Jacques Marquette and Louis
Jolliet searched together and found the waters of the
Mississippi River. They were the first Europeans to
follow the course of the river.
Jacques Marquette (also known as
Father Marquette) was a Catholic missionary and explorer.
He was born in Laon, France. In 1666 came to
Québec, Canada and learned Indian languages. From
1669 to 1671 he worked in missions in Sault Sainte Marie
(Michigan) and La Pointe (Wisconsin). Around this time,
he first met Louis Jolliet, who was trading with Indians
in the same area.
Jolliet was a French-Canadian
trader and explorer. Jolliet was born near Québec
City and raised in a Jesuit seminary. In 1668 he decided
that he didn't want to become a priest and he became a
trader with the Indians instead. From 1669 to 1671
Jolliet explored a lot of the Great Lakes region. During
that time he became a great map maker, also worked as a
fur trader, and met Marquette.
In 1672, Jolliet was named leader
of an expedition that would explore the northern part of
the Mississippi River the following year. Jolliet asked
Father Marquette to be the chaplain of this group. Along
with five others, Jolliet and Marquette crossed Lake
Michigan, and explored the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers,
before reaching the Mississippi River. They followed the
Mississippi southward past the mouth of the Arkansas
River, then returned northward.
After the expedition, Marquette
stayed by Lake Michigan and Jolliet returned to
Québec. Father Marquette preached among the
Illinois Indians until his death in 1675.
On his way back to Québec,
when Jolliet was on Lake Michigan, his canoe turned over
and all his precious maps and journals of his trips were
lost, but he was able to replace most of the information
from memory. Later, he explored other parts of Canada,
such as Labrador and Hudson Bay. Louis Jolliet died in
1700 at the age of 55.