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Curtiss-Wedge, F.; Jones, Geo. O. (ed.) / History of Dunn County, Wisconsin

Chapter II: early lumbering operations,   pp. 7-19

Page 9

HISTORY OF DUNN COUNTY                         9
"I had a canoe manned with a half breed Winnebago, who spoke Chippewa, and
together with Armstrong and the Frenchman who had come down with him, put
out at once, taking in my canoe provisions enough for myself and crew to reach the
mill. We had proceeded about forty miles up the Mississippi, when early in the
morning at a sand-bar, in the middle of the channel about one fourth of a mile from
the shore, I met a canoe with a Menomonee half-breed and a large athletic Ohioan
by the name of Hartwell, whom I had never seen before. Armstrong had engaged
him as carpenter, and taken him to the mill without my having seen him, or knowing
his narn e. I asked them where they were going, and they said to the Prairie. I
said, "no -you must return with me."  I knew that the half-breed would obev
without difficulty, but Hartwell said he was going to the Prairie, and I knew in order
to take all of them back, I must take these back as I met them. Hartwell was a
strong man and armed with a rifle, but I said to him, "This canoe at least is mine,
and does not go to the Prairie; you can take you choice, whether to go back, or to
remain oil this sand-bar."
"He concluded to go back, and for fear that they might give me the slip, I got
into the canoe with them and we proceeded up the river about ten miles farther,
where we met all the Canadians with the half-breed Menomonee woman, when we
all put ashore. I told them that they must go back to the mill, which they refused
to do. I soon discovered, as I had suspected, that the woman was the leader of
the party, and I bribed her to go back. She consented, and the others followed her
example. She and her husband were in a large canoe, not half finished, which
would go hard up stream. From the manner of her consenting so readily to return,
I suspected that she intended as soon as they could lag a little behind, and get some
point between me and them, to slip down the stream, which I afterwards learned
was really their intention. To prevent this, I told them, as they were weak-handed,
and had a heavy canoe, that I would embark with them and help paddle. I paddled
all day, and made a good day's work up stream, and encamped in a channel of the
river opposite to Wabashaw's Prairie.
"The men had only taken provisions enough to last them to the Prairie, and it
was soon seen that my stock would not be sufficient for the additional mouths until
we reached the boat. In camp at night one of the men named Francis La Pointe,
a native of Prairie du Chien, and well acquainted with the customs of the Indians,
told me that it was but a short distance across the country to the Chippewa, where
the boat then was; and proposed to go there, take a canoe and meet us with pro-
visions, which I requested him to do. He accordingly after breakfast borrowed a.
gun, took some crackers in his pocket, and started across, while we proceeded up
the channel along under the bluffs for about five miles to where the canoes cross the
Mississippi to the western side. Just as we were about putting off from the shore,
La Pointe came running down the hill hallooing, "Indians."  The canoes were all
putting out into the river, but I ordered the canoe that I was in to put to shore,
and take the man in, confiding, at the time, in his statement.
"La Pointe had on, when he started, two cotton shirts, and when he returned
one of the shirts was nearly cut from him, and several stabs through the other. He-
had thrown away all his ammunition and his hat, and stated that after crossing
the hill and getting into a ravine of tall grass, that five Chippewa Indians suddenly-
surrounded him, took away his powder, shot and provisions, cut his hat and shirt-
all to pieces, called him a dog, and would have taken his gun had he not begged hard
to retain it, telling them that it was not his. He told so probable a story of what
would naturally be the conduct of a war party of Indians, that I at first believed
him, but we stopped shortly after for dinner, and although the men pretended to
be much afraid of the Indians, I discovered something in their conduct that satisfied
me, that it was a hoax. They proposed to turn back to Prairie du Chien for fear
of the Indians, but I told them that I was never in the habit of turning back through
fear, until I saw there was really danger, and that I did not require them to run
any risk which I would not myself freely share."
"We finally proceeded on quietly until near the mouth of Riviere Au Boeuf or
Buffalo River, when Armstrong and the man who came down with him, who were

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