Monday, September 28, 2015

Legends of Chief Cobmoosa & Pres. A.J. -27

       Cobmoosa never wore the attire of white men as an Indian.  Whenever he met someone and in talking he said " he would stay Indian and not be anything but Indian.  He had fought against offered clothing from friends and relatives for 92 years, but he didn't know that is own destiny would be reshaped soon after he was seen arriving in Grand Rapids.  People on the streets couldn't believe the old shuffling Indian Chief was still alive and walking on Division Street - walking in the biting cold and sleet in such ragged clothing befitting a hermit or homeless person.
       "Time and death had neglected" Cobmoosa.  The sight of Grand Rapids left him sad.  Gone were the sights and silence of the "rapids" village.  Wooden buildings replaced the natural environment.  The hustle and bustle of a booming lumber town was too much for him to accept.  Nothing of his youth remained.
       Shuffling through town, the cold winds, rain and sleet beat against his face.  He hurried along hoping he wouldn't be recognized.  He feared being arrested by government lawmen, but they greeted the old Indian Chief with respect.  They never harassed or intimidated him.  December was not the time of year to cross the Grand River in the shallows, but instead did walk across a bridge. Just before he started westward, the old hunched over man greeted an old friend with a firm handshake.  Cobmoosa turned his face away from the cold sleet and the man took pity on his friend that "death had neglected."
       Suddenly his friend unbuttoned his winter coat and placed it around and over Cobmoosa's shoulder and helped him slip his arms into the sleeves.  He for the first time in his long life didn't refuse the white man's clothing.  He accepted the coat for he needed warmth to conclude his journey to Grand Haven.  Without the white man's clothing old Cobmoosa would freeze to death somewhere along the trail.  Just because he accepted the coat doesn't mean he isn't Indian, but he was wise enough to accept the coat knowing without it he would surely die along the trail.
       Imagine visiting (time traveling 150 year future) your doctor for your dwindling health at 92 years old says you must start walking and exercising more, because frankly you are obese and gravity has settled your girth.  In a nutshell do you have the stamina and ability to walk from the Ionia area via Grand Rapids to Grand Haven, then northward to Pentwater.  That's an overland trek of more than 130 miles.  Would you ever attempt this at 70 years of age.  You must walk like Cobmoosa in old clothes - not Sunday or daily clothing of the 21st century.  You must look like the homeless street people you see living in paperboard boxes beneath bridge overhangs.  Could you survive?
      Cobmoosa was a man of courage, but he still feared he might get arrested for not leaving his homeland soon enough.  After all when he encountered his friend he still had a 35 mile walk to Grand Haven.  What an odd scene to see a lone bent over gray-haired Indian moving 'turtle' slow in early December. 
      He was spotted two weeks later near Christmas stumbling in wagon ruts near the Crockery Creek Crossing southwest of Ravenna.  Many settlers in wagons tried to give him a lift, but he refused and went on his way.  Eyewitness accounts say as they approached he disappeared into the brush when  remembering an old familiar trail.  He arrived in Grand Haven in early winter.   Eyewitness sightings place him in Grand Haven by the end of 1860. What an arduous task when 92 years old.  Only half of his journey was completed. (continued)

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