Monday, February 15, 2016

The Legend of Chief Cobmoosa and Pres. A. J. -44

     Old Cobmoosa didn't spend much time in his new log cabin.  Traverse City residents crossed paths with him near a stream crossing about halfway between Traverse City and Pentwater.  The chief was a walking nomad at age 95.  He had reportedly been visiting friends again at the Traverse reservation.  This last trek wore him out to the point he couldn't walk much anymore and he stayed in Elbridge with his caretakers; Negounce, Mrs. Negake and Mrs. Bailey until his death.
     Now you might think that this is the end of Cobmoosa's legacy, but you would be wrong.  Cobmoosa lived four more years and died in 1866 at 98 years.  It is during his last four years that he held many conversations with young men living on the reservation with little to do.  He told them they were all citizens of Michigan and America.  He told them it was time for them to do the right thing and join the Yankees (Union) fight against the Confederate south in the Civil War.
     Why?  "We are resident brothers and stick together for the betterment of community."  He was adamant it was their right as northern Indians to participate and serve them and forget the past.
And so it came to pass that many young Indian fighters of three fires enlisted and were assigned to Michigan's Company K. 
     Nearly all perished along with friendly white and black men fighting with guerilla warfare against Confederate and Cherokees at the Battle of the Wilderness.  Those who survived this battle wrote down memories of what they witnessed of the "People of Three Fires" screaming war cries as they fought hand to hand combat with Confederate Cherokees in a raging forest fire.  Those who white soldiers watched them fight in a blazing fire, which haunted their memories for years.
     Memoirs in the Library of Congress tell how the brave northern and southern Indians fought during battle in a forest fire.  The war cries of both tribes haunted their dreams.  The Battle of the Wilderness was near Chancellorsville, Pennsylvania.  Union losses were 17,666 dead out of 118,000.  Confederate losses were 8,000 out of 61,000.
     A monument stone was erected in honor of Cobmoosa in 1927 and re-dedicated in 2012 by over 100 of the Cobmoosa's descendants, relatives and friends.  Cobmoosa's monument stands proudly on an embankment in Oceana County one mile east of the Elbridge Township Hall on Polk road then 1.25 miles or so south on 144th Street.
     He was buried under a small knoll that in his day looked down Cobmoosa Creek and over the countryside of Cobmoosa Lake.  Unknown is whether anyone knew he was a Christian Indian?  Or just he want to be buried beside other Indians?  Perhaps!
     In Elbridge Township east and west, north and south roads are named after the 16 Presidents of the United States of America that held office during Cobmoosa's life.  These were Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Adams, Jackson, VanBuren, Harrison, Tyler, Polk, Taylor, Filmore, Pierce, Buchanan and Lincoln.  (continued).

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