Pictures and Illustrations.
Reputed Portrait of Marquette. (From oil portrait by unknown artist, discovered in Montreal in 1897.)
Map of Lake Superior, from the Relation of 1670-71. (Reproduced from the Jesuit Relations, vol. lv, by permission of Burrows Brothers Co.
Joliet and Marquette Departing from St. Ignace. (Bronze relief, Marquette Building, Chicago, by Herman A. MacNeil.) "Fully resolved to do and suffer everything for so glorious an Undertaking." — Marquette's Journal, 1673.
Combined Bronze Sun-Dial and Compass. (Found in January, 1902, on the shores of Green Bay. Shows latitude of several important fur trade and mission stations in New France; is undoubtedly of the seventeenth century, and may have been lost by some fur-trader or missionary.)
Perrot's Ostensorium, 1686. (Silver soleil, given by Nicolas Perrot, French commandant of the West, to St. François Xavier mission at De Pere, Wisconsin, in 1686. Now in museum of Wisconsin Historical Society, at Madison.)
Entering the Wisonsin River at Portage. (Bronze relief, Marquette Building, by Herman A. MacNeil.) "Thus we left the Waters flowing to Quebeq ... to float on Those that would thenceforward Take us through strange lands." — Marquette's Journal, 1673.
Junction of the Wisconsin and Mississippi. (The place where Joliet and Marquette discovered the latter river. From a recent photograph.)
The Meeting with the Illinois. (Bronze relief, Marquette Building, by Herman A. MacNeil.) "They replied that they were Illinois; and, as a token of peace, they offered us their pipes to smoke." — Marquette's Journal, 1673.
Attacked by the Mitchigamea. (Bronze relief, Marquette Building, by Herman A. MacNeil.) "In vain I showed The calumet, and made them signs that we were not coming to war against them." — Marquette's Journal, 1673.
Marquette's MS. Map, Accompanying his Journal, 1673. (Original in St. Mary's College archives, Montreal. Reproduced from the Jesuit Relations, vol. lix, by permission of Burrows Brothers Co.)
A Page of Marquette's Journal, 1674-75. (Original MS. in St. Mary's College archives, Montreal. Reproduced from the Jesuit Relations, vol. lix, by permission of Burrows Brothers Co.)
Marquette's Journey Across the Site of Chicago. (Bronze relief, Marquette Building, by Herman A. MacNeil.) "2 leagues up the river, we resolved to winter there, as it was impossible to go farter, since ... my ailment did not permit." — Marquette's Journal, 1674-75.
The Death of Marquette. (Bronze relief, Marquette Building, by Herman A. MacNeil.) "Dying ... as he had always prayed, in a Wretched cabin in the midst of the forests and bereft of all human succor." — Dablon's Narrative.
Burial of Marquette at St. Ignace (Bronze relief, Marquette Building, by Herman A. MacNeil.) "After that, the Body was carried to the church, care being taken to observe all that the ritual appoints." — Dablon's Narrative.
Trentanove's Statue of Marquette (Now in the Capitol at Washington; a replica, in bronze, is at Marquette, Mich. The subject is idealized; there is no attempt at a portrait.)
IS RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED
THE RT. REV. S. G. MESSMER, D.D.
BISHOP OF GREEN BAY
BY HIS ADMIRING FRIEND
Father Jacques Marquette, of the Society of Jesus, arrived in Canada, from France, in 1666, when the Jesuit missions of New France were approaching their full tide of success, but had only recently entered upon the vast, ill-defined region beyond Lake Huron. Although but twenty-nine years of age, he had already won some notice as a lecturer in the Jesuit schools of his native land. Reared to luxury in what was perhaps the principal family in the cathedral city of Laon, in his seventeenth year he put behind him the traditions of his ancient house, which marked its sons for statesmanship and for war, and surrendered himself to the service of the Cross. In response to his yearning for a missionary career, he was in due time sent by his superior to join the devoted band then engaged in taming the savages of the American wilderness.
Soon acquiring the rudiments of this most arduous of professions, Marquette was despatched to the farthest outposts of French influence — to Sault de Ste. Marie, and next to Chequamegon Bay of Lake Superior; finally, when his flock of Hurons and Ottawas had been driven eastward by their Sioux neighbors, rearing his little chapel of bark upon the lonely straits of Mackinac.
Upon the seventeenth of May, 1673, he set out in company with Louis Joliet, an exploring agent of Count Frontenac, governor of New France, to discover the Mississippi River, the principal American geographical puzzle of the day, which both Joliet and Marquette had long desired to solve. In their two frail canoes of birchbark, with five French servants, the explorers entered the great river, at the mouth of the Arkansas River. Learning from the Indians the course and characteristics of the waterway from that point to the Gulf of Mexico, they returned northward, by way of
ixthe Illinois and Chicago Rivers and the west shore of Lake Michigan, reaching the Jesuit mission at the rapids of De Pere, Wis., in September.
After a winter at De Pere, Joliet returned to Quebec by canoe, but lost his crew and all his papers in the rapids at La Chine. But Marquette's journal and map of the voyage were safely transmitted to his superior-general at Quebec by the hands of Indians; they were the only detailed records of the expedition which have been ever published.
Overcome by a malady contracted through exposure and hardship upon the long voyage, it was not until October of 1674 that Marquette could leave De Pere and return by boat to Illinois, where he desired to found a new mission. After a cold, dreary journey up the west coast of Lake Michigan, he was obliged, because of ill-health, to pass the winter with two servants in a wretched cabin upon the Chicago River. In the early spring he was able to proceed to some Indian villages upon the Illinois River, but soon was obliged by his ailment
xto return, this time intending to reach his old mission of St. Ignace, on the Mackinac straits. Death overtook him while still two hundred and fifty miles from his destination; he passed away on the eighteenth of May, 1675, upon the site of the present city of Ludington, Mich. The following year, some friendly Indians removed his bones to St. Ignace, where they were buried by his brethren of the society in a vault beneath the chapel floor.
Such, in outline, is the brief, simple tragedy of one of the most interesting characters in American history. Father Marquette was great as an explorer, as a tamer of savages, as a preacher; and he has left to us, in the journals of his voyages of 1673 and 1674-75, two keenly interesting human documents. But still greater was he in his saintly character, which was ever an inspiration to his fellow laborers in the wilderness, and can but always command the cordial admiration of mankind.
The principal life work of Father Marquette was within the boundaries of what is now the United States; and herein his bones
xilie. We may, therefore, properly claim him as an American hero, intimately associated with the history of the Mississippi Valley. Other biographies of Marquette exist — notably those by Sparks and by Shea; but they are brief, and much has since been learned about the Jesuit missions and missionaries of the Northwest. It is now possible to treat of him with more knowledge, consequently at greater length. Slight space has here been given to the story of his ancestry, or of his early years in France. This is left for others, when more is known concerning them than is now available. It is sufficient for the present purpose to lay chief stress upon his work in the Western wilderness.
Whenever practicable, the present writer has drawn freely upon the annual Relations of the Jesuits, and upon Marquette's own journals, all of which have been made readily accessible through recent publication, in seventy-three volumes, by the Burrows Brothers Company, of Cleveland. It has thus been sought to convey a picture of the conditions surrounding our hero, delineated in large measure by himself and his contemporaries;
xiithereby admitting the reader to a more intimate view than would otherwise be possible. To the Burrows Brothers Company grateful acknowledgments are due for courteous permission to make liberal extracts from their edition; also for the use herein of several of its illustrations. Thanks are also due to the Hon. Sam S. Fifield, of Ashland, and Arthur C. Neville, Esq., of Green Bay, Wis., for topographical information concerning their respective localities.
R. G. T.
Chapter I. Laon and the Marquettes.
Eighty-seven miles by rail northeast of Paris, a long, rugged hill, some three hundred feet high, stands alone in the midst of a wide, rich plain upon which gardens, vineyards, orchards, groups of forest trees, and small white villages pleasantly alternate. Perched upon this rocky eminence is the ancient fortified city of Laon, now capital of the department of the Aisne, girt about by massive gray walls. To-day can be seen in Laon the remains of buildings erected nearly fifteen centuries ago, which, if gifted with speech, might testify as eye witnesses to some of the most stirring scenes in the troubled history of France.
The commanding position of the "Rock of Laon" early caused it to be selected as a place of defense. The Romans found here a
2considerable settlement of skin-dressed shepherds, gathered as in a tower of refuge from the raids of robber bands who terrorized the plain. The Christian faith had been brought to Laon in the third century, and in the year 515 Saint Remy, the "Apostle to the Franks," built here a rude cathedral. The French kings of the first and second dynasties made of this hill crest a stronghold. Under Louis V it was the last possession of the Carlovingian, or second, dynasty; the foundations of his great castle can still be seen. The Rock having at last become a center of power for oppressors, instead of a refuge for the oppressed, the commoners of Laon became turbulent. Through several centuries they waged a rough struggle with their masters, and were one of the first communities in northern France to throw off the fetters of feudalism.
Laon has been associated in some manner, directly or indirectly, with nearly all of the epoch-making incidents in the history of France. Long situated upon the frontier, it served as a rampart against eastern enemies; and many a conflict occurred within its walls
3when warring kings, nobles, and townsmen contended for its possession. Many times has Laon been besieged, although seldom captured. John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy, stormed it successfully in 1411; eight years later the English triumphantly entered within its gates, but ten years afterward they were driven out. In 1594 it was taken by siege under Henry IV; beneath its walls, in 1814, Bonaparte met a crushing defeat at the hands of Blucher; and in 1870 it capitulated to the Germans.
Early in the twelfth century, during times of great popular commotion, the Church of Rome strengthened its power here by building a fine new Gothic cathedral, which still stands as one of the most imposing historical monuments in France. Another interesting edifice is the collegiate church of Saint Martin, built in the thirteenth century; but the once celebrated abbeys of Saint Martin and Saint Vincent, long famed throughout Europe as seats of scholarship, have passed away. There are in Laon, also, the ruins of a remarkable leaning tower, of unknown age, like those of Bologna and Pisa. The old
4wall, flanked with small towers and pierced by a Gothic gate, alone remains of the former defenses, which had so often withstood the raging tide of medieval warfare.
Although most frequently mentioned in history as a fortress, the Laon of the middle ages was perhaps best known to men of that day as a center of learning and piety. From the time of Saint Remy to the outbreak of the French Revolution, eighty-seven bishops had ruled over the diocese; four of them were, after their deaths, canonized as saints — Genebaud, Latro, Canoald, and Serulphe. Three popes came from Laon. The most famous of them, Urban IV, had as a boy been a chorister in the cathedral; and when the citizens of Laon, who had helped to educate him, sent to Urban an address of congratulation upon his accession to the headship of the church, he said of the congregation of his old town: "it has cherished me as a mother, has fed me as a nurse, has protected me as a teacher, has enriched me as a benefactor." Laon's school was for centuries one of the most famous in Europe. Its greatest master was Anselm, who in the middle of the twelfth century attracted
5to his lecture-room so many scholars that they exceeded in numbers the inhabitants of the little city itself. Among these scholars were some of the best-known men in Europe, such as Abelard, and William of Champeaux.
Prominent among the citizens of this celebrated old hill town of Laon, with its splendid heritage of good, brave, and learned men, were the family of the Marquettes. Not themselves titled, they nevertheless were throughout many generations allied to the nobility by marriage, and were among the townsmen who persistently ranged themselves under the banners of the kings. Several of them attained high station in the service of their masters.
Vermand Marquette, a follower of the blundering Louis-le-Jeune (1137-80), is the first who is mentioned in the history of the town. His son Jacques followed John of France into captivity (1356), and four years later was largely instrumental in raising money to ransom the king from the English; he was rewarded by being made sheriff of Laon, then a position of much dignity and
6power. Three centuries later (1698), royal recognition of this act resulted in the Marquettes being permitted to place upon their coat-of-arms the three martlets carried upon the insignia of the city itself. So persistent had been the traditions of the family in the support of royalty that, when the city of Laon became a member of the Roman Catholic League against Henry IV (1589-1610), Nicolas Marquette, the father of the subject of our biography, and then a civic magistrate of eminence, stood as the friend of the king, and was consequently banished from his native town. In due time, when Henry's cause proved triumphant, Nicolas was richly rewarded for his loyalty. Nearly two hundred years after this event, three members of the Marquette family, serving in the French army which supported the American Revolution, lost their lives upon our soil in behalf of the liberty of the citizen as against the arrogance of the crown; a fourth, Marquette Plumaison, after having served under Washington, returned to Laon and died there in 1811. Another Marquette was a member of the upper house of the Parliament of Paris,
7at the outbreak of the French Revolution. Descendants of these men still live in the old town.
The Marquettes of Laon were distinguished not only in political and judicial life. Besides the great missionary whose romantic career we are to trace upon these pages, at least two of its members have won permanent places in the history of the Roman Church. A forefather of his mother — Rose de la Salle, of Reims, who died before 1710 — was the noted Jean Baptiste de la Salle, founder of the Order of Brothers of the Christian Schools, who, before modern systems of popular education were devised, freely instructed thousands of the poor boys of France. In 1685, eleven years after the death of our hero, his sister Françe founded a similar order, called Marquette Sisters, for the free education of girls. This order, to which Françe sacrificed all of her fortune, was widely successful throughout northern France; with the name changed to Sisters of Providence of Laon, its good work has continued, with but brief interruptions, down to our own times.
Chapter II. The Training of a Man of Action.
We have seen that Rose de la Salle, who married Nicolas Marquette, the principal adherent of King Henry IV at Laon, was allied to the famous Jean Baptiste de la Salle, founder of the Brothers of the Christian Schools. Thus were united, in the blood of our missionary, the virtues of distinguished connection with the church and philanthropy, and those qualities of head and heart which bore fruitage in high service to the state.
The Marquettes were blessed with six children: Louis, who was, for what reason we know not, nicknamed "Catalan;" Jean Bertrand, Michel, Françe, concerning whose order of Marquette Sisters we have already read, and who died upon the twenty-fifth of November, 1697; Marie, and, last and greatest, Jacques.
Jacques was born, as presumably were all of his sisters and brothers, within the battle
9scarred walls of the Rock of Laon. The date was June 1, 1637. Probably the most stirring period of his father's life had passed. His patron, King Henry, had been dead these twenty-seven years; and now Henry's feeble son, Louis XIII, was upon the throne, although behind him stood the inflexible Richelieu, minister of state, then at the height of his power. Spain and Austria were at the time invading France; but, before Jacques Marquette was two years of age, the enemy was turned back and France had successfully withstood the shock. That Nicolas continued in his official station throughout these times of storm and stress upon the frontier, there is no doubt; but the records are silent as to his deeds.
It has been contended that the household into which Jacques was born was the leading family of Laon. Apparently, its members were as wealthy as they were prominent. It is therefore reasonable to suppose that the youthful career of our hero was such as in that day became the son of a prosperous citizen and honored official. The soul-stirring story of old Laon, whose gates
10had been battered by more than a thousand years of warfare, must have strongly appealed to a sturdy youth in whose veins coursed the blood of centuries of valiant ancestors who had fought to preserve its walls intact. Possibly much of the broad plain dominated by the fortress town was the proud possession of his family. The times were such as to develop the "strenuous life." There were hours in which young Marquette of Laon must have felt strong within him the call to arms and to statesmanship.
But there was that other, and in a sense contrary, element in his blood and in his surroundings. His mother's predilections, were no doubt toward the church, and thither the steps of her youngest son soon led. The warrior within him, however, chose a priestly field which presented abundant opportunity for displaying the qualities of the scholar, the diplomat, and the soldier. Forsaking what worldly honors might be won by a man of great family and generous wealth, he elected, as did many another high-spirited youth of his day, to become a Jesuit missionary.
To the large neighboring city of Nancy,
11Marquette went shortly after his seventeenth birthday, and upon the eighth of October, 1654, we find him entered in the Jesuit college there as a novice. He studied also at Pont-a-Mousson, and after several years of preparation was received as a professed member of this celebrated order, which is devoted to education and to missionary effort. In the manner of most of the Jesuit missionaries of his time, he served for several years as a teacher, his work taking him into the schools of his order at Reims, Charleville, and Langres, where he appears to have won an excellent reputation as a student of languages.
Throughout the entire life of young Marquette the French Jesuits in Canada, then called New France, had carried on one of the most remarkable missionary enterprises in all history. Jesuit priests had first reached New France in 1611, nearly a decade before the landing of the Plymouth Pilgrims; but it was not until 1632, five years before Marquette's birth, that circumstances permitted them to commence with vigor their celebrated attempt to convert to Christianity the war-like
12Indians of Canada and the Mississippi basin.
For nearly a century and a half, this work of the Jesuit fathers was one of the chief elements in the story of New France. With heroic fortitude, often with marvelous enterprise, they pushed into the heart of the farthest wilderness while still there were but Indian trails to connect the widely scattered villages of the aborigines. Cultivated men, for the most part, trained to see as well as to think, they left the most highly civilized country in Europe to seek shelter in the foul and often inhospitable huts of the fiercest barbarians in history. To win these crude beings to the Christian faith it was necessary to know them intimately in their daily life, to follow them upon their hunting and their war parties, and often to accompany miserable bands which were fleeing from the wrath of a stronger enemy who swept everything before him; to know their speech, their habits, their manner of thought, their various peculiarities. No white men have ever become more expert in forest lore than were the Jesuit fathers. Never in any field of action
13has there been witnessed greater heroism than that of these devoted missionaries; and many of them were to lose their lives in the task, some by tortures as horrible as could be invented by the ingenuity of savage minds.
From 1632 until 1673 — the year of Marquette's discovery of the Mississippi — there was annually published in Paris a little volume called a Relation, which contained an account of the far-spread work of this Jesuit mission to the Indians for the twelve months previous: it was largely made up of extracts from reports or letters sent in by the missionaries to their superiors at Quebec. To-day these Relations are of very great value to historians, for from them are obtainable what is often the only information we have of affairs in New France for certain periods. During the time of their publication the Relations were exceedingly popular in France, especially among the aristocratic class. Their regular appearance was always awaited with the keenest interest, and assisted greatly in arousing the enthusiasm of benevolent people, who made rich gifts for the support of the missions, which required the
14constant expenditure of a great deal of money; they also awakened on the part of many Frenchwomen a desire to go out to New France as hospital nuns, and helped raise among the men the necessary recruits to offer up their lives and fortunes as missionaries to the savages.
No doubt young Marquette had eagerly read these Relations before he joined the Jesuit order; it is quite likely that they assisted in determining him to take the step, although it is reasonable to believe that his mother's pious inclinations also had much to do with his decision. We are told that throughout the twelve years which he spent in the service of his order in France, as student and as teacher, he was continually fired with missionary zeal, and longed for the day when he, too, might enter upon this field of martyrdom as a soldier of the Cross.
But the discipline of the Jesuit order is severe. Possibly his superiors were long of the opinion that he was not yet ripe for the sacrifice; meekness and gentleness were leading traits in Marquette's character, and these may not at first have seemed to fit him for the
15rude life of the missionary; or perhaps his success as a teacher may have seemed to mark him for a scholastic career. At all events, the young zealot was obliged throughout a dozen long years to practise patience, while inwardly yearning with all the intensity of his soul for a life of sacrifice in the North American wilds. The Relations had borne to him the story of the trials for the church suffered by such great brethren of his order as Biard, Massé, Charles and Jerome Lalemant, Ragueneau, Vimont, Le Jeune, Chaumonot, Bressani, Drüillettes, Dablon, and Allouez; they had recorded for him the martyrdom of Du Thet, the giant Brébeuf, Daniel, Garnier, the gentle Jogues, Góupil, Ménard, Chabanel, Garreau, and Gabriel Lalemant.
No wonder that the heart of this son of warriors was stirred to its depths by the recital of such heroic deeds as his brothers were, in the consecrated service of the church, daily performing in darkest America; that he fretted beneath the bonds which kept a man of action within cloistered walls. But, ever with his feverish ambition unchecked,
16young Father Marquette carefully patterned all the details of his own life after that of the greatest of the Jesuit missionaries, Saint Franç Xavier, who had planted the faith in fifty-two kingdoms of Asia. Thus did he bide his time.
Chapter III. Arrival in Canada.
When Father Marquette was twenty-nine years of age (in 1666), he received the long wished for orders from his superior to proceed to New France to prepare for the work of a forest missionary. A Jesuit priest, like a soldier, must be always ready to march. He was, therefore, not long in reaching some port in northern France, whence was bound a ship for Quebec.
In those days, crossing the Atlantic Ocean was far from being a pleasure excursion. The vessels were small, unventilated, and ill-arranged; they were tossed about by fierce tempests; cooking was often impossible upon them, because of the excessive motion; and the passengers suffered greatly not only from seasickness and ship-fever, and not seldom from scurvy, but frequently from bruises, sprains, or even broken limbs caused by rude pitching and rolling upon the turbulent
18waves. Navigation charts were but crude and pilots unskilled, with the result that shipwrecks were of frequent occurrence, often entailing prolonged misery and even death. Some of the graphic descriptions of voyages to New France, written by the early Jesuit fathers and published in the Relations, abound in horrors — although sometimes with comical situations, when viewed from the standpoint of a man who had successfully endured the passage — which must have cooled the ardor of any but the most enterprising or the most zealous of those who would seek fortune or opportunity for service in the New World.
But the ordinary trials and disasters of the voyage were increased by ever constant fear of the prowling ships of enemies. Wars were then frequent between the nations of Europe, and navigators did not always know with whom their kings were quarreling; news traveled slowly; and confiding captains sometimes unwittingly fell into the hands of enemies from whom they might have escaped had they known them to be such. Again, it frequently happened that the masters of fighting vessels
19did not always wait for a declaration of war before they attacked a foreign ship which seemed to promise rich returns in plunder. Many of the great voyagers whose deeds we celebrate in history were practically buccaneers, who, upon one pretext or another, preyed upon the craft of every other nation than their own. To-day, with improved morals in our international relations, we should call such conduct piracy, and would punish the corsairs very severely; but in earlier centuries it was counted a species of valiant adventure. The man who could bring home to the ports of his monarch the largest fleet and the greatest treasure, captured upon the high seas generally at the cost of much innocent blood, was, without any questions being asked, richly rewarded and perhaps made an admiral.
We should think it a great hardship to be obliged to run such dire risks of life, liberty, or property, even during the six or seven or ten days which now are consumed upon a voyage between France and North America. But when we reflect that the time ordinarily spent in such a journey was, in the day of
20Father Marquette, three months and not infrequently four, we may form some notion of the miseries of such a trip, with its physical and mental discomforts; and may be better able to appreciate the hardy spirit of the pioneer settlers and missionaries who emigrated to America in the seventeenth century.
The young priest has left us no account of the incidents of his voyage; but upon the pages of the interesting Journal which was kept by the superior of the Jesuits at Quebec, for the purpose of recording the principal events of their life there, we read under the date of September 20, 1666: "Father Jacques Marquette arrived, in good health, on the 7th ship." And one of the members of the Jesuit household, Father Thiery Beschefer, writing to friends in France, upon the fourth of October, said: "Father Marquette and Master Elie have arrived safely, after a somewhat protracted voyage — which, however, has been prosperous for them and for all of the 8 ships that have come to us from France. Not a single one of these fell into the hands of the English or of the Turks, although several were pursued."
This good fortune, however, did not accompany the last ship of the season from Franco, for in the Journal, dated October fifth, is the record: "Finally, the last ship, called the fortune blanche, arrived, after having encountered many dangers, — having lost her anchors, run aground 4 leagues from here, etc., — and, above all, after losing 5 men, who went ashore near Tadoussac, and are thought to have been captured by the Iroquois." Thus were there dangers to travelers, by land as well as by sea. Tadoussac was a small French and Indian settlement at the mouth of the Saguenay River, where an important fur trade was carried on by Frenchmen with the Indians of the lower St. Lawrence River and that vast territory, abounding in lakes and rivers, which reaches northward up to Lake St. John and to the back of Labrador. Vessels generally stopped there on the voyage between Quebec and France; but just then the Indians of the region, who were friendly to the French, were being attacked by the relentless Iroquois of New York State, who bitterly hated the French, and whose war path often led them
22to the very gates of Quebec. To wander into the tangled woods, out of reach of the guns of the little forts which protected the French settlements, often meant, in those days of Iroquois raids, either being felled by an unseen foe, or else captured and made to suffer slow death by savage torture. As no record appears of the return of the five missing men of the unfortunate ship "Fortune Blanche," it is fair to presume that they were carried to the home of the Iroquois, in the beautiful valley of the Mohawk, and there met a horrible fate.
The Quebec to which Father Marquette was introduced, together with the three other French Jesuits who had preceded him in August, was of course very different from the Quebec of to-day. Upon the summit of the lofty cliff which commands the St. Lawrence River and the surrounding country lived the officials, soldiers, priests, and nuns. Chief among the rude stone buildings upon this lofty crest were the residence (or "castle") of the governor, the church and "college" of the Jesuits, and the hospital and little convent of the Ursuline nuns. Along
23the rim of this rocky perch stretched massive stone walls, with gates and turrets — sufficient, when the height and steepness of the cliff are considered, easily to turn back any savage enemy armed only with slings, bows, and spears, or with flint-lock muskets; and proof against an ordinary siege by the light artillery of white enemies, whose ships could make small headway under the brows of this natural fortress. At the foot of a steep, narrow, and winding path which led down to the beach were ranged some warehouses kept by fur-traders and shipping men, with two or three score of mean dwellings and other structures clustered about them: here lived the bulk of the population. The tiny capital of New France, although it had been settled for half a century, contained only a few hundred inhabitants; indeed, all of New France, from Newfoundland to Lake Superior, boasted a white population of but ten thousand souls — soldiers, missionaries, nuns, fishermen, sailors, settlers, and fur-traders.
So great were the difficulties of keeping in touch with Europe, and such the hidden terrors of the almost untrodden wilderness
24which stretched limitless from this lofty rock, that in our day, at the dawn of the twentieth century, there exist few, if any, white settlements so far removed from civilization as was the Quebec to which Father Marquette lifted admiring eyes upon the twentieth of September, 1666.
The Jesuit missionaries of New France have, by their splendid deeds of exploration and of heroism, occupied so large a space in American history that not many of us realize how few of them were engaged in the service of attempting the christianization of the North American savages. Throughout the hundred and eighty years which elapsed between the coming of Fathers Biard and Massé (1611) and the death of Father Well (1791), but 320 Jesuit priests, scholastics, and lay brothers (or assistants) came to Canada from France; and probably at no time were over fifty-five employed in the service at once throughout the vast stretch of country from the Gulf of St. Lawrence, up the river and the Great Lakes, and down the Mississippi to New Orleans.
To the little party of his brethren gathered
25at Quebec, the young teacher brought welcome news from the houses and colleges of their order in France, and curious incidents of his long voyage; while his own eager questioning was rewarded by details of the life of sacrifice in the New World in which he was about to participate.
Winter in this northern latitude commences early. The autumn was now well sped. The novice who arrived upon the seventh ship must at once be set the task of acquiring the simplest essentials of his new calling — a knowledge of the Indians, their habits and their language, and the best methods of dealing with them from a missionary's standpoint. Besides this knowledge of the savages, he must learn the elements of woodcraft, or the art of living in the forest, leaving to the future that long and painful practice which alone can make him adept; and acquaintance with the methods and character of the fur-traders, whose commercial greed sadly corrupted the tribesmen, was quite as necessary an accomplishment, for not seldom was the trader the missionary's worst enemy.
Only twenty days were allowed the new
26arrival to recover from his voyage and get his bearings in Quebec. And then, the tenth of October, occurs this simple record in the Journal, in the firm handwriting of the superior, Father Franç le Mercier: "Father Jacques Marquette goes up to Three Rivers, to be a pupil of Father Drüillettes in the Montagnais language."
Our hero had at last entered upon his chosen field.
Chapter IV. Two Years of Apprenticeship.
Three Rivers is seventy-seven miles above Quebec, upon the northern bank of the River St. Lawrence, at the point where the waters of the St. Maurice empty into the larger stream. It was one of the earliest outposts of Canada and the center of a large Jesuit mission to the Indians. So slow had been the work of populating New France, that Three Rivers was, at the time of which we write, although thirty-two years old, still a small village of less than five hundred inhabitants.
Like that of Tadoussac, at the mouth of the Saguenay, the site of Three Rivers had from the earliest times been a favorite gathering place for hands of Indians when going to and from their winter hunts. When the French introduced the far trade, it proved a convenient point for the traders to meet the savages in spring and autumn. This was
28the reason why the Jesuits established a mission there. The missionary who was stationed at Three Rivers was always present at these semiannual trading "meets;" and when the wandering tribesmen returned to the wilderness he would accompany some selected band, sharing with them, if need be, upon their long and toilsome journeys, all the horrors of famine, pestilence, and intertribal war.
Such was the rude school to which Marquette was promptly sent by his superior. Father Drüillettes, then in charge at Three Rivers, a veteran from the missions in Maine, was himself a master in the many-sided art of the forest missionary, and proved an admirable instructor. The matter of language was a serious stumbling-block to many of the missionaries of New France. It is no small task to gain such knowledge of European tongues as may enable one to use them with ease in conversation; and these are formed upon acknowledged principles of philology, while grammars and dictionaries are available to the student. But the strange dialects of the Indian tribes are, many of them, crude
29and irregular in construction, often only distantly related to one another, and in many ways excessively difficult to acquire; although it should be mentioned that some of these tongues won the admiration of the missionaries for completeness of construction.
It was not given to every one of the Jesuits to become an adept in even one of the rude tongues which were spoken by the barbarians of Canada. Several of the learned fathers found it impossible to overcome the linguistic obstacles in their path, and were obliged either to return to France in despair or to take up parish work in the white settlements; while others, although not daunted by the problem, were, to their great disappointment, and despite their devotion to the task, physically and mentally unable to become accustomed to the wretched life and food of an Indian camp.
Young Father Marquette was, apparently, never a man of great strength, being fitted by physique to be a college professor rather than a tamer of savages. But he was made of stern stuff, and his natural aptitude for acquiring languages now stood him well
30in stead. He himself writes that he came to be expert in six Indian dialects, which is indeed a remarkable record. Thus in many ways did this stout-hearted scholar of Laon resemble his great model, Saint Franç Xavier, who spoke numerous tongues, carried the gospel to many lands, and died alone in the wilderness. For such a career and such a death Marquette devoutly prepared himself, hoping and praying for the very end which at last befell him.
Marquette had not yet attained prominence in his order; he was but one of many. Indeed, his death followed so closely upon his great explorations, that he himself never knew of the fame that he had won. The records of the time, therefore, contain no special mention of these two years of apprenticeship. But we know enough of the methods pursued to follow him clearly in imagination. He must have studied deep and hard with Father Drüillettes, at first at Three Rivers, and later at shifting Indian camps upon the vast network of rivers and lakes which lies northward of the St. Lawrence.
It must not be supposed that the Jesuits,
31in their long black robes and shovel-shaped hats, were always welcome visitors among their savage hosts. The invitation to the missionaries to accompany them was often grudgingly given; or, if tendered in good faith, was apt soon to be regretted.
From the pages of the Relations, wherein the experiences of each Jesuit father are carefully given, we gain a vivid picture of life in the primeval forest as he lived it. We seem to see him upon his long canoe voyages, squatted amid his dark-skinned companions, working his passage at the paddles and carrying heavy loads upon the portage trail; for the missionary, in order to keep the Indians in good humor, was obliged to labor as hard as, if not harder than, any of them. We see him often the butt and scorn of the savage camp; sometimes he is deserted in the heart of the wilderness and obliged to wait by the side of the river, or upon an island, for another fleet of boats, or to make his way alone as best he may. When at last he has arrived at his journey's end, we often find him vainly seeking for shelter in the squalid huts of the natives, with every man's hand
32against him, but his own heart open to all. We see him, even when finally housed in some far away village — perhaps in a little shelter of bark and reeds reared by his own bleeding hands — resorting to every known method of baptizing the young and the dying, either with or without their consent.
The Indian "medicine-men," who are at once physicians and priests, rely for their success chiefly upon the supposed powers of magic, with many cheap tricks to affect the imagination of the people. The Jesuits called them "sorcerers," and soon found in them a serious obstacle to their work; for of course the trade of the medicine-man was gone, in a village wherein a Christian missionary had won the faith of the people. Roused by the medicine-men, who invented strange tales regarding the missionaries, and perverted their every act into some mysterious ceremony connected with the powers of evil, the Jesuit would often find a steadily growing spirit of opposition. This sometimes would develop into a climax of superstitious frenzy which swept him before it, and perhaps cost him his life.
Affairs were not always in this gloomy stage. Now and then the "black robe," as he was called by the Indians, found that his welcome lasted as long as his stay. But, at best, he must bear his full burden of the rude life upon the trail or the voyage, or in the camp; must watch carefully the captious humors of his dusky friends, being careful by no word, gesture, or expression to wound their sensitive spirits, which were as quick to resentment as is tinder to the kindling steel.
In a circular of instructions issued in Paris to missionaries who were to accompany Indians in canoes up the Ottawa River to the Huron country, are these directions, which show us how careful were the Jesuit fathers to make themselves agreeable to the captious savages whom they sought to win to Christianity:
"You should love the Indians like brothers, with whom you are to spend the rest of your life. — Never make them wait for you in embarking. — Take a flint and steel to light their pipes and kindle their fire at night; for these little services win their hearts. — Try to eat their sagamité as they cook it, bad and
34dirty as it is. — Fasten up the skirts of your cassock, that you may not carry water or sand into the canoe. — Wear no shoes or stockings in the canoe; but you may put them on in crossing the portages. — Do not make yourself troublesome, even to a single Indian. — Do not ask them too many questions. — Bear their faults in silence, and appear always cheerful. — Buy fish for them from the tribes you will pass; and for this purpose take with you some awls, beads, knives, and fish-hooks. — Be not ceremonious with the Indians; take at once what they offer you: ceremony offends them. — Be very careful, when in the canoe, that the brim of your hat does not annoy them. Perhaps it would be better to wear your night-cap. There is no such thing as impropriety among Indians. — Remember that it is Christ and his cross that you are seeking; and if you aim at anything else, you will get nothing but affliction for body and mind."
In the same vein are the following suggestions by another missionary of the time, which are selected from a long letter filled with similar good advice, counseling humility
35patience, and long suffering on the part of Jesuits who are to spend their lives with the Indians:
"Journeys, and the cabins of the savages, are truly schools of mortification, of patience, and of resignation. — More is gained with all the savages by gentleness than by severity...and by patience than by anger. — It is well to do good to them, when the opportunity presents itself, and to assist them in their necessity; they remember and speak of it very frequently. — They are pleased with visits paid to their cabins, and consider themselves despised or hated by the missionary who does not visit them. — They are likewise pleased to find gratitude. — Nothing is ever lost by caressing the children, and by occasionally praising the young men and the hunters; by respecting the old people; by honoring the dead, and praying to God for them, etc. — One must not manifest any displeasure when the children scream or weep. — [The missionary] must, so far as possible, be ever gay and affable, and not be too familiar. — He must not be too long in saying prayers. — One must also avoid complaining
36of the food. — Unless [one] has great courage, and resolution to suffer, and some affection for the savages, he will have hardly any satisfaction."
The Jesuit missionaries were not always alone in their work. Oftentimes they were accompanied by devout laymen, who freely gave their services to the assistance of the fathers; these companions were called donnés (given men). Upon journeys they helped to paddle, and to carry loads over the portage trails or upon long marches through forests or across prairies; and sometimes were needed as protection to the missionaries. At mission stations they were useful in many ways. Some of them were trained physicians and nursed the sick, Indians and whites alike; others were armorers, and mended weapons and utensils for the savages; they hunted, fished, and raised rude crops for the fathers, who were thereby enabled more fully to visit the sick and the dying, instruct the tribesmen in the faith, conduct the offices of the church, and in general to forward their regular missionary work. The Jesuits became much attached to their faithful donnés;
37and some of these assistants, like Goupil, the companion of Father Jogues, suffered martyrdom as truly as the missionaries themselves.
In addition to the donnés, it sometimes was necessary at large missions to hire white men-servants to assist in the hard labor. Some of these men, donnés and servants, went into this work purely for the love of adventure, others as a means of learning forest lore and the Indian languages. Many of them, after years of severe training, went forth from Jesuit service to become explorers for the government of New France, or to conduct fur-trading operations on their own account, through the vast region between the Alleghany and the Rocky Mountains.
There is no doubt that during these two years, while a pupil of Father Drüillettes, Marquette wandered far and wide through the wilderness of the lower St. Lawrence, and drank deep from the cup of experience; for he appears to have emerged well-fitted to his task, being at once ordered to the farthest outpost upon the borders of New France, the land of the Ottawas.
Chapter V. The Indians and the Missions.
In order to understand these Jesuit missions, whose story forms one of the most thrilling chapters in human history, it will be necessary for us to consider briefly the various tribes or nations of Indians among whom they worked. The active rivalries of these tribes were, perhaps, the greatest obstacle which the missionaries had to face.
Were one asked to draw a map locating the several tribes at the time of Marquette, it would be impossible to do so, save in a general way. Owing to their wandering habits — sometimes ranging through hundreds of miles of wilderness, and frequently occupying land that had been but recently occupied by other bands — they shifted like the pieces of colored glass in a kaleidoscope. Then again, members of one tribe married into another, or were adopted; sometimes whole villages
39or tribes were merged into other villages or tribes, often as the result of wars; frequently the missionaries found villages composed of groups of a half dozen or more distinct tribes that were friendly to one another.
It is only in our day, when far more is known by scholars about the Indians, from a scientific point of view, than it was possible for the Jesuit missionaries to know, that it has been practicable to classify all these shifting and differing bands into groups or families; and this is done through a careful study of their languages — those who spoke dialects similar in character being classed together. Exactly in the same manner we divide the different and often warring nations of Europe into the Latin, the Slavic, and the Teutonic families, although all had a common origin in the old Aryan race. The American Indians are also of one race, from the Eskimos to the Patagonians; but upon resemblances in language we divide the Indians of North America, east of the Rocky Mountains, into families, the four most important being called Algonkins, Iroquois, Southern Indians, Siouan. Like the members of the linguistic
40families of Europe, not all of the various tribes included in any of these Indian families were alike in physique, customs, or in degree of civilization. Indeed, taken as a whole, the tribesmen differed very greatly in appearance, habits, and intellect — ranging from the Southern barbarians, some of whose tribes had made good progress toward civilization, down to the savage root-eaters of the Rocky Mountain region.
The Algonkins were the most numerous, and occupied the greater part of our country from about Nashville, Tenn., northward to Hudson Bay, and from the Atlantic westward to the Mississippi River, and northwestward to the sources of the Saskatchewan. Their best known tribes were the Indians of New England, those along the lower St. Lawrence River and northward, the Delawares, Miamis, Shawnese, Ottawas, Ojibwas, Sacs, Foxes, Crees, Pottawattomies, and Illinois. These savages were rough in their life and manners, and intensely warlike; obtained their living from hunting and fishing, and a crude agriculture; lived in rude wigwams covered with bark, skins, or mats made of
41reeds; and, although many had permanent villages, wandered far and wide in search of fish, game, and furs, or upon the war-path. Of all our Indians, we hear most of these in history, because through their lands came the largest and most determined movement of white population, both French and English. It was formerly thought that the Algonkins were very numerous; but it is now known that probably at no time did they number over 95,000 souls, possibly not over 50,000. There were vast stretches of their territory wholly unoccupied by them; had it been otherwise, white men would have found the opposition to settlement too great for them to overcome, save by slow and painful process.
The Iroquois occupied the greater part of New York State, much of Pennsylvania, the south shores of Lakes Erie and Ontario, and the upper St. Lawrence; they were planted like an island in the midst of the great Algonkin sea. There were five principal tribes in this family, — Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas, — and these formed a confederacy which bears the name in English
42history of "Five Nations,"
43The Hurons, lying to the east of the great lake of that name, had, although relatives, in 1649-50 been almost wholly exterminated by their "cousins" of the Five Nations. But in the very year and month of Marquette's arrival in Canada, the French severely punished the confederates, who had so long been making life a torment in the colonies on the St. Lawrence. Their villages were burned, and they were obliged to ask for mercy and for the presence of the Jesuits. This peace lasted for twenty years. The Iroquois probably numbered only 40,000 people — a remarkably small population to play so important a part as they did in American history.
The Southern (Maskoki) Indians occupied the country south of the Tennessee River, between the Mississippi and Savannah Rivers and the Atlantic. They were the Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Creeks, and Seminoles. Of a milder disposition than their northern neighbors, they wore further advanced in civilization; indeed, by the time of our Revolutionary War, they were in some respects not far behind the white frontiersmen of that region. They numbered not
44above 50,000 persons. The Jesuits did not do much work among these tribes; but the black gowns found it much easier to convert them than the rude nations of the north.
The Siouan (Sioux) family occupied for the most part the country beyond the Mississippi, although the Jesuits frequently met them to the east of the great river. They were and are a fierce, high-spirited people, who had little practice in agriculture, and wandered as freely as the Arab tribes; but, unlike the Arabs, they had no flocks, and war and hunting were their chief occupations. The Jesuits went but little among them; they met this family chiefly in the persons of the Winnebagoes, an outlying band which lived in Wisconsin and were in alliance with their Algonkin neighbors.
A complete linguistic map of North American Indians, at the time of European discovery, would show several other families east of the Rocky Mountains — the Eskimos, along the coasts of Labrador, Hudson Bay, and more northern lands; Beothukans, in Newfoundland; Ucheans, in Georgia; Timuquanans, occupying the greater part of the
45Florida peninsula; Caddoans, in Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, and North Dakota; Tonikans, in Mississippi and Louisiana; Natchesans, Attacapans, Chitimachans, and Adaizans, in Louisiana; Tonkawans, Karankawans, and Coahuiltecans, in Texas; and Kiowans in Nebraska, Wyoming, and Colorado; besides outlying groups of Iroquois in Virginia, North Carolina, and Mississippi, and of Algonkins in the Carolinas and Colorado. But, generally speaking, the four principal families first enumerated were those with which the story of New France is most concerned.
The tribes which the black gowns sought to bring to the Christian faith were, then, principally the Algonkins, the Hurons, and the Iroquois, and the Southern tribes in part. The field was enormous, being about two thousand miles in width, from Newfoundland to the head of Lake Superior, and a similar stretch from Hudson Bay to New Orleans. It became necessary, as their work was extended with each discovery of new lands to the west and southwest, to divide it into seven great centers of activity, each with several missionaries, whose superior reported
46every year to the superior general of the order in Quebec what had been done in his own field. These various missions were: That to the Abenakis of Acadia — the name given by the French to northeastern Maine, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick — and of Cape Breton Island; that to the Montagnais Indians, as the tribes of the lower St. Lawrence and the Saguenay were called — Tadoussac being the central station; the several missions at Quebec, Montreal, Three Rivers, and in that region, were united under common control; the mission to the Hurons, between Lake Simcoe and Georgian Bay, was, during much of its thirty-five years of existence, the most dangerous of all, because of the stolid barbarism of these cousins of the Iroquois, and later because the Hurons were frequently raided, and at last almost annihilated, by the Long House — a troublous period in which seven of the missionaries lost their lives in the work; the Iroquois mission, which had a severe experience, its principal martyr being Father Jogues; the Ottawa mission, about which we shall read in more detail upon later pages, because within this great field
47Father Marquette was destined to labor; and lastly, the Louisiana mission, to which he first pointed the way, but which was not established until after his death.
Now that we know something of the task in which the Jesuit missionaries were engaged, we can better appreciate the work to which Marquette had consecrated his life, and can with some sympathy accompany him upon his brief but brilliant career.
Chapter VI. Arrival at the Ottawa Mission.
Upon the twenty-first of April, 1668, good Father le Mercier, the Jesuit superior general, entered in the Journal kept by the missionaries at their house upon the cliff of Quebec, the fact that several of them were "going to embark, to go up the river," to Montreal. Among the number were "Father Marquette, two men, and a young lad to await an opportunity of going to the Outawak [Ottawa] country."
The tribes included in the Ottawa mission were the Ojibwas at Sault de Ste. Marie; the Beavers, the Crees, the Ottawas, and refugee Hurons on Lake Superior; the Menomonees, Pottawattomies, Sacs, Foxes, Winnebagoes, Miamis, Illinois, and those of the Sioux who lived on or near the banks of the Mississippi. The Ottawas were the first Indians from the upper Great Lakes to trade with the French, hence the vast district west
49of Lake Huron became early known as "the country of the Ottawas."
In order to reach his new field of labor, it would be necessary for Marquette to wait at Montreal until he could join a party going thither, either of fur-traders or of Indians who were returning home after a visit to the French settlements on the St. Lawrence. Such an expedition would necessarily proceed in bark canoes by the laborious route of the Ottawa and Mattawan Rivers, the French River, and Georgian Bay of Lake Huron. The question may naturally be asked, Why did the French pursue so laborious a path to the West as that of the Ottawa River? Why did they not take the natural route of the Great Lakes, as is done to-day? We have read, in the preceding chapter, that the dread Iroquois bated the French. Now the Iroquois, from their palisaded towns in New York, held firm control of Lake Erie. Indian tribes wishing to trade with the Dutch and the English at Albany (then called Fort Orange), who were the friends of the Long House, might upon this lake paddle their fleets of fur-laden canoes without hindrance,
50and no doubt many white traders from Albany were similarly favored. But Frenchmen and French-loving Indians must keep off. The result was that Huron was, so far as known records show, the first Great Lake seen by the French; next Ontario, next Superior, then Michigan, and lastly Erie. In the very nest year after Marquette went to the Ottawa country, the Iroquois first allowed French traders to use the lake which had so long been closed to them; but it was not until thirty years later that the Ottawa ceased to be the principal trade route to the West.
No details have come down to us of the journey of Father Marquette to the Ottawa country. He and his three white companions having joined a fleet bound thither, probably made the trip without particular incident; otherwise the Jesuits' Journal or some letter of the period would most likely have chronicled the event. The country of the Hurons through which they passed had, as we have seen, been swept by Iroquois several years before, and was now almost without inhabitants; the father was to see many members
51of this exiled tribe upon Lake Superior. Frequently canoe parties going up the Ottawa had encountered prowling bands from the Mohawk; but peace now prevailed, and the passage could be made with, but small danger from enemies, although disasters from shipwreck in the rapid current were not uncommon.
The traveler of to-day may follow very closely the route of Marquette from Montreal to Sault de Ste. Marie — wholly by rail, in drawing-room or sleeping-cars, or by rail to Owens Sound or Collingwood, thence by well-appointed steamers through "the thirty thousand islands" of Georgian Bay, out into Lake Huron, and among the Manitoulin Islands to St. Marys River and the Sault. It is one of the most interesting inland water journeys to be undertaken in North America.
Far different in manner and in speed, the method adopted by Father Marquette and his fellow-travelers two and a third centuries ago. In birch-bark canoes, white men and red, kneeling on rushes, bent to their paddles. Against the fierce currents of the St. Lawrence and the Ottawa but few miles could
52be covered in a day; even in descending French River, they probably progressed no more than thirty-five or forty miles between dawn and sunset; while upon the still waters of the lakes, perhaps twenty miles was their longest run, with wind and weather in their favor. But interrupting them must have been frequent head gales and waves too boisterous for the cautious Indians, who ventured not upon rough seas. On such occasions they camped upon the shore in the shelter of the woods, until the wind had gone down and the sea was again quiet.
Thus did our travelers creep along the lee banks of the St. Lawrence and up through the rocky defiles of the Ottawa and its western tributary, the Mattawan, with frequent carries around rapids and cataracts, and no doubt many a weary parley with visiting bands of greasy savages who came long distances through the woods and along tributary waterways to gaze with idle curiosity upon and to beg trinkets of the black robe. Following a portage trail to Lake Nipissing, the travelers reembarked upon those island-strewn waters and finally emerged into Lake
53Huron by way of French River. Then slowly their canoes wended through the maze of forested islands in Georgian Bay and along the bold shores of the lake beyond. Upon their right gloomy pine forests swept down in solemn grandeur to the water's edge, or thickly mantled the towering bluffs; while to their left the dark-green waters stretched to the horizon in sublimity. The frail barks were often tossed about like chips in the white-capped swells that swept with little warning around the headlands.
Thus, through storm and calm, they pursued their spasmodic voyage, picking up their food as they went along from the water and the forest, children of nature alone in the wilderness. At last the shore lines led them to the tortuous River of St. Mary, the outlet of Lake Superior. Some forty-five miles up this stream, and fifteen miles below Whitefish Bay, at the foot of Lake Superior, they encountered the broad cataract called the Sault de Ste. Marie, upon whose banks — wide flats, hemmed in with rounded, wooded hills some three hundred feet high — there was a large village of Ojibwas. This was the
54seat of the Ottawa mission, in the journey to which Marquette had spent probably the greater part of the summer.
The Ojibwas at the Sault had first been visited by Fathers Jogues and Raymbault in 1641. But nineteen years elapsed before another Jesuit arrived upon the scene. In 1660 the veteran Father Ménard, who was accompanying a large party of Ottawas, stopped here on his way to Keweenaw Bay, on Lake Superior, where, a little later, he held the first Christian service heard on the shores of the northern sea. After a wretched winter on that inhospitable coast, spent in a rude hut of fir boughs, with savage neighbors who mocked and annoyed him, he journeyed inland to the south to visit some Hurons who, having fled both from the Iroquois and the Sioux, were dwelling in the gloomy pine forest about the upper waters of Black River, in what is now Wisconsin. In August, 1661, he lost his life at a portage on the Wisconsin River, thus being the first martyr upon the Ottawa mission.
Four years later Father Claude Allouez set out for Lake Superior, and went to
55Chequamegon Bay, whither we shall, in our next chapter, accompany Father Marquette. To the Sault there came, about this time, Father Louis Nicolas, under the direction of Allouez, who was then superintending missionary efforts in this field. Apparently Marquette was to serve as the successor of Nicolas. As has been previously pointed out, the missionaries were sent hither and thither by their superior general at Quebec as seemed best for the service.
In the early days of the Huron mission the outlook appeared highly promising; but we know the evil days which afterward befell it. So in regard to the Ottawa country, the Relations of the first two years are aglow with the spirit of confidence. The missionaries were everywhere greeted by large audiences, and much curiosity was exhibited concerning the ceremonies of the church; but, as usual, the wandering habits of the Indians made instruction difficult, and the result, while less tragic, was hardly more satisfactory than in Huronia. The Jesuit fathers, with great toil and misery, and subject to daily danger and insult, followed their people
56on long hunting and fishing expeditions; and even when the bands had returned to the squalid villages, life there was almost as comfortless as upon the trail.
The Relation for 1668-69 thus hopefully refers to the work in the Lake Superior district: "The Mission of the Outaouacs is now one of the finest in new France. The scarcity of all things, the brutal disposition of those Savages, the remote situation, — three or four hundred leagues away, — the number of the tribes, and the promise that an entire nation has just made to Father Aloez [Allouez] after a general council, to embrace the Christian Faith — all these are things that make all our Missionaries wish for that Mission with a very ardent zeal."
The author of the Relation, Father le Mercier, writing probably in the autumn of 1669, describes affairs at the Sault, as they have been described to him by Allouez, who went down to Quebec that summer to seek reenforcements: "The first place where one meets those upper nations, who are almost all Algonquin, is the Sault, more than two hundred leagues distant from Quebec. It is
57there that the Missionaries have stationed themselves, as the place best suited for their Apostolic labors, — the other tribes having been accustomed for some years to betake themselves thither, in order to go down to Montreal or Quebec to trade. A location has been chosen at the foot of the Rapids in the River, on the South side, nearly under the 46th degree of Latitude; and the cold is much less severe there than it is here, although we are in nearly the same latitude."
This report from Marquette, giving the result of his first winter's work, closes the encouraging account of the Ottawa mission: "Father Marquette writes us from the Sault that the harvest [of souls] there is very abundant, and that it only rests with the Missionaries to baptize the entire population, to the number of two thousand. Thus far, however, our Fathers have not dared to trust those people, who are too acquiescent, fearing lest they will, after their Baptism, cling to their customary superstitions. Especial attention is given to instructing them, and to baptizing the dying, who are a surer harvest."
Chapter VII. The Sault and Its People.
In the Relation for 1666-67, which must have been written about the time that Father Marquette arrived at the Sault, Father le Mercier devotes a chapter to the Ottawa mission, He gives us this rather forbidding account of the people of the Sault de Ste. Marie, among whom our hero was now to labor:
"Toil, famine, scarcity of all things, ill treatment from the Barbarians, and mockery from the Idolaters, form the most precious portion of these Missions.
"As these Tribes have, for the most part, never had any intercourse with Europeans, it is difficult to imagine the excess of insolence to which their Barbarism carries them, and the patience with which one must be armed, in order to bear with them.
"We have to do with twenty or thirty Nations, all different in language, customs,
59and Policy. We have to bear everything from their bad humor and their brutality, in order to win them by gentleness and affection. One must make himself, in some sort, a Savage with these Savages, and lead a Savage's life with them; and live sometimes on a moss that grows on the Rocks, sometimes on pounded fishbones, — a substitute for flour, — and sometimes on nothing, — passing three or four days without eating, as they do, whose stomachs are inured to these hardships. But they also eat without inconvenience, in a single day, enough for a week, when they have an abundance of game or of fish. Fathers Claude Alloëz and Louys Nicolas have passed through these trials; and if penances and mortifications contribute greatly to the conversion of Souls, it can be said that they lead a life more austere than that of the greatest Penitents of the Thebaid, and yet do not cease to occupy themselves indefatigably in their Apostolic functions. These are: Baptizing the children, teaching the Adults, comforting the sick and preparing them for Heaven, overthrowing Idolatry, and making the utterance of their message
60resound to the extremities of this end of the World.
"Father Jacques Marquette went to their aid, with our Brother Louys le Boëme; and we hope the sweat of these brave Missionaries, which is watering those lands, will render them fertile for Heaven. Within a year they have Baptized eighty children, of whom several are in Paradise. That mitigates all their hardships, and fortifies them to undergo all the labors of that Mission."
Father Dablon, a veteran from the Iroquois country, arrived at the Sault in the summer of 1669, to succeed Allouez as superior of the Ottawa mission. After a year's experience in the Lake Superior country, Dablon wrote to Le Mercier, and his letter appears in the Relation of 1669-70. It will interest us to read some extracts therefrom, for by this means we shall learn something more of the life which Father Marquette had been leading during his year at the Sault, and the sort of people among whom his lines were cast.
Here is a graphic word-picture of the
61Sault itself, and the Indians who assembled there:
"What is commonly called the Sault is not properly a Sault, or a very high waterfall, but a very violent current of waters from Lake Superior, — which, finding themselves cheeked by a great number of rocks that dispute their passage, form a dangerous cascade of half a league in width, all these waters descending and plunging headlong together, as if by a flight of stairs, over the rocks which bar the whole river.
"It is three leagues below Lake Superior, and twelve leagues above the Lake of the Hurons, this entire extent making a beautiful river, cut up by many Islands, which divide it and increase its width in some places so that the eye cannot reach across. It flows very gently through almost its entire course, being difficult of passage only at the Sault.
"It is at the foot of these rapids, and even amid these boiling waters, that extensive fishing is carried on, from Spring until Winter, of a kind of fish found usually only in Lake Superior and Lake Huron. It is called in the native language Atticameg, and
62in ours ‘whitefish,’ because in truth it is very white; and it is most excellent, so that it furnishes food, almost by itself, to the greater part of all these peoples.
"Dexterity and strength are needed for this kind of fishing; for one must stand upright in a bark Canoe, and there, among the whirlpools, with muscles tense, thrust deep into the water a rod, at the end of which is fastened a net made in the form of a pocket, into which the fish are made to enter. One must look for them as they glide between the Rocks, pursue them when they are seen; and, when they have been made to enter the net, raise them with a sudden strong pull into the canoe. This is repeated over and over again, six or seven large fish being taken each time, until a load of them is obtained.
"Not all persons are fitted for this fishing; and sometimes those are found who, by the exertion they are forced to make, overturn the Canoe, for want of possessing sufficient skill and experience.
"This convenience of having fish in such quantities that one has only to go and draw
63them out of the water, attracts the surrounding Nations to the spot during the Summer. These people, being wanderers, without fields and without corn, and living for the most part only by fishing, find here the means to satisfy their wants; and at the same time we embrace the opportunity to instruct them and train them in Christianity during their sojourn in this place.
"Therefore we have been obliged to establish here a permanent Mission, which we call sainte Marie du Sault, which is the center for the others, as we are here surrounded by different Nations, of which the following are those which sustain relations to the place, repairing hither to live on its fish.
"The principal and native Inhabitants of this district are those who call themselves Pahouitingwach Irini, and whom the French call Saulteurs [Ojibwas], because it is they who live at the Sault as in their own Country, the others being there only as borrowers. They comprise only a hundred and fifty souls, but have united themselves with three other Nations which number more than five hundred and fifty persons, to whom they
64have, as it were, made a cession of the rights of their native Country; and so these live here permanently, except the time when they are out hunting. Next come those who are called the Nouquet, who extend toward the South of Lake Superior, whence they take their origin; and the Outchibous, together with the Marameg, toward the North of the same Lake, which region they regard as their own proper Country.
"Besides these four Nations there are seven others dependent on this Mission. The people called Achiligouiane, the Amicoures, and the Mississague fish here, and hunt on the Islands and in the regions round about Lake Huron; they number more than four hundred souls.
"Two other Nations, to the number of five hundred souls, — entirely nomadic, and with no fixed abode, — go towards the lands of the North to hunt during the Winter, and return hither to fish during the Summer.
"There remain six other Nations, who are either people from the North Sea, as the Guilistinons [Crees] and the Ovenibigonc [Winnebagoes], or wanderers in the regions
65around that same North Sea, — the greater part of them having been driven out of their Country by famine, and repairing hither from time to time to enjoy the abundance of fish here."
And then the writer goes on at much length to say that the missionaries have resolved to make, in the near future, an expedition to Hudson Bay, chiefly to find, if possible, a supposed waterway leading to Asia. Like other citizens of New France, the Jesuits were always eager for exploration, and the vague reports which the Indians brought from the extreme north quickened their imaginations, Joliet and Marquette's discovery of the Mississippi, soon after this, turned their attention toward the south; although thirteen years later (1686) one of their number did reach Hudson Bay in the company of French soldiers who went thither to drive away the encroaching English.
From the earliest period of the Jesuit missions, the wandering habit of the Indians prevented the missionaries from obtaining a deep hold on the people, particularly the young; efforts were therefore made throughout
66out many years, on the lower St. Lawrence River, to gather the savages into villages, called "reductions," where they could practise agriculture and be under the constant supervision and teaching of the priests. This was not possible at the Sault, but Father Dablon writes:
"To render them more stationary, we have fixed our abode here, where we cause the soil to be tilled, in order to induce them by our example to do the same; and in this several have already begun to imitate us.
"Moreover, we have had a Chapel erected, and have taken care to adorn it, going further in this than one would dare promise himself in a Country so destitute of all things. We there administer Baptism to children as well as Adults, with all the ceremonies of the Church; and admonish the new Christians during the holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The old men attend on certain days to hear the word of God, and the children gather there every day to learn the Prayers and the Catechism."
Chapter VIII. At La Pointe Mission.
Near the southwest corner of Lake Superior there is a deep notch cut in the line of shore. This arm of the great lake has from the earliest historic times been known as Chequamegon Bay. To the east of the bay, a natural breakwater separating it from the outer sea, lies a narrow spit of sand and gravel some six miles long, called by the French, from its shape, "La Pointe;" upon the north several rocky, wooded islands, the Apostles group, hem in Chequamegon and serve as a windbreak; the western shores are often steep cliffs of brown sandstone, crowned with a dark forest of pine. This graceful land-locked harbor, in size about twelve miles long by five wide, is one of the beauty-spots of the western waters.
To the shores of Chequamegon numerous Indian tribes habitually resorted, especially in the fishing seasons; partly because here,
68as at the Sault, fish were unusually plentiful, but also because the bay was isolated and seemed to afford a secure refuge against the Iroquois of the East and the Sioux of the West. Here, too, were portage trails leading over to the headwaters of several south-flowing streams — the St. Croix, Black, Chippewa, and Wisconsin Rivers; and we shall see that at Chequamegon Bay Marquette met Indians from the Mississippi, which is not far distant to the southwest, and gained his first information regarding the great waterway with which his name will forever be associated. When the Hurons fled before the Iroquois raids in Huronia, they first tarried at the straits of Mackinac. But here the Iroquois discovered them, and, with Ottawas and Ojibwas from the Sault de Ste. Marie, they dispersed as far northward as Point Keweenaw, on Lake Superior. Still fearing the Iroquois, who speedily ascertained their whereabouts, they retreated into Wisconsin; finally, after many adventures, settling upon an island in the Mississippi River, a few miles above Lake Pepin — opposite the present Red Wing, Minnesota. The
69Sioux, in whose country they now were, treated them with marked hospitality, which they repaid with such insolence that their hosts turned upon them and they were obliged again to flee. The majority of the Hurons hid themselves in the forest upon the headwaters of the Black River; we have seen that, in trying to reach them, Father Menard lost his life. The Ottawas and the remaining Hurons fled to the fishing-ground of Chequamegon Bay, whence, in case of attack, they could readily escape into the almost inaccessible swamps lying just over the watershed to the southward.
So far as we know, the first white men to visit Chequamegon Bay were Radisson and Groseilliers, two French fur-traders in whose company poor Father Ménard had traveled as far as Keweenaw Bay. The traders, in their bark canoes laden with goods, had pushed on to Chequamegon, and there (in the autumn of 1659) built a little log fort to protect themselves and their wares. After trading with the Indians far and near — exchanging guns, hatchets, kettles, and trinkets of glass, silver, and brass,
70for the skins of fur-bearing animals — they made long expeditions into the wilderness, going as far into the northwest as Lake Assiniboine. It is thought by some historians that, four years before this (in 1655), upon a previous visit to central Wisconsin, they discovered the Mississippi River — eighteen years before Joliet and Marquette; but concerning this we shall, in a subsequent chapter, have more to say.
The place where Radisson and Groseilliers built their log hut, generally considered as the first dwelling erected by white men on the shores of Lake Superior, appears, so far as we can now judge, to have been upon the mainland, between the modern towns of Ashland and Washburn. Six years later (October, 1665) Father Allouez came to Chequamegon to open a mission to the Indians. He chose his site not far from the spot where the fur-traders' hut had been erected — possibly at the mouth of Vanderventers Creek. The long, sandy breakwater which guards the bay to the east is a conspicuous object in the view, and led Allouez to name his mission and the locality "La Pointe du Saint
71Esprit" (Point of the Holy Spirit). This name came in time to be shortened to La Pointe, commonly used to represent the entire region around Chequamegon Bay. We also shall find it convenient to adopt the term in this sense.
When Allouez arrived at La Pointe, he found encamped there representatives of several friendly tribes — Ojibwas, Pottawattomies, Kickapoos, Sacs, and Foxes, all of them Wisconsin savages; besides these, Hurons and Ottawas, who had fled in droves from the east and the south before the advance of their Iroquois tormentors; and Miamis and Illinois, who came chiefly to trade. On or near the shores of the bay were five villages, whose people lived chiefly "on fish and corn, and rarely by hunting." Fifty villages, far and near, and a population of about fifteen hundred souls were, however, connected with the mission, and among all of these the Jesuits were expected to labor.
Allouez at once attracted large congregations of natives, who, bedecked in paint and feathers, and wearing robes of fur,
72assembled out of curiosity to see and hear the strange black gown. But he was soon sadly treated by them, and won the hearts of only a small band of followers. For four years he labored alone in this wide wilderness, hoping against hope, varying the monotony of his dreary task by occasional canoe voyages to Quebec, distant over a thousand miles by water, to report to his superior general.
Finally, Allouez becoming discouraged, it was thought best to send him to found a mission on the Fox River, near Green Bay, among more favorable surroundings, and to replace him at La Pointe by a more youthful and less jaded missionary. Marquette was accordingly, upon the arrival of Dablon at the Sault, sent to relieve Allouez at this the farthest western outpost of French influence in North America. It proved a forlorn hope worthy the bravery of any of the soldiers who, in olden times, went forth to battle from the creaking gates of Laon.
It was with no trembling that young Father Marquette set forth upon his hazardous enterprise. Here, rather, was at last what he had long prayed for. We find in his
73report to Father le Mercier, published in the Relation of 1669-70, a subdued note of triumph at this fulfilment of his ambition. It is an interesting letter, filled with minute particulars of the people and of his work among them, written after a winter of experience. Too long to repeat here in full, we may, however, profit from a few extracts — remembering that in those early days there was no regular method of spelling Indian names, the missionaries simply giving them in a crude fashion as they were pronounced. Indeed, spelling, punctuation, and use of capitals, in either French or English, were not then, as they are to-day, regulated by well-established rules.
Marquette says that, coming direct from the Sault, he arrived at La Pointe upon the thirteenth of September (1669), after "a Voyage of a month amid snow and ice, which blocked our passage, and amid almost constant dangers of death;" which serves to illustrate the earliness of the winter season in this northern region. He went at once to visit the Indians in the neighboring clearings. "The Hurons, to the number of four
74or five hundred souls, almost all baptized, still preserve a little Christianity. Some of the chief men, assembled in a council, were very glad to see me at first; but when I informed them that I did not yet know their language perfectly, and that no other father was coming to the place, — both because they had all gone to the Iroquois; and because Father Allouez, who understood them thoroughly, had been unwilling to return to them for this Winter, because they did not take enough interest in Prayer — they acknowledged that they were well deserving of this punishment. Since then they have spoken of the matter during the Winter, and resolved to do better, as they have declared to me."
Some of the other tribes, however, he thinks "very far from the Kingdom of God...They turn Prayer to ridicule, and scarcely will they hear us speak of Christianity; they are proud, and without intelligence." In such cases he contents himself with baptizing the sick and dying.
The father relates many curious incidents of his attempts, not always successful, to
75combat the idolatries of the savages. One of the clans of Ottawas, it appears, had in a formal council of the tribe promised Father Allouez to receive the Gospel. To them Marquette promptly went upon his arrival, and thus tells of his reception: "All the Christians were in their fields, harvesting the Indian corn. They heard me with pleasure when I told them that I came to la Pointe only out of consideration for them and for the Hurons; that they should never be forsaken, but cherished more warmly than all the other nations; and that they had only one common interest with the French. I had the consolation of seeing their fondness for prayer, and the great account they make of being Christians; I baptized the new-born babes, and visited the Elders, whom I found all favorably disposed; and when the Chief had permitted that a dog should be suspended from a pole near his Cabin, — a kind of sacrifice that the Savages make to the Sun, — and I had told him that was not right, he went himself at once and threw it down. A sick man, instructed but not yet baptized, begged me to grant him that grace, or else
76to remain near him, because he did not wish to employ the juggler for his cure, and he was afraid of Hell-fire. I prepared him for Baptism, and was often in his Cabin, the joy that he felt in consequence partly restoring his health. He thanked me for the care that I had taken of him, and soon after, saying that I had given him his life, he gave me a present of a slave that had been brought to him from the Illinois, two or three months before."
Previous to his starting for Chequamegon, Marquette had received orders to establish a mission among the Illinois Indians as soon as he could in turn be relieved. This fact induces him to learn whatever he can concerning them from the representatives of the tribe at La Pointe. In this letter, therefore, we obtain our first glimpse of the people among whom Marquette was soon to pass his last days. The Illinois, he says, "are distant from la pointe thirty days' journey by land, by a very difficult route." They "are mainly gathered in two Villages, containing more than eight or nine thousand souls."
The Illinois are worshipers of the sun and of thunder, but he thinks them well inclined to Christianity; for Father Allouez had exercised considerable influence over those of the tribe who had heard him at La Pointe. "Those whom I have seen," writes Marquette, "seem to be of a tolerably good disposition...and they promise me to embrace Christianity, and observe all that I shall say in the Country. With this purpose in view, the Outaouaks gave me a young man who had lately come from the Illinois, and he furnished me the rudiments of the language, during the leisure allowed me by the Savages of la Pointe in the course of the Winter. One can scarcely understand it, although it is somewhat like the Algonquin; still I hope, by the Grace of God, to understand and be understood, if God in his goodness lead me to that Country."
Then he alludes, but modestly and without complaint, to some of the disagreeable features of missionary life, showing that he had a clear head, and was not beguiled by these fair promises of the savages from the south: "One must not hope that he can avoid Crosses
78in any of our Missions; and the best means to live there contentedly is not to fear them...After the fashion of the savages, the Illinois wish for us in order that we may share their miseries with them, and suffer every imaginable hardship of barbarism. They are lost sheep, that must be sought for among the thickets and woods."
The Illinois, he tells us, "journey always by land; they raise Indian corn, which they have in great abundance, have squashes as large as those of France, and have a great many roots and fruits. There is fine hunting there of Wild Cattle, Bears, Stags, Turkeys, Ducks, Bustards, Pigeons, and Cranes. The people quit their Village some time in the year, to go all together to the places where the animals are killed, and better to resist the enemy who come to attack them. They believe that, if I go to them, I shall establish peace everywhere, that they will always live in one place, and that it will be only the young men who will go hunting."
And now we come to his first mention of the Mississippi River, which henceforth became the goal of his ambition: "When the
79Illinois come to la Pointe, they cross a great river which is nearly a league in width, flows from North to South, and to such a distance that the Illinois, who do not know what a Canoe is, have not yet heard any mention of its mouth. They simply know that there are some very large Nations lower down than themselves, some of whom, towards the East-Southeast of their Country, raise two crops of Indian corn in a year. A Nation that they call Chaouanou [Shawnee] came to see them last Summer; and this young man who has been given me, and is teaching me the language, saw them. They are laden with glass Beads, which shows that they have communication with Europeans. They had come overland a journey of nearly thirty days, before reaching the Country. It is hard to believe that that great River discharges its waters in Virginia, and we think rather that it has its mouth in California. If the Savages who promise to make me a Canoe do not break their word to me, we shall explore this River as far as we can, with a Frenchman and this young man who was given me, who knows some of those languages and has a
80facility for learning the others. We shall visit the Nations dwelling there, in order to open the passage to such of our Fathers as have been awaiting this good fortune for so long a time. This discovery will give us full knowledge either of the South Sea or of the Western Sea."
In the paragraph just quoted above, we obtain a glimpse of the hazy notions which learned people entertained at that time concerning the interior of our continent. It will be remembered that Columbus died in the belief that he had reached the eastern shores of India. Even when it was discovered that a continent lay between Europe and India, navigators thought that it could be but a narrow body of land. Jean Nicolet, the exploring agent of Governor Champlain of New France, visited the West in 1634, only thirty-five years before Marquette's letter, and supposing that he was to meet Chinamen in Wisconsin, prepared a gown of Chinese damask in which to array himself for the ceremony. Marquette himself thought that the "South Sea" or the "Western Sea" — as the Pacific Ocean was then variously called by the
81French — was not far distant from Lake Superior. Some geographers of his time had claimed that the Mississippi flowed southeastward and emptied into the Atlantic Ocean through Virginia; others, that it poured into the South Sea, or Pacific, through California, which was believed to be much nearer than it finally proved to be. To the South Sea theory Marquette leaned; but the South Sea into which the Mississippi was found to flow is a sea of which the good father had but scanty knowledge — the Gulf of Mexico — or the "Gulf of Florida," as some of his contemporaries called it.
We learn from this letter of the missionary to his superior many interesting things about the brown children of the forest whom he meets at La Pointe — most of them unfavorable, a few praiseworthy. There are, he hears, nations living on the Ohio "who use wooden Canoes." The Illinois "are warriors and take a great many Slaves, whom they trade with the Outaouaks for Muskets, Powder, Kettles, Hatchets, and Knives." The Sioux, a large nation who live to the southwest of La Pointe, "are the Iroquois of
82this country;" their villages are numerous, and "extend over a great deal of territory. Their manners and customs are quite extraordinary: they chiefly adore the Calumet [pipe of peace], and say not a word at their feasts; and, when any stranger arrives, they feed him with a wooden fork, as one would a child. All the nations of the Lake make war on them, but with little success. They have the wild oats, use little Canoes, and keep their word inviolate...I could wish that all the Nations had as much love for God as these people have fear of the French; Christianity would soon be flourishing." The Assiniboines told him of Lake Winnepeg, and reported seeing Frenchmen there in canoes with sails. The Crees dwell to the northwest of La Pointe, "are always in the woods, and have only the Bow to live by."
It is fortunate for us that the Jesuit missionaries were obliged by a rule of their order to keep diaries of their work and notes of their impressions of what was seen and heard. To that rule we owe such letters as this one by Father Marquette. Were it not for these we should have but imperfect
83knowledge of how unwearyingly the missionary of La Pointe toiled for the conversion of the heathen, or what sort of folk were the strange tribes to whom he ministered, at the time when first they came under the influence of white men.
Chapter IX. Lake Superior Abandoned.
The French, in the course of their long and hazardous explorations throughout the interior of our continent, were not only engaged in the fur trade and in converting the savages. As opportunity arose, they were seeking deposits of lead, iron, copper, and the more valuable metals. We find in the Jesuit Relations numerous references to this pursuit of new mines. The missionaries were themselves much interested in the search, especially for copper, which was then scarcer than it is to-day.
In the Relations for 1669-70, Father le Mercier has an entire chapter "On the copper mines which are found in Lake Superior." We now know that the great deposits of copper in this region lie upon the southeastern shore of the lake, in upper Michigan, and on Isle Royale, near the north shore.
85But in those early days there was much uncertainty as to their location.
The Indians were used to mining copper in a rude way, chiefly on Isle Royale; from it they made axes, knives, spear-heads, beads, and other weapons, utensils, and ornaments. The chance visitor to lonely Isle Royale may to this day discover, scattered about in the pine forests and half-filled with the débris of two or more centuries, hundreds of the deep pits from which brown men of old extracted their copper ore. Clean one of these pits of its rubbish, and there will be brought to light the rude ladders and stone tools of the ancient miners, and possibly evidences of the fires which they built to soften the ore before breaking it from the veins.
Owing to the wandering habits of the savages and their custom of bartering goods with other tribes, articles of copper became distributed all over the Northwest, although mostly in Wisconsin. White men finding these articles, also pieces of "float copper," borne by glaciers to far-distant points, were at first misled as to the whereabouts of the ordinary Indian, unless he himself
86lived in the copper country, had very little notion of where it was; then again, the Indians who did know would not say much about it, because they believed that certain powerful spirits lived in the ore veins who would punish them for telling the palefaces where they dwelt. It is small wonder that the Jesuit fathers encountered difficulties in seeking mines.
Le Mercier writes that the missionaries have at last discovered that Isle Royale — he calls it the "isle of Minong" — is particularly renowned among the Indians for its copper mines. "The Savages say that it is a floating Island, which is sometimes afar off, sometimes near, according to the winds that push it and drive it in all directions." None of the missionaries have yet reached it, but hope to begin discoveries there in the following summer, "when we go in search of lost and wandering sheep all through the region of that great Lake." As for the floating island theory, it is shrewdly guessed that the "mists with which it is often laden, by becoming thin or dense under the Sun's rays, make the Island appear to the observer
87sometimes very near, and other times farther away."
But the promised voyage of discovery to the mysterious copper mines of Isle Royale could not be made. An event was happening, at about the time this Relation was being written, that meant the death-blow to Jesuit missionary efforts on Lake Superior, from La Pointe to the Sault. Father Dablon, then superior of the Ottawa missions, thus describes the catastrophe in the Relation for 1670-71:
"These regions of the North have their Iroquois, as do those of the South. They are a certain people called the Nadouessi [Sioux], who, as they are naturally warlike, have made themselves feared by all their neighbors; and, although they use only bows and arrows, they yet handle them with such skill and readiness as to fill the air with shafts in an instant — especially when, like the Parthians, they face about in their flight; for then they discharge their arrows so rapidly as to render themselves not less formidable when fleeing than when attacking.
"They live near and on the banks of that
88great river called Missisipi, of which further mention will be made. They comprise no fewer than fifteen Villages of considerable size, and yet know not what it is to till the soil for the purpose of sowing seed. They are content with a kind of marsh rye which we call wild oats, which the prairies furnish them naturally — they dividing the latter among themselves, and each gathering his own harvest separately, without encroaching on the others.
"They are sixty leagues from the head of Lake Superior in a Westerly direction, and well-nigh in the center of the Nations of the West — with all of whom they are at war, in consequence of a general League formed against themselves as against a common foe.
"They speak a Language peculiar to themselves, and entirely distinct from that of the Algonquins and Hurons, whom they far exceed in magnanimity — being often content with the glory of winning a victory and sending back free and uninjured the prisoners taken by them in battle.
"Our Outaouacs and Hurons of point
89saint Esprit had thus far maintained a sort of peace with them; but as their relations became embroiled during the past winter, some murders even being committed on each side, our Savages had reason to fear the storm might burst over them, and deemed it safer to leave their location."
Marquette, not knowing the Sioux language, had sent religious pictures to these fierce but magnanimous warriors of the West. By this means he sought, says the Relation, "to convey to them some idea of our Religion and teach them through their eyes." Upon the breaking out of the quarrel, the Sioux, with that formal dignity in which Indians delight, returned to the missionary the pictures which he had given them, and then declared a general war against the people of La Points.
The long peace had encouraged the several tribes represented in the numerous villages of the La Pointe neighborhood to cultivate extensive fields. Before the coming of white men, most of the tribes east of the Mississippi River — unlike the Sioux, concerning whom Dablon writes — had large planting
90grounds, their principal crops being maize (Indian corn) and pumpkins; to which they were enabled, according to locality, to add wild berries, nuts, wild rice (or oats), and roots; while occasional hunting and fishing trips, often occupying much of their time, varied the monotony of village life, and produced additional food and raiment for their stores.
But the fur-trader changed all this. The Indian, who was fond of barter, was now encouraged to kill animals for their furs alone. This brought welcome excitement; and the skins he could exchange for weapons, utensils, clothing, and ornaments, all of which he had before that laboriously made for himself. Unfortunately, the trader also sold to them intoxicating liquors, and thus a new vice, the cause of many of their future troubles, was introduced among a simple and impressionable people. This feature of the fur trade was sharply attacked by the Jesuits; but the traders were so strong that they were able to overcome the opposition of the church, and to fight back so effectively that at times the missionaries found
91themselves in much trouble with the officials of New France, nearly all of whom were in some way concerned in commerce with the Indians. The result of the fur trade was soon to convert the Indian from a village agriculturist into a wandering hunter, to cause him to forget how to make his own materials, and for these to rely almost wholly upon the white man. Formerly independent, he now became a dependent — the first step in his downfall. The Indians of La Pointe lived so far away from the track of the traders that they seldom saw them; hence they were still attached to their villages and fields and their old ways of life.
It was thought impossible, in this fateful spring of 1671, for the La Pointe savages, who had again been the aggressors, to overcome the threatened onslaught of the indignant Sioux. A retreat was decided upon, and we may well be sure that at first there was much anxiety as to where the new haven or refuge should be.
To go farther westward would be fleeing into the lair of the lion; eastward were the Iroquois, who but a few years before had
92ravaged with firebrand and tomahawk the country from central New York to the mouth of Green Bay, and through Illinois as far as the Mississippi. But of late the fangs of the Iroquois had been somewhat dulled by the French; a peace had been signed with them, and for the time being they were no longer formidable.
Forty miles or so southward was the rocky rim of the Lake Superior basin; beyond it vast areas of tamarack swamps, the headwaters of rivers which, flowing over swift rapids and through long reaches under dark, overhanging pines, finally emptied their floods into the great Mississippi — a region abounding in bad spirits, fierce human enemies, and beasts of prey. To the Mississippi Marquette himself would have been glad to go; but the trails thither were guarded by hostile Sioux, and there was naught now to be gained by placing his head in the lion's mouth.
The Ottawas determined to return to their old planting grounds on Manitoulin Island, in the northern waters of Lake Huron. But the Hurons, now the most numerous
93of the La Pointe Indians, turned their thoughts toward an earlier home of theirs, where they had stopped for a time in their flight from the Iroquois, who had, however, followed them thither and driven them farther westward. This was the island of Michillimackinac, fifty miles to the southwest of the Sault, as the crow flies, upon a strait where the waters of Lake Michigan, sharply turning to the east, run swift to mingle with the Lake of the Hurons. The climate was mild, fish were plentiful, the sandy soil was adapted to growing maize; it was upon the path of the Illinois and Wisconsin tribes who went by water to Montreal and Quebec, and was isolated from the Sioux; and should the Iroquois ever again take the war-path and venture thus far, their canoes might from some bold headland be seen for twenty miles away over the green waters to the east, and time be gained for fight or flight.
This island to which the Hurons had decided to fly, and whither Marquette was to accompany them, had already been selected by the Jesuits as a mission station. Indeed, a mission called St. Ignace had been opened
94there in the year before Marquette's arrival. Father Dablon says in the Relation for the year:
"Missilimakinac is an Island of note in these regions. It is a league in diameter, and has such high, steep rocks in some places that it can be seen at a distance of more than twelve leagues.
"It is situated exactly in the strait connecting the Lake of the Hurons and that of the Illinois [Michigan], and forms the key and the door, so to speak, for all the peoples of the South, as does the Sault for those of the North; for in these regions there are only those two passages by water for very many Nations, who must seek one or the other of the two if they wish to visit the French settlements.
"This circumstance makes it very easy both to instruct these poor people when they pass, and to gain ready access to their countries.
"This spot is the most noted in all these regions for its abundance of fish, since, in Savage parlance, this is its native country. No other place, however it may abound in
95fish, is properly its abode, which is only in the neighborhood of Missilimakinac.
"In fact, besides the fish common to all the other Nations, as the herring, carp, pike, golden fish, whitefish, and sturgeon, there are here found three kinds of trout: one, the common kind; the second, larger, being three feet in length and one in width; and the third, monstrous, for no other word expresses it — being moreover so fat that the Savages, who delight in grease, have difficulty in eating it. Now they are so abundant that one man will pierce with his javelin as many as 40 or 50, under the ice, in three hours' time."
Father Dablon then proceeds to state that both the island of Michillimackinac and the mainland nearby were once largely populated by several tribes of Indians who had been driven westward by the Iroquois; and thither came, in winter, the Indians from the Sault to fish in the deeper waters, for in that season fishing in St. Marys River was impracticable. He says that it is reported to him that a good many years ago, before white men penetrated to the country, there were no less than thirty villages, apparently
96on the mainland to the south, which "had intrenched themselves in a post a league and a half in circumference, when the Iroquois...came and defeated them."
"In short," says Father Dablon, "the abundance of fish, and the excellence of the soil for raising Indian corn, have ever proved a very powerful attraction for the tribes of these regions, the greater number of whom live only on fish, and some of them on Indian corn. Hence it is that many of these same tribes, seeing the apparent stability of the peace with the Iroquois, are turning their eyes toward so advantageous a location as this, with the intention of returning hither, each to its own country, in imitation of those who have already made such a beginning on the Islands of Lake Huron. The lake, by this means, will be peopled with nations almost from one end to the other — which would be very desirable for facilitating the instruction of these tribes, as we would not be obliged, in that case, to go in quest of them two and three hundred leagues on these great Lakes, with inconceivable danger and fatigue on our part."
To their old homes upon the islands of Manitoulin and Michillimackinac, therefore, the people of La Pointe determined to go. Doubtless the time for deliberation was brief. The missionary's presents to the Sioux had been returned, and war had been declared against his erring but still beloved people. Although the enemy magnanimously gave them time to depart in peace, to tarry long would be but to invite destruction.
Runners were sent out through the several villages. Stores of dried food were gathered. Hundreds of birch-bark canoes were constructed upon the shores of Chequamegon Bay. The conical wigwams, covered with great sheets of birch-bark, were no doubt allowed to remain, as being too bulky for the slender craft; but we may reasonably suppose that the skins and rush mats which served as walls and partitions for many, were carefully bound into bales and placed in the canoes, along with food, clothing, and the tools and implements of agriculture, the chase, and war.
Throughout this brief and busy season of preparation, we may, in imagination, see the
98black-robed hero of this life-story, with iron will but delicate physique and spiritual face, passing from village to village, giving good counsel of every sort; by brave word and sympathetic glance cheering the faint-hearted, ministering to the sick, baptizing children, giving such practical instruction as he might, and so far as possible helping in the hurried work.
When at last the fleet of canoes was packed and ready, and the growing crops destroyed lest they give sustenance to the enemy, no doubt the missionary, surrounded by his little band of French and Indian followers, held farewell service in the little bark hut which had served him for a chapel, fervently praying for the day when La Pointe might again be the center of christianizing influences, even to taming the hearts of the marauding Sioux.
There is no doubt that, as the frail flotilla, packed with crouching savages and their rude belongings, cautiously crept along the base of the brownstone bluffs of Lake Superior upon its long and painful journey of five hundred miles, the soldier of the cross,
99pausing in his paddle-stroke, raised a hand in benediction as the mission site, consecrated by the devotion of Allouez and himself, sank from view below the western horizon. More tearful still would his farewell have been could he but have foreseen that never again, in the history of New France, would a Christian missionary set foot upon the forest mantled shores of Chequamegon Bay; for now was the once hopeful field of Lake Superior abandoned for over a hundred years to the fur-trader and the savage.
Chapter X. Arrival at Mackinac.
Point Keweenaw, which projects nearly a hundred miles into the waters of Lake Superior from the southern shore, would have greatly increased the distance between La Pointe and the Sault had early navigators been obliged to paddle around it; but this bulky peninsula is almost bisected by a chain of lakes and rivers, thus making the crossing a light task for canoemen. This short-cut route had been followed by Radisson and Groseilliers, Ménard, and Allouez, and by the Western Indians who came to the Sault to trade; and now it was used by the fugitives from La Pointe. Past the Pictured Rocks, fantastic in form and color, they wended their way as wind and weather permitted. Each night, or while storms raged upon the deep, they camped upon open stony beaches or nestled in deep ravines; occasionally fishing and hunting, to replenish their slender
101stores. The Indians, after their custom, frequently offered sacrifice to the storm manitou by casting clothing or food into the waves, amid wild shrieks and the beating of rude drums by juggling medicine-men. On such occasions Father Marquette, hastily setting up a rude altar and gathering the faithful about him, offered prayers to the Christian's God — confident, in his simple faith, that the fantastic, bigoted medicine-men were but sorcerers and the agents of the evil one. Following slowly the curving beach of Whitefish Bay, they crept cautiously until the narrowing shores contracted into St. Marys River, down which sweeps the deep, dark flood of Superior's overflow, to be dashed into foam over the rapids of the Sault.
Here they tarried for a time, for this was Marquette's old mission home. Father Gabriel Drüillettes, one of the oldest of the Jesuit missionaries, and Marquette's instructor at Three Rivers, was now in charge of the work at the Sault. For over twenty years had Drüillettes been engaged in ministering to savages all the way from the Abenakis in
102Maine to the Ottawas and Hurons on Lake Superior. He is a familiar character in New England history, because in 1650 he went as an agent of the French to visit the Puritans of Eastern Massachusetts, and suggest to them a union between New France and New England against the Iroquois. The Puritans were kind to him, for he succeeded in making an agreeable impression upon these stanch haters of Catholics; but the proposed union was not effected.
It strikingly illustrates the daring enterprise of the French, in the exploration of the interior of our continent, when we find the very Jesuit missionary who had been the guest of the Pilgrim Fathers at Plymouth, now manfully laboring among strange tribes of savages over a thousand miles westward, while the English missionaries had not yet ventured more than a hundred miles from the sea.
At the Sault, Drüillettes had been quite successful; he was a good physician, and had wrought many cures among the Indians, who accordingly respected his powers. All save the scheming medicine-men, who were ever
103the enemies of the black robes; for if their people lost faith in witchcraft, or no longer worshiped manitous in the olden way, and preferred white men's remedies to the fooleries of magic, then was the trade of the medicine-man gone, and his power in the village departed. But the improvement was seldom for long. If some one died under the missionary's treatment, or some disaster swept over the band, the black robe was in his turn discredited, and the medicine-man again in favor, with his nostrums and his noisy incantations to the spirits of earth and sky and water.
Finally leaving the Sault, the La Pointe Indians and their teacher with his French assistants descended the winding, island studded River of St. Marys. At its mouth the little fleet divided into two sections, the Ottawas proceeding eastward to Manitoulin Island, where Father Louis André was awaiting them; the Hurons paddling westward to their old haunts upon the island of Michillimackinac, upon which, as stated in the preceding chapter, St. Ignace mission had already been established.
It has been held by most historians that St. Ignace mission was always located upon the mainland, to the north of the island, where is now the little city of St. Ignace, Mich., which contains a monument erected on the supposed site of the old chapel. The Jesuit fathers, in writing their letters from the heart of the American wilderness, were more particular to record conversions and other spiritual experiences than to state the exact localities of their missions. They did not foresee that their often vague geographical allusions would cause dispute two centuries later, when antiquarians came to discuss historic sites.
It is with difficulty that some of the sites of the early Jesuit missions in New France can now be established even approximately. The location of St. Ignace has been among these puzzles, although not so difficult as some of them. That the mission was first upon the island, and probably within the present village of Mackinac, a careful reading of the Relations should convince any one. That it was afterward moved to the mainland, to the St. Ignace of to-day, there can
105be no reasonable doubt; but when and under what circumstances we do not know.
It is reasonable to suppose that this removal took place in the year after Marquette's arrival; and there is abundant ground for belief that the St. Ignace monument, which is visited each summer by several thousands of tourists, represents the place where stood his little mainland chapel. Quite likely the island, at first resorted to because of its safety from attack by foes, was found too small for the villages and fields of the Indians who now centered here in large numbers; and moreover was found difficult of approach in time of summer storm, or when the ice was weak in spring and early winter. The long continuance of peace with the Iroquois removed for the time all danger from that quarter, and events proved that they had made their last attack upon the tribesmen of these far western waters.
It was probably midsummer when Marquette and his Hurons, after slowly threading their way between the forest-clad islets which stud the northwest shore of Lake Huron, finally arrived at the island of Michillimackinac
106The scene which greeted them is one of the most interesting in North America.
The two sharp-pointed peninsulas of Michigan approach each other from north and south to within somewhat less than four miles. Between them lie the straits of Mackinac — the waters of Lake Michigan rushing through this narrow, island-cleft passage to join Lake Huron, being increased about forty miles to the eastward by the outflow from Lake Superior. In the center of the strait, toward its eastern end, rises Michillimackinac — a word in our day shortened to Mackinac — in shape much like a high-backed turtle, in allusion to which some scholars suppose that the Indians named the island. Its southern shore is fringed by grassy bluffs enclosing a mile or more of pebbly beach, backed by a level, fertile strand upon which Indians had camped and planted from very early times, and upon which to-day rests the tourist-resort village of Mackinac. From the bluffs above is obtainable a commanding view of land and water. It is a strategic point of much importance, at the junction of three great lakes — for the
107possession of which, in the olden days of the fur trade which centered here at Mackinac, England and America came more than once to blows. Northward the bluffs gradually descend in graceful undulations and with curious rock protuberances to the water's edge — the rocky beach now known as "British Landing."
Across the intervening four miles of water the cape of St. Ignace rises, a wide beach of sand hemmed in by dreary bluffs, which sometimes are pointed by jagged pillars of stone; while southward across the strait may be seen the sandy stretch where is now the village of Mackinaw City, in whose neighborhood the English built their first fort of logs, a hundred years after Marquette's arrival.
Mackinac Island is a beauty spot to-day, even when its bluffs are crowned by rambling hotels and the multifarious summer homes of wealthy citizens of Chicago, St. Louis, and Detroit; when the island is traversed by dusty macadamized drives; when, in summer, the wharves are lined with noisy, bulky steam craft from ports all the way
108from Buffalo to Duluth; when, in winter, ice crushing ferry-boats transfer railway trains between St. Ignace and Mackinaw City, and garish souvenir shops and bawling guides and cabmen ply their trade among thousands of summer tourists who "do" the island sights while their steamers replenish stores.
But in the days of good Father Marquette, Michillimackinac was indeed an earthly paradise. The sky hereabout was unusually clear; light breezes, wafting over the wide waters, brought relief in the warmest days; the air was freighted with the odor of the balsam; the island was heavily wooded, chiefly with cedars, beeches, oaks, and maples, presenting a pleasing variety of form and color when seen from the highest bluffs, which, rising over three hundred feet above the straits, gave to the missionary a far-reaching view of land and water, almost incomparable.
Eastward, but over the edge of the horizon, his Ottawa friends were encamped upon Great Manitoulin Island, with Father André as their priestly counselor. Northeastward,
109a long and tortuous journey by canoe, but only fifty miles away in a bee-line over the tops of the trees, he could from his vantage point almost see the Sault, where he had lately left Father Drüillettes at his hopeless but beloved task. But to the west no doubt his eyes most often wandered. Over the waters of Lake Michigan he saw in fancy rise the land of the Winnebagoes, the Pottawattomies, and the Mascoutins; the land where Father Allouez, whom he had succeeded at La Pointe, was still laboring for the salvation of forest clans; the land whence flowed the Mississippi, upon whose banks he hoped to discover new nations to whom might be told the fruitful story of the Cross.
Chapter XI. A Strenuous Life.
The life of a Jesuit missionary was of the strenuous sort; there was little time for dreaming upon hilltops. Father Marquette's work pressed upon him from every side. Mackinac Island and the mainland to north and south were the center of a considerable Indian population, gathered in villages of a half-dozen friendly tribes, Hurons and Algonkins. Among them the black-robed man of Laon journeyed by canoe and on foot, sometimes making expeditions as far as the Sault, where in June (1671) the French agent St. Lusson had, with much ceremony, and in the presence of Fathers Dablon, Drüillettes, Allouez, and André, taken possession of the entire western country.
An Indian village, although no paradise, is picturesque. Each tribe has its own peculiar style of wigwam; and Mackinac, lying on a favorite highway, was much visited by
111different peoples traveling to and from all points of the compass, who brought with them their simple houses; the Relation of 1671-72 refers to the island as "the great resort of all Nations going to or coming from the North or the South." But the rude, long huts of the resident Hurons, sheathed with bark of cedar, of course prevailed upon the island beach: a hut housing several families, each of which huddled around its own fire, the smoke from which finally found exit through holes in the roof, after first half-blinding the savages themselves. A family had its own platforms on either side of the fire, with rude bunks above, and supplies of food and clothing beneath. Partitions there were, of bark or of furs; nevertheless there was little privacy. Pestiferous insects of many varieties, snarling dogs, crying children, quarreling neighbors, the medicine-men as they sought with barbarous din to drive bad spirits from the bodies of the sick, and the almost intolerable smoke, combined, with the prevalent uncleanliness, to render life within doors a torment. Small wonder is it that the missionaries dwelt in their own huts
112when possible, although ever liable to intrusion, and suffering keenly from the general uproar of the hamlet.
Baptizing infants, attending the aged and the sick, preaching the gospel as occasion demanded, assisting the people at their simple tasks, teaching them better methods, being ever on the alert lest wily medicine-men upset their best-laid plans, making long and dangerous trips to distant villages; and all the while winning their own food from the water and the forest, mending and often making their own clothing, and yet never failing to make note of impressions and experiences for the benefit of their superiors, who expected regular reports — all this amply filled the life of Marquette and his French donne's.
That he was reasonably successful at Mackinac, as the missionaries measured success, is evident from the Relation of 1671-72, wherein says Father Dablon, now the superior general at Quebec: "This Nation having been trained in Christianity years ago, before the Hurons' destruction, those who have continued in the Faith now display,
113great fervor. They fill the Chapel daily, visit it often during the day, and sing God's praises there with a devotion that has communicated itself in no small measure to the French who have witnessed it. There the grown people have been baptized, and the old people set the children an example in their assiduous attendance at prayers. In a word, they observe all the exercises of piety that can be expected from a Christian body organized more than 20 years ago — although it has been, most of that time, without Church, without Pastor, and without other Teacher than the Holy Ghost."
But a scholar of Marquette's broad vision was not content with simply telling of his missionary experiences. He had been schooled in such science as was current in his day, and for the benefit of his fellows at home forwarded accounts of the natural phenomena which interested him in this faraway outpost of French influence. In the Relation of 1670-71, he of course furnishes the material from which Dablon writes the account of the mission; and very likely even the language of the account may be that of
114Marquette himself, for the Relations were largely made up by the superior general of extracts from the letters of the missionaries, sometimes with credit, but more often without. The winds and the tides greatly interest him, partly because they are an inconvenience to his French assistants, who are not such good fishermen as the Indians accustomed to these waters: "First, the winds. This spot is midway between three great Lakes which surround it and seem to be incessantly playing ball with one another — the winds from the Lake of the Ilinois no sooner subsiding than the Lake of the Hurons sends back those which it has received, whereupon Lake Superior adds others of its own. Thus they continue in endless succession; and, as these Lakes are large, it is inevitable that the winds arising from them should be violent, especially throughout the Autumn."
The tides of the Great Lakes, or what appear to be tides, are particularly noticeable here at Mackinac, and the report discusses them at some length. The writer of the account, whether it be Marquette or Dablon, deems it possible that they may be
115"caused by the winds, which, blowing from one direction or another, drive the water before them, and make it run in a sort of flow and ebb." This also is the modern view of the phenomenon. He thinks it possible that Lake Superior has a subterranean outlet hereabout, for "we have discovered a great discharge of water gushing up from the bottom of the Lake, and causing constant whirlpools in the strait between the Lake of the Hurons and that of the Ilinois." He is the more inclined to this theory because of his opinion that St. Marys River is too small to accommodate the natural overflow from Lake Superior. The tides and the gushing currents, he says, break the nets of the fishermen, or drive them upon the jagged rocks at the bottom of the lake.
In the Relation of 1672-73 there is given in full an interesting letter written from Mackinac to Father Dablon, by Father Marquette, evidently being sent to Quebec by a party of Indians who were going in their canoes to the capital of New France upon a trading trip. In this letter, probably written in the autumn of 1672, nothing is said
116of any change of location in the mission. The name Michillimackinac was given by the French to all the neighboring region, island or mainland, so that it is impossible to say exactly where the missionary was stationed when be wrote his letter. But, as has been stated in the previous chapter, it is probable that by this time he had removed to Point St. Ignace, four miles northwest of the island. There, certainly, the chapel was situated five years later, when the bones of our hero arrived for burial.
Marquette begins by saying that the Hurons, fearing an attack from Iroquois, had built a stockade in the summer just past, to surround their cabins. This was in the immediate neighborhood of the mission chapel, which was very likely but a bark hut, much resembling the long houses of the Hurons — the front end fitted up as a church, with a rude altar, silver vessels upon it, and pictures hung about, illustrating the lives of Christ and the saints; while the rear served the Frenchmen as a dwelling. Of his dusky parishioners the father writes:
"They have been more assiduous at
117prayer, have listened more willingly to The instructions that I gave Them, and have acceded to my requests for preventing grave misconduct and Their abominable Customs. One must have patience with savage Minds who have no other Knowledge than of the Devil, whose slaves they and all Their forefathers have been; and they frequently relapse into those sins in Which they have been reared. God alone can give firmness to Their fickle minds, and place and maintain Them in grace, and touch Their Hearts while we stammer into Their ears.
"This year the Tionnontateronnons [Hurons] were here to the number of three hundred and eighty souls, and they were joined by over sixty souls of the Outaouasinagaux [Ottawas]. Some of the latter came from The mission of saint Franç Xavier [De Pere], where Reverend Father André spent last winter with them; and they appeared to me to be very different from what they were when I saw them at The point of saint Esprit. The Zeal and patience of that Father have won over to The faith hearts which seemed to us to be very averse
118to it. They desire to be Christians, they bring Their children to the Chapel to be baptized, and they are very assiduous in attending prayers.
"Last Summer, when I was obliged to go to sainte Marie du sault with Reverend Father Alloues, The hurons came to The Chapel during my absence, as assiduously as if I had been there, and The girls Sang the hymns that they knew. They counted The days that passed after my departure, and continually asked when I was to return. I was absent only fourteen days; and, on my arrival, all proceeded to the Chapel, to which many came expressly from their Fields, although these were very far away.
"I cheerfully attended Their feasts of Squashes, at which I instructed them and called upon Them to thank God, who gave them food in abundance while other tribes, who had not yet embraced Christianity, had great difficulty in preserving themselves from hunger. I cast ridicule on Their dreams, and encouraged those who had been baptized to acknowledge him whose Adopted children they were. Those who gave feasts,
119although still Idolaters, spoke most honorably of Christianity, and they were not ashamed to make The sign of The Cross before every one. Some young men, against whom jests had been directed to prevent Them from doing So, made It in The largest meetings, even when I was not present.
"Some Christian Hurons who came up from Quebecq and Montreal declared, at the outset, that they would not attend meetings wherein God was offended; that if they were invited to feasts, they would follow The Custom of the Christians. They placed themselves on my side when I was able to be present, and maintained Their Freedom when I was absent."
He then proceeds to tell of some of his apparent conversions. But he fully recognizes, from sad experience with them, that in many eases this supposed change of heart is but temporary; for he says: "I trust that what they do through respect and through Fear will one day be done through love, and with the desire of being saved."
He attends some of their dances, but disapproves of most of them as being
120superstitious, and succeeds for a time in stopping them. "I did not fail during The autumn to go and visit them in Their Fields, where I instructed Them and made Them pray to God, and told Them what they had to do. I also made frequent and regular visits to them — especially those who, owing to their advanced age, could not come to the Chapel...Since there was as yet no Bell for the Chapel, I went to notify Them" of the services of the church. During the year he baptized two adults and twenty-eight children. His letter thus concludes:
"God has aided in a special manner The Hurons who went to Hunt; for he Led Them to places where they killed a great number of Bears, Stags, Beavers, and Wildcats. Several bands failed not to observe the directions that I had given Them respecting prayers. Dreams, to which they formerly had recourse, were looked upon as Illusions; and, if they happened to dream of bears, they did not Kill any on account of that; on the contrary, after they had had recourse to prayer, God gave them what they desired. This, my Reverend Father, is all that I can
121write to Your Reverence respecting this mission, where men's minds are more gentle, more tractable, and better disposed to receive The instructions that are given them than in any other Place. Meanwhile, I am preparing to Leave It in The hands of another missionary, to go by Your Reverence's order and Seek toward The south sea new nations that are unknown to us, to teach Them to know our great God, of whom they have hitherto been Ignorant."
Chapter XII. Joliet Arrives at Mackinac.
When Jacques Marquette was an eight-year-old lad, a scion of the proudest family in Laon, there was born (1645) in the little riverside hamlet at the foot of the rock of Quebec a boy whose name will forever be mentioned with his own whenever men speak of the French discovery of the Mississippi River. Louis Joliet was the son of a poor wagon-maker in the employ of the great fur-trading company which then controlled New France; he died when Louis was six years of age.
As Louis grew to manhood he developed considerable capacity in several directions. He appears to have been at first selected for the priesthood, and spent several years as a student in the Jesuit house in Quebec; he even took some of the preliminary vows of that order. In 1666 and 1667, just after he had reached his majority, we find him
123mentioned in the records as "clerk of the church" in the seminary of Quebec.
Quebec was then but a small village upon the outskirts of civilization, and people of every sort were thrown together with more or less intimacy. The little band of Jesuits, both priests and scholars, of course lived beneath the same roof, and, with aims in common, formed lifelong attachments. Marquette had arrived from France in 1666. Although he was eight years older than Joliet, they were both young and impressionable, and appear to have become fast friends. But Joliet abandoned his priestly studies at about the same time that Marquette left for Three Rivers to study under Drüillettes. In October, 1667, Joliet went to France, spending a happy year in the land of his parents.
Upon his return to Canada he adopted the calling of an explorer, as did many another ambitious young man of his time, and entered upon the training then essential to success in that arduous field. Like the Indian, the professional explorer must understand the craft of the wilderness. He must know
124how properly to interpret the moods of nature; to silently wend his way in the darkest and thickest forest, and to live alone, far from his base of supplies. It was essential for him to acquire the art of fashioning shelter huts, weapons, utensils, sleds, and canoes; and he must be a good hunter, fisher, and cook. He must patiently endure the experience of life in the Indian camps; must readily acquire Indian dialects; must not be failing in tact; must, in times of danger, be alert, resourceful, and brave. Such rearing had Jean Nicolet, who in 1634, first of all known Frenchmen, journeyed into the region of the upper lakes. Nicolas Perrot, Duluth, La Salle, Tonty, and the Jesuit missionaries, all studied in this rough school, and were successful only as they proved good pupils.
Widely divergent as were now the callings of the two young students, it is curious to see how close from the first lay their paths of action. In the year 1669, when Marquette was sent to take charge of the mission at Chequamegon Bay, Joliet, in the capacity of interpreter and Indian expert, accompanied a party instructed by the governor of New
125France to search for copper mines in the Lake Superior region. Two years later, soon after Marquette arrived at Mackinac Island, we find Joliet with the party of St. Lusson, the political agent who, as related in a preceding chapter, formally took possession of the Northwest country in the name of the great king of France.
Joliet appears to have spent much of his time for several years in the region of the upper Great Lakes, hunting for copper mines and learning the numerous dialects of the Algonkins and their neighbors. In both the Jesuit and official reports of the period he is always spoken of as a man of discretion, bravery, and unusual ability, who might be trusted to do difficult work.
It must not be supposed that Father Marquette was alone in his yearning to explore the great River of the West, and thus to solve the geographical problem of the day — whether it flowed into the Gulf of California or the Gulf of Mexico, or southeastward through Virginia. Long before Marquette was born, adventurous Frenchmen had been eager to find the mysterious river concerning which
126savages brought vague but glowing reports to the Jesuit missions of Huronia and to the fur markets of Quebec and Tadoussac. Champlain had dreamed of reaching its banks; but the affairs of the colony caused him to turn homeward after only reaching the shores of Lake Huron — in itself a notable achievement. We have seen that those gay rovers, Radisson and Groseilliers, who went forth "to discover the great lakes that they heard the wild men speak of," may have also paddled their canoe upon the Father of Waters in the summer of 1655. There are those who think that Robert Cavelier, known to history as La Salle, prince of Western explorers, traded for furs upon the Mississippi as early as 1670; but no good reason for this belief has been advanced. In the early summer of that same year Fathers Dablon and Allouez were at the Mascouten village, not far from the Wisconsin River, which three years later Joliet and Marquette were to descend to the Mississippi. "It was," writes Allouez in the Relation for 1669-70, "a beautiful river running southwest without any rapid. It leads to the great
127river called Messi-sipi, which is only six days' sail from here." Dablon, who soon after returned to Quebec as the superior general of his order in New France, had, throughout his many journeys in Wisconsin and along the shores of Lake Superior, persistently sought information regarding, the mysterious river. In the Relation of 1670-71 he gives a map of Lake Superior and says:
"It is a Southward course that is taken by the great river called by the natives Missisipi, which must empty somewhere in the region of the Florida sea, more than four hundred leagues hence...Some Savages have assured us that this is so noble a river that, at more than three hundred leagues' distance from its mouth, it is larger than the one flowing before Quebec; for they declare that it is more than a league wide...Some warriors of this country, who tell us that they have made their way thither, declare that they saw there men resembling the French, who were splitting trees with long knives; and that some of them had their houses on the water — for thus they expressed
128themselves in speaking of sawed boards and of Ships. They state further that all along that great river are various Tribes of different Nations, of dissimilar languages and customs, and all at war with one another."
Joliet himself, during his years in the Lake Superior country, hungrily sought every morsel of information concerning the south-flowing waterway about which he and Marquette must often have speculated when they dwelt together in the Jesuit house in Quebec. When Joliet was returning with a French companion to the lower St. Lawrence, in the early autumn of 1669, he accidentally met near the head of Lake Ontario a party of Frenchmen headed by La Salle, who were seeking the Mississippi. The Iroquois of New York State had told La Salle of this waterway, and, disliking the Jesuits, he had associated with him two Sulpitian missionaries from Montreal, Dollier de Casson and René de Galinée, who were desirous of seeking new tribes of Indians among whom to labor.
La Salle wished to proceed by way of the Ohio River, but Joliet, drawing a map of
129such of the upper country as he knew, sought to convince his countrymen that it would be best to proceed by way of the Great Lakes, the new route which he had followed in his journey home.
130a long and dangerous journey, until on the twenty-fifth of May, 1670, they landed at Sault de Ste. Marie.
Here, at the Jesuit mission, enclosed, with other rude houses, in a square fort of cedar palisades, surrounded by cultivated fields, were found Dablon and Marquette; the latter was here upon a visit from La Pointe. Hospitality was the rule of the wilderness, and Galinee, in his journal, gives us an appreciative account of their reception. But the Jesuits were in control of the Ottawa missionary field, and the fathers at the Sault did not conceal their dislike of rivalry on the part of the Sulpitians. After a visit of but three days, the Montreal visitors, escorted by a French guide, turned southward through St. Marys River, entered Georgian Bay, and returned home by the now familiar route of the Ottawa River.
The descent of Joliet to Quebec, with his maps and his reports of the upper country, renewed popular and official interest in the discovery of the Mississippi. This interest was further strengthened by the return, the following year, of Galinée and Casson to
131Montreal. The attempt of the Sulpitians to enter upon the mission ground of the Jesuits no doubt served to quicken the zeal of the black robes, who at this time were in high favor with the authorities of New France.
A considerable body of distorted information had already been gathered concerning the river; but no one had thus far published any account of it which was the result of personal observation — Radisson's journal, written in English, was not discovered until long after, and remained unpublished until 1886. It must be remembered that birch-bark canoes were as yet the only means of transportation; that it cost considerable money to fit out exploring expeditions; perils from storms, accidents, famine, and the hostility of fanatical savages, beset the way. The traveler of our generation who seeks to penetrate the forbidden lands of central Africa is in no greater danger than the explorer who, in the seventeenth century, ventured far into the interior of the then dark continent of North America.
Jean Talon had for several years served at Quebec as the king's intendant, the officer
132in charge of the financial, police, and judicial affairs of the province — nest to the governor the most important person in Canada. A man of lofty ambitions, Talon had done much to develop the commerce and industries of New France; he had sent Father Albanel to Hudson Bay to oppose English fur trade encroachments there, and St. Lusson to Sault de Ste. Marie to extend the king's domain into the Northwest. He now sought to hasten the discovery of the Mississippi, and to that end brought influence to bear upon the home government in France. He was successful in obtaining from the king's minister a note dated June 4, 1672, giving him the necessary authority: "Since for the increase of the colony," wrote the Paris official, "there is nothing more important for the colony than the discovery of a passage to the south sea, his majesty wishes you to give it your attention."
Armed with this explicit direction, Talon at once sought the man for the expedition. His choice naturally fell upon Joliet. Talon's health failing him, he returned to France that autumn, but recommended Joliet
133to Count Frontenac, the newly-arrived governor. In November, after Joliet had left for the then far west, Frontenac in his turn wrote to Colbert, prime minister of France, at Paris: "I have deemed it expedient for the service to send the Sieur Joliet to discover the south sea by the Maskoutens country, and the great river Mississippi, which is believed to empty into the California sea. He is a man of experience in this kind of discovery, and has already been near the great river, of which he promises to see the mouth."
In seeking knowledge of the vast interior of the American continent, and making treaties with the Indians, the French were actuated by several motives. The national thirst for territory, that which to-day we call "imperialism," was one; then there was the hope to hem in the English colonists to the Atlantic slope by arraying against them the western barrier of French forts and French-loving Indians; a desire to extend the fur trade and to discover mines of gold, silver, copper, and lead, was a prominent factor; and not least in their thoughts was a wish to spread the Christian religion among heathen
134nations. That is why every important exploring party must needs be accompanied by a priest.
We have seen that La Salle, who hated the Jesuits, took Sulpitians in his party; but the government of New France, being friendly to the Jesuits, whose missions were scattered all the way from Labrador to Wisconsin, naturally turned to Father Dablon, as superior general of the order — himself one of the best authorities upon the Western country — to select one of his missionaries as a companion for Joliet. It was well known that Marquette had, at La Pointe, studied the Illinois dialects, and his letters in the annual Relations not only gave information which he had gathered regarding the Mississippi, but expressed his longings to carry the gospel to tribes upon the great river of the south. He had, indeed, while still at La Pointe, been promised the privilege of opening a mission among the Illinois Indians; and now, at the straits of Mackinac, the gateway thither, was but biding his time. The hour had at last come. To Joliet's hands were entrusted Dablon's instructions to Marquette
135to accompany the expedition which Count Frontenac was despatching to the unknown regions of the southwest; and the historian of the Catholic Church in America, John Gilmary Shea, believes that Bishop Laval, "to accredit Marquette to the Spanish authorities whom he might encounter, made him vicar-general for the lands into which they were to penetrate."
Slowly did the young Sieur Joliet, apparently alone, ascend in his birch canoe the turbulent Ottawa and its tributary, the Mattawan; with weary limbs follow the well-trodden portage-path to Lake Nipissing; and, finally emerging from its tangle of forested islands, now gay with autumnal foliage, rapidly descend French River into the broad, isle-strewn expanse of Georgian Bay of Lake Huron. Weeks must have elapsed before at last, in his tiny craft, he could thread the length of that gloomy archipelago. Genial autumn was succeeded by the chilling air of November, for winter early seeks the region of the upper lakes; the burning glow of maples and sumac was followed by the shriveled brown of frost-nipped oak leaves;
136each morning the traveler, in awakening beneath his shelter of boughs upon island or mainland beach, found the damp mosses crisp under foot, and the neighboring rivulet skimmed with ice; fitful winds, laden with snow-flakes, scurried the leaves into ever-shifting windrows and whistled mournfully in the tree-tops.
Travelers by canoe must needs be patient when upon great waters. But it was important that Joliet should reach Mackinac before ice blocked his passage thither, so that the expedition might start for the West as soon as the straits were open in the coming spring, and thus have a full season for its voyage. To secure this result he must frequently have taken risks in his journey. As it was, he came dangerously near not reaching his goal before winter barred him out; for it was the eighth of December, when no doubt ice-floes were forming in the straits, before the intrepid explorer beached his craft upon the strand of Point St. Ignace, and, embracing his priestly friend, placed within his eager hands the fateful message which was to link their names upon a page of history.
Chapter XIII. The Expedition Starts.
Father Marquette tells us, in the journal of his first voyage, that, during the entire period of his mission in the "country of the Outaouacs," he always invoked the Blessed Virgin "to obtain from God the grace of being able to visit the Nations who dwell along the Missisipi River." Curiously enough, the feast of the immaculate conception of the Virgin "was precisely the Day [December 8] on which Monsieur Jollyet arrived with orders from Monsieur the Count de frontenac, Our Governor, and Monsieur Talon, Our Intendant, to accomplish This discovery with me. I was all the more delighted at This good news, since I saw that my plans were about to be accomplished; and since I found myself in the blessed necessity of exposing my life for the salvation of all these peoples, and especially of the Ilinois, who had very urgently entreated me, when I
138was at the point of st. Esprit [La Pointe], to carry the word of God to Their country."
The hardships and insults which were the daily lot of a Jesuit missionary to the Indians would certainly have repelled any man not an optimist or a zealot. Marquette was of a gentle, joyous disposition, ever looking upon the bright side of life, and burned with that zeal which has through all time inspired the martyrs of religious faith; to him no experiences could be distasteful that were endured for the glory of the church. Joliet appears likewise to have been imbued with youthful enthusiasm, and was strongly in sympathy with the aspirations of his missionary comrade; but, as a man of the world, he carefully calculated the means employed, and whereas Marquette sought merely to widen the realms of Christianity, he in his turn was mindful of fame and of official preferment in case the exploration were successful. Together they completely represented the buoyant, vigorous spirit of their time — Marquette, the idealist, but thirty-six years of age; and Joliet, the man of affairs, aged twenty-eight.
As has been pointed out in the previous chapter, possibly other Frenchmen had already found the Mississippi — Radisson and Groseilliers, or La Salle; and of course we should not forget the discovery of the lower reaches of the river over a century previous (April, 1541) by the Spaniard De Soto. But no more came from De Soto's visit than had ensued as the result of Leif Erikson's early voyage from Iceland to the coast of North America — neither made any impression on the world at the time, both were barren of result. Columbus, knowing little if anything of the Icelander's visit nearly five centuries before his own, deliberately, with nice calculation, led the way afresh to the new world; and, through the door which he opened, civilization entered. In like manner, Joliet and Marquette, regardless of De Soto or of any other possible predecessor, sought the Mississippi in the true spirit of scientific exploration; they were about to open the door to the greatest of the continental waterways, a door which was never again to be closed. To them, therefore, as to Columbus, we accord the chief honor of a well-planned
140discovery, which was of world-wide significance.
The long northern winter was spent by the two friends in most careful preparation. Making notes of all that they had themselves learned concerning the Mississippi, and drafting maps of the region — an art in which both were experts — they searched far and wide for further information. French or half-breed fur-traders who had wandered into the western country, other Jesuits who had gathered scraps of fact or fancy concerning it, and Indians of many tribes who tarried at St. Ignace while on the hunting-path, all were drawn upon to contribute their mite to the general stock of knowledge. The rude mission-house on the north shore of the straits was for several months the center of a wide-spread popular interest, for news of the proposed journey had penetrated to the winter camps of wandering savages and fur-traders far northward on the shores of Lake Superior, westward to the Jesuit mission on Fox River, and eastward to the pine-clothed shores of the Manitoulins.
Marquette, upon whose journal we must
141hereafter largely draw for our knowledge of the man as well as of the voyage, freely tells us of these careful preparations: "Because We were going to seek Unknown countries, We took every precaution in our power, so that, if our Undertaking were hazardous, it should not be foolhardy. To that end, we obtained all the Information that we could from the savages who had frequented these regions; and we even traced out from their reports a Map of the whole of that New country; on it we indicated the rivers which we were to navigate, the names of the peoples and of the places through which we were to pass, the Course of the great River, and the direction we were to follow when we reached it."
Ice in the straits begins to move about the first of May. Not until the waters are cleared is Mackinac, after a prolonged sleep, again in communication with the world. With the earliest canoes from the lower country came Father Philippe Pierson, a vigorous young Jesuit thirty years old. He had been appointed to succeed Marquette at St. Ignace, a post which he occupied throughout the succeeding ten years.
Pierson having been properly instructed in the duties of the mission, active preparations for the voyage now commenced. Men trained to simplicity, as were our two explorers, required but a modest outfit. "We were," writes Marquette, "not long in preparing all our Equipment, although we were about to Begin a voyage the duration of which we could not foresee. Indian Corn, with some smoked meat, constituted all our provisions; with these we Embarked — Monsieur Jollyet and myself, with 5 men — in 2 Bark Canoes, fully resolved to do and suffer everything for so glorious an Undertaking."
The seventeenth of May, 1673, is a date worthy of remembrance in American history. That day Joliet and Marquette, with their five French voyageurs (oarsmen), set forth from Point St. Ignace upon the epoch-making expedition which was to extend far the bounds of New France and their own fame.
Indians were not fond of exploration for its own sake, although both war and the hunting-path ofttimes led them far afield. To their disordered imaginations, far-distant waterways were the homes of strange monsters
143who lay in wait to destroy luckless travelers; the forest abounded in fierce animals who closely guarded the shores; evil spirits of air and water plotted disaster in many forms to those who invaded their domain; and, most certain of all, hostile tribesmen were to be encountered at every turn.
It was therefore, in great wonderment at the hardihood of this handful of Frenchmen, that Hurons and Ottawas and visiting members of other tribes — clad in skins and gay with feathers and beads and dyed porcupine-quills — crowded upon the beach, that fateful May morning, to see our heroes depart. In the little bark chapel had been repeated the service of the church, seeking the blessing of the Virgin upon the voyage of discovery undertaken in her name. The moccasined voyageurs, with their gray homespun coats, leggings, and pudding-bag caps, brightened by sashes of lively colors, had said their last farewells to the donnés and the serving-men left behind. Marquette, beaming with joyful anticipation, had embraced his brother black robe, and blessed all his people, red and white. And the Sieur Joliet, in blanket
144coat and jaunty cap of beaver, had, as became a man of quality, shaken hands with everybody and received their God-speeds for the venturesome expedition.
Stepping at last into their canoes, each of the leaders probably serving as master of a craft, they bent to the paddles, voyageur and master alike, only pausing, as they rounded the western shoulder of the point, to wave a last salute to the shouting throng of savages and Europeans upon the white beach of St. Ignace.
Chapter XIV. Arrival at De Pere.
Our young explorers set forth upon their arduous quest with hearts as light as if upon a holiday excursion. Writes Marquette: "The Joy that we felt at being selected for This Expedition animated our Courage, and rendered the labor of paddling from morning to night agreeable to us."
Soon rounding Point la Barbe, with its frowning minarets of stone, they breasted the pent-up current which rushes through the narrowest portion of the straits; and then, losing sight of the graceful curves of Mackinac Island, bore off northwestward, along the indented coast of Lake Michigan.
The savages of the north shore of this inland sea were few in number and comparatively mild of disposition; so that the camps of the adventurers, upon the edges of the deep forest, were unvisited. Finally, after several days, the two canoes swept around
146far-stretching Point Detour and entered Green Bay — called by the French "Bay of the Puants."
The history of the bestowal of this unsavory name is worth relating here, because it gave rise to some curious errors. Quite early in the career of New France, Algonkin Indians from the upper lakes brought to Quebec reports that, upon the shores of this particular bay, there dwelt a strange tribe called by their neighbors "Ouinipegou" (pronounced Winnipegoo), a word which the French translated into "Puants," or "ill-smelling people." As "Ouinipegou" was the same term as that given by these savages to those who lived by the sea — or "fetid water," as it was sometimes called — the French at first styled the then unknown tribe "nation of the sea." This arose from the opinion then common among Europeans — already alluded to in these pages — that the American continent was narrow, and that the China Sea was not far from the upper lakes. It was, therefore, easy to suppose that these Puants might readily be Chinese, particularly as the Algonkins reported that
147they spoke a strange language; also wore their hair in long locks, and had other curious customs.
It will be remembered that when Jean Nicolet came to Green Bay, three years before Marquette was born, he had, misled by this inference, expected to meet Chinese here. But instead, he found, to his great disappointment, that the "nation of the sea" were merely an outcast branch of the Sioux. After a time, when no longer associating them with the sea, the French came only to call them Puants; and that name clung to this people for nearly a century and a half. Several of the Jesuit missionaries called attention, in their Relations and letters, to this wrong translation of "Ouinipegou." Dablon supposed it merely had reference to the fact that "the odor of marshes surrounding the Bay somewhat resembles that of the sea." Father Beschefer thought that it meant "waters smelling of rushes." While Marquette himself tells us that it probably came from "the quantity of mire and Mud which is seen there, whence noisome vapors Constantly arise." When the English came
148into possession of the country, the French name Puants was dropped, and the Indian name, Ouinipegou, adopted — but with a change in the pronunciation, for we now call these people Winnebagoes. All of which shows how interesting may be the history of a mere word.
The first place where the explorers met any of the natives was upon the river afterward called Menomonee, from the tribe of Algonkins then inhabiting its valley. This rugged stream, now one of the boundaries between Wisconsin and upper Michigan, is the principal northern affluent of Green Bay. The French name for this tribe was "Folles Avoines" (wild oats, or wild rice); "Menomonee" itself is but their own word for the same thing. Marquette thus interestingly describes this visit:
"The first Nation that we came to was That of the folle avoine. I entered Their river, to go and visit these peoples to whom we have preached The Gospel for several years — in consequence of which, there are several good Christians among Them.
"The wild oat, whose name they bear
because it is found in their country, is a sort of grass, which grows naturally in the small Rivers with muddy bottoms, and in Swampy Places. It greatly resembles the wild oats that Grow amid our wheat. The ears grow upon hollow stems, jointed at Intervals; they emerge from the Water about the month of June, and continue growing until they rise About two feet above it. The grain is not larger that That of our oats, but it is twice as long, and The meal therefrom is much more abundant. The Savages Gather and prepare it for food as Follows. In The month of September, which is the suitable time for The harvest, they go in Canoes through These fields of wild oats; they shake its Ears into the Canoe, on both sides, as they pass through. The grain falls out easily, if it be ripe, and they obtain their supply In a short time. But, in order to clean it from the straw, and to remove it from a husk in which it is Enclosed, they dry it in smoke, upon a wooden grating, under which they maintain a slow fire for some Days. When The oats are thoroughly dry, they put them in a Skin made into a bag, thrust It
into a hole dug in the ground for This purpose, and tread it with their feet — so long and so vigorously that The grain separates from the straw, and is very easily winnowed. After this, they pound it to reduce it to flour — or even, without pounding it, they Boil it in water, and season it with fat. Cooked in This fashion, The wild oats have almost as delicate a taste as rice has when no better seasoning is added.
"I told these people of the folle avoine of My design to go and discover Those Remote nations, in order to Teach them the Mysteries of Our Holy Religion. They were Greatly surprised to hear it, and did their best to dissuade me. They represented to me that I would meet Nations who never show mercy to Strangers, but Break Their heads without any cause; and that war was kindled Between Various peoples who dwelt upon our Route, which Exposed us to the further manifest danger of being killed by the bands of Warriors who are ever in the Field. They also said that the great River was very dangerous, when one does not know the difficult Places; that it was full of horrible
monsters, which devoured men and Canoes Together; that there was even a demon, who was heard from a great distance, who barred the way, and swallowed up all who ventured to approach him; Finally that the Heat was so excessive In those countries that it would Inevitably Cause Our death.
"I thanked them for the good advice that they gave me, but told them that I could not follow it, because the salvation of souls was at stake, for which I would be delighted to give my life; that I scoffed at the alleged demons; that we would easily defend ourselves against those marine monsters; and, moreover, that We would be on our guard to avoid the other dangers with which they threatened us. After making them pray to God, and giving them some Instruction, I separated from them."
Green Bay is shaped like a monster letter V. It opens to the northeast, and the Fox River enters it from the south, at the vertex of the angles. The western shores are now, as in the days of Joliet and Marquette, irregular in outline and densely wooded with pine and tamarack, presenting a somber and
152depressing appearance. The eastern coast is generally high, with many bold headlands and abrupt slopes, well covered with both hard and soft woods.
Red Banks, some seven miles below the mouth of the Fox, is so called from the long cliff of red clay and sand, which rises steeply from the narrow beach to a height of about seventy-five feet. Up to about a half century ago, the summit of this cliff was dotted over with Indian mounds of many curious shapes; but the boisterous action of wind and waves has seriously eaten into the banks, so that to-day the dwellers in the numerous summer cottages which now occupy this picturesque vantage-point find few memorials of the mound-building Winnebagoes. These Indians have a tradition that the Adam and Eve of their tribe lived at Red Banks; also that here the French first visited them.
The bay is a wild and stormy estuary, much troubled by cross-winds and cross-tides, and a dangerous passage for small craft. The French, from many a sad experience, early called its entrance "Death's Door," a name which still clings to it upon
153the maps of Wisconsin. No doubt our explorers were obliged to seize the opportunity of favorable weather, and cautiously crept along the western shore. Marquette made careful study of the Bay of the Puants, concerning which he had frequently read in the Jesuit Relations, and probably had heard it described by his friend Allouez, one of whose missions he was now closely approaching. He says of it in his Journal: "The Bay is about thirty leagues in depth and eight in width at its Mouth; it narrows gradually to the bottom, where it is easy to observe a tide which has its regular ebb and flow, almost Like That of the Sea. This is not the place to inquire whether these are real tides; whether they are Due to the wind, or to some other cause; whether there are winds, The precursors of the Moon and attached to her suite, which consequently agitate the lake and give it an apparent ebb and flow whenever the Moon ascends above the horizon. What I can Positively state is, that, when the water is very Calm, it is easy to observe it rising and falling according to the Course of the moon; although I do not deny that
154This movement may be Caused by very Remote Winds, which, pressing on the middle of the lake, cause the edges to Rise and fall in the manner which is visible to our eyes."
In due course the adventurers, paddling lustily in the quiet waters along the shore, came within sight of the enormous marshes of wild rice which choke the mouth of Fox River — vivid in their mass of changing greenery, when swayed by the breeze and glistening in the sun. "It is very beautiful at its Mouth," writes our appreciative diarist, "and flows gently; it is full Of bustards [geese], Ducks, Teal, and other birds, attracted thither by the wild oats, of which they are very fond."
Pushing on through this mass of waving grain, and noisily welcomed by circling clouds of aquatic fowl, the canoeists soon found the channel broaden to about three hundred yards, as solid banks were reached. Before them was still an exhilarating pull of about six miles up-stream — on the right the wooded lowlands, long afterward the seat of military power in the trans-Michigan country, for French, English, and Americans
155in turn; on the left the rolling site of the modern city of Green Bay, then an untrodden forest of intermingled oaks and pines.
Above this placid stretch, Fox River was a toilsome waterway for frail craft of bark — "very difficult of passage," writes Marquette, "on account of both the Currents and the sharp Rocks, which Cut the Canoes and the feet of Those who are obliged to drag them, especially when the Waters are low." The first of these rapids were those at De Pere. At this gateway to the Mississippi our travelers found friends, and doubtless tarried by the way.
Chapter XV. The Mission of St. Franç Xavier.
It has already been stated that when Marquette went to La Pointe, in the autumn of 1669, it was as the successor to Father Jean Claude Allouez. The latter, then fifty-six years of age, and holding the title of grand vicar for "all the countries situated toward the North and West," had been ordered by his superior, Dablon, to a new field of work — to preach the faith to the Pottawattomies, Menomonees, Winnebagoes, and other tribes west of Lake Michigan. He had passed the summer at Sault de Ste. Marie, the headquarters of the Ottawa mission, where many of the tribesmen of the region assembled annually for the fisheries and the fur trade. During the first week of November, he and two of the donnés left the Sault, in company with two canoe-loads of Pottawattomies, for the shores of Green Bay. These Indians, he writes, "wished to
157conduct me to their Country; not that they wished to receive instruction there, having no disposition for the Faith, but that I might curb some young Frenchmen, who, being among them for the purpose of trading, were threatening and maltreating them."
As previously stated, it is sometimes quite difficult, from a reading of the old Jesuit journals, to establish locations, for the writers were not always particular in giving geographical details. The western wilderness was so far away from the Quebec or Paris of that time, that the missionaries evidently thought such minutiae would be lost upon those who read the accounts — just as we should fail to appreciate elaborate descriptions of camping-grounds in a book or magazine article upon some traveler's experiences in Central Africa or in the Australian desert. We prefer, in such matters, to have him generalize; and this is what the fathers often did in their Relations.
Accordingly, we are unable to state with authority just where Allouez spent the winter among the Pottawattomies, and established the second Jesuit mission within the
158present State of Wisconsin. But by piecing together his several rather vague references to the locality, and estimating distances traveled by him to reach other places which are recognizable on the maps of to-day, it is fair to assume that his landfall was at the mouth of Oconto River, which empties into Green Bay from the west, about midway between the Menomonee and the Fox. Here, apparently, dwelt the six French fur-traders who had ill-treated the Indians, and needed the repressing influence of the priest. In one of the cabins of this temporary trading-post, the missionary and his companions made their home throughout the winter of 1669-70, and from here visited neighboring tribes along the shore of the bay.
About the middle of April, upon the opening of navigation, Allouez and his donnés proceeded up the bay and entered "the River of the Puans, which we have named for saint Francis." They, also, were greeted by clouds of the wild fowl which then congregated in great numbers within the rice-marshes at the head of the bay, and pulled on to the Sac village at the rapids of De Pere, where the waters of the Fox, here three hundred yards wide, descend eight feet over jagged rocks.
From this place Allouez ascended the stream to visit Indian villages on the Wolf and upper Fox Rivers, preaching to Foxes, Mascoutens, Miamis, and north-wandering bands of the Illinois. Returning, he visited the Menomonees and Winnebagoes — the latter camping on the east shore of Green Bay; and in May, when the villages broke up for the summer hunting and fishing expeditions, retraced his watery path of a hundred leagues to the Sault, promising to return in the autumn to his scattered flocks in Wisconsin.
In September, Father Dablon, superior
160of the Ottawa mission, accompanied Allouez upon his second canoe-trip to Wisconsin. The two missionaries held councils with the savages dwelling upon Green Bay and at De Pere rapids, where some French fur-traders, who had acted badly toward the tribesmen, were now being subjected to "unbearable insolence and indignity." Making a favorable impression upon these rude but well-disposed people, they journeyed up Fox River to the village of the Mascoutens, whom Nicolet had visited in 1634, and whither we shall soon accompany Marquette and Joliet. Returning to Green Bay, the superior pushed on to the Sault, while Allouez passed the winter with the tribes upon the bay shore.
Says Dablon, concerning the natives among whom his companion's lot was cast: "Four different Tribes are situated near the head of the bay, where they live partly on what they gather from the fields, and partly by fishing and hunting. Two others, a little farther away, make their usual abode on the rivers emptying into this same bay from the North; and all acknowledge various sorts of divinities, to whom they offer frequent
161sacrifices. These People have Gods, as had the Pagans of old, — having them in the Skies, in the air, on the earth, in the woods, in the water, and even in hell...[Some of them] who are regarded as intelligent among their fellows hold the belief that besides the Sun and thunder, — which they recognize as the Gods of the Sky and of the air, — each species of animals, fishes, and birds, has a special genius who cares for it, watches over its safety, and protects it from the harm that might befall it."
The following February (1671), Allouez, hearing that the Fox Indians upon Wolf River, southwest of Green Bay — possibly near the site of the present city of New London — were quarreling with some young French traders who were stationed there, "counted himself happy to expose his life to evident danger in order to bear the Gospel to those poor barbarians, as he has done to all other peoples of those regions." Setting forth overland from the Bay of the Puants, he traveled "in six days twenty-four leagues over snow and ice, in the severest part of the winter," some of his companions
162being "frost-bitten, and well-nigh perishing from cold." Reaching the village, "he went from Cabin to Cabin, cheering some with the hope of Paradise, and frightening others with the fear of Hell." At first offering but "jests, repulses, and mockery," and threats of death, in time they all listened to him with "attention and affection." After they had promised to build for him a chapel, to be ready upon his return, and to be called St. Mark, the father withdrew to his rude home upon the bay. In the Relation for the year, he speaks confidently of his two missions — St. Franç Xavier and St. Mark; but the former was still practically homeless, and the latter a mere promise of the fickle Foxes.
The Jesuit missionaries were, however, not easily discouraged. After another busy summer at the Sault, Father Allouez proceeded again to Green Bay, this time in company with Father Louis André, now forty-eight years old, and one of the most interesting and lovable of the early Jesuit fathers in the Northwest. Some time during the winter of 1671-72, probably in the early months, the bark chapel of St. Franç Xavier was
163erected on the east side of De Pere rapids,
At the risk of digression, it is worth noting here that Indian villages were generally situated at natural vantage-points connected with waterways, which were then the only highways — at a river mouth, which is convenient for transportation, and often close to considerable fishing-grounds, as those which we have already visited in our narrative, at the mouths of the Menomonee and Oconto Rivers; beside a waterfall or rapids (as at the Sault, and at De Pere, and at other obstructions which we have as yet to visit farther up the Fox River), because here fish are plenty, and canoes must be carried
164around by land, so that the villagers are masters of the highway; upon a portage path, because of ease in reaching and controlling opposite-flowing water systems; upon a bluff overlooking a lake, for facility of defense and of observing the approach of enemies, as at Mackinac Island and La Pointe; or upon a fertile river-bottom, because of good planting-ground, as at Prairie du Chien. Frequently, several of these advantages were combined in one spot. In due time, fur-traders came to such a village, as they had to the Oconto River and to Mackinac; then missionaries arrived, either before or after the traders; possibly a crude log fort was now erected, to protect the fur trade, as happened at the Sault, at Mackinac, and Green Bay, and a score of other places in the Northwest. Such was the manner in which New France grew. In later days, American towns followed upon these old sites, and many of our most important cities can thus be traced back to Indian villages established there long before white men set foot upon the soil.
In the Relation for 1671-72, there are
165gathered from Father André's letters, and from Dablon's own observations, most interesting accounts of the new St. Franç Xavier mission at De Pere, a part of which are worth repeating here, for they give us a very definite idea of the place where Marquette and Joliet paused upon their great journey, and of the people who received them. Dablon writes:
"The bay commonly called des Puans receives a river, in which wild fowl and fish are caught both together, Of this practice the Savages are the inventors; for, perceiving that Ducks, Teal, and other birds of that kind dive into the water in quest of the grains of wild rice to be found there toward the Autumn season, they stretch nets for them with such skill that, without counting the fish, they sometimes catch in one night as many as a hundred wild fowl. This fishing is equally pleasant and profitable; for it is a pleasure to see in a net, when it is drawn out of the water, a Duck caught side by side with a pike, and Carp entangled in the same meshes with Teal. The Savages subsist on this manna nearly three months [in the year].
"Nature and necessity, which have taught them this mode of fishing, have prompted them to invent still another on the same river, two leagues from its mouth.
"It is a device that is somewhat rude, but excellently adapted to their purpose, and it enables a child to fish with great success. They construct it in such a manner as to bar the entire river from one bank to the other, making a sort of palisade of stakes, which they plant in the water in a straight line, leaving only space enough to allow the water to run between certain hurdles, which stop the large fish. Along this barrier they arrange scaffolds, on which they place themselves in ambush and await their prey with impatience. When the fish, following the current, reach this barrier, the fisher plunges in a pocket-shaped net, into which he easily coaxes them.
"These two kinds of fishing draw to this
spot many Savages from all directions. The situation of the place contributes not a little to this result; for, bordering that river, near the spot of which we have just spoken, we see a prairie of four or five arpents in width, bounded on either side by woods of full-grown trees. And besides the grapes, plums, apples, and other fruits, which would be fairly good if the Savages had patience to let them ripen, there also grows on the prairies a kind of lime resembling that of France, but having no bitter taste — not even in its rind. The plant bearing it slightly resembles the fern.
"The Bear and the Wildcat — the latter being as large as a medium-sized dog — abound in the country; and as the woods are free from underbrush, extensive prairies are seen in the forests, and contribute to the pleasure of living there. The above-named animals, as well as the Stag, are easily hunted — both in the woods, which are not dense, and on the river, into which the last-named animal often plunges in its course, when it is pursued, and is taken without difficulty.
"To all the advantages of this place may be added the fact of its being the great — and the only — thoroughfare for all the surrounding Nations, who maintain a constant intercourse, either in visiting or trading. Hence it was that we turned our eyes thither, with a view to placing our Chapel there in the midst of more than ten different Nations, who can furnish us over fifteen thousand souls to be instructed in the truths of Christianity."
In the report of their voyage of discovery, Marquette makes no mention of stopping at the mission at De Pere. Possibly Father André was absent upon one of his long tours, during which he experienced many curious and sometimes thrilling adventures; but that the travelers were abundantly entertained there, at least by the savages, many of whom had become much attached to the missionaries, we can entertain no doubt. Both Nicolet and Allouez had had occasion to testify to the hospitality which prevailed at this village, which sat by the gateway to the great river.
Upon leaving St. Ignace, Marquette had
169been transferred to the De Pere mission by his superior in order to be convenient to the Illinois tribes; and we shall see that after his return from the Mississippi he spent the succeeding winter at these first rapids of the Fox.
Chapter XVI. At the Mascouten Village.
From the De Pere rapids to Lake Winnebago — a distance as the stream winds of some twenty-eight miles — Fox River is a deep, rapid, and picturesque stream. Its banks are, for the most part, soft rolling terraces, which rise from twenty to fifty feet above the flood; being varied, now and then, by park-like glades, and bold, rocky bluffs. Still retaining much of their original beauty, these shores were, in their primitive condition, densely wooded with oaks, maples, pines, and cedars, from whose branches hung rich festoons of the wild grape; clumps of wild crab-apples and plums flourished in sheltered nooks by the side of the cataracts, and ferns and mosses made of each damp ravine a veritable paradise.
The course of the river is obstructed by several rapids, most of them so formidable as even in the descent to necessitate usually
171the unloading of cargoes, while at a few the empty canoes often had to be taken around by the portage path. In the order of ascent, they were: Rapides des Pére (De Pere), Petit Kakalin (now Little Rapids), La Croche (at Kimberly), Grand Chute (now Appleton), and Winnebago Rapids (at Doty's Island). The entire fall of the river, in this distance, is about a hundred and sixty-nine feet.
When Marquette and Joliet, with their faithful helpers, toiled up this rocky stairway, the lower valley of the Fox was the seat of a considerable Indian population, there being clusters of cabins at several of the rapids and on Doty's Island, which divides the outlet of Lake Winnebago. On the level lands which, from the tops of the sloping banks, stretch away on either aide, were large fields of Indian corn; for these people were thrifty, as savages go, placing their grain in caches for winter use, and trading their surplus to neighboring tribes.
The father notes in his journal the extreme difficulties of surmounting the rapids, "on account of both the Currents and the
172sharp Rocks, which Cut the Canoes and the feet of Those who are obliged to drag them" over the shallower places, or to pole them amid the projecting boulders. No doubt this laborious task, as with Allouez's party before them, was performed by the voyageurs, while the explorers trudged along the banks for several miles, bearing the small packs of supplies.
At last, after making the final portage at Doty's Island, they emerged upon the broad expanse of Lake Winnebago, one of the most charming of our large Western inland waters. Allouez, four years before, had named it Lake St. Franç, and wrote: "It is about twelve leagues long and four wide, extends from the North-Northeast to the South-Southeast, and abounds in fish; but is uninhabited, on account of the Nadouecis [Sioux], who are there held in fear."
Dablon's account, a year later than Allouez's, thus refers to Lake Winnobago and the upper Fox which flows into it from the west:
"The fairest land possible to behold — in every direction, prairies only, as far as
the eye can reach, cut by a river which gently winds through it, and on which it rests the traveler to paddle his canoe. The region of forests and mountains is passed when one arrives here, and nothing but little grove-planted hills present themselves at intervals, as if to offer their shade to the traveler, that he may there find grateful shelter from the Sun's heat.
"Nothing but elms, oaks, and other similar trees are seen here — and not those which, growing commonly only on poor soil, are merely fit to furnish bark for covering Cabins or for making Canoes. Hence these people know not what it is to travel by water; and have no other houses, for the most part, than such as are made of rushes woven together in the form of mats. Vines, plum-trees, and apple-trees are readily found on the way; and seem by their aspect to invite the traveler to land and taste of their fruit, which is very sweet and exceedingly abundant.
"The banks of this river, which flows gently through the midst of these prairies, are covered throughout with a certain plant
bearing what is called here wild oats, of which the birds are wonderfully fond. All sorts of game, too, are so plenty that without stopping long one can kill what he chooses.
"All this prairie country, extending to our knowledge more than three hundred leagues in every direction — to say nothing of its farther extent, of which we have no knowledge — affords ample sustenance to the wild cows [buffaloes], not infrequently encountered in herds of four or five hundred each. These, by their abundance, furnish adequate provision for whole Villages, which therefore are not obliged to scatter by families during their hunting season, as is the case with the Savages elsewhere."
Dablon, a true lover of nature as well as of man, also writes at length of the buffaloes seen upon his journey, of the great white pelicans then numerous in these waters, of "groves scattered here and there, which nature seems to furnish solely for the gratification of the eye;" and exclaims at last, with the enthusiasm of a born canoeist: "One does not tire of paddling over these lakes
175and rivers when he meets with such diversion."
Similar, no doubt, allowing for the difference between September and June, were now the experiences of Marquette and Joliet. Cautiously they wended their way from one projecting point to another, along the low-lying western shore of Lake Winnebago, until at last they found the place whence emerge the upper waters of the Fox — a broad bay fringed with marshes of wild rice, beyond which rose gently swelling prairies, backed on the horizon by oak openings. Where to-day is the thriving manufacturing city of Oshkosh, were then but a half-dozen Indian wigwams at the junction of lake and river.
As with Nicolet, and Allouez and Dablon, our friends were not at present concerned with these small wayside bands of Sacs, Foxes, Winnebagoes, and Pottawattomies. Like their predecessors along this path, they were desirous of making their first stopping place the palisaded village of the Mascoutens, or "Fire Nation," which was situated upon the banks of the upper Fox. No tribe
176of Western Indians excited more interest among the French explorers than these same Mascoutens; historians and ethnologists have earnestly discussed their origin; while Wisconsin antiquarians have for many years held rival theories as to the location of this particular village, so frequently referred to in the Jesuit Relations and other French records of the seventeenth century.
Allouez, with more detail than was customary with the Jesuits, placed the Mascoutens, in 1670, as but a day's paddling up the Fox, from the mouth of the Wolf, and six days' journey from the Mississippi; which, with due regard to the character of the country, would seem to locate them somewhere in the neighborhood of either Berlin or Princeton — a league inland from the river, "in a very attractive place, where beautiful Plains and Fields meet the eye as far as one can see." There are those who, not without grounds for argument, would place this village in the neighborhood of the Fox-Wisconsin portage; or of the present hamlet of Marquette, on Lake Puckawa; or even nearer Oshkosh than is Berlin. It is a friendly
177contention, giving flavor to the study of local history, but need not on this occasion detain us.
Of more immediate concern to the reader of the present narrative is the origin of this interesting people, who aroused the curiosity of the early French travelers. It is claimed by a recent author, who has written at length on this subject, that they derived their name, "Fire Nation," from the fact that they were, in very early times, extensive miners of copper on the shores of Lake Superior, and used fire to so soften the veins of ore that they might chip off portions of it with their stone hammers; from these making copper tools of many shapes, which are now regarded with curiosity in historical museums. Very different, however, was the opinion of Dablon, who tells us: "The Fire Nation is erroneously so called, its correct name being Maskoutenech, which means ‘a treeless country,’ like that inhabited by these people; but as, by changing a few letters, this word is made to signify ‘fire,’ therefore the people have come to be called the ‘Fire Nation.’"
It is believed that some of their bands once dwelt as far away as the Virginia mountains, and were the Bocootawanaukes mentioned in Captain John Smith's history. It is thought that they were once strong in the Ohio Valley, and built many if not most of the strangely shaped mounds which are still to be seen there; that they were at one time dwellers in the southern peninsula of Michigan; and that the Wisconsin village was but an outlying band, who had wandered far from their kindred.
Marquette records that, just previous to reaching the town, he "had the Curiosity to drink the mineral Waters of the River that is not Far from That village. I also took time to look for a medicinal plant which a savage, who knows its secret, showed to Father Allouez with many Ceremonies. Its root is employed to Counteract snake-bite, God having been pleased to give this antidote Against a poison which is very common in these countries. It is very pungent, and tastes like powder when crushed with the teeth; it must be masticated and placed upon the bite inflicted by the snake." Specimens
179of this he placed within his canoe, "in order to examine it at leisure."
It was upon the seventh of June when the explorers reached the landing-place, where they drew up their canoes, and had a brisk walk of some two and a half miles inland. Upon a low eminence, in the midst of the prairie, lay the village which by this time had won fame as far away as Paris, in the published Relations of two years past. It was one of the largest Indian towns upon the continent, for within the stout palisade there were living, in common, bands from three tribes, the Mascoutens, Miamis, and Kickapoos. Dablon wrote of them: "They form together more than three thousand souls, and are able to furnish each four hundred men for the common defense against the Iroquois, who pursue them even into these remote districts."
Marquette's own journal is so meager, up to the point of reaching the Mascouten village, that, in order to enable our readers to see the Fox River country as it appeared to him, we have been obliged to borrow freely from the accounts of Fathers Dablon and
180Allouez. But now that the explorers have reached "the limit of the discoveries which the French have made," the missionary becomes more profuse in his descriptions, and henceforth we shall generally find it sufficient to draw upon his narrative. Of the village at which they were now quartered, he writes:
"This Village Consists of three Nations who have gathered there — Miamis, Maskoutens, and Kikabous. The former are the most civil, the most liberal, and the most shapely. They wear two long locks over their ears, which give them a pleasing appearance. They are regarded as warriors, and rarely undertake expeditions without being successful. They are very docile, and listen quietly to What is said to Them; and they appeared so eager to Hear Father Alloues when he Instructed them that they gave Him but little rest, even during the night. The Maskoutens and Kikabous are ruder, and seem peasants in Comparison with the others. As Bark for making Cabins is scarce in this country, They use Rushes; these serve Them for making walls and Roofs, but do not afford them much protection against the
winds, and still less against the rains when they fall abundantly. The Advantage of Cabins of this kind is, that they make packages of Them, and easily transport them wherever they wish, while they are hunting.
"When I visited them, I was greatly Consoled at seeing a handsome Cross erected in the middle of the village, and adorned with many white skins, red Belts, and bows and arrows, which these good people had offered to the great Manitou (This is the name which they give to God). They did this to thank him for having had pity On Them during The winter, by giving Them an abundance of game When they Most dreaded famine.
"I took pleasure in observing the situation of this village. It is beautiful and very pleasing; For, from an Eminence upon which it is placed, one beholds on every side prairies, extending farther than the eye can see, interspersed with groves or with lofty trees. The soil is very fertile, and yields much indian corn. The savages gather quantities of plums and grapes, wherewith much wine could be made, if desired."
Chapter XVII. Discovery of the Mississippi.
Immediately upon their arrival, our explorers assembled the head men of the Mascouten village. Joliet appears to have been the spokesman. "He told them," writes Marquette, "that he was sent by Monsieur Our Governor to discover New countries, while I was sent by God to illumine them with the light of the holy Gospel. He told them that, moreover, The sovereign Master of our lives wished to be known by all Nations; and that in obeying his will I feared not the death to which I exposed myself in voyages so perilous."
The American savage is fond of public speaking. His eloquence consists largely of figures of speech drawn from natural objects and conditions. In all important negotiations between the tribes, or between whites and Indians, feasts and oratory, with much ceremonial, were quite essential. In such
183speeches each step of progress was marked by a gift from the speaker to the persons addressed, a courtesy to be paid in kind by the person replying. Theoretically, this was for the purpose of assisting those present to remember what was said, whenever they looked upon the present. To this curious custom, common to all the tribes, Marquette alludes, in telling us that Joliet informed his hearers "that we needed two guides to show us the way; and We gave them a present, by it asking them to grant us the guides. To this they very Civilly consented; and they also spoke to us by means of a present, consisting of a Mat [of woven reeds] to serve us as a bed during the whole of our voyage."
Three days were passed with these hospitable people. Upon the tenth of June, the two Miamis who had been selected to serve as guides "embarked with us, in the sight of a great crowd, who could not sufficiently express their astonishment at the sight of seven frenchmen, alone and in two canoes, daring to undertake so extraordinary and so hazardous an Expedition." It can well be
184imagined that as the little fleet set forth that bright June morning, when Nature was in her loveliest garb, the hearts of the adventurers swelled with enthusiasm, thinking of the strange lands and stranger peoples which they were destined soon to behold.
The Fox River, above this point, is but a narrow creek winding in fitful curves through widespread swamps of reeds and wild rice. The labyrinth was, at that time, frequently choked with vegetation, and without guides the passage would have been well-nigh impossible. Writes Marquette: "The road is broken by so many swamps and small lakes that it is easy to lose one's way, especially as the River leading thither is so full of wild oats that it is difficult to find the Channel."
Here comes the curious contradiction which has given rise, as stated in the preceding chapter, to discordant theories about the location of the Mascouten village. For while Allouez had very carefully stated that it was but a day's journey above the junction of the Wolf and the Fox — which would place it near the present Berlin or Princeton — Marquette
185tells us that "at three leagues from Maskoutens was a River which discharged into the Missisipi." If we are to accept this estimate, the Wisconsin was somewhat less than eight miles from the Mascoutens; whereas Princeton is sixty-five miles down the Fox River from Portage, and Berlin twenty miles farther. Upon this statement, Portage antiquarians believe that the site was near their city, which lies by the side of the swampy portage trail there separating the sluggish and insignificant Fox from the broad, swift channel of the Wisconsin.
The path between the two opposite-flowing streams — the waters of the Fox emptying northeastward into the St. Lawrence
186system, and those of the Wisconsin southwest-ward into the Mississippi — is but a mile and a half in length; Marquette calls it "2700 paces." With high water in the Wisconsin, this plain has frequently been flooded, so that continuous canoe passage from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi has been possible. But such fortune did not await our explorers; they were obliged to make the portage, in that task being assisted by their guides, "after which they returned home, leaving us alone in this Unknown country, in the hands of Providence. Thus we left the Waters flowing to Quebeq, 4 or 500 leagues from here, to float on Those that would thenceforth Take us through strange lands. Before embarking thereon, we Began all together a new devotion to the blessed Virgin Immaculate, which we practised daily, addressing to her special prayers to place under her protection both our persons and the success of our voyage; and, after mutually encouraging one another, we entered our Canoes."
The Wisconsin River, upon which they were now embarked, presents a striking
187contrast to the Fox. Its valley is from three to five miles broad, flanked on either side, below the portage, by an undulating range of imposing bluffs, from a hundred and fifty to three hundred and fifty feet in height. They are heavily wooded, as a rule, although there is now, as then, much variety — pleasant slopes and sheltered fields, on the sweet herbage of which the travelers saw deer and buffaloes peacefully grazing; naked water-washed escarpments, rising sheer above the stream; terraced hills, with eroded faces; steep uplands, whose forest growths have been shattered by tornadoes; and romantic ravines, worn deep by spring torrents impatient to reach the river level.
Between these ranges stretches a wide expanse of bottoms, either bog or sand-plain, through which the swift current twists and bounds, continually cutting out new channels and filling old ones with the débris. As it thus sweeps along, wherever its fancy listeth, here to-day and there to-morrow, it forms innumerable islands, which greatly add to the picturesqueness of the view. These islands are often mere sand-bars,
188sometimes as barren as Sahara, again thick-grown with willows and seedling aspens; but for the most part they are heavily wooded, their banks gay with the season's flowers, while luxuriant vines droop in graceful festoons from trees which overhang the flood. Marquette's own journal thus tells the story of their trip: "The River on which we embarked is called the Meskonsing.
189very rich. It is Covered with three feet of good soil, and is quite near a chain of rocks, the base of which is covered by very fine trees."
Upon the seventeenth of June, after a voyage of seven days from the Mascoutens, the canoeists swiftly glided on the bubbled torrent, through the flood-washed delta of the Wisconsin, into the broad, sweeping current of the Mississippi, at this point nearly a mile in width. They gazed with rapture — "a Joy that I cannot Express," writes the gentle Marquette — upon one of the noblest scenes in America. They had at last found the object of their search, but their arduous journey was still far from its end.
Chapter XVIII. The Limit of the Journey.
The upper valley of the Mississippi is flanked on either side with rounded bluffs, often three and four hundred feet in height. Within this deep trough, at the Wisconsin's mouth some three miles in width, the great river winds in long and graceful curves, its current divided by flood-washed willow islands, flanked by shifting sand-bars black with tangled roots and trunks of trees, the stranded débris of many a springtime freshet. Edging the shores are often intricate bayous, boggy woods, and sandy meadows, back of which lie fertile bottom-lands, as at Prairie du Chien, which nestles under protecting hills five miles above the spot where our travelers first sighted their quest — a quaint little city, the outgrowth of an old Indian village and of the French fur trade which centered at this meeting of the waters. Sometimes the giant stream sweeps
191by the very feet of the hills, which in such eases rise in imposing rock-faced cliffs, decked with ferns and nodding columbines. Northward and southward are long vistas of curving hills and glinting water, shut in by the converging ranges.
All these features were carefully noted by the journalist of the voyage — the "high Mountains," the "beautiful land," the islands, the "slow and gentle" current, and the depth of water, which they found to be about fifty-three feet. He continues: "We gently followed its Course, which runs toward the south and southeast, as far as the 42nd degree of Latitude. Here we plainly saw that its aspect was completely changed. There are hardly any woods or mountains; The Islands are more beautiful, and are Covered with finer trees. We saw only deer and cattle, bustards, and Swans without wings, because they drop Their plumage in This country."
The travelers had soon to remember the warning given them by the Menomonees, to beware of "horrible monsters." The good father thus describes those which now beset
192them: "From time to time, we came upon monstrous fish, one of which struck our Canoe with such violence that I Thought that it was a great tree, about to break the Canoe to pieces. On another occasion, we saw on The water a monster with the head of a tiger, a sharp nose Like That of a wildcat, with whiskers and straight, Erect ears; The head was gray and The Neck quite black; but We saw no more creatures of this sort. When we cast our nets into the water we caught Sturgeon, and a very extraordinary Kind of fish. It resembles the trout, with This difference, that its mouth is larger. Near its nose — which is smaller, as are also the eyes — is a large Bone shaped Like a woman's corset-bone, three fingers wide and a Cubit Long, at the end of which is a disk as Wide As one's hand. This frequently causes it to fall backward when it leaps, out of the water." In these formidable creatures we are able to recognize the familiar catfish of our Western rivers, the American tiger-cat, and the paddlefish (or spoonbill).
The crude instruments which the explorers used for determining their location were
193not accurate, being sometimes half a degree out of the way, so that it is often difficult to follow them. It appears, however, to have been about the latitude of Rock Island that they first found wild turkeys, and observed that buffaloes were becoming abundant. The boatmen, who daily sought game for the party, killed one of these "wild cattle," and Marquette describes the beast in great detail — one of the first accounts which we have of this useful animal, which once was plentiful in most portions of the United States. Marquette records that "they are scattered about the prairie in herds; I have seen one of 400."
It was necessary that the travelers should be cautious, for they had no knowledge of the country, and knew not what dangers might suddenly beset them upon this mighty waterway, whether from savages, from wild beasts, or from unlooked-for perils of the flood. They had thus far seen only animals, birds, and fish; nevertheless a strict guard was constantly maintained. "On this account," says the record, "we make only a small fire on land, toward evening, to cook
194our meals; and, after supper, we remove Ourselves as far from it as possible, and pass the night in our Canoes, which we anchor in the river at some distance from the shore. This does not prevent us from always posting one of the party as a sentinel, for fear of a surprise."
The adventurers had proceeded as far as the forty-first degree of latitude, according to their reckoning, "without discovering anything," when, on the twenty-fifth of June, they "perceived on the water's edge some tracks of men, and a narrow and somewhat beaten path leading to a fine prairie. We stopped to Examine it; and, thinking that it was a road which Led to some village of savages, We resolved to go and reconnoiter it. We therefore left our two Canoes under the guard of our people, strictly charging Them not to allow themselves to be surprised, after which Monsieur Jollyet and I undertook this investigation — a rather hazardous one for two men who exposed themselves, alone, to the mercy of a barbarous and Unknown people. We silently followed The narrow path, and, after walking About
1952 leagues, We discovered a village on the bank of a river, and two others on a Hill distant about half a league from the first."
Standing at a distance, the Frenchmen shouted with all their energy, whereupon the savages swarmed out of their huts and sent four old men to meet them. "Two of these bore tobacco-pipes, finely ornamented and Adorned with various feathers. They walked slowly, and raised the pipes to the sun, seemingly offering them to it to smoke, — without, however, saying a word." These were calumets, or pipes of peace, and the ceremony shows us that the Illinois Indians, whom the explorers had now encountered, were worshipers of the sun, as the master of light and heat.
The day was spent in speeches, feasts, songs, and dances, which Marquette interestingly describes at length in his journal, with a chapter upon the characteristics and customs of the Illinois, of whom he formed a highly favorable opinion. That night our friends slept in the cabin of the chief; "on the following day we took Leave of him, promising to pass again by his village,
196within four moons. He Conducted us to our Canoes, with nearly 600 persons who witnessed our Embarkation, giving us every possible manifestation of the joy that Our visit had caused them...They admire our little Canoes, for they have never seen any like them."
Not far above the mouth of the Missouri River, near the present Alton, Ill., they saw, painted high up on the smooth surface of a nearly perpendicular cliff, two hideous monsters, the work of some Indian artist whose imagination was well developed. "They are as large as a Calf," writes Marquette; "they have Horns on their heads Like those of deer, a horrible look, red eyes, a beard Like a tiger's, a face somewhat like a man's, a body Covered with scales, and so Long a tail that it winds all around the Body, passing above the head and going back between the legs, ending in a Fish's tail. Green, red, and black are the three Colors composing the Picture." The missionary acknowledges that he and his companion were at first much alarmed at these strange specimens of native art, which sought to depict the spirits
197which controlled the river. But it must be remembered that, in the seventeenth century, men even of the caliber of Joliet and Marquette were more superstitious than now; and these Frenchmen were threading an unknown wilderness, filled with dangers of many sorts, which excited their imaginations to a high pitch.
The Missouri, of course, attracted their attention. Marquette, with the true spirit of the explorer, writes: "I hope by its means to discover the vermillion or California sea. Judging from The Direction of the course of the Missisipi, if it Continue the same way, we think that it discharges into the mexican gulf. It would be a great advantage to find the river Leading to the southern sea, toward California...I do not despair of discovering It some day, if God grant me the grace and The health to do so, in order that I may preach The Gospel to all The peoples of this new world who have so Long Groveled in the darkness of infidelity." Little he knew that the toils of his present journey had planted the seeds of death within him, and that his dream
198of reaching the Far West was to come to naught.
His present concern was the painted monsters, and the news that he had heard of the customs of the strange tribes upon the Missouri. Our canoeists, as they knelt to their paddles, were talking earnestly about these matters, when they ran into a new and unexpected danger. The broad and murky flood of the Missouri, burdened with great masses of trees and detached bog, issued forth with such violence that the mingled currents became greatly agitated, their boats were swirled around as if mere chips, and they stood in imminent risk of being upset.
Extricating themselves at last from this peril, they proceeded happily, paddling and sailing by turns, as the wind either favored or retarded them. The Ohio's mouth, a mile-wide estuary, flanked by low-lying plains, was passed in due time; rich deposits of iron were found hard by. Ere long, mosquitoes began to torment them. "We were compelled to erect a sort of cabin on The water, with our sails as a protection against the
199mosquitoes and the rays of the sun. While drifting down The current, in this condition, we perceived on land some savages armed with guns, who awaited us." The black-gown raised aloft the calumet given to him by the Illinois; whereupon the Indians, probably of the warlike Chickasaw tribe, but "as much frightened as we were," invited the French men ashore. They were found to possess not only guns, but "hatchets, hoes, Knives, beads, and flasks of double glass, in which they put Their powder" — having obtained these from tribes who traded with Spaniards living upon the Gulf of Mexico.
Being told that they were now "no more than ten days' journey from The sea," the travelers took fresh courage. Buffaloes were bellowing on the broad bottom-lands, but could not be seen, because the banks were "bordered with lofty trees" — cottonwoods, elms, and basswoods. Small game was more abundant, giving them fresh meat for their modest cookery upon the shores. But their caution increased, for this was a strange land of forested morass, and hazards seemed to lurk at every turn.
Near the mouth of the St. Francis River, in Arkansas, they came upon a village of Mitchigameas, situated by the water's edge, and were noisily attacked by the natives. Some of the young men "embarked in great wooden canoes" and hurled clubs at the strangers, while others attempted to swim out in the strong current, apparently with the view of upsetting their slender craft. Marquette again displayed the calumet, which was not at first successful in quelling the uproar; but at last the old men quieted the hot-bloods, and the talisman was respected. Two of the elders jumped into the explorers' canoes, and "made us approach the shore, whereon we landed, not without fear on our part."
"Passing the night among them, with some anxiety," they embarked early on the following day, with an interpreter who had offered his services — "an old man who could speak a little Ilinois," the only one of the six languages mastered by Marquette which found upon these Southern waters a responsive ear. In order to obtain such information as they sought, they had been
201advised to visit an Arkansas village, eight or ten leagues below. As escort thither, "a canoe containing ten savages went a short distance ahead of us."
The Arkansas Indians dwelt upon the east side of the Mississippi, opposite the mouth of the river which bears their name. As the little flotilla approached this bankside village of bark cabins, two canoes came out to meet the visitors, and friendly relations were at once established by means of the invaluable calumet. Our friends were profusely entertained by these civil-spoken tribesmen, who produced from their number a young man who was more familiar with the Illinois dialect than was the interpreter brought from the Mitchigamea. Corn and dog's flesh were persistently forced upon the white men, being cooked in earthen vessels and served upon wooden platters, while watermelons were brought as an especial treat.
The entire day was given up to this feast, for Indians know no limit to their hospitality. But in the midst of this surfeit of food, and the accompanying dances, the explorers were filling their note-books with what
202information they could obtain concerning the river below, the inhabitants along its bank, and the beliefs and customs of their entertainers. It appeared that the Arkansas dwelt much in fear of the neighboring tribes, such as the Chickasaws, who had obtained guns from the Spanish traders to the south, and prevented their passing down the river. They themselves bought hatchets, knives, and beads from tribes living toward the east, who traded with Europeans, and from an Illinois band who dwelt four days westward; guns they were unable to obtain.
In the course of their oratory throughout the day — Marquette dwelling upon the truths of Christianity, and Joliet upon the power of New France — the French leaders made the usual presents to their hosts, but received little in return, for the latter were not wealthy, their principal possession being buffalo-robes. During the night, some of the envious natives sought to murder their guests, and thus to possess themselves of the store of trinkets which had been brought as gifts to the savages; but the chief put a stop to these plots, and made the visitors a
203present of his own calumet, as a guarantee of future safety.
Within their own cabin, Joliet and Marquette, who probably were too excited to sleep, held "a council, to deliberate upon what we should do — whether we should push on, or remain content with the discovery which we had made." They were now convinced that "beyond a doubt, the Missisipi river discharges into the florida or Mexican gulf, and not to The east in Virginia...We further considered that we exposed ourselves to the risk of losing the results of this voyage, of which we could give no information if we proceeded to fling ourselves into the hands of the Spaniards — who, without doubt, would at least have detained us as captives. Moreover, we saw very plainly that we were not in a condition to resist Savages allied to The Europeans, who were numerous, and expert in firing guns, and who continually infested the lower part of the river. Finally, we had obtained all the information that could be desired in regard to this discovery."
The explorers were assured by the Indians that they were, in any event, but two
204or three days' distance from the mouth of the great waterway. In this, however, their reckoning was sadly at fault, for the junction of the Arkansas is seven hundred miles from the gulf. Had they known this, they probably would, great as were the dangers before them, have ventured still farther upon their way. As it was, they discreetly determined to return home and report.
Chapter XIX. A Winter at St. Franç Xavier.
It was upon the seventeenth of July, just two months after they had bidden farewell to Mackinac, and a month after their discovery of the great river at Prairie du Chien, when the explorers took formal leave of the feasting Arkansas, and set forth to retrace their steps. Paddling against the strong current was a far different exercise from that of descending. It was now necessary laboriously to cross and recross the broad stream, threading their way among the islands, in order to avoid the swiftest water. The banks of the lower Mississippi are not always easy for the canoeist to follow, for deceptive bayous often lead far inland, becoming at last choked with overhanging trees festooned with moss and vines, and necessitating a long return to the proper channel. As the summer weeks slowly wore on, the temperature and the mosquitoes became
206almost unbearable upon these malarial shores: and camping at night, often without fire, or sleeping in the anchored canoes in order to avoid surprise, with night fogs chilling them to the bone, were unhealthful conditions for any of these weary men — to one of Marquette's rather delicate physique, it meant the collapse which soon followed.
As far as the Illinois River, the toilsome journey was accomplished without adventure; for they had learned where perils lurked, and by dint of extreme caution avoided them. It was pleasant news to be told that the Illinois offered a shorter route to Lake Michigan than the Fox-Wisconsin waterway, and led past villages of Illinois Indians, whose apparent leaning toward Christianity had long ago won the heart of the black-gown, when he had met these people at La Pointe. The travelers determined, therefore, to use this route. Writes Marquette: "We have seen nothing like this river that we enter, as regards its fertility of soil, its prairies and woods; its cattle, elk, deer, wildcats, bustards, swans, docks, paroquets, and even beaver. It is,"
207he continued, "wide, deep, and still, for 65 leagues."
At a place about seven miles below the present city of Ottawa, they visited a village of seventy-four long cabins, each of these housing several families. It was called Kaskaskia — but was not the town of the same name, some two hundred and fifty miles southwestward, that afterward became famous in Western history. Here the strangers were well received during their stay of three days, and Marquette, in response to an invitation to establish a mission among his hosts, promised to return for that purpose.
From this place they were conducted to Lake Michigan by one of the chiefs and a small party of young warriors. By exactly what route our friends were guided is not known. From the Des Plaines, the northern fork of the Illinois, there were two ways of reaching the great lake by canoe — either by carrying the craft over a slight watershed into the Chicago River, which we know to have been the path usually chosen in later days by explorers, fur-traders, and soldiers; or by similarly portaging to the neighboring
208Calumet, which empties into the lake at the present South Chicago. Antiquarians are divided in their opinions as to which of these was chosen by the friendly Indians; for, inasmuch as Marquette appears to have taken the same route in returning the following year, and dwelt upon its banks for several months, the interesting question arises, whether or not he can be counted as a pioneer settler of the giant city of the West. Neither Joliet's map nor Marquette's is sufficiently detailed to solve this problem, and the latter's journal is equally obscure. Most historians have, however, favored the route known to have been afterward most used, that of the Chicago River.
At last reaching Lake Michigan, by whichever portage, the two canoes boldly struck out along the western shore, which, for nearly the entire distance of three hundred miles, consists of undulating bluffs of whitish clay: sometimes projecting, beachless, far into the lake, again receding in graceful curves which enclose broad beaches of sand, thick strewn with willows and coarse sedges. Progress here was not rapid. A strong
209southward current is noticeable upon this coast, so that later canoe expeditions to the Illinois country adopted a reverse route, following the west bank in going and the east in returning; and the waves of this inland sea, particularly when lashed by northern and eastern gales, often run so high as to swamp such slender boats as those in which journeyed these seven adventurous Frenchmen. By night, or during stormy weather, they camped upon the strand; like Indians, huddling driftwood together to sustain their crude mats of woven reeds as a shelter against wind and rain.
Green Bay is separated from Lake Michigan by a bold peninsula some eighty miles long. About half-way down its length, Sturgeon Bay deeply indents it from the west, the head of this water being separated from the lake by a sandy plain some two miles in width. To those journeying by water between Green Bay and points upon the Michigan lake-shore, a hundred and fifty miles of weary paddling could be saved by carrying canoes over the intervening neck of land, which had from time immemorial been
210used by Indians as a portage path. In our day, when larger craft are needed, a United States Government canal connects the bay and the lake at this point.
The adventurers at last arrived at that point upon the coast where the old portage trail led from the water's edge up the rocky bank, and disappeared within the primeval forest of pine. Their canoes, now no doubt sadly worn by the long, rough voyage, were carried upon the heads of some of the party, while others strung upon their shoulders the packs of food and shelter-mats. All, apparently, were spent with toil and enfeebled by disorders incident to their hazardous journey through strange lands, during which they had often lacked proper food, shelter, and rest. The rough trail, under the somber woodland arches, must have been traveled with some difficulty and with many pauses by the wayside; but the tonic odor of the pines somewhat revived them, and it was with joy unspeakable that finally they launched their little vessels upon Sturgeon Bay, whose waters opened an uninterrupted path to their friends and countrymen at De Pere.
At the end of September they reached their destination, the Jesuit mission of St. Franç Xavier, by the side of the lowest rapids of the Fox — whence, four months previous, they had started forth aglow with expectation and in the bloom of healthful youth. Marquette has left us, in his simple tale, no word concerning their reception. But we know full well that it must have been a glad reunion. We can, in imagination, picture the joyful tears and embraces with which the seven sick and weary men were greeted upon their landing — black-gowns, donnés, servants, and perhaps a trader or two, hurrying down to the river's brink, with shouts of triumphant welcome; stolid savages lining the banks above, silently wondering at this safe return of the pale faces from those unspeakable terrors with which tribal traditions peopled unknown lands. Then, in the little bark chapel, prayers of thanksgiving for the deliverance of these children of God from the dangers of field and flood; and that night, by the fire in the long council-hut, no doubt weary harangues of welcome by the chiefs, with pipes of peace circling around
212the squatted throng, and grunts of satisfaction at the words of Marquette and Joliet, who skilfully clothed their accounts in that flowery language so essential in an Indian speech.
It was too late, this season, for Joliet to undertake the long return journey. Before he could reach Quebec winter would set in and entrap him on the way. Moreover, it was necessary that they should all recruit their strength. Marquette, having been transferred to St. Franç Xavier mission, was at home; even had he not been, travel for him was out of the question, for of all the party he had been most enfeebled by the expedition which had brought the great river of the Mississippi into the knowledge of the French.
The long winter at De Pere was passed quietly by our heroes. Each wrote his own report of the discovery — Marquette's in the form of a letter to his superior-general, Father Dablon; Joliet's, doubtless more detailed, was intended for the governor of New France, who had sent him thither. They made each a map of the country visited; and
213Joliet appears to have prepared other papers of importance concerning the expedition — but exactly what they were we shall never know. No doubt he entertained himself with trips to outlying villages, with the fur-traders, or accompanying the missionaries, who were ever on the move; and Marquette of course assisted, so far as his strength would allow, in the regular work of the mission — baptizing the sick, the dying, and children; giving solace to the weary in heart, losing no opportunity for instructing the simple tribesmen in the mysteries of Christianity, and combating the jealous and ever-troublesome medicine-men.
When the time arrived for Mackinac straits to be cleared of ice, Joliet bade farewell to his friend, and, with his crew of boatmen, set forth in high spirits upon his voyage to Quebec. He passed in safety down the surging flood of the Ottawa River route as far as La Chine rapids, just above Montreal, when his canoe was there upset, his crew and all his papers were lost, and he himself barely missed a similar fate, after struggling in the tumultuous waters for four
214hours. Thus robbed of his journal and elaborate map of the new country, poor Joliet was in a sorry plight when finally he reached the little capital of New France. In the Jesuit Relation of that year, Father Dablon, who had "interviewed" the luckless explorer, wrote (August 1, 1674) a brief, hurried account of the discovery, "put together after hearing him converse, while waiting for the relation, of which father Marquette is keeping a copy."
Joliet does not appear to have succeeded in winning that immediate recognition from the government of New Prance which he thought due him. For several years he held minor positions; but, six years after the discovery, was granted extensive fishing privileges upon the lower St. Lawrence River, and in 1680 was given, together with a public office, the island of Anticosti, also a profitable fishing-ground. Upon this island he resided with his family; and was growing rich, when in 1690 Phips's fleet destroyed his establishment and he was ruined. At the time of his death (1700), although owning a large tract of land near Quebec, he was suffering from poverty.
Father Marquette, seeking neither fame nor riches, was content, in his humble home upon the Fox, with reporting to his superior-general. This account, together with his map of the region, was in due time forwarded to Quebec, probably by the hands of Ottawa Indians going thither in a fleet of canoes upon their annual trip to attend the great rendezvous of Indians and French traders upon the lower St. Lawrence.
The original map drawn by Marquette can still be seen in the archives of St. Mary's College, in Montreal. But the whereabouts of his manuscript narrative of this famous voyage is unknown; our extracts are taken from a copy made by Father Dablon, which still exists in these archives, Dablon's "interview " with Joliet was not published in Paris until Marquette was dying in the land of the Illinois; while the latter's full report of the discovery did not see print until six years after he had passed away. He could never have known of the unfortunate loss of Joliet's papers, and therefore died unaware that he alone was the reporter of the expedition. For only his journal, safely delivered
216to the superior-general, was published to the world. The man who cared not for fame unwittingly won it; while the one who sought honors gained, because of an accident, but slight recognition, and has only in our own time come to be generally recognized as a full partner in the great discovery.
Chapter XX. Relief in Death.
As a result of hardships endured upon the voyage of discovery, Father Marquette had acquired an ailment which defied all attempts at cure. He wished, most eagerly, to return to his mission in Illinois, which he had promised to revisit early in the year. His good friend Joliet had now departed for the East, leaving him at St. Franç Xavier, impatient to take up the Southern journey. But the spring wore on, and then the summer, yet he was still a sick man, unable to wander far from even such small comforts as the little mission hut afforded, and "he was giving up the hope of undertaking a second" voyage.
In the early autumn, however, he thought himself cured, and sought from his superior-general permission to pass the winter among the Illinois. Orders acceding to his wishes at last came from Quebec, and he started from De Pere upon the twenty-fifth of
218October, 1674, after thirteen months of unwelcome inactivity. With him were two men, Pierre Porteret and one called Jacques, whose last name is unrecorded; one of these had accompanied him upon the first voyage.
The details of this second and last expedition are given in a diary kept by the missionary until within a few weeks of his death. The original manuscript, blotted and weather-stained, is still preserved as a precious relic at St. Mary's College, in Montreal. Accompanying it is an account written by Father Dablon, gathered partly from this diary and partly from conversations with the companions of Marquette. From both together, we obtain these particulars of the closing months of the devoted apostle to the Illinois.
At the Sturgeon Bay portage, they joined a fleet of nine canoes — four filled with Illinois Indians, and five with Pottawattomies, all bound for Kaskaskia, which had been visited by Marquette the year before. Following up the western shore of Lake Michigan, they were, throughout their voyage of somewhat over a month, much distressed by
219stormy weather and cold. Frequently were they detained two and three days at a time, and on one occasion five days, waiting for "the great agitation of the lake" to subside. Blinding snow-storms sometimes enveloped them; often floating masses of ice prevented their landing; several times they met friendly Indians upon the shores — among them a stray band of Mascoutens — and stopped and parleyed with them; an important occupation was the hunting of game — turkeys, geese, partridges, deer, and buffaloes.
During the first half of this long journey, the monotony of which the father often sought to vary by walking along the beach while his canoe kept within hailing distance, he was in tolerable health. But as soon as the snow began to fall, it was evident that the constant exposure — for slight indeed was the shelter that he could obtain in the little hut of reeds reared upon the wind-swept beaches — was too great for the stricken man to endure. He was again seized with his ailment, and (December 4) putting into the Chicago River, "which was frozen to the depth of half a foot," had perforce to pass
220the winter there, in a wretched apology of a cabin erected by his men "near the portage, 2 leagues up the river." They were visited occasionally by deputations of sympathetic Illinois, who expressed much sorrow at the missionary's plight; and, bringing gifts and medicines, besought him to proceed to their villages as soon as might be. Early in January, a French trader, operating eighteen leagues away, sent the good man dried blueberries and corn by the hands of a surgeon who was passing the winter at the trading camp.
It will be remembered that when the young scholar of Laon, Jacques Marquette, was dreaming, far away in sunny France, of following in the footsteps of the great missionary St. Franç Xavier, he prayed that to him, also, might come the blessed experience of carrying the Gospel of Christ to many strange nations, and then of dying alone in the wilderness. Plainly he now perceived his weakness increasing from day to day, "that God was granting to him the favor which he had so many times besought from him." Informing his sorrowing
221companions of his approaching end, he exhorted them "as much as his strength permitted," but passed the greater part of his time in prayer.
The winter had been unusually harsh upon this almost treeless waste of alternating swamp and sand-dunes, upon which, a century and a half later, the city of Chicago was reared. But the approach of spring brought renewed vitality to the poor invalid, and in the closing days of March the three Frenchmen set out to pursue their voyage to the Illinois villages upon the river of that name. They "spent eleven Days upon the Way, during which time he had occasion to suffer much, both from his own Illness, from which he had not entirely recovered, and from the very severe and unfavorable weather." That his health had suddenly grown much worse is evident from the fact that the last entry in his journal is dated the sixth of April, while he and his men were awaiting favorable weather to descend the Des Plaines River. Apparently he did not again set his pen to paper.
Reaching the great village of the Illinois
222upon the eighth, "he was received as an angel from Heaven." After considerable instruction, the missionary, three days before Easter, addressed the savages at a general council, "which he called together in the open Air, the Cabins being too small to contain all the people. It was a beautiful prairie, close to a village, which was Selected for the great Council." A large framework had been built of saplings, and covered with reed mats and bearskins; upon lines stretched near the temporary altar erected within this slender tabernacle, were hung "several pieces of Chinese taffeta, attached to these four large Pictures of the blessed Virgin, which were visible on all Sides." Seated in a circle around the father were five hundred chiefs and elders, while all about stood the young men, to the number of a thousand. For this was an unusually large village, composed of five or six hundred families.
Father Marquette was no doubt a preacher of rare power. Not only on this occasion, but for several days following, "he was listened to by all those peoples with universal
223Joy; and they prayed him with most earnest Entreaty to come back to them as soon as possible, since his sickness obliged him to return. The father, on his Side, expressed to them, the affection which he felt for them, and the satisfaction that they had given him; and pledged them his word that he, or some other of our fathers would return to Carry on that mission so happily Inaugurated. This promise he repeated several times, while parting with them to go upon his Way; and he set out with so many tokens of regard on the part of Those good peoples that, as a mark of honor they chose to escort him for more than 30 leagues on the Road, vying with each other in taking Charge of his slender baggage."
The end was not far distant. Realizing that death might claim him at any moment, the drooping apostle, supported by his two devoted servants, painfully found their way back to the mouth of Chicago River. His destination was now the mission of St. Ignace, where, if God so willed, he might lay down this mantle of flesh, and pass to his reward.
To reach the straits of Mackinac, he must needs proceed down the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, taking advantage of the north-setting current, which soon came to be followed by the fleets of the fur-traders. Day by day, when weather permitted, the little canoe was propelled along the coast — in the best of seasons, a slow and painful journey. But in April and early May, chilling gales often lash the sea into fury; and now there were but two rowers, with a heavy burden between them, as they knelt to their sorrowful task. As for the poor young missionary, who had so long been suffering martyrdom in the cause of the Master, "his strength was so rapidly diminishing that his two men despaired of being able to bring him alive To the end of their journey. Indeed," continues Father Dablon, "he became so feeble and exhausted that he was unable to assist or even to move himself, and had to be handled and carried about like a child."
The eastern coast of Lake Michigan presents an entirely different appearance from that of the Wisconsin side. The prevalent western winds have, through the ages, swept
225the beach sand into great white hills which so closely fringe the shore as to present a most forbidding aspect to the traveler by water. Here and there this bleak rampart is deeply cleft by rivers, forcing their way through to the great basin without — thus furnishing harbors, wherein storm-driven craft may enter and obtain shelter behind the protecting range of dunes.
Within the mouths of several such rivers did our weary canoeists camp by night or during storms — that of St. Joseph, also a pathway to the Mississippi, afterward used by La Salle's and many another famous expedition to the South; and those of Kalamazoo, Grand, and Muskegon, upon whose far stretching banks the Michigan fur trade long flourished under French, English, and Americans in turn.
Throughout the voyage, Marquette's chief thoughts were of his devoted companions, and of preparation for his own end. As he lay, reclining upon reed-mats in the bottom of the canoe, or upon the sand within their shelter-hut, he frequently gave religious instruction to his boatmen, who listened
226to him as one divinely inspired, speaking to them from the edge of the grave. His instructions as to what was to be done when the death-agony was upon him, and concerning the disposition of his body, were most minute. "He spoke of all these things," writes Dablon, "with so great tranquillity and presence of mind that one might have supposed that he was concerned with the death and funeral of some other person, and not with his own."
"Thus did he converse with them as they made their way upon the lake — until, having perceived a river, on the shore of which stood an eminence that he deemed well suited to the place of his interment, he told them that That was the place of his last repose." This river, which for several miles inland takes on the character of a long, narrow lake, was what is now called the Pere Marquette; upon its shore has been built the Michigan city of Ludington.
The day was not far spent, and the weather being favorable, the boatmen wished to proceed farther upon their way. But, Dablon tells us, "God raised a Contrary wind,
227which compelled them to return, and enter the river which the father had pointed out. They accordingly brought him to the land, lighted a little fire for him, and prepared for him a wretched Cabin of bark. They laid him down therein, in the least uncomfortable way that they could; but they were so stricken with sorrow that, as they have since said, they hardly knew what they were doing."
While his men were tearfully engaged about him in the business of the camp, Father Marquette spent the brief remainder of his life in prayer. They especially heard him give thanks to God for being a missionary of Christ, and above all for dying "as he had always prayed, in a Wretched cabin in the midst of the forest and bereft of all human succor." Between the hours of eleven and midnight, upon the same day, — Saturday, the eighteenth of May, 1675, — "with a countenance beaming and all aglow, he expired without any Struggle, and so gently that it might have been regarded as a pleasant sleep."
Chapter XXI. Marquette's Place in History.
Burying the body of their master as directed, and planting at his feet a large cross in order to mark the grave, the sorrowing survivors hurried on as best they could to St. Ignace to report the loss; and during the following summer were in Quebec, bearing similar tidings.
The sad news soon spread far and wide throughout the missions of the upper lakes. The following winter, some Kiskakons, whom Marquette had instructed at La Pointe, hunted near the shores of Lake Michigan. In the spring, upon their return, they sought "the grave of their good father, whom they tenderly loved," desiring to carry his bones, after the fashion of Indians, to St. Ignace, where they now dwelt.
In accordance with their custom, they dissected the body, "cleansed the bones and exposed them in the sun to dry; then, carefully
229laying them in a box of birch-bark, they set out to bring them to our mission of St. Ignace." Thirty canoes, filled with both Kiskakons and Iroquois, formed the funeral procession. When, after a voyage of nearly two hundred and fifty miles, they drew near the strand of St. Ignace, Father Nouvel, now superior of the Ottawa mission, accompanied by Father Pierson, rowed out and "put the usual questions to them, to make sure that It was really the father's body which they were bringing." Satisfied with the replies, the two priests "Intoned the de profundis in the presence of the 30 Canoes, which were still on the water, and of the people who were on the shore."
Upon being taken to the church, the body "remained exposed under the pall, all that Day, which was whitsun-monday, the 8th of June; and on the morrow, after having rendered to it all the funeral rites, it was lowered into a small Vault in the middle of the church, where it rests as the guardian angel of our outaouacs [Ottawas] mission. The savages often come to pray over his tomb."
The little church at St. Ignace was
230destroyed by fire in 1700, and for a century and three-quarters all traces of the site and of Marquette's resting-place were lost. But in September, 1877, Father Edward Jacker, a learned missionary priest then in charge of the parish of St. Ignace, discovered the few mortal remains of his great predecessor — some small fragments of bone, together with scraps of the birch box in which the body had been encased by the Kiskakons two centuries before. About a fourth of these relics are now exhibited in the church of St. Ignace; the others, in the Jesuit college in Milwaukee, which bears his name.
Above Marquette's grave, upon the old mission site, has been reared an untasteful monument of marble, visited and photographed each summer by thousands of tourists — for the once far-away straits of Mackinac, where Marquette, Dablon, and Pierson zealously sought to convert the nomadic tribes of the wilderness, is now one of the most popular resorts in America. In the Capitol at Washington is shown another monument, a well-executed ideal statue of our hero, by an accomplished Italian sculptor,
231the gift of the State of Wisconsin; but the jaunty pose and well-groomed aspect of this marble effigy surely do not represent the son of Laon as he was. Better, by far, the reputed portrait which we give as frontispiece to this volume — discovered by curious chance in Montreal a few years since, and having strong claim to probability. In this we may trace the lineaments of a man who at least might have resembled Marquette in gentleness and spiritual force. Unfortunately, no other portrait bearing any probable resemblance to our hero is known to be in existence.
Father Marquette died in his thirty-eighth year, after an experience of less than nine years as a missionary. Soon ordered, after his arrival in Canada, to the then far Northwest, he toiled in a comparatively narrow field, until his great expedition in Joliet's company brought his name prominently before the world. We have seen that the news of that voyage had barely been published before he fell a victim to the rigors of his task. Yet in that brief period his
232character had deeply impressed itself upon the Ottawa missions. No one has better described him than Dablon, in a circular letter addressed to the members of the order, reciting the death and virtues of his friend. Writes the superior-general: "He always labored with much fatigue and great success at the conversion of the savages in our most arduous missions among the Outawas. He was one of the most accomplished Missionaries that we had. He possessed all the virtues of one, to a sovereign degree: universal zeal, an angelic chastity, an incomparable kindness and sweetness, a childlike candor, a very close union with God...I should never finish this letter were I to attempt to say all the good that we know of him...we have every reason to believe that after having lived as a true missionary, and died as an apostle, God took him away from us so early only to reward him in heaven for all his labors."
It is idle to ask whether to Joliet or to Marquette shall be given the greater credit for the discovery of the Mississippi. Their names, in this connection, must always be