The Grave House – Hannibal [page 81]
The Emissaries [page 84]
Maxinkuckee Lake [page 87]
The Sawmill [page 95]
The Grave House
The account and depiction of a Neshnabe grave house and funeral is informed by the art and commentary of George Winter. In 1837 he described and illustrated the burial of a young woman at Kee-waw-nay, presumably today’s Kewanna. This location is about twelve miles south of Shishibes Lake, today’s Myers Lake, in Marshall County. George Winter painted at least four burial related scenes, from life, in 1837. The Purdue Archives contain illustrations #30 and 31, as well as #11 and 32 included here. Printed versions can be found in “The Journals and Indian Paintings of George Winter, 1837-1839” published in 1948 by the Indiana Historical Society.
Here is Winter’s account regarding scene #32: “The morning opened with clear sky, the
“From my chosen position, the funeral cortege was observable as it emerged from the wigwam of the Chief. It descended a gentle slope and crossed a ‘run’ . . . O-ga-maus, the brother of the deceased, preceded the corpse; the friends followed, . . . The body was wrapped in white muslin and laid upon a board; hickory withes were tied around the corpse to secure it in place upon this rude bier.
“Temporarily the body was deposited at the grave while the previously prepared rough boards were placed within, making a nail less coffin. The corpse was then placed with much care within its narrow cell and the lid board put on with precision. . . The [women] then in a solemn manner –
each gathering up a handful of the fresh turned up soil, and sprinkled it upon the coffin. . . A large number of Indians stood within the shadows of the trees around the burial
ground. A fire had been kindled previous to the internment; the smoke now floated in wavy and arid thinness, diffusing its tint of blue in the foliage of the outspreading branches of the trees, giving a mystical appearance,
harmonizing with the wildness of the forest scene.”
These are Winter’s comments regarding illustration #11, Captain Flowers’ grave, a Miami chief of renown. “The graves were generally covered with bark. The Chief’s [grave] loomed up above all others . . . It was rudely constructed of logs, within which was placed a pine box protecting the remains . . .”
Patience’s (false) assumption that Janie Roberts was a slave was legally possible, but becoming less likely with every passing year. The law to extinguish slavery in Upper Canada held that a child born in slavery would, on attaining the age of 25, be free. (Adult slaves could only be freed by their Canadian owners.) The fictional Janie Roberts (nee Benjamin) is only twenty three in the winter of 1811-12; she would have been five, and thus possibly a slave, in 1793 when The Upper Canada Slavery
Upper Canada Assemblyman Elijah Mason is fictional, but such politicians as Assemblymen Joseph Willcocks (who won the 6th Parliament seat in York West), Abraham Markle (also of the 6th Parliament), and Benajah Mallory (5th Parliament) are historical figures who inform the fictional. These three fled to serve as officers in the “Canadian Volunteers,” an American unit composed principally of traitors from Upper Canada, who burned and pillaged, and sometimes kidnapped or murdered their former neighbours. An excellent source is George Sheppard’s, “Plunder, Profit, and Paroles.”
The Quakers of Lundy’s Corners Meeting are fictional but representative of the Society of Friends communities of the times.