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1820 Map

Life and Livelihood

| Livelihood | Indian Traders | Birchard's Store |

Livelihood: Hunting, Trapping, Sugar, Corn

"Seneca John, whom I mentioned in my former statement, resided on the Reserve in Seneca County, and was a brother of Comstock, the principal chief of the Seneca tribe, and the same that was afterwards killed by his brothers. He appeared to be a very friendly Indian, and I became acquainted with him soon after I settled on Huron River, in 1817. He would frequently call at my house when passing by, up to the time of his death, which, I believe, was in 1828. I understood from him that the Indians had their hunting grounds allotted off among themselves before the settlement of the whites, and no Indian had a right to intrude on another's territory by hunting or trapping. At the time I saw him, he claimed the west half of this township and the north west part of Greenfield for his hunting ground, as far as the Indians were concerned. In the spring of the year, as soon as the frost commenced coming out of the ground, he would start with his family and go to the Vermillion, or somewhere east of Peru, where there was sugar maple. There his squaw would commence making sugar and he to making and setting traps for raccoon. A part of them were strung along all the little streams that put into Huron River, both north and south of my house, and as far as his hunting grounds extended. One season he told me that he had over 400 traps setting at the time, and that it took him seven or eight days to go round them all. He frequently stopped at my house while going round his traps, to stay over night, sleeping before the fire, but always starting by sunrise in the morning, after shouldering his load of skins. The greatest number of skins at any one time, if I recollect right, was 28 fresh raccoon skins, which made quite a load. After the season of sugar-making and trapping was over, they would pack up and go home to plant corn. After planting, they would return to the hunting ground; and Seneca John most generally encamped at a spring about thirty rods from my house, first obtaining leave to do so, when his squaw would soon have a shanty built with poles and peeled bark. They would stay and hunt two or three weeks, killing quite a number of deer, and jerking the meat before the fire. Whenever there was a carcass of a deer brought into camp his squaw would quit her work, whatever it might be, and commence cutting the venison into thin slices, run them on a stick and put them before the fire to dry. A deer's head is a choice dish with them, but neither the hunter nor the cook takes time to skin it. It is thrown into the pot; when cooked, they pick off some of the hair while eating. When they get enough dried venison to last them through the summer, they pack up and start for home. In the fall, as soon as the skins were good, they would return and encamp in the north-west part of this township and hunt until cold weather set in."

Excerpted from: "Memoirs of Peru Township," by Levi R. Sutton, in The Firelands Pioneer, March, 1860, published by Firelands Historical Society

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