province, sentiments of a very proper disapprobation 
of this procedure." 

From July T3th to the 21st the Gazette chronicles nine 
arrivals at this port and nine departures. Among them were the 


Steamboat Walk-in-the- Water, Rogers, master ; and the schooner 
General Jackson, Chelsea Blake, master. 


Tunis S. Wendell & Co. advertise in the same space a gen- 
eral assortment of goods, just received from the east (at the 
new store in Mrs. Dodemead's house). 

This Doderhead house was on the northeast corner of Jeffer- 
son Avenue and Shelby Street. 

John S. Roby advertises for sale at his auction and commis- 
sion store, on the wharf, between Shelby and Wayne Streets, 
quite an assortment of merchandise, consisting of whiskey, beer, 
flour, pork, tobacco, furniture, boots and shoes, etc. 

June 26th, 182 1, the steamboat W"alk-in-the- Water, Jebediah 
Rogers, master, advertises to sail from Black Rock on the 9th of 
July next, at' 4 o'clock in the afternoon, for Detroit, Michili- 
mackinac and Green Bay. She will sail from Detroit on her 
return trip on the 23d of July. 


M. Chapin & Co. say that they have received from New 
York a very extensive assortment of drugs, medicines, groceries, 
paints, oils, dye-woods, dye stuffs, etc., and offer the same low 
for cash, at the store adjoining the house of Mr. Roby. 

Mr. Roby's house was just below the Michigan Exchange. 
The "Co." was John Owen, and after this the firm was John 
Owen & Co., Dr. Chapin retiring, and Theo. H. Hinchman taking 
his place. Mr. Owen, after some years, retired and Mr. James 
A. Hinchman took his place. 

The firm then became T. & J. Hinchman. Mr. J. A. Hinch- 
man, after a brief session, retired, and T. H. Hinchman's three 
sons took his place, under the firm name of T. H. Hinchman & 
Sons. After the death of T. H. Hinchman the concern was 
merged into the present extensive one of Williams, Davis, Brooks 
& Hinchman Sons. 

I imagine it is the only firm in the entire west that has main- 
tained a continuous organization (so to speak) for nearly ninety 
years, and with unimpaired credit. 

It appears the paper, itself, was in trade. Their issue July 
21, 1820, has this notice: 


Quills, etc. — Just received at this office. Also Flutes, Fifes, 
Flute Preceptors, Fife do. Blank Music Books, Record Books, 

James Abbott, postmaster, has quite a List of Letters in his 
office uncalled for. 

Another advertisement reads : ■' 

Paul Clapp. 

Has on hand, and will constantly keep for sale, at wholesale and 
retail, a large assortment of Hats, Beaver, Castor, Roram, Napt 
and Felt. 

Also — Ladies elegant Beaver Hats, with trimmings complete. 

The whole will be sold very cheaf for CASH or PELTRY. 

Clapp's place of business was between Bates and Randolph 
Streets, on west side of Jefferson Avenue. 


July 6th, 182 1, the paper records a 4th of July celebration, by 
the citizens and strangers in the city. At twelve o'clock, the 
Declaration of Independence was read to a large concourse, at the 
Council House by Chas. Lamed, Esqr. A procession was then 
formed, and preceded by martial music playing the good old tune 
of "Yankee Doodle," marched to the hotel of Mr. Bronson, where 
upwards of one hundred and fifty persons sat down to a bounteous 
repast; at whidh Judge James Witherell, as president, and Major 
T. Maxwell, as vice-president, presided. Both of these gentle- 
men entered the army at an early period of the revolution, and 
never laid aside their arms until the liberties of their country were 
secured. Major T. Kearsley and Captain Bien Wood worth 
assisisted as second and third vice-presidents. A set of appro- 
priate toasts were drunk. 

Aside from the foregoing a number of ladies and gentlemen 
of this city and vicinity, also officers of the army at this post, 
embarked on. the steamboat Walk-in-the-Water at 11 a. m. The 
company was also attended by a fine band. The day was extremely 
fine, and the quarter deck of the boat, which by the politeness of 
Captain Rogers had been prepared for the purpose, was occupied 
by cotillion parties. 

The boat, after passing Maiden and making a short trip into 

272 B:ARLY days in DETROIT. 

Lake Erie, returned to her wharf at sunset. The British troops 
at Maiden saluted the steamer on passing. 

In the issue of August 10, 182 1, A. C. Canniff (Judge Can- 
niif ) says he has oj>ened a boot and shoe shop in the small build- 
ing two doors east of Colonel Henry J. Hunt*s store, where he 
intends to carry on the business in all its branches. 

Colonel Hunt's store was a few doors east of Shelby Street 
on the south side of Jefferson Avenue. 


In the issue of August 17 is a notice of the arrival of the 
schooner Decatur from Chicago and Mackinac, having on board 
500 packs of furs, valued at $100,000. The schooner Red Jacket 
sailed from this port with 200 packs of furs. 

James Abbott, auctioneer, says he will sell (same date) a 
large quantity of maple sugar in barrels, kegs and mococks, and 
take his pay in fine flour at the, then, cash price. 

December i, 1820, the proprietors of the Gazette offer for 
sale a large and fine assortment of miscellaneous books, much the 
finest that has ever been brought to the territory. 

In this same issue F. T. & J. Palmer have nearly a column ad. 
but dated November 15, setting forth that they have received and 
are opening their fall stock of goods, comprising almost every- 
thing in the line of dry goods, groceries, liquors, hardware, crock- 
ery and glass ware, which can be had low, for cash. 

December 29, 1820, records the marriage of Mr. David 
Cooper to Miss Lovicy Mack, also that of Captain Henry Whit- 
ing, of the Fifth Regiment, to Miss Eliza Macomb. Both couples 
were joined by Rev. Mr. Monteith. 

David Cooper was father of Rev. David M. Cooper, of this 
city. Captain Whiting was afterward Major Whiting, and sta- 
tioned here for many years as quartermaster. 

In the issue of February 16, is a notice of the marriage of 
Doctor J. L. Whiting, at Hudson, N. Y., on the i8th of January 
to Miss Harriet C. Talman, daughter of Doctor John Talman, 
mayor of that city. 

Scores of our citizens will remember Dr. Whiting with pleas- 
urable emotions, I am sure. 

Chauncey S. Payne, says, he has, for sale. Cheap for Cash, at 
his shop on Jefferson Avenue, south side (between Shelby and' 
Griswold Streets) a large assortment of jewelry, clocks, watches, 
military goods, pocket knives, Indian jewelry, etc. 


The Gazetter Office offers school books of all kinds, wrap- 
ping paper and law blanks. John P. Sheldon, of the same office, 
has a few axes for sale of excellent quality. 

praise: for OAKI.AND COUNTY. 

A stranger contributing a long article to the Gazette, on the 
country around and adjacent to Detroit, among other things has 
this to say about the country around Pontiac. 

"The little lakes I have mentioned (twenty-one of which I 
visited and from, the best information I could obtain there are 
upwards of sixty of them in all) abound with fish of various 
kinds, many of which I saw would weigh twelve pounds each ; 
they are also in great abundance. The grey and black duck was 
frequently seen in large flocks on these unfrequented waters. 
These lakes are of various dimensions, from one to four miles in 
circumference. Here may be found some of the most delightful 
retreats for gentlemen of taste and fortune, and only a week^s 
journey from the city of New York. When the great Erie canal 
to Lake Erie is completed, you need not be surprised at seeing 
gentlemen with their families coming to spend the summer months 
on their country seats near Pontiac." 

the; old-time ferry. 

In the issue of July 21, 1820, and continued through the files 
of the Gazette that I have, is the notice that B. Woodworth has 
obtained a license to keep a ferry on Detroit River, and calls on 
the public for patronage. He has, he says, provided an excellent 
flat, and his boat for passengers is superior to any that can be 
found on the river. Careful men have been engaged to attend the 
ferry, and constant attention will be given, in order that paasen- 
gers shall suflFer no delay. The ferry is kept nearly in front of 
the Steamboat Hotel. 

Ben Woodworth's Steamboat Hotel was on the southwest 
corner of Randolph and Woodbridge Streets, and the ferry land- 
ing was at the foot of Randolph Street. 

In the same issue and continued through subsequent issues 
for quite a period, is a notice of the forming of a land agency, by 
Ball & Petit, and that an office has been opened at the office of the 
surveyor of the Michigan territory ip the city of Detroit, for the 
purchase, sale or exchange of lands, public and private, lying 



within this territory, the western district of New York and Upper 
Canada, or the adjacent parts of the state of Ohio, etc. 

This firm of Ball and Petit was dissolved before my advent 
here, by the death of Mr. Petit. Mr. Ball, the survivor, when I 
knew him, was in the employ of Sheldon & Reed as assistant edi- 
tor or business manager of the Gazetter, I think in latter capacity. 
He was quite competent, however, to fill both positions. He at 
the time boarded in my uncle's family, adjoining the Gazette 
office, and with him was his sister, a charming girl in her teens, 
Sophia Ball. The latter was here temporarily. What became of 
Ball I do not remember, but his sister returned to her home some- 
where in the south and married Mr. Hancock, a southern planter 
who owned many slaves. 


Miss Ball, her father, and Miss Elizabeth Clemens, of Mt. 
Clemens, the latter a daughter of Judge Clemens, were inmates of 
my uncle's homestead for a year or more, the young ladies attend- 
ing school here. Two or three years after Miss Ball's marriage, 
she visited her former brief home here, with her two children and 
they were guests in my uncle's family. She had with her a young 
colored girl, one of her husband's slaves, as a nurse. 

The fact became known to Doctor E. W. Cowles, a partner 
of Doctor E. Hurd, through a colored barber on the steamer that 
brought them here. The doctor, a pronounced abolitionist, inter- 
ested himself in the aflfair and the girl was abducted ; her mistress 
never saw her again, and, I remember so well, much to her 

I don't think Doctor Hurd had any knoweldge of the affair, 
though I know his sympathies were all with the colored people. 

Mr. R. B. Ross, in his sketches of Detroit in 1837, has 
already dilated on this incident, and the reason I repeat it is that 
I know the lady well who is mentioned and the circumstances con- 
nected therewith, also think I furnished Mr. Ross with some of 
the facts. 

Mr. Petit, who, as I have said, died before my arrival here, 
left a widow and one child, a boy. The Petits lived on the south- 
east corner of Woodward Avenue and Congress Street, and 
owned through to Griswold Street. The son, Dudley Petit, a 
bright youth, a schoolmat^e of mine, died in the early thirties. The 
widow married Mr. Eurotas P. Hastings, president of the OM 
Bank of Michigan. 




THERE are many interesting articles in the old Detroit 
Gazette, from which I quoted last week. They throw a 
great deal of light on life in Detroit in the early twenties. 
For example, in the issue of July 21, 1821, I found that W. 
Leonard & Co. inform their friends and the public, that they have 
commenced the Saddling and Harness business at Spencer's Tan- 
nery a few rods above the city, and ask for a share of their pat- 

This Spencer's tannery was situated on the river front, just 
west of Hastings Street. Spencer, whoever he was, had docked 
out into the river quite a space and filled it in with earth. It was 
said that an Indian chief with uplifted tomahawk chased a man 
by the name of Scott into this tanyard with murderous intent 
but Scott hid in one of the tanning vats and thus got rid of his 

It was quite a busy locality in the early thirties. Mr. De- 
quindre, a brother of Major Antoine Dequindre, had an exten- 
sive store close by. The Detroit & Black River Steam Mill Co. 
had their saw mill and lumber yard just west; and opposite the 
tannery yards were quite a number of saloons, a French dancing 
house and billiard room ; also located in the vicinity were two or 
three other dance houses, and it was said a seeker after a chance 
and place to "trip the light fantastic toe" had only to get on top 
of any of the lumber piles nearby to determine where it was 
located by the sound of the fiddle. Those dances were always 
on tap. 

Harvey Williams had his extensive blacksmith shop near 
here, and Alanson Sheeley had an extensive lumber yard near, 
when he was agent for some Black River (Port Huron) steam 
saw mill company. On this tannery dock was built the steamboat 
Argo, No. 2. 




Storage and Commission Business. 

(At the Steamboat Wharf), . 

D. C. McKinstry informs the pubHc that he has taken the com- 
modious store house, wharf and yard of Austin Ewing (foot of 
Bates Street) and will transact the above business on accommo- 
dating terms. 

Auction and Commission Store. 

James Abbott has just received N. Y., Penn., and Ohio 
^ .1 Whisky, Smoked Hams, Bacon, Lard, Butter and Genesee Cheese, 
M^^ I Flour, Garden Seeds, Pecan and Hickory Nuts, Domestic Goods 
by Box or Piece, Buffalo Robes, Playing Cards, Soap, Tar, Lin- 
seed Oil, Grind Stones, Stoves, Boards & Scantling, etc. 

Also — a few barrels of Whisky, four years old, and best 
Jamaica Spirits. 

Jerry Dean has 

Saddles, Bridles, Harness, Portmanteaus, VaHses, etc., Jefferson 
Avenue, west side, between Griswold and Shelby Sts. 

The proprietors of the. steamboat Walk-in-the- Water have 
come down in their price for cabin passage from Detroit to Black 
Rock, from 18 to 15 dollars. J. Rogejrs, Master. 

Henry L Hunt says in addition to his usual assortment of 
Dry Goods, Groceries, Hardware, Crockery and Shoes, he has 
just received 100 barrels of Flour, 3 do of Maple Sugar, 50 do of 
Pork, 100 do of Whisky, 200 do of Salt, 14 kegs of Butter and 7 
crates of Bottles and 3 boxes Domestic Factory Cottons. All of 
which he will sell low for cash. He says further. Bills on the 
Bank of Muskingum, Ohio, will be received in payment for the 
sugar and for part of the flour, butter and pork. Also, he again 
solicits those who owe him to make payment without delay; by 
so doing they will avert the mortification of being sued, and 
relieve him from that painful duty. 

JoHNSY McCarthy says he has established a bakery at the 
southeast corner of Griswold and Woodbridge Streets, where may 
be found at all times loaf bread, sea biscuits, rusks, hot rolls, etc. 

McCarthy was in the same business, and at the same location, 
when I came here and after. 


WiivCOx & Beach inform their friends and the public, that 
they have commenced the Hatting business in this city, and will 
manufacture and keep on hand a good assortment of well finished 
Hats, warranted equal in style and quality to any manufactured 
in this country. 

Wilcox was the father of Eben N. and General O. B. Wilcox. 


Detroit in the early twenties was governed by a board of 
trustees, of which James Abbott was the chairman and Jas. D. 
Doty secretary. 

In the issue of January 12, 182 1, James Abbott, postmaster, 
says : 

"The trouble, exclusive of the loss, I have lately experienced 
in crediting postage, renders it necessary for me to discontinue it. 
Notice is therefore give that from and after the first day of Feb- 
ruary next no letter will be delivered out of the office unless the 
postage is paid, except to persons who receive letters on public 
business. Postage on newspapers is required by the seventeenth 
article of instructions from the general postoffice, to be paid in 
advance, without which they will not be delivered, even should the 
money be tendered for them singly. N. B. — Persons who are 
dissatisfied with the above arrangement, and others who do not 
like to carry change in their pockets, may be accommodated by 
depositing the probable amount of one quarterns postage in 

PONTIAC IN 182 1. 

In the issue, Friday, February 2, 182 1, the editor has this to 
say in regard to Pontiac village : 

A gentleman recently from Pontiac gives us the following 
information in regard to the progress and improvement in that 
new settlement : 

"In December, 18 18, the first house was erected, and in July, 
1820, the first County Court was held. 

"There is now within the limits of the spot laid out for the 
shire town of Pontiac one large grist mill, one saw mill, one tan- 
ner and currier, one shoemaker, one blacksmith, one cabinetmaker, 
one wheelwright, three carpenters and one brickmaker. 

"From the 21st to the 28th ult. sixty-three sleighs, each 
loaded from thirty to forty-eight bushels of grain, arrived at the 


grist mill, and all from a distance of more than twenty-five miles. 

"In March, 1819, there were but four families in the County 
of Oakland — there are now about 200 — all of the best class of 

In a communication to the Gazette from a correspondent, 
February 2, 1821, he has this to say in regard to Sault Ste. Marie, 
the expedition of Governor Cass and party the year previous and 
the Indians : 

''It (the Soo) is the key to the country around and north of 
Lake Superior, and equally important to the savages and the 
English. Accordingly the English government has established a 
post on Drummond's Island, at the mouth of this (Soo) river, 
and made that a deposit of presents for the Indians. When the 
exploring party last season landed at Sandy Lake, many of the 
head men of the bands were receiving cordial greetings at this 
island; and to reach this happy spot, where fortune always smiles, 
it is absolutely necessary they should pass the Soo. Here is an 
extent of country of 500 miles, in which British flags and British 
medals are not unfrequent sights. It is by this same route, like- 
wise, the North- West Company make their largest and most val- 
uable returns. At this time an easy, free and avowed communi- 
cation is had annually with these Indians by this place. It is with 
regret and displeasure that both sides (British and Indians) try 
to intercept this wide-trod path. 

"This dislike was strongly evinced last season when a treaty 
was held by Governor Cass at the Sault for a cession of a certain 
tract situated there, claimed by our government under Wayne's 
treaty. It was with the greatest difficulty that cession was 
obtained. One of the chiefs who was called the 'count' appeared 
in the council in the full dress of a British officer, and during the 
conference showed the greatest aversion for the Americans. 
When the chiefs were about to retire, this fellow standing by the 
presents, which lay in the center of the marquee where the coun- 
cil was held, with great contempt, kicked them aside and rushed 
out of the marquee. 


"In a few moments a British flag, and not a North-West flag, 
was seen flying within thirty rods, and in front of the governor's 
camp, and in the midst of the Indian lodges. Immediately the 
governor, unattended by any of the party, walked to the lodge 

NO more; CRDIT at TH^ POSTOFFICE. 279 

where the flag was raised, and by which the chiefs who had been 
in the council were standing, and seizing the flag, he flung it upon 
the ground and trampled it under his feet. 

"The Indians appeared panic-struck by this daring act. The 
governor called to the interpreter and remonstrated with them 
upon the impropriety of their conduct, and upon the hostile feel- 
ings they displayed towards the United States. He also stated 
the inevitable result to which such conduct must lead, and that 
a repetition of it while we were there, would not pass unpunished. 
In less than fifteen minutes, the squaws belonging to the lodges, 
with all their children, had abandoned their camp and were safely 
landed on the British shore, and appearances indicated an imme- 
diate attack. On the part of the exploring party preparations 
were instantly made for defense against any attack which might 
be made by the Indians. But the firmness of the party effected 
what had already been despaired of. In a short time the older 
chiefs sent for the governor and disavowed the rash act which 
had been committed. They attributed it to the young men, and 
expressed their sincere regret at its occurrence. They also 
requested a renewal of the council, and proposed their readiness 
to make the small concession, being only sixteen sections which 
was asked. The council was accordingly renewed and in a short 
time the treaty was signed. These same Indians had before 
insulted American officers who had visited the Sault, and their 
object was undoubtedly to ascertain how far their insolence might 
be carried with impunity. During the whole of this transaction, 
in their conduct and in their language, a positive attachment to 
the English was very evident." 

(An allusion has been made to this incident previously, but 
differing from it in many respects.) 


ERA IN 1832 AND 1834. 

DETROIT had memorable epidemics of cholera in 1832 and 
1834. I was but a strip of a lad then and do not remem- 
ber much about it, only in a general way. I was too young 
to realize the grave import of the calamity. 

The bonfires of tar and rosin that the common council ordered 
lighted at the corners of the principal streets throughout the 
city, as a sanitary precaution, made the whole affair look to me 
like a continuous Fourth of July celebration, so I rather enjoyed 
it than otherwise and gave no thought to the cholera. 

An immense iron potash kettle was located in the center of 
the square at the intersection of Jefferson Avenue and Wood- 
ward, and was kept constantly full, night and day, with burning 
tar and rosin. 

A portion of the troops under General Scott were quartered 
here for a short time, while on their way to Green Bay, Wis., to 
attend to Black Hawk. They occupied the government ware- 
house on Woodbridge Street, near the corner of Cass. The chol- 
era broke out among them, as it did, indeed, among his whole 
command. Many of them died here, I think. I know many of 
them did die of the dread disease after they embarked on the 
steamer Henry Clay and were buried along the shore of the St. 
Clair River. All old settlers on the St. Clair will confirm this 

CHOi^ERA IN 1832. 

Four steamers, the Henry Clay, Superior, Sheldon Thomp- 
son and William Penn, were chartered by the United States gov- 
ernment for the purpose of transporting troops, provisions, etc., 
to Chicago during the Black Hawk war ; but owing to the fearful 
ravages made by the breaking out of the Asiatic cholera among 
the troops, the crews on board two of these boats, the Henry 
Clay and Superior, were compelled to abandon their voyage, pro- 
ceeding no further than Fort Gratiot. 


On the Henry Clay nothing like discipline could be main- 
tained. As soon as the steamer came to the dock each man sprang 
on shore, hoping to escape from a scene so terrifying and appall- 
ing. Some fled to the woods, some to the fields, while others lay 
down in the streets or under the cover of the river bank, where 
most of them died, unwept and alone. 

Their remains were subsequently gathered up and buried at 
Fort Gratiot. Among the dead was a son of Henry Clay, to 
whom a monument was erected in the cemetery at that post. 

The Sheldon Thompson arrived in Chicago about the first of 
July with her complement of troops and munitions of war, and 
supplies for Fort Dearborn. Out of the number of soldiers 
aboard of her twelve had died of the disease after she left Detroit, 
and their bodies were cast into Lake Michigan at the mouth of 
the Chicago River. 


Father Richard, the venerated and well-beloved Catholic 
priest, also fell a victim to the disease, contracted in his tireless 
devotion to the stricken, a martyr to the cause of humanity. I 
was at his funeral, as indeed the whole community were, far and 
near. His remains were deposited temporarily in the grounds 
adjoining St. Mary's Hospital and shortly after found, as was 
then supposed, a permanent resting place in the vaults under old 
St. Anne's church, corner Larned and Bates Streets. When the 
latter was destroyed, I think they were removed to the new St. 

His body lay in state for two or three days in front of the 
high altar in the church that he built almost entirely through his 
own exertions. It was his pride and he loved it well. His body 
was so arranged that it reposed clad in its priestly robes, half 
reclining in his coffin, so that the features could be distinctly seen 
the moment one entered the church. 

A sorrowing crowd filled the church almost constantly, dur- 
ing the time his body lay in state, and on the occasion of the 
funeral the obsequies were most solemn and impressive. 


From about the middle of July, 1834, to a date about 40 or 
60 days thereafter, this dreadful disease visited all ages, sexes, 
conditions and colors in Detroit, and out of a population not 


exceeding 3,500, more than 10 per cent were cut down amidst 
a panic of dread and misery, such as had rarely visited any of 
our cities before. 

Among the earhest victims was Governor Geo. B. Porter, 
who died very suddenly in the very meridian of his life. He 
passed away down at the brick house then in Springwells, which 
he was erecting and furnishing for his own habitation. It was 
afterwards occupied by the late Sylvester Lamed. The death of 
Governor Porter left Stevens T. Mason, then but 20 years old, 
the secretary and acting governor of Michigan, which place, not- 
withstanding his youth, he filled with dignity and honor until in 
1836 he was elected by the people of Michigan to that same office 
and held it until 1839. 


At this time, 1834, Charles C. Trowbridge was the mayor of 
Detroit. No better man or braver officer for such an emergency 
ever held an office of so much importance to the safety and wel- 
fare and the protection of a terrified and terror-stricken people. 
The alarm that spread all over Detroit was created and extended 
not merely by the sudden and awful deaths which occurred on 
the steamers, on the docks, among the woodpiles and merchan- 
dise strewed along the river, not merely among the laboring, the 
dissipated, the filthy and reckless portion of the community, but 
by the deaths among the most temperate, the most cleanly and 
apparently among the most calm and courageous. Those who 
have read Eugene Sue will not forget that when Father Rhodan 
met the cholera as he came out of the gates of Paris and 
demanded of him "for what purpose he had been mowing down 
that population like blades of grass before the scythe," the chol- 
era responded to the reproach that he "had carried off only one- 
third, while fear alone had destroyed the remaining two-thirds." 
As it was true in Paris, so it was in Detroit. 


The late Geo. C. Bates, writing about it in 1885, says: "It 
is impossible now after fifty years have rolled away, to describe 
the terror, alarm and panic that prevailed, to depict or portray 
with the pen the blanched cheeks and the husky voices of brave 
men who met at the corners of the streets or in the reception 
room and drinking room of the old Mansion House (for brandy 


was prescribed by Drs. Rice and Whiting and other leading phy- 
sicians). Standing upon its gallery, they could look up and down 
the avenue and see carts, drays and all kinds of vehicles on their 
way to the cemetery, filled with corpses, many of whom but a 
few hours before were in full health and strength. Neither can 
I portray the absolute alarm and panic which emptied that old 
Mansion House of nearly all its inmates on the death of its 
matron, Mrs. Boyer — a woman huge in size, with a heart in full 
proportion to her body, and courage that seemed to bid defiance 
to death itself. About the 25th of August the bulletins reported 
the death of thirty-six on that one day, among whom were 
General Chas. Larned, F. P. Browning, Tom Knapp, the sheriff, 
E. B. Canning, Mrs. B. F. H. Witherell, and others like them. 

*'Dr. Randall Rice declared, with an oath, that in 1832 he 
had saved nearly all his patients by bleeding and calomel, yet at 
this season every single patient whom he had thus far treated 
had died upon his hands. 

"To obtain nurses at night and aids and assistants to remove 
and bury the dead became almost impossible. Despair was fast 
settling upon all who rernained. The stages were loaded down 
each succeeding morning with load after load of frightened peo- 
ple, who fled in terror to Pontiac, to Ann Arbor, to Jackson or 
Monroe, and w^ho not unfrequently died on their way, or imme- 
diately after reaching their destination of supposed safety." 


In the midst of all this desolation there appeared, to aid 
Mayor Trowbridge in his efforts to arrest the progress of the 
disease, to roll back by force of will and courage the tide of 
anxiety and fear that existed, one who was then and long after- 
wards regarded almost a savior of Detroit, whose heroism and 
Christian pluck and power did more than all other things to- 
rescue his people from the grave. He won from them a record 
and testimonial never to be effaced. His benevolence, humanity 
and devotion to duty equaled any upon the field of battle, or 
exhibited in the wildest and most fearful storms at sea. I mean 
Father Kundig, a Catholic priest, who many a long year iifter- 
wards was an honored bishop in Milwaukee of Holy Mother 
church, and who carried with him to his grave the affections of 
all who ever knew him. 


The good father on his own responsibihty went to work as 
utterly regardless and fearess of death as if God had vouchsafed 
to him the power to crush it in the hollow of his hand or stamp 
it out as he would the burning brand planted by an incendiary. 
He organized and improvised a hospital just behind where the 
Russell House now stands. Calling to his aid some twenty-five 
or more of the daughters of his church, young, bright and beau- 
tiful girls, like Josephine Desnoyer, Anne Dequindre, the Knaggs 
and Campau girls, he infused into them at once by his teachings 
and by his holy example an absolute conviction that it was their 
duty to visit the sick, to perform the most irksome and sickening 
duties for the poor, filthy and drunken wretches that were gath- 
ered up each morning from the docks, steamers, lanes and high- 
ways of Detroit, and to nurse them and to save them if possible 
from death, and after death to prepare them decently and care- 
fully for the grave. 

So thoroughly did he arm them with his own courage and 
religious zeal and pluck that almost at once the minds of all the 
people began to realize that indeed cholera cut down only about 
one-third, while panic and fear finished the work by laying low 
the remaining two-thirds. Let it be borne in mind and never be 
forgotten that of that noble old Catholic priest, and all those 
bright, beaming, beautiful and blessed Catholic girls, not one of 
them, although exposed day by day and night by night for weeks 
together during the existence of that dreadful epidemic, ever 
were even attacked by that hideous monster, the cholera. 


Let it not be forgotten that immediately after the death of 
Mrs. Boyer at the Mansion House, when the house was deserted 
by everybody who could leave it and the city, fifteen young men, 
of whom the writer was one, organized themselves into a mutual 
insurance company and agreed that they would not leave their 
home, but would occupy the old ball-room in the third story of 
that old hotel and would watch over, aid and assist one another 
to guard against disease, and if necessary, would faithfully watch 
over and nurse and protect one another. Of all that number one 
only was ever taken ill or died, and it was the victim of his own 
folly — in drinking mint juleps and eating green cucumbers, as if 
determined to invite an attack from the disease. 


That Mutual Insurance organization, like the work of Father 
Kundig and his lady aids and assistants, soon banished all fear, 
panic and mental anxiety for ourselves, and demonstrates in the 
clearest and most absolute manner that whosoever cooly and 
courageously pursues the ordinary habits of his life and his daily 
business may bid defiance to cholera or yellow fever or any other 
epidemic, and outlive its dangers and its destruction. 

From about August 3, of that year, down to September 15, 
the cholera continued its ravages, and furnished a death list from 
day to day that was appalling, until at the final summing up of 
the figures the balance-sheet showed that about one-eighth of all 
our population had been carried- off to the cemetery. 

About the middle of September, 1834, it was announced that 
the cholera had abated entirely and that the theatre under Dean 
& McKinney in old Colonel McKinstry's building, would open. 
Our club went enmasse to listen to Dan Marble's humorous per- 
formance of *'Black-eyed Susan." That was a happy crowd, you 
may be sure, until on returning late at night the old sexton, Israel 
Noble, mounted on his horse and followed by half a dozen drays 
and carts, each one laden with dead bodies, warned us all to shut 
up the theatre and wait until a later day, when finally the cholera 
disappeared as suddenly and as strangely as it came. 



The Presbyterin church that stood on the corner of Wood- 
ward Avenue and Larned Street was sold to the Catholics and 
moved to the co'rner of Cadillac Square and Bates Street, where, 
in the cholera time it was occupied as a hospital under the charge 
of Father Kundig, as he says, John Canann, an Irish ditch digger, 
was employed to bring the sick to the hospital and to take away 
the dead for burial. He used a horse and cart for the purpose. 

On one occasion as he was taking bodies away in his cart 
for burial, he seized and undertook to carry out a man by the 
name of Rider, who was noticed to be alive. On being remon- 
strated with, John said that it made no difference, as he would be 
dead anyway before he got him to the cemetery. Rider was still 
living near St. Louis in i860. 

The hospital that Bates mentions as being improvised by 
Father Kundig, just behind the Russell House, was the place, as 
Mr. Bates says, where thirty-five died in one day. 


Such was the panic of the public that at one time there were 
supposed to be not over 1,500 people left in the city, those who 
were well not being sufficient to take care of the sick. 

During the epidemic of 1832, J. M. Howard, Lawyer Hard- 
ing, Thomas Palmer, A. P. Mormon, A. H. Stowell, Sidney L. 
Rood and lycvi Cook advertised that they would at all times be 
ready to take care of those who had cholera, and they at once 
had all they could do. The senate chamber in the old state cap- 
ital was also utilized and filled with the sick. 

Uncle Thomas Palmer lived at that time on Woodward 
Avenue at the corner of Jorn R. Street, where is now Schwan- 
kovsky's music store, and made it a point to visit the capitol 
building twice a day at least, going and returning from his place 
of business down town. I was there myself, often more out of 
curiosity than anything else, being too young to realize the grav- 
ity of the situation. 

My uncle's great remedy was brandy and, indeed, stimulants 
of all kinds, and he was quite successful, as I have heard him say, 
in saving the lives of many who came under his care. As said 
before, Drs. Rice and Whiting and other leading physicians pre- 
scribed the same, with the addition of calomel. Dr. Hurd was 
also quite successful in his treatment of the dread disease, though 
he failed to save the life of a favorite servant of his, a young girl 
from the River Rouge. She was about 20 years old and was 
stricken with cholera. She was a great favorite in the family, 
as she was of myself. The doctor and his good wife used every 
effort to save her, but, as I said, in vain. I happened to be pres- 
ent when she passed away, and, boy that I was, I shall never for- 
get that death-bed scene. I may say, in passing, that Dr. Hurd 
and Uncle Thomas Palmer worked in unison in treating the 
disease. The cholera visited this city twice after this, but I was 
not here either time. 



FRIDAY, November 10, 1820, the editor of the, Detroit 
Gazette says: 
"We delayed the publication of our paper until this evening, 
in the expectation that the steamboat would arrive with some 
late and important news, but we are disappointed. The mail 
arrived in due season last Wednesday, but brought nothing of 


The paper of the same date has this to say of the Pontiac 
Road, Saginaw Turnpike : 

"The six miles of this important road which Major S. Mack 
contracted to complete, and the progress of which our citizens 
have watched with so much interest, are now finished, and we 
are happy to say, in a manner highly to the reputation of the 
contractor and the satisfaction of the public. Considerable more 
than one-half of the road made by Mr. Mack is formed of very 
large logs laid closely together, across the road, on which are 
piled small timber, brush, clay and sand, making a dry, and at 
the same time a durable highway. 

"The principal objects encountered in making the road were 
the immense number of large and small trees with which the 
country immediately in the rear of this place abounds. 

"It is, we believe, admitted on all hands, that Major Mack 
has completed the most difficult part of the road between this 
place and Pontiac. Still considerable labor remains to be done, 
for the track beyond the Six Miles does not deserve the name of 
Road — we refer more particularly to the portion lying this side 


of the cranberry marsh and that near Mr. Woodford's and 
beyond Mr. Thirber's. 

**We will not insult the good sense of the inhabitants of 
this city and of Oakland County by saying that they do not seem, 
from the Httle that has been done on those parts of the . road 
alluded to, to understand how much of their true interest is 
involved in its speedy completion, but it will not be improper to 
say that the exertion already made to accomplish the object has 
not been proportioned to its palpable importance." 


Those that witnessed the large quantity of heavy logs 
unearthed by the contractors when preparing the bed for the 
asphalt pavement recently laid on Woodward Avenue (Pontiac 
Road) to the Six Mile Crossing and wondered how and why they 
were there, can now account for them, if they did not before. 
And in the above connection I give the late Mrs. John Palmer's 
experience over this turnpike a short time after its completion. 
She said : ■ 

"We had Mack and Conant's turnpike on the north (Wood- 
ward Avenue), then if was a new corduroy road extending from 
the Grand Circus north six miles. Mack and Conant built it for 
the general government, receiving $6,000 for it." 

Mrs. Palmer said further : ''You can get an idea of what its 
condition was then, when I tell you that Mrs. John P. Sheldon 
and myself, each with an infant in our arms, started to visit Mrs. 
Sheldon's father, who lived in Oakland County, 28 miles from 
Detroit. We made the six miles over Mack & Conant's turnpike 
and 22 miles along an Indian trail in just two days. Rather slow, 
wasn't it?" 

A. Edwards advertises a large stock of merchandise among 
which is 200 barrels of whiskey and only 50 barrels of pork, also 
boots and shoes of his own manufacture. 


De Garmo Jones wants a few thousand prime muskrat skins, 
for which he will pay the cash, at his warehouse foot of Shelby 

F. T. & J. Palmer, say "they have recently received a fresh 


supply of merchandise, and they are daily expecting to receive an 
extensive assortment, which together with what they now have 
on hand, will make their assortment as complete as can be found 
in the territory. Their former practice of not being undersold by 
their neighbors is rigidly adhered to." 


The board of trustees of the City of Detroit, through their 
secretary, Geo. McDougall, called a meeting of the citizens at the 
Council House on Monday, the eleventh of September, at 4 
o'clock p. M. to determine on the propriety of voting on a tax ta 
be appHed in the purchase of a fire engine for the use of the city.. 
This was for the purchase of the first fire engine. 

The Postmaster-General advertises August 31, 1820, for pro- 
posals for carrying the mails from Detroit by Pontiac to Mt.. 
Clemens once a week, 53 miles. 

October 27, 1820. John P. Sheldon of the Gazette, has a few 
barrels of good old Ontario Whisky for sale, also a few barrels of 


Governor Cass, it appears, in 18 19 was impressed with the 
importance of an expedition for exploring the extreme north- 
western regions of the Union — the great chain of lakes, and the 
sources of the Mississippi River, which were the continued sub- 
ject of dispute between geographical writers. He presented a 
memorial to the Secretary of War upon the subject in which he 
proposed leaving Detroit in the ensuing spring, in two or three 
Indian canoes, as being best adapted to the 'navigation of the shal- 
low waters of the upper country, and to the numerous portages 
which it would be necessary to make from stream to stream. 

The specific objects of this journey, as presented in the mem- 
orial of Governor Cass, were to obtain a more correct knowledge 
of the names, numbers, customs, history, condition, mode of sub- 
sistence and disposition of the Indian tribes — to survey the top- 
ography of the country, and collect the materials for an accurate 
map, to locate the site of a garrison at the foot of Lake Superior, 
and to purchase the ground, to investigate the subject of the 
northwestern copper mines, lead mines and gypsum quarries, and 
to purchase from the Indian tribes such tracts as might be neces- 


sary to secure to the United States the ultimate advantages to be 
derived from them. To accomplish these objects it was proposed 
to attach to the expedition a topographical engineer, a physician 
and a person familiar with mineralogy. 

The Secretary of War, Mr. Calhoun, not only approved of 
the proposed plan, but determined to enable the Governor to carry 
it into complete effect, by ordering an escort of soldiers and 
enjoining it upon the commandants of the frontier garrison, to 
furnish every aid that the exigencies of the party might require, 
either in men, boats or supplies. 

The expedition left Grosse Pointe (Lake St. Clair) in three 
canoes May 26, 1820, and consisted of the following persons : 

His excellency, Lewis Cass, Governor of the Michigan Ter- 

Alexander Wolcott, M. D., Indian agent at Chicago, phy- 
sician to the expedition. 

Captain David B. Douglass, civil and military engineer. 

Lieutenant Aeneas McKay, Third United States Artillery, 
commanding the soldiers. 

James D. Doty, Esq., secretary to the expedition. 

Major Robert A. Forsyth, private secretary to the governor. 

Mr. Charles T. Trowbridge, assistant topographer. 

Mr. Alexander R. Chase. 

Also ten Canadian voyageurs, seven United States soldiers, 
ten Indians of the Ottawa and Shawnee tribes, an interpreter and 
a guide, making thirty-eight persons all told. 

TREATY OF 1820. 

The treay at the Soo was signed by Governor Cass on part 
of the United States and by sixteen chiefs on the part of the 
Indians (Chippewa) on the i6th of June, 1820, and witnessed by 
Robert A. Forsyth, secretary; Alex Wolcott, Jr., Indian agent, 
Chicago; Captain D. B. Douglass, United States Engineer; 
Aeneas McKay,, lieutenant corps artillery ; John J. Pierce, lieuten- 
ant artillery; Henry R. Schoolcraft, mineralogist to the expedi- 
tion ; James Duane Doty, Charles C. Trowbridge, Alex R. Chase, 
James Ryley, sworn interpreter. 

This is the treaty referred to by "a correspondent" in the 
issue of February 2, 1821. 


WOODWARD avijnue: as a corduroy road. 291 

From May 26. to nth, 1821, there were thirteen arrivals of 
schooners from lower lake ports, with emigrants and merchandise. 

organizing ST. CIvAIR COUNTY. 

Governor Cass in his proclamation May 8, 182 1, says: 

"And I do 'further declare that the seat of justice to be tem- 
porarily located at the town of St. Clair, and as soon as the build- 
ing, contracted to be built by the proprietor of said town, for court 
house and jail is completed, then the county seat, shall be perma- 
nently located in St. Clair. 

This proclamation did not ''hold water," or did not stick. 
The building for county purposes mentioned, was completed in 
due time at a cost of over $6,000, by the proprietor of said town. 
Thomas Palmer, and the county seat located at St. Clair, perma- 
nently (as was supposed). It continued there peaceably and 
quietly until the death of Mr. Palmer, when it was removed to 
Port Huron. 

The subject of its removal was slightly agitated before Mr. 
Palmer's decease, but I have heard him say the people of the 
county dare not remove the county seat while he was on earth. 
Why he said so, I don't know, but any way the thing was not con- 
sumated until after his death. 

de:troit e:i.ection. 

At an election on the 7th of May, 1821, for trustees and 
officers of the city corporation, the following gentlemen were 
chosen trustees: Joseph Campau, A. G. Whitney, Shubael Con- 
ant, Levi Cook, Jacob Ellert ; secretary, Jeremiah V. R. Ten Eyck ; 
assessor and supervisor, D. C. McKinstry ; marshal and collector, 
Robert Garratt. 

The issue of the Gazette, Friday, May 18, 1821, contains a 
notice of a meeting of the citizens of Detroit, to meet at the coun- 
cil house on the coming Monday (21st), at 4 o'clock in the after- 
noon, to take into consideration the propriety of exhibiting a 
mark of public attention to Major-General Macomb, on the occa- 
sion of his expected departure from this territory. 

A subsequent issue has this to say in regard to Major-Gen- 
eral Macomb: 

"The citizens of Detroit and its vicinity have at a public meet- 
ing resolved to present to General Macomb a silver tankard, with 


appropriate engravings ; the tankard will be made in this place by 
Mr. Rouquet. It was also resolved to present the general an 
address, expressive of the high respect and sincere friendship 
which his fellow citizens entertain for him. The address and 
tankard will be presented on Monday next (the 21st). The pro- 
ceedings of the meeting above alluded to, and the address will 
appear in subsequent issue. 

"It is expected that the general and his family will depart for 
Washington on Wednesday or Thursday next." 


At the meeting of the ckizens of Detroit convened at the 
council house on Monday, May 21, 1821, in pursuance of the 
notice published in the Detroit Gazette, Governor Cass was called 
to the chair and Geo. 'McDougall was elected secretary. At this 
meeting it was resolved to appoint a committee of five persons to 
prepare an address to the general, and it was also resolved that a 
piece of plate be procured and presented to the same, by the citi- 
zens of Detroit, with an appropriate inscription thereon. The 
committees were to report their proceedings to this meeting on 
Saturday next (the 26th). The committee on address consisted 
of A. B. Woodward, William Woodbridge, Solomon Sibley, 
Henry I. Hunt, and Austin E. Wing. • 

The committee on procuring the piece of plate consisted of 
James McCloskey, A. G. Whitney and Thomas Rowland. 

The citizens again met on May 26, pursuant to adjournment, 
Governor Cass in the chair and Geo. McDougall secretary. 

Judge Woodward, on behalf of the committee, reported the 
address, which was adopted and a committee was appointed to 
present the same to Major-General Macomb on the coming Mon- 
day. The above committee consisted of A. B. Woodward, William 
Woodbridge, Solomon Sibley, Henry I. Hunt, Austin E. Wing, 
James McCloskey, Andrew G. Whitney and Thomas Rowland, 
with the chairman and secretary. 

Monday, the 4th day of June, the citizens of Detroit met 
agreeably to adjournment. 

Colonel McCloskey, from the committee appointed for the 
purpose, reported the following inscription for the piece of plate 
to be presented to the general : 


(Arms of the Territory.) 









June 4, A. D., 1821. 

The inscription was unanimously adopted, whereupon the 
citizens proceeded to the house of Gen. Macomb, presented to 
him the piece of plate and delivered the address. 

The general responded to the address in feeling terms, and 
accepted the plate which the citizens were pleased to offer, with 
(he said) the utmost pleasure. 



GEORGE McDOUGALL, who acted as secretary at the 
General Macomb demonstratioji, referred to last week, 
was a lawyer of great ability and distinction in Detroit in 
the.early days. The late Geo. C. Bates, in an article written 
in 1877 in relation to Ben. Woodworth's Steamboat Hotel and to 
a dinner to the bar given there, refers to Mr. Geo. McDougall, 
one of its members present, and says: ''When Lawyer Clcland, 
who was toastmaster, gave his last toast, it was always to old Geo. 
McDougall, a legal Falstaff, redivivus, the quandom father of the 
bar, then lighthouse keeper at Fort Gratiot, and which was drunk 
standing, somewhat in these words : 'Brethren of the bar, we 
drinlc now to the Nestor of our bar, George McDougall, who in 
early life shed the light and brilliancy of his genius over our pro- 
fession in beautiful Michigan, but who now, in his old age, illum- 
inates the dark waters of Lake Huron with his lantern, and so 
guides the tempest- tossed mariner safely through storms and dan- 
gers of the lake down to the silvery stream of St. Clair.' " 

I was living at Palmer (now St. Clair) when Lawyer 
McDougall was keeping the Fort Gratiot light. He used often 
to visit Palmer and always put up at Tomlinson's St. Clair 
Exchange Hotel. Landlord Tomlinson kept a model hotel, much 
better indeed than Black River (Port Huron) could boast of. 
The civil engineer and the army of others connected with the St. 
Clair & Romeo Railroad, then under construction, as also the 
judges and lawyers having business at the county seat, called for 
most everything desirable in the way of eatables and drinkables, 
particularly the latter. Now McDougall used to enjoy his "otium 
cum dig" at this hostelry, things were so different from his cooped 
up lighthouse quarters and indifferent fare. He was always 
accompanied by a colored youth, who was his valet, and seated 
comfortably in the bar-room of the hotel, his gouty foot resting 

coivOne:l m dougai,!, was a rare: oi.d souiv. 295 

easily on a cushioned chair, with his brandy toddy at his elbow, 
and his valet combing, oiling and brushing out his voluminous 
wig (for he was as bald as a billiard ball), and cracking his jokes 
and making witty comments on the passing show, he was a pleas- 
ure to behold. 

In after years, when I had become familiar with Dickens, and 
with the transactions of the Pickwick 'Club, the picture of the 
baldhead and rotund body of Mr. Pickwick always put me in mind 
of Mr. McDougall. 

Another character always suggested the colonel, and that was 
Shakespeare's Falstaff as Hackett was wont to render it. 

McDougall Avenue is named after his brother, whose daugh- 
ter married Barnabas (Labie) Campau, the father of Alex M. 
Campau, who is with us still, enjoying a hale, hearty old age, and 
far beyond the reach of want. 

HIS service: was decuned. ' 

Further about the colonel, it is said, that during the war of 
1812 he marched with twelve mounted volunteers to join General 
McArthurj who was then in Canada, but the general sent him 
back, as it took too many men to help him on and off his horse. 
He was very patriotic, but fat and gouty. The old colonel, it was 
said, was a bundle^of eccentricities. His habit of ridiculous exa"g- 
geration, his pounds of flesh, and his fondness for "sack" 
reminded one of Shakespeare's fat knight. 

The colonel died at his post, his lantern of life flickering out, 
many, many years ago. 

It was also said he made many laughable attempts at suicide, 
and for what reason no one seemed to know. 

In the Detroit Gazette of June 8, 182 1, Mr. T. Young says 
he has opened an English school ori Woodbridge Street, and will 
teach the English language, penmanship, arithmetic, geography, 
etc., at the moderate price (just think of it !) of $2.50 per quarter. 

In the same issue J. E. and. J. G. Schwarz make their first 
bow to the public, and inform them that they will pay the highest 
market price for furs and peltries, and that they have likewise 
at their store and for sale domestic cotton goods, cloths, blankets, 
calicos, etc. 

John E. Schwarz (Gen. Schwarz) was in after years and 
until his death, adjutant and quartermaster-general of the state. 

296 e:ari.y days in Detroit. 

He was also at one time landlord of the old Mansion House, a 
most estimable gentleman and good citizen. 

In the issue of Friday, June 18, 1821, the editor says in 
regard to gas lights : 

"By the Louisville (Ky.) Public Advertiser^ we perceive that 
some of the inhabitants of that place have begun to use gas 
lights." • 

On the score of expense the editor says : "We are convinced 
that the expense of lighting up a room in which twelve or twenty 
lights would be requisite, is not one-fourth the amount that would 
be required by the use of tallow candles." 

In the issue of June 22, 182 1, is a notice that I consider quite 
interesting and therefore copy it. 


"According to ancient custom, the solemn procession in com- 
memoration of the institution of the blessed sacrament, commonly 
called the Lord's Supper, will take place on Sunday next, at 5 
o'clock p. M., within the enclosure of the Church of St. Anne. A 
short address, explanatory of the ceremony, will be delivered at 
half past 4. Christians of all denominations disposed to witness 
the procession are welcome. It is expected, however, that they 
will conform to all the rules observed by the Catholics — by stand- 
ing, walking and kneeling. The military on duty, only, may 
remain covered. It is enjoined on all persons to preserve pro- 
found silence during the whole time of the cermony. N. B. — A 
collection will be made, the proceeds of which will be employed in 
completing the steeples of Church of St. Anne, and covermg them 
with tin." 

In later years I myself have witnessed these same proces- 
sions within the enclosure of the Church of St. Anne on Larned 
Street, and the same were conducted by Father Richard. They 
were to me, always, most impressive. 

In the issue of July 6, 1821, the editor says that "Major A. 
Edwards, of this city, has completed an excellent team grist mill 
with two run of stones. It will, we learn, require four oxen to 
work it, yet it is believed, notwithstanding the expense attending 
a mill of this kind, that sufficient business will be done by it to 
award the enterprising proprietor; for there is not a grist mill 
in any direction nearer to this place than Pontiac, which is worthy 


of notice; and our windmills, of which there are a considerable 
number, never produce good flour. From the inconvenience 
which the inhabitants of Detroit and the adjacent country have 
suffered for the want of good grist mills, which will now in a 
great measure be removed, we must place that of Major Edwards's 
among the most useful establishments in the territory." 

I have often been in this mill and witnessed its operations and 
the ceaseless tread of the oxen propelling it always interested me. 
When I saw it, it was run by Julius Eldred (French & Eldred) 
as a woolen mill. It was situated near the foot of Randolph 
Street, between it and the railroad depot. I saw it burn one night 
in 1835. 

The editor says, in the issue of Friday, June 22, 1821, in 
regard to drains, etc. : 

"For several days past we have heard frequent complaints of 
the intolerable stench arising from gutters or drains of cellars, 
etc., which are suffered to run into the streets, and form in many 
places such masses of putridity as cannot fail, in this warm 
weather, of producing disease. Every one who frequents Wood- 
bridge Street and some others near the river is annoyed by the 
execrable odors arising from these gutters, few or none of which 
are carried further than that street, where they form green, stag- 
nant pools, equally offensive to the sight and the smell. Is it not 
necessary, in order to preserve the health of the town, that a main 
gutter should be. made through Woodbridge Street, say from 
Woodworth's to the public wharf? Two or three channels from 
this main one would carry the offensive matter into the river, and 
render the air in that part of the town pure and wholesome." 

This public wharf was at the foot of Woodward Avenue. 


In the Gazette May 11, 1821, see how the editor lambasts 
the farmers of the territory : 

"There are not three families that manufacture their wearing 
apparel — and it is believed there are not five looms in the territory. 
There is not a carding machine or fulling mill within, perhaps, a 
100 miles of Detroit. There is not a farmer in the territory that 
ever had sufficient enterprise to cultivate any article for exporta- 
tion, although we have thousands of acres of the best hemp land 
in the world. On Tuesday last a small vessel from Ohio was lying 


e;arIvY days in de:troit. 

at Roby's wharf, laden with potatoes, for which five shiUings a 
bushel was received for several hundred bushels. This can justly 
be attributed to the indolence and improvidence of our farmers. 
Since navigation opened this spring there have been upwards of 
fifteen arrivals of vessels in the port of Detroit, laden with pro- 
duce to feed the farmers and other inhabitants of this territory." 

TO, BUY fire: engine;. 

In the issue of April 6, 182 1, is a notice of a public meeting of 
the citizens of Detroit at the council house on the 9th inst. at 3 
o'clock p. M. to determine on the propriety of voting a tax to be 
applied to the purchase of a fire engine for the use of said city. 

It is presumed the meeting was held accordingly and the tax 
voted, though I do not discover any notice of it, as when I came 
here the city owned a fine new fire engine. Protection No. i . 

The tax was voted, it 'appears, and paid and the engine 
ordered. It arrived here on the 26th of December, 1825, on the 
schooner Superior. It was made by Jacob Smith, Jr., of New 
York. Another fire engine was also in commission when I came 
(No. 2). I think the city acquired it some time in April, 1827. 




IN the issue of the old Detroit Gazette of December 7, 1821, the 
editor has this to say in regard to a book, then recently pub- 
lished, entitled, "The Life of John N. Maffit :" 

"A book has been recently published in some of the states of 
the Union, entitled 'Tears of Contrition, or Sketches of the Life 
of John M. Maffit,' (by some editors called the 'Second White- 
field') in which the author gives incidents of his life in a very 
peculiar style. Mr. Maffit, who has been often mentioned in news- 
papers as a very eloquent and powerful preacher, was from Ire- 
land, and landed with his brother in New York in April, 1819, 
where he experienced many difficulties, which led him to indulge 
in gloomy reflections, etc. While in the city, his brother visited a 
camp meeting in Hebron (Conn.) and on his return told him to 
be of good courage — that there was an opportunity of his doing 
well as a preacher in Connecticut, to which state he advised, him to 
go. Instead of adopting the ordinary phraseology which one 
brother would use in giving advice to another, Mr. Maffit says 
he was addressed by his brother, on his return from Hebron, in 
the following strains : 

" 'Up go and possess thy Eden. Thou hast crossed the Red 
sea and traversed the desert, behold the little stream of Jordan 
rolls between. Fear not to launch away — pluck up fresh courage 
— gird up thy loins — ^address thyself to Satan's Conqueror — view 
your eastern shores — go proclaim a Saviour's name and let the 
starry pennant of the Manger's God wave through Connecticut's 
farthest bounds.' 

"We cannot resist the wish to give a farther specimen of this 
celebrated preacher's style of writing; and therefore extract the 
paragraph immediately subsequent to the one above, in which, we 
think, h^ would be understood as having considered his brother's 
advice feasible, and that he adopted it as soon as possible. 


" 'Quick as the rapid stream which rushes o'er some deep 
mouthed, rocky bed, I started from my couch, and drawing the 
gHttering falchion from my bosom, that had slept ingloriously at 
ease, and flying to the arms of hope, she clasped me to her peace- 
ful bosom, and spreading forth her broad and downy pinions, cut 
the air till within the peaceful woods of Thompson, I beheld the 
crowded tents of Israel's camp, and mingling with the happy 
throng, from the bending willows snatched my lone and silent 
harp, and touched the first strains which burst from a grateful 
heart/ " 

The editor goes on to say : *0\ little indulgence in style like 
Mr. Maffit's may be allowed when writing about 'Tears of Contri- 
tion,' but in giving 'Sketches of Life,' it is presumed that most 
readers of judgment would prefer a mode of telling a story, in 
which plain matter of fact were not so liable to distortion and 
misrepresentation, as they certainly are by the figurative and flow- 
ing manners of Mr. Maffit." 


Many of the present day will no doubt remember well the 
above mentioned Methodist, distinguished in his day as a revival- 
ist preached. He held forth here during the summer of 1848 
or '49, for about six weeks, in the Methodist church that stood 
where the new county building now is. He created quite an 
excitement, crowds flocked to hear him, and a large number were 
plucked "like brands from the burning" through his ministrations. 
He was a natty, neat little gentleman, always faultlessly dressed, 
and apparently on intimate terms with the fairer portion of his 
congregation. He had quite a number of young society buds, of 
that day, "on a string," so to speak, and they ignored in many 
instances the escort of the worldly boys of their set from these 
meetings to their homes. 

I remember particularly there were three or four upper Jef- 
ferson Avenue young girls that gave their boy friends and 
admirers the cold shoulder, prefering instead the escort of Judge 
Ross Wilkins. The judge, a devout Methodist, was a close 
attendant of these meetings, and always occupied the "amen cor- 
ner," and therefore the proper thing. 

I attended these meetings very often, was much taken with 
Maffit's style of oratory, as also the way he worked his congrega- 

REy. JOHN N. M affix's WORK IN DETROIT. 30 1 

tion. During prayer time, which took up most of the evening, 
when nearly all heads were bowed, he would walk up and down 
the aisles, and if his eye lit on a comely fair one, occupying the 
first seat in a pew, he would kneel down in the aisle close by, and 
earnestly plead with her to go forward to the anxious seat. I 
have seen him do it often. One instance in particular; There 
was Mrs. Perry, a very pretty woman, the wife of a boss carpenter 
here, who had attended these meetings regularly, but had not been 
induced to go forward to be prayed for. I was there one evening 
and so was Mrs. Perry. I had a seat in the gallery where I could 
see things, Mrs. Perry had one in the body of the church close to 
the aisle. It was during prayer, the reverend gentleman was 
walking up and down the aisle as usual, when he spied Mrs. Perry 
whose head was down, and whose fair plump hand, ungloved, 
was resting invitingly on the top of the pew. 

What did he do but kneel down in the aisle at that pew door 
and quietly lay his hand over that of Mrs. Perry. She looked up, 
of course, and after a few, it is presumed, persuasive words, he 
brought her up "into camp," so to speak. 


Myself and the Rev. Mr. Maffit were quite friendly, and it 
arose from the fact that he had a son, then a midshipman in the 
navy, of whom he was quite proud. On leave here at that time 
was Midshipman George King, a brother of the late J. L. and J. 
E. King, a very promising young officer. King and I used to now 
and then attend these meetings. The first evening that King 
accompanied me, when we got to the church, the congregation 
were engaged in prayer. We halted in the vestibule and saw 
Brother Maffit pacing up and down the aisle as usual. King being 
in uniform instantly attracted his attention. He threw whatever 
he had on his mind to the winds, apparently. Rushing down the 
aisle -he grasped King by both hands, apologizing for the sudden 
action by saying: "My dear boy, you must excuse me for this 
demonstrative greeting, but I have a son in the navy, a midship- 
man, and the sight of the uniform is always a forcible reminder 
of my dear boy, perhaps you know him, sir?" King said he knew 
him well. I think they had served on the same ship together, 
whereupon Mr. M. invited us to take seats in the gallery, which 
we did. On all our subsequent visits he was equally cordial. 

302 i:arly days in de:troit. 

Much to our surprise he did not once broach the subject of reU- 
gion, the one thing that was apparently nearest his heart. He 
thought we were good enough already, and no room for improve- 
ment, I presume. It was said he did a great amount of good here. 


Like the country papers of the present day, the patrons of 
which are proverbially tardy in paying up, was the Detroit Gazette 
in 1822, The Detroit Gazete^ like many of the country journals 
of the present day, had hard sledding to get along and keep its 
head above water. In its issue of June 13, 1821, it makes an 
appeal to its patrons. As it is quite lengthy, I quote only a por- 
tion of it : 

"To Our Patrons: 

*'In this number of our paper, which closes the fourth year of 
our labors as printers and editors in the territory, we are induced 
from the appositeness of the time, and, more particularly, from 
urgent necessity, to call upon all our patrons, real and nominal, to 
discharge the demands we may have against them." 

After a long detail of its situation financially, and an urgent 
appeal to the citizens to aid and foster emigration to the terri- 
tory, he goes on to say : 

"We beg leave before concluding this article, to revert once 
more to our own concerns. Our neighbors have frequently said to 
us, when presented with a bill, *You must be making money — you 
have a terrible price for your paper and a good many advertise- 
ments, and you must be getting rich. Now, in relation to the 
value of our little Gazette to us, we will only repeat what we did 
some time ago, when under the necessity of dunning : If we cal- 
x:ulate the annual value of the labor, the materials consumed and 
other necessary expenses in printing our Gazette, and deduct from 
the amount our annual receipts, both on account of subscriptions 
and advertisements, our loss will be found to amount to more than 
$500. This can be easily accounted for. The French population 
have very little inclination to know the contents of newspapers, 
because they have never been taught their value, and only eight or 
ten of the most intelligent are subscribers for our paper, and so 
far from receiving from our subscription enough to pay for the 


value of the labor alone required to print the Gazette, we do not 
hesitate to say that were our subscribers increased fourfold, we 
should not receive more than enough to pay the necessary expenses 
of the establishment. We have but two subscribers in the county 
of St. Clair, four in Macomb, one in Oakland, two at Mackinac, 
fourteen in Monroe, and about one hundred in Wayne, and many 
of them, perhaps, are unable to pay their subscription. 

As to subscribers who receive our papers by mail, they may 
be considered as a loss, for from a few to whom we send them 
we have never received enough to pay for the labor and expense 
of enclosing them. In fine, we have been enabled to keep up our 
establishment from our receipts on account of contingent support, 
and as we have before said, from the generous forbearance of a 
great portion of our creditors. We assure our patrons, however, 
that such are our expectations of future support from a continued 
increase of enlightened population, that we shall, with God's bless- 
ing, still continue our exertions and do all we can in our vocations, 
to benefit the country. , 

''Farmers who wish to become subscribers and who are pre- 
vented on account of the scarcity of money, are again informed 
that all kinds of grain, butter and cheese will be received in pay- 
ment for them." 

The editor's remarks in regard to the lack of interest, taken 
in his paper on the part of some of the French residents here, at 
that time, is too true, sorry to say. I was well acquainted with 
one of our French residents, rich and quite intelligent, who down 
to about 1850, at least, did not take a newspaper, but would, every 
morning, send over to a Yankee neighbor of his to borrow his 
Free Press. I have been in the latter's residence often when the 
request for the paper came. Nor did he take water from the city, 
but for a long time had it hauled in barrels from the river, in the 
old way. Nor did he take gas from the gas company for quite a 
while after they had it introduced. Now this French gentleman, 
though many, many times richer than his neighbor, was not 
penurious iji hardly any sense, his purse was always open to calls 
of charity, and a free giver to many laudable -enterprises. Why 
this backwardness on his part in coming forward to the support 
of the press, gas and water I never could fathom. 




IN the old Detroit Gazette of Friday, May 31, 1822, is this 
notice : 

''Judge Clemens, one of the proprietors of Mt. Clemens, has 
recently established a Stage, to leave this City Weekly, after the 
arrival of the Steam Boat, and arrive at the Seat of Justice of 
Macomb Co. on the same day. Seats may be taken at the very 
low price of One Dollar, by Applying to Colonel Richard Smyth, 
the Agent at Detroit. Extra accommodations will be furnished 
to strangers who may wish to visit Pontiac, St. Clair or the other 
new villages in the country. This is the first public Stage ever 
established in Michigan." 

The late Judge B. F. H. Witherell, in 1855, writing about 
Colonel Christian Clemens and Mt. Clemens, has this to say : 

"Emigrants to the territory (Michigan) after the war of 
18 12 had passed by, will remember the colonel's generous, bound- 
less hospitality to those seeking a new home in the wilderness. 
The only passable road for carriages for years to the country 
about Piety Hill, Pontiac and north of them, was by the shore of 
Lake St. Clair to Mt. Clemens, and thence up the Clinton, making 
a journey of some sixty or seventy miles to get eighteen or 
twenty; it then occupied from four to six days, and is now per- 
formed in one hour by railroad. 

The allusion to Mt. Clemens in the Gazette suggests the fol- 
lowing extracts from some articles I wrote last summer for the 
Mt, Clemens Monitor, in regard to the early days of the "Bath 
City," and to the country between here and there and through 
which the rapid transit electric runs. Note the difference between 
then and now. It is almost a part of Detroit. 



My Stepfather, George Kellogg, settled in Mt. Clemens, on a 
farm that he purchased on the Clinton River, a short distance 
below the village, and opposite the Connor farm. This was 
about 1835. He built an ideal log house, i. e., the logs were 
square, and the chinking filled in with plaster instead of mud, and 
nicely furnished inside. The chimney and fireplace were built 
of brick ; the latter was of ample size, sufficient to take in nearly 
one-half a cord of wood; an immense crane swung in it from 
which depended the pots and kettles needed in the culinary 

Cooking stoves were a great rarity in those days. The near- 
est approach to one was the tin open oven that was placed on the 
hearth before the glowing fire, containing fish, flesh or fowl, 
as the case might be, fitting it for the family consumption, and 
splendidly if did its duty, I can testify. And often turkeys and 
geese, in cooking were suspended by a cord from the ceiling, and 
slowly turned by a willing hand, the drippings from the bird 
being caught in a tin dish, directly under it, and returned back 
over it by the attendant with a pewter or wooden spoon, they used 
to call it "basting." Cannot some of you remember with delight 
this process of cooking or roasting a turkey, and how appetizing 
the bird was? And the short cake and biscuit of those early 
pioneer days baked in the iron spider, the latter containing the 
white dough turned up to the glowing fire. I say "white dough" 
because it was not always in evidence in the settlers' houses of 
those days. Wheat flour was considered almost a luxury, rye 
and Indian corn predominated all through that section and St. 
Clair County as well, and mighty good bread rye and Indian 
meal, mixed, made, as I can testify. I include St. Clair County 
because I had personal experience in that locality. 

When a lad on my uncle's (George Palmer) farm on the 
St. Clair River, where the Oakland Hotel now is, I spent quite a 
portion of my early days on this farm, and must say that the 
surroundings on this farm were not near as pleasant as those on 
my stepfather's farm on the Clinton River. The log house was 
much more primitive, logs not square, the chinking done with 
mud, no such ample fireplace, and my quarters under .the roof 
were reached by a ladder instead of stairs. 

Referring to the trip to Mt. Clemens on my mother's wed- 


ding day ; it was a beautiful day in June. I remember that much, 
and some little more in regard to the event and the trip. Mr. 
Kellogg during the time he was courting my mother was a guest 
of Uncle Ben Woodworth (Woodworth's Hotel), and when the 
interesting event occurred he had no difficulty in persuading his 
host to place at his disposal his private carriage, with *'Jabe," his 
coachman, as Jehu. This carriage was quite a pretentious affair, 
and about the only covered one in the territory at that time. We 
journeyed to Mt. Clemens in fine style via the Gratiot turnpike 
and arrived at Mr. Connor's residence along late in the afternoon. 
*'Jabe" and the coach returned the next day. 

There was very little settlement along the turnpike between 
here and Mt. Clemens, after you left the confines of the city. 
There was a tavern at Connor's Creek, five miles out, and another 
ten miles out, called the Half Way House. Aside from these two 
houses I think there were but five or six others the entire dis- 
tance. I know there was- but one between the Half 'Way House 
and Mt. Clemens, and that was five miles this side of the latter 

To this house from the Half Way tavern the pike ran through 
an unbroken forest. On this piece of road the people had allowed 
the brush to encroach to the extent that there was insufficient 
space left for the passage of vehicles, and when it came to turn- 
out, as did happen now and then, it was a rather difficult matter. 

I am reminded of another trip through these same woods 
nearly ten years later on and they had changed but very little in 
that time. A young lady relative of mine desired to attend the 
funeral of a mutual friend in Mt. Clemens, a daughter of Colonel 
Stockton, and requested me to drive her up there in a buggy. I 
undertook the business, and we started about nine o'clock. Fine 
day and all that, road in good condition, but the horse was poor, 
not much of a goer, and we did not reach the Half Way House 
until long in the afternoon. We tarried long enough to refresh 
the horse and ourselves, and started on our journey. We had not 
gone far before the shades of evening began to fall and soon it 
got as dark as a ''stack of black cats;" could not see your hand 
before you ; had to let the horse take his own course, which he did. 

Reader, were you ever out in the woods on a dark night, and 
the custodian of a young lady and a horse and buggy? If 'you 
ever have been you will know just about how I felt. I did think 
at one time that I was just a little bit scared and ask^d my 

we;nt to pontiac by way of mt. ci.e:me;ns. 307 

lady cousin what she thought of the situation. She was plucky 
and said she did not care if I didn't, and to let the horse take his 

own sweet will as he was doing. So I did not worry. 



The silence was most profound, broken only by the rattle of 
the buggy and harness, as the horse felt his way. We had pro- 
ceeded a mile or so thusly, when all at once from the side of the 
road, apparently in the dense forest and from out the inky dark- 
ness, came the sounding rattle of a snare drum. Goodness, gra- 
cious ! how it startled us, the horse swerved into the bushes on the 
side of the track, but thanks to his docility he stopped there. 

After getting the horse on the right track again and finding 
my cousin was all right, I sung out to some one to find what all 
this disturbance was, and the cause. A voice in German-Enghsh 
said that the owner of it and the drum had been a short distance 
up and off the road to a friend's house where a rehearsal of a 
brass band they were forming had been going on, and hoped his 
sudden serenade had not rattled us and the horse. I told him I 
thought it a queer time and place to raise such an alarm without 
notice. Well, we reached Mt. Clemens in due course without 
further mishap. I have often been to Mt. Clemens before and 
since by this route, but never encountered a like experience or 
had such a scare. 


My first visit to this interesting village was in 1834, on the 
occasion of the marriage of one of the daughters of Judge Clem- 
ens to Sidney D. Hawkins, of Detroit, who was a prominent 
merchant and auctioneer. Mr. Hawkins was a relative of Mrs. 
Thomas Palmer, and as the latter's family and that of the judge 
were closely allied, socially, it became a sort of family affair and 
all our house attended and were the guests of the judge over 
night, getting home next day. The senator, (T. W. P.) was on 
hand with the rest, then a chubby four-year old. We had also 
on this occasion for our conveyance Uncle Ben Woodworth's 
coach and coachman "Jabe." The wedding was a fine affair and 
participated in by the then elite of Macomb County. The knot 
was tied by Elder Colclazer, the handsome presiding elder of the 
Methodist church, who it was thought was at one time a suitor for 
the fair bride's hand. Miss Caroline Whistler, a niece of Mrs. 


Judge James Abbott, was the bridesmaid and Mr. John V. R. 
Scott, a young society man of Detroit, and partner of Mr. Haw- 
kins, was the »best man. I may be pardoned for dwelling a little 
on this happy event, as all the participants were of the first prom- 
inence, socially and otherwise. After a brief and happy married 
life passed in Detroit, Mr. Hawkins died, and his widow returned 
to Mt. Clemens, to live with the judge, her father. After a fitting 
season had elapsed she married Mr. E. C. Gallup, of Mt. Clemens. 
Both passed the rest of their days there, and all old settlers will 
remember them both with pleasurable emotions, I am sure. 

Mt. Clemens wears a different aspect now from what it did 
then. It was at best only a straggling village, with the business, 
etc., centering around the square in which was the old wooden 
court house, jail, and meeting house as well, patterned after the 
St. Clair county court house, or the latter was patterned after the 
former, I don't know which. They were identical in structure, as 
I can testify, having been in both of them many times, and quite 
a different affair from the present fine brick building. 



The passenger to and from Mt. Clemens at the present day, 
comfortably seated in the luxurious electric cars, can hardly 
realize, in passing over the road, the different aspect the same 
route presented in the '30's and '40's Then it was almost a dense 
wilderness, relieved now and then by a settler's log dwelling ; now 
it is a continuous settlement the entire route of prosperous farm- 
ers, with their commodious dwellings, in lieu of the rude log cabin. 
I have had it forcibly brought to mind when passing over this 
electric road what a wonderful change has taken place on this 
route from that period to this. 

I have 4;ned often to locate the site of the old Half Way 
House, that was in the early days such a desirable point to reach, 
a haven of rest, as it were, particularly if one was journeying from 
Mt. Clemens to Detroit. The woods were so dense, the settlers so 
far between, and the way seemed so long to the tavern, it used to 
seem as though it never could be reached. 

The sign, a large swinging one, painted white, hung away out 
over the road, a prominent reminder that when you reached it you 
would be ten miles nearer your destination, one-half way home, 
and sure of ample refreshment for yourself and horse, if you were 

we;nt to pontiac by way of mt. clemens. 309 

not on foot. That delusive white sign, how often have I when 
journeying from Mt. Clemens to Detroit eagerly watched for the 
first sight of it, and when it did loom into view white over the 
road, five or six miles in the distance, it seemed, as said before, as 
though it never could be reached, like the mirage on the plains, "so 
near and yet so far." It was awfully tantalizing. There are very 
few living I imagine that have had the same experience on this 
route, and to those the incidents I relate I am sure they will readily 
testify to. 

In the Gazette of July is a notice of the arrival, in the steam- 
boat Walk-in-the- Water, of Rev. Eleazer Williams, missionary to 
the Oneida Indians, with a deputation from the Six Nations, who 
were on their way to visit their brethren in the vicinity of Green 
Bay. The object of those who composed the mission (under the 
auspices of the general government) , was not only to endeavor to 
plant the gospel among the western Indians, but treat with them 
for a tract of their territory, with a view to locate themselves and 
such of their brethren as might be disposed to remove to that 

This Rev. Eleazer Williams, many will remember, became 
quite conspicuous at one time, later on, as an aspirant to the throne 
of France. He claimed that he was the son of Eouis XVI. and 
Marie Antoinette. The Prince de Joinville, about 1838 or '39, vis- 
ited Green Bay for the express purpose of seeing this WilliamSj to 
ascertain for himself what grounds there were for this assumption. 
On an interview with him the prince was convinced that his claims 
were groundless. 

The Gazette says Austin E. Wing was sheriff of Wayne 
County in 1821, J. V. R. Ten Eyck was secretary of the board of 
trustees of the city, and Thomas Rowland was clerk of the Wayne 
County Court. 

There were seventeen arrivals (schooners) at the port of- 
Detroit from ist to the loth of May, 1822. 



THE old Detroit Gazette of November 23, 182 1, says: 
"By the act of this territory for the punishment of idle 
and disorderly persons, it is provided that any justice of 
the peace, on conviction may sentence any idle vagrant, lewd, 
drunken or disorderly persons to be whipped not exceeding ten 
stripes, or to be delivered over to any constable to be employed in 
labor not exceeding three months, by such constable to be hired 
out for the best wages that can be procured, the proceeds of 
which to be applied to the use of poor of the county. 

"Under this act sometime last summer the services of a 
drunken vagabond were offered for sale in the market house, and 
some wags on board the steamboat Walk-in-the-Water, then in 
this port, persuaded one of the hands, a black, to attend the sale 
and buy the man. The black actually purchased the vagrant's 
services for ten days, for which, we think, he paid $1. 

"From this circumstance, a writer in the Ontario (N. Y.) 
Respository has made up a pretty good story, which, however, 
would have passed without observation from us had not the story 
been in a measure calculated to mislead those unacquainted with 
the provisions of the law alluded to. By the story one would 
think that the vagrant or drunkard, when sold, becomes the slave 
for life, but the law provides that his services cannot be disposed 
of to exceed three months. It remains to state, that the citizens 
of Detroit and the adjoining counties have derived many benefits 
from the operation of the law, and feel no desire to part with it. 
It has had the effect of sending from the territory very many 
drunkards and vagabonds that thronged into it from Canada, 
Ohio and the state of New York." 

This practice of selling or disposing of a vagrant's time was 
continued until way along into 1830. I have witnessed a number 


of instances where the Hke occurred in front of the old market on 
Woodward Avenue, and on King's Court. I remember seeing 
the whipping post, that was close by the market, but I never saw 
anyone whipped there, nor do I think any unfortunate underwent 
that ordeal after 1826. 

- Imagine it must have been tough from the fact that the 
sheriff at that period, whose duty it was to administer this pun- 
ishment, was a tall and powerful man, who no doubt got in his 
work to his own satisfaction, if not to that of the culprit. Some, 
no doubt, will call 'to mind this officer of the law. His name was 
''Swan," and he was brother-in-law of Thos. C. Sheldon. 


In the year of November 30, 1821, F. T. & J. Palmer say: 
"They have just received a new stock of goods, which they are 
opening, at their new brick store, on the corner of Jefferson 
Avenue and Griswold Street, and a short distance from their old 
stand." They fill nearly a column in the paper enumerating the 
various kinds of goods they have for sale. ^ 

John Hale, in the same issue, makes his first bow to the pub- 
lic, and says he is receiving and has for sale at the store formerly 
occupied by F. T. & J. Palmer, a general assortment of goods, 
such as dry goods, crockery, groceries, hardware, etc. 

A notice of the death of Benjamin Stead, a native of Eng- 
land, and for many years a respectable and public-spirited inhabi- 
tant of the town, appeared in the old Detroit Gazette, September 
28, 1821. 

This Mr. Stead was the father of all the Steads, well-known 
residents here thereafter. Mr. Stead built the first brick dweUing 
that was ever erected in this city, except the one built by Governor 
Hull, where the Biddle House now is. 

This residence of Mr. Stead is still standing and nearly oppo- 
site the Michigan Exchange. It is occupied at present, I think, ^ 
by commercial agents who sell goods by sample. 

The issue of Friday, September 7, 182 1, says in regard to the 
treaty of Chicago : 

"On Tuesday last Governor Cass and Mr. Sibley, the com- 
missioners appointed to treat with the Indians, returned from 
Chicago, together with the gentlemen who attended at the treaty," 
and says further: "Governor Cass, on his route to Chicago, 


ascended the Miami to Fort Wayne. From thence his canoe was 
transported over a portage of about nine miles to the head of the 
Wabash. This river he descended to the Mississippi. The latter 
river he ascended to the mouth of the lUinois, one of whose trib- 
utary streams approaches within ten miles of Chicago. 


September 7, 182 1, the editor says, in regard to the Erie 
canal : 

*'A friend who has lately traveled in the interior of New 
York, has bfought with him on his return, the subjoined exhibit 
of the business done on the canal in that state, between Utica and 
Cayuga, from the first day in May up to the 226. of July, in the 
present year. This canal is complete, and extends eight miles 
below Utica, and will in about twelve months be finished to the 
Cohoes, within a mile and a half of Troy, and as far west as the 
Genessee River by the same period. Elegant boats for the accom- 
modation of passengers ply daily between Utica and Montezuma, 
near Cayuga lower bridge. So much adds our informant, and we 
respond, for the spirit and well directed resources of this great 

"Account of property transported on the middle section of 
the Erie canal at Utica from May i to July 22, 182 1 : Barrels of 
flour, 18,993 ; do of salt, 7,007 ; do of provisions, 4,200 ; do of 
ashes, 2,243; bushels of v/heat, 12,529; feet of boards, 44,065; 
bushels of water lime, 34,583 ; galons of whisky, 38,827 ; tons of 
gypsum, 212; tons of merchandise, 989; feet of timber, 14,269." 
It will be seen that whisky held its own. 


James Abbott, postmaster, in the issue, October 12, 182 1, 
advertises 120 letters uncalled for. 

The postoffice was then located on the west side of Wood- 
ward Avenue, midway between Woodbridge and Atwater Streets. 
Judge Abbott lived in a cottage with a fine garden in the rear on 
the corner of Woodbridge Street; next was the postoffice, next 
was his store and warehouse. 

This issue, and many thereafter, informs the public that the 
proprietors have received and have for sale "Schoolcraft's Trav- 
els," through the northwest regions of the United States, per- 


formed as a member of the expedition under Governor Cass in 
the year 1820. 

The book is now out of print, and a very scarce volume ; if 
you doubt it, try to get hold of one by purchase and see what 
a time you will have. 

The Gazette says, October 19, 182 1 : 

''Governor Cass, when in the City of New York, presented 
Dr. Mitchell with a piece of the petrified tree alluded to in our 
article respecting the treaty of Chicago. The fragment was, with 
divers other things, on the 29th ult., deposited in one of the col- 
umns which adorn the grand avenue (now erecting) of the park." 

I wonder what park? 

The same issue has an extract from the PittsHeld Sun, which 
says, in regard to the New York city hall : 

"The iron railing, now enclosing the grand public square 
and city hall, has been imported into New York from Liverpool, 
though it might have been had cheaper in this country. This 
want of patriotism as well as economy has called forth not a 
little raillery and irony from the friends of the city and the 


The issue of the 8th of October, 1821, contains a notice of a 
meeting of the Sciawassa Company, at the council house (corner 
of Jefferson Avenue and Randolph Street), Thursday, the 25th 
inst., for the transaction of important business. It was signed by 
Obed Wait, secretary. 

This Obed Wait was the architect of and superintended the 
erection of the capitol building. 

October 12, the Gazette, in an editorial, calls attention to the 
Sciawassa Company, whose avowed mission was to encourage 
immigration to the territory, and to disseminate full inform.ation 
in regard thereto, and says in part: 

"It is peculiarly favorable to the interests of the territory 
that a measure like that entered upon by the Sciawassa Company 
should be taken at this time — for, so far from our citizens having 
hitherto been able to spread a knowledge of the advantages of 
this territory to any considerable extent among the people of the 
eastern and northern states, it may be said with truth, that a gen- 
eral ignorance prevails relative to them. Indeed, the traveler 
from Michigan is frequently asked (by persons whose standing 
in society would seem to imply at least a knowledge of the geog- 


raphy of their native country), 'if Detroit belongs to the British 
or the United States/ " 


In this same issue of October 12, 182 1, complaint is made 
in regard to the scarcity of brickmakers. 

"Much inconvenience has been sustained by the citizens of 
Detroit for the want of a few good and industrious brickmakers. 
But two brick buildings have been commenced during the past 
summer — a store of the Messrs. Palmer, 40 feet square, and one 
of Mr. Peter J. Desnoyers, 44 x 36. The former, after several 
delays, is completed; the latter is nearly so, but the masons dis- 
continued work two weeks ago for want of brick. Three other 
buildings would have been erected if brick could have been 

The Palmers, before their new store was erected on the 
northeast corner of Jefferson Avenue and Griswold Street, occu- 
pied with their stock of goods a wooden building on the corner 
of Larned and Griswold Streets, where is now the Campau 

Peter Desnoyer's new brick building stood on Jefferson 
Avenue, where the store recently vacated by the Richmond & 
Backus Co. now is. 

November 23, 182 1, the editor says in regard to the progress 
made in building the Erie canal : 

"On Thursday, the ist inst., the water was. let in from the 
termination of the Utica level to the Little Falls, which is 22 miles 
below Utica. This event was celebrated by a party of gentlemen 
from Utica and many others who joined them on the passage 
down. Their arrival at the Little Falls was announced by a 
national salute, and the cheers of a great number of people who 
had assembled to witness the scene. On landing a procession was 
formed, which marched to the house of Colonel Myers and par- 
took of a dinner prepared for the occasion." 

December 14, 182 1, Melvin Dorr makes his first bow to the 
citizens of Detroit, and says he has just received a fresh supply 
of dry goods and groceries, which he desires them to inspect, and 
which he will be glad to exchange for cash, furs, produce, dried 
ginsang, clean linen and cotton rags. 

Melvin Dorr was brother to J. K. Dorr, and when I knew 
him he was city auctioneer. 



GAZETTE OF 1821-1822. 

THERE is in the old Detroit Gazette of December 28, 182 1, 
an interesting account of the hanging of two Indians for 
murder. It reads as follows : 

"Execution-"— Yesterday, Ke-tan-Kah and Ke-wa-bis-Kim, 
the Indians who were sentenced to death, at the last September 
session of our Supreme Court, the former for the murder of Dr. 
W. F. Madison, and the latter for the murder of Charles Ulrick, 
were, agreeably to their sentence, hanged by their necks until they 
were dead. 

"The First Regiment Territorial Militia, under arms, and a 
guard of United States troops attended the execution. The spec- 
tators were very numerous — not many of whom had ever wit- 
nessed a similar scene. 

"They appeared throughout the whole solemn preparatory 
steps to be perfectly collected — they walked firmly to the gallows, 
and previously to ascending to the drop, shook hands with Rev. 
Mr. Janvier, Mr. Hudson (one of the gentlemen belonging to the 
Mission family), the sheriff and marshal, and several other gen- 
tlemen who stood near them. They ascended the steps of the drop 
in a manner peculiarly firm, after which they ask'ed through the 
interpreter the pardon of the surrounding spectators for the crime 
they had committed. They then shook hands and gazed for a few 
minutes on the assemblage and on the heavens, when their caps 
were drawn over their faces and they launched into eternity." 

January 4, 1822, Henry Sanderson says he has for sale 
twenty-five barrels of the best kind of Michigan apples, and 
twelve barrels of good cider, also an elegant one-horse sleigh, two 
chaises and two sets of harness complete ; also continues the har- 
nessmaking business at his old stand, and will attend to all orders 
for painting or glazing, also for fire buckets (leather). 


Mr. Sanderson's place of business and dwelling was on 
Woodbridge Street, between Bates and Randolph Streets. He 
was the father of Mrs. Bissell, wife of the late Geo. W. Bissell. 


The business of making fire buckets in those days was quite 
an industry, as every citizen was compelled by law to provide 
himself with two, to be kept in a conspicuous place in his dwelling, 
those in business of any kind to keep two additional wherever 
such business was carried on. These to be used in case of fire. 

It was quite interesting on the occasion of an alarm uf fire 
to see the citizens, each with their two leather buckets, rushing in 
hot haste to the blaze, wherever it might be located. Some of 
these fire buckets are preserved. Three or four aj*e in possession 
of the present fire department, and two, that were once the prop- 
erty of Judge James Witherell, grandfather of Senator Palmer, 
are in the log cabin at Palmer Park. 

In same issue, J. L. & H. S. Cole, attorneys and counsellors- 
at-law, say they have opened an office in the north apartment of 
the Steam Boat Hotel. 

Harry S. Cole, of the firm, married the daughter of Peter J. 
Desnoyers, and was the father of the late Mrs. Eben N. Wilcox 
and Charles S. Cole. He was a very popular lawyer and elegant 
gentleman. . 

In the issue of November 2, 182 1,0. & L. Cook announce 
that they have just received from New York and offer for sale 
a fine assortment of dry goods. 

This firm was composed of Levi and Orville Cook (brothers) 
and they occupied a part of the brick store of Levi Brown. It 
stood on the we^t side of Jefferson Avenue, midway between Gris- 
wold and Shelby Streets. At the time of my advent here this 
firm had dissolved, Orville giving place to his brother Olney. The 
latter firm continued for a while and were succeeded by Cook & 
Burns, Levi retiring. This latter firm continued for some years 
at the old stand, when Olney Cook retired, and was succeeded 
by Timothy L. Partridge, a young man from St. Clair, who 
had been in their employ for a long period. The firm then 
became James Burns & Co., whom scores of the present day 
will remember. 

In the issue of November 9, 1821, is a notice of the marriage 


(on the 5th) by Rev. Mr. Janvier of Mr. Peter Desnoyers to Miss 
Caroline Leib. 

Miss Leib was the daughter of Judge Leib (Leib farm, Ham- 
tramack) and aunt to Clevil and W. Q. Hunt, of this city. 

November i6, 1821, the paper contained this announcement: 

"Good news! The following is taken from the Albany 
Gazette of October 29 : 

" * Wheat sold in this market on Saturday at i6s id sterling 
per bushel.' " 

The newspaper carrier had his troubles in those days as well 
as in these, Sheldon & Reed say, January 11, 1822: 

"give the devii. his dues." 

"Our carrier informs us that several persons to whom he 
presented his New Year's address requested him to tell Messrs. 
Sheldon & Reed to charge the address to their account. To those 
we have to say that the tjioneys raised by the carrier from the 
address belong entirely to himself; and that, on that score, he 
is at full liberty to open an account with whom he pleases." 

February 8, 1822, James McCloskey, cashier of the Bank of 
Michigan, gives notice to the stockholders that an election will 
be held at the bank on Monday, the nth day of March next, at 12 
o'clock M., for choosing directors for the ensuing year. 

The bank building was a small brick one, of one story, and 
stood where is now the Kearsley building, corner of Jefferson 
Avenue and Randolph Street. 

In the paper of Friday, March 29, 1822, is the notice of 
marriage (on Wednesday evening last) by Rev. A. W. Welton, 

I Mr. John Farrer to Mrs. Hannah Mack, all of this city. 
Mr. Farrer was the grandfather of Ford Starring, of this 
' The Gazette in its issue of Friday, May 31, 1822, announces 
the arrival of the elegant new steam boat Superior, Captain J. 
Rodgers, with a full freight of merchandise and ninety-four pas- 
sengers, sixty-eight of whom were citizens of or immigrants to 
Michigan, and goes to say : • 

"This excellent vessel was built at Buffalo during the past 
winter, under the immediate superintendence of Captain R — 
and is owned by the proprietors of the old steam boat Walk-in- 
the- Water, which was wrecked in the fall of last year. She is 


346 tons burthen, no feet keel, 29 feet beam, and has an engine 
of 59 horse-power. In her construction great exertions have 
been made to render her secure in the most tempestuous weather, 
and it is the opinion of many that she is the strongest boat on 
the continent. Her accommodation for passengers are excellent, 
and the ladies' cabin, particularly, is furnished in a style of 
splendor, highly creditable to the liberality and taste of her own- 
ers and commander." 

In the issue of June 7, the editor has this to say in regard to 
United States troops being stationed at Sagana Bay : 

"We learn with much pleasure that a post is to be established 
at Sagana Bay, and that Captain Perkins, military storekeeper 
at this post, has received orders to procure implements for erect- 
ing barracks, etc., as early as practicable. This post is to be 
formed by a detachment of the Third United States Infantry, and 
will be under the command of Major Baker, now at Green Bay." 


This Captain Perkins was in charge of the government 
arsenal here until it was transferred to Dearborn. This arsenal 
occupied the square, bounded by Jefferson Avenue, Wayne, Lar- 
ned and Cass Streets. The* arsenal building was of stone and 
was on the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Wayne Street. The 
captain's quarters were on the corner of Jefferson Avenue and 
Cass Street. 

Major Baker was the last commandant (then Colonel Baker), 
of Fort Shelby. He died here in the early thirties, much 
regretted. He was indeed a most estimable man, and gallant 
soldier. He owned what is called the ''Baker Farm," at the time 
of his death. 

The editor also has this to say, in regard to British troops on 
this frontier: 

"On Saturday last (June i) about 150 British troops passed 
this place in the American schooner Michigan. They are to be 
stationed at Drummond's Island. It is obviously the intention 
of the British government to maintain, if possible, its influence 
over the Indian tribes to the northwest, and to do this, the main- 
taining of a force as large as any which our government may 
send to that quarter is necessary. This reinforcement for Drum- 
mond's Island is probably intended to counterbalance the effect 
which our new post at Sault Ste. Marie would produce upon the 




In same issue (June i), the editor has this to say in regard 
to emigration to this territory of Michigan : 

*'So numerous have been the arrivals of immigrants to this 
territory, since the opening of navigation, that it is difficult, at 
this time, to ascertain with any degree of certainty, their actual 
numbers — and by making inquiries among those of our citizens 
who would be most competent to form a correct opinion on the 
subject, we have found a material difference in calculations. 
Almost every vessel which has touched at this port has brought 
immigrants, and last week a schooner (the Erie from Buffalo) 
landed forty-five. They were mostly from the counties of Mon- 
roe (formerly Genesee) and Ontario, N. Y., and came well pre- 
pared to take immediate advantage of every facility which our 
delightful country extends to the enterprising immigrant. It is 
worthy of notice, also, in relation to this body of immigrants, that 
they were not induced to leave their homes, in the most fertile 
portion of the state of New York, and remove to this territory by 
any high wrought and vivid descriptions of its excellence, by 
interested speculators. On the contrary, they had the consoling 
certainty that they should not regret their removal, because their 
providence had sent those on whose judgment they could depend, 
to 'spy out the land' and from whom they had obtained a good 

**The interest which is awakened in many parts of the Union, 
in relation to this territory, and, above all, the arrival of numer- 
ous intelligent immigrants and gentlemen who come to see the 
country, induce a conviction that the barriers to emigration are 
giving way, and that a tide has begun to blow which nothing will 
retard. It is also a pleasing reflection that those who have 
arrived in our territory were not from any particular part of the 
Union, Vermont, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania having fur- 
nished a portion of our population, and Ohio is also giving us a 
liberal share. Last week the schooner Sylph landed ten farmers 
from that state, and we are informed that many more are prepar- 
ing* to follow them. But from New York we have received and, 
perhaps, shall continue to receive, the greatest number of immi- 
grants. In that great state this territory begins to be known, and 
it is with much pleasure that we observe, in some of the news- 
papers of the western district of the state, publications relating 
to the advantages of certain portions of this territory, which seem 
to have been written bv those who have carefully examined them." 



He also has this to say in regard to the Tetibawassa River : 

''This river, the largest which empties into the Sagana, has 
recently received the name of Clinton. The reasons for a change 
of this kind must be obvious to all. Tetibawassa is at best an 
uncouth, ill-sounding term, and if by varying it a better can be 
substituted, the measure must meet with general approbation. To 
DeWitt Clinton, the principal and most active projector of the 
New York canal, this country has been and will be infinitely 
indebted. Hence the propriety of sending him every suitable 
demonstration of gratitude and respect." 

In the issue of Friday, June 21, 1822, the editor has this to 
say in regard to the steamboat Superior : 

"The steamboat Superior, Captain Rodgers, arrived here 
from Buffalo on Friday last and sailed for Michilimackinac on 
Saturday, having on board a considerable number of passengers 
and a full cargo of merchandise destined for the Indian trade. 

"The trip-sheet of the Superior contained the names of 
ninety-nine passengers, more than half of whom were for this ter- 
ritory, and have since left this place to examine the United States 
lands in the interior. 

"The trip to Sault Ste. Marie will be made as soon as the 
Superior returns from her next trip to Buffalo." 

He also says in regard to whitefish: 

"Last fall a gentleman in this city sent a barrel of whitefish 
to a friend in New York, from whom he has recently received a 
letter, in which the highest commendation is given to the fish. 
Those who had the opportunity of tasting them were of the 
opinion that in flavor they far exceeded shad. We have not the 
least doubt but this opinion of our whitefish will become more 
general as the exportation of them increases." 

How truthfully this prediction of the editor has been verified. 
I can testify of their present "scarcity, scarce in comparison to 
what they were in the early thirties. You could then buy, any 
morning in the season, at any of the markets and from the cajioes 
of the French habitants at the foot of Woodward Avenue fine 
fresh fish, as many as you desired, for five cents each, and at any 
of the fishing grounds along the river you could have as many as 
you could carry away conveniently, for nothing. 


I HAVE never seen this parody by Woodworth before, and 
doubt if many have. 

The Detroit Gazette of November 30, 1821, contained a song 
by Samuel Woodworth, author of the "Old Oaken Bucket," and 
is a parody on the latter, delivered at the cattle show and exhibi- 
tion by domestic manufacturers of the New York Agricultural 

At the exhibition, it appears, there were presented five bon- 
nets manufactured from spear grass by American ladies. They 
were pronounced superior to the best Leghorn. The finest of 
the number received the name of the Washington bonnet and sub- 
sequent to the fair was sold at auction for more than $100. The 
following excellent partriotic song, from the pen of the American 
Poet Woodworth, was in circulation at the fair :^ 


Air— "The Old Oaken Bucket." 

"The Bard who has so often sung Independence 

And wakened his lyre to the praise of the brave, 
Now hails a new spirit among their descendants, 

Imparted from heaven that blessing to save. 
The delicate white-fingered hands pf the lasses 

Have opened the era their virtues adorn. 
By making alone from American grasses 

A delicate bonnet that rivals Leghorn. 

' ^ Chorus — 

A pretty grass bonnet — a dear native bonnet, 

The Washington bonnet that rivals Leghorn. 


No foreign intrigues can now disaffect us, 

Since we can oppose them with courage and wit ; 
Our masculine valor has made them respect us, 

Our fetninine genius will make them submit; 
No more shall we send them our eagles and dollars, 

Our fair from our soil can their persons adorn 
With necklaces, bracelets and corsets and collars. 

And delicate bonnets that rival Leghorn. 

Then hail to the arts that secure independence. 

And draw our resources from liberty's soil. 
Our national banner derives new resplendence 

From feminine genius and masculine toil. 
Our valor shall teach all the world to respect it, 

vTho' some have affected that valor to scorn ; 
And Amazon damsels have armed to protect it 

With helmets or bonnets that rival Leghorn." 

Some of the readers of the Gazette now and then dropped 
into poetry. Listen to this one in its issue of December 7, 1821 : 


The devil once, to execute his plan, 
Tempted woman, and she tempted man. 

Whence rose, we read, the origin of evil; 
But wiser grown and better skilled to stray 
Through every devious maze of folly's way,- 
Man now tempts woman — woman tempts the devil. 


Friday, June 7, 1822, the paper gives notice of the sailmg of 
the steamboat Superior, from Buffalo to Michilimackinac on June 
1 1 next at 9 o'clock a. m., and will touch at all intermediate ports 
up and back. 


The name of Asa Partridge appears in the Gazette now and 
then in 1820 as drawing sheriff's fees, charges for the care of 
paupers, etc., from the county treasury. This Asa Partridge was 
sheriff of Wayne County before Austin E. Wing. He came here 
as captain and commissary in the army during the war of 181 2. 


He moved to Palmer (St. Clair) in 1826, and shortly after died 
there. His widow married Doctor Harmon Chamberlain, of that 
city. Partridge left four children, three boys and one girl. One 
of the boys, Benjamin, was colonel of the Fourteenth Michigan 
Infantry during the civil war, and rose to the rank of brigadier- 
general. He was afterwards state land commissioner for four 
years. Another of the boys, Timothy, entered the service of Cook 
& Burns, this city, about 1840, and on the retirement of Mr. 
Cook he succeeded to his place, as before stated, and the firm name 
became James Burns & Co. 

The daughter married Marcus H. Miles, of St. Clair, who 
became register of deeds of that county, and afterwards a captain 
and quartermaster in the civil war. 

September 26, 1827, James Abbott says he has 240 acres of 
land on Pontiac road, five miles from Detroit, that he would like 
to dispose of on the most reasonable terms. 

If his heirs only had it now in 1903. 

October 2, 1827, Alexander Campbell, a baker at the corner 
of Griswold and Woodbridge Streets, advertises a runaway 
apprentice to the baking business. All persons are forbidden har- 
boring or trusting him on his (Campbell's) account, as hfe won't 
pay a cent. 

Campbell was father of the late John Campbell, bookkeeper 
for the board of public works. 

In March, 1828, James Abbott says he continues to pay cash 
for deer skins in any quantity. He also has a few barrels of fine 
old whisky (now hear him) which he will sell cheap to the thirsty. 

In October, 1829, Emmor Hawley advertises saddles, har- 
nesses, trunks, valises, etc., at the red building, north side of 
Jefferson Avenue. 

This red building was midway between Woodward Avenue 
and Griswold Street. Mr. Hawley married the sister of Shubal 

Thomas Palmer advertises December 29, 1829, about 1,000 
acres of land, where St. Clair City is now, for sale at auction on 
the first Monday of June, 1830, at the county court house in the 
village of Palmer. The climate is mild and healthy, and the situ- 
ation is decidedly the most pleasant and beautiful in Michigan. 
Terms made known at time of sale. 

324 e:ARI.Y days in DETROIT. 


Aaron Greeley was the land surveyor in those days. He sur- 
veyed the 10,000 acre tract, and in doing so was rather liberal with 
Uncle Sam's land. When Thomas Palmer came to dispose of the 
portion he received from the general government for building the 
capitol building, some 7,000 or 8,000 acres, it was found in re-sur- 
veying it into parcels (metes and bounds) as purchasers desired 
them, many of the quarter sections over-ran. In some instances 
there would be quite a strip of land running clear across a quarter 
section (after the purchasers had got all the land their deeds 
called for), that no one appeared to own, so they divided it up 
among themselves. For instance, two parties purchasing a quarter 
section would have the surveyor divide it equally, eighty acres to 
each. When the survey was completed it appeared that there was 
a strip of land from sixteen to twenty feet wide between the two 
eighties that there was, apparently, no owner or claimant for, so 
the parties gobbled the sixteen or twenty feet and set their fences 
accordingly. I don't know whether Thomas Palmer ever detected 
the error or not, don't think he did. Perhaps, if he had, he would 
have been very apt to have made a fuss about it. I think some of 
the quarter sections through which Woodward Avenue is laid 
out, that were reserved by the governor and judges, are ip the 
same predicament. 





IN the year 1829 Daniel Leroy, Olmstead Chamberlain and 
Gideon O. Whittemore sold to Colonel Andrew Mack, Gen- 
eral John R. Williams and Major Joseph Campau the 
newspaper called the Oakland Chronicle, the office being trans- 
ferred here, and Hector (colored), the well-known slave of 
General Williams, was placed in charge of it. When the late 
Colonel Sheldon McKnight, who in the meantime had made 
arrangements to take charge of and run the concern, entered to 
take possession, he was fiercely resisted by Hector, who showed 
fight, and the colonel had to retreat. I presume the former had 
not been advised. I heard the colonel relate this incident. This 
paper was afterwards merged into the Detroit Gazette and after 
into The Free Press. 

Shortly before the destruction of the office of the Gazette 
by fire in 1830, Mr. E. Reed, one of the proprietors of the paper, 
seeing, no doubt, that the concern was traveling on the "ragged 
edge of the whirlwind," hied himself to Washington in search of 
office under President Andrew Jackson, and while there wrote a 
number of letters to a well-known Democratic political leader and 
influential citizen here on his prospects there, and about things 
political in Detroit. Letters were all franked by Hon. John Bid- 
die, M. C. 

Copies of them are given here ; they will explain themselves, 

and no doubt will be found interesting, particularly to old settlers. 

The following is an extract from a letter of E. Reed, one of 

the firm of Sheldon & Reed, publishers of the Detroit Gazette, 

dated Washington 27th, December, 1829 : 


"Coon Ten Eyck's backsliding does not surprise me. A man 
so utterly selfish cannot be expected to hold on to anything with- 


out being paid for it. He would sell his Saviour for a halfworn 
Indian blanket. His big talk about his influence (Good Lord!) 
was always a good joke. I don't believe he ever controlled a vote 
except those of the ragged thieves that he has about him, and that 
he pays with whisky for their work. Doctor Sloss, of Dearborn, 
also, I am told, has sworn vengeance because Judge Witherell was 
removed. If you had a real newspaper, the influence of such 
apologies for men might be set right. Catch them telling some 
damned lies, and then prove it on them in the paper. 

"In relation to the next election, who will oppose Biddle? 
How will the Masons go? The anti-Masons? The French? The 
mining country ? You ought to be damned if you are beaten this 
time — but, so help me God, I believe you will be. The battle once 
on, our good-natured easy Democrats fall to billing and cooing 
and frolicking with the aristocrats and sharpers, and they take 
advantage of them. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance, so 
somebody has said. It is equally true, that the Republican party, 
which must exist in all places in the country, can only triumph by 
being true to itself, and wide awake all the time. The war should 
never cease, nor should any compromise be made. That business 
.of compromise is always one of the acts of the devil, which he puts 
in the heads of the aristocrats in order to defeat the people. Our 
party in Michigan is cursed with false friends. 


"You will have to depend on the country, and let the town 
people, the aristocracy of tape-cutters, pill-peddlers, bankmen and 
pettifoggers go their own way. It is not necessary to waste a 
word upon them. Show them that they cannot kick out of the 
traces without getting hurt. All the little appointments in the 
country should be looked to. Not a constable should be appointed 
or elected, unless he be a good man and true, if possible to 
prevent it. 

"But the worst feature of Michigan politics is the practice of 
electing nincompoops to the legislature, merely because they can 
be elected. The lines of party should be drawn taut, and no man 
put in nomination who is not a thorough whole-hog party man. 
It is never too late to begin to do good, and you may as well begin 
now as later. You can never have a legislature fit to depend on 
until this practice is introduced. 


"Why the devil don't you get that paper started? Never 
mind an editor — better have none at all than a half-way man. Tell 
Wells if he will start it I will give him two columns weekly from 
here, until he can get someone who will go the whole hog. For 
God's sake keep it out of the hands of any milk-sop politician, 
and tell Wells not to place too much reliance on Parson Hasting's 
advice, or that of any sectarian who catechises babies on Simday 
mornings at the academy. The paper ought to have a man, and 
not an old woman in pantaloons at the head of it. It cannot be 
made profitable in any other way. Tell him to avoid the *no party' 
man as he would a pestilence. They are always a set of crafty, 
speculating wretches, who have their own ends to gain. I believe 
there are more of this species of knaves in Detroit than any other 
place, and now is the time to set them before the public in their 
true colors, before they contaminate the state government, and 
make it offensive to the eyes of the others, as they have succeeded 
in regard to the territorial government. Michigan can never have 
any influence here until she possesses a strong party character, and 
he who succeeds in giving her that desirable character will deserve 
most at the hands of her people. 

"Yours truly, 
(Signed) . "E. Reed." 


The following is a copy of a letter from E. Reed, dated Wash- 
ington, January 24, 1830, and marked private and confidential: 

"Dear Tom — I saw Eaton, secretary of war, last night — he 
is a fine fellow. I mentioned your case, and stated that when the 
news arrived at Detroit of the vote of Ohio and Jackson's election 
was rendered certain, our Secretary Witherell raised up his hands 
and said he %oped God would interpose and take Jackson to Him- 
self and prevent the nation from being disgraced by his taking 
the presidential seat.' Eaton's reply was exactly in these words : 
'Make out and substantiate that fact, and by God, sir, I pledge, 
my 'life he will be removed. Your staternent is sufficient for me, 
but get all the affidavits you can." 

"And now, for God's sake, get affidavits of that fact, and keep 



dark. Don't show this to any one — for if we fail, the least said 
the soonest mended. Write often. 

"Dear T , I find myself a strong man here — a much 

bigger fellow than at home. If I told you all, you would think I 
was a vain, bragging man. 

"I don't leave until I get an appointment. 

Yours truly, 

(Signed.) "E. Reed." 


The following is a copy of a letter from E. Reed dated Wash- 
ington, January 26, 1830, and marked ''private :'* 

"Dear Tom : 

"I have tried to keep Biddle on the turf, but he won't and told 
me today that he would not be a candidate again. What will you 
do? Will you turn in and support Wing? If you do, you ought 
to be damned, and will be. Do you think I say this without reason ? 
No, I do not, and I will tell you why you ought to be damned, in 
the event of that contingency. 

"In the first place, if you go for Wing, you acknowledge that 
there was no principle in your support of Biddle. Think of that ! 
In the next place, by electing him, you give the aristocracy of 
Michigan a lift which it will take a good Democratic editor five 
years to pull down again. Think of that again ! And, thirdly 
(which is the best reason I shall give you just now, for I am in a 
hurry), by sending Wing here, you cut your own noses off. He 
is well known here as the devoted friend of Clay, and a bitter anti- 
Jackson man. He could do the territory no good. 

(Signed.) "E. Reed." 

On the back of the last letter, or one dated January 24, some- 
one has written or made the following "Mem:" 

"The statement about the secretary is a lie from beginning to 

The "Wells" mentioned was Stephen Wells, bookseller, and 
"Parson Hasting-s" was Eurotas P. Hastings, president of the 
Bank of Michigan. "Coon Ten Eyck" was Conrad Ten Eyck, of 
Dearborn, United States marshal at that time. 

e:arIvY history o^ the dettroit freje; press. 329 

oi.d styi,e of inking. 

The office of the Gazette was located on Griswold Street 
directly in the rear of F. T. & J. Palmer's store. There was quite 
a space between the store and the Gazette office, that was used 
as a woodyard, etc., by Mr. Thomas Palmer. On the rear of this 
yard was a two-story wooden kitchen, carriage house, etc., that 
joined onto the printing office. 

As I was located so near the Gazette office, and the type- 
setting and printing process so new to me, and so interesting, it 
became a habit for me to visit it, particularly when they were 
working off the paper. The way of inking the types was quite 
amusing. The ink was spread out over the surface of a table 
near by the printing press and pressman. Two great round 
leather cushions, stuffed with sheep's wool, and in each of which 
was a wooden handle, were used in the process. The operating 
"printer's devil," taking a cushion in each hand, by the handle, 
dabbed them in the ink on the table and then briskly jabbe3 them 
together many mines, thus distributing the ink equally over their 
surfaces. Then he dabbed them on the types — quite different 
from the present way. 


The fire that destroyed tKe Detroit Gazette and much adjoin* 
ing property happened on the evening of April 26, 1830. 

The late Judge B. F. H. Witherell, writing to a f fiend in 
Washington the next day, says of it, in part : "Judge McDonnell, 
who was one of the losers, said, while his house was in full blaze, 
'There is no evil without a corresponding good ; there will be no 
more dispute about public printing.' The Gazette people saved 
their type, I think, for which I am not glad nor anyone else. A 
sword in the hands of a mad man is a dangerous weapon, and no 
matter how he uses it. A fellow set the office on fire to avenge 
himself on McKnight; he is now in jail." 

McKnigbt was a nephew of Mr. Sheldon, one of the pro- 
prietors of the Gazette. The judge does not say who this mad 
man was. 

Sheldon McKnight busied himself directly in getting out a 
new paper, and succeeded in establishing The Democratic Free 
Press, the first number of which was issued May 5, 1831. It was 

330 . :eari,y days in dejtroit. 

published every Thursday morning from the office, corner of 
Bates and Woodbridge Streets. 

The first number was very little larger than the Detroit 
Gazette, being 193^x14 inches. It is better printed than the latter 
and on much better paper. The dimensions of the Gazette were 
153^x103^. The issue was almost entirely taken up with the pro- 
ceedings of a public meeting of the Democratic Republicans of the 
County of Wayne, who were opposed to the election of Austin E. 
Wing for delegate to congress. The meeting was held in the ses- 
sion room March 14, 1831. John R. Williams was chairman and 
Chas. W. Whipple and John P. Sheldon were secretaries. 

At this meeting a committee of five was appointed to draft 
an address to the citizens of the territory. John R. Williams, 
John P. Sheldon, Oliver Newberry, David C. McKinstry, and 
Colonel Andrew Mack were appointed the said committee. 

They met and drafted an address to the citizens of the terri- 
tory, setting forth the views of those present, and on the evening 
of the 24th of March met and adopted the address. 

Later on John R. Williams was nominated for delegate 
against Austin E. Wing. The former was defeated. 

The career of The Detroit Free Press since then is familiar 
to all. 



I DO not undertake to give a full and complete history of the 
old volunteer fire department, as that has already been done 

in an admirable "History of Our Firemen," compiled and 
edited by Mr. Charles S. Hathaway, and issued in 1894, but 
merely give some incidents connected therewith that came under 
my personal observation while I was a member of the department 
and "ran wid de machine," and some from competent history and 

I joined the department in 1838, and became a member of 
No. 4. I ran with the machine for many years, until four or five 
before the paid fire department with its steam fire engine took the 
place of the hand engines and the volunteer companies. 

A MAN 01'' ne:rve:. 

William Green was foreman of No. 4 when I joined. He 
was a man of nerve, exceedingly prompt and dignified when on 
duty. He commanded to a very great degree the respect of the 
members of his company. He was at that time foreman for Sid- 
ney L. Rood in his book bindery. He was succeeded as foreman 
of No. 4 by William B. Wesson, who was also a prompt and 
energetic fireman. 

The rivalry among the various companies was great indeed. 
The excitement in striving to be first at a fire was blood tingling, 
as all who have experienced it will remember, and when one com- 
pany washed another, as it was termed, it was glory enough. -I 
do not know how it was among the members of the other fire 
companies, but among the members of No. 4 it was all engine; 
they talked engine, thought of hardly anything else but engine, 
and dreamed engine. 

I will endeavor to give an account of the fires and other inci- 


dents, of which I was an eye-witness and participator, that were 
connected with the volunteer fire department. 

A fire broke out in the Detroit Gazette office, on Griswold 
Street, about 8 o'clock of an April day in the year 1830. The 
building was destroyed. F. & T. Palmer's brick store was dam- 
aged and the wooden kitchen and carriage house adjoining, on the 
corner of Jefferson Avenue and Griswold Street, were destroyed, 
as well as the wooden dwelling of Judge John McDonnell, adjoin- 
ing Palmer's, on Jefferson Avenue. Dr. Thos. B. Clark had his 
office and a small stock of drugs and medicines in a small building 
next to McDonnell's, which was pulled into the street by the 
citizens to prevent the fire from extending to Major Dequindre's 
wooden store and dwelling adjoining it. 

This was about the first fire of any consequence that had 
visited Detroit for some years. Happening, as it did, in the 
office of the only paper published in Michigan at that time, and 
threatening the destruction of one of the few brick buildings in 
the town occupied as a store and residence by a prominent cit- 
izen, it brought to the scene nearly the entire community. All 
joined in, men, women and children, to assist the firemen ; also to 
assist in saving property, furniture, etc. 

Many of the first ladies of the city worked like heroines, 
passing buckets to the fire brigade, and aiding the Palmers and 
McDonnells in saving as many of their effects as possible. Peo- 
ple became almost beside themselves, and there was wild excite- 
ment for a time. I remember quite well seeing men throwing 
looking glasses and frail furniture out of the windows, and car- 
rying feather beds down stairs, and depositing them out of reach 
of all possible harm. 

Thomas Palmer had disposed of the remaining stock of the 
old firm to Phineas Davis, so was not much of a loser. What 
losses the other sufferers sustained I do not know. 


, Jack Smith's dwelling, on the corner of Griswold and Wood- 
bridge Streets, was also destroyed, with the stable in the rear. 
In the lower part of the McDonnell house was the hat store of 
H. Griswold and auction house of Colonel Edward Brooks. Thos. 
Owen, the brewer, had about 300 barrels of beer in McDonnell's 
cellar which, I think, was a total loss. Beer ran down Griswold 


Street gutter nearly all the next day — a great chance for free 
lager. The fire was the work of a drunken or crazy printer 
(Ulysses J. Smith), who pretended to have some grievance 
against Sheldon & Reed, the proprietors of the Gazette. 

I have said the Palmer's brick store was damaged. Only 
the doors, window casings and eave troughs on the side towards 
the fire suffered. The wooden kitchen and carriage house that 
joined on to the Gazette office were the only buildings of the 
Palmers that were totally destroyed. 

The city owned at that time but three engines. There was the 
new "Protection No. i" and the ''Old Engine," said to have been 
taken from Fort Shelby when it was demolished. Any way, it 
was in commission that night and manned by the "boys'* did 
good service. There was also the new one belonging to No. 2 

The Gazette building was an unpretentious one, a small 
wooden two-story affair with a small cupola, and in it hung a bell. 
Office and editorial rooms were on the first floor. The upper one 
was devoted to printing and composition. This fire knocked the 
Gazette out. It never appeared again. It was merged somehow 
into The Detroit Free Press, -under the management of Sheldon 

A rather humorous account of the fire is contained in a letter 
written the day after it happened, by the late Judge B. F. H. 
Witherell to a friend in Washington, a copy of which appeared in 
The Sunday Pree Press recently. 

'"frenchman took de bucket."" 

The next fire that occurred, of any note, happened during the 
inter 1832-33. As I was an eye-witness of the affair, I will 
endeavor to detail it, as memory serves me. It broke out early one 
intensely cold Sunday morning in Jerry Dean's saddlery and har- 
ness shop, that was situated about midway between Griswold and 
Shelby Streets, on the north side of Jefferson Avenue, and before 
it was mastered, consumed the building in which it started, also 
the book store of Stephen Welles, adjoining on the west, and the 
general store of Oliver & Walter Newberry, that stood on the now 
so-called Ives' corner, Griswold Street. The buildings, being of 
wood, burned like tinder. 


It was at this fire that Mr. Joseph Campau (he lived almost 
opposite the fire, as did my uncle and family) in his excitement, 
rushed in among the crowd summoned there by the clanging bell 
in the church steeple, corner of Woodward Avenue and Larned 
Street — some to render assistance and others to look on, as usual — 

and exclaimed: 

"Frenchman took de bucket, white man took de engine." 

Engines No. i, 2 and 3 were stationed as near the burning 
buildings as prudence would permit, and two lines, composed of 
the citizens, were formed and extended from them to the river 
at the foot of Griswold Street. There was not any dock or wharf 
there at that date. A hole was cut in the ice and some citizen vol- 
unteered to station himself at it and pay particular attention to 
filling the fire buckets as fast as they came to him, which was 
pretty fast, and handing them to his nearest neighbor, who in turn 
passed them to the next, and so along the line to the fire engine. 
The empty buckets came back along the other line in due course, 
and so on. 

It was a bitter cold job, and before the affair was over nearly 
all those who participated in keeping up the lines, as well as the 
men at the brakes, were covered with icicles. There were no con- 
venient hydrants, reservoirs or hose in those days, and the engines 
had to depend on the "bucket brigade" to keep them supplied with 

This "bucket brigade" was a most necessary institution. 
Each householder was obliged to provide himself with two leather 
buckets for use in case of fire. When an alarm was sounded he 
would grab his buckets and rush to the scene of danger. They 
would form lines, as said before, and hurry up the water. After 
the fire was over the buckets w^ere thrown into a heap and then 
each owner claimed his buckets, names being conspicuously 
painted on them. I think the present fire department owns three 
or four of these self-same leather fire buckets. Senator Thomas 
W. Palmer has two of them, in the "Log Cabin" at Palmer Park. 
They used to belong to his grandfather, Judge James Witherell. 



AT the time of the burning of the old Detroit Gazette news- 
paper office, in 1830, the members of No. i Protection 
Fire Engine Co. that I knew personally in after life were : 
David C. McKinstry, chief engineer; Obed Waite, engineer; 
Asa Madison, Shadrach Gillett, John Farrar, Timothy Fales, 
Dexter Merrill, Jeremiah Moors, Francis Leterneau, Perez Mer- 
ritt, Thomas C. Sheldon, John Wright and Harvey Williams; 
and of Engine Company No. 2 were: Robert A. Forsyth, 
Edmund A. Brush, Ralph Wadams, Darius Lamson, Felix Hinch- 
man, Charles C. Trowbridge, Henry S. Cole, Walter L. New- 
berry, John Iv. Whiting, David Cooper, Joseph W. Torrey, Mar- 
shal Chapin, Wm. G. Abbott, Simon Poupard, Curotas P. Hast- 
ings, Theodore Williams, James W. Hinchman, Josiah R. Dorr, 
Melvin Dorr, John J. Denning, Shubal Conant, Alanson M. Hurd, 
George F. Porter and Thomas Rowland. 


There was one other fire engine besides Protection No. i 
when I came here, and that was a very crude and cumbrous 
affair. It was said to have belonged to Fort Shelby and a relic 
of Perry's fleet. It had solid wooden or iron wheels. A faithful 
representation of it is to be found on page 26 of the book entitled 
"Our Firemen." 

In March, 1827, the common council appropriated $127 to 
put this "old engine" in repair and to keep the same in good con- 
dition for one year. 

Robert Hopkin, the. well known and venerable artist, in "Our 
Firemen," page 118, has described the first fire engine (Boys' 
Company) and to which I have alluded. He said : 

"I not only remember the first fire engine in Detroit, but 


when I was a lad I painted and decorated the machine, which 
was to be a feature in some public parade. At that time — it was 
along about 1852, I think — I know it was said that the Httle 
apparatus was about forty years old, and it looked it. The thing 
consisted of an iron-bound oblong box or reservoir, about 6 feet 
long by 23^ feet wide, and 18 or 20 inches deep. It was mounted 
on four small iron wheels, just such as you now see on hand 
trucks used in wholesale houses. In the center of the box was 
a copper dome or air chamber some 15 or 18 inches high, and in 
front of and behind this dome were two small pumps set on an 
angle and operated by long brakes extending to the front and 
rear of the reservoir. There was a suction opening — and only 
one — on one side of the reservoir, and a long curved handle or 
tongue by which the vehicle was hauled. When the suction failed 
to provide a sufficient quantity of water — which was almost invar- 
iably the case, it was said — the deficiency was overcome by lines 
of bucketmen passing water and emptying it at either one of the 
open ends of the little reservoir. 


"Of course, I know nothing first-hand as to the pumps, but 
I recollect that when I was decorating the engine many persons 
called to look at it, and I heard it said repeatedly that the pumps 
were from the flagship of Commodore Perry's fleet, and that the 
engine had been devise'd and built by the soldiers garrisoned at 
Detroit. I do not think it weighed as much as an ordinary lum- 
ber wagon, and, as I remember it, the suction opening was not 
much over an inch and a half in diameter." 

Mr. Hopkin made a sketch of this engine from memory, and 
it is quite a faithful reproduction of the "Old Machine," as I 
remember it. 

The boys of No. 3 supplied themselves with fire hats from 
the stock of privates' uniform hats in the United States store- 
house. They had seen service in the war of 18 12, and were con- 
demned. Seymour Rossiter, son of Old Rossiter, the dyer, one 
of the members of the company, and quite an artist, painted some- 
thing on the fronts of these hats that represented a building in 
full blaze, and the letters "F. E. Co. No. 3" above it. These hats 
were of glazed leather. 

I^IGHTING fire: in THE OL,D DAYS. 337 


On one occasion a member of the company, who . was 
employed in some occupation near the foot of Cass Street, dis- 
covered a fire in a building adjacent to the place where he was 
at work. He directly, without giving a general alarm, quietly- 
posted five or six of his fellow members, who were in hailing dis- 
tance, of the fact; they repaired at once to the engine house, and 
when the general alarm was sounded their engine was out in na 
time, and the first at the fire, of course. This member of the com- 
pany who first discovered the fire was Henry (Hank) Mullett. I 
have often h.eard him in after years relate the circumstance and. 
with much amusement. I have also heard Henry M. Roby, a. 
member of same company, tell the same story. The incident is- 
alluded to in ''Our Firemen." 

This younger element of the city that had before 1830 
organized this sort of fire company (they were present at the 
Gazette office fire), gathered around the "old machine" men- 
tioned, and had it housed in a small wooden building, on the north- 
east corner of. the alley that crosses Wayne Street, between Lar- 
ned and Congress Streets. Fire Engine Company No. 4 occupied' 
this building afterwards, and for many years. 


Well, the boys after a while came to see that they were not 
having a proper show in the fire department and, accordingly, in- 
the early part of 1830, they petitioned the common council for the- 
organization of a new fire engine company. The petition was- 
granted and the members (named in the grant) that I knew per- 
sonally at that time and for long years after, were: Henry J^ 
Canniff, Benjamin F. Stead, John McCarty, William W. Miller^ 
William H. Wells, William N. Carpenter, Lewis C. Rowland^ 
Seymour Rossiter, George Doty, Henry M. Roby, Francis Eldred,, 
Rufus W. Griswold, James H. Mullett, Henry H. Snelling, Henry 
L. Chipman, Benjamin R. Keeney, Willis Garrison, Charles Mack^ 
George W. Keeney, Henry C. Wagstaflf, John Dackett and John 

Their engine was named officially No. 3, and to stimulate the 
members it was said that the common council agreed by a resolu- 
tion to pay a premium of $5 to said company if their engine was 
the first to operate on any fire. 


And it was further said that in April, 1830, when the Gazette 
office fire happened, the members of the company claimed they 
were the first to get a stream of water on the fire and put in their 
bill for the $5. But from some unexplained cause the claim was 
rejected. It is my opinion that the claim of the boys' company 
was valid, as they were all quite young. None of them could 
have been over 18 years old, handy and full of snap and boyish 


A short time after that fire, the common council requested 
the three companies to appear at the public wharf on a stated day 
at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, for the purpose of making certain 
experiments in the operation of said engines in concert, and to 
ascertain more fully the expediency of procuring hose for Engines 
Nos. I, 2 and 3. 

The three engine companies with their engines appeared at 
the "Public Wharf," foot of Woodward Avenue, according to 
request, and gave the common council and citizens of Detroit 
(the latter gathering in large numbers) a full taste of their qual- 
ity, and so convincing was it that the hose was ordered a few days 
later. I witnessed this parade and display of the prowess of that 
fire department, in its infancy, and must say it was to me, though 
quite a srnall lad, a most exciting spectacle. 

The companies all took suction from the river, and as they 
had no hose the foreman of each company, standing on the top 
of his ''machine," held the pipe that was screwed tightly on to 
the "goose neck," and with his thumb pressed tight over the 
mouth of the nozzle, held the stream of water back as long as he 
could, while the boys at the brakes were putting in their best 
Hcks, with "down with her" and "now she feels it" constantly 


When the water was releasel, then the excitement culminated, 
and each company did its best endeavor to outdo the other in the 
distance thrown, as well as in the time the stream of water was 
maintained. When they did get started, the foreman directed 
the water to the tops of the adjacent buildings (they were not 
very high then), on to the sidewalks, in at any open door or win- 
dow, onto any careless pedestrian that happened to be in reach, 
and. onto members of rival companies, until they were as wet as 


a lot of drowned rats. I believe he would have squirted on Gov- 
ernor Cass if he had been handy. Such fun ! 

I have .seen almost the same scene enacted many, many, 
times in after years. I call one or two to mind. One was at an 
annual parade of the department (I have forgotten the date). 
It was announced at this parade that the top of J. L. King's store 
(King's corner) was to be the objective point, the goal, as it 
were, and the first company to attain it with a line of hose and a 
stream of water was to have the "broom" and carry it until it 
was wrested from them by some similar achievement by a rival 

Well, the day came, and the department was- on hand, all 
eager for the fray. The engines were posted at the reservoirs 
near by, one on the corner where the Merrill Block is, and one a 
little farther up Jefferson Avenue. I do not remember what 
engines were at each reservoir, except No. 4, and that was at the 
reservoir on the Merrill Block corner. Well, the foreman of each 
company with their assistants were at the foot of the ladders, 
with lines of hose, the brakes manned and all eagerly awaiting 
the signal from the chief engineer to pitch in. When the signal 
did come, the mad and perilous rush to get to the top of the 
building was a thrilling experience to those engaged in it, as well 
as a thrilling sight to the spectators. No. 4 it was, I think, that 
got the broom that time. 

lee's brass trumpet. 

The other occasion was a parade of the department held on 
the vacant space in front of the Russell House, where is now the 
Bagley fountain. I do not call to mind much in relation to this 
parade or what the various companies set out to do, except it was 
to see which engine could throw a stream of water the farthest. 
Well, they got to work and soon the usual wild excitement pos- 
sessed each com_pany, and the cries of "Down with her, now she 
feels it," etc., were universal. I do not remember which com- 
pany bore the palm, but what I do remember — and it is principally 
for the following incident, in connection with it — was that Wil- 
liam Lee (Bill Lee) was the foreman of No. 3. The company 
just before this had purchased a fine large brass trumpet, and 
"Bill" had it on this occasion, of course. His position, or the one 
he took, was on the body of the "machine," between the brakes. 


After the signal from the chief engineer to commence playing 
was given, the excitement was as usual on such occasions, until 
after a few moments it seemed to increase, and "Bill" in his 
eagerness, every time he shouted "Down with her" to the boys, 
he banged this brass trumpet against the "goose neck" until it 
lost all semblance of what it had been, and was but an unshapen 
piece of brass. I have a cut of this affair among my effects some- 
where, clipped from a paper of that date. 



SOME time during the summer of 1832, French & Eldred's 
woolen mill, a short distance to the east of the foot of 

Randolph Street, was destroyed by fire. The same blaze 
ruined the pumping apparatus of Farrand & Wells, and Mr. 
Eldred's store and dwelling near by. It happened on a moonless 
night, about 2 a. m. The buildings were dry and burned like 
tinder. The flames lit up the whole county of Wayne and part 
of Canada, apparently. Out where we lived on Woodward ' 
Avenue, corner of John R. Street, the illumination was so great 
one could see to read by it. 

One early summer morning in 1.837, ^ ^^^ broke out in the 
row of wooden buildings adjoining Dr. J. L. Whiting's ware- 
house on Woodward Avenue. It was thought to have com- 
menced in a bakery adjoining McKenzie & Greaves's store, which 
was nearly enveloped in flames before the alarm was sounded. 
From there it extended with ungovernable fury in all directions 
east of Woodward Avenue, crossed Atwater Street, and swept 
over the buildings between Atwater and Woodbridge Street^ 
The buildings between Woodbridge Street and the river, from 
Woodward as far as the low block (Berthelet row) in front of 
Woodworth's Hotel, on Woodbridge, with two or three excep- 
tions, were a mass of ruins. 

On Atwater Street the fire was arrested at a small building 
below and next to the tavern called the Market Hotel, in the rear 
of the Berthelet market. Included in the loss, besides the ware- 
house of Dr. Whiting and McKenzie & Greaves's grocery store, 
were the extensive grocery house of Franklin Moore, on the cor- 
ner of Woodward Avenue and Atwater Street ; the grocery store 
of Garrison & Holmes on the opposite corner of Woodward Ave- 
nue (where Eaton's now is) ; the Arthur Bronson tavern, north- 
east corner of Woodward Avenue and Woodbridge Street; John 


Farrer's store, on the southeast corner of Bates and Atwater; 
the Detroit PubHc Garden, with buildings, etc., on the northwest 
corner of Bates and Atwater Streets; the entire plant of John 
Roberts, on Atwater Street, between Bates and Randolph, front- 
ing on the river, consisting of a general store, soap and candle 
factory, etc. ; Charles L. Bristol's wooden stores, on the south side 
of Atwater, between Woodward Avenue and Bates Street; 
Knowles Hall's carriage factory and Mr. Sanderson's carriage 
and saddlery shop; the dwelling of H. H. Leroy & Co. 

The late George W. Foote was at that time bookkeeper for 
Franklin Moore, and during the fire he brought the books and 
papers of the concern over to the store of Loomis & Jaquith, oppo- 
site (in which store I was a clerk at the time), arid established a 
temporary office there until things could be straightened out. 

The Detroit Garden was the only place of the kind in the 
city at that time, and its loss was deeply deplored. Dr. Marshal 
• Chapin's residence, midway between Bates and Randolph Streets, 
on Woodbridge Street, was also destroyed. 

BURNING OF ste:ame:r great western. 

One important fire, and so considered at the time, the book 
entitled "Our Firemen" does not make mention of at all, and that 
was the partial burning of the then finest and most magnificent 
steamer on the lakes, the Great Western, while lying at her dock 
(Gillett & Desnoyer's), near foot of Shelby Street. It happened 
about 1838, on a summer Sunday afternoon about 5 o'clock. I 
have forgotten the exact date. She had arrived that forenoon on 
her down trip from Chicago to Buffalo. I was present at the 
fire with engine company No. 4 (that far-off time, it seems but 
yesterday). She was the pride of the lakes, and of her owner 
and commander, Captain Augustus Walker. She was the first 
steamer to have her cabins on the upper deck, passengers hereto- 
fore having had to dive down between decks if they had any idea 
of sleeping or eating, and most of them had. The news that this 
steamer was ablaze spread like wildfire and hurried everyone to 
the scene ; indeed, all Detroit was on hand. The engines hustling 
down Wayne and Shelby Streets came near running over the 
men and boys who had hold of the drag ropes, so wild was the 
excitement. No. 4 engine company came first in this encounter. 
It had its station on the dock, between the warehouse and the 


burning steainer, and three of its members had the post of honor 
during the fire. William Green, the foreman, who had the pipe, 
was assisted by Barney Campau and Kin Dygert. They held the 
fort, so to speak. 

They were stationed on the upper deck of the steamer, abaft 
the wheelhouse. The scene lives in an oil painting by Thomas 
Burnham, a well known local artist of that day. This painting 
is now the property of some citizen of this city, who should, it 
seems to me, donate it to the Art Museum, or to the present fire 
department. The upper cabins of the Great Western, abaft the 
wheelhouses, and the ladies' cabin below, were badly wrecked, 
otherwise the steamer did not sustain much damage. But it was 
a most exciting fire while it lasted, as any one now living who was 
present at the time will, I am sure, bear witness. 

I^IRE 01? JANUARY I, 1842. 

Early on the night of January i, 1842, a fire broke out in the 
New York & Ohio House, situated on Woodward Avenue, mid- 
way between Jeflferson Avenue and Woodbridge Street, and 
swept away the entire block bounded by Woodward and Jeffer- 
son Avenues, Griswold and Woodbridge Streets. 

"It was a fire, as was a fire," and tried the mettle of our vol- 
unteer firemen to the utmost, as no fire that ever preceded it had 
done. The night was mild but windy, with the wind from the 
south ; no snow or rain had fallen for quite a while. We were in 
the midst of a January thaw. All things corfspired to give the 
flames a good time and they had it. Aided by the high wind, they 
came near crossing Woodward Avenue and would have done so, 
perhaps, had it not been for the gallant efforts of our brave fire- 
men. The foremen of No. 2 and No. 4 engine companies, aided 
by their assistants, ran lines of hose to the top of of J. L. King's 
store, on the corner of Woodward and Jefferson Avenues, and 
there, protected by a high wooden balustrade, were enabled to 
keep the fire brands and sparks from getting a foothold on the 
roof of King's store, as well as on the brick building adjoining, 
occupied by McArthur & Hulbert. 

The Bank of Michigan building on Griswold Street had all 
the plate glass in its windows so badly cracked that they had to 
1>e replaced by ordinary glass. The plate glass had been imported 
from France and was the first of its kind to appear in the state. 

344 i:ari.y days in Detroit. 

The panes were not very large, to be sure, only eight by ten, but 
then they were plate glass, nevertheless. The destroyed buildings 
along Jefferson Avenue were speedily replaced by others of brick. 
In addition to Hallock & Raymond's clothing store, Warren's 
candy and confectionery place, the Howard restaurant, and Geo. 
Dawson's, the Detroit Advertiser, the following firms and con- 
cerns were wiped out: A. C. McGraw, boots and shoes; G. & J. 
G. Hill, drugs ; Nelson^ groceries ; Gardner & Mather, crockery ; 
Edward Bingham, drugs; Salisbury, grocer, and the United 
States customs offices. Our engine, No. 4, was stationed that 
night at the reservoir, comer of Jefferson and Woodward Ave- 
nues (the Merrill Block corner). 

tTKB, OF 1848. 

Early iij the forenoon of a June day in 1848 a fire broke out 
in a large yellow warehouse on the river front, between Bates and 
Randolph Streets, occupied by John Chester & Co., and J. Nich- 
olson Elbert. A portion of the upper stories was used by a fur 
dealing firm, the name I have forgotten, for the storage, repack- 
ing and cleaning of furs, ridding them of the fatty portion adher- 
ing to them. Captain J. A. Whitall, United States quartermaster, 
one other person and myself were at the time looking out of the 
back windows of the captain's office that was over the Peninsular 
Bank building on Jefferson Avenue, noticing two or three propel- 
lers that were passing up and down the river. One of these pro- 
pellers was just steaming away from the dock of the yellow ware- 
house, when suddenly an immense billowy cloud of inky smoke 
streaked with jets of flame burst from the rear of the building, 
and in less than a minute the whole structure was a roaring mass 
of fire. Sparks from the propeller had a fine chance to get in their 
work through the open windows of the portion used by the fur 
dealers, and they did it. The cleaning benches and floors were so 
saturated with the grease and oil from the furs that they were as 
tindev. The flames, fanned by a fierce east wind, raged despite 
the efforts of almost the entire population of the city until quite 
along in the afternoon, by which time nearly every building in 
the following described areas was destroyed : 

The entire square now occupied by the Biddle House prop- 
erty, including the residence of E. A. Brush on the corner of 
Brush Street, and the residence of Major John Biddle adjoining; 



the entire square bounded by Woodbridge Street, Atwater, Brush 
and Randolph ; the east half of each square fronting on the west 
side of Randolph Street, between Jefferson Avenue and the river. 
The principal buildings destroyed were the Old Council house, 
in which Sandford Britton had a stock of furniture ; the Berthelet 
market, the Berthelet row, Woodworth's Steam Boat Hotel, Amer- 
ican Hotel (the old Governor Hull mansion), the Indiana Hotel 
in the rear of the Berthelet market, on Atwater Street ; the house 
of engine company No. 3, the Daily Advertiser office, the large 
warehouse belonging to Alex. M. Campau next adjoining the 
yellow warehouse on the east ; also the boat house and all the fine 
boats of the Detroit Boat Club. 


About 300 families were rendered homeless by this disaster. 

In the first story of Alex. Campau's brick building adjoining 
the council house on the west. Bill Clare kept a billiard room, and 
when the fire broke out the two tables were in full blast, but, not- 
withstanding, the game progressed until the iron shutters in the 
rear became so heated that the party thoug-ht it prudent to quit. 
This building, however, did not sustain much damage on account 
of its heavy walls, only a small portion of the roof being destroyed. 
This disastrous fire dealt this portion of the city a blow from 
which it has never recovered. 

The American Hotel, formerly the old Governor Hull man- 
sion, was a historic building, and its loss was much regretted 
on that account. Hull built the house for his own use .on taking 
command of this post in 1812. It was a substantial brick building, 
and the first brick structure of any pretentions erected in Mich- 
igan. After his unfortunate surrender of this post he was suc- 
ceeded in the occupancy of it by, the British General Proctor, who 
made it his headquarters during his brief stay. General Hugh 
Brady, on being assigned to the command of this department, 
made it his headquarters until his own residence was completed, 
where the Art Museum now is. 

The destruction of Ben Woodworth's old Steam Boat Hotel 
was also keenly felt by all, and deeply deplored by the old settlers 
particularly. It had been for years the principal hostelry in all 
the northwest, the headquarters, so to speak, of all the social and 
political life of Detroit and the state. All grand entertainments. 

346 e;ari.y days in Detroit. 

military balls, social parties, bar dinners, etc, were given there 
after the war of 1812, until the completion of the National Hotel 
(Russell House), which latter then shared the honors. 

I was an eye witness (though quite a lad) of a brilliant ball 
given at Woodworth's Hotel on Washington's birthday, shortly 
after the termination of the Patriot war. All the officers of our 
army on duty here were present, as also were the officers and 
members of the Brady Guard and General John R. Williams and 
staff, all in full uniform. The British officers then stationed at 
Sandwich and Maiden, were also present, in full uniform. Quite 
an unusual significance was attached to the presence of the latter 
at this ball. The battle of Waterloo had been fought but a little 
over twenty years at that date, and nearly every British officer 
present had participated in that battle. Some bore scars of the 
conflict, and all who were entitled to do so displayed conspicuously 
on their breasts medals struck in commemoration of that event. 
The fame and genius of that great captain, Napoleon Bonaparte,, 
had so filled the world, while he compelled its attention, that a 
little more thaCn twenty years after his death had passed, way out 
here on the confines of civilization his name and his exploits were 
as fresh as though they had happened the day before, and there- 
fore these men that had been pitted against him on that memor- 
able day were objects of peculiar interest. The side arms worn 
by some of them that night were the same that they wore on the 
day of the battle. 



NOVEMBER 20, 1850, in the early morning, fire broke out in 
the large cupola of the Michigan Central freight building, 
an immense structure for those days, and quite as extensive, 
it seems to me, as the present one. The building and all. its 
contents were lost, including lo freight cars, 15,000 barrels of 
flour, 25,000 bushels of wheat, 2,000 bushels of corn and a quan- 
tity of miscellaneous freight. 

Of the flour, some 1,000 or 1,500 barrels happened to be piled 
on the dock, on the river front. Most of this was rolled into the 
river to save it from the flames, and settlers all along both sides 
of the river to its mouth got the benefit. 

The fire was supposed to be the work of an incendiary, 
through the agency of some kind of an apparatus confined in a 
small box filled with combustibles. It was set to expldtle at a 
certain hour. As free access was had to the cupola during the day 
by persons desiring to get a fine view of the river and opposite 
shore, it was an easy job for a visitor to deposit such an article in 
that locality if so disposed, and quietly and safely wait the result. 

I think the fact of the burning of the depot by one of the 
railroad conspirators was established at their trial for lawless acts 
on their part perpetrated against the Michigan Central Railroad 
Company. I presume many will remember this trial. It came off 
at the Firemen's Hall, this city (I do not remember the date), and 
attracted wide attention. Eminent counsel were engaged on both 
sides, prominent among whom were Colonel John Van Armen, of 
Michigan ; Hon. W. H. Seward, of Auburn, N. Y., and Hon. Eli 
Cook, of Buffalo, N. Y. I was in the court room many times 
during the trial. 

348 e;ari,y days in dettroit. 

the secret agent. 

Mr. Darius Clark, formerly of Marshall, Mich., was quite a 
factor in unearthing this conspiracy. He was a secret agent of 
the railroad 'company, employed for the very purpose of ferreting 
out the "gang." The fact of his appointment was kept a profound 
secret. It was so well guarded that Clark was enabled to join this 
secret conclave of railroad wreckers, and did join, taking all the 
prescribed oaths, and, of course, became one of the "gang," 
attended all the meetings of the "lodge," etc. It is needless to say 
the information he gained was divulged to the railroad people. 
Hence the trial and break up. 

Clark received for his reward from the railroad company, 
among other things, the appointment as its agent in New York 
City, which important position he held for many years to the 
entire satisfaction of the company and the community in general. 
Scores and scores of people, citizens of Michigan particularly, will, 
I am sure, remember Darius Clark, with pleasurable emotions — a 
gentleman of elegant manners and most engaging address. 

The conspirators, for the part he took in their undoing, 
swore vengeance against him, and in consequence Clark steered 
clear of Michigan, and I don't believe he ever visited this or any 
other locality in the state until some time in 1865 or '66. 

DARIUS Clark's guests. 

During the civil war, in the fore part of 1863, Governor 
Blair and party, consisting of Mrs. Blair, Mrs. Gorham, of Jack- 
son; Dr. Tunnicliffe, also of Jackson; John J. Bagley, Colonel 
Fred K. Morley, assistant adjutant-general of the state, and the 
writer visited the army of the Potomac. On the way, we tarried 
some days in New York City, the guests in a great part of Darius 
Clark, who rendered us every attention in his power. The chief 
of police of that city, through Clark's request, put one of the 
small harbor steamers belonging to that department at the dis- 
posal exclusively of Governor Blai;- and his party during their 
stay in the city. 

Clark had some months previous to this solicited of Gover- 
nor Blair the appointment of state sanitary agent at New York 
City, without pay, asking only that he be commissioned colonel 
with the rank of colonel in the state volunteer service, which 
Governor Blair did. There were at that time large numbers of 


DARIUS CLARK AND M. C. R. R. iPiRE IN 1850. 349 

invalid officers and soldiers of MitHigan regiments on leave going 
to and from the army of the Potomac and southern battlefields. 
They necessarily drifted through New York City and there were 
large numbers of sick and wounded soldiers of Michigan regi- 
ments who had been sent to the various hospitals in and around 
New York, particularly the extensive hospital at David's Island. 
To all these Colonel Clark gave a large share of his time and 
attention, visiting them almost daily. He, however, was reim- 
bursed by the governor's order for money expended on account of 
the soldiers, their small expenses, such as tobacco, stationery, per- 
iodicals, newspapers, etc. These accounts were paid regularly by 
the quartermaster-general of the state. 

ASKED ^OR ri:i.ii;f. 

After the war closed, 'Colonel Clark resigned his agency of 
the Michigan Central in New York City and engaged in the whole- 
sale drug business with his brother, Emmons Clark, colonel of the 
celebrated Seventh New York regiment, and another gentleman. 
He also engaged in other ventures. Time passed and sorry to say, 
all of thm came to naught and left him almost penniless. In his 
dilemma he sought relief from the state of Michigan, which he 
claimed to have benefited by his aid and assistance rendered to the 
wounded and invalid soldiers. He at the same time acknowledged 
that in his hour of plenty and supposed remoteness from want, 
he had solicited and taken this state agency without the expecta- 
tion of pay, still he concluded, under the circumstances to make 
an appeal to the legislature of the great State of Michigan for 
relief in this his hour of need. 

He did not in his petition state any sum for services, but 
merely cited the amounts paid to the other sanitary agents of the 
state, Messrs. Benjamin Vernor, Dr. Tunnicliffe and Luther B. 
Willard, i.e., $2CX) per month and office expenses, and left it to 
the discretion of the state officials to pay whatever amount they 
saw fit. Well, a joint resolution looking to Clark's relief was 
introduced in the legislature, second term of Governor Bagley's 
administration, instructing the board of state auditors to examine 
and adjust his claim and make him whatever allowance was 
found to be his due. 

350 eari.y days in dijtroit, 

the; outcome:. 

The resolution was passed along towards the latter part of the 
session. Clark himself and his friends thought, then, he would 
have some show for obtaining relief, not giving themselves the 
least apprehension in regard to the fate of the resolution at the 
hands of the governor, as the latter had not, as far as was known, 
signified the least hostility to the measure. 

Well, Mr. Bagley put the joint resolution in his pocket and it 
never made its appearance from that receptacle. What his 
reasons, good or bad, were, for so doing, I never heard. 

Clark was much cast down on account of the result, and 
finally accepted a subordinate position on the then New York & 
Harlem Railroad, and died in harness, not many years ago, and 
was buried through the kindness of friends (I have understood), 
beside the remains of his wife in the cemetery at Marshall, Mich. 
Peace to his ashes. 

Referring again to the trial of the railroad conspirators, it was 
said at the time that Colonel Van Armen also ingratified himself 
into the good graces of the conspirators, and became, with Clark, 
one of the ''gang." How true this is I do not know. 

Along in 1870 Clark visit Detroit and, during his stay here, he 
made a trip on the Michigan Central Railroad to Jackson, 
Marshall, etc. On the way, when passing the village of Leoni, he 
pointed out to me from the car windows the very house in which 
the secret conclaves of the conspirators were held, when he joined 
them. He was always quite reticent in regard to the part he took 
in the affair, scarcely ever alluding to it. Why- he was so shy, 
I never inquired. 



EARLY on the morning of January 10, 1854, a fire broke out 
in the shoe store of Smith & Tyler, at the northeast corner 
of Woodward Avenue and Larned Street, and before it 
could be gotten under control — the structures being of wood 
and a high wind prevailing — the entire north half of that square 
was destroyed, including the grocery store and sample room of 
George Davie and John Fay, also Bates's merchant tailoring 

Shortly after this fire had been mastered by the firemen, a 
small jet of flame was noticed by a few lookerson (myself among 
the number) issuing from a point high up on one of the wooden 
pillars of the Presbyterian Church on the northwest corner of 
Woodward Avenue and Larned Street. No one appeared to pay 
much attention to this, when all of a sudden, like a flash of light- 
ning, a volume of flame was seen to shoot up in the interior of the 
steeple in which was the belfry and almost in a twinkle it was an 
immense torch of fire. This steeple being of goodly dimensions 
and quite tall, made a most magnificent spectacle, lighting up as it 
did the city and adjoining country. I heard afterwards, many 
citizens of Windsor, Sandwich, Canada, declare that the illumina- 
tion furnished on that occasion was most grand. It appears that 
the fire or flame that was discovered burning on one of the pillars 
in front of the church, proceeded from a pine knot, fat with rosin, 
located in the outer casing of the pillar, it being hollow. It soon 
worked its way through, and then asserted itself, to its heart's 

It was beyond all reach and just rioted. The church was 
completely destroyed, nothing but the walls being left standing. 
It was feared for a while that the burning steeple would fall, either 
into Woodward Avenue, or on the stores of Holmes & Co., 
adjoining on Woodward Avenue, and it was watched with intense 


interest by the spectators. Considerable anxiety was also felt, 
from the fact that the establishment of Holmes & Co. was crowded 
with citizens assisting that firm in removing their stock of goods 
to a place of safety, as they had come to the conclusion that their 
premises must go. 

THE ste;i:pi,e^ fei.Iv. 

Well, soon the steeple was seen to waver, and finally, and 
fortunately fell, with a loud crash into the body of the church, 
Holmes & Co. did not sustain much damage, fortunately. 

The bell of the church was melted by the fierce heat, and the 
metal was cast into a large number of tea bells, and distributed 
among the church members as souvenirs. Dear reader, perhaps 
you are the fortunate possessor of one. 


The compiler of "Our Firemen" aptly says : "No man living 
put in more years of active service or took a greater or more prac- 
tical interest in the affairs of the old volunteer fire department than 
did Wm. Duncan. He has been assistant foreman, foreman, as- 
sistant chief and chief engineer ; he was a member of the original 
fire commission, and as a member of the common council did a 
great deal of work as a member of the committee on fire depart- 
ment. On the Fourth of July, 1875, he entertained the entire fire 
department of the city at his home on Miami Avenue, the mem- 
bers of which, together with other invited guests, constituted a 
company of considerably over one thousand persons who partook 
of his hospitality on that occasion. I was present, and it was a 
lavish and most enjoyable entertainment and the host was at his 

It is sad to relate, that his last days were chilled by the pres- 
ence of want, and of the very many that he had assisted! when 
in affluent circumstances, very few came to his rescue in his hour 
of need. 

I first knew him when he was an apprentice to Cullen Brown, 
in the saddlery and harness business. He was at the same time a 
member of Engine Company No 4, of which company I was also 
a member. We used often in after years, even until a short period 
before his death, to talk over, with a wonderful amount of pleas- 
ure, the stirring times that we had experienced, "running with the 
machine." A thorough fireman was "Bill Duncan," and an all- 
around good fellow withal. 


THE free; press fire. 

I also copy from "Our Firemen" Mr. Duncan's account of a 
fire that partially destroyed the Sheldon Block, now the Willis 
Block, on Jefferson Avenue. I copy it because I was present at 
the fire and can verify the truth of his statement. Mr. Duncan 

"Just after 3 o'clock on the morning of January 4, i%7, fire 
was discovered in what was then called the Sheldon Block, now 
known as the Willis Block, on the north side of Jefferson Avenue, 
between Griswold and Shelby Streets. The weather was intensely 
cold, so that the fire department, in addition to working with inad- 
equate apparatus, met wjth many annoyances and much delay in 
handling the hose. The fire, while it was at last brought under 
control, succeeded in destroying The Free Press office, Henry 
A. Naglee's confectionery store and bakery, Amos Chaffee's 
blacksmith shop and Dr. Rufus Brown's general store, groceries, 
wines and liquors, the total loss amounting to about $23,000 — a 
very considerable blow in those days of wild-cat panic. 

"Near the close of the fire two of the younger members of 
the fire department passed through a scene of danger that was 
considered most thrilling and gave a display of cool-headed deter- 
mination which was the talk of the town for the rest of the winter. 
The store occupied by Doctor Brown was largely filled with drugs, 
oils, turpentine and liquors. It was two stories high, built of brick 
and having a steep pitched roof, so high that the roof-tree and 
gable peaks were ten or fifteen feet higher than the adjoining 
buildings. Owing to the character of its contents Doctor Brown's 
store burned rapidly, untily only the bare brick walls remained. 
Meanwhile the late Mr. John Owen had a position astride the 
ridge of the roof of the adjoining building — a frame structure 
occupied by Cook & Burns as a dry goods store — and only about 
ten feet from the burning building, where he sat holding the 
hose nozzle, and directing a stream on the flames. At the top of a 
ladder, which rested against the eaves of the dry goods store, 
stood the late James Sutton, holding the hose which led up to Mr. 


"Suddenly a cry arose from the several hundred people who, 
standing in the street below, were watching the picture that the 
walls of the Brown building were weaving to and fro. 



" 'The wall is falling !' shouted a fire warden. 'Get away 
from there!' Still Messrs. Owen and Sutton held their position. 
'Get back further/ 'look out, John!' 'SHde down the ladder, Jim!' 
and other warnings sounded, but to no avail. 

"Evidently the young firemen did not hear the cries, for pres- 
ently a large section of the wall came down with a crash, forcing 
its way through the roof of the dry goods store, and sending up a 
great cloud of smoke, cinders and fire, completely hiding Messrs. 
Owen and Sutton from view, and so far as the crowd could guess, 
carrying the entire roof and the two men down among the ruins. 
In a few minutes, however, when the smoke had cleared away, this 
anxiety was relieved by the sight of Mr. Owen still astride the 
ridgepole and sending water down into the flames, while Mr. Sut- 
ton, fairly covered with ashes, dust and smoke, was clinging to the 
hose in his old position. They had not been hurt, although the 
wreck made by the falling wall was within six feet of them ; 
so close, indeed, that when the falling brick had ignited the 
crushed-in roof, Mr. Owen found it advisable to retreat about ten 
feet. There he remained, however, with Mr. Sutton, a loyal com- 
panion, until the fire was stopped. By this act the entire eastern 
one-third of the block in question was saved from destruction." 


In 1849, while Mr. Duncan was chief engineer of the Volun- 
teer Fire Department, a fire broke out in Windsor on the night 
of April 6, and as far as appearances from this side indicated, the 
City of Windsor was in danger of being wiped out by fire. Dou- 
gall's large brick store on the west side of Ferry Street and abut- 
ting on the river, was a mass of flames and a high wind was pre- 
vailing. After a delay of an hour and a half, owing to the absence 
of the ferry boat, Duncan was enabled to send only one engine 
(No. 5) across, and that was by a small steam boat called the 
Hastings, that he happened to see make a landing at the foot of 
Shelby Street. The reason why only one engine was sent across 
the river was owing to the smallness of the Hastings. Duncan, 
however, at the timely suggestion of Mr. John Owen, took over at 
the same time 250 feet additional of hose, which addition saved the 
City of Windsor many, many thousands of dollars. 

When Chief Duncan and his men reached the scene nearly an 
acre of territory had been burned, and the northwest wind was 

he:roic work of voi.unt£;£;r fire:me:n. 355 

sending a mass of cinders and flame directly towards the large 
frame hotel known as the Windsor Castle, which stood directly 
opposite the site of the present Crawford House. 

About two hours and a half after the landing of the boat, the 
Detroit firemen being augmented in the meantime, by the arrival 
of Engine Company No. 2, on board the steamer Ariel, the flames 
were subdued, the fire completely checked. It was a fierce, stub- 
born fight, and the firemen that particularly distinguished them- 
selves in connection with Chief Duncan, as hoseman and pipeman 
were : Andrew Young, A. P. Copeland, Joseph P. Rhodes, Wil- 
liam Hopkins and J. P. Rosenburg. For reasons unexplained the 
ferry boats did not visit Detroit that night. 

LOSS WAS $30,000. 

Following is a list of the buildings that were destroyed : Dou- 
gall's dry goods store, two warehouses. Hunt's hardware store, 
and packing house, customs office, a restaurant, the Queen's Hotel, 
brick school house and dwelling, Mr. Richard's bakery and dwell- 
ing, four large frame barns (and four horses) besides several 
small outbuildings. The total loss was $30,000. Had it not been 
for the Detroit firemen the loss would, at least, have been double 
the amount. 

The Windsor people entertained the Detroit firemen right 
royally, "gave them the best they had in the shop," of course, and 
the day following called a pubHc meeting of citizens which was 
held at the Windsor Castle Hotel, at which meeting an address of 
thanks was unanimously adopted to Wm. Duncan, chief engineer 
of the fire department of the city of Detroit, and the two fire com- 
panies under his command on the occasion. They also voted a 
silver trumpet to the volunteer firemen of Detroit. The trumpet 
was procured, properly inscribed and on July 2, 1849, the same 
was presented to Mr. Duncan, as chief engineer of the volunteer 
fire department of the City of Detroit. 

The firemen were drawn up in a hollow square at the foot of 
Woodward Avenue, and received the committee on presentation, 
consisting of Colonel Arthur Rankin, chairman; John McEwan. 
Esq., sheriff; P. E. Verhoeff, merchant; H. Kennedy and J. 
McCrae, also merchants, preceded by the German band, playing 
"God Save the Queen," and escorted by the mayor, chief engineer 
and officers and member of the fire department. 



The presentation speech was made by Colonel Rankin and the 
same was responded to by Chief Duncan, who received the gift in 
behalf of the department. Hon. Jas. A. Van Dyke then made a 
brief but interesting and eloquent address, after which the com- 
mittee on presentation, accompanied by President James A. Van 
Dyke, of the fire department; Vice President Georg Foote, Chief 
Engineer Duncan, and the assistant engineers, honorary members. 
General Cass, Doctor Pilcher, Wm. Barclay and others, with 
invited guests, partook of a dinner at the National Hotel, given by 
the fire department committee, consisting of James A. Van Dyke, 
David Smart and Stanley G. Wight. 

The trumpet in question is at present among the most valued 
mementoes of the Detroit Fire Department and is in the keeping 
of its chief. 

I m'entiop these incidents in regard to Chief Duncan almost 
at length, as I was an eye witness to all. 

The pages of "Our Firemen," where a complete account of 
the Windsor fire is given, served to refresh my memory in some 



AMONG the good firemen of the old Detroit volunteer 
department were many men whose names became famous 
in the history of this city and are familiar to the old resi- 
dents. Among the capable fire fighters were : 

Wm. Duncan, Wm. H. Lum, Wm. Moors, Peter McGinnis, 
Wm. R. Noyes, Jr., Wm. C. Ryan, Benj. Sparling, Wm. B. 
Wesson, Morgan L. Gage, John J. Garrison, Henry H. Leroy, 
Hugh Moffat, John D. Fairbanks, John Pulford, Alpheus S. 
Williams, Henry R. Mizner, Mark Flannigan, Wm. D. Wilkins, 
Chas. M. Lum, Jacob Houghton, Chris. Baby, Ananias McMillan, 
Cornelius Ockford, Geo. W. Patterson, Wm. Lee, Ben Clark, 
Jas. W. Gilbert, Abijah Joy, Kin Dygert, Oliver Bourke, Frank 
Eldred, Henry J. Canniff, Ed. Kearsley, Wm. Barclay, Alvah 
Ewers, Wm. P. Doty, Dave Esdell, D. J. L. Whiting, Jerome 
Croul, Robert W. King, John Kendall, Wm. Adair, Sam Clem- 
ents, Ben Keeney, Charles A. Trowbridge, Henry M. Roby, John 
Y. Petty, Chas. S. Adams, Jacob S. Farrand, Chas. R. Desnoyers, 
Geo. Foote, Nick Greusel, Chauncy Hurlbut, Theo. H. Hinch- 
man, John Owen, Robt. E. Roberts, James W. Sutton, Christian 
Buhl, Jas. A. Van Dyke, Chas. Vail, Henry T. Buckley, Barney 
Campau, Lucretius H. Cobb, Harman DeGraff, Lafayette Knapp, 
David O. Lum, Sam Lewis, Henry L. Newberry, Geo. Doty, 
Francis Raymond, Eben N. Wilcox, O. B. Wilcox, Stanley G. 
Wight, Wm. N. Carpenter, P. E. Demill, Anson Eldred, Elisha 
Eldred, Matthew Gooding, Jeremiah Godfroy, J. S. Jenness, Ben 
G. Stimson, David Smart, Pierre Teller, Anson Burlingame, John 
Campbell, Henry P. Dequinder, Theo. Williams, Robert McMil- 
lan, James R. ElHott, Robert T. Elliott, Andrew J. Brow, W. S. 
Penfield, Tom Gillett, John Patton, Ben Vernor, A. A, Rice, 


Edward Shepard, Noah Sutton, Asa P. Morman, Joseph Leroy, 
WilHam Green, first fireman No. 4, David R. Pence, George 
Osborne, Tom Hurst, Samuel G. Caskey. 


A large number of the members of the old organization 
gained distinction in after life on the battlefield, as statesmen, 
diplomats, scientists and otherwise. The late Zachariah Chandler 
and the late H. P. Baldwin head the list as United States sen- 
ators; Anson Eurlingame, as minister of the United States to 
China; J. Logan Chipman, as a congressman, and the following 
as distinguished soldiers : General O. B. Wilcox, Colonel Mar- 
shall Chapin, Colonel John D. Fairbanks, Colonel Whittlesey^ 
General John Pulford, General A. S. Williams, General Henry 
R. Mizner, Colonel Mark Flannigan, Colonel Wm. D. Wilkins, 
Colonel Chas. M. Lum, Colonel Nick Greusel and Colonel Robt. 
T. Elliott ; Robert Hopkin in art ; and in science Jacob Houghton ; 
in diplomacy, Anson Burlingame. Many filled the office of mayor 
of the city, as, for instance, Zach. Chandler, John Patton, O. M. 
Hyde, Wm. C. Duncan, Hugh Moffat, Alex. Lewis and some 
others. Henry L. Chipman, brother of Hon. J. Logan Chipman, 
died a lieutenant in the United States navy. Colonel J. B. Gray- 
son, United States commissary, at one time stationed here, was 
foreman of No. 3. 


I copy from "Our Firemen" what it says in regard to the 
opposition the firemen met with from the citizens in regard to 
the former using the sidewalks in running to fires : 

"One of the chief obstacles met by the hand engine men was 
the continuous effort to prevent their use of the sidewalks in ' 
running to fires. The most persistent objector in this respect was 
Major Kearsley, who, whenever a fire alarm was sounded, at 
once took a position in front of his property, at the corner of 
Jefferson Avenue and Randolph Street. Being somewhat crip- 
pled he carried a crutch, which he would shake at the racing men 
as they would refuse to get out of the way, and so cause the fire- 
men to turn into the street. At last this obstacle was overcome 
by detailing two men to run ahead, whenever there was a run 
in front of Major Kearsley 's place. 


"These men would very carefully and good-naturedly pick 
up the irascible old gentleman and carry him out of the way, hold 
him there until the machine had passed. An opposite to the 
major was the late General John R. Williams, who lived at the 
corner of Woodward and Grand River Avenues. On one occa- 
sion, in making a run over the sidewalk in front of the general's 
house, the wheels of No. 5 ripped ofif thirty or forty pickets from 
the fence, besides taking off the gate hinges. The general 
appeared at his front door en-deshabile to wave his hand deprecat- 
ingly at Foreman George C. Codd, but when the boys returned 
from the fire they repaired, by special invitation, to General Wil- 
liams' residence, where they were most hospitably supplied with an 
abundanc of hot coffee and lunch." 

FUN e:nrout^. 

I can testify to the truth of the foregoing as far as regards 
the annoyance the citizens sustained, as also the damage done to 
the sidewalks. I myself used, sometimes, to wonder why the citi- 
zens took it as patiently as they did. It did not make any differ- 
ence what the condition of the street was — good, bad or indifferent 
— on an alarm being sounded, out would rush the engines and up 
or down the sidewalks they would go, regardless. The foreman 
hallooed himself hoarse through his trumpet, the two stalwart men 
hold of the tongue guiding the machine into every box, barrel, or 
wood pile in its way or out of it, and knocking it into "kingdom 
come." It was just glorious, the boys a-hold of the drag ropes 
almost wild with excitement — what could the average citizen do 
under the circumstances, except protest as Major Kearsley used to 
do ? But I am satisfied, it is quite safe to say, that no detail of men 
was ever made to run ahead, whenever there was a run in front of 
the major's premises, and carefully and good-naturedly pick up 
the irascible old gentleman and carry him out of the way, holding 
him there until the machine had passed. It would not have been 
a healthful proceeding at all, as all who knew him will bear 


I also copy from the same source (because it is so true) what 
is said in regard to the gratuitous furnishing of hot coffee by the 
ladies of the neighborhood in which the fire happened to be 


"Speaking of hot cQffee. It was an invariable and necessary 
feature of the life of a fireman in those days. No matter as to the 
locaHty of the fire, it was a certainty, if the fire amounted to any- 
thing worth mention, that the ladies in that neighborhood would 
appear with their big pitchers of hot coffee, royally brewed and 
delightfully served. Then, too, if the fire was a mere trifle, or if 
the alarm had been a false one they were certain of finding a good, 
stiff pot of hot coffee awaiting them on their return to the engine 



A GREAT feature of the Volunteer fire department in the 
early days was its social side, i. e., the annual firemen's 
ball, a function that was kept up for years. These balls 
always took place in midwinter and were looked forward to as 
the event of the year. Every woman of a dancing age, high and 
low, was invited, and months before the happy event came the 
office of the secretary of the fire department was besieged by 
anxious male visitors to ascertain if the names of their female 
friends were on the indexed invitation book of the secretary. 

The latter's position was no sinecure at that time and he had 
to call in outside help to pull him through. I myself with many 
other members of the department, used to spend hours and hours 
correcting the lists and names, adding new ones, etc., also assist- 
ing in filling in names in the blank spaces on the printed invita- 
tions and directing them. Each invitation to give it greater sig- 
nificance had to bear on its face the broad seal of the department. 
This was plainly impressed on a large disc of gold surfaced paper, 
and then pasted on to the face of the invitation — quite an elaborate 
affair, that consumed some time and called for considerable care 
in getting them just right. 


These balls were always given at the National Hotel (Russell 
House), and for weeks almost before the long-looked-for night 
came decorators were busy making ready for the event the large 
dining hall of the hotel. 

And when the night did come, ah, me ! what a flutter the fair 
portion of the town was in, to be sure. Their particular flutter 
consisted in, wondering if they would be called for by some one of 
the committee designated for that purpose and mentioned in the 
invitation ("All ladies will be called for, and after the ball escorted 


to their homes"). Well, I never knew of any mishap on account 
of facilities in getting the fair portion of the town to and from 
these balls. 

Here once a year all the city, high and low, met on the same 
level. The first society was always largely represented, particu- 
larly the younger, dancing, portion, the boys of their set nearly all 
being active members of the department. Any way, they were 
very democratic affairs, all around, enjoyed by all who participated 
in them, I am sure. I neglected to say that the invitations desired 
all ladies who required an escort to the ball to so inform the secre- 
tary, and some one of the committee would call for thern. 


The fire wardens, "Leather Heads," as the boys used to call 
them, were quite a feature in the Volunteer fire department. It 
was their business to provide recruits from the idle and curious 
spectators present at a fire, to man the brakes when the firemen 
became exhausted, which was often the case, particularly at a 
protracted, stubborn fire. 

They wore the usual fireman's uniform and leather hat and 
carried as a badge of office and authority a staff about six feet 
long, painted white and tipped with gold leaf. They were clothed 
with sufficient authority to arrest anyone who refused to ^york on 
the brakes. 

I recall these names of some of our citizens who at various 
times served as fire wardens, men most of whom had served as 
active firemen, but who were incapacitated through various 
causes from serving as such any longer : Levi Cook, Mason 
Palmer, John Palmer, James Williams, Alex. H. Adams, Alvah 
Ewers, Jonas Titus, John Farrer, John Farmer, Darius Lamson, 
M. F. Dickinson. They rendered most efficient service, and often 
without their aid the boys at the brakes would have had a weary 
time, and the devouring element a better show. 


The Free Press in its issue April 9, 1899, has a very faithful 
reproduction of the old Fort Wayne engine that was manned by 
No. 3 boys, also of a hand pump engine built in 1830, presumably 
the new No. 3 that usurped the place of the old one. The hand 


pumping engines that followed' Protection No. i and 2 were about 
all alike. 

Our volunteer fire department came to be so efficient that 
its name and fame were heralded abroad, as was the name and 
fame of our Brady Guards and many invitations from eastern fire 
companies to tournaments were received and accepted, leaving the 
city to the care of their brother firemen of other companies. The 
tournaments consisted of quick runs, laying lines of hose, pumping 
streams to a great distance and other contests which put into 
requisition all their speed and strength and skill. Eastern fire 
companies used, of course, to return these visits, which were con- 
sidered field days by the members of our department. 

One visit of this kind I call to mind, and that was by a com- 
pany from Syracuse, N. Y. They came without an invitation and 
unheralded. The first intimation our department had of their 
arrival was a notice from Uncle Oliver Newberry that a fire 
engine company from Syracuse, N. Y., with their apparatus had 
lande/1 at his dock and wanted to know what he should do with 
them, and at the same time suggested that the department officials 
look after them. The fire alarms were sounded at once and out 
came the whole fire department. In cases where the location of a 
fire was not known the practice was to assemble at the corner of 
Woodward and Jefferson Avenues, and ascertain its whereabouts, 
then pitching for all they were worth. On coming together at the 
point I have named, the chief engineer gave the information that 
an eastern fire dompany was at our gates, knocking for admis- 
sion. The entire department with its apparatus headed by the 
chief engineer and James A, Van Dyke, its president, at once 
repaired to Newberry's dork at the foot of Second Street, where 
they found the Syracuse Company modestly waiting, as their fore-r 
man said, to see what their welcome would be, coming as they did, 
uninvited and unannounced, though down in their hearts they 
were sure it would be cordial, as indeed it was. 


President Van Dyke, in his usual happy manner, welcomed 
them to the city and to its hospitalities, assuring them that they 
could have the best there was ''in the shop." Then all hands 
repaired to the Firemen's Hall, corner of Larned and Bates 
Streets, where more speech-makinp- was had, a brief welcome by 


the mayor, etc. The foreman of the Syracuse company was 
elevated to the top of a convenient barrel in No. One's house, and 
told his story amid much laughter and applause — that his com- 
pany had determined to visit the Detroit fire department, willy 
nilly, whose reputation was being continually buzzed in their 
ears, and see for themselves. He at the same time alluded to 
General Lewis Cass in happy terms, intimating that the citizens 
of Detroit ought to be proud to count among them as one of the 
citizens such an eminent statesman, and intimated that it would 
give himself and his brother firemen from the salt district great 
pleasure to pay their respects in person to the general, if the 
opportunity was afforded them. Word to that effect was gotten 
to the general directly, who responded, saying he would be much 
pleased to welcome the Syracuse firemen, as well as the Detroit 
fire department, at his residence on West Fort Street that after- 
noon at 3 o'clock. 

ente:rtaine:d by gene:ral cass. 

At the appointed hour the fire laddies were on hand. The 
general and family welcomed them very cordially; the house, 
crowded with rare paintings, statuary and bric-a-brac, gathered 
during their residence in Paris, was thrown open for their 
inspection. Refreshments were served in the large dining room, 
and after the boys had made a terrible slaughter of the sparkling 
champagne and rare wines that the general had brought from 
France, the foreman of the visiting company, a nervous little 
chap, made an eulogistic speech to the host that fairly staggered 

The general, perhaps, had no idea, until he was informed of 
it on that occasion, that he was so distinguished a personage. 
He, however, replied quite briefly, and in chosen words expressed 
the pleasure and gratification it afforded him to welcome at his 
home the Detroit firemen and their guests. 

INTERESTING portrait. 

An interesting incident occurred on this occasion that has 
always remained fresh in my memory, so much so that I will 
relate it. In the generals dining-room a full length portrait of 
Marshal Soult, in full uniform, occupied a conspicuous position 
at its head. It attracted the attention of all, of course, and par- 


ticularly that of the visiting firemen, who expressed much curios- 
ity in regard to its history. The general said, that during his 
mission at the Court of St. Cloud, as the representative of this 
government, the marshal and himself (the former being minister 
of war) were on the most intimate terms, diplomatically as well 
as socially (a mutual admiration society, as it were) and that on 
the eve of his departure from France the marshal had this por- 
trait of himself painted, and presented to him, as a memento, and 
as a mark of his regard. The general said, further, that it was a 
fine likeness of Napoleon's celebrated marshal, as he then was, 
and that he set great store by it. I presume the painting is in 
existence somewhere yet. 

The general did not say that he gave his picture in. return, 
but it is fair to presume that he did. After a characteristic speech 
from President James A. Van Dyke, the firenlen took leave of 
their host and his family, with warm expressions of pleasure the 
visit had "aflforded. 

VISITORS WFRK de:i.ighTe:d. 

The Syracuse firemen left for their homes the following 
day, highly delighted with their visit, and, as they put it, "over- 
whelmed with hospitality." I do not remember whether any of 
our Detroit fire companies returned the visit or not, but presume 
they did. There are no doubt some members of the old fire 
department living that will call to mind this, visit of the Syracuse 
fire company. 

There were many other fires that occurred during my mem- 
bership in the Volunteer fire department, that I have ' not 
mentioned in this connection, as I did not happen to be present 
at them. Those that I do mention, I was an eye-witness of. The 
burning of the Detroit Gazette, the burning of the French & 
Eldred's woolen mill, also the fire of 1832, corner of Jefferson 
Avenue and Griswold (Ives' corner), happened before I became 
a fireman, but I saw them all the same. It is needless to say I 
did not witness the fire of 1805. 



THE action of our early town fathers upon the subject of 
fires forms a curious chapter in our municipal history, 
especially when taken in connection with the fact of the 
entire destruction of the town by fire soon after. But it is 
easily accounted for by the fact that the town within the pickets 
were mainly composed of old dry wooden buildings, standing 
close together upon very narrow streets — mere lanes — and 
crowded into a space between where Griswold Street now is on 
one side and Wayne on the other, and extending from the river, 
which then came up near to Woodbridge Street to a lane a little 
north of Larned Street, covering but little more than two acres of 

The trustees of the town first met February 9, 1802. There 
being no printing press here to give the inhabitants notice of the 
act of incorporation, a meeting was called by the trustees for 
February 15 to have the act read to them, of which meeting writ- 
ten notice in both French and English was served upon each 
householder. This meeting held, the first official act of the trus- 
tees was to pass an ordinance of seventeen sections, "for the better 
securing of the said town against injuries by fire." Some of its 
provisions are worthy of attention. 


Chimneys were to be swept once in two weeks in winter and 
once in four weeks in summer, before 9 o'clock Saturday evening. 
If a chimney took fire there was a fine of $10. Every householder 
was to be provided with a tight barrel, to have ears of ropes on 
each side with lever to pass through, so as to enable two men to 
move it when full, to where it was wanted. The barrel was always 
to be kept full of water, where it could not freeze. They were also 


to be provided with two buckets of three gallons each, and a 
ladder on the roof to each chimney, and one from the ground to 
the roof. In addition each shopkeeper was to provide one bag, 
afterwards two, to hold three bushels, which, on the first alarm, 
he was to take with his buckets of water, to the fire. On the first 
■cry of fire, the housekeepers were to turn out every male capable 
of assisting, and the men thus turned out were to form in a line 
to carry water from the river. These and various other regula- 
tions were enforced by penalties varying from $5 to $25. 

MANY i^ine:s. 

Committees were appointed to visit every house, and report 
to the board violations of the ordinance. A large portion of the 
town records for three years is taken up with these reports, and 
with the fines inflicted for the breaches of the ordinance. The 
ordinance was adopted on March 10, and by the 29th, less than 
twenty days, fifty-one fines had been imposed. These fines seem 
to have been distributed with remarkable impartiality. Many of 
the first citizens were among the victims; including four of the 
five trustees, John Asher, John Dodema, James Henry, and 
Joseph Campau, and the well known secretary, Peter Andrain. 
Among the others fined were Robert Abbott, Peter Desnoyers, 
George Meldrum, Dr. Scott, Dr. Eberts, Judge McNiff, and Rev. 
Mr. Bacon (father of the late Rev. Dr. Bacon, of New Haven, 
Conn., who was a native of this city). 

The reports of these committees of examination were some- 
times very curious. Some families had frozen barrels, others 
empty ones ; others barrels with one ear, others with no ears, and 
some had no barrels at all ; some no buckets, some but one ; others 
had no levers, others had two short ones ; some shopkeepers had 
no fire bags — some had them filled with flour, others with goods, 
and Mr. Ten Eyck is reported as having h^s filled with muskrats. 

John R. Williams was fined 75 cents because the water in his 
bucket was frozen. Elijah Brush (father of the late Edmund A. 
Brush) was complained of for having ladders that were too short 
in front and at the rear of his house. Mr. Woolsey was fined 
because he had neither poles, buckets nor barrels about his prem- 
ises, and Robert Abbott was fined $3 for failing to have his chim- 
ney cleaned. 



Authentic tradition informs us that one of our most respect- 
able matrons on seeing the examiners coming, and finding her 
barrels without water, as they approached crept into the barrel, 
exclaiming, "Gentlemen, you can't say that my barrel is empty." 
That woman was not fined. The very last recorded act of the 
trustees before the great fire of 1805 was to provide that these 
examiners should go over the whole town once a week. This 
was on the nth of May, 1805, just one month before the destruc- 
tion of the city. 


The fire of 1805, which destroyed "Old Detroit," has often 
been described by eye-witnesses. Some of the descriptions have 
already been published, but I think this clipping from one of our 
morning papers in 1855, in relation to it, may not be out of place : 
. The boundaries of the town at the period of the fire were as 
follows : the western extremity was on a line with Wayne Street, 
the northern Larned Street, the eastern Griswold vStreet and the 
southern the river.. The houses were usually composed of logs, 
clapboarded, and one story in height. The number of inhabi- 
tants may closely be estimated by the list of losses published below 
multiplied by four. The fire broke out about 9 o'clock m the 
morning of June 11, 1805, in the stable of a baker named John 
Harvey. The stable stood between Wayne and Shelby Streets, 
on the north side of JeflFerson Avenue. The wind was south by 
southeast, and was so violent aS to carry cinders as far as Crosse 
Pointe. The flames spread so rapidly that in spite of the exer- 
tions of the citizens nothing remained but an old warehouse 
located on Wayne Street, subsequently occupied by Henry J. 
Hunt. Few of the inhabitants saved any of their personal prop- 
erty except those who were wise enough to cart their effects to the 
commons. An old fire engine formerly owned by the British was 
brought into requisition, but to little purpose. The only recourse 
for the afflicted families was to find shelter in residences along the 
river. These were too few to accommodate all the sufferers, and 
common board shanties were erected on what was then called the 
commons, which at that time extended from Griswold to Ran- 
dolph Streets. Fortunately the weather was mild. When a 
violent storm arose the inhabitants would rush out of doors for 
fear that their frail shelters would tumble down. One evening a 



blind horse owned by Henry Berthelet walked into one of the 
board shanties occupied by Conrad Seek and family, and full pos- 
session was given before the brute would be expelled. 

The following is nearly a complete statement of the losses, 
as presented by heads of families to the committee authorized to 
receive their clams. The original inventory was in the possession 
of the late Peter Desnoyers : 

James May, i 1,000. 

— Mackintosh, i 1,000. 

John Watson, £550. 

Dr. Brown, ^550. 

James Dodemead, £4,060. 

G. Meldrum, £3,000. 

R. J. Abbott and Mary Abbott, 

James Henry, £2,300. 
Church and Presbytery, £6,000. 
Conrad Seek, £260. 
Robinson & Martin, £2,500. 
James Fraser, £500. 
Peter J. Desnoyers, £392. 
John B. Piquet, £320. 
G. Godfroy, Jr., £850. 
John Connor, £420. 
Rev. G. Richard, £250: 
Augustin Lafoy, £800. 
A. Home, £256. 
William Allen,^£i20. 

Joseph Voyez, £800. 
John Gentle, £500. 
Mrs. Cote, £400. 
— Lafleuer, £400. 
Mrs. Provencal, £400. 
Mrs. Coates, £450. 
Mer Gobiel, £450. 
Daniel McNeal, £480. 
D. McClain, £240. 
Peter Audrain, £650. 
John Harvey, £400. 
John WiUiams, £150. 
Mr. Frere, £240. 
George Smart, £372 5s. 
Daniel Lazelete, £701 3s. 4d. 
Joseph Thiebault, £7,711 7s. 
Abraham Cook, £955. 
Jacques Girardin, £400. 
Thomas Welch, £215. 
Peter Chartron, £31. 
.Archibald Horner, £637 5s. 

The statement of losses suffered by Joseph Campau, Forsyth 
& Smith, Messrs. Saunders & Donovan, William Robertson and 
Dr. Wilkinson are not to be found. 





THE Knaggs house (Hubbard farm), built about 1790, long 
since destroyed, stood on th& west side of Knaggs Creek, 
twenty feet back from the road, on what is now the corner 
of River Street and Swain Avenue. As I have already men- 
tioned, Knaggs Creek was obliterated by the Ives Brothers when 
they built their dry dock there. The latter was taken down in 
1845. A windmill stood on the river bank in front of the Knaggs 

The mouth of Knaggs Creek was said to be in 18 12 about 
300 feet wide, and came up to within a few yards of the Knaggs 
house. At the mouth there were growing in 1827 about three 
acres of wild rice that attracted vast multitudes of wild duck 
and large numbers of blackbirds. 

In connection with this old house I quote from remembrance 
of the late Colonel James Knaggs, son of Whitmore Knaggs, 
who was born in the house. It may be of interest to some to 
repeat it here: 

"Whitmore Knaggs, my father, was born in Detroit in 1763, 
the same year Pontiac tried to carry out his famous plan of 
driving the English out of Detroit and the other forts on the 
western frontier. On July 31, 1763, a party of the Detroit gar- 
rison under Captain Dalzell made a sortie, and at Bloody Run 
were defeated by Pontiac with great loss. 

"After his triumph Pontiac invited the leading French resi- 
dents, including Peter Descompts Labadie, who afterwards 
became the father of my mother, to a grand feast in honor of 
the victory. There was plenty of fish and fowl but no liquors. 
After the feast was over Pontiac said to Labadie : 'How did you 
like the meat? It was. very good young beef, was it not? Come 
here, I will show you what you have eaten,' and Pontiac then 
opened a sack that was lying on the ground behind him, and 


took out the bloody head of an EngHsh soldier. Holding it up 
by the hair, he said with a grin, 'There's the young beef.* Laba- 
die took one look, his stomach turned and he ejected all he had 
eaten. The dusky warrior jeered at him and said he was nothing 
but an old squaw. He described the young beef as very tender 
and quite appetizing until Pontiac's revelation. He also says 
that General Hull was also a frequent visitor at tlie old house. 
Governor Cass and Governor Woodbridge called frequently. 
Tecumseh, the celebrated Indian chief, and his brother called 
several times to see my father." 

James A. Armstrong lived down that way on the River 
Road, but considerably later than 1827. He lived near the 
'Xabadie house," still standing, just below the Governor Porter 
house, since owned and occupied by Colonel Sylvester Larned. 

After Mr. Armstrong vacated the house Judge Bacon, of 
Lake Superior fame, was its tenant. He was a jovial man and 
all-around free liver. Many of the present day will no doubt 
recall him. The house owned and occupied by Colonel Lar- 
ned near the gas works, mentioned above, was commenced by 
Territorial Governor George H. Porter, but never finished by 
him. He was carried off by the cholera in 1834. The house was 
of brick and designed to be the finest in Michigan. It had 
reached only one story and a half at the governor's death and 
then stopped. It was roofed over in a sort of way to protect it 
from the weather and remained in that condition for many years, 
when it was taken by Colonel Larned, who put on a substantial 
roof without increasing the height of walls and it so remains to 
this day. 


I remember Governor Porter very well. He was a Pennsyl- 
vanian, a fine-looking gentleman and well liked here. He was 
exceedingly horsey and brought with him a fine stud of thorough- 
breds. Mrs. Porter was a fine-looking woman but rather stout, 
whereas the governor was of slight build. He had two sons, 
Hume and Andrew, who remained here with Mrs. Porter for 
. quite a while after the governor's death. Hume was a lawyer 
and moved to Washington to practice his profession. He was 
at one time Assistant Secretary of War under Polk. Andrew 
got an appointment in the army and became colonel or brigadier 
general. He was provost marshal general at Washington and 


Alexandria, Va., at outbreak of the civil war and had for his aid 
Captain Trowbridge, U. S. A., son of C. C. Trowbridge. He 
married Maggie Biddle, daughter of Colonel John Biddle, after 
whom the Biddle House was named. Hume and Andrew are 
both dead. 

The Brevoort house, occupied by Commodore Brevoort, 
was built by Robert Navarre about the year 1740, that and the 
Labadie house, built the same year, were standing in 1885, just 
above 24th Street, on what was commonly known as River Road, 
but now River Street. The Lafferty house, which was demol- 
ished some years ago, was built about 1750. 


On the River Road, in Springwells, in front of the old 
Lafferty homestead, was a conspicuous mark in the landscape. 
It is known to have been planted a few years before the close of 
1750 and was a striking example of the period required for the 
elm to produce a respectable shade. In 1862 the trunk measured 
four feet from the ground, was ten feet in circumference, which 
dimensions it held to the limbs. At ten feet the trunk parted 
into seven branches, each of which was in size a considerable 
tree. It stood within the fence and its limbs extended over 100 
feet. One by one its seven limbs were ruthlessly cut away by the 
axe and finally the main trunk succumbed to the iron march of 
improvement, otherwise it might have stood for centuries the 
glory of the neighborhood. I myself have often rested under its 
shade while a boy in the early thirties and forties and wondered 
at its vigorous aspect. The Loranger house, part of which was 
standing in 1885, was built about 1730. The Lafontaine house 
was standing just below the Loranger farm, between the river 
and the road. It was occupied as a school house about 1835, the 
Lafontaines having moved to Monroe, Mich. I attended a spell- 
ing bee or spelling school there one night sometime along in 
1835. The late Edward Jerome was the pedagogue par excel- 
lence of that time. He accepted a challenge from the 
Springwells school teacher to see which school could spell the 
other down. Well, it was a pretty tough job, but we came off 
victorious. During all the long years after between that time 
and Mr. Jerome's death, whenever I met him, he would always 
allude to that time and with the greatest glee. He was a model 

the; oIvD river road. 373 

teacher, as many now living can testify. He understood his bus- 
iness in all the minor branches, but did not go into Latin, Greek 
and that sort of thing. He was most kind and considerate to 
those scholars that got their lessons and behaved themselves, but 
a terror to those who did otherwise. Some of the most unruly 
boys that ever existed lived in Detroit at that time and our friend 
Jerome had his hands full teaching the young ''idea how to 
shoot." Aside from the city boys he had some pretty rough 
specimens during the winter months, boys who drifted into the 
city from the lakes after navigation closed. But he was equal 
to the occasion and always came off best. 

The Lafontaine house, though seemingly strongly built, 
tumbled down of itself soon after this, leaving only its stone 
chimneys standing, bare and naked for some years after. 

Peter Godfroy lived on the Godfroy farm, fronting on 
River Road. The house was of recent construction compared 
with the others I have mentioned. I think Mr. Godfroy once 
lived at corner of Woodward Avenue and Woodbridge Street, 
about 1827, and while living there he built the house I mentioned 
on this farm and occupied it about that time. The corner I men- 
tion belongs yet to the Godfroy estate. 

This side of Godfroys lived lat^r on Mr. Charles Bissell, 
dry goods merchant, and later on in the forwarding and com- 
mission business, in which he was engaged at time of his death. 
Charley Bissell was a handsome man but exceedingly brusque 
and sometimes overbearing, a terror to his clerks. One of the 
clerks in his dry goods store on corner of Jefferson Avenue and 
Griswold Street (site of the old store of Thomas Palmer), J. 
Hyatt Smith, afterwards a distinguished Baptist divine, and a 
member of Congress, and one of my particular chums used to 
repeat to me some of his grievances in that direction. But in 
his home and private life it was said Mr. Bissell was all he 
should have been. 

Later on Ladue & Eldred had a large tannery opposite the 
old Lafferty house, and just below them Brooks & Adams had a 
lumber yard, and this side of them Hubbard & King had a saw 
mill and lumber yard. The Bissell residence, Ladue & Eldred, 
Hubbard & King's lumber yard are all within the memory of the 
present generation, and I think all have given place to other uses. 




BEFORE leaving the old French residences down the river. 
let me try to picture the gay scenes enacted in them in the 

early days, particularly during the long winter months. From 

the sand hill in Springwells to Grosse Pointe, on the river front, 

and from the latter point to Milk River Point on Lake St. Clair 

they formed an almost continuous settlement. All the dwellers in 

them considered themselves near neighbors and almost one family. 

The French residents were proverbial, for the love they bore 
their horses; and the traditional French pony, wiry, strong and 
fleet of foot, gave them all they desired in that direction. Every 
French family owned two or three ponies, at least, some of them 
more, particularly the Cicottes, Laffertys and the Campaus. 
Joseph Campau owned a vast number. Go where you would 
through the woods adjacent to Detroit, nearly all of every drove of 
horses you came across had the letters "J. C." branded on the 
flank. ^So numerous were these ponies that they would venture 
into the city in droves during the warm summer nights, attracted 
by the salt that the merchants had stored in barrels. in front of 
their places of business. Convenient "saltlicks," as one might 
say, and they were. 

When winter shut down and Jack Frost locked the river and 
lake in his icy embrace, cutting off all communication with the out- 
side world, then the fun commenced. Young men and maidens 
were in abundance and sleighing, dancing and other festivities 
ruled the hour. I have attended many of these dances, and have 
often made one in a sleighing party and can testify to the fun that 


The music, furnished by one or two violins — fiddles, they then 
called them — was quite all that was needed. French four and 
reels comprised about all the dances, no cotillion or round dances. 



Refreshments were not elaborate, but were quite ample, consisting 
in nearly every case of cider, apples, doughnuts, venison dried 
and roasted, hickory nuts, black walnuts, etc., and sometimes a 
little whisky. 

I do not think the early pioneers of this section were much 
addicted to whisky, though the late George Moran, who kept a 
roadhouse in Grosse Pointe and whom many will remember quite 
well, once told me that his father made his own whisky and drank 
it fresh from the still. The old gentleman passed away at the age 
of 80 years. I asked George once how much whisky he thought 
his father had gotten away with during his lifetime, and he said 
about eighty barrels. The old gentleman drank it all himself. 
Just ponder on it ! But he was an exception. 

These gatherings were usually kept up to the early hours of 
the morning. The ride home in the carry-all, behind the fleet 
pony, and your best girl, for the nonce, by your side, will long be 


But to return. The Widow Weaver used to keep a hotel 
about , where Twelfth Street comes down to the river. Mrs. 
Weaver owned the so-called Thompson Farm. She was assisted 
by her daughter Polly, who was quite pretty, charming and all that 
sort of thing. She had many suitors, many admirers, among 
those who were wont to patronize the hostelry, but none seemed 
to gain favor in her sight until Mr. David Thompson, who was at 
that time sheriff of Wayne County, laid his heart at her feet. 

She accepted the sheriff's offer and became Mrs. Thomp- 
son. Mr. Thompson brought his bride to the city and lived 
in a house that I well remember. It was a white frame house and 
on the present site of the Hotel Normandie on East Congress 
Street. While living there Mrs. Weaver, the mother, died and 
Mrs. Thompson became heir to the Thompson Farm, an ample 
fortune in itself. She at once proceeded to build a handsome resi- 
dence on the corner of Fort and Shelby Streets, the present site of 
the State Savings bank. All will readily remember it. It was a 
palatial dwelling in its day. Mrs. Thompson developed quite a 
taste for the arts, the walls of her house were decorated with 
some fine paintings by celebrated artists, and in the yard adjoining 
the house on the Shelby Street side was an artistic bronze foun- 
tain, as well as a fine copy in bronze of Kiss's Amazon. 

376 e;arly days in Detroit. 


On its completion Mr. and Mrs. Thompson occupied the 
house and she continued to do so until her death. Mr. Thompson 
passed away years before her. 

Mrs. Thompson's life was full of charitable, kindly acts. Her 
ears and purse was always open to the cry of the needy. The 
crowning act of her life was the establishment of the Old Ladies' 
Home in this city, which will be a pleasant reminder of her mem- 
ory when those of the present are dust. I think she endowed this 
home in her will. She lived to a good old age and died without 
a "blot on her escutcheon." 

May's Creek, named after Judge May, who once lived just 
below and adjoining it, was once quite a stream, boasting at one 
time of a large grist mill, about where Fort Street crossed it, but 
has been entirely obliterated by the tracks of the Michigan Cen- 
tral Railroad. It was a splendid place to skate in the early days, 
being quite wide at. the mouth. It was always frozen earlier than 
the river, and, besides, not so dangerous. All the boys in the 
early days used to skate there. 


On the north side of May's Creek was the home of Robert 
Abbott, brother of James Abbott, then postmaster of Detroit. 
Unlike his brother James, he was tall, spare and stoop-shouldered. 
He had the appearance of being quite feeble, but he was not. He 
and .his wife were devout Methodists and scarcely ever were they 
absent from church service, walking all the way from their home 
to the house of worship in the city. He was auditor-general of the 
state in 1838-9 and had his office in the same room with A. E. 
Hathon, city surveyor, and Thomas Palmer, in the Cooper Block, 
on the present site of Rev. D. M. Cooper's white store on the south 
side of Jefferson Avenue, between Griswold and Shelby Streets. 

Contrasting the duties and scope of his office with those of 
the present auditor-general at Lansing, with his spacious quarters 
and army of clerks, the comparison seems wonderful. Mr. Abbott 
had but one clerk, Mr. Church, but it was ample force for the 
business then. It would look as though these four gentlemen had 
crowded quarters, but I don't think any of them suffered on that 

Mr. Abbott, at times, was inclined to be quite peppery with 



some who came in contact with him in his official capacity. I call 
to mind one instance in particular of which I was an eye witness. 
Hon. Lansing B. Mizner (father of General Henry R. Mizner), 
at that time was one of the commissioners appointed by Governor 
Mason, to disburse the five million dollars the state borrowed for 
public improvement purposes from the Morris Canal & Banking 
Co., of New Jersey. One morning Mr. Mizner called on the audi- 
tor-general officially, and in the course of their conversation the 
latter made some disparaging remarks in regard to a written report 
of expenditures, etc., that the former had submitted for auditing 
some days previous. Mr. Mizner, as many who knew him will 
remember, was the pepperiest of the peppery, when rubbed the 
wrong way. Well, our friend Abbott got it back hot, so hot that 
Mizner came off first best. However, Mr. Abbott was, notwith- 
standing, a fine, genial gentleman of the old school. 

Mr. and Mrs. Abbott died many years ago, and what disposi- 
tion they made of their property I never knew. They had several 
children, one a daughter, married the late E. V. Cicotte, sheriff of 
Wayne County. 




of the Abbotts on the north side of the old May's Creek. 
The family residence was a quaint cottage of the villa style, 
with dormer windows, and veranda in front. It was set back 
quite a distance from the River road, nearly as far back as the 
present Fort Street. A fine farm the governor had. Its front 
extended two French farms in width on the river to the line of 
the Baker farm, and ran back two miles into the woods. Beyond 
and in the rear of the house was a fine orchard, full of apple, pear, 
peach and plum trees that, it seemed to me, were always in a full 
bearing mood during the season. I have been in it often, though 
it had in the front and the rear a high board fence to keep out 
intruders. I got in in the regular way. 

The governor was a conspicuous figure in the early days of 
Detroit and many no doubt will remember him well. His career, 
personality, etc., have been publicly recounted often by others, 
so won't bear repeating here. His oldest son, William, and 
myself were schoolmates. Mrs. Woodbridge was the daughter of 
Hon. Jonathan Trumbull, the author of "McFingal," a poem that 
many are familiar with (it is in most libraries and is not yet out 
of print). Trumbull djed in the Woodbridge homestead and 
was buried in the family lot in Elmwood. 

coivONEiv baki:r. 

Lawyer John S. Abbott married a daughter of the governor. 
His residence was ^n the line of the Baker farm, River road. 
Colonel Baker, U. S. army, lived in an unpretentious house a 
short distance back from the River road (Baker farm). It had 
three or four of the fine old French pear trees in front. Colonel 
Baker was the last commandant of Fort Shelby in 1823. It is 


said he was engaged to be married to the widow of Henry I. 
Hunt, who died mayor of Detroit, in 1826. The colonel became 
ill and unfortunately died October 12, 1838, but in compensation 
for his taking off he left the widow, in his will, the front of the 
Baker farm, extending back from the river to Fort Street. 

Mrs. Hunt was the daughter of Angus Mcintosh, a Scotch- 
man of good family who had been a merchant in Detroit both 
under British and American rule. 

After four years of American rule, Mcintosh moved across 
the river into Canada, above Windsor, and afterwards built a 
large residence, still standing (this side of Walkerville), which • 
he named Moy Hall, after the home of the family in Scotland. I 
have been to the Moy house often when it was in its prime. He 
also built a warehouse and dock in front of his residence or a 
little this side. A fine place to fish was this dock, and many an 
afternoon I played truant to fish on the Mcintosh dock. Both 
dock and warehouse disappeared a few years ago. I remember 
Colonel Baker well and also Mrs. Hunt. The colonel was a fine- 
looking man, a gentleman and a soldier. As for Mrs. Hunt, it 
goes without saying, she was a fine, beautiful woman and highly 


The Mullett house (John Mullett), next above Colonel Bak- 
er's, was an unpretentious residence and had some fine old pear 
trees in front of it. Mr. Mullett was a surveyor, civil engineer, 
etc. He surveyed most of the land in Michigan and the north- 
west. He was at one time surveyor-general of the northwest, 
being at the head and front in his calling. He died many years 
ago. One of his daughters married Frank Hall, a banker of • 
Aurora, 111. He was lost on the steamer Lady Elgin, Lake Mich- 
igan. Another daughter married Mr. Forster, a mining engineer. 
One of the boys, Henry, came near being a graduate of West 
Point. He was there about two and one-half years, but, as he 
said, he could not bear confinement any more than a "liberty 
pole," and the strict rules were irksome to him, so he quit and 
came home. He had ability enough and all that sort of thing, but, 
as he himself said, he could not and would not think of the rules 
in time. The rest of the family went into the interior of the state 
to live, on a farm near Lansing. 

Between the Mullett house and the next one (Kercheval's) 
was a street, now Seventh Street, the first one that was opened 

380 e:ari.y days in Detroit. 

down to the water's edge "at that time in that section. The Ker- 
cheval residence was an unpretentious one, but quite as good as 
its neighbors, built in 1825 or 6, I think (it was there at any rate 
in 1827). The Kerchevals have occupied a place with the first 
in Detroit society ever since I knew them or of them. Mr. B. B, 
Kercheval was an ideal host, as was also his wife, and, aided by 
their four charming and attractive daughters, made tiieir home 
a center for all the society people of the forties and early fifties. 
Many a dancing party I have attended there, and can speak "by 
the card." Strange it may seem, but it is a fact, the Kerchevals 
were the only down-the-river family that entertained to any extent, 
and drew around them the younger society of Detroit. 


The residence of Hon. Augustus S. Porter was the next 
above the Kerchevals of any prominence. It was an old-fashioned 
house with pillared veranda in front, and stood somewhat back 
from the river road. Mr. Porter was a prominent lawyer and was 
a partner in the law business with the late Henry S. Cole, and 
was at one time United States senator from Michigan. He was 
a genial, pleasant gentleman, and his change of residence (he 
moved to Niagara Falls) was much regretted by his Detroit 

The next residence above the Porters was that. of DeGarmo 
Jones. The house was a story and a half cottage, had two wings 
with bay windows, after the villa style, and with its front garden 
ornamented with a profusion of flowers and two fine pieces of 
statutary, ''Spring" and "Autumn," was the prettiest of all the 
down-the-river residences, surpassing those up-the-river or in the 
' city, for that matter. It was situated on the line of the Cass 
farm, and what became of it after the Jones family abandoned it 
I do not know. 

The Savoyard River, or more properly Creek, came down 
through the Cass farm, passing under a stone culvert on the Jones 
farm line to the river. The advent of the Michigan Central Rail- 
road, with its numerous tracks swept away all the dwellers on the 
river front to May's Creek, and forced them to seek other and 
more desirable abiding places. How changed is that locality at the 
present from what it was when I first saw it, can scarcely be 
imagined. Fancy DeGarmo Jones coming back to earth and start- 
ing out to look for the charming home he occupied when here ! 
He would get lost sure. 



THE Cass orchard extended to the Hne of the Jones farm, 
and occupied the space between what is now Congress 
and Fort Streets. Between the orchard and the River road 
and fronting on the road, was a large warehouse, called the 
Indian council house ; it stood about where the locomotive works 
and Buhl iron works were. 

Between the Indian house and the lane that .led to the barns 
and outhouses of the general were two or three houses (two and 
a half stories) belonging to him. • Mrs. Hinchman, mother of 
Guy F. Hinchman, occupied one of them for a while. I do not 
know who tenanted the other two. In front of these houses, and 
on the river, was Thomas Owen's large brick brewery and dock. 
I presume he leased the ground from the general, being on the 
Cass farm. This brewery of Owen's was a fine one and so was 
the dock. The latter, it seems to me now, had about one hundred 
feet front, but it might not have been so great, as things look 
larger to young eyes than they do to the eyes way long in the 
seventies. I remember Thomas Owen well ; he was a bluff, hearty 
Englishman, of goodly proportions, and, I have been told, he 
knew how to brew beer. He died many, many years ago. 

Just east of this brewery the high bank in front of the farm 
began to assert itself and continued to a little beyond the further 
line on the river. This bank was very high. Look across the 
river, below Windsor, and you will see a repetition of this bank 
with this exception-, the bank on this side had considerable slope 
to it and was covered with a growth of fine large trees that 
afforded a delicious shade in the hot summer months. It was, 
indeed, the only public park we had. A high and close board 
fence, from the tenement houses to the ornamental picket fence 
in front of the general's house, kept out intruders. One could 
not look over it. 



The Cass residence itself has been so often described that I 
will not repeat it here. I have frequently seen Governor Cass 
sitting on his front porch on warm afternoons, in straw hat and 
dressing gown in addition to his other light clothing, or taking 
his constitutional up and down the broad plank walk in front, that 
went from the Mansion house down to opposite the Owen brew- 
ery site. He rarely visited other parts of the city on foot, at least 
I never saw him do so. He seemed to me to keep himself within 
himself. He was quite stoutj perhaps that was the reason. 

This plank walk that skirted the farm front between it and 
the River road, afforded a fine promenade for the city people; a 
delightful place it was for a stroll on a summer's day or a moon- 
light night. Indeed, it was the only place in the city where its 
citizens could get a small taste of a park and, save for the trees 
that intervened," an uninterrupted view of the broad and beautiful 
Detroit River that got out of sight at Sandwich Point. If we had 
this site for a park now, what sum of money would buy it ! 

The Savoyard ran in the rear of the Cass residence, through 
the orchard, sometimes quite a stream. Its outlet I have already 
pientioned. This orchard was a fine one. I often visited it with 
the rest of the boys and not by invitation, either, and can testify 
to the excellence of its fruit. It was in this orchard that Daniel 
Webster once addressed a meeting of the citizens who had 
assembled to do him honor. No public hall was large enough to 
accommodate the crowd. I saw him on that occasion. This was 
sometime after General Cass and family had left for Washington. 

When the front of the farm was tumbled into the river in 
1835 or .1836, to prepare for wharfs and for business purposes, 
the house was moved back to Larned Street, where it remained 
until some years ago, when it was torn down to make room for a 
more pretentious building for business purposes. 


The quaint porch at the old house looked like a Chinese 
pagoda and the governor used to say that it was a puzzle to 
decide which was built first, the porch or the house. As to the 
builder, some authorities say Cadillac, others '"'Mons. Taberneir 
dit St. Martin." The latter once owned the Cass farm and sold 


it to the Macombs in 1787 for $1,060, and they sold to Cass. The 
house was supposed to have been built about 1743. The governor 
said he was satisfied that the house was built anterior to or about 
Pontiac's time, there being on it numerous marks of bullets shot 
into it. 

One thing about the house that I remember in particular was 
the large knocker on the front door. It was a lion's head in 
bronze, had a large ring through its nose for a clapper. It was 
there when the governor took the house. There was a deep mark 
across the lion's face, as if made by some sharp instrument wielded 
by a powerful hand. The general used to say, he was told that it 
was made by Chief Pontiac, who, after a stormy interview with the 
then occupant of the house, who was commandant at that time in 
Detroit, left in high dudgeon and when the door had closed upon 
him, he drew his tomahawk from his wampum belt and dealt the 
lion's head a fierce back-hand blow with it that left a mark. I 
have seen this lion head often and knowing the story, always 
looked at it (the mark being plainly visible), with a great deal of 
interest. When the general vacated the house he took the knocker, 
and it afterwards adorned for some years the front door of his 
own house at the corner of Cass and Fort, and after he retired 
from Mr. Buchanan's cabinet in 1861 the front door of his private 
apartments and office which he had added to the. residence of his 
daughter Mrs. Canfield, corner First and Fort, and which he occu- 
pied until he died. I don't know where it is now, I presume some 
of the family have it, and no doubt set as much store by it as did 
the general. 


The general had a charming family, though the son, Lewis, 
was inclined to be odd. 

Lewis went with his father to Washington and accompanied 
him to France when he was appointed minister to the Court of 
St. Cloud. He was appointed a major of cavalry in a regular 
regiment raised for the Mexican war but too late for service in 
that war. About 1852 he was appointed minister to Rome. He 
returned to Detroit about the commencement of the Civil War, 
and in 1866 returned to Paris where he died about 1879. His 
most intimate friends were the late E. A. and Alfred Brush, also 
the late Doctor Rufus Brown. Doctor Brown, in particular, was 
the most intimate friend of all, after he returned and made Detroit 
his home and after his mission to Rome was ended. 


Mrs. Cass, it goes without saying, was an estimable lady, 
beloved by all. The four daughters were fine looking girls, slight, 
with features of the madonna type, except Elizabeth, the eldest, 
I think, who was a brunette. She did not have the "Cass look" 
(as they used to call it), out of the eyes which all the rest had. 
She unfortunately died early, before the general and family went 
to Washington. It was said at the time that she was engaged to 
the late Edmund A. Brush, and it was also said the engagement 
was "in his mind," only. Whether it was so or not, who knows ? 
That he was not, was the common opinion then. He put on 
mourning for her, however. He at that time used to wear a tail 
white hat and the crape on it in her memory was quite con- 
spicuous. Her remains are in Elmwood Cemetery. 


As for the other daughters, most people are familiar with their 
after life and knew them as Mrs. Canfield, Mrs. Ledyard and Mrs. 
Von Limburg. They are all dead now, Mrs. Ledyard quite 
recently. I had opportunities of knowing the Cass family pretty 
well, by sight at least, as I was a lad in my teens. Our people, my 
uncle's family and the Cass's were on quite intimate terms, also 
attended the same church, the old Presbyterian, that stood on the 
corner of Woodward Avenue and Earned Street, where the Wal- 
dorf now is. The governor's pew was in the same aisle as ours and 
directly across. They were pretty regular in their attendance at 
morning and evening service, and my aunt, Mrs. Thomas Palmer, 
made me go to church, it seemed to me, all the time. So with see- 
ing them so often in church and elsewhere I knew them and of 
them quite well. 

I may be pardoned for giving so much space to the Cass fam- 
ily when it is remembered that Detroit was then virtually the cap- 
ital of the great northwest, and everything centered here. It was 
also headquarters of the military department of the lakes. This 
family, of course, held the first position socially, for was not its 
head the governor of this wide domain, and what transpired in his 
family and in connection with it was, of course, interesting to 
all in this then small community, and besides, was not my aunt's 
father, Judge James Witherell, his secretary of state? 



JEFFERSON AVENUE ended on the eastern line of the Cass 
farm. At that point the River Road (which would have 
been Jefferson Avenue if continued) took a sharp turn, 
skirting a bay that put in from the river, between the Mansion 
House and Owen's brewery. This bay was in the shape of a 
crescent and on the farm front, affording a fine place to skate in 
the winter; it was also used by the Baptists, both white and col- 
ored, to immerse their converts in, summer and winter (how dif- 
ferent from the practice of today). I have witnessed many bap- 
tisms in this bay; the ceremony was interesting at all times, but 
particularly so in the winter, when a large space had to be cleared 
in the ice for this purpose on the edge of the bay. Sometimes the 
cold was so severe that the constantly forming ice had to be 
removed with rakes. Yet, for all that, the minister and those to 
be immersed walked into the freezing water calmly and seemingly 
without fear or dread. It is said that no one ever sufferNcd from 
after effects. It always seemed to me to be the height of heroism 
to do those things under those conditions. An abiding faith 
seemed to sustain them which was reflected in their faces, as 


they entered and emerged, singing, from the freezing water, clad 
in their baptismal robes. Was it not heroic? 

This bay was obliterated when the excavation of the farm 
front was accomplished, as was also Owen's brewery. "Sic 


Mr. Melvin Dorr, city auctioneer, lived in the first house on 
Jefferson Avenue, on the Cass farm line, and next was the Man- 
sion House, about where Cass Avenue crosses Jefferson now. 
This and Uncle Ben Woodworth's were the only hotels of any 
consequence in the city then. This Mansion House was built by 



Judge Woodward and of brick and stone taken from the ruins 
of old Fort Shelby when the latter was torn down. It was not 
very large, two or three stories, I think, and, with out-buildings, 
extended back to what is now Larned Street. It had a high open 
porch that occupied its entire front, supported by large wooden 
pillars. Across the street was a large summer house, built appar- 
ently for the pleasure of the guests of the hotel, and where a 
band, when they had one, discoursed music, such as it was. The 
high bank in front 6f the Cass farm extended to and a little 
beyond the Mansion House. This summer house was on this 
bank and had a long flight of steps leading from it down to Jeffer- 
son Avenue, where Jefferson Avenue deflected from its course 
(about where Cass Avenue crossed) and ended at the river. It 
was a pleasant experience to spend a summer evening on the 
porch of the hotel or in the summer house. Perhaps there are 
many living who can remember the pleasure and, with myself, 
regret that the needs of business and commerce necessitated the 
destruction and obliteration of this, the fairest part of the city. 
It is hard to realize the change that this locality has undergone. 
Between Jefferson Avenue, at the foot of the summer house 
steps, and the river, Mr. Scanlon lived, as did also John Cannan; 
the latter was an "Irishman of the Irish." He was the boss ditch 
digger and turnpike builder, also house mover and sometimes 
undertaker. My uncle, Thomas Palmer, had him constantly in 
his employ, it seemed to me, for aside from his store business he 
was always having a ditch dug, a road built or a house moved, 
and John was always the man to boss the job. There was also 
at the water's edge a large yellow brewery; I do not remember 
whom it belonged to, but I think to Mr. Hoadley. From it a long 
wharf extended into the river, at 'which wharf the steamer Nia- 
gara of those days used to tie up when she reached here. I think 
Cass Street was open to the river at that time, at least there was 
a street open to the river from Jefferson Avenue, and it seems 
to me it was about where Cass Street is now. Well, be that as 
it may. 

powe;r:p^ui. turner ste^tson. 

The Detroit City Engine & Foundry Co. occupied the south- 
east corner of this short street. Their works were quite exten- 
sive, extending to and on Woodbridge Street. • J. R. Dorr was 
the president and W. B. Alvord was the secretary and treasurer 


of the company. DeGarmo Jones and Harvey Williams were also 
of the company. Turner Stetson, many will remember him, I 
presume, was the chief man in the engine and foundry depart- 
ments. He was tall and gaunt, but had a frame of iron and was 
gifted with the strength of a giant. The works boasted a trip 
hammer, located in a large shop on Woodbridge Street, and it 
used to be a picnic for us boys to see how and with what ease this 
stalwart Stetson could handle the immense masses of red hot and 
yielding iron, and to see the sparks fly from under the blows of 
the ponderous hammer! Of course, he had hold of the compar- 
atively cool end of the iron, but he handled it like a toy. With 
all his powerful strength, he was kind, genial and gentle as a 
child. A little later on (1844), Armstrong, Sibley & Co. had a 
large warehouse opposite this foundry, fronting on the river. 

I think Alvah Bronson was the first landlord of the Mansion 
House, 1824 to 1827. General Schwarz succeeded him for a 
short time. Colonel Andrew Mack was the landlord when I 
came, or shortly after, at least he was the first one to occupy it 
that I remember. _ He was also United States customs house offi- 
cer and the office was in a small building adjoining the Mansion 
House, or near it. He afterwards kept the American, where the 
Biddle House now is. A fine man was the colonel, of command- 
ing presence, and a Chesterfield in manners, he easily won the 
esteem of all. He was ably seconded by his amiable wife. He 
moved or retired to a farm he had purchased on the St. Clair 
River, between Port Huron and St. Clair City, where he died 
many years ago. Mr. Uhlman, a German, succeeded him in the 
Mansion House and was the last landlord, I think. 


The government arsenal grounds covered the entire space 
from the custom house to Wayne Street, running back to Larned 
(Cass Street was not open then through these premises). Captain 
Perkins, U. S. A., was the officer in charge. His residence was 
about where is what is now the center of Cass Street. A high 
white fence inclosed the square, the stone arsenal building being 
on the corner of Wayne Street, where was the wholesale store of 
Phelps, Brace & Co. The arsenal grounc^s, except the space 
given to the captain's house and garden, were filled with 
unmounted cannon, cannon balls and empty bombshells, piled in 


e:arly days in de:troit. 

pyramids. The arsenal was filled with muskets and infantry and 
cavalry accoutrements. These were afterwards removed to the 
Dearborn arsenal upon its completion. 

The arsenal property was sold by the government, I think 
to Oliver Newberry. At any rate, he erected a brick building, 
about on the site of Captain Perkin's house, which afterwards 
became the Garrison house. The Wayne County register of 
deeds occupied the ground floOr in the rear, on Cass Street, as an 
office, for two or three years. Josiah Snow was register, W. T. 
Young was deputy. I was also a clerk in the office at that time. 
Snow did not give the office much attention and Young and 
myself ran the whole business and had a goc^d easy ti^ne, too. Com- 
pare the two offices of register of deeds then and now. Often 
when searching the records in the office of the register of deeds 
in the city hall of late years and coming across specimens of my 
penmanship, memojy used to leap back to the ofifice on Cass 
Street, with its small force of two; and comparing with the pres- 
ent ample quarters and the army of clerks required to get away 
with the increased business of today, made me "tired." The stone 
arsenal building was afterwards turned into a' hotel, and con- 
tinued so for many years. Mr. Uhl, a German, was the first land- 
lord. I am told he was the father or grandfather of the late 
United. States minister to Germany, how true it is I don't know. 
The bar was in the basement, corner of Cass Street, and it was 
open nearly all night, summer and winter. The proprietor used 
to hang out, at night, a green light. We boys, when all the other 
places were shut up, would look for the green light, and if it 
was going we were sure of a place to spend the balance of the 
evening and regale ourselves with the savory pork and beans, and 
the beer (not lager) that the house afforded, and the latter was 
always on tap, as was the pork and beans. 




CROSS Jefferson Avenue from the arsenal was the resi- 
dence of our postmaster, Hon. John Norvell ; he was 
appointed to succeed James Abbott, I think. The house, 
one and a half stories, with dormer windows, was on the cor- 
ner of Wayne Street, set a little distance back from the avenue, 
with peach trees in front, and had be^n the residence of the late 
Hon. Henry I. Hunt, maiyor of Detroit in 1826, who died there 
in that year. The postoffice was in a little brick building of one 
story, and it had a hip roof. This building was just below the 
residence of the postmaster. The office had been maintained there 
only a short time when Mr. Norvell fitted up a room in his dwell- 
ing and moved the office and its belongings into it. It was quite 
a different affair from the old postoffice on Woodward Avenue 
when James Abbott was postmaster, although the office was up- 
to-date at that time. Mrs. Norvell and their son Joseph ran the 
office almost entirely and gave universal satisfaction; indeed, it 
could hardly have been otherwise. Mrs. Norvell was a beautiful 
woman, highly cultured, and Joe was a bright, active, sturdy 
youth. *'Ji""'"^y" Norvell, broker, of the present day, is a living 
image of him. , 

In the rear of the postoffice was a large brick building, 
belonging to the government and used as a warehouse for gov- 
ernment purposes. General Scott quartered his troops there for _ 
a short time while on his way to Green Bay, Wis., to attend to 
Black Hawk. 


At the foot of Wayne Street was a slip and on the opposite 
side from the Oliver Newberry warehouse was another ware- 
house, but I do not know who occupied it, although I presume 
the dock was owned by Mr. Newberry, as he subsequently built 
a fine, substantial brick warehouse there, the finest on the lakes, 


and now used by the Detroit & Cleveland Steam Navigation Co. 
The first warehouse I mentioned was sold by Mr. Newberry to the 
United States government and was used by the quartermaster's 
and commissary departments of the United States army during 
the Mexican war. 

It was on the border of this slip, foot of Wayne Street, that 
Captain John Burtiss built his steamer Argo. 

This warehouse was afterwards torn down and its place occu- 
pied by a brick building put up to accommodate the pumping 
engine of the Detroit Hydraulic Works. "Uncle Charles How- 
ard," as he was familiarly called, was the engineer. The reser- 
voir was located on the corner of Fort and Wayne Streets, south 
side of Fort, opposite the present site of the Journal office. It 
was not a very extensive affair, but sufficient for the time, I pre- 
sume ; I do not know how, long it lasted, but the city records will 
tell anyone who has the curiosity to inquire. 

B. Iv. Webb (the late Duncan Stewart at that time was ware- 
houseman for Webb) occupied a warehouse next to Armstrong, 
Sibley & Co. Between the two warehouses there was a slip. The 
warehouse adjoining was Oliver Newberry's. Here were built 
the steamer Michigan, "the pride of the lakes," the sailing vessels 
Marengo and Marshall Ney, another Michigan, and the brig Man- 
hattan. The steamer Michigan No. i (commanded by Captain 
Blake) was, as many will remember, the "ne plus ultra" of steam- 
boats of that day. She had three masts, two low pressure engines, 
and at that time was a wonder and a show, although her cabins 
were between decks. No upper cabins were built at that time. 


The next warehouse on the river, I think, was Shadrack Gil- 
lett's, and is yet standing. As can be seen it is a small affair com- 
pared to its neighbor, the Cleveland line warehouse, yet it was 
considered a large worehouse in 1827, '29 and '30. It was in 
front of this warehouse that the steamer Great Western was 
burned while laying at the dock. 

The next warehouse, it seems to me — although I think there 
was another warehouse between, but I do not remember posi- 
tively — was the De Garmo Jones. Nearly all the steamers and 
boats at that early time used to tie up at Jones's dock. He had an 
enormous stock of steamboat wood on hand at all times ; that was 


one inducement; another was that it was the river center of the 
city. Lawson F. Howard and General James E. Pittman subse- 
quently occupied it, as did the Cleveland line of steamers. The 
next warehouse was used by Captain E. B. Ward and John 

J. W. Strong, Charles Bissell, Gurdon Williams & Co., F. W. 
Backus, George W. Bissell, John Hurlbert and O. Newberry & 
Co., were in the forwarding and commission business on the dock 
between the foot of Cass Street and the Michigan Central depot. 
E. W. Bissell, successor to his father, A. E. Bissell, is on deck yet 
at th same old stand, at the foot of First Street. 

In later years and before the Great Western Railway was 
opened through Canada to Buffalo, in 1855, the following (in 
addition to those mentioned) were in the forwarding and commis- 
sion business on the dock in the same and other localities : John 
Chester, Door, Webb & Co., Brewster & Smart, Littlejohn & 
Crarey, Hicks & Palmer, B. L. W>bb, Poupard & Petty, Hunt & 
Roby, Iv. W. Tinker, J. P. Mansfield, J. & P. Aspinwall, C. D. 
Farlin & Co., Brewster & Dudgeon, Graves & Wickware, Backus 
& Bissell, L. P. Brady, H. H. Brown & Strong, Bridge & Lewis, 
A. E. Bissell, Chas. Howard & Co., Howard, Stewart & Co., Ker- 
cheval & Collins, Armstrong, Sibley & Co., Armstrong & Guise, 
Ives & Black, Gillet & Desnoyers, E. W. Hudson, Lewis & Graves, 
Backus & Armstrong, W. M. Whitcomb & Co., Bissell & Farlin, 
J. Nicholson Elbert, E. P. Hastings & Co., J. A. Armstrong, W. 
T. Pease, Nichols, Whitcomb & Armstrong, Alex. Lewis & Co., 
Grey & Lewis, N. Norton Strong, J. L. Hurd & Co., Duncan 
Stewart and John W. Strong, Sr. 


To the Editor of The Free Press: 

In last Sunday's Free Press there was an article on the Man- 
sion House by Friend Palmer. Mr. Palmer stated that the build- 
ing was of stone, was put up by Judge Woodward, and that the 
stones were taken from Fort Shelby. I think Mr. Palmer is at 
least partly in. error: The lots on which the Mansion House was 
erected were purchased by Judge Woodward of James May, 
March 21, 181 1^, for the consideration of $8,000. I judge from 
the value of the property, that the building must have been erected 
before that date. ' ^ 


Judge Woodward remained in Detroit as judge until he was 
rotated out of office in 1824. Just before he left Detroit, in that 
year, he advertised his property for sale, and gave quite a descrip- 
tion of it. The judge went south as far as Washington at this 
time, but returned the following year and sold this property to 
General John E. Schwartz for $7,500. He then returned to Wash- 
ington, and from that place went to Florida, where he had received 
an appointment as territorial judge, and died in Florida in 1827. 

Fort Shelby was not abandoned by the United States until 
1826. I do not know but that some portions of it had been torn 
away before that date. Mr. Palmer will probably know whether 
the fort buildings remained intact or whether they were demol- 
ished. It seems to me quite improbable that the Mansion House 
buildings were erected out of the old fort. 

I have heard that after the fire of 1805 the old stone chim- 
neys and whatever other stone there was in the old village were 
collected and used for this hotel. There was no stone in the 
neighborhood of Detroit that could be readily obtained sufficient 
for a building of this size. Perhaps some old resident of Detroit 
may be able to give us some information on this point. 

Respectfully yours, 

C. M. Burton. 
Dated November 26, 1903. 



ON the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Wayne Street, oppo- 
site the arsenal, was a small frame building used as a 
tailor shop by Ezra Rood. Adjoining was a large brick 
building of three stories erected by Henry S. Cole. The first 
floor was used for stores, the upper floors for* offices and sleeping 
rooms. The frame building and the brick one made way for tlie 
present fine wholesale stores, erected by the late Henry Glover. 
Adjoining the Glover Block and still standing, is, it is believed, 
the first brick residence built in Detroit. It is said it was erected 
or at least begun by an Englishman, Mr. Benjamin Stead, who 
died in 1821. The house was finished soon after his death by other 
parties. It is a two-story, double brick house and is nearly oppo- 
site the old Michigan Exchange Hotel. 

In 1827 and later, part of it was occupied by the late Tunis 
Wendall (I think he died there in 1851 or '52), and the other part 
by Colonel Henry Whiting, assistant quartermaster, U. S. A. 
Tunis Wendell's eldest son and Colonel Whiting's two sons, Henry 
and William, were playmates and schoolmates of mine and we had 
many good times together, of course. Henry Wendell went off 
to sea and never returned. A younger son, Charles E., was killed 
in the civil war. Henry Whiting entered West Point, graduated 
into the infantry and served with his regiment in the Mexican war. 
He died in this city and is buried in Elmwood. William Whiting 
entered the navy and died a short time ago, an admiral, having 
served with distinction during the civil war. A few years before 
his death he was afflicted with total blindness. 


Colonel Whiting occupied his part of the building until about 
1837 or '38, when he moved to his new brick residence on Fort 
Street, at present owned by the Lothrop estate. The colonel was 

394 i;ari,y days in de;troit. 

ordered to another station just before the war with Mexico and I 
don't think he ever returned to this city. He was succeeded by 
Captain S. P. Heintzelmann, U. S. A., since major-general, in the 
late rebellion. During the Mexican war the premises were used by 
the United States for quartermaster's, commissary and recruiting 
offices. Later Doctor Farnsworth had his office there until he 
died. It is now occupied for many purposes in a mercantile way. 
Some of the upper rooms were occupied from time to time as 
sleeping apartments, by Axel. H. Newbold, Josh Carew, Seelah 
Reeves and others. 

Adjoining was an old wooden building, with dormer win- 
dows, set some distance back from the street, and occupied by the 
Thiebault sisters, two old maids, relics of a pioneer French fam- 
ily. Some people averred that one of them was a witch, for, it was 
said, on one occasion, when their chimney was discovered to be on 
fire, she flew out of the house on a broom-stick, with a water 
bucket in her hands, down to the river and back again tothe chim- 
ney top, with the bucket filled with water, which she emptied into 
the chimney and directly the fire was out. But 1 never believed 
the yarn and don't imagine any one else did, either. 

sivoss's store:. 

Adjoining and on the corner of Shelby Street, Mr. Sloss had 
a small store, dry goods, notions, etc. ; the family lived upstairs 
over the back part. He continued there a few years, then moved 
to Dearborn with his stock of goods. His son, William, suc- 
ceeded to the business there, and, I believe, is in it yet, or was up 
to a few years ago. Opposite the Cole building on the corner of 
Wayne Street was a large wooden tenement building, set some 
distance back from the street and occupied by several families. I 
don't know who owned it. 


Adjoining was the house of Mr. Ruger, the hay scale man, 
where he lived with his two daughters. Ruger was a scrubby 
looking little man, hair and whiskers frosted by sixty or more win- 
ters. Always attired in a suit of rusty black, a low-crowned, 
borad-brimmed black beaver hat, from which the fur had been 
worn by constantly chalking on it the weight of loads of hay, etc., 
that had gone under the scales. 

Ruger had two daughters who kept his house, the mother 


being dead. They were of an uncertain age, and not very attrac- 
tive. Still, damaging stories were circulated around about them, 
to the extent that some of the unruly boys around town used to 
gather on the opposite' side of the street and stone the house. 
Ruger stood but two repetitions of this sort of fun, when he retal- 
iated by firing into the crowd. The gun fortunately did not con- 
tain any lead or things, so no harm was done. But the stoning 
experiment was not repeated. I never heard that the stories about 
the daughters were ever substantiated. I am satisfied they were 
not. / 

The city hay scales were located on the corner of Larned and 
Wayne Streets, where are now the fire department headquarters. 


These hay scales were somewhat curious in construction and 
quite primitive, but not any more so, I imagine, than any other city 
or town in the country possessed at that time. A pair of immense 
steelyards were suspended from strong oaken beams, protected by 
an overhanging shingled roof, that sheltered the whole business. 
Under these steelyards the load of hay or other property was 
driven, and by some process — I think it was done by the aid of a 
windlass — it was swung clear of the ground, vehicle and all, and 
then the weight taken and chalked on old Ruger's hat. The steel- 
yards were plentifully supplied, of course, with iron 56's and other 
heavy weights, that have in a great measure gone out of date ; 
indeed, I think quite so, .and are scarcely ever seen nowadays, 
except in the circus ring, when the "strong man" tosses them 
around, swings them over his head, etc. The advent of the plat- 
form scale relegated all this mode of heavy weighing into the cor- 
ner. I have often witnessed old Ruger and his assistant go 
through the process of weighing a load of hay and other .things. 

Adjoining this building was the two-story office and residence 
of Doctor Hendry. It was quite pretentious, had dormer windows 
and a square roof. The doctor was a Virginian and quite up in 
his profession, I have heard said. His family occupied a high 
social position. The doctor died there about 1835 or '36, and his 
widow married Lawyer Charles Cleland, whom many will remem- 
ber, I presume. Adjoining the Hendry house lived the widow 
Roby. Her husband died before 1827. He had a warehouse and 
wharf on the river front (Roby's wharf), where he did quite an 


extensive business in the forwarding and commission way. 
Adjoining Mrs. Roby's was an old unoccupied building that was 
soon torn down to make way for the Michigan Exchange Build- 
ing, which all know about, as it is still standing, though almost 
tenantless and in a forlorn condition. 


Di:troit^ Mich., December 2, 1903. 
To the Editor of The Pree Press: 

In reply to Mr. C. M. Burton in your edition of last Sunday, 
I desire to say that, on second thought, I think he is right in regard 
to the stone used in the building of the Mansion House, and that 
it did not come from Fort Shelby. I was here before the fort was 
completely demolished and do not remember having seen any stone 
that had been used in its construction. The magazine, a bomb- 
proof structure of stone, was situated outside the embankments of 
the fort, and in the center of Congress Street, midway between 
Shelby and Wayne Streets. This magazine was in the process of 
demolition when I came, and what I learned about the Mansion 
House having been built out of the stone taken from Fort Shelby 
was from hearsay only. 

Most of the buildings of the fort called the "cantonment" 
were standing on my arrival here. They were shortly after dis- 
posed of by auction, except the row on the west side that extended 
from the present east line of Fort Street, out towards Michigan 
Avenue. * . ■ 

My uncle, Thomas Palmer, purchased quite a number of the 
buildings at the sale, as did many other citizens, and moved them 
to different localities about the city. The Presbyterian congrega- 
tion bought the assembly building that had been used for dances, 
court-martial, lectures, etc., and moved it to the rear of their 
church, then in process of erection, at the corner of Woodward 
Avenue and Larned Street, and used it for a session and Sunday 
school room for many years. After that, it did duty as a place of 
worship for the colored Methodist Episcopal congregation, near 
the corner of Brush and Champlain Streets, and I think it did so 
for many years. Yours truly, 

Friejnd Palmer. 




OPPOSITE the Michigan Exchange Hotel on Jefferson Ave- 
nue Tunis S. Wendell had a general store on the northeast 
corner of Shelby Street. 
Tunis S. Wendell was a sedate, wholly religious and most 
exemplary man. In business his integrity was unquestioned and 
his faith in his neighbors and others with whom he came in con- 
tact was unbounded. When the Old Bank of Michigan was totter- 
ing to its fall, he had such confidence in the officers of that institu- 
tion that he turned a deaf ear to the rumors that were afloat affect- 
ing the solvency, and continued to take the notes of the bank a 
long time after it had suspended specie payments. He said that 
the bank managers had assured him of its solvency, and that its 
assets were ample to secure all bill holders and not to worry. He 
did not worry, but continued to take the notes in exchange for 
goods until he was forced to the conclusion that the concern was 
dead, completely so. There is no question that the bank officers 
did assure our friend Wendell that it was sound ; and to my per- 
sonal knowledge they did so to many others — Sidney L. Root 
(with whom I was clerking jit the time) among the number; he 
sustaining a serious loss. I never heard Mr. Wendell say how 
much he was out, but the amount must have been large, as he 
showed me once a drawer in his desk that looked to be nearly full 
of Bank of Michigan bills. 


There is no doubt that the bank officers were perfectly honest 
in their assertions to their customers and to the bill holders that 
things would come out all right, but they themselves were badly 
deceived by the Dwights, bankers of Geneva, N. Y., who owned 
the controlling interest in the bank, and had promised to stand by, 


but did not do so when the time came, so the institution had to go 
under. Many creditors took real estate for their holdings. Among 
them was Judge Canniif and, he took the farm ("Canniff farm"), 
out Woodward Avenue. Why Wendell and Rood did not take 
real estate for what amounts they held, I do not know. Real 
estate being a poor asset at that date, was the reason, perhaps. 

I think this loss made Mr. Wendell more sedate than ever, 
and evidently preyed upon his health. When I bought out the 
concern of G. F. Rood & Co., in 1857, Mr. Wendell had been their 
bookkeeper for some little time and on taking possession he con- 
tinued with me for six months or so, at my request. He could 
have kept on longer if he had so desired, but as he sought employ- 
ment more for recreation than otherwise, he elected to quit. He 
did not live long after that. 


Mrs. Wendell was a Hunt, sister of Henry J. and W^m. B. 
Hunt. She was a widow at the time of her marriage to Mr. Wen- 
dell. Her first husband was Captain Gleason, U. S. A. 

The Wendells had two sons and two daughters. Henry, the 
eldest son, was a schoolmate of mine. He went off to sea, made a 
voyage to China, returned home, after a brief stay started off 
again, and never was heard from. Charles, a most promising 
young man, was quite an efficient telegraph operator and when the 
civil war came on he raised a company and went to the front and 
was killed. 

I have mentioned elsewhere about the Wendells living at one 
time in the brick dwelling opposite the Michigan Exchange. Well, 
while this is on my mind, there comes to me the vision of the old 
colored "mamma," who was a domestic in the family when I came 
here, and so continued many years until her death. There -was an 
entryway on Jefferson Avenue to the cellar kitchen of the house, 
and on every fine, afternoon in the summer this "mamma" would 
plant herself in this entryway arrayed in her best "bib and tucker," 
a bright-hued handkerchief bound around her head, her face 
wreathed in smiles. She knew nearly every passer by, and they 
her, and kindly greetings were always in order. She was espe- 
cially motherly to us boys, as she had a son of her own, "Dick," 
who was a playmate of ours, and one of us on most all occasions 
then. Perhaps some living may remember her. 

TUNIS s. wi$nd.e:i.l. ' 399 

pijTE^R e;. de;miIvIv. 

After Mr. Wendell in that store came Peter E. Demill. Mr. 
Demill came here along in the thirties, and seemed to me to have 
been always in the mercantile business, until he associated himself 
with the Detroit Gas Light Co. He was an ardent church man 
and an Episcopalian of the Episcopalians, a good citizen, a kind 
neighbor and a most exemplary Christian gentleman. He was a 
bachelor when he came here, and so remained for years. *So 
long was it before Cupid snared him that his friends thought him 
incorrigible, but at last along came Miss Henrietta Westbrook, 
daughter of Colonel Westbrook, of St. Clair (a soldier of 1812) he 
met his fate and they were married. They had two children, a 
son and a daughter, the former a most promising young man 
( Peter E. Demill Jr.) Unfortunately he was accidentally drowned 
at Chicago during the World's Fair. The daughter, possessed of 
a most charming and attractive personality, as nearly all know, 
and married Mr. George W. Moore, a prominent member of the 
Detroit bar. 

Both Mr. Demill and wife passed away but a few years ago, 
widely regretted. 


Mrs. Charles Jackson owned the ground and building. She 
acquired the property from her husband, Mr. Dodemead, who 
erected the building. After his decease she married Mr. Dyson 
(who had been a captain in the war of 1812) and after his decease 
she became Mrs. Charles Jackson. Mr. Jackson was a stone and 
brick mason, also a master builder, and a prominent citizen. He 
did his share in the building line, and had the contract for the 
stone and mason work on the territorial capitol. He built many 
other buildings in the city, among them a double brick house on 
Cadillac Square where the central market is, as residences for him- 
self and David Copper. 

Mrs. Dyson had two children by Mr. Dyson, Sam and Jane ; 
many will remember "Aunt jane" as she was familiarly called. 
''Sam" most always held some city office. 

About the date the Exchange was completed, the Thiebault 
residence and the Sloss store, opposite, were swept away and gave 
place to a brick building of four stories called the Wavcrly Block, 
built by C. C. Trowbridge, Elon Farnsworth and Colonel Henry 
Whitney. Avery & Eldredge had a dry goods and grocery store in 
this block j3n the corner of Shelby Street. 


MR. lillabridge:. 

Before going any further I will mention that Mr. Lillabridge 
occupied the building below the Wendell house, on the corner of 
Wayne Street, instead of Mr. Rood. It was the next building that 
Ezra Rood occupied as a tailor shop. Lillabridge claimed to be 
most intimate withe Edwin Forrest, whether this was so I do not 
know, but this I do know: When the Detroit Juvenile Library 
and .Debating Society circulated a subscription papers for the 
purpose of raising funds with which to purchase books for a 
^ library, he put himself down for ten dollars and Edwin Forrest for 
a like sum and the money was paid. He was a house decorator in 
a small way and had a small stock of fancy wall papers, etc. He 
made a specialty of cutting tissue pa^^cr into fanciful shapes and 
decorating the ceilings of stores, the hanging lamps, etc., with 
them to accommodate the flies. They were quite pretty and attrac 
tive. He also had a very pretty wife, and people used to say that 
he was inclined to be jealous. There might have been some 
foundation for it and perhaps was. There was Captain Walsh, 
ah Englishman (Mike Walsh), who kept the "vShades" under the 
Republican Hall on Jefferson Avenue, who was and had beer quite 

attentive to Mrs. L , so much so that it raised Mr. L.'s 

"Ebeneezer." He determined to have satisfaction the next lime 
he met this disturber. They met — and the alleged wrecker" got 
his eyes full of snuif and his head punched through the injured 
husband's efforts. I saw Walsh directly after the affair in Mr. Sco- 
ville's office, upstairs in the Republican Hall Block, where the doc- 
tor was busy getting the snuff out of Walsh's eyes and patching up 
his face. He presented a pitiable appearance, with his blood-shot 
eyes and disfigured countenance. I don't think anything ever 
came of it, a least I never heard of anything. I think this Walsh 
was afterwards prominent in New York politics. 



CH. JAQUITH & CO. occupied a store (boots and shoes) 
on Jefferson Avenue, below the Michigan Exchange. 
It was a branch of an eastern house. (Captain Arthur 
Edwards married a sister of Jacquith's). His right-hand 
man was Smith, who for many years- kept a shoe store on 
Woodward Avenue, at the corner of Larned Street, where Swan 
now is. J. W. Tillman had a furniture store in, the Waverly 
Block. Morse & Bro. had a book store in the same building. 
C. C. Trowbridge and Chancellor Farnsworth also had their 
offices in this building, up stairs in the second floor. W. B. 
Alvord had bachelor quarters there also. The entrance was by a 
flight of iron steps on the Shelby Street side. R. E. Roberts also 
had at one time a dry goods store in this block. 

The widow Coates owned the ground and building, and occu- 
pied it until her death. After her Z. Vollum occupied the store 
as a boolc bindery. I do not remember who came after. On the 
northwest corner of Shelby Street, and opposite the Waverly 
Block, H. H. Brown occupied a small wooden building adjoining, 
as an insurance and exchange office, with Walter Ingersoll as his 
assistant. The Shelden Block, of brick, adjoining, was occupied 
by Almar & Shaw, books and stationery. C. W. Barnum had a 
hat store in the same block. The postoffice at one time was 
located in this building. Shelden McKnight was postmaster and 
he had Mr. Adam's, his brother-in-law, for an assistant. Geo. M. 
Rich, Eugene Laible and D. C. Holbrook were clerks. George 
M. Rich was first with Postmaster John Norvell. The Detroit 
Free Press and Harsha & Wilcox had their quarters in this build- 
ing, up stairs, and occupied most of the upper part, I think. The 
widow of Orville Cook lived in a wooden dwelHng in this locality 


in 1827 or 1828. Mr. Cook had been a dry goods merchant and 
I think was in partnership with Levi Cook (O. & L. Cook), at 
the time he died. Mrs. Cook was a sister of John Hale (Hale & 


Afterwards this building was occupied by Henry A. Nagle,. 
who sold ice cream, candy, soda water, etc., the first saloon of the 
kind established in this city. In relation to Mrs. Cook, the for- 
mer occupant of this building, and John Hale, j>erhaps it may not 
be out of place to say that Mrs. Cook, as said before, was the 
sister of John Hale, and John Hale married the sister of Mrs. 
Thomas Sheldon. The latter was the wife of Mr. Piquette (Mrs. 
Sheldon was a Labadie, a daughter of one of the old French fam- 
ilies and a most estimable woman). Mr. Piquette died, leaving 
two children, John B. and Charles. Mrs. Piquette married Mr. 
Reed, who died shortly after, leaving no issue. Mrs. Reed then 
opened a boarding house, not for the income it promised, but 
more for the sociability attached to it. She soon had all the 
boarders she needed, it being so home-like. My uncle, Thomas 
Palmer, boarded there before his marriage, as did my father, 
when here from the east, and many others. 

Among them was Thomas Sheldon. He at that time was a 
gay young bachelor, and at once laid siege to the widow's heart 
— and won. The fruit of the union was two daughters and a 
son. This was after the removal of the family to the corner of 
Fort and Wayne Streets, now the Journal office site, where Mr. 
Sheldon owned a lot arid built a residence. They retired into the 
country, as it were, and as they fondly hoped. 

George Tucker, a cultured colored barber and hairdresser, 
was opposite the F. & M. Bank and kept a fine stock of per- 
fumery, hair goods and toilet articles. William Bond had a 
looking glass and picture frame factory in this locality. In the 
Levi Brown brick block, Olney and Levi Cook, brothers, had a 
general store, the firm name being O. & L. Cook, afterwards Cook 
& Burns. The latter continued in business some years. Mr. 
Cook then retired from the concern and Mr. Burns removed to 
Woodward Avenue, between Jefferson Avenue and Larned 
Street, opposite the Merrill Block. Mr. Cook retired to his farm 
on the Grand River Road, near the railroad crossing, where he 


died. J\ir. Burns took into partnership Tim W. Partridge and 
Hamilton Miller, clerks in the former firm. They continued in 
the business until the death of Mr. Burns. 


The Cooks and Mr. Burns were men of the highest integrity 
and of the lirst standing in the community. In their store one 
could find almost everything adapted to the wants of man at that 
time. They all spoke French fluently, as did their clerks. They 
catered to the French trade, which was a great factor in the busi- 
ness of the city in the early days, and they enjoyed the largest 
share of it. 

Later in life Mr. Burns had the misfortune to be elected to the 
legislature. While a member of that body a bill was introduced 
authorizing the City of Detroit to issue bonds for the purpose 
of raising money to buy a park. The ground to be purchased 
(its locality was named in the bill) was the fine piece of woods 
on the Cook farm, opposite Belle Isle, in Hamtramck. Mr. 
Burns and John Ow^en owned this land. The price per acre to 
be paid was incorporated in the bill, and was $450. 

Great opposition to the bill at once sprang up. It was con- 
tended, aside from the personal interest Mr. Burns had in the 
matter, that it was giving too much to the eastern part of the 
city, while the southern and western part had nothing in the way 
of a park except the Grand Circus. Mr. Burns and the advocates 
of the bill contended, if it passed, it would give the city a beautiful 
piece of woods and grounds ample for park purposes, and at the 
same time the city would acquire title to the property that in the 
near future would more than double in value. 


It happened to be the desire of Mr. Burns and Mr. Owen, 
and the former in a feeling speech before the house expressed it, 
that aside from the bargain the city was getting, it would, of 
course, give a needed resort to all classes, more particularly to 
young men, clerks, etc., who, on Sundays and other days of rec- 
reation, hied themselves to, all sorts of vicious resorts on this 
side and the other side of the river. Canada was a great mecca 
for the youth in the early days. I used to go there on 'a pilgrim- 
age myself, now and then. Well, Mr. Burns and the other advo- 

404 £;ari.y days in Detroit. 

cates of the bill got "busted." The opposition were too strong 
for them, carried too many guns. Mr. Burns may have been a bit 
selfish in his efiforts, as it would undoubtedly have enhanced the 
value of the adjoining property, which was owned by Mr. Owen 
and himself. Let me recall — the bill did pass, but it was left to 
the citizens of Detroit to decide whether they desired a park or 
no, at a mass meeting to be called by the mayor. Well, Mr. W. 
W. Wheaton. ma^'or at that time, did call a mass meeting of cit- 
izens to assemble in front of the rear entrance to the city hall, on 
Griswold Street, to determine the question. Those who wefe in 
favor of the park were to bunch themselves together on one side 
of the entrance, and those opposed on the other. The mayor, 
stationed at an upper window, was to decide. After all had taken 
their places he took a long and critical look at the assembly 
beneath him, and decided no park. I was there, and it seemed a 
mighty close squeak. The people had another try at it while Mr. 
Henry Moffat was mayor. They were called together in the 
same place on the same business. They did get together and 
bunched themselves as did the citizens at the former meeting, 
and with the same result. Mayor Moflfat could not see it. This 
time, too, it seemed to be a mighty close squeak. After this the 
matter was dropped. Referring to the prophecy of Mr. Burns 
that the property would greatly increase in value in the near 
future, it is verified, for today the property is valued at $2,500 
or more per acre. 

And I am strongly of the opinion that the heirs interested at 
present in this property are mighty glad that the park question 
went as it did. 

A GOOD re:sult. 

Well, after all, the opposers of the park builded better than 
they knew. If the tide had turned the other way we would not 
now, perhaps, be the owners of the finest park in the world, Belle 
Isle. "All's well that end's well." In the light of the present, 
what a queer proceeding the foregoing was, to determine a ques- 
tion. I don't imagine that such a thing could happen now. 

At one time later on a German by the name of Hahn kept a 
fur store, dyeing and repairing furs, etc., nearly opposite the old 
Joseph Campau residence and next to Cook & Burns, Jeflferson 
Avenue. He was successful in business, I think. He had two 
fine daughters. One of them married Charles H. Duncks, who 

ohD jeffe:rson ave^nue. 405 

was at that time with Charles Piquette, jewelry, gold pens, etc. 
He afterwards removed to Flint, and engaged in the manufacture 
of spring beds. The other daughter married Robert T. Elliott, 
who was major of the Sixteenth Michigan Volunteer Infantry, 
who was killed in action in Virginia in 1864. He was a fine offi- 
cer and soldier. 

To the Editor of the Free Press: 

I have read, with a great "deal of interest, the articles of Mr. 
Friend Palmer, and I believe, with many others of our city, that 
we can give him hearty thanks for the work he is doing, and also 
*thank The Free Press for the space it gives in publishing them. 

I do not believe that Mr. Palmer will think me captious or 
critical if I suggest a few corrections and additions to his last 
week's paper. He has twice referred to our second mayor as 
Henry I. Hunt. Mr. Hunt's full name was Henry Jackson Hunt, 
and the **I" has crept into some records, because of the peculiar 
manner in which Mr. Hunt wrote his middle initial. 

I am personally acquainted with several members of the 
Dodemead family, and therefore am able to correct one statement 
regarding them that Mr. Palmer made. John Dodemead, the 
Detroit ancestor, left ten children. Robert M. died in 1828 
without issue, David died in 1836 without issue, Isaac died 
in 1818 without issue, John died in 1813 without issue, James 
died in 1818 without issue. Alice married Joseph Wilkinson 
and died in 1850; Betsey married Charles Jouet, at that 
tim<^. Indian factor at Chicago, where she died shortly after 
her marriage, in 1809. She left one daughter, Jane, who 
married Samuel Northington. Ann married Captain Dyson, and 
after his death she married Charles Jackson ; she died in 1850, 
leaving Samuel T. Dyson, who was known as a good fellow and a 
politician in Detroit; Jane M. Dyson, familiarly and lovingly 
known as Aunt Jane. Nearly everyone in Detroit knew her and 
loved her. The third child of Ann Dodemead was Anna Jackson, 
who married a Mr. Watkins, and afterwards married Jonathan 
Thompson; she left three children, Mrs. Overton, Mrs. Smith, 
and Miss Kittie Watkins. One of Mrs. Overton's daughters has 
recently become well known as a novel writer. The ninth child 
of John Dodemean was Maria, who died in 1821, and the young- 
est child was Catherine, who married Jacob B. Varnum. At the 


time of her marriage, Mr. Varnum was Indian factor in Chicago. 
His brother was acting vice-president of the United States during 
the war of 1812. One of Mr. Varnum's sons. Dr. Varnum, now 
Hves in Los Angeles. 

The property at the southeast corner of Jefferson Avenue 
and Shelby Street was the homestead of John Dodemead during 
his life, and there his wife, Jane, and his family lived after his 
death. The wife, Jane, was a very energetic woman, and carried 
on a boarding house or hotel on this corner, which was a famous 
resort in its time. The Supreme Court of the territory held its 
sessions part of the time in the building on this lot. This prop- 
erty afterwards came to be owned by Aunt Jane Dyson and her- 
stepfather, Charles Jackson, by purchase from the other heirs of 
the Dodemead family, and by partition proceedings. It was never 
owned by Mr. Dodemead. The ancestor of John Dodemead 
acquired this lot by purchase from John A skin, January 22, 1799, 
and the title for the property remained in the family nearly one 
hundred years, until it was sold to Mr. Frederick E. Driggs, 
November i, 1897. C. M. Burton. 



OVER the store of Cook &' Burns, on Jefferson Avenue, Miss 
Barker had a dancing school, the only one in the city then 
(1840). She lived there with her brother and family. The 
dancing was done in the parlor. Barker was a musician and 
played on a number of ins'truments, the violin being the chief. He 
furnished the music when sober, but was so rarely in that condition 
that Miss Barker had to sing or hum dancing tunes, and we would 
do fairly well, considering the orchestra. She had quite a class of 
boys and girls from the first families and, although her methods 
were crude, she succeeded in making her pupils pretty fair dan- 
cer's. Many that I know* and remember received their first and 
only lessons from Miss Barker — some of them pretty good dan- 
cers, too. Fancy a dancing school waltzing to the tune of the 
song,"Dark-eyed one, dark-eyed one, come hither to me," hummed 
by the teacher. 

Levi Brown occupied the other part of this brick store (his 
family lived upstairs) for many years, until into the forties, and 
then moved to New York. He dealth in jewelry, clocks and 
watches. Chauncey S. Payne was his partner and succeeded him 
in the business for awhile, then moving to Flint. Levi Brown was 
the inventor of and the first to manufacture the gold pen in the 
United States or elsewhere. He used to charge five dollars for 
the nibs alone and people thought them cheap at that. A nice man 
was Levi Brown and a Christian gentleman. After Mr. Payne, 
Mr. Sibley, from Canandaigua, N. Y., occupied the premises and 
dealt in the same kind of goods as Messrs. Brown and Payne. 


Speaking about dancing schools, somewhere in the forties 
these buildings were swept away to make room for the Masonic 
Hall, with stores underneath, and in one of these stores Mr. Adam 


Couse, assisted by C. F. Amsden, opened a music and piano store, 
and had a dancing scliool in one of the rooms attached to the hall. 
Mr. Couse was a finished dancing master and introduced here all 
the new dances as fast as they appeared on the carpet east. He 
had a large class at once and gave universal satisfaction. He 
alnx}st danced himself to death and had to give it up. 

While in this locality I will take the occasion to mention 
Chauncey S. Payne again. He was the brother of Mrs. Levi 
Brown. He married Miss Smith, a daughter of Jacob Smith, who 
was here before 1805 as a merchant or Indian trader. Captain 
Stockton, of the United States engineers, married another daugh- 
ter of Jacob Smith. He was appointed colonel of the First Regi- 
ment, Michigan Volunteers, at the outbreak of the Mexican war, 
and went to Mexico and returned with them. After that he 
resigned from the army and went to Flint to live and died there 
some time after the civil war. He also was appointed to a Mich- 
igan regiment as colonel during that unpleasantness, the Sixteenth 
Infantry. Jacob Smith had still another daughter whom Colonel 
Garland, United States army, married. The colonel built and 
occupied a residence on the site of the farmer residence of the late 
Mr. Beattie on Jefferson Avenue. Colonel and Mrs. Garland had 
four children, two girls and two boys. The two boys, I think, 
went into the army. Of the two girls, Bessie and Louise, the for- 
mer married Lieutenant Deas, adjutant of the Fifth United States 
Infantry, and Louise, I think, married Lieuteant Longstreet, U. 
S. A., afterwards lieutenant-general of the confederate army 


I presume there are but a few living who remember- Lieu- 
tenant George Deas, adjutant of the Fifth United States Infantry. 
He was a soldier from the crown of his head to the sole of his 
foot ; the finest lo'oking man in the regiment. He made an excur- 
sion into Canada, visiting the officers of the British regiments sta- 
tioned at Maiden, Toronto, Montreal and Quebec, and was by 
them pronounced without peer in any service. 

Deas was in the confederate army also and was killed during 
the war. Many paid court to Bessie, but Deas held the winning 
cards. She was a beautiful and attractive girl, Louise not so much 
so, yet enough to capture Longstreet. The latter had quite a rival 
in the person of Lieutenant Gordon Granger, U. S. A., who was 



then stationed here in Detroit, but it w>as of no use ; Gordon Gran- 
ger, as we all know, got to be brigadier-general during the civil 
war. He was a fighter from "way back" and indeed a "rough 

He was the roughest specimen of a West Point graduate I, 
or any one else, ever saw, I think ; as for myself, I know he was so, 
I had ample opportunity to know him well when he was stationed 
here in Detroit. In the absence of any other officer of the United 
States army who were stationed here and who had been ordered 
to Mexico, he was detailed to assume command of the quarter- 
master's and commissary departments. I was quartermaster and 
commissary clerk at the time and, of course, was in daily com- 
munication with Granger and we came to know each other well. 
He was all right, except that he was rough and uncouth, and got 
along well enough with the boys, but with the girls he was a back 
number. Henry Mullett, of this city (son of John Mullett), who 
had been to West Point, said to me one night at Whipple's, on 
Bates Street, when Granger was present, after looking him over 
for awhile : "He is the^ roughest specimen of a West Point gradu- 
ate I ever saw, but," he said, "if he passed the West Point ordeal 
he is all right and no mistake. There is something in him, sure." 

During the civil war it came out as it did in General Grant's 

The country is still indebted, and so was Phil Sheridan, to 
Gordon Granger, for unearthing and bringing the former into 
prominence. Sheridan at the time was a captain of cavalry, U. S. 
A., and on staff duty at General Halleck's headquarters near 
Farmington, Miss., never expecting, as he himself said, to get 
higher in rank than major. Granger had been colonel of the Sec- 
ond Michigan cavalry, but was promoted to brigadier-general, 
leaving the p>osition of colonel of ttie regiment vacant. He recom- 
mended Sheridan for the place, to Governor Blair, who had been 
looking around for a suitable person to succeed Granger. The 
governor caused the commission of colonel to be issued to him. 
May 25, 1862, and the country is quite familiar with his subsequent 
career. I think General Alger was the officer that conveyed the 
commission of colonel to Sheridan. 

Well, to resume. The space between Levi Brown's and the 
corner of Griswold Street, about 1830, was occupied by a law firm, 
Cole & Porter; Jerry Dean's saddlery and harness shop, Stephen 


Wells's book and stationery store ond O. & L. Newberry's general 
store. The law firm's office was a small one story building, pillars 
in front ; the late Senator Jacob M. Howard was a law student 
with this firm, as I had occasion to know, because at that time he 
was my Sunday school teacher in the Baptist Sunday school. Hte 
was an ideal teacher, to my mind. His clear and interesting 
expounding of the meanings of the various passages of Scripture 
included in our lessons made it quite easy for our young minds to 
grasp them. In all his after life, until death took him so suddenly, 
he was, in my mind, always my Sunday school teacher. 


To the Editor of the free Press: 

In reply to Mr. C. M. Burton in yours of Sunday last, say: 
Instead of thinking him captious or critical in suggesting a few 
corrections and additions to my articles that appeared the 13th, I 
thank him very much. In calling to mind the personalities, etc., of 
various old residents of Detroit who have passed away, I did not,, 
and do not intend to give, only in a partial way, their antecedents,, 
nor the after career of their descendants, as in some instances it 
would be impossible. All those old residents that I have men- 
tioned, and those that I may hereafter mention, I knew personally, 
and those of that time that I did not know, I do not write about. 

In regard to Mr. Hunt. I never heard him called by any 
other name than Henry I. Hunt. He being such a prominent man 
in this community, and having died such a brief period before I 
came, his name was, so to speak, in everyone's mouth. Have no 
doubt his name was as Air. Burton puts it. 

As regards the Dodemeads, Dysons and Jacksons, I only 
know about the first named that Mrs. Dyson was a Dodemead, and 
that the property referred to, corner Jefferson Avenue and Shelby 
Street, was always called the Dodemead corner. I knew Sam Dy- 
son and Aunt Jane intimately (think I have mentioned them 
before). I also knew Anna Jackson well. Was an admirer of 
hers myself, and when she married Mr. Leonard Watkins ("Len" 
Watkins) I was his best man. In a future article I shall have 
something to say in regard to Anna Watkins's three daughters, as 
also her second husband, Jonathan Thompson. 

Referring to Mr. Tunis S. Wendell, whose name was men- 
tioned in a former article, I omitted to say that two of his daugh- 



ters are still living; one, the widow of Mr-. Geo. E. Curtiss (for- 
merly leather dealer here) at 374 Cass Avenue; and the other, 
widow of Mr. Reuben Doolittle, who was an extensive paper 
dealer in Chicago, lives in the latter city, at 174 Oakwood Boule- 
vard. I also mentioned a son of Mr. Wendell, Captain Chas. E. 
Wendell, as having been killed in the civil war. I desire to add 
that he fell while leading the First Michigan Volunteer Regiment 
at "double quick" immediately after the fall of Colonel Horace S. 
Roberts, his most intimate comrade in arms. This at the second 
battle of Bull Run. Friend Palmer. 

Detroit, December 22, 1903. 


ON Jefferson Avenue, adjoining the Dodmead house (T. B. 
Wendell's store), Judge Abraham Canniff had a boot and 
shoe store, he being a shoemaker by trade. Charles M. 
Bull, next to him, kept a general grocery store. Along here a 
woman had a millinery shop, she afterwards became Mrs. Chaun- 
cey Hulbert. 

David Cooper had a general store, and Conrad Seek had a 
tailor shop about 1830. Afterwards on part of this property was 
built the Granite Block, so-called. It was not granite, however, 
but an imitation, being brick covered with stucco. Later on, 1845, 
G. F. Rood & Co. Qccupied a story and a half building as a sta- 
tionery store and book bind-ery adjoining.. 

Dr. Hoyt built and occupied a four-story brick building that 
adjoined the F. & M. Bank. This was afterwards occupied as a 
billiard saloon and dwelling by Tobias Love. The billiard saloon 
was the first floor. It was afterwards occupied by the Peninsula 
Bank on the first floor, and the upstairs as offices by William 
Hale, lawyer. 


Lawyer Hale, as he was more familiarly termed, was at one 
time a member of the Common Council, and when General Cass 
proposed to donate to the city the present Cass Park. The sub- 
ject came up before the council May 8, i860 (it had been up 
before, it appears), through the following resolution, offered by 
Mr. Hale : 

"Resolved, that the resolution and proceedings of the Com- 
''mon Council in relation to the acceptance of a parcel of ground 
**to be conveyed to the city for a public park by Lewis Cass, be, 
"and the same are hereby rescinded." 

Mr. Hale w^as much opposed to the acceptance by the city of 
the land proposed to be donated under the terms attached to the 
gift by Mr. Henry Ledyard, the agent of General Cass. It 


appeared that Mr. Hale had formed the idea, and so stated in his 
remarks on the resolution, that Mr. Ledyard desired the city to 
spend much more money in beautifying the ground to be donated, 
laying out walks, fencing, setting out trees, planting flowers, 
building a fountain and doing other things tending to make the 
grounds attractive, for the sole purpose of enhancing the value 
of the lots surrounding and adjacent the property of the general. 
He also stated that in case the council did not accept the terms, 
the proffer of the land would be withdrawn for an indefinite 
period. He made quite a lengthy and spicy argument against it, 
in which he handled the general and Mr. Ledyard without gloves. 
What decision the council came to then I do not know. Perhaps 
Mr. Ledyard modified his demands, or the council swallowed them 
whole. Anyway, the city now has the park, and a lovely piece of 
ground it is, with its abundance of fine trees, its flower-bordered 
walks, and its fine fountain, the finest for the amount of water 
thrown of any in the city, with the exception perhaps of the foun- 
tain on Washington Avenue, near the Hotel Cadillac, and that 
only within the last year or so. I imagine the people of Detroit 
would not hold Mr. Hale in grateful remembrance had he suc- 
ceeded in inducing the Common Council to reject the gift of Gen- 
eral Cass. 

Mr. Hale at one time kept the National Hotel (Russell 
House). He went to California and died there. Something of a 
coincidence, his brother-in-law, Wm. J. Chittenden, is the present 
proprietor of that hostelry. 

A bright young man, Frank Pixley (I think he was a rela- 
tive), was a student in Mr. Hale's office about 1849. ^ ^^ ^^t 
know whether he was admitted to the bar here or not. Anyway, 
he went to San Francisco and became editor and proprietor of 
The Argonaut, published in that city, a journal widely and fav- 
orably known. He died in San Francisco a few years ago. I 
presume many he;"e and elsewhere will call him to mind. 

Colonel Grayson, commissary ; Major Sibley, quartermaster, 
and Major Hunter, paymaster, all of the United States Army, also 
had offices in the building. Later on G. F. Rood & Co., in place 
of their wooden building,' erected a four-story brick building 
which they occupied until Mr. Rood's death. John Owen & Co. 
occupied a store in the Granite Block, before mention-ed, as did 
Jacobs & Garrison. The F. & M. Bank, next to "Tob" Love's, 


was erected sometime in the thirties. It was a fine building, of 
cut stone, four stories high with basement. Joy & Porter and 
George C. Bates at one time had their offices here, as also did the 
American Express Co. when Wm. G. Fargo was agent. The 
David Cooper block covered the site of his old store as well as that 
of Conrad Seek's tailor shop, and the millinery shop or store. 

The Cooper Block was of brick, three stories high, and a 
capacious unfinished attic, and was built along in the thirties. 
Mr. Cooper occupied the first store as a general store for some 
years, until he retired. Mr. David Cooper was a most methodical 
man in all he said or did. A conscientious Christian gentleman, 
he was quite thrifty and most modest in all his desires, owing no 
doubt to his early training with the firm of Mack & Conant. From 
a humble beginning he acquired position and a large fortune. In 
trade he was exactness itself. He was his own bookkeeper always, 
and when you received an invoice or statement of account from 
him, where fractions occurred in either, it was always 6^, 123^, 
18^, 373^, 62 }4, 87^, pro or con, as the case might be, in every 
instance. I have seen his day book often, and it did look too odd. 
He used to say he only wanted what was his own, and desired to 
accord to others their own. I do not think he ever sued a debtor, 
or foreclosed a mortgage. I never heard that he did the latter, 
though he must have had from time to time large amounts out 
on that class of security. In addition to his Jefferson Avenue 
store, he had a lime house situated on the slip at the foot of 
Wayne Street. It was a small brick structure and contained the 
lime burned at Sibley & Cooper's stone quarries down the river, 
just this side of Wyandotte or Trenton. I think he was the only 
one in the city at that time who had lime for sale. He also kept 
building stone for sale from the same locality. This double duty, 
store, lime house and building stone kept the old gentleman, his 
clerk, George Woods, and his son, George A. Cooper, quite as 
busy as they desired to be. I always wondered why Mr. Cooper 
got rid of his interest in the stone quarry so easily and cheaply as 
he did. He had the entire management of the business and occa- 
sional differences would arise between the Sibley's and himself 
in regard to his methods in carrying on the business. On one 
occasion, and I was present — in. fact the only one present but the 
two parties concerned, — the meeting occurred in May, E. S. Sib- 
ley's office. In discussing the affairs of the company a little 


heated talk occurred, whereupon Mr. Cooper said: ''Major, Til 
tell you what I'll do. I will give you $10,000 for your interest in 
the business or take $10,000 for mine." The major said on the 
instant. ''Mr. Cooper, it is a bargain." The affair was closed 
then and there. I was Major Sibley's clerk at the time. I 
say the affair was closed at the time and at the figure I have 
named, as I never heard anything to the contrary. I thought then 
and have always thought since that Mr. Cooper did not expect 
that the major would take him up so promptly. Mr. Cooper had 
two sons and one daughter. The daughter, Adeline, married Dr. 
Sprague, of Rochester, Mich. The eldest son, George A., died 
many years ago. He was a schoolmate of mine and always an 
intimate friend. He was a young man of much promise and his 
early taking off was much felt by his fam.ily, as well as by the gay 
young society in which he moved. The next son, Rev. David M. 
Cooper, is with us yet, and all know him so favorably that it 
would be useless for me to say anything further in his direction, 
only to join with all who know him in expressions of esteem and 


Then T. H. Eaton had it for a drug store, groceries and dye 
stuffs. A spruce individual was T. H. Eaton and well up in the 
drugs, dye woods and grocery business. He came here from 
Buffalo about 1841, and had there been a member of the firm of 
Wm. Williams & Co., druggists and grocers, I do not suppose 
there was ever before his advent here or since, a more suave bid- 
der for trade and position than he. He was connected by mar- 
riage with Bishop McCoskrey, and John A. Welles, the banker. 
He soon acquired both position and comparative wealth; wealth 
that as the years went on continued to increase until at his death 
it must have been a most comfortable fortune. He first estab- 
lished himself in the American Hotel Block, corner Jefferson 
Avenue and Randolph Street, succeeding David A. McNair, the 
latter having succeeded Riley & Ackerly, both concerns in the 
drug and grocery business. After the fire of 1848 he moved to 
the Cooper Block, further down Jefferson Avenue, and from there 
to the fine new store corner Woodward Avenue and Atwater 
Street, where his son, who succeeded him, is now located. He 
was the first to introduce here a machine to grind the brown Mus- 
covado sugar. As many will remember, it was about the only 


quality of sugar in general use here at that day, white and loaf 
being considered luxuries. The sugar came in large hogsheads, 
and on opening the contents would be mostly in large hard lumps 
that took much time and hard work with axes and hammers to 
bring them to a granulated state. The machine obviated the diffi- 
culty and was a great boon to the trade. He was a neat penman 
and kept his own books at that date. He was particularly proud 
of his work in that direction. He used to show with a great deal 
of satisfaction a copy of an inventory taken of the stock of Wm. 
Williams & Co., of Buffalo, just before he left that concern, and 
it certainly was a model. He was always a neat dresser and a 
most precise, methodical man. He certainly was fond of acquir- 
ing money, and it is my impression his charities were large and 
mostly in the direction of the Episcopal Church, of which he was a 
member. I came to know him fairly well because a chum of mine, 
Chas. T. Paddock, nephew of Mr. Chas. Jackson, was his confi- 
dential as well as his prescription clerk. I also heard much of 
him in Buffalo after I went there, as the drug house of Wm. Wil- 
liams & Co. was on the same block on Main Street, as was the 
bookstore of Messrs. Peck, in which house I was a clerk. They all 
spoke of him as a very bright young man. He built himself a 
palatial residence (now occupied by his son) on Jefferson Avenue. 
He was a familiar figure on the avenue in those days, riding home 
from his Woodward Avenue store on that white horse of his that 
the coachman brought down regularly every afternoon for his use. 
Many will call this to mind no doubt. Mr. Eaton was politeness 
and consideration itself to his clerks and employees during the 
early part of his career here, and I presume he kept it up until his 
life's end. 

Mr. Thomas Cranage, now of the extensive lumbering firm of 
Pitts & Cranage, Bay City, w^as at one time, and for quite a period, 
clerk for Mr, Eaton. The business habits he acquired in Eaton's 
house have no doubt stood' him in good stead through all his life. 


A frequent visitor to the Eaton mansion was Col. John M. 
Berrien, engineer of the Michigan Central Railroad, when it was 
the property of the state. The colonel was a West Pointer, and 
graduated into the engineers, resigning to enter the employ of 



the state in laying out the road. He had for an assistant Lieu- 
tenant Center, who had also been a West Pointer. 

The mother of Theo. H. Eaton, Maria Montgomery, was the 
granddaughter of Judge John Berrien, lineal ancestor of Colonel 
Berrien, engineer of the Michigan Central Railroad. It is said 
General Washington wrote his farewell address to the army while 
a guest of, and in the house of Judge Berrien's widow at Rocky 
Hill, near Princeton, New Jersey, December ist, 1783. 

Many of the present day will remember Colonel ^errien, 
whose commanding and soldierly figure was often seen on the 
streets. He died many years ago. In this connection it may not 
be out of place to mention John A. Welles, the banker, who mar- 
ried a sister of Mr. Eaton. 


5. L. ROOD'S 5TORL. 


CHAPIN & OWEN had the next store with the same class 
of goods, and Snow & Fisk with books and stationer\' had 
the next. Josiah Snow, of Snow & Fisk, I presume many 
will call to mind — a fussy, plump, nervous little man, always 
on the go, always a cigar in his mouth and scarcely ever was 
lighted. He was engaged in all sorts of enterprises after he left 
the book business. The last I heard of him was directly after the 
war. He was then engaged in building telegraph lines. His 
right-hand man here was Scott W. Updike, who some will, per- 
haps, remember, for everyone knew him at the time. He was an 
enthusiastic fireman, as well as one of the trimmest members of 
the Brady Guards. He was a master in the art of dancing, and 
no firemen's or Brady Guards' ball was complete unless Scott 
Updike was on hand to call the sets. Standing on the lower step 
of the platform on which the music was stationed, his trim figure 
on these occasions always arrayed in the uniform of the Brady 
Guard, his loud and commanding voice would sway and direct the 
gay crowd before him through all the mazes of the giddy dance, 
as none other in all my experience has ever done. The last I ever 
saw of him was at a military encampment in Cleveland many 
years ago. He was then captain of a military company from 
Rochester, and myself and the late Dr. Lucretius Cobb were his 
guests for two or three days. He gave us a good time. 


The upstairs portion was used for offices and sleeping rooms. 
William Patterson (late of the old book store on Michigan Ave- 
nue) had a job printing office here. Robert Abbott, auditor- 
general of the State of Michigan, had his office here, as did 
Thomas Palmer and A. E. Hathon, H. R. Schoolcraft, Indian 
agent, and Dr. Marshall Chapin, Mr. Owen's partner. 

The firm of Chapin & Owen was dissolved through the death 


of Dr. Chapin, and Theodore H. Hinchman, head clerk in the 
late concern, took his place, and the firm name changed to John 
Owen & Co. After a few years here they moved a few doors down 
into the Granite Block. John W. Strong occupied this John 
Owen store along about 1848, '49 and '50, with a stock of gro- 
ceries, wines and liquors. John Owen & Co.'s neighbors in the 
same block were Jacobs & Garrison, corner of Jefferson Avenue 
and Shelby Street, as mentioned before, and they were in the 
same line of business. Snow & Fisk were succeeded by Sidney 
L. Rood & Co., in the same line, Sidney L. Rood and Morris F. 
Williams purchasing the stock of Snow & Fisk. After a brief 
period :\1. M. Williams retired and took a position in the post- 
office, which he retained through all administrations until his 
death. I might say in passing that I succeeded to the business of 
G. L. Rood & Co. after Mr. Gilbert Rood's death, which occurred 
in 185 1. 

'^'^Gllv ROOD.'^ 

This G. F. Rood ("Gil" Rood) was a queer combination. 
He was rough, though kind and genial, and fond of a joke. Hon- 
est to a fault, his word was as good as his bond. He always 
expressed himself as a follower of Tom Paine, as did his brother 
Sidney, although whether they really believed in his teachings or 
not, I do not know. At the time of his death "Gil" expressed a 
wish that a band of music should play "Yankee Doodle" on the 
.way to the cemetery, and "Hail Columbia" on the way back, which 
was done. 

I was clerk and bookkeeper for S. L. Rood after* Mr. Wil- 
liams left, for nearly three years, until he quit business and 
removed to Fredonia, Chautaqua Co., N. Y. From the latter place 
he removed to Milwaukee, got rich and died there about 1873. 
Sidney L. Rood was an out-and-out Whig in politics, an all- 
around good fellow, genial and most charitable, his purs& ever 
ready to respond to the cry of want. His store was the head- 
quarters of the jolly set of Detroit's contingent (the old heads), 
Whig or Democrat. In .those days it was customary for loiterers 
and customers of the proprietors to occupy chairs in front of the 
premises on the pavement under the awning in the summer time. 
Here, in front of Rood's, of* a hot summer's afternoon would 
gather such genial spirits as Judge Canniff, Levi Cook, David 
Thompson, Charles Jackson, Jerry, Virgil McGraw, 
Frank Hall, Mr. Meredith, Judge Backus, John Farmer, Thomas 


Palmer, A. E. Hathon, Uncle Henry Newberry, John Mullett, 
Oliver Newberry, Ezra Rood, John Scott (father of "J^"^" 
Scott), Joseph Campau, who was always an amused spectator), 
and many others. The topics of the day would then and there 
be discussed and whatever fun there was in the crowd was sure 
to come out. The same parties did not get together every day, 
of course, but they did not skip very often. Oliver Newberry 
w^ould never tarry long, but would linger a few moments on his 
way to the Bank of Michigan, quiet and taciturn, listen to a joke 
or tW'O from Canniff and others, and pass on w4th a grim smile. 


Uncle Henry Newberry was almost a daily attendant. He 
was crusty and taciturn, but kind-hearted, loved a joke but rarely 
indulged in perpetrating one. He always persisted in being on 
the wrong side of nearly all questions discussed there or else- 
where. To illustrate : One day he made his appearance, looking 
rather the worse for wear and exceedingly crusty. He was ques- 
tioned by Judge Canniff and said ''he had passed through an 
experience that would make any man crusty, ill and sour-tem- 
pered, and that was he had been summoned on a jury and had 
passed the entire night sitting up with eleven of the contrariest 
men he ever met." I think John Farmer was the most argument- 
ative and persistent talker of the lot. Rood was the publisher, so 
to speak, of Farmer's maps of Michigan, consequently he was a 
frequent visitor. 

Mr. Rood, in addition to his book and stationery business, 
carried on quite an extensive book bindery and blank book fac- 
tory in a small wooden building in the rear of the store. Rood, 
with all his good points, was apt sometimes to be a little rough. 
He said to me, directly after entering his employ : 

iTalmer, have you ever kept a set of books?" I said "No, 
sir." Then he said : "Williams has left and, damn you, if you 
want to stay with me you have got to keep those books." It is 
needless to say I kept the books. , • 


Rood used to furnish the legislature, until the capital moved 
to Lansing, with paper and stationery — quite a good thing those 
days, no contract and no grumbling at price. On the start, at 

S. L. ROODS STORE. 42 1 

the opening of the session, the order always was : Sixty bunches 
quills, sixty Roger's penknives, sixty sand boxes, sixty wafer 
cups, sixty rulers, sixty papers of black ink powder, sixty wafer 
stamps, sixty pieces of red tape, sixty dozen of lead pencils, sixty 
small bottles of pounce, sixty erasers, sixty inkstands, sixty papers 
of black sand, and, besides all these articles, quite a quantity of 
letter and fool's-cap paper, envelopes or wrapping paper, red ink, 
wafers, sealing wax, etc. "Something of a starter." 

I slept in the store, on a bed made up on the counter, and 
boarded in Mr. Rood's family. They did not give much salary 
then. My princely compensation was $50 the first year and 
board, $100 the second, and $150 the third, and so on. I thus 
worried through three years rather happily. 

One of Mr. Owen's clerks, Reuel Roby, and myself were 
great chums. After closing at night, at 9 o'clock, we would spend 
the evening together, either at his place or mine. While clerking 
next to John Owen'"s, I never lacked, in a small way, for candy, 
nuts, oranges and cigars. Wines of the finest brands and other 
strong liquors were always on tap, but neither Reuel nor myself 
partook of the latter. For some cause or other we had no desire 
to do so. 

Re U Ely ROBY. 

Reuel Roby was the son of Mr. John Roby, who did an 
extensive forwarding and commission business at the foot of 
Shelby Street (Roby's dock and warehouse), until the time of 
his death about 1825 or 1826. A widow, three sons and one 
daughter survived him. The widow and daughter passed away 
soon after, and of the three boys, Henry, the eldest, went into the 
employ — I think — of Wm. Brewster, forwarding and commission 
merchant, as bookkeeper. He continued in the same capacity, 
with various firms, until he went into business on his own account, 
associating himself with John T. Hunt (Hunt & Roby). 

Reuel, the next, entered the employ of Chapin & Owen and 
remained with them, as principal prescription clerk, for many ' 
years. John, the next, entered the service of a forwarding and 
commission house on the dock, who had a business connection 
with the firm of HoUister Bros., Buffalo. This latter firm had a 
branch of their concern located at Monroeville. Ohio, then a great 
railroad transfer center. John, being an exceedingly bright 
young man, soon attracted the attention of the HoUisters, and 


they made him a flattering offer to take charge of their branch at 
Monroeville, which he accepted, and ever after made that town 
his home. 

A change in the railroad system of Ohio served to divert 
much of the business from Monroeville, so John Roby went into 
the malting business c^uite extensively on his own account, the 
Hollisters in the meantime having withdrawn their interest. The 
malting business, which had assumed large proportions, and what 
little remained of the railroad freight business, taxed John's 
capacity to the utmost, so he summoned Henry and Reuel to his 
aid, Henry having severed his connection with Hunt. They 
responded, and the three brothers undertook the business together. 
Shortly after Henry's advent in Monroeville he married a sister 
of Hon. Thomas W. Palmer, of this city, and took up his perma- 
nent residence there. After a married life of a few years' dura- 
tion, the wife died, leaving a daughter, who subsequently married 
Major Frank Hamilton, Fourth United States Artillery, a native 
of Monroeville. The latter was militarv attache to the United 
States legation at the court of Madrid, Spain, during Senator T. 
W. Palmer's mission there. Mrs. Hamilton accompanied him. 

The Robys acquired a comfortable fortune in Monroeville, 
but they are all dead, as are Captain Hamilton and wife. 

The major was a graduate of West Point. His wife was a 
most estimable woman. There are but very few of the present 
residents of Monroeville that do not hold in loving memory the 
Robys and Major Hamilton and his wife. 



RIGHT here, let me dwell for a few moments on Mr. John 
Owen. A wonderful business man he was then and con- 
tinued so for many years, almost to the time of his^ death. 
He was apt to be at times somewhat harsh with the clerks in 
the store and sometimes with his sons. He was very pleasant in 
liis family always. He was the same among his fellow Metho- 
dists, in the church and in the Sabbath and singing school. He 
was an ardent Methodist and was a familiar figure in the choir of 
the old wooden church on the corner of Woodward Avenue and 
Congress Street, of which he was the leader. He was the main- 
stay of the Methodists for years in this city and state. 

I think it was his nature to be prompt and exacting in busi- 
ness matters, hence his success. When he came to the store in 
the morning or at any time, it would always be with a rapid, 
hurried walk. He would march with the same step directly to 
the bookkeeper's desk, at the rear of the store. On reaching his 
destination off would go his plug hat and in his quick and decisive 
way would summon either Theo. Hinchman or Roby, the confi- 
dential clerk, to his presence and then would begin the business 
of the day. Senator Palmer, when a boy, roughed it in Mr'. 
(Jwen's store for about a year, as a coarse hand clerk. 

I, myself, stood in wholesome awe of Mr. Owen and, indeed, 
it never entirely wore off, though we were always on friendly 
terms. I think he believed in me somehow (though it took me a 
long time to find it out), as, for instance, during the civil war, he 
was state treasurer, and part of that time I was assistant quarter- 
master-general of the state. 


While I was acting in that capacity Mr. Owen had succeeded 
in placing $200,000 worth of the bonds of the state, authorized 
to be issued by the legislature for the purpose of raising money 


to pay state bounties. The cash was in the bank to the credit of 
the state, and the quartermaster-general was out of the city, in 
Washington. On this money the bank was paying interest to the 
state. Mr. Owen, the president of the bank, did not like the 
situation. He came to the office one morning and said he desired 
to turn this money over to our department and so stop the interest. 
I said to him : 

"The quartermaster-general is in Washington and I am not 
properly in condition to receive it, as I am not under bonds to the 

"I know it," said he, "but it will be all right, and if you will 
take thie money and receipt for it it will be passed to your credit 
at the bank." 

I assented, gave a receipt, and the $200,cxx) was passed to my 
credit. To say that I was surprised would not express it. You 
might have knocked me down with a feather. Ever after I 
looked upon Mr. Owen in a far different light. 

At the outbreak of the civil war, as said, Mr. Owen was 
state treasurer. The treasury was almost empty. In this emer- 
gency the governor (Blair) convened the legislature at once, to 
devise ways and means for the purpose of equipping the troops 
of the state destined for the service of the United States (Presi- 
dent Lincoln having called for 75,000 men to aid in putting down 
the rebellion). In the meantime, in response to the appeal of 
the president through our governor, the First and Second regi- 
ments of infantry were rapidly recruited and came in to camp 
the first at Fort Wayne and the second at Camp Blair, out Wood- 
ward Avenue. 

MR. OWEn's great service. 

Clothing, tents, equipments, ammunition, etc., were needed 
at once; the necessity was imperative. In this dilemma Mr. 
Ow^en came to the front, and on his own individual responsibility 
guaranteed to A. T. Stewart & Co., New York, the payment of an 
invoice of army cloth sufficient to clothe the First and Second 
regiments. Colonel Henry M. Whittlesey, acting for the state, 
was dispatched at once by the governor to New York to nego- 
tiate its purchase. It is needless to say the goods came on with 
quickest dispatch. A little later on Colonel E. O. Grosvenor was 
dispatched on a like errand and under the same auspices to the 
New England factories for the purchase of underclothing, 
socks, etc. 

MR. JOHN 0WE;N. 425 

Most all citizens of Michigan at the present day know with 
what promptness the first two regiments of Michigan troops were 
put into the field, armed and equipped for immediat service. 
When recounting the deeds of Michigan's citizens in the civil war, 
to uphold the union, the name of John Owen, it seems to me, 
should stand pre-eminent. War without its principal sinew 
(cash) would be but a rush in the dark. 

I think it may be pertinent to say in this connection that the 
purchase from A. T. Stewart & Co. could not- have beeen dupli- 
cated in any northern city one week later, as the demand for army 
cloth was so urgent. 


In passing I will halt for a brief space to say a few words 
about Judge Canniff. Where or how he acquired the title of 
"judge" was not apparent, but he was always addressed as such. 
He was an inveterate joker and gave as good as he got. He was 
for many years the agent for Suydam, Sage & Co., wholesale 
grocers, of New York, before their failure and after. They had 
large interests here and throughout the state, all of which the 
judge settled up to the satisfaction of the firm. I was in a good 
position to know, as I made up his final statement to the firm and 
closed the account. 

The judge was mighty fond of money and strictly honest. 
When I had closed the account I speak of, he handed me a twcf 
dollar bill, saying at the time : 

"Don't let Jim or Ann (his son and daughter) know anything 
about this, as they might make a fuss." 

I presume he feared they might think he was throwing his 
money away. He left quite a large estate to his children, but 
mostly -to his son James, who was his idol. I rather think James 
must have played it on the old man, as during the last sickness 
of the latter James would allow scarcely anyone but the doctor to 
see his father, not even his adopted son, Henry Canniflf. James 
did not live long to enjoy what he got, a few years only. He 
divorced his wife, married his ward, and built himself a fine resi- 
dence on the Canada side, opposite Belle Isle. He had a stroke 
of paralysis, lingered along two or three years almost helpless, 
and then passed to the "beyond." And thus it is. 



Daniel J. Campau, father of the present Daniel J., built him- 
self a wooden building, two stories high, on his father's lot, next 
to Rood's, in which he carried on the dry goods business in all its 
branches, kept a fine line of goods and did a fine business. A 
good business man was Dan, the most capable of any of his 
father's sons, except Joe, who was the old gentleman's favorite 
and man of afifairs. The latter died many years ago, in 1838 or 
'39, 1 forget which. Dan was considered quite a high roller, loved 
fast horses and all things else in their train. Nevertheless, ha 
made money and retired from business wnth a competency, which, 
added to that his father left him, made him a rich man. His suc- 
cess in the dry goods business, I think, was partly due to his able 
assistants, the late Charles Vail and a nephew, the late Henry 
Campau, the latter for so many years in the county register's 

When Theo. Hinchman first came to Detroit, himself and 
Charles Vail were great chums and were ''boys about town," into 
most everything that was going of a lively nature. They used to 
relate to Reuel Roby and myself, when they came into Mr. Owen's 
store late at night, an account of their adventures around the city. 
They were always in high glee, not from intoxicants, but from 
the fun they had had attending French dances, etc. But a stop 
came to all this. Mr. Theo. Parker, a Presbyterian revivalist, 
eame along and preached his stirring sermons, morning, noon and 
night. He created quite a furor. Hundreds were drawn into the 
fold, among them Hinchman and Vail. They became devout 
Christians, as much down on their fonr^er follies as they had been 
eager in their pursuit, and so each continued to his life's end. 



To the Editor of The Free Press: 

I appreciate very highly the kindly reference made to my 
revered father by my old friend, Mr. Friend Palmer, in the 
Sunday Free Press of January 3. One or two qualifications of 
statements are nevertheless necessary. He said: 

''In trade he was exactness itself. He was his own book- 
keeper, always, and when you received an invoice or statement of 
account from him, w-here fractions occurred in either, it was 
always 6^, 12^2, 18^, 37>^, 62^, and 87^, pro or c®n as the 
case might be in every instance. I have seen his day book often, 
and it did look too odd." 

But really I cannot see anything ''odd" in his style of book- 
keeping. It w^as the one in vogue in his time, before the intro- 
duction of the decimal system and was the outcrop of the pounds, 
shillings and pence period. It was the mode in which I was 
instructed in my youth, and it always was pleasing to me by its 

It would interest Mr. "Friend" to see an account now before 
me, when my father was clerk to one Richard Pattison, in Sand- 
wich — probably his first clerkship before he fixed himself in 

I recollect my father point out to me the old Sandwich store 
shortly before it was burned. The credit side of the account 
reads : 


By year's wages from 14 June, 181 1, to 2 January, 1812, 
6 mos. 19 Ds. at £80 per annum £44 3s 4d, Due Mr. Cooper £28, 
i6s 8d. Sandwich, 16 March, 1812. 

E. E. 



• His old account books I have stored away, as a legacy for my 
children. If I supposed it would interest your readers I could give 
some choice tracts from these old-time accounts. I never saw 
more beautiful penmanship, and that done with the old quill pen. 
Steel pens, of course, were unknown. And I remember, as if it 
were yesterday, the glee with which coming home from the store 
one day he exhibited his first gold pen purchased from Mr. Levi 
Brown, a watchmaker, and deacon in St. Paul's church, for which 
he paid $5 and whose shop stood on the site of the present Willis 
Block. I supposed then, and have never seen it contradicted, that 
Mr. Brown was the inventor of the gold pen. Mr. Brown sube- 
quently sold out to Mr. Payne and removed to New York City. 
His chief workman, Mr. Griesbach, continued until quite recently 
the business of repairing gold pens. Since his death, at an 
advanced age, his son carries on like work at his residence on 
Orleans Street. 



The transfer of the lime quarry to Judge Sibley was on the 
basis of $12,000 instead of $10,000, as Mr. Palmer states. At 
least so I have always understood. 

Solomon Sibley, one of the most noted of the early residents 
and judge of Michigan territory, came here in 1797, and some 
years after that acquired title from the government to a valuable 
tract of land in what is now the Township of Monguagon, while 
Colonel Mack, also one of the earliest American residents, 
obtained possession of the adjoining tract. The Sibley property 
went by descent to Frederick B. Sibley, while Colonel Mack's 
parcel came into possession of his son-in-law, David Cooper. 
There were outcroppings of an excellent quality of limestone on 
both tracts, and Mr. Cooper opened a quarry about the year 1840. 
Three or four years later the general government commenced the 
construction of Fort Wayne, and in order to obtain the material 
leased a portion of Mr. Cooper's quarry. From the stone there 
obtained all the concrete used in the first fortification at the fort 
was obtained, as well as the stone, in blocks, out of vv^hich the 
officers' quarters and barracks were built. One of these struc- 
tures burned down during the period that the fort was unoccupied 
after the war. The other, the large stone structure inside the 

A son's tribute. 429 

fortifications, has been used as barracks down to the present time. 
This work of construction was carried on by General Meigs, after- 
wards quartermaster-general of the army. 

HIS faithfulne:ss. 

As an example of the faithfulness of Mr. Cooper as a clerk 
for Mack & Conant this anecdote has often been told of him : 

One of the habitues of the store was the eccentric Judge - 
Woodward, who was in the habit of calling every evening and 
helping himself to a glass of whisky. This he would p'ace before 
him and while discoursing pedantically on history, politics, met- 
aphysics and every other conceivable subject, would sip the liquor 
until the tumbler was empty. As he never offered to pay, the 
bookkeeper felt it his duty to make an entry of each glass on the 
back page of the daybook. 

One day the judge was presented with a paper which, on 
unfolding, he found to be a bill of some seventy-five half pints of 
whisky at five cents each. 

''What?" he cried, "do you charge for such a thing as a 
little whisky?" 

''Not for a little," was the answer. "This amount shows that 
you have had four gallons and a half." 

The judge came off his high horse and paid the bill but 
unwillingly and with a very bad grace. 


And now, as my "Friend" has opened this topic, allow me 
before I conclude to occupy a little more of your space to dis- 
charge a filial duty to one to whom I owe so much. Possibly so 
suitable an opportunity may not occur again. 

Many years ago I. accompanied my father on his first visit to 
Montreal since his birth, in search of some reminders of his child- 
hood. The old streets were there in the French quarter where he 
acquired a knowledge of the French language which served him 
so well when in subsequent years, as a merchant in a city where 
the use of that tongue predominated, he did business. But noth- 
ing seemed familiar to him except the old Bonsecour Catholic 

Strange that we should have then missed St. Gabriel's, in 
which he received the rite of baptism shortly after its erection in 
1786 — the oldest Protestant church in Montreal, whose centennial 
celebration occurred March 12, 1886. 



The building is now occupied as an annex to some municipal 
structure. While examining it I noticed that the marble tablet on 
the outside, announcing the fact of its antiquity, attracted to it a 
constant file of visitors. Standing, it preserves the memory of 
Christian courtesies in early days between the three leading 
Christian communions. 

While the church was being built the good old Recollect 
fathers offered the congregation the use of their chapel to wor- 
ship in. The sturdy Scotchmen accepted the offer, and when they 
moved into their own kirk they presented the fathers with a hogs- 
head of canary wine and two boxes of candles. ' 

Subsequently, when the Anglican church was burned, the 
Presbyterians, doubtless remembering how they had been indebted 
to others, came forward promptly and put St. Gabriel's at the 
entire disposal of the Anglicans for the half of every Sunday until 
their church could be rebuilt. 

The knowledge of its continued existence came to me in a 
curious way. One of those ''New Year's Greetings" which I was 
accustomed to present annually to my congregation, and in which 
allusion was made to the fact that I built the Memorial church in 
memory of my father, by 'some chance came into the hands of 
Rev. Robert Campbell, pastor of St. Gabriel's. It led him to 
address me the following note : 

"68 Jainville St., 
"Montreal, Nov. 5, 1886. 

"Dear Brother — My friend and co-presbyter, Mr. Jordan, 
mentioned the circumstance of your father's birth in Montreal in 
1789 to me the other day, and being curious in the matter I turned 
to the old church register used in common by the Protestants of 
the city in those days, and I found the following entry: 'David, 
5on of Mr. Alexander and Elizabeth Cooper, born the 24th day of 
November. Baptized the 19th day of December, 1789.' 

y V 


In 1799, three years after the first flag that ever floated in 
Michigan bearing the Stars and Stripes was given to the breeze,^ 
we find Mr. Cooper in the City of Detroit — then only a military 
post — a lad 10 years of age, without influential friends and no 
relative excepting a widowed mother of slender means, whose re.^"- 

A SON S TRIBUTE. . 43 1 

idence, a little one-story wood colored house, was on the site 
of the present Union Trust building. 

The necessity of earning his own livelihood led to his appren - 
ticeship to Mr. James Henry, a merchant then doing business in a 
store on St. Anne Street (now Jefferson Avenue), just west of 
the present site of the old Michigan Exchange. 

To Mr. Henry he was largely indebted for those business hab- 
its which formed the basis of his after success in life. He ever 
entertained an affectionate remembrance of his old employer, and 
after him named one of his children. At the close of his appren- 
ticeship he became chief clerk in the mercantile establishment of 
Thomas Emerson & Co., afterwards known as the firm of Mack 
& Conant, where his integrity secured him general confidence. 

unive:rsai,i,y esteemed. 

Perhaps no resident trader was more universally esteemed by 
the old French inhabitants and the Indians, over whom he always 
had great influenoe. At the age of 35, in the full vigor of man- 
hood, with a valuable mercantile experience and an unsullied char- 
acter he carried into execution his long-cherished projects of 
establishing l)usiness for himself. In 1820 he was married by Rev. 
John Monteith to the daughter of Colonel Stephen Mack, a pio- 
neer from the State of Vermont — the first Yankee merchant in 
the City of Detroit — a man of remarkable energy and public 
spirit, as the schemes he set on foot for the development of the 
resources of the territory will abundantly testify. But these 
schemes were frustrated by an untimely death. He lies buried in 
the cemetery at Pontiac, a city which he was mainly instrumental 
in founding. 

Thence onward to the date of his death, July 27, 1876, at the 
advanced age of 86, Mr. Cooper pursued the even tenor of his 
way, honored as a citizen, beloved as a husband, revered as a 

His first place of business was in a story-and-a-half frame 
building standing immediately in the rear of the site of Macauley's 
millinery store, corner of Jefferson and Woodward Avenues. The 
space in front on Woodward Avenue was occupied by \he town 
market and surrounded by a wooden paling. 



The only official positions he ever filled were those of alder- 
man, trustee of Harper Hospital, and elder in the First Presby- 
terian church of Detroit. All I claim for him whom I revere as 
earthly father is a life like that of David Elginbrood, ''intelligently 
met and honestly passed," which, McDonald truly says, ''is the 
best education of all" — except it be that higher one ta which it is 
intended to lead and to which it did lead. 

What wealth he acquired was the result of slow accumula- 
tion in legitimate trade, rigid economy, incessant toil and patient 
waiting, and not a ''dirty shilling" in it. He avoided debt as he 
avoided sin and would have no more thought of defrauding a man 
of a farthing than of taking his life. 

Hence his life was not one of feverish anxiety but one of 
quiet. His sleep was sweet and refreshing — the sleep of a man 
whose conscience w-as void of ofifense toward God and man, as it 
was his daily prayer it should be. 

His remains repose peacefully in Elmwood, in this city, where 

he passed seventy-six years of his active life, and which he saw 

grow to its present size and beauty, and in close proximity to the 

noble river upon which he gazed in boyhood — a locality and a 

stream as familiar to his eyes a hundred years ago as it is to ours 


His youth was innocent; his riper age 

Marked with some act of goodness every day ; 
And watched by eyes that loved him, calm and sage 

Faded his late declining years away. 
Meekly he gave his being up and went 

To share the holy rest that waits a life well spent. 

That life was happy; every day he gave 

Thanks for the fair existence that was his:- 

For a sick fancy made him not her slave. 

To mock him with her phantom miseries : 

No chronic tortures tacked his aged limb, 

For luxury and sloth had nourished none for him. 

And I am glad that he did live thus long, 

And I am glad that he has gone to his reward : 

Nor can I deem that Nature did him wrong 
Softly to disengage the vital chord ; 

For when his hand grew palsied and his eye 

Dark with the mists of age — it was his time to die." 

D. M. Cooper. 



THE JOSEPH CAMPAU residence (most all will remem- 
ber it) was built, it is said, on the foundations of the 

former residence of Mr. Campau, erected before the fire of 
1805. One curious feature about the house was that not a nail 
was used in its construction, hickory pegs being substituted 
instead, at least so all the Campau boys asserted. It was a one- 
story house with high finished attic, dormer windows, etc., and 
was always painted yellow with white trimmings. It has been so 
recently removed that I will not attempt to describe it further, as 
all will probably remember it. 

From Dan's store to his father's residence was a line of 
red cedar pickets set closely together, about six feet high with 
a double entrance gate in the center. Half of the first floor of 
tlie house was devoted to a store and office, the store in front 
and the office in the rear. In this store, when I first came here, 
Mr. Campau had a small stock of Indian goods, to supply, in a 
measure, the wants of his good friends, the Indians. This he 
kept up until about 1840, when most of the Indians in Michigan 
were removed beyond the Mississippi by the government. 

Mr. Campau was indeed the friend of the redmen of the 
entire northwest, and they returned the feeling. He could talk 
their language, knew their peculiarities, and every chief of note 
knew him intimately and came to him for counsel and adVice. 
He always met them with a smile of welcome. I have seen 
often and often, in the' summer season, scores of them^ — bucks, 
squaws and papooses — squatted on the pavement in front of his 
place, as on their visits to the city they always made it a point to 
call on their friend, the great ''Che-mo-ka-mun (i. e.. White- 
man). They never failed to give him an ovation every fall when 
on their way to and from Maiden, Canada, to receive their pres- 
ents from the British government. 





It is said he used to make a good thing of it, trading for or 
l)uying outright the articles the Indians got at Maiden that they 
did not need or want. If he did do so, it was what all the other 
merchants did. I have seen a list of the presents they received, 
some of them I have forgotten. Those that are now in my mind 
were shot-guns, rifles, lead, powder, shot, bullet molds, gun 
flints, hunting knives, axes, tomahawks, vermillion, blankets, 
broadcloth, calico, brass kettles, seine twine, fish-hooks, fish-lines, 
glass beads, thread, needles, silver ear-bobs and other silver orna- 
ments. The glass beads were always very much in evidence, as 
were also the silver ear-bobs and otl^er silver ornaments. 

An eye-witness has described the distribution of these pres- 
ents : 

''I noticed the effect each gift had on this expecting multi- 
tude, as it was brought out from the store house. New joy 
would sparkle in every eye. The little naked children would run 
about almost frantic ; the squaws would utter the exclamation 
'neau,' which is peculiar to the women ; the boys and girls clap 
their hands and toss themselves about, whilst the old men smoked 
away like steam engines. And as the dispensers of these gifts 
would go round every eye would follow them, and with an implor- 
ing look, when every now and then .a fear would manifest itself 
lest they who indulged it might be passed." 


The only chief of prominence that I remember visiting Mr. 
Campau was Macoonce. His lodge and headquarters were on 
the banks of Lake St. Clair. I have seen him here very often. 
He was a fine specimen of his class, always sober, a state that 
many, many of his race could not boast of. Awfully fond of 
whisky w^ere these Indians, squaws as well as bucks. I have 
often seen the former, when offered a drink of whisky take a 
good long swig and then fill their mouths to the utmost Hmit and 
deposit the contents in a little buckskin bag that they carried for 
the purpose, to enjoy at their leisure. 

This Macoonce spoke English fairly well and was costumed 
nearlv like a white man — black frock coat, tied around the waist 


with wampum, fringed calico hunting shirt, vest, broadcloth leg- 
gins, ornamented with porcupine quills, the outer seams pro- 

josKPU CAMPAU. 435 

fusely decorated with silver ornaments that jingled with each 
step he took; buckskin moccasins worked with porcupine quills, 
plug hat ornamented with a broad silver band, five or six silver 
ear-bobs in each ear, and a silver ring- through his nose. All 
this, added to his fine physique, made him quite conspicuous. 

My uncle used to visit St. Clair once every winter at that 
time and generally took me along with him. We always used to 
stop at this chief's lodge, on L'Anse Cruche Bay, Lake St. Clair, 
and enjoyed his hospitality. 

Macoonce was one of those chiefs of the Chippewa tribe 
that were compelled to join the enemy during the war of 1812, 
but, like Walk-in-the-Water. the Wyandotte chieftain, his heart 
was never with them. 


Among the savages the chief was not only the judge who 
pronounced sentence on the culprit, but was frequently execu- 
tioner of his sentence. The late Thomas Coquillard related to 
judge Witherell this circumstance in connection with the above: 

"In 181 3 he saw many Indians one day gathered about what 
is now the foot of St. Antoine Street. He went up to them and 
found that the death penalty was about to be inflicted on a young 
savage for killing a young squaw of Macoonce's band. 

♦ "The chief sent word to the culprit to come at the appointed 
time and place and be killed; the young Indian came alone; no 
fetters, no guard, no sheriff or constable to prevent the esca|>e 
of the' murderer. Alone he came to meet his fate. He cast one 
long, lingering look upon his people, put a handful of salt in his 
mouth, fell on his hands and knees, drew his blanket over his 
head, and submitted to his fate. The chief, with a single blow of 
his tomahawk, dismissed his spirit to the red man's heaven — the 
happy hunting grounds, in the islands of the blest." 

Macoonce, when visiting the city, always stopped at a tavern 
on Woodbridge Street that stood in the rear of the present Cooper 
building. He also used to put up, when visiting the college of 
Palmer (St. Clair), at Cross's tavern in that town, where I have 
seen him often. 

My uncle Thomas lived, at the time I write of (after being 
burned out), in a house next to Mr. Cainpau's, so we were pretty 
near neighbors. I have given an account of this fire in a former 
article on "Our Old Volunteer Fire Department." 


This dwelling of ours belonged to Uncle Shubal Conant and 
was set back from the street line twenty-five or thirty feet. It 
was afterwards moved and its place taken by a brick building 
three stories high, occupied as a dry goods store by Mr. C. M. D. 
Bull and as a boot and shoe store by Mr. N. O. Sargent for quite 
awhile, until their death. John Palmer afterward had a dry goods 
store in the same building. 

As said before, we were near neighbors of the Campaus, and 
of course quite intimate. Two of his boys, Dennis and James, 
about my age, and myself were great chums. We used to have 
great times playing, in the winter evenings, in the cellar kitchen, 
which was quite large and boasted of an immense fireplace. We 
had some help, of course. Mr. Campau had a very pretty daugh- 
ter, Adelaide, who was the apple of his eye. He set great store 
by her, and she was, indeed, a dainty piece of humanity. A 
Scotch gentleman of fine presence by the name of Johnson came 
along who quite captured her. He was a widower, represented 
himeslf as a scion of the Scotch nobility and exhibited much 
family silverware, linen, etc. 

Mr. Campau would have none of him and threatened his 
daughter with excommunication from his heart and wealth if she 
persisted in marrying him," which she did without anybody's con- 
sent but her own, and the old man did as he said he would — 
divorced her from his heart and wealth and never had say with 
her thereafter. I never knew what became of them. Her brother, 
Daniel J., however, treasured his sister's memory, for he named 
his daughter, now Mrs. Campau Thompson, after her. 

The old merchant was always kind, aflfable and neatness 
itself. He was always arrayed in black broadcloth, coat, vest 
and pants, coat cut swallow-tail, with plug hat and white cravat. 
He was for some reason or other a foe to the Catholic priesthood, 
so much so that he let no occasion pass to express his hostility, 
and for this reason, I suppose, he was denied burial in the conse- 
crated ground of Mt. Elliott Cemetery. But perhaps he will get 
there quite as soon as some of the rest of us. Notwithstanding 
his trouble with the priesthood, he w^as a Christian and, I think, 
a good Catholic at heart, as were all the family. Mrs. Campau 
particularly. But it appeared to be the priests he was after and 
not the faith. 

Joseph Campau was buried in Elmwood Cemetery, the moss- 
covered foundations of a monument are over his remains, but no 



monument was ever erected upon them. Upon a massive marble 
slab near by is the record of the man who was to be honored. It 
reads : 

"In memory of Joseph Campau, born in Detroit, February 
20th, 1769; died July 226., 1863, in the ninety-fifth year of his age. 
American by birth, French by descent and education, he was a 
merchant for over sixty years and distinguished as the wealthiest 
man in the State of Michigan." 

His grandfather was a French officer under M. de La Mothe 
Cadillac, the founder of Detroit in 1701. Theo. J., his son. aged 
50, is buried near him. 



MR. JOS. CAMPAU had something to do with slaves, as it 
appears from an old document, a bill of sale in the pos- 
session, of his heirs, that on one occasion Mr. Campau 

bought of Margueritte de Boucherville, in Montreal, a negro 
boy named Thomas, aged 9 years. The price paid for him was 
£25 sterling, and it was one of the conditions of the sale that the 
boy should be brought up in the Catholic faith and manumitted 
at the age of twenty-one years. Another bill of sale dated 
November 25, 1791, shows that a negro named Pompey was sold 
by George Lyons to George Leath & Co. for the sum of £40 
sterling. In June, 1792, the same chattel was sold to James May 
for £38 sterling. He had one or two other slaves besides this one. 

Still another document of interest, especially in these days 
of thoughtless hurried and unceremonious marriages, is a con- 
tract drawn up with imposing formula, the principals in which 
were Sieur P. J. Desnoyers and Demoiselle M. Louis Goberille. 
The date of this interesting relic of an obsolete custom is July 30, 
1798. All old settlers remember Peter J. Desnoyers. 

The pioneers of Detroit were, it seems, not adverse to social 
pleasures, which fact more definitely appears from the following : 

"January 17, 1807. 
"Mr. Campau will please furnish for the Grand Marais party 
on vSaturday next, provided there is good carioling, a qr. of roast 
beef and a pair of fowls ready for the spit. 

"Major Ernest, 
James Abbott." 

Of all the wealth that Mr. Campau did leave, and it was very 
large, none remains in the heirs except that possessed by Daniel J. 
Campau and his sister, Mrs. Thompson, though I think the 
widow of James, "Jock Campau," the late Mrs. James Scott, 
owned some of the property left by her first husband, at the tinv 
of her death. 

the: campau Family. 439 

mr. campau's children. 

The eldest son, Joseph, who was his father's right-hand man, 
died along in the early forties. He was a very quiet, level-headed 
young man, and the old gentleman felt his loss keenly. 

Daniel J., as before mentioned, was a successful merchant 
on his own account and did not pay much attention to his father's 
affairs. He married Miss Palms, the sister of Francis Palms, and 
they had three children, two boys (Daniel J. and Lewis P.) and 
one girl. This girl, as said before, he named after his discarded 
sister, Adelaide, showing that her memory was ever fresh in his 

Lewis, one of the sons, died only a few years ago, a bright, 
promising young man; the other, Daniel J., is still alive and with 
us. All know what an influential Democratic politician he is, and 
all-around turf man as well. I do not profess to know a thing 
about horses, races or race tracks — on those matters I am all at 
sea. P)Ut I am told, and judge by observation, that the Grosse 
Pointe race track, with all its appliances, is the finest in the coun- 
try, and all owing mainly to our fellow citizen, Daniel J. Campau. 

Adelaide, the daughter, became the wife of a former mayor 
of this city, Wm. G. Thompson, as all know. 


Theodore and Dennis attended more or less to their father's 
business, and managed with his aid and that of a French book- 
keeper (as his books were kept in that language) to keep things 
in order, until the old gentleman died in 1863. Then Theodore 
and Dennis took almost the entire charge of the estate, which was 
considered large, as it was said at the time of Mr. Campau's 
death that he was the richest man in Michigan. Daniel was 
incapacitated from attending much to business, on account of a 
paralytic stroke that deprived him of the use of his lower limbs. 
Theodore married Miss Mesels and built himself a palatial resi- 
dence next above that of C. C. Trowbridge, and died there. Jer- 
ome Croul l)ought it after the death of Theodore, tore it down and 
replaced it with a residence more pretentious than its predecessor. 

Dennis continued in the old homestead on Jefferson x\ venue 
until his death. Most all at the present time will remember the 
old Campau homestead that was torn down only a few years ago, 
and also Dennis on his white horse, taking his usual outing of a 


fine afternoon. James, "Jock," as he was familiarly called, mar- 
ried a daughter of Colonel Abram Edwards, of Kalamazoo, and 
busied himself in attending to what property his father left him. 
I think quite a bit of it came into the hands- of his widow, who 
subsequently became the wife of -our good and genial friend, 
"Jim" Scott. She died a short time since. I think one son, by 
Campau, survives her. 


Timothy, the youngest son, and the pride of his mother's 
heart, married the sister of Mr. J. B. Howarth, of this city. He 
died some years ago, leaving a widow and one daughter. The 
former survived him but a short time ; the latter is married and 
is living now with her husband in Grand Rapids. Whether Tim-, 
othy left any property or not, I do not know. 

Joseph Campau had four daughters. One, x-Vdelaide, married 
in the early thirties, Mr. Johnston, a Scotch gentleman of win- 
ning address, a widower. 

"tash" chapoton. 

Another daughter, Matilda, married "Tash" Chapoton, son 
of Eustache Chapoton, of this city. Tash used to clerk for Mr. 
Brown, who kept an extensive clothing store in the Smart build- 
ing, which is now the Merrill Block, in the early thirties. He 
continued with him some years, went to Chicago, and engaged in 
the same business on his own account, was quite prosperous, and 
during the civil war did an enormous business in his line. But 
the acquisition of more wealth through his wife, one of the heirs 
of the Joseph Campau estate, made him reckless in regard to 
money, and he, a genial, whole-souled chap and inclined to be a 
little horsey withal, soon came to grief. Himself and wife are 
both dead and I do not think they left any estate. I met *'Tash" 
Chapoton often in Chicago during the civil war and he was 
always anxious to give one a good time while there, and did do so. 

Another daughter, Emily, married a man by the name of 
Lewis; they both died many years ago. Whether they left any 
children or property I do not know. 

• Another daughter, Catharine, married Mr. Francis Palms.' 
She died many years ago, leaving a daughter, who became the 
wife of Dr. Book, of this city. I imagine Mrs.- Book must be 
quite wealthy. 


MR. brigham's e:xplosion. 

Next beyond us was a two-story and a half frame building, 
half of it occupied by Mason Palmer as a general store, and the 
other half of it as a hardware store by William Wells. (Wells 
was an enthusiastic fireman as well as Brady Guard.) He also 
dealt in a particular kind of lamp, in which burning fluid was 
used instead of oil, and he dealt in this fluid as well. The fluid 
was, by some process, distilled from spirits of turpentine. The 
process of distillation was a secret at that time and known only 
to Mr. Brigham. The manufacture of this fluid was carried on 
directly in the rear of John Palmer's dry goods store in the cellar 
of an unoccupied dwelling on the alley that runs from Griswold 
Street to the line of the then Campau lot. The approach to the 
cellar was by a flight of hewn log steps on the outside, laid in the 
earth down the incline, the house being built on the side hill 
towards the river. 

The business was prosperous and continued for some time 
and quite a demand was created for the fluid, when all of a sud- 
den something terrible happened. One morning the whole thing 
blew up, with Brigham in the cellar or laboratory, busy with his 
still, his furnace, his fluid and his turpentine. I happened to be 
in the Palmer store at the time and was sitting at the back window 
looking into the alley, when, Bang! came the noise of the explo- 
sion, a great puflF of black smoke shot out of the chimney and 
then all was silence for a moment or so. I ran out into the alley 
and just as I reached the house Brigham was being led up the 
steps outside, his clothes nearly all burned off of him, groaning 
piteously. He was taken to a house occupied by a widow in the 
same alley, where his burns were attended to. 

The doctor, after examining his injuries, found that he had 
Inhaled some of the burning gas and pronounced his case serious. 
Brigham lived but a short time afterwards and with him vanished 
his illuminating fluid business till a later time when its manufac- 
ture was surrounded with more proper and better safeguards. 

Brigham was a very handsome man, a neat dresser and all 
that sort of thing, a favorite in society. He had a profusion of 
curly hair and luxuriant whiskers, all of which vanished when 
the explosion took place. On looking at himself in the glass in 
the parlor of the house to which he had been taken, he saw what 
had come to him — hair, whiskers, eyebrows and eyelashes all 


gone, lips drawn and l:)listered by the heat. He looked once and 
exclaimed, with hands raised, "My God ! My God !" and no more. 
It is needless to say that the affair gave the whole city quite a 


Mr. Palmer retired from business after awhile; so did Mr, 
Wells, the latter moving to Monroe. Their places were filled by 
Mr. J. A. Herrick, who used the entire building as a book and 
stationery store. He had also a circulating library — something 
new then. Next to him Lewis Hall had a watch, clock and jew- 
elry store. After awhile all the buildings were swept away, 
including the Bull store, and their places supplied by the present 
Conant Block. 

Before going any further I will go back again to 1827 to say 
that Dr. Marshall Chapin in that year occupied the store where 
Mr. Herrick held out in 1842 or '43, as a drug and grocery store. 
John Owen was his clerk. (I think he was his partner.) Mr. 
Owen was a little inclined' to be wild at that time, and with his 
chum, the late Captain Arthur Edwards, used to have a Heap of 
fun bothering the then city marshal, Adna Merritt, a nervous, 
excitable little body, who used to get himself all tangled up trying 
to stop these two from starting and throwing fire balls, balls of 
cotton wicking soaked in turpentine and reenforced with twine. 
It was quite common then on Fourth of July nights, and on other 
nights as well, during the summer season, for the boys to ignite 
and throw these balls up and down Jefferson Avenue. Merritt 
tried to put a stop to it, but Ow^en and Captain Edwards were 
dead against his doing so and su])plied all the fire balls necessary 
from Dr. Chapin's store. Did you ever see fire balls thrown, or 
did you ever throw them yourself? 'Tis great fun and attended 
with some danger to the hands and some to property, although 
I never knew of any harm to come from them. After a short 
season both Owen and Edwards joined the Methodist church, 
having gotten religion. No more fire balls from that quarter after 



THE lot on which the old Bank of Michigan building stands 
(now occupied by the Michigan Mutual Insurance Co.) 
was nearly vacant in 1827. In 1828 Thomas Palmer erected 
a double brick building on the lot for a New York concern. A 
part of it was occupied by B. B. Kercheval as a general store for 
awhile ; I don't remember who occupied the other part of it. This 
building was afterwards torn down and the Bank of Michigan 
building took its place. 

On the opposite corner,, same side, was the brick store of 
F. & T. Palmer. The upper part was used as a dwelling by 
Thomas Palmer. They kept a general stock of goods, a much 
larger assortment than any house west of Buffalo. They dealt 
largely in furs and Indian goods and did not scorn to undertake 
almost any other venture on the side, as, for instance, the con- 
tract for building the territorial capitol, portions of the Saginaw 
(Pontiac) turnpike and the Gratiot, Grand River and Michigan 
Avenue (Chicago) turnpikes. Besides, they ran an ashery and 
pottery where West Park now is, on the line of the Cass farm. 
The ware turned out at the pottery was called ''Jackson ware" 
and was used extensively in those days. This latter business was 
carried on for some time after my father's death in 1827. 

My uncle, in the fall of every year, used to fill a wagon body 
with this ware weekly, and in charge of a trusty man it was ped- 
dled out to the farmers between the city and Milk River point 
on Lake St. Clair, taking in exchange apples, cider, vegetables, 
etc. I Used often to accompany the man on these trips and 
enjoyed them ever so much, as well as the hospitalities of the 
French farmers. It took sometimes three or four days to get 
around and back again, but it was a heap of fun, and I look back 
upon these trips as among the most pleasant episodes in my life. 
Everv farm had its cider mill. 


MR. conant's building. 

The lot on which the Bank of Michigan erected its building- 
was not entirely vacant in 1827, as Mr. Conant some time before 
that year put up a wooden building, two stories with basement, 
in the rear of this lot on Griswold Street, on the corner of the 

On this alley, which is still open, and in the rear of the Mich- 
igan Mutual Insurance building, lived some of the first families 
in the city at that time, among them Mr. Hawley, a merchant 
doing business on Jefferson Avenue, near Griswold Street, He 
married a sister of Shubal Conant. They had three children, two 
sons and one daughter. What became of the sons I do not know. 
The family moved to Kalamazoo, and the daughter, Jane, mar- 
ried a man by the name of Marsh, and their daughter married 
William Stephens, a son of John Stephens, grocery merchant, of 
this city. 

The wooden building remained there for many years. The 
basement was occupied by Thomas Palmer as an office after the 
fire which wrecked the F. & T. Palmer store on the corner of 
Jefferson Avenue and Griswold Street. J. O. Lewis also occu- 
pied a room in the rear of this basement. He was an engraver 
and was at work particularly at that time, engraving on steel the 
likeness of General Cass and Father Richard, from which to take 
impressions. Some of the impressions are still extant and are 
wonderful likenesses of the originals. I used to be very much 
interested in his work while the two engravings were under way. 
The rest of the building up stairs was used by Mr. Conant for 
offices and sleeping apartments for bachelor tenants. 


In addition to their business here, F. & T. Palmer carried on 
a store in Canandaigua, N. Y., another at Ashtabula, Ohio, and 
another on the St. Clair River, now St. Clair City. Besides this 
they owned the tv^o sections of land upon which the City of St. 
Clair is platted and had a water sawmill some miles up the Pine 
River, where the pine timber was then abundant and of the 
choicest quality. Later on, after my father's death, Thomas 
Palmer built an extensive steam saw and lath mill on tlie St. 
Clair River, at Palmer, now St. Clair, and abandoned the water 
mill up the Pine River. 

F. & T. PAIvMER S STORES. 445 

The mill he ran for many years, until the supply of pine in 
St. Clair County gave out ; then he gave up the mill. Before my 
father died in 1826 the firm found that thev had so manv irons 
in the fire that they had to suspend payment. Things were in a 
state of chaos for awhile, but the surviving partner, Thomas, 
cleaned everything up and paid the debts of the concern out of its 
assets, one hundred cents on the dollar. Thomas Palmer was a 
father, so to speak, to nearly all of St. Clair County at that time, 
and particularly of the village of Palmer. I passed two or three 
years of my boyhood there, off and on,, and have often heard them 
say to him : 

''Uncle Tom, when you go back to Detroit, I wish you would 
send me a barrel of flour or a barrel of pork or a bushel of beans" 
or something. These things were always sent. I don't know that 
he ever got his pay for them, but I don't think lie did in many 

He tried yet further to help the village by organizing a com- 
pany to build a railroad from there to Romeo. A great deal of 
money was expended in clearing the way and on the superstruc- 
ture, but after getting that far the money gave out and, no one 
coming to the rescue, the project had to be abandoned, Mr. Pal- 
mer being out about $20,000. The superstructure can yec be 
traced along the Grand Trunk Railway that runs into St. Clair. 

In payment of all the money spent in the locality and the 
worry and fuss endured, the villages of Palmer, or St. Clair, 
when they found out "Uncle Tom" could not and would not do 
any more for them, changed the name of the village "Palmer" to 
that of St. Clair, through petty spite or something. He had 
di oated the public square and had built a court house and jail, 
whiic it was the coi vty seat, that cost over $6,000. The question 
of mo\ .ti- the county seat to Port Huron was mooted during his 
lifetime, unt he told them he would go for the public square and 
for the lot on wiicii tlie court house was built if such a thing hap- 
pened while he was on earth. The matter rested until after his 
death and* then the transfer was made directly. 

My uncle Thomas Palmer's varied interests in St. Clair 
County, and particularly in his village of Palmer, took him often 
to that locality. On one of these excursions I accompanied him. I 
was but a lad and delighted with the prospect of a long sleighride. 
We had it. The sleighing was fine, the ice in the Detroit River, 


Lake St. Clair and River St. Clair was good. We started out in 
our one-horse French carriage, and took the river road to Crosse 
Pointe and Lake St. Clair. On reaching "Milk River" point on 
Lake St. Clair, which river empties into L'Anse Cruz Bay, Lake 
St. Clair, we struck right across the bay to about where New Bal- 
timore now is. The bay puts miles into the land, as all know, and 
it was quite a venture to take the course we did, besides ther : was 
a slight flurry of snow, but not sufficient to blot out the shore of 
the bay. 


My uncle was a little apprehensive, as he, in company with 
Mr. Jerome (Geo. Jerome's father), the winter before, had a 
rough time crossing this same bay. They were caught in a snow- 
storm and came near perishing, but General Brady with double 
sleigh and span of horses had preceded us about an hour before, 
on his way to Fort Gratiot. The tracks of his team and sleigh* 
were plainly visible and we followed them closely and reached 
the opposite shore all right. We put up for the night at what is 
now New Baltimore, with a Frenchman by the name of "Yax," 
who kept a tavern there in a long, low log house. It was very 
comfortable, this log tavern, with its only one room divided off 
into sleeping rooms by curtain calico strung on wires, and a gen- 
eral room at the end of which w^as an immense fireplace, and a 
bar, where was dispensed the prevailing beverage, whisky. Yax 
and his companions played cards and caroused all night. They 
woke us up occasionally with their wrangling merriment. 

We left in the morning bright and early for the village of 
Palmer. We halted a short time at Algonac, which was scarcely 
any town at all, to see Mr. Smith, a pioneer of that village. Pie 
almost overwhelmed us with his hospitality. I saw him often in 
after years. He was a nice gentleman, one of the old school, 
sported a ruffled shirt and all that. I think some of his descend- 
ants are prominent in Algonac yet. We also met on the way 
(after Algonac) and made a brief stop with each. Captain Sam 
Ward, Colonel Cottrell, Colonel Westbrook and Captain Wm. 
Brown. In front of Westbrook's residence the schooner Napo- 
leon was on the stocks, nearly completed. Colonel W^estbrook w^as 
building her for Oliver Newberry'. 

Westbrook was a noted character on the river in those days. 
It was said he had served under General Scott in the war of 18 12, 

F. & T. PAI.ME:R S STORIES. 447 

and that he had been captain of a privateer in the early part of 
that war. He was rugged appearing and of giant stature, remind- 
ing one of Captain Blake. I saw him often in after years and 
every time I saw him the conviction grew on me that he really 
might have been what they said, though it was no disgrace. We 
reached my Uncle George Palmer's log residence, one mile from 
Palmer, about dusk the second day out of Detroit. 

This log house of my uncle's was situated on the l)ank of 
the river, just below where the Oakland now is, and was as prim- 
itive as it well could be. The logs were not hewn or squared, but 
in their native state ; wooden latch to the door, with the "latch- 
string'' always out. It boasted one luxury not found in all the 
log cabins of those days, and that was a brick chimney. It had 
an ample fireplace, of course, that would hold all the wood that 
could be piled on. Down stairs the "cabin" had three rooms, one 
general room and two sleeping rooms. Upstairs could boast only 
of one room and that directly under the rafters. This room was 
reached by a short ladder. 

I became well acquainted with this room and the rest of the 
log cabin in after years. When about 12 years old my Uncle 
Thomas thought it would be a good thing for my general health 
to rotigh it on a farm. So I was sent to live for a short season 
with my uncle on the banks of the St. Clair. I did not make much 
of a fist at farming, but did the best I ^could and liked it fairly. 
Aly aunt, a New England girl, was kindness itself, and treated 
me in a most motherly fashion. My uncle was all right, too. 
After five or six months I contracted the fever and ague. This 
disease shook n\e up so, and hung on so persistently, that I was 
obliged to come home. I did not get rid of the pest for nearly a 
year. But I think my experience at farming in St. Clair and my 
tussle with the fever and ague were a lasting .benefit, as I have 
never been sick over a dav or two since. 


We remained in Palmer (St. Clair) three or four days and 
then started for home. After reaching Yax's tavern, where we 
put up for the night, we skirted L'xA^nse Cruche Bay on the ice, 
instead of crossing it. On the shore of the bay, n short distance 
al)ove the mouth of the Clinton River, which empties into it, the 
Jndian chief, Macoonce, had his lodge. My uncle, who knew 

448 e;arly days in Detroit. 

him quite well, called on him. He welcomed us cordially and 
seemed much pleased with the visit we made him. We also stop- 
ped for a warming on our way down at the tavern of Mr. Moross 
at the mouth of the Clinton River. The tavern was a large two- 
story frame building, with dormer windows and painted yellow, 
with white trimmings. It stood on the site of the once thriving 
village of Belvidere/and became a part of it. The tavern and 
Belvidere have both passed away, and I think scarcely a vestige 
remains. Belvidere was quite a village at one time, evolved 
through the brain and energy of Colonel James L. Conger, of 
Mt. Clemens. I visited there once for three or four days when 
it was in its prime. It boasted of quite a large warehouse and 
dock, a few stores and a number of substantial dwellings. My 
visit was to a friend who kept the lighthouse at the mouth of the 
Clinton at that time. He and his family lived in the village in a 
pretentious two-story house, and the surroundings seemed to bid 
fair for a healthy growth to the town, but something struck it, 
don't know what, and, as said before, it has vanished. Well, we 
reached Detroit all right, much pleased w^ith the trip. 

F. & P. PALMER. 


MY uncle, Mr. Palmer, also built for the Detroit & St. Joe 
Railroad, now the Michigan Central Railroad, a car 
track from the depot, where the city hall now is, down 

Woodward Avenue to Atwater Street, and along the latter 
street to the DeGarmo Jones warehouse. I don't just remem- 
ber the year this was built, but it was before the Patriot war. 
This track, laid above the level of the street, made Woodward 
Avenue from the city hall to Jefferson Avenue awful in muddy 
weather. I have often seen loads of wood, etc., completely stalled 
in front of what is now the Merrill Block. Why the track was 
abandoned I do not know, but I always supposed it was because 
of this muddy business and the difficulty the locomotive had in 
getting up Woodward Avenue to Jefferson Avenue. I have seen 
the engine puff and snort, some time for half a day, before it 
could get up to the level of the latter street. 

The firm got from the United States, in payment for building 
the court house, about eight thousand acres of land in the ten 
thousand acre tract, so-called, and three hundred city lots. The 
government reserved all the quarter sections on each side of 
Woodward Avenue and called them Park lots. F. & T. Palmer 
got the remainder. The ten thousand acre tract came down to 
the railroad crossing on Woodward Avenue, so it would seem ; 
if they could have held the land until the present day what a good 
thing it would have been for their heirs. 


Most of the quarter sections near the city were cut up into 
five-acre lots and sold for from $7 to $8 per acre. The land in 
the back part of the tract, then almost a howling wilderness, they 
were glad to sell for from $3 to $4 per acre. The city lots, many 
on Woodward Avenue, sold for $300 and $400 each, being sixty 


feet front. The one that Metcalf brothers used to occupy was 
sold for $300. Many lots on Miami Avenue, near Grand Circus, 
sold for $75 each, also those adjoining West Park and so on. I 
merely mention this to show the difference in the prices asked for 
real estate then and now. 

Next to the Palmer's store on Jefferson Avenue, was the 
residence of Judge John McDonnell, who occupied the upper part, 
and the lower was used by Mr. H. Griswold as a hat, cap and fur 
store, and by Brooks & Hartshorn, auctioneers ; the cellar, by 
Thomas Owen, the brewer, for the storage of beer. Dr. Thos. B. 
Clark occupied the next building as an office ; he also had a small 
stock of drugs and medicines. Next, Major Dequindre had his 
store and residence. He dealt largely in Indian goods and furs, 
and owned the Dequindre farm. Mr. Dequindre was a fine 
French gentleman, one of the old school. 

^Next to Mayor Dequindre's was the store of Gray & Noble. 
They kept a general stock of goods. Mr. Noble was quite a small 
man, while Mr. Elliott Gray, his partner, was of commanding 
presence, about six feet two inches tall, but slender. He always 
wore the conventional outer garments of black, a ruffled shirt, tall 
hat, etc. I think he always carried a cane. I remember these 
gentlemen well. The firm finally dissolved and Mr. Gray went 
into partnership with Mr. Gallagher in the forwarding business 
at the foot of Bates Street. I think the late Samuel Lewis and 
his brother Alex clerked for them at that time. Afterwards the 
firm was Gray & Lewis^ and after that it was Lewis & Graves. 


The Palmer building on the corner of Jefferson Avenue and 
Griswold Street, after the fire that swept it away, gave place to 
a fine large four-story brick building erected by Lewis Goddard, 
that extended from Jefferson Avenue to the alley in its rear. In 
this building were located, on the corner of Jefferson Avenue, 
Charles Bissell, dry goods merchant ; next to him, on the same 
street, were Enoch & Grif. H. Jones, also in dry goods. On the 
Griswold Street side. Colonel Edward Brooks had his office, as 
collector of the port, Jacob Farrand was his deputy. The second 
story was occupied as lawyers' offices, etc., the third and fourth 
stories were occupied by Colonel D. C. McKinstry for a museum 
and for theatrical purposes, lectures, political meetings, etc. 

F. & T. PALMER. 451 

One political meeting there is in my mind quite vividly. The 
young men of the city had organized a party, irrespective of pol- 
itics and had up a ticket for the city offices that they had pledged 
themselves to support. At the head of the ticket was the name of 
Curtis C'Curt") Emerson for mayor. At this meeting "Curt" 
was in the chair and when called upon for a speech, he gave one 
in his characteristic manner, ending up with : "Gentlemen, 
although the consumption is preying on my vitals, yet will I go 
with you to the brink of the grave, g — d d^ — n you." 

Their ticket did not carry. 

the: museum. 

The museum, under the charge of the late William Adair, 
contained many rare and curious objects, among which were three 
Egyptian mummies, a fine collection of wax figures, also a variety 
of beautiful and rare specimens of birds, beasts, minerals, shells, 
etc. ; with many interesting curiosities in nature and art. There 
were many splendid cosmoramic views, and in the evening phan- 
tasmagora and phantascopal illusions were exhibited. The 
museum was quite popular and a source of considerable revenue 
to the colonel. 

Dramatic exhibitions of a light vaudeville character were 
given in the fourth story, and laughing gas was also administered 
to those who desired it. This giving of laughing gas was some- 
what dangerous to the operator and to spectators as well. A 
partition extending from the floor to ceiling hemmed in the par- 
taker of the gas from outsiders. Many funny incidents occurred 
connected with this pastime. While under its influence the par- 
taker usually acted out his peculiarities or proclivities, laughing 
boisterously, dancing, boxing with an imaginary foe, declaiming, 
etc. It was quite a feature and always attracted a large crowd. 


Colonel D. C. McKinstry, owner of the museum, was indeed 
a man of many parts, enterprising, public spirited and somewhat 
of a Bohemian. He was tall and heavily built, rather abrupt in 
manner and speech, yet of a warm, genial disposition which made 
him quite popular. He was fond of parade and show, was either 
a major or colonel in the militia — anyway, everyone used to call 
him colonel. He was engaged in many ventures, besides the 


theaters, and the Michigan Garden and Museum. Notably, he 
was associated with F. & T. Palmer in the contract with the gen- 
eral government for building the state capitol. After the work 
had made fair progress the other contractors bought him out and 
went on and finished the structure. Througti them all he 
acquired considerable means. His success in most every venture 
led someone to call him ''Silver Heels," a name that stuck to him 
through life. A fair representation of the colonel is given in the 
picture painted by Thomas Burnham entitled "Election Day at 
the Old City Hall," when Stevens T. Mason ran for governor 
against C. C. Trowbridge. This painting is, I think, in the pos- 
session of Mrs. General A. T. Williams, this city. Colonel Mc- 
Kinstry died in Ypsilanti in 1856, aged 78 years. 

MC kinstry's sons. 

Of the sons of Colonel D. C. McKinstry, Charles was a 
lawyer in New York City, and died there many years ago, of 
consumption. Augustus (Gus) sailed the lakes. I have men- 
tioned him before in an article on the '%ake and River Marine," 
that appeared in the Sunday Free Press quite a while ago. In 
it allusion was made to himself and Captain Robert (Bob) 
Wagstaff volunteering to take charge of Oliver Newberry's 
schooner Napoleon, loaded with provisions for the troops at Fort 
Mackinac, and the inhabitants of the island as well. Although 
in midwinter, their heoric and dangerous mission was success- 
fully accomplished. James P. entered the navy, served through 
the Mexican war, as also the civil war, with distinction, rising to 
the rank of commodore. He at the outbreak of the rebellion 
brought the United States squadron stationed in the China Seas 
safely to this country. He at one time during the civil war had 
command of a gunboat on the Mississippi River, and, I think, was 
severely wounded in an encounter with the rebel batteries on 
shore. He was the second in command on the U. S. steamer 
Michigan when she first came out. 

Elisha, after passing sufficient time at the law school in New 
York City, hied himself to California some time in the early '50s, 
became a judge, and is still alive and fairly active. 

Another son, Justus, entered West Point and graduated, but 
into what branch of the service I do not know. After a while he 
entered the quartermaster's department, U. S. A., as captain and 

F. & T. PAI.MER. 453 

departmental quartermaster. I think he was in the Mexican war. 
Anyway, he served in the civil war, was Fremont's chief quarter- 
master at St. Louis, when organizing his army to invade the 
south. The transactions of his department were on a gigantic 

The McDonnell building that had been destroyed by fire 
was replaced by a wooden one and was used by Edward Bing- 
ham as a drug store (Jacob S. Farrand was at one time his clerk). 
He furnished Bingham's ''Red Cordial" for summer complaints, 
and it is yet on sale at the various drug stores in the city. It was 
a great remedy then, and I think it is now. 

A. H. Newbold and John W. Strong put up a three-story 
brick building on the site of Dr. Clark's former hardware store, 
Webb, Chester & Co., dealers in crockery and glassware, occupied 
a store somewhere along here before they moved to the Michigan 
Exchange building. It was the first of its kind in Detroit, crock- 
ery and glassware excli;sively. John Chester some time after- 
wards went into the forwarding business on the dock. Major 
Dequindre retired from business and A. C. McGraw occupied part 
of the major's former premises with a boot, shoe and leather 
store, as did G. & J. G. Hill with drugs and groceries the other 


Mr. McGraw came here, I do not exactly know when, but 
he had been here two or three years or more when the fire of 1842 
wiped out the his boot and shoe store. I remember his store quite 
well, from one circumstance, if from no other; and that was on 
the night of the fire mentioned, I was a member of fire engine 
company No. 4. Our machine vvras stationed at the reservoir, 
corner of Jefferson Avenue and Woodward Avenue (Merrill 
Block) and we had a line of hose run through McGraw's store 
to the alley in the rear. The fire progressed so rapidly that every- 
thing was in flames before the danger to the hose was fairly real- 
ized. Then the foreman sent four members of the company (of 
which I was one) to help the pipe man and his two assistants to 
drag the hose out of danger, which we did, and a warm and per- 
ilous job it was. 

Samuel G. Caskey, late of the firm of A. C. McGraw & Co., 
was then a sturdy youth, just off the farm from somewhere down 
east, and serving his apprenticeship at the boot and shoe business. 


He slept in the store on the counter, as all boys did in stores then^ 
and on this occasion was suddenly awakened by the uproar, and 
rushed half dressed as he was, and barefoot at that, to Mr. 
McGraw's house on Congress Street and gave the alarm. 


Caskey was a sturdy, awkward youth, not unlike some others 
that have commenced way down at the foot of the ladder and 
slowly and patiently won their way to the topmost round — as for 
instance John J. Bagley, Dexter M. Ferry, Philo Parsons, Moses 
W. Field, William N. Carpenter, Alex Lewis and many others 
that could be named. 

I, myself, commenced way down the ladder, slept on the 
counter, swept out the store, took care of the horse, sawed and 
brought in the wood and all that, but somehow did not reach the 
top financially. The trouble was, I suspect, I was not saving; 
they were. Well, it's all right, anyway, and I have managed to 
get a heap of fun out of life. 

I never knew Mr. McGraw personally very well, but knew 
of him and about him in the early days, through the late Edward 
C. Walker, who was a brother-in-law of his, he having married 
Walker's sister. "Ed" Walker, as we boys always used to call 
him, on his advent here entered the school of D. B. Crane, and 
in the higher and advanced classes; he was also a member of our 
young debating society, that wrestled weekly in the upper rooms 
of the school building with the stirring questions of the day. As 
Walker was so much further advanced than the rest of us, and 
apt to worst anyone pitted against him in debate, we concluded 
to hold him in reserve for lectures before the society, on subjects 
of interest to all. These lectures were very interesting and 
instructive, and were open and free to all. They were remark- 
ably well attended and highly appreciated. 

Another thing that somewhat interested me in Mr. McGraw,. 
he married for his third wife a Miss Metcalf, who was a great 
friend of Sidney L. Rood and family, and they of her's. I being 
clerk in Rood's establishment at the time, my thought and atten- 
tion were called more or less to the subject of this brief sketch. 
Something rather remarkable in Mr. McGraw's life was that he 
lived to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of his wedding with his 
third wife. 




THE Gray & Noble building, they having retired from the 
business, gave way to a fine large four-story brick build- 
ing, with an attic. The store stood on a corner of Jefferson 
Avenue, and was occupied by Horace, Hallock & Raymond, as 
a clothing store, the next one by Mr. Warren as a candy and con- 
fectionery store. The entrance to the upper floors was on Jeffer- 
son Avenue, between these two stores. What use these upper 
floors were put to I do not remember, but I think that the top 
story and attic were used by the Detroit Daily Advertiser as a 
publication and printing office. 

In the basement Mr. Howard kept a first-class saloon and 
restaurant. Previous to Mr. Howard, a jolly, rotund Parisian 
Frenchman, kept this restaurant. It was much frequented nights 
by the youth of the city to a large degree, and particularly the boys 
of No. 4 engine company. When the time -between ordering 
refreshments, liquid or solid, seemed longer than usual and things 
got dull, he would say : 

''Come boys, why for you no do som tings for make ze pot 
boil ; you be one lot good for nottings." 

I never knew what became of him. Howard was there in the 
same location when the fire of 1842 wiped the premises out. 

Next to this building on Woodward Avenue was N. B. Car- 
penter's meat shop (Sheriff Thompson was interested with him 
for a while) ; the New York and Ohio House, formerly Arthur 
Bronson's Tavern, and the dwelling of Mrs. Colonel Anderson 
and Miss Taylor, her sister, on the corner of Woodbridge vStreet. 

A horribIve: d^ed. 

An incident in relation to the atrocities committed by the 
Indians at an early day and with which this locality is in a meas- 
ure associated, may not be out of place, and is from the pen of the 
late Judge B. F. H. WitherelL 


"Among the many instances of the atrocities and horrid cru- 
elty of the savages on our frontier was the murder of Mrs. Snow 
and child. Doctor Coleman, of Ashtabula, Ohio, saved her daugh- 
ter. (Coleman was surgeon in the army under General Harri- 
son). After the mother was killed Snow, at the commencement 
of the war, was living with his family at Pipe Creek, near San- 
dusky. He made maple sugar in that neighborhood, and to pre- 
vent his sap from being stolen, he had set some, pitfalls, in which 
a few squaws had accidentally been caught. The savages, on the 
breaking out of the war, determined to kill him (Snow), and went 
to his shanty for the purpose, but he was absent ; so they took al! 
his family, with some neighboring women and children, prisoners, 
and started for the great scalp depots, Detroit and Maiden. 

"Mrs. Snow was enciente, and in feeble health. After pro- 
ceeding a short distance they found that they could not well carry 
Mrs, Snow's youngest child, which was some two or three years 
old. A blow of the hatchet saved them any further trouble. The 
death (and such a bloody death) of her lovely child before her 
eyes, filled the mother's heart with unutterable agony. She strug- • 
gled on with her demon captors a few yards, her strength gave 
way, and she fell to rise no more. The devils incarnate toma- 
hawked and scalped her, and stripped her naked, jumped with 
their feet upon her naked body, jammed it in the mud, and left 


The children and other prisoners were brought to Detroit. 
One of Mrs. Snow's daughters. Electa, a girl of seventeen years, 
shortly afterwards (not knowing of the death of her mother, as 
they were separated at the time she was murdered) was standing 
at a window in Doctor Scott's house (afterwards Colonel Ander- 
son's) on Woodward Avenue — where the Mariner's church now 
stands — and saw a party of Indians passing with her mother's 
scalp on a pole. She knew it by the long beautiful auburn locks, 
and cried out : 

"Oh, my mother is killed, there is her scalp and there is her 
shawl on an Indian." 

It was so. 

This transaction was so horrible, that General Harrison not 
only re|X)rted it to the government, but issued a proclamation call- 

OI.D storeke;epe:rs. 457 

ing the attention of the world to the manner in which the war was 
carried on by the enemy. 

In the rear of Mrs. Anderson's house was a barber shop, kept 
by an antiquated Frenchman, whom the boys had nick-named 
"Dusty." They used to steal his barber pole every chance they got 
and he got his name, I presume, from the manner in which he 
used to "dust" after them when he knew of the affair. 

The museum corner, after the fire of 1842, was occupied by 
the Michigan Insurance Bank, H. H. Brown, cashier. This bank 
was the depository of the Michigan Central Railroad Company 
during the railroad conspiracy troubles. Having been warned 
that their funds might be in danger (as one of the gang had 
reported that, at one of their secret meetings, it was resolved that 
the bank should be raided in the near future) the bank provided 
a night watch consisting of Walter IngersoU, assistant cashier; 
William L. Whippe, teller, and myself, an outsider, to fight off the 
robbers if they should make themselves manifest. We were pro- 
vided with shotguns and revolvers as well as with dark lanterns. 
We had a cot bed made up against the vault door upon which we 
took turns napping it. This fun continued for two or three weeks, 
but no robbers put in an appearance, so we were mustered out. I 
really do not know what we would have done if they had made an 
attempt. There was no organized police force on duty night and 
day then. 

O. M. Hyde occupied the rear of tRis building then as collec- 
tor of customs, William Goodnow being his deputy. The stores 
along Jefferson Avenue erected after the fire of 1842 were occu- 
pied from time to time by John Palmer, dry goods ; Henry Glover, 
merchant tailor; Graham & Lacey, dry goods; G. & J. G. Hill, 
drugs and groceries ; H. P. Baldwin, boots and shoes ; Moor^ & 
Bradford, dry goods ; Hallock & Raymond, clothing, and the 
Farmers & Merchants Bank, on the corner of Woodward and 
Jefferson Avenues. 

THE mariner's church. 

Down Woodward Avenue, after the 1842 fire were Hiram 
Walker, groceries and liquors ; Kirby, leather ; Gleason F. Lewis, 
and David Preston, brokers and dealers in land warrants, etc., and 
the Mariner's or Bethel church, on the corner of Woodward Ave- 
nue and Woodbridge Street, which still holds its place there. 
This church was given the lot on which it was built, extending 


through to Griswold Street, and the money with which to build 
it, by Miss Taylor, the survivor of Mrs. Colonel Anderson. By 
the terms of the will, as I always understood it, the church was 
to be called the "Bethel," the seating was to be entirely free and 
devoted particularly to the use of the mariners and sailors on the 
lakes. I do not know that she endowed it, but the rents received 
frorn the stores underneath have always been sufficient, I imagine, 
to maintain a minister and a sexton. The Episcopalian church 
has always had this church under its special charge and control. 
The question of proprietorship, as to the rights of the Episco- 
palians in the premises, has sometimes, in the past, been mooted. 
I am not sure that the question has ever been fairly settled, but 
think it has been. I have always understood that there was no 
provision in the will of the testator that gave to any one denom- 
ination the exclusive right to run this church, but that the pulpit 
and seating were free to Protestant and Catholic alike. 

Mr. Mason Palmer, who was one of the executors of Miss 
Taylor's will, was an "Episcopalian, of the Episcopalians," and, 
good man that he was, considered it a desecration of the 
pulpit of the Episcopalian churches to have any but the 
regularly ordained ministers oi that denomination occupy 
them, and thus it was, I have always understood, that Mr. 
Palmer handed the control over to the Episcopalians, and 
as no one has taken the trouble to make a fuss about it 
this control still continues. In my mind it makes but little differ- 
ance anyway what denomination controls the church, be it 
Protestant or Catholic, as long as the gospel is preached from its 
pulpit and the seats are free to all. Mr. Richard R. Elliott gives 
an exhaustive account of this business in one of the daily papers. 



THE postoffice first occupied the store under the church on 
the corner of Woodward Avenue and Woodbridge Street, 
moving from its quarters in the basement of the Bank of 
Michigan building, that it had occupied for many years after 
leaving its quarters in the Sheldon Block. The postoffice con- 
tinued there until Uncle Sam provided for it a home of its own, in 
conjunction with the United States custom office and the United 
States courts, on the corner of Griswold and Larned Streets, a 
home that was then considered ample, for its uses for a score or 
more of years to come. But meantime the city had grown beyond, 
far beyond, its swaddling clothes and these then ample quarters 
were found too small to meet the demands of the public, so Uncle 
Sam, after five or six years of weary waiting, on the part of the 
city, provided another, a much larger and more magnificent home, 
into which the postoffice, the customs, judges and jury have lately 

The business of the courts and of the postoffice and customs 
has increased so within the five or six years that it took the gov- 
ernment to build the new home, that the present quarters are now 
found to be too small to meet the wants of the public. There is 
ample room, however, for expansion on the square it occupies on 
the corner of Fort and Shelby Streets. 

The first postoffice in Detroit under the federal government 
was establishment in the year 1796, with the late Judge James 
Abbott as postmaster. During his administration the office was 
kept in the river end of his residence on the southeast corner of 
Woodward Avenue and Woodbridge Street. Adjoining was a 
small red warehouse containing his stock of merchandise in bulk, 
and furs. 

In the latter he was the largest dealer in the northwest, being 
agent of the Astors and the Northwest Fur Company. Mr. 
Abbott retained his position until 1830, when he was superseded 



by Mr. John Norvell, who retained the position till 1836, when he 
was elected United State senator. During Mi». Norvell's admin- 
istration, the office occupied a small brick building then standing 
on Jefferson Avenue, midway between Wayne and Cass Streets, 
and adjoining his dwelling, on the southeast corner of Wayne 
Street, that had formerly been the residence of Henry I. Hunt, 
mayor of Detroit, in 1826. The little brick building used for the 
postoffice had been Mr. Hunt's private office. The latter was 
found to be too small to accommodate the increased business of 
the postoffice, so Mr. Norvell had the south end of his dwelling 
fitted up and converted into an office sufficient for his needs'. The 
little brick building stood for many years, after the postoffice left 
it, and, as many will remember, was occupied by Mr. Berger as a 
gun shop until it was torn down to make way for the present brick 


Mr. Sheldon McKnight succeeded Mr. Norvell in the office 
and moved its location in 1837 to the corner of Griswold Street, 
where C. & A. Ives formerly had their banking house for so many- 
years. In 1839, under same postmaster, the office was removed to 
the Sheldon Block, fourth down Jefferson Avenue, same side. In 
1 84 1 Major Thos. Rowland, securing the appointment of post- 
master, the office was again removed to the corner of Griswold 
Street in the basement of the then new stone structure erected by 
the Bank of Michigan for its own use. The building is now 
owned and occupied by the Michigan Life Insurance Company. 
During the administration of John G. Bagg, who succeeded Major 
Rowland, the office remained in the same location. 

In 1850, under the administration of Colonel Alpheus T. 
Williams, the office was removed to the basement of the Mariner's 
church, then just erected on lower Woodward Avenue. It 
remained in this locality until the completion of the then new 
building at the corner of Larned and Griswold Streets. In the 
Mariner's church building, after Colonel Williams, came Thorn- 
ton F. Broadhead, who succeeded him in 1853, and retained the 
office until July i, 1857, when Cornelius O'Flynn was appointed. 
Mr. O'Flynn was superseded on the loth of May, 1859, by Henry 
N. Walker, Esq., and it was under the latter 's administration that 
the new building was finished, and he removed into it in January, 
i860, and at noon on the 30th of that month it was thrown open to 
the public. 

KARivY postmaste;rs. 461 


I copy from The Free Press of January 31, i860, a short 
account of the opening : 

"At noon yesterday the spacious new building erected for the 
accommodation of the postoffice and other federal offices in this 
city, situated on Gr is wold Street, between Congress and Larned, 
was thrown open to the public. The portion intended to be occu- 
pied by the postoffice is so far completed as to permit of its imme- 
diate occupancy, and the business of that office will hereafter be 
conducted there. The occasion of the opening attracted a large 
concourse of people, hundreds of whom rushed into the corridor 
as soon as the doors were thrown open, each anxiously striving to 
be the first to get a letter from the new office. 'The location of the 
boxes being somewhat different from those of the old office, of 
course, much confusion ensued, the pushing and rushing and hur- 
rying and crowding reminding one of the scenes in California in 
olden times on the arrival of a mail from the Atlantic states. 
Everybody went to the office, whether they expected any mail or 
not, and made as much fuss in finding their boxes as though their 
dispatches were of the utmost importance. Throughout the day 
the excitement and curiosity were kept up to a considerable extent, 
the office being filled with persons desiring to secure eligible boxes 
or curiously insi>ecting the place." 

The amount of labor performed in the Detroit postoffice at 
that date, the same paper says, can be estimated from a few gen- 
eral figures. There are fifteen mails received and the same num- 
ber sent away daily. These mails convey an average of over 
15,000 letters, exclusive of the large amount of newspapers, books, 
packages of valuables and other articles transmitted through this 
channel. This amount of mail matter requires the use of from 
sixty to seventy-five large mail bags, which are received and sent 
away daily. The sale of jx)stage stamps averages $100 per day. 
The department of registered letters, which is a comparatively 
new branch of the service, now occupies the entire time of' one 
clerk, and having increased 125 per cent within the past year, 
promises soon to require additional force. 


Referring again to the Bank 0/ Michigan building, atten- 
tion is called to the quality or rather make-up or formation of th*e 
stone used in its construction. It seems to be a hard sandstone, 


capable of sustaining a high finish, but it is to the countless num- 
ber of fossils it contains that particular attention is called. They 
have always been an interesting study to the curious and to the 
geologist as well, these specimens of extinct life that moved and 
had their being thousands and thousands of years ago and are 
imprisoned in this stone. The high finish given to the surface of 
the stone has brought out the presence of the fossils so as to be 
easily seen, particularly at the Jefferson Avenue entrance and in 
the pillars adorning it. Go and look at them, it will richly repay 

The first animals that ever walked on the earth lived about 
twenty million years ago. Scientists call them "trilobites" and 
declare that they were undoubtedly the first animals that had legs. 
They were the ancestors of modern lobsters and crabs and great 
numbers of them have been preserved in the rocks in some parts 
of this country. 

. Quantities of them are found in the neighborhood of Cincin- 
nati. Being clad in armor made of an imperishable substance 
known as ''chitine," their forms have been preserved in a wonder- 
ful way, and, the mud in which they became buried having 
hardened into stone, they are dug out today by curiosity hunters, 
who call them "petrified butterflies" or else "fossil locusts." 



IN 1827 and early thirties, directly opposite the Palmer build- 
ing, on the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Griswold 
Street, was a two-story wooden building. I don't remember 
who occupied it at that time, but later on it was occupied by 
Mr. Dwight, the father of the late A. A. Dwight. He kept a 
miscellaneous stock of goods and lived on the corner of Wood- 
ward Avenue and State Street, where Rolshoven's jewelry store 
now is. Afterwards Stowell and Rood kept a bookstore there, 
having a book bindery upstairs. Stowell and Rood dissolved 
partnership and Rood remained there until he bought out Snow 
& Fisk. I don't remember who followed, but I think it was 
Banks, a colored man, with clothing. Spencer & Calhoun kept 
a faney grocery store next door ; the^' had on sale the first pine- 
apples that I ever saw. 

Next came Mrs. Calhoun, who kept a millinery shop; J. 
Hawley, harness and saddlery; Charles Piquette, jewelry and 
gold pens ; Chase & Ballard, hardware, and C. Wickware & Co., 
drugs, liquors and groceries. Their store afterwards was occu- 
pied by Knight & Pitcher, with boots and shoes. Dr. Thomas 
B. Clark, with a drug store, occupied the corner of Woodward 
and Jefferson Avenues, after his forced removal by fire from 
across the street. Mr. M. Paulding had at one time a hardware 
store in this block and John B. Piquette had a jewelry store in 
the same building, as did also George Doty. . 


Garry Spencer and Mr. Calhoun were both tailors by trade 
and it seemed out of place for them to be in the grocery business. 
They dissolved partnership soon after and each went his way in 
the pursuit of his old calling. Mr. Chase, of Chase & Ballard, 


was a retired British officer, from Quebec. How he came to get 
into the hardware business with Mr. Ballard is not known, but 
they kept a large stock, did a large business and were quite suc- 
cessful. Mrs. Chase, a French lady, a native of Quebec, was a 
very charming and attractive woman and her daughter, Charlotte, 
was her counterpart. The latter married Dr. Casgrain, of Wind- 
sor, who since has been elected a member of the Dominion parli- 
ament ; and their son is now quite a prominent attorney of Detroit. 
Mr. Chase was a quiet, dignified gentleman of small stature. 
Chase & Ballard were succeeded by F. A. Hickox. Mr. Chase 
built and owned the National Hotel (Russell House). 

The two Piquettes were the sons of Mrs. Thomas Shelden, 
by her former husband and half brothers of Mrs. Storrs Willis 
and the late Mrs. Harry Guise. 

Mr. Paulding's father was one of the three men who captured 
Major Andre during the revolution. 


Paulding used often to refer to the part his father played in 
the capture of Major Andre, not by any means in a self-asserting 
way, as much as did his friends. He being of a jovial, genial 
nature, was possessed of many friends. Indeed, nearly all the 
then small community knew ^im well. 

Paulding's ancestor, it appears was the master spirit of the 
party that captured Andre (namely John Paulding, Isaac Van 
Wart and David Williams), and the only one that could read and 
write, and when they hailed Andre he ( Paulding) advanced with 
present musket and bade him stand and announce his destination. 

**My lads," he replied, "I hope you belong to our party." 

They asked which party he meant. 

"The lower party," he answered, and on their saying that 
they did, he bfetrayed an exultation that was unmistakeable. 

"Thank God, I am once more among friends," he cried. 

Paulding happened to have on a royal uniform at the time, 
which further mystified Andre. None but Paulding (as before 
mentioned), was able to read Arnold's pass which he produced, 
and he treated it with little respect after the previous avowal. 
Paulding said after, if he had pulled out General Arnold's pass 
first, he should have let him go. 



Tlicy at once proceeded to examine his person. He warned 
ihem of Arnold's displeasure, but they vowed they did not fear 
it, and w^hile by their compulsion he threw off his clothing, piece 
by piece, Williams was deputed to the examination. Nothing 
appeared, however, till one boot was removed ; then it was evident 
that something was concealed -in" the stocking. 

"By ," cried Paulding, "here it is," and seizing the foot 

while Williams withdrew the stocking, three folded half-sheets of 
paper inclosed in a fourth indorsed "West Point" were revealed. 
The other foot was found similarly furnished. 

"By ," repeated Paulding, "he is a spy!" 

They questioned him as to where he obtained these papers ; 
but, of course, his replies were evasive. They asked him whether 
he would engage to pay them handsomely if they would release 
liim and he eagerly assented. He would surrender all he had 
with him, and would engage to pay a hundred guineas or more, 
and any quantity of dry goods, if he were permitted to communi- 
cate with New York. Dry goods, it will be remembered, was the 
general term for articles peculiarly precious to our people. Pauld- 
ing peremptorily stopped the conversation, swearing, determin- 
edly, that not ten thousand guineas should release him. In answer 
to further questions Andre prayed them to lead him to an Ameri- 
can post, and interrogate him no more. 

It is also asserted that, but for the strong, energetic spirit of 
Paulding, there is a probability that Andre would have gotten 
ofif, and that his resolutions and sagacity are shown by the course 
pursued on this discovery. I will not go further into a detail of 
this disastrous affair, disastrous as far as Andre and the British 
cause were concerned, as all school boys and girls throughout 
the land, as well as the average citizen, are familiar with the 
story. But I presume it is with them, as it is with me, the 
account of Andre's capture and unfortunate fate is ever new. 


Julius Eldred, in the latter thirties, erected a block of three 
brick stores on the north side of Jefferson Avenue, between 
Woodward Avenue and Griswold Street, and removed his hard- 
ware store to one of them, his son Elisha and Mr. Marvin joining 
him. Another son, Anson, with Mr. David French, continued 



the ground plaster, French burr millstone, lumber and wood busi- 
ness at 84 Atwater Street, in the "blue building." 

Randolph Brothers occupied one of the stores with wholesale 
dry goods, the first of its kind in Michigan. There were four 
brothers, bachelors to their life's end. They were a gay, genial, 
hospitable quartet, bon vivants if you will, and for whom Nancy 
Martin saved her choicest tid-bits. Whether they made much 
money, or what became of them, I never knew, but from about 
1835 to 1845 o^ '6> ^h^y were quite in the public eye. 

After occupying the corner of Jefferson and Woodward 
Avenues for awhile. Dr. Clark was burned out and a four-story 
brick building was erected on the place by the owner of the lot, 
Barnabus Campau or 'Xabie" Campau, as he was sometimes 
called. This building was occupied by A. C McGraw & Co., 
boots and shoes, for many years ; afterwards by M. S. Smith & 
Co., with a jewelry store. They also remained there for many 

On the Merrill block site, in the early '30's, was a brick build- 
ing owned by Robert Smart and occupied by the dry goods 
merchant, Henry Disbrow, afterwards by a Scotch gentleman 
with the same line of goods (I have forgotten his name) ; then 
by M. M. Brown as a clothing store, and finally by Campbell & 
Jack and Campbell & Linn, dry goods merchants. All will 
remember Colin Campbell and James Jack and Mr. Linn. The 
last named is with us yet, a fine, courteous gentleman, who has 
quite recently retired from the employ of Newcomb, Endicott & 
Co., after many years of service with them. Aug. L. Wells was 
on this corner in 1847. He sold dry goods. 




AROUND these four corners — Jefferson' and Woodward — 
and in the immediate vicinity for many years ebbed and 
flowed the life of the city. It was its business center, and to 
be located far from it, even in a small way, meant disaster. 
Adjoining Campbell & Linn, Alex McFarren kept a book and sta- 
tionery store. Mr. McFarren had been a boss carpenter, but went 
into the book and stationery business. He secured the agency of 
the American Bible and Tract Society publications, and being 
a Presbyterian, easily obtained nearly all the patronage of that 
denomination. He was a fine, genial man and enjoyed a large 
trade from the general public as well. After some years in the 
business, having secured a competency, he retired to his comfort- 
able home out Woodward Avenue, and passed the remainder of 
his days in quiet. He had for principal clerk a very popular young 
man, Frank Brainard, who drew a large amount of custom, par- 
ticularly from the younger portion of the community, in want 
of school books, etc. He was a brother of Mrs. McFarren, as 
also of Mrs. A. E. Hathon. There are many, no doubt, who will 
call to mind the persons I have mentioned. The late Don C. Hen- 
derson, editor of the Allegan Journal, was a clerk in McFarren's 
book store for quite a while, before he joined the editorial staff of 
the New York Tribune, under the tutelage of Horace Greeley. 

Next to McFarren Pierre, Teller kept a store, having for sale 
drugs, wines and liquors, and next to him George Wales had a 
wholesale liquor store. Some now living may perhaps call to mind 
George Wales. He was a short, chunky, genial chap, not unlike 
the late William P. Moore, whom many will remember, I know. 
Wales kept an extensive stock of liquors and sold cheaply. I 
recall that he had a particular make of brandy that he sold by the , 
barrel for 75 cents per gallon to the trade and to the tavernkeepers 
in the interior of the state. If any of the latter's guests desired 


to "wet their whistles" (and most all of them did) and made any 
objection to the "goods" handed out, the proprietor >vould say, 
"Why, that is George Wales's best, and cost me 75 cents a gallon." 
What more could be said ? 

On the site of Mr. Dcsnoyers's residence William and J. E. 
King had a clothing store, and next was the Desnoyers Block. 

Peter J. Desnoyers was born in Paris, France, on the first of 
August, 1772. He received an excellent education and served with 
his father as a silversmith until he was 18 years of age. Just 
previous to the French Revolution a company had been formed in 
America known as the Sciota Land Co., which opened an agency 
at Paris, and offered large inducements to mechanics and artisans 
of moderate means to invest in its lands. It was represented that 
they were eligibly located on a large stream called "La Belle 
River," abounding with fish of an enormous size, embracing 
magnificent forests, filled with wild game ; that there were no mili- 
tary enrollments and no quarters to find for soldiers. A large 
number of mechanics and artisans were allured by such repre- 
sensations to invest in these lands, and manv of them came over 
and took up their abode here. 

Mr. Desnoyers made some purchases for his son, Peter J., 
who, with many others, stimulated by a spirit of adventure, and 
influenced by the political disturbances at home, embarked in an 
emigrant vessel, and after a voyage of 60 days reached Havre de 
Grace, Md., and thence proceeded to Gallipolis, Ohio, which was 
said to be within the company's domains. They arrived there \\\ 
1790. Upon reaching this spot they found that the title deeds 
which they held were worthless, the company of whom they pur- 
chased not owning a foot of the land they had sold. They had 
parted with all their worldly goods, merely to reach a wilderness, 
in the midst of a people of whose language, manners and customs 
they were ignorant and at a period when the Indians were carry- 
ing death and destruction to most every white man's home. They 
endured many hardships and privations, and had frequent strug- 
gles with the hostile savages, which resulted in the death