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pinery was well known before 1742, and the mill and the timber are mentioned in a public report of the resources of the post in 1749.
Stone quarries were worked to some extent before 1749, and probably very much earlier at Monquagon and Stoney Island. In 1763 there were several lime kilns within the present limits of Detroit, and stone was used for the foundation walls of frame buildings. Stone buildings were rare. During the siege of Detroit one stone building, which must have been quite ancient, was demolished and the stone used for other purposes.
At Detroit was the only place where there were any land grants, (except a small settlement at the Sault Ste. Marie, in the latter days of the French Dominion) most of our information concerning the doings of the French aside from hunting and trading, are derived from that point. Agriculture was carried on profitably and considerable supplies were exported quite early from that settlement, consisting chiefly of corn and wheat, with a small amount of peas and beans. Very little meat was cured
ANCIENT FRENCH PEAR TREES Planted in Monroe, Michigan, by the earliest settlers on the River Raisin in 1786,
or earlier, bearing fruit, annually for sale owing to the scarcity and high cost of salt. Although cattle, horses and swine were raised in considerable numbers salt springs were known at or near Lake St. Clair and on the river Rouge and some salt was manufactured (by evaporation in a primitive fashion) at both places, but not such as would be suitable for packing meats. Farming, such as it was, seems to have been quite superficial and by no means thorough, the soil was rich and required little fertilizing, from which good crops were raised many years in succession without any special care. The fruit orchards were the pride of the early settlers; pears and apples were excellent and abundant. Peaches also were spoken of by some early writers as being fine in quality and very abundant. Cherries, currants and grapes also were cultivated in gardens.
This appears to be a good place to make a diversion from the main narrative and speak of the famous old pear trees of new France and the legend concerning them.
The full and interesting story of the old French pear trees cannot be written at this far away date, because in the beginning it was not considered important; like many historical narratives, the value of the records became interesting only as time rolled along, and the associations of events and personal connection with them developed into history. So, like most things old not fully understood, or little known, they have inspired researches and the building around them of little romances of charming piquancy.
Along these lines have occurred matters and things, which, while not authenticated, have probably ample foundation in fact, like the legend handed down concerning the old pear trees, curious, interesting and characteristic.
It runs in this-wise: It is told that the Jesuit fathers who were the first arrivals in this part of New France, in planting the orchards of apples and pears, along the rich and fruitful valleys, notably along the Rivière aux Raisins planted the trees in groups of twelve—typifying the twelve apostles of Jesus, and that in each case one tree of the dozen was set apart from the others so that the betrayer, Judas, might be remembered and singled out, forever, from the faithful; and as most men stamp and seal their works with the impress of their thoughts, is it not natural to suppose that these religious horticulturists, might have assigned to their orchards some spiritual significance? At all events, in support of the story, it is asserted that rows of twelve of the old pear trees originally existed on the old French farms, whose ranks, in time, became thinned and broken by storm and untoward circumstances so that the initial formations gradually became changed, and eventually obliterated.
The row of these ancient trees shown in the illustration when first familiar to the people of Monroe, contained at least ten where but five now remain; they stood upon the farm of Robert Navarre, long since merged into the growing city and now stand alone in their venerable dignity upon a city lot in the third ward, between the tracks of the Michigan Central Railway and those of Detroit and Toledo Shore Line (Grand Trunk). For this most interesting illustration, the author is indebted to Mr. George W. Bruckner, an old resident.
To continue the record of early French industries :— There were several wind mills and numerous mills operated by water power near Detroit, most of which were grist mills. The lack of proper roads made the streams serve as common highways and these mills were very accessible. One of the important industries was fishing, and the delicious white fish formed an important element in the provision market. Many of these were slightly salted and smoked for use in the season when they were difficult to get in the fresh state, and when the weather was too warm to handle them.
During the French and English war this country was the principal source of supplies for the French troops west of Lake Ontario, and probably furnished a fair quota of troops, also. During this period the upper posts were not much involved in these affairs; it was supposed that an attempt would be made to capture Detroit, and the commander was instructed to defend it to the last extremity. It was confidentially believed that this could be done successfully, so that when it was announced that the western posts were included in the capitulation of Montreal, Bellestre was naturally incredulous, and could, with difficulty be persuaded that such was the fact.
THE FRENCH IN THE PONTIAC WAR
Some criticism has been made of the alleged disloyalty of the French before and during the Pontiac war. As a matter of fact, very few of
them took any active part in that war or encouraged its barbarities. As soon as definite news of the treaty of peace was received they all, with few exceptions among men of no standing, acquiesced in the change of government. The French militia of Detroit, officered by Frenchmen who had commanded them before, were sent up to Mackinac and elsewhere, also doing duty at home in the English service, acting with complete fidelity. It would not have been very much to their credit or intelligence if they had been over-zealous before it was known that France would not be able to retain her old possessions; but the treaty was not officially known in Detroit until some months after the siege began. It was the recognition by the French of their new allegiance that disconcerted Pontiac and probably destroyed his plans.
Socially, the French inhabitants were an admirable people, they were the same in Detroit and Monroe, (then Frenchtown) where many families were of gentle blood, of wealth and much refinement. All, of both classes seemed to have possessed a spirit of courtesy and urbanity which greatly endeared them to the Indians, who always greatly preferred them to any others of the white race. Their hospitality was limited only by their means to offer it. They loved simple pleasures and social enjoyment, kept open house to all comers and were usually frugal and industrious enough to meet all demands upon them without any anxiety to pursue gain for its own sake. They were not, however, lacking in spirit or enterprise and the whole country was traversed by their agents and dotted with their trading houses. Their business ventures, even today, with our modern facilities and advantages, would be respectable, and were in some instances bold and extensive and their earnestness in business and enthusiasm in pushing it was equal to twentieth century methods.
There was no Protestant element before the British conquest of Canada, and the people were strongly' attached to their churches; the clergy were accomplished and influential. Several of the early missionaries and pastors were men of great learning and scholarly ambition. We of today, are indebted to them for much of our knowledge of the Indians and their languages, and for a large share of the historical records which have been preserved.
There is always a strong temptation to dwell upon the domestic ways of our forebears, and to enjoy the pleasant meinories of charming households and hospitable homes, of delightful summer and winter holidays and festivals, of bounteous gardens and orchards, of gay, shouting throngs upon the waters of river and bay, of wedding trains in pony carts or caleches, of cariole vans and ox carts; the pony races on the river, when the stream was held in the fetters of winter.
Brief reference has been made to the Coureur de Bois, the most sturdy type of French pioneer, and around his personality gathers so much of interest and historic import that the following chapter is devoted to him.
RANGERS BY LAND AND WATER
LA HONTAN's “COUREUR DE Bois”._DESCRIBED BY THE MISSIONARY
- THE VENDOR OF STRONG DRINK-REGULATION OF THE COUREUR -HE SPEAKS FOR HIMSELF-DID NATURE CALL HIM?-SIEUR DU LHUT-THE FRENCH VOYAGEUR—THE UNIQUE BATTEAU—THE BIRCH CANOE-THE “DUG OUT” AND PIROGUE-THE HUDSON BAY COMPANY-MONROE COUNTY AS A GAME REGION-CHARLEVOIX'S DESCRIPTION-HENNEPIN'S RECORD
The most picturesque figure in the history of the settlement of the great northwest, and of which, perhaps the least is known and understood to-day, is the coureur de bois (rover of the wood'') he, who, at first glance has the appearance of a rollicking, dare-devil creature, whose character conceals no psychological enigmas whatever. It was simply the free life of the woods proving too much for the young men, who frequently deserted civilization for the savage delights of the wilderness; if they had the stamina to hold to the pursuit of trapper and hunter, to preserve some of the semblances of “civilization treading on the heels of nature,” the character is not an ignoble one, but the usual picture delineates a "vagabond of the wilderness" and nothing
There is much documentary evidence in support of this view.
LA HONTAN'S “COUREUR DE Bois”
La Hontan was no friend of the Jesuits, but both had the same story to tell about the Coureur de Bois. The Baron (Hontan) says he was once in Montreal when fifty or seventy-five rovers returned from the northern wilderness to civilization, and describes their conduct after they had sold their furs. It is a picture which might have been painted of the wild proceedings in the "forty-nine days of the gold diggings in California, or of the less remote scenes in the northwoods of Michigan and Wisconsin, when after weeks and months spent in the depths of the wilderness enduring hardship and privation, at the hardest toil, the "lumber-jacks” would rush with headlong impetuosity to the nearest village, or hamlet, or city-which ever offered the best facilities for converting their hard-earned dollars into headaches and physical miseries of all their infinite variety, where their four months' wages would promptly dissolve into nothingness-and the wretched men prepare again for another conflict with the woods, to be followed by the same falling into the depths of incredible folly. La Hontan's discription sets before us the ancestors of those who rushed from the gold diggings or the chopper's camp, to the places where they could play ten pins with bottles of champagne.
The Baron Hontan does not write of these people for the pur