Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Legends of Chief Cobmoosa & Pres. A. J. - 17

        Between the years 1821-1833 Cobmoosa became more wealthy simply because he moved freely and was welcome in all Grand River valley Indian villages.  He could bed down just about anywhere and found much favor in the eyes of his father-in-law Chief Wobwindigo within his Flat River villages.  He invested in settler pursuits, too, such as fur trading, provisional goods, banking and steamboat building for river and Great Lakes travel.  As such he didn't have to scrounge for visible means of support for his growing family; three wives, the daughters of Chief Wobwindigo.  He never panhandled incoming settlers, but greeted them as friends.  He knew the value of money was as shrewd as President Andrew Jackson.
        Cobmoosa, from age 53-92 walked to Grand Rapids from Lowell or Ionia to pick up his annual annuity payments.  He was punctual and he frequently told the Black Skins living in the Greenville area and Plainfield's Chief Neogamah to show up in person for payment, but they refused and blamed others for their misfortunes.  Wabasis was a scapegoat.  The missionaries in frequent letters to President Jackson complained that no what they tried to teach; farming there were those Indians that were lazy who preferred to harass incoming settlers.  Pres. Jackson refused to pay those who were naughty and threatened bloodshed.
        After the signing of the 1821 treaty Cobmoosa was aware of those who were angry with Washington.  He reiterated at council meetings that the constant turmoil by renegades must stop, but Plainfield's Chief Neogamah along with Max Sauba refused to go get their annuity payments and began blaming Wabasis.  They were convinced that Wabasis was stealing their proxy money and demanded that Wabasis be sanctioned for death.  This wasn't approved by council chiefs.  Cobmoosa's breath was wasted on deaf ears.  They refused to listen and so Wabasis was banished to his agricultural plot at Wabasis Lake.
        With so many of Noon Days tribe leaving for reservations in southern Michigan and Missouri, Cobmoosa dissolved into tribes north of the Grand River.  From 1821-1836 he didn't want to leave the land of his forefathers and it became apparent after the 1836 treaty signing he stayed in the Flat River country protecting and paying yearly homage to those buried in Indian Cemeteries.  He had heard of the atrocities of those incoming settlers who were guilty of ransacking Indian burial grounds.  Each November 2nd he visited the graves of his ancestors; family and friends.  He guarded them until the time came for him to leave for the Pentwater Reservation in 1860 after signing the Treaty of  1855 that forced him to leave before the close of 1860.
        Cobmoosa over the years would trade and barter for Indian type goods in exchange for what he wanted; apples, squash and vegetables.  He even traded furs for a shotgun from Mrs. Sessions, east of Ionia, Muir and Portage so he could hunt game.  Old age was already claiming his arms and his strength for pulling back a bow string was getting more difficult with the passing of time.
         After returning from signing the Treaty of 1836 Chief Wobwindigo and Cobmoosa arrived in their village to find that two-thirds of Wobwindigo's people had died of small pox in their absence.  Two of Wobwindigo's sons and families had died and nowhere to be found was his last living son Sohnago.  His remaining people were sick with small pox.  Evidently Sohnago was starving and so terrified of the disease he abandoned the village and fled to Gull Prairie.
        Since Wobwindigo himself was so badly afflicted with small pox Cobmoosa took command and led a hunting party north up the Flat River and brought back food to feed his adopted Ottawa people.  Cobmoosa was immune to the disease.  His hunting party returned by canoe while he walked back to Wobwindigo's village.
        Wobwindigo died from complications associated with small pox in early 1837, but before he passed on Chief Wobwindigo made Cobmoosa, the Potawatomi half-breed son-in-law, the last Ottawa chief of the Grand River and Flat River region.  Cobmoosa, once the second in command of Noon Days "rapid village" in Grand Rapids on the shore of the Grand River became an Ottawa chief, the last by inheritance.
        Cobmoosa remembered that in the early days traders could not sell whiskey or any liquored firewater to Indians.  That was forbidden under government oversight, but there came the day when any settler could sell it on "credit" if they had it and this infuriated President Jackson.  He and Indian women knew the dangers facing me who drank liquor in excess and had guns in their possession.  Drinking parties ended in death to someone they didn't agree with like those who plied firewater with Chief Kewaycooshcum, then murdered him near the confluence of Coldbrook Creek and Grand River.  His body buried beneath the bluffs of the Plainfield village so his spirit could look down at what he sold (south of the Grand River in 1821).  (continued)

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