For many years those of us who were interested in history of Algonquin, always wondered how Algonquin got its name. First settlers used Denny’s Ferry for Post Office in 1839. Post Office then changed to Cornish Ferry in 1840. Another name change by the Post Office to Cornishville in 1842. Then while the town was being platted by Dawson and Henderson, the name given to the town was Osceola. Osceola was Seminole War Chief that died in 1838. Court asked the town to change its name again since Osceola was already taken by another town in Illinois which was located 20 miles north of Peoria, Illinois. Population of Osceola township was 1,038 people during the last census in 2000. A town meeting was held in 1843 and the major land owner of 1,000 acres around future village of Algonquin was Mr. Samuel Edwards. He was asked to suggest a name for the village. One historian who wrote village history in 1960’s stated Samuel Edwards was once a sailor on the boat named after Indian Confederation called the Algonquin. Its always has been mystery what kind of vessel was this Algonquin and where did this vessel sail. In Spring of 2006 an article published in 1860’s was found in Tribune Archival Database at Algonquin Public Library. The article asked for donations to construct a memorial for the brave Jack Wilson who was Captain of the Algonquin. This vessel that sailed on Lake Superior and it was quite famous schooner during the 1840’s. As far as the Algonquin Historical Commission knows, there are no pictures or paintings that are accurate. But from governmental records, the commission has a good idea of what the vessel might have looked like. The well known maritime historian Pat Labadie at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration offices at Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Alpena, Michigan has for long time had special interest in schooner named the Algonquin and collected over 50 pages of information that he has gladly shared with the Algonquin Historic Commission. The town of Algonquin can not express its gratitude for all the information that Mr. Patrick Labadie has given to the commission about the schooner called Algonquin. Information that follows is a listing of facts that have been recorded at from various museums, diaries, websites, databases and Labadie Collection giving us glimpse of famous vessel that sailed on Lake Superior and became famous in the early maritime history of the Great Lakes. There are many erroneous statements and information listed in articles and databases. Most of the information listed came from primary sources or information that seems consistent with good sources. Some recollections may have errors. Obvious errors were omitted but some information that was deemed useful from the source may have been recorded with understanding that people approximated the dates for information about the schooner ALGONQUIN.
Pre-History, Before the Algonquin
1835 - 1838
The launching of the most famous vessels in Lake Superior history, was the schooner John Jacob Astor which was named of the owner of the powerful American Fur Company. It was the first American sailing ship on Lake Superior. Owned by the company, 78-foot, 112 ton vessel was built of white oak at the Black River area of Ohio. Schooner was assembled above the rapids at Sault Ste. Marie in 1835 on the shore of Lake Superior.
Freight being hauled between Lake Superior and the lower lakes had to be off-loaded, carted around the rapids and reloaded on to a different ship. Valuable resources o f copper and iron ore from the western Upper Peninsula provided the impetus to get a shipping canal and locks built to avoid this costly and time-consuming method around St. Malry’s Falls. Locks would allowed a ship to be raised or lowered 21 feet - the difference between the levels of Lake Huron and Lake Superior.
Second fishing vessel, Madeline (1837) owned by American Fur Company, next came 73 ton William Brewster (1838) which was sent over the falls during the fall of 1838 to work the lower lakes.
The ALGONQUIN and 40 ton Siskawit were hauled past St. Marys rapids to Lake Superior and where they both engaged in either trading or fishing and White Fish.
Other vessels on Lake Superior were Invincible, Otter, Mink, Recovery and Discovery which were own by American Fur Company, American Northwest and Hudson Bay Companies.10 Many companies believed that fishing Lake Superior would be profitable business sicne the fish were plentiful and twice as large as those of the lower lakes. end #mainContent
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