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Historic Diaries: Marquette and Joliet

Late May, 1673: At the Menominee Village

Editor's Note:

The missionary who had "preached the Gospel for several years, in consequence of which, there are several good Christians among them" was Father Jean Claude Allouez who had arrived in the vicinity in December of 1669 after four difficult years on Lake Superior. Marquette himself may have met some of the Menominee between Sept. 1669 and the summer of 1671, when he was at the mission of LaPointe, located somewhere between modern Ashland and Washburn, Wis.

The Menominee impressed many early French travelers by their dignity, physical stature, and peaceful nature. For more early accounts of them, enter "Menominee" in the search box at Turning Points in Wisconsin History and visit their Web site at

As we shall see, Marquette and Joliet did in fact encounter the hazards the Menominee warned them about here.

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Marquette's Journal: "The first nation that we came to was that of the Folle Avoine [Menominee Indians, probably near the mouth of the river of the same name, the modern border between Michigan and Wisconsin]. I entered their river, to go and visit these peoples to whom we have preached the Gospel for several years, in consequence of which, there are several good Christians among them. ... I told these peoples of the Folle Avoine of my design to go and discover those remote nations, in order to teach them the mysteries of our holy religion.

"They were greatly surprised to hear it, and did their best to dissuade me. They represented to me that I should meet nations who never show mercy to strangers, but break their heads without any cause; and that war was kindled between various peoples who dwelt upon our route, which exposed us to the further manifest danger of being killed by the bands of warriors who are ever in the field. They also said that the great river was very dangerous, when one does not know the difficult places; that it was full of horrible monsters, which devoured men and canoes together; that there was even a demon, who was heard from a great distance, who barred the way, and swallowed up all who ventured to approach him; finally that the heat was so excessive in those countries that it would inevitably cause our death.

"I thanked them for the good advice that they gave me, but told them that I could not follow it, because the salvation of souls was at stake, for which I would be delighted to give my life; that I scoffed at the alleged demon; that we would easily defend ourselves against those marine monsters; and, moreover, that we would be on our guard to avoid the other dangers with which they threatened us. After making them pray to God, and giving them some instruction, I separated from them."

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