Michigan Pioneers Tell Their Own Stories – Life on the Frontier

Descriptions by Michigan pioneers of their life on the frontier during the early days of Michigan settlement. Free online diaries, journals and memoirs by explorers, missionaries, and pioneer settlers.

If you would like to find similar accounts for Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin or the entire Great Lakes region that are also on this website, there are two ways to find them. You can go to the History of the Great Lakes States Directory 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.

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

These books by Caroline Kirkland books are lightly fictionalized accounts of her real pioneer experiences in Michigan.

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)

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