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ERA OF THE SETTLEMENT OF DETROIT, AND THE STRAITS BETWEEN LAKES ERIE AND HURON.
The following papers, relative to the early occupancy of these straits, were copied from the originals in the public archives in Paris, by Gen Cass, while he exercised the functions of minister at the court of France. The first relates to an act of occupancy made on the banks of a tributary of the Detroit river, called St. Deny's, probably the river Aux Canards. The second coincides with the period usually assigned as the origin of the post of Detroit. They are further valuable, for the notice which is incidentally taken of the leading tribes, who were then found upon these straits.
It will be recollected, in perusing these documents, that La Salle had passed these straits on his way to " the Illinois," in 1679, that is, eight years before the act of possession at St. Deny's, and twenty-two years before the establishment of the post of Detroit. The upper lakes had then, however, been extensively laid open to the enterprise of the missionaries, and of the adventurers in the fur trade. Marquette, accompanied by Alloez, had visited the south shore of Lake Superior in 1668, and made a map of the region, which was published in the Lettres £difiantes. This zealous and energetic man established the mission of St. Ignace at Michilimackinac, about 1669 or 1670, and three years afterwards, entered the upper Mississippi, from the Wisconsin. Vincennes, on the Wabash, was established in 1710 ;* St. Louis, not till 1763.f
Canada, 7th June, 1687.
A renewal of the taking possession of the territory upon the Straits (Detroit] between Lakes Erie and Huron, by Sieur de la Duranthaye
OKver Morel, Equerry, Sieur de la Duranthaye, commandant in the name
geleran, Head of the Missions with the OttawasJ of Michilimackinac, the
* Nicollet's Report. t Law's Historical Dis.
t This is, manifestly, an error. The writer of this act of possession appears to have mistaken the bank of the St. Mary's, one of the tributaries of the Miami of the Lakes, in the Miami country, for the Sault de Ste-Marie, at the outlet of Lake Superior. The latter position was occupied, at the earliest dates, to which tradition reaches, by a branch of the Algonquins, to whom the French gave the name, from the falls of the river at that locality, of Saulteux. They are better known, at this day under the name of Chippewas and Odjibwas.
Miamis of Sault Ste-Marie, the Illinois, and Green Bay, and of the Sioux of Mons. de la Forest, formerly commandant of Fort St. Louis on the Illinois, of Mons. de Lisle, our Lieutenant, and of Mons. de Beauvais, Lieutenant of Fort St. Joseph, on the Straits [Detroit] between Lakes Huron and Erie. We declare to all whom it may hereafter concern, that we have come upon the banks of the river St. Deny's, situat ed three leagues from Lake Erie, in the Straits of the said Lakes Erie and Huron, on the south of said straits, and also at the entrance on the north side, for and in the name of the King, that we re-take possession of the said posts, established by Mons. La Salle for facilitating the voyages he made or caused to be made in vessels from Niagara to Michilimackinac, in the years * * • * * * at each of which we have «aused to be set up anew a staff, with the arms of the King, in order to make the said renewed taking possession, and ordered several cabins to be erected for the accommodation of the French and the Indians of the Shawnees and Miamis, who had long been the proprietors of the said territory, but who had some time before withdrawn from the same for their greater ad vantage.
The present act passed in our presence, signed by our hands, and by Rev. Father Angeleran, of the society of Jesuits, by MM. De la Forest, De Lisle and De Beauvais, thus in the original:
De la Duranthaye [laGarduer].
De Beauvais, and
De la Forest.
Compared by me with the original in my hands, Councillor Secretary of the King, and Register in Chief of the Royal Council at Quebec, subscribed, and each page paraphe.
Collated at Quebec, this 11th September, 1712.
[Signed], Byon Et Vandreuil.
Memoir of Monsieur de la Mothe Cadillac, relative to the establishment of Detroit, addressed to the Minister of Marine, \-Uh September, 1704;
La Mothe Cadillac renders an account of his conduct relative to the establishment of Detroit, by questions and answers. It is the Minister who questions, and La Mothe who answers: Q. Was it not in 1699 that you proposed to me an establishment in
the Straits which separate Lake Erie from Lake Huron? A. Yes, my Lord. Q. What were the motives which induced you to wish to fortify a
place there, and make an establishment? A. I had several. The first was to make a strong post, which should
not be subject to the revolutions of other posts, by fixing there a number of French and Savages, in order to curb the Iroquois, who had constant* ly annoyed our colonies and hindered their prosperity.
Q. At what time did you leave Quebec to go to Detroit?
A. On the 8th of March, 1701. I reached Montreal the 12th, when we were obliged to make a change. • • q • I left La Chine the 5th of June with fifty soldiers and fifty Canadians—Messrs. De Fonty, Captain, Duque and Chacornach, Lieutenants. I was ordered to pass by the Grand River of the Ottawas, notwithstanding my remonstrances. I arrived at Detroit the 24th July and fortified myself there immediately; had the necessary huts made, and cleared up the grounds, preparatory to its being sowed in the autumn.
Compare these data, from the highest sources, with the Indian tradition of the first arrival of the French, in the upper lakes, recorded at page 107, Oneota, No. 2.
THE CHOCTAW INDIANS. The Vicksburg Sentinel of the 18th ult., referring to this tribe of Indians, has the following :—" The last remnant of this once powerful tribe are now crossing our ferry on their way to their new homes in the far West. To one who, like the writer, has been familiar to their bronze inexpressive faces from infancy, it brings associations of peculiar sadness to see them bidding here a last farewell perhaps to the old hills which gave birth, and are doubtless equally dear to him and them alike. The first playmates of our infancy were the young Choctaw boys of the then woods of Warren county. Their language was once scarcely less familiar to us than our mother-English. We know, we think, the character of the Choctaw well. We knew many of their present stalwart braves in those days of early life when the Indian and white alike forget disguise, but in the unchecked exuberance of youthful feeling show the real character that policy and habit may afterwards so much conceal; and we know that, under the stolid stoic look he assumes, there is burning in the Indian's nature a heart of fire and feeling, and an all-observing keenness of apprehension, that marks and remembers everything that occurs, and every insult he receives. Cunni-at a hah! They are going away! With it visible reluctance which nothing has overcome but the stem necessity they feel impelling them, they have looked their last on the graves of their sires—the scenes of their youth—and have taken up their slow toilsome march, with their household gods among them, to their new home in a strange land. They leave names to many of our rivers, towns and counties; and so long as our State remains, the Choctaws, who once owned most of her soil, will be remembered."
A SYNOPSIS OF CARTIER'S VOYAGES OF DISCOVERY AT NORTH AMERICA
Forty-two years had elapsed from the discovery of America by Columbus, when Jacques Cartier prepared to share in the maratime enterprise of the age, by visiting the coast. Cartier was a native of Normandy, and sailed from the port of St. Malo, in France, on the 20th April, 1534. It will be recollected that the conquest of Mexico had been completed 13 years previous. Cartier had two small vessels of 60 tons burden and 61 men each. The crews took an oath, before sailing, "to behave themselves truly and faithfully in the service of the most christian king," Francis I. After an unusually prosperous voyage of 20 days, he made cape "Buona Vista" in Newfoundland, which he states to be in north latitude, 48° 30'. Here meeting with ice, he made the haven of St. Catherine's, where he was detained ten days. This coast had now been known since the voyage of Cabot, in 1497, and had been frequently resorted to, by fishing vessels. Jean Denis, a native of Rouen, one of these fishermen, is said to have published the first chart of it, in 1506. Two years after wards, Thomas Aubert, brought the first natives from Newfoundland to Paris, and this is the era, 1508, commonly assigned as the discovery of Canada. The St. Lawrence remained, however, undiscovered, nor does it appear that any thing was known, beyond a general and vague knowledge of the coast, and its islands. The idea was yet entertained, indeed, it will be seen by subsequent facts, that America was an island, and that a passage to the Asiatic continent, existed in these latitudes.
On the 21st May, Cartier continued his voyage, sailing "north and by east" from cape Buona Vista, and reached the Isle of Birds, so called from the unusual abundance of sea fowl found there, of the young of which the men filled two boats, "so that" in the quaint language of the journal, "besides them which we did eat fresh, every ship did powder and salt five or six barrels." He also observed the godwit, and a larger and vicious bird, which they named margaulx. While at this island, they descried a polar bear, which, in their presence leapt into the sea, and thus escaped. On their subsequent passage to the main land, they again encountered, as they supposed, the same animal swimming towards land. They manned their boats, and "by main strength overtook her, whose flesh was as good to be eaten, as the flesh of a calf two years old." This bear is described to be, "as large as a cow, and as white as a swan."
On the 27th he reached the harbour of " Carpunt" in the bay " Les Chastaux," latitude 51°, where he was constrained to lay by, on account of the accumulation of ice, till the 9th of June. The narrator of the voyage takes this occasion to describe certain parts of the coast and waters of Newfoundland, the island of St. Catherine, Blanc Sablon, Brest, the Isle of Birds, and a numerous group of Islands called the Islets. But these memoranda are not connected with any observations or discoveries of importance. Speaking of Bird and Brest Islands, he says, they afford "great store of godwits, and crows, with red beaks and red feet," who "make their nests in holes underground, even as conies." Near this locality " there is great fishing."
On the 10th June, he entered a port in the newly named island of Brest, to procure wood and water. Meantime, boats were dispatched to explore among the islands, which were found so numerous, " that it was not possible they might be told, for they continued about 10 leagues beyond the said port." The explorers slept on an island. The next day they continued their discoveries along the coast, and having passed the islands, found a haven, which they named St. Anthony: one or two leagues beyond, they found a small river named St. Servansport, and here set up a cross. About three leagues further, they discovered another river, of larger size, in which they found salmon, and bestowed upon it the name of St. Jacques.
While in the latter position, they descried a ship from Rochelle, on a fishing voyage, and rowing out in their boats, directed it to a port near at hand, in what is called "Jaques Cartier's Sound," "which," adds the narrator, " I take to be one of the best, in all the world." The face of the country they examined, is, however, of the most sterile and forbiddingcharmeter, being little besides " stones and wild crags, and a place fit for wild beasts, for in all the North Island," he continues," I did not see a cart load of good earth, yet went I on shore, in many places, and in the Island of White Sand, (Blanc Sablon,) there is nothing else but moss and small thorns, scattered here and there, withered and dry. To be short, I believe that this was the land that God allotted to Cain."
Immediately following this, we have the first description of the natives. The men are described as being " of an indifferent good stature and bigness, but wild and unruly. They wear their hair tied on the top, like a wreath of hay, and put a wooden pin within it, or any other such thing- instead of a nail, and withthem, they bind certain birds feathers. They are