A priest journeys to a Wisconsin village of exiled Hurons in 1661.

Letters, 1661, on impoverished Huron refugees on Lake Superior.


When Iroquois attacks drove his small flock of converts 1,000 miles west, Fr. Rene Menard followed after them and became the first Jesuit priest to reach Wisconsin. After wintering on Keweenaw Bay, where he wrote these letters about conditions among the refugees, he set out for a village of exiled Hurons near the headwaters of the Black River. Modern scholars believe that he hiked overland across the Upper Penninsula of Michigan, entered the Wisconsin River near Lac Vieux Desert, and met his death while portaging a rapids on the Rib River northwest of present-day Wausau. These two letters, first printed in Paris four years after his death, portray the hardships encountered by the fleeing eastern tribes when they arrived in the Wisconsin wilderness.

Pages from the 1665 French edition given here show what volumes of the Jesuit Relations looked like; language students can try their hands at the original. The rest of us can use the modern English translation: when viewing any French page, open the drop-down box at upper left (it says "document description") , select "Page & Text" and click Go to see it in English.




Related Topics: Early Native Peoples
Explorers, Traders, and Settlers
Iroquois Wars of the 17th Century
Arrival of the First Europeans
Creator: Menard, Fr. Rene, 1605-1661
Pub Data: Chapter 1 in: Relation de ce qui s'est passé de plus remarquable aux missions des peres de la Compagnie de Jesus, en la Nouvelle France, és années 1663 & 1664... (Paris: Chez Sebastien Cramoisy & Sebast. Mabre-Cramoisy, 1665).
Citation: Menard, Fr. Rene. "Letters, 1661, on impoverished Huron refugees on Lake Superior", chapter 1 in: Relation de ce qui s'est passé de plus remarquable aux missions des peres de la Compagnie de Jesus, en la Nouvelle France, és années 1663 & 1664...(Paris: Cramoisy, 1665); Online facsimile at:  http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/turningpoints/search.asp?id=53; Visited on: 7/26/2014
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