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
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
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
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
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
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.