Return to CUTPL Home Page

Images and text are subject to copyright infringement laws - CUTPL 2016

History Logo

"ONE TOWNSHIP'S YESTERDAYS"

By Edwin Corwin

XXXIII. HE LEAVES A FEW TOKENS

. . . arrowheads of sandstone,

Arrowheads of chalcedony,

Arrowheads of flint and jasper,

Smooth and sharpened at the edges,

Hard and polished, keen and costly."

... Henry W. Long fellow

LITTLE ELSE HE LEFT, the red man, not much else of mate­rial things to give evidence to­day of his existence here ... only tokens, a few scattered memen­tos. Dart points and spear heads predominate.

In Union Township there are a few traces left of where Indian villages and encampments and work-shops once existed, usually close to some lake or stream, where fishing was a productive occupation not to be sniffed at when there were yawning larders always to be filled and a populous tribe of children and growing papooses forever hanging around waiting to be fed. On these In­dian sites have been found such souvenirs of the old-time in­habitant as grinding stones, both of the mortar and pestle type, familiar to the apothecary, and of the slab-like sort of mortar, with slightly concave surface, and its accompanying grinding imple­ment, generally a heavy affair, rounded and smoothed off in the semblance of an Indian ax-head. The dart points found are of two main sorts: those used for hunt­ing and those used for warfare. They did a little fighting in those days, supposedly to break the monotony of their existence or when hunting and fishing hap­pened to be not so good.

There are other tangible evi­dences of the red man's occupa­tion of this region: broken bits of pottery, fish-dams in the rivers, the buried charcoal and blackened stones of their fireplaces, an occasional bead and piece of wampum, a charm or amulet, fish-hook and fish-spear, sewing (maybe sometimes knit­ting) needle, ornament, and vari­ous other odds and ends, gew­gaws and whatnots, the purposes of some of which are enigmatical. Just a few proofs, they are, that the red man was here, just a few memorials.

XXXIV. SOME ROMANTIC TRADITIONS

"More strange than true: I never may believe

These antique fables . . ."

William Shakespeare

THE RED MAN LEFT ALSO SOME ROMANTIC TRADITIONS. But they cannot very well be listed among the tangible things that live after him. For the greater part, the traditions still circulating hereabouts are exceed­ingly intangible.

The Indians had traditions about our lakes, in the township and near by Lake Manitau, near Rochester, was "Devil's lake," where the Indians said a huge monster in the shape of a serpent had been seen by them. It de­fied all human efforts to snare it. It was a tradition of the Pota­watomi Indians that such a ser­pentine monster existed in that lake long before they crossed the "hard waters of the north." Evil spirit, demon it was that dwelt there. Manitau, from whom the lake was later named, dwelt there in subterranean chambers.

Tradition says this, and tradi­tion says that. Among other things, it says that the last of the Indian battles was fought on the site of a native village at Wolf Creek, a bit over the town­ship line. This story at least seems quite plausible, and old­-timers say that many years ago some relics were gathered on the ground there that would indicate some sort of a meeting between Indian forces. The evidences pointed to a far from friendly con­clave.

There are stories, too, about In­dians who returned to their fa­vorite hunting ground in this region after the grand removal of the Potawatomi people to the West. Among those who came back was Pau-koo-shuck, accord­ing to tradition. He was a son of Chief Aubeenaubee. The gov­ernment soldiers had to take him away by force on the removal expedition. He got almost to the Mississippi when he escaped and returned to his old haunts in the Maxinkuckee region. Aubeenau­bee, the cruel chieftain, the wife­-slayer, was avenged by this son. The old man was slain at the Blodgett log shanty, just over the line in Fulton County. Pau-koo­-shuck did the deed, thus carrying out an inexorable Indian law.

So runneth tradition!

XXXV. GHOSTS FOR GOOD MEASURE

"O 't is a fearful thing to be no more,

Or if to be, to wander after death!

To walk as spirits do, in brakes all day,

And, when the darkness comes, to glide in paths

That lead to graves . . ."

... John Dryden

ALONG WITH THE SUPPLY OF ROMANTIC TRADITIONS re­lating to the red man of this region, a sprinkling of ghosts, phantoms and elusive spirits have been thrown in--for good meas­ure. Prominent among the stories about these spectres is the un­canny one concerning Patt-koo­-shuck, the avenger, who slew his father, Chief Aubeenaubee.

We have already heard of the tragic end of that brutal chief­tain, who was reputed to have spent his later years pretty con­stantly at the bunghole of a keg of potent spirits, supplied of course by his white, brethren. The son, Pau-koo-shuck, was taken away by the soldiers in '38, dur­ing the march westward made sev­eral attempts to escape, and just before reaching the Mississippi made another heroic endeavor to get away. In a fight with an of­ficer he was injured and left for dead at the wayside. He return­ed to life, however, and made his way back, afoot and alone, to the land he loved. Finally, he grew reckless and discontented, drank to excess, and got into frequent quarrels and fights here and there. At or near Winamac he got mixed up in a fracas and was so badly injured that he died from the results.

Pau-koo-shuck, it is said, was brought from Winamac to Lake Maxinkuckee, where he was buried on Long Point alongside of an Indian named Whip-poor-­will, who had got fast in a hollow of a coon tree and was dead when found there. Tradition says that the, ghost of an Indian, supposedly poor Pau-koo-shuck, used to come forth almost every favorable night to skip about on the water and float around among the bushes and trees of the Point where he had been buried, like a thing of life, "cutting such fantastic tricks before high heaven as made the angels weep!"

"Sometimes he would be seen," says McDonald, "in his little canoe, apparently paddling with all his might for the southeast shore, where his father, Aubeenaubee, had formerly owned a reservation, and while the spec­tator would be gazing the ghost would instantly disappear in the rippling waves, and would be last to sight. Turning to the shore again, he would be observed float­ing about as if in search of some­thing, and then, all at once, would disappear in the earth, and might not again be seen for several nights.

"The Indians, and nearly every­body else in those days, believed in ghosts and goblins, and few doubted that the ghost of this young red man of the forest came and went at will, and was endow­ed with supernatural powers to ride upon the waters, float in the air, enter houses, wigwams and cabins without let or hindrance and frighten the occupants out of their wits, so that ‘each particu­lar hair on their heads would stand on end like quills on the fretful porcupine!’ "

With the firewater "racket" go­ing at full speed back in those hectic days, there is small won­der that the ghosts of departed red men should come back to haunt and taunt the white brethren.

The noble Chief Menominee was removed to the West with his people, and it is said that he aft­erward died of a broken heart. One is prone to believe that his spirit, likewise, might have re­turned to the ancient hunting­-ground of his tribe to linger amid the scenes he loved and no doubt to bring some culprit to his knees, quaking and quavering with fear. Some of the Indians, the Miamis for instance, were pensioners of the government and received an annuity . . . for whiskey chiefly. The dispensers of rum and other incendiary beverages of like na­ture dogged the pension-bearing native until he was relieved of such burden and supplied with a sufficient load of liquid fire to make of him a whooping, howl­ing fanatic. No wonder the red man's ghost arose from the grave!