Maybe there has never been a more comprehensive work on the history of Chicago than the five volumes written by Josiah S. Currey - and possibly there will never be. Without making this work a catalogue or a mere list of dates or distracting the reader and losing his attention, he builds a bridge for every historically interested reader. The history of Windy City is not only particularly interesting to her citizens, but also important for the understanding of the history of the West. This volume is number one out of five and covers the time from the period of discovery to the slavery issues of the town in the 19th century.
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Its History and its Builders
JOSIAH SEYMOUR CURREY
Chicago: Its History and its Builders 1, J. Seymour Currey
Jazzybee Verlag Jürgen Beck
86450 Altenmünster, Loschberg 9
Chapter I - Period Of Discovery 7
Chapter II - French Domination— 1671 19
Chapter III - Chicago In The 18th Century 41
Chapter IV - Chicago From 1803 To 1812 65
Chapter V - Fort Dearborn Massacre 90
Chapter VI -Rebuilding Of Fort Dearborn 113
Chapter VII - Early Visitors And Residents 138
Chapter VIII - Natural Features Of Chicago 161
Chapter IX - Winnebago War — Beginnings Of Chicago's Growth 186
Chapter X - The Black Hawk War 208
Chapter XI - Indian Removal— Illinois And Michigan Canal227
Chapter XII - Growth Of Chicago During The Thirties 250
Chapter XIII – Era Of Internal Improvements 286
Chapter XIV - Education In Chicago 314
Chapter XV - Education In Chicago— (Continued)336
Chapter XVI – Men Of The Thirties— John Wentworth, And Others 358
Chapter XVII - Prophecies And Reality— Newberry Library, Etc.379
Chapter XVIII - River And Harbor Convention— Newspapers, Etc.403
Chapter XIX - Religious History 428
Chapter XX - Slavery Issues In Chicago 464
THERE is perhaps nothing which so clogs and hampers a historical account as an attempt on the part of a writer to mention everything in the chain of events which spreads out like a panorama to his gaze, but which if treated would amount to a mere catalogue, a list of dates, "first things," and much more that tends to distract the reader and exhaust his attention. It is a wise man who can discriminate between the essentials and the merely incidental occurrences, and who can assign the due proportion to each. Better work will be done by making a clear presentation of fewer matters, rather than a diffused account of many.
As the French say, "the secret of wearying is to say all," which, if indeed it is in some measure accomplished, results in a compendium of tedious prolixity. "Anyone who has investigated any period," says Rhodes, "knows how the same facts are told over and over again, in different ways, by various writers," and among them all one must choose from the mass of verbiage and make condensations.
Thucydides, the famous Greek historian, wrote a history of the Peloponnesian war covering a period of twenty-four years. This history is a model of compressed narrative, and in his time there was little or no help to be derived from written documents. "Of the events of the war," wrote Thucydides, "I have not ventured to speak from any chance information, nor according to any notion of my own; I have described nothing but what I either saw myself, or learned from others of whom I made the most careful and particular inquiry. The task was a laborious one, because eye witnesses of the same occurrences gave different accounts of them, as they remembered or were interested in the actions of one side or the other."
Comparing Thucydides with Tacitus, Rhodes says, that they are "superior to the historians who have written in our century, because, by long reflection and studious method, they have better digested their materials and compressed their narrative. Unity in narration has been adhered to more rigidly. They stick closer to their subject. They are not allured into the fascinating bypaths of narration, which are so tempting to men who have accumulated a mass of' facts, incidents, and opinions."
Criticizing a historian addicted to giving a multiplicity of details, an eminent writer said that in many portions of his too elaborated history "he describes a large number of events about which no sensible man can in the least care either how they happened, or whether indeed they happened at all or not." We live indeed in an age of newspapers and magazines when not only great events but a vast "number of trivial incidents are now recorded, and this dust of time gets in our eyes."
Perhaps the following quotation from the works of Sir Thomas Browne maybe inserted here as applicable to the writer who would instruct his readers in historical details. "Bring candid eyes unto the perusal of men's works," says the genial old philosopher, "and let not Detraction blast well-intended labors. He that endureth no fault in men's writings must only read his own... I should unwillingly affirm that Cicero was but slightly versed in Homer, because in his work 'De Gloria' he ascribed those verses unto Ajax, which were delivered by Hector... Who would have mean thoughts of Appolinaris Sidonius, who seems to mistake the River Tigris for Euphrates; and though a good historian and learned bishop of Auvergne had the misfortune to be out in the story of David, making mention of him when the Ark was sent back by the Philistines upon a cart; which was before his time? Though I have no great opinion of Machiavelli's learning, yet I shall not presently say that he was but a novice in Roman history, because he was mistaken in placing Commodus after the Emperor Severus. Capital truths are to be narrowly eyed, collateral lapses and circumstantial deliveries not to be too strictly sifted. And if the substantial subject be well forged out, we need not examine the sparks which irregularly fly from it."
The historian of the future as conceived by Mr. James F. Rhodes, one of the most eminent historians of the present day, "will write his history from the original materials, knowing that there only will he find the living spirit; but he will have the helps of the modern world. He will have at his hand monographs of students whom the professors of history in our colleges are teaching with diligence and wisdom, and he will accept these aids with thankfulness in his laborious search. He will have grasped the generalizations and methods of physical science, but he must know to the bottom his Thucydides and Tacitus. He will recognize in Homer and Shakespeare the great historians of human nature, and he will ever attempt, although feeling that failure is certain, to wrest from them their secret of narration, to acquire their art of portrayal of character. He must be a man of the world, but equally well a man of the academy. If, like Thucydides and Tacitus, the American historian chooses the history of his own country as his field, he may infuse his patriotism into his narrative. He will speak of the broad acres and their products, the splendid industrial development due to the capacity and energy of the captains of industry; but he will like to dwell on the universities and colleges, on the great numbers seeking a higher education, on the morality of the people, their purity of life, their domestic happiness. He will never be weary of referring to Washington and Lincoln, feeling that a country with such exemplars is indeed one to awaken envy, and he will not forget the brave souls who followed where they led."
In a sketch printed in one of the useful publications issued by the Chicago Association of Commerce, the writer, Mr. Richard Henry Little, says: "It is extremely difficult to select what is essential to even an approximately thorough description [of Chicago]. At best it must be fragmentary, and whatever is written immeasurably more will be omitted.
"The first great charm of Chicago is undoubtedly its location. Chicago is the only one of the world's chief cities that is built on the very edge of a large body of water. The spray from Lake Michigan at times is carried across some of its boulevards and streets. The great pride of Chicago is the wonderful panorama of the city's shore line... No other drive presents such contrasts of city and country, of land and sea."
What the writer says in the paragraph quoted below, while intended to apply to a history of the West in general, is likewise applicable to the portrayals, scenes and incidents which the writer of this history has attempted to depict in the history of Chicago. "A hundred years," says Reuben Gold Thwaites, the well known secretary of the Wisconsin Historical Society, "is a period quite long enough in our land to warrant the brand of antiquity, although a mere nothing in the prolonged career of the Old World. In the rapidly developing West, a hundred years and less mark the gap between a primeval wilderness and a complete civilization. Time, like space, is, after all, but comparative. In these hundred years the Northwest has developed from nothing to everything. It is as great a period, judging by results, as ten centuries in Europe, — perhaps fifteen. America is said to have no history. On the contrary, it has the most romantic of histories; but it has lived faster and crowded more and greater deeds into the past hundred years than slow-going Europe in the last ten hundred."
Why should the citizen read history, asks a recent writer and critic who proceeds to make some sort of an answer to his own question. Readers have been repelled by the sense of unreality, in that histories are often more statistical than constructive, more intent upon marshalling facts than drawing conclusions for the instruction of readers and guidance in their own public and private affairs. Books of history have often failed to make the average reader understand how much the past belongs to him, and how necessary it is that he refer to it for enlightenment as well as entertainment.
There is, however, a certain inertia in some readers which it is difficult to overcome and which defies the art of the most conscientious historian. Such readers handicap themselves by a mistaken notion that the older time and its vicissitudes bear no application to their own experiences, that the political and economic experiments of the people of another day and generation do not correspond to those of their own, and hence are without vital interest. Such persons give no adequate attention to the past, and so fail to arm themselves with knowledge against errors to which all men are prone without reference to time or place.
Another class more responsive to the teachings of the past readily supply the reflective sequences, often to better purpose than the writer himself is able to do. But to one and all it is due to set forth in clear statement what the writer sees in the picture he is examining, and to bring his readers, so far as he may be able, into a sympathetic knowledge of the life and events that he is attempting to depict.
It has been the purpose in this history to avoid the danger of saying too much, or on the other hand attempting to make a general compendium which says too little while touching upon everything. The patience of readers is terribly tried by long and inconsequential relations which do no more than fulfill a fancied requirement that no event within the view of the historian shall be omitted to be mentioned. A different purpose is expressed in the writings of Tacitus, a historian who loved to generalize on his work. "This I regard as history's highest function," he wrote, "to let no worthy action be uncommemorated, and to hold out the reprobation of posterity as a terror to evil words and deeds." To this we may add the pregnant words of Thucydides on the same subject. "History will be found profitable by those who desire an exact knowledge of the past as a key to the future, which in all human probability will repeat or resemble the past."
This work will appear with as few references to authorities as possible. It is the author's observation that readers usually regard references at the foot of the page more of a hindrance than a help. In the earlier chapters of the work foot notes were placed before the force of this objection became apparent, but such as were made in the manuscript are allowed to stand. In the later portions, however, the authorities are usually mentioned in the text.
The placing of notes at the foot of a page, other than reference notes, is a literary device both interesting and useful. Notes thus placed serve to complete a statement, or supply what may be called a side-light; — matter that cannot very well find a place in the main body of the text without deranging the course of the narrative or description in hand. Then again the device is a convenient one for placing in a contiguous positions, matter or information which has come to the knowledge of the writer after the manuscript has been prepared.
In the matter of quotations from authorities consulted it is of course impossible to write a history without quoting largely from others. Indeed it is the only safe course for a writer to pursue. The difficulty comes in employing the exact language of one's authority. If by using quotation marks a passage is embodied, one will not proceed very far before finding that the passage quoted includes something that is not quite to the purpose, but having begun the quotation one does not feel at liberty to alter the language used. On the other hand, if one paraphrases he will fall into literal quotation throughout entire sentences and thus become chargeable with plagiarism; and if he interpolates the necessary explanations the course of the narrative is broken and the reader's interest interrupted. Readers usually want a direct statement and do not care to be troubled too much with sources, relying upon the writer for his accuracy in stating the facts. Thus a compromise has to be adopted, and by an occasional reference in the text, together with a few necessary foot notes, a writer may escape the charge of borrowing, which all writers are especially sensitive about. "Quotation tends to choke ordinary remark," says George Eliot; "one couldn't carry on life comfortably without a little blindness to the fact that everything has been said better than we can put it ourselves;" and, it might have been added, "without stopping to indicate the source of everything that one makes use of in the presentation of his subject."
Many of the old writers, who enjoy deservedly high reputations, were inveterate borrowers. A conspicuous instance is that of Burton, who, in his "Anatomy of Melancholy," gathered a mass of quotations from all known writers in a work which is the wonder of all subsequent ages; and has itself become a perfect mine from which later writers have derived material. Beckford said of Burton's work that "half of our modern books have been decanted from it." Indeed quotation and paraphrasing are much more difficult than direct composition. If one's task is to set forth his own views on a subject, or to write a work of fiction, or an "improving discourse," he may sit down at his ease in whatever place he happens to be and never mind "authorities," or "sources," or books of reference. Such writing may require genius, but historical writing requires hard work.
The joy and satisfaction experienced in dwelling long with the scenes of the past is not the least of the pleasures of the writer of history. He finds the pages of former historians light up and gleam with the subjects of his own narrative, even while finding, as he constantly does, different accounts and views, affected by the opinions and temperaments of the writers of identical events, persons and situations. These things send him on long quests among other writings for detail corroborative of one view or the other, until he shall become satisfied finally with his own statements. Perplexities and difficulties are encountered often enough, but once the matters are set forth with such accuracy as can be attained, and in as good language as he is master of, the writer finishes his manuscript pages, and, like Marquette when he first beheld the Mississippi, gazes upon the completed task "with a joy that cannot be expressed."
In the preparation of this work the writer has been greatly assisted by his daughter, Mrs. Margery Currey Dell. She has not only carefully read the manuscript after it has left the hands of the writer, but has also fully written several chapters as well as indexed the entire work. The chapters referred to are those on Education, Music and Drama, the Chicago Fire, the Iroquois Fire, the Art Institute, besides many paragraphs throughout the work. Mr. Floyd Dell, the literary editor of the Chicago Evening Post, has contributed the chapters on the Haymarket Riots, which the writer believes have been well done and adds materially to the value of this work.
Acknowledgments are due to Frank W. Smith, cashier of The Corn Exchange National Bank; Hon. Orrin N. Carter, Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court; Frank R. Grover, Vice-President Evanston Historical Society; Miss Caroline M. Mcllvaine, Librarian of the Chicago Historical Society; Mr. Samuel H. Kerfoot, Jr.; Mr. Walter K. Lincoln, Attorney; Mrs. Nellie Kinzie Gordon, Savannah, Georgia; Judge Robert M. Douglas, Greensboro, North Carolina; Isham Randolph, Consulting Engineer of the Sanitary District of Chicago; Mr. George H. Fergus; Mr. William J. Onahan; Dr. Cornelia B. DeBey; Mr. George P. Upton; Hon. Jesse Holdom; Mr. Francis A. Eastman, City Statistician; Thomas E. Wilder, Elmhurst; Professor Elias Colbert; Mr. Reuben Gold Thwaites, of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin; Miss Louise Phelps Kellogg, of the same institution; Mrs. Jessie Palmer Weber, of the Illinois State Historical Society; Professor Evarts B. Greene, of the University of Illinois; President Edmund J. James, of the same institution; Carl B. Roden, of the Chicago Public Library; Miss Flora N. Hay, reference librarian at the Evanston Public Library; Mr. William Grinton, Joliet; Mr. John F. Steward; Charles P. Pettus, of the Missouri Historical Society; Mrs. Lydia J. Dale, Boston, Massachusetts; Edwin F. Brown, President Monroe National Bank; Professor John F. Hayford, of the Northwestern University; Mr. M. J. Clay; Horace S. Baker, Assistant City Engineer; Professor Henry J. Cox, of the United States Weather Bureau; Mr. W. J. C. Kenyon; Major Thomas H. Rees, United States Army; Mr. Robert J. Bennett; Dr. William H. Stennett; Mr. Aaron M. McKay; Mrs. Rufus Blanchard; Mr. H. N, Higinbotham; Mr. Jules G. Lumbard; Mrs. Frank Lumbard; Professor George L. Scherger, of Armour Institute; Mrs. William S. Greene, Alexandria, Virginia, Mr. E. W. Blatchford, Mr. J. D. Sherman, Mr. George A. Schilling, and Mr. Charles T. Hallinan.
THE discovery of the Upper Mississippi river, as well as that of the Chicago river, was made on the celebrated voyage of Joliet and Marquette in 1673. The beginning of the recorded history of Chicago dates from this year and this voyage, and its importance requires some account of the events which marked one of the most brilliant and daring enterprises in the annals of western adventure and exploration.
EARLY EXPLORERS OF THE MISSISSIPPI
The Mississippi had been discovered by a Spaniard, Hernando De Soto in 1541, at a point near the present city of Memphis; but this discovery had been well-nigh forgotten at the period of time here considered. That a great river existed, far to the north of the region where De Soto found and crossed the Mississippi, was well known to the French from the reports made to them by the Indians, vague and indefinite though they were; and these reports excited the imagination and stimulated the ambition of many of the adventurous spirits of the time. Nicollet, while descending the Wisconsin river in 1638, reached a point within three days' journey of its mouth before turning back, and thus narrowly missed making the discovery of the great river which was reserved for others to make more than a generation later. He supposed, however, that he was within that distance "from the sea," having misunderstood the information given him by the Indians. Father Allouez, while engaged in missionary labors on the shores of Lake Superior, heard of the Sioux and their great river, the "Messippi." In the Algonquin language, the name Mississippi, spelled in a variety of ways by the early chroniclers, meant "Great River."
It does not appear to have been suspected by any of the early French explorers that the Great River of which the Indians told them, was one and the same with that discovered by the Spanish explorer, more than a century before. Many conjectures were made as to where it reached the sea, on which point the Indians could give no reliable information. Some thought that it emptied into the "Sea of Virginia," others contended that it flowed into the Gulf of Mexico, while Frontenac, the governor of New France, was convinced that it discharged its waters into the Vermilion Sea, that is the Gulf of California; and that by way of it, a passage might be found to China.
Reports having reached France, regarding the "Great River of the West," as it was often spoken of, the French minister, Colbert, wrote to Talon, the Intendant at Quebec, in 1672, that efforts should be made "to reach the sea;" meaning to explore the great unknown river and solve the mystery of its outlet. This was followed by appropriate instructions. Father Dablon, in the "Jesuit Relations," says: "The Count Frontenac, our Governor, and Monsieur Talon, then our Intendant, recognizing the importance of this discovery [to be made],... appointed for this undertaking Sieur Joliet, whom they considered very fit for so great an enterprise; and they were well pleased that Father Marquette should be of the party."
JOLIET AND MARQUETTE TO EXPLORE MISSISSIPPI
They were not mistaken in the choice that they made of Louis Joliet. He was a native of Quebec, had been educated by the Jesuits, and had taken the minor orders of that priesthood at the age of seventeen. These he renounced in a few years and became a fur trader. At the time he was chosen to command the expedition, he was a young man twenty-eight years old, possessing all the qualifications that could be desired for such an undertaking; he had had experience among the Indians, and knew their language; "he had tact, prudence and courage, and, as the event proved, he fulfilled all the expectations which were entertained of him by his superiors. Father James Marquette was a Jesuit missionary, thirty-six years old, who for six years had been stationed at missions in the North. He was born in France, one of an honorable old family, and had entered the priesthood, impelled by his natural piety and religious enthusiasm. In 1666 he was sent to the Jesuit missions of Canada, and during the next few years learned to speak six Indian languages. In addition to his zeal for the conversion of the Indians, he was filled with a burning desire to behold the "Great River" of which he had heard so much. He was stationed at this time at St. Ignace, and here Joliet joined him late in the year 1672, and brought him the intelligence of his appointment to go with him in the conduct of the expedition. "I was all the more 'delighted at this good news" writes Marquette in his journal, "since I saw that my plans were about to be accomplished; and since I found myself in the blessed necessity of exposing my life for the salvation of all these peoples, and especially of the Illinois, who had very urgently entreated me, when I was at the point of St. Esprit, to carry the word of God to their country. " Here at St. Ignace they passed the winter.
As the spring advanced, they made the necessary preparations for their journey, the duration of which they could not foresee. In two bark canoes, manned by five Frenchmen, besides the two intrepid leaders, the party embarked, "fully resolved to do and suffer everything for so glorious an enterprise;" and on the 17th of May, 1673, the voyage began at the mission of St. Ignace. Father Marquette writes in his journal: "The joy that we felt at being selected for this expedition animated our courage, and rendered the labor of paddling from morning to night agreeable to us. And because we were going to seek unknown countries, we took every precaution in our power, so that if our undertaking were hazardous, it should not be foolhardy." The journal of Father Marquette is the principal source of our information, and is full of detail and written in a simple style. Joliet also kept a record and made a map, but, most unfortunately, all his papers were lost, by the upsetting of his canoe in the St. Lawrence, while he was returning to Quebec the following year to make a report of his discoveries. Thus it happens that Marquette's name is more frequently and prominently mentioned in all the accounts than that of Joliet.
The adventurous voyagers proceeded along the northern shore of Lake Michigan, the only portion of the lake which had at that time been explored and entered Green Bay. They arrived at the mission established by Father Allouez two years before, and from here they began the difficult ascent of the Fox river. On its upper waters they stopped at a village of the Mascoutins, from whom they procured guides; and by these friendly savages they were conducted across the portage into the upper waters of the Wisconsin river, whence the travelers made their way alone. As the Indians turned back, they "marveled at the courage of seven white men, venturing alone in two canoes on a journey into unknown lands."
They were now embarked on the Wisconsin river and soon passed the utmost limits of Nicollet's voyage on this river made thirty-five years before. "It is very wide," writes Marquette, "and has a sandy bottom rendering the navigation difficult. It is full of islands covered with vines, and on the banks one sees fertile land, diversified with woods, prairies and hills." Their route ,lay to the southwest, and, after a voyage of seven days on this river, on the 17th day of June, just one month from the day they started from St. Ignace, they reached its mouth and steered their canoes forth upon the broad bosom of the Mississippi, "with a joy that I cannot express (avec une joye que je ne peux pas expliquer)," wrote Marquette.
MISSISSIPPI RIVER IS REACHED
"Here, then, we are," continues the good Father in his journal, "on this so renowned river." Westward, coming down to the water's edge, were lofty wooded hills intersected by deep gorges, fringed with foliage. Eastward were beautiful prairie lands; while great quantities of game — deer, buffalo and wild turkey— were seen everywhere. In the river were islands covered with trees and in the water they saw "monstrous fish," some of which they caught in their nets. Following the flow of the river, they note the changes in the scenery, while passing between shores of unsurpassed natural beauty, along which a chain of flourishing cities was afterwards to be built.
But it is still a far cry before the adventurers reach the portage and the river which in time came to bear the name of Chicago, and which is the chief concern of this narrative. They are now fairly on the way, a round-about way indeed, but none the less surely will they accomplish the journey and float their canoes on the still waters of its river and repose themselves on its grassy banks. The broad plain and woodland where the present city of Chicago stands with its throngs of humanity and its "unexampled prosperity," still remain in a state of primeval wildness, as yet unvisited by civilized men, and only await the arrival of our devoted band of explorers to make their remarkable natural features and situation known to the world and to future times. Many strange adventures by flood and field are before them, and we will continue to follow their advance into the unknown.
Steadily they followed the course of the river towards the south, and on the eighth day they saw, for the first time since entering the river, tracks of men near the water's edge, and they stopped to examine them. This point was near the mouth of the Des Moines river, and thus they were the first white men to place foot on the soil of Iowa. Leaving their men to guard the canoes the two courageous leaders followed a path two leagues to the westward, when they came in sight of an Indian village. As they approached, they gave notice of their arrival by a loud call, upon which the savages quickly came forth from their huts and regarded the strangers attentively. Some of their number who had evidently visited the mission stations recognized them as Frenchmen, and they responded to Marquette's greeting in a friendly manner and offered the calumet, or peace pipe, which greatly reassured the visitors. Four of the elders advanced and elevated their pipes towards the sun as a token of friendship; and, on Marquette's inquiring who they were, they replied, "we are Illinois;" at the same time inviting the strangers to walk to their habitations. An old man then made them a speech in which he said, "All our people wait for thee, and thou shalt enter our cabin in peace."
HOSPITALITY OF ILLINOIS INDIANS
The Illinois Indians lived at this time beyond the Mississippi, whither they had been driven by the fierce Iroquois from their former abode, near Lake Michigan. A few years later most of them returned to the east side and made their abode along the Illinois river. Indeed, as we shall see, Joliet and Marquette found a large village of them on the upper waters of the Illinois, while ascending that river a few weeks later. It may be remarked here, however, that the Illinois Indians never fully recovered from the disastrous defeats they suffered from the Iroquois, and held only a precarious possession of their lands along the Illinois river after that time; until a century later the last broken remnant of them was exterminated at Starved Rock by the Pottawattomies and Ottawas.
While still at the village of these Illinois Indians, a grand feast was prepared for the travelers, and they remained until the next day, when they made preparations for their departure. The chief presented them with "belts, garters, and other articles made of hair of bears and cattle [Buffalo], dyed red, yellow and gray." It will grieve those of our readers who have the collecting mania, to learn from the good father that "as they were of no great value, we did not burden ourselves with them."
But the chief made them two more gifts which were a valuable addition to their equipment namely, an Indian lad, the chief's own son, for a slave, and "an altogether mysterious calumet (un Calumet tout mysterieux), upon which the Indians place more value than upon a slave." The possession of this "mysterious calumet," was the means of placating several bands of hostile Indians, whom they met later in their journey. The chief, on learning their intention to proceed down the river "as far as the sea," attempted to dissuade them on account of the great dangers to which they would expose themselves. "I replied," says Marquette, "that I feared not death, and that I regarded no happiness as greater than that of losing my life for the glory of Him, who has made us all. This is what these poor people cannot understand." These were no idle words of Marquette's, for before the lapse of two years from that date, he died of privation and exposure, a martyr to the cause he had so much at heart.
The sequel to the story of the little Indian boy mentioned above was a sad one. He accompanied the voyagers to the end of their journey. In the following year, when Joliet was on his way to Quebec to make the report of his discoveries, his canoe was overturned in the rapids of the St. Lawrence near Montreal, as previously stated. The rest of the narrative is quoted from Mason's "Chapters from Illinois History." "His box of papers, containing his map and report, was lost, and he himself was rescued with difficulty. Two of his companions were drowned: one of these was the slave presented to him by the great chief of the Illinois, a little Indian lad ten years of age, whom he deeply regretted, describing him as of a good disposition, full of spirit, industrious and obedient, and already beginning to read and write the French language."
DANGERS AND WONDERS OF THE JOURNEY
On the departure of the party, Marquette promised the Indians to return to them the next year and instruct them. They embarked in the sight of the people, who had followed them to the landing to the number of some six hundred. The people admired the canoes and gave them a friendly farewell. We cannot fail to note the harmony which existed between the two leaders on this expedition, in such striking contrast with the bickerings and disagreements observed in the accounts of other expeditions of a like nature. For there is no severer test of the friendly relations between officers of an exploring expedition than a long absence in regions beyond the bounds of civilization. Joliet and Marquette were friends long before they started together on this journey, and both were single minded in their purpose to accomplish its objects. No more lovely character appears in the history of western adventure than that of Marquette, a man who endeared himself to all whom he came in contact with, and made himself an example for all time. Joliet, in turn, "was the foremost explorer of the West," says Mason, "a man whose character and attainments and public services made him a man of high distinction in his own day."
Continuing their journey the voyagers passed the mouth of the Illinois, without special notice, but when in the vicinity of the place where the city of Alton now stands, and while skirting some high rocks, they "saw upon one of them two painted monsters which at first made them afraid." The paintings were "as large as a calf," and were so well done that they could not believe that any savage had done the work. Joutel saw them some eleven years later, but could not see anything particularly terrifying in them, though the Indians who were with him were much impressed. St. Cosme passed by them in 1699, but they were then almost effaced; and when, in 1867, Parkman visited the Mississippi, he passed the rock on which the paintings appeared, but the rock had been partly quarried away and all traces of the pictures had disappeared.
They had scarcely recovered from their fears before they found themselves in the presence of a new danger, for they heard the noise of what at first they supposed were rapids ahead of them; and directly they came in sight of the turbulent waters of the Missouri river, pouring its flood into the Mississippi. Large trees, branches and even "floating islands" were borne on its surface, and its "water was very muddy." The name Missouri which was afterwards applied to this river, means in the Indian language "muddy water," and the river is often spoken of to this day as the "Big Muddy." They passed in safety, however, and continued on their journey in good spirits and with thankful hearts.
FURTHER ENCOUNTERS WITH SAVAGES
They now began to think that the general course of the river indicated that it would discharge itself into the Gulf of Mexico, though they were still hoping to find that it would lead into the South Sea, toward California. They passed the beautiful plateau, where the city of St. Louis was afterwards built, and reached the mouth of the Ohio; thus having coasted the entire western boundary of what is now the State of Illinois. As they passed' the confluence of the Ohio and the Mississippi, the shores changed their character. They found the banks lined with extensive fields of canebrakes; mosquitoes filled the air, and the excessive heat of the sun obliged them to seek protection from its rays by stretching an awning of cloth over their canoes. While they were thus floating down the current of the river, some savages appeared on the banks armed with guns, thus indicating that they were in communication with Europeans, probably the Spaniards of Florida. Just as in recent times, the explorer Stanley, while floating down the Congo, knew that he was approaching European settlements by finding the natives armed with muskets instead of the rude weapons of the tribes of the interior. The savages at first assumed a threatening attitude, but Marquette offered his "plumed calumet," so called because of the feathers it was adorned with, which the Illinois chief bad given him, and the strangers were at once received as friends. These savages told them that they were within ten days' journey of the sea, and with their hopes thus raised they soon resumed their course.
They continued down past the monotonous banks of this part of the river for some three hundred miles from the place where they had met the Indians just spoken of, when they were suddenly startled by the war-whoops of a numerous band of savages who showed every sign of hostility. The wonderful calumet was held up by Marquette, but at first without producing any effect. Missiles were flying, but fortunately doing no damage, and some of the savages plunged into the river in order to grasp their canoes; when presently some of the older men, having perceived the calumet steadily held aloft, called back their young men and made reassuring signs and gestures. They found one who could speak a little Illinois; and, on learning that the Frenchmen were on their way to the sea, the Indians escorted them some twenty-five miles, until they reached a village called Akamsea. Here they were well received, but the dwellers there warned them against proceeding, on account of the warlike tribes below who would bar their way.
Joliet and Marquette here held a council whether to push on, or to remain content with the discoveries they had already made. They judged that they were within two or three days' journey from the sea, though we know that they were still some seven hundred miles distant from it. They decided however, that beyond a doubt the Mississippi discharged its waters into the Gulf of Mexico, and not to the East in Virginia, or to the West in California. They considered that in going on they would expose themselves to the risk of losing the results of their voyage, and would, without a doubt, fall into the hands of the Spaniards, who would detain them as captives. The upshot of their deliberations was the decision that they would begin the return voyage at once. The exploration of the river from this point to the sea was not accomplished until nine years later, when that bold explorer, La Salle, passed entirely down the river to its mouth; where he set up a column and buried a plate of lead, bearing the arms of France; took possession of the country for the French King, and named it Louisiana.
DECISION TO MAKE THE RETURN JOURNEY
The party were now at the mouth of the Arkansas, having passed more than one hundred miles below the place where De Soto crossed it in the previous century, had sailed eleven hundred miles in the thirty days since they had been on the great river, an average of about thirty-seven miles a day, and had covered nine degrees of latitude. On the 17th of July, they began their return journey, just one month to a day after they had entered the river, and two months after they had left the mission at St. Ignace.
The voyage up the river in the midsummer heat was one of great difficulty, but steadily they "won their slow way northward," passing the mouth of the Ohio and that of the Missouri; until at length they reached the mouth of the Illinois river. Here they left the Mississippi and entered the Illinois, being greatly charmed with its placid waters, its shady forests, and its rich plains, grazed by bison and deer." They passed through the wide portion of the river, afterwards known as Peoria lake, and reached its upper waters, where, on the south bank, rises the remarkable cliff, since called "Starved Rock." They were thus "the first white men to see the territory now known as the State of Illinois."
SETTLEMENTS AND LANDMARKS OF THE MISSISSIPPI
On the opposite bank of the river, where the town of Utica now stands, they found a village of Illinois Indians, called Kaskaskia, consisting of seventy-four cabins. It should here be stated that the Indians removed this village, some seventeen years later, to the south part of the present State of Illinois, on the Kaskaskia river, where it became noted in the early annals of the west. The travelers were well received here, and, on their departure, a chief and a number of young men of the village joined the party for the purpose of guiding them to the Lake of the Illinois, that is. Lake Michigan. A few miles above they passed the place where the present city of Ottawa is situated, and where the Fox river of Illinois flows into the Illinois river from the north.
The course of the river was now almost directly east and west, and the voyagers could not fail to notice the ranges of bluffs flanking the bottom lands through which the stream meanders in its flow. This broad channel once carried a mighty volume of water from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi, at a time when the glaciers were subsiding and the lake level was some thirty feet higher than in historic times.
None of the countries they had seen compared with those they beheld while voyaging up this river "as regards its fertility of soil, its prairies and woods;" and they found it "more beautiful than France."
La Salle at a later time described the country as "so beautiful and so fertile, so free from forests, and so well supplied with prairies, brooks and rivers, so abounding in fish, game and venison, that one can find there in plenty and with little trouble all that is needed for the support of flourishing colonies." Indeed, one is reminded when reading these enthusiastic descriptions of the country by the early explorers, of the words of that stirring song which we Illinoisans love so well, celebrating the glories of the land in which we live, beginning:
"By thy rivers ever flowing,
Illinois, Illinois; By thy prairies verdant growing, Illinois, Illinois."
The travelers soon arrived at the confluence of the Desplaines and the Kankakee rivers which here, at a point some forty-five miles from Lake Michigan, unite to form the Illinois river. Under the guidance of their Indian friends they chose the route by way of the Desplaines as the shortest to the lake; and after proceeding some thirteen miles in a northeasterly direction, they came in view of that remarkable natural feature afterwards called Mount Joliet, now almost entirely vanished from view owing to the steady work of gravel diggers continued over several generations. Although not mentioned by Marquette in his journal, it was described by St. Cosme when he passed this point a few years later. He notes a tradition among the Indians regarding it, "that at the time of a great deluge one of their ancestors escaped, and that this little mountain is his canoe which he turned over there." The party soon after passed the site of the present flourishing city of Joliet, and began the laborious ascent of the rapids a few miles above. On reaching the place where the portage into the waters tributary to Lake Michigan was to be made, their Indian guides aided them in carrying their canoes over the "half league" of dry land intervening. As this portage is much longer than that, it is likely that the "half league" mentioned by Marquette referred to one stage of the portage, between the Desplaines and the first of the two shallow lakes which they found there and on which they, no doubt, floated their canoes several miles on their way to the waters of the south branch of the Chicago river.
They were now at the summit of the "divide" between the two great water systems of the west. The river they had left had its source more than a hundred miles to the north of the portage, and was a tributary of the Mississippi, eventually reaching the Gulf of Mexico; while the waters of the south branch of the Chicago river, which they were about to enter, reach the sea at the mouth of the St. Lawrence. Here their Indian friends left them while they made their way down the five miles that yet intervened before they would reach Lake Michigan. Groves of trees lined its banks, beyond which a level plain extended to the margin of the lake. This level plain was the only portion of the "Grand Prairie" of Illinois which anywhere reached the shore of Lake Michigan, a space limited to some four miles south of the mouth of the Chicago river. They were not long in coming into view of that splendid body of water which they were approaching, and must have beheld its vast extent with the feelings of that "watcher of the skies" so beautifully written of by Keats, "when a new planet swims into his ken."
SITE OF CHICAGO FIRST VISITED BY WHITE MEN
No date is given by Marquette in his journal of the arrival of the party at this point, but it was probably early in September of the year 1673 that the site of the present city of Chicago was first visited by white men. It is quite possible that coureurs de hois ("wood-rangers") may have visited the spot while among the Indian tribes, but no record was ever made of such visits before the time that Joliet and Marquette arrived upon the scene, and made known the discovery to the world. The mouth of the river is shown on all the early maps as at a point a quarter of a mile south of the present outlet, owing to a long sand spit that ran out from the north shore of the river near its confluence with the lake, which has long since been dredged away. This was Joliet's first and only view of the Chicago river and its banks, as he never passed this way again. Marquette's later voyage to the "Chicago portage" will be mentioned in another chapter.
The stimulating breath of the lake breezes which met them as they issued forth upon the blue waters of the "Lake of the Illinois," must have thrilled the explorers with feeling of joy and triumph, having escaped so many dangers and won such imperishable renown. Turning the prows of their canoes northward, they passed the wooded shores still in their pristine loveliness. The emerald hues of the prairies which they had left behind them, were now replaced by the mottled foliage of the early autumn, and the waves breaking on the beach of sand and gravel must have impressed them deeply as they proceeded on their way. The shores began to rise and form bluffs as they passed the regularly formed coast on their course. Few and unimportant are the streams that flow into the lake from the narrow water shed of the West shore, and the bluffs are occasionally broken by ravines running back far beyond the range of vision.
Some thirteen miles north of the outlet of the Chicago river they pass that high point of land where now stands a lofty lighthouse, called Gross Point, and which lake sailors of later times were wont to call by the romantic name of "Beauty's Eyebrow." One of our local poets, in referring to this spot, describes it thus:
"A dreadful point when furious north winds roar, And Michigan's soon-roused, fierce billows roll; But Uncle Sam, with wise and prudent care Has placed a far-seen light as signal there."
JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY SAFELY ENDED
Throughout their journey the voyagers gaze on scenes, familiar now to millions of people, then unknown to civilized man. They see the gradual increase in the height of the bluffs, reaching an elevation at the present town of Lake Forest of one hundred feet or more above the surface of the lake. No comments are made regarding the events of this part of the journey by Marquette in his journal, and it most likely was made without special incident. He closes his narrative by saying that "at the end of September, we reached the Bay des Puants [Green Bay], from which we started at the beginning of June."
JOLIET THE HEAD OF THE EXPEDITION
The world renowned voyage of Joliet and Marquette thus ended at the mission of St. Francis Xavier, where the village of De Pere, Wisconsin, now stands. The explorers had traveled nearly twenty-five hundred miles in about one hundred and twenty days, a daily average of nearly twenty-one miles, had discovered the Mississippi and the Chicago rivers, as well at the site of the present city of Chicago; and had brought back their party without any serious accident or the loss of a single man. Here they remained during the fall and winter, and in the summer, of the following year (1674), Joliet set out for Quebec to make a report of his discoveries to the governor of Canada. It was while nearing Montreal on his journey that his canoe was upset in the rapids, his Indians drowned, and all his records and a map that he had carefully prepared were lost. Joliet never returned to the west. He was rewarded for his splendid services with a grant of some islands in the lower St. Lawrence, including the extensive island of Anticosti, and
died in 1700. As regards the credit due Joliet for the discovery made, the late Mr. Edward G. Mason in his valuable work entitled, "Chapters from Illinois History" says:
"Popular error assigned the leadership of the expedition which discovered the Upper Mississippi and the Illinois valley to Marquette, who never held or claimed it. Every reliable authority demonstrates the mistake, and yet the delusion continues. But as Marquette himself says that Joliet was sent to discover new countries, and he to preach the gospel; as Count Frontenac reports to the home authorities that Talon selected Joliet to make the discovery; as Father Dablon confirms this statement; and as the Canadian authorities gave rewards to Joliet alone as the sole discoverer, we may safely conclude that to him belongs the honor of the achievement. He actually accomplished that of which Champlain and Nicollet and Radisson were the heralds, and, historically speaking, was the first to see the wonderful region of the prairies. At the head of the roll of those indissolubly associated with the land of the Illinois, who have trod its soil, must forever stand the name of Louis Joliet."
Mr. Reuben Gold Thwaites, in his "Story of Wisconsin," says that Marquette, "though merely a subordinate in the expedition, has been accorded by most writers far greater credit than its leader. It is his statue, rather than Joliet's, which the Wisconsin legislature voted to place in the capitol at Washington; and while Marquette has a county and a town in Wisconsin named in his honor, Joliet has not even been remembered in the list of crossroad post offices. Illinois has been more considerate of historical truth."
It seems a strange omission, however, that here in Chicago we have no street or avenue named for Joliet, no building, park or monument to commemorate his name and splendid services. Marquette has fared better in this regard in having a stately building, situated on one of our principal streets, named in his honor; and, owing largely to the simplicity and sincerity of his character, his memory is held in high and affectionate regard by the people of Chicago. The honor that accrues from such memorials as we have spoken of are greatly in favor of La Salle, a man whose memory indeed is worthy of such distinction, but who preferred another route to the Mississippi on his first journey, and when at a later time he did pass over the Chicago portage he reported disparagingly upon Joliet's suggestion of a navigable waterway.
Father Marquette was destined never to return to the French colonial capital. His health had become impaired on account of the hardships he had suffered during the return journey on the Mississippi, and he remained nearly a year at St. Francis Xavier in an effort to recover and prepare himself for another journey to the Illinois Country, as he had promised his Indian friends he would do. How he again visited the portage between the Chicago and Desplaines rivers in the following year, and spent the winter there, will be related in the succeeding chapter of this history.
THE discovery of the Illinois Country and the western shore of Lake Michigan brought a large accession of territory under the dominion of the French crown. In 1671, two years previous to the discovery of the Illinois Country, St. Lusson had taken possession, with much ceremony at Sault Ste. Marie, of all the countries then occupied by the French, as well as of countries "which may be discovered hereafter." The Illinois Country was thenceforth included within the scope of the French authority and was part and parcel of the Kingdom of France ruled over at that time by the Grand Monarch, Louis XIV.
MARQUETTE'S RETURN TO THE ILLINOIS COUNTRY
Early in the summer of 1671, that is, about seven or eight months after his return to Green Bay from the voyage described in the previous chapter, Joliet started on his journey to Quebec to inform the authorities regarding the new countries he had found. As already related, Joliet met with disaster on this journey, and had it not been for the journal kept by Marquette we should have had no detailed record of the explorations of the previous year, though Joliet gave some oral accounts afterwards, records of which have only in recent years come to light. Later in the same year Marquette, having recovered from the poor health he had been suffering, received "orders to proceed to the mission of La Conception among the Illinois." On the 25th of October, 1674, accordingly, he sat out with two companions, named Pierre and Jacques; one of whom had been with him on his former journey of discovery. From this journey Marquette was destined never to return; and indeed it would seem to have been a most perilous risk for him to have taken considering his physical condition, having only recently been "cured," as he says, of his "ailment," and starting at a time of year when he would soon be overtaken by the winter season. But no toils or exposure could deter those devoted missionaries of the cross from engaging in any undertaking which seemed to hold out the least prospect of saving souls, as the history of those times abundantly shows.
The route taken was by way of the difficult portage at Sturgeon Bay, where now there is a canal cutting through the peninsula, and which saved them a circuit of nearly one hundred and fifty miles. Accompanying his canoe was a flotilla of nine others, containing parties of Pottawattomie and Illinois Indians; and in due time they embarked their little fleet on the waters of Lake Michigan. They encountered storms and the navigation proved difficult, but at length the party arrived at the mouth of the Chicago river, which Marquette calls "the river of the Portage," early in December. Finding that the stream was frozen over, they encamped near by at the entrance of the river and engaged in hunting, finding game very abundant. While here the two Frenchmen of the party killed "three buffalo and four deer," besides wild turkeys and partridges, which, considering the locality as we of this day know it, seems difficult to imagine; and this passage in the journal composes the first sketch on record of the site of this great city of the West.
Having followed the course of the river some "two leagues up," Marquette "resolved to winter there, as it was impossible to go farther." His ailment had returned and a cabin was built for his use and protection. There he remained with his two Frenchmen while his Indian companions returned to their own people. It must be borne in mind that Marquette's destination was the village of Illinois Indians at Kaskaskia on the Illinois river, where he and Joliet had been entertained the year before; and that the cabin here spoken of was merely a temporary shelter where he would remain only until spring. But sometime during the interval of the fifteen months since Marquette had previously passed the portage, two Frenchmen had established themselves, about "eighteen leagues beyond, in a beautiful hunting country," and these men in expectation of the holy father's return had prepared a cabin for him, stocked with provisions. This cabin Marquette was not able to reach, and the two hunters, hearing of the good Father's illness, came to the portage to render such assistance as was in their power. One of these Frenchmen was called "the Surgeon," perhaps because he possessed some knowledge of medicine, but his true name is not given. The other was called "La Taupine," that is, "the Tawney," whose proper name was Pierre Moreau, a noted coureur de hois of the time. Indians passing that way also gave assistance, and late in March Marquette found himself with strength recovered and able to set out on his journey to the Illinois, though not before he was driven out of his winter cabin by a sudden rise of the river which obliged him to take refuge near the place now called "Summit."
As in the previous year, Marquette kept a journal which has come down to us among that valuable series of papers called the "Jesuit Relations." This journal is the sheet anchor of all the writers treating of the history of the two journeys of discovery and exploration which we are here narrating. Marquette occupied a portion of the time during his stay at the cabin in writing the memoirs of his voyages. In his journal the good Father breathes the spirit of self-sacrifice, the concern for the conversion and spiritual welfare of the savages; and with it all he shows a keen curiosity and interest in the manners and customs, the country and habitations, of the tribes he meets with.
WINTER QUARTERS OF MARQUETTE
The location of the cabin in which Marquette spent the winter of 1674-5 is now marked with a cross made of mahogany wood, at the base of which is a bronze tablet with an inscription. The site was fixed upon in 1905 by a committee of the Chicago Historical Society under the guidance of the late Mr. Ossian Guthrie, an intelligent and devoted student of our local antiquities, with a view of marking the spot in a suitable manner. An entire day was spent by the party in driving and walking over many miles of country in order to compare the topography with the journal of the missionary, and a series of photographs taken. The investigations resulted in confirming the opinions of Mr. Guthrie, namely, that Marquette's winter cabin was situated on the north bank of the South branch of the Chicago river at the point where now it is intersected by Robey street, and from which at the present time can be seen, by looking westward, the entrance to the great drainage canal. While the Society was making plans for placing a memorial on the spot other parties took up the project and placed the cross and inscription there; though it is to be regretted that no mention was made in the inscription of Mr. Guthrie's researches in identifying the site; for it was solely due to his investigations that the site was determined. The "Marquette Cross" stands about fifteen feet high, firmly planted on a pedestal of concrete; and near it stands a wrought iron cross about three feet in height, which, however, has no historical connection with the famous missionary, as it was taken from a burying ground in Cahokia, where it marked the grave of some old time French resident.
There is also a monument at Summit a few miles distant from the site of Marquette's winter cabin, marking the spot where Marquette landed after being Hooded out of his winter quarters at Robey street. This monument is constructed of boulders taken from the Drainage Canal while in process of building, and was placed there in 1895 by the Chicago and Alton railroad company. The inscription on the monument reads, "Father Marquette landed here in 1675."
MARQUETTE'S SOJOURN AT KASKASKIA
Marquette reached the Illinois village which he called Kaskaskia in the journal of his first visit, and which he refers to as the "mission of La Conception" in his later journal. This was on the 8th of April, 1675, and on reaching the village "he was received as an angel from heaven." There was always an atmosphere of peace wherever the good missionary went, and, no matter how unfavorable the circumstances were, he was the object of solicitude and kind attentions from his followers. From the time that he crossed the portage he discontinued his journal, probably owing to his increasing weakness. The account of the remainder of his journey is written by Father Dablon, his superior at Quebec. He summoned the Indians to a grand council and "displayed four large pictures of the Virgin, harangued the assembly on the mysteries of the Faith, and exhorted them to adopt it. His hearers were much affected and begged him to remain among them and continue his instructions.
LAST DAYS OF MARQUETTE
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