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John Mix,
a Well Known Member of the Pottawattamie Tribe,
Has Led an Interesting Life.


But is Still Active In Spite of His Four Score Years

Day Spring
Hartford, Michigan
23 July 1902

John Mix - Pottawattamie Tribe - 1902 article   
I was born in the state of Kentucky, about the time the Fort Dearborn massacre of Chicago in 1812.  My father was a Spaniard, my mother a Sioux Indian woman.  They both died when I was about nine years old.  I was adopted by a family of the white race, with whom I lived until manhood.  My foster father was an Irishman who drank much and often whipped me cruelly without cause, but his wife and her mother treated me great kindness.
     I went with this family to Missouri. My foster father and I then ran a ferryboat across the Missouri River three or four years.  I was a great swimmer and saved many a life from drowning.
     I went from Missouri to Chicago just after the late Chief Pokagon's father sold Chicago to the United States in 1833.  I worked there in an iron foundry for some time.  While there heard Indian traders brag how they had sold the same goods two or three times over to my race after getting them drunk.
     I have always hated intoxication drinks with a deadly hate: and as my years increase so does my hate for that deadly enemy of my race; yes, and the white race too.
     While working in Chicago a Scotchman came to the family where I worked to get castings for a sawmill he was building at Manistee, Mich.  I hired out to him and we took a sail ship to Manistee by way of Milwaukee.  I then worked as a cook for my employer.  His name was John Stronach.  He was the father of Mrs. Felix Rassette, of this place.  While working there as a cook, my employer's wife, Mrs. Rassette's mother, came from Watervliet to Manistee and brought an Indian girl she had adopted.
     This girl was a sister to the Bertrand described in Pokagon's "
Queen of the Woods."  We fell in love, as white folks call it, and were married by my employer, who was a justice of the peace.  I then turned the cooking over to my wife and went to work about the mill.
     A year or so after this my wife and I went to her mother's near St. Joseph, Mich.  She was a strong Catholic, and in order to satisfy her ideas of marriage we were again married by a priest on our way home, at Milwaukee.  We told my wife's mother in regard to the two marriages, but she, fearing that all might not be right sent for a Catholic priest and we were married then and there the third time.
     We had in all ten children, and raised eight of them; four boys and four girls.  I now have sixteen great-grandchildren and how many grandchildren I do not know.  I became a member of the Pottawattamie Pokagon Band.
     My wife died over thirty years ago and twenty-seven years have passed since I married Elizabeth Singua, my present wife.  Her father owned the farm on Rush lake where the Indian church and cemetery now are.  She holds a medal given her father by James K. Polk, while President, for his loyalty to the government.
     It may be interesting for my neighbors to know that in 1844 I went on foot and alone, with the exception of my little coon dog, from Hartford to Manistee, Mich.  It was in June.  At South Haven I found but one small shanty.  This was occupied by Judge Monroe.  At Saugatuck, I staid all night and slept on the banks of the Kalamazoo river. It froze so hard that night that many large oak and hickory trees were killed throughout southern Michigan.
     At Grand Haven I found a few fish shanties.  Was boated across Grand river by a fisherman. 
Esikan, my little coon dog, was left behind.  After calling him some time
he plunged into the broad river and swam across.  North of Muskegon I found some drunken Indians on the old Indian camp-ground.  They wanted me to stay with them but
I was afraid and ran away and left them.  I was never outrun.  Most of the Indians at this time were at Mackinaw drawing government pay for their lands.  I reached Manistee in five days; swam many streams; found no roads between here and there and many times did not even find a trail.  There were no deer then in northern Michigan.  All the indians came south to hunt in the winter.  Deer were plenty here, as well as wolves, bears and all kinds of small game.  Joe Kawkee was our best deer hunter and Wapsey, who died a few years since at the age of 110, was our greatest bear hunter.  It was said of him, "
He drove these animals to his wigwam to kill them."  He would chase a bear night and day, living on jerked venison, until--so said the Indians--poor old "mawque" (Bruin) would lie down exhausted and give up, muttering to himself, "come Wapsey to 'nabeo' (death), I can go no farther."
     I have lived in Hartford over sixty years, most of that time on the place I now occupy.  The old Pokagon council tree shades the south side of my house, where I take much pleasure in reading the Day Spring.  I learned to read and write, when past forty, of my children, when they attended about the first school taught in reach of us by Mrs. John Travis, formerly of this place.  I never attended school a day in my life.  I loved to work and have always worked hard.
     I have footed it to Prairie Ronde, worked there in harvest from sunrise to sunset for on bushel of wheat per day, worth forty cents.  I have cleared for myself and others over 200 acres of timbered land.  I once split 550 rails for a man in this town in one day and got through half an hour before sunset.  He wanted me to work half an hour longer.  I got fifty cents for that day's work.
     To this autobiography we wish to add that Mr. Mix has been a good citizen, has accumulated considerable property and is held in high esteem by the entire community.  No man's word can be more implicitly relied upon and the name of John Mix is a synonym for probity and honor.  He has attained a good age and is till as vigorous as many a man at fifty and it is hoped he has yet many years before him of usefulness among his people.  Men of his kind cannot be easily spared.


August 1, 2003
  - The original Day Spring newspaper story was submitted by Diane Taylor Pawling.  Diane states,
I photocopied the following article about 15 years ago because I thought it was a really interesting bit of Pottawattamie history

Information for this web site was gathered from personal interviews, newspaper articles, scrapbooks, personal photo albums, and other documented materials - many available to the public at the Hartford Public Library or Van Buren County Historical Museum.  Please report any typographical errors, updated information, or incorrectly stated information to the webmaster for correction.  Reprinting for personal and instructional purposes is permitted, however, unauthorized commercial reprinting of this information or unauthorized linking to photos-pictures on this site is strictly prohibited without written permission from the webmaster. 

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A Pictorial History of Hartford, Michigan
Emma Thornburg Sefcik,
Competent Secretarial Service
Copyright 2000 - All rights reserved.

Revised: May 27, 2015