Sunday, November 6, 2011

1878 Pioneer Sketch - Part 1

Pioneer Sketch

of the Township of Handy

written by Ralph Fowler in his 69th year of his age

We were well surrounded by Indians, there being three winter camps near us, two on Section 10 and one on Section 2. There must have been as many as forty or fifty Indians in the three camps and had thirty ponies running in the woods. The question naturally arises, were you not afraid of the Indians? Never but twice.

The Indians had all been to Detroit, I think, to transact business with the government, and came to our place on the mail trail to Grand River and the western part of the state. They came along about the middle of the afternoon. I think there were some 50 or 100 of them with 50 or 60 ponies and lots of other fixings, the snow being five inches deep. Many of the sleds were made of deer skins by spreading them on the snow with the hair side down, filling them with all they could lay on and then lashing the load on the ropes made of basswood bark, passing them through holes made in the edge of the skin and over the load -- you would be surprised to see the amount they would pile on one skin. Then they would hitch a rope to the neck of the skin and then to the ponies neck, making quite a good running sled. Thus they came upon us; we had not seen many of them before and were somewhat afraid as they came in filling the house like a town meeting. We put on a big fire and let them work. They turned out their ponies and put their bells, which made theh woods ring with their jingle. Soon they began to cut poles and peal basswood bark and prepare their quarters for the night. They stuck stakes on each side of a large oak tree that we had felled near the house and tied poles near the top of these stakes, laying others on them and back on the ground, covering this with a kind of webb cloth, made of flags or rushes, for some fifty feet on each side of the log, and then built a fire the whole length, after which they spread down their bear and deer skins and blankets.

Thus begins quite a few posts chronicling The Pioneer Sketch Ralph Fowler wrote ten years before his death.

To be continued tomorrow . . .

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