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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


May 3 , 2003 - Issue 86


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Interesting Sidelights on the History of the Early Fur Trade Industry (Part 4)


From The Eau Claire Leader - Sunday August 9, 1925

credits: submitted by Timm Severud (Ondamitag)


Julia Spears(Thus far the letter published have pertained principally to the Ermatinger and Truman Warren family. Lyman Warren lived much longer than his brother Truman, and evidently was a man of more importance in affairs at La Pointe. It was after the death of Truman Warren that Lyman Warren came down the Chippewa. He was connected to Jean Brunet in building the first sawmill at Chippewa Falls in 1836, which sawmill was first on the river. He also during the 40's was subagent and farmer at the government post located close to Chippewa City. The veteran Methodist preacher, Father Brunson, tells of visiting him there and mentions Warren's fine library, also notes what an excellent cook and housekeeper Warren's part Ojibway wife was. Up to very recently, three of Lyman Warren's daughters, aged women, were still living. The writer has been for some months in correspondence with Mrs. Julia Spears, of Detroit, Minnesota, one of those daughters, but a few days ago received an obituary notice to the effect that this old lady had just died. She was a most interesting and intelligent person and a mine of information pertaining to the Cadotte, Warren and Ermatinger families. Some months ago she sent the writer and old family letter, written from New York State by Lyman Warren, Sr. to his fur trader son. This letter addressed to Lyman Warren, at La Pointe or Chippewa Mills, is given below.)

Clarkson (New York), August 16, 1841.

It is some time since I have heard from you. Last summer I expected you here. I had four fine fat pigs that I kept for you a long time. At last began to kill one after the other until I had killed and eaten them all up, and now Lyman all this summer I have looked for you or James Ermatinger and still shall keep looking until cold weather.

Henry wrote you about William and Edward. We have heard nothing from them since they left here for home. George a short time after the boys left got rather uneasy at Rochester and we did not altogether blame him, and he left the place. Henry tried at a number of printing offices to get him a place but without success and he left here for the Western country to try to get some employment. Henry let him have some money to go with. Henry received from him a few days ago a line that he had got into business on the Ohio Canal for the season and had a prospect of better business in the winter, but did not write what it was.

Henry received your letter this spring past about the place that I live on and is making arrangements to meet the payments thereon stipulated. The little girls are under the care of Delia. She has not yet gone to keeping house but will in a short time and take the girls with her for a time. Henry has employed her to take care of the girls. She goes but a short distance from our house.

Henry is on a packet this summer that runs from Rochester to Buffalo and is doing very well. Nancy is with the girls and all are well and contented. We are all well except your mother and myself. We are both troubled with inflammation in our eyes.

Lyman, come and see us or send me a line how it is with you,
Lyman Warren.

George Warren(The Henry and Delia referred to were an uncle and aunt of the younger Warrens from the west. The Edward and George mentioned were the twin sons of Truman Warren, and were born at La Pointe on Lake Superior. Edward was the one killed in a hunting accident and George Warren was the one already referred to at some length, who lived many years near Chippewa Falls. The Nancy mentioned was a sister of Edward and George, and was the Nancy mentioned in Elisha Ermatinger's Civil War letter. The William mentioned was a son of Lyman Warren and was a really remarkable character, of whom special reference was made in the Presidents talk at Jim Falls.  All the children of both Truman and Lyman Warren were given a good education, and much credit for this is due to their grandfather in New York, the writer of the letter above. He had the children brought east and put into school. Judging from this letter Henry Warren seems to have given considerable assistance to his younger half brother and sister of part Ojibwa blood.  The following are some letters lately received from Mrs. Julia Spears, Lyman Warren Jr.'s daughter and sister of William Whipple Warren, historian of the Ojibway tribe, member of the territorial legislature of Minnesota and we have lately learned one of the first editors of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.)

Detroit, Minnesota, October 23, 1924,
William W. Bartlett, Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

My dear sir:
The letter you sent is true and correct. I thank you so much for writing so kindly about my brother. He was a good Christian and was much missed when he died, by both whites and Indians, whom he loved.

Michel Cadotte was sent into the Lake Superior region, where he soon became a great favorite with the Indians and married a daughter of White Crane, hereditary chief of the village. He lived on the island of La Pointe, where he built a large house and trading post. He had large cedar posts built around his buildings and gardens for protection from the Indians. It was always called the Old Fort. He lived there until he died in 1836. He had three sons and three daughters.

Yours very truly,
Julia A. Spears.

P.S. I have no pictures of my father and uncle Truman.

My grandmother, who is 92 years of age, wrote the above and asked me to copy it on the typewriter, because she was afraid it wouldn't be quite plain to you. Though she still writes beautifully her eyesight is getting dim.
Hortense Mee.

Another Letter from Mrs. Spears

Detroit, Minnesota, October 26, 1924,
Mr. William W. Bartlett, Eau Claire Wisconsin,

Dear Sir:
I received your letter and will answer as well as I can remember. Will commence by writing about my family. Lyman Marquis Warren was my father. He was born in Massachusetts on August 9, 1794, died October 10, 1847 at La Pointe, Wisconsin, and was laid to rest there. My mother died at Chippewa Falls, July 21, 1843. My father had her remains brought to La Pointe the following winter. They left six children, four girls, Charlotte, Julia (myself), Mary and Sophia. All now living except Charlotte. The boys were, William and Truman Warren (named after his uncle Truman). My Uncle Truman married twice. He had two sons by his first wife, James and John. When he came to La Pointe he married Charlotte Cadotte. He had three children by her, George and Edward, twin boys and a daughter Nancy. When Uncle Truman died my father took the children and raised them like his own. In the summer of 1835 grandfather Lyman Warren came from New York to visit us at La Pointe. On his return to New York he took the four boys to Clarkson, New York, where they attended school for two years, then from 1838 to 1843 they attended the Oneida Institute. I enclose an old letter that my grandfather wrote about the boys leaving school. I found this among some old letters and it is quite a relic. Henry was my youngest uncle and Delia was my aunt. In 1838, my mother and her children, also Uncle Truman's daughter Nancy went to New York to visit grandfather. She stayed a year. When she returned she left Nancy. In 1843 Nancy and my brother Truman came home, and in 1845 my father sent for my sister and myself. My two brothers were living at La Pointe. The Indian Agency was there. When Reverend Alfred Brunson visited the Indians at La Pointe in the winter of 1842-3, on an embassy for the government, he selected my brother William Whipple Warren, then a boy of 17 years as interpreter and found him very efficient and skilled. He was appointed United States interpreter and continued to act as such until he died.

My brother Truman A. Warren was the government farmer for the Indians, who lived at Bad River about 15 miles on the main land from La Pointe. That is where they made there garden and what other farming they did. The government farmer, carpenter, and blacksmith all had good houses to live in and received good salaries.

In 1846 father was getting quite sick and he had quite a few valuable things at Chippewa Falls to take back with him to La Pointe with a one-horse train, when the lakes were frozen. He was planning to go to Detroit to a hospital. He had two trunks at the wharf to be taken on a vessel in one of the trunks he kept all his papers and articles he valued. At Sault Ste. Marie this trunk was found to be missing. Losing all his business papers made father worse. After being in the hospital six months he was brought home very sick and died a short time later.

With no papers to consult, my brother William could do nothing about settling up the business.

In 1849 the American Fur Company all left La Pointe and moved to St. Paul. The buildings were then sold and tore down. As they were tearing down one of the large stores they found my father's trunk in one of the vaults. It was broken open and all the papers taken and all the silverware that was not marked, but those marked with my mother's name were left in the trunk. We were notified but my brother had gone to New York, so there was nothing done about it. The men who had charge of the American Fur Company were C.W. Borup and Charles Oakes of St. Paul.

James Ermatinger was my uncle. He married my Uncle Truman's widow. They always lived near Chippewa Falls (Vermillion Rapids, now Jim Falls). This place where he lived was one of the headquarters of the American Fur Company. Uncle was one of the traders and he farmed a little.

Yours truly,
Julia A. Spears.

Detroit, Minnesota, November 10, 1924,
William W. Bartlett, Eau Claire, Wisconsin,

Dear Sir:
You are right about my and my age. I was born September 3, 1832. I was not at Chippewa Falls when my father was subagent there. I was with my sister at school in Clarkson, now Brockport, New York. My father did not send for my sister and me until 1845. He was about to leave Chippewa Falls at this time and move back to La Pointe, as his health was failing. My two brothers were government employees at the time. In 1843 my mother died at Chippewa Falls on July 21st and the following winter my father took her remains to La Pointe for internment.

My father moved to the Chippewa River about 1839, where he was appointed subagent for the Ojibways on the reservation. He located his post a few miles above Chippewa Falls, at a place now known as Chippewa City. In connection with Jean Brunet he built a sawmill and opened a farm which was soon furnished with accommodations buildings.

I went to the Chippewa River in 1848, to visit my aunt, Mrs. James Ermatinger, with my cousin Nancy Warren, my deceased uncle Truman's daughter. They lived on a farm by the river at a place called Vermillion Rapids (now Jim Falls) about 12 miles from the mill up the river, but going to the village at the mill one could see the farm buildings from the road.

George P. Warren and his brother Edward were fur traders at that time. They had their trading post a few miles from the mill. Edward was killed in a hunting accident in 1848.

The old Frenchman that told you about the trading post, which was by the main road and other buildings, was right. When my father was through with them he let the nephews, George and Edward, have the buildings and that was where they had their trading post and house by the main road, a few miles from the mill but in sight of the other buildings by the river at Chippewa City. 

The mill at that time was owned by H.S. Allen, he lived there with his family in a nice house. I heard of his death a few years ago.  I left the Chippewa River in 1850. I send you my picture. I have none of my mother.

Julia A. Spears

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