Father Marquette


In May of 1673, Father Marquette set out in company with Louis Joliet, to explore the Mississippi River. By mid-June, in two frail canoes of birchbark, and with five French servants, the explorers entered the great river at the mouth of the Wisconsin, and descended, with many interesting adventures, as far south as the mouth of the Arkansas River. Learning from the Indians the course and characteristics of the waterway from that point to the Gulf of Mexico, they returned northward by way of the Illinois and Chicago Rivers and the west shore of Lake Michigan, reaching the Jesuit mission at the De Pere rapids, Wisconsin, in September. Overcome by a malady contracted through exposure and hardship upon the long voyage, Marquette could not leave De Pere until October of 1674. He returned by boat to Illinois, where he desired to found a new mission. After a cold, dreary journey up the west coast of Lake Michigan, he was obliged because of ill health to pass the winter with two servants in a wretched cabin upon the Chicago River. In early spring he was able to proceed to some Indian villages upon the Illinois River, but soon was compelled by his ailment to return, this time intending to reach the old mission of St. Ignace, on the Mackinac Straits. Death overtook him while still 250 miles from his destination. Such, in outline, is the brief, simple tragedy of one of the most interesting characters in American history. Father Marquette was great as an explorer, as a "tamer of savages", and as a preacher; and he has left to us in the journals of his voyages of 1673 and 1674-75, two keenly interesting human documents. Whenever practicable, the present writer has drawn freely upon the annual Relations of the Jesuits, and upon Marquette's own journals. Two of Marquette's original maps are reproduced in this book.


Reuben Gold Thwaites


(1902) reprint, paper, index, 284 pp.

ISBN: 9780788422034