The 1836 Census of Ottawa and Chippewa Halfbreeds is quite an interesting document. The purpose was to determine who was to be paid and how much as a result of an 1836 Treaty with the Ottawa and Chippewa wherein they expressed a desire to take care of their “halfbreed relatives.’ Article 6 of the Treaty calls for such.
This census is the result.
It contains a lot of detail: where the applicant lived, the amount of Native “blood,” how much money, by category, they were to receive, and paid to whom. What is doesn’t necessarily tell us is which of their parents or grandparents were Native. In some cases, a little bit of sleuthing and some deductive reasoning can tell us a lot.
For example, let’s look at the case of Corestie Barry, age 6 and sibling James Smith Barry, age 1. The 1836 census tells us that they are half Chippewa, the children of George Barry and they live with him in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Neither George Barry, nor his wife appear on the census, so one of them must be full blooded Native and one non-Indian, probably white. The two children were approved to receive funds, received $95.14 each, payable to George Barry. These folks probably wished they had half a dozen kids.
With a little luck, we should be able to find these folks in the 1850 census, but alas, neither George nor Corestie seem to be alive. We don’t know the mother’s name, but no female Barry is listed in the census. Sault St. Marie is at the confluence of two Great Lakes and Michigan with Canada, so finding James Barry, age 16, living with a family whose head lists his occupation of “voyager” is not surprising. It’s not at all unlikely that James became a voyager too. We don’t find him in 1860 or 1870. The Great Lakes are a harsh mistress.
There were two other children by the Barry same surname, born in 1836 and 1837, also living with other families. We’ve hit a dead end.
Aitkin Bayard’s record was different. He was age 7, lived at “Grand River”, half Ottawa, son of Michael Bayard “by a Grand River Squaw.” He received $305.89, a huge sum of money at that time.
Many of these applicants have European given and surnames. Even as late as 1870, most of the Chippewa and Ottawa in Michigan were still using Native names. You can clearly see this pattern on the Durant Rolls, taken in 1908 and required to connect back to someone enrolled in either tribe in 1870. http://www.mainlymichigan.com/nativedata/DurantRoll/FullCensus.aspx
The fact that these “halfbreed” names were European is of itself a hint as to which parent was not Native, although reading through these cases, that is clearly not always the true. Admixture is not new in this generation either, as some parents are noted as mixed themselves which in many cases puts their birth back before 1800. While Michigan was not settled in 1800, there were clearly fur traders and trappers, mostly French, who frequented the region, especially via the Great Lakes.
This census, since there are often notes, tells us about how much migration was occurring. There were several people born in Canada and many others living outside the area. One man was “on a mission,” but he was approved regardless. I surely wonder what kind of mission he was on in 1836. Many people from varying tribes appear to be living with tribes not their own. Far more intermingling occurred that what we presume before the days of mass and easy transportation. It appears not to have stopped people, maybe just slowed them down a mite.