A History of the Rice Lake Indians by Mary Jane Muskratte Simpson
Essay by Catherine Franklin
The following Essay was written by Catherine Franklin about 1887. She was then a pupil in the Eighth Grade at the Alderville Public School. It won second prize in the County Contest:
"In connection of the recent unveiling of the memorial portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Case of Alderville church recently the following essay, written by an Indian girl more than forty years ago will be of interest. This essay, by Catherine C. Franklin, of Alderville, won the county prize for Northumberland County at that time".
Essay: I am an Indian girl of about sixteen years of age, but when I think that my fore-fathers have been civilized only about sixty years, of course, while I try to write for a prize my readers will not expect of me more than they would of a white girl of twelve or fourteen years of age. My village, viz.; Alderville in the township of Alderville Alnwick, the county of Northumberland, and Province of Ontario, came to receive its name in the following way:
In the year 1825, when my Indian forefathers were brought from darkness to the light of the Gospel by the Rev. Wm. Case and Peter Jones; the two first converts were John Sunday and Wm. Beaver, who labored amongst their own people, amongst whom some mighty revivals have taken place. They immediately formed a settlement on Grape Island below Belleville, an Island containing about twelve acres, where about twenty-five houses were built, and also a log church 30 x 20 in which school was also kept until a new school house was built. The Indians made every effort to encourage their children in acquiring an education. The Indians also built a large workshop where mechanics were employed to teach the young men trades, such as carpentering, shoeing, and tailoring. Mrs. Case took charge of the girls, showing them the art of housekeeping; consequently the Indians made great progress in the way of cultivating the land.
Mr. Case called a council of the land to consult as to the best method of procuring a larger tract of land. It was therefore agreed to send the Chief and two others to the commissions of Indian affairs and from him to the Governor General through whom they got a grant from the Government of three thousand acres situated in the township of Alnwick. Five young men were sent to view the land. When they returned they reported that the land was good. As a result in the year 1833 a company of forty started with their axes, arriving on the reserve they commenced chopping a share of twenty acres wide and about one and a half miles long. A saw mill was built the first year to saw lumber to build forty houses. The first sawyer that ran the mill was Mr. Thackeray, the father of the present John Thackeray now Indian Agent of this band. In the year 1834 a final settlement was made. In the year 1833 the Rev. Robert Alder from England viewed the village and called it after his own name. Ever since it has gone by the name of Alderville.
When the Indians settled on the reserve they numbered over five thousand. Of those only eleven are now living who moved from Grape Island, viz.; the Rev. Alan Salt, the Rev. Henry Chase, George Blaker, George Comego, Francis Beaver, Mitchell Chubb, Thomas Marsden, Peggy James, Sarah Ann Franklin, Mary Simpson, and Ellen Shippegaw. The present number of Indians now living on the reserve, however numbers only about two hundred.
Mr. Case, just before he died, expressed a wish to be buried with his Indian people. Accordingly his remains to-day lie in our Indian cemetery west of our village. The Ministers and Indians have together erected a beautiful monument over his tomb on which the following inscription may be found: "Sacred to the memory of the Rev. William Case, the father of Canadian Methodist Missions to the Indians". There is also in our church a tablet erected in his memory on which is inscribed the following words: "Erected by the Alderville Indians in grateful memory of the Rev. William Case, who died in Peace, October 19 th, 1855, aged 76 years, 'He being dead yet speaketh."
Since the Rev. Mr. Case's death our village has still been making good progress. We have had some good Missionaries and school teachers that I can remember and to whom I went to school, they are as follows:
1. Miss Williams. She was about 26 years of age, but I do not remember much about her.
2. Miss Sanderson. She was about 30 years of age.
3. Miss Hyndsman. She was about 30 years of age.
4. Mr. Wellington Salt. He was a very good teacher. He was kind and good-looking, and was well-liked by his pupils. He has since found his way into the ministry as Missionary to the Indians at Turtle Mountain, Dakota.
5. Miss Cross. She was about 25 years of age. She was only here about five months. She was the daughter of a Methodist missionary, and left to become the wife of another.
The Missionaries I can remember are:
1. The Rev. Wm. Andrews. Of him I have very little remembrance.
2. The Rev. Robert Brooking. He was here for a long time and was liked by all the Indians.
3. The Rev. George Jacques. He remained with us until he finished his active work in the Ministry and was superannuated.
4. The Rev. Jos. C. Bell. He was Missionary to the Indians only two years. It was under him our Mission was merged with the white work.
5. The Rev. John Davis.
6. The Rev. John Lawrence. He is our present Missionary.
Supplementing these remarks, I would like to say that on the appointment of the Rev. Mr. Bell five years ago, our Alderville Indian Mission was put in with the white work and was called to an appointment on the Fenella and Alderville circuit. They wanted their own Missionary as in the days gone by. Accordingly, they made application to the proper head men and our present Missionary, who does the double duty of Missionary and teacher, was sent to us. I attend his school. I think he is about the best teacher I ever went to. Under his tuition I am trying to learn all I can, and I want to try for the prize. Of course you will not refuse to give it to me because I am an Indian girl if I write this essay which I will try to do though of course I may fail in the attempt.
We in our village now have a very nice, neat frame church with tower and bell, in which we have a nice pipe organ, a beautiful pulpit, matted aisles. We pay our organist $40.00 a year, and our sexton $60.00. Our Missionary is paid by the Methodist Missionary Society, which has done so much for our Ontario Indians. We have also a beautiful brick building, which includes both council hall and schoolhouse, the latter on the ground floor and the former in the upper storey. In our hall can be seen a large photographic picture of our Indian and also a much larger one of our Canadian Premier, Sir. John A. Macdonald, both in gilt frames. We have also in it a cabinet organ for the use of our people at concerts and Indian feasts. We have also a beautiful two storey residence for our Missionary with a nice shady lawn in front and only a few steps from both school house and church. Our church and school ground are both enclosed with wire fence in front. We have also a splendid brass band of 12 instruments, all played by Indian young men.
Our present Chief is Mr. Mitchell Chubb, one of the names formerly mentioned among those who came with his people from Grape Island. He is one of the class teachers in our Indian church, and a man most respected by his people. The names of the members of our Indian council are Messrs. Thomas Marsden, Hiram Beaver, and Wm. Beaver; Mr. Wm. Loukes secretary. If our village and the Indians continue to make as much progress for the next twenty-five years as they have done for the same number of years in the past, I will be safe in saying that they will become intelligent and influential citizens, and should I happen to fail in my present effort I will look forward to the time when some of the children of our rising generation will be able to compete with Canada's white children, in writing for a prize." Catherine C. Franklin, Alderville, Ontario.