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Louisiana Anthology

B. F. French, Editor.
Historical Collections of Louisiana.
Part 1: 1678-1691.

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Louisiana Map

Honorary Member of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania; corresponding Member of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, etc.



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1846, by
in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the Southern District of New York.



New Orleans, No. 175 Carondelet street.


  1. Introduction
  2. Discourse delivered before the Historical Society of Louisiana
  3. Memoir of Robert Cavelier de la Salle on the necessity of fitting out an Expedition to take possession of Louisiana
  4. Letters Patent to the Sieur de la Salle
  5. Memoir of the Sieur de la Salle, reporting to Monseigneur de Seignelay the Discoveries made by him under the order of his Majesty
  6. Account (Procès Verbal) of the taking possession of Louisiana by M. de la Salle
  7. Will of M. de la Salle
  8. Memoir sent in 1693, on the discovery of the Mississippi, and the neighboring Nations, by M. de la salle, from the year 1678 to the time of his Death, and by the Sieur de Tonty to the year 1691
  9. Chevalier de Tonty’s Petition to the King
  10. Chevalier de Tonty’s Account of the Route from the Illinois by the River Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico
  11. Joutel’s Historical Journal of M. de la Salle’s last Voyage to discover the River Mississippi
  12. Account of the Discovery of the River Mississippi and the adjacent Country by Father Louis Hennepin
  13. Account of M de la Salle’s Undertaking to discover the River Mississippi by way of the Gulf of Mexico, by Father Louis Hennepin


ALL that extensive tract of country, formerly known by the name of Louisiana, bounded on the east by the Rio Perdido, west by the Rio del Norte, and stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to the shores of the Pacific Ocean, embracing the present disputed country of Oregon, was claimed by France, by right of contiguity, discovery and settlement, as a part of her territorial possessions in North America, in the seventeenth century. As early as 1673 the discovery of the Mississippi river was accomplished by Father Marquette and Sieur Joliet who explored it to the Indian village of the Kappas, on the Arkansas river; and there, having satisfied themselves that it emptied into the Gulf of Mexico, to the west of Florida, they set out for Canada on the 17th of July. Sieur Joliet returned to Quebec to announce the discovery, while the holy father tarried by the way to preach the gospel to the Miamies of the lake. For two years he toiled to convert the heathen, and expound to them the mysteries of the Catholic faith. Coasting the lake from Chicago to Mackinaw, on his holy mission, he landed on the banks of a stream, now bearing his name, which flows into Lake Michigan, and erected an altar. He then requested to be left alone; and, while offering up solemn thanks and supplication, he fell asleep to wake no more. “A light breeze from the lake sighed his requiem, and the Algonquin nation became his mourners.” Thus perished the discoverer of the river Mississippi. But the honor of perfecting the exploration of the Father of Waters, and the taking possession of the country which he named Louisiana; was reserved for the most extraordinary man of his age, Robert Cavelier de la Salle. He was a native of France; and when the attention of Europe, in the seventeenth century, was directed to the colonization of North America, he turned his steps thither. Under the patronage of Louis XIV., he explored the great lakes of the North; and subsequently returning to France, he was rewarded for his services with a title of nobility, and a grant of lands around and including Fort Frontenac. He then returned to Canada, and occupied himself in rebuilding his fort, and pursuing his discoveries to the West.

Robert Cavelier de la Salle
Robert Cavelier de la Salle.

In 1677, he re-visited France, and offered to Seignelay, the son of the Great Colbert, his plans to explore the river Mississippi to its mouth, and establish a chain of military posts to connect the great valley of the West with the French possessions in Canada. Letters patent were accordingly issued. Accompanied by the faithful Chevalier de Tonty, he returned to Canada; and, in February, 1682, set out on his expedition to explore the Mississippi, the mouths of which he reached on the 9th of April, and on the same day he planted the arms of France on its banks, took possession of the country in the name of his sovereign, and gave it the name of LOUISIANA. He once more returned to France. In 1684, he set out with an expedition of four ships and two hundred and eighty persons, with full powers from his sovereign to build forts and colonize Louisiana. On this occasion he was fortunate in selecting a friend, M. Joutel, who proved no less faithful than the Chevalier de Tonty, and who ultimately became the historian of the first colony planted in Louisiana. The Historical Journal of M. Joutel, a work extremely rare and interesting, will be found printed in this volume. M. la Salle finally arrived in the Gulf of Mexico, but being deceived in his reckoning, he passed the mouths of the Mississippi, and after much difficulty he effected a landing in the bay of St. Bernard (now Matagorda), where he built a fort. At this time, no Spanish settlement was nearer than Panuco — and no French settlement than Illinois. After making repeated attempts to find the Mississippi, M. la Salle, with a party of sixteen men, in 1687, set out for Canada in quest of supplies, leaving the remainder of the colony at Fort St. Louis. On the 20th of March he reached one of the branches of the Trinity, with his party, when he was assassinated by one of his turbulent companions. “Thus perished,” says Father Anastase, “our wise conductor — constant in adversities, intrepid, generous, skilful, and capable of anything. He died in the vigor of life; in the midst of his career and labors, without the consolation of having seen their results.” M. la Salle was universally regarded as the father of French colonization in the great Valley of the West. In 1698, the Canadian brothers, D’Iberville, Bienville, and Sauvole, set sail in two frigates, with about two hundred settlers, for the Gulf of Mexico, to make a settlement on the Mississippi, and to establish a direct intercourse between France and Louisiana. They reached the Chandeleur Islands in January, 1699, where the fleet cast anchor. In two barges the brothers sought the Mississippi, and ascended it to the pillage of the Bayagoulas. After remaining there a few days to explore the country, they returned through the lakes Maurepas and Pontchartrain, and founded the colony at Old Biloxi. In 1712, the king of France granted to the Sieur Crozat the exclusive trade of Louisiana; and, in 1717, he relinquished it to the company of the Indies, at the head of which was the celebrated financier, John Law. In 1722, the head-quarters were transferred from Biloxi to New Orleans; and, in 1732, the Western Company surrendered their grant to the king.

In 1762, by a secret treaty between the courts of Versailles and Madrid, this country was ceded to Spain. The French colonists openly resisted the Spanish government, but the rebellion was finally quelled by the arrival of General O’Reilly, who took possession of the country in 1769. In 1800, Spain retroceded Louisiana to France; and, in 1803, France sold the country to the United States for fifteen millions of dollars. In offering these few historical remarks, my object is to point out some of the most remarkable epochs in the history of Louisiana, under which I shall arrange the materials in my possession, — first publishing those relating to the discovery and settlement of the country, and proceeding, in regular order, to the beginning of the nineteenth century. Among these will be found many rare and important documents, calculated to throw much light on the motives and policy of France and Spain in their government of this country. It is well known, that while this country was in their possession, it was almost inaccessible to the people of the American colonies. Their vessels were interdicted from entering their ports, and other acts of surveillance enforced. The Spanish government, in particular, was always actuated by a jealous and intricate policy, and the colonial archives of each government, as they succeeded each other, were sent either to Paris or Madrid, and there locked up from the scrutiny of the world. Its colonial history has been, therefore, but little understood, and much ignorance still prevails in regard to it. In thrilling incidents, and the glitter and pomp of martial expeditions, the history of Louisiana is, perhaps, not inferior in interest to any of the states of the Union; while the records of the trial of Lafreniere, Noyan, Mazan, Marquis, Villeré, Carère, Boisblanc, Petit, Milhet, Poupet, Doucet, Foucault and Bienville, will develop a deep-laid plan to rid this country of Spanish tyranny, and establish a republic on the plan of the Swiss Cantons. In 1765, deputies were sent to the English governor of Pensacola to solicit the aid of the English government in behalf of this project; but England was at that time too much engaged in keeping down the republican spirit of her own rebellious colonies to listen to or countenance any overtures of that nature. It will thus be seen that the sentiments of Liberty and Independence were not confined, at this early period, to the master-spirits of the East, but animated alike the bosoms of patriots throughout the whole extent of North America.




At our preliminary meeting you were pleased to request me to read to you, at this time, a paper upon the expediency and utility of establishing a Historical Society in this State. The same causes which kept me from the discharge of public duties during the last summer and autumn, prevented my making any adequate preparation for this occasion, and the few remarks which I have to offer, are intended to evince my zeal in the cause which has called us together, and my ready obedience to your call, rather than as at all worthy of the subject or the occasion.

To minds exclusively devoted to the pursuit of wealth, and bending all their energies to that single purpose, it would seem a startling proposition, that there could be anything either of interest or utility in inquiries into the history of the first discovery and settlement of Louisiana by Europeans; in rescuing from threatened oblivion the records of its first colonization; in efforts to bring to light and to perpetuate, by means of the press, all such documents as would form the elements of an authentic history of our multiform population, and the successive changes in the forms of colonial government, and the progress of its settlement under the different sovereigns who have successively ruled this country. But the time has arrived, I trust, when pursuits of a character purely literary, will have their value among us; when those who engage in researches, having only truth for their object, although barren of immediate results, will be regarded as contributing in some measure to the public good, by adding something to the stock of our national literature. As contemporary history is liable to be discolored by interest, by prejudice and passion, each generation, as it passes away, is under obligations to its successors to furnish them those authentic materials for which alone its true character can be known to posterity, and to perpetuate the public documents and correspondence which accompany and explain every public transaction. But we, who are enjoying the fruits of the labors, and fatigues, and sufferings of our predecessors, owe it also to their memory, to snatch from oblivion the record of their actions, and no longer to leave their fame to rest on the loose, and garbled, and exaggerated narrations of contemporary writers, or catch-penny authors of what the world calls history. History, Gentlemen, as it is generally written, is at best but an approximation to truth, I had almost said, an approximation to probability.

It is true the exaggerated and marvellous statements of travellers, or discoverers and settlers, as to physical features and productions of a new country, and the characters of its aboriginal inhabitants, may easily be corrected by subsequent observation and experience. The width of the Mississippi, for example, below this capital, had dwindled from a league to less than a mile; St. Louis is no longer in latitude 45 north, and 276 longitude; quarries of emeralds, silver mines and gold dust, are nowhere found in Louisiana. But the narratives of events and transactions, by real or pretended eye-witnesses, or by the authors of histories and memoirs, can only be tested by reference to authentic records, or by their own intrinsic evidence of their falsity or truth. This latter test is not always to be relied on, for the true is not always probable. Tradition, ornamented and colored by fiction, has always proved, from the earliest records of our race, a large ingredient in the composition of history. Hence the origin and early annals, not only of the people and states of antiquity, but of many of comparatively modern date, are involved in mystery and fable. But it would be a matter of just reproach, if a people, whose first lodgment on the continent was made long since the discovery of the art of printing; whose entire annals embrace a period of the highest civilisation; if such a people, I say, should suffer to perish the muniments of its early history, and the mists of fiction to settle on its origin and progress.

In many of the States of this Union, of British origin, historical societies have been organized, whose labors have been eminently successful. A mass of materials has been accumulated and preserved by means of the press, which excludes the possibility of future misrepresentations in regard to the true history of the country, and the times to which they relate. It is singularly interesting to look at the conduct and characters of our ancestors through such a medium. We see them as they were; we hear them speak the language of their own age; we are brought in immediate contact with the founders of our rising empire; we trace the gradual progress of their settlement, from the sea-board to the interior; we witness their privations, their sufferings, their unflinching firmness and constancy of purpose. At a more recent period, we are introduced into the primitive assemblies of the people; we observe the gradual development of those opinions and principles, which at this day lay at the foundation of our free popular institutions; the first discussed, when the threatened encroachments of power upon right were met and resisted, and the blood of the Barons of Runymeade cried out for Magna Charta, in the wilderness of a new world.

Gentlemen, the field of research which we propose to explore, is vast and in a great measure new. It is proposed to extend our inquiries into the history of all that country formerly possessed by France and Spain, under the name of Louisiane; to endeavor to bring to light and to perpetuate by means the press, all authentic papers relating thereto; to collect interesting traditions, private histories and correspondences, and pictures of manners; to investigate the progress of our jurisprudence; the state of religion, and the condition of the Indian tribes in that whole region.

It is obvious that many of the original documents and records, relating to the settlement and colonization of that extensive region, must exist in the public archives at Paris, Madrid, and Seville, as well as the Havana; some in the archives of the former government in this city, at St. Louis and Natchez; others again at notaries’ offices, here; in the parochial records of the different posts in the interior, and much interesting matter in possession of the families of some of the earlier settlers of the country. It is becoming more and more difficult every day, to bring together from sources so various and so widely dispersed, such memorials as may yet exist. It is time, therefore, to begin the work in earnest and methodically.

Before I proceed, Gentlemen, to make a few remarks on the several heads into which the programme of our proposed researches is naturally divided, let us pause and take a momentary survey of the population of the country as it exists, whose origin and first establishment it will become us to investigate more minutely in the progress of our labors. Like the rich soil upon our great rivers, the population may be said to be alluvial; composed of distinctly colored strata, not yet perfectly amalgamated; left by successive waves of emigration. Here we trace the gay, light-hearted, brave chivalry of France; the more impassioned and devoted Spaniard; the untiring industry and perseverance of the German, and the bluff sturdiness of the British race. Here were thrown the wreck of Acadie, and the descendants of those unhappy fugitives still exist in various parts of this State. Little colonies from Spain, or the Spanish islands on the coast of Africa, were scattered in different parts of the country. Such were New Iberia in Attakapas, Valenzuela in Lafourche, Terre aux Bœufs and Galvezton. They still retain, to a certain extent, their language, manners and pursuits. There are, in the Western District, some families of Gipsey origin, who still retain the peculiar complexion and wildness of eye, that characterize that singular race.

The traces of the Canadian hunter and boatman are not yet entirely effaced. The Germans, I believe, have totally lost the language of their fatherland. The country of the German coast is, perhaps, the only existing memorial of the celebrated John Law, the author of the most stupendous scheme of banking, and stock-jobbing, and fraud, that was ever practised on the credulity of modern times. Among the earliest concessions of land in the province, was one in favor of Law, situated on the Arkansas, and prior to the settlement of New Orleans; he had sent over a small colony of Germans to take possession and improve it; but on the downfall of the grantee, his colonists broke up the establishment, and returned to this city, where they obtained, each for himself, a small grant of land on the Mississippi, at a place which has ever since been called the German coast. The little colonies of Spaniards at New Iberia and Terre aux Bœufs, never had any written concessions, they were put in possession by the public surveyor, and it was not until long since the change of government, that their descendants obtained an authentic recognition of their title from the United States. But time does not permit me to pursue this subject any farther; these few hints are intended merely to direct your attention to it, as one of curious interest.

I proceed, Gentlemen, to submit a few remarks on some of the several heads of our proposed plan. 1st, The general history of the province from its first discovery to the present day. 2d, The progress of our jurisprudence and state of religion; and 3d, The condition of the Indian tribes. It is, by no means, my purpose to attempt to give you a full view of the present state of our knowledge on these topics, much less to collate or criticise the various histories and memoirs which have appeared, even if I were capable of the task. But let us see in what particulars our knowledge is clearly defective, and whether it be probable that by proper diligence the deficiency may be supplied, and errors or misrepresentations corrected. The successive changes of government form, naturally, the epochs of our history.

  1. The first extends from the discovery of the mouth of the Mississippi by La Salle in 1681, from the interior, by way of the Lakes, until the grant to Crozat in 1712.
  2. 2d, Under the monopoly of Crozat, until 1717.
  3. 3d, Under the administration of the Western Company, until the surrender of their grant, 1732.
  4. 4th, Under the direct authority of the crown of France, until the final delivery of the province to Spain, 1769, in pursuance of the treaty of Paris. 5th, Under the government of Spain, until the treaty of cession in 1803;
  5. and lastly, as an integral part of the United States, whether as a territory or a state.

I. I think it cannot be controverted, that Robert Cavelier de la Salle first discovered the mouth of the Mississippi on the 7th of April, 1682. Accompanied by the Chevalier de Tonti, and a few followers, he descended from the mouth of the Illinois to the Gulf of Mexico, passing through numerous tribes of Indians, not in hostile array, but his most effectual arms, the Calumet of peace. De la Salle was, without doubt, a man of great energy and enterprise, ardent and brave, sagacious and prudent, and of conciliatory manners. He appears to have been, at the same time, feared, respected, and even beloved by the natives. I should not have considered it necessary to mention this fact of the first discovery, as one well settled, if attempts had not been made to create some doubts about it, if not to deprive him of that honor, and to confer it upon Father Louis Hennepin, a missionary of the order of St. Francis. In the first volume of “The Condensed Geography and History of the Western States, or the Mississippi Valley,” published a few years ago at Cincinnati, under the particular head of “history,” not a word is said of De la Salle having explored the course of the river as far as the Gulf, and of his having taken formal possession of the country, in the name of the King of France. On the contrary, it is asserted, that in the spring of the previous year, Hennepin, who had been instructed, in the absence of De la Salle, to explore the sources of the river, finding it easier to descend than to ascend, had proceedcd down and reached the Balize in sixteen days, “if his word can be taken for it,” says the author, from the time of his departure from the mouth of the Illinois.

In the next place, the author represents that De la Salle, in 1683, after laying the foundations of Cahokia and Kaskaskia, left M. de Tonti in command of those establishments, returned to Canada, and thence made all haste to France, to solicit the co-operation of the French Ministry in his views. In addition to the utter improbability of this whole story, it is completely refuted by the testimony of the Reverend Father himself. His first publication after his return to France, and the first edition of it, is now in my possession. It was published on the 5th of January, 1683, the author being then in Paris, and was dedicated to the king of France. The work is entitled, “Description de la Louisiane nouvellement découverte au sud-oüest de la Nouvelle France.” He gives a minute account of his voyage from the mouth of the Illinois, to a considerable distance above the Falls of St. Anthony; of his captivity, during eight months, among the Indians of the Upper Mississippi; and finally, of his return to some of the French posts in Canada about Whitsuntide (May), 1681. The “Privilège du Roi,” for the publication of this first work of Hennepin, was granted on the 3d of September, 1682. Not only is the author silent as to any voyage by himself down the river as far as the Gulf of Mexico, or of his having descended below the mouth of Illinois, but the concluding paragraph shows conclusively, that he at that time set up no such pretensions. He says, in conclusion, “They sent me word, this year (1682), from New France, that M. de la Salle, finding that I had made peace with the tribes of the north and the north-west, situated more than five hundred leagues above, on the river Colbert (Mississippi), who were at war with the Illinois and the nations of the south, this brave captain, governor of Fort Frontenac, who, by his zeal and courage, throws new lustre on the names of the Caveliers, his ancestors, descended last year with his followers, and our Franciscans, as far as the mouth of the great river Colbert, and to the sea, and that he traversed unknown nations, some of whom are civilized.

It is believed he is about to return to France, in order to give the court a more ample knowledge of the whole of Louisiana, which we may call the delight and terrestrial paradise of America. The king might form there an empire, which, in a short time, will become flourishing in spite of the opposition of any foreign power.”

In another part of the same work, the good Father says,” We had some intention to descend as far as the mouth of the river Colbert, which probably empties into the Gulf of Mexico, rather than into the Vermilion Sea; but those natives who had arrested us, did not allow us time to navigate the river both above and below.” Here is a formal disclaimer of any discovery made by Hennepin, and an announcement that the discovery had been made by another; and yet the author of the Condensed History and Geography of the Western States represents Hennepin, I know not on what authority, as having reached the Gulf of Mexico on the 25th of March, 1680; a period when, according to his own account of himself, he was struggling in a frail canoe, against the ice and currents above the mouth of Missouri. One is tempted to repeat the reflection of Voltaire, “c’est ainsi que l’on écrit l’histoire.”

Father Hennepin did not certainly much overrate the great natural fertility and resources of Louisiana. But it is not a little remarkable, slow and lingering were the first attempts to colonize it, although made under the immediate auspices of the crown of France. The most superficial reader of history cannot have failed to remark the different spirit which characterizes the colonization of this continent by Spain, France and England. The Spaniard came for conquest and for gold; regarding the aborigines as enemies to God; no alternative was left them but the cross, or the edge of the sword; even submission did not save them from the most abject and oppressive servitude. France, on the contrary, cultivated the good will of the natives, and was, in general, eminently successful in gaining their friendship, so far at least as relates to Louisiana; commerce with them, in the natural productions of the country, seems to have been their primary object. Trade, in fact, was the basis of her colonial policy; trade, too, not open to all her subjects, but in the hands of monopolists by grants from the crown, and maintained in the enjoyment of it by naval and military power. The first establishments of the French were rather trading houses than colonies. The English colonies, on the contrary, were for the most part the offspring of individual enterprise. The basis of their system was agriculture combined with commerce; they brought with them their household gods; they sought a permanent abiding place, for themselves and their posterity; many of them, far from enjoying the patronage and protection of the crown, fled from persecution and intolerance. They came, and as soon as private interest began to operate freely, on a soil comparatively sterile, and in a rigorous climate, the country was converted into a garden.

The English colonists brought with them the germ of popular self-government; at very early periods, they made laws for themselves, sometimes in assemblies purely democratic; generally through their representatives, laws suited to their conditions and their wants. In the colonies of France and Spain, on the contrary, except in matters of mere local police, all laws and regulations came over the ocean. Trade in its most minute ramifications, even domestic trade, was fettered with precise tariffs of prices and profits, instead of being left open to free competition. According to a regulation established by the Western Company, 1721, the price of a slave sold to the colonists by the proprietary company, was fixed at six hundred livres, on a credit of one, two and three years; tobacco, in leaf or twist, was bought at their warehouses at the rate of twenty- five livres per hundred; rice, at twelve livres the quintal; peltries and furs had their fixed prices. French goods were sold at Biloxi, Mobile and New Orleans, at five per cent. advance on the invoice price in France; at Natchez and Yazoo at seventy per cent. profit; at Natchitoches and Arkansas, at eighty per cent., and at one hundred per cent. in Illinois. The price of wine was one hundred and twenty livres the barrique.

There sprung out of this spirit of petty traffic, a class of characters altogether unique and unknown elsewhere, called “coureurs des bois,” half pedlers and half hunters, with a little finish of the broker. It was through their agency that goods imported from France, were pushed into the most remote settlements of the country and to the Indian villages, and exchanged for the productions of the country. When I first came to this country, I knew some old decrepid men of that class; crippled, frost-bitten, and yet at an extreme old age retaining a singular predilection for that wandering, half savage life, and still dressed in skins, with leggins and moccasins.

Appended to the regulations of the Western Company, to which I have alluded, was a strong recommendation, which I mention, to show how singularly it has been neglected up to the present day. The company earnestly recommend to the colonists, to cultivate silk, to plant out mulberry trees, and offers as high a price for raw silk, as it now bears in the best market. They were sensible that perhaps no country on earth was better suited to that branch of industry; that the mulberry is indigenous in every part of the province, and grows with great luxuriance, and is among the first trees to put forth its foliage in the spring. This recommendation seems to have been totally neglected, until more lucrative staples were introduced, which now engross the whole industry and capital of the country. But the time may yet come, when the raising of silk, a beautiful branch of industry, which in fact would not interfere with more heavy crops, will become extensive, as it could not fail to become lucrative in this country. The first colonists made two or three successive selections of a capital for their new colony, that were injudicious in the extreme; Dauphine island and the two Biloxis, all sandy barrens. More than twenty years after the establishment, they depended almost exclusively on France, Vera Cruz and the Havana, for a supply of provisions, and in the vicinity of the richest soil in the world, the people were threatened with famine. It was not until those places were finally abandoned, after the surrender of his charter by Crozat, and a change of system under the administration of the Western Company, that the great resources of the country began to develope themselves; numerous grants of land were then made, and agriculture began to take a start. On this part of our early history, little need be said at this time; but I should be wanting to myself, as well as the occasion, if I failed to make honorable mention of the production of our best historian, whose labors have thrown important light upon every part of our history, without omitting many minute and interesting details on this part in particular. Historical literature is deeply indebted to my learned and distinguished friend and colleague, Judge Martin. His work, while it evinces great labor and research, proves at the same time how scattered and fugitive are the materials employed by him in its composition, and how difficult, if not impossible, it would be for a reader to satisfy his curiosity by resorting to the original sources of information from which the author drew. He appears to have had access to manuscripts which have never been published, but which it is not, perhaps, too late to arrest from oblivion. It must be confessed, that at the breaking out of the war of 1756, France possessed on this continent the basis of a splendid empire. Her possessions embraced on the south the mouth of the Mississippi, and on the north, that of the St. Lawrence, stretching through the heart of the continent, and covering the great central valley of the Mississippi and the Northern Lakes. Louisiana, though by far the most important and interesting portion of her domain, had made but little progress, and was regarded as an appendage to Canada. That war, it is well known, was disastrous to the arms of France, and at the pacification in 1762, she was stripped of all her possessions in North America, except that part of the ancient province of Louisiana west of the Mississippi, together with the island of Orleans. Simultaneously with the treaty of peace, France ceded to Spain the remnant of her possessions on this continent. With this treaty commenced a new era for Louisiana. Its ancient forms of administration, and its entire system of laws, were changed.

This transition was attended by afflicting events to the ancient population of the province, attached as they were to the land of their origin. Such was the delay attending the delivery of the province to Spain, that the people began to entertain a hope that the transfer itself was a mere simulation, for the purpose of securing Louisiana to the crown of France, against the hazard of future wars. It was not until 1766, that Don Antonio de Ulloa was sent over to receive possession, in pursuance of previous instructions given by the king of France to D’Abbadie. There hangs over the conduct of Don Antonio, an extraordinary mystery; although he remained two years in the province at the head of a military force, he appears never to have taken formal possession of the country, and was finally compelled to withdraw, on his refusal to furnish the council his powers and instructions from the king of Spain. I am not aware that his report to his government has ever been made public. We are, however, fully warranted in believing that such a report was made, and that it formed the motive or the pretext for the sanguinary orders subsequently given to his successor, and led to the fatal catastrophe which ensued. If such a document exists, as we have every reason to suppose, a copy might be procured from Spain, and would throw great light on an obscure and interesting crisis in our annals. The bloody tragedy which followed on the arrival of Don Alexandro O’Reilly next year, the total abolition of the council, and the introduction of the laws of Spain, as over a conquered people, are well known. Until recently, however, the extent of O’Reilly’s powers was a matter of conjecture; and although the courts have uniformly considered the whole body of the Spanish law as in force from the date of his proclamation and the French jurisprudence as abrogated, yet they were compelled, in a great measure, to judge of the extent of his authority by his official acts. Within a couple of years, documents have come to light, through the agency of our late Minister at Madrid, which go to prove, not only his original powers, but the approbation of the court of Spain of all his proceedings.

Among other documents thus procured, is a copy of a royal order of the 28th of January, 1771, in which the king declares that he had in 1765 appointed Don Antonio de Ulloa to proceed to the province of Louisiana, and to take possession as governor, making, however, no innovation in its system of government, which was to be entirely independent of the laws and usages observed in his American dominions, but considering it as a distinct colony, having even no commerce with his said dominions, and to remain under the control of its own administration, council, and other tribunals. But he goes on to say, the inhabitants having rebelled in October, 1768, he had commissioned Don Alexandro O’Reilly to proceed thither, and take formal possession, chastise the ringleaders, and to annex that province to the rest of his dominions. That his orders had been obeyed, the council abolished, and a cabildo established in its place, and the Spanish laws adopted. He proceeds to ratify and confirm all that had been done, and directs that Louisiana shall be united, as to its spiritual concerns, to the Bishopric of the Havana, and governed conformably to the laws of the Indies. It was made a dependency of the Captain-generalship and royal Hacienda of the island of Cuba, and as relates to the administration of justice, a special tribunal was created, consisting of the Captain-general as president, the auditors of war and marine, the attorney of the Hacienda, and the notary of the government. To this tribunal appeals were to go, and from it to the council at Seville, without resorting to the audiencia of St. Domingo.

O’Reilly appears to have made a detailed report of his proceedings, consisting of six distinct statements. These statements have never, probably, been made public in extenso, but another document, procured at the same time at Madrid, contains a minute analysis of them. I allude to a report made to the king by the Council and Chamber of the Indies, to whom the whole matters had been referred. It is filled with the most extravagant encomiums upon O’Reilly. The profoundness of his comprehension, the sublimity of his spirit, the correctness of his judgment, the admirable energy displayed in his provisions for the civil, economical, and political government, his delicate knowledge and acute discernment of the laws of both kingdoms, as well as of the practical and forensic styles of the courts, — all these are set forth in the most pompous and sonorous phraseology of choice Castilian. By way of finish to this picture, and in the spirit of the most sublime bathos, the council adds, “that by the admirable arrangement of pay and distribution which he has proposed in the military and political classes, the treasury has gained (how much do you suppose, gentlemen?) one hundred and thirty dollars! which advantage is due to the comprehensive and indefatigable genius of the commissioner!” Miserable, cold- blooded, heartless calculators! at that very moment O’Reilly was the object of the just execration of the whole population of Louisiana. They had seen some of their best citizens, the élite of the country, immured in the dungeons of the Moro Castle, others shot down without mercy, without necessity, without a crime, unless it was a crime to love the land of their birth, the land in whose bosom repose the bones of their ancestors, — all entrapped at a moment of profound security and submission, under circumstances of the most infamous treachery and duplicity, and mocked with the forms of a trial, under a statute written in a foreign language, and never promulgated in the province. Does no one yet survive, in this whole generation — no one yet lingering on the stage — who was an eye-witness of those transactions, from whom we could hope to obtain a vivid picture of the grief, consternation, and despair, which smote the heart of the country, while the place d’armes of New Orleans was reeking with its best blood, that we might hold it up to the most remote posterity, as a comment on the specious bombast of the Council of Seville?

The commercial regulations proposed by O’Reilly, and which form the subject of his first statement, were undoubtedly liberal, and calculated to advance the prosperity of the province. They contemplated a wide departure from the rigorous monopoly with which the commerce of the Spanish colonies had been shackled: a free trade between Havana and Spain, the productions of Louisiana to pay no duties when imported into that port, and no duty to be levied on exports from Havana to Louisiana; the admission of all Louisiana vessels into all the ports of Spain as well as the Havana, provided that none but Spanish or Louisiana bottoms should be employed in that trade. This system met the entire approbation of the council, except that the exemption from the payment of duties should be considered only as temporary.

The second statement relates to the propriety of subjecting Louisiana to the same system of laws which prevailed in the other Spanish colonies, of carrying on legal proceedings in Spanish, the establishment of the New Appellate Tribunal, of which I have already spoken, with a direct appeal from it to the council. These arrangements were sanctioned by the council, with this proviso: that the Intendants of Hacienda and Marine should have a voice and vote in the proposed tribunal.

The third and fourth statements relate to the organization of the Cabildo, and the appointment of Don Louis de Unzaga as civil and military governor of the province.

The fifth details the new ecclesiastical and economical arrangements.

The sixth and last statement of O’Reilly informs the king that he had appointed a lieutenant governor for the district of Illinois and Natchitoches, encloses copies of his instructions, Page 15 and proposes that the governor alone should have the power to grant lands, and that concessions should be made according to certain regulations which he had adopted on the advice of well- informed persons. This is the well-known ordinance of 1770, of which I may have occasion to speak hereafter.

It cannot be denied, that in many respects the new government was liberal, and even paternal. Lands were distributed gratuitously to meet the wants of an increasing population, and direct taxation was unknown in the province. If the ratio of increase of the population be an index of its prosperity, Louisiana was certainly flourishing and prosperous. In sixteen years from the year 1769, the population was more than doubled by the ordinary means, independently of small colonies from Malaga and the Canary Islands. In 1711 it amounted only to four hundred, including twenty slaves. During thirty-four years of Spanish domination in this country, its resources were considerably developed, and Louisiana has been regarded, perhaps with justice, as the favored pet of Spain.

Gentlemen, it does not enter into my plan to go into any historical details relating to the different periods of our history; but my object is simply to call your attention to them, as worthy of minute investigation in the progress of our researches. Much interesting matter might yet be brought to light, illustrative of the characters of many distinguished persons who figured, and some of whom suffered, in the crisis I have already alluded to. What has become of the memorials and correspondence of Mihlet, who was despatched by the Louisianians to France, to entreat the king not to compel his loyal subjects to pass under the yoke of Spain? Who, that has read our earlier history, does not desire a more intimate acquaintance with the spirit of the times, and with the enterprising men who laid the foundation of the colony, and to investigate more minutely its gradual development?

II. I proceed to make a few remarks upon the second head of our proposed inquiries, to wit: the progress of our jurisprudence. The most important part of the history of a state is that of its legislation. Upon that depends its prosperity, and the character and pursuits of the people. It is not a little remarkable, that although successively an appendage of the monarchies of France and Spain, Louisiana never knew anything like a right of primogeniture and a privileged class. No part of feudality was ever known here, neither inequality in the distribution of estates, nor fiefs, nor signories, nor mayorazgos. The grants of land were all allodial, and under no other condition than that of cultivation and improvement within limited periods; in fact, essentially in fee simple. The colonists brought with them, as the basis of their municipal law, the custom of Paris. By the charter in favor of Crozat, the laws, edicts, and ordinances of the realm and the custom of Paris, are expressly extended to Louisiana. To this custom, which we all know was a body of written law, may be traced the origin of many of the peculiar institutions which still distinguish our jurisprudence from that of all the other states of the Union. I allude especially to the matrimonial community of gains, the rigid restrictions on the disinheritance of children, and the reserved portion in favor of forced heirs, the severe restraints upon widows and widowers, in relation to donations in favor of second husbands and wives, by the Edit des Secondes Noces; the inalienability of dower, and the strict guards by which the paraphernal rights of the wife are secured against the extravagance of spendthrift husbands. The community of acquests and gains between husband and wife is altogether a creature of customary law, unknown to the jurisprudence of Rome, and even in those provinces of France formerly governed by the written law.

It is said to be of German or Saxon origin, and during the régime of the first two races of the kings of France, the share of the wife was one-third, instead of one-half, of the property acquired during marriage, as regulated by the existing code. The introduction of the Spanish law, in 1769, produced but slight changes on most of these points. The general rules of descent, as regulated by the law of Spain, did not vary materially from those of the custom of Paris; a perfect equality among heirs was the essential characteristic of both codes. The points of discrepancy will form a curious subject of investigation to any one desirous of pursuing the inquiry. The existing code of this state has maintained to a certain extent those peculiarities, and they have become deeply rooted in the public mind. O’Reilly, when he introduced by proclamation the whole body of the Spanish law, published a Manual of Practice. How far the practice was changed in substance, by that regulation, from what existed before, I am not prepared to say. It is to be presumed, from the character of those who had been previously engaged in the administration of the laws, that the practice was very simple, and perhaps rude, and the records of judicial proceedings at these early periods are extremely meager. The order of the Commandant, after hearing the stories of both parties, was the decree to which all submitted. Until the cession of the country to the United States, the writ of habeas corpus and the trial by jury were of course unknown here. Of the first, it is sufficient to say, that without it there can be no genuine personal security. Whatever we may think of the trial by jury, as a test of right or law, as a tribunal to decide upon the disputed rights of the citizens in civil cases, there is one point of view in which it may be regarded as above all price, namely, as the means by which the citizens become insensibly instructed in the great leading principles of the laws, and the foundation and extent of their rights.

It is the best school of the citizen. The people assemble at stated periods to attend the sessions of the courts; the discussions are public; the neighbors of the parties are called on to act as jurors; they hear the laws commented on by counsel; they receive the instructions of the court, and retire to deliberate on their verdict. Each juror feels the responsibility under which he acts. Thus, the citizens, in rotation, are called on to perform highly important functions in the administration of the laws, and after serving a few terms, cannot fail to become pretty well acquainted with the great leading principles of the laws of their country, and more vigilant in maintaining their own rights. My own opinion is, that the trial by jury in the interior of this state has done more to enlighten the people, than all the means of education which have been provided by the munificence of the legislature. Many men who can neither read nor write, are yet capable of deciding as jurymen, a question of disputed right between two of their fellow citizens, with admirable discrimination.

I think I can perceive, in this respect, a singular improvement in the general intelligence of the people since I came to reside here twenty-two years ago, especially among that class of our population to whom the trial by jury and the publicity of judicial proceedings were novelties. A friend of mine used to relate an anecdote, which illustrates this position. Two honest creoles were disputing about a point of law; said one of them, “How, do you think I don’t know, sir? I am a justice of the peace!” “And I,” said the other, “I ought to know something about it, I have been twice foreman of the grand jury.”

If I were to dwell longer upon the subject of our jurisprudence, this address would swell into a dissertation. Permit me to recommend this subject to your attention, and particularly an inquiry into the practical operation of the laws above referred to, which regulate the great relations of social and domestic life. Whether an equal participation of the wife in the property acquired during marriage — a right growing originally out of the presumed collaboration of the parties in a rude primitive state of society — ought still to exist in the present age of refinement and extravagance. Whether such a system be not productive of more frauds and injustice to creditors, and disruption of families and litigation, than of public good and domestic tranquillity, are questions more proper for discussion in the halls of legislation than here; they belong rather to the legislator than the historian.

I should hardly be pardoned, if I dwelt long on the next subject embraced in our plan, the state of religion. I will confine myself to a single remark. Fortunately Louisiana was ceded to Spain after the Inquisition had, even in that country of bigotry, been disarmed of most of its terrors; and although in this country the Catholic religion was the only one openly tolerated, yet an attempt to introduce that most infamous of all human institutions was indignantly put down by the people and the local authorities.

IV. The condition of the Indian tribes comes next. The Indians! the Indians! whether subjects of history or heroes of romance, or mixed up in the miserable ephemeral dramatic trash of the day, always exaggerated, disfigured, caricatured. They have been represented by some as brave, high-minded, and capable of sustaining extraordinary privations; sometimes as cold, stern, taciturn; sometimes as gay, lively, frolicksome, full of badinage, and excessively given to gambling; sometimes as cruel, and even man-eaters, delighting in the infliction of the most horrible tortures. Some will tell you that they have no religious notions, no conception of a great first cause; others, that they have a simple natural religion; or as the poet has it:

“His untutored mind,
Sees God in clouds, and hears him in the wind;
His soul, proud science never taught to stray,
Far as the solar walk or milky way.
Yet simple Nature to his hope has given,
Behind the cloud-topped hill, an humbler heaven,
Some safer world, in depth of woods embraced,
Some happier island in the watery waste.
To be content, his natural desire,
He asks no angel’s wings, no seraph’s fire,
But thinks, admitted to that equal sky,
His faithful dog shall bear him company.”

Some of the earlier historians represent the Natchez as worshippers of the sun, or worshippers of fire; as having a temple dedicated to the sun, keeping up a perpetual, a vestal fire. They conclude, of course, that those Indians must have been allied at least to the Peruvians or Mexicans, if not descended from the fire-worshippers of the East. The truth probably was, that in some miserable cabin or wigwam, a few chunks were kept burning, as is the case in every Indian encampment, and indeed in every well regulated kitchen. The fact is, that neither the pen of Cooper, nor the more eloquent and fascinating style of Chateaubriand, can inspire the slightest interest for their Indian heroes and heroines, in the mind of a man who has been much among the aborigines, and knows something of their real character and habits. With respect to those nations which yet exist, we are able to see for ourselves, and correct the false impressions which earlier writers may have produced. It is melancholy to look over the list of tribes, which were once scattered over the surface of lower Louisiana at early periods of the colony. How many of them are totally extinct! How many dwindled down to a mere shadow, and their feeble remnant confounded with some neighboring tribe! The Attakapas, the Carancuas, the Opelousas, the Adayes, the Natchitoches, the Natchez, where are they, and what monuments have they left us, by which any trace of their origin or their history may be known? Of the Natchitoches, only a single individual exists, and he has been adopted by the Cados. Who knows anything of the language of those nations? Their language, certainly among the most curious of the remnants of erratic tribes, and by which an acute philology might perhaps trace some affinities with other existing people, is known only to a few; and they are not of that class from whom the republic of letters might expect some account of it. The powerful tribe of the Natchez is totally extinct; its last miserable remnant took refuge among the Chickasaws. There remain a few degenerate (if such beings can degenerate) descendants of the Tunicas, Chitemachas, Pacagoulas, Apalaches and Beloxis.

Neither the French nor the Spanish governments recognized in the Indians any primitive title to the land over which they hunted, nor even to the spot on which their permanent dwellings were fixed. They were often grantees of lands for very limited extents, not exceeding a league square, covering their village. They were sometimes permitted to sell out their ancient possessions, and had a new locality assigned them. Many titles of that kind exist at the present time, and have been subjects of judicial decision. But the policy of extinguishing the primitive Indian title, as it is called, by purchase, which prevailed universally among the English colonists, appears to have been wholly unknown to the French and Spaniards in Louisiana. The massacre of the French at Natchez, which led to the extermination of that tribe, was provoked by the atrocious attempt, by the commandant, to destroy their village at St. Catherine’s, in order to annex the land to his own plantation.

There are many indications here, as well as in upper Louisiana and Ohio, of a race of men, long since extinct, who had probably made considerable advances in some of the useful arts, and perhaps the art of defence. In Sicily Island, in the parish of Catahoula, there is a curious circle of mounds, regularly disposed, embracing a large area of alluvial soil, but little elevated above high water mark. I believe the dwelling house of the present proprietor, Mr. Matthews, is built upon one of them. There are others equally curious on Black River; and near the village of Harrisonburg may yet be traced an extensive elevation of earth strongly resembling breast-works. The enemy against which these works were thrown up, was probably the Mississippi, whose waters once flooded the whole of that region at certain stages. The study of Indian mounds has heretofore led to no important discovery upon which much reliance can be placed. It is worse than idle to indulge in conjectures upon the origin of these monuments. A few skulls, picked up here and there, may indicate, perhaps, to the professed phrenologist, the former existence of a race more civilized than the present Indians, more capable of combination, having the organ of constructiveness more amply developed; but no general conclusions can be safely drawn from indications so feeble and equivocal. It would be, in my opinion, equally philosophical to conclude with the poet,

“The earth has bubbles as the ocean has,
And these are of them.”

That there are, among the existing race of aborigines, instances of extraordinary capacity and power of combination, a few individuals, infinitely superior to the common herd, is undoubted. What was the boasted Cadmus of antiquity, who introduced into Greece a few letters of Egyptian or Phenician origin, when compared with that poor, crippled Cherokee, of our own day, who, by the unaided efforts of mind, by the simple power of induction, invented perhaps the most perfect alphabet of any existing language?

Gentlemen: in these hasty and imperfect glances over the wide field of our proposed inquiries, I have purposely omitted to touch upon the last, or rather the present, era of our history, commencing with the annexation of Louisiana to the Federal Union, by far the most brilliant and important, and marked by great and interesting events. In relation to Louisiana, this may be properly designated as the epoch of constitutional, popular self government, and of steam, as applied to navigation. The documents which illustrate this part of our history are within our reach, and ought to be collected and preserved. Forty years ago, what was New Orleans — what was Louisiana? The mighty river which sweeps by us then rolled silently through an extended wilderness, receiving the tribute of its vassal streams from the base of the Rocky Mountains on one side, and the Apalachian chain on the other; its broad and smooth surface occasionally ruffled by the dip of an Indian’s paddle, or a solitary barge, slowly creeping up stream to the feeble settlements in the interior. What are they now? This city has become the greatest mart of agricultural products on the face of the globe; and yonder river traverses a double range of states, peopled by freemen, who, by the miracles of steam, are brought almost in contact with the great market for the productions of their industry. That river is literally covered with floating palaces, which visit its most remote branches; and along the extended levée fronting our port, a dense forest of masts exhibits the flags of every commercial nation in the world. At her annexation to the Union, the destiny of Louisiana became fixed — admitted at once to a participation in the great renown of the republic, connected with it by bonds of a common interest, she sprung forward, as it were by a single leap, from colonial dependence, to the glorious prerogatives of freemen, and to the enjoyment of the most prosperity.

Gentlemen, let us endeavor to make a wise use of this prosperity, and do something for the cause of letters. Colleges are springing up under the generous patronage of the legislature, which promise soon to be amply sufficient for the education of the rising generation. The Medical College of this city, the offspring of private enterprise and sustained by the devotion of a few medical gentlemen to the cause of science, deserves public encouragement, and I trust will receive it. The Lyceum of this city promises to unite utility with all that is agreeable in the public discussion of interesting topics. Let us turn aside, occasionally at least, from the worship of mammon, and devote some of our leisure moments, stolen from mere sordid and engrossing pursuits, to the cultivation of liberal studies. Who does not sigh, sometimes, amidst the bustle and struggle of active life, to retreat upon the studies of his youth; to fly to his early friends; friends who never deceive him and never weary; to the society of the philosophers, poets, historians of past times, and to bask in the mild radiance of those great luminaries of the intellectual world; to renew again those studies — which, if you will allow me to paraphrase the splendid eulogium of the great master of Roman eloquence — studies which form the generous aliment of youthful mind; the hoped for delight of declining years; the best ornament of prosperity; in adversity our surest consolation and refuge; inexhaustible source of the purest pleasure, whether at home or abroad, whether engaged in the bustle of the city, or enjoying the sober tranquillity of rural life?



THE principal result which the Sieur de la Salle expected from the great perils and labors which he underwent in the discovery of the Mississippi, was to satisfy the wish expressed to him by the late Monseigneur Colbert, of finding a port where the French might establish themselves and harass the Spaniards in those regions from whence they derive all their wealth. The place which he proposes to fortify lies sixty leagues above the mouth of the Rivert Colbert (Mississippi), in the Gulf of Mexico, and possesses all the advantages for such a purpose which can be wished for, both upon account of its excellent position and the favorable disposition of the savages who live in that part of the country.

The right of the King to this territory is the common right of all nations to lands which they have discovered — a right which cannot be disputed after the possession already taken in the name of his Majesty, by the Sieur de la Salle, with the consent of the greater number of its inhabitants. A colony can easily be founded there, as the land is very fertile and produces all articles of life — as the climate is very mild — as a port or two would make us masters of the whole of this continent — as the posts there are good, secure, and afford the means of attacking an enemy or of retreating in case of necessity — and also since all things are found there requisite for refitting. Its distance inland will prevent foreigners from sending fleets to attack it, since they would be exposed to destruction by fire which they could only avoid with difficulty in a narrow river, for if fireships were sent down they would not fail to fall aboard them under the favor of night and of the current. The coast and the banks being overflowed for more than twenty leagues above the mouth, make it inaccessible by land; and the friendship of the savages towards the French, and the hatred which they bear towards the Spaniards, will serve also as a strong barrier.

These Indians, irritated by the tyranny of the Spaniards, carry on a cruel war against them, without even the aid of fire-arms, which they have not yet had. On the other hand, they have been so conciliated by the gentleness of the Sieur de la Salle, that they have made peace with him and offered to accompany him anywhere, and he has no doubt that they would favor his enterprise as much as they would oppose themselves to those of the enemies of France. This, any person may judge of by the offerings which were made at the posts on which the arms of France were attached, and by the assembly of more than 18,000 Indians of various nations, some of whom had come from a distance of more than 2000 leagues, who met together in a single camp (village) — and who, forgetting their own old disputes, threw themselves into his arms and made him master of their different interests — and also from tile deputations sent to him by the Cicaças and the Kansas, and other nations, offering to follow wherever he might be pleased to lead them. By the union of these forces it would be possible to form an army of more than 15,000 savages, who, finding themselves supported by the French and by the Abenaki followers of the Sieur de la Salle, with the aid of the arms which he has given them, would not find any resistance in the province which he intends to attack, where there are not more than 400 native Spaniards, in a country more than 150 leagues in length and fifty in breadth, all of whom are officers or artisans better able to explore the mines than to oppose themselves vigorously to an expedition which would moreover be favored by Mulattoes, Indians, and by Negroes if their liberty were promised to them.

la Salle's Expedition
la Salle’s Expedition to Louisiana in 1684.
Painting by Theodore Gudin
in 1684 at Wikipedia.

Upon account of these considerations the Sieur de la Salle proposes, with the approbation of Monseigneur, to undertake this enterprise, and if peace should prevent the execution of it, he offers to establish a very advantageous station for commercial purposes, very easy to be maintained, and from whence, at the commencement of hostilities, it would be possible to take from the Spaniards a good part of their mines.

New Biscay is the most northern province of Mexico, and is situated between 25° and 27° 30′ of north latitude. It is bounded to the north by vast forests frequented by the people called Terliquiquimeki, whom the Spanish only know by the name of “Indios Bravos y de guerra,” never having been able to subdue them, or to compel them to live in peace. From this province they extend themselves as far as the River Seignelai, which is distant from it in some parts 40 and in some 50 leagues. On the east it is bounded by the same forest, by the River Panuco, from which it is separated by a chain of mountains, which also form its limits to the south, from the province of Zacatecas to the west, from that of Culiacan to the north-west, where it separates the latter province from the new kingdom of Leon, not leaving more than two or three passages by which succors could be expected.

The distance from Mexico, which is more than 150 leagues, increases these difficulties, without speaking of the necessity which the viceroys would have of dividing their forces in order to defend the maritime districts, and the small number of native Spaniards to be met with in this vast extent of country, from whence no succors are to be obtained but with great loss of time and trouble — the height, also, of the mountains which they must pass for this purpose are too rough for a people, enervated by long inactivity, to be able to surmount without great means of conveyance and train. Even if succors could arrive more quickly than is presumed, the proximity of the woods and of the river would aid as much to secure a retreat and preserve any booty, as it is favorable to an irruption of which the enemy would have no information before we should be in the middle of his territory.

As they do not think themselves to be in danger of being attacked, except by savages, they have no one place capable of sustaining an attack, though the country is very rich in silver mines, more than thirty having been already discovered. These would be much more profitable to the French on account of the proximity of the river, which would serve for the transport of the metals; whereas the Spaniards, from ignorance, from fear of the savages, and on account of the personal interest of the viceroys, transport the silver at a great expense, as needless to us as it is to them inevitable, at so great a distance.

Assuming, then, these facts, the Sieur de la Salle offers, if the war continues, to leave France with 200 men; fifty more will join him who are in the country, and fifty buccaneers (flibustiers) can be taken in passing St. Domingo. The savages who are at Fort St. Louis, to the number of more than 4,000 warriors, together with many others who will join, can be directed to descend the river. This army he will divide into three divisions, to maintain it more easily. In order to compel the Spaniards to divide their forces, two of these divisions shall each be composed of fifty French, fifty Abenakis, and two hundred savages. They will receive orders to attack at the same time the two extremities of the province, and on the same day the centre of the country will be entered with the other division, and it is certain that we shall be seconded by all the unhappy in the country who groan in slavery. The English colony of Boston, although it is more powerful than all those of Spain, has been desolated by 600 savages. Chili has been ruined by the Araucanians, and the evil which the Iroquois, although without discipline or generalship, have done in Canada, are instances from which we may infer how disastrous is this mode of warfare to those who are not experienced in it, and also what may be expected from the aid of savages led by experienced Frenchmen having much knowledge of the country.

This province being taken, its approaches may be protected by Indians and mulattoes, who may be required to occupy the narrowest passes of the mountains, by which alone it can be entered, and fire-arms may be given to them to defend it with greater efficiency. This undertaking is certain of success if it is executed in this manner, since the Spaniards cannot be prepared to defend passes of which they have no knowledge; whereas, if attacked by the River Panuco, or by sea, in open warfare, before the maritime places are conquered, or the River Panuco is ascended, which is populated from its mouth by their settlements, they would have leisure to occupy passes, with which they are well acquainted, and to make the result doubtful, or at least more difficult.

It is true that, in order to make a diversion, the buccaneers (flibustiers) might be of service if they were previously to make an attack and made descents on the coast, for then they would attract the Spanish troops to that side, who would thus leave the distant provinces without assistance. The French of St. Domingo would be more suited for these expeditions than for those which can be made with the assistance of savages, who would not fail to be offended from neglect of the civility which is necessary in order to obtain their good will, and from neglect of the reserve which ought to be maintained towards their wives, of whom they are very jealous; — which causes of offence would render useless the greatest chances of success which the French might possess in this enterprise.

It is certain that France would draw from these mines greater benefits than Spain, from the facility of transport, although Spain obtains more than six millions (of eçus?) a year. We might also, perhaps, open a passage to the South Sea, which is not more distant than the breadth of the province of Culiacan, not to mention the possibility of meeting with some rivers near to the Seignelai, which may discharge themselves on that side.

The Sieur de la Salle would not think this affair so easy, if, in addition to his knowledge of their language, he was not familiar with the manners of the savages, through which he may obtain as much confidence by a behavior in accordance with their practices, as he has impressed on them a feeling of respect in consequence of all that he has yet done in passing with a small number of followers through so many nations, and punishing those who broke their word with him. After this he has no doubt that in a short time they will become good French subjects, so that, without drawing any considerable number of men from Europe, they will form a powerful colony, and will have troops sufficient to act in any emergency, and for the execution of the greatest enterprises. The missionaries of Paraguay and the English of Boston have succeeded so well, that equal success may be expected by the adoption of measures similar to theirs.

Even if the peace of Europe should make it necessary to postpone the execution of this design as respects the conquest proposed, it would always be important to place ourselves in a position to succeed in them when the state of affairs shall change, taking immediate possession of this country in order not to be anticipated by other nations, who will not fail to take advantage of the information which they certainly have, since the Dutch published a statement of the discovery of this country in one of their newspapers more than a year ago.

If, also, the Spaniards should delay satisfying the king at the conclusion of a peace, an expedition at this point will oblige them to hasten its conclusion, and to give to his Majesty important places in Europe in exchange for those which they may lose in a country of the possession of which they are extremely jealous. In order, also, to hasten them, some of their maritime places may be insulted en passant, the pillage of which may well repay the expenses of the expedition.

There never was an enterprise of such great importance proposed at so little risk and expense, since the Sieur de la Salle asks only for its execution a vessel of about 30 guns, the power of raising in France 200 men whom he shall think proper for his purpose, and exclusive of the fitting out of the ship, provisions for six months, some cannon to mount at a fort, the necessary arms and supplies, and wherewith to pay the men for the period of a year. These expenses would be repaid in a short time by the duties which his Majesty might have levied on the articles which would enter into the commerce that would be carried on there, and respecting which a separate memoir has been delivered.

It would not require much time to bring this expedition to an end, since it is nearly certain that the savages can be assembled next winter, and complete this conquest in the spring, in sufficient time to report the news of it by the time the first vessel returns to France.

The Sieur de la Salle does not ask for regular troops. He prefers the assistance of persons of different trades, or at least a majority of such —

  1. First, because they will become soldiers when it may be necessary for them to be so;
  2. Secondly, because, in enterprises of this kind, success depends more on the experience of the commander than on the bravery of those who have only to obey, as was shown in what was done by those who previously accompanied the Sieur de la Salle, the greater part of whom had not seen service;
  3. Thirdly, this warfare is so different from that carried on in Europe, that the oldest soldiers would be found to be still novices, so that 50 old soldiers to keep the others in order, together with 50 buccaneers, and those whom the Sieur de la Salle has in the country accustomed to such expeditions, will be sufficient to sustain the rest, and to render them capable of any enterprise whatever;
  4. Fourthly, if only soldiers were taken, it would require double expense to bring to the settlement the necessary laborers;
  5. Fifthly, the officers who would command the troops, finding a life of greater hardship than they had imagined, and unmixed with any pleasure, would soon be dissatisfied, and this feeling would easily communicate itself to the soldiers when they should discover that there was no relaxation of their fatigues in debauch and license;
  6. Sixthly, it would be the ruin of the settlement to commence it with idlers, such as most soldiers are. Far from contributing to the prosperity of a colony, they destroy its most favorable hopes by the disorders which they cause.

It may be objected that the River Seignelai (Illinois) is, perhaps, more distant from New Biscay than has been assumed. To answer this difficulty it is sufficient to mention that the mouth through which it enters the Mississippi is 100 leagues west-north-west from the place where the latter river discharges itself into the Gulf of Mexico, and that it has been ascended more than 60 leagues, going always to the west, after which Monseigneur can judge of the truth of what has been put forth respecting the distance between this river and the province.

The second difficulty which may be raised may be, that peace being concluded, no advantage can be taken of that post. The answer is, that peace is the most proper time to prepare for war when it shall become necessary. Even if peace should prevent us from deriving all the advantages which we may expect from this expense, we should be well remunerated if we choose to profit by the future, because we should have more leisure to conciliate and discipline the savages, and to strengthen the colony, from which circumstances we could obtain more important advantages, and execute more glorious and profitable undertakings (choses). It may be feared that we may, at a future time, make an unavailing search for that which we might now abandon to strangers. The injury which the colonies of Hudson Bay and of New England, which were formerly disregarded, do to New France, ought to serve as a warning on this subject.

The third objection respecting the insults which the Spaniards might inflict on the settlement, has already been answered in describing the position which makes it inaccessible by land, and almost equally safe from an attack by water, in consequence of the danger a hostile fleet would incur if it should attempt to advance so far up a very narrow river.

Fourthly, those who do not know the policy of the Savages, and the knowledge which they have of their true interests, will, perhaps, think it to be dangerous to arm them. But besides the experience which we have of the contrary, not one of the French allies having yet abused the favor (condescendance) shown to them for these eighty years, it is certain that those nations which we call savage, know too well the importance to them of having arms for their own defence and for the conquest of their enemies, to make use of them against those who supply them.

Fifthly, it may be said, that should so small a force succeed in driving the Spaniards from this province, it would not be adequate to resist all the forces of Mexico, which they would unite to revenge this affront. The answer to this is, that these forces are not so considerable as is supposed — that they cannot leave unprotected other places — that it will require much time to assemble them; the diversion which the buccaneers may cause compelling them to provide for the most urgent want, — and that, finally, the Indians, Mulattoes, and Negroes, armed and freed by this first success from the terror which they have of the Spaniards, would be able to dispute the advance of the largest army which could be raised in Mexico. Besides which, they would stake all, in order not to be again reduced to a state of slavery.

Sixthly, it is not believed that the expense will be an objection, since it is too inconsiderable in proportion to the great advantages to be hoped for, even if peace should delay their enjoyment. These advantages are of such importance as to make it profitable to incur it for some years rather than to hazard their loss. The enterprise ought not to be delayed to a period when we should no longer have the mastery of it. It is also to be believed that the Spaniards, feeling themselves pushed so closely on that side, would assent to conditions of peace most advantageous to France, and, as has been already stated, the duties which his Majesty could levy on the merchandise, which would be obtained from thence, would repay with usury the expenses incurred.

Seventhly, the Sieur de la Salle would oblige himself, in case the peace should continue for three years, and thus prevent him from executing the proposed design, to repay to his Majesty all that may be advanced, or to forfeit the property and government which he shall have created — which he hopes his Majesty will be willing to confirm to him.


A vessel of 30 guns, armed and provided with everything necessary, and the crew paid and supported during the voyage; twelve other pieces of cannon for the two forts, of five or six pounds to the ball, and eight cannon of ten or twelve, with the gun carriages and train: two hundred balls for each cannon, and powder in proportion.

A hundred picked men, levied at the expense of his Majesty, but selected by the Sieur de la Salle. Their pay for one year to be 120 (?) a man, and as the money would be of no avail to them in the colony, it shall be converted at the place of embarcation into goods (denrées) proper for them.

The pay, during six months, of 100 (?) for the other men, enlisted by the Sieur de la Salle, to be paid by his Majesty during the time they shall be employed in the proposed conquests.

Victuals for all during six months; 600 musquets for arming 400 savages, in addition to 1,600 who are already armed, and the others for the 200 Frenchmen.

A hundred pair of pistols proper to be worn in the girdle; 150 swords, and as many sabres, 25 pikes (pertuisanes), 25 halberds, 20,000 lbs. of gunpowder, four to five (?) of which to be given to each savage, and the remainder left in the forts, and for the use of the French during the expedition.

Musquet balls of the proper calibre in proportion; gun-worms, powder-horns, rifle-flints, 300 to 400 grenades, six petards of the smallest and largest kind, pincers, pickaxes, hoes, hones, shovels, axes, hatchets, and cramp-irons for the fortifications and buildings; 5,000 to 6,000 lbs. of iron, and 400 lbs. of steel of all sorts. A forge with its appurtenances, besides the tools necessary for armorers, joiners, coopers, wheelwrights, carpenters, and masons.

Two boxes of surgery provided with medicine and instruments.

Two chapels and the ornaments for the almoners.

A barge of forty tons in pieces (en fagots), or built with its appurtenances.

Refreshments for the sick.




LOUIS, by the grace of God, King of France and of Navarre. To our dear and well-beloved Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle, greeting.

King Louis XIV, 1685.
King Louis XIV, 1685.

We have received with favor the very humble petition, which has been presented to us in your name, to permit you to endeavor to discover the western part of New France; and we have consented to this proposal the more willingly, because there is nothing we have more at heart than the discovery of this country, through which it is probable a road may be found to penetrate to Mexico (dans laquel il y a apparence que l’on trouvera un chemin pour penetrer jusqu’au Mexique); and because your diligence in clearing lands which we granted to you by the decree of our council of the 13th of May, 1675, and, by Letters Patent of the same date, to form habitations upon the said lands, and to put Fort Frontenac in a good state of defence, the seigniory and government whereof we likewise granted to you, affords us every reason to hope that you will succeed to our satisfaction, and to the advantage of our subjects of the said country.

For these reasons, and others thereunto moving us, we have permitted, and do hereby permit you, by these presents, signed by our hand, to endeavor to discover the western part of New France, and, for the execution of this enterprise, to construct forts wherever you shall deem it necessary; which it is our will that you shall hold on the same terms and conditions as Fort Frontenac, agreeably and conformably to our said Letters Patent of the 13th of March, 1675, which we have confirmed, as far as is needful, and hereby confirm by these presents. And it is our pleasure that they be executed according to their form and tenor.

To accomplish this, and everything above-mentioned, we give you full powers; on condition, however, that you shall finish this enterprise within five years, in default of which these presents shall be void and of none effect; that you carry on no trade whatever with the savages called Outaouacs, and others who bring their beaver skins and other peltries to Montreal; and that the whole shall be done at your expense, and that of your company, to which we have granted the privilege of the trade in buffalo skins. And we command the Sieur de Frontenac, our Governor and Lieutenant-General, and the Sieur Duchesne Intendant, and the other officers who compose the supreme council of the said country, to affix their signatures to these presents; for such is our pleasure. Given at St. Germain en Laye, this 12th day of May, 1678, and of our reign the thirty-fifth.

(Signed)                   LOUIS.

And lower down,

By the King,


And sealed with the great seal with yellow wax.

Louis XIV seal

The act of the Governor, attached to these presents, is dated the 5th of November, 1678.



MONSEIGNEUR  COLBERT was of opinion, with regard to the various propositions which were made in 1678, that it was important for the glory and service of the king to discover a port for his vessels in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Sieur de la Salle offered to undertake the discovery, at his own expense, if it should please his Majesty to grant to him the Seignory of the government of the forts which he should erect on his route, together with certain privileges as an indemnification for the great outlay which the expedition would impose on him. Such grant was made to him by letters patent of the 12th of May, 1678.

In order to execute this commission, he abandoned all his own pursuits which did not relate to it. He did not omit anything necessary for success, notwithstanding dangerous sickness, considerable losses, and other misfortunes which he suffered, which would have discouraged any other person not possessed of the same zeal with himself, and the same industry in the performance of the undertaking. He has made five voyages under extraordinary hardships, extending over more than 5,000 leagues, most commonly on foot, through snow and water, almost without rest, during five years. He has traversed more than 600 leagues of unknown country, among many barbarous and cannibal nations (anthropophages), against whom he was obliged to fight almost daily, although he was accompanied by only 36 men, having no other consolation before him than a hope of bringing to an end an enterprise which he believed would be agreeable to his Majesty. After having happily executed this design, he hopes Monseigneur will be pleased to continue him in the title (proprieté) and government of the fort which he has had erected in the country of his discovery, where he has placed several French settlers — and has brought together many savage nations, amounting to more than 18,000 in number, who have built houses there and sown much ground — to commence a powerful colony.

This is the only fruit of an expenditure of 150,000 eçus — the only means of satisfying his creditors who advanced to him the aid which he required after very considerable losses. He believes that he has sufficiently established the truth of his discovery by the official instrument signed by all his companions, which was placed last year in the hands of Monseigneur Colbert by the Count de Frontenac: — as also by a report drawn up by the Reverend Father Zenoble, Missionary, who accompanied him during this voyage, and who is at this time Guardian of Bapaume: — by the testimony of three persons who accompanied him, and whom he has brought with him to France, and who are now in Paris: — and by the testimony of many other persons who came this year from Canada, and who have seen one Vital, sent by M. de la Barre to collect information respecting him on the spot, and who has confirmed the truth of the discovery.

All these proofs are sufficient to contradict whatever may have been written to the contrary, by persons who have no knowledge of the country where the discovery was made — never having been there. But he hopes to remove all these prejudices, by carrying into execution the design which he entertains, under the favor of Monseigneur, of returning to the country of his discovery by the mouth of the river in the Gulf of Mexico, since he must have lost his sense, if, without being certain of the means of arriving where he proposes, he exposed not only his own fortune and that of his friends to manifest destruction, but his own honor and reputation to the unavoidable disgrace of having imposed on the confidence of his Majesty and of his ministers. Of this there is less likelihood, because he has no interest to disguise the truth, since, if Monseigneur does not think it convenient to undertake any enterprise in that direction, he will not ask anything more from his Majesty, until his return from the Gulf of Mexico confirms the truth of what he has alleged. With reference to the assertion that his voyage would produce no profit to France, he replies, that if he proposed it as a thing to be done, and on that account sought for assistance to undertake the enterprise, or reward after having succeeded in it, its usefulness would deserve consideration; but being here only in order to render an account of the orders he received, he does not think himself to be responsible for anything but their execution, it not being his duty to examine the intentions of Monseigneur Colbert. Having, however, observed great advantages which both France and Canada may derive from his discovery, he believes that he owes this detail to the glory of the King, the welfare of the kingdom to the honor of the Ministry of Monseigneur, and to the memory of him who employed him upon this expedition. He does this the more willingly, as his requests will not expose him to a suspicion of self-interest; and as the influence which he has acquired over the people of that continent places him in a position to execute what he proposes, the things which he states will find greater credit in the minds of those who shall investigate them. Firstly, the service of God may be established there by the preaching of the Gospel to numerous docile and settled (sedentaires) nations, who will be found more willing to receive it than those of other parts of America, upon account of their greater civilisation. They have already temples and a form of worship.

Secondly, we can effect there for the glory of our King very important conquests, both by land and by sea; or if peace should oblige us to delay the execution of them, we might, without giving any cause of complaint, make preparations to render us certain of success whenever it shall please the King to command it.

The provinces which may be seized are very rich in silver mines — they adjoin the River Colbert (the Mississippi) — they are far removed from succor — they are open everywhere on the side on which we should attack them, and are defended only by a small number of persons, so sunk in effeminacy and indolence as to be incapable of enduring the fatigue of wars of this description.

The Sieur de la Salle binds himself to have this enterprise ripe for success within one year after his arrival on the spot, and asks only for this purpose one vessel, some arms, and munitions, the transport, maintenance, and pay of 200 men during one year. Afterwards he will maintain them from the produce of the country, and supply their other wants through the credit and confidence which he has obtained among those nations, and the experience which he has had of those regions. He will give a more detailed account of this proposal when it shall please Monseigneur to direct him.

Thirdly, the river is navigable for more than a hundred leagues for ships, and for barks for more than 500 leagues to the north, and for more than 800 from east to west. Its three mouths are as many harbors, capable of receiving every description of ships; where those of his Majesty will always find a secure retreat, and all that may be necessary to refit, and re-victual — which would be a great economy to his Majesty, who would no longer find it necessary to send the things needed from France at a great expense, the country producing the greater part of them. We could even build there as many ships as we should desire, the materials for building and rigging them being in abundance, with the exception of iron, which may perhaps be discovered. In the first place we should obtain there everything which has enriched New England and Virginia, and which constitute the foundation of their commerce and of their great wealth — timber of every kind — salted meat, tallow, corn, sugar, tobacco, honey, wax, resin, and other gums; immense pasturages, hemp, and other articles with which more than 200 vessels are every year freighted in New England to carry elsewhere. The newly-discovered country has, besides its other advantages, that of the soil, which, being only partly covered with wood, forms a campaign of great fertility and extent, scarcely requiring any clearing. The mildness of the climate is favorable to the rearing of a large number of cattle, which cause great expense where the winter is severe. There is also a prodigious number (plus un nombre prodigieux) of buffaloes, stags, hinds, roes, bears, otters, lynxes. Hides and furs are to be had there almost for nothing (à vil prix), the savages not yet knowing the value of our commodities. There are cotton, cochineal, nuts, turnsols — entire forests of mulberry-trees — salt, slate, coal, vines, apple-trees; so that it would be easy to make wine, cider, oil of nuts, of turnsols, and of olives also, if olive-trees were planted there, silk, and dye-woods. It will not be necessary to import from Europe horses, oxen, swine, fowls, or turkeys, which are to be found in different parts of the country, nor to import provisions for the colonists, who would quickly find subsistence.

Whilst other colonies are open and exposed to the descents of foreigners by as many points as their coasts are washed by the sea, whereby they are placed under a necessity of having many persons to watch these points of access; one single post, established towards the lower part of the river, will be sufficient to protect a territory extending more than eight hundred leagues from north to south, and still farther from east to west, because its banks are only accessible from the sea through the mouth of the river, the remainder of the coast being impenetrable inland for more than twenty leagues, in consequence of woods, bogs, reeds, and marshes (terres tremblantes), through which it is impossible to march; and this may be the reason why the exploration of that river has been neglected by the Spaniards, if they have had any knowledge of it. This country is equally well defended in the interior against the irruptions of neighboring Europeans, by great chains of mountains stretching from east to west, from which branches of the river take their source.

It is true that the country is more open towards the south- west, where it borders on Mexico, where the very navigable river the Seignelay, which is one of the branches of the Colbert (the Mississippi), is only separated by a forest of three to four days’ journey in depth. But besides that the Spaniards there are feeble and far removed from the assistance of Mexico, and from that which they could expect by sea, this place is protected from their insults by a great number of warlike savages, who close this passage to them, and who, constantly engaged with them in cruel wars, would certainly inflict greater evil when sustained by some French, whose more mild and more humane mode of governing will prove a great means for the preservation of the peace made between them and the Sieur de la Salle.

To maintain this establishment, which is the only one required in order to obtain all the advantages mentioned, 200 men only are needed, who would also construct the fortifications and buildings, and effect the clearings necessary for the sustenance of the colony; after which there would be no further expenditure. The goodness of the country will induce the settlers (habitans) to remain there willingly. The ease in which they will live will make them attend to the cultivation of the soil, and to the production of articles of commerce, and will remove all desire to imitate the inhabitants of New France, who are obliged to seek subsistence in the woods under great fatigues, in hunting for peltries, which are their principal resource. These vagrant courses, common in New France, will be easily prevented in the new country, because, as its rivers are all navigable, there will be a great facility for the savages to come to our settlements, and for us to go to them in boats which can ascend all the branches of the river.

If foreigners anticipate us, they will deprive France of all the advantages to be expected from the success of the enterprise. They will complete the ruin of New France, which they already hem in through Virginia, Pennsylvania, New England, and the Hudson’s Bay. They will not fail to ascend the river as high as possible, and to establish colonies in the places nearest to the savages who now bring their furs to Montreal — they will make constant inroads into the countries of the latter, which could not be repressed by ordinances of his Majesty. They have already made several attempts to discover this passage, and they will not neglect it now that the whole world knows that it is discovered, since the Dutch have published it in their newspapers upwards of a year ago. Nothing more is required than to maintain the possession taken by the Sieur de la Salle, in order to deprive them of such a desire, and to place ourselves in a position to undertake enterprises against them glorious to the arms of his Majesty, who will probably derive the greatest benefits from the duties he will levy there, as in our other colonies.

Even if this affair should prove hurtful to New France, it will contribute to its security, and render our commerce in furs more considerable.

There will be nothing to fear from the Iroquois when the nations of the south, strengthened through their intercourse with the French, shall stop their conquests, and prevent their being powerful, by carrying off a great number of their women and children, which they can easily do from the inferiority of the weapons of their enemies. As respects commerce, that post will probably increase our traffic still more than has been done by the establishment of Fort Frontenac, which was built with success for that purpose, for if the Illinois and their allies were to catch the beavers, which the Iroquois now kill in their neighborhood in order to carry to the English, the latter, not being any longer able to get them from their own colonies, would be obliged to buy them from us, to the great benefit of those who have the privilege of this traffic.

These were the views which the Sieur de la Salle had in placing the settlement where it is. The colony has already felt its effects, as all our allies, who had fled after the departure of M. de Frontenac, have returned to their ancient dwellings, in consequence of the confidence caused by the fort, near which they have defeated a party of Iroquois, and have built four other forts to protect themselves from hostile incursions. The Governor, M. de la Barre, and the Intendant, M. de Meulles, have told the Sieur de la Salle that they would write to Monseigneur to inform him of the importance of that fort in order to keep the Iroquois in check, and that M. de Lagny had proposed its establishment in 1678. Monseigneur Colbert permitted Sieur de la Salle to build it, and granted it to him as a property. In order to prove to Monseigneur the sincerity of his intentions still more, and that he had no other motive in selecting this site than the protection of the men he has left there, and whom he did not think right to place in such small number, within the reach of the Spaniards, and without cannon and munition, or to leave in so distant a country, where, in case of sickness, they could expect no assistance, nor to return home from thence without danger — he offers again to descend the river a hundred leagues lower down, and nearer the sea, and to establish there another fort, demolishing the first, in the expectation, however, that Monseigneur would consider the expenses incurred in its establishment.

It may be said, firstly, that this colony might injure the commerce of Quebec, and cause the desertion of its inhabitants; but the answer is, that by descending lower down, no beavers will be found. Thus the first difficulty will be removed, which again would not have any foundation, even if Fort St. Louis were to remain. The Illinois will only kill the beaver, which, after their departure, would fall to the share of the Iroquois only, as no other nation dares to approach those districts. There is also no likelihood that deserters would choose a long and difficult route, at the end of which they would be still subject to be apprehended and punished, whilst they have another much shorter and easier one to New England, where they are quite secure, and which many take every year.

A second objection would be, that the goodness of the country would attract so many people as to diminish the population of France, as it is said Mexico and Peru have depopulated Spain; but, besides that France is more peopled than Spain has ever been, and that the expulsion of 1,800,000 Moors, added to the great wars she has had to sustain, is the real cause of its diminished population, it is certain that the number of the few Spaniards in those kingdoms, who are not above 40,000, is not a number of emigrants sufficient to make any perceptible change in France, which already counts more than 100,000 settlers in foreign countries. It would be even desirable that instead of peopling other foreign kingdoms, the riches of the country newly discovered should attract them to it. Moreover, this objection has already been answered, when it was said that the country can be defended by one or two forts, for the protection of which only from 400 to 500 men are required, a number comprising only one-half of the crew of a large vessel.

Whatever has been imagined respecting the mud and breakers which are supposed to stop the mouth of the river (Mississippi), is easily disproved by the experience of those who have been there, and who found the entrances fine, deep, and capable of admitting the largest vessels. It would appear that the land or levées de terre are covered in many parts with good growing along the channel of the river very far into the sea; and where the sea is deep they would not be suspected, because even the creeks of the sea are tolerably deep at that distance, and besides, there is every appearance that the current of the river has formed these kind of dikes, by shoving on both sides the mud with which the winds fill the neighboring creeks, because those causeways are to the right and left of the river, forming for it a bed, as it were, by their separation. Nor can it be believed that these levées will ever change their position, since they consist of a hard soil, covered with pretty large trees following regularly the banks of the river, which form the bed of it for more than six leagues into the sea.

In the memoir respecting New Biscay, the difficulty has been dealt with respecting the inconstancy of the savages. They know too well how important it is to them to live on good terms with us, to fail in their fidelity, in which they have never been known to fail in New France. Such an event is still less to be apprehended from those who are obedient and submissive to their caziques, whose good-will it is sufficient to gain, in order to keep the rest in obedience.



“proces verbal of the taking possession of louisiana, at the mouth of the mississippi, by the sieur de la salle, on the 9th of april, 1682.

Jaques de la Metairie, Notary of Fort Frontenac in New France, commissioned to exercise the said function of Notary during the voyage to Louisiana, in North America, by M. de la Salle, Governor of Fort Frontenac for the King, and commandant of the said Discovery by the commission of his Majesty given at St. Germain, on the 12th of May, 1678.

“To all those to whom these presents shall come, greeting; — Know, that having been requested by the said Sieur de la Salle to deliver to him an act, signed by us and by the witnesses therein named, of possession by him taken of the country of Louisiana, near the three mouths of the River Colbert, in the Gulf of Mexico, on the 9th of April, 1682.

la Salle Claiming Louisiana
Prise de possession de la Louisiane et du Fleuve Mississipi.
Taking Possession of Louisiana and the Mississippi River.
Painting by Jean-Adolphe Bocquin at Wikipedia.

“In the name of the most high, mighty, invincible, and victorious Prince, Louis the Great, by the Grace of God, King of France and of Navarre, Fourteenth of that name, and of his heirs, and the successor of his crown, we, the aforesaid Notary, have delivered the said act to the said Sieur de la Salle, the tenor whereof follows.

“On the 27th of December, 1681, M. de la Salle departed on foot to join M. De Tonty, who had preceded him with his followers and all his equipage 40 leagues into the Miamis country, where the ice on the River Chekagou, in the country of the Mascoutens, had arrested his progress, and where, when the ice became stronger, they used sledges to drag the baggage, the canoes, and a wounded Frenchman, through the whole length of this river, and on the Illinois, a distance of 70 leagues.

“At length, all the French being together, on the 25th of January, 1682, we came to Pimiteoui. From that place, the river being frozen only in some parts, we continued our route to the River Colbert, 60 leagues, or thereabouts, from Pimiteoui, and 90 leagues, or thereabouts, from the village of the Illinois. We reached the banks of the River Colbert on the 6th of January, and remained there until the 13th, waiting for the savages, whose progress had been impeded by the ice. On the 13th, all having assembled, we renewed our voyage, being 22 French, carrying arms, accompanied by the Reverend Father Zenobe Membré, one of the Recollet Missionaries, and followed by 18 New England savages, and several women, Ilgonquines, Otchipoises, and Huronnes.

“On the 14th, we arrived at the village of Maroa, consisting of a hundred cabins, without inhabitants. Proceeding about a hundred leagues down the River Colbert, we went ashore to hunt on the 26th of February. A Frenchman was lost in the woods, and it was reported to M. de la Salle, that a large number of savages had been seen in the vicinity. Thinking that they might have seized the Frenchman, and in order to observe these savages, he marched through the woods during two days, but without finding them, because they had all been frightened by the guns which they had heard, and had fled.

“Returning to camp, he sent in every direction French and savages on the search, with orders, if they fell in with savages, to take them alive without injury, that he might gain from them intelligence of this Frenchman. Gabriel Barbié, with two savages, having met five of the Chikacha nation, captured two of them. They were received with all possible kindness, and, after he had explained to them that he was anxious about a Frenchman who had been lost, and that he only detained them that he might rescue him from their hands, if he was really among them, and afterwards make with them an advantageous peace (the French doing good to everybody), they assured him that they had not seen the man whom we sought, but that peace would be received with the greatest satisfaction. Presents were then given to them, and, as they had signified that one of their villages was not more than half a day’s journey distant, M. de la Salle set out the next day to go thither; but, after traveling till night, and having remarked that they often contradicted themselves in their discourse, he declined going farther without more provisions. Having pressed them to tell the truth, they confessed that it was yet four days’ journey to their villages; and perceiving that M. de la Salle was angry at having been deceived, they proposed that one of them should remain with him, while the other carried the news to the village, whence the elders would come and join them four days’ journey below that place. The said Sieur de la Salle returned to the camp with one of these Chikachas; and the Frenchman, whom we sought, having been found, he continued his voyage, and passed the river of the Chepontias, and the village of the Metsigameas. The fog, which was very thick, prevented his finding the passage which led to the rendezvous proposed by the Chikachas.

“On the 12th of March, we arrived at the Kapaha village of Akansa. Having established a peace there, and taken possession, we passed, on the 15th, another of their villages, situate on the border of their river, and also two others, farther off in the depth of the forest, and arrived at that of Imaha, the largest village in this nation, where peace was confirmed, and where the chief acknowledged that the village belonged to his Majesty. Two Akansas embarked with M. de la Salle to conduct him to the Talusas, their allies, about fifty leagues distant, who inhabit eight villages upon the borders of a little lake. On the 19th, we passed the villages of Tourika, Jason, and Kouera; but as they did not border on the river, and were hostile to the Akansas and Taensas, we did not stop there.

“On the 20th, we arrived at the Taensas, by whom we were exceedingly well received, and supplied with a large quantity of provisions. M. de Tonty passed a night at one of their villages, where there were about 700 men carrying arms, assembled in the place. Here again a peace was concluded. A peace was also made with the Koroas, whose chief came there from the principal village of the Koroas, two leagues distant from that of the Natches. The two chiefs accompanied M. de la Salle to the banks of the river. Here the Koroa chief embarked with him, to conduct him to his village, where peace was again concluded with this nation, which, besides the five other villages of which it is composed, is allied to nearly forty others. On the 31st, we passed the village of the Oumas without knowing it, on account of the fog, and its distance from the river.

The Taensa Chief Receiving la Salle.
The Taensa Chief Receiving la Salle, March 20, 1682.
By George Catlin.

“On the 3d of April, at about 10 o’clock in the morning, we saw among the canes thirteen or fourteen canoes. M. de la Salle landed, with several of his people. Footprints were seen, and also savages, a little lower down, who were fishing, and who fled precipitately as soon as they discovered us. Others of our party then went ashore on the borders of a marsh formed by the inundation of the river. M. de la Salle sent two Frenchmen, and then two savages, to reconnoitre, who reported that there was a village not far off, but that the whole of this marsh, covered with canes, must be crossed to reach it; that they had been assailed with a shower of arrows by the inhabitants of the town, who had not dared to engage with them in the marsh, but who had then withdrawn, although neither the French nor the savages with them had fired, on account of the orders they had received not to act unless in pressing danger. Presently we heard a drum beat in the village, and the cries and howlings with which these barbarians are accustomed to make attacks. We waited three or four hours, and, as we could not encamp in this marsh, and seeing no one, and no longer hearing anything, we embarked.

“An hour afterwards, we came to the village of Maheouala, lately destroyed, and containing dead bodies and marks of blood. Two leagues below this place we encamped. We continued our voyage till the 6th, when we discovered three channels by which the River Colbert (Mississippi) discharges itself into the sea. We landed on the bank of the most western channel, about three leagues from its mouth. On the 7th, M. de la Salle went to reconnoitre the shores of the neighboring sea, and M. de Tonty likewise examined the great middle channel. They found these two outlets beautiful, large, and deep. On the 8th, we reascended the river, a little above its confluence with the sea, to find a dry place, beyond the reach of inundations. The elevation of the North Pole was here about 27°. Here we prepared a column and a cross, and to the said column were affixed the arms of France, with this inscription:


The whole party, under arms, chaunted the Te Deum, the Exaudiat, the Domine salvum fac Regem; and then, after a salute of fire-arms and cries of Vive le Roi, the column was erected by M. de la Salle, who, standing near it, said, with a loud voice, in French: — ‘In the name of the most high, mighty, invincible, and victorious Prince, Louis the Great, by the Grace of God King of France and of Navarre, Fourteenth of that name, this ninth day of April, one thousand six hundred and eighty-two, I, in virtue of the commission of his Majesty which I hold in my hand, and which may be seen by all whom it may concern, have taken, and do now take, in the name of his Majesty and of his successors to the crown, possession of this country of Louisiana, the seas, harbors, ports, bays, adjacent straits; and all the nations, people, provinces, cities, towns, villages, mines, minerals, fisheries, streams, and rivers, comprised in the extent of said Louisiana, from the mouth of the great river St. Louis, on the eastern side, otherwise called Ohio, Alighin, Sipore, or Chukagona, and this with the consent of the Chaouanons, Chikachas, and other people dwelling therein, with whom we have made alliance; as also along the River Colbert, or Mississippi, and rivers which discharge themselves therein, from its source beyond the country of the Kious or Nadouessious, and this with their consent, and with the consent of the Motantees, Ilinois, Mesigameas, Natches, Koroas, which are the most considerable nations dwelling therein, with whom also we have made alliance, either by ourselves or by others in our behalf; as far as its mouth at the sea, or Gulf of Mexico, about the 27th degree of the elevation of the North Pole, and also to the mouth of the River of Palms; upon the assurance which we have received from all these nations, that we are the first Europeans who have descended or ascended the said River Colbert; hereby protesting against all those who may in future undertake to invade any or all of these countries, people, or lands, above described, to the prejudice of the right of his Majesty, acquired by the consent of the nations herein named. Of which, and of all that can be needed, I hereby take to witness those who hear me, and demand an act of the Notary, as required by law.’

“To which the whole assembly responded with shouts of Vive le Roi, and with salutes of fire-arms. Moreover, the said Sieur de la Salle caused to be buried at the foot of the tree, to which the cross was attached, a leaden plate, on one side of which were engraved the arms of France, and the following Latin inscription: —

lvdovicvs magnvs regnat.
nono aprilis cio loc lxxxii.
robertvs cavelier, cvm domino de tonty, legato, r. p zenobio membrè recollecto, et viginti gallis, primvs hoc flvmen, inde ab ilineorvm pago, enavigavit, ejvsque ostivm fecit pervivm, nono aprilis. anni cio ioc lxxxii.

After which the Sieur de la Salle said, that his Majesty, as eldest son of the Church, would annex no country to his crown, without making it his chief care to establish the Christian religion therein, and that its symbol must now be planted; which was accordingly done at once by erecting a cross, before which the Vexilla and the Domine salvum fac Regem were sung. Whereupon the ceremony was concluded with cries of Vive le Roi.

“Of all and every of the above, the said Sieur de la Salle having required of us an instrument, we have delivered to him the same, signed by us, and by the undersigned witnesses, this ninth day of April, one thousand six hundred and eighty-two.

La Metairie,       

“De La Salle.
“P. Zenobe,
Recollet Missionary.
“Henry de Tonty.
“Francois de Boisrondet.
“Jean Bourdon.
“Sieur d’Autray.
“Jaques Cauchois.
“Pierre You.
“Gilles Meucret.
“Jean Michel,
“Jean Mas.
“Jean Dulignon.
“Nicolas de la Salle.”




ROBERT CABELIER, Esquire, Sieur de la Salle, Seigneur and Governor of the Fort Frontenac in New France, considering the great dangers and continual perils in which the voyages I undertake engage me, and wishing to acknowledge, as much as I am able, the great obligations which I owe to M. François Plet, my cousin, for the signal services which he has rendered to me in my most pressing necessities, and because it is through his assistance that I have preserved to this time Fort Frontenac against the efforts which were made to deprive me of it, I have given, granted, and transferred, and give, grant, and transfer, by these presents, to the said M. Plet, in case of my death, the seigniory and property of the ground and limits of the said fort Frontenac and its depending lands, and all my rights in the country of the Miamis, Illinois, and others to the south, together with the establishment which is in the country of the Miamis, in the condition which it shall be at the time of my death, that of Niagara, and all the others which I may have founded there, together with all barges, boats, great boats, moveables, and immoveables, rightrs, privileges, rents, lands, buildings, and other things belonging to me which shall be found there; willing that these presents be, and serve for my testament and declaration in the manner in which I ought to make it, such being my last will as above written by my hand, and signed by my hand, after having read it and again read it (lu et relu).

Made at Montreal, the 11th of August, 1681.

(Signed)            Cavelier de la Salle.



memoir sent in 1693, on the discovery of the mississippi and the neighboring nations by m. de la salle, from the year 1678 to the time of his death, and by the sieur de tonty to the year 1691.”

AFTER having been eight years in the French service, by land and by sea, and having had a hand shot off in Sicily by a grenade, I resolved to return to France to solicit employment. At that time the late M. Cavelier de la Salle came to Court, a man of great intelligence and merit, who sought to obtain leave to discover the Gulf of Mexico by crossing the southern countries of North America. Having obtained of the King the permission he desired through the favor of the late M. Colbert and M. de Seignelai, the late Monseigneur the Prince Conty, who was acquainted with him, and who honored me with his favor, directed me to him to be allowed to accompany him in his long journeys, which he very willingly assented to. We sailed from Rochelle on the 14th of July, 1678, and arrived at Quebec on the 15th of September following. We recruited there for some days, and after having taken leave of M. de Frontenac, ascended the St. Lawrence as far as Fort Frontenac (Kingston), 120 leagues from Quebec, on the banks of the Lake Frontenac (Lake Ontario), which is about 300 leagues round. After staying there four days, we embarked in a boat of 40 tons burthen to cross the lake, and on Christmas day we were opposite a village called Isonnoutouan, to which M. de la Salle sent some canoes to procure Indian corn for our subsistence. From thence we sailed towards Niagara, intending to look for a place above the Falls where a boat might be built. The winds were so contrary that we could not approach it nearer than nine leagues, which obliged us to go by land. We found there some cabins of the Iroquois, who received us well. We slept there, and the next day we went three leagues further up to look for a good place to build a boat, and there encamped. The boat we came in was lost through the obstinacy of the pilot, whom M. de la Salle had ordered to bring it ashore. The crew and the things in it were saved. M. de la Salle determined to return to Fort Frontenac over the ice, and I remained in command at Niagara, with a Father Recollet and 30 men. The boat was completed in the spring of 1679. M. de la Salle joined us with two other boats, and several men to assist us to work the boat up the Rapids, which I was not able to ascend on account of the weakness of my crew. He directed me to proceed and wait for him at the extremity of Lake Erie, at a place called Detroit, 120 leagues from Niagara, to join some Frenchmen whom he had sent off the last autumn. I embarked in a canoe of bark, and when we were near Detroit the boat came up. We got into it, and continued our voyage as far as Michilimakinac, where we arrived at the end of August, having crossed two lakes larger than that of Frontenac (Ontario). We remained there some days to rest ourselves, and as M. de la Salle intended to go to the Illinois, he sent me to the Falls of St. Mary, which is situated where Lake Superior discharges itself into Lake Huron, to look for some men who had deserted, and he in the meantime sailed for the Lake Illinois. Having arrived at Poutouatamis, an Illinois village, the calumet was sung, during which ceremony presents were given and received. There is a post placed in the midst of the assembly, where those who wish to make known their great deeds in war, striking the post, declaim on the deeds they have done. This ceremony takes place in presence of those with whom they wish to make friendship, the calumet being the symbol of peace. M. de la Salle sent his boat back to Niagara to fetch the things he wanted, and, embarking in a canoe, continued his voyage to the Miamis River, and there commenced building a house. In the meantime I came up with the deserters, and brought them back to within 30 leagues of the Miamis River, where I was obliged to leave my men, in order to hunt, our provisions failing us. I then went on to join M. de la Salle. When I arrived he told me he wished that all the men had come with me in order that he might proceed to the Illinois. I therefore retraced my way to find them, but the violence of the wind forced me to land, and our canoe was upset by the violence of the waves. It was, however, saved, but everything that was in it was lost, and for want of provisions we lived for three days on acorns. I sent word of what had happened to M. de la Salle, and he directed me to join him. I went back in my little canoe, and as soon as I arrived we ascended 25 leagues, as far as the portage, where the men whom I had left behind joined us. We made the portage, which extends about two leagues, and came to the source of the Illinois River. We embarked there, and ascending the river for 100 leagues, arrived at a village of the savages. They were absent hunting, and as we had no provisions we opened some caches of Indian corn.

During this journey some of our Frenchmen were so fatigued that they determined to leave us, but the night they intended to go was so cold that their plan was broken up. We continued our route, in order to join the savages, and found them 30 leagues above the village. When they saw us they thought we were Iroquois, and put themselves on the defensive and made their women run into the woods; but when they recognized us the women were called back with their children, and the calumet was danced to M. de la Salle and me, in order to mark their desire to live in peace with us. We gave them some merchandise for the corn which he had taken in their village. This was on the 3d of January, 1679-80.

As it was necessary to fortify ourselves during the winter we made a fort which was called Crevecœur. Part of our people deserted, and they had even put poison into our kettle. M. de la Salle was poisoned, but he was saved by some antidote afriend had given to him in France. The desertion of these men gave us less annoyance than the effect which it had on the minds of the savages. The enemies of M. de la Salle had spread a report among the Illinois that we were friends of the Iroquois, who are their greatest enemies. The effect this produced will be seen hereafter.

M. de la Salle commenced building a boat to descend the river. He sent a Father Recollet, with the Sieur Deau, to discover the nation of the Sioux, 400 leagues from the Illinois on the Mississippi River southwards, a river that runs not less than 800 leagues to the sea without rapids. He determined to go himself by land to Fort Frontenac, because he had heard nothing of the boat which he had sent to Niagara. He gave me the command of this place, and left us on the 22d of March, with five men. On his road he met with two men, whom he had sent in the autumn to Michilimakinac to obtain news of his boat. They assured him that it had not come down, and he therefore determined to continue his journey. The two men were sent to me with orders to go to the old village to visit a high rock, and to build a strong fort upon it. Whilst I was proceeding thither all my men deserted, and took away everything that was most valuable. They left me with two Recollets and three men, newly arrived from France, stripped of everything and at the mercy of the savages. All that I could do was to send an authentic account of the affair to M. de la Salle. He laid wait for them on Lake Frontenac, took some of them and killed others, after which he returned to the Illinois. As for his boat, it was never heard of.

During the time this happened the Illinois were greatly alarmed at seeing a party of 600 Iroquois. It was then near the month of September. The desertion of our men, and the journey of M. de la Salle to Fort Frontenac, made the savages suspect that we intended to betray them. They severely reproached me on the arrival of their enemies. As I was so recently come from France and was not then acquainted with their manners, I was embarrassed at this event and determined to go to the enemy with necklaces, and to tell them that I was surprised they should come to make war with a nation dependent on the government of New France, and which M. de la Salle, whom they esteemed, governed. An Illinois accompanied me, and we separated ourselves from the body of the Illinois, who, to the number of 400 only, were fighting with the enemy. When I was within gun-shot the Iroquois shot at us, seized me, took the necklace from my hand, and one of them plunged a knife into my breast, wounding a rib near the heart. However, having recognized me, they carried me into the midst of the camp, and asked me what I came for. I gave them to understand that the Illinois were under the protection of the King of France and of the Governor of the country, and that I was surprised that they wished to break with the French, and not to continue at peace. All this time skirmishing was going on on both sides, and a warrior came to give notice that their left wing was giving way, and that they had recognized some Frenchmen among the Illinois, who shot at them. On this they were greatly irritated against me, and held a council on what they should do with me. There was a man behind me with a knife in his hand, who every now and then lifted up my hair. They were divided in opinion. Tégantouki, chief of the Isonoutouan, desired to have me burnt. Agoasto, chief of the Onnoutagues, wished to have me set at liberty, as a friend of M. de la Salle, and he carried his point. They agreed that, in order to deceive the Illinois, they should give me a necklace of porcelain beads to prove that they also were children of the Governor, and ought to unite and make a good peace. They sent me to deliver this message to the Illinois. I had much difficulty in reaching them, on account of the blood I had lost, both from my wound and from my mouth. On my way I met the Fathers Gabriel de la Ribourde and Zenoble Membré, who were coming to look after me. They expressed great joy that these barbarians had not put me to death. We went together to the Illinois, to whom I reported the sentiments of the Iroquois, adding, however, that they must not altogether trust them. They retired within their village, but seeing the Iroquois present themselves every day in battle array, they went to rejoin their wives and children, three leagues off. When they went I was left with the two Recollets and three Frenchmen. The Iroquois made a fort in their village, and left us in a cabin at some distance from their fort. Two days after, the Illinois appearing on the neighboring hills, the Iroquois thought that we had some communication with them; this obliged them to take us within their fort. They pressed me to return to the Illinois and induce them to make a treaty of peace. They gave me one of their own nation as a hostage, and I went with Father Zenoble. The Iroquois remained with the Illinois, and one of the latter came with me. When we got to the fort, instead of mending matters, he spoilt them entirely by owning that they had in all only 400 men, and that the rest of their young men were gone to war, and that if the Iroquois really wished for peace they were ready to give them the beaver skins and some slaves which they had. The Iroquois called me to them and loaded me with reproaches; they told me that I was a liar to have said that the Illinois had 1,200 warriors, besides the allies who had given them assistance. Where were the 60 Frenchmen who I had told them had been left at the village? I had much difficulty in getting out of the scrape. The same evening they sent back the Illinois to tell his nation to come the next day to within half a league of the fort, and that they would there conclude the peace, which in fact they did at noon. The Iroquois gave them presents of necklaces and merchandise. The first necklace signified that the Governor of New France was angry at their having come to molest their brothers; the second was addressed to M. de la Salle with the same meaning; and the third, accompanied with merchandise, bound them as by oath to a strict alliance that hereafter they should live as brothers. They then separated, and the Illinois believed, after these presents, in the sincerity of the peace, which induced them to come several times into the fort of Iroquois, where some Illinois chiefs having asked me what I thought, I told them they had everything to fear, that their enemies had no good faith, that I knew that they were making canoes of elm-bark, and that consequently it was intended to pursue them; and that they should take advantage of any delay to retire to some distant nation, for that they would most assuredly be betrayed.

The eighth day after their arrival, on the 10th of September, the Iroquois called me and the Father Zenoble to council, and having made me sit down, they placed six packets of beaver skins before us, and addressing me, they said, that the two first packets were to inform M. de Frontenac that they would not eat his children, and that he should not be angry at what they had done; the third, a plaster for my wound; the fourth, some oil to rub on my own and Father Zenoble’s limbs, on account of the long journeys we had taken; the fifth, that the sun was bright; the sixth, that we should profit by it and depart the next day for the French settlements. I asked them when they would go away themselves. Murmurs arose, and some of them said that they would eat some of the Illinois before they went away; upon which I kicked away their presents, saying, that I would have none of them, since they desired to eat the children of the Governor. An Abenakis who was with them, who spoke French, told me that I irritated them, and the chiefs rising drove me from the council. We went to our cabin, where we passed the night on our guard, resolved to kill some of them before they should kill us, for we thought that we should not live out the night. However, at daybreak they directed us to depart, which we did. After five hours’ sailing we landed to dry our peltries which were wet, while we repaired our canoe. The Father Gabriel told me he was going aside to pray. I advised him not to go away, because we were surrounded by enemies. He went about 1000 paces off, and was taken by forty savages, of a nation called Kikapous, who carried him away and broke his head. Finding that he did not return, I went to look for him with one of the men. Having discovered his trail, I found it cut by several others, which joined and ended at last in one. I brought back this sad news to the Father Zenoble, who was greatly grieved at it. Towards evening we made a great fire, hoping that perhaps he might return; and we went over to the other side of the river, where we kept a good look out. Towards midnight we saw a man at a distance, and then many others. The next day we crossed over the river to look for our crew, and after waiting till noon we embarked and reached the Lake Illinois by short journeys, always hoping to meet with the good father. After having sailed on the lake as far as La Touissant we were wrecked, twenty leagues from the village of Poutouatamis. Our provisions failing us, I left a man to take care of our things and went off by land; but as I had a fever constantly on me and my legs were swollen, we did not arrive at this village till St. Martin’s day (November 11, 1680). During this journey we lived on wild garlick, which we were obliged to grub up from under the snow. When we arrived we found no savages: they were gone to their winter quarters. We were obliged to go to the places they had left, where we obtained hardly as much as two handfuls of Indian corn a day, and some frozen gourds which we piled up in a cabin at the water’s side. Whilst we were gleaning, a Frenchman whom we had left at the cache, came to the cabin where we had left our little store of provisions. He thought we had put them there for him, and therefore did not spare them. We were very much surprised, as we were going off to Michilimakinac, to find him in the cabin, where he had arrived three days before. We had much pleasure in seeing him again, but little to see our provisions partly consumed. We did not delay to embark, and after two hours’ sail, the wind in the offing obliged us to land, when I saw a fresh trail, and directed that it should be followed. It led to the Poutouatamis village, who had made a portage to the bay of the Puans. The next day, weak as we were, we carried our canoe and all our things into this bay, to which there was a league of portage. We embarked in Sturgeon Creek, and turned to the right at hazard, not knowing where to go. After sailing for a league, we found a number of cabins, which led us to expect soon to find the savages.

Five leagues from this place we were stopped by the wind for eight days, which compelled us to consume the few provisions we had collected together, and at last we were without anything. We held a council, and despairing of being able to come up with the savages, every one asked to return to the village, where at least there was wood, so that we might die warm. The wind lulling we set off, and on entering Sturgeon’s Creek we saw a fire made by savages who had just gone away. We thought they were gone to their village, and determined to go there; but the creek having frozen in the night we could not proceed in our canoe. We made shoes of the late Father Gabriel’s cloak, having no leather. We were to have started in the morning, but one of my men being very ill from having eaten some parre-fleche in the evening, delayed us. As I was urging our starting, two Ottawas savages came up, who led us to where the Poutouatamis were. We found some Frenchmen with them, who kindly received us. I spent the winter with them, and the Father Zenoble left us to pass the winter with the Jesuits at the end of the bay. I left this place in the spring (1681) for Michilimakinac, hardly recovered from the effects of what we had suffered from hunger and cold during thirty-four days. We arrived at Michilimakinac about the fàte Dieu in October. M. de la Salle arrived with M. Forest some days afterwards, on his way to seek us at the Illinois. He was very glad to see us again, and notwithstanding the many past reverses, made new preparations to continue the discovery which he had undertaken. I therefore embarked with him for Fort Frontenac, to fetch things that we should want for the expedition. The Father Zenoble accompanied us. When we came to Lake Frontenac, M. de la Salle went forward, and I waited for his boat at the village of Tezagon. When it arrived there I embarked for Illinois. At the Miamis River I assembled some Frenchmen and savages for the voyage of discovery, and M. de la Salle joined us in October. We went in canoes to the River Chicagou, where there is a portage which joins that of the Illinois. The rivers being frozen, we made sledges and dragged our baggage thirty leagues below the village of Illinois, where, finding the navigation open, we arrived at the end of January at the great River Mississippi. The distance from Chicagou was estimated at 140 leagues. We descended the river, and found, six leagues below, on the right, a great river, which comes from the west, on which there are numerous nations. We slept at its mouth. The next day we went on to the village of Tamarous, six leagues off on the left. There was no one there, all the people being at their winter quarters in the woods. We made marks to inform the savages that we had passed, and continued our route as far as the River Ouabache, which is eighty leagues from that of Illinois. It comes from the east, and is more than 500 leagues in length. It is by this river that the Iroquois advance to make war against the nations of the south. Continuing our voyage about sixty leagues, we came to a place which was named Fort Prudhomme, because one of our men lost himself there when out hunting, and was nine days without food. As they were looking for him they fell in with two Chikasas savages, whose village was three days’ journey inland. They have 2,000 warriors, the greatest number of whom have flat heads, which is considered a beauty among them, the women taking pains to flatten the heads of their children, by means of a cushion which they put on the forehead and bind with a band, which they also fasten to the cradle, and thus make their heads take this form. When they grow up their faces are as big as a large soup plate. All the nations on the sea-coast have the same custom.

M. de la Salle sent back one of them with presents to his village, so that, if they had taken Prudhomme, they might send him back, but we found him on the tenth day, and as the Chikasas did not return, we continued our route as far as the village of Cappa, fifty leagues off. We arrived there in foggy weather, and as we heard the sound of the tambor we crossed over to the other side of the river, where, in less than half an hour, we made a fort. The savages having been informed that we were coming down the river, came in their canoes to look for us. We made them land, and sent two Frenchmen as hostages to their village; the chief visited us with the calumet, and we went to the savages. They regaled us with the best they had, and after having danced the calumet to M. de la Salle, they conducted us to their village of Toyengan, eight leagues from Cappa. They received us there in the same manner, and from thence they went with us to Toriman, two leagues further on, where we met with the same reception. It must be here remarked that these villages, the first of which is Osotonoy, are six leagues to the right descending the river, and are commonly called Akancas (Arkansas). The first three villages are situated on the great river (Mississippi). M. de la Salle erected the arms of the King there; they have cabins made with the bark of cedar; they have no other worship than the adoration of all sorts of animals. Their country is very beautiful, having abundance of peach, plum and apple trees, and vines flourish there; buffaloes, deer, stags, bears, turkeys, are very numerous. They have even domestic fowls. They have very little snow during the winter, and the ice is not thicker than a dollar. They gave us guides to conduct us to their allies, the Taencas, six leagues distant.

The Gulf Coast in 1683.
la Salle at the Mouth of the Arkansas River on March 13, 1682.
By George Catlin.

The first day we began to see and to kill alligators, which are numerous and from 15 to 20 feet long. When we arrived opposite to the village of the Taencas, M. de la Salle desired me to go to it and inform the chief of his arrival. I went with our guides, and we had to carry a bark canoe for ten arpens, and to launch it on a small lake in which their village was placed. I was surprised to find their cabins made of mud and covered with cane mats. The cabin of the chief was 40 feet square, the wall 10 feet high, a foot thick, and the roof, which was of a dome shape, about 15 feet high. I was not less surprised when, on entering, I saw the chief seated on a camp bed, with three of his wives at his side, surrounded by more than 60 old men, clothed in large white cloaks, which are made by the women out of the bark of the mulberry tree, and are tolerably well worked. The women were clothed in the same manner; and every time the chief spoke to them, before answering him, they howled and cried out several times — “O-o-o-o-o-o!” to show their respect for him, for their chiefs are held in as much consideration as our kings. No one drinks out of the chief’s cup, nor eats out of his plate, and no one passes before him; when he walks they clean the path before him. When he dies they sacrifice his youngest wife, his house-steward (maître d’hotel), and a hundred men, to accompany him into the other world. They have a form of worship, and adore the sun. There is a temple opposite the house of the chief, and similar to it, except that three eagles are placed on this temple, who look towards the rising sun. The temple is surrounded with strong mud walls, in which are fixed spikes, on which they place the heads of their enemies whom they sacrifice to the sun. At the door of the temple is a block of wood, on which is a great shell (vignot), and plaited round with the hair of their enemies in a plait as thick as an arm, and about 20 fathoms (toises) long. The inside of the temple is naked; there is an altar in the middle, and at the foot of the altar three logs of wood are placed on end, and a fire is kept up day and night by two old priests (jongleurs), who are the directors (maître) of their worship. These old men showed me a small cabinet within the wall, made of mats of cane. Desiring to see what was inside, the old men prevented me, giving me to understand that their God was there. But I have since learnt that it is the place where they keep their treasure, such as fine pearls which they fish up in the neighborhood, and European merchandise. At the last quarter of the moon all the cabins make an offering of a dish of the best food they have, which is placed at the door of the temple. The old men take care to carry it away, and to make a good feast of it with their families. Every spring they make a clearing, which they name “the field of the spirit,” when all the men work to the sound of the tambour. In the autumn the Indian corn is harvested with much ceremony, and stored in magazines until the moon of June in the following year, when all the village assemble, and invite their neighbors to eat it. They do not leave the ground until they have eaten it all, making great rejoicings the whole time. This is all I learnt of this nation. The three villages below have the same customs.

Let us return to the chief. When I was in his cabin he told me with a smiling countenance the pleasure he felt at the arrival of the French. I saw that one of his wives wore a pearl necklace. I presented her with ten yards of blue glass beads in exchange for it. She made some difficulty, but the chief having told her to let me have it, she did so. I carried it to M. de la Salle, giving him an account of all that I had seen, and told him that the chief intended to visit him the next day — which he did. He would not have done this for savages, but the hope of obtaining some merchandise induced him to act thus. He came the next day with wooden canoes to the sound of the tambour and the music of the women. The savages of the river use no other boats than these. M. de la Salle received him with much politeness, and gave him some presents; they gave us, in return, plenty of provisions and some of their robes. The chiefs returned well satisfied. We stayed during the day, which was the 22d of March. An observation gave 31° of latitude. We left on the 22d, and slept in an island ten leagues off. The next day we saw a canoe, and M. de la Salle ordered me to chase it, which I did, and as I was just on the point of taking it, more than 100 men appeared on the banks of the river to defend their people. M. de la Salle shouted out to me to come back, which I did. We went on and encamped opposite them. Afterwards, M. de la Salle expressing a wish to meet them peaceably, I offered to carry to them the calumet, and embarking, went to them. At first they joined their hands, as a sign that they wished to be friends; I, who had but one hand, told our men to do the same thing.

I made the chief men among them cross over to M. de la Salle, who accompanied them to their village, three leagues inland, and passed the night there with some of his men. The next day he returned with the chief of the village where he had slept, who was a brother of the great chief of the Natches; he conducted us to his brother’s village, situated on the hill side, near the river, at six leagues’ distance. We were well received there. This nation counts more than 300 warriors. Here the men cultivate the ground, hunt, and fish, as well as the Taencas, and their manners are the same. We departed thence on Good Friday, and after a voyage of 20 leagues, encamped at the mouth of a large river, which runs from the west. We continued our journey, and crossed a great canal, which went towards the sea on the right. Thirty leagues further on we saw some fishermen on the bank of the river, and sent to reconnoitre them. It was the village of the Quinipissas, who let fly their arrows upon our men, who retired in consequence. As M. de la Salle would not fight against any nation, he made us embark. Twelve leagues from this village, on the left, is that of the Tangibaos. Scarcely eight days before this village had been totally destroyed. Dead bodies were lying on one another, and the cabins were burnt. We proceeded on our course, and after sailing 40 leagues, arrived at the sea on the 7th of April, 1682.

M. de la Salle sent canoes to inspect the channels; some of them went to the channel on the right hand, some to the left, and M. de la Salle chose the centre. In the evening each made his report, that is to say, that the channels were very fine, wide, and deep. We encamped on the right bank, we erected the arms of the King, and returned several times to inspect the channels. The same report was made. This river is 800 leagues long, without rapids, 400 from the country of the Scioux, and 400 from the mouth of the Illinois river to the sea. The banks are almost uninhabitable, on account of the spring floods. The woods are all those of a boggy district, the country one of canes and briars and of trees torn up by the roots; but a league or two from the river, the most beautiful country in the world, prairies, woods of mulberry trees, vines, and fruits that we were not acquainted with. The savages gather the Indian corn twice in the year. In the lower part of the river, which might be settled, the river makes a bend N. and S., and in many places every now and then is joined by streams on the right and left. The river is only navigable [for large vessels?] as far as the village of the Natches, for above that place the river winds too much; but this does not prevent the navigation of the river from the confluence of the Ouabache and the Mississippi as far as the sea. There are but few beavers, but to make amends, there is a large number of buffaloes, bears, large wolves- -stags and hinds in abundance — and some lead mines, which yield two-thirds of ore to one of refuse. As these savages are stationary [sedentaires], and have some habits of subordination, they might be obliged to make silk in order to procure necessaries for themselves; bringing to them from France the eggs of silkworms, for the forests are full of mulberry-trees. This would be a valuable trade.

As for the country of Illinois, the river runs 100 leagues from the Fort St. Louis, to where it falls into the Mississippi. Thus it may be said to contain some of the finest lands ever seen. The climate is the same as that of Paris, though in the 40° of latitude. The savages there are active and brave, but extremely lazy, except in war, when they think nothing of seeking their enemies at a distance of 500 or 600 leagues from their own country. This constantly occurs in the country of the Iroquois, whom, at my instigation, they continually harass. Not a year passes in which they do not take a number of prisoners and scalps. A few pieces of pure copper, whose origin we have not sought, are found in the river of the Illinois country. Polygamy prevails in this nation, and is one of the great hindrances to the introduction of Christianity, as well as the fact of their having no form of worship of their own. The nations lower down would be more easily converted, because they adore the sun, which is their divinity. This is all that I am able to relate of those parts.

Let us return to the sea coast, where, provisions failing, we were obliged to leave it sooner than we wished, in order to obtain provisions in the neighboring villages. We did not know how to get anything from the village of the Quinipissas, who had so ill received us as we went down the river. We lived on potatoes until six leagues from their village, when we saw smoke. M. de la Salle sent to reconnoitre at night. Our people reported that they had seen some women. We went on at day-break, and taking four of the women, encamped on the opposite bank. One of the women was then sent with merchandise to prove that we had no evil design and wished for their alliance and for provisions. She made her report. Some of them came immediately and invited us to encamp on the other bank, which we did. We sent back the three other women, keeping, however, constant guard. They brought us some provisions in the evening, and the next morning, at day-break, the scoundrels attacked us.

We vigorously repulsed them, and by ten o’clock burnt their canoes, and, but for the fear of our ammunition failing, we should have attacked their village. We left in the evening in order to reach Natches, where we had left a quantity of grain on passing down. When we arrived there the chief came out to meet us. M. de la Salle made them a present of the scalps we had taken from the Quinipissas. They had already heard the news, for they had resolved to betray and kill us. We went up to their village, and as we saw no women there, we had no doubt of their having some evil design. In a moment we were surrounded by 1,500 men. They brought us something to eat, and we ate with our guns in our hands. As they were afraid of fire-arms, they did not dare to attack us. The chief begged M. de la Salle to go away, as his young men had not much sense, which we very willingly did — the game not being equal, we having only fifty men, French and savages. We then went on to the Taencas, and then to the Arkansas, where we were very well received. From thence we came to Fort Prudhomme, where M. de la Salle fell dangerously ill, which obliged him to send me forward, on the 6th of May, to arrange his affairs at Missilimakinac. In passing near the Ouabache, I found four Iroquois, who told us that there were 100 men of their nation coming on after them. This gave us some alarm. There is no pleasure in meeting warriors on one’s road, especially when they have been unsuccessful. I left them, and at about twenty leagues from Tamaraas we saw smoke. I ordered our people to prepare their arms, and we resolved to advance, expecting to meet the Iroquois. When we were near the smoke, we saw some canoes, which made us think that they could only be Illinois or Tamaraas. They were in fact the latter. As soon as they saw us, they came out of the wood in great numbers to attack us, taking us for Iroquois. I presented the calumet to them — they put down their arms, and conducted us to their village without doing us any harm. The chiefs held a council, and, taking us for Iroquois, resolved to burn us; and, but for some Illinois among us, we should have fared ill. They let us proceed. We arrived about the end of June, 1683 (1682), at the River Chicagou, and, by the middle of July, at Michilimakinac. M. de la Salle, having recovered, joined us in September. Resolving to go to France, he ordered me to collect together the French who were on the River Miamis to construct the Fort of St. Louis in the Illinois. I left with this design, and when I arrived at the place, M. de la Salle, having changed his mind, joined me. They set to work at the fort, and it was finished in March, 1683.

During the winter I gave all the nations notice of what we had done to defend them from the Iroquois, through whom they had lost 700 people in previous years. They approved of our good intentions, and established themselves, to the number of 300 cabins, near the Fort Illinois, as well Miamis as Chawanons.

M. de la Salle departed for France in the month of September, leaving me to command the fort. He met on his way the Chevalier de Bogis, whom M. de la Barre had sent with letters, ordering M. de la Salle to Quebec, who had no trouble in making the journey, as he was met with on the road. M. de la Salle wrote to me to receive M. de Bogis well, which I did. The winter passed, and on the 20th of March, 1684, being informed that the Iroquois were about to attack us, we prepared to receive them, and dispatched a canoe to M. de la Durantaye, Governor of Missilimakinac, for assistance, in case the enemy should hold out against us a long time. The savages appeared on the 21st, and we repulsed them with loss. After six days’ siege they retired with some slaves which they had made in the neighborhood, who afterwards escaped and came back to the fort.

M. de la Durantaye, with Father Daloy, a Jesuit, arrived at the Fort with about sixty Frenchmen, whom they brought to our assistance, and to inform me of the orders of M. de la Barre, to leave the place. They stated that M. de Bogis was in possession of a place belonging to M. de la Forêt, who had accompanied M. de la Salle to France, and had returned by order of M. de la Salle with a lettre de cachet. M. de la Barre was directed to deliver up to M. de la Forêt the lands belonging to the Sieur de la Salle, and which were occupied by others to his prejudice. He brought me news that M. de la Salle was sailing by way of the islands to find the mouth of the Mississippi, and had at court obtained a company for me. He sent me orders to command at Fort St. Louis, as Captain of Foot and Governor. We took measures together, and formed a company of twenty men to maintain the Fort. M. de la Forêt went away in the autumn, for Fort Frontenac, and I began my journey to Illinois. Being stopped by the ice, I was obliged to halt at Montreal, where I passed the winter. When M. de la Forêt arrived there in the spring, we took new measures — he returned to Frontenac, and I went on to the Illinois, where I arrived in June (1685). M. le Chevalier de Bogis retired from his command, according to the orders that I brought him from M. de la Barre.

The Miamis having seriously defeated the Illinois, it cost us 1,000 dollars to reconcile these two nations, which I did not accomplish without great trouble. In the autumn I embarked for Missilimakinac, in order to obtain news of M. de la Salle. I heard there that Monseigneur de Denonville had succeeded M. de la Barre; and by a letter which he did me the honor to write to me, he expressed his wish to see me, that we might take measures for a war against the Iroquois, and informed me that M. de la Salle was engaged in seeking the mouth of the Mississippi in the Gulf of Mexico. Upon hearing this I resolved to go in search of him with a number of Canadians, and as soon as I should have found him, to return back to execute the orders of M. de Denonville.

I embarked, therefore, for the Illinois, on St. Andrew’s Day (30th of October, 1685); but being stopped by the ice, I was obliged to leave my canoe and to proceed on by land. After going 120 leagues, I arrived at the Fort of Chicagou, where M. de la Durantaye commanded; and from thence I came to Fort St. Louis, where I arrived in the middle of January, 1685 (1686). I departed thence on the 16th February, with thirty Frenchmen, and five Illinois and Chawanons, for the sea, which I reached in Holy Week. After having passed the above-named nations, I was very well received. I sent out two canoes, one towards the coast of Mexico, and the other towards Carolina, to see if they could discover anything. They each sailed about thirty leagues, but proceeded no farther for want of fresh water. They reported that where they had been the land began to rise. They brought me a porpoise and some oysters. As it would take us five months to reach the French settlements, I proposed to my men, that if they would trust to me to follow the coast as far as Manhatte, that by this means we should arrive shortly at Montreal; that we should not lose our time, because we might discover some fine country, and might even take some booty on our way. Part of my men were willing to adopt my plan; but as the rest were opposed to it, I decided to return the way I came.

The tide does not rise more than two feet perpendicularly on the sea coast, and the land is very low at the entrance of the river. We encamped in the place where M. de la Salle had erected the arms of the King. As they had been thrown down by the floods, I took them five leagues further up, and placed them in a higher situation. I put a silver ecu in the hollow of a tree to serve as a mark of time and place. We left this place on Easter Monday. When we came opposite the Quinipissas Village, the chiefs brought me the calumet, and declared the sorrow they felt at the treachery they had perpetrated against me on our first voyage. I made an alliance with them. Forty leagues higher up, on the right, we discovered a village inland, with the inhabitants of which we also made an alliance. These are the Oumas, the bravest savages of the river. When we were at Arkansas, ten of the Frenchmen who accompanied me asked for a settlement on the River Arkansas, on a seignory that M. de la Salle had given me on our first voyage. I granted the request to some of them. They remained there to build a house surrounded with stakes. The rest accompanied me to Illinois, in order to get what they wanted. I arrived there on St. John’s Day (24th of June). I made two chiefs of the Illinois embark with me in my canoe, to go and receive the orders of M. de Denonville, and we arrived at Montreal by the end of July.

I left that place at the beginning of October to return to the Illinois. I came there on the 10th of October, and I directly sent some Frenchmen to our savage allies to declare war against the Iroquois, inviting them to assemble at the Fort of Bonhomme, which they did in the month of April, 1686 (1687). The Sieur de la Forêt was already gone in a canoe with 30 Frenchmen, and he was to wait for me at Detroit till the end of May. I gave our savages a dog feast (festin de chien); and after having declared to them the will of the King and of the Governor, I left with 16 Frenchmen and a guide for the Miami nation. We encamped half a league from the Fort, to wait for the savages who might wish to follow us. I left 20 Frenchmen at the Fort, and the Sieur de Bellefontaine to command there during my absence. Fifty Chaganons, four Loups, and seven Miamis came to join me at night; and the next day more than 300 Illinois came, but they went back again, with the exception of 149. This did not prevent my continuing my route; and after 200 leagues of journey by land, we came, on the 19th of May, to Fort Detroit. We made some canoes of elm, and I sent one of them to Fort St. Joseph on the high ground above Detroit, 30 leagues from where we were, to give the Sieur Dulud, the Commander of this Fort, information of my arrival. The Sieur Beauvais de Tilly joined me, and afterwards the Sieur de la Forêt; then the Sieurs de la Durantaye and Dulud. I made the French and the savages coast along the bay. After Le Sieur Durantaye had saluted us, we returned the salute. They had with them 30 English, whom they had taken on the Lake Huron, at the place at which they had reached it. We made canoes on our journey, and coasted along Lake Erie to Niagara, where we made a fort below the portage to wait there for news. On our way we took 30 more Englishmen, who were going to Missilimakinac, commanded by Major Gregory, who was bringing back some Huron and Outawas slaves, taken by the Iroquois. Had it not been for these two moves of good luck our affairs would have turned out badly, as we were at war with the Iroquois. The English, from the great quantity of brandy which they had with them, would have gained over our allies, and thus we should have had all the savages and the English upon us at once.

I sent the Sieur de la Forêt forward to inform M. de Denonville of everything. He was at the Fort of Frontenac, and he joined us at Fort Les Sables. The large boat arrived and brought us provisions. M. le Monseigneur sent us word by it that he expected to arrive by the 10th of July at the Marsh, which is seven leagues from Sonnontouans. The Poutouatamis, Hourons, and Ottowas, joined us there, and built some canoes. There was an Iroquois slave among them whom I proposed to have put to death for the insolent manner in which he spoke of the French. They paid no attention to my proposal. Five leagues on our march he ran away and gave information of our approach, and of the marks which our savages bore to recognize each other, which did us great harm in the ambuscade, as will be seen.

On the 10th we arrived at the Marsh of Fort Les Sables, and the army from below arrived at the same time. I received orders to take possession of a certain position, which I did with my company and savages. We then set about building a fort. On the 11th I went with 50 men to reconnoitre the road, three miles from the camp. On the 12th the Fort was finished, and we set off for the village. On the 13th, half a league from the prairie (deserts) we found an ambuscade, and my company, who were the advance guard, forced it. We lost seven men, of whom my lieutenant was one, and two of my own people. We were occupied for seven days in cutting the corn of the four villages. We returned to Fort Les Sables, and left it to build a fort at Niagara. From thence I returned to Fort St. Louis with my cousin, the Sieur Dulud, who returned to his post with 18 soldiers and some savages. Having made half the portage, which is two leagues in length, some Hourons who followed us perceived some Iroquois, and ran to give us warning. There were only 40 of us, and as we thought the enemy strong, we agreed to fall back with our ammunition towards the Fort, and get a reinforcement. We marched all night, and as the Sieur Dulud could not leave his detachment, he begged me to go to the Marquis, while he lay in ambush in a very good position. I embarked, and when I came to the Fort, the Marquis was unwilling to give me any men, the more so as the militia was gone away, and he had only some infantry remaining to escort him; however, he sent Captain Valiennes and 50 men to support us, who stayed at the portage whilst we crossed it. We embarked, and when clear of the land we perceived the Iroquois on the banks of the lake. We passed over, and I left the Sieur Dulud at his post at Detroit. I went in company with the Reverend Father Crévier as far as Missilimakinac, and afterwards to Fort St. Louis.

There I found M. Cavelier, a priest, his nephew, and the Father Anastatius, a Recollet, and two men. They concealed from me the assassination of M. de la Salle; and upon their assuring me that he was on the Gulf of Mexico in good health, I received them as if they had been M. de la Salle himself, and lent them more than 700 francs (281.). M. Cavelier departed in the spring, 1687 (1688), to give an account of his voyage at court.

M. de la Forêt came here in the autumn, and went away in the following spring. On the 7th of April, one named Coutoure brought to me two Akansas, who danced the calumet. They informed me of the death of M. de la Salle, with all the circumstances which they had heard from the lips of M. Cavelier, who had fortunately discovered the house I had built at Arkansas, where the said Coutoure stayed with three Frenchmen. He told me that the fear of not obtaining from me what he desired had made him conceal the death of his brother, but that he had told them of it.

M. Cavelier told me that the Cadadoquis had proposed to accompany him if he would go and fight against the Spaniards. He had objected, on account of there being only 14 Frenchmen. They replied that their nation was numerous, that they only wanted a few musqueteers, and that the Spaniards had much money, which they (the French) should take; and as for themselves, they only wished to keep the women and children as slaves. Coutoure told me that a young man whom M. Cavelier had left at Arkansas had assured him that this was very true. I would not undertake anything without the consent of the Governor of Canada. I sent the said Coutoure to the French remaining in Nicondiché, to get all the information he could. He set off, and at 100 leagues from the Fort was wrecked, and having lost everything returned.

In the interval, M. de Denonville directed me to let the savages do as they liked, and to do nothing against the Iroquois. He at the same time informed me that war was declared against Spain. Upon this I came to the resolution of going to Naodiché, to execute what M. Chevalier had ventured to undertake, and to bring back M. de la Salle’s men, who were on the sea coast not knowing of the misfortune that had befallen him. I set off on the 3d of October, and joined my cousin, who was gone on before, and who was to accompany me, as he expected that M. de la Forêt would come and take the command in my absence; but as he did not come, I sent my cousin back to command the Fort.

I bought a larger boat than my own. We embarked five Frenchmen, one Chaganon, and two slaves. We arrived on the 17th at an Illinois village at the mouth of their river. They had just come from fighting the Osages, and had lost 13 men, but brought back 130 prisoners. We reached the village of the Kappas on the 16th of January, where we were received with demonstrations of joy, and for four days there was nothing but dancing, feasting, and masquerading after their manner. They danced the calumet for me, which confirmed the last alliance. On the 20th of January we came to Tongenga, and they wished to entertain us as the Kappas had done; but being in haste, I deferred it until another time. I did the same with the Torremans, on my arrival on the 22d. Leaving my crew I set off the next day for Assotoué, where my commercial house is. These savages had not yet seen me, as they lived on a branch of the river coming from the west. They did their best, giving me two women of the Cadadoquis nation, to whom I was going. I returned to Torremans on the 26th, and bought there two boats. We went away on the 27th. On the 29th, finding one of our men asleep when on duty as sentinel, I reprimanded him, and he left me. I sent two of my people to Coroa, to spare myself the fatigue of dragging on with our crew six leagues inland. The Frenchman, with whom I had quarrelled, made with them a third. We slept opposite the rivers of the Taencas, which run from Arkansas. They came there on the 2d, this being the place of meeting. My Chagenon went out hunting on the other side of the river, where he was attacked by three Chacoumas. He killed one of them, and was slightly wounded by an arrow on the left breast.

On the 4th the rest of the party arrived. On the 5th, being opposite Taencas, the men whom I had sent to Coroa not having brought any news of the two Frenchmen whom I was anxious about, I sent them to Natchés. They found that this nation had killed the two men. They retired as well as they could, making the savages believe that we were numerous. They arrived on the 8th of February. We set off on the 12th with 12 Taencas, and after a voyage of twelve leagues to the N.W., we left our boat and made twenty leagues portage, and on the 17th of February, 1690, came to Nachitoches. They made us stay at the place, which is in the midst of the three villages called Nachitoches, Ouasita, and Capiché. The chiefs of the three nations assembled, and before they began to speak, the 30 Taencas who were with me got up, and leaving their arms went to the temple, to show how sincerely they wished to make a solid peace. After having taken their God to witness, they asked for friendship. I made them some presents in the name of the Taencas. They remained some days in the village to traffic with salt, which these nations got from a salt lake in the neighborhood. After their departure they gave me guides to Yatachés; and after ascending the river always towards the N.W. about thirty leagues, we found fifteen cabins of Natchés, who received us pretty well. We arrived, on the 16th of March, at Yatachés, about forty leagues from thence. The three villages of Yatachés, Nadas, and Choye, are together. As they knew of our arrival, they came three leagues to meet us with refreshments, and on joining us we went together to their villages. The chief made many feasts for us. I gave presents to them, and asked for guides to the Cadadoquis. They were very unwilling to give us any, as they had murdered three ambassadors about four days before, who came to their nation to make peace.

However, by dint of entreaties, and assuring them that no harm would happen to their people, they granted me five men, and we got to Cadadoquis on the 28th. At the place where we were encamped we discovered the trail of men and horses. The next day some horsemen came to reconnoitre us, and after speaking to the wife of the chief whom I brought back with me, carried back the news. The next day a woman, who governed this nation, came to visit me, with the principal persons of the village. She wept over me, demanding revenge for the death of her husband, and of the husband of the woman whom I was bringing back, both of whom had been killed by the Osages. To take advantage of everything I promised that their dead should be avenged. We went together to their temple, and after the priests had invoked their God for a quarter of an hour they conducted me to the cabin of their chief. Before entering they washed my face with water, which is a ceremony among them. During the time I was there, I learnt from them that eighty leagues off were the seven Frenchmen whom M. Cavelier had left. I hoped to finish my troubles by rejoining them, but the Frenchmen who accompanied me, tired of the voyage, would go no further. They were unmanageable persons, over whom I could exercise no authority in this distant country. I was obliged to give way. All that I could do was to engage one of them, with a savage, to accompany me to the village of Naovediché, where I hoped to find the seven Frenchmen. I told those who abandoned me, that to prevent the savages knowing this, it was best to say that I had sent them away to carry back the news of my arrival, so that the savages should not suspect our disunion.

The Cadadoquis are united with two other villages called Natchitoches and Nasoui, situated on the Red River. All the nations of this tribe speak the same language. Their cabins are covered with straw, and they are not united in villages, but their huts are distant one from the other. Their fields are beautiful. They fish and hunt. There is plenty of game, but few cattle (bœufs). They wage cruel war with each other — hence their villages are but thinly populated. I never found that they did any work, except making very fine bows, which they make a traffic with distant nations. The Cadadoquis possess about thirty horses, which they call “cavali” (sp: caballo, a horse). The men and women are tattooed in the face, and all over the body. They call this river the Red River, because, in fact, it deposits a sand which makes the water as red as blood. I am not acquainted with their manners, having only seen them in passing.

I left this place on the 6th of April, directing our route southwards, with a Frenchman, a Chaganon, a little slave of mine, and five of their savages, whom they gave me as guides to Naouadiché. When I went away, I left in the hands of the wife of the chief a small box, in which I had put some ammunition. On our road we found some Naouadichés savages hunting, who assured me that the Frenchmen were staying with them. This gave me great pleasure, hoping to succeed in my object of finding them. On the 19th the Frenchman with me lost himself. I sent the savages who were with me to look for him. He came back on the 21st, and told me that, having lost our trail, he was near drowning himself in crossing a little river on a piece of timber. His bag slipped off, and thus all our powder was lost, which very much annoyed me, as we were reduced to sixty pounds of ammunition. On the 23d we slept half a league from the village, and the chiefs came to visit us at night. I asked them about the Frenchmen. They told me that they had accompanied their chiefs to fight against the Spaniards seven days’ journey off; that the Spaniards had surrounded them with their cavalry, and that their chief having spoken in their favor, the Spaniards had given them horses and arms. Some of the others told me that the Quanouatins had killed three of them, and that the four others were gone in search of iron arrow-heads: I did not doubt but they had murdered them. I told them that they had killed the Frenchmen. Directly all the women began to cry, and thus I saw that what I had said was true. I would not, therefore, accept the calumet. I told the chief I wanted four horses for my return, and having given him seven hatchets and a string of large glass beads, I received the next day four Spanish horses, two of which were marked on the haunch with an R and a crown (couronne fermée), and another with an N. Horses are very common among them. There is not a cabin which has not four or five. As this nation is sometimes at peace and sometimes at war with the neighboring Spaniards, they take advantage of a war to carry off the horses. We harnessed ours as well as we could, and departed on the 29th, greatly vexed that we could not continue our route as far as M. de la Salle’s camp. We were unable to obtain guides from this nation to take us there, though not more than eighty leagues off, besides being without ammunition, owing to the accident which I related before.

It was at the distance of three days’ journey from hence that M. de la Salle was murdered. I will say a few words of what I have heard of this misfortune. M. de la Salle having landed beyond the Mississippi, on the side of Mexico, about 80 leagues from the mouth of the river, and losing his vessels on the coast, saved a part of the cargo, and began to march along the sea-shore, in search of the Mississippi. Meeting with many obstacles on account of the bad roads, he resolved to go to Illinois by land, and loaded several horses with his baggage. The Father Anastatius, M. Cavelier, a priest, his brother; M. Cavelier, his nephew; M. Moranget, a relative; MM. Duhault and Lanctot, and several Frenchmen accompanied him, with a Chaganon savage. When three days’ journey from the Naoudiché, and short of provisions, he sent Moranget, his servant, and the Chaganon, to hunt in a small wood, with orders to return in the evening. When they had killed some buffaloes, they stopped to dry the meat. M. de la Salle was uneasy, and asked the Frenchmen who among them would go and look for them. Duhault and Lanctot had for a long time determined to kill M. de la Salle, because, during the journey along the sea-coast, he had compelled the brother of Lanctot, who was unable to keep up, to return to the camp: and who, when returning alone, was massacred by the savages. Lanctot vowed to God that he would never forgive his brother’s death. As in long journeys there are always discontented persons, he easily found partisans. He offered, therefore, with them, to search for M. Moranget, in order to have an opportunity to execute their design. Having found the men, he told them that M. de la Salle was uneasy about them; but the others showing that they could not set off till the next day, it was agreed to sleep there. After supper they arranged the order of the watch. It was to begin with M. de Moranget; after him was to follow the servant of M. de la Salle, and then the Chaganon. After they had kept their watch and were asleep, they were massacred, as persons attached to M. de la Salle. At daybreak they heard the reports of pistols, which were fired as signals by M. de la Salle, who was coming with the Father Recollet in search of them. The wretches laid wait for him, placing M. Duhault’s servant in front. When M. de la Salle came near, he asked where M. Moranget was. The servant, keeping on his hat, answered, that he was behind. As M. de la Salle advanced to remind him of his duty, he received three balls in his head, and fell down dead. The Father Recollet was frightened, and, thinking that he also was to be killed, threw himself on his knees, and begged for a quarter of an hour to prepare his soul. They replied that they were willing to save his life. They went on together to where M. Cavelier was, and, as they advanced, shouted, “Down with your arms.” M. de Cavelier, on hearing the noise, came forward, and when told of the death of his brother, threw himself on his knees, making the same request that had been made by the Father Recollet. They granted him his life. He asked to go and bury the body of his brother, which was refused. Such was the end of one of the greatest men of the age. He was a man of wonderful ability, and capable of undertaking any discovery. His death much grieved the three Naoudichés whom M. de la Salle had found hunting, and who accompanied him to the village. After the murderers had committed this crime, they seized all the baggage of the deceased, and continued their journey to the village of Naoudichés, where they found two Frenchmen who had deserted from M. de la Salle two years before, and had taken up their abode with these savages.

After staying some days in this village, the savages proposed to them to go to war against the Quanoouatinos, to which the Frenchmen agreed, lest the savages should ill-treat them. As they were ready to set off, an English buccaneer, whom M. de la Salle had always liked, begged of the murderers that, as they were going to war with the savages, they would give him and his comrades some shirts. They flatly refused, which offended him, and he could not help expressing this to his comrades. They agreed together to make a second demand, and if refused, to revenge the death of M. de la Salle. This they did some days afterwards. The Englishman, taking two pistols in his belt, accompanied by a Frenchman with his gun, went deliberately to the cabin of the murderers, whom they found were out shooting with bows and arrows. Lanctot met them, and wished them good day, and asked how they were. They answered, “pretty well, and that it was not necessary to ask how they did, as they were always eating turkeys and good venison.” Then the Englishman asked for some ammunition and shirts, as they were provided with everything. They replied that M. de la Salle was their debtor, and that what they had taken was theirs. “You will not, then?” said the Englishman. “No,” replied they. On which the Englishman said to one of them, “You are a wretch; you murdered my master,” and firing his pistol, killed him on the spot. Duhault tried to get into his cabin, but the Frenchman shot him also with a pistol in the loins, which threw him on the ground. M. Cavelier and Father Anastatius ran to his assistance. Duhault had hardly time to confess himself, for the father had but just given him absolution, when he was finished by another pistol shot at the request of the savages, who could not endure that he should live after having killed their chief. The Englishman took possession of everything. He gave a share to M. Cavelier, who having found my abode in Arkansas, went from thence to Illinois. The Englishman remained at Naoudichés.

We reached Cadadoquis on the 10th of May. We stayed there to rest our horses, and went away on the 17th, with a guide who was to take us to the village of Coroas. After four days’ journey he left us, in consequence of an accident which happened in crossing a marsh. As we were leading our horses by the bridle, he fancied he was pursued by an alligator, and tried to climb a tree. In his hurry he entangled the halter of my horse, which was drowned. This induced him to leave us without saying anything, lest we should punish him for the loss of the horse. We were thus left in great difficulty respecting the road which we were to take. I forgot to say that the savages who have horses use them both for war and for hunting. They make pointed saddles, wooden stirrups, and body-coverings of several skins, one over the other, as a protection from arrows. They arm the breast of their horses with the same material, a proof that they are not very far from the Spaniards. When our guide was gone I told the Chaganon to take the lead; all he said in answer was, that that was my business; and as I was unable to influence him, I was obliged to act as guide. I directed our course to the southeast, and after about 40 leagues’ march, crossing seven rivers, we found the River Coroas. We made a raft to explore the other side of the river, but found there no dry land. We resolved to abandon our horses, as it was impossible to take them on upon account of the great inundation. In the evening, as we were preparing to depart, we saw some savages. We called to them in vain — they ran away, and we were unable to come up with them. Two of their dogs came to us, which, with two of our own, we embarked the next day on our raft, and left our horses. We crossed 50 leagues of flooded country. The water, where it was least deep, reached halfway up the legs; and in all this tract we found only one little island of dry land, where we killed a bear and dried its flesh. It would be difficult to give an idea of the trouble we had to get out of this miserable country, where it rained night and day. We were obliged to sleep on the trunks of two great trees placed together, and to make our fire on the trees, to eat our dogs, and to carry our baggage across large tracts covered with reeds; in short, I never suffered so much in my life as in this journey to the Mississippi, which we reached on the 11th of July. Finding where we were, and that we were only 30 leagues from Coroas, we resolved to go there, although we had never set foot in that village. We arrived there on the evening of the 14th. We had not eaten for three days, as we could find no animal, on account of the great flood. I found two of the Frenchmen who had abandoned me at this village. The savages received me very well, and sympathized with us in the sufferings we had undergone. During three days they did not cease feasting us, sending men out hunting every day, and not sparing their turkeys. I left them on the 20th, and reached Arkansas on the 31st, where I caught the fever, which obliged me to stay there till the 11th of August, when I left. The fever lasted until we got to the Illinois, in September, 1690.

I cannot describe the beauty of all the countries I have mentioned. If I had had a better knowledge of them, I should be better able to say what special advantages might be derived from them. As for the Mississippi, it could produce every year 20,000 eçus’ worth of peltries, an abundance of lead, and wood for ship-building. A silk trade might be established there, and a port for the protection of vessels and the maintenance of a communication with the Gulf of Mexico. Pearls might be found there. If wheat will not grow at the lower part of the river, the upper country would furnish it; and the islands might be supplied with everything they need, such as planks, vegetables, grain, and salt beef. If I had not been hurried in making this narrative, I should have stated many circumstances which would have gratified the reader, but the loss of my notes during my travels is the reason why this relation is not such as I could have wished.

Henry de Tonty.




Henry de Tonty humbly represents to your Highness that he entered the army as a cadet, and was employed in that capacity in the years 1668 and 1669; and that he afterwards served as a garde marine four years, at Marseilles and Toulon, and made seven campaigns, that is, four on board ships of war, and three in the galleys. While at Messina, he was made captain-lieutenant to the maître de camp of 20,000. When the enemy attacked the post of Libisso his right hand was shot away by a grenade, and he was taken prisoner, and conducted to Metasse, where he was detained six months, and then exchanged for the son of the governor of that place. He then went to France, to obtain some favor from his Majesty, and the King granted him three hundred livres. He returned to the service in Sicily, made the campaign as a volunteer in the galleys, and, when the troops were discharged, being unable to obtain employment he solicited at court, but being unsuccessful, on account of the general peace, he decided, in 1678, to join the late Monsieur de la Salle, in order to accompany him in the discoveries of Mexico, during which, until 1682, he was the only officer who did not abandon him.

Henri de Tonti
The Iron Hand

These discoveries being finished, he remained, in 1683, commandant of Fort St. Louis of the Illinois; and in 1684, he was there attacked by two hundred Iroquois, whom he repulsed, with great loss on their side. During the same year he repaired to Quebec, at the command of M. de la Barre. In 1685, he returned to the Illinois, according to the orders which he received from the court, and from M. de la Salle, as a captain of foot in a Marine Detachment, and governor of Fort St. Louis. In 1686, he went, with forty men in canoes, at his own expense, as far as the Gulf of Mexico, to seek for M. de la Salle. Not being able to find him there, he returned to Montreal, and put himself under the orders of Monsieur Denonville, to engage in the war with the Iroquois. On his return to the Illinois, he marched two hundred leagues by land, and as far in canoes, and joined the army, when, being at the head of a company of Canadians, he forced the ambuscade of the Tsonnonthouans.

The campaign being over, he returned to the Illinois, whence he departed, in 1689, to go in search of the remains of M. de la Salle’s people; but, being deserted by his men, and unable to execute his design, he was compelled to relinquish it, when he had arrived within seven days’ march of the Spaniards. Ten months were spent in going and returning. As he now finds himself without employment, he prays that, in consideration of his voyages and heavy expenses, and considering also that, during his service of seven years as captain, he has not received any pay, your Highness will be pleased to obtain for him, from his Majesty, a company, that he may continue his services in this country, where he has not ceased to harass the Iroquois, by enlisting the Illinois against them in his Majesty’s cause.

And he will continue his prayers for the health of your Highness.

Henry de Tonty.

Nothing can be more true than the account given by the Sieur de Tonty in this petition; and should his Majesty reinstate the seven companies which have been disbanded in this country, there will be justice in granting one of them to him, or some other recompense for the services which he has rendered, and which he is now returning to render, at Fort St. Louis in the Illinois.





As the map accompanying this has been made in haste, without proper calculations and measurements, you may probably desire to make one; and for this purpose I will state of the Mississippi that though it winds much, we reckon from the Falls of St. Anthony to the sea eight hundred leagues, and you perceive from the note that its direction is north and south. The distance of the villages, reckoning from the mouth of the river Illinois to the sea, or ascending from the sea as far as the river Quiouentagoet (on the banks of which is a village containing eighty Illinois cabins), is calculated at sixty leagues, and from thence to the Miamis thirty leagues. The Touraxouslins and Kikapous are fifteen leagues in the interior, from the banks of the river; two hundred leagues from the junction of the river Illinois; and from thence two hundred leagues to the Falls of St. Anthony. The rivers of the Missouri come from the west, and after traversing three hundred leagues, arrive at a lake, which I believe to be that of the Apaches. The villages of the Missounta, Otenta, and Osage are near one another, and are situated in the prairies, one hundred and fifty leagues from the mouth of the Missouri. I should have stated before that the river of the Illinois is two hundred leagues in length. The Fort St. Louis, with two hundred cabins, is seventy leagues from its mouth. The little river on which are the Machigama, Chipoussa, and Michibousa, is forty leagues from the Tamazoa. These tribes are situated about ten leagues from its mouth.

The mouth of the river of the Kasquinanipo is ten leagues from the mouth of the Ouabache. The village is situated seventy leagues upwards, on the bank of the river. The Maon, a numerous nation, and at peace with no one, is at the source of the said river, one hundred leagues from the Kasquinanipo. The Ozotoues are six leagues from the mouth of the river Arkansas. The Ionica, Yazou, Coroa, and Chonque, are, one with the other, about ten leagues from the Mississippi, on the river of the Yazou; the Sioux fifteen leagues above. All these villages are situated in prairies, but it is remarkable that the country about, the soil of which is the best in the world, and is intersected by streams, has been abandoned.

The Yazou are masters of the soil. The Mauton are seventy leagues from the Ossoztoues, and forty leagues from the Cadodoquis. The Coroa are their neighbors, though thirteen leagues off.

With respect to the other nations, I have sufficiently described at what distance they are from one another, from the nations on the Mississippi, and from those on the Red River, excepting the Nadouc, who are twelve leagues from the banks. In case the court wishes this discovery to be continued, I will add a note. In that I have stated it will be requisite to build a ship of fifty tons, to get to France from the Arkansas. Two pilots, &c.; particulars of everything necessary, and more numerous than set forth in M. de la Salle’s Note.

I undertake, with God’s assistance, to descend the river, to take solar observations, to account for the expenses, and to sail to France with the said vessel built in the Arkansas. This is the place best adapted for the purpose, for we should not be interrupted by enemies; and wood, and everything necessary for subsistence is there abundant.

Henry de Tonty.


The former statement related to the expenses of the voyage, and presents for the savages. In case his Majesty grants the above request, I entreat Monseigneur de Pontchartrain to be kind enough to send orders to M. the Intendant at Rochefort to send the things to Messrs. the Count de Frontenac and Champigny, and the latter to provide twenty large canoes and forty good men to manage them.

Henry de Tonty.


AT the time when M. de la Salle was preparing for his last voyage into North America, I happened 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 settlement.

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 refreshments.

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:

  1. Custom;
  2. 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
  3. 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 misfortune proceeded.

As soon as we had dropped anchor, a piragua, 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 health.

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 casks.

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 tertian ague, 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 anchor.

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 from land.

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 anchor.

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 fathom water.

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 25° 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 board.

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 among them.

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 had seen.

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 found.

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 own ship.

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 their sport.

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 some time.

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 of February.

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 15th.

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 commander-in-chief.

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 it.

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 of.

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 sound.

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 bullet.

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 by us.

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 condition.

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 came.

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 made fast.

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 like.

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 his departure.

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 sound.

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 precautions.

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 same place.

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 dangers.

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 very high.

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 nets.

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 color.

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 several countries.

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 satisfied.

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 impatience, 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.
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 sooner.

The Gulf Coast in 1683.
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 landscape.

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 of.

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 wild fowl.

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 day.

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 dry us.

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 close by.

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 pig.

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 paper.

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 their enemies.

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 us.

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 those people.

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 bullocks’ hides.

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 also 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 wood.

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 from thence, 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 way.

Louisiana in 1687.
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 dried.

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 him.

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.
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 absolutely necessary.

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.
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 God.

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 met them.

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 journey.

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 hung up.

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 deceased.

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 killed.

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 three balls.

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 without.

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 eat them.

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 guides 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 him.

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 disturbance.

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 discovery.

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 rest satisfied.

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 30th.

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 ill words.

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 had heard.

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’ bells.

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 see us.

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 were satisfied.

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, drying it.

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 notice 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 crosses.

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 been so.

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 us.

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 following remarks.

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 relating.

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 village.

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 hundred flints, 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 other nations.

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 fright.

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 middling 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 sacrifice.

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 embark.

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 Mexico.

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 life.

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 chastisement.

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 tabors.

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 return.

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 from Canada.

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.


FINDING in myself a strong inclination to retire from the world, I entered into the Franciscan order, where I was overjoyed in reading the travels of the fathers of my own order, who were indeed the first that undertook missions into any foreign country. I thought nothing greater or more glorious than to instruct the ignorant and barbarous, and lead them to the light of the gospel. In order to which I went missionary for Canada, by command of my superiors; and embarked at Rochelle, in company of M. de Laval, since bishop of Quebec, the capital city of Canada. Our crew was about one hundred men, to three-fourths of whom I administered the sacrament, they being Catholics. I likewise performed divine service every day when the weather was calm, and we sung the Itinerary of the clergy, translated into French verse, after evening prayers.

I shall omit the accidents that befel us, being such only as are inseparable companions of all great voyages. Soon after my arrival, I was sent in mission about one hundred and twenty leagues beyond Quebec, accompanied by Father Luke Buisset. We went up the river St. Lawrence southwards, till we came to Fort Frontenac, distant from Quebec one hundred leagues. It was built to prevent the excursions of the Iroquois, and to interrupt the trade of skins these savages maintain with the inhabitants of New York, who furnish them with commodities at cheaper rates than the French of Canada.

The Iroquois are an insolent and barbarous nation, and have shed the blood of more than two millions of people in that vast extended country. They would never cease from disturbing the repose of the Europeans, were it not for fear of their firearms. For they entertain no commerce with them unless it be for arms, which they buy on purpose to use against their neighbors; and by means of which they have extended their bloody conquests five or six hundred leagues beyond their own precincts, exterminating whatever nation they hate.

I had already acquired some small knowledge of the Iroquois language; and Father Luke and I translated the Creed, Lord’s Prayer, and Litany, which we caused them to get by heart, and repeat to their children. They pronounce no labial letters, such as B, P, M, F. Here we remained two years and a half, till we saw our house of mission finished, and then returned in a canoe down the river St. Lawrence to Quebec.

Having tarried there till those who were expected from Europe to bear part in this discovery were arrived, I embarked in a small canoe, made of the bark of birch trees, carrying nothing with me but a portable chapel, one blanket, and a mat of rushes, which was to serve me for bed and quilt. I arrived at Fort Frontenac the 2d of November, 1678, and on the 18th embarked in a brigantine of about ten tons and fifteen men, the Sieur de la Motte, commander. We sailed on till we came to the further end of the Lake Ontario, and on the 6th of January entered the River Niagara, where we set our carpenters and the rest of the crew to work in building a fort and some houses; but foreseeing that this was like to give jealousy to the Iroquois, and to the English who dwell near them, and have a great commerce with them, we told those of the village of Niagara that we did not intend to build a fort on the bank of their river, but only a great store-house to keep the commodities we had brought to supply their occasions. And to remove their suspicions M. de la Motte thought it absolutely necessary to send an embassy to the Iroquois; telling me, “He was resolved to take along with him seven men out of sixteen that we were in all, and desired me to accompany him, because I understood in a manner the language of their nation.” We passed through forests thirty-two leagues, and after five days’ journey came to a great village, and were immediately carried to the cabin of their principal. The younger savages washed our feet, and rubbed them over with the grease of deer, wild goats, and oil of bears. They are for the most part tall and well shaped, covered with a sort of robe made of beavers’ and wolves’ skins, or black squirrels, holding a pipe or calumet in their hands. The senators of Venice do not appear with a graver countenance, and perhaps do not speak with more majesty and solidity than those ancient Iroquois.

One of our men who well understood their language, told the assembly,

1. That we were come to pay them a visit, and smoke with them in their pipes. Then we delivered our presents, consisting of axes, knives, a great collar of white and blue porcelain, with some gowns. The same presents were renewed upon every point we proposed to them.

2. We desired them to give notice to the five cantons of their nation, that we were about to build a ship or great canoe above the great fall of the river Niagara, to go and fetch European commodities by a more convenient passage than that of the river St. Lawrence, whose rapid currents make it dangerous and long. And that by these means we should afford them our commodities cheaper than the English of Boston, or the Dutch, at that time masters of New York. This pretence was specious enough, and very well contrived to engage the barbarous nation to extirpate the English and Dutch out of that part of America.

3. We told them that we should provide them, at the river Niagara, with a blacksmith and gunsmith to mend their guns, axes, &c., they having nobody among them that understood that trade.

Father Antoine Louis Hennepin

We added many other reasons which we thought proper to persuade them to favor our design. The presents we made unto them in cloth or iron, were worth above four hundred livres, besides some other European commodities, very scarce in that country; for the best reasons in the world are not listened to among them, unless they are enforced with presents.

The next day their speaker answered our discourse article by article, seeming to be pleased with our proposals, though they were not really so, having a greater inclination for the English and Dutch than for us. Whilst we were with them, their parties had made an excursion towards Virginia, and brought two prisoners. They spared the life of one, but put to death the other with most exquisite torments. They commonly use this inhumanity towards all their prisoners, and their torments sometimes last a month. When they have brought them into their canton, they lay them on pieces of wood, like a St. Andrew’s cross, to which they tie their legs and arms, and expose them to gnats and flies, who sting them to death. Children cut pieces of flesh out of their flanks, thighs, or other parts, and boiling them, force those poor souls to eat thereof. Their parents eat some themselves, and the better to inspire into their children a hatred of their enemies, give them some of their blood to drink. This cruelty obliged us to leave them sooner than we would have done, to show them the horror we had of their inhumanity, and never ate with them afterwards; but returned the same way we went, through the woods to the river Niagara, where we arrived the 14th of January, much fatigued with our voyage, having no food on the way but Indian corn. M. de la Motte, no longer able to endure so laborious a life, gave over his design, and returned to Canada, having about two hundred leagues to travel.

Hennepin's Map
Louis Hennepin’s 1683 Map.

On the 20th, M. de la Salle arrived from Fort Frontenac, with a great bark to supply us with provisions, rigging, and tackling for the ship we designed to build at the mouth of the lake Erie; but that bark was unfortunately cast away on the lake Ontario, within two leagues of Niagara. On the 22d, we went two leagues above the great fall of Niagara, where we made a dock for building the ship. M. de la Salle returned to Fort Frontenac, leaving one Tonti, an Italian, for our commander. He undertook this journey afoot, over the snow, having no other provision but a little sack of roasted Indian corn. However, he got home safely with two men and a dog, who dragged his baggage over the frozen snow.

Most of the Iroquois were now gone to wage war on the other side the lake Erie, and our men continued, with great application, to build our ship; for the Iroquois, who were left behind, were not so insolent as before, though they came sometimes to our dock, and expressed some discontent at what we were doing.

We made all the haste we could to get our ship afloat, though not altogether finished, to prevent their designs of burning it. She was called the Griffin, about sixty tons, and carried five small guns. We fired three guns, and sung Te Deum; and carrying our hammocks aboard, the same day were out of the reach of the savages.

Before we could proceed in our intended discovery, I was obliged to return to Fort Frontenac, to bring along with me two monks of my own order, to help me in the function of my ministry. I concealed part of the discouragements I had met with, because I designed to engage Father Gabriel and Zenobe in our voyage. Having despatched our affairs, we three went aboard a brigantine, and in a short time arrived at the river which runs into the lake Ontario, where we continued several days, our men being very busy in bartering their commodities with the natives, who exchanged their skins for knives, guns, powder and shot, but especially brandy, which they love above all things. M. de la Salle arrived in a canoe eight days after. These impediments retarded us so long that we could not reach the river Niagara before the 30th of July. Father Gabriel and I went overland to view the great fall, the like whereof is not in the whole world. It is compounded of two great cross streams of water, and two falls, with an isle sloping along the middle of it. The waters which fall from this vast height do foam and boil after the most hideous manner imaginable, making an outrageous noise, more terrible than that of thunder; so that when the wind blows from the south, their dismal roaring may be heard above fifteen leagues off.

Hennepin's Map
Louis Hennepin’s 1698 Map.

The river Niagara having thrown itself down this incredible precipice, continues its impetuous course for two leagues with an inexpressible rapidity; and the brinks are so prodigious high, that it makes one tremble to look steadily on the water, rolling along with a rapidity not to be imagined. It is so rapid above the descent, that it violently hurries down the wild beasts, endeavoring to pass it to feed on the other side, casting them down headlong above six hundred feet. A bark or greater vessel may pass from Fort Frontenac until you come within two leagues of the fall, for which two leagues the people are obliged to carry their goods overland; but the way is very good, and the trees are but few, and they chiefly firs and oaks. Were it not for this vast cataract which interrupts navigation, we might sail with barks or greater vessels above four hundred and fifty leagues further.

On the 7th of August, we went on board, being in all thirty-four men, and sailed from the mouth of the lake Erie, and on the 11th, entered a strait thirty leagues long and one broad, except in the middle, which makes the lake of St. Clair. On the 23d, we got into the lake Huron. The 26th, we had so violent a storm that we brought down our yards and topmasts, and let the ship drive at the mercy of the wind, knowing no place to run into to shelter ourselves. M. de la Salle, notwithstanding he was a courageous man, began to fear, and told us we were undone; whereupon everybody fell on his knees to say his prayers and prepare himself for death, except our pilot, whom we could never oblige to pray; and he did nothing all that while but curse and swear against M. de la Salle, who had brought him thither to make him perish in a nasty lake, and lose the glory he had acquired by his long and happy navigations on the ocean. When the wind abated we hoisted our sail, and the next day arrived at Missilimakinak.

On the 2d of September, we weighed anchor, and sailed to an island at the mouth of the bay of Puans, forty leagues from Missilimakinak. The chief among them, who had been formerly in Canada, received us with all the civility imaginable. M. de la Salle, without asking any other body’s advice, resolved to send back the ship to Niagara, laden with furs and skins, to discharge his debts. Our pilot, and five men with him, were therefore sent back, and ordered to return with all imaginable speed to join us towards the southern parts of the lake, where we should stay for them among the Illinois. They sailed the 18th, with a westerly wind, and fired a gun as taking leave. It was never known what course they steered, nor how they perished; but it is supposed that the ship struck upon a sand, and was there buried. This was a great loss for M. de la Salle and other adventurers, for that ship with its cargo cost above sixty thousand livres.

We continued our voyage in four canoes, being fourteen men in all, and departed the 19th of September. We steered to the south towards the continent, distant from the island near forty leagues. On the 1st of October, after twelve leagues rowing, we were in so great danger by stress of weather, that we were forced to throw ourselves into the water, and carry our canoes on our shoulders to save them from being broken to pieces. I carried Father Gabriel on my back, whose great age, being sixty-five years, did not permit him to venture into the water.

Having no acquaintance with the savages of the village near which we landed, we prepared to make a vigorous defence in case of an attack, and in order to it, possessed ourselves of a rising ground where we could not be surprised. We then sent three men to buy provisions in the village, with the calumet or pipe of peace, which those of the island had given us. And because the calumet of peace is the most sacred thing among the savages, I shall here describe the same.

It is a large tobacco pipe, of a red, black, or white marble. The head is finely polished. The quill, which is commonly two feet and a half long, is made of a pretty strong reed or cane, adorned with feathers of all colors, interlaced with locks of women’s hair. Every nation adorns it as they think fit, and according to the birds they have in their country.

Such a pipe is a safe-conduct amongst all the allies of the nation who has given it; and in all embassies the calumet is carried as a symbol of peace, the savages being generally persuaded that some great misfortune would befal them, if they should violate the public faith of the calumet. They fill this pipe with the best tobacco they have, and then present it to those with whom they have concluded any great affair, and smoke out of the same after them.

Our three men, provided with this pipe and very well armed, went to the little village three leagues from the place where we landed; but finding nobody therein, took some Indian corn, and left instead of it some goods, to let them see that we were no robbers nor their enemies. However, twenty of them armed with axes, small guns, bows, and clubs, advanced near the place where we stood; whereupon M. de la Salle with four men very well armed, went toward them to speak with them, and desired them to come near us, for fear a party of our men who were gone a hunting, should meet with them and kill them. They sat down at the foot of the eminence where we were posted, and M. de la Salle spoke to them all the while concerning his voyage, which he told them he had undertaken for their good and advantage. This was only to amuse them till our three men returned, who appearing with the calumet of peace, the savages made a great shout, and rose and began to dance. We excused our taking some of their corn, telling them we had left the true value of it in goods; which they took so well that they sent immediately for more, and gave us next day as much as we could carry away in our canoes. They retired towards evening, and M. de la Salle ordered some trees to be cut down and laid across the way, to prevent any surprise from them. The oldest of them came to us next morning with their calumet of peace, and brought us some wild goats. We presented them with some axes, knives, and several little toys for their wives, with which they were well pleased.

We left that place the 2d of October, and coasted along the lake, which is so steep that we could hardly find any place to land. The violence of the wind obliged us to drag our canoes sometimes to the top of the rocks to prevent their being dashed in pieces. The stormy weather lasted four days, during which we suffered very much, and our provisions failed us again; which, with the fatigues of rowing, caused old Father Gabriel to faint away in such a manner that I thought verily he could not live. We had no other subsistence but a handful of Indian corn once every twenty-four hours, which we roasted or else boiled in water; and yet rowed almost every day from morning till night. Being in this dismal distress, we saw upon the coast a great many ravens and eagles, from whence we conjectured there was some prey; and having landed upon that place, we found above the half of a fat wild goat which the wolves had strangled. This provision was very acceptable to us, and the rudest of our men could not but praise the divine Providence who took so particular a care of us.

Having thus refreshed ourselves, we continued our voyage directly to the southern parts of the lake. On the 16th, we met with abundance of game. A savage we had with us killed several stags and wild goats, and our men a great many turkeys, very fat and big; wherewith we provided ourselves for several days, and so embarked again. On the 1st of November we came to the mouth of the river of the Miamis, which runs from the south and falls into the lake. Here we spent all that month in building a fort forty feet long, and eighty broad; made with great square pieces of timber laid one upon the other.

On the 3d of December we embarked, being thirty-three men, in eight canoes, and having rowed about twenty-five leagues up the river Miamis to the southwest, we could not find the place where we were to land, and carry our canoes and equipage into the river of the Illinois, which falls into Mississippi. Our savage, who was hunting ashore, not finding us at the place of portage, came higher up the river, and told us we had missed it. So we returned and carried our canoes over land to the head of the Illinois river, which is but a league and a half from that of Miamis. We continued our course upon this river very near the whole month of December, towards the end of which we arrived at the village of the Illinois, about one hundred and thirty leagues from Fort Miamis. We found nobody in the village, which caused a great perplexity among us; for though we wanted provisions, yet we durst not meddle with the corn they had laid under ground for their subsistence, and to sow their lands with; it being the most sensible wrong one can do them, in their opinion, to take some of their corn in their absence. However, our necessity being very great, and it being impossible to continue our voyage without it, M. de la Salle took about forty bushels of it, hoping to appease them with some presents.

We embarked again with this fresh provision, and fell down the river the first of January, 1680. We took the elevation of the pole, which was 33 45 . Although we used all the precaution we could, we found ourselves on a sudden in the middle of their camp, which took up both sides of the river. The Illinois being much terrified, though they were several thousand men, tendered us the calumet of peace, and we offered them ours. M. de la Salle presented them with Martinico tobacco, and some axes. He told them, “He knew how necessary their corn was to them; but that being reduced to an unspeakable necessity when he came to their village, and seeing no probability to subsist, he had been forced to take some corn from their habitations without their leave. That he would give them axes and other things in lieu of it, if they could spare it; and if they could not, they were free to take it again.” The savages considered our proposals, granted our demands, and made an alliance with us.

Some days after, Nikanape, brother to the most considerable man among them, who was then absent, invited us to a great feast, and before we sat down, told us, “That he had invited us not so much to give us a treat, as to endeavor to dissuade us from the resolution we had taken to go down to the sea by the great River Mississippi.” He said, “That the banks of that river were inhabited by barbarous and bloody nations, and that several had perished upon the same enterprise.” Our interpreter told him, by order of M. de la Salle, “That we were much obliged to him for his advice; but the difficulties and dangers he had mentioned would make our enterprise still more glorious. That we feared the Master of the life of all men, who ruled the sea and all the world, and therefore would think it happiness to lay down our lives to make his name known to all his creatures.” However, Nikanape’s discourse had put some of our men under such terrible apprehensions, that we could never recover their courage nor remove their fears; so that six of them who had the guard that night (among which were two sawyers, the most necessary of our workmen for building our ship), ran away, taking with them what they thought necessary. But considering the country through which they were to travel, and the season of the year, we may say, that in avoiding an uncertainty, they exposed themselves to a most certain danger.

M. de la Salle seeing those six men were gone, exhorted the rest to continue firm in their duty; assuring them that if any were afraid of venturing themselves upon the river of Mississippi, because of the dangers Nikanape had mentioned, he would give them leave to return next spring to Canada, and allow them a canoe to make their voyage; whereas they could not venture to return home at this time of the year, without exposing themselves to perish with hunger, cold, or the hands of the savages.

On the 15th, we made choice of an eminence on the bank of the river, defended on that side by the river, and on two others by two deep ditches made by the rains, so that it was accessible only by one way. We cast a line to join those two natural ditches, and made the eminence steep on every side, supporting the earth with great pieces of timber. By the first of March, our fort was near finished, and we named it Crevecoeur, because the desertion of our men, with the difficulties we labored under, had almost broken our hearts. We had also built a bark for the continuance of our discovery. It was forty- two feet long by the keel, and was in such forwardness, that we should have been in a condition to sail in a very short time, had we been provided with all other necessaries. But hearing nothing of our ship Griffin, and therefore wanting the rigging and other tackle we expected by her, we found ourselves in great perplexity, and did not know what to do in this sad juncture, being above five hundred leagues from Fort Frontenac, whither it was almost impossible to return at that time, because the snow made travelling very dangerous by land, and the ice made it impracticable to our canoes.

M. de la Salle did now no longer doubt but his beloved Griffin was lost; but neither this nor the other difficulties dejected him. His great courage buoyed him up, and he resolved with three men to return to Fort Frontenac by land, notwithstanding the snow and the unspeakable dangers attending so great a journey, and to bring along with him the necessary things to proceed on our discovery; while I with two men should go in a canoe to the River Mississippi, to get the friendship of the nations inhabiting the banks thereof. Then calling his men together, told them, “He would leave M. Tonti to command in the fort, and desired them to obey his orders in his absence, to live in a Christian union and charity, to be courageous and firm in their design.” He assured them, “He would return with all the speed imaginable, and bring with him a fresh supply of meat, ammunition, and rigging for our bark; and that in the meantime he left them arms and other things necessary for a vigorous defence, in case their enemies should attack them before his return.”

Then telling me, “That he expected I should depart without further delay,” he embraced me and gave me a calumet of peace, with two men to manage our canoe, Picard and Ako, to whom he gave some commodities to the value of about one thousand livres, to trade with the savages or make presents. He gave to me in particular, and for my own use, ten knives, twelve shoemaker’s awls or bodkins, a small roll of Martinico tobacco, two pounds of rassade, i. e. little pearls or rings of colored glass, to make bracelets for the savages, and a small parcel of needles; telling me, “He would have given me a greater quantity if it had been in his power.” Thus relying on the providence of God, and receiving the blessing of Father Gabriel, I embraced all our men, and took my leave of M. de la Salle, who set out a few days after for Canada, with three men, without any provisions but what they killed in their journey, during which they suffered very much by cold weather, snow, and hunger.

We set out from Fort Crevecoeur on the 29th of February, myself, Picard and Ako, and when we had gone fifty leagues down the river, we came to the place where it falls into the Mississippi, between thirty-five and thirty-six degrees of latitude. The Mississippi runs to the south-southwest, between two ridges of mountains, is in some places a league broad, and a half a league where it is narrowest. The ice which came down stopt us here till the 12th of March. Then after prayers we embarked, and continuing our course down the river, we discovered three savages on the 15th, and landing, marched up to them; whereupon they ran away. But after some signs, one returned, and presented us the calumet of peace, which, when we had received, the two others came back. We could not understand one word of their language; and when we named two or three different nations to them, one answered three times, Chiquacha. They gave us some pelicans they had killed with their arrows, and we presented them with part of our meat. Two days after, we saw many savages near the river, crying aloud, Sasacouest, that is, Who goes there? as I have been informed. They sent a pirogue or heavy wooden canoe towards us, wherein were the three savages we had met two days before. We presented our calumet of peace, which they received, but gave us to understand by signs, that we must go to the Akansa, pointing to the savages ashore. We could not avoid it; and as soon as we were landed, the three Chiquachas took our canoe upon their shoulders, and carried it to the village. These savages received us very kindly, and presented us with beans, Indian corn, and flesh to eat. We made them also a present of some of our European commodities, which they admired, putting their fingers upon their mouths, especially when they saw our guns. The 18th we embarked again, after having been entertained with dancing and feasting, and carried away our commodities, though the savages were very loth to part with them; but having accepted our calumet of peace, they did not presume to stop us by force.

We passed by the nations of Taensa and Coroa, by both which we were kindly received, and on the 24th came to the nation of Quiniquissa. The next day we came to a point where the Mississippi divides itself into three channels. We took the middle one, which is very broad and deep. The water began there to taste brackish, but four leagues lower was as salt as the sea. We rowed about four leagues further, and discovered the sea. The mouth of the river is very deep, without being interrupted with any sands; so that great ships may go up as far as the Illinois river, which is two hundred leagues. Its course, from its source to the sea, may be eight hundred leagues, including windings and turnings. It falls into the Gulf of Mexico, between twenty-seven and twenty-eight degrees of latitude. Its mouth may be about thirty leagues from Rio Bravo, sixty from Palmas, and eighty or one hundred from Rio Panuco, the nearest habitation of the Spaniards.

My two men were very glad of this discovery; but on the other hand they expressed a great deal of dissatisfaction to have been at such trouble without making any profit, having found no furs to exchange for their commodities. They were also much afraid of the Spaniards of New Mexico, and were perpetually telling me, “That if they were taken, the Spaniards would never spare their lives, or at least give them the liberty to return to Europe.” I knew their fears were not altogether unreasonable; and therefore I resolved to go no further, though I had no reason to be afraid for myself, our order being so numerous in New Mexico, that, on the contrary, I might expect to have had in that country a peaceable and easy life.

We lay, during the time we were ashore, under our canoe, supported with four forks, and made curtains of some rolls of birch bark, hanging from the top to the ground, to defend us from the rain. We saw nobody, and therefore cannot tell whether that coast be inhabited. We squared a tree of twelve feet high, and making a cross of it, erected it in that place, leaving there a letter signed by me and my two men, containing an account of our voyage, country, and profession. Then kneeling near the cross, we sung some hymns, and embarked again on the 1st of April, to return towards the source of the river.

It is observable, that during the whole course of our sailing, God protected us against the crocodiles, which are very numerous in that river, especially towards the mouth. They looked dreadful, and would have attacked us, had we not been very careful to avoid them.

Our canoe being loaded with three men only and our provisions, did not draw three inches water, and therefore we could row very near the shore, and avoid the current of the river. The next day, April 2d, we saw, towards break of day, a great smoke not far from us, and soon after discovered four savage women loaded with wood, marching as fast as they could to get to their village before us. But some buzzards coming near us, one of my men could not forbear to shoot at them, which so frightened the women that they left their wood, and ran away to their village, where they arrived before us. The savages having heard the noise, were in as great fear as their wives, and left their village upon our approach. But I landing, immediately advanced alone with the calumet of peace, whereupon they returned, and received us with all the respect and civility imaginable. We made them some small presents to show our gratitude, and left that place April the 4th, and rowed with such diligence that we arrived the same day at Koroa. I was surprised to see their Indian corn, which was left very green, grown already to maturity; but I have learned since that their corn is ripe sixty days after it is sown. They have three or four crops of Indian corn in a year, having no other winter than some rain. They have all sorts of trees we have in Europe, and many others unknown to us. There are the finest cedars in the world, and another tree from which drops a most fragrant gum, which in my opinion exceeds our best perfumes. The cotton trees are of a prodigious height; the savages make them hollow with fire, to make their pirogues of them. We saw some of them, all of a piece, above one hundred feet long. They told us, “That to the westward are some beasts who carry men upon their backs,” and showed us the hoof and part of the leg of one, which was certainly the hoof of a horse; and surely horses are not utterly unknown in northern America; for near the cape named by us St. Anthony, we saw a horse and some other beasts painted upon the rock with red colors, by the savages. But whereas we had been told that the Spaniards of New Mexico lived not above forty leagues from them, and supplied them with European commodities, we found nothing among them that might be suspected to come from thence, unless it be some little pieces of glass strung upon a thread, with which the women adorn their heads. We left the habitations of the Akansas, the 4th of April, and during sixty leagues saw no savage. Our provisions being spent, we had nothing to live upon but the game we killed, or the fish we could catch. On the 12th, as my two men were boiling a buzzard, and myself refitting our canoe on the bank of the river, I perceived on a sudden, about two o’clock in the afternoon, no less than fifty canoes made of bark, manned with one hundred and twenty savages stark naked, coming down the river with an extraordinary swiftness, to surprise the Miamis and Illinois, their enemies.

We threw away the broth which was preparing, and getting aboard as fast as we could, made towards them, crying out in the Iroquois and Algonquin languages, “Comrades, we are men of wooden canoes;” for so they call those that sail in great vessels. This had no effect, for they understood not what we said; so that surrounding us immediately, they began to let fly their arrows at us, till the eldest amongst them perceiving that I had a calumet of peace in my hand, came up to us and prevented our being murdered by their warriors.

They presently jumped out of their canoes, some upon land, others into the water; surrounding us on all sides with shrieks and outcries that were indeed terrifying. It was to no purpose to resist, being but three to so great a number. One of them snatched the pipe of peace out of my hand. We presented them with some small pieces of Martinico tobacco, and made signs to them with our oars upon the sand, that the Miamis, their enemies, whom they were in search of, had passed the river, and were gone to join the Illinois.

Being then out of all hopes of surprising their enemies, three or four of the eldest of them laid their hands on my head, and began to weep bitterly, accompanying their tears with such mournful accents as can hardly be expressed; while I, with a sorry handkerchief I had left, made shift to dry up their tears; however, to very little purpose; for refusing to smoke in our calumet, they thereby gave us to understand that their design was still to murder us; and one hundred of their leaders coming up to us, made us to understand by signs, that their warriors were resolved upon our death. This obliged me to apply myself to their chiefs, and presented them with six hatchets, fifteen knives and some pieces of tobacco; after which, bending my neck and pointing to a hatchet, I signified to them, by that submission, that we threw ourselves on their mercy.

The present had the good effect to soften some of them, who, according to their custom, gave us some beavers’ flesh to eat, themselves putting the three first bits in our mouths, having first blown upon it, because it was hot; after this they set their platter before us, made of the bark of a tree, leaving us at liberty to feed after our own fashion. These civilities did not hinder us from passing the night away very uneasily, because in the evening, before they went to sleep, they had returned us our calumet of peace. The two canoemen resolved to sell their lives as dear as they could, and to defend themselves like men to the last, in case they should attack us. For my part I told them, I resolved to suffer myself to be slain without the least resistance, in imitation of our Saviour. However, we watched all night by turns, that we might not be surprised in our sleep.

The next morning early, one of their captains who had been for killing us, came and demanded my pipe of peace; it being delivered him, he filled it with tobacco, and made the rest who had been for putting us to death to smoke in it; then he made signs that we must go along with them into their country, to which they were then returning. This proposal was very welcome to us, and we rowed in their company for nineteen days together, sometimes north, and sometime northeast, according to the best observations we could make by our compass; so that after these barbarians had forced us to follow them, we made more than two hundred and fifty leagues up the river Mississippi, and we were got about one hundred and fifty leagues up the same, above that of the Illinois, when we were 15 first taken by them. One of the nineteen days of our most tiresome voyage, a captain called Aquipaguetin, who afterwards adopted me for his son, had killed a large fat deer, to which he invited the chief captains of the warriors. After the repast, the savages, with their hair anointed with oil of bears, and stuck all over with red and white feathers, and their heads covered with the down of birds, began to dance with their hands upon their hips, and striking their feet with great force against the ground. During the dance, one of the sons of the master of the ceremonies made them all smoke in the pipe of war, himself shedding abundance of tears. The father in the meanwhile laying his hands on our heads, and lifting up his eyes to heaven, bathed himself in tears. As for us, as far as we could judge, all this grimace boded us no good; and indeed, we afterwards understood that he meant nothing less than our destruction by it. But finding the opposition he was like to meet from the other chiefs, who were of a contrary opinion, he was content to suffer us to re-embark, resolving, however, to make use of some other stratagem to get into his own hands, by little and little, the rest of our things; not daring to take them from us openly by force, for fear of the rest of his own nation; by which it plainly appears, that he was a crafty designing knave. His son was killed by the Miamis, and finding he could not revenge himself on that nation, he vented his passion upon us. Having thus travelled nineteen days in our canoe by water, we came within six leagues of the fall of St. Anthony, where they held an assembly to consult what they should do with us. At last they separated and gave us to three of their chiefs, instead of three of their sons which had been killed in the war; then they seized our canoe and took away all our equipage; our canoe they pulled to pieces; their own they hid among the alders, so that though we might have gone conveniently enough quite up into their country by water, yet we were obliged by their conduct to travel no less than sixty leagues afoot.

Our ordinary marches were from break of day till ten at night; and when we met with any rivers, we swam them, themselves (who for the most part are of an extraordinary size) carrying our clothes and equipage on their heads. We never eat but once in twenty-four hours, and then nothing but a few scraps of meat dried in smoke, after their fashion, which they afforded us with abundance of regret.

I was so weak that I often lay down, resolving rather to die than follow these savages any farther, who travelled at a rate so extraordinary, as far surpasses the strength of any European. However, to hasten us, they sometimes set fire to the dry grass in the meadows through which we passed, so that our choice was, march or burn. When we had thus travelled sixty leagues afoot, and undergone all the fatigues of hunger, thirst, and cold, besides a thousand outrages daily done to our persons; as soon as we approached their habitations, which are situated in morasses inaccessible to their enemies, they thought it a proper time to divide the merchandize they had taken from us. Here they were like to fall out and cut one another’s throats about the roll of Martinico tobacco, which might still weigh about fifty pounds. Then arose a high dispute about the distribution they were to make of our persons. At last, Aquipaguetin, as head of the party, carried it; who turning towards me, presented me his calumet of peace to smoke in, receiving from me at the same time that which we had brought, and then adopted me for his son, in the room of him he had lost in the war.

Two other captains did the same by the two canoemen. This separation was very grievous to us, though somewhat allayed by the satisfaction we had to find our lives were safe. Picard, being sensible of the uncertain condition his life was in among so barbarous a people, took me aside to confess him. I should have been overjoyed to have seen Ako so well disposed. Being thus parted, the savages led us away, each to his own village.

I came to Aquipaguetin’s habitation in the month of May, 1680. The next day he showed me to six or seven of his wives, telling them that they were to esteem me as one of their sons, and ordered those about him to give me the title that was due to the rank which I was to hold amongst my new kindred.

I spent three months very ill in this place among the Issati and Nadovessians. My new father gave me nothing to eat but a few wild oats five or six times a week, and the roes of dried fish. He sent me into a neighboring isle with his wives, children, and servants, where I digged, with a pickaxe and shovel I had recovered from those that robbed us. Here we planted tobacco, and some European pulse which I brought from thence, and were highly prized by Aquipaguetin.

During my stay among them, there arrived four savages in embassy, who said they were come above five hundred leagues from the west, and had been four moons upon the way. They assured us there was no such place as the strait of Anian, and that they had marched without resting, except to sleep, or kill game for their subsistence, and had not seen or passed over any great lake; by which phrase they always mean the sea.

They further informed us that the nation of the Assenipoulaes, who lie north-east from the Issati, was not above six or seven days’ journey from us; that none of the nations within their knowledge, who lie to the west or north- west of them, had any great lake about their countries, which were very large, but only rivers, which, coming from the north, run across the countries of their neighboring nations which border on their confines on the side of the great lake, which in their language is the same as sea. They further assured us that there were very few forests in the countries through which they passed on their way hither, insomuch that now and then they were so put to it for fuel that they were forced to make fires of bulls’ dung to boil their victuals. All these circumstances make it appear that there is no such place as the straits of Anian, as we usually see them set down in maps. And whatever efforts have been made for many years past by the English and Dutch, the two nations of the world who are the greatest navigators, to find out a passage to China and Japan through the frozen sea, they have not yet been able to effect it. But, by the help of my discovery, and the assistance of God, I doubt not but a passage may still be found, and that an easy one too. For example: one may be transported into the Pacific sea by rivers which are large and capable of carrying great vessels, and from thence it is easy to go to China and Japan without crossing the equinoctial line; and in all probability Japan is on the same continent as America.

Towards the end of July, the Sieur de Luth, accompanied with five men, arrived in our camp from Canada; and because I had some knowledge of the language of the Issati, he desired that I, with Picard and Ako, might accompany him to the villages of those people. I was very willing to undertake it, especially when I understood that they had not received the sacraments in the whole two years and a half that they had been out upon their voyage. We arrived at the villages of the Issati the 14th of August, and having exchanged our commodities we returned to the camp. Towards the end of September we let them understand, that to procure them iron and other merchandises which was useful for them, it was convenient that we should return to Canada; and that at a certain time when we should agree upon between us, they should come half the way with their furs, and we the other half with our European commodities. Upon this they held a great council, and consented to our return. Ouasicoude, their chief captain, gave us some bushels of wild oats for our subsistence on the way, having first regaled us in the best manner he could. These oats are better and more wholesome than rice. Then, with a pencil, he marked down on a sheet of paper which I had left, the course we were to keep for four hundred leagues together.

We put ourselves into two canoes, being eight Europeans of us in all. We fell down the river of St. Francis into the Mississippi, and thence went up the river Wisconsin, navigable for large vessels above one hundred leagues; then we carried our canoes overland half a league. Thus having made more than four hundred leagues by water since our departure from the country of the Issati, we arrived at last at the great bay of the Puans, where we found many Canadians, who were come hither to trade; they having some wine with them, I administered the sacrament and preached. After two days’ stay, we departed; and after one hundred leagues’ rowing, having coasted along the great bay of Puans, we arrived at Missilimakinak, where we were forced to winter.

We parted from Missilimakinak in Easter week, 1681, and having rowed one hundred leagues along the side of the lake Huron, we passed the straits, which are thirty leagues through, and the lake of St. Clair, which is in the middle; thence over the lake Erie to the fall of Niagara, from whence we carried our canoe two leagues below, and came to the lake of Ontario, or Frontenac. When we came to the fort we were kindly received by Father Luke Buisset and M. la Fleur, who had the command of the fort in the absence of M. de la Salle. But our men being eager to return to Canada, we took leave and went for Quebec. In two days we came to Montreal, sixty leagues. Count Frontenac, looking out at a window, saw me in the canoe, and took me for Father Luke Fillatre, who served him as chaplain; but one of his guards, knowing me again, went to him and acquainted him with my coming. He was so kind as to come and meet me, and gave me the best reception that a missionary might expect from a person of that rank and quality. He wondered to see me so much altered, being lean, tired, and tanned. He carried me to his own house, where I continued twelve days to refresh myself. He forbade all his servants to give me anything to eat, lest I should fall sick if left to my own discretion after so long hardships; and gave me himself what he thought best.

When I desired his permission to go to Quebec, he appointed two of his guards, who understood very well to manage a canoe, to carry me thither, where the provincial commissary of the Recollets ordered me to return to Europe.


M. Robert Cavelier de la Salle was a person qualified for the greatest undertakings, and may be justly ranked amongst the most famous travellers that ever were. This will appear to whomsoever will consider that he spent his own estate about the greatest, most important, and most perilous discovery that has been yet made. His design was to find out a passage from the northern to the south sea without crossing the line, which a great many have hitherto sought in vain. The river Mississippi does not indeed run that way; but he was in hopes by means of that river to discover some other river running into the south sea. In order whereunto, he endeavored to find out by sea the mouth of Mississippi, which discharges itself into the Gulf of Mexico, to settle there a colony, and build a good fort to be as his magazine, and serve as a retreat both by sea and land, in case of any mishap.

He made his proposals to the French King’s council, who, approving the design, his most Christian Majesty gave him all necessary authority, and supplied him with ships, men, and money. The ships were the Toby, one of the King’s men of war of fifty- six guns, a great fly-boat, a small frigate, and a ketch. This fleet was commanded by M. Beaujeau, who was victualled for a year; and M. de la Salle had under his command one hundred and fifty land-men, who were to settle in the country; he had also with him twelve gentlemen who appeared to him vigorous, and like to bear the fatigues of the voyage, among whom were two of his nephews, viz., M. Moranger and M. Cavelier, the last but fourteen years old.

They sailed from Rochelle, August the 5th, 1684, and, passing by Martinico and Guadaloupe, took in fresh provisions and water, with divers volunteers. The ketch being separated by storm, was taken by the Spaniards; the other three ships arrived about the middle of February, in the bay of Spiritosanto, and about ten leagues off found a large bay, which M. de la Salle took for the right arm of the Mississippi, and called it St. Louis. He sounded the bay, which he found deep, but narrow; and therefore had expressly forbid the captain of the fly-boat to attempt to come into it, without having on board the pilot of the frigate, who was an experienced man; and for a greater security, had commanded him to unlade his guns into the pinnace to make the ship lighter; yet that brute neglecting those orders, and without taking notice of the poles they had placed on the sands to show him the channel, sailed his ship at random, and ran her against a sand, where she remained. M. de la Salle was ashore, and fearing the fate of his ship, was going on board to save her, but was prevented by about one hundred and twenty savages who came to attack him. He put his men in a posture of defence, but the noise alone of the drums put the savages to flight. M. de la Salle following them, presented the calumet of peace, which they accepted, and came along with him to his camp, where he entertained them, and sent them back with some presents. They were so pleased that they brought some provisions the next day, and made an alliance with him, which would have proved very advantageous to M. de la Salle, had not an unlucky accident broken that good intelligence.

As they were unloading the fly-boat which had struck upon the sand, to endeavor to get her off, a pack of blankets fell into the sea, which the waves drove upon the shore. The savages found it; and M. de la Salle having notice of it, sent to demand it of them in a very civil manner; they showed some reluctance, whereupon the officer, instead of acting the prudent part, threatened to kill them unless they restored it immediately. This so frighted and incensed them, that they resolved to be avenged of that affront; and in order thereto, got together in the night time of the seventh of March, 1685, and marched to surprise the French camp. They advanced as near as they would, the sentinel being asleep, and made a discharge of their arrows, which killed four gentlemen officers and volunteers, and wounded M. Moranger and another volunteer. The French ran to their arms and fired upon the savages, who ran away, though none were wounded; and the next day killed two of M. de la Salle’s men whom they found sleeping.

In the meantime, the fly-boat was unloaded, which was too far sunk to be got off, and most of the goods saved; and as they were endeavoring to save the rest, she was dashed in pieces by the violence of the waves, and several men were in danger of being drowned, but by the grace of God all escaped.

M. Beaujeau seeing all the goods and merchandize landed, and a fort almost finished, sailed the twelfth of March for France; and M. de la Salle having fortified his magazine or fort, left one hundred men under command of M. Moranger, his nephew, for defence of it; and with the rest, being fifty, and three missionaries, viz., M. Cavelier, brother to M. de la Salle, Zenobe, and Maxime, advanced into the country, in hopes of finding the Mississippi.

They built a fort in a very advantageous post, defended by twelve pieces of cannon, and then razed the first fort. The men grew so sickly that a great many died within a few days, notwithstanding they were carefully looked after and supplied with proper remedies. On the ninth of August, three of our men being gone a shooting, the noise of their guns was heard by the savages, who immediately got together in great numbers and surrounded the three Europeans, who killed with the first shot the general of the savages. This sad accident terrified them so much that they ran away, notwithstanding the disproportion in number; but they continued lurking about the fort, and killed a Frenchman who had advanced too far into the woods.

M. de la Salle seeing no way to bring them to an alliance, resolved to make war upon them to oblige them to come to peace, and supply him with their pirogues or wooden canoes, which he wanted. Therefore he set out from his fort the 13th of October with sixty stout men, having provided them with a kind of breast-piece of wood to cover them against the arrows of the savages. He was not far advanced when he found them encamped, and had several skirmishes, killing and wounding a great many, and returned with many prisoners. He had ordered the captain of the frigate to suffer none of his men to lie ashore; however, the captain, with six of his best men, charmed with the sweetness of the country, went ashore, and leaving their canoe upon the ooze with their arms, went into a meadow where they fell asleep, and were all killed by the savages, who broke their arms and canoe. This sad accident put the colony into a consternation. M. de la Salle, having buried his men, resolved to travel along the coast to find out the mouth of the Mississippi; and, leaving the inhabitants and soldiers who were to remain in the fort, set out with twenty men and M. Cavelier his brother. The continual rains made the ways very bad, and swelled several small rivulets, which gave him a world of trouble. At last, on the 13th of February, 1686, he thought to have found his so much wished for river; and having fortified a post on its bank, and left part of his men for its security, he returned to his fort the thirty-first of March, charmed with his discovery. But this joy was overbalanced by grief for the loss of his frigate. This was the only ship left unto him, with which he intended to sail in a few days for St. Domingo, to bring a new supply of men and goods to carry on his design; but it ran unfortunately aground, by the negligence of the pilot, and was dashed in pieces. All the men were drowned, except the Sieur Chedeville, the captain, and four seamen; the goods, linen, and cloth of the colony, with the provisions and tools, were all lost.

M. de la Salle seeing all his affairs ruined by the loss of his ship, and having no way to return into Europe but by Canada, resolved upon so dangerous a journey, and took twenty men along with him, with one savage called Nicana, who had followed him into France, and had given such proofs of his affection to his master, that he relied more upon him than upon any European. M. Cavelier, Moranget, and Father Anastasius, desired likewise to accompany him. They took with them powder and shot, two axes, two dozen knives, several pounds of glass beads, and two kettles to boil their meat; contenting himself with these provisions, in hopes to find out easily the Illinois, and return in a short time. Having assisted at the divine service in the chapel of the fort, to implore God’s mercy and protection, he set out the 22d of April, 1686, directing his march to the north-east. It is likely they wanted pirogues and canoes, or else M. de la Salle was not sure that he had found out the mouth of the Mississippi, otherwise it had been much easier to have found out the Illinois country by water, he knowing that the river of the Illinois runs into the Mississippi.

After three days’ march, they discovered the finest campaign country in the world, and were met by many men on horseback, with boots, spurs, and saddles, which shows they had commerce with the Spaniards; then marching two days over vast meadows, they saw such numbers of wild oxen, that the least droves consisted of about four hundred; they killed ten of them, and rested two or three days to broil the meat for the rest of their voyage.

M. de la Salle here altered his course, marching directly to the eastward. As he told nobody the reason of it, it was impossible to know what was his motive; he was secret to a fault, and likely would have prospered better, had he been somewhat more communicative. In their march, Nicana the savage cried out of a sudden that he was a dead man, having been stung by a rattlesnake. This obliged them to tarry some days in that place. They gave him immediately some orvietan; and having scarified the wound, applied to it some salt of vipers, whereby he was recovered.

After several days’ march through a most delicious country, they came to a village of the Cenis, one of the most populous and largest in America, being about twenty leagues long, not in a continued street, but because the hamlets are so near one another that the whole looks as if it were but one. They found among them several things which they must have had from the Spaniards, as pieces of eight, silver spoons, lace, clothes, and horses. They had also a bull of the pope, exempting the Spaniards of New Mexico from fasting in summer. Horses are so common that one was exchanged for an axe, and a fine one was offered for Father Anastasius’s capuch. They presented M. de la Salle with their calumet of peace in great ceremony. By them he understood their country to be but six days’ journey from the Spaniards. Having tarried several days among the Cenis, he continued his march through the country of the Nassonis, where four of his men ran away to that people, which sadly vexed him; and a few days after, he, together with M. Moranget, his nephew, fell sick of a violent fever, which obliged our travellers to tarry in that place for several weeks; for, notwithstanding they recovered, it was a long time before they were able to continue their voyage. This distemper disappointed all their measures, and was the occasion of several misfortunes that befel them afterwards. They tarried two whole months, being reduced to the greatest extremities. Their powder was almost spent, though they were not advanced above one hundred and fifty leagues in a direct line. Some of his men had deserted; others began to be irresolute; and all these things being carefully considered, M. de la Salle resolved to return to Fort Louis. Everybody approving it, they returned the same way, without meeting any remarkable accident, except that one of them was swallowed by a crocodile of a prodigious size in repassing a river. They came to their camp the 17th of October, 1686, where they were received with an incredible joy by their companions, who gave them over for lost among those barbarous nations. He remained two months and a half at Fort Louis, during which time he forgot not to comfort his small colony, which began to multiply, several children being born since their arrival.

Having cast up an intrenchment about a large enclosure, wherein were the habitations of the colony, under the cannon of the fort, and taken all other precautions for their security, he called the inhabitants together, and made so pathetic a speech to them about the necessity he was under to make a voyage to the Illinois country, that he drew tears from every one of the assembly, for he was very much beloved. Then taking twenty men with him, with his brother, his two nephews, Father Anastasius, and the Sieur Joutel, after public prayer, he set out a second time from Fort Louis, and resolved not to return till he had found the Illinois.

M. de la Salle set out from the fort the 7th of January, 1687; and having crossed the river Salbonniere and Hiens, with divers others which were mightily swollen by the rains, they came into a fine country for hunting, where his people refreshed themselves after their tiresome travel, with excellent good cheer for several days together. He had sent out M. Moranger his nephew, his lackey Saget, and seven or eight of his men to a certain place where Nika, his huntsman aforementioned, had laid up a stock of wild bulls’ flesh, that they might get it smoked and dried to carry along with them, and so not be obliged to halt so frequently to hunt for provisions.

With all his prudence, he could not discover the conspiracy of some of his people to kill his nephew; for they resolved upon it, and put it in execution, all of a sudden, on the 17th of March, wounding him in the head with a hatchet. They slew likewise the lackey and poor Nika, who had provided for them by his hunting, with great toil and danger. Moranger languished under his wound for two hours, forgiving his murderers, and embracing them frequently. But these wretches, not content with this bloody fact, resolved not to stick here, but contrived how to kill their master too, for they feared he would justly punish them for their crime. M. de la Salle was two leagues from the place where Moranger was killed, and being concerned at his nephews’ tarrying so long (for they had been gone two or three days), was afraid they were surprised by the savages; whereupon he desired Father Anastasius to accompany him in looking after his nephew, and took two savages along with him. Upon the way, he entertained the father with a pious discourse of divine Providence, which had preserved him in the many dangers he had undergone during twenty years’ abode in America; when all of a sudden Father Anastasius observed that he fell into a deep sorrow, of which he himself could give no account. He grew mighty unquiet and full of trouble, a temper he was never seen in before.

When they were got about two leagues, he found his lackey’s bloody cravat, and perceived two eagles (a common bird in those parts) hovering over his head; and at the same time, spied his people by the water side. He went to them and inquired for his nephew; they made him little answer, but pointed to the place where he lay. Father Anastasius and he kept going on by the river side, till at last they came to the fatal place, where two of the villains lay hid in the grass; one on one side, and one on the other, with their pieces cocked. The first presented at him, but missed fire; the other fired at the same time, and shot him in the head, of which he died an hour after, March 19th, 1687.

Father Anastasius seeing him fall a little way from him, with his face all bloody, ran to him, took him up in his arms and wept over him, exhorting him as well as he could, in this conjuncture, to die a good Christian. The unfortunate gentleman had just time enough to confess part of his life to him, who gave him absolution, and soon after died. In his last moments he performed, as far as he was capable, whatsoever was proper for one in his condition, pressing the father’s hand at everything he said to him, especially when he admonished him to forgive his enemies. In the mean while, the murderers, struck with horror at what they had committed, began to beat their breasts, and detest their rashness. Anastasius would not stir from the place, till he buried the body as decently as he could, and placed a cross over his grave.

Thus fell the Sieur de la Salle, a man of considerable merit; constant in adversities, intrepid, generous, courteous, ingenious, learned, and capable of everything. He had formerly been of the society of Jesus, for ten or eleven years, and quitted the order with consent of his superiors. He once showed me a letter, written at Rome, by the general of the order, testifying that the Sieur de la Salle had behaved himself prudently in everything, without giving the least occasion to be suspected guilty of a venial sin. He had the ill hap to be massacred by his own servants, in the vigor of his age. The pious design he was upon, in relation to the conversion of those ignorant nations, seems to have deserved a better fate. But as God’s ways are not our ways, we must submit to Divine Providence, without troubling ourselves about a vain inquiry into the secrets of God Almighty.

Father Anastasius hastened to find out M. Cavelier, brother of the defunct M. de la Salle, who was a pious and discreet ecclesiastic, perfectly qualified for a missionary, to whom he related his death. The murderers came rudely into the same cabin or hut presently after, seizing upon all they found in it. M. Cavelier, and the Sieur Cavelier, his nephew, expecting the villains came to butcher them, fell down on their knees, and prepared themselves to die like Christians; but the assassins, moved with compassion at the sight of the venerable old man, and being sorry besides for their late wicked deeds, resolved to spare them upon condition they should never return into France; but they were a long time before they fixed upon granting them mercy. Some of them that had a mind to see their kindred once again, endeavored to clear themselves from so detestable an action; others said it was safest to rid their hands of these two innocent men, or else they might one day call them to an account, if ever they met again in France. They chose the murderer of M. de la Salle for their leader; and upon deliberation resolved to go to the famous nation of the Cenis. These infamous murderers, in their march, made the two Caveliers serve them as valets, giving them nothing but their leavings to eat. Upon the way, a contest arose between the murderer of M. de la Salle and one Hans, a German, about superiority; whereupon their men divided, one party following Hans, the other the murderer. Hans taking his opportunity, fired a pistol at the murderer; the bullet pierced his heart, and he dropped down dead upon the place. One of Hans’s crew shot him that killed M. Moranger, in the side; and another let fly just at his head; there was no ball in his musket, but the powder setting fire to his hair, catched his shirt and clothes with so much violence that he could not put it out, but expired in the flame.

Thus Hans became leader of this miserable troop; and the Cenis being then ready to march against their enemies, took Hans and some other Europeans along with them; the rest waited till they should return, though Hans would have persuaded them all to go, but they would not stir. As soon as Hans and his party were gone, the two Caveliers, the Sieur Joutel, Father Anastasius and others, departed out of the country. The Cenis gave them two savages for guides. Each had his horse, powder, and lead, with some goods to defray their charges on the way. They marched north-eastward through the finest country in the world. On the 5th of September, they arrived at the mouth of the River Illinois, distant one hundred leagues from Fort Crevecoeur, and navigable all the way for large vessels. A savage seeing them enter his village, ran by land to carry the news to M. Belle Fontain, commander of the fort, who would not believe him. They following apace after him, came to the fort September 14th, and were presently conducted to the chapel, where Te Deum was thankfully sung. They tarried here till the spring of 1688; and, arriving at Quebec the 27th of July, they sailed for France the 20th of August following.


  1. Pacific Ocean. According to old documents, the bishopric of Louisiana extended to the Pacific Ocean. — Editor’s Note.
  2. “C’est ainsi que l’on écrit l’histoire.” “This is how history is written.”
  3. Barrique. Barrel.
  4. “Coureurs des bois.” Woodsmen. Literally, runners in the woods.
  5. The poet. Alexander Pope. Essay on Man.
  6. The poet. William Shakespeare. Macbeth 1. 3. 82.
  7. Sieur de la Salle. The memory of Robert Cavelier de la Salle has been treated with neglect by his countrymen. The little that we know of this distinguished man is only to be gathered from the communications made by him to his government; from M. Joutel, the historian of his last expedition to Louisiana; and from the very excellent work of Mr. Sparks.

    M. de la Salle was born at Rouen, France, and was educated at one of the seminaries of the Jesuits in that country. At an early age, he went to Canada, to seek his fortune, and was there patronized by M. Talon, the Intendant.

    In 1675, he visited France, and for his eminent services in the exploration of the Canadian lakes, he was rewarded with a patent of nobility.

    In 1678, he was commissioned to undertake the exploration of the Mississippi, in which he very fortunately engaged the services of the Chevalier de Tonty. In the same year he returned to Canada, and was there joined by Father Hennepin, the explorer of the Upper Mississippi.

    In 1780, he sent Father Hennepin on an expedition to the Sioux, and Tonty he placed in command of Fort Crévec ur, while he returned to Montreal to attend some public affairs. Having there made his will, he, with a party of twenty-three Frenchmen, and twenty-eight Indians, returned to the Miamis river — crossed the Portage at Chicago to the Illinois — and on the 6th February,1682, reached the Mississippi river to explore it to its mouth, and to take formal possession of the country in the name of his Sovereign. This he accomplished on the 9th of April, 1682; a minute account of which is now published in this volume. In consequence of some sickness, he did not reach Quebec until the following October; from which port he afterwards sailed for France.

    The Great Colbert was now no more, but his son Seignelay was Minister of Marine. To him he delivered the two memoirs published in this volume. In the first, he urges an expedition by sea to the Mississippi, with a memorandum of the equipment and supplies requisite to undertake it. In the second, he gives a very full account of the country south of the Mississippi, in which he confirms the statement of Father Hennepin, which has often been questioned, of his desire to seize the mines of St. Barbe, while at the same time he alludes to the possibility of opening a passage to the South Sea. The King acceded to the proposition of M. de la Salle, and he was duly authorized to build forts and plant colonies in Louisiana.

    He accordingly fitted out an expedition of four ships, and two hundred and eighty persons, among whom were included Father Zenobe and M. Joutel, the future historian of the expedition, and set sail from Rochelle on the 24th July, 1684. After a prosperous voyage, he reached the Gulf of Mexico, in December following, but missing the mouth of the Mississippi, he was compelled to effect a landing in the bay of St. Bernard, where he built a fort. He made several efforts to find the Mississippi, and during his last expedition he was assassinated by one of his countrymen. Thus ingloriously perished the man who has been styled the Father of French Colonization in the Mississippi Valley.

    In some of the higher attributes of character, says M. Sparks, “such as personal courage and endurance, undaunted resolution, patience under trials, and perseverance in contending with obstacles, and struggling through embarrassments that might appal the stoutest heart, no man surpassed the Sieur de la Salle.

    “Not a hint appears in any writer, that has come under our notice, which casts a shade upon his integrity or honor. Cool and intrepid at all times, never yielding for a moment to despair, or even to despondency, he bore the heavy burden of his calamities to the end, and his hopes expired only with his last breath. To him must be mainly ascribed the discovery of the vast regions of the Mississippi Valley, and the subsequent occupation and settlement of them by the French; and his name justly holds a prominent place among those which adorn the history of Civilisation in the new world.”
    Editor’s note.
  8. Terres tremblantes. Trembling land. The boggy marshes of south Louisiana are often called the trembling prairie.
  9. Property. The fort of St. Louis on the Illinois. — Editor’s note.
  10. Levées. This word is in local use at New Orleans, to describe both the great artificial embankment of the river and any natural embankment. — Editor’s note.
  11. Caziques. The chief of a Native American tribe. Also spelled ‘cacique’ and ‘casique’.
  12. River Colbert. The Mississippi River. — Editor’s note.
  13. Behalf. “There is an obscurity in this enumeration of places and Indian nations, which may be ascribed to an ignorance of the geography of the country ; but it seems to be the design of the Sieur de la Salle to take possession of the whole territory watered by the Mississippi from its month to its source, and by the streams flowing into it on both sides.” — Note by Mr. Sparks.
  14. Lvdovicvs Magnvs regnat. nono Aprilis cio loc lxxxii. Robertvs Cavelier, cvm domino de tonty, legato, R. P. Zenobio membrè recollecto, et viginti gallis, primvs hoc flvmen, inde ab ilineorvm pago, enavigavit, ejvsque ostivm fecit pervivm, nono Aprilis. anni cio ioc lxxxii. Louis the Great reigns. April Ninth 1682. Robert Cavelier, with master Tonty as legate, our comrade R. P. Zenobio Recollet Missionary, and twenty Frenchmen, set sail beside this river, from the coastal village and accessed the mouth on the ninth of April, in the Year 1682. — Latin.
  15. Memoir. This Memoir forms the basis of a spurious work, printed in Paris, 1697, entitled “Derniers Découvertes dans l’Amerique Septentrionale, de M. de la Salle, par Chevalier Tonti, Gouverneur du Fort St. Louis, aux Illinois, Paris, 1697.” — Editor’s note.
  16. Caches. “The term cache, meaning a place of concealment, was originally used by the French Canadian trappers and traders. It is made by digging a hole in the ground, somewhat in the shape of a jug, which is lined with dry sticks, grass, or anything else that will protect its contents from the dampness of the earth. In this place the goods to be concealed are carefully stowed away.” — Gregg’s Commerce of the Prairies, vol. i., p. 68. — Editor’s note.
  17. Bright. The published relation states : — “Par le cinqueme ils nous exhortaient à adorer le soleil” (p. 122). The original is simply: — “Le 5e[sic] quel e soleil était beau.” — Editor’s note.
  18. Great river. The Missouri River. — Editor’s note.
  19. River Ouabache. The Ohio River. — Editor’s note.
  20. March, 1683. This date is no doubt correct, for there is a letter of La Salle’s in existence, dated at Fort St. Louis, April 2, 1683. — Editor’s note.
  21. Manhatte. That all the Patroons of colonies in New Netherlands, and of colonies on the Island of Manhatte, shall be at liberty to sail and traffic all along the coast from Florida to Terra Neuf, &c. — Charter of Liberties, 1629. — Editor’s note.
  22. Quinipissas Village. It was at this village (also called Bayagoulis), that Ibberville, fourteen years after, found the following letter from Tonty to La Salle, dated 20th April, 1685, which the Indian chiefs had carefully preserved: — “Sir, having found the column on which you had placed the arms of France thrown down, I caused a new one to be erected, about seven leagues from the sea. All the nations have sung the calumet. These people fear us extremely, since your attack upon their village. I close by saying that it gives me great uneasiness to be obliged to return under the misfortune of not having found you. Two canoes have examined the coast thirty leagues towards Mexico, and twenty-five towards Florida.” — Editor’s note.
  23. Monseigneur. This petition is without date, but was probably written about the year 1690. — Editor’s note.
  24. M. de la Salle’s people. At the Bay of St. Bernard, and who were there massacred by the Indians, except three sons and a daughter of M. Talon, and a young Frenchman named Eustache de Breman, who were carried into captivity, and afterwards rescued by the Spaniards. — Editor’s note.
  25. Henry de Tonty. The last that is known of the brave and generous De Tonty is, that he joined Iberville at the mouth of the Mississippi, about the year 1700, and that two years afterwards he was employed on a mission to the Chicasaw nation. No notice has ever been taken of his death. “All the facts that can be ascertained concerning De Tonty, are such as give a highly favorable impression of his character, both as an officer and a man. His constancy, and his steady devotion to La Salle, are marked not only by a strict obedience to orders, but by a faithful friendship and chivalrous generosity. His courage and address were strikingly exhibited in his intercourse with the Indians, as well in war as in peace; but his acts were performed where there were few to observe, and fewer to record them. Hence it is that historians have done him but partial justice.” Tonty disavowed to Iberville and Father Marest, the publication of a work published in Paris, 1697, entitled “Dernières Découvertes dans l’Amerique Septentrionale, de M. de la Salle, par M. le Chevalier Tonti” which has been since reprinted, under the title of “Relation de la Louisiane ou du Mississippi, par le Chevalier de Tonti.”

    Tonty must be ranked next to La Salle, who contributed the most towards the exploration and settlement of the Mississippi valley. — Editor’s note.
  26. I happened. This journal has been always esteemed one of the most authentic works on Louisiana. Joutel’s description of the country of Texas, although written upwards of one hundred and fifty years ago, is still among the best we have. — Editor’s note.
  27. Piragua. Pirogue.
  28. Tertian ague. A case of malaria that causes fever approximately every three days.
  29. I entered. Louis Hennepin, the discoverer of the Upper Mississippi, was born in Flanders about the year 1640. He entered a convent of the order of St. Francis, and afterwards, with the permission of his superior, he embarked in the same vessel that brought over Robert Cavelier de la Salle to Canada, in 1675. He was some time employed as a missionary at Fort Frontenac, and among the Iroquois Indians.

    In one of his excursions he visited Albany, then called New Orange, and other frontier settlements of New York. But being of a restless disposition, he did not stay long in any one place. In 1680 he accompanied La Salle to Illinois, from whence he was sent by him to explore the river Mississippi to its source. He proceeded as far as the Falls of St. Anthony, and went from thence by land to the river St. Francis, which he named in honor of the patron saint of his order. After remaining among the Indians a short time he returned to Quebec, having been absent about eight months.

    In 1681 he returned to France, and published a work entitled “Description de la Louisiane nouvellement découverte au sud-ouest de la Nouvelle France: Paris, 1683.”

    Thirteen years after he disgraced himself by publishing at Utrecht, Holland, a work entitled, “Nouvelle description d’une grand Pays situé dans L’Amérique entre le Nouveau Mexique et la mer Glaciale,” 1797; the most part of which is a fabrication, made up in part from the reports of other travellers, and embellished with the romance of his imagination.

    He died at Utrecht, shortly after the publication of this fictitious work. — Editor’s note.

Text prepared by:


French, B. F., ed. Historical Collections of Louisiana, Embracing Translations of Many Rare and Valuable Documents Relating to the Natural, Civil and Political History of That State Compiled with Historica and Biographical Notes. Part I. Historical Documents from 1687 to 1691. Vol. I. New York: Wiley and Putnam, 1846. Internet Archive. Web. 4 July 2015. <https:// archive.org/ details/ historical colle01 frengoog>.

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