Jean Baptist Point DuSable
1745 - 1818
Baptist Point DuSable was a
black American pioneer, and he was the first non-Indian
resident known to build a house and start a trading post
on the land that became Chicago.
DuSable's father was a merchant, and
his mother was Haitian. DuSable left Haiti in the 1770's
to go to North America, specifically the Great Lakes. In
1773, he had a farm near Peoria. He was so loyal to the
Americans that once he moved there, he was arrested by
the British in 1779, and spent the next few years as a
prisoner in Fort Mackinac.
Very little is known about the
Chicagoland area from 1770 to 1779. Somehow, during that
time, DuSable managed to keep a British trading post call
the Pinery on St. Clair River, now called Michigan. That
was the first permanant building in that area. He became
After that, DuSable went to what is
now Chicago, at the mouth of the Chicago River, on the
shores of Lake Michigan, called Fort Dearborn. He was the
first non-Native American resident of that area. He
married a Potowatomie Native American named Kittahawa,
also called Catherine. DuSable had the first marriage,
and also held the very first election. He traded fur and
grain, and called the place he was living in the
essential trading place.
Later, he moved to Missouri. On August
28, 1818, DuSable died in St. Charles, Missouri. The name
of Fort Dearborn was changed to Chicago in
Some people say that Jean
Baptist Point DuSable started
African-American history in Chicago.