By Cheryl Morgan
OTTISSIPPI is written by local author – Cheryl Morgan. It is the New Native History and culture of Southeast Michigan and beyond that has been untold. It was inaccessible due to the complexity of the many tribes, governments, states, and boundaries. The history was hidden and scattered everywhere due to time and the many changes of names of waterways, peoples and places. It is the result of 4 years of intense groundbreaking research that clarifies and reveals what happened here and in the Northwest Territory. Now available in one volume! Non-fiction 643 pages.
BWHL will be sharing excerpts from OTTISSIPPI with the readers each week. The book is available on Amazon.com/ottissippi.
It is available as an eBook with a searchable Table of Contents and in Print – paperback.
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Chapter 6 continued, part 4
St. Clair County was very rich in pine and oak, the two most important species of timber, the most valuable a new county could furnish. St. Clair County was famous for its extensive groves of the best pumpkin pine, and Black River and Mill Creek carried fortunes to market in logs, timber, lumber, shingles, etc.
Pumpkin pine was the grade of pinus strobus, known as cork pine or pumpkin, a fully ripe timber of large proportions, cutting up with a freedom from knots and other defects and of a softness of texture which rendered it highly desirable in the building arts and in the commerce of the continent.
It was said that Black River gold, the valuable timber of this area, was the making of many men. The very finest of the white pine, in all of North America, was found in St. Clair County, along Black River and Mill Creek.
The white oak in many parts of the county was the finest known (and) was ruthlessly slaughtered. Using less than half the tree, it was used for pipe staves and butts, the balance left to rot. The same for shingle bolts, only the best of a straight-grained tree being used.
A total of three trillion feet of timber, being a conservative estimate, of lumber, shingles, and log products from Streams tributary to the St. Clair River were harvested. Grant and Burtchville Townships had the finest stand of cork pine ever found. It grew in profusion.
The following is a partial list of lumber men. Many became barons and are worthy of much more detailed biographies.
Eber Ward became the wealthiest man in the State. David Ward was the Timber King or “Pine King”. He was a teacher as a young man and a land looker for others.
The Rust Brothers, Ezra and Amasa William, were huge lumber operators. They were raised in Marine City, Michigan, and their father died at an early age. They were involved in shipping, salt mining, iron ore, and the lumber industry.
Alfred Dwight was a man of affairs throughout the Northwest. He was in the mercantile business and operated saw mills in Huron County and lumbering on Mill Creek and Black River. He went on to build dams on the Ausable River, near Ostego, and Traverse Bay, a pioneer of the timber industry. He was a partner with Smith. He improved Mill Creek and Belle River for floating timber opening up the Imlay City area.
Henry Howard, a great lumberman in Michigan, was also a supplier of long sticks to Detroit and Lake Erie. He owned Howard Towing Assoc., a tug business. Henry held many offices at Port Huron, Michigan, was a banker and hotel owner, and was involved in every major interest of commerce: the railroad, Gas Light Co., and newspaper, The Port Huron Times. He was Vice President of Port Huron Engine and Thresher Company and Michigan Sulphite and Fibre Company and was a member of the state legislature. He was known for his integrity and honest business principles.
Henry Howard was the Michigan Director of the Grand Trunk R.R. Lines west of the St. Clair River, as well as President of the Northern Transit Co. of Port Sarnia. He cut timber in Sanilac, Huron, Saginaw, Presque Isle, and Sheboygan, cutting long timber and rafting it east as far as Buffalo, New York. He invested in pine in Chippewa County in the Upper Peninsula. Henry was President of the Port Huron Driving Park Assoc.
A.D. Bennet, son-in-law of Henry Howard, continued the estate of Henry Howard Business.
Francis Palms was a very large lumber baron in Michigan and other States.
In the Haynes Family, Jacob P. was at the forefront of the lumber industry at Port Huron, Michigan and went on to the Upper Peninsula. He purchased large tracts of pine lands, making the St. Clair River famous, and for many years had extensive operations on Black River and other streams emptying into the St. Clair River. With his son, he operated a cedar business at Cedarville in Mackinaw County, supplying posts, poles, railroad ties, etc. Maintaining a yard at Port Huron in wholesale and retail.
David Jerome became Governor of Michigan after amassing great wealth. He did office work, then went into the lumber trade. He as a lake pilot conceived the idea to tow vessels through the serious obstruction at the St. Clair Flats. Eventually influencing Congress to remove the obstruction, making tremendous improvements to shipping. He went on to discover the Live Yankee Tunnel Mine in California, then went into the lumber business at Saginaw. He was a charter member of the Republican Party, becoming a State Senator. He became a military aid and was on the State Military Board as president for eight years. He was chairman of the Committee on Finance and was appointed to prepare a new state constitution. He was thereafter appointed a member of the Indian Commissioners. He was chairman of a commission to visit Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce Indians.
The following is a short list of lumbermen, though there were many, many more:
Burtch, Jonathon: lumbered at Lakeport, went on to Alpena in 1836 and Cheboygan
Cornell, Extra: the largest private pine land owner in the nation
Bartlett, Allen Luce: a huge lumberman
Charles Merrill: a famed lumberman
Miller, an early lumberman
Nelson Mills: shipbuilder at Marine City, sawmill operator at Marysville – Vicksburg. He owned land on Black River and a lumber yard at Toledo, Ohio. He entered the vessel business as Mills Transportation Company with 20 or more steam and tow barges and sailing craft. He was a partner with Williams and Reeves at Vickery and with Caleb Jewett at Cleveland, in the lumber business. At St. Clair, he had an extensive planning mill, making sashes, doors, etc. He was also interested in banking, the Ferry Company, Port Huron Engine and Thresher Company, and a resort on Stag Island in the St. Clair River. He invested in timber in West Virginia and was a postmaster, school inspector, and justice of the peace.
Smart, Robert: built a sawmill at Wadhams in 1827, which he sold to Ralph Wadhams and Henry Howard.
Cameron: large lumberman and politician; owner of a large trading center at Sarnia, Ontario, and Point Edward, Ontario. Canada.
William A. Burt and John Allen: built many sawmills in the new territory of Michigan. Burt was also a surveyor, legislator, and Commissioner of Internal Improvement. He invented the solar compass, used in mining operations. They built the mill of Alphaeus Wadhams. He invented the typewriter in 1828 and, he became Deputy U.S. Surveyor, for all, of the Northwest; his five sons, and many others that he trained, surveyed much of the Northwest Territory. He was also judge of the Circuit Court in Macomb County. He discovered iron ore in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The U.S. Government had exclusive use of the solar compass for 50 years; Burt was never compensated for it. He invented the equatorial sextant used to navigate ocean crossings. He was associate with Douglas Houghton. He was a pioneer in canal building, locks, shipping ore, railroads, and was a prolific inventor for industry.
Alpheus Wadhams – Ralph Wadhams – came to Detroit in 1823 from Goshen, Connecticut. He operated Reese and Wadhams, a general merchandise firm, selling lumber in Detroit. He began lumbering operations on Black River at Clyde Mills, now Wadhams, Michigan. About 1829, he moved to St. Clair County. By 1830, he built the first grist mill at Clyde Mills. In 1832, Wadhams was elected supervisor of the town of Desmond – Port Huron, Michigan. He was also a delegate to the Constitutional Convention where Michigan was admitted to the Union. He was postmaster at Clyde Mills – Wadhams – for 36 years. He raised champion cattle. He died in 1877.
Stephen Moore came from Maine to carry on the lumber business. He made shingles and worked for Daniel B. Harrington and Alfred Dwight of Detroit. He was boom master on the Black River. He was foreman for Avery and Murphy on Mill Creek for 12 years, running camps in winter and as a looker in the summer. He bought some choice locations for himself. He was superintendent for Sanborn and Rust on the Muskegon River and worked for himself there.
All the Detroit lumber firms depended on Black River log stock. The lumber industry caused irreparable harm to the waterways, clogging streams with silt, the removed trees, caused the temperature to rise in the waterways, and fish populations declined. There was massive pilferage; the government had no control over the Frontier. Justice seldom prevailed over controlled votes. The government, was often corrupt and poorly managed. Pinery owners bought newspapers to control public opinion.
Port Huron had 26 saloons devoted solely to the sale of intoxicating drinks. There were also eight hotels with bars in 1867. “In 1867, on the East Shore of Michigan, there were 212 sawmills, 5,209 mills men, and 10,250 woodsmen” (Lanmar, Redbook).
Saginaw had 366 saloons. There were underground tunnels, and saloons were many stories high. Here were the vilest and most depraved tastes and moral corruption. Prohibition had no effect here; saloons and drunkenness flourished. Thieves and pickpockets descended when the drive was in. There were 800 camps and 25,000 loggers working the wilderness region. The Saginaw tributaries could float logs for 864 miles. Night and day, the lake ships and rafts moved down the river in a scum of sawdust.
The corruption at Saginaw was unbelievable. Ezra Rust, Charles Rodd, Andrew Campau, Henry Peters, Fred Hall, George Bradley, Timothy Jerome, and George Williams were involved in great land fraud of the best timber at Isabella Reserve. Rodd and Campau, mixed-breed Saginaw Chippewa, made a purchase of 10,000 acres, then selling to others. The Rust purchase was declared invalid in 1870.
Federal agents worked in league with persons in lumber concessions, using unknown Indian names and dead Indian names.
Clyde Township, St. Clair County, and the thumb of Michigan were on the forefront of the lumbering era, and then Saginaw, Alpena, Cheboygan, and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and into Wisconsin.
Loggers and lumbermen who became rich moved on to the Northern States or the Pacific Northwest. Many of the men who worked for them also went on.
“European axes were used primarily for making firewood” (Metis History, www).
In 1837, Michigan had 433 sawmills, 114 gristmills, and 16 distilleries.
The following paragraphs on lumber are from Hotchkiss, History of the Lumber and Forest Industry of the Northwest, 1898.
“Black River flows from just west of Palms, Michigan in Sanilac County. It is 56 miles long. The Black River was always important; it served the Indians, lumberman, hunters, and settlers. In 1875, the largest raft of oak supported by cork pine floated downriver. It was 1,000 feet long.
The following are lumberman terms:
A mill pond held the logs until needed for the cutting mill. It was a deep pond; the river had to be dammed up. The river will widen and deepen into a small lake or pond behind the dam.
Each log received a timber mark, claiming ownership. Sawdust was used as insulation and a source of heat. Two horses could pull a load of 50 logs piled high and chained. River pigs or river hogs kept the logs moving, a very hazardous occupation.
A wanigan is a shanty for cooking and sleeping. It sat atop the rafts floated down and nudged by, cant hooks and pike poles. These rafts were huge; fires were burned on a combuse fireplace, a log frame filled with a bed of sand. The log rafts had shanty’s, on them, and there were floating stores for the loggers.
Cribs were logs that were tied together, the cribs were then tied together to make a raft. The rafts were steered by long oars called sweeps. Jams often occurred; they were very dangerous to dislodge. Many drownings occurred.
River hogs were experts at undoing log jams. In the spring, they could convert a creek into a stream big enough to carry 16-foot logs to mills. Sometimes a series of dams were used to float the logs. Canadians and Indians were the premier river men, surefooted and daring.
A peavy was the most useful tool, its pointed end a prod and an adjustable hook used to roll a log to one side.
A widow maker was a branch heavy enough to destroy an ox. The Indian name for sawmill is Kau Goosh Kaw Nick. There were many Indian and Black lumbermen. Frank May was a hardwood dealer in Detroit. He was a colored man who went from being a slave to a business man. He sold furniture stock in Michigan and Ohio”.
“Paulette Cicero, a French Canadian, was a land looker who was a cook at Wadhams, now Kimball Township, Michigan. He is said to be the real Paul Bunyan. Bunyan was a real man, said to come from Canada to Black River. His shoulders were two axe handles and three plugs of spearhead in width.
Black River was called Little River and St. Clair River, the Big River. The settlement at the mouth was called Down at the Mouth. He was very clever his skills were only used when necessary. Paul’s ox babe was white, and his color changed to blue after spending so much time outdoors in the winter (Mitts, That Noble Country, 1968, Dorrance & Co.).
Paul was from New Brunswick, Canada; he was Paul Bonhomme. His legend grew to the whole Northwest. Paul’s cook was Big Joe. The stories were made up in camps in the lake states, the tellers made up the stories as they went along, using fantastic exaggeration. It helped while away dull evenings and impress greenhorns, who were persuaded to believe almost anything. Old timers would nod in agreement. When one man’s lie was finished, another would try to top it. Rafting crews had Whiskey Jack, a mere seven feet tall. But he could lick any man on the river” (Mitts, Dorrance).
“About a week was consumed in sending grain to the grist mills. Many packed grain, to the mill, on their backs, a long distance.
Whipsaws were used to make planks before sawmills were built; it was long, slow work. The men who built the sawmills were called the millers or sawyers.
By 1690, a sawmill was built at the mouth of what was later known as Bunce Creek in St. Clair County, then in the Western Province of Canada in New France. The mill was built by a Frenchman from Montreal, and 90 years later in 1780, a mill was built at the same place by Enos Morass. His son, Ignace Morass, erected a mill on Mill Creek at Abbottsford in 1816. This mill was purchased in 1831 by James Abbott, who rebuilt the mill and added a grist mill. Judge Bunce erected a third mill near this site in 1817.
In 1749, Chaussegros De Lery, an engineer, owned a large wooded tract on Black River, he built the earliest sawmill on Black River – River Du lhut. Gervais operated the mill and sent lumber to Detroit.
A sawmill was reported for Black River in the 1740s” (Lowrie and Clark, 1832:379).
“St. Clair County and the tributaries leading to the St. Clair River were among the earliest lumbering and logging areas in the state and the Northwest. Men came and built fortunes of the forest products.
The pine was the best the world has ever seen. The White pine was much in demand, and it was easy to work with in building. The pumpkin pine was abundant here. The pine belt soil is of a lighter and more sandy nature. The hardwoods of a rich alluvial character soil affording excellent farms. The finest timber was found in sections where the soil was favorable to both pine and hardwood growth. Where pine was found mixed with hardwood, its quality was vastly superior in the production of the finer grades of lumber and in freedom from defects.
In the early history of the state, before settlement had gone beyond the almost exclusively hardwood-producing South. The mills used whitewood and basswood, which were found in great abundance and were easy to work with, found favor of the settler. The Indians had used this wood for eons in their canoes and homes. The settler burning up all the other varieties of timber in clearing the land many times.
The pressing immigration of 1835 to 1836 pushed settlement into the pine regions, and the value of that timber was demonstrated. The white oak was ruthlessly slaughtered, often less than half a tree was used for pipe staves and butts, the balance being left to rot. Only the best of a straight-grained tree being used for shingle bolts, and the rest for the worms and to rot on the ground” (Hotchkiss).
The Black River Valley was where the early commercial logging industry began in 1805 and 1806. Limited logging had taken place here very early. White oak in many parts of the county was the finest known. “Every brooklet was forced to do a river’s work in mills and factories” (C. Eastman).
Some time, previous to 1809, Meldrum and Park built a mill at the mouth of a creek below Marysville on Pine River.
Enos Morass contracted with the U.S. Government to supply spars, masts, and ship timber at Detroit during the winter of 1811 to 1812, hauling over the ice of Black River, St. Clair Lake, and Detroit River. At that time, it was considered a most extraordinary and hazardous undertaking.
A water mill was built on Mays Creek, just below Detroit, in or around 1734, and in 1790, Jean Baptiste Beaubien built a house and sawmill on the north shore of Lake St. Clair near Grosse Point, believed to be the mill later owned by Meldrum and Park. There was a mill at Mackinaw in 1780. Other mills were on Conner’s Creek and on Bloody Run at Detroit.
“Ralph Wadhams was for many years the head lumberman in Clyde Township. He employed a large crew of men and realized handsomely from lumbering operations. He was a partner with Henry Howard in the firm of Howard and Wadhams. He built two sawmills and one grist mill and kept a general store of general merchandise. His large dining room served many purposes for the community, as a meeting room, dance hall with musicians, and the Methodist Episcopal Church quarterly meeting. Friends from Port Huron coming to partake. Indians brought sugar and cranberries down the river, often in birch bark canoes. The sugar and cranberries were sold to the inhabitants along the banks of the river” (Jenks Papers/Wadhams, Burton Historical Library, Detroit, MI).
“William R. Goodwin was the minister and blacksmith for the lumber camp for 40 years.
Black River Steam Mill was built prior to 1834. It was built by F.P. Browning and managed by Captain John Brown, and then it was owned by a Detroit company. It ran two upright saws and cut about 10,000 feet in 12 hours. This mill was burned twice and rebuilt and had three upright saws and one circular, siding mill. The first steam mill of the county was built at Port Huron in 1832 by Dr. Justin Rice, under supervision of Captain John Clark for Detroit Parties, and was known as the Black River Steam Mill Co. Mill. Dr. Rice’s mill was the first mill known to use saw dust under the boilers for fuel.
D.B. Harrington, built a mill, one half mile below Port Huron, a mill was built by John Howard three miles above Port Huron. Jonathan Burtch had a mill on Black River and at Lakeport, as did Farrand, Sanborn’s, and Switzer. Burtch took a contract to furnish some of the building materials for the Indian homes built at Sarnia Reserve.
Ai Beard came to Ruby in now Clyde Township in 1830. At that time, it was in Desmond Township. Ai built the Beard Mill. In 1839, his sons, John and James Beard, commenced lumbering on their own. The capital of the firm of J. and J. Beard consisted of a yoke of oxen and an old sled, a tea kettle, a frying pan, and an iron pot. They had no money and did not own an acre of land. Their first venture was a contract to get out logs for a Mr. Cameron of Sarnia. In 1841, they bought their father’s interest in the mill and lands adjoining on time.
Great sticks for vessel spars, were drawn, by six span, of horses. Eventually, the spars marked the skyline on finished ships, launched
with colorful ceremony and great civic pride” (Hudgins). “One spar from the Beard Mill at Ruby measured 22 feet in diameter at the bottom and was 105 feet from the butt” (Fred A. Beard, Reminiscences in, St. Clair County Pioneer Society scrapbook and minutes, pg. 211 Jenks Collection/Fred Landon, Lake Huron, pg. 86).
“In 1869, more than sixty-four million feet of logs floated the Black River alone. The forests were worked until they were depleted, the lumbering era reaching its peak in the St. Clair River area in the late 1870s” (Fred Landon, Lake Huron, pg. 86).
There were several heavy pine land owners at Port Huron; some bought early and to great advantage. The greatest curse to the country for many years was the extensive entries of the choicest pine lands by a large company from Maine, who brought their surveyors and traversed the whole region, selecting the very choicest (cream) of the timber, entering vast quantities with soldiers’ warrants, fighting taxes and opposing improvements, thus throwing heavy burdens upon the poor settlers and preventing advancement. They made mints out of their sales in later years. Another outrage was perpetrated by men who bought school lands, making perhaps a quarter payment and stripping the lands during the first year, abandoning them, refusing to make further payment. The school lands of the whole state were in this manner, robbed of millions of dollars before stringent laws and careful supervision were established.
In the Lewis and Hadley Annual for 1869, it says, “the production of St. Clair County is stated at 51 million feet; Lapeer, 22 million; Huron, 40 million; Sanilac, 14 million; and Wayne – Detroit, at 55.5 million. In 1873, the Lumberman’s Gazette gives production at Port Huron: Batchelor & Sons, 8,500,000 feet of lumber and 4,500,000, lath; W.B. Hibbard, 5,700,000 feet lumber and 3,000,000, lath; William Sanborn & Bros., 6,000,000, lumber and 2,7500,000 lath; and A. & H. Fish, 10,000,000, lumber”.
In 1847, there were 22 water mills and 12 steam mills. Black River before 1840 was navigable as far as Wadhams Mill. The steamer General Gratiot, running between Detroit and Port Huron, extended her trip to the sawmill, six miles from the mouth of Black River” (Andreas).
In 1827, Ralph Wadhams had a water mill about eight miles up Black River, which ran about half the year operating two sash saws. The cut of this mill was some two and a half to three thousand feet to each saw in the usual 12-hour run. The place was called Clyde Mills, now Wadhams, in Kimball Township, St. Clair County, Michigan. The schooner Emily, built in 1828 and owned by Howard and Wadham’s, was used to carry lumber from Clyde Mills on Black River, now at Wadhams, and carry supplies back.
Fifteen miles up Black River, Ai Beard, before 1833, had two sawmills run by water power. Logs were floated to the slides above each dam. The appliances for handling logs and holding them on the carriage were rude, bungling affairs.
Half a mile up Mill Creek from Beard’s Mill was Zephaniah W. Bunce’s Mill. Mr. Bunce settled three miles below Port Huron in 1817 and built a water mill there on Beaver Creek – Baby Creek, later named Bunce Creek, afterward building the mill up Mill Creek. Which he operated until 1850, running one sash saw, the logs being floated down the river in times of flood, as was the lumber of other mills, and reached the mouth of the river bruised, split, and loaded with sand and muck, and then sold at ruinous prices.
Half a mile above Bunce was a small mill built by Westbrook.
Some years later, there were mills at Vickery – Marysville – six miles below Port Huron, run by steam using upright and circular saws. There were also two steam sawmills at St. Clair Village. These were well-handled and cut large amounts for those days. Truesdell owned one. Some miles below near Clarks Point was a small steam mill, and at what was then Newport, now Marine City, there were two good mills. At Algonac was a good mill doing custom work. All, of these mills, had good docks, at which any vessel then upon the lakes could load. Some of the products of these mills went East, some to Chicago and Milwaukee.
Willard Parker, Brooks, and St. Clair were among the manufacturers of an early day at St. Clair. In 1837, M. Folger built a mill with two muley saws at Marine City. Comstock operated on the Black River above Port Huron. In 1842, E.B. Ward and Rust erected mills, and in 1850, Dr. L.B. Parker erected a mill.
At St. Clair and below, logs were floated out of Pine River. In 1835, the Throop brothers took a large contract to get spars, booms, bowsprits, etc. They banked some 85 or 90 sticks, some of the large spars required 25 yokes of cattle – oxen or horses – to move them. The Throop brothers took a big bill of timber for a large Catholic church at Windsor. You can imagine what a time we had scoring, hewing, and back-breaking on trees 30 or more inches at the top, all the work being done with our axes. On stormy days, we made shaved shingles, always keeping bolts on hand at rough sheds under which we could work. We supplied logs for mills at Detroit and on the St. Clair, those for down the river being rafted with boom poles around a strongly-built crib of timber, eight or ten feet deep, on which were built houses for the men, who were supplied with anchors and chains, tow lines, and boats. The cribs were floated down and anchored or tied up near Lake St. Clair and towed across the Lake on still nights by small steamers, which took them to the mill booms of Detroit.
In the 1850s, mills were built at Port Huron by Wells, Davis, Fish, and Hibbard and Chase.
The Saginaw Valley Watershed area became the boom area. Many corrupt lumbermen went there and stripped the land of its wealth. The Isabella Land Ring was involved in criminal activities; there was outrageous fraud, leaving the Natives destitute. The wealthy influential in civil, religious, and political circles suppressed investigations. The lumbermen went on to Alpena, Tawas, Cheboygan, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Georgian Bay, Ontario, and Wisconsin. Most of this lumber was floated down to Detroit and Cleveland for shipment East and beyond.
In 1837, a State Census reports there were no less than 433 sawmills scattered throughout the young State, of which not more than a half-dozen, were cutting pine timber. Reports of lumber statistics could easily be doubled, as they must be taken with a large grain of allowance. There was a great demand for wood used to power steam ships. Thousands of men, many Natives, hauled timber to the docks at the storekeepers on the St. Clair River; there was day and night service. Hundreds of teams worked, hauling cordwood to the riverfront to fuel wood-burning steamers. The men often worked until 10:00 p.m.
“A cord in those days was eight feet long, four feet wide, and four feet high. Steamboat fire boxes were built to take the standard four-foot length. The Indians and farmers stacked wood so high, it was impossible to see the river from the road” (Lauriston).
Staves and shingles were another side business of the lumber industry. Staves were used to make barrels, which were used to transport various products. The tradesman was called a cooper. Two types of barrels were made: stack cooperage, were used for non-liquids, such as nails, and the tight cooperage was used for liquids, and only white oak, was used for alcoholic beverages. An expert shingle-maker could rive, shave, and pace 1,000 shingles in a day, for which he received $1.00. The shingle weaver would load his sleigh with shingles and drive to the mouth with them, where he would exchange them for pork, flour, tobacco, whiskey, boots, shoes, etc. There were no plastics in the 1800s, wooden barrels, trunks, pails, boxes, and baskets were used to package and store many useful items. Pottery, glass, and woven bags were also used.
“Many roads were built by the lumbermen to extract the timber. Roads were impassible except in winter. Horses were crossing the river in canoes tied together, their forefeet in one and the hind feet in another. The Indians would swim the horses across the river by the lighthouse, one paddling a canoe and one holding the horse’s head” (Shirley Brownlee, 1857, Sarnia Observer). Canoes were tied together, and lumber was brought from Port Huron this way also.
In about 1840, the commercial value of black walnut, walnut, oak, and cherry wood became recognized. From an almost valueless product of the forest, and in 1870, even the stumps of the trees, cut many years before, were eagerly sought. Furniture manufacturing became a huge business in Michigan.
Michigan was a very important part of the Western expansion. Many federal land agents shared in the land and timber theft, going along with schemes to cheat the government, people and Natives. Honest agents were driven off in many corrupt ways. By about 1865 or 1870, the timber tributary to the streams in SCC was gone, and the mill industry obtained its log stock from Saginaw Bay and Canada by raft.
Railroads opened up regions, too far from streams. The railroads were huge land owners and there was much corruption. By 1870 to 1890, the huge forests of Michigan now were mostly cut, the last stand of pine cut in 1894. Fires in 1871, 1881, and 1891 caused much damage, many did not rebuild.
Chapter 6 continues next week.
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This book came about after a visit to the library where I could not find local Indian History. I grew up in the St. Clair and Black River area of Michigan, fishing on all the area waters with my father and brothers. I loved books, libraries, horses and puzzles; I was not a tech person. I love to cook, garden, travel, and camp. I was determined to find and share the truth. This has been a difficult journey in every way. I give you, the reader, the truth and blessings I also reaped. Cheryl Morgan
Cheryl Morgan lives near Port Huron, Michigan with her husband Tom and dog Fred.
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