SKETCHES OF THE LIFE OF HENRY A. SCHOOLCRAFT.
The early period at which Mr. Schoolcraft entered the field of observation in the United States as a naturalist; the enterprise he has from the outset manifested in exploring the geography and geology of the Great West; and his subsequent researches as an ethnologist, in investigating the Indian languages and history, are well known to the public, and may be appropriately referred to as the grounds of the present design, in furnishing some brief and connected sketches of his life, family, studies, and literary labors. He is an example of what early and continued zeal, talent, and diligence, united with energy of character and consistent moral habits, may accomplish in the cause of letters and science, by the force of solitary application, without the advantage of hereditary wealth, the impulse of patronage, or the prestige of early academic honors. Ardent in the pursuit of whatever engaged his attention, quick in the observation of natural phenomena, and assiduous in the accumulation of facts; with an ever present sense of their practical and useful bearing--few men, in our modern history, have accomplished so much, in the lines of research he has chosen, to render science popular and letters honorable. To him we are indebted for our first accounts of the geological constitution, and the mineral wealth and resources of the great valley beyond the Alleghanies, and he is the discoverer of the actual source of the Mississippi River in Itasca Lake. For many years, beginning with 1817, he stirred up a zeal for natural history from one end of the land to the other, and, after his settlement in the West, he was a point of approach for correspondents, as his personal memoirs denote, not only on these topics, but for all that relates to the Indian tribes, in consequence of which he has been emphatically pronounced "The Red Man's FRIEND."
Mr. Schoolcraft is a native of New York, and is the descendant in the third generation, by the paternal line, of an Englishman. James Calcraft had served with reputation in the armies of the Duke of Marlborough during the reign of Queen Anne, and was present in that general's celebrated triumphs on the continent, in one of which he lost an eye, from the premature explosion of the priming of a cannon. Owing to these military services he enjoyed and cherished a high reputation for bravery and loyalty.
He was a descendant of a family of that name, who came to England with William the Conqueror--and settled under grants from the crown in Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire--three separate branches of the family having received the honor of knighthood for their military services.
In the reign of George the Second, consequently after 1727, he embarked at Liverpool in a detachment of veteran troops, intended to act against Canada. He was present in the operations connected with the building of Forts Anne and Edwards, on the North River, and Fort William Henry on Lake George.
At the conclusion of these campaigns he settled in Albany county, N.Y., which has continued to be the residence of the family for more than a century....