Epidemical condition of the atmosphere at Detroit—Death
of Henry J.
Hunt and A. G. Whitney, Esqrs.—Diary of the visits of Indians at St.
Mary’s Agency—Indian affairs on the frontier under the supervision of
Col. McKenney—Criticisms on the state of Indian questions—Topic of
Indian eloquence—State of American researches in natural science—Dr.
Saml. L. Mitchell.
1826. September. Sickness, which often assumed a mortal type, broke out during this month at Detroit, and carried away many of its most esteemed citizens. Col. McKenney writes (Sep. 13th) that the Commissioners reached that place from Mackinac in ten days, and that an alarming sickness prevails—one hundred cases! Among the latter is Mrs. Judge Hunt, an esteemed lady.
Gov. C. (Sep. 14th) announces the death of Col. Henry J. Hunt, one of the most respectable citizens; a man who, for many years, has occupied a position of the highest respect and esteem. His honor, integrity, and general usefulness, urbanity of manners and kindness to all classes, have never been called in question, and his loss to society will create a vacancy which will long be felt. Called away suddenly, his death has produced a shock in all classes, from the highest to the lowest.
Edmund A. Brush, Esq., writes (Sept. 17th): “Our unhappy mortality prevails.” On the 23d, he says: “Mr. Whitney has been lying at the point of death for the last ten or twelve days. We hope he begins to improve.” These hopes were delusive. He died. Mr. Whitney had been abroad; he was an assiduous and talented advocate—a native of Hudson, N.Y.—was on the high road to political distinction—a moral man and a public loss.
I amused myself this fall by keeping notes of the official visits of my Indian neighbors. They may denote the kind of daily wants against which this people struggle.
Oct. 2d. Monetogeezhig complained that he had not been able to take any fish for several days, and solicited some food for himself and family, being five persons. The dress and general appearance of himself and wife and the children, nearly naked, bore evidence to the truth of his repeated expressions, that they were “poor, very poor, and hungry.” He also presented a kettle and an axe to be repaired. I gave him a ticket on the Agency blacksmith, and caused sixteen rations of flour and pork to be issued to him.
3d. The petty chief, Cheegud, with his wife and two children, arrived from Lake Superior, and reported that since leaving the Taquimenon he had killed nothing. While inland, he had broken his axe and trap. This young chief is son-in-law of Shingauba W’ossin, principal chief of the Chippewas. He is one of the home band, has been intimate at the agency from its establishment, and is very much attached to the government. He attended the treaty of Prairie du Chien, in 1825, and the treaty of Fond du Lac, in 1826, and received at the latter a medal of the third size. He has always properly appreciated the presents given him, and by his temperate, consistent, and respectable course of life, merited attention. Directed a ticket on the shop and twenty rations.