Petoskey Stone Legends and Lore
Petoskey, Michigan derives its name from the vernacular of the name Petosegay, which was the given name of Chief Ignatius Petosegay [1787-1885]. In the Ottawa or Odawa peoples language the chiefs name, Petosegay, translates, loosely to, rising sun, rays of dawn, sun beams of promise, or, rays of dawn, all references to our sun.
A close look at a Petoskey stone reveals the septae, or dividers in each coralite. These dividers look like the “rays of the sun”.
The scientific name for Petoskey stone is Hexagonaria percarinata. The stone was named in 1969 by Dr. Edwin C. Stumm, an expert on fossils.
The 73 rd legislature, under public act 89, of June 28, 1965 and House Bill 2297 of 1965 passed bills that made the Petoskey stone the State of Michigan of Michigan. Govenor George Romney signed the bill and it became effective on March 31, 1966.
According to Legend, a descendant of French nobility named Antoine Carre visitied what is now the Petoskey area and became a fur trader with the John Jacob Astor Fur Company. He met and married an Ottawa/Odawa Indian Princess. Carre became known to the Indians as Neaatooshing, he was adopted by the tribe and made chief.
In the spring of 1787, after having spent the winter near what is now Chicago, Cheif Neaatooshing and his family started back home. On the way, they camped on the banks of the Kalamazoo River. That night a son was born to the Chief. As the sun rose, its rays fell on the face of the new baby. Seeing the sunshine on his son’s face, the chief proclaimed, “His name shall be Petosegay. He shall become an important person.” The translation of his name is “rising sun”, “rays of dawn” or “sunbeams of promise”.
In the summer of 1873, just a few years before the death of Petosegay, a city came into being on land, along the bay, where it meets the Bear River. The site was a field overgrown with June grass and only a few nondescript buildings existed. The city was named Petoskey, an English adaptation of Petosegay and the population was not more than 50 or 60. Thus, they honored someone who gave his name, and the hertiage of “sunbeams of promise”.