Old trails in Coldwater Township



(July 26, con’t.) When I visit the Oak Grove Cemetery I sometimes like to get a few photos from the old bridge across the Coldwater River, too. This bridge is now blocked off for vehicles but it’s not hard to climb over the guardrails to walk on it. And a footpath is still left open for pedestrians.

I always assumed the old bridge is pretty close to where the original Chicago Road crossed the river. Today I examined the plat maps, and determined that the crossing was at this very location at least since the early 1870s.

But what about the 1830s? And what about 1825, when Black Hawk came through on his way back from Fort Malden to do some business at Patrick Marantette’s post on the west (left) bank? Where did he and his people ford the river?

I had never before thought to check the original land surveyors’ plat maps that are online at the BLM web site. In some other townships that I have looked at they have shown exactly where the Sauk Trail was in relation to the Chicago Road that was surveyed in the mid 1820s. So I went to check the maps for Coldwater Township, Branch County.


Unfortunately, neither of the surveyors who platted Coldwater Township showed that information.

There are two surveyors, because the first survey was done before the Mickasawbe reservation was ceded to the United States. A portion of the plat of the pre-cession part is shown to the left above, partly overlaid on a part of the reservation plat, which was made a few years later.

For reference, I’ve drawn in the location of a portion of I69 (in blue) and the Chicago Road (in yellow). The location of the McCarty grave, and what I’ve often thought the most likely location of the Marantette trading post, is shown by a red dot. The Chicago Road continues on from there to the southwest, but that part has been modified a bit over the years and was too much trouble to draw in. A small bit of it is noted by the surveyor, though, where it crosses section lines. You’ll probably have to click on the map to get a larger image to see that detail.

My wildest hope in looking at these plats was to find that the surveyors not only marked the location of the Indian trail but of the trading post itself. But unfortunately, they didn’t mark either of these things.

It is interesting, though, that in section 23 the surveyor marked the location of some “Indian improvements.” Did the treaty stipulate that an extra payment would be made for such improvements? The Treaty of 1827 by which this land was ceded makes no mention of it. The Treaty of 1828 made in the following year does mention such a thing in one of its articles.

Circumstances rendering it probable that the missionary establishment now located upon the St. Joseph, may be compelled to remove west of the Mississippi, it is agreed that when they remove, the value of their buildings and other improvements shall be estimated, and the amount paid by the United States.

But the 1828 treaty referred to different lands to the west, closer to Lake Michigan. So that doesn’t explain why the surveyor took the trouble to note these structures. It’s even more remarkable because they didn’t even lie on a section line.

One reason I’m interested in any such details in this part of Coldwater township is because early settlers and travelers wrote about two trading posts, one to the west (near where McCarty’s gravestone is now), and one on the east end of the prairie. I sometimes joke about a Wal-Mart having taken the place of the 2nd trading post. IIRC, the Wal-Mart is south of the quarter-section in which the “improvements” were located. Inside that quarter-section is not a Wal-Mart, yet it still is a land of shopping stores and parking lots. I think a Cabella’s is one of the newer additions.

So I still don’t know why the surveyor noted those structures, but I’m glad he did, even if the place is not going to be high on my list of bicycling destinations. Besides, I’ve already been there. My youngest son and I stopped at one of those stores on a tour in June 2000 so we could pick up some rain clothes for him.

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  • Carter Marantette

    John…great blog….I get snippets from Google alert….I am a decedant of Patrick Marantette……love to get any info on the Marantette name. I think he donated land to what is now Notre Dame Univ…..they have quite a bit in their archives…..if you ever get down that way…..cheers, Carter

  • Spokesrider


    Thanks for stopping by. One of the best things about this project is meeting descendants, whether online or in person.

    I have not yet checked the archives at Notre Dame, though that has long been on my to-do list. I have looked at the materials at the Michigan State Archives, including some family correspondence regarding a son’s schooling, IIRC. I think I made photocopies of quite a bit of what was there, though not of everything. It has been quite a while since I had that folder out.


  • John,

    You should share your bridge pictures with


  • Spokesrider

    Ken, I’ve been meaning to do that, but just haven’t got that far yet. There are disadvantages to having a full time job, it seems. Maybe it would help if you’d tell me that when I’m retired, I’ll have more time than I know what to do with!

    I see that the US-12 bridge IS already listed at bridgehunter.com, but some photos are needed. I have better photos than the one in this blog article. And I took some more photos yesterday.

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