Incidents of the summer during the establishment of the new post at St. Mary’s—Life in a nut-shell—Scarcity of room—High prices of everything—State of the Indians—Their rich and picturesque costume—Council and its incidents—Fort site selected and occupied—The evil of ardent spirits amongst the Indians—Note from Governor De Witt Clinton—Mountain ash—Curious superstitions of the Odjibwas—Language—Manito poles—Copper—Superstitious regard for Venus—Fine harbor in Lake Superior—Star family—A locality of necromancers—Ancient Chippewa capital—Eating of animals.
1822. July 7th. We left our pallets at the sound of the reveille, and partook of a rich cup of coffee, with cream, which smoked on the camp breakfast-board of our kind entertainer, Captain Thompson. The ladies and children came up from the steamer, under due escorts, during the day, and were variously accommodated with temporary quarters. Dr. Wheaton and lady, Captain Brant, quartermaster, and myself, were received eventually at the table of Mr. Johnston. Captain Brant and myself hired a small room hard by for an office to be used between us. This room was a small log tenement, which had been occupied by one of Mr. J.’s hands. It was about twelve by fourteen feet, with a small window in front and in rear, and a very rural fire-place in one corner. It is astonishing how much comfort can be enjoyed in a crowded and ill-fitted place on a pinch. We felicitated ourselves at even this. We really felt that we were quite fortunate in getting such a locality to hail from. Captain N.S. Clark got an adjoining tenement, of similar construction and use, but much larger, for his numerous family. Some of the ladies took shelter at the domicil of an intelligent American family (Mr. E.B. Allen’s) who had preceded us a short time with an adventure of merchandise. One or two of the ladies abode temporarily in the tents of their husbands. The unmarried officers looked for nothing better than life in camp. I accepted an invitation at the mess-table of the officers. Besides this sudden influx of population, there were followers and hucksters of various hues who hoped to make their profits from the soldiery. There was not a nook in the scraggy-looking little antique village but what was sought for with avidity and thronged with occupants. Whoever has seen a flock of hungry pigeons, in the spring, alight on the leaf-covered ground, beneath a forest, and apply the busy powers of claw and beak to obtain a share of the hidden acorns that may be scratched up from beneath, may form some just notion of the pressing hurry and bustle that marked life in this place. The enhanced price that everything bore was one of the results of this sudden influx of consumers and occupants.
[Footnote 15: This officer fell at the battle of Ochechubby, in Florida, as colonel of the sixth infantry, gallantly leading his men to battle.]