Mason County History Companion
Old Places Familiar Faces
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Would you like to help transcribe or collect information? Mail to: Dave Petersen
Russell F. Anderson printed 1933
Lakeside Printers-Ludington Michigan
Nothing in the entire history of Mason County exercises a more delightful picture forming power on my mind and the thought that formally this territory was literally infested with Indians. Often wall tramping in the fields in woods about Ludington have I picked up objects of definite Indian origin has set my mind whirling back to the age when the Redman was down; I will not, however, tried the reader's patience by attempting as describe the Indian life of this vicinity, for no doubt his own imagination is as greatly stirred is mine over the thought of the mystic Indians, and thus, he too, has a mental picture of what constituted their life.
In order to show the extent to which this area was inhabited by Indians, I merely have to referred to the findings of the archeology department of the University of Michigan, which give definite evidence to the fact that in this County alone there were 22 Indian villages for burying grounds and 15 mounds.
There is something about Indian lore that holds a fascination and power impossible to describe; not withstanding the allure of this phase of the Redman's history, it is surprising to know what little written material there is in the subject, especially that of the Michigan Indian. I wonder just how many are aware of the fact that the present location of Ludington and the area around the State Road Bridge was this site of an Indian battle in which a complete band was exterminated? This story of this indiscriminate slaughter is indeed interesting, for determine the original names of landmarks in the vicinity this story of this massacre follows, in brief.
A band of warlike Pottawatamies coming up from the south, along the Eastern Shore of Lake Michigan, fell upon encampment of Indians on the shore of Pere Marquette Lake. Though it cannot be affirmed, in camp Indians were probably Ottawa's tribe which appears to dominate this territory. In the ensuing fight the southern invaders were victorious, and to further show their complete dominance they severed the heads from the bodies of the slain, and transfixed them on sticks upon Lakeshore. From that time until later date, the Pere Marquette River lost its original Indian name of the River of the Black Robe or simply the Marquette and became known as NOT A PE KA GON, which, in the name of Indian tongue means The River with heads on sticks.
The Indian village at the extreme mouth of the River derived its name in a similar manner and became known as Nin de be ka tuning, or has translated a place of skulls. A very antiquated map from the year 1864 lists the Pere Marquette River as the Necepecagon, which is no doubt the equivalent of the name mentioned about; the difference in spelling is probably best accounted for by the fact the Indians were notoriously poor orthographers. This same map indicates a small branch the River as the father Marquette. It is of interest perhaps the this map while Serbs in deciding whether the River which empties in the Hamlin Lake a few miles north of Ludington is called the Sauble Sable or the Au Sauble River.
Therein in many disputes and Ludington as to the real name of the River. The name according to the topographer Nicholas Thelen, it is the Sable. The stream on the opposite side of the state, however, bears the name Au Sauble. The Manistee River was called the Pin River, for what reason or from where received its derivation I do not know.
Returning to the original subject of Indians south of Ludington there's a circular enclosure, which was used formally by Indians as a fort over 150 feet in diameter, with six foot banks when it was intact, is in section 20 of Riverton Township. Mr. C. E. Kistler, of Ludington very aptly describes it as he remembers it as a youth in Wilburt B. Hinsdale's book, The Archeology Atlas of Michigan.
In the spring of 1803 the Sauk, Fox, and Chippewa Indian tribes banded together for the purpose of driving the Ottawa's away from their holdings in Western Michigan. In this attempt they failed. In the book Legends of Michigan published in 1875 the author F.J. Little John tells of this attempted conquest. The following extract as taken from his book, relates to the movements of four Ottawa Scouts who are warning all tribes of the coming invasion. The extract is of particular interest, for it deals with geographic locations in and adjacent to Mason County. The Scouts had started from Grand River and were on their way to Grand Traverse Bay.
Reaching the mouth of Muskegon River, the other canoe layoff, whilst Sebewa running up to the inferior Lake, found a trusted friend who he informed of the news to be taken by him to the chief at the head of the Lake six miles inland. Again they got underway, bound this time for the mouth of the Manistee. They rounded into its mouth as the sun was setting. As sending the River over a mile, they reached a large settlement at the flood of an interior Lake. Lake Stronach.
Following the warning issued by the Scouts, so the author tells collected, recruits from Muskegon, Pentwater, and Pere Marquette River's joined a large force, under Chief Missaukee, at Manistee, From here, they proceeded to the Manitou Islands, near Sleeping Bear Bay, where they defeated the combined Sauk, Fox, and Chippewa forces, the thus bringing to a sudden end the attempted conquest.
the last chief of this great Ottawa tribe, Sogemaw, died about the year 1845, and was buried in the Buttersville area in the Cemetery indicated on the map that companies that chapter on Father Marquette. That cousin of this great chief naw-gone-Ko-Ung, Leading Thunder is undoubtedly known by good number of the older residents of the County, as he is considered the only survivor of the Ottawa tribe, or rather was considered since he has now passed to his happy hunting ground.
Born in 1807 he lived in the Indian village at the mouth of the Marquette until 1848, when it was deserted because of the arrival of white settlers. He remained in the vicinity, nevertheless, settling on a farm at Riverton, and then in Eden. The name by which he was known to practically all residents of the County was Good John. In the anonymously written volume, The History of Manistee, Mason, and Oceana Counties, he is very vividly described. He is of striking appearance, and while no longer in robust health, he is straight as an arrow, and his step is as elastic as that of youth. His head is covered with long straight hair, now nearly white, and falling almost to the shoulders. He speaks but little English, the in his native tongue is versatile and eloquent. His memory is quick and accurate, and his statements authentic. He is of quiet disposition, and the early white settlers with whom he is acquainted, he regards with that strong friendship so proverbial among his people. They have always been friends and a welcome him at their homes. His death symbolizes the disappearance of the Indian from this territory, forevermore.
Footnote: at the time of the writing of this description Good John was 75 years old
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Note to researchers, I do not maintain information on families outside of my own at this time, Your best chance to contact other family researchers and find information is going to be in posting some of your family information on the Mason County Boards. Volunteers and lookup materials can be found in the "lookups" category. -I routinely check the postings if I have information or can steer you in another direction I will contact you. I do not provide research services. Historic White Pine Village can help you in that area.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: The information you have found on this website is protected by the US Copyright Law, Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998. See; http://lcweb.loc.gov/copyright/ Individual genealogists may copy and use the information found on this website for personal use "ONLY".
It is not to be copied or altered in any way for commercial use nor for use on another webpage without the written permission of the webmaster. You may link freely to this website using the following http://www.ludingtonmichigan.net Where information has been provided by someone other than the webmaster, written permission must be obtained by the submitter to copy the information. Every effort has been made to insure the information found here is accurate, you are however encouraged to check the primary source for accuracy as mistakes are made by all of us.Mail to: Dave Petersen