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Mt. Pleasnt Industrial School Pupil Registers 1893-1906, 1907-1914, 1915-1932

Online Files From Pupil Register

COMPLETE: May 5, 2012 - Mt. Pleasant Industrial Indian School Pupil Registers - Students for years 1893-1906 or 1st Register Book are completed and online. 4,154 records.

Coming Next: 2nd Ledger Book which includes the years 1907-1914
  • 1907 has been completed and is online! June 2, 2012
  • 1908 being typed - June 2012

    3rd Ledger Book: Years 1915-1932


During the session of Congress in 1890-1 Hon. A. T. Bliss, then a member of Congress from this district, secured the passage of a bill making provisions for the establishment of such a school, as follows:

"An act for the construction and completion of suitable school buildings for Indian industrial schools in Wisconsin and other states.

"Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that the secretary of the interior be, and is hereby authorized and directed to cause one Indian industrial or training school to be established in each of the states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota, at a cost not exceeding thirty thousand dollars for each school, said schools to be as near as practicable moulded on the plan of the Indian school at Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Provided, however, that no such school shall be established on any Indian reservation wherein Indians are located under an agent."

It further provided that the buildings for the state of Michigan should be located in the county of Isabella.

Seventy-five thousand dollars was appropriated, to be expended by the secretary of the interior for the purchase of suitable grounds and the erection of buildings, and for such other purposes as should be found necessary to carry out the purposes of the act.
Mt. Pleasant Indian Industrial School

Mt. Pleasant Indian Industrial School

The people of Isabella county, and especially the Indians, feel very grateful for the efforts of Colonel Bliss in securing this school, for without the appropriation we could not have hoped to locate one here.

The interior department sent out its agent to secure a suitable site for such a school, and, after a good deal of examination and investigation of different places for a site, they finally located on the present plot of ground, which lies just to the northwest of the city of Mt. Pleasant, on a high and commanding spot of ground, rolling and with a good descent to the east and with splendid drainage to the Chippewa river. The first building erected for the school was built in 1892-3 and was completed on or about the 1st of July, 1893.

The government had anticipated somewhat the building and completion of their building and had opened a school in the Commercial block in Mt. Pleasant; with thirteen pupils as a nucleus for a larger attendance when their rooms should be ready for occupancy. Dr. E. E. Riopel, as superintendent; Mrs. Riopel, matron; Mrs. Quinn, laundress; Mrs. Josephine Ayling, cook: Mrs. Brubaker, laundress; Miss Olie Lett, seamstress; Miss Holliday. a graduate from the Indian school of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, as teacher: E. E. Nardin. as farmer, and Charles Slater, as carpenter. The rooms they occupied were not well adapted for such a purpose, but they remained, doing the best they could under the circumstances, for about two months, when they moved into a dwelling house on the farm which they had remodeled for the purpose, and remained there until the first of July, when they moved into their own building.

The first building erected was a brick structure, about one hundred and twenty feet by forty-five feet, two stories high with basement and attic, which was used as a dormitory, making the structure equivalent to a four-story building. They started with three horses and a light equipage of farming utensils.

The growth of the institution has been marvelous, considering the common sentiment in regard to the Indian and his education.

Lands have been added to the first original purchase until now they have three hundred and twenty acres, or half a section, being the east half of section 9 in township 14 north, range 4 west, Isabella county.

Their outfit of buildings at the present time consists of eleven brick structures which are, one building one hundred and twenty feet by forty-five feet, with two full stories, a basement and an attic, all utilized; an assembly building, eighty-five by forty-five feet, with one wing forty feet by forty feet and another wing forty-five by eighty-five feet, all two stories and basement; a girls' dormitory, ninety by ninety feet, two stories and basement; a boys' dormitory of the same size and dimensions; a building for a dining room, domestic science, and bakery, with a capacity for three hundred students; a hospital building, thirty-five by forty-five feet, with basement: power house, fifty by forty-five, one story and basement, equipped with three boilers, engine and dynamo; a laundry, forty-five by seventy-five, one story, fully equipped and sufficient for the needs of the school; a storehouse, twenty-five by fifty, one story; an industrial building, including blacksmith shop, carpenter shop, tailor and shoe shop, also a band room; a club house for the teachers and cook: this is devoted to the use of the six lady teachers and the lady cook.

There are also several wooden buildings, to wit: A barn, forty by one hundred and twenty-four feet; a store building, forty by fifty; a storage building, thirty-two by fifty; driving shed, twenty-eight by one hundred; three cottages for the employees, viz: clerk, tailor, disciplinarian and carpenter; an ice house, twenty-four by thirty feet: a piggery, twenty-two by eighty: a farm barn, forty by eighty, and a farm house, thirty by forty, for the assistant farmer; a dwelling for the night watch, upright sixteen by twenty-six, with a wing fourteen by twenty feet.

This school has had a marked effect upon the Indians of this and other counties in the state. Their numbers have steadily increased until they now average something over three hundred students, which is the normal capacity of the school. Quite a number of the students have graduated and are now holding good positions in the government employ. As fast as they become proficient in the branches taught here, they may go to Carlisle, or, if sufficiently equipped, may seek employment in some other like institution, the government being at all times anxious that they should continue the work and thus stimulate others to a better life than that which they were wont to live. Here they are removed to a large extent from their natural haunts and come in closer touch with a better civilization, one that serves to change their environment and will in time modify their heredity. Knowing the tribal life of the Indian, one is surprised to see how soon they change to a large extent from their roving life to one of industry and good husbandry. In their school all of the common branches are taught, besides which they have domestic science and manual training. Many of them have good voices and become quite proficient in music. The school supports a good brass band, and they can play base ball and foot ball with proficiency. The government is doing what it consistently can to better the condition of a race that is fast disappearing and will soon be among the peoples that were, unless by the change in their habits and modes of living they shall overcome the tendency to obliteration.

The superintendents that have at times conducted the business and looked after the interests of the school are, first, Dr. E. E. Riopel; then came Rodney S. Graham, who was followed by E. E. Nardin, and he by the present incumbent. R. A. Cockran.

The superintendent's salary at first was one thousand five hundred dollars; this has been increased to one thousand seven hundred dollars. The teachers receive from six hundred to eight hundred and forty dollars. The clerk, J. W. Bauman, who was formerly a student in the school, receives one thousand dollars. Two assistant matrons, one assistant cook and the gardener are each graduates here, and John Williams, present farmer, and Samuel Gruett, disciplinarian, have each been students in the school.

Charles Slater, carpenter, is the only person who has remained in the employ of the school ever since it opened, which speaks volumes for his efficiency and faithfulness. One thing the authorities of the school are to be complimented for is the preservation of the forty acres of native forest situated just north of the plat on which the buildings are located. It is one of the finest pieces of green timber in the county, in fact I doubt if another such can be found. There are about seven hundred nice hard maple trees on the plat and the school is guarding these trees with jealous care.

It has been said by many that the Indian was a warlike creature, but we do not think that applies with much force to the Chippewas of the present day. The Indians here have been a peaceable people for several generations at least. Yet, when our country was in need of soldiers to put down the Rebellion, none were more ready to enlist than the native American. We have tried to obtain a full list of those enlisting, but have been unable to procure one. We herewith present a partial list, secured direct from some of those who went into the service, and have personal knowledge: John Jackson. Thomas Smith, Dan Sunshine (or Covert), Abram Brock (son of the great Chief Shaw-shaw-waw-naw-beese), James Gruett. William Chatfield, Charles Chatfield, John Waw-be-naw, George Corbin, Amos Chamberlain, Marcus Otto, Joe Fisher, Samuel Fisher, Ke-go, William Westbrook, John Chatfield. William Kay-ne-go-me. William Isaac. Dan Ashman (a drummer), Dan Paymos-se-gay, Thomas Waw-be-naw, Sag-a-tup, James Quaw-be-way. John Collins (sharpshooter), Johnny Collins (sharpshooter). Not-to-way, Peter Barnes, Peter Campau (Seventh Michigan Cavalry), Lewis Pe-che-ka, Peter Bennett, Peter Johns, John Andrew, Mart Ne-ome.

The story would not be complete without mention of another attempt made by those who undertook to despoil the Indian of his rightful possessions. During the time that the lands were held by the Hall interests, a bill was introduced in the Congress of the United States, intended to confirm title in Hall and his grantees. The bill was carefully and ingeniously drawn, and when it came up for action the question was propounded as to how much land was involved, and the congressman from this district flippantly replied, about one hundred and sixty acres. The answer, for some cause, was not satisfactory; action was postponed and the bill was never passed. The evasive or untruthful answer cost the congressman his office, and he was not returned.

Soon after the treaty of 1855, to-wit, in 1856, the Indians commenced to move to their reservation in Isabella County. Some of them came by the way of St. Louis in Gratiot county, there being a few families living on the banks of the Pine River just below St. Louis; among them were the Gruetts. Chatfields, Rodds, Bradleys, Lyons, Smiths, and others coming into the county by the pony route, packing upon the pony or upon their own backs all of their belongings. Others came into the county by the Chippewa River route with canoes, dug out of pine logs. In these canoes they stored away all that they possessed, including the wife and papooses; as one Indian expressed it, "the river was full of canoes, and we brought all that we possessed." They landed at or near what was afterward Isabella City, where the mill was built, made their selections of land under the treaty of 1855 and settled upon the same. They built small wigwams out of birch bark or of logs, covered them with bark to keep out the inclement weather and proceeded to make some clearing, cutting down the timber and burning the same. It will be remembered that the lands were all covered with a dense growth of timber and underbrush. Most of the older selections and settlement was made in the summers of 1856-7.

Their history is that most of the Indians coming in those years were quite industrious, desiring to make a home on the reservation, and for four or five years made considerable improvement upon their lands. Not getting their patents at the end of their first five years, as they supposed they would, and the fact that the idea of making the reservation perpetual had become noised about among the Indians, their enthusiasm for clearing and subduing land that some shrewd or designing paleface should afterward reap the benefit of his hard labor began to abate and the .longer it continued the less did poor Lo crave the job of enriching the white man by his voluntary labor; so that they began again to neglect their clearing and improvement and many of them left their land to again seek a livelihood by hunting, fishing, trapping and the making of baskets by the female portion of the family, gathering the material for baskets and woven articles wherever most convenient.

The Indians report that when they came to Isabella county in 1856-7 there was an abundance of fish in the streams and lakes of the countv, and great quantities of wild fowl in the timber and on the lakes, with deer, bear, mink, musk-rat, coon, beaver and fox in great plenty, with some wolves, wildcat, lynx and pole-cat thrown in to give flavor to the list.

Jacob Tipsico b. March 1 1827 in Macomb County

Jacob Tipsico b. March 1 1827 in Macomb County

JACOB TIPSICO Chippeway Indian, Born in Macomb County, Michigan, March 1, 1827

All or nearly all of these have now passed away or been legislated beyond the reach of any one, except he desires to bask for a time in the county jail or take a trip to the workhouse in Detroit.

The Indian is not supposed to have inherited any great desire to work, but is accredited with having a great longing for fire-water. In this the supposition is not altogether correct, for I think it can be truthfully said that the Indians who came to Isabella under the said treaties were greatly above the average in their desire to be good, sober citizens and that but a small percentage of them were addicted to the use of intoxicating liquors to excess. On the whole, they were a very quiet and peaceable class of citizens.

The writer of this article has had much to do with the Indian in this county, having spent a great many days and nights in the timber in the early days of the settlement of the county, running out state roads and public highways, generally working with one white man and from eight to ten Indians. They make good chainmen and axe-men, as well as flagmen, in a surveying party. They were very good workers in the woods, cutting logs, and especially good in driving logs down the river in the spring to their destination at Saginaw and Bay City.

The Indians were possessed of guns for hunting at the time they came to Isabella; some had ponies, but no wagons or other conveyance by land and only the ordinary dug-out canoe for transportation on the lakes and rivers. In employing them for work in surveying roads and for like work in the woods, they were not difficult to satisfy in the line of provisions; their first requirement when starting on a surveying tour through the forest was a goodly supply of tobacco and pipes; these were absolutely essential and nothing could take their place. Next was a sufficient supply of ham, bacon and bread or crackers; after that you could chink in almost anything of the eatable class and there would be no grumbling. In the treaty of 1855 there were made certain provisions for the education of the Indian children, and to carry out that portion of the treaty several school houses suitable for that purpose were built.

Irving E. Arnold had the contract in 1858 to build four school houses to be used for the Indians, and as soon as they were completed teachers were secured to conduct them. These schools were continued for several years, with more or less success. The principal difficulty was in the poor attendance, with the further fact that as a rule the teacher did not understand the Indian language and the children could not understand the teacher, with the further fact that as soon as the school closed for the day the child returned to its home, there to talk Indian until the school hour the next day. My observation has been that but little benefit was derived from the schools as then conducted.

At a later date it was thought that the Indian was entitled to further consideration in the educational line and an attempt was made by some of the good citizens of Isabella county toward establishing an industrial school.

Past and present of Isabella County, Michigan By Isaac Alger Fancher, Myrta Wilsey Burwash Published by B.F. Bowen, 1911 page 76
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