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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


April 5, 2003 - Issue 84


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Early Copper Mining History In the Lake Superior Basin (Part 3)

[From the Jesuit Relation of 1669--70.]
credits: submitted by Timm Severud (Ondamitag)

[Extract from a letter from Beauharnois to the French Minister, dated Oct. 5, 1738.  Source, same as proceeding document, but vol. 69, fol. 222.]

The precautions I had taken to enable the two Miners to reach the Copper Mines have Been unavailing, owing to the Voyageurs who conducted them having been obliged to put back through stress of Weather, And to the Season Being too far advanced, which compelled them to winter in Montreal. They proceeded Early last spring to Chagoüamigon And the Sieur de La Ronde Wrote me on the 28th of June and 22nd of July that, as he was returning from Navigating the Lake, he made an Attempt to approach the island that is said to Be of Copper but a Terrible Squall prevented him from reaching it. On his arrival at Sault Ste Marie (on the 24th of June) he learned that the Miners had passed 14 days previously under the guidance of the Sieur Guillory. He hoped to meet him along the lakeshore. He wrote that this mishap had caused him chagrin, inasmuch as the Sieur Guillory did not know the Places as he did; that Nevertheless he Was assisted by a Savage who Undertook to take him to one of the Mines where the Sieur de la Ronde had Been. He adds in his Letter of the 28th of July that when the Miners returned to the Sault Ste Marie, he asked them what they thought of that mass of Copper (which is doubtless La Roche [the Rock] already mentioned) [Note: Since the earliest exploration of Lake Superior, the French had knowledge of a large mass of copper near the mouth of the Ontonagon River. It is described in the Jesuit Relation for 1666--67 (Thwaites's ed., 1, p. 267; liv, p. 161) and was popularly known as "La Roche." In 1843 this mass, weighing between 6,000 and 7,000 pounds, was transported to the Smithsonian Institution, where it was found to be 95 per cent pure copper. --Ed.]. They replied that it was a Mass that had been carried by the ice to that spot on the shore. Thereupon when the Sieur de La Ronde told them he would showy them similar masses more than fifty Leagues from there, they admitted that this might be so, and that the masses might have been detached from some mountains. The Sieur de La Ronde then proposed that they embark with him in order that he might take them to the Places where the Mines Were situated and amongst others to those in the Tonnagane River. At first they raised some difficulties because their engagement Expires on the first of May 1739, and they would be unable to get home by that date. But the Sieur de La Ronde having disposed of all objections by promising to pay them for the extra time they would be with him, they agreed to go whither he might wish to take them. The idea of the Sieur de La Ronde is to make them Inspect generally all the Places on the Lake where he knows of Copper Mines being situated and to take advantage of the stay of the miners at that Place to obtain all the Information he can from them so that when he communicates the same to me I may be in a Position to Report to you thereon. Monsieur Hocquart And I have the honor to send you the report made by one Guillory, the younger, who arrived from that Country on the 14th of the month of August last.

I remain with very profound Respect, Monsignor, and Your very humble and very obedient servant
Quebec, October 5th, 1738.

[MS. in archives of Ministère des Colonies, Paris; pressmark, "Canada, Corresp. gén., vol. 65, c. 11, fol. 173."]

Statement of the services rendered to his Majesty by Monsieur de La Ronde Denis, Knight of the Royal and Military order of St. Louis, first Captain and Commandant of the Troops of the Detachment of Marine, from 1687 to the year 1739.

1687 He was made a guardsman in the Marine [Note: Equivalent to midshipman.--Ed.]  and served in the Department of Rochefort until 1689. He served with Vice-Admiral Monsieur de Gabaret, Chief of the Squadron,

1689 in the "St Michel" on board of which he took King James to Ireland, and in the same Campaign, he was present at the Battle of Bantry [Note: James II landed at Kinsale, Ireland, March 12, 1689. The English were defeated by the French in the naval battle of Bantry Bay in May of the same year. --Ed.], and at the capture of an Ostend privateer, mounting 18 Guns, which we took with Beats commanded by Monsieur Du Taré

1690 He served in the "Courageux," Commanded by Monsieur Reale; and was at Brest with Monsieur the Marquis do Savigny Montmeron; he was also present at the Battle of la Manche. [Note: The battle of "la Manche" is known to English historians as that of Beachy Head, in which a French fleet of ten vessels defeated the allied Dutch and English fleet of fifty-six ships.--Ed.]

1691 In the "Excellent" with Monsieur Du Rivan Huet, on which he cruised in rim Channel throughout the winter, and served during the Cruise on the high seas.

1692 In the "Envieux" with Monsieur Bonaventure, doing duty as ensign during the cruise to Canada, and thence along the coast of New England.

1693 In the "Suzanne Françoise" with Monsieur Bonaventure on a voyage to Acadia, during which he served as first Lieutenant.

1694 In the "Entendu" with Monsieur Duquesne, when we went to the Mediterranean Sea and captured Palamos and Girone.

1695 In the "Envieux" with Monsieur Bonaventure, on board of which he ranked as Ensign, and went to Acadia where they fought an English frigate, and thence to Placentia. Here he found Monsieur Belair, a post Captain, who commanded the "fourbe" and who's Lieutenant had been killed in an engagement that took place during the voyage from France. He therefore took Monsieur de la Ronde Denis in his place, and during the Run home he took an English Ship mounting 16 Guns, the Command whereof was given him. On approaching the French coast, he met an English Squadron, which captured him and took him a prisoner to Ireland.

1696 He remained thirteen Months in the prisons of Ireland.

1697 He sailed in the "Vespre" Commanded by the Chevalier de Chartrier in Monsieur d'Iberville's Squadron, which sailed for Hudson's Bay. He held the rank of Lieutenant. They captured the fort, sank the admiral's ship; took one ship and put the remainder of the Squadron to flight. [Note: This feat of Iberville's Is well described by Garneau, Histoire de Canada (Montreal 15882, i, pp. 368--371. --Ed.]

1698 In the "Envieux" on board of which he held the rank of Ensign. They went into all the harbors of Acadia, and thence to Placentia.

1699 In the "Nieuport" with Monsieur de Courbon St. Leger, cruising along rite Coast of Acadia against freebooters. He held the rank of Ensign, and had Charge of the Ship by the King's orders, owing to his thorough Knowledge of that coast.

1700 In the "Renounce" with Monsieur d'Iberville, sailing to the Mississippi. He held the rank of Ensign, and for five months he was in the river engaged in surveying it in obedience to Monsieur d'Iberville's orders. [Note: This was Iberville's second voyage to the Mississippi. He arrived at his colony at Biloxi, Dec. 12, 1699, and spent the next five months exploring the Mississippi River. --Ed.]

1701 His Majesty gave him the Command of the "Enflamé" to sail to the Mississippi with Munitions [Note: The "Enflammé" arrived at Biloxi colony with provisions, etc., the last of May, 1701. --Ed.]. The Cruise occupied 17 months.

1702 In the "Loire," Commanded by the Chevalier de Gabaret, on board of which he was second in command, sailing to Canada, to take Monsieur de Beauharnois [Note: Francois de Beauharnois, Intendant of New France from September, 1702, to September, 1705. --Ed.], the Intendant, there; and during the Voyage they captured an English Ship at night. He was dangerously wounded in the Shoulder, and was compelled to remain in Canada, as he was not cured when the Ship sailed.

1703 He returned in the "seine" commanded by Monsieur The Chevalier de Beauharnois doing duty as second Lieutenant during the Voyage.

1704 In the "seine" with Monsieur The Chevalier de Meaupou, sailing to Canada on board of which he was second Lieutenant. During the Voyage they met the Virginian fleet consisting of five war-ships which attacked us and after an Engagement lasting 17 hours, as our rigging was all shot away, and we had six feet of water in our Hold, we were captured and taken to England. [Note: The "Seine" was a store ship of 40 guns, and had on board 20 officers, 2,000 small arms, and much ammunition. The English colonists were rejoiced at its capture. --Ed.]

1705 In the "Profond" with Monsieur Cauvet sailing to Acadia, on board of which he was second in command  during the Voyage, and on his arrival he took Command, by His Majesty's order, of a frigate mounting 14 Guns that the King had caused to be Built for the purpose of cruising Along the Coast of new England.

1707 While in Harbor on board the King's frigate the "Biche," ready to sail on a cruise, an English fleet sailed into Port Royal to besiege it. He was compelled to run the frigate aground beneath the fort, and was detached by Monsieur de Subercasse at the head of 130 men to oppose the passage of the little River, which the Enemy, to the number of 1500 men, were to cross. He repulsed them twice, but was compelled to give way to superior force, and he retreated to the fort, fighting every foot of the ground. Throughout the siege, he commanded the Royal Bastion, which faced the Enemy, and when the siege was raised, he embarked on the frigate to carry the news to the King. [Note: This was the expedition commanded by Colonel March, which sailed from Boston, May 13, 1707, and made a fruitless assault on Port Royal. Daniel d'Auger de Subercasse came to Canada in 1687, and after military service in various parts of the colony, received the appointment of governor of Acadia in 1705. In 1710 he surrendered Port Royal to the English. --Ed.]

1708 He commanded the "Venus'" which sailed in the depth of the winter to Acadia with munitions of war, and he arrived there at the Beginning of April. Thence he went to cruise along the coast of New England where he captured several prizes, and went to Placentia to dismantle the vessel.

1709 He served under Monsieur de St Ovide De Brogliand with the rank of second Commander. He had 100 men to go and capture the English coast. They succeeded very well for on the first of January they took fort St John where they found more than a thousand men under arms, both Troops and settlers. In the Spring they blew up all The forts; they held the Coast to ransom, and conveyed all the artillery in the "Venus" to Placentia. He took to Quebec the governor, the officers, La Ronde was a volunteer in this Newfoundland expedition, which was planned by St. Ovide, king's lieutenant at Placentia, and nephew of the former governor, De Brouillan. The expedition is described by Charlevoix, History of New France (Shea ed., New York, 1871), v, pp. 212--215. --Ed. and soldiers of the garrison of St John, and handed them over to Monsieur The Marquis de Vaudreuil, by whom he was detained during the whole Summer to Command the Marine for the Defense of Quebec, which was threatened with an attack. Aster this he conveyed provisions to the Garrison and Colony of Placentia, which without that succor would have died of hunger during the winter. All these voyages were performed in very bad weather, and nearly caused his death several times.

1710 He sailed on the "Loire" for Acadia. When he reached Placentia, he learned that Acadia was taken, and this compelled him to remain at Placentia by order of Monsieur de Costebelle.

1711 He was sent by Monsieur de Costebelle, the governor, to Boston for the purpose of secretly securing neutrality between its people, and that of Canada in order thereby to diminish the aid that new England night give for the Conquest of new France; and he would have succeeded in this had it not been for the Mishaps that occurred, and whereof his Majesty was fully informed by the Said Sieur de Costebelle, who several times placed His life in danger.

1712 He received an order from, the King to settle Isle Royale [Note: After the loss of Acadia, the French tried to replace that colony by another on Isle Royale (now Cape Breton Island). Costebelle was the first governor, but was replaced in 1713 by St. Ovide. --Ed.]; he went in the "Samezelac" with Monsieur de St Ovide de Brogliand.

1713 During the winter he was engaged in roaming the depths of the forests and the Lakes of that island a Map whereof, made by the Sieur de Couhaigne sub engineer, he gave to the Commandant of Louisbourg. After this, he was ordered to go to Port Royal, to les mines and Beaubassin on the coast of Acadia to Prevent the settlers from submitting to English domination, because those places do not form part of nova Scotia or Acadia according to the Former Limits defined by the treaty of Utrecht.

He succeeded so well that these people there agreed to never take the oath of allegiance to the King of Great Britain, and to remain faithful to the King of France, their sovereign. [Note: After the treaty of Utrecht, the French claimed that the clause ceding Acadia "with its former limits" meant only that portion of the peninsula upon which Port Royal stood. Minas and Beaubassin were by that interpretation still on French soil. For further description of this embassy, see documents cited by Richard, Acadia (New York 1895), i, pp. 83--87. This frank avowal by La Ronde of the purpose and success of his embassy undoubtedly lessens the weight of the contention that the British authorities treated the Acadians with undue severity, even at this early period of English sovereignty. --Ed.]

1714 On his return from Acadia in the Month of January, he was ordered to go to France, to carry dispatches from Monsieur de Costebelle to the Court. He was unfortunately wrecked on reaching the coast of Brittany, whence he posted to Versailles. There he found that he had been appointed Commandant of the port of Toulouse, where he arrived after encountering great difficulties, and continued to serve until 1720.

1720 He received a command from the King to go and serve in Canada. As he was about to start, he was Ordered by Monsieur de St Ovide de Brogliand to follow the Sieur de Godeville, the officer Commanding the fleet of Isle St. Jean, to help to settle that island. This resulted in his remaining there by

1721 the King's Order during 1721, to act as second in Command in the said island. [Note: Isle St. Jean (now Prince Edward's Island) was in 1719 ceded to a French nobleman, who formed a company to settle it. After a brief trial, the enterprise proved abortive, and a permanent settlement was not made until after the fall of Louisburg. --Ed.]

1722 He was Ordered by the King to replace the Sieur du Godeville in the Command, which he was unable to do as Monsieur do Beaucourt, the Lieutenant of 'Isle Royale, had received a similar order.

1723 Monsieur The Marquis de Vaudreuil thought proper to send him by land to Boston on the 5th of October to represent to the governor of that place the injury that he did to the Abenakis by taking possession of all their lands [Note: This was connected with the war between the Abenaki and Massachusetts (1721--25), the most dramatic feature of which was the killing of Father Rasle, the Jesuit missionary. See Charlevoix, History of New France, v, pp. 206--282, for the French side of this event; and Palfrey, History of New England (Boston, 1875), iv, pp. 434--444, for the English. --Ed.]. He had great trouble in reaching there, owing to the season, which was far advanced, and he carried out the orders and instructions that he had received to the satisfaction of Monsieur the Marquis de Vaudreuil [Note: See evidence in regard to this, ante, p. 20. --Ed.]. But that journey and most of those that preceded it were very costly to him, for his Expenses were never reimbursed, and he never received any allowance either from the Court or from the governors who sent him.

1727 He was appointed by Monsieur The Marquis de Beauharnois Commandant at Chagoüamigon, 600 Leagues from Quebec. On arriving at that post he withdrew from the tribe of savages there, who are the Sauteur, a Collar which they had received from, the Iroquois by the hands of an Outaois Chief called Le feu bleu, and by which they had agreed to destroy the entire French nation. On handing me that Collar, they begged me to carry it myself to their father, which I did; but I was unable to bring them the answer, as they had requested me to do, because Monsieur the Marquis de Beauharnois did not deem it advisable.

1728 He remained on garrison duty in the town of Quebec, which he would no; have done had he not received orders to that effect, for during the whole time that he has served the King he has sought every occasion to make himself deserving of promotion.

1734 He went to discover the Mines of Lake superior and of the other Lakes, and he remained there until 1736, as may be seen by the journal Sent by him to Monsignor the Comte de Maurepas.
[The remainder of this memoir is a duplicate of the succeeding report of La Ronde (pp. 309--311), entitled, "Continuation of the Discovery of the Mines," as far as the sentence "I brought them back in my vessel to Sault Ste. Marie," when the memoir closes as follows:]

1736 Whence I took them to Quebec where they made their report to Monsieur the general and Monsieur The Intendant on what they had seen.

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