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A glimpse of missionary life

A glimpse of missionary life

Daily Reading for May 24 • Jackson Kemper, First Missionary Bishop in the United States, 1870

We determine with grateful hearts to embrace the opportunity afforded by the Steam boat. On Friday evening I made a short address to the children at family prayers, & now took leave of them, exhorting them to love one another. We packed up immediately after breakfast. Talked with Suydam about his becoming a candidate, directed him & promised to send him Horn’s Intro. He gave me two MSS maps, one of Green Bay, the other of Pox river—& a menomenie war club. Started from Mission house before 9 bidding all & affect[ionate] farewell. . . .

My berth proved a sad one—bed bugs &c & very rocking—slept very little. Rose at day break when the boat started. Many passengers complain of dirt & vermin of the boat. Passed the beautiful eagle harbour—grape islands. . . .Much is said of the clearness of these waters—certain subjects can be seen at a great depth say 6 or 7 fathoms—a white towel for instance tied to the line. . . .

The death of Gov Porter is not considered a calamitous event for the Territory or the Indians. All parties appear to be unanimous in the opinion that the Indians are injured on all sides. The government, the army, the traders, the agents (& the Missionaries to a certain extent) accuse each other. Many agents appear to prey upon them & have grown rich. The Government forces them to give up land which the Governor does not want. Some conscientious officers assert that traders have come within musket shot of their forts & sold without reserve, & that they cannot obtain from the Governor the authority necessary to repress their efforts & drive the traders away. Rolet & others appear to think that all the efforts pledged to the Menos for their lands will be made without producing the least good. . .

Rolet an intelligent shrewd man has been 30 yrs an Indian fur trader—has lived for yrs among—a Canadian of french descent. Speaks severely of our Governor’s conduct towards the Indians. He has a son at a presbyterian school & a daughter at a quaker school near New York. He was educated at the Catholic college of Quebec. Appears tolerant, perhaps deistical in his sentiments. . . . The wilder they are the better in his estimation—at all events they are free from many of the vices of the whites. The Sioux are yet in a wild state—men & women dress in Buffalo skins—the men have boot moccasins, the hair inside. Their robes are painted with figures of animals &c on outside. In hunting &c they often guide their horses by bearing their bodies to the side they wish to go. Their lodges are rendered very comfortable in winter by having Buffalo robes hung up in them. In hunting the Buffalo they go with their families in parties of 1 or 200. . . . Each warrior knows his own arrows, & is entitled to the skin & tongue of the animal he slew. The meat is in common. . . . Their meat particularly the Buffalo roasted before the fire & cut off in thin slices as it is cooked & eaten is far more delicious than beef and more juicy. . . .

The boat stopped last night while I was asleep at Erie & today we arrived at 11 at Buffalo. Not a storm or accident during the whole of the trip on the upper Lakes. Thanks to God through Christ my Redeemer for all his mercies.

From Journal of An Episcopalian Missionary’s Tour to Green Bay, 1834 by Jackson Kemper, D.D; found at


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