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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


April 19, 2003 - Issue 85


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Interesting Sidelights on the History of the Early Fur Trade Industry (Part 3)

Continued Article from The Eau Claire Leader - July 25, 1925
credits: submitted by Timm Severud (Ondamitag)

(Note by Editor: Last week was published the first of a series of articles prepared at the request of the paper by W.W. Bartlett on early fur trading in the Chippewa Valley. The first article contained a number of letters written by George Ermatinger, who was an early fur trader to his son, James. - In this issue: other letters by George Ermatinger, also a letter written by the president of the American Fur Company.  The Ermatinger letters are from 1836 and the fur company letter is from 1842.)

From Father to Son

"Sault Ste. Marie, October 5, 1836"

Fur Trade"My Dear Son,

I received your affectionate letter of the 28th of September on the 3rd inst., also the sugar and the two smoked deerskins, I thank you kindly for them. I am sorry you went to the expense of paying so dear. I can get the same quality here for 10 schillings per pound at Franchure's and every other place. The draft I gave to Mr. Hulbert yesterday. He said you still owe him $165, not calculating the interest, which will amount to $45 more, you did not endorse the note, and I did for you. You must be more careful in the future when you send notes to endorse them, to prevent trouble."

"As to school we have only one. That is the Reverend Bringham's.  He is good enough for young children. I sent Lawrence to him. He gets on well. I am glad you intend to send down your boys. They can stay with us. We will be happy to see Charlotte. Next year you must try to come down with her. I hope to have my house finished by that time."

"Respecting the treaty, it is a shameful the way the commissioners acted. The Johnston family got at least $43,000, when other half-breeds got nothing. The Indians are much dissatisfied. The chiefs are going to Washington regarding this business. Your brother Thomas got $305; Thomas Edwards, $2,700; Ashman, $1,000; and Chapman $5,000.  For the claim of $5,600 I put in I got only $1,500, where as others were allowed their whole claim, without any proof. Such partiality is shameful. If you can get the chief to give you 600 acres of land at your place and for your children at other different places, where there is good fishing, try and procure the same. Do not delay. You may rest assured the government will buy all the land from this place to Fond du Lac. Keep your Indian books. You may depend you will be paid every cent. Liquor will not be allowed. I wish you to talk to Mr. Warren, if he has the Indian books of mine when I was in Indian Country at the Montreal River, the Falls Avoine and the Pointe. I am informed if I have them to show the commissioners I would be paid and no one else can draw the money unless they have the power of attorney from me. I owe about $800 dollars and I will have money enough to pay the building of the house and be out of debt."

"By Captain Dickson I sent you three bottles of Madeira and one cheese. I hope you receive them safe. Write of how they all got on, what time the arrived at your place and whether they will go to the Red River. I hope they will go soon to that place. They are a fine set of gentlemen. Charles and (?) are appointed Major Generals. Charles will be here early in the spring to join General Dickson. I will go likewise.

Doctor Bell says your mother's brother and Thomas W. are to be here in the spring with about four hundred Indians.  I have nothing new to communicate from this place. Wishing you and Charlotte and the little ones health and happiness, and the same to old Mr. Cadotte.

I remain your dear son, your affectionate Father."
"George Ermatinger."

Another Letter

"Sault Ste. Marie, October 26, 1836"

"Dear Son: you cannot reprimand me for not writing. I have written you several letters, one on the 12th last, sent by an Indian Chief from the Point, stating I had taken up your note to Hubert, and pain him the balance due him. I hope your mind will be at ease. I received a letter from General Dickson yesterday, who writes in great spirit. He says he has met you on the route. He was sorry you were not at home as he passed by. We have better than six inches of snow. I am afraid Doctor Bomp will have a hard time before he gets to the Pointe. As to news he will inform you of all that has passed here. The Indian are very much disappointed with the Commissioners, as to the manner they distributed the money. A petition is going to the President. It will go hard with Schoolcraft, as it ought."

"My best wishes to your family, I remain your affectionate father."
"George Ermatinger"

Letter from Fur Company Officer

(We give below a most interesting letter written by Ramsey Crooks, President of the American Fur Company to John R. Livingston an agent of the Company at Sault Ste. Marie. The reason this letter came into the hands of the Ermatinger family lies in the fact that a part of the letter pertains to a settlement with members of the Ermatinger family of a legacy left to them by the will of a certain Charles Ermatinger, evidently a Canadian, as the amounts given are in pounds, shillings and pence.)

Marten Hunts Poor
"Office of the American Fur Company, New York, June 27, 1842."

"John R. Livingston Esquire, Sault Ste. Marie,

Dear Sir:

We enclose a copy of our last respects of the 30th alt. and now confirm the same."

"Your favor of the 13th inst. Is received and its contents noted duly noted. We are sorry to the marten hunts have been poor, but hope the next season will be more propitious."

"You were right in appearing in different about Mr. Hubbard's collection, especially as it is of so little consequence, and as your said rival has been this spring disappointed in obtaining his usual supply of goods, we hope you will secure an ascendancy in all the valuable trade of your place over the Hudson Bay servants and others, avoiding studiously the credit system wherever it is coupled with danger."

"In Mr. James Schoolcraft, you are, however, to have a new opponent in the business of St. Mary's, it is said he brought between two and three thousand dollars in gold and if that be true it will give him credit enough to lay in a good stock of merchandise. We have no other advise to give you in respect to this unexpected adversary, but to keep and secure all good costumers and give him the bad ones, including the fishermen, if he will take them."

"With this you will find a statement of the weight and measures of all good sent you this year. We do not give you a detail of each package, as the weight merely designates the light and the heavy, which pay different rates of freight hence to Buffalo."

"Dr. Bomp did not write us about the arrival of the Montreal men, and yours is the first advice we had on the subject, and almost at the same time we heard of guide having got back to Montreal. We were glad they were in time to go back to the 'Astor,' and presume from your silence that none were lost on the way. We hope you got the right sort of copper."

"Our letter of May 24th handed your account of the tent and the basket, $47.83, which you do not acknowledge.

The account advanced Mr. Barbeau in Montreal is correct and we have already advised him. We are sorry to lose Mr. Barbeau's services but no doubt you decided rightly in the matter and we hope Mr. Beardsley will prove all you can reasonably expect and with the aid of our worth friend Mr. Andrew, do justice to the business during your absence."

"As to the Indian trade no doubt you will manage it satisfactory and we hope that the sale of furs and skins will enable us to relieve your Indian hunters, but the prospects are not by any means encouraging."

"The suit of the heirs of Mr. Ermatinger is at length closed and herewith you will find a statement of account in relation thereto, received from Messrs. Valile Boyer & Company, by which you will observed they remitted the balance of 1,126 pounds, 15 shillings and 1 pence or $4,499.02, which we have passed to the credit of St. Mary's outfit, and from said amount you will deduct the $200 paid Mr. Day by your order the past winter. You will make the heirs pay what you deem reasonable for the trouble the affair has given the outfit. If you think it is best to charge anything. The money will be at their and your disposal when the draft is paid four days hence, less one half percent we charge for receiving and pay in all similar cases."

"Extract from Messrs. Valile Boyer and Company letter of said instrument is here adjoined, and you will please secure and send us the receipts they require from all the heirs.

I am truly yours,
Ramsey Crooks, President American Fur Company."

"Note: If Ermatinger's heir are connected with the company we will not ask for the one half percent commission."

"Heirs Ermatinger, in account with Valile Boyer & Company,."

"May 16 to Cash paid J.J. Day for fees - 162 pounds, 5 schillings, 4 pence"        
"May 12 to commission on 1,167 pounds, 7 schillings, 11 pence, amount of money received from sheriff's fees deducted at 1% - 11 pounds 13 schillings 6 pence."
"June 22 to draft from R. Crooks at 3 sight - 1,124 pounds, 15 schillings, 1 pence."
"Exchange on ditto at 2 and three quarter's percent - 39 pounds, 13 schillings, 7 pence."
"To postage letter - 9 pence
"1842 - $1, 329 pounds, 16 schillings, 3 pence"
 "From Sheriff amount received - $1, 329 pounds, 16 schillings, 3 pence"
 "E.O.E. Montreal June 22, 1842 (Signed) Valile Boyer & Company"

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