MICHIGAN ICON: The Saga of Indian Dave, 1803-1909
In front of the Wisner Township Cemetery in Tuscola County is an Historical Marker that was erected in the memory of Indian Dave.
Indian Dave’s official anglicized name was David Stocker, but he was named Ishdonquit (Crossing Cloud) and was the son of a Chippewa chief. He was there at Michigan's beginnings during the signing for the Treaty of Saginaw.
Considered an outcast by the Chippewas, Dave carved wooden toys for the local children, made baskets, arrows, and other trinkets which he sold along with fish and game meat. As he got older, he traveled Michigan’s thumb by canoe, going from town-to-town with his tales of early Michigan. One of the most important things he did was to secretly transport the county records from the old location in Vassar to the new location in Caro. Vassar was peeved that the county seat was moved and refused to transport the records; so Indian Dave and a man named Peter Bush swiped ‘em and took ‘em to Caro.
As to why he was an outcast from his tribe, I couldn't find any real reason. But I can assume it was because he went his own way, didn't necessarily follow the customs of his people, and hung out with the white man...but that's just a guess.
Indian Dave’s Historical Marker reads: "Indian Dave was one of the last Chippewas to hunt, fish and trap in the old manner in the Tuscola County area. Dave was born around 1803 and given the name Ishdonquit. According to legend, in 1819 he attended the gathering at the Saginaw River where 114 Chippewa chiefs and braves signed the treaty of Saginaw. The treaty ceded about six million acres of land in central eastern Michigan to the United States. Indian Dave fascinated youngsters with his tales and native customs. A mural honoring him has hung in the Vassar bank for decades. The earliest recorded inhabitants of Tuscola County were Sauk Indians. But Chippewas occupied the area by the time of the first permanent white settlement in 1836. Exactly when Indian Dave settled here is not known. However, in 1866, in order to resolve the Vassar / Caro county seat dispute, he and Peter Bush transported the county records to Caro by canoe. Dave was an expert at making bows and arrows, which he often sold for his livelihood. When he died in 1909, he was believed to be 106 years old. He is buried nearby in Wisner Cemetery."
Indian Dave was found dead in an old shack back in the woods. Dave is believed to be buried in the Wisner Township Cemetery in an unlocated grave.....unmarked, thanks to the segregation of the times.
Find out more about Indian Dave by CLICKING HERE.
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