Moccasin Mike

I have a question — everyone knows to take Moccasin Mike Road to Wisconsin Point, but does anyone know who Moccasin Mike was? It is such a cool name. I’m jealous.

12 Comments

bfinstad

about 10 years ago

Hmmmm ... Doesn't seem as though anyone knows.

Paul Lundgren

about 10 years ago

I sure don't know, but I'll bet someone will come forward with some information in a few days. It's a great question.

bud

about 10 years ago

Way back there was a drive-in hamburger joint there named Moccasin Mikes. They named the road that as well. This was something I found out asking questions as a kid.

wildgoose

about 10 years ago

No I don't know, but there were Fond du Lac Ojibwe people on Wisconsin Point as recently as the turn of the last century.  That, and the forced removal of an "Indian Burial Ground" from Wisconsin Point to make way for industrial development (that never actually panned out) are all written about in infuriating detail in the book  A Forever Story: The History of Fond du Lac Reservation.

Rick

about 10 years ago

It was more than a hamburger joint, it was a full-blown tourist trap.  It was on the east side of the Hwy, and on the north corner of MM Road.

Wes Scott

about 10 years ago

I always entertained the idea it was some explorer. But I guess the hamburger joint makes total sense. But I certainly don't recall it.
It has to be there before the late 1970s.

bfinstad

about 10 years ago

Wow.  I forgot about that hamburger place.  I don't remember it ever being open, but I remember the building still being there when I was a kid.   It must have been the early 1980's when it was torn down.   I never would have thought that it had anything to do with the name of the road.  Cool.  Now  I know.  

It is true that a large number of Indian burials on Wisconsin Point were dug up and transported to the St. Francis Cemetery in Superior.  It was for some industrial development plan that was planned for the point but never became a reality (thank God!)  I think there may even be a marker of some type in the cemetery.  The mass burial (or reburial) was in the back of the cemetery near the Nemadji River.  Somewhere once I either read or heard that corner of the cemetery began "slumping" into the river as is common with the unstable clay soils around the Nemadji and there literally were graves that were becoming uncovered if not fully eroding right into the river.  

Anyhow, thanks for the info everyone.  It's something I have always wondered about!

spy1

about 10 years ago

I found a reference in an early 1900s story in the News-Tribune about pioneer attorneys in the area. One was "Michael Bright (father of Moccasin Mike)"

That's the only reference I could find. The Brights lived in West Duluth.

The son referred to might have been a Junior, for there are lots of references to another prominent attorney named "Michael Bright" around the turn of the century. They had a lot of land holdings in the Superior area, so maybe ...

Here's more on the Bright father the paper referred to:

Michael Steele Bright born January 6, 1830, in Madison, Indiana. Died November 4, 1868, on the Ohio River. Degrees, A. B. and A. M. Occupation, studied law with his father, Senator Michael S. Bright, and practiced law till 1854. Position, was for some time Judge in County Court, Superior, Wisconsin. In 1862 moved to Chicago. In 1863 moved to New York City and established the banking house of Bright & Co. Mr. Bright met his death in a collision of steamers on the Ohio River, between Cincinnati and Madison, in his exertion to save others. An eloquent eulogy was pronounced before the Gold-board of New York, by Dr. T. A. Hoyt.

Michael Steele Bright, who lost his life by trying to save the lives of others in the memorable conflagration of the steamers United States and America, which burned on the Ohio river in December, 1868.

bfinstad

about 10 years ago

Interesting.  So maybe it wasn't named for the burger stand.  Maybe Moccasin Mike was an actual local historic figure and the burger stand was just named for the road.   Hmmmm ... I hope more info surfaces.  This is getting interesting.

bfinstad

about 10 years ago

So now that we know Moccasin Mike's last name (Bright), I found this 1856 map of Duluth which indicates that Michael Bright (Moccasin Mike) had a trading post in Duluth:

Minnesota Reflections Digital Library

This fills in the gaps about the nickname.  It is easy to see why one who traded with the Indians would have acquired the nickname "Moccasin Mike."

Brian

about 10 years ago

This is PDD at it's finest.

Donna

about 10 years ago

yes I do know the history actually my father does, but Mocassin Mike was a Native from Canada who walked across Canada with my great, great Grandfather, my dad said that is what he called him Mocassin Mike and they were good friends, when my family settled there they named it after his friend.

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