The White Squaw

The White Squaw

Young Mary Elizabeth Peckham left her Vermont home in the 1830s looking for a life of adventure.

She was the teacher at the rough-and- ready mill town of Singapore when she married Stephen Morrison to become Mary Morrison. Soon after, they moved to Saugatuck to live in a thicket of woods along the river, surrounded by the wigwam homes of the Indians - and near her husband's new mill. Being postmaster too, Mr. Morrison spent many days walking the trails, but his wife remained at home - facing the dangers of the forest and nearby Indians who frightened her with war yells and painted faces.

Ultimately, the Indians became her "true friends," for she said that "when the whiskey was gone they would be kinder than ever." To them she became known affectionately as "White Squaw." They of ten rolled up in their blankets to sleep by her fireplace, and would walk unannounced into the house when she was baking - eating whatever they wanted.

In return, they brought her gifts of venison, wild birds, fish, honey, and maple sugar.

She tried to teach the Indian squaws how to make "white woman's bread" in a brick oven, but they did not like it - calling it "cheatem bread" because it was full of holes. They much preferred her sweet doughnuts and Johnny Cake - calling these "heap good."

One day her little daughter Julia, known as "White Papoose," was lost in the woods while gathering flowers and could not be found. Some of Mrs. Morrison's Indian friends were summoned, and after several hours, found little Julia - to much rejoicing.

Mrs. Morrison described her life as full of "nice, wild, enthusiastic excitement."

The White Squaw
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