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A Pioneer Journey To Michigan

A Pioneer Journey To Michigan image A Pioneer Journey To Michigan image
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Hon. E. B. Pond, of this city read a very interesting paper at th county pioneer meeting at Chelsea Wednesday, which will be read wit interest by our readers. It is give in full below. Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen of th Wastitenaw County Pioneer Society: I do not appear before you toda as one of the pioneers of this favor ed, prosperous, and wealthy county for when, in 1854, I carne to raake home among you, a full generatio had preceded me. The raen and women - the real pioneers - who had made its forests give place to broad fieldsofgrainandbountifulorchards, stockedits hills and plainswith cattle and horses and sheep, filled barns and granarles, buildcd happy homes where before they carne the Indian ed his tent, founded viland cities, schools, colleges, burches, had gone over the i country where they were ers, or were resting from irs and reaping a wellearned reward. 1 am here liccause, in an unguarded moment, I promised you, Mr. President, to briefly teil the story of oming to Michigan, as illustraif the "hard road to travel" which then connected the territory with the states to the east from which its immigrants were to come. I will keep that promise, the story shall be brief. It took my father, Jared Pond, who settled in Branch county in 35, about two and one-half years tke the journey from his oíd in Essex county, New York, heart of the Adirondacks, to Us first stopping place in Michigan, drian. Let it not be underthatduringall that long period s continuously "on the road." omething mu! e than two years Ited by the way, or the family i!, down in Central Ohio, while he lade an exploring trip to the counes of the southern tier. The jourey to Michigan is made to cover so i de a space of time that I may pass n review the early immigrant's ïethods of travel. No railroads ave easy or rapid transit to the arge body of immigrants who poured nto Michigan from New York and ie New England States between 832 and 1837. In the former year, rom which this story dates, there was not a single mile of railroad in vfassachusetts and but 38 miles in ew York. The immigrants carne irough New York by canal - the ien luxurious and aristocratie mode f travel, if by packet- or with their wn conveyances, across Lake Erie y the small and slow steamers of ïose early days, by wagon along ie south shore route through Pennflvania and Ohio, over no macaamizecl roads, or thrqOtffefiuw& Tt in the early au' iat my father started f 1 _ an , ie family consisting of his aged mother, himself, my mother and ten hildren, the oldest being twenty nd the youngest two years old, six f theSe being the chlidren of a first wife. An eleventh child was born n route, at the home of a relative near Cleveland, Ohio. Accompanyng the party also carne a widowed ister of my father with four childen. I well remember the excitement attending the breaking up of he old home, the parting with ives and friends, the last 'look at 'old white face," almost under the shadow of which I was bom, the ride by wagon down along the rapid running Au Sable, the standing on the landing at Port Kent and watchng the lightsof theincomingsteamer - the first I had ever seen - which was to bring us to Whitehall at the lead of Lake Champlain. At Whiteliall family and household goods were stowed aboard a line of freight boat and the long trip of 429 miles entered upon. The cabins, dining room and sleeping rooms of a freight canal boat are neither spacious nor richly furnished', nor is fast speed made, but it was found a much easier and more comfortable trip than one by wagon would have been. Taking now and then to the tow-path gaVe plenty of exercise, and working through the more than four score locks kept the eyes of the younger' ones wide open. An occasional jam added interest. Some of the party divided their time between fishing and foraging in the numerous well loaded orchards which stretched away on either side, this last diversion being rendered both interesting and exciting by occasional threatening demonstrations made by some lord of the herd, or by a race now and then with or from the big dog which had been commissioned to keep off intruders, though generally no objections were made by the hospitable farmers to the boys -eating all the apples they could hold and bringing their hats full aboard, to be shared with those not able to particípate in the sport. In due time Buffalo was reached, and family and effects were transferred from the canal boat to a small steamer, billed for Cleveland. The steamer was crowded with emigrants and their belongings, the weather was stormy and cold, the lake was rough, and once out of the harbor [Continuad on eiifhth page.] [Contíuued trom first page.l the stomachs of most of the passengers were in a rebellious state. I have to this day a vivid recollection of my own vain efforts to gratify hunger, and the final succéss in disposing of an apple dumpling of generous proportions. Never since did apple dumpling fill such a void or taste so deliciously. Somewhere, near Dunkirk, if I remember correctly, a piece of machinery was broken, and it became necessary to lay to, send a messenger ashore in a small boat, and give a blacksmith a job. This done and the damage repaired, the voyage was resumed and Cleveland reached near the close of .the third day. At Cleveland a'new and serious trouble stared us in the face. News had preceded us that the Cholera had broken out in üuffalo and was prevailing to an alarming extent, and Cleveland tavern-keepers - there were no hotels in those days, at least none so far west - refused admission to any and all persons coming through the infected city. After two or three hours anxious search up one street and down another, the family meanwhile remaining on the wharf, a good Samaritan was found and we were taken in and given shelter for the night. The next day a relative carne and took us to lus home a few miles distant in the country, and after a goodly season of rest and an enjoyable time hunting bee-trees, going "cooning" and gathering chestnuts and hickoiy nuts, we made our way to Knok county, where we sojourned until in the early spring of 1835, when the journey to .Michigan was resumed. This was in mid-March if my memory serves me right. The heavier effects had been previously taken to the nearest Lake Krie port and shippetl to Monroe. Two yoke of heavy oxen constituted the motive power, and a covered wagon of liberal dimensions furnished riding quarters for such members of the family as could not, by reason of age, youth, or for other cause, make good time by walking. Everything went well for two or three days, but after crossing the Sandusky river, at Lower Sandusky, now called Fremont, trouble began. It was at, or near that point, that we entered the famous and dreaded black swamp, through the heavy and gloomy forests of which the so-called road ran straight as an arrow for some thirty miles. Crossing the river by ferry about noon, at dark five miles had been made. The next morning the heavier articles of furniture - everything in fact not absolutely necessary for daily use - were stored in the spacious tavern barn, and we moved forward with the caravan of emigrants - some of them headed for Michigan, and others for Northern Indiana, Illinois, or further west. As far as the eye could see, to front or rear, the procession of covered wagons stretched out, wagons drawn by horses, by oxen, by horses and oxen, heavy wagons and Hght wagons, all overloaded with both living and dead freight, and all making haste slowly. The frost was just out of the ground, the spring settling had not taken place, there was no bottom to the road, and every wheel on every wagon was I QOwn in me üiacic, sticKy mua nuD deep. Occasionally sorne'disgusted and experimenting driver would take to the canal-like gutter by the roadside, but was soon glad to get some fellow traveler to unhitch his team from his own wagon and help draw him back into the road. To relieve horses and cattle men walked, boys walked, girls walked, and even mothers, with babes in arms took their turn at walking, utilizing in many cases the logs lying along the gutters. An oíd fashion Michigan railroad, and if there is a real, simon-pure pioneer here, he or she will know what sort of a railroad that was, would have been a Godsend. There was a tavern every mile - in fact about every house was a tavern - in which the women and children, and such men as could not bunk in the wagons, found shelter. This slow movement continued day after day. The first day after entering the swamps ray father made arrangements with a fellow-mover to aid each other in their oft-occurring times of need, by doubling teams and drawing first one and then the other wagon out of any extra deep hole in which itmightbecome stalled. From one of these holes the four yoke of oxen succeeded in drawing the other fellow's wagon out, but our wagon was "in it" to stay. The doubled-up teams could not start a wheel, with a rail under each wheel and a man or two at each rail. So there it remained for the night, the most of the family walking to and finding quarters at the next tavern, a half-mile or so ahead. The next morning my father hired a teamster, who was daily raking in a liberal number of dollars by aiding unfortunate emigrants, to draw him out to Stony Ridge, about ten miles from Perrysburg. This was done, Perrysburg was reached, the Maumee crossed by ferry and a tie-up made on a high bluff just at dark. Two or three weeks later my father went back over the same route with a siDgle yoke of oxen, making the passage of the swamp in a single day, and back again with his load of goods in the same time. Today the voyage of the swamp may be made in less than an hour, and in the five and one-half days one may easily make the distance from New York to San Francisco. At Perrysburg we saw the fort and barracks occupied a few days before by the ühio troops which had been called out to meet the Michigan boys in battle - the bone of contention being the boundary line and the ten mile strip claimed by both the Buckeyes and the Wolverines. The flag was still flying, but the brave and blustering soldier boys had gone home. We had met squat after squad of them tramping through the mud of the Blad Swamp. Having been denied the opportunity to exhaust their ammunition in shooting at their Michigan brothers, they made targets of calves and pigs, turkeys and chickens and succeeded in shooting to pieces the eagles, bears, lions and other bird and animáis doing duty on tavern sign-boards. One day one of these patriotic and over-loaded Buckeye soldiers hurrahed for Ohio, and an older brother, now a resident o Oregon, responded with a cheer for Michigan. This brought a cali to the Buckeye's zealous comrades to help duck the Wolverine for daring such prQfanation on Ohio's sacrec soil. Fortunately hostilities were declared off, and the ducking did not take place. Krom Perrysburg we carne arounc Toledo - Ohio's future great - to Monroe, and from that place through Tecumseh to Adrián, thus avoiding the Cotton-wood swamp, then a limited edition of the Black swamp. The family was placed in a vacant farmhouse of a primitive type, about four miles from Adrián, while my father prospected for a location. Having been a survcyor, he was em])l(iyed by an eastern capitalist to go into Hillsdale county and select and lócate a site for a county seat, he putting in his money and to have the second choice of 8o's purchased. The selection was made and the land purchased from Uncle Sam; hut the agent of the capitalist refusing to carry out the agreement, my father drew out his money, took pay for, his time, went into the next county west, - Branch - selected, and proceeded to the land office at Kalamazoo and entered 200 acres situated on the banks of a beautiful little lake near the Indiana line, in the present township of Kinderhook, so named for Martin Van Buren, - "Sage of Kinderhook" - president of the United States at the date of its organization. In the latter part of August or first of September the family started, full of hope, for the place where a home was to be founded. We got as f ar as the village of Branch, then and until 1842 the county seat, where a supposed temporary halt was made, with the expectation of going upon the land the next spring. We never reached it, and two years later it was sold; the larger share of the proceeds going to pay accumulated doctors' bilis and the necessary expenses of living meantime. But for this untoward turnj in affairs the writer of this sketch might have been bred a farmer and become a granger. Who can teil what else might have happened to him? The adjoining township, Gilead, lias turned out a granger governor. Branch county had then been organized but two years and had a population below 3,000. lts first settler came into it in 1829, and the census of 1837 gave it 4,016 inhabitants. Large numbers of Indians yet had a home within its borders, and well do I remember their processions to and from the old trading post "Wabskokias," on the west bank of the Coldwater river, at the point where that stream is crossed by the Chicago road, about half a mile west of Coldwater. They usually went down loaded with venison, cranberries, maple sugar, etc, each in season, and as usually came back loaded with whisky-" fire-water." On one of these down-the-river excursions the band halted in front of our house to water their ponies and barter off part of their truck. One of them proposed to buy the writer, then a lad of ten years. In addition to the tempting price offered, he promised to give pappoose a pony, teach him to ride and shoot, and pa-ma (by and bye) bring him back. Suffice it to say that a watchful mother speedily gathered four boys into the fold, three of them younger than the one sought to be purchased, and kept them safely under cover until tucked away in bed for the night. About midnight the door of the house was quietly opened, bolts and locks were not in general use those days, and the step of a moecasined foot heard inside. To the wakened father's cali "who'sthere?" came the answer, "Indian," and to "what do youwant?" "Pappoose." He was persuaded to leave without me, and my chance of becoming a I "big chief" was lost. About' four j ! years later Nottawa Sepe reserve in 'the adjoining county west, was ced!ed to the "Great Father" at Washington, and the Pottawatomies of Branch and St. Joseph counties were removed to new hunting grounds in Kansas, hut not until after in a drunken pow-wowheld on the east bank of the Coldwater river just north of the Chicago turnpike the chief, who was mainly instru mental in making the sale, had been murdered by one of the dissatisfiec band. The murderer was arrested confined in jail at Branch, and the jail placed under guard. In large numbers the Indians pitched their tents on the commons near by, anc there remained until the exodus to the west took place in 1840, in charge of United States officials The fragrant odors of their dail) feasts, muskrat stews being their principal article of diet, still tickle my nostrils. The murderer was not put on trial, but was released f ron confinement and taken west.with his brethren. In 1867, as I stood on the platform of the Kansas Pacific Railroad station at St. Mary's Mission, a few miles west of Topeka, I had pointed.out to me middle-aged Indians who were among those removed from Michigan thirty years before. Their lands were again being sold and a removal to Indian Territory was then near at hand. And not a few Michigan men - not content with the lands wrested from these Indians in Michigan - were on the scent, ready to succeed to the possession of their Kansas homes. And now, Mr. President, having máde the journey to, and located my party of emigrants in Michigan, and crowded the Indians out, my promise is fulfilled and my alloted time exhausted. To proceed further and unload upon the audience any reminiscences of early days in Michigan, wouldbe to trespass upon good nature, so permit me to close with thanks for the indulgence shown me.


Ann Arbor Argus
Old News