Taking a Hike

I held my Nature/History (death of Chief Tonquish) walk in the Holliday Nature Preserve last Saturday. The Preserve is in Westland, Michigan and part of the Wayne County Parks system.

Fifteen people showed up for the 10 a.m. event. Temps were in the mid-40s and clouds threatened rain. I think weather conditions and the early start kept numbers down despite a nice article in the Westland Observer that came about as a result of a press release I sent.  The article was accurate, they used some of my press release and my name was spelled right.

The walk was sponsored by the Holliday Nature Preserve Association. I’m the webmaster and newsletter editor. The HNPA holds these hikes as a way to introduce people to  the Preserve and to our organization. The article, along with drawing seven new people and did a nice job of publicizing the Preserve and our organization.

Along with sharing information on the Preserve itself, I told the story of the death of Chief Tonquish for whom the creek that runs through the Holliday Preserve was named. Tonquish was a minor chief of the Potawatomi who was killed in October 1819 following the killing of a settler.  What makes the story even sadder is that the Chief’s son was also killed–due to the action’s of the father.

What happened, according to historical accounts, was the Indians involved in the killing of the settler were all captured in or near what is now the Tonquish Creek. They included the chief and his son. When the soldiers were distracted, the son bolted for freedom. The colonial in charge was about to shoot him when Tonquish begged him not to do so, saying he, Tonquish, would call the son back. Instead, he spoke in his native tongue and told the son to just keep running. Thinking the son was out of rifle range, Tonquish then told the Colonial to shoot saying that his son would not come back. The Colonial aimed carefully, shot and the son fell dead. Enraged, the Chief attacked the Colonial and was himself killed. A couple of decades later some kids dug up the graves and stole their contents.

I wanted to tell my hikers the ghosts of Tonquish and his still roam these woods looking for the kids who robbed their graves but there weren’t any kids on the hike so the temptation meter wasn’t high.No ghosts were spotted, although several hikers saw a nice six-point buck.

Anyway, it was nice to see my release paid off.  Maybe before the next time I will come up with ghost story. Those always sell better than history or nature.

That’s all for now, folks.

Categories: History | Tags: , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Taking a Hike

  1. So glad you keep these stories alive (even though it is quite sad that the Chief’s son got killed). I love hearing about buried treasures like the Holliday Nature Preserve that exist throughout our state. Good luck on the job search!

  2. Bo Marshall

    Nice to read something about my old “home”. I grew up in Holliday Park, the cooperative that was built along Tonquish Creek. The Chief Tonquish burial marker is just outside the cooperative. I spent almost every day “down the woods” as we called it. I knew that section of the preserve, from Wayne Rd bridge to where the creek joins the Nankin Lake spillway like the back of my hand. I moved into the area in October of 1968, and moved out in 1989. In all that time I never saw a single deer or deer track. I was back in the neighborhood several years ago and decided to take a hike through my old haunt, and discovered how overgrown and under used it had become (I like to think that is a good thing). Found lots of deer tracks!

  3. Karen

    Tonquish was killed in May 1819 according to an old Detroit newspaper.

    • Do you remember what paper and issue? The information I have is that the Chief was killed that October. One source is the book Tonquish Tales by Helen Gilbert. I checked to see if the month appears on the historical marker in Westland about the Chief but it doesn’t. It’s possible that is because the date is not firmly established but that is only speculation on my part. Anyway, thanks for reading my post and commenting.

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