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Extracted from
History of St. Clair County, Michigan
by A.T. Andreas

History of Michigan

Chapter II


[22] The fame of Marquette continues to gain strength as days advance. Notwithstanding all his countrymen had written of him, the new Americans continue to inquire into his magnificent career, and to add to the store of information regarding him, already garnered. Rev. Geo. Duffield, of Detroit, is one of his latest biographers, and from his writings on the life of the missionary, we make the following extracts:

Jacques Marquette came late to his fame. Open Davenport's Dictionary of Biography, 1831, "comprising the most eminent characters of all ages, nations and professions," and you will not find even so much as his name. Turn for that name [23] to the Cyclopedia of Biography by Parke Godwin, with a supplement by George Sheppard, A.D. 1872, and you will not find it there, and so with many similar works. Hence we see the need of such an historical society as the present, that one of the greatest and best of the original founders of Michigan may receive his due credit, and be honored with an appropriate memorial.

Marquette was born of an honorable family at Laon, in the north of France, in the year 1637, but the month and day of his birth are not easily found, and I have nowhere seen his portrait. In 1654 he joined the Society of the Jesuits, and in 1666 was sent to the missions in Canada. After the river St. Lawrence and the great lakes had been mapped out, the all-absorbing object of interest with Governor Frontenac Talch, the intendant, and Marquette himself, was to discover and trace from the north the wonderful Mississippi, that DeSoto, the Spaniard, had first seen at the south in 1541. In 1668 (according to Bancroft, III, 152), he repaired to the Chippewas at the Sault to establish the mission of St. Mary, the oldest settlement begun by Europeans within the present limits of the commonwealth of Michigan. On the day of the immaculate conception of the Holy Virgin, in 1673, he received his orders from Frontenac, to accompany Joliet on his long-desired journey. Taking probably the short trail through the woods he found his companion at Point St. Ignace, where, after many remarkable vicissitudes, both in life and death, he was at length to find his grave, where his numerous friends and admirers, both French and Indian, were for so long a time to lose sight of it again, and where a second time he gains his place as one of the founders of Michigan.

Apart from his peculiar mission, which was looked upon by "the Protestant colonies" of New England with anything but favorable eyes; apart from his peculiar dogma of the conception, which has only been officially sanctioned in our day and by the late Pope, there were many things in the life and times of Marquette that, to the lover of biography, make his character as attractive as that of Francis Xavier, "the great apostle of the Indies," or of his still greater master, Ignatius Loyola. The man in these days who can not admire, and even to a certain extent venerate man as man, apart from his more immediate antecedents or local surroundings, has but a very limited and mistaken idea of the enlightened spirit of the age, or the true dignity of human nature. Honor to whom honor is due, is not only a sound maxim, founded on that equity which is the highest form of justice, but is also in just so many words one of the very first principles of Christianity itself. When I can not give a man credit for what he really is, because he belongs to another party than my own, or give him credit for what he has done, because he belongs to another denomination than my own, I deserve to be consigned for the remainder of my days to a hole in the woods.

The pioneers of our country, no doubt, have had a very hard time of it, and [24] none more so than my Scotch-Irish ancestors in central Pennsylvania. From the childhood of Daniel Webster down to the present hour, it would argue a very ignorant mind and most unfeeling and ungrateful heart to read the toils and trials and privations endured by men and women in the early settlement of this or any other State; but after all what are the hardships of the early settlers compared with those of Allouez, in 1665, afloat in a frail canoe on the broad expanse of Lake Superior, of Dablon, Marquette, LaSalle, and others of the original explorers?

"Defying the severity of climate," as Bancroft has it, "wading through water or through snows, without the comfort of fire; having no bread but pounded corn, and often no food but the unwholesome moss from the rocks; laboring incessantly, exposed to live, as it were, without nourishment, to sleep without a resting place; to travel far, and always incurring perils; to carry their lives in their hands; or rather daily and oftener than every day, to hold them up as targets, expecting captivity, death from the tomahawk, tortures, fires" - (Bancroft, III., 152.) It seems to me that if there are any two classes of men who should be most cordially linked in closest bonds of sympathy with one another, it is the pioneers and explorers.

Marquette was much more than a religious enthusiast. He was a scholar and a man of science. Having learned within a few years to speak with ease in six different languages, his talents as a linguist were quite remarkable. A subtle element of romance pervaded his character, which not only makes it exceedingly attractive to us in the retrospect, but was no doubt one of the great sources and elements of his power and success among his beloved Ottawas and Hurons, and others of the great Algonquin tribes, who were found in the immediate vicinity of the straits of Michilimackinac. With a fine eye for natural beauty, he was as much delighted with a rapid river, or extended lake, with an old forest or rolling prairie, or a lofty mountain as a Birch, or a Cole, or a Bierstadt. Every one who touches his character seems emulous of adorning it with a new epithet. Parkman speaks of him as "the humble Marquette, who with clasped hands and up-turned eyes, seems a figure evoked from some dim legend of mediaeval saintship." Bancroft calls him "the meek, gentle, single-hearted, unpretending, illustrious Marquette." - Vol. III., p. 157. Many call him "the venerated;" all unite in calling him "the good Marquette," and by this last, most simple, but appropriate title he will be the best remembered by the generations yet to come. "A man who was delighted at the happy necessity of exposing his life to bring the word of God" within reach of half a continent deserves that title if any one does. His Catholic eulogist, John Gilman Shea, (Catholic World, November, 1877, p. 267,) writes with pardonable pride: "No missionary of that glorious band of Jesuits who in the seventeenth century announced the faith from the Hudson Bay to the lower Mississippi, who [25] hallowed by their labors and life-blood so many a wild spot now occupied by the busy hives of men, none of them impresses us more in his whole life and career with his piety, sanctity and absolute devotion to God, than Father Marquette. In life he seems to have been looked up to with reverence by the wildest savage, by the rude frontiersman, and by the polished officers of government. When he had passed away, his name and his fame, so marked in the great West, was treasured above that of his fellow-laborers, Menard, Allouez, Nouvel or Druillettes." May I not add that, most of all other State, his name and his fame should be dear to Michigan?

Such, then, was the man who on the 17th of May, 1673, with the simple outfit of two birch canoes, a supply of smoked meat and Indian corn, and a crew of five men, embarked on what was then known as Lac Des Illinois, now Lake Michigan. June 10th they came to the portage, in Wisconsin, (III., 158,) and after carrying their canoes some two miles over marsh and prairie, "he committed himself to the current that was to bear them he knew not whither - perhaps to the Gulf of Mexico, perhaps to the South Sea, or the Gulf of California." June 17, 1673, where now stands Prairie Du Chien, he had found what he sought, "and with a joy that I can not express we steered forth our canoes on the Mississippi, or great river." We know that the honor of this discovery is very stoutly contested in favor of LaSalle, but for the present we confidently hold with Parkman (Discovery of the Great West, p. 25): "LaSalle discovered the Ohio, and in all probability the Illinois also; but that he discovered the Mississippi has not been proved, nor in the light of the evidence we have, is it likely." In 1846 W.J.A. Bradford, in his notes on the Northwest, says very dogmatically: "Father Hennepin must undoubtedly be considered the discoverer of the Mississippi;" but if the proof of it is only to be established by Hennepin's own narrative, which Parkman describes as a rare monument of brazen mendacity, the proof is still wanting. His famous voyage from the Illinois to the Gulf of Mexico must be considered not only as a falsehood, but a plagiarism.

Fortunately for the fame of Marquette, the true record of his labors was not left to doubtful tradition and the hearsay testimony of Charlevoix. Among the papers some twenty-five years since in the archives of the College of Quebec are accounts of the last labors and death of Father Marquette, and of the removal of his remains, prepared for publication by Father Dablon; Marquette's journal of his great expedition, the very map he drew, and a letter left unfinished at the time of his death. So at least says Mr. Shea, and that these documents are to be found in his work on the discovery and exploration of the Mississippi Valley.

Leaving, then, the doubtful narrative of Charlevoix and the romantic page of Bancroft founded upon it, we learn the real story of his death. October 25, [26] 1674, he again left St. Ignace to fulfill a promise to the Kaskaskias in Illinois. December 4th he reached Chicago, hoping to ascend the river, and by a portage reach the Illinois: but the ice had closed the stream and it was too late. A winter march, facing the cutting wind of the prairie was beyond his strength. His two faithful companions erected a log hut home and chapel - the first dwelling and the first church of the first white settlement of the city - known for its great misfortune the world over, the city of Chicago.

With the opening of Spring the good father again set out, and his last letter notes his progress till the 6th of April, 1675. "Just after Easter he was again stricken by disease (dysentery), and he saw that if he would die in the arms of his brethren" at St. Ignace, he must depart at once. Escorted by the Kaskasias, who were deeply impressed by his zeal, he reached Lake Michigan, gave orders to his faithful men to launch his canoe, and commenced his adventurous voyage along that still unknown and dangerous shore. His strength, however, failed so much that his men despaired of being able to convey him alive to their journey's end; for in fact he became so weak and so exhausted that he could no longer help himself, nor even stir, and had to be handled and carried like a child. He nevertheless in this state maintained an admirable resignation, joy and gentleness, consoling his beloved companions, and encouraging them to suffer courageously all the hardships of this voyage." "On the eve of his death, which was on Friday, he told them, all radiant with joy, that it would take place on the morrow, and spoke so calmly and collectedly of his death and burial that you would have thought it was another's and not his own.

Thus did he speak to them as they sailed along the lake, till perceiving the mouth of a river, with an eminence on the bank which he thought suited his burial, he told them that it was the place of his last repose. They wished, however, to pass on, as the weather permitted it and the day was not far advanced; but God raised a contrary wind, which obligated them to return and enter the river which the father had designated.

They then carried him ashore, kindled a little fire and raised a bark cabin for his use, laying him in it with as little discomfort as they could; but they were so depressed by sadness that, as they afterward said, they did not know what they were doing."

Many a time and oft, in my favorite summer home at Mackinac, have I had this whole scene pass before me as in a day-dream from Point Lookout, until last Summer it took the form of accordant rhyme:

Where the gently flowing river merges with the stormy lake,
Where upon the beach so barren ceaseless billows roll and break,
[27] There the barque so frail and gallant, known throughout the western world,
Glides into the long-sought haven and its weary wings are furled.
Here, says one, I end my voyage and my sun goes down at noon;
Let God have "the greater glory," care have I for naught beside,
But to bear the blest evangel, Jesus Christ, the crucified.

Slow and faint into the forest, straight he takes his quiet way,
Kneels upon the virgin mosses, prays as he is wont to pray;
Nunc dimittis - then they hear him sweetly sing as ne'er before;
Then the angels join in chorus, and Marquette is now no more.
This the prayer he leaves behind him, as is said his latest mass -
"One day bear me to my mission, at the Pointe of St. Ignace."
Entered into rest from labor, where all toils and tempests cease,
Every sail outspread and swelling, so he finds the port of peace.

Once again that spot so sacred hears the sound of human feet,
And the gently flowing river sees a strange funereal fleet;
'Tis the plumed and painted warriors, of their different tribes the best,
Who have met in solemn council to fulfill his last request.
Down their cheeks the tears are flowing, for the sainted man of God;
Not the bones of dearest kindred dear as those beneath that sod,
Reverently the grave they open, call the dear remains their own -
Sink them in the running water, cleanse and whiten every bone.
Place them gently in the mocock, wrought with woman's choicest skill,
From the birch the very whitest, and the deepest colored quill;
In the war canoe the largest, to his consecrated tomb,
Like a chief who falls in battle, silently they bear him home.

Gathers still the sad procession, as the fleet comes slowly nigh,
Where the cross above the chapel stands against the northern sky;
Every tribe and every hamlet, from the nooks along the shore,
Swell the company of mourners, who shall see his face no more.

Forth then thro' the deepening twilight sounds the service high and clear,
And the dark-stoled priests with tapers guide and guard the rustic bier;
In the center of the chapel, close by little Huron's wave,
Near the tall and stately cedars, Pere Marquette has found his grave.

Still I hear the Miserere sounding loud within my soul,
Still I hear the De Profundis, with its solemn cadence roll-
"For the blood of thy red brother, who shall answer in that day."
When before the throne of judgment earth and heaven shall pass away.

[28] When these lines were written I had not seen the narrative of Father Dablon, but a further extract from it will show that there was very little poetic license in them as to the leading facts.

"God did not permit so precious a deposit to remain unhonored and forgotten amid the forests. The Indians called Kiskakons, who have for nearly ten years publicly professed Christianity, in which they were first instructed by Father Marquette, when stationed at La Pointe du St. Esprit, at the extremity of Lake Superior, were hunting last year, not far from Lake Illinois (i.e. Michigan), and as they were returning early in the Spring they resolved to pass the tomb of their good father, whom they tenderly loved, and God even gave them the thought of taking his bones and conveying them to our church at the mission of St. Ignatius.

"They accordingly repaired to the spot and deliberated together, resolving to act with their father, as they usually do with those whom they respect. They opened the grave, unrolled the body, and though the flesh and intestines were all dried up, they found it entire, without the skin being injured. This did not prevent their dissecting it according to custom. They washed the bones and dried them in the sun; then putting them neatly in a box of birch bark, they set out to bear them to our house at St. Ignatius.

"The convoy consisted of early thirty canoes in excellent order, including even a good number of the Iroquois" (a very ferocious tribe, who were a great terror to other tribes and especially hostile to the Jesuits), "who had joined our Algonquins to honor the ceremony. As they approached our house Father Nouvel, who is superior, went to meet them with Father Pierson, accompanied by all the French and Indians of the place; and having caused the convoy to stop, he made the ordinary interrogations to verify the fact that the body which they bore was really Father Marquette. Then before they landed he intoned the De Profundis in sight of the thirty canoes still on the water, and of all the people still on the shore. After this the body was carried to the church, observing all that the ritual prescribes for such ceremonies. It remained exposed under his catafalque all that day, which was Whitsun Monday, the 8th of June, and the next day, when all the funeral honors had been paid to it, it was deposited in a little vault in the middle of the church, where he reposes as the guardian angel of our Ottawa missions."

So far the invaluable record of Dablon. We come now to 1706, when for well-known reasons, for which we can not pause, the Jesuits at St. Ignace broke up their mission, set fire to their house and chapel and returned to Quebec. What became of the bones of Marquette? Did they carry them with them to Quebec? No; they left in haste, and fled almost as for their lives. "There is nothing in Canadian registers, which are extensive, full and well preserved." "Charlevoix, who was at Quebec on the return of the missionaries, is silent." There is little [29] doubt, therefore, that the precious remains of the great explorer still lay in the chapel.

But the very site of the chapel was soon lost. The new chapel, still standing, was confessedly not on the site of the old one. Could the old site ever be identified? It seemed very doubtful indeed. True, there were a few local and legendary traditions to which reference was made some years since in his correspondence by the Hon. E.G.D. Holden, our present Secretary of State.

An Indian now living in St. Ignace told me early last Summer that "his father told him, and that his father told him," and pointed out to him the place on the shore of the bay where a black cross used to stand, which was understood to "point out the direction" of the good father's grave, and where the voyagers would invoke his blessing. I also have it in writing from a very intelligent Indian, that last Summer he called on an aged Indian woman in Petoskey, claiming to be in her 100th year. "I asked her if she had heard, when a girl, anything concerning the Kitchi-ma-ka-da-na-co-na-yay, or "great priest." She said, "Yes. He died at the mouth of the river, and his body was carried to Min-is-sing," i.e. to St. Ignace.

These are but specimens of many similar traditions; but would there ever be anything more than tradition?

Early in July I heard in Detroit for the first time, from Col. Stockbridge, who has a large lumber interest in St. Ignace; that when he left there was a report that the site of the old chapel had been discovered. If so, thought I, then we have found Pere Marquette's grave at last - for the one statement in which all seem to agree is that he was buried in the middle of the chapel.

On my arrival in Mackinac I lost but little time before starting to St. Ignace. Though only four miles off we tacked a dozen times and took four hours, and worked hard at that.

On reaching Mr. Murray's house, where the supposed discovery had been made, I found precisely what had been described a few days before by a correspondent of the Evening News.

Correspondence of the
Evening News.
Mackinac, July 12, 1877.

The readers of the Evening News will recollect the recently reported discovery at St. Ignace of the site of the mission chapel founded by Father Marquette in 1670, and under the pavement of which his bones were subsequently deposited. The account created considerable sensation among antiquaries. Being in Mackinac, within four miles of St. Ignatius, I improved the opportunity to cross over and see for myself what the discoveries amounted to. The little steamer Truscott crosses [30] each afternoon; fare fifty cents. A few steps from the landing we turn into a potato patch, just beyond which the boy who pilots us suddenly announces, "Here's the place." At first glance nothing can be observed more than might be noticed on any vacant lot in Detroit. A closer examination, however, reveals a very slight trench about a foot and a half wide, forming a rectangle 35 by 45 feet and located very nearly, if not exactly, with the points of the compass, the longer measurement being in the direction of east and west. At places in this trench rough stones lay embedded in the earth. At the southern side of the space, about nine feet from the western side, is a hole say three feet deep and eight or ten square, and in the southeast corner another smaller hole. Until the present Spring the site has been covered with a growth of young spruce, the clearing off of which led to the supposed discovery. The larger hole is assumed to have been a cellar under the church in which the valuable are kept; the smaller hole is thought to mark the position of the baptismal font, though why an excavation should be made for it is more than I can conjecture. A few feet west of the rectangle described above are two heaps of stone and earth, evidently the debris of two ruined chimneys. The outlines of the houses to which the chimneys belonged can also be faintly traced.

Mr. Murray, the owner of the ground, is a well-to-do Catholic Irishman, owning as he does 600 acres of land on the Point. He has lived on the place for twenty years past, and before that lived on Mackinac Island. He is inclined to be superstitious and to magnify the mystery to which he believes he holds the key. As illustrative of this he remarked in my presence that when he was about to build a cow-house some time ago, his sons wished it located on what he now believes to be the site of the ancient church, but the protecting influences of that sacred spot strangely impelled him to adopt a different location. He is confident that by digging below the surface at the center of the church, the "mocock" of bones would be discovered, but thus far owing to a difference between himself and the parish priest, not a spadeful of earth has been turned. The priest believes the location to be the correct one, and is anxious to excavate, but Mr. Murray refuses to permit it without a pledge that whatever is found shall not be carried away from the Point. He offers to give ground for the erection of a church or a monument on the spot, but insists that the sacred relics, if found, must be left where they have for two centuries rested. The bishop is expected at St. Ignace shortly, when the question will be laid before him for adjustment.

Now as to the probability of the discovery being confirmed by others yet to be made, I confess to being less sanguine than Mr. Murray and his neighbors. It is certain that the two ruined chimneys alluded to indicate the location of dwellings at some period in the past. Bits of iron, copper and looking-glass found in the debris attest this; but whether the buildings stood fifty years ago or 200 no one can positively [31] assert. Mr. Murray has known the spot for a quarter of a century, and can vouch for no change having occurred in that time. I think it likely that they are of a much older date. In regard to the assumed church site I think the probabilities favor the existence there at one time of a building of some sort. Whether it occupied the limits assumed - 45 by 35 feet - is less certain, while the existence of the cellar would seem to indicate that it was a dwelling rather than a church. On the other hand, it is certain that the mission was founded in this immediate vicinity, and the Murray farm, as fronting on the most protected part of the bay, and affording the best landing for boats, is certainly as likely a spot for Marquette to have adopted as any. But nothing can be told with any certainty till thorough investigation is made.

The tradition is that the mission was founded in 1670, that Marquette subsequently visited Wisconsin and Illinois, establishing mission stations as far up the lake as Chicago; that upon his return via the eastern shore of Lake Michigan he died at the mouth of the Pere Marquette river, where Ludington now stands, and was buried there. A few years later his bones were taken up, cleaned and packed in a mocock, or box made of birch bark, and were conveyed with due solemnity back to St. Ignace, where they were permanently deposited beneath the middle of the church. At a still later period Indian wars broke up the mission, and to protect the church from sacrilege the missionaries burned it to the ground.

I also found in the possession of the present priest of St. Ignace, Father Jaoka (pronounced Yocca), a pen and ink sketch, on which I looked with most intense interest. This invaluable drawing gives the original site of the French village, the "home of the Jesuits," the Indian village, the Indian fort on the bluff, and, most important of all, very accurately defines the contour of a little bay known as Nadowa - Wikweiamashong - i.e., as Mr. Jacker gave it, Nadowa Huron. Wik-weia - Here is a bay. Anglice - "Little bay of the Hurons;" or according to the Otchepwa dictionary of Bp. Barraga, "Bad bay of the Iroquois squaw." Of the Indian village there is no trace. Their wigwams, built only of poles and bark, have not left a single vestige. Not so with the French village. You may still see the remains of their logs and plaster, and the ruins of their chimneys. On the supposed site of the house of the Jesuits, some 40 by 30 feet, are found distinct outlines of walls, a little well, and a small cellar. Immediately in the rear of the larger building are the remains of a forge, where "the brothers" used to make spades or swords, as the occasion might require.

On further inquiry of the priest, who was equally remarkable for his candor and intelligence, and the length of his beard, I found that the sketch of the house of the Jesuits was taken by him from the travels of LaHenton, originally published in France, but translated and republished in England A.D. 1772. Only a few days [32] after I saw a copy of this very same book in the hands of Judge C.I. Walker, of Detroit, and was thus enabled, to my very great satisfaction, to verify the sketch as shown to me by Father Jaoka or Jacker (Yocca).

LaHenton says: "the place which I am now in is not above half a league distant from the Illinois lake. Here the Hurons and Ontawas have each of 'em (sic) a village, the one being severed from the other by a single palisade. But the Ontawas are beginning to build a fort upon a hill that stands but 1,000 or 1,200 paces off. * * In this place the Jesuits have a little house or college, adjoining to a sort of chapel and enclosed with pale, which separates it from the village of the Hurons.

"The Cuereur du Paris also a very small settlement." - LaHenton, vol. I., p. 88.

From that moment I entertained the most sanguine hope that the long lost grave of the good Marquette would again be found. Greatly did I regret that I could not remain a few days longer, when the exploration would be made in the presence of the excellent Bishop Mrak, and learn what would be the result. I saw nothing whatever in the well-known character of the bishop, or of the worthy pastor of St. Ignace to justify even for a moment the least suspicion of anything like "pious fraud."

Monday, September 3, 1877, Bishop Mrak dug out the first spadeful of ground. For a time, however, the search was discouraging. "Nothing was found that would indicate the former existence of a tomb, vaulted or otherwise," and the bishop went away. After a while a small piece of birch bark came to light, followed by numerous other fragments scorched by fire. Finally a larger and well preserved piece appeared which once evidently formed part of the bottom of an Indian-wig-wap-makak-birch-bark-box or mocock. Evidently the box had been double, such as the Indians sometimes use for greater durability in interments, and had been placed on three or four wooden sills. It was also evident that the box had not been placed on the floor but sunk in the ground, and perhaps covered with a layer of mortar. But it was equally evident that this humble tomb had been disturbed, and the box broken into, and parts of it torn out, after the material had been made brittle by the action of fire. This would explain the absence of its former contents, which," says Mr. Jackers, "what else could we think - were nothing less than Father Marquette's bones! But what had become of them? Further search brought to light two fragments of bone - then thirty-six more - finally a small fragment, apparently of the skull - then similar fragments of the ribs, the hand and the thigh bone. From these circumstances then we deduce the following conclusions:

1. That of M. Pommier, the French surgeon, that these fragments of bone are undoubtedly human, and bear the marks of fire.

2. That everything goes to show "the hast of profane robbery."


3. That this robbery was by Indian medicine men, who coveted his bones, according to their belief, as a powerful medicine.

4. That it must have taken place within a few years after the departure of the Jesuits, otherwise when the mission was renewed (about 1708), the remains would most certainly have been transferred to the new church in old Mackinac.

5. That Charlevoix, at his sojourn there in 1721, could hardly have failed to be taken to see the new tomb, and to mention the fact of its transfer in his journal, or history.

6. That if we have failed to find all the remains of the great explorer, we have at least found some, and ascertained the fact of his having been interred on that particular spot.

7. That the records answer all the circumstances of the discovery, and that the finding of these few fragments, if not as satisfactory to our wishes, is at least as good evidence for the fact in question as if we had found every bone that is in the human body.

Such are the leading points in Father Jacker's elaborate narrative, as published in the Catholic World, November, 1877, in connection with the article entitled "Romance and Reality of the Death of Father James Marquette, and the recent discovery of his remains," by John G. Shea, for which papers I am indebted to the kind courtesy of Mr. Daniel E. Hudson, C.S.C., Notre Dame, Indiana, to whom I return most cordial thanks.

While in some respects the results are not quite so satisfactory as might have been desired, yet the determination of the site of the old house of the Jesuits, the discovery of the tomb, the recovery in part of the mocock coffin, and above all, the finding of some of the bones of Marquette, are all of intense interest to every lover of early Michigan history.

Marquette, the great explorer - the oldest founder of Michigan, whose grave was found within her borders, and to whom belongs immortal honor, being the discoverer of the upper Mississippi and first navigator of the great river. The scattering of his bones, I am well persuaded, is only a symbol of the wider extension of his fame. Already his name is attached to a railroad, a river, a city, a diocese in Michigan; but that is not enough. Some forty years ago it was foretold by Bancroft "that the people of the West will build his monuments," and now the time has fully come when that prophecy will be fulfilled. Lest you might think that I say this merely out of state pride, or as a lover of antiquarian history, I will only add in conclusion that I say it out of a much higher motive, and with reference to a much higher object. In reading the life of Francis Xavier when a boy, I learned that there were some lessons for Christian laborers from the lives of the early Jesuits, that neither I nor any other man could afford to overlook. Granting that [34] too often they sought to help what they deemed a righteous cause by what they knew to be unrighteous means, and so teach us what we should avoid, there are other lessons that we would do well to imitate. The spirit of union, which was to them so great a source of power, the cheerfulness with which they suffered for the cause that they had espoused; the unlooked-for combinations of character in the same individuals, and above all the magnetism of personal importance and power by having a definite aim - such for example as we find in the good Marquette - belonging to any one church or order of that church, but to man as man, and to the world at large! There is only one regret that I should have in the erecting of such a monument, and that is lest it should be built by our Catholic friends alone. Will they not permit us all to join - Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, and the whole Northwest - and do honor to the great explorer in a monument of natural rock, (like Monumental Rock, Isle Royale), the materials for which in that immediate vicinity have been so long waiting, apparently, for just such a noble purpose?


The next settlement in point of time was made in 1676, by Robert Cavalier de LaSalle, at the mouth of the St. Joseph river. He had constructed a vessel, the "Griffin," just above Niagara Falls, and sailed around by the lakes to Green Bay, Wis., whence he traversed "Lac des Illinois," now Lake Michigan, by canoe to the mouth of the St. Joseph river. The "Griffin" was the first sailing vessel that ever came west of Niagara Falls. LaSalle erected a fort at the mouth of the St. Joseph river, which afterward was moved about 60 miles up the river, where it was still seen in Charlevoix's time, 1721. La Salle also built a fort on the Illinois river, just below Peoria, and explored the region of the Illinois and Mississippi rivers.

The next, and third, Michigan post erected by authority was a second fort on the St. Joseph river, established by Du Suth, near the present Fort Gratiot, in 1686. The object of this was to intercept emissaries of the English, who were anxious to open traffic with the Mackinaw and Lake Superior nations.

The French posts in Michigan on westward, left very little to be gathered by the New York traders, and they determined, as there was peace between France and England, to push forward their agencies and endeavor to deal with the western and northern Indians in their own country. The French governors not only plainly asserted the title of France, but as plainly threatened to use all requisite force to expel intruders. Anticipating correctly that the English would attempt to reach Lake Huron from the East without passing up Detroit river, Du Luth built a fort at the outlet of the lake into the St. Clair. About the same time an expedition was planned against the Senecas, and the Chevalier Tonti, commanding La Salle's forts, of St. Louis and St. Joseph of Lake Michigan, and La Durantaye, the veteran commander of Mackinaw, were employed to bring down the French and Indian [35] auxiliaries to take part in the war. These men intercepted English expeditions into the interior to establish trade with the Northern Indians, and succeeded in cutting them off for many years. Religious zeal for the Catholic Church and the national aggrandizement were almost or quite equally the primary and all-ruling motive of western explorations. For these two purposes expeditions were sent out and missionaries and military posts were established. In these enterprises Marquette, Joliet, La Salle, St. Lusson and others did all the we find credited to them in history.

In 1669 or 1670, Talon, then "Intendant of New France," sent out two parties to discover a passage to the South Sea, St. Lusson to Hudson's Bay and La Salle southwestward. On his return in 1671, St. Lusson held a council of all the northern tribes at the Sault Ste. Marie, where they formed an alliance with the French. "It is a curious fact," says Campbell, "that the public documents are usually made to exhibit the local authorities as originating everything, when the facts brought to light from other sources show that they were compelled to permit what they ostensibly directed." the expeditions sent out by Talon were at least suggested from France. The local authorities were sometimes made to do things which were not, in their judgment, the wisest.


July 19, 1701, the Iroquois conveyed to King William III, all their claims to land, describing their territory as "that vast tract of land or colony called Canagariarchio, beginning on the northwest side of Cadarachqui (Ontario) Lake, and includes all that vast tract of land lying between the great lake of Ottawawa (Huron), and the lake called by the natives Sahiquage, and by the Christians the Lake of Sweege (Oswego, for Lake Erie), and runs till it butts upon the Twichtwichs, and is bounded on the westward by the Twichtwichs, on the eastward by a place called Quadoge, containing in length about 800 miles, and breadth 400 miles, including the country where beavers and all sorts of wild game keep, and the place called Tjeughsaghrondie alias Fort De Tret or Wawyachtenock (Detroit); and so runs round the lake of Sweege till you come to a place called Oniadarundaquat," etc.

It was chiefly to prevent any further mischief, and to secure more effectually the French supremacy that La Motte Cadillac, who had great influence over the savages, succeeded, in 1701, after various plans urged by him had been shelved by hostile colonial intrigues, in getting permission from Count Pontchartraine to begin a settlement in Detroit. His purpose was from the beginning to make not only a military post, but also a civil establishment for trade and agriculture. He was more or less threatened and opposed by the monopolists and by the Mackinaw missionaries, and was subjected to severe persecutions. He finally triumphed and obtained valuable [36] privileges and the right of seigneury. Craftsmen of all kinds were induced to settle in the town, and trade flourished. He succeeded in getting the Hurons and many of the Ottawas to leave Mackinaw and settle about "Fort Pontchartraine." This fort stood on what was formerly called the first terrace, being on the ground lying between Larned street and the river, and between Griswold and Wayne streets. Cadillac's success was so great, in spite of all opposition, that he was appointed governor of the new province of Louisiana, which had been granted to Crozat and his associates. This appointment removed him from Detroit, and immediately afterward the place was exposed to an Indian siege, instigated by English emissaries, and conducted by the Mascoutins and Ontagamies, the same people who made the last war on the whites in the territory of Michigan under Black Hawk a century and a quarter later. The tribes allied to the French came in with alacrity and defeated and almost annihilated the assailants, of whom a thousand were put to death.

Unfortunately for the country, the commanders who succeeded Cadillac for many years were narrow-minded and selfish and not disposed to advance any interests beyond the lucrative traffic with the Indians in peltries. It was not until 1734 that any new grants were made to farmers. This was done by Governor-General Beauharnois, who made the grants on the very easiest terms. Skilled artisans became numerous in Detroit, and prosperity set in all around. The buildings were not of the rudest kind, but built of oak or cedar, and of smooth finish. The cedar was brought from a great distance. Before 1742 the pineries were known, and at a very early day a saw-mill was erected on the St. Clair River, near Lake Huron. Before 1749 quarries were worked, especially at Stoney Island. In 1763 there were several lime kilns within the present limits of Detroit, and not only stone foundations but also stone buildings, existed in the settlement.

Several grist-mills existed along the river near Detroit. Agriculture was carried on profitably, and supplies were exported quite early, consisting chiefly of corn and wheat, and possibly beans and peas. Cattle, horses and swine were raised in considerable numbers; but as salt was very expensive, but little meat, if any, was packed for exportation. The salt springs near Lake St. Clair, it is true, were known, and utilized to some extent, but not to an appreciable extent. Gardening and fruit-raising were carried on more thoroughly than general farming. Apples and pears were good and abundant.

During the French and English war Detroit was the principal source of supplies to the French troops west of Lake Ontario, and it also furnished a large number of fighting men. The upper posts were not much involved in this war.

"Teuchsa Grondie," one of the many ways of spelling an old Indian name of Detroit, is rendered famous by a large and splendid poem of Levi Bishop, Esq., of [37] that city. During the whole of the eighteenth century the history of Michigan was little else than history of Detroit, as the genius of French Government was to centralize power instead of building up localities for self-government.

About 1704, or three years after the founding of Detroit, this place was attacked by the Ottawa Indians, but unsuccessfully; and again, in 1712, the Ottagamies, or Fox Indians, who were in secret alliance with the old enemies of the French, the Iroquois, attacked the village and laid siege to it. They were severely repulsed, and their chief offered a capitulation which was refused. Considering this an insult they became enraged and endeavored to burn up the town. Their method of firing the place was to shoot large arrows, mounted with combustible material in flame, in a track through the sky rainbow-form. The bows and arrows being very large and stout, the Indians lay with their backs on the ground, put both feet against the central portion of the inner side of the bow and pulled the strings with all the might of their hands. A ball of blazing material would thus be sent arching over nearly a quarter of a mile, which would come down perpendicularly upon the dry shingle roofs of the houses and set them on fire. But this scheme was soon check-mated by the French, who covered the remaining houses with wet skins. The Foxes were considerably disappointed at this and discouraged, but they made one more desperate attempt, failed, and retreated toward Lake St. Clair, where they again entrenched themselves. From this place however, they were soon dislodged. After this period these Indians occupied Wisconsin for a time and made it dangerous for travelers passing through from the lakes to the Mississippi. They were the Ishmaelites of the wilderness.

In 1749, there was a fresh accession of immigrants to all the points upon the lakes, but the history of this part of the world during the most of this century, is rather monotonous, business and government remaining about the same, without much improvement. The records nearly all concern Canada east of the lake region. It is true, there was almost a constant change of commandants at the posts, and there were many slight changes of administrative policy, but as no great enterprises were successfully put in operation the events of the period have but little prominence.

The Northwestern Territory during French rule, was simply a vast ranging ground for the numerous Indian tribes, who had no ambition higher than obtaining immediate subsistence of the crudest kind, buying arms, whisky, tobacco, blankets and jewelry by bartering for them the peltries of the chase. Like a drop in the ocean was the missionary work of the few Jesuits at the half dozen posts on the great waters. The forests were full of otter, beaver, bear, deer, grouse, quails, etc., and on the few prairies the grouse, or "prairie chickens," were abundant. Not much work was required to obtain a bare subsistence, and human nature generally, [38] is not disposed to lay up much for the future. The present material prosperity of America is really an exception to the general law of the world.

In the latter part of 1796, Winthrop Sargent went to Detroit and organized the county of Wayne, forming a part of the Indiana Territory until its division, 1805, when the Territory of Michigan was organized.