Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Interpretive Digital Essay : Water in Chicago
Essay: People and the Port
Photo Essays:
Solitary Lives
City of Bridges
Chicago Harbors
Essay: Using the Chicago River
Photo Essays:
Goose Island
Indiana Dunes
Essay: Sanitation in Chicago
Photo Essays:
The Sanitary and Ship Canal
Water-Related Epidemics
Essay: Water and Urban Life
Photo Essays:
Houses and Water
Shoreline Development
Growing Up Along Water
Solitary Lives along Chicago’s Lakes and Waterways

French Missionaries and Traders

The Native Americans who lived in this region over generations generally lived and traveled in family (and extended family) groups and villages. The French were the first Europeans to enter into this Indian world. French missionaries and traders often worked alone in Indian villages. Over time, many became a part of the villages in which they landed. French traders often married Indian women to cement trade alliances (and reduce their isolation). Early missionaries, like traders, often traveled alone among Indian groups, but they did not marry and become part of the local social fabric. Father Jacques Marquette was one of the earliest missionaries to travel in this region.

Marquette's Map

Father Jacques Marquette was a Jesuit missionary who traveled through the Chicago region in 1674-1675. He traveled with Louis Joliet on an expedition down the Mississippi River.

See also: Illinois; Portage; Fur Trade

Marquette Diaries, 1674-75

In the fall of 1674, Marquette remained in the Chicago region because he was too ill to travel to Kaskaskia, where he intended to serve as a missionary. So he spent the winter in the Chicago area along the south branch of the Chicago River. His account of his months in Chicago show the importance of the river and Lake Michigan on the landscape, as well as the kindness of area Indians toward this lonely man.

See also: Chicago in the Middle Ground