Real Murder on Madeline Island

Madeline Island today is a safe, friendly place, but in its long history there have been real murders, such as the one described in a Madeline Island Museum blog post by Margaretta Kusch in 2014.   Here’s what happened.   In 1760, a servant murdered a trader and his wife and child, who had stayed at the fort after the other traders had gone for the winter.  In spring when the other traders came back, the servant claimed the family had left and he didn’t know where they’d gone.  The Indians became suspicious, however, and drove sharp stakes into the ground around the fort until they found three soft spots.  Digging down, they discovered the bodies.  The servant was arrested and taken in an Indian canoe to Montreal to be tried for murder.  On the way, the Indians held a dance. Each dancer struck a post and boasted about his triumphs.  The servant, caught up in the spirit of the dance, described in detail how he had killed the trader and his family.   The next day the outraged chief said, “We boast of having killed our enemies – never our friends.”  Justice was swift.  The murderer did not survive to stand trial. “An Incident of Chegoimegon, 1760is from the “Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin”, Vol. VIII, 1908.  It was originally published in the Detroit Gazette, Aug. 30, 1822.