Joseph Delafield [1790-1875] was the Agent for the American team
of surveyors trying to settle the important questions of boundaries
between the United States and Canada which were left vague in the Treaty
of 1783. Delafield wrote most of the documents which give the official
history of the survey. The following is not from the official report but
from his diary.
June 28...Pitch our tents on the first high or dry land we come to, which is a lot of Mr. Cooke's three miles above Detroit.
Thursday, June 29. Clear & very pleasant. Thermo. at
noon, 91degrees. Wind S.E. Remain in camp. The whole party sleep in camp
this night. Mr. Bird sets a station on Lake St. Clair. On the beach
find a variety of rolled primitive stones, which are singularly
deposited at this end of Lake St. Clair only - Similar petrifactions of
shells & roots to those found below are also here.
Friday, June 30. Clear & very pleasant. Wind S.E. Remain in camp.
Saturday, July 1. Clear and pleasant. Remain in camp.
Sunday, July 2. Clear and very warm. Dine in Detroit with
Doctr Delavan, the gentlemen from camp, and Gen'l McComb form the party.
Monday, July 3. Dine in Detroit with Genl. McComb. The
gentlemen from camp, of the garrison, and Mrs. Cass & Biddle form
the party. Return at night to the camp.
Tuesday, July 4. At 10 o'clock a.m. leave Detroit in the
steam boat Walk in the Water on a jaunt of pleasure with a large party
of ladies & gentlemen, to celebrate the day in mirth and festivity.
About one hundred and fifty persons of both sexes comprise the party.
Proceed into Lake St. Clair, but on account of threatening showers put
about and run down the Detroit River, toward Malden. Sit down to an
excellent dinner at four o'clock. The military band enables the party to
join in the dance. Cotillions are danced with the same ease and grace
as in our own part of the country and for politeness and good conduct in
every particular, this party could not be surpassed in the most
polished parts of the States. Salutes were fired from the boat, and the
toasts reechoed from the mouth of the cannon. The day was passed in
great mirth, and with entire satisfaction to every person. Return to
Detroit after sunset. Pass the evening at Genl. McComb's, & he
obliges us with the use of his waggon to return to camp at night.
Messrs. Bird, De Russy & self return in the waggon to camp.
Wednesday, July 5. Rains throughout the day. Wind N.E. & E.
Davis, one of the men, complains of being very ill. Send for
Dr. Delavan who prescribes for him. His disease pleurisy. Bleeding and a
large dose of salts soon restore him.
In the evening to go Detroit to Mrs. Biddle's. She gives us a
pleasant little party, a dance on the carpet. The ladies of the
garrison and Mrs. Govr. Cass are there. Remain at night in the garrison,
accepting the friendly proffer of beds &c. from Doctr. Delavan.
Accept an invitation from Mrs. Cass to pass Friday evening at her house.
Also for the gentlemen of the camp.
Thursday, July 6. Remain in camp. In the afternoon Gen'l and Mrs. McComb & Majr. Stockton and Mrs. Biddle visit us in camp.
Breakfasted this morning with Majr. Stockton and returned to the camp shortly after breakfast.
Friday, July 7. Remain in and about the camp during the day.
Gather several of the wild flowers of Michigan, and place them in my
Spend the evening with Governor and Mrs. Cass. She invites a
large party to meet us. Dance on the carpet & cards pass of the
evening very pleasantly. Return to camp the same night about 1 o'clock.
Saturday, July 8. Go to Detroit in the morning with Fraser
and Bird. Return visits to Genl. McComb, Mrs. Govr. Cass, Col. Larned,
Mrs. Biddle, Brooks & Mellen, & the gentlemen of the garrison.
Return to camp to dinner.
Sunday, July 9. Remain in the camp. In the afternoon Gen'l
McComb, Majrs. Stockton & Chunn take wine with us & remain 'til
supper. The whole party at home.
Monday, July 10. In the morning accompany Mr. DeRussy to Hog
Island, he to delineate, I to explore the shores for minerals. Find
petrifactions, madrepores, shells, a silicious pudding stone, and some
primitive amorphous rocks of granite and slate, all however out of
In the afternoon Col. Larned & Majr. Stockton, Mrs.
Biddle, & Mr. & Mrs. Keyser, Mr. & Mrs. Jones & Misses
Gleason and Spenser visit us in camp.
Tuesday, July 11. Some petty thefts having been committed in
camp we muster all the men, and after proper explanations search their
persons and tents. Find nothing. The men all assented to the search and
expressed an anxiety to detect the rogue.
Mr. McStorky and Mr. Elliot spend the evening in camp.
Wednesday, July 12. Dine in Detroit with Majr. Stockton, most of the gentlemen of the garrison dine with him.
Spend the evening at Mrs. Jones', who invites the ladies of Detroit to meet us.
Sleep in the garrison at Dr. Delavan's quarters.
The steam boat arrives this afternoon, with a few passengers, &c.
Invite the officers of the garrison to dine with us in camp on Friday.
Thursday, July 13. Remain in Detroit til noon making
preparations for the dinner party tomorrow. At noon return to camp.
Learn from Capt. Rodgers of the steam boat that the Red Jacket had
sailed from Black Rock and might be looked for daily, that vessel having
been employed for the surveys in Lake Huron.
Friday, July 14. Rains throughout most of the day. Genl.
McComb, Maj'rs Stockton, Baker, Chunn, Caps. Farley, Cass, Messrs.
Mellen, Brodhies, Davis, Delavan, Majr. Stanton, Col. Larned, and the
British officers from Amherstburg, viz: Col. Hawkins, Capt. Portlock,
Doctr.. Tenant and Mrs. Black dine with us in camp.
In the evening the officers of the garrison at Detroit give
us a dance. We pass the evening very pleasantly and retire between 1
& 2 o'clock. I take up my quarters with Doctor Delavan. The British
officers find beds at the General's, Major Stockton's & the Doctors.
Saturday, July 15. The storm continues and detains me in
Detroit. Our friends from Amherstburg are under the necessity of
returning, and about 1 o'clock we ride to the ferry house two miles
below Detroit, where we are overtaken by a very heavy storm. I remain
with them until 3 o'clock when I'm obliged to leave them to reach the
steam boat before she sails. Drive to the steam boat and request Capt.
Rodgers to take the British officers on board, who agrees to come for
them, and sends them an invitation to take passage home. Dine with
Doct'r Delavan and in the afternoon return to the camp.
Sunday, July 16. Clear and pleasant. Remain in camp throughout the day.
In the afternoon the Indians bring us a mosquenonge of 30
cwt., with other fish. Send the mosquenonge as a present to Genl.
Monday, July 17. Clear and pleasant. Dine with Gen'l McComb,
who entertains a party of officers of the 3d Inf'y and others. Mr. Bird
& myself dine with them. On arriving at Detroit find that our
schooner, the Red Jacket, had just arrived. Go on board and find her a
conveniently arranged and a commodious vessel - Clinton arrives in the
Red Jacket. Pass a pleasant afternoon at Genl. McComb's and return to
camp in the evening. Genl. McComb presents me with a handsome specimen
of strontian and a pair of bear's feet dried. Capt. Whiting presents me
with a splendid chrystal of lead found in a mine work'd by the Fox &
Sac's Indians 60 miles below Prairie du Chien, ore from same mine and
some lesser chrystals on the matrix, also with some beautiful
carnelians, agates & jaspers from the Mississippi near Prairie de
Detroit is filled with officers who have come from Green Bay
& other places, to attend a ct. martial to be held for the trial of
Col. Smith of the 3d Infy.
Tuesday, July 18. Remain in camp until afternoon. About 2
o'clock the Red Jacket comes to off the camp. Go on board and find the
steerage of the vessel stored with provisions on account of the master,
which he was desirous to take to Mackinaw.
Consider the same as inconvenient on board, and request them landed, which the master immediately makes arrangements to do.
Messrs. Stevenson, DeRussy, and myself go to Detroit in the
afternoon to dine with Majr. Biddle, who entertains a large party of
officers, mostly of the 3d Infy, Col. Smith & Lawrence, Maj'rs
Baker, Chunn, Stockton, &c. &c.
In the evening return to camp. During our absence some preparation had been made to get camp equipage on board the Red Jacket.
Wednesday, July 19. All hands employed in getting camp
equipage on board the Red Jacket. By 11 o'clock a.m. everything is on
board, and a head-wind only detains us. All the gentlemen but myself go
to Detroit to make purchases and take leave. I remain on board the
vessel, and having had all matters comfortably arranged, spend the
afternoon writing letters for probably the last time this season, as our
voyage onward will carry me beyond the means of communication of this
Thursday, July 20. Continue wind bound on board the Red
Jacket, lying off our encamping grounds in readiness to proceed. In the
afternoon Mr. Bird and myself go to Detroit to make our take leave
visits, and a few purchases. Return to the vessel by sun set on the
appearance of a change wind, but it dies away and the rain and calm
succeed - write to Genl. Porter and give my letters to Mr. Cooke, our
camp neighbor, with a request that he would have them delivered to Capt.
Rodgers of the steam boat Walk in the Water.
Gen'l McComb brings with him from Grosse Isle some very
handsome specimens of chrystals of strontian and presents me with a fine
handsome cabinet specimen, one of its chrystals being more than one
inch in width, and the whole group large and transparent.
Take leave of all friends in Detroit, who are all entitled
to gratitude and reciprocation of civilities from the kindness and
hospitality with which we have been received and treated. Gen'l McComb,
Majr. & Mrs. Biddle, Mrs. Govr. Cass, Majr. Stockton, Doctor
Delavan, and all the gentlemen of the garrison are particularly to be
remembered. Col. and Mrs. Larned & Mr. & Mrs. Jones of the
citizens have added to the pleasures of our pastime in Detroit.
Friday, July 21. Clear and pleasant. Wind S.W. About sunrise get under way in the Red Jacket from the Detroit River.
From: THE UNFORTIFIED BOUNDARY: A DIARY OF THE FIRST SURVEY OF THE CANADIAN BOUNDARY LINE FROM ST. REGIS TO THE LAKE OF THE WOODS
by Major Joseph Delafield, American Agent under Articles VI and VII of
the Treaty of Ghent. Edited by Robert McElroy and Thomas Riggs.
Privately Printed in New York, 1943: 277 -281.
McElroy, Robert and Thomas Riggs. Introduction to Unfortified Boundary: 4-131.
Nute, Grace Lee. Knights of the Waterways. Beaver [Canada] 1967 298 (Summer): 11-17.
Scheuer, Michael F. Deadlock: Charting the Canadian-American Boundary on the Detroit River. Michigan History 1983 67 (2): 24-31.