An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
May 17, 2003 - Issue 87
French Era Copper Mining History on Lake Superior (Part 2)
(NOTE this file is the compilation of articles I have found on the subject of copper mining during the French era on Lake Superior)
credits: submitted by Timm Severud (Ondamitag)
1737: COPPER MINES; INDIAN CONDITIONS
from the yearly report of Beauharnois. MS. in archives of Ministère
des Colonies, Paris; pressmark, "Canada, Corresp. gén., vol.
67, c. 11. fol. 139."]
Mines. This year we have no Interesting Report to make to His Majesty
with reference to the copper mines. The son of the Sieur de la Ronde merely
wrote to the Sieur de Beauharnois that he had endeavored to approach the
alleged Island of copper in his bateau, But that stress of Weather had
compelled him to put into port, his Sail having been Torn by a Squall.
Sieur La Ronde, the Elder, who left for his Post in the month of may,
wrote us from Sault Ste Marie at the Entrance of Lake superior that he
was waiting for the miners that are to be sent him and he promises that
if they arrive we shall receive Information next year of everything connected
with the Mines. A few Days after the arrival of the King's Ship we sent
the Forsters, father and son, to Michilimakinac. They will pass the winter
at that Post and next Spring They will be in a Position to proceed to
the point of Chagoüamigon under the orders of the Sieur La Ronde.
We have written that officer to make a profitable Use of them, to make
them inspect the various Places where he has discovered copper mines and
to Confer with them in regard to what is proper to do for the success
of His Undertaking. At the same time we explained to him how greatly it
was to his Interest to act promptly. If the Tonnagane mine can be worked,
the peace just concluded between, the Cristinaux and the Sauteur of La
Pointe is of the greatest advantage as regards the peaceful exploitation
of the mines. But with respect to this circumstance as well as to all
others connected with those Mines, We hope that the Sieur de la Ronde
will, next year, place us in a Position to send an accurate Report thereof
to his Majesty. We cannot at present compel him to build a second Bark
at Detroit, as he bound himself to do, until he is more certain of the
success of his enterprise. He would thereby be forced to incur expense,
which he would be unable to meet and which, moreover, would be absolutely
useless should his success not equal his Hopes.
Sieurs de Beauharnois and Hocquart have received the Edict his Majesty
has been pleased to issue in favor of the Coureurs de bois. This Edict
has been Amnesty for the Registered in the records of the Council coureurs
du bois and published in the usual manner. They have sent Copies thereof
to all the Posts of the upper country so that all who are interested may
be informed of the same. They will be careful to see that the new prohibitions
against the contours du bois are enforced.
Renards and Sakis have not struck a blow since the affair of the Sieur
Des Noyelles. On the contrary they have always begged for their lives
since Then and Renards and have again asked the same this year through
the Sakis. Outaouacs, sinayes, Kiskacons [Note: These belonged to Ottawa
clans; see Wis. Hist. Colls., xvi, pp. 30, 120.], the Poutoüatamis
of the river St Joseph, the folles Avoine, and the Puants who came down
Chaoüanons must have gone on an embassy to Detroit this year. Their
departure was delayed solely owing to the fact that they were waiting
for the Kiliskouakis, Chaoüanons Their allies, who were bringing
them Porcelain [Note: Probably this was one of the Shawnee tribes, which
is ordinarily called Kiskapocke.]. They caused themselves to be announced
by means of two branches of Porcelain whereof Mekinac, the great chief
of the Outaouacs was the bearer.
The Sieur de Beauharnois has nothing to add to the report he made last
year with regard to the Oüiatanons. Gentle measures have had a good
effect, as that nation has not ceased to wage war against the Chicachas.
post in the Sioux country has been evacuated by the Sieur de St Pierre.
The Sioux struck the Sauteur of the point of Chagoüamigon in the
month of May. The Sauteur Sioux raised a band to avenge the Blow struck
at them. They induced the Puants to take part in their quarrel; this compelled
the Sieur de St Pierre to abandon his Post and to burn the fort.
Sieur de la Verandeire has come down to Montreal and reports that the
Cristinaux, assiniboils and Cristinaux, Monsonis savages started at the
melting of Assiniboils, etc. the Snows to Avenge the blow struck at the
French last year.
Iroquois the sonontouans are to come down to Montreal next spring.
1738: REPORT OF COPPER MINES
from a letter from Beauharnois to the French Minister, dated Oct. 5, 1738.
Source, same as proceeding document, but vol. 69, fol. 222.]
remain with very profound Respect, Monsignor, and Your very humble and
very obedient servant
1739: MEMOIR OF LA RONDE
in archives of Ministère des Colonies, Paris; pressmark, "Canada,
Corresp. gén., vol. 65, c. 11, fol. 173."]
of the services rendered to his Majesty by Monsieur de La Ronde Denis,
Knight of the Royal and Military order of St. Louis, first Captain and
Commandant of the Troops of the Detachment of Marine, from 1687 to the
He was made a guardsman in the Marine [Note: Equivalent to midshipman.-]
and served in the Department of Rochefort until 1689. He served with Vice-Admiral
Monsieur de Gabaret, Chief of the Squadron,
in the "St Michel" on board of which he took King James to Ireland,
and in the same Campaign, he was present at the [Battle of Bantry [Note:
James II landed at Kinsale, Ireland, March 12, 1689. The English were
defeated by the French in the naval battle of Bantry Bay in May of the
same year.], and at the capture of an Ostend privateer, mounting 18 Guns,
which we took with Beats commanded by Monsieur Du Taré
He served in the "Courageux," Commanded by Monsieur Reale; and
was at Brest with Monsieur the Marquis do Savigny Montmeron; he was also
present at the Battle of la Manche. [Note: The battle of "la Manche"
is known to English historians as that of Beachy Head, in which a French
fleet of ten vessels defeated the allied Dutch and English fleet of fifty-six
In the "Excellent" with Monsieur Du Rivan Huet, on which he
cruised in rim Channel throughout the winter, and served during the Cruise
on the high seas.
In the "Envieux" with Monsieur Bonaventure, doing duty as ensign
during the cruise to Canada, and thence along the coast of New England.
In the "Suzanne Françoise" with Monsieur Bonaventure
on a voyage to Acadia, during which he served as first Lieutenant.
In the "Entendu" with Monsieur Duquesne, when we went to the
Mediterranean Sea and captured Palamos and Girone.
In the "Envieux" with Monsieur Bonaventure, on board of which
he ranked as Ensign, and went to Acadia where they fought an English frigate,
and thence to Placentia. Here he found Monsieur Belair, a post Captain,
who commanded the "fourbe" and who's Lieutenant had been killed
in an engagement that took place during the voyage from France. He therefore
took Monsieur de la Ronde Denis in his place, and during the Run home
he took an English Ship mounting 16 Guns, the Command whereof was given
him. On approaching the French coast, he met an English Squadron, which
captured him and took him a prisoner to Ireland.
He remained thirteen Months in the prisons of Ireland.
He sailed in the "Vespre" Commanded by the Chevalier de Chartrier
in Monsieur d'Iberville's Squadron, which sailed for Hudson's Bay. He
held the rank of Lieutenant. They captured the fort, sank the admiral's
ship; took one ship and put the remainder of the Squadron to flight. [Note:
This feat of Iberville's Is well described by Garneau, Histoire de Canada
(Montreal 15882, i, pp. 368--371.]
In the "Envieux" on board of which he held the rank of Ensign.
They went into all the harbors of Acadia, and thence to Placentia.
In the "Nieuport" with Monsieur de Courbon St. Leger, cruising
along rite Coast of Acadia against freebooters. He held the rank of Ensign,
and had Charge of the Ship by the King's orders, owing to his thorough
Knowledge of that coast.
In the "Renounce" with [Monsieur d'Iberville, sailing to the
Mississippi. He held the rank of Ensign, and for five months he was in
the river engaged in surveying it in obedience to Monsieur d'Iberville's
orders. [Note: This was Iberville's second voyage to the Mississippi.
He arrived at his colony at Biloxi, Dec. 12, 1699, and spent the next
five months exploring the Mississippi River.]
His Majesty gave him the Command of the "Enflamé" to
sail to the Mississippi with Munitions [Note: The "Enflammé"
arrived at Biloxi colony with provisions, etc., the last of May, 1701.].
The Cruise occupied 17 months.
In the "Loire," Commanded by the Chevalier de Gabaret, on board
of which he was second in command, sailing to Canada, to take Monsieur
de Beauharnois [Note: Francois de Beauharnois, Intendant of New France
from September, 1702, to September, 1705.], the Intendant, there; and
during the Voyage they captured an English Ship at night. He was dangerously
wounded in the Shoulder, and was compelled to remain in Canada, as he
was not cured when the Ship sailed.
He returned in the "seine" commanded by Monsieur The Chevalier
de Beauharnois doing duty as second Lieutenant during the Voyage.
In the "seine" with Monsieur The Chevalier de Meaupou, sailing
to Canada on board of which he was second Lieutenant. During the Voyage
they met the Virginian fleet consisting of five war-ships which attacked
us and after an Engagement lasting 17 hours, as our rigging was all shot
away, and we had six feet of water in our Hold, we were captured and taken
to England. [Note: The "Seine" was a store ship of 40 guns,
and had on board 20 officers, 2,000 small arms, and much ammunition. The
English colonists were rejoiced at its capture.]
In the "Profond" with Monsieur Cauvet sailing to Acadia, on
board of which he was second in command during the Voyage, and on his
arrival he took Command, by His Majesty's order, of a frigate mounting
14 Guns that the King had caused to be Built for the purpose of cruising
Along the Coast of new England.
While in Harbor on board the King's frigate the "Biche," ready
to sail on a cruise, an English fleet sailed into Port Royal to besiege
it. He was compelled to run the frigate aground beneath the fort, and
was detached by Monsieur de Subercasse at the head of 130 men to oppose
the passage of the little River, which the Enemy, to the number of 1500
men, were to cross. He repulsed them twice, but was compelled to give
way to superior force, and he retreated to the fort, fighting every foot
of the ground. Throughout the siege, he commanded the Royal Bastion, which
faced the Enemy, and when the siege was raised, he embarked on the frigate
to carry the news to the King. [Note: This was the expedition commanded
by Colonel March, which sailed from Boston, May 13, 1707, and made a fruitless
assault on Port Royal. Daniel d'Auger de Subercasse came to Canada in
1687, and after military service in various parts of the colony, received
the appointment of governor of Acadia in 1705. In 1710 he surrendered
Port Royal to the English.]
He commanded the "Venus'" which sailed in the depth of the winter
to Acadia with munitions of war, and he arrived there at the Beginning
of April. Thence he went to cruise along the coast of New England where
he captured several prizes, and went to Placentia to dismantle the vessel.
He served under Monsieur de St Ovide De Brogliand with the rank of second
Commander. He had 100 men to go and capture the English coast. They succeeded
very well for on the first of January they took fort St John where they
found more than a thousand men under arms, both Troops and settlers. In
the Spring they blew up all The forts; they held the Coast to ransom,
and conveyed all the artillery in the "Venus" to Placentia.
He took to Quebec the governor, the officers, La Ronde was a volunteer
in this Newfoundland expedition, which was planned by St. Ovide, king's
lieutenant at Placentia, and nephew of the former governor, De Brouillan.
The expedition is described by Charlevoix, History of New France (Shea
ed., New York, 1871), v, pp. 212--215. and soldiers of the garrison of
St John, and handed them over to Monsieur The Marquis de Vaudreuil, by
whom he was detained during the whole Summer to Command the Marine for
the Defense of Quebec, which was threatened with an attack. Aster this
he conveyed provisions to the Garrison and Colony of Placentia, which
without that succor would have died of hunger during the winter. All these
voyages were performed in very bad weather, and nearly caused his death
He sailed on the "Loire" for Acadia. When he reached Placentia,
he learned that Acadia was taken, and this compelled him to remain at
Placentia by order of Monsieur de Costebelle.
He was sent by Monsieur de Costebelle, the governor, to Boston for the
purpose of secretly securing neutrality between its people, and that of
Canada in order thereby to diminish the aid that new England night give
for the Conquest of new France; and he would have succeeded in this had
it not been for the Mishaps that occurred, and whereof his Majesty was
fully informed by the Said Sieur de Costebelle, who several times placed
His life in danger.
He received an order from, the King to settle Isle Royale [Note: After
the loss of Acadia, the French tried to replace that colony by another
on Isle Royale (now Cape Breton Island). Costebelle was the first governor,
but was replaced in 1713 by St. Ovide.]; he went in the "Samezelac"
with Monsieur de St Ovide de Brogliand.
During the winter he was engaged in roaming the depths of the forests
and the Lakes of that island a Map whereof, made by the Sieur de Couhaigne
sub engineer, he gave to the Commandant of Louisbourg. After this, he
was ordered to go to Port Royal, to les mines and Beaubassin on the coast
of Acadia to Prevent the settlers from submitting to English domination,
because those places do not form part of nova Scotia or Acadia according
to the Former Limits defined by the treaty of Utrecht.
On his return from Acadia in the Month of January, he was ordered to go
to France, to carry dispatches from Monsieur de Costebelle to the Court.
He was unfortunately wrecked on reaching the coast of Brittany, whence
he posted to Versailles. There he found that he had been appointed Commandant
of the port of Toulouse, where he arrived after encountering great difficulties,
and continued to serve until 1720.
He received a command from the King to go and serve in Canada. As he was
about to start, he was Ordered by Monsieur de St Ovide de Brogliand to
follow the Sieur de Godeville, the officer Commanding the fleet of Isle
St. Jean, to help to settle that island. This resulted in his remaining
the King's Order during 1721, to act as second in Command in the said
island. [Note 2: 2 Isle St. Jean (now Prince Edward's Island) was in 1719
ceded to a French nobleman, who formed a company to settle it. After a
brief trial, the enterprise proved abortive, and a permanent settlement
was not made until after the fall of Louisburg.]
He was Ordered by the King to replace the Sieur du Godeville in the Command,
which he was unable to do as Monsieur do Beaucourt, the Lieutenant of
'Isle Royale, had received a similar order.
Monsieur The Marquis de Vaudreuil thought proper to send him by land to
Boston on the 5th of October to represent to the governor of that place
the injury that he did to the Abenakis by taking possession of all their
lands [Note: This was connected with the war between the Abenaki and Massachusetts
(1721--25), the most dramatic feature of which was the killing of Father
Rasle, the Jesuit missionary. See Charlevoix, History of New France, v,
pp. 206--282, for the French side of this event; and Palfrey, History
of New England (Boston, 1875), iv, pp. 434--444, for the English.]. He
had great trouble in reaching there, owing to the season, which was far
advanced, and he carried out the orders and instructions that he had received
to the satisfaction of Monsieur the Marquis de Vaudreuil [Note: See evidence
in regard to this, ante, p. 20.]. But that journey and most of those that
preceded it were very costly to him, for his Expenses were never reimbursed,
and he never received any allowance either from the Court or from the
governors who sent him.
He was appointed by Monsieur The Marquis de Beauharnois Commandant at
Chagoüamigon, 600 Leagues from Quebec. On arriving at that post he
withdrew from the tribe of savages there, who are the Sauteur, a Collar
which they had received from, the Iroquois by the hands of an Outaois
Chief called Le feu bleu, and by which they had agreed to destroy the
entire French nation. On handing me that Collar, they begged me to carry
it myself to their father, which I did; but I was unable to bring them
the answer, as they had requested me to do, because Monsieur the Marquis
de Beauharnois did not deem it advisable.
He remained on garrison duty in the town of Quebec, which he would no;
have done had he not received orders to that effect, for during the whole
time that he has served the King he has sought every occasion to make
himself deserving of promotion.
He went to discover the Mines of Lake superior and of the other Lakes,
and he remained there until 1736, as may be seen by the journal Sent by
him to Monsignor the Comte de Maurepas.
remainder of this memoir is a duplicate of the succeeding report of La
Ronde (pp. 309--311), entitled, "Continuation of the Discovery of
the Mines," as far as the sentence "I brought them back in my
vessel to Sault Ste. Marie," when the memoir closes as follows:]
1736 Whence I took them to Quebec where they made their report to Monsieur the general and Monsieur The Intendant on what they had seen.
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