The Legend of the Petoskey Stone

In the WWI draft registration records, I came across several men in Michigan who have the surname Petoskey from three different counties.  Living in Michigan, I know that our state stone is the very unusual Petoskey stone (fossilized coral, shown below in polished form), and there is a city named Petoskey.  Seemed to me there had to be more to the story.  And indeed, there is.

The Petoskey stone was named for an Ottawa Indian Chief, Chief Pet-O-Sega. The city of Petoskey, Michigan, is also named after him, and is the center of the area where the stones are found. The stones are commonly found on beaches and in sand dunes, often in the springtime after the winter ice and winds deposit new stones on the shoreline.

According to legend, Chief Petosegay was the child of a descendant of French nobleman and fur trader, Antoine Carre and an Ottawa princess. Petosegay, meaning “rising sun”, “rays of dawn” or “sunbeams of promise,” was named after the rays of sun that fell upon his newborn face. In keeping with his promising name, Petosegay was a wealthy fur trader who gained much land and acclaim for himself and his tribe. He was remarked upon to have a striking and appealing appearance, and spoke English very well. He married another Ottawa, and together they had two daughters and eight sons. In the summer of 1873, a few years before the chief’s passing, a city began on his land along Little Traverse Bay. The settlers christened the newborn city Petoskey, an anglicized form of Petosegay.

You can read more about the chief and his life, at this link:

Thanks to the Fossil Lady for the Petoskey stone photo.  Visit her wonderful blog for more photos at


About Roberta Estes

Scientist, author, genetic genealogist. Documenting Native Heritage through contemporaneous records and DNA.
This entry was posted in Michigan, Ottawa. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The Legend of the Petoskey Stone

  1. petoskey mi says:

    I got 34lb stone from chain of lakes

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