They said they saw one Indian who had on a sort of crown, or wreath, with feathers in it that waved a foot above his head. They saw him mount a sorrel pony. As he did so the other Indians whooped and hooted, I suppose to cheer the chief. Childlike they were scared and thought that he was coming after them on horseback. They left the path and ran right into the brush and woods, from home. When they thought they were out of sight of the Indian they turned toward home. After they came in sight of home, to encourage his sisters, my little brother told them, he wouldn't be afraid of any one Indian but, he said, there were so many there it was enough to scare anybody. When they got within twenty rods of the house they saw some one coming beyond the house with a gun on his shoulder. One said it was William Beal, another said it was an Indian. They looked again and all agreed that it was an Indian. If they had come straight down the lane, they would have just about met him at the bars, opposite the house, (where we went through). There was no way for them to get to the house and shun him; except to climb the fence and run across the field. The dreaded Indian seemed to meet them everywhere, and if possible they were more scared now than before. Brother and sister Sarah were over the fence very quickly. Bessie had run so hard to get home and was so scared that in attempting to climb the fence she got part way up and fell back, but up and tried again. Sister Sarah would not leave her but helped her over. But John S. left them and ran for his life to the house; as soon as they could get started they ran too. Mother said Smith ran into the house looking very scared, and went for the gun. She asked him what was the matter, and what he wanted of the gun; he said there was an Indian coming to kill them and he wanted to shoot him. Mother told him to let the gun alone, the Indian would not hurt them; by this time my sisters had got in. In a minute or two afterward the Indian came in, little thinking how near he had come being shot by a youthful hero.
Poor Indian wanted to borrow a large brass kettle that mother had and leave his rifle as security for it. Mother lent him the kettle and he went away. In a few days he brought the kettle home.
A short time after this a number of them had been out to Dearbornville and got some whisky. All but one had imbibed rather too freely of "Whiteman's fire water to make Indian feel good." They came down as far as our house and, as we had no stick standing across the door, they walked in very quietly, without knocking. The practice or law among the Indians is, when one goes away from his wigwam, if he puts a stick across the entrance all are forbidden to enter there; and, as it is the only protection of his wigwam, no Indian honorably violates it. There were ten of these Indians. Mother was washing. She said the children were very much afraid, not having gotten over their fright. They got around behind her and the washtub, as though she could protect them. The Indians asked for bread and milk; mother gave them all she had. They got upon the floor, took hold of hands and formed a ring. The sober one sat in the middle; the others seemed to hear to what he said as much as though he had been an officer. He would not drink a drop of the whisky, but kept perfectly sober. They seemed to have a very joyful time, they danced and sang their wild songs of the forest. Then asked mother for more bread and milk; she told them she had no more; then they asked for buttermilk and she gave them what she had of that. As mother was afraid, she gave them anything she had, that they called for. They asked her for whisky; she said she hadn't got it. They said, "Maybe you lie." Then they pointed toward Mr. Pardee's and said, "Neighbor got whisky?" She told them she didn't know. They said again, "Maybe you lie."
When they were ready the sober one said, "Indian go!" He had them all start in single file. In that way they went out of sight. Mother was overjoyed and much relieved when they were gone. They had eaten up all her bread and used up all her milk, but I suppose they thought they had had a good time.
Not more than two or three weeks after this the Indians moved away, and these children of the forest wandered to other hunting grounds. We were very much pleased, as well as the other neighbors, when they were gone.
Father had a good opinion of the Indians, though he had been frightened by the first one, John Williams, and was afraid of losing his life by him. He considered him an exception, a wicked, ugly Indian. Thought, perhaps, he had been driven away from his own tribe, and was like Cain, a vagabond upon the face of the earth. He was different from other Indians, as some of them had the most sensitive emotions of humanity. If you did them a kindness they would never forget it, and they never would betray a friend; but if you offended them or did them an injury, they would never forget that either. These two traits of character run parallel with their lives and only terminate with their existence.
I recollect father's relating a circumstance that happened in the State of New York, about the time of the Revolutionary War. He said an Indian went into a tavern and asked the landlord if he would give him something to eat. The landlord repulsed him with scorn, told him he wouldn't give him anything and to get out of the house, for he didn't want a dirty Indian around. There was a gentleman sitting in the room who saw the Indian come in and heard what was said. The Indian started to go; the gentleman stepped up and said: "Call him back, give him what he wants, and I'll pay for it." The Indian went back, had a good meal and was well used; then he went on his way and the gentleman saw him no more, at that time.
Shortly after this the gentleman emigrated to the West, and was one of the advanced guards of civilization. He went into the woods, built him a house and cleared a piece of land. About this time there was a war in the country. He was taken captive and carried away a long distance, to an Indian settlement. He was tried, by them, for his life, condemned to death and was to be executed the next morning. He was securely bound and fastened. The chief detailed an Indian who, he thought, knew something of the whites and their tricks and would be capable of guarding the captive safely, and he was set as a watch to keep him secure until morning. I have forgotten what father said was to have been the manner of his execution; whether he was to be tomahawked or burned, at all events he was to meet his fate in the morning. Late in the night, after the warriors were fast asleep and, perhaps, dreaming of their spoils, when everything was still in the camp, the Indian untied and loosed the captive, told him to be careful, still, and follow him. After they were outside the camp, out of hearing, the Indian told the white man that he was going to save his life and show him the way home. They traveled until morning and all that day, and the night following, the next morning they came out in sight of a clearing and the Indian showed him a house and asked him if he knew the place; he said he did. Then the Indian asked him if he knew him; he told him that he did not. Then he referred him to the tavern and asked if he remembered giving an Indian something to eat. He said he did. "I am the one," said the Indian, "and I dare not go back to my own tribe, they would kill me." Here the friends par Led to meet no more. One went home to friends and civilization; the other went an exile without friends to whom he dared go, with no home, a fugitive in the wilderness.
There was a man by the name of H. Moody who often visited at father's house he told me that when he was young he was among the Mohawk Indians in Canada. This tribe formerly lived in what is now the State of New York. They took up on the side of the English, were driven away to Canada and there settled on the Grand River. Mr. Moody was well acquainted with the sons of the great chief, Brant, and knew the laws and customs of the tribe. He said when they considered one of their tribe very bad they set him aside and would have nothing to do with him.
If one murdered another of the same tribe he was taken up and tried by a council, and if it was found to be wilful murder, without any cause, he was condemned and put to death; but if there were any extenuating circumstances which showed that he had some reason for it, he was condemned and sentenced, by the chief, to sit on the grave of his victim for a certain length of time. That was his only hope and his "City of refuge." If any of the relatives of the deceased wanted to kill him there they had a right (according to their law) to do so. If he remained and lived his time out, on the horrible place, he was received back again to the fellowship of his tribe. This must have been a terrible punishment. It showed, however, the Indian's love of his tribe and country, to sit there and think of the danger of being shot or tomahawked, and of the terrible deed he had committed. He had taken away what he could never give. How different was his case from the one who left tribe, friends and home, and ran away to save the life of a white man who had given him bread.
About two and a half miles southwest of our house there was a large sand hill. Huckleberries grew there in abundance. I went there and picked some myself. On the top of that hill we found Indian graves, where some had been recently buried. There were pens built of old logs and poles around them, and we called it the "Indian Hill." It is known by that name to this day. The old telegraph road runs right round under the brow of this hill. This hill is in the town of Taylor. I don't suppose there are many in that town who do not know the hill or have heard of it, and but few in the town of Dearborn. I don't suppose there are six persons living who know the reason it is called the "Indian Hill" for we named it in a very early day.
Some twelve or fifteen years after this a man by the name of Clark had the job of grading down a sand hill nearly a mile south of Taylor Center. In grading he had to cut down the bank six or seven feet and draw it off on to the road. He hired me with my team to go and help him. I went. He had been at work there before and he showed me some Indian bones that he had dug up and laid in a heap. He said that two persons were buried there. From the bones, one must have been very large, and the other smaller. He had been very careful to gather them up. He said he thought they were buried in a sitting or reclining posture, as he came to the skulls first. The skulls, arm and thigh bones were in the best state of preservation, and in fact, the most that was left of them.
I took one thigh bone that was whole, sat down on the bank and we compared it with my own. As I was six feet, an inch and a half, we tried to measure the best we could to learn the size of the Indian. We made up our minds that he was at least seven, or seven and a half, feet tall. I think it likely it was his squaw who sat by his side. They must have been buried a very long time. We dug a hole on the north side of a little black oak tree that stood on the hill west of the road, and there we deposited all that remained of those ancient people. I was along there the other day (1875) and as I passed I noticed the oak. It is now quite a large tree; I thought there was no one living in this country, but me, who knew what was beneath its roots. No doubt that Indian was a hunter and a warrior in his day. He might have heard, and been alarmed, that the white man had come in big canoes over the great waters and that they were stopping to live beyond the mountains. But little did he think that in a few moons, or "skeezicks" as they called it, he should pass to the happy hunting ground, and his bones be dug up by the white man, and hundreds and thousands pass over the place, not knowing that once a native American and his squaw were buried there. That Indian might have sung this sentiment:
"And when this life shall end, When calls the great So-wan-na, Southwestern shall I wend, To roam the great Savannah."
No doubt he was an observer of nature. In his day he had listened to the voice of Gitche Manito, or the Great Spirit, in the thunder and witnessed the display of his power in the lightning, as it destroyed the monster oak and tore it in slivers from top to bottom, and the voice of the wind, all told him that there was a Great Spirit. It told him if Indian was good he would go to a better place, where game would be plenty, and, no one would drive him away. No doubt he had made preparation for his departure and wanted his bow, arrow, and maybe other things, buried with him. If this was so they had disappeared as we found nothing of the kind. It is known to be the belief of the Indian in his wild state, that he will need his bow and arrow, or his gun and powder horn, or whatever he has to hunt with here, to use after lie has passed over to the happy hunting ground.
About the time that Clark dug up the bones, I became acquainted with something that I never could account for and it has always been a mystery to me. An Englishman was digging a ditch on the creek bottom, to drain the creek, a little over three-quarters of a mile west of father's house. He was digging it six feet wide and two feet deep, where brush called grey willows stood so thick that it was impossible for a man to walk through them. He cut the brush and had dug eight or ten inches when he came to red earth. Some day there had been a great fire at this place. The streak of red ground was about an inch thick, and in it he found what all called human bones. I went to see it myself and the bones we gathered up were mostly small pieces, no whole ones; but we saw enough to convince us that they were human bones. The ground that was burned over might have been, from the appearance, twelve feet square. It must have been done a great many years before, for the ground to make, and the brush to grow over it.
This creek, the Ecorse, not being fed by any rivulets or springs from hills or mountains, is supplied entirely by surface water. It is sometimes quite a large stream, but during dry weather in the summer time it is entirely dry. The Englishman was digging it deeper to take off the surface water when it came.
It is possible that, sometime, Indians had burned their captives there. In fact there is no doubt of it. It must have been the work of Indians. We may go back in our imaginations to the time, when the place where the city of Detroit now stands was an Indian town or village, and ask its inhabitants if they knew who were burned twelve miles west of there on a creek, they might not be able to tell. We might ask the giant Indian of the sand hill, if he knew, and he might say, "I had a hand in that; it was in my day." But we have no medium, through which we can find out the dark mysteries of the past. They will have to remain until the light of eternity dawns, and all the dead who have ever lived are called to be again, and to come forth. Then the dark mysteries of the past which have been locked up for centuries will be revealed.
THE INSIDE OF OUR HOUSE—A PICTURE FROM MEMORY.
As I have been led away, for some years, following poor Indian in his belief, life and death, and in doing so have wandered from my story, I will now return to the second or third year of our settlement. I described how the body of our second house was made, and the roof put on. I now look at its interior. The lower floor was made of whitewood boards, in their rough state, nailed down. The upper floor was laid with the same kind of boards, though they were not nailed When they shrunk they could be driven together, to close the cracks. The chimney was what we called a "stick" or "Dutch chimney." The way it was built; two crooked sticks, six inches wide and four inches thick, were taken for arms; the foot of these sticks were placed on the inner edge or top of the second log of the house, and the upper ends laid against the front beam of the chamber floor. These sticks or arms were about six feet apart at the mouth of the chimney. Father cut a green black oak and sawed off some bolts, took a froe, that he brought from York State, and rived out shakes three inches wide and about an inch thick. Of these and clay he laid up the chimney. It started from the arms and the chamber beam. After it got up a little it was like laying up a pen. He spread on some clay, then laid on four sticks and pressed them into the clay, then spread on clay again, covering the sticks entirely. In this way our chimney was built, and its size, at the top, was about two by four feet. It proved to be quite a good and safe chimney.
The last thing before retiring for the night, after the fire had burned low and the big coals were covered with ashes, was to look up chimney and see if it had taken fire. If it had, and was smoking on the inside, father would take a ladder, set it up in the chimney, take a little water and go up and put it out. This was seldom necessary, as it never took fire unless the clay cracked in places, or the weather wore it off.
When there was a small fire in the evening, I could stand on the clay hearth and look through the chimney at the stars as they twinkled and shone in their brightness. I could count a number of them as I stood there. Father drove into a log, back of the fire place, two iron eyes on which to hang a crane; they extended into the room about one foot. Around, and at one side of these he built the back of the fireplace of clear clay a foot thick at the bottom, but thinner when it got up to the sticks; after the clay dried he hung the crane. It is seen that we had no jambs to our fireplace. Father sometimes at night would get a backlog in. I have seen those which he got green, and very large, which were sometimes twenty inches through and five or six feet long. When he got the log to the door, he would take a round stick as large as his arm, lay it on the floor, so that his log would come crossways of it, and then crowd the log. I have seen him crowd it with a handspike and the stick would roll in opposite the fireplace. He would tell us children to stand back and take the chairs out of the way. Then he would roll the log into the fireplace, and very carefully so as not to break or crack the clay hearth, for mother had all the care of that, and wished it kept as nicely as possible. When he had the log on to suit him, he would say, "There, I guess that will last awhile." Then he would bring in two green sticks, six or eight inches through and about three feet long, and place them on the hearth with the ends against the backlog. These he called his Michigan andirons; said he was proud of them. He said they were wood instead of iron, to be sure, but he could afford to have a new pair whenever he wanted them. When he brought in a large fore-stick, and laid it across his andirons, he had the foundation for a fire, for twenty-four hours.
On the crane hung two or three hooks, and on these, over the fire, mother did most of her cooking. As we had no oven, mother had what we called a bake kettle; this was a flat, low kettle, with a cast cover, the rim of which turned up an inch or two, to hold coals. In this kettle, she baked our bread. The way she did it; she would heat the lid, put her loaf of bread in the kettle, take the shovel and pull out some coals on the hearth, set the kettle on them, put the lid on and shovel some coals on to it. Then she would watch it, turn it round a few times, and the bread was done, and it came on the table steaming. When we all gathered around the family board we did the bread good justice. We were favored with what we called "Michigan appetites." Sometimes when we had finished our meal there were but few fragments left, of anything except the loaf, which was four or five inches through, a foot and a half across, and four and a half feet in circumference.
Later, mother bought her a tin baker, which she placed before the fire to bake her bread, cake, pies, etc. This helped her very much in getting along. It was something new, and we thought it quite an invention. Mother had but one room, and father thought he would build an addition at the west end of our house, as the chimney was on the east end. He built it with a shed roof. The lower floor was made of boards, the upper floor of shakes. These were gotten out long enough to reach from beam to beam and they were lapped and nailed fast.
This room had one window on the west, and a door on the east, which led into the front room. In one corner stood a bed surrounded by curtains as white as snow; this mother called her spare-day bed. Two chests and a few chairs completed the furniture of this room; it was mother's sitting room and parlor. I remember well how pleased she was when she got a rag-carpet to cover the floor.
Now I have in my mind's eye a view of my mother's front room. Ah! there is the door on the south with its wooden latch and leather string. East of the door is a window, and under it stands a wooden bench, with a water pail on it; at the side of the window hangs the tin dipper. In the corner beyond this stands the ladder, the top resting on one side of an opening through which we entered the chamber. In the centre of the east end burned the cheerful fire, at the left stood a kettle, pot and bread-kettle, a frying pan (with its handle four feet long) and griddle hung over them. Under the north window stood a table with its scantling legs, crossed, and its whitewood board top, as white as hands and ashes could scour it. Farther on, in the north-west corner stood mother's bed, with a white sheet stretched on a frame made for that purpose, over it, and another at the back and head. On the foot and front of the frame were pinned calico curtains with roses and rosebuds and little birds, some perched on a green vine that ran through the print, others on the wing, flying to and from their straw colored nests. These curtains hung, oh, how gracefully, around that bed! They were pinned back a little at the front, revealing a blue and white coverlet, of rare workmanship. In the next and last corner stood the family cupboard. The top shelves were filled with dishes, which mother brought from the state of New York. They were mostly blue and white, red and white and there were some on the top shelf which the children called their "golden edged dishes."
The bottom of the cupboard was inclosed; by opening two small doors I could look in. I found not there the luxuries of every clime, but what was found there was eaten with as much relish as the most costly viands would be now. It was a place I visited often. In hooks attached to a beam overhead hung two guns which were very frequently used. A splint broom and five or six splint bottomed chairs constituted nearly all the furniture of this room. Before that cheerful fire in one of those chairs, often sat one making and mending garments, little and big. This she did with her own hands, never having heard of a sewing machine, as there were none in existence then. She had to make every stitch with her fingers. We were not so fortunate as the favored people of ancient times; our garments would wax old.
Mother made a garment for father to work in which he called his frock. It was made of linen cloth that she brought from the State of New York. It was like a shirt only the sleeves were short. They reached half way to his elbows. This he wore, in place of a shirt, when working hard in warm weather. Southeast of the house father dug into the ground and made him an out door cellar, in which we kept our potatoes through the winter without freezing them. We found it very convenient.
Father wanted a frame barn very much but that was out of his reach. We needed some place to thrash, and to put our grain and hay, and where we could work in wet weather, but to have it was out of the question, so we did the next best thing, went at it and built a substitute. In the first place we cut six large crotches, went about fourteen rods north of the house, across the lane, dug six holes and set the two longest crotches in the center east and west. Then put the four shorter ones, two on the south and two on the north side so as to give the roof a slant. In the crotches we laid three large poles and on these laid small poles and rails, then covered the whole with buckwheat straw for a roof. We cut down straight grained timber, split the logs open and hewed the face and edges of them; we laid them back down on the ground, tight together and made a floor under the straw roof.
This building appeared from a distance something like a hay barrack. Now we had a sort of thrashing-floor. Back of this we built a log stable. So the north side was enclosed but the east and west ends and the south side were open. We had to have good weather when we threshed with our flails, as the snow or rain would blow right through it. It was a poor thing but the best we had for several years, until father was able, then he built him a good frame barn. It stands there on the old place yet (1875). I often think of the old threshing floor. When I got a nice buck with large horns I cut off the skull with the hide, so as to keep them in a natural position, and nailed them on the corners of our threshing floor in front. The cold and storms of winter did not affect them much. There they remained, mute and silent, to guard the place, and let all passers by know that a sort of a hunter lived there. Father had good courage and worked hard. He bared his arms and brow to the adverse winds, storms, disappointments, cares and labors of a life in the woods. He said, if he had his health, some day we would be better off. In a few years his words of encouragement proved true. He fought his way through manfully, like a veteran pioneer, raised up from poverty to peace and plenty. This he accomplished by hard labor, working days and sometimes nights.
One time father wanted to clear off a piece of ground for buckwheat by the first of July. He had not much time in which to do it. We had learned that buckwheat would catch and grow very stout on new and stumpy ground. Sometimes it filled very full and loaded heavy. It was easily gathered and easily threshed, and helped us very much for our winter's bread. One night after supper, father sat down and smoked his pipe; it was quite dark when he got up, took his ax in his hand and went out. We all knew where he had gone. It was to put up his log heaps, as he had some burning. Mother said, "We will go and help pick up and burn." When we started, looking towards the woods, we could see him dimly through the darkness. As we neared him we could see his bare arms with the handspike in his hands rolling up the logs. The fire took a new hold of them when he rolled them together. The flames would shoot up bright, and his countenance appeared to be a pale red, while thousands of sparks flew above his head and disappeared in the air. In a minute there was an awkward boy at his side with a handspike, taking hold and doing the best he could to help, and there was mother by the light of the fires, who a short time before in her native home, was an invalid and her life despaired of, now, with some of her children, picking up chips and sticks and burning them out of the way.
We were well rewarded for our labor. The buckwheat came up and in a little time it was all in bloom. It put on its snow white blossoms, and the wind that caressed it, and caused it to wave, bore away on its wings to the woods the fragrance of the buckwheat field.
The little industrious bee came there with its comrades and extracted its load of sweet, then flew back to its native home in the forest. There it deposited its load, stored it away carefully against the time of need. Nature taught the bee that a long, cold winter was coming and that it was best to work and improve the time, and the little fellow has left us a very bright example to follow.
METHEGLIN OR THE DETECTED DRINK.
As will be remembered by the early settlers of Michigan, bee hunting and wild honey constituted one of the comforts and luxuries of life. Father being somewhat expert in finding bees found a number of trees, one of which was a large whitewood and stood full a mile or more, from home. One day he and I cut it down. It proved to be a very good tree, as far as honey was concerned. We easily filled our buckets and returned home, leaving a large quantity in the tree, which we intended to return and get as soon as possible. When we returned we found to our surprise, that the tree had caught fire and was burning quite lively where the honey was secreted. The fire originated from the burning of some straw that father had used in singeing the bees to prevent their ferocious attacks and stinging. We found that the fire had melted some of the honey and that it was running into a cavity in the tree which the bees had cleaned out. It looked as nice as though it had dripped into a wooden bowl. Father said there was a chance to save it, and we dipped out a pailful of nice clear honey, except that it was tinged, somewhat, in color and made a little bitter by the fire.
This formed one of the ingredients used in making the metheglin. We also secured some more very nice honey. Father said, judging from the amount we got, he should think the tree contained at least a hundred pounds of good honey, and I should think so too. And he said "This truly is a goodly land; it flows with milk and honey." He also said, "I will make a barrel of metheglin, which will be a very delicious drink for my family and a kind of a substitute for the luxuries they left behind. It will slake the thirst of the friendly pioneers, who may favor us with a call in our new forest home; or those friends who come to talk over the adventures of days now past, and the prospects of better days to come."
But in order to make the metheglin, he must procure a barrel, and this he had to bring some distance on his back, as we had no team. When he got the barrel home, and ready to make his metheglin, he located it across two sticks about three feet long and six inches through. These he placed with the ends toward the chimney on the chamber floor, and on them next to the chimney, he placed his barrel. He filled it with metheglin and said that the heat of the fire below, and warmth of the chimney above, would keep it from freezing. Being placed upon the sticks he could draw from it at his convenience, which he was quite sure to do when any of the neighbors called. Neighbors were not very plenty in those days and we were always glad to see them. When they came father would take his mug, go up the ladder and return with it filled with metheglin. Then he would pour out a glass, hand it to the neighbor, who would usually say, "What is it?" Father would say, "Try it and see." This they usually did. He then told them: "This is my wine, it was taken from the woods and it is a Michigan drink, the bees helped me to make it." It was generally called nice. Of course he frequently, after a hard day's work, would go up in the chamber, draw some and give us all a drink. It tasted very good to all, and especially to me, as will be seen by what follows. It so happened that the chamber where the barrel was kept, was the sleeping apartment of myself and brother, John S. I played the more important part in the "Detected drink;" at least I thought so.
I found, by examining the barrel, that by removing a little block, which was placed under the side, taking out the bung and putting my mouth in its place I could roll the barrel a little, on the sticks, and by being very careful, could get a drink with ease. Then replacing the bung and rolling the barrel back to its place, very carefully so as not to make a noise or arouse suspicion, I would put the block in its place thinking no one was any wiser, but me, for the drink which I thought was very palatable and delicious. Not like the three drinks I had taken from the jug some time before.
This continued for sometime very much to my comfort, as far as good drink was concerned. It was usually indulged in at night, after I had undressed my feet, and father and mother supposed I had retired. There was one difficulty. I was liable to be exposed by my little brother, John S., who slept with me; so I concluded to take him into my confidence. There were two reasons for my doing so: first, I wished him to have something good; and second, I wanted to have him implicated with myself, fearing that he might reveal my proceedings. So we enjoyed it together for a few nights. I would drink first, then hold the barrel for him while he drank. We thought we were faring like nabobs. But alas for me! One evening brother John S. and I retired as usual, leaving father and mother seated by the fire, I suppose talking over the scenes of their early days or, more probably, discussing the best way to get along and support their family in this their new forest home.
I thought, of course, we must have some of the good drink before we shut our eyes for the night, and no sooner thought than we went for it. As usual, I removed the block and out with the bung, then down with my mouth to the bung hole and over with the barrel until the delightful liquid reached my anxious lips. My thirst was soon slaked by a good drink, I relished it first rate.
Then came brother John S.' turn, and, some way, in attempting to get his drink I let the barrel slip. He was small and I had to hold it for him, but this time the barrel went. I grabbed for it, made some racket and some of the metheglin came out, guggle, guggle, good, good, and down it went to the chamber floor, which was made of loose boards. It ran through the cracks and there was a shower below, where father and mother were sitting. I was in a quandary. I knew I was doomed unless I could use some stratagem to clear myself from the scrape in which I was so nicely caught. When lo! the first thing I heard from below was father, apparently very angry, shouting, "William! what in the world are you doing with the metheglin barrel?" Then came my stratagem. I began to retch and make a noise as if vomiting, and hallooed to him that I was sick. Of course, I wanted to make him believe that it was the contents of my stomach that was falling at his feet in place of the metheglin. He said he knew better, it was too sudden an attack, and too much of a shower of the metheglin falling at their feet. I found that I could not make this ruse work. He started for me, his head appeared above the top of the ladder, he had a candle and a gad in his hand. I had been glad to see him often, before, and was afterward, but this time I saw nothing in him to admire. I found I had entirely failed. I told him that I would not do that again. "Oh honestly!" if he would only let me off, I would never do that again.
He would not hear one word I said, but seized hold of my arm and laid it on. Then there might have been heard a noise outside, and for some distance, like some striking against a boy about my size, if there had been any one around to have heard it. He said he did not whip me so much for the metheglin, as for lying and trying to deceive him. I do not think I danced a horn but I did step around lively, maybe, a little on tip He said, he thought he had cured me up, that the application he gave would make me well. I crawled into bed very much pleased indeed to think the mat was settled, as far as I was concerned. John S. had crawled into bed while I was paying the penalty. Father excused him because he was so young; he said I was the one to blame, and must stand it all. I thought as all young Americans do that it was rather hard to get such a tanning in Michigan, and I had begun to think myself quite a somebody.
From that day, or night, I made up my mind that honesty was the best policy, at all events, for me. When I went to bed, at night, after that I gave the metheglin barrel a wide berth and a good letting alone, for I had lost my relish for metheglin. The metheglin story is once in a while, until this day, related by John S., especially when we all meet for a family visit. It not unfrequently causes much laughter. I suppose the laughter is caused as much by the manner in which he tells it (he trying to imitate or mimic me) as its funniness. It sometimes causes a tear, perhaps, from excessive laughter and may be, from recollections of the past and its associations. It may once in a while cause me to give a dry laugh, but never a sad tear since the night I spilt the metheglin.
One way the bee-hunter took of finding bee trees was to go into the woods, cut a sappling off, about four feet from the ground, square the top of the stump and on this put a dish of honey in the comb. Then he would take his ax, cut and clear away the brush around the place so that he could see the bees fly and be able to get their course or line them. This he called a bee stand. In the fall of the year, when there came a warm, clear and sunny day, after the frost had killed the leaves and flowers, and the trees were bare, was the best time to find bee trees. Sometimes when father and I went bee-hunting he took some old honey comb, put it on a piece of bark or on a log, set it on fire and dropped a few drops of anise on it from a vial. If we were near a bee tree in a short time a lone bee would come. When it came it would fly around a few times and then light on the honey comb in the dish which it had scented. No doubt, it had been out industriously hunting and now it had found just what was desired. Very independently it would commence helping itself and get as much as it could possibly carry off to its home. Then it went and, no doubt, astonished some of its comrades with its large load of wealth. It was obtained so quickly and easily and there was plenty more where it came from. Then some of the other bees would accompany it back, all being very anxious to help in securing the honey they had found ready made. In a short time there were several bees in the dish and others were coming and going; then it was necessary for us to watch them. It required sharp strong eyes to get their line. They would rise and circle around, higher and higher, until they made out their course and then start like a streak straight for their colony. After we had staked or marked out the line the next thing was to move the honey forty or fifty rods ahead. At this the bees sometimes appeared a little suspicious. It was sometimes necessary to make a few of them prisoners even while they were eating by slipping a cover over them, and moving them ahead on the line. This made them a little shy, however, but they soon forgot their imprisonment. They had found too rich a store to be forsaken. After a little while they would come flocking back and load themselves as heavily as before. If they flew on in the same direction it was evident that the bee tree was still ahead, and it was necessary to move the honey again. Then if the bees flew crooked and high and zigzag it was plain to the bee-hunters that they were in close proximity to the bee tree. When the hunters could get sight of the bees going back or up towards the tree tops it was an easy matter to find the bee tree, as that would be between the two stands or right in the hunter's presence.
The little bees had, by their unceasing industry and through their love of gain, labored hard extracting their sweet and had laid it up carefully. Now they pointed out their storehouse by going directly to it when anxious eyes were watching them. The little aeronautic navigators could be seen departing from and returning to their home. Sometimes they went into a small hole in the side of the tree and at other times they entered their homes by a small knot-hole in a limb near the top of the tree. I saw that a swarm which father once found went into the tree top more than eighty feet from the ground. At that distance they did not appear larger than house-flies.
The first thing that father did after finding a bee-tree was to mark it by cutting the initials of his name on the bark with his pocket-knife. This established his title to the bees. After that they had a legal owner. The mark on the tree was one of the witnesses. I knew a man who happened to find a bee tree, and said that he marked it close down to the ground and covered the mark with leaves so that no one could find it. That appeared more sly than wise, as it gave no notice to others, who might find the tree, of his ownership, or of its having been previously found.
OUR ROAD AND HOW I WAS WOUNDED.
Father got our road laid out and districted for a mile and a half on the north and south section line. One mile north of our place it struck the Dearborn road. Father cut it out, cut all the timber on the road two rods wide. After it was cut out I could get on the top of a stump in the road, by the side of our place, and look north carefully among the stumps, for a minute, and if there was any one coming, on the road, I could distinguish them from the stumps by seeing them move. In fact we thought we were almost getting out into the world. We could see the sand hill where father finally bought and built his house. Father was path-master for a number of years and he crosswayed the lowest spots and across the black ash swales. He cut logs twelve feet long and laid them side by side across the center of the road. Some of the logs, that he put into the road on the lowest ground, were more than a foot through; of course smaller poles answered where the ground was higher. We called this our corduroy road. In doing our road work and others doing theirs, year after year, in course of time we had the log way built across the wettest parts of the road. When it was still I could hear a cart or wagon, coming or going, rattling and pounding over the logs for nearly a mile. But it was so much better than water and mud that we thought it quite passable. We threw some clay and dirt on to the logs and it made quite an improvement, especially in a dry time. But in a wet time it was then, and is now, a very disagreeable road to travel, as the clay gathers on the feet of the pedestrian, until it is a load for him to carry. This gave it, in after times, the name of the "Hardscrabble Road." When it was wet it was almost impossible to get through with a team and load. At such times we had to cross Mr. Pardee's place and go around the ridge on a road running near the old trail. Now the "Hardscrabble Road" is an old road leading to the homes of hundreds. Sometimes there may be seen twelve or fifteen teams at once on the last half mile of that road, besides footmen, coming and going all in busy life. They little know the trouble we once had there in making that road.
Father had very hard work to get along. He had to pay Mrs. Phlihaven twenty-seven dollars every year to satisfy her on the mortgage, as he was not able to pay the principal. That took from us what we needed very much. If we could have had it to get us clothes it would have helped us, as we were all poorly clad. Some of the younger children went barefooted all winter a number of times. I often saw their little barefooted tracks in the snow.
As we had no team we had to get along the best we could. Father changed work with Mr. Pardee: he came with his oxen and plowed for us. Father had to work two days for one, to pay him. In this way we got some plowing done. There was a man by the name of Stockman who lived near Dearbornville. He had a pair of young oxen. Being a carpenter, by trade, he worked at Detroit some of the time. He would let father use his oxen some of the time for their keeping, and that he might break them better, as they were not thoroughly broken. They would have been some profit to us it they had not crippled me.
One day I was drawing logs with them. I had hitched the chain around a log and they started. I hallooed, "Whoa!" but they wouldn't stop. They swung the log against me, caught my leg between the log they were drawing and the sharp end of another log and had me fast. It cut the calf of my leg nearly in two, and tore the flesh from the bone, but did not break it. I screamed and made an awful ado. Father and Mr. Purdy heard me and came running as fast as they could, they took me up and carried me to the house. It was over three long months before I could take another step with that leg. This accident made it still harder for father. I know I saved him a good many steps and some work. I am sure he was pleased when I got over my lameness and so I could help him again. I took a great interest in everything he did and helped him all I could.
Finally father got a chance to work by the day, for the government, at Dearbornville. He received six shillings a day in silver. He said he would leave me, to do what I could on the place, and he would try working for Uncle Sam a part of the time. In haying and harvesting he had to work at home. He cut all the grass himself and it grew very stout. We found our land was natural for timothy and white clover. The latter would come up thick in the bottom, of itself, and make the grass very heavy. It was my business to spread the hay and rake it up. In this way we soon got through with our haying and harvesting. We had already seeded some land down for pasture. We went to Dearbornville and got hayseed off of a barn floor and scattered it on the ground, in this way we seeded our first pasture. Father sometimes let a small piece of timothy stand until it got ripe. Then took his cradle, cut it and I tied it up in small bundles and then stood it up until it was dry. When dry it was thrashed out; in this way we soon had plenty of grass seed of our own, without having to buy it. We began to have quite a stock of cows and young cattle. We had pasture for them a part of the time, but sometimes we had to let them run in the woods. At night I would go after them. When I got in sight of them I would count them, to see if they were all there. The old cow (which had been no small part of our support and our stand-by through thick and thin) would start and the rest followed her. When they were strung along ahead of me and I was driving them I would think to myself: now we've got quite a herd of cattle! From our first settlement mother wanted to, and did, raise every calf.
Father worked for the government what time he could spare. He had to go two miles morning and night. He carried his dinner in a little tin pail with a cover on it. When the days were short he had to start very early, and when he returned it would be in the evening, I recollect very well some things that he worked at. The arsenal and other buildings were up when we came here. They built a large brick wall from building to building, making the yard square. The top of the wall was about level. I think this wall was built twelve or fifteen feet high, it incloses three or four acres. There thousands of soldiers put on their uniforms and with their bright muskets in their hands and knapsacks strapped upon their backs drilled and marched to and fro. There they prepared themselves for the service of the country and to die, if need be, in defending the old flag of stars and stripes which waved there above their heads. Little thought they that the ground under their feet, so beautiful and level inside that yard was made ground, in some places for six or eight feet deep, and that it was done at Uncle Sam's expense for the pleasure of his boys in blue. It was their school yard in which to learn the science of war. My father helped to grade this enclosure. They drew in sand from the sand ridge back of the yard, from where the government barn now stands, with one-horse carts.
Father was very fond of Indian bread which he called "Johnny cake." When mother had wheat bread for the rest of us she often baked a "Johnny cake" for him. One day he took a little "Johnny cake," a cup of butter and some venison, in his little tin pail, for his dinner. He left it as usual in the workshop. At noon he partook of his humble repast. He said he left a piece of his "Johnny cake" and some butter. He thought that would make him a lunch at night, when his day's work was done and he started home. He went for his pail and found that his lunch was gone, and in place of it a beautiful pocket knife.
He said there were two or three government officers viewing and inspecting the arsenal and ground that day. He said they went into the shop where he left his dinner pail and lunch. He was sure they were the ones who took his lunch. He said they knew what was good, for they ate all the "Johnny cake" and butter he had left. The knife was left open and he thought they forgot and left it through mistake. But I think more probably they knew something of father's history.
He was one who would have been noticed in a crowd of workmen. I have no doubt the boss told them that he was a splendid workman. That he had had bad luck, that he lived on a new place, two or three miles back in the woods, that he had a large family to support and came clear out there every day to work. "Here is his dinner pail" one says, "let's look in it" and what did they see but a piece of Indian bread and some butter? Methinks, one of the officers might have said: "I have not eaten any of that kind of bread since my mother baked it down in New England. Let's try it." Then took out his knife, cut it in three or four pieces, spread the butter on and they ate it. Then he said, "Here is my knife, worth twelve shillings, I will leave it open; he shall have it. I will give it him as an honorary present, for his being a working man, and to compensate him for what we have eaten. It has reminded me of home." Now if the view I have taken is correct, it shows that they were noble, generous and manly; that they felt for the poor, in place of trifling with their feelings.
After father finished working there, he sold some young cattle and managed in some way to buy another yoke of oxen. We had good hay for them. Father went to the village and bought him a new wagon. It was a very good iron axletree wagon, made in Dearbornville by William Halpin. We were very much pleased to have a team again and delighted with our new wagon.
We had very good luck with these oxen and kept them until we got a horse team, and in fact longer, for after I left my father's house (and I was twenty-two years old when I left) he had them. Then he said his place was cleared up, and the roots rotted enough so that he could get along and do his work with horses. He sold his oxen to Mr. Purdy, and they were a good team then.
PROSPECT OF WAR—A.D. 1835.
The dark portentous cloud seemed to hang above our horizon. It looked dark and threatening, (and more terrible because the disputants were members of the same family). We thought it might break upon our heads at any time. The seat of war being so near us, the country so new and inhabitants so few, made it look still more alarming to me. I asked father how many inhabitants we had in our territory and how many the State of Ohio contained. He said there were as many as fifteen or twenty to our one. I asked him if he thought the Michigan men would be able to defend Toledo against so many. He said that Michigan was settled by the bravest men. That almost every man owned a rifle and was a good shot for a pigeon's head. He thought they would be able to keep them at bay until the government would interfere and help us. He said, to, that Governor Mason was a fearless, brave, courageous man. That he had called for militia and volunteers and was going himself with General Brown, at the head of his men, to defend the rights of Michigan.
One day, about this time, I was at Dearbornville; they had a fife and drum there and were beating up for militia and volunteers. A young man by the name of William Ozee had volunteered. I was well acquainted with him; he had been at our house frequently. Sometimes, in winter, he had chopped for us and I had hunted with him. He had a good rifle and was certainly a sharp shooter. I found that he beat me handily, but I made up my mind it was because he had a better rifle and I was considerable younger than he. I saw him at Dearbornville just before he went away. He told me to tell my folks that he was a soldier and was going to the war to defend them; that Governor Mason had called for troops and he was going with him. We heard in a short time that he was at Toledo. We also learned that Governor Lucas, of Ohio, with General Bell and staff, with an army of volunteers, all equipped ready for war, had advanced as far as Fort Miami. But Governor Mason was too quick for the Ohio Governor. He called upon General Brown to raise the Michigan militia, and said that his bones might bleach at Toledo before he would give up one foot of the territory of Michigan; said he would accompany the soldiers himself, to the disputed ground. He, with General Brown, soon raised a force of about a thousand men and took possession of Toledo; while the Governor of Ohio, with volunteers, was fooling away the time at Fort Miami. When we heard that Governor Mason had arrived at Toledo, we wondered if we should hear the roar of his cannon. Sometimes I listened. We thought if it was still and the wind favorable, we might hear them, and we expected every day there would be a battle.
But when Governor Lucas learned how determined Governor Mason was, and that he had at his back a thousand Michigan braves, and most of them with their rifles in their hands, ready to receive him, he made up his mind that he had better let them alone. We afterward learned that Governor Lucas only had six or eight hundred men. The conclusion was, that if they had attacked the Michigan boys at Toledo, they would have gotten badly whipped, and those of them left alive would have made good time running for the woods, and would have wished that they had never heard of Michigan men. Perhaps the Ohio Governor thought that discretion was the better part of valor. He employed his time for several days, watching over the line. May be he employed some of his time thinking if it could be possible that Governor Mason and General Brown were going to subjugate Ohio, or at least a part of it, and annex it to the territory of Michigan.
Let this be as it may; while he seemed to be undecided, two commissioners from Washington put in an appearance and remonstrated with him. They told him what the fearful consequences, to him and his State, would be, if he tried to follow out his plan to gain possession of the disputed territory. These commissioners held several conferences with both Governors. They submitted to them several propositions for their consideration, and for the settlement of the important dispute. Their proposition was this: that the inhabitants, residing on the disputed ground, should be left to their own government. Obeying one or the other, as they might prefer, without being disturbed by the authorities of either Michigan or Ohio. They were to remain thus until the close of the next session of Congress. Here we see the impossibility of man being subjected to and serving two masters, for, "He will love the one and hate the other, or hold to the one and despise the other."
Governor Lucas was glad to get out of the scrape. He embraced the proposition, disbanded his men and left the disputed ground. Governor Mason considered himself master of the situation; Toledo and the disputed territory were under his control. He would not compromise the rights of his people, and he considered that it rightly belonged to Michigan. He disbanded a part of his force and sent them home, but kept enough organized so that he could act in case of emergency. He kept an eagle eye upon the "Buckeyes" to see that our territorial laws were executed promptly and they were executed vigorously. In doing it one Michigan man was wounded, his would-be murderer ran away to Ohio and was protected by Governor Lucas. The man who was wounded was a deputy-sheriff of Monroe County. He was stabbed with a knife. His was the only blood spilled. Some few surveyors and Ohio sympathizers were arrested and put into jail at Monroe. But Uncle Sam put his foot down, to make peace in the family. He said if we would submit, after awhile we might shine as a star in the constellation of the Union. So we were promised a star in a prominent place in the old flag and territory enough, north of us, for a State. To be sure it is not quite so sunny a land as that near Toledo, and our Governor and others did not like to acquiesce in the decision of the government, yet they had to yield to Uncle Sam's superior authority.
Then they did not imagine that the upper peninsula was so rich a mining country. They little knew at that time that its very earth contained, in its bosom and under its pure waters, precious metals, iron, copper and silver enough to make a State rich. Finally our people consented and the Territory of Michigan put on her glory as a State. Became a proud member of the Union; her star was placed in the banner of the free. It has since sparkled upon every sea and been seen in every port throughout the civilized world, as the emblem of the State of Michigan.
In the excitement of the Toledo war we looked upon the Ohio men unfavorably. We were interested for ourselves, and might have been somewhat selfish and conceited, and, maybe, jealous of our neighbors, and thought them wrong in the fray. We had forgotten that there were then men living in Ohio, in log houses and cabins, some of them as brave men as ever walked the footstool; that they came to Michigan and rescued the country from the invaders, the English and savages, long before some of us knew that there was such a place as Michigan. When Michigan was almost a trackless wilderness they crossed Lake Erie, landed at Malden, drove the redcoats out of the fort and started them on the double quick. They made for the Canadian woods, and the British and Indians, who held Detroit, followed suit. They were followed by our brave William Henry Harrison, accompanied by Ohio and Kentucky men to the Thames. There, at one blow, the Americans subjected the most of Upper Canada and punished the invaders of Michigan, who had the hardihood to set their hostile feet upon her territory. It seems as though it must have been right that the strip of country at Toledo was given to the brave men, some at least of whom long years before, defended it with their lives and helped to raise again the American flag at Detroit.
In about five years from the time of the Toledo War, William Henry Harrison, of Ohio, was nominated, by the Whig party, for President, and John Tyler, of Virginia, for Vice President, of the United States. The intelligence spread like wild-fire. It went from town to town and from county to county, through the brand-new State of Michigan. General Harrison appeared to be the coming man. The Whigs of Ohio and Michigan met and shook hands, like brothers, over the difficulties of the past; now they had a more patriotic undertaking before them. In union with the rest of the Whig party of the United States, they were to elect the old farmer of the West, the good man who loved his country. In its defence he had won imperishable honors. After he laid down his armor he resided in a log house and was often clad in the habiliments of a husbandman. Now he was nominated for President of the United States. With such a candidate for the presidency men's hearts leaped for joy in anticipation of a victory at the ballot-box in the fall of 1840.
The nomination of General Harrison raised quite an excitement throughout the entire country. Even in Dearborn, what few Whigs there were in the town united as one man, entered upon the campaign and banded themselves together to work for the good of the Whig party. Alonzo T. Mather was one who stood at the head of the party in Dearborn. He was a man noted for his good religious principles, and was one of the most prominent and influential citizens of the town. He was sent to the Legislature, at Detroit, for Wayne county, one term and held other offices of trust and honor. He was the chieftain of his party and one of the prime movers in getting up a log cabin in Dearborn. This log cabin was built on large truck wheels. When finished it appeared somewhat the shape of a log car. It was thought necessary to have something on board to eat and drink. It was desired to make all typical and commemorative of the veteran, pioneer, farmer and general who had escaped the bullets of the savages at Tippecanoe, although he was a special mark for them, without a scar and the loss only of a lock of hair, which was clipped off by a bullet. This, too, was the man who shared his own supplies with his soldiers when they were reduced to the necessity of eating horse flesh. Now, in honor to such a man, the Whig bakers of Dearborn made a "Johnny cake" at least ten feet long and the width of it was in proportion to the length. They patted it with care, smoothed it over nicely and baked it before the fire. It was a good, plump cake, and nothing like it was ever seen in Dearborn, before or since. Careful hands put it on board the log cabin, also a barrel of hard cider was put on board.
At this time, although the country was new, politics ran high in Dearborn. A friendly invitation was sent around to the farmers to come, at a certain time, with their ox-teams and help draw the log cabin to its destination and accompany the Whig delegation with it to Detroit. I knew one Democrat who, when invited, refused to go. He appeared to be rather eccentric. He said, "I allow that my oxen are not broke to work on either side, and they are too Democratic to pull on both sides of the fence at one and the same time." He considered the excitement of the people, their building log cabins and baking such "Johnny cakes" boyish and foolish. He said, in fact, that those who were doing it were "on the wrong side." Many of the Democratic frontier men admired General Harrison for his great worth as a man and liked his having a national reputation for bravery. They said he was an honor to America as an American citizen and soldier, but that he was on the wrong side.
At that time I was in my teens and looking anxiously forward for time to help me to the elective franchise. Perhaps, I should state here that father was a Democrat as long ago as I can remember. In York State he was a strong Jackson man and coming into the woods of Michigan did not change his political principles. He was an irrepressible Democrat and remained one. Jackson was his ideal statesman. When he went to Dearbornville to attend town meeting or election, he almost invariably carried a hickory cane, with the bark on it as it grew, in honor of "Old Hickory." He was always known by his townsmen as a staunch Democrat. It was natural for his young family, to claim to be Democrats in principle, in their isolated home.
The first settlers in our neighborhood, on the Ecorse, were Democrats, with one exception, and that one was Mr. Blare. He often visited at our house, and to tease my little brother, then five or six years old, told him that he must be a Whig, he would make a good one, that he was a Whig, he appeared like one and so forth. Brother denied it stoutly and said that he would not be a Whig for any one. This amused Mr. Blare very much for some time. Finally, when he called one day, he said he was going to have company, he could see plainly that J.S. was changing to a Whig very fast. J.S. denied it as strongly as ever, but it was evident that the idea of being a Whig troubled him greatly. One morning (a short time after Mr. Blare had been talking to him) he was crying bitterly. Mother said she thought it very strange that he should cry so and tried sometimes, in vain, to persuade him to tell her what the trouble was. Finally she threatened to punish him if he did not let her know what the difficulty was. At last he said he was afraid he was turning to be a Whig. Mother assured him that it was not so. She said there was no danger of her little boy changing into a Whig, not in the least. J.S. has often been reminded, since he became a man, of the time Mr. Blare came so near making a Whig of him.
But back to that cabin. There were plenty of men who volunteered and took their teams. They hitched a long string of them, I think twenty-two yoke of oxen, to the trucks. Quite a large crowd, for Dearborn, of old and young, were on hand to witness the start. Most of them appeared very enthusiastic. Each gave vent to some expression of admiration like the following: "The General is the man for me;" or, "He is one of the people, one with the people, one for the people, one with us and we are for him." That's my sentiment, said one and another. After such exclamations and the singing of a spirited campaign song, the order was given to start the teams. The large wheels rolled and the log cabin began to move. Nearly all appeared to be excited and there was some confusion of voices. Cheer after cheer arose clear and high for the honest old farmer of North Bend. I learned afterward that the march to Detroit was one continued ovation.
As a matter of course, I didn't go with them. I was too busy, at that time, taking lessons and studying my politics, and all that sort of thing at home in the woods.
FISHING AND BOATING.
In the spring of the year when the ice broke up, in the creek, the (pike) or (pickerel) came up in great abundance from Detroit River, and they were easily caught. At such times the water was high in the creek, often overflowing its banks. Sometimes the Ecorse appeared like quite a river. We made a canoe of a white-wood log and launched it on the Ecorse. Sometimes we went fishing in the canoe. At such times it needed two, as the pickerel were fond of lying in shallow water or where there was old grass. By looking very carefully, on the surface of the water, I could see small ripples that the fishes made with their fins while they were sporting in their native element. By having a person in the back end of the canoe, pole it carefully, toward the place where I saw the ripples, we would get up in plain sight of them, and they could be either speared or shot.
I think the most successful way was shooting them, at least I preferred it. If the fish lay near the surface of the water, I held the gun nearly on it, and if it was six inches deep I held the gun six inches under it, and fired. In this way, for the distance of two or three rods, I was sure to kill them or stun them so that they turned belly up and lay till they were easily picked up with a spear. In this way I frequently caught a nice string. I have caught some that would weigh eight pounds apiece. Sometimes I stood on a log that lay across the creek and watched for them when they were running up. I recollect one cloudy afternoon I fished with a spear and I caught as many as I wanted to carry to the house. Sometimes they would be in a group of three, four or more together. I have seen them, with a big fish below, and four or five smaller ones above him, swimming along together as nicely as though they had been strung on an invisible string, and drawn along quietly through the water. I could see their wake as they were coming slowly up the creek keeping along one side of it. When I first saw them in the water they looked dark, I saw it was a group of fishes. It looked as though the smaller ones were guarding the larger one, at least they were accompanying it. They appeared to be very good friends, and well acquainted, and none of them afraid of being eaten up, but any of them would have eagerly caught the smaller ones of another species and swallowed them alive and whole. I do not know that they devour and eat their own kind, I think not often, for nature has given the pickerel, when young and small, the ability to move with such swiftness that it would be impossible for a larger fish to catch them. They will be perfectly still in the water, and if scared by anything they will start away in any direction like a streak. They go as if it were no effort and move with the rapidity of a dart. I have cut some of the large pickerel open and found whole fish in them, five or six inches long.
But I must finish describing that group of fishes! As they were swimming up, the smaller ones kept right over the large one. I stood until they got almost to me and I killed four of them at once and got them all. It is known that it is not necessary to hit a fish with a bullet in order to get it. It is the force of the bullet, or charge, striking the water that shocks or stuns him, and causes him to turn up.
These fish ran up two or three weeks every spring. Then those which were not caught went back again into the Detroit River. Father made him what he called a pike net which had two wings. By the time the fish were running back, the water was settled into the bed of the creek. Then father would set his net in the creek, stretch the wings across and stake it fast. The mouth of the net opened up stream. This he called a funnel; it was shaped like the top of a funnel. It was fastened with four hoops. The first one was about as large around as the hoop of a flour barrel, the next smaller, the third smaller still, and the last one was large enough for the largest fish to go through.
When the net was fastened around these hoops it formed a tunnel about four feet long. Then we had a bag net eight or ten feet long. The mouth of this was tied around the first or large hoop of the tunnel, so when the fish came down and ran into that they could not find their way out. Father said when the fish were running back to Detroit River, it was right to catch them, but when they were going up everybody along the creek ought to have a chance. I never knew him to put his net in, so long as the fish were running up. When they got to going back, as they most all run in the night, in the evening he would go and set his net, and next morning he would have a beautiful lot of fish. In this way, some springs, we caught more than we could use fresh, so salted some down for summer use. They helped us very much, taking the place of other meat. For years back there have hardly any fish made their appearance up the Ecorse. Now it would be quite a curiosity to see one in the creek. I suppose the reason they do not come up is that some persons put in gill nets at the mouth of the Ecorse, on Detroit River, and catch them, or stop them at least. It is known that fish will not run out of a big water, and run up a small stream, at any time except in the night.
These denizens of the deep have their own peculiar ways, and although man can contrive to catch them, yet he cannot fathom the mysteries that belong alone to them. Where they travel he cannot tell for they leave no track behind.
It is seen that I used a hunter's phrase in my description of holding the gun while shooting fish. The hunter will readily understand it as given. If he has seen a deer and it has escaped him, and you ask him why he didn't shoot it; he almost invariably says, "I couldn't get my gun on it before it jumped out of my sight." To such as do not understand that phrase I will say, the expression is allowable, as the bullet or charge of shot flies so swiftly (even in advance of the sharp report of the gun). The distance of twenty rods or more is virtually annihilated: Hence the expression, "I held the gun on it," (though it was rods away.) If he sighted his gun straight toward the object he wished to hit whether it was in the air, under water, or on the ground, he would claim that he held his gun on it.
I said that the bullet flew in advance of the report of the gun. That is true, on the start, or until it struck an object. If the object was at a reasonable distance, but if the distance proved too far, it of course would fall behind the sound. The bullet is the bold—fearless—and often cruel companion of the report of the gun, and loses in its velocity the farther it flies, being impeded and resisted by the air, and at last is left flattened and out of shape, a dead weight, while the report of the gun passes on very swiftly, and dies away in the distance to be heard no more. I have often heard the reports of guns very plainly that were fired at ducks on Detroit River, six or seven miles away. With what velocity their sounds approached me, I leave Dr. Derham to determine. According to his calculation it must have been at the rate of eleven hundred and forty-two feet per second. It has also been ascertained with what velocity the ball leaves the gun and pierces the air. The following is the practical result ascertained by the experiments of Mr. Robins, Count Rumford, and Dr. Hutton: "A musket ball, discharged with a common charge of powder, issues from the muzzle of the piece with a velocity between sixteen and seventeen hundred feet in a second."
HOW I GOT IN TROUBLE RIDING IN A CANOE.
I often rode in my canoe when I did not go fishing. I took one ride in it that I shall always remember, at least the remembrance of it has forced itself upon my mind a number of times, in the days gone by, and I expect to think of it a few times more. Of course my oldest sister, Rachel, who is now Mrs. Crandell, of Dearborn, became acquainted with the young ladies of the neighborhood. One fine afternoon, in the spring of the year when the water was high, two of her friends came to see her. They were considered very fine young ladies. One was Miss Lucy Lord, the other I will call nameless, but she is an old resident and lives near by. If at any time this should meet her eye she will vouch for the truth of it. They came to spend the afternoon with sister.
Of course (as all young men do, I believe) I felt a little flattered, and thought, no doubt, one object of their visit was to see me. Whether my humble self was once in all their thoughts, when they were making their toilet that day or not, I gave them the credit of it. I thought I had never seen one of them, at least, look any better than she did that afternoon. Her hair was arranged very nicely and she was very graceful. Of course, when my sister told me they wished very much for a boat ride, I could not very well to refuse to go with them. I hoped to let them see with how much skill I could manage my canoe. But alas for my skill! The flat was covered with water from our little ridge to the creek, a distance of twenty rods. It looked like a large river. The canoe was anchored near the ridge; the young ladies got in and we started from the landing. I had to look out for the stumps and hummocks so as not to run against them nor run my boat aground. I had my passengers aboard and I stood in the hind end of the canoe, and with a hand pole I set it along with greater rapidity than it could have been paddled. We glided over the water, on the flat, amid the joyful acclamations and gleeful laughter of my fair companions. One said, "I haven't had a boat ride before in Michigan." Miss Lucy, who sat on the bow end of the boat, waved her handkerchief and said, "Oh, bless me! isn't this pleasant, sailing on the water!" Another said, "How nice we go!" Of course I propelled along with considerable speed. I thought I had one of the nicest, prettiest and most intelligent load of passengers that had ever been in my canoe or on that water, and I would give them a nice ride.
At last we got round as far as the creek. There the water ran more swiftly than it did on the flat. I told the young ladies I thought we had better not try to navigate that, but they all said, "Let us ride up the creek!" I thought I was master of the situation and could manage the canoe. I did not want to tell them that I was afraid, for fear they would say I was fainthearted. I thought that would be very much against me, and as I had such a brave crew, I made up my mind to go up the strong current. I turned the bow of the boat up against the current, as much as I could with one hold, but could not get it straight against the current. It shot ahead its length or more, then I moved my hand pole to get a new hold. Now we were over the creek and the water being four or five feet deep, it was impossible for me to get my pole down to the bottom again in time to save us. While I was trying to do that, the current being stronger than I supposed, turned the boat sidewise. I saw that we were gone for it. The girls sprang to one side of the boat and down we went, at one plunge, all together into the water. My craft was foundered, filled with water and went down, (stream at least). Miss Lucy Lord was the heroine of the occasion; luckily, she saved herself by jumping, though she got very wet. She got on to a little hummock on the bank and was on terra-firma.
As soon as I took in the situation, I exerted myself to save the rest of the crew. The nameless girl's head came in sight about the same time my own did. As soon as she could halloo she said, "Lord have mercy! Lord help!" Miss Lucy held out her hand and said, "Come here and Lord will help you." I helped her and my sister to the bank as quickly as possible. I had to be very lively in securing the white pocket handkerchief that had been our flag while sailing.
After they got fairly out, they started like three deer, as three dears they were, for the house, each one for herself. The way they made three wakes through that water was something new to me. I had never seen the like of that before. Miss Lucy went ahead full of life. They went through the water from one to two feet deep all the way to the ridge. There were father, mother and all the rest, to witness their safe arrival on the shore, and join them in their merry, though I think sad laugh. I knew it would all be laid to me. After I watched them to the house and knew they were very jolly, I started for the canoe. It had gone down in the water to a large log that lay across the creek and lodged against it.
I was as wet as I could be, and I jumped in again, drew it from the log and pulled it along full of water, up the creek, until I got where the bank was a little higher. Then I drew the front end up and the water ran over the back end. When it was so that I could tow it, I took it across the flat in front of the house, and left it there in its place.. Then I went in the house. They had coined a brand new title for me; they called me "Captain." They said I had come near drowning my passengers. Mother said it was not safe for young ladies to ride with me on the water. Father said, he thought I was not much of a sailor, that I did not understand navigation; and I made up my mind that he was correct, that I was not much of a water-man.
OUR CLEARING AND THE FIRST RAILROAD CARS IN 1838.
Our prospects began to brighten a little, and it is needless for me to attempt to describe what our feelings were, when we got a strip of the primeval forest cleared away. Our clearing now extended across the two lots, being half a mile east and west. It was about eighty rods wide on the west side, running this width to the east a little over half way, and it was forty or fifty rods wide on the east line. It contained about sixty acres mostly logged and cleared off, but a few logs remained lying on some of it.
We had burned the wood all up on the ground, as there was no market for it, it was worthless. We burned up out of our way enough timber to have made five thousand cords of cordwood. Father's big ax, which he brought from the State of New York, and mine, by striking innumerable blows, had been worn out long before this strip was cleared. The heavy, resounding blows of those axes had been heard, and before them many trees had fallen. They stood before the blows and trembled and swayed to and fro and at last fell with a thundering crash, to the earth, to rise no more. Some of their bodies broken, their limbs broken off, wounded and bruised, and stripped of their beautiful foliage. The noise of their fall and the force with which they struck the earth made the ground tremble and shake, and let the neighbors know that father and I were chopping, and that we were slaying the timber.
The grand old forest was melting away. The sides of many a tree had been cleft, and the chips bursted out, and they had disappeared all but their stumps. The timber was tall, I cut one whitewood that was about a foot through at the butt, and measured eighty-three feet to a limb. It ran up as straight as a liberty pole. I think our large timber was about one hundred feet high. It was, to me, a little singular that the smaller timber should run up so tall, equally as high as the large timber. All appeared anxious to look at the sun, bask their green tops in his rays and nestle and wave, in ruffles of green, above the high arching boughs of the trees. Once I saw them wave, arrayed in a different coat. Beautiful workmanship of nature was displayed in the growth of that timber.
It is not always necessary to peer through glass slides in order to take a panoramic view of the brilliant scenes dame nature presents, her varying pictures and beautiful face. Her handiwork as exhibited by herself is the most enchanting. Sometimes, the spectacle after a storm of rain and sleet is grand and sublime, but the effect of such a storm is not often seen as we view it now.
Early one spring, after nature had covered her face with a mantle of snow and appeared to repose, she aroused from her winter slumber, and adorned herself in a silvery robe. It was formed by drops of cold rain showered down upon the little snow that was left, upon the trees and, in fact, upon everything not under cover. Every bush and little twig was loaded and hung down its head. The bodies and limbs of the trees were alike covered and the boughs bent down under the heavy load of icy armor. Icicles, glistening like jewels, hung from the eaves of the house, from the fence rails, and from the limbs of our little fruit trees. The currant brush, the rose bushes, the briers and prickly ash were all encased in ice. From the points and ends of all the boughs, small and large, icicles formed and hung down like tapers. To the point of each was hanging a silver-like gem which had been frozen fast while in the act of dropping.
Some of the trees were loaded so heavily that the limbs broke off and went tearing down to the earth in a heterogeneous mass. The limbs broke in pieces and their icy coat and icicles broke up like glass.
The next morning the "Whirl-dance of the blinding storm" of sleet had passed away, but it had left its impression behind. There was formed a crust on the little snow left which gave it a shining coat, transparent as crystal. It was most beautiful. The sun shone clear and bright and cast his golden rays across the face of nature. The trees and tree-tops, the bushes and shrubs shone and glistened like so many thousand diamonds and the earth was dazzling to look upon. It appeared mystical as a silvery land, everything aglow and sparkling with radiant hues. The trees and earth seemed vying with each other in most charming beauty like many of earth's pictures.
It was a scene too bright and strange to last. A change was soon caused by the warming rays of the sun. The icicles, which hung down like jewels, melted, let go their hold and fell to the earth. The icy covering of the trees began to melt and fall like tears. Very soon the snow and ice were all gone and the ground left bare. Father said that he thought the trees were more beautiful when clothed in green leaves than when covered with ice though they were ever so bright. But to the clearing again.