An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
May 17, 2003 - Issue 87
The 1824 Murder of Mr. Finley and Party at Lake Pepin
From the book 'History, Traditions and Adventures in the Chippewa Valley'
By William W. Bartlett
(Chapter 1 - The Sioux-Chippewa Feud - pages 50-52)
credits: submitted by Timm Severud (Ondamitag)
the execution of the Indian at Fond du Lac (Lake Superior) in 1797, by
the northwestern traders for killing a Canadian 'coureur du bois', the
life of a white man had been held sacred by the Ojibways, and one could
traverse any portion of their country, in perfect safety, and without
the least molestation. In the year 1824, however, four whites were killed
by the Ojibways, under circumstances so peculiar as to deserve a brief
Ojibway name Mub-o-beence, or Little Broth, residing on the shores of
Lake Superior near the mouth of the Ontonagon River, lost a favorite child
through sickness. He was deeply stricken with grief, and nothing would
satisfy him but to go and shed the blood of the hereditary enemy of his
tribe the Sioux. He raised a small war party, mostly from the Lac du Flambeau
district, and they floated down the Chippewa River to its entry, where,
for several days they watched without success on the banks of the Mississippi,
for the appearance of the enemy. The leader had endured hardships, and
came the great distance of five hundred miles leader had endured hardships,
and came the great distance of fie hundred miles to shed blood to the
manes of his dead child, and long after his fellows had become weary of
waiting and watching, and anxious to return home, did he urge them still
to continue in their search. He had determined not to return without shedding
one morning, as the warriors lay watching on the shores of Lake Pepin,
they saw a boat manned by four white men land near them, and proceed to
cook their morning meal. Several of the party approached to strangers
and were well received. The white men consisted of Mr. Finely, with three
Canadian boatmen, who were under the employ of Mons. Jean Brunet, of Prairie
du Chien, and Indian trader. They were proceeding up the Mississippi to
Ft. Snelling on some urgent business of their employer, and Mr. Finley
had with him a number of account books and valuable papers.
Brunet mentioned above is the one who later built a trading post on the
Chippewa River and after whom Brunet Falls was named.
assault and massacre of these men was entirely unpremeditated by the Ojibway
war part, and contrary to the wishes of the majority. They had paid them
their visit and begged some provisions, receiving which, they retired
and sat down in group on a bank immediately above them. The leader here
commenced to harangue his fellows, expressing a desire to shed the blood
of the white men. He was immediately opposed, on which he commenced to
talk of the hardships he had endured, the loss of his child, till, becoming
excited, he wept with a loud voice, and suddenly taking aim at the group
of white men, who were eating their breakfast, he fired and killed one.
Eight of his fellows immediately followed his example, and rushing down
to the water-side, they quickly dispatched the whole party and tore off
their scalps. Taking the effects of the victims, they returned toward
Lac Courte Oreilles, they attempted to dance the scalp dance before the
door of J. B. Corbine, the trader, who immediately ran out of the house,
and forcibly deprived them of the white men's scalps which they were displaying,
ordering them at the same time to depart from his door. The trader was
supported by the Indian village, and the murderers now for the first time
were beginning to see the consequences of their foolish act, skulked silently
away, very much crest fallen.
remains of the murdered white men were soon discovered, and the news going
up and down the river, a boatload of fifty soldiers was sent from Prairie
du Chien to pursue the murderers. At Lake Pepin they were met by three
boats laden with troops from Ft. Snelling, and the party, including volunteers
numbered nearly two hundred men. Mons. Jean Brunet was along, and had
been most active in raising this force. They followed the Ojibway war
trail for some distance, till, coming to the place where the warriors
had hung up their usual thanksgiving sacrifices for a safe return home,
a retreat was determined on, as the party had not come prepared to make
a long journey, and it was folly to thing of catching the murderers, scattered
throughout the vast wilderness, which lay between Lake Superior and the
matter was subsequently left in the hands of the traders among the Ojibways.
Truman A. Warren, the principle trader of the Lac du Flambeau department,
demanded the murderers, at the hands of the chiefs of this section of
the tribe. The celebrated Keesh-ke-mum had died a short time previous,
and had left his eldest son Mons-o-bo-douh to succeed. This man was not
a whit behind his father in intelligence and firmness of character. He
called a council of his band, and insisted on the chief murderers being
given up by their friends. He was opposed in council by a man noted for
his ill-temper and savage disposition, who even threatened his life if
attempted to carry his wishes into effect. A brother of the man had been
one of the ringleaders in the murder and now stud by his side as he delivered
his threats against the young chief. As they again resumed their seats,
Mons-o-bo-douh arose, drawing his knife, he went an laid hold of the murderer
by the arm and intimated to him that he was his prisoner. He then ordered
his young men to tie his arms. The order was immediately obeyed, and accomplished
without the least resistance from the prisoner or his brother, who was
thunderstruck at the cool and determined manner of the chief.
Shortly after, two more of the murderers were taken, and Mons-o-bo-douh delivered them into the hands of the trader. The leader of the party, who lived on the shore of Lake Superior, was secured by Mr. William Holliday, trader at L'Anse Bay. The four captives were sent to Mackinac, and fined to jail. While orders were pending from Washington respecting the matter of their trial, they succeeded in making their escape by cutting an aperture through the logs which formed their place of confinement. They were not recaptured.
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