Alexander Henry.

Alexander Henry's Travels and adventures in the years 1760-1776, ed. with historical introduction and notes by Milo Milton Quaife online

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at me with his knife, and foaming at the mouth
with rage at the repeated failure of his pur-
pose. At length Wenniway drew near to
M. Langlade's house; and, the door being
open, I ran into it. The Indian followed me;
but on my entering the house he voluntarily
abandoned the pursuit.

Preserved so often and so unexpectedly as it
had now been my lot to be, I returned to my
garret with a strong inclination to believe that
through the will of an overruling power no
Indian enemy could do me hurt; but new trials,
as I believed, were at hand when at ten o'clock
in the evening I was roused from sleep and
once more desired to descend the stairs. Not
less, however, to my satisfaction than sur-
prise, I was summoned only to meet Major
Etherington, Mr. Bostwick, and Lieutenant
Lesslie, who were in the room below.

These gentlemen had been taken prisoners
while looking at the game without the fort and
immediately stripped of all their clothes. They
were now sent into the fort under the charge


^Llexanbci: ]^cnrp

of Canadians, because, the Indians having re-
solved on getting drunk, the chiefs were
apprehensive that they would be murdered
if they continued in the camp. Lieutenant
Jemette and seventy soldiers had been killed;
and but twenty Englishmen, including sol-
diers, were still ahve.^ These were all within
the fort, together with nearly three hundred

These being our numbers, myself and
others proposed to Major Etherington to make
an efifort for regaining possession of the fort
and maintaining it against the Indians. The
Jesuit missionary was consulted on the project;
but he discouraged us by his representations,
not only of the merciless treatment which we
must expect from the Indians should they
regain their superiority, but of the little
dependence which was to be placed upon our
Canadian auxiUaries. Thus the fort and
prisoners remained in the hands of the Indians,
though through the whole night the prisoners
and whites were in actual possession, and they
were without the gates.

That whole night, or the greater part of it,
was passed in mutual condolence, and my
fellow prisoners shared my garret. In the

^* Captain Etherington, in a letter to his superior
officer at Detroit, June 12, 1763, states that sixteen
soldiers and the trader Tracy were jiilled in the mas-
sacre, and two soldiers wounded; and that of those taken
prisoners on June 2, five had since been killed. — Editor.

"Belonging to the canoes, etc. — Author.

morning, being again called down, I found my
master, Wenniway, and was desired to follow
him. He led me to a small house within the
fort, where in a narrow room and almost dark
I found Mr. Ezekiel Solomons, an EngHshman
from Detroit, and a soldier, all prisoners.
With these I remained in painful suspense
as to the scene that was next to present
itself till ten o'clock in the forenoon, when
an Indian arrived, and presently marched us to
the lakeside where a canoe appeared ready
for departure, and in which we found that we
were to embark.

Our voyage, full of doubt as it was, would
have commenced immediately, but that one
of the Indians who was to be of the party was
absent. His arrival was to be waited for; and
this occasioned a very long delay during which
we were exposed to a keen northeast wind.
An old shirt was all that covered me; I suf-
fered much from the cold; and in this extremity
M. Langlade coming down to the beach, I
asked him for a blanket, promising if I Uved to
pay him for it at any price he pleased; but the
answer I received was this, that he could let
me have no blanket unless there were some one
to be security for the payment. For myself,
he observed, I had no longer any property in
that country. I had no more to say to M.
Langlade; but presently seeing another Cana-
dian, named John Cuchoise, I addressed to him
a similar request and was not refused. Naked


^krantier i^mrp

as I was, and rigorous as was the weather, but
for the blanket I must have perished. At noon
our party was all collected, the prisoners all
embarked, and we steered for the Isles du
Castor ^^ in Lake Michigan.

^^ The Beaver Islands in northern Lake Michigan,
almost due west of Mackinac. They are chiefly notable
in history as the seat of the Mormon kingdom of
St. James, founded about 1850 by James Jesse Strang.
Big Beaver Island, some twelve or fifteen miles long,
has at its northern end an excellent harbor, long known
to the sailors by the name of Paradise Bay. Here
Strang established his capital, named in his honor,
St. James. Around the islands are today the best fish-
ing grounds on Lake Michigan; and St. James, a village
of several hundred people, is chiefly supported by this
industry. — Editor.


Ci^apter ii


THE soldier who was our companion in
misfortune was made fast to a bar of the
canoe by a rope tied round his neck, as is
the manner of the Indians in transporting
their prisoners. The rest were left unconfined;
but a paddle was put into each of our hands
and we were made to use it. The Indians in
the canoe were seven in number, the prisoners
four. I had left, as it will be recollected,
Major Etherington, Lieutenant Lesslie, and
Mr. Bostwick at M. Langlade's, and was now
joined in misery with Mr. Ezekiel Solomons,
the soldier, and the Englishman who had newly
arrived from Detroit. This was on the sixth
day of June. The fort was taken on the fourth;
I surrendered myself to Wenniway on the
fifth ; and this was the third day of our distress.
We were bound, as I have said, for the Isles
du Castor which lie in the mouth of Lake
Michigan; and we should have crossed the lake,
but that a thick fog came on, on account of
which the Indians deemed it safer to keep the
shore close under their lee. We therefore ap-
proached the lands of the Ottawa and their
village of L'Arbre Croche already mentioned
as lying about twenty miles to the westward of


^leranticr i^enrp

Michilimackinac on the opposite side of the
tongue of land on which the fort is built.

Every half hour the Indians gave their war
whoops, one for every prisoner in their canoe.
This is a general custom, by the aid of which
all other Indians within hearing are apprised
of the number of prisoners they are carrying.

In this manner we reached Wagoshense,^^
a long point stretching westward into the lake
and which the Ottawa make a carrying-place
to avoid going round it. It is distant eighteen
miles from Michihmackinac. After the Indi-
ans had made their war whoop as before an
Ottawa appeared upon the beach, who made
signs that we should land.

In consequence we approached. The Ottawa
asked the news and kept the Chipewa in
further conversation till we were within a few
yards of the land and in shallow water. At
this moment a hundred men rushed upon us from
among the bushes and dragged all the prisoners
out of the canoes amid a terrifying shout.

We now believed that our last sufferings
were approaching; but no sooner were we
fairly on shore and on our legs than the chiefs
of the party advanced and gave each of us
their hands, teUing us that they were our
friends, and Ottawa, whom the Chipewa
had insulted by destroying the English with-
out consulting with them on the affair. They
added that what they had done was for the

" i. e., Fox Point. — Author.

€rabri^ antx SlDbcnturcjBf

purpose of saving our lives, the Chipewa
having been carrying us to the Isles du Castro
only to kill and devour us.

The reader's imagination is here distracted
by the variety of our fortunes, and he may well
paint to himself the state of mind of those who
sustained them; who were the sport, or the
victims, of a series of events more like dreams
than realities, more like fiction than truth! It
was not long before we were embarked again
in the canoes of the Ottawa, who, the same
evening, re-landed us at Michilimackinac,
where they marched us into the fort in view of
the Chipewa, confounded at beholding the
Ottawa espouse a side opposite their own.

The Ottawa, who had accompanied us in
sufficient numbers, took possession of the fort.
We, who had changed masters but were still
prisoners, were lodged in the house of the
commandant and strictly guarded.

Early the next morning a general council
was held, in which the Chipewa complained
much of the conduct of the Ottawa in robbing
them of their prisoners, alleging that all the
Indians, the Ottawa alone excepted, were at
war with the English; that Pontiac had taken
Detroit; that the King of France had awoke,
and repossessed himself of Quebec and Mon-
treal; and that the English were meeting
destruction, not only at MichiHmackinac, but
in every other part of the world. From all this
they inferred that it became the Ottawa to


^leranticr i^cnrp

restore the prisoners and to join in the war;
and the speech was followed by large presents,
being part of the plunder of the fort, and
which was previously heaped in the center of
the room. The Indians rarely make their
answers till the day after they have heard the
arguments offered. They did not depart from
their custom on this occasion, and the council
therefore adjourned.

We, the prisoners, whose fate was thus in
controversy, were unacquainted at the time
with this transaction, and therefore enjoyed
a night of tolerable tranquillity, not in the least
suspecting the reverse which was preparing for
us. Which of the arguments of the Chipewa,
or whether or not all were deemed vaUd by the
Ottawa, I cannot say; but the council was
resumed at an early hour in the morning and
after several speeches had been made in it the
prisoners were sent for and returned to the

The Ottawa, who now gave us into the
hands of the Chipewa, had themselves de-
clared that the latter designed no other than to
kill us and make broth of ns. The Chipewa,
as soon as we were restored to them, marched
us to a village of their own, situate on the
point which is below the fort, and put us into a
lodge already the prison of fourteen soldiers,
tied two and two, with each a rope about his
neck, and made fast to a pole which might be
called the supporter of the building.


I was left untied; but I passed a night sleep-
less and full of wretchedness. My bed was the
bare ground, and I was again reduced to an
old shirt as my entire apparel; the blanket
which I had received through the generosity
of M. Cuchoise having been taken from me
among the Ottawa when they seized upon
myself and the others at Wagoshense. I was,
besides, in want of food, having for two days
ate nothing.

I confess that in the canoe with the Chipe-
wa I was offered bread — but bread with
what accompaniment! They had a loaf which
they cut with the same knives that they had
employed in the massacre — knives still
covered with blood. The blood they moistened
with spittle, and rubbing it on the bread
offered this for food to their prisoners, telling
them to eat the blood of their countrymen.

Such was my situation on the morning of
the seventh of June, in the year one thousand
seven hundred and sixty- three; but a few hours
produced an event which gave still a new color
to my lot.

Toward noon, when the great war chief,
in company with Wenniway, was seated at
the opposite end of the lodge, my friend and
brother, Wawatam, suddenly came in. During
the four days preceding I had often wondered
what had become of him. In passing by he
gave me his hand, but went immediately to-
ward the great chief by the side of whom

St^lcjcanliei: i^cnrp

and Wenniway he sat himself down. The most
uninterrupted silence prevailed; each smoked
his pipe; and this done, Wawatam arose and
left the lodge, saying to me as he passed,
"Take courage!"


ylN hour elapsed, during which several
r\ chiefs entered and preparations appeared
to be making for a council. At length
Wawatam reentered the lodge, followed by his
wife, and both loaded with merchandise which
they carried up to the chiefs and laid in a
heap before them. Some moments of silence
followed, at the end of which Wawatam pro-
nounced a speech, every word of which to
me was of extraordinary interest:

"Friends and relations," he began, "what
is it that I shall say? You know what I feel.
You all have friends and brothers and chil-
dren, whom as yourselves you love; and you —
what would you experience, did you, like me
behold your dearest friend — your brother —
in the condition of a slave; a slave, exposed
every moment to insult, and to menaces of
death? This case, as you all know, is mine.
See there (pointing to myself) my friend and
brother among slaves — himself a slave!

"You all well know that long before the war
began I adopted him as my brother. From
that moment he became one of my family, so
that no change of circumstances could break
the cord which fastened us together.

^Icjrantier i^cnrp

"He is my brother; and because I am your
relation he is therefore your relation, too: —
and how, being your relation, can he be your

"On th« day on which the war began you were
fearful lest on this very account I should reveal
your secret. You requested, therefore, that I
would leave the fort, and even cross the lake.
I did so; but I did it with reluctance. I
did it with reluctance, notwithstanding that
you, Menehwehna, who had the command in
this enterprise, gave me your promise that
you would protect my friend, delivering him
from all danger, and giving him safely to

"The performance of this promise I now claim .
I come not with empty hands to ask it. You,
Menehwehna, best know whether or not, as it
respects yourself, you have kept your word,
but I bring these goods to buy off every claim
which any man among you all may have on
my brother, as his prisoner,"

Wawatam having ceased, the pipes were
again filled; and after they were finished a fur-
ther period of silence followed. At the end of
this, Menehwehna arose and gave his reply:

"My relation and brother," said he, "what
you have spoken is the truth. We were ac-
quainted with the friendship which subsisted
between yourself and the Englishman in whose
behalf you have now addressed us. We knew
the danger of having our secret discovered,

and the consequences which must follow; and
you say truly that we requested you to leave the
fort. This we did out of regard for you and
your family; for if a discovery of our design
had been made, you would have been blamed,
whether guilty or not; and you would thus
have been involved in difficulties from which
you could not have extricated yourself.

"It is also true that I promised you to take
care of your friend; and this promise I per-
formed by desiring my son, at the moment of
assault, to seek him out and bring him to my
lodge. He went accordingly, but could not
find him. The day after I sent him to Lang-
lade's, when he was informed that your friend
was safe; and had it not been that the Indians
were then drinking the rum which had been
found in the fort he would have brought him
home with him, according to my orders.

"I am very glad to find that your friend has
escaped. We accept your present; and you
may take him home with you. "

Wawatam thanked the assembled chiefs,
and taking me by the hand, led me to his lodge,
which was at the distance of a few yards only
from the prison lodge. My entrance appeared
to give joy to the whole family; food was im-
mediately prepared for me; and I now ate the
first hearty meal which I had made since my cap-
ture. I found myself one of the family; and but
that I had still my fears as to the other Indi-
ans I felt as happy as the situation could allow.

^ierander i^enrp

In the course of the next morning I was
alarmed by a noise in the prison lodge; and
looking through the openings of the lodge in
which I was, I saw seven dead bodies of white
men dragged forth. Upon my inquiry into the
occasion I was informed that a certain chief
called by the Canadians Le Grand Sable had
not long before arrived from his winter's
hunt; and that he, having been absent when
the war begun, and being now desirous of
manifesting to the Indians at large his hearty
concurrence in what they had done, had gone
into the prison lodge, and there, with his
knife, put the seven men, whose bodies I had
seen, to death.

Shortly after two of the Indians took one of
the dead bodies which they chose as being the
fattest, cut off the head, and divided the whole
into five parts, one of which was put into each
of five kettles, hung over as many fires kindled
for this purpose at the door of the prison lodge.
Soon after things were so far prepared a
message came to our lodge with an invitation
to Wawatam to assist at the feast.

An invitation to a feast is given by him who
is the master of it. Small cuttings of cedar
wood, of about four inches in length, supply the
place of cards; and the bearer, by word of
mouth, states the particulars.

Wawatam obeyed the summons, taking with
him as is usual to the place of entertainment
dish and spoon.


Crabel^ anb ^tibenturc^

After an absence of about half an hour he
returned bringing in his dish a human hand and
a large piece of flesh. He did not appear to
rehsh the repast, but told me that it was then
and always had been the custom among all the
Indian nations when returning from war, or on
overcoming their enemies, to make a war feast
from among the slain. This, he said, inspired
the warrior with courage in attack, and bred
him to meet death with fearlessness.

In the evening of the same day a large
canoe, such as those which came from Mon-
treal, was seen advancing to the fort. It was
full of men, and I distinguished several pas-
sengers. The Indian cry was made in the
village; a general muster ordered; and, to the
number of two hundred, they marched up to
the fort where the canoe was expected to land.
The canoe, suspecting nothing, came boldly
to the fort, where the passengers, as being
English traders, were seized, dragged through
the water, beat, reviled, marched to the prison
lodge, and there stripped of their clothes, and

Of the EngUsh traders that fell into the
hands of the Indians at the capture of the fort,
Mr. Tracy was the only one who lost his life.
Mr. Ezekiel Solomons and Mr. Henry Bost-
wick were taken by the Ottawa, and after the
peace, carried down to Montreal, and there
ransomed. Of ninety troops about seventy
were killed; the rest, together with those of

^Icjranlicr l^cnrp

the posts in the Bay des Puants, and at the
River St. Joseph, were also kept in safety
by the Ottawa till the peace, and then either
freely restored, or ransomed at Montreal. ^^
The Ottawa never overcame their disgust at
the neglect with which they had been treated
in the beginning of the war by those who
afterward desired their assistance as allies.

**The garrison of Fort Edward Augustus at Green
Bay came at the summons of Captain Etherington to
join that officer at L 'Arbre Croche, being escorted across
Lake ^Michigan by a band of friendly ^lenominee. The
garrison at St. Joseph was massacred on May 25 by the
Potawatomi; the four survivors of this massacre were
carried to Detroit and there, on June 15, exchanged for
certain Indians then in the hands of the besieged gar-
rison at that place. — Editor.



IN the morning of the ninth of June a general
council was held, at which it was agreed
to remove to the island of Michilimackinac,
as a more defensible situation, in the event of
an attack by the EngHsh. The Indians had
begun to entertain apprehensions of want of
strength. No news had reached them from the
Potawatomi, in the Bay des Puants; and
they were uncertain whether or not the
Monomins^^ would join them. They even
feared that the Sioux would take the English

This resolution fixed, they prepared for a
speedy retreat. At noon the camp was broken
up, and we embarked, taking with us the
prisoners that were still undisposed of. On our
passage we encountered a gale of wind, and
there were some appearances of danger. To
avert it, a dog, of which the legs were previously
tied together, was thrown into the lake; an
offering designed to soothe the angry passions
of some offended Manito.

^^ Manomines or IVIalomines. In the first syllable the
substitution of I for n, and « for /, marks one of the
dififerences in the Chippewa and Algonquin dialects.
In the mouth of an Algonquin it is Michilimackinac; in
that of a Chippewa, Michinimackinac. — Author.

Slkraittier l^enrp

As we approached the island two women in
the canoe in which I was began to utter melan-
choly and hideous cries. Precarious as my
condition still remained I experienced some
sensations of alarm from these dismal sounds,
of which I could not then discover the occa-
sion. Subsequently I learned that it is custom-
ary for the women on passing near the burial
places of relations never to omit the practice
of which I was now a witness, and by which
they intend to denote their grief.

By the approach of evening we reached the
island in safety, and the women were not long
in erecting our cabins. In the morning there
was a muster of the Indians, at which there
were found three hundred and fifty figh ting men.

In the course of the day there arrived a canoe
from Detroit, with ambassadors, who en-
deavored to prevail on the Indians to repair
thither to the assistance of Pontiac; but fear
was now the prevaihng passion. A guard was
kept during the day and a watch by night, and
alarms were very frequently spread. Had an
enemy appeared all the prisoners would have
been put to death; and I suspected that as an
Enghshman I should share their fate.

Several days had now passed, when one
morning a continued alarm prevailed, and I
saw the Indians running in a confused manner
toward the beach. In a short time I learned
that two large canoes from Montreal were in


All the Indian canoes were immediately-
manned, and those from Montreal were sur-
rounded and seized as they turned the point
behind which the flotilla had been concealed.
The goods were consigned to a Mr. Levy, and
would have been saved if the canoe men had
called them French property; but they were
terrified, and disguised nothing.

In the canoes was a large proportion of hquor,
a dangerous acquisition, and which threatened
disturbance among the Indians, even to the loss
of their dearest friends. Wawatam, always
watchful of my safety, no sooner heard the
noise of drunkenness, which in the evening did
not fail to begin, than he represented to me the
danger of remaining in the village, and owned
that he could not himself resist the temptation
of joining his comrades in the debauch. That
I might escape all mischief, he, therefore, re-
quested that I would accompany him to the
mountain, where I was to remain hidden till
the liquor should be drunk.

We ascended the mountain accordingly.
It is this mountain which constitutes that high
land in the middle of the island, of which I
have spoken before, as of a figure considered as
resembling a turtle, and therefore called michi-
limackinac. It is thickly covered with wood,
and very rocky toward the top. After walking
more than half a mile we came to a large rock
at the base of which was an opening, dark
within, appearing to be the entrance of a cave.

^IcranDcr i^cnirp

Here Wawatam recommended that I should
take up my lodging, and by all means to remain
till he returned.

On going into the cave, of which the entrance
was nearly ten feet wide, I found the farther
end to be rounded in its shape, Hke that of an
oven but with a further aperture, too small,
however, to be explored.

After thus looking around me I broke small
branches from the trees and spread them for a
bed; then wrapped myself in my blanket, and
slept till daybreak.

On awaking I felt myself incommoded by
some object upon which I lay; and removing it
found it to be a bone. This I supposed to be
that of a deer, or some other animal, and what
might very naturally be looked for in the place
in which I was; but when daylight visited my
chamber I discovered with some feeHngs of
horror that I was lying on nothing less than a
heap of human bones and skulls which covered
all the floor!

The day passed without the return of Wawa-
tam, and without food. As night approached
I found myself unable to meet its darkness in
the charnel house, which, nevertheless, I had
viewed free from uneasiness during the day.

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