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La Salle rebuilds Fort Frontenac.
and ministered to them until 1675. On the 18th of May, in that year, as he was passing with his boatmen up Lake Michigan, he proposed to land at the mouth of a stream running from the peninsula, and perform mass. Leaving his men with the canoe, he went a little way apart to pray, they waiting for him. As much time passed; and he did not return, they called to mind that he had said something of his death being at hand, and anxiously went to seek him. They found him dead; where he had been praying, he had died. The canoe-men dug a grave near the mouth of the stream, and buried him in the sand. Here his body was liable to be exposed by a rise of water; and would have been so, had not the river retired, and left the missionary's grave in peace. Charlevoix, who visited the spot some fifty years afterward, found that the waters had forced a passage at the most difficult point, had cut through a bluff, rather than cross the lowland where that grave was. The river is called Marquette. *
While the simple-hearted and true Marquette was pursuing his labors of love in the West, two men, differing widely from him, and each other, were preparing to follow in his footsteps, and perfect the discoveries so well begun by him and the Sieur Joliet. These were Robert de la Salle and Louis Hennepin.
La Salle was a native of Normandy, and was brought up, as we learn from Charlevoix,t among the Jesuits; but, having lost, by some unknown cause, his patrimony, and being of a stirring and energetic disposition, he left his home to seek fortune among the cold and dark regions of Canada. This was about the year 1670. Here he mused long upon the pet project of those ages, a short-cut to China and the East; and, gaining his daily bread, we know not how,-was busily planning an expedition up the great lakes, and so across the continent to the Pacific, when Marquette returned from the Mississippi. At once the hot mind of La Salle received from his and his companion's
Charlevoix's Letters, Vol. II. p. 96. New France, Vol. VI. p. 20. Marquette spells the name of the great western river, “ Mississipy;" Hennepin made it “Meschasipi ;” others have written “Meschasabe,” &c. &c. There is great confusion in all the Indian oral names; we have “ Kikabeaux,” “Kikapous,” “Quicapous ;” “Outtoauets,” “Outnovas;” “Miamis,” “Oumamis ;” and so of nearly all the nations. Our “Sioux," Charlevoix tells us, is the last syllable of “ Nadouessioux,“ which is written, by Hennepin, “Nadoussion” and “Nadouessious,” in his “ Louisiana,” and “Nadouessans,” in his “ Nouvelle Decouverte.” The Shawanese are always called the “Chouanons,”
+ Charlevoix's New France, Paris edition of 1744, Vol. II. p. 263.
1678. narrations, the idea, that, by following the Great River northward, or by turning up some of the streams which joined it from the westward, his aim might be certainly and easily gained. Instantly he went towards his object. He applied to Frontenac, then governor-general of Canada, laid before him an outline of his views, dim but gigantic, and, as a first step, proposed to rebuild of stone, and with improved fortifications, Fort Frontenac upon Lake Ontario, a post to which he knew the governor felt all the affection due to a namesake. Frontenac entered warmly into his views. He saw, that, in La Salle's suggestion, which was to connect Canada with the Gulf of Mexico by a chain of forts upon the vast navigable lakes and rivers which bind that country so wonderfully together, lay the germ of a plan, which might give unmeasured power to France, and unequalled glory to himself, under whose administration he fondly hoped all would be realized. He advised La Salle, therefore, to go to the King of France, to make known his project, and ask for the royal patronage and protection; and, to forward his suit, gave him letters to the great Colbert, minister of finance and marine.
With a breast full of hope and bright dreams, in 1675, the penniless adventurer sought his monarch; his plan was approved by the minister, to whom he presented Frontenac's letter; La Salle was made a Chevalier; was invested with the seignory of Fort Catarocouy or Frontenac, upon condition he would rebuild it; and received from all the first noblemen and princes, assurances of their good-will and aid. Returning to Canada he labored diligently at his fort till the close of 1677, when he again sailed for France with news of his progress. Colbert and his son, Seignelay, now minister of marine, once more received him with favor, and, at their instance, the King granted new letters patent with new privileges. His mission having sped so well, on the 14th of July, 1678, La Salle, with his lieutenant, Tonti, an Italian, and thirty men, sailed again from Rochelle for Quebec, where they arrived on the 15th of September; and, after a few days' stay, proceeded to Fort Frontenac.*
Here was quietly working, though in no quiet spirit, the rival and co-laborer of La Salle, Louis Hennepin, a Franciscan friar, of the Recollet variety; a man full of ambition to be a great discoverer; daring, hardy, energetic, vain, and self-exaggerating,
Charlevoix's New France, 1744, Vol. II. p. 264, 266. Sparks' life of La Salle. American Biography, new series, 1. 10 to 15.
La Salle at Niagara.
almost to madness; and, it is feared, more anxious to advance his own holy and unholy ends than the truth. He had in Europe lurked behind doors, he tells us, that he might hear sailors spin their yarns touching foreign lands; and he profited, it would seem, by their instructions. He came to Canada when La Salle returned from his first visit to the court, and had, to a certain extent, prepared himself, by journeying among the Iroquois, for bolder travels into the wilderness. Having been appointed by his religious superiors to accompany the expedition which was about to start for the extreme West, under La Salle, Hennepin was in readiness for him at Fort Frontenac, where he arrived, probably, some time in October, 1678.*
The Chevalier's first step was to send forward men to prepare the minds of the Indians along the lakes for his coming, and to soften their hearts by well-chosen gifts and words; and also, to pick up peltries, beaver skins, and other valuables; and, upon the 18th of November, 1678, he himself embarked in a little vessel of ten tons, to cross Lake Ontario. This, says one of his chroniclers, was the first ship that sailed upon that fresh water
The wind was strong and contrary, and four weeks nearly were passed in beating up the little distance between Kingston and Niagara. Having forced their brigantine as far towards the Falls as was possible, our travellers landed; built some magazines with difficulty, for at times the ground was frozen so hard that they could drive their stakes, or posts, into it only by first
Hennepin's New Discovery, Utrecht edition of 1697, p. 70.-Charlevoix's New France, Vol. II. pp. 266. We give the names of the lakes and rivers as they appear in the early travels.
Lake Ontario was also Lake Frontenac.
Lake Erie, was Erike, Erige, or Erie, from a nation of Eries destroyed by the Iroquois ; they lived where the State of Ohio now is (Charlevoix's New France, Vol. II. p. 62 ;) it was also Lake of Conti.
Lake Huron, was Karegnondi in early times (Map of 1656 ;) and also, Lake of Orleans.
Lake Michigan, was Lake of Puans (Map of 1656 ;) also, of the Illinois, or Illinese, or Illinouacks; also Lake Mischigonong, and Lake of the Dauphin.
Lake Superior was Lake Superieur, meaning the Upper, not the Larger Lake-also, Lake of Conde.
Green Bay, was Baie des Puans.
Illinois river, in Hennepin's Louisiana, and Joutel's Journal, is River Seignelay; and the Mississippi river, in those works is River Colbert; and was by La Salle, called River St. Louis.
Ohio river was Ouabouskigou, Ouabachi, Ouabache, Oyo, Ouye, Belle Riviere.
Missouri river, was Pekitanoni, Riviere des Osages et Massourites; and by Coxe is called Yellow River.
La Salle in Lake Michigan.
pouring upon it boiling water; and then made acquaintance with the Iroquois of the village of Niagara, upon Lake Erie. Not far from this village, La Salle founded a second fort, upon which he set his men to work; but, finding the Iroquois jealous, he gave it up for a time, and merely erected temporary fortifications for his magazines; and then, leaving orders for a new ship to be built, he returned to Fort Frontenac, to forward stores, cables, and anchors for his forthcoming vessel.
Through the hard and cold winter days, the frozen river lying before them “like a plain paved with fine polished marble," some of his men hewed and hammered upon the timbers of the Griffin, as the great bark was to be named, while others gathered furs and skins, or sued for the good-will of the bloody savages amid whom they were quartered; and all went merrily until the 20th of January, 1679. On that day, the Chevalier arrived from below; not with all his goods, however, for his misfortunes had commenced. The vessel in which his valuables had been embarked was wrecked through the bad management of the pilots; and, though the more important part of her freight was saved, much of her provision went to the bottom. During the winter, however, a very nice lot of furs was scraped together, with which, early in the spring of 1679, the commander returned to Fort Frontenac to get another outfit; while Tonti was sent forward to scour the lake coasts, muster together the men who had been sent before, collect skins, and see all that was to be
In thus coming and going, buying and trading, the summer of this year slipped away, and it was the 7th of August before the Griffin was ready to sail. Then, with Te-Deums, and the discharge of arquebuses, she began her voyage up Lake Erie.
Over Lake Erie, through the strait beyond, across St. Clair, and into Huron, the voyagers passed most happily. In Huron they were troubled by storms, dreadful as those upon the ocean, and were at last forced to take refuge in the road of Michillimackinac. This was upon the 27th of August. At this place, which is described as one of prodigious fertility,” La Salle remained until the middle of September, founded a fort there, and sent men therefrom in various directions to spy out the state of the land. He then went on to Green Bay, the “Baie des Puans,” of the French; and, finding there a large quantity of skins and furs collected for him, he determined to load the Griffin therewith, and send her back to Niagara. This was
La Salle at Peoria Lake.
done with all promptness; and, upon the 18th of September, she was despatched under the charge of a pilot, supposed to be competent and trustworthy, while the Norman himself, with fourteen men, proceeded up Lake Michigan, paddling along its shores in the most leisurely manner; Tonti, meanwhile, having been sent to find stragglers, with whom he was to join the main body at the head of the lake.
From the 19th of September till the 1st of November, the time was consumed by La Salle in his voyage up the sea in question. On the day last named, he arrived at the mouth of the river of the Miamis, or St. Josephs, as it is now called.* Here he built a fort and remained for nearly a month, when hearing nothing from his Griffin, he determined to push on before it was too late.
On the 3d of Decernber, therefore, having mustered all his men, thirty working men and three monks, he started again upon his great voyage and glorious undertaking." +
By a short portage they passed to the Illinois, or Kankakee, and “falling down the said river by easy journeys, the better to observe that country,” about the last of December, reached a village of the Illinois Indians, containing some five hundred cabins, but, at that moment, no inhabitants. The Sieur La Salle, being in great want of bread-stuffs, took advantage of this absence of the Indians to help himself to a sufficiency of maize, of which large quantities were found hidden in holes under the huts or wigwams. This village was, as near as we can judge, not far from the spot marked on our maps as Rock Fort, in La Salle county, Illinois. The corn being got aboard, the voyagers betook themselves to the stream again, and toward evening on the 4th of January, 1680, fell into a lake, which must have been the lake of Peoria. Here the natives were met with in large numbers, but they were gentle and kind, and having spent some time with them, La Salle determined in that neighborhood to build another fort, for he found that already some of the adjoining tribes were trying to disturb the good feeling which existed; and, moreover, some of his own men were disposed to complain. A spot upon rising ground, near the river, was accordingly
* See on this point, North American Review, January 1839, No. CII. p. 74. + Charlevoix, New France, (Vol. II. p. 269,) tells us, that La Salle returned from the fort of the Miamis to Fort Frontenac; but Hennepin, and the journal published as Tonti's, agree that he went on, and tell a more consistent story than the historian. See, also, Sparks' life.