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stated. The rest of the narrative is quoted from Mason's "Chapters from Illinois
History." "His box of papers, containing his map and report, was lost, and he
himself was rescued with difficulty. Two of his companions were drowned ; one
of these was the slave presented 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."

DANGERS AND WONDERS OF THE JOURNEY

On the departure of the party, Marquette promised the Indians to return to
them the next year and instruct them. They embarked in the sight of the peo-
ple, who had followed them to the landing to the number of some six hundred. The
people admired the canoes and gave them a friendly farewell. We cannot fail to
note the harmony which existed between the two leaders on this expedition, in such
striking contrast with the bickerings and disagreements observed in the accounts
of other expeditions of a like nature. For there is no severer test of the friendly

8 Note: The spelling "Potawatomi" is now authorized by the U. S. Bureau of Ethnology,
though, the older spelling of the name has been retained in this work as being more familiar
to readers.



6 CHICAGO: ITS HISTORY AND ITS BUILDERS

relations between officers of an exploring expedition than a long absence in regions
beyond the bounds of civilization. Joliet and Marquette were friends long before
they started together on this journey, and both were single minded in their pur-
pose to accomplish its objects. No more lovely character appears in the history
of western adventure than that of Marquette, a man who endeared himself to all
whom he came in contact with, and made himself an example for all time. Joliet,
in turn, "was the foremost explorer of the West," says Mason, "a man whose
character and attainments and public services made him a man of high distinction
in his own day."

Continuing their journey the voyagers passed the mouth of the Illinois, without
special notice, but when in the vicinity of the place where the city of Alton now
stands, and while skirting some high rocks, they "saw upon one of them two
painted monsters which at first made them afraid." The paintings were "as large
as a calf," and were so well done that they could not believe that any savage had
done the work. Joutel saw them some eleven years later, but could not see anything
particularly terrifying in them, though the Indians who were with him were much
impressed. St. Cosme passed by them in 1699, but they were then almost effaced;
and when, in 1867, Parkman visited the Mississippi, he passed the rock on which
the paintings appeared, but the rock had been partly quarried away and all traces
of the pictures had disappeared.

They had scarcely recovered from their fears before they found themselves in
the presence of a new danger, for they heard the noise of what at first they sup-
posed were rapids ahead of them; and directly they came in sight of the turbulent
waters of the Missouri river, pouring its flood into the Mississippi. Large trees,
branches and even "floating islands" were borne on its surface, and its "water was
very muddy." The name Missouri which was afterwards applied to this river,
means in the Indian language "muddy water," and the river is often spoken of to
this day as the "Big Muddy." They passed in safety, however, and continued on
their journey in good spirits and with thankful hearts.

FURTHER ENCOUNTERS WITH SAVAGES

They now began to think that the general course of the river indicated that it
would discharge itself into the Gulf of Mexico, though they were still hoping to
find that it would lead into the South Sea, toward California. They passed the
beautiful plateau, where the city of St. Louis was afterwards built, and reached
the mouth of the Ohio; thus having coasted the entire western boundary of what is
now the State of Illinois. As they passed the confluence of the Ohio and the Mis-
sissippi, the shores changed their character. They found the banks lined with ex-
tensive fields of canebrakes; mosquitoes filled the air, and the excessive heat
of the sun obliged them to seek protection from its rays by stretching an awning
of cloth over their canoes. While they were thus floating down the current of the
river, some savages appeared on the banks armed with guns, thus indicating that
they were in communication with Europeans, probably the Spaniards of P'lorida.
Just as in recent times, the explorer Stanley, while floating down the Congo, knew
that he was approaching European settlements by finding the natives armed with
muskets instead of the rude weapons of the tribes of the interior. The savages at



CHICAGO: ITS HISTORY AND ITS BUILDERS 7

first assumed a. threatening attitude, but Marquette offered his "plumed calumet,"
so called because of the feathers it was adorned with, which the Illinois chief had
given him, and the strangers were at once received as friends. These savages told
them that they were within ten days' journey of the sea, and witli their hopes thus
raised they soon resumed their course.

They continued down past the monotonous banks of this part of the river for
some three hundred miles from the place where they had met the Indians just
spoken of, when they were suddenly startled by the war-whoops of a numerous
band of savages who showed every sign of hostility. The wonderful calumet was held
up by Marquette, but at first without producing any effect. Missiles were flying,
but fortunately doing no damage, and some of the savages plunged into the river
in order to grasp their canoes ; when presently some of the older men, having per-
ceived the calumet steadily held aloft, called back their young men and made reas-
suring signs and gestures. They found one who could speak a little Illinois; and,
on learning that the Frenchmen were on their way to the sea, the Indians escorted
them some twenty-five miles, until they reached a village called Akamsea. Here
they were well received, but the dwellers there warned them against proceeding,
on account of the warlike tribes below who would bar their way.

Joliet and Marquette here held a council whether to push on, or to remain
content with the discoveries they had already made. They judged that they were
within two or three days' journey from the sea, though we know that they were
still some seven hundred miles distant from it. They decided however, that beyond
a doubt the Mississippi discharged its waters into the Gulf of Mexico, and not to
the East in Virginia, or to the West in California. They considered that in going
on thej r would ex-pose themselves to the risk of losing the results of their voyage,
and would, without a doubt, fall into the hands of the Spaniards, who would de-
tain them as captives. The upshot of their deliberations was the decision that they
would begin the return voyage at once. The exploration of the river from this
point to the sea was not accomplished until nine years later, when that bold ex-
plorer, La Salle, passed entirely down the river to its mouth ; where he set up a
column and buried a plate of lead, bearing the arms of France; took possession of
the country for the French King, and named it Louisiana. 11

DECISION TO MAKE THE RETURN JOURNEY

The party were now at the mouth of the Arkansas, having passed more than
one hundred miles below the place where De Soto crossed it in the previous cen-
tury, had sailed eleven hundred miles in the thirty days since they had been on
the great river, an average of about thirty-seven miles a day, and had covered nine
degrees of latitude. On the 17th of July, they began their return journey, just one
month to a day after they had entered the river, and two months after they had
left the mission at St. Ignace.

The voyage up the river in the midsummer heat was one of great difficulty, but
steadily they "won their slow way northward," passing the mouth of the Ohio and
that of the Missouri ; until at length they reached the mouth of the Illinois river.
Here they left the Mississippi and entered the Illinois, being greatly charmed

Parkman: p.- 286.



8 CHICAGO: ITS HISTORY AND ITS BUILDERS

"with its placid waters, its shady forests, and its rich plains, grazed by bison and
deer." They passed through the wide portion of the river, afterwards known as
Peoria lake, and reached its upper waters, where, on the south bank, rises the re-
markable cliff, since called "Starved Rock." They were thus "the first white men
to see the territory now known as the State of Illinois." 10

SETTLEMENTS AND LANDMARKS OF THE MISSISSIPPI

On the opposite bank of the river, where the town of Utica now stands, they
found a village of Illinois Indians, called Kaskaskia, consisting of seventy-four
cabins. It should here be stated that the Indians removed this village, some seven-
teen years later, to the south part of the present State of Illinois, on the Kaskaskia
river, where it became noted in the early annals of the west. The travelers were
well received here, and, on their departure, a chief and a number of young men of
the village joined the party for the purpose of guiding them to the Lake of the
Illinois, that is, Lake Michigan. A few miles above they passed the place where
the present city of Ottawa is situated, and where the Fox river of Illinois flows
into the Illinois river from the north.

The course of the river was now almost directly east and west, and the voy-
agers could not fail to notice the ranges of bluffs flanking the bottom lands through
which the stream meanders in its flow. This broad channel once carried a mighty
volume of water from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi, at a time when the gla-
ciers were subsiding and the lake level was some thirty feet higher than in historic
times.

None of the countries they had seen compared with those they beheld while
voyaging up this river "as regards its fertility of soil, its prairies and woods;"
and they found it "more beautiful than France."

La Salle at a later time described the country 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 lit-
tle trouble all that is needed for the support of flourishing colonies." Indeed, one
is reminded when reading these enthusiastic descriptions of the country by the
early explorers, of the words of that stirring song which we Illinoisans love so
well, celebrating the glories of the land in which we live, beginning:

"By thy riivers ever flowing,

Illinois, Illinois;

By thy prairies verdant growing,
Illinois, Illinois."

The travelers soon arrived at the confluence of the Desplaines and the Kanka-
kee rivers which here, at a point some forty-five miles from Lake Michigan, unite
to form the Illinois river. Under the guidance of their Indian friends they chose
the route by way of the Desplaines as the shortest to the lake ; and after proceeding
some thirteen miles in a northeasterly direction, they came in view of that remark-
able natural feature afterwards called Mount Joliet, now almost entirely vanished

10 Address of L. E. Jones, in Evanston Historical Society Records.



CHICAGO: ITS HISTORY AND ITS BUILDERS 9

from view owing to the steady work of gravel diggers continued over several gen-
erations. Although not mentioned by Marquette in his journal, it was described
by St. Cosme when he passed this point a few years later. He notes a tradition
among the Indians regarding it, "that at the time of a great deluge one of their
ancestors escaped, and that this little mountain is his canoe which he turned over
there." The party soon after passed the site of the present flourishing city of
Joliet, and began the laborious ascent of the rapids a few miles above. 11 On reach-
ing the place where the portage into the waters tributary to Lake Michigan was to
be made, their Indian guides aided them in carrying their canoes over the "half
league" of dry land intervening. As this portage is much longer than that, it is
likely that the "half league" mentioned by Marquette referred to one stage of the
portage, between the Desplaines and the first of the two shallow lakes which they
found there and on which they, no doubt, floated their canoes several miles on their
way to the waters of the south branch of the Chicago river.

They were now at the summit of the "divide" between the two great water
systems of the west. The river they had left had its source more than a hundred
miles to the north of the portage, and was a tributary of the Mississippi, eventually
reaching the Gulf of Mexico; while the waters of the south branch of the Chicago
river, which they were about to enter, reach the sea at the mouth of the St. Law-
rence. Here their Indian friends left them while they made their way down the
five miles that yet intervened before they would reach Lake Michigan. Groves of
trees lined its banks, beyond which a level plain extended to the margin of the
lake. This level plain was the only portion of the "Grand Prairie" of Illinois
which anywhere reached the shore of Lake Michigan, a space limited to some four
miles south of the mouth of the Chicago river. They were not long in coming into
view of that splendid body of water which they were approaching, and must have
beheld its vast extent with the feelings of that "watcher of the skies" so beau-
tifully written of by Keats, "when a new planet swims into his ken."

SITE OF CHICAGO FIRST VISITED BY WHITE MEN

No date is given by Marquette in his journal of the arrival of the party at
this point, but it was probably early in September of the year 1673 that the
site of the present city of Chicago was first visited by white men. 12 It is quite
possible that coureurs de bois ("wood-rangers") may have visited the spot while
among the Indian tribes, but no record was ever made of such visits before the
time that Joliet and Marquette arrived upon the scene, and made known the
discovery to the world. The mouth of the river is shown on all the early maps
as at a point a quarter of a mile south of the present outlet, owing to a long sand
spit that ran out from the north shore of the river near its confluence with the
lake, which has long since been dredged away. This was Joliet's first and only
view of the Chicago river and its banks, as he never passed this way again. Mar-
quette's later voyage to the "Chicago portage" will be mentioned in another chapter.

The stimulating breath of the lake breezes which met them as they issued forth

11 Shea: "Early Mississippi Voyages," p. 56.

12 Blanchard: "History of the Northwest," I, 20.



10 CHICAGO: ITS HISTORY AND ITS BUILDERS

upon the blue waters of the "Lake of the Illinois," must have thrilled the explorers
with feeling of joy and triumph, having escaped so many dangers and won such
imperishable renown. Turning the prows of their canoes northward, they passed
the wooded shores still in their pristine loveliness. The emerald hues of the
prairies which they had left behind them, were now replaced by the mottled foliage
of the early autumn, and the waves breaking on the beach of sand and gravel must
have impressed them deeply as they proceeded on their way. The shores began
to rise and form bluffs as they passed the regularly formed coast on their course. Few
and unimportant are the streams that flow into the lake from the narrow water 1
shed of the west shore, and the bluffs are occasionally broken by ravines running
back far beyond the range of vision.

Some thirteen miles north of the outlet of the Chicago river they pass that high
point of land where now stands a lofty lighthouse, called Gross Point, and which
lake sailors of later times were wont to call by the romantic name of "Beauty's ]
Eyebrow." One of our local poets, in referring to this spot, describes it thus:

"A dreadful point when furious north winds roar,
And Michigan's soon-roused, fierce billows roll ;
But Uncle Sam, with wise and prudent care
Has placed a far-seen light as signal there."

JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY SAFELY ENDED

Throughout their journey the voyagers gaze on scenes, familiar now to millions
of people, then unknown to civilized man. They see the gradual increase in the
height of the bluffs, reaching an elevation at the present town of Lake Forest
of one hundred feet or more above the surface of the lake. No comments are made
regarding the events of this part of the journey by Marquette in his journal, and
it most likely was made without special incident. He closes his narrative by saying
that "at the end of September, we reached the Bay des Puants [Green Bay], from
which we started at the beginning of June."

JOLIET THE HEAD OF THE EXPEDITION

The world renowned voyage of Joliet and Marquette thus ended at the mission
of St. Francis Xavier, where the village of De Pere, Wisconsin, now stands. The
explorers had traveled nearly twenty-five hundred miles in about one hundred and
twenty days, a daily average of nearly twenty-one miles, had discovered the Mis-
sissippi and the Chicago rivers, as well at the site of the present city of Chicago ;
and had brought back their party without any serious accident or the loss of a
single man. Here they remained during the fall and winter, and in the summer,
of the following year (1674), Joliet set out for Quebec to make a report of his
discoveries to the governor of Canada. It was while nearing Montreal on his
journey that his canoe was upset in the rapids, his Indians drowned, and all his
records and a map that he had carefully prepared were lost. Joliet never returned
to the west. He was rewarded for his splendid services with a grant of some
islands in the lower St. Lawrence, including the extensive island of Anticosti, and



i/




By permission of Chicago Historical Society



MARQUICTTE'S MAP

Showing the western part of Lake Michigan and route of Joliet's expedition of dis-

. covery in 107:5. Joliet and Marquette began their journey at Green Bay, proceeded up the

Fox Klver and down the Wisconsin Hiver ; followed the Mississippi down as far as the

mouth of the Arkansas Hiver, and returned by way of the Illinois River and the Des

I'laines-Chicago I'ortage.



CHICAGO: ITS HISTORY AND ITS BUILDERS 11

died in 1700. As regards the credit due Joliet for the discovery made, the late
Mr. Edward G. Mason in his valuable work entitled, "Chapters from Illinois
History," says:

"Popular error assigned the leadership of the expedition which discovered the
Upper Mississippi and the Illinois valley to Marquette, who never held or claimed
it. Every reliable authority demonstrates the mistake, and yet the delusion con-
tinues. But as Marquette himself says that Joliet was sent to discover new coun-
tries, and he to preach the gospel ; as Count Frontenac reports to the home authori-
ties that Talon selected Joliet to make the discovery ; as Father Dablon confirms
this statement; and as the Canadian authorities gave rewards to Joliet alone as the
sole discoverer, we may safely conclude that to him belongs the honor of the achieve-
ment. He actually accomplished that of which Champlain and Nicollet and Radis-
son 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 Joliet."

Mr. Reuben Gold Thwaites, in his "Story of Wisconsin," says that Marquette,
"though merely a subordinate in the expedition, has been accorded by most writers
far greater credit than its leader. It is his statue, rather than Joliet's, which the
Wisconsin legislature voted to place in the capitol at Washington; and while Mar-
quette has a county and a town in Wisconsin named in his honor, Joliet has not
even been remembered in the list of crossroad postoffices. Illinois has been more
considerate of historical truth."

It seems a strange omission, however, that here in Chicago we have no street
or avenue named for Joliet, no building, park or monument to commemorate his
name and splendid services. Marquette has fared better in this regard in having
a stately building, situated on one of our principal streets, named in his honor;
and, owing largely to the simplicity and sincerity of his character, his memory is
held in high and affectionate regard by the people of Chicago. The honor that
accrues from such memorials as we have spoken of are greatly in favor of La Salle,
a man whose memory indeed is worthy of such distinction, but who preferred an-
other route to the Mississippi on his first journey, and when at a later time he did
pass over the Chicago portage he reported disparagingly upon Joliet's suggestion
of a navigable waterway.

F'ather Marquette was destined never to return to the French colonial capital.
His health had become impaired on account of the hardships he had suffered dur-
ing the return journey on the Mississippi, and he remained nearly a year at St.
Francis Xavier in an effort to recover and prepare himself for another journey
to the Illinois Country, as he had promised his Indian friends he would do. How
he again visited the portage between the Chicago and Desplaines rivers in the
following year, and spent the winter there, will be related in the succeeding chap-
ter of this history.



CHAPTER II

FRENCH DOMINATION 1671

INCREASE IN FRENCH TERRITORY MARQUETTE's SECOND JOURNEY TO ILLINOIS COUN-
TRY WINTER QUARTERS OF MARQUETTE AT KASKASKIA DEATH OF FATHER MAR-

QUETTE FATHER ALLOUEZ A MISSIONARY TO INDIANS COMING OF LA SALLE

TONTY PREPARATIONS FOR JOURNEY HARDSHIPS ENCOUNTERED FORT CREVE-

COEUR ESTABLISHED LA SALLE RETURNS TO CANADA TONTY FORCED OUT OF ILLI-
NOIS COUNTRY LA SALLE RETURNS WITH SUPPLIES EXPLORES THE MISSISSIPPI

GOES IN SEARCH OF TONTY THE EXPLORERS MEET A THIRD START MADE GULF

OF MEXICO REACHED FORT ST. LOUIS ESTABLISHED LA SALLE AT CHICAGO HIS

APPEAL TO DRENCH COURT TONTY FINDS A FORT AT CHICAGO LA SALLE COMES

FROM FRANCE DEATH OF LA SALLE TONTY IN SEARCH OF LA SALLE THE FATE

OF TONTY HISTORICAL AUTHORITIES.

BEGINNING OF FRENCH SOVEREIGNTY

discovery of the Illinois Country and the western shore of Lake
Michigan brought a large accession of territory under the dominion of
the French crown. In 1671, two years previous to the discovery of the
Illinois Country, St. Lusson had taken possession, with much ceremony
at Sault Ste. Marie, of all the countries then occupied by the French,
as well as of countries "which may be discovered hereafter." l The Illinois Coun-
try was thenceforth included within the scope of the French authority and was
part and parcel of the Kingdom of France ruled over at that time by the Grand
Monarch, Louis XIV.

MARQUETTE'S RETURN TO THE ILLINOIS COUNTRY

Early in the summer of 1674, that is, about seven or eight months after his
return to Green Bay from the voyage described in the previous chapter, Joliet
started on his journey to Quebec to inform the authorities regarding the new coun-
tries he had found. As already related, Joliet met with disaster on this journey,
and had it not been for the journal kept by Marquette we should have had no
detailed record of the explorations of the previous year, though Joliet gave some
oral accounts afterwards, records of which have only in recent years come to
light. 2 Later in the same year Marquette, having recovered from the poor health
he had been suffering, received "orders to proceed to the mission of La Conception

i Parkman's "La Salle," p. 43.

-Mason: "Chapters from Illinois History," p. 30.

12




RtnDBROKZt TABLET ON THt
RlVER-SlPCQrTlMSW.




From a photograph taken for this history

MEMORIAL TO MARQUETTE AND JOLIET AT THE INTER-
SECTION OF ROBEY STREET AND
THE SOUTH BRANCH



CHICAGO: ITS HISTORY AND ITS BUILDERS 13

among the Illinois." ' On the 25th of October, 167-1, accordingly, he sat out with
two companions, named Pierre and Jacques; one of whom had been with him
on his former journey of discovery. 4 From this journey Marquette was destined
never to return; and indeed it would seem to have been a most perilous risk for
him to have taken considering his physical condition, having only recently been
"cured," as he says, of his "ailment," and starting at a time of year when he
would soon be overtaken by the winter season. But no toils or exposure could deter
those devoted missionaries of the cross from engaging in any undertaking which
seemed to hold out the least prospect of saving souls, as the history of those times



Online LibraryJ. Seymour (Josiah Seymour) CurreyChicago: its history and its builders, a century of marvelous growth (Volume v.1) → online text (page 3 of 59)