The City


Sault Ste Marie MI

From 1668 when the first white settlement was permanently established at the "Soo" until 1874, when the village of Sault Ste, Marie was incorporated, the town was a dreamy, though picturesque, colony made up of Indians, French, and persons of English extraction and their admixtures. The city was incorporated in 1887, and the present census shows a population within the city of 12,615, while Chipewa county (the second largest in area in Michigan), in which the city is situated, has a total population of 24,472.

Its early history is replete with deeds of daring and cruelty of the warlike Chippewa Indians. But the civilizing influences of the white man have got in their deadly work among them, and only a few purebred specimens of the "noble red man" and the "beautiful Indian maiden" remain among us; though traces of their blood may be seen many of our good citizens. A group picture showing the better educated, progressive and respected half-breed accompanies this sketch (unfortunately the picture was to dark to copy), and may be said to be a typical illustration of the connecting link between Indian savagery and a higher civilization at the Soo. Eaach of these five men pictured was noted for his good influences over the people from whom he descended, and his teachings by means of moral suasion and precept were of great and lasting value to the community.

The early history of the Soo is rich in the nomenclature of its great men. Its soil was stained by the blood shed in Indian wars and massacres. Many of the spots famous in its early history are yet well known. Among them is the place where Brule, the explorer of Lake Superior, landed at the foot of the rapids in 1629, being the same place where Nicolet landed five years later, shown in a picture taken about 60 years ago, which forms a subject of the general history of this work. Another is the house in which Schoolcraft resided and wrote much of his famous history. It still stands and is a subject elsewhere of illustration.

The location of the early constructed fort is well marked, and the new government building containing the postoffice, customs office and immigration office stands within the lines which marked the famous old fort.

(Photo at right is in 1920
Contributed by Paul Petosky

The ancient burying ground o the Indians on the brow of the hill at the foot of Bingham avenue now forms a part of the government park along the river fron. In 1905 the semi-centtennial of the opening of navigation through the locks was observed at the Soo. As a memorial of the occasion there was erected on the very site, so sacred to the minds of the early Chippewas, a magnificent granite shaft with tablets of bronze recording permanently the history of the locks. Incidentally it marks the very spot known as "the flag episode" in the life of General Cass, and the ravine, on the east side of which he halted his troops and over which he personally crossed to where the British flag floated from a high staff - but from which the British had fled to the opposite side of the river in Canada - is still preserved in the park. The flag was guarded by savage Indians whom the British had left in charge, the chief of whom stood as though paralyzed by fear and amazement, while the brave general personally cut down the flag which had illegally floated on American soil for so many years, after the ratification of the treaty which permanently made this territory the property of the US. This shaft was designed by Stanford White, and was about the last, if not the very last, of that great architect's designing before he fell a victim of the insane assassin, Harry K. Thaw. Many an other historic place which links the past to the present time is also preserved. No city in the State has a more interesting past; a more charming present, or higher hope of future thrift.

Its commercial hope rests upon the sure basis of more than 800,000 acres of rich farming lands within the county, which are producing through the culture of the sturdy farmer the very best apples, potatoes, roots, oats, barley, wheat, peas, grass and hay, to be found anywhere. Chippewa county, in which the Soo is located, although having but 1/10th part of its area yet under cultivation, already is producing a quarter of a million dollars worth of seed peas annually; also 22,000 tons of prime timothy hay for sale annually beyond what the farmers feed to their livestock; while it holds the highest record for the perfection of its dairy products within the state.

From The Northern Peninsula of Michigan 1911 by Alvah L. Sawyer


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