Title: History of Shiawassee and Clinton counties, Michigan, with illustrations and biographical sketches of their prominent men and pioneers.
Collection: Michigan County Histories and Atlases
12 HISTORY OF SHIAWASSEE AND CLINTON COUNTIES, MICHIGAN. Louis Campau commenced in the Indian trade at Saginaw in 1815. He remained there many years, but finally removed to Grand Rapids, where he passed the remainder of his life, and died highly respected. Antoine Campau, a brother of Louis, also located at Saginaw in 1815 or 1816. John B. Cushway,* Gen. Riley, of Schenectady, N. Y., and Whitmore Knaggs came to this Indian country as traders not long afterwards, as did also Baptiste Cochios, who established his post on the Flint. All these traders dealt with the Indians inhabiting the valleys of the Shiawassee, Looking-Glass, and Maple Rivers, but only Cushway, Campau, and Knaggs located trading-houses in this region. It was in or about 1820t that Whitmore Knaggs came to open his post at the " crossing of the Shiawassee,"-that is, the place where several trails crossed that river, on the Indian reservation of Kechewondaugoning,4 or " Big Salt Lick." The name given to the place by the French (very probably by old Bolieu himself) was "Grand Saline." The white settlers afterwards called it " the Knaggs place," for the old trader by whom it was established, and his son, who was its last occupant as a trader. The post was situated on the river, in the northwest corner of the present township of Burns. In 1820 the nearest trading-posts to Knaggs' on the south and west were that of the two Godfroys (father and son), located on the Huron, at the present site of Ypsilanti, and that of Rix Robinson "at the Thornapple and on Grand River, above and below." These merchants, as well as those at Saginaw, divided the trade with Knaggs to some extent, but there is little doubt that the latter took the lion's share among the Indians living within his range. Not long after the time mentioned, a Frenchman named Battise (correctly Baptiste) opened a post on the upper waters of the Grand River, in the present county of Jackson, and this became a somewhat popular trading-place, even for some of the Indians living as far north as the territory of Clinton and Shiawassee Counties. Whitmore Knaggs was succeeded, about 1824, by a man named Grant, who continued in the trade for a time, but became so unpopular with the Indians that they finally drove him from their country. The successor of Grant in the Indian trade on the Shiawassee was Richard Godfroy, who reopened the post at Kechewondaugoning in 1828. In the spring of 1829 this post was visited by the brothers Alfred L. and Benjamin O. Williams, who were then making a tour of exploration with a view to permanent settlement, they being probably the first white men who visited Shiawassee County with that intention. The Godfroy trading-post, as it existed at that time, is described by B. O. Williams as a rude log house and stable, with bark roof, and then in charge of John B. Cushway, as Godfroy's agent. The post was continued by Godfroy's successors, Antoine Beaubien and John Knaggs, until about 1839. On the south side of the Maple River, at the site of the present village of Maple Rapids, a trading-post was opened as early as 1826, but whether the first trader there was John B. Cushway or George Campau is a matter of some doubt. It is certain that it bore the name of the first-named proprietor in 1837, for on the 17th ofMarch in that year the Legislature passed an act laying out a State road " from the seat of justice in Eaton County to Cushway's tradingpost on Maple River in the county of Clinton." Mr. James Sowle, of Essex, is of the opinion, however, that Cushway carried on the trading-station before Campau, which latter seems to have been the one recollected by old residents as the first proprietor. He was a brother of Louis and Antoine Campau, and was known to the Indians as Waugoosh, or " the Red Fox." His successor in trade at the post on the Maple was John Johnson, who became a permanent resident, and died there since 1875. Mr. Campau is (or was very recently) living at Grand Rapids. The Cushway or Campau trading-station, with the Genereau post, on the river below, in Ionia County, took a large part of the trade of the Indians living on the Maple and Looking-Glass Rivers, but there was also for a time a post on the Grand River, in Ionia County, kept by Gilbert W. Prentiss and one or two associates, who (it was said) were also engaged in counterfeiting, and were driven away from their post by the Indians, on whom they had passed some of their spurious coin. The same fate also befell them at a tradingstation which they opened in 1834, in Cohoctah township, on the north border of Livingston County, adjoining Shiawassee. The Williams trading-post, which secured a very large business among the Indians of this section of country, and which is particularly noticeable from the fact that the two young men who opened it became permanent residents and very prominent citizens of Shiawassee County, was established in August, 1831, by Alfred L. and Benjamin 0. Williams, for Rufus W. Stevens and Elisha Beach, of Pontiac. The location of this trading-station was a very little north of the north line of the Kechewondaugoning reservation, at the point where the Chicago and Lake Huron Railroad crosses the Shiawassee River, on or very near the dividing line between the townships of Shiawassee and Vernon. To this station there were brought furs collected within the present counties of Shiawassee and Clinton, as well as in adjoining counties to the south and east. Their trade within the limits of Clinton, however, was much less than in Shiawassee, as much of the Indian trade in the former county was secured by Genereau, at the post on the Grand River, and by Campau, at his station at Maple Rapids. In 1832 the brothers Williams became agents for the American Fur Company, and continued as such until 1836, when they began trading on their own account, and remained until 1837, when the post was vacated and the business abandoned, the Indians having been in that year * Cushway was called by the Indians Pewabicorzo, or "the ironshod," because he wore heavily-nailed boots. t A list of the licensed traders in Michigan in that year places Knaggs' post "on the river Shiawassee, at the Indian Reservation." t This tract of three thousand acres was reserved to the Indians of the Shiawassee bands, in the treaty concluded by Gen. Cass at Saginaw, Sept. 24, 1819. The name of this reservation is spelled in the treaty Ketohewaundangenink, which is perhaps as nearly correct as any other manner of spelling,-the orthography of Indian names being at best a matter of taste or caprice. It was located in the northwest corner of the present township of Burns and southwest corner of Vernon, and comprised also small parts of Shiawassee and Antrim.