Friday, 11 December 2020

Part Three of Three - John Baptist Askin (1788-1869) - The Askin Family's Connection to Detroit, 1700s-1800s

Part Three - Disclaimer: My references to the writings of other people--including Indigenous, Non-Indigenous and African American--do not in any way imply that they share my views on this matter.  The opinions expressed here are my own, and do not necessarily represent those of my family, friends or associates.

Part Three - Acknowledgements: A number of people--in London, Ontario, Canada and elsewhere--assisted me in the development of this three-part post series, not only in terms of the content, but also with technological matters relating to Google Blogger's new interface.  Because of the controversial nature of some aspects of the subject matter, I have concluded it is probably best not to thank them all here.  Their help was deeply appreciated, but any errors or omissions are mine.

Part Three - Sally Ainse (1728-1823) and Lisette Denison (1786-1866)

The research I did this year (2020) has led me to conclude it was not just a simple matter of Askin Sr and Jr being disreputable people.  Their behaviour, although reprehensible by today's standards, was common during the time period.

An Oneida/Shawnee trader and diplomat named Sally Ainse (1728-1823), and a former business associate of Askin Sr, profited from trafficking both Indigenous and Black slaves.  Askin Sr was one of the people she held an account with while she prospered as a successful Detroit independent trader.  She wore European clothes, owned two homes and was served by four slaves.  

In 1787, she moved to Upper Canada where she engaged in land transactions with Indigenous tribes and British officials.  In 1794, she acted as a go-between for Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant (Thayendanegaea) (1742/43-1807) in his negotiations with some Western Indigenous tribes during the aftermath of the Battle of Fallen Timbers.

John Graves Simcoe (1752-1806) was the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada from 1791 until 1796.  He initially took Ainse's concerns seriously, but in the end she did not get the land she wanted.  Clarke said she did not deserve the treatment she received because she had negotiated in good faith between the Indigenous and Non-Indigenous communities.  He observed that she was on the "wrong end of the gradient of power."

Elizabeth (Lisette) Denison (1786-1866) was born into Black slavery, but later secured her freedom partly though the actions of Askin Sr's son-in-law, Elijah Brush (1775-1813).  Although Brush has been described as one of Detroit's first abolitionists, he was not lobbying for the end of slavery, but advocating on behalf of the Peter and Hannah Denison family (Lisette was their daughter).  Brush had personal ties with and great respect for Peter Denison, in particular.

Although Lisette could not read or write, the Detroit elite who she worked for guided her through the legal proceedings necessary to make profitable investments.  In the process of doing this, she acquired dispossessed Indigenous land.  On some of this same land, she set aside provisions to establish a church at Gros Isles, Michigan.  She might not have realized the implications of what she was doing in terms of the land previously occupied by Indigenous tribes.  However, she was reportedly not as concerned with race as she was about inequality between rich and poor.  Her purpose for establishing the church was to have a place where people of any background could worship.  In 1868, St James Episcopal Church was consecrated, partly with the funds she had set aside in her will.  The church's doors are dedicated to her memory, and an historical marker on the site recognizes her contribution.

Part Three - Detroit's "Governing Classes"

Detroit's "governing classes" transitioned from Indigenous to French to British to American from the early 1700s until around 1801.  Consequently, it was challenging to stay on the good side of those in power.  Askin Sr, Jr, Ainse and Denison were living during a period of intense political unrest, including the Seven Year's War (aka French and Indian War), 1756-1763, Pontiac's War, 1763-1766, and the American Revolution, 1775-1783.  

Part Three - Slavery Existed in Both Non-Indigenous and Indigenous Communities

Slavery was widespread throughout the world at this time, and the version introduced by both the French and the British into the Great Lakes region was often cruel and demoralizing.  But Miles said that generally speaking the northern version of slavery was not quite as brutal as what existed on the plantations in the American south.

However, it was not just the newly arrived Europeans who practised slavery.  Indigenous groups throughout North America had held members of other tribes in captivity for centuries before contact.  There were occasions when terrible things happened to those in bondage, e.g., torture and death.  A lot depended on the tribe in question.  Some tribes assimilated captives--particularly women and children--into their societies.

Since many of the slaves captured by the Great Lakes tribes came from the Western Plains, the French called them Panis.  The enslaved were offered in trade or negotiation, or replaced dead warriors.  Indigenous groups also traded African Americans they had taken during southern plantation raids.

Many people associate the Detroit area as a gateway to freedom for slaves via the Underground Railroad.  But during the 1770s to 1810 period, in particular, there were slaves there.  This was because of loopholes in legislation, such as the Northwest Ordinance.

These indentured people were not part of the fur trade economy per se, but provided stability to the settlement economy.

Miles recognized the relationship between the free and unfree was complex.  She noted the interconnectedness between Indigenous, French, British, Black, American and Canadian societies.  She acknowledged that some Native American tribes warred with each other, utilized slaves, and did not treat their women very well.

There were numerous variations on this theme.  For instance, Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant, mentioned earlier in connection with Sally Ainse, held Blacks in bondage starting around 1784.  One of them, Sophia Pooley, was interviewed about her experiences when she was 90.  Her account was published in an 1856 book of fugitive slave narratives.  Pooley had some positive, but mostly negative, experiences when she resided in the Brant household.  If you want to know more, consult the sources listed in the bibliography.

Another factor that adds to the complexity is that some Blacks felt more comfortable in the White world than they did in the Indigenous one.  However, Indigenous and Black slaves also intermarried.

In Detroit, Aboriginal slaves initially outnumbered Blacks, but this gradually changed to Blacks outnumbering Aboriginal.  It was more difficult for British officials to enslave Indigenous people, because of the political situation.  As previously mentioned, the French often had a better relationship with the original inhabitants than the British.  By 1810, the Native population had dwindled, and freed Blacks had moved across the border to Canada.

Part Three - Conclusion to Part Three and to This Three-Part Series

Due to all the variables discussed in Part Three, and in this three-part series generally, I think it is important to consider Askin Sr et al's behaviour in historical context.  During the fur trade, Indigenous people still retained some power and influence in the Great Lakes, and they often used it to gain concessions from the colonists.  They could be either perpetrators or victims, depending on who was in power.  Europeans also contributed to the discord, by frequently sowing divisions between Indigenous and Black people.

The situation is quite different today in many respects.  But Canada and the United States are still struggling with political, cultural and racial upheavals.  I am mulling over the issues raised by the research I did for this series, so this is the best I can do for a conclusion at the moment.

Part Three - Bibliography

Allen, R S, & Conn, H. (2019, July 9).  Joseph Brant (Thayendanegea).  Retrieved from Canadian Encyclopedia: https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca

Banersee, M. (2018, February 19).  Detroit's dark secret: slavery.  Retrieved from Michigan Today: https://michigantoday.umich.edu.

Clarke, J. (1987).  Ainse (Hands), Sarah (Montour; Maxwell; Wilson (Willson).  Retrieved from Dictionary of Canadian Biography: http://www.biographi.ca

Clarke, J. (2001).  Land, Power and Economics on the Frontier of Upper Canada.  Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press.

Curnoe, G. (1994).  Deeds/Nations.  London, Ontario: London Chapter, Ontario Archeological Society.

Henry, N.L. (2020, June 9).  Black enslavement in Canada.  Retrieved from Canadian Encyclopedia: https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca

Historic Elmwood Cemetery & Foundation.  (2020, September 20).  Elijah Brush.  Retrieved from Historic Elmwood Cemetery & Foundation: www.elmwoodcemetery.org

Historic Elmwood Cemetery & Foundation.  (2020, September 20).  Elizabeth Denison Forth "Lisette".  Retrieved from Historic Elmwood Cemetery & Foundation: www.elmwoodcemetery.org

Holroyd, I. (2014, February 21).  Burlington audience hears story of slave owned by Joseph Brant.  Retrieved from Burlington Post: www.insidehalton.com

McNeil, M. (2013, July 30).  One of the first non-natives in the area was a slave.  Retrieved from Hamilton Spectator: https://www.thespec.com

Miles, T. (2013, May/June).  Slavery in Early Detroit.  Michigan History, pp. 33-37.

Miles, T. (2017).  The dawn of Detroit: a chronicle of slavery and freedom in the city of the straits.  New York: New Press.

Shamus, K J. (2017, July 25).  How a freed slave made it into the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame.  Retrieved from Detroit Free Press: https://www.freepc.com

Wikipedia contributors.  (2019, November 29).  Elijah Brush.  Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipeida.org

Wikipedia contributors.  (2018, August 29).  Sally Ainse.  Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipeida.org

Wikipedia contributors.  (2020, August 11).  Lisette Denison Forth.  Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipeida.org

Wikipedia contributors.  (2020, September 19).  Slavery among Native Americans in the United States.  Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipeida.org


Part Two of Three - John Baptist Askin (1788-1869) - His Connection to My Eldon House Play

Part Two - Disclaimer: My references to the writings of other people--including Indigenous, Non-Indigenous and African American--do not in any way imply that they share my views on this matter.  The opinions expressed here are my own, and do not necessarily represent those of my family, friends or associates.

Part Two - Acknowledgements: A number of people--in London, Ontario, Canada and elsewhere--assisted me in the development of this three-part post series, not only in terms of the content, but also with technological matters relating to Google Blogger's new interface.  Because of the controversial nature of some aspects of the subject matter, I have concluded it is probably best not to thank them all here.  Their help was deeply appreciated, but any errors or omissions are mine.

Part Two - Note: The photo I took of John Wilson's grave at the Woodland Cemetery in 2000 is included with the permission of the cemetery.  Eldon House gave me the go-ahead to use the photo of Amelia Harris's portrait, which I took at Eldon House in 2000.

Part Two - Background Information Regarding My Amelia Play at Eldon House, 2001 and 2003

In February 2001, my one-act stage play, entitled "Amelia at the Forks of Ayzhkanzeebee: Propriety and Passion," premiered in the drawing room of Eldon House, an historic site here in London, Ontario, Canada.  There was also a second production, with a different cast and crew, in February 2003.  Both versions were produced by Museum London.  I took some liberties with the truth for dramatic effect, but for the most part, my script was based on historical sources.

The Harris family lived at Eldon House from 1834 until 1959.  In 1994, Robin Harris, a descendant of the family, published portions of the diaries of five women who lived at the estate at one time or another.  The most prolific was Amelia Harris (1798-1882), the matriarch, who kept a diary from 1857 until shortly before her passing in 1882.  Amelia's entries were often little jewels of wit, which chronicled life in the Forest City.


Amelia Harris (1798-1882)


Amelia was one of two characters in my play.  The other was lawyer/politician, John Wilson (1809-1869), who frequently visited Amelia.  Wilson killed a man in the last fatal duel in Upper Canada in 1833 while still a law student in Perth.  He moved to London a year later.

Amelia and Wilson liked to spar when they got together, and during the play they turned their attention to Baptist Askin.  While Amelia considered Askin to be one of her "oldest friends," Wilson did not share her enthusiasm.

Wilson and Askin did not have the same political views.  This problem extended to bureaucratic differences when around 1840, Wilson took over responsibility from Askin for the management of county funds.  He questioned Askin on his handling of these funds, which led to animosity between the two.

Askin had other detractors besides Wilson, but he was still considered one of the local elite (aka Family Compact)--an aristocratic governing class that believed power should remain in the hands of a select few.  This clique held sway over Upper Canada from the early to mid-1800s.  Because he was part of the Family Compact, like Amelia, it is not surprising he was a regular Eldon House guest.  Amelia frequently mentioned him in her diaries.

Part Two - Script for My Play Published in Anthology

In 2003, my Amelia play script was published in an anthology of London plays that premiered in 2001.  For further information about this book, refer to the Ballyhoo 2001 entry in the bibliography.

Part Two - End Note #1: Indigenous Names for the Thames River

An Indigenous resource person originally from a Northern Ontario reserve provided me with the Indigenous name for the Thames River--Ayzhkanzeebee.  But there are numerous variations on the name, based on the tribe in question and geographical location.  Kim Deleary, who at the time was working for the "Chippewa Land Claim Trust and Historical Research Department at Muncey, Ontario," had an article published on the different Indigenous names for the Thames River.  It was in the March 8, 2001 edition of Scene Magazine (see bibliography).  For further information beyond Deleary's article, I suggest consulting local Indigenous groups.

Part Two - End Note #2: Eldon House Governance and Amelia Harris's Portrait

As previously mentioned, the Harrises lived at Eldon House from 1834 until 1959.  It was bequeathed to the City of London in 1960 and is a popular tourist attraction.

In an August 10, 2020 email to me, Tara Wittmann, the Eldon House curator director, explained that the house has experienced a multi-faceted governance since 1960.  At first it was under the auspices of the London Public Library.  This was because the library ran several historical buildings and managed an art collection  In 1989, the London Public Library's "museum" division amalgamated with the London Regional Art Gallery to form the London Regional Art and Historical Museum (LRAHM).  Eldon House continued to be managed under this umbrella after LRAHM changed its name to Museum London in 2001.

On January 1, 2013, the City of London Council passed a by-law for Eldon House to become a stand-alone Municipal Service Board.  Although the City still owns this historic site, it is managed by the Eldon House Board of Directors.

The portrait of Amelia Harris is by J B Wandesforde (1817-1907).  He is believed to have created it during the years he lived in Canada (1847-1857).  This portrait is located in the Eldon House drawing room.


John Wilson (1809-1869)


Part Two - End Note #3: John Wilson's Grave at the Woodland Cemetery.  Photo I took in 2000.

Wilson's inscription reads:

In Memory of the Honorable John Wilson

One of the judges of Her Majesty's Court of Common Pleas of this Province,

Died 3rd June 1869

Aged 63 years

Rom C.5.V.6.7.8

F.B. Gullett, Toronto

(A London historian supplied the information that F.B. Gullett was the Toronto monument maker.)

Part Two - Conclusion

The research I did into Baptist Askin for my Eldon House play made me realize he was a complex individual with both positive and negative qualities.  Little did I know that almost 20 years later, I would unearth a whole new set of information regarding what his family and he did before he came to London.

I am glad that I decided to do this research because it has helped me to better understand him, and how London society operated at the time he lived here.

Part Two - Bibliography

Deleary, K. (2001, March 8).  Troubled Times on Turtle Island.  Scene Magazine, p. 6.

Eldon House.  (2020, November 23).  Eldon House/History.  Retrieved from Eldon House: https://eldonhouse.ca

Eldon House diaries: five women's views of the 19th century.  (1994).  Toronto: The Champlain Society in cooperation with the Province of Ontario.

Peterson, L. (2003).  Amelia at the Forks of Ayzhkanzeebee: Propriety and Passion.  In J Culbert, Ballyhoo 2001: Plays from London, Ontario (pp. 148-168).  [London, Ontario?]: Virtual E Solved.

Peterson, L. (2005).  Amelia Harris (1798-1882).  In M Baker, & H B Neary, 100 Fascinating Londoners (p. 21).  Toronto: James Lorimer & Company.

Peterson, L. (2005).  John Wilson (1809-1869).  In M Baker, & H B Neary, 100 Fascinating Londoners (pp. 12-13).  Toronto: James Lorimer & Company.


Tuesday, 8 December 2020

Part One of Three - John Baptist Askin (1788-1869) - His Connection to London, Ontario, Canada

Part One - Disclaimer: My references to the writings of other people--including Indigenous, Non-Indigenous and African American--do not in any way imply that they share my views on this matter.  The opinions expressed here are my own, and do not necessarily represent those of my family, friends or associates.

Part One - Acknowledgements: A number of people--in London, Ontario, Canada and elsewhere--assisted me in the development of this three-part post series, not only in terms of the content, but also with technological matters relating to Google Blogger's new interface.  Because of the controversial nature of some aspects of the subject matter, I have concluded it is probably best not to thank them all here.  Their help was deeply appreciated, but any errors or omissions are mine.

Part One - Note: The photo I took in 2000 of John Baptist Askin's grave at the Woodland Cemetery is used with the permission of the cemetery.

Part One - Introduction - "'Colonel' to his Friends, 'Indian' to His Detractors"

The "'Colonel' to his friends, 'Indian' to his detractors" quotation is from an April 27, 1968 London Free Press article by L N Bronson (1905-1994).  Bronson was referring to Metis office holder, John Baptist Askin (aka Jean-Baptiste Askin, Jean Baptist Askin and Johnny Askin).  Askin (1788-1869) was a member of the London elite from the time he came to the city in 1832 until his passing.  Bronson was correct that Londoners either praised or denounced him.

Askin's military contributions during the War of 1812 have been documented by not only Non-Indigenous historians such as J J Talman (1904-1993) but also by Metis historian Lawrence J Barkwell (1943-2019).  In 2012, the Metis Nation of Ontario included Baptist Askin in their War of 1812 commemoration material.

London, Ontario fine artist Greg Curnoe (1936-1992) had an entry for Baptist Askin in his Deeds/Nations (1996)--a book (published posthumously) about Southwestern Ontario history from 1750 to 1850.  It featured the contributions of Aboriginal people to the region during this period.

Part One - Askin Family Chart

Since the Askin family genealogy is quite complex, I prepared the chart below:


Askin Family Chart


Part One - Baptist Askin's Indigenous Ancestry

According to Baptist Askin's London Daily Advertiser obituary, his mother was a "full-blooded" Indian. . .of one of the far western Indian tribes."  The obit also said he "took great pride in his descent from the original lords of the forest."

An "Askin Network" chart in John Clarke's Land, Power and Economics on the Frontier of Upper Canada (2001), indicates that Baptist Askin's father, John Askin Jr (1762-1820) had a relationship with an "Indian woman," and Baptist Askin was their son.

Milo M Quaife edited the John Askin Papers, published in 1928 (volume 1, 1747-1795) and 1931 (volume 2, 1796-1820).  He said that Baptist Askin's mother may have been a Non-Indigenous captive.  This information likely led J J Talman to state in his Dictionary of Canadian Biography entry that the "maternal ancestry is uncertain."

Quaife also noted that Baptist Askin was baptized a few weeks after Askin Jr's marriage to Madelaine (nee Pelletier) in October 1791.  Madelaine was French and also possibly Metis.

Askin Jr and his wife Madelaine are recognized by some in the Metis communities for their introduction of the Mackinaw cloth in 1811.  At the time, Askin Jr was a fur trader in Fort St Joseph.  This British outpost was located on St Joseph's Island on Lake Huron near Sault Ste Marie, Ontario.  Madelaine and the Metis women at the fort supplied the 10th Royal Veterans Battalion with "Mackinaw Coats" to replace their worn-out military attire.  The women used red plaid dense water-repellant woolen cloth.  The term "Mac" was eventually recognized as a Canadian symbol of working class values.

Although sources differ as to whether Madelaine had some Indigenous ancestry, Baptist Askin's paternal grandmother Mannette (aka Manette or Monette) is widely believed to be Indigenous from the Ottawa (aka Odawa) tribe.  Mannette will be discussed in more detail later in this post.

Part One - Why I am Interested in Baptist Askin and His Ancestors

One of the main reasons I decided to write this post is because I was interested in learning more about Baptist Askin's background.  In the early 2000s, I had a one-act play produced in which the two characters discussed him.

Then in 2010, an historian friend provided me with some information about his paternal grandfather and father, that made me want to delve more deeply.  She explained that Askin Sr (1739-1815) and Jr had engaged in questionable land transactions with Indigenous groups, and that Askin Sr kept Indigenous and Black slaves.

I wanted to better understand why Baptist Askin achieved a fair measure of success in London, yet his ancestry was mired in controversy.

I concluded from the additional research I did this year (2020) that his story is complex and not easily slotted into a particular category.  This also applies to his grandfather and father.  The time period in which the Askin family operated was one of tremendous political, cultural and racial upheaval.  They often chose their alliances based on what they believed would get them over the next hurdle, rather than what would be seen as ideologically appropriate by today's standards.

Part One - John Askin Sr (1739-1815) and John Askin Jr (1762-1820)

Askin Sr helped establish British rule in Upper Canada through his work as a fur trader and merchant.  He was born in Augnacloy, Northern Ireland.  In 1758, he moved with the British army to Albany, New York.  He followed the army, selling provisions to the soldiers (sutler).  However, he did not have much success commercially.

Consequently, in 1763, he went to Michilimackinac, which is located on the southern shore of the Lakes Huron and Michigan juncture.  There he operated a trading post and was more successful, remaining until 1775.

In 1781, Askin Sr relocated to Detroit.  His involvement with the Miami Company ended with a 1786 bankruptcy.  But he had developed an extensive network of family, friends and associates who supported him through his various financial upheavals.

Throughout this period, Askin Sr negotiated with Indigenous tribes to convince them to side with the British instead of the French.  This was often a difficult task because the French were usually more generous in their terms than the British.  There were regular intercultural exchanges (including intermarriage) between the French and the Indians.  The British were generally more standoffish and not as generous in negotiations.

It is possible Askin Sr realized that in order to gain the support of the Aboriginal groups, he should do something to win their trust.  This was possibly his motivation for purchasing the "Indian slave" Mannette.  She is believed to be the mother of his three oldest children, John Jr (Baptist Askin's father), Catherine and Madelaine, who were born during the 1762 to 1764 period.  This "marriage" gave Askin Sr credibility in Indigenous communities, and he used this perception to acquire land from them.

Quaife said it was a "matter of record" that Askin Jr was born in L'Arbre Croche, which was an Ottawa Indigenous town (now the site of Harbor Springs, Michigan).  

Tiya Miles is an African American historian, who has some Indigenous ancestry on her father's side.  She consulted the Askin Papers in the Burton Historical Collection at the Detroit Public Library, when she was researching her book The dawn of Detroit: a chronicle of slavery and freedom in the city of the straits (2017).  Miles thinks "Mannette" was "probably Ottawa from a nearby village."

Clarke said that because Askin Jr was "mixed blood" and fluent in the "Ottawa and Chippewa languages" he was sometimes sent to negotiate with Indigenous groups.

On September 9, 1776, Askin Sr freed his "Panisse slave" (Mannette).  Miles concluded, since all correspondence with Mannette stopped after that, she might have thought her best option was to completely cut off contact with her former owner and three young children.  However, Quaife thought another possibility was that she passed away.

In 1772, Askin Sr married Marie-Archange (aka Marthe-Archange) Barthe, whose ancestry was French.  Her father was a well-known Detroit trader.  The children by Mannette stayed with the second wife, in a "household served by Indian and black bondspeople."  Askin and Barthe had nine children.

Askin Sr's freeing of Mannette was certainly not common among British slaveholders in Detroit.  Quaife, Talman and other historians have noted that Askin Sr treated his part-Indigenous children the same as he did his other nine offspring.  For instance, Askin Jr was educated in Montreal for several years before his father helped him find employment.

However, Askin Sr continued to own slaves after Mannette departed.  In a 1776 inventory of his slaves, he said he had two Black men, two Indian boys and two Panis "wenches."  He included a price for each of these individuals held in bondage.

In his May 18, 1778 letter to M Beausoleil, he said he needed "two pretty panis girls of from 9 to 16 years of age."

In 1787, Askin Sr had eight slaves, four who were Black, two Panis and two children of an unspecified race.

It is possible that at least some of the Indigenous women slaves Askin Sr had in his household were sexually exploited by him or others.

Askin Sr's land transactions with Indigenous tribes were particularly suspect during the 1796 period.  For further information about his often questionable handling of Indigenous lands, I recommend looking at the previously mentioned Miles and Clarke books.

In 1802, Askin Sr moved to Sandwich in Upper Canada to manage the Western District.

Part One - Baptist Askin - Brief Biographical Sketch

Baptist Askin was born in Detroit.  He served on the side of the British during the War of 1812.  On January 22, 1813, he led a small band of Indigenous people to defend Major-General Isaac Brock at the Battle of River Raisin (aka the Battle of Frenchtown) in a section of what is now Monroe, Michigan.  That battle ended before he and the band arrived, but he later served as a Metis interpreter for Colonel Henry Proctor.

When the Rebellion of 1837 broke out, Baptist Askin took action to suppress William Lyon Mackenzie and his followers.  He destroyed the press and type of the St Thomas Liberal newspaper.  In 1838, he was promoted to colonel.

Baptist Askin married Elisa Van Allen in 1814; the couple had eight children.  They settled in Vittoria, Norfolk County, Upper Canada, where he held various official positions.  In 1832, the family moved to London after the district court was transferred there.  He established himself as a prominent resident, with a mansion called "Woodview," in an area now called Wortley Village.  He was a major force behind the establishment of the town's Mechanics Institute and was also president of the Middlesex Agricultural Society for 30 years.  In addition, he held a number of official positions in London, including clerk of the peace.  The "London Elite" which included the Harrises of Eldon House, considered Askin to be one of their own.

There are four reminders of Colonel Askin in Wortley Village.  The jog in Elmwood Avenue follows the lane that led up to his estate.  Askin Street bears his name, plus Cynthia and Teresa Streets, which branch off from Askin, are named after his daughters.

The Daily Advertiser obituary praised him as "the most extensively known citizen in Western Ontario. . .mourned by a large circle of warm personal friends as well as sorrowing members of his family."

Part One - Baptist Askin's Grave, Woodland Cemetery, London, Ontario, 2000

Below is a photo I took of Baptist Askin's grave in 2000:

The Ivey Family London Room supplied the information below in September 2010.  

The grave is located in Row 30, Stone 5.  The inscription reads:

In memory of Col. John Askin (April 10, 1788-November 14, 1869), his wife Elizabeth (January 20, 1792-November 24 1872)




Part One - Conclusion

Although there is no concrete evidence to back it up, Askin Sr's correspondence points to a disparaging attitude towards some Panis women, particularly young ones.  He also referred a couple of times to Madelaine, an escaped Black woman slave, as a "wench."

Yet, as previous mentioned, Askin Sr looked after his children by Mannette.  He ensured they were educated, that they married into what he considered to be respectable families, and that they were "reared to civilization."  Askin Sr mostly raised Baptist Askin, probably because Askin Jr was so busy living and working outside of Detroit.

One possible reason for this varying treatment of Indigenous women is that Askin Sr recognized Mannette's knowledge of Indigenous culture and languages was valuable to his fur trading business.  Aboriginal traders were also influenced by his access to alcohol.

There were many skeletons in Baptist Askin's closet, but he left his mark on London.  He was both a colonel and an Indian at a very tumultuous time.

Part One - End Note #1: Terminology for Indigenous People Used in This Post

There are many ways Indigenous people describe themselves, e.g., tribal, cultural and legal.  Sometimes Aboriginal communities changed their names because the terms originally used for them could be considered derogatory.  On other occasions, they replaced names given to them by Europeans with their traditional ones.  Historical developments have also influenced what they call themselves.

Indian still has a specific meaning under the terms of the Canadian government's 1876 Indian Act, which is still in effect.  Although some Indigenous people object to the use of the term Indian, other recognize its legal implications.  Since most of the contents of this post takes place when Indian was the term commonly used, it is employed when appropriate to the context.

For further information about Indian and other terms relating to Indigenous people, please refer to Section B of my April 18, 2018 https://www.counterpoise.ca post about cultural misappropriation, which can be found elsewhere on this blog.

Panis (aka Panisse or panis) appears in this post but was not discussed in my April 18, 2018, Section B entry.  From about the 1670s to the 1830s, enslaved Indigenous people in the New World were often referred to as Panis.  The word appears to have originated in New France, but its use spread to the British and American revolutionaries.  However, this term can mean several different things, including Pawnee, which is a Central Plains Indigenous tribe located in Oklahoma, United States.  Because Panis can have several different connotations, I will only use it when it is clearly understood to mean an Indigenous slave.

Part One - End Note #2: Terminology for Geographical Locations in Canada and the United States

At various times between 1739 and 1867, Indigenous groups, France, Britain, American revolutionaries, Canada and the United States held the balance of power in the geographical locations discussed here.  This was particularly the case with Detroit.  It would be complicated and time-consuming to explain all these historical transformations.  If you are interested in learning more, please consult Canadian and American reference sources, and the bibliography.

However, I will point out the United States declared its independence from Great Britain on July 4, 1776, followed by the March 11, 1781 confederation.  Canada became a confederation on July 1, 1867.

Part One - End Note #3: London, 1800-1855

London was part of Upper Canada from 1741 until 1841, when the name changed to Canada West.  The British North America (BNA) Act of 1867 led to the creation of the province of Ontario, which is still the case today.  Ontario was one of four provinces that made up the newly created Canada.

The district of London was proclaimed in 1800.  An 1826 provincial bill led to the forks of the Thames becoming the administrative and legal centre of the London district.  London became a town in 1840 and a city in 1855.


Part One - Bibliography

Banersee, M.  (2018, February 19).  Detroit's dark secret: slavery.  Retrieved from Michigan Today: https://michigantoday.umich.edu

Barkwell, L.  (2014, January 13).  Mackinaw Jackets.  Retrieved from Gabriel Dumont Institute: https://gdins.org

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