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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


May 3, 2003 - Issue 86


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Equadon and the Park of a Hundred Springs
(Part 1)

From The Ashland Daily Press - July 6, 1933 - By Guy M. Burnham
credits: submitted by Timm Severud (Ondamitag)

Here's the History of the Prentice Park

(The following is the address prepared by Guy M. Burnham for delivery at the Old Settler's picnic on July 4th and read by Mrs. Lew Anderson.)

The Park of a Hundred Flowing Wells
Web Springs, Ashland Mineral Springs, Prentice Springs have without doubt attracted men to their pure and healing waters, for ages. We usually refer to them as the 'Flowing Wells of Prentice Park.'  Whatever their name they are a priceless gift. Some of the flowing streams have been piped, and we call them artesian wells, which they are. Some of them have been connected by pipes with other wells, and sometimes new wells come to the surface, to be curbed with pipes or allowed to flow for a time. They feed the Lagoon just below the flowing wells. Like the wells, the Lagoon is wholly composed of this marvelous artesian water, and I have not the slightest doubt, that there is healing not only in the Lagoon, but also in the clean mud that forms its bottom.

Our Park of a Hundred Flowing Wells occupies the site of an old Indian Settlement, for what man, be he white or red, is not attracted by the pure water that comes from these wells.

It will be just 79 years ago tomorrow that Asaph Whittlesey and George Kilbourne rowed a small boat from Bayfield across the bay of Chequamegon to the south shore of the bay. This was all Indian land then, but Whittlesey believed in take time for the forelock, looking he said, for a place that 'might prove to be the most available point for a town, at or near Equadon (pronounced E Quay don, the second syllable emphasized.) The word 'Equadon,' is the Chippewa word meaning 'settlement near the head of the bay.'

Just west of the place where Whittlesey landed, was the staggering Indian settlement, clustered around the 'place of many springs,' with paths leading down to the bay pretty much as they do now.

That was on July 5, 1854.

Four years later, Robert D. Boyd, whose blood was the first that was shed in Ashland, lived in the Indian settlement just west of Ashland - with his Indian wife, who was a grand daughter of Michel Cadotte. He came from his residence in Equadon, west of Ashland up to Whittley's third house one evening, where he was shot and killed by Joseph H.M. Cross. There or four years ago, I accidentally discovered the half breed son of the first man who was killed in Ashland, was living on the Bad River Reservation, and from this half breed, Robert Boyd, Jr., I obtained some new facts about the killing of his father. His wife, a very intelligent full-blooded Chippewa woman said to me, "My father lived in a wigwam, in Equadon, west of Ashland, near the springs."

The Historical Background
The founding of Ashland, the Treaty of 1854, and the development of Prentice Park, are closely related.

During the month of February 1854, Leonard Wheeler, the missionary and an Odanah Indian met at Odanah, where Mr. Wheeler then lived, and drove on the ice along the south shore of the Chequamegon Bay, from Kakagon to Fish Creek. It was the year of the great treaty, in which the Indians agreed to cede most of their lands to the United States and to reserve tracts for their permanent homes. The Indians were glad to do this, for only four years before; the government had decided to move the Chippewa to the Minnesota country. William Whipple Warren led a large delegation to Minnesota but like all others who were interested, they much preferred Wisconsin. Leonard Wheeler himself, took up the cudgel of his wards, and practically led the fight to prevent the removal of the Chippewas from Wisconsin, but in 1854, it was understood that some sort of agreement was going to have to be reached, for white settlers were looking to the north, and they need an outlet to Lake Superior. The Indians realized that they would have to do something so Wheeler, the missionary and Little Current, the Chippewa, were delegated to look over the south shore of Chequamegon Bay. William Wheeler who was a small boy accompanied his father and the Indian on the trip, says that the Indians furnished the pony and the missionary the cutter, and they drove down past where Ashland now stands, to the extreme head of the bay. From the head of the bay region, at Fish Creek to nearly where Whittlesey afterwards built his first house, there was a straggling Indian settlement, which the Indians called Equadon.

Every foot of land from Fish Creek to Odanah was Indian Land. It was in this settlement or village, which the wife of Robert Boyd, Jr., told me her father, lived in Equadon, near the many flowing springs, which we now call Prentice Park. The Indians thought the western limits of the proposed reservation of Bad River, should be the west end of the bay, but the missionary pointed out that that would keep the white men from building a city on the south shore of the bay, and that it would be advantageous to the Indians to have such a city built, as it would furnish a market for their furs and other products they might have for sale. Little Current agreed to this, and then and there, the agreed on the western limits of the Bad River Reservation should begin at the Kakagon just as it is now, extending the reservation far enough south to make up for the loss of the frontage from Kakagon to Fish Creek. Asaph Whittlesey frequently talked with Leonard Wheeler about good sites along the south shore and so about four months after the momentous trip of Leonard Wheeler and Little Current, near the end of February. Asaph Whittlesey and George Kilbourne rowed a boat over from Bayfield and felled the first tree, built the first house, establishing the settlement, which was to be known for about six years as Whittlesey. When Whittlesey felled the first tree on July 5, 1854, the land still belonged to the Indians. Three months later, on September 30, 1854, the Treaty of La Pointe was signed, under which Bad River, Lac Courte Oreilles, Red Cliff, the tip of Madeline Island, and Lac du Flambeau were reserved, but it was not until January 10, 1855, that the Senate ratified the treaty, which became a law by proclamation of President Franklin Pierce, on January 29, 1855.

Although Whittlesey built his first house on land, which still belonged to the Indians, there was little danger of the Wheeler-Little Current agreement being disturbed, and Whittlesey became Ashland in 1860. The head of the bay, which then, as well as now, swarmed with fish and game, became a part of the white man's domain, and this included the Place of Many Springs, Prentice Park.

As for the Indian settlement of Equadon, after the Treaty of 1854 became effective in the year 1856, the dwellers in Equadon went over to Odanah, with most of the Chippewas who moved from La Pointe, to the village, which Leonard Wheeler had formed for them on the Bad River.

The Site of Equadon
The attraction of inexhaustible fish and game always made the head of the Chequamegon a gathering place for Indians. Allouez who arrived at Chequamegon on October 1, 1665 says:

"It is a beautiful bay, at the head is situated the large village of Indians who there cultivated fields of Indian corn, and do not lead a wandering life. There are at this place, men bearing arms who number about 800; but these gathered together from seven different tribes."

Indian corn is not a crop that is grown in swamps or wet low lands. The historian Verwyst, whom we here know as Father Chrysostom, says that Allouez lived for a short time at least, at the village of the junction of South Fork and Fish Creek, which of course was one of the villages of the seven tribes. Verwyst further says that on east side of Fish Creek was one a large and populous village of Ottawas who raised corn. The map of Bellin also much later, in the year 1741 has a mark showing a village east of Fish Creek. E.P. Wheeler, writing to our committee on the establishment of a Radisson Marker, mentions the Ottawa village east of Fish Creek. The Ottawas, by the way, called the Courte Oreilles or Short Ears, have there name perpetuated in Lac Courte Oreilles, near Hayward. All these villages east of Fish Creek, whose people raided Indian corn, obviously resided quite close to this place of Many Flowing Wells, and I think their cornfields grew right across the railroad track on the level land south of Prentice Park. I was brought up in corn country, and the field where Mr. Maslowski has established his park nursery, is the place where there were cornfields, and it is altogether probable, that the many flowing wells, which line the bluff just above the Lagoon, furnished the drinking water for generations of people. We know, that there stood the settlement of Equadon, near which Asaph Whittlesey felled his first tree.


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