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Michigan (1856)
Its geography, history and resources.
  • Transcribed December 2006.
  • Note: The following is an excerpt from the book, below it is a complete index of the book's content and link to the source of the pdf file.









    French agriculture – Population – Geography – Geology -- The lower peninsula – White-oak openings – Burr-oak openings – “Catholes” – Pine woods of the north – Windfalls – Soil and fruits of the lower peninsula – Pasturage Settlements of Michigan – Commercial advantages Detroit and other ports – Site for a great central city – The rivers The lakes around Michigan – Improved lands – Annual products – Schools, churches, and other institutions – Attractions to the settler – Exemption laws.

    Pages 172-189:

    MICHIGAN, on the first clay of July, 1805, entered upon the first grade of territorial government, under the provisions of the ordinance of 1787. General William Hull was appointed governor; and Detroit was the seat of government. The southern boundary of Michigan Territory, according to the act of Congress, was to be a line running due east from the most southern part of Lake Michigan to Maumee Bay. At the time of its organization, the population of the territory, exclusive of the troops of the western army, did not exceed three thousand; for the early emigration to the West, at the beginning of this century, before the era of steam navigation on the lakes, had taken a more southern route, and had flowed into the country bordering upon the Ohio River. Michigan was then very difficult of access. The territory was little known, and but few persons attempted to reach its borders. The increase in the number of the inhabitants went on so slowly that, in 1810, it contained only eight thousand four hundred souls.

    In 1796, when Michigan, for the first time, had come


    into the hands of the Americans, the population, on both sides of the strait, from Lake St. Clair to the River Raisin, was almost exclusively Canadian French. They were an extremely ignorant people, and made most miserable cultivators of the soil. Their farms were only a few rods in width upon the river, and ran back nearly two miles, for quantity. The Canadian French seem to have had no idea of any improvement in agriculture having been made by any body, since Noah had planted his vine yard at the foot of Mount Ararat. They continued to plow, and sow, and reap, just as their fathers had done time out of mind. Whenever a field had become exhausted, it was abandoned. Instead of striving to enrich their lands, the people trusted to the efficacy of prayers, and threw the manure into the river. Under such treatment, the soil, of necessity, had become reduced, yielding light crops, and provisions were extravagantly high.

    About the year 1830, the tide of emigration began to set toward that territory. The population had then become increased to twenty-eight thousand. Steamboat navigation had been opening a new commerce upon the lakes, encircling all the lower peninsula of Michigan. A fleet of a hundred sail, sloops and schooners, was engaged in traversing every part of these inland waters. On the fifteenth day of June, 1836, a state constitution had been adopted, and Michigan was admitted into the Union in the January following, with a population of nearly a hundred thousand. Emigrants began to flock in rapidly from the middle states, and from New England. The number of inhabitants, at the present time, is about three hundred and ninety-eight thousand; of which Connecticut has furnished seven thousand; Massachusetts, eight thousand; Vermont, twelve thousand; and New York, one hundred and thirty-four thousand.

    The lower peninsula of Michigan is nearly three hundred miles in length, from north to south, and one hundred and twenty miles in width, having an area of about forty thousand square miles. It is skirted by a belt of heavily-timbered land, about twenty-five miles deep, surrounding the entire lake coast, and lying several feet below the level of the adjoining openings. The tract of timbered land, along the eastern side of the peninsula, is generally a dead level. The whole interior, however, is gently rolling, and, in some parts, hilly, though but slightly so, just sufficient for wholesome running water. The dividing ridge which gives rise to the river system of Michigan, is considerably east of a line drawn from Michilimackmac through the center of the state to the boundary of Ohio; and the whole western slope descends gradually from that ridge, with an even, unbroken surface, to Lake Michigan. The coast, however, is everywhere high above the level of the lakes ; and along lakes Huron and Michigan the banks are steep, and varying from one hundred to three hundred feet in height.

    The lower peninsula is of the same geological formation as western New York. Its rocks consist of horizontal strata of limestones, sandstones, and slates; the limestones being found along the rivers near the lakes, and the sandstones in the interior. The soil is either alluvial or diluvial, and has a depth varying from one foot to one hundred and fifty feet. Quarries of sandstone have been opened at several places on the Grand River. It admits of being easily quarried, furnishing a good building material, and is frequently used for grindstones. The limestone of Michigan is, for the most part, quite compact, and well adapted to agricultural purposes, generally producing a valuable lime upon burning, though sometimes too siliceous to be of the best quality.


    Gypsum has been found in several localities. And in all those places where the limestone formation exists, there are indications of bituminous coal. The lower peninsula presents three different general aspects to the traveler passing through it, from south to north. The first is the region of plains or openings. These are not bare of trees, like prairies, nor are they covered uniformly and evenly with timber. The growth and density of the wood that is scattered over them is extremely various, though all the openings are alike free from underbrush, and a wagon might be driven miles on miles without obstruction, or having scarcely to turn out for a fallen tree. The timber of the openings consists entirely of oak and hickory. The latter clusters almost always in groves, to the exclusion of other varieties, the trees being merely young, thrifty saplings, from three inches to ten inches through, at the root, and from twenty to thirty feet high. These groves are found mostly upon the elevated portions of gentle swells of ground, covering a few acres, and surrounded every way by oak. The hickories generally stand quite thickly, as though they had been purposely planted for the sake of nurseries of that timber, as the locust tree is raised in some parts of New York.

    The name of the white-oak openings will indicate the variety of timber to be found wherever they exist. The trees will be seen standing far apart, in size from one to two feet through, the lower limbs, ten or twelve feet, above the ground, huge and gnarled, spreading out wide, and supporting magnificent tops of branches and leaves, precisely like the cherished homestead trees of an older country. On the “timbered” openings, the oaks grow taller, and the bark is smoother; but they do not attain to the height of those on timbered lands. Then, again, there are plains of red-oak, a tree which frequently stretches up higher than the white-oak, its bark almost black, its body covered with pins formed of the hearts of burnt limbs, rough, scraggy, and so fastened together with knots as to bid defiance to wedges and beetles. Here and there, however, will be found one, large and tall, that will split as free as a shingle. Such are selected for “shakes” and the settler delights in them for rails.

    Also the bur-oak openings will inform the reader of the variety of oak growing upon them. These openings are the pride of Michigan. The bur-oak is slender and tapering like a poplar. The bark is lighter and spongier than the white-oak, the tree altogether more delicate, and the limbs more graceful. Scattered over the surface at regular intervals, nearly uniform in size, and about twenty five feet in height, they present the appearance of pear trees planted in immense orchards. The bur-oak derives its name from the clusters of acorns which hang like burs upon the ends of the slender twigs, and crown the very top of the tree. A drove of hogs, turned out to feed, will start on a run for a bur-oak opening, and champ the acorns as they would corn. Bruin knows how sweet these acorns are, and he frequently leaves his mark on the limbs and on the bark. The wild pigeons, in countless numbers, will hover, and flutter, and flap among the bur-oaks.

    The openings of Michigan do not, by any means, present an uniform appearance. Beside the different varieties of timber, and the gentle undulation of the surface, there are frequent springs of water, forming into streams, along which the woods, preserved from the ravages of fire, grow up thick and dark, stretching out like long arms and elbows throughout the country, adding to the interest and beauty of the landscapes. There are also frequent


    cat-holes or little circular basins, some of them as regular as a bowl, from a few rods to two or three acres over, grown up to whortleberry bushes and alders. And sometimes, sunk down below the general level of the country, one will find wet meadows of rank grass, among which the cranberry stretches out its delicate vine. It is doubtful whether there is a more beautiful region in the United States than that of the openings of Michigan, which, commencing near Detroit, extend clear across the state.

    On going toward the north, the timber becomes more and more plentiful. Beeches begin to mingle with the oaks. And, in a day or two, beeches and maples will predominate over other varieties of timber. Huge whitewoods and basswoods will be seen towering above the forest. The white-ash, the shag-bark, the black-cherry, will have become abundant. The woods will seem to have been growing darker and denser every mile of the way. Soon the traveler will doubt whether Omnipotence himself could have planted the trees larger, taller, and thicker together than they are. A broad-horned ox would have to tip his head on one side, in order to pass through between them. The ground is slippery with decaying leaves. Further on, the timber gradually begins to lessen, and, after a while, openings again appear along the high, abrupt banks of the Grand River. These northern openings, some thirty miles in width, are not so beautiful as the southern, but they spread out fairer and more invitingly to the settler. For there, little prairies abound, just big enough for farms, and belted with timber.

    Pressing still forward, the emigrant will enter the great pine woods of the north. For a while, however, before reaching them, he will have been wandering through groves of oak, and along the borders of natural meadows, and through clumps of beech and maple. Now and then a pine or two will have been seen standing out like sentinels. But soon, as with a single step, the timber has become all yellow pine; moaning overhead, darkening all the ground, shutting out the sun, shutting out the wind. With outstretched arms, the trees might almost be reached on either hand, while passing along. The tall trunks support the dark-green canopy full fifty feet above the earth. Many of the trunks from the base of the leafy top, half way down to the ground, are thorny and jagged with the stubs of dead limbs. But the trees are, nevertheless, sound and thrifty.

    (Reference to dense forests in Saginaw Bay area.)

    The belt of pine timber, and nothing but pine, is about twenty-five miles in width, stretching from Saginaw Bay directly across the peninsula of Michigan. Wherever in all that region there have been windfalls, the pine has been replaced by the thickest masses of oak and beech saplings that ever was contemplated by man. A wolf could hardly crawl through one of them without taking every hair off his hide. In vain you poke the bushes aside, to look in; you can not see a foot beyond your nose; it is all bushes, thick as a hatchel, and limbs intertwining. On asking a surveyor of the government lands how they managed with the windfalls, he replied: “that’s nothing. We clomb on top and walked over, just as easy.” After a while, to the northward, the pine appears to be confined to the little ridges, that rise up like back-bones between the streams. Wherever the rivers make a bend, on the hollowing side will be found a heavy growth of black ash. Now and then a clump of cedars will appear, each tree leaning away from the rest, and some of them twisting round at least “sixteen times in a foot.” The level lands have again become covered with beech and maple, of a full, luxuriant growth, with here and there a gigantic Norway pine, six feet through, without a limb, till it begins to stretch up half its length above the surrounding trees. These are the general aspects of Michigan, as seen on a tour through the center of the peninsula, from Coldwater, in Branch county, to the straits of Michilimackinac.

    The soil of the lower peninsula is of great depth and fertility. That which covers the openings and the pine lands is a sandy loam, easily worked, and yielding large crops of wheat, corn, and potatoes. All the varieties of fruits to be found in western New York thrive there in great vigor and productiveness. The apple, the peach, the pear, seem native to the climate. Garden vegetables attain a surprising growth. The plains abound in strawberries. Throughout all the timbered lowlands there are thick clusters of wild currants and gooseberries. The whortleberries grow large and luscious. The wild cranberries furnish a convenient sauce, and an article of great market value. The soil of the timbered lands is slightly heavier than that of the openings, but it is still sandy rather than clayey. Vines of all kinds are astonishingly thrifty. A tomato plant will grow as high as a man s head, and will yield bushels of fruit. The pumpkin vine will run over logs, stumps, brush-heaps, and cover half a field with great yellow pumpkins. A single cantaloupe vine has been known to yield twenty large, delicious melons. In all the openings, “the mast” is abundant. Hogs turned out to grass will become fat on the acorns alone.

    Pasturage is every where plentiful, on the plains until after the frosts of October, and then it is found in the timbered swales. Many of the wet meadows will yield red-top at the rate of two and three tons to the acre. And further north, among the heavy timber, there are marshes covered with a hardy reed, or flag, which the frost never kills to the ground, but a green, juicy stub, six inches in length, will remain all winter, just beneath the snow; and great droves of cattle, turned out in the sheltering woods, will thrive on these, alone, and come out in good condition in the spring.

    The settlements of Michigan are mostly confined to the openings, and to the intervening belt of timber. Population has not extended more than thirty miles north of the Grand River. Emigration would seem to have swept straight across the southern half of the peninsula. In earlier times, two principal wagon roads existed; the old Territorial Road, through Ann Arbor, Jackson, and Marshall, and the South or State Road, through Ypsilanti, Tecumseh, and Jonesville; and the settlers, arriving at Detroit and at Toledo, would follow one or the other of these routes. Those who designed going to the Grand River country, had to make the voyage of the lakes. And now, the two great thoroughfares of the peninsula, the Michigan Central Railroad, and the Michigan Southern Railroad, are laid along those same lines of travel. Michigan would seem to have been made a mere roadway for the states beyond it. Population, therefore, has not reached far above these principal routes; for it has been easier to go to Iowa than to the central parts of Michigan. Some time or other, a railroad will be built on the line from Michilimackinac through Lansing, the capital of the state, and, intersecting the Central and Southern roads at Jackson and at Jonesville, will make easily accessible the pine region north of the Grand River.

    There is probably no state in the Union which surpasses Michigan in its commercial advantages. It is admirably situated for drawing to itself the interior trade of America. The lower peninsula is inclosed on all sides but one, by four lakes: Erie, St. Clair, Huron, and Michigan. The extent of the coast line, thus furnished, is about seven


    hundred and fifty miles. Unlike most other commercial sites, that are considered to be favorably situated if they have one border only lying along the sea, Michigan is nearly surrounded by water, scarcely an acre of its land is any where over seventy miles from a lake shore. Its ports, large and commodious, open toward all the points of the compass, except the south. Its productions, therefore, can easily be floated off westward, and northward, and eastward; and from these same directions, every species of merchandise that may be desirable can be imported into the state. Michigan has more natural harbors, that will involve little expense and labor to render them available in all seasons to all classes of shipping, than any other state bordering on the lakes. An enumeration of the ports and harbors will show how grandly Michigan is situated for carrying on an extensive commerce with the lakes.

    First in order, along the great watery girdle around the state, is the city of Monroe, in the south-eastern part, at the base of the peninsula. Monroe is finely located on the River Raisin, two and one-half miles above Lake Erie. It is distant from Lansing, the capital of Michigan, eighty-seven miles, and from Detroit, forty miles. The country back of Monroe is level, having a sandy and fertile soil, and yielding largely of all the grains, fruits, and grasses. Building stone is found in that vicinity, of an excellent quality. And the sulphur springs are beginning to attract attention. The river, above the city, affords exhaustless supplies of water-power. The harbor, at all times, is accessible to vessels of the largest class. Monroe is an important point in the great thoroughfare of western travel and transportation. It is the eastern terminus of the Michigan Southern Railroad, and it has daily lines of steamboats, which connect it with Buffalo, and all the ports on Lake Erie. The Toledo, Norwalk, and Cleveland Railroad has brought Monroe into communication, overland, with the Atlantic cities; and its railroad connections with the country to the far West are interrupted only by the Mississippi River.

    But Detroit is the great commercial center of the state, although located upon the extreme eastern border. The city extends along the bank of the river for more than three miles. The business part of it is about seven miles below Lake St. Clair, and eighteen miles above Lake Erie. It has the finest harbor in all the west. The French word, D Etroit, signifies strait, which is a more appropriate appellation for the connecting stream between the upper and the lower lakes than the word river, which usually is applied to it. That strait, of an average depth of thirty-two feet, with an equable current of two and onehalf miles an hour, is half a mile wide between the docks at Detroit and the docks opposite, at Sandwich. The channel is nowhere interrupted by rocks, and the stream is so deep and swift that it keeps itself clear of sand-bars and sawyers. The strait is closed but a little while during the winter, for its powerful current will wear away the thickest ice in a short time; and the floating ice, drifting from the lakes above, is borne along with an uniform movement, which does not permit of the formation of dams, like those of the St. Lawrence, at Montreal. These peculiarities of the strait make Detroit a secure and accessible harbor, at all seasons of the year. It is thronged with shipping. Detroit is the eastern terminus of the Michigan Central Railroad, as Sandwich, immediately opposite, is the western terminus of the Great Western Railway through Canada.

    Mount Clemens is situated on the Clinton River, which empties into Lake St. Clair. Algonac, Newport, and St. Clair are situated upon the St. Clair River. All of these


    ports have good harbors.

    (Reference to Saginaw.)

    The St. Clair river is forty miles long, with a broad, deep current, of three miles an hour. The average depth of the channel is fifty feet. The river is half a mile wide. Five miles above Lake St. Clair, the river divides, and flows through six channels into the lake; the more northerly one alone is navigable. Port Huron, situated at the mouth of Black River, two miles south of Lake Huron, has a good harbor, and possesses superior advantages for ship-building. Saginaw is situated near the head of the bay of the same name. The city stands on the west bank of the Saginaw River, at an elevation of thirty feet above the water.

    The Saginaw River has a depth of twenty-five feet, and upon the bar. at its mouth, eight feet. The bay is sixty miles long, and thirty miles wide, and its shores are indented with innumerable coves, which form some of the most convenient harbors on Lake Huron.

    Further up the lake, Thunder Bay is a most excellent harbor. The depth of water is thirty feet. The bay is sheltered by several islands at its entrance. A considerable river of the same name comes in at the head, and a number of smaller streams; and at the extreme north is Michilimackinac. If one were to point out on the map of North America, a site for a great central city in the lake region, it would be in the immediate vicinity of the straits of Michilimackinac. A city so located would have the control of the mineral trade, the fisheries, the furs, and the lumber of the entire north. It might become the metropolis of a great commercial empire. It would be the Venice of the lakes.

    Following along down Lake Michigan, we come to Little Traverse Bay, and Grand Traverse Bay, each magnificent harbors. A rail road constructed from the latter bay to Saginaw would open all the upper half of the southern peninsula of Michigan. Next in order, are the mouths of the Manistee, White, and Muskegon Rivers, which are said to have convenient harbors.

    Grand Haven, at the mouth of the Grand River, is one of the best harbors on Lake Michigan. The water, on the bar, is never less than twelve feet deep; in the harbor it averages twenty-five feet. The Grand River is about one-fourth of a mile wide, and is navigable by steamboats, forty miles, to the rapids, at all seasons, and at high water to Ionia and Lyons. It is a noble river of clear and swift water, two hundred and seventy miles in length. The principal branches are the Rogue, Flat, Maple, Looking-glass, Red Cedar, and Thorn-apple rivers all large streams, flowing through some of the choicest lands in the state, and furnishing an abundance of water-power.

    Kalamazoo River is a magnificent stream, two hundred miles in length, and navigable for vessels of forty tons, to Allegan, thirty-eight miles above its mouth. The depth of water on the bar is eight feet.

    St. Josephs River is two hundred and fifty miles long, and winds round through northern Indiana. At its mouth is a sand bar with six feet of water. The river is a thousand feet in width. At its mouth, the village of St. Josephs occupies a commanding site, at an elevation of sixty feet above the water.

    These are the harbors, and these the rivers of the lower peninsula of Michigan. The majority of them are, as yet, appropriated, almost exclusively, to the lumber trade. The northern branches of the Grand River;the Muskegon, White, and Manistee rivers; the Thunder Bay, and the AuSable rivers; the Saginaw River, and its branches; the Cass, and Flint, and Shiawasse, and Tittibawasse, and the Black, and the Clinton rivers all open into a region of the choicest timber. The pine lumber of


    Michigan is equal to any in the world, and the demand for it has increased prodigiously within a few years. The lakes around Michigan furnish that state with a theater for the grandest display of commercial enterprise.

    Lake Erie is two hundred and sixty-five miles in length, and averages thirty-five miles in width. Its mean depth is one hundred and thirty feet. It opens to Michigan the trade of the East.

    Lake St. Clair is about ninety miles in circumference, and twenty feet deep. The passage at the head of that lake into the St. Clair River is, for a little way, extremely difficult. At a trifling expense, the channel might be kept open to vessels of the largest class. The general government, heretofore, has neglected to make appropriations for the improvement of the channel through the St. Clair Flats, leaving millions of dollars annually to be stuck in the mud, because, forsooth, the mud is fresh-water mud, instead of salt. The policy of certain American statesmen, respecting the improvement of western rivers, has been childish in the extreme. Who ever heard, before, of the constitutional rights of a great commercial people being regulated by the ebbings and flowings of the tides. It is a wronder that it has not been suggested to those astute minds, to put the constitution itself into pickle. Now, the St. Clair Flats, (out of Congress,) lie between Algonac and the mouth of the Thames River. They are extremely shoal, covered all over with luxuriant crops of wild rice, through which the channel, crooked and narrow, rarely has a depth of water to exceed nine feet. From the principal passage, looking toward the Canadian coast, the whole expanse, for miles, is a waving morass of rice, intersected by small, winding bayous. Every northern state has an immediate interest in the removal of the obstructions of the St. Clair River. A commerce of the value of more than hundred million dollars, and a licensed tonnage of steam and sail-craft, amounting in the aggregate to forty thousand tons, are put in jeopardy every year.

    Lake Huron is two hundred and sixty miles in length, and one hundred and sixty in width, inclusive of the Georgian Bay, a vast expanse of itself, almost divided from the lake by a continuous chain of islands. Lake Huron is said to contain more than thirty thousand islands, principally near the northern shore. Its greatest depth is one thousand feet. A railroad runs across through Canada, from Toronto to Collingwood, at the head of Nottawasaga Bay on Georgian Bay; and another from Buffalo through Brantford, to be completed to Goderich, on the eastern shore of the lake. The principal harbors of Lake Huron are on the western side, which will give to Michigan the largest share of its commerce.

    Lake Michigan is three hundred and sixty miles in length, with an average breadth of sixty miles. It has a mean depth of nine hundred feet. Its surface is four feet higher than that of Lake Huron, and six hundred feet above the level of the Atlantic Ocean. On the western side is Green Bay, one hundred miles long and thirty broad, through which, and the Fox and Wisconsin rivers, navigation can easily be opened between the lakes and the Mississippi. The same communication has been effected by the canal at Chicago, connecting with the Illinois River.

    Being so situated in the heart of the lake country, Michigan may participate very largely in the commerce of the whole interior of the continent. And that state possesses within itself the means of supporting the most extensive commercial enterprises. Its soil, throughout, is of surpassing fertility. Only one-third of the land is improved; yet the produce annually is, as follows: Wheat, five million bushels; corn, six million bushels; oats, three million bushels; and potatoes, three million bushels. The yield of maple-sugar is two and one-half million pounds. The live stock within the state is valued at ten million dollars. The wool clipped annually, is about three million pounds; the butter made, seven and one-half million pounds; cheese, near two million pounds. The value of the animals slaughtered is about one and one-half million of dollars. The total amount of the yearly products of manufacturers is nearly eleven million dollars. The whole northern half of the lower peninsula, covered with magnificent forests, though scarcely yet broken into, yields astonishing quantities of lumber. The saw-mills are already cutting over three hundred and ten million feet of sawed lumber annually.

    The ports of Algonac, Mount Clemens, St. Clair, Port Huron, and Saginaw, on the eastern side, and the Grand River, the Muskegon, White, and Manistee rivers, on the western side, are the avenues through which the lumber of Michigan finds its way to market. While the ports at Grand Haven, Allegan, and St. Josephs, and at Detroit and Monroe, are crowded with grain and other agricultural productions.

    The whole amount of property owned in the state is valued at sixty million dollars. Michigan is entitled to four representatives in Congress. The number of public schools is about three thousand five hundred. A State Normal School has been established at Ypsilanti, with an ample endowment of school lands. The principal collegiate institution is the University at Ann Arbor. The total number of libraries is three hundred and eighty-one, containing about seventy thousand volumes. About seventy periodicals are published in the State, of which thirty are of a literary, scientific, or religious character.

    Michigan contains about four hundred churches, accommodating nearly an hundred and twenty-five thousand persons. Michigan may be far behind Ohio; but it should be remembered that Ohio has had more than thirty years the start - Michigan presents many attractions to the settler; and among those, the beautiful little lakes, scattered profusely over its surface, through the openings and the timbered lands alike, must not be forgotten. These cover from one acre to five hundred acres, clear and deep waters, alive with fish. Some of the lakes have neither inlet nor outlet, being fed with springs just equal to the evaporation. But most of them send forth copious streams. There are places, among the openings, where, standing on a hill, one may see half a dozen of these lakelets, nestling together.

    Another advantage in settling in Michigan is, that it is about half-way between the East and the West. One does not have to go to the other side of creation to get there; and the inhabitants may well deem themselves located just about in the center of the world. A strong inducement, also, is found in the fact, that the government lands in Michigan have been in market, most of them, over ten years, and have fallen in prices to one dollar an acre. The land-offices are situated at Detroit, Ionia, and Michilimackinac.

    The exemption laws of Michigan are extremely liberal toward her citizens. A correct view of household property would seem to have been taken by the legislature; that the property of the husband necessary to the sustenance of the family belongs to the family, and should not be alienated by mortgage, or lien, without the consent of the wife.

    In addition to the usual exemption of a seat in a church, a cemetery, arms, and accouterments, and household utensils, and stores, the exemption includes the following property, viz.: All wearing apparel of every person or family; school books and library, to the value of one hundred and fifty dollars; household goods and furniture, to the same amount; ten sheep, two cows, five swine, and feed for them; and provisions and fuel for the family for six months; tools, implements, materials, stocks, apparatus, team, vehicle, horses, harness, or other things, to carry on a trade, occupation, or business, not exceeding in value two hundred and fifty dollars. And all chattel mortgages, bills of sale, or other liens on such property, are declared void, unless signed by the wife.

    In addition to the foregoing, forty acres of land, the dwelling-house thereon, and the appurtenances, are also exempt. So, where a man shall occupy a house on land not his own, the house is exempt.


    The following is full listing of this book's contents which may be viewed online at [Archive.org]


    CHAPTER I. (Page 18)
  • Early emigration to the West Motives of the emigrants.
  • Their independence and perils
  • The western fever.
  • The substantial settler
  • Convenionces for traveling fifty years ago
  • The openhearted frontiersman
  • The solitudes of the forest
  • Modes of conveyance
  • The old-fashioned Jersey-wagon
  • The season for emigration
  • The preparation
  • The good-by start
  • Progress
  • The wayside meal Incidents by the way
  • The buried treasure.
  • Territory included in the Great West
  • Water-shed, or divide The rivers and their tributaries
  • The fur hunter s canoe-passage to the Gulf of Mexico River system
  • Progress of the French missionaries, as early as 1632
  • Nicolet
  • His influence over the Indians
  • The journey of his life
  • His reception at Green Bay Council with the chiefs
  • Iroquois war
  • Its effects on the missions
  • The great river west of the lakes
  • Claude Allouez, the first explorer of Lake Michigan
  • Frozen in on Lake Michigan
  • Sailing on the ice in a canoe
  • Pitch Rock
  • Visit to the villages of the Illinois
  • M. Joliet and James Marquette explorers of the Mississippi
  • Their birth, education, and character
  • Marquette among the missions
  • Visited by the Illinois Indians
  • Contemplates exploring the Mississippi alone
  • Is stationed at Michilimackinac
  • Arrival of Joliet with orders to explore the Mississippi
  • Prayers and thanksgiving for the favors conferred on them
  • Preparation and outfit
  • The Canadian canoe
  • Departure from Michilimackinac
  • Wild oats The tide at Green Bay
  • Ascending the Fox River
  • Indian village on the shore of Lake Winnebago
  • Wisconsin River
  • Its peculiarities
  • Joy at reaching the Mississippi
  • Strange fish The abundance of game
  • Foot-prints on the shore
  • Discover an Indian village
  • Council Feast of corn meal, fish, and boiled dog
  • Presented with a calumet
  • A strange plant
  • Monsters painted on a rock
  • Frightful appearance of the water, at the junction of the Missouri
  • Clay paint
  • Indian method of dealing with musquitoes and Sawyers
  • Arkansas Indians Return up the Mississippi and Illinois
  • Portage to Chicago
  • Arrival at Green Bay
  • James Marquette sets out on a return to Chicago, to instruct the*
  • Illinois Indians
  • Is detained all winter at the portage by sick ness
  • Reaches the Illinois country in April, and founds a mission
  • His maladay increasing, he sets out on his return to Michilimackinac
  • Driven by westerly winds to the mouth of the St. Joseph s
  • Becomes too weak to proceed
  • Expires on a bed of boughs, on the shore of Lake Michigan
  • Ottawa and French rivers
  • Robert Cavalier de La Salle, first navigator upon the lakes
  • His patent for the monopoly of the trade of the West
  • The Griffin, the first sail vessel built on the Lakes
  • Her first and only trip
  • La Salle's misfortune
  • Descends the Mississippi
  • Loses one of his hunters in the woods
  • Takes formal possession of the country at the mouth of the Mississippi
  • Plate engraved, and deposited in the earth
  • La Salle goes to France
  • Returns with three ships
  • The store-ship dashed in pieces on the coast of Texas
  • One hundred men lost by sickness
  • La Salle and sixteen men set out overland for the Illinois
  • La Salle murdered by two of his companions
  • Destruction of Montreal by the Iroquois
  • Iroquois conquered
  • Treaty of peace
  • French emigration
  • Fort Chartres
  • Manufacture of flour in the Wabash country
  • The adaptation of the Indian manners, etc., by the French
  • Its effects
  • Description of the French settlements
  • Dress of the settlers
  • Inroads upon the French
  • Attempts of the Spaniards to dispossess the French
  • Their defeat, and overthrow of the Santa Fe expedition
  • Progress of English settlements toward the West
  • An English trader among the French
  • His fate
  • The Ohio Company's grunt
  • Gov. Dinwiddie dispatches Geo. Washington with a message to the French
  • Beginning of the French war
  • The West open to English emigration
  • Taking possession of the military posts
  • Robert Rogers Rangers
  • Character of the Rangers
  • The Hangers at Cleveland
  • Visit from Pontiac
  • The forts delivered to the English
    CHAPTER VI. (Page 99)
  • Manner of trading with the Indians
  • Early routes to the West
  • The Albany route
  • The Philadelphia route
  • The Indian trader
  • His dress
  • Trading stations
  • The Indian s notion of the surveyors compass and chain
  • The Acadians
  • Destruction of their property
  • Transported to the sea-coast
  • They gather, and emigrate in a body to the French settlements
  • Received with great hospitality
  • The Indian character
    CHAPTER VII. -- PONTIAC'S WAR. (Page 110)
  • Pontiac
  • Indian method of drilling their warriors
  • Pontiac assembles a council
  • Pontiac's speech
  • His dream
  • The fort at Detroit
  • Pontiac inspects the fort during a calumet dance
  • Pontiac's conspiracy on the fort at Detroit defeated
  • A general destruction of the forts and settlements by the Indians
  • Strategy of the game of ball between the Ojibways aud Sacs, and destruction of Michilimackinac
  • Fall of Venango
  • Condition of the frontier settlements
  • Colonel Henry Bouquet
  • His victory near Fort Pitt
  • A council with the chiefs
  • Their apology for the war
  • Bouquet's reply
  • Orders the Indians to bring in all their prisoners before giving them the hand of friendship
  • Meeting of long-lost friends
  • Conclusion of the Indian war
  • Assassination of Pontiac
  • English and French settlements contrasted
  • Want of elbow-room
  • The Yankee pioneers
  • Their character
  • Recklessness
  • Peculiar dress
  • Their houses, etc.
  • Hog and hominy
  • Old Ned Tomahawk rights Colonel Clark at the West
  • His character
  • Descends the Ohio
  • Sinks his boats
  • Surprises Kaskaskia
  • Inhabitants declare for the United States
  • British Lieutenant governor Rocheblane, captured
  • Vincennes taken
  • Militia organized
  • Clark among the Indians
  • Courts of Illinois
  • British Governor, Hamilton, descends the Wabash with one thousand men
  • Ruse of Captain Helm Clark's winter march
  • Hamilton surrenders
  • Territory held by Colonel Clark until the close of the war
  • Political organization
  • Permanent territorial laws
  • First and second grade
  • First church and schools
  • Cincinnati and North Bend
  • First civil court in the territory
  • Lawyers of the Northwestern Territory
  • Their manner of traveling from one court to another
  • The British posts in the territory surrendered to the United States
    CHAPTER X. -- OHIO. (Page 165)
  • Division of the Northwestern Territory
  • State government
  • Early politics of the state
  • Rapid growth of the state
  • Its climate and soil
  • Minerals
  • Salt springs
  • Water communications
  • Crops
  • Domestic commerce
  • Railroads
  • Institutions of learning
  • Churches
  • Taxable property, etc
    CHAPTER XI. -- MICHIGAN. (Page 173)
  • French agriculture
  • Population
  • Geography
  • Geology
  • The lower peninsula
  • White-oak openings
  • Burr-oak openings
  • Catholes
  • Pine woods of the north
  • Windfalls
  • Soil and fruits of the lower peninsula
  • Pasturage
  • Settlements of Michigan
  • Commercial advantages
  • Detroit and other ports
  • Site for a great central city
  • The rivers
  • The lakes around Michigan
  • Improved lands
  • Annual products
  • Schools, churches, and other institutions
  • Attractions to the settler
  • Exemption laws
    CHAPTER XII. -- INDIANA. (Page 191)
  • Yankee emigrants
  • Emigration checked by the war of 1812
  • Admission as a state
  • Rapid settlement of the state
  • Where the settlers came from
  • Soil of the state
  • The Ohio and Whitewater valleys
  • The White River Valley
  • The Wabash Valley River navigation
  • Canals
  • Railroads
  • Agricultural products
  • Charitable institutions, churches, colleges, and schools.
    CHAPTER XIII. -- ILLINOIS. (Page 199.)
  • Extinguishment of the Indian titles
  • Admission as a state
  • Great earthquake of 1811
  • Effect on the Mississippi
  • ffect on the Indians
  • First steamboat on the Mississippi
  • Keel-boat navigation
  • Keel-boatmen
  • Nature of the population
  • Length and breadth of the state
  • Number of counties
  • Lands improved and unimproved
  • Number of farms Value of farming implements
  • Annual products
  • The soil
  • The American
  • Bottom
  • Prairie lands
  • Grand Prairie
  • Coal regions
  • Yankee fences in Illinois
  • Mode of forming settlements on the prairie
  • Plowing the prairie
  • The timber region
  • Minerals
  • Lead region
  • Chicago
  • Rivers, canals, and railroads
  • Varieties of climate
  • The winter of 1855-56
  • Seasons of the greatest cold Schools, colleges, and libraries
  • Exemption laws.
    CHAPTER XIV. -- WISCONSIN. (Page 217)
  • Organized as a territory
  • First settlements
  • Rapid emigration
  • Source of emigration
  • Admission as a state
  • Number of counties, dwellings, and families
  • Nature of the population
  • State laws, with regard to voters
  • Courts Interesting provisions of the constitution
  • Length, breadth, and general surface of the state
  • Southern Wisconsin
  • Superior natural advantages
  • Prairies
  • Oak openings
  • Abundant pasturages
  • Inducements to settlers
  • Southern Wisconsin compared with other states
  • Increase of Agricultural wealth
  • Lead mines Iron region
  • Lime stone
  • White marble
  • Northern Wisconsin
  • Extensive pine regions
  • Water-power
  • The Wisconsin pine
  • Annual amount sawed
  • Climate of Wisconsin
  • Health
  • Opinion of physicians
  • Commerce
  • Harbors
  • Milwaukie brick
  • Railroads
  • Educational institutions and laws
  • Exemption laws.
    CHAPTER XV. -- IOWA. (Page 235)
  • The Black Hawk Purchase
  • First settlements
  • Second Indian purchase
  • Reports of the surveyors
  • rected into a territory
  • Garden of the West
  • Constitution formed
  • Provisions of the constitution
  • Refuses the terms of admission as a state
  • A new constitution
  • Admission as a state
  • Length and breadth of the state
  • Population
  • Number of dwellings and families
  • Number of counties
  • Amount of unimproved lands
  • Excess of male population
  • Source of emigration
  • Most populous counties
  • Land speculations
  • Advantageous geographical position
  • General appearance of the state Agricultural condition and resources
  • Coal-fields
  • Limestone
  • Cedar Valley
  • Soil Minerals
  • Commerce
  • Shipping ports
  • Capital of Iowa
  • Iowa City
  • Railroads
  • Advantage to settlers
  • Public institutions
  • Explorations of the Upper Mississippi
  • Location of the territory
  • The New England of the West
  • Territorial boundary
  • Laws
  • Counties
  • Population
  • Nature of the population
  • Crops
  • General surface of the territory
  • Geology
  • Above Crowing River
  • Chalk formation
  • James River
  • Buffalo pasture-ground
  • Big Sioux River
  • Red pipestone quarry
  • St. Peter's River
  • Bottom lands
  • Blue Earth River
  • St. Peter's Valley
  • The paradise of farmers
  • Lake Pepin
  • Terror of the lumbermen of the north Timber
  • Wild rice
  • Soil and its products
  • The Red River of the North Springs and lakes
  • Minesota the Artesian fountain of the continent
  • Underground hydraulic power
  • Boiling springs
  • Magnificent forest
  • Destiny of Minesota
  • Indian summers
  • Manner of perfecting a squatter's title
  • St. Paul
  • Table of distances from Galena to St. Paul
  • Rates of fare
  • Lake Superior
  • American coast
  • Anchorage
  • Harbors
  • Danger of navigating the lake
  • Curious phenomena of the lake
  • Transparency of its waters
  • The mirage of Lake Superior
  • Islands
  • Isle Royal
  • Lakes in Isle Royal
  • Perennial ice
  • Effect of the extreme cold on the growth of the. trees
  • Rock Harbor
  • Streams emptying into Lake Superior
  • Appearance of the shore
  • Iron-works of Carp River
  • Porcupine Mountains
  • Table of distances
  • The La Grande
  • Sables
  • Pictured Rocks
  • Ontonagon River
  • Montreal River
  • Sturgeon River
  • The Iron region
  • The different beds, etc.
  • Geologists opinion of the iron region
  • Location of good agricultural lands
  • Advantages of a railroad through the iron regions
  • The copper region of the Superior country
  • Lake Superior reverenced by the Indians
  • The first Englishman who visited the copper region
  • Extract from his journal
  • First mining company
  • Mining companies of Keweenaw
  • Trap rock
  • Silver among the copper
  • Cliff mine
  • Copper Falls mine, rich in silver
  • Largest mass of copper
  • Table of the products of , foreign mines
  • Eagle Harbor Game and speckled trout
  • Fisheries of Lake Superior
  • Climate, etc
  • Boundary of Kansas
  • Best lands open for settlement
  • Valleys of the tributaries of the Arkansas River, and of the Smoky Hill
  • Fork of the Kansas
  • Pasturage
  • The land between the desert hills and the Rocky Mountains
  • The Kansas River Valley of the Grand River
  • Timber Coal
  • Springs
  • Council Grove
  • The Grand Prairie
  • The Upper Arkansas
  • Pawnee Rock
  • The mirage
  • Table of distances from Independence City to Pawnee Rock
  • The Santa Fe trade
  • Southern Kansas ores
  • Settlements of Eastern Kansas
  • Kansas laws for the recognition of land claims Indians of Kansas
  • First right
  • Table of distances from Fort Riley to Missouri border
  • Military roads
  • Climate of Kansas
  • Nebraska
    CHAPTER XIX. -- KANSAS (Page 325)
  • Its history and politics
    CHAPTER XX. (Page 339)
  • Aid societies and preemptions
  • Via the principal thoroughfares, to the Great West
  • Related Pages & Notes
    (Click maps to enlarge.)

    1853 Michigan

    1857 USA

    The Far West?
    "Far West" in the United States in 1856 was generally meant the states east of the Mississippi River. The only states west of the river were Texas and California, the rest were still territories.

    It was around this time period that the lumbering was taking a foothold in Michigan that spiralled into a lumbering boom that last for about four decades.

    In 1856, Bay City (aka. Lower Saginaw) was a part of Saginaw County. Bay County was organized a year later, at which time the village of Lower Saginaw changed its name to Bay City.
    People Referenced
    Ferris, Jacob (author)
    Hull, William (governor)
    Subjects Referenced
    Ann Arbor
    Ann Arbor, University
    AuSable river
    Black river
    Branch Co.
    Brantford, Can.
    Buffala, NY
    Cass river
    Chicago, IL
    Clinton river
    Flat river
    Flint river
    Fox river, WI
    Georgian Bay
    Goderich, Can.
    Grand Haven
    Grand river
    Grand Traverse Bay
    Great Western R.R.
    Green Bay, WI
    Illinois river
    Kalamazoo river
    Lake Erie
    Lake Huron
    Lake Michigan
    Lake St. Clair
    Little Traverse Bay
    Looking-glass river
    Manistee river
    Maple river
    Maumee Bay
    Michigan Central R.R.
    Michigan Souther R.R.
    Michigan Territory
    Mississippi river
    Mount Clements
    Muskegon river
    New England
    New York
    Nottawasaga Bay
    Ohio River
    Port Huron
    Red Cedar river
    River Raisen
    Rouge river
    Saginaw Bay
    Saginaw river
    Shiawasse river
    South (State) road
    State constitution
    State Normal School
    St. Clair Flats
    St. Clair river
    St. Joseph river
    St. Josephs (village)
    St. Lawrence
    Territorial road
    Thames river
    Thorn-apple river
    Thunder Bay
    Tittawasse river
    Toledo, Norwalk & Cleveland R.R.
    White river
    Wisconsin river
    The Online Book
    The full contents of this book are available online as a pdf file at: Archive.org
    The Earth Quake of 1811.
    Ferris makes reference to and describes this earth quake that was so large it changed the landscape of many areas. This begins on page 201.
    WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.