KALAMAZOO COUNTY, MI
GENEALOGY & LOCAL HISTORY
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Galesburg 1915, Oxen Pat & Mike with Frank Martin
REMINISCENCES OF KALAMAZOO
( 1832 - 1833 )
BY JESSE TURNER OF KALAMAZOO.
Memories of Indians, settlers and traders in Kalamazoo County from 1832 - 1833 by Jesse Turner, an Alamo Township pioneer, a builder of mills in early Kalamazoo County.
Written by W. H. Woodhams and published in the Kalamazoo Telegraph in 1883, furnished by A. D. P. Van Buren. Michigan Pioneer Collections
|1832||An Indian Princess|
|1833||Indian Trails Became Main Roads|
|Indian Burials||Muskrats And Mean Whites|
|Indian Devotional Dance||About Snakes|
|Recollet, The Trader||Primitive Kalamazoo - The Mound|
|Titus And Sally Bronson||Clipknockie And River Navigation|
|Bertrams Plain||The First Marriage in Kalamazoo|
|Face Of The Country Wolves||An Ague Chill In The Woods|
|Grabbing A Bear||The Old Trading Post|
|A Night Walk To Pine Creek||Treed By Wolves|
|THhe First Store In Kalamazoo||Election Days|
Mr. Jesse Turner, who has now attained the venerable age of 84 years, has given some of his recollections of early days in Kalamazoo to Mr. W. H. Woodhams, who has written them out for the Telegraph:
In August, 1832, I arrived at the settlement of Bronson, having come via Buffalo, the lake and Detroit. The inhabitants here were Titus Bronson, Hosea B. Huston, Anthony Cooley, Marcus B. Hounsom, Cyren Burdick, Stephen Vickery, and Nathan Harrison, who worked the ferry across the Kalamazoo where upper bridge now stands. I surveyed the Arcadia Creek for Anthony Cooley, who put up a shop where the factory stands so long occupied by Amos Knerr. The flats along the Arcadia creek were all covered by tall hazel brush, and the Indian trail was along what is now Main street, passing off to the north beyond the U. S. land office, so as to cross the river at the ford near the old trading post, the site now occupied by the Riverside cemetery.
One day some of us were standing in front of the clerks office and heard a whooping down the trail; looking that way we saw an Indian coming like a buck up the trail running and every few rods giving a bound high above the hazel brush with a whoop at every jump. He stopped when he reached us and asked for whisky, said he was poking round a stump when a massasauga (rattlesnake) sprang up and bit another Indians bare breast. He wanted whisky to make him strong to run to Grand Prairie to get weeds to cure the snakebite. Vickery got him a big drink of whisky, telling him to stop on his way back for more, for we wanted to see the weed. He ran off toward Grand Prairie and in a wonderfully short time came back with a handful of weedswhich I knew very well and think I should know todaygot another drink of whisky and ran off to his wigwam to pound up the weeds into a poultice to apply to the snake bite. The bitten Indian got well.
The old Indian known here as the Indian doctor had died just before I got here, and his. corpse was sitting up against a tree with a three cornered pen around it, a few rods from the trading post, his gun lay in the pen with him, and it was often borrowed from its owner for a days hunt, and payment made for the loan by leaving a little tobacco with the corpse. The squaw of this Indian doctor afterward married a white man who had lived with the Indians every since he was four years old and was as perfect an Indian in all but color as any of them. His name was Johnson and he was said to be a cousin of Richard M. Johnson of Kentucky. The chief of the Pottawattamies was called Kopmosee. He was a youngish, smart, bright Indian. Rix Robinson used to let him have goods to trade to the Indians for furs.
Quite a number of Indians looked on when we raised the Hill tavern at Comstock, but only one of them dared to take hold and help us raise for fear of the timbers falling on them, hut one called Cnippewa took hold like a good fellow.
While I was building a mill for Lyman Earl, some Indians came up the river in a birch bark canoe that was really elegant, an Indian at each end could carry it anywhere, twas so light, and it would carry seven or eight of them. They speared a large sturgeon in the river there with a wooden spear, hung it up by the tail whole, and roasted it, and soon ate it up. They would get dreadfully mad and their eyes would snap when anything was said about their going west.
I bought a fraction on the river south of Toland Prairie, near Hugh Shafters. Twas a great camping ground for the Indians, and they had a pack of dogs that seemed like half wolves, and would catch hogs or chickens, or anything they came across. We used to think they might tackle a man if they met him alone. These dogs were always led by a big white one. I told Mr. Earl Id shoot that white dog the first chance I got, for he was the leader in all their mischief. He said, Dont do it, twill make the Indians awful mad, they think a heap of that dog. I said Ill shoot him the first chance I get. One night they had a wedding and lots of whisky; they were yelling like all possessed, but I heard a hog squeal in the woods, took my gun and went out, let strip, and the white dog went down; I was a little scared, but broke a hole in the ice on the river, poked dog under; that night it snowed and put out all tracks so the Indians never knew what became of the white dog.
They used bow and arrows very commonly, their arrows were made with hardened points greased and burnt, generally of hickory. They had a very pretty game for practicing their bow and arrows; they would make a smooth bed of clay three rods long and about four feet wide tramped as smooth as a billiard table, they had a hoop or section of a cylinder made of willow basket work wound very hard, about five inches across with a three inch bole in the center: One took the hoop and stood at one end of the bed, the other would form a line along the side of the bed, the boys graded according to size, the smallest nearest the roller and standing eight to ten feet off, the men would stand back thirty feet or more, and when the hoop rolled up the smooth bed the arrows would fly clip, clip, all along the line. Ive seen them shoot at this rolling hoop many a Sunday all day long; they had a bed on the other side of the river, just above Winslows island.
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In the spring of 1833, there was about one hundred Indians on the bottom land by Winslows island; they got whisky enough for a big spree; two or three kept sober to hide the weapons, and then I saw for the first time Indians laying on their backs too drunk to raise a cup to their lips. The squaws would fill their mouth with the whisky and squirt it into the mouth of the drunken Indian.
In June 1833, the Indians went off on a trip across the State to Malden, in Canada, to get their last payment from the British government for help in the war of 1812. I started with an ox team some days after to get goods for myself and Burnet. I passed where they had got into a fight among themselves and buried one of their number in a bank. But they did not bury him so deep but that the wolves had got him by the heels and dragged him out, and left nothing but hones scattered around the deserted camp.
Working near Battle Creek, I had John McAllister, Roswell Aldrich Ira McAllister, Zekiel Lee and two colored men, one a big fellow known as Black John, at work for me. The Indians were to have a big dance after their return from Maiden one evening, and the boys said they would go and see the fun. The Indians didnt want the boys around at their powwow.
I had stayed back to do some writing, and I heard a gun crack, and in a few minutes the white boys came back on the run, saying they had been shot at. Presently Black John and his mate came in and said that Koppayah, son to old chief Tuckaman, the same who fired to scare the others off, had attacked them. John grabbed a stake that held up a wigwam and with one crank broke Koppayahs arm and got away.
The next morning the darkeys had gone after the cattle, when Tuckaman with 70 Indians, all rigged up in their war paint came up to our place and Tuckman, asking for Chi-mo-ki-mon chief the boys pointed me out. He said Kutaweoss (the darkey) break um arm Koppay-ah, Chimocamon give um Mishwapetuck mo-quay ($20 in silver) before sun so high (about noon.). By this time Black John and the other had come back with the cattle By zucks, said Black John, I kin kill the hull of em. It looked a little squally, seven of us, not another white man near for miles, but we had a rifle apiece, and I told Tuckaman We wont go away, and we wont pay twenty dollars, and if you say fight, fight it is! The Indians consulted awhile and then the chief made another proposition, Chimocamon bring netass (whisky) plenty and they would go off on a big hunt and in the evening we would have a feast and a big peace dance. So I promised to furnish the whisky and away they went on their hunt.
Towards night they came back with a fox, a hedgehog, and a hawk, and they built a fire and hung their soup kettle under a big tree that stood where Carpenters store stood years after. We had to taste that soup, but I couldnt swallow it so I would slily spit it out again. Then we joined hands, Indians, whites and darkeys and danced round the fire and tree, and of all the whooping and yelling, I must say twas the ddest row I ever heard. Id give a dollar today to stand by and see such another peace dance.
We were a wild set in those days. One day Recollet, the trader, had just received some whisky from a batteau that had made the long voyage round the lakes and been poled up the river. He came over and invited the boys to come down in the evening and try it. So M. B. Hounsom, Nate Harrison, a man named Eaton, and a little shoemaker, Whittet, went to the trading house and I was in the party. The whisky was tried pretty thoroughly, and after an hour or two twas solemnly concluded the whisky wasnt strong enough, and must be boiled down, and the dipper leaked, so one of the boys boots was pulled off and the whisky cooked in that. This game went on until the whole party except myself, were barefoot and bare headed, and Recollet was blind drunk on a bench. Whittet proposed to climb the inside of the chimney, to look out at the top and see if the old Indian doctor was all right in his log pen, he was a lively little fellow, so up he went, and bidding the dead Indian good morning, discovered that twas getting daylight. Just then Nate Harrison took a dipper of whisky and flung it on the hot coals, and down came Whittet and would have been terribly burned if he bad not been jerked out. As it was, his hair and eyebrows were all singed off.
When I was building a barn for Uncle Mather there was a band of Indians near by; among them was an old Indian with a slit nose that we called Snip; now, one day, Snip got drunk and went to abusing his son; finally, when the boy could stand it no longer he shot his father. The band had three big drunks in order to get up steam enough to execute the boy for his parricide, but finally banished him beyond the Grand river.
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Going out to Bellevue with Sands McCamly and I. E. Crary to survey a mill site for them we noticed bands of Indians from Nottawasippee and Grand river and all around, going to the burial of a squaw near Bellevue. When the job was done (that is the surveying) Messrs. McCamly and Crary started back on the trail, as they were on horseback, but I was on foot and had my compass, so I struck out on a bee line through the woods for Kalamazoo. On my way I fell in with fully three hundred Indians, all drunk; they had just buried the squaw and then I learned a curious thing about Indian notions; they put their braves in pens above ground, but the squaws they buried, and the direction of the squaws grave gave a clue to the time of year in which it was made, this squaw, for instance, buried in June was buried on a line north of east twenty degrees, as I proved by my instruments, and so the feet being always buried exactly toward the rising sun, in some measure, told the time of year of the burial. I came out to the river near Augusta and there discovered a group of Indians about a bee-tree. They were in high glee and were chewing down the contents with great enjoyment. One squaw to do the civil thing to the white man, took up a corner of her blanket, filled it with wax honey and strained the honey through for my benefit. But that blanket was too much! I told them honey made me sick, and I got off that way.
In speaking of the grand powwow at the burial of that squaw, who must have been a person of some consequence, I forgot to mention my amusement at the appearance of the chief, Tuckaman; he was painted black and then striped, and was too drunk to stand; so he was leaning against a tree. He was not so far gone but that he knew he was laughed at, and he clawed out to get hold of me, but I easily kept out of his way.
Indians would steal pork. Once I was passing south of the Burdick settlement, where an old gentlemen known as Uncle Gunn had started a home. He had set up some posts and made a flat roof of rails, covering the whole with hay. I was invited to dinner and we had a very good one of pork and potatoes, and the old gentleman asked a long and reverent grace before the meal, but in the course of the dinner he said his pork was most gone for the dd Indians had stolen it, and in those days to lose ones supply of pork was a serious thing enough to make even a good man swear.
The Ottawas seemed to claim some sort of superiority over the Pottawattamies, but I never could see much difference, they were so much intermarried, and there were a good many French among them; one we used to call Mossau was a perfect Indian in all but color, and he hadnt much the advantage in that respect, for he was nearly as dark as any of them. He had for his squaw the daughter of the white man Johnson that I spoke of before. This woman was deaf and dumb, but Mossau used to say, Not much talk, but mighty good squaw. But though she couldnt talk much, she was the most persistent beggar among the Indians. She had several children and if she caught sight of a childs dress we would almost have to quarrel with her to get rid of her.
When they got pretty well acquainted they would talk to us about one another. To one of them I often lent my rifle, and he used to warn me against lending it to others, who were not to be trusted; Chippewa, he said, was roguish.
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INDIAN DEVOTIONAL DANCE
The Indians wandered about so much that it was almost impossible to guess at their numbers. The most I ever saw together was about three hundred, and I think that was the majority of those that lived within twenty miles of here. They used to visit one another consider ably, and the visitors would be dressed up in their best finery, so could always tell them.
The first Indian dance I saw was in the Burdick settlement. I struck the wigwam of Kopmosee, which was larger than any of the rest. There were a number of Indians seated round on the ground on skins and Kopmosee and wife a little apart. They all seemed to be the heads of families, and Snip, the Indian with the slit ear, was making a speech or invocation to the Manitou for majosh succee (much deer) majosh daumin (much corn), majosh pokamin (cranberry), and cutawmin (blackberry), and many other things that made up their ideas of plenty. Snip was so earnest in his prayer that the sweat rolled down his face, and the rest gave their most reverent attention to all he said. When he had finished his address they all got up and formed a circle, and with the shout of Yah! ha! ha! danced round and round the wigwam a few times with short steps and in single file; then Snip gave a loud grunt that seemed to be equivalent to our amen. and they quietly passed out of the wigwam and each pair picked up their kettles which were standing outside full of prepared food. Then they were joined by the young folks who had been shooting at the hoop, running and jumping, and other games, and then they had their feast.
RECOLLET, THE TRADER
Recollet was the first trader I knew at the old trading post, and he had a partner whose name I didnt know, but he dressed in Indian fashion, and one day as I was watching them rolling goods into the cache he said with the politeness of a Frenchman, We got no shair mine friend, but take a seat and ve disturb you not.
After Recollet went away Lephart came and sold goods. He told me he was selling goods for Rix Robinson. Time was said he, when Robinson worked for me, now I work for him. Lephart stayed here some time, and we used to trade a good deal with him for tea and ammunition.
There were men who wanted to make corners in those days. Recollet brought quite a lot of salt up the river in his boat, and some fellows tried to buy the lot of him and so control the price; but he would not let them have it, and sold it out to the settlers.
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TITUS AND SALLY BRONSON
I suppose Titus Bronson had been here a year or more. His house stood on the south side of what is now Water street, just about south of the west end of Lawrence and Chapins foundry.
Titus was a nervous and excitable chap, and his oddities made others treat him with undue familiarity, which he very much disliked. But I became very well acquainted with him, and by treating him with decent respect gained his good will. He appointed me as his choice for arbitrator in a matter of dispute between him and Marcus B. Hounsom, and we had quite a time with him. He would sit and whittle a while, then he would start and run off up the trail, leaving Cyrus Lovell swearing like all possessed, saying that we should never get through. After the arbitration we went down to the house, for it was the only place there was to stop at, and we used to sleep about on the floor as best we could. The hired girl was very busy frying fritters for our supper, and these with cheese made us a good meal. Erastus Jackson was lying on the hearth. He was pretty full, and as the hired girl (whose name I forget, but she was a stout Hoosier girl) passed him he made some insulting gesture or said some insulting word, up went the frying pan and came down batter and all on Erastus head and to the time of his death which was about two years after, he never heard the last of being crowned with pancakes.
Aunt Sally Bronson was a smartish sort of woman, and perhaps a little inclined to dictate. One day when she had been more than usually vigorous, Titus handed her his pantaloons, jerking out the words, take em, take em!
But I cant help thinking that Bronson was not well used by the people of Kalamazoo in an early day.
I remember a place that used to attract my attention; twas called Bertram plain on the north side the river, about two miles this side of Marshall; twas a burr oak plain grown up thick with pea vines and blue joint grass, and columbo root. Bertrams house was a curiosity; there was no sawed lumber scarcely about it, the eaves of the house and barn which projected all around, were supported by small tree trunks with the bark on, and to the best of my remembrance the roof was of thatch, and the fences were all of hurdle work, and the whole was a very pretty show of what could be done by the native productions of the woods. I didnt know Bertram; he was an Englishman, and I believe a bachelor; but I knew another Englishman named Holmes that lived with him; he was a capital wing shot and would pop two prairie hens right and left, as quick as I can tell it.
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FACE OF THE COUNTRY WOLVES
The first settler in Battle Creek was a man named Guernsey; his home was near where Nichols & Shepherds factory stands. We used to have to wade the river there to get to Goguac prairie and wade back to get to Toland prairie, then wade across at the trading post to get to this place.
I went out to Gull prairie in the spring of 33 with J. F. Gilkey: the prairie bad been burnt over in the fall and the fresh green grass and the thousand wild flowers made it seem like a great garden. Twas said that a man could turn a furrow then on Prairie Ronde for eleven miles in a straight line without striking a stick or stone. Coming from White Pigeon, one day, toward Schoolcraft, I saw a man on horseback coming some distance off so he looked like a speck. When he got nearer to me he threw down some of his things on the prairie and started off as hard as his horse could run at an angle from the trail. I hustled along to see what he was after; he had seen a wolf and run him down and his horse stamped him to death.
One time I was at White Pigeon, the boys came in halloing, Wolf on the prairie. The men all tumbled out of the house and on to their horses, some of them not waiting to bridle them, they were in such a hurry. The ground was full of badger holes, and ever so many of them went heels over head in them, but they got the wolf. Horses were mad at wolves and would stamp them to death; but they used to get their legs cut up some; the wolves are sharp biting fellows. Horses would stamp a dog, too, that bothered them.
GRABBING A BEAR
Going through the woods from Toland prairie to Gull prairie with Gilbert Higgins, both on horseback, we saw a young bear about sixty or seventy pounds weight ahead of us, we put after him and when he found we were gaining on him too fast he scrabbled for a tree. I went one side of the tree and Gilbert the other, the bear came around to Gilberts side and he grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and went on ten or twelve rods before he could stop his horse, but we saved that bear.
When I had a shop at the south end of the old bridge, on Toland prairie, there used to be an old doe come every day and look all around and her eyes would stick out, then, she would bleat and two fawns would start up in the grass and run to her, and get their fill; then they would go off and circle about in the grass a while and drop down and the old doe would go away. She did this every day for some time, and I was mad enough when somebody shot the pretty thing.
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A NIGHT WALK TO PINE CREEK
I wonder now at the risks we used to take from the wolves, and not even think about it. I wanted some lumber pretty bad and I heard that Heber Sherwood, down at Pine creek, had some partly seasoned. I had a note of his payable in lumber at his mill, but I had never been there, so I got a couple of men and ox teams and started; twas in December and very cold, with some snow. We had quite a time crossing the mouth of Portage down here; had to break the ice on each side to get the old scow across, and I was pretty anxious and got in the water above my waist but we got over at last and the sun was getting low, and I was pretty cold in my frozen clothes. We headed across Grand prairie towards Fitz Flats, who lived in a little house on what was afterward the Taintor place. I went ahead of the teams and engaged a chance to put up, but while I was watching the oxen coming slowly across the prairie, two horse teams drove up from the south and I found from their talk they were going to Sherwoods for the same lumber that I was after. I went and met the teams, told the men to stay all night with Taft, and move on in the morning, and I put out through the woods for Otsegosixteen miles through the woods Id never been there but I was pretty well used to traveling in the woods and knew the general lay of the country. Well that was a rough walk, my clothes frozen, a cloudy sky, and the wolves followed me howling all the way there, and I didnt even get a club; but a little after twelve I saw the light from old Sam Fosters fire and it looked mighty good; twas the only house where Otsego now is. I went in and found two Indians lying in front of the fire, I crowded them to one~ side enough to get some share of the warmth, and soon got dry and comfortable.
Next morning I went to Sherwoods and presented my note, and while we were measuring the lumber the horse teams drove up and there was some tall swearing when Sherwood told them they were too late.
I afterwards built and bought the saw-mill near Ruperts lake, on the head of Pine creek, afterwards owned by Van Vranken and from that mill came the lumber to build the old court house, Gen. Bur1icks house, Hustons, and the house I now live in, and many other buildings; but theres no sign left of the mill today.
THE FIRST STORE IN KALAMAZOO
We couldnt get many goods of Lephart over at the trading post for his truck was mostly for the Indian trade. The first store here was a little room that was kept by Huston, just about where Stones grocery now stands, on the corner of Main and Rose streets. Huston bought about three wheelbarrow loads of goods of Col. Smith of Schoolcraft and sold them out in that little shanty.
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AN INDIAN PRINCESS
Some of the Indians used to swell out in dress quite smartly. One squaw, I remember, was always as neat as a fiddle; she wore a dress and leggings of fine blue broadcloth, and a fiery red cloth around her neck, and over her breast was hung great silver crescents six or seven inches long, lapping over one another and tapering smaller like scales on a fish, and silver rings and earrings, and she always made her pony go on a lope that would set all her traps jingling. She seemed to like to hear them rattle. The Indian ponies all had bells, but when they used them they would take a wad of grass or something and stuff them, so they could go quietly.
INDIAN TRAILS BECAME MAIN ROADS
The main roads leading to Kalamazoo were laid out on the general course of the old Indian trails. The territorial road that crossed the State, on which Main street was built, followed mostly the course of the great Washtenaw trail; then there was, a large trail to the Grand river, about where the old plank road used to run; another crossed the river by the old trading post, and went to Gull prairie; that trail ran by Hooks house, afterwards owned by Sam Clark.
We were at work there building the house and a lot of brush was thrown in a heap on the trail; a band of Indians came up from the trading post and made a new track around the brush heap, but after they were gone we heard one whooping, and when he came in sight he was as drunk as a fiddler and was yelling for the others to stop for him; he never saw the brush heap, but pitched right into it; didnt try to get up, but pulled out a flute made of angelica stalk covered with snake skin, and there he laid on the brush on his back in the pouring rain, playing pooh, ooh, ooh on his flute, happy as a clam for two or three hours.
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MUSKRATS AND MEAN WHITES
When I lived at Wakeshma (Vicksburg area) the Indians used to come there a good deal to hunt the muskrats on the pond; muskrat was a great dish with them, and they werent any too particular how they cooked them. They would boil them in the sap they were making sugar of. I know we used to find muskrat toes in the sugar sometimes. One Indian caught sixty rats and three mink there one night. I was glad to have rats caught because they made holes in the dam.But there were some lazy, worthless devils who lived around there who would find the Indians canoes and split them all up for pure mischief. So the Indians came to me and said, You good man; hide um canoe; we catch rats spoil ur dam. I told them to bring on their canoes; Id see that nobody meddled with them. One day an Indian came and told me someone had stolen his trap, mink and all, and he described the tracks made by the fellow so well and told the way he gone, so that I knew at once who was the thief. I told the Indian to go to that man and tell him if he didn't give up that trap and mink I'd warm him, so he did, and the chap handed them right over and didn't bother the Indians anymore.
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The Indians wouldnt kill wolves or massasaugas only in self-defense, so the creek bottoms and marshes were very full of massasaugas. Ive killed hundreds of them with my Jacobs staff when I was surveying mill sites. Hogs will always kill and eat massasaugas, but hogs were very few and there was nothing to interfere with them but the deer. I once had a chance to see how a buck operated on the massasauga. I bought some hogs of Daniel O. Dodge, of Climax prairie, and was out there after them. Daniels wife had some time before lost a baby, and he had found a young fawn in the woods which he brought home as a substitute, and so they had brought it up and it had grown to be large and slick and saucy, and when we went to find the hogs it trotted after us and would poke his horns in my back every little while for play. Going through some hazel brush we came across a massasauga coiled up. I was going to kill it, but Dodge said Hold on, lets see what Dick will say to it; so he called Dick and he came up, and his eyes stuck out when he saw the snake laying all in his coil ready for fight, with his eyes shining and his rattles going. Dick gave a spring sideways like a hog to war and his sharp little feet came down in a bunch on the coil like a streak, and when he bounded off that saugar was all cut to ribbands; but then Dick wasnt satisfied, and he worked till he cut him all to pieces. There was another snake that was very common then, we used to call the blow snake, but it seems to have disappeared now-a-days. At the first look one would take it for a massasauga; it was about the same general color and form, and it had no rattles and. never got into the handsome springy coil that the rattlesnake makes when he means business; but these fellows would lie lazily stretched out and when you disturbed it, it would flatten out about six inches of its length, head and all, make a slow hissing very like a goose. It was claimed that that breath poisoned the air about the snake. I dont know whether there was any truth in that or not, but I once came across a young man near Constantine, when I was engineering for a mill site on Hog creek, that runs into St. Joe river, who had been quite sick and his face had been all sores and the skin was peeling off. He said he had been weeding beets and the weeds were pretty high, and he could hear something every little while sss! ssss! and he looked about and couldnt see anything for some time, still hearing the hissing. By and by he discovered the snake among the weeds and killed it, but soon was taken violently sick and was getting over it when I saw him. I killed great numbers of these snakes. When they would flatten out I used to pin them with the sharp point of my Jacobs staff. I have killed three of the deadly moccasin snakes in this State. They are of a dull copper color on the back, but underneath they look like burnished copper. The last one I killed was on my place near Comstock. Some Indians passing, they looked at it very gravely, shook their heads saying Weannet Manitou (bad snake). I never could tell the difference in their name for the Great Spirit and the snake.
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PRIMITIVE KALAMAZOO - THE MOUND
Kalamazoo, or Bronson, was never much of a log house settlement. I only remember three houses now that were of that sort. Titus Bronsons was made of poles rather than logs. Deacon Porter had a log house near where the Indiana depot now stands, and David S. Dilley had a log house on section twenty-one, that is, about twenty rods this side the union school grounds.
There is quite an idea that this village site was a grassy plain with scattering burr oaks; but it was a plain covered with thick and tall hazel brush, so thick that I have seen a wolf jump up so as to see what caused the row he heard; and the burr oaks were very small, little more than grubs. There stands now on West street an oak perhaps two and a half feet through, with a doctors sign upon it, that when I lived on the spot, several years after I came here, was about the size of a whip stock after I had trimmed it into shape. There was perhaps an acre of clear ground about the mound in the park, and a few rods south of the jail was always a mud hole that I used to think was where the dirt was carried from to make the mound.
CLIPKNOCKIE AND RIVER NAVIGATION
Hosea B. Huston built a still near where the old blast furnace stood and he named the spot Clipknockie; presently he took a notion to build a boat to trade up and down the river with, and he had its name all painted out in style on the boat, Titus Bronson of Clipknockie, and he started off in it for down the river. I happened to be at Otsego, and I saw him; he had to get Dana Foster to pilot the Titus Bronson among the rocks and breakers in those rapids. Where he went to I dont know, but the Titus Bronson never came back to Clipkockie.I engineered and built a mill at Augusta for Dr. Solomon King. There was a fellow there by the name of Hill, that was a terrible bully; one day he came across a little chap by the name of Hadley and got most terribly whipped, that fight split up the folks there into two parties, one for Hill and one for Hadley, and twas row, row, all the time, so they got to calling that place Clipknockie, on account of the quarrels, and Huston in disgust at the theft of the name changed the name of his place to Enniskillen.
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SHARP PRACTICE - LOVE CONQUERS ALL
THE FIRST MARRIAGE IN KALAMAZOO
I remember a rig we run on John Hill, a brother of this fighting Hill. I was at work at Roswell Cranes, about two miles this side of Bertrams plains, and there was another man named Angell who lived at Battle Creek and had to go and come night and morning. Horace H. Comstock had started a sort of one-horse stage, though it was drawn by two horses, to bring land speculators this way, and this Hill was the driver. Now Angell was a bright, mischievous chap, and wanted to get a ride on this carry-all out and in, but couldnt afford to pay for it very well. Hill had been sparking Hannah Burnett, a young girl living near Kalamazoo, and we told Angell this, and he concluded of that fact and the hints we had given him of the disposition of Hill, would carry him through; so when Hill drove up he stepped up with a gracious smile and the inquiry, Are you Mr. Hill? 1 would like to get a ride to Battle Creek. Mr. Hill stuck out his chin, straightened down his vest, saying: Any man can ride with me that pays for it. Qf course, thats all right, but I want to talk with you; theres something you ought to know, and so got his curiosity excited that he was invited to ride on the drivers seat, when he proceeded to inquire if he was not engaged to Miss Hannah Burnett, and to warn him of three or four fellows that were after the same girl, but (and here be laid heavy emphasis) they are so afraid of you they darnt show openly and above-board. Dm em, says Hill, I kin lick the pile of em, and so Angell kept him stuffed full until they reached Battle Creek, by which time he had made a solemn compact to keep watch over these imaginary suitors and report their sayings and doings to Mr. John Hill, and when he inquired for the amount of his fare, he was told nothing; and by stuffing Hill in the same manner continued his rides as long as he wished, very much to our delight. But the wedding of Mr. John Hill and Hannah Burnett came off in due time and was the first white marriage in Kalamazoo.
AN AGUE CHILL IN THE WOODS
And this makes me think of one of the worst fits of ague I ever had. I had been at work at Bellevue making a dam and had to come to Kalamazoo for some material; got an Indian pony and made a bee-line through the woods for Augusta; was about half way to Augusta and a fit of ague took me so hard that I rolled off the pony and tossed and tumbled about on the ground I dont know how long. After a while I came to long enough to crawl on my hands and knees to a little stream or slough hole and drank until I felt stronger, strong enough to get on my feet and stagger about to find the pony. Luckily, the animal was grazing about not far off, and 1 managed to get on him again and get down as far as Burnetts, on the Comstock road, where I stayed all night, and the next day I left the pony there and walked here and back to Burnetts, and the third day set out again for Bellevue, and near the same spot the ague came on again, and I went through the whole programme again, alone in the woods, nobody within miles of me. Oh! we had ague in those days for dead certainty.
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THE OLD TRADING POST
I have noticed several times contradictory statements in the papers about the site and buildings that made up the old trading post on the other side the river, so I have tramped over the old ground again, and am glad to find that Mr. Coogan has, with great good taste, left the old site of the largest building just as the fire left it when it was burned down, only planting an evergreen at each corner to mark the spot. This building was used as a store-house when I came here, and stood many years after the others were destroyed. The building where the traders lived had a square stick chimney and stood a few rods north and west of the store-house, and nearly south of the store-house was a big cache or celler drifted into the side haul. Recollet built another log shanty nearer the river after I came, but twas soon destroyed. The painting in Woodhams music store shows correctly the relative positions of the buildings as they then stood.
Looking about the site of the old trading post brought to mind the corpse of the Indian Doctor who kept a grim watch on the side hill, in his three-cornered pen, till he tumbled to pieces, and Im not sure but his squaw was the best doctor of the two. One time Tuthill was helping to raise a little store building for Horace Comstock; a pair of rafters slipped and pounded it pretty badly, so he thought his jaw was broke.. He got his head bound up but was in terrible pain all night; couldnt sleep, and next day the old doctors squaw came in; she found him grunting away and wanted to see his hurts; but he pushed off and wouldnt let her touch his head for some time. She stuck to him, said all that wrapping was meannett (bad), then she went away a little while and came back with some roots and a stone; she pounded up the roots into a poultice and put over his face, and in two hours he was having a good sleep. We went out and found the tops of the weeds; twas a plant we knew but Ive forgotten now what it was. But twas sure that the Indians had quite a knowledge of simple remedies, aside from the jugglery of their medicine men.
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TREED BY WOLVES
Did I tell you about getting treed by wolves? Well, one night I was coming through the woods from. Otsego to my saw-mill. The pines were pretty thick, and it was soon dusk. and the wolves began to howl all around me. I paddled along and they kept getting nearer, and I felt around in the dark to get hold of some sort of a club; blundered about in the bush and happened to get hold of a stake somebody had cut, and when I had got that, I backed up into a hollow pine that had been burned out and waited till I could see their eyes shine and then I wracked around with my club, and drove them back, and by and by started on again. I bethought me that Cases house was nearer by than my mill was, and I could go there through the oak openings where twas not so dark as in the pines. So I headed for Cases, and when the wolves got too near I would charge on em and thrash the trees with my shillalah; there was a light in Cases house, but the door was fast and I couldnt get in, so I hollered out who I was, and found that the woman was all alone and had heard the wolves and had barricaded the doors. Case had gone over to my mill to catch some fish, so I said I would take his rifle and then he could have it to come back with. But when I started out with that gun the wolves never gave so much as a yelp again, and about the first thing Case said was did the wolves get after you, I heard em howling?
The next day all hands started out to look for the wolves, but all we got was four wolf pups that we happened to run across and we carried them home alive, they were kept until full grown, some of them, but were so mischievous, killing chickens and things, that they had to be killed. I laughed to hear Trumbull, my Scotch apprentice, talking to one of them that he was carrying out to Hooks, east of Kalamazoo, Ye wee devil says he, Im taking yee whaur yell be weel cared for, but if ye kill the fowls theyll kill ye dom ye !One night I was staying at Ralph Tuttles, and a wolf grabbed a calf; it bawled like mad. I was sleeping, partly dressed, so I was out in a hurry; but Uncler Mather got up, seized his coat in the dark and jammed his feet through the sleeves. The cattle were as crazy as loons. They came tearing across the prairie in all directions, and I had to pile up on the shed to get out of their way or they would certainly have bolted over me. Some of them came from the Whited Sepulchre, as we used to call Uncle Johnny Moores place and they made good time, too.
This Johnny Moore was a character. One time he was desperately sick, and Dr. Webb, who was in attendance, informed him that he couldnt live long. How long? asks uncle Johnny. I dont think you will live more than two hours, said the doctor. Dd short notice! says Uncle Johnny. Make me a brandy punch, strong. He took this down and went to sleep for a couple of hours, then woke up and repeated the medicine and slept again all night, and lived many years after that. When Tillotson Barnes died at Gull mills, Joe Miller was administrator and Dr. Deming, Henry Little and I were administrators, and after we had got through the business I was very anxious to get to my home on Toland prairie. Twas all woods, and the wolves were howling a good deal. There was a little light snow, and when I was near what is now Howlandsburg the howling stopped all of a sudden and I heard something pat, pat in the snow. I looked back, and right behind me was a terrible big wolf; behind was another. I whirled about, squatted down, threw up my arms and jumped at them letting out yells that ought to have been heard at Gull Corners. That wolf was so scared that in turning he actually kicked the snow in my face. They peeled it off on their back tracks as fast as they could fly.
We had a great time at Delnovie when the mill was finished (tis now called Mystic mills, I believe) but we all knocked off work for want of a couple of feet of belting, and Tim Cooley sent Elias, or Crowell as he called him, down town to get some. Well, Crowell thought he knew all about mill matters, so made some mistake, and had to go again. Twas proposed to fill up the time while waiting by a dance as we had a fiddle; but there was no whisky, Crowell being a strict Methodist and didnt keep liquor in his house. But some said there was a barrel of sauerkraut down cellar, that would do just as well, so we danced and ate sauerkraut, and by the time we got through the floor was about two inches deep in sauerkraut, and the barrel pretty well empty. Crowell muttered some when he got back, but that was all the good it did him.I dont remember who built the old log jail; reckon most everybody helped, but I do remember seeing Huston, who was sheriff, catch sight of one of his prisoners out of the coop. Twas a chap named Bowker; he had set fire to a haystack. The fellow lit out for the jail again, and got in the same way he got out, through the roof, and was eating raw onions when Huston got there.
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Election days in the territory were loud times for fun. The north half of Kalamazoo county and all Allegan county were one county. At the first election old Sam Foster of Otsego was chosen justice of the peace. Soon after this election I was working on the Hill tavern at Comstock; had two men at work for me,. John McAllister and John Newman, and I had partly hired a man named Bliss, a widower from Canada, but found afterwards that Bliss would get into trouble.
There was a shanty in Comstock that we used to call the initiation room, because the new comers always used it until their own places were ready for them to live in. Now at this time the room was occupied by a man and his wife named Fuller. Mrs. Fuller was quite a pretty woman and one day when her husband was away Bliss insulted her, as seemed to be his habit of doing; we talked it over and thought a good scare would be good for him, so I wrote a warrant beginning Jesse Turner presumes to assume the office of. justice of the peace, etc., and told John McAllister and John Newman to play constables and bring him in. He didnt notice but that the warrant was all right, but swore he wouldnt come, the boys were big strapping fellows and just carried him in. Twas agreed to let him go to Bronson to get counsel and away he went, and there be run across old Elisha.Belcher who was hungry for a job, and he advised him to sue the boys for false arrest and imprisonment. Old Sam Foster being in Bronson they got him to issue a warrant and sent Nate Harisson to serve it. So all Comstock came down to town, drank some whisky, made a good deal of noise. Court was called and the boys were arraigned. Belcher stated the case and asked for their plea. Lovell Moore asked if the court had ever qualified, and as old Sam had never been sworn in, that ended that days lawing.
But old Sam took the oath and awhile afterward stopped at Comstock with Nate Harrison, called a court there and then and sentenced the boys to fifteen days each in the log pen, and then went on his road, leaving the warrant in Nates hands for execution. Nate didnt like the job, but Sam told him hed fix him if he didnt attend to it, and while they were writing the boys asked me, What shall we do; we dont want to stay in that log pen for fifteen days. I said skip out into the woods where you can see when I signal you to come back, and they did. When Nate came in and asked for them I said they were about somewhere and would be in soon as twas near dinner time. Nate was pretty tired, there had been considerable whisky about; he lopped down on a work bench and was soon fast asleep, and his hat fell off and the wind blowing pretty fresh through the room scattered the papers among the shavings. There were two little rats of boys who were always bothering for shavings to make a bonfire. And hearing them I quietly called them in, telling them to take out the shavings and burn them up. The result was that when Nate woke up that warrant could not be found, though I helped him hunt for it for some time. Nate foamed and swore, but twas no use. That warrant couldnt be found and so it was never served. Belcher tried to scare me afterward about acting as justice. I told him to go ahead and wed have a cotillion; but that cotillion never came off.
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|1846 County History||Kalamazoo Mall|
|1876 County History||Kalamazoo Theater Views|
|1980 Tornado||Kalamzoo Views|
|Chronology of Township, Village and City Formation||Obituaries from the Pioneer Society Reports|
|Centennial History and Pageant Program||Railroads, Interubans, and Transit History|
|Historical Markers Index||Reminiscences of Kalamazoo, 1832 -1833 by Jesse Turner|
|History Pages Index||Schoolcraft History|
|Indians in Kalamazoo - Early Letters||Vicksburg History Site|
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