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Title: History of the Discovery of the Northwest by John Nicolet in 1634 - With a Sketch of his Life
Author: Butterfield, Consul Willshire, 1824-1899
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "History of the Discovery of the Northwest by John Nicolet in 1634 - With a Sketch of his Life" ***

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  IN 1634





  Author of "Crawford's Campaign against Sandusky," "History of Wisconsin"
  In Historical Atlas of the State, "The Washington-Crawford Letters,"
  "History of the University of Wisconsin," etc.




In the following pages, I have attempted to record, in a faithful
manner, the indomitable perseverance and heroic bravery displayed by
John Nicolet in an exploration which resulted in his being the first of
civilized men to set foot upon any portion of the Northwest; that is,
upon any part of the territory now constituting the States of Ohio,
Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin. It is shown how he brought
to the knowledge of the world the existence of a "fresh-water sea"--Lake
Michigan--beyond and to the westward of Lake Huron; how he visited a
number of Indian nations before unheard of; how he penetrated many
leagues beyond the utmost verge of previous discoveries, with an almost
reckless fortitude, to bind distant tribes to French interests; and how
he sought to find an ocean, which, it was believed, was not a great
distance westward of the St. Lawrence, and which would prove a near
route to China and Japan.

The principal sources from which I have drawn, in my investigations
concerning the life and explorations of Nicolet, are the Jesuit
Relations. So nearly contemporaneous are these publications with his
discoveries--especially those which contain a record of them--and so
trustworthy are they in their recital of facts connected therewith, that
their value, in this connection, can hardly be over-estimated. Each one
of the series having a particular bearing upon the subject of this
narrative has been studied with a care commensurate with its importance.
Other accounts of the same period, as well as of a somewhat later date,
together with the researches of modern writers, concerning the daring
Frenchman, whose name stands first on the list of the explorers of the
Northwest, have, likewise, been carefully examined, the object being, if
not to exhaust all known sources of information illustrative of these
discoveries, at least to profit by them. Aid has been received, in
addition, from several living authors, especially from Benjamin Sulte,
Esq., of Ottawa, Canada, to whom, and to all others who have extended a
helping hand, I return my sincere thanks.

                                                                C. W. B.



  Pre-historic Man in the Northwest--The Red Race--First
  Discoveries in New France,                               vii


  Events Leading to Western Exploration,                    11


  John Nicolet, the Explorer,                               26


  Nicolet Discovers the Northwest,                          35


  Subsequent Career and Death of Nicolet,                   75

  APPENDIX,                                                 93

  INDEX,                                                   107



Of the existence, in what are now the States of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois,
Michigan, and Wisconsin, at a remote period, of a race superior in
intelligence to the red men who inhabited this region when first seen by
a European, there are indubitable evidences. Who were these ancient
occupiers of the territory just mentioned--of its prairies and
woodlands, hills and valleys? There are no traditions of their power, of
their labor, or of their wisdom--no record of their having lived, except
in rapidly-decaying relics. They left no descendants to recount their
daring deeds. All that remain of them--the so-called Mound-Builders--are
mouldering skeletons. All that are to be seen of their handicraft are
perishing earth-works and rude implements. These sum up the "types and
shadows" of the pre-historic age.

There is nothing to connect "the dark backward and abysm" of
mound-building times with those of the red race of the Northwest; and
all that is known of the latter dating earlier than their first
discovery, is exceedingly dim and shadowy. Upon the extended area
bounded by Lake Superior on the north, Lake Michigan on the east,
wide-spreading prairies on the south, and the Mississippi river on the
west, there met and mingled two distinct Indian families--Algonquins
and Dakotas. Concerning the various tribes of these families, nothing of
importance could be gleaned by the earliest explorers; at least, very
little has been preserved. Tradition, it is true, pointed to the
Algonquins as having, at some remote period, migrated from the east; and
this has been confirmed by a study of their language. It indicated,
also, that the Dakotas, at a time far beyond the memory of the most
aged, came from the west or southwest--fighting their way as they came;
that one of their tribes[1] once dwelt upon the shores of a sea; but
when and for what purpose they left their home none could relate.

The residue of the Northwest was the dwelling-place of Algonquins alone.
In reality, therefore, "the territory northwest of the river Ohio" has
no veritable history ante-dating the period of its first discovery by
civilized man. Portions of the country had been heard of, it is true,
but only through vague reports of savages. There were no accounts at
all, besides these, of the extensive region of the upper lakes or of the
valley of the Upper Mississippi; while nothing whatever was known of the
Ohio or of parts adjacent.

The first of the discoveries in the New World after that of Columbus, in
1492, having an immediate bearing upon this narrative, was that of John
Cabot, in 1497. On the third of July, of that year, he saw what is now
believed to have been the coast of Labrador. After sailing a short
distance south, he probably discovered the island of Newfoundland. In
1498, his son, Sebastian, explored the continent from Labrador to
Virginia, and possibly as far south as Florida. Gaspar Cortereal, in
1500, reached the shore seen by John Cabot, and explored it several
hundred miles. He was followed, in 1524, by John Verrazzano, who
discovered the North American coast in, probably, the latitude of what
is now Wilmington, North Carolina. He continued his exploration to the
northward as far as Newfoundland. To the region visited by him, he gave
the name of New France. The attention of the reader is now directed to
some of the most important events, in the country thus named, which
followed, for a period of a hundred and ten years, the voyage of


[Footnote 1: Ancestors of the present Winnebagoes.]






The discovery of the river St. Lawrence, and of the great lakes which
pour their superabundant waters through it into the gulf, was not the
least in importance of the events which signalized the opening of the
history of the New World. The credit of having first spread a sail upon
the majestic stream of Canada, and of obtaining such information as
afterward led to a knowledge of the whole of its valley, belongs to
James Cartier, a native of St. Malo--a port in the north of France.
Cartier was a skillful mariner. On the twentieth of April, 1534, he
sailed from his native place, under orders of the French admiral, for
the coast of Newfoundland, intent on exploring unknown seas, and
countries washed by them. He took with him two ships of fifty tons each,
and in twenty days saw the large island lying between the ocean and the
river he was soon to discover. Favorable winds had wafted him and his
hundred and twenty-two sailors and adventurers to inhospitable shores,
but at an auspicious season of the year.

Having sailed nearly around Newfoundland, Cartier turned to the south,
and, crossing the gulf, entered a bay, which he named Des Chaleurs,
because of the midsummer heats. A little farther north he landed and
took possession of the country in the name of the French king. His
vessels were now at anchor in the smaller inlet of Gaspé. Sailing still
further north, Cartier, in August, discovered the river St. Lawrence. He
moved up its channel until land was sighted on either side; then, being
unprepared to remain through the winter, he sailed back again to the
gulf, crossed the ocean, and moored his vessels in safety in St. Malo.
He made the return voyage in less than thirty days. This was, at that
period, an astonishing achievement. The success of the expedition filled
the whole of France with wonder. In less than five months, the Atlantic
had been crossed; a large river discovered; a new country added to the
dominions of France; and the ocean recrossed. All this had been
accomplished before it was generally known that an expedition had been

The remarkable pleasantness of this summer's voyage, the narratives of
Cartier and his companions, and the importance attached to their
discoveries, aroused the enthusiasm of the French; and, as might be
expected, a new expedition was planned. Three well-furnished ships were
provided by the king. Even some of the nobility volunteered for the
voyage. All were eager to cross the Atlantic. On the nineteenth of May,
1535, the squadron sailed. But Cartier had not, this time, a pleasant
summer cruise. Storms raged. The ships separated. For seven weeks they
buffeted the troubled ocean. Their rendezvous was the Straits of Belle
Isle, which they finally reached; but the omens were bad. The
adventurers had confidently looked for pleasant gales and a quick
voyage, and these expectations had all been blasted. Now, however, they
arrived within sight of Newfoundland, and their spirits rose. Carried to
the west of that island, on the day of Saint Lawrence, they gave the
name of that martyr to a portion of the gulf which opened before them.
The name was afterward given to the whole of that body of water and to
the river Cartier had previously discovered. Sailing to the north of
Anticosti, they ascended the St. Lawrence, reaching, in September, a
fine harbor in an island since called Orleans.

Leaving his two largest ships in the waters of the river now known as
the St. Charles, Cartier, with the smallest and two open boats, ascended
the St. Lawrence until a considerable Indian village was reached,
situated on an island called Hochelaga. Standing upon the summit of a
hill, on this island, and looking away up the river, the commander had
fond imaginings of future glory awaiting his countrymen in colonizing
this region. "He called the hill Mont-Réal, and time, that has
transferred the name of the island, is realizing his visions;" for on
that island now stands the city of Montreal. While at Hochelaga, Cartier
gathered some indistinct accounts of the surrounding country, and of the
river Ottawa coming down from the hills of the Northwest. Rejoining his
ships, he spent the winter in a palisaded fort on the bank of the St.
Charles, with his vessels moored before it. The cold was intense. Many
of his men died of scurvy. Early in the spring, possession was again
taken of the country in the name of the French king; and, on the
sixteenth of July, 1536, the Breton mariner dropped anchor in St.
Malo--he having returned in two ships; the other was abandoned, and
three hundred and twelve years after was discovered imbedded in mud.
France was disappointed. Hopes had been raised too high. Expectations
had not been realized. Further explorations, therefore, were, for the
time, postponed.

Notwithstanding the failure of Cartier's second voyage, the great valley
of the St. Lawrence was not to remain very long unknown to the world, in
any of its parts. It was thought unworthy a gallant nation to abandon
the enterprise; and one more trial at exploration and colonization was
determined upon. Again the bold mariner of St. Malo started for the St.
Lawrence. This was on the twenty-third of May, 1541. He took with him
five ships; but he went, unfortunately, as subordinate, in some
respects, to John Francis de la Roque, Lord of Roberval, a nobleman of
Picardy, whom the king of France had appointed viceroy of the country
now again to be visited. The object of the enterprise was declared to be
discovery, settlement, and the conversion of the Indians. Cartier was
the first to sail. Again he entered the St. Lawrence.

After erecting a fort near the site of the present city of Quebec,
Cartier ascended the river in two boats to explore the rapids above the
island of Hochelaga. He then returned and passed the winter at his fort;
and, in the spring, not having heard from the viceroy, he set sail for
France. In June, 1542, in the harbor of St. John, he met the Lord of
Roberval, outward bound, with three ships and two hundred men. The
viceroy ordered Cartier to return to the St. Lawrence; but the mariner
of St. Malo escaped in the night, and continued his voyage homeward.
Roberval, although abandoned by his subordinate, once more set sail.
After wintering in the St. Lawrence, he, too, abandoned the
country--giving back his immense viceroyalty to the rightful owners.

In 1578, there were three hundred and fifty fishing vessels at
Newfoundland belonging to the French, Spanish, Portuguese, and English;
besides these were a number--twenty or more--of Biscayan whalers. The
Marquis de la Roche, a Catholic nobleman of Brittany, encouraged by
Henry IV., undertook the colonization of New France, in 1598. But the
ill-starred attempt resulted only in his leaving forty convicts to their
fate on Sable island, off the coast of Nova Scotia. Of their number,
twelve only were found alive five years subsequent to La Roche's voyage.
In 1599, another expedition was resolved on. This was undertaken by
Pontgravé, a merchant of St. Malo, and Chauvin, a captain of the marine.
In consideration of a monopoly of the fur-trade, granted them by the
king of France, these men undertook to establish a colony of five
hundred persons in New France. At Tadoussac, at the mouth of the
Saguenay, they built a cluster of wooden huts and store-houses, where
sixteen men were left to gather furs; these either died or were
scattered among the Indians before the return of the spring of 1601.
Chauvin made a second voyage to Tadoussac, but failed to establish a
permanent settlement. During a third voyage he died, and his enterprise
perished with him.

In 1603, a company of merchants of France was formed, and Samuel
Champlain, with a small band of adventurers, dispatched, in two small
vessels, to make a preliminary survey of the St. Lawrence. He reached
the valley in safety, sailed past the lofty promontory on which Quebec
now stands, and proceeded onward to the island of Hochelaga, where his
vessels were anchored. In a skiff, with a few Indians, Champlain vainly
endeavored to pass the rapids of the great river. The baffled explorer
returned to his ships. From the savages, he gleaned some information of
ulterior regions. The natives drew for him rude plans of the river
above, and its lakes and cataracts. His curiosity was inflamed, and he
resolved one day to visit the country so full of natural wonders. Now,
however, he was constrained to return to France. He had accomplished the
objects of his mission--the making of a brief exploration of the valley
of the chief river of Canada.

It was the opinion of Champlain that on the banks of the St. Lawrence
was the true site of a settlement; that here a fortified post should be
erected; that thence, by following up the waters of the interior region
to their sources, a western route might be traced to China, the distance
being estimated by him at not more than two or three hundred leagues;
and that the fur-trade of the whole country might be secured to France
by the erection of a fort at some point commanding the river. These
views, five years subsequent to his visit to the St. Lawrence, induced
the fitting out of a second expedition, for trade, exploration, and
colonization. On the thirteenth of April, 1608, Champlain again
sailed--this time with men, arms, and stores for a colony. The fur-trade
was intrusted to another. The mouth of the Saguenay was reached in June;
and, soon after, a settlement was commenced on the brink of the St.
Lawrence--the site of the present market-place of the lower town of
Quebec. A rigorous winter and great suffering followed. Supplies arrived
in the spring, and Champlain determined to enter upon his long-meditated
explorations;--the only obstacles in the way were the savage nations he
would every-where meet. He would be compelled to resort to diplomacy--to
unite a friendly tribe to his interests, and, thus strengthened, to
conquer, by force of arms, the hostile one.

The tribes of the Hurons, who dwelt on the lake which now bears their
name, and their allies, the Algonquins, upon the Ottawa and the St.
Lawrence, Champlain learned, were at war with the Iroquois, or Five
Nations, whose homes were within the present State of New York. In June,
1609, he advanced, with sixty Hurons and Algonquins and two white men,
up what is now known as the Richelieu river to the discovery of the
first of the great lakes--the one which now bears his name. Upon its
placid waters, this courageous band was stopped by a war-party of
Iroquois. On shore, the contending forces met, when a few discharges of
an arquebuse sent the advancing enemy in wild dismay back into the
forest. The victory was complete. Promptly Champlain returned to the St.
Lawrence, and his allies to their homes, not, however, until the latter
had invited the former to visit their towns and aid them again in their
wars. Champlain then revisited France, but the year 1610 found him once
more in the St. Lawrence, with two objects in view: one, to proceed
northward, to explore Hudson's bay; the other, to go westward, and
examine the great lakes and the mines of copper on their shores, of the
existence of which he had just been informed by the savages; for he was
determined he would never cease his explorations until he had penetrated
to the western sea, or that of the north, so as to open the way to
China. But, after fighting a battle with the Iroquois at the mouth of
the river Richelieu, he gave up, for the time, all thought of further
exploration, and returned to France.

On the thirteenth of May, 1611, Champlain again arrived in the St.
Lawrence. To secure the advantages of the fur-trade to his superiors was
now his principal object; and, to that end, he chose the site of the
present city of Montreal for a post, which he called Place Royale. Soon
afterward, he returned to France; but, early in the spring of 1613, the
tireless voyager again crossed the Atlantic, and sailed up the St.
Lawrence; this time bound for the Ottawa to discover the North sea.
After making his way up that river to the home of the Algonquins of Isle
des Allumettes, he returned in disgust to the St. Lawrence, and again
embarked for France.

At the site of the present city of Montreal, there had assembled, in the
summer of 1615, Hurons from their distant villages upon the shores of
their great lake, and Algonquins from their homes on the Ottawa--come
down to a yearly trade with the French upon the St. Lawrence. Champlain,
who had returned in May from France, was asked by the assembled savages
to join their bands against the Iroquois. He consented; but, while
absent at Quebec, making needful preparations, the savages became
impatient, and departed for their homes. With them went Father Joseph le
Caron, a Récollet, accompanied by twelve armed Frenchmen. It was the
intention of this missionary to learn the language of the Hurons, and
labor for their spiritual welfare. His departure from the St. Lawrence
was on the first day of July. Nine days afterward, Champlain, with two
Frenchmen and ten Indians followed him. Both parties traveled up the
Ottawa to the Algonquin villages; passed the two lakes of the
Allumettes; threaded their way to a well-trodden portage, crossing which
brought them to Lake Nipissing; thence, they floated westward down the
current of French river, to what is now known as Georgian bay;
afterward, for more than a hundred miles, they journeyed southward along
the eastern shores of that bay to its head; and there was the home of
the Hurons.

Champlain, with a naked host of allies, was soon on the march against
the Iroquois from the Huron villages, moving down the river Trent, as
since named, to its mouth, when his eyes were gladdened with the view of
another of the fresh water seas--Lake Ontario. Boldly they crossed its
broad expanse, meeting the enemy at a considerable distance inland from
its southern shores. Defensive works of the Iroquois defied the assaults
of the besiegers. The Huron warriors returned in disgust to their homes,
taking Champlain with them. He was compelled to spend the winter as the
guest of these savages, returning to the St. Lawrence by way of the
Ottawa, and reaching Quebec on the eleventh of July, 1616. He had seen
enough of the region traversed by him to know that there was an immense
country lying to the westward ready to be given to his king the moment
he should be able to explore and make it known. Father le Caron, who had
preceded Champlain on his outward trip to the Huron villages, also
preceded him on his return; but he remained long enough with those
Indians to obtain a considerable knowledge of their language and of
their manners and customs.

Quebec, at this period, could hardly be called a settlement. It
contained a population of fur-traders and friars of fifty or sixty
persons. It had a fort, and Champlain was the nominal commander. In the
interest of the infant colony he went every year to France. His was the
duty to regulate the monopoly of the company of merchants in their trade
with the Indians. In the summer of 1622, the Iroquois beset the
settlement, but made no actual attack. A change was now at hand in the
affairs of New France. Two Huguenots, William and Émery de Caen, had
taken the place of the old company of St. Malo and Rouen, but were
afterward compelled to share their monopoly with them. Fresh troubles
were thus introduced into the infant colony, not only in religious
affairs, but in secular matters. The Récollets had previously
established five missions, extending from Acadia to the borders of Lake
Huron. Now, three Jesuits--among their number John de Brébeuf--arrived
in the colony, and began their spiritual labors. This was in 1625. When
the year 1627 was reached, the settlement at Quebec had a population of
about one hundred persons--men, women, and children. The chief trading
stations upon the St. Lawrence were Quebec, Three Rivers, the Rapids of
St. Louis, and Tadoussac. Turning our eyes to the western wilds, we see
that the Hurons, after the return of Le Caron, were not again visited by
missionaries until 1622.

In the year 1627, the destinies of France were held by Cardinal
Richelieu as in the hollow of his hand. He had constituted himself grand
master and superintendent of navigation and commerce. By him the
privileges of the Caens were annulled, and a company formed, consisting
of a hundred associates, called the Company of New France. At its head
was Richelieu himself. Louis the Thirteenth made over to this company
forever the fort and settlement at Quebec, and all the territory of New
France, including Florida. To them was given power to appoint judges,
build fortresses, cast cannon, confer titles, and concede lands. They
were to govern in peace and in war. Their monopoly of the fur-trade was
made perpetual; while that of all other commerce within the limits of
their government was limited to fifteen years, except that the
whale-fishery and the cod-fishery were to remain open to all. They could
take whatever steps they might think expedient or proper for the
protection of the colony and the fostering of trade. It will thus be
seen that the Hundred Associates had conferred upon them almost
sovereign power. For fifteen years their commerce was not to be troubled
with duties or imposts. Partners, whether nobles, officers, or
ecclesiastics, might engage in commercial pursuits without derogating
from the privileges of their order. To all these benefits the king added
a donation of two ships of war. Of this powerful association, Champlain
was one of the members.

In return for these privileges conferred, behold how little these
hundred partners were compelled to perform. They engaged to convoy to
New France, during 1628, two or three hundred men of all trades, and
before the year 1643 to increase the number to four thousand persons of
both sexes; to supply all their settlers with lodging, food, clothing,
and farm implements, for three years; then they would allow them
sufficient land to support themselves, cleared to a certain extent; and
would also furnish them the grain necessary for sowing it; stipulating,
also, that the emigrants should be native Frenchmen and Roman Catholics,
and none others; and, finally, agreeing to settle three priests in each
settlement, whom they were bound to provide with every article necessary
for their personal comfort, and to defray the expenses of their
ministerial labors for fifteen years. After the expiration of that time,
cleared lands were to be granted by the company to the clergy for
maintaining the Roman Catholic Church in New France. It was thus that
the Hundred Associates became proprietors of the whole country claimed
by France, from Florida to the Arctic Circle; from Newfoundland to the
sources of the St. Lawrence and its tributaries. Meanwhile, the
fur-trade had brought a considerable knowledge of the Ottawa, and of the
country of the Hurons, to the French upon the St. Lawrence, through the
yearly visits of the savages from those distant parts and the
journeyings of the fur-trader in quest of peltry.

In April, 1628, the first vessels of the Hundred Associates sailed from
France with colonists and supplies bound for the St. Lawrence. Four of
these vessels were armed. Every thing seemed propitious for a speedy
arrival at Quebec, where the inhabitants were sorely pressed for food;
but a storm, which had for some time been brewing in Europe, broke in
fury upon New France. The imprudent zeal of the Catholics in England,
and the persecution of the Huguenots in France, aroused the English, who
determined to conquer the French possessions in North America, if
possible; and, to that end, they sent out David Kirk, with an armed
squadron, to attack the settlements in Canada. The fleet reached the
harbor of Tadoussac before the arrival of the vessels of the Company of
New France. Kirk sent a demand for the surrender of Quebec, but
Champlain determined to defend the place; at least, he resolved to make
a show of defense; and the English commander thought best not to attack
such a formidable looking position. All the supplies sent by the Hundred
Associates to the St. Lawrence were captured or sunk; and the next year,
after most of its inhabitants had dispersed in the forests for food,
Quebec surrendered. England thus gained her first supremacy upon the
great river of Canada.

The terms of the capitulation were that the French were to be conveyed
to their own country; and each soldier was allowed to take with him furs
to the value of twenty crowns. As some had lately returned from the
Hurons with peltry of no small value, their loss was considerable. The
French prisoners, including Champlain, were conveyed across the ocean by
Kirk, but their arrival in England was after a treaty of peace had been
signed between the two powers. The result was, the restoration of New
France to the French crown; and, on the 5th of July, 1632, Émery de Caen
cast anchor at Quebec to reclaim the country. He had received a
commission to hold, for one year, a monopoly of the fur-trade, as an
indemnity for his losses in the war; after which time he was to give
place to the Hundred Associates. The missions in Canada which by the
success of the British arms had been interrupted, were now to be
continued by Jesuits alone. De Caen brought with him two of that
order--Paul le Jeune and Anne de la Nouë.

On the twenty-third of May, 1633, Champlain, commissioned anew by
Richelieu, resumed command at Quebec, in behalf of the Hundred Partners,
arriving out with considerable supplies and several new settlers. With
him returned the Jesuit father, John de Brébeuf. The Récollets had been
virtually ejected from Canada. The whole missionary field was now ready
for cultivation by the followers of Loyola. New France was restored to
Champlain and his company, and to Catholicism.

Champlain's first care was to place the affairs of the colony in a more
prosperous condition, and establish a better understanding with the
Indians. In both respects, he was tolerably successful. His knowledge of
the western country had been derived from his own observations during
the tours of 1613 and 1615, but especially from accounts given him by
the Indians. At the beginning of 1634, the whole French population,
from Gaspé to Three Rivers, was hardly one hundred and fifty souls,
mostly engaged in the trading business, on behalf of the Hundred
Partners, whose operations were carried on principally at the point last
named and at Tadoussac--sometimes as far up the St. Lawrence as the site
of the present city of Montreal, but not often. Of the small colony upon
the great river of Canada, Champlain was the heart and soul. The
interior of the continent was yet to be explored. He was resolved to
know more of ulterior regions--to create more friends among the savages
therein. The time had arrived for such enterprises, and a trusty
conductor was at hand.



As early as the year 1615, Champlain had selected a number of young men
and put them in care of some of his Indian friends, to have them trained
to the life of the woods--to the language, manners, customs, and habits
of the savages. His object was to open, through them, as advisers and
interpreters, friendly relations, when the proper time should come, with
the Indian nations not yet brought in close alliance with the French. In
1618, an opportunity presented itself for him to add another young
Frenchman to the list of those who had been sent to be trained in all
the mysteries of savage life; for, in that year, John Nicolet[2] arrived
from France, and was dispatched to the woods.[3] The new-comer was born
in Cherbourg, in Normandy. His father, Thomas Nicolet, was a
mail-carrier from that city to Paris. His mother's name was Marguerite
de la Mer.[4]

Nicolet was a young man of good character, endowed with a profound
religious feeling, and an excellent memory. He awakened in the breast
of Champlain high hopes of usefulness, and was by him sent to the
Algonquins of Isle des Allumettes, in the Ottawa river. These Indians
were the same Algonquins that were visited by Champlain in 1613. They
are frequently spoken of, in early annals of Canada, as Algonquins of
the Isle. But all Algonquins, wherever found, were afterward designated
as Ottawas by the French. To "the Nation of the Isle," then, was sent
the young Norman, that he might learn their language, which was in
general use upon the Ottawa river and upon the north bank of the St.
Lawrence. With them he remained two years, following them in their
wanderings, partaking of their dangers, their fatigues, and their
privations, with a courage and fortitude equal to the boldest and the
bravest of the tribe. During all this time, he saw not the face of a
single white man. On several different occasions he passed a number of
days without a morsel of food, and he was sometimes fain to satisfy the
cravings of hunger by eating bark.[5]

Nicolet, while residing with the Algonquins of Isle des Allumettes, with
whose language he had now become familiar, accompanied four hundred of
those savages upon a mission of peace to the Iroquois. The voyage proved
a successful one, Nicolet returning in safety. Afterward, he took up his
residence among the Nipissings, with whom he remained eight or nine
years. He was recognized as one of the nation. He entered into the very
frequent councils of those savages. He had his own cabin and
establishment, doing his own fishing and trading. He had become, indeed,
a naturalized Nipissing.[6] The mental activity displayed by him while
sojourning among these savages may be judged of from the circumstance of
his having taken notes descriptive of the habits, manners, customs, and
numbers of the Nipissing Indians, written in the form of memoirs, which
were afterward presented by him to one of the missionaries, who,
doubtless, made good use of them in after-time in giving an account of
the nation.[7]

Nicolet finally left the savages, and returned to civilization, being
recalled by the government and employed as commissary and Indian
interpreter.[8] It is probable, however, that he had signified his
desire to leave the Nipissings, as he could not live without the
sacraments,[9] which were denied him so long as he remained with them,
there being no mission established in their country.[10]

Quebec having been reoccupied by the French, Nicolet took up his
residence there. He was in high favor with Champlain, who could not but
admire his remarkable adaptation to savage life--the result of his
courage and peculiar temperament; at least, this admiration may be
presumed, from the circumstance of his having, as the sequel shows, soon
after sent him upon an important mission.

Whether Nicolet visited Quebec during his long residence among the
Nipissing Indians is not known. Possibly he returned to the St. Lawrence
in 1628, to receive orders from Champlain on account of the new state of
things inaugurated by the creation of the system of 1627--the Hundred
Associates; but, in that event, he must have soon returned, for it is
known that he remained with the Nipissings during the occupation of
Quebec by the English--from July, 1629, to July, 1632. The month during
which, in the early days of New France, the trade of the Ottawa was
performed on the St. Lawrence, was July; and, in 1632, this trade was
largely carried on where the city of Three Rivers now stands, but which
was not then founded.[11] The flotilla of bark canoes used to spend
usually from eight to ten days in that place--seldom reaching Quebec. In
the month and the year just mentioned, De Caen arrived in Canada; and he
was, therefore, in the position to send word, by the assembled Indians,
to the French who were living among the savages upon the Ottawa and the
Georgian bay of Lake Huron, requesting their return to the St. Lawrence.

Champlain, in June, 1633, caused a small fort to be erected about forty
miles above Quebec, for the rendezvous of the trading flotilla
descending the St. Lawrence--to draw the market nearer Quebec. It was
thus the St. Croix fort was established where the trade with the Indians
would be much less likely to be interrupted by incursions of the
Iroquois than at Three Rivers. At this time, one hundred and fifty Huron
canoes arrived at the newly-chosen position, for traffic with the
French. Possibly so great a number was the result of the change in the
government of the colony--the return of the French to Quebec the
preceding year. With this large fleet of canoes Nicolet probably
returned to civilization; for it is certain that he was upon the St.
Lawrence as early as June, 1634, ready to embark in an undertaking
which, of necessity, would have caused so much consultation and
preparation as to preclude the idea of his arrival, just then, from the
Ottawa. An Indian interpreter--one well acquainted with the Algonquins
of the Ottawa, and to a certain extent with the Hurons of Georgian
bay--who could Champlain more safely depend upon than Nicolet to develop
his schemes of exploration in the unknown western country, the door of
which he had himself opened in previous years? Who was there better
qualified than his young _protégé_, familiar as he was with the
Algonquin and Huron-Iroquois tongues, to hold "talks" with savage tribes
still further west, and smoke with them the pipe of peace--to the end
that a nearer route to China and Japan might be discovered; or, at
least, that the fur-trade might be made more profitable to the Hundred
Associates? Surely, no one. Hence it was that Nicolet was recalled by
the governor of Canada.


[Footnote 2: The proper spelling is "Nicolet," not "Nicollet," nor
"Nicollett." The correct pronunciation is "Nick-o-lay." The people of
the province of Quebec all pronounce the name "Nicoll_ette_," though
improperly, the same as the word would be pronounced by English-speaking
people if it were spelled "Nick-o-let." But it is now invariably written
by them "Nicolet."]

[Footnote 3: Vimont, _Relation_, 1643 (Quebec edition, 1858), p. 3. The
Jesuits, intent upon pushing their fields of labor far into the heart of
the continent, let slip no opportunity after their arrival upon the St.
Lawrence to inform themselves concerning ulterior regions; and the
information thus obtained was noted down by them. They minutely
described, during a period of forty years, beginning with the year 1632,
the various tribes they came in contact with; and their hopes and fears
as to Christianizing them were freely expressed. Accounts of their
journeys were elaborated upon, and their missionary work put upon
record. Prominent persons, as well as important events, shared their
attention. Details concerning the geography of the country were also
written out. The intelligence thus collected was sent every summer by
the superiors to the provincials at Paris, where it was yearly
published, in the French language. Taken together, these publications
constitute what are known as the _Jesuit Relations_. They have been
collected and republished in the same language, at Quebec, by the
Canadian government, in three large volumes. As these are more
accessible to the general reader in this form than in the original
(Cramoisy) editions, they are cited in this narrative.

There is no complete translation of the _Relations_ into the English
language. Numerous extracts from the originals bearing particularly upon
the West--especially upon what is now Wisconsin--were made some years
since by Cyrus Woodman, of Mineral Point, translations of which are to
be found in Smith's history of that State, Vol. III., pp. 10-112. But
none of these are from the _Relation_ of 1643--the most important one in
its reference to Nicolet and his visit to the Northwest.]

[Footnote 4: "Jean Nicollet né à Cherbourg, était fils de Thomas
Nicollet, messager ordinaire de Cherbourg à Paris, et de Marie La
Mer."--Ferland's _Cours d'Histoire du Canada_ (1861), Vol. I., p. 324,
note. But, in his "Notes sur les Registres de Notre-Dame de Québec"
(Quebec, 1863, p. 30), he corrects the mother's name, giving it as in
the text above. That this was her real name is ascertained from the
Quebec parochial register, and from Guitet's records (notary) of that

[Footnote 5: Il [Nicolet] arriua en la Nouuelle France, l'an mil six
cents dixhuict. Son humeur et sa memoire excellente firent esperer
quelque chose de bon de luy; on l'enuoya hiuerner auec les Algonquins de
l'Isle afin d'apprendre leur langue. Il y demeura deux ans seul de
François, accompagnant tousiours les Barbares dans leurs courses et
voyages, auec des fatigues qui ne sont imaginables qu'à ceux qui les ont
veües; il passa plusieurs fois les sept et huiet iours sans rien manger,
il fut sept semaines entieres sans autre nourriture qu'vn peu d'escorce
de bois."--Vimont _Relation_, 1643, p. 3. (The antiquated orthography
and accentuation of the _Relations_ are strictly followed in the
foregoing extract; so, also, in all those hereafter made from them in
this narrative.)

"On his [Nicolet's] first arrival [in New France], by orders of those
who presided over the French colony of Quebec, he spent two whole years
among the Algonquins of the island, for the purpose of learning their
language, without any Frenchman as companion, and in the midst of those
hardships, which may be readily conceived, if we will reflect what it
must be to pass severe winters in the woods, under a covering of cedar
or birch bark; to have one's means of subsistence dependent upon
hunting; to be perpetually hearing rude outcries; to be deprived of the
pleasant society of one's own people; and to be constantly exposed, not
only to derision and insulting words, but even to daily peril of life.
There was a time, indeed, when he went without food for a whole week;
and (what is really wonderful) he even spent seven weeks without having
any thing to eat but a little bark."--Du Creux, _Historia Canadensis_,
Paris, 1664, p. 359. "Probably," says Margry, "he must, from time to
time, have added some of the lichen which the Canadians call rock
tripe."--_Journal Général de l'Instruction Publique_, Paris, 1862.]

[Footnote 6: "Il [_Nicolet_] accompagna quatre cents Algonquins, qui
alloient en ce temps là faire la paix auec les Hiroquois, et en vint à
bout heureusement. Pleust à Dieu qu'elle n'eust iamais esté rompuë, nous
ne souffririons pas à present les calamitez qui nous font gemir et
donneront vn estrange empeschement à la conuersion de ces peuples. Apes
cette paix faite, il alla demeurer huict ou neuf ans auec la nation des
Nipissiriniens, Algonquins; là il passoit pour vn de cette nation,
entrant dans les conseils forts frequents à ces peuples, ayant sa cabane
et son mesnage à part, faisant sa perche et sa traitte."--Vimont,
_Relation_, 1643, p. 3.]

[Footnote 7: "I'ay quelques memoires de sa main, qui pourront paroistre
vn iour, touchant les Nipisiriniens, auec lesquels il a souuent
hyuerné."--Le Jeune, _Relation_, 1636, p. 58.]

[Footnote 8: "Il [_Nicolet_] fut enfin rappallé et estably Commis et
Interprete."--Vimont, _Relation_, 1643, p. 3.]

[Footnote 9: "Il [_Nicolet_]... ne s'en est retiré, que pour mettre son
salut en asseurance dans l'vsage des Sacremens, faute desquels il y a
grande risque pour l'âme, parmy les Sauuages."--Le Jeune, _Relation_,
1636, pp. 57, 58.]

[Footnote 10: It would be quite impossible to reconcile the _Relation_
of 1643 (p. 3) with that of 1636 (pp. 57, 58), respecting Nicolet's
retiring from his Indian life, unless he, for the motive stated, asked
for his recall and was recalled accordingly.]

[Footnote 11: Champlain's map of 1632 shows no habitation on the St.
Lawrence above Quebec. In 1633, Three Rivers was virtually founded; but
the fort erected there by Champlain was not begun until 1634.--Sulte's
_Chronique Trifluvienne_, p. 5.

"As for the towns in Canada, there are but three of any considerable
figure. These are Quebec, Montreal, and Trois Rivieres [Three
Rivers].... Trois Rivieres is a town so named from its situation at the
confluence of three rivers, one whereof is that of St. Lawrence, and
lies almost in the midway between Quebec and Montreal. It is said to be
a well-built town, and considerable mart, where the Indians exchange
their skins and furs for European goods."--_An Account of the French
Settlements in North America_, Boston, 1746, pp. 12, 14.

"Three Rivers, or Trois Rivieres, is a town of Canada East, at the
confluence of the rivers St. Maurice and St. Lawrence, ninety miles from
Quebec, with which it is connected by electric telegraph, and on the
line of the proposed railway thence to Montreal. It is one of the oldest
towns in Canada, and was long stationary as regarded enterprise or
improvement; but recently it has become one of the most prosperous
places in the province--a change produced principally by the
commencement of an extensive trade in lumber on the river St. Maurice
and its tributaries, which had heretofore been neglected, and also by
increased energy in the manufacture of iron-ware, for which the St.
Maurice forges, about three miles distant from the town, have always
been celebrated in Canada. Three Rivers is the residence of a Roman
Catholic bishop, whose diocese bears the same name; and contains a Roman
Catholic cathedral, a church of England, a Scotch kirk, and a Wesleyan
chapel, an Ursuline convent, with a school attached, where over two
hundred young females are educated; two public and several private
schools, a mechanics' institute, a Canadian institute, and a Young Men's
Improvement, and several other societies. It sends a member to the
provincial parliament. Population in 1852, was 4,966; in 1861, 6,058.
The district of Three Rivers embraces both sides of the St. Lawrence,
and is subdivided into four counties."--_Lippincott's Gazetteer_,
Philadelphia, 1874.]



Notwithstanding Champlain had previously ascended the Ottawa and stood
upon the shores of the Georgian bay of Lake Huron, and although he had
received from western Indians numerous reports of distant regions, his
knowledge of the great lakes was, in 1634, exceedingly limited. He had
heard of Niagara, but was of the opinion that it was only a rapid, such
as the St. Louis, in the river St. Lawrence. He was wholly uninformed
concerning Lake Erie, Lake St. Clair, and Lake Michigan; while, of Lake
Huron, he knew little, and of Lake Superior still less. He was assured
that there was a connection between the last-named lake and the St.
Lawrence; but his supposition was, that a river flowed from Lake Huron
directly into Lake Ontario. Such, certainly was the extent of his
information in 1632, as proven by his map of that date;[12] and that,
for the next two years, he could have received much additional
information concerning the great lakes is not probable.

He had early been told that near the borders of one of these
"fresh-water seas," were copper mines; for, in June, 1610, while moving
up the St. Lawrence to join a war-party of Algonquins, Hurons, and
Montagnais, he met, after ascending the river about twenty-five miles
above Quebec, a canoe containing two Indians--an Algonquin and a
Montagnais--who had been dispatched to urge him to hasten forward with
all possible speed. He entertained them on his bark, and conferred with
them about many matters concerning their wars. Thereupon, the Algonquin
savage drew from a sack a piece of copper, a foot long, which he gave
Champlain. It was very handsome and quite pure. He said there were large
quantities of the metal where he obtained the piece, and that it was
found on the bank of a river near a great lake. He also declared that
the Indians gathered it in lumps, and, having melted it, spread it in
sheets, smoothing it with stones.[13]

Champlain had, also, early information that there dwelt in those
far-off countries a nation which once lived upon the borders of a
distant sea. These people were called, for that reason, "Men of the
Sea," by the Algonquins. Their homes were less than four hundred leagues
away. It was likewise reported that another people, without hair or
beards, whose costumes and manners somewhat resembled the Tartars, came
from the west to trade with this "sea-tribe." These more remote traders,
as was claimed, made their journeys upon a great water in large canoes.
The missionaries among the Hurons, as well as Champlain and the best
informed of the French settlers upon the St. Lawrence, thought this
"great water" must be a western sea leading to Asia.[14] Some of the
Indians who traded with the French were in the habit of going
occasionally to barter with those "People of the Sea," distant from
their homes five or six weeks' journey. A lively imagination on part of
the French easily converted these hairless traders coming from the west
into Chinese or Japanese; although, in fact, they were none other than
the progenitors of the savages now known as the Sioux,[15] while the
"sea-tribe" was the nation called, subsequently, Winnebagoes.[16] Upon
these reports, the missionaries had already built fond expectations of
one day reaching China by the ocean which washed alike the shores of
Asia and America. And, as already noticed, Champlain, too, was not less
sanguine in his hopes of accomplishing a similar journey.

Nicolet, while living with the Nipissings, must have heard many stories
of the strange people so much resembling the Chinese, and doubtless his
curiosity was not less excited than was Champlain's. But the great
question, was, who should penetrate the wilderness to the "People of the
Sea"--to "La Nation des Puants," as they were called by Champlain?
Naturally enough, the eyes of the governor of Canada were fixed upon
Nicolet as the man to make the trial. The latter had returned to Quebec,
it will be remembered, and was acting as commissary and interpreter for
the Hundred Associates. That he was paid by them and received his orders
from them through Champlain, their representative, is reasonably
certain. So he was chosen to make a journey to the Winnebagoes, for the
purpose, principally, of solving the problem of a near route to

If he should fail in discovering a new highway to the east in reaching
these "People of the Sea," it would, in any event, be an important step
toward the exploration of the then unknown west; and why should not the
explorer, in visiting the various nations living upon the eastern and
northern shores of Lake Huron, and beyond this inland sea, create
friends among the savage tribes, in hopes that a regular trade in
peltries might be established with them. To this end, he must meet them
in a friendly way; have talks with them; and firmly unite them, if
possible, to French interests. Champlain knew, from personal observation
made while traveling upon the Ottawa and the shores of the Georgian bay
of Lake Huron--from the reports of savages who came from their homes
still further westward, and from what fur-traders, missionaries, and the
young men sent by him among the savages to learn their languages (of
whom Nicolet himself was a notable example) had heard that there were
comparatively easy facilities of communication by water between the
upper country and the St. Lawrence. He knew, also, that the proper time
had come to send a trusty ambassador to these far-off nations; so, by
the end of June, 1634, Nicolet, at Quebec, was ready to begin his
eventful journey, at the command of Champlain.

"Opposite Quebec lies the tongue of land called Point Levi. One who, in
the summer of the year 1634, stood on its margin and looked northward,
across the St. Lawrence, would have seen, at the distance of a mile or
more, a range of lofty cliffs, rising on the left into the bold heights
of Cape Diamond, and on the right sinking abruptly to the bed of the
tributary river St. Charles. Beneath these cliffs, at the brink of the
St. Lawrence, he would have descried a cluster of warehouses, sheds, and
wooden tenements. Immediately above, along the verge of the precipice,
he could have traced the outlines of a fortified work, with a flag-staff
and a few small cannon to command the river; while, at the only point
where nature had made the heights accessible, a zigzag path connected
the warehouses and the fort.

"Now, embarked in the canoe of some Montagnais Indian, let him cross the
St. Lawrence, land at the pier, and, passing the cluster of buildings,
climb the pathway up the cliff. Pausing for a rest and breath, he might
see, ascending and descending, the tenants of this out-post of the
wilderness: a soldier of the fort, or an officer in slouched hat and
plume; a factor of the fur company, owner and sovereign lord of all
Canada; a party of Indians; a trader from the upper country, one of the
precursors of that hardy race of _coureurs de bois_, destined to form a
conspicuous and striking feature of the Canadian population: next,
perhaps, would appear a figure widely different. The close, black
cassock, the rosary hanging from the waist, and the wide, black hat,
looped up at the sides, proclaimed the Jesuit."[18]

There were in Canada, at this date, six of these Jesuits--Le Jeune,
Masse, De Nouë, Daniel, Davost, and Brébeuf; to the last three had been
assigned the Huron mission. On the first day of July, 1634, Daniel and
Brébeuf left Quebec for Three Rivers, where they were to meet some
Hurons. Davost followed three days after. About the same time another
expedition started up the St. Lawrence, destined for the same place, to
erect a fort. The Jesuits were bound for the scene of their future
labors in the Huron country. They were to be accompanied, at least as
far as Isle des Allumettes, by Nicolet on his way to the

At Three Rivers, Nicolet assisted in a manner in the permanent
foundation of the place, by helping to plant some of the pickets of the
fort just commenced. The Hurons, assembled there for the purposes of
trade, were ready to return to their homes, and with them the
missionaries, as well as Nicolet, expected to journey up the Ottawa. The
savages were few in number, and much difficulty was experienced in
getting permits from them to carry so many white men, as other Frenchmen
were also of the company. It was past the middle of July before all were
on their way.

That Nicolet did not visit the Winnebagoes previous to 1634, is
reasonably certain. Champlain would not, in 1632, have located upon his
map Green bay north of Lake Superior, as was done by him in that year,
had Nicolet been there before that date. As he was sent by Champlain,
the latter must have had knowledge of his going; so that had he started
in 1632, or the previous year, the governor would, doubtless, have
awaited his return before noting down, from Indian reports only, the
location of rivers and lakes and the homes of savage nations in those
distant regions.

It has already been shown, that Nicolet probably returned to Quebec in
1633, relinquishing his home among the Nipissing Indians that year. And
that he did not immediately set out at the command of Champlain to
return up the Ottawa and journey thence to the Winnebagoes, is certain;
as the savages from the west, then trading at the site of what is now
Three Rivers, were in no humor to allow him to retrace his steps, even
had he desired it.[20]

It may, therefore, be safely asserted that, before the year 1634, "those
so remote countries," lying to the northward and northwestward, beyond
the Georgian bay of Lake Huron, had never been seen by civilized man.
But, did Nicolet visit those ulterior regions in 1634, returning thence
in 1635? That these were the years of his explorations and discoveries,
there can be no longer any doubt.[21] After the ninth day of December,
of the last-mentioned year, his continued presence upon the St. Lawrence
is a matter of record, up to the day of his death, except from the
nineteenth of March, 1638, to the ninth of January, 1639. These ten
months could not have seen him journeying from Quebec to the center of
what is now Wisconsin, and return; for, deducting those which could not
have been traveled in because of ice in the rivers and lakes, and the
remaining ones were too few for his voyage, considering the number of
tribes he is known to have visited. Then, too, the Iroquois had
penetrated the country of the Algonquins, rendering it totally unsafe
for such explorations, even by a Frenchman. Besides, it may be stated
that Champlain was no longer among the living, and that with him died
the spirit of discovery which alone could have prompted the journey.

Furthermore, the marriage of Nicolet which had previously taken place,
militates against the idea of his having attempted any more daring
excursions among savage nations. As, therefore, he certainly traveled up
the Ottawa, as far as Isle des Allumettes, in 1634,[22] and as there is
no evidence of his having been upon the St. Lawrence until near the
close of the next year, the conclusion, from these facts alone, is
irresistible that, during this period, he accomplished, as hereafter
detailed, the exploration of the western countries; visited the
Winnebagoes, as well as several neighboring nations, and returned to the
St. Lawrence; all of which, it is believed, could not have been
performed in one summer.[23] But what, heretofore, has been a very
strong probability, is now seen clearly to be a fact; as it is
certainly known that an agreement for peace was made some time before
June, 1635, between certain Indian tribes (Winnebagoes and Nez Percés),
which, as the account indicates, was brought about by Nicolet in his
journey to the Far West.[24]

The sufferings endured by all the Frenchmen, except Nicolet, in
traveling up the Ottawa, were very severe. The latter had been so many
years among the Indians, was so inured to the toils of the wilderness,
that he met every hardship with the courage, the fortitude, and the
strength of the most robust savage.[25] Not so with the rest of the
party. "Barefoot, lest their shoes should injure the frail vessel, each
crouched in his canoe, toiling with unpracticed hands to propel it.
Before him, week after week, he saw the same lank, unkempt hair, the
same tawny shoulders, and long naked arms ceaselessly plying the
paddle."[26] A scanty diet of Indian-corn gave them little strength to
assist in carrying canoes and baggage across the numerous portages. They
were generally ill-treated by the savages, and only reached the Huron
villages after great peril. Nicolet remained for a time at Isle des
Allumettes, where he parted with Brébeuf.

To again meet "the Algonquins of the Isle" must have been a pleasure to
Nicolet; but he could not tarry long with them. To the Huron villages,
on the borders of Georgian bay, he was to go before entering upon his
journey to unexplored countries. To them he must hasten, as to them he
was first accredited by Champlain. He had a long distance to travel from
the homes of that nation before reaching the Winnebagoes. There was
need, therefore, for expedition. He must yet make his way up the Ottawa
to the Mattawan, a tributary, and by means of the latter reach Lake
Nipissing. Thence, he would float down French river to Georgian bay.[27]
And, even after this body of water was reached, it would require a
considerable canoe navigation, coasting along to the southward, before
he could set foot upon Huron territory. So Nicolet departed from the
Algonquins of the Isle, and arrived safely at the Huron towns.[28] Was
he a stranger to this nation? Had he, during his long sojourn among the
Nipissings, visited their villages? Certain it is he could speak their
language. He must have had, while residing with the Algonquins, very
frequent intercourse with Huron parties, who often visited Lake
Nipissing and the Ottawa river for purposes of trade.[29] But why was
Nicolet accredited by Champlain to the Hurons at all? Was not the St.
Lawrence visited yearly by their traders? It could not have been,
therefore, to establish a commerce, with them. Neither could it have
been to explore their country; for the _voyageur_, the fur-trader, the
missionary, even Champlain himself, as we have seen, had already been at
their towns. Was the refusal, a year previous, of their trading-parties
at Quebec to take the Jesuits to their homes the cause of Nicolet's
being sent to smoke the pipe of peace with their chiefs? This could not
have been the reason, else the missionaries would not have preceded him
from the Isle des Allumettes. He certainly had to travel many miles out
of his way in going from the Ottawa to the Winnebagoes by way of the
Huron villages. His object was, evidently, to inform the Hurons that the
governor of Canada was anxious to have amicable relations established
between them and the Winnebagoes, and to obtain a few of the nation to
accompany him upon his mission of peace.[30]

It was now that Nicolet, after all ceremonies and "talks" with the
Hurons were ended, began preparations for his voyage to the Winnebagoes.
He was to strike boldly into undiscovered regions. He was to encounter
savage nations never before visited. It was, in reality, the beginning
of a voyage full of dangers--one that would require great tact, great
courage, and constant facing of difficulties. No one, however,
understood better the savage character than he; no Frenchman was more
fertile of resources. From the St. Lawrence, he had brought presents to
conciliate the Indian tribes which he would meet. Seven Hurons were to
accompany him.[31] Before him lay great lakes; around him, when on land,
would frown dark forests. A birch-bark canoe was to bear the first white
man along the northern shore of Lake Huron, and upon Saint Mary's
strait[32] to the falls--"Sault Sainte Marie;" many miles on Lake
Michigan; thence, up Green bay to the homes of the Winnebagoes:[33] and
that canoe was to lead the van of a mighty fleet indeed, as the commerce
of the upper lakes can testify. With him, he had a number of presents.

What nations were encountered by him on the way to "the People of the
Sea," from the Huron villages? Three--all of Algonquin lineage--occupied
the shores of the Georgian bay, before the mouth of French river had
been reached. Concerning them, little is known, except their names.[34]
Passing the river which flows from Lake Nipissing, Nicolet "upon the
same shores of this fresh-water sea," that is, upon the shores of Lake
Huron, came next to "the Nation of Beavers,"[35] whose hunting-grounds
were northward of the Manitoulin islands.[36] This nation was afterward
esteemed among the most noble of those of Canada. They were supposed to
be descended from the Great Beaver, which was, next to the Great Hare,
their principal divinity. They inhabited originally the Beaver islands,
in Lake Michigan; afterward the Manitoulin islands; then they removed to
the main-land, where they were found by Nicolet. Farther on, but still
upon the margin of the great lake, was found another tribe.[37] This
people, and the Amikoüai, were of the Algonquin family, and their
language was not difficult to be understood by Nicolet. Entering,
finally, St. Mary's strait, his canoes were urged onward for a number of
miles, until the falls--Sault de Sainte Marie[38]--were reached: and
there stood Nicolet, the first white man to set foot upon any portion of
what was, more than a century and a half after, called "the territory
northwest of the river Ohio,"[39] now the States of Ohio, Indiana,
Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, and so much of Minnesota as lies
east of the Mississippi river.

Among "the People of the Falls,"[40] at their principal village, on the
south side of the strait, at the foot of the rapids,[41] in what is now
the State of Michigan,[42] Nicolet and his seven Hurons rested from the
fatigues of their weary voyage.[43] They were still with Algonquins.
From Lake Huron they had entered upon one of the channels of the
magnificent water-way leading out from Lake Superior, and threaded their
way, now through narrow rapids, now across (as it were) little lakes,
now around beautiful islands, to within fifteen miles of the largest
expanse of fresh water on the globe--stretching away in its grandeur to
the westward, a distance of full four hundred miles.[44] Nicolet saw
beyond him the falls; around him clusters of wigwams, which two
centuries and a half have changed into public buildings and private
residences, into churches and warehouses, into offices and stores--in
short, into a pleasantly-situated American village,[45] frequently
visited by steamboats carrying valuable freight and crowded with parties
of pleasure. The portage around the falls, where, in early times, the
Indian carried his birch-bark canoe, has given place to an excellent
canal. Such are the changes which "the course of empire" continually
brings to view in "the vast, illimitable, changing west."

Nicolet tarried among "the People of the Falls," probably, but a brief
period. His voyage, after leaving them, must have been to him one of
great interest. He returned down the strait, passing, it is thought,
through the western "detour" to Mackinaw.[46] Not very many miles
brought him to "the second fresh-water sea," Lake Michigan.[47] He is
fairly entitled to the honor of its discovery; for no white man had ever
before looked out upon its broad expanse. Nicolet was soon gliding along
upon the clear waters of this out-of-the-way link in the great chain of
lakes. The bold Frenchman fearlessly threaded his way along its northern
shore, frequently stopping upon what is now known as "the upper
peninsula" of Michigan, until the bay of Noquet[48] was reached, which
is, in reality, a northern arm of Green bay.[49] Here, upon its northern
border, he visited another Algonquin tribe;[50] also one living to the
northward of this "small lake."[51] These tribes never navigated those
waters any great distance, but lived upon the fruits of the earth.[52]
Making his way up Green bay, he finally reached the Menomonee river, its
principal northern affluent.[53]

In the valley of the Menomonee, Nicolet met a populous tribe of
Indians--the Menomonees.[54] To his surprise, no doubt, he found they
were of a lighter complexion than any other savages he had ever seen.
Their language was difficult to understand, yet it showed the nation to
be of the Algonquin stock. Their food was largely of wild rice, which
grew in great abundance in their country. They were adepts in fishing,
and hunted, with skill, the game which abounded in the forests. They had
their homes and hunting grounds upon the stream which still bears their

Nicolet soon resumed his journey toward the Winnebagoes, who had already
been made aware of his near approach; for he had sent forward one of
his Hurons to carry the news of his coming and of his mission of peace.
The messenger and his message were well received. The Winnebagoes
dispatched several of their young men to meet the "wonderful man." They
go to him--they escort him--they carry his baggage.[56] He was clothed
in a large garment of Chinese damask, sprinkled with flowers and birds
of different colors.[57] But, why thus attired? Possibly, he had
reached the far east; he was, really, in what is now the State of
Wisconsin.[58] Possibly, a party of mandarins would soon greet him and
welcome him to Cathay. And this robe--this dress of ceremony--was
brought all the way from Quebec, doubtless, with a view to such
contingency. As soon as he came in sight, all the women and children
fled, seeing a man carrying thunder in his two hands; for thus it was
they called his pistols, which he discharged on his right and on his
left.[59] He was a manito! Nicolet's journey was, for the present, at an
end. He and his Huron's "rested from their labors," among the
Winnebagoes,[60] who were located around the head of Green bay,[61]
contiguous to the point where it receives the waters of Fox river.[62]
Nicolet found the Winnebagoes a numerous and sedentary people,[63]
speaking a language radically different from any of the Algonquin
nations, as well as from the Hurons.[64] They were of the Dakota
stock.[65] The news of the Frenchman's coming spread through the
country. Four or five thousand people assembled of different tribes.[66]
Each of the chiefs gave a banquet. One of the sachems regaled his
guests with at least one hundred and twenty beavers.[67] The large
assemblage was prolific of speeches and ceremonies. Nicolet did not fail
to "speak of peace" upon that interesting occasion.[68] He urged upon
the nation the advantages of an alliance, rather than war, with the
nations to the eastward of Lake Huron. They agreed to keep the peace
with the Hurons, Nez Percés, and, possibly, other tribes; but, soon
after Nicolet's return, they sent out war parties against the Beaver
nation. Doubtless the advantages of trade with the colony upon the St.
Lawrence were depicted in glowing colors by the Frenchman. But the
courageous Norman was not satisfied with a visit to the Winnebagoes
only. He must see the neighboring tribes. So he ascended the Fox river
of Green bay, to Winnebago lake--passing through which, he again entered
that stream, paddling his canoe up its current, until he reached the
homes of the Mascoutins,[69] the first tribe to be met with after
leaving the Winnebagoes; for the Sacs[70] and Foxes[71] were not
residents of what is now Wisconsin at that period,--their migration
thither, from the east, having been at a subsequent date. Nicolet had
navigated the Fox river, a six-days' journey, since leaving the

The Mascoutins, as we have seen, were heard of by Champlain as early as
1615, as being engaged in a war with the Neuter nation and the Ottawas.
But, up to the time of Nicolet's visit, and for a number of years
subsequent (as he gave no clue himself to their locality), they were
only known as living two hundred leagues or more beyond the last
mentioned tribe--that is, that distance beyond the south end of the
Georgian bay of Lake Huron.[73] Their villages were in the valley of the
Fox river, probably in what is now Green Lake county, Wisconsin.[74]
They had, doubtless, for their neighbors, the Miamis[75] and
Kickapoos.[76] They were a vigorous and warlike nation, of Algonquin
stock, as were also the two tribes last mentioned. Nicolet, while among
the Mascoutins, heard of the Wisconsin river, which was distant only
three days' journey up the tortuous channel of the Fox. But the accounts
given him of that tributary of the Mississippi were evidently very
confused. A reference to the parent stream (confounded with the
Wisconsin) as "the great water,"[77] by the savages, caused him to
believe that he was, in reality, but three days' journey from the sea;
and so he reported after his return to the St. Lawrence.[78] Strange to
say, Nicolet resolved not to visit this ocean, although, as he believed,
so near its shores.

He traveled no further upon the Fox river,[79] but turned his course to
the southward. And the Jesuits consoled themselves, when they heard of
his shortcoming, with the hope that one day the western sea would be
reached by one of their order.[80] "In passing, I will say," wrote one
of their missionaries, in 1640, "that we have strong indications that
one can descend through the second lake of the Hurons ... into this

But why should Nicolet leave the Fox river and journey away from the
Mascoutins to the southward? The answer is, that, at no great distance,
lived the Illinois.[82] Their country extended eastward to Lake
Michigan, and westward to the Mississippi, if not beyond it. This nation
was of too much importance, and their homes too easy of access, for
Nicolet not to have visited them.[83] Upon the beautiful prairies of
what is now the state bearing their name, was this tribe located, with
some bands, probably nearly as far northward as the southern counties of
the present State of Wisconsin. It is not known in how many villages of
these savages he smoked the pipe of peace. From their homes he returned
to the Winnebagoes.

Before Nicolet left the country, on his return to the St. Lawrence, he
obtained knowledge of the Sioux--those traders from the west who, it
will be remembered, were represented as coming in canoes upon a sea to
the Winnebagoes; the same "sea," doubtless, he came so near to, but did
not behold--the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers! Although without
beards, and having only a tuft of hair upon their crowns, these Sioux
were no longer mandarins--no longer from China or Japan! Bands of this
tribe had pushed their way across the Mississippi, far above the mouth
of the Wisconsin, but made no further progress eastward. They, like the
Winnebagoes, as previously stated, were of the Dakota family. Whether
any of them were seen by Nicolet is not known;[84] but he, doubtless,
learned something of their real character. There was yet one tribe near
the Winnebagoes to be visited--the Pottawattamies.[85] They were located
upon the islands at the mouth of Green bay, and upon the main land to
the southward, along the western shores of Lake Michigan.[86] On these
Algonquins--for they were of that lineage--Nicolet, upon his return
trip, made a friendly call.[87] Their homes were not on the line of his
outward voyage, but to the south of it. Nicolet gave no information of
them which has been preserved, except that they were neighbors of the

So Nicolet, in the spring of 1635,[89] having previously made many
friends in the far northwest for his countrymen upon the St. Lawrence,
and for France, of nations of Indians, only a few of which had before
been heard of, and none ever before visited by a white man; having been
the first to discover Lake Michigan and "the territory northwest of the
river Ohio;" having boldly struck into the wilderness for hundreds of
leagues beyond the Huron villages--then the Ultima Thule of civilized
discoveries; returned, with his seven dusky companions, by way of
Mackinaw and along the south shores of the Great Manitoulin island to
the home thereon of a band of Ottawas.[90] He proceeded thence to the
Hurons; retracing, afterward, his steps to the mouth of French river,
up that stream to Lake Nipissing, and down the Mattawan and Ottawa to
the St. Lawrence; journeying, upon his return, it is thought, with the
savages upon their annual trading-voyage to the French settlements.[91]
And Nicolet's exploration was ended.[92]


[Footnote 12: This map was the first attempt at delineating the great
lakes. The original was, beyond a reasonable doubt, the work of
Champlain himself. So much of New France as had been visited by the
delineator is given with some degree of accuracy. On the whole, the map
has a grotesque appearance, yet it possesses much value. It shows where
many savage nations were located at its date. By it, several important
historical problems concerning the Northwest are solved. It was first
published, along with Champlain's "Voyages de la Novelle France," in
Paris. Fac-similes have been published; one accompanies volume third of
E. B. O'Callaghan's "Documentary History of the State of New York,"
Albany, 1850; another is found in a reprint of Champlain's works by
Laverdière (Vol. VI.), Quebec, 1870; another is by Tross, Paris.]

[Footnote 13: Champlain's _Voyages_, Paris, 1613, pp. 246, 247. Upon his
map of 1632, Champlain marks an island "where, there is a copper mine."
Instead of being placed in Lake Superior, as it doubtless should have
been, it finds a location in Green bay.]

[Footnote 14: This "great water" was, as will hereafter be shown, the
Mississippi and its tributary, the Wisconsin.]

[Footnote 15: Synonyms: Cioux, Scious, Sioust, Naduessue, Nadouesiouack,
Nadouesiouek, Nadoussi, Nadouessioux, etc.

"The Sioux, or Dakotah [Dakota], ... were [when first visited by
civilized men] a numerous people, separated into three great divisions,
which were again subdivided into bands.... [One of these divisions--the
most easterly--was the Issanti.] The other great divisions, the Yanktons
and the Tintonwans, or Tetons, lived west of the Mississippi, extending
beyond the Missouri, and ranging as far as the Rocky Mountains. The
Issanti cultivated the soil; but the extreme western bands lived upon
the buffalo alone....

"The name Sioux is an abbreviation of _Nadoucssioux_, an Ojibwa
[Chippewa] word, meaning _enemies_. The Ojibwas used it to designate
this people, and occasionally, also, the Iroquois--being at deadly war
with both."--Parkman's "La Salle and the Discovery of the Great West"
(revised ed.), p. 243, note.]

[Footnote 16: From the Algonquin word "ouinipeg," signifying "bad
smelling water," as salt-water was by them designated. When, therefore,
the Algonquins spoke of this tribe as the "Ouinipigou," they simply
meant "Men of the Salt-water;" that is, "Men of the Sea." But the French
gave a different signification to the word, calling the nation "Men of
the Stinking-water;" or, rather, "the Nation of Stinkards"--"la Nation
des Puans." And they are so designated by Champlain in his "Voyages," in
1632, and on his map of that year. By Friar Gabriel Sagard ("Histoire du
Canada," Paris, 1636, p. 201), they are also noted as "des Puants."
Sagard's information of the Winnebagoes, although printed after
Nicolet's visit to that tribe, was obtained previous to that event. The
home of this nation was around the head of Green bay, in what is now the
State of Wisconsin. Says Vimont (_Relation_, 1640, p. 35), as to the
signification of the word "ouinipeg:"

"Quelques François les appellant la Nation des Puans, à cause que le mot
Algonquin ouinipeg signifie eau puante; or ils nomment ainsi l'eau de la
mer salée, si bien que ces peuples se nomment Ouinipigou, pource qu'ils
viennent des bords d'vne mer dont nous n'auons point de cognoissance, et
par consequent il ne faut pas les appeller la nation des Puans, mais la
nation de la mer." The same is reiterated in the _Relations_ of 1648 and
1654. Consult, in this connection, Smith's "History of Wisconsin," Vol.
III., pp. 11, 15, 17. To John Gilmary Shea belongs the credit of first
identifying the "Ouinipigou," or "Gens de Mer," of Vimont (_Relation_,
1640), with the Winnebagoes. See his "Discovery and Exploration of the
Mississippi Valley," 1853, pp. 20, 21.]

[Footnote 17: It is nowhere stated in the _Relations_ that such was the
object of Champlain in dispatching Nicolet to those people;
nevertheless, that it was the chief purpose had in view by him, is
fairly deducible from what is known of his purposes at that date. He
had, also, other designs to be accomplished.]

[Footnote 18: Parkman's "Jesuits in North America," pp. 1, 2.]

[Footnote 19: This is assumed, although in no account that has been
discovered is it expressly asserted that he visited the tribe just
mentioned during this year. In no record, contemporaneous or later, is
the date of his journey thither given, except approximately. The fact of
Nicolet's having made the journey to the Winnebagoes is first noticed by
Vimont, in the _Relation_ of 1640, p. 35. He says: "Ie visiteray tout
maintenant le costé du Sud, ie diray on passant que le sieur Nicolet,
interprete en langue Algonquine et Huronne pour Messieurs de la nouuelle
France, m'a donné les noms de ces nations qu'il a visitées luy mesme
pour la pluspart dans leur pays, tous ces peuples entendent l'Algonquin,
excepté les Hurons, qui out vne langue à part, comme aussi les
Ouinipigou [_Winnebagoes_] ou gens de mer." The year of Nicolet's visit,
it will be noticed, is thus left undetermined. The extract only shows
that it must have been made "in or before" 1639.]

[Footnote 20: As to the temper of the Hurons at that date, see Parkman's
"Jesuits in North America," p. 51.]

[Footnote 21: The credit of first advancing this idea is due to Benjamin
Sulte. See his article entitled "Jean Nicolet," in "Mélanges d'Histoire
et de Littérature," Ottawa, 1876, pp. 426, 436.]

[Footnote 22: Brébeuf, _Relation des Hurons_, 1635, p. 30. He says:
"Jean Nicolet, en son voyage qu'il fit auec nous iusques à l'Isle,"
etc.; meaning the Isle des Allumettes, in the Ottawa river.]

[Footnote 23: Incidents recorded in the _Relations_, and in the parish
church register of Three Rivers, show Nicolet to have been upon the St.
Lawrence from December 9, 1635, to his death, in 1642, except during the
ten months above mentioned. It is an unfortunate fact that, for those
ten months, the record of the church just named is missing. For this
information I am indebted to Mr. Benjamin Sulte. Could the missing
record be found, it would be seen to contain, without doubt, some
references to Nicolet's presence at Three Rivers. As the _Relation_ of
1640 mentions Nicolet's visit to the Winnebagoes, it could not have been
made subsequent to 1639. It has already been shown how improbable it is
that his journey was made previous to 1634. It only remains, therefore,
to give his whereabouts previous to 1640, and subsequent to 1635. His
presence in Three Rivers, according to Mr. Sulte (see Appendix, I., to
this narrative), is noted in the parish register in December, 1635; in
May, 1636; in November and December, 1637; in March, 1638; in January,
March, July, October, and December, 1639. As to mention of him in the
_Relations_ during those years, see the next chapter of this work.

It was the identification by Mr. Shea, of the Winnebagoes as the
"Ouinipigou," or "Gens de Mer," of the _Relations_, that enabled him to
call the attention of the public to the extent of the discoveries of
Nicolet. The claims of the latter, as the discoverer of the Northwest,
were thus, for the first time, brought forward on the page of American

[Footnote 24: "Le huictiesme de Iuin, le Capitaine des Naiz percez, ou
de la Nation du Castor, qui est à trois iournées de nous, vint nous
demander quelqu'vn de nos François, pour aller auec eux passer l'Este
dans vn fort qu'ils ont fait, pour la crainte qu'ils ont des
_A8eatsi8aenrrhonon_, c'est à dire, des gens puants, qui ont rompu le
traicté de paix, et ont tuè deux de leurs dont ils ont fait festin."--Le
Jeune, _Relation_, 1636, p. 92.

"On the 18th of June [1635], the chief of the Nez Percés, or Beaver
Nation, which is three days' journey from us [the Jesuit missionaries,
located at the head of Georgian bay of Lake Huron], came to demand of us
some one of our Frenchmen to go with them to pass the summer in a fort
which they have made, by reason of the fear which they have of the
_Aweatiswaenrrhonon_;[A] that is to say, of the Nation of the Puants
[Winnebagoes], who have broken the treaty of peace, and have killed two
of their men, of whom they have made a feast."]

[Footnote A: The figure 8 which occurs in this word in the _Relation_ of
1636, is supposed to be equivalent, in English, to "w," "we," or "oo."]

[Footnote 25: 'Iean Nicolet, en son voyage qu'il fit auec nous iusques à
l'Isle souffrit aussi tous les trauaux d'vn des plus robustes
Sauuages.'--Brébeuf, _Relation_, 1635, p. 30.]

[Footnote 26: Parkman's "Jesuits in North America," p. 53.]

[Footnote 27: The Mattawan has its source on the very verge of Lake
Nipissing, so that it was easy to make a "portage" there to reach the
lake. The Indians, and afterward the French, passed by the Mattawan,
Mattouane, or Mattawin ("the residence of the beaver"), went over the
small space of land called the "portage," that exists between the two
waters, floated on Lake Nipissing, and followed the French river, which
flows directly out of that lake to the Georgian bay.

A "portage" is a place, as is well known, where parties had to "port"
their baggage in order to reach the next navigable water.]

[Footnote 28: Vimont, _Relation_, 1643, p. 3.]

[Footnote 29: "Sieur Nicolet, interpreter en langue Algonquine et
Huronne," etc.--Vimont, _Relation_, 1640, p. 35.

The Hurons and Nipissings were, at that date, great friends, having
constant intercourse, according to all accounts of those days.]

[Footnote 30: "The People of the Sea"--that is, the Winnebagoes--were
frequently at war with the Hurons, Nez Percés, and other nations on the
Georgian bay, which fact was well known to the governor of Canada. Now,
the good offices of Nicolet were to be interposed to bring about a
reconciliation between these nations. He, it is believed, was also to
carry out Champlain's policy of making the Indian tribes the allies of
the French. Vimont (_Relation_, 1643, p. 3) says, he was chosen to make
a journey to the Winnebagoes and treat for peace with them _and with the
Hurons_; showing, it is suggested, that it was not only to bring about a
peace _between the two tribes_, but to attach them both to French
interests. The words of Vimont are these:

"Pendant qu'il exerçoit cette charge, il [_Nicolet_] fut delegué pour
faire vn voyage en la nation appellée des Gens de Mer, et traitter la
paix auec eux et les Hurons, desquels il sont esloignés, tirant, vers
l'Oüest, d'enuiron trois cents lieuës."]

[Footnote 31: "Il [_Nicolet_] s'embarque au pays des Hurons avec sept
Sauuages."--Vimont, _Relation_, 1643, p. 3.]

[Footnote 32: Saint Mary's strait separates the Dominion of Canada from
the upper peninsula of Michigan, and connects Lake Superior with Lake

[Footnote 33: The route taken by Nicolet, from the mouth of French
river, in journeying toward the Winnebagoes, is sufficiently indicated
by (1) noting that, in mentioning the various tribes visited by him,
Nicolet probably gave their names, except the Ottawas, in the order in
which he met them; and (2) by calculating his time as more limited on
his return than on his outward trip, because of his desire to descend
the Ottawa with the annual flotilla of Huron canoes, which would reach
the St. Lawrence in July, 1635.]

[Footnote 34: The Ouasouarim, the Outchougai, and the
Atchiligoüan.--Vimont, _Relation_, 1640, p. 34.]

[Footnote 35: Called Amikoüai (_Rel._, 1640, p. 34), from _Amik_ or
_Amikou_--a beaver.]

[Footnote 36: The Manitoulin islands stretch from east to west along the
north shores of Lake Huron, and consist chiefly of the Great Manitoulin
or Sacred Isle, Little Manitoulin or Cockburn, and Drummond. Great
Manitoulin is eighty miles long by twenty broad. Little Manitoulin has a
diameter of about seven miles. Drummond is twenty-four miles long, with
a breadth varying from two to twelve miles. It is separated from the
American shore, on the west, by a strait called the True Detour, which
is scarcely one mile wide, and forms the principal passage for vessels
proceeding to Lake Superior.]

[Footnote 37: The Oumisagai.--Vimont, _Relation_, 1640, p. 34.]

[Footnote 38: These falls are distinctly marked on Champlain's map of
1632; and on that of Du Creux of 1660.]

[Footnote 39: In giving Nicolet this credit, it is necessary to state,
that the governor of Canada, in 1688, claimed that honor for Champlain
(N. Y. Col. Doc, Vol. IX., p. 378). He says:

"In the years 1611 and 1612, he [Champlain] ascended the Grand river
[Ottawa] as far as Lake Huron, called the Fresh sea [La Mer Douce]; he
went thence to the Petun [Tobacco] Nation, next to the Neutral Nation
and to the Macoutins [Mascoutins], who were then residing near the place
called the Sakiman [that part of the present State of Michigan lying
between the head of Lake Erie and Saginaw bay, on Lake Huron]; from that
he went to the Algonquin and Huron tribes, at war against the Iroquois
[Five Nations]. He passed by places he has, himself, described in his
book [Les Voyages De La Novvelle France, etc., 1632], which are no other
than Detroit [_i.e._, "the straight," now called Detroit river] and Lake
Erie."--_Mem. of M. de Denonville_, _May 8, 1688_.

The reader is referred to Champlain's Map of 1632, and to "his book" of
the same date, for a complete refutation of the assertion as to his
visiting, at any time before that year, the Mascoutins. In 1632,
Champlain, as shown by his map of that year, had no knowledge whatever
of Lake Erie or Lake St. Clair, nor had he previously been so far west
as Detroit river. It is, of course, well known, that he did not go west
of the St. Lawrence during that year or subsequent to that date.
Locating the Mascoutins "near the place called the Sakiman," is as
erroneous as that Champlain ever visited those savages. The reported
distance between him when at the most westerly point of his journeyings
and the Mascoutins is shown by himself: "After having visited these
people [the Tobacco Nation, in December, 1615] we left the place and
came to a nation of Indians which we have named the Standing Hair
[Ottawas], who were very much rejoiced to see us again [he had met them
previously on the Ottawa river], with whom also we formed a friendship,
and who, in like manner, promised to come and find us and see us at the
said habitation. At this place it seems to me appropriate to give a
description of their country, manners, and modes of action. In the first
place, they make war upon another nation of Indians, called the
Assistagueronon, which means nation of fire [Mascoutins], ten days
distant from them."--_Voyages_, 1632, I., p. 262 [272].

Upon his map of 1632, Champlain speaks of the "discoveries" made by him
"in the year 1614 and 1615, until in the year 1618"--"of this great lake
[Huron], and of all the lands _from the Sault St. Louis_ [the rapids in
the St. Lawrence];"--but he nowhere intimates that he had made
discoveries _west_ of that lake. It is, therefore, certain that the
first white man who ever saw or explored any portion of the territory
forming the present State of Michigan was John Nicolet--not Champlain.
Compare Parkman's "Pioneers of France in the New World," Chap. XIV., and
map illustrative of the text.]

[Footnote 40: Their name, as stated by Nicolet and preserved in the
_Relation_ of 1640, was Baouichtigouin; given in the _Relation_ of
1642, as Paüoitigoüeieuhak--"inhabitants of the falls;" in the
_Relation_ of 1648, as Paouitagoung--"nation of the Sault;" on Du Creux'
map of 1660, "Pasitig8ecü;" and they were sometimes known as
Paouitingouach-irini--"the men of the shallow cataract." They were
estimated, in 1671, at one hundred and fifty souls. They then united
with other kindred nations.

By the French, these tribes, collectively, were called Sauteurs; but
they were known to the Iroquois as Estiaghicks, or Stiagigroone--the
termination, _roone_, meaning men, being applied to Indians of the
Algonquin family. They were designated by the Sioux as Raratwaus or
"people of the falls." They were the ancestors of the modern Otchipwes,
or Ojibwas (Chippewas).]

[Footnote 41: That this was the location in 1641 is certain. Shea's
_Catholic Missions_, p. 184. In 1669, it was, probably, still at the
foot of the rapids, on the southern side. _Id._, p. 361. Besides, when
the missionaries first visited the Sault, they were informed that the
place had been occupied for a long period. The falls are correctly
marked upon Champlain's map of 1632.]

[Footnote 42: The earliest delineation, to any extent, of the present
State of Michigan, is that to be found on Du Creux' Map of 1660, where
the two peninsulas are very well represented in outline.]

[Footnote 43: The names of the tribes thus far visited by Nicolet, and
their relative positions, are shown in the following from Vimont
(_Relation_, 1640, p. 34), except that the "cheueux releuez" were not
called upon by him until his return:

"I'ay dit qu'à l'entrée du premier de ces Lacs se rencontrent les
Hurons; les quittans pour voguer plus haut dans le lac, on truue au Nord
les Ouasouarim, plus haut sont les Outchougai, plus haut encore à
l'embouchure du fleuue qui vient du Lac Nipisin sont les Atchiligoüan.
Au delà sur les mesmes riues de ceste mer douce sont les Amikoüai, ou la
nation du Castor, au Sud desquels est vne Isle dans ceste mer douce
longue d'enuiron trente lieuës habitée des Outaouan, ce sont peuples
venus de la nation des cheueux releuez. Apres les Amikoüai sur les
mesmes riues du grand lac sont les Oumisagai, qu'on passe pour venir à
Baouichtigouin, c'est à dire, à la nation des gens du Sault, pource
qu'en effect il y a vn Sault qui se iette en cet endroit dans la mer

[Footnote 44: Lake Superior is distinctly marked on Champlain's map of
1632, where it appears as "Grand Lac." Was it seen by Nicolet? This is a
question which will probably never be answered to the satisfaction of
the historian.]

[Footnote 45: Sault Sainte Marie (pronounced _soo-saint-máry_),
county-seat of Chippewa county, Michigan, fifteen miles below the outlet
of Lake Superior.]

[Footnote 46: The Straits of Mackinaw connect Lake Michigan with Lake
Huron. Of the word "Mackinaw," there are many synonyms to be found upon
the pages of American history: Mackinac, Michillmakinaw,
Michillimakinac, Michilimakina, Michiliakimawk, Michilinaaquina,
Miscilemackina, Miselimackinack, Misilemakinak, Missilimakina,
Missilimakinac, Missilimakinak, Missilimaquina, Missilimaquinak, etc.]

[Footnote 47: Machihiganing was the Indian name; called by the French at
an early day, Mitchiganon,--sometimes the Lake of the Illinois, Lake St.
Joseph, or Lake Dauphin. I know of no earlier representation of this
lake than that on Du Creux' map of 1660. It is there named the "Magnus
Lacus Algonquinorum, seu Lacus Foetetium [Foetentium]." This is
equivalent to Great Algonquin Lake, or Lake of the Puants; that is,
Winnebago Lake. On a map by Joliet, recently published by Gabriel
Gravier, it is called "Lac des Illinois ou Missihiganin."]

[Footnote 48: Bay du Noquet, or Noque. That the "small lake" visited by
Nicolet was, in fact, this bay, is rendered probable by the phraseology
employed by Vimont in the _Relation_ of 1640, p. 35. He says: "Passing
this small lake [from the Sault Sainte Marie], we enter into the second
fresh-water sea [Lake Michigan and Green bay]." It is true Vimont speaks
of "the small lake" as lying "beyond the falls;" but his meaning is,
"nearer the Winnebagoes." If taken literally, his words would indicate
a lake further up the strait, above the Sault Sainte Marie, meaning Lake
Superior, which, of course, would not answer the description of a small
lake. It must be remembered that the missionary was writing at his home
upon the St. Lawrence, and was giving his description from his

[Footnote 49: Synonyms: La Baye des Eaux Puantes, La Baye, Enitajghe
(Iroquois), Baie des Puants, La Grande Baie, Bay des Puants.]

[Footnote 50: Called the Roquai, by Vimont, in the _Relation_ of 1640,
p. 34--probably the Noquets--afterwards classed with the Chippewas.]

[Footnote 51: Called the Mantoue in the _Relation_ just cited. They were
probably the Nantoue of the _Relation_ of 1671, or Mantoueouee of the
map attached thereto. They are mentioned, at that date, as living near
the Foxes. In the _Relation_ of 1673, they are designated as the
Makoueoue, still residing near the Foxes.]

[Footnote 52: "Au delà de ce Sault on trouue le petit lac, sur les bords
duquel du costé du Nord sont les Roquai. Au Nord de ceux-cy sont
Mantoue, ces peuples ne nauigent guiere, viuans des fruicts de la
terre."--Vimont, _Relation_, 1640, pp. 34, 35.]

[Footnote 53: The Menomonee river forms a part of the northeastern
boundary of Wisconsin, running in a southeasterly direction between this
state and Michigan, and emptying into Green bay on the northwest side.
The earliest location, on a map, of a Menomonee village, is that given
by Charlevoix on his "Carte des Lacs du Canada," accompanying his
"Histoire et Description Generale de la Nouvelle France," Vol. I.,
Paris, 1744. The village ("des Malonines") is placed at the mouth of the
river, on what is now the Michigan side of the stream.]

[Footnote 54: Synonyms: Maroumine, Oumalouminek, Oumaominiecs,
Malhominies,--meaning, in Algonquin, wild rice (_Zizania aquatica_ of
Linnæus). The French called this grain wild oats--folles avoine; hence
they gave the name of Les Folles Avoine to the Menomonees.

"Passant ce plus petit lac, on entre dans la seconde mer douce, sur les
riues de laquelle sont les Maroumine."--Vimont, _Relation_, 1640, p.

[Footnote 55: I have drawn, for this description of the Menomonees, upon
the earliest accounts preserved of them; but these are of dates some
years subsequent to Nicolet's visit. (Compare Marquette's account in his
published narrative, by Shea.) Vimont seems not to have derived any
knowledge of them from Nicolet, beside the simple fact of his having
visited them; at least, he says nothing further in the _Relation_ of

[Footnote 56: "Two days' journey from this tribe [the Winnebagoes], he
sent one of his savages," etc.--Vimont, _Relation_, 1643, p. 3. This was
just the distance from the Menomonees. Du Creux, although following the
_Relation_ of 1643, makes Nicolet an ambassador of the Hurons, for he
says (Hist. Canada, p. 360): "When he [Nicolet] was two days distant
[from the Winnebagoes], he sent forward one of his own company to make
known to the nation to which they were going, that a European ambassador
was approaching with gifts, who, in behalf of the Hurons, desired to
secure their friendship." But the following is the account of Vimont
(_Relation_, 1643, p. 3), from the time of Nicolet's departure from the
Huron villages to his being met by the young men of the Winnebagoes:

"Ils [_Nicolet and his seven Hurons_] passerent par quantité de petites
nations, en allant et en reuenant; lors qu'ils y arriuoient, ils
fichoient deux bastons en terre, auquel ils pendoient des presens, afin
d'oster à ces peuples la pensée de les prendre pour ennemis et de les
massacrer. A deux iournées de cette nation, il enuoya vn de ces Sauuages
porter la nouuelle de la paix, laquelle fut bien receuë, nommément quand
on entendit que c'estoit vn European qui portoit la parole. On depescha
plusieurs ieunes gens pour aller au deuant du Manitouiriniou, c'est à
dire de l'homme merueilleux; on y vient, on le conduit, on porte tout son

[Footnote 57: Compare Parkman's "Discovery of the Great West," p. xx.
"Il [_Nicolet_] estoit reuestu d'vne grande robe de damas de la Chine,
toute parsemée de fleurs et d'oyseaux de diuerses couleurs."--Vimont,
_Relation_, 1643, p. 3.]

[Footnote 58: Wisconsin takes its name from its principal river, which
drains an extensive portion of its surface. It rises in Lake Vieux
Desert (which is partly in Michigan and partly in Wisconsin), flows
generally a south course to Portage, in what is now Columbia county,
where it turns to the southwest, and, after a further course of one
hundred and eighteen miles, with a rapid current, reaches the
Mississippi river, four miles below Prairie du Chien. Its entire length
is about four hundred and fifty miles, descending, in that distance, a
little more than one thousand feet. Along the lower portion of the
stream are the high lands or river hills. Some of these hills present
high and precipitous faces towards the water. Others terminate in knobs.
The name is supposed to have been taken from this feature; the word
being derived from _mis-si_, great, and _os-sin_, a stone or rock.

Compare Shea's _Discovery and Exploration of the Mississippi_, pp. 6
(note) and 268; Foster's _Mississippi Valley_, p. 2 (note);
Schoolcraft's _Thirty Years with the Indian Tribes_, p. 220 and note.

Two definitions of the word are current--as widely differing from each
other as from the one just given. (See Wis. Hist. Soc. Coll., Vol. I., p.
111, and Webster's Dic., Unabridged, p. 1632.) The first--"the gathering
of the waters"--has no corresponding words in Algonquin at all
resembling the name; the same may be said of the second--"wild rushing
channel." (See Otchipwe Dic. of Rev. F. Baraga.)

Since first used by the French, the word "Wisconsin" has undergone
considerable change. On the map by Joliet, recently brought to light by
Gravier, it is given as "Miskonsing." In Marquette's journal, published
by Thevenot, in Paris, 1681, it is noted as the "Meskousing." It
appeared there for the first time in print. Hennepin, in 1683, wrote
"Onisconsin" and "Misconsin;" Charlevoix, 1743, "Ouisconsing;" Carver,
1766, "Ouisconsin" (English--"Wisconsin"): since which last mentioned
date, the orthography has been uniform.]

[Footnote 59: "Si tost qu'on l'apperceut toutes les femmes et les enfans
s'enfuïrent, voyant vn homme porter le tonnerre en ses deux mains (c'est
ainsi qu'ils nommoient deux pistolets qu'il tenoit)."--Vimont,
_Relation_, 1643, p. 3.

Du Creux (Hist. Canada, p. 360) has this rendering of Vimont's language:
"He [Nicolet] carried in each hand a small pistol. When he had
discharged these (for he must have done this, though the French author
does not mention the fact), the more timid persons, boys and women,
betook themselves to flight, to escape as quickly as possible from a man
who (they said) carried the thunder in both his hands." And thus Parkman
("Discovery of the Great West," p. xx.): "[Nicolet] advanced to meet the
expectant crowd with a pistol in each hand. The squaws and children
fled, screaming that it was a manito, or spirit, armed with thunder and

[Footnote 60: Synonyms: Ouinipigou, Ouinbegouc, Ouinipegouc,
Ouenibegoutz--Gens de Mer, Gens de Eaux de Mer--Des Puans, Des Puants,
La Nation des Puans, La Nation des Puants, Des Gens Puants.

By the Hurons, this nation was known as A8eatsi8aenrrhonon (_Relation_,
1636, p. 92); by the Sioux, as Ontonkah; but they called themselves
Otchagras, Hochungara, Ochungarand, or Horoji.]

[Footnote 61: Champlain's map of 1632 gives them that location. La Jeune
(_Relation_, 1639, p. 55) approximates their locality thus:

... "Nous auons aussi pensé d'appliquer quelques-vns à la connoissance de
nouuelles langues. Nous iettions les yeux sur trois autres des Peuples
plus voisins: sur celle des Algonquains, espars de tous costez, et au
Midy, et au Septentrion de nostre grand Lac; sur celle de la Nation
neutre, qui est vne maistresse porte pour les païs meridionaux, et sur
celle de la Nation des Puants, qui est vn passage des plus considerables
pour les païs Occidentaux, vn peu plus Septentrionaux."

"We [the missionaries] have also thought of applying ourselves, some of
us, to the task of acquiring a knowledge of new languages. We turn our
eyes on three other nations nearer: on that of the Algonquins, scattered
on every side, both to the south and north of our great lake [Huron]; on
that of the Neuter nation, which affords a principal entrance to the
countries on south; and on that of the nation of the Puants
[Winnebagoes], which is one of the more important thoroughfares to the
western countries, a little more northern."]

[Footnote 62: Fox river heads in the northeastern part of Columbia
county, Wisconsin, and in the adjoining portions of Green Lake county.
Flowing, at first, southwest and then due west, it approaches the
Wisconsin at Portage, county-seat of Columbia county. When within less
than two miles of that river, separated from it by only a low, sandy
plain--the famous "portage" of early days--it turns abruptly northward,
and with a sluggish current, continues on this course, for twelve miles,
to the head of Lake Buffalo, in the southern part of which is now
Marquette county, Wisconsin. It now begins a wide curve, which brings
its direction finally around due east. Lake Buffalo is merely an
expansion of the river, thirteen and one-half miles long and half a mile
wide. From the foot of this lake, the river runs in an irregular,
easterly course, with a somewhat rapid current, to the head of Puckaway
lake, which is eight and one-fourth miles in length, and from one to two
miles wide. At the foot of this lake there are wide marshes through
which the river leaves on the north side, and, after making a long,
narrow bend to the west, begins a northeast stretch, which it continues
for a considerable distance, passing, after receiving the waters of Wolf
river, around in a curve to the southeast through Big Butte Des Morts
lake, and reaching Lake Winnebago, into which it flows at the city of

The river leaves Winnebago lake in two channels, at the cities of
Menasha and Neenah, flowing in a westerly course to the Little Butte Des
Morts lake, and through the latter in a north course, when it soon takes
a northeasterly direction, which it holds until it empties into the head
of Green bay. The stream gets its name from the Fox tribe of Indians
formerly residing in its valley. Upon Champlain's map of 1632, it is
noted as "Riviere des Puans;" that is, "River of the Puans"--Winnebago
river. The name Neenah (water), sometimes applied to it, is a misnomer.]

[Footnote 63: "Plus auant encore sur les mesmes riues habitent les
Ouinipigou [Winnebagoes], peuples sedentaires qui sont en grand
nombre."--Vimont, _Relation_, 1640, p. 35.]

[Footnote 64: "Tous ces peuples entendent l'Algonquin, excepté les
Hurons, qui out vne langue à part, comme aussi les Ouinipigou
[Winnebagoes] ou gens de mer."--Ibid.]

[Footnote 65: The Winnebagoes and some bands of Sioux were the only
Dakotas that crossed the Mississippi in their migratory movement

[Footnote 66: Says Vimont (_Relation_, 1643, pp. 3, 4): "La nouuelle de
sa venuë s'espandit incontinent aux lieu circonuoisins: il se fit vne
assemblée, de quartre ou cinq mille hommes."

But this number is lessened somewhat by the _Relation_ of 1656 (p. 39):

"Vn François m'a dit autrefois, qu'il auoit veu trois mille hommes dans
vne assemblée qui se fit pour traiter de paix, au Païs des gens de Mer."

"A Frenchman [Nicolet] told me some time ago, that he had seen three
thousand men together in one assemblage, for the purpose of making a
treaty of peace in the country of the People of the Sea [Winnebagoes]."]

[Footnote 67: "Chacun des principaux fit son festin, en l'vn desquels on
seruit au moins six-vingts Castors."--Vimont, _Relation_, 1643, p. 4.]

[Footnote 68: Shea ("Discovery and Exploration of the Mississippi
Valley," p. 20) has evidently caught the true idea of Nicolet's mission
to the Winnebagoes. He says: "With these [Winnebagoes] Nicolet entered
into friendly relations."]

[Footnote 69: Synonyms: Masscoutens, Maskoutens, Maskouteins,
Musquetens, Machkoutens, Maskoutench, etc. They were called by the
French, "Les Gens de Feu"--the Nation of Fire; by the Hurons,
"Assistagueronons" or "Atsistaehronons," from _assista_, fire and
_ronons_, people; that is, Fire-People or Fire-Nation. By Champlain,
they were noted, in 1632, as "Les Gens de Feu a Bistagueronons" on his
map. This is a misprint for "Assistagueronons," as his "Voyages" of that
year shows. I., p. 262 [272].

"The Fire Nation bears this name erroneously, calling themselves
Maskoutench, which signifies 'a land bare of trees,' such as that which
these people inhabit; but because by the change of a few letters, the
same word signifies, 'fire,' from thence it has come that they are
called the 'Fire Nation.'"--_Relation_, 1671, p. 45.]

[Footnote 70: Synonyms: Sauks, Saukis, Ousakis, Sakys, etc.]

[Footnote 71: Synonyms: Outagamis, Les Renards, Musquakies.]

[Footnote 72: The distance by days up the Fox river of Green bay from
the Winnebagoes to the Mascoutins, is given in accordance with the
earliest accounts of canoe navigation upon that stream. The first white
persons to pass up the river after Nicolet were Allouez and his
attendants, in April, 1670. That missionary (_Relation_, 1670, pp. 96,
97, 99), says:

"The 16th of April [1670], I embarked to go and commence the mission of
the Outagamis [Fox Indians], a people well known in all these parts. We
were lying at the head of the bay [Green bay], at the entrance of the
River of the Puants [Fox river], which we have named 'St. Francis;' in
passing, we saw clouds of swans, bustards, and ducks; the savages take
them in nets at the head of the bay, where they catch as many as fifty
in a night; this game, in the autumn, seek the wild rice that the wind
has shaken off in the month of September.

"The 17th [of April of the same year], we went up the River St. Francis
[the Fox]--two and sometimes three arpens wide. After having advanced
four leagues, we found the village of the savages named Saky [Sacs,
Saukis, or Sauks], who began a work that merits well here to have its
place. From one side of the river to the other, they made a barricade,
planting great stakes, two fathoms from the water, in such a manner that
there is, as it were, a bridge above for the fishers, who, by the aid of
a little bow-net, easily take sturgeons and all other kinds of fish
which this pier stops, although the water does not cease to flow between
the stakes. They call this device Mitihikan ["Mitchiganen" or
"Machihiganing," now "Michigan"]; they make use of it in the spring and
a part of the summer.

"The 18th [of the same month], we made the portage which they call
Kekaling [afterwards variously spelled, and pronounced "Cock-o-lin;"
meaning, it is said, the place of the fish. In the fall of 1851, a
village was laid out there, which is known as Kaukauna]; our sailors
drew the canoe through the rapids; I walked on the bank of the river,
where I found apple-trees and vine stocks [grape vines] in abundance.

"The 19th [April], our sailors ascended the rapids, by using poles, for
two leagues. I went by land as far as the other portage, which they call
Oukocitiming; that is to say, the highway. We observed this same day the
eclipse of the sun, predicted by the astrologers, which lasted from
mid-day until two o'clock. The third, or near it, of the body of the sun
appeared eclipsed; the other two-thirds formed a crescent. We arrived,
in the evening, at the entrance of the Lake of the Puants [Winnebago
lake], which we have called Lake St. Francis; it is about twelve leagues
long and four wide; it is situated from north-northeast to
south-southwest; it abounds in fish, but uninhabited, on account of the
Nardoüecis [Sioux], who are here dreaded.

"The 20th [of April, 1670], which was on Sunday, I said mass, after
having navigated five or six leagues in the lake; after which, we
arrived in a river [the Fox, at what is now Oshkosh], that comes from a
lake of wild rice [Big Butte Des Morts lake], which we came into; at the
foot [head] of which we found the river [the Wolf] which leads to the
Outagamis [Fox Indians] on one side, and that [the Fox] which leads to
the Machkoutenck [Mascoutins] on the other. We entered into the former
[the Wolf]....

"The 29th [of April of the same year, having returned from the Fox
Indians living up the Wolf river], we entered into the [Fox] river,
which leads to the Machkoutench [Mascoutins], called Assista
Ectaeronnons, Fire Nation ["Gens de Feu"], by the Hurons. This [Fox]
river is very beautiful, without rapids or portages [above the mouth of
the Wolf]; it flows to [from] the southwest.

"The 30th [of April, 1670], having disembarked opposite the village [of
the Mascoutins], and left our canoe at the water's edge, after a walk of
a league, over beautiful prairies, we perceived the fort [of the

[Footnote 73: Champlain's "Les Voyages de la Novvelle France," I., p.
262 [272], previously cited. Upon Champlain's Map of 1632, they are
located beyond and to the south of Lake Huron, he having no knowledge of
Lake Michigan. In his "Voyages," his words are: "Ils [the Cheveux
Relevés--Ottawas] sont la guerre, à vne autre nation de Sauuages, qui
s'appellent Assistagueronon, qui veut dire gens de feu, esloignez d'eux
de dix iournées." Sagard, in 1636 ("Histoire du Canada," p. 201), is
equally indefinite as to locality, though placing them westward of the
south end of the Georgian bay of Lake Huron, "nine or ten days' journey
by canoe, which makes about two hundred leagues, or more." He says:
"Tous essemble [the different bands of the Ottawas] sont la guerre a une
autre nation nommée Assistagueronon, qui veut dire gens feu: car en
langue Huronne Assista signifie de feu and Eronon signifie Nation. Ils
sont esloignez d'eux à ce qu'on tient, de neuf ou dix iournées de
Canots, qui sont enuiron deux cens lieuës et plus de chemin."]

[Footnote 74: Allouez (_Relation_, 1670, p. 99, before cited) is the
first to give their position with any degree of certainty. Unless, under
the name of "Rasaoua koueton," the Mascoutins were not mentioned by
Nicolet, in the list given to Vimont (_Relation_, 1640, p. 35). The "R"
should, probably, have been "M," thus: "Masaoua koueton."]

[Footnote 75: Synonyms: Miamees, Miramis, Myamicks, Omianicks,
Ommiamies, Oumis, Oumiamies, Oumiamiwek, Oumamis, Twightwees. As to
their place of abode, see Shea's _Hennepin_, p. 258.]

[Footnote 76: Synonyms: Kikabou, Kikapou, Quicapou, Kickapoux,
Kickapous, Kikapoux, Quicapouz, etc.]

[Footnote 77: The name of this river is from the Algonquin _missi_,
great, and _sepe_, water, or river. The popular notion that it means
"the father of waters," is erroneous.]

[Footnote 78: "Le Sieur Nicolet qui a le plus auant penetré dedans ces
pays si esloignés m'a asseuré que s'il eust vogué trois iours plus auant
sur vn grand fleuue qui sort de ce lac, qu'il auroit trouué la
mer."--Vimont, _Relation_, 1640, p. 36.]

[Footnote 79: That such was the fact, and that he did not reach the
Wisconsin river, is deduced from the language of the _Relations_; also,
from a consideration of the length of the Fox and Wisconsin rivers below
the "portage," where they very nearly approach each other; and from a
study of the time usually employed, at an early day, in their
navigation. It has, however, been extensively published that Nicolet did
reach the Wisconsin, and float down its channel to within three days of
the Mississippi. Now, Nicolet, in speaking of a large river upon which
he had sailed, evidently intended to convey the idea of its being
connected with "ce lac" (this lake); that is, with Green bay and Lake
Michigan--the two being merged into one by Vimont. Hence, he must have
spoken of the Fox river. But Vimont (_Relation_, 1640, p. 36) understood
him as saying, "that, had he sailed three days more on a great river
which _flows from_ that lake, he would have found the sea."

The _Relation_, it will be noticed, says, "had he sailed three days
more," etc. This implies a sailing already of some days. But such could
not have been the case had he been upon the Wisconsin; as that river is
only one hundred and eighteen miles in length, below the portage, and
the time of its canoe navigation between three and four days only;
whereas, upon the Fox, it was nine days; six, from its mouth to the
Mascoutins, as previously shown, and three from the Mascoutins to the

The first white men who passed up the Fox river above the Mascoutins,
were Louis Joliet and Father James Marquette, with five French
attendants, in June, 1673. "We knew," says Marquette, "that there was,
three leagues from Maskoutens [Mascoutins], a river [Wisconsin] emptying
into the Mississippi; we knew, too, that the point of the compass we
were to hold to reach it, was the west-southwest; but the way is so cut
up by marshes, and little lakes, that it is easy to go astray,
especially as the river leading to it is so covered by wild oats, that
you can hardly discover the channel."

That Marquette, instead of "three leagues" intended to say "thirty
leagues" or "three days," it is evident to any one acquainted with the
Fox river from the "portage" down; besides, the mistake is afterward
corrected in his narrative as well as on his map accompanying it, where
the home of the Mascoutins is marked as indicated by Allouez in the
_Relation_ of 1670. See, also, the map of Joliet, before alluded to, as
recently published by Gravier, where the same location is given. Joliet
and Marquette were seven days in their journey from the Mascoutins to
the Mississippi; this gave them three days upon the Fox and four upon
the Wisconsin (including the delay at the portage). Canoes have
descended from the portage in two days.

The _Relation_ of 1670 (pp. 99, 100) says: "These people [the
Mascoutins] are established in a very fine place, where we see beautiful
plains and level country, as far as the eye reaches. Their river leads
into a great river called Messisipi; [to which] their is a navigation of
only six days."

But the question is evidently settled by the _Relation_ of 1654 (p. 30),
which says:

"It is only nine days' journey from this great lake [Green bay and Lake
Michigan--'Lac de gens de mer'] to the sea;" where "the sea," referred
to, is, beyond doubt, identical with "la mer" of Nicolet.]

[Footnote 80: "Or i'ay de fortes coniectures que c'est la mer [mentioned
by Nicolet] qui respond au Nord de la Nouuelle Mexique, et que de cette
mer, on auroit entrée vers le Iapon et vers la Chine, neantmoins comme
on ne sçait pas où tire ce grand lac, ou cette mer douce, ce seroit vne
entreprise genereuse d'aller descouurir ces contrées. Nos Peres qui sont
aux Hurons, inuités par quelques Algonquins, sont sur le point de donner
iusques à ces gens de l'autre mer, dont i'ay parlé cy-dessus; peut estre
que ce voyage se reseruera pour l'vn de nous qui auons quelque petite
cognoissance de la langue Algonquine."--Vimont, _Relations_, 1640, p.

[Footnote 81: "The twenty-fourth day of June [1640], there arrived an
Englishman, with a servant, brought in boats by twenty Abnaquiois
savages. He set out from the lake or river Quinibequi in Acadia, where
the English have a settlement, in order to search for a passage through
these countries to the North sea.... M. de Montmagny had him brought to
Tadoussac, in order that he might return to England by way of France.

"He told us wonderful things of New Mexico. 'I learned,' said he, 'that
one can sail to that country by means of the seas which lie to the north
of it. Two years ago, I explored all the southern coast from Virginia to
Quinebiqui to try whether I could not find some large river or some
large lake which should bring me to tribes having knowledge of this sea,
which is northward from Mexico. Not having found any such in these
countries, I entered into the Saguené region, to penetrate, if I could,
with the savages of the locality, as far as to the northern sea.'

"In passing, I will say that we have strong indications that one can
descend through the second lake of the Hurons [Lake Michigan and Green
bay] and through the country of the nations we have named [as having
been visited by Nicolet] into this sea which he [the Englishman] was
trying to find."--Vimont, _Relation_, 1640, p. 35.]

[Footnote 82: Synonyms: Ilinois, Ilinoues, Illini, Illiniweck,
Tilliniwek, Ilimouek, Liniouek, Abimigek, Eriniouaj, etc.]

[Footnote 83: Vimont (_Relation_, 1640, p. 35) gives information derived
from Nicolet, of the existence of the Illinois (Eriniouaj) as neighbors
of the Winnebagoes. And the _Relation_, 1656 (p. 39), says: "The
Liniouek [Illinois], their neighbors [that is, the neighbors of the
Winnebagoes], number about sixty villages." Champlain locates a tribe,
on his map of 1632, south of the Mascoutins, as a "nation where there is
a quantity of buffaloes." This nation was probably the Illinois.]

[Footnote 84: As Nicolet proceeded no further to the westward than six
days' sail up the Fox river of Green bay, of course, the "Nadvesiv"
(Sioux) and "Assinipour" (Assiniboins) were not visited by him.]

[Footnote 85: Synonyms: Pottawottamies, Poutouatamis, Pouteouatamis,
Pouutouatami, Poux, Poueatamis, Pouteouatamiouec, etc.]

[Footnote 86: Such, at least, was their location a few years after the
visit of Nicolet. The islands occupied were those farthest south.]

[Footnote 87: Vimont, _Relation_, 1640, p. 35. In the _Relation_ of
1643, it is expressly stated that Nicolet visited some of the tribes on
his return voyage.]

[Footnote 88: Says Margry (_Journal Général de l'Instruction Publique_,
1862): "Les peuples que le pére dit avoir été pour la plupart visités
par Nicolet sont les Malhominis ou Gens de la Folle Avoine
[_Menomonees_], les Ouinipigous ou Puans [_Winnebagoes_], puis les
Pouteouatami [_Pottawattamies_], les Eriniouaj (ou Illinois)," etc.]

[Footnote 89: It is highly probable that Nicolet commenced his return
trip so soon, in the spring of 1635, as the warm weather had freed Green
bay of its coat of ice. Leaving the Winnebagoes, as soon as navigation
opened in the spring, he would have only about ten weeks to reach the
St. Lawrence by the middle of July--the time, probably, of his return,
as previously mentioned; whereas, having left Quebec July 2, for the
west, he had about five months before navigation closed on the lakes, to
arrive out. Sault Sainte Marie must, of necessity, therefore, have been
visited in _going to_ the Winnebagoes.]

[Footnote 90: "To the south of the Nation of the Beaver is an island, in
that fresh-water sea [Lake Huron], about thirty leagues in length,
inhabited by the Outaouan [Ottawas]. These are a people come from the
nation of the Standing Hair [Cheveux Relevés]."--Vimont, _Relation_,
1640, p. 34. In William R. Smith's translation of so much of this
_Relation_ as names the various tribes visited by Nicolet (Hist. Wis.,
Vol. III., p. 10), what relates to the Cheveux Relevés is
omitted--probably by accident. On a large island, corresponding as to
locality with the Great Manitoulin, is placed, on Du Creux' Map of 1660,
the "natio surrectorum capillorum"--identical with the Cheveux Relevés,
just mentioned.

The Ottawas were first visited by Champlain. This was in the year 1615.
They lived southwest of the Hurons. It was he who gave them the name
Cheveux Relevés--Standing Hair. Sagard saw some of them subsequently,
and calls them Andatahonats. See his "Histoire du Canada," p. 199.

Although, in the citation from the _Relation_ of 1640, just given, the
band of the Ottawas upon the Great Manitoulin are said to have "come
from the nation of the Standing Hair," it does not fix the residence of
those from whom they came as in the valley of the Ottawa river. On the
contrary, Champlain, in his "Voyages" and Map, places them in an
opposite direction, not far from the south end of the Nottawassaga bay
of Lake Huron. Says J. G. Shea (Wis. Hist. Soc. Coll., III., 135):
"There is no trace in the early French writers of any opinion then
entertained that they [the Ottawas] had ever been [resided] in the
valley of the Ottawa river. After the fall of the Hurons [who were cut
off by the Iroquois a number of years subsequent to Nicolet's visit],
when trade was re-opened with the west, all tribes there were called
Ottawas, and the river, as leading to the Ottawa country, got the

[Footnote 91: As the traffic with the Hurons took place at Three Rivers,
between the 15th and 23d of July, 1635, it is highly probable that
Nicolet reached there some time during that month, on his way to

[Footnote 92: Vimont (_Relation_, 1643, p. 4) thus briefly disposes of
Nicolet's return trip from the Winnebagoes: "La paix fut concluë; il
retourna aux Hurons, et de la à quelque temps aux Trois Riuieres."]



It is not difficult to imagine the interest which must have been
awakened in the breast of Champlain upon the return of Nicolet to
Quebec. With what delight he must have heard his recital of the
particulars of the voyage! How he must have been enraptured at the
descriptions of lakes of unknown extent; of great rivers never before
heard of--never before seen by a Frenchman! How his imagination must
have kindled when told of the numerous Indian nations which had been
visited! But, above all, how fondly he hoped one day to bring all these
distant countries under the dominion of his own beloved France! But the
heart thus beating quick with pleasurable emotions at the prospects of
future glory and renown, soon ceased its throbs. On Christmas day, 1635,
Champlain died. In a chamber of the fort in Quebec, "breathless and
cold, lay the hardy frame which war, the wilderness, and the sea had
buffeted so long in vain."

The successor of Champlain was Marc Antoine de Bras-de-fer de
Chasteaufort. He was succeeded by Charles Huault de Montmagny, who
reached New France in 1636. With him came a considerable reinforcement;
"and, among the rest, several men of birth and substance, with their
families and dependents." But Montmagny found the affairs of his colony
in a woful condition. The "Company of One Hundred" had passed its
affairs into the hands of those who were wholly engrossed in the profits
of trade. Instead of sending out colonists, the Hundred Associates
"granted lands, with the condition that the grantees should furnish a
certain number of settlers to clear and till them, and these were to be
credited to the company." The Iroquois, who, from their intercourse with
the Dutch and English traders, had been supplied with firearms, and were
fast becoming proficient in their use, attacked the Algonquins and
Hurons--allies of the French, interrupting their canoes, laden with
furs, as they descended the St. Lawrence, killing their owners, or
hurrying them as captives into the forests, to suffer the horrors of

At a point to which was given the name of Sillery, four miles above
Quebec, a new Algonquin mission was started; still, in the immediate
neighborhood of the town, the dark forests almost unbroken frowned as
gloomily as when, thirty years before, Champlain founded the future
city. Probably, in all New France, the population, in 1640, did not much
exceed two hundred, including women and children. On the eighteenth of
May, 1642, Montreal began its existence. The tents of the founders were
"inclosed with a strong palisade, and their altar covered by a
provisional chapel, built, in the Huron mode, of bark." But the Iroquois
had long before become the enemies of the French, sometimes seriously
threatening Quebec. So, upon the Island of Montreal, every precaution
was taken to avoid surprise. Solid structures of wood soon defied the
attacks of the savages; and, to give greater security to the colonists,
Montmagny caused a fort to be erected at the mouth of the Richelieu, in
the following August. But the end of the year 1642 brought no relief to
the Algonquins or Hurons, and little to the French, from the ferocious

It was not long after Nicolet's return to Quebec, from his visit to "the
People of the Sea," and neighboring nations, before he was assigned to
Three Rivers by Champlain, where he was to continue his office of
commissary and interpreter; for, on the ninth of December, 1635, he
"came to give advice to the missionaries who were dwelling at the
mission that a young Algonquin was sick; and that it would be proper to
visit him."[93] And, again, on the seventh of the following month, he is
found visiting, with one of the missionaries, a sick Indian, near the
fort, at Three Rivers.[94] His official labors were performed to the
great satisfaction of both French and Indians, by whom he was equally
and sincerely loved. He was constantly assisting the missionaries, so
far as his time would permit, in the conversion of the savages, whom he
knew how to manage and direct as he desired, and with a skill that could
hardly find its equal. His kindness won their esteem and respect. His
charity seemed, indeed, to know no bounds.[95] As interpreter for one of
the missionaries, he accompanied him from Three Rivers on a journey some
leagues distant, on the twelfth of April, 1636, to visit some savages
who were sick; thus constantly administering to their sufferings.[96]

Notwithstanding the colonists of New France were living in a state of
temporal and spiritual vassalage, yet the daring Nicolet, and others of
the interpreters of Champlain, although devout Catholics and friendly to
the establishment of missions among the Indian nations, were not
Jesuits, nor in the service of these fathers; neither was their's the
mission work, in any sense, which was so zealously prosecuted by these
disciples of Loyola. They were a small class of men, whose home--some of
them--was the forest, and their companions savages. They followed the
Indians in their roamings, lived with them, grew familiar with their
language, allied themselves, in some cases, with their women, and often
became oracles in the camp and leaders on the war-path. Doubtless, when
they returned from their rovings, they often had pressing need of
penance and absolution. Several of them were men of great intelligence
and an invincible courage. From hatred of restraint, and love of wild
and adventurous independence, they encountered privations and dangers
scarcely less than those to which the Jesuit exposed himself from
motives widely different:--he, from religious zeal, charity, and the
hope of paradise; they, simply because they liked it. Some of the best
families of Canada claim descent from this vigorous and hardy stock.[97]

"The Jesuits from the first had cherished the plan of a seminary for
Huron boys at Quebec. The governor and the company favored the design;
since not only would it be an efficient means of spreading the faith and
attaching the tribe to the French interest, but the children would be
pledges for the good behavior of the parents, and hostages for the
safety of missionaries and traders in the Indian towns. In the summer of
1636, Father Daniel, descending from the Huron country, worn, emaciated,
his cassock patched and tattered, and his shirt in rags, brought with
him a boy, to whom two others were soon added; and through the influence
of the interpreter, Nicolet, the number was afterward increased by
several more. One of them ran away, two ate themselves to death, a
fourth was carried home by his father, while three of those remaining
stole a canoe, loaded it with all they could lay their hands upon, and
escaped in triumph with their plunder."[98]

Nicolet frequently visited Quebec. Upon one of these occasions he had a
narrow escape. He found the St. Lawrence incumbered with ice. Behind him
there came so great a quantity of it that he was compelled to get out of
his canoe and jump upon one of the floating pieces. He saved himself
with much difficulty and labor. This happened in April, 1637.[99] On the
twenty-seventh of the same month Nicolet was present at Quebec, on the
occasion of a deputation of Indians from Three Rivers waiting upon the
governor, asking a favor at his hands promised by Champlain. He was
consulted as to what the promise of the former governor was.[100]

In June, he was sent, it seems, up from the fort at Three Rivers to
ascertain whether the Iroquois were approaching. He went as far as the
river Des Prairies--the name for the Ottawa on the north side of the
island of Montreal.[101] In August, the enemy threatened Three Rivers in
force. The French and Indians in the fort could not be decoyed into
danger. However, a boat was sent up the St. Lawrence, conducted by
Nicolet. The bark approached the place where the Iroquois were, but
could not get within gun-shot; yet a random discharge did some
execution. The enemy were judged to be about five hundred strong.
Although the fort at Three Rivers was thus seriously threatened, no
attack was made.[102]

On the seventh of October, 1637, Nicolet was married at Quebec to
Marguerite Couillard, a god-child of Champlain.[103] The fruit of this
marriage was but one child--a daughter. Nicolet continued his residence
at Three Rivers, largely employed in his official duties of commissary
and interpreter, remaining there until the time of his death.[104] In
1641, he, with one of the Jesuit fathers, was very busy in dealing with
a large force of Iroquois that was threatening the place.[105]

About the first of October, 1642, Nicolet was called down to Quebec from
Three Rivers, to take the place of his brother-in-law, M. Olivier le
Tardiff, who was General Commissary of the Hundred Partners, and who
sailed on the seventh of that month for France. The change was a very
agreeable one to Nicolet, but he did not long enjoy it; for, in less
than a month after his arrival, in endeavoring to make a trip to his
place of residence to release an Indian prisoner in the possession of a
band of Algonquins, who were slowly torturing him, his zeal and humanity
cost him his life.[106] On the 27th of October,[107] he embarked at
Quebec, near seven o'clock in the evening, in the launch of M. de
Savigny, which was headed for Three Rivers. He had not yet reached
Sillery, when a northeast squall raised a terrible tempest on the St.
Lawrence and filled the boat. Those who were in it did not immediately
go down; they clung some time to the launch. Nicolet had time to say to
M. de Savigny, "Save yourself, sir; you can swim; I can not. I am going
to God. I recommend to you my wife and daughter."[108]

The wild waves tore the men, one after another, from the boat, which
had capsized and floated against a rock, and four, including Nicolet,
sank to rise no more.[109] M. de Savigny alone cast himself into the
water, and swam among the waves, which were like small mountains. The
launch was not very far from the shore, but it was pitch dark, and the
bitter cold had covered the river banks with ice. Savigny, feeling his
resolution and his strength failing him, made a vow to God, and a
little after, reaching down with his feet, he felt the bottom, and
stepping out of the water, he reached Sillery half dead. For quite a
while he was unable to speak; then, at last, he recounted the fatal
accident which, besides the death of Nicolet--disastrous to the whole
country--had cost him three of his best men and a large part of his
property. He and his wife suffered this great loss, in a barbarous
country, with great patience and resignation to the will of God, and
without losing any of their courage.[110]

The savages of Sillery, at the report of Nicolet's shipwreck, ran to the
place, and not seeing him any where, displayed indescribable sorrow. It
was not the first time he had exposed himself to danger of death for the
good of the Indians. He had done so frequently. Thus perished John
Nicolet, in the waters of the great river of Canada--the red man and the
Frenchman alike mourning his untimely fate.[111]

Twelve days after the shipwreck, the prisoner to the Algonquins, for
whose deliverance Nicolet started on his journey, arrived at
Sillery--the commander at Three Rivers, following the order of the
governor, having ransomed him. He was conducted to the hospital of the
place to be healed of the injuries he had received from his captors.
They had stripped the flesh from his arms, in some places to the bone.
The nuns at the hospital cared for him with much sympathy, and cured him
so quickly that in a month's time he was able to return to his country.
All the neophytes showed him as much compassion and charity as the
Algonquins had displayed of cruelty. They gave him two good,
Christianized savages to escort him as far as the country of a
neighboring tribe of his own, to the end that he might reach his home in

After the return of the French to Quebec, the Jesuits, as previously
mentioned, were commissioned with the administration of spiritual
affairs in New France. Some of these turned their attention to the
Europeans; the rest were employed in missions among the savages. In the
autumn of 1635, the residences and missions of Canada contained fifteen
Fathers and five Brothers of the Society of Jesus. At Quebec, there were
also formed two seculars--ecclesiastics. One of these was a brother of
Nicolet.[113] He had come from Cherbourg to join him upon the St.
Lawrence; and, during his residence in the colony, which was continued
to 1647, he was employed in visiting French settlements at a distance
from Quebec.[114] Another brother--Pierre--who was a navigator, also
resided in Canada, but left the country some time after Nicolet's
death.[115] The widow of Nicolet was married at Quebec, in 1646, to
Nicholas Macard.

Nicolet's discoveries, although not immediately followed up because of
the hostility of the Iroquois and the lack of the spirit of adventure in
Champlain's successor, caused, finally, great results. He had unlocked
the door to the Far West, where, afterward, were seen the fur-trader,
the _voyageur_, the Jesuit missionary, and the government agent. New
France was extended to the Mississippi and beyond; yet Nicolet did not
live to witness the progress of French trade and conquest in the
countries he had discovered.

The name of the family of Nicolet appears to have been extinguished in
Canada, with the departure of M. Gilles Nicolet, priest, already
mentioned; but the respect which the worthy interpreter had deserved
induced the people of Three Rivers to perpetuate his memory. The example
had been given before his death. We read in the _Relation_ of 1637 that
the river St. John, near Montreal (now the river Jésus), took its name
from _John_ Nicolet. To-day Canada has the river, the lake, the falls,
the village, the city, the college, and the county of Nicolet.[116] From
the United States--especially from the Northwest--equal honor is due.

"History can not refrain from saluting Nicolet as a disinterested
traveler, who, by his explorations in the interior of America, has given
clear proofs of his energetic character, and whose merits have not been
disputed, although subsequently they were temporarily forgotten." The
first fruits of his daring were gathered by the Jesuit fathers even
before his death; for, in the autumn of 1641, those of them who were
among the Hurons received a deputation of Indians occupying "the country
around a rapid, in the midst of the channel by which Lake Superior
empties into Lake Huron," inviting them to visit their tribe. These
"missionaries were not displeased with the opportunity thus presented of
knowing the countries lying beyond Lake Huron, which no one of them had
yet traversed;" so Isaac Jogues and Charles Raymbault were detached to
accompany the Chippewa deputies, and view the field simply, not to
establish a mission. They passed along the shore of Lake Huron,
northward, and pushed as far up St. Mary's strait as the "Sault," which
they reached after seventeen days' sail from their place of starting.
There they--the first white men to visit the Northwest after
Nicolet--harangued two thousand of that nation, and other Algonquins.
Upon their return to the St. Lawrence, Jogues was captured by the
Iroquois, and Raymbault died on the twenty-second of October, 1642--a
few days before the death of Nicolet.


[Footnote 93: "Le neufiesme de Decembre, iustement le lendemain de la
feste de la Conception, le sieur Iean Nicolet, Truchement pour les
Algonquins aux Trois Riuieres, vint donner aduis aux Peres, qui
demeuroient en la Residence de la Conception sise au mesme lieu, qu'vn
ieune Algonquin se trouuoit mal, et qu'il seroit à prospos de le
visiter."--Le Jeune, _Relation_, 1636, p. 8.]

[Footnote 94: "Le septiesme de Ianuier de cette année mil six cens
trente six, le fils d'vn grand Sorcier ou Iongleur fut faict Chrestien,
son pere s'y accordant apres de grandes resistances qu'il en fit: car,
comme nos Peres éuentoient ses mines, et la decreditoient, il ne pouuoit
les supporter en sa Cabane. Cependant comme son fils tiroit à la mort,
ils prierent le sieur Nicolet de faire son possible pour sauuer cette
âme: ils s'en vont donc le Pere Quentin et luy en cette maison d'écorce,
pressent fortement ce Sauuage de consentir au baptesme de son petit
fils."--Le Jeune, _Relation_, 1636, p. 10.]

[Footnote 95: Le trente-vniesme [of December, 1635], vne fille agée
d'enuiron seize ans fut baptisée, et nommée Anne par vn de nos François.
Le Pere Buteux l'instruisant luy dit, que si estant Chrestienne elle
venoit à mourir, son âme iroit au Ciel dans les ioyes eternelles. A ce
mot de mourir, elle eut vne si grande frayeur, qu'elle ne voulut plus
iamais prester l'oreille au Pere; on luy enuoya le Sieur Nicolet
truchement, qui exerce volontiers semblables actions de charité; elle
l'escoute paisiblement; mais comme ses occupations le diuertissent
ailleurs, il ne la pouuoit visiter si souuent: c'est pourquoy le Pere
Quentin s'efforça d'apprendre les premiers rudimens du Christianisme en
Sauuage, afin de la pouuoir instruire. Cela luy reüssit si bien, que
cette pauure fille ayant pris goust à cette doctrine salutaire, desira
le Baptesme que le Pere luy accorda. La grace a plusieurs effects: on
remarqua que cette fille, fort dedaigneuse et altiere de son naturel,
deuint fort douce et traittable, estant Chrestienne.--Ibid.

"Il [Nicolet] ... continua sa charge de Commis et Interprete [at Three
Rivers] auec vne satisfaction grande des François et des Sauuages,
desquels il estoit esgalement et vniquement aymé. Il conspiroit
puissamment, autant que sa charge le permettoit, auec nos Peres, pour la
conuersion de ces peuples, lesquels il sçauoit manier et tourner où il
vouloit d'vne dexterité qui à peine trouuera son pareil."--Vimont,
_Relation_, 1643, p. 4.

Compare, also, _Relation_, 1637, p. 24.]

[Footnote 96: "Le deuxiéme iour d'Auril, le Pere Quentin fit vn voyage
à quelques lieuës des Trois Riuieres [Three Rivers], pour quelques
malades, dont on nous auoit donné aduis. Le fruict qu'il en rapporta fut
d'auoir exposé plusieurs fois sa vie pour Dieu, parmy les dangers des
glaces et du mauuais temps. Il se contenta de leur donner quelque
instruction, sans en baptiser aucun, ne les voyant ny en peril de mort,
ny suffisamment instruits. Le sieur Iean Nicolet luy seruit de
truchement, auec sa charité et fidelité ordinaire, dont nos Peres tirent
de grands seruices en semblables occasions."--Le Jeune, _Relation_,
1636, pp. 57, 58.]

[Footnote 97: Adapted from Parkman's "Jesuits in North America," pp.
165, 166.]

[Footnote 98: Parkman's "Jesuits in North America," pp. 167, 168, citing
the _Relations_ of 1637 and 1638. Father Le Jeune (_Relation_, 1636, p.
75) says: "Comme i'écry cecy le vingt-huictiéme d'Aoust, voila que le
Pere Buteux me mande le départ du Pere Ioques, l'arriuée d'vne autre
troupe de Hurons, de qui le sieur Nicolet a encore obtenu trois ieunes
garçons, sur le rapport que leur ont fait leurs compagnons du bon
traittement que Monsieur le General et tous les autres François leur
auoient fait."]

[Footnote 99: Le Jeune, _Relation_, 1637, p. 78.]

[Footnote 100: Ib., p. 81.]

[Footnote 101: Ib., p. 84.]

[Footnote 102: Ib., p. 89.]

[Footnote 103: See Ferland's "Cours d'Histoire du Canada," Vol. I., p.
326; also, his "Notes sur les Registres de Notre-Dame de Québec," p. 30,
notes; and Gravier's "Découvertes et Établissements de Cavalier de la
Salle," p. 47.

Nicolet's wife was a daughter of Guillaume Couillard and Guillemette
Hébert. Nicolet's marriage contract was dated at Quebec, October 22,
1637, several days subsequent to his nuptials. This was not an uncommon
thing in New France in early days, but has not been allowed in Canada
for about a century past. The contract was drawn up by Guitet, a
notary of Quebec. There were present François Derré de Gand,
Commissaire-Général; Olivier le Tardif; Noël Juchereau; Pierre De la
Porte; Guillaume Huboust; Guillaume Hébert; Marie Rollet aïeule de la
future épouse; Claude Racine; Etienne Racine.]

[Footnote 104: The presence of Nicolet at Three Rivers during all these
years (except from March 19, 1638, to January 9, 1639) is shown by
reference to the _Relations_, and to the church register of that place.
See Appendix, I., as to the latter.]

[Footnote 105: Vimont, _Relation_, 1641, p. 41.]

[Footnote 106: "Monsieur Oliuier, Commis General de Messieurs de la
Compagnie, estant venu l'an passé en France, le dit sieur Nicollet
descendit à Quebec en sa place, auec vne ioye, et consolation sensible
qu'il eut de se voir dans la paix et la deuotion de Quebec. Mais il n'en
ioüit pas long-temps: car vn mois ou deux aprés son arriuée, faisant vn
voyage aux Trois Riuieres pour la deliurance d'vn prisonnier Sauuage,
son zele luy cousta la vie, qu'il perdit dans le naufrage."--Vimont,
_Relation_, 1643, p. 4.]

[Footnote 107: "I'adiousteray icy vn mot de la vie et de la mort de
Monsieur Nicollet, Interprete et Commis de Messieurs de la Compagnie de
la Nouuelle France; il mourut dix iours apres le Pere [Charles
Raymbault, décédé le 22 Octobre, 1642], il auoit demeuré vingt-cinq ans
en ces quartiers."--Vimont, _Relation_, 1643, p. 3. The incorrectness of
this date as to the death of Nicolet will hereafter be shown.]

[Footnote 108: "Il [_Nicolet_] sembarqua à Quebec sur les sept heures du
soir, dans la chalouppe de Monsieur de Sauigny, qui tiroit vers les
Trois Riuieres; ils n'estoient pas encor arriuez à Sillery, qu'vn coup
de vent de Nord Est, qui auoit excité vne horrible tempeste sur la
grande riuiere, remplit la chalouppe d'eau et la coula à fond, apres luy
auoir fait faire deux ou trois tours dans l'eau. Ceux qui estoient
dedans n'allerent pas incontinent à fond, ils s'attacherent quelque
temps à la challouppe. Monsieur Nicollet eut loisir de dire à Monsieur
de Sauigny: Monsieur, sauuez-vous, vous sçauez nager; ie ne le sçay pas.
Pour moy ie m'en vay à Dieu; ie vous recommande ma femme et ma
fille."--Vimont, _Relation_, 1643, p. 4.

Nicolet's daughter afterwards married Jean-Baptiste le Gardeur de
Repentigny, entering into a family which was one of the most
considerable in French America. Her son, Augustin le Gardeur de
Courtemanche,--"officier dans les troupes, se distingua, par de longs et
utiles services dans l'ouest, fut un digne contemporain de Nicolas
Perot, de même qu'un honorable rejeton de son grandpère
Nicolet."--Sulte's "Mélanges d'Histoire et de Littérature," p. 446.]

[Footnote 109: It is reasonably certain that the day of Nicolet's death
was October 27, 1642. Compare Margry, in _Journal Général de
l'Instruction Publique_, 1862. A recent writer says:

"Le 29 septembre 1642, aux Trois-Rivières, le Père Jean de Brebeuf
baptista deux petites filles de race algonquine dont les parrains et
marraines furent 'Jean Nicolet avec Perrette (nom indien), et Nicolas
Marsolet (l'interprète), avec Marguerite Couillard, femme de M.

"Le 7 octobre suivant eut lieu, à Québec, le départ des navires pour la
France. (_Relation_, 1643, p. 46.) Cette Relation écrite vers la fin de
l'été de 1643, raconte ce qui s'est passé après le départ des navires de

"Le sieur Olivier le Tardif partit pour la France cet automne, 1642, et
fut remplacé à Québec, dans sa charge de commis-général de la compagnie
des Cent-Associés, par son beau-frère Nicolet, qui descendit des
Trois-Rivières expressément pour cela (_Relation_, 1643, p. 4), par
conséquent entre le 29 septembre et le 7 octobre.

"Le 19 octobre, un sauvage d'une nation alliée aux Iroquois fut amené
captif aux Trois-Rivières par les Algonquins de ce lieu, qui le
condamnèrent à périr sur le bûcher. (_Relation_, 1643, p. 46.) Les Pères
Jésuites et M. des Rochers, le commandant du fort, ayant épuisé tous les
arguments qu'ils croyaient pouvoir employer pour induire ces barbares à
ne pas faire mourir leur prisonnier, envoyèrent un messager à Québec
avertir Nicolet de ce qui se passait et réclamer son assistance.
(_Relation_, 1643, p. 4.)

"Ces pourparlers et ces démarches paraissent avoir occupé plusieurs

"A cette nouvelle, Nicolet, n'écoutant que son coeur, s'embarqua à
Québec, dans la chaloupe de M. Chavigny, vers les sept heures du soir.
L'embarcation n'était pas arrivée à Sillery, qu'un coup de vent du
nord-est qui avait soulevé une grosse tempête, la remplit d'eau et la
coula à fond. M. de Chavigny seul se sauva. La nuit était très-noire et
il faisait un froid âpre qui avait couvert de 'bordages' les rives du
fleuve. (_Relation_, 1643, p. 4.)

"Dans ses _Notes sur les registres de Notre-Dame de Québec_, M. l'abbé
Ferland nous donne le texte de l'acte qui suit: 'Le 29 octobre, on fit
les funérailles de monsieur Nicollet et de trois hommes de M. de
Chavigny, noyés dans une chaloupe qui allait de Québec à Sillery; les
corps ne furent point trouvés.'

"M. de Chavigny demeurait à Sillery. Il est probable que Nicolet
comptait repartir de là le lendemain, soit à la voile (en chaloupe) ou
en canot d'ècorce, selon l'état du fleuve, pour atteindre les

"Le captif des Algonquins ayant été délivré par l'entremise de M. des
Rochers, arriva à Québec douze jours après le naufrage de Nicolet
(_Relation_, 1643, p. 4), le 9 novembre (_Relation_, 1643, p. 44), ce
qui fixerait au 27 ou 28 octobre la date demandée.

"Comme ce malheur eut lieu à la nuit close, pendant une tempête, il est
raisonable de supposer que la recherche des cadavres ne put se faire que
le lendemain, surtout lorsque nous songeons que Sillery n'est pas
Quebec, quoiqu'assez rapproché. Le service funèbre dût être célébré le
troisième jour, et non pas le lendemain de l'événement en question.

"J'adopte donc la date du lundi 27 octobre comme celle de la mort de

"Il est vrai que la _Relation_ citée plus haut nous dit (p. 3) que le
Père Charles Raymbault décéda le 22 octobre, et que la mort de Nicolet
eut lieu dix jours après; mais l'acte du 29 octobre au registre de
Québec renverse ce calcul de dix jours qui nous mènerait au 1er ou 2

"La même _Relation_ (p. 4) dit aussi que Nicolet périt un mois ou deux
après son arrivée à Québec, tandis que nous voyons par ce que j'expose
ci-dessus qu'il n'a guère été plus de trois semaines absent des
Trois-Rivières avant de partir pour sa fatale expédition.

"La date du 27 octobre paraît irréfutable."--M. Sulte, in _L'Opinion
Publique_, Montreal, July 24, 1879.]

[Footnote 110: "Les vagues les arracherent tous les vns aprés les autres
de la chalouppe, qui flottoit renuersée contre vne roche. Monsieur de
Sauigny seul se ietta à l'eau et nagea parmy des flots et des vagues qui
resembloient à de petites montagnes. La Chalouppe n'estoit pas bien loin
du riuage; mais il estoit nuict toute noire, et faisoit vn froid aspre,
qui auoit desia glacé les bords de la riuiere. Le dit sieur de Sauigny,
sentant le coeur et les forces qui luy manquoient, fit vn voeu à Dieu,
et peu aprés frappant du pied il sent la terre, et se tirant hors de
l'eau, s'en vint en nostre maison à Sillery à demy mort. Il demeura
assez long-temps sans pouuoir parler; puis enfin il nous raconta le
funeste accident, qui outre la mort de Monsieur Nicollet, dommageable à
tout le pays, luy auoit perdue trois de ses meilleurs hommes et vne
grande partie de son meuble et de ses prouisions. Luy et Mademoiselle sa
femme ont porté cette perte signallée dans vn pays barbare, auec vne
grande patience et resignation à la volonté de Dieu, et sans rien
diminuer de leur courage."--Vimont, _Relation_, 1643, p. 4.]

[Footnote 111: "Les Sauuages de Sillery, au bruit du nauffrage de
Monsieur Nicollet, courent sur le lieu, et ne le voyant plus paroistre,
en tesmoignent des regrets indicibles. Ce n'estoit pas la premiere fois
que cet homme s'estoit exposé au danger de la mort pour le bien et le
salut des Sauuages: il l'a faict fort souuent, et nous à laissé des
exemples qui sont au dessus de l'estat d'vn homme marié, et tiennent de
le vie Apostolique et laissent vne enuie au plus feruent Religieux de
l'imiter."--Vimont, _Relation_, 1643, p. 4.]

[Footnote 112: "Douze iours aprés leur naufrage, le prisonnier pour la
deliurance duquel il [Nicolet] s'estoit embarqué, arriua icy. Monsieur
des Roches commandant aux Trois Riuieres, suiuant l'ordre de Monsieur le
Gouuerneur, l'auoit racheté. Il mit pied à terre à Sillery, et de là fut
conduit à l'Hospital pour estre pansé des playes et blessures que les
Algonquins luy auoient faites apres sa capture: ils luy auoient emporté
la chair des bras, en quelques endroits iusques aux os. Les Religieuses
hospitalieres le receurent auec beaucoup de charité, et le firent panser
fort soigneusement, en sorte qu'en trois semaines ou vn mois, il fut en
estat de retourner en son pays. Tous nos Neophytes luy tesmoignerent
autant de compassion et de charité que les Algonquins de là haut luy
auoient montré de cruauté: ils luy donnerent deux bons Sauuages
Christiens, pour le conduire iusques aux pays des Abnaquiois, qui sont
voisins de sa nation."--Vimont, _Relation_, 1643, pp. 4, 5.]

[Footnote 113: His name was Gilles Nicolet. He was born in Cherbourg,
and came to Canada in 1635. He is one of the first "prêtres
seculiers"--that is, not belonging to congregations or institutes, such
as the Jesuits and the Récollets--whose name appears on the Quebec
parochial register.]

[Footnote 114: Those of the coast of Beaupre, between Beauport and Cape
Tourmente. Ferland's "Cours d'Histoire du Canada," Vol. I., pp. 276,

[Footnote 115: Sulte's "Mélanges d'Histoire et de Littérature," p. 446.]

[Footnote 116: Benjamin Sulte, in _L'Opinion Publique_, 1873. The writer
adds: "La rivière Nicolet est formée de deux rivières qui gardent
chacune ce nom; l'une au nord est sort d'un lac appelé Nicolet, dans le
comté de Wolfe, township de Ham; l'autre, celle du sud ouest, qui passe
dans le comté de Richmond, a donné le nom de Nicolet à un village situé
sur ses bords, dans le township de Shipton. Ce village que les Anglais
nomment 'Nicolet Falls' est un centre d'industrie prospère. La ville de
Nicolet, ainsi que le collége de ce nom, sont situés près de la décharge
des eaux réunies de ces deux rivières au lac Saint-Pierre.

"Peu d'années après la mort de Jean Nicolet, les trifluviens donnaient
déjà son nom à la rivière en question, malgré les soins que prenaient
les fonctionnaires civils de ne désigner cet endroit que par les mots
'la rivière de Laubia ou la rivière Cressé.' M. de Laubia ne concéde la
seigneurie qu'en 1672, et M. Cressé ne l'obtint que plus tard, mais
avant ces deux seigneurs, la rivière portait le nom de Nicolet, et
l'usage en prevalut en dépit des tentatives faites pour lui imposer
d'autres dénominations."]




"Le 27 du mois de décembre 1635, fut baptisée par le Père Jacques
Buteux[117] une petite fille âgée d'environ deux ans, fille du capitaine
des Montagnetz Capitainal.[118] Elle fut nommée _Marie_ par M. de
Maupertuis et M. Nicollet ses parrains. Elle s'appelait en sauvage


"Le 30 du mois de Mai 1636, une jeune Sauvagesse Algonquine instruite
par le Père Jacques Buteux, fut baptisée par le Père Claude Quentin et
nommée Françoise par M. Nicollet son parrain." [1637, 7th October. At
Quebec. Marriage of Nicolet with Marguerite Couillard.]


"Le 18 novembre 1637 fut baptisée (par le Père Claude Pijart) une femme
Algonquine. Elle fut nommée Marie par Nicollet son parrain. Elle est


"Le 18 décembre 1637 fut baptisé par le Père Jacques Buteux un petit
Algonquin âgé d'environ deux ans, et fut nommé Jean par M. Nicollet. Il
est décédé."


"1638. Le 19 de mars, jour de Saint-Joseph, fut baptisé par le Père
Jacques Buteux, dans notre chapelle avec les cérémonies de l'Eglise,
Anisk8ask8si, et fut nommé Paul par M. Nicollet, son parrain; sa
marraine fut mademoiselle Marie Le Neuf.[120] Il est décédé." [The
Parish Register for 1638 stops at the date of 24th May, the remainder
being lost.]


"Le 9 janvier 1639, le Père Jacques Delaplace baptisa solennellement, en
notre chapelle, une petite fille âgée de 2 ans appelée Nitig8m8sta8an,
fille de Papitchitikpabe8, capitaine de la Petite-Nation. Elle fut
nommée Louise par M. Nicolet. Sa marraine fut une Sauvagesse baptisée,
femme de feu Thebachit."


"Le 4 mars 1639, le Révérend Père Jacques Buteux baptisa solennellement
en notre chappelle les deux enfants de 8ab8sch8stig8an, Algonquin de
l'Isle, et Sk8esens, sa femme. Le fils âgé d'environ quatre ans fut
nommé Thomas par M. Nicolet, et Alizon,[121] et la fille âgée d'environ
six ans, fut nommée Marguerite par M. de Malapart[122] et Madame


"1639. Le huitième Mars, le R. P. Buteux baptiza solennellement
Nipiste8ignan âgé d'environ vingt ans, fils de François Nenascouat,[123]
habitant de Sillery. François Marguerie et Madame Nicolet le nommèrent


"Le 20 mars 1639 le R. P. Buteux baptiza solennellement en notre
chapelle Louis Godefroy, fils de M. Jean Godefroy[124] et de Damoisselle
Marie Le Neuf. Son parrain fut Thomas Godefroy, et sa marraine Madame
Marguerite Nicolet."


"Anno Domini 1639 die 16 Julii, Ego Claudius Pijart vices agens parochi
ecclesiæ B. V. Conceptæ ad Tria Flumina baptizavit cum ceremoniis,
Ognatem, 4 circiter menses, natem patre 8kar8st8, _de la Petite-Nation_,
et matre 8sasamit8n8k8e8. Patrinus fuit D. Jaunes Nicolets Interp."


"1639. Anno Domini 1639, di 20 julii Ego Claudius Pijart vices agens
parochi ecclesiæ Beatæ Virginis Conceptæ ad Tria Flumina baptizavit cum
ceremoniis Marinum, filium patria insularibus; patrinus idem qui supra
Joannes Nicolet. Infant natus 2 menses. Il est décédé."


"Anno Domini 1639, die 30. Julii, Ego Jacobus Buteux vices agens parochi
ecclesiæ B. V. C. at Tria Flumina, baptizavit Algonquinensen natum 40
circiter annos nomine Abdom Chibanagouch, patria insularem, quem
nominavit Dominus Joannes Nicolet nunc Joseph 8masatick8e." [1639. 9th
October. Nicolet was present at the wedding of Jean Joliet and Marie
d'Abancour, at Quebec. Louis Joliet, son of the above, was the
discoverer of the Upper Mississippi.]


"1639. Die 7 Decembris. Ego Jacobus Buteux baptizavit infentem annum
circiter natum, nomine Ombrosuim Katank8quich, filium defuncti
8tagamechk8, patria 88echkarini, quedu educat N8ncheak8s mulier patria
insulare, patrinus fuit Joannes Nicolet."


"1640. Die 6 Januarii, ego Jacobus Buteux, baptizavit cum ceremoniis
Mariam Ik8esens patria insularem natam circiter 28 annos, cujus patrinus
fuit Joannes Nicolet et Joanna La Meslée,[125] exur pistoris. Elle est
avec 8tchakin."


"Anno 1640, 4 Decemb. statim post portam mortuus sepultus in coemeterio
item filius Domini Joannis Nicolet interpretis." [In the margin is
written: "Ignace Nicolet."]


"Anno 1640. Die 14 Januarii, ego Carolus Raymbaut[126] baptizavi cum
cæremoniis Franciscum missameg natum circiter 4 annos filium Ching8a
defuncti, patria ---- Khin8chebink educatur apud 8abirini8ich Patrinus
fuit D. Franciscus de Champflour[127] moderator; matrina Margarita
Couillard uxor D. Nicolet interpretis."


"14o. die Maii 1640. Ego Carolus Raymbault baptisavi cum cæremoniis
Franciscum pridie natum filium Christophori Crevier pistoris, Et Joanna
Ennart conjugum Rothomagensium. Patrinus fuit Dominus Franciscum de
Champflour moderator et Dna Margarita Couillard conjux interpretis (est
in Galliæ)." [On the 2d day of September, 1640 Nicolet was present at
Quebec at the wedding of Nicolas Bonhomme.]


"Anno Domini 1640 die 25 Decembris, ipso Jesu Domini Nostri Nativitatis
die ego Joannes Dequen, Societatis Jesu sacerdos vices agens Rectoris
Ecclesiæ conceptionis beatæ Virginia ad Tria Flumina dicta, baptizavi
solemniter in eodem ecclesia Paulum 8abirim8ich annum Trigesimum
cerciter quîntum doctrinæ Christianæ rudimentis sufficienter instructum.
Patrinus fuit Joannes Nicolet, interpret. huic nomen Pauli impasuit;
matrina fuit Maria Le Neuf."


"Anno Domini 1641 dia 1o Aprilis. Ego Josephus Poncet, Societatis Jesu,
baptizavi puellam recens natam patre Abdon 8maskik8eia, matre
Michtig8k8e, nomen Cecilia impositum est. Patrinus fuit ...
Lavallée;[128] Matrina Margarita Couillard uxor Joannis Nicolet


"1o Aprilis Anno 1642 Ego Josephus Poncet Societatis Jesu, in ecclesiæ
immaculatæ conceptionis B. V. Mariæ, baptisavi puellum recens natam.
Patre Joannes Nicolet. Matre Margarita Couillard ejus uxor. Nomen
Margarita impositum. Patrinus fuit Dnus Jacobus Ertel;[129] matrina Dna
Joanna Le Marchand,[130] viduæ Dni Leneuf."


"Tertio Julii Anni 1642, ego Joannes de Brebeuf, Societatis Jesu, tunc
vices agens parochi in ecclesiæ Immaculatæ Conceptionis ad Tria Flumina
baptisavi infantem recens natam. Patre Dno Jacobo Hartel. Matre Marie
Marguerie[131] ejus uxore. Nomine Francisco impositum. Patrinus fuit:
Franciscus Marguerye, infantio avanculus; matrina Margarita Couillart
domini Joannis Nicolet uxor."


"Anno Domini 1642, 29 Septembris, Ego Joannes de Brebeuf, Societatis
Jesu sacerdos, baptisavi solemniter in ecclesiæ Immaculata Conceptionis
ad Tria Flumina, duos puellas recens nata, unum ex patre Augustino
Chipak8etch et matre 8t8ribik8e; Alizon dicta est a patrinis Joanne
Nicolet et Perretta Alteram vero ex patre K8erasing et 8inchk8ck matre
Lucia dicta est a Patrinus Nicolao Marsolet[132] et Margarita Couillard,
uxor Domini Nicolet."


[Footnote 117: Father Buteux resided in Three Rivers from the year of
the establishment of that place, 1634, to 1651 when, on his second trip
to the upper St. Maurice he was killed by the Iroquois.]

[Footnote 118: Capitanal, chief of the Montagnais Indians, is the man
who did the most amongst his people to impress upon the mind of
Champlain the necessity of erecting a fort at 3-Rivers. He died in 1635.
See _Relation_, 1633, p. 26; 1635, p. 21.]

[Footnote 119: The figure "8" in such words is, as before mentioned,
supposed to be equivalent to "w," "we," or "oo," in English. Ante, p.
46, note.]

[Footnote 120: Le Neuf. Name of a large family, belonging to the
nobility. Jean Godefroy having married Marie Le Neuf, they all came
together (36 people) to Canada, when the branch of Le Gardeur settled at
Quebec and that of Le Neuf proper at 3-Rivers. Throughout the history of
Canada, we met with members of that group.]

[Footnote 121: Alizon is the family name of the wife of Gourdin, the
brewer, who resided at the Fort of Three-Rivers as early as 1634.]

[Footnote 122: Malapart was at that time acting as governor of the

[Footnote 123: Nenascoumat, an Indian chief, is much connected with the
history of the first settlement of his people at 3-Rivers and Sillery,
from 1634 to about 1650.]

[Footnote 124: Jean Godefroy, the principal man who caused French people
to come direct from France to settle at Three-Rivers, as early as 1636.
He had been in Canada for many years before. His brother Thomas is well
known in the history of those years for his services both to the
missionaries and to the colonists; he was burned by the Iroquois. Louis,
son of Jean, became King's Attorney. Jean was raised to the rank of
nobleman by Louis XIV. His descendants are still in the district of

[Footnote 125: Christophe Crevier, sieur de la Mêlée, settled in
3-Rivers in 1639. Like that of Godefroy, the family became very numerous
and prosperous. The descendants of Crevier still exist in the district
of 3-Riv. François Crevier, born 13th May 1640 was killed by the
Iroquois in Three Rivers when 13 years old only.]

[Footnote 126: Father Raymbault is the same that accompanied Father
Jogues in the spring of the year 1642 to what is now Sault Ste. Marie,
Michigan. He died, it will be remembered, in the fall of 1642. Ante, p.

[Footnote 127: Champflour left for France in the autumn of 1645. For
several years, he had been governor of 3-Rivers.]

[Footnote 128: Claude Jutra lit Lavallée was one of the first settlers
of 3-Rivers, where his descendants still exist.]

[Footnote 129: Jacques Hertel, married to Marie Marguerie. He held land
at 3-Rivers before the foundation of the Fort. Died 1652. His son
François was one of the greatest sons of Canada. Louis XIV. made him a
nobleman. His descendants are still in Canada. Like Godefroy, Crevier,
and Le Neuf, the Hertels have held their position for 250 years.]

[Footnote 130: Jeanne Le Marchand, widow, was the mother of Le Neuf.]

[Footnote 131: François Marguerie succeeded Nicolet as Interpreter at
3-Rivers. He has left his name to a river flowing into the St. Lawrence,
in the county of Nicolet opposite the town of 3-Rivers.]

[Footnote 132: Nicolas Marsolet, connected, as an interpreter, with
3-Rivers, but mostly with Tadoussac and Quebec.]


[Du Creux states that, in the last months of 1642, New France mourned
for two men of no common character, who were snatched away from her;
that one of them, who died first, of disease, was a member of the
Society of Jesuits; and that the other, although a layman, was
distinguished by singularly meritorious acts towards the Indian tribes
of Canada. He sketches briefly the career and character of Father
Raymbault, the Jesuit, first referred to, who died at Quebec in the
latter part of October. The second person alluded to was Nicolet. Of him
he gives the following account:]

"He had spent twenty-five years in New France, and had always been a
useful person. On his first arrival, by orders of those who presided
over the French colony of Quebec, he spent two whole years among the
Algonquins of the Island, for the purpose of learning their language,
without any Frenchman as a companion, and in the midst of those
hardships, which may be readily conceived, if we will reflect what it
must be to pass severe winters in the woods, under a covering of cedar
or birch bark; to have one's means of subsistence dependent upon
hunting; to be perpetually hearing rude outcries; to be deprived of the
pleasant society of one's own people; and to be constantly exposed, not
only to derision and insulting words, but even to daily peril of life.
There was a time, indeed, when he went without food for a whole week;
and (what is really wonderful) he even spent seven weeks without having
any thing to eat but a little bark. After this preliminary training[134]
was completed, being sent with four hundred Algonquins to the Iroquois
to treat of peace, he performed his mission successfully. Soon after, he
went to the Nipissiriens, and spent seven years with them, as an adopted
member of their tribe. He had his own small estate, wigwam, and
household stuff, implements for hunting and fishing, and, no doubt, his
own beaver skins, with the same right of trade as the rest; in a word,
he was taken into their counsels; until, being recalled, by the rulers
of the French colony, he was at the same time made a commissary and
charged to perform the office of an interpreter.

"During this period, at the command of the same rulers, he had to make
an excursion to certain maritime tribes, for the purpose of securing
peace between them and the Hurons. The region where those peoples dwell
is nearly three hundred leagues distant, toward the west, from the same
Hurons; and after he had associated himself with seven ambassadors of
these [_i.e._, of the Hurons], having saluted on their route various
small nations which they fell in with, and having propitiated them with
gifts--lest, if they should omit this, they might be regarded as
enemies, and assailed by all whom they met--when he was two days
distant, he sent forward one of his own company to make known to the
nation to which they were going, that a European ambassador was
approaching with gifts, who, in behalf of the Hurons, desired to secure
their friendship. The embassy was received with applause; young men were
immediately sent to meet them, who were to carry the baggage and
equipment of the Manitouriniou (or wonderful man), and escort him with
honor. Nicolet was clad in a Chinese robe of silk, skillfully ornamented
with birds and flowers of many colors; he carried in each hand a small
pistol.[135] When he had discharged these, the more timid persons, boys
and women betook themselves to flight, to escape as quickly as possible
from a man who (they said) carried the thunder in both his hands. But,
the rumor of his coming having spread far and wide, the chiefs, with
their followers, assembled directly to the number of four or five
thousand persons; and, the matter having been discussed and considered
in a general council, a treaty was made in due form. Afterwards each of
the chiefs gave a banquet after their fashion; and at one of these,
strange to say, a hundred and twenty beavers were eaten.

"His object being accomplished, Nicolet returned to the Hurons, and,
presently, to Three Rivers, and resumed both of his former functions,
viz., as commissary and interpreter, being singularly beloved by both
the French and the natives; specially intent upon this, that, uniting
his industry, and the very great influence which he possessed over the
savages, with the efforts of the fathers of the Society [Jesuits], he
might bring as many as he could to the Church; until, upon the recall to
France of Olivier, who was the chief commissary of Quebec, Nicolet, on
account of his merits, was appointed in his place. But he was not long
allowed to enjoy the Christian comfort he had so greatly desired, viz.,
that at Quebec he might frequently attend upon the sacraments as his
pious soul desired, and that he might enjoy the society of those with
whom he could converse upon divine things.

"On the last day of October, having embarked upon a pinnace at the
seventh hour of the afternoon (as we French reckon the hours), i.e.,
just as the shades of evening were falling, hastening, as I have said,
to Three Rivers upon so pious an errand, scarcely had he arrived in
sight of Sillery, when, the north wind blowing more fiercely and
increasing the violence of the storm which had commenced before Nicolet
started,[136] the pinnace was whirled around two or three times, filled
with water from all directions, and finally was swallowed up by the
waves. Some of those on board escaped, among them Savigny, the owner of
the pinnace; and Nicolet, in that time of extreme peril, addressing him
calmly said: "Savigny, since you know how to swim, by all means consult
your own safety; I, who have no such skill, am going to God; I recommend
my wife and daughter to your kindness." In the midst of this
conversation, a wave separated them; Nicolet was drowned; Savigny, who,
from horror and the darkness of the night, did not know where he was,
was torn by the violence of the waves from the boat, to which he had
clung for some time; then he struggled for a while, in swimming, with
the hostile force of the changing waves; until, at last, his strength
failing, and his courage almost forsaking him, he made a vow to God (but
what it was is not related); then, striking the bottom of the stream
with his foot, he reached the bank[137] at that spot, and, forcing his
way with difficulty through the edge of the stream, already frozen, he
crept, half dead, to the humble abode of the fathers. Restoratives were
immediately applied, such as were at hand, especially fire, which was
most needed; but, as the cold weather and the water had almost destroyed
the natural warmth, he could only manifest his thoughts for some time by
motions and not by speech, and so kept the minds of the anxious fathers
in doubt of his meaning; until, recovering his speech, he explained what
had happened with a strong expression of Nicolet's Christian courage.

"The prisoner for whose sake Nicolet had exposed himself to this deadly
peril, twelve days afterwards reached Sillery, and soon after
Quebec--having been rescued from the cruelty of the Algonquins by
Rupæus, who was in command at Three Rivers, in pursuance of letters from
Montmagny, on payment, no doubt, of a ransom. He was already disfigured
with wounds, great numbers of which these most savage men had inflicted
upon him with careful ingenuity, one after another, according to their
custom; but in proportion to the barbarity which he had experienced at
Three Rivers was the kindness which he afterwards met with at Quebec,
where he was treated by the monks of the hospital in such a manner that
he was healed within about twenty days, and was able to return to his
own people....

"This, moreover, was not the first occasion on which Nicolet had
encountered peril of his life for the safety of savages. He had
frequently done the very same thing before, says the French writer; and
to those with whom he associated he left proofs of his virtues by such
deeds as could hardly be expected of a man entangled in the bonds of
marriage; they were indeed eminent, and rose to the height of apostolic
perfection; and, therefore, was the loss of so great a man the more
grievous. Certain it is that the savages themselves, as soon as they
heard what had befallen him, surrounded the bank of the great river in
crowds, to see whether they could render any aid. When all hope of that
was gone, they did what alone remained in their power, by incredible
manifestations of grief and lamentation at the sad fate of the man who
had deserved so well of them."


[Footnote 133: Translated from Du Creux' Hist. of Canada (printed in
Latin, in Paris, 1664), p. 358. That his account should not sooner have
awakened the curiosity of students of American history is due to the
fact previously mentioned, that not until the investigations of John
Gilmary Shea, in 1853, were the "Ouinipigou" identified as the
"Winnebagoes," and their having been visited by Nicolet established. It
was this locating of the objective point of Nicolet's exploration on
American soil that finally stimulated American writers to further
research; though, to the present time, Canadian historians have taken
the lead in investigations concerning the indomitable Frenchman.]

[Footnote 134: _Tirocinium_ is the _first campaign_ of the young
soldier; and so, generally, the first period of trial in any life of
danger and hardship.--_Translator._]

[Footnote 135: It may be interesting to the reader to know how pistols
are described in the author's Latin: "Sclopos minores, exiis qui tactâ
vel leviter rotulâ exploduntier."--_Translator._]

[Footnote 136: "Boreâ flaute pertinaciùs, foedamque tempestatem, quam
excicre gam ceperat, glomerante." Literally, perhaps, "the north wind
blowing more persistently, and gathering into a mass the dark storm
which it had already begun to collect."--_Translator._]

[Footnote 137: The word "littus" here is properly used, not of the dry
land, but of the sloping land under the water, near the edge of the


    Algonquins, viii, 17, 36, 42, 60, 62, 69, 70, 77, 87.

    Algonquins of the Isles des Allumettes, 18, 28, 29, 46.

    Alizon, M., 95, 100.

    Allouez, Father Claudius, 64, 67, 69.

    Amikoüai, "Nation of the Beaver," 50, 51, 54.

    _An account of the French settlements in North America_ (1746),
        cited, 32.

    Assiniboins, not visited by Nicolet, 71.

    Atchiligoüan, an Algonquin nation, 50.

    A8eatsi8aenrrhonon (Aweatsiwaerrhonon), Huron name for the
        Winnebagoes, 45, 46, 60.

    Bay des Puants (Baie des Puants). See Green Bay.

    Beaver Nation, 45, 48, 50, 51, 54, 63.

    Bonhomme, Nicholas, 98.

    Brébeuf, John de, 20, 24, 41, 46, 100.

    Buteux, Father James, 78, 80, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97.

    Cabot, John, viii, ix.

    Cabot, Sebastian, ix.

    Caens, the, 21.

    Capitanal, a Montagnais chief, 93.

    Cartier, James, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15.

    Champlain, Samuel, makes, in 1603, a survey of the St. Lawrence, 16;
      in 1608, founds Quebec, 17;
      attacks the Iroquois, in 1609, _ib._;
      returns, in 1610, to France, 18;
      in 1611 again reaches the St. Lawrence, _ib._;
      soon sails back to France, _ib._;
      in 1613, once more reaches the St. Lawrence, _ib._;
      explores the Ottawa to the Isle des Allumettes, _ib._;
      embarks for France, _ib._;
      in 1615, again sails for New France, 19;
      visits the Hurons, _ib._;
      attacks, with those Indians, the Iroquois, _ib._;
      returns to Quebec, 20;
      a new government for New France, 21;
      Champlain one of the Hundred Associates, 22;
      he defends Quebec against the English, 23;
      next year he surrenders the town, _ib._;
      taken a prisoner to England, 24;
      in 1633, resumes command in New France, _ib._;
      resolves to explore the west, _ib._;
      in 1634, sends Nicolet to the Winnebagoes, 39;
      death of Champlain, 75.

    Champlain's Map of 1632, referred to, 31, 35, 36, 38, 51, 52, 53,
        54, 62, 64, 66, 70.

    Champlain's _Voyages_ of 1613, cited, 36;
      _Voyages_ of 1632, cited, 36, 38, 51, 52, 64, 66, 73.

    Charlevoix' _Carte des Lacs du Canada_, referred to, 57;
      also, his _Nouvelle France_, _ib._

    Chauvin, a captain of the French marine, 15.

    Cheveux Relevés (Standing Hair--Ottawas), 52, 53, 54, 73.

    Chippewas, 38, 53, 54, 55, 90, 91.

    Cioux. See Sioux.

    Columbus, Christopher, viii.

    Company of New France, 21.

    Copper and copper mine early known to the Indians, 36.

    Cortereal, Gaspar, ix.

    Couillard, Guillaume, 82.

    Couillard, Marguerite, 81, 84, 94, 98, 99, 100.

    _Coureurs de bois_, 41.

    Cressé, M., 90.

    Crevier, François, 97.

    Dakotas (Dacotahs.--See Sioux), viii, 62, 71.

    Daniel, Antoine, a Jesuit priest, 41, 80.

    Davost, a Jesuit, 41.

    De Caen, Émery, 20, 24, 32.

    De Caen, William, 20.

    De Champfleur, François, 98.

    De Chasteaufort, Bras-de-fer, 75.

    De Courtemanche, Augustin le, 84.

    De Gand, François Derré, 82.

    Delaplace, Jacques, 94.

    De la Roche, the Marquis, 15.

    De la Roque, John Francis, see Lord of Roberval.

    De Laubin, M., 90.

    De Malapart, M., 95.

    De Maupertuis, M., 93.

    De Repentigny, Jean-Baptiste Le Gardeur, 84.

    Des Gens Puants (Des Gens Puans--Des Puants--Des Puans). See

    Des Roches, M., 85, 88.

    Du Creux' _Hist. of Canada_ (_Historia Canadensis_), cited, 29, 60,
        100, _et seq._

    Du Creux' Map of 1660, referred to, 51, 53, 55, 73.

    Enitajghe, Iroquois name for Green Bay, 56.

    Estiaghicks, Iroquois name of the Chippewas, 53.

    Ferland's _Cours d'Histoire du Canada_, cited, 27, 82, 89;
      also, his _Notes sur les Registres de Notre-Dame de Québec_, 27,
        82, 85.

    Fire Nations (Les Gens de Feu). See Mascoutins.

    Foster's _Mississippi Valley_, cited, 59.

    Fox Indians (Outagamis--Les Renards--Musquakies), 64, 65, 66.

    Fox River of Green Bay, 61, 64, 66, 67, 68, 70.

    Fur-trade, the, 22.

    Gens de Mer (Gens de Eaux de Mer). See Winnebagoes.

    Godefroy, Jean, 94, 95.

    Godefroy, Louis, 95.

    Godefroy, Thomas, 96.

    Gravier's _Découvertes et Établissement de Cavalier de la Salle_,
        cited, 82;
      his _Map by Joliet_, referred to, 55, 59.

    Green Bay, 56, 60, 62, 69, 70.

    Guitet, a notary, records of, 27, 82.

    Hébert, Guillaume, 82.

    Hébert, Guillemette, 82.

    Hertel, François, 99.

    Hertel, Jacques, 99.

    Horoji (Hochungara--Winnebagoes), 60.

    Huboust, Guillaume, 82.

    Hundred Associates (Hundred Partners), 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 31, 39,
        42, 76, 82.

    Hurons, 17, 19, 21, 23, 36, 42, 43, 47, 48, 49, 51, 62, 63, 69, 76,
        77, 102, 103.

    Illinois (Indians), 70.

    Iroquois, 17, 18, 20, 29, 38, 44, 51, 76.

    _Jesuit Relations_, cited:
      1635--44, 46, 93;
      1636--30, 45, 60, 77, 78, 79, 80;
      1637--78, 80, 81;
      1640--38, 45, 48, 50, 51, 53, 56, 57, 62, 67, 68, 69, 70, 72, 73;
      1643--26, 27, 28, 30, 47, 48, 49, 58, 60, 62, 72, 74, 78, 83, 84,
        85, 86, 87, 88;
      1648--38, 53;
      1654--38, 69;
      1656--62, 70;
      1670--64, 67, 69;
      1671--53, 56, 64.

    _Jesuit Relations_, the, 27.

    Jesuits, the, 68, 80, 85.

    Joliet, Jean, 96.

    Joliet, Louis, 68, 69, 96.

    Joques, Father Isaac, 91, 97.

    Juchereau, Noël, 82.

    Kaukauna, town of, 65.

    Kickapoos (Kikabou, Kikapou, Quicapou, Kickapoux, Kickapous,
        Kikapoux, Quicpouz), 67.

    Kirk, David, 23.

    La Baye (La Baye des Eaux Puantes--La Grande Baie--La Baye des
        Puans--Lay Baye des Puants). See Green Bay.

    Lake Michigan (Lake of the Illinois--Lake St. Joseph--Lake
        Dauphin--Lac des Illinois--Lac Missihiganin--Magnus Lacus
        Algonquinorum), 55, 56, 66, 69, 70, 72.

    Lake Superior, 54.

    Lake Winnebago (Lake of the Puants--Lake St. Francis), 62, 65.

    La Marchand, Jeanne, 99.

    La Mêlée, Christopher Crevier, Sieur de, 97.

    La Mer, Marguerite, 27.

    La Mer, Maria, 27.

    La Nation des Puans (La Nation des Puants). See Winnebagoes.

    La Nouë, Annie de, 24, 41.

    La Porte, Pierre de, 82.

    La Vallée, Claude, 99.

    Laverdière's _Reprint of Champlain's Works_, referred to, 36.

    Le Caron, Father Joseph, 19, 20.

    Le Jeune, Paul, 24, 41, 80.

    Le Neuf, family of, 94.

    Le Neuf, Maria, 94, 95, 98.

    Les Folles Avoine. See Menomonees.

    Le Tardif, Olivier, 82, 83, 84, 103.

    Lippincott's _Gazetteer_, cited, 33.

    Lord of Roberval, 14, 15.

    Macard, Nicolas, 84, 100.

    Mackinaw, Straits of, 55.

    Manitoulin Islands, 50, 51.

    Mantoue (Mantoueouee--Makoueoue), tribe of, 56.

    Margry, Pierre, in _Journal Général de l'Instruction Publique_, 29,
        72, 84.

    Marguerie, François, 95, 99.

    Marguerie, Maria, 99.

    Marquette, Father James, 68, 69.

    Marsolet, Nicolas, 84, 100.

    Mascoutins (Macoutins--Mascoutens--Maskeutens--Maskouteins--
        Musquetens--Machkoutens--Maskoutench--Machkoutenck--Les Gens de
        Feu--The Fire Nation--Assistagueronons--Assistaehronons), 51,
        52, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70.

    Masse, the Jesuit, 41.

    Menomonees (Maromine--Malhominies--Les Folles Avoine), 57, 58.

    Miamis, 67.

    Michigan, signification of the word, 65.

    Mississippi, meaning of the word, 67.

    Montmagnais, 36, 41.

    Montmagny, M. de, 70, 75, 76, 77, 105.

    Nantoue. See Mantoue.

    Nation des Puans (Nation des Puants--Nation of Stinkards). See

    Nation du Castor (Nation of Beavers). See Beaver Nation.

    Nation of the Sault. See Chippewas.

    Nenascoumat, an Indian chief, 95.

    Neutral Nation, 51, 61, 65.

    Nez Percés (Naiz percez). See Beaver Nation.

    Nicolet, Gilles, 88, 89.

    Nicolet, John, arrives in New France, 26;
      sent by Champlain, in 1618, to the Algonquins of Isle des
        Allumettes, 28;
      goes on a mission of peace to the Iroquois, 29;
      takes up his residence with the Nipissings, _ib._;
      recalled by the government to Quebec, 30;
      employed as interpreter, _ib._;
      Champlain resolves to send him on a western exploration, 33;
      Nicolet had heard of the Winnebagoes, 39;
      prepares, in June, 1634, to visit this and other nations, 40;
      starts upon his journey, 42;
      why it must have been in 1634 that Nicolet made his westward
        exploration, _ib._, _et seq._;
      travels up the Ottawa to the Isle des Allumettes, 46;
      goes hence to the Huron villages, 47;
      object of his mission there, 48;
      starts for the Winnebagoes, 49;
      reaches Sault Sainte Marie, 51;
      did he see Lake Superior? 54;
      discovers Lake Michigan, 55;
      arrives at the Menomonee river, 56;
      ascends Green Bay to the homes of the Winnebagoes, 60;
      has a great feast with the Indians, 62;
      goes up Fox river to the Mascoutins, 63;
      visits the Illinois tribe, 71;
      returns to the Winnebagoes, _ib._;
      Nicolet's homeward trip in 1635--he calls upon the
        Pottawattamies, 72;
      stops at the Great Manatoulin to see a band of Ottawas, 78;
      reaches the St. Lawrence in safety, 74;
      settles at Three Rivers as interpreter, 77;
      his kindness to the Indians, 78;
      has a narrow escape from drowning, 81;
      helps defend Three Rivers from an Iroquois attack, _ib._;
      his marriage, _ib._;
      goes to Quebec, 82;
      becomes General Commissary of the Hundred Partners, _ib._;
      embarks for Three Rivers, 83;
      his death, 84;
      Frenchmen and Indians alike mourn his fate, 87;
      his memory perpetuated, 89;
      his energetic character, 90;
      mention of him in the parish register of Three Rivers, 93,
        _et seq._;
      first connected sketch published of his life and exploration,
        100, _et seq._

    Nicolet, Madame, 95, 96.

    Nicolet, Pierre, 89.

    Nicolet, Thomas, 27.

    Nipissings (Nipisiriniens), 29, 30, 31, 43, 47.

    Noquets, 56.

    O'Callaghan's _Doc. Hist. of New York_, referred to, 36;
      his _N. Y. Col. Doc._, cited, 51.

    Ojibwas. See Chippewas.

    Otchagras (Ochungarand). See Winnebagoes.

    Otchipwes. See Chippewas.

    Ottawas, 50, 52, 54, 65, 66, 73.

    Ouasouarim, 50.

    Oumalouminek (Oumaominiecs). See Menomonees.

    Oumisagai, 51, 54.

    "Ounipeg," signification of, 38.

    Ounipigou. See Winnebagoes.

    Outaouan. See Ottawas.

    Outchougai, 50.

    Parkman's _Jesuits in North America_, cited, 41, 43, 46, 80;
      also, his _La Salle and the Discovery of the Great West_, 38, 58;
      and his _Pioneers of France in the New World_, 52.

    "People of the Falls." See Chippewas.

    "People of the Sea." See Winnebagoes.

    Perot, Nicolas, 84.

    Petun Nation, 51, 52.

    Pijart, Claudius, 96.

    Poncet, Josephus, 98, 99.

    Pontgravé, merchant, 15.

    Pottawattamies, 71.

    Quentin, Father Claude, 77, 78, 79, 93.

    Racine, Claude, 82.

    Racine, Etienne, 82.

    Raratwaus. See Chippewas.

    Raymbault, Father Charles, 83, 86, 91, 97, 101.

    Richelieu, Cardinal, 21.

    River des Puans (River of the Puants--River St. Francis). See Fox

    Rollet, Marie, 82.

    Roquai. See Noquets.

    Sacs (Sauks--Saukis--Sakys), 64.

    Sagard's _Histoire du Canada_, cited, 38.

    Sault de Sainte Marie, 51.

    Sault Sainte Marie, town of, 54, 72, 97.

    Sauteurs (Stiagigroone). See Chippewas.

    Savigny (Chavigny), 83, 84, 85, 86, 104.

    Schoolcraft's _Thirty Years with the Indian Tribes_, cited, 59.

    "Sea-Tribe." See Winnebagoes.

    Shea, John Gilmary, in _Wis. Hist. Soc. Coll._, 73.

    Shea's _Catholic Missions_, cited, 53;
      also, his _Discovery and Exploration of the Mississippi Valley_,
        38, 45, 59, 63, 100;
      and his _Hennepin_, 67.

    Sillery, mission of, founded, 70.

    Sioux (Dacotas), 37, 62, 71.

    Smith's _History of Wisconsin_, cited, 27, 38, 73.

    Standing Hair, the. See Ottawas.

    St. Croix Fort, established, 32.

    Sulte, Benjamin, in _L'Opinion Publique_, 68, 90.

    Sulte's _Chronique Trifluvienne_, cited, 31;
      also, his _Mélanges d'Histoire et de Littérature_, 43, 84, 89.

    "The Men of the Shallow Cataract." See Chippewas.

    Three Rivers, parish church register of, 44, 45, 93, _et seq._

    Three Rivers, town of, 31, 32, 33, 42, 45, 74, 77, 78, 79, 82, 83,
        86, 103.

    Tobacco Nation. See Petun Nation.

    Verrazzano, John, ix.

    Winnebagoes, viii, 37, 38, 39, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 48, 49, 50, 57,
        58, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 71, 72, 74, 77.

    Wisconsin, derivation of the word, 59.

    Wisconsin river, 59, 61, 68.

    Woodman, Cyrus, 27.

    Woolf river, 65, 66.

OCT. 1881.

         CINCINNATI, O.

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       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes

  Index reordered alphabetically. Obvious printer's errors have been
  repaired, otherwise spelling and punctuation are true to the original.
  Italics are enclosed in _underscores_.

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