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Title: Pet-O-Sega  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Petoskey, Michigan
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Born Neyas Petosega (Rising Sun), later Ignatius Petoskey
c. 1787
Near the Manistee River, Michigan
Died June 15, 1885[1] (aged 97-98)
Petoskey, Michigan, United States
Nationality Ottawa
Other names Petosegay, Pet-O-Sega
Occupation Chieftain, fur trader
Predecessor Neaatooshing
Successor Ignatius Petoskey
Spouse(s) Kewaykabawikwa, wife
Children Ignatius Petoskey, son
Francis Petoskey, son
Mitchell Petoskey, son
Parents Antoine Carre (Neaatooshing), father
Unnamed Ottawa, mother
Relatives Pokozeegun, father-in-law
William Petoskey, grandson
Paul Petoskey, grandson

Petosegay or Pet-O-Sega (Ottawa: Rising Sun, Rays of the Morning Dawn and Sunbeams of Promise) (1787 – June 15, 1885) was a 19th-century French-Ottawa Metis merchant and fur trader. Both present-day Petoskey, Michigan, Petoskey State Park, and nearby Emmet County park Camp Petosega are named in his honor. The official state stone of Michigan, the Petoskey stone, were found in abundance on his former lands and named after him.


Early life

The son of Antoine Carre (Neaatooshing), he was born along the northern banks of the Kalamazoo River near the mouth of Manistee. According to popular lore his father held him up to the rising sun and said "his name shall be Petosegay and he shall become an important person".[2]

He grew up in the lodge of his father roughly seven miles northwest of Harbor Springs, nearby the site of the town of Middle Village. At the age of 21, Petosegay married the daughter of Pokozeegun, an Ottawa chieftain from the northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan. He and his new bride, Kewaykabawikwa, planted apple trees to celebrate their marriage and, at the time of his death, they could still be seen by local residents.

Experiences with the Jesuits

With the arrival of Jesuits in the area during the early 19th century, he was befriended by the missionaries who would have a great influence on him throughout his life. He was called Neyas Petosega by the Jesuits who later interpreted Neyas as an abbreviation of Ignatius, the given name of Saint Ignatius Loyola, and the young chieftain would eventually adopt the Christian name Ignatius Petosega.

During the 1840s, when the US government began establishing the first Indian Schools for the purposes of educating Native American children, Petosegay sent his two oldest sons to Twinsburg Institute in Twinsburg, Ohio also attended by Native American writers Andrew Jackson Blackbird and Simon Pokagon.[3] However, when the Jesuits were informed that the school was run by Protestant auspices, he was requested to remove them under threat of excommunication. Although he eventually agreed due in part to his wife, who recognized the power and influence held by the Jesuits among the Chippewas, Ottawas and Ojibwas of Northern Michigan, although this incident would eventually lead to the break between him and the Jesuits.

Founding of Petoskey and later years

Moving his family to the southern shore of Little Traverse Bay, he and his elder sons soon acquired much of the land of what is now Petoskey, Michigan and became a prominent merchant and landowner. In 1852, a Presbyterian Mission was established on the land of Nathan Jarman, a local farmer living west of Petoskey's village. Choosing to declare independence of the Jesuits, he became actively involved with the Presbyterians as he and his children became regular attendants at the services. His grandson William Petoskey, the son of Francis, was a later Presbyterian reverend.

The Jesuits, who had lost some support from the local tribes south of the Bay, attempted to regain control although their attempt to establish a rival mission failed as a direct result of Petosegay's support of the Presbyterian church. His wife, upset at her husband's decision to leave their home of 43 years, left him to live with her relatives across the bay. He lived with another woman during this time, however he agreed to take her back when she returned several years later. The woman who had been living with Petosegay received a dower and left the village.[4]

In 1873, the local residents living along the bay of Bear Creek named their settlement Petoskey in his honor. Although the name was a corruption of Petosegay, he changed the spelling of his name as a gesture to them. After his wife died in 1881, he lived with his daughter and her husband Moses Waukazoo although he suffered from poor health thereafter and eventually died on June 27, 1885.[5] Of his ten children, his son Ignatius Petoskey later became a chieftain and head of the Bear River Ottawas.[6]

The Petoskey stones, a type of fossil colonial coral dating back to the Devonian era, was later discovered on his land.[7] The stones were later declared the official state stone by Governor George Romney who officially signed a bill to that effect. A granddaughter of his, Ella Jane Petoskey, was present at the signing.[8][9]

In 2005 a bronze statue of Petosegay was erected in Petoskey on a prominent hill overlooking the town and Little Traverse Bay.[10]

Further reading

  • Michigan History. Lansing: Michigan Historical Commission, 1917.
  • Wargin, Kathy-jo. Legend of the Petoskey Stone. Chelsea, Michigan: Sleeping Bear Press, 2004. ISBN 1-58536-217-4


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