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Indian Land Tenure Foundation (ILTF)

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A Cass/Kinzie Family Tree


​During Lewis Cass' tenure as governor of Michigan Territory, his domain expanded from the borders of the current state to include a vast area stretching to the Mississippi River. As Superintendant of Indian Affairs in this region, Cass created a treaty-making machine of fur traders, politicians, and family members who negotiated peace accords and land cessions with many Indigenous nations. The kinship ties among these signers, including family connections in Indigenous nations, shaped the profitable fur trade and built the international trust that facilitated the transfer of land and mineral resources to US control. The following families were components of the Cass/Kinzie Kinship Group.

Katawabeda/Warren Family

Far to the west of Cass' headquarters in Detroit, in present-day Minnesota, Ojibwe leader Katawabeda (Broken-tooth) forged family ties with US fur traders. He and his Ojibwe descendants represented his nation at treaties. The husbands and descendants of his daughters were US signers who exploited their connections to profit from the fur trade and encourage land cessions for generations. Katawabeda's great-granddaughter, for instance, married into the French-Ojibwe (Metis) Warren family, headed by the aggressive US trader Lyman Warren.

Faribault/Bailly Family
US treaty signer Edward Ashman, the grandson of Katawabeda, married a daughter of Bela Chatman, one of the most dissatisfied of all American Fur Company traders. (He called his trading post "Fort Misery.")  Chapman's son Reuben connected the family, however, to the more successful Bailly family. Joseph Bailly was a powerful and highly educated French fur trader. His children married into Minnesota political families and connected the fur trade in Minnesota to trading and military establishments in Chicago, as personified by the Whistler family.

Forsyth/Kinzie Family

The complicated, blended Forsyth/Kinzie family began their trading operations at Fort Dearborn, the present site of Chicago. Brothers James and Thomas Forsyth, their half-brothers Robert Forsyth and Thomas Kinzie and their offspring took an active role in the fur trade, land speculation, and treaty-making. Thomas Forsyth became an important indian agent in William Clark's treaty making machine, headquartered in St. Louis. His son Robert Forsyth, Jr. (named after Thomas's brother) became Lewis Cass's personal secretary. In 1833 at the Treaty of Chicago the US distributed $175,000 in payments to individuals, an enormous amount of currency at the time. The Forsyth/Kinzie family walked away in control of $100,000 of it. Through the Brush family, the Forsyths and Kinzies were related to leaders in land speculation and politics in the Territorial capital of Detroit.

Cass and Hunt Families

The Hunt family were early American fur traders in Detroit, established there before the war of 1812. They expanded their reach to Toledo, Ohio, and became extensive property owners in both cities. John E. Hunt and territorial governor Lewis Cass were married to sisters. Cass was a partner in land speculation with several members of the Hunt family.


Samuel B. Abbe
Alexis Bailly
Charles L. Cass
C. O. Ermatinger
James Forsyth
Henry Graveraet
John E. Hunt
James Kinzie
Pierre Lapointe
Lyman Warren
William Whistler

William Aitkin
Charles R. Brush
Lewis Cass
Alexandre Faribault
Robert Forsyth
Charles Hunt
Lewis Cass Hunt
John Kinzie
John Leib
Truman Warren

Edward Ashman
Edmond A. Brush
Bela Chapman
George Faribault
Thomas Forsyth
George Hunt
Benjamin Kercheval
John H. Kinzie
Thomas J. V. Owen
William Warren

Samuel Ashman
Elijah Brush
Abraham Edwards
William H. Forbes
George Fuller
Henry J. Hunt
Gholson Kercheval
Robert Kinzie
George Silliman
William Whistler