Biddle Letter 1837

State of Michigan
County of Michilimackinac

John Beaubien of said County of full age, this day made oath before me and saith that he has resided in Mackinac for the last twenty three years, and has known Edward Biddle and Agatha Biddle for upwards of twenty years, or thereabouts; that Mrs. Biddle is an Ottawa Woman, of full blood, very charitable and kind in disposition and ever since her marriage in the year 1818 has had a large number of Indians, belonging to the ceded district, as inmates in her house; that deponent has been very intimate with the said Mrs. Biddle, and had considerable access to her house at all times, and was perfectly conversant with all that transpired therein; that deponent has very seldom, probably never, known Mrs. Biddle being without some Indians, to a greater or less amount in her kitchen and about her private house; that such inmates were supplied with food, lodging and fuel, when sick they were nursed, furnished with medicines and with a Doctor, if necessary, all of which was done by Mrs. Biddle; that as an instance deponent recollects, that an Ottawa Chief of Sandy River who got his arm or shoulder broken or dislocated about the year 1823 was received into Mrs. Biddle's house, was there attended by Doctor Burmont (Beaumont?) at the request and expense of Mr. and Mrs. Biddle and remained sick three or four weeks during which he was nursed and received every attention from Mrs. Biddle; that about the year 1825, in the Fall, Mocomanas, a L'Arbre Croche Chief, brought his family to Mackinac, consisting of altogether seven or eight members, to procure medical aid for one of his sons, whose leg had afterward to be amputated; that this family remained until the Spring ensuing, nominally inhabiting their lodge, but in reality living at and supported in the family by Mrs. Biddle, and especially remaining in the house at night, and during this time the sick boy was nursed and received every attention; that at different times, sick and helpless females, have been received into the house and supported; that funeral services have been rendered to many individuals, coffins made for them, shrouds and funeral garments provided, graves dug and the corpses carried there and interred, by said Mrs. Biddle's husband and at their expense; that these instances were so numerous, the deponent cannot tell the precise number, but is positive that there was at least from forty to fifty deponent has himself with Mr. Biddle's men assisted at some of these internments; that during Mr. Boyd's agency there was no Government provisions for interring Indians, and they were wholly dependant on the charity of Individuals, or to a greater degree so; that a large quantity of fire wood was annually laid in for the use of Mrs. Biddle's house, which was at all times freely used by the Indians, who are very wasteful in the use thereof, having open lodges, and being accustomed to large fires and the free use of woods in their own locations, that their fires are maintained day and night, they being more dependant thereon for the heat, than in clothing. that it is not uncommon for Indians to burn half a cord of wood during the twenty hours in one fireplace, that frequently the Indians have maintained three fires at the same time out of said wood pile, and deponent fixes a modest estimate in the amount of wood consumed each week during the entire year at two cords, and is positive that quantity was actually consumed.

That Mrs. Biddle has maintained and brought up an Indian orphan girl, named Yow-as-o-quay - the child of an Indian called Keshawa, and Ottawa from he North of Grand River that she was taken in about sixteen years ago, then only about four years of age; that she has been clothed, fed and educated and instructed in all respects like Mrs. Biddle's own children; that she has never been out of Mrs. Biddle's family ever since, and is not related to her; that Mrs. Biddle also brought up another child of [an] Indian woman, whose parents were both dead, that she was about five years old when taken in, and remained for six years, when she was received into the Mackinac Mission, that the father of said child was a Negro and the mother a full Indian, and she was a destitute and forlorn child, an object deserving charity, and she received the care and attention as one of Mrs. Biddle's own children.

That the persons entertained in and about Mrs. Biddle's house were so numerous that deponent could not fix the precise number thereof, but he is of opinion that two hundred persons annually would be a small estimate; that Mrs. Biddle's kindness encouraged many to come, that deponent has sometimes known twenty or thirty at a time who have remained more or less according to circumstances, some would be detained by ice, more by wind; their time of sojourn varied from two to eight days. that deponent in speaking of the above charities has reference to the acts of Mrs. Biddle and her husband, distinct from those of Biddle and Drew, or any firm, that the services were purely personal and rendered in and about Mrs. Biddle's own house; that all of them were gratuitous and charitable, never paid for or otherwise compensated and many of the objects on whom they were expended were destitute and forlorn. that the food supplied was pork, fish, flour, corn and such like which the Indians helped themselves to out of the private barrels of Mr. Biddle;

That deponent is not and never was in the employment of Mr. Biddle and that all said services were rendered on the Island of Mackinac.

Charles Beaubien

Sworn and subscribed before me this 16th day of October AD 1837
J.P. King Justice of the Peace