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Farming and Fishing



Vesty - p. 93
Threshing machines - p. 122
Getty hay over the ice - p. 128
Sheep - p. 129


The first occupation followed along these shores was fishing. The first Frenchmen in this country introduced the French modes of fishing, by which fish were pursued to the deep waters, & thus a supply was obtained all the year.
About the year 1843 fishing stations began to be established at other points, & in time the whole shore country was peopled to a greater or lesser extent with fishermen, & with them, as a natural accompaniment, came traders.
The early fishermen, as a class, were a reckless & lawless set of men. They were far removed from the influence of civilization and the restraints of law. At a later date they were succeeded by a more industrious class, composed of men of better habits, who came there for permanent residence. It is only until quite recently that the business of fishing was constituted a real industry, & has been more a benefit than damage to the region in which it was carried on.
(- this is obviously taken from Strang in An. & Mod. Mack., p. 23-25)

(Summer 1848) "Before leaving Detroit I must not neglect to mention that it was here I first became acquainted with that delicious fish known as the whitefish. ...among epicures it is so greatly esteemed, ranking higher than the lake salmon which is quite equal in flavor to that of the severn.
The whitefish is peculiar to the waters of this high latitude. Its flesh is of the purest white, & it is of remarkable richness & delicacy of flavor. It is also a very prolific fish, & gives the chief value to the fisheries of the northern lakes, which are among the most important in the country... It is the opinion of scientific men, as well as of the lake fishermen, & this is a subject of real congratulation, that no system of fishing now in place, or likely to be adopted, will ever have the effect of exhausting, or of materially diminishing, the whitefish in these waters."
- John Lewis Payton, Over the Alleghenies & Across the Prairies (1870), p. 165-66
"Lake fish form a staple article of provision in all the lake ports. The principle kinds are whitefish & Mackinac trout. The latter, a delicious fish, resembles the salmon-trout, & are probably the same. They vary in size from 5 lbs. or under to 50 or 60 lbs. weight. Besides these there are pike, pickerel, & different kinds of bass... In Lakes Huron and Michigan and the Straits of Mackinac, trout, whitefish, and other kinds are caught in abundance. The Thunder Bay Islands in Lake Huron, the Beaver, Fox, & Manitou Islands, near the foot of Lake Michigan, & Twin Rivers on the western shore are the principle fisheries of those two lakes. They are also caught in the vicinity of Mackinaw, in abundance; and about the small island in the Straits, & at Point St. Ignace."
- Cleveland Herald article, in J. S. Buckingham, The E. & W. States of
America, Vol. III, p. 439-40
(Trip, 1837-38) "The chief produce is from the lakes; trout & whitefish are caught in large quantities, salted down, & sent to the west & south. At Mackinaw alone they cure about 2,000 barrels, which sell for $10 the barrel; at the Sault about the same quantity; & on Lake Superior at the station of the American Fur Company they have commenced fishing, to lessen the expense of the establishment, & they now salt down about 4,000 barrels. But this traffic is still in its infancy, & will become more profitable as the west becomes more populous."
- Capt. Frederick Marryat, Diary in America, p. 126
In many cases an immigrant's location was determined by the occupational skill he brought with him.
- Maldwyn A. Jones, Am. Imm., p. 119
(Fishing - B.I.)
With the decline of the fur trade the fishing business became prominent, & the voyageurs, Indians, & their boats & outfits were utilized for that purpose. ...As early as 1824 whitefish & trout, in small quantities, salted & packed in barrels, were caught & sent to the Buffalo market. All the fishing grounds for 150 miles or more sent their catch to Mackinac Island, where the fish were assorted, resalted, & repacked in barrels ready for shipment. From 1854 to 1860 the trade in salted fish increased to over 250,000 packages, valued at over 1 million dollars. Whitefish were frequently taken in gill nets that weighed from 20-25 lbs., & lake trout were taken that weighed 85 lbs..
The pound or trap nets introduced about 1865, later the long gangs of gill nets, set about the shoals & reefs in the lakes, fished by men on steam tugs in which the fish are taken on the shores & shoals while spawning, have nearly ruined the business.
- John R. Bailey, MD, Mackinac (Mil. Library), p. 199-2001
Names of firms & families familiar before & since the [18]40s:
Jonathan N. Bailey (postmaster, 1825-29 - later 1st postmaster of Chicago)

Jonathan P. King Peter White
Rev. A. D. Piret Samuel K. Haring
Edward Guilbault Bela Chapman
L. Y. B. Birchard Edward A. Franks
P. C. Kevan Michael Early
Wm. M. Johnson Hubert & Kirtland
J. H. Cook Leopold & Austrian
McLeods Bromilow & Bates
Wm. Madison John G. Read
J. S. Saltsonstall Hoban Brothers
John Becker Henry Van Allen
Arian R. Root C. B. Fenton
Wendells Todds
Toll & Rice Chambers
Lasleys McNally & Donnelly families
Charles M. O'Malley Douds & MacIntyres
Jones & Drew families Gravereat
Biddle & Drew Desbro
Chapman & Gray Gaskill
William Scott Truscott
Edward Kanter Bennett & Davis families
Gallagher Couchois
Metevier Lyon
La Chance & Louisignaw families Tanner
Granger & Hamblins Bailey families
George T. Arnold F. B. Stockbridge
John W. Davis & Son Dominick Murray & family
John R. Bailey & Son H. W. Overall
W. P. Preston Wm. Sullivan
Shomin Lapeen Allor
McGulpin Martineau
Rainville Taylor
Burdette & Chemier Brogans & Foleys
James F. Cable Mulcrones & Holdens
Murray Brothers McCartys
- Ibid., p. 200-01
"I fished on the Catherine B. for Dennis & Hughie Boyle (sons of Dan?), the Alva & C&C for Cull & Connaghan, the Liberty for Harold McCann, the Shamrock for Shing, the A&M Link for Left, & the Panther for the Danes at Garden, that was Matt Jensen & Peter Neilson. I left school through the eighth grade & started to fish. I was very proud to be hired by Shing, for at that time he was outranked only by the Margaret McCann for tonnage. I thought I could learn the grounds & someday be a successful fisherman & be able to say like the Portugese that I followed the profession of St. Peter."
- Eddie O'Donnell to Clink, Oct. 6, 1973

This is from an interview with Big Dick Martin in the Milwaukee J[ournal], Jan. 10, 1932:
"Nearly 100 men, or most of the male working population, are engaged in the fishing business. There are 8 tugs (boats) operated out of St. James during the season, which extends from April to December. When the fishing is real good the tugs bring in about 15 tons a day, but this last summer it averaged only about 400 to 500 pounds a day to a lift, or 3 tons a day for all of the crews. We put out gangs of 200 to 6,000 feet of net, sinking it so that it rests on the bottom, generally out along the steamboat channel, & we never know if we will pull up only a few pounds or if we will be back with the Silver Moon full. Dick tells us that his father Ralph, better known as Briney (!!!) has been in the fishing business for 50 years. Despite the density of a fog, Briney always travels unerringly to the spar that marks the end of a gang of nets, this son says. With the price of Irish linen, of which the nets are woven, at $5 a pound, and constantly rising, the future of the fishing trade on the Beavers is somewhat dubious, according to Dick."
This man obviously had a very poor ear for the Island speech - Briney for Barney. He also tried to remember, not taking notes - hence Barney being Ralph instead of Big Dick. [-HC]
Strang on fishermen -
As early as 1824 small quantities of whitefish & trout began to be sent to Buffalo for market. In the space of 30 years the trade has increased from 2,000 barrels to 250,000 barrels, of which it is supposed 1/2 were taken from the Mackinac fisheries, extending from Death's Door (at mouth of Green Bay) to Middle Channel. They were taken to Mackinac where they were repacked & sent to market. The merchants there furnished the fishermen & bought the fish.

The fishermen, until within a few years (1854) were all Indians & Frenchmen, continually in debt to the traders.
Gradually a few Americans & Irish went to the fisheries. Some of these took with them small stocks for trade. This taking intoxicating liquors among the Indians made their use more common & fatal. These men were bred to civilization, who had gone among savages to get beyond the restraints of the law. They were the worst class of men, stealing the catch of the Indians in the night & selling it as their own... They sold to Mackinac traders.
Since 1843 merchants & traders have established themselves at other stations than Mackinac, more convenient to the fisheries. These interlopers carried on a trade ruinous to the Mackinac traders. They made the fishermen no advances, purchased the fish put up in their barrels, & salted & caught by men provisioned & purchased by them. Such were the habits of dissipation on the fishing grounds the fishermen were worse off at the end of the season than at the beginning, & destitute of credit, they could not return to Mackinac. This threw them more into the hands of the felons & outlaws, several wealthy traders at Mackinac were ruined, & the fishing trade is passing to other places, situated more conveniently to the fisheries.
The new class of fishermen are persons of limited means, temperate habits, good morals, & persevering industry from the best sections of the northern states & Canada, who have come to the country to make a permanent home. They farm, or establish mechanic shops when not fishing, & conduct their business as in the best-regulated civilized societies.

Traders cannot make as much profit off this class of customers. By this means, more than 1/2 the trade of Mackinac had been transferred to Washington Harbor, St. James, St. John, St. Helena, Duncan, Detour, & other places. The trade of Mackinac in fish must soon cease.
- from (not word for word) Strang, An. & Mod. Mackinac (1854), p. 23-25
(He always referred to the settlement at Pine River as outlaws {see his
description of it}.)
Some who came to the country in those early days to fish, remained as permanent citizens; but generally the fisherman was a transient person, establishing himself anywhere on the shore where there was promise of success in his pursuit, & readily changing his location as immediate interest seemed to dictate.
Associated with the fishermen, wherever they were numerous, were always a number of coopers, who found employment in making barrels for the fish. Sometimes the cooper's shop was in the immediate vicinity of the fish shanties; sometimes, for the convenience of obtaining material, it was located at a distance. The material for barrels was derived from timber growing on the public lands, which were looked upon as lawful plunder.

Small trading establishments, like that of Capt. Kirtland under the management of Mr. Richard Cooper at Little Traverse, sprang up at various points, drawing their customers from both the fishermen & Indians. A few small vessels, or "hookers," found a lucrative business in trading from place to place, selling supplies & purchasing fish. Not infrequently, whiskey was a principal article of trade. It is remembered to the credit of Capt. Kirtland that he never sold whiskey to the Indians or took advantage of them in business transactions.
- His. of the G. Traverse Region, p. 81
The first French introduced the French modes of fishing, by which fish were pursued to deep waters.
As early as 1824 small quantities of whitefish & trout began to be sent to Buffalo for market. The Mackinac fisheries extended from Death's Door to Middle Channel, and most of the fish at that early date were taken to Mackinac, where they were repacked & sent to market.

About 1843 fishing stations began to be established at other points, and in time the whole shore country was peopled to a greater or lesser extent with fishermen, and with them, as a natural accompaniment, came the traders.
- Grand Traverse Region (1884)
Lawrence -

The fishing was good all around the south end of B.I., particularly the fall fishing. Both he & Roland speak of how they fished the waters out with pond nets. For a few years there would be no fish, then they would come back.
Bernard J. Lambert, in Shepherd of the Wilderness, says that the Astor Co. went into the fishing business as the fur trade lessened.
Fisheries -
Records start with 1880. Some years are skipped in Lakes Region. These are the years recorded in millions of pounds:
1880 - 65 1917 - 96
1885 - 100 1918 - 107
1889 - 117 1919 - 92
1890 - 114 1920 - 77
1893 - 97 1921 - 83
1899 - 114 1922 - 79
1903 - 86 1923 - 79
1908 - 107 1924 - 78
1913 - 68 1925 - 69
1914 - 99 1926 - 75
1915 - 109 1927 - 81
1916 - 88 1928 - 63
1929 - 85
1930 - 95

[After 1930] consistently below 100; highest 96 in 1934, lowest 70 in 1947.
Col. Fisk of Rochester, N.Y. had commenced a fishing establishment on a large scale, and, with his associates, had invested $10,000 in improvements & outfit at the harbor at B.I.. This was the Rochester Northwest Co., & was on "the back side of the harbor." He made the first organization of Peaine Township in 1847 & they monopolized all the offices.
[- no citation given for this entry]
1 John R. Bailey, Mackinac, Formerly Michilimackinac. Lansing, MI: D. D. Thorp, 1895.