AT the time when M. de la Salle was preparing for his last voyage
into North America,
to be at Rouen, the place where he and I
were both born, being returned from the army, where I had served sixteen
or seventeen years.
The reputation gained by M. de la Salle, the greatness of his
undertaking, the natural curiosity which all men are possessed with, and
my acquaintance with his kindred, and with several of the inhabitants of
that city, who were to bear him company, easily prevailed with me to make
one of the number, and I was admitted as a volunteer.
Our rendezvous was appointed at Rochelle, where we were to embark.
MM. Cavelier, the one brother, the other nephew to M. de la Salle, MM.
Chedeville, Planteroze, Thibault, Ory, some others, and I, repaired
thither in July, 1684.
M. de la Salle having provided all things necessary for his voyage,
surmounted all the difficulties laid in his way by several ill-minded
persons, and received his orders from M. Arnoult, the Intendant at
Rochelle, pursuant to those he had received from the king, we sailed 01
the 24th of July, 1684, being twenty.four vessels, four of them for our
voyage, and the others for the islands and Canada.
The four vessels appointed for M. de la Salle’s enterprise, had on
board about two hundred and eighty persons, including the crews; of which
number there were one hundred soldiers, with their officers; one Talon,
with his Canada family, about thirty volunteers, some young women, and the
rest hired people and workmen of all sorts, requisite for making of a
The first of the four vessels was a man-of-war, called Le Joly, of
about thirty-six or forty-guns, commanded by M. de Beaujeu, on which M. de
la Salle, his brother the priest, two Recollet friars, MM. Dainmaville and
Chedeville, priests, and I embarked. The next was a little frigate,
carrying six guns, which the king had given to M. de la Salle, commanded
by two masters; a flyboat of about three hundred tons burden, belonging to
the Sieur Massiot, merchant at Rochelle, commanded by the Sieur Aigron,
and laden with all the effects M. de la Salle had thought necessary for
his settlement, and a small ketch, on which M. de la Salle had embarked
thirty tons of ammunition, and some commodities designed for St. Domingo.
All the fleet, being under the command of M. de Beaujeu, was ordered
to keep together as far as Cape Finisterre, whence each was to follow his
own course; but this was prevented by an unexpected accident. We were
come into 45° 23′ of north latitude, and about 50 leagues from Rochelle,
when the bowsprit of our ship, the Joly, on a sudden broke short, which
obliged us to strike all our other sails, and cut all the rigging the
broken bowsprit hung by.
Every man reflected on this accident according to his inclination.
Some were of opinion it was a contrivance; and it was debated in council,
whether we should proceed to Portugal, or return to Rochelle or Rochefort;
but the latter resolution prevailed. The other ships designed for the
islands and Canada, parted from us, and held on their course. We made
back for the river of Rochefort, whither the other three vessels followed
us, and a boat was sent in to acquaint the Intendant with this accident.
The boat returned some hours after, towing along a bowsprit, which was
soon set in its place, and after M. de la Salle had conferred with the
Intendant, he left that place on the first of August, 1684.
We sailed again, steering W. and by S., and on the 8th of the same
month weathered Cape Finisterre, which is in 43° of north latitude,
without meeting anything remarkable. The 12th, we were in the latitude of
Lisbon, or about 39 north. The 16th, we were in 36, the latitude of the
Straits, and on the 20th, discovered the island of Madeira, which is in
32°, and where M. de Beaujeu
proposed to M. de la Salle to anchor, and take in water and some
M. de la Salle was not of that mind, on account that we had been but
twenty- one days from France, had sufficient store of water, ought to have
taken aboard refreshments enough, and it would be a loss of eight or ten
days to no purpose; besides, that our enterprise required secresy, whereas
the Spaniards might get some information, by means of the people of that
island, which was not agreeably to the King’s intention.
This answer was not acceptable to M. de Beaujeu, or the other
officers, nor even to the ship’s crew, who muttered at it very much; and
it went so far, that a passenger called Paget, a Huguenot of Rochelle, had
the insolence to talk to M. de la Salle in a very passionate and
disrespectful manner, so that he was fain to make his complaint to M. de
Beaujeu, and to ask of him whether he had given any encouragement to such
a fellow to talk to him after that manner. M. de Beaujeu made him no
satisfaction. These misunderstandings, with some others which happened
before, being no way advantageous to his majesty’s service, laid the
foundation of those tragical events which afterwards put an unhappy end to
M. de la Salle’s life and undertaking, and occasioned our ruin.
However, it was resolved not to come to an anchor at that island,
whereupon M. de Beaujeu said, that since it was so, we should put in
nowhere but at the island of St. Domingo. We held on our course,
weathered the island of Madeira, and began to see those little flying
fishes, which, to escape the dorados, or gilt-heads, that pursue them,
leap out of the water, take a little flight of about a pistol shot, and
then fall again into the sea, but very often into ships, as they are
sailing by. That fish is about as big as a herring, and very good to eat.
On the 24th we came into the trade wind, which continually blows from
east to west, and is therefore called by some authors ventus subsolanus,
because it follows the motion of the sun. The 28th, we were in 27° 44′ of
north latitude, and in 344° of longitude. The 30th, we had a storm, which
continued violent for two days, but being right astern of us, we only lost
sight of the ketch, for want of good steering, but she joined us again in
a few days after.
The 6th of September, we were under the tropic of Cancer, in 23° 30′
of north latitude, and 319° of longitude. There M. de la Salle’s
obstructing the ceremony the sailors call ducking, gave them occasion to
mutter again, and rendered himself privately odious. So
many have given an account of the nature of that folly, that it would be
needless to repeat it here; it may suffice to say, that there are three
things to authorize it:
- The oath administered to those who
are ducked, which is to this effect, that they will not permit any to pass
the tropics or the line, without obliging them to the same ceremony; and
- which is the most prevailing argument, the interest accruing to the
sailors upon that occasion, by the refreshments, liquors, or money, given
them by the passengers, to be excused from that ceremony.
M. de la Salle being informed that all things were preparing for that
impertinent ceremony of ducking, and that a tub full of water was ready on
the deck (the French duck in a great cask of water, the English in the
sea, letting down the person at the yard-arm), sent word that he would not
allow such as were under his command to be subject to that folly, which
being told to M. de Beaujeu, he forbid putting it in execution, to the
great dissatisfaction of the inferior officers and sailors, who expected a
considerable sum of money and quantity of refreshments, or liquors,
because there were many persons to duck, and all the blame was laid upon
M. de la Salle.
On the 11th of September we were in the latitude of the island of St.
Domingo, or Hispaniola, being 20° north, and the longitude of 320°. We
steered our course west, but the wind flatting, the ensuing calm quite
stopped our way. That same day M. Dainmaville, the priest, went aboard
the bark La Belle, to administer the sacraments to a gunner, who died a
few days after. M. de la Salle went to see him, and I bore him company.
The 21st, the ketch, which we had before lost sight of, joined us
again; and some complaints being made to M. de la Salle, by several
private persons who were aboard the flyboat, he ordered me to go thither
to accommodate those differences, which were occasioned only by some
jealousies among them.
The 16th, we sailed by the island Sombrero, and the 18th had hard
blowing weather, which made us apprehensive of a hurricane. The foul
weather lasted two days, during which time we kept under a main course,
and lost sight of the other vessels.
A council was called aboard our ship, the Joly, to consider whether
we should lie by for the others, or hold on our course, and it was
resolved that, considering our water began to fall short, and there were
above five persons sick aboard, of which number M. de la Salle and the
surgeon were, we should make all the sail we could, to reach the
first port of the island Hispaniola, being that called Port de Paix, or
Port Peace, which resolution was accordingly registered.
The 20th we discovered the first land of Hispaniola, being Cape
Samana, lying in 19° of north latitude, and of longitude 308°. The 25th
we should have put into Port de Paix, as had been concerted, and it was
not only the most convenient place for us to get refreshments, but also
the residence of M. de Cussy, Governor of the island of Tortuga, who knew
that M. de la Salle carried particular orders for him to furnish such
necessaries as he stood in need of.
Notwithstanding these cogent reasons, M. de Beaujeu was positive to
pass further on in the night, weathering the island of Tortuga, which is
some leagues distant from Port de Paix and the coast of Hispaniola. He
also passed Cape St. Nicolas, and the 26th of the said month we put into
the bay of Jaguana, coasting the island of Guanabo, which is in the middle
of that great bay or gulf, and in conclusion, on the 27th, we arrived at
Petit Gouave, having spent 58 days on our passage from the port of Chef de
Bois, near Rochelle.
This change of the place for our little squadron to put into, for
which no reason could be given, proved very disadvantageous; and it will
hereafter appear, as I have before observed, that those misunderstandings
among the officers insensibly drew on the causes from whence our
As soon as we had dropped anchor, a
or great sort of canoe,
came out from the place, with twenty men, to know who we were, and hailed
us. Being informed that we were French, they acquainted us that M. de
Cussy was at Port de Paix, with the Marquis de St. Laurent,
Lieutenant-General of the American Islands, and M. Begon, the Intendant,
which very much troubled M. de la Salle, as having affairs of the utmost
consequence to concert with them; but there was no remedy, and he was
obliged to bear it with patience.
The next day, being the 28th, we sang Te Deum, in thanksgiving for
our prosperous passage. M. de la Salle being somewhat recovered of his
indisposition, went ashore with several of the gentlemen of his retinue,
to buy some refreshments for the sick, and to find means to send notice of
his arrival to MM. de St. Laurent, De Cussy, and Begon, and signify to
them how much he was concerned that we had not put into Port de Paix. He
wrote particularly to M. de Cussy, to desire he would come to him, if
possible, that he might be of assistance to him, and take the necessary
measures for rendering his enterprise successful, that it might prove to
the King’s honor and service.
In the meantime, the sick suffering very much aboard the ships by
reason of the heat, and their being too close together, the soldiers were
put ashore, on a little island, near Petit Gouaves, which is the usual
burial-place of the people of the pretended reformed religion, where they
had fresh provisions, and bread baked on purpose, distributed to them. As
for the sick, I was ordered by M. de la Salle to provide a house for them,
whither they were carried, with the surgeons, and supplied with all that
was requisite for them.
Some days after, M. de la Salle fell dangerously ill; most of his
family were also sick. A violent fever, attended with lightheadedness,
brought him almost to extremity. The posture of his affairs, want of
money, and the weight of a mighty enterprise, without knowing whom to
trust with the execution of it, made him still more sick in mind than he
was in his body, and yet his patience and resolution surmounted all those
difficulties. He pitched upon M. le Gros and me to act for him, caused
some commodities he had aboard the ships to be sold, to raise money; and
through our care, and the excellent constitution of his body, he recovered
Whilst he was in that condition, two of our ships, which had been
separated from us on the 18th of September, by the stormy winds, arrived
at Petit Gouave on the 2d of October. The joy conceived on account of
their arrival, was much allayed by the news they brought of the loss of
the ketch, taken by two Spanish piraguas; and that loss was the more
grievous, because that vessel was laden with provisions, ammunition,
utensils, and proper tools for the settling of our new colonies; a
misfortune which would not have happened, had M. de Beaujeu put into Port
de Paix, and MM. de St. Laurent, De Cussy, and Begon, who arrived at the
same time, to see M. de la Salle, did not spare to signify as much to him,
and to complain of that miscarriage.
M. de la Salle being recovered, had several conferences with these
gentlemen, relating to his voyage. A consult of pilots was called to
resolve where we should touch before we came upon the coast of America,
and it was resolved to steer directly for the western point of the Island
of Cuba, or for Cape St. Antony, distant about 300 leagues from
Hispaniola, there to expect the proper season, and a fair wind to enter
the gulf or bay, which is but two hundred leagues over.
The next care was to lay in store of other provisions, in the room of
those which were lost, and M. de la Salle was the more pressing for us to
embark, because most of his men deserted, or were debauched by the
inhabitants of the place; and the vessel called L’Aimable,
being the worst sailer of our little squadron, it was resolved that she
should carry the light, and the others to follow it. M. de la Salle, M.
Cavelier, his brother, the Fathers Zenobrius and Anastasius, both
Recollets, M. Chedeville, and I, embarked on the said Aimable, and all
sailed the 25th of November.
We met with some calms and some violent winds, which, nevertheless,
carried us in sight of the island of Cuba on the 30th of the same month,
and it then bore from us N. W. There we altered our course and steered W.
and by N. The 31st, the weather being somewhat close, we lost sight of
that island, then stood W. N. W., and the sky clearing up, made an
observation at noon, and found we were in 19° 45′ of north latitude; by
which we judged that the currents had carried us off to sea from the
island of Cuba.
On the first of December we discovered the island of Cayman. The 2d
we steered N. W. and by W. in order to come up with the island of Cuba, in
the northern latitude of 20° 32′. The 3d we discovered the little island
of Pines, lying close to Cuba. The 4th, we weathered a point of that
island, and the wind growing scant, were forced to ply upon a bowline, and
make several trips till the 5th, at night, when we anchored in a creek, in
15 fathom water, and continued there till the 8th.
During that short stay, M. de la Salle went ashore with several
gentlemen of his retinue on the island of Pines, shot an alligator dead,
and returning aboard, perceived he had lost two of his volunteers, who had
wandered into the woods, and perhaps lost their way. We fired several
musket shots to call them, which they did not hear, and I was ordered to
expect them ashore, with 30 musqueteers to attend me. They returned the
next morning with much trouble.
In the meantime our soldiers, who had good stomachs, boiled and eat
the alligator M. de la Salle had killed. The flesh of it was white, and
had a taste of musk, for which reason I could not eat it. One of our
hunters killed a wild swine, which the inhabitants of those islands call
maron. There are of them in the island of St. Domingo, or Hispaniola. They
are of the breed of those the Spaniards left in the islands when they
first discovered them, and run wild in the woods. I sent it to M. de la
Salle, who presented the one-half to M. de Beaujeu.
That island is all over very thick wooded, the trees being of several
sorts, and some of them bear a fruit resembling the acorn, but harder.
There are abundance of parrots, larger than those at Petit Gouave, a great
number of turtle doves and other birds, and a sort of creatures
resembling a rat, but as big as a cat, their hair reddish. Our men killed
many of them and fed heartily on them, as they did on a good quantity of
fish, wherewith that coast abounds.
We embarked again as soon as the two men who had strayed were
returned, and on the 8th, being the Feast of the Conception of the Blessed
Virgin, sailed in the morning, after having heard mass, and the wind
shifting, were forced to steer several courses. The 9th we discovered
Cape Corrientes, of the island of Cuba, where we were first becalmed, and
then followed a stormy wind, which carried us away five leagues to the
eastward. The 10th, we spent the night making several trips. The 11th,
the wind coming about, we weathered Cape Corrientes, to make that of St.
Antony; and at length, after plying a considerable time, and sounding, we
came to an anchor the 12th, upon good ground, in fifteen fathom water, in
the creek formed by that cape, which is in 22° of north latitude, and 288°
35′ of longitude.
We stayed there only till next day, being the 13th, when the wind
seemed to be favorable to enter upon the Bay of Mexico. We made ready and
sailed, steering N. W. and by N. and N. N. W. to weather the said cape,
and prosecute our voyage: but by the time we were five leagues from the
place of our departure, we perceived the wind shifted upon us, and not
knowing which way the currents sate, we stood E. and by N. and held that
course till the 14th, when M. de Beaujeu, who was aboard the Joly, joined
us again, and having conferred with M. de la Salle about the winds being
contrary, proposed to him to return to Cape St. Antony, to which M. de la
Salle consented, to avoid giving him any cause to complain, though there
was no great occasion for so doing, and accordingly we went and anchored
in the place from whence we came.
The next day, being the 15th, M. de la Salle sent some men ashore, to
try whether we could fill some casks with water. They brought word, they
had found some in the wood which was not much amiss, but that there was no
conveniency for rolling of the casks; for which reason rundlets were sent,
and as much water brought in them as filled six or seven of our water
The same men reported that they had found a glass bottle, and in it a
little wine, or some other liquor, almost dead. This was all the
provision we found in that place, by which it appears how much M. Tonty
was misinformed, since in his book, page 242, he says, we found in that
island several tuns [sic] of Spanish wine, good brandy, and
Indian wheat, which the Spaniards had left or abandoned; and it is a mere
invention, without anything of truth.
The 16th, the weather being still calm, the men went ashore again for
five or six more casks of water. I was to have gone with them, had not an
indisposition, which I first felt in the Island of Pines, and afterwards
turned to a
prevented me. Therefore I can give no account
of that island, any further than what I could see from the ships, which
was abundance of that sort of palm-trees in French called lataniers, fit
for nothing but making of brooms, or scarce any other use. That day we
saw some smokes far within the island, and guessed they might be a signal
of the number of our ships, or else made by some of the country hunters
who had lost their way.
The next night preceding the 17th, the wind freshening from the N.
W., and starting up all on a sudden, drove the vessel called La Belle upon
her anchor, so that she came foul of the bowsprit of the Aimable, carrying
away the spritsail-yard and the spritsail-top-sail-yard; and had not they
immediately veered out the cable of the Aimable, the vessel La Belle would
have been in danger of perishing, but escaped with the loss of her mizen,
which came by the board, and of about a hundred fathoms of cable and an
The 18th, the wind being fresh, we made ready, and sailed about ten
in the morning, stand N. and N. and by W., and held our course till noon;
the point of Cape St. Anthony bearing east and west with us, and so
continued steering north-west, till the 19th at noon, when we found
ourselves in the latitude of 22° 58′
north, and in 287° 54′ longitude.
Finding the wind shifting from one side to another, we directed our
course several ways, but that which proved advantageous to us was the fair
weather, and that was a great help, so that scarce a day passed without
taking an observation.
The 20th we found the variation of the needle was 5° west, and we
were in 26° 40′ of north latitude, and 285° 16′
longitude. The 23d it
grew very cloudy, which threatened stormy weather, and we prepared to
receive it, but came off only with the apprehension, the clouds dispersing
several ways, and we continued till the 27th in and about 28° 14′, and
both by the latitude and estimation it was judged that we were not far
The bark called La Belle was sent out to discover and keep before,
sounding all the way; and half an hour before sunset we saw the vessel La
Belle put out her colors and lie by for us. Being
come up with her, the master told us he had found an oozy bottom at
thirty-two fathom water. At eight of the clock we sounded also, and found
forty fathom, and at ten but twenty-five. About midnight, La Belle
sounding again, found only seventeen, which being a demonstration of the
nearness of the land, we lay by for the Joly, to know what M. de Beaujeu
designed, who being come up, lay by with us.
The 27th, M. de Beaujeu sent the Chevalier d’Aire, his lieutenant,
and two pilots to M. de la Salle, to conclude upon the course we were to
steer, and it was agreed we should stand W. N. W. till we came into six
fathom water; that then we should run west, and when we had discovered the
land, boats should be sent to view the country. Matters being thus agreed
on, we sailed again, sounding all the way for the more security, and about
ten were in ten or eleven fathoms water, the bottom fine greyish sand and
oozy. At noon, were in 26° 37′ of north latitude.
The 28th, being in eight or nine fathom water, we perceived the bark
La Belle, which kept ahead of us, put out her colors, which was the signal
of her having discovered something. A sailor was sent up to the main-top,
who descried the land, to the N. E., not above six leagues’ distance from
us, which being told to M. de Beaujeu, he thought fit to come to an
There being no man among us who had any knowledge of that bay, where
we had been told the currents were strong, and sate swiftly to the
eastward, it made us suspect that we were fallen off, and that the land we
saw must be the Bay of Apalache, which obliged us on the 29th to steer W.
N. W., still keeping along the land, and it was agreed that the Joly
should follow us in six fathom water.
The 30th, the Chevalier d’Aire and the second pilot of the Joly came
aboard us to confer and adjust by our reckonings what place we might be
in, and they all agreed, according to M. de la Salle’s opinion, that the
currents had set us to the eastward, for which reason we held on our
course, as we had done the day before, to the N.W., keeping along the
shore till the 1st of January, 1685, when we perceived that the currents
forced us towards the land, which obliged us to come to an anchor in six
We had not been there long before the bark La Belle made a signal
that she had discovered land, which we descried at about four leagues’
distance from us. Notice was given to M. de Beaujeu who drew near to us,
and it was resolved to send some person to discover and take an account of
the land that appeared to us.
Accordingly a boat was manned, and into it went M. de la Salle, the
Chevalier d’Aire, and several others; another boat was also put out,
aboard which I went with ten or twelve of our gentlemen, to join M. de la
Salle, and the bark La Belle was ordered to follow, always keeping along
the shore; to the end that if the wind should rise we might get aboard
her, to lose no time.
Some of those who were in M. de la Salle’s boat, and the foremost,
went ashore and saw a spacious plain country of much pasture ground, but
had not the leisure to make any particular discovery, because, the wind
freshening, they were obliged to return to their boat, to come aboard
again; which was the reason why we did not go quite up to the shore, but
returned with them to our ship. All that could be taken notice of was a
great quantity of wood along the coast. We took an observation, and found
29° 10′ of north latitude.
The 2nd, there arose a fog, which made us lose sight of the Joly. The
next day, the weather clearing up, we fired some cannon-shot, and the Joly
answered; and towards the evening we perceived her to the windward of us.
We held on our course, making several trips till the 4th, in the evening,
when, being in sight and within two leagues of the land, we came to an
anchor to expect the Joly, for which we were in pain.
The 5th, we set sail, and held on our course, W. S. W., keeping along
the shore till about six in the evening, when we stood away to the
southward, and anchored at night in six fathom water.
The 6th, we would
have made ready to sail, but the pilot perceiving that the sea broke
astern of us, and that there were some shoals, it was thought proper to
continue at anchor till the wind changed, and we accordingly stayed there
the 6th and all the 7th. The 8th, the wind veering about, we stood out a
little to sea, to avoid those shoals, which are very dangerous, and
anchored again a league from thence. Upon advice that the bark La Belle
had discovered a small island, which appeared between the two points of a
bay, M. de la Salle sent a man up to the round-top, from whence both the
one and the other were plainly to be seen, and according to the sea charts
we had with us, that was supposed to be the bay of the Holy Ghost.
The 9th, M. de la Salle sent to view those shoals. Those who went
reported there was a sort of bank which runs along the coast; that they
had been in one fathom water, and discovered the little island before
mentioned, and as for the sand-bank there is no such thing marked down in
the charts. M. de la Salle having examined the
reckonings, was confirmed in his opinion that we were in the Bay of
Apalache, and caused us to continue the same course.
The 10th, he took an observation and found 29° 23′ north latitude.
The 11th, we were becalmed, and M. de la Salle resolved to go ashore, to
endeavor to discover what he was looking for; but as we were making ready,
the pilot began to mutter because five or six of us were going with M. de
la Salle, who too lightly altered his design, to avoid giving offence to
brutish people. In that particular he committed an irretrievable error;
for it is the opinion of judicious men who, as well as I, saw the rest of
that voyage, that the mouth of one of the branches of the Mississippi
River, and the same whose latitude M. de la Salle had taken when he
travelled to it from Canada, was not far from that place, and that we must
of necessity be near the Bay of the Holy Ghost.
It was M. de la Salle’s design to find that bay, and having found it,
he had resolved to have set ashore about thirty men, who were to have
followed the coast on the right and left, which would infallibly have
discovered to him that fatal river, and have prevented many misfortunes;
but Heaven refused him that success, and even made him regardless of an
affair of such consequence, since he was satisfied with sending thither
the pilot, with one of the masters of the bark La Belle, who returned
without having seen anything, because a fog happened to rise; only the
master of the bark said he believed there was a river opposite to those
shoals, which was very likely; and yet M. de la Salle took no notice of
it, nor made any account of that report.
The 12th, the wind being come about, we weighed and directed our
course S. W., to get further from the land. By an observation found
50′ north latitude, and the wind shifting, and the currents which set from
the seaward driving us ashore, it was found convenient to anchor in four
or five fathom water, where we spent all the night.
The 13th, we perceived our water began to fall short, and therefore
it was requisite to go ashore to fill some casks. M. de la Salle proposed
it to me to go and see it performed, which I accepted of, with six of our
gentlemen who offered their service. We went into the boat, with our
arms; the boat belonging to the bark La Belle followed ours, with five or
six men; and we all made directly for the land.
We were very near the shore when we discovered a number of naked men
marching along the banks, whom we supposed to be native
savages. We drew within two musket shots of the land, and the shore being
flat, the wind setting from the offing, and the sea running high, dropped
our anchors, for fear of staving our boats.
When the savages perceived we had stopped, they made signs to us with
skins, to go to them, showed us their bows, which they laid down upon the
ground, and drew near to the edge of the shore; but because we could not
get ashore, and still they continued their signals, I put my handkerchief
on the end of my firelock, after the manner of a flag, and made signs to
them to come to us. They were some time considering of it, and at last
some of them ran into the water up to their shoulders, till perceiving
that the waves overwhelmed them, they went out again, fetched a large
piece of timber, which they threw into the sea, placed themselves along
both sides of it, holding fast to it with one arm and swimming with the
other; and in that manner they drew near to our boat.
Being in hopes that M. de la Salle might get some information from
those savages, we made no difficulty of taking them into our boat, one
after another, on each side, to the number of five, and then made signs to
the rest to go to the other boat, which they did, and we carried them on
M. de la Salle was very well pleased to see them, imagining they
might give him some account of the river he sought after; but to no
purpose, for he spoke to them in several of the languages of the savages,
which he knew, and made many signs to them, but still they understood not
what we meant, or if they did comprehend anything, they made signs that
they knew nothing of what he asked; so that having made them smoke and
eat, we showed them our arms and the ship, and when they saw at one end of
it some sheep, swine, hens, and turkeys, and the hide of a cow we had
killed, they made signs that they had of all those sorts of creatures
We gave them some knives and strings of beads, after which, they were
dismissed, and the waves hindering us from coming too near the shore, they
were obliged to leap into the water, after we had made fast about their
necks, or to the tuft of hair they have on the top of the head, the knives
and other small presents M. de la Salle had given them.
They went and joined the others who expected them, and were making
signs to us to go to them; but not being able to make the shore, we stood
off again and returned to our ship. It is to be observed, that when we
were carrying them back, they made some signs
to us, by which we conceived they would signify to us that there was a
great river that way we were passed, and that it occasioned the shoals we
The wind changing the same day, we weighed anchor and stood to the
southward, to get into the offing, till the 14th, in the morning, when we
were becalmed. At noon we were in 28° 51′ of north latitude. The wind
freshened, and in the evening we held on our course, but only for a short
time, because the wind setting us towards the shore, we were obliged to
anchor again, whereupon M. de la Salle again resolved to send ashore, and
the same persons embarked in the same boats to that effect.
We met with the same obstacles that had hindered us the day before,
that is, the high sea, which would not permit us to come near the shore,
and were obliged to drop anchor in fourteen feet water. The sight of
abundance of goats and bullocks, differing in shape from ours, and running
along the coast, heightened our earnestness to be ashore. We therefore
sounded to see whether we might get to land by stripping, and found we
were on a flat, which had four feet water, but that beyond it there was a
deep channel. Whilst we were consulting what to do, a storm arose, which
obliged M. de la Salle to fire a gun for us to return aboard, which we did
against our inclination.
M. de la Salle was pleased with the report we made him, and by it
several were encouraged to go ashore to hunt, that we might have some
fresh meat. We spent all that night, till the next morning, in hopes of
returning soon to that place; but the wind changing, forced us to weigh
and sail till the evening, when we dropped anchor in six fathom water.
The land, which we never departed from very far, appeared to us very
pleasant, and having lain there till the 16th, that morning we sailed W.
S. W. We weathered a point, keeping a large offing, because of the sea’s
beating upon it, and stood to the southward. At noon we were in 28 20
of north latitude, and consequently found the latitude declined, by which
we were sensible that the coast tended to the southward. At night we
anchored in six fathom water.
The 17th, the wind continuing the same, we held on our course S. W.,
and having about then [cr] discovered a sort of river, M. de la Salle
caused ten of us to go into a boat to take a view of that coast, and see
whether there was not some place to land. He ordered me, in case we found
any convenient place, to give him notice either by fire or smoke.
We set out, and found the shoals obstructed our descent. One of
our men went naked into the water to sound that sand bank, which lay
between us and the land; and having shown us a place where we might pass,
we with much difficulty forced our boat into the channel, and six or seven
of us landed, after ordering the boat to go up into that which had
appeared to us to be a river, to see whether any fresh water could be
As soon as we were landed, I made a smoke to give notice to M. de la
Salle, and then we advanced both ways, without straggling too far, that we
might be ready to receive M. de la Salle, who was to come, as he did, soon
after, but finding the surges run high, he returned, and our boat finding
no fresh water, came back and anchored to wait for us.
We walked about every way, and found a dry soil, though it seemed to
be overflowed at some times; great lakes of salt water, little grass, the
track of goats on the sand, and saw herds of them, but could not come near
them; however, we killed some ducks and bustards. In the evening, as we
were returning, we missed an English seaman; fired several shots to give
him notice, searched all about, waited till after sunset, and at last,
hearing no tidings of him, we went into the boat to return aboard.
I gave M. de la Salle an account of what we had seen, which would
have pleased him had the river we discovered afforded fresh water. He was
also uneasy for the lost man; but about midnight we saw a fire ashore, in
the place we came from, which we supposed to be made by our man, and the
boat went for him as soon as it was day on the 18th.
After that we made several trips, still steering towards the S. W.,
and then ensued a calm, which obliged us to come to an anchor. Want of
water made us think of returning towards the river, where we had been the
day before. M. de la Salle resolved to set a considerable number of men
ashore, with sufficient ammunition, and to go with them himself, to
discover and take cognizance of that country, and ordered me to follow
him. Accordingly we sailed back, and came to an anchor in the same place.
All things necessary for that end being ordered on the 19th, part of
the men were put into a boat; but a very thick fog rising, and tak ing
away the sight of land, the compass was made use of, and the fog
dispersing as we drew near the land, we perceived a ship making directly
towards us, and that it was the Joly, where M. de Beaujeu commanded, which
rejoiced us; but our satisfaction was not lasting, and it will appear by
the sequel, that it were to have been wished that
M. de Beaujeu had not joined us again, but that he had rather gone away
for France, without ever seeing of us.
His arrival disconcerted the execution of our enterprise. M. de la
Salle, who was already on his way, and those who were gone before him,
returned aboard, and some hours after, M. de Beaujeu sent his Lieutenant,
M. de Aire, attended by several persons, as well clergymen as others,
among whom was the Sieur Gabaret, second pilot of the Joly.
M. de Aire complained grievously to M. de la Salle, in the name of M.
de Beaujeu, for that, said he, we had left him designedly; which was not
true, for, as I have said, the Joly lay at anchor ahead of us when we were
separated from her; we fired a gun to give her notice of our departure, as
had been concerted, and M. de Beaujeu answered it; besides that, if we had
intended to separate from him, we should not have always held our course
in sight of land, as we had done, and that had M. de Beaujeu held the same
course, as had been agreed, he had not been separated from us.
There were afterwards several disputes between the Captains and the
pilots, as well aboard M. de la Salle as aboard M. de Beaujeu, when those
gentlemen returned, about settling exactly the place we were in, and the
course we were to steer; some positively affirming we were farther than we
imagined, and that the currents had carried us away; and the others, that
we were near the Magdalen River.
The former of those notions prevailed, whence, upon reflection, M. de
la Salle concluded that he must be past his river, which was but too true;
for that river emptying itself in the sea by two channels, it followed
that one of the mouths fell about the shoals we had observed on the 6th of
the month; and the rather because those shoals were very near the latitude
that M. de la Salle had observed when he came by the way of Canada to
discover the mouth of that river, as he told me several times.
This consideration prevailed with M. de la Salle to propose his
design of returning towards those shoals. He gave his reasons for so
doing, and exposed his doubts; but his ill fortune made him not be
regarded. Our passage had taken up more time than had been expected, by
reason of the calms; there was a considerable number of men aboard the
Joly, and provisions grew short, insomuch that they said it would not hold
out to return, if our departure were delayed. For this reason M. de
Beaujeu demanded provisions of M. de la Salle; but he asking enough for a
long time, M. de la Salle answered he could only give him enough for a
fortnight, which was
more time than was requisite to reach the place he intended to return to;
and that besides he could not give him more provisions, without rummaging
all the stores to the bottom of the hold, which would endanger his being
cast away. Thus nothing was concluded, and M. de Beaujeu returned to his
In the meantime, want of water began to pinch us, and M. de la Salle
resolved to send to look for some about the next river. Accordingly he
ordered the two boats that had been made ready the day before, to go off.
He was aboard one of them himself, and directed me to follow him. M. de
Beaujeu also commanded his boat to go for wood. By the way, we met the
said Sieur de Beaujeu in his yawl returning from land, with the Sieur
Minet, an engineer, who told us they had been in a sort of salt pool, two
or three leagues from the place where the ships were at anchor; we held on
our way and landed.
One of our boats, which was gone ahead of us, had been a league and a
half up the river, without finding any fresh water in its channel; but
some men wandering about to the right and left, had met with divers
rivulets of very good water, wherewith many casks were filled.
We lay ashore, and our hunters having that day killed a good store of
ducks, bustards, and teal, and the next day two goats, M. de la Salle sent
M. de Beaujeu part. We feasted upon the rest, and that good sport put
several gentlemen that were then aboard M. de Beaujeu, among whom were M.
du Hamel, the ensign and the king’s clerk, upon coming ashore to partake
of the diversion; but they took much pains and were not successful in
In the meantime many casks were filled with water, as well for our
ship as for M. de Beaujeu’s. Some days after M. d’Aire, the lieutenant,
came ashore to confer with M. de la Salle, and to know how he would manage
about the provisions; but both of them persisting in their first
proposals, and M. de la Salle perceiving that M. de Beaujeu would not be
satisfied with provisions for fifteen days, which he thought sufficient to
go to the place where he expected to find one of the branches of the
Mississippi, which he with good reason believed to be about the shoals I
have before spoken of, nothing was concluded as to that affair. M. d’Aire
returned to his captain, and M. de la Salle resolved to land his men;
which could not be done for some days, because of the foil weather; but in
the meantime we killed much game.
During this little interval, M. de la Salle being impatient to get
some intelligence of what he sought after, resolved to go himself upon
discovery, and to seek out some more useful and commodious river than that
where they were. To this purpose he took five or six of us along with
him. We set out one morning in so thick a fog, that the hindmost could
not perceive the track of the foremost, so that we lost M. de la Salle for
We travelled till about three in the afternoon, finding the country
for the most part sandy, little grass, no fresh water, unless in some
sloughs, the track of abundance of wild goats, lakes full of ducks, teals,
water-hens, and having taken much pains returned without success.
The next morning M. de la Salle’s Indian, going about to find wild
goats, came to a lake which had a little ice upon it, the weather being
cold, and abundance of fish dying about the edges of it. He came to
inform us; we went to make our provision of them, there were some of a
prodigious magnitude, and among the rest extraordinary large trouts, or
else they were some sort of fish very like them. We caused some of each
of a sort to be boiled in salt water, and found them very good. Thus
having plenty of fish and flesh, we began to use ourselves to eat them
both without bread.
Whilst we lived thus easy enough, M. de la Salle expected with
impatience to know what resolution M. de Beaujeu would take, that he might
either go to the place where he expected to find the Mississippi, or
follow some other course; but at last, perceiving that his affairs did not
advance, he resolved to put his own design in execution, the purport
whereof was to land one hundred and twenty, or one hundred and thirty men,
to go along the coast, and continue it till they had found some other
river, and that at the same time the bark La Belle should hold the same
course at sea, still keeping along the coast, to relieve those ashore in
time of need.
He gave me and M. Moranget, his nephew, the command of that small
company, he furnished us with all sorts of provisions for eight or ten
days, as also arms, tools, and utensils, we might have occasion for, of
which every man made his bundle. He also gave us written instructions of
what we were to do, the signals we were to make; and thus we set out on
the 4th of February.
We took our way along the shore. Our first day’s journey was not
long; we encamped on a little rising ground, heard a cannon shot, which
made us uneasy, made the signals that had been appointed, and the next
day, being the 5th, we held on our march, M. Moranget bringing up the
rear, and I leading the van.
I will not spend time in relating several personal accidents,
inconsiderable in themselves, or of no consequence, the most considerable
of them being the want of fresh water; but will proceed to say, that after
three days’ march we found a great river, where we halted and made the
signals agreed on, encamping on a commodious spot of ground till we could
hear of the boat, which was to follow us, or of our ships.
But our provisions beginning to fall short, and none of our ships
appearing, being, besides, apprehensive of some unlucky accident
occasioned by the disagreement between M. de la Salle and M. de Beaujeu,
the chief of our company came together to know what resolution we should
take. It was agreed that we should spare our provisions to endeavor to go
on to some place where we might find bullocks; but it was requisite to
cross the river, and we knew not how, because we were too many of us; and
therefore it was decreed to set some carpenters there were among us at
work to build a little boat, which took them up the eleventh and twelfth
The 13th we were put out of our pain by two vessels we discovered at
sea, which we knew to be the Joly and La Belle, to whom we made our
signals with smoke. They came not in then, because it was late, but the
next day, being the 14th, in the morning, the boat, with the Sieur
Barbier, and the pilot of the bark La Belle, came up, and both sounded the
mouth of the river.
They sounded on the bar from ten to twelve feet water, and within it
from five to six fathom; the breadth of the river being about half a
quarter of a league. They sounded near the island, which lies between the
two points of the bay, and found the same depth. The boat of the Joly
came and sounded on the other side of the channel, and particularly along
the shoals, I know not to what purpose. The same day M. de la Salle, for
whom we were much in pain, came also, and as soon as he arrived he caused
the boat to be laden with such provisions as we stood in need of, but the
wind being contrary, it could not come to us till the next day, being the
That same day M. de la Salle came ashore to view the place and
examine the entrance into the river, which he found to be very good.
Having considered all particulars, he resolved to send in the barks La
Belle and L’Aimable, that they might be under shelter, to which purpose he
ordered to sound, and to know whether those two vessels could both come in
that same bay. M. de Beaujeu caused also the place to be sounded, and lay
ashore on the other side of the river, where he took notice there were
vines which run up the trees like
our wall vines, some woods, and the carcasses of bullocks, which he
supposed to have died with thirst.
The 16th, the pilots of the Joly, L’Aimable, and La Belle, went again
to sound. They found the entrance easy, and gave it under their hands.
The 17th, they fixed stakes to mark out the way, that the vessels might
come safe in. All things seemed to promise a happy event.
The 18th the Chevalier d’Aire came ashore to confer with M. de la
Salle, who, being desirous to have the flyboat L’Aimable come in that day,
ordered the most weighty things in her to be unloaded, as the cannon, the
iron, and some other things. It was my good fortune that my chest stood
in the way, and was also unloaded, but that unlading could not be done
till the next day, being the 19th. That being performed, the Captain
affirmed it would go in at eight feet water.
The 20th M. de la Salle sent orders to that Captain to draw near the
bar, and to come in at high water, of which a signal should be given him;
he also ordered the pilot of the bark La Belle to go aboard the flyboat,
to be assisting when it came in. The Captain would not receive him
aboard, saying he could carry in his ship without his help. All these
precautions proved of no use; M. de la Salle could not avert his ill fate.
He having taken notice of a large tree on the bank of the river, which he
judged fit to make a canoe, sent 7 or 8 workmen to hew it down, two of
whom returned some time after, in a great fright, and told him they had
narrowly escaped being taken by a company of savages, and that they
believed the others had fallen into their hands. M. de la Salle ordered
us immediately to handle our arms, and to march with drums beating against
the savages, who seeing us in that posture, faced about and went off.
M. de la Salle being desirous to join those savages, to endeavor to
get some information from them, ordered ten of us to lay down our arms and
draw near them, making signs to them at the same time, to come to us.
When they saw us in that posture and unarmed, most of them also laid down
their bows and arrows and came to meet us, caressing us after their
manner, and stroking first their own breasts and then ours, then their own
arms and afterwards ours. By these signs they gave us to understand that
they had a friendship for us, which they expressed by laying their hands
on their hearts, and we did the same on our part.
Six or seven of those savages went along with us, and the rest kept
three of our men in the nature of hostages. Those who went
with us were made much of, but M. de la Salle could learn nothing of them,
either by signs or otherwise; all they could make us understand was, that
there was good hunting of bullocks in the country. We observed that their
yea consisted in a cry, fetched from the bottom of the throat, not unlike
the call of a hen to gather her chickens. M. de la Salle gave them some
knives, hatchets, and other trifles, with which they seemed well pleased,
and went away.
M. de la Salle was glad to be rid of those people, because he was
willing to be present when the flyboat came in; but his ill fate would not
permit it. He thought fit to go himself along with those savages, and we
followed him, thinking to have found our men in the same place where we
left them; but perceived, on the contrary, that the savages had carried
them away to their camp, which was a league and a half from us, and M. de
la Sablonniere, lieutenant of foot, being one of those the savages had
taken with them, M. de la Salle resolved to go himself to fetch him away,
an unhappy thought which cost him dear.
As we were on our way towards the camp of the savages, happening to
look towards the sea, we saw the flyboat L’Aimable under sail, which the
savages who were with us admired, and M. de la Salle observing it
narrowly, told us those people steered wrong, and were standing towards
the shoals, which made him very uneasy, but still we advanced. We arrived
at the camp of the savages, which stood upon an eminence, and consisted of
about fifty cottages made of rush mats, and others of dried skins, and
built with long poles bowed round at the top, like great ovens, and most
of the savages sitting about, as if they were upon the watch.
We were still advancing into the village when we heard a cannonshot,
the noise whereof struck such a dread among the savages, that they all
fell flat upon the ground; but M. de la Salle and we were too sensible it
was a signal that our ship was aground, which was confirmed by seeing them
furl their sails; however, we were gone too far to return, our men must be
had, and to that purpose we must proceed to the hut of the
As soon as we arrived there M. de la Salle was introduced; many of
the Indian women came in, they were very deformed, and all naked,
excepting a skin girt about them which hung down to their knees. They
would have led us to their cottages, but M. de la Salle had ordered us not
to part, and to observe whether the Indians did not draw together, so that
we kept together, standing upon our guard, and I was always with him.
They brought us some pieces of beef, both fresh and dried in the air
and smoke, and pieces of porpoise, which they cut with a sort of knife
made of stone, setting one foot upon it and holding with one hand whilst
they cut with the other. We saw nothing of iron among them. They had
given our men, that came with them, to eat, and M. de la Salle being
extraordinary uneasy we soon took leave of them to return. At our going
out we observed about forty canoes, some of them like those M. de la Salle
had seen on the Mississippi, which made him conclude he was not far from
We soon arrived at our camp, and found the misfortune M. de la Salle
had apprehended was but too certain. The ship was stranded on the shoals.
The ill management of the captain, or of the pilot, who had not steered by
the stakes placed for that purpose; the cries of a sailor posted on the
main-top, who cried amain, “luff,” which was to steer towards the passage
marked out, whilst the wicked captain cried out “Come no nearer,” which
was to steer the contrary course; the same captain’s carelessness in not
dropping his anchor as soon as the ship touched, which would have
prevented her sticking aground; the folly of lowering his main-sheet and
hoisting out his sprit-sail, the better to fall into the wind and secure
the shipwreck; the captain’s refusing to admit the pilot of the bark La
Belle, whom M. de la Salle had sent to assist him; the sounding upon the
shoals to no purpose, and several other circumstances reported by the
ship’s crew, and those who saw the management, were infallible tokens and
proofs that the mischief had been done designedly and advisedly, which was
one of the blackest and most detestable actions that man could be guilty
This misfortune was so much the greater, because that vessel
contained almost all the ammunition, utensils, tools, and other
necessaries for M. de la Salle’s enterprise and settlement. He had need
of all his resolution to bear up against it; but his intrepidity did not
forsake him, and he applied himself, without grieving, to remedy what
might be. All the men were taken out of the ship; he desired M. de
Beaujeu to lend him his long boat, to help save as much as might be. We
began with powder and meal. About thirty hogs-heads of wine and brandy
were saved, and fortune being incensed against us, two things contributed
to the total loss of all the rest.
The first was, that our boat which hung at the stern of the ship run
aground, was maliciously staved in the night, so that we had none left but
M. de Beaujeu’s. The second, that the wind blowing in from the offing
made the waves run high, which beating violently
against the ship split her, and all the light goods were carried out at
the opening by the water. This last misfortune happened also in the
night. Thus everything fell out most unhappily, for had that befallen in
the day abundance of things might have been saved.
Whilst we were upon this melancholy employment, about a hundred or a
hundred and twenty of the natives came to our camp with their bows and
arrows. M. de la Salle ordered us to handle our arms and stand upon our
guard. About twenty of those Indians mixed themselves among us to observe
what we had saved of the shipwreck, upon which there were several
sentinels to let none come near the powder.
The rest of the Indians stood in parcels, or peletons. M. de la
Salle, who was acquainted with their ways, ordered us to observe their
behavior, and to take nothing from them, which nevertheless did not hinder
some of our men from receiving some pieces of meat. Some time after, when
the Indians were about departing, they made signs to us to go a hunting
with them; but, besides that there was sufficient cause to suspect them,
we had enough other business to do. However, we asked whether they would
barter for any of their canoes, which they agreed to. The Sieur Barbier
went along with them, purchased two for hatchets, and brought them.
Some days after, we perceived a fire in the country, which spread
itself and burnt the dry weeds, still drawing towards us; whereupon M. de
la Salle made all the weeds and herbs that were about us be pulled up, and
particularly all about the place where the powder was. Being desirous to
know the occasion of that fire, he took about twenty of us along with him,
and we marched that way, and even beyond the fire, without seeing anybody.
We perceived that it run towards the W. S. W., and judged it had begun
about our first camp, and at the village next the fire.
Having spied a cottage near the bank of a lake, we drew towards it,
and found an old woman in it, who fled as soon as she saw us; but having
overtaken and given her to understand that we would do her no harm, she
returned to her cottage, where we found some pitchers of water, of which
we all drank. Some time after we saw a canoe coming, in which were two
women and a boy, who being landed, and perceiving we had done the old
woman no harm, came and embraced us in a very particular manner, blowing
upon our ears, and making signs to give us to understand that their people
were a hunting.
A few minutes after seven or eight of the Indians appeared, who, it
is likely, had hid themselves among the weeds when they saw us
coming. Being come up, they saluted us after the same manner as the women
had done, which made us laugh. We stayed there some time with them. Some
of our men bartered knives for goats’ skins, after which we returned to
our camp. Being come thither, M. de la Salle made me go aboard the bark
La Belle, where he had embarked part of the powder, with positive orders
not to carry or permit any fire to be made there, having sufficient cause
to fear everything after what had happened. For this reason they carried
me and all that were with me, our meat every day.
During this time it was that L’Aimable opening in the night, the next
morning we saw all the light things that were come out of it floating
about, and M. de la Salle sent men every way, who gathered up about 30
casks of wine and brandy, and some of flesh, meal, and grain.
When we had gathered all, as well what had been taken out of the
shipwrecked vessel as what could be picked up in the sea, the next thing
was to regulate the provisions we had left proportionably to the number of
men we were; and there being no more biscuit, meal was delivered out, and
with it we made hasty pudding with water, which was none of the best; some
large beans and Indian corn, part of which had taken wet; and everything
was distributed very discreetly. We were very much incommoded for want of
kettles, but M. de Beaujeu gave M. de la Salle one, and he ordered another
to be brought from the bark La Belle, by which means we were all served.
We were still in want of canoes. M. de la Salle sent to the camp of
the Indians to barter for some, and they who went thither observed that
those people had made their advantage of our shipwreck, and had some bales
of Normandy blankets, and they saw several women had cut them in two and
made petticoats of them. They also saw bits of iron of the ship that was
cast away, and returned immediately to make their report to M. de la
Salle, who said we must endeavor to get some canoes in exchange, and
resolved to send thither again the next day. M. du Hamel, ensign to M. de
Beaujeu, offered to go up in his boat, which M. de la Salle agreed to, and
ordered MM. Moranget, his nephew, Desloges, Oris, Gayen, and some others
to bear him company.
No sooner were those gentlemen, who were more hot than wise, landed,
but they went up to the camp of the Indians with their arms in their
hands, as if they had intended to force them, whereupon several of those
people fled. Going into the cottages they found others, to whom M. du
Hamel endeavored to signify by signs that he would
have the blankets they had found restored; but the misfortune was, that
none of them understood one another. The Indians thought it their best
way to withdraw, leaving behind them some blankets and skins of beasts,
which those gentlemen took away, and finding some canoes in their return,
they seized two, and got in to bring them away.
But having no oars, none of them, knowing how to manage those canoes,
and having only some pitiful poles, which they could not tell the right
use of, and the wind being also against them, they made little way, which
the Sieur du Hamel, who was in his boat, perceiving, and that night drew
on, he made the best of his way, forsook them, and returned to the camp.
Thus night came upon them, which obliged those inexperienced
canoe-men, being thoroughly tired, to go ashore to take some rest, and the
weather being cold, they lighted a fire, about which they laid them down
and fell asleep; the sentinel they had appointed doing the same. The
Indians returning to their camp, and perceiving our men had carried away
two canoes, some skins, and blankets, took it for a declaration of war,
resolved to be revenged, and discovering an unusual fire, presently
concluded that our men had halted there. A considerable number of them
repaired to the place, without making the least noise, found our careless
people fast asleep, wrapped up in their blankets, and shot a full volley
of their arrows upon them altogether on a sudden, having first given their
usual shout before they fall on.
The Sieur Moranget awaking with the noise, and finding himself
wounded, started up and fired his piece successfully enough; some others
did the same, whereupon the natives fled. The Sieur Moranget came to give
us the alarm, though he was shot through one of his arms, below the
shoulder, and had another slanting wound on the breast. M. de la Salle
immediately sent some armed men to the place, who could not find the
Indians, but when day appeared they found the Sieurs Oris and Desloges
dead upon the spot, the Sieur Gayen much hurt, and the rest all safe and
This disaster, which happened the night of the 5th of March, very
much afflicted M. de la Salle; but he chiefly lamented M. Desloges, a
sprightly youth, who served well; but in short, it was their own fault,
and contrary to the charge given them, which was to be watchful, and upon
their guard. We were under apprehensions for MM. Moranget and Gayen, lest
the arrows should be poisoned. It
afterwards appeared they were not; however, M. Moranget’s cure proved
difficult, because some small vessel was cut.
The consequences of this misfortune, together with the concern most
of the best persons who had followed M. de la Salle were under, supported
the design of those who were for returning to France, and forsaking him,
of which number were M. Dainmaville, a priest of the seminary of St.
Sulpice, the Sieur Minet, engineer, and some others. The common
discourses of M. de la Salle’s enemies tending to discredit his conduct,
and to represent the pretended rashness of his enterprise, contributed
considerably towards the desertion; but his resolution prevailing, he
heard and waited all events with patience, and always gave his orders
without appearing the least discomposed.
He caused the dead to be brought to our camp, and buried them
honorably, the cannon supplying the want of bells, and then considered of
making some safer settlement. He caused all that had been saved from the
shipwreck to be brought together into one place, threw up intrenchments
about it to secure his effects, and perceiving that the water of the
river, where we were, rolled down violently into the sea, he fancied that
might be one of the branches of the Mississippi, and proposed to go up it,
to see whether he could find any tokens of it, or of the marks he had left
when he went down by land to the mouth of it.
In the mean time M. de Beaujeu was preparing to depart: the Chevalier
de Aire had many conferences with M. de la Salle about several things; the
latter demanded of M. de Beaujeu particularly the cannon and ball which
were aboard the Joly, and had been designed for him, which M. de Beaujeu
refused, alleging that all those things lay at the bottom of the hold, and
that he could not rummage it without evident danger of perishing; though,
at the same time, he knew we had eight pieces of cannon, and not one
I know not how that affair was decided between them, but am sure he
suffered the captain of the flyboat L’Aimable to embark aboard M. de
Beaujeu, though he deserved to be most severely punished, had justice been
done him. His crew followed him, contrary to what M. de Beaujeu had
promised, that he would not receive a man of them. All that M. de la
Salle could do, though so much wronged, was to write to France to M. de
Saignelay, minister of state, whom he acquainted with all the particulars,
as I was informed when I returned, and he gave the packet to M. de
Beaujeu, who sailed away for France.
Having lost the notes I took at that time, and being forced to rely
much upon memory for what I now write, I shall not pretend to be any
longer exact in the dates, for fear of mistaking, and therefore I cannot
be positive as to the day of M. de Beaujeu’s departure, but believe it was
the 14th of March, 1685.
When M. de Beaujeu was gone, we fell to work to make a fort of the
wreck of the ship that had been cast away, and many pieces of timber the
sea threw up; and during that time several men deserted, which added to M.
de la Salle’s affliction. A Spaniard and a Frenchman stole away and fled,
and were never more heard of. Four or five others followed their example,
but M. de la Salle, having timely notice, sent after them, and they were
brought back. One of them was condemned to death, and the others to serve
the King ten years in that country.
When our fort was well advanced, M. de la Salle resolved to clear his
doubts, and to go up the river, where we were, to know whether it was not
an arm of the Mississippi, and accordingly ordered fifty men to attend
him, of which number were M. Cavelier, his brother, and M. Chedeville,
both priests; two Recollet Friars, and several volunteers, who set out in
five canoes we had, with the necessary provisions. There remained in the
fort about a hundred and thirty persons, and M. de la Salle gave me the
command of it, with orders not to have any commerce with the natives, but
to fire at them if they appeared.
Whilst M. de la Salle was absent, I caused an oven to be built, which
was a great help to us, and employed myself in finishing the fort, and
putting it in a posture to withstand the Indians, who came frequently in
the night to range about us, howling like wolves and dogs; but two or
three musket shots put them to flight. It happened one night that, having
fired six or seven shot, M. de la Salle, who was not far from us, heard
them, and being in pain about it, he returned with six or seven men, and
found all things in a good posture.
He told us he had found a good country, fit to sow and plant all
sorts of grain, abounding in beeves and wild fowl; that he designed to
erect a fort farther up the river, and accordingly he left me orders to
square out as much timber as I could get, the sea casting up much upon the
shore. He had given the same orders to the men he had left on the spot,
seven or eight of whom, detached from the rest, being busy at that work,
and seeing a number of the natives, fled, and unadvisably left their tools
behind them. M. de la Salle returning thither, found a paper made fast to
a reed which gave him
notice of that accident, which he was concerned at, because of the tools;
not so much for the value of the loss, as because it was furnishing the
natives with such things as they might afterwards make use of against us.
About the beginning of April, we were alarmed by a vessel which
appeared at sea, near enough to discern the sails, and we supposed they
might be Spaniards who had heard of our coming, and were ranging the coast
to find us out. That made us stand upon our guard, to keep within the
fort, and see that our arms were fit for service. We afterwards saw two
men in that vessel, who, instead of coming to us, went towards the other
point, and by that means passed on without perceiving us.
Having one day observed that the water worked and bubbled up, and
afterwards perceiving it was occasioned by the fish skipping from place to
place, I caused a net to be brought, and we took a prodigious quantity of
fish; among which were many dorados, or gilt-heads, mullets, and others
about as big as a herring, which afforded us good food for several days.
This fishery, which I caused to be often followed, was a great help
towards our subsistence.
About that time, and on Easter-day that year, an unfortunate accident
befel M. le Gros. After divine service, he took a gun to go kill snipes
about the fort. He shot one, which fell into a marsh; he took off his
shoes and stockings to fetch it out, and returning, through carelessness
trod upon a rattle-snake, so called, because it has a sort of scale on the
tail, which makes a noise. The serpent bit him a little above the ankle;
he was carefully dressed and looked after, yet after having endured very
much, he died at last, as I shall mention in its place. Another more
unlucky accident befel us, one of our fishermen swimming about the net to
gather the fish, was carried away by the current, and could not be helped
Our men sometimes went about several little salt water lakes, that
were near our fort, and found on the banks a sort of flat fishes, like
turbots, asleep, which they struck with sharp pointed sticks, and they
were good food. Providence also showed us that there was salt made by the
sun, upon several little salt water pools there were in divers places, for
having observed that there grew on them a sort of white substance, like
the cream upon milk, I took care every day to send and fetch that scum
off, which proved to be a very white and good salt, whereof I gathered a
quantity, and it did us good service.
Some of our hunters having seen a parcel of wild goats running as if
they were frighted, judged they were pursued by the Indians,
and came for refuge to the fort, and to give me notice. Accordingly some
time after, we discovered a parcel of natives, who came and posted
themselves on an eminence, within cannon shot; some of them drew off from
the rest, and approached the fort by the way of the downs. I caused our
men immediately to handle their arms, and wet blankets to be laid on our
huts, to prevent their being burnt by the fire the savages sometimes shoot
with their arrows. All this time those who had separated themselves from
the rest, being three in number, still drew nearer, making signs for us to
go to them; but M. de la Salle had forbidden me having any commerce with
them; however, since they had neither bows nor arrows, we made signs to
them to draw near, which they did without hesitating.
We went out to meet them, M. Moranget made them sit down, and they
gave us to understand by signs, that their people were hunting near us;
being able to make no more of what they said, M. Moranget was for knocking
out their brains, to revenge their having murdered our companions, but I
would not consent to it, since they had come confiding in us. I made
signs to them to be gone, which they did as fast as they could, some small
shot we fired into the air making them run, and a cannon shot, I pointed
towards the rising ground, where the rest were, put them all to flight.
These accidents made us double our guards, since we were at open war
with that crafty nation, which let slip no opportunity to surprise us, and
therefore penalties were appointed for such as should be found asleep upon
sentinel; the wooden-horse was set up for them without remission; and by
means of such precautions we saved our lives.
Thus we spent the rest of the month, till the beginning of June. In
the meantime, M. de la Salle had begun to make another settlement, in the
place he before told us of, looking upon it as better, because it was
further up the country. To that purpose he sent to us the Sieur de
Villeperdry, with two canoes and orders for the Sieur Moranget to repair
to him, if he were recovered, and that all the men should march, except
thirty of the ablest to make a good defence, who were to stay with me in
the fort. The rest being seventy persons, as well men and women, as
children, set out with the Sieur Moranget; and we being but a small number
remaining, I caused the fort to be brought into a less compass, to save
posting so many sentinels.
Our little company began to take satisfaction in the ease of getting,
and the nature of our provisions, which a greater number has more
difficulty to be supplied with, and which we had plenty of, by means of
hunting and fishing, those being our principal employments, and we lived
well enough contented, expecting to be removed. However, there were some
malcontents [cr], who resolved to desert; but finding a difficulty to put
it in execution, for that they could neither get arms, nor powder, nor
ball, because the Sieur le Gros and I kept all locked up, and were very
vigilant, that none might be lavishly spent, they took the cruel
resolution to rid themselves of us.
That bloody massacre was to begin by me, when I was asleep, and then
to proceed to the Sieur le Gros, who lay in the magazine, or warehouse,
and was in no condition to defend himself, because his leg was still
swollen, and put him to much pain. The execution was to be by stabbing.
One of the conspirators revealed this to the Sieur Davault, a hunter, who
immediately came and acquainted me. I did not just then take notice of
what I had been told; but in the evening, when they returned from hunting,
I caused one to be secured, who presently confessed all. His accomplice
was also seized, and it was very troublesome to secure them till the time
when we should remove.
About the middle of July, the bark La Belle came and anchored near
us. An order was brought me from M. de la Salle, directing me to put
aboard it all the effects that were in our fort, to make a float of the
timber I had caused to be squared, if time would permit, if not, to bury
it in the ground. Every man set his hand to the work, with all possible
diligence, and our two prisoners were put aboard, as was also M. le Gros
and his surgeon, with all our effects.
The float was begun with immense labor, but the weather proving very
stormy, and holding very long, I was obliged to cause what had been done
to be taken in pieces, and to bury the timber in the sand, the best we
could, that the natives might not find it.
We then set out towards the place where the Indians had been
encamped, when M. de la Salle went the first time to see them. We found
no creature, and lay there that night, and so proceeded along the sea
coast without any accident to the camp of Sieur Hurie, which was a post in
the way, where M. de la Salle had ordered all our effects to be laid up.
It had no other inclosure but chests and barrels, but there was nothing to
fear from the Europeans.
We spent the night at that post, and two canoes coming thither the
next morning I went aboard one of them with part of my company, and joined
M. de la Salle the next day at the place where he had resolved to make his
new settlement. I gave him an account of all
that had happened, and was amazed to see things so ill begun and so little
advanced. As for the plantation, the seed and grain put into the ground
was either lost through drought or eaten by birds or beasts. There were
several dead, and among them the Sieur de Villeperdry; many sick, and of
that number M. Cavelier, the priest; no shelter but a little square place
staked in, where the powder was and some casks of brandy; many other
inconveniences there were, which made all things appear in a miserable
It was requisite to think of building a large lodgment; M. de la
Salle designed it, but the difficulty was to get proper timber for
building. There was a little wood where a good quantity might be had, but
it was a league up the country, and we had neither carts nor horses to
carry it; however, M. de la Salle sent workmen thither, with others to
guard them. The trees were cut down and squared, but the carpenters were
so ignorant that M. de la Salle was forced to act the master-builder, and
to mark out the pieces for the work he designed. Some of those pieces of
timber were dragged to the camp over the grass and weeds the plain was
covered with, afterwards the carriage of a gun was made use of; but all
cost so much labor that the ablest men were quite spent.
This excessive toil, the poor sustenance the laboring men had, and
that often retrenched as a penalty for having failed in doing their duty,
the uneasiness M. de la Salle was under to see nothing succeed as he had
imagined, and which often made him insult the men when there was little
reason for it, all these things together afflicted very many so sensibly
that they visibly declined, and above thirty died. The loss of so many men
was followed by that of the master-carpenter, who was returning one
evening with me, but I happening to step aside to kill some wild fowl,
when I came to our habitation I found him not, and it was never known what
became of him; an accident which added to our vexation, for though he had
but little skill at his trade, yet we stood in need of him.
Notwithstanding all these disappointments, enough timber was carried,
or rather dragged, to build the house M. de la Salle designed, and he was
himself the architect. He marked out the lengths, the tenons and
mortices, and made good the defect of the workmen; and calling to mind
that I had buried several pieces of timber at our first habitation, which
might be of use, he ordered me to take two canoes and twenty men to go
fetch them in the bark La Belle, which was with us.
Being come to the place, we found the natives had discovered our
timber, and carried away some planks, to pick out the nails there were in
them, which they value very much, to point their arrows. We labored to
make a float, loaded the bark La Belle with the rest of the planks and
other effects, and set out again. Some of the natives appeared whilst we
were at work, but seeing us advance toward them, with our arms in our
hands, they fled.
We returned safe to M. de la Salle, who was glad to see us, though we
had lost one of the canoes for want of its being well made fast to the
float; but the timber we brought was a mighty help towards carrying on his
design, and much fitter than what we had hewed in the wood with so much
labor; so that this timber occasioned the raising another structure
contiguous to the former. All was covered with planks, and bullocks’
hides over them. The apartments were divided, and all of them well
covered. The stores had a place apart, and that dwelling had the name of
St. Louis given it, as well as the neighboring bay.
The Sieur le Gros, who had remained aboard the bark La Belle ever
since the first voyage she made to our former habitation, was carried
ashore to the new one, and his leg still swelling, the surgeon was
apprehensive of a mortification, and advised him to consent to have it cut
off. He did so, though with regret; the operation was made, but a fever
followed immediately, and he lived but two days, dying on the feast of the
decollation of St. John Baptist, much lamented by all the men, and
particularly by M. de la Salle, to whom he was very serviceable by reason
of his general knowledge, and his particular fidelity towards him. M.
Carpentier, son to the master of the works, and the Sieur Thibault, both
of Rouen, and some others, died about the same time.
M. de la Salle being desirous to take a progress, to find his fatal
Mississippi River, and only expecting the recovery of his brother M.
Cavelier, who was to bear him company, he began to make some preparations
towards it, and in the meantime took some small journeys of four or five
leagues about, but could learn nothing further than that it was a very
fine country, hemmed in on one side by a small mountain which appeared at
about fifteen or twenty leagues distance, beautified with very fine trees,
and watered by many little rivers, whereof that on which we had built our
habitation was the least. We called it La Rivière aux bœufs, that is,
the River of Bullocks, by reason of the great number of them there was
about it. These bullocks are very like ours; there are thousands of them,
but instead of hair they have a very long curled sort of wool.
M. de la Salle studying all ways to find out the river Mississippi,
imagined it might fall into the adjacent bay, and resolved to go view all
the coasts about it, and to make use of the bark La Belle. Accordingly,
he ordered me to repair to the said bark, with five men and a canoe, into
which he put his clothes and other effects in several chests.
That short voyage was very troublesome to us, by reason of the foul
weather, with contrary winds and storms, which had like to have
overwhelmed us; and what was still worse, we did not find the bark where
we had left her. We went on a league further to no purpose, and
provisions beginning to fall short, because we had been six days on the
way, instead of three, we resolved to return to the place from whence we
M. de la Salle seeing us return at a distance, came to meet us. Our
report troubled him for the bark, which he stood in need of, so that he
resolved to go himself to seek her. He embarked in a canoe, and sent me
another way, in another. After having wandered about all that day, and
the next night, and the day following, we at last perceived her, where she
lay under shelter in a little creek, having been in danger of perishing by
the foul weather we had been in, and had lost her boat, which was not well
The bark was also discovered by M. de la Salle, who was on the other
side, which made him draw near and land, whence he sent his canoe to the
said bark, and M. Moranget, who commanded it, went aboard to meet him.
The loss of the boat troubled M. de la Salle. I sent a canoe to bring him,
but to no purpose; however, the trunks were put aboard the bark.
M. Cavalier, the priest, being recovered, M. de la Salle prepared to
set out with all speed. He was pleased to honor me with the command
during his absence, and left me an inventory of all that was in our
habitation, consisting of eight pieces of cannon, two hundred firelocks,
as many cutlasses, a hundred barrels of powder, three thousand weight of
balls, about three hundred weight of other lead, some bars of iron, twenty
packs of iron to make nails, some iron work and tools, as hatchets and the
As for provisions, all that were left me amounted to twenty casks of
meal, one cask and a half of wine, three-quarters of a cask of brandy, and
for living creatures some few swine, a cock, and a hen; which is very
short of what has been published by the author of a book entitled, “The
First Establishment in New France:” but the reason of it is, that he
compiled his work upon the credit of relations,
which were as false as to the point of the ammunition and provisions
remaining in our habitation when M. de la Salle set out that time, as
concerning the fort well conditioned, and the magazines or storehouses
under ground, which are all imaginary, there being nothing but the house I
have mentioned, palisaded with some old stakes.
M. de la Salle farther ordered me not to receive any man of those he
took along with him, unless they brought an order from him in writing; nor
to hold or admit of any communication with the natives, but rather to fire
upon them, and some other particulars he thought fit to be observed. He
had made himself a coat of mail with small laths, to secure himself
against the arrows, which he took along with him; he also took the canoes,
and promised to send me one back. Five cannon shots were the signal of
He took his way along the lower part of the river, to march by land
along the neighboring bay, which was called of St. Louis, the canoes
keeping within sight. I was left in the habitation with thirty-four
persons, men, women, and children, and of that number were three Recollet
Friars, the Sieur Hurie, who was to command in my absence, one of the
Sieurs Duhaut, the Sieurs Thibault, and a surgeon.
Our provisions being very small, and it being requisite to spare them
for the sick, we were obliged to apply ourselves to fishing and shooting.
Both of them at first proved very unsuccessful, especially the latter,
because we were not yet well versed in them, and M. de la Salle had taken
our huntsman along with him; but at length necessity made us more expert.
We killed beeves, some of which I caused to be dried, and they were a
considerable help to subsist us.
Some days after, the canoe M. de la Salle had promised me, arrived
with three soldiers, who brought us the news of the loss of the huntsman
M. de la Salle had taken with him, and who had been found dead with cold
in a ditch, where he had lain down to rest after hunting, which troubled
us all very much. They also informed us that M. de la Salle, advancing
towards some dwellings the natives had abandoned after a small resistance,
some of whom had been wounded as they fled, they had taken and brought a
girl and a woman, who was shot through the thigh, of which she died.
The canoe was a great help to us to carry what we killed, which being
brought to our habitation, found employment for all persons, some to flay,
others to cut up, and others to dry it. At other times I set some of our
men to throw up a trench about our habitation.
Thus we spent our time till about the middle of January, 1686,
when, being all, one evening, in our mansion, the sentinel came in to
acquaint me that he heard a voice towards the river. Some men ran thither
immediately, and found a man in a canoe, crying Dominick, which was the
name of young Duhaut, who was with us. The sight of that made me
apprehensive lest some disaster was befallen M. de la Salle. I drew near
and perceived it was Duhaut the elder that was returned.
I asked him whether he had any letters from M. de la Salle; he
answered he had not. It gave me some uneasiness, considering I was forbid
admitting any man without an order in writing, and I was almost resolved
to secure him; but the account he gave me of the occasion of his
returning, wholly cleared him. I admitted him, and he told me the whole
matter, as follows:
M. de la Salle, having stayed some time on the sea shore, near the
place where the bark was at anchor, he resolved to try the anchoring
places of the coasts round about, to know how near the bark La Belle might
come. To that purpose he sent the pilot with five of the best men to
The pilot did as he was ordered, he sounded and observed the proper
places to come near several coasts. At night he and his men being in all
likelihood tired, they thought fit to go ashore and lie upon the land.
They made a fire, perhaps to dress some meat, but neglecting to stand upon
their guard they were surprised, and all six of them killed by the
savages; who also broke their canoe, and thus avenged themselves for the
irruption M. de la Salle had lately made among them.
More time being elapsed than M. de la Salle had allotted those men to
return, he grew uneasy and went himself along the coast, to see if any
news could be had of them, and keeping along the shore he found the sad
remains of those unfortunate wretches, whose carcases, scattered about,
were torn and almost devoured by wolves or wild dogs, a spectacle which
went to his heart.
However, this loss which afflicted him, and particularly for the sake
of the pilot, who was an able man, did not quite cast him down; but
exerting himself against his misfortunes he caused flesh to be dried, and
with that and the other provisions he victualled the bark La Belle. He
caused it to advance into the bay, put a good number of men on board to
secure it, among whom were M. Chedeville, the priest, and Planterose of
Rouen, and ordered them not to stir from that place till they heard from
him, and not to go ashore, unless with a good guard and necessary
Next, he chose out twenty men, embarked on two canoes he had left,
and being come ashore, caused the canoes to be sunk in the river, and
every man to take up his bundle, consisting of arms, tools, some utensils
for the kitchen, a few goods to trade with the natives, if he should find
any sociable, and so advanced into the country, to try if any notice could
be had of the Mississippi.
After several days’ march, they came to a good pleasant river, which
they afterwards called La Maligne. M. de la Salle marching at the head of
the company, and having ordered M. Moranget to keep in the rear, it
happened that Duhaut stopping to mend his knapsack and shoes which were in
a bad condition, the Sieur Moranget coming up, commanded him to march; he
desired him to stay a little, Moranget would not, but held on his way.
Duhaut followed some time after, but having stayed too long, he could not
overtake the company, and found himself about night-fall in a plain full
of weeds, where there were several tracks the way cattle had gone, but
knew not which of them to take. He fired his piece several times without
hearing anything of his company, and was obliged to pass the night in that
In the morning he shot again, spent the day and night again in that
place, so that not knowing what to do, he returned the same way he had
gone, and after a month’s march, for he travelled only by night, for fear
of meeting with the savages, living upon what he killed with much
difficulty and danger, having before spent all his own provisions, at
length, after most unaccountable hardships and sufferings, he arrived at
the place where the canoes had been sunk, He took one of them up, with
incredible labor, and too long to relate, and so came to our habitation of
St. Louis. Thus it pleased God that he who was to be one of the murderers
of M. de la Salle, should come off safe, and surmount almost infinite
This account, which seemed to carry the face of probability,
prevailed with me to receive the Sieur Duhaut, and in reality I could do
no otherwise, and I made it my business to examine into his behavior, but
could find nothing to lay to his charge. We continued some time longer as
we had been before; during which, I caused another little wooden structure
to be made of timber I had got together, and in it I lodged the women and
maidens by themselves. Having hitherto said nothing of the situation of
our dwelling of St. Louis, nor of the nature of the country we were in, I
will here venture upon a plain but true description.
We were in about the 27th degree of north latitude, two leagues
up the country, near the bay of St. Louis and the bank of the river aux
bœufs, on a little hillock, whence we discovered vast and beautiful
plains, extending very far to the westward, all level and full of greens,
which afford pasture to an infinite number of beeves and other creatures.
Turning from the west to the southward, there appeared other plains
adorned with several little woods of several sorts of trees. Towards the
south and east were the bay and the plains that hem it in from the east;
to the northward was the river running along by a little hill, beyond
which there were other large plains, with some little tufts of wood at
small distances terminating in a border of wood, which seemed to us to be
Between that little hill and our dwelling, was a sort of marsh, and
in it abundance of wild fowl, as curlews, water hens and other sorts. In
the marsh there were little pools full of fish. We had also an infinite
number of beeves, wild goats, rabbits, turkeys, bustards, geese, swans,
fieldfares, plovers, teal, partridges and many other sorts of fowl fit to
eat, and among them one called le grand gosier, or the great gullet,
because it has a very large one; another as big and fleshy as a pullet,
which we called the spatula, because its beak is shaped like one, and the
feathers of it being of a pale red, are very beautiful.
As for fish, we had several sorts in the river and in the lakes I
have mentioned. The river afforded a sort of barbel, differing from ours
in roundness, in their having three bones sticking out, one on the back,
the others on each side of the head, and in the flesh, which is like cod,
and without scales. The river supplied us with abundance of other fishes,
whose names we know not. The sea afforded us oysters, eels, trout, a sort
of red fishes and others, whose long, sharp and hard beak tore all our
We had plenty both of land and sea tortoises, whose eggs served to
season our sauces. The land tortoises differ from those of the sea, as
being smaller, round, and their shell more beautiful. They hide
themselves in holes they find or make in the earth. It was in looking for
these tortoises that one of our surgeons thrust his arm into a hole, and
was bit by some venomous creature, which we supposed to be a sort of toad,
having four feet, the top of his back sharp and very hard, with a little
tail. Whether it was this creature or a snake, his arm swelled very much;
however, he was cured by such applications as were made use of, but it
cost him a finger, which was cut off.
Among the venomous sorts of snakes, as vipers, asps and others,
whereof there are many, those called rattle-snakes are the most common.
They generally lie among the brambles, where they make a noise by the
motion of two scales they have at the end of their tail, which is heard at
a considerable distance, and therefore they are called rattle-snakes.
Some of our men had eaten of them and found their flesh was not amiss, and
when we had killed any of them, our swine made a good meal.
There are also many alligators in the rivers, some of them of a
frightful magnitude and bulk. I killed one that was between four and five
foot about, and twenty feet in length, on which our swine feasted. This
creature has very short legs, insomuch that it rather drags along than
walks, and it is easy to follow the track of it, either among the weeds or
on the sands, where it has been. It is very ravenous, and attacks either
men or beasts when they are within reach in the river, and comes also
ashore to seek for food. It has this particular quality, that it flies
from such as pursue, and pursues those who fly from it. I have shot many
of them dead.
The woods are composed of trees of several sorts. There are oaks,
some of them ever-green and never without leaves; others like ours in
Europe, bearing a fruit much like our galls, and lose their leaves in
winter, and another sort not unlike ours in France, but the bark of them
thicker; these as well as the second sort bear an acorn, differing from
ours both in taste and bigness.
There is a sort of tree which bears small berries, which, when ripe,
are red, and indifferent pleasant. It bears twice a year, but the second
crop never ripens. There is another tree, bearing a fruit not unlike
cassia, in taste and virtue.
There are others of the sort I had seen in the islands, whose leaves
are like rackets, whence the tree bears the name. The blossoms grow out
about the leaves, and of them comes a fruit somewhat resembling figs, but
the leaves and the fruit are full of prickles, which must be carefully
rubbed and taken off, before it is eaten, else they dangerously inflame
the mouth and the throat, and may prove mortal, as happened to one of our
soldiers, who had eaten of them too greedily, and without that precaution.
I have seen some trees resembling the palm, whose lofty and long
branches spread like that called the latanier, bearing a fruit said to be
indifferent good. Others of the same sort, but whose leaves are like
gutters, harsh and so sharp pointed that they will pierce the thickest
stuffs. This tree has a sprout on the top which shoots out flowers in the
shape of a nosegay, of a whitish yellow, and some of them at
the top of that sprout have sixty or eighty flowers hanging down, not
unlike the flower de luce, and after those flowers follows a fruit as long
as a man’s finger, and thicker than the thumb, full of little seeds, so
that there is scarce anything but the rind fit to eat, the taste whereof
is sweet and delicate.
There are abundance of creeping vines, and others that run up the
bodies and to the tops of trees, which bear plenty of grapes, fleshy and
sharp, not to compare to the delicacy of ours in Europe; but we made
verjuice of them, which was very good in sauce. Mulberry trees are
numerous along the rivers; their fruit is smaller, but sweeter and more
delicious than ours; their leaves are beautiful and large, which would be
of good use for feeding of silkworms.
The plains are strewed with a sort of small sorrel, the leaf whereof
is like trefoil, and the taste of it sharp like ours. There are abundance
of small onions no bigger than the top of a man’s finger, but very well
tasted, and when the heat has scorched up the plains, that plant shoots
out first, and produces flowers which look like an agreeable enamel.
Nothing is more beautiful than to behold those vast plains when the
blossoms appear; a thousand sorts of different colors, whereof many have
an agreeable scent, adorn those fields, and afford a most charming object
to the eye. I have observed some that smelt like a tuberose, but the leaf
resembles our borage. I have seen primroses having a scent like ours,
African gilliflowers, and a sort of purple wind flowers. The autumn
flowers are almost all of them yellow, so that the plains look all of that
The climate is mild and temperate, though we were about 27 of north
latitude, and yet the seeds I caused to be sowed did not thrive; whether
it was because they had been soaked in the sea water, or for any other
reason. Some came up pretty well, as pompions, melons, parsnips and
endive; but the beasts and the insects left us not much. When we come to
the Cenis, and have traversed so many nations as lay between us and them,
I shall speak of the religion, manners, clothing, houses, and customs of
the natives, wherein they differ but little from one another, though of
M. de la Salle had been now long gone, and we began to be in pain for
him, when, about the middle of March, 1686, happening to be on the top of
the house, I spied seven or eight persons coming towards us. I presently
ordered eight armed men to follow me, to go meet them, and as soon as we
drew near them we knew M. de la Salle, M. Cavelier, his brother, M.
Moranget, his nephew, and five or
six men with them, the rest being gone another way to find out the bark La
Belle, to give notice of M. de la Salle’s arrival.
They were in a bad condition, their clothes ragged; M. Cavelier’s
short cassock hung in tatters; most of them had not hats, and their linen
was no better; however, the sight of M. de la Salle rejoiced us all. The
account he gave us of his journey revived our hopes, though he had not
found the fatal river, and we thought only of making ourselves as merry as
we could. Only the sight of the Sieur Duhaut interrupted it for some
time. M. de la Salle asked me in an angry manner, why I had received him,
and Duhaut having given his reasons, as I and my men did, we were all
The next day, the Sieurs le Barbier, Biborel, Le Petit, Cavelier, the
nephew, the surgeon and others, whom M. de la Salle had sent to find out
and carry advice to the bark La Belle, returned, and said they could not
find her, which was another fresh cause of much uneasiness to M. de la
Salle. He had been guilty of the fault of putting aboard her, his
clothes, his linen, his papers, and all his best effects, of all which he
was then in the utmost need. Besides, that loss broke all the measures he
had concerted during his last expedition, because he had resolved to cause
the said bark to go up one of the rivers he had discovered, to advance
towards those nations, with whom he had contracted some friendship, and to
send me in the same bark, with his nephew Moranget, to the islands to seek
for some assistance, or else to return by sea to look for his river.
All these designs being disappointed, he resolved to set out a second
time, and travel by land, to find out his river. He stayed to rest him a
while, and to provide for his departure, but having neither linen nor
clothes, I supplied him with some I had; I also afforded some linen to M.
Cavelier, his brother, and M. Moranget, his nephew. All I had was at their
service, and I deprived myself of all that was fit for them, even to ten
or twelve pounds of strings of beads, and some knives and nails, which M.
de la Salle took.
The Sieur Duhaut, having several effects, as linen, hatchets, and
other tools and commodities, which had been saved from the shipwreck, M.
de la Salle took linen to make shirts, for such as wanted, as also the
tools they stood in need of. The clothes belonging to MM. Thibault, Le
Gros, and Carpentier, who were dead, were also distributed. A great belt
I had, served to make shoes for M. de la Salle and M. Cavelier.
All things being thus provided, M. de la Salle took twenty men along
with him, among whom were M. Cavelier, his brother, F.
Anastasius, a Recollet, M. Moranget, his nephew, the Sieurs Biborel, Le
Clerk, Hurier, Duhaut, the younger, Hiens, his surgeon, and his servants.
He left behind those who were not fit to undertake that second journey,
among whom were little M. Cavelier, his nephew, the Sieur Barbier,
Canadien, and some others. Each of the travellers made up his pack, and
they set out towards the latter end of April, 1686, after having given me
the necessary orders, and we parted without ceremony, M. de la Salle
desiring it should be so.
Some days after he was gone, I heard a voice towards the lower part
of the river, crying twice qui vive, or who are you for. I made that way,
and perceived the Sieur Chedeville, a priest, the Sieur de la Sablonniere,
and some others of those who had been put aboard the bark La Belle, and
were now in a canoe. I asked abruptly what was become of the bark, and
was informed, our continual misfortunes still pursuing us, that it had run
aground on the other side of the bay. I caused the canoe to be unloaded,
there being in it, among other things, M. de la Salle’s clothes, part of
his papers, some linen, a small quantity of beads, and thirty or forty
pounds of meal, which was all they had left.
The next day, M. de Chedeville told me the particulars of that
misfortune, and said, that having been some time with the bark, in the
place where M. de la Salle had appointed them to wait, their water falling
short, they had thought fit to send the boat ashore, with four or five
casks to fill; that the Sieur Planterose went in it with six of the best
men. That towards evening they saw the boat coming back, but the wind
being contrary and night coming on, they put out a light, which going out
and the captain neglecting to put up another, in all likelihood the boat
could not see the bark, and they never heard of it after, nor of any of
those in it, who, it was probable, had all perished.
That nevertheless, they continued some days in the same place, during
which time three or four of their men died; and at last, having no water,
they eat up their swine, before they died with thirst, and resolved to
weigh anchor and draw near to the dwelling; but having few hands and those
spent, and to add to their misfortune the wind proving contrary, they were
driven to the other side of the bay, where they run aground.
That having no boat, nor men enough to land their effects, they had
endeavored to make a float with some casks and planks, but that being ill
made and joined together, the first that went upon it had perished. That
having made another float better fastened together
than the first, they had by that means saved some sails and rigging,
several inconsiderable things, linen, clothes and papers belonging to M.
de la Salle and others, and then stayed ashore, expecting to hear some
news, and had found a canoe, being the same that was before lost on the
edge of the bay, which had been driven to the other side; and that
provisions at last beginning to fall short, they went aboard the said
canoe and came to us; fortunate in that they had not been discovered by
the natives, during their stay ashore, which was for the space of three
months, and in finding the canoe to bring them back.
When M. de la Salle went away, the Sieur Barbier had taken upon him
to go a hunting, as also to provide bark to cover our houses, instead of
hides, because the sun drying and contracting them, part of the top of our
buildings was uncovered. I farther enjoined him to cut stakes, to make a
palisade about our dwelling, and the Sieur Chedeville having told me they
had buried several things they could not bring away, I sent the Sieur
Barbier with two canoes and fifteen men to the place, where they found
some pedreroes, rigging and sails. The natives having discovered the
concealment, had taken away some pieces of linen and iron tools, which
they very much covet.
The Sieur Barbier after his return, continuing his exercise of
hunting, happened to meet with a parcel of the natives, some of whom had
firelocks, which they had taken from our men, and with which they made
some shots at him, but very weak; and he firing three or four shot at
them, they retired. He was then in a canoe on the river, and designed to
have gone upwards; but that rencontre having obliged him to take another
way, and the savages perceiving it, eight of them swam over the river,
hastening to get before the canoe, hid themselves among the weeds, near
the way he was to pass, and when he was near enough, let fly their arrows,
which wounded several men. One shot the Sieur Barbier made, put them all
to flight again; he held on his way and returned to our habitation.
Some days after, we perceived a herd of bullocks flying, and guessed
they were pursued by the savages, which afterwards appeared to be true.
Some of them drew near to our habitation, but a cannon shot I pointed
towards the gang of them, and a musket-shot M. Barbier fired at the
nearest, made them all fly farther off.
When the Sieur Barbier went out a hunting, I commonly sent with him
some women and maids, to help the hunters to dress and
dry the flesh; but being informed that he used to slip aside from the
company, with a young maid he had a kindness for, and which gave occasion
to some well- grounded railleries, the said Barbier being told I was
acquainted with that affair, came and spoke to me in private, desiring
leave to marry that young woman. I made some difficulty of it at first,
advising him to stay till M. de la Salle returned; but at last,
considering they might have anticipated upon matrimony, I took the advice
of the Recollet Fathers, and of M. Chedeville, the priest, and allowed
them to marry. M. le Marquis de la Sablonniere following this example,
asked the same liberty, being in love with a young maid, which I
absolutely refused, and forbid them seeing one another.
Some time passed in which nothing happened to us worth observing;
however, I will mention two things which befel our Recollet Fathers. One
was, that Father Anastasius, being a hunting bullocks with me, and coming
too near one I had shot, and was fallen, the beast, as much hurt as he
was, started up, attacked and threw him down; he had much ado to get off,
and I to rescue him, because I durst not shoot for fear of killing him.
The bullock being weak, fell again; the Father was delivered, but lay ill
some months. The other was, that Father Maximus had written some memoirs
concerning M. de la Salle’s conduct, condemning him upon several
occasions. I was told of it, found means to get those memoirs, threw them
into the fire, and so the Father came off.
About the same time, most of our men seeing M. de la Salle did not
return, began to mutter. The Sieur Duhaut, who, perhaps, had been the
first fomenter of those discontents, backed the complaints of the
disgusted party, promised them great matters under his conduct, and
offered to supply them with such effects as he had in possession,
endeavoring, as I suppose, by those means to gain their affections, for a
mischievous design, which it is likely he had even then conceived.
It was not long before I had intimation of the whole affair, and I
had done M. de la Salle a singular piece of service, had I then put to
death the person who was to be his murderer; but I rested satisfied with
giving him a severe reprimand, and threatening to cause him to be secured
if he persisted, being able to do no other under my circumstances.
However, I talked to all concerned, and put them in such hopes of M. de la
Salle’s return, and that things would soon change to their satisfaction,
that they were all pacified.
But in regard that idleness often occasions uneasiness and
I used all possible means to keep them employed in the most obliging
manner I could, setting some to cut down the bushes about our dwelling,
others to hew down trees that hindered the prospect, others to mow the
grass that fresh might grow up for our cattle; and at night I made them
divert themselves with dancing and singing.
Whilst we thus passed away the time the best we could, M. de la Salle
had penetrated very far up into the country, inclining towards the
northern part of Mexico. He had travelled through several nations, the
inhabitants whereof were, for the most part, sociable, and had concluded a
sort of alliance with them, and particularly with the Cenis and others
whose names I shall mention. He had discovered charming countries
abounding in all things that could be wished, as well for sustenance as
for making of easy settlements, and after he and his nephew Moranget had
escaped two dangerous sicknesses, he returned to our habitation with five
horses he had purchased, and arrived at it in August, 1686.
Hearing of his voice, I was one of the first that ran towards the
river. We took our canoes to bring him, his luggage and some provisions
over, and the horses swam. We were extraordinary glad to see our
commander-in-chief return safe, though his journey had not advanced his
design. M. de la Salle had not found out his river, nor been towards the
Illinois as we had hoped. Only eight men returned with him of twenty he
carried out, and all the visible advantage of that journey consisted in
five horses, laden with Indian wheat, beans and some other grain, which
was put into the store.
M. de la Salle asked me, as soon as he came, whether the Sieurs
Clerc, Hurie, Duhaut the younger and two others, were come, because they
not being able to endure the fatigue of the journey, he had given them
leave to return, and hearing they were not, he concluded the savages had
killed them. We were also informed that the Sieur Biborel had strayed and
was lost, so that there had been no news of him since; that one of M. de
la Salle’s servants had been dragged down to the bottom of the water and
devoured by an alligator, and that four others had deserted and abandoned
M. de la Salle, when he was about the country of the Cenis.
This was a very dismal and deplorable account; but the even temper of
our chief made all men easy, and he found, by his great vivacity of
spirit, expedients which revived the lowest ebb of hope. He rejoiced at
the return and sight of M. Chedeville; he was pleased at the recovering of
his clothes and part of his papers; and after some time of rest, he
proposed to undertake a journey towards the
Illinois, and to make it the main business, by the way, to find the
Mississippi; but it was thought proper to let the great heats pass before
that enterprise was taken in hand.
In the mean time he gave orders to stake about a place to make a new
magazine, or storehouse. He put to that use the timber I had caused to be
cut, and would have more provided for the same use. Detachments being sent
to work, seven or eight of our men, who were sent with the Sieur Barbier,
were discovered by the savages, who being superior in number, made as if
they would hem them in; but each of our men having taken a tree upon their
shoulders and fired their pieces, which made one of the natives drop, the
others took him up and withdrew. Yet it was not long before they were
revenged, for they killed us two men, one of them close by our dwelling,
and the other, who had separated from the rest of the company to gather
purslain, and could not be relieved.
There being every day some discourse of the journey to the Illinois,
M. de la Salle asked me one day whether I would make one of the company,
and go by the way of Canada to France for succors. I assured him I was
entirely devoted to his will, and would faithfully attend him. Then he
began by degrees to provide what he thought necessary for that expedition.
I had two pair of sheets which he took to make him linen. Canvas clothes
were made of the sails of the bark La Belle. The Sieur Duhaut having
linen, he took some to distribute among several persons. Thus he hasted
on the execution of his design, but an accident put it off.
It was occasioned by a flux which troubled M. de la Salle, who,
having told me he could not perform that journey as long as he continued
in such condition, I offered to undertake it for him, if he would allow me
his Indian, and about fifteen men; but he answered, that his presence was
requisite among the Illinois, and that it was requisite his brother should
go to France. Thus he refused my offer, and could not shun the ill fate
of that journey.
We spent some time longer after this manner, during which there arose
a controversy about the privileges the King grants to the first-born of
the French colonies in America. The Sieur Barbier’s wife was with child,
and he claimed the privilege granted for that child. The widow Talon had
a child born in the passage from France to America, and alleged that her
child, though born before our arrival, ought to be preferred; but the
Sieur Barbier’s wife miscarrying, the dispute was not decided.
M. de la Salle being recovered of his indisposition, preparations
were again made for his journey; but we first kept the Christmas holidays.
The midnight mass was solemnly sung, and on twelfth day, we cried,
the king drinks (according to the custom of France), though we had only
water; when that was over we began to think of setting out. M. de la
Salle gave the command of the settlement to the Sieur Barbier, directing
him what he was to do and observe in his absence.
There remained in that habitation, the Fathers Maximus and Zenobius,
Recollets, M. Chedeville the priest, the Marquis de la Sablonniere, the
Sieur Barbier, commander, his wife, a surgeon and others, to the number of
twenty, among whom were seven women or maids, and only the Sieur Barbier
married; which is much short of the number some have given out remained in
the dwelling, without any ground; for the truth is, there were no more,
and particularly no natives, M. de la Salle having absolutely forbidden
holding any communication with them. As for beasts they amounted to
seventy, or seventy-five swine, great and small, which was a good stock;
for fowl, eighteen or twenty hens; some casks of meal, which was kept for
the sick; powder, ball, and eight pieces of cannon, without any bullets.
We set out the 12th of January, in the year 1687, being seventeen in
number, viz. M. de la Salle, M. Cavelier, the priest, his brother, Father
Anastasius, the Recollet, MM. Moranget and Cavelier, nephews to M. de la
Salle, the Sieurs Dehaut, the elder, L’Arcleveque, Hiens, Liotot, surgeon,
young Talon, an Indian, and a footman belonging to M. de la Salle, &c. We
carried along with us part of the best things every man had, and what was
thought would be of use, wherewith the five horses were loaded, and we
took our leaves with so much tenderness and sorrow, as if we had all
presaged that we should never see each other more. Father Zenobius was
the person who expressed it to me most significantly, saying, he had never
been so sensibly touched at parting with anybody.
The Gulf Coast in 1683.
By Vincent de Ginville.
We went that day to the place we called Le Boucon, because there we
had often dried flesh (which the French call boucanner from the Indian
word). This place was not far from our habitation. The l3th we crossed a
plain, about two leagues over, where we saw several herds of beeves and
flocks of goats, turkeys, bustards, and other sorts of wild fowl. We met
with marshy lands, which tired our horses, and came to a wood that
terminates the plain, across which runs a branch of a river full of reeds,
by M. de la Salle called the
Princess’s river. That branch joins the other, and they both fell
together into the bay of St. Louis.
We killed five beeves at the entrance into the wood, forded the
river, and encamped half a league beyond it, whence M. de la Salle sent
men with the horses to bring the flesh of the bullocks we had killed; the
hides of them, which served to cover us, being very useful against a
violent shower of rain that fell.
The 14th, the rain ceasing, we travelled over another spacious plain,
where there is a multitude of beeves and wild fowl. We saw several
tracks, leading every way, made by the bullocks, of which we saw several
herds, some moving on hastily, and others running outright, which made us
suppose they were driven by the natives. In short, having halted to help
up one of our horses that had fallen, we saw an Indian following them very
close. M. de la Salle caused a horse to be immediately unloaded, which a
man mounted, rode after, overtook, and brought the Indian.
When the savage saw himself among us, he concluded he was a lost man;
he quaked for fear, and not without reason, for most of our men had
resolved to kill him; M. de la Salle opposed it, alleging that we were but
a small number, that very few were left behind at the habitation, and
therefore we ought not to render ourselves odious to the natives, but to
use them kindly, that we might have peace; an infallible maxim, the
practice of which might have been fortunate to him, had he followed it
The Gulf Coast in 1683.
By Vincent de Ginville.
He therefore caused a fire to be made, gave him to eat and smoke, and
afterwards a bit of roll-tobacco, and some other trifles. M. de la Salle
gave him to understand that he came not to hurt any man, but to settle
peace in all places, and so dismissed him. The Indian recovered himself a
little of his fright, but being still dubious what his fate might be, he
at first walked away gently, still looking about him, and when at a good
distance made off as fast as he could. We held on our way, and soon after
saw another Indian running after the bullocks. M. de la Salle caused him
to be taken, brought to us, and treated as the first had been.
We had not gone far before we spied a company of natives coming
towards us, on our left, but we held on our way till they were over
against us, when M. de la Salle caused us to halt. The savages seeing us
halt, stood still also, which M. de la Salle perceiving, he laid his
firelock on the ground, and advanced towards them, making signs to him
that commanded them, who was a handsome man, to draw near. That Indian
came forward, and was followed by the
rest, all of them caressing us after their manner, which we returned the
best we were able, and then made them smoke.
Next M. de la Salle gave them to understand, that we were going
towards the Cenis, that we desired to be at peace with them all, and that
we would return to our own country, whence we would bring them all they
had occasion for. Then we distributed among them some bits of
roll-tobacco, some strings of beads, and knives, which they seemed to be
pleased with, and all this was done by signs. Then every man went his own
way. We advanced half a league farther, to get into a wood, where M. de
la Salle had encamped when he went that way before; we cut down trees to
secure our post, and lay there that night.
Before our entrenchment was finished, we discovered, first one
Indian, then two, and afterwards three, coming one after another; which
giving M. de la Salle some jealousy, he caused us to handle our arms, with
orders to stand upon our guard, for fear of being surprised, and went
towards them. They signified to him, that their people had told them we
did not hurt anybody, which was very well, and that they were come to see
us. They were entertained as the others had been, and then signs were
made to them to withdraw, because night drew on, and having observed that
they took notice of our fortifying ourselves, we kept a good guard all the
night, without any disturbance.
The 15th, we marched on, intending to find out a ford, in the river
called the Princess, where M. de la Salle had passed before; but missing
it, and the river being swollen, we were obliged to go up higher,
sometimes crossing curious meadows, and sometimes woods of tall trees of
several sorts, but all young, of the same thickness, and straight, looking
as if they had been planted by a line. The river running through the
midst of those curious shady groves, which were also watered by several
little brooks of very clear and good water, afforded a most delightful
We also met with some woods so thick, that it was requisite to hew a
passage for the horses. Towards the evening we killed a bullock, and went
to encamp in a little coppice, with our usual precautions.
The 16th, we continued our journey, still following the river
upwards, and from time to time meeting the same sort of pasture grounds
and the obstacles of woods, where we were fain to cut our way through,
which fatigued us very much; but the plenty of wild fowl, and particularly
of turkeys, whereof we killed many, was an
ease to our sufferings, and help to bear our toil with more satisfaction.
The l7th was a very toilsome day’s journey, by reason of the woods
and rivulets we were to cross; after which we came to a little hill, on
which there were 2 or 300 cottages of the natives. Those huts were like
large ovens, consisting of long poles stuck in the earth in a circle, and
joining above to make the dome or round top. They had been dwellings of
the natives, who being gone, had carried away the hides that covered them,
and the mats which are used to hang the insides, and to make their beds
After a march of some hours, our Indian having found a herd of
beeves, we killed seven or eight, took the best of the meat, and held on
our way across a wood. We forded a branch of the river, and proceeded to
the bank of another, the bottom whereof being foul, we encamped on the
edge of it, and the rain falling at night and continuing all the next day,
were obliged to stay there.
The 19th, the rain ceasing, we proceeded through a thick fog, and
over places where the water was often up to our knees, and sometimes
higher; which, together with our being forced to cut the way athwart the
bushes, with our hatchets, gave us inexpressible trouble, and it had been
much greater, had we not resolved to follow the ways beaten by the
bullocks, whom a natural instinct always leads to those parts which are
easiest to pass.
We were not free from another inconveniency in those tracts; which
was their being full of water and very rugged, a thing no way agreeable to
our shoes, which were no other than a piece of bullock’s hide or goat’s
skin quite green, whereof we made a sort of buskins, to serve instead of
shoes, but when those wretched boots were dried by the heat, upon our
feet, they hurt us very much, and we were often obliged to set our feet in
the water, to soften those buskins. However, we marched all the day,
notwithstanding all those inconveniences, without finding a proper place
to encamp, and at last came to a river, whose high bank afforded us a spot
to rest on.
The 20th, a small rain did not obstruct our march, and having crossed
a wood, half a league athwart, and a marsh of the same extent, we came
into a large plain, cut across by great tracks of bullocks, which went
towards the river, and made us suppose there might be a ford. We followed
that way, but found the river so swollen, and its stream so rapid, that it
was impossible to cross it, but were obliged to halt upon its bank, whence
we went to hunt bullocks, whereof we had no want, nor of turkeys and other
The 21st, we proceeded up that river, and found a narrow deep place,
near which we hewed down a tree, making it fall so as to reach from the
one bank to the other, in the nature of a plank, and handed our baggage
from one to another over it. The horses swam over, and we encamped on the
other side, near a very beautiful plain.
Whilst we were hewing down some little wood to entrench ourselves, we
heard a voice, whereupon, handling our arms and going to the place where
we heard it, we saw a company of fifteen savages, who were coming towards
us, and made signs to us to go to them, laying down their bows, in token
of peace. We also made our sign to them to draw near; they did so, and
caressed us after their manner. We made them sit down and smoke, after
which M. de la Salle began to converse with them by signs, and by help of
some words of the language of the Cenis, which he was skilful in, he
understood that these were their neighbors and allies; that their village
was not far off, and that their nation was called Hebahamo. Some small
presents were given them, and they withdrew, promising to return the next
The 22d, our horses being spent and hurt, and we much tired, the day
was given to rest, and the natives did not fail to come, being twenty-five
in number, some of whom had bucklers or targets made of the strongest part
of the bullocks’ hides. They gave us to understand that they were engaged
in war towards the N.W., and told us they had seen men like us, who were
but ten days’ journey from that place. Other tokens they gave made us
suppose it was New Spain that they talked of.
M. de la Salle took several words of their language, which is very
different from that of the Cenis, and more difficult. As for their
customs, they are much alike. In fine, having shown us, that towards the
N.W. we should meet with plains, where the way would be easier, and we
should shun the woods, we gave them to eat, and some presents, and they
took leave of us. A rain falling and holding all the night, we did not
march the 24th. The 25th, we travelled not far, by reason of the rains
continuing, and that there were several rivers in the way much swollen.
The 26th, we proceeded on our journey, and came to the river called
La Sablonniere, from the many sand banks there are in it. The 27th,
departing from it, we came to another little narrow river, but very deep;
going up higher we found a ford, and went to encamp beyond it, in a little
wood, where we had a very bad night, because of the rain which fell again,
and the overflowing of the
river, which obliged us to make a little sort of scaffold, to lay our
powder and clothes on, that they might not be wet. The next day being the
28th, observing that the water was still rising, we decamped to go a
league farther, to a higher ground, where we made a great fire to warm and
We took notice the country was very good, the plains extending as far
as the eye could reach, and adorned with many little coppices, affording a
very agreeable prospect. We marched over part of them the 29th and 30th;
after three hours’ travel, found a way full of water, which obliged us to
encamp on the bank of a river; passed it the 31st, and encamped in a wood
The next day, being the first of February, 1687, M. de la Salle left
me to guard the camp, and took along with him M. Cavelier, his brother,
and seven men, to go see whether he could find anybody in several cottages
our hunters had discovered. He found twenty-four or twenty-five of them,
built round like those I have before mentioned, standing on a rising
ground, almost encompassed by the river, in each of which there were four
or five men, and several women and children.
The savages were somewhat surprised at M. de la Salle’s coming;
however, they received him in a friendly manner, and conducted him to
their commander’s hut, which was immediately filled with people, who came
to see him. The elders came together there, bullocks’ hides were laid
upon the ground, on which they made M. de la Salle and his company sit.
They gave them hung beef to eat, and then signified to them that some of
their allies had given them notice of our being in this country, and that
we were going to the Cenis, and they had imagined that we would pass
through their country.
M. de la Salle presented them with some knives and bits of tobacco,
and they gave him bullocks’ hides, very well dressed with the hair; they
gave one for a knife, and would have given many more, but that we told
them that we had no conveniency to carry them, and that if they had any
horses, he would give them axes in exchange. They answered, they had but
two, which they could not part with. It being late when M. de la Salle
returned, we stayed there the rest of the day, and several Indians came to
see us, in hopes of receiving some present, offering us bullocks’ hides
dressed, which we would not burden ourselves with.
The second, we set out again, and halted some time in that village,
where, by the way, we bartered for some collars, or a sort of knots made
of bullocks’ hides well dressed, which the natives make use of
to carry their burdens, whether of wood, utensils, or the meat they kill.
They proved of use both to us and our horses, because the thongs of those
collars served to make fast our burdens.
We proceeded on our journey, through a country pleasant enough, but
sandy, and having crossed a large plain, came to the bank of a fine river,
called La Maligne, or the Mischievous, because in M. de la Salle’s former
journey, an alligator devoured one of his servants, who was swimming over
it. This river is as wide as the Seine at Rouen, seems to be very
navigable, and has a very pleasant country about it. We encamped in a
little wood adjoining to it, and barked the aspen trees to hut.
Our hunters killed beeves, wild goats, turkeys, and other wild-fowl;
and among the rest, some creatures as big as an indifferent cat, very like
a rat, having a bag under their throat, in which they carry their young.
They feed upon nuts and acorns, are very fat, and their flesh is much like
Hard by there, we found a place where M. de la Salle, in his former
journey, had hid some parcels of strings of beads in the trunks of trees,
and we rested there till the eighth of the month. During that time, no day
passed without seeing some of the natives, who sometimes spent the whole
day with us, and said they were of several nations. We made them smoke,
and always gave them some small presents. They admired that after we had
written down some words they spoke to us, we repeated them, looking on the
Whilst we stayed, M. de la Salle set men at work to make a portable
canoe, of long poles, hewed and joined, and then covered with bullocks’
hides sewed together, having pulled off the hair or wool, as it may be
called there. That canoe was of great use to us, to cross rivers, as well
for ourselves as for our baggage, but the horses swam over.
The ninth, we put our canoe into the water, and passed the river in
it, and encamped half a league from thence, on account of the grass, which
our horses stood in need of to recover themselves a little. The tenth, we
held on our journey, crossing several spacious plains, the grass whereof
was burnt, whence M. de la Salle concluded that there were many natives
thereabouts. He thought it convenient to provide a store of dried flesh,
for fear we should not find game in the country we were going to enter
upon, and accordingly caused several beeves to be killed for that purpose.
For that reason, we continued there till the 12th, when we went
and encamped on the bank of a river, which M. de la Salle had in his
former journey called d’Eure. At night there arose a storm, followed by
thunder and rain, which swelled the streams, and obliged us to stay there.
The 13th and 14th, we crossed four or five large rivulets, and then a fine
curious country, diversified with several little woods, hills, and small
brooks, affording a delightful prospect. That pleasant country was
terminated by a wood, which we were to cross, and were favored in it by a
way beaten by the bullocks, and at night we encamped there.
The 15th, we travelled along a fine meadow, then over plains that had
been burnt, and at night went to take our rest on the bank of a small
rivulet, about which we saw several footsteps of natives, which made us
conclude we were not far from them; and therefore we doubled our guard, to
prevent being surprised.
The 16th, M. de la Salle left me at the guard of the camp, and took
M. Cavelier his brother, and seven men with him, to go find out the
Indians. They had not gone half a league before they spied horses and a
number of cottages, without being themselves seen by the savages. That
village stood on the side of a hill, and contained about forty huts,
standing together, besides several others straggling.
When M. de la Salle entered the village, the savages seeing him, came
to meet and conduct him to the cottage of their chief, where he and his
company were seated on bullocks’ hides. The elders being come, he
signified to them the occasion of his coming, as he had done the other
nations, with which they seemed to rest satisfied. Some presents were
made them, according to custom, and they offered him a quantity of hides,
which he refused, telling them, that when he returned from the Cenis he
would trade with, and furnish them with all they had occasion for. They
confirmed what the others had told us, concerning a nation, where some of
them had been, the men whereof were like us, meaning the Spaniards. He
named to them the nations we had passed through from our dwelling of St.
Louis, to the river Maligne, which we had lately passed. The names of
those nations are as follows:
The Spicheats, Kabayes, Thecamons, Theauremets, Kiahoba, Choumenes,
Kouans, Arhan, Enepiahe, Ahonerhopiheim, Korenkake, Korkone, Omeaoffe,
Keremen, Ahehoen, Maghai, Thecamenes, Otenmarhem, Kavagan and Meracouman.
These are the nations that lay on our road; those on the west and
north-west of the said river, were the Kannehonan, Tohaka, Pehir,
Coyabegux, Onapien, Pichar,
Tohan, Kiaffess, Chanzes, Tsera, Bocrettes, Tsepehoen, Fercouteha, Panego,
Petao, Petzares, Peisacho, Peihoum and Orcampion.
Those we were with then, were called Teao, whom we had not before
heard named. They talked of a great nation called Ayona and Canohatino,
who were at war with the Spaniards, from whom they stole horses, and told
us, that one hundred Spaniards were to have come to join the Cenis, to
carry on that war, but that having heard of our march, they went back. M.
de la Salle gave them to understand, that we were at war with the
Spaniards, and that we feared them not; and that he was sent on their
account by the great captain of the world, who had charged him to do them
all good, and to assist them in their wars against such nations as were
Those savages gave M. de la Salle notice, that he would find three of
our men among the Cenis, which put him in hopes they were those he had
given leave to depart at his former journey, and of whom he never since
heard. He proposed to them to barter for horses; but they had caused them
to be conveyed out of the way, for fear we should take them away,
excepting only one bay, which M. de la Salle agreed for and returned to
The 17th, we passed a small river, with some difficulty, and encamped
beyond it. The 18th, one of our horses going along the edge of an upright
bank, fell into the water, and came off with only a hurt on the shoulder;
but we were fain to unload him, and distribute his burden among us, every
one making a pack; and thus we crossed a curious plain diversified with
woods, hills, rivulets, and delightful meadows.
The 19th, we travelled along the tops of those hills, to avoid the
bottoms, and found a difficulty to get down, by reason of the rocks we met
with at the end of them, and a river we were to cross. Whilst we were
passing that river, we heard dogs hunting the bullocks, two of which
coming near us, one of them was shot dead. The natives who were hunting
spying us, sent out two of their number, who, creeping from tree to tree,
drew near, and then stood still, without daring to proceed any further.
We made signs to them to come, which they did, and we made them smoke till
M. de la Salle returned, being gone a little way to observe the body of
When come, he told them he would entertain peace with them, that we
were going to the Cenis, and he believed that these very men were of their
nation, because they had their accent and some of their words. They told
him their village was near that place,
and bore us company to our camp, where, after some small presents given
them, they were dismissed.
The 20th, M. de la Salle sent M. Moranget and some others to the
village of those natives, to try whether they could barter with them for
some horses. In the meantime two savages came to us, one of them being
the same that was with us the night before, and they expressed much
friendship for us. That particular Indian told us his name was
Palaquechaune, that they were allies to the Cenis, that their chief had
been among the Choumans with the Spaniards; that the Choumans were friends
to the Spaniards, from whom they got horses, and added some farther
particulars, which the others had before signified to us; so that we had
good reason to judge we were not far from North Mexico.
He also told us, that the Choumans had given their chief some
presents to persuade him to conduct us to them; that most of the said
nation had flat heads; that they had Indian corn, which gave M. de la
Salle ground to believe, that those people were some of the same he had
seen upon his first discovery. That same native had a very fine goat’s
skin, which I purchased of him for four needles, after I had shown him how
to use them, and that skin was of good use to make us shoes instead of raw
Some time after M. Moranget returned, gave M. de la Salle an account
of his short journey, and said that one of the natives, who saw us the
night before, came to meet and conduct him to the chief’s cottage, where
forty ancient Indians were, by whom he had been kindly received; that the
chief had in his hand a reed, at the end whereof was made fast a leaf of a
French book, which he had an extraordinary respect for; that they had been
made to sit on bullocks’ hides, and treated with dried beef.
That after these first ceremonies, the chief had given them to
understand that some of their people had been conducted, by a man like us,
to our habitation, and that the said man had promised to bring them to
talk with us, in order to treat of peace; but that, on the contrary, we
had fired on them and killed one of their men, which had obliged them to
kill the man that led them, and that then they returned. It is not
improper here to put the reader in mind, that I have before mentioned this
accident, when the Sieur Barbier, crossing the river in a canoe, was
called upon by some person, who was among the natives on the bank of the
river, who had made two shots, as it had been only the priming of a piece,
which the Sieur Barbier had looked upon as an insult, and therefore he had
fired, with all the other particulars, as mentioned before; an accident
that happened for want of understanding one another; which, together with
M. de la Salle’s forbidding us to have any communication with the natives,
was very prejudicial to us afterwards.
After much other discourse, M. Moranget having given them some small
presents, they made their return in bullocks’ hides, and goats’ skins well
dressed. He asked them for some horses to barter; they answered, they had
no more than what they stood in need of. We immediately proceeded on our
journey, and that day being the 21st, went to encamp at the edge of a
The 22d, we went up to an eminence, terminated by a rock, at the foot
whereof ran a little river, the bottom whereof was all of flat rocks, fit
for building. Thence we descried two natives driving of bullocks, which
made us stand upon our guard, and it appeared to be our Indian, who had
met another, with whom he had been acquainted among the Cenis, and whom he
had brought along with him.
M. de la Salle was very glad to see him, and remembered he was one of
those of whom he had purchased a horse. He asked several questions of
him, and among the rest, whether he had not seen the four men who deserted
in his former journey, or heard any talk of the others, to whom he had
given leave to return to our dwelling. He answered, he had seen one among
the Cenis, and two others among the Assonis; but that he had not heard of
any more, and that they must needs be dead; as also the Sieur Biborel, who
was likewise mentioned to him.
He further told us that there were four or five cottages thereabouts,
in which about fifteen men resided. At night he went away. Our Indian had
killed a cow at a great distance, and shot her quite through, at which the
other, who had been an eyewitness to it, stood a long time amazed, without
speaking one word, admiring the effect of our pieces. That cow was sent
for, and the flesh brought to our camp.
The 23d, we passed by the cottages we had been told of, where the
natives were with their wives and children. M. de la Salle caused us to
halt in the village. We were well received; they presented us with dried
beef, and we returned it in some knives. We saw two horses, one of them a
little grey, indifferent handsome. They told us they would soon depart
that place, to go join their companions, who were in war with their
enemies. The rest of our men being come up, we went on to encamp a league
on the bank of a rivulet, and at the foot of one of the highest mountains
in the country.
Unloading our horses, we perceived there wanted a large axe, which
served us for hewing down trees. M. de la Salle sent his Indian to demand
it, at the village we came from last; the savages said they had not seen
it, and it was lost. He brought back word that the savages had told him
that if we would stay for them, they would go along with, and show us the
Louisiana in 1687.
By Jean Baptiste Louis Franquelin.
However, we went on the 24th, and encamped on the edge of a marsh.
The 25th, the rain hindered us from marching. The 26th, M. de la Salle
perceiving how difficult and dangerous it was to cross that marsh, sent
his Indian to the others, to know whether they really designed to go with
us. They answered, we must return thither to join them. The 27th, we
decamped, in order to it; but took another way to go meet the Indians.
The 28th, we saw them marching at a distance. One of them was detached to
come tell us, that he would show us the way to cross the marsh, and we
went on and encamped at the foot of the high mountain I have spoken of.
The 1st of March we joined the Indians, on the edge of the marsh,
which we had just crossed, where the rains kept us till the 5th, during
which time we went to find out where we might pass a rapid torrent that
discharges itself into the river, called Canoes, which we passed the 6th,
in the canoe we had made, and which did us good service, to pass other
rivers we met with, the 7th and the 8th, on our way.
The 9th, we did not stir, because of the rain. The 10th, encamped on
the bank of a small river, which we crossed the 11th, and the same day
another, and encamped on the bank of it, and found it adorned with very
fine mulberry trees. The 12th, we crossed another river, and encamped
near it. The 13th, came again to the river of Canoes, so called by M. de
la Salle, because he the first time put canoes into it, at his former
journey. We passed it the 14th, and encamped on the other side, where we
again joined the Indians.
The 15th, we held on our journey with them, and found a pleasanter
country than that we had passed through; and M. de la Salle having, in his
former journey, hid some Indian wheat and beans, two or three leagues from
that place, and our provisions beginning to fall short, it was thought fit
to go to that place. Accordingly he ordered the Sieurs Duhaut, Hiens,
Liotot, the surgeon, his own Indian, and his footman, whose name was
Saget, who were followed
by some natives, to go to the place he described to them, where they found
all rotten, and quite spoilt.
The 16th, in their return, they met with two bullocks, which M. de la
Salle’s Indian killed, whereupon they sent back his footman, to give him
notice of what they had killed, that if he would have the flesh dried he
might send horses for it. The 17th, M. de la Salle had the horses taken
up, and ordered the Sieurs Moranget and De Male, and his footman, to go
for that meat, and send back a horseload immediately, till the rest was
M. Moranget, when he came thither, found they had smoked both the
beeves, though they were not dry enough; and the said Sieurs Liotot,
Hiens, Duhaut, and the rest, had laid aside the marrow-bones and others to
roast them, and eat the flesh that remained on them, as was usual to do.
The Sieur Moranget found fault with it; he in a passion seized not only
the flesh that was smoked and dried, but also the bones, without giving
them anything; but, on the contrary, threatening they should not eat so
much of it, as they had imagined, and that he would manage that flesh
after another manner.
This passionate behavior, so much out of season, and contrary to
reason and custom, touched the Surgeon Liotot, Heins, and Duhaut, to the
quick, they having other causes of complaint against Moranget. They
withdrew, and resolved together upon a bloody revenge; they agreed upon
the manner of it, and concluded they would murder the Sieur Moranget, M.
de la Salle’s footman, and his Indian, because he was very faithful to
They waited till night, when those unfortunate creatures had supped
and were asleep. Liotot, the surgeon, was the inhuman executioner; he took
an axe, and began by the Sieur Moranget, giving him many strokes on the
head; the same he did by the footman and the Indian, killing them on the
spot, whilst his fellow villains, viz., Duhaut, Hiens, Teissier, and
Larchevaque, stood upon their guard, with their arms, to fire upon such as
should make any resistance. The Indian and the footman never stirred, but
the Sieur Moranget had so much vigor as to sit up, but without being able
to speak one word; and the assassins obliged the Sieur de Marle to make an
end of him, though he was not in the conspiracy.
This slaughter had yet satisfied but one part of the revenge of those
murderers. To finish it, and secure themselves, it was requisite to
destroy the commander-in-chief. They consulted about the safest method to
effect it, and resolved to go together to M. de la Salle, to knock out the
brains of the most resolute immediately, and then it
would be easier to overcome the rest. But the river, which was between
them and us, being much swollen, the difficulty of passing it made them
put it off the 18th and 19th. On the other hand, M. de la Salle was very
uneasy, on account of their long stay. His impatience made him resolve to
go himself to find out his people, and to know the cause of it.
This was not done without many previous tokens of concern and
apprehension. He seemed to have some presage of his misfortune, inquiring
of some, whether the Sieur Liotot, Hiens, and Duhaut, had not expressed
some discontent; and not hearing anything of it, he could not forbear
setting out the 20th, with Father Anastasius and an Indian, leaving me the
command in his absence, and charging me from time to time to go the rounds
about our camp, to prevent being surprised, and to make a smoke for him to
direct his way in case of need. When he came near the dwelling of the
murderers, looking out sharp to discover something, he observed eagles
fluttering about a spot not far from them, which made him believe they had
found some carrion about the mansion, and he fired a shot, which was the
signal of his death, and forwarded it.
The conspirators hearing the shot, concluded it was M. de la Salle,
who was come to seek them. They made ready their arms, and provided to
surprise him. Duhaut passed the river, with Larcheveque. The first of
them spying M. de la Salle at a distance, as he was coming towards them,
advanced and hid themselves among the high weeds, to wait his passing by,
so that M. de la Salle, suspecting nothing, and having not so much as
charged his piece again, saw the aforesaid Larcheveque at a good distance
from him, and immediately asked for his nephew Moranget, to which
Larcheveque answered, that he was along the river. At the same time the
traitor Duhaut fired his piece and shot M. de la Salle through the head,
so that he dropped down dead on the spot, without speaking one word.
la Salle’s Death.
Father Anastasius, who was then by his side, stood stock still in a
fright, expecting the same fate, and not knowing whether he should go
forwards or backwards; but the murderer Duhaut put him out of that dread,
bidding him not to fear, for no hurt was intended him; that it was despair
that had prevailed with him to do what he saw; that he had long desired to
be revenged on Moranget, because he had designed to ruin him, and that he
was partly the occasion of his uncle’s death. This is the exact relation
of that murder, as it was presently after told me by Father Anastasius.
Such was the unfortunate end of M. de la Salle’s life, at a time when
he might entertain the greatest hopes, as the reward of his labors. He
had a capacity and talent to make his enterprise successful; his constancy
and courage, and his extraordinary knowledge in arts and sciences, which
rendered him fit for anything, together with an indefatigable body, which
made him surmount all difficulties, would have procured a glorious issue
to his undertaking, had not all those excellent qualities been
counterbalanced by too haughty a behavior, which sometimes made him
insupportable, and by a rigidness towards those that were under his
command, which at last drew on him implacable hatred, and was the occasion
of his death.
The shot which had killed M. de la Salle was also a signal of the
murder to the assassins for them to draw near. They all repaired to the
place where the wretched dead corpse lay, which they barbarously stripped
to the shirt, and vented their malice in vile and opprobrious language.
The surgeon, Liotot, said several times in scorn and derision, “There thou
liest, great bassa, there thou liest.” In conclusion, they dragged it
naked among the bushes, and left it exposed to the ravenous wild beasts.
So far was it from what a certain author writes, of their having buried
him, and set up a cross on his grave.
When those murderers had satiated their rage, they set out to come to
us at our camp, with the dried flesh which they had caused to be brought
over the river by the Indians, who had been spectators of the murder, and
of all the inhuman actions that had been committed, with amazement and
contempt of us. When they were come to the camp they found MM. Cavelier,
the one brother, the other nephew, to the murdered commander, whom Father
Anastasius acquainted with the dismal end of our chief, and enjoined them
silence, which it is easy to imagine was very hard upon them; but it was
However, M. Cavelier, the priest, could not forbear telling them,
that if they would do the same by him he would forgive them his murder,
and only desired them to give him a quarter of an hour to prepare himself.
They answered, they had nothing to say to him; that what they had done was
the effect of despair, to be revenged for the ill usage they had received.
I was absent at that time; he they called Larcheveque, who, as I have
said, was one of the conspirators, had some kindness for me, and knowing
they designed to make me away too, if I stood upon my defence, he parted
from them, to give me notice of their mischievous resolution. He found me
on a little rising ground, where I was looking upon our horses as they
grazed in a little adjacent bottom.
The Voyages of la Salle. 1688.
By Vincenzo Coronelli.
His intelligence struck me to the heart, not knowing whether I should fly
or stay; but at length, having neither powder, nor shot, nor arms, and the
said Larcheveque giving me assurances of my life, provided I was quiet and
said nothing, I committed myself to God’s protection, and went to them,
without taking any notice of what had been done.
Duhaut, puffed up with his new gotten authority, procured him by his
villainy, as soon as he saw me cried out, “Every man ought to command in
his turn;” to which I made no answer; and we were all of us obliged to
stifle our resentment, that it might not appear, for our lives depended on
it. However, it was easy to judge with what eyes Father Anastasius, MM.
Cavelier, and I, beheld these murderers, to whom we expected every moment
to fall sacrifices. It is true we dissembled so well that they were not
very suspicious of us, and that the temptation we were under of making
them away in revenge for those they had murdered would have easily
prevailed and been put in execution, had not M. Cavelier, the priest,
always positively opposed it, alleging that we ought to leave vengeance to
However, the murderers seized upon all the effects, without any
opposition, and then we began to talk of proceeding on our journey. We
decamped the 21st, with our Indians, and marched with such a heavy rain,
that we were obliged to halt on the bank of a great stream, where one of
the natives that had left us arrived with his wife. We went on the 22d
and 23d, and passed the river where Father Anastasius, M. Cavelier, and I,
who could not swim, had been drowned but that the natives assisted and
saved us. The 24th, we went on through a marshy country, never quitting a
small path which led to the village of the Cenis, till the 28th, when we
rested on the bank of a river of the same name, though about ten leagues
distant from the village.
We had hoped to ford that river, as M. de la Salle had done, when he
returned from that country; but it was so swollen that there was no doing
it, and we were forced to make a canoe of bullocks’ hides. Whilst we were
employed at that work, the Indians swam over and went to give notice to
the Cenis of our arrival.
We found the country pleasant enough about that river, though the
land did not seem to be any of the best; but still it was delightful to
the eye, well planted with fine trees of several sorts, among which is one
that M. de la Salle had named Copal, being very beautiful, the leaves of
it between those of the maple and the lime trees in resemblance, and from
it comes a gum of a very agreeable scent.
In the same place we saw a great tree, on which the late M. de la Salle
had caused crosses and the arms of France to be carved.
The hunting of bullocks had failed us, and we had seen none from the
place where our late leader had been murdered. Thus our provisions began
to fall short, and it was resolved on the 29th, to send some men before to
the village of the Cenis, to know whether they had any Indian corn, and
were willing to barter for it. I was appointed, with the surgeon Liotot,
the Tessieers, and Hiens, who was a buccaneer M. de la Salle had taken up
at Petit Gouave, to go with him upon this expedition. I was very
unwilling to undertake that journey with a murderer and two of his
companions, of whom I was suspicious; but it was very requisite to obey,
and Duhaut having all the effects in his possession, alleging that a great
part of them belonged to him, he gave us some axes and knives to barter
for Indian corn, as also for horses, if any were to be had, and
accordingly we passed the river.
We found the country made up of several little hills of an
indifferent height, on which there are abundance of walnut trees and oaks,
not so large as what we had seen before, but very agreeable. The weeds
which had been some time before burnt by the natives, began to spring up
again, and discovered large green fields very pleasing to the sight.
When we had travelled some time we discovered three men on horseback,
coming towards us from the village, and being come near them, saw one
dressed after the Spanish fashion, with a little doublet, the body whereof
was of blue, and the sleeves of white fustian, as it were embroidered,
with very straight breeches, white worsted stockings, woollen garters, a
broad-brimmed, flat- crowned hat, and long hair. We presently concluded
he was a Spaniard, and the rather because we had been told that some of
them were come to join in league with the Cenis against an enemy nation,
and we were at a nonplus; for if we fell into their hands we must never
expect to get away, but be condemned to serve either in the mines, or in
the quarries, in the kingdom of Mexico, for which reason we provided to
give the pretended Spaniard an unkind reception, and then to make the best
of our way back.
Being come up to him, I spoke some words of Spanish and Italian, to
which he returned no answer; but, on the contrary, made use of the word
coussica, which, in the language of the Cenis, signifies, I do not
understand you; which answer of his removed our apprehensions. The two
others were quite naked, one of them being mounted on a
fine grey mare, and on her were besides two panniers, handsomely made of
reeds, full of very fine meal parched, or roasted. After several
questions, to which we had no very satisfactory answers, we lighted fire
to make them smoke, and then they presented us with the two panniers full
of meal, giving us to understand that their chief expected us in the
village, and having signified that they were sent to meet us, we gave them
some knives and strings of beads.
We asked them whether they had any men among them like him that was a
horseback in the Spanish habit; they answered, there were two in a
neighboring nation, called Assony, and that he who was clad, had been in
their country, and brought thence the clothes we saw him wear. That man
then showed us a Spanish printed paper, containing the indulgences granted
to the missioners of New Mexico. After this they left us to go on, to our
people, for which reason I wrote a note, giving an account of our having
We alighted to eat, and let our horses graze on the bank of a
rivulet; but it was not long before the same natives, who had been with us
before, appeared again hard by us. We made signs to them to draw near and
eat with us; which they did, and then went along with us towards the
village, which we would not go into, because it was night. The Indian
that was clad, stayed all night with us, and the two others went away.
When it was day, we held on our way to the village; the Indian that
was with us conducting us to their chief’s cottage. By the way, we saw
many other cottages, and the elders coming to meet us in their
formalities, which consisted in some goats’ skins dressed and painted of
several colors, which they wore on their shoulders like belts, and plumes
of feathers of several colors, on their heads, like coronets. Six or
seven of them had square sword blades, like the Spanish, on the hilts
whereof they had fastened great plumes of feathers, and several hawk’s
bells; some of them had clubs, which they call head-breakers, some only
their bows and arrows; others, bits of white linen, reaching from shoulder
to shoulder. All their faces were daubed with black or red. There were
twelve elders who walked in the middle, and the youth and warriors in
ranks, on the sides of those old men.
Being come up to us in that manner, he that conducted us made a sign
for us to halt, which, when we had done, all the old men lifted up their
right hands above their heads, crying out in a most ridiculous manner; but
it behoved us to have a care of laughing. That done, they came and
embraced us, using all sorts of endearments.
Then they made us smoke, and brought to us a Frenchman of Provence, who
was one of those that had forsaken the late M. de la Salle, at his first
The whole company conducted us after the same manner, to their
chief’s cottage; and after we had stayed there a short time, they led us
to a larger cottage, a quarter of a league from thence, being the hut in
which they have their public rejoicings, and the great assemblies. We
found it furnished with mats for us to sit on. The elders seated
themselves round about us, and they brought us to eat some sagamite, which
is their pottage, little beans, bread made of Indian corn, and another
sort they make with boiled flour, and at last they made us smoke.
During our repast, they entertained us with the discourse of their
design to make war on a nation, who were their enemies, and whom they
called Cannokantimo. When it was over, we presented them, according to
custom, with some knives and strings of beads for their wives. We desired
them to afford us some Indian corn in exchange for other things, which
they promised, and the Frenchman who was with them, having told us that
there was a district which afforded more corn than that where we were, and
where his cottage was, we resolved to go thither. We proposed it to the
elders, who would needs go along with us, attended by a great number of
youth, and having got ready our horses, we set out for that place.
By the way, we saw several cottages at certain distances, straggling
up and down, as the ground happens to be fit for tillage. The field lies
about the cottage, and at other distances there are other large huts not
inhabited, but only serving for public assemblies, either upon occasion of
rejoicings, or to consult about peace and war.
The cottages that are inhabited, are not each of them for a private
family, for in some of them there are fifteen or twenty, each of which has
its nook or corner, bed and other utensils to itself; but without any
partition to separate it from the rest. However, they have nothing in
common besides the fire, which is in the midst of the hut, and never goes
out. It is made of great trees, the ends whereof are laid together, so
that when once lighted, it lasts a long time, and the first comer takes
care to keep it up.
The cottages are round at the top, after the manner of a bee-hive, or
a rick of hay. Some of them are sixty feet diameter. In order to build
them they plant trees as thick as a man’s thigh, tall and straight, and
placing them in a circle, and joining the tops together
from the dome or round top, then they lash and cover them with weeds.
When they remove their dwellings, they generally burn the cottages they
leave, and build new on the ground they design to inhabit.
Their moveables are some bullocks’ hides and goat skins well cured,
some mats close wove, wherewith they adorn their huts, and some earthen
vessels which they are very skilful at making, and wherein they boil their
flesh or roots, or sagamise, which, as has been said, is their pottage.
They have also some small baskets made of canes, serving to put in their
fruit and other provisions. Their beds are made of canes, raised two or
three feet above the ground, handsomely fitted with mats and bullocks’
hides, or goat skins well cured, which serve them for feather beds, or
quilts and blankets; and those beds are parted one from another by mats
When they design to till the ground, they give one another notice,
and very often above a hundred of each sex meet together. When they have
tilled that piece of land, after their manner, and spent part of the day,
those the land belongs to give the others to eat, and then they spend the
rest of the day in dancing and merry making. This same is practised [sic]
from canton to canton, and so they till the land all together.
This tillage consists in breaking up just the surface of the earth
with a sort of wooden instrument, like a little pickaxe, which they make
by splitting the end of a thick piece of wood, that serves for a handle,
and putting another piece of wood sharp pointed at one end into the slit.
This instrument serves them instead of a hoe, or spade, for they have no
iron tools. When the land has been thus tilled or broken up, the women
sow and plant the Indian corn, beans, pompions, water melons, and other
grain and garden ware, which is for their sustenance.
The Indians are generally handsome, but disfigure themselves by
making scores or streaks on their faces, from the top of the forehead down
the nose to the tip of the chin; which is done by pricking the skin with
needles, or other sharp instruments, till it bleeds, whereon they strew
fine powder of charcoal, and that sinks in and mixes with the blood within
the skin. They also make, after the same manner, the figures of living
creatures, of leaves and flowers on their shoulders, thighs, and other
parts of their bodies, and paint themselves, as has been said before, with
black or red, and sometimes both together.
The women are generally well shaped, and would not be disagreeable,
did they adhere to nature, but they disguise themselves as ridiculously
as the men, not only with the streak they have like them down their face,
but by other figures they make on it, at the corners of their eyes, and on
other parts of their bodies, whereof they make more particular show on
their bosom, and those who have the most, are reckoned the handsomest,
though that pricking in that part be extremely painful to them.
It is they that do all the work in the cottage, either in pounding
the Indian corn and baking the meal, or making the pottage of the said
meal, by them called sagamite, or in dressing their other provisions, or
drying, or parching, or smoking their flesh, fetching the wood they have
occasion for, or the flesh of bullocks, or other beasts killed by their
husbands in the woods, which are often at a great distance, and afterwards
dressing them, as has been said. They sow and plant, when the land has
been broken up, and, in short, do almost all that is requisite for the
support of life.
I did not observe that those women were naturally given to lewdness;
but their virtue is not proof against some of our toys, when presented
them, as needles, knives, and more particularly strings of beads, whereof
they make necklaces and bracelets, and that temptation is rarely resisted
by them, and the less, because they have no religion or law to prohibit
that vile practice. It is true their husbands, when they take them in the
fact, sometimes do punish them, either by separation or otherwise; but
that is rare.
The country of those Indians being generally subject to no cold,
almost all of them go naked; unless when the north wind blows, then they
cover themselves with a bullock’s hide, or goat’s skin cured. The women
wear nothing but a skin, mat, or clout, hanging round them like a
petticoat, and reaching down half way their legs, which hides their
nakedness before and behind. On their heads they have nothing but their
hair platted and knotted behind.
As for their manners, it may be said of these, as of all other
Indians of that great continent, that they are not mischievous, unless
wronged or attacked; in which case they are all fierce and revengeful.
They watch all opportunities to be revenged, and never let any slip, when
offered, which is the cause of their being continually at war with their
neighbors, and of that martial humor, so predominant among them.
As to the knowledge of a God, they did not seem to us to have any
fixed notion of him; it is true, we met with some on our way, who, as far
as we could judge, believed there was some superior Being, which was above
all things, and this they testified by lifting
up their hands and eyes to heaven, yet without any manner of concern, as
believing that the said exalted Being does not regard at all what is done
here below. However, none of them having any places of worship,
ceremonies or prayers, to denote the divine homage, it may be said of them
all, that they have no religion, at least those that we saw.
However, they observe some ceremonies; but whether they have any
regard to a real or pretended superior Being, or whether they are only
popular, and proceeding from custom, is what we were not able to discover.
Those ceremonies are as follow: When the corn is ripe, they gather a
certain quantity in a maund or basket, which is placed on a sort of seat
or stool, dedicated to that use, and serving only upon those mysterious
occasions, which they have a great veneration for.
The basket, with the corn, being placed on that honored stool, one of
the elders holds out his hands over it, and talks a long time; after
which, the said old man distributes the corn among the women, and no
person is allowed to eat of the new corn, till eight days after that
ceremony. This seems to be in the nature of offering up or blessing the
first fruits of their harvest.
At their assemblies, when the sagamite, or pottage, which is the most
essential part of their meal, is boiled in a great pot, they place that
pot on the stool of ceremony above mentioned, and one of the elders
stretches out his hands over it, muttering some words between his teeth
for a considerable time, after which, they fall to eating.
When the young folks are grown up to be fit to go to the wars, and
take upon them to be soldiers, their garment, consisting of some skin, or
clout, together with their bow, quiver and arrows, is placed on the
aforesaid stool; an old man stretching out his hands over them, mutters
the words as above, and then the garments, bows, quivers, and arrows are
given to the persons they belong to. This may be compared to something of
a ceremony of knighting among them. The same ceremonies are used by them
in the cultivation of their grain and product, but particularly of the
tobacco, whereof they have a sort which has smaller leaves than ours; it
is almost ever green, and they use it in leaves.
This is what we observed among the Cenis, whose customs and manners
differ very little from those of other nations, which we had seen before
and saw afterwards. As to the point of religion, it is not to be inferred
from what I have said above, that there is none throughout that vast
continent. The account I have given only regards
those nations we saw; there may be others that have some worship, and I
remember I have heard M. de la Salle say, that the nation called Takensa,
neighboring on the Illinois, adored the fire, and that they had cottages
which they made use of as temples.
Before I conclude this short account of the religion, customs, and
manners of the Cenis, which belonged properly to this place, it is fit
here also to observe, that the word nation is not to be understood, among
those Indians, to denote a people possessing a whole province, or vast
extent of land. Those nations are no other than a parcel of villages,
dispersed for the space of twenty or thirty leagues at most, which compose
a distinct people or nation; and they differ from one another rather in
language than in manners, wherein they are all much alike, or at least
they vary but little, as has been mentioned above. As for the names of
them, here follow those of such as we travelled through, or were near the
way we held from our leaving our habitation near the bay of the Holy
Ghost, till we came among the Cenis.
The Spicheats, Kabayes, Thecamons, Thearemets, Niabaha, Chaumenes,
Kouans, Arhau, Enepiahe, Abonerhopiheim, Koienkahe, Konkone, Omeaosse,
Keremen, Ahekouen, Meghty, Tetamenes, Otenmarhen, Kouayon, and Meracouman.
All these nations are on the north of the river called La Maligne. Those
that follow, are on the west and north-west of the same river.
The Kannehouan, Tohaha, Pihir, Cagabegux, Onapien, Pickar, Tokau,
Kuasses, Chancres, Teserabocretes, Tsepehouen, Fercouteha, Panego, Petao,
Petzare, Peisacho, Peihoun, Orcan and Piou. This last nation borders upon
the Cenis, at the entrance into whose first village I left my reader, to
give an account of the inhabitants, and thither I return, to proceed with
my relation on our journey to the village, the Frenchman who lived among
the natives was to conduct us to.
We arrived there at night, and found other elders coming out to meet
us, much after the same manner as the others mentioned before. They led us
to their cottage, made us sit down on mats and smoke, but not with so much
ceremony as the others. That done, it was time for us to take our rest,
having given them to understand that we were weary.
The French provençal would needs have us go to his cottage, that is,
to the hut where he had his dwelling; for, as I have said, there are
several families in one of them, and that was one of the greatest
in the canton, having been the habitation of one of their chiefs lately
They allotted us a place there for our goods and packs; the women
immediately made sagamite or pottage, and gave it us. Having eaten, we
asked the Frenchman whether we were safe, and he answering we were, we lay
down, but yet could not sleep sound.
The next day, being the 1st of April, the elders came to receive and
conduct us to the cottage where we had been the day before. After the
usual ceremonies, we traded with them for corn, meal and beans, giving in
exchange for the same, needles, knives, rings, and other toys. We also
purchased a very fine horse, that would have been worth twenty pistoles in
France, for an axe.
The day was spent in driving our small bargains, and gathering
provisions, which the women brought. When that was done, it was agreed
that I should remain there to lay up more store, and that the others
should return to our company, which we had left near the river, to carry
the provisions, and satisfy them they might come safely.
Though I thought myself not over secure among the Indians, and,
besides, had the dissatisfaction of understanding none of their language,
yet was I not unwilling to stay, that I might have an opportunity of
seeing the two other Frenchmen, who had forsaken the late M. de la Salle,
when he first travelled into that country, that I might inquire of them,
whether they had heard no talk of the Mississippi river, for I still held
my resolution of parting from our wicked murderers.
As soon as they were gone, I gave a young Indian a knife, to go bid
those two other Frenchmen come to me, and whilst he was going I drove on
my little trade for provisions, and had frequent visits from the elders,
who entertained me by signs, with an account of their intended war; to
which I still answered, nodding my head, though very often I knew not what
they meant. It was some difficulty to me to secure my small merchandize,
especially at night, for the natives were covetous of them.
This care, which kept me from sleeping sound, was the occasion, that
one night I heard somebody moving near my bed, and opening my eyes, by the
light of the fire, which never goes out in those cottages, perceived a man
stark naked, with a bow and two arrows in his hand, who came and sat down
by me, without saying anything. I viewed him for some time; I spoke to
him; he made me no answer;
and not knowing what to think of it, I laid hold of my two pistols and my
firelock, which the man perceiving, he went and sat by the fire. I
followed, and looking steadfastly on him, he knew and spoke to me,
throwing his arms about and embracing me, and then made himself known to
be one of the Frenchmen I had sent for.
We fell into discourse; I asked him for his comrade, he told me he
durst not come, for fear of M. de la Salle. They were both sailors; this
man, who was of Britany, was called Buter; the other, of Rochelle,
Grollet. They had, in that short space of time, so perfectly inured
themselves to the customs of the natives, that they had become mere
savages. They were naked, their faces and bodies with figures wrought on
them, like the rest. They had taken several wives, been at the wars, and
killed their enemies with their firelocks, which had gained them
reputation; but having no more powder nor ball, their arms had grown
useless, and they had been forced to learn to shoot with bows and arrows.
As for religion, they were not troubled with much of it, and that
libertine life they led, was pleasing to them.
I acquainted this man with the unfortunate death of M. de la Salle,
his nephew, and the rest, at which he was surprised and concerned, at
least in outward appearance. I asked him whether he had heard talk of the
Mississippi; he told me he had not, but only that there was a great river
forty leagues from thence towards the N. W., where the natives said there
were many nations along its banks. That made me believe it was the very
river we were in search of, or at least that it must be the way to come at
it. I gave him to eat, and we went to rest.
The next and the following days I continued trading, and the elders
their visits, and their discourse, by signs, concerning their intended
war. Some of them gave me to understand that they had been among the
Spaniards, who are, nevertheless, about two hundred leagues from them.
They spoke some words of broken Spanish, as capita, instead of capitan, a
captain, and cohavillo instead of cavallo, a horse, and so of some others.
Buter, the Frenchman, returned to his dwelling; I gave him some strings of
beads for his wives, and desired him to send the other Frenchman to me.
In the mean time my being alone, as to any person I could converse
with, grew very irksome to me, and I know not whether an old man did not
perceive it; for he thought it would be proper to bring a companion to
divert me, and at night I was surprised to see
a young maid come sit down by me, and to hear the old man tell me he had
brought her to be my wife, and gave her to me; but I had far different
thoughts to disturb me. I spoke not one word to that poor maid; she
stayed some time, expecting I would take notice of her, and perceiving I
did not stir, or speak one word, she withdrew.
Thus I continued without hearing any news till the 6th of April, when
the two Frenchmen I have spoken of, came both, in the Indian dress, each
of them having only a coat about him, some turkey feathers on their
shoulders, their heads and feet bare. The latter of them, whose name was
Grollet, had not consented to have his face marked like the other, nor to
cut his hair after the Indian manner; for those people cut off all theirs,
except a small lock on the crown of the head like the Turks, only some of
them have small tresses on the temples.
I repeated to them the narrative of M. de la Salle’s unfortunate
story. They confirmed what I had been told before, that the natives had
talked to them of the great river, which was forty leagues off, towards
the N.E., and that there were people like us that dwelt on the banks of
it. This confirmed me in the opinion that it was the river so much sought
after, and that we must go that way to return to Canada or towards New
England. They told me, they would willingly go with us. I desired them
to keep it secret, which they did not, for, being informed that M.
Cavelier and the others were coming, they went to meet them, and I was
again left alone.
The 8th, three men came to me, one of whom was the Frenchman of
Provence, with each of them a horse, sent by our people to carry away all
the provisions I had got together, having taken a resolution, as those
persons they had sent told us, to return to the dwelling of St. Louis,
about the bay of the same name, from whence we came; designing, as they
pretended, to build a boat there to carry them over to the islands of
America: an impracticable notion, for all our carpenters were dead, and
though they had been alive, they were so ignorant that none of them would
have known which way to go about that work; besides that, we were
destitute of all necessaries for that effect. However, we must obey, and
set out with our provisions. The rain having detained us the 9th on the
way, we could not come up to them till the next day, being the 10th.
Father Anastasius gave me the confirmation of that design, and
farther told me how roughly they had been treated by those murderers since
my departure. I know not what it was that moved
them to it, but they had resolved to separate themselves from those
villains, and that we should eat apart, viz., M. Cavelier, the priest, F.
Anastasius, young Cavelier and I, which was very agreeable to us, because,
at least, we could talk freely, which we dare not do before; but, at the
same, time, they allowed us no more provisions than would suffice to keep
us from starving, without giving us share of any flesh, though they often
Our tyrants still holding their resolution to return to our former
habitation, thought they had not horses enough, and therefore deputed four
of their number, one of whom was the Frenchman, half-turned Indian, to
return to the village of the Cenis and endeavor to barter for some. At
the same time we agreed together to let those gentlemen know, that we were
too much fatigued to return with them to the said habitation, and were
resolved to remain in the village of the Cenis. M. Cavelier undertook to
be our speaker, and to desire Duhaut, who was master of all, to give us
some axes, knives, and strings of beads, powder and shot, offering to give
him a note of his hand for the same.
To conclude, M. Cavelier made the proposal to Duhaut, disguised it
the best he was able, and Duhaut took till next day to return his answer.
He consulted with his companions, and acquainted us that they would deal
handsomely by us, and give us half the effects, and all the axes,
intending to make the most speed they could, to get to our former
dwelling, and to put into execution what they had before designed, as to
the building of a bark. But in case they could not succeed, for want of
necessaries, they would immediately return to us, and bring F. Zenobius
along with them, who would be serviceable to us, because, having been with
M. de la Salle upon his first discovery, he understood the language of the
nations about the Mississippi river. That whilst they were upon that
journey, we should take care to gather a stock of provisions, and that if
they succeeded in building the bark, they would send us word, that we
might repair to them. M. Cavelier approved of all they said, though we
had other designs. However, it proved we were all mistaken, for
Providence had ordered affairs otherwise.
We stayed there some time, expecting those who were gone to the
Cenis, they staying longer than was requisite for that journey. The
overflowing of the river was their pretence, but the true reason was the
women, who, as I have said, are not so forward as to offer themselves, but
on the other hand, will not be over difficult in complying for some little
present, and those who were sent did not grudge their
time. In the meanwhile the posture of our affairs changed as follows:
One of our savage Frenchmen, whom I had acquainted with our design,
communicated it to Hautot, telling him all the particulars he had before
acquainted me with; whereupon Duhaut changed his mind as to the design of
going to the habitation of St. Louis, resolving to follow our intended way
and execute our project. He imparted his thoughts to his companions, who
were of the same opinion, and all of them acquainted us that they were
ready to put into execution the enterprise we had formed.
This change troubled us very much, there being nothing we coveted
more than to part with those miscreants, from whom we could at a long run
expect no better usage than they had afforded our commander and his
friends. However, it was still requisite to dissemble, there being no
other remedy at that time: but God’s justice provided for and rescued us.
We continued in that camp all the remaining part of April, expecting the
persons that had been sent to the Cenis, and Duhaut intending to begin to
put in execution his design of going to find out the Mississippi with us,
made us advance towards the river that was near, in order to pass it as
soon as fallen, and repair to the village of the Cenis.
We stayed three days longer in that post, at the end whereof he we
called Larcheveque, one of those that had been sent out, crossed the
river. He was Duhaut’s creature, and an accomplice in the murder of M. de
la Salle. He informed Duhaut that one they called Hiens, who also was one
of our messengers, and had stayed on the other side of the river, had
heard of Duhaut and the rest altering their resolution, and that he was
not of their mind. Hiens was a buccaneer, and by birth a German. M. de
la Salle had brought him from Petit Gouave, and he also was accessory to
the late murders.
After we had been some days longer in the same place, Hiens arrived
with the two half-savage Frenchmen and about twenty natives. He went
immediately to Duhaut, and after some discourse, told him he was not for
going towards the Mississippi, because it would be of dangerous
consequence for them, and therefore demanded his share of the effects he
had seized upon. Duhaut refusing to comply, and affirming that all the
axes were his own, Hiens, who it is likely had laid the design before to
kill him, immediately drew his pistol, and fired it upon Duhaut, who
staggered about four paces from the place, and fell down dead. At the
same time, Ruter, who had been with
Hiens, fired his piece upon Liotot, the surgeon, and shot him through with
These murders committed before us, put me into a terrible
consternation; for believing the same was designed for me, I laid hold of
my firelock to defend myself; but Hiens cried out to me, to fear nothing,
to lay down my arms, and assured me he had no design against me; but that
he had revenged his master’s death. He also satisfied M. Cavelier and
Father Anastasius, who were as much frighted as myself, declaring he meant
them no harm, and that though he had been in the conspiracy, yet had he
been present at the time when M. de la Salle was killed, he would not have
consented, but rather have obstructed it.
Liotot lived some hours after, and had the good fortune to make his
confession; after which, the same Ruter put him out of his pain with a
pistol shot. We dug a hole in the earth, and buried him in it with
Duhaut, doing them more honor than they had done to M. de la Salle and his
nephew Moranget, whom they left to be devoured by wild beasts. Thus those
murderers met with what they had deserved, dying the same death they had
put others to.
The natives Hiens had brought with him, having been spectators of
that murder, were in a consternation, and that affair was of dangerous
consequence to us, who stood in need of them. It was therefore requisite
to make the best of it, giving them to understand that there had been
reason for punishing those dead persons, because they had all the powder
and ball, and would not give any to the rest. They remained satisfied with
that excuse, and he who was called Larcheveque, and who was entirely
devoted to Duhaut, being abroad a hunting since the morning, and not
knowing what misfortune had happened to his protector, and Hiens being
resolved to make away with him, Father Anastasius and M. Cavelier took so
much pains, that they dissuaded him from it, and I went out and met
Larcheveque, to give him notice of that disaster, and to inform him how he
was to behave himself. Thus I requited him for having come to give me
notice of M. de la Salle’s death. I brought him to Hiens, who declared he
designed him no harm, and Larcheveque gave him the same assurances on his
part. Thus all things are again composed, and nothing remained, but for
us to set out, but first to know what we were to do, and which way to
direct our course.
Hereupon, Hiens took upon him to speak, and said he had promised the
natives to go to the war with them, and designed to be as good as his
word; that if we would expect his return, we might by that time
consider which way he would move, and that in the meantime we might stay
in the village among the Cenis. This was resolved on; we loaded all our
effects on our horses, and repaired to the same place and the same cottage
where we had been before, the chief of it assigning us the one-half to
lodge and lay up our baggage.
When the day for setting out for the war was come, Hiens departed
with the natives, four of our comrades, and the two half-savage Frenchmen
going along with him; so that there were six of them, and each took a
horse. Hiens left us all the effects, and desired we would stay for him,
which we promised, not knowing how to avoid it, considering that the
Indians might have done us harm, and even have obstructed our departure.
Thus we resigned ourselves to Providence, and remained, six of us,
together, viz., Father Anastasius, M. Cavelier, his nephew, young
Cavelier, young Talon, another youth of Paris, and I. There also remained
some old men, who could not go to the war, and the women. We were also
joined by two other Frenchmen, who had been left on the other side the
river, being the Provençal and one Teissier.
During our stay, and our warriors being abroad upon that expedition,
the old men often visited us, and told us news from the army by signs,
which we understood nothing of. We were from time to time alarmed, seeing
the women weep, without any visible cause. The late M. de la Salle had
often told us that the women bewailed those that were to be killed; but we
were informed they did so when they called to mind some who had been slain
in the former wars; which dispelled our apprehensions. However, we were
uneasy, because those old men and women examined us every morning and
evening when we performed our devotions.
We laid hold of that opportunity to give them to understand that we
paid our duty to one God, the only supreme sovereign of all things,
pointing to heaven, and endeavoring in the best manner we were able, to
signify to them that he was almighty, that he had made all things, that he
caused the earth to produce its fruits to prosper, and the growth of it,
which maintained them to thrive; but this being only by signs, they did
not understand us, and we labored in vain.
The 18th, we were surprised to see several women come into our
cottage, their faces all besmeared with earth, and they set up their
throats, singing several songs as loud as they were able, whereof we
understood not one word. That done, they fell a dancing in a ring, and we
could not tell what to think of that rejoicing, which lasted
full three hours; after which, we were informed they had received advice
of the victory obtained by their warriors over their enemies. The dance
concluded, those in the cottage gave some bits of tobacco to those
The same day, about noon, we saw him that had brought the news, who
affirmed they had killed at least forty of their enemies. After the
rejoicing, all the women applied themselves to make ready their
provisions, some to pound Indian corn, others to boil meal, which they
call grouller, and others to bake bread, to carry to the warriors. They
all set out on the 19th to meet them, and we thought it in policy
convenient to send meat to our men, which was done by the Frenchman of
Provence, who went with the women.
The same day, at night, the victorious army returned, and we were
informed that their enemies, whom they call Cannohatinno, had expected
them boldly, but that having heard the noise, and felt the effects of our
men’s firearms, they all fled, so that the Cenis had either killed or
taken forty-eight men and women. They had slain several of the latter,
who fled to the tops of trees, for want of time to make their escape
otherwise; so that many more women had perished than men.
They brought home two of those women alive, one of whom had her head
flayed for the sake of her hair and skin. They gave that wretched
creature a charge of powder and a ball, and sent her home, bidding her
carry that present to her nation, and to assure them, they should be again
treated after the same manner, that is, killed with firearms.
The other woman was kept to fall a sacrifice to the rage and
vengeance of the women and maids; who, having armed themselves with thick
stakes, sharp pointed at the end, conducted that wretch to a by-place,
where each of those furies began to torment her, sometimes with the point
of their staff, and sometimes laying on her with all their might. One
tore off her hair, another cut off her finger, and every one of those
outrageous women endeavored to put her to some exquisite torture, to
revenge the death of their husbands and kinsmen, who had been killed in
the former wars; so that the unfortunate creature expected her death
stroke as mercy.
At last, one of them gave her a stroke with a heavy club on the head,
and another ran her stake several times into her body, with which she fell
down dead on the spot. Then they cut that miserable victim into morsels,
and obliged some slaves of that nation they had been long possessed of, to
Thus our warriors returned triumphant from that expedition. They
spared none of the prisoners they had taken, except two little boys, and
brought home all the skins of their heads, with the hair, to be kept as
trophies and glorious memorials of their victory.
The next day all those savages met in their chief’s cottage, whither
all the above-mentioned heads of hair were carried in state. Then they
made extraordinary rejoicings in that cottage, whence they went to the
huts of the other prime men, to perform the same ceremony. This rejoicing
lasted three days, our French companions, who had been the cause of their
victory, being called to it, and highly entertained, after their manner.
It will not be disagreeable to the reader, that I here particularly
describe that ceremony, which, after being performed in the cottages of
the chief men, was repeated in ours.
In the first place, the cottage was made very clean, adorned, and
abundance of mats laid on the floor, on which the elders and the most
considerable persons sat; after which, one of them, who is in the nature
of an orator, or master of the ceremonies, stood up and made a speech, of
which we understood not a word. Soon after that discourse was ended, the
warriors arrived, who had slain any in battle, marching in their proper
order, each of them carrying a bow and two arrows, and before every one of
them went his wife, carrying the enemy’s head of hair. Two little boys,
whose lives they had spared, as has been said before, one of them who was
wounded, being on horseback, closed the procession; at the head whereof
was a woman, carrying a large reed or cane in her hand.
As they came up to the orator, the warrior took the head of hair his
wife had brought, and presented it to him, which the said orator received
with both his hands, and after having held it out towards the four
quarters of the world, he laid it down on the ground, and then took the
next, performing the same ceremony, till he had gone over them all.
When the ceremony was ended, they served up the sagamite, in the
nature of hasty pudding, which those women had provided, and before any
one touched it, the master of the ceremonies took some in a vessel, which
he carried as an offering to those heads of hair. Then he lighted a pipe
of tobacco, and blew the smoke upon them. That being performed, they all
fell to the meat. Bits of the woman that had been sacrificed were served
up to the two boys of her nation. They also served up dried tongues of
their enemies, and the whole concluded with dancing and singing after
their manner. After which, they went to other cottages to repeat
the same ceremony.
There was no talk of our design till those rejoicings were over, and
I began to conceive good hopes of our success. The two murderers,
Teissier and Larcheveque, who had both a hand in the death of M. de la
Salle, had promised to go along with us, provided M. Cavelier would pardon
them, and he had given them his word so to do. In this expectation we
continued till the 25th, when our Frenchmen who had been at the war,
repaired to our cottage, and we consulted about our business.
Hiens and others of his gang, disapproving of our design, represented
to us such difficulties as they looked upon to be insurmountable, under
which we must inevitably perish, or at least be obliged to return to the
same place. Hiens told us, that for his own part, he would not hazard his
life to return into France, only to have his head chopped off, and
perceiving we answered nothing to that, but that we persisted in our
resolution; it is requisite then, said he, to divide what effects remain.
Accordingly he laid aside for F. Anastasius, MM. Cavelier, the uncle
and the nephew, thirty axes, four or five dozens of knives, about thirty
pounds of powder, and the like quantity of ball. He gave each of the
others two axes, two knives, two or three pounds of powder, with as much
ball, and kept the rest. As for the horses, he kept the best, and left us
the three least. M. Cavelier asked him for some strings of beads, which
he granted, and seized upon all the late M. de la Salle’s clothes, baggage
and other effects, besides above a thousand livres in money, which
belonged to the late M. le Gros, who died at our dwelling of St. Louis.
Before our departure it was a sensible affliction to us to see that
villain walk about in a scarlet coat, with gold galons, which had belonged
to the late M. de la Salle, and which, as I have said, he had seized.
After that, Hiens and his companions withdrew to their own cottage,
and we resolved not to put off our departure any longer. Accordingly we
made ready our horses, which much alarmed the natives, and especially the
chief of them, who said and did all he could to obstruct our journey,
promising us wives, plenty of provisions; representing to us the immense
dangers, as well from enemies who surrounded them, as from the bad and
impassable ways and the many woods and rivers we were to pass. However,
we were not to be moved, and only asked one kindness of him, in obtaining
of which there were many difficulties, and it was, that he would give us
to conduct us to Cappa; but at length, after much trouble and many
promises of a good reward, one was granted, and two others went along with
All things being thus ordered for our departure, we took leave of our
hosts, passed by Hiens’s cottage, and embraced him and his companions. We
asked him for another horse, which he granted. He desired an attestation
in Latin of M. Cavelier, that he had not been concerned in the murder of
M. de la Salle, which was given him, because there was no refusing of it;
and we set forward without Larcheveque and Meunier, who did not keep their
word with us, but remained among those barbarians, being infatuated with
that course of libertinism they had run themselves into. Thus there were
only seven of us that stuck together to return to Canada, viz.: Father
Anastasius, MM. Cavelier, the uncle and the nephew, the Sieur de Marle,
one Teissier, a young man born at Paris, whose name was Bartholomew, and
I, with six horses and the three Indians, who were to be our guides; a
very small number for so great an enterprise, but we put ourselves
entirely into the hands of divine Providence, confiding in God’s mercy,
which did not forsake us.
After the first day’s journey we encamped on the bank of the river we
had left not long before; lay there that night, and the next day cut down
trees to make a sort of bridge of planks to pass over it; handing over our
goods from one to another, and swimming over our horses; which work we
were frequently obliged to repeat, and as often as we had afterwards
occasion to pass rivers on our way, which we held on till the 29th, every
day meeting with some cottage, and at last, a hamlet or village, into
which we went, and the Indian inhabitants told us they were called
Nahordikhe, and that they were allies to the Cenis.
We bartered with them for some provisions, and their chief offered to
go with us as far as the Assonys, who were not farther off than about
three leagues, which he accordingly did; but it happening to rain when we
came thither, and the Assonys having had no notice beforehand, we found
but indifferent reception.
However, we were conducted to the chief’s cottage; the elders had
notice given them, they resorted thither, and when our horses were
unloaded, and our goods placed in a corner of the cottage, which the chief
had allotted us, we gave them to understand, that our intention was to go
further, to fetch commodities to trade with them, at which they were
pleased. They gave us to eat, and the elders stayed some part of the
evening with us, which made us somewhat uneasy, and
obliged us to be upon our guard; however, the night passed without any
The next morning the elders came to us again. They had provided mats
without the cottage, and made signs to us to go thither and sit down upon
them, as we did, leaving two of our company to guard the baggage. We
repeated to them what we had said the night before, and made them some
presents of axes, knives, strings of beads and rings. They signified they
were sorry we would go away, and endeavored the best they could to make us
sensible of the same obstacles the others had signified to us; but it was
all in vain; however, we stayed till the first of June, all the while
bartering and gathering the best stock of provisions we could.
The second, we removed from that cottage, where we had some jealousy,
and went to another, a quarter of a league from it, where the chief of it
gave us a very good reception. An old woman, who was either his mother or
governess of the cottage, took particular care of us. We were first
served at eating, and to keep her in that good mind, we now and then made
her some little presents, whilst she, by her care and kindness, spared our
provisions, which were necessary for our journey.
A continual rain obliged us to stay there till the 13th. During our
stay the natives made several feasts, to which we were always invited; and
at length the rain ceasing we resolved to set out, notwithstanding all M.
Cavelier and the priest’s apprehensions, which we surmounted, and directed
our course towards the N. E. with two Indians, who were to conduct us only
a small way, and who accordingly soon left us, whatsoever promises we
could make them. They departed to return home, promising they would come
to us again. We encamped that night on the bank of a rivulet.
The 14th and 15th, we held on our way, frequently meeting with
sloughs, which very much fatigued us, because we were obliged to unload
our horses for them to pass, and prevent their sticking in the mire and
fat soil, whence we could not have drawn them out, and consequently we
were fain to carry all our luggage on our own backs.
Whilst we halted about noon that our horses might graze, as was
usually done by us, we discovered our two Assony Indians returning towards
us, at which we were much rejoiced, because they had a better notion than
ourselves of the way we were to go. We made them eat and smoke, and then
set out again.
The 16th, we came to a great river, which we passed as we had done
the first, and after that met with very bad ways.
The 17th, one of our company being indisposed, we could not set out
till noon, and held on till the 21st, crossing several sloughs and rivers,
and then one of our Indians being out of order, it obliged us to stay on
the bank of a river we had passed. The other Indian, seeing his comrade
sick, went a hunting, and brought a wild goat; for there are many in that
country. The Indians have the art of dressing the heads of those
creatures, which they put upon their own, and imitate them so exactly,
that they can come very near to them, and then seldom fail of killing.
The same method they use for turkeys and other wild fowl, and so draw them
close to themselves.
The 22d, our Indian being somewhat recovered, we decamped, and
proceeded along a better way and pleasanter country than that we had left
behind, and as we inquired the best we could of those our Indians
concerning the neighboring nations and those we were going towards, among
others they named to us, that they called Cappa. M. Cavelier told us he
remembered he had heard his late brother, M. de la Salle, name that
nation, and say that he had seen it as he went from Canada towards the
Mississippi. This put us in hopes that we should succeed in our
The 23d, being near a village we had been in search of, one of our
Indians went before to give notice of our arrival. In the meantime we
crossed most lovely plains and meadows, bordered with fine groves of
beautiful trees, where the grass was so high that it hindered our horses
going, and we were obliged to clear the passage for them.
When we were within half a league of the village, we saw an Indian
mounted on a large grey mare, coming along with our native to meet us, and
were told that horseman was the chief of the village, attended by some
others of the same place. As soon as that chief came up to us he
expressed very much kindness and affection; we gave him to understand that
we did nobody any harm, unless we were first attacked. Then we made him
smoke, and when that was done he made signs to us to follow him, which we
did till we came to the bank of a river, where he again desired us to stay
whilst he went to give notice to the elders.
Soon after a number of them came, and having joined us, signified
that they were come to carry us to their village. Our Indians made signs
that it was the custom of the country, and we must submit and let them do
as they thought fit. Though we were much out
of countenance at that ceremony, seven of the prime men among them would
have us mount on their backs or shoulders. M. Cavelier, being our chief,
mounted first, and then the rest did the same.
As for my own part, being of a pretty large size, and loaded with
clothes, a firelock, a case of pistols, powder, and ball, a kettle, and
other implements, there is no doubt but I made a sufficient burden for him
that carried me, and because I was taller than he and my feet would have
hung upon the ground, two other Indians held them up for me; so that I had
three to carry me. Other Indians took hold of our horses to lead them,
and in that ridiculous equipage we arrived at the village. Our carriers,
who had gone a long quarter of a league, had need enough to rest, and we
to be set down, that we might laugh in private, for it behoved us to take
care not to do it before them.
As soon as we were come to the chief’s cottage, where we found above
two hundred persons who were come to see us, and that our horses were
unloaded, the elders gave us to understand that it was their custom to
wash strangers at their first coming; but that we being clad, they would
only wash our faces; which one of those elders did with fair water they
had in a sort of earthen vessel, and he only washed our forehead.
After this second ceremony, the chief made signs to us to sit down on
a sort of little scaffold raised about four feet above the ground, and
made of wood and canes, where, when we were placed, the chiefs of the
villages, being four in number, came and made speeches to us one after
another. We listened to them with patience, though we understood not one
word of what they said to us; being tired with the length of their
harangues, and much more with the violent heat of the sun, which was just
over our heads.
When the speeches were ended, the purport whereof, as near as we
could guess, was only to assure us that we were very welcome, we gave them
to understand that we were going into our own country, designing to return
speedily, to bring them several sorts of commodities and such things as
they should stand in need of.
Next, we made them the usual presents of axes, knives, strings of
beads, needles, and pins, for their wives, telling them, that when we
returned we would give them more.
We farther signified to them that if they would afford us some corn
or meal we would give them other things in exchange, which they agreed to.
After this they made us eat sagamite, or hasty-pudding, bread, beans,
pumpkins, and other things, which we had
sufficient need of, most of us having scarce eaten anything all that day,
some for want, and others out of devotion, as M. Cavelier, who would
observe the fast of St. John Baptist’s Eve, whose name he bore. It is to
be observed that the pumpkins are incomparably better there than with us.
The 24th, the elders met again in our cottage. We gave them to
understand they would oblige us in furnishing guides to conduct us to the
village of Cappa, which was in our way; but instead of granting it, they
earnestly entreated us to stay with them, and go to the wars against their
enemies, having been told wonders of our firelocks, which we promised to
do when we returned, and that it should be shortly, and they seemed to
Thus our hopes increased, but the joy it occasioned was allayed by a
dismal accident that befel us. M. de Marle, one of the prime men of our
company, having breakfasted, would needs go bathe himself in the river we
had passed the day before, and not knowing how to swim, he went too far
and stepped into a hole, whence he could not recover himself, but was
unfortunately drowned. Young M. Cavelier having been told that M. de
Marle was going to bathe himself, ran after him, and coming to the river,
saw he was drowning, he ran back to acquaint us. We hasted thither with a
number of Indians, who were there before us, but all too late; some of
them dived, and brought him up dead from the bottom of the water.
We carried him to the cottage, shedding many tears; the Indians bore
part in our sorrow, and we paid him the last duties, offering up the usual
prayers, after which he was buried in a small field behind the cottage;
and, whereas, during that doleful ceremony, we prayed, reading in our
books, particularly M. Cavelier, the priest and Father Anastasius, the
Indians gazed on us with amazement, because we talked, looking upon the
leaves, and we endeavored to give them to understand that we prayed to God
for the dead man, pointing up to heaven.
We must do this right to those good people, as to declare, that they
expressed singular humanity upon that doleful accident, as appeared by the
sensible testimony of their actions, and all the methods they used to let
us understand how great a share they bore in our sorrow; which we should
not have found in several parts of Europe.
During our short stay in that place, we observed a ceremony that was
performed by the chief’s wife, viz.: that every morning she went to M. de
Marle’s grave, and carried a little basket of parched
ears of corn to lay on it, the meaning whereof we could not understand.
Before our departure, we were informed that the villages belonging to our
hosts, being four in number, all allied together, were called Assony,
Nathosos, Nachitos, and Cadodaquio.
On the 27th, having been informed by the natives that we should find
canoes to pass a river that was on our way, Father Anastasius and I went
to see whether what they told us was true. We found that river was a
branch of the same we had already passed, the channel of it being pleasant
and navigable, and saw some canoes, in one of which the Indians carried us
over to the other side, whither we went to see what convenient place there
was for our horses to come ashore. We found a very proper place, and,
returning, made our report to M. Cavelier, who being then much out of
order, with pains in his feet, we were obliged to stay there till the
During that time we were frequently visited by the Indians, both old
and young, and of both sexes, and even the chiefs of the nation, called
Janiquo, came to see us, and with them we often conversed in dumb show;
and every evening the women, attended by the warriors, with their bows and
arrows, resorted to our cottage to sing a doleful sort of song, shedding
tears at the same time. This would have given us some uneasiness, had we
not before seen the same ceremony, and been informed that those women
repair in that manner to the chief’s cottage to entreat him, singing and
weeping, to take revenge on those who have killed their husbands or
relations, in former wars, as I have observed before. In all other
respects, the manners and customs of this nation being much the same as
those of the Cenis, I shall add no more concerning them.
The 29th, at night, we gave notice to the chief that we would set out
the next day; we made him some presents in particular, and the like to his
wife, because she had taken special care of us, and departed on the 30th.
The chief, attended by many other Indians whom we found in the cottages on
our way, went to conduct us as far as the river, which we crossed in
canoes, and swam over our horses. There we took leave of our conductors,
to whom we gave some strings of beads for their wives, and their chief
would needs conduct us to the next village.
By the way we came to a cottage, where our guide made us halt, and
there they gave us to eat. Then we held on our journey to a village
called Cadodaquio, and were conducted to the chief’s cottage, who received
us courteously, being a friend to him that went with us. It was requisite
to unload our horses to lie there, and we
signified to the chief that we stood in need of provisions. He spoke to
the women, who brought us some meal, which we purchased with strings of
beads, and the chief, who conducted us thither, took his leave.
Having no design to stay there any time, we had desired the chief to
appoint some person to guide us to the village called Cahainihoua, which
was in our way. It happened by good fortune that there were then in that
place some men and women of the said village, who were come to fetch some
wood fit to make bows, there being plenty of that sort of trees they make
them of, about the village we were in. We signified our design to them,
and they gave us to understand they would be glad to bear us company. In
the conversation we had with them, they made us comprehend that they had
seen people like us, who had firelocks and a house, and that they were
acquainted with the Cappas, which was very pleasing to us. Because they
were not to depart till two days after, we resolved to stay for them.
We observed, that there was a difference between the language of
those people and the inhabitants of the village we were in from that of
the Cenis, and that they had some peculiar ceremonies, one whereof is,
that when the women have their terms, they leave the company of their
husbands and withdraw into other cottages appointed for that purpose,
which no person is to come near, upon pain of being reputed unclean.
Those women have their faces still more disfigured than the others we
had seen before; for they make several streaks or scores on them, whereas
the others had but one. They adorn themselves with little locks of fine
red hair, which they make fast to their ears, in the nature of pendants.
In other respects they are not disagreeable, and neither women nor maids
are so ill- natured as to make their lovers pine for them. They are not
difficult of access, and they soon make a return for a small present.
The men wear their hair short, like our capucins; they anoint it with
a sort of oil or grease, and curl it like snails, after which they strew
on it a sort of down or lint, dyed red, as we do powder, which is done
when they design to be very fine, in order to appear in their assemblies.
They are very fond of their children, and all the way of chastising them
they use is to throw water at them, without ever beating or giving them
The Indians that were of the village of Cohainihoua and to conduct us
thither, not being ready to set out on Wednesday, the 2d of
July, as they had promised, a young Indian offered himself, saying, he
would conduct us safe thither, and we set out with him, still directing
our course towards the N.E. We kept close along the same river we had
crossed, and found it very pleasant and navigable, the banks of it covered
with fine trees of several sorts.
We had not travelled above a league, before our guide gave us to
understand, that he had forgotten a piece of hard dried skin he had to
make him shoes, which he would go fetch and return to us, pointing to us
with his hand which way we were to go, and telling us we should soon come
to a river.
This sudden change in the Indian was somewhat surprising, and very
much perplexed us; however, we held on our way, and soon came to the river
he had mentioned to us, which was very pleasant and deep. We crossed it
the next day, on a sort of float, which we made with much toil and labor,
and our horses swam over. Some time after we were passed, we saw the
Indians coming, who had promised to bear us company, and were glad to find
our float, to cross the same river, as they did, and proceeded on our
journey all together.
The 4th, 5th and 6th, we did the same, crossing a very fine country,
but watered by many brooks, streams and rivers. We found abundance of
wild goats, turkeys and other wild-fowl, whereof our Indians killed many.
On the 6th, whilst we halted on the bank of a river to eat, we heard
the tinkling of some small bells; which making us look about, we spied an
Indian with a naked sword-blade in his hand, adorned with feathers of
several colors, and two large hawks’ bells, that occasioned the noise we
He made signs for us to come to him, and gave us to understand, that
he was sent by the elders of the village, whither we were going, to meet
us, caressing us after an extraordinary manner. I observed that it was a
Spanish blade he had, and that he took pleasure in ringing the hawks’
Having travelled about half a league with him, we discovered a dozen
of other Indians coming towards us, who made very much of and conducted us
to the village, to the chief’s cottage, where we found dried bear-skins
laid on the ground, and they made us sit on them, where we were treated
with eatables, as were the elders after us, and a throng of women came to
The 7th, the elders came to give us a visit, bringing us two
bullocks’ hides, four otters’ skins,
one white wild-goat’s skin, all of
them well dried, and four bows, in return for the present we had before
made them. The chief and another came again some time after, bringing two
loaves, the finest and the best we had yet seen. They looked as if they
had been baked in an oven, and yet we had not observed that there were
ovens among any of them. That chief stayed with us some hours; he seemed
to be very ingenious and discreet, and easily understood our signs, which
were most of the language we had. Having ordered a little boy to bring us
all we had occasion for, he withdrew.
Towards the evening, we were entertained with a ceremony we had not
seen before. A company of elders, attended by some young men and women,
came to our cottage in a body, singing as loud as they could roar. The
foremost of them had a calumet, so they call a very long sort of
tobacco-pipe, adorned with several sorts of feathers. When they had sung
a while, before our cottage, they entered it, still singing on for about a
quarter of an hour. After that, they took M. Cavelier the priest, as
being our chief, led him in solemn manner out of the cottage, supporting
him under the arms. When they were come to a place they had prepared, one
of them laid a great handful of grass on his feet, two others brought fair
water in an earthen dish, with which they washed his face, and then made
him sit down on a skin, provided for that purpose.
When M. Cavelier was seated, the elders took their places, sitting
round about him, and the master of the ceremonies fixed in the ground two
little wooden forks, and having laid a stick across them, all being
painted red, he placed on them a bullock’s hide dried, a goat’s skin over
that, and then laid the pipe thereon.
The song was begun again, the women mixing in the chorus, and the
concert was heightened by great hollow calabashes or gourds, in which
there were large gravel stones, to make a noise, the Indians striking on
them by measure, to answer the tone of the choir; and the pleasantest of
all was, that one of the Indians placed himself behind M. Cavelier to hold
him up, whilst at the same time he shook and dandled him from side to
side, the motion answering to the music.
That concert was scarce ended, when the master of the ceremonies
brought two maids, the one having in her hand a sort of collar, and the
other an otter’s skin, which they placed on the wooden forks
above-mentioned, at the ends of the pipe. Then he made them sit down, on
each side of M. Cavelier, in such a posture that they looked one upon the
other, their legs extended and intermixed, on which
the same master of the ceremonies laid M. Cavelier’s legs, in such manner
that they lay uppermost, and across those of the two maids.
Whilst this action was performing, one of the elders made fast a dyed
feather to the back part of M. Cavelier’s head, tying it to his hair. The
singing still continued all that time, so that M. Cavelier, grown weary of
its tediousness, and ashamed to see himself in that posture between two
maids, without knowing to what purpose, made signs to us to signify the
same to the chief, and having given him to understand that he was not
well, two of the Indians immediately took hold of him under the arms,
conducted him back to the cottage, and made signs to him to take his rest.
This was about nine in the evening, and the Indians spent all the night in
singing, insomuch that some of them could hold out no longer.
In the morning they returned to M. Cavelier, conducted him again out
of the cottage, with the same ceremony, and made him sit down, still
singing on. Then the master of the ceremonies took the pipe, which he
filled with tobacco, lighted, and offered it to M. Cavelier, but drawing
back and advancing six times before he gave it him. Having at last put it
into his hands, M. Cavelier made as if he had smoked, and returned it to
them. Then they made us all smoke round, and every one of them whiffed in
his turn, the music still continuing.
About nine in the morning, the sun growing very hot, and M. Cavelier
being bareheaded, made signs that it did him harm. Then at last they gave
over singing, and conducted him back into the cottage, took the pipe, put
it into a case made of a wild goat’s skin, with the two wooden forks and
the red stick that lay across them, all which one of the elders offered to
M. Cavelier, assuring him that he might pass through all the nations that
were allied to them by virtue of that token of peace, and should be
everywhere well received. This was the first place where we saw the
calumet, or pipe of peace, having no knowledge of it before, as some have
written. This nation is called Cahaynohoua.
This sort of ceremonies being never performed among the Indians
without the expectation of receiving some present, and we having besides
observed that some of them had withdrawn themselves, with tokens of
dissatisfaction, perhaps because we had interrupted their ceremony, we
thought it convenient to give them something more, and I was appointed to
carry them an axe, four knives, and some strings of beads, with which they
We afterwards showed them an experiment of our arms, the noise
and fire whereof frightened them. They earnestly pressed us to stay with
them, offering us wives, and whatsoever else we should want. To be better
quit of them we promised to return, saying we were going to fetch
commodities, arms, and tools, which we stood in need of, that we might
afterwards stay with them.
The 9th and 10th were spent in visits, and we were informed by one of
the Indians that we were not far from a great river, which he described
with a stick on the sand, and showed it had two branches, at the same time
pronouncing the word Cappa, which, as I have said, is a nation near the
Mississippi. We then made no longer question that we were near what we
had been so long looking after. We entreated the elders to appoint some
men to conduct us, promising to reward them well, which they granted, and
we set out the 11th, to the great sorrow of those good people, who had
entertained us so courteously.
We travelled several different ways, which we could never have found,
had we wanted guides, and so proceeded, till, on the 12th, one of our
guides pretended to be sick, and made signs that he would go back; but
observing that we seemed to be no way concerned, which we did on purpose,
he consulted with his companion, and then came to tell us he was
recovered. We made him eat and smoke, and continued our journey the 13th,
finding the way very bad and difficult.
The 14th, our Indians, having seen the track of bullocks, signified
they would go kill some, to eat the flesh, which made us halt for two or
three hours. Whilst we stayed for our hunters, we prepared some sagamite,
or their sort of hasty-pudding. They returned loaded with flesh, part
whereof we dressed, and eat it with very good stomachs. Then we proceeded
on our journey till the 18th, and by the way killed three bullocks and two
cows, which obliged us to halt, that we might make use of our flesh,
The night between the 19th and the 20th, one of our horses breaking
loose, was either taken away by the natives or lost in the woods. That
did not obstruct our departure, though the loss was grievous to us, and we
held on our way till the 24th, when we met a company of Indians, with
axes, going to fetch barks of trees, to cover their cottages. They were
surprised to see us, but having made signs to them to draw near, they
came, caressed, and presented us with some watermelons they had. They put
off their design of going to fetch bark till another time, and went along
with us, and one of our guides having gone before in the morning to give
of our coming at the next village, met with other parcels of Indians, who
were coming to meet us, and expressed extraordinary kindness.
We halted in one of their cottages, which they call Desert, because
they are in the midst of their fields and gardens. There we found several
women who had brought bread, gourds, beans, and watermelons, a sort of
fruit proper to quench thirst, the pulp of it being no better than water.
We set out again to come to the village, and by the way met with very
pleasant woods, in which there were abundance of stately cedars. Being
come to a river that was between us and the village, and looking over to
the further side we discovered a great cross, and at a small distance from
it, a house built after the French fashion.
It is easy to imagine what inward joy we conceived at the sight of
that emblem of our salvation. We knelt down, lifting up our hands and
eyes to heaven, to return thanks to the Divine Goodness, for having
conducted us so happily; for we made no question of finding French on the
other side of the river, and of their being Catholics, since they had
In short, having halted for some time on the bank of that river, we
spied several canoes making towards us, and two men clothed coming out of
the house we had discovered, who, the moment they saw us, fired each of
them a shot to salute us. An Indian, being chief of the village, who was
with them, had done so before, and we were not backward in returning their
salute, by discharging all our pieces.
When we had passed the river, and were all come together, we soon
knew each other to be Frenchmen. Those we found were the Sieurs Couture
Charpentier, and De Launay, both of them of Rouen, whom M. de Tonty,
governor of Fort St. Louis, among the Illinois, had left at that post when
he went down the Mississippi to look after M. de la Salle; and the nation
we were then with was called Accancea.
It is hard to express the joy conceived on both sides; ours was
unspeakable, for having at last found what we had so earnestly desired,
and that the hopes of returning to our dear country were in some measure
assured by that happy discovery. The others were pleased to see such
persons as might bring them news of that commander from whom they expected
the performance of what he had promised them; but the account we gave them
of M. de la Salle’s unfortunate death was so afflicting that it drew tears
from them, and the dismal history of his troubles and disasters rendered
them almost inconsolable.
We were conducted to the house, whither all our baggage was
honestly carried by the Indians. There was a very great throng of those
people, both men and women, which being over, we came to the relation of
the particular circumstances of our stories. Ours was delivered by M.
Cavelier, whom we honored as our chief, for being brother to him who had
We were informed by them, that they had been six, sent by M. de
Tonty, when he returned from the voyage he had made down the Colbert or
Mississippi river, pursuant to the orders sent him by the late M. de la
Salle, at his departure from France, and that the said Sieur Tonty had
commanded them to build the aforesaid house. That having never since
received any news from the said M. de la Salle, four of them were gone
back to M. Tonty, at the fort of the Illinois.
In conclusion, it was agreed among us to go away as soon as possible,
towards the Illinois, and conceal from the Indians the death of M. de la
Salle, to keep them still in awe and under submission, whilst we went away
with the first ships that should happen to sail from Canada for France, to
give an account at court of what had happened, and to procure succors. In
the meantime the chief of the Indians came to invite us to eat. We found
mats laid on the ground for us to sit on, and all the village met to see
We gave them to understand, that we came from M. de la Salle, who had
made a settlement on the Bay of Mexico; that we had passed through many
nations, which we named, and that we were going to Canada for commodities,
and would return down the river; that we would bring men to defend them
against their enemies, and then settle among them; that the nations we had
passed through had appointed men to guide us, and we desired the same
favor of them, with some canoes and provisions, and that we would reward
our guides and pay for what they furnished us.
The conveniency of an interpreter, we then had, gave us the
opportunity of making ourselves be easily understood, and the chief
answered to our proposals, that he would send men to the other villages to
acquaint them with our demands, and to consult with them what was to be
done in that case; that as for the rest, they were amazed at our having
passed through so many nations, without having been detained, or killed,
considering what a small number we were.
When the discourse was ended, that chief caused meat to be set before
us, as dried flesh, bread made of Indian corn of several sorts, and
watermelons; after which he made us smoke, and then we
returned to our house, where being eased of all those impediments, we gave
each other an account of our affairs, at leisure, and were informed that
those people impatiently expected the return of M. de la Salle, which
confirmed us in the resolution of concealing his death. We observed the
situation of that post, and were made acquainted with the nature of the
country and the manners of those people, of which I shall give the
The house we were then in, was built of pieces of cedar laid one upon
another, and rounded away at the corners. It is seated on a small
eminence, half a musket-shot from the village, in a country abounding in
all things. The plains lying on one side of it are stored with beeves,
wild goats, deer, turkeys, bustards, swans, teal and other game.
The trees produce plenty of fruit, and very good, as peaches, plums,
mulberries, grapes and walnuts. They have a sort of fruit they call
piaguimina, not unlike our medlars, but much better and more delicious.
Such as live near the rivers, as that house is, do not want for fish of
all sorts, and they have Indian wheat, whereof they make good bread.
There are also fine plains diversified with several sorts of trees, as I
have said before.
The nation of the Accanceas consists of four villages. The first is
called Otsotchove, near which we were; the second Toriman, both of them
seated on the river; the third Tonginga, and the fourth Cappa, on the bank
of the Mississippi. These villages are built after a different manner
from the others we had seen before, in this point, that the cottages which
are alike as to their materials and rounding at the top, are long, and
covered with the bark of trees, and so very large that several of them can
hold two hundred persons, belonging to several families.
The people are not so neat as the Cenis, or the Assonis, in their
houses, for some of them lie on the ground, without anything under them
but some mats or a dressed hide. However, some of them have more
conveniences, but the generality has not. All their moveables consist in
some earthen vessels and oval wooden platters, which are neatly made, and
with which they drive a trade.
They are generally very well shaped and active; the women are
handsome, or at least have a much better presence than those of the other
villages we passed through before. They make canoes all of one piece,
which are well wrought. As for themselves they are very faithful,
good-natured, and warriors, like the rest.
The 25th, the elders being assembled came to see us, and told the
Sieur Couture, that they designed to sing and dance the calumet, or pipe;
because the others had sung it, some of them to the late M. de la Salle,
and the rest to M. Tonty, and therefore it was but reasonable they should
do the same to get a firelock, as well as the others. M. Cavelier was
informed of it, and it was requisite to consent to it to please those
Indians, because we stood in need of them.
The ceremony began with M. Cavelier, who was led under the arms and
seated on a hide without the cottage. The forks, the skins laid on it in
honor of the pipe, the singing as loud as they could roar, both by men and
women, and all the other ceremonies were observed, as I have mentioned
them before; so that M. Cavelier being weary of them, he caused the chief
to be told that he was out of order, and desired his nephew might be put
in his place, which was done accordingly, and they spent the whole night
in singing. In the morning they performed some other ceremonies not worth
The solemnity being ended by every man’s smoking of the pipe, the
Indians took it, with some bullocks’ hides, and goats’ and otters’ skins,
and a collar made of shells, all which they carried to our house, and we
gave them a firelock, two axes, six knives, one hundred charges of powder,
as much ball, and some strings of beads for their wives. The chief having
given notice of our coming to the other villages, their deputies came to
see us; we entertained them in the house, and proposed to them our
designs, as had been done to the chief. They stood considering a while,
then held a sort of consultation among themselves, which held not long
without talking, and then agreed to grant us what we asked, which was a
canoe and a man of each village to conduct us, upon the promised
consideration, and so they went away to the cottage of the chief of the
The 27th, the chief and the elders met again to consult about what we
demanded of them; the length of the journey made them apprehensive for
those who were to conduct us; but at length we having dispelled their
fears by our arguments, and they having again deliberated some time,
agreed to our request. We again made them a present, promising a good
reward to our guides, and so we prepared to set forwards. Little
Bartholomew, the Parisian, having intimated to us that he would willingly
stay in that house, because he was none of the ablest of body, we
recommended him to the Sieur Couture. We desired those that remained
there to keep the secret of M. de la Salle’s death, promised to send them
relief, left them our horses, which were of great use to go a hunting, and
gave them fifteen or sixteen pounds of powder, eight hundred balls, three
twenty-six knives, and ten axes, two or three pounds weight of beads; M.
Cavelier left them part of his linen, hoping we should soon be in a place
where we should get more; and all of them having made their peace with
God, by means of the sacrament of penance, we took leave of them,
excepting the Sieur Couture, who went to conduct us a part of the way.
We embarked on a canoe belonging to one of the chiefs, being at least
twenty persons, as well women as men, and arrived safe, without any
trouble, at a village called Toriman, for we were going down the river.
We proposed it to these people, or rather demanded it of them to confirm
what had been granted us by the others, and they referred giving us their
answer till the next day; for they do nothing without consulting about it,
and we having brought a sack of Indian wheat from the Frenchmen’s house,
desired the chief to cause women to pound it, for which we would give them
something. Immediately he made a sign to his officers to go call them, and
they went as readily.
There were seven or eight of those officers always about him,
stark-naked, and besmeared, some after one fashion and others after
another. Each of them had three or four calabashes, or gourds, hanging at
a leather girdle about their waists, in which there were several pebbles,
and behind them hung a horse’s tail, so that when they ran the gourds made
a rattling noise, and the tail being borne up by the wind, stood out at
its full length, so that nothing could be seen more ridiculous; but it
behooved us to take heed of showing the least smile.
The remaining part of the day was spent in going with Sieur Couture
to see the fatal river so much sought after by us, called Colbert, when
first discovered, and Mississippi, or Mechassippi, by the natives that
were near us. It is a very fine river, and deep; the breadth of it about
a quarter of a league, and the stream very rapid. The Sieur Couture
assured us that it has two branches or channels which parted from each
other above us, and that we had passed its other branch when we came to
the first village of the Accanceas, with which nation we still were.
The 28th, the chief and the elders being assembled, they granted our
requests. We were to part, in order to be entertained in several places,
where we took notice of some particular ceremonies, which we had not seen
among the other nations. One of them is, that they serve up their meat in
two or four large dishes, which are first set down before the two
principal guests, who are at one end, and when
they have eaten a little, those dishes are shoved down lower, and others
are served up in their place, in the same manner; so that the first dishes
are served at the upper end, and thrust down lower as others come in.
He who treats does not sit down with the company, nor does he eat,
but performs the part of a steward, taking care of the dressing and of the
placing of the meat served up; and to the end he may appear the finer, he
never fails to besmear himself with clay, or some red or black coloring
they make use of.
The 29th we set out from that village, and embarked on two canoes to
cross the Mississippi. The chief and about a score of young folks bore us
company to the next village, called Tonningua, seated on the bank of that
river, where we were received in the chief’s cottage, as we had been in
the others. The elders treated us in their turns, and the descriptions
before given will serve for this place, there being but little difference
between them and their neighbors.
The 30th, we set out for Cappa, the last village of the Accanceas,
eight leagues distant from the place we had left. We were obliged to
cross the river Mississippi several times in this way; because it winds
very much, and we had some foul weather, which made it late before we
could reach Cappa. A great number of youths came to meet us; some of them
conducted us to the chief’s cottage, and others took care of our baggage,
which was restored to us very honestly. We found the elders waiting for
us; a great fire was kindled to dry us, and the cottage was lighted by
several burning reeds, which they make use of instead of flambeaux; after
which we were served as in other places.
The 31st, we received visits from the elders. Their discourse ran
upon the war they designed to make, thinking to engage us in it, and we
returned the same answer as we had done to the others, that we should soon
return with all things we stood in need of. We asked a man of them, which
was granted, and the day ended in feasting.
We would willingly have set out the first of August; but the chief
came and told us it could not be, because the women had not pounded our
corn, which, however, was done; but they made use of that pretence to
oblige us to stay, and to have leisure to give us some diversion, after
their manner. Accordingly, about ten in the morning, the warriors and
youth came together to dance. They were dressed after their best manner,
some of them wearing plumes of several colors, wherewith they adorn their
heads; others, instead of feathers, had two bullocks’ horns, and were all
besmeared with clay, or black
and red, so that they really looked like a company of devils or monsters,
and in those figures they danced as I have described it, speaking of the
The 2d, we made ready to be going. The Indian given by the first
village for our guide, would not go any farther. A man, said to be a
hermaphrodite, offered to supply his place, saying he was willing to go to
the Illinois. We took leave of the Sieur Couture, to whom M. Cavelier
made an exhortation, encouraging him to persevere and have patience, in
hopes of the relief we would send him, and so we embarked on the
Mississippi in a canoe, being nine in number, that is, five of us, and the
four Indians that were our guides. We were obliged to cross that river
very often, and no less frequently to carry our canoe and goods, as well
on account of the rapidity of the river, and to find it slacker on the one
or the other side of it, which was very troublesome to our guides, as
because of the little islands we met with, which are formed by the
impetuous beating of the water upon the banks, that oppose its course,
where the channels happen not to lie straight; there it washes away the
earth, and bears down great trees, which in process of time form little
islands, that divide the channel. At night we encamped on one of those
small islands, for our greater safety, for we were then come into an
enemy’s nation, called Machigamea, which put our Indians into great
It is certain our toil was very great, for we were obliged to row in
the canoe, to help our Indians to stem the current of the river, because
we were going up, and it was very strong and rapid; we were often
necessitated to land, and sometimes to travel over miry lands, where we
sunk up halfway the leg; other times over burning sands, which scorched
our feet, having no shoes, or else over splinters of wood, which ran into
the soles of our feet, and when we were come to the resting place, we were
to provide fuel to dress our meat, and provide all things for our Indians,
who would not have done so much as go fetch a cup of water, though we were
on the bank of the river, and yet we were happy enough in having them.
We proceeded on, continually undergoing the same toil, till the 7th,
when we saw the first bullock we had met on our way since our coming among
the Accanceas. The Indians, who had a great mind to eat flesh, made a
sign to me, to go kill it. I pursued and shot, but it did not fall; the
Indians ran after, killed, and came to tell us it must be parched, or
dried, which was accordingly done. I
must here take notice of a ceremony our Indians performed when they came
near the bullock, before they flayed it.
In the first place they adorned his head with some swan’s and
bustard’s down, dyed red, and put some tobacco into his nostrils, and
between the clefts of the hoofs. When they had flayed him, they cut out
the tongue and put a bit of tobacco into its place; then they stuck two
wooden forks into the ground, laid a stick across them, on which they
placed several slices of the flesh, in the nature of an offering. The
ceremony being ended, we parched or dried the best parts of the beast, and
proceeded on our journey.
The 9th, we found the banks of the river very high, and the earth of
them yellow, red and white, and thither the natives came to furnish
themselves with it, to adorn their bodies on festival days. We held on
our way till the 14th, when we met a herd of bullocks, whereof we killed
five, dried part of them, and proceeded till the 18th.
The 19th, we came to the mouth of the river, called Houabache, said
to come from the country of the Iroquois, towards New England. That is a
very fine river, its water extraordinarily clear; and the current of it
gentle. Our Indians offered up to it, by way of sacrifice, some tobacco
and beefsteaks, which they fixed on forks, and left them on the bank, to
be disposed of as the river thought fit. We observed some other
superstitions among those poor people, one whereof was as follows.
There were some certain days on which they fasted, and we knew them,
when, as soon as they awaked, they besmeared their faces and arms, or
other parts of their bodies, with a slimy sort of earth, or pounded
charcoal; for that day they did not eat till ten or eleven of the clock at
night, and before they did eat they were to wipe off that smearing, and
had water brought them for that purpose. The occasion of their fasting
was, as they gave us to understand, that they might have good success in
hunting, and kill abundance of bullocks.
We held on our way till the 25th, when the Indians showed us a spring
of salt water, within a musket shot of us, and made us go ashore to view
it. We observed the ground about it was much beaten by bullocks’ feet,
and it is likely they love that salt water. The country about was full of
hillocks, covered with oaks and walnut trees, abundance of plum trees,
almost all the plums red and pretty good, besides great store of other
sorts of fruits, whose names we know not, and among them one shaped like a
pear, with stones in it as big as large beans. When ripe it peels like a
peach; the taste is indifferent good, but rather of the sweetest.
The 27th, having discovered a herd of beeves, we went ashore to kill
some; I shot a heifer, which was very good meat; we put aboard the best of
it, and held on our way till the evening, when we encamped on an island,
where we observed an alteration in the humor and behavior of our Indians.
This put us under some apprehension, and the more, for that he who was
reckoned a hermaphrodite, told us they intended to leave us, which obliged
us to secure our arms, and double our watch during the night, for fear
they should forsake us.
With that jealousy we proceeded on our journey the 28th and 29th,
coasting along the foot of an upright rock, about sixty or eighty feet
high, round which the river glides. Held on the 30th and 31st, and the
1st of September passed by the mouth of a river called Missouri, whose
water is always thick, and to which our Indians did not forget to offer
The 2d, we arrived at the place where the figure is of the pretended
monster spoken of by Father Marquet. That monster consists of two scurvy
figures drawn in red, on the flat side of a rock, about ten or twelve feet
high, which wants very much of the extraordinary height that relation
mentions. However, our Indians paid homage, by offering sacrifice to that
stone; though we endeavored to give them to understand that the said rock
had no manner of virtue, and that we worshipped something above it,
pointing up to heaven; but it was to no purpose, and they made signs to us
that they should die if they did not perform that duty. We proceeded,
coasting along a chain of mountains, and at length, on the 3d, left the
Mississippi, to enter the river of the Illinois.
We found a great alteration in that river, as well with respect to
its course, which is very gentle, as to the country about it, which is
much more agreeable and beautiful than that about the great river, by
reason of the many fine woods and variety of fruit its banks are adorned
with. It was a very great comfort to us to find so much ease in going up
that river, by reason of its gentle stream, so that we all stayed in the
canoe and made much more way.
Thus we went on till the 8th, without stopping any longer than to
kill a bullock, and one of our Indians, who had a craving stomach, having
eaten some of its suet hot and raw, was taken very ill, and died of it, as
I shall mention in its place.
The 9th, we came into a lake, about half a league over, which we
crossed, and returned into the channel of the river, on the banks whereof
we found several marks of the natives having been encamped there, when
they came to fish and dry what they caught. The 10th, we crossed another
lake, called Primitehouy, returned to the river, and the 11th, saw Indians
before us, encamped on the bank of a river, whereupon we stopped and made
ready our arms. In the meantime, one of them came towards us by land, and
we put on our canoe towards him.
When that Indian was near, he stood gazing on us without speaking a
word, and then drawing still nearer, we gave him to understand that we
were sent by M. de la Salle, and came from him. Then he made signs to us
to advance towards his people, whom he went before to acquaint with what
we had said to him, so that when we were come near them they fired several
shot to salute us, and we answered them with our firelocks.
After that mutual salutation, they came into our canoe to signify
they were glad to hear news of M. de la Salle. We asked them what nation
they were of; they answered, they were Illinois, of a canton called
Cascasquia. We inquired whether M. Tonty was at Fort Louis; they gave us
to understand that he was not, but that he was gone to the war against the
Iroquois. They invited us ashore to go with them to eat of such as they
had; we thanked them, and they brought us some gourds and watermelons, in
exchange for which we gave them some parched flesh.
We had not, by the way, taken notice of a canoe, in which was a man
with two women, who, being afraid of us, had hidden themselves among the
reeds; but that man seeing us stop among his countrymen, took heart, came
to us, and having told us that he belonged to a village near Fort Louis,
we set out together, and one of our Indians went into that canoe to help
them to shove, so they call the way of pushing on the canoe with poles
instead of rowing.
On Sunday, the 14th of September, about two in the afternoon, we came
into the neighborhood of Fort Louis. Drawing near, we were met by some
Indians that were on the bank, who having viewed us well, and
understanding we came from M. de la Salle, and that we belonged to him,
ran to the fort to carry the news, and immediately we saw a Frenchman come
out, with a company of Indians, who fired a volley of several pieces, to
salute us. Then the Frenchman drew near and desired us to come ashore,
which we did, leaving only one in the canoe to take care of our baggage,
for the Illinois are very sharp
at carrying off anything they can lay their hands on, and consequently
nothing near so honest as the nations we had passed through.
We all walked together towards the fort, and found three Frenchmen
coming to meet us, and among them a clerk who had belonged to the late M.
de la Salle. They immediately asked us where M. de la Salle was; we told
them he had brought us part of the way, and left us at a place about forty
leagues beyond the Cenis, and that he was then in good health. All that
was true enough; for M. Cavelier and I, who were the persons that then
spoke, were not present at M. de la Salle’s death; he was in good health
when he left us, and I have told the reasons we had for concealing his
death, till we came into France.
It is no less true that Father Anastasius, and he they called
Teissier, could have given a better account, the one as an eyewitness, and
the other as one of the murderers, and they were both with us; but to
avoid lying, they said nothing. We farther [sic] told them we had orders
to go over into France, to give an account of the discoveries made by M.
de la Salle, and to procure the sending of succors.
At length we entered the fort, where we found and surprised several
persons who did not expect us. All the French were under arms, and made
several discharges to welcome us. M. de la Belle Fontaine, lieutenant to
M. Tonty, was at the head of them, and complimented us. Then we were
conducted to the chapel, where we returned thanks to God, from the bottom
of our hearts, for having preserved and conducted us in safety; after
which we had our lodgings assigned us, M. Cavelier and Father Anastasius
had one chamber, and we were put into the magazine or warehouse. All this
while the natives came by intervals to fire their pieces, to express their
joy for our return, and for the news we brought of M. de la Salle, which
refreshed our sorrow for his misfortune, perceiving that his presence
would have settled all things advantageously.
The day after our arrival, one of the Indians who had conducted us
having been sick ever since he eat the raw beef suet I mentioned before,
died, and his companions took away and buried him privately. We gave them
the promised reward, and the part belonging to the dead man, to be
delivered to his relations. They stayed some time in the fort, during the
which we took extraordinary care of them, and at last they returned to
their own homes.
As far as we could gather by half words dropped there by one or other
at the fort, something had been done there prejudicial to the service of
M. de la Salle, and against his authority, and therefore
some dreaded his return, but more especially a Jesuit was in great
consternation. He was sick; M. Cavelier, Father Anastasius, and I, went
to visit him. He inquired very particularly of all points, and could not
conceal his trouble, which we would not seem to take notice of.
Our design being to make the best of our way to Canada, in order to
set out aboard the first French ships that should sail for France, we
inquired how we were to proceed, and met with several difficulties. The
navigation on that river was very dangerous by reason of the falls there
are in it, which must be carefully avoided, unless a man will run an
inevitable hazard of perishing. There were few persons capable of
managing that affair, and the war with the Iroquois made all men afraid.
However, the Sieur Boisrondet, clerk to the late M. de la Salle,
having told us he had a canoe in which he designed to go down to Canada,
we prepared to make use of that opportunity. Care was taken to gather
provisions for our voyage, to get furs to barter as we passed by
Micilimaquinay. The visits of two chiefs of nations, called Cascasquia
Peroueria and Cacahouanous, discovered by the late M. de la Salle, did not
interrupt our affairs, and all things being got ready we took leave of
those we left in the fort. M. Cavelier wrote a letter for M. Tonty, which
he left there to be delivered to him, and we repaired to the lake to
It would be needless to relate all the troubles and hardships we met
with in that journey; it was painful and fruitless, for having gone to the
bank of the lake in very foul weather, after waiting there five days for
that foul weather to cease, and after we had embarked, notwithstanding the
storm, we were obliged to put ashore again, to return to the place where
we had embarked, and there to dig a hole in the earth to bury our baggage
and provisions, to save the trouble of carrying them back to Fort Louis,
whither we returned, and arrived there the 7th of October, where they were
surprised to see us come back.
Thus were we obliged to continue in that fort all the rest of autumn
and part of the winter, to our great sorrow, and not so much for our own
disappointment as for being, by that means, obstructed from sending
succors as soon as we had expected, as well to the said fort as to those
French of our own company, whom we had left on the coast of the Bay of
It was then the good season for shooting. Those gentlemen at the
fort had secured two good Indian sportsmen, who never let us want
for wild-fowl of all sorts; besides we had good bread, and as good fruit,
and had there been anything to drink besides water, we had fared well.
The leisure we had during our stay there, gave me an opportunity of making
the following remarks, as well of my own observation, as what I learned of
the French residing there.
Fort Louis is in the country of the Illinois, and seated on a steep
rock, about two hundred feet high, the river running at the bottom of it.
It is only fortified with stakes and palisades, and some houses advancing
to the edge of the rock. It has a very spacious esplanade, or place of
arms. The place is naturally strong, and might be made so by art, with
little expense. Several of the natives live in it, in their huts. I
cannot give an account of the latitude it stands in, for want of proper
instruments to take an observation, but nothing can be pleasanter; and it
may be truly affirmed, that the country of the Illinois enjoys all that
can make it accomplished, not only as to ornament, but also for its
plentiful production of all things requisite for the support of human
The plain, which is watered by the river, is beautified by two small
hills, about half a league distant from the fort, and those hills are
covered with groves of oaks, walnut-trees, and other sorts I have named
elsewhere. The fields are full of grass, growing up very high. On the
sides of the hills is found a gravelly sort of stone, very fit to make
lime for building. There are also many clay-pits, fit for making of
earthenware, bricks, and tiles; and along the river there are coal-pits,
the coal whereof has been tried and found very good.
There is no reason to question but that there are in this country
mines of all sorts of metals, and of the richest, the climate being the
same as that of New Mexico. We saw several spots, where it appeared there
were iron mines, and found some pieces of it on the bank of the river,
which nature had cleansed. Travellers who have been at the upper part of
the Mississippi, affirm they have found mines there, of very good lead.
That country is one of the most temperate in the world, and
consequently whatsoever is sown there, whether herbs, roots, Indian, and
even European corn, thrives very well, as has been tried by the Sieur
Boisrondet, who sowed all sorts, and had a plentiful crop, and we eat of
the bread, which was very good. And whereas we were assured, that there
were vines which run up, whose grapes are very good and delicious, growing
along the river, it is reasonable to believe, that if those vines were
transplanted and pruned, there might
be very good wine made of them. There is also plenty of wild-apple and
pear-trees, and of several other sorts, which would afford excellent
fruit, were they grafted and transplanted.
All other sorts of fruit, as plums, peaches, and others, wherewith
the country abounds, would become exquisite, if the same industry were
used; and other sorts of fruit we have in France would thrive well, if
they were carried over. The earth produces a sort of hemp, whereof cloth
might be made and cordage.
As for the manners and customs of the Illinois, in many particulars
they are the same as those of the other nations we have seen. They are
naturally fierce and revengeful, and among them the toil of sowing,
planting, carrying of burdens, and doing all other things that belong to
the support of life, appertains peculiarly to the women. The men have no
other business but going to the war and hunting, and the women must fetch
the game when they have killed it, which sometimes they are to carry very
far to their dwellings, and there to parch, or dress it any other way.
When the corn, or other grain, is sown, the women secure it from the
birds till it comes up. Those birds are a sort of starlings, like ours in
France, but larger, and fly in great swarms.
The Illinois have but few children, and are extremely fond of them;
it is the custom among them, as well as others I have mentioned, never to
chide or beat them, but only to throw water at them, by way of
The nations we have spoken of before, are not at all, or very little,
addicted to thieving; but it is not so with the Illinois, and it behoves
every man to watch their feet as well as their hands, for they know how to
turn anything out of the way most dexterously. They are subject to the
general vice of all the other Indians, which is to boast very much of
their warlike exploits, and that is the main subject of their discourse,
and they are very great liars.
They pay a respect to their dead, as appears by their special care of
burying them, and even of putting into lofty coffins the bodies of such as
are considerable among them, as their chiefs and others, which is also
practised among the Accanceas, but they differ in this particular, that
the Accanceas weep and make their complaints for some days; whereas the
Chahouanous, and other people of the Illinois nation, do just the
contrary; for when any of them die, they wrap them up in skins, and then
put them into coffins made of the barks of trees, then sing and dance
about them for twenty-four hours. Those dancers take care to tie
calabashes or gourds about
their bodies, with some Indian wheat in them, to rattle and make a noise,
and some of them have a drum, made of a great earthen pot, on which they
extend a wild goat’s skin, and beat thereon with one stick, like our
During that rejoicing, they throw their presents on the coffin, as
bracelets, pendants, or pieces of earthenware, and strings of beads,
encouraging the singers to perform their duty well. If any friend happens
to come thither at that time, he immediately throws down his present, and
falls a singing and dancing like the rest. When that ceremony is over,
they bury the body, with part of the presents, making choice of such as
may be most proper for it. They also bury with it some store of Indian
wheat, with a pot to boil it in, for fear the dead person should be hungry
on his long journey; and they repeat the same ceremony at the year’s end.
A good number of presents still remaining, they divided them into
several lots, and play at a game, called of the stick, to give them to the
winner. That game is played, taking a short stick, very smooth and
greased, that it may be the harder to hold it fast. One of the elders
throws that stick as far as he can, the young men run after it, snatch it
from each other, and at last, he who remains possessed of it, has the
first lot. The stick is then thrown again; he who keeps it then has the
second lot, and so on to the end. The women, whose husbands have been
slain in war, often perform the same ceremony, and treat the singers and
dancers whom they have before invited.
The marriages of the Illinois last no longer than the parties agree
together; for they freely part after a hunting bout, each going which way
they please, without any ceremony. However, the men are jealous enough of
their wives, and when they catch them in a fault, they generally cut up
their noses, and I saw one who had been so served.
Nevertheless, adultery is not reckoned any great crime among them,
and there are women who make no secret of having had to do with Frenchmen.
Yet are they not sufficiently addicted to that vice to offer themselves,
and they never fall, unless they are sued to, when they are none of the
most difficult in the world to be prevailed on. The rest I leave to those
who have lived longer there than me.
We continued some time in Fort Louis without receiving any news. Our
business was, after having heard mass, which we had the good fortune to do
every day, to divert ourselves the best way we could. The Indian women
daily brought in something fresh; we
wanted not for watermelons, bread made of Indian corn, baked in the
embers, and other such things, and we rewarded them by little presents in
On the 27th of October, of the same year, M. Tonty returned from the
war with the Iroquois. Our embraces and the relation of our adventures
were repeated; but still concealing from him the death of M. de la Salle.
He told us all the particulars of that war, and said that the Iroquois
having got intelligence of the march of the French forces and their
allies, had all come out of their villages and laid themselves in ambush
by the way; but that having made a sudden and general discharge upon our
men, with their usual cries, yet without much harm done, they had been
repulsed with loss, took to flight, and by the way, burnt all their own
villages. That M. d’Hennonville, chief Governor of New France, had caused
the army to march, to burn the rest of their villages, set fire to their
country and corn, but would not proceed any farther. That afterwards he
had made himself master of the several canoes belonging to the English,
most of them laden with brandy, which had been plundered; that the English
had been sent prisoners to Montreal, they being come to make some attempt
upon the Illinois.
We continued after this manner, till the month of December, when two
men arrived from Montreal. They came to give notice to M. Tonty, that
three canoes, laden with merchandize, powder, ball, and other things, were
arrived at Chicagon; that there being too little water in the river, and
what there was being frozen, they could come no lower; so that it being
requisite to send men to fetch those things, M. Tonty desired the chief of
the Chahouanous to furnish him with people. That chief accordingly
provided forty, men as well as women, who set out with some Frenchmen.
The honesty of the Chahouanous was the reason of preferring them before
the Illinois, who are naturally knaves.
That ammunition and the merchandize were soon brought, and very
seasonably, the fort being then in want. We stayed there till the end of
February, 1688, at which time we fixed our resolution to depart, though we
had no news from Canada, as we expected. We found there were some canoes
ready to undertake that voyage, and we laid hold of that opportunity to
convey each other to the Micilimaquinay, where we hoped to meet some news
M. Cavelier, the priest, had taken care, before the death of M. de la
Salle, his brother, to get of him a letter of credit, to receive either a
sum of money or furs in the country of the Illinois. He tendered
that letter to M. Tonty, who believing M. de la Salle was still alive,
made no difficulty of giving him to the value of about 4000 livres in
furs, castor and otter skins, a canoe and other effects, for which the
said M. Cavelier gave him his note, and we prepared for our journey.
I have before observed that there was a Jesuit, whose name was
Dalouez, at Fort Louis, and who had been very much surprised to hear that
M. de la Salle was to come in a short time, being under great
apprehensions on account of a conspiracy intended to have been carried on
against M. de la Salle’s interest. That father perceiving our departure
was fixed, moved first, and went away foremost, to return to
Micilimaquinay; so that they were left without a priest at Fort Louis,
which was a great trouble to us, because we were the occasion of it, and
therefore, those who were to remain in the fort, anticipated the time, and
made their Easter, taking the advantage of the presence of F. Anastasius
and M. Cavelier.
At length, we set out the 21st of March, from Fort Louis. The Sieur
Boisrondet, who was desirous to return to France, joined us; we embarked
on the river, which was then become navigable, and before we had advanced
five leagues, met with a rapid stream which obliged us to go ashore, and
then again into the water, to draw along our canoe. I had the misfortune
to hurt one of my feet against a rock that lay under water, which troubled
me very much for a long time; and we being under a necessity of going
often into the water, I suffered extremely, and more than I had done since
our departure from the Gulf of Mexico.
We arrived at Chicagon on the 29th of March, and our first care was
to seek what we had concealed at our former voyage, having, as was there
said, buried our luggage and provisions. We found it had been opened, and
some furs and linen taken away, almost all of which belonged to me. This
had been done by a Frenchman, whom M. Tonty had sent from the fort during
the winter season, to know whether there were any canoes at Chicagon, and
whom he had directed to see whether anybody had meddled with what he had
concealed, and he made use of that advice to rob us.
The bad weather obliged us to stay in that place till April. That
time of rest was advantageous for the healing my foot; and there being but
very little game in that place, we had nothing but our meal or Indian
wheat to feed on; yet we discovered a kind of manna, which was a great
help to us. It was a sort of trees, resembling our maple, in which we
made incisions, whence flowed a sweet liquor,
and in it we boiled our Indian wheat, which made it delicious, sweet, and
of a very agreeable relish.
There being no sugar-canes in that country, those trees supplied that
liquor, which being boiled up and evaporated, turned into a kind of sugar
somewhat brownish, but very good. In the woods we found a sort of garlic,
not so strong as ours, and small onions very like ours in taste, and some
charvel of the same relish as that we have, but different in the leaf.
The weather being somewhat mended, we embarked again, and entered
upon the lake on the 5th of April, keeping to the north side to shun the
Iroquois. We had some storms also, and saw swelling waves like those of
the sea; but arrived safe on the 15th at a river called Quinetonan, near a
village, whence the inhabitants depart during the winter season, to go a
hunting, and reside there all the summer.
The sport is not there as in those countries from whence we came;
but, on the contrary, very poor, and we found nothing but some very lean
wild goats, and even those very rarely, because the wolves, which are very
numerous there, make a great havoc of them, taking and devouring great
numbers after this manner.
When the wolves have discovered a herd of wild goats, they rouse and
set them a running. The wild goats never fail to take to the first lake
they meet with. The hunting wolves, who are used to that, guard the banks
carefully, moving along the edges of them. The poor goats being pierced by
the cold of the lake, grow weary and so get out, or else the river
swelling forces them out with its waves, quite benumbed, so that they are
easily taken by their enemies, who devour them. We frequently saw those
wolves watching along the side of the lake, and kept off to avoid
frightening them, to the end the wild goats might quit their sanctuary,
that we might catch some of them, as it sometimes fell out.
The 28th, we arrived among the Poutouatannis, which is half way to
Micilimaquinay, where we purchased some Indian corn for the rest of our
voyage. We found no news there from Montreal, and were forced to stay
some time to wait an opportunity to go down the river, no man daring to
venture, because of the war with the Iroquois.
There are some Frenchmen in that place, and four Jesuits, who have a
house well built with timber, enclosed with stakes and palisades. There
are also some Hurons and Outahouacs, two neighboring nations, whom those
fathers take care to instruct, not without
very much trouble, those people being downright libertines, and there are
very often none but a few women in their churches. Those fathers have each
of them the charge of instructing a nation, and to that effect have
translated the proper prayers into the language peculiar to each of them,
as also all other things relating to the Catholic faith and religion.
They offered Father Anastasius and M. Cavelier a room, which they
accepted of, and we took up our lodging in a little hovel some travellers
had made. There we continued the rest of May and part of June, till after
the feast of Whitsuntide. The natives of the country about till the land
and sow Indian corn, melons and gourds, but they do not thrive so well as
in the country we came from. However, they live on them, and besides they
have fish they catch in the lake, for flesh is very scarce among them.
On the 4th of June, there arrived four canoes, commanded by M. de
Porneuf, coming from Montreal, and bringing news from the Marquis
d’Hennonville, and orders to send to the settlements which were towards
the Lake des Puans and others higher up, towards the source of the river
Colbert, to know the posture and condition of affairs. We prepared to be
gone with the two canoes. M. Cavelier bought another, to carry our
baggage, and left part of his furs with a merchant, who gave him a note to
receive money at Montreal. I did the same with those few furs I had, the
rest of them having been left at Micilimaquinay.
We took leave of the Jesuits, and set out in four canoes, viz., two
belonging to M. de Porneuf, and two to M. Cavelier, one of which had been
brought from Fort Louis, and the other bought as I have just now said, we
being twenty-nine of us in those four canoes. We rowed on till the 24th,
when M. de Porneuf left us to go to St. Mary’s Fall, to carry the orders
given him. The 25th we got out of the lake of the Illinois, to enter that
of the Hurons, on the banks whereof stands the village called Tessalon,
where M. de Porneuf came again to us, with a canoe of the natives, and
with him we held on our way.
We proceeded to Chebonany the 30th of June, and the 3d of July
entered the French river, where we were forced several times to carry our
canoes to avoid the falls and the rapid streams, observing as we went a
barren and dry country, full of rocks, on which grew cedar and fir trees,
which take root in the clefts of those rocks.
The 5th, we entered upon the little lake of Nipicingue, adjoining to
a nation of that name. We got out of it again and entered upon
the great river, where, after having passed the great fall, we arrived the
13th at the point of the island of Montreal. We landed at a village
called Lachine, which had belonged to the late M. de la Salle. M.
Cavelier set out the 14th for Montreal, where we came to him the 17th.
At Montreal we found the Marquis d’Hennonville, M. de Noroy the
Intendant, and other gentlemen, to whom we gave an account of our long and
painful travels, with the particulars of what we had seen, which they
listened to with satisfaction, but without mentioning M. de la Salle’s
death. We told them the occasion of our going over into France, and they
approved of it, being of opinion with us that we ought to hasten our
departure as much as possible.
We made us some clothes, whereof we stood in need. The Sieur
Teissier, who came along with us, and was of the reformed religion,
knowing the exercise of it was forbid in France, abjured it in the great
church of Montreal.
The 27th, we went aboard a bark to go down the river to Quebec, where
we arrived the 29th. Father Anastasius carried us to the monastery of the
fathers of his order, seated half a league from the town, on a little
river, where we were most kindly received by the father-guardian and the
other religious men, who expressed much joy to see us, and we still more
for being in a place of safety, after so many perils and toils, for which
we returned our humble thanks to Almighty God, our protector.
We chose rather to take up our lodging there than in the town, to
avoid the visits and troublesome questions every one would be putting to
us with much importunity, which we must have been obliged to bear
patiently. M. Cavelier and his nephew, whom we had left at Montreal,
arrived some days after us, and were lodged in the Seminary.
We stayed in that monastery till the 21st of August, when we embarked
in a large boat, eighteen persons of us, to go down the river of St.
Lawrence, aboard a ship, that was taking in and fishing of cod; we went
aboard it the 30th of the same month, and after hearing mass, made ready
and sailed for our dear country; arrived safe at Rochelle on Saturday, the
9th of October, 1688, whence setting out by land, the 15th, the same
Providence, which had protected and conducted us, brought us without any
misfortune to Rouen, the 7th of October, the same year.