State Historical Society of Wisconsin cn.

Collections - State Historical Society of Wisconsin (Volume 10) online

. (page 22 of 58)
Online LibraryState Historical Society of Wisconsin cnCollections - State Historical Society of Wisconsin (Volume 10) → online text (page 22 of 58)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

dinrtly. an.l .,iren,| the Cireat Spirit, they had been lon.^
enough w,th the white man to know how to ■■ whip ih.. d.-vH
aronn.l the stump." They, therefor., ,.,l,| je,s,e W Shall
wlH. had long been an In.lian trader, if he would go with'
them to the top of what is n„w Berry's Hill, overh.okiug the
country t., the north an.i east, they w.,ul.l sh.,ot arrows in a

OoL. IflJXKV (illATIOT. 'Mo

certain direction, wliieh, if followed up, wouM i-i voal their
great secret.

Shiill followed up the lead, and i)ut up a cabin near the
place where the Indians had found the mineral, and coni-
nienced prospecting for himself fen- lead oie. Ihit the In-
dians soon drove him olf, and soon after this llu; (iiatiot
brothers, availing thems(dvc!s of a fiiendly halfdirecd AVin-
nebago woman, Catherine 3*1 yott, negotiated with the lu-
dians for the right to dig I'or mineral or load ore in their
lands, they i)aying tlierefor a large; amount of goods and
supplies. And thus was the discovery maile and utilized of
the celebrated Shullsburgh nnnes, which have first i\nd last
yielded a vast amount of wealth.

From the dearth <jf tind)e'r in the immediate \'icinity of
Fevre rivej', the ]\Iessrs. (Iratiot soon found out that smelt-
ing could not be made profitable where tliey had established
their lirst furnace. The process of smedting lead ore at that
time was very crude, being but a slight improvement on the
Indian mode of smelting by a logfuriuice or an ash furnace.
These simi)le modes were succeeded by the '* Drunnnond
furnace," or " cupola furnace," a most valuable invention,
made by llobert A. Drummond, of Joe-l)aviess County, 111.
The log furnaces could only be used where there was an
abundance of timber. Having obtained the right to nnne
on the Winnebago lands, j\Ir. J. P. B. firatiot, procured to be
made an authentic survey thereof, and the location was
thereafter for many years known as ''Gratiot's Survey."

The brothers then deternuned to abandon their smelting
operations at Fevre river, and commence them in a mag-
nificent grove of timber, which from that time to this has
been known as *" Gratiot's Grove." On the prairie inunedi-
ately adjoining the grove, they connnenced building houses
for their fandlies, domestics, and workmen. The facilities
for smelting soon became so great, that a large part of all
the ore raised in the i\Iines was Ijrought there t(j be smedted.
James Bennett, an old settler of the Lead-Mines and of Joe
Daviess County, and who was the proprietor of the old All-
anwrath Diggings, a few miles from Galena, once told me
that he hauled all his mineral to (Jratiot's Grove to be

34G Wisconsin State HiSToiiU'Ar. Society.

smelted. Takinj< a load there on one occasion, he says ho
i'ound nine sineliinj^ furnaces ninninj^, and that lu- had to
wait nearly all day fur his turn to cuaie to have his load of
mineral wei<;hed. A season of |)i-os]>.'iily follow.Ml. and
there became a settlement of some one thousand live hun-
dred people. This was hefore ShuUsUui'^h had an exist-

At this time, Gratiot's Grove was considered to he in Illi-
nois, and outside of Galena, the most imi)ortant point in the
Fevre-river I.ead Mines. Strange.s visiiing (Jalena were
not satistied without having visited (iratiot's Grove. And
to illustrate the changes in the country, it may he stateil that
this settlement, once so full of life, l),isiness, and animation,
has utterly disappeared, and is hardly more than a
single farm-house on the original site. From the time of
the first settlement of Gratiofs Grove till the breaking out
of the Black Hawk war, the litthi village was the seat of
happiness, prosi)erity, and a genuine hospitality. The
natural situation was most lovely. The peoi>le were all con-
genial, living very near together, and their enjoynn'uts,
trials, and privations were all in common. Tiie wife i>f ^Ir.
J. P. B. Gratiot was a French lady of the highest education,
and wonderful accomplishments. All her family were
driven from France by the storms of the Revolution. Her
mother was a lady-in-waiting to Queen Marie Antoinettes

It is quite a translation from the court of Luuis XVI. to
(a-atiofs (Jrove; but she met all the changes with content-
ment, and in the most admirable spirit. Though brought
up in France, and with a French education, she ac(pnred in
the course of her life a wonderful knowledge of the Englibh
language, and wrote it with a beauty and simplicity rarely
equaled. A short time before her death, but a few years
ago, she wrote a sketch of iheFevre river Lead Mine.^ ami c.f
G^i-atiot's Grove, from J.S-iO to 1811, which is of marvalous in-
terest and beauty. In speaking of G ratiot's Grove, the tirst
time she ever saw it, in 1827, she says: "xVever in all my
wanderings had I beheld a more delightful prospect: the
beautiful rolling prairies extending to the Blue I^Iounds, a
distance of thirty miles, and the rnagniticent grove, as yet

!■, " i'! « a


Col. Henuy CiitATioT. "U:

untouched by the reUing-axe, tormin^^ a graceful i'ranie to
the lovely landscape." Thi.s (hv^cription recalls to my own
mind the tiistlinie 1 ever saw { a-aliol'sCJrove, in the Suninier
of 1S41, and tlie beauty of that whole country made an \\n-
pressiuu on my mind which time ean never elTace.

Mrs. Gratiot describes the life at tlu; (irc^ve with the most
charming nmrcte: '-Ours;' she says, -was a happy life. AVe
were, as it may be, camping uiit. We made the most
of it, and were full of life aiul enjoyn.ent. We had many
visiting us, strangers as well as friends, and all wrre wt;l-
come. and to whom we olTered a pallet and a meal muler a
shade of green l)Oughs." '' ='• '■ "Our families enjoyed almost
uninterupted hai)piness and prosi)erity. The old chiys at the
(Jrove can never be forgotten, (iay surprise parties in the
Winter would come to the (jlrove with jingling sleigh-bells
to have a dance, and in return we enjt.y^'^l going to pleasure-
parties in CJalena." Ihit sometimes deep shadows fell across
their paths. She speaks of her sister in-law, Mrs. Henry
Gratiot, who often found herself alone with her chihh-eii,
wlieii her husband was necessarily absent, ami then she adds,
"that to the greatest gentleness and fortitude she joined the
courage of a heroine: a most devoted wife, an affectionate
mother, and kind friend, she was beloved and honored by all."
The breaking out of the Black Hawk war brought alarm
and uidnnpiness to this peaceful village. In speaking of
that c^ent, Mrs. Gratiot says: "Up to this time
(isa;^(, our dwellings had been completed, and we were sur-
rouu.'ed with many comforts, and in our light-heartedness,
never dreamed of the storm gathering over our heads. On
the -tth of July I claimed the i)rivilege of entertaining our
friends at dinner; the table was set, the guests assembled.
Ours were primitive accominodations. 1 was carrying a
large bowl of custard to tlie table, Mrs. Henry (h-atiot was
assisting me carrying something, when we saw four tall
Indians, with guns in their hands, coming to l\vi
house. I was so taken by surprise thai the bowl fell from
my hands, to the great dismay of the children. I ran m to
apprise the gentlemen. The Indians gravely entered, and
we were quite relieved when we saw our visitors stack their

248 Wisconsin State IIisTomcAL Sociicty.

guns and accept a sliai'o of our dinner; but all ai)itetite and
j(jyou.sness had iled.""

An interi)reler was sent for, and it was found that these
unlooked-for Nibitors fi-ieuilly Winnebago chiefs, who
in their friendslii}) for the (iratiots, had conni to warn tlimn
that on account of the encroachments of the wliites in their
te]-ritory, they couKl no longer restrain their young nu-n
fi-oni making war. Tliey said they did not want to liurt
them, but wanted to advise them to I'emove thu'ir women
and children. Tliis was an a Imoaitiiju to bj he > l;j 1. 'i'iie
news spread like wild-iiro, and all was terror and confusion.
Ail the women and children weie seiit to (udena. .Mrs.
Gratiot says: " We made our preparations to leave with
heavy hearts, leaving our husbands to tiie dangers of Indian
warfare," and she continues sadly, " when the teams dri)ve
uu to take us away, we left our homes with mariy tears."

]\Iany others besid(;s ^Irs. (Iratiot have written of (li-a-
tiot's Grove, tlie ex(iuisite beauty of its loeation, its beautiful
.climate, and the cliaracter of its society. Mr. Caleb At-
water, who was one of the Gommissioners who negotiated
the treaties for the ])urcluise of Indian lands at Prairie du
Chien in IH'tU, visited (iratiot's Grove in the Fall of that
year. In a volume i)ublish(;d by him in l.s;]l, he speaks of
Gratiot's (iroveas follows:

'•About twenty families reside in this secluded grove.
Among the interesting people here are Mrs. Henry Gratiot,
who was born and educated in New London, Conn.; i\Irs. J.
P. 1). Gratiot, who was born and educated in Paris; Mrs.
John R. Goonce, who is a daughter of the celebrated En-
lish botanist, John Bradbury, and who was b)rn and edu-
cated in London. They all live within a few rods of each
other. "■'• * 'Jdiere is a post-odice hero, aiid mail

passes through the i)lace once a week, to and from ( ialemi.
j\Ir. Gratiot has large lead-furnaces here, and there is a dry
goods store, but no doggery in the village."

A roving contributor of the N. Y. Tribanc, in July, ISll.
writing from Gratiofs Grove, thus describes that locality, as
it appeared to him at that time:

Col. Henky (Iratiot. 240

* * * " Tis u gooiHy sight to see

What Heaven has done I'or this delicious laud."'

"This lovely ami romantic .sptjt is situated in the south-
western part of Wisconsin. It is very near tlie dividinj^
line hetween Illinois and Wisconsin, and ahout twenty
miles east from the Mississippi river. Galena, Illinois, the
depot of the Upper ]\rississi[)pi l^yad jVEincs, and a plaee of
great husiness and activity, is ahout lifteen miles in a direc-
tion a little south of west, fro]n that part of the Grove where
I write. Tiie first settlement made here of white; men ^vas
in 1820 — the whole conntr}' around here was then in posses-
sion of Winnehago Indians. At that early period, the In-
dians had made discoveries of lead or(^, and had made some
progress. in smelting it in a rude way. Col. Henry Gratiot,
an enterprising frontier-man, and a hrother of (ien. ({ratiot,
of the U. S. Kngineer Corps, was the first settler, and hence
the name of Tiratiot's Grove. In all my travels in the West,
I havo not seen a section of country comhining so many
advantages with so much mineral and agricultural wealth,
and so well watered and timbered, as the countr}' around
Gratiot's Grove. Nature never spread out a fairer and
nobler field for the enterprising genius of hian. The great
natural beauty of the country, with its shady groves, its
high rolling prairies, and its rippling streams; the fertility
of the soil, the richness of the mines and the salubrity of
of the climate, cannot be surpassed."

To us who live in these " piping times of i)eace," strangers
to internecine commotion, and undisturbed by war, it is
hardly i)ossible to realize that little more than half a century
ago, in what is now your beautiful and peaceful county of
liafayette, women and children were fleeing from the tom-
ahawk and the scalping-knife. It is well for us in our busy
and active lives to pause in the presence of such ahist(»ry, aiul
pay a respectful tribute to the memory of those of your
early settlers who, amid so many dangers and privations,
helped to lay the foundations of your noble State.

There never was a white man in his time, or any other
time, that had so murh influence over the- Indians of the
17-H. C.

250 Wisconsin State Historical Society.

North-West as Col. (Jiratiot. His knowledge of the liulian
character, ohtaiiied by him while in St. Louis, through his
brothers-in-law, Pierre Chouteau, Jr., and John P. Cabanne,
both controlling spirits in the American Fur Company^
taught him that to obtain consideration and influence with
the Indians, it was necessary for him to deal with them with
kindness and good faith, and never to praetice on them any
•deceit. Let an Indian be once knowingly deceived by a
white man, confidence was gone, and never to be regained.
Always dealing honorably ami frankly with the Lidians,
treating them with the utmost kindness, and vigilantly
guarding himself and all about hiin against the least decep-
tion, even in the smallest matters. Col. Gratiot obtained an
almost unbounded control and influence over them, particu-
larly the Winnebago tribe, which in his time claimed all the
country in what is now South-Western Wisconsin and
North-Western Illinois.

Col. Hercules L. Dousman,so well known to all your early
settlers, as connected with the American Fur Company, and
so long the manager of its vast trading establishment at
Prairie du Chien, and as a business man without an eciual
during his day and generation in the North-West, once told
me, that in dealing with the Indians what they had to guard
against with the greatest vigilance, was to avoid any pos-
sible deception when d(ialing with them. If by any acci-
dent or mistake a blanket or a gun, or any other article,
which was not up to the standard was sold to an Indian, the
utmost pains would be taken to exchange the faulty article,
and replace it by the most perfect one at the earliest mo-
ment, without regard to trouble or expense. And such was
always the rule of the American Fur Company in all of its
colossal transactions with tlie Indians over half a continent,
and it was that which enabled it, during its entire existence,
to hold such a control over the Indian tribes.

The two most important Indian treaties ever concluded m
the then North-W\^st, was th(i treaty coneluded with the
Chippewas, Ottawas, and Pottawatomios, executed July 27,
182'J; and the treaty with the Winnebagoes, executed
Au<nist 1, lS;il). These treaties were negotiated with the

,•> I')

Col. Henry Gratiot. ^>o1

various tribes of Indians at Prairio ilu Chien. The Commis-
sioners were Gen. John McNeil, an otlicer of the United
States Army, Pierre Menard, ex-Lieut. Governor of Illinois,
and Caleb Atwater, a weak antl inoffensive old man from
Ohio, Charles S. Hempstead, for many years, my law
partner at Galena, was the Secretary of the Coniinission.
The country purchased was of vast importance, embracing
the region from Rock Island to the Wisconsin river on the
north, and to Lake Michigan on the east, and taking in all
that is now in Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin,
and, in fact, making the United States the possessor of all
the Indian country from tlu^ (iiilf of .Alrxi^-o to tlio iiu)iith
of the Wisconsin Kiver.

The first person in civil life to whom tlie attention of the
Connnifesioners and others interested in making a treaty
was directed was Col. Gratiot, as a man having more; in-
iliience with the Indians than any other in securing the
object sought for. The high estimation in wliicn ho was
held by the Winnebag(jes, brought to him tiie conlidunce of
the other tribes, who eagerly sought his advice and sugges-
tions. Of such value were the services of Col. (iratiot in
negotiating the troaty, the Secretary of the Commission
wrote: '^ Col. I^jiratiot is very busy, and if a treaty bo made
with tlie Wiunobagoes, the Government may mainly thank
him for it."

From the friendly relations existing between the Indians
and Col. Gratiot, he had been emibled to exercise a groat in-
fluence in arranging the Indian troubles of 1827-8; but it
was not till the Black Hawk war broke out in 1«;32 (which
drew the Winnebagoes into its vortex), that his full influ-
ence was felt. In the annals of those times, few names
more frequently appear than that of Col. ({ratiot, and no
man throughout the whole trouble accomi»lished more than
he. The position he held as agent for the AVinnobagoes,
and the friendly relations that liad existed betwe(-n him and
the principal chiefs of the tribe, was evidenced by the fact
that I have stated, that the chiefs had come to his house at
•Gratiot's Grove to advise him that war was to be doclared,
and to remove the women and children.

I i. ; '■■■/. •. '

.11' ■' I


Wisconsin State Historical Society

The most important and dangerous mission conlided to
Col. Gratiot was the one with which he was intrusted hy
Gen. Atkinson, who was in command of all the force em-
ployed against the Indians at the time. He deemed it im-
portant that an effort for some accommodation with tlie
Indians should be made through the Trophet, wlio was the
right arm of Bkick Hawk. To that end he liad recourse to the
good otiices of Col. ( Jratiot as the only man who would dare to
undertake the mission. Gen. Atkinson prepvaed a letter to
the hostile chief to be taken to the I'rophet by his commis-
sioner, Col. CJratiot. The village of the I'rophet was situ-
ated on tlie beautiful Rock River in what is now AVhiteside
County, HI. There is now on the site of the Prophet's vil-
lage a 'beautiful and nourishing little town, bearing the
name of " Rropliet's Town." I had in my i)Ossession, when
in Paris, an original ])ainting of tlie Proi)het, by Catliii. I
had rei)resented Whiteside County in Congress for six years,
and had there many valued friends. It occurred to me that
a copy of this painting would be considered by the people
of Whiteside county a valuable and interesting souvenir of
the great chief whose home had, in by-gone days, so long
been in their county. 1 therefore had recourse to the gifted
pencil of Healy to make a copy to present to Whiteside
County. That being accomplished in the most admirable
manner, I made the presentation, accompanied by an ad-
dress, at Morrison, the county-seat, in the fall of 1878, and
as connected with Col. Gratiot, I venture to embrace in this
paper what I said of this incident :

" It was the circumstance of the good relations and the
high respect in which' Col. CJratiot was held by all the Indian
tribes of the North-West, that after the breaking out of the
war, he was deputy by the military authorities to visit the
Proi.het at his village, Prophet's Town, in the interest of
peace, and with a view to some accommodation that might
spare 'the inhabitants the horrors of a warfare with savages.
He bore a letter from Gen. Atkinson, who was in conunand
at Fort Armstrong. This was an important though danger-
ous mission. Ccd. Gratiot took with him his Secretary and
several Winnebago chiefs, all his fast friends, and all on

.••', ( ' M.-l- '\.:.

Col. Henry Gratiot. 253

good terms with the whites of the country in that time of
so much ])eri!. It is interesting to know who they were.
Tliere was J^roken tShoulder, an Indian of stalwart frame,
great intelHgence, courage, and sohriety. He had previously
been an enemy of the whites, and lui was shot in the shoul-
der while' scalping a white-man at Fort Edwards, near
Warsaw, 111, Hence his name. Broken Shoulder. Whirling
Thunder was a man of great re])ute for his sagacity and
wisdom in council. White Crow was an Indian of bad
cluxracter, tall, slim, with a hawk nose, and with as much of
a sinister look as a man could have who had only one eye,
for one of his eyes had been put out in a brawl. He was
addicted to gambling, fighting, drinking, and other disrep-
utable practices. Little Medicince Man was a fine-looking
man, rather under ordinary size, quiet, subdued, gentle-
manly. Little Priest was one of the most reputable of all
the chiefs, able, discreet, wise, and moderate, and always
sincerely friendly to the whites. The party took their canoes
at Dixon's ferry, and descended Rock river to the Prophet's
Village. No sooner had the canoes landed than the Indians
surrounded the party with every demonstration of violence,
and made all of them prisoners. At the moment of the
seizing of Col. Gratiot, the Prophet ajjpeared on the scene.
Seeing his old friend in danger, he rushed upon his peoi)le,
and interfered in his defense, crying out: "Good man, good
man, my friend. I take him to my wigwam; I feed him;
he be good friend of my Indians." Col. Gratiot being con-
nected with the Chouteaus of St. Louis, the founders of the
American Fur company, which vast concern wielded an
immense influence among the Indian tribes, both east and
west of the Mississippi, was called by the Indians 'Clioutean.'
Arriving as a prisoner at the wigwam, the Prophet said to
him, that if he came as 'Chouteau' he should welcome him
to his village; but if he came as a white man he must con-
sider him, like all the whites, an enemy, and detain all the
party as prisoners. Col. Gratiot explained to the Prophet
the peaceful object of his mission, which was in the interest
of all the Indians, and how great would be the perfidy if he
and his party should be detained or harmed. The situation


25:1: Wisconsin State Historical Society.

of the Prophet was very embarrassing. He wanted to save
his friend, but the young men and vrarriors who were bu-
liind him were clamoring for tlie scalps of the prisoners,
and would never consent to theii- departure. After keeping
the prisoners two or three days, the Prophet, uneasy, rest-
less, and disturbed by conflicting emotions, finally said to
Col. Gratiot: ''Oiiouteau, you have always been my fi'iend,
and the friend of my people, and you and your party must
not be harmed; but there is great trouble, my young men
will never consent to give you up, and so you nuist leave
without their knowledge; your canoes arc on shore: go to
them at a moment when 1 shall indicate, and leave instantly,
and go with all speed, like wild-fire, for the young men will
give you chase. All will depend on the strength of your
good right arms.'

"The Prophet was right. Hardly had they reached their
canoes when the alarm was given, ami all tlie young men of
the village raised the war-cry, rushed to their canoes to fol-
low the i)rey about to escape them, and never beforo, nor
since, have the placid waters of Ixock river been the theati-e
of such an exciting contest. It was litei'aliy a race for life.
A scoi'e of young and matldened warriors Avere in i)ursuit,
amid shouts and cries and imj)recations. l>ut a sense of the
overwhelming danger nerved the arms of the pursued, for
to be taken was certain death to all. And the jjursuit con-
tinued with cheers and savage yells through long and dreary
hours. Silence fell at last u})on the pursuers. In the still-
ness of the night no sound was heard, except the (juick and
regular stroke of the paddle, wielded Vv-ith gigantic strength..
Sullen, resolute, determined, nothing could divert the atten-
tion of these red num of our prairies, who gave no heed to
anything but the vital matter in hand. The race was at last
to the swift, and victory to the strong. As daylight appeared,
the shores of the river reve:iled to the exhausted party, that
they had passed the ])oint of danger, and wert' within the
limits of the white stittlements. Doggedly, silentl}', the
warriors gave up the chase, and the pursued were in a short
time safely landed at Rock Island.

'■'I have these relations from the sons of "Col. (iratiot —

Col. Hkn'ky Gratiot. 'i:>r>

Col. Charles H. Gratiot, of Gratiot, AVis., and Lieut. Col.
Edward H, Gratiot, of Plattevillc, Wis., who had often heard
their father recount the story of his dangerous mission. It
was the Proi)het who, on this occasion, jirotected from vio-
lence and i)robably saved the life of Col. Gratiot, who was

j tlie honored father of ]\Irs. AVashburno. In this fact so inter-

esting to me, I am sure all the jteople of AVhiteside county

I will readily see another reason for my interest in tho

! Prophet."

! But Col. Gratiot became better known to the public

' throngh his successful eiforts in rescuing two young girls

from a horrible captivity. The most shocking event during
all the lUack Hawk war, and one which bathed in tears
ever>^ mother in the North-AVest, was the cold-blooded
murder of the Hall family on Indian creek, in what is now
La Salle county, Illinois. A party of Sac and Fox and Pot-
awatomie Indians suddenly ajiitaared at the peaceful resi-
dence of ]\Ir. Hall, lAIay 'il,' l^o->; without warning, tlu^y lirst
killed a neighbor who was at the hous(>.and then inliumauly
murdered and mutilatetl Air. and Airs. Hall, and all the
family then at home, exce|)u two y(Hing girls, who were
taken i)risoners, and carried oil by the Indians. Tliis event

Online LibraryState Historical Society of Wisconsin cnCollections - State Historical Society of Wisconsin (Volume 10) → online text (page 22 of 58)