THE OHIO VALLEY-GREAT LAKES ETHNOHISTORY
ARCHIVES: THE MIAMI COLLECTION
It is noted that the following work from the Miami Archives should be read and considered within the historical context in which it was composed and printed. The opinions expressed and the language used do not reflect the opinions or standards of the Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology, but are, rather, indicative of thought in that historical moment during which the document was published.
Haines, Blanche M., M. D. in: "French and Indian Footprints at Three Rivers on the St. Joseph," Michigan Pioneer and Hist. Colls., Vol. 38, pp. 394-396.
The Jesuit Father Allouez who had the Miamis and Potawatamies of Green Bay in his mission there,21 and who had a way of following up his converts and also following La Salle came to his Miamis on the St. Joseph in 1679. He labored among the Indians there until his death which is said to have occurred at Fort St. Josephs in 1690.22
At the time of La Salle's overland trip across Michigan, the region about the St. Joe was debatable ground claimed by several warring tribes. Shortly before this the Potawatamies had been driven out of the country and they and the Miamis had clustered about Green Bay. The Miamis had returned to the lower St. Joseph in 1679, and La Salle found a large village of them at the portage at South Bend in 1681.23 The Potawatamies with a few Sacs returned to the St. Joseph about 1708 to 1711.24 Not far from that date the Miamis moved to the Maumee and Miami rivers leaving the Potawatamies along the St. Joe.
Fort Miami was destroyed in July, 1680, by some of La Salle's disaffected followers, but was restored the same year by his men under La Forest.25 Fort St. Joseph's was built not long afterward, about 1690, near Niles, Michigan.26 This fort, Charlevoix described in 1721,27 with a village of Miami Indians on the east side of the river and a village of Potawatamies on the west side of the river.28 Fort St. Joseph's was occupied, as a military post, until its capture in the Pontiac conspiracy in 1763.29 The attendant coming and going, travel and relations with the Indians, and trade through its trading post continued until the destruction of the fort by the Spaniards of St. Louis during the Revolution. In the meantime, it successively passed into the hands of the British at the close of the French and Indian war in 1759, into the hands of the Potawatamies after the conspiracy of Pontiac in (page 395) 1763, back to the British two years later. Post St. Joseph remained, under these various administrations, the distributing point of Indian merchandise for the St. Joseph River and was under the management of the post at Michillimackinac and so remained until the evacuation of this country by the British, although Cadillac, shortly after founding Detroit in 1701, invited the Potawatamies to settle around Detroit. Friendly relations and trade continued between the Potawatamies of the St. Joseph River and the post at Detroit until, in the time of Commandant Sinclair of Mackinac, it became a subject of complaint to Governor Haldimand at Quebec, that the trade with Detroit was an encroachment upon the grants of privilege to Mackinac. Major De Peyster, Sinclair's predecessor at Mackinac, had been transferred to Detroit, and in reply to the complaint of Sinclair, wrote an explanatory and apologetic letter to Haldimand, stating that the Potawatamies of the St. Joseph came to Detroit, because it was nearer, and because they had known him before at Michillimackinac.30 In 1762, the post of St. Joseph was paying an annual rental to Michillimackinac for the privilege of trading, of 3,000 livres or about $600.31
Much of the trade of St. Joseph River and Fort St. Joseph from 1745 to 1780 passed through the management of Louis Chevalier, merchant at St. Joseph's and Indian agent of the commandants at Michlimackinac. No one knew better the Potatwatamies of the St. Joseph River nor has left a clearer picture of the Indians of that time than did this French gentleman, who served under two kings, and two flags, the French and the English, and who lived there almost up to the time of Spain's32 capture of the fort and American possession of this soil. In 1780, he was ordered, by Lieutenant Governor Sinclair to leave the post at St. Joseph and proceed with the inhabitants of St. Joseph to Michillimackinac.33
About that time, (1780) or possibly a little before, a new trader and merchant came to the mouth of the St. Joseph, now the city of St. Joseph and controlled much of the trade of the St. Joseph River. This was William Burnett34 of New Jersey, an American. Burnett, also, was obliged to pay tribute to Mackinac, until the victories of the Revolution gave him courage to disregard their authority. About the time Burnett settled at the mouth of the river, Joseph Bertrand35 and one Le Clare, Frenchmen, came to Bertrand near Niles. It is thought, (page 396) that, they were employed by Burnett in the trade of the region. William Burnett married a sister of Topinbee, a chief of the Potawatamies, and Joseph Bertrand married Topinbee's daughter, which doubtless had something to do with their relations. Burnett was, also, associated in a business way with such men as John Kinzie, James May and Jean Baptiste Point Au Sable. With his son and successor Isaac Burnett, the names of Jean Baptiste Chardront and B. Ducharme are associated.
It is impossible to say at this time, whether the trinkets, found on the Indian dead at Three Rivers, came to us through the agents of Louis Chevalier of old Post St. Joseph, or through the agents of William Burnett or Joseph Bertrand or possibly through the post at Detroit which our St. Joseph Indians were wont to visit. Probably many posts furnished treasures to deck those roving braves in all their splendor.
Among the Bouquet papers,36 is an order from Pierre Franois Vaudreuil, Montreal, under date of Feb. 9, 1760, saying: "You will send copies of all my letters to St. Joseph and the posts near, supposing that there remain some soldiers there in order that the inhabitants may conform to it." That Three Rivers was one of the "post near" is very probable. It is also probable that the wide knowledge of Louis Chevalier of the Indian character and movements was not gained without the medium of sub-agents and sub-trading posts and that, in his time, an active trade was carried on at Three Rivers with the Potawatamies.
Chevalier in 1779,37 says "The Potawatamies are divided into six villages, fifteen to twenty miles apart, each village having its own chief." Three Rivers no doubt was one of these villages.
The old Indian burying ground in Three Rivers is
not the only evidence of the aboriginal population. Several farms, along the
St. Joseph and Rocky rivers, in the vicinity are rich in Indian treasures,
flints, battle-axes of stone and other Indian objects. A branch of the Rocky
River the outlet of Pleasant Lake is one of a chain of lakes some seventy feet
above the St. Joseph River, flows rapidly down to join the Rocky River near the
city limits. This stream is not more than three or four miles long and it takes
its descent quickly. Not far from this little stream is an old sand-pit, rich in
arrowheads. Near its confluence with the Rocky is another field which has
yielded many flints, battle-axes and pipes. South of Three Rivers on the St.
Joe are two such fields. This series of Indian haunts, shown by localities
where flints abound attests the popularity of these streams with the Indians,
and suggests that more than one village of Indians was located in this
21 Francis Parkman's- La Salle. Page 34. "The Potawatamies and Winnebagoes were near the borders of the bay." "The Miamis on the same river above Lake Winnebago." "The Miamis soon removed to the banks of the river St. Joseph, near Lake Michigan."
22 Judge Orville W. Coolidge; History of Berrien County.- "According to tradition Father Allouez died at this mission (St. Josephs) in 1690."
23 Bartlett and Lyon- La Salle and the valley of the St. Joseph. "It does, indeed seem not unlikely that Allouez, who was with the Miami Indians in 1672, should have followed them from their Wisconsin home when they emigrated to this valley." "He was certainly here at a later date, devoting the closing years of his life to the work of the mission on the St. Joseph where he died in 1690."
24 Parkman's- La Salle. Page 267. Mich. Pion. and Hist. Colls. Vol. XXX. Memorandum of Marquis de Vaudreuil. Date 10th March 1711. "Potawatamies and other savages settled on the St. Joseph River."
25 Parkman's- La Salle. Page 185.
26 Mich. Pion. and Hist. Colls., Vol. XXVIII, page 179. L. H. Beeson- Fort St. Joseph.
27 Judge Orville W. Coolidge- Berrien County History. "Both (Miamis and Potawatamies) are for the greater part Christians, but have been a long time without pastors." Quotation from letter of Charlevoix, date 1721.
28 In 1712, Father Marest, says: "The mission at St. Joseph among the Potawatamies is in a flourishing condition second only to Michillimackinac."
29 Parkman. The Pontiac conspiracy. Vol. I, page 273. Mich. Pion. and Hist. Colls., Vol. XXX, page 556, Cadillac Papers.
30 Mich. Pion. and Hist. Coll., Vol. IX.
31 Mich. Pion. and Hist. Colls., Vol. XIX, page 21.
32 See Mich. Pion. and Hist. Colls., Vol. XXVIII, p. 184 and Vol. V, p. 550 this series.
33 Mich. Pion. and Hist. Colls., Vol. X.
34 Judge Orville W. Coolidge- Berrien County History, also Mich. Pion. and Hist. Colls., Vol. XXX, p. 85.- William Burnett by Edward S. Kelley.
35 Joseph Bertrand founded the village of Bertrand, now extinct. See Vol. XXVIII, p. 128 this series.
36 Mich. Pion. and Hist. Colls., Vol. XIX, p. 29.
37 Mich. Pion. and Hist. Colls., Vol. XIX, p. 375.
to TOC, p. 23
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