Wisconsin Historical Society

Historical Essay

Allouez, Claude Jean (1622-1689)

Jesuit Missionary

Claude Jean Allouez | Wisconsin Historical Society

Claude Jean Allouez (1622-1689) b. Haute Loire, France, 1622 d. Niles, Michigan, 1689

Claude Jean Allouez was an influential Jesuit missionary who worked in the upper Midwest and parts of Canada. Allouez established and maintained a number of notable missions in this region. His missionary work helped to spread Jesuit teachings in areas that would later become the states of the upper Midwest.

Ordination and Early Years as a Missionary

Born in Haute-Loire, France, Allouez studied at Toulouse and was ordained in 1655. Three years later, he traveled to “New France” (Canada) to serve as a missionary. He served in the vicinity of Quebec for two years. In 1664, he was appointed to the Ottawa mission in the Lake Superior region. In the following year, he arrived at Chequamegon Bay and maintained a mission near the present site of La Pointe on Madeline Island, Bayfield County.

Missionary Work Across the State of Wisconsin

In 1669, Allouez left Madeline Island to establish a new mission among the Potawatomie tribe in the Green Bay area. He went on to found several missions in the region, one of which was the Mission of St. Francis Xavier near the present site of Oconto. While traveling in the Lake Winnebago and Fox River area, Allouez collected information that aided the famous explorers Marquette (q.v.) and Jolliet (q.v.) on their famous voyage to the Mississippi River in 1673.

Lasting Impact in Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest

Allouez moved his mission once again to the present site of De Pere in 1671. This mission soon became the center of Jesuit activities in the Wisconsin area. After the death of Marquette in 1675, Allouez was appointed to carry his missionary work further south. As a result, Allouez journeyed to Illinois in 1677. He then permanently settled among the Miami Indians of southern Michigan.