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Chapters from Illinois History 





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Illinois History 

BY I^Of 






The Land of the Illinois. 

I. Discovery . i 

II Exploration 40 

III. Occupation 94 

IV. Settlement 138 

Notes 192 

Illinois in the Eighteenth Century. 

I. Old Fort Chartres 212 

II. Col. John Todd's Record Book . . 250 

Illinois in the Revolution ..... 280 

The March of the Spaniards Across Illinois 293 

Notes . . . . . . . 312 

The Chicago Massacre 313 


The papers composing this volume are published prac- 
tically just as they were left by the author. "The Land 
of the Illinois" was written in 1896, and has never been 
printed before. "Illinois in the Eighteenth Century" is 
composed of two papers read before the Chicago His- 
torical Society in 1880 and 1881, and published by the 
Fergus Printing Company in 1881 ; "Illinois in the Revo- 
lution" was written probably in 1896; "The March of 
the Spaniards across Illinois" was published in substance 
in the Magazine of American History for May, 1886; 
"The Chicago Massacre" was delivered in substance as 
an address at the unveiling of a bronze memorial group 
in Chicago on June 22, 1893. 

The author had planned to write a complete history of 
Illinois, and had it been possible for him to carry out his 
intention the contents of this volume would have formed 
a considerable part of the history. 

Chapters from Illinois History 

Chapters from Illinois History 


I. Discovery 

Upon the curious map of New France published by 
Samuel de Champlain in 1632 is shown, beyond Lac Mer 
Douce, which we call Lake Huron, the home of a people 
whom he describes as "a nation where there is a quan- 
tity of buffalo." 1 Champlain, the "Father of Canada," 
and the first to carry the flag of France into the heart of 
North America, reached Lake Huron in 161 5. This was 
the western limit of his explorations, but he gathered 
from the natives in that region information concerning 
what lay beyond, which he included in this map, the 
earliest known delineation of the country of the Great 
Lakes. 2 It takes strange liberties with their topography, 
even to ignoring Lake Erie, confining Lake Michigan to 
Green Bay, and transferring it and the Fox and Wisconsin 
waterway to the north of Lake Superior. But there 
appear upon it indications which justify the belief that 
the far away people of whom Champlain heard as he 
coasted the shore of the Georgian Bay, were the tribe 
later known as the Illinois, and that the country in which 
they dwelt where the buffalo abounded was the prairie 
land upon which their name is fixed forevermore. 3 


Such being the case, this brief mention is the earliest 
notice in history of the Illinois Indians, and Champlain, 
though he never visited their domain, brought them to 
the knowledge of Europe and became in some sense their 
discoverer. Five years before the Pilgrims landed at 
Plymouth, this splendid sailor, soldier and explorer 
reached a point in the interior of the North American 
continent a thousand miles from the Gulf of St. Law- 
rence; and ever desiring, as he said, "to see the Lily 
flourish and also the only religion, Catholic, Apostolic and 
Roman," 4 longed to press onward to win new conquests 
for France and the Church. He lamented that the 
natives by the great lake, Mer Douce, were at war with 
the more distant nations, fuller knowledge of whom he 
was thus prevented from obtaining. 5 Reluctantly he left 
this field to men of sufficient means, leisure and energy 
to undertake the enterprise. 6 Heroic energy he did not 
lack, but time and opportunity were not granted to him. 
Yet he pointed out the way which those followed who 
reached the goal of which he dreamed. He was the fore- 
runner of the discovery of the land of the Illinois, and at 
the very beginning of its history we see Champlain in 
his canoe on the Georgian Bay, gazing westward. 

To Champlain is doubtless directly due the first visit of 
one of his race to the region west of Lake Michigan. As 
Governor of New France, he appears to have sent his 
interpreter, Jean Nicolet, in 1634, to make peace between 
the Winnebagoes of Green Bay and the Hurons of the 
lake now known by their name. 7 In the year of his 
appointment, or possibly not until 1638, 8 Nicolet arrived 
in the region comprised in the present State of Wiscon- 
sin, and so was the foremost of white men to set foot 
upon its soil. From this adventurous journey he seems 


to have brought some tidings of the Illinois Indians, since 
the Reverend Father Vimont, writing from Canada to 
France in 1640, speaks of the nations whose names were 
given him by the Sieur Nicolet who had visited most of 
them in their own country, and among those in the 
neighborhood of the Winnebagoes he mentions the Erin- 
iouaj, 9 who seemingly were the Illinois. It has been 
ingeniously argued that Nicolet visited the Illinois in 
their villages on the prairies, 10 but there is no evidence 
sufficient to establish this proposition. And we can only 
be certain that he, who in his time worthily bore the 
reputation of having penetrated farthest into those remote 
countries, was the next after Champlain to give to the 
expectant priests and traders in the little settlement on 
the rock of Quebec news of the distant people who lived 
in the land of the buffalo. 

Of this people and their land we next hear in the rela- 
tion of that which took place in the mission of the Fa- 
thers of the Company of Jesus in the country of New 
France, in the years 1655 and 1656, sent to the Reverend 
Father Louis Cellot, the Provincial Superior of the Jes- 
uits at Paris. The writer, enlivening his pages with an 
occasional classic allusion, tells of two young Frenchmen 
who in company with some savages set forth from Que- 
bec August 6, 1654, and made a voyage of more than five 
hundred leagues, borne, as he picturesquely says, not in 
great galleons or splendid galleys, but in little gondolas 
of bark. They returned to civilization in August, 1656, 
with a fleet of fifty canoes laden with Indian merchan- 
dise, and were received with a grand salute of cannon 
from Fort St. Louis. 11 By these pilgrims and their 
dusky hosts, the Jesuits were told of the different nations 
in the neighborhood of the Nation of the Sea, meaning 


the Winnebagoes of Green Bay, and among them of the 
Linouck, a people comprising about sixty villages. 18 These 
undoubtedly were the Illinois, and this has been called the 
first mention of the tribe in history, 13 but, as we have seen, 
it is later in point of time than the references made by 
Champlain and Nicolet. It is, however, the earliest men- 
tion of their numbers, and these exceeded those assigned 
to any of the neighboring nations. It is not probable 
that either of these young Frenchmen in fact reached the 
land of the Illinois, as their report was apparently based 
on hearsay rather than on personal observation. And we 
may be sure that an actual visit to that region would have 
been fully chronicled by the Jesuits. In their Relation of 
1658, perhaps referring to the news brought by this 
expedition or possibly to still later information, it is 
stated that among the nations recently discovered is the 
Aliniouck (another version of the name Illinois), which is 
very numerous, including quite twenty thousand war- 
riors, and sixty villages comprising about one hundred 
thousand souls. And this nation is said to be located 
seven days' journey from St. Michel, a village of the 
Pottawattamies of Green Bay, and to the westward. 14 

Again, in the 1660 Relation, we are told of two French- 
men who had arrived at Quebec with three hundred 
Algonquins in sixty canoes loaded with peltry. They 
had wintered on the borders of Lake Superior, and sixty 
days' journey to the southwest of it, had reached a band 
of Hurons who had been driven from their own country 
by the Iroquois. These fugitives had penetrated the 
unknown forests and happily came upon a beautiful river, 
grand, large, deep and comparable to the great river St. 
Lawrence, and upon its banks they had found the great 
Aliniouck nation, once more described as composed of 


sixty villages, which received them very kindly. 15 The 
names of these Frenchmen do not appear in the record, 
and this, which is in reality the earliest published mention 
of a visit to the upper Mississippi, passed almost unno- 
ticed until very recent times. 16 But we know now that 
this pair of explorers were the dauntless voyageurs Pierre 
Esprit Radisson and his brother-in-law, Medard Chouart, 
Sieur des Groseilliers, whose travels and experiences 
among the North American Indians between the years 
1652 and 1684 were of surpassing interest. Radisson's 
own account of these remarkable journeys, after remain- 
ing in manuscript more than two hundred years, has but 
recently been published." From this it is plain that he 
was the first of white men to reach the northern portion 
of the great river of the West, which he saw in the sum- 
mer of 1659 ; 18 and the first to announce that among the 
dwellers by its waters was the tribe of the Illinois. 

Such tidings, and perhaps those brought by other 
explorers and traders whose names and adventures have 
not been chronicled, turned the thoughts of the authori- 
ties of Canada more and more towards the Mississippi 
and the land of the Illinois as associated with it. And the 
movements of this tribe soon began to be of such a nature 
as to bring them more prominently to the attention of the 
French. The wars in which the Illinois became engaged 
with the Sioux on the one hand and the Iroquois on the 
other reduced their numbers and scattered them widely. 
They began to appear in roving bands at the Mission of 
the Holy Ghost established in 1665 on Lake Superior and 
at that of Saint Francois Xavier at Green Bay, founded 
four years later. 19 Among those who came to the former 
place was organized the Mission of the Aliniouek or Illi- 
nouek. The priest in charge of it writes a most interest- 


ing description of the Illinois Indians of that day. He 
praises them as affable and humane, and says, that when 
they meet a stranger they utter a cry of joy, caress him 
and give him every proof of friendship. He describes 
their country, from information given by them, as genial 
in climate, producing two crops of Indian corn a year, 
with no forests there at all, but a wealth of grand prairies 
where the buffalo, deer, bear and other animals pass to 
and fro in great numbers. 20 The readiness of the Illinois 
to receive instruction and their desire that missionaries 
should visit them in their own attractive land, interested 
the Church in the plan which the State was forming for 
an expedition to the West. 21 

Jean Talon, Intendant of Canada from 1665 to 1668, 
and again from 1670 to 1672, was the master spirit of its 
government during his brief five years of service. He 
saw again the vision of Champlain of the occupation of 
the great West by France, and bent all his energies to its 
realization. In 1670 he sent a party to proclaim the royal 
authority throughout the whole region of the interior, 
under the leadership of Simon Francois Daumont, Sieur 
de St. Lusson. Messages to as many of the natives as 
possible appointed a meeting at the Sault Ste. Marie, 
and when representatives of fourteen tribes had assem- 
bled there, St. Lusson carried out his instructions. On 
the 14th of June, 1671, in the presence of the throng of 
savages, and of four Reverend Fathers of the Company 
of Jesus, and of his little band of fifteen Frenchmen, he 
caused his commission to be read aloud, and to be trans- 
lated into the Indian tongue by his interpreter Nicolas 
Perrot. A cross of wood was reared, and near it was 
placed a cedar post bearing the arms of France. St. 
Lusson three times in a loud voice made proclamation in 


the name of the Most High, Most Powerful and Most 
Redoubted Monarch, Louis, fourteenth of that name, 
Most Christian King of France and Navarre, that he took 
possession of Ste. Marie du Sault, as well as of Lakes 
Huron and Superior, the Island of Manatoulin, and all 
the other lands, streams, lakes and rivers contiguous and 
adjacent, both those discovered and those to be discov- 
ered, bounded on the one side by the Seas of the North 
and the West, and on the other bv the South Sea, as to 
all their length and breadth. At each proclamation he 
raised a sod of earth in his hand and cried, "Vive le 
Roi, " and made the whole assembly, French and savage 
alike, join in the cry. 22 

The Proces Verbal of this ceremony recites St. Lus- 
son's orders to journey to the country of the savages, 
Outaouacs, Nez-Perces, Illinois, and other nations dis- 
covered and to be discovered in North America in the 
region of Lake Superior or Mer Douce (Huron). In 
enumerating the tribes which responded to his summons 
he mentions the Poulteattemies (Pottawattamies) and 
others dwelling upon what was called the Bay of the 
Puants, which we know as Green Bay. And it expressly 
states that these Indians took it upon themselves to make 
the matter known to their neighbors, the Illinois, and 
other nations. 28 It is apparent, therefore, that the Illinois 
were at this period included, as to their place of abode, 
among the undiscovered people, or those to whom the 
news of this important event was to be communicated by 
the neighboring tribes, and that their country, so far as 
known to any in that assemblage, comprising officers of 
the crown, priests, traders and representatives of many 
Indian tribes, was still unvisited by the French. 

The time, however, was approaching when the secret 


of the prairies was to be revealed ; and their discoverer 
was one of those who gathered around St. Lusson's 
banner at the Sault Ste. Marie. 24 St. Lusson returned to 
Quebec late in the following year to report the success- 
ful accomplishment of his undertaking to Talon. The 
Intendant's busy brain was already planning a more 
important step, and he next resolved to find the great 
river Mississippi, and to explore the regions adjacent 
thereto. In 1672 he selected for the leader in this enter- 
prise the young Canadian, Louis Jolliet, 25 who was one of 
the witnesses of St. Lusson's imposing ceremony at the 

Louis Jolliet was the second son of Jean Jolliet, a 
native of the town of Sezanne in France, 26 who emigrated 
to Canada before the middle of the seventeenth century, 
and was the first of the name in that country. He was 
a wagon-maker by occupation, and was employed by the 
Company of the Hundred Associates, for many years the 
proprietors of Canada. 27 On October 9, 1639, Jean Jolliet 
and Marie d'Abancour were married in the parish of 
Notre Dame de Quebec, and among those present at the 
wedding was the famous Jean Nicolet, not long returned 
from his exploration of the Wisconsin region. 

Louis Jolliet was born at Quebec in 1645, and baptized 
September 21st of that year, as appears from the records 
of the parish of Notre Dame de Quebec for the period, 
which are still preserved. When very young he resolved 
to be a priest, and was educated for that office at the Jes- 
uit College of Quebec, where he was a classmate of the 
first native Canadian advanced to the priesthood. Jolliet 
received the tonsure and the minor orders at the age of 
seventeen, and became an assistant in the college. At 
the age of twenty-one he bore a prominent part in a pub- 


lie discussion in philosophy, which was attended by all 
the dignitaries of the colony. The Intendant Talon him- 
self joined in the argument on this occasion, and may 
there first have seen the youthful Jolliet whom six years 
later he was to designate for an undertaking which 
brought renown to both their names. In 1667 Jolliet is 
spoken of as clerk of the church at Quebec, but soon 
after his arrival at manhood he left the ecclesiastical serv- 
ice and became a fur trader and explorer. 28 His elder 
brother Adrien was engaged in the same pursuits, as 
appears from an interesting document, which lately came 
to light, executed by him and eight associates at his place 
of residence, Cap de la Magdeleine, on the St. Maurice 
River. It is a joint agreement for a trading voyage 
to the Ottawas, the term then applied to the western 
Indians in general, dated April 20, 1666, and contemplat- 
ing an immediate departure for the wilderness. 89 Louis 
Jolliet followed his brother's example, and soon obtained 
a reputation for courage and skill in exploration. It is 
said that he made a visit to France in 1667, returning the 
following year. 

. Talon, before leaving for Paris, in 1668, employed Jolliet 
and a comrade named Pere, at a handsome remunera- 
tion, to discover a copper mine believed to be on Lake 
Superior, and to find a better route than those then in use, 
for the transportation of the mineral to the settlements. 
They set forth from Montreal early in 1669, with four 
canoes laden with merchandise to trade with the natives 
by the way, and arrived at the home of one of the west- 
ern tribes, but lack of time prevented their reaching the 
mine from which the natives brought specimens of very 
rich ore. In his other purpose Jolliet was more success- 
ful, and on his return journey added to geography 


another of the Great Lakes, and a new waterway to the 
West. He found some Iroquois captives among these 
savages, whom he commanded, upon the authority of the 
Governor of Canada, to make peace with the Five 
Nations, and persuaded them to release a captive that he 
might carry the news of their pacific purpose to his peo- 
ple. The grateful messenger rendered a most important 
service in return, and showed Jolliet the route, till then 
unknown to the French, by Lakes Ste. Claire 30 and Erie. 
He was the first of white men to navigate these waters 
and stands in history as their discoverer. Passing 
through the Strait of Detroit he coasted the northern 
shore of the lonely Lake Erie, until his guide, fearing 
they might be waylaid by a war party of the Andastes if 
they attempted the Niagara portage, diverged by way of 
Grand River towards the head of Lake Ontario. 81 But 
Jolliet learned that it was easy to go directly to that lake 
by water with the exception of a portage of half a league 
around the great cataract. 

Between Grand River and the Burlington Bay of to-day, 
at the Iroquois village of Otinawatawa, a few miles north 
of the site of the present city of Hamilton, in September, 
1669, Jolliet encountered, to their mutual surprise, La 
Salle on his first journey westward, accompanied by two 
priests of the Sulpitian order, Francois Dollier and 
L'Abbe de Galin6e. Jolliet gave the party much valua- 
ble information, and outlined for them his own route from 
the Ottawas, which led the priests to separate from La 
Salle, and to pursue their journey along Lake Erie. 3 ' 2 
They wintered on its shores and took formal possession 
of all the lands adjacent to it in the name of Louis XIV, 
whose arms with a proper inscription they affixed to a 
cross which they erected. 33 The public record of this act 


has caused the two Sulpitians to be considered the dis- 
coverers of this lake, but this honor, as we have seen, 
really belongs to Jolliet. He went on his way to Quebec 
where he was welcomed as one who had opened a new 
and easy navigation between Lakes Ontario and Huron. 
Another and more important link in the great chain of 
water communication between the Gulf of St. Law- 
rence and the Gulf of Mexico he was soon to add. 

We know that Jolliet made still other excursions 
through the West, and he was probably on his way home- 
ward from one of these when he met St. Lusson's party 
at Sault Ste. Marie. 34 Before the time of his appoint- 
ment he had penetrated almost to the Mississippi. He 
had become familiar with the languages of the tribes 
among whom he had traveled, 35 and there was no man in 
Canada better qualified than he to undertake a great dis- 
co ver} 7 . 36 No wonder, therefore, that the sagacious Talon 
chose him of all others for this service. The Intendant's 
action was highly commended by those best able to judge 
of it. Count Frontenac wrote the great French Minister 
Colbert that Jolliet was a man renowned for this kind of 
discovery, who had already been nearly to the great river 
of which he now promised to discover the mouth. 37 
Father Dablon, Superior General of the Missions of the 
Society of Jesus, in his official reports to the headquarters 
of his order, stated that Jolliet was a young man born in 
Canada, and endowed with every quality that could be 
desired in such an enterprise. He possessed experience 
and a knowledge of the languages of the Ottawa country 
where he had spent several years; he had the tact and 
prudence so necessary for the success of a voyage equally 
dangerous and difficult, and lastly he had courage to fear 
nothing where all is to be feared. These high encomi- 


urns from both civil and ecclesiastical authorities were 
fully justified by the result. 38 

Talon returned to France in November, 1672, after his 
Mississippi expedition and its leader had been fully 
approved by Count Frontenac, the new Governor of Can- 
ada. 39 The Intendant had the pleasure before his depar- 
ture of seeing Jolliet set forth on his adventurous 
journey. 40 He was requested to take with him as the mis- 
sionary chaplain of his party the Jesuit Father Jacques 
Marquette, who was then at the mission of St. Ignace 
on the mainland opposite the island of Mackinac. 41 This 
was not an official appointment, 43 but was doubtless the 
suggestion of the Jesuit authorities at Quebec, who 
desired to plant their missions in the land of the Illinois 
and recognized Marquette's special fitness for such work. 
The selection was agreeable to Jolliet, who had indeed 
expressed a wish that Marquette should be the priest 
assigned to the expedition, as they were already 
acquainted, and had often talked of such an enterprise as 
that which awaited them. 43 Through this association and 
its consequences the story of Marquette's life, like chat 
of Jolliet, has become a part of the history of Illinois, 
and it is fitting to narrate it. 

Jacques Marquette was a native of Laon, in northeast- 
ern France, situated near a branch of the River Oise in 
the department of Aisne, a once famous place, whosfe 
mountain site and ancient walls and lordly cathedral 
make it still an ideal mediaeval town. His family was 
the oldest and one of the most honorable there, and a 
long line of heroic and distinguished ancestors gave lus- 
ter to his name. They traced their origin to Vermand 
Marquette, a favorite counselor of Louis the Young, and 
one of those who held for that king the city of Arras. 


Vermand's son Jacques, intendant for Ferrand, Count 
of Flanders, sought to share his lord's captivity after the 
battle of Bouvines, and as a perpetual souvenir of his 
devotion, the Countess of Flanders gave the name of 
Marquette to an abbey founded by her near Lille. The 
next in succession was Jacques the Second, who as one of 
the Aldermen of Laon zealously aided its Provost in 
obtaining from the burghers a portion of the ransom of 
the hapless King John taken prisoner at Poitiers. In 
recognition of this service, the Alderman and the Provost 
were authorized to add to their coats of arms the three 
martlets which the city bore on its own shield." Others 
of the family in the sixteenth century possessed the 
estate of Touly, took the title of esquire, and were 
prominent in the magistracy of Laon. Nicolas Mar- 
quette, a counselor of the city in the days of Henry of 
Navarre, adhered to that sovereign and refused to join 
the League, suffering exile and the loss of his goods 
because of his fidelity to the king. In later times the 
honor of the name was nobly maintained by Jean Charles 
Marquette, King's Advocate at Laon during Louis Fif- 
teenth's reign, whose reputation for justice, wisdom and 
virtue filled the whole province, and by his son Antoine 
Francois who was counselor of the Grand Chamber of the 
Parliament of Paris at the outbreak of the French Revo- 
lution, 45 and by the three young Marquettes who served 
with the troops of France in our War of Independence, 
and gave their lives for our country. 46 

But no one of these has conferred such renown upon 
his lineage, or is so proudly commemorated in the annals 
of Laon 47 as the humble priest born there in the year 1637. 
His mother, Rose de La Salle, of the royal city of Rheims, 
by a singular coincidence bore a name which, like his 


own, was to be indissolubly connected with the history 
of the Northwest. She was a relative of the venerable 
Jean Baptiste de La Salle, the founder of the society known 
as the Brothers of the Christian Schools. Her religious 
zeal and fervor, combined perhaps with her kinsman's 
example, inspired her daughter Francoise to establish 
the association for the instruction of young girls named 
from her the Sisters Marquette, 48 and her son to enroll 
himself as a member of the Society of Jesus. He joined 
this order at the early age of seventeen, and after twelve 
years of teaching and study, sought an assignment to the 
Canadian missions, and arrived at Quebec September 
20, 1666. 4U He applied himself to the Indian tongues 
and served as parish priest at Boucherville, where his 
signature may still be seen in the church records, and 
studied at Three Rivers until April, 1668, when he was 
ordered to prepare for the Ottawa mission. During that 
year he began his missionary career on the American 
shore of the Sault Ste. Marie, at the foot of the rapids, 
and here, with the aid of Father Claude Dablon, who 
joined him the following season, a church was built. 
The next autumn he was transferred to the mission at 
La Pointe on Lake Superior, to succeed Father Allouez, 
and reached his new station September 13, 1669. 60 In 
his account of his work there, written the year ensuing, 
he mentions a sick man whom he was the means of 
restoring to health, and who in gratitude gave him a 
little slave brought from the Illinois two or three months 
before. This seems to be Marquette's first public men- 
tion of the name of this tribe, and this epistle may 
be called the opening chapter of his account of the 

It appears from it that he was already under orders 


from his Superior, Father Francois Le Mercier, to go 
and begin an Illinois mission, as soon as his place could 
be filled at La Pointe. It is evident that his heart was 
in the plan, and that he was most carefully collecting 
information about the tribe and its abiding place. He 
wrote that they were thirty days' journey by land by a 
very difficult road from La Pointe, whence, after passing 
through the territory of other nations, and traversing 
great prairies one could arrive at the country of the Illi- 
nois, who were principally gathered in two villages con- 
taining more than eight or nine thousand souls. They 
were well enough disposed to receive Christianity, and 
after Father Allouez exhorted them at La Pointe to 
adore one God, they began to abandon their false deities, 
which were the sun and the thunder; and they promised 
Marquette that they would embrace Christianity and do 
all that he required in their country. To this end, the 
Ottawas gave him a young man, who had recently come 
from the land of the Illinois, who taught him the rudi- 
ments of their language which he could scarcely compre- 
hend, but he hoped, by God's grace, to understand it, 
and be understood, if God by His goodness led him to 
that country. 51 

He learned, perhaps from the prisoners who had been 
so presented to him, that the Illinois always traveled by 
land; and he added, in unconscious prophecy of the 
harvests of the prairies, that they sowed Indian corn 
which they had in great abundance. They also had 
pumpkins as large as those of France and a plenty of 
roots and fruits. The hunting there was very fine for 
buffalo, bear, turkey, duck, bustard, wild pigeon and 
crane. During certain seasons of the year they left their 
villages, and all went in a body to their hunting grounds, 


the better to resist their enemies who came to attack 
them. They believed that if Marquette would go there, 
he would make peace everywhere ; they could always 
dwell in the same place, and only the young would go 
hunting. They told him that when they came to La 
Pointe they passed a large river, almost a league in 
width, which ran from north to south and so far, that 
they, as they did not use canoes, had never yet heard of 
its mouth. They only knew that very great nations 
dwelt upon it below their territories. 52 This doubtless 
was the Mississippi, and it is Father Marquette's first 
allusion to the mighty stream. As the Illinois crossed it 
on their way to the mission station on Lake Superior it 
would appear that at this period they had been obliged 
to withdraw into what is now Iowa, probably to escape 
their relentless enemies, the Iroquois. It is evident that 
Marquette's heart was strongly stirred by this account of 
the grand water way which might lead him to great con- 
quests for the church. He concluded that it could hardly 
empty in Virginia, and rather believed that its mouth 
was in California. He assured his Superior that if the 
Indians who promised to make him a canoe did not fail 
to keep their word, he would go into that river as soon as 
he was able, with a Frenchman and the young man given 
to him, who knew some of their languages and had an 
aptness for learning others. Then, rejoicing in the 
great future which opened before him, he pledged him- 
self to visit the peoples who inhabited those regions, in 
order to open the way to so many of the missionary 
priests, who had so long awaited this happiness, and by 
this discovery to obtain a complete knowledge of the 
southern or western sea. 

He was told also, that six or seven days' journey below 



the Illinois villages, there was another great river on 
which were very numerous nations who used canoes of 
wood. This was the Missouri, which also his party was 
destined to discover, and each new account only made 
him the more eager to commence his great undertaking, 
and to verify the tales which the Indians brought him. 
He said he could not write more until the next year, 
when his pen would tell what he himself saw, if God did 
him the grace to lead him to the land he longed for. 
But reluctant to abandon his theme, he resumed it to 
speak again of his favorite tribe, the Illinois, and to record 
with a certain pride that they were warriors, who made 
many of their enemies slaves. They formerly were at 
war with the Nadouessi or Sioux, but Marquette had 
made peace between them, in order that it might be easier 
for the Illinois to come to La Pointe, where he was going 
to await their coming, in order to accompany them to 
their country. 53 He sent a present to the Nadouessi with 
a message not to kill the French or the Indians with 
them, and that he was going that fall to the Illinois, 
whither they should leave the way open. They assented 
to his request and promised to come to La Pointe in the 
autumn to hold a council with the Illinois, and to speak 
with him. He uttered the pious wish that all these 
nations loved God as much as they feared the French, in 
which case Christianity would soon flourish. 54 This coun- 
cil-it seems, was never held, for war broke out between 
the Nadouessi and the Ottawas and Hurons, who deter- 
mined to abandon La Pointe du St. Esprit, and all 
the fields they had so long cultivated there. Father 
Marquette accompanied them in the summer of 167 1 in 
their flight to Michillimackinac, and remained in charge 
of the Mission of St. Ignace for the two years following, 


obliged for a time to abandon his favorite scheme of a 
mission to the Illinois. 55 

Jolliet arrived at St. Ignace December 8, 1672, with 
the orders of the Governor to make the expedition. Mar- 
quette, who joined him there, rejoiced that this happened 
to be the day of the feast of the Immaculate Conception 
of the Blessed Virgin, whom, he says, he had always 
invoked since he had been in that country to obtain of 
God the favor of being able to visit the nations on the 
Mississippi River. 56 He was enraptured at the good news 
as he saw his designs on the point of being accomplished, 
and himself in the happy necessity of exposing his life 
for the salvation of those nations, and particularly for the 
Illinois, who had, when he was at La Pointe du St. Esprit, 
very earnestly entreated him to carry the word of God 
to their country. 57 Jolliet and Marquette passed the win- 
ter in preparing their outfit and making a map, from 
information derived from the Indians, of the new country 
which lay before them, marking down the rivers on which 
they were to sail, the names of the nations and places 
through which they were to pass, the course of the great 
river, and what direction they should take when they 
reached it, adopting all possible precautions that their 
enterprise, if hazardous, should not be foolhardy. They 
embarked from St. Ignace May 17, 1673, m two bark 
canoes, Jolliet, Marquette and five other Frenchmen, 
with a stock of Indian corn and dried meat. The good 
father put their voyage under the protection of the 
Blessed Virgin Immaculate, promising her, that if she 
did them the grace to discover the great river, he would 
give it the name of Conception, and that he would also 
give that name to the first mission which he should 
establish among these new nations. 58 He loyally redeemed 


his promise, although this name which he gave to the 
great river is found only in his narrative and on his map. 
But the name of the Immaculate Conception which he 
gave to the mission among the Kaskaskias on the upper 
waters of the Illinois, was its designation as long as it 
remained there, and when it was removed to the banks 
of the Mississippi, this title was still retained. And to 
this day, in the little village of Kaskaskia, the oldest 
permanent settlement of white men within the limits of 
the State of Illinois, the church and parish bear the name 
of the Immaculate Conception, the perpetual reminder 
of the vow of Marquette with which he commenced this 
famous voyage. 

He tells us that their joy at being chosen for this expe- 
dition roused their courage and sweetened the labor of 
rowing from morning until night. They made their pad- 
dles ply merrily over a part of Lake Huron, and of Lake 
Michigan, then called the Lake of the Illinois, into what 
is now Green Bay. Marquette preached to the Menomi- 
nees on their river, and they warned him in vain against 
the perils of his route and the frightful monsters of the 
Great River who swallowed up men and canoes together. 
They visited the mission of St. Francois Xavier at the 
foot of the Bay, then passed up the Fox River to the town 
of the Mascoutens, situated upon an eminence from which 
the eye saw on every side prairies spreading away beyond 
its reach, interspersed with thickets or groves of lofty 
trees. This, he says, was the limit of the discoveries 
made by the French, for they had not passed beyond it, 59 
and to these people Father Allouez had preached. 
Immediately upon their arrival here, as Marquette re- 
cords, they called the chiefs of the tribe to an assembly at 
which Jolliet addressed them, stating that he was sent by 


the Governor of Canada to discover new countries and 
that Marquette was sent by the Almighty to illumine 
them with the light of the gospel. This clearly defines 
the relative positions and duties of the two men. The 
Mascoutens gave the party two Miami guides, who led 
them safely to the portage to a river emptying into the 
Mississippi, and helped them transport their canoes, after 
which they returned, leaving them alone in an unknown 
country in the hands of Providence. For seven days they 
floated down the broad Wisconsin, with its vine-clad 
islets, and fertile banks diversified with wood, prairie 
and hill, until on June 17, 1673, they safely entered the 
Mississippi with a joy which they could not express. 
Following its mighty current southward they came to the 
land of the buffalo, and having advanced more than sixty 
leagues since entering the river, they perceived footprints 
of men by the waterside, and a beaten path entering a 
beautiful prairie on the western shore/' 

Jolliet and Marquette, leaving their canoes in charge 
of their people, followed the path about two leagues when 
they discovered three Indian villages. Halting, they 
raised a cry at which the Indians marched out of their 
cabins, and seeing the strangers, deputed four old men 
to go and speak with them. The ambassadors approached 
slowly, two of them carrying ornamental tobacco pipes, 
which they raised occasionally towards the sun, and when 
near they stood still. Marquette, noticing that they 
wore goods of European manufacture, and considering 
their ceremonies to be friendly, asked who they were. 
They answered that they were Illinois, and in token of 
peace offered their pipes to smoke. These pipes for 
smoking, says Marquette, are called in that language 
calumets. This is probably the origin of the word in our 


language. They were welcomed at the door of the cabin 
in which they were to be received, by an old man, who 
said; "How beautiful, O Frenchman, is the sun when 
thou comest to visit us. All our village awaits thee, and 
thou shalt enter all our cabins in peace. ' ' And they 
heard from the throng of people about occasionally the 
words; "Well done, brothers, to visit us!" They were 
then invited to the village of the great sachem of all the 
Illinois where Marquette addressed those assembled, say- 
ing, that they came in peace to visit all the nations on the 
river, to make God known to them, to tell them that the 
great chief of the French had spread peace everywhere 
and had overcome the Iroquois, and to ask for all the 
information they had of the sea and of the nations on the 
route to it. Then the sachem spoke thus; "I thank thee, 
Blackgown, and thee, Frenchman," addressing Jolliet, 
"for taking so much pains to come and visit us; never 
has the earth been so beautiful, or the sun so bright as 
to-day; never has our river been so calm, or so free from 
rocks, which your canoes have removed as they passed ; 
never has our tobacco had so fine a flavor, or our corn 
appeared so beautiful as we behold it to-day. Here is 
my son that I give thee, that thou mayest know my heart. 
I pray thee to take pity on me and all my nation. Thou 
knowest the Great Spirit who has made us all; thou 
speakest to him, and hearest his word, ask him to give 
me life and health, and come and dwell with us that we 
may know him!" Then presenting them with a little 
slave and with a mysterious calumet to serve as their 
safeguard among the nations they had to pass, he begged 
them not to proceed further on account of the great dan- 
gers to which they exposed themselves. A high festival 
followed; they were laden with presents, and the next 


day took their leave, promising to return in four months. 
Marquette personally assured them that he would return 
the next year, to stay with them and instruct them. 
Digressing from his narrative to speak of these the most 
promising of all the tribes, he proudly adds, "to say Illi- 
nois is in their language to say 'the men,' as if other 
Indians compared to them were mere beasts. And it 
must be admitted that they have an air of humanity that 
we had not remarked in the other nations that we had 
seen on the way." This village of which he speaks he 
calls Peouarea, and on his map he places it and another 
named Moingwena on the west side of the Missisisippi and 
on the river now called the Des Moines. As they coasted 
the base of cliffs, frightful for their height and length, 
they saw two monsters painted on one of the rocks which 
startled them at first, and on which the boldest Indian 
dared not gaze long. "They are," he says, "large as a 
calf, with horns on the head like a deer, a fearful look, 
red eyes, bearded like a tiger, the face somewhat like a 
man's, the body covered with scales, and the tail so long 
that it twice makes the turn of the body, passing over the 
head and between the legs, and ending at last in a fish's 
tail. Green, red, and a kind of black, are the colors 
employed. On the whole these two monsters are so well 
painted that we could not believe any Indian to have 
been the designer, as good painters in France would find 
it hard to do as well ; besides this, they are so high up on 
the rock, that it is hard to get conveniently at them to 
paint them." 61 

As they were discoursing of these marvelous represen- 
tations, sailing gently down the beautiful still clear water 
of the upper Mississippi, suddenly the air was filled with 
the noise as of a rapid, like those with which they had 


become familiar upon the St. Lawrence, and they seemed 
about to fall into its foaming current. Then, as they 
rounded the point, whence the Mississippi, after flowing 
eastward for twenty miles along the rocky bluffs on the 
Illinois shore, which early explorers called the Ruined 
Castles, 62 resumes its southward way, they saw another 
mighty stream, the sound of whose pouring waters they 
had heard. From its mouth there came rushing a mass 
of large trees entire, with branches, real floating islands, 
so impetuously that they had seen nothing more frightful, 
and could not without great danger pass across its junc- 
tion with the Mississippi, and thenceforward the water 
was all muddy and could not get clear. This was their 
introduction to the great Missouri, which they called the 
Pekitanoiii. They learned from the Indians that it came 
from very far in the Northwest, and that from its head- 
waters another river could be reached which emptied into 
the sea, and they hoped by its means to make the discov- 
ery of a route to the Gulf of California. They judged 
now by the direction the Mississippi was taking that it 
had its mouth in the Gulf of Mexico ; and they followed 
its course, thankful for their escape from the terrors of 
the Missouri, and perhaps from those of the painted rocks 
as well. They floated on past the fine plateau, where 
almost a hundred years later the city of St. Louis was to be 
founded, and the sites on which, within the next thirty 
years, the little French villages of Cahokia and Kaskaskia 
were to spring up; and midway between them the lonely 
island opposite the spot on the river bank above which 
within the succeeding half century the flag of France was 
to fly over the walls of Fort Chartres. 

And soon they came to the place dreaded by the 
Indians, because they thought there was a manitou there, 


that is, a demon who devours all who pass, and of this it 
was that those had spoken who had wished to deter them 
from their enterprise. This dismal place which sent fear 
throughout the tribes, even to the dwellers by Lake Mich- 
igan, was the same of which they had been told by the 
Menominees and by the Illinois, who believed that there 
was a demon there who could be heard from afar, who 
stopped the passage and engulfed all who dared approach. 
Says Marquette, "the devil is this — a small bay full of 
rocks some twenty feet high, where the whole current of 
the river is whirled, and hurled back against that which 
follows; and checked by a neighboring island, the mass 
of water is forced through a narrow channel; all this is 
not done without a furious combat of the waters tumbling 
over each other, nor without a great roaring, which 
strikes terror into the Indians, who fear everything. ' ' G3 
The turn of the Mississippi around the headland of Grand 
Tower and the tall rock of that name rising from the bed 
of the river, so well known in the after days of emigrant 
and steamer travel, are the scenes which had so weird an 
early fame. 64 They did not present difficulties sufficient 
to prevent the passing of the travelers, who, after coast- 
ing the whole western boundary of what is now the State 
of Illinois, reached the river which the natives called the 
Ouaboukigou, that is, the Ohio, then bearing the name 
which ultimately became that by which its principal trib- 
utary, the Wabash, is known. 

Thence they continued to descend the Mississippi, see- 
ing less prairie land because both sides of the river were 
lined with lofty woods; and came to a warmer region, 
where thick groves of cane lined the banks, and mos- 
quitoes filled the air. They encountered a band of hos- 
tile Indians armed with bows, arrows, axes, war clubs 


and bucklers, prepared to attack them by land and by 
water in large wooden canoes. In vain Marquette showed 
the calumet and made gestures to explain that they had 
not come as enemies. They were about to pierce them 
from all sides with their arrows when the old men, doubt- 
less at the sight of the calumet, which at a distance they 
had not distinctly recognized, restrained the ardor of their 
youth and brought them to the shore in peace. These 
people were of the tribe of the Mitchigameas, who sub- 
sequently became part of the Illinois nation. The trav- 
elers finding there, and lower down the river, an 
occasional person who spoke the Illinois tongue, arrived 
at the mouth of the Arkansas River, at the end of a 
month's navigation down the Mississippi. Being satisfied 
from the native accounts and their own observations that 
the great river flowed into the Gulf of Mexico, and fear- 
ing that they might fall into the hands of the Spaniards 
if they reached the sea, they decided to return. Ascend- 
ing the Mississippi, and with great difficulty stemming 
its current, they left it about the thirty-eighth parallel 
of latitude, and entered another river, which greatly 
shortened their route, and brought them on their way 
with little trouble. And they "had seen nothing like this 
river," says the good Father, 65 "for the fertility of the 
land, its prairies, woods, wild cattle, stag, deer, wildcats, 
bustards, swans, ducks, parrots, and even beaver; its 
many little lakes and rivers." This river was the Illi- 
nois, and at last for a certainty the very land of the Illi- 
nois had been reached. This account is the first printed 
description of its beauties and characteristics, its wealth 
of fertile soil and living creatures, by an eye-witness. 
And thus Father Marquette becomes its first historian. 
Somewhere upon their return voyage the travelers met 


again the Indians of the Peoria village, and spent three 
days in their cabins; Marquette announcing the faith to 
them, and baptizing a dying child which was brought to 
him on the water's edge as they were embarking. He 
felt that if the voyage had caused the salvation of that 
innocent soul, all his fatigue was well repaid. At what 
point they fell in with these roving tribesmen we cannot 
be certain, but possibly not far from the modern town 
which bears their name, and upon the banks of the Illi- 
nois. Pursuing their journey upon this broad, deep and 
gentle stream, Jolliet and Marquette found an Illinois 
town called Kaskaskia, composed of seventy-four cabins, 
which was situated probably not far from the eminence 
now called Buffalo Rock. The natives received them 
well, and persuaded them to promise to return and 
instruct them. One of the chiefs with his young men 
escorted them by a portage half a league in length, 
doubtless between the streams now known as the Des 
Plaines and the Chicago, to the lake of the Illinois, since 
called Lake Michigan. And Jolliet, Marquette and their 
party said farewell to their kindly Indian hosts on the 
lonely prairie, which was to be the site of the city of 
Chicago; and went on their way, in the mild autumn 
weather, paddling their canoes northward along the 
lake, and in the last days of September arrived again at 
the mission of St. Francois Xavier on Green Bay. It was 
a wonderful four months' journey, but full of hardships, 
and it is not strange that Marquette should have been 
obliged to remain at this haven of rest to recruit his 
exhausted strength, for more than a year. 86 Jolliet also 
stayed at the West until the season after his return from 
the Mississippi, 67 and it has been suggested that he spent 
the following winter upon the upper waters of the Illi- 


nois. 68 However this may be, it is certain that at some 
period after leaving the mission at Green Bay he visited 
that at Sault Ste. Marie, and probably while there pre- 
pared his official map and report, as he left copies with 
the priests at that station. 69 His map was drawn with 
great care, and his report was very full, embracing all 
that was curious and interesting in that famous voyage. 70 
In the summer of 1674 Jolliet set out for Quebec to 
present in person to the Governor of Canada the formal 
documents which would entitle him as the commander of 
the expedition to the honor of the discovery of the mighty 
Mississippi and of the long-sought land of the Illinois. 
It might seem that he followed the route of the Detroit 
River and Lakes Erie and Ontario, and so down the St. 
Lawrence; since Frontenac, writing to Colbert of Jolliet's 
return, says he found a navigation so easy that a person 
can go from Lake Ontario and Fort Frontenac in a bark 
to the Gulf of Mexico, there being only one portage, half 
a league in length, where Lake Ontario communicates 
with Lake Erie; 71 and yet, as Jolliet himself speaks of 
passing forty-two rapids on his return voyage, this de- 
scription better suits the route by Lake Nepissing and the 
Ottawa River. 72 All went well with him until he was 
within a quarter of an hour's journey of Montreal, and 
in sight of the very houses he had left almost two years 
before to commence his expedition, when the good for- 
tune which had so far attended his way suddenly deserted 
him. His canoe upset in the foaming billows of the 
Sault St. Louis; his box of papers, containing his map 
and report, was lost; he himself was rescued with diffi- 
culty by some fishermen after he had been four hours in 
the water and had lost consciousness, and two of his com- 
panions were drowned. One of these was the slave pre- 


sented to him by the great chief of the Illinois, a little 
Indian lad, ten years of age, whom he deeply regretted, 
describing him as of a good disposition, full of spirit, 
industrious and obedient, and already beginning to read 
and write the French language. And all this happened 
to him, he says, after he had avoided perils from sav- 
ages, had passed forty-two rapids, and was about to land 
full of joy at the success of so long and difficult an enter- 
prise, and when all danger seemed over. 73 

To this accident it is due that Marquette's report to the 
Jesuits becomes the history of the expedition, although 
this was never the expectation of any of those concerned. 
In his retirement by the quiet shores of Green Bay, while 
slowly regaining his health, Marquette, at the request of 
his Superior, prepared and sent to Quebec copies of his 
journal concerning the Mississippi voyage,' 4 and doubtless 
one of them was accompanied by a map drawn by him. 
Father Claude Dablon, then Rector of the College of 
Quebec, made use of one of these copies in preparing his 
"Relation of the Discovery of the South Sea made by 
the rivers of New France," sent from Quebec August i, 
1674, and transmitted a transcript of Marquette's man- 
uscript to Paris. 75 This came to the hands of the pub- 
lisher Thevenot, by whom it was made, with some 
change and abbreviation, a part of his Rescueil de Voy- 
ages, printed in 1681.™ To it was annexed a map drawn 
by the Jesuits about that time, to which Marquette's 
name was attached, and which passed as his work for 
almost two centuries, although a very inaccurate per- 
formance and inconsistent with his narrative. 77 For 
many years the genuine map and one copy of Marquette's 
account, prepared for publication in 1678 by Dablon, who 
wrote the introduction, lay unnoticed in the archives of 


the Jesuit College at Quebec. When that institution was 
closed, the last survivor of the Society of Jesus in Canada 
deposited these precious papers with the nuns of the 
Quebec Hotel Dieu, in whose hands they remained from 
shortly before 1800 to 1844. They were in this year pre- 
sented to the Reverend Felix Martin, one of the Jesuit 
Fathers then visiting Canada, and were subsequently 
transferred to the College Ste. Marie at Montreal. Here 
they were found by John Gilmary Shea, who translated 
and published the narrative in 1852 in his "Discovery of 
the Mississippi," with a facsimile of Marquette's own 
map, which speedily superseded the spurious drawing so 
long ascribed to him. This copy of the narrative, and 
the original map in the handwriting of Father Marquette, 
are still preserved in the archives of the College Ste. 
Marie. 78 

The publication of Thevenot's work gave the first 
information to the world of these wonderful discoveries, 
and very naturally Marquette's name was most promi- 
nently associated with them. Little thought had he, 
however, of such earthly fame, and he went to his noble 
death within a twelvemonth after his journal was written, 
and six years before it saw the light. Jolliet was less 
fortunate in any public mention of his part in this great 
enterprise. As soon as he had recovered from his dis- 
aster he prepared from memory a brief account and made 
a map, and sent them to Count Frontenac. These the 
Governor, in November, 1674, transmitted to the Min- 
ister Colbert, informing him that Jolliet had discovered 
some very fine countries and a grand river, running from 
north to south, as large as the St. Lawrence opposite 
Quebec, and had very well acquitted himself, and, refer- 
ring to the loss of the minutes and journals, he promised 


further particulars from the copies left by Jolliet with the 
Fathers at the Sault Ste. Marie, which would be for- 
warded the next year. This dispatch, however, slum- 
bered in the French archives until the middle of this 
century, when it was translated and printed among the 
documents relating to the colonial history of New York, 
but without the account or the map. 79 In October, 1674, 
Jolliet addressed a letter to Frontenac, in which he spoke 
of the loss of his papers and of some curiosities from 
those lands so far away, and said that but for his ship- 
wreck his Highness would have received a sufficiently 
interesting account of his journey, which he briefly 
described. He mentioned the natives, the fruits, the 
birds and the animals, all found in a country more beau- 
tiful than France; where there are prairies leagues in 
width, surrounded by forests as grand as the prairies. 
This letter was found in the Seminaire de St. Sulpice at 
Paris, and printed in 1872. 80 The details of Jolliet's voy- 
age and the relation of his discovery, both of which seem 
to be derived from his oral accounts were disinterred by 
Margry among the public documents at Paris, and first 
made known in i879. 81 These are much fuller than the 
letter, giving substantially the same account as Mar- 
quette's, and the relation contains an extract from the 
lost journal, apparently dictated by Jolliet, and evidently 
contemplates the recovery of an entire copy which will, 
it says, content the curious and satisfy the geographers. 88 
These two papers are thought to be different versions of 
Jolliet's report to Frontenac, 83 which thus became in sub- 
stance known so many years after its preparation. 

About the same time a map was found in France and 
edited by Gabriel Gravier which is with reason believed 
to be that which originally accompanied this report. 


Thus we probably have the substitutes furnished by 
Jolliet for that report and map which were intended to 
be the official record of the remarkable voyage on which 
he was the commander, and in connection with which 
his fame should surpass that of Marquette. On this 
recently discovered map is engraved a tablet containing 
another letter from Jolliet to Frontenac informing him 
that he had given to the great river, beyond the lakes, the 
designation of Buade, the family name of Frontenac, and 
dwelling in glowing terms upon the prairies, the forests, 
the fruits, the birds, and the fish of the fair land more 
beautiful than France, which he had discovered. 8 * Two 
or three other maps ascribed to Jolliet are in various col- 
lections, 85 but these and the few documents which we have 
mentioned, comprise everything known to be from his 
hand relating to the great discovery, and these all have 
been found during the present century. They do not 
take the place of that very exact chart and very careful 
history which were lost in the river St. Lawrence ; and it 
is permitted still to hope that the copies which were left 
at the Mission of Sault Ste. Marie 86 have not perished like 
the originals, but may appear some day as unexpectedly 
as did those of Marquette but forty years ago, to rejoice 
the hearts of all who are interested in the history of the 
Great West, and to give new honor to the name of Louis 

While Jolliet returned to the settlements on the St. 
Lawrence, Marquette remained at the Mission of 
St. Francois Xavier, on account of his ill health, until 
the fall of 1674. Then receiving orders to return to the 
Illinois region to establish a mission, he set out for that 
purpose on the 25th of October of that year 87 accom- 
panied by two Frenchmen, one of whom had been with 


him on his former voyage. 88 They were named Jacques 

and Pierre Porteret, the latter a member of the 

party of St. Lusson at Sault Ste. Marie in 1671. 89 They 
followed the eastern shore of Green Bay to Sturgeon 
Inlet, where they overtook five canoes of Pottawattamies 
and four of Illinois, who had started before them to go to 
the Kaskaskia village, with whom they journeyed onward. 
In Marquette's journal of this voyage the name 
"Chicago" probably first appears in the term "Chacha- 
gou-essiou," the title of one of these Illinois Indians, who 
was, he says, much esteemed in his nation, partly because 
he concerned himself with trade. The friendly Illinois 
urged Marquette not to separate from them because he 
might need them, and because the Indians knew the 
water navigation better than the French ; and the Illinois 
women helped the white men to make the difficult port- 
age which brought them to the western shore of Lake 
Michigan. Tkis they coasted for more than a month, 
delayed at times by wind and storm, and by the snow 
which began to fall in November. In the early part of 
the following month they arrived at the Chicago River, 
called by them the Portage, and encamped at its mouth. 
The stream was frozen half a foot thick, and there was 
more snow on its shores than they had yet met with, 
but game was abundant. During their stay there, 
Pierre and Jacques killed three buffalo and four deer and 
turkeys in their very camp and partridges close by. An 
ice bound river and a snow clad prairie, crossed by tracks 
of wild animals and birds, compose the first known sketch 
of the site of the great city of the West. 

A little later they moved to a point near the portage to 
the Des Plaines, and Marquette's returning illness pre- 
venting his going further, they built a cabin and resolved 


to winter there. The Illinois Indians left them to go to 
their own people, and Marquette sent a message that he 
would be at their village in the spring. Eighteen leagues 
beyond in a beautiful hunting country two Frenchmen 
were living who, in expectation of Marquette's coming, 
had laid up provisions and prepared a cabin for him. 
One of these was a famous coureur de bois, named Pierre 
Moreau, styled La Taupine or the Tawny, who was once 
a soldier in the garrison at Quebec, and in 167 1 was at 
Sault Ste. Marie when St. Liisson took possession of 
the country. He was the son of Abraham Moreau and 
Marguerite Nauret of St. Eric de Masa, of Xaintes, and 
born in 1639, probably at the place last named. A few 
years after Marquette met him the Intendant Du Ches- 
neau wrote the Minister Seignelay, complaining of the 
disobedience of the coureurs de bois to the laws regulating 
the Indian trade, and cited the case of La Taupine, who 
set out for the Ottawas in 1678, and traded in two days, 
in one single village of this tribe, nearly nine hundred 
beaver skins. The Intendant ordered him to be arrested, 
but released him en his presenting a license permitting 
him and two comrades to go to the Ottawas to execute the 
secret orders of Count Frontenac, whom Du Chesneau 
alleged to be interested with Moreau. Hardly had he 
been set at liberty when the Town Major of Quebec came 
at the head of some soldiers to force the prison, if neces- 
sary, bearing written orders from Frontenac to set Pierre 
Moreau, his bearer of dispatches to Quebec, at liberty 
forthwith, and to employ every means for that purpose. 
This is our latest information concerning the doings of 
this bold wood-ranger, and we only know that he sur- 
vived the perils of the forest and the wrath of the Inten- 
dant, and died at Quebec August 24, 1727, at the good old 


age of eighty-eight years, having had a family of thirteen 
children. 90 His comrade was called the Surgeon, whether 
in truth or in jest we cannot tell ; and this hardy pair 
seem to have found their way to the land of the Illi- 
nois, and established themselves as traders subsequent to 
Jolliet and Marquette's visit of the year before. It is 
possible they were here even earlier, since, as a rule, the 
fur traders preceded the government explorer and the 
missionary in the discovery of the West, but seldom left 
any record. As soon as they heard of the good Father's 
illness, the Surgeon came with supplies and rendered 
every assistance in his power. 

Passing Indians also gave aid, and towards the end of 
the winter Marquette's disease was checked; he began to 
recover strength, and by the last of March was able to 
resume his journey. 91 He arrived at the Kaskaskia vil- 
lage on Monday, the 8th of April, and was received there 
as an angel from heaven. A great council was held on a 
beautiful prairie near the town, probably on the north 
bank of the Illinois River. Five hundred chiefs and old 
men were seated in a circle around the priest, while the 
youth stood without, to the number of fifteen hundred, 
besides the many women and children. Marquette 
addressed them, and on Thursday said mass, and three 
days after, on Easter Sunday, celebrated that rite a sec- 
ond time; and it is said, by these two sacrifices, the first 
ever offered there to God, he took possession of that land 
in the name of Jesus Christ, and gave the mission the 
name of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed 

His malady soon obliged him to leave, but all these 
people earnestly besought him to return as soon as possi- 
ble, and he gave his word that either he or some of the 


Fathers would return to continue the mission so happily- 
begun. This promise he repeated again and again on 
parting with them to begin his journey, and he set out 
amid such marks of friendship from these good people 
that they escorted him with pomp more than thirty 
leagues of the way, contending with one another for the 
honor of carrying his little bag. It is probable that they 
made known to him the route by the Kankakee and St. 
Joseph Rivers, since he returned by these streams along 
the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. 92 His failing strength 
rendered him so helpless that he had to be handled and 
carried like a child, and his death rapidly drew near. He 
pointed out the place of his last repose on a rising ground 
at the mouth of a river, and died as he had lived, hero- 
ically. His faithful followers buried him on the spot he 
had chosen, and raised a large cross near it to serve as a 
mark for passers by. 93 So passed away Jacques Mar- 
quette at the early age of thirty-eight years, on Saturday 
the 18th of May, 1675. 94 In the following spring a band 
of Kiskakon Indians, whom Marquette had instructed 
when stationed at La Pointe, visited his burial place, and 
resolved to bring his remains to the mission of St. Ignace 
at Michillimackinac, where their tribe was then gathered. 
This was done with all respect, and a fleet of thirty 
canoes acted as a convoy to that which bore the precious 
burden. The missionaries received the body reverently, 
and all funeral honors having been paid, they deposited 
it in a little vault in the middle of the church, there to 
repose as the guardian angel of the Ottawa Missions. 95 

Marquette's lovely character endeared him to all who 
knew him, his lofty zeal and rare self-sacrifice made him 
an example for all time, and his participation in the fa- 
mous Mississippi voyage associated him with one of the 


world's great discoveries. Illinois may well be proud 
that his name appears in her early annals. There is no 
memento of him so interesting and so pathetic as his 
unfinished letter describing his last visit to the land of 
the Illinois. It is our authority for that expedition almost 
to the time of his arrival at the Kaskaskia village, after 
which he had no strength to write more, and the story of 
his last days is that told by his faithful companions. This 
letter, all in his own handwriting, which closes abruptly 
on April 6, 1675, is still preserved, with his map and 
the copy of the narrative of his first voyage, at the Col- 
lege of Ste. Marie in Montreal, where it was found by 
Mr. Shea. The larger portion of it was written in Mar- 
quette's winter camp at the bleak portage, within the 
present limits of Chicago, and it would be very fitting 
should it find its final abiding place in the city of whose 
earliest history it is a priceless and unique memorial. 

Jolliet, after his return to Quebec, resumed his resi- 
dence there and became one of the leading citizens of the 
place. On the 7th of October, 1675, he wedded Claire 
Francoise Bissot, daughter of a wealthy Canadian mer- 
chant, in the same parish church which had witnessed the 
nuptials of his parents and his own baptism. 90 Of this 
marriage were born seven children, Louis, Marie Char- 
lotte, Francois, Jean Baptiste, Claire, Anne and Marie 
Genevieve. 97 We find occasional references to Jolliet in 
the public records of the time, but our knowledge of his 
later life is limited. Four years after his Mississippi voy- 
age, Count Frontenac was engaged in one of his periodic 
quarrels with the Jesuits, who, knowing that the Gov- 
ernor favored La Salle's request for a concession of the 
trade of Lakes Erie and Michigan, concerted an opposing 
scheme. At their instigation, as the Governor alleges in 


his correspondence with Colbert, Jolliet and an associate 
named Lebert applied for a similar concession, and Jol- 
liet also asked for permission to establish himself with 
twenty men in the land of the Illinois. It would seem 
that no one was better entitled to this privilege than he, 
but the King, unmindful of his services, refused to grant 
it, for the alleged reason that Canada should be settled 
before thinking of other regions ; and the new Intendant, 
Du Chesneau, Talon's successor, was cautioned that this 
must be the rule in regard to all future discoveries. We 
shall see how well it was observed. 98 

Again we catch a glimpse of Jolliet in the fall of 1678. 
By royal command a council was then held at the castle 
of St. Louis in Quebec, to consider the subject of the 
traffic in brandy with the Indians. The assembly was 
composed of the principal officers and ten of the oldest 
and most prominent inhabitants of the colony, among 
whose names we find that of Jolliet. Their advice was 
asked in turn and some favored the traffic, but Jolliet 
strongly denounced it, and held that in the woods and 
among the savages it should be prohibited upon pain of 
death." His father-in-law, Francois Bissot, was engaged 
in trade with the northern Indians until his death in 
July, 1678. Jolliet was appointed guardian of his minor 
children. The settlement of Bissot's affairs, perhaps, 
together with the spirit of exploration, led Jolliet to visit 
the Hudson's Bay region in 1679, by way of the Saguenay 
River. He found three English forts on the bay, occu- 
pied by about sixty men, who had also an armed vessel of 
twelve guns and several small trading craft. The Eng- 
lish held out great inducements to join them, but he 
declined and returned by the following spring to Quebec, 
where he reported that, unless these formidable rivals 


were dispossessed, the trade of Canada would be ruined. 
In consequence of this report some of the principal mer- 
chants of the colony formed a company to compete with 
the English in the trade of Hudson's Bay. In the year 
of this journey, and probably in consequence thereof, 
the government granted to Jolliet the group of the Min- 
gan Islands, which stretch along the north shore of the 
Gulf of St. Lawrence. From these his son, who suc- 
ceeded him in their proprietorship, took his designation, 
and was known as Jean Baptiste Jolliet de Mingan. 100 

In 1680 the government presented to Jolliet the seig- 
nory of the great island of Anticosti, lying in the Gulf of 
St. Lawrence, in further recognition of his eminent serv- 
ices. The deed of concession from Jacques Du Chesneau, 
Intendant, expressly recites that it is made in considera- 
tion of the discovery which the said Sieur Jolliet has 
made of the land of the Illinois, of which he has furnished 
a map, since transmitted to Monseigneur Colbert, as well 
as for the voyage which he has just made to Hudson's 
Bay in the interest and to the advantage of the King's 
revenue. In the following year he made his home upon 
this island with his wife and six servants, and built a fort 
and a dwelling for his family and houses for trade. He 
engaged in fisheries, and being a skillful navigator and 
surveyor, made a chart of the River St. Lawrence. In 
1689 he was again in the employment of the government, 
rendering valuable services in the West. The next year 
Sir William Phips, on his way with an English fleet to 
attack Quebec, made a descent on Jolliet's establishment 
at Anticosti, burned his buildings and took prisoners his 
wife and his mother-in-law. In 1694 he explored the 
coast of Labrador in behalf of a company formed for the 
seal and whale fishery. His journals of this voyage show 


him to have been a man of close and intelligent observa- 
tion and of considerable mathematical acquirements. On 
his reutrn Frontenac made him royal pilot for the St. 
Lawrence, and about the same time he succeeded Fran- 
quelin as government hydrographer at Quebec. Three 
years later, on April 30, 1697, a seignory was granted him 
on the banks of the River Chaudiere, which is still called 
by his name. He died in the year 1700, between May 
and October, probably on the island of Anticosti, where 
he went each year to trade in peltries. 101 

Jolliet is not forgotten in Canada. The esteemed fam- 
ilies of Tache\ Taschereau, D'Eschambault and Rigaud 
de Vaudreuil, among whom have been two archbishops 
of the Roman Catholic Church, are proud to trace their 
lineage to him. His descendants of the same name con- 
tinue to reside in his native land, where one of them, the 
Hon. Barthelemy Jolliet, founded a town, which, like the 
county in which it is situated, takes its appellation from 
his distinguished ancestor. 102 One of the principal cities 
of the State of Illinois also bears his name. But he 
has not yet received the full measure of honor which is 
his due. 

Jolliet was the foremost explorer of the Great West, 
and when his very busy and useful life ended, there 
passed away one whose character and attainments and 
public services made him a man of high distinction in his 
own day. By a curious fate every record of his career 
was buried in oblivion for more than a century after his 
death, and such as are known have only slowly come to 
light within the last sixty years. He was thus for a long 
period of time deprived of the fame which rightfully 
belonged to him for his greatest undertaking. Popular 
error assigned the leadership of the expedition which dis- 


covered the Upper Mississippi and the Illinois Valley to 
Marquette, who never held or claimed it. Every relia- 
ble authority demonstrates the mistake, and yet the delu- 
sion continues. But as Marquette himself says that 
Jolliet was sent to discover new countries, and he to 
preach the gospel; as Count Frontenac reports to the 
home authorities that Talon selected Jolliet to make the 
discovery; as Father Dablon confirms this statement; 
and as the Canadian authorities gave rewards to Jolliet 
alone and as the sole discoverer, 103 we may safely conclude 
that to him belongs the honor of the achievement. He 
actually accomplished that of which Champlain and 
Nicolet and Radisson were the heralds, and, historically 
speaking, was the first to see the wonderful region of the 
prairies. At the head of the roll of those indissolubly 
associated with the land of the Illinois, who have trod 
its soil, must forever stand the name of Louis Jolliet. 1 " 4 

II. Exploration 

Marquette's promise that some one of the brethren 
should follow him at the Illinois mission 1 did not long 
remain unfulfilled. His predecessor at the mission on 
Lake Superior, 2 Father Claude Allouez, was his successor 
at that of Kaskaskia on the upper Illinois. In that noble 
band of Catholic priests who braved every hardship to 
plant their faith among the western savages, Allouez was 
conspicuous. Many pages of the Jesuit relations bear 
witness to the endurance, devotion and zeal which won 
for him the title of Apostle of all the nations of the Otta- 
was. 3 Born at St. Didier in France in 1613, he studied 
at the college of the Jesuits in Le Puy, where he and his 


elder brother joined the order. At Toulouse he passed 
his novitiate, and obtained from his provincial superior, 
by earnest supplication, leave to go to the missions of 
New France, which permission he regarded as a special 
mark of divine favor. Embarking in the same ship 
with M. d'Argenson, Governor of Canada, they were 
more than a year on the way, the vessel being driven into 
one of the ports of Ireland by stress of weather and 
obliged to return to France. They only reached their 
destination on July 11, 1658.* Having served for a time 
as superior at Three Rivers, and applied himself dili- 
gently to the study of the native tongues, Allouez com- 
menced his mission, as he says, with one Iroquois whom 
he found wounded and a prisoner at Montreal, and per- 
suaded to pass his last three days of life as a good Chris- 
tian. 5 In 1665 he accompanied a band of barbarian 
Ottawas on their return from the settlements to their 
distant homes in the wilds of Lake Superior, that he 
might make Christianity known in that vast region. 6 
Full two years passed before any word came from him, 
and he had been given up for lost 7 by his brethren at 
Quebec, when their mourning was turned to joy by the 
news of his safety and the receipt of his graphic journal 
of his wondrous experience. From this it appeared that 
after suffering incredible privations on his perilous jour- 
ney with only Indian companions, and gross ill treatment 
at their hands, he had at length arrived at the Sault Ste. 
Marie. From this point he had explored the whole south 
shore of Lake Superior in his canoe, instituted the Mis- 
sion of the Holy Ghost at La Pointe, visited the Nipis- 
sings on a lake north of Superior, and found consolation 
for all his trials in the thought that he had carried the 
cross to more than twenty heathen tribes, among whom 


some good Christians would thereafter shine like stars in 
the black night of infidelity. 8 

In the summer of 1667 he returned to Quebec for aid in 
this great field, and remaining but two days, 9 embarked 
again for Lake Superior with Father Louis Nicolas and a 
lay brother, and resumed his noble labor at La Pointe. 10 
Two years later he made once more the long and weary 
journey to Quebec to put into Governor Courcelle's hands 
some Iroquois prisoners, whom Allouez himself had ran- 
somed from the Ottawas, and to demand from his order 
more soldiers of the cross for his grand campaign. 11 He 
returned with Father Claude Dablon, who was appointed 
Superior of the Western Mission, and Jacques Marquette 
soon followed and took up the work at La Pointe. 
Allouez went to the Lake of the Illinois, now Lake Mich- 
igan, whose present name appears for the first time in 
his journal under the form of Machihiganing, and 
founded at La Baye des Puans, the present Green Bay, 
the Mission of St. Frangois Xavier in December, 1669. 
The next spring he journeyed among the tribes on the 
Fox and Wisconsin Rivers, where the villages of Allouez 
and Alloa still commemorate his name. 12 In the follow- 
ing September he returned from a trip to Sault Ste. 
Marie with Dablon, and they two ascended the Fox River 
to the country of the Fire Nation, or Mascoutens. At 
the Kakaling rapid on their way, they came upon an idol 
of rock shaped like a man, decorated and worshiped by 
the savages. The sturdy priests regarded this as a visible 
sign of the great adversary, and hurled it to the bottom 
of the river to be seen no more. 13 These visits led to the 
establishment of the missions of St. James among the 
Mascoutens, whose village was near the site of Berlin, Wis- 
consin and of St. Mark among the Foxes on Wolf River. 14 


In 167 1 Allouez was summoned to Sault Ste. Marie, to 
attend the formal taking possession of the country for 
France by St. Lusson, and his name appears among the 
official witnesses of that imposing ceremony. 15 On this 
occasion he made an address to the awe-stricken natives, 
being selected, says the chronicler, because his knowl- 
edge of their language and customs would enable him to 
give them an idea of the grandeur of that incomparable 
monarch, Louis the Fourteenth. Allouez justified his 
selection by a panegyric upon his sovereign, which was 
received by the assembled warriors with admiration and 
surprise that there could be a man upon earth so great, so 
rich and so powerful as the King of France. 16 The mis- 
sionary returned to his Wisconsin field, raised a lofty 
cross at the Fox village as a sign that he took pos- 
session of the lands of the infidels in the name of Jesus 
Christ, and looked forward in hope to the spread of his 
faith even to the famous river named Mississippi, and 
perchance as far as the South Sea. 17 Hence he was sum- 
moned to the Illinois Mission to fill the vacancy made by 
the death of Marquette, and responded like a soldier tak- 
ing the place of a comrade fallen in battle. 18 In the bark 
huts of La Pointe, and by the rapids of Sainte Marie, 
Allouez and Marquette had planned and prayed for this 
mission in the land of the Illinois, and it was very fitting 
that one should succeed the other there. 

Allouez embarked from St. Francois Xavier in Octo- 
ber, 1676, with two companions in a canoe, intending to 
winter with the Illinois. Soon the ice which formed early 
in the season prevented their progress, and they were 
delayed until February. Then fitting their little craft 
with sails, they skimmed the frozen surface of La Baye 
des Puans in this improvised ice boar, made the portage 


of a league and a half from the very deep bay since 
named Sturgeon, and on the eve of St. Joseph, the patron 
of all Canada, found themselves on the waters of Lake 
Michigan. They gave it the name of that great saint, 
and resolved thenceforth to call it Lake St. Joseph, but 
the white man's baptism proved ineffectual, and never 
supplanted the red man's title. They advanced, coast- 
ing along vast prairies stretching away beyond their 
sight, occasionally seeing trees standing in such regular 
order that they seemed to have been planted to form 
shady alleys, and near these, little streams and herds of 
deer feeding quietly on the young grass. As the good 
priest gazed at the shores of the long-looked- for land, he 
tells us that he often said, "Benedicite Opera Domini 
Domino." In April, 1677, the party entered at last "the 
river which leads to the Illinois," undoubtedly the 
stream now flowing through Chicago. Upon the site of 
this city they met eighty Indians of the country, whose 
chief came towards them, with a firebrand in one hand 
and in the other a feathered calumet, in which he lit the 
tobacco and presented the pipe of peace to the lips of 
Allouez, who was obliged to pretend to smoke. The 
chief led him to his wigwam, gave him the place of 
honor, and begged him to go to the village of this band, 
which apparently was at some distance from the mouth 
of the river, and probably near the portage where Mar- 
quette had passed the winter of 1675. 19 Allouez, consent- 
ing, remained with them a little time, and then pushed 
on to his goal at Kaskaskia, the great town of the Illi- 
nois, then situated about four miles below the present 
city of Ottawa on the Illinois River, 20 which he reached on 
April 27th, and entered the cabin in which Marquette 
had lodged. Eight tribes were now gathered here, who 


received the missionaries' instructions with favor and 
looked on reverently, while on the 3d of May, the feast 
of the Holy Cross, he erected in the midst of the town a 
cross twenty-five feet high to take possession of these 
tribes also in the name of Jesus Christ. Allouez had 
made this journey only to acquire the necessary informa- 
tion for the perfect establishment of the mission, and 
soon returned to La Baye des Puans, leaving- the Illinois 
eager to see him again. 21 

The following year he came among them prepared for 
a two years' stay, and entered zealously upon the work of 
the conversion of these tribes. But, in 1679, he retired 
to his Wisconsin mission upon hearing of the approach 
of La Salle, who believed that the Jesuits were unfriendly 
to him, and that Allouez in particular had sought to 
defeat his plans. 22 This state of things illustrates the 
change which was already occurring in this newly- found 
land. The era of the discoverer and the missionary was 
giving place to that of the explorer and the colonist, 
whose prototype was La Salle. 

The great man who now appears upon the scene was 
born in Rouen, the ancient capital of Normandy. A 
parish register there preserved records the christening 
of Robert Cavelier on the 22d day of November, 1643, in 
the church of Saint Herbland, which once stood within a 
stone's throw of the noble cathedral of that venerable 
city. 23 It is supposed that his family owned a landed 
estate called La Salle, and that from this the youth took 
the name which was to supersede that given him in bap- 
tism. 21 His full signature was Robert Rene Cavelier, 
Sieur de La Salle, but he dropped one appellation after 
another until he used only the title by which he will be 
forever known, and signed himself simply De La Salle. 25 


At the age of twenty-three he came to Canada and 
obtained the grant of a seignory on the island of Montreal 
at the place afterwards called Lachine. Here he heard 
the Indian tales of a mighty river far to the westward, and 
dreamed of a waterway to China, and hence he embarked 
in July, 1669, on his first voyage to the West, with two 
priests, De Galinee and De Casson, from whom he parted 
company at the west end of Lake Ontario. 2 ' During the 
next two years La Salle was incessantly traversing the 
wilderness, sometimes with Frenchmen, sometimes with 
Indians only, and sometimes alone, "with no other 
guide" says one who knew him well, "than a compass 
and his own genius." It is quite certain that in this 
period he discovered the Ohio and followed it to the 
rapids at the site of Louisville. It is claimed that he 
discovered the Illinois River also, and was the first of 
white men to visit the place where Chicago stands, but 
the evidence does not warrant this assumption. 211 At all 
events these explorations revealed to La Salle the 
character of the country south of the Great Lakes, and it 
is possible that while engaged in them he reached some 
portion of the prairie land. In his memorial presented 
to the king in 1678, when he had himself made no western 
journey, except in these years, La Salle speaks like an 
eye-witness of the region to the west and south of the 
Lake of the Illinois. He describes it as "so beautiful 
and so fertile, so free from forests, and so well supplied 
with prairies, brooks and rivers, so abounding in fish, 
game and venison, that one can find there in plenty and 
with little trouble all that is needed for the support of 
flourishing colonies there." 28 These colonies he resolved 
to plant in that fair land and to win for France a new 



The Jesuits opposed La Salle because they wished to 
be both church and state among the natives, and the 
Canadian merchants were hostile because they desired 
a monopoly of trade. But Count Frontenac, Governor 
General of Canada, was his friend, and a visit to France 
in 1675 secured his grant of a seignory at the entrance 
to Lake Frontenac, now Ontario. 29 Here La Salle 
built a stone fort, armed it with cannon and named it 
after his patron Fort Frontenac. 30 From this point it is. 
probable that in 1677 he sent a party to obtain informa- 
tion concerning the region west of Lake Michigan, under 
the leadership of Michel Ako, a native of Poitou. This 
hardy explorer visited the Illinois country in the spring 
of 1678, and thus early must his name be associated with 
the region in which he was in later years to find a home. 81 
La Salle made his new post the base of his operations, 
but for their successful prosecution he required further 
royal authority. Going again to France in the autumn 
of 1677, he obtained from Louis XIV authority to make 
discoveries and to build forts in the western parts of New 
France, through which it was believed a way might be 
found to Mexico. He returned in September, 1678, with 
a small party enlisted in his service, and among them 
was one man who was equal to an army. 88 Henri de 
Tonty, born in Italy, but long a soldier of France, 
became La Salle's most devoted friend and most trusted 
lieutenant, and deserves to have a place in the annals of 
the West second only to that of his great commander. 
Tonty's father, once governor of the Italian city of 
Gaeta, was concerned with his son in a revolt at Naples 
against the Spanish rule. They took refuge from polit- 
ical troubles in France, where the elder Tonty became 
eminent as a financier and originated the Tontine form 


of life insurance which perpetuates his name. The son 
served two years in the French army as a cadet, then 
made seven expeditions on ships of war and galleys in 
the marine service, and rejoined the land forces at Mes- 
sina, where he became lieutenant to the commander of 
twenty thousand soldiers. When the enemy attacked the 
post of Libisso, his right hand was shot away by a gren- 
ade, and he was taken prisoner. Exchanged after six 
months captivity, he went to France and received a grant 
of three hundred livres from the King. Returning to the 
field he made a campaign in Sicily as a volunteer, and at 
the peace which soon followed was deprived of employ- 
ment by the discharge of the troops. Coming to Paris to 
seek occupation, he attracted the favorable notice of 
Prince Conti, who recommended him to La Salle. Such, 
in brief, is the history of Tonty prior to his arrival in that 
new world in which he was to play such a prominent 
part. 85 La Salle lay ill at Quebec for six weeks after his 
landing, upon which he had sent a canoe express to 
Frontenac for news of his affairs. It brought back a 
letter from Michel Ako and his comrades informing him 
that they had discovered copper in their wanderings, and 
had reached the land of the Illinois in the preceding 
spring, and had traded with the natives for a quantity of 
buffalo skins. H From his sick bed he issued orders for a 
party of fifteen to set out in canoes laden with valuable 
merchandise, to go to the Illinois in the neighborhood of 
the Mississippi to establish friendly relations with those 
savages, and to gather supplies in anticipation of his com- 
ing to prosecute his discoveries. A second advance party 
was sent to the Niagara River under La Motte de Lus- 
siere, another recruit just arrived from France. Louis 
Hennepin, a friar of the Recollet order, obtained leave 


to go with them, and thus became the first of Europeans 
to behold the mighty cataract of which he wrote the ear- 
liest published description. La Salle accompanied by 
Tonty soon followed, and while treating with the Seneca 
Indians for leave to build a vessel above the falls and a 
fort at the mouth of the river, his pilot disobeyed his 
express orders and caused the shipwreck of the vessel 
containing the outfit of the expedition. Undismayed by 
this great misfortune, the dauntless leader established his 
second fortified post upon the high point now occupied 
by Fort Niagara, and gave it the name of his friend, the 
Prince de Conti. Then leaving Tonty, as his lieutenant, 
to complete the construction of a schooner above the 
falls, he returned to Fort Frontenac to replace the equip- 
ment so needlessly destroyed, making the journey of two 
hundred and fifty miles on foot in mid-winter over the 
ice of Lake Ontario. His preparations completed, the 
summer of 1679 found La Salle again at Niagara. Tonty 
had finished the vessel which was named Le Griffon in 
allusion to the arms of Count Frontenac, which had two 
griffins as supporters. On August 7th they embarked, 
in the presence of several Iroquois warriors and their 
prisoners just brought from the Illinois country, on Lake 
Conti, which we call Lake Erie, in this tiny craft of 
forty-five tons burthen. 35 She was the pioneer of our lake 
marine, and it was perhaps a prophetic circumstance that 
above the flying griffin on her prow was carved an eagle, 
the symbol of the nation yet unborn, of whose vast com- 
merce she was a forerunner. 

Arrived at Mackinac, where Le Griffon rode at anchor 
amid a hundred bark canoes, La Salle was extremely dis- 
appointed at meeting the greater part of his advance 
party, whom he supposed to have long since established 


themselves among the Illinois. They had lost faith in 
the enterprise, and had halted at this place, where they 
had wasted and consumed his supplies, and six had 
deserted, taking valuable merchandise with them. Two 
of these recreants were reported to be at Sault Ste. 
Marie, and La Salle promptly sent Tonty with six men 
in pursuit of them. Tonty, in his account of this expe- 
dition, says, with military brevity: "M. de La Salle sent 
me to the Sault Ste. Marie, thirty leagues away, to look 
for the said deserters. I left on the 29th, and having 
taken the said deserters I brought them with me to Mis- 
sillimackinac, where I arrived the 17th of September." 
La Salle had already sailed, leaving orders for Tonty to 
join him at the mouth of the River of the Miamis, now the 
St. Joseph. At the entrance to Green Bay, on Pottawat- 
tamie Island, inhabited by Indians of that name, La Salle 
was agreeably surprised to find Michel Ako with his party 
who had visited the Illinois and brought thence a quan- 
tity of valuable peltries. He resolved to send his vessel 
back in charge of the pilot with five men to discharge 
part of her cargo at Mackinac, and the peltries at the 
storehouse he had built at the head of Lake Erie, and 
to return to Mackinac, there to await his further direc- 
tions. On September 18th Le Griffon fired a farewell 
salute, and with a favoring breeze from the west- 
ward set sail on the voyage which was to prove her final 
one. 86 

La Salle pushed on with fourteen men, among whom 
were the three friars, Louis Hennepin, Zenobe Membre' 
and Gabriel de La Ribourde, along the western shore of 
Lake Michigan, called by him Lake Dauphin. The party 
traveled in four canoes, which frail craft, besides the 
human freight, were deeply laden with a forge and its 


appurtenances, carpenter's and sawyer's tools, arms and 
merchandise. A terrible storm at the outset caused sad 
forebodings for the fate of the vessel, and delayed them 
for days. Great gales impeded their progress, failure of 
provisions brought them almost to the starvation point, 
and encounters with occasional bands of Indians com- 
pelled them to stand to their arms until the calumet 
which the Pottawattamies of Green Bay had given La 
Salle brought peace and concord. For a time they 
coasted the high bluffs which afforded them hardly a place 
to land, but as their little fleet advanced towards the 
south they found the country always more beautiful and 
the climate more temperate, with a great abundance of 
game. 37 They had reached at last the land of the Illinois, 
to which La Salle probably made his first visit in the 
night encampments of this part of the journey, and one 
of these may well have been on the site of Chicago. At 
the foot of Lake Michigan, they fell in with a party of 
one hundred and twenty-five savages of the Outagami 
tribe from the Fox River of Green Bay. Their petty 
thefts from the Frenchmen at night provoked prompt 
action from La Salle, who seized one of their chiefs and 
threatened to put him to death unless the stolen goods 
were restored. The savages showed fight, but quickly 
yielded and made full redress. Then becoming very 
friendly, they urged La Salle to remain with them, tell- 
ing him that the Illinois had resolved to massacre the 
French because their Iroquois prisoners had informed 
them that Frenchmen had counseled the Five Nations 
to make war on the prairie tribes. La Salle suspected 
that his enemies were at work, but resolved to pursue 
his route, and thanking the Outagamies, told them that 
he did not fear the Illinois, and that he knew he would 


bring them to reason by friendship or by force. Then 
skirting the southern end of the lake, he came on the ist 
of November to the river mouth, which he had appointed 
as the place of rendezvous with Tonty. 38 

All was silent about the natural harbor into which the 
St. Joseph flows, and no sign of man was seen. The 
trusty lieutenant, with the twenty men, who were to 
come from Mackinac along the eastern shore of Lake 
Michigan, had not arrived. La Salle's party wished to 
hasten on to the Illinois country before the approaching 
winter set in, but their leader would not desert his rear 
guard. To occupy his men, he fortified a triangular 
eminence at the entrance of the stream with squared 
beams and palisades, naming the post Fort Miami, and 
constructed near by a bark chapel for the priests, and a 
storehouse for the goods which he still expected his ves- 
sel to bring. For her safety he sounded the channel, 
planting at its approach tall poles made conspicuous by 
bear-skin pendants, and lining its course with buoys, and 
sent two men to Mackinac to guide her to this haven. 
On the twelfth of the month Tonty arrived with one-half 
of his companions, leaving the remainder to secure pro- 
visions by Imnting, and bringing the ominous news that 
Le Griffon had not touched at Mackinac, nor had she 
been heard of anywhere along the lake. La Salle lin- 
gered until the last moment, still hoping to see the long- 
looked-for sail appear, while Tonty went back for the 
remainder of his force. 39 

At the distance of eight leagues his canoe upset, and he 
with his comrades barely reached the shore. All their 
supplies being lost, they retraced their course, and living 
for three days upon acorns, found their way to the fort 
again. Here the commander, hanging letters to the 


trees with instructions for the pilot, if he should yet 
come, reluctantly gave the order on December 3d to 
embark upon the quiet waters of the River of the Miamis. 
The ice beginning to form in the stream threatened to 
bar the way to the Illinois, and La Salle could not wait 
longer for Tonty's hunting party. Two of them 
deserted, but the remainder soon followed the main 
body, which paddled steadily up the river seventy miles 
or more. They were seeking the now historic portage, 
at the point where the River St. Joseph, which has 
retained the name that Allouez endeavored to confer 
upon Lake Michigan, makes its nearest approach, in its 
great curve from south to north, to the headwaters of 
the Kankakee. They went beyond it, and were recalled 
by the Mohegan, who had been absent hunting, and 
brought word that the rest of Tonty's men were waiting 
for them at the proper crossing. This was very near the 
site of the present city of South Bend, Indiana, west of 
which a little lake forms one source of the Kankakee, dis- 
tant barely three miles from the St. Joseph, with marshy 
ground intervening. At this portage the whole party 
assembled, twenty-nine Frenchmen in all, and one Indian 
called Le Loup, the Mohegan hunter, and traversed the 
plain dreary with the bones and carcasses of buffalo, find- 
ing on its western verge a mixed village of savages of the 
Miami, Mascouten and Ouiatenon tribes. La Salle, with 
pathetic trust in the coming of those in the vessel, 
marked their road and again left letters on the trees at 
the landing place for their benefit. 40 It was an indication 
of the troubles which the leader was to experience from 
some of his faithless followers, that as they were making 
this crossing in single file, a man named Duplessis, 
marching behind La Salle, raised his gun to shoot him, 


but was prevented by one of his companions. This 
dastardly act, originating apparently in causeless discon- 
tent, did not become known to La Salle or Tonty until a 
long time after. 41 

On the 6th of December they were afloat upon the Kan- 
kakee branch of the Illinois River, which they found nav- 
igable for canoes a hundred paces from its source. They 
followed it through vast marshes and around long wind- 
ings which made a day's journey but a few miles advance, 
and saw on every hand a wilderness of morass and 
rushes. For many miles there was no firm ground save 
an occasional hummock of frozen earth barely large 
enough for a sleeping place and camp fire. When they 
emerged from the desolate region of the Kankakee 
marshes they found before them great open plains cov- 
ered with tall dry grass; and they knew that the} 7 had at 
last reached the true land of the Illinois, the prairie 
country of which they had heard so much. Their expec- 
tations of game were disappointed, for the autumnal 
fires, lit by the natives while hunting, had driven away 
the buffalo. In a journey of more than sixty leagues 
they shot only two lean deer, some swans and two wild 
geese, a meager support for so large a party. Two-thirds 
of the men, dissatisfied from lack of food, planned to de- 
sert and join the Indians, whom they saw now and then 
in the distance hovering about the burning prairies, but 
La Salle divined and frustrated the scheme. When their 
need was sorest, however, they found an enormous 
buffalo mired on the bank of the river. Twelve men with 
difficulty dragged the huge creature to the solid ground 
with their strongest rope, and its flesh furnished abun- 
dant supplies. So these explorers voyaged on, passing 
on the one hand the sites of the future cities of Momence 


and Kankakee, and on the other the inflowing stream of 
the Iroquois, a memory forever of those terrible warriors 
who were the scourge of the Illinois. 42 

As they came from the southeast another stream from 
the north glided into the Kankakee, and below this junc- 
tion with the Des Plaines they were on the course of Jol- 
liet and Marquette. The valley before them was the bed 
of an ancient river far greater than the Illinois. Nine 
leagues farther on they descended a rapid, and in four 
leagues more they reached the river then called the 
Pestegonki, and in modern times the Fox. The plain on 
which the city of Ottawa lies was untenanted, and two 
leagues lower down, where Buffalo Rock lifts its long 
plateau above the surrounding valley, their canoes came 
to the shore at the ancient village of the Kaskaskias, 
once the home of Marquette and of Allouez. The latter, 
to whom the news that La Salle was on the way had been 
brought on Christmas eve, by some young Indians who 
had met the party, had departed with a wandering band 
of Miamis and Mascoutens and Ouiatenons. 43 The other 
inhabitants had already scattered, and when La Salle 
arrived on the last day of the year 44 the village was 
empty. Not a soul appeared from any of the four hun- 
dred and sixty lodges which stood in rows upon the bank. 
These structures, Hennepin says, were built like long 
arbors covered with double mats of flat rushes woven so 
closely that neither wind nor snow nor rain could pene- 
trate them. Each lodge had five or six fires, and each 
fire one or two families who dwelt together in great 
accord, putting to shame the Christians in the matter of 
brotherly love. 45 All of this fraternal band had gone to 
the localities where they usually passed the winter in 
hunting. They had left in their caches or hiding places 


underground a store of Indian corn for seed in the spring 
and for their subsistence until the harvest. This was 
very precious to them, and no greater offence could be 
given than to encroach upon it. Nevertheless, his need 
was so great that La Salle resolved to take thirty minots 
from this sacred hoard, hoping by some means to appease 
the Illinois. 46 

With this provision they embarked again on New 
Year's Day, 1680, after Hennepin had celebrated the 
mass, and in touching words, as he says, had exhorted 
one of the deserters who had returned and the other mal- 
contents to be patient and trust in Providence, and had 
wished a Happy New Year to La Salle and all the party, 
and he and the other priests had embraced them all most 
affectionately. They dropped down the stream, leaving 
on the left hand the tall cliff which was to bear Fort St. 
Louis upon its summit, and be known in our day as 
Starved Rock, and the little River Aramoni coming from 
the south, which we call the Vermilion. For four days 
they floated onward, rounding the great bend of the Illi- 
nois and advancing southward. At the end of the fourth 
day, while traversing the expanse of the river called by 
the savages Pimiteoui, that is, in their tongue; "A place 
where there is abundance of fat beasts," they saw the 
smoke of campfires rising through the evening air. At 
nine the next morning, as they plied their paddles by the 
shore, they saw before them on both banks of the river 
where it leaves the lake, a number of pirogues, or large 
wooden canoes, and eighty lodges full of savages. These 
did not perceive the approach of the French until they 
had doubled a point behind which the encampment lay, 
and bore down upon the astonished natives, their fire- 
arms ready for action, eight canoes abreast, sweeping 


forward on the swift river current. Tonty was on the 
left of the line, and La Salle on the right, who, causing 
his men to call to the Indians to ask whether they wished 
peace or war, was the first to leap ashore, and his com- 
panions followed him. 47 

Some of the Illinois ran to their arms, but most took to 
flight with horrid cries and howlings. La Salle might 
have reassured them by showing his calumet, but feared 
this might be considered a sign of weakness. His party 
halted, preserving a warlike attitude, but he restrained 
his men from attacking the savages whom they might 
easily have defeated, although many times their number. 
One of the chiefs of the Illinois, who was on the other 
side of the river, perceived that it was not the purpose 
of the white men to slay them, and prevented his young 
warriors from discharging their arrows across the river. 
Those on the side where they had landed sent two of the 
chief men of the village to show the pipe of peace from 
the summit of a hill. This being graciously accepted, 
great joy ensued, and messengers were sent to recall 
those who had run away, but some had fled so fast and 
far that they did not return from their hiding places until 
three days after. Membre and Hennepin, taking the 
children by the hand and going to the wigwams of the 
parents, aided in the restoration of confidence, and when 
the dancing and feasting were over, made known to 
them that the Recollets had come not to gather beaver, 
but to give them a knowledge of the great Master of 
Life, and to be of the number of their greatest friends. 
A loud chorus of voices replied "Tepatoui* Nicka," which 
means, "Well, my brother, my friend, thou hast done 
very well"; and while some rubbed the limbs of the 
good priests with bear's oil and buffalo grease to relieve 


their fatigue, others presented them some flesh to eat, 
putting the three first morsels into their own mouths with 
much ceremony, which, says Hennepin, is considered a 
great piece of civility by them. 

La Salle, now for the first time among the Illinois in 
their own land, proceeded forthwith to hold a council 
with the head men summoned from the two villages situ- 
ated on either side of the river. After making them 
presents of Martinique tobacco and hatchets, he informed 
them of the necessity which had compelled him to take 
from their winter stores the corn which he still had in 
his canoes. He offered to return it, if it could not be 
spared, or to give in exchange things of which they were 
in want, but warned them that if they could not furnish 
him with the necessary provisions, he must pass on to 
their neighbors the Osages to purchase what he required, 
and leave with them the blacksmith whom he had 
brought to mend axes and other instruments for the Illi- 
nois. 48 This was a shrewd suggestion for they greatly 
needed the services of this artificer, nor would their jeal- 
ousy permit such a prize to go to another tribe. They 
gladly accepted the payment offered for their precious 
corn, adding to the amount already taken, and prayed 
the Frenchmen to establish themselves among them. 
This La Salle told them he was willing to do, upon the 
understanding that he could not make war upon the 
Iroquois who were subjects of the King and therefore his 
brethren. He advised the Illinois to make peace with 
the Five Nations, and offered his services to bring this 
about. But he deftly suggested that should these war- 
riors, despite his remonstrances, come to attack the 
Illinois in their homes, he would defend them, provided 
they would permit him to build there a fort in which he 


would be able with his few Frenchmen to make head 
against the Iroquois. He promised to furnish them with 
arms and ammunition upon condition that they should 
use them only to repel their enemies and not against 
those tribes who were living under the protection of the 
King whom the Indians call the Great Chief, who was 
beyond the sea. He added that their treatment of his 
party would determine the coming of many more of his 
nation, who would protect them and furnish all that they 
needed in exchange for their peltries; although the dis- 
tance of New France, the difficult way by river and rapid, 
the extent and perils of the great lakes, hindered their 
bringing goods by that route. To overcome this obstacle 
he had resolved to build a great canoe to descend their 
river to the sea, to obtain more quickly and more easily 
such merchandise for them. But as this work would 
require much expense and labor, he wished before com- 
mencing it to ascertain from them if their river was 
navigable, without fall or rapid, and if they knew whether 
other Europeans dwelt at its mouth. 

The Illinois agreed to his propositions, promised to 
satisfy him in all respects, and having postponed the 
details of the affair until spring when their chiefs would 
reassemble, gave him a glowing description of the width 
and beauty and easy navigation of the great river which 
La Salle called the Colbert and the Meschasipi, and of its 
tributaries. They assured him that there were no Euro- 
peans upon the river, and had there been, they would 
not have failed to go to trade with them as the sea was only 
distant twenty days' journey in their pirogues. Some of 
their slaves, whom they had taken in war on the coast, 
said they had seen vessels far out in the sea which made 
discharges that resembled thunder. 40 This information 


doubtless increased La Salle's eagerness to reach the 
Gulf before any other explorer should discover the mouth 
of the Father of the Waters, and as he lay down to rest 
that night he must have felt that the events of his first 
day among the Illinois had made easier the way to his 
wished-for goal. 

Twenty- four hours, however, brought a change. The 
next evening, Monso, a chief of the Miamis, arrived at 
the Indian lodges, accompanied by five or six young men 
bearing kettles, hatchets and knives, as gifts to open the 
hearts of the Illinois to his words. He assembled their 
sachems in the night, and assured them that La Salle 
was going to join their enemies on the banks of the great 
river, furnishing arms and ammunition in order to unite 
them with the Iroquois and surround and exterminate 
the Illinois. He described La Salle as a friend of the 
Iroquois, in whose country he had a fort and whom he 
supplied with guns and powder, and warned his troubled 
hearers that the only way to avoid ruin was to prevent or 
delay the proposed voyage of La Salle, a part of whose 
men would soon desert him, and that they should believe 
nothing which he told them. After saying many such 
things this emissary of evil departed before daybreak, 
lest his machinations should be discovered. La Salle's 
remarkable influence over the native mind, of which his 
career furnishes so many examples, stood him in good 
stead here. An Illinois chieftain, named Omoahoha, 
whom the French leader had won over on his arrival by 
a present of hatchets and knives, came to him the next 
morning and secretly informed him of all that had 
occurred. La Salle thanked him, and to secure his con- 
tinued services in this regard made him a further gift of 
powder and shot. It seemed apparent that the Miamis 


had been instructed and sent by Frenchmen jealous of 
the success of La Salle ; since Monso had never met him, 
and had never been within four hundred leagues of Fort 
Frontenac, and yet spoke of both with the familiarity of 
long acquaintance. Later La Salle received information 
that Monso's party had been sent by Allouez from the 
village of the three tribes to which he retired when he 
left the Kaskaskia town, and thereupon laid this plot at 
the door of the Jesuits. 50 At the time, however, he was 
uncertain whether the blow had been struck by them or 
by the traders at Mackinac with whose business he was 
likely to interfere. He was much disquieted by the 
affair, knowing the suspicious nature of the savages, and 
that his men had received bad impressions liable to lead 
them to desert as their comrades had done at Mackinac. 
There was little time to indulge in foreboding, as the 
same day, after the noon-tide meal, La Salle and his 
people were invited to a feast by Nicanape, brother of 
the head chief of the Illinois. 51 When the company were 
seated in their entertainer's wigwam, Nicanape made 
them a very different address from that which they had 
heard the day of their arrival. He told them that he 
wished to cure them of their mad desire to descend the 
great river which no one had done save to perish, that its 
banks were peopled with numerous nations who would 
destroy the French, its water alive with monsters, 
crocodiles and serpents, and its lower portion full of falls 
and precipices, and ending in a gulf where the stream 
disappeared under ground. Two or three of La Salle's 
men who understood the Indian tongue were visibly 
affected by this harangue. Their leader knowing it was 
not the custom of the savages to interrupt such dis- 
courses, and that by doing so he would only increase the 


suspicions of his disaffected people, suffered the dusky 
orator to finish his speech in peace When the time 
came to reply, La Salle calmly assured Nicanape that he 
and his party were very much obliged for the news he 
had given them, because they would win so much more 
glory as they found more difficulties to overcome, that 
they served the greatest of captains across the sea, and 
deemed themselves happy to die in bearing his name to 
the ends of the earth. But he feared that what they 
had heard was only a friendly device to prevent their 
leaving the Illinois, or rather the artifice of an evil spirit 
who had given them some distrust of the Frenchmen, 
and if the Illinois were really friendly they should not 
conceal the grounds of their disquietude which he would 
endeavor to remove ; otherwise there would be reason to 
believe that their professed friendship was of the lips 
only. Nicanape" made no answer, and changed the sub- 
ject by presenting food to his guests. 82 

After the barbaric feast was over. La Salle resumed 
his discourse, and told the listening redskins that he did 
not wonder that their neighbors were jealous of the 
advantages which trade with the French would bring 
them, nor that reports should be spread to his disadvan- 
tage, but he was surprised that the Illinois should give 
these credence and conceal them from a man who had so 
frankly revealed all his plans to them. Then addressing 
himself directly to Nicanape\ and overwhelming the 
astonished savage by his unsuspected knowledge of the 
intrigue, he cried; "I was not asleep, my friend, when 
Monso spoke to you at night and in secret to the prejudice 
of the French, whom he represented to you as spies of the 
Iroquois . The presents which he made to persuade you 
to believe his lying tales are still hidden under the earth 


in this wigwam. Why did he take to flight immediately- 
after? Why did he not speak by daylight, if he had only 
the truth to tell? Do you not see that when I came 
among you I could have slain 3 T our people, and in the 
confusion of your camp could have done alone what he 
would persuade you I will accomplish with the aid of the 
Iroquois? At this very hour could not my party put to 
death you old men while your young men are away hunt- 
ing? Do you not know that the Iroquois whom you fear 
have experienced the valor of the French, and that we 
should not need their aid if we wished to make war on 
you? But to satisfy you entirely, run after this man 
while I wait here to convict and confound him. How 
does he know me, since he has never seen me, and how 
does he know the plots which he says I have formed with 
the Iroquois whom he knows as little as he does me? 
Look at our stores. They are only tools and merchandise 
which we can use simply to do you good, but neither for 
attack nor retreat." 53 

This bold stroke made' La Salle master of the situation. 
The natives sent runners after Monso to bring him back, 
but the snow which had fallen heavily the night before 
covered his footprints and prevented their overtaking 
him. This was fortunate for the unsuccessful ambassa- 
dor, since the Illinois were so incensed against him that 
they would have slain him, had he fallen into their hands. 
This danger averted, the cloud lifted, but only for a day. 
The following night, six of the Frenchmen, who were on 
guard, deserted their comrades and fled into the wilder- 
ness. 54 It is almost incredible that they should have 
taken this desperate step without some assurance of pro- 
tection and aid, which they may have had from the same 
agency which sent Monso to the lodges of the Illinois. 


He certainly was advised of the approaching desertion 
when he came there, and it is possible that the returned 
runaway whom Hennepin found in camp on New Year's 
Day was the medium of communication between La 
Salle's enemies and his dissatisfied men. 55 At all events 
this recreant band followed the route which Monso had 
taken the preceding night, with the purpose of finding 
shelter in his village, either of their own motion, or 
because of some invitation secretly given to them. 56 Their 
farewell piece of malignity was the putting of some 
noxious compound into La Salle's camp kettle, by which, 
upon taking his soup next day, he was so poisoned that 
most alarming symptoms followed. His life was saved 
by an antidote which a friend had given him in France. 57 
One of the comrades of the deserters states that they 
departed because La Salle wished to make them con- 
struct sledges to draw his merchandise and stores to the 
Illinois village, apparently that at which they had 
obtained the supplies of corn. But this is probably a 
mere excuse. He gives their names as Chartier, Bari- 
bault, Lacroix, Duplessis, Monjault, and La Rousseliere. 58 
Duplessis was the would-be assassin of La Salle at the 
Kankakee portage, 59 and La Rousseliere was one of 
the two deserters at Mackinac who were brought back 
from the Sault Ste. Marie by Tonty. 60 Willingly would 
that fearless soldier have gone on their trail again, and 
compelled the return of the whole party, or punished 
them as they deserved, but the danger of revealing their 
disunion to the savages forbade. This defection was a 
sore blow to La Salle, and when, in the gray of the 
morning he made the rounds of the encampment and 
found no sentry at his post, and the quarters of these 
men empty, he might well have despaired of his under- 


taking. But he bore up bravely and forthwith aroused 
his remaining followers, and informing them of what had 
happened, directed that they should pretend to the 
natives that it was by his order that these persons had 
gone in pursuit of the lying Monso, and that he had 
caused them to do so by night, lest some one of the 
Illinois should precede them to warn the fugitive. Then 
he begged them to pay no attention to the tales of Nica- 
nape, and gave them his word that all who desired should 
return to Canada in the spring safely and in good repute, 
while if they left him then, it would be at the peril of 
their lives and of punishment on their arrival at Que- 
bec. 61 They seemed but faint-hearted, however, and, 
realizing the little dependence that could be placed upon 
them, he determined to separate them from the Indians 
that he might have them under better control. Without 
the two pit sawyers who were among the deserters it was 
hardly possible to construct a vessel to go to the sea, and 
it seemed wisest to establish a fortified post at once. To 
this end La Salle told his men that they were in danger 
while among the Illinois of an attack from the Iroquois, 
who would surely vent their rage upon the French, and 
that their only safeguard was to entrench themselves in 
some position easy of defence, such as the one he had 
found near at hand. His arguments convinced them, 
and they undertook with a good grace a task very severe 
for so small a company. 62 

The spot which La Salle had chosen was on the left 
bank of the Illinois River about two and a half miles 
below its exit from Pimiteoui Lake. 63 A great thaw 
which fortunately set in opened the river from the lake 
to the place selected, whither the party went with all 
their canoes on the evening of the 15th of January, 


1680. It was a low hill a little more than a mile from 
the Indian village, two hundred paees distant from the 
bank of the river which spread to its foot in the time of 
heavy rains. Two ravines, broad and deep, encompassed 
two other sides, and half of the fourth, the protection of 
which was completed by a trench which joined the 
ravines. Their outer slopes which served as a counter- 
scarp were bordered with stout chevaux de frise. All 
sides of the hill were made more steep, and the earth 
from the trench was used for a parapet on the summit 
capable of covering a man. Heavy timbers were joined 
around the lower part of the elevation in which were set 
upright joists united by cross pieces mortised into beams 
projecting from the thickness of the parapet. Thus 
substantial walls were made in front of which were 
planted pointed stakes twenty-five feet high, one foot in 
diameter, buried three feet in the earth and bolted to 
cross pieces from the tops of the joists, the whole com- 
posing a formidable palisade. The interior of the fort 
thus constructed was an irregular square. In two of the 
angles protected by logs thick enough to be shot-proof 
were the quarters of the men, and the R6collet friars 
occupied a cabin covered with boards in the third. The 
magazine, solidly built, and the forge, were placed in 
the fourth angle along the side which looked towards the 
forest. In the center were pitched the tents of Tonty 
and La Salle." 

Thus was completed the fourth of that chain of for- 
tresses between the St. Lawrence and the Gulf of Mex- 
ico, which La Salle's far-reaching plans contemplated. 
To Fort Frontenac on Lake Ontario and Fort Conti on 
the River Niagara and Fort Miami was added Fort 
Crevecceur on the Illinois. Its construction further- 


more signalized the establishment of white men upon 
the soil of Illinois, in whose history the date of January 
15, 1680, when La Salle's party assembled at the site 
of this fort to undertake its erection thus marks an era. 
It was named Crevecoeur, for other than the romantic 
reason usually given for the title. It is true that the 
R6collet friar, Christian Le Clercq, who was not, how- 
ever, of the party, in his "First Establishment of the 
Faith in New France," published in 1691, says, La Salle 
called the fort Crevecoeur on account of many vexations 
experienced there, adding that these never shook his 
firm resolve; and that Hennepin in his New Discovery, 
published in 1698, says, they named it the fort of Creve- 
coeur because the desertion of their men and the many 
other difficulties they labored under had almost broken 
their hearts. 65 But on the other hand, Hennepin in his 
earlier and more reliable Description of Louisiana, pub- 
lished in 1683, does not give this reason; Tonty does not 
mention it in either of his authentic accounts of the fort 
dated in 1684 and 1693; and La Salle himself, although 
frequently alluding to Crevecoeur in his letters, one 
written in the year of its building, never gives this mean- 
ing to the name. 66 John Gilmary Shea suggests that as 
Louis XIV had recently demolished Fort Crevecoeur, a 
stronghold in the Netherlands near Bois le Due, captured 
by him in 1672, the name may have been a compliment 
to that monarch, and this view is strengthened by the 
researches of H. A. Rafferman who has found proof that 
Tonty had taken part in the capture of the Netherland 
Crevecoeur. 67 So La Salle's faithful lieutenant may 
have named it from the scene of his service. Or, as it 
was furthermore a name of high renown among the 
ancient nobility of France, it may have been selected by 


La Salle, like that of Fort Conti, in compliment to one of 
his noble friends at court. Certainly there is no likeli- 
hood that such a leader under such circumstances would 
have further discouraged his followers by thus emphasiz- 
ing his misfortunes which were not so great to him then 
as they afterwards became. It has been thought that La 
Salle was now convinced of the loss of his vessel, and so 
was broken hearted.' 8 But he was not in fact hopeless in 
regard to her at this time, and did not abandon all expec- 
tation of seeing her again, until months after this period. 
The weight of the evidence seems to be against the com- 
mon theory in regard to the origin of this name. 

While the work on the fort was progressing La Salle 
again turned his thoughts to the construction of a vessel 
to descend the Mississippi. As it would cause the loss of 
a year's time to wait for other pit sawyers from Mon- 
treal, he said to his men that if one of them would 
attempt to cut plank he would assist. Two volunteered 
and succeeded so well, that the building of a vessel of 
forty -two feet keel, and twelve feet beam was undertaken 
and pushed so rapidly that all the planks were sawed, all 
the wood ready, and the vessel on the stocks and sheathed 
to the string piece by the ist of March. 69 She needed 
iron and cordage and sails which could only be obtained 
from Le Griffon, if she were still afloat, or Fort Fron- 
tenac. La Salle resolved to undertake the long journey 
to the latter place to obtain tidings of his bark and sup- 
plies for his expedition, leaving Tonty in command at 
Crevecceur. But first he earnestly desired to restore 
the spirits of his men who were still cast down by the 
accounts the natives had given them of the dangers of 
the Mississippi voyage. Fortune favored him by an 
encounter with a young Illinois warrior on the way to 


the village in the advance of a war party returning from 
the Gulf. La Salle, while shooting wild turkeys two 
leagues from the fort, fell in with this herald and gave 
him a turkey, which the hungry savage proceeded at 
once to boil in the kettle which he carried with him. 
While his meal was preparing, the shrewd Frenchman 
questioned him about the Mississippi, assuming to have 
a general knowledge of the subject. The unsuspicious 
Indian drew a map of the great river and its tributaries 
with charcoal upon birch bark, said that he had traversed 
it throughout in his pirogue, and that as far as the sea 
there was neither fall nor rapid, and gave the names of 
the tribes who dwelt near it. La Salle, by the present 
of a hatchet, bound him to secrecy as to their meeting, 
and took him to the fort to spend the following day. 
Early in the morning the French leader appeared at the 
Indian village and found that one of their principal men 
was giving a feast of bear's meat, to which he was 
invited. As they were assembled for this purpose in a 
lodge, he arose in their midst and smilingly informed 
them that the Providence which watched over his party 
had at his prayer revealed to him the truth concerning 
the grand river, the streams which fell into it, and the 
nations living along its banks. Then he launched into 
the description which he had only received the evening 
before, and as the wondering natives marked its accuracy 
from point to point, they placed their hands upon their 
mouths in token of admiration, and at its close freely 
admitted its correctness, and that they had concealed the 
truth in order to keep the white men always with them. 70 
This put a little heart into La Salle's men, who were 
still further encouraged by the corroborating testimony 
of savages from other tribes who now began to arrive at 


the little timber fortress on the banks of the Illinois. 
Strange news traveled fast even through the wilderness, 
and in hardly more than a month from the arrival of the 
Frenchmen at Pimiteoui, tidings of their coming had 
reached the Chickasaws, the Arkansas and the Osages in 
the south, and bands from all of these nations had set 
up their wigwams around Fort Crevecceur. Although 
their speech differed from that of the Illinois, their sign 
language easily made it plain that the great river was 
navigable, and that the strangers, whose approach had 
been made known everywhere, would be well received 
along its shores. La Salle gave them all presents, and 
promised to bring an abundance of hatchets, knives, 
needles and awls to them and their neighbors to whom 
he sent this good news. They departed well satisfied, 
earnestly assuring their generous host of a cordial wel- 
come to the expedition when it should reach their ter- 

A few days later a more remarkable embassy arrived, 
consisting of two chiefs of a people calling themselves 
the Matoutentas who lived a hundred leagues toward the 
sunset. One of them wore at his belt a horse's foot, 
taken, he said, in a country five days' journey west of his 
home, where the inhabitants fought on horseback, had 
lances and wore long hair, unlike the Illinois whose locks 
were closely shorn. These chiefs were probably from 
one of the villages of the Mandans on the Missouri River, 
and the equestrian warriors of whom they spoke were 
one of the mounted tribes of the great plains, or the 
Spaniards of New Mexico as the French believed. They 
also had heard of the white men and wished to gaze upon 
their faces and to receive gifts of their wonderful imple- 
ments of iron and steel. But a week behind these dele- 


gates from the west came others from the far north, who 
dwelt near the sources of the Mississippi and were spoken 
of as the Chaa, which, perhaps, is a variation of an 
Algonquin name for the Sioux. They invited the party 
to visit their country, whose attractions, as they alleged, 
were a wealth of beaver and other furs, and its nearness 
to the western sea." 

Almost at the same time the advent of the Miamis, the 
new neighbors of the Illinois on the east, in pacific guise 
brought relief to La Salle and his allies. These Indians, 
of the same stock as the Illinois and speaking almost the 
same tongue, formerly established on the Fox River of 
Wisconsin, had fled across the Mississippi through fear 
of the Iroquois, and had been at enmity with the Illinois. 
An advance party had removed to the River St. Joseph, 
and the main body were preparing to follow. In their 
new home they were exposed to the machinations of the 
Iroquois incited by La Salle's enemies. Fears of their 
hostility had been increased by the Monso incident, but 
were now allayed by their willingness to be friends. The 
two tribes joined in the calumet or peace dance, and 
formed a league against the Iroquois, which La Salle 
confirmed by presents to both parties. 73 This surprising 
concourse of representatives of so many nations, so 
quickly assembled from all points of the compass, amen- 
able to control and eager to trade, must have greatly 
encouraged La Salle in his plans for commercial and 
political supremacy in the valley of the Mississippi. The 
picturesque gathering around Fort Crevecceur indicated 
what might take place at each of the points he desired to 
occupy, if fortune would but favor the brave and the 

The priests during the construction of the fort had had 


public prayers in their cabin every morning and evening, 
and held mission services for the French and the Illinois 
Indians who came in crowds, but the lack of wine pre- 
vented the celebration of the mass. Father Membre 
made his headquarters at the Indian village near by 
where the chief, named Oumahouha or the Wolf, had 
lodged him and considered him as one of his children, 
his paternal affection being quickened by a timely pres- 
ent of three axes from La Salle, given to secure attention 
to the wants of his adopted son. Membre desired to 
have the mission to the Illinois, that he might convert 
that numerous nation comprising by his estimate some 
seven or eight thousand souls. He rapidly acquired 
their language, but his first experience of their ways 
almost changed his resolve to live among them. 74 Father 
Ribourde preferred to stay at the fort, 75 while for Henne- 
pin another destiny was preparing. The cunning sav- 
ages from the upper Mississippi had either met with 
French explorers before, or very quickly divined that 
trade and discovery were their ruling motives. The 
peltries and the route to the western ocean, which they 
promised to visitors to their land, were temptations too 
strong to be resisted. La Salle determined, while he 
himself was absent on his necessary journey to and from 
Fort Frontenac, to send a party to their homes, and it 
was decided that Hennepin should be one of the number. 
The leader of the expedition was Michel Ako, a native 
of Poitou in France, of whom we shall hear more in con- 
nection with the early days of Illinois, and with him was 
Antony Auguel, of the province of Picardy, surnamed 
Le Picard du Gay. They were two of La Salle's best 
and bravest men. 76 Ako was fairly versed in the language 
of the Illinois and of the Sioux, and had successfully 


executed various commissions among the natives for La 
Salle, who describes him as prudent, brave and cool. To 
him was entrusted goods worth a thousand livres, of the 
kind most esteemed among the savages, and the invalu- 
able calumet as a protection and a token of their peaceful 
purpose. 77 La Salle tells us simply, but with perhaps a 
touch of sarcasm, that Hennepin offered to make this 
voyage to gain the opportunity of carrying the gospel to 
the peoples who had never heard it, and to make the 
acquaintance of those among whom he expected soon to 
establish himself to preach the faith. 78 But the voluble 
priest himself informs us fully of the difficulty with which 
he was brought to this laudable resolution. After La 
Salle had arranged for his going, he offered to take 
Membre's place among the Illinois, while the latter 
should go in his stead to the upper Mississippi. Mem- 
bre, however, prudently decided that he would rather 
bear the ills he had than fly to the Sioux whom he 
knew not of. Hennepin then concluded that an affection 
of the gums which had troubled him for a year or more 
had become so serious that he was obliged to return to 
Canada to be cured, and suggested that he should go and 
come back with La Salle. 79 But his inflexible commander 
replied, that if he refused to make the voyage, his cler- 
ical superiors would be informed that he was the cause of 
the want of success of the new missions. The venerable 
Ribourde, who had been his master during his novitiate 
in the convent of Bethune in the province of Artois, and 
who volunteered to come and aid him the next year, 
begged him to proceed, saying that if he died of his 
infirmity God would be one day glorified by his apostolic 
labors; and that he would have many monsters to over- 
come and precipices to pass, and knew not a word of the 


language of the nations whom he was going to try to win 
to God, but with courage he would gain as many victories 
as combats. Hennepin yielded to this advice, to the sat- 
isfaction of La Salle, who gave him for his own use a 
small supply of knives, awls, tobacco, beads and needles, 
assuring him that he would have given more had he been 
able. All of their companions escorted the travelers to 
the place of embarkation. Father Gabriel gave his bless- 
ing in the words of Scripture; "Be of good courage and 
let your heart be comforted" ; the farewells were spoken, 
and the reluctant apostle took his place in the canoe which 
quickly disappeared down the river. 80 

The party left Fort Crevecceur on February 29, 1680, 
and toward evening met a number of the Illinois return- 
ing to the village in their pirogues loaded with buffalo 
meat. They used every effort to induce the trio to turn 
back. The Picard would have yielded, but Ako, who 
deemed his honor pledged to carry out the enterprise, 
seconded by Hennepin, resolutely proceeded on his 
way. They likened the Illinois River, to which La Salle 
had given the name of Seignelay, in honor of the son-in- 
law and successor of the great minister Colbert, to the 
Seine at Paris in width and depth. Its bordering hills 
covered with fine trees, and occasionally separated by 
marsh land, they climbed to behold from their summits 
prairies extending further than the eye could reach, 
studded at intervals with groves seemingly planted in 
regular order. 81 About five miles from its mouth on the 
7th of March they met the tribe of the Tamaroa Indians, 
to the number of two hundred families or more, who 
wished to take them to their village west of the Missis- 
sippi, and some sixteen miles below the mouth of the 
Illinois. When they declined, these savages believing 


that they carried supplies to their enemies pursued them 
in their heavy wooden pirogues. Unable to overtake the 
lighter craft of birch bark, they sent some of their young 
men by land to waylay the white men at a narrow part of 
the river. But the wary Ako, noticing the smoke of the 
encampment where these warriors lay ready to discharge 
a shower of arrows, crossed the stream to an island on 
the other side, and halted to rest, trusting to the watch- 
fulness of a little dog they had brought with them, to 
apprise them if the savages attempted to swim across. 
The next day they came to the mouth of the Illinois, and 
noted in the angle on its south side a flat precipitous rock 
forty feet in height, very well suited for building a fort, 82 
which La Salle afterwards planned to do; 83 and on the 
opposite shore fields as it were of black earth, all ready 
for cultivation and very advantageous for the existence of 
a colony. The floating ice detained them here until 
March 12th, when they turned the prow of their canoe 
into the Mississippi and commenced its ascent. As they 
followed the great windings of the mighty river, paddling 
against its powerful current, they observed the bluffs on 
either side approaching the banks near the mouth of the 
Illinois, and elsewhere receding, leaving great open 
meadows between them and the river. These were cov- 
ered with an infinite number of buffalo; and the whole 
country beyond the bluffs seemed so fine and pleasant 
that Hennepin says, one might justly call it the Delight 
of America. 84 With this compliment to the land of the 
Illinois, the vain, good - natured and sadly unreliable 
friar passes beyond its confines and ceases to be con- 
nected with its story. We need not follow him in his 
adventures among the Sioux with whom Ako remained 
for a time, ultimately returning to the Illinois country, 


while Hennepin and Du Gay made their way to Canada, 
and thence returned to France. 

On the ist of March, the day after the departure of 
Ako's party for the Upper Mississippi, La Salle himself 
set out for Frontenac with six of his strongest French- 
men, and a savage called the Wolf, 85 in two canoes. The 
rapid current kept the river free from ice in the neigh- 
borhood of Crevecceur, but an hour's paddling brought 
them to the frozen waters of Pimiteoui Lake. They 
could not abandon their canoes, since the careful leader 
designed to send these back filled with corn, and there- 
fore built two sledges on which they placed the canoes 
and lading and dragged them over the snow for fifteen 
miles or more. La Salle encouraged his men with the 
hope of open water at the end of the lake, but with keen 
disappointment they found the ice there and beyond too 
weak to bear their weight, and too strong for their bark 
canoes to sever. After a desolate night's encampment 
they took up their line of march through the leafless 
woods on the river bank, and toiled onward, mid-leg deep 
in snow, carrying their canoes and equipage for four 
leagues or more. This dreary day's journey brought 
them at evening to some deserted Indian cabins, where 
they thankfully took shelter from a heavy rain which fell 
all night. The third day they were able to navigate the 
river for four hours, occasionally breaking their way with 
poles through frozen places until they encountered ice a 
foot in thickness, so rough and full of air holes as to be 
impassable. Another detour of two leagues of sledging 
over icebound marshes ended at a point where the flow- 
ing current permitted another embarkation. In the after- 
noon masses of drifting ice obliged them to land from 
time to time till these passed by, and nightfall compelled 


another wintry camp in the forest. The following morn- 
ing they made a portage of half a league, continued their 
route by a side channel for two leagues more, sometimes 
rowing, sometimes parting the ice by dint of sturdy blows 
from hatchet and club, and sometimes wading knee deep 
in the icy stream, towing their canoes. Then they 
resumed their toilsome progress with the sledges until 
the evening of the 5th, when a snowstorm set in which 
caused a three days' halt. On the 9th the severe cold 
glazed the surface of river and prairie, and they mounted 
their snowshoes and proceeded at a rapid pace. They 
traversed eight leagues that day, and six the next, and at 
sunset of March 10th saw before them the lodges of the 
great Indian village from whose subterranean hiding 
places they had taken a supply of corn as they passed 
down the Illinois. 86 Ten days of exhausting labor and 
privation had been spent in the arduous journey from 
near Peoria Lake to a point within a few miles of the site 
of the city of Ottawa, a distance which we now pass over 
in three hours. The contrast illustrates the difference 
between transportation by canoe and by rail. 

A great rain during the two days following opened the 
river, but the sheets of ice crowded amid the islands and 
sandbanks below the Indian village heaped upon one 
another with a mighty noise until huge dams were 
formed. La Salle despaired of sending timely supplies to 
his people at Crevecceur because of these obstacles and 
because not a soul was in the village ; he could not take 
their corn except by purchase and there was no prospect 
of any of the Illinois returning at such an inclement 
season. Nevertheless, a trail in the snow which they 
had crossed suggested that some natives might be hunt- 
ing in that region. A fire of reeds was kindled in the 


hope that the smoke, visible from afar on the prairies, 
might attract attention; and such was the result. The 
next day, as the restless La Salle was exploring the 
neighborhood, while his men were smoking the flesh of a 
buffalo they had slain, he saw approaching two natives 
who had seen the distant column of vapor as they roamed 
the snowy waste. They were soon followed by Chas- 
sagoac, the chief of the Illinois, who was known to be 
well disposed towards the French. His name seems to 
be another form of the word "Chicago," and the similar- 
ity of title and description goes far to identify him with 
the chief called Chachagouessiou, who accompanied Mar- 
quette from Sturgeon Bay to the Chicago portage only 
six years before. Each is spoken of as the leading man 
among the Illinois, and each is said to be very friendly to 
the French. Chassagoac had not previously met any 
of La Salle's party, and must therefore have been 
acquainted with other Frenchmen, who not improbably 
were Marquette and his companions. And the variation 
in the names as they appear in the manuscripts is not 
greater than might be expected in the attempts of differ- 
ent writers to represent the same Indian sounds. 87 La 
Salle, with politic generosity, presented, from his small 
store, a red blanket, a kettle, and some hatchets and 
knives to Chassagoac, and then told him that the French 
at Crevecceur were in want of provisions, and prayed 
him to furnish these, promising recompense on the return 
of the party from Frontenac. Chassagoac readily 
assented and loaded one of the canoes with corn. This 
La Salle directed two of his men to take back to Creve- 
coeur, keeping four Frenchmen and the Indian with him. 88 
A long conference ensued between the white leader 
and the chief of the red men on the shore of the lonely 


river under the inclement sky. All that had taken place 
at the villages near Crevecoeur, which Chassagoac had 
not visited that season, was duly recounted to him, and 
then La Salle spoke of the future. We can see him pac- 
ing back and forth through the snow, oblivious of his 
wintry surroundings, of his scanty resources, and of the 
sore need of his people at the fort, while, with the light 
of inspiration on his brow, he unfolds his far-reaching 
plans to one whose co-operation would be of special value. 
He tells of his designs to make a lasting peace between 
the tribes of the Illinois and the fierce warriors of the 
Six Nations, to find the mouth of the Great River, and to 
bring arms and merchandise and many of his people to 
form an establishment among the Illinois, so soon as this 
great discovery should be made. The listening savage, 
wrapped in his blanket by the campfire, nods approval as 
the orator goes on, and soon, in a burst of unwonted 
enthusiasm, evoked by the ardent eloquence which found 
its way to the savage heart so well, pledges his influence 
in behalf of the French, confirms all that La Salle has 
recently heard concerning the Mississippi, and assures 
him that everything in his power shall be done to bring 
his enterprise to a happy ending. 89 The news of impend- 
ing events so important and so beneficial to his tribe con- 
soled Chassagoac for the departure of his new friend, and 
the parties to this sudden alliance, which went far to cir- 
cumvent the machinations of La Salle's enemies, bade 
each other farewell. 

The four hardy voyageurs and their native comrade 
had meanwhile taken one canoe and their supplies as far 
as the rapids, four leagues above the village, at what is 
now known as North Kickapoo Creek. Here La Salle 
joined them, and they embarked on the river on the 16th 


of March, continuing this route on the following day and 
advancing a dozen leagues, although the masses of ice 
often obliged them to travel on shore. The next morn- 
ing the river was so solidly frozen that it was navigable 
no further. They hid their canoe on what is now called 
Treat's Island, just above the junction of the Du Page 
with the Illinois; and continued their journey on foot. 
Laden with their outfit, they plodded on through melting 
snow, and across a great marsh until at noon of the 2 2d 
the deep and rapid waters of the Little Calumet brought 
them to a halt. It was necessary to build a raft, but only 
oak trees could be found, and the wood of these was not 
sufficiently buoyant. At length by binding the driest 
branches and bunches of rushes together with twisted 
willows, they made shift to reach the opposite bank, 
standing deep in the water on this frail support. The next 
day a similar contrivance carried them over the Grand 
Calumet, and two ponds or sloughs encountered in their 
course, and at evening they were greeted by the waves of 
Lake Michigan breaking in surf upon its shores. Fol- 
lowing its strand, they arrived on March 24th at the 
River St. Joseph, where Fort Miami gave them shelter. 90 
Here La Salle found the two men, Nicolas Laurent dit 
La Chapelle and Noel Le Blanc, whom he had sent the 
preceding autumn from this same place to meet his ves- 
sel. They increased his anxiety concerning her by 
reporting no news of her at Michillimackinac, which 
place they had left more than three months after she 
should have touched there. But, on the other hand, 
there was some ground for hope, because they had made 
the tour of the entire lake without finding any wreckage, 
nor had any been seen by the many Indians and French- 
men whom they met at different points along their route. 


But some of the natives told an ominous tale of three can- 
non shots in the night, the sound of which was borne to 
their wigwams by a great wind from the southwest. The 
ever-sanguine La Salle, however, reasoned that a gale 
from that direction might have prevented the vessel's 
coming to anchor at Michillimackinac and carried her 
beyond that island, whence she had held on her way 
down Lake Huron, and refused to admit that she could 
have been wrecked. 91 

These men also brought the unwelcome tidings that 
disaster had happened to La Salle's affairs at Quebec 
through the intrigues of his opponents, among whom his 
own brother was conspicuous. The undaunted chieftain 
only set his face more resolutely eastward. He ordered 
La Chapelle and Le Blanc to follow the route of the 
Kankakee and report to Tonty at Fort Crevecceur, and 
sent directions by them to his faithful lieutenant to visit 
the great Indian village, inspect a high rock in its neigh- 
borhood, and build a strong fort upon it. He resolved to 
change the location of his Illinois citadel, because the 
Illinois wished that he should build it near their great 
village, as he learned, doubtless, at his interview with 
Chassagoac. The new site was not the bold bluff over- 
looking the valley of the Illinois River for miles in either 
direction, known in our time as Starved Rock, which was 
later to bear the structure known as Fort St. Louis of 
the Illinois. At this period the great Indian village was 
some eight miles above this point, and the high rock in 
its neighborhood referred to by La Salle was probably 
that known to-day as Buffalo Rock, or one of the bluffs 
near it. 93 

With his little party of five La Salle built a raft, crossed 
the St. Joseph, plunged into the almost impenetrable 


forests of what is now southern Michigan, and despite 
famine, storm, sickness and Indian alarms, found his way 
to the strait between Lakes Huron and Erie, from which 
the city of Detroit takes its name. Still unwilling to 
give up Le Griffon, he sent two of his men, Hunault and 
Collin, to Mackinac to obtain the latest information con- 
cerning her, and with the other three rafted across the 
strait and followed the shore of Lake Erie on foot, until 
the illness of two of his comrades compelled him with the 
other to build a canoe, by means of which the party 
reached the Niagara, April 21st. Some of- his men had 
wintered in a cabin above the cataract, perhaps at the 
shipyard of Le Griffon. No word of her had come to 
them, but they told him of fresh misfortunes. The ship 
St. Pierre, in which were sent from France more than 
twenty thousand francs' worth of merchandise for him, 
had foundered in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and all the 
cargo was lost, and of twenty workmen whom she had 
brought for his new colony, sixteen had gone back to 
Europe, discouraged by the current reports that he would 
never return. Of his stores on the Niagara, a part had 
been stolen, and the rest were exposed to the same risk, 
for he had no one there to trust. His companions also 
were completely exhausted, and not one could go with 
him further. But taking three fresh men from those 
who had spent the winter there, he crossed Lake Ontario 
in a steady downpour of rain, and on the 6th day of May 
Fort Frontenac welcomed its unconquerable commander. 
In sixty-seven days and over more than five hundred 
leagues of country, he had performed a journey which 
the official relation calls the most laborious ever under- 
taken by any Frenchman in America. 93 

From Fort Conti La Salle sent back D'Autray with 


three soldiers, La Violette, Dulignon and Pierre You, 
and La Salle's servant, La Brie, in two canoes laden with 
arms and supplies, and means for the completion of the 
bark at Crevecoeur. He directed the young- leader to 
take with him three more of their men whom he would 
meet on the way and the two whom he had sent to Mack- 
inac, and to warn Tonty of the march of the Iroquois 
against the Illinois, and to remain neutral in the impend- 
ing conflict. As soon as he arrived at Frontenac, he sent 
his lieutenant who had been commanding there, Francois 
Daubin, Sieur de La Forest, who held of him the island 
of Belle Isle, at the entrance of Lake Ontario, with five 
men to overtake D'Autray's party and bear tidings to 
Tonty that La Salle was coming with all speed to his aid. 
Next he dispatched a canoe to Quebec for additional 
men, but of the whole party brought by the St. Pierre 
to join him, one named Pinabel alone came to accompany 
him to the Illinois country. He learned withal that some 
canoes ascending the St. Lawrence laden with his goods 
had been lost in the rapids, and that dire confusion pre- 
vailed in his affairs at Montreal. A brief visit to that 
place enabled him in eight days time to restore order and 
secure fresh supplies, and he returned with all speed to 
Frontenac to complete his preparations for a second 
journey to the land of the Illinois. Here, on July 2 2d, 
arrived Nicolas Laurent, dit La Chapelle, again the 
bearer of evil tidings, and with him Jacques Messier and 
Nicolas Crevel, a colonist at Frontenac, who had met the 
others on their way. The first two had been sent by 
Tonty to report that most of the men left at Crevecoeur 
had, while Tonty was obtaining provisions at the great 
Illinois village, pillaged the magazine, dismantled the 
fort, and decamped with all the peltries and supplies. 


They had taken the route to Montreal, and some of them 
had already been seen on Lake Frontenac. La Salle set 
forth at once to intercept them. Two of his colonists 
sent by La Forest met him on the way, bringing the 
further information that these deserters had demolished 
Fort Miami and robbed the storehouses at Mackinac and 
Niagara, and while eight of them had fled towards New 
York, twelve were coming to slay him. 

La Salle lay in wait for them, and made his dispositions 
with such skill that two of the miscreants were slain and 
the others were taken in irons to the dungeon of Fort 
Frontenac. Hence, on August 10, ]68o, he departed 
with five and twenty men to the relief of the loyal Tonty. 
On the 15th he reached Teioiagon, an Iroquois village 
not far, perhaps, from the site of Toronto, and made it 
his headquarters till the 2 2d, while his effects were trans- 
ported by land to Lake Simcoe, which he called Lake 
Toronto. As he reached its shore on the 23d, two more 
of his deserters, making their way to Montreal, fell into 
his hands. One, Gabriel Minime, who had left him at 
Mackinac, was permitted to re-enter his service. The 
other, Grandmaison, escaped with his portion of the 
stolen furs. 9 * But they also brought sad news to La Salle, 
and he was compelled at last to believe that his woes had 
culminated in the total loss of Le Griffon and her cargo. 
These men had met some Pottawattamie Indians, who 
told them that two days after the bark left the island 
where La Salle bid her farewell September 18, 1679, a 
great gale arose. The pilot, who had anchored off the 
north shore of the lake under the shelter of a headland 
near the wigwams of these savages, determined to pro- 
ceed to Mackinac, despite their warnings that a mighty 
tempest was raging in the open lake, which was white 


with foam. Mocking at their fears and asserting that no 
wind could stay his course, he set sail in the face of the 
increasing storm. Hardly had the little vessel gone a 
quarter of a league from its anchorage when the natives 
saw it rolling wildly amid the huge waves, and then with 
its canvas furled driven irresistibly before the blast. In 
the gathering gloom and floods of rain it disappeared 
from view, and they never saw it more. The following 
spring they found some clothing along the shore, and in 
the summer a hatchway, a bit of cordage and a few pack- 
ages of beaver skins were discovered in the sand. These, 
with the head of a flag staff, were the sole relics of the 
unfortunate craft, which undoubtedly foundered not 
many hours after it was last seen from the Pottawattamie 
village. 95 And those midnight guns heard by the won- 
dering savages on the other shore above the roar of the 
tempest were her last appeals for help as she went to her 
doom in the depths of the Lake of the Illinois. Romance 
has been busy with her fate, and has even fancied that 
Le Griffon, shaped as we see her in the picture in Hen- 
nepin's New Discovery, after the fashion of ancient 
men of war, her bow and stern built high and her beak 
head displaying a flying griffin and an eagle, with her 
five small cannon, three of brass and two of arquebus 
pattern, and all .the rest of her antique equipment is pre- 
served to this day beneath one of the sand dunes on the 
eastern coast of Lake Michigan. 96 

The long suspense was over, and the hope which had 
cheered the dreary journey from Crevecoeur and prom- 
ised tidings at every station in the wilderness was sor- 
rowfully abandoned. But La Salle was not discouraged. 
He had sent six of his men, a blacksmith, two sailors, a 
rope maker and two soldiers to take powder, lead, sails, 


tools and other supplies from the Niagara storehouse by 
Lake Erie to Mackinac. He, with the rest of his party, 
descended the Severn River to Lake Huron, and coast- 
ing its lonely shores and islands reached Sault Ste. Marie 
on September 16th. He presented here Frontenac's 
order for the delivery to him of the peltries left at the 
mission by the deserters, but the priests had mingled 
them with those belonging to the church, and to avoid a 
charge of sacrilege La Salle departed empty handed. 
He pursued his way the next day to Mackinac, where he 
was delayed three weeks by the hostility of the Jesuits, 
who prevented his obtaining supplies, and sought to 
entrap him into trading in that region contrary to the 
royal commission. At this place he seems to have been 
joined by D'Autray and La Forest, who in turn had met 
some of the deserters from Crevecceur, by whose false 
tales of Tonty's death and other disasters the men of the 
relief parties had been so discouraged that their leaders 
were compelled to retrace their steps. The Lake Erie 
detachment did not make its appearance, and La Salle 
was compelled to send two canoes by different routes in 
search of it. He could not wait longer, and exchanging 
his stock of spirits with the natives for Indian corn, and 
leaving La Forest with three soldiers to follow with the 
rear guard, he left Mackinac on the 4th of October, 
1680. 97 

The advance party now consisted of La Salle, D'Au- 
tray, whom his commander calls "the ever faithful," a 
proud title to win in those days of treachery, the ship 
carpenter, Noel Blanc, whose desertion had been for- 
given, a surgeon, three soldiers, two sawyers, two 
masons, two laborers and an Indian. Frequent storms 
delayed their arrival at the river of the Miamis until No- 


vember 4th. Here they expected to meet La Forest, who 
had been ordered to leave Mackinac not later than Octo- 
ber 20th, and being less encumbered with heavy lading 
should have made the trip by this time. He did not 
appear, and most of their equipment being useless with- 
out the blacksmith, who was with the Lake Erie detach- 
ment, it was left in charge of Le Blanc and five French- 
men, and an Indian hunter named Nanangoucy, of a New 
England tribe, was employed to supply them with pro- 
visions. They were directed to prepare timbers for the 
building of the ruined fort and construction of a vessel, 
while waiting for La Forest, for whom orders were left 
to join the vanguard if he arrived before winter. La 
Salle, with D'Autray, whom he again compliments as a 
"very brave young man," the surgeon, and the man 
named You, also called "a very brave fellow," Tamisier. 
Baron, and Hunault, who had made the terrible winter 
journey from Crevecceur, together with La Salle's faith- 
ful Indian, Le Loup, set out on November 8th. They 
ascended the river, and on the 15th were at the Miami 
village near the portage, which they were surprised to 
find totally deserted. Crossing the two leagues of marshy 
land which in times of low water were all that inter- 
vened between the two rivers, on the 17th they were 
afloat on the Kankakee, and pursued their course as 
swiftly as its tortuous windings would allow. 98 By the 
23d they were once more in the land of the Illinois, and 
at the mouth of the River Iroquois, passed the recent 
camping place of a war party of Kickapoos, two hundred 
or more in number, of whose deeds they were soon to 
hear. An abundance of game rejoiced the hearts of the 
men, but La Salle was filled with a vague inquietude as 
he noted the imusual Indian signs and the failure of the 111- 


inois to burn the prairies according to their custom in the 
buffalo season. The 27th they arrived at the place 
where, as La Salle says, the River Divine falls into the 
Teaki, being the junction of the Des Plaines and the Kan- 
kakee. Here careful search was made for signs of Ton- 
ty's passing. As none were found, and he must have 
followed one or the other of these rivers had he left the 
country, it seemed that he was still at the Illinois village. 
Encouraged by this belief La Salle halted for three days 
to indulge his men in a grand hunting expedition. The 
neighborhood, then as in later times the paradise of the 
sportsman, soon yielded to their pursuit a dozen fat buf- 
falo, seven or eight deer, and swans and other birds in 
profusion. They prepared and stored a supply for the 
winter, loaded one canoe with the choicest viands to 
regale Tonty and his comrades, and cheerily embarked 
on the Illinois River for the great Indian village only fif- 
teen leagues away." Here they arrived the evening of 
December xst only to find it a place of indescribable hor- 
ror. The long rows of lodges had been burned, and their 
site was marked by blackened poles on which were fixed 
ghastly human heads. The plain was strewn with man- 
gled bodies and with bones from the violated burial places 
of the village. The underground storehouses had been 
broken open, and the supplies of corn burned or trampled 
under foot, the village utensils shattered and every spe- 
cies of diabolical mischief wrought. And this place of 
carnage was inhabited only by wolves and birds of prey, 
whose howls and cries filled the air while they seemed 
ready to oppose the landing of the horror-stricken trav- 
elers. The terrible scourge of an Iroquois invasion had 
fallen upon the land of the Illinois, and there seemed no 
one left to tell the tale. An eager search revealed no 


indications of the slaying of Tonty's party, except that 
by a planted space, a league from the village and near 
the river, which apparently had been their garden, La 
Salle found six pointed stakes set in the earth, painted 
red, with the figure of a man in black upon each with his 
eyes bandaged. He knew it was the custom of the sav- 
ages to erect such trophies where they had slain people, 
and feared that such had been the fate of his men. But 
it was possible that they had only been made prisoners 
and forced to descend the river with some of the Illinois 
fleeing from the Iroquois. After a night of sleepless 
anxiety La Salle resolved to follow. Storing his goods in 
an opening in the steep side of a cliff, he detailed three 
of his men to occupy a neighboring island between two 
rapids to gather corn for winter supplies for his party 
and that which he expected to follow, warning them to 
remain in concealment as much as possible. These three 
were the surgeon, Tamisier and Baron. 100 

The next day, December 2d, La Salle himself, at three 
in the afternoon, embarked with D'Autray, You, Hun- 
ault, and Le Loup, in a canoe. They made six leagues 
before night, and came to the place of refuge which the 
Illinois had established for their women and children, on 
a point of land between the river and the marsh. It was 
crowded with lodges defended by a kind of parapet built 
of their pirogues. On the opposite shore the insatiable 
Iroquois, prevented from crossing by their lack of 
canoes, had erected their one hundred and thirteen 
lodges, and on the bark of trees near by were rudely 
drawn the tokens of their chiefs and the tallies which 
showed that five hundred and eighty-two braves had fol- 
lowed them to the war. In neither camp was there any 
trace of the missing Frenchmen. At daybreak, La Salle 


was again afloat, and steadily paddling until nightfall, his 
party arrived at what remained of Fort Crevecoeur, which 
the deserters had left in ruins. On the way they passed 
six encampments of the Illinois, and as many of the Iro- 
quois, face to face with these, on the opposite shore. 
Relentlessly these human tigers had tracked their vic- 
tims, halting when they halted, marching when they 
marched, and waiting only for the decisive moment to 
glut their thirst for blood. With mournful thoughts La 
Salle stood again by the side of the unfinished vessel 
which he had expected to bear him proudly to the mouth 
of the Mississippi. The Iroquois had drawn a few nails 
from its moldings, but it was otherwise uninjured, and 
could have been completed in a month, had the tools been 
at hand which were taken to the Indian village by Tonty 
and ruined in its destruction. On a broken plank were 
written the words; "Nous sommes tous sauvages ce 15 A 

, 1680," and the latter part of the sentence was 

missing. La Salle recognized the handwriting of Le 
Parisien, and at first thought that Tonty had caused this 
to be done in August, when retreating with the Illinois. 
It was afterwards learned that it was part of an inscrip- 
tion traced in April before Tonty went to the great Illi- 
nois village. La Salle set out on December 4th to follow 
the river to its mouth, believing that his lieutenant and 
companions had descended it with the savages. Passing 
four of their camps and as many of their ruthless foes 
directly opposite these, and traveling all night, the next 
day they came upon another dreadful scene of slaughter. 101 
Only twelve days before, as the hapless survivors later 
told the tale, the Illinois tribes, trusting to a treaty of 
peace with the Iroquois, separated for their more con- 
venient support. The Kaskaskias, the bravest of all, 


with the Cahokias and others, ascended the Mississippi. 
The Peorias, the most numerous and apparently the wis- 
est, crossed it, and the Omouhoa and others went down 
the stream. Only the Tamaroas with two other tribes or 
sub-tribes remained, and upon them the relentless war- 
riors of the Five Nations wreaked their vengeance, leav- 
ing behind them horrible proofs of their demoniac 
cruelty. Afterwards it was said that the warriors who 
went northward and there battled with the Sioux, 
returned and had several engagements with the Iroquois 
with equal loss on both sides, but finally the greater part 
of the Illinois retired beyond the Mississippi among the 
Osages, two hundred leagues from their own country, 
but even to this distant refuge some of the Iroquois pur- 
sued them. 102 No trace of the French being found, La 
Salle pushed forward to the Mississippi, whose swollen 
stream he now saw probably for the first time. On a 
rock to the left of the mouth of the Illinois he trimmed 
a young tree, and nailed to its trunk a board on which he 
painted a canoe and a calumet as a sign of peace, and 
attached a letter to Tonty, telling him of his own return 
to the village, and that he had hidden near by a supply of 
hatchets, knives and other supplies of use to him if he 
were with the savages. D'Autray and the other men 
now proposed to descend the great river and to risk their 
lives to achieve the great discovery which they knew their 
leader had so much at heart. He praised their fearless 
courage and the spirit so akin to his own, but he could not 
thus abandon the men left at the Illinois village, or those 
who were to follow, or give up the search for Tonty, nor 
had they the equipment or the force for such an undertak- 
ing. He assured them that he would accomplish it in 
safety and honor the following spring when all his men 


would be re-united and proper preparation made, but now 
he must retrace his steps. The thin ice was forming on 
the surface of the river on December 7th, when the prow 
of their canoe was turned northward. They urged it for- 
ward with such remarkable speed that they reached the 
Illinois village within four days, and were greeted there 
by their three comrades the night of the nth. During 
the two weeks following, they collected and stored the 
Indian corn which had been scattered about the plain, 
and built sledges to carry their canoes and supplies over 
the ice. As they rested from their work in the evening 
of the 19th, they beheld the great comet of 1680 appear- 
ing above the horizon. Night after night they watched 
its fiery splendors increase until it culminated in the fol- 
lowing month and slowly faded away. During that win- 
ter also they repeatedly saw parhelions or mock suns, 
and on one notable occasion, of which La Salle carefully 
noted the particulars, eight of these were seen besides 
the true sun, and remained visible for hours. 103 

The day after Christmas, they fired the rude fort and 
the cabins which the Iroquois had built at the ruined 
village, that the smoke might attract some of the Illinois 
with news of Tonty, and to advise them of the presence 
of the relief party. It was in vain. The country was 
deserted, and perhaps at that time La Salle and his four 
men were the only human beings in all the region which 
is now comprised in the State of Illinois. They departed 
on December 28th, with three heavily loaded canoes 
which they drew on the sledges over the ice. Six leagues 
below the junction of the Kankakee with the Des Plaines, 
which La Salle says Jolliet named the Divine, they came 
upon a hut missed in their downward voyage, which 
seemed to be one of Tonty' s. Believing then that he had 


not accompanied the savages, and knowing that there 
was no trace of him on the Kankakee, La Salle felt sure 
that he had taken the route of the Des Plaines to Lake 
Michigan ; and resolved to follow him. A league above 
the junction, which he reached January 6, 1681, he left 
all his equipage in charge of D'Autray and the surgeon, 
probably Jean Michel, who volunteered to remain and 
guard it, and proceeded on foot with his five other men. 
The first day's weary tramp through heavy snow brought 
them to another hut on the bank of the stream, where 
La Salle's quick eye fell upon a piece of wood cut with a 
saw, which told him that Tonty must have passed that 
way. From other signs he judged that this was at least 
two months before, and hence it was impossible to over- 
take him. 10 * 

Turning, therefore, in the direction of the St. Joseph, he 
crossed the open country during nineteen days of contin- 
uous snowfall, finding no bark to make a hut and hardly 
wood enough for the evening fires, pressing forward ever 
in advance of his men, and breaking for them a passage 
through the drifts. His chronicler informs us that La 
Salle, who seemed always insensible to every kind of 
fatigue, assured him that he never endured so much cold 
or such suffering as on this memorable journey. At the 
end of January he was again at the mouth of the St. 
Joseph, but did not find there Tonty, who he hoped had 
traversed the Chicago portage to Lake Michigan and 
coasted its southern shore to this meeting place. La 
Forest had arrived with three soldiers and reported that 
the party for whom he had waited had wintered at the 
strait flowing into the west end of Lake Erie, and that he 
had seen from Mackinac a canoe passing by which did not 
stop there but held on its way down Lake Huron. La 


Salle thought this might be Tonty's craft, and eager to 
communicate with him as well as to prevent the news of 
the Iroquois invasion from discouraging his men who 
were in winter quarters, asked for volunteers to carry 
messages to their camp. Two of his comrades, realizing 
that it was only a third of the journey which their com- 
mander had made the preceding spring, willingly under- 
took this task, and set forth on February 2, 1681. 105 

In the midst of these anxieties it was a comfort to La 
Salle to find that the men left at the St. Joseph had faith- 
fully executed his orders. The carpenter had laid the 
keel and shaped the knees of a bark, and squared the 
wood for her sheathing, while his companions had cleared 
a large space of ground for cultivation, and prepared the 
materials for the construction of a barn. The vessel 
might have been completed, had the blacksmith only 
arrived with the saws and the rigging and other supplies, 
which his party were to bring from the storehouse at 
Tiotontaracton, at the foot of Lake Erie, to the River of 
the Miamis. The work done here was the more impor- 
tant as La Salle had concluded to make an establishment 
at this place, and give up that among the Illinois, as he 
feared that the formidable enemies of that tribe would 
never permit their return to their own country. 106 For the 
time it seemed as if they must be left out of his plans, 
and all hope abandoned of maintaining a settlement in 
the land of the Illinois. 

III. Occupation 

Tonty meanwhile was undergoing experiences rivaling 
those of La Salle in interest and in danger. Some six 
weeks after he was left in command of Fort Crevecceur, 


La Chapelle and Le Blanc arrived from Fort Miami, 
bringing the order for the construction of a stronghold 
near the great Indian village. 1 Membre had already 
gone there with his adopted father, Oumahouha, who 
was returning with other savages from their winter 
quarters. Tonty at once ascended the river with a few 
men to commence the new fort and obtain further sup- 
plies. The messengers remained with the rest of the 
party, and the tale of misfortune which they had brought 
from Mackinac was repeated again and again. Le Blanc 
did not hesitate to assure his comrades that La Salle was 
a lost man and would never return to the Illinois country, 
and advised them to shift for themselves, taking pay for 
their arrears of service from the goods at hand. Under 
his lead, about the middle of April, 2 Moyse Hillaret and 
Francois Sauvin, called LaRoze, ship carpenters like him- 
self, and Jean Le Meilleur, nicknamed La Forge, the black- 
smith, forced the magazine at Crevecceur, and carried 
away all the ammunition, provisions and peltries there in 
store. Two other faithless ones, named Petit Bled and 
Boisardenne, on their way to the great village with 
Father Gabriel de La Ribourde, deserted him in the woods 
at night, taking the canoe and spiking the guns of Bois- 
rondet and L'Esperance, who were with them, but not in 
the plot. The six disaffected men seem also to have done 
as much damage as they could at the fort, and then 
departed for Canada. Etienne Renault, known as the 
Parisian, first writing on one of the planks of the bark 
the despairing sentence which La Salle later found partly 
effaced, made haste, with the others, to join Tonty. That 
steadfast man was thus at a blow deprived of everything 
and made utterly dependent upon the savages. But, 
regardless of himself, he thought only of La Salle, and 


forthwith dispatched four of his men, two to take the 
Lake Erie route and two to go by Lake Simcoe, to carry 
the sorrowful tidings to his commander/' Of these La 
Chapelle and Messier, as we have seen, were faithful to 
their trust. The others, Jacques Richon and Jean 
Lemire, overtook and made common cause with the 
deserters. These went by the Illinois, the Kankakee and 
the St. Joseph to Fort Miami, which La Salle had left in 
good order but a little time before, and deliberately 
destroyed it. Thence they coasted Lake Michigan to 
Mackinac, where they were joined by some of those who 
had deserted there, and seized La Salle's furs stored at 
that place. These they deposited at Sault Ste. Marie for 
their own account. Somewhere on their route they met 
the parties of D'Autray and La Forest, and persuaded 
them to abandon the journey to the Illinois, telling them 
that Tonty was dead and Fort Crevecoeur deserted. At 
Niagara they robbed the storehouse and induced the 
guards to go with them. Then they divided into two 
companies, as heretofore related, one making for Albany 
and the other falling into the hands of La Salle, by whom 
Boisardenne and one named Paulmier were shot, and the 
rest of their band imprisoned.* 

By these desertions and the detachments sent to carry 
the news, Tonty's command was reduced to the two 
friars, Ribourde and Membre, and three young men who 
had come from France only the year before, Le Sieur 
Boisrondet, L'Esperance, and Renault. The two latter 
were at first La Salle's personal servants, but the rough 
training of the wilderness soon transformed them into 
hardy voyageurs. Crevecoeur was no longer tenable, and 
the forge and tools which the deserters had not time to 
destroy were removed to the great Indian village. 5 The 


friars labored among the natives who assembled there, 
Membre says, to the number of seven or eight thousand 
souls. An Illinois chieftain named Asapista, with whom 
La Salle had formed a friendship, adopted Ribourde as 
his son and gave him a home and subsistence in the 
Indian fashion in his cabin. His aged comrade thus 
cared for, the more active Membre was free to visit other 
tribes in the pursuit of his calling. He made a journey- 
to the villages of the Miamis along the River St. Joseph 
to learn something of their dispositions, and also went to 
other encampments of the Illinois. He mentions a vil- 
lage of the Kaskaskias situated a little southwest of the 
foot of Lake Michigan, which he called Lake Dauphin, at 
about latitude 41 degrees, 6 perhaps on the Kankakee 
River. He heard of, and possibly visited, the nation of 
the Mascoutens and the Outagamis, who were dwelling 
on the banks of the river called Melleoki, and who had 
their village very near its entrance into Lake Dauphin 
or on the site of the city of Milwaukee. West of these 
again were the Kickapoos and the Ainoves or Iowas, the 
way to whose two villages was up the River Checagoume- 
mant, a name here apparently applied to the Des Plaines. 
Of the Sioux and other distant nations some information 
reached him through the intercourse of the Illinois with 
them. He had little success with any of the savages 
whom he met, finding only cause for chagrin at their 
deplorable state. He could not rely upon any conver- 
sions, and felt great scruples as to the efficacy of native 
baptism after he learned that an Indian whom he calls 
Chassagouache, once duly baptized, had died in the hands 
of the medicine men. abandoned to their superstitions 
and consequently doubly a child of hell — "duplo filium 
gehennae." This backslider was undoubtedly the head- 


chief of the Illinois, already spoken of as Chassagoac, 
who must have died shortly after his memorable inter- 
view with La Salle. 7 

Tonty had expected his commander to return by the 
end of May, and encouraged the Illinois to believe this, 
while he instructed them in the use of firearms and other 
European arts. They were disquieted by a rumor that 
the Miamis were forming a league with the Iroquois 
against them, and he taught them how to defend them- 
selves by palisades and even made them erect a kind of 
little fort with entrenchments. But the summer wore on 
without a word from the absent leader. An Indian of 
the Kiskakon tribe named Winipeg, appeared at the vil- 
lage with a tale of La Salle's death, supported by proofs 
so carefully prepared by his enemies, clerical or commer- 
cial, that Tonty was forced to believe it. His own posi- 
tion was becoming critical, for a story ran among the 
Illinois that La Salle was coming to deliver them to the 
Iroquois to be destroyed, and that Tonty was not a 
Frenchman, but of a nation hostile to the great King. 
The worthy priests meanwhile following their Indians in 
their camps and to the chase, had no greater grievance 
than the lack of wine for the celebration of the mass. 8 
They were rejoiced to supply this want towards the end 
of August from the juice of wild grapes, which began to 
ripen then in clusters of prodigious size, of very agree- 
able taste, and with seeds larger than those of Europe. 
They made a kind of retreat, a league's distance from 
the village near the river, in a cabin in the midst of a 
plain which the savages had sown with grain. Here they 
set up their portable chapel service and performed the 
offices of their faith, with a dusky neophyte in the person 
of the Indian with whom they lodged. This peaceful 


time was destined to be of short duration. Tonty decided 
that it was unsafe to tarry longer, and gathering his 
party set out for Mackinac on September 2, 1680, despite 
the opposition of the natives who suspected some design 
against them. The river, shrunken by summer drought, 
was too low for the passage of a canoe, and the French- 
men very unwillingly were obliged to return. On the 
10th the stream was swollen by a sudden rain, and 
Tonty directed that the canoe should be re-coated with 
gum and everything in readiness to depart the next morn- 
ing. 9 But strange events were at hand to delay the 
execution of this purpose. 

The following day, while the usual quiet pervaded the 
village, a friendly Shawnee, who had left it but the night 
before to go to his home on the Ohio, returned in haste 
with the startling intelligence that he had met an Iro- 
quois army, four or five hundred strong, on the march to 
attack the Illinois. A few hours more would bring them 
to the village, which at once was all confusion and 
uproar. The chiefs, coupling the unwelcome announce- 
ment with Tonty's attempted departure, turned fiercely 
upon him, and asserted that he was in reality a friend of 
the Iroquois and was seeking to destroy the Illinois, just 
as they had been warned by certain Frenchmen who they 
now knew were speaking the truth. 10 It was a critical 
moment for this much-tried man and his few companions, 
alone in the wilderness, beyond the hope of aid, with one 
hostile savage host approaching, and another surround- 
ing them, eager for their blood. But Tonty never lost 
courage. Facing his accusers with a steady eye, he 
simply replied that he would show them that they were 
wrong by joining them with his young men to do 
battle against the Iroquois to the death. The fickle 


crowd, rejoicing at the prospect of such support, at once 
changed their demeanor and hailed him as their leader. 
In better spirits they sent out their spies, who soon 
reported that the Iroquois numbered six or seven hun- 
dred warriors, mostly bearing firearms. The opposing 
forces were unequal, for many of the Illinois were away, 
and there remained barely five hundred, the greater part 
of whom had only bows and arrows. Their young men 
passed the night in feasting, and their women and children 
were sent to a place of safety. At daybreak, in battle 
array, they forded the stream with Tonty, Boisrondet and 
Renault, and climbed the hills opposite the village to the 
great prairie lying beyond. L'Esperance remained at 
their cabin to guard La Salle's papers, which they had 
brought from Crevecoeur. As they reached the open 
space they saw the Iroquois, who were massed in front 
of the woods lining the course of the River Aramoni, 
now called the Vermilion. The Illinois, realizing their 
danger, besought Tonty to hasten to their foes with a col- 
lar of wampum as a sign for a parley, and to make a 
peace with them. The intrepid soldier did not hesitate, 
though he could not speak the Iroquois tongue, and 
crossed the intervening space, accompanied by a single 
Indian, and leaving his arms behind. At a musket shot's 
distance he displayed the collar, the meaning of which 
the Iroquois well knew, but they opened fire notwith- 
standing. Sending back his companion Tonty pressed on 
amid the discharge of the guns, and entered the Iroquois 
lines, resolved to hold his parley and save the Illinois, or 
die in the attempt. 11 A Mohegan chief, a wanderer from 
far New England, serving with the Five Nations, gave 
him a friendly embrace, and, taking the collar from his 
hand, cried out : "It is a Frenchman. ' ' At the word other 


Mohegans gathered to protect him, but one of the Onon- 
dagas, who had been incited against La Salle, either mis- 
taking the ambassador foj- him or not recognizing Tonty 
in his savage garb as a white man at all, gave him a cruel 
stab in the left breast. Others fell upon him, he received 
another wound in the side, and was stripped of his cloth- 
ing and his hat was placed on the end of a gun. The 
young Illinois whom he had ordered to retire, saw as he 
looked back the treatment Tonty was receiving, and when 
the hat was waved aloft fully believed that he had been 
killed. He so announced to the Illinois, who put them- 
selves in motion at once, and boldly advanced to avenge 
the gallant Frenchman, with the brave young Boisron- 
det and Renault at their head. The chiefs of the Iroquois 
meanwhile held a council, squatting in a circle on the 
grass, and Tonty, stunned and bleeding, was brought 
before them. They seated him among them and pro- 
ceeded to interrogate him, while one of them at his back, 
with a knife in his hand, every now and then raised his 
hair as if to take his scalp. Wounded and half naked as 
he was, and able to speak to them only through another 
New England Indian, of the Saco tribe, who acted as 
interpreter, Tonty dauntlessly reproached them for mak- 
ing war upon the Illinois, and threatened them with the 
vengeance of Count Frontenac. 12 

At this juncture the assembly was interrupted by the 
intelligence that the Illinois with their French allies had 
driven back the left wing of the Iroquois and wounded 
nine and slain one. This fortunate diversion changed 
the situation. The chiefs, who a moment before had 
been ready to slay Tonty, now hurriedly assured him that 
he had nothing to fear, and eagerly asked the numbers of 
their opponents. Making the best of the matter, he gave 


them to understand that eleven hundred Indians and 
fifty of the French were arrayed against them. With 
such odds they thought it useless to contend, and begged 
him forthwith to carry a wampum collar from them to 
the Illinois, to urge them to return to their village, to 
send corn to their hungry foes and to make peace. In 
great joy at this unexpected ending of his perilous adven- 
ture, Tonty regained the Illinois lines, though so weak 
from loss of blood that he could hardly stand. The truce 
which both parties desired was readily agreed upon; the 
Iroquois pretended to retrace their steps, and the Illinois 
moved towards the river, bearing Tonty with them. A 
league from the village they met the good priest Mem- 
bra, who in his secluded retreat had been late to hear of 
Tonty's danger, and was now hurrying to stanch his 
wounds or render him the last offices of the Church, if he 
were mortally hurt. The wily Iroquois were meanwhile 
following closely upon the rear detachment of the Illinois 
and becoming mingled with them. Their leaders 
entreated Tonty to prevent this, and, too much exhausted 
to go in person, he sent Membre to deliver his com- 
mands that they should advance no further. They halted 
for the moment, and the man who alone had stayed the 
battle that day struggled through the ford, and, bleeding 
from side and breast and mouth, lay down in the nearest 
cabin. 13 

It was not long before the Iroquois, in constantly 
increasing numbers, began to find their way to the vil- 
lage on the pretext of needing provisions. The Illinois, 
distrusting them, withdrew and went to join their wives 
and children. Their foes burned most of the cabins to 
guard against surprise, and built a rude fort with the 
materials of the others. The Frenchmen at first were 


suffered to remain in a cabin some distance away, per- 
haps the same in which the priests were dwelling, but 
soon were suspected of communicating- with the Illinois, 
and compelled to remove to the Fort. Tonty and Mem- 
bre, with an Iroquois hostage, were sent to induce the 
Illinois to make peace, for Tonty's story of their strength 
was still believed. A young Illinois hostage, however, 
who came to the Iroquois in return, revealed the truth 
to them, and owned that his people had only four hun- 
dred warriors and would gladly give many beaver skins 
and release their Iroquois captives, if only peace could 
be made. The leaders of the Iroquois host, in great 
wrath at the deception practiced upon them, summoned 
Tonty to the fort and upbraided him for his stratagem, 
asking in fine scorn for the eleven hundred warriors and 
fifty Frenchmen of whom he had told them. He admits 
that he had much difficulty in explaining the matter, and 
doubtless many in that throng were ready to take his 
life." But there was something in his utter fearlessness 
which impressed even these ferocious creatures, and his 
appeal to Count Frontenac had weight. It may be, too, 
that the tales of the strange might of his right arm 
invested him in their eyes with supernatural power. 
Never did old Baldwin of Flanders so truly deserve the 
name of Bras de Fer as did this slender, quiet man, who 
had more than once on this perilous journey restored 
order among brawling savages by blows so weighty that 
the recipients with one accord hailed him as a "great med- 
icine," and spread far and wide the fame of him to whom 
they gave a name in their own tongue meaning the man 
with the iron arm. 15 The Iroquois did not harm him, and 
decided to make a false peace with the Illinois, which 
they concluded in their usual fashion with gifts, signify- 


ing that Count Frontenac and La Salle were angry at 
their coming to molest their brethren, and that there- 
after they would act towards them as brothers should. 
They secretly offered presents to Tonty for his consent 
to the overthrow of the Illinois. These he spurned, and 
warned the intended victims to put no faith in their ene- 
mies, who were covertly constructing canoes of elm bark 16 
in order to follow them more easily, and urged them to 
fly to distant parts before they were betrayed. 

The chiefs of the Five Nations, suspecting this inter- 
ference with their plans, but hardly daring to make away 
with Tonty, resolved that his party should leave. Call- 
ing him and Membre to a council, they gave them seats 
and placed before them six packets of beaver skins. 17 The 
first two were to inform Count Frontenac that they would 
not eat his children, and to assuage his wrath for what 
they had already done ; the third was a plaster for Tonty 's 
wound, which they said had been inflicted by a heedless 
youth; the fourth was oil for his and Membre's limbs 
after their lung journeys; the fifth betokened that the 
sun was bright; and the sixth meant that they should 
take advantage of that fact and leave the next day for 
Canada. Tonty sturdily demanded to know when they 
themselves were going away. Their anger rose at this 
implied defiance. Murmurs were heard, and some of 
them replied that they would first devour some of the 
Illinois. Upon this he thrust away their gifts with his 
foot, saying that he would have none of them, since they 
desired to eat the children of Onontio. This, according 
to savage etiquette, was an almost unpardonable affront, 
and so he was told by an Abenaki Indian among them, 
who spoke French. One of the offended dignitaries seized 
Tonty by the arm, and ordered him to retire, and the 



others rising drove him from the council. At once they 
began to sing their war songs as at the opening of a bat- 
tle. Tonty and his comrades went to their cabin and 
passed the night on guard, believing that no quarter 
would be given them, and that they would not live till 
morning, but resolved to make some of their assailants 
bite the dust before their own lives should be taken. 
But again the danger passed by, and at daybreak the Iro- 
quois contented themselves with a peremptory order to 
depart forthwith, only requiring a letter to Count Fron- 
tenac to show that the white men had suffered no harm 
at their hands. This Tonty gave them, taking advantage 
of this means of communication to send to the Governor 
a brief account of what had taken place in the Illinois 
country. 18 

On September 18th Tonty, with the two priests and 
three soldiers, for Boisrondet, Renault and L'Esperance 
had well earned that title, embarked to ascend the river. 
He had done all that mortal could do in most trying 
times, with a valor and a loyalty beyond praise, and only 
withdrew under compulsion and after he had rendered 
every possible service to his allies. Even now his pros- 
pects were far from promising. The party of six had but 
one wretched bark canoe, with little ammunition or pro- 
visions. Tonty believed La Salle to be dead, but desir- 
ing still the success of his plans, took all the beaver skins 
he could carry, to use them in the accomplishment of his 
leader's great project of discovery. 19 Father Ribourde 
threw several of these to the Iroquois, saying that he was 
not there to amass furs, but was persuaded to leave the 
cargo in charge of the secular members of the expedi- 
tion. 20 The next day their sorry craft striking a rock 
and breaking, they were compelled to land about noon 


to repair it, and to dry their clothes and peltries. 21 Father 
Ribourde, seeing before him a beautiful stretch of prairie 
swelling into hills clad with groves of noble trees stand- 
ing in as regular order as if planted by man, bethought 
himself to seek amidst their shades a quiet place for 
prayer and meditation. Setting forth with his breviary 
in his hand, he told Tonty of his purpose, and was 
warned not to stray far away, because they were not yet 
safe from their enemies. The others were busy with the 
canoe until evening, when, alarmed at their companion's 
failure to return, they went in search of him, and fired 
their guns repeatedly to direct him to them. Tonty fol- 
lowed his footprints for a mile or more, until these were 
lost among the fresh tracks of a number of persons, and 
no further trace could be found. Returning with this 
sad news, all felt that the good priest had been killed or 
taken prisoner, and that they themselves were in danger. 
They crossed the river in the canoe, leaving its lading on 
the bank, and keeping watch through the night, saw sev- 
eral human forms prowling about their camp fire on the 
opposite shore. In the morning they re-crossed and waited 
until noon, but no one came. Upon searching the woods 
they found signs of ambuscades, which made it perilous 
to remain longer. At three in the afternoon they 
embarked, designing to proceed by short journeys, in the 
hope that the missing one might escape or might only 
have lost his way, and would be able to overtake them. 
It was barely possible, too, that he had preceded them 
along the bank, but they looked in vain for the familiar 
form at every bend of the stream. Later they learned 
that their comrade had met his fate soon after leaving 
them, at the hands of some cowardly Kickapoos, skulking 
in the rear of the Iroquois, with whom they professed to 


be at war. Three of them in the advance came upon the 
venerable man at his devotions in the woods, and cruelly 
pierced him with arrows and took his scalp. This they 
bore in triumph to their village, pretending it was that 
of an Iroquois, and carried thither also his breviary and 
rosary, which ultimately fell into the hands of a Jesuit 
missionary, who ascertained the particulars of the death 
of Ribourde. His body, hidden by his slayers, was found 
by some of the Illinois, who bore it reverently to their 
village, where they buried it in their manner, doing honor 
to him who had gone among them for their good. 22 So 
perished the first martyr upon Illinois soil, Gabriel de La 
Ribourde. He was in the sixty-fourth year of his age, 
the only male child and heir of a gentleman of Burgundy, 
and noted in France and in Canada for his saintliness and 
devotion to the mission cause, for which he gave up home 
and friends, fortune and life. He had for a long time, in 
his extreme grief at the utter blindness of the natives, 
declared that he longed to be sacrificed for their salva- 
tion. His colleague, mourning his loss, yet believed that 
he would not have wished for a happier fate than to die 
in the exercise of his apostolic functions, by the hands of 
those to whom he had been sent. Somewhere on the 
south bank of the Illinois River, midway between the 
Fox and the Des Plaines, is the place where closed the 
noble career of this Apostle of the West. 

His late associates went sorrowfully forward, but ere 
they reached their journey's end they almost rejoiced that 
he had been spared the terrible sufferings they were 
forced to endure. The next evening they heard a shot 
in the woods near them, and stood to their arms all night, 
believing that they were pursued. Arriving at the junc- 
tion of the Kankakee and the Des Plaines, they took the 


latter stream, which they called the Divine, as Jolliet had 
done. Tonty left no mark there of their passing, for 
which he was afterwards blamed, but he doubtless 
thought it useless, because so certain that his commander 
was dead, and that no other man could come to his relief. 
La Salle and La Forest were at this very time at Mack- 
inac, urgently preparing an expedition to the Illinois. 
Had Tonty taken the route of the Kankakee and St. 
Joseph and the eastern shore of Lake Michigan to Mack- 
inac, as he first intended, he would have met them by 
the way. But he had no means of knowing this, and the 
lateness of the season and his scanty equipment naturally 
led him to think it best to make for the nearest French 
settlement, the Mission of St. Francois Xavier at Green 
Bay. Soon after entering the Des Plaines need of food 
obliged Tonty, although suffering from a severe attack of 
fever, to seek for game. He was fortunate enough to kill 
a buffalo, and laden with its meat returned to camp 
exhausted. A little rest was necessary, but the best 
canoeman, Renault, alarmed at the prospect of delay, 
wished to leave the others and push forward by land 
alone. Tonty nobly gave him full permission, but Father 
Membre* would not suffer it, and shamed him into remain- 
ing. The party soon moved onward along the winding 
Des Plaines, until they reached a shallow valley leading 
eastward, and through it came to Mud Lake, and by a 
portage to the south branch of the Chicago River, 2S pass- 
ing on its waters the hillock on which Marquette had 
wintered six years before. This was Tonty's first visit 
to the site of Chicago, and on the roll of the early explor- 
ers associated with it his name comes next after those of 
Jolliet and Marquette and La Salle. Doubtless more 
than one enterprising coureur de bois, or voyageur, by 


this time knew the place well, but their names have not 
come down to us. 

The little band followed the Chicago River, also known 
like the Des Plaines as the Divine, by its long southward 
bend to the waves of Lake Michigan. Then turning 
northward they coasted the western shore, while Tonty's 
increasing fever and swollen limbs made him almost help- 
less. On the evening of November 1st a sudden gale 
wrecked their canoe on the beach. Too feeble to carry 
their peltries, they placed them in a cache or underground 
hiding place, which Boisrondet, with food for ten days, 
was left to guard. The other four sought to go afoot to 
the Pottawattamie village, believed to be but eight 
leagues distant. It was really twenty leagues away, and 
their provisions soon gave out. They lived on acorns 
and wild garlic found under the snow, and Tonty's con- 
dition made their progress very slow, especially through 
the great ravines which crossed their path. Saint Mar- 
tin's Day, the nth of November, they came upon the 
skin and feet of a deer left by the wolves, and made a 
feast of these at the Pottawattamie village, which they 
reached only to find it deserted. Halting here, they 
devoured the leather straps of the lodge poles, and even a 
shield of buffalo hide discarded by some savage warrior. 
By good fortune they discovered a quantity of frozen 
squashes and stored them for future use in a cabin by the 
lake. They took for their habitation another cabin in the 
woods on a hill, where they found a little Indian corn and 
roasted it for food. Disappointed at not meeting the 
friendly tribe on which they had relied for aid to reach 
Green Bay, they determined that their only course was 
to go to Mackinac, and to leave Boisrondet to his fate, 
since it was impossible to return with supplies to him. 


They had repaired an old canoe left in the village by the 
Pottawattamies, and were preparing to depart when a 
noise was heard in the cabin by the lake, and their miss- 
ing comrade suddenly appeared. He had set out to follow 
his companions, missed the way, and wandered for ten 
days in the wintry wastes. He had exhausted his supply 
of bullets and lost his gun flint, but melted a pewter cup 
into slugs and discharged his piece with a firebrand, and 
so managed to kill some wild turkeys, on which he sub- 
sisted until he came to the village. At the shore cabin 
he fancied that the store of provisions had been left for 
him by his friends at their departure, and had regaled 
himself with these for three days before he discovered 
their proximity. They felt great joy at seeing him, and 
great sadness at the diminution of their small supply of 
portable food. 2 * 

The recruited party once more embarked and paddled 
northward for a few hours, when a great wind compelled 
them to land. Fresh footprints and a beaten trail showed 
them the way to a portage of about a league, over which 
they with difficulty dragged their canoe and its contents 
the next day. They followed Sturgeon Creek into Green 
Bay, and went northward again in the hope of finding 
the savages, who seemed ever just before them. At the 
distance of two leagues some cabins were seen which 
apparently had been but recently abandoned. The next 
day they made five leagues more, but a northeast wind, 
with a heavy fall of snow, stayed their progress for five 
days, in which their scanty stock of provisions was 
entirely consumed. Despairing of overtaking the natives 
they determined to return to the Pottawattamie village, 
where there was wood and shelter, so that they could at 
least die warm. Re-entering Sturgeon Creek, they saw 


the smoke of a fire, and joyfully hastened to it, to be 
again disappointed, as there was no one there. They 
encamped, thinking to follow the elusive savages back to 
the village in the morning, but the creek froze in the 
night so solidly that they could not use their canoe. To 
go on foot it was necessary to replace their wornout 
shoes, and they set about making these from poor Father 
Gabriel's cloak. Tonty reproved Renault for delaying 
his portion of the task, which prevented their starting as 
soon as they had expected. He excused himself because 
of indigestion resulting from his breakfast of a piece of 
the rawhide shield. The next day, December 4th, while 
Tonty was pressing him to finish his shoes, and he was 
still excusing himself on the score of illness, it proved 
that this delay was the cause of their being saved. Two 
Kiskakon Indians, on their way to the place where the 
Pottawattamies were encamped, noticed the smoke of the 
Frenchmen's campfire, and landed to investigate. When 
the poor wretches saw them they made a great rejoicing, 
and most gladly went with them to the Pottawattamies, 
who were only two leagues distant. Had the white men 
gone to the deserted village they must have perished there 
for lack of food. Now they found themselves among 
friends, and some of their own race, for five French 
hunters, who were wintering with these Indians, vied with 
them in ministering to the wants of this forlorn company. 
The chief, Onanghisse, well known among all the tribes of 
that region, welcomed them most cordially and harangued 
his people in their behalf. He was the same who met 
La Salle at the entrance of Green Bay the year before, 
and was so impressed by him that he used to say that he 
knew only three great captains, Monsieur de Frontenac, 
Monsieur de La Salle and himself. 


Thus, as Tonty says, from the dire need in which they 
had been, they came at once into abundance after thirty- 
four days of terrible want. Since the wreck of their first 
canoe until now they had suffered everything but death. 

We may well believe Father Membre when he tells us 
that not one of them could stand for weakness ; that they 
were all like skeletons, and that Tonty was extremely ill. 
When recruited a little the priest joined some natives 
going to the Mission of St. Francois Xavier, and after 
further great hardships reached the home of the Jesuit 
Fathers, who received him very kindly. Tonty spent 
the winter with the friendly Pottawattamies, who cared 
for him assiduously, and seems later to have followed 
Membre to the little mission settlement at the head of 
Green Bay. 25 Thus was completed another of those ardu- 
ous journeys which characterize the early history of Illi- 
nois, and one which resulted directly from the first 
attempt to establish civilization within its borders. For 
heroic endurance it can hardly be surpassed in any 

While Tonty and his companions were toiling north- 
ward, the great Illinois village had become a scene of 
desolation. Even before his departure the Iroquois had 
begun to destroy the corn stored there and to desecrate 
its burial places. They continued their ghoulish work 
until they set out to follow the fleeing Illinois down the 
river. Later a band of Kickapoos, dogging the steps of 
the Iroquois as jackals those of a lion, and probably the 
same who had slain the blameless Ribourde, completed 
the devastation which La Salle found there in the suc- 
ceeding December. Some of the Illinois fugitives, 
among whom apparently was the native assistant of Mem- 
bre and Ribourde, in their rude chapel near the great vil- 


lage, went northward, and ultimately reached Green Bay. 
They brought the chalice and sacerdotal vestments from 
this chapel, with reverent care, to the Mission of St. 
Francois Xavier. Here Hennepin obtained them on his 
return, late in 1680, from his adventurous journey to the 
country of the Sioux, and thus was enabled to celebrate 
the mass for his party. 26 

The cause of this Iroquois raid, which utterly depopu- 
lated the land of the Illinois, and brought La Salle's plans 
to naught for a time, was threefold. The' first is found 
in the character of the famous confederacy of the Five 
Nations, well described in the contemporary chronicle of 
the enterprises of La Salle. The five tribes inhabiting 
central New York, between the Hudson and the Niagara, 
and collectively named Iroquois by the French, were 
known among themselves as Hodenosaunee, or People of 
the Long House, of which the Ganeagaono or Mohawks 
kept the eastern door, and thence westward in order were 
the Onayotekaono or Oneidas, the Onundagaono or Onon- 
dagas, the Gweugwehono or Cayugas, and the Nundawa- 
ono or Senecas. The French synonyms for their sepa- 
rate tribal names were Agniers, Onneiouts, Onnontagues, 
Oiogouins, and Tsonnontouans, the last and westernmost 
being the most powerful of all. The Iroquois lived in 
perfect harmony themselves, but were almost always 
embroiled with other people. They were politic, artful, 
perfidious, vindictive and indescribably cruel. Though 
numbering but twenty-five hundred warriors, their supe- 
rior weapons and experience in warfare had enabled them 
to defeat and finally to exterminate all their neighbors. 
They had carried their arms on every side eight hundred 
leagues around, from the Gulf of St. Lawrence on the 
north to Florida on the south, and beyond the Mississippi 


on the west. They had destroyed more than thirty 
nations, caused the death of more than six hundred thou- 
sand persons within eighty years, and rendered the 
country about the Great Lakes a desert. Some twenty 
years before the period under consideration, they had 
made an expedition against the Outagamis in Wiscon- 
sin, and on their way came in contact with the Illinois 
and killed a number of them. These hostilities were 
renewed in succeeding years, until the Illinois were 
forced to abandon their country and retire across the Mis- 
sissippi. Later the Iroquois had made war upon and 
entirely destroyed the Andastes, a powerful people 
dwelling on the lower Susquehanna. The southern tribes 
had submitted to their despotic rule, and those of the 
north were under the protection of the French. Hence, 
when they sought fresh occupation for their blood-stained 
weapons, these insatiable demons naturally turned their 
restless eyes westward. The Miamis and the Illinois 
were their nearest prey. The former were just establish- 
ing themselves on the banks of the St. Joseph. The lat- 
ter, while the Iroquois were busied elsewhere, had 
returned to their own land, and recently had cut off small 
parties of their dreaded foemen coming thither in scorn- 
ful confidence to hunt the beaver. Together the two 
western tribes might have withstood the onslaught, but 
the crafty sachems of the Five Nations skillfully plotted 
to array them against each other, and made their own 
losses at the hands of the Illinois the pretext for the 
war. 27 

Next to the savage desire of the Iroquois to devour new 
nations, the commercial interests involved tended to set 
their gory hordes in motion. Situated as they were 
between the English and the French, and alternately 



conspiring against and dealing with the one and the 
other, they controlled the exchange of furs for the liquor 
and ammunition which only the white men could fur- 
nish. As the supply of beaver and other animals 
decreased in their neighborhood, they were forced to 
seek new hunting fields and to wrest them from their 
native owners. To this also they were urged by the 
secret advices of the English governor of New York, who 
saw with concern the increasing trade between the west- 
ern tribes and the French at Montreal, and trusted 
through the Iroquois to turn it to his own colony. Fur- 
thermore, La Salle's plans were opposed to the interests 
of the middlemen and dealers in peltries among his own 
nation. 28 They feared the monopoly he might establish 
under his royal patent, and his direct dispatch of furs to 
the home market either by sea or by his own vessels on 
the Great Lakes. Then, too, the news of the discoveries 
made by the early visitors to the country of the Illinois 
had spread rapidly, and already many coureurs de bois 
had found their way to this wonderful land. 29 These 
poachers on La Salle's preserves joined with the mer- 
chants who employed them, to arouse the Iroquois against 
him and his allies. Evidence of this had come to La 
Salle's knowledge before leaving Fort Frontenac on his 
first journey to the Illinois country, and further proofs 
were afforded during his visit to the Senecas near the 
Niagara River, when he secured their consent to the 
building of Le Griffon. He found there an embassy 
from the Miamis, sent to arrange concert of action with 
the Iroquois, bearing letters from some Frenchmen who 
were ill disposed to him. There was good reason to 
believe that these enemies of his own race were seeking 
to bring about the direct destruction of La Salle and his 


party, or to accomplish the same end by embroiling them 
with the Iroquois. 30 

Lastly, combined with this commercial opposition to 
La Salle, was the clerical enmity he had provoked, and 
which sometimes, perhaps unwittingly, supplied fuel to 
Iroquois wrath. Count Frontenac was a bitter opponent 
of the Jesuits, and to La Salle, as his protege\ they were 
hostile. His plans of colonization and trade, moreover, 
were opposed to theirs, since they desired to be both 
church and state in the wilderness, and to control it abso- 
lutely. Father Allouez' withdrawal from the great Illi- 
nois village at the approach of La Salle certainly indicated 
opposition if not hostility. That it was the latter feeling 
was shown by this priest's resorting to the Miamis and 
furnishing the information with which the chief Monso 
attempted to array the Illinois against La Salle, and suc- 
ceeded in leading away the deserters at Pimiteoui. 
Allouez again visited the Illinois while the bold French 
leader was absent on his marvelous journey to Fort Fron- 
tenac, and incited the natives against both La Salle and 
Tonty, and is directly charged with giving aid and com- 
fort to the Crevecoeur deserters, blessing their bullets 
and predicting a broken head for the valiant soldier whom 
they had left in such extremity. 31 In the same line were 
the protection given by the Jesuits at Sault Ste. Marie to 
these men and to their ill-gotten gains, and the preven- 
tion by the missionaries at Mackinac of La Salle's obtain- 
ing supplies there on his second voyage to the Illinois 
country. 32 To the Jesuits was due the settlement of the 
Miamis along the River St. Joseph. They were induced 
to remove from beyond the Mississippi by the gifts and 
persuasion of the Jesuit Fathers, who had such influence 
with them as to induce them to agree to remain neutral 


in the impending -war between the Iroquois and the Illi- 
nois. This exactly suited the crafty sachems of the Five 
Nations, who moreover induced some of the Miamis, as 
we have seen, to become members of their war party. 
And so strong was the bias of the Jesuit missionaries in 
favor of the Iroquois, that several of these savage war- 
riors, when setting out on their campaign against the 
Illinois, were furnished by the priests in their villages 
with certificates intended as safeguards in case they were 
taken prisoners. Whatever the real animus of the order 
was, these and other circumstances of like tenor caused 
the Illinois to firmly believe that the "black robes" were 
opposed to them and to the Frenchmen in alliance with 
them. 33 

Against such opposing forces it might well have seemed 
useless to contend. The last and bitterest drop was 
added to La Salle's cup of sorrow, when a Huron named 
Scortas arrived at the lonely post at the mouth of the St. 
Joseph with the intelligence that Tonty had been burned 
at the stake by the Illinois. This falsehood, deliberately 
contrived, as it afterwards appeared, by his enemies, con- 
vinced him for the time that his faithful lieutenant was 
no more. 3 * And thus these two brave men, one at Green 
Bay and one at Fort Miami, were each mourning the 
other's death in the early days of the year 1681. During 
La Salle's recent absence from Fort Miami, twenty or 
thirty savages of different tribes which had been at war 
with the English colonies on the seaboard, wandering 
westward, had found their way to this post. They 
intended to join themselves to the Iroquois, but were per- 
suaded to delay the execution of their design until La 
Salle's return, by Nanangoucy, who, like themselves, was 
a fugitive from the east. This savage, apprised of La 


Salle's approach by one of his dogs, which ran before him 
to the fort, made haste to meet him, and to inform him 
of the situation. He told La Salle that these strangers, 
with about thirty others who were on the way, would join 
hirn either at the Illinois or among the Miamis, as he 
chose, and only asked that he would make his informant 
chief of the band. La Salle entrusted the matter to his 
own native attendant, Ouiouilamech, the son of the chief 
of a village of New England Indians not far from Boston, 
who had lived at the west for four years, and during the 
past two had followed the fortunes of the French com- 
mander with unswerving fidelity. Through him was 
unfolded to these wanderers a plan for a firm union 
between them, the Miamis and the Illinois, under La 
Salle's leadership, which they received with joy. 35 

The Miamis were soon disposed to favor the new alli- 
ance by the insolent conduct of the Iroquois. These 
haughty warriors, after their slaughter of the Tamaroas 
and pursuit of the other tribes, returned by the River 
Ohio, or Baudrane, as La Salle called it, and encamped 
in the Miami country. Here, in mere wantonness, they 
slew or took captive twenty of that tribe, and establishing 
themselves in three strong forts, mocked at the Miamis, 
who demanded redress, and after accepting gifts of three 
thousand beaver skins as ransom for their prisoners, 
refused to release them. A gallant chief of the Kaskas- 
kia tribe, named Paessa, who had been absent on a war 
party at the time of inroad of the Iroquois, now came to 
seek vengeance upon them with a band of a hundred of 
his tribesmen, and attacked these forts. The battle 
raged all day, and the Illinois made three desperate 
charges, but Paessa and fourteen of his bravest comrades 
were slain, with eight of the Iroquois, and both sides 


retired from the conflict. The rest of the Illinois boldly 
pursued their way towards Lake Erie to cut off Iroquois 
hunting parties there. This exhibition of valor also 
impressed the Miamis with the importance of a reconcili- 
ation with their ill-treated neighbors, who might visit 
upon them condign punishment for their furtherance of 
the Iroquois invasion. About this time a Shawnee chief- 
tain of a band of one hundred and fifty warriors dwelling 
on one of the rivers flowing into the Ohio, having heard 
of La Salle's arrival, sent to request that his people might 
be placed under the guardianship of the French King. 
La Salle replied that his country was too distant to receive 
aid from Canada, but that if the chief chose to join him 
in the autumn to go to the sea, he would assure him of the 
royal protection. The Shawnee promised to be at the 
mouth of the St. Joseph at the time appointed with as 
many as possible of his band. 36 

La Salle could delay no longer his return to the assist- 
ance of D'Autray and the surgeon Michel, who were 
keeping their lonely watch over the merchandise left on 
the banks of the Des Plaines. Furthermore, he desired 
to obtain the supplies of corn which he had stored, prob- 
ably at the great Illinois village during his last stay there, 
for the support of those whom he had resolved to leave 
at the mouth of the St. Joseph during the summer, that 
they might rebuild Fort Miami. And he wished also to 
find the Illinois and secure their adherence to his new 
scheme. Accordingly he set forth on the 1st of March, 
1 68 1, for the village, with all of his men, including Le 
Blanc and the five other Frenchmen who had remained 
at the river mouth, the four who had but a month before 
returned there with La Salle, and La Forest and the three 
men who came with him, fifteen in all. Two savages, 


Ouiouilamech and another, probably Nanangoucy, 
accompanied the party. They traveled on snowshoes 
over the smooth white crust, their dogs captured before 
their eyes deer and other game sufficient for their wants, 
and they made rapid progress until the reflection of the 
sun from the frozen surface made La Salle and some of 
his men snow-blind. He was compelled to encamp for 
three days, but sent forward most of his companions, 
keeping with him only the two savages and You and 
Hunault. The latter discovered a fresh trail of strange 
Indians, which he and Ouiouilamech followed for three 
days and overtook a hunting party of eighty Outagamis 
or Foxes, whose home was in the Green Bay region. 
These received them very well, and informed them of the 
arrival of Tonty at the Pottawattamie encampment, and 
the return of Hennepin, Ako and Du Gay from the land 
of the Sioux. This fortunate intelligence borne quickly 
back to La Salle rejoiced his heart, and he was soon able 
to resume his journey. The melting ice rendering nav- 
igation possible, they proceeded in canoes. On March 
15th they reached the great village of the Illinois, and 
met there ten of that tribe mourning over their ruined 
homes. La Salle consoled them with presents, exhorted 
them to make peace with the Miamis, and told them of 
his design to tinite the several tribes. He listened with 
sympathy to their tale of the woes they had suffered at 
the hands of the Iroquois, and received from them papers 
showing the complicity of the Jesuits with their enemies. 
The Illinois with gratitude for his plans in their behalf, 
heartily approved of them and passed the rest of the day 
in feasting and dancing. The next day they loaded their 
canoes with a hundred minots of corn, and ascended the 
river to the place where D'Autray and his associate 


awaited their welcome arrival. Hence La Salle sent a 
canoe party by the River Divine, or Des Plaines, and the 
Chicago portage and along Lake Michigan's western 
shore to find Tonty among the Pottawattamies, and to 
bring back La Salle's papers if perchance they had been 
saved. The others returned to the junction of the Kan- 
kakee and followed its winding course to the portage, and 
so along the River of the Miamis to its mouth, where they 
found everything in good condition, though unguarded 
since their departure. 37 

Immediately upon their arrival here La Salle dis- 
patched La Forest and four men in a canoe to find the 
blacksmith and his companions, who had wintered at the 
Detroit, and to request Tonty, in case he found him at 
Mackinac, to await La Salle there. La Forest met the 
delayed party at Mackinac, but learned that Tonty was 
still at Green Bay, and sent Jacques Messier, Pierre You 
and Andre Masse to meet him, with a canoe load of mer- 
chandise to repay the friendly Pottawattamies and their 
chief Onanghisse for their care of the Frenchmen. 
Meanwhile the New England Indians, described by La 
Salle as the savages from Boston, "Les Sauvages de Bas- 
ton," notified him that they were waiting at the Miami 
village to conclude the proposed treaty. He left a part 
of his men to clear the ground for cultivation and to pre- 
pare materials for the rebuilding of the fort, and with the 
rest ascended the St. Joseph to the Kankakee portage. 
He found there three Iroquois emissaries urging the Mia- 
mis to make war upon the Illinois. These he treated so 
haughtily that a sudden terror fell upon them and they 
decamped in the night. Their flight gave the Miamis a 
new sense of the power of the French leader, of whom 
the Iroquois, who had not feared their whole nation, 


showed such dread. He first assembled the eastern 
Indians, among whom seven or eight tribes were repre- 
sented. Fugitives from King Philip's war and from 
border conflicts with the white men from Maine to Vir- 
ginia were here, homeless wanderers in the forests for 
years, who joyously acceded to the proposition that they 
should establish themselves permanently at the west. 
Thirty Mohegans from among them attended La Salle 
like a bodyguard the next day when he held a solemn 
parley with the Miamis, observing all the ceremony so 
dear to their barbaric hearts. Many presents were given 
each with its symbolic meaning appropriate to the occa- 
sion, and La Salle made a master stroke when he 
announced that the spirit of their dead chief, Ouabi- 
colcata, had entered into his person, and that hereafter 
he should be called by that name and not Okimao, which 
had been his title among the Miamis. They made sim- 
ilar presents in return, and sealed the treaty with dances 
and feasts. Three days later the Frenchmen returned to 
the mouth of the river, whence La Salle persuaded his 
eastern allies to send two of their number, named Oua- 
bach and Amabauso, with presents of beaver skins to 
their respective tribes, to invite them to join him. This 
done he embarked on May 25th for Mackinac, and passed 
on the way the remainder of the blacksmith's party at 
last en route for Fort Miami. 38 

Tonty coming from Green Bay with his associates and 
Father Enjalran, of the St. Francois Mission, reached 
Mackinac on the eve of Corpus Christi, June 4, 1681, and 
La Salle came there the next day. The two heroes who 
had parted more than fourteen months before on the 
banks of the Illinois, and had each believed the other 
dead, greeted one another as if returned from the spirit 


land. The good father Membre, in his narration, leaves 
us to conceive their mutual joy chastened though it was 
by their accounts of the tragical adventures which had 
happened to both. La Forest had been charged to pro- 
ceed to Fort Frontenac as fast as possible, to exchange 
his peltries for supplies and ammunition, and to return 
to Mackinac by the last of May. He did not appear, and 
therefore La Salle, Tonty, Membre and their men set out 
themselves for Frontenac by the route of Lake Simcoe. 
At Teioiagon, Tonty, with three of the party, encamped 
on an island while the others went forward, expecting 
soon to return. At Fort Frontenac they found the 
laggard La Forest attending to other matters and not 
realizing the consequences of his delay. Letters from 
Count Frontenac awaited La Salle, summoning him to 
Montreal, whither he went at once, and although he 
missed the Count, his secretary, Barrois, assisted him to 
satisfy his creditors, and even to obtain fresh aid from 
them. His cousin Frangois Plet was also of signal serv- 
ice in preserving his seignory at Frontenac against the 
efforts of those who wished to deprive him of it, and in 
gratitude and recompense he executed at Montreal, Aug- 
ust 11, 168 1, a will bequeathing to Plet this seignory and 
all of La Salle's rights in the country of the Miamis, the 
Illinois and the regions of the South, and his other prop- 
erty. He had intended to make his voyage to the sea the 
same season, but his Montreal trip delayed hirn too long. 
Returning to Frontenac as soon as possible, he sent a 
brigantine to Teioiagon, conveying Father Membr£, bear- 
ing letters to Tonty directing him to go to the Miami 
country, and to assemble there as large a party of French 
and Indians as possible. The untiring soldier and the 
intrepid priest set forth at once, and were among the 


Miamis by the ioth of November. La Salle followed, 
leaving- La Forest in command at Frontenac, but delayed 
by a fifteen days' portage of his merchandise to Lake 
Simcoe, and an epidemic of fever among his men, both 
red and white alike, he did not reach Fort Miami until 
December 19 th.* 9 

As their commander landed at the appointed meeting 
place, Tonty and Membre and two of their men came to 
greet him. Five others, among whom was the interpre- 
ter, disheartened by malicious tales of the dangers of the 
Mississippi, had stolen off, and were in hiding along a 
neighboring river. The remainder of the detachment, 
by their leader's orders, were hunting fifty leagues away 
on the Illinois plains, to obtain supplies of food. La Salle 
brought with him ten Frenchmen as well as four savages 
hired for the voyage, and employed fourteen others for 
the same service from among those at Fort Miami, 
promising each a hundred beaver skins as his wages. 
These eighteen Indians were all from New England, 
belonging to the Mohegan, Abenaqui and Saco tribes, 
and with them were ten squaws and three children. The 
frozen river barred the usual route by the Kankakee 
portage, and after waiting till December 21st, in the 
hope of a timely thaw, Tonty embarked on Lake Michi- 
gan with most of the party and Membre, "to go," as the 
latter says, "towards the Divine River, called by the 
Indians Checagou. " Three days' journey brought them 
to the Chicago portage and after one day's canoeing 
down the stream called by them the Checagou, now the 
Des Plaines, the increasing firmness of the ice prevented 
further navigation. Tonty, ever ready for an emergency, 
established a winter camp, and set his command at work 
to build sledges for the transportation of the canoes and 


their lading. These were made of the hardest wood 
found in the forests along the river, such as the wild 
cherry, maple or walnut, the side pieces smoothly pol- 
ished, curved in front and connected by three cross bars 
on which the load was placed. A man, harnessed to one 
by a neck collar attached to the runners, could readily 
draw a hundred or a hundred and fifty pounds weight 
eight or ten leagues a day. La Salle meanwhile, with a 
few assistants, was constructing caches in the sand ridges 
at the mouth of the St. Joseph, placing in deep excava- 
tions his surplus commodities in boxes, lined and covered 
with sheets of birch bark, supported on stakes and pro- 
tected with heavy timbers, above which the sand was 
heaped high, and every trace of human presence care- 
fully effaced. These completed, he left Fort Miami on 
December 28th, by the lake route, following his vanguard 
to the Chicago portage, where winter storms arrested his 
progress. New Year's Day, 1682, he passed upon the site 
of the future metropolis snow-bound, looking out upon a 
dreary waste of which his little party were the sole inhab- 
itants. This probably was the first time La Salle trav- 
ersed the site of Chicago, although he may have touched 
the lake shore at some point now within the city limits 
on his journey along the western shore of Lake Michigan 
in 1679. Delayed here by the drifts for several days, he 
was able at length to proceed on foot, and reached the 
place where Tonty awaited him on the 6th of January. 40 

The sledges completed, these were loaded with the 
canoes, provisions, ammunition, and one of the French- 
men disabled by a wound, and the march commenced 
along the icy surface of the river. On the 10th of the 
month they reached the junction of the Kankakee, where 
the trail of Tonty' s hunters was discovered. Search was 


made, and one of the parties was found. Two others had 
gone to the river St. Joseph, to obtain news of La Salle. 
They returned on the nth, and as the remainder of this 
detachment were expected soon, the main body moved 
forward by short journeys, leaving provisions for the 
others, and directions to follow. In a day or two more 
the whole company were gathered together, twenty-three 
Frenchmen and thirty-one savages in all. Tonty appro- 
priately takes this occasion to record in his narrative the 
roster of the expedition which had undertaken so great 
an enterprise. We read there next after La Salle, Mem- 
bre and Tonty, the names so honorably associated with 
the early history of Illinois, of Tonty's gallant comrade, 
the young Sieur Frangois de Boisrondet, and of the ever 
faithful Jacques Bourdon, Sieur d 'Autray. There, too, 
are three of La Salle's companions on that trying winter 
journey from Crevecoeur to Frontenac, Hunault, La Vio- 
lette, and Collin Crevel ; two of the party sent from Niag- 
ara to Tonty's relief, Pierre You and Jean du Lignon, the 
repentant deserter Gabriel Barbier or Minime; and others 
of whom we first hear by this list. Of these was the 
young Nicolas de La Salle, a son of a French Commis- 
sary of Marine, not a relative of the discoverer, whose 
narrative of this expedition we have, and who was, later, 
to be associated with the early history of Louisiana, and 
Pierre Prudhomme, the armorer for whom a fort on the 
Mississippi was to be named. The Indian contingent was 
commanded by Clance, a Mohegan chief, who had been 
prominent at the conclave of the New England savages 
at the Kankakee portage. In single file along the frozen 
Illinois, which Membre also calls the Seignelay, dragging 
their weighty burdens, they plodded stoutly on, passing, 
with no desire to halt, the ruins of the great Illinois vil- 


lage, silent and tenantless. Arriving January 25th at 
Fort Crevecoeur, which was in fair condition, they found 
the river open, and halted that their Indian allies might 
make for themselves canoes of elm bark. Then exchang- 
ing the collar for the paddle, they embai"ked again, and 
on the 6th of February saw before them the mighty 
stream of the Mississippi, to which La Salle gave the 
name of the great minister Colbert." 

Here a week's delay was caused by the ice, which made 
the navigation of the great river perilous, and also 
impeded the Indians, who had fallen behind in the jour- 
ney from Crevecoeur. When they joined the others, they 
were obliged to build more canoes, and so failed to obtain 
sufficient supplies of game. The Frenchmen resorted to 
fishing, and caught a huge creature, doubtless of the 
catfish species, of such extraordinary size, says Tonty, 
that it furnished meat sufficient for soup for twenty-two 
men. On the 13th they floated otit upon the stream of 
the Mississippi, and turning towards the sea, encoun- 
tered at a distance of six leagues or more, the furious 
current of the great river coming from the west, called 
by them the Emissourita, or Missouri, and also the River 
of the Osages. They landed near its mouth, and repeated 
around their campfires tales told by the savages of its 
great size and length, its sources in the far-off mountains, 
and the numerous peoples on its banks, some of whom 
waged war and hunted the buffalo on horseback. The 
next day, gliding past the high tableland on which the 
city of St. Louis was to be founded almost a century 
later, they came to the great village of the Tamaroas on 
the east bank, probably near the site of the present town 
of Cahokia. It contained one hundred and twenty cabins, 
all abandoned like those of the chief settlement of the 


Illinois. Here La Salle left marks to indicate that he 
was traveling towards the sea on a peaceful errand, and 
suspended from posts gifts of merchandise for the inhab- 
itants if they returned. Such was the terror inspired by 
the Iroquois that the country along the river for a hun- 
dred leagues below the mouth of the Illinois was entirely 
deserted. Two leagues beyond the Tamaroas the expe- 
dition went into camp on the right bank, perhaps where 
Jefferson Barracks now stand, and remained for two days 
hunting buffalo, deer, turkeys and swans in a beautiful 
region of swelling hills and rolling plains, where there 
was no ice or snow. The third day they made ten 
leagues, and passed the night on a level opening in the 
forest, which was subject to overflow at flood time in the 
river. The following evening they reared their bark 
shelters on the Illinois side, a fine country but with many 
rocks, says Nicolas de La Salle, speaking perhaps of the 
locality now known as Prairie Du Rocher. Here they 
halted three days to hunt, and resuming their course, 
found themselves at nightfall between bold shores bor- 
dered with a low growth of canes, apparently at the pres- 
ent Grand Tower. Setting forth in the early morning 
and making good progress, they saw towards sunset on 
their left the embouchure of the river, which the differ- 
ent chroniclers of this expedition call by the various 
names of the River of St. Louis, the Ouabache, the Chi- 
cagoua, and the Oyo. Nicolas de La Salle, referring per- 
haps to his leader's early dreams of discovery, mentions 
that this river coming from the country of the Iroquois 
had led some to believe that by following it one could find 
a passage to China — "La Chine." It was the Ohio, the 
Beautiful River. Such was the meaning of Oyo in the 
Iroquois tongue, and it thus soon became known among 


the French as La Belle Riviere. A league beyond the 
first view of its waters they pitched their camp on the 
western bank, directly opposite to its mouth. 42 

Thenceforth their course took them beyond the con- 
fines of Illinois, as they went on to accomplish the great 
discovery of the mouth of the Mississippi, for which La 
Salle had labored with such titanic energy. Many were 
their adventures on the way, and numerous strange tribes 
were met, who were usually well disposed. Tonty volun- 
teered to bear the calumet to one band, whose intentions 
were uncertain. At his approach they joined their hands 
in token of friendship, but he says; "I, who had but one 
hand, could only tell my men do the same in response. ' ' i3 
As they neared the sea, some of the party climbing trees 
to reconnoitre, reported what seemed a great bay in the 
distance. La Salle went to explore, returning with the 
news that he had gone to a point where the water had a 
briny taste and found some crabs like those of the ocean. 
April 6th they came to the place where the Mississippi 
divided into three branches. On the 7th, La Salle took 
the right, Tonty, with whom was Membre, the center 
and D'Autray the left. Two leagues below, they issued 
upon the open gulf and explored its shores either way 
until they were assured that the great project had been 
accomplished. On April 9, 1682, they ascended to a spot 
on the right bank where the ground was firm and a few 
trees grew. Of the squared trunk of one of these they 
made a rude column, to which were attached the arms of 
France, wrought from the copper of one of their kettles, 
with the inscription, "Louis le Grand, Roy de France et 
de Navarre, regne le 9e Avril, 1682." Amid salvos of 
musketry and cries of; "Vive le Roi," La Salle erected 
the column, and took formal possession in the name of 


the King, of the Mississippi, its tributaries and the lands 
watered by them. A cross was also affixed to one of the 
trees, while the Te Deum was chanted, and all united in 
the hymn of the Vexilla Regis. Beneath the cross was 
buried a leaden plate engraved with the arms of France 
and the King's title and the date in Latin on one side, and 
on the other a Latin inscription reciting that La Salle, 
Tonty, Membre and twenty Frenchmen were the first to 
navigate this river from the land of the Illinois to its 
mouth. An official statement, or Proces- Verbal, of the 
expedition was prepared by Jacques de la Meterie, notary 
of Fort Frontenac, who had been duly authorized to 
exercise the functions of his office during this voyage, 
and signed by him and eleven others. By this act 
France obtained her title to the valleys of the Ohio and 
the Mississippi, to which our nation has succeeded. The 
name of the State of Louisiana to-day preserves the des- 
ignation which La Salle gave to the whole of the grand 
realm which he brought under the sway of the French 

The whole party commenced the ascent of the river on 
the ioth of April, but La Salle pushed forward with three 
light canoes, manned chiefly by his Mohegans, as far as 
Fort Prudhomme. This was a stockade on a higfh stone 
bluff near the mouth of the Arkansas, built by his men on 
their way down the river, and named for Pierre Prud- 
homme, the armorer. Here La Salle fell dangerously ill, 
and needed the services of the surgeon, who was with the 
rear guard. His attendant, Cauchois, went some dis- 
tance down the river to meet them without success, and 
fearing to leave his master any longer, tied a letter to a 
tree on a projecting point of sand. Tonty, following 
slowly, was startled at the sight of this, and made haste, 


as requested by it, to hurry forward Jean Michel to bleed 
La Salle. Arriving himself at the fort the last of May, 
he was profoundly distressed to find his commander 
seemingly at the point of death. The state of his affairs, 
the danger of robbery of his caches at Fort Miami, and 
the importance of a speedy report of his success, made it 
necessary for the faithful lieutenant to go forward at 
once. With a heavy heart he proceeded up the river on 
June 4th, accompanied by Antoine Brossard, Jacques 
Cauchois, Jean Masse, and a Saco Indian. Below the 
Ohio he met four forlorn Iroquois, the survivors of a 
band of a hundred recently defeated by the Sioux, and 
gave them a part of his scanty supplies. Four days later 
he steered his canoe towards a smoke on the Illinois shore 
of the river. Thirty Tamaroa warriors issued from the 
woods and advanced with bended bows and fierce war 
cries, taking the travelers for Iroquois. Tonty presented 
his calumet, and an Indian whom he had known among 
the Illinois, recognizing him, cried out: "It is my com- 
rade! They are French." He landed and found a war 
party composed of Missouris, Tamaroas and Kaskaskias. 
Those of the two former tribes would have put Tonty and 
his companions to death, but the latter prevented and 
made them safe for the night. The Tamaroas then 
escorted them to their village, which they had reoccu- 
pied, where Tonty was welcomed by the chiefs, who 
entertained him for two days. On the 20th, after dis- 
tributing presents, he departed, and on the 27th passed 
the great Illinois village, still unoccupied. Low water 
obliged him to abandon his canoe, and the party trav- 
ersed on foot the forty leagues' distance to Lake Mich- 
igan. On its shore they fortunately met an Outagami 
Indian, who sold them a canoe with which they reached 


Fort Miami, and found everything undisturbed and the 
place deserted. Paddling onward, Tonty landed at 
Mackinac July 22d, bringing Membre's letter to his 
Superior, written June 3d at Fort Prudhomme, which is 
still preserved. La Salle had been too ill to write when 
the advance party left him, but Tonty forwarded dis- 
patches in his behalf to Count Frontenac, containing the 
first news of the great discovery which slowly found its 
way to Quebec and thence to France. 4b 

La Salle's iron constitution triumphed over disease and 
blood-letting after a forty days' contest. With Membre 
to aid him, though still very feeble, he left Fort Prud- 
homme at the close of July, with the remainder of his 
men. Proceeding by short stages and with frequent 
rests to the Tamaroa village he was made there a guest of 
honor, the calumet dance was performed before him, and 
he was presented with a set of mats and two Pawnee cap- 
tives, a woman and a boy. He gave two muskets in 
return. This Pawnee youth, who soon acquired a knowl- 
edge of French, told La Salle a strange story which led 
him to believe it possible that the pilot and crew did in 
fact escape from the wreck of Le Griffon. Two years 
before, the young Indian said he had seen two French- 
men prisoners among one of the Upper Mississippi 
tribes. They had been taken with four others while 
ascending the river in two canoes loaded with merchan- 
dise, and their comrades had been slain and devoured 
The one, whose description tallied with that of the pilot, 
had saved the lives of himself and companion by his 
ready exhibition of an explosive, seemingly one of the 
hand grenades of which there had been a supply on the 
vessel; and assuring the savages that he could destroy 
with these the villages of their enemies. One of the 


crew, named La Riviere, from Tours, had formerly been 
in the service of Duluth, who was at the time of the cap- 
ture among the Sioux, and La Salle thought it probable 
that this man was seeking to join his former employer, 
with his fellows and the more valuable merchandise from 
Le Griffon. The story seems never to have been fully 
confirmed. 46 

From the Tamaroas La Salle's party ascended to the 
mouth of the Illinois, and turned into that stream. Their 
hunters along its banks supplied them with an abundance 
of swans, ducks, turkeys, deer and buffalo, and after fifteen 
days foraging they halted at Fort Crevecceur, which they 
found nearly destroyed. The unfinished vessel, sad me- 
morial of the failure of the first attempt to explore the 
Great River, had been fired, and a few blackened timbers 
alone remained. La Salle left eight Frenchmen here, and 
passing the Illinois village, where no one was seen, kept 
on his way to Lake Michigan, and so to Fort Miami 
again. Here he learned that the diligent Tonty had left 
D'Autray and Cauchois among the Miamis, and sent 
others to the Illinois, and that two hundred lodges of 
other Indians were going to re-enforce the latter nation. 
La Salle and Membre' hastened on to Mackinac, where 
they landed at the end of September. The former, hear- 
ing rumors of another Iroquois invasion which 'boded ill 
to his newly-formed plans, resolved to remain and oppose 
it, and indeed was hardly equal to his intended journey 
to France. He wrote Count Frontenac that, having 
heard that the Iroquois were ready to march, he proposed 
to return to the Miami country with his twenty-five 
Frenchmen, and strongly fortify a post there, resolved to 
defend it against the warriors of the Five Nations. To 
secure the proper presentation of the official account of 


his great discovery to the King, he appointed Membre' to 
go to Paris in his stead for that purpose. The clerical 
deputy made all speed down the lakes and rivers to 
Quebec, where he reported himself two days before the 
departure on November 17th, of the last vessels of the 
season, and sailed in that which bore away La Salle's 
steadfast friend, Count Frontenac, just retiring from the 
governorship of Canada. So Membre left New France 
never to return, and sorrowfully wrote of his labors in 
the Illinois land; "I cannot say that my little efforts pro- 
duced certain fruits. With regard to these nations per- 
haps some one by a secret effort of grace has profited ; 
this God only knows. All we have done has been to 
see the state of these nations, and to open the way to the 
Gospel, and to missionaries; having baptized only two 
infants whom I saw at the point of death and who in fact 
died in our presence." * 7 

The threatened inroad of the Iroquois promised disas- 
ter to the savages on the River St. Joseph, who had so 
recently formed an alliance with the French and the 
Illinois. Tonty was dispatched in haste thither to assem- 
ble the men who had remained in that region at the 
Kankakee portage, and to erect a fort there for the pro- 
tection of the Shawanoes, whom La Salle had invited to 
move their village, and of the Miamis.* 8 

But on his arrival Tonty found the Shawanoes all 
absent in hunting parties, and the Miamis beginning to 
take flight because rumors had reached them that the 
Iroquois were coming to destroy them. As those French- 
men whom he had expected to meet were scattered, and 
he had too few in his company to undertake the appointed 
task with them alone, he proceeded to Fort Crevec<eur, 
intending to winter there and to gather his forces in the 


spring. 49 La Salle meanwhile assumed that the fort at 
the Kankakee portage was well under way and on Octo- 
ber 5th wrote to the Governor at Quebec, that he had 
caused such a fort to be constructed, which was on the 
point of being attacked by the Iroquois, and asked to have 
one hundred muskets, five hundred pounds of powder 
and one thousand pounds of balls with some grenades 
and falconets sent to it at the risk of La Salle. And to 
one of his friends he wrote in the same month that he 
had built one of the forts which his letters patent author- 
ized him to construct, at the portage of the River of the 
Illinois, and stationed thirty men there with the Sieur de 
Tonty. But by degrees contradictions of the rumors 
concerning the Iroquois, and information of Tonty's 
repairing to Crevecoeur reached La Salle at Mackinac, 
with such assurances of the amenability of the savages as 
induced him to return to his original plan of a permanent 
establishment upon the River Illinois. Fort Crevecoeur 
was too distant from the general abiding place of the 
natives, and it probably could not be fortified to the 
extent deemed necessary since the Iroquois campaign. 
The strong fort which Tonty was ordered to build on 
the high rock near the old Indian village, if commenced, 
was never completed. After La Salle's first visit to the 
mouth of the Illinois, he was inclined when he returned 
from the sea to make his stronghold on the rock on the 
south shore of the Illinois River just where it flows into 
the Mississippi, having then perhaps some idea of bring- 
ing the far western and northern tribes under his sway. 
But this plan was never carried out. 50 

A new location was advisable, and one which should 
be most convenient for the tribes of the Illinois. The 
former inhabitants of the great village had definitely 


abandoned: that site of bitter memories, and it was there- 
fore unwise to resume the project of a fortress on the 
rock adjoining it. As La Salle revolved these matters in 
his mind, his thoughts recurred to a still more command- 
ing position six leagues farther down the river on its 
southern shore. Here was an eyrie which he resolved to 
make his own, and he forthwith chose for it the name of 
Fort St. Louis, in honor of the canonized king, Louis 
IX. of France. Some of his party he sent to Montreal 
for provisions and ammunition, and set out with the 
rest from Mackinac for the Illinois. The 2d of Decem- 
ber, 1682, he was on the River St. Joseph and there 
executed to one of his men, Michel Dizy, a concession of 
two hundred arpents of land in the district dependent 
upon his new fort, similar to those which he had already 
made to others in his service. These grants were sub- 
jected to certain seignorial charges, which were reduced for 
those making early application. 51 He seemed to feel that 
his wanderings were about to end, and he desired to offer 
inducements to his followers to make permanent settle- 
ment in his new seignory. Its hills and valleys, forests 
and open plains lay before him as he descended the 
Illinois, and in imagination he saw them occupied by 
people of two races united in commercial enterprise 
under his protecting sway. Disembarking at Crevecoeur 
on the 30th of December, he directed Tonty's com- 
mand to break camp and to follow him to the chosen 
place in the heart of the land of the Illinois. h ' z 

This land, which Jolliet and Marquette had found so 
beautiful was equally so to La Salle and to his associates 
who had now summered and wintered there. The glow- 
ing descriptions given by all whose accounts we have 
make it a paradise, the attractions of which they are 


never weary of depicting. Tonty, whose brief chronicles 
waste no words, cannot resist the spell. In his Memoir 
of 1 684 s3 he says it is as charming a country as one can 
anywhere see, for the most part a great plain adorned 
with clusters of trees and rich in strange fruits. There 
the first buffalo are seen, and its prairies abound with 
every kind of animal, deer in flocks like sheep, turkeys 
and game. And again in his Memoir of 1693 he says the 
country of the Illinois contains some of the finest lands 
ever seen. 54 So Father Membre writes that the River 
Seignelay, as he calls the Illinois, is very beautiful, 
forming lakes as far as the Mississippi, edged with hills 
covered with beautiful trees whence one sees vast prai- 
ries on which herds of wild cattle pasture in profusion. 
The soil is good and capable of producing all that can be 
desired for subsistence. The whole .country along this 
river is charming in its aspect. 55 The Relation Officielle 
repeats these praises and adds that the air is very tem- 
perate and very healthful, the country is watered by 
numberless lakes, rivers and streams for the most part 
navigable, one is hardly ever incommoded there by 
mosquitoes or other harmful creatures, and there are 
mines of coal, slate and iron. 56 La Salle's own letters are 
full of similar statements. In one of them he speaks of 
the country nine leagues below the confluence of the 
Kankakee and the Des Plaines as the most beautiful in 
the world, and adds that the savages call it Massane 
because of the great quantity of hemp that grows there, 
and that there could be no other region so intersected 
with rivers and diversified with prairies, islands, groves, 
hills, valleys and plains of the most fertile soil. 57 The 
novelty of such a land to natives of Europe or of the bleak 
forests of Canada evoked this enthusiasm and deepened 


these impressions. And it was with the feeling that they 
had come to the garden of the earth that La Salle's 
retainers began the preparations for a feudal establish- 
ment within its borders after the pattern of those of the 
old world. 

IV. Settlement 

The lines of La Salle's new citadel were traced just as 
the year 1683 began, and its construction went steadily 
forward despite the winter weather. The tall rock on 
which it stood rose to a height of one hundred and 
twenty-five feet, so sheer from the river's edge that 
water could be drawn at its summit from the stream 
directly below. The circuit of its level top measured six 
hundred feet, and on three sides it was so steep as to be 
totally inaccessible. On the fourth the approach was 
toilsome enough, and here it was fortified by a formida- 
ble palisade of trunks of white oak trees ten inches in 
diameter and twenty-two feet high. This was flanked 
by three redoubts, built of squared beams, so located 
that each could defend the others. A like palisade but 
only fifteen feet in height encompassed the remainder of 
the rock, and along its line four similar redoubts frowned 
upon the region below. A parapet of large trees laid 
lengthwise and covered with earth ran along the inner 
side of the whole fortification, and the palisades were 
crowned with heavy timbers set with wooden spikes, 
iron pointed. Within the enclosure were rude dwellings, 
a store house for supplies and peltries, and a chapel. All 
was completed in the month of March, 1683, when the 
royal ensign of France was unfurled above the walls of 
Fort St. Louis of the Illinois. 1 It overlooked the country 


far and wide, for its foundation rock towered above the 
neighboring bluffs in splendid isolation. From the near- 
est of these to the eastward it was separated by a ravine 
two hundred feet across, and on the other side was a 
wide valley through which a little stream made its way 
to the Illinois. The farther shore of the river was a 
broad prairie, and midway lay a beautiful island, both of 
which had formerly been cultivated by the natives. The 
island was within musket shot, and could be planted and 
its harvest gathered under protection of the fort. It 
seemed that at last La Salle had found an appropriate 
center for his great design of a commercial colony in the 
heart of the West, communicating on the one hand with 
the Gulf of St. Lawrence and on the other with the Gulf 
of Mexico. 

The assurance given to the friendly tribes had been 
fulfilled, and of this they were speedily advised. No 
sooner was the fortress completed than the indefatigable 
Tonty set forth to summon the dusky retainers to the 
castle of their chief. East, south and west, he journeyed 
over the prairies for well nigh three hundred miles, pass- 
ing from one group of lodges to another, and distributing 
presents in the name of La Salle. He told his eager hear- 
ers of the mighty stronghold which their white father had 
built to defend them against the ruthless Iroquois, and 
urged them to encamp about its walls. The machinations 
of La Salle's enemies had estranged some of the natives, 
but by persistent effort Tonty won them back, and one 
and all agreed to come to the appointed place. 2 They 
kept their word, and soon from his watch tower the 
French leader saw band after band of Illinois, Miamis 
and Shawanoes approach and establish themselves in the 
near neighborhood until three hundred cabins were 


reared round about Fort St. Louis. Other Indians fol- 
lowed and some with strange names whose tribes we 
cannot now identify, but who probably came from the 
Mississippi region in which La Salle's recent voyage to 
the sea had spread his name abroad. 3 Ere long he was 
able to report to the home government that he had 
assembled at the fort four thousand savage warriors, 
which number would represent a native population of 
fully twenty thousand souls. 4 

To make the settlement all that he wished it remained 
only to attract there a sufficient number of Frenchmen. 
He had given liberal grants of land to those of his com- 
rades who were willing to make their homes in the 
wilderness, and anxiously awaited the return of the men 
whom he had sent to Montreal in the fall, and the coming 
of new colonists with them. But these did not appear 
and April came without reliable news from the lower St. 
Lawrence, although disquieting rumors repeated from 
one tribe to another, or carried by wandering coureurs 
de bois, were in the air. A disastrous change for La 
Salle had taken place in the government at Quebec. 
Count Frontenac had been recalled and Le Febvre de La 
Barre had succeeded him on October 9, 1682. The 
new Governor sided with the enemies of La Salle, and 
almost at once showed hostility to him. Writing to the 
minister Colbert on the 12th of November, La Barre 
mentioned the receipt of the letter which Tonty had 
written for La Salle when the latter lay ill at Fort Prud- 
homme, to announce the finding of the mouth of the 
Mississippi; and made light of the discovery and ex- 
pressed doubts of its utility. This opinion he repeated 
in another letter to Colbert, dated two days later, in 
which he blamed La Salle for the threatened Iroquois 


war, and charged him with falsehood. The men sent 
from Mackinac in the fall were detained at Montreal, and 
the Governor gave ready credence to all charges against 
them or their employer. He determined to bring La 
Salle to Quebec and to take possession of his establish- 
ment on the Illinois River. To arrange this and other 
matters he commissioned an officer to proceed to Macki- 
nac and points beyond. 6 

This person, whose name was to be connected with 
the Illinois country and with the beginning of Chicago, 
was Olivier Morel Sieur de La Durantaye. Born at 
Gasure in the ancient bishopric of Nantes, February 17, 
1640, of an old and noble family, he grew to manhood in 
his native France, and at the age of 22 commenced his 
long career of faithful military service to his king. He 
attained the rank of lieutenant in the fine infantry 
regiment which bore the name of its Colonel, Sieur de 
Chambelle, and in 1665 was appointed one of its cap- 
tains. The same year he exchanged into the famous 
regiment of Carignan-Salieres that he might proceed 
with it to Canada where it was sent to bring the Iroquois 
to terms. After peace was concluded he returned with 
his company to France, but the charms of the New 
World led him thither again. In 1672 the Intendant Jean 
Talon granted him a concession near the River Richelieu 
of seventy arpents of land, which he was engaged in 
cultivating when the course of events brought him into 
the service of the government again. 6 His commission 
from La Barre, dated March 1, 1683, recites that he was 
selected because a man of experience, worth and 
approved wisdom was needed to carry out the instruc- 
tions which he would receive. Fourteen days later the 
Governor, fearing lest the work he had planned was too 


much for one person to accomplish, commissioned as 
Durantaye's lieutenant the Chevalier Louis Henri de 
Baugy, a young officer, son of a royal counselor, who 
had arrived from France the preceding autumn. 7 

La Salle meanwhile not realizing the storm which was 
brewing at Quebec but uneasy because of the non-arrival 
of his men, determined to appeal directly to La Barre. 
On the 2nd of April, 1683, he wrote from Fort St. 
Louis a pathetic letter, setting forth his reverses and his 
resolve, notwithstanding, to meet his obligations. He 
recounted his great discovery; the building of the fort, 
and the assembling of the Indians; set forth his future 
plans, and besought the Governor not to delay parties 
going from the post to the settlements. Another detach- 
ment was ready to set out to bring back supplies of 
ammunition, but feared that they might be detained on 
the charge of illegal trading. La Salle assured La Barre 
of the falsity of any such allegation, informed him that 
these supplies were absolutely necessary for the defence 
of the fort which was on the eve of being attacked, and 
begged him to permit all of the people belonging there 
to return. 8 In the hope that he had thus made certain of 
fair treatment, La Salle permitted Andre Eno and Jean 
Filastreau to take the route for Montreal with a load of 
peltries belonging to Tonty and Jacques Cauchois, which 
they had generously permitted to be exchanged for 
powder and ball for the common defence. In May came 
the rumor that the Iroquois were on the warpath, and 
the Miamis who had returned to their villages to gather 
their corn were so alarmed that they resolved to flee to 
far distant parts. Such a course would have disinte- 
grated La Salle's colony, and he went at once to the St. 
Joseph region, assembled the Miami chiefs and persuaded 


the tribe to retire in a body to Fort St. Louis. Then 
he descended the stream to its mouth with the intention 
of going to Mackinac and thence to Montreal, to see the 
Governor. He was delayed at Fort Miami four days by 
bad weather. The fourth evening some Kiskakon sav- 
ages who had been trading with the Miamis brought 
the tidings that the latter had come upon the recent trail 
of an army of Iroquois one of whose parties had slain a 
Miami hunter, while chasing a deer near their camp. 
La Salle had promised the Illinois at Fort St. Louis to 
retrace his steps at the first sure intelligence of the 
approach of the Iroquois, and therefore changed his 
plans forthwith and returned with the Miamis. These 
were divided into the Ouiatenons from about the Kanka- 
kee portage, the Pepikoia who dwelt midway between 
this point and the mouth of the St. Joseph, and the 
Tchatchaking who were near Lake Michigan, and fol- 
lowed its coast in their retreat. The others came to join 
them as soon as they heard that the Iroquois were near. 
Each sub-tribe had intended to take its own route, lest 
their crossing the country together, should too greatly 
tax its resources. But they now preferred, as the chron- 
icler aptly says, to risk a scarcity of provisions by their 
union, rather than to become bread for the Iroquois by 
marching separately. 9 

The motley host of from four thousand to forty-five 
hundred souls pursued its course around the southern 
end of Lake Michigan and along its western shore. The 
country was so rich in game as to supply their wants 
without difficulty, although as many more natives were 
dependent upon the same region for their sustenance. 
There was a busy scene at the Chicago portage when the 
Miamis arrived and by degrees passed on down the Des 


Plaines. La Salle himself halted here at the little stock- 
ade with a log house within its enclosure which two of 
his men had erected at this point during the winter of 
1682 and 1683. 10 This was the first known structure 
of anything like a permanent character upon the site of 
Chicago, and the first habitation of white men there since 
Marquette's encampment in the winter of 1674. It was 
an outlying post of Fort St. Louis, established for the 
procuring of beaver and other furs, and its occupants at 
this time were Jacques Cauchois, the faithful attendant of 
La Salle in his illness on the Mississippi, and an Indian 
whose name has not been preserved. 11 Disappointed in 
his hope of a personal interview with La Barre, the 
earliest opportunity to communicate with him was seized 
by La Salle who now sent his two Chicago colonists to 
Montreal with all the peltries they could carry. 12 

By the hand of Cauchois he forwarded a second letter 
to the Governor dated " Du portage de Checagou 4 Juin, 
1683," which is probably the first document wholly writ- 
ten at that place, and comes next in point of time to that 
portion of Marquette's journal actually indited there. 
In this epistle La Salle plainly tells La Barre that the 
detaining of all the men who had gone to Montreal had 
caused a lack of everything needful, and that these two 
now came to procure means for the actual defence of the 
fort against formidable enemies. He asks him to have 
the goodness to permit them to return with their charge, 
and with as many others as Cauchois might persuade to 
accompany them. After recounting what had taken 
place since his last communication and the straits the 
colony was in, he reproachfully says; "But, monsieur, it 
is in vain that we risk our lives here and that I exhaust 
myself to fulfill the wishes of His Majesty, if, at the 


settlements below, all the measures are thwarted which 
I take to procure success, and if on far fetched pretexts 
those are kept back who go to obtain the supplies with- 
out which we cannot defend ourselves. It is useless for 
the King to permit me to build forts and to do what is 
necessary for the accomplishment of my design, if I am 
prevented from bringing arms, powder and lead here. ' ' 
Again, changing his tone, he shows that he has only 
twenty Frenchmen at the fort with but a hundred pounds 
of powder and bullets in proportion, and that unless he 
has more he cannot withstand an attack. And he closes 
with an earnest appeal to La Barre to save the post as 
the key to a country capable of becoming a powerful 
colony which will always honor him as its preserver in 
its infancy. 13 In a memorandum added to the letter he 
says he has learned from Tonty that an armed band of 
the Illinois went on the warpath against the Iroquois and 
their allies ten days before, and just as he was closing, 
another dispatch from Tonty arrived, brought by two of 
his men to the Chicago portage, to tell La Salle that, 
unless he came back at once, the Illinois would forsake 
them to go to some region beyond the reach of the 
Iroquois. The war party previously spoken of had 
returned, having met forty of the enemy and captured 
one whom they offered to Tonty to put to death. He 
declined, telling them it was not the custom of the 
French to kill their prisoners of war ; but he feared to 
ask clemency for the Iroquois lest it should seem that the 
whites were in sympathy with the Five Nations, as La 
Salle's enemies were continually alleging. The luckless 
captive therefore "was burned in the ordinary manner," 
says La Salle, "he having been presented to the Shawa- 
noes, who put him to the fire. " u To neither of these 


letters does the stolid old soldier who sat in the chair of 
state in the Governor's chateau at Quebec seem to have 
made any reply. Five months after the last was written, 
he sent copies of both to the Minister Colbert, and 
asserted that La Salle's head was turned, that his discov- 
ery was false, and that he was setting up an imaginary 
kingdom. So far was La Barre from realizing his own 
shameful conduct that he gloated over the failure of La 
Salle's men to return to him, and rejoiced that he was 
deprived of the means necessary to maintain his post, 
which he contemptuously spoke of as more than five hun- 
dred leagues distant from Quebec. 15 

La Salle's previous visit to the Chicago portage was 
made in mid- winter, 16 when one could not easily deter- 
mine the character of the region. On this occasion he 
came in the early summer, 17 and doubtless then prepared 
or obtained the facts for his description of the place, 
probably written later in 1683. He says: "The portage de 
Checagou is an isthmus of land at forty-one degrees and 
fifty minutes north latitude to the west of the lake of the 
Illinois, which is reached by a channel formed by the 
meeting of many rivulets or rainfalls of the prairie. It 
is navigable about two leagues to the border of the prai- 
rie a quarter of a league westward. There is there a lit- 
tle lake divided into two by a beaver dam about a league 
and a half in length, whence there flows a little stream 
which, after meandering half a league among the rushes, 
falls into the river Checagou, and by it into the river Illi- 
nois. This lake, when filled by the great rains of sum- 
mer or the floods of spring, flows into the channel leading 
to the lake of the Illinois, the surface of which is seven 
feet lower than the prairie in which the former lake lies. 
The river Checagou does the same in the spring when its 


channel is full ; it discharges by this little lake a part of 
its waters into the lake of the Illinois. And at this time, 
which would be the summer, Jolliet says that a little 
canal a quarter of a league long from this lake to the 
basin which leads to the lake of the Illinois, would enable 
barks to enter the Checagou and descend to the sea. That 
perhaps might happen in the spring, but not in summer, 
because there is then no water in the river as far as Fort 
St. Louis, where the navigation of the Illinois commences 
in summer time and thence is good as far as the sea. It 
is true, there is besides a difficulty that this ditch would 
not be able to remedy, which is that the lake of the Illi- 
nois always forms a bank of sand at the entrance of the 
channel leading from it. And I greatly doubt, whatever 
any one says, whether this could be swept away or scat- 
tered by the force of the current of the Checagou, if made 
to flow there, since much stronger ones in the same lake 
have not been able to do it. Furthermore, the utility of 
it would be small, since I doubt whether, when all was 
completed, a vessel would be able to ascend against the 
great flood which the currents cause in the Checagou in 
the spring, much more violent than those of the Rhone. 
Then it would be for only a little time, and at most for 
only fifteen to twenty days a year, after which there 
would be no more water. What confirms me besides in 
the opinion that the Checagou would not be able to keep 
the mouth of the channel clear, is that the lake is full of 
ice which blocks the navigable openings at the time in 
question, and when the ice is melted, there is not water 
enough in the Checagou to prevent the sand from stop- 
ping up the channel. Indeed I would not have mentioned 
this matter, if Jolliet had not proposed it, without having 
sufficiently guarded against the difficulties. " 18 The chan- 


nel first spoken of is the present Chicago River, the little 
lake is Mud Lake, since drained away, and the then Che- 
cagou is now the Des Plaines, whose spring floods rushing 
through the Chicago River to Lake Michigan are but a 
thing of yesterday, while the sand bar at the junction of 
river and lake is not yet forgotten. In every particular 
the description coincides so exactly with the existing or 
former characteristics of the place that it alone deter- 
mines the location of the Chicago portage within the lim- 
its of the present city of the name, beyond the shadow of a 
doubt. It speaks also of the power of the man who, amid 
all of the cares then pressing iipon him, could make such 
a careful topographical examination of this important 
point. We may imagine him as he completes it, after 
his men have embarked for Montreal and his Miami allies 
have journeyed onward down the Des Plaines, once more 
alone upon the site of Chicago, whence he takes his soli- 
tary way to Fort St. Louis. 

Recurring now to events at Quebec, La Barre had 
matured his instructions to Durantaye and delivered 
them to him under date of April 21, 1683. These 
describe him as the bearer of the Governor's commission 
to the Ottawas, the Miamis and other distant people, and 
direct him to establish good relations with them, to 
repress the coureurs de bois, and to bear to Sieur de La 
Salle the orders of La Barre, in whose behalf also he 
was to seek out the Illinois, if this could easily be done. 
At Mackinac he was to inquire whether it was true that 
La Salle had set himself up as a potentate among the 
Miamis and towards the head of Green Bay, had plun- 
dered some French canoes bearing the permits of Fron- 
tenac, and had issued permits in his own name. If 
Durantaye found proof of these charges, and La Salle 


was within reach, he was to go in person with his lieu- 
tenant and four or five canoes and read and place in the 
hands of La Salle the Governor's order to immediately 
report to him, and to make La Salle understand that if he 
did not obey he would be arrested. If the proofs were 
not conclusive, or La Salle was too far away, Durantaye 
was to send him and his companions the letters which 
the Governor had written them by De Baugy, who at the 
same time could bear La Barre's dispatches to the Illi- 
nois. De Baugy was also instructed to take occasion to 
withdraw young Nicolas La Salle from the company of 
the elder La Salle, and to send him to the Governor. 
Just as La Barre was completing this document he had a 
fresh access of rage against La Salle upon learning that 
he had brought the Shawanoes, who were declared ene- 
mies of the Iroquois, into a union with the Miamis and 
the Illinois. And he added a peremptory command to 
Durantaye to go or send De Baugy to the mission at 
Green Bay to entreat the Reverend Father Nouvel to 
accompany one of them to the Miamis, to tell them that 
the Governor had made peace for them with the Iroquois, 
but could not maintain it unless they separated from the 
Shawanoes, and to do the same with the Illinois if they 
could be reached. 19 The false charges against La Salle 
and the misconception of his plans revealed in these 
instructions so worked upon the aged Governor's mind 
that later he prepared dispatches to La Salle ordering him 
to leave the West at once and come to Quebec to render 
an account of his pretended discovery. 20 La Barre had by 
this time so firmly persuaded himself of the falsity of the 
account of the Mississippi voyage that he took the posi- 
tion that La Salle's patent from the King, of May 12, 
1678, which provided that the discovery must be accom- 


plished within five years, was really null and void. 
Insisting, therefore, that all of La Salle's privileges were 
forfeited, and that he had no right to be in the Illinois 
country at all, the governor issued another order to Dur- 
antaye and De Baugy, telling them to exercise the 
authority he had given them, without any preliminary, 
and to compel La Salle to depart from the West and to 
report to him. And he enjoined all of the comrades 
of La Salle to separate from him and to give him no 
further recognition. This cruel decree was dated May 
9, 1683, three days before the patent could expire, even 
if the mouth of the Mississippi had not been discovered. 21 
Durantaye and De Baugy set out from Quebec April 
23d, and came to Montreal, where the Governor, who fol- 
lowed them thither, issued this latest order. They left 
this place May 12th, and spent thirteen days in traversing 
the nine leagues of rapids to Lachine. Hence they 
departed May 25th, arrived at Sault Ste. Marie June 26th, 
and at Mackinac the 2d of July. 22 We have a very 
interesting letter from De Baugy to his brother, de- 
scribing the journey, written "a Messilimakina, ce 7 
Juillet, 1683," in which he says that the journey is 
very fatiguing, there being twenty-eight portages and 
about sixty places where the canoes have to be drawn 
through the rapids and lifted over the rocks. De Baugy 
served his apprenticeship to "these little machines," as 
he calls the canoes, and learned to handle the paddle, but 
suffered grievously from the flies at the carrying places 
in the woods. He was looking forward hopefully to the 
journey which lay before him of more than two hundred 
leagues, to his winter quarters among the Illinois Indians, 
a very numerous nation in a beautiful country where 
there are great prairies. With pleasurable anticipation 


he remarks that one sees there quantities of huge wild 
oxen and turkeys, and that there is good cheer in that 
land. But it was necessary that he should reach it scon, 
because he had orders to make M. de La Salle, who was 
there, come down to render an account of his actions. 
To this letter a postscript dated July 2 2d was added, say- 
ing that the writer believed that during the following 
winter he would be engaged in warfare with the sav- 
ages, who might take his life, though this did not trouble 
him so much. But what he dreaded most, as he was 
just departing in his "little machines," was the flies, 
which tormented a person so cruelly that one did not 
know what to do. 23 

Durantaye accompanied De Baugy as far as the mis- 
sion at the foot of Green Bay, whence in August the lat- 
ter set out for the Illinois country, 24 doubtless taking the 
route of the Chicago portage. La Salle meanwhile was 
at Fort St. Louis, encouraging his colonists to make clear- 
ings and plant crops, and preparing concessions of land 
to his employes and creditors and to religious orders. 
The names of twenty or more of these early settlers or 
grantees of land in what is now Illinois are preserved in 
the records of the Superior Council of Quebec, where they 
may be seen to-day. Among them are Riverin, Pierre 
Chenet Francois Pachot, Chanjon, Francois Hazeur, 
Louis Le Vasseur, Mathieu Martin, Francois Charron, les 
Sieurs d'Artigny and La Chesnaye, Jacques de Faye, 
Pierre Le Vasseur, Michel Guyon, Poisset, Andre* de 
Chaulne, Marie Joseph le Neuf, Michel de Grez Philipes 
Esnault, Jean Petit, Rene Fezeret, les Sieurs Laporte, 
Louvigny et de St. Castin, Frangois de La Forest, Henri 
de Tonty, and the Jesuit Fathers. 25 But the lack of sup- 
plies, the failure of his parties to return, and the hostility 


of the Governor, which he could no longer doubt, ren- 
dered his position intolerable. He resolved to proceed 
to France and appeal in person to the Kmg. 2 * Everything 
was put in the best possible condition at the fort, his peo- 
ple there were promised early supplies, and Tonty was 
placed in command. 27 In the latter part of the month of 
August, 1683, 28 La Salle, with some of his Frenchmen 
and two Shawanoes, departed from his rocky citadel and 
ascended the River Illinois. Fourteen leagues from the 
fort 29 or about midway between the Fox and Kankakee 
rivers, he saw another party approaching, and soon was 
greeted by a young officer, who announced himself as the 
bearer of the orders of the Governor of New France. It 
was De Baugy, at last arrived in the land of the Illinois, 
who now delivered to La Salle La Barre's harsh edict of 
May 9, 1683, 30 and thus made the first service of a legal 
writ within the territory now comprised in the State of 
Illinois. 31 It more than confirmed La Salle's gravest 
apprehensions, and must have been a severe blow to 
him. But he treated the deputy with great courtesy, and 
gave him letters recommending Tonty to receive him 
well and to live in great harmony with him. So La 
Barre's agent passed on to the fort, where Tonty says he 
did receive him as he was dii-ected, but drily observes 
that it was not much trouble for his chief to be obliged 
to make the journey, since he was on his way when the 
order reached him. 32 

La Salle continued his route to the Chicago portage, 
which he reached by the 1st of September, and on that 
day wrote a letter to the inhabitants of Fort St. Louis 
which brings the situation very vividly before us. It is 
dated "at Checagou," the 1st of September, 1683, and 
begins with an expression of gratitude to his people at 


the rock for their fidelity, and a promise to reward them 
therefor as soon as he shall have scattered the little 
storm, as he hopes to do. He tells them that Rolland is 
awaiting him at Missilimackinac with a good cargo, 33 and 
he is taking there with him La Fontaine, La Violette, the 
Sieur d'Autray, and the two Shawanoes whom he will 
send back to bring them some of it. He assures them 
that from the King, who is the greatest and most just 
prince of the universe, they have cause to expect only the 
recompense due to the courage they have shown in the 
discovery and the making of the post, and urges them to 
work, since the gain of their cause and his own depends 
on their establishment. They should therefore all settle 
themselves on large clearings, and if there remains any- 
thing to be done at the fort, they should work at it as at 
a thing for their true interests. He proposes to return 
by sea in the spring, and they will have merchandise and 
all their requirements, and even something to drink his 
health with, as Rolland has saved him a barrel of whisky. 
They must be united and follow Tonty's counsel and 
orders. And one thing of great consequence is to gather 
as many buffalo skins as possible for which Boisrondet 
(his commissary at the fort) 34 will give for the larger two 
beaver skins, and for the smaller, one. They must 
always speak with great respect of the Governor, and 
obey his orders, even if he were to command them to 
abandon the fort, and do nothing that looks like plotting 
and combining. This letter is addressed to Antoine 
Brossard, one of his Mississippi party, and all other 
inhabitants residing at Fort St. Louis in Louisiana, and 
is signed; "Your most humble and most affectionate serv- 
ant de La Salle." 35 It is his farewell to the region in 
which he had toiled and suffered, hoped and sorrowed in 


the cause of civilization in the West, of which he was the 
pioneer. As he pursued the long and weary way which 
led to the settlements on the St. Lawrence, the beautiful 
land of the Illinois must have been often in his thoughts. 
He never failed to sound its praises in all that he wrote 
thereafter, and it held a most important place in his 
future plans which always contemplated his return 
thither, but fate was adverse, and he never saw it more. 
At Fort St. Louis, De Baugy and Tonty were exer- 
cising a divided authority, the one representing La Barre 
and the other La Salle, and the latter's advice that they 
should live in harmony was not strictly followed. When 
Tonty found his associate doing his utmost to create dis- 
affection among the colonists, and Durantaye, who made 
them occasional visits, sparing no trouble in the same 
direction, the sturdy defender of the rights of his absent 
leader took them both to task. Quarrels followed, and 
they passed the winter in discord. 36 As spring approached 
the rumors of an Iroquois invasion postponed from the 
preceding year were revived. La Barre's animosity to 
La Salle had led the Five Nations to believe that he was 
without the pale of the government, and that they were 
free to attack his settlement and wreak upon the Illinois 
tribes their ancient grudge, which had been aggravated 
by the death of one of their chiefs at Mackinac at the 
hands of an Illinois warrior. 37 The traders, however, who 
held permits from La Barre, felt perfectly secure, and 
did not hesitate to invade the territory of La Salle, whom 
all the Governor's friends felt privileged to rob. 38 A party 
of fourteen Frenchmen accordingly set out from Mack- 
inac as early as August 10, 1683, with the express pur- 
pose of trading in the Illinois country, under the lead of 
Rene" Le Gardeur, Sieur de Beauvais. They were sup- 


plied with permits and protections from the Governor 
himself, of whose orders in regard to La Salle they were 
undoubtedly well advised. Hunting by the way, they 
progressed slowly, and by December 4th only gained the 
Kankakee River, where they were compelled to winter. 
They were visited by a small party of Iroquois, who 
departed apparently for their own country, professing 
most friendly intentions, and on May 8th the party 
resumed the descent of the Kankakee on the way to Fort 
St. Louis. At the passage of a rapid they fell into the 
hands of two hundred Iroquois, who to their extreme sur- 
prise pillaged their merchandise and took their canoes, 
contemptuously tearing in pieces the Governor's permits 
and his letters to Durantaye and De Baugy which Beau- 
vais produced. The white men were compelled to march 
along the river bank for nine days, until they reached the 
Des Plaines, where they were dismissed without provi- 
sions or canoes, and with only two wretched muskets and 
a little ammunition. They were saved from starvation 
by a fortunate meeting with a band of Mascoutens, who 
gave them guides to Green Bay, and they ultimately 
reached Quebec, where they made a very long and indig- 
nant protest on the subject of their unwarranted misfor- 
tunes. 39 It is some satisfaction to know that La Barre had 
provided the outfit for this expedition, having a large 
share in the venture, and that the entire loss fell upon 
him. 40 

When the Iroquois were leading these captives along 
the Kankakee, they asked them whether Tonty, whom 
they called Le Bras Coupe, or Cut Arm, was in the 
fort, and how many men he had, and if La Salle were 
not there also. When they were told that La Salle had 
been recalled, and that there was another commandant in 


his place, they said they knew it well, and inquired only 
to see whether the white men spoke the truth ; and that 
they were on their way to attack the fort. 4 ' On March 
20th Tonty and De Baugy heard of the approach of the 
Iroquois, and sent a canoe to Durantaye at Mackinac for 
aid, and made every preparation to give them a warm 
reception. 42 The next day they appeared, 43 and De 
Baugy's prediction to his brother was realized. He and 
Tonty forgot their differences, and fought side by side 
during the six days' siege that followed. Around the 
good Fort St. Louis the crafty savages seized every coign 
of vantage, searching the palisades with musketry by 
day, and arousing the garrison with repeated alarms by 
night. They even attempted to storm the defenses, but 
the trained soldiers within were more than a match for 
the forest chieftains, whose forces were repulsed with 
signal loss. 44 They sullenly withdrew, humiliated by the 
check which they had received, resolved upon revenge, 
and took with them some native prisoners, who all 
escaped and made their way back to the fort. 45 Hard 
upon the trail of the retreating Iroquois came war parties 
from the tribes at the fort, who slew a number of their 
enemies, and returned in triumph with their scalps. 46 

The story of the Iroquois capture of the trading party 
was brought to the Mission of St. Francois Xavier at 
Green Bay by the victims, and even before their arrival 
dispatches came from the fort narrating its successful 
defense against the Iroquois. 47 , Beauvais' party carried 
these to Quebec with a letter to La Barre from the Jesuit 
Father Nouvel, dated April 23, 1684, in which it is not 
difficult to detect the sympathy of his order with the 
opponents of La Salle. 48 Nouvel tells La Barre that 
Monsieur le Chevalier de Baugy, seconded by some 


Frenchmen whom he had with him and some savages, had 
valiantly defended the fort. Not a word is said of Ton- 
ty's part in the affair, but could we refer to any Iroquois 
accounts of the siege we may be sure that these would 
not ignore Le Bras Coupe's share in their defeat. The 
letter also says that Durantaye is just setting out for his 
twelfth trip towards the Illinois country, for the purpose 
of aiding Monsieur le Chevalier de Baugy. And we 
likewise learn from this epistle that Father Allouez, 
whose visits to the land of the Illinois usually coincided 
with La Salle's departures from it, would accompany Dur- 
antaye to perform the offices of his faith among the 
French and savages on the route. 49 

The 2 1 st of May there arrived at Fort St. Louis Allouez 
and Durantaye, who led some sixty Frenchmen, osten- 
sibly for the relief of the post, although the Iroquois had 
retired nearly two months before. 50 The real reason was 
that La Barre had determined to remove Tonty, and Dur- 
antaye brought force enough to quell any opposition to 
this arbitrary act among the colonists. Upon the 2 2d 
Durantaye presented to Tonty the Governor's commands 
that he should leave Fort St. Louis, putting De Baugy 
in possession of all that had belonged to La Salle, and 
report at Quebec. 51 Tonty, mindful of La Salle's advice, 
promptly obeyed the distasteful order, and surrendered 
his charge to De Baugy, 52 leaving in disgrace, as it were, 
the place to which he was to return in honor. His tried 
comrade, Boisrondet, and a few other faithful ones gath- 
ered around him one May morning as he pushed off from 
the landing below the fort, while his opponents looked 
down in triumph from the parapets above. 53 Almost 
alone, he urged his solitary canoe against the stream, and 
then by portage, lake and river went steadily onward 


until, perhaps two months later, he saw the little town of 
Montreal, which he had last visited nearly six years 
before. After a brief respite he proceeded to Quebec, 
where he found little favor at the court of the Governor. 54 
La Salle was now in France. He had reached Quebec, 
accompanied by Nicolas de La Salle, November 13, 1683, 
and sailing for Europe soon after, they had landed at La 
Rochelle January 17, 1684.'" While still in Canada, how- 
ever, the Governor had contrived to do him another 
wrong. La Salle's seignory of Fort Frontenac he had 
always carefully maintained, and in October, 1682, when 
prevented from going there by the threatened Iroquois 
invasion of the West, he had sent a petition to Count 
Frontenac from Mackinac, begging him to increase the 
garrison, if necessary, at La Salle's expense. The Count 
handed the petition to his successor, La Barre, who prom- 
ised to attend to it, but, instead of so doing, recalled all 
the soldiers at the post, which would have been aban- 
doned had not Francois Noir, a merchant of Montreal, 
reoccupied it in La Salle's behalf. La Barre neverthe- 
less forced Noir to surrender the property to two of the 
Governor's associates, Le Chesnaye and Le Vert, who 
took possession of it, and refused to permit La Salle's 
lieutenant, La Forest, to return to command there unless 
he became their partner. This La Forest declined to do, 
knowing what injustice they were committing towards 
La Salle and his creditors, and returned to France. 56 By 
the time La Salle appeared at Quebec, La Barre had 
become convinced that in this case at least he had gone 
too far, and was ready to promise restitution of Fort 
Frontenac 57 and to advance to La Salle the sum of four 
thousand livres for his present necessities, taking secur- 
ity, however, upon his stock of beaver skins at Fort St. 


Louis. Winter and spring passed, midsummer came, and 
still nothing was heard from La Salle's appeal to the 
King. The Governor took courage, and regretting his 
improvident loan, determined to collect it by summary- 
process. On the 26th of July, 1684, La Barre, being then 
in camp at Lachine at the inception of his fruitless cam- 
paign against the Iroquois, found time to issue an order 
to the Chevalier de Baugy, reciting that La Salle had 
obtained the loan by false pretenses, such as that he had 
left at Fort St. Louis of the Illinois beaver enough to pay 
the sum lent, which had been found to be untrue ; and 
commanding that all of La Salle's effects at the fort 
should be seized and applied to this debt, without regard 
to the demands of any other creditors. 58 

La Barre evidently believed that there could be no 
redress for this despotic action, but soon had reason to 
change his opinion in this regard. La Salle's new 
scheme for the control of the Mississippi by a fort and 
colony near its mouth, communicating directly with the 
Illinois country, had received the approval of the King, 
who listened with ready sympathy to the story of his 
wrongs. 59 The minister Seignelay wrote La Barre April 
10, 1684, that the King wished him, if the accounts 
received of his acts at Fort Frontenac were true, to attend 
to the reparation of the wrong done La Salle and to 
restore all the property belonging to him to Sieur de La 
Forest, who was returning to Canada by His Majesty's 
order. 60 The King himself wrote the Governor to the same 
effect four days later, and on the same day issued a new 
commission to La Salle as Commandant of the whole 
ree-ion from Fort St. Louis on the River of the Illinois unto 
New Biscay (the northern province of Mexico). 61 And 
again, on July 31, 1684, the King addressed the Governor, 


reiterating his former commands, and warning him to do 
nothing adverse to the interests of La Salle, whom he 
had taken under his particular protection. 62 The trem- 
bling La Barre could only marvel at the good fortune of 
the man whom he had so deeply wronged, and await the 
coming of his representative, to whom he must make full 
restitution. La Forest sailed from La Rochelle in the 
latter half of July, 1684. 63 When he landed at Quebec 
two months later he was warmly greeted by Tonty. To 
him he brought the well deserved commission of a cap- 
tain of foot in the French army, which La Salle had 
obtained for him, and the appointment of Governor of 
Fort St. Louis. 64 La Forest also brought a positive order 
from the King, dated April 15, 1684, for the return to 
La Salle's officers of Forts St. Louis and Frontenac, and 
departed in the autumn to assume command of the lat- 
ter. 65 He had taken measures with Tonty to procure an 
outfit costing twenty thousand livres for the replenishing 
of Fort St. Louis, so long deprived of necessary supplies. 
As soon as this was ready Tonty embarked with it for 
the Illinois country, expecting to be there the same 
season, but the ice forming early in the St. Lawrence 
barred his path, and he was obliged to halt at Montreal, 
where, after a visit to Quebec, he passed the winter. 

In the springtime La Forest descended the river to 
Montreal, arranged La Salle's affairs there in conjunc- 
tion with Tonty, and returned to Fort Frontenac. Tonty 
accompanied him as far as that post, and rejoiced that it 
was no longer in the possession of those who had used its 
advantages to the prejudice of La Salle. Thence the 
new Governor of Fort St. Louis pushed forward to his 
own command. 66 He bore an order from La Barre to De 
Baugy, issued at Quebec September 29, 1684, directing 


the latter by the command of the King to restore the fort 
to Tonty as La Salle's representative, with all of La 
Salle's property, and to return with his men to Mackinac. 67 
Late in June the little flotilla, as it descended the River 
Illinois, was sighted from the lookout of Fort St. Louis ; 
and soon the trusty soldier resumed the position of which 
he had been so unjustly deprived the year before. He 
may well have worn an air of quiet triumph as he saluted 
De Baugy within the enclosure of the fort, while won- 
dering savages and expectant white men gathered around 
him as he presented the order which it had wrung La 
Barre's soul to sign. The original Tonty retained in his 
own hands, but gave De Baugy a copy. He also gave 
him a formal receipt, in which Tonty, describing himself 
as first seigneur of the Isle of Tonty, captain of a com- 
pany detached from the marine, sub-delegate of Monsieur 
de Meulle, Intendant of New France, to the country of the 
Ottawas and other nations, and Governor of Fort St. 
Louis, certified that Chevalier de Baugy had restored the 
fort to him by order of Monsieur de La Barre, Governor- 
General of Canada, which he had received from the King. 
He also certified that he had found the fort in the same 
condition in which he had left it the 2 2d of May the pre- 
ceding year, 68 when obliged to go down to Quebec by the 
order of the said Monsieur de La Barre. There were at 
the fort some military supplies which the Governor had 
sent thither by one Sieur Vital, while De Baugy was in 
command, although such aid had been steadily refused 
in La Salle's time. La Barre did not choose that these 
should benefit Tonty, and so directed De Baugy to 
remove them with his own possessions, after he had col- 
lected the four thousand livres loaned La Salle. These 
were the last orders which the Governor had the oppor- 


tunity to issue in regard to Fort St. Louis, and pre- 
sumably were complied with. The papers delivered by 
Tonty to De Baugy were dated June 26, 1685, and the 
latter with his men doubtless set out on that day for 
Mackinac where he was instructed to report for further 
orders. 69 Tonty found that under De Baugy's adminis- 
tration differences had arisen between the Illinois and 
the Miami tribes. 70 The latter suddenly attacked the 
former, and the quelling of the outbreak taxed Tonty's 
resources to the utmost. It cost him a thousand crowns 
worth of presents and infinite toil and persuasion to heal 
the breach between these nations, whose separation 
meant the destruction of both by the Iroquois. 71 When 
this was accomplished and autumn had come, startling 
rumors concerning La Salle began to fill the air. The 
story reached Fort St. Louis that its founder had landed 
on the coast of Florida in April, 1685, that one of his 
vessels had been wrecked, and that he was fighting with the 
savages and was in need of provisions. 72 Tonty sent some 
of his Indian allies to the Mississippi to seek for further 
news, and determined to go in person to Mackinac to 
obtain the latest reliable advices of La Salle. He desired 
also to counteract the malice of La Barre who had actu- 
ally issued an order to Durantaye to confiscate supplies 
going to Fort St. Louis. Arriving at Mackinac Tonty 
rejoiced to hear that La Barre was no longer in power." 
His shameful peace with the Iroquois concluded in Sep- 
tember, 1684, in which he had abandoned the Illinois 
tribes to the fury of the Five Nations, had so incensed 
the King that he had recalled the recreant Governor. His 
successor the Marquis de Denonville, had taken his seat 
August 13, 1685, and one of his first acts was to send a 
letter to Tonty telling him that he wished to see him to 


concert measures for a war with the Iroquois, and that 
La Salle had gone by sea to search for the mouth of the 
Mississippi. 74 This letter was entrusted to the trader 
Rolland who had touched at Mackinac and passed on 
westward before the arrival of Tonty. But he learned of 
it there and also heard some confirmation of the dis- 
quieting accounts concerning La Salle. 75 The faithful 
lieutenant therefore resolved to go with a party of his 
Canadians in search of his chief, to whom he felt he owed 
his first duty, and, having found him and relieved his 
wants, to retrace his steps and report to Denonville. The 
toilsome canoe journey of more than three thousand 
miles commencing in late autumn on Lake Michigan's 
storm-tossed waters, had no terrors for this brave and 
loyal soul whom nothing could turn from the discharge 
of his duty. On the day of St. Andrew the Apostle, 
November 30th, in the year 1685, his little craft sped 
forth from the shore at Mackinac, and began to skirt the 
coast. Soon floating ice was encountered, and later the 
frozen surface held fast the canoe. Its intrepid occupant 
and his few companions were obliged to abandon it, and 
make their way to the shore which they traversed on foot 
for nearly three hundred miles. They suffered greatly 
for want of provisions, as the severe weather had driven 
away the game; but they plodded stoutly on for full 
twenty weary days and came at last to the fort of Chi- 
cago. 76 This was a new structure, apparently built during 
the summer of 1685." When Fort St. Louis was restored 
to the representative of La Salle, the Jesuits, ever at 
odds with him, ceased their attempts to gain a foothold 
there. They determined to have a post of their own in 
the Illinois country and as La Salle's latest royal com- 
mission made him commandant of the region from Fort 


St. Louis to New Biscay, it was apparently assumed that 
his jurisdiction no longer extended to Lake Michigan." 
The present Chicago River was one of the natural routes 
to the interior, and a location upon it was accordingly 
selected as the headquarters of this powerful organization 
in the land of the Illinois. A fort was erected there, but 
it seems to have occupied a different position from that 
of La Salle's stockade of 1683. 79 The latter is spoken of 
as at the Chicago portage, but the former as the fort of 
Chicago. 80 Franquelin's map of 1684 shows an Indian 
village of eighty warriors, representing a population of 
perhaps four hundred souls, situated just west of the 
junction of the two branches of the River Chicago. 81 
These are said to have been Miamis persuaded by Allouez 
to leave the neighborhood of Fort St. Louis in 1683. 82 
The Jesuits usually established themselves near the 
Indian habitations, and it is not improbable that their 
fort was established at this junction. This structure or 
a successor upon the same site was doubtless that 
referred to more than a hundred years later in Wayne's 
treaty with the North Western Indians, which identifies 
the Chicago River as the place where a fort formerly 
stood. 83 Other savages were induced to remove from Fort 
St. Louis to the new settlement, and the favor of La 
Barre made it a royal post. Durantaye was placed in 
command, and this was the beginning of civilized gov- 
ernment where the western metropolis now stands. The 
name of Olivier Morel, Sieur de La Durantaye, should 
be remembered in this connection as that of a brave and 
able officer who was the first commandant at Chicago. 

With him Tonty made a brief stay and proceeded 
thence to his own Fort St. Louis where he arrived the 
middle of January, 1686. He set forth again by a differ- 


ent route to seek for the trader Rolland, whom he met, 
and received from him the letter from Denonville whose 
favor made an agreeable change in affairs at the fort. 
The colonists felt themselves now to be under the pro- 
tection of a friendly Governor, and readily volunteered 
for the expedition down the Mississippi. The Indian 
scouts returned in February with no further news, and 
Tonty felt that he must again and forthwith go to the 
sea. 84 La Forest, leaving Dorvilliers, one of Denonville's 
staff in charge at Frontenac, came to Fort St. Louis to 
command the garrison of thirty-one white men during 
Tonty 's absence. On February 16th, twenty-five French- 
men with Tonty at their head descended from the rocky 
citadel to the frozen river, and manned the drag ropes 
of the sledges laden with their equipage. In this hardy 
band were some who had accompanied La Salle from the 
Illinois country to the Gulf of Mexico, one of whom was 
the surgeon Jean Michel; and we note also the name of 
Rene Cuillerier, prominent in the annals of Lachine 
and Montreal, and an ancestor of the Beaubiens, so well 
known in the early days of Chicago. Four Shawnee 
Indians were hired to go with the party who tracked the 
ice-clad stream to a point forty leagues below where open 
water appeared. Forty leagues beyond they found the 
Illinois in their winter quarters and distributed presents 
and invitations from Denonville to march in the spring, 
to unite with the French from Canada in a war upon the 
Iroquois. The savages willingly agreed to do their part, 
and five of them joined Tonty at once, and descended the 
river with him. The natives were friendly along the 
whole route, and in Holy Week they were at the mouth 
of the Mississippi just three years to a day after La 
Salle's former occupation of the region. They explored 


the shore thirty leagues in either direction, but found no 
trace of the lost leader. Denonville's urgent commands 
weighed upon Tonty and he made the daring proposal to 
his men that the party should follow the Atlantic coast 
to Manhatte (New York) and go thence to Montreal. He 
could not unite them in this project, and so was obliged 
to return the way he came. At the Isle of St. Henry by 
the coast of the sea of Florida, opposite the western 
mouth of the River Colbert, on April 13, 1686, a formal 
proces verbal of their voyage was executed by or in 
behalf of Tonty and his twenty-five Frenchmen, four 
Shawanoes and five Illinois, thirty-four men in all. 

As they ascended the mighty stream, they halted at the 
point where the royal arms erected by La Salle had been 
thrown down by a flood, and replanted them on a more 
elevated site. In an augur hole in a tree near by Tonty 
placed a letter for La Salle. At the Quinnipissa village 
a hundred and fifty leagues from the coast he left 
another, recounting what had been done and expressing 
the greatest regret at the unsuccessful search. 85 This 
epistle the chief sacredly preserved and gave to D' Iber- 
ville when he entered the Mississippi fourteen years 
later. 86 From these savages and some Illinois captives 
in another village near by, accounts of La Salle's arrival 
on the coast were received, but it was said that he had 
put to sea in the spring, whether for France or the West 
India Islands or for further exploration no one could tell. 
It was useless to linger and Tonty uttering a prayer for 
La Salle's safety, proceeded northward. At the Arkan- 
sas River ten of his men besought him for concessions in 
the seignory there which La Salle had given him when 
he descended the Mississippi. He made grants to some 
who remained at this point, and set about the construe- 


tion of a house protected by palisades. The rest of the 
party kept on their way to Fort St. Louis, arriving on 
June 24th, after an absence of a little more than four 
months. The Frenchmen were glad to rest, but Tonty 
knew not the meaning of the word. He persuaded two 
Illinois chiefs to embark with him, and pressed forward 
to Montreal, where he landed at the end of July. Re- 
maining during August to hold the necessary conferences 
with Denonville, he left again for the Illinois country at 
the commencement of September, and beached his canoe 
at the foot of the rock of Fort St. Louis early in Decem- 
ber. One year before he had left Mackinac to go to the 
sea, and during ten of the ensuing twelve months, he 
had been journeying constantly on foot or in a canoe, 
covering a distance of more than five thousand miles and 
twice traversing the continent between the Gulf of 
Mexico and the lower St. Lawrence. 87 

Preparations were going on apace for the war with 
the Iroquois. Their fierce determination to destroy the 
Illinois tribes to which La Barre had yielded in his dis- 
graceful treaty, their pillage of Beauvais' party, and their 
attack upon Fort St. Louis were among the reasons for 
the French King's resolve to humble the pride of the 
Five Nations. 88 The Marquis de Denonville, from the 
day he assumed office, had been actively engaged in 
the necessary arrangements. His letters to La Forest's 
successor at Frontenac ; to Duluth who was placed this 
year in command of a palisaded fort at the foot of Lake 
Huron with a garrison of fifty men; and to Durantaye 
who had returned from Chicago to Mackinac; disclose 
the plan of campaign. As large a force as possible was 
to proceed from Canada to the south shore of Lake 
Ontario where they were to meet as many coureurs de 


bois, colonists and savages as could be gathered at the 
western posts, and together they were to attack the 
villages of the Senecas, the most powerful and the most 
troublesome tribe of the Iroquois. 89 To La Forest as 
commandant at the Illinois, the Governor wrote on the 
6th of June, 1686, to impress iipon him the importance 
of having the Illinois force in readiness to march, and 
himself at their head, as soon as the signal should be 
given. If Tonty should return, it would be well for him 
to take the lead, but if the poor man had perished on his 
voyage to the sea, which the Governor seemed greatly 
to fear, then La Forest was to choose the best man for 
the place, if he himself were unable to command. The 
Governor promised to send muskets for the Illinois con- 
tingent to Duluth's fort, and again expressed his solici- 
tude for Tonty concerning whom alarming rumors had 
reached him. And La Forest was instructed to com- 
municate with the Jesuit Father Engelran of the Green 
Bay Mission, who was Denonville's principal adviser. 90 
But ere this letter arrived at Fort St. Louis, the man 
who had been almost given up for lost appeared there in 
such health and spirits that he was able, as we have seen, 
to go at once to Montreal to reassure the Governor and 
give him most valuable aid and counsel for the approach- 
ing campaign. 

When Tonty returned to Fort St. Louis in December 
he sent out trusty messengers among the Illinois tribes to 
bid them rendezvous at his post in good season in the 
spring for the long march to the country of the Iroquois. 
They joyfully complied and early in April, 1687, the 
lodges of the war parties arose on the prairie near the 
fort. Tonty welcomed his allies with appropriate cere- 
monies including a dog feast which gave much satisfac- 


tion, and announced to the warriors that the great King 
beyond the ocean, and his servant at Quebec, Onontio, 
desired them to go on the war path against the children 
of the Long House. They heard him with clamorous 
delight, and one and all decked themselves for the fray 
and performed their war dance. La Forest had already 
departed with thirty Frenchmen in canoes, arranging to 
meet Tonty on the strait between Lakes Huron and Erie 
at the end of May. Tonty left twenty of his men in the 
fort with Sieur de Bellefontaine in command, and set 
forth on April 17th, having with him sixteen Frenchmen 
and a Miami guide. He made his first encampment but 
a mile away and awaited there his savage companions. 
Fifty Shawanoes, four Mohegans and seven Miamis 
joined him the first night and the next day more than 
three hundred Illinois warriors came up, but only one 
hundred and forty-nine of them were willing to go 
further. The little army marched on foot across what 
is now northern Indiana and southern Michigan, and 
on May 19th went into camp on the strait leading to 
Lake Erie near a little stockade called by them Fort 
Detroit. While they were making canoes of elm bark, 
Tonty sent a messenger to Fort St. Joseph, as Duluth's 
new post was called. The second in command, Beauvais 
de Tilly, soon appeared and was followed by La Forest, 
Durantaye and Duluth with their respective detachments. 
As they disembarked, Tonty formed his Frenchmen and 
savages in two rows, between which the new comers 
marched and exchanged salutes with the soldiers from 
the distant land of the Illinois. The combined forces 
numbered one hundred and eighty Frenchmen and four 
hundred Indians and now launched their canoes on Lake 
Erie to go to join the troops from the St. Lawrence. 


The expedition landed on the Niagara River and estab- 
lished itself below the portage, where a stockade was 
built, while advices were awaited from Denonville then 
at Fort Frontenac. La Forest went in a swift canoe, to 
report to him, and returned with orders to meet the main 
body on July ioth at Irondequoit Bay on the south shore 
of Lake Ontario. 91 The Governor led a force of about 
two thousand French regulars, militia and Indians who 
crossed the lake in barques and canoes. And as these 
approached the bay on the evening of the appointed day 
the western forces were seen plying their paddles along 
the lake. This well timed junction aroused the greatest 
enthusiasm among all of the troops as they disembarked 
together. 'Never," says a contemporary writer, "has 
Canada seen, and never will it see, a spectacle like to this; 
the three barques moored vis-a-vis to the camp, in which 
in one quarter were the regular troops of France, with 
the court of the Governor-General; in another the four 
battalions of the Canadian soldiery commanded by the 
chief men of the country; in a third the Christian Indians 
from the missions near the settlements; and in the 
remaining space a tumultuous crowd of untamed savages 
of different tribes, almost naked, undisciplined, their 
bodies painted with all sorts of figures, wearing horns on 
their heads and tails at their backs, armed with bows 
and arrows and keeping up an endless chatter the live- 
long night, with songs and dances of every kind." 92 M. 
de Vaudreuil, who had brought the royal troops from 
France acted as Chief of Staff to the Marquis de Denon- 
ville; M. de Callieres commanded the regulars, and 
Sidrac Dugue the militia, with Berthier, de La Valterye, 
Granville, and Le Moyne de Longueuil as battalion 
officers, and Sainte H61ene, another scion of the famous 


family of Le Moyne, ruled the three hundred Christian 
Indians. Very prominent were the three captains from 
the west, Tonty, Duluth and Durantaye, and very pic- 
turesque were their motley companies of bold wood 
rangers and wild Indian warriors. Tonty occupied a 
defensive position with his band of French and Illinois, 
while a fort was built at the bay to protect the line of 
communication. On July 12th the whole army moved 
towards the Seneca villages, with the three western 
captains and their men in the van. Two dangerous 
defiles were passed without attack, but as the line was 
crossing a little stream and ascending a wooded ridge 
beyond, the war cries of the Senecas were heard and 
five hundred of their warriors fell upon the advance. 
Most of the western Indians fled at the first discharge 
and left exposed the flanks of Tonty's detachment which 
was at the immediate front. But the Frenchmen held 
their ground, and those tried soldiers, Duluth and Dur- 
antaye ably supported their comrade Tonty. In the hot 
fight which ensued Tonty's lieutenant and two of his 
men were slain, and the army lost five white men and six 
Indians in all, while eleven were wounded including the 
Jesuit Father Engelran. The main body came up led by 
Denonville in his shirt sleeves, sword in hand, shouting 
orders to fire constantly and beat the drums, the sound of 
which was more terrifying to the savages than even the 
roll of musketry. The baffled Senecas, losing heart and 
seeing themselves outnumbered, fled the field, leaving 
twenty-seven dead behind, and fourteen others were over- 
taken and scalped by the French Indians. The steady 
courage of the men of the West saved the day. Denon- 
ville, in his dispatches, praises most highly the conduct 
of the three captains and their French followers. Duran- 


taye received a commission in one of the regular regi- 
ments, and Duluth and Tonty and La Forest as well were 
specially recommended to the home government for 
reward. A week was spent in destroying the crops and 
villages of the Senecas, and while this work was going 
on seven Illinois warriors arrived, armed with bows and 
arrows, who had made the long journey on foot from 
their distant land to take part in the fray. 93 Denonville 
withdrew to the coast, and his forces returned to their 
respective homes. Tonty and Duluth, accompanied by 
the Baron La Hontan, a picturesque figure in these early 
annals, and later an alleged visitor to the Illinois region, 
proceeded to Duluth's Fort St. Joseph, of which La Hon- 
tan was now put in command. Thence Father Jacques 
Gravier, thereafter to be closely associated with the land 
of the Illinois, went with Tonty to Mackinac. From this 
point the latter and his Frenchmen set out in their canoes 
for Fort St. Louis, their Indian companions having 
returned by the land route. 94 

While Tonty and his comrades were merrily pursuing 
their homeward way, rejoicing in the victory and the 
honors they had won, a melancholy company were slowly 
approaching Fort St. Louis from the opposite direction. 

La Salle lay dead in the wilderness on the bank of one 
of the branches of the stream now known as the Trinity 
River, in the State of Texas. 9r ' His vast plans had all 
been thwarted by a complication of disasters, and he met 
his death at an assassin's hand on the 19th day of March 
in the year 1687. His few companions had escaped with 
difficulty from his murderers, and made the desperate 
attempt to find their way to the Mississippi and so to the 
Illinois. One of their number was drowned while bath- 
ing, and the six others, after a toilsome two months' 


journey, emerged from the forest upon the bank of the 
Arkansas River. On the other shore, to their inexpres- 
sible delight, they saw a great cross, and near it a house 
built after the French fashion. It was the settlement 
made by six of Tonty's men on his return from his last 
journey to the sea, four of whom had since gone to the 
Illinois region, and the wayfarers were most heartily 
welcomed by the remaining two. These were Couture 
and Delaunay, both natives of Rouen, who heard with 
exceeding sorrow of the untoward fate of their former 
leader and fellow townsman. 96 One of the travelers cast 
in his lot with Tonty's men, and the remaining five 
departed on July 27th to ascend the Mississippi. 97 These 
were the Abbe Cavelier, La Salle's elder brother, his 
nephew, young Cavelier, Father Anastase Douay, of the 
Recollet order, Teissier, a mariner, and Henri de Joutel. 98 
The latter was a native of Rouen, son of a gardener, who 
had been employed by La Salle's uncle. He had served 
sixteen years in the French army, and had volunteered 
in La Salle's last expedition, of which he has left us a very 
full and well written account. 99 When this expedition set 
forth from France in 1684 it comprised one hundred and 
seventy-three men, besides some women and children. 
The only fragments of the organization which remained 
were barely twenty people at La Salle's new fort on the 
Texas coast, a single soldier at the Arkansas, and this 
forlorn band of five persons now seeking refuge at Fort 
St. Louis. 100 

On August 19th they passed the mouth of the Ohio 
River, of which Joutel says it is a very beautiful stream, 
with very clear water and a very gentle current. To it 
their Indian guide whom they had secured at a village on 
the Mississippi offered sacrifices of tobacco and broiled 


meat placed on forked sticks on its banks to be disposed 
of as the river might think fit. As they skirted the Illi- 
nois shore of the Mississippi they found the country 
diversified with hillocks covered with oak and walnut 
groves. There was great store of plums and of fruits 
whose names they did not know, and an abundance of 
buffalo and other game. September ist they saw on 
their left the muddy waters of the headlong Missouri, to 
which also their Indians made offerings, and the next 
day arrived at the place where were the paintings of the 
monsters described by Marquette, as Joutel supposed. 
But as he speaks of these as two wretched figures drawn 
in red on the flat side of a rock ten or twelve feet high, it 
is evident that he could not have seen those mentioned 
by Marquette. Poor as these were, the superstitious 
natives paid homage to them also, despite Joutel's remon- 
strances, to which they replied that they should die, if 
they did not perform this duty. On the 3d, the party left 
the Mississippi to enter the River of the Illinois. 101 Its 
gentle current and beautiful shores were very agreeable 
to them, and they made good progress except when they 
attempted to follow some directions given them by Cou- 
ture, and missed the channel. Passing many abandoned 
Indian camps and the landmark of the two isolated and 
rounded hills to which the voyageurs had given the name 
of Les Deux Mamelles, they came on the nth to Lake 
Pimiteoui. Signs that a band of natives was just in 
advance of them were observed, and on the 13th several 
were seen on the river bank. One came to reconnoitre, 
and upon learning that the strangers were La Salle's 
men, great delight was shown and salutes of musketry 
were interchanged. The savages, upon being asked of 
what nation they were, replied that they were Illinois of 


J 75 

the Kaskaskia tribe. They also informed the Frenchmen 
that Tonty had not yet returned from the Iroquois war. 
The next day, as they neared their goal, other natives 
appeared on the shore, to whom the travelers repeatedly 
called that they were of the people of La Salle. At 
length the magic name was recognized, and a swift run- 
ner of the Shawanoe tribe called Turpin sped away to 
carry the news to Fort St. Louis, which loomed in the 
distance, above the valley. 

The breathless messenger, understanding that La Salle 
himself was of the party, so announced at the gateway. 
Quickly a Frenchman was seen descending the steep path 
amid a throng of Indians, who were firing their pieces in 
welcome. He uttered friendly greetings as he drew near, 
and joined with the natives in inviting them to land. 
They did so, leaving one man to guard the canoe, and 
their dusky hosts presented them with dried pumpkins, 
water melons, corn and bread. Then with their tumul- 
tuous escort they walked towards the fort, whence 
other Frenchmen, one of whom was Boisrondet, came to 
meet them. These all embraced them, and with one 
voice inquired for La Salle. Cavelier had agreed with 
his associates to conceal his brother's death, pretending 
this to be necessary to control the Indians, but really for 
his own advantage as the representative of the absent 
chief. He therefore replied that La Salle had come part 
of the way with them, and was in good health when they 
parted, and had instructed them to proceed in advance 
to France to report his discoveries. His companions 
acquiesced in this deception, which was readily accepted 
as the truth by the inquirers who joined the throng which 
accompanied the newcomers to the fort. Here they 
found the Sieur de Bellefontaine, Tonty's lieutenant, and 


commanding in his absence, at the head of his garrison 
paraded under arms, who had received them with salvos 
of musketry and every sign of rejoicing. 102 

As soon as the wayfarers entered, the Abbe Cavelier 
asked for the chapel, and led the way thither to return 
thanks to God for their marvelous preservation. A Te 
Deum was chanted within the rude walls, while volleys 
were fired without. The worshipers performed their 
devotions with uneasy consciences, for they realized that 
such enthusiasm would make it easy to send aid forthwith 
to La Salle's miserable colonists on the gulf. But now 
their falsehood had sealed their lips and obliged them to 
delay the much-needed succor until they could reach 
France. They went next to the building in which were 
the officers' quarters, and while they were there made at 
home, bands of savages came in quick succession to dis- 
charge their pieces at the door in token of their joy at the 
news from La Salle. Bellefontaine gave the Abbe" an 
apartment by himself, and Father Douay, Joutel and the 
rest were lodged in the great storeroom of merchandise 
and peltries of which Boisrondet had charge. The fort 
appeared much as at the time of its erection four years 
before. The palisades and wooden redoubts surrounding 
the acre and a half on the summit of the rock, the log 
houses and the lighter picket structures, and the four 
great beams from which water could be drawn to the top 
of the cliff in case of siege, were all noted by the trained 
eye of the soldier Joutel. A number of huts had also 
been erected within the walls of the fort by the savages, 
who took refuge there at the approach of an Iroquois 
invading force. 103 And in one part of the enclosure was a 
striking illustration of the burial customs of the Illinois 
and of their reverence for their mighty dead. In a sort 


of wooden coffin supported upon four posts were the 
bones of one whom they described as that ruler of their 
nation who had welcomed La Salle to that land and made 
him a present of it, and recognized him as the father of 
that people. 104 This must have been the great chief Chas- 
sagoac, with whom La Salle had the remarkable confer- 
ence at the old Indian village six leagues above the site 
of Fort St. Louis, on his way from Crevecceur to Fronte- 
nac in the spring of 1680. It seemed as if the tribe held 
Chassagoac in such reverence as to take special care that 
his remains should not be desecrated by such outrages as 
the Iroquois had committed in their terrible invasion, and 
so had brought these to sleep undisturbed within the 
white man's stronghold. 

In one of the apartments of the fort there lay ill La 
Salle's old opponent, the Jesuit Father Allouez. He 
manifested great alarm upon the arrival of Cavelier's 
party understanding at first that La Salle was with them. 
When the priests and Joutel came to call upon him he 
inquired concerning their leader, and was told that when 
La Salle left them he intended to come to the Illinois 
country and might be there in a little time. Allouez 
heard the news with much agitation, and began at once 
to plan, as on other occasions, to depart before La Salle's 
arrival. Cavelier was impatient to be off that he might 
reach Quebec in season to sail for France that year, and 
tarried but three days at Fort St. Louis. He made the 
acquaintance of the chiefs of the Kaskaskia and Peoria 
tribes who were established there, of the Shawanoes who 
had dwelt in the neighborhood since they came at La 
Salle's invitation in 1683, and of the Miamis who were 
encamped a league or more up the river upon the eleva- 
tion now known as Buffalo Rock. The fortunate arrival 


of three voyageurs from Mackinac, who were willing to 
act as their guides and canoemen thither, enabled the five 
Frenchmen who had traveled all the way from the Texas 
coast to resume their adventurous journey on September 
1 8, 1687. Accompanied by a dozen savages detailed by 
the chief of the Shawanoes to carry their provisions and 
peltries, they made such expedition, considering the shal- 
lowness of the river, that in a week's time they arrived 
at the place called Checagou. Joutel carefully records, 
and this is probably the earliest definition of the word, 
establishing its meaning beyond all doubt, that it takes 
this name from the quantity of garlic which grows in the 
woods in this locality. He describes the portage, the 
streams on either side, and the other natural features so 
minutely that there can be no question but that the place 
referred to is the site of the great city of to-da)'. Here 
they were storm-stayed for eight days, and, when at length 
they embarked on Lake Michigan, waves as large as those 
of the ocean, and fear of a scarcity of provisions com- 
pelled them to return to the entrance of the River of Che- 
cagou. At this point they made a cache of their goods, 
peltries and ammunition, built a platform on which they 
left the canoe since low water made the streams unnavi- 
gable, and set out on foot for Fort St. Louis, where they 
appeared again on October 7th, to the great surprise of 
the garrison, who had believed them to be far on their 
way to Montreal. 105 

Some of Tonty's Indian cohorts had already reached 
the fort, bringing tidings of the attack upon the Five 
Nations, and on the 27th of October the "man with the 
iron arm" himself appeared with his soldier comrades, 
among whom was one of his cousins, Greysolon de La 
Tourette, a younger brother of the famous Greysolon 


Duluth. Tonty gave Cavelier's party a cordial greet- 
ing, and listened with absorbing interest to their accounts 
of La Salle's ill-starred expedition and their own experi- 
ences. They concealed from him also the death of La 
Salle, having agreed not to speak of this until they were 
in France. Tonty, at their request, gave them a sketch 
of what had taken place in the recent campaign, including 
the capture of English trading parties on Lakes Huron 
and Erie, who were on their way to make an establish- 
ment in the Illinois country. During the autumn La 
Forest came again to Fort St. Louis, to pass the winter 
with his fellow captain in the Iroquois war. December 
20th two Frenchmen arrived at the post and reported 
that they had left at Checagou three canoes loaded with 
merchandise and ammunition which the canoemen, who 
had brought them from Montreal, could not proceed 
further with, because of ice in the river. Tonty at once 
arranged with the chief of the Shawanoes to send thirty 
of his people to bring these supplies to the fort. Joutel 
says they employed this tribe because of their fidelity, 
and that they could go among the whites and through the 
storehouse without anything being missed. The Illinois, 
on the contrary, he says, are naturally rogues, and it is 
very necessary to keep watch of their feet as well as their 
hands when anything is within reach of either. One of 
the two men who brought advices of the canoes at Chi- 
cago was the Sieur Juchereau de Saint Denis, a distin- 
guished Canadian, Durantaye's second in command at 
Mackinac, whom Tonty as he passed that station on his 
homeward voyage had invited to make him a visit at the 
Illinois to enjoy the good hunting there. Game was 
abundant well through the winter, and in good condition 
as there were plenteous supplies of nuts and acorns for 


food. Merry companies sallied forth upon the frozen 
river at daybreak, drawing light sledges which they 
brought back to the fort at nightfall laden with deer. 106 
"Of our living," says the chronicler, "there was no com- 
plaint to make, except that we had nothing but water to 
drink." The winter passed swiftly with hunting parties 
by day and pleasant gatherings at night around cheery 
log fires in the snug quarters of the fort. Within, soldier 
and priest, trapper and native, mingled together and 
related tales of foray and ambuscade, of stormy ocean 
voyages and weary journeys through the wilderness. 
Without, the snow lay deep on all the land of the Illinois, 
and the nearest white men were at the little mission at 
the head of the distant Green Bay. There was occasional 
excitement, moreover, at the departure and return of the 
savage war parties which kept up the contest with the 
bloodthirsty Iroquois. In the month of January alone 
the Abbe Cavelier saw thirteen such expeditions of Illi- 
nois Indians set out from Fort St. Louis, two of forty and 
eleven of twenty warriors each, or three hundred in all. 
The Miamis put in the field one band of eighty and sev- 
eral smaller ones, while the Shawanoes sent several num- 
bering one hundred and fifty in all. One at least of the 
Illinois parties returned to the fort with Iroquois pris- 
oners of whom six were made slaves, and six were burned 
at the stake. During that winter and spring the Illinois 
furnished tangible proofs, presumably scalps, that they 
had put to death two hundred and forty persons among 
the Iroquois in their own land. 107 Tonty relates that the 
Five Nations attempted to make reprisals, but were val- 
iantly withstood by the Illinois, who had greatly improved 
in the art of war under French guidance and so harried 
the Senecas that this tribe was obliged to remain in its 


villages all winter and refrain from raids upon the 
Canadian settlements. Furthermore, he says, "our Illi- 
nois have captured and brought to Fort St. Louis eighty 
Iroquois slaves. ' ' And he adds with a ferocious exultation 
which we regret to see in him, but for which his times 
were in a measure responsible, "we have made a good 
broiling of them. " 108 

Apprehension lest some of the men at the Arkansas 
settlement should come to Fort St. Louis and reveal the 
truth concerning La Salle, spurred Cavelier to as early a 
departure as the season permitted. But his anxiety was 
surpassed by that of Allouez, who set out a week or 
more before him. 109 One feared the arrival of the living 
La Salle, the other the receipt of the news of his death. 
Cavelier produced an order which La Salle had given him 
when his return to France by way of Canada was first 
planned, directing Tonty to give Cavelier what he needed 
for the expenses of the party, and 2,652 livres in payment 
of La Salle's indebtedness to his brother. 110 The unsus- 
picious Tonty honored the draft, never dreaming that the 
maker was no longer in the land of the living, and gave 
Cavelier four thousand livres in beaver, and a canoe. m 
Thus provided, the unscrupulous priest made ready to 
resume his course, with his five associates and five sav- 
ages whom he added to his party. Of these two were 
Illinois, two Shawanoes, and the fifth a young captive 
from one of the Missouri River tribes who had been given 
to La Salle. "This one," says Joutel, "had learned to 
speak French and had been baptized, but he was no 
better Christian for all of that." Boisrondet, who had 
concluded to go to France, and Juchereau, who wished to 
return to his post at Mackinac, joined the departing com 
pany, who bade farewell to Fort St. Louis on March 21, 


1688. It was doubtless a grief to Tonty to part with 
Boisrondet, the tried comrade who had been faithful 
among the faithless in the Crevecceur mutiny, and brav- 
est of the brave at the time of the Iroquois invasion. 
This loyal and gallant soul deserves honorable remem- 
brance among the pioneers of Illinois. 

A hard journey of eight days, during which they were 
often compelled to wade in icy water over the rocky bot- 
tom of the stream, drawing the heavy canoes by main 
force against the current, brought the travelers to Chi- 
cago. Joutel pushed on in advance to the cache by the 
lake shore, and found some articles abstracted, as he 
believed, by a Frenchman who had been sent there dur- 
ing the winter by Tonty to see whether any canoes had 
arrived or savages gathered at this place. The garrison 
of Fort Checagou had apparently been withdrawn to take 
part in the Iroquois campaign of 1687, and the buildings 
of the post were occupied only by occasional parties of 
Indians. Severe weather delayed Cavelier and his com- 
panions here until April 8th, and their hunting yielded 
but little game. They eked out their scanty larder with 
a species of manna which they thought Providence had 
provided to make their Indian corn more palatable. This 
was the sap of the maple tree abounding in the vicinity, 
boiled into sugar, which seemed to be almost as good as 
that bought in France. Great quantities of garlic and of 
another herb like the chervil were also gathered and 
found very good. 112 The observant Joutel describes the 
situation of the place called Checagou, and its river, 
formed by the water flowing from a prairie, which, he 
says, discharges into the lake, as well as the stream flow- 
ing from the other side of that prairie which goes to join 
the Illinois River; so that, whether one is descending or 


ascending, it is necessary to make a portage, sometimes 
a quarter of a league, at others half or three-quarters of 
a league, according as the waters rise or fall. He formed 
the same opinion which Jolliet had come to at the same 
place, that it would be easy to make a junction between 
the two rivers which we know as the Chicago and the Des 
Plaines, since the intervening ground was flat and readily 
excavated. But Joutel says that it would require a con- 
siderable settlement there to justify such an expense. 113 

The travelers embarked upon Lake Michigan and after 
a ten days' halt at the Pottawattamie village, midway to 
Mackinac, landed on the 10th of May at the latter place, 
where Juchereau remained. Cavelier and the others were 
delayed here by fear of the Iroquois, who were taking 
every opportunity to revenge themselves for Denonville's 
attack of the previous year. 1M This very spring a gallant 
soul, whose name stands high among the early explorers 
of Illinois, had fallen a victim to their arms. The Sieur 
d'Autray, the same whom La Salle described as "always 
very faithful and very brave, " after his adventurous jour- 
neys had established himself upon the concession granted 
him at Fort St. Louis. When the summons came to 
march against the Senecas in 1687, he accompanied 
Tonty and did good service in that campaign. The fol- 
lowing winter he passed in Canada, and set out in the 
spring to return to his Illinois "house and seignory. " 
He escorted a convoy to Fort Frontenac and proceeding 
thence, probably almost alone, while en route for his 
western home was set upon and slain by the merciless 
Iroquois. 115 

The return to Quebec of the Sieur de Portneuf, who 
had just brought dispatches from Denonville to the West 
with a small force, gave Cavelier's people protection for 


their further journey. Four canoes conveying twenty- 
nine persons set out June 20th, and by the route of the 
French and Ottawa Rivers came to Montreal without mis- 
hap. Cavelier's party met here the Governor and the 
Intendant, Champigny, to whom they told their tale of 
hardship, but still concealed La Salle's death ; and passed 
on to Quebec, whence they sailed with their five Indians, 
and disembarked at Rochelle, October 9, 1688. Eight- 
een months had elapsed since these few men, illy 
equipped for such an undertaking, left the Texas coast to 
go by the way of the Mississippi, the Great Lakes and the 
St. Lawrence to the Atlantic, and to cross to the shores 
of France. Joutel well said that God had aided them to 
accomplish this journey. Boisrondet went to his native 
city of Orleans, taking with him the young Indian from 
the Missouri. Father Douay set out alone for Paris; 
Joutel and the two Illinois Indians stayed at Rouen, 
whence Cavelier proceeded to Paris to inform the Mar- 
quis de Seignelay of all that had happened to them, 
having pledged his comrades to secrecy as to the death 
of La Salle, until he had made this official report. 110 

Tonty meanwhile kept anxious watch at Fort St. Louis 
hoping each day to see La Salle's canoe ascending the 
stream. But on September 7th, while the men who had 
concealed their leader's fate were tossing on the Atlantic, 
Couture, with two natives, arrived at the fort, and 
revealed the sad truth as heard from the lips of Cavelier 
at the Arkansas post. Tonty' s generous heart burned 
with indignation at the injustice to himself, but more at 
the wrong to the luckless persons left on the gulf coast. 
He resolved to rescue them, and at the same time strike 
a blow at the Spaniards in Mexico with the aid of the 
southwestern tribes, who had urged Cavelier to lead 


them against that people. He only needed the authority 
of Denonville to undertake the expedition, and sent 
Couture to Mackinac to obtain the latest dispatches from 
the Governor. A hundred leagues from Fort St. Louis, 
the messenger was wrecked on the shore of Lake Mich- 
igan, and losing everything, with difficulty made his way 
back. In the meantime, however, Tonty received a 
letter from Denonville informing him that he was to 
do nothing against the Iroquois, and that war had 
been declared with Spain. This relieved the Illinois 
commandant from the duty of making forays upon 
the Five Nations and the danger of reprisals by them, 
and left the way open to carry out his plan. Once 
more he prepared to descend the Mississippi, and set out 
on December 3d in a pirogue, or canoe hollowed from a 
tree trunk, with five Frenchmen, one of the faithful 
Shawanoes, and two native slaves. His cousin had pre- 
ceded him hunting in advance of the expedition, which he 
was to accompany. La Forest was expected at Fort St. 
Louis about this time, and Tonty intended to leave him 
in command. But as he did not appear, Tonty was 
obliged, when he overtook his cousin, to send him back 
to take charge of the post. 117 This young commander of 
the Illinois country, the Sieur Greysolon de La Tourette, 
is described in the correspondence of the time as "an 
intelligent lad." That he was of the same stock as his 
famous elder brother is evidenced by the fact that in the 
preceding year he led a trading expedition far to the 
north of Lake Superior, and on hearing of the outbreak 
of the war with the Iroquois, came all the way from Lake 
Nipigon to the Niagara River with a single canoe to join 
the army, a feat considered most hazardous by those 
engaged in that campaign. 118 


Tonty encountered on the 17 th of the month a band of 
the Illinois at the mouth of their river, who during the 
cessation of Iroquois warfare had been carrying on hos- 
tilities with the Osages of the Missouri. They were 
returning from one of these conflicts in which they had lost 
thirteen men and taken one hundred and thirty prison- 
ers. Amid the noisy farewells of these redoubtable war- 
riors Tonty pushed out into the strong current of the 
Mississippi. Three months or more of arduous travel by 
river and through forest brought his little party to the 
villages of the Caddoes on the Red River, where four of 
his Frenchmen refused to go farther. They defied his 
authority, and he was compelled to leave them behind, 
while with one white man and the faithful redskin he 
made his way to a village eighty leagues away, where 
some of the conspirators against La Salle were reported 
to be. Arriving there Tonty soon satisfied himself that 
they had met the fate they deserved at the hands of the 
natives. These refused him guides, and his ammunition 
was nearly exhausted. For these reasons he found him- 
self obliged to abandon his project at a point eighty 
leagues distant from La Salle's post on the Gulf, and 
three days' journey from the place of his murder. Of 
this dastardly deed Tonty obtained further particulars 
which are preserved in his Memoir addressed to the Min- 
ister Pontchartrain, in 1693. From this and from Joutel's 
journal, it appears that after La Salle had by mistake 
gone beyond the mouth of the Mississippi in his attempt 
to reach it by sea, and had located his post on the Texas 
coast, loss of supplies through the shipwreck of a vessel, 
and other misfortunes, compelled him to set out for the 
Illinois country by land, with a small party to bring back 
aid to the others. Two of his men, disaffected because of 


the failure of the enterprise in which they had a pecun- 
iary interest, and falsely charging La Salle with having 
caused the death of a comrade, plotted their leader's life. 
"And as," to use Tonty's words,"in long journeys there 
are always discontented persons, they easily found par- 
tisans. " They determined to dispatch also La Salle's 
nephew, Moranget, who was likewise obnoxious to them, 
and an opportunity occurring when he, with La Salle's 
devoted Shawnee hunter Nika and his servant Saget, 
were encamped apart from the others, these three were 
murdered in their sleep. At daybreak the villains heard 
the reports of pistols which were fired as signals by La 
Salle, who was coming with Father Douay in search of 
the rest of the party. The wretches laid in wait for him, 
placing one of their number in sight. When La Salle 
came near he asked where his nephew was. The man, 
keeping on his hat and showing no sign of respect to 
his commander, answered that Moranget was behind. 
As La Salle advanced to remind the insolent fellow of his 
duty, those in the ambuscade discharged their pieces, and 
the great explorer fell dead with three bullets in his 
brain. With ferocious exultation the assassins rushed to 
the spot, their leader repeating again and again; "There 
thou liest, great bashaw, there thou liest. " They 
stripped the corpse, dragged it naked among the bushes, 
and left it exposed to the ravenous wild beasts, refusing 
the request of the Abbe" Cavelier that he might go and 
bury the body of his brother. Tonty closes his brief and 
feeling account with this noble tribute to the man whom 
he had served so well, which Margry has fitly made the 
motto of his great volumes relating to La Salle: "Behold 
the fate of one of the greatest men of the age ; of wonderful 
ability, and capable of accomplishing any enterprise. ' ' 119 


On May ioth Tonty with his two faithful followers 
reached the villages of the Caddoes, and thence shaped 
their course towards the Mississippi. After forty leagues 
march and crossing seven rivers, they came to one which 
had burst its banks and overflowed the whole country. 

They crossed fifty leagues of flooded land on a raft, 
finding only one little island of dry land on which they 
killed a bear and dried his flesh. It rained day and night ; 
they were obliged to sleep on tree trunks placed side by 
side, to make their fires on these platforms, to build new 
rafts again and again, to eat their dogs, and to carry their 
equipage on their backs through interminable cane 
brakes. "In short," says Tonty, "I never suffered so 
much in my life as in this journey to the Mississippi, 
where we arrived the nth of July." The last day of 
that month they came to the haven of rest near the mouth 
of the Arkansas so providentially established by Tonty 
on his preceding Mississippi voyage. He was detained 
here by a sudden fever, but rose from his sick bed on the 
eleventh day of August, and pushed onward until he 
landed once more at his own Illinois post in the month 
of September, i689. m 

It was while Tonty was absent on this expedition, if 
at all, that the readable but untrustworthy author, Baron 
La Hontan, visited the land of the Illinois. This young 
Gascon came to Canada in 1683, as an officer in one of 
the companies of troops sent to take part in La Barre's 
abortive campaign against the Iroquois in the following 
year. He served also in Denonville's more successful 
expedition, and afterwards, as we have seen, accompanied 
Tonty to Fort St. Joseph, at the foot of Lake Huron, and 
relieved Duluth in the command of that post. In April, 
1688, he went to Mackinac, and was there when Cavelier, 


with what La Hontan calls his "parti -colored retinue" of 
Frenchmen and savages, disembarked at that place. 
The Baron shrewdly surmised that La Salle was dead, 
because he did not return with the others, although they 
asserted that he was alive and well. From Mackinac 
La Hontan professed to have made a journey beyond the 
Mississippi, and to have discovered there the remarkable 
Long or Dead River, with singular tribes on its banks, 
by which canoes could go to the Rocky Mountains, and 
thence, by a stream flowing westward, to the Pacific. 
His account is entertaining, but has been long since 
wholly discredited. After making this mythical expedi- 
tion he alleges that he descended the Mississippi to the 
Missouri, and made a three days' journey up that stream 
and returned, continued his route to the mouth of the 
Ohio, and then ascended the Mississippi to the Illinois 
River, which he entered April 10, 1689. Six days later 
he says he arrived at Fort Crevecoeur, where he met with 
Monsieur de Tonty, who received him with all imaginable 
civility. 121 But Fort Crevecoeur had been abandoned and 
burned seven years before, and Tonty at this time was 
far away in the southwest journeying towards the gulf. 
La Hontan goes on to recount that he arrived April 20th 
at the village of the Illinois, engaged four hundred men 
to transport his baggage, and on the 24th reached "Chek- 
akou, ' ' which place he left the next day for the river St. 
Joseph. 123 The falsity of his preceding statements pre- 
vents our giving full credence to these. The fact, 
furthermore, that his map places Fort Crevecoeur upon 
the wrong side of the Illinois River, and entirely omits 
the Des Plaines and Chicago rivers, which he must have 
traversed to make such a journey, makes his story still 
more doubtful. The probability is that this part of his 


book was carelessly made up from the accounts or writ- 
ings of others, and that Baron La Hontan should not be 
included among the early visitors to the land of the 
Illinois. 123 

Fortunately we have more reliable accounts of matters 
concerning the land of the Illinois during this period. 
The relations of La Salle's colony at Fort St. Louis with 
the government of Canada were not altogether pleasant 
under the administration of Denonville. Soon after he 
took his seat in 1685 he complained to the Minister that 
Tonty would not permit the French to trade in the direc- 
tion of the Illinois, and asked if the King had granted the 
whole of that country to Sieur de La Salle. Seignelay 
replied with some asperity that this was a ridiculous pre- 
tence on Tonty's part, and he should write him sharply 
on the subject, as it was the King's intention to preserve 
to the French the liberty of going to the Illinois to trade." 4 
The preparations for the Iroquois war seem to have pre- 
vented any action in this regard, but after peace was 
declared, Denonville returned to the charge, and in his 
letter of August 25, 1687, complained that La Salle had 
made grants at Fort St. Louis to a number of Frenchmen 
who had resided there several years without desiring to 
return, that they were all young men, who had intermar- 
ried among the Indians, and pretended to be independent 
and masters of those lands, and had even planned to join 
the English. The Governor recommended that all those 
distant grants should be revoked by the King, the garri- 
sons to such posts changed every two years, and better 
discipline introduced under commandants having more 
authority. 125 The King replied from Versailles, March 8, 
1688, that the concessions made by La Salle in the 
neighborhood of Fort St. Louis, since they caused such 


disorders, might be revoked, and such power given to the 
commanders of fortified posts as might be needed. 126 A 
certain jealousy of La Salle, perhaps because of the royal 
favor he had won, seems to be evinced by the Canadian 
official in this correspondence, and Tonty falls under his 
censure, chiefly by reason of his loyal devotion to his 
absent leader's interests. Denonville apparently took no 
further action in this matter, possibly in consequence of 
the border troubles with the colonists of New England, 
which soon engrossed his attention. His term of office, 
moreover, was drawing to a close, as a firmer hand was 
needed at the helm. The King could find none so fit as 
that of the bold soldier who had once ruled the destinies 
of New France. Although now in his seventieth year, 
he accepted his old position at his sovereign's request, 
and on October 15, 1689, Denonville was relieved by 
Count Frontenac, who proudly resumed his former duties, 
amid the acclamations of the people of Quebec. m 



'Carte de la Nouvelle France. " Champlain's Voyages" (Prince 
Society Publications), cited as "Champlain's Voyages, " vol. i, p. 305. 

J "La Salle, and the Discovery of the Great West," by Francis 
Parkman, eleventh edition, p. 450, cited as "Parkman's La Salle." 

3 "Discovery of the North West, by John Nicolet" (C. W. Butter- 
field), cited as "Discovery of the North West," p. 70, n. 2. "Relation 
de Henri de Tonty" (1684), Margry, i, p. 582, "(Le Pays des Illinois) 
est ou l'on trouve les premiers boeufs sanvages." This Relation, 
cited as "Tonty," 1684, is printed in "Decouvertes et Etablissements 
des Francais dans l'ouest et dans le sud de l'Amerique Septentrio- 
nale," 1614-1698, par Pierre Margry, Paris, Maissonneuve, " cited as 
' ' Margry. ' ' 

4 Champlain to the Queen Regent. "Champlain's Voyages," ii, 
p. xiii. 

5 Ibid., iii, p. 158. 

6 Ibid., iii, p. 159. 

I Ibid., iii, p. 215, note. "Discovery and Exploration of the Mis- 
sissippi Valley," cited as Shea's "Mississippi," p. xx. "Discovery 
of the North West," pp. 4oseq. "Relations des Jesuites," ii. l'Annee 
1643, p. 3, Quebec Edition, 1858, cited as "Relations des Jesuites." 

8 For argument to show that Nicolet's visit to the Wisconsin country 
was in 1638, see "Wisconsin under French Dominion" (S. S. Heb- 
berd), p. 14, note a. 

9 "Relations des Jesuites, i, l'Annee 1640, p. 35. 

10 "Discovery of the North West," p. 70. 

II "Relations des Jesuites, iii, l'Annee 1656, pp. 38, 39. 
14 Ibid., p. 39. 

13 Ibid., iii, Table Alphabetique, p. 17. 

14 Ibid., iii, l'Annee 1658, p. 21. 

15 "Relations des Jesuites," iii, l'Annee 1660, p. 12. 

16 "Wisconsin under French Dominion," p. 22. 

17 Radisson's "Voyages" (Prince Soc. Pub.), Preface. 

18 Ibid., p. 167. "Wisconsin under French Dominion," p. 20. 


NOTES 193 

""Relations des Jesuites," iii, l'Annee 1667, p. 12; p. 21 
20 Ibid., pp. 21, 22. 

21 Cf. Projets d'extension sous Jean Talon, Margry, i, pp. 75 seq. 

22 Margry, i, 96. Parkman's "La Salle," ch. iv. 

23 "Proces Verbal," Margry, i, p. 97. 

24 Ibid., i, p. 99. 

. 23 "Relation of Father Dablon," August 1, 1674. "Historical Mag- 
azine, " v, p. 237. 

26 "Dictionaire Genealogique" (Tanguay), v, p. 14. 

"Parkman's "La Salle," p. 48. 

28 Letter of Archbishop Tache, Chicago Historical Society MSS. 
"Discovery of the North West," p. 96. Parkman's "La Salle," 
pp. 4S, 49. "Journal des Jesuites." "Shea's Mississippi," lxxix. 
Kingsford's "Canada," i, p. 400. 

29 Association de Jolliet et al pour les Otahak. Chicago Hist. Soc. 

30 The Recollet friars, Ribourde, Hennepin and Membre, who accom- 
panied La Salle in Le Griffon in 1679, named the body of water 
between lakes Erie and Huron Lake Sainte Claire, of which the 
present name, Saint Clair, is a corruption. Margry, i, p. 445. 
Parkman's "La Salle," p. 139, note 1. 

31 Lettre du Sieur Patoulet a Colbert, Margry, i, p. 81. Relation 
de l'Abbe Galinee, Margry, i, pp. 143, 144. Parkman's "La Salle," 
p. 16. Kingsford's "Canada," i, p. 400. 

32 "Relation de l'Abbe Galinee," pp. 144-146. 

33 Ibid., p. 166. 

34 Dablon, 1674. Margry, i, p. 99. 
35 Shea's "Mississippi," p. 5. 

36 Dablon, 1674. 

37 Lettre de Frontenac a Colbert, 2 Nov., 1672, Margry, i, p. 255. 

38 Dablon, 1678 in Shea's "Mississippi," p. 5. 

39 Lettre de Frontenac, supra, et lettre de Frontenac a Colbert, 
Margry, i, p. 257- 

40 Kingsford's "Canada," i, p. 393. 

41 Shea's "Mississippi," pp. 5, 6. 

42 Ibid., p. 5, note. 

43 Dablon, 1674, supra. 

44 It is related that to distinguish these armorial bearings from those 
of the city and from each other, the Provost was given three martlets 
without claws and with a beak, and the Alderman three with claws, 
but without a beak ; and the latter insignia were formally confirmed 
to the family of Marquette, as its coat of arms, by the French official 
genealogists three hundred years after the original grant ("Devisme, 


Histoire de la Ville de Laon," i, p. 391). The martlets (merlettes, 
in French) were always considered the apanage of such genteel fam- 
ilies as had taken part in the Crusades, like crosses or escallops (pil- 
grims' shells). It is traditional that these little birds, which are a 
sort of small swallow, were found in large quantities by some almost 
famished Crusaders, who were thus saved from actual starvation. 
In a spirit of gratitude many of these warriors placed the representa- 
tion of these birds in their coats of arms (Letter of Cte. E. de Val- 
court-Vermont, author of "America Heraldica"). 

45 "Devisme Histoire," supra, i, p. 391; ii, pp. 23, 83, 356-358. 

46 Shea's "Mississippi," Life of Father Marquette, p. xlii. 

47 "Devisme Histoire," ii, p. 356. 

48 Ibid., ii, pp. 130, 177, 356, 358. 

49 Shea's "Mississippi," Life of Father Marquette, xliii. 

50 Letter of Archbishop Tache, Feb. 20, 1883, Chicago Historical 
Society MSS. Shea's "Marquette," supra, xlvi, seq. Kingsford's 
"Canada," i, p. 400. "Relations des Jesuites, " 1670, p. 87. 

51 Ibid. , p. 90. 

52 Ibid. , p. 91. 

53 Ibid., p. 91. 

54 Ibid., p. 93. 

55 Shea's "Mississippi, Life of Father Marquette," pp. lviii, lxi. 
58 Ibid., Narrative of Father Marquette, Section i, p. 6. 

57 Ibid, pp. 7, 8. 

58 Ibid. 

59 This positive statement of Marquette, whose attention had for 
years been directed to the subject, as to the extent of French explora- 
tions in this direction, seems to show conclusively that Nicolet did 
not reach the Illinois country proper, and also that the assertion that 
two priests had reached that region before the journey of Jolliet and 
Marquette, is entirely without foundation. (See Parkman"s "La 
Salle," p. 72, n.) 

60 Shea's "Mississippi," Narrative of F'ather Marquette, p. 20. 

61 Ibid., pp. 21 seq. See Appendix A. 

62 Parkman's "La Salle," pp. 59, 431. 

63 Narrative of Father Marquette, Shea's "Mississippi," p. 41. 

64 Beck's "Gazeteer of Illinois and Missouri," p. 72. Reynolds' 
"Pioneer History of Illinois," p. 138. 

65 Narrative of Father Marquette, Shea's "Mississippi," p. 51. 

66 Unfinished letter [of Father Marquette, Shea's "Mississippi," 
p. 258. 

67 Shea's "Discovery," etc., p. xxxii. 

68 N. & C. History America, iv, p. 179, n. 

NOTES 195 

m Extracts from Memoir of Frontenac to Colbert, Quebec, Nov. 11, 
1674, translated in N. Y. Colonial Documents, ix, p. 121 ; part of 
original text in Shea's "Mississippi," xxxiii, and Margry, i, p. 257. 
The original is in the Archives du Ministere de la Marine, at 

70 Relation of Dablon, Aug. 1, 1674 (Hist. Mag., v, p. 238). Details 
sur le Voyage de Louis Jolliet (Margry, i, pp. 259 seq.), in Biblio- 
theque Nationale, at Paris ; Relation de la Descouverte de plusieurs 
Pays situes au Midi de la Nouvelle France, faite en 1673 (Margry, i, 
pp. 262, 263, 268-270), in Depot des Cartes, Plans et Journaux de la 
Marine, at Paris. These are based upon oral accounts given by Jol- 
liet. See also Jolliet's Letter from Quebec, Oct. 10, 1674 (Harrisse 
Notes, p. 322), in the Archives of the Seminary of St. Sulpice at Paris, 
and his letter to Frontenac, appended to Jolliet's smaller map (Mag- 
azine American History, 1883; same published separately in Griffin's 
"Discovery of the Mississippi," and N. & C. History of America, iv, 
pp. 208, 210). 

71 Memoir of Frontenac, supra. 

72 Jolliet's letter to Frontenac, supra. 

73 Jolliet's letter of Oct. 10, 1674, and letter to Frontenac, supra. 

74 Unfinished letter of Father Marquette, Shea's "Mississippi," 
p. 258. 

75 N. & C. History of America, iv, p. 217. Historical Magazine, v, 

P- 237- 

76 Thevenot also published it as an independent work, entitled "Voy- 
age et Decouverte de quelques Pays et Nations de l'Amerique Sep- 
tentrionale." In the latter form it was reproduced by Rich at Paris 
in 1845 (Griffin's "Discovery of the Mississippi," p. 5). 

77 N. & C. History of America, iv, pp. 219-220. The return route of 
the explorers is incorrectly laid down on this map, probably from the 
endeavor of the editor to make them again meet the Peorias on the 
west bank of the Mississippi, where they saw them on their south- 
ward journey. He was not aware of the custom of these Indians to 
go in a body to hunt, and that thus they might easily have been found 
on the Illinois River (Shea's "Mississippi," Ixxv). 

78 Shea's "Mississippi," pp. lxxvii, lxviii. Griffin's "Mississippi," 
p. 5. N. & C. Hist. America, iv, pp. 217, 219, 220, 315. The Ste. 
Marie text was reprinted for Mr. Lenox in 1855, with important 
annotations by Shea, under the title "Recit des Voyages et des 
Decouvertes de R. P. J. Marquette," etc. Shea says: "The narrative 
is a very small quarto, written in a very clear hand, with occasional 
corrections, comprising in all sixty pages. Of these thirty-seven con- 
tain his vo3^age down the Mississippi, which is complete, except a 


hiatus of one leaf in the chapter on the calumet; the rest are taken up 
with the account of his second voyage, death and burial, and the 
voyage of Father Allouez. The last nine lines on page 60 are in the 
handwriting of Father Dablon, and were written as late as 1678." 
(Shea, supra.) The missing leaf was supplied from the print of 
Thevenot. (N. & C. Hist., supra.) 

73 Extracts from Memoir of Frontenac, supra. 

™ Jolliet's letter of Oct. 10 1674, supra. 

81 Margry, supra. 

82 Ibid, i, p. 270. 
8:i Griffin, supra. 

->N. &. C. Hist, iv, p. 210. 

85 Ibid., pp. 211-216. Parkman's "La Salle," pp. 452, 453. 

86 It is stated that Marquette also kept a copy of the lost report or 
journal of Jolliet (Dablon Relation, Aug. 1, 1674; Hist. Soc, v, p. 
238; Margry, i, p. 262), but these reports probably refer to Mar- 
quette's own narrative. 

87 Unfinished letter of Father Marquette, Shea's "Mississippi," 

p. 258. 

88 Dablon's Narrative of Marquette's Second Voyage, Ibid., p. 53. 

89 Proces Verbal, Margry, i, p. 99. 

»N. Y. Colonial Documents, pp. 132, 804. Parkman's "La Salle," 
p. 68, n. Dictionnaire Genealogique, i, p. 442. 

« Unfinished letter of Father Marquette, Shea's "Mississippi," pp. 

92 It has been claimed that Marquette made this journey by the Des 
Plaines and Chicago Rivers, and around the southern end of Lake 
Michigan, but this is not supported by the only contemporary author- 
ity, the Narrative of Marquette's Second Voyage, by Father Claude 
Dablon. He says: "The Illinois Indians escorted Marquette more 
than thirty leagues on the way, and after they had taken leave of him 
he continued his voyage and soon after reached the Illinois Lake. " 
A little more than thirty French leagues by the Des Plaines and Chi- 
cago would have brought the party to the lake, and Dablon would 
then have stated that they parted there. But his language plainly 
implies a longer river journey than by the Des Plaines. Again, he 
says that after Marquette reached the lake he had nearly a hundred 
leagues to make by an unknown route, because he was obliged to take 
the southern (meaning the eastern) side of the lake, having gone 
thither by the northern (meaning the western). We know that Mar- 
quette went to the Illinois country by the Chicago and Des Plaines 
Rivers. Had he returned by the same route to the lake and then fol- 
lowed its southern curve, Dablon would hardly have spoken of it as 

NOTES 197 

utterly unknown, but rather as a divergence from the route which 
Marquette had followed to the Indian village. And although he had 
not traveled on the lake south of the mouth of the Chicago River, yet 
he had visited that point twice, and from it a part of this route was in 
sight at least. Moreover Dablon says the return route was on another 
side of the lake from that used in going. But if Marquette went south 
from the Chicago River, a large part of the journey on the lake would 
have been on the same side as his journey to the Illinois, and would 
have been so described. A still more conclusive argument is derived 
from Dablon's statement that Marquette had nearly a hundred 
leagues to make on Lake Michigan. This fairly represents the 
distance from the mouth of the St. Joseph to St. Ignace, but from 
the mouth of the Chicago to St. Ignace would have been forty 
leagues more, and Dablon could not have described the whole lake 
trip as nearly one hundred leagues when it would have been much 
more than this. 

93 Dablon's Narrative of Marquette's Second Voyage, supra, pp. 
55 seq. 

9 * Shea's Mississippi," lxxi, p. 63. 

95 The river where Marquette died is a small stream in the west of 
Michigan, some distance south of the promontory called the "Sleeping 
Bear." It was long called by his name, which is now borne by a 
neighboring stream (Parkman's "La Salle,", p. 71, n. ; Shea's "Mis- 
sissippi," p. 58, n.). An interesting account of the probable discov- 
ery of Father Marquette's remains in 1877 will be found in 
"Missionary Labors of Father Marquette, Menard and Allouez," 
etc., p. 136. 

96 Dictionnaire Genealogique, i, p. 324. Archbishop Tache's letter, 
Chi. Hist. Soc. MSS. 

" Ibid. 

98 Lettre du Comte de Frontenac a Colbert, 1677. Margry 1, p. 324. 
Lettre de Colbert a M. Du Chesneau, 28 Avril, 1677. Margry, i, 
p. 329. 

"Margry, i, pp. 405-406-418. 

100 Parkman's ' 'La Salle," p. 66, note. Contract du vendu par susses- 
sion de defunt M. Bissot, 19 Avril, 1680. C. H. S. MSS. Dictionnaire 
Genealogique, i, pp. 56, 324, v. p. 14. 

101 Parkman's "La Salle," p. 49, note; p. 66, note. Dictionnaire Gen- 
ealogique, i, p. 324, v. 14. Shea's "Mississippi," lxxx. 

102 Dictionnaire Genealogique, i, p. 324. 

103 Narrative of Father Marquette, Shea's "Mississippi," p. 14. Fron- 
tenac's letters, Margry, i, pp. 255, 257. Dablon in Shea's Missis- 
sippi, pp. 4, 5. Dictionnaire Genealogique. 


104 For the views of modern writers as to Jolliet's leadership of the 
Mississippi expedition, see "Narrative and Critical History of 
America," iv, pp. 178, 179, 180, 209. Cartier to Frontenac, p. 236. 
Parkman's "La Salle" (eleventh edition), pp. 47, 48, 49, 53, 66. 
Shea's "Mississippi," xxvii, xxviii, lxxx, p. 5 ; p. 5, note. 


1 Dablon's Narrative, Shea's "Mississippi," pp. 53, 56. 

2 Jesuit Relations, 1670, p. 87, Shea's "Mississippi," p. 69, n. 

3 Margry, i, p. 59. 

4 Ibid., i, pp. 59, 60. Kingsford's "Canada," i, pp. 240, 245. 

5 Shea's "Mississippi," Allouez, p. 68, n. ; Jesuit Relations. 1664, 
pp. 28, 29. 

6 Jesuit Relations, 1665, pp. 8-9. 1667, p. 4. 

7 Ibid., 1666, p. 3. 

8 Ibid., 1667, pp. 4, 5. 7, 8, 9, 13, 25. 

9 Ibid., p. 26. 

10 Shea's "Mississippi," Allouez, p. 69, n. 

11 Jesuit Relations, 1669, p. 17. 

12 Ibid., 1670, pp. 87, 92, 94, 96, 97, 100. "Missionary Labors of Mar- 
quette," etc., p. 178. " Historic Green Bay," p. 162. 

13 Jesuit Relations, 1671, pp. 42-44. 

14 R. G. Thwaites' "Historic Waterways," p. 175. "Missionary 
Labors of Marquette," etc., p. 179. 

15 Margry, i, p. 98. 

16 Jesuit Relations, 1671, pp. 27-28. 

17 Ibid., 1672, p. 42. 

18 Shea's "Mississippi," Allouez, p. 69, n. 

19 Ibid., pp. 70-73. 

20 Margry, ii, p. 175. 

21 Shea's "Mississippi," Allouez, pp. 74-77. 

22 Ibid., p. 69, n. ; p. 77. Margry, ii, pp. 34, 41. Parkman's "La 
Salle," p. 222, n. 

23 "Cavelier de La Salle de Rouen," Gravier, p. 11. Parkman's 
"La Salle," p. 1. Margry, i, Introduction, xxix, p. 346. Kingsford's 
"Canada," i, p. 376. 

24 Parkman's "La Salle," p. 1, n. Kingsford's "Canada," supra. 
"Cavelier de La Salle de Rouen," pp. n- 12. 

^"Les Anciens Forts de Lachine," D. Girouard, pp. 11 and 12. 
Margry, i, p. 280. "Lac St. Louis," D. Girouard, pp. 10, 11, 12. 
Parkman's "La Salle," p. 1, n. 

26 Parkman's "La Salle," p. 4. Gravier's "La Salle," p. 14. Mar- 

NOTES 199 

gry. i. P- 33°- "Le Vieux Lachine," Girouard, pp. 13-17, 116. 
Abbe De Galinee, Margry, i, p. 114-116. 

27 Parkman's "La Salle," pp. 21-27. "Memoire par Nicholas Per- 
rot," pp. 119-122. Shea's "Bursting joi Pierre Margry's La Salle 
Bubble," pp. 1, q. 

28 Margry, i, pp. 330-331. 

29 Ibid., i, pp. 227-288, 

30 Ibid. , i, pp. 292, 437. 

31 Ibid. , ii, pp. 75, 259. 

32 Ibid., i, pp. 439, 337. 

^"Les Tonty," B. Suite, pp. 3-5. Parkman's "La Salle," p. 115. 
"Memoire de Henri de Tonty envoye en 1693, Relations et 
Memoires Inedits par Pierre Margry" (cited as "Tonty," 1693), p. 
5. This Memoir is translated in "Historical Collections of 
Louisiana," by B. F. French (cited as French's "La."), vol. i, pp. 

34 Margry, ii, pp. 75-76. 

35 Relation Officielle, Margry, i, pp. 440-445 ; Tonty's Relation, 
Ibid., pp. 571 seq. ; Parkman's "La Salle," ch. viii. 

36 Ibid., pp. 448-451. "Tonty," 1684; Ibid., p. 579. 

37 Relation Officielle, Margry, i, pp. 451-455. 

38 Ibid., pp. 456-459. 

39 Ibid., pp. 459-461; cf. Tonty's Relation, Ibid., pp. 580 seq. and 
Shea's Hennepin's Louisiana, pp. 129 seq. 

40 Le Clercq says La Salle left four men at Fort Miami (Shea's 
"Establishment of the Faith," ii, p. 117), and this statement has 
been followed by a recent writer ("Cartier to Frontenac," p. 264). 
But it seems hardly credible — Le Clercq was not a member of the 
party, and is inaccurate especially as to numbers (see his statements 
as to La Salle's party leaving Green Bay, "Establishment of the 
Faith," ii, pp. 116-117). Hennepin, who was of the party, does not 
mention any men remaining at the fort, but says they left letters 
there hanging from the trees, which certainly they would not have 
done had any one stayed at that place. The Relation Officielle 
makes the same statement (see Shea's "Hennepin's Louisiana," pp. 
135 et seq., and Hennepin's "New Discovery," London, 1698, pp. 108 
and in ; also Margry, i, p. 463). 

41 Relation Officielle, Margry, pp. 461-463. Tonty, 1684, Ibid., p. 581, 

42 Relation Officielle, Margry, i, pp. 463-464. "Hennepin's Louisi- 
ana." Shea (cited as "Hennepin La."), pp. 142, 152. Tonty, 1684. 
Margry, i, p. 582. 

43 Margry, ii, pp. 174, 175. 41.99-101. 

44 La Salle says they arrived January 1st (Margry, ii, p. 36), so also 


the Relation Officielle (Margry, i, p. 466), but Tonty (Margry, i, p. 
582), Hennepin ("New Discovery," 1698 ed., p. 113; "La." p. 152), 
and Le Clercq (Shea, ii, pp. 117-118), all make the arrival the latter 
part of December or the last day, which seems more probable. 

45 "Hennepin La.," Shea, p. 153. 

46 Relation Officielle, Margry, i, pp. 467-468. La Salle a Thouret, 
Margry, ii, p. 36. A minot contains 39 litres; a bushel, 36 and a 
fraction litres. 

47 Ibid., pp. 467-468. "Le Clercq," Shea, ii, p. 118. "Hennepin 
La." 154-156. Hennepin "N. D.", pp. 121, 122. La Salle a Thouret, 
Margry, ii, p. 38. 

48 Hennepin "N. D.,"pp. 122, 123,124. "Hennepin La. " pp. 157- 
160. Margry, i, p. 468; ii, pp. 38-39- 

49 Margry, i, pp. 468-470; ii, pp. 39-40. "Hennepin La.," pp. 159, 

50 Margry, i, pp. 470-471; ii, p. 100. "Hennepin La.," p. 165. 
"Cartier to Frontenac," pp. 265, 266. 

51 This head chief, who was then absent, is called in different 
accounts Chassagoac and Chassagouasse. 

52 Margry, i, pp. 471-473; ii, p. 43. "Hennepin La.," pp. 166-169; 
"N. D.," p. 126. 

53 Margry, i, p. 473. 

54 Ibid., i, p. 474; ii, p. 100. 

55 Relation Officielle, Margry, i, p. 471. "Hennepin La.," p. 155. 
56 Margry, ii, p. 46. 
7 Tonty, 1684, Margry, i, p. 583. Tonty, 1693, French's "La.," i, 

P- 54- 

58 Moyse Hillaret, Margry, ii, p. 108. 

59 Tonty, 1684, Margry, i, p. 581. 

60 Margry, i, p. 449. 

61 Ibid., ii, pp. 46-47. 

62 Ibid., i, pp. 475, 476. 

63 The exact location of Fort Crevecoeur has been a matter of con- 
troversy. The early authorities are Relation Officielle, Margry, i, 
pp. 467, 476, 488; Lettre de La Salle, Margry, ii, p. 247; "Hennepin, 
La.," pp. 175 n, 187; Hennepin "N. D. ," p. 142; and Franquelin's Map, 
1684. (Parkman's" La Salle, p. 294; "Cartier to Frontenac," pp. 308, 
344.) A local antiquarian has held the place to be a projection of the 
bluff directly back of the village of Wesley City, three miles below 
Peoria ("Fort Crevecoeur," by J. Gale, Peoria Journal, Jan. n, 1890). 
Parkman at first adopted a similar view, saying in his "Discovery of 
the Great West," p. 168, ninth edition, "The spot may still be seen a 
little below Peoria" ; but he omits this sentence in his last edition of 

NOTES 201 

the same work. Others think it stood in Fond du Lac township in 
Tazewell County above Peoria and a mile and a half below the 
narrows of Peoria Lake (Chicago Tribune, Nov. i6, 1889); but a 
very competent authority fixes the site farther to the north, and 
identifies it with a mound a little below Spring Bay in Woodford 
County (Hiram W. Beckwith in the "Land of the Illini," Chicago 
Tribune, Feb. 24, 1895). This is probably the correct location. 

64 Margry i, pp. 476-477 i ", PP- 48-49- "Hennepin La.," pp. 176-177. 
187. "Le Clercq," Shea, ii, p. 130. Hennepin "N. D.," p. 142. 

65 "Le Clercq," Shea, ii, p. 123. Hennepin "N. D.," p. 136. 

66 "Hennepin La.," pp. 179, 180, 186. Margry, i, p. 583- French's 
"La.," i, p. 54- Margry, ii, pp. 31, 32, 49. 95- 

"Shea's notes to "Le Clercq, ii, p. 123, and "Hennepin La.," p. 
175. See "Cartier to Frontenac," p. 266. 

68 Parkman's "La Salle," p. 168. 

69 "Le Clercq," ii, p. 123. "Hennepin La.," p. 188, Margry. ii, 
pp. 49-50, 103. 

70 Margry, ii, pp. 49-53. 

71 Ibid., p. 54. 

n Ibid., p. 54. The Matoutentas were a Mandan tribe. "Lewis 
and Clark's Expedition," Coues, i, p. 182. The Chaa, an Algonquin 
name for the Sioux ("Hennepin La.," p. 189, n.). 

73 Membre in "Le Clercq," ii, pp. 17,3-140. "Le Clercq," ii, p. 123. 
"Hennepin La.," p. 140-143. 186, 258; "N. D.," p. 141. "Relations 
des Jesuites," 1671, pp. 25, 45- "Relations Inedites," i, pp. 133, 138. 
Parkman's "La Salle," p. 207, n. 

74 "Hennepin La.," p. 186-187; "N. D.," pp. 136, 142. "Le Clercq," 
Shea, ii, p. 130. 

75 Hennepin "N. D.." p. 141. 

76 Ibid. , p. 144. Margry, ii, p. 54. 

77 Margry, i, p. 478; ", P- 246. "Hennepin La.," pp. 361-362, 371 
Margry, ii, p. 55. 

78 Margry, i, pp. 477-478; ii, pp. 54"55. 

79 "Hennepin La.," pp. 187-188, 189; "N. D.," pp. 142-143 
80 "Hennepin La.," pp. 189-192; "N. D.," pp. 143-144- 

81 "Hennepin La.," pp. 192-193; "N. D.," 1698, pp. 145-146-147. 
.Margry, i, pp. 478-479- 

82 Margry, i, pp. 478-479- 

83 Ibid., ii, p. 248. "Hennepin La.," p. 363. 

84 "Hennepin La.," pp. 195-199; "N. D.," 1698, p. 148. 

85 Margry, i, p. 488; ii, p. 109. 

86 Lettre de La Salle a Thouret, Margry, ii, pp. 51, 55. 56. Relation 
Officielle, Margry, i, pp. 488-490. 


* 7 "Hennepin La.," p. 166. Shea's "Mississippi," p. 259. 
^Margry, i, pp. 488-490. Marquette's Last Journal, Shea's "Mis- 
sissippi," p. 259. 

s "x\largry, i, p. 491; ii, pp. 57-58. 

90 Margry, i, pp. 491-492; », PP- 58-59- 

91 Margry, i, p. 492; ii, p. 59. 

92 Margry, ii, p. 59. Tonty, 1693, French's "La.," p. 55. Margry, 
ii, p. 88. 
93 Margry, i, pp. 492-496; ii, pp. 59-&4- 
4 Margry, i, pp. 496-503 ; ii, pp. 64-65, 69-73, 103-108. 
95 Margry, ii, pp. 73-74. 76- 

96 Chicago Tribune, January 24, 1883. 

97 Margry, i, pp. 501-502, 513-514; ». P- 125. 

98 Margry, i, pp. 514-515; ii. P- 127. 
"Margry, i, pp. 515-516; ii, pp. 127-128. 

100 Margry, i, pp. 516-518; ii, pp. 128-130. 

101 Margry, i, p. 520; ii, pp. 131-133- 

102 Margry, ii, p. 134. Le Clercq, ii, pp. 154, 155. 

103 Margry, i, pp. 521-523; ii, pp. 135-136. 
m Margry, i, pp. 523-524; ", P- *37- 

105 Margry, i, pp. 524-525 ; ii, PP- 138-139- 

106 Margry, i, p. 525; ii, p- 139- 


1 La Salle left Fort Crevecoeur March 1, 1680 (Margry, ii, pp. 51. 
55, 117), arrived at Fort Miami March 24th, and met there the two 
men sent to Mackinac the preceding autumn (Margry, ii, pp. 59, 60). 
These two men were La Chapelle and Le Blanc (Moyse Hillaret, 
Margry, ii, p. 109). Tonty says the two men sent to Mackinac in the 
autumn were sent to him with the order to build a fort (French's 
"La." i, p. 55). As they left Fort Miami March 24th at earliest, even 
it they made as good speed as La Salle did the following March from 
Fort Miami to the great Illinois village (Margry, i, pp. 529-530), they 
would hardly have reached Fort Crevecoeur before April nth. 

2 Membre as quoted by Le Clercq states that the flight and deser- 
tion led by Le Blanc and La Chapelle took place "about the middle 
of March" ("Le Clercq", Shea, ii, p. 136), but this does not agree 
with his previous statement that these men were at the St. Joseph 
March 13th {Ibid., p. 131), whence they could not have reached 
Crevecoeur by the middle of the month, nor with the Relation Offi- 
oielle (Margry, i, p. 520). He doubtless meant to write "about the 
middle of April. ' ' 

NOTES 203 

3 "Le Clercq," Shea, ii, pp. 130-131- Tonty, 1693, French's "La.," 
i, p. 55. Margry i, pp. 49b, 503-504. 520, 584; Ibid., ii, pp. 70, 103, 
109, 118, 119, 133. 

4 Margry, i, p. 496 ; ii, p. 69. "Le Clercq," Shea, ii, p. 132. Mar- 
gry, i, p. 503; ii, pp. 70, 118, 119, 104-105. 

5 Margry, i, p. 503; ii, pp. 119, 120. 

6 Membre, "Le Clercq," Shea," ii, pp. 132, 133. 136-137, 138- 

7 Membre, "Le Clercq," Shea, ii, pp. 133, 134, 137-138- "Hennepin 
La.," p. 166, n. 

s Margry, i, p. 584; ii, p. 297. Membre, "Le Clercq," Shea, ii, pp. 

136. 137, 138. 
9 Membre, "Le Clercq," Shea, ii, p. 137. Margry, i, pp. 507, 584; 

ii, p. 121. 

10 Margry, i, pp. 508, 584-585 ; ii, PP- 120, 121, 140. 

11 Margry, i, pp. 508, 509, 585, 586; ii, pp. 121, 122. Membre, "Le 
Clercq," Shea, ii, p. 141. 

12 Margry, i, pp. 509-510, 585-586; ii, pp. 122-123. Membre, 
in "Le Clercq," Shea, ii, pp. 142-143- French's "La.," i, pp. 

13 Ibid. 

" Ibid. 

15 Margry, ii, p. 343. Parkman's "La Salle," p. 116, n. Suite's 
"Les Tonty," p. 4. 

16 French's "La.," p. 57. "La Hontan," edit. 1735. i. P- 82. 

17 French's "La.," i, p. 57- 

18 Margry, i and ii, supra. Hennepin "N. D.," pp. 284-289. 
19 Margry, i, p. 511; ii, p. 124. "Le Clercq," Shea, ii, p. 145. 
20 "Hennepin La.," p. 268. 

21 "Le Clercq," Shea. Ibid. French's "La.," p. 57- Margry, i, 
p. 5S8. Hennepin "N. D.," p. 291. 

22 Membre, "Le Clercq," Shea, ii, pp. 145-146-147. Margry, i, pp. 
511, 589; ii, p. 124. Shea "Hennepin La.," pp. 190, 270. Hennepin 
"N. D. ," p. 143. Hennepin "N. D.," p. 294, says Ribourde was 
about sixty-five years old, but La Salle says he was aged sixty -three 
years in 1680. Margry, ii, p. 119. For Ribourde's character see 
"Le Clercq," Shea, ii, p. 148. 

23 Membre, "Le Clercq," Shea, ii, p. 149. Margry, i, pp. 501, 511, 
514, 589; ii, pp. 116, 125, 128. French's "La.," i, p. 58. "Le 
Clercq," Shea, ii, pp. 145-150. 

24 Tonty, 1693, French's "La.," i, pp. 58-59- Tonty, 1684, Margry, i, 
pp. 589, 590, 592. Membre in "Le Clercq," Shea, ii, pp. 147, 149-150. 
Relation Officielle, Margry, i, p. 512. 

26 Ibid. Tonty and the Relation Officielle say that he wintered 


among the Pottawattamies (Margry, i, pp. 512, 592, Relations 
Inedites, p. 13), as does La Salle (Margry, i, p. 532; ii, p. 144). Mem 
bre says he himself went to the bay of the Puants, where the Jesuit 
Fathers have a house, and that Tonty followed some time after with 
the Frenchmen ("Le Clercq," Shea, ii, p. 150). 

26 Margry, i, pp. 512, 517; ii, p. 124. Hennepin "N. D.," p. 28S. 
"Le Clercq" Shea, ii, p. 144. "Heanepin La.," p. 259. 

-" Parkman's "Jesuits in North America," Introduction, note, xlvii- 
xlviii. Margry, i, pp. 504-505 ; ii, p. 33. Du Chesneau on Western 
Indians, 1681, Paris Documents, ix (N. Y. Col. History), p. 162. 

28 Margry, ii, p. 33. 

29 Membre, in "Le Clercq," Shea, ii, p. 134. 

30 Ibid. , pp. 139-140. 

31 Margry, ii, pp. 34, 99, 102; 115, 116, 118, 119, 121, 145, 146; 216-, 
220, 297-298. 

32 Ibid., p. 226. 

33 Ibid., pp. 144-145. 
84 Ibid., pp. 297-298. 

35 Relation Officielle, Margry, i, pp. 525-527; ii, pp. 139-141. 

36 Margry, i, pp. 527-529; ii. PP- i4i-*43- 
Margry, i, pp. 529-531 ; ii. PP- M3-I44. I4&-I47- 

38 Ibid., i, pp. 531-543; ", PP- 147-158. 

39 Tonty, 1684, Margry, i, pp. 592-593. Tonty, 1693, French's 
"La.," i, p. 59. Membre in "Le Clercq," Shea, ii, pp. 151, 151 n, 
157, 159, 160. Relation Officielle, Margry, i, pp. 531-543. La Salle, 
Margry, ii, pp. 147, 158, 163-164, 203. 

40 La Salle, Margry, ii, pp. 164-165, 166, 169, 187; Recit de Nicolas 
de La Salle, Margry, 1, p. 549. Tonty, 1684, Margry, i, p. 593. 
Membre in "Le Clercq," Shea, ii, pp. 161-162. Relation de la 
Decouverte de l'embouchure de la Riviere Mississippi, in "Geologie 
Pratique de la Louisiane," par R. Thomassy, p. 9 (cited as Thomassy). 

41 Recit de L' Enterprise, Jacques de La Meterie, Margry ii, p. 187. 
Tonty, 1684, Margry, i, pp. 593, 595; ii, p. 169. Thomassy, pp. 9, 10. 
Membre in "Le Clercq," Shea, ii, p. 163. 

42 Membre, supra, pp. 163, 164. Thomassy, p. 10. Margry, i, pp. 

549. 55o, 595; ". PP- i87. 207, 243. 
43 Tonty, 1693, French's "La.," i, p. 62. 

44 Ibid. Parkman's "La Salle," pp. 285-289, Margry ii, pp. 186 seq. 

45 Recit de Nicolas de La Salle, Margry, i, pp. 568-570. Tonty, 1684, 
Margry, i, pp. 611 -612. Tonty, 1693, French's "La.," p. 65. 

46 Ibid. La Salle, Margry, ii, pp. 202-203. 

47 Lettre de M. de la Barre a Colbert le 14 Novembre, 1682, Margry, 
ii, p. 303. "Le Clercq" Shea, ii, pp. 185, 194- 195-196. 

NOTES 205 

48 Tonty, in his Memoire of 1693, says that La Salle ordered him to 
go to gather the French on the River of the Miamis, in order to build 
the Fort St. Louis of the Illinois, and that he set out with this 
design, and when he arrived there M. de La Salle, who had changed 
his mind, came to join him there (Rel. Ined., pp. 21-22). But Tonty 
also says in his Relation of 1684 that La Salle ordered him to go to 
have built a fort at the portage of the River of the Illinois, to 
maintain in security the village of the Shawanoes whom he had 
called to be near him and had joined with the Miamis (Margry, i, pp. 
612-613). That this is the more correct of the two statements is con- 
firmed by La Salle's letter to the Governor (Margry, ii, p. 311), writ- 
ten October 5, 16S2, which says that he has caused a fort to be 
constructed at the portage of the River of the Illinois, and asks for 
supplies for it; and by his letter to one of his friends, written from 
Mackinac October, 1682, which says that he has built a fort at the 
portage of the River of the Illinois, where he has left thirty men with 
the Sieur de Tonty (Margry, ii, p. 294), and by La Barre s complaint 
that La Salle was going to build a fort at this portage, in his letter to 
Colbert of November 14, 1682 (M., ii, p. 303). Tonty explains above 
(Margry, i, p. 613) how he came to go to winter on the Illinois River, 
and that La Salle came to join him on the 30th of December. Nicolas 
de La Salle says expressly that La Salle, on his way from the Mis- 
sissippi Discovery, left eight men at Fort Crevecceur, that he sent M. 
de Tonty from Mackinac with nine men to Cr£vec&ur to join the 
others, and that La Salle arrived there also after some time, made 
the French break camp, and led them opposite the place where the 
village of the Illinois was (M., i, pp. 569, 570). La Salle, and Tonty, 
1684, agree. Tonty, 1693, is therefore incorrect. 

49 Tonty, 1684, Margry, i, p. 613. La Salle, Margry, ii, pp. 294, 
303, 311. 

50 La Salle, Margry, ii, p. 248. 

51 Lake St. Louis, D. Girouard, p. 25. 

62 Recit de Nicolas de La Salle, Margry, i, p. 570. 

53 Margry, i, p. 5S2. 

54 Relations inedites, p. 19. French's "La.," p. 64. 
55 Membre in "Le Clercq," Shea, ii, p. 186. 

56 Margry, i, pp. 465-466. 

57 Ibid., ii, p. 174. 


1 Tonty, 1693, Rel. Ined., p. 22. Tonty, 1684, Margry, i, p. 613. 
Parkman's "La Salle," pp. 293, 294, and note. Lettre de La Salle, 
Margry, ii, pp. 175-176. Joutel, Margry, iii, pp. 479, 495. La Salle 


calls this post "Fort Saint-Louis dans la Louisiane" — see his conces- 
sion to Michel Dizy, Lake St. Louis, Girouard, p. 25, and Lettre de 
La Salle a Antoine Brossard, September 1, 1683, Chicago Historical 
Society MSS. Tonty calls it "Fort Saint-Louis des Illinois" (Suite's 
"Les Tonty," pp. 15, 17), and by this title it was generally known. 

-Tonty, 1693, Rel. Ined., p. 22. Tonty, 1684, Margry, i, p. 613. 

'See names on Franquelin's map, Parkman's "La Salle," 
P. 295. 

* Parkman's "La Salle," p. 297, and Franquelin's map, supra. 
Hebberd ("Wisconsin under Dominion of France," p. 50), thinks 
this claim of La Salle's fraudulent, because the Miamis are counted 
thrice. This mistake is made by Franquelin, and Parkman follows 
him, but it does not nullify La Salle's report. Tonty, 1693, supra, 
says 300 cabins came, /". e., of Illinois, Miamis and Shawanoes. Hen- 
nepin ("La.," p. 153), says the great Illinois village had 460 cabins, 
made like long arbors, each with four or five fires, and each fire with 
one or two families. Allowing five persons to a family, each cabin 
might contain fifty people, and Tonty's 300 cabins would thus mean 
15,000 persons from these three tribes alone, and the strange tribes 
would easily supply the remainder. See Membre's statement (Mar- 
gry, ii, p. 304) that La Salle led 600 Shawanoes with him. This 
probably means warriors, who would represent 3,000 persons from 
this tribe. La Salle also says that 9 or 10 Shawanoe villages were 
abandoned to join the French (Margry, ii, p. 314). 

5 La Salle a La Barre, Margry, ii, pp. 314, 315, 317; Kingsford's 
Canada, ii, pp. 31-32. La Barre a Colbert, Nov. 12, 1683, and Nov. 
14, 1683. Margry, ii, pp. 302-303-304, 33 6 "337- 

'"'Morel de la Durantaye," par A. C. De Leroy Macdonald, in "Le 
Monde," Sept. 30, 1893. 

7 Journal D'une Expedition Contre Les Iroquois in 1687, Redige 
par Le Chevalier De Baugy . . . Lettres et Pieces Relatives au Fort 
Saint Louis des Illinois; Paris, 1883 (cited as De Baugy), pp. 159, 170. 

8 La Salle a La Barre de Fort Saint-Louis, 2 Avril (1683), Margry, ii, 
pp. 312-317. 

9 La Salle a La Barre, du Portage de Checagou, 4 Juin, 1683, Mar- 
gry, ii, pp. 317-328. 

10 Ibid., p. 317. 

11 Margry, ii, pp. 317, 323. 

12 Ibid., p. 317. 

18 Ibid., pp. 317, 321, 323. 327. 328. 

" Ibid. 

v " Ibid., pp. 329, 336. 

16 Ibid., p. 165. 

NOTES 207 

17 La Salle's letter from the Chicago portage to La Barre is dated 
June 4, 1683 (Margry, ii, p. 317) 

18 Feuilles detachees d'une lettre de La Salle, Margry, ii, pp. 165-167. 
The date and first part of this letter are missing, but the context 
shows that it was written after the construction of Fort Saint-Louis, 
and probably in the year 1683. 

19 De Baugy, pp. 161-168. 

20 Ibid., p. 174. 

21 Ibid., p. 175. 

12 De Baugy, pp. 177-178, 180-181. 

28 Ibid., pp. 177-184. 

24 La Barre a Seignelay, Margry, ii, pp. 332-333. 

28 La Salle a Brossard et al, Sept. 1, 1683. Chi. Hist Soc. MSS. 
"Lac St. Louis," Girouard, p. 26. Jugements et Deliberations du 
Conseil Souverain de la Nouvelle-France. Quebec, 1887, iii, p. 544. 

26 Tonty, 1684, Margry, i, p. 613. 

27 La Salle a Brossard et al. Supra. Tonty, 1693, Rel. Ined., p. 
22; 1684, Margry, i, p. 613. 

28 Tonty, 1693, supra, says La Salle departed (from Fort Saint Louis) 
in the month of September. But Tonty, 1684, says he departed 
thence in the month of August. And La Salle's letter to Brossard 
and others at Fort Saint Louis, written after leaving that place on 
this expedition and a journey of some days, is dated at Chicago, Sep- 
tember 1, 1683. He probably left the fort about August 26th. 

29 Tonty, 1693, supra. 

30 Ibid., and Tonty, 1684, supra. 

31 H. W. Beckwith's address to Chicago Bar Association. 

32 Tonty, 1693, Margry, i, pp. 613-614. Tonty, 1684, Rel. Ined., 
p. 22. 

33 Rolland evidently was the famous trader of Lachine. See "Lac 
St. Louis," Girouard, pp. 71-74. 

34 Boisrondet was Tonty's comrade in 1680 at the Iroquois invasion 
and La Salle's commissary at Fort Saint-Louis (see Joutel, in Margry, 
iii, p. 478). 

35 This letter was preserved by Brossard and his descendants for 
more than two hundred years, until 1895, when it came to sale in 
Montreal and was purchased by the Chicago Historical Society 

3B Tonty, 1684, Margry, i, p. 614. 

37 La Salle's Memoir to Seignelay, N. Y. Col. Doc, ix, p. 215; and 
Extrait du Memoire, Margry, ii, p. 347. La Barre denied this charge 
(Margry, ii, pp. 349"35o). 

38 La Salle's Memoir, supra, p. 214. 

39 Margry, ii, pp. 338-344- 


*°"Ferland's Cours d'Histoire," ii, p. 138, citing Belmont's "His- 
toire du Canada," p. 16. 

41 Margry, ii, p. 343. 

42 Tonty, 1693, Rel. Ined, p. 22. 

43 Ibid. Tonty, 1684, Margry, i, p. 614. 

44 Tonty, 1684, 1693, supra. 

45 Lettre du Pere Nouvel a La Barre, de la Mission de Saint Francois 
Xavier, dans la Baie des Puans. Margry, ii, p. 345. Tonty, 1684, supra. 

46 Tonty, 1684, supra. 

47 Margry. ii, pp. 344-345- 

48 Ibid. 

*° Nouvel to La Barre, supra. Tonty, 1684, 1693, supra. 

50 Tonty, supra. 

51 Tonty, 1693, supra, says it was the 23d, but in a more formal 
statement (De Baugy, p. 190) he says the 22d. 

v - Tonty, 1693, supra. 

58 La Salle's letter to Brossard shows that Boisrondet was at this 
time at the fort. 

54 Tonty, 1684, supra. 

55 Nicolas de La Salle, Margry, i, p. 570. 

56 La Salle to Seignelay, N. Y. Col. Doc, ix, pp. 213-215. 
51 Ibid., p. 216. 

58 De Baugy, pp. 186-187. For La Barre's campaign against the 
Iroquois see Kingsford's "Canada," ii, p. 54. 

59 Parkman's "La Salle," p. 329. Kingsford's "Canada," ii, p. 120. 
w Parkman's "La Salle," p. 329. Paris Documents, ix, p. 223. 

R1 N. Y. Col. Doc, ix, pp. 225, 233. Parkman's "La Salle," p. 330. 

M N. Y. Col. Doc, supra. 

63 La Forest was at La Rochelle July 17, 1684, when La Salle gave 
him an obligation there (Margry, ii, p. 418). He arrived in Quebec 
in time to go in autumn to Fort Frontenac (Tonty, 1693, Rel. Ined., 

P- 23). 
01 Tonty, 1684, 1693, supra. 
65 De Baugy, p. 187. 
66 Tonty, 1693, Rel. Ined., p. 23. 
67 De Baugy, p. 189. 
69 Ibid., pp. 189-190. 

69 Ibid. 

70 Tonty a M. Cabart de Villemont, Aug. 24, 1686, Margry, iii, p. 559. 

71 Tonty, 1693, Rel. Ined., p. 23. Margry, iii, p. 559. 

"Tonty au ministre de la marine, Aug. 24, 1686, Margry, iii, p. 553. 
Proces Verbal, Tonty, April, 1686, Margry, iii, p. 554. Tonty a 
M. Cabart de Villemont, supra, p. 560. 

NOTES 209 

73 Margry, iii, pp. 555, 560. Tonty, 1693, Rel. Ined., p. 23. 

74 Kingsford's "Canada," pp. 46, 58. Tonty, 1693, Rel. Ined., p. 23. 

75 Margry, iii, p. 560. Tonty, 1693, supra, says he learned at Mack- 
inac that Denonville had relieved La Barre, and by a letter which he 
did him the honor to write had shown that he desired to see him. He 
does not say the letter was received there. This Memoire was not 
written until 1693, eight years later. In his letter to Cabart de Ville- 
mont, written in 1686, within a year of the events, Tonty says he had 
to return to Fort Saint Louis from Mackinac, and search by another 
route for Rolland, who brought him the Marquis' letter. Yet he 
seems to have learned at Mackinac of La Salle's need, and of Denon- 
ville's wish to see Tonty. The language of the text seems to be the 
reasonable reconciliation of the several statements. 

76 Rel. Inedit., p. 23, Margry, iii, p. 560. 

77 Franquelin's map, 1684, shows no fort at Chicago. Tonty found 
one there in December, 1685. 

78 Joutel, Margry, iii, p. 500. De Baugy, p. 185. 

79 Joutel, Margry, iii, p. 500. Tonty, 1693, Rel. Ined., p. 23. 

80 Lettre de La Salle, 4 Juin, 1683, Margry, ii, p. 317. Tonty, supra. 

81 Franquelin's map of 1684, Parkman's "La Salle," p. 289. 

82 H. W. Beckwith, Chicago Tribune, Feb. 24, 1895. 

83 Treaty of Greenville, Aug. 3, 1795. American State Papers, vol. 
i, Indian Affairs, p. 562. 

84 Margry, iii, pp. 555, 560. Tonty, supra. Paris Documents, ix, 
p. 273. Denonville to La Forest, June 6, 1686, in Francis Parkman's 
MS. in Mass. Historical Society. 

85 Tonty, 1693, Rel. Ined., pp. 23-24. Tonty au ministre, Margry, 
i". P- 553- Proces Verbal, Margry, iii, pp. 555, 558. "Lac St. 
Louis," Girouard, pp. 80-81. Tonty a Villemont, Margry, iii, pp. 

96 French's "La.," p. 68, note. 

87 Tonty, supra. Margry, supra. 

88 Kingsford's "Canada," ii, pp. 74,79. N. Y. Col. Doc, ix, 

59 Francis Parkman MS. in Mass. Historical Society. 

90 Ibid. Lettre de Denonville a La Forest, 6 Juin, 1686. 

91 Tonty, 1693, Rel. Ined., pp. 24, 25, 26. 

9 - Histoire du Canada, par M. L'Abbe de Belmont, pp. 20-24. 
Kingsford's "Canada," ii, pp. 79-85. 
93 Ibid. Ibid. 

94 Tonty, 1693, Rel. Ined., pp. 26, 27. 
96 Parkman's "La Salle," chapter 27, pp. 398-409, note. 
96 Joutel, Margry, iii, pp. 407, 436, 439. 


97 Ibid., p. 451. 

98 Kingsford's "Canada," ii, p. 161. 

99 Parkman's "La Salle," p. 341. 
109 Kingsford's "Canada," supra. 

101 Joutel, supra, pp. 469-473. 

102 Joutel, Margry, iii, pp. 473-479. Father Anastasius Douay, Shea's 
"Le Clercq," pp. 229-282. Joutel does not speak of the Indian Tur- 
pin, but Douay mentions his tribe and name, supra, p. 275. 

i<>3 Joutel, Margry, iii, pp. 479, 490, 494. Douay, in "Le Clercq," ii, 
p. 276. 

104 Joutel, supra, p. 505. 

105 Joutel, Margry, iii, pp. 480-481, 484, 487, 489. 

106 Ibid., pp. 4S2, 489, 490, 493, 495-496, 497-499- 

107 Memoire de l'Abbe Jean Cavelier, Margry, iii, pp. 588-589. 

108 Tonty a Villemont, Margry, iii, p. 564. 

109 Joutel, Margry, iii, pp. 488, 499, 500. 

110 La Salle a Tonty, Margry, iii, p. 549. Cavelier de Tonty, Mar- 
gry, iii, p. 550. 

111 Joutel, Margry, iii, p. 499. 

118 Ibid., pp. 4Q9, 500, 507, 508-509, 510-511. 

113 Ibid., p. 511. 

114 Ibid., pp. 5". 513- 

115 Suite's "Les Tonty," p. 21. 
1,6 Joutel, Margry, pp. 517-534. 

117 Tonty, 1693, Rel. Ined., pp. 27, 28. 

us "Narrative and Critical History of America," iv, p. 194, La Hon- 
tan Voyages, Lettre xiv, vol, i, p. 106, edit, a la Haye, 1704. 

119 Tonty, 1693, Rel. In6d., pp. 31-33. Joutel, Margry, iii, pp. 330 and 
331. French's "La.," pp. 142-144. Parkman, who has most worthily 
told the story of his life, pays him this matchless tribute: "It is easy 
to reckon up his defects, but it is not easy to hide from sight the 
Roman virtues that redeemed them. Beset by a throng of enemies, 
he stands, like the king of Israel, head and shoulders above them 
all. He was a tower of adamant, against whose impregnable front, 
hardship and danger, the rage of men and the elements, the southern 
sun, the northern blast, fatigue, famine, and disease, delay, disap- 
pointment, and deferred hope emptied their quivers in vain. . . . 
America owes him an enduring memory, for in this masculine figure 
she sees the pioneer who guided her to her richest heritage." 

120 Tonty, supra, p. 36. 

121 La Hontan, Lettres xiv, xvi-xvii, vol. i, p. 177, edit, a la Haye, 

122 Ibid., La Hontan, vol. i, p. 177. 

NOTES 211 

123 For La Hontan's unreliability see Kingsford's "Canada," ii, pp. 
59-60, note. 

124 N. Y. Col. Doc, ix, p. 276. 

125 Ibid., pp. 343-344- Margry, iii, p. 563- 
126 Margry, iii, p. 576. 

127 Kingsford's "Canada," ii, pp. 198, 200. Quebec Documents, 
i, p. 466. 


I. Old Fort Chartres 

The marvelous growth of the Great West obscures all 
relating to it, save what is of recent date. It has a past 
and a history, but these are hidden by the throng of mod- 
ern events. Few realize that the territory of Illinois, 
which seems but yesterday to have passed from the con- 
trol of the red man to that of our Republic, was once 
claimed by Spain, occupied by France, and conquered by 
England. And fewer still may know that within its 
boundaries yet remain the ruins of a fortress, in its time 
the most formidable in America, which filled a large 
place in the operations of these great powers in the val- 
ley of the Mississippi. Above the walls of old Fort Char- 
tres, desolate now, and almost forgotten, have floated, in 
turn, the flags of two mighty nations, and its story is an 
epitome of their strife for sovereignty over the New 

The union of Canada, by a line of forts, with the region 
of the West and South, was a favorite scheme of the 
French Crown at an early day. It originated in the active 
brain of the great explorer, La Salle, whose communica- 
tions to the ministers of Louis XIV contain the first sug- 
gestions of such a policy. These military stations were 
intended to be the centers of colonization for the vast 
inland territory, and its protection against rival nations. 
Spain had laid claim to nearly the whole of North Amer- 



ica, under the name of Florida, by the right of first dis- 
covery, and by virtue of a grant from the Pope, who 
disposed of a continent — which he did not own — with 
reckless liberality. France relied on the possession taken 
by La Salle for her title to the Mississippi Valley ; and a 
long altercation ensued. The ordinary state of feeling 
between their officers may be inferred from a corre- 
spondence which has come down to us from the early part 
of the eighteenth century. Bernard de La Harpe estab- 
lished a French post on the Red River, and this aroused 
the ire of Don Martin de La Come, the nearest Spanish 
commandant. Writes the Spaniard: "I am compelled to 
say that your arrival surprises me very much. Your Gov- 
ernor could not be ignorant that the post you occupy 
belongs to my government. I counsel you to give advice 
of this to him, or you will force me to oblige you to 
abandon lands that the French have no right to occupy. 
I have the honor to be, Sir, &c, De La Come. " To him 
replies the courteous Frenchman: "Permit me to inform 
you that M. de Bienville is perfectly informed of the limits 
of his government, and is very certain that this post 
depends not upon the dominions of his catholic majesty. 
If you will do me the favor to come into this quarter, I 
will convince you I hold a post I know how to defend. 
I have the honor to be, Sir, &c, De La Harpe." 

Here and elsewhere, the French held their own, and 
continued to occupy the disputed territory. In the Illi- 
nois country, the mission villages of Cahokia and Kas- 
kaskia sprang up and throve apace. From the latter 
place, as early as 17 15, the good father Mermet reported 
to the Governor of Canada that the encroaching English 
were building forts near the Ohio and the Mississippi. 
So the shadow of the coming power of her old enemy was 



cast athwart the path of France in the western wilder- 
ness, while Spain watched her progress there with a jeal- 
ous eye. And the need of guarding the Illinois settle- 
ments became more manifest when the discovery of valu- 
able mines in that locality was announced. vSuch rumors 
often repeated, and the actual smelting of lead on the 
west bank of the Mississippi, had their effect in the 
mother country. And when the grant of the province of 
Louisiana to the merchant Crozat, was surrendered, in 
17 1 7, John Law's famous Company of the West, after- 
ward absorbed in that of the Indies, was ready to become 
his successor, and to dazzle the multitude with the glit- 
tering lure of the gold and silver of Illinois. The repre- 
sentatives of this great corporation, in unison with those 
of the French Crown, recognizing the many reasons for a 
military post in that far-away region, made haste to 
found it; and thus Fort Chartres arose. It was estab- 
lished as a link in the great chain of strongholds, which 
was to stretch from the St. Lawrence to the Gulf, realiz- 
ing the dream of La Salle ; a bulwark against Spain and 
a barrier to England; a protector of the infant colony, 
and of the church which planted it; a center for trade, 
and for the operation of the far-famed mines; and as the 
chief seat in the New World of the Royal Company of 
the Indies, which wove a spell so potent that its victims 
saw, in the near future, crowded cities all along the 
course of the Mississippi, and stately argosies afloat upon 
its waters, one hundred and fifty years ago. 

On the 9th of February, 1718, there arrived at Mobile, 
by ship, from France, Pierre Duque Boisbriant, a Cana- 
dian gentleman, with the commission of Commandant at 
the Illinois. He was a cousin of Bienville, then Gov- 
ernor of Louisiana, and had already served under him in 


that province. In October, of the same year, accompa- 
nied by several officers and a detachment of troops, he 
departed for the Illinois country, where he was ordered 
to construct a fort. The little flotilla, stemming the 
swift current of the Mississippi, moved slowly on its way, 
encountering no enemies more troublesome than "the 
mosquitoes, which, ' ' says the worthy priest Poisson, who 
took the same journey shortly after, "have caused more 
swearing since the French have been here, than had pre- 
viously taken place in all the rest of the world." Late 
in the year Boisbriant reached Kaskaskia, and selected a 
site for his post sixteen miles above that village, on the 
left bank of the Mississippi. Merrily rang the axes of the 
soldiers in the forest by the mighty river, as they hewed 
out the ponderous timbers for palisade and bastion. And 
by degrees the walls arose, and the barracks and com- 
mandant's house, and the storehouse and great hall of 
the India Company were built, and the cannon, bearing 
the insignia of Louis XIV, were placed in position. In 
the spring of 1720 all was finished, the banner of France 
was given to the breeze, and the work was named Fort 
Chartres. An early governor of the State of Illinois, 
who wrote its pioneer history, has gravely stated that this 
fort was so called because it had a charter from the Crown 
of France for its erection. But it is feared that the same 
wag who persuaded an Illinois legislature to name the 
second capital of the State Vandalia, by reason of the 
alleged traces of a tribe of Indians named the Vandals in 
the neighborhood of the site, also victimized a governor. 
We can hardly accept his derivation, when it seems so 
much more probable that the name was taken, by way of 
compliment to the then Regent, from the title of his son, 
the Due de Chartres, for whom, about this time, streets 


were named in New Orleans and Kaskaskia, which are 
still thus designated. 

The first important arrival at the new post was that of 
Philippe Francois Renault, formerly a banker in Paris, the 
director-general of the mines of the India Company, who 
reached Fort Chartres before its completion, and made 
his headquarters there. He brought with him 250 miners 
and soldiers, and also a large number of slaves from St. 
Domingo. This was the beginning of negro slavery in 
Illinois. The practice of enslaving Indian captives was 
already in vogue, but from this time on the records of 
the French settlements there speak of both black slaves 
and red slaves. The fort was finished not at all too soon. 
The tardy Spaniards had at last decided to strike a blow 
at their neighbor on the Mississippi, and Boisbriant 
hardly had everything in readiness when news reached 
him of the march of a force from Mexico against his 
stronghold. But this invasion was repelled by the natives 
on the route, and all concerned in it were slain, except the 
chaplain of the expedition, who was taken prisoner by 
the Pawnees. He finally escaped in a dexterous manner. 
While delighting the Indians with feats of horsemanship 
he gradually withdrew to a distance, and described a final 
elaborate figure which had no return curve. Two Indian 
chiefs, who displayed as trophies a Catalonian pistol and 
a pair of Spanish shoes, gave this account to Father 
Charlevoix, at Green Bay. 

This pleasant old traveler was then making the jour- 
ney through North America, of which he has left such a 
charming account. On the 9th of October, 1721, he 
passed Fort Chartres, which stood a musket-shot from 
the river, as he tells us, and he further says, "M. Duque 
de Boisbriant commands here for the Company to whom 


the place belongs. The French are now beginning to 
settle the country between this Fort and Kaskaskia. " 
The leader of Charlevoix' escort was a young Canadian 
officer, Jean St. Ange de Belle Rive, destined in later 
years to have a closer acquaintance with Fort Chartres 
than this passing glimpse of its newly-built walls and 
structures afforded him. He hardly anticipated then that 
to him would come the honor of commanding it, and 
that on him, almost half a century later, would fall the 
sad duty of finally lowering there his country's flag, 
which waved so proudly above it on that autumn 

No sooner was the fort erected than a village began to 
grow up at its gates, in which the watchful Jesuits forth- 
with established the parish of St. Anne de Fort Char- 
tres. All that remains of the records of this parish is in 
the writer's possession. They begin with an ancient 
document, tattered and worn, written in Quebec, in the 
year 17 16. It is a copy of a curious decree of Louis XV, 
promulgated in the same year, which seems to be some- 
thing in the nature of a manual of church etiquette. 
Reciting that His Majesty has considered all the ordi- 
nances on the subject of honors in the churches of New 
France, and wishes to put an end to all the contests on 
the subject, it proceeds to regulate the whole matter. 
Twelve articles provide that the Governor-General and the 
Intendant shall each have a prie Dieu in the cathedrals of 
Quebec and Montreal, the Governor-General on the right, 
the Intendant on the left; the commander of the troops 
shall have a seat behind the Governor-General ; in church 
processions the Governor-General shall march at the head 
of the council, his guards in front, the Intendant to the 
left and behind the council, and the chief notary, first 


usher, and captain of the guard, with the Governor-Gen- 
eral, yet behind him, but not on the same line with the 
council; and similar minute directions cover all contin- 
gencies. In all other churches of New France, the same 
rules of precedence are to be observed according to the 
rank of those in attendance. Doubtless copies of this 
important decree were kept in readiness, that one might 
be furnished to each new church at its establishment. 
And probably the one from which we quote was sent 
from Quebec to Ste. Anne of Fort Chartres some time in 
1 7 21, the year in which the first entries seem to have 
been made in the parish registers. We may presume 
that Boisbriant followed its instructions strictly, and took 
care to be on the right hand in the church, and also that 
the Intendant or civil officer should be on the left. That 
position was filled by Marc Antoine de La Loire des 
Ursins, principal director for the Company of the Indies. 
These two, together with Michel Chassin, commissary 
for the Company, formed the Provincial Council of the 
Illinois, and speedily made Fort Chartres the center of 
the civil government of the colony. To this council 
applications for land were made, and its members exe- 
cuted the grants upon which many titles rest to this day. 
Boisbriant, doubtless believing that he that provideth not 
for his own household is worse than an infidel, had a 
large tract conveyed to himself, beginning at the little 
hill behind the fort. He and his associates dispensed 
justice, regulated titles, and administered estates, and, in 
fact, established the court, which, for more than forty 
years, decided the cases which arose in the Illinois 
country, according to the civil law. Their largest land 
grant was made in 1723, to M. Renault, and comprised a 
tract west of the Mississippi, another, fifteen leagues 


square, near the site of Peoria, and another above Fort 
Chartres, one league along the river and two leagues 
deep, the latter to raise provisions for his settlements 
among the mines. Of this last tract, a large part was 
never sold by Renault, and to this day the unconveyed 
portion is marked upon the maps of Monroe County, 
Illinois, as the property of the Philip Renault heirs. 

About this time word came to the fort that the faithful 
allies of the French, the Illinois Indians, who dwelt about 
Peoria Lake, and the Rock of St. Louis, now called 
Starved Rock, were hard pressed by their ancient ene- 
mies, the Foxes. Boisbriant sent a force to their relief 
which arrived at the close of a contest, in which the 
Foxes were defeated, but so greatly had the Illinois 
suffered that they returned with the French to the shelter 
of the fort, leaving the route to the settlements from the 
north unprotected. In the year 1725 Bienville, the Gov- 
ernor of Louisiana, was summoned to France, and Com- 
mandant Boisbriant became acting Governor in his stead, 
with headquarters at New Orleans. His old position was 
filled by M. De Siette, a captain in the royal army. In 
the parish register in his administration appears the bap- 
tism of a female savage of the Padoucah nation, by the 
chaplain at the fort, who records with great satisfaction 
that he performed the ceremony, and gave her the name 
of Therese, but does not say whether she consented, or 
what she thought about it. She apparently paid a casual 
visit to the fort, and he baptized her at a venture, and 
made haste to write down another convert. The Fox 
Indians were a thorn in the side of De Siette. The way 
by the Illinois River was now open to them, and their 
war parties swooped upon the settlers, murdering them 
in their fields, even within a few miles of the fort. In 


great wrath, De Siette opened a correspondence on the 
subject with De Lignerie, the French commandant at 
Green Bay, and proposed that the Fox tribe should be 
exterminated at once. The calmer De Lignerie replies 
in substance that this would be the best possible expedi- 
ent, provided the Foxes do not exterminate them in the 
attempt. And he suggests a postponement of hostilities 
until De Siette and himself could meet "at Chickagau or 
the Rock, ' ' and better concert their plans. But soon the 
French authorities adopted the views of the commandant 
at the Illinois, and the Marquis de Beauharnois, grand- 
father of the first husband of the Empress Josephine, 
then commanding in Canada, notified him to join the 
Canadian forces at Green Bay, in 1728, to make war upon 
the Foxes. A battle ensued, in which the Illinois 
Indians, headed by the French, were victorious. But 
hostilities continued until De Siette 's successor, by a 
masterly piece of strategy, waylaid and destroyed so 
many of the persistent foemen that peace reigned for a 

This officer, M. de St. Ange de Belle Rive, who, as we 
have seen, first visited the Illinois country with Father 
Charlevoix, had since been stationed there, and made it 
his home, for the ancient title records of this region show 
that in 1729 he purchased a house in the prairie bounding 
on one side the road leading to Fort Chartres. And in 
an old package of stained and moldering papers, but 
lately disinterred from the dust of at least one century, 
is the original petition addressed by St. Ange to the 
proper authorities for the confirmation of his title to cer- 
tain land, not far from the fort, acquired "from a savage 
named Chicago, who is contented and satisfied with the 
payment made to him." During his term of office, in 


1 731, the Royal India Company surrendered its charter 
to the Crown, which thenceforward had the exclusive 
government of the country. A few years before, the 
French warfare with the Natchez Indians, that strange 
tribe of sun-worshipers, probably of the Aztec race, had 
resulted in the dispersion of the natives, some of whom 
joined the Chickasaws, who, under English influence, 
kept up the strife. A young officer, Pierre d'Artagui- 
ette, distinguished himself so greatly in the Natchez 
war that he was appointed to the Illinois district in 1734, 
taking the place of St. Ange, who was transferred to 
another post. The new commander was a younger 
brother of Diron d'Artaguiette, a man very prominent 
in the early history of Louisiana, and his family connec- 
tions, his services and virtues, his brilliant career and 
untimely death, have surrounded his name with a halo 
of romance. With pride and pleasure he received his 
promotion to the rank of major, and his orders to take 
command at Fort Chartres. For two years he ruled his 
province well, and then the summons to the field came to 
him again. Bienville had resumed the governorship 
and resolved to crush the Chickasaws. In preparation 
for the campaign he strengthened all the posts, that they 
might better spare a part of their garrisons for active 
work. De Coulanges, an officer sent to Fort Chartres 
with a supply of ammunition, disobeyed orders, transport- 
ing merchandise instead, leaving the powder at the 
Arkansas. A party of D' Artaguiette's men going after it 
was routed by the Chickasaws. "For this," Bienville 
says, "I have ordered D'Artaguiette to imprison De 
Coulanges for six months in Fort Chartres. I hope this 
example will moderate the avidity for gain of some of 
our officers." When everything was in readiness, D'Ar- 


taguiette set forth from Fort Chartres with all his force, 
on a morning in February, making a brave show as the 
fleet of bateaux and canoes floated down the Mississippi. 
This first invasion of southern soil by soldiers from Illi- 
nois, comprised nearly all of the garrison of the fort, a 
company of volunteers from the French villages, almost 
the whole of the Kaskaskia tribe, and a throng of Indian 
warriors who had flocked to the standard even from the 
far-away Detroit. Chicago led the Illinois and the 
Miamis, and at the mouth of the Ohio, the Chevalier 
Vinsenne joined the expedition, with the garrison from 
the post on the Wabash, and a number of Indians, includ- 
ing a party of Iroquois braves. Landing, and marching 
inland, they reached the Chickasaw villages at the 
appointed time, but the troops from New Orleans, who 
were to meet them there, failed to appear. Compelled 
to fight or retreat, D'Artaguiette chose the former, and 
was at first successful, but the tide turned, when he fell, 
covered with wounds. De Coulanges, released from dur- 
ance that he might redeem his fame, and many other offi- 
cers, were slain, most of the Indians fled, and D'Artagui- 
ette, Vinsenne, the Jesuit Senat, and young St. Ange, 
son of the Illinois commandant, were taken prisoners by 
the unconquered Chickasaws, who burned them at the 
stake, and triumphantly marched to the Georgia coast to 
tell their English allies there of the French defeat. The 
broken remnants of the little army, under the leadership 
of a boy of sixteen, pursued by the savages for five and 
twenty leagues, regained the river, and slowly and sadly 
returned to the fort. On the sorrow caused there by the 
mournful news, the masses that were said in the little 
church for the repose of the souls of the slain, and the 
deep grief felt throughout the country of the Illinois, in 


cabin and wigwam alike, we will not dwell. The 
impression made by the life and death of D'Artaguiette 
was so abiding, that his name remained a household word 
among the French for years ; and well into the present 
century the favorite song among the negroes along the 
Mississippi was one of which the oft-repeated chorus ran : 

" In the days of D'Artaguiette, Ho! Ho! 
In the days of D'Artaguiette, Oho!" 

Three years later La Buissoniere, who succeeded him, 
led an expedition from Fort Chartres, composed of 
Frenchmen and natives, to take part in another campaign 
against the dauntless Chickasaws. Soldiers from Quebec 
and Montreal, with recruits from all the tribes along their 
route, overtook him on the way, and the northern forces 
joined the troops under Bienville, newly reinforced from 
Paris, near the site of the city of Memphis. The domin- 
ions of the King of France, in the Old World and the 
New, were laid under contribution to concentrate this 
army at the rendezvous, but not a blow was struck. 
White and red men lay in camp for months, apparently 
unwilling to risk an encounter, and at length a dubious 
peace was arranged, and all marched home again, with- 
out loss or glory. Hardly had the Fort Chartres detach- 
ment returned when a boat, going from New Orleans to 
the Illinois, was attacked by the Chickasaws, above the 
mouth of the Ohio, and all on board were killed, save one 
young girl. She had recently arrived from France, and 
was on her way to join her sister, the wife of an officer 
at the fort. Escaping by a miracle to the shore, she wan- 
dered through the woods for days, living on herbs, until, 
sore spent and ready to die, she chanced to reach an ele- 
vation from which she caught a glimpse of the flag float- 


ing over Fort Chartres, and, with new hope and strength, 
struggled onward, and came safely to the friends who had 
mourned for her as dead. 

Among the few original documents relating to this pe- 
riod which are still preserved, is a deed executed at Fort 
Chartres by Alphonse de La Buissoniere, commandant at 
the Illinois, and Madame Therese Trudeau, his wife. 
During his governorship were the halcyon days of the 
French settlers at the Illinois. The Indians were kept 
in check, the fertile soil yielded bounteous harvests, two 
convoys laden with grain and provisions, went each year 
to New Orleans, and lower Louisiana became almost 
entirely dependent upon them for supplies. Other vil- 
lages had grown up near the fort. Prairie du Rocher, 
five miles away, was situated upon a grant made by the 
India Company to Boisbriant, and by him transferred to 
his nephew, Langlois, who conveyed it by parcels to the 
settlers, reserving to himself certain seignorial rights 
according to the customs of Paris. And Renault, on a 
portion of his grant above the fort, established the village 
of St. Philippe, which became a thriving place. These were 
laid out after the French manner, with Commons and 
Common Fields, still marked upon the local maps, and 
in some cases held and used to this day under the provi- 
sions of these early grants. In each of the villages was a 
chapel, under the jurisdiction of the parent church of 
Ste. Anne of Fort Chartres. To the colony came scions 
of noble families of France, seeking fame and adventure 
in that distant land, and their names and titles appear at 
length in the old records and parish registers. Among 
them was Benoist St. Clair, captain of a company 
detached from the marine service, who followed La Buis- 
soniere in the chief command, and held it for a year or 


more. He found little to do in those piping times of 
peace, made an occasional grant of land, and sought other 
service early in 1742. 

The Chevalier de Bertel, who describes himself as 
major commanding for the King, took charge in his stead. 
The parish register of Ste. Anne, in his time, is extant, 
and the title page of the volume, then newly opened, 
bears the following inscription : 

"Numbered and initialed by us, Principal Secretary of 
the Marine and Civil Judge at the Illinois, the present 
book, containing seventy-four leaves, to serve as a Reg- 
ister of the Parish of Ste. Anne, of Baptisms, Marriages, 
and Deaths. Done at Fort Chartres the 1st of August, 

"Chevalier de Bertel, "De la Loire, 

"Major Commandant. "Flancour." 

The pages which remain, by their careful numbering 
and joint initials, show how important it was deemed to 
preserve and identify this register. It was soon to con- 
tain the record of the sudden death of Flancour himself, 
the civil judge at the Illinois. One of his last acts was 
to grant to the village of Prairie du Rocher, a tract of 
land for commons, from which it now derives a revenue. 
And with Bertel he executed a deed to a young man at 
St. Philippe, for the reason that he was the first one born 
in Illinois to marry and settle himself. And to another, 
who asked the gift of a farm, because he had seven chil- 
dren, they granted a tract of land for each child. Ren- 
ault made his last conveyance of a lot at St. Philippe by 
deed, executed in his rooms at Fort Chartres, September 
2, 1740, and, three years later, returned to Paris, after 
a residence in the Illinois country of nearly a quarter of 


a century. In the same season, Governor Bienville went 
to France, finally resigning his trust to the Marquis de 
Vaudreuil. And here a word may be spoken of the first 
royal Governor of the province, of which Illinois was a 
part, and in whose administration Fort Chartres was con- 
structed. Le Moyne de Bienville, a Canadian born, was 
one of an illustrious family. His father was killed in 
battle in the service of his country, seven of his brothers 
died naval officers, and of the three others, then surviv- 
ing, one was Governor of Montreal, one captain of a ship 
of the line, and one a naval ensign. He distinguished 
himself at the capture of Port Nelson from the English, 
and in a brilliant naval engagement in Hudson's Bay; 
was one of the founders of Louisiana ; and chose the site 
of the city of New Orleans. He served as Lieutenant- 
Governor and Governor of the province for nearly forty 
years, and won the reputation of being the bravest and 
best man in the colony. His portrait, which adorns the 
mansion, at Longueil, in Canada, of Baron Grant, the 
representative of the family, shows a martial figure, and 
a noble face, in keeping with his record; and his intimate 
connection with its early history would make it fitting to 
preserve a copy of this original in the State of Illinois. 

The Chevalier de Bertel had a difficult part to play 
France and England were at war, because Frederick the 
Great and Maria Theresa could not agree, and this dis- 
turbed the settlements at the Illinois. Some English- 
men, found on the Mississippi, were arrested as spies, 
and confined in the dungeon at Fort Chartres, and whis- 
pers of an English attack were in the air. The fort was 
out of repair, and poorly supplied, and a number of its 
soldiers, tiring of the confinement of the garrison, 
deserted, to try the free life of the woods and prairies. 


The old-time Indian allies were won over by the British, 
and agreed to destroy the French post during the moon of 
the fall of the leaf, but they were thwarted by the skill 
and address of De Bertel. Many anxious thoughts he had 
as he paced the enclosure of Fort Chartres, and many an 
earnest epistle he addressed to his superior officers, assur- 
ing them that it was only by great good fortune that he 
could hold his post, which must be reenforced and 
strengthened. The abandonment of the fort was at one 
time contemplated. This plan, however, was given up 
when the Marquis de Galissoniere, Governor-General of 
Canada, presented a memorial on the subject to the home 
government. He says, "The little colony of Illinois 
ought not to be left to perish. The King must sacrifice 
for its support. The principal advantage of the country 
is its extreme productiveness, and its connection with 
Canada and Louisiana must be maintained. ' ' The peace 
of Aix la Chapelle came in time to give both parties a 
breathing space, in which to prepare for the sterner con- 
test soon to follow. Chevalier de Bertel, knowing that 
his wise counsels had borne fruit, transferred the com- 
mand again to Benoist St. Clair, who signalized his return 
by wedding the daughter of a citizen of Kaskaskia, in 
January, 1750. The same year De Galissoniere once 
more urged upon the King the importance of preserving 
and strengthening the post at the Illinois, describing the 
country as open and ready for the plough, and traversed 
by an innumerable multitude of buffaloes. "And these 
animals," he says, "are covered with a species of wool, 
sufficiently fine to be employed in various manufacto- 
ries!" And he further suggests, and, doubtless, correctly, 
that "the buffalo, if caught and attached to the plow, would 
move it at a speed superior to that of the domestic ox!" 


In the succeeding autumn the Chevalier de Makarty, a 
major of engineers, with a few companies of troops, 
arrived from France, under orders to rebuild the citadel 
of the Illinois country. Other detachments followed, until 
nearly a full regiment of French grenadiers answered 
to the roll-call at Fort Chartres. They toiled busily 
to transform it from a fortress of wood to one of stone, 
under the skillful guidance of the trained officer, whose 
Irish blood, as well as his French commission, made hos- 
tile preparations against Britain a labor of love to him. 
You may see, to this day, the place in the bluffs to the 
eastward of the fort, where they quarried the huge 
blocks, which they carried in boats across the little lake 
lying between. The finer stone, with which the gateways 
and buildings were faced, was brought from beyond the 
Mississippi. A million of crowns seemed to the King of 
France but a reasonable expense for this work of recon- 
struction, which was to secure his empire in the West. 
And hardly was it completed when the contest began, and 
the garrison of Fort Chartres had a hand in the opening 
struggle. In May, 1754, the young George Washington, 
with his Virginia riflemen, surprised the party of Jumon- 
ville at the Great Meadows, and slew the French leader. 
His brother, Neyon de Villiers, one of the captains at 
Fort Chartres, obtained leave from Makarty to avenge 
him, and with his company went by the Mississippi and 
the Ohio to Fort du Quesne, where he joined the head of 
the family, Coulon de Villiers, who was marching on the 
same errand. Together, with " a force as numerous," 
said the Indians, " as the pigeons in the woods," they 
brought to bay "Monsieur de Wachenston," as the 
French dispatches call him, at Fort Necessity, which he 
surrendered on the 4th of July. The capture of this 


place by the French is one of the causes assigned by 
George the Second for the declaration of hostilities by 
Britain ; and thus the Old French War began. The little 
detachment, with its bold leader, returned, flushed with 
victory, to celebrate, at Fort Chartres, the triumph of 
Illinois over Virginia. Soon the demands upon this post 
for supplies and men grew constant, and the veteran 
Makarty labored steadily to keep pace with them. The 
commandant at Fort du Quesne, whose communications 
with Canada were interrupted by the British, writes him : 
"We are in sad want of provisions. I send to you for 
flour and pork. ' ' The Governor-General of Canada, in 
an epistle to the Minister of Marine, observes: "I knew 
the route from the Illinois was as fine as could be desired. 
Chevalier de Villiers, who commands the escort of pro- 
visions from there, came up with a bateau of 18,000 
weight. This makes known a sure communication with 
the Illinois whence I can derive succor in provisions and 
men." Nor did our garrison confine itself to commissary 
work. The tireless De Villiers, hardly resting from his 
escort duty, crossed the Alleghenies with his men, and 
captured Fort Granville, on the Juniata. The Marquis 
de Montcalm, writing to the Minister of War, thus pleas- 
antly alludes to this little attention paid by Illinois to 
Pennsylvania: "The news from the Beautiful River is 
excellent. We continue to devastate Pennsylvania. 
Chevalier de Villiers, brother of Jumonville, who was 
assassinated by the British, has just burned Fort Gran- 
ville, sixty miles from Philadelphia." The next year, 
Aubry, another of the Fort Chartres captains, was sent 
by Makarty, with 400 men, to reenforce Fort du Quesne, 
then threatened by the British. The morning after his 
arrival he sallied out and routed Major Grant and his 


Highlanders, and, a few days later, surprised the British 
camp forty-five miles away, captured their horses, and 
brought his party back mounted. Soon, however, the 
approach of a superior force, with Washington and his 
riflemen in the van, compelled the abandonment of Fort 
du Quesne. By the light of its burning stockade, the 
Illinois troops sailed down the Beautiful River, and sadly 
returned to their homes. 

The British star was now in the ascendant, yet still the 
French struggled gallantly. Once more the drum beat 
to arms on the parade ground at Fort Chartres, at the 
command to march to raise the siege of Fort Niagara. 
All the Illinois villages sent volunteers, and Aubry led 
the expedition by a devious route, joining the detach- 
ments from Detroit and Michillimackinac, on Lake Erie. 
As they entered the Niagara River Indian scouts reported 
that they were "like a floating island, so black was the 
stream with their bateaux and canoes." The desperate 
charge upon the British lines failed, Aubry, covered with 
wounds, fell into the hands of the enemy, and the bul- 
letin reads, "Of the French from the Illinois, many were 
killed and many taken prisoner." Despair and gloom 
settled upon the fort and its neighborhood, when the sor- 
rowful news came back. Makarty writes to the Gov- 
ernor-General: "The defeat at Niagara has cost me the 
flower of my men. My garrison is weaker than ever. 
The British are building bateaux at Pittsburg. I have 
made all arrangements, according to my strength to 
receive the enemy." And the Governor-General replies, 
"I strongly recommend you to be on your guard." 
The surrender, at Montreal, of the Canadas, fol- 
lowed upon the victory on the plains of Abraham, but 
still the Illinois held out for the King. Neyon de Vil- 


Hers received his well-earned promotion, and assumed 
command at Fort Chartres. And the fine old soldier, 
Makarty, doubtless regretting that he had not had the 
opportunity to test the strength of the goodly stone walls 
he had builded, sheathed his sword, twirled his mus- 
tache, made his bow, and departed. 

The village at the fort gate, which, after the rebuild- 
ing, was called New Chartres, had become a well-estab- 
lished community. The title records quaintly illustrate 
its ways of transacting business, as when, for instance, the 
royal notary at the Illinois declares that he made a cer- 
tain public sale in the forenoon of Sunday, after the great 
parochial mass of Ste. Anne of New Chartres, at the main 
door of the church, offering the property in a high and 
audible voice, while the people were going out in great 
numbers from said church. And the parish register, 
which, briefly and drily, notes the marriages of the com- 
mon people, spares neither space nor words in the record 
of the weddings in the families of the officers at the fort. 
When Jean la Freile de Vidrinne, officer of a company, 
is married to Elizabeth de Moncharveaux, daughter of 
Jean Francois Liver non de Moncharveaux, captain of a 
company, and when the Monsieur Andre Chevalier, royal 
solicitor and treasurer for the King at the country of the 
Illinois, weds Madeleine Loisel, names and titles, and 
ancestry are set forth at length, and Makarty, the com- 
mandant, Buchet, the principal writer, Du Barry, a lieu- 
tenant, all the dignitaries of fort and village, and all the 
relatives, subscribe the register as witnesses. The ladies 
sign with a careful deliberation, indicating that penman- 
ship was not one of their recreations ; the gentlemen with 
flourishes so elaborate that they seem to have been 
hardly able to bring them to a close. These entries 


appear in a separate volume, the last in date of the par- 
ish books, entitled; "Register of the Marriages made in 
the Parish of Ste. Anne, containing seventeen sheets, or 
sixty-eight pages, numbered and initialed by Mr. Buchet, 
principal writer and judge." (Signed) Buchet. And in 
the Baptismal register of the chapel of St. Joseph, at 
Prairie du Rocher, appears an entry which has a strangely 
familiar sound. For it recites that several persons, adults 
and children, were baptized together, in the "presence of 
theii parents, brothers, uncles, mutual friends, their sis- 
ters, their cousins, and their aunts." This, palpably, is 
the germ of "Pinafore," which Illinois may therefore 
take the credit of originating, long before our era ! 

New Chartres, and the other villages in the neighbor- 
hood, and the fort, rested secure in the belief that, 
although Canada had surrendered, Louisiana, with the 
Illinois country, would still be preserved by the King, 
who might thence reconquer his lost possessions. Hence, 
like a thunder-clap, came the news that on the ioth of 
February, 1763, Louis XV had ratified the treaty trans- 
ferring them to the British government. The aged Bien- 
ville, then living in Paris, with tears in his eyes, begged 
that the colony, to which he had given the best years of 
his life, might be spared to France, but in vain. With a 
stroke of his pen the weak King ceded to Great Britain 
the Canadas, the Illinois, and all the valley of the Missis- 
sippi east of the river. While at Fort Chartres they were 
in daily expectation of news of the coming of British 
troops to take possession, an expedition arrived from 
New Orleans to settle at the Illinois. It was headed by 
Pierre Laclede, the representative of a company of mer- 
chants engaged in the fur trade. Learning here of the 
treaty of cession, he at once decided to establish a new 


post in the territory, west of the Mississippi, supposed to 
be still French ground. Neyon de Villiers permitted him 
to store his goods and quarter his company at the fort, 
and Laclede, after an exploring tour, selected a fine 
bluff, sixty miles to the northward, for the site of his 
colony. He foresaw something of its future importance, 
and, returning to Fort Chartres for the winter, discoursed 
with enthusiasm upon its prospects, and took possession 
in the spring. This was the beginning of the city of St. 
Louis. Many of the French from the Illinois followed 
him, even transporting their houses to the other shore, 
so great was their desire to live under their own flag. 
And terrible was their disappointment when the secret 
treaty with Spain was made known, by which their faith- 
less King ceded all his dominions beyond the Mississippi 
to the nation which had so long disputed with France her 
foothold there. Many more of the unhappy colonists 
descended the Mississippi, with Neyon de Villiers, in the 
belief that lower Louisiana was to remain under French 
control, and that their condition would be bettered there, 
only to be bitterly disappointed. Those who remained 
felt their hopes revive, as time passed on and the red- 
coats came not. 

The veteran St. Ange, who had returned from Vin- 
cennes to play the last sad act of the drama, with a little 
garrison of forty men, still held the fort, although it was 
the only place in North America at which the white flag 
of the Bourbons was flying. All else had been ceded 
and surrendered, but the way to the west was not yet 
open, for Pontiac was a lion in the path. The British 
victory was not complete until that flag was lowered, and 
repeated efforts to accomplish this were made. Again 
and again were they thwarted by the Forest Chieftain. 


Major Loftus, ascending the Mississippi with a force to 
take possession of Fort Chartres, was greeted with a vol- 
ley at the bluffs, still called Loftus' Heights, and 
retreated to Pensacola. Captain Pittman, seeking to find 
his way from Mobile in the guise of a trader, gave up 
the attempt as too hazardous. Captain Morris, sent 
from Detroit to arrange for the surrender of the fort, was 
met by Pontiac, who, squatting in front of him, opened 
the interview by observing that the British were liars, 
and asked if he had come to lie to them like the rest. 
Attentions much less courteous were received from indi- 
viduals of the Kickapoo persuasion, and Morris turned 
back, while still several hundred miles from his destina- 
tion. Lieutenant Frazer, pushing down the Ohio, reached 
Kaskaskia, where he fell into Pontiac's hands, who kept 
him all one night in dread of being boiled alive, and at 
daybreak shipped him to New Orleans by canoe express, 
with the cheerful information that the kettle was boiling 
over a large fire to receive any other Englishmen who 
came that way. Frazer could only console himself for 
his otherwise fruitless voyage down both the Ohio and 
the Mississippi, with the thought that he had been nearer 
to the objective point than any other officer, and had seen 
a great deal of the country. George Croghan, Sir Wil- 
liam Johnson's interpreter, following Frazer on the same 
errand, was waylaid by the Shawnees on the Ohio and 
sent to the Indian villages on the Wabash, whence he 
took Morris' route to Detroit. The French and Spanish 
officers in Louisiana laughed at the British failures to 
reach a fort they claimed to own, and suggested that an 
important party had been omitted in the treaty of cession, 
and that a new one should be made with King Pontiac. 
Meanwhile that sovereign was ordering into service some 


Illinois Indians, assembled near Fort Chartres, and when 
they showed a reluctance to engage in hostilities against 
their new rulers, said to them : "Hesitate not, or I destroy 
you as fire does the prairie grass. Listen, and recollect 
these are the words of Pontiac!" Their scruples vanished 
with amazing rapidity, and they did his bidding. Then 
with his retinue of dusky warriors, he led the way 
through the tall gateway of Fort Chartres, and greeting 
St. Ange, as he sat in the government house, said; 
"Father, I have long wished to see thee, to recall the bat- 
tles which we fought together against the misguided In- 
dians and the English dogs. I love the French, and I have 
come here with my warriors to avenge their wrongs. " 
But St. Ange plainly told him that all was over ; Onontio, 
their great French father, could do no more for his red 
children ; he was beyond the sea and could not hear their 
voices; and they must make peace with the English. 
Pontiac, at last convinced, gave up the contest, and made 
no opposition to the approach from Fort Pitt, by the 
Ohio, of a detachment of the 426^ Highlanders, the famous 
Black Watch, under Captain Stirling, to whom St. Ange 
formally surrendered the fort on the 2d of October, 1765. 
The lilies of France gave place to the red cross of St. 
George, and the long struggle was ended. At Fort 
Chartres the great empire of France in the New World 
ceased forever. 

The minute of the surrender of Fort Chartres to M. 
Sterling, appointed by M. de Gage, Governor of New 
York, Commander of His Britannic Majesty's troops in 
North America, is preserved in the French archives at 
Paris. The fort is carefully described in it, with its 
arched gateway, fifteen feet high; a cut-stone platform 
above the gate, with a stair of nineteen stone steps, hav- 


ing a stone balustrade, leading to it ; its walls of stone 
eighteen feet in height ; and its four bastions, each with 
forty-eight loopholes, eight embrasures, and a sentry box, 
the whole in cut stone. And within, the great store- 
house, ninety feet long by thirty wide, two stories high, 
and gable-roofed; the guardhouse having two rooms 
above for the chapel and missionary quarters: the gov- 
ernment house, 84x32, with iron gates and a stone porch, 
a coach house and pigeon house adjoining, and a large 
stone well inside; the intendant's house, of stone and iron, 
with a portico; the two rows of barracks, each 128 feet 
long, the magazine, thirty-five feet wide, thirty-eight 
feet long, and thirteen feet high above the ground, with 
a doorway of cut stone, and two doors, one of wood and 
one of iron ; the bake house, with two ovens, and a stone 
well in front ; the prison with four cells of cut stone, and 
iron doors ; and one large relief gate to the north ; the 
whole enclosing an area of more than four acres. The 
English had insisted that, under the treaty of cession, the 
guns in all the forts belonged to them. The French 
Governor of Louisiana disputed the claim, but consented 
to leave those at the Illinois, with a promise of their 
restoration if his view proved correct. Hence the can- 
non of Fort Chartres were transferred with it, for the 
time at least. 

St. Ange and his men took boat for St. Louis, where, 
feeling that their sovereign had utterly deserted them, 
they soon decided to exchange the service of His Most 
Christian Majesty of France, for that of His Most Catholic 
Majesty of Spain. They were speedily enrolled in the 
garrison of St. Louis, of which St. Ange was appointed 
to the command, to the great satisfaction of his comrades 
and his old neighbors from the Illinois. One tragedy 


signalized the accession of the new government at Fort 
Chartres. Two young officers, one French and the other 
English, were rival suitors for the hand of a young lady 
in the neighborhood, and a quarrel arose which led to a 
duel. They fought with small-swords early on a Sunday 
morning, near the fort; the Englishman was slain, and 
the Frenchman made haste to descend the river to New 
Orleans. The story of this, no doubt the first duel fought 
in Illinois, was related, nearly forty years after its occur- 
rence, by an aged Frenchman, who was an eye-witness 
of the combat, to the chronicler who has preserved the 
account. With the departure of the French soldiers, the 
last spark of life in the village of New Chartres went out. 
On the register, then in use in the church of Ste. Anne, 
was written; "The above-mentioned church (parochial of 
Ste. Anne of New Chartres) having been abolished, the 
rest of the paper which was in this book has been taken 
for the service of the church at Kaskaskia. " And the 
Mississippi, as if bent upon destroying every vestige of 
the once happy and prosperous village, encroached upon 
its site until a large portion of it was swept away. 
Shortly after its abandonment the parish register of Prai- 
rie du Rocher, which place continued to be occupied by 
the French, records the removal of the bodies of the Rev- 
erend Fathers Gagnon and Collet, priests of Ste. Anne of 
New Chartres, from the ruined cemetery near that church 
on the point in the river, and their burial in the chapel of 
St. Joseph, at Prairie du Rocher. 

The Illinois had now become a British colony, "in the 
days when George the Third was King. " The simple 
French inhabitants with difficulty accustomed themselves 
to the change, and longed for the paternal sway of the 
commanders of their own race. It is said that soon after 


the British occupation the officer in authority at Fort 
Chartres died suddenly, and there being no one compe- 
tent to succeed him, the wheels of government stopped. 
And that St. Ange, hearing at St. Louis of the confusion 
in his old province, repaired to Fort Chartres, restored 
order, and remained there until another British officer 
could reach the spot. The story is typical of the man, 
who deserves a wider fame than he has won. For he was 
a fine exemplar of the fidelity, the courage, and the true 
gentleness, which are worthy of the highest honor. He 
spent a long life in the arduous duties of a frontier offi- 
cer, commanding escorts through the wilderness, sta- 
tioned at the different posts in the Northwest in turn, 
and for more than fifty years associated with the Illinois 
country, which became the home of his family. Born in 
Canada, and entering the French army as a boy, he grew 
gray in the service, and when surrendered to the foeman 
he had so long opposed, by the unworthy King, who made 
no provision for the men who had stood so steadfastly for 
him, he was more faithful to France than Louis XV had 
been. For his removal to St. Louis, and acceptance of a 
Spanish commission, were in the interest and for the pro- 
tection of his misled countrymen, who had settled at that 
place solely that they might still be French subjects. 
There he remained, the patriarch of the infant settle- 
ment, beloved and honored by all, until his death, at the 
age of seventy-six, in the year of the commencement of 
our revolution. And all who knew him, friends and foes, 
countrymen and foreigners, white men and red, alike 
bear testimony to the uprightness, the steady fortitude, 
the unshrinking courage, the kindliness and nobility of 
Louis St. Ange de Belle Rive, the last French Command- 
ant of the Illinois. 


In December of the year of the surrender, Major 
Farmer, with a strong detachment of the 34th British 
Foot, arrived at the fort from Mobile and took command. 
The following year he was relieved by Colonel Edward 
Cole, a native of Rhode Island, an officer in the Old 
French War, who commanded a regiment under General 
Wolfe at the siege of Quebec, and was at the capture of 
Havana by the Earl of Albemarle. In letters written 
from the fort in 1766 to 1768, to his old comrade and 
partner in business, Col. Henry Van Schaick, he says: 
"This country is far from answering my expectations in 
any other point than the soil. I have enjoyed but a small 
share of health since I arrived. I have been much 
deceived in the description of this country, and am deter- 
mined to quit it as soon as I can. No comfort. Indians 
eternally about me." During his term of office Captain 
Philip Pittman, a British engineer officer, the same who 
had unsuccessfully endeavored to reach the Illinois dur- 
ing Pontiac's rule, visited the fort in pursuance of his 
orders to examine the British posts in the Mississippi 
Valley. In his report he says: "The walls of Fort Char- 
tres are two feet two inches thick, and the entrance is 
through a very handsome gate." He describes the works 
and buildings very fully, and concludes as follows: ''It 
is generally believed that this is the most convenient and 
best built fort in North America." In 1768 Colonel Cole 
was followed by a Colonel Reed, who became so noto- 
rious for his oppression of the people, that he was speedily 
relieved by John Wilkins, Lieutenant-Colonel of the 18th 
or Royal Irish, the former commander of Fort Niagara, 
who reached the Illinois with seven companies of his reg- 
iment from Philadelphia, by way of Pittsburg, in 
September, 1768. From the correspondence of Ensign 


George Butricke, an officer in this expedition, we learn 
that, on their way down the Ohio, they killed so many 
buffalo that they commonly served out one a day to each 
company, and they were forty-three days on the way from 
Pittsburg to Kaskaskia. Speaking of Fort Chartres as 
"built of stone, with bastions at each angle, and very 
good barracks of stone, " he describes the land around it as 
the finest in the known world, and gives his opinion to the 
effect that "it is a shocking unhealthy country. " Colo- 
nel Wilkins, under a proclamation from General Gage, 
established a court of law, with seven judges, to sit at 
Fort Chartres, and administer the law of England, the 
first court of common-law jurisdiction west of the Alleghen- 
ies. The old French court of the royal jurisdiction of the 
Illinois, with its single judge, governed by the civil law, 
had ceased with the surrender. Its records for many 
years were preserved at Kaskaskia, where the late Judge 
Breese saw and made extracts from them. When the 
county-seat was removed, less care was taken of them, 
and within a few years past these documents, so interest- 
ing and valuable to the antiquarian and the historian, 
have been used by veritable Illinois Vandals to light the 
fires in a country courthouse, and but a solitary fragment 
now remains. In Wilkins' time, that famous warrior, 
Pontiac, was basely slain at Cahokia, by an Illinois 
Indian. St. Ange, then commanding at St. Louis, honor- 
ing the noble red man, whom he had known long and 
well, brought the body to his fort and gave it solemn bur- 
ial. The friends of Pontiac, avenging his death, pursued 
one fragment of the Illinois tribe to the walls of Fort 
Chartres, and slew many there, the British refusing them 
admission. At Prairie du Rocher, about this period, is 
recorded the marriage of a French soldier, of the garrison 


of St. Louis, with the written permission of M. de St. 
Ange,his commander, to an Englishwoman from Salisbury, 
in Wiltshire, which the good priest writes, "Solbary, in 
the province of Wuilser. " It is significant of the differ- 
ent races and the varying sovereignties in that portion of 
our country, that a French soldier, from the Spanish city 
of St. Louis, should be married to an Englishwoman by a 
French priest, in the British colony of Illinois. 

The occupation of Fort Chartres, however, by the sol- 
diers of any nation, was drawing to a close. For seven 
years only the British ruled there, though, doubtless, 
believing it to be their permanent headquarters for the 
whole Northwest. But the Mississippi had ever been a 
French river, and could not bide the presence of the rival 
nation on its banks. Its waters murmured the names of 
Marquette and Jolliet, of La Salle and Tonty, and their 
memories would not suffer it to rest contented with suc- 
cessors of another race. So it rose in its might and 
assailed the fort, and on a stormy night in springtime its 
resistless flood tore away a bastion, and a part of the 
river wall. The British in all haste fled across the sub- 
merged meadows, taking refuge on the hills above Kas- 
kaskia; and from the year 1772 Fort Chartres was never 
occupied again. 

The capricious Mississippi, as if satisfied with this rec- 
ognition of its power, now devoted itself to the reparation 
of the damage it had wrought. The channel between the 
fort and the island in front of it, once forty feet deep, 
began to fill up, and, ultimately, the main shore and the 
island were united, leaving the fort a mile or more 
inland. A thick growth of trees speedily concealed it 
from the view of those passing upon the river, and the 
high road from Cahokia to Kaskaskia, which at first ran 


between the fort and the river, was soon after located at 
the foot of the bluffs, three miles to the eastward. These 
changes, which left the fort completely isolated and hid- 
den, together with the accounts of the British evacuation, 
gave rise to the reports of its total destruction by the 
river. Parkman, alluding to it as it was in 1764, says: 
"The encroaching Mississippi was destined before many 
years to engulf curtain and bastion in its ravenous 
abyss." A work relating to the history of the Northwest, 
published only last year, informs us that "the spot on 
which Fort Chartres stood became the channel of the 
river," and even some who have lived for years in its 
neighborhood will tell you that it is entirely swept away. 
But this is entirely erroneous ; the ruins still remain ; and 
had man treated it as kindly as the elements the old fort 
would be nearly perfect to-day. 

After the British departed, an occasional band of 
Indians found shelter for a little time in the lonely build- 
ings, but otherwise the solitude which claimed for its 
own the once busy fortress remained unbroken for many 
a year to come. Congress, in 1788, reserved to our gov- 
ernment a tract of land one mile square, on the Missis- 
sippi, extending as far above as below Fort Chartres, 
including the said fort, the buildings, and improvements 
adjoining the same. It would have been well to provide 
for the preservation of this monument of the romantic 
era of our history, but, of course, nothing of the sort was 
done. The enactment simply prevented any settlement 
upon the reservation, and left the fort to become more 
and more a part of the wilderness, and its structures a 
prey to the spoiler. Now and then an adventurous trav- 
eler found his way thither. Quaint old Governor Rey- 
nolds, who saw it in 1802, says: "It is an object of 


antiquarian curiosity. The trees, undergrowth, and 
brush are mixed and interwoven with the old walls. It 
presented the most striking contrast between a savage 
wilderness, filled with wild beasts and reptiles, and the 
remains of one of the largest and strongest fortifications 
on the continent. Large trees were growing in the 
houses which once contained the elegant and accom- 
plished French officers and soldiers." And then, with a 
hazy idea of rivaling the prophecy of the lion and the 
lamb, he adds: "Cannon, snakes and bats were sleeping 
together in peace in and around this fort." Major Stod- 
dard, of the United States Engineers, who took possession 
of upper Louisiana for our government under the treaty of 
cession in 1804, visited Fort Chartres and thus describes 
it: "Its figure is quadrilateral with four bastions, the 
whole of limestone, well cemented. The walls are still 
entire. A spacious square of barracks and a capacious 
magazine are in good preservation. The enclosure is 
covered with trees from seven to twelve inches in diameter. 
In fine this work exhibits a splendid ruin. The inhabi- 
tants have taken away great quantities of material to 
adorn their own buildings." Brackenridge, United States 
Judge for the District of Louisiana, in a work published 
in 181 7, has this passage: "Fort de Chartres is a noble 
ruin, and is visited by strangers as a great curiosity. I 
was one of a party of ladies and gentlemen who ascended 
in a barge from Ste. Genevieve, nine miles below. The 
outward wall, barracks and magazine are still standing. 
There are a number of cannon lying half buried in the 
earth with their trunnions broken off. In visiting the 
various parts we started a flock of wild turkeys, which 
had concealed themselves in this hiding place. I 
remarked a kind of enclosure near, which, according to 


tradition, was fitted up by the officers as a kind of arbor 
where they could sit and converse in the heat of the 
day." In 1820 Beck, the publisher of a Gazetteer of Illi- 
nois and Missouri, made a careful survey of the remains 
of the fort. He speaks of it then as a splendid ruin, "the 
walls in some places perfect, the buildings in ruins, 
except the magazine, and in the hall of one of the houses 
an oak growing, eighteen inches in diameter." Hall, the 
author of a book entitled "Romance of the West," was at 
Fort Chartres in 1829. "Although the spot was familiar 
to my companion," he says, "it was with some difficulty 
that we found the ruins, which are covered with a vigor- 
ous growth of forest trees and a dense undergrowth of 
bushes and vines. Even the crumbling pile itself is thus 
overgrown, the tall trees rearing their stems from piles 
of stone, and the vines creeping over the tottering walls. 
The buildings were all razed to the ground, but the lines 
of the foundations could be easily traced. A large 
vaulted powder-magazine remained in good preservation. 
The exterior wall was thrown down in some places, but 
in others retained something like its original height and 
form. And it was curious to see in the gloom of a wild 
forest these remnants of the architecture of a past age." 
The Fort Chartres' Reservation was opened to entry in 
1849, no provision being made concerning what remained 
of the fort. The land was taken up by settlers, the area 
of the works cleared of trees, and a cabin built within it, 
and the process of demolition hastened by the increasing 
number of those who resorted there for building mate- 
rial. Governor Reynolds came again in 1854, and found 
"Fort Chartres a pile of moldering ruins, and the walls 
torn away almost even with the surface." 

To one visiting the site but a year ago, the excursion 


afforded as strong a contrast between the past and the 
present as may readily be found. Leaving the railway 
at the nearest point to the ruins, the brisk new town of 
Red Bud, twenty miles distant, the greater part of the 
drive over the prairie and through the forest which inter- 
vene is as monotonous as a ride anywhere in Illinois may 
properly be. But when you reach the bluff, far overlook- 
ing the lordly Mississippi, and its lowlands to the Missouri 
hills beyond, and wind down the road cut deeply into its 
face to the little village of Prairie du Rocher, lying at its 
foot, a change comes over the scene. The wide and 
shaded village streets with the French names above the 
little stores, the houses built as in Canada, with dormer- 
windows and piazzas facing to the south, the mill bearing 
the name the Jesuits gave the site, the foreign accent 
and appearance of the people, the very atmosphere, so 
full of rest and quiet, to which hurry is unknown, all 
combine to make one feel as if in another time and 
another land than ours. It is as though a little piece of 
old France had been transplanted to the Mississippi, a 
century since, and forgotten ; or as if a stratum of the 
early French settlements at the Illinois, a hundred years 
ago or more, had sunk down below the reach of time and 
change, with its ways and customs and people intact, and 
still pursued its former life unmindful of the busy nine- 
teenth century on the uplands above its head. It was not 
surprising to be told that at the house of the village priest 
some ancient relics were to be seen, and that some 
ancient documents had once been there. In such a place 
such things should always be. But it was a surprise when 
shown into a room adorned with portraits of Pius IX and 
Leo XIII, and expecting to see a venerable man with 
black robes, and, perhaps, the tonsure, to be suddenly 


greeted by a joyous youth, in German student costume, 
with a mighty meerschaum in his hand, who introduced 
himself as the priest in charge of the parish of St. Joseph 
of Prairie du Rocher. Arrived but six months before 
from the old country, he had been stationed here because 
of his knowledge of French, which is spoken by nearly 
all of the 250 families in the parish, including a number 
of colored people, the descendants of the slaves of early 
settlers. He led the way to his sanctum, where he dis- 
played, with pride, three chalices and a monstrance, or 
receptacle for the wafer, very old and of quaint work- 
manship, made of solid silver, and a tabernacle of inlaid 
wood, all supposed to have belonged to the church of Ste. 
Anne of Fort Chartres. He had also a solid silver table- 
castor, marked 1680, the property of his parish, the 
history of which is unknown. At an inquiry for old 
manuscripts, he produced, from a lumber-room, a bundle 
of discolored papers, fast going to decay, which he had 
found in the house when he took possession, but of which 
he knew little. Almost the first inspection revealed a 
marriage register of the church of Ste. Anne, with the 
autographs of Makarty and De Villiers, and a subsequent 
examination showed that these papers comprised a large 
part of the registers of that parish, as well as the early 
records of St. Joseph of Prairie du Rocher. 

Such an experience was a fitting prelude to the sight of 
the old fort itself, though this was, indeed, difficult to 
find. In the early day all roads in the Illinois country led 
to Fort Chartres. Highways thither are the most prom- 
inent feature of the old village plats and ancient maps of 
the region. Now, not even a path leads to it The sim- 
ple French people along the way could not believe that 
any one could really wish to visit the old fort, and with 


kindly earnestness insisted that the intended destination 
must be the river landing, which takes its name from the 
fort, but is some miles away from it. By dint of repeated 
inquiries a course was found which led to the goal after 
a five-mile drive from Prairie du Rocher. The ruins 
were approached by a farm-road across a beautiful level 
field, green with winter wheat, and the first sight of the 
low bank, which marks the position of the walls, and of 
the old magazine standing bravely up against the forest 
background, was a sufficient reward for the journey. 
Entering the enclosure through a rude farm-gate, which 
stands just in the place of its lofty predecessor of carved 
stone, the line of the walls and the corner bastions can be 
readily traced by the mounds of earth covered with scat- 
tered fragments of stone, beneath which, doubtless, the 
heavy foundations remain, except at the corner swept 
away by the river. On two sides the outline of the ditch 
can be seen, and the cellars of the commandant's and 
intendant's houses, and of the barracks, are plainly visible, 
half filled with debris, under which, perhaps, the old can- 
non of Louis XIV are still lying. Time has settled the 
question of title to them, and they belong neither to 
France nor Britain now. One angle of the main wall 
remains, and is utilized as the substructure of a stable. 
Two rude houses, occupied by farm tenants, are within 
the enclosure, which has been cleared of trees, save a 
few tall ones near the magazine and alongside the ditch. 
In front, the ground is open and under cultivation, and, 
looking from the old gateway, you have before you the 
prospect which must often have pleased the eyes of the 
officers of France and Britain, gazing from the cut-stone 
platform above the arch ; the little knoll in front where 
Boisbriant's land grant to himself commenced, the level 


plateau dotted with clumps of forest trees, the gleam of 
the little lake in the lowland, and beyond, the beautiful 
buttresses of rock, rounded and shaped as if by the hand 
of man, supporting the upland which bounds the view. 
Of the vanished village of Ste. Anne, scarcely a vestige 
remains, save a few garden-plants growing wild on the 
plain. Occasionally a well belonging to one of its houses 
is found, but there is no sign of the church, where "sales 
were made in a high and audible voice, while the people 
went in and out in great numbers." The site of St. 
Philippe is covered by a farm, but to this day a part of its 
long line of fields is known as "the King's Highway," 
though there is no road there, and it is supposed that this 
was the route along which Renault brought the supplies 
from his grant to the river for transfer to his mines. 

Yet, though so much has gone of the ancient surround- 
ings and of the fort itself, it was an exceeding pleasure 
to find the old magazine, still almost complete, and bear- 
ing itself as sturdily as if conscious that it alone is left of 
all the vast domain of France in America, and resolute to 
preserve its memory for the ages to come. It stands 
within the area of the southeastern bastion, solidly built 
of stone, its walls four feet in thickness, sloping upward 
to perhaps twelve feet from the ground, and rounded at 
the top. It is partially covered with vines and moss, 
and one might travel far and wide in our land to find an 
object so picturesque and so venerable. But for the loss 
of its iron doors, and the cut stone about the doorway, it 
is well nigh as perfect as the day it was built. Within, a 
few steps lead to the solid stone floor, some feet below 
the surface, and the interior, nearly thirty feet square, is 
entirely uninjured. You may note the arched stone roof, 
the careful construction of the heavy walls, and the few 


small apertures for light and air, curiously protected 
against injury from without. Here one may invoke the 
shades of Makarty, and De Villiers, and St. Ange, and 
easily bring back the past. For, as it is to-day, it has 
seen them all, as they went to and fro before it, or exam- 
ined its store of shot and shell ; it has heard the word of 
command as the grenadiers drilled on the parade ground 
hard by; it has watched the tawny chieftains and their 
followers trooping in single file through the adjacent 
gateway ; and past its moss-grown walls the bridal pro- 
cessions of Madeleine Loisel and Elizabeth Montchar- 
veaux, and the other fair ladies from the fort, have gone 
to the little church of Ste. Anne. And gazing at it in 
such a mood, until all about was peopled with "the airy 
shapes of long ago," and one beheld again the gallant 
company which laid the foundations of this fortress with 
such high hope and purpose, the hurrying scouts passing 
through its portals with tidings of Indian foray or Span- 
ish march, the valiant leaders setting forth from its walls 
on distant expeditions against savage or civilized foe, the 
colonists flocking to its storehouse or council chamber, 
the dusky warriors thronging its enclosure with Chicago 
or Pontiac at their head, the gathering there of those 
who founded a great city, the happy village at its gates, 
and the scenes of its momentous surrender, which sealed 
the loss of an empire to France ; it seemed not unreason- 
able to wish that the State of Illinois might, while yet 
there is time, take measures to permanently preserve, 
for the sake of the memories, the romance, and the 
history interwoven in its fabric, what still remains of Old 
Fort Chartres. 


II. Col. John Todd's Record-Book 

The early records of "The Illinois," as the region 
including our State was formerly called, unfortunately 
have not been preserved. Those of its civil and judicial 
administration, during the sixty years of its organized 
government as a royal province, and the subsequent 
period of its existence as a county of Virginia, would be 
of exceeding value to him who shall properly write the 
history of Illinois. A large collection of such papers 
remained at Kaskaskia, once the capital, successively, of 
Province, Territory, and State, until the day came when 
the ancient village was obliged to yield even the honor of 
being a county-seat to the neighboring city of Chester. 
To the latter place, several boxes filled with these papers 
were then removed, and stood for years in the hall of its 
courthouse, until, by neglect or wanton misuse, their con- 
tents were lost or destroyed. One, however, of these 
mementoes of the past, and not the least in worth among 
them, was recently found in an office of this courthouse, 
in a receptacle for fuel, just in time to save it from the 
fiery fate of many of its companions, and is now in 
the custody of the Chicago Historical Society. This is 
the original Record or Minute-Book of Col. John Todd, 
the first civil governor of the Illinois country. 

When George Rogers Clark had captured the British 
posts beyond the Ohio, under the authority of Virginia, 
that State was quick to act for the preservation of the 
rights thus acquired. Kaskaskia was taken on the 4th of 
July, 1778; the first surrender of Vincennes, or St. Vin- 
cent, as it was sometimes called, occurred soon after; and 
in October, of the same year, the General Assembly of 
Virginia passed "An Act for establishing the County of 


Illinois, and for the more effectual protection and defence 
thereof. ' ' The young Commonwealth, only in the third 
year of its own independent existence, and then, with the 
other revolted colonies, engaged in a death struggle with 
the Mother Country, did not shrink from the duty of pro- 
viding a suitable government for the immense territory 
thus added to its domain. The act recites the successful 
expedition of the Virginia militiamen in the country 
adjacent to the Mississippi, and that good faith and safety 
require that the citizens thereof, who have acknowledged 
the Commonwealth, shall be supported and protected, and 
that some temporary form of government, adapted to 
their circumstances, shall be established. It provides that 
all the citizens of Virginia, settled on the western side of 
the Ohio, shall be included in a distinct county, to be 
called Illinois County. The vast area, afterwards ceded 
to the United States under the name of the Northwest 
Territory, and now divided into five States, then com- 
posed a single county of Virginia. Of this county the 
Governor of the State was authorized to appoint a county- 
lieutenant, or commandant, who could appoint and com- 
mission deputy - commandants, militia officers, and 
commissaries. The religion and ciistoms of the inhab- 
itants were to be respected, and all civil officers were to 
be chosen by a majority of the inhabitants of the respec- 
tive districts. The County-Lieutenant had power to 
pardon all offenders, except for murder or treason. The 
Governor was authorized to levy five hundred men to 
garrison and protect the county, and keep up communi- 
cations with Virginia, and with the Spanish settlements, 
and to take measures to supply goods to the inhabitants 
and friendly Indians. Such was the first Bill of Rights 
of Illinois. 


The Governor of the State of Virginia, upon whom 
devolved the duty of selecting the commandant of the 
country of Illinois, was the first who ever held that office, 
the immortal patriot, Patrick Henry; and the man whom 
he chose for this difficult and responsible position was 
John Todd. He was not unknown on the frontier or at 
the capital. Born in Pennsylvania, and educated in Vir- 
ginia, he had practiced law in the latter colony for sev- 
eral years, when, in 1775, he removed to the Kentucky 
country. He was one of those who met at Boonesboro', 
in the spring of that year, under the great elm tree, near 
the fort, to establish the proprietary government of the 
so-called colony of Transylvania, comprising more than 
half of the modern State of Kentucky, and he was very 
prominent in the counsels of its House of Delegates or 
Representatives, the first legislative body organized west 
of the Alleghenies. He preempted large tracts of land 
near the present city of Lexington, and is said to have 
been one of the band of pioneers, who, while encamped 
on its site, heard of the opening battle of the Revolution 
in the far East, and named their infant settlement in its 
honor. When the agents of the Kentucky settlers had 
obtained a gift of powder from Vh'ginia for the defence 
of the frontier, in the following year, and had brought it 
down the Ohio to the Three Islands, Todd led a small 
party through the forests to transport it to one of the 
forts, but was beaten back, after a bloody contest with 
the Indians. Early in 1777, the first court in Kentucky 
opened its sessions at Harrisburg, and he was one of the 
justices. Shortly after he was chosen one of the repre- 
sentatives of Kentucky in the legislature of Virginia, and 
went to the capital to fulfill this duty. The following 
year he accompanied George Rogers Clark in his expe- 


dition to the Illinois, and was the first man to enter Fort 
Gage, at Kaskaskia, when it was taken from the British, 
and was present at the final capture of Vincennes. 

Meanwhile the act, above mentioned, had been passed, 
and the Governor had no difficulty in deciding whom to 
appoint County-Lieutenant of Illinois. At Williamsburg, 
then the capital of the Old Dominion, in the former man- 
sion of the royal rulers of the whilom colony, Patrick 
Henry, on the 12th of December, 1778, indited his letter 
of appointment to John Todd, Esq., and entered it in the 
very book now before us. It occupies the first five pages, 
and probably is in Patrick Henry's handwriting. At all 
events his own signature is subscribed thereto. This 
letter is not such a one as territorial governors would be 
likely to receive in these later days. It deals with higher 
things than those which occupy the modern politician. 
The opening paragraph informs John Todd, Esq., that 
by virtue of the Act of the General Assembly, which 
establishes the County of Illinois, he is appointed Coun- 
ty-Lieutenant, or Commandant, there, and refers him to 
the law for the general tenor of his conduct. It contin- 
ues as follows: "The grand objects which are disclosed to 
the view of your countrymen will prove beneficial, or 
otherwise, according to the value and abilities of those 
who are called to direct the affairs of that remote coun- 
try. The present crisis, rendered favorable by the good 
disposition of the French and Indians, may be improved 
to great purposes, but if, unhappily, it should be lost, a 
return of the same attachments to us may never happen. 
Considering, therefore, that early prejudices are so hard 
to wear out, you will take care to cultivate and conciliate 
the affections of the French and Indians." . . . "Although 
great reliance is placed on your prudence in managing 


the people you are to reside among, )^et considering you 
as unacquainted in some degree with their genius, usages, 
and manners, as well as the geography of the country, I 
recommend it to you to consult and advise with the 
most intelligent and upright persons who may fall in 
your way. ' ' 

His relations to the military, under Colonel Clark, are 
next considered ; the necessity of cooperation with and 
aid to them, in defence against, or attack upon, hostile 
British and Indians, summing up with the general direc- 
tion, to consider himself "at the head of the civil depart- 
ment, and as such, having the command of the militia 
who are not to be under the command of the military, 
imtil ordered out by the civil authority, and to act in 
conjunction with them." He is advised "on all occasions 
to inculcate on the people the value of liberty, and the 
difference between the state of free citizens of this Com- 
monwealth, and that of slavery, to which the Illinois was 
destined, and that they are to have a free and equal rep- 
resentation, and an improved jurisprudence." His care 
must be to remove "the grievances that obstruct the 
happiness, increase, and prosperity of that country, and 
his constant attention to see that the inhabitants have 
justice administered. " He is to discountenance and pun- 
ish every attempt to violate the property of the Indians, 
particularly in their land. To the Spanish commandant, 
near Kaskaskia, he is to tender friendship and services, 
and cultivate the strictest connection with him and his 
people, and a letter to him, from Governor Henry, Todd 
is to deliver in person. And he is warned that the mat- 
ters given him in charge "are singular in their nature 
and weighty in their consequences to the people imme- 
diately concerned, and to the whole State. They require 


the fullest exertion of ability and unwearied diligence." 
Then with that high sense of justice and humanity which 
distinguished the man, Henry turns from State affairs to 
right the wrongs of the helpless wife and children of his 
country's enemy. The family of Mr. Rocheblave, the 
late British commandant at Kaskaskia, had been left 
among the hostile people there, while the husband and 
father was a prisoner in Virginia, and their possessions 
had been confiscated. Todd is informed "that they must 
not suffer for want of that property of which they had 
been bereft by our troops; it is to be restored to them, 
if possible ; if this can not be done, the public must sup- 
port them." And the letter concludes with a direction to 
send an express once in three months, bringing a general 
account of affairs, and with the mention of a contem- 
plated plan for the appointment of an agent to supply the 
Illinois with goods on public account. 

Conciliation of the newly - enfranchised inhabitants, 
selection of competent advisers, defence against foreign 
and native enemies, subordination of the military to the 
civil arm of the government, establishment of Republican 
institutions, administration of equal justice to all, an alli- 
ance with friendly neighbors, encouragement of trade, 
and the exertion by the commandant of unwearied abil- 
ity, diligence, and zeal, in behalf of his people; such are 
the principal heads of this able and, for its time, extraor- 
dinary state paper. It shows us that the man who had 
taken the grave responsibility of the secret instructions 
which led to the capture of the Illinois country, was com- 
petent to direct the next step in its career. He could 
wisely govern what had been bravely won. With all the 
cares of a new State engaged in a war for its independ- 
ence resting upon his shoulders, proscribed as a traitor 


to the Mother Country, and writing almost within sound 
of the guns of the British fleet upon the James, he looked 
with calm vision into the future, and laid well the foun- 
dations of another Commonwealth beyond the Ohio. 

This book, made precious by his pen, was entrusted to 
a faithful messenger, who carried it from tidewater across 
the mountains to Fort Pitt, thence down the Ohio, until 
he met with his destined recipient, and delivered to him 
his credentials. It is supposed that Todd received it at 
Vincennes, then known to Virginians as St. Vincent, not 
long after the surrender of that place, on February 24, 
1779, an d thereupon returned to the Kentucky country to 
make some necessary preparations for his new duties, 
and possibly to enlist some of the soldiers authorized to 
be raised by the act under which he was appointed. At 
all events, he did not reach the Illinois country until the 
spring of 1779, as we learn from the journal of Col. 
George Rogers Clark, who says: "The civil department 
in the Illinois had heretofore robbed me of too much of 
my time that ought to be spent in military reflection. I 
was now likely to be relieved by Col. John Todd, 
appointed by Government for that purpose. I was anx- 
ious for his arrival, and happy in his appointment, as the 
greatest intimacy and friendship subsisted between us; 

and on the day of May (1779) had the pleasure of 

seeing him safely landed at Kaskaskias, to the joy of 
every person. I now saw myself happily rid of a piece 
of trouble that I had no delight in." 

So came the new Governor to his post, the bearer of 
Republican institutions to a land and a people but just 
freed from the rule of a foreign king. And with him he 
brought this very book containing in the memorable let- 
ter inscribed in its pages his own credentials, as well as 


the best evidence these new citizens could have that they 
were subjects no longer. This was no ordinary arrival 
at the goodly French village of Kaskaskia. In the eighty 
years of its existence it had seen explorers and mission- 
aries, priests and soldiers, famous travelers and men of 
high degree, come and go, but never before one sent to 
administer the laws of a peoples' government for the ben- 
efit of the governed. We may imagine its inhabitants 
gathered at the river side to watch the slow approach of 
a heavy boat, flying a flag still strange to them, as it toils 
against the current to the end of its long voyage down 
the Ohio and up the Mississippi. And when there lands 
from it one with the mien of authority (having, per- 
chance, this book under his arm), they are ready to ren- 
der him the homage exacted by royal governors, and here 
and there a voice even cries: "Vive le Roi." And, as 
they are reminded that they are under a free government 
now, and learn that the newcomer is their own County- 
Lieutenant, on their way back to the village, we may 
hear Francois and Baptiste say to one another, "Who is 
it that rules over us now?" "What is this free gov- 
ernment of which they speak?" "Is it a good thing, 
think you?" Small blame to them if their wits were 
puzzled. Less than fourteen years before they had been 
loyal liegemen to King Louis of France; then came a 
detachment of kilted Highlanders and presto! they were 
under the sway of King George of Great Britain ; a few 
years passed, and one July morning, a band with long 
beards and rifles looked down from the heights of Fort 
Gage and raised a new banner over them, and now there 
was yet another arrival, which, though seemingly peace- 
ful, might mean more than appeared. Perhaps the very 
last solution of the mystery which occurred to them was 


that thenceforth they were to take part in their own 

Whether Todd regarded his department as such "a 
piece of trouble," as Clark found it, we have no means of 
knowing, but certainly he addressed himself at once to 
his work. Under the clause of the statute which author- 
ized him to appoint and commission deputy-commandants 
and militia officers, he took action, probably as soon as he 
arrived, and recorded it in his book. At page 6 is the 
first entry in Todd's handwriting, which reads as follows: 

"Made out the military commissions for the District of 
Kaskaskia, dated May 14, 1779: 

"Richard Winston, Commandant, as Capt. 

"Nicholas Janis, First Co., Capt. 

"Baptiste Charleville, r Lieut. 

"Charles Charleville, 2 Lieut. 

"Michael Godis, Ensign. 

"Joseph Duplassy, 2d Capt. 

"Nicholas le Chanie, 1 Lieut 

"Charles Danee, 2 Lieut. 

"Batiste Janis, Ensign." 

"17th May, sent a Com. of Command of Prairie du 
Rocher, and Capt. of the Militia to Jean B. Barbeau. 

"The District of Kohokia: 

"Frangois Trotter, Command't. 

"Tourangeau, Capt. 1. 

"Beaulieu, Capt. 2. 

"Guradin, Lieut. 

"P. Marthir, Lieut. 

"Sanfaron, Ensign. 

"Comns. dated 14th May, 1779, 3d year of the Com- 

This was the earliest organization of a militia force 


proper, in this region, and these officers were the first of 
the long line, adorned by many brilliant names, of those 
who have held Illinois commissions. There was signifi- 
cance, too, in the concluding of this entry with the words, 
"Third year of the Commonwealth." It meant that in 
this "remote country," as Patrick Henry called it, men 
felt the change from subjects to freemen then being 
wrought by the -great Revolution, and that they were 
playing a part in it. 

And this is emphasized in the succeeding minute. 

Todd appears to have next put in force the statutory 
provision that all civil officers were to be chosen by a 
majority of the citizens in each district, and on pages 7 
and 8 he records the "List of the Court of Kaskaskia, the 
Court of Kohokias, and the Court of St. Vincennes," 
and adds, "as elected by the people.'" As elected by the 
people, and not as appointed by a king — as chosen by the 
citizens of each district, and not by the whim of some 
royal minister, thousands of miles away, across the sea. 
This was indeed a change. For more than half a century 
the settlements at the Illinois had known a court and a 
judge. But the laws, and the administrators thereof, 
had been imported from a distant kingdom, and with the 
framing of the one or the selection of the other, they had 
had nothing whatever to do. And, without doubt, the 
election here recorded was their first exercise of the rights 
of citizens of a republic, and the first exercise of such 
rights within the territory of Illinois. In these lists appear 
a number of names of more or less note in the old time, 
and some of those already recited in the militia appoint- 
ments. Richard Winston, Deputy-Commandant at Kas- 
kaskia, filled also the office of Sheriff of that district, and 
Jean B. Barbeau found no inconsistency between his 


duties as Deputy-Commandant at Prairie du Rocher and 
those of one of the judges of the court of his district. 
Nicholas Janis and Charles Charleville were also liable to 
be called from the Kaskaskia bench to do military duty, 
and at Cahokia, five of the seven judges held officers' 
commissions. This state of things may have been occa- 
sioned by the scarcity of men to take the new positions, 
so that "there were offices enough to go around," and to 
give some public-spirited citizens two apiece. If so, the 
modern office-seeker might well sigh for those good old 
times. An unusual circumstance appears in connection 
with the court of Vincennes. Against the name of one 
Cardinal, elected by the people as a judge, Todd has 
written, "refused to serve." This is believed to be the 
only instance in our annals of a refusal to take an office. 
And it is feared that this unique individual left no 
descendants. No other of the name appears in any sub- 
sequent record of the territory, so far as known. It is 
possible that we ought to share the glory of this rara avis 
with the citizens of Indiana, since Vincennes is within 
the limits of that State. But, as he was at the time of 
this unexampled refusal a citizen of Illinois, we should 
strenuously claim him as one whose like will ne'er be 
seen again. After the list of the court of Vincennes, 
Todd notes his militia appointments at that place, the 
Chief-Justice P. Legras being also appointed Lieutenant- 
Colonel, and the first Associate-Justice, Major. Opposite 
two of the names is written, "rank not settled," as if 
already that jealousy, which is the bane of the profession 
of arms, had sprung up. And a number of blanks are 
left, apparently to await the determination of that con- 
troversy, which seem never to have been filled. 

Having organized the military and judicial depart- 


ments of his government, the new commandant appears 
next to have given his attention to the encouragement of 
business. On page 1 1 of this book appears a License for 
Trade, permitting "Richard M'Carthy, Gentleman, to 
traffick and merchandise, with all the liege subjects and 
Friends of the United States of America, of what nation 
soever they be, and to erect Factories and Stores at any 
convenient place or places he shall think proper within 
the Commonwealth. ' ' A careful proviso is made that 
"by virtue hereof no pretence shall be made to trespass 
upon the effects or property of individuals' ' ; and the 
license is given under the hand and seal of John Todd, 
at Kaskaskia, the 5th June, 1779, i n the 3d year of the 

The financial question was the next to claim the atten- 
tion of the busy County-Lieutenant, and he grappled 
with it sturdily. It was now the fourth year of the Rev- 
olutionary War, and the peculiar disadvantages of the 
continental currency, which had been severely felt at the 
East, began to be appreciated at the West as well. But 
John Todd did not hesitate to confront this evil, and, at 
any rate, devised a plan for its correction. Within a 
month of his arrival at Kaskaskia, on the nth of June, 
1779, ne addressed a letter to the court of Kaskaskia, 
which appears on page 12 of his Record-Book. He 
informs it that "the only method America has to support 
the present just war is by her credit, which credit con- 
sists of her bills emitted from the different treasuries by 
which she engages to pay the bearer, at a certain time, 
gold and silver in exchange ; that there is no friend to 
American Independence, who has any judgment, but 
soon expects to see it equal to gold and silver, but that 
merely from its uncommon quantity, and in proportion to 


it, arises the complaint of its want of credit. And one 
only remedy remains within his power, which is to receive, 
on behalf of government, such sums as the people shall be 
induced to lend upon a sure fund, and thereby decrease the 
quantity. ' ' He states that the mode of doing this is already 
planned, and requests the concurrence and assistance of 
the judges. His zeal for the cause led him slightly astray 
when he predicted that these bills would soon be equal to 
gold and silver, since, in the following year, continental 
money was worth just two cents on the dollar, and never 
became more valuable. But in other respects his scheme 
was not so erroneous. He did not indulge in the delusion 
that all troubles could be removed by an unlimited issue 
of paper money. On the contrary, he favored the retire- 
ment of a portion of that in circulation, and a kind of 
redemption of the public promises to pay. On page 14 
is set forth at length, "Plan for borrowing 33,333^ dol- 
lars of Treasury notes, both belonging to this State and 
the United States." The preamble recites that owing to 
no other reason than the prodigious quantity of treasury 
notes now in circulation the value of almost every com- 
modity has risen to most enormous prices, the preserving 
the credit of the said bills by reducing the quantity, requires 
some immediate remedy. And it is therefore declared 
that 21,000 acres of land, belonging to the Common- 
wealth, shall be laid off on the bank of the Mississippi in 
the district of Cahokia, 1,000 acres to be reserved for a 
town, and the remainder to constitute a fund; and that 
the lender of money shall take a certificate for the sum, 
entitling him to demand, within two years, a title to his 
proportion of the land in said fund, or the sum originally 
advanced in gold and silver, with 5 per cent interest per 
annum. It is prudently provided that the State shall 


have the option of giving land or money, and to further 
protect a paternal government against any undue advan- 
tage being taken of it by its sons, notice is given that a 
deduction shall be made for all money hereafter discov- 
ered to be counterfeited. Then follow the commence- 
ment of a French translation of the plan, a copy of the 
instructions to the Commissioner for borrowing money 
upon this fund, which direct him to keep every man's 
money by itself, and the form of receipt to be issued. 
Henry H. Crutcher appears to have been appointed such 
Commissioner, and his bond, with George Slaughter 
and John Roberts as sureties to Mr. John Todd, Com- 
mander-in-Chief of the County of Illinois, in the penalty 
of $33,333)4 for the safe keeping of the money, is next 
recorded under date of June 14, 1779. 

On the same date this energetic "Commander-in- 
Chief" addresses himself to the subject of the land under 
his jurisdiction, and the title thereto. He issues a proc- 
lamation strictly enjoining all persons from making any 
new settlements on the flat lands within one league of the 
Rivers Mississippi, Ohio, Illinois, and Wabash, except in 
the manner and form of settlements as heretofore made 
by the French inhabitants; and every inhabitant is 
required to lay before the persons appointed in each dis- 
trict for that purpose a memorandum of his or her land 
with their vouchers for the same. Warning is given that 
the number of adventurers who will soon run over this 
country, renders the above method necessary, as well 
to ascertain the vacant land as to guard against tres- 
passes which will be committed on land not of record. 
The object of this step evidently was not to discourage 
actual settlers; but to prevent the taking up of large 
tracts of land by speculators ; and it shows both wisdom 


and foresight on the part of the head of the government. 
The graver duties associated with that position were 
quickly to devolve upon John Todd, and on page 18 of 
his Record- Book is inscribed an entry, which reads very 
strangely at the present day. It is verbatim as follows : 

"Illinois to wit: To Richard Winston, Esq., Sheriff in 
chief of the District of Kaskaskia. 

"Negro Manuel, a Slave, in your custody, is con- 
demned by the Court of Kaskaskia, after having made 
honorable Fine at the Door of the Church, to be chained 
to a post at the Water Side, and there to be burnt alive 
and his ashes scattered, as appears to me by Record. 
This Sentence you are hereby required to put in execu- 
tion on tuesday next at 9 o'clock in the morning, and this 
shall be your warrant. Given under my hand and seal 
at Kaskaskia the 13th day of June in the third year of the 
Commonwealth. " 

This is a grim record, and reveals a dark chapter in the 
early history of Illinois. It is not surprising that some 
one has drawn heavy lines across it as if to efface it for- 
ever. It is startling to reflect that barely one hundred 
years ago, within the territory now composing our State, 
a court of law deliberately sentenced a human being to 
be burned alive! It is possible that the attempted can- 
cellation of the entry may mean that the warrant was 
revoked. And so let us hope for the sake of humanity. 
No other evidence, so far as known, of this peculiar case 
exists. But it is palpable that this inhuman penalty was 
actually fixed by the court, and as the statute deprived 
the commandant of the power to pardon in such cases, it 
is more probable that the sentence was actually executed. 
The cruel form of death, the color of the unfortunate vic- 
tim, and the scattering of the ashes, all seem to indicate 


that this was one of the instances of the imagined crime 
of Voudouism or negro witchcraft, for which it is known 
that some persons suffered in the Illinois country about 
this time. Reynolds, in his Pioneer History, says: "In 
Cahokia about the year 1790, this superstition got the 
upper hand of reason, and several poor African slaves 
were immolated at the shrine of ignorance for this imag- 
inary offense. An African negro, called Moreau, was 
hung for this crime on a tree not far southeast of Caho- 
kia. It is stated that he had said he poisoned his master, 
but his mistress was too strong for his necromancy. ' ' 
There is no doubt that this is a correct statement of the 
facts, although the date of their occurrence is errone- 
ously given. For on the next page of this Record- Book 
appears Todd's order for the detail of a guard for this 
very negro Moreau to the place of execution, dated June 
x 5> 1 779, which of course goes to show the probability of 
the infliction of the penalty above mentioned in the case 
of the negro, Manuel. This order in regard to Moreau 
is as follows : 

"To Capt. Nicholas Janis. 

"You are hereby required to call upon a party of your 

militia to guard Moreau, a slave condemned to execution, 

up to the town of Kohos. Put them under an officer. 

They shall be entitled pay rashtions and refreshment 

during the Time they shall be upon Duty to be certifyed 

hereafter by you. "I am sir your hble servant, 

"Jno. Todd. 

"15th June, 1779. 
"I recommend 4 or 5 from your 

Compy and as many from Capt. Placey and 

consult Mr. Lacroix about the time necessary. 


Nicholas Janis was, as we have seen, Captain of the 
first Company of Militia at Kaskaskia, and the Captain 
Placey mentioned is, undoubtedly, Joseph Duplessis, Cap- 
tain of the Second Company at the same place. Kohos. 
was the familiar abbreviation of Cahokia, and the Mr. La 
Croix, who was to be consulted, must have been J. B. La 
Croix, first sheriff of the Cahokia district, by whom, no 
doubt, the execution of Moreau was conducted. These 
two entries, therefore, confirm Reynold's account of this 
matter, the accuracy of which has sometimes been ques- 
tioned, and give to old Cahokia the sad distinction of 
having been a western Salem. 

The different subjects thus far included in this interest- 
ing Record-Book, were all dealt with by Todd between 
May 14 and June 15, 1779. He certainly was not idle, 
nor did he lack for important business during the first 
month of his administration. His duties appear then to 
have called him away from Kaskaskia, probably to Vin- 
cennes, to make the appointments there already noticed. 
And as he was about to leave, he addressed a letter to 
his deputy-commandant, Richard Winston, which is suffi- 
ciently interesting to be quoted entire. 

"Sir: During my absence the command will devolve 
upon you as commander of Kaskaskia. — If Colo. Clark 
should want anything more for his expedition, consult the 
members of the court upon the best mode of proceeding, 
if the people will not spare wilingly, if in their power, 
you must press it, valuing the property by Two men upon 
Oath. — let the military have no pretext for forcing prop- 
erty — When you order it and the people will not find it, 
then it will be Time for them to Interfere. — by all means 
Keep up a Good Understanding with Colo. Clark and the 


Officers. — if this is not the Case you will be unhappy. I 
am sir "Yr Hble Servt John Todd 

"June 15, 1779" 

The expedition of Colonel Clark, referred to in this let- 
ter, is supposed to have been that planned against the 
British at Detroit, which he and Governor Henry were 
very anxious to undertake. They were ultimately pre- 
vented by lack of means. Todd's determination to keep 
the military in subordination to the civil power is very 
plain, but at the same time his doubt of his success, and 
his appreciation of Clark's peculiarities, are curiously 
shown by the concluding- paragraph of this letter. When 
he tells Richard Winston by all means to keep up a good 
understanding with Colonel Clark, and that, if this is not 
the case, he will be unhappy, he evidently is speaking of 
that of which he knows by personal experience. 

Upon his return to Kaskaskia, July 27, 1779, the reso- 
lutions of Congress concerning the issues of the conti- 
nental money, dated May 20, 1777, and April 11, 1778, 
engaged his attention. And he put forth a short proc- 
lamation in French and English, both copies being duly 
transcribed in his Record at pages 19 and 20, notifying 
persons having money of those issues that unless they 
shall as soon as possible pay the same into some conti- 
nental treasury, the money must sink on their hands, 
and that the vouchers must be certified by himself or 
some deputy-commandant of this county, and have refer- 
ence to the bundle of money numbered and sealed. 
Whether this congressional plan superseded that of 
Todd's own devising, we do not know, but at all events 
we hear nothing further of his land fund. 

It would appear that during his brief absence, the 


newly-appointed court at Kaskaskia had not transacted 
business with the diligence and celerity required by John 
Todd. The judges were all elected from among the 
French settlers, and we may assume that their easy-going 
ways did not find favor with the busy man from beyond 
the Ohio. They seem to have adjourned court to what 
appeared to him to be too long a day, and his consequent 
action savors somewhat of a direct interference of the 
executive with the judiciary, but, doubtless, was effective. 
On page 21 we read the following document: 

"To Gabriel Cerre &c. Esqrs. Judges of the Court for 
the District of Kaskaskia : 

"You are hereby authorized and required to hold and 
constitute a court on Satterday, the 21st of July at the 
usual place of holding court within yr District, any 
adjournment to the contrary notwithstanding. Provided 
that no suitor or party be compeled to answear any pro- 
cess upon said Day unless properly summoned by the 
Clark and Sheriff. Given under my hand and seal at 
Kaskaskia. "John Todd." 

He was tender of the rights of parties, but proposed 
that the judges should attend to their work. Doubtless, 
Gabriel and his associates grumbled not a little at this 
interference with their comfort, and insisted, the one to 
the other, that they had not accepted the judicial office 
upon any such understanding. Pleasure first and busi- 
ness afterwards, had always been the rule at Kaskaskia, 
and to compel a man to hold court when he preferred to 
smoke his pipe in the sun, or go fishing, was an unpre- 
cedented hardship. But all the same, we may be very 
sure that they did "hold and constitute a court on Satter- 


day the 21st of July, any adjournment to the contrary 
notwithstanding. " 

Mindful of Governor Henry's advice to cultivate a con- 
nection with the Spanish commandant, near Kaskaskia, 
Commandant Todd sends a letter, in French, on August 
9, 1779, to Monsieur Cartabonne, commanding at Ste. Gen- 
evieve, and a letter to the same effect to Monsieur Leyba, 
at St. Louis. In these letters he proposes an arrange- 
ment concerning the commerce of the Illinois country, 
for the mutual advantage of their respective govern- 
ments, His Catholic Majesty on the one hand, and the 
State of Virginia on the other, and for the disadvantage 
of their common enemy, the British. He informs the 
Spaniards that Colonel Clark has not yet departed from 
Post Vincennes, and further states that, if they are 
attacked by any enemies, and he can be of service to 
them, he is ordered by the Governor of Virginia to give 
aid to them. 

The slow-moving French settlers seem to have been in 
other ways a trial, and probably were dilatory in provid- 
ing supplies for the troops, which were soon expected 
from Virginia. And on August nth Todd enters, on 
page 22 of his book, a brief address, in which the inhab- 
itants of Kaskaskia are, for the last time, invited to con- 
tract with the persons appointed for provision, especially 
"Flower," for the troops who will shortly arrive. He 
says, "I hope they will use properly the Indulgence of a 
mild Government. If I shall be obliged to give the mili- 
tary permission to press It will be a disadvantage, and 
what ought more to influence Freemen, it will be a dis- 
honor to the people." It is evident that Baptiste, 
Francois, and the rest, while willing enough to be "Free- 
men, ' ' on their money still preferred a king. And the 


supplies which they would have readily furnished in 
exchange for coins stamped with the head of George III 
or Louis XV, were not forthcoming when continental 
currency was offered in return, despite all of Todd's 
efforts in that behalf. It is said that the early French 
inhabitants were so puzzled by the machinery of free 
government that they longed for the return of the 
despotic authority of their military commandants. If so, 
there must have been a familiar sound about this brief 
address which might have made them think their good 
old times had come again. After this he copies an 
order upon the Governor of Virginia, in favor of J. B. 
La Croix, the Sheriff of Cahokia in payment of supplies 
furnished, probably one of the few, if not the only one, 
who paid any attention to the address. 

The Commandant found it necessary to resort to more 
stringent measures. And on August 2 2d he issued 
another proclamation laying an embargo upon the 
exportation of any provisions- whatsoever, by land or 
water, for sixty days, unless he has assurances before 
that time that a sufficient stock is laid up for the troops, 
or sufficient security is given to the contractors for its 
delivery when required. And the offender is to be sub- 
jected to imprisonment for one month and to forfeit the 
value of such exported provision. This he records in Eng- 
lish and in French, apparently having special reference to 
those of the latter race. And seemingly becoming weary 
of the delay of the people as to the surrender of the con- 
tinental money, he gives notice, in both languages, that 
after August 23, 1779, no more certificates will be granted 
at Kaskaskia to persons producing the called-in emis- 
sions. It does not appear whether this delay was due to 
the fact that the prudent French settlers really had no 


continental money on hand, or to their wish to get some 
return for what little they did own, and they were unable 
to see any such outcome from a deposit in a continental 

October 7, 1779, he makes a note of an order given to 
Patrick M'Crosky on the Gov't for 140 Dollars being No. 
2 issued "by a certificate from Mr. Helm." This Mr. 
Helm was one of Clark's trusty lieutenants, and was, 
probably, then commanding the fort at Vincennes. 

A short and simple method of forfeiting realty to the 
State is illustrated in the proceedings set forth on pages 
25 and 26. On the 4th of October, 1779, a notification 
was given at the door of the church of Kaskaskia, that 
the half-a-lot above the church, joining Picard on the 
east, and Langlois on the west, unless some persons should 
appear and support their claim to the said lot within 
three days, would be condemned to the use of the Com- 
monwealth. On the 13th day of October, 1779, accord- 
ingly, John Todd, under his hand and seal, at Kaskaskia, 
proclaimed that after publicly calling any person or per- 
sons to show any claim they might have to said lot, and 
no one appearing to claim the same as against the Com- 
monwealth of Virginia, he declares and adjudges the said 
lot to belong to the said Commonwealth, and that all 
persons, whatsoever, be thenceforth debarred and pre- 
cluded forever from any claim thereto. 

The heading of the following entry in this book is, 
"Copy of a Grant to Colonel Montgomery," but the 
remainder of that page, and one or two more, have been 
deliberately torn out. The explanation of this mutilation 
may be found in a report made in 18 10 by the Commis- 
sioners appointed by Congress to examine the claims of 
persons claiming lands in the district of Kaskaskia, from 


which it appears that many of the ancient evidences of 
title had been deliberately destroyed in the interest of 
speculators claiming under forged deeds or perjured tes- 
timony. Some one, interested in opposition to this grant, 
may have had access to this book years after the entry, 
when the land had become valuable, and attempted to 
defeat the title in this way. The Colonel Montgomery 
named in it was probably the Captain Montgomery who 
came to the Illinois with Clark, and rendered good serv- 
ice on that expedition. He is described as a jovial Irish- 
man, whom Clark fell in with at the Falls of the Ohio, on 
his way down the river, and who readily joined in the 
perilous adventure, from pure love of fighting. He 
commanded the garrison of Fort Gage, at Kaskaskia, 
after its surrender by the British. 

This is the last entry in the book in Todd's hand- 

We know that he continued to hold his position as 
Commandant and County-Lieutenant at the Illinios for 
some three years more, devoting most of his time to its 
affairs. And in that period he made the difficult and 
often dangerous journey between his distant post and the 
Kentucky settlements, or Virginia, two or more times 
in every year. In 1779 Virginia ordered two regiments 
to be raised for service in its western counties, and it is 
supposed that Todd was appointed Colonel of one of 
them. In the spring of 1780 he was elected a delegate 
from the county of Kentucky to the Legislature of Vir- 
ginia, and was married while attending its session of that 
year. In the fall he returned to Kentucky, and, having 
established his bride in the fort at Lexington, resumed 
his journey to Illinois. It is worthy of remark that the 
foundation of Transylvania University, the first institu- 


tion of learning west of the mountains, is attributed to 
the State aid obtained from the Virginia Legislature by 
his exertions in its behalf. In November, 1780, the 
county of Kentucky was divided into the three counties 
of Fayette, Lincoln, and Jefferson, and in the summer of 
1 781, Governor Thomas Jefferson appointed Todd, Col- 
onel of Fayette County; Daniel Boone, Lieutenant- 
Colonel, and Thomas Marshall (father of Chief-Justice 
Marshall), Surveyor. In December, 1781, Todd secured 
a town lot at Lexington, and in May, 1782, he was made 
one of the trustees of Lexington by Act of Virginia. In 
the summer of that year he visited Richmond, on the 
business of the Illinois country, where it is said he had 
concluded to permanently reside, and stopped at Lexing- 
ton on his return. While here an Indian attack upon a 
frontier station summoned the militia to arms, and he, 
as senior Colonel, took command of the little force of 180 
men who went in pursuit of the retreating savages. It 
included Daniel Boone and many other pioneers of note, 
sixty of their number being commissioned officers. At 
the Blue Licks, on the 18th of August, 1782, the enemy 
was overtaken, and the headlong courage of those who 
would not observe the prudent counsels of Todd and 
Boone, precipitated an action which was very disastrous 
to the whites. One-third of those who went into battle 
were killed, a number wounded, and several made pris- 
oners. And among the heroes who laid down their lives 
that day was Colonel John Todd. He was shot through 
the body while gallantly fighting at the head of his men, 
and, says an eye-witness, "When last seen he was reeling 
in his saddle, while the blood gushed in profusion from 
his wounds." 

A few other minutes were made in this book in Colonel 


Todd's lifetime, which are not in his handwriting. On 
two pages, near the end, is kept his "Peltry Account" 
which is charged with his drafts on the Virginia Govern- 
ment, in favor of Monsieur Beauregarde, to the amount 
of $30,000, dated at St. Louis, September 14, 1779, the 
value thereof having, apparently, been received, one- 
third in paper currency and two-thirds in peltries. The 
account is credited with payments made for supplies for 
the garrison at Kaskaskia, purchased by Col. John Mont- 
gomery, and for the garrison at Cahokia, purchased by 
Captain M'Carthy, probably that Richard M'Carthy, 
gentleman, to whom a "License for Trade" was granted, 
as we have seen. The principal item in these supplies 
seems to have been a beverage called "Taffia, " which 
was laid in by the hogshead. On page 28 is an oath of 
allegiance taken by one James Moore, at Kaskaskia, to 
the United States of America, on July 10, 1782, while the 
States were still under the articles of confederation, 
showing the form then used. He renounces all fidelity 
to King George the Third, King of Great Britain, his 
heirs and successors, and agrees to make known to some 
one Justice of the Peace for the United States all treason- 
ous and all traitorous conspiracies which may come to his 
knowledge to be formed against said United States, or 
any one of them. 

During Todd's later absences from his government, a 
French gentleman named Demunbrunt appears to have 
been his deputy and acting Commandant in his place. 
And it is curious to notice on the inside of one of the 
covers of this book a little penmanship, which may indi- 
cate that this individual was rather proud of his tem- 
porary dignity. It reads, "Nota bene, Nous Thimothe 
Demunbrunt Lt. Comdt Par interim &c &c"; and it 


seems as if Thimothe could not resist the temptation to 
see how his name and title would look, and so wrote it 
out in a fine, bold hand for all men to see for a hundred 
years to come. On the last page are two memoranda, 
apparently in the same bold hand, which, in pencil 
underneath, are said to be by Thimothe Demunbrunt Lt. 
Comdt par interim, and, doubtless, this is correct. They 
read: "February 1782, Arived a small tribe of the 
Wabash Indians Imploring the paternal succor of their 
Father the Boston ians, having their patent from Major 
Linctot, in consequence I did on Behalf of the Common- 
wealth give them Six Bushell Indian Corn, Fifty Pounds 
of Bread, four Pounds of Gun Powder, Ten Pounds of 
Ball and One Gallon of Taffia, from Carbonneaux. " 
And, "March 2 2d, Came here Deputys from the Dela- 
wars, Shawanoes and Cherokee nations of Indians Beg- 
ging that the Americans wold grant them Pease, as 
likewise the French and Spanish, and after hearing their 
Talk, Smoaking the pipe of peace and friendship with 
them, and from their conduct while here as well as many 
marks they gave us of their Sincerity I could not avoid 
giving them on Behalf of the Americans the Following 
articles, vizt. 

"10 Bushells Indian Corn, 100 lb. Flour and 100 lb. 
Bisquit, 6 lb. Tobaco, one Gallon Tafia, 5 qts wampum 
and Canoe which cost me 20 Dollars." 

The use of the word "Bostonians" by the Wabash 
Indians, to indicate the whites, is interesting, and may, 
perhaps, show that this tribe contained or was made up 
of fragments of tribes of New England Indians, who 
would naturally use this phrase. The evidence furnished 
by these memoranda of the weakness and destitution of 
once powerful Indian nations is very striking, although 


their real condition may have been slightly exaggerated, 
in order to obtain larger supplies of Tafia. Probably they 
fared better at the hands of the simple Frenchman, from 
the good-will of his race to the red man, than if Colonel 
Todd had been at the helm. 

But, it may be asked, what had become of Richard 
Winston, who was Deputy-Commandant in the early part 
of Todd's administration, and how he came to be super- 
seded bjr this soft-hearted Thimothe? 

We should have been utterly unable to answer these 
questions but for a paragraph written upon the inside of 
the front cover of this book, which is as follows: 

"Kaskaskias in the Illinois 29th April 1782. This day 
10 o'clock A. M. I was taken out of my house by J. Neal 
Dodge on an order given by J no. Dodge in despite of the 
Civil authority disregarding the laws, and on the mali- 
tious alugation of Jno. Williams and Michel Pevante as 
may appear by their deposition. 1 was confined by 
tyrannick military force without making any legal aplica- 
tion to the Civil Magistrates — 30th The Attorney for the 
State, La Buinieux, presented a petition to the court 
against Richard Winston, State Prisoner in their custody 
the contents of which he (the Attorney for the State) 
ought to have communicated to me or my attorney, if any 
I had." It will be remembered that when Todd first 
went away from Kaskaskia, leaving Winston in com- 
mand, he advised him, by letter, by all means to keep up 
a good understanding with Colonel Clark and the officers, 
telling him if this was not the case he would be unhappy. 
We can only conclude that the unlucky Winston had at 
this time neglected this injunction, as his trouble seems 
to have been with the military, and in consequence was 
very unhappy. At all events, he had fallen into disgrace, 


of course had lost his office, and was imprisoned, doubt- 
less in the old French commandant's house, which 
served as the headquarters of the successive governments 
of the Illinois country, even down to the organization of 
our State when it became the first State House. Here 
shut up, perhaps in the Governor's room, he found this 
Record- Book, and wrote his sorrowful tale within it. 
And so it preserves to us, a century after, poor Richard 
Winston's protest against "tyrannick military force." 

The remaining pages of this book are occupied with a 
brief record in the French language of the proceedings 
of the court of Kaskaskia, from June 5, 1787, to Feb- 
ruary 15, 1788. During this period it seems to be pretty 
much in the hands of one family, as three of the five 
justices are named Beauvais. Antoine Beauvais is the 
presiding justice, and Vital Beauvais, and St. Gemme 
Beauvais, are two of his four associates. For a long 
time they apparently do nothing but meet one month and 
adjourn to the next, as if determined in this way to 
regain the dignity of which the court was deprived by 
Colonel Todd's peremptory order to their predecessors to 
hold a session, despite their order of adjournment. On 
October 25, 1787, they settle down to business, at what 
they call an extraordinary session, to try a case between 
our good friend Demunbrunt, and one Francis Carbo- 
neaux. It will be remembered that Thimothe bought the 
"Taffia" he gave to the Indians from Carboneaux, and per- 
haps he had forgotten to pay for it. The details, and 
the result of the cause, are not given. The court pursues 
the even tenor of its way with commendable regularity, 
meeting once a month, in the morning, and immediately 
adjourning to the next month, but holding an extraor- 
dinary session whenever it has a case to try (and it had 


two, all told), until January 15, 1788. At this date, it, 
for the first time, seemingly, has to deal with the subject of 
jurymen, and solemnly determines that each juror from 
Prairie du Rocher shall have twenty - five francs, and 
thereupon adjourns. It meets in the afternoon and 
impanels a jury to try a cause in which John Edgar is plain- 
tiff, and Thomas Green, defendant, and with a few similar 
minutes its record ceases, and this book comes to an end. 
Its own story is curious enough to entitle it to preser- 
vation, if only for its age and the vicissitudes through 
which it has passed. Made in Virginia more than one 
hundred years ago, brought the long journey thence to 
Illinois, at that day exceeding in risk and time a modern 
trip around the world, in use here in the infancy of the 
Republic, then cast aside and forgotten for almost a cen- 
tury, and lately rescued by the merest chance from 
destruction, it has now, by the formal vote of the Board 
of Commissioners of Randolph County, Illinois, the lineal 
successors of our first County- Lieutenant, been placed, 
we hope permanently, in the custody of the Chicago His- 
torical Society. And when we consider that its opening 
pages were inscribed by the first Governor of the State of 
Virginia, who was one of the foremost men of the Revo- 
lution, that it is mainly filled with the handiwork of the 
first County-Lieutenant of the great Northwest Territory, 
that it contains the record of one of the first courts of 
common law in Illinois, and above all, that it is a sum- 
mary of the beginning of Republican institutions here, 
and, in fact, the record of the origin of our State, this 
common-looking book, with its coarse paper and few 
pages of faded handwriting, becomes an unique histor- 
ical memorial, worthy to be treasured by the people of 
Illinois with reverent care for all time to come. 


And with it too should be treasured the memory of that 
brave and able man, John Todd, a pioneer of progress, 
education, and liberty, and the real founder of this Com- 
monwealth, who served his countrymen long and well, and 
died a noble death, fighting for their homes and firesides 
against a savage enemy, and giving his life, as he had 
given the best of his years and strength, for the cause of 
civilization and free government in the western world. 


The region which is now Illinois has its own associa- 
tions with the American Revolution, although so remote 
from the scene of the outbreak and of many of the events 
of that great contest. In 1763 the French King, in con- 
sequence of the victory of Wolfe over Montcalm on the 
plains of Abraham at Quebec, ceded it to Great Britain. 
An interregnum of two years occurred before its new 
master could reduce it to possession. It was the western 
most of the lands to which George the Third claimed title 
under the French cession, and his representatives made 
repeated attempts to occupy it. But these were foiled by 
the power and address of that sovereign of the wilder- 
ness, the red King Pontiac,who really ruled Illinois from 
1763 to 1765. But Pontiac ultimately yielded to the 
inevitable, and gloomily instructed his dusky hordes to 
leave the waterways to the west unobstructed. 

Thereupon a detachment of soldiers under young Cap- 
tain Stirling, who was afterwards to win distinction as a 
general at Waterloo, came from Pittsburg by the Ohio 
and the Mississippi to old Fort Chartres. Here, on Octo- 
ber 2, 1765, as the Highlanders presented arms and the 
British and French commandants exchanged the formal 
courtesies of the occasion, the white banner of the Bour- 
bons was lowered never to float in Illinois again, and the 
meteor flag of England streamed in its stead. And thus 
Illinois, then inhabited only by Frenchmen and by Indians 
friendly to the French, became a colony of Great Britain 
less than ten years before the beginning of the Revolution. 



Of the population of the new colony at the time it was 
thus occupied, various estimates have been made. After 
the cession many of the French inhabitants crossed the 
Mississippi and settled at what is now St. Louis, believ- 
ing that to be still French territory. Their surprise and 
grief were great when they learned some time later that 
the French King had, by a secret treaty made at the time 
of the cession to England, transferred New Orleans and 
the whole country west of the Mississippi to Spain. This 
checked the emigration, for Spain was almost as hateful 
to Frenchmen as England. In a number of cases houses 
had been floated across the river, and two of the five 
flourishing French villages in Illinois, Ste. Anne of Fort 
Chartres and Prairie du Pont, were almost entirely depop- 
ulated, and have since died out. The other three, Kas- 
kaskia, Prairie du Rocher and Cahokia, still exist, and 
preserve many quaint French and Canadian ways and 
customs, but none of them in as prosperous a condition 
as formerly. At all events, when Illinois came under the 
English dominion, exclusive of the roaming Indians, its 
population did not exceed two thousand whites and one 
thousand negroes, the latter all held in slavery. Eng- 
lish traders soon found their way there, and among the 
few records we have of that period are the account 
books of a post trader at Kaskaskia, which were found at 
Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a few years ago, and throw 
curious side lights upon the history of Illinois just before 
the Revolution. 

The causes from which the Revolution resulted were 
at work on the seaboard, and, strange to say, produced 
an effect even among the handful of people in this wild 
region, so remote and so difficult of access. It was an 
exceeding surprise to the English officials in Canada and 


the Northwest to find that 'the Frenchmen in Illinois, so 
recently relieved from the yoke of an absolute despotism, 
took as naturally to the new ideas of liberty as if they had 
been of English birth. These pioneers, living on the far- 
off frontier (for Illinois was then emphatically the Eng- 
lish frontier in North America, all west of it belonging to 
another nation), practically said to the authorities of Eng- 
land: "We have become Englishmen and we want the 
rights of Englishmen." At such demands the head of 
the British Colonial Office became irate, and said that he 
never had heard of such barefaced presumption in his 
life, that it could not be tolerated and that it must be put 
down and punished. But these sturdy Illinoisans were 
not one whit afraid. Every movement along the Atlantic 
for colonial rights and then for independence met a ready 
response and sympathy in this part of the interior. And 
the celerity and accuracy with which such news reached 
them is really marvelous. Fearless men, taking their 
lives in their hands, toiled over the Alleghenies, and 
paddled along the great rivers, by danger haunted pass 
and shore to bear the news to Illinois of the repeal of the 
Stamp Act and the successive steps of colonial independ- 
ence, and hearty rejoicings went up from our prairies 
when these messengers of freedom arrived. 

In 17 7 1 the people of Illinois assembled in a general 
meeting at Kaskaskia and sent a demand to the English 
government for institutions like those of Connecticut, 
and the right to appoint their own governor and all civil 
magistrates. This shows a remarkable acquaintance with 
the affairs of the eastern colonies, for Connecticut alone 
among those of New England had preserved her ancient 
charter and it was the freest of them all. This demand 
was forwarded through General Gage, then in command 


at Boston. In transmitting it to the home authorities he 
wrote: "A regular constitutional government for the 
people of Illinois cannot be suggested. They don't 
deserve so much attention. " "I agree with you, ' ' 
rejoined Lord Hillsborough, then at the head of the Brit- 
ish Colonial Office, "a regular government for that dis- 
trict would be highly improper. ' ' His successor, Lord 
Dartmouth, took the same view, and described the ideas 
of the inhabitants of the Illinois district with regard to 
a civil constitution as very extravagant, and rejected 
their proposition to take some part in the election of their 
own rulers as absurd and inadmissible. He therefore 
prepared and forwarded to Illinois what he called, "A 
Sketch of Government for Illinois. ' ' It was very sim- 
ple. It provided, in a few paragraphs, that all powers 
should be vested in officers appointed by the Crown, and 
none left in the people. Upon receipt of this precious 
document a storm of wrath arose in the prairie land. 
The people of Illinois again assembled at Kaskaskia, and 
under the lead of Daniel Blouin, a liberty-loving Canadian 
of French descent, forwarded by him as their agent, to 
Lord Dartmouth, their indignant protest against the pro- 
posed "Sketch of Government," which they rejected, to 
use their own language, "as oppressive and absurd, much 
worse than that of any of the French or even of the 
Spanish colonies. " And they boldly added, "Should a 
government so evidently tyrannical be established, it 
could be of no long duration. There would exist the 
necessity of its being abolished." There is something 
very fine about this action on the part of this little band 
of men of foreign birth transferred against their will to 
the British Crown, but determined to have all the rights 
which that transfer gave them. Though not born free, 


in the sense that Englishmen were, they at least resolved 
to die free. So spoke the men of Illinois, and so they 
bore themselves in the days just preceding the Revolu- 
tion. Great honor is due to them and to their leader, 
Daniel Blouin, a "village Hampden," whose name 
deserves to be rescued from oblivion. No wonder that 
some of George Third's friends doubted the power of 
England to conquer the old colonies, when the new 
ones spoke the tongue of liberty as if it were their birth- 

It is probable that attempts would have been made by 
the government to bridle the unruly colonists of Illinois 
but for the more urgent needs for troops elsewhere. At 
the commencement of the Revolutionary War the British 
regular garrisons were withdrawn from the Illinois posts 
to Canada and were enrolled in the forces operating from 
that country against the colonies. Their places were sup- 
plied by the local militia under the command of British 
officials appointed by the Governor-General of Canada. 
Very soon expeditions began to be planned in Illinois 
against the English forts to the eastward, regardless of 
these officials who were striving to maintain the author- 
ity of the Mother Country in the rude, palisaded forts at 
Kaskaskia and Cahokia, within the present limits of the 
State of Illinois. The most important of these expedi- 
tions were directed against Fort St. Joseph, which stood 
on the River St. Joseph within the present limits of Mich- 
igan, and but a mile or so from the city of Niles in that 
State. It was garrisoned by a small English force, and 
was considered a very important post, being located on 
the great east and west Indian trail, not far from the port- 
age to the headwaters of the Kankakee River, the most 
important tributary of the Illinois. 


In October, 1777, a jovial Irishman named Tom Brady, 
and a French half-breed named Hamelin, residing at 
Cahokia, in the Illinois country, organized a party of six- 
teen volunteers. They crossed the prairies to Fort St. 
Joseph, surprised it at night, and defeated and paroled 
the garrison of twenty-one regulars. They captured a 
quantity of merchandise, burned what they could not 
carry away, and also fired the buildings and palisades of 
the little stockade. Returning flushed with victory, they 
were overtaken at the Calumet River, not far from the 
present South Chicago, by the foes whom they had just 
overcome and their Indian allies. The Illinois party, in 
their turn, were surprised and routed, and twelve were 
taken prisoners, including the redoubtable Brady. He 
was sent to Canada, escaped, found his way to Pennsyl- 
vania, and thence by the Ohio River to the Illinois terri- 
tory, where he afterward became sheriff of St. Clair 
County. His career illustrates the indomitable character 
of the Illinois office seeker. Warfare, imprisonment, exile, 
hardships, all were unavailing to prevent Tom Brady 
from returning to his bailiwick and securing an office. 

The failure of Brady's undertaking, and the death of 
some of his comrades and the capture of others, aroused 
a desire for revenge among the men of Illinois. In the 
summer of 1778 one Paulette Meillet, a Canadian French- 
man residing near the site of Peoria, of which he was the 
founder, resolved to undertake the task of obtaining sat- 
isfaction. He led a force of three hundred French and 
Indians from his place of residence, probably by the Illi- 
nois and Kankakee Rivers, to St. Joseph. Rumors of his 
coming had caused the garrison to take some steps 
towards putting the fort in a state of defence, but these 
were of little effect. The impetuous mob of Meillet's 


force carried the palisades, though mounted with small 
cannon, and the English troops surrendered at discretion. 
They were paroled and sent to Canada, the goods col- 
lected by the Indian traders were seized, and again the 
torch was applied. The victorious Illinois soldiers 
returned at their leisure, and no enemy dared to follow 
their trail. 

Fort St. Joseph was destined to figure again in Rev- 
olutionary annals and this time in connection with events 
of greater importance. In January, 1781, Don Francesco 
Cruvat, the Spanish commandant at Saint Louis, acting 
undoubtedly under orders from his home government, 
sent a force to capture this post. It crossed the prairies 
of Illinois in the dead of winter, captured the fort with- 
out difficulty, and took formal possession of it and of all 
the region watered by the Illinois River and its tribu- 
taries, in the name of the King of Spain. 

I have departed from the chronological order of Revo- 
lutionary incidents associated with Illinois in order to 
present those relating to Fort St. Joseph in succession. 
After the Spaniards left it was occupied as a trading post, 
and nominally at least came under the jurisdiction of the 
United States. It has had a remarkable history, and one 
hardly realizes that this now quiet spot, within a stone's 
throw of which we pass and repass on the Michigan Cen- 
tral Railway, has been the scene of so many stirring 
events. It is the site of a fort founded by the French, 
ceded to the English, captured by Pontiac, twice taken by 
our troops in the Revolutionary War and again by Spain. 
Besides the banner of the great Republic, the flags of 
three sovereigns have floated over it, and one may well 
say four, if the warrior crest of the red King Pontiac is 
included, as it should be, for he was the kingliest man of 


them all. One may truly say of him as Rufus Choate 
said of King Philip of Pokanoket: "I would not wrong 
his warrior shade by classing him with any of the so- 
called sovereigns who in his time sat upon the thrones of 

Before Meillet's force had set out from Peoria, another 
expedition was on its way down the Ohio, which was, 
perhaps, the first to fly the stars and stripes on western 
waters. James Willing, a young Philadelphian, whose 
brother was a partner of the famous Robert Morris, had 
been engaged in trading at the south when the Revolu- 
tionary War broke out. He came north and formed a 
plan to wrest the Southwest from the British Crown. He 
was commissioned a captain in the Continental navy, 
crossed the Alleghenies to Fort Pitt with a company of 
marines, enlisted others, built an armed vessel and set 
sail from Pittsburg in January, 1778. The news of his 
approach caused positive terror among the English gar- 
risons in the Northwest. He captured traders along the 
Ohio, skirted the entire southern boundary of what is now 
the State of Illinois, and at the junction of the Ohio and 
Mississippi turned southward, to the immense relief of 
the English commandant of the Illinois country. This 
was M. Philippe Rocheblave, a Frenchman in the British 
service, and the last royal governor of the Illinois. It is 
ver3>- interesting to read his letters, now preserved in the 
British Museum, written from Kaskaskia to the Gov- 
ernor-General of Canada. He alternates between hope 
and fear, as different accounts of Willing's progress 
reach him. He confounds him with George Rogers 
Clark, of whose expedition to the Illinois some floating 
rumors had reached him. And when at length he learns 
that Willing's vessel had really gone southward he utters 


a pious ejaculation of thankfulness for his escape from 
the "Long Knives," as the Kentuckians were called. 
But on that very day, and probably soon after the dis- 
patch of the Indian messenger who carried his letter to 
Canada, he found himself in the power of the leader of 
the "Long Knives," George Rogers Clark himself. Wil- 
ling had a series of adventures at the south, and was ulti- 
mately taken prisoner by the British near Mobile, and 
would have been hanged by them but for Washington's 
prompt notification that he would hang a British officer 
if Willing was executed. Some of his men found their 
way northward, and joined George Rogers Clark in Illi- 
nois. Willing remained a captive for years on a British 
prison ship, and was finally exchanged, broken in health 
and spirits, and reached his home, where he died soon 
after. He sleeps with his kindred in the vaults of an old 
church in Philadelphia. 

The great event of the history of Illinois in the Revo- 
lution has been so often told as to need but brief mention 
here. George Rogers Clark's splendid campaign has 
become a household word. This young Virginian, with 
a handful of men, over great obstacles and through great 
privations, captured the British garrisons at Kaskaskia in 
what is now Illinois, and at Vincennes, in what is now 
Indiana. In his wonderful march to the latter place 
across the flooded prairies and the swollen streams of 
southern Illinois, he was accompanied by battalions com- 
posed of the young Frenchmen of Illinois, who quitted 
themselves like men. The whole region now comprised 
in the States of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and 
Wisconsin was made a single county of Virginia, under 
the name of Illinois, and governed by officials appointed 
by the Old Dominion. Clark's campaign and Virginia's 


subsequent occupancy of the country turned the scale in 
our favor at the negotiation of the Treaty of 1783, when 
Spain strove hard to acquire all of this region by virtue 
of her expedition to St, Joseph, and France, our ally, but 
already jealous of the new nation, was quite willing that 
she should have it. George Rogers Clark, by deeds 
mainly occurring on the soil of Illinois, added to our 
country a territory of more than two-thirds of the area of 
the original thirteen colonies. 

Clark's force was not sufficient for him to guard the 
whole of the conquered territory, and hence a large part 
of the Illinois region was still open to raids from the 
enemy. Major De Peyster was the British commandant 
at Mackinac. Under his orders an invading expedition 
was sent in the summer of 1779 to attack the trading post 
of Le Pe, which was situated within the present limits of 
Peoria, Illinois. It had been an important fur-trading sta- 
tion under the French regime, and it was still maintained 
by traders of that race, who were friendly to the Amer- 
icans and rejoiced in Clark's conquest. They had built a 
stockade which De Peyster feared might be of advantage 
to the Virginian troops in case they moved further north- 
ward, and therefore wished to destroy. The commander 
of the expedition was Charles Gautier de Verville, a 
Canadian in the British service, who was employed dur- 
ing the Revolution in recruiting Indian allies for the Brit- 
ish in the Northwest. His soldiers were almost entirely 
Indians from various tribes. He undoubtedly came from 
Mackinac along the west coast of Lake Michigan, and by 
the lonely little Chicago River and the portage to the Des 
Plaines River, and thence down the Illinois. Many 
times this route had been followed by parties of Indians 
and of Frenchmen in the early days of the Northwest, 



but this is the first time it appears in Revolutionary his- 
tory. De Verville's approach was so stealthy and so 
sudden that the startled French traders had no time to 
prepare a defence, and their stockade was taken and 
burned. But fear of retribution from Clark and his 
"Long Knives" led De Verville to beat a hasty retreat, 
and he apparently returned as he came by the site of Chi- 
cago, across which trooped these natives allies of Great 
Britain in their war paint, adorned with the spoils of Le Pe. 
A more formidable expedition menaced the Illinois 
settlements in the following year. Spain had declared 
war against Great Britain, which prepared to attack the 
Spanish posts on the Mississippi, with a fleet and army to 
ascend that river. The British officers in the West were 
directed to cooperate with the expedition to descend the 
river. A motley horde of Indians was assembled at the 
portage between the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers, and went 
down the Mississippi to St. Louis, where they attacked 
the outskirts of the town and slew a dozen or more peo- 
ple, but were soon driven away. One of their bands 
crossed the river and did some mischief at Cahokia in 
Illinois, but was beaten off, and the expedition divided 
itself into various bands and fled northward, some return- 
ing by the Chicago portage. The result might have been 
different had the traders awaited the arrival of Charles 
de Longlade, a famous partisan of Green Bay, who was 
leading a band of Indians by the way of the Chicago and 
Illinois Rivers to join them. But he failed to cooperate, 
and the whole affair amounted to nothing. Old Jean 
Baptiste Pointe au Sable, the negro trader then living 
alone at the Chicago River, saw them come and go, but 
was protected by his British commission, and suffered 
nothing at their hands. 


Another Revolutionary expedition in Illinois in behalf 
of the American cause was destined to an equally useless 
but more mournful conclusion. It is a sad and strange 
tale, and in some respects remains an unsolved mystery 
to students of Illinois history to this day. Early in the 
Revolutionary War a French officer named La Balme 
landed at Boston, apparently intending- to offer his serv- 
ices to the colonial cause. His journal, which has been 
preserved, shows that he was a man of refinement and 
education, and inspired with an ardent love of liberty. 
Why he did not enter the Continental army is not known, 
nor whether he ever obtained any commission or author- 
ity from our government. But shortly after Clark's con- 
quest of the Northwest La Balme appeared in Illinois 
with arms and money, and began recruiting a force to 
attack the British post at Detroit. He visited the French 
villages, and his appearance and earnest words created a 
deep impression. One of Clark's officers who saw him 
there could not learn by what authority he was acting, 
but writes that "the people run after him as if he were 
the very Masiah himself." With companies of young 
men from Kaskaskia and Cahokia he crossed Illinois to 
the old French village of Vincennes, where he enrolled 
other companies. A fragment of a song still exists 
which purports to have been sung by the girls of the vil- 
lage in praise of those young Frenchmen who were going 
to march against the forces of "perfidious Albion," and 
doubtless was a patent aid to La Balme 's recruiting. He 
left Vincennes with a well-equipped little force, ascended 
the Wabash, and attacked an English trading post near 
the present city of Fort Wayne, Indiana, and captured it 
with its stores. Flushed with success and sated with 
plunder, La Balme 's troops kept little guard over their 


night encampment. The enraged traders, summoning 
their Indian friends, fell upon the unsuspecting French- 
men before morning, slew La Balme, utterly routed his 
forces, and recaptured their goods. Some prisoners, 
including La Balme's adjutant, were sent to Canada, and 
in the Canadian archives to-day are preserved La 
Balme's journal and French commissions, but no papers 
which throw any further light upon this affair. Had he 
succeeded in capturing Detroit, La Balme's name might 
have gone down in history with that of George Rogers 
Clark, whose dearest wish after the conquest of Illinois 
was the taking of that place. As it is poor La Balme is 
but a name and nothing more. 

Manuscripts and official documents and traditions pre- 
serve the accounts of other expeditions less important or 
less striking, of forays and skirmishes, of interesting 
transactions, all associated with Illinois in the Revolu- 
tion. But enough has been related to show that her peo- 
ple had a part in the great conflict and performed deeds 
of which their successors upon Illinois soil have a right 
to be proud. 



We do not realize at the present time that the early- 
inhabitants of what is now Illinois had the Spaniard for 
a neighbor. Nor that the territory of ten free and sov- 
ereign States of our Union lying beyond the Mississippi 
was once as hopelessly doomed to civil and ecclesiastical 
tyranny as any province of Old Spain. And His Most 
Catholic Majesty not only owned all the country west of 
what some early voyagers finely call "the Eternal 
River, ' ' x but soon laid claim to the exclusive control of 
its waters, and would not suffer the Mississippi to go 
unvexed to the sea. This is vividly illustrated by a 
single incident occurring in the latter part of the last 
century. Andrew Ellicott, boundary commissioner on 
behalf of the United States of America, after encamping 
at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, 
embarked upon the latter stream, and writes as follows 
in his journal of the voyage : "Left the shore at daylight, 
and proceeded down the river to the station of one of the 
Spanish gallies; the master behaved very politely, but 
informed us that it would be proper to remain at his sta- 
tion till the next morning. (The next morning) we pro- 
ceeded down to New Madrid . . . the commandant 
requested me to continue there two or three days. " " It 
was as if a representative of our government, leaving 
Cairo in Illinois to-day to visit New Orleans, should be 
halted by a foreign armed vessel, taken into custody for 



several days, and only suffered to proceed at the will of a 
petty officer of another nation. Such was the situation 
during the American Revolution, after Spain had been 
induced by France in 1779 to take part in the war against 
Great Britain. She soon made herself mistress of the 
English posts at Baton Rouge, Natchez, and Mobile, and 
on these conquests based a claim to the region east of the 
Mississippi, at least as far as the River Ohio, and at the 
period now in question was preparing to strengthen her 
pretensions and to include in them what we know as the 

The Spanish capital of what was afterwards known as 
Upper Louisiana was the little village of St. Louis, 
founded as a trading post by the French in 1764. The 
Spaniards enclosed it with a stockade and some stone 
fortifications, by reason of the attack made upon the 
place in 1780 by the English and Indians from Michilli- 
mackinac. 3 Its governor in the year of grace 1781 was 
Don Francesco Cruvat, Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel of 
Infantry, Captain in the Regiment of Louisiana, Com- 
mander and Lieutenant-Governor of the western part and 
districts of the Illinois, for His Most Catholic Majesty the 
King of Spain. And in the month of January of that 
year, under Don Francesco's auspices, and from his garri- 
son, went forth the expedition whose fortunes we are to 
follow. It was the second day of the month when the 
dwellers on the few streets near the river bank which 
comprised the village of St. Louis might have been seen 
flocking to the long stone house, constructed by Pierre 
Laclede, the founder of the place, and then the official 
residence of the Spanish lieutenant-governor. 4 They 
came together to witness the departure of a force which 
all perhaps felt to be charged with an important mission, 


though few knew its object. On the wide stone steps 
which led up from the street to the main floor of the 
government house, we may suppose that the Governor 
himself had taken his stand to give his last instructions 
and farewells to the chiefs of the expedition. There was 
Don Eugenio Pourr£, the commander, ranking as Captain 
in the Spanish line, the one man perhaps, besides the 
Governor who knew the real purpose of the undertaking ; 
near him was Don Carlos Tayon, the second in com- 
mand, and a lieutenant in the royal service, perchance 
talking with a very important member of the party, Don 
Luis Chevalier, "a man well versed in the language of 
the Indians." And a little apart, regarding the white 
men with stolid indifference, were two sachems of the 
red race, whose names, as nearly as the Spanish account 
has preserved them, were Eleturno and Naquigen. 5 The 
latter is probably identical with Nakioun, a chief of the 
Ottawa tribe bordering on Lake Michigan, with whom 
George Rogers Clark held negotiations after his capture 
of Kaskaskia. 6 "Great Chiefs," they are called in the 
old chronicle, and great perhaps in some respects they 
were. At all events the journey on which they were 
going and for which they were specially selected required 
a combination of nerve, endurance and skill which 
amounted to greatness. 

In the snow of the village street, in front of the gov- 
ernment building, were drawn up the little band whose 
leaders we have mentioned. There were sixty-five mili- 
tia men, of whom thirty are said to have been Spaniards, 7 
and the remainder probably of French birth or descent, 
but all of them sworn subjects of the Spanish sovereign, 
and fired with zeal to strike a blow against the nation 
now a foe of both France and Spain. Here and there 


among them might have been a grizzled veteran who had 
fought for the King of Spain in other countries, and had 
come to this new land with Reilly, the subjugator of New 
Orleans, or as one of the bodyguard of Don Francesco, 
or one of his predecessors. Lounging near them were 
their allies, a band of sixty Indians, said to have been 
gathered from several tribes, the names of some of which 
have not fared kindly in the contemporary accounts. 
The "Sotus, " for instance, are perhaps the Sioux, or the 
Sauks. It is possible that the "Otaguos" are the Out- 
agamis or Foxes, or they may be the Ottawas. But there 
is something more familiar about the "Putuamis," as the 
Spaniard hath it, and we can hardly go wrong in identi- 
fying them with our old acquaintances the Pottawatta- 
mies, who doubtless, even then, by diligent attention to 
the principal business of their lives, were earning for 
themselves the same regard in which their memory is 
still held in Illinois. But the Governor and the com- 
mander have exchanged their last words and parting 
salutes, the signal is given, and the long line moving in 
Indian file, winds down the bank, and across the frozen 
surface of the mighty river, and disappears in the forests 
of the Illinois shore. 

It was no ordinary journey which lay before them. 
Many marches far more famous have been of less extent 
and with fewer privations. Four hundred miles or more, 
by the route they followed, in the depth of winter, they 
were to toil through the snow and ice, amid forests and 
over prairies, to reach their destination. They were 
heavily laden, "each one with provisions for his own sub- 
sistence, and with various merchandise, ' ' says one account 
of this march, "which was necessary to content in case of 
need the barbarous nations through whom they were 


obliged to cross. ' ' 8 For winter was not the only foe they 
had to meet. More than one savage tribe, owning at 
least a nominal allegiance to England, lay in their path. 
Well was it for them that they had on their staff Don 
Luis Chevalier, the man well versed in the language of 
the Indians, who was as useful to this expedition as ever 
the French savants were to Napoleon's army in Egypt. 
By seasonable negotiations and precautions, by timely 
gifts, and Don Luis' successful diplomacy with the 
ambassadors from the dwellers in the forest and on the 
prairie, the commander, says the report, "prevented con- 
siderable bodies of Indians from opposing this expedi- 
tion, for it would otherwise have been difficult to have 
accomplished the taking of the post. 8 And what and 
where was this post which was the goal of this strange 
and toilsome march? In brief, the party sought to cap- 
ture the English fort of St. Joseph, situated within the 
limits of the present State of Michigan. 

In 1 76 1, after the capitulation of Montreal, a detach- 
ment of the 60th British regiment, then called the Royal 
Americans, relieved the French troops and hoisted the 
English flag at this point. The post was soon to change 
masters again. Hardly two years had passed when the 
storm evoked by the mighty spirit of Pontiac burst all 
unexpectedly upon the young English ensign, Schlosser, 
and his command of fourteen men, who composed the 
garrison of Fort St. Joseph ; and in less than two min- 
utes, as he declares, the fort was plundered, eleven men 
were killed, and the commander and three surviving sol- 
diers were prisoners and on their way to Detroit. 9 This 
affair occurred eighteen years before the march which is 
the subject of this paper ; and among the French traders 
then at the fort was one M. Louison Chevalie, as he is 


named in a letter from an English trader whom he saved 
from being killed. 10 This probably is the same person 
whom the Spaniards call Don Luis Chevalier, the diplo- 
mat of this expedition, and if so his former residence at 
St. Joseph and acquaintance with the Indians there must 
have been of great service. It was a simple process in 
those days which transformed Monsieur Louison into Don 
Luis. The English were again in possession of the fort 
at the era of our story. 

It was the headquarters of the Indian traders for the 
region, and had been harassed before. 11 It was one of 
the points from which Indian bands were sent forth to 
harry the American settlers in the valley of the Ohio. 
The exact site of the fort has been somewhat difficult to 
ascertain. The historians, from Parkman to quaint old 
Governor Reynolds, 12 locate it on the site of La Salle's 
fort at the mouth of the St. Joseph, or at the portage to 
the Kankakee, where South Bend, Indiana, stands. In the 
various accounts it skips back and forth with the celerity 
of a little hill, but Father Charlevoix' narrative of his 
visit to it in 1 721, 13 and the French maps of Danville, 
1746, Vaugondy, 1753, Bellin and Le Rouge, 1755, and 
the English map of E. Bowen, 1763, make it quite cer- 
tain that it was on the south bank of the River St. Joseph, 
about one mile west of the present town of Niles, Michi- 
gan, and nearly on the same site occupied in this century by 
the Carey Mission to the Indians. And it was at this 
time the nearest fortification to St. Louis which flew the 
English flag. 

This was the place which the Government of Spain, 
now vigorously engaged in the war against Great Brit- 
ain, had resolved to capture, and to this end this march 
across what is now the State of Illinois was made. It 


was not undertaken, like the attempts of the Illinoisans, 
Brady and Meillet, 11 at the season when the rivers were 
open, and shore and stream furnished a bountiful supply 
of food. Nor was it against an unsuspicious enemy, but 
one doubly warned, and to all expectation on the alert 
against another attack. Nor could these bold fellows 
take the most direct route to the point of attack, as pre- 
ceding expeditions had done, for no man might face the 
Grand Prairie in winter and expect to survive. For shel- 
ter, and for water and fuel as well, they were compelled 
to follow the courses of the streams and the woods which 
bordered them, and so they journeyed patiently north- 
eastward, pushing forward in the teeth of the wintry 
blasts which grew ever colder and more dreary. By day 
they plodded onward, laden with their heavy burdens, 
having before them only the ice-covered streams on the 
one hand and the straggling forests with glimpses of the 
vast white plains beyond, on the other. Now and then 
some light-hearted Frenchman from his place in the line 
breaks into song, or flings a cheery word to a comrade in 
advance, but for the most part we may imagine them 
silently and steadily marching on. By night around their 
campfires on some wooded point above the stream, the 
song and jest go round, and they exchange reminiscences 
of war and foray. And the Spaniards tell of their glori- 
ous capture of West Florida, but two years before, when 
their able leader, Calvez, compelled the English colonel 
at Baton Rouge to lay down his arms, and surrender that 
post and Natchez, and stormed Mobile and attacked Pen- 
sacola. And the Frenchmen speak of their fathers' deeds 
or their own at Braddock's defeat, or their unavailing 
efforts to save Fort Du Quesne or Niagara. The weather 
was unusually severe, and their supplies but scanty. 


'They suffered," says the account, "in so extensive a 
march, and so rigorous a season, the greatest inconven- 
ience from cold and hunger." (Some years ago, in the 
valley where a large Indian village once stood, a few 
miles west of Danville, in Illinois, three cannon balls of 
European manufacture were found. The place was 
within range of a small piece of artillery planted on the 
hills near by, and it has been conjectured that these 
balls are relics of this expedition. 14 If so, these afford the 
only clew to its exact line of march.) Not a sign or trace 
of civilized habitations greeted the eyes of these bold 
warriors, while they crossed the whole of what is now 
the State of Illinois, from southwest to northeast, and 
journeyed on into what is now Indiana (though they knew 
the whole region as "the Illinois"), and passed the port- 
age from the Kankakee to the St. Joseph, at or near the 
site of the present town of South Bend. The Indian 
allies of the English, who must have met them in this 
part of the journey, were readily persuaded, by presents 
and promises of a share in the plunder of the fort, to 
regard the situation from an impartial point of view. 
They took the question of aiding their English friends 
under advisement, and kept it there until aid was need- 
less. The short march along the St. Joseph River was 
quickly made, as the hardy band rushed onward to the 
fruition of their hopes. The few English traders and 
soldiers within the stockade, relying upon the vigilance 
of their savage spies, were totally unprepared for the 
sudden dash which made them prisoners, and transferred 
Fort St. Joseph to the King of Spain. He was the sixth 
sovereign who had borne sway there, if we include in the 
list La Salle and Pontiac, who in truth were kinglier men 
than any of the others. It must be admitted that prec- 


edents were in favor of this capture. Fort St. Joseph 
had been so uniformly taken and plundered whenever 
any one set out to do it, that capture had become its 
normal state, and seemingly the object of its existence. 
An officer of our army once described our stone forts on 
the sea shore, after the modern improvements in marine 
artillery, as "places to get out of as soon as the enemy 
opens fire." The modest little post of St. Joseph antici- 
pated this description, which was singularly applicable to 
it, by nearly a century. And, before leaving this topic, 
I cannot forbear to mention that in the Michigan Pioneer 
Collections it is stated that the United States early 
in this century determined to build one fort on Lake 
Michigan, and selected a site on the St. Joseph River. 
But the Indians in the vicinity, whose lands had not then 
been ceded to the Government, opposed its erection, and 
the commissioners thereupon went to Chicago and built 
Fort Dearborn in 1804. And, says the Michigan Pioneer, 
"we conclude that had the fort been built at St. Joseph 
there would have been no Chicago. ' ' 15 This matter of a 
fort seems to have been peculiarly disastrous to the St. 
Joseph country. When it had one it constantly invited 
capture, and caused the inhabitants to spend more or less 
of their lives as prisoners of war; and, when it did not 
have one, it thereby lost the opportunity of becoming 
the commercial metropolis of the Northwest. I know of 
no tract of land in all this section which has been so sin- 
gularly unfortunate as the St. Joseph region! But to 
return to our Spaniards. Don Eugenio Pourre took pos- 
session, in the name of his King, of St. Joseph and its 
dependencies, and of the River of the Illinois. He low- 
ered the English flag, and raised in its place the standard 
of His Most Catholic Majesty, which was there displayed 


during the whole time of his stay. His men plundered 
the fort, with system and dispatch, giving the greater part 
of the provisions and goods to their own Indians and to 
those who lived at St. Joseph, "as had been offered 
them," says the Spanish account, "in case they did not 
oppose the troops," and destroying the remainder, with 
the magazine and storehouses. They remained but a few 
days for rest and refreshment, and then commenced their 
homeward route, which was accomplished without inci- 
dent. Don Eugenio took the English flag, and delivered 
it on his arrival at St. Louis to Don Francesco Cruvat, in 
testimony of the successful execution of his orders; and 
with this ceremony the adventurous march concluded. 
We hear nothing more of Don Eugenio Pourre, but it 
appears from the American State Papers relative to Pub- 
lic Lands, that his second in command, Don Charles 
Tayon, who it is stated "had rendered important services 
to the Spanish Government from the year 1770, and was 
second in command at the siege of St. Joseph, which he 
contributed to take," afterwards received a commission 
for his merits, and was commandant of St. Charles of 
Missouri, from the year 1792 to the year 1804, and that 
a tract of land was granted to him in 1800 by Don Charles 
Dehault Delassus, Spanish Governor of Upper Louisiana. 16 
And now, what was the real object of this remarkable 
undertaking? It was not a mere foray for the sake of 
booty, since all that was captured was either destroyed 
or given to the Indians. Revenge for the attack upon 
St. Louis in the preceding year by the Mackinac trap- 
pers and savages, would hardly account for an expedition 
undertaken at such an expense, and at such a time of the 
year, and which, moreover, was not sent against Macki- 
nac. The true answer must be found in the wily schemes 


of the Spanish Court, and if we change the scene to the 
other side of the Atlantic Ocean new light will be thrown 
upon it. Spain had been since June, 1779, at war with 
Britain, and nominally a friend of the colonies. This 
was not by reason of any interest in our cause, for the 
idea of American independence was extremely unwel- 
come to her, but simply for her own purposes. It is now 
quite certain that France agreed to sacrifice to Spain, as 
a condition of her declaration of war, the interests of the 
new republic in the fisheries and in the West. And her 
successes against the English on the lower Mississippi 
enabled her to lay the foundation of a claim which ulti- 
mately grew to portentous dimensions. The heart of 
the Spanish King was set upon the recovery of Gibraltar 
as a result of the war, and all of his conquests he pro- 
posed to surrender at its conclusion, if need be, to obtain 
from Great Britain the key to the Mediterranean. Nat- 
urally his ministers desired to make those successes as 
great as possible. With the aid of France they expected 
either to accomplish the desired exchange with England 
or to greatly enlarge the Spanish empire in America, 
regardless of the claims of the United States. At the 
outset they seemed to content themselves with the region 
known as West Florida. John Jay was our representative 
at Madrid, and on his first arriving there, in March, 1780, 
the Minister of Foreign Affairs practically conceded that 
the Mississippi was our boundary, north of the thirty-first 
parallel, or what is now the southern line of the western 
portion of the State of Mississippi. But a different tone 
soon prevailed, the atmosphere became more and more 
unfriendly to the United States, until it was apparent 
that nothing less than the entire valley of the Mississippi 
would satisfy the ambition of the Spaniards. Their con- 


quests of Baton Rouge and Natchez were made to serve 
as a basis for a title to the whole eastern side of the lower 
Mississippi, as far as the Ohio. They needed something 
more, in order that the}' might include in their demands 
what was afterwards known as the Northwest Territory, 
and that was soon supplied. Jay, writing to our Secre- 
tary for Foreign Affairs, Robert R. Livingston, from 
Madrid under date of April 28, 1782, says: "The Madrid 
Gazette of the 1 2th of March contains a paragraph of 
which you ought not to be ignorant. I shall therefore 
copy it verbatim and add a translation as literal as I can 
make it. ' ' Then follows the account of the capture of St 
Joseph, from which I have already quoted. And Jay 
adds: "When you consider the ostensible object of this 
expedition, the distance of it, the formalities with which 
the place, the country and river were taken possession of 
in the name of His Catholic Majesty, I am persuaded it 
will not be necessary for me to swell this letter with 
remarks that would occur to a reader of far less penetra- 
tion than yourself. " 17 

Let me here call attention, for a moment, to the length 
of time required to transmit the news of this matter to 
Spain. We may suppose that Don Eugenio Pourre pre- 
sented himself at the government house in St. Louis on 
his return from St. Joseph, and made his formal report 
early in March, 1781. The news was then forwarded by 
bateaux, which slowly drifted down the Mississippi, and 
in the course of time brought the dispatches to New 
Orleans. Thence by the next vessel that sailed, these 
were forwarded to the Commandant-General of the Army 
of Operations at the Havana, who was also the Governor 
of Louisiana, and by him they were doubtless sent to 
Spain in the next man-of-war that crossed the ocean. 


From her port, by post horses, the papers went to the 
capital, and finally the account was published in the 
Madrid Gazette of March 12, 1782, a full year after the 
return of the expedition. 

The information reached France about the same time, 
and wise old Benjamin Franklin, our minister to Ver- 
sailles, was quick to see its meaning. He writes to Liv- 
ingston from Passy under date of April 12, 1782: "I see 
by the newspapers that the Spaniards, having taken a 
little post called St. Joseph, pretend to have made a 
conquest of the Illinois country. In what light does this 
proceeding appear to Congress? While they (the Span- 
iards) decline our proffered friendship, are they to be 
suffered to encroach on our bounds, and shut us up 
within the Appalachian Mountains? I begin to fear they 
have some such project." 18 The treatment of the Span- 
iards became exceedingly irksome to Jay, and the objects 
they aimed at were manifest to him. About this time he 
writes to Franklin: "I am pleased with your idea of pay- 
ing whatever we owe to Spain. Their pride, perhaps, 
might forbid them to receive the money. But our pride 
has been so hurt by the littleness of their conduct, that 
I would in that case be for leaving it at the gate of the 
palace, and quit the country. At present such a step 
would not be expedient, though the time will come when 
prudence, instead of restraining, will urge us to hold no 
other language or conduct to this court than that of a 
just, a free, and a brave people, who have nothing to fear 
from nor to request of them. ' ' And to Livingston he 
writes: "France is ready for a peace, but not Spain. The 
King's eyes are fixed on Gibraltar. . . . Spain ought not 
to expect such a price as the Mississippi for acknowledg- 
ing our independence. ' ' 19 Jay could accomplish nothing 


at Madrid, and was soon transferred to Paris, there to 
negotiate with Franklin and Adams the treaty of peace 
with Great Britain. Further negotiation with Spain was 
also transferred to Paris, and was conducted there 
through Count d'Aranda, the Spanish ambassador at the 
Court of France. At their first conference the count 
asked Mr. Jay what our western boundaries were, and 
was informed that the boundary between us and the Span- 
ish dominions was a line drawn from the head of the Mis- 
sissippi down through the middle thereof to the 
thirty-first degree of north latitude. The count replied 
that the western country had never belonged to, or been 
claimed as belonging to, the colonies. That it had once 
belonged to France, had been ceded by her to Britain, of 
whose dominions it remained a distinct part, until by the 
conquest of West Florida and certain posts of the Missis- 
sippi and Illinois (alluding here to the capture of St. 
Joseph) it became vested in Spain. 20 He kindly added 
that he did not mean to dispute about a few acres or 
miles, but wished to run the boundary line in a manner 
that would be convenient to the United States, though he 
never could admit the extent we claimed. Mr. Jay- 
desired him to mark on the map the line he proposed, 
and to place it as far to the west as his instructions would 
possibly admit of, which he promised to do. A few days 
afterward the count sent his map with his proposed line 
marked in red ink. He ran it from a lake near the con- 
fines of Georgia, but east of the Flint River, to the con- 
fluence of the Kanawha with the Ohio, thence round the 
western shores of Lakes Erie and Huron, and thence 
round Lake Michigan to Lake Superior. That is, Spain 
modestly claimed the territory now comprising the States 
of Mississippi and Alabama, a large part of Georgia, 


nearly the whole of Tennessee, all of Kentucky, por- 
tions of North Carolina and Virginia, a large part of 
Ohio, and all of Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Wis- 
consin; but did not mean to dispute about a few acres 
or miles ! And the courtly nobleman further assured the 
ambassador of the young republic that he had nothing 
more at heart than to fix such a boundary as might be 
satisfactory to both parties. Mr. Jay and Dr. Franklin 
at once saw the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, 
Comte de Vergennes, and pointed out the extravagance 
of this line, Franklin insisting as strenuously as Jay that 
the Mississippi was the western boundary, and they 
ought not by any means to part with the right to the free 
navigation of it. And Franklin, writing to Livingston 
on August 12, 1782, two days after this interview, says: 
"Mr. Jay will acquaint you with what passed between 
him and the Spanish Ambassador respecting the pro- 
posed treaty with Spain. I will only mention that my 
conjecture of that Court's design to coop us up within the 
Allegany mountains is now manifested. I hope Con- 
gress will insist on the Mississippi as the boundary, and 
the free navigation of the river, from which they would 
entirely exclude us. ' ' 

Again the Count d'Aranda was very urgent that Mr. 
Jay should mark on his map some line or other to the 
eastward of the Mississippi to which they could agree ; 
but Jay told him frankly that he was bound by the Mis- 
sissippi, and had no authority to cede any territories east 
of it to His Catholic Majesty. The}' had thus, as Mr. Jay 
says, "clearly discovered the views of Spain, and that 
they were utterly inadmissible. " 21 It was not long before 
he was satisfied that France and Spain were acting 
together, and wished to induce the American ministers 


to agree on western limits as a preliminary to negotiation 
with Great Britain, and to leave the country west of such 
limits to be adjusted between the French and Spanish 
ambassadors and the Court of London. The conduct of 
the representatives of the two countries convinced him 
that France and Spain intended either to secure the 
western country to themselves or yield it to Great Britain 
for an equivalent elsewhere. He divined the essence of 
the secret arrangement between France and Spain which 
secured the latter's entry into the war, which was, as 
Bancroft says, "that Spain was to be left free to exact 
from the United States the renunciation of every part of 
the basin of the St. Lawrence and the lakes, of the nav- 
igation of the Mississippi, and all the land between that 
river and the Alleghenies. " It was a trying moment for 
our representatives when it became clear to them that our 
allies were plotting to despoil us; but they were equal to 
the occasion ; and by a master stroke, disregarding their 
instructions, which directed them to consult the French 
Court throughout, they entered into the secret negotiation 
with Great Britain which ended in the Treaty of Ver- 
sailles in 1783. Well was it for this fair land of ours that 
its destinies were in the hands of Jay and Franklin and 
Adams. Counselors less wise or less firm than they 
might have yielded to the claims of Spain, certainly when 
supported by France ; and the whole Northwestern Ter- 
ritory might have become Spanish soil, and the Ohio the 
western boundary of the United States of America. 
Spain in her treaty with England did not obtain the cov- 
eted prize of Gibraltar, which the English ministers were 
inclined to yield to her, but the stubbornness of old 
George III prevented. He had lost the colonies and lost 
the Floridas, lost his troops and lost his ships, but he 


drew the line at the Rock of Gibraltar, and that he would 
not lose. The Spaniards were forced to content them- 
selves with the Floridas and Minorca, and they restored 
the Bahamas, which they had taken during the war. The 
Spanish minister, in 1784, notified our government 
that Spain did not recognize the right of Great Britain 
and the United States to settle boundaries of the country 
she had conquered before the treaty of peace. The 
recognition by Great Britain of the boundaries insisted 
upon by the American commissioners practically settled 
that question, and France acquiesced at once. The Span- 
ish King, however, could not forgive his minister, Count 
d'Aranda, who, having full powers to negotiate, 
renounced in the name of his Sovereign his demands for 
Gibraltar and accepted the two Floridas, and the count 
was disgraced. But Spain did not abandon her alleged 
title to the western country, and she continued to claim 
both banks of the Mississippi, and to plot for the secession 
of some of the western States, until the treaty of 1795 
put an end to her pretensions in that quarter. Spanish 
grants of land within what is now the State of Illinois, 
four in one county alone, show how determinedly the 
Court of Madrid clung to this region, and attempted to 
exercise sovereignty over it to the last. 28 

The policy and aims of Spain during the Revolution, 
and the use which was made of the expedition to St. Jo- 
seph in support of the same, make it reasonably certain 
that the march of the Spaniards across Illinois was 
inspired and directed from Madrid, and for a weighty 
purpose. No official accounts exist in print, but it is 
believed that in the archives of the Government of Spain 
evidence upon the point is still preserved, which may one 
day be given to the world. The Spanish records kept at 


St. Louis, which probably contained much relating to the 
subject, were all removed in 1804, when the cession from 
Spain to France, and from France to the United States, 
took place. They were shipped to New Orleans, and to 
Cuba, and were supposed for a time to have been lost in 
the Gulf of Mexico. In later years a portion of them 
were discovered in a forlorn condition in an old ware- 
house in Havana, and it is said that these have since been 
sent to Spain. The information relating to this march 
is but meager, and must be gleaned from short and scat- 
tered notices in many works. It is remarkable that it is 
not even spoken of in a single history of Michigan, gen- 
eral or local, although the Fort of St. Joseph was situated 
within the limits of that State. It is alluded to in one 
history of Indiana, 23 and in one history of Illinois, 24 
although the latter gives the wrong date, and both dismiss 
it with brief mention, as of a matter unimportant. 

And yet it has seemed not altogether a waste of time to 
recall it from the forgotten past, and bring it into view 
once more. If only for the romance and picturesqueness 
of that daring winter journey, it might have a claim to 
have its story told. Then, too, it gives one of the early 
touches of life to the broad plains of the West. These 
had lain there for countless years, which concern us not 
at all, since no record of man in connection with them in 
these ages exists. But as soon as the forms of one of 
these pioneer bands appear upon their surface the prairies 
are humanized, and our interest in them begins. 
As a part of the early history of what is now a great 
State, the passing and repassing over its borders of these 
warriors bearing the flag of Spain deserves to be chron- 
icled. And as an illustration of that crafty diplomacy 
which sought to control both the Old World and the 


New, it may repay study. How little did those light- 
hearted soldiers and their red allies know that they were 
but the pawns in the great game whereof the players 
were at Paris and Madrid ! But above all, when we con- 
sider how much was staked upon this expedition, and by 
what a narrow chance the policy of which it was the con- 
summation failed of changing perhaps the whole future 
of the Northwest, there may appear to be reason suffi- 
cient for the permanent remembrance of The March of 
the Spaniards across Illinois. 


1 The Far West, vol. I, p. 78. 

2 Ellicott's Journal, p. 31. 

3 The Far West, vol. I, p. 123. 

4 0. W. Collet in Magazine of Western History, vol. II, p. 321. 

•"'Madrid Gazette, March 12, 1782. 

6 Butler's Kentucky, p. 75. 

'Calendar Virginia State Papers, vol. I, p. 465. 

"Madrid Gazette, March 12, 1782. 

9 Conspiracy of Pontiac, vol. I, p. 274. 

10 Ibid., vol. I, p. 274, n. 

11 Illinois in the Revolution, ante. 

12 Parkman's Pontiac, vol. I, pp. 59, 273; Reynold's Illinois, p. 68. 

13 Charlevoix Journal, vol. II, pp. 94, 184. 

U H. W. Beckwith, Danville, Illinois. 

1 ■"• Michigan Pioneers' Collection, vol. I, p. 122. 

16 American State Papers, Public Lands, vol. V, pp. 779, 780. 

"Spark's Diplomatic Correspondence, vol. VIII, p. 76. 

18 Works of Franklin (Spark's), vol. IX, p. 128. 

19 Spark's Diplomatic Correspondence, vol. VIII, p 98. 

20 Ibid., p. 150. 

21 Pitkin's History of the U. S., vol. II, chap. 15. 

22 Letters of W. H. Green, Cairo, 111., Nov. 12, Dec. 12, 1885. 

23 Dillon's Indiana, ed. 1843, p. 190. 

24 Reynold's Illinois, p. 101. 

Note. — For other mention of the Spanish expedition, see Annals 
of the West, 1846, Cincinnati ed. 

Pirtle's Introduction to Clark's Campaign in the Ills., pp. 3, 4 
Secret Journals of Congress, vol. II. 



Early in August, in the year of grace 1812, there had 
come through the forest and across the prairie to the 
lonely Fort Dearborn an Indian runner, like a clansman 
with the fiery cross, bearing the news of battle and 
disaster. War with Great Britain had been declared in 
June, Mackinac had fallen into the hands of the enemy in 
July, and with these alarming tidings the red messenger 
brought an order from the commanding general at Detroit 
contemplating the abandonment of this frontier post. 
Concerning the terms of his order authorities have 
differed. Captain Heald, who received it, speaks of it as 
a peremptory command to evacuate the fort. Others 
with good means of knowledge say that the dispatch 
directed him to vacate the fort if practicable. But Gen- 
eral Hull, who sent the order, settles this question in a 
report to the War Department, which has recently come 
to light. Writing under date of July 29, 181 2, he says: 

"I shall immediately send an express to Fort Dearborn 
with orders to evacuate that post and retreat to this place 
(Detroit) or Fort Wayne, provided it can be effected with 
a greater prospect of safety than to remain. Captain 
Heald is a judicious officer, and I shall confide much to 
his discretion." 

The decision whether to go or stay rested therefore 
with Captain Nathan Heald, and truly the responsibility 
was a heavy one. Signs of Indian hostility had not been 
wanting. But the evening before the day of the evacua- 



tion, the 15th of August, Black Partridge, a chief of the 
Pottawattamie tribe, long a friend of the whites, had 
entered the quarters of the commanding officer and 
handed to him the medal which the warrior wore in token 
of services to the American cause in the Indian cam- 
paigns of "Mad" Anthony Wayne. With dignity and 
with sadness the native orator said : 

"Father, I come to deliver up to you the medal I wear. 
It was given me by the Americans, and I have long worn 
it in token of our mutual friendship. But our young men 
are resolved to imbrue their hands in the blood of the 
whites. I cannot restrain them, and I will not wear a 
token of peace while I am compelled to act as an enemy. ' ' 

On that dreary day one gleam of light fell across the 
path of the perplexed commander. Captain William Wells 
arrived from Fort Wayne with a small party of friendly 
Miami Indians to share the fortunes of the imperiled 
garrison. This gallant man, destined to be the chief hero 
and victim of the Chicago massacre, had had a most 
remarkable career. Of a good Kentucky family, he was 
stolen when a boy of twelve by the Miami Indians and 
adopted by their great chief, Me-chee-kau-nah-qua, or 
Little Turtle, whose daughter became his wife. He 
fought on the side of the red men in their defeats of Gen- 
eral Harmar in 1790, and General St. Clair in 1791. Dis- 
covered by his Kentucky kindred when he had reached 
years of manhood, he was persuaded to ally himself with 
his own race, and took formal leave of his Indian com- 
rades, avowing henceforth his enmity to them. Joining 
Wayne's army, he was made captain of a company of 
scouts, and was a most faithful and valuable officer. 
When peace came with the Treaty of Greenville in 1795, 
he devoted himself to obtaining an education, and sue- 


ceeded so well that he was appointed Indian agent and 
served in that capacity at Chicago as early as 1803, and 
later at Fort Wayne, where he was also the government 
interpreter and a Justice of the Peace. Here he heard 
of the probable evacuation of the post at Chicago, and 
knowing the temper of the Indians, he gathered such 
force as he could and made a rapid march across the 
country to save, or die with, his friends at Fort Dearborn, 
among whom the wife of Captain Heald was his own 
favorite niece, whose gentle influence had been most 
potent in winning him back from barbarism years before. 
It seemed almost as if he had resolved to atone for the 
period in which he had ignorantly antagonized his own 
people by a supreme effort in their behalf against the 
race which had so nearly made him a savage. 

He came too late to effect any change in Captain 
Heald 's plans. The abandonment was resolved upon, the 
stores and ammunition were in part destroyed and in part 
divided among the Indians, who were soon to make so 
base a return for these gifts. At nine o'clock on that 
fatal summer morning the march began from the little 
fort, which stood where Michigan Avenue and River Street 
now join, on a slight eminence around which the river 
wound to find its way to the lake, near the present ter- 
minus of Madison Street. The garrison bade farewell to 
the rude stockade and the log barracks and magazine and 
two corner blockhouses which composed the first Fort 
Dearborn. When this only place of safety was left 
behind, the straggling line stretched out along the shore 
of the lake, Captain Wells and a part of his Miamis in 
the van, half a company of regulars and a dozen militia- 
men, and the wagons with the women and children fol- 
lowing, and the remainder of the Miamis bringing up the 


rear. The escort of Pottawattamies, which that treach- 
erous tribe had glibly promised to Captain Heald, kept 
abreast of the troops until they reached the sand hills 
intervening between the prairie and the lake, and here 
the Indians disappeared behind the ridge. The whites 
kept on near the water to a point a mile and a half from 
the fort, and about where Fourteenth Street now ends, 
when Wells in the advance was seen to turn and ride 
back, swinging his hat around his head in a circle, which 
meant in the sign language of the frontier: "We are sur- 
rounded by Indians." 

As soon as he came within hearing he shouted: "We 
are surrounded ; march up on the sand ridges. ' ' And all 
at once, in the graphic languge of Mrs. Heald, they saw 
"the Indians' heads sticking up and down again, here and 
there, like turtles out of the water." 

Instantly a volley was showered down from the sand 
hills, the troops were brought into line, and charged up 
the bank, one man, a veteran of seventy years, falling as 
they ascended. Wells shouted to Heald: "Charge them!" 
and then led on and broke the line of the Indians, who 
scattered right and left. Another charge was made, in 
which Wells did deadly execution upon the perfidious 
barbarians, loading and firing two pistols and a gun in 
rapid succession. But the Pottawattamies, beaten in 
front, closed in on the flanks. The cowardly Miamis 
rendered no assistance, and in fifteen minutes' time the 
savages had possession of the baggage train and were 
slaying the women and children . Heald and a remnant 
of his command were isolated on a mound in the prairie. 
He had lost all his officers and half his men, was himself 
sorely wounded, and there was no choice but to surren- 
der. Such, in merest outline was the battle, and one of 


its saddest incidents was the death of Captain Wells. As 
he rode back from the fray, desperately wounded, he met 
his niece and bade her farewell, saying: "Tell my wife, 
if you live to see her — but I think it doubtful if a single 
one escapes — tell her I died at my post, doing the best I 
could. There are seven red devils over there that I have 
killed. " As he spoke his horse fell, pinning him to the 
ground. A group of Indians approached ; he took delib- 
erate aim and fired, killing one of them. As the others 
drew near, with a last effort he proudly lifted his head, 
saying: "Shoot away," and the fatal shot was fired. 

The young wife of Lieutenant Helm, second in com- 
mand of the fort, was attacked by an Indian lad, who 
struck her on the shoulder with a tomahawk. To pre- 
vent him from using his weapons she seized him around 
the neck and strove to get possession of the scalping- 
knife which hung in a scabbard over his breast. In the 
midst of the struggle she was dragged from the grasp of 
her assailant by an older Indian. He bore her to the lake 
and plunged her into the waves; but she quickly per- 
ceived that his object was not to drown her, as he held 
her head above the water. Gazing intently at him she 
soon recognized, in spite of the paint with which he was 
disguised, the whilom friend of the whites, Black Par- 
tridge, who saved her from further harm and restored her 
to her friends. For this good deed, and others too, this 
noble chief should be held in kindly remembrance. 

It is difficult to realize that such scenes could have 
taken place in the Chicago of to-day; but history and 
tradition alike bear witness to that bloody battlefield. 
From the place on the lake shore where Wells' signal 
halted the column over the parallel sand ridges stretching 
southwesterly along the prairie and through the bushy 


ravines between, the running fight continued probably 
as far as the present intersection of Twenty-first Street 
and Indiana Avenue, where one of our soldiers was slain 
and scalped, and still lies buried. Just over on what is 
now Michigan Avenue must have been the little eminence 
on the prairie on which Heald made his last rally, and at 
the eastern end of Eighteenth Street the skulking sav- 
ages, who had given way at the advance of our men, 
gathered in their rear around the few wagons which had 
vainly sought to keep under the cover of our line. 

If the gaunt old cottonwood on the latter spot, long 
known as the "Massacre Tree," could speak, what a tale 
of horror it would tell. For tradition, strong as Holy 
Writ, affirms that between this tree and its neighbor the 
roots of which still remain beneath the pavement, the 
baggage wagon, containing twelve children of the white 
families of the fort, halted and one young savage climb- 
ing into it tomahawked the entire group. A little while 
and this sole witness of that deed of woe must pass away. 
But the duty of preserving the name and locality of the 
Chicago massacre, which has been its charge for so many 
years, is now transferred to a stately monument, which 
will faithfully perform it long after the fall of the "Mas- 
sacre Tree." 

Captain Heald's whole party, not including the Miami 
detachment, when they marched out of Fort Dearborn, 
comprised fifty-four regulars, twelve militiamen, nine 
women and eighteen children — ninety-three white persons 
in all. Of these, twenty-six regulars and the twelve militia- 
men were slain in action, two women and twelve children 
were murdered on the field, and five regulars were bar- 
barously put to death, after the surrender. There 
remained then but thirty-six of the whole party of ninety- 


three, and of the sixty-six fighting men who met their red 
foemen here that day only twenty-three survived. These, 
with seven women and six children, were prisoners in 
the hands of the savages. We know of the romantic 
escape, by the aid of friendly Indians, of Captain and 
Mrs. Heald and -Lieutenant and Mrs. Helm; and three of 
the soldiers, one of whom was Orderly Sergeant William 
Griffith, in less than two months after the massacre, found 
their way to Michigan, bringing the sad news from Fort 
Dearborn. Hull's surrender had placed Detroit in the 
hands of the enemy; but the Territorial Chief Justice, 
Woodward, the highest United States authority there, in 
a ringing letter to the British commandant, Colonel Proc- 
tor, under date of October 8, 1812, demanded in the name 
of humanity that instant means should be taken for the 
preservation of these unhappy captives by sending special 
messengers among the Indians to collect the prisoners 
and bring them to the nearest army post, and that orders 
to cooperate should be issued to the British officers on 
the lakes. Colonel Proctor one month before had been 
informed by his own people of the bloody work at Chi- 
cago, and had reported the same to his superior officer, 
Major-General Brock, but had contented himself with 
remarking that he had no knowledge of any attack hav- 
ing been intended by the Indians on Chicago, nor could 
they indeed be said to be within the influence of the 

Now, spurred to action by Judge Woodward's clear and 
forcible presentation of the case, Proctor promised to use 
the most effective means in his power for the speedy 
release from slavery of these unfortunate individuals. 
He committed the matter to Robert Dickson, British 
agent to the Indians of the western nations, who pro- 


ceeded about it leisurely enough. March 16, 1813, he 
wrote from St. Joseph Lake, Michigan, that there 
remained of the ill-fated garrison of Chicago, captives 
among the Indians, seventeen soldiers, four women and 
some children, and that he had taken the necessary steps 
for their redemption, and had the fullest confidence that 
he should succeed in getting the whole. Six days later 
he came to Chicago and inspected the ruined fort, where, 
as he says, there remained only two pieces of brass ord- 
nance, three-pounders — one in the river, with wheels, 
and the other dismounted — a powder magazine, well pre- 
served, and a few houses on the outside of the fort, in 
good condition. This desolation apparently was not 
relieved by the presence of a single inhabitant. Such 
was the appearance of Chicago in the spring following 
the massacre. Of these seventeen soldiers, the nine who 
survived their long imprisonment were ransomed by a 
French trader and sent to Quebec, and ultimately reached 
Plattsburg, New York, in the summer of 1814. Of the 
women two were rescued from slavery, one by the kind- 
ness of Black Partridge ; and the other doubtless perished 
in captivity. Of the children, we hear again of only one. 
In a letter written to Major-General Proctor by Captain 
Bullock, the British commander at Mackinac, September 
25, 1813, he says: "There is also here a boy (Peter Bell), 
five or six years of age, whose father and mother were 
killed at Chicago. The boy was purchased from the 
Indians by a trader and brought here last July by direc- 
tion of Mr. Dickson." Of the six little people who fell 
into the hands of the Indians this one small waif alone 
seems to have floated to the shore of freedom. 

The Pottawattamies, after the battle and the burning 
of the fort, divided their booty and prisoners and scat- 


tered, some to their villages, some to join their brethren 
in the siege of Fort Wayne. Here they were foiled by 
the timely arrival of William Henry Harrison, then Gov- 
ernor of the Indiana Territory, with a force of Kentucky 
and Ohio troops, and condign punishment was inflicted 
upon a part at least of the Chicago murderers. A detach- 
ment which General Harrison assigned to this work was 
commanded by Colonel Samuel Wells, who must have 
remembered his brother's death when he destroyed the 
village of Five Medals, a leading Pottawattamie chief. 
To one of the ruthless demons who slew women and chil- 
dren under the branches of the cottonwood tree, such an 
appropriate vengeance came that it seems fitting to tell 
the story here. He was older than most of the band, a 
participant in many battles, and a deadly enemy of the 
whites. His scanty hair was drawn tightly upward and 
tied with a string, making a tuft on top of his head, and 
from this peculiarity he was known as Chief Shavehead. 
Years after the Chicago massacre he was a hunter in west- 
ern Michigan, and when in liquor was fond of boasting of 
his achievements on the warpath. On one of these occa- 
sions in the streets of a little village he told the fearful 
tale of his doings on this field with all its horrors ; but 
among his hearers there chanced to be a soldier of the 
garrison of Fort Dearborn, one of the few survivors of 
that fatal day. As he listened he saw that frightful scene 
again, and was maddened by its recall. At sundown the 
old brave left the settlement, and silently on his trail the 
soldier came, "with his gun," says the account, "resting 
in the hollow of his left arm and the right hand clasped 
around the lock, with forefinger carelessly toying with 
the trigger." The red man and the white passed into the 
shade of the forest; the soldier returned alone; Chief 


Shavehead was never seen again. He had paid the pen- 
alty of his crime to one who could, with some fitness, 
exact it. Such was the fate of a chief actor in that dark 

Many others of the Pottawattamie tribe joined the Brit- 
ish forces in the field, and at the battle of the Thames, 
October 5, 1813, they were confronted again by Harrison 
and his riflemen, who then avenged the slaughter at Chi- 
cago upon some of its perpetrators. 
































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