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Page History: BAILLY GRAVERAET Sophia 1800-1891

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Page Revision: 2009/05/04 16:57


SOPHIA BAILLY GRAVERAET or GRAVERALT.

A very remarkable history came to the knowledge of the writer, in January, 1916, concerning people who lived at this point, antedating any known to this date, and which adds much to its historic interest.



In the year 1800, a little girl was born on the shores of Grand river, near the present village of Muir, of French and Indian parentage. Her father was a noted trader by the name of Joseph Bailly, the name in French being spelled Bailey. He was from an old Montreal family whose full name was "Bailey de Messin." After living for many years at this point, he removed to Mackinac Island, and from there afterward removing to the present site of the city of Chicago, where there was a town named "Baillytown" after him, and he became immensely wealthy and died there. Her mother was an Indian princess of royal blood, she being the daughter of an Ottawa chieftain. Her name was "Bead-way-way," but afterward she was christened "Angelique" by a French priest, probably at Detroit as they often went there. She was a sister to Black Cloud, who was sub-chief of the village when the whites came to the valley. Joseph Bailly and Angelique had six children—five sons and one daughter, Sophia, the subject of this sketch. Her brothers were Alexis, who became a merchant at St. Paul, on the Mississippi; Joseph, a printer; Mitchell, a sculptor; Philip, an engraver, and Francis, who was Sophia's youngest and favorite brother, is mentioned in earlier histories of Ionia county. When her father, Joseph Bailly, took his five sons from there to be educated and learn their trades, Francis jumped out of the canoe and swam ashore, saying that he "did not want to be educated, but wished to be a medicine man." He stayed home and lived with the Indians, and became renowned among them as their greatest medicine man, and was called by them Be-nos-a-way.



Sophia traveled up and down Grand River many times with her father, often making the portages and going to Detroit. When she was about twelve years old, her father employed two Ottawa Indians to take her in a canoe to Mackinac island, where he himself had previously located. She arrived at the island on the day when, in consequence of the War of 1812, there was a battle between the American and British soldiers taking place, and she heard the looming of cannon and the strains of martial music. Her father, fearing for the safety of his daughter, rehired the Indians at an exorbitant price to take her to the home of her eldest brother, who was conducting a trading post on the Mississippi river at St. Paul. Following a route that Father Marquette had taken more than a hundred years before, the little party passed along the northern shores of Lake Michigan and into Green bay, up the Fox river, thence down the Wisconsin river into the Mississippi river and on to St. Paul. They had passed through a hostile country, among savage tribes where they dared not speak above a whisper, and to be discovered, meant certain death. But the trip was made in safety and after spending several years at St. Paul, the little girl became a young woman and returned by the same route to Mackinac island, where she was adopted and educated in French by Mme. La Fromboise. There she met Henry G. Graveralt, son of a German-American Revolutionary hero, who was a resident of Mackinac island and afterward married him. She taught a French Catholic school for the Indians at St. Ignace for fifteen years. There she raised her family, one boy and two girls, Garrett, Alice and Roseine.



Just prior to the Civil War the family moved to Little Traverse, now Harbor Springs. Here her son, Garrett, organized the Indian company known as Company K, First Michigan Sharpshooters, became a lieutenant and his father a sergeant in the same company. With Grant he crossed the Rapidan, and plunged into the terrible Battle of the Wilderness. The company remained in active service from that time until the end of the war. More than half were killed and all the rest wounded. Garrett and his father were both killed in the campaign before Richmond. Mrs. Graveralt finally received a pension, and with the back pay allowed built a comfortable home, where she died in 1891 and where her daughter, Roseine, still lives.



From her brother, Francis (Be-noss-a-way), Mrs. Graveralt learned much of the Indian manners, customs, legends, and traditions, and was noted for her gift as a story-teller. She met and entertained General, afterward President, Zachary Taylor, while on the Mississippi. She was personally acquainted with James J. Strong, the Mormon leader, who visited her school and told her to never fear the Mormons as he would see that none of them ever did her any harm. She knew Schoolcraft, the historian; Beaumont, the famous surgeon, and many other noted people. By all she was welcomed as an exceedingly interesting and well-informed woman, and a great friend of the American Indian, whom she helped to civilize and educate. Her stories have been preserved and are given in a lecture (Michigan Indians, their manners, customs, legends and traditions) by the son of her daughter. Roseine, John C. Wright, of Harbor Springs, Michigan, who has also published two books, "Lays of the Lakes" and "Stories of the Crooked Tree," the last largely consisting of the legends of the Ottawa tribe.



Source: History of Ionia County, Michigan, Her People, Industries and Institutions Volume 1
Published 1916
By Rev. Elam E. Branch Editor


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