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1820 Delafield

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 herbarium.

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 place.

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. McComb.

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 Chien.

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 nature.

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.

See Also:

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.