Richard J Harney.

History of Winnebago County, Wisconsin, and early history of the Northwest online

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prized by Indians, and presented them, while
at the same time he bent his head to receive
the blow and offered a hatchet. His compli-
ance seemed to satisfy them, and they gave
him and his companions some beaver meat.
The Indians were of divided councils; some
in favor of killing them and taking their goods;
others, desirous of encouraging French traders .
to come among them to supply their wants,
were in favor of treating them kindly. In the
morning they were greatly relieved by a young
warrior asking them for the peace-pipe, which
was gladly given, when he filled it, smoked it,
and passed it to another, who did the same;
and thus it passed from hand to hand through
the whole assemblage. They then informed
their captives that they intended to return to
their homes, and that they must accompany
them. This exactly comported with their
desires, as they would now have the protection
of a band of friendly Indians. But in the
morning, when the friar opened his breviary
and began to repeat his devotions, they gath-
ered around him and manifested their super-
stitious fears of the book, which they thought
was a bad spirit, that he was invoking to
destroy them. He was therefore obliged to
resort to the expediency of singing the services,
which seemed to gratify them, as they sup-
posed he was singing for their pleasure.

Day after day they paddled up the river,
camping on the shores and occasionally stop-
ping for a hunt, which never failed to give
them a bountiful supply of provisions.

After nineteen days they arrived at the site
of St. Paul, and here theirsorrows commenced.
As the Indians belonged to different bands,
each claimed a share of the captives and of their
goods. They succeeded, however, in amicably
dividing the spoils, and started across the
country for their villages near Mille Lac. They
travelled with such speed that it was torture
to keep up with them, and as they swam
the large streams, Hennepin suffered much
from immersion in the cold waters. He was
also nearly famished with hunger, receiving
from them only a small bit of smoked meat
twice a day; but the rations were the same as
their own. On the fifth day of March they




reached an Indian town, and Hennepin was in
a village of the Sioux. Here they were feasted,
and afterwards the debate was renewed about
the distribution of the captives. This being
settled, they were compelled to part company;
Hennepin fell to the lot of an old chief, who
adopted him as his son, and whom he accom-
panied to his village; here he was well treated,
and as they perceived that he was weak after
his exhaustive travels, they made for him
a sweat bath, where they steamed him
three times a week, and which he thinks was

In the summer a large body of the Indians
went on a buffalo hunt, Hennepin and his two
companions accompanying them. While on
this hunt, he induced his captors to permit him
to start for the mouth of the Wisconsin, where
he expected to meet some French traders, with
goods for the Indians. He was furnished with
a canoe, and Du Gay accompanied him. On
this trip he discovered the Falls of St. Anthony,
which he named, and where he saw a number
of Indians making their votive offering to the
Spirit of the Waters. Sometimes they were
short of food. At one time while Du Gay was
in pursuit of buffalo, Hennepin, who had a
large turtle in his charge, discovered that his
canoe had floated off; turning the turtle on his
back he covered it with his habit, on which he
placed a number of stones, and plunged into
the river in pursuit of the canoe, which he
recovered and brought safely to the shore;
shortly after, a herd of buffalo approached the
shore, when DuGay killed a young cow, which
replenished their larder.

As they were reduced to ten charges of
powder, they would run the risk of starvation
if they attempted to reach Green Bay by the
Wisconsin. There was no alternative, but for
them to join a hunting-party of Sioux, who
were not far off; they did so and while with
them met five Frenchmen, near St. Anthony's
Falls. It was Du Lhut and a party oi courier
de bois, engaged in the fur trade and now
commissioned by p-rontenac to establish friendly
relations between the Sioux and a kindred
tribe, and to explore the Upper Mississippi.

In the fall, this party having satisfactorily
arranged their business, started for Green Bay;
Hennepin and his companions in captivity
accompanying them, which place they reached
in safet)'.


War Between the French and English Colonies — The Aggres-
sors — Destruction of Port Royal — Terrible Massacre of
English Settlers on the Frontier — Frontinae Ravages the
Iroquois Country — That Nation Sues for Peace with the
French — Detroit Founded — The French in Possession of
the Country from the St. Lawrence to the Uulf of Mexico.

^T is not within the province of a work of
this kind, to discuss the European com-
plications, which were partly the cause of
the war between the French and English
colonies in North America; a war which
exposed the innocent and defenseless
frontier settlers of both colonies to all the
horrors of savage warfare; but those subjects
of the strife, involving historical events in the
Northwest, are very pertinent to our present
inquiries, and will be briefly considered.

It has been shown in the preceeding pages,
how the daring enterprise of the French com-
menced the settlement of the Northern part of
the country, prior to any other people. In
the language of Farkman: "Long before the
ice-coated pines of Plymouth had listened to
the rugged psalmody of the Puritans, the soli-
tudes of Western New York and the shaddowy
wilderness of Lake Huron were trodden by
the iron heel of the soldier and the sandalled
foot of the Franciscan friar. France was the
true pioneer of the Great West. They who
bore the Fletir de lis were always in the van,
patient, daring, indomitable; and foremost on
this bright roll of forest-chivalry, stands the
half-forgotten name oi Saiiiiiel de Cliainplain."
The French, as has been shown, endeavored
to peaceably occupy the country conjointly
with the Indians, and to raise the savages from
the depths of barbarous brutality to the plane
of Christian and civilized morals; to release
them from the terrible tribal wars that were
continually desolating the land with their
ravages, and to unite them in the blessed bonds
of peace and brotherly amit)-. Their efforts
were peaceful, benign and nobly magnani-
mous, and furnish, at least, one chapter in
the cruel history of the world that sheds a
luster reflected from the nobler and better
qualities of the human heart.

Seventy years after Jaques Cartier and
Roberval's attempted colonization on the St.
Lawrence, we find a little French colony at
Anapolis, Nova Scotia (then called Acadia).
There were then no other civilized beings on
the continent north, of the Spanish possessions
in Florida.

The little colony peacefully occupying their
new possessions, and enjoying the friendship
of the Indians, lived for several years in the
greatest tranquility. They cleared up and cul-




tivated large tracts of ground. The bountiful
waters yielded an ample supply of fish, and
the forests abounded in game. The beautiful
Bay of Anapolis and its charming slopes of
verdure, with its cozy little hamlet, was a scene
of peaceful content. They joined the Indians
in hunting and fishing parties, and the lodges
of the latter were always found in neighborly
proximity to their white friends. The weather
was so mild in the winter of 1607, that Lescar-
bot says: "I remember that on the fourteenth
day of January, on a Sunday afternoon, we
amused ourselves with singing and music, on
the river Equille, and that in the same month
we went to see the wheat-fields, two leagues
from the fort, and dined merrily in the sun-
shine. "

But this peaceful scene was now to be con-
verted into one of havoc and desolation. One
Samuel Argall, commander of a large English
armed vessel, the same who afterward treacher-
ously kidnapped Pocahontas, after she had
saved the life of Smith, suddenly appeared in
the harbor of Anapolis. She carried fourteen
guns and sixty men, and was accompanied by
two other small vessels which she had formerly
captured from the French, and was now sent
by the Governor of Virginia, who claimed the
territory as a British possession. The invasion
was unauthorized by every law of nations; for
the two powers were at peace, and the French
had been in possession long before the English
had a settlement in America.

The settlement at Port Royal was tenantless
when Argall's ships sailed into the harbor.
Biencourt, the Commander, with a number of
his men, was at the village of a neighboring
tribe. The balance of the men were reaping
their harvest in the fields, two leagues from the

The assailants found no one to resist them.
They first captured the animals and killed them,
carrying the carcasses on board the- ships.
They then plundered the fort and buildings,
and afterwards applied the torch, laying the
whole in ashes. They then went in boats up
the river, and destroyed the grain fields.

They were re-embarking when Biencourt
and his small band arrived on the scene of
destruction. Although largely outnumbered,
he tried to lure Argall and his followers to the
shore, but his efforts were vain. His word of
honor being given, an interview was obtained.
Biencourt, who was a young man, raved
furiously, and threatened future reprisal on the

The following spring, Poutrincourt, the
founder of the colony, came to Port Royal
(Anapolis) and found Biencourt and his men

houseless in the forests. They had endured
great privations through the winter, sustaining
life frequently for days at a time on roots dug
in the woods.

Port Royal was rebuilt and again occupied
by the French. This was the beginning of the
strife between the French and English. The
latter were the aggressors again, in the capture
of Quebec, when it was in a most forlorn and
defenseless condition, and surrendered by
Champlain and his little half-starved band.
But this rapacious power was obliged to disa-
vow the acts of its agents, and restore the con-
trol of the country to its lawful posessors.
The continued aggressions of the English Gov-
ernment at last involved the colonies in war,
which resulted in the expulsion of the Acadians
from what is now Nova Scotia. One of the
most merciless and malignantly cruel acts
recorded in history, and of which Bancroft
says: "I know not if the annals of the human
race keep the record of sorrows so wantonly
inflicted, so bitter and perrennial as fell upon
the French inhabitants of Acadia. " This piti-
ful event is the theme of Longfellow's beautiful
poem, Evangeline.

The two great powers that attempted to
hold this continent as a fuedal dependency,
were both destined to lose the prize they
grasped at; for the very forces which England
invoked to assist her, viz., the English colonies,
were the mixed races inhabiting the sea coast;
and if these, through superior numbers and
resources, did overcome the French, it was not
that the flag of St. George might wave trium-
phant, but that it should be supplanted by the
new banner representing a free people; a flag
which France helped to crown with victory at
the glorious battle of Yorktown. If the Finer
dc lis had to yield its supremacy in America,
and bend to remorseless destiny, it was not to
see the flag of its hated rival take its place, but
it was to be gloriously associated forever with
the great event which gave birth to a mighty

In the struggle between the French and the
English colonies, the French labored under
such disadvantages that the result of the con-
test could not be doubtful. Bancroft declares:
"If the issue had depended on the condition of
the colonies, it could hardly have seemed
doubtful. The French census for the North
American continent in 1688 showed but eleven
thousand two hundred and forty-nine; scarcely
a tenth part of the English population on its
frontiers. "

The aim of the French to preserve peace
between the Indian nations had been thwarted
from the very beginning of their occupation of




the country, by the Iroquois, and the French
had largely exhausted their energies and
resources in endeavors to suppress those ene-
mies to peace, and in protecting the other
nations. They had been partially successful
and several times had brought that war-like
nation to submission; and now all of their work
was to be overthrown, by the English making
an alliance with the Iroquois, and furnishing
them with arms and means to resist the French
and the Algonquin allies of the latter. In the
vast territory to be guarded, there were only
three or four defensive posts west of Montreal.
Those were Forts Frontenac, Niagara, St.
Louis, on Starve Rock, in the Illinois countr)-,
St. Ignace, near Mackinaw, and the Mission
at Green Bay.

The English had sent the secret wampum
belt, not only to the Iroquois, but their emmis-
saries had passed as far west as our Fox River,
and tampered with the troublesome Foxes and
Sauks, the only Algonquin tribes against which
the French ever waged war. It was expected
by the English, that through the instrumentality
of the Foxes, a league might be effected with
the other nations of the West; but the attempt
failed, and the other Algonquin nations
remained the steadfast friends of the French.
The desperate situation of the French was not
only discouraging, but seemed absolutely
hopeless. They did not number one-tenth of
the compact population of the English colonies,
which were comparatively safe, except on the
frontier, while the French were exposed on all
points, except at Quebec and Montreal.

On the twenty-fifth of August, 1689, fifteen
hundred Iroquois, well armed, secreted them-
selves, dui ing the night, on the Isle of Mont-
real, and at daybreak attacked La Chine. The
inhabitants were awakened by the noisy war-
whoop, whose ominous sound foretold their
fearful doom. The houses were set on fire,
and a general slaughter ensued, in which
neither age, sex or condition was spared. In
an hour over two hundred were massacred
and the place reduced to ashes. They next
attacked Montreal, and, after a struggle,
obtained possession of the fort, and became
masters of the island.

In this emergency, a band of brothers, De
Sainte Helene and D'Iberville, came to the
rescue. They distinguished themselves through
marvelous exploits and heroic adventures that
have made their names famous. In 1686 they
had conquered the English posts from Fort
Rupert to Albany River; and now, at the head
of a force of P"rench and Indians, they marched
for the English settlements. Cocheco was
first reached. At this point, thirteen years

before some three hundred Indians had been
treacherously captured by the English, and
shipped to Boston, where they were sold into
foreign slavery. The memory of this wrong
rankled in the breasts of the remainder of the
nation, and they were eager for revenge. As
usual, in such instances, the innocent,
unoffending frontier settlers suffered for the
atrocious wrong done by the guilty parties.

The settlers at this point were all slain or
captured. The stockade at Pemaquid, on
the Penobscot, next captured, and the Indians,
dividing into war-parties, scoured the country,
and mercilessly massacred the English settlers.

In September, commissioners from New
England met the Mohawks in council, for the
purpose of perfecting the alliance between
them. The Indians boasted of their service-
able achievements in behalf of the English.
"We have burned Montreal," they said; "we
are allies of the English and will keep the chain
unbroken. "

A party of a hundred P"rench and Indians
after twenty days travel reached the vicinity of
Schenectady. At midnight they stealthily
entered the picketed enclosure, and the sleep-
ing inhabitants were awakened by the yells of
the invaders. A dreadful scene of massacre

" The party from Three Rivers, led by Hertel, and consist-
ing of but fifty-two persons, of whom three were his sons, and
two his nephews, surprised the settlement at Salmon Falls, on
the Piscataqua, and, after a bloody engagement, burned house; 1
barns, and cattle in the stalls, and took fifty-four prisoners,
chiefly women and children. The prisoners were laden by the
victors with spoils from their own houses. Robert Rogers
rejecting his burden, was bound by the Indians to a tree, and
dry leaves kindled about him, yet in such heaps as would burn
but slowly. Mary Furguson, a girl of fifteen, burst into tears
from fatigue, and was scalped forthwith. Mehetabel Goodwin
would linger apart in the snow to lull her infant to sleep, lest
its cries should provoke the savages: angry at the delay, her
master struck the child against a tree, and hung it among the
branches. The infant of Mary Plaisted was thrown into the
river, that, eased of her burden, she might walk faster. "

" While the people of New England and New York were
concerting the grand enterprise of the reduction of Canada, the
French had, by their successes, inspired the savages with
respect, and renewed their intercourse with the West But, in
August, Montreal became alarmed. An Indian announced that
an army of Iroquois and English was busy in constructing
canoes on Lake George ; and immediately Frontenac himself
placed the hatchet in the hands of his allies, and, with the
tomahawk in his own grasp, old as he was, chanted the war-
song, and danced the wac-dance." — Bancroft.

Military expeditions were now fitted out
in New England and sent to Canada, and a
large fleet from Boston started to aid in the
reduction of Quebec. These were repulsed,


1 699]



and the English colonies, found themselves
even unable to defend their own frontier. Their
borders were scenes of sorrows, horrors, cap-
tivity and death. The heart sickens in the
contemplation of the terrible massacres of the
defenseless settlers.

The Algonquins were e.xasperated at the
former treachery and bad treatment they had
received at the hands of the English author-
ities. From Virginia to Acadia, the Indians
regarded the English with implacable hatred.
The kidnapping of Pocahontas by Argall; his
destruction of Port Royal; the treacherous
capture of friendly Indians by the hundred, for
the purpose of selling them into foreign slavery,
and the many wrongs they had sustained,
rankled in their breasts as bitter memories.

It must be remembered, too, that the Indian
is a bloodthirsty savage, in time of war, who
neitherasks nor grants quarter. He is a bitter,
relentless foe, with neither pity nor remorse.

The French have been censured by some
writers, for the atrocities committed by their
Indian allies; but it ought to be remembered
that the course of the French had been peace-
ful up to the time of the aggressions of the
English, and that the French forces did not
number one-tenth of those of the English;
that the latter first instigated the Indians to
make war on the French, and armed the
Iroquois, preparatory to their massacre of
La Chine.

The French were, therefore, compelled to
have recourse to their Indians allies, as a
means of self-defense. There is no question
that the English authorities, knowing the
defenseless situation of the French, the paucity
of their numbers, the weakened condition of
the Algonquin allies, and the formidable power
of the Iroquois, which threatened them at
every point, believed that they could make an
easy conquest of the whole French possessions.
That they did not do so, under such circum-
stances, must be a wonder to every discrimin-
ating reader of the history of that struggle.

The policy of England was the conquest
of New France, and then the extermination of
the Indians.

English historians, in commenting bitterly on
the conduct of the French, seem perfectly obliv-
ious of the fact, that after England's conquest
of the country, through the valorand enterprise
of the mixed races who inhabited the English
colonies, and who suffered untold miseries and
horrors, on account of the perfidy and incom-
petency of their aristocratic rulers, she next
attempted to subject them to her unjust
demands; and when they resisted her tyran-
nous authority, she set the Indians upon her

own people, in the frontier settlements, even
offering bounties for their scalps.

Having defeated the English and driven in
the frontier settlers, Frontenac next turned his
attention to the Iroquois. La Motte Cadillac,
Governorat Michilimakinac, had, at the head of
the Chippewas, Pottawattamies and Ottawas,
made avigorousresistance to the Iroquois, in the
West, routing them at all points, and driving
their marauding bands out of the country; and
now, that the English had been repulsed, the
French, as victors, were e.xalted in their eyes.
Frontenac, therefore, resolved to pursue his
advantage, and teach them a lasting lesson.
At the head of a large body of French and
Indians, he marched for the country of the
F'ive Nations. He was at this time seventy-
four years of age, but he conducted the army
in person. F'rom Fort Frontenac he proceeded
to Oswego, and ascended the river; arriving at
the rapids, the canoes were carried over the
portage at night by torch-light. The next day
they found the Indian defiance — two bundles
of reeds suspended in a tree — signifying that
fourteen hundred warriors defied them. When
they reached the villages of the Onondagas it
was night. The inhabitants, on their approach,
applied the torch, and the invaders witnessed
the conflagration of the village. The Iroquois
fled in all directions, and the invading army
ravaged the country, destroying the growing
crops and taking many prisoners. The army
then returned to Montreal. The Indians had
been humbled, and left to suffer from the effects
of famine. They were now experiencing
some of the evils they -had so mercilessly
inflicted on their Algonquin neighbors.

By the year 1700, the Five Nations were
glad to seek for peace. They sent envoys to
Montreal, "to weep for the French who had
died in the war, "and a treaty of peace and alli-
ance was concluded.

In 1701 , LaMotte Cadillac, with onehundred
Frenchmen, built a fort and trading-post at
Detroit, and took possession of the beautiful
surrounding country. Two years previous to
this, D'Iberville set sail for the mouth of the
Mississippi, at which place he subsequently
established a colony.

The French were now in the possession of
the country from the St. Lawrence to the Gulf
of Mexico, and the trade with the Northwest,
through the lakes and rivers was uninterrupted.





The Fox River and Lake Winnebago Country — Traders and
Voyageurs— Heautiful Scenery — The Busy Channel of
Aboriginal and Frontier Life, Trade and Travel — Game
and Fur-bearing Animals — Here Occurred the First Inter-
course Between the Indians of the West and the Whites —
Captain Jonathan Carver at Doty Island, in 1766 — Loca-
tion of the Several Indian Nations — The Hostile Sau1<s and
Foxes — Siege of Big Buttes des Morts, by De Louvigny,
in 1716 — Official Account of the Expedition from the
Archives of France — De Lignery's Expedition to the Fox
River, and Lake of the Winnebagoes — Official Documents
from the French Archives, Relative lo Affairs in the Fox

sHE Fo.x River country had now become
the initial point in the traffic and travel
of the Northwest. The traders and
voyageurs were generally mere birds of
passage, leading like the natives a
nomadic life, which was but a slight modifica-
tion of the aboriginal. The whole country
bordering these great water-courses, from
Green Bay to the far-off land of the Dacotahs,
on the one hand, and the Spanish possessions
on the other, was their home. They set out
in their canoes from Green Bay to make voyages
to distant lands, like vessels sailing for foreign
countries, and that place became the great
point of Western travel, and the first perma-
nent habitation of civilized man in the North-

These pioneers, after traveling from Michili-
mackinac, along the dreary coast e.xtending
from the straits to Green Bay, were enamored,
after entering the Lower Fo.x, with the beau-

Online LibraryRichard J HarneyHistory of Winnebago County, Wisconsin, and early history of the Northwest → online text (page 9 of 71)