• Voices from the Gathering PlaceSault Ste. Marie: 1622 - present day

Die Stromschnellen von St Marie (The Rapids Of St Mary), Frank Buchser, 1868

By kind permission of the Kunsthaus Art Gallery, Zurich, Switzerland

This website was created by teacher Peter White for the Algoma District School Board

The Loss of William "Willy" Schoolcraft


The first son of Jane and her husband Henry died of croup at the age of two.


These were the days before vaccinations and antibiotics so little ones often passed away from sicknesses we have no trouble with today.


Jane and Henry were devastated by the loss of their little son. Here is some of a poem that Jane wrote for him.




Sweet Willy


A hundred moons and more have past,

     Since erst upon this day,

They bore thee from my anguished sight,

     And from my home away

And pensively they carried thee

     And set the burial stone

And left my father and myself,

     Forsaken and alone


A hundred moons and more have past,

     And every year have we,

With pious steps gone out to sit

     Beneath thy graveyard tree

And often, with remembrance

     Of our darling little boy

Repeated - "they that sow in tears

     "Shall reap again in joy"


Jane Johnston Schoolcraft of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan is the first known American Indian poet.


Many of the words in the poem are from the early 1800s and are not familiar. How could you find out what they mean?


How does the poem become more meaningful if you write it out in your own words after learning what words like "erst" and "pious" mean?


Poetry and drawing by Jane Johnston Schoolcraft. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.