Half breeds: and other half-assed half-dead half-civilized half-wits

Some day I must write a book with the above for a title, but am not sure what to put in that book. Perhaps items like the following, the story of “Indian” Johnson of Kalamazoo, found at this link

Michigan historical collections, Volume 10, By Michigan Historical Commission,
Michigan State Historical Society, Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society

Mr. A. D. P. VanBuren then delivered [1885] the following carefully prepared and valuable papers:

The following sketch of the life of “Indian” Johnson I got from the old pioneer, William Harrison, of Climax [Michigan], who not only knew Johnson, but was well acquainted with, and had lived for years a neighbor to his father, John Johnson, in Shelbyville, Shelby county, Kentucky. When Wm. Harrison, or “Uncle Billy,” as he is familiarly called, came to Climax in 1830, he found among the Indians here this white man called “Indian” Johnson. He had four wives, and was a man of importance among the Pottawattomies in this region.

Uncle Billy’s log cabin, on Climax, was a kind of a rude “Mecca,” to which his early friends here, the Indians, were accustomed to resort with offerings of berries, maple sugar, venison, and so forth. He was always on good terms with them, and says that he and his family would have starved in those early days when they could find nothing to “browse on,” had it not been for the kindness of their Pottawattomie neighbors.

He was always a favorite with them, so much so that they named him Sain-okay-maco, which means the good man. Among his particular Indian acquaintances were four brothers, Sam-o-ka, who had been a petty chief in his tribe, Not-awa, Pe-ash-y and Pe-ne-moo. These names and many others of the old Pottawattomie band were as familiar as household words to the early settlers in Climax and the region about it.

Uncle Billy soon found that “Johnson” was a white man, and strongly suspected that he was of the Kentucky family above mentioned. He wrote to his old neighbor, John Johnson, at Shelbyville, who sent two of his other sons to Climax, where they found their long lost brother — a complete Indian in all but his having been born a white child.

The facts in his life are as follows: Two of Johnson’s children had been stolen many years before from his home in Shelbyville, Kentucky, and no trace of them had ever been found. One was quite a lad, the other an infant in the cradle, whom his Indian captors must have killed, as he was never seen or heard of afterwards. The lad was kept and had thus been reared by the Indians.



Johnson, having been identified by his brothers, went back with them to his “old Kentucky home.” But he was now more Indian than white man, and, after staying some year or so, he came back to his forest home in Michigan, where he died some years afterwards. Pe-ne-moo’s squaw was Johnson’s daughter. Johnson would never join the Indians in their pow-wows, but on such occasions he would come to his friend’s, Uncle Billy’s, home. Mrs. Dr. L. W. Lovell informed the writer that Johnson at times in his talk with the settlers, seemed to feel the full sense of his lost manhood, that he was now, as compared with the whites, an inferior person — an underling.

And a feeling of sadness would come over him as he would say: “Me not Indian. Me born white. Me white man.”

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