Fort Hogan and Rogue Rumble Strips



This front yard is in the extreme northwest corner of Colon Township, St. Joseph County, Michigan. In May 1832 settlers started building a fort here to protect themselves from Indians. There were fears that Black Hawk’s people would invade Michigan, and some people were also afraid of what the local Potawatomi people might do. The Nottawasepe reservation was adjacent to this piece of property.

I’ve told about Fort Hogan before, once when I quoted from one of the participants in the construction (William Conner and Fort Hogan). Here is an excerpt from the reminiscences of another of the participants, Lorancie Schellhous. The full text is here at St. Joseph County’s genweb site, along with a photo of Mr. Schellhous.

Those behind thought best to build a fort, we had a meeting, for that purpose, agreed to build a picket fence to be twelve feet about the ground to plough and take the trees to build a breastwork inside breast high. I was chosen to select the pickets and help load, when commenced hauling we worked hard for a few days, I had to leave my family at home. We did not feel much alarmed. Some of the inhabitants of the county left, went to Detroit, after a few days news came that the Indians were stopped, did not come as far as Chicago. Then we gave up building the fort.

The road that can be seen as a thin line in the background is M-66, which here follows the west boundary of Colon Township. It’s a good one for riding, with extra wide shoulders for Amish buggies. Unfortunately I don’t seem to have a photo showing just how wide those shoulders are.

Several months ago, this area was in the local news because the Michigan Department of Transportation had spent $20,000 to put in 20 miles worth of rumble strips on state roads, including this one it seems. (Somehow I managed never to get to this exact stretch of road last summer.) Then it paid $275,000 to fill them in after an Amish man complained that it made the roads more dangerous. (News story about it here.)

My ears perk up whenever I heard about rumble strips being installed, because they are often a menace to bicyclers, especially when they are installed contrary to federal guidelines (which is too often the case). While these particular ones near Fort Hogan were not dangerous to bicycles, as far as I know, I like to keep track of success stories in getting problems remedied. In discussing this issue on the Internet Bicycle Touring List, I learned that the League of Michigan Bicyclists has actually been successful in getting some dangerous rumble strips filled back in. I’m not much of a joiner, but I decided to join that group if for no other reason than to help rid the bicycling world of rogue rumble strips.

(The photo above was taken on the 2nd day of an overnight tour on July 15-1, 2006.)

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  • John,

    I contacted you in 2008 about Chief White Pigeon and his run from Detroit to Millville (WP) being around 1830. There is a Mormon record that you can see on the internet by Googling “Mormon” “Chief White Pigeon”. That record is from 1831 and states, “at White Pigeon Prairie, and saw the rising ground where the Indian chief lies buried, whose name has been given to the place”. An educational academy and the federal land office also were named for White Pigeon in 1831.

    I had lunch with one of his relatives a month ago, and the 1832 reference may be to a relative or another Potawatomi or Ottawa with a similar name. I wrote a screenplay for a movie based on the story of Chief White Pigeon and other history and characters from the time period. Some of the characters are Cass, Tipton, Pepper, numerous Potawatomi chiefs and Patrick Marantette.

    I’ve read most of your blog and am quite jealous. I used to be an avid cyclist, road racer and even a messenger in San Francisco. A health problem that might be caused by too many miles in the big ring has kept me from riding for several years.

    Really enjoy your website, obviously.

  • Spokesrider

    Hi, Scott. I’ve been to White Pigeon many times, and have visited the land office and the site of that old academy, but have managed never to stop at the marker commemorating White Pigeon. I’ve seen it as I’ve driven by, though.

    There was a Potawatomi leader in Illinois who rode back and forth between settlers’ homes warning them to go to safety in May 1832, at the time of the Black Hawk war. He didn’t kill himself in the effort, but his own people did not appreciate his relationship with the Americans, and the American settlers managed to cheat him out of the land that had been reserved for him as a reward for his help. The story goes that they did it while he was away trying to mend relations with his Potawatomi relatives. There is a town and a state park named for him now. His name was Shabonna.

    Thanks for the source of that story about White Pigeon in 1830. I’ve often wondered where that came from.

    I never got into road racing like you did, and now I ride more slowly than ever, especially with all my photo stops. I was sick this past week and a few days ago (last time I tried) couldn’t even run on the elliptical machine. It made me wonder about what happens when/if I can’t ride any more. I hope that day is a long ways off.