An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
April 5, 2003 - Issue 84
Indian Experiences in Superior Fifty Years Ago
From: The Superior Evening Telegram - April 23, 1904
credits: submitted by Timm Severud (Ondamitag)
Lord Sr. who came here in 1854 to take charge of Indian Trading Post,
recalls experiences which he underwent and in which figured some of the
noted chiefs of the Chippewas.
years ago Charles Lord Sr. now of Solon Springs, was in charge of the
Indian trading post on Minnesota Point. He took charge there on March
26, 1854, and has ever since been a resident of Superior or Douglas County.
Mr. Lord's memory of the old days is full of thrilling and interesting
incidents. Among the Indians with whom he came in contact were some well
known in the history of this section of the country. To an Evening Telegram
reporter Mr. Lord relates the following anecdotes by way of semi-centennial
was at the Crow Wing Indian agency when in early 1854 Major Herman said
he wanted to get a man to go to the head of Lake Superior to take charge
of an Indian agency there. I told him I would go and with two comrades
and an Indian pony set off toward the end of winter on the long journey
went up the Mississippi a ways and then struck off through a rough country
toward the Mt. Louis River. This we finally struck at Fond du Lac where
there was an Indian trading post conducted by Frank Rousant. There was
still ice in the bay and most of the way down from there to Minnesota
point we made it on the ice.
well remember how the harbor and the present town site of Superior looked
as we made our down Superior bay for the first time. There was no sign
of life or civilization there. Looking to the banks on the west we could
see only thick woods with underbrush. That was on the 26th day of March
1854, and at that time we would not have known from the look that there
was any intention of building a town in the vicinity. Later on an inspection
showed that there were a few shanties in the course of construction and
that in a few spots the woods had been cleared out. But there was no dock
nor anything to indicate that boats had or could effect a landing there.
our left however, we could see signs of life. The two points, Minnesota
and Wisconsin, were inhabited by the Indians. Most of them were at that
time on the Minnesota point, however, as all of that including Duluth
was Indian land at that time. My companions went on to Wisconsin point
but my destination was Minnesota point and I stopped there.
post consisted of a couple of little shanties located about where the
ruins of the old lighthouse now stand. The Indians were living in their
wigwams but a few hundred yards distant. "The agents for these posts
on Indian land were appointed by government officials and in order to
live on the Indian land it was necessary to have a permit. As agent at
the post it was one of my duties to see if that no liquor was brought
there so that the Indians could get hold of it.
"Upon going to the post shanty I found George R. Stunts awaiting me. He was the government surveyor who was in charge of the crew and was anxious to have someone to come and take charge of the post. He made me very welcome and showed me the layout. I did not consist of a very large stock.
Clash With Indians
what's the matter, Na-ga-nup?' I said.
You must go before 9 o'clock tomorrow morning or I will come with my warriors
and burn and destroy everything you have,' he answered.
"Then I tried to reason with him, told him he was in liquor and that he would think better of it in the morning, that he had warriors but our government had many more and that our soldiers could come and drive all his people away. But he would give no answer excepting that I must go or he would come with his soldiers to drive me out.
Na-ga-nup went away still determined to come and drive me out. Naturally
I felt worried. I had a double-barreled shotgun and I loaded that up for
John Buffalo and then got my revolvers ready. We watched all night expecting
the old chief would come to wreak vengeance. He did not come at night
but early in the morning we saw him come out from the pinewoods leading
his band. We stood ready to fight to the finish and when the chief knocked
at the door I said: "'come in Na-ga-nup.'
"He pushed open the door and came in but instead of showing fight he extended his hand. I shook it and did likewise with all his braves.
of my Indian experiences along in the '60's was brought to mind a few
weeks ago when I saw in a newspaper the picture of old chief Wa-ge-ma-waub
who just died near Tower, Minn. He was a guide for me on a trading journey
I took through that country.
"At the time Lars Lenroot of upper-town was Indian blacksmith. The government did not allow the blacksmith to trade with the Indians. Mr. Lenroot had bought a large amount of supplies, not knowing this, and just before going up to Vermillion Lake on one of his regular winter trips to do the blacksmithing for the Indians he came to me and told me the situation, offering to take me there and sell to me the supplies he had there to trade with the Indians.
At a Premium
Drowns in Mud
"It was a cold day and there was no place to warm and dry. My guide thought I could not walk two miles across Nell Lake to where the Indians were camping but it was do that or freeze and we started. My clothes froze still and I had a hard time getting across.
For the Indians
Besides his Indian anecdotes Mr. Lord has an almost endless repertoire of others concerning the happenings of early days and the excitement of pioneer life. He lived for a few years up the St. Louis River on a farm but moved back to Superior and for years was in business there, being among the first of those to go into the fishing business extensively there. He remembers all the settlers of the early days, the stirring times of '55' and the hard times, which followed. He was for eight years clerk of the courts for the county. Mr. Lord was always a great friend of the Indians about Superior. One of his particular friends was O-sa-gue, a chief owning much land on Wisconsin point, but who lived much of the time near the mouth of the Amnicon River, O-sa-gue had a large family of estimable and capable daughters and one of these became Mr. Lord's wife.
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