Jacques Marquette, French Jesuit missionary and explorer, was born in Laon, France, on
June 1, 1637. After years of preparatory study and teaching, he arrived in Quebec in 1666,
studied Indian language and culture, and was
sent in 1668 to Sault Ste. Marie, a mission among the Ottawa Indians, and to La Pointe de
While he was at St. Ignace on Mackinac Island in December 1672, an old friend, the trader
Louis Jolliet, arrived with orders for Marquette to accompany him on a journey to explore
the Mississippi. Embarking in May 1673, they
reached the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. Indians told them that the
Mississippi (which Marquette named Riviere de la Conception) emptied into the Gulf of
Mexico and warned them of Spanish settlers farther
downstream. They turned back to avoid being captured with their information on geography
and Indian culture. By May 1674 Marquette was very ill; while recovering his health he
prepared notes for publication in Jesuit
Relations, since the official record had been lost.
In October 1674 Marquette fulfilled his wish to establish a mission at Kaskaskia, where he
and Jolliet had spent time. Marquette's poor health forced their return to Sault Ste.
Marie. Marquette died en route and was buried on
May 18, 1675. His remains were returned to St. Ignace by Indian converts and placed in a
chapel, which was destroyed by fire in 1706. In 1877 the grave was discovered, and a
marker was erected in 1882.
Source: Photograph by Randy Schaetzl, Professor of Geography - Michigan State
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