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Local Chiefs and the Trail of Death, 1838

More than any other institution, the Fulton County Historical Society has documented, memorialized, and raised public awareness concerning the deportation of the Pottowatomie Indians from the Marshall-Fulton-Cass County areas. At the center of this effort has been former FCHS Museum Director Shirley Willard. With countless volunteers both from Northern Indiana and in varying states -- including Pottowatomie Indians descended from the original northern Indiana tribes, now living in Kansas -- the FCHS has "re-enacted" the trail through several states, placed historical markers here and along the trail, generated the annual Trail of Courage festival in Fulton County to memorialize the Trail of Death, re-published numerous texts relating to the Trail (and researched many that had never been published to begin with), and generally raised public awareness about the Trail of Death and its legacy. The FCHS website, viewable here, details more of their efforts and endeavors. Without their hard work, much less would be known of this tragic event.

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Chief Menominee

Father Benjamin Marie Petit

Recollections of the Village by William Taylor

The Menominee Monument

Chief Menominee

Menominee's village was in the Twin Lakes area. His history is perhaps most detailed in its account. 

See also: Daniel McDonald's Removal of the Pottowatomie Indians from Northern Indiana (read it full-text here).

From Daniel McDonald's History of Marshall County:

Historical Sketch of Me-no-mi-nee.

The Pottawattomie Indian chief who was the central figure in the disturbances that led to the raising of troops and the removal of the Indians by force from Twin lakes September 4, 1838, was personally known to many of the original settlers of Marshall county, nearly all of whom, however, have long since passed away. In his history of Indian affairs, Rev. Isaac McCoy, a Baptist missionary, and the founder of Cary mission on the St. Joseph river, a short distance west of Niles, Michigan, thus speaks of Me- no-mi-nee,for whom the Menominee village was named. Writing from Fort Wayne, about 1821, he said.

"I had been informed by an Indian trader that on the Illinois river, some hundred miles from Fort Wayne, there was a company of religious Pu-ta-wat-o-mies, at the head of whom was one who was a kind of preacher, whose name was Me-no-mi-nee. As this man exhorted his followers to abstain from ardent spirits and many other vices and to practice many good morals, and as a part of their religious services consisted in praying, I was induced to hope that their minds were somewhat prepared to receive religious instruction.

Circumstances were such that I could not visit them at that time, but I wrote the leader a letter to come to Fort Wayne to see me, which he did about April 1, 1821. He professed to have been called some few years previously by the Great Spirit to preach to the Indians that they should forsake their evil practices, among which he enumerated the vices of drunkenness, theft, murder, and many other wicked practices. He had a few followers, the number of which was increasing. Menominee appeared to be more meek and more ready to receive instruction than could have been expected from a wild man who had arrogated to himself claims to be a leader, not only in temporal, but also in spiritual things.

At his particular request, I gave him a writing in which I stated that he had been several days with me, that I had heard him preach and pray, and had conversed much with him; that I hoped his instructions would do his people good, and therefore requested all to treat him with kindness. “Now,” said he, “I will go home and preach to my people all my life. I will tell them that my father says I tell the truth.”

In June following, Rev. Mr. McCoy visited Menominee at this village near Twin Lakes, in what is now Marshall County. It was then unorganized territory. Of that visit he said:

”As we approached the village, Menominee and others met us with all the signs of joy and gladness which could have been expressed by those poor creatures. Menominee immediately cried aloud to his people, all of whom (1821) lived in four little bark huts, informing them that their father had arrived. I was no sooner seated by their invitation than men, women and children came around and gave me their hand – even infants were brought that I might take them by the hand. A messenger was immediately dispatched to a neighboring village to announce my arrival. In his absence Menominee inquired if I had come to reside among them. Receiving evasive answers he expressed great concern. He said the principal chief of their party, and all the people of the villages, with few exceptions, desired me to come. He showed me a place, which he had selected for me to build a house upon. The huts being exceedingly hot and unpleasant, I proposed taking a seat out of doors. The yard was immediately swept and mats spread for me to sit or lie upon. We were presently regaled with a bowl of boiled turtle’s eggs; next came a large kettle of sweetened water for us to drink. I was then shown a large turtle, which had been taken in a pond, and asked if I were fond of it? Fearing that with their cooking I should not be able to eat it, I replied that I was very fond of corn and beans. This I knew was already over the fire. It was placed before us in one large wooden bowl, and we ate it with wooden ladles. Menominee had two wives, each of whom presented me with a bark box of sugar containing about thirty pounds each.

“In a short time the principal chief, Pcheeko (Che-kose?) and every man and almost every woman and child in the village were at Menominee’s and all came and shook hands. On the arrival of Pcheeko we had resumed our station in the house, where I handed out my tobacco, and all smoked until the fumes and heat became almost insufferable, but mustered courage to remain, as I supposed it would be impolite to leave the room at that time.”

Continuing his narrative, Rev. Mr. McCoy said:

In compliance with an invitation from the principal chief Pcheeko, we paid him a visit on the twelfth of June 1821, accompanied by Menominee and several others. Pcheeko, to show respect for me, had hoisted over his hut the American flag. A large kettle of hominy and venison was ready for us on our arrival. To my mess, besides some choice pieces, they added sugar. With the help of my knife, a wooden ladle and a good appetite, I dispatched a reasonable meal, endeavoring at the same time to indulge in as few thoughts as possible about the cleanliness of the cooks. In private they intimated to my interpreter, Abraham, that they suspected me to be partial to Menominee. The lad replied that my mission was to them all. They said that they were glad to attend the preaching, for they

were afraid that Menominee did not know how to preach good. On this subject Abraham replied to them that my business was preaching, teaching school and instructing the Indians in mechanical trades and in architecture; that Menominee being a preacher received but little pay, and had but little to give away. I then informed them that I desired to address them solely on the subject of religion, and wished the women also to hear. They were called; but were ashamed to come into the house, it not being customary for women to mingle with men when in a council, from which they could not distinguish this assembly. The females generally seated themselves outside of the house near enough to hear. AII listened attentively to the discourse, then retired about half an hour, which time the principal men employed in private conversation. When we re- assembled they made the following reply:

"Our father, we are glad to see you and have you among us. We are convinced that you come among us from motives of charity. We believe that you know what to tell us, and that you tell us the truth. We are glad to hear that you are coming among us to live near us, and when you shall have arrived we will visit your house often and hear you speak of these good things.'  

"The bowl of hominy was then passed around the company again; all smoked, shook hands and parted in friendship. On leaving, some of them gave their blessing. The benediction of one was as follows:

" 'May the Great Spirit preserve your energy and health and conduct you safely to your family, give success to your labors, and bring you back to us again. Mr. McCoy remained two days.

"During that time," he said, "Menominee delivered to his people a lecture. He had no ceremony, but commenced without even rising from his seat, and spoke with much energy."  

Continuing, Mr. McCoy said: " A little after dark the company dispersed, and all shook hands with me as they had done in meeting. When we were alone, Menominee informed me that he had two wives. Some had said that if I had knowledge of this circumstance I would push him away from me. 'I tell you,' said he, 'that you may know it. It is a common custom among our people, and often the younger sister of a wife claims it as a privilege to become a second wife, that she, too, may have some one to provide meat for her. This is the case with regard to my two wives who are sisters. I did not know that it was wrong to take a second wife; but if you say it is wrong, I will put one of them away.' This I thought appeared like cutting off a hand or pulling out an eye, because it offended, and I therefore said I must think before I speak in regard to it.

"Menominee at one time showed me a square stick on which he had made a mark for every sermon that he had preached. I then showed him in my journal the lists of texts from which I had preached at different times, showing at the same time, that what I had preached had been taken from such and such places in our good book. He immediately began counting his marks and mine in order to ascertain which of us had preached most frequently in the course of the year. Finding a considerable difference in my favor, he pleaded his inferiority. He must now see all my books and papers, hear me read, notwithstanding he could not understand a word. I attempted to write in my journal, but he kept so close to me that I had to defer it. I retired into the bush to make some hasty notes with my pencil, but he followed and in a few minutes was seen gazing at me.

"The weather being exceedingly hot, and we being obliged to use water taken from a filthy pond, the flies exceedingly severe on our horses, and our situation in every respect being very unpleasant and unwholesome, Abraham, who was already sick, insisted on our leaving. He said: 'we stay here, I'm sure we die; our horses die, too. Me no want to die here.' Menominee called together all his people, of whom I took an affectionate, leave after promising them that, if practicable, I would visit them again when the leaves began to fall. Menominee walked with us half a mile, begged a continuation of our friendship, declared that he would continue to please God and do right and so we parted."

Concluding his remarks concerning Menominee, Rev. Mr. McCoy said: " Among these tribes we rarely saw the men laboring in the field. The cultivation of the field was almost universally esteemed the business of the women. On our return trip we passed a small field in which a company of men were also laboring. Men, Women and children came running to meet us at the fence, and gave me the parting hand. I did not see among them a particle of either bread or meat, excepting a few pigeons which they had killed with sticks; some deer might have been taken, but they were destitute of powder and lead, and had not anything with which to purchase these articles. Excepting roots and weeds, their only food at this time consisted of corn and dried beans, of which their stock was exceedingly small."

It may be a query in the minds of many, what finally became of the good preacher, Menominee The twenty-two sections of land ceded to him and Pe-pin-a-wa, Na-ta-ka and Mak-a-taw-ma-aw were never transferred by Menominee to the government, and, were he living, whatever interest he then had would still be his. The other chiefs who shared with him in the ownership received $14,080 for their interest, but Menominee refused to sign the treaty, and never transferred his interest either by treaty or sale to the government or others. He was placed under military surveillance at the time of the removal and guarded by soldiers on the 900 miles march to the western reservation. He was at that time a man well along in years, and it is more than likely, as he was never heard of afterward, that he died of a broken heart.

 

Father Benjamin Marie Petit.

 

Village 01 Village 02 Village 03 Village 04Village 05  

Above (from left): 1. Artist's rendition of the village of Chief Menominee at Twin Lakes, known to the Native Indians as Chi-Chi-Pe Ou-Ti-Pe. Visible is a Catholic priest (possibly Father Petit) greeting one of the Indians at the chapel in the village, which was burned down by U.S. soldiers at the outset of the Trail of Death. This image is from Otho Winger's 1939 book, The Potawatomi Indians.

2-3. A marker, affixed to a boulder, designates the site of the burned chapel at Menominee's village. The marker, seen in this photo, is located at the edge of the Kiwanis Children's camp just west of Peach Road, at the site of the chapel itself. The boulder's inscription: "Menominee Chapel, Chi-Chi-Pe Ou-Ti-Pe, erected by Rev. Theo. Badin, first Catholic priest ordained in the United States, 1793, Succeeded by Rev. Louis De Selle, 1832-1837 and by Rev. Benj. Petit, 1837-1838, when the Indians were removed and the chapel closed."

4. "Site of  Mission at Twin Lakes," an artist's rendition from Jacob Platt Dunn's 1908 book, True Indian Stories.

5. A sketch of Fr. Benjamin Petit, the French priest who converted the Menominee village and lobbied to leave the Indians at their home at Twin Lakes.

The Catholic missionary, Rev. Father Petit, who was in charge of the chapel at the time of the removal of the Indians from Twin lakes, was a remarkable character and performed a prominent part during that exciting period. He was born in France, and was about twenty-five years old at the time of his ministrations, which began probably in the summer of 1837 and ended in September 1838, when the Indians were driven away. This ardent, youthful spirit evinced an intense enthusiasm from first to last in the work of his chosen field, and in an outburst of fervency he tells something of his feelings and ministrations. "How I love these children of mine," he exclaimed, "and what pleasure it is for me to find myself amongst them. There are now from one thousand to two thousand Christians.

Could you see the little children, when I enter a cabin, crowding around me and climbing on my knees-the father and Mother making the sign of the cross in pious recollection, and then coming with a confiding smile on their faces to shake hands with me, you could not but love them as I do." Again he said: "When I am traveling in the woods, if I perceive an Indian hut, or even an abandoned encampment, I find my heart beat with joy. If I discover any Indians on my road, all my fatigue is forgotten, and when their smiles greet me at a distance I feel as if I were in the midst of my own family." This was at Twin lakes, six miles southwest of Plymouth, then known as "Chi-chi-pe Ou-te-pe."

Of the chapel exercises he gave the following interesting account:

"At sunrise the first peal was rung; then you might see the savages moving along the paths of the forest and the borders of the lakes; when they were assembled the second peal was rung. The catechist then, in an animated manner, gave the substance of the sermon preached the evening before; a chapter of the catechism was read, and morning prayers were recited. I then said mass, the congregation singing hymns the while; after which I preached, my sermon being translated as I proceeded by a respectable French lady seventy-two years old, who has devoted herself to the missions in the capacity of interpreter. The sermon was followed by a pater and ave, after which the congregation sang a hymn to Our Lady, and quietly dispersed. The next thing was confession, which lasted till evening, and sometimes was resumed after supper. At sunset the natives again assembled for catechism, followed by an exhortation and evening prayers, which finished with a hymn to Our Lady. I then gave them my benediction -the benediction of poor Benjamin. Many practice frequent communion. In the first three weeks of my pastorate I baptized eighteen adults and blessed nine marriages."

 All agree in saying that an indefatigable and burning zeal never was seen under more amiable and graceful form than in Rev. Father Petit. He had literally become a sort of idol among his beloved savages, whose frankness and childlike simplicity delighted him. In 1838 he wrote as follows: "Here I am in my Indian church of Chi-chi-pe Ou-ti-pe (Chapel at Twin lakes). How I love my children and delight in being among them." Speaking .of the Indian chapel at Twin lakes, he said: "Now my cherished place of residence is in my Indian village (Menominee village); here I have a grand habitation, built of entire logs, placed one above the other; in more than one place we can see daylight through the walls. My fireplace is large enough to contain a quarter of a cord of wood. I have no carpet and the boards of my 'floor are so slightly fastened that they yield to the pressure of the foot like the keys of the piano to the musician's fingers."

 Just before the removal of the Indians, while preparations were being made for that sad event, he wrote:

"One morning I said mass, and immediately afterward we began removing all the ornaments from my dear little church. At the moment of my departure I assembled all my children to speak to them for the last time. I wept and my auditors sobbed aloud; it was indeed a heart-rending sight, and over our dying mission we prayed for the success of those they would establish in their new hunting grounds. We then with one accord sang, '0, Virgin, we place our confidence in Thee.' It was often interrupted by sobs, and but few voices were able to finish it, I then left them."

Bishop Brute, of Vincennes; visited Menominee village in 1836 and described the village and the chapel as follows: " A large number of the Indian huts are built around the chapel, which is constructed of logs with the bark on, with a cross erected behind and rising above it, and filled with rudely made benches. The Indians begin and end their work without hammer, saw or nails, the ax being their only implement, and bits of skin or bark: serving to fasten the pieces together. The room of the missionary is over the chapel, the floor of the one forming the ceiling of the other. A ladder in the corner leads to it, and his furniture consists, as did that of the prophets, of a table and chair and a bed, or rather a hammock swung on ropes. Around the room are his books and the trunks, which contain the articles used in his chapel as well as his own apparel. He spends his life with his good people, sharing their corn and meat, with water as his drink, as all Catholic Indians are forbidden to touch that which is the bane of their race, and he would encourage 'them with his example."  

PetitLINKS: MORE ON FR. BENJAMIN PETIT

Note: Fr. Petit's letters of petition to prevent the removal of the Indians were published by the Indiana Historical Society in 1941 under the title, "Trail of Death: Letters of Benjamin Marie Petit." The book is out of print, but may be borrowed from several Indiana libraries.

 One of Father Petit's letters to Bishop Brute about the Indians and their removal, from the Indiana Historical Society's website, here. (The letter is 10 pages; be sure to click the other pages at left

From Notre Dame's website, a photo and history of the log cabin chapel at ND, a replica of the Menominee Chapel. Fr. Benjamin Petit's remains are buried under the log chapel at Notre Dame. Click here.

From Notre Dame's History, on the Indian Missions here.

And more from Notre Dame on Fr. Petit here

Fulton County Historical Society on Fr. Petit and the Trail of Death here

Recollections of the Village by Rev. Warren Taylor.  

Rev. Warren Taylor was one of the early pioneers, having settled here about the time of the organization of the county in 1836. He was an itinerant Wesleyan Methodist preacher, and divided his time between farming, preaching and writing' his recollections of early times. He wrote with great care, from personal knowledge so far as was possible, and in his sketch of the Pottawattomie Indians in this part of the country it will be observed that where he does not know, he says "probably," or "it is said," or "it is reported," etc. His paper on this subject is as follows:  

When the first white settlers came to Marshall county they found within its bounds a somewhat numerous branch of the Pottawattomie tribe of Indians, These Indians were divided into bands, the most or all of which by the treaty of 1832 obtained reserves. The largest of these reserves were those of Aub-be-naub-bee and Me-no-mi-nee. The first was situated west of the Michigan road, and in the southern part of the county, extending perhaps into the county of Fulton.

Me-no-mi-nee reserve embraced a region of country southwest of Plymouth, its northeastern corner being near the western border of the town, These two reserves contained twenty or thirty sections each, The reserves of Ben-ack, Nis-wau-gee and Quash-qua were much smaller, each of them containing two or three sections, The two latter lay on the east side of Maxinkuckee lake; the former was situated on the Tippecanoe river in the southeastern part of the county.

The Indian bands above mentioned while living in this region had several villages. The Aub-be-nau-bee village was on or near the southern line of the county, and about five miles west of the Michigan road. From three to four miles to the southwest of Plymouth in the neighborhood of the Twin lakes was a settlement of the Me-no-mi-nee band, which contained near 100 wigwams. Around and among the wigwams were partly cleared fields from which the Indians raised considerable quantities of corn. This settlement was partly on the north side of the Twin lakes, and extended over one or two sections. The Ben-ack village was near the Tippecanoe River and about five miles south of the town of Bourbon. There was also a village on the Roberts prairie four miles southeast of Plymouth, and one at the Taber farm, about four miles south, on the Michigan road, which was called Pash-po, from its principal chief.

The Pottawattomies were formerly a powerful tribe, inhabiting the northern part of Indiana, the southern part of Michigan, and the northeastern part of Illinois. In the early history of Indiana they were said to be for several years hostile to whites. It is said that a detachment of the Pottawattomies was on the way to oppose Harrison when that general approached the Prophet's town near the mouth of the Tippecanoe river. But before they could reach the scene of action the battle of Tippecanoe had been fought, and the Prophet's warriors had been defeated. It is reported, too, that, after the battle, the Indians retreated to a spot a few miles to the west or southwest of the present village of Marmont (now Culver) in Union township, which was so surrounded with marshes as to be almost inaccessible. During the last war with Great Britain the Pottawattomies were probably engaged with Tecumseh against the United States. In 1812 a detachment of the United States army marched from Fort Wayne and destroyed a large Pottawattomie village on the Elkhart River. Soon after the death of Tecumseh peace was declared with the Pottawattomies, the Miamis, and some other tribes inhabiting the Northwest Territory. In 1832 the infant settlements of La Forte South Bend, and Niles strongly feared that the Pottawattomies, with whom they were surrounded, would espouse the cause of Black Hawk and wage, if possible, against the white settlers a war of extermination. These fears, however, appear to have been unfounded. These facts have been mentioned because they belong to the history of the Pottawattomies, and with a branch of this tribe the early history of Marshall County is intimately connected.

The great mass of the Pottawattomie nation had embraced the Catholic religion long, perhaps before, the settlement of northern Indiana by the whites.  Indian missionaries had been among them and among many other tubes of the Mississippi valley. In some of the villages in this region, the Sabbath was observed as a day of worship. Many of our old citizens can recollect the time when they attended Indian meetings at the chapel on the Menominee reserve. This chapel, which was of good size and built of hewed logs, occupied a beautiful site on the north bank of the Twin lakes. The Indians who attended these meetings generally formed large congregations, and their behavior during services was very exemplary. Generally these meetings were conducted by ministers of their own nation, but occasionally French clergymen were present and took the lead.

The demeanor of the Indians toward the white settlers was with few exceptions peaceable and friendly. A few of them had received an English education, and many of them were able to read books that had been translated into their language. In dress they had partly adopted the habits of the whites: Occasionally individuals would be seen dressed in fine broadcloth, which was made up in fashionable style. Such would; however, affix to their garments more or less of the fantastic ornaments, which characterize the dress of an Indian.

It has been observed that the Pottawattomies in this region were generally peaceable in their demeanor. All, however, did not possess this spirit. (Mr. Taylor then relates the tragic end of Au-bee-nau-bee practically as recorded in another place in this history. - EDITOR.)  

It has been observed that the Indians by the treaty of 1832 obtained within the county several reserves. Something like; three years afterwards Col. A. a. Pepper, agent for the United States, held a council with the Indians for the purchase of the above mentioned reserves, which council was held, according to some, at the Pottawattomie mills, about one mile east of Rochester, and according to others on the Tippecanoe river, about two miles above the crossing of the Michigan road north of Rochester. The purchase was affected, but whether fairly or otherwise has been a matter of considerable dispute. Many of the Indians were

 extremely dissatisfied with the result of the treaty, maintaining that a few individuals had consented to the purchase; that the wishes of the great mass of the owners had not been consulted. By this treaty the Indians obtained a tract of land in the then territory of Kansas, and perhaps something besides in the shape of an annuity. The news of this purchase soon brought to these reserves many white settlers, who were called, squatters, as the lands were not then in market. The settlers would build a house and sometimes make a small improvement upon the quarter section, which they wished to secure. This was considered as establishing their claim. During the years 1836 and 1837 the most of the Au-bee-nau-bee and Menominee reserves were in this way taken up. The Indians who still lived upon the grounds regarded these settlers as intruders. Disputes frequently took place between them, but none of them, it is believed, terminated seriously. About this time congress passed a preemption law, which secured 160 acres at $1.25 per acre, to all actual settlers upon United States lands, if these lands were paid for within a specified time. The settlers of our reserves were included within the provisions of this act, and most of them succeeded in paying for their claims.  

Those who may be interested in knowing all the facts in relation to this unfortunate affair are referred to the article in this work entitled "Removal of the Pottawattomie Indians from Northern Indiana"; and also to an article, "A Monument to the Pottawattomie Indians." 

VIII. RECOLLECTIONS OF THE OLD INDIAN CHAPEL.

Pottawattomie Chief, Simon Pokagon, prior to his death, at the request of the writer, prepared an address to be delivered at a proposed Fourth of July celebration at Menominee village several years ago, which owing to unforeseen circumstances was not held. The address was sent to the writer and is given here as the recollection of the old chief concerning the chapel and the occurrences that took place there about the time of the removal. Among other things he said

"We enjoyed our church at Menominee village several years, but in 1837 we received word that our priest wished to meet us at the chapel at Twin lakes. Cheerfully we obeyed the summons, but instead of meeting there as we supposed, the soldiers of the Cross, we were confronted with the soldiers of the United States armed with bayonets and guns. As our people entered the church, the door was closed behind them, that none without might suspect the fate of those from within, and so we entered as lambs to the slaughter for the last time. Some of you perhaps remember the sad stories of our wrongs, and how our fathers most solemnly declared so long as they lived that the treaty by which that part of the state was claimed by the United States was a base forgery on the part of the government agents who were paid large sums of money to procure the title. Hence we refused to give up our homes and go to an unknown land.

" And here the government made a second mistake on the same line by letting the job to unscrupulous men to remove us by force, if necessary, for which they were to be paid fifty dollars per head. Packed within the little church our people were tied and handcuffed. The stoutest braves, those who had never known fear, when they thought of the cruelties and injustice that was being dealt out to them, gave up in despair and wept like children. In vain they begged and prayed not to be forced from the home of their childhood. Some were packed into wagons like sheep for market, while others were chained as criminals together and marched off on double quick, not even being permitted to see friends or relatives left at home.

" As they were marched across the plains, under the hot, blazing sun, wolves in the distance followed in the rear, like carrion crows, to feed upon the fallen. Some of you must remember from well authenticated reports how, on the long and weary march towards the setting sun, from fatigue and want of water, children, old men and women expiring fell; how infants untimely born, clasped in their mother's arms, together with them died and were left half buried on the plains, the prey of vultures and of wolves.

"Let us look away from the blood-stained trails our fathers and mothers trod as they were shamefully pushed into banishment, and consider the broken families who were here left behind-robbed, in the house of God, of sons, husbands and fathers. These, on hearing the sad news, as affrighted young partridges hid themselves in thickets and in swamps until all seemed quiet, when in the night time, as deer before dogs, they fled from the homes of their childhood, beyond the land of freedom, unto the king's land beyond the great lakes. Oh, how the hearts of these exiles from kindred homes and native land wept as they went forth from the lovely land of game to a place they knew not, to return no more! Think of it! And all of this was done by a people who had declared to the world to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuits of happiness is the God-given right of every human being. I wondered in my boyhood days how a Christian people could do such acts of cruelty and yet teach that all men are brothers, and that God is the Father of all. But in after years I learned that all misunderstanding made in contracts made between the two races, and all the wrongs suffered in consequence, had their origin almost entirely in that accursed drink more to be dreaded than a mad dog's and a rattlesnake's bite. In fact, its sting is death yes, moral death to the red man. I will repeat it: its bite is death to the white man too.

" And now, farewell. Remember the words I have spoken in weakness and in soberness and truth, and that, by reason of old age, envy, malice, hatred and revenge have long since faded from my heart, and my words should be received with as much weight as the confession of a dying man; for already with one hand 1 have pulled the latchstring of time and one foot is now passing over the threshold of the open door of the wigwam of life into that better land beyond. Soon I will stand in the presence of the Great Spirit and shall there plead with him in heaven as I have pleaded with him on earth that he will lead those by the hand who have so bravely fought against that old dragon, the destroyer of your children and ours, and lead them on to glorious victory."

X. A MONUMENT TO THE POTTAWATTOMIE INDIANS.

Menominee StatueIn 1905 the writer of this history was elected a member of the Indiana legislature from Marshall County, and in the session of 1905 introduced a bill appropriating $2500 for the erection of a monument to Menominee and his band of 859 Pottawattomie Indians who were driven away by the state of Indiana west of the Missouri river in 1838, and for the rebuilding of the old Indian chapel at Twin Lakes, in Marshall County. The bill – House Bill No 37 – was referred to the committee on ways and means, who, in a spasm of reform, recommended it, with five other monument bills, for indefinite postponement. When the bill came up before the house for action, Mr. McDonald delivered an address fully explaining why the provisions of the bill should be adopted. As a matter of history, the House of Representatives deemed it of sufficient importance to order two hundred copies of it printed for the use of the house, which was done.

Notwithstanding the eloquent appeal made, the bill was indefinitely postponed. In noticing this address the “Indiana Quarterly Magazine of History,” published by W.E. Henry, state Librarian, and C.W. Cottman, spoke of it as follows:

"This address written and delivered in support of a bill before our last legislature failed in its immediate object, as the bill did not pass, but as a monograph on the Pottawattomie Indians of northern Indiana it is of such interest and value as to merit a place in any historical collection. Mr. McDonald is regarded as perhaps our best authority on this particular subject. He has long been deeply interested, a conscientious and a sympathetic student of the vanished aborigines as presented by the records and traditions of the locality where he was reared. And a study of this tribe in its passing is a study of the Indian question in little. The story has in it much that was pathetic and tragic, particularly to a large band located on Twin lakes (Marshall county) under a chief called Menominee. Menominee was an Indian of unusual character, a friend to the whites, a convert to Christianity, and a zealous promoter of good among his people. By a treaty of 1832 twenty-two sections of land had been reserved to him and three other chiefs. When the whites came for the reserved remnants (as they always did) Menominee declined to be tractable and sign away his land. As the other chiefs signed it, however, that was held to be sufficient, and at the end of the time stipulated by the treaty the recalcitrant chief and his people were unceremoniously ousted; their cabins were torn down, their mission chapel dismantled and-the whole band, numbering nearly a thousand, put under a strong military escort commanded by Gen. John Tipton, to be conveyed to a reservation beyond the Mississippi river. Amid tears and lamentations they took their departure. It was in September, the weather hot, the season dry and sickly. Suffering from the swelter, dust and thirst the hapless Indians sickened like sheep and the long route was marked with their graves. Particularly was there mortality among the small children; the ailing, jostled along under the burning sun, in rude army wagons, suffering for water and with no relief from the hard ordeal, stood little chance, and almost every day some wronged mother surrendered her offspring to earth."

In 1906 Mr. McDonald was reelected a member of the legislature, and early in the session of 1907 he again introduced the bill, which, having met with many obstructions on its way through the lower house of the general assembly, finally passed that body by a vote of 73 to 13. The bill was then sent over to the senate, where it also met with delays and obstructions. In that body Senator John W. Parks, of Marshall County, introduced and secured the passage of the following amendment:

"Provided, That money herein appropriated shall not be paid until an agreement shall be entered into by the board of commissioners of Marshall county with the state of Indiana to the satisfaction of the governor, making provisions for the control and repair of said monument and chapel."

 On the last day that bills could be passed, the bill finally passed the senate with this amendment, which was afterward concurred in by the house, and was finally signed by J. Frank Hanly, governor, and became a law March 12, 1907.

The following is the bill as enacted into a law:

AN ACT entitled an act providing for the purchase of suitable grounds at Menominee Village, Marshall County, the erection of a monument thereon, the rebuilding of the old Indian chapel, making appropriations for the same, and providing for the appointment of three trustees.

[H.37. Approved March 12, 1907.]

Section 1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Indiana, That there is hereby appropriated out of any funds in the State treasury not otherwise disposed of, the sum of two thousand five hundred dollars for the purpose of purchasing suitable grounds at Menominee Village, in Marshall County, the erection of a monument thereon, and the rebuilding of the old Indian chapel.

Sec. 2. That there shall be three trustees appointed by the Governor, who shall serve without compensation, whose duties it shall be to carry out the provisions of this act: Provided, that any sums raised by donations for the purposes herein specified may be used in addition to the above appropriation: Provided, That money herein appropriated shall not be paid until an agreement shall be entered into by the Board of Commissioners of Marshall County with the State of Indiana to the satisfaction of the Governor, making provision for the control and repair of said monument and chapel; or that some other satisfactory method shall be provided for the control and repair of said monument and chapel when completed.

Sec. 3. That said trustees shall keep an accurate account of all disbursements, and make a fifth report thereof and of the execution of this trust to the Governor not later than the fifteenth day of December, 1909.

The amendment was presented to the board of commissioners of Marshall county by the author of the act at its April term, 1907, which after a brief consideration was postponed until the May term, when the proposition was again postponed until the June term. At this term the board of commissioners entered into the agreement as provided in the amendment to the bill, ordered it recorded on their records, and a certified copy sent to the governor, which was done by the auditor under seal of his office. Omitting the preamble, the following is the agreement, which the commissioners entered upon their records at the June term, 1907:

"It is hereby agreed by the board of commissioners of Marshall county with the state of Indiana, that when said state of Indiana completes said monument and chapel, as provided for in said act, and fully pays all expenses connected therewith, the board of commissioners as aforesaid hereby agree with the state of Indiana to, make provision for the control and repair of the same as provided in said act."

Shortly after this agreement the governor appointed three trustees to erect the monument provided for in the act, thereby indicating that he was "satisfied" with the agreement entered into by the Marshall county board of commissioners. J. S. Kumler, of Peru, one of the trustees appointed by the governor, declined to serve. The trustees as finally appointed by the governor are as follows:

Charles T. Mattingly, capitalist, Plymouth.

Col. A. F. Fleet, superintendent Culver Military Academy, Culver.

Col. William Hoynes, dean of the Law School, Notre Dame University.

Not long after the appointment of the trustees Gov. J. Frank Hanly concluded that the agreement filed with him by the commissioners of Marshall county was not "satisfactory" and sent to Trustee Mattingly an agreement written by his attorney general, to be presented to the members of the board with a request that each sign it personally, This document differed from the original only in phraseology and the manner of executing It. Mr. Mattingly presented it to the board at the September term when it was postponed until the October term, then until the November term then until the December term, and then until the January term, 1908, when the board, having been reorganized, took the matter under consideration and signed the agreement as prepared by the governor. The members of the board who signed the contract which insures the building of the monument are William H. Troup, Joel Anglin and James B. Severns.

Up to the time of closing this sketch nothing has been done toward the erection of the monument, but it is thought by the trustees having the matter in hand that it will be completed some time during the year 1908 or early in 1909.

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Above: Several items relating to the unveiling of the Chief Menominee monument near Twin Lakes (see legislation and article above). (left to right) 1. A postcard dated Sept. 9, 1909, which reads: "Sorry I didn't get to see you but will write and tell you the reason and explain all. I was down to the unveiling of this monument Sat and had a good time. -Chet"  2. A photo from the unveiling itself, on Sept. 4, 1909. In the center is Menominee's grand-daughter, Julia Po-Ka-Gon.  3. A very early postcard of the monument.  4. Original program for the 1909 unveiling ceremony, which included an address by Daniel McDonald and the band's rendition of "Slumber Song of a Vanishing Race." 5. Slumber Song of a Vanishing Race, a transcription of a song sung by the Indians at Menominee's village just before leaving for the Trail of Death and played by the band at the unveiling  6. Potawatomi Indians dancing at the unveiling ceremony.   7. A  Potawatomi wigwam made of birch bark: this photos shows the wigwam erected at Twin Lakes for the unveiling of the statue of Menominee.

 See Also:

The Local Chiefs and the Trail of Death of 1838:    

Chief Menominee

Fr. Benjamin Petit

Menominee's Monument

Other Local Indian Resources:

Mark Roeder's Text on the Indians of Lake Maxinkuckee

Daniel McDonald: His Writings and Legacy Related to the Indians

George Winter's Artwork

Other Writings on Local Indians & Links