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Historic Diaries: Marquette and Joliet

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  • What Became of Marquette & Joliet
    Marquette returned to Wisconsin in the fall of 1673 with his health badly damaged. He wintered at the mission of Saint-François-Xavier, near the present-day De Pere, and stayed there through the subsequent summer. As we saw, he had promised the...

  • Mapping the Expedition
    After Joliet and Marquette returned from their 1673 Mississippi voyage, Marquette spent the winter of 1673-74 at DePere and Joliet may have gone straight to Sault Ste. Marie. It was probably then that Marquette created this hand-drawn map of the...

  • September 30: Home to Green Bay
    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....

  • Late September, 1673: Sturgeon Bay Portage
    When Marquette and Joliet reached the Door Penninsula toward the end of September, 1673, they could save 150 miles of paddling by portaging about a mile and a half at modern Sturgeon Bay. A year later Marquette wrote this description...

  • Late September 1673: Milwaukee to Door County
    As their journey's end approached and the autumn winds blew in their faces, Marquette made no notes that have survived. It's possible that Joliet was recording this final leg of their voyage, but his papers were destroyed the following year....

  • September 1673: Chicago to Milwaukee
    During the third week of September, 1673, Marquette and Joliet made their way along the Lake Michigan shore north of Chicago. Marquette wrote no notes about it, but the difficulties along this stretch of Lake Michigan were described by Fr....

  • Mid-September, 1673: Chicago shoreline
    LaSalle's Narrative: "On the same day, the 2d of October [1679], he resumed his journey, sailing for four days along shore. There were high, steep bluffs running close to the lake, so that it was hard to find a landing-place....

  • September 13, 1673: Chicago
    Dablon's Interview with Joliet: �The place at which we entered the lake is a harbor, very convenient for receiving vessels and sheltering them from the wind. The river is wide and deep, abounding in catfish and sturgeon. Game is abundant...

  • Early September, 1673: Portaging toward Chicago
    In early Sept., Marquette and Joliet reached the end of the Illinois River, where it comes within a short distance of the Chicago River in what today are the Chicago suburbs. The two streams come so close that as early...

  • Early September,1673: At the Illinois village
    Marquette's 1673 Journal and 1675 Diary: "In the spring and during part of the summer there is only one portage of half a league. We found on it a village of Ilinois called Kaskasia, consisting of 74 cabins. They received...

  • End of August, 1673: in the Illinois country
    LaSalle traveled through the Illinois Country six years later, in December of 1679. While Marquette and Joliet make their way silently upstream, let's read his description of it (from American Journeys): "The Illinois River is navigable for canoes at a...

  • Aug. 25, 1673: Entering The Illinois River
    Marquette's Journal: "We have seen nothing like this river that we enter, as regards its fertility of soil, its prairies and woods; its cattle, elk, deer, wildcats, bustards [Canada geeese], swans, ducks, parroquets, and even beaver. There are many small...

  • Aug. 24, 1673: Passing the Missouri
    As they were about to turn their backs on the Mississippi forever, Marquette and Joliet once again passed the Missouri River. "I do not despair of discovering it some day," Fr. Marquette had written when he passed its mouth for...

  • Late August, 1673: the Tamaroa
    St. Cosme's 1699 Report: "On the following day about noon we reached the Tamarois. These savages had received timely warning of our arrival through some of the Kaoukias, who carried the news to them, and as a year before they...

  • August 1673: St. Louis
    Chouteau's narrative: "[Chouteau's step-father, Pierre de Laclede] set out from the Fort de Chartres in the month of December [1763], took with him a young man in his confidence [Chouteau], and examined all the ground from the Fort de Chartres...

  • August, 1673: the Kaskaskia
    Report of Etienne de Bourgmont, 1714: "Continuing up the Missicipi for 40 leagues higher to the right as you go up, 2 leagues up a little river, the tribe of the Kaskassia are settled, a tribe who are friends and...

  • August, 1673: between Cairo & St. Louis.
    Joutel's Journal, August 1687: "The 19th, we came to the Mouth of the River, call'd Houabache [the Ohio], said to come from the Country of the Iroquois, towards New England. That is a very fine River, its water extraordinary clear,...

  • Early August, 1673: Approaching the Ohio
    Marquette left us no details about this leg of the return trip. But nine years later, going downstream with LaSalle, in 1682, Henri Tonti ran into the Chickasaw in the same vicinity from which Marquette sent his letter on Aug....

  • Aug. 4, 1673: A Letter from Memphis
    Marquette's letter: Near the site of modern Memphis, Marquette and Joliet again encountered the Chickasaw (?) band whom they had met a month earlier. Knowing that they had communicated with Europeans, Marquette drafted the following letter in Latin and gave...

  • Late July, 1673: Against the Current in the Lower Mississippi
    Joutel's Journal, Aug. 1687: "It is certain our Toil was very great, for we were oblig'd to row in the Canoe, to help our Indians to stem the Current of the River, because we were going up, and it was...

  • July 25, 1673: What They Thought of their Voyage
    Before retracing Marquette and Joliet's route north, it may be useful to read their very different evaluations of the value of their voyage, as well as that of the head of the Jesuit order, Fr. Claude Dablon: Joliet, in a...

  • July 17, 1673: Starting Back
    Marquette's Journal: "[At the Quapaw village,] Monsieur Jolliet and I held another council, to deliberate upon what we should do -- whether we should push on, or remain content with the discovery which we had made. After attentively considering that...

  • Villages at the Arkansas River
    The lower Mississippi in 1687 and 1700 In the previous entry we found Marquette and Joliet among the Quapaw Indians at the mouth of the Arkansas River. In the wake of their voyage, the explorer LaSalle saw that a great...

  • July 16, 1673: At the Quapaw Village
    Marquette's Journal: "We embarked early on the following day, with our interpreter; a canoe containing ten [Michigamea] went a short distance ahead of us. When we arrived within half a league of the Akamsea [Arkansas River], we saw two canoes...

  • July, 1673: Signs of Europeans
    Marquette's Journal: "After proceeding about twenty leagues straight to the south, and a little less to the southeast, we found ourselves at a river called Ouaboukigou [the Ohio River], the mouth of which is at the 36th degree of latitude....

  • Early July, 1673: At the Missouri River
    Marquette's Journal: "While conversing about these monsters [see previous entry], sailing quietly in clear and calm water, we heard the noise of a rapid, into which we were about to run. I have seen nothing more dreadful. An accumulation of...

  • Early July, 1673: Monsters on the Cliffs
    Marquette's Journal: "We take leave of our Illinois at the end of June, about three o'clock in the afternoon. We embark in the sight of all the people, who admire our little canoes, for they have never seen any like...

  • Late June, 1673: A Feast with the Illinois Chief
    Marquette's Journal: "When we reached the village of the great captain, we saw him at the entrance of his cabin, between two old men, all three erect and naked, and holding their calumet turned toward the sun. He harangued us...

  • June 27, 1673: At the Illinois Village
    Marquette's Journal: "At the door of the cabin in which we were to be received was an old man, who awaited us in a rather surprising attitude, which constitutes a part of the ceremonial that they observe when they receive...

  • June 25, 1673. Contact!
    Marquette's Journal: "Finally, on the 25th of June, we perceived on the water's edge some tracks of men, and a narrow and somewhat beaten path leading to a fine prairie. We stopped to examine it; and, thinking that it was...

  • Late June, 1673: Buffalo and Other Mysterious Animals.
    Marquette's Journal: "Here we plainly saw that [the river's] aspect was completely changed. There are hardly any woods or mountains; the islands are more beautiful, and are covered with finer trees. We saw only deer and cattle, bustards [Canada geese],...

  • June 17, 1673: They Reach the Mississippi
    Marquette's Journal: "Here we are, then, on this so renowned river, all of whose peculiar features I have endeavored to note carefully. The Missisipi River takes its rise in various lakes in the country of the northern nations. It is...

  • Mid-June, 1673: Down the Wisconsin. Origin of the Name "Wisconsin"
    Marquette's Journal: "The river on which we embarked is called Meskousing. It is very wide; it has a sandy bottom, which forms various shoals that render its navigation very difficult. It is full of islands covered with vines. On the...

  • ca. June 12, 1673: Crossing the Portage
    Marquette's Journal: "[Joliet] informed [the Mascoutens] that we needed two guides to show us the way; and we gave them a present, by it asking them to grant us the guides. To this they very civilly consented; and they also...

  • At the Mascouten Village
    [In the spring of 1670 Fr. Claude Allouez had visited the same town that Marquette described in the previous entry; here is part of his description, from the Jesuit Relations, volume 54, pages 226-233] Allouez' report: "On the thirtieth [of...

  • June 7-10, 1673: At the Mascouten Village
    Marquette's Journal: "Here we are at the Maskoutens. This word may, in Algonquin, mean "the Fire Nation," which, indeed, is the name given to this tribe. Here is the limit of the discoveries which the French have made, for they...

  • Early June, 1673: Up the Fox River
    Marquette's Journal: "We left this bay to enter the river that discharges into it; it is very beautiful at its mouth, and flows gently; it is full of bustards [Canada geese], ducks, teal, and other birds, attracted thither by the...

  • Fr. Claude Dablon at Green Bay
    [Fr. Marquette was by no means the first writer to visit Green Bay, and while he spends his time at the DePere mission, we supplement his journal account with this description by Fr. Claude Dablon, who arrived there three years...

  • Late May, 1673: At Green Bay
    Marquette's Journal: "Embarking then in our canoes, we [left the Menominee and] arrived shortly afterward at the bottom of the Bay des Puants, where our Fathers labor successfully for the conversion of these peoples, over two thousand of whom...

  • Late May, 1673: Wild Rice
    Marquette's Journal: "The wild oat, whose name they [the Menominee] bear because it is found in their country, is a sort of grass, which grows naturally in the small rivers with muddy bottoms, and in swampy places. It greatly...

  • Late May, 1673: At the Menominee Village
    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...

  • May 17, 1673: Setting Out
    Marquette's Journal: "Accordingly, on the 17th day of May, 1673, we started from the mission of St. Ignace at Michilimakinac, where I then was. The joy that we felt at being selected for this expedition animated our courage, and rendered...

  • Spring 1673: Making Preparations
    Marquette's Journal: "We were not long in preparing all our equipment, although we were about to begin a voyage, the duration of which we could not foresee. Indian corn, with some smoked meat, constituted all our provisions; with these we...

  • About the Documents Given Here
    Follow this blog through the summer as we trace the route of Marquette and Joliet in their own words. Two or three times a week from May to September, we'll post excerpts from their writings as they made their way...

  • Chronology of the Voyage
    May 13, 1673, Louis Jolliet leaves Sault Ste. Marie for St. Ignace, at the head of Lake Michigan. May 17, Jolliet and Marquette depart from St. Ignace with five other Frenchmen. [June 1, at the Menominee village near Marinette,...



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