Memoirs by Three Pioneers


Here are memoirs by three people who lived on the frontier in the Great Lakes region that you might find interesting. As with all the books and works on the website, they are in the public domain and are free.

Reminiscences of Adele Gratiot; Recollections of a Young Mother in the Lead Region, 1826-1841

Weekly Gazette May 2, 1879

Galena Ill.
Gratiot, AdeleGo to Article

Adele Gratiot was a young mother of 24 when she moved to southwestern Wisconsin in the summer of 1826. Her husband and his brother, successful merchants in St. Louis, had decided to try their hand at mining and smelting in the Lead Region, and came north to found the village of Gratiot’s Grove in Lafayette County in 1825. Mrs. Gratiot here tells the story of their move, their neighbors, and about the Winnebago War of 1827 and the Black Hawk War in 1832.
– Summary from Wisconsin Historical Society site.

Autobiography of Rev. James B. Finley; Or, Pioneer Life in the West

Cincinnati: 1853
Finley, James B, and Strickland, W.P. Go to Book

This autobiography by a Methodist minister who spent much of his life on the frontier in Ohio country also has narratives of the lives of several other ministers.
“Mr. Finley was born in North Carolina, 1781, died at Eaton, Ohio, 1857. He entered the Ohio M. E. conference in 1809; was missionary to the Wyandot Indians from 1821 to 1827; Chaplain of the Ohio penitentiary in 1845-9, and subsequently connected with the Methodist Church in Cincinnati. In this volume, the author recounts the principal events of his itinerant life, including, also, many of the tragical events of border warfare as narrated to him by the survivors.” Peter G. Thomson

The Autobiography of Gurdon Saltonstall Hubbard, Pa-pa-ma-ta-be, “The Swift Walker”; with an introduction by Caroline M. McIlvaine

Chicago: Donnelley. 1911
Hubbard, Gurdon S.Go to Book

Hubbard was a teenager in Vermont in 1818 when he accepted a clerical job with the American Fur Company. He traveled to the company’s office on Mackinac Island, and then on to his assigned trading post near Fort Dearborn, where Chicago would later be founded. Hubbard traveled around the Great Lakes region a great deal, on foot or by canoe, and married a Pottawatomie woman. He eventually settled permanently in Chicago and became a successful businessman.
The book contains an excellent description of the fur trade in the Old Northwest.

You can find more works like these at the Great Lakes and state ‘Biographies & Memoirs’ pages

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