Monday, November 7, 2011

1878 Pioneer Sketch - Part 2

The Pioneer Sketch continues:

It looked very pleasant and comfortable, and after they ate their supper of venison, cold boiled squirrels and muskrats, they went to bed. It was quite a sight to us to see them fix up, each one of full size having his blanket, which was tacked in at the edge, over head and at the foot. In the morning, Okemos and his tribe, or those that were with him, went on to what is now called Okemos, the others, being a part of the old Shiawassee tribe, went into their three camps above named. This was the first time we were afraid of Indians.

There was one very old man with them -- some 93 years old as near as we could ascertain from marks and signs -- who was sick and had every appearance of having the consumption. His camp was pitched on section 2, northeast of John A. Tanner's log house. He finally died, and the funeral services were held for some time. He was a man of some note I should think, as other tribes came to his funeral from long distances.

After his death, they wrapped him in a clean white blanket and laid him in a little place divided from the main camp by hanging blankets around him. One of the old squaws set by him nearly all the time for each evening for four or five evenings after his death. They would play or beat their music nearly all night. Their musical instruments were of different kinds, one kind being made of red cedar, resembling a clarionet. This was split in the center and the hollow was dug out the size they wanted it, then creases were cut around it between the finger holes and it was tied together with the sinnows of a deer. Others were made by drawing a raw deer skin over a hoop, Others were made similar to our bass and tenor drums. They made a fearful noise and could be heard a mile or more.

They dug a grave about three feet deep and laid in some elm bark and covered the grave with round poles, some six inches in diameter, neatly notched together at the corners. About two feet from the head of the grave they set a post about three inches through and three feet high, on the side of which, next to the grave they cut a notch and painted above the notch the picture of a turkey and below that of a deer.

For some three weeks after the burial, some one of the squaws kept a fire, between the head of the grave and the post, made of sticks about six inches long and split fine, set upon the ends in round form. This fire was kept daily for that length of time. After the funeral, they climbed a tall beach tree to the very top and there hung their musical instruments, and let them hang there for four or five weeks and this ended the funeral ceremonies.

Part 3 will continue tomorrow with the settlers' second fright.

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