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Historic Diaries: Marquette and Joliet

September 30: Home to Green Bay

Editor's Note:

In the next entry, we'll examine the mapping of the expedition. Next week we'll conclude this blog by giving you contemporary descriptions of what happened to Marquette and Joliet after the expedition of 1673 was over.

After portaging into Green Bay, Marquette and Joliet entered the Fox River and headed upstream to the Mission of St. Francis Xavier, alongside the first rapids at DePere. When they finally arrived there, the little compound was almost certainly empty.

The Jesuit Relations (volume 59, pages 67-69) tell us that "The Fathers hardly ever remain there for they are all engaged in the Missions, to which they devote all their time, that they may solidly establish Christianity therein." Confirming this, Allouez wrote much about his activities in 1673 concerning his travels among the Indians that summer and fall, but he made no mention of having seen Marquette and Joliet. His assistant, Fr. Andre, wrote that he had spent most of the year traveling among the Menominee and Potawatomi and he, too, makes no mention of meeting Marquette and Joliet. [Jesuit Relations (volume 58, pages 267-279)]

But the following year, in a letter of October 24, 1674, Fr. Claude Dablon wrote (in Jesuit Relations vol. 59, page 69) that Fr. Marquette had spent the previous year with Allouez and Andre at Mission St. Francis Xavier:

"To this house are attached: Father Allouez, that holy and true missionary; Father Marquette, of whom I have just spoken; and Father Louis Andr´┐Ż, whose indefatigable constancy and assiduity produce abundant fruits. This year, Father Silvy was sent to their assistance, with one of our lay Brethren, who was to take charge of that house as regards temporal matters."

Joliet is thought by scholars to have left Green Bay soon for Sault St. Marie, where he had left his brother in charge of his fur-trading operation. Heavily in debt and absent for much of the year, he would no doubt have hurried back to his base of operations to learn the state of his affairs.

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