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longer on Lake Superior. La Ronde, however, was urgent, and by dint of persuasion and offers of pecuniary increase, obtained the consent of the Forsters to return along the southern shore of the lake, and to inspect the sites he had already explored. They accompanied him to La Pointe, and thence under the guidance of the younger La Ronde visited the copper exposed on Ontonagon River and found evidences of four mines which they pronounced very promising, eastward from La Pointe. One of these was on the Ontonagon, one at the mouth of Black River, and two on the cliffs that faced one another at the mouth of Ste. Anne River-probably the one we now know as Iron River. Of one of these mines they wrote: "One could never see a mine, apparently finer, and it is certain that if one wished to start in the business and invest money there, a great return of copper might be hoped for."
La Ronde was jubilant; he saw in perspective all his plans justified, he himself on the road to wealth and hailed as a benefactor of the entire colony. He determined to conduct the Forsters in person to Quebec, receive the governor's congratulations, and then to arrange for working the mines. At the Sault he engaged twelve voyageurs to begin an establishment on the Ste. Anne River, there to build a fort, a forge, and a smelting furnace. He planned to transport his ore by the Toronto portage, and to have for that purpose a vessel of eighty tons built on Lake Huron; he also expected to transport cattle and horses to Lake Superior from Detroit, and to begin an agricultural settlement at the mines. Most of these well-laid plans were never carried out; so far as we know the vessel for Lake Huron was never built, nor were cattle transported from Detroit, nor was a permanent settlement made. He did, however, begin mining operations and take out considerable ore, and La Ronde may well be known, not only as the first
The Forsters' report is in Wis. Hist. Colls., xvii, 262-263, 314-315.
practical miner on Lake Superior, but as the first to open that region to civilization. He had at La Pointe a fort with a garrison, horses, and probably a mill, also a dock, and some beginnings of agriculture-all this was in all probability on the present Madeline Island, then called St. Michel. It was during this period also that the name "Apostle Islands" was first given to the group at the mouth of Chequamegon Bay.5
In the colony La Ronde's return with the mining experts, and their favorable report, was received with enthusiasm; hopes of great profits spread throughout Canada, and the governor recommended to the ministry in France that La Ronde be given the command at Chequamegon for three more years, and a monopoly of its fur trade in order to enable him to continue his mining ventures. Enough was realized from the ore already transported, to pay the expenses of the Forsters and to reimburse the royal treasury for its advances. All promised well for a rapid growth. But the blight which fell upon so many promising ventures in the West swept away the beginnings of Lake Superior mining—that is, trouble with the natives, due to the impossibility of keeping at peace tribes whose greatest glory and honor depended upon war.
The Sioux-Chippewa War was a struggle lasting for over a century, and while at times subdued by the ability of French officers like Duluth, Le Sueur, and La Ronde, it smouldered under the surface at all times, and in 1739 broke out with renewed virulence. By the summer of 1740 the Chippewa bands from the Sault, from La Pointe, and at many of the intervening points were on the warpath, and Lake Superior became dangerous for any white voyagers. In vain the younger La Ronde at his fort at La Pointe tried to halt the hostilities. His influence was not potent enough to allay the wrath of the tribesmen against heredi
'The name "Isle St. Michel" appears on a map of 1688. See Kellogg, Early Narratives, 342. It persisted as late as 1826. The name "Apostle Islands" is found on early eighteenth century maps.
tary enemies, and to brush aside their determination to drive the Sioux from the lakes and streams of northern Wisconsin. It was about this time that the places in the interior of Wisconsin where the Chippewa still dwell—at Lac du Flambeau and Lac Court Oreilles-were wrested from the Sioux."
Meanwhile, Sieur de la Ronde at Quebec was making every effort to continue his plans for developing his copper mines. He trusted to his great influence with the Lake Superior Chippewa to halt their warfare, and to establish tranquillity in the Northwest. Leaving the colony, he had arrived at Mackinac and was about to start for the Sault, when he was overtaken by a mortal illness and returned to Quebec only to die. His eldest son, Philippe, succeeded him in command at La Pointe, and his widow was granted for several years the lease of this profitable fur trade post, in reward for her husband's services to New France." If among these services were the discovery and operation of the copper mines of the far North, neither the colony nor the La Ronde family profited thereby. The fur trade was a more certain means of enrichment than copper, and again it was a question whether "mines of beaver skins" or those of metal were to make Canada prosper.
Thenceforward until the close of French sovereignty in North America there were no more attempts to profit by La Ronde's beginnings, nor to utilize the copper deposits as a source of gain. When, however, the British took possession of the western posts, they heard from French officers and traders of the rich mines awaiting development adjacent to their new stations. In 1765 Sir William Johnson, superintendent of all the western Indians, reported that a certain Canadian (probably La Ronde) had taken considerable ore from the mines in Lake Superior. Three years later a
• Minnesota Historical Collections, v, 190-193.
"La Ronde's great-grandson was a pioneer in Wisconsin. In the early nineteenth century he lived at Portage, and married the daughter of a Winnebago chief. See Wis. Hist. Colls., vii, 345.
company was formed in which Johnson, although professing himself skeptical concerning the possibility of success, finally decided to take a part. Three British traders in Lake Superior-Alexander Henry, Henry Bostwick, and one Baxter-were the active partners, and even royalty deigned to invest in this promising enterprise. Prospects were made in several places, and in 1771 an establishment was formed on the Ontonagon River, and a number of miners wintered at this place. The following spring, at the first attempt to mine, a landslide from a cliff buried three of the miners. This so discouraged the proprietors that this region was abandoned and operations transferred to the northeast shore. There the workings were no more successful than on the Ontonagon, and before the American Revolution the enterprise was relinquished and the royal charter that had been prepared was never issued.
The enterprise of the French in attempting to mine the rich deposits on Lake Superior cannot but be commended. But the difficulties were too great to be overcome, notwithstanding the excellence of the plans and the persistence in carrying them out. The vast distances over which the ore had to be transported; the dangers of navigation on the rudest and stormiest of the Great Lakes; the severities of the climate, and the few months of the year that it was possible to conduct operations; the lack of a settled population from which to draw men and supplies; and finally, the unstable equilibrium of the natives, to whom a state of war was more desirable than peace-all were the causes of exigencies that even the wisest and most energetic of mining operators could not provide against nor successfully combat. The enterprise was foredoomed from the start, and while it contributes interest to the earliest history of the Northwest, it can only be regarded as an heroic failure, against odds too great for any one to have overcome. As a picturesque incident it deserves a place in our annals, and as a record of industrial beginnings it is worth being narrated.
THE HISTORY OF THE SILO IN WISCONSIN
N. S. FISH
Two years ago at the semi-centennial of the establishment of the Wisconsin Dairymen's Association, facts were brought out that had a marked influence on the development of dairying in Wisconsin. Little notice, however, was given to the silo, which has played an important rôle in the dairy industry. The fact that one-fifth of the entire silousing population of the United States is in Wisconsin testifies to the economic importance of the silo. In leaving or entering Wisconsin by train or auto one is impressed with the universality of the silo in this state as compared with neighboring states.
The silo has many advantages, but its greatest is the possibility through its means of utilizing all of the corn crop. There was a time when land was cheap and coarse feed abundant, and the loss of a portion of the corn crop was not serious. At the time of the advent of the silo in this state, land was increasing in value and feed was becoming highpriced. Under these conditions many of our farmers were unwilling to carry a herd of cows through the winter, finding it was not profitable to do so. Many would sell in the fall and buy again in the spring, thus being able to pasture the herd and throwing the wintering losses on others. The silo greatly reduced the cost of wintering cows and thereby introduced a fundamental improvement in the business of dairying.
The word "silo" comes from the Latin word sirus, or silus, meaning cellar. The history of the silo as a storage place dates back to the earliest times of which we have any record. The practice of burying grain in underground pits to save it for future use and to protect it from invading