The first French fur traders reach Wisconsin about 1654.

Radisson's Account of His Third Journey, 1654-1656

After about 1640, Indian wars in the St. Lawrence valley prevented the French from traveling to Wisconsin. The Sieur des Groseilliers and his partner, who embarked in 1654, were the first Europeans to reach the upper lakes in two decades. Although it has long been assumed that his brother-in-law Pierre-Esprit Radisson was Groseillier's partner, new research suggests that this could not have been the case as Radisson appears to have been Quebec in 1655. Nonetheless, this memoir, long attributed to Radisson, describes how they (or two other explorers) crossed Lake Huron and lower Michigan before arcing across Lake Michigan into Wisconsin; the Wisconsin portion begins on page 47. It includes several speeches by Indian leaders with whom they talked. It is impossible to trace their route exactly during the two years they spent collecting furs, but they appear to have visited Green Bay, Sault St. Marie, and Lake Superior as well as spending 4 months going from river to river in the interior. They returned to Montreal in 1656 with a flotilla of Indian canoes loaded with furs, having fought their way through Iroquois attacks both coming and going and having introduced the first firearms to Wisconsin Indians.

Related Topics: Early Native Peoples
Explorers, Traders, and Settlers
Iroquois Wars of the 17th Century
Arrival of the First Europeans
The French Fur Trade
Creator: Radisson, Pierre Esprit, ca. 1636-1710
Pub Data: In: Kellogg, Louise P., ed. Early Narratives of the Northwest, 1634-1699 (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1917): 29-65.
Citation: Radisson, Pierre Esprit. "Radisson's Account of His Third Journey." Kellogg, Louise Phelps (editor). Early Narratives of the Northwest, 1634-1699. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1917); Online facsimile at:; Visited on: 4/13/2024