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by telling of desperate and savage tribes that they would meet; that the forests and the rivers were infested with frightful monsters; that there were great fish in the rivers that would swallow up men and canoes together, and ot' a demon who could be heard from a great distance, and who destroyed all wlio approached. Unmoved by these frightful stories, Marquette, Joliet, and their five brave assistants, launched their little canoes on the waters of the Wisconsin, and moved slowly down the current. After a lapse of seven days, June 17th, 1673, they reached the mouth of the Wisconsin and glided into the current of the Mississippi, a few miles below the place now known as Prairie du Chien. Here, and on this day, the eye of the white man for the first time looked upon the waters of the Upper Mississippi. Marquette called the river" The Broad River of the Conception." The Indian name is derived from the Algonquin language, one of the original tongues of the continent. It is a compound of the words Missi, signifying great, and Sepe, a river.
The explorers felt the most intense joy on beholding the scene presented to their enraptured vision. Here was the great river whose waters somewhere thousands of miles away flowed into a Southern sea, and whose broad valley was the fairest and richest in the world, but unknown to civilized man, save as an almost forgotten dream or a vague romance. They had solved one of the great mysteries of the age in which they lived. As they glided down the stream the bold bluffs reminded Marquette of the "castled shores of his own beautiful rivers in France.” The far stretching prairies alternating with forests, on either side, were adorned in all the wild glories of June. Birds sang the same notes that they had sung for ages amid those “forests primeval," while herds of buffalo, deer and elk were alarmed and fled to the dense retreats of the forest or the broad prairies beyond. Not until the 25th June did they discover any signs of human habitation. Then, about sixty leagnes, as they thonght, below the mouth of the Wisconsin, at a place where they landed on the west bank of the river, they found in the sand the foot-prints of man. Marquette and Joliet left their five companions in charge of the canoes and journeyed away from the river, knowing that they must be near the habitation of men. They followed a trail leading across a prairie clothed in the wild luxuriance of summer for a distance of about six miles, when they beheld another river and on its banks an Indian village, with other villages on biglier land a mile and a half from the first. The Indians greeted the two wliite strangers, as far as their ability permitted, with a splendid oration. They appointed four of their old men to meet the strangers conncil. Marquette could speak their language. They informed him that they were “Illini” (meaning “we are men"), and presenting the calumet of peace, invited them to share the hospitalities of their village. Marquette told them of the object of their visit, and that they had been sent by the French, who were their friends. He told them of the great God that the white man worshiped who was the same Great Spirit that they adored. In answer, one of the chiefs addressed them as follows:
“I thank the Black Gown Chief (Marquette) and the Frenchman (Joliet) for taking so much pains to come and visit us; never has the oarth been-só beantiful, nor the sun so bright as now; never las the river been so calm, nor 50 free from rocks, which your canoes have removed as they passed; never bas our tobacco had so fine a flavor, nor our corn appeared so beautiful as we behold it to-day. Ask the Great Spirit to give us lite and health, and come ve and dwell with us."
After these ceremonies the strangers were invited to a feast, an account of
which is given by Marquette. It consisted of four courses. First, there was a large wooden bowel filled with tagamity, or Indian meal, boiled.in water and seasoned with oil. The master of ceremonies, with a wooden spoon, fed the tagamity to their guests as children are fed. The second course consisted of fish, which, after the bones were taken out, was presented to the mouths of the strangers as food may be fed to a bird.
The third course was a preparation of dog meat, but learning that the strangers did not eat that it was at once removed. The fourth and final course was a piece of buffalo meat, the fattest portions of which were put into the mouths of the guests.
The stream on whose banks took place this first interview between the explorers and the untutored Indians, after parting with their guides, was the Des Moines river, and the place of their landing was probably about where the town of Montrose is now located, in Lee county, Iowa. One of our sweetest American poets has rendered Marquette's narrative in verse, as follows:
“ Came a people
And the noble Hiawathan
And the Black Robe Chief made answer,
Then the generous Hiawatha,
Marquette and Joliet remained at the Indian villages six days, and were then accompanied to their canoes by an escort of six hundred Indians. Invitations were extended to the strangers to renew their visit, after which the explorers embarked in their boats and floated on down the stream, passing the sites of future great cities of the valley, and passing the mouths of the Missouri and Ohio rivers, and as far down as the mouth of the Arkansas.
Marquette nained the Missouri river Pekitanoui, or “Muddy Water," on account of the now well-known character of that stream.
After extending their voyage to the mouth of the Arkansas, where they found a village of the Arkansas tribe, they ascended the Mississippi to the mouth of the Illinois. They ascended the latter river to its source. Along this stream they found many villages of the Illinois, or Illini, a large and powerful tribe, who were subdivided into five smaller tribes--the Tamaroas, Michigamies, Kahokias, Kaskaskias, and Peorias. The country between the Illinois and Mississippi rivers was inhabited by the three last named tribes. The Michigamies resided in the country bordering on Lake Michigan, and the Tainaroas occupied the territory now included in the counties of Jersey, Madison and St. Clair, Illinois. Kaskaskia—also designated by the early explorers as “La Vantum ” and “Great Illinois Town "_was the largest of the villages, containing, according to Marquette, seventy-five lodges. Without the loss of a man, or any serious accident, the party reached Green Bay in September, and reported their discoveries. Marquette made a faithful record of what they had seen and the incidents of the voyage. That record has been preserved. The report of Joliet was unfortunately lost by the upsetting of his canoe while on the way to Quebec.
At the request of the Illinois Indians, Marquette soon returned and established the mission of the Immaculate Conception at La Vantum. In the spring of 1675, on account of failing health, he started to return to Green Bay. While passing along the shore of Lake Michigan, conscious that he was nearing the end of his earthly labors, he observed an elevated place near the mouth of a small river. He told his companions that the place was suitable for his burial, and requested them to land. On that lonely and desolate coast, May 18, 1675, at the age of thirty-eight, James Marquette ended his last earthly voyage, and received burial at the hands of his devoted companions. Two years later some Indians of the mission at Kaskaskia disinterred his remains, and conveyed them in a box made of bireh bark, with a convoy of over twenty canoes, to Mackinaw, where they were reinterred at the mission church. The post was abandoned in 1706, and the church burned. The place of burial was finally lost, and remained lost for two hundred years. In May, 1876, the foundations of the old Jesuit Mission were accidentally discovered on the farm of one David Murray, with a number of church relics, the mouldering remains of the great missionary and explorer, and a cross with his name inscribed upon it.
Joliet, after his return to Quebec, became again a trader with the Indians. His services were rewarded by the French government by the gift of the island of Anticosta, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Little after this is known of him. He died about 1730.
The reports given of the discoveries of Marquette and Joliet, served to encourage other adventurers to engage in the effort to extend their explorations. Robert La Salle, a French navigator, who was born at Rouen about the year 1635, had long cherished a project of seeking a route to China by way of the Great Lakes. Before the return of Marquette and Joliet, lie had explored Lake Ontario and visited the different Indian tribes. In 1675 he went to France and obtained from the government a grant to a large tract of land about Fort Frontenac, the exclusive right of traffic with the Five Nations, and also a patent of nobility. He laid before his government his desire to explore the Mississippi to its month, and take possession of all the regions he might visit in the naine of the King of France. Ilis plans were
warmly approved, and he was provided with the means for carrying them into execution. In July, 1678, he returned to Fort Frontenac, soon after established a trading house at Niagara, and visited thy neighboring Indian tribes for the purpose of collecting furs. He engaged the services of thirty mechanics and mariners and built the first ship for the navigation of the lakes. It was called the Griffin, and was a bark of sixty tons. Having been joined by Louis Hennepin and Chevalier de Tonti, the latter an Indian veteran, on the 7th of August, 1679, they launched the Griffin on Niagara river, and embarked for the valley of the Mississippi. They crossed Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair, reaching Green Bay, September 2d. For the purpose of relieving himself of some pressing financial obligations at Montreal, La Salle here engaged for a time in collecting furs with which he loaded the Griffin, and sent it in the care of a pilot and fourtcen sailors on its return trip, with orders to return immediately; but the vessel was never heard of afterward. He waited until all hope had vanished, and then, with Father Ilennepin, Chevalier de Tonti, the Sieur de la Motte, and about thirty followers, began again the voyage. They ascended the St. Joseph in canoes to the portage, and carried their barks to the Kankakee, a distance of six miles, descended the Kankakee and the Illinois until they reached an Indian vil. lage on the latter stream, at the expansion of the same, known as Lake Peoria. The village was situated on the west bank of the lake, and must liave been passed by Marquette and Joliet on their voyage up the river in 1673, although no mention is made of it by them. La Salle, Hennepin, Tonti and their followers landed at Lake Peoria, January 30, 1680. The Indians received them hospitably, and they remained with them for several days. Here a spirit of discontent began to manifest itself among the followers of La Salle, and fearing trouble between his men and the Indians, they crossed the river and moved down about three miles, where they erected a fort, which La Salle named Fort Crevecoeur (heart-break) a name expressive of La Salle's sorrow at the loss of his fortune by the disaster to the Griffin, and also his feelings in the fear of mutiny among his men. The party remained here until in February, when Tonti was placed in command of the post, and Hennipin charged with a voyage of discovery to the sources of the Mississippi. La Salle returned on foot with three companions to Fort Frontenac for supplies. On his arrival he learned of the certainty of the loss of the Griffin, and also of the wreck of another vessel which liad been sent with resources for him froin France.
Father Hennepin, with two companions, Picard du Gay and Michel Ako, on the 29th of February, 1680, embarked from Fort Crevecoeur in a canoe down the Illinois to its mouth, which they reached in a few days. They then turned up the Mississippi, reaching the mouth of the Wisconsin, April 11th. Above this point no European had ever ascended. They continued the voyage, reaching the Falls of St. Anthony, April 30, 1680. Hennepin so named the falls in honor of his patron Saint. When they arrived at the mouth of St. Francis river, in wliat is now the State of Minnesota, they traveled along its banks a distance of 180 miles, visiting the Sioux Indians, who inhabited that region. The river, Ilennepin so named in honor of the founder of his order. In his account of this voyage, Hennepin claims that they were held in captivity by the Indians for about three months, although they were treated kindly by them. At the end of this time a band of Frenchmen, under the leadership of Seur de Luth, in pursuit of furs, had penetrated to this part of the country by the way of Lake Superior. The
Indians allowed Hennepin and his companions to return with the traders. They descended the Mississippi to the mouth of the Wisconsin, passing up that stream and down the Fox river, and so on through Green Bay to Lako Michigan. Hennepiu went to Quebec, and thence to France, where, in 1683, he published an account of his explorations and a description of the region of the Upper Mississippi. In 1697 (two years after La Salle's death) he published an enlarged work, in which he claimed that he had descended the Mississippi to its mouth. His faithful description of the valley for a time gave him credit for veracity, but the impossibility of reconciling his dates, and other circumstances, are by the best authorities regarded as stamping his claim false. Before the time this work was published, as we shall see, La Salle had descended the Mississippi to its mouth. Hennepin explained his long silence as to his exploration to the mouth of the Mississippi, by claiming that he had feared the enmity of La Salle, who had ordered him to follow a different course, and had also prided himself upon his own claims
a as being the first European to descend the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mex. ico. Father Hennepin died in Holland, about the year 1699.
We now return to the further adventures of the brave and intrepid La Salle. He returned to Fort Crevecoeur in the latter part of the year 1680, to find that Tonti had been abandoned by his men, and obliged to take refuge among the Pottawattamies. He spent another year in collecting his scattered followers, finally succeeded, and on the 6th of February, 1682, he had reached the mouth of the Illinois. As they passed down the Mississippi La Salle noted the different streams tributary thereto. They erected a fort near the month of the Ohio, and a cabin at the first Chickasaw bluff. On the 9th of April they entered the Gulf of Mexico. They reascended the river a short distance, founded the Fort of St. Louis, took possession of the whole valley in the name of France, and called it by the name of Louisiana, in honor of the king.
La Salle, having accomplished much for the glory of France, now retraced liis steps northward. After spending one year about the great lakes, actively engaged in laying the foundations of French settlements in the new regions he had discovered, in November, 1683, he reached Quebec, and soon after enıbarked for France. The government, with marks of great esteem, bestowed upon him a commission placing under his authority all the French and natives of the country, from Fort St. Louis to New Biscay. An expedition, with four vessels and 280 persons, was fitted out for the colonization of Lousiana; it sailed August 1, 1684. Associated with La Sulle, in this expedition, was Beaujeu, as naval commander. The mouth of the Mississippi was the objective point, but by mistake the fleet passed on northward. When the error was discovered La Salle desired to return, but Beanjeu porsisted in advancing. Dissensions arose, and La Salle, with 230 coloniste, disembarked. This was in February, 1035. A fortified post, which was called Fort St. Louis, was established, and attempts made at agriculture, but without success. Attempts were made to reach the Mississippi, which they thought near, but failed. * La Salle and his followers traversed the wilderness toward New Mexico, and in January, 1687, by sickness and disaster, his party was reduced to thirty-seven. Some of these, following Beaujeu's example, revolted. La Salle, with sixteen men, then determined to reach the country of the Illinois. Two men, who had embarked their capital in the enterprise, were bitter in malignity toward the leader of this unsuccessful expedition. Their feelings found some gratification in the murder of a