Kancoll: The Kansas Historical Quarterlies

Isaac McCoy and the
Treaty of 1821

by Lela Barnes

May, 1936 (vol. 5, no. 2, pages 122 to 142
Transcribed by lhn; additonal HTML by Susan Stafford
digitized with permission of the Kansas State Historical Society.

     ISAAC McCOY, Baptist missionary to the Indians, was an outstanding figure in the development of the Indian removal policy of the United States. He began his missionary work on the western frontier of Indiana in 1817 and spent the twelve years following with the tribes of Indiana and Michigan. By 1823 he was convinced that the ultimate decline and ruin of the Indians could be avoided only by removing them from the encroaching whites and by colonization in lands west of Missouri. The following year he submitted his conclusions to the Baptist Mission Board and was authorized to present the matter at Washington. Secretary of War John C. Calhoun, whose department was at that time in charge of Indian affairs, approved McCoy's plans and became a supporter of the measure. McCoy worked unceasingly for the program and published in 1827 his Remarks on the Practicability of Indian Reform, in which he urged concentration of the perishing tribes in some suitable portion of the country under proper guardianship of the government. [1]

     By 1828 many of the tribes had migrated to the West and in that year an exploring expedition was ordered by the government to permit certain other tribes to examine the country west of the Mississippi and select locations. McCoy was appointed one of the commissioners. Two tours were made and delegations of Pottawatomies, Ottawas, Creeks, Chickasaws and Choctaws were taken into the territory. In 1830 McCoy was appointed surveyor and agent to assist in the migration westward, and devoted more than ten years to the work. During this period he spent much time in what is now Kansas selecting and surveying locations for the tribes and establishing missions and schools. Much of the early recorded history of the state relates to the settling of the Indians within its borders and subsequent efforts of mission groups to introduce the ways of civilization.

     This paper is a brief sketch of McCoy's life up to 1823, when he began his work at Carey mission, near St. Joseph's river, Michigan.



Although the establishment of this mission was the result of many years of directed effort, it hinged at the last upon the terms of the Treaty of 1821, whereby the government sought to purchase lands from the Ottawa, Chippewa and Pottawatomie nations. McCoy's hopes depended on the adoption of a provision for the establishment of a school for the Pottawatomies in Michigan territory and his own subsequent appointment as teacher. He planned, of course, to combine teaching and religious instruction. The treaty, as concluded, provided for the school, and upon its ratification McCoy received his appointment. But he had struggled with many deterring forces by the time this end was reached.

     McCoy's determination to "labor" in the Indian country runs like a vein of iron through the account of his life. Before his twentieth year the idea of going to Vincennes, Indiana territory, had taken definite form in his mind, strengthened by a mystical experience in which he was directed by a luminous spot in a cloud-darkened sky to that place. [2] Soon after this occurrence he married Christiana Polke, and in the year 1804 set out from Shelby county, Kentucky, with his sixteen-year old bride, for the territory of the Wabash. Here he settled on public land about seven miles above Vincennes, later removing to the settlement where he prepared to follow the art of making spinning wheels, which he had learned from his father. But the climate of the region was not favorable and in 1805 the little family (there was by now a small daughter) removed to Clark county, Indiana territory, and settled on Silver creek.

     Throughout his journal for this period are references to mental perturbation on the subject of preaching. By 1808 he had been regularly licensed. In 1809 he was again visited by "agitations of the mind" respecting preaching at Vincennes, and with the consent of his wife-who expected never to be settled until he had accomplished his purpose of laboring at that place-the family returned to the country of the Wabash where, in the year following, McCoy became pastor of Maria church. Here life was filled with peril and hardship. The family suffered much illness; only a bare existence was possible on the small earnings from wheelmaking; and the Indians were a constant menace, forcing them at times to live at the forts. But in spite of all this McCoy planned to enlarge the field of his work and by 1815 had conceived the idea of forming a


society for domestic missions. He later found that the idea had been developed elsewhere, yet "such was the obscurity of my situation," he recorded, "that I had never heard of it. . . I concluded it. would not be foreign from the general Missionary Cause, for these western regions to turn their attention in part to the destitute [who] were immediately under their notice. I had no sooner conceived the plan than I felt pretty much transported with the idea." [3] As a result of perseverance he was given an opportunity in 1816 by the Longrun (Kentucky) Association to a make a three months' tour in the territories of Illinois and Missouri. This tour took him to what he describes as the heart of the devil's empire-a place less menacing in aspect after 120 years, known as St. Louis.

     The enthusiasm of the Longrun Association for domestic missions had declined, however, by the time the tour was over. There were but few members then favoring the project and these, wrote McCoy, could not obtain for the expiring scheme a decent funeral. The cause of foreign missions was then in the ascendency. A period of despair followed, out of which came the idea that he must so improve his financial condition as to be able to give all his time to preaching-seemingly an impossible goal, since time already spent in the ministry had brought him to a state of poverty. Restlessness filled his heart and his constant prayer was for a larger sphere in which to work. "I have thought," he wrote, "that if a suitable opportunity should offer I would offer my services to the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions-to travel under their auspices in these western regions." [4]

     Hearing that the Massachusetts Baptist Missionary Society was contemplating a mission in the West, McCoy made known his desire for an appointment. Also he informed the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions for the United States of his desire to become a missionary, suggesting St. Louis as a field. But the board did not favor his request and selected two others for the St. Louis post. News of this action came when his fortunes were at low ebb, when he was afraid "to go in company" lest he should see a creditor, and when the needs of eight children pressed down upon him. Fever, which failed to respond to "physick and barks" burned his strength and energies, and he believed that he was dying. Then, when matters had reached the lowest point during this time of trial, he received notice from the Baptist board of his selection as missionary to the Wabash country


for the period of a year. This was in August, 1817. His field was defined as the counties of Edwards and Crawford, Illinois territory; Knox, Sullivan and Daviess counties, Indiana territory. [5]

     McCoy received the appointment in October, following, and assumed his duties at once. His journal record of distances traveled indicates his determination to carry the message to remote corners of the assigned territory. But his program of work did not permit him to spend much time with the Indians and, since he had by now decided to dedicate the remainder of his life to their earthly and eternal welfare, he set about to devise means. Late in 1817 he visited Thomas Posey, Indian agent at Vincennes, and informed him of his plans. Posey was friendly and offered assistance, suggesting that McCoy defer any trips to the Indian villages until after his desire to work among them had been presented in council. Early the following year McCoy visited Territorial Judge Benjamin Parke. He recorded the interview as follows:

     I rode to Vincennes and conversed with Judge Parke on the introduction of civilized habits among the Indians, he having been in the service of government in Indian affairs, is well acquainted with their character, altho. he thinks their civilization practicable, he supposes it will require say 15 or 20 years to effect any thing of consequence but I hope that this dis-heartening opinion of his is owing to his want of faith. [6]

     Judge Parke's lack of enthusiasm did not act as a deterrent. In a short time McCoy wrote, "My feelings are all alive with the Subject of introducing the Gospel among the Indians"; [7] and he set out on a tour with a view of preparing for the meeting of the Indians. But at this point, the death of Agent Thomas Posey halted his plans. In considering the situation it occurred to McCoy that it would be desirable to have a missionary appointed to the position of agent. This plan, he reasoned--

would bring the whole business with the Indians under the Control of the Board, in a way that our Benevolent measures would not be liable to be thwarted by an illnatured Agent, and every movement in the Agency might be rendered subservient to their Civilization. The Indians might be persuaded to accept of such articles as part of their annuities, as incline them to Civilization such as Cattle, hogs, etc . . . . and knowing that he could obtain stock, and implements of husbandry, he [the Indian] would hardly fail to become a farmer, a Citizen of the U.S. A Christian. [8]

     McCoy found no means of putting the plan into operation, how-


ever, and was obliged to wait for the development of favorable circumstances. Judge Benjamin Parke, acting as temporary agent following the death of Posey, was clearly out of sympathy. With the appointment of William Prince as agent, McCoy's outlook became brighter. Prince favored the project of an Indian school and arranged a meeting with the Weas for June, 1818, at which time McCoy set forth his plans. The Indians appeared to favor the proposal.

     Although his appointment as missionary had been for a period of one year only, and had implied no desire on the part of the Baptist board to locate him permanently, McCoy determined to establish himself in the Indian country. He wrote of his decision: "We resolved to show to those to whom it might concern, that when we spoke of laboring for the benefit of the Indians, we meant precisely what we said; and having actually made a beginning among them, we hoped that if the Baptist board of missions should not continue its patronage, help would be obtained from some other source." [9] He fixed upon a site for the mission on Raccoon creek, Parke county, Indiana, and erected two log cabins. By this time-October, 1818-his commission had expired, and he went into the wilderness with Christiana and their seven children (the eldest had died of typhus) with no more tangible support in the venture than the hope that Heaven would dispose the hearts of some to lend them aid. This naive faith was rewarded by a pledge of assistance from the board, given in a letter from the corresponding secretary to McCoy dated at Philadelphia, December 2, 1818. He wrote:

The drafts you have sent on have been duly honoured and will continue to be so . . . . The Board is anxious to see the cause of the Redeemer spread through the nations and in a peculiar degree to hear of its influence on the Indian bosom. It also wishes its missionaries to be comfortable to the utmost extent of its ability . . . . It might be a matter of question whether one broad Indian station might not be preferable as to the prospect of ultimate success than several more limited ones. The latter however seems demanded by reason that the funds come in a greater or less degree from all parts of the Union . . . . It [the board] nevertheless confides much in the wisdom, piety and prudence of its Missionaries, and I may add has a high sense of the zeal, disinterestedness and discretion of their beloved Brother McCoy. The expenses attendant on the preparing a mission house you will state and had better draw on us, so as not to feel the least embarrassment. The idea of the Board was to supply you with $500 annually, leaving you to devote as much of your time to the mission as you could command from family demands . . . . I can only in general observe that the board will ever be happy that you state to them what your comfort will require at their hand.

and I am convinced you will ever find the principles on which they act are liberal, sympathizing and evangelic . . . . An assistant will be sent as soon as the Lord shall provide a suitable character.

     McCoy notes the receipt of this letter in his journal entry for January 19, 1819:

     On the 9th inst. I received a letter from the Board, which, although its contents did not fully come up to our desires, gladdened our hearts by an assurance of the patronage of the Board. While I fear that our mission will be restricted in its operations on account of the fearfulness of the Board that they will incur too great an expense, I feel much pleasure in finding them disposed to adhere to a cautious frugality in the expenditure of the moneys entrusted to them and in the very affectionate & friendly manner in which they write to me. The sincerity of these assurances of friendship is confirmed by their desire & labor to afford me a colleague.

     A very practical idea now entered into McCoy's planning. He had been unable to attract more than a few Indian pupils to the school on Raccoon creek and as a consequence had made but a poor showing. The board, he reasoned, would soon suggest a discontinuance of his labors unless he widened his activities. Therefore he directed his efforts towards securing a location where he could increase the number of pupils, and reach, as well, a larger number of adults. It was this determination that led, later, to his intense interest in the 1821 treaty, and his eventual location on St. Joseph's river. But before this removal to St. Joseph's there was a season of work at Fort Wayne.

     Immediately after his arrival at Raccoon creek, McCoy had journeyed to the frontiers of Ohio with the view of extending his acquaintance with the Indians and finding, if possible, a field for his labors. A few months later he made a second tour, having in the meantime received permission from the Secretary of War to settle in the Indian country. After consideration of two possible locations, one at the Miami Mississinewa villages, the other at Fort Wayne, he decided upon the latter place as more favorable. He was offered here the gratuitous use of public buildings and assured of the cooperation of William Turner, agent to the Miamis.

     In May, 1820, therefore, the family removed to Fort Wayne. They were accompanied by two Indians, one white man-Johnston Lykins, teacher-fifteen head of cattle and forty-three swine. Their household goods were conveyed by a batteau, poled up the Wabash river by four men. School was opened on May 29 with ten English pupils, six French, eight Indian and one Negro (who, it was hoped, would in time find his way to Liberia).


     Life here was marked by opposition from the Indians, difficulties attendant upon remoteness from supply stations, and steadily increasing financial problems. There was also criticism of his plans. To one critic, Samuel Dedman of Pike county, Indiana, McCoy announced his stand. It may be taken as an answer to all objectors.

     I have patiently heard the advice you gave us to relinquish our missionary pursuits, & have weighed the arguments by which you have enforced it, and must say that what you have said is among the many things which are calculated to make us doubt the correctness of our present and intended movements.

     When I look among the Indians, I find them barbarous & wild, ignorant, cruel & deceitful. If I live among them I must bear with their uncouth manners & insults, I must be exposed to hunger, wet, & cold. I must, with small exceptions be denied the luxuries of life, the comforts of society, the aid of physicians, & the consoling voice of friends. I shall never hereafter lay up, by personal service, a shilling for the widow & orphans which I shall probably in a few years, leave in the wilds of wabash, or arkansas, & lastly I must probably die without seeing much fruit of my labours, only that I have prepared the way for others to follow. This colouring, my brother is not too high . . . . I assure you, my brother, that every opposing difficulty, the opposition of the assn. not excepted has only tended to increase my missionary ardour. May my merciful God forgive me if I be wrong, and set me right. I would rather be a missionary to the Indians, than fill the President's chair, or sit on the throne of Alexander, emperour of Russia. I would rather preach Jesus to the poor Indians in a bark camp, than address the thousands who assemble in Sansom Street meeting hous, philadel. Something has turned my attention towards the Indians, & every feeling of my soul is enlisted in their cause, yet still I may be wrong. But I feel not the least inclination to turn back, but would drive on with the vehemence of Peter, the meekness of Moses, & the wisdom of Solomon. [10]

     McCoy's financial troubles at this time were due in part to the fact that the board placed no money in his hands for the purchase of supplies. Accounts were submitted for payment if approved. The distraught missionary lived in constant dread of the refusal of that body to settle for goods delivered to him by more optimistic merchants. He had learned indirectly of the surprise occasioned by some of his expenditures. The consumption of pork in the wilderness, for example, had seemed beyond reason to those sitting at Philadelphia. Throughout his journal for these dark months are expressions of despair. Debts piled up; he borrowed money with which to pay them; he then came to that financial extremity-borrowing money to pay back borrowed money that had gone to settle debts. In spite of discouragement and uncertainty, however, his mind leaped constantly to possibilities for fruitful work, and even in the shadow of the necessity to terminate his labor he made


plans for continuing. He wrote to John Kinzie [11] and Alexander Wolcott [12] at Chicago inquiring about the possibility of attracting Indian children of that region to the school at Ft. Wayne. Their replies are suggestive of obstacles to Indian reform.

Chicago Illinois January 3d, 1821

     I have great pleasure in acknowledging the receipt of your favor of the twenty fourth ultimo, by our express which arrived yesterday. I rejoice that your school has been opened and continued under such favorable auspices. The task you have undertaken is really a formidable one. To soothe, to correct, or subdue the perversness and capriciousness of the Indian disposition, increased as those qualities are by the unlimited indulgence with which children are treated by their parents from earliest infancy, requires a command of temper, a degree of patience and perseverance, which few men possess. The meliorating of the condition of the Indians must be always an object of great. interest to the philanthropist; and, at this time, when we have such extended and growing relations with them, must be peculiarly important to the American people. Institutions of pure benevolence, such as that over which you preside, reflect honor on all concerned in them, and I truly hope that you, and those under whose directions you act, will find your efforts rewarded with distinguished success. Whenever it shall be in my power to do anything to promote the interests of your school you may depend upon my zealous cooperation. But I cannot promise you any considerable additions to your number from this quarter. There are it is true, several half breeds here of a proper age and who are much in want both of the training and instruction which they would receive if placed under your care, and the parents of some, perhaps of all of them, might be easily prevailed on to send them to Fort Wayne; but then their parents are for the most part Indian traders, and doubtless intend to bring their sons up to the same employment, so that whatever instruction their sons may receive, though it may be of great benefit. to them individually, will be wholly lost as regards the improvement of the Indians, which I take to be the grand object of your institution. The savages of this neighborhood are remarkably indolent, holding all labors, except those of the chase, in utter contempt. They have moreover a strong affection for their children, and can seldom be brought to part with them even to those whites whom they know and in whom they have confidence. They say that obliging them to labor is reducing them to a state of slavery, which they consider the greatest of evils. There is another objection which will perhaps operate with equal force upon the Indians of this vicinity. They would be very unwilling to send their children into the country of the Miamis, with whom they have been often engaged in hostilities, and towards whom their feelings are never very cordial. Should the association of which you are a member ever so far extend its views as to think of establishing a school it this place, it is very possible that, when the Indians see it before them, and are made to understand its advantages, their repugnance to parting with their children may be more easily overcome. As it is, I think it very improbable

that any of them can be prevailed on to send their children to Fort Wayne. I will however make the experiment and use my influence to effect that object when the Indians shall return in the spring from their hunting-grounds. At present there is not one in this neighborhood.

With the best wishes for your success
I have the honor to be
Very Respectfully,
Your Obedient Servant
Alex. Walcott, Jr.

Revd. Isaac McCoy
Fort Wayne.

Chicago January 27th 1821
Mr. John Mackoy

     I have not had an opportunity to see any of the Principle men of the different tribes of Indians resident in this Agency since I had the pleasure of your favor and without a discourse with them on the subject you wrote on I would not pretend to give my Opinion Positive. I expect that Doctor Wolcott will Introduce the subject to them as soon as opportunity will offer and that cannot well be untill sometime in May as they will not be into their respective Villages untill then. I consider it a part of my duty to inculcate into the breast of the savage the great benefits they will derive from education, and I think that there are a few that might be led to believe its benefits. You must know that your residence at Fort Wayne is immediately in the neighborhood of the Miamis, and as they are different tribe the Indians of this place might not wish to send their Children so far out of their country, this I know will be one objection, not but they are confident they would be treated with all the kindness in your Power but the Ignorance of the savage is such, that they would constantly be in dread of some revenge from some former acts of Violence that have been committed by this Nation on the Miamis and all I could say to the contrary would not have the good effect required, but I am still of opinion was there a school opened here that a small portion of children might be prevailed on to be educated. However you must not expect to effect this good and benevolent purpose in a day or two pray the society to hold on some time and probably their expectations and wishes may be reallized this is my sincere wish and I shall not fail to get the Opinion of the Principals as soon as I shall have the seeing of them.
With respect believe me D Sir
Your Most Obt. Servt
John Kinzie

     Acting upon a suggestion that. assistance might be obtained from the government, McCoy went to Detroit in February, 1821, and placed the details of his situation before Gov. Lewis Cass. He received aid in the form of food and clothing, and the promise of gratuitous work at the Fort Wayne smithery. At this meeting he told Governor Cass of his desire to settle farther in the Indian country. Cass thought permission of the Indians to do so might be obtained at the contemplated treaty. A single statement in Mc-


Coy's writings introduces the subject of this treaty, but it now became the point of concentration in his planning.

     While deeply thankful for assistance given by the government, McCoy realized that it would serve to alleviate only temporarily his great distress. He wrote on February 28, on the journey back to Fort Wayne:      
"I am returning home with an aching heart. The mission never appeared to me to be in a more precarious situation. Unless we obtain pecuniary assistance in a short time from the Board or from some other source a few months will put a period to the Mission unless God almost miraculously preserve it." [13]

     Immediately after his return from Detroit he formulated plans for having incorporated into the proposed treaty provisions for educational work among the nations. "In all this I was careful," he wrote, "to ascertain that I acted in accordance with the views of those who would be the principal agents of the U. S. in the negotiations." [14] He believed that a tour among the Pottawatomies would promote his ends. The specific objects of the tour were set forth in his journal entry for June 6, 1821. He wrote:      

The objects of my journey are to convince the Indians that I am what I profess to be- To look out a suitable site for our Mission establishment when we shall wish to leave this, and to persuade the Indians to invite me on to it- To endeavour to persuade them to do something for the benefit of their children at the contemplated treaty- to encourage them to send their children to our school, and to adopt civilized habits, and especially to talk to them about the way of life & salvation thro. our Lord Jesus Christ. Hope had been fired by the intelligence that several of the Pottawatomie chiefs had determined to invite him to settle at St. Joseph of the Lake.

     This tour took McCoy to the village of the Pottawatomie chief, Topenebee, where he had a talk with leaders of the tribe. He presented his plans with considerable caution, emphasizing the advantages of education and his desire to establish a school, but leaving other phases of his program unannounced. From this village he went to the shore of Lake Michigan where a stop was made at the residence of the Burnetts, relatives of the Indian, Abraham, who accompanied him. On the return journey he selected a site on the Elkhart river as suitable for the location of the mission.

     The tour ended on June 19. Christians McCoy, expecting shortly the birth of another child, set out a few days later with her three young daughters for a journey down the Wabash to the settled


country. The trip was made in an open canoe, a distance of between three and four hundred miles. McCoy was thus left with the entire responsibility of the mission establishment. Farm, house and forty-seven pupils required his constant supervision and these manifold duties prevented him from attending the treaty. He formulated his plans carefully, however, and recorded them under date of July 18,1821, as follows:

     I do not wish to thwart the plans of government, and I am confident that my plans must accord with the righteous course which it is hoped government will pursue with the Indians.

     If the Putawatomies should sell their lands at the contemplated treaty, I hope they will reserve at least 30 miles square on Elksheart, including the large prarie on the road to Chicago, 40 miles square would be still preferable. On to this reservation I wish the Putawatomies to invite me to establish our School. Even ten miles square would be desirable, But a large Reservation would prevent white population from crowding their clashing interests in the way of our operations.

     Whether the Putawatomies sell their land or not, I am very desirous that they should give me permission to establish our School in the above mentioned prarie. The 1st of next October I shall report the progress of the Missions to the President of the U. S. I wish if possible to get the consent of the Indians before that time, so that I may be able to say to the Prest. that I am going on to build on said prarie immediately. In which case the Prest., agreeably to letters I have lately received, would defray two thirds of the expense of erecting the necessary buildings.

     I have never yet told the Indians that I wished to live at that place, I wish my good friends to endeavour to prevail on the Chiefs to grant me permission. Were I to ask permission to settle there, they might be led to suspect the purity of my motives. I therefore wish my good friends to convince the Chiefs that it would be greatly to their advantage for us to have our school more immediately in their country, and that the above mentioned prarie would be the most suitable site for the establishment. I shall not. ask a title to the land, I only want permission to live on their land so long as they remain satisfied with the school and with the objects of the mission.

     I wish them, if they sell, to say at the treaty that two, or three or four Townships of land, of good quality, which they may sell to government, shall be sold, and the proceeds of the sale, laid out in educating their children, and for other purposes of civilization. This would be no material loss to government, because they would get the land, which is the main object.-It would be a great benefit to the Indians because it would enable us to hold out to them such inducements to civilized and religious habits, that their most inflexible jealousies, and prejudices could not resist.

     Unfortunately for the Indians, most of the Agents consider their reformation impracticable and are therefore somewhat indifferent to it. For these reasons, if the Indians were to provide for the education of their children in the manner suggested above, the money would be liable to be placed in the

hands of men who would not promptly dispose of it to their advantage, and the whole might be squandered to no purpose. I would therefore propose that they say that the said money shall be laid out for their benefit at the time and place, and in the manner, that I, or a succeeding missionary in my place, should deem expedient for their welfare. I would of course be under the necessity of obtaining the approbation of the Prest. for every appropriation which I would wish to make. Government would keep the money in their own hands, and issue to me in such sums as they might think proper in order to avoid abuse, or extravagance on my part.

     If the Indians consent to my living among them for these purposes, government cannot object to their taking the above measures in order to increase my usefulness. The presumption is that such a course would be perfectly congenial to the humane wishes of the Prest. Nevertheless the Commissioners as Agents of government might feel it their duty to make as good a bargain as possible for their employers. They would not therefore make these proposals themselves to the Indians, but would cheerfully consent to them if the Indians made the request.
July 18, 1821.

     With detailed instructions regarding the best methods of obtaining desired ends, Robert Montgomery, teacher at the mission, was sent to represent McCoy at Chicago. Montgomery left Fort Wayne on August 2, but had proceded only a short distance when that enemy of the traveler in the wilderness, ague, struck him down and imperiled the entire cause. But he so far recovered as to reach the treaty grounds. Two letters addressed to McCoy from Chicago give details of his work there.

Chicago. Illinois State
Augt. 12th 1821
Isaac McCoy [15]
Revd. Isaac McCoy

     My Dear Sir

     Your letter of the 4th Inst. has just come to hand, also one from John Johnston, Rice McCoy, & c. I return you my sincere thanks for the Interest you manifest in your Letter for my welfare, and comfort. God in his providence has permitted me to reach this place, and I desire to act as pope directs, "Why charge to heaven in those, in these acquit? In both to reason right, is to submit." Mr John Burnett had the goodness to present me with his "Essay on Man," which I peruse with much Interest.

     As I have plenty of time, I will proceed to give you a minute description of my proceedings since I left Mr Bertrands. That day my ague paroxism was worse than it had been before, was quite deranged, for some time, Abram was much alarmed. The next day we left Mr Bertrands where we were kindly treated, and arrived in the evening at John Burnetts. he was laying with the Fever the next day I took Emetic which did not vomit me any though purged me well. this day I felt nothing like the ague, nor have I since. I however concluded to continue here three days and was kindly treated by the family during which time I took profusely of the Bark. The Second day the principal chief Topash, arrived. he stayed one day. I had a talk with him on the sub-

ject of our business, his only reply was that they would council on the subject when they arrived at this place. I stop my narrative Topash, and chebas come into my room. After the usual salutations I quit writing, and holding your letter in my hand, told Mr. Bobia, [16] my Landlord to inform them, it was from you, that you thought often of them & c, was desirous to come nearer them, and hoped they would permit you to do so, that I would come out to their camps and see them, to which they replied that they would do every thing they could, that I would hear them talk to Govr. Cass & c. I gave them some tobacco and they went away. To continue. On thursday Mr Burnett and myself being better we set out for this place, though I was quite weak and still am. We arrived here on Saturday, which was yesterday, without any material difficulty, but the Journey fatigued me very much, in my weak State, and our horses are much Jaded indeed. I call'd at Mr Kinzie's, but his house being entirely occupied by the public he could not accommodate me, was very friendly, and permitted me to put my horses in his pasture, which is not very good and dispatched his son over to my present Lodging to request him to afford me every comfort in his power, as I was his particular friend. My accommodations are reasonably good, and quite high. Abraham went out to his brothers yesterday and has not since returned. my health is improving and hope, (unless a relapse) that it will soon be restored again.

     Govr. Cass [17] has not yet arrived but is hourly expected. It is expected the Treaty will be tardy, perhaps may be the 1st of Sept. before I will get to leave this place Unfortunately I cannot do any business of a decisive nature, untill the result of the Treaty is known because if I were to enter into a contract with them to locate at a certain Spot, they might afterwards dispose of the Same, thus you will at once discover my difficulty in the case. this will necessarily detain me untill all is over.

     I have concluded if they should sell their country generally, and make but small reserves and if they should be unwilling to give us liberty to settle thereon, to endeavour to get them to make a reserve of 2, 4 or 6 miles square (as near their principal reserve as possible) for the exclusive use and benefit of the Society, and Mission, adjoining if practicable, and we could locate thereon.

     If all other attempts should prove abortive, and I should succeed in this dernier alternative, I hope it may meet your approbation. Should like your council, which is altogether out of the question.

     If the Indians refuse, it will not be because they are opposed to the Mission. it will be from a fear of Monopoly, but rest assured my dear Sir I will use every exertion to effect the objects of my agency, to what I shall consider to be the most advantageous to the Mission

     Mr. John Burnet is quite friendly and says he will afford me all the aid which is in his power. he is with them in their private councils, and will use his influence. I depend much on his interposition in our behalf. told him in our first interview that I would be govd. by his advice on which he promised me. Appearances are not unfavourable at present, but not sufficient to justify an opinion on as to the result. I hope for success. If I should have to return


to Fort Wayne without success, after spending so much time, money, jading my Horses & c. I shall be much chagrin'd indeed.

     This morning several of my friends called in to see me amongst whom was Maj. Phillips paymr. of the Army, and Doct. Woolcot, Indian Agent here, two of my particular friends. There are about 1900 Hundred Indians now here, Putaws. Chippys. & Ottaways. The object is, as far as I can learn, to purchase all the Land laying in the Michigan Territory but I am rather of the opinion th[ey] will not dispose of all within those bound[ariesl.

     I am happy to discover that your confidence is strong in myself. Your confidence in my ability to perform may be misplaced, but your confidence in my disposition to use every exertion, cannot be. Any assistince you might have sent, would not have added much to my comfort, nor could they have been much benefit towards effecting the object, only have incurred an expense which you will think enough by the time I return, though am under obliga tions to you, for your disposition to render me comfortable. Make yourself easy about me. I trust I shall again see you, though much doubted it when I wrote you last. Give my Love to Miss Delilah, and Miss Rachel, and the family generally, and in addition tender Miss R. my unfeigned respects, tell her that I am gratified to think, that the news of my distress, should excite in her susceptible heart, emotions of sympathy, and sorrow-I feel grateful to her. I should be glad to hear from you by return express though I may have left it by that time if not I will write you.
I remain
Truly Yrs

R. Montgomery

Revd. & Dear Sir, Chicago 22d Augt. 1821

     Capt Hackly goes in the morning I have delay'd writing until the last hour, in order to give you the latest information, relative to the objects of my Agency, which to my regret and deep sorrow, is not flattering. I need not give you a detail of my proceedings, inasmuch as I shall (if spared) be home so soon.

     I recd yours of different dates. have had many interviews with Col. Trimble,[18] he is a fine man & is much advantage to me here. The Indians were not collected previous to his arrivel Gen. T. & I did not wish to make any comm. indeed I could not untill Govr. Cass had made his propositions to them. Mr Trimble & myself visited their camps together. concluded as his object or business & mine were simular that we would comm together. He made his first, which was a handsome prelude & paved the way for mine, he requested to know if the Indians wished any change in relation to the Factory system, if they wished Blacksmith, schools & c among them. and closed with saying that he knew Mr. McCoy & myself that we were good men and that they might depend on any thing I would say to them. I then made my comm touching lightly on reserves to which they replyed that they would give us answers at a few days. We have heard from them frequently since, which is rather unfavourable, and as an evidence that our propositions did not relish well, they have not given either of us an answer, and Col. Trimble has since that time frequently reqt. it, stating that he was going away


soon. he starts on tomorrow, without any answer to Green Bay in a Birch Canoe, in company with Major Biddle. I much regret his leaving me.

     The objection is what I stated, "fear of Monopoly." I anticipated this and guarded against it in my speech to them. but they state that though we want no Land at the present time, after some time we will creep in to get some. Col. Trimble says he has no hopes of my succeeding, but we must pursad them by degrees gradually overcoming their strong prejudices, and allaying their suspicion, by a course of conduct corresponding with our professions, towards them, in doing them good. That this circumstance though somewhat thwart ing our plans at the present, ought not to discourage, or cause an abandon ment of so laudable and rightious an undertaking. That God in his wisdom & goodness, will provide ways and means to carry on so good a work, which are at present unforseen by us. The above observations were no doubt made as a consolation to my mind which he discovd. was much agitated, by the appear ance of an unfavourable result. It is indeed much distressed. This morning Col. Trimble, Gov. Cass and myself had a conversation on the subject, and the conclusion was as a last effort that Govr. Cass would at his last council with them, make the request, to get permission to settle in their country that I yet have hope, but not much ground therefor. Mr. Burnet has not as much influence as I expected, and he has much business of his own. I have altogether given up any reserves. Col. Trimble says it is not material. The Govt. will afford means sufficient. I have had frequent talks with the chiefs since my first one. Govr. Cass & Mr. Sibley are quite favourable. There has been much councelling about the Treaty. I apprehend a cession will be made though some think otherwise. A few days will determine. I hope to be able to leave here in a few days, say monday next. My Horses are [recluperaiting some. I have procured some corn for them. my health is nearly restored for which I feel grateful. I hope you all enjoy good health. refer you to Capt. Hackly for particulars. I am happy to hear of the arrival of assistince in the arduous, I say arduous work of Indian r[e]form, prejudices & suspicions (which are not natural to such a degree, but excited,) to bear with. The latter are augmented if not produced by the former, bearing with them and endeavour ing to remove them, requires the exercise of adequate qualifications, which un fortunately few of us possess. Give my respects to Miss Delala & Rachel, and all friends-hoping that I may be blest with health sufficient to return, may find you all in health and spirits.
I subscribe myself,
Yr. affectionate friend

Robt. Montgomery

     The treaty had formally opened on August 17. For several days the Indians had been gathering upon the plain. Schoolcraft, returning from his tour of the Mississippi valley, arrived August 14 and recorded the total number encamped at the opening of negotiations as about three thousand. [19] The vast scene was one of moving color, rimmed by the blue splendor of Lake Michigan. Records of the talks indicate that the Indians were reluctant to deal, partly be-


cause of dissatisfaction over the outcome of the St. Mary's Treaty of 1919, and partly because of general aversion to disposing of the lands. Terms were finally arranged for the ceding of certain tracts, and the treaty was concluded on August 29.

     Article 4 of the treaty specified that one mile square should be selected under the direction of the President, on the north side of the Grand river, and one mile square on the south side of the St. Joseph, within the Indian lands not ceded, upon which blacksmiths and teachers for the Ottawas and Pottawatomies, respectively, should reside. Immediately upon the return of Montgomery from Chicago with news of this provision, McCoy leaped into action. He addressed a letter to Governor Cass:

Dear Sir
Fort Wayne, Sep. 2d 1821

     As the Putawatomies have asked for a teacher and blacksmith to be stationed on a section of land appropriated for that purpose, it is desirable that this mission should realize the advantages arising from this arrangement. A smith, it is expected, will shortly be united with us.

     The Board of Missions have authorized me to enlarge the sphere of our labours. It would, therefore, be truly gratifying for some of our missionaries who will shortly be connected with this mission, to be appointed, teacher, farmer, & blacksmith, for the Ottaways. The two establishments, so far as they would be under the control of the board of Missions, would be placed under one superintendent, and would mutually assist each other. I shall report the state of the mission to the Department of War, the 1st of Oct. and shall solicite a proper share of the $10,000 annual appropriation for Indn. reform. Now, sir, permit me, in behalf of the society which I serve, to solicit most earnestly your good offices in obtaining the above mentioned objects.

     A few lines from you, before you leave Detroit for Washington, would be a singular favour.

His Excellency L. Cass

Most respectfully
Your Humble Servt.
Isaac McCoy [20]

     Details of his plans were placed before the Board of Baptist Missions in this communication to the secretary, William Staughton:

Fort Wayne, Sep. 6, 1821
Rev. bro.

     To obtain a permanent and eligible site for the mission establishment, and to induce the Indians to aid somewhat in the support of schools among them, I have been labouring a long time. Thro. the good providence of God I have at length succeeded in a good degree.

     At a treaty last month at Chicago, when the Indians were ceding to the U. S. about 4,000,000 of acres of land in Michigan Territory, the Putawatomies obligated government to furnish them with a teacher, and a blacksmith and to


expend in supporting them $1,000 annually for 15 years. For the residence of those men, or in other words for a Mission plantation, they gave one mile square of land to be selected by the Prest. of the U. S. any where in their country.

     This arrangement is the result of plans which I had formed long since, and for the accomplishment of which I had felt much solicitude, and had put up many prayers. Should the government choose to appoint me teacher for the Putawatomies, and allow me to nominate the blacksmith, I beg leave to accept those offers, and permission to remove the establishment to the appropriated spot, so soon as the state of our funds and other circumstances shall justify.

     Nothing can be certainly known respecting those appointments, and nothing can be done relative to removing from this place, until the treaty shall have been retified by Congress. My present wishes are, to commence at the new site next March, make a crop of corn & c. build cabins, and in the fall remove thither the family and school, having grain & vegetables at the place for the subsistince of the family, which will save a deal of cost. Government I trust will defray most of the expense of building.

     Permit me to say that the Commissioners of Government expect the Board to avail themselves of the facilities offered to missionaries by their treaty with those natives, & the Indians themselves consider that we are under obligations to do so.

     The site which I would prefer, & which I hope will be selected is about 50 miles N. W. of this, and that much further from white settlements.

     When we shall settle at our more permanent residence, It is my wish to vary a little from the ordinary course of Missionaries among the Indians. I wish to lay off a town, not very compact, Let the houses be, say 20 poles apart, so that each family could have room for feeding cattle, horses, hogs, sheep & poultry. The missionaries would form one family. In this town I would invite all well disposed Indians to settle, preventing, as much as possible the Introduction of ardent spirits. Our fields would be a little back. at the mission house would be the place for public worship & for the school.

     Anticipating the arrangements made at the late treaty, I have for almost one year, been pursuing measures to prepare the minds of a number of Indian families to settle with us, and I am encouraged to expect emigrants from 4 different sources so soon as I shall say I am ready to receive them. The head of one family, who speaks english, has agreed to be our interpreter being a citizen Himself and his children attending school, his services will occasion no expense to the Mission, except on particular occasions.

     The Ottaways at the same time contracted with the U. S. for a teacher. a farmer, and a blacksmith, for the support of whom government is to allow $1,500 annually for 10 years, and also to furnish the nation with a number of cattle.

     The demands of these two tribes astonished the Commissioners in as much as the like had never before occurred with any of the Indians N. W. of Ohio, or west of Mississippi.

     As the arrangement of the Ottaways offer such facilities to Missionary I hope the Board will endeavour to avail themselves of them, all those persons whom the Indians have asked for to assist them, will be appointed by govern-


ment, and I have already petitioned the proper persons, to appoint some of our missionaries, I presume that men of the proper characters may be obtained in the course of one year from this time. The establishment among the Ottaways could be located at a place not more than 100 North [sic] of that among the Putawatomies, and, if the Board pleased, the former might be an apendage to the latter.

     These two tribes speak the same language with very trifling variations. The establishments being near to each other, and connected in their labours, would always act in unison, and would mutually assist each other. If the Board should not choose to expend any thing on the branch among the Ottaways, It would be no objection to my plan, for it would be better for us to have three missionaries living there on the annual salary of $500 each, than to risk an establishment which might not favour our views. Farming utensils, blacksmith tools, and even stock to work upon, would, I conclude be furnished by government. However, if the board will please to say that they approve the measure, provided the teacher, farmer & blacksmith can be supported at the station by the salary they shall receive from government, or, rather if they could afford to say that after bearing the expense of conveying the missionaries to the ground, they could afterwards allow that department the annual sum of $1000 towards defraying the current expenses, I would then if they please, make the best possible arrangement with government, after which we would be enabled to decide on the eligibility of the plan.

     I fear that my worthy patrons will think that I am likely to run on precipitately & extravagantly in business, but I assure them that my present requests are the results of sober reflection and, as I said before, of much labour.

     It is however uncertain whether with all our labour & pains we shall be able to get a footing among the Ottaways. At the moment when the Putawatomies requested the teacher & c. a Roman catholic, who was interpreting for the commissioners had the audacity to say in publick council, that the Indians desired government to furnish them with a Roman catholic teacher. The Indians being informed of what the interpreter had said, immediately contradicted him, and declared that I was the man whom they wanted. From this circumstances you will perceive, dear sir, what vigilence; and care are necessary to secure the best interests of the mission.

     It is also very desirable that a teacher farmer & blacksmith be located among the Miamies, say 40 miles southeast of the plantation among the Putawatomies. The Miamies are already entitled to a smith. I trust they will yet be prevailed upon to request of government the other two persons. The prospects around us, are brightening. Shall I ask pardon for wishing to improve every opportunity which presents itself for putting the mission into extensive operation? But we are liable to disappointment.

     In order to render our plans effective and to secure a liberal share of patronage from government, I have thought it would be well for me to visit Washington at the next session of Congress, provided the business of the establishment would admit of my leaving home. I could then more fully explain to the proper persons my wishes, and more hopefully press upon them my requests. I would not, however, like to take such a journey, without the permission of the Board. I have written to a particular friend, who is a member of the Senate, to know at what time I had better attend. Should the Board


permit me to go to Washington, perhaps they may instruct me to meet them before I return, that our plans may be more fully developed, and the best measures adopted. . . ,

     I have received the last Annual Report, and your late affectionate letters. I feel sensibly affected with the sympathy and liberality of the Board, I subscribe myself

Your Obedient humble servant,
Isaac McCoy

Rev. W m. Staughton Corr. Sec. & c.
Ps. The necessity of an answer as soon as possible to the foregoing will readily occur to you. I. M [21]

     The attitude of the board, as expressed by its secretary, was one of qualified encouragement. Mr. Staughton wrote on September 29: "The plan you propose seems a good one, but, I do not think the Board is favorable to frequent changes. Circumstances may sometimes require them, but in general the best rule, to use the words of Dr. Young is `in fixing, fix.' Or as Franklin expresses himself `a rolling stone gathers no moss.' " Another letter dated October 18 transmitted information that the board had declined to take action on McCoy's proposed move until he could appear before that body; nor was it deemed advisable that he solicit aid from the government before visiting the board. Frequent removals it was felt, were undesirable, having usually an ill effect upon the public mind. Mr. Staughton again recommended the axiom of Dr. Young.

     Following instructions from the board to appear before the group, McCoy set out upon a journey by horseback to Philadelphia on December 4. On January 7 he made a statement of his work and plans. His entire program was approved, including three proposed missionary stations, one among the Pottawatomies, one among the Ottawas and one among the Miamis. He was given full authority to select workers and to remove from Fort Wayne when he deemed it expedient to do so. In view of the indifference of the board before his personal visit, it must be concluded that McCoy spoke with convincing fervor. Before his return to Fort Wayne, he visited the Secretary of War in Washington and obtained assurances of aid insofar as it could be given when the treaty should be ratified.

     It must not be assumed that McCoy was seeking the slightest pecuniary advantage for himself in asking the appointment as teacher to the Pottawatomies, which position he expected to fill while acting also as representative of the Baptist board. Although he should be drawing money from two sources under that arrangement, all was to be applied to the work of the mission. Two rules

Your Obedient Humble Sevt.
Isaac McCoy


from "General Rules for the Fort Wayne Mission Family" indicate the sincerity of these laborers in the wilderness:

     2d. We agree that our whole time, talents, and labours, shall be dedicated to the obtaining of this object [to meliorate the condition of the Indians], and shall all be bestowed gratis, so that the mission cannot become indebted to any missionary for his or her services.

     3d. We agree that all remittances from the board of missions, and all money and property accruing to any of us, by salaries from Government, by smith shops, by schools, by donations, or from whatever quarter it may arise, shall be thrown into the common missionary fund, and be sacredly applied to the cause of this mission; and that no part of the property held by us at our stations is ours, or belongs to any of us, but it belongs to the General Convention which we serve, and is held in trust by us, so long as said society shall continue us in their employment: Provided that nothing herein contained shall affect the right of any to private inheritance, & c [22]

     The treaty was ratified March 25, 1822. In July, following, McCoy visited Governor Cass at Detroit and subsequently received his appointment and full instructions. A small portion of an appropriation by Congress of $10,000 for the purposes of Indian reform was allotted to the new station.

     The location finally determined upon was not exactly that desired by McCoy, but he yielded to the wishes of the Indians in the matter. The site was about one mile west of the present city of Niles, Berrien county, Mich., one hundred and eighty miles from a settlement and an even greater distance from a mill. The mission was called Carey, honoring a celebrated Baptist missionary.

     Preparations were immediately started for removal. In August McCoy took workers to the new location where hay was prepared for the stock. In October a company left Fort Wayne and began the erection of buildings at Carey. And on December 9 the mission family departed from the old station. The train consisted of three wagons drawn by oxen and one by horses. There were thirty-two personsseven members of the McCoy family, one assistant, six work hands and eighteen Indians. Fifty hogs and five cows were driven with difficulty over the icy ground. The journey was completed in eleven days.

     The concerns of life were altogether too serious and pressing to admit of any period of relaxation upon their arrival at the goal. The cabins were unfinished and the school not yet begun; it was necessary to butcher the hogs because there was no grain with which to feed them; the Indians immediately demanded work at the


smithery; and food stuffs had to be hauled from the settlement-a trip of four hundred miles for the wagons.

     It was deemed expedient, however, to pause from labor at the beginning of the new year and extend a welcome to the neighbors of the region. McCoy wrote in his journal on January 1, 1823:

     Chebass & Topenebee, chiefs, and others, men, women & children, about 40 in all, called in to congratulate us on the opening of the New Year. Shaking of hands and kissing are among the ceremonies which prevail among them on this day. In conforming to the former we felt no embarrassment. But we dispensed with the latter, as it was a perfor[mance] which we could not very well relish. Their observance of holidays is not an original custom among them, but is derived from the French traders among them. Smoked the pipe of peace and friendship together, after which we sat down together and partook of a dinner we had prepared for them. All appeared remarkably cheerful and well pleased. Some of the principal men expressed to our interpreter the greatest satisfaction in the manner we had received them. Said they could not think there were any more such good men among the whites, and that our kindness should be rewarded by presents of sugar, or something else by and by.

     Life and work had begun at Carey mission. The story of the years that followed differs little from that of the years that went before. There were hardships, always, obstacles and discouragement. But there was also a new and stronger purpose-the removal of the tribes to the region beyond the Mississippi. And it was in his application to this purpose that McCoy became in time a leader in the movement to better the condition of the Indian.


1. Isaac McCoy was born near Uniontown, Pa., June 13, 1784. He died at Louisville, Ky., June 21, 1816. His published works include: Remarks on the Practicability of Indian Reform Embracing Their Colonization., 1827; The Annual Register of Indian Affairs Within the Indian (or Western) Territory, 1835-1838; A History of the Baptist Indian Missions, 1840.
2. Statement of the events of his life addressed to his brother-in-law, William Polke. Isaac McCoy's journals, correspondence and manuscripts referred to in this article are part of the McCoy collection of manuscripts belonging to the Kansas State Historical Society. The journal covers with some gaps, the years 1817-1841; the correspondence begins with the year 1808 and continues until McCoy's death.
3. Ibid.
4. Journal of Isaac McCoy, January 12, 1817. Hereinafter cited as Journal.
5. Letter, William Staughton corresponding secretary Baptist Board of Foreign Missions, to Isaac Mcoy, September 16, 1817.
6. Journal, January 24, 1818.
7. Ibid., March 7, 1818.
8. Ibid., March 30, 1818.
9. McCoy, Isaac, History of Baptist Indian Missions, p. 46.
10. Draft of letter, January 12, 1820.
11. Pioneer who settled at Fort Dearborn in 1804.
12. United States Indian agent at Chicago, 1820-1830.
13. Journal.
14. History of Baptist Indian Missions, p. 100.
15. MS. statement.
16. Probably phonetic spelling of Beaubien.
17. Lewis Cass, governor of Michigan territory and ex officio superintendent of Indian affairs for that region, and Solomon Sibley, pioneer and jurist, acted as United States commissioners at the treaty.
18. William A. Trimble, U. S. senator from Ohio. Trimble visited McCoy at Fort Wayne on his way to the treaty and promised support of McCoy's program.
19. Schoolcraft Henry R., Travels in the Central Portions of the Mississippi Valley (New York, 1825), p, 336.
20. Draft of letter.
21. Draft of letter.
22. History of Baptist Indian Missions, p. 170.

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