Mackinaw City in Cheboygan County, Michigan — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
Alexander Henry 1739 - 1834
Mackinaw City Historical Pathway
In 1761 Alexander Henry from New Jersey was one of the first English traders to venture into the interior of Michigan and came here to Fort Michilimackinac.
Each summer, thousands of Indians led by their chiefs came to receive presents from the King. They also brought furs, corn, and game to trade with the local traders for blankets, clothing, powder, shot, rum, and trinkets. The Indians, essential to the fur trade, could be dangerous.
In 1763, the local Chippewa Indians surprised and captured the fort. The leader of the attack, Chief Matchekewis, lived during the summer in the village of Cheboygan, sixteen miles southeast of here.
Trader Henry lived within the stockade and his story is the only detailed report of the massacre which he wrote later in 1809 after returning to England.
In the course of dreams and visions, it was revealed to Chief Wawatam, a local Indian chief, that later in life he would adopt a white man as perhaps a son, friend or brother. Wawatam thought that, through his guiding spirit, Henry was that person. Henry did live part of the time with Wawatam and his family.
About a week after the attack, the Indians, about 350 men, women, and children, decided to cross over to Mackinac Island. Wawatam and his family, in which Henry was included, also moved to the island. While there the Indians acquired some rum which they had taken from the traders and began to drink. Fearing Henry's safety, Wawatam led him out of camp by night to the interior of the Island to a place called Skull Cave; Henry stayed there until Wawatam brought him back to camp.
That winter Henry accompanied Wawatam and his family to the vicinity of the city of Ludington where he hunted and trapped with Wawatam and his sons. In the spring, they returned back to Fort Michilimackinac. All was not well yet; a band of Indians arrived from the Saginaw Bay area and upon learning of Henry's presence, proposed to kill him. To escape such a fate, Wawatam took Henry to the Les Cheneaux Islands northeast of St. Ignace. From there, Wawatam would send Henry to Sault Ste. Marie for his safety.
Alexander Henry later went to England and wrote about his experiences here in the Straits area. Born in New Jersey in 1739, he lived 85 years.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Colonial Era • Forts and Castles • Native Americans. A significant historical year for this entry is 1761.
Location. 45° 47.203′ N, 84° 43.668′ W. Marker is in Mackinaw City, Michigan, in Cheboygan County. Marker is at the intersection of North Huron Avenue and Henry Street, on the right when traveling west on North Huron Avenue. Marker is at the southeast corner of Alexander Henry Park. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 518 North Huron Avenue, Mackinaw City MI 49701, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Alexander Henry Park Kiosk (here, next to this marker); Building Mighty Mac (within shouting distance of this marker); Graveyard of the Deep (within shouting distance of this marker); Crossroads of the Great Lakes (within shouting distance of this marker); Shipwrecks in the Straits (within shouting distance of this marker); Marine & Weather Reporter (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Fog Signal Station (about 500 feet away); Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Mackinaw City.
Also see . . . History Carved in Wood. Article about wooden sculptures (Submitted on October 17, 2019, by Joel Seewald of Madison Heights, Michigan.)
Credits. This page was last revised on October 17, 2019. It was originally submitted on October 17, 2019, by Joel Seewald of Madison Heights, Michigan. This page has been viewed 78 times since then and 10 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on October 17, 2019, by Joel Seewald of Madison Heights, Michigan.