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The Centennial
Oconto County

Published in 1876
Oconto County Reporter

September 02, 1876

That the Menominee Indian were engaged in some of the wars with the Indians seems certain, and also that they generally acted as allies of the Americans, but I have not been able to collect any reliable information on this point. Mounds, burial places, and remains of rude entrenchments, found in many places on the west shore of Green, bear unmistakable witness of bloody Indian battles. At white Rapids on the Menominee, there is plainly visible the form of an entrenchment, or bank behind which one party of warriors lay in wait for another who were on the river. The place is well chosen and commanding. It seems that whites must have been with them here. At Oconto, also old battle grounds are pointed out.

A story is told of those early ties, and was printed in some report published under Government auspices, which takes strong hold of the imagination.

A garrison was located on Lake Superior. An officer and soldier with whom a desire to see home had, we may presume over come all other considerations, deserted and came through the woods to the Menominee river, thence they built a raft and floated down the river, knowing nothing of the stream. The Little Big, or Bequenesec Falls are perpendicular and about seventy five feet high.--Over that fall these fated men were carried The officers watch and enough that belonged to them was found to them was found to tell their fate, and who they were.

That white men visited this region; that voyageurs came and went; that agents of the different Governments were here among the Indians; that the Missionary made his way hither, and that the trader found his profit here long before the time we have any account of, cannot be doubted.

The following accounts of the first known arrivals of Whites in this region though meager, are full of interest and rouses a keen desire to know more of the experiences of those brave explorers and devoted men.--What follows is gleaned from standard histories.

The region west of Lake Michigan was first explored and occupied by French Missionaries and traders in 1639, and the country remained under the dominion of France until surrendered to Great Britain in 1763.

In 1664 Father ALLOUES explored the southern shore of Lake Superior and obtained some knowledge of its copper mines.

In 1666 was established the Mission of St. Mary, on the southern shore of the outlet of Lake Superior--the first settlement of White men within the limits of our Northwestern States.

The Peninsula between Lake Superior and Green Bay was explored. Missions were planted among the tribes of Lake Michigan. From these tribes new accounts were heard on the great western rivers of which ALLOUEZ had been told.

In 1671, Father MARQUETTE built a chapel at Mackinaw. As early as 1669 he had resolved upon exploring the Mississippi. His desire was not gratified, however, until 1673, when FRONTENAC and TALON, the Governor and intendant of Canada having resolved to send an expedition under Louis JOLLIET, to explore the directions and mouth of the Mississippi. MARQUETTE was instructed to accompany the party as Missionary.

With five other Frenchmen and Indian guides they left Mackinaw in two canoes on May 17th 1673. They paddled up Green Bay in birch bark canoes ascended Fox River to the head of navigation and crossed he portage to the Wisconsin down which they floated, reaching Mississippi June 17th.

In September he returned by way of the Illinois river to Green Bay where he remained about a year at the Mission of St. Francis Xavier.

That he gained a very correct idea of the western shore of Green Bay, with its rivers, is attested by a map made by him and bearing date 1673. He gives the outlines of Lakes Superior and Michigan, and of Green Bay, with considerable accuracy. Many of the names appearing on his map are different from those used at present.

In the whole voyage from the Wisconsin River to the Arkansas, the explorers had passed on 2 or 3 Indian villages. The rugged shores of Lake Superior and the northern region of that vicinity, well supplied with game, fish, fowl and wild rice, could boast a much more numerous aboriginal population.

(It will be borne in mind that this whole region was spoken and written of as the Lake Superior country.)

In November 1678, LaSALLE commenced building the Griffin, a bark of sixty tons, not far from the present site of Buffalo. In August 1679, first of civilized vessels, she plowed her way up Lake Erie, bearing LaSALLE, TONTI, HENNEPIN and several other friars of the Recollect order. Sixty sailors, boatmen, hunters and soldiers made up the company.

They passed, and LaSalle named the Lake St. Clair, and on through Lake Huron, the Straits of Mackinaw in Lake Michigan and then into Green Bay, and on the 27th of August cast anchor at its head, after a voyage of twenty days, thus first tracing a passage now fast becoming one of the great highways of commerce. The Griffin was sent back with a rich lading of furs, with orders to return with provisions and supplies; but she was recked and never returned.

The explorations of the west were continued and as the route taken by voyageurs and explorers was from Green Bay to Mackinaw, the rivers and points along the west shore must have become well and familiarly known.

About the year 1794 Louis CHAPPEU, or CHAPPEAN was established as an Indian trader on the Wisconsin side of the Menominee, on or near the site where John B. JACOBS residence formerly stood, and where the Boom Company¹s boarding house now stands. He occupied a log house which would seem to have been calculated for defense. He is said to have lived there twenty eight years, when the premises were taken possession of--during his absence it is said--his effects turned out and the house demolished.

William FARNSWORTH, the new and enterprising occupant, built a block house which remained until 1846, when John B. JACOBS Esq. Built a frame dwelling house on or near the same spot. This house, in turn, gave place to the Boom Company¹s Boarding House, now standing.

William FARNSWORTH with the help of "Marinette" traded profitably with the Indians for some years and then left the river. Of "Marinette" by which name she was widely known, more should be said. She was born at Post Lake in 1793. When she located on the Menominee, is not known.--John B. JACOBS was her first husband, and their children now living are John B. JACOBS of Green Bay and Mrs. Elizabeth McLEOD of Menominee Michigan. Her second husband was Wm. FARNSWORTH, with whom she lived on the premises and in the house so long and widely known as the "OLD Lady¹s house."--This was probably the first frame house on the Menominee river. It is now owned by Mr. Fred CARNEY.

The Indian trade was long continued here, and until other interests began to attract men to the Menominee, this with one exception, remained the only dwelling in all that region. Marinette possessed good natural business qualifications, was an excellent neighbor, and kind and skillful in cases of sickness and ready to help the distressed. She died in June 1865, at Green Bay, her remains were carried to her house on the steamer Queen City, and laid with others of her family and children. From her the town takes its name.

I have intimated that there was another building. This was erected in 1833, or soon after by Methodist Missionaries, on "Mission Point" where the N. Ludington Company¹s Boarding House now stands.

The mission, after three or four years was discontinued and the house sold in 1836, to Alexander McLEOD. In 1842 he removed it to the spot afterward known as Dr. HALL's place, additions were made to it and it stood until February 27th 1876, when it was burned. This was the house where lived FARNSWORTH and BRUSH while running their mill, and for many years, Dr. J.C. HALL and family.

Besides the Indian trade, it does not seem that any regular business was prosecuted, prior to the advent of the lumberman, unless it might have been fishing on a small scale. Very early, in fact almost as soon as we hear of white men here, we hear of "fish racks." A stone dam, loose enough to let most of the water through, but tight enough to stop the fish, was built diagonally across the river, where it was shoal and rapid. This dam did not reach all across the river, but an opening generally small, was left at its upper end. Though this opening turned and guided by the dam, the fish ascended the stream; returning nearly all were inside the dam.--At its lower end, the water fell smoothly a foot or two over a timber or stones placed for the purpose. It fell upon the wide floor of slats laid an inch or more apart and with their down stream ends raised three or four feet. The water ran away through the slats, leaving the fish.

The writer has seen from thirty to fifty barrels of fish run on one of these racks in an hour. They were injurious to all other fishermen, and it seems that the fish dams and racks were an early and prolific source of trouble.

[Continued next week.]