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Today in Lansing: Historical Society of Michigan’s 'History Hounds' presents Fort St. Joseph


History Hounds

7 to 8:30 p.m.

$7 general admission, HSM members free

Historical Society of Michigan 5815 Executive Dr.

Click here for event page

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 10 — Four flags flew over the contentious Fort St. Joseph in its over hundred year history as a fort and trading post. France, Great Britain, Spain, the United States and the Potawatomi Native Americans each controlled it at one point.

As part of the Historical Society of Michigan’s History Hounds series, Michael Nassaney, Western Michigan University professor and principal investigator of the Fort St. Joseph investigative project, will speak to attendees.

Nassaney was part of the team who rediscovered the fort in 1998 after uncovering a concentration of fur trading era artifacts and knives imprinted with stamps of French origin in the area around modern day Niles, Michigan.

A Jesuit medallion found by WMU in 2010 — with origins dated to 1730 — is one of only two of its kind found by archaeologists in the U.S.

“It was established in 1691 as a French mission, and there is very limited information about what the place looked like,” Nassaney said.

“We do know it was a commercial, religious and military center throughout the duration of its occupation,” he said. “There was a small garrison there and it was most important as a fur trading post.”

There were likely 16 fur traders of Native American and French Canadian backgrounds living at the fort, Nassaney said.

“Traders would collect furs from Native Americans in exchange for imported goods like cloth, glass beads, iron tools, axes and hoes.”

Fort St. Joseph began its flash-points in history with the French Indian War of 1761, when British soldiers seized the fort from the French, Nassaney said.

Two years later, the Potawatomi attacked and overran the fort during Pontiac’s Rebellion. The British officer in charge was brought to Detroit by the Potawatomi and sold for ransom.

Perhaps the most odd blip in the fort’s history was the Spanish attacking the fort, capturing it and holding it for one day before retreating back to St. Louis in 1781, Nassaney added.

“With Fort St. Joseph and Fort Michilimackinac, we have as much history here as any eastern part of the U.S.”

History Hounds will cover the SS Edmund Fitzgerald and the Pere Marquette River in the following months.

“We just wanted to give people a chance to sit back and listen to history,” Feldbush said. “It gives anyone in Michigan a chance to learn about something new with experts on the topic.”

Other events in Lansing:

Astronomy on Tap

7:30 to 10 p.m., The Loft, 414 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing

Harvest Festival

2:30 to 7:30 p.m., Allen Farmers Market, 1611 E. Kalamazoo St., Lansing

The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later

7 to 9 p.m., The Downeaster Theatre, 1120 N. Pennsylvania, Lansing


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