Michigan Explorers & Pioneers Tell Their Own Stories


Here are titles of first-person accounts of exploration, travel or pioneer life in early Michigan. Links to all these books are found on pages of this site, as shown below.

If you would like to find the many similar accounts for Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin or the entire Great Lakes region that are also on this site, there are two ways to find them. You can go to the History of the Great Lakes States Home Page and scroll down through the subject headings in the center column. Or you can go to any of the Michigan pages shown below and scroll to the bottom of that page, where you’ll find links to similar pages for the other states and for the Great Lakes region.


Click on the page name to open it in a new tab, and you’ll find the recommended works there, with descriptions and links. They are listed alphabetically, by author.
For tips on reading online and downloading, see the note at the bottom of this page.


Some Suggestions for Michigan


Michigan Biographies & Memoirs page

Baird, Elizabeth T., “Reminiscences of Early Days on Mackinac Island” (1898)

Cook, Darius B., Six Months among Indians, Wolves and other Wild Animals, in the Forests of Allegan County, Michigan in the Winter of 1839 and 1840 (1889)

Haviland, Laura S., A Woman’s Life-Work: Labors and Experiences of Laura S. Haviland (1882)

Jay, Charles J., My New Home in Northern Michigan and other Tales (1874)

Mevis, Daniel S., Pioneer Recollections; Semi-Historic Side Lights on the Early Days of Lansing (1911)

Nowlin, John, The Bark Covered House or, Back in the Woods Again; being a graphic and thrilling description of real pioneer life in the wilderness of Michigan (1937)

Sagatoo, Mary, Wah Sash Kah Moqua, or, Thirty-three years among the Indians (1897)

Schoolcraft, Henry R., Personal Memoirs of a Residence of Thirty Years with the Indian tribes on the American Frontiers: with brief notices of passing events, facts, and opinions, A.D. 1812 to A.D. 1842 (1851)

Tripler, Eunice H., Some Notes of Her Personal Recollections (1910)

Ward, David, The Autobiography of David Ward (1912)

Williams, Elizabeth Whitney, A Child of the Sea; and Life among the Mormons (1905)

Williams, Ephraim S., “Personal Reminiscences” (1886-1888)


Michigan Explorers and Travelers page

Henry, Alexander, Travels and Adventures in Canada and the Indian Territories, between the years 1760 and 1776 (1809)

Lindley, Jacob; Moore, Joseph and Paxson, Oliver, “Expedition to Detroit, 1793; The Quakers, the United States Commissioners, and the Proposed Treaty of Peace with the Northwestern Indian Tribes.” (1890)

Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe, Narrative Journal of Travels through the Northwestern Regions of the United States : extending from Detroit through the great chain of American lakes to the sources of the Mississippi River, performed as a member of the expedition under Governor Cass in the year 1820 (1821)

Michigan Fiction page

Kirkland, Caroline, A New Home-Who’ll Follow? Or, Glimpses of Western Life (1841)

Kirkland, Caroline, Forest Life (1842)


Michigan General History page

Burton, Clarence, ed., “Cadillac Papers” (1903-4)


Michigan Native Americans page

Frost, Frederick (Rev), Sketches of Indian Life (1904)

Kohl, Johann Georg, Kitchi-Gami: Wanderings Round Lake Superior (1860)


Michigan Religion page

Pitezel, John H., Lights and Shades of Missionary Life (1857)

Michigan Social History page

Fitzmaurice, John W., The Shanty Boy, or Life in a Lumber Camp (1889)

Perrault, Jean Baptiste, Narrative of the Travels and Adventures of a Merchant Voyager… (1909)

Schettler, Mrs. Eliza M. Scott, Lights and Shadows from Pioneer Life (1907)



Tips for Reading Online and Downloading

More than half the books on our website at History of the Great Lakes States are hosted by Internet Archive or Open Library. They are sister organizations and use the same online viewer application. In most cases this viewer will give you nearly perfect text if you;

1. switch from the double-page to the single-page view by using the icons in the bottom right corner, and;

2. Keep zooming in until the text snaps into a clear focus.

Using the single-page view allows you to scroll pages down with your mouse wheel.

You can download books from these two sites by clicking on the book name at the top-left corner of the page (in the viewer) to get to the download menu.