Excerpt from St. Clair County, Michigan, its history and its people; a narrative account of its historical progress and its principal interests, Jenks, William Lee, 1856-1936, pages 155 - 156.
Indian Medicine Dance and Feast
At one time during the summer of 1832, Mr. Brakeman and I and John K. Smith, Esq., attended a medicine dance on Walpole Island. It was for the benefit of Mrs. Jacob Harsen, who was an Indian woman, sick at the time. The Indians had erected a large tent for the occasion and had a bed made upon the ground in the center of the tent for the sick woman. It was in the evening, the tent was lighted up by building up places with short pieces of logs and putting earth on the top of them with fires burning on that. The men were all on one side of the tent, and the women on the opposite side, an Indian beating the drum, which was made of a piece of a hollow log with a dressed or tanned deer skin drawn over the top, and down around the sides far enough to be tied down with a string made of bark or deers' sinews. I-e would beat that with a stick. There was no music, and no tune at all in his playing, merely a thumping sort of a noise. When he began his beating the company began their dancing, the men by themselves and the squaws alone, a sort of shuffling of the feet, moving very slowly around the sick woman.
Every man carried a medicine pouch, which was made of a small animal's skin filled with medicine. As each man would come to her he would shake it at her, uttering something of a grunt such as chugh, chugh. The squaws did not carry any medicine and kept silent. Mrs. Harsen recovered her health and lived many years after; no doubt they thought their treatment had worked wonders in her case.
The same year I attended an Indian feast on Walpole Island. An Indian, whose name was O-gaw, that is, Pickerel, came over some time previous and invited Mr. Brakeman and me to attend. Mr. Brakeman gave an invitation to his friend, John K. Smith, Esq., to accompany us, which he accepted. When the time arrived for the party, O-gaw came after us with a large canoe, and had a nice mat spread in the bottom for the company to sit upon while he paddled the canoe. When about half way across the river he gave a very loud war whoop, as much as to say, we are coming. His friends on land answered him in the same way with several loud whoops. When we landed, the chief and leading men in the company met us at the river, all shaking hands with him.
Mr. Brakeman took with him presents of pipes and tobacco for the chief and head men. They had a large tent put up for the occasion with rush mats spread over the ground. A drummer beat the drum the same as at the medicine dance, but there was no dancing. Their principal refreshments consisted of pigeons nicely dressed and boiled whole; they were served in a very peculiar manner. Two long poles were arranged up, near the top of the tent one on each side. The pigeons were tied by the legs, two together and strung on the poles from one end to the other. After drumming, chatting and visiting for a while, some of the squaws, we will say the "table committee," took down the pigeons and passed to the company, giving us each two in our hands, no plate, knife or fork was used. We all sat and picked the meat from tile bones and had a very pleasant time until quite late in the evening, when O-gaw conveyed us home. I suppose it was something of a "lawn social." I was very much annoyed at night the first year I resided at Point Du Chene, with the noise of the Indian drums, they held feasts and dances so often. After some time I became accustomed to hearing them, but I still remember well their thumping sound. Some time during the winter of 1837-38, we entertained over night General Hugh Brady and several officers, with a company of soldiers, from Detroit. They came up on the river St. Clair in double sleighs. Their business was to ascertain how matters were along the lines, as it was during the Patriot war.
We were well acquainted with the old French settlers, both on the American and Canadian side of St. Clair river, and with some of the early French of Detroit. The most of these families have descendants residing in this county and in Detroit. The Brandamours, Causeley, La Forge, Trombley, St. Bernard, Record, Petit. Galernau, Gerard, La Turneau. Thebault, Chortier, Cauchois, Minnie, Nicholas, Duchien, Campan, Baby, Yax. Paschal, Lauzon, Cottrell. Rousselle, Moran, Peltier. Dubois, Dupree. Boshaw, MAatevia, Morass, La Blanc, Pappeneau, Pellette, Geneau. Boreau, Bartreau, Jervaise, Bovia, Thibedeaux, Beaubieii. Bordeneaux, Bonhonme, are some of those I remember.
My home has always been on the St. Clair river, excepting two years spent in Detroit and Mt. Clemens when a child, during the war, and six years of my married life, which were spent at Huron City, Huron County, at the time my husband was in the lumbering business.
~ written by Mrs. Brakeman
about her parents:
...daughter of William and Martha THORN BROWN. He was born in Detroit, 22d of June, 1784, and she was born in Detroit January 30, 1786; they were married in 1806, and soon after moved across the river to Canada and bought land of the Indians. During the war of 1812, the Indians carried off his cattle; they were very troublesome, and he took his family to Detroit in 1813, helped build the stockade in Fort Wayne County. They came up the river to this county in 1816, and settled in the town of Cottrellville, about one mile below Marine City, on the land now occupied by Charles H. BROWN. His wife died in 1846, and he lived until December 26, 1874; four children survive-Mrs. BRAKEMAN, James B., Martha J., now Mrs. COLE, of Wisconsin, and Charles H.
from husband's obit: She is a grand-daughter of the late Capt. William THORN, who died at Port Huron in 1842, also a niece of Maj. John THORN, an old resident of Port Huron, who died there in 1851
1803–1874 (m. 1832)