Michigan was described as a peaceful land filled with untouched wilderness as described in one excerpt “.. numerous lakes swarming with fish, and the forest filled with game of all kinds.” (Whitehead, p. 60) and “One could not penetrate the woods far before a deer would be started up..” (Whitehead, p.60) Recall that this was area was intentionally left this way by the French from the Fur Trade time period. As Michigan had just entered statehood, people wanted to relocate for fresh beginnings. It was where “ambitious, but poor..” (Coffinberry, p.57) led themselves in hopes to make a successful life for themselves and their families.
Boats came loaded to Michigan with emigrants which led to crowded and dirty areas on the ships, and not ideal conditions for safe travels. They ate and slept on the deck of the boats and their beds would catch on fire from the sparks of tar and resin. (Whitehead, p.61) However, they endeavored the struggles because Michigan was a new territory for them that promised a new future. Many came here with only a few belongings and a small amount of money as illustrated by the quote “We had no chairs or tables nor much of anything else to do with, so we had to live this way for about two weeks..” (Whitehead, p.61) Upon arrival, they used horses and oxen to travel on poor roads and make multiple trips to bring back more of their things that they needed.
At first, Michigan had the reputation of a swampy land that was rather unappealing to newcomers. The harsh winters and ice were intimidating to travelers on foot who had to brave these conditions. The quote “Stories of these Pioneers are an interesting way to understand the hardships they faced in their relocation..” (Coffinberry, p.57) referring to these people as Pioneers is a considerate and accurate description. As we made advances in transportation with steamboats and the Erie Canal, more settlers were on their way. These prejudices were soon fading away as more and more people were coming to the new State.
Early settlers came from all different areas, creating a variety in the population. The Erie Canal meant many immigrants and New Yorkers came to Michigan. Those who did settle near the Indians seemed to have gotten along with them and made friendships. The Indians learned from us, adopting some of our culture and clothing. Another excerpt says that Indians would walk right into your house unannounced, but they never did any harm. They were curious about what was in houses. (Dewey, p.63) However, this is argued when a mother and children were afraid of the Indians that entered their house and took their bread and milk and further asked for whiskey. (Nowlin, p.65) More than likely the Indians did not mean to appear threatening, because it was of their culture to share with their neighbors.
Thick, Matthew. The Great Water. Michigan State University Press, 2018.