Joseph Waukazoo

Miscellaneous notes on Joseph P. Waukazoo (1838-18 July 1910)

Engraving of Joseph circa 1880

Parentage & family migrations

Rev. George Nelson Smith, Sr. positively identifies Joseph's father in his memoranda as follows:

[Dec.]27. [1848] Mr. McLaughlin came yesterday--the snow has been so deep &
the weather so bad that he has not begun the vessel yet. he has got out
materials for Peter's boat last evening I wrote for Peter & his son Joseph who is in Twinsburg Summit Co Ohio in Mr Samuel Bissell's School of Ottawa's..."  

In the memoranda, Smith sometimes refers to Joseph's father Peter Waukazoo by his Indian name, "Pendunwan."    Peter's older brother, Joseph  was the Chief of the Old Wing Mission Ottawas until the elder Joseph died in 1845.   Peter Waukazoo was the Chief who, with Rev. Smith, moved the Ottawas from the Old Wing Mission near Holland, Michigan to a new location, Wakazooville, in Leelanau County, Michigan in June 1849, which is now part of Northport.     Some Ottawas and Chippewas were already residing in Leelanau County at places like Onumuneseville (now abandoned).   In 1852 Chief Agosa and Rev. Peter Dougherty moved a band of Ottawas and Chippewas from Old Mission Peninsula to Omena, Michigan in Leelanau County, and various smaller groups of Ottawas and Chippewas moved from the Cross Village area and other parts of Michigan into other parts of Leelanau County.  


From records of Rev. Samuel Bissell, Twinsburg Institute, Twinsburg, Summit County, Ohio

"Jany 9, 1849 Paid A. J. Blackbird for his ?service 0.25
Jany 25, 1849.  Gave J. Waukazoo 6 sheets paper 6 1/4
Jany 29, 1849  Gave J. Shugowabanoo book 12 sheets 12 1/2
Feb. 13, 1840  Gave Joseph Shingowab?? .06
May 17, 1849  Paid the 3 Indian girls 0.75
July 18, 1849  ?? Pr shoes for F. Petosega 2.00
Sept. 18, 1849  Joseph Shinawabinoo Jr. diest ??? typhus fever having been sick 4 weeks.  Funeral expenses 20.00.
Dec. 8, 1849  to Simon James & Larence Pokagon, 2 slates, pail & basins 1.02
Dec. 18 1849  Paid making pr of pants for A. Mixinassaw 1.50
March 1 1850 Due me for pr of pants for Joseph Wakazoo in parts 0.75
             Gave Joseph Bouchard cat & paints 3.00
             Gave Oliver Bouchard pants 1.50"

The diary of Rev. G. N. Smith of Northport Michigan in June 1850 mentions that Joseph Waukazoo had spent almost 2 years at Twinsburg Institute in Ohio, and that fall Joseph returned for opening of class.   On 4 January 1852 Joseph was baptized by Rev. Smith.

1860-1861 Twinsburg Institute, Twinsburg, OH, Class Roster lists Joseph Waukazoo as a student.

All Twinsburg records were discovered at theWestern Reserve Historical Society, Manuscript collection #116  Western Reserve Historical Society MANUSCRIPT CARD CATALOG MS 116 Cont. 4  change from Mss 3242 Bissell, Samuel 1797-1895 Twinsburg Institute, Twinsburg, O. 

Military service in the Union Army during the Civil War

US Civil War records show Joseph Wakazoo of Michigan enlisting in Co. H, 16th Michigan Infantry on 08 November 1861 as a private, age 23, at Hall's Hill, Virginia (near what is now metro DC).   Joseph wrote a letter dated 2 Jun 1862 to Rev. George Smith of Northport describing the Battle at Fair Oaks.  Listed as MIA 27 August 1862.   By 13 October 1862 Joseph was back in Northport, MI, where he had dinner with Rev. Smith; he told Smith he left the Army of the Potomac three weeks earlier. Two days later, Joseph gave a talk to the Indian Council at the schoolhouse.  In 1863 Rev. Smith got him out of trouble for desertion and placed him in charge of Lieutenant Brooks.  Joseph returned to his regiment & was transferred to Co. K, 1st Michigan Sharpshooters 27 November 1863.  It was reported on June 6, 1864, that Joseph had been wounded in battle.   He was discharged from his last regiment 15 February 1865.  Chronology was provided by Mr. Don Harvey.  A History of Leelanau Township, The Leelanau Township Historical Writers Group, Lawrence Wakefield, Editor,  revised edition, 1983, states there are no official records on Joseph Wakazoo.  This is not so.  There are civil war pension and widow's benefits available documenting his service.  His Civil War Veteran's Invalid Pension Application #  288430, Certificate #858213, form was dated May 1899. Click here to view the form
His widow Necette filed an application #947987 for widow's benefits in August 1910,  and certificate 736654 was issued.   Click here to view this form.    I downloaded these forms from somewhere off the internet, but I have lost the link.

Service as a missionary for the Protestant Episcopal Church in Minnesota

From the article: "Domestic Missions: The Indian Deacons at White Earth" by the Rev. Joseph A. Gilfillan, published 1881, from the archives of the Minnesota Historical Society.
Joseph Wakazoo is an Ottawa --- a kindred people to the Ojibways. speaking nearly the same language from Michigan.   He is now forty-two years of age.
            He was a soldier in the late {U.S. Civil] war, was shot through the body in the Shenandoah Valley and was again wounded. He was formerly attached to the Methodist body in Michigan as a worker, and about six years ago [that is, in 1875] he came among the Ojibways.
   He has been lay-assistant at Leech Lake, and again was in charge of the Church of St Antipas for some time; and has now a separate charge. that of the Mission and Church of St. Philip the Deacon, Lake Winniboshish.         
{The original article was a xerox page in the files of the Society.  The original document was not mentioned.}

Ordained a deacon in the Protestant Episcopal Church 20 January 1887 by Bishop M. N. Gilbert

On Thursday, January 20th, [1887] I had the blessed privilege of ordaining to the diaconate Joseph Wakazoo, a Chippewa Indian, presented by the Rev Mr Gilfillan.  He is a man of unusual intelligence, and passed a most creditable examination.  He is in charge of the Indian Mission field at Lake Winnibigoshish.
from Mahlon Norris Gilbert: Bishop Coadjutor of Minnesota 1886-1900 by Francis Leasure Palmer, The Young Churchman Co., Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1912.

The Protestant Episcopal Church Clerical Directory, 1898, mentions Joseph Wakazoo, born in Petoskey, Michigan,  was living in Fosston, Minnesota in 1898.   He was titled "Rev." in 1907 Durant Roll Field Notes page 9B-25.  In 1908 Joseph was listed as residing in Ebro, Falk Township, Clearwater County, Minnesota.


WAKAZOO, JOSEPH, Episcopal clergyman, an Ojibway Indian of the Ottawa tribe, b. in northern New York about 1830; died near Red Lake, Minn., July 1910.  During the civil war he served in a Michigan regiment, came to Minnesota, and was ordained a deacon in 1887; was pastor at the White Earth reservation more than twenty years. [237 (62).]

Mentioned on p. 816 in Collections of the Minnesota Historical Society, Vol XIV, Minnesota Biographies 1655-1912, compiled by Warren S. Upham, D. Sc., and Mrs. Rose Barteau Dunlap, The Volkszeitung Company, St. Paul, Minn., June 1912.

WAKAZOO, JOSEPH, missionary to the Ojibway Indians in the diocese of Duluth.  Died on the White Earth Reservation, July 18, 1910. Age 84 years. ... from "The Living Church Annual 1911"  Found using the Google Books search engine using the name "Wakazoo"  The link would not open normally to give the full page display & I am not able to find this using the same method.

Death Notice published 23 July 1910 in the Duluth News-Tribune, as follows:


Rev. Joseph Wakazoo, pastor of the Indian mission on the Bend of the River, of the White Earth reservation, for over 20 years, died this week of paralysis while on his way home from Red Lake.  He was buried Thursday.

Rev. Wakazoo was one of the best known Indian missionaries in northern Minnesota. He was ordained a deacon of the Episcopal church of the diocese of Duluth in 1887 by Bishop Gilbert, and since that time has been intimately connected with the work of the church.

During the Civil War Rev. Mr. Wakazoo joined the Union forces by enlisting with a Michigan regiment. He served throughout the war as a sharpshooter, and received an honorable discharge from the government.

He was born in northern New York, and was a descendant of the Ottawa tribe of the Ojibwa nation. At the time of his death he was between 75 and 80 years of age.


The best link I could find was through information supplied by St. Columba Episcopal Mission Cemetery, Waubun, MN N 47.110036� W 95.847302�

There is also an inactive cemetery south of Ebro, MN, said to have several individuals named Wakazoo buried there.  It's in Island Lake Township, Mahnomen County, MN.  Coordinates are: N 47.43639 W 95.55695, OR N47� 26' 10.91",W95� 33' 25.08" 2.3 miles East of County 15 on T29, located in patch of trees on west side of road.


One son, Edmund (27 November 1893-11 January 1962) served in the US Army in WWI.   One of Ed's grandsons, John Lawrence Burgess (1949-1970), volunteered for the US Army about 1969, served with the 1st Cavalry Division in Viet Nam.  On 30 June 1970, his Huey helicopter was shot down at the border of South Viet Nam and Cambodia.   The aircraft crash landed on its right side, the side John was manning.  All but one of those on board died as a result of the crash or of the fire that started afterward.   Their bodies were recovered, but John's was not.  After many decades of delay, the US Department of Defense sent researchers to the site of the crash, where they positively identified the crash site and wreckage of John's Huey helicopter.  They recovered some human remains but no usable DNA was found to match to family members.    The remains found were considered to be a mixture of those of the three men whose remains were not fully recovered.  Two of those men had already had funerals, so on 3 July 2013 John Lawrence Burgess had a funeral with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery, with members of his family in attendance.  

Arlington Funeral 2 July 2013

The marker that was later erected bore the names of the three men considered to lie together at Arlington.   Below is a photo of a POW/MIA bracelet created in John's memory which was returned to his family in March 2015.

bracelet returned March 2014

There is also a memorial marker for John L. Burgess at Evergreen Cemetery, Kingsley, Grand Traverse County, Michigan, although he is not buried there.  John's name is engraved on the Viet Nam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC,  Panel 09W, Line 104

Last updated 1 April 2015