Quaife, M[ilo]. M[ilton]., ed. "The Mansion of St. Martin." Burton Historical Collection Leaflet Vol 3 No 3 (January, 1925): 33-48. HTML & Ed. Marshall Davies Lloyd (January 21, 2001).
The Mansion of St. Martin
By M. M. QUAIFE
"GOING! going!! gone!!!" ran the headline over an article published in a Detroit paper one day in 1882 describing the demolition of the city's oldest building, the former home of Governor Cass. The ancient mansion had long since fallen upon evil days, in consequence of which its closing years had been passed amid an environment of poverty and squalor; yet within its massive walls of log hovered an atmosphere of romance and a wealth of historic associations, the memory of which was destined long to outlive the sturdy building itself. To sketch in part its history, and to recall to mind some of the interesting men and women whose careers are inextricably bound up with it, is the purpose of the present narrative.
When and by whom the house was built seems now impossible to determine; but a story of its origin has long persisted which, although without adequate historical evidence, affords the logical point of departure for the narration upon which we are embarking. When in 1701 Cadillac came to establish at "the Straits of Lake Erie" an outpost
|34||BURTON HISTORICAL COLLECTION LEAFLET.||34|
of civilization, he was received with acclaim by the resident savages. Before long the enthusiasm of Quarante Sols, chief of the Huron village, became such that he expressed a desire for a house wherein he might "live in the French fashion." In due time the order came from Quebec to Cadillac to build for the red ruler a house of oak; forty feet long and twenty feet wide. As ordered, so was it done, and a letter written from Detroit in the summer of 1703 describes the house as "delightfully situated on the margin of the river" on a little eminence overlooking the Huron village. There is no clear-cut evidence to show that the mansion thus constructed for the gratification of red royalty in the infancy of Detroit was identical with the one whose demolition was announced in the headlines of 1882, but the similarity of location and size, together with the known antiquity of the latter, have induced many students of Detroit history to believe that it was, and this belief, together with the story on which it rests, is now a part of the history of the house. As such, and subject to the caution noted, we offer it to the reader.
About the year 1740 the Huron band removed from their village near the fort to beautiful Bois Blanc Island. Some time prior to this, one Jean Baptiste Baudry had come out to Detroit and thereby had become the founder of a family which was to become notable in the city's annals. Baudry, who was variously designated, also, as La Butte and St. Martin, was connected with some of the foremost families of Canada. His grandfather had come from France to Quebec about the year 1646; there he married Madeleine Boucher, a sister of the governor of Three Rivers, and founded a numerous and well-known family line. Jean Baptiste, its first Detroit representative, was born at Three Rivers in 1684. His wife was Mary Louise Doyon, who came of a family still more notable in the annals of Canada. One of its connections was Marie Therese, the wife of Cadillac, who in 1702 courageously followed her husband into the wilderness to become in the literal sense the first lady of Detroit. Her arrival has been made the theme of one of the two fine historical paintings which grace the walls of the delivery room of the Public Library. Of Jean Baptiste Baudry it is recorded
|35||MANSION OF ST. MARTIN.||35|
that he had mastered the silversmith's art. He engaged in trade with the Indians, learned the language of the Huron, and before many years was serving as interpreter between them and the officials of the French government at Detroit. Not only must the interpreter be intimately acquainted with the natives, but he must enjoy their confidence as well. If the house built by Cadillac for Quarante Sols in 1703 was still standing, there is nothing improbable in the traditional story that when the Huron ceased to have need of it they turned it over to their friend Baudry; and while this act would give him full ownership from the Indian point of view, he would naturally seek a patent from the French government to establish his ownership in the eyes of the white men. Such a grant, embracing a tract of land two arpents wide and forty deep, fronting on the river immediately below the fort, was formally issued to Baudry on April 1, 1750. The grant comprised a portion of what was designated by the Americans half a century later as Private Claim No. 55, lying between Cass and Third Avenues, and commonly known throughout most of the nineteenth century as the Cass farm.
We are now ready to present what seems to be the most probable alternative theory with respect to the origin of the mansion. It is quite probable that Baudry had been an actual occupant of his land in advance of procuring the formal grant. Whenever he located on it, he must have a house to live in, and unless he found one ready to hand, he must himself have built one. On this view of the case, the years 1740-50 may be taken as marking approximately the date when the old house was erected.
Baudry died in 1755, and his body was interred beneath the old church of Ste. Anne, while his soul, it may be presumed, winged its flight to a clime even fairer than that of "the detroit." We have noted that the interpreter was variously known, also, as St. Martin and La Butte (or Des Buttes), these names being derived from those of ancestors in the feminine line of ascent. The former passed to his son Jacques, who commonly went by the name of St. Martin, and this name we will employ henceforth in designating both him and the estate.
After the death of the elder St. Martin in 1755, his
|36||BURTON HISTORICAL COLLECTION LEAFLET.||36|
widow continued to live on in the house with her son, Jacques. In 1760 she gained a new daughter, and the mansion acquired a new mistress, when Jacques St. Martin led to the altar Mary Ann Navarre. The bride was a daughter of Robert Navarre, "the scrivener," and no other event in all the long history of the house exceeds in interest her coming to it. In her veins flowed the blood of the ancient kings of Navarre, and one of her relatives by collateral ascent had been the great Henry IV of France, the most popular monarch of all the Bourbon line. He anticipated by more than three centuries the conception which finds present-day expression in the League of Nations, and in a world racked with religious hatreds he conceived that spirit of toleration which we are still striving to achieve. Robert Navarre, the bride's father, had been sent by his government as subintendant and royal notary to Fort Pontchartrain of Detroit in 1730; here for over sixty years he continued a prominent citizen, and here today he is represented by scores of descendants. By the surrender of New France to Great Britain in 1760 he lost his former official status, but he succeeded in rendering his knowledge serviceable to the conquerors, and continued to exercise considerable influence under the new regime. He was an educated man, and to him has been ascribed the authorship of the anonymous manuscript journal of Pontiac's siege on which in large part our knowledge of that famous event depends.
Jacques St. Martin and his brother (who went by the name of La Butte), succeeded their father as interpreters to the Huron and both men figure prominently in the stirring drama of Pontiac's siege. Notwithstanding their French and Indian affiliations both men proved true as steel to Major Gladwin, the sadly-harassed British commander, and were among the few Frenchmen in whom he placed implicit trust. During the early weeks of the siege St. Martin continued to live in his house below the fort. But the savages employed it as a shelter from which to fire upon the garrison, and the English in return trained their cannon and small arms upon it. In short; St. Martin's rôle of neutral was rapidly becoming untenable, and when in early July he learned from a friendly Huron that the savages
|37||MANSION OF ST. MARTIN.||37|
were about to compel the French to take up arms against the English, with his "mother-in-law, his wife, and all his dependents" he sought refuge inside the fort. His fidelity was attested by Major Gladwin, who entertained a justifiable distrust of the French settlers in general. Half of them, he wrote in one of his letters, merited the gibbet, while the remaining half "ought to be Decimated." But from this sweeping condemnation he expressly excepted St. Martin and two or three others, characterizing them as "Honest Men."
After the siege was over St. Martin returned with his wife to the family homestead, but his period of wedded bliss was terminated untimely when on a day in June, 1768, he, too, was gathered to his fathers. To his wife, Mary Ann, daughter of Navarre, "the scrivener," was left the family estate. The lot of a widow is seldom free from care, and there can be no room for doubt that in the rude circumstances of the time the household of St. Martin had urgent need of a masculine head and protector. Living in the fort at this time, and about the same age as Mrs. St. Martin, was Detroit's only surgeon, George Christian Anthon. A native of Germany, he early studied medicine, and in 1754, at the age of twenty years, repaired to Amsterdam and there engaged as a surgeon in the Dutch West India trade. On his second voyage, outward bound to Surinam, the vessel to which he was attached was captured by an English privateer, carried to New York, and there condemned. Being thus cast adrift in the New World, the youthful surgeon soon found his way into the British army and was a member of Major Rogers' expedition which occupied Detroit in 1760. Here he continued to reside, with but one or two comparatively brief absences, until 1786, when he removed with his family to New York. On one occasion, during Pontiac's siege, he climbed into a pear tree to gain a better view of the enemy, and the latter, discovering him, opened so hot a rifle fire upon the tree that Major Gladwin was compelled to create a diversion by ordering a sortie, under whose cover the surgeon withdrew from his perilous post.
In August, 1770 Dr. Anthon became the husband of Jacques St. Martin's widow. Presumably at this time he
|38||BURTON HISTORICAL COLLECTION LEAFLET.||38|
took up his residence at the homestead of his bride, for it is certain that he was its occupant during many succeeding years. Mrs. Anthon died in 1773. leaving to her husband the care of her three children born of her marriage with St. Martin. Of these we need take note of only the youngest daughter, Mary Archange, who had been born in the old house in the spring of 1766. Through the death in 1768 of her father, and the subsequent marriage of her mother to Dr. Anthon, she was reared to womanhood under the guiding care of the latter. In 1788 she attached to the house of St. Martin yet another interesting historical association by becoming the bride of Angus McIntosh, scion of a famous Scottish line. His father, of Moy House near Inverness, had been the head of the McIntosh clan, and a champion of the fallen fortunes of the royal house of Stuart. So warm, in fact, was the devotion of the mistress of Moy House to the Stuart line that on one occasion when Bonnie Prince Charlie was in Scotland heading the last desperate invasion of England she took the field at the head of 300 fighting clansmen, and she it was who caused the "rout of Moy."1 Despite such fierce loyalty, however, the madcap enterprise of Prince Charlie ended in bloody failure; the head of Clan McIntosh lost his estate, and as a subsidiary consequence of the developments we are sketching, Angus McIntosh, his young son, departed into voluntary exile. Coming to the New World, he found his way to Detroit, where in time he became a prominent trader, and the local representative of the great Hudson's Bay Company. In consenting to become his bride, therefore, Mary St. Martin was uniting her fortune with that of a man of consequence.
When, in 1796, the Americans took possession of Detroit, McIntosh removed to the south side of the river, where he built a large residence just above the site of modern Windsor, which he named Moy House, after his ancestral home. Nearby were storehouses and a wharf, where the sailing vessels employed in the trade of the Great Company loaded or discharged their cargoes. The
(1) The story may be read in Sir Walter Scott's Tales of a Grandfather.
|39||MANSION OF ST. MARTIN.||39|
Hudson's Bay factor was a man of might in the old days, and the master and mistress of Moy House entertained with lavish hospitality, and in keeping with the custom of the time raised a numerous progeny. At Moy House Mary Archange McIntosh lived out her life within sight of her ancestral birthplace across the river, and in 1827 was buried in Assumption Churchyard at Sandwich, where her grass-covered tombstone may still be seen. A few years after her death, Angus McIntosh, now an old man, returned to his native land to enter into belated possession of his ancestral birthright.
The thread of our narrative again leads back to Dr. Anthon. Besides her own children his dying wife had bequeathed to him the care of an orphaned niece, Genevieve Jadot. On the maternal side she sprang from the line of St. Martin, her mother having been a sister of Jacques St. Martin. On the paternal side she was connected with some of the greatest families of Canada; her first Canadian ancestor had come to Quebec in 1617 and there played a role second in importance only to that of Champlain in the early history of New France. To him many persons whose names are illustrious in the annals of Canada trace their ancestry; over none of them does the student linger with more interest than he does over that of the orphan, Genevieve, who was destined in her turn to become the progenitor of a notable family line. She had been born near Sandwich on the eve of Pontiac's uprising, and baptized in the old church of the Huron which stood on the site of the later church of the Assumption. With grim persistence Death had claimed in turn all of her natural protectors, mother, father, uncle, and aunt, leaving her at the age of ten years to the guardianship of Surgeon Anthon.
Romance and tragedy in this changeful world go often hand in hand. Ere long Genevieve Jadot blossomed into radiant womanhood and the guardian began to view his ward in the light of a prospective wife. In 1778, when the bride was barely fifteen years old, the two were wed, and the family tradition still survives that her husband had some difficulty in persuading her to give over playing with her dolls. Yet the union seems to have been a happy one, despite the disparity in age between husband and wife. To
|40||BURTON HISTORICAL COLLECTION LEAFLET.||40|
the couple were born many children, at least three of whom attained stations of eminence in their several professions of the law, the pulpit, and the school. John Anthon, born at Detroit in 1784, became one of the foremost jurists of the New York bar. To his efforts the establishment of the Supreme Court of New York City was largely due. Henry Anthon was celebrated as a preacher, being for twenty-five years rector of St. Marks-in-the-Bouerie. Still more notable was the career of Charles Anthon, the classical scholar. He was for forty years a member of the faculty of Columbia, and his scholarship brought him fame in Europe as well as in America. A picture of this remarkable family while domiciled in the old mansion of St. Martin has been etched by judge Campbell in the following lines:
Behind the dormer windows That open on the strait, First cradled were the Anthons, Renowned in Church and State, The good and wise physician, Of all the red men known, Had lore of the German forest, Of star and mine and stone; And the slender, dark-eyed mother, That held them on her knees, Sang songs of the Spanish border-- The land of the Pyrenees. Who knows what golden threads of thought Before the infant memory brought, In manly eloquence were wrought Behind those waving trees?
Genevieve Anthon, the "slender dark-eyed mother," must have been, from all accounts, a charming and spirited woman. She was a brunette, with bright black eyes and raven locks that were never tinged with grey although she lived until almost her sixtieth year. In 1798 when New York was swept by an epidemic of yellow fever and all who could fled the city to escape the plague's dread rav-
|41||MANSION OF ST. MARTIN.||41|
ages, not only did Dr. Anthon remain at his post, but Mrs. Anthon, whose infant ears had listened to the triumphant whoop of Pontiac's warriors, bravely faced this even ghastlier foe, and throughout the plague toiled by her husband's side, carrying supplies of food and other comforts to the stricken.
The next chapter in the history of the ancient St. Martin homestead brings to view yet another family distinguished in the annals of America. About the year 1755 John Gordon Macomb migrated with his family from Ireland to Albany, New York, and a dozen years or so afterward to Detroit. The newcomers engaged in merchandising and the Indian trade, and achieved a large measure of prosperity. Two sons of the original immigrant, who were actively engaged in the business of the firm about the period of the Revolution, were Alexander and William Macomb. In 1776 they secured a deed of Grosse Isle from the Potawatomi Indians, and in 1781 they bought the old St. Martin farm from the niece of Jacques St. Martin. Several years before this purchase (May, 1773) Alexander Macomb had married Catherine Navarre, a younger sister of Mary Ann, the bride successively of Jacques St. Martin and Dr. Anthon. Possibly this marriage alliance will serve to explain the fact, as reported by the Macomb family historian, that in April, 1782 was born in the old St. Martin house (now the home of Dr. Anthon and his wife, Genevieve) a son to Catherine and Alexander Macomb, to whom also the name Alexander was given. A few years later the family removed to New York City. The residence they there acquired was one of the finest in the city, and in 1790 it was rented by the government to serve as the official residence of President Washington. Macomb speculated in real estate on an enormous scale, a single purchase in 1791 comprising over 6600 square miles, represented today by several New York counties. The boy Alexander, born at Detroit in 1782, entered the U. S. army in 1798, and when he died in 1841 he had been for half a dozen years its commander. Perhaps his most notable exploit was the victory of Plattsburg in 1814, when with about 2000 soldiers he defeated a force of English veterans of the Napoleonic wars seven times as large as his own.
|42||BURTON HISTORICAL COLLECTION LEAFLET.||42|
Precisely when Alexander Macomb disposed of his interest in the St. Martin farm I have been unable to learn. Quite possibly he did so on leaving Detroit for New York, for William Macomb, according to sworn testimony before the U. S. land commissioners, was in possession of the place for many years prior to 1796. This was the year of American occupation of Detroit, from which the validity of all claims to land by right of occupation was reckoned. William Macomb died this same year, having willed the St. Martin homestead (together with certain tracts adjoining) to his three sons, to whom the title was granted by the American government in 1807. At this time James May testified that since 1796 the place had been continuously tenanted by the executors of William Macomb. May himself, in August, 1804 had leased it for a period of ten years at an annual rental of $500. May was a prominent citizen of Detroit in his time, a man of multiform interests and activities. He moved about so frequently that of his twenty-two children only two, according to one of the sons, were born in the same house. What disposition he made of the Macomb place, or how long he occupied it, seems impossible now to determine. Long before his lease expired the country was beset by the perplexities which attended the War of 1812.
Again, as in Pontiac's war and the Revolution, the old St. Martin mansion reechoed the measured tread of marching armies, while once more throngs of yelping savages--fierce Sioux from the plains of Minnesota and Iowa, proud Foxes whose ancestors had besieged Detroit a century before, crafty Winnebago from the forests of Wisconsin, and Chippewa and Ottawa from the shores of Lake Superior--passed before its doors, or pitched their tepees under the trees which shaded the river bank. It was the expected advent of this horde of "northern savages," flushed with triumph over their easy victory at Mackinac, which blanched the cheek of General Hull and drove him to the most ignominious surrender in all our military annals. Most dramatic occasion of all, the dwellers in the old house on the morning of August 15, 1812, might have beheld from its windows the crossing of Brock's army in open boats from Sandwich to Springwells, and its silent,
|43||MANSION OF ST. MARTIN.||43|
steady advance in dense column formation along the river road to the fort. Not far from the house of St. Martin the Americans had posted two twenty-four pound cannon to rake the river road; the gunners stood with lighted matches, awaiting only the word of command to sweep the advancing column, pinned between the river and the row of houses facing it, with a hurricane of destruction. But America wanted a leader on that fatal day; the command was never uttered, and in consequence Detroit underwent the long nightmare of alien military rule and subjection to savage spoliation.
One of the men who labored most effectively to terminate it was Colonel Lewis Cass of Ohio. His able efforts were rewarded by his appointment as governor of Michigan and for eighteen years he labored, like a Roman proconsul of old, to promote the welfare of his people and magnify the authority of the United States in this region. An existing regulation required the governor of Michigan to be the owner of a certain amount of real estate, and to comply with this requirement Cass in 1816 purchased the Macomb farm, embracing, as we have seen, the old grant made by the French government to Jean Baudry, dit St. Martin, in April, 1750. The ancient mansion now entered upon perhaps the most interesting period of its long career, for as the residence of Governor Cass it became the White House of the Northwest. To its hospitable shelter came a steady stream of travelers en business or curiosity bent, ranging from James Monroe, the first president of the United States who ever set foot in Detroit, to the tawny savage of the distant wilderness. Of President Monroe's visit in August, 1817 the contemporary Detroit Gazette reports that a "large number of carriages and of citizens on horseback and on foot" went out along the river road nine miles to the Ecorse to escort the President's party into town. In the returning procession were the President attended by Governor Cass, General Brown, commander of the U. S. Army, attended by General Macomb, and numerous other military and civil dignitaries. Thus the President was escorted to the ancient house of St.
|44||BURTON HISTORICAL COLLECTION LEAFLET.||44|
Martin, alike the home of Cass and the birthplace of Macomb. Next day the President and the commander of the army reviewed the troops, and on this occasion Governor Cass formally presented General Macomb with a beautiful sword which had been voted him by the state of New York in recognition of his brilliant victory at Plattsburg in 1814. The sword is still preserved, being the property of a granddaughter of the General, who resides in Philadelphia.
With the decade of the thirties there began for the St. Martin mansion an era of decline into an obscurity which contrasted strangely with the period of its ancient glory. For one thing, Governor Cass was called to Washington in 1831 to take a position in President Jackson's cabinet. His absence was extended for almost a dozen years, and when he finally returned to Detroit he established his home in a new residence. For with the growth of the city that marked the decade of the thirties the old house had fallen upon evil days. A group of associates had purchased from Cass the portion of his farm lying between Larned Street and the river, and undertaken an extensive scheme of development. This involved grading down the elevation on which the house stood, and filling in some low land which was covered by the river. The panic of 1837 brought disaster to the promoters, but so far as our present story is concerned they had done their work. The house built by St. Martin, if not indeed, by La Mothe Cadillac, was cut in two and the parts were removed to the north side of Larned Street, between First and Second, where they were joined together for yet another half century of life. Over this later period we prefer to draw the veil of silence. A writer in 1882 describes the ancient mansion as "much out of repair and, although occupied by tenants, is almost literally in ruins." Soon after this it was torn down. Better had it been if it had been destroyed at the time of its removal, for until then the remarkable procession of interesting characters associated with its history continued unbroken, and even the associates who wrought its downfall were among the foremost business men of the city. The
|45||MANSION OF ST. MARTIN.||45|
tuneful lines of judge Campbell supply our story with a fitting conclusion:
The spreading town has shouldered The useless fort away, The grasping hands of Commerce Are closing on the bay, The garden and the orchard No ripened fruit retain, And idlers cross the wheat-fields And trample on the grain. Alas for the brave old mansion Alas for its ancient fame! Old things make room for the present As ashes follow the flame. But all of the massy timbers Are sound and stiff and strong, And in their seasoned fiber lies A store of precious memories, That, wakened by the sounding bow, May murmur music sweet and low, Or quiver into song.
The Home of Governor Cass in 1826. (From Thomas L. McKenney's Tour to the Lakes.)
At two, I dined with the Governor; and as you may be curious to know what kind of a mansion he occupies, I will give you a sketch of it. It is not exactly in, nor entirely out of the city--I mean its settled parts; but stands by itself on the bank of the river, with the road-wail from the city towards Spring Wells, between it and the precipice, or edge of the bank, down which a diagonal and rough way has been cut to the river. The house is of cedar logs, and weather boarded, one story, with a high sharp roof, out of which, and near the centre, comes a short stone chimney of enormous thickness, and on which the roof leans, being
|46||BURTON HISTORICAL COLLECTION LEAFLET.||46|
a little sunk round about it. Before the front door, which is nearly in the centre of the building, the building being some fifty feet front, is a porch that, being a little out of its perpendicular position, inclines north. Its figure is as nearly that of a square as of any other figure, with a sharp Chinese looking top, that shoots up some three feet above the eaves of the house, and seems to have in no one place the least connextion with the building. I told the Governor that my puzzle was to decide which was built first, the porch or the house. He acknowledged his inability to decide the question, but added, "the house itself is anterior to the time of Pontiac's war, there being on it now the marks of bullets which were shot into it then." I learned afterwards that the porch had once ornamented the garden as a summer house; but had been advanced from its retirement to grace the front of the residence of the executive of the Michigan territory. A post and board fence runs between the house and the road, the house standing back from the line of it, some ten or twelve feet. Two gate ways open into the enclosure, one having been intended to admit, and the other to let you out, over a circular gravel walk that gives figure to a green plat in front of the door, and between it and the fence. One of these has been shut tip, but how long I don't know--So we go in and come out at the same gate.
The position occupied by this relic of antiquity, is very beautiful; riot on account of the views to it, and from it, only, although these are both fine, but it is sustained on either side and in the back ground, by fertile 1-mland meadows. and flourishing orchards and gardens, which give it a most inviting appearance; and serves to impress one with the idea of old age surrounded by health and cheerfulness. In front are the shores of Canada, with the beautiful river between, and to the right the Huron church, &c., the sound of the bell from which strikes gratefully upon the ear. Now for the inside of the building.
You enter first into a room, or saloon, of some ten feet square, in which the Governor receives his business visitors; and where lie scattered about in some tolerable confusion, newspapers and the remains of pamphlets of all
|47||MANSION OF ST. MARTIN.||47|
sort, whilst its sides are ornamented with Indian likenesses, and pipes, and snow shoes, and medals, and bows and arrows, &c. On your left is the door which leads into the dining apartment, back of which is another room, (in which is a fire place,) of about the same size, divided from it by folding doors. This dining room is warmed in winter by one half of a stove, whilst the other half, passing through the partition into the saloon, keeps that comfortable.
From the right of the audience room, or saloon, you enter the drawing room; and in place of the back room, in the left division, two rooms are arranged, one of which serves for the library, and the other for a lodging room. These rooms being all well carpeted and curtained, and furnished in excellent, but plain style, present a view of comfort which forms a striking contrast to the exterior; and you are made to forget, in the midst of these interior accommodations, the odd-shapen and ancient appearance from without. There is much of the simplicity of republicanism in all this. Extrinsic appearances are to a reasonable extent disregarded; and the higher value is attached to the interior; and this is not an unfit emblem of the Governor himself. You are not to imagine, however, that this is intended to apply to his person; that is portly, and altogether governor-like, and in regard to which he is neat in his dress, and though plain, polished in his manners.
Some Reminiscences of Elizabeth Cass Goddard. (From Ms. in Burton Collection.)
Housekeeping in those days was not the comfortable arrangement of modern times. As General Cass was Governor of the Northwest Territory, his house naturally was the centre of hospitality and in his official position, he was obliged to entertain all distinguished guests. At best the half-breed servant was not very competent, and the burden of work of all kinds fell upon Mrs. Cass. The catering was no easy task; putting down the pork in brine, smoking the hams,
|48||BURTON HISTORICAL COLLECTION LEAFLET.||48|
supplying the larder with pies, plum cake and preserves, dried apples--all of which was the personal labor of my Grandmother and demanded constant watchfulness. Add to these cares, clothing and educating five children; and still always ready to act the part of a gracious, lovable hostess. One wonders how, as my mother has often told me, "she always found time to read for two hours every day." My mother often described in a thrilling manner the visit of the Indian tribes when they came to the Governor's home for their payments. There are not may now living who can recall the beauty of the Detroit River before it was shorn of its grandeur and narrowed in its width by the encroachments of the railroads. The sloping banks with the quaint, low, steep-roofed houses and a carriage road in front of them gave an uninterrupted view of a mile of clear, sapphire blue water, between the American and Canadian shores.
As the day drew near for the visit of the Indians, the children were alert and watchful. If the coming was timed by the full of the moon, as was often the case, the anticipation was all the keener. Quietly the surface of the river would seem to be covered with a dark cloud which gradually grew blacker and blacker as it approached the Governor's house. Like somber sullen ghosts these shapes silently glided down the river until, at a given moment, with one loud whoop, each canoe became a living centre of action and the cry taken up from boat to boat announced the arrival of the Indians and their welcome to the representative of the Great White Father. It was a weird scene and one that must have left an indelible impression upon whoever witnessed it.
|Marshall Davies Lloyd|