“To me more dear,
congenial to my heart,
One native charm than all the gloss of art.”
At a late hour in the evening we reached the Wisconsin portage, and found Dr. Wood. U.S.A., encamped there. He had arrived a short time before us, with four Indians and one Canadian in a canoe, on his way to St. Peter’s. He had a mail in his trunk, and I had reasons to believe I should receive letters, but to my sore disappointment I found nothing. I invited Dr. Wood to supper, having some ducks and snipes to offer in addition to my usual stock of solids, such as ham, venison and buffalo tongues.
Descent of Fox River—Blackbirds—Menomonies—Rice fields—Starving Indians—Thunder storm—Dream—An Indian struck dead with lightning—Green Bay—Death of Colonel Haines—Incidents of the journey from Green Bay to Michilimackinack—Reminiscences of my early life and travels—Choiswa—Further reminiscences of my early life—Ruins of the first mission of Father Marquette—Reach Michilimackinack.
1825. August 26th. A PORTAGE of about one mile and a quarter was before us.
At day-break two ox carts, which I had ordered in the evening, came, and took our baggage across to the banks of Fox River. The canoes were carried over by the different crews. On reaching the banks of the Fox River, I concluded to stay for the purpose of breakfasting. I added to my stock of eatables, a bag of potatoes, and some butter and milk, purchased from a Frenchman, who resided here. It was about nine o’clock A.M. when we embarked on the Fox, and we began its descent with feelings not widely different from those of a boy who has carried his sled, in winter, up the steep side of a hill, that he may enjoy the pleasure of riding down. The Fox River is serpentine, almost without a parallel; it winds about like a string that doubles and redoubles, and its channel is choked with fields of wild rice; from which rose, continually, immense flocks of blackbirds. They reminded me very forcibly of the poet’s line—
“The birds of heaven shall vindicate their grain.”
Mr. Holliday the elder and his son made several unsuccessful shots at them. I did not regret their ill success, and was pleased to hear them singing—
“As sweetly and gayly as ever before.”
We met several canoes of Menomonies. We stopped for dinner near a lodge of them, who were in a starving condition. I distributed bread and corn among them. They presented me a couple of dishes of a species of berry, which they call Neekimen-een, or Brant-berry. It is a black, tasteless berry, a little larger than the whortleberry. We encamped at the head of Pukwa Lake.