To really understand Cobmoosa you must see the whole picture of the times under which he lived. An older historian once impressed upon me - don't study the man, but study the people, known or unknown about his life and times. They will provide you with insights to be shared with others.
It has taken me five years of research to write about Cobmoosa and under what conditions he made his mark on Indian life and that of others. Recently while researching his travels I came across an interesting tale about how the Indians of Cobmoosa's villages were invited to the second Fourth of July 1837 celebrations at Ionia, Michigan.
Samuel Dexter, Alfred Cornell Jr., and Sanford Yeomans engaged the services of Ezekiel Welch to set up a dinner for fifty area couples and build a 100 foot long table. With assistance from Welch's wife she baked a dinner consisting of roast beef, roast pigs and all the fixings. She prepared the meal for one hundred settlers, but only 80 arrived and since there were many leftovers the master of ceremonies decided not to let it go to waste. He extended an invitation to local Indians who were walking about to fill up. It was said the hungry redskins attacked the tables with invigorated and voracious appetites and ate everything so it appeared no food was left on the tables. Picked clean as if the food never existed. The only local Indians were those of Cobmoosa's village and there was a shortage of food supplies as small pox waned. Cobmoosa was off teaching the youngest surviving Indians how to hunt and fish in the upper Flat River area and bring food back to his people.
Why do I tell you this now - because it was what happened for the better, the bringing together of three different cultures (black, red and white). They all feasted together as one civilized unit, but even back then 10 couples decided not to partake and ignored their pledges to take part and left - that was why so much food was left on the tables. Doesn't matter what color of skin when you might be starving. Don't waste food - someone or something might benefit from malnutrition.
But something more spectacular happened. I stumbled upon something I had been researching since 1985 in "Search for Secrets of a Sunken Cannon." Previously in this blog I mentioned that President Andrew Jackson received letters from missionaries in Grand Rapids telling him that war drums were beating louder each night by renegade Indians hoping to stop negotiations in the winter of 1835-36.
Jackson dispatched an army detachment hauling two 4-pound cannons. While crossing the Grand River on river ice east of Portland, the two cannons broke thru thin ice. Only one cannon was recovered. Unknown was the risen cannon's destination - but both disappeared. Destination unknown until...
I stumbled upon a different 1837 Independence Day celebration. At Lyons east of Ionia, they had a "bowery" dance (Dutch), and of course, speeches, cannon-firing and many more festivities. In 1836, the first military cannons entered the interior of Michigan.
Who brought the cannon? What conveyance got it there? When did it arrive? Where did it come from? How did it get there? Why was the cannon left at Lyons? This was the first recorded instance of a cannon in the Grand River watershed.
Did the army detachment leave it at Lyons as a defense from marauding Indians prior to the initial signing of the Treaty of 1836, because of fear the Indian's in this locale might instigate another Indian War. Chief Dayomac and Manuquod villages presumably had those who didn't want to sell their Indian land.
Could it be these two cannons were destined for Washington Centre, a high-sounding name for what was to become known as Ionia in the near future? Remember these were 4-pound iron cannons. That was the largest of military cannons in the U.S. Army. Might these two cannons have been poured from the same casts as that of Sam Houston's twin-sister cannons going to Texas? Winter 1836.
Next time I return to base course and I put the finishing touches on the legends of Chief Cobmoosa's treasure, but remember I take side-trips to reach conclusions and I've got another Indian legend pertaining to "Washington speaketh with forked tongue" intrigue - that of the treasure hunting Librarian. (continued)