Life of a Settler


The idea of making a go of it in a new place was not an uncommon thought for many early settlers throughout the now midwest of the present day United States of America. Dreams of moving on from places where your family name meant how successful you can be and where you belonged in life, This enticed many eastern seaboard settlers to pack up and move on towards a fresh and untapped land. With the construction of the Erie Canal in 1825 it made it possible for many settlers from New York and Buffalo to travel to the unknown land and make a name for themselves.

The territory of Michigan was thickly forested and hard to maneuver for early settlers. Roads were sparse if not nonexistent, causing settlers to pave their own way while spreading out form the main villages of Michigan. Many lakes between the points of Detroit and Saginaw made it possible for families to make lives and sustain their existence while trying to find profit in the way of jobs or craftsmanship. Neighbors were heard to come by for early settlers, even on popular lakes, as the vast size of Michigan created the sense of fulfillment as settlers claimed stake to land of their very own. However, dealing with the natives took getting used to by many settlers as shown by excerpt from “The Great Water”;

“You could never tell when Indians were in your house. They walked right in without knocking, or any ceremony whatever….you would turn around and see half a dozen Indians in the room”

(Thick, 63)

Soon the white man began to have a large and lasting impact on the Native Americans as they began to learn the language of the white man and begin to dress as such. This made the spread of civilization abundantly easier without the threat of Indian encounters with now way of communication.

Michigan was settled by eager and driven people who wanted nothing more than to make a life for themselves. These early settlers made an initial impression on the structure of Michigan in the future. This demeanor of hard work and passion allowed for the State of Michigan to prosper in any adversity it faced in the future. Along the road to state hood and beyond, the early settlers of Michigan proved to be resilient and shaped the states involvement in the civil war and beyond.

References:

1.) Thick, Matthew R. The Great Water: a Documentary History of Michigan. Michigan State University Press, 2018.

7 thoughts on “Life of a Settler

  1. These early settlers of Michigan were resilient. Considering they survived all of the hardships they faced, the impact they had on the history of our state is immeasurable. From the clearing of the land for farming to the construction of towns and villages, the hard work and tenacity of these people marked the beginning of the roots of our state.

  2. The people who came to settle in Michigan came primarily to find a profit and a place they could call their own. When the people came here they had to deal with the fact that they abandon the bulk of society to acquire their wealth. The only reason that anyone survived was because they put in their hard work to achieve their dreams. These men sacrificed everything for their dreams.

  3. The settlers of Michigan, the ones who came with nothing but the bags on their back. These people had a real challenge in front of them. Going to a new land, trying to make a life for themselves and their family. Untouched lands meant endless resources, animals, etc. but it also brought dangers with it. No roads meant that transportation was extremely difficult. These Michiganders were filled with determination and hope for their new home.

  4. Paving the way, that is exactly what came to my mind when they spoke of the road conditions during the early settlement. I wonder if the UP being less disturbed shows us what some oft he undisturbed lands were like. I think of the winters and what the early people would have endured with little resources. Resilient and hardy are great attributes that the leaders of our great state had!

  5. It was interesting to read what the early pioneers dealt with settling in the early Michigan environment and culture. The women and children must have shown great bravery and stamina to deal with native Americans coming into their house unannounced! I found it disturbing that early settlers thought it alright to desecrate the grave of a Native Indian, and take sacred artifacts for their own.

  6. I can’t imagine how surprising it would have been to have the Native Americans just enter your home. That would have definitely been something that took time to get used to. Reading about it though, I kind of like that they felt comfortable enough to do that and I would hope if I had been a Michigan settler, that I would’ve welcomed them with open arms and been understanding to them compared to how other people treated them. I am sure that not all people who interacted with the Native Americans treated them terribly, or at least I hope not.

  7. I can see why some of the pioneers felt a little unsettling about the Indians and their close proximity. The quote does a well job of explaining it about how you could turn around and half a dozen indians would be just loitering in your house. That would be enough to creep anyone out. It became easier as you said, when the Indians started to learn the culture of the pioneers, but still.

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