Wild on the Superior Frontier A Romance of Settlers Lives 1846-1900
JAMES R. STEVENS
At the frontage of all the Superior port cities, towns, fishing-stations, and hidden nooks lies the planetís great freshwater sea. With over 40,000 miles of coastline Lake Superior is the deep aqueous heart of North America. This sweet water lives with a voice that sounds with the lap of wave on cobbled summer shore then thunders in protest under the ice of winterís freeze. The Superior Sea knows nothing of boundaries set by mere men, nor does it respect those who would transgress her sanctity during wild outbursts when her entity coalesces with brutal wind and ice filled rain.
Across this Big Lake would come many displaced thousands seeking new lives in mid America and the west to the prairies and the Pacific coast. From settlements in New York State the Wheeler and Merritt families would become lumber men/coastal sailors and prospectors in the Mesabi Hills. These early families arrived in Oneota in 1855 and 1856. Another Lake Superior arrival was English born, John Cousins, ex Imperial soldier/wharfinger/Customs Officer/Justice of the Peace who with wife Catherine and three siblings came to the tiny Landing in Thunder Bay in 1869. Moving out of the Ohio countryside came a Newspaper Publisher/Editor, bent on exercising his scrutinizing voice over Superior/Duluth. Robert C. Mitchell and wife, Fanny and sons arrived in Superior, Wisconsin in 1868. From somewhere in the enslaved American south, a black woman would cross into Canada from an unknown port. Julia Ann Roy would come west to Prince Arthurs Landing in 1874. Here she became the renowned Madame of a House of Ill Fame for nearly twenty years. These settlers, in their individual ways, all became prominent in Lake Superior port towns. Some were cheated, some were loved. Some were scolded. None became particularly wealthy. None of them ever gave up on a venture. If you wanted to talk 19th century pioneers on Lake Superior, the Merritts & Wheelers familyís, the British Cousins family, the Ohio born Robert Chalmers Mitchell and Julia Ann Roy, a Freedom Seeker were a diverse exciting lot.
All have many tales to tell us. Of a gauntlet of setbacks, amazing triumphs, boozing citizens, of political intrigue, fraud, of the sex trade on the Superior frontier and many deaths on the Big Lake. Populating the harbors and shorelines of a cold lake over thirty-one thousand square miles in area did not come without human cost.
An amazing journey follows in these rich pages from the ports of Sault Ste Marie to Marquette, Duluth/Superior and Thunder Bay. We travel through rough voyages and the very personal footsteps of pioneer folk who lived during wild frontier days in Lake Superior country.
James R. Stevens
Municipality of Shuniah,