Journal, summer 1834, of Rev. Cutting Marsh, during a visit to the Sauk and Fox Indians

Expedition to the Sacs and the Foxes.

In the summer of 1834, Protestant missionary Cutting Marsh traveled across Wisconsin and into Iowa in order to visit the Sauk and Fox Indians, to see if they would welcome a missionary live among them and begin to adopt white civilization. In this journal, he provides a detailed day-by-day description of this trip, including detailed notes about Fox and Sauk life, customs, and religion made while he was living with them.

Marsh wrote often, but haphazardly. He occasionally skipped pages, which were filled in days or weeks later with information out of context (sometimes written upside-down). He interspersed notes for sermons, drafts of letters, or spontaneous prayers amid routine diary entries. Consult the itinerary below to keep your bearings among his pages.

June 12: Marsh starts up the Fox River to Portage

June 28: arrives at Rock Island

July 4-11: no entries while Marsh is en route to Appanoose's Sauk village, at modern Ottumwa, Iowa.

July 16-24: at the trading post of William Phelps at Yellow Banks, near modern Oquawka, Ill., down the Mississippi from the mouth of the Des Moines River; in a long entry on July 19th he summarizes Indians' arguments against white civilization.

July 26-30: returns to Appanoose's village by canoe 

July 31-Aug. 11: at Appanoose's village (modern Ottumwa); the chief returns from his summer hunt on Aug. 6 and Marsh meets with him on Aug. 10. Appenoose and his council reject Marsh's offer of having a missionary live with them.

Aug. 12-15: travels cross country to visit Keokuk's village 12 miles from the mouth of the Iowa River

Aug. 15: when he hears they are headed from Yellow Banks, joins up with Black Hawk and his son, finishing the trip in their canoe

Aug. 16-23: at Yellow Banks on the Mississippi.

Aug. 16: interview with Black Hawk (pp. 168-176, interspersed with extraneous matter). They discuss religion and the writing of Black Hawk's autobiography.

Aug. 18: notes on causes of the Black Hawk War including (pp. 184-185) "opinions of the Indians respecting the war."

Aug. 23: leaves Yellow Banks for Rock Island by steamboat; Appanoose is a fellow passenger

Aug. 27-29: horseback trip to Poweshiek's village at the confluence of the Iowa and Cedar Rivers

Aug. 30: at Keokuk's village; describes Black Hawk's lodge in detail

Sept. 1: visits the Ho-Chunk village near Keokuk's, and calls on The Winnebago Prophet

Sept. 2-6: at Rock Island, preparing for return journey; recounts his interview with Appanoose

Sept. 10-12: at Mineral Point, which he describes at length

Sept. 15-16: crosses southern Wisconsin; visits early Madison fur trader Wallace Rowan (pp. 303-304)

Sept. 19: Marsh arrives home at the Stockbridge settlement at Statesburg (Kaukauna).

Oct 13: appends at the back of the diary a report on a conversation between Stockbridge elder John Metoxen and Black Hawk

Related Topics: Territory to Statehood
The Black Hawk War
Creator: Marsh, Cutting, 1800-1873.
Pub Data: Manuscript in the Wisconsin Historical Society Archives (Wis Mss AU); Marsh's report based on this diary is printed in Wisconsin Historical Collections, vol. 15 (Madison, Democrat Printing Company, 1900): 104-155.
Citation: Marsh, Cutting. "Expedition to the Sacs and Foxes." Manuscript in the Wisconsin Historical Society Archives (Wis Mss AU). Online facsimile at:; Visited on: 2/7/2023