I love learning about historical figures in Michigan who made a tremendous impact before our time and this one comes from the Civil War era and was part of a unique group. Payson Wolf was an Ottawa Native American of great renowned and played a big part in the Civil War:

He is probably the best-documented Ottawa Indian of his time, due to his relationship as son-in-law to Rev. George N. Smith, Sr., missionary to the Waukazoo band of Ottawas.  He was the only surviving child of Charlotte Waukazoo and Miegun.   Charlotte lived to a great age, but Miengun died at the Old Wing Mission when Payson was about 8.   Payson was a grandson of the original Chief Waukazoo.

Trouble While Serving

When he was 30, Payson Wolfe enlisted in the Union Army in August of 1863 at Northport and was in the service for three years. He became a member of the all-Native Company K of the 1st Michigan Sharpshooters. The first time he was prepared for battle was his month of enlistment, but it was the following Summer when he would face his most difficult challenge yet.

He was taken prisoner in June of 1864 at Petersburg, spent three weeks in Libby Prison, and managed to survive five months at the Andersonville POW camp. Luckily after six months, he was freed on parole.

After the war, he returned home to Michigan where he lived out the rest of his days, before passing away on December 7, 1900. If you ever want to leave a heads-up penny, you can visit his headstone at Holy Cross Cemetery in Cross Village, Michigan.

Michigan's Involvement in the Civil War, 1860s

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