Ohio History Journal






The 2d day of May, 1497, was one of the most eventful

for great results for good of any in human history. On that

day, John Cabot, a Venetian by birth, but who was then living

at the old sea-faring town of Bristol, on the west coast of Eng-

land, with eighteen hardy British sailors weighed anchor on the

small, but good ship "Matthew," and passed out upon the broad

and turbulent waters of the Atlantic on a voyage of discovery.

It is probable, but not certain, that his son, Sebastian, accom-

panied him on this voyage. The adventure was entirely at the

expense of Cabot. He had, however, obtained from King Henry

VII., royal permission to carry the British flag, and was com-

missioned to "seek out, discover and find whatever lands, coun-

tries, regions or provinces of the heathens or infidels, in what-

ever part of the world they may be which before this time have

been unknown to all Christians."

Further, he was required, if he should be so fortunate as

to return, to report at the port of Bristol and to "take a fifth

part of the whole capital, whether in goods or money for our

use." The return was made in the following August, but with-

out "goods or money," and with nothing but a vague report that

they had discovered land in the north Atlantic, hitherto unknown

to the civilized world.

All that could be reported of the voyage was that after

leaving the port of Bristol, the vessel held her way to the west-

ward, and late in June they came in sight of land, and after sailing

some leagues to the south along the coast, they went ashore and

so were the first Europeans to set foot on the continent of North

America. They had no thought that they were standing upon

the shore of a great and hitherto unknown continent, or that their

discovery of land in these far off waters was, or would become


Water Highways and Carrying Places

Water Highways and Carrying Places.       357


of any special importance or significance. They were not look-

ing for a new continent, but were hoping to reach the east coast

of Asia, known in Europe since the time of Marco Polo, as

"Cathay." Cabot did not live to know that he had discovered

a great new continent, which was then and had been for many

thousands of years occupied by a race or races of savages, whose

energies had been spent in the hunt of wild beasts and in waging

war upon each other, which wars between savage tribes and

nations were wars of extermination in so far as they could make



The place of Cabot's landing has not been definitely deter-

mined and probably never can be, but a committee appointed by

the Royal Geographical Society of Canada, reported in 1895,

that the weight of evidence is that it was on Cape Breton, which

is on the extreme north east coast of the Province of Nova

Scotia. At the place of their landing they found no human

inhabitants, but did find snares and devices for taking fish and

game, which were evidently designed by human minds and

wraught out by human hands. But wherever it was, they seem

to have unfurled and planted the British flag and made some

kind of proclamation to the effect that they took possession of

the land in the name of the King of Great Britain. Nothing

could seem to be more idle or meaningless than this proclamation

or outcry to the winds and waves of this unknown, desolate

rock-bound coast, and yet it became in time to be the basis of

whatever title Great Britain had to the continent of North


After Cabot, numerous explorers came to our shores, but

they seem to have been satisfied with coasting along the shores

with no purpose or effort to penetrate the interior, or learn what

lay hidden behind the desolate coast line. It was not until 1534

that the mouth of the St. Lawrence River was discovered by

Jacques Cartier, and it was not until the next year (1535) that

any successful attempt was made to explore the interior of the

northern portion of the continent to which the St. Lawrence

was the great highway.

358 Ohio Arch

358       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.




In that year (1535) Jacques Cartier, a French navigator,

ascended the St. Lawrence to the point of the present site of

Montreal. The great Lachine rapids prevented further progress.

This was thirty-eight years after Cabot's discovery of the coast,

during which time no special effort seems to have been made

by English or other European navigators to penetrate the interior

of the northern portion of the continent, or to learn anything

of its nature or conditions. This inaction was in strange con-

trast with the activity of the Spaniards in their enterprises far-

ther to the the south. It was some fifteen years after Cabot's

discovery that the Spaniards first saw or set foot on the North

American continent, and yet before Cartier's discovery of the

St. Lawrence, they had overrun and conquered Mexico, and

Peru; and it was but four years later that De Soto penetrated

Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri and Arkan-

sas, and in 1642 wearied, worn and exhausted from three years

of wide and fruitless wanderings in search of gold and treasures,

died on the banks of the Mississippi and was buried beneath its

turbid waters. But it is stranger still that the matter of interior

exploration was allowed to rest with nothing added to the geo-

graphical information of the interior, beyond Cartier's exploits

for the long period of sixty-eight years.

It was not until 1603 that Champlain appeared upon the

scene, filled with the spirit of adventure and discovery, and deter-

mined to penetrate the recesses of the vast and gloomy wilderness

and bring to light the secrets it had held hidden for so many



Samuel Champlain, a French navigator, sailed up the St.

Lawrence in 1603 and reached the point (Montreal) where Car-

tier had stopped sixty-eight years before. He was a most am-

bitious and self-reliant man, capable of great efforts and of won-

derful endurance. He was not then equipped for further ex-

plorations, but resolved that he would return at the earliest time

possible and explore the depths of the vast and gloomy forest

Water Highways and Carrying Places

Water Highways and Carrying Places.        359

that stretched out before him in every direction as he stood on

the top of Mount Real and viewed the wondrous scene as Car-

tier had done in 1535: It was five years before he could carry

out his purpose, but in 1608 he re-appeared on the St. Lawrence

equipped not only for explorations, but for the founding of a

colony in the new world. On the vessel with him came a "French

lad" then about eighteen years of age, Stephen Brule, destined

to become the greatest interior explorer of his time and to lead

a most singular and strenuous life and end with a most tragic


When Champlain reached the site of the present city of

Quebec, he determined that there he would found his colony and

so proceeded to clear the space between the river bank and the

stupendous cliffs upon which the City of Quebec now stands,

and to erect log houses, where he proposed to spend the winter

before proceeding with his intended explorations. Brule assisted

in this work and so became one of the founders of the City of

Quebec, now the most interesting, historically considered, of any

city on the continent.

The winter was exceedingly severe and the colony suffered

greatly, but the spring brought relief and Champlain, having

made an alliance with the Hurons and Algonquins, set out for

the Iroquois country, which was what is now embraced in the

State of New York. The Iroquois were the fiercest and most

war-like of all the tribes known, and after they had been sup-

plied with fire arms by the Hollanders and English, they carried

their war expeditions from the coast of New England to the

Mississippi and from the extreme of the northern lakes, and to

Virginia and the Carolinas. They swept from Ohio the Eries,

one of their own tribe, and all other tribes having before that

time had occupancy within the borders of the states of Pennsyl-

vania, Ohio, Indiana and most of Illinois. Those wide and sav-

age excursions and campaigns could only be carried on by means

of the "water-ways" which were connected by "carrying places,"

by the French called "portages."

It is the purpose of this paper to set out as accurately as

we can, the main thoroughfares which were traveled by the

Aborigines in their savage forays, and by whom they were first

360 Ohio Arch

360       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

seen and traversed by white men. Miss Lucy Elliot Keeler has

aptly denominated these highways as "the roads that run."

Champlain had learned from the Indians that there was an

ample water-way from the St. Lawrence to the Atlantic at the

present port of New York and the intention was to ascend the

Richelieu, which is the outlet of the waters of Lakes George and

Champlain, and by carrying their birch canoes from the head of

those waters over the "carrying place" to reach the waters of

Hudson River as they flowed down from the Adirondack Moun-

tains, and so surprise and destroy the villages of the Iroquois

in the Mohawk Valley. But the plan failed, as when near the

head of Lake Champlain they unexpectedly met with a strong

war party of the Iroquois when a battle ensued in which Cham-

plain and his Indian allies were successful and vanquished their

enemies with great slaughter. This was the first time that fire

arms had been used in Indian warfare among the northern In-

Water Highways and Carrying Places

Water Highways and Carrying Places.         361

dians, and the Iroquois were so terrifiedby the noise and deadly

execution of fire arms in the hands of the Frenchmen that they

fled in every direction and were pursued and slaughtered in great

numbers by the savage allies of Champlain. Soon after this

decisive battle, Champlain and his Indian allies returned to the

St. Lawrence, from whence he sailed for France, and the In-

dians returned to their own country. He was, however, again

on the St. Lawrence the next spring (1610) where he had engaged

to meet the Hurons and Algonquins near the mouth of the Rich-

elieu River. Champlain arrived in advance of his Indian allies,

and encamped awaiting their coming. While waiting there, word

was received by him that the Hurons had surrounded a barricade

of one hundred Iroquois, near the mouth of the Richelieu, where

a desperate battle was being waged. He and the Indians with

him hurried to the assistance of the Hurons. The barricade was

stormed and all the warriors within were killed or taken prisoners.

Not one escaped. After this battle Champlain arranged to re-

turn to France but with the agreement to return the next spring

(1611). It was further arranged that the Hurons should take

the young man Brule to their far off Huron country and that

Champlain was to take with him to France a young Huron (Sav-

ignon), selected by his tribe for that purpose. They were to

meet again in June, 1611, and exchange hostages. This was

accordingly done.

In this year spent with the Hurons Brule had acquired

their language and habits of life and was able thereafter to act

as an interpreter for Champlain in his intercourse with the Hu-

rons and Algonquins both as to war and trade.

Champlain made in all ten visits to the St. Lawrence from

1603 to 1633, during which time he had learned from the Indians

much concerning the lakes and rivers of the north-west, but as

for himself he discovered or first saw no lakes or rivers of im-

portance except Lake Champlain and the Richelieu River. He

wandered far and wide in many directions but it cannot be claimed

for him that he was the original first white man to discover or

see any of these great natural highways except as before men-

tioned. In all his wide wanderings, Brule seemed to have been

in advance of him. Nevertheless. Champlain is entitled to the

362 Ohio Arch

362      Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.


credit, in large part at least, for directing the discoveries made

by Brule.

Champlain has been frequently and generally accredited with

being the first "white man" to see the waters of Lake Ontario,

but this claim cannot be allowed, as it is surely incorrect. In

fact, it can have no support, except upon the assumption that the

explorations of Brule were the explorations of Champlain.

In the month of September, 1615, Champlain had concen-

trated his few Frenchmen and many Indians of the Huron and

Algonquin tribes at Lake Simcoe in the Huron country, with a

view of invading the country of the Iroquois, but before the war-

riors had all assembled, Brule with twelve Hurons was dispatched

to notify the Carantouans, who were allies of the Hurons and

other Canadian tribes, and who had promised to assist them in the

invasion of the Iroquois country.

Lake Simcoe is directly north from the mouth of the Humber

river, near where the city of Toronto now stands. It was but

three or at most four days' travel for Brule and the Indians with

him to reach the upper or western end of Lake Ontario and by

crossing that end of the lake they would be within the Iroquois

country at or near the mouth of the Niagara River; and so if

they were fortunate enough to escape the fierce Iroquois, while

passing through their country, would reach the Carantouan vil-

lages by the shortest and quickest route possible.

The Carantouan Indians were at that time living on the

upper waters of the Susquehanna in northern Pennsylvania.

Brule and his Indian escorts reached the Carantouan villages

without mishap or delay--and urged that tribe, friendly to the

Canadian Indians and relentless enemies of the Iroquois, to fur-

nish five hundred warriors, which they had promised, to join

with Champlain and his allies in an attack upon Onondaga village.

Brule set out from Lake Simcoe, directly south, on the 8th

of September, 1615, and some days later, Champlain with his

Indian allies started for the mouth of the Trent River, which

is near where the city of Kingston, Canada, now stands. Brule's

route took him direct to the mouth of the Humber river (Toronto).

That they traveled with all speed and haste may be assumed, as

their mission was to notify the Carantouans to be present near

Water Highways and Carrying Places

Water Highways and Carrying Places.        363


the village of Onondaga by the time that Champlain should reach

this important stronghold which was the objective point of the

expedition. Champlain and his allies on the other hand had a

much longer and more difficult route. They were required to

take with them canoes for the entire party so as to cross the

numerous streams and small lakes which intervene between Lake

Simcoe and the mouth of the Trent River. They were also re-

quired to stop at different times in order to procure a supply of

game and fish for their sustenance. Brule reached the Caran-

touan villages without hindrance or delay, but the Indians were

slow in assembling, and with their feasting and dancing always

incident to going to war much delay was had and he was not

able to bring them to the point of attack until Champlain and

his Canadian Indians had been repulsed at the above named

village. Champlain's retreat was by the same line by which he

came, and he finally reached the Huron country where he was

compelled to spend the winter with them on the shores of Lake

Huron (now called Georgian Bay). "The roads that run" had

been congealed into ice and the thawing suns of spring had to

be awaited.

Brule reached the mouth of the Humber and stood upon the

banks of Lake Ontario many days, if not weeks before Champlain

reached the mouth of the Trent River near Kingston, from which

point he first viewed the waters of Ontario. The route taken

by Brule with his Indian guides to Lake Ontario was less than

half the distance of the route taken by Champlain, and it is certain

that Brule not only saw Lake Ontario but crossed it before Cham-

plain had reached the mouth of the Trent river. Both Champlain

and Brule had long been familiar with the fact that such a lake

existed but neither of them had before that time seen its waters.

The best and shortest route from the Huron country to Ontario

and the St. Lawrence was that which Brule took to reach Lake

Ontario and thence along the north side of that lake to its outlet,

and thence along the descending waters of the St. Lawrence to

Montreal and Quebec. But in the time of war between the In-

dians in Canada and the Iroquois this route could not be used

except in such force as to be able to contend with such parties

of hostile savages as might be met. This is what caused the

364 Ohio Arch

364      Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

Hurons and Algonquins to adopt the long, difficult and cir-

cuitous route of the Ottawa, Lake Nipissin and the French River

in order to reach their homes along

the borders of Lake Huron and Lake


This great water-way leading from

the waters of New York Harbor to

the St. Lawrence is about four hun-

dred and fifty miles in length, with

only seven or eight miles of portage

or "carrying place." The Hudson

river furnishes about one hundred

and fifty miles of this water-way, and

lakes George and Champlain and the

Richelieu about three hundred miles.

It was a singular coincidence that

at the same time Champlain was ex-

ploring and making war on the wa-

ters of the lake which bears his name,

Henry Hudson, an English naviga-

tor, was exploring the waters of the

Hudson river which bears his name,

so in the same year this entire water-

way was made known to Europeans.

The Hudson river was not, as is

generally assumed, discovered by

Hudson, but by Giovanni da Verraz-

zano in 1524, who was sailing under

a commission from Francis I. of

France. Verrazzano sailed into what

is now the port of New York and

some little distance up the Hudson.

This was eighty-five years before

Henry Hudson saw that stream. In

the meantime the French fur traders had penetrated that river at

least as far as the present city of Albany, but it was not until the

year 1609 that the entire water-way from the St. Lawrence to

the port of New York became known to Europeans.

Water Highways and Carrying Places

Water Highways and Carrying Places.        365

For what thousands of years this great route was known

and used by the Aborigines can never be known, but certainly

from the remote time when human beings came to inhabit that

part of the country. Since the coming of white men with a view

of possessing the country, there has been innumerable war expe-

ditions conducted along this great water route between the French

and their Canadian allies and the English and their allies, the

Iroquois. Important battles and massacres and conflicts, of every

nature, have since that time taken place on these waters and along

their shores. It is not within our purpose to enumerate even im-

portant war expeditions, but we will be pardoned for recalling

a few of the later and more important engagements which took

place, in which "white men" were engaged, as showing the im-

portance of this route as considered by the French and English

and the people of our colonies.

On the 16th of April, 1755, a commission was issued to Col.

William Johnson of New York, appointing him major general of

the forces to be sent by this route to Canada to expel the French

from Crown Point, where they had strongly entrenched them-

selves. Sir William was to have in his commnad 3,500 colonists

and British, and 1,000 Indians. He commenced his forward

movement early in August, 1755, and on the 14th of August

arrived at Fort Edward where he was joined by 250 more In-

dians. In the meantime Baron Dieskau, in command of the

French and their Indian allies, was marshalling his forces to resist

the incursion of Sir William and his army.

On the 7th of September the forces met and a desperate

battle ensued, which, after varying fortunes, resulted in favor of

Sir William and his forces. Sir William and Baron Dieskau

were both wounded and the latter was taken prisoner and sent

to New York and thence to England. He was succeeded in com-

mand by Montcalm, who, on July 8, 1758, with 3,600 men suc-

cessfully defended Ticonderoga against the British General Aber-

crombie who assaulted that place with 14,000 men, of which he

lost 2,000 killed and wounded.

This water-way was also the route taken by Gen. Robert

Montgomery in command of the continental troops in the invasion

366 Ohio Arch

366      Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.


of Canada in 1775. He succeeded in taking all the forts on these

waters and along the St. Lawrence until he reached the City of

Quebec, which was the great objective point, where, in an assault

made upon that stronghold December 31st, 1775, his forces were

repulsed with heavy loss, General Montgomery being among the


General Burgoyne was placed in command of the British

Canadian forces in America when he arrived early in 1777. He

came with a large British (Hessian) force of about 8,000 troops

to the St. Lawrence River where he invited the Indians to

join him, many of whom did so. He advanced along the line

of the Richelieu and Lake Champlain and Lake George, until

he reached the headwaters of the last named lake, with a view

of taking possession and holding the line of the Hudson River,

but his plans were frustrated. He was hindered, delayed and

defeated at Stillwater, New York, September 19th, and again

at Freeman's Farm, October 7th, and was compelled to surrender

with his whole army near Saratoga, October 17, 1777. So it will

be seen that this great highway from the waters of the St. Law-

rence to the waters of the Atlantic at New York has been, within

historic times, a great military highway.

Henry Hudson was most fortunate in having his name

stamped upon this important river. Not only the Hudson river

received his name, although not discovered by him, but Hudson's

Bay and Hudson's Strait will forever bear his name, although he

was not the original discoverer or navigator of either.

It is certain from maps and charts of former navigators,

particularly that of Sebastian Cabot, that Hudson's Bay had been

entered and partially explored nearly a hundred years before

Hudson entered those waters. It was on this voyage to Hud-

son's Bay that he met his sad fate. The ship's crew mutinied

and placed him and his son and seven of the seamen in an open

boat and set them adrift on the desolate and gloomy waters of

Hudson's Bay. No trace of them was ever found, although

when the facts became known in England a searching expedition

was sent out to look for them. They undoubtedly perished in the

waves of that storm-swept and lonely sea.

Water Highways and Carrying Places

Water Highways and Carrying Places.        367




As we have before seen Stephen Brule came to Quebec in

1608 which was the second visit of Champlain to the waters of

the St. Lawrence. He was with Champlain at the battle on

the lake now known by that name, in 1609. He remained on the

St. Lawrence during the winter of 1609-10, when he again joined

Champlain in a war expedition, and participated in the battle of

June, 1610, near the mouth of the Richelieu River, where a

hundred Iroquois who had barricaded themselves, were entirely

destroyed by Champlain and his Indian allies. In June, 1610,

he went to spend a year with the Hurons in their country on the

waters of Lake Huron at the foot of what is now called Georgian

Bay. His route was up the Ottawa River to the mouth of the

Mattawan, thence up that stream to the "carrying place" leading

to Lake Nipissing, thence across that lake to its overflow the

French river, thence down that river to the waters of Lake Huron,

andthence along the east coast of that great lake to the country

of the Hurons. Brule was certainly the first "white man" or

European that ever passed over any part of that long and diffi-

cult route or saw any of these lands or waters. In the spring

of 1611, he returned by the same way, when the Indians came to

barter their furs on the banks of the St. Lawrence and to ex-

change him for "Savignon" the young Indian whom Champlain

had taken to France the year before.

In July (1611) Champlain returned to France and Brule

remained among the Indians of Canada for two years and until

Champlain's return in 1613. During this time he roamed far

and wide in the wilds of the Indian country.

In 1615 Champlain was again on the St. Lawrence and agreed

to go with the Hurons and Algonquins to the Huron country with

a view from there of invading the Onondaga country which was

in the very center of the Iroquois tribes. Their principal village

was in the vicinity of Oneida Lake, New York. The place of

assembling was Lake Simcoe in the Huron country and about one

hundred miles north of the present city of Toronto.

As we have before seen, Brule separated from Champlain

and his army and left them at Lake Sincoe, and with two birch

368 Ohio Arch

368       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.


canoes and twelve Indians for an escort, descended by way of

numerous small lakes and other waters to the mouth of the Hum-

ber River. This was to the Indians a well known highway by

which Lake Huron and Lake Ontario were connected, and, except

in times of war, was the best and most desirable route from the

Huron country to the St. Lawrence. Brule crossed the upper

end of Lake Ontario to a point at or near the Niagara River

and from thence passed entirely through the Iroquois country to

the upper waters of the Susquehanna, in Pennsylvania. After

the defeat at Onondaga, of Champlain and his allies, Brule was

compelled to retrace his way to the Carantouan villages.

During the winter of 1615-1616, the restless spirit of Brule

impelled him to explore the Susquehanna to its mouth where it

empties into the Chesapeake Bay from which he returned again

to the Carantouan country, and the next spring the Carantouans

gave him an escort of five or six warriors to act as guides to

pilot him back to the Huron villages. He was taken prisoner

by the Senecas while passing through their country and narrowly

escaped death by torture. However, he ingratiated himself with

the Senecas, and the next spring (1617) returned to his Huron

friends. Here he seems to have rested and occupied himself

in the Indian fashion of hunting and trapping until the next

spring (1618), when he returned with the Hurons as they went

to the St. Lawrence to trade. Here he met Champlain, from

whom he had been separated for almost three years, and related

to him his various and remarkable adventures. In the last named

year Champlain returned to France, but Brule remained among

the Indians. Champlain says of him that he had at that time been

"eight years with the Indians" and had acquired their various


When, in 1618, Brule had arrived from the Indian country

and met Champlain at Three Rivers on the St. Lawrence, he was

urged by Champlain to continue his exploration to the northward

and westward from the mouth of the French river from which

country they had received reports of copper mines and had in

fact seen specimens of copper which the Indians brought from

that country. It is probable that in the summer of 1618 or 1619

he went north along the North Channel to the country of the

Water Highways and Carrying Places

Water Highways and Carrying Places.        369

Beavers, who then had their homes in the region east of the falls

of the St. Mary's. In the summer of 1821 he was again on the St.

Lawrence from which he returned to the Huron country where

he met his future companion and fellow voyager, Grenolle.

The following diagram will sufficiently indicate the lines

which Brule traveled as the first "white man."

In 1621 Brule was again in the Huron country from which

place with a companion, a young Frenchman named Grenolle,

he started for an extended exploration to the north and west

with a view of ascertaining the character not only of the lakes

and rivers and Indian tribes but to locate if possible the copper

mines of which they long had been informed existed in that

country. Leaving the Hurons they urged their canoe past the

mouth of the French river and proceeded northward past the

Manitoulin islands along the North Channel to the falls of St.

Mary's. The entire distance from the mouth of the French river

to the falls of St. Marys was unexplored (unless by Brule in

1618 or 1619) and to Europeans unknown, except by such in-

definite and vague reports as they might have received from the

Indians. There is but little that is definite about this expedition

to Lake Superior, but as they were on an expedition of general

discovery with the intention of enlarging the geographical knowl-

edge of the white man, it cannot be supposed that two such ven-

Vol. XIV.- 24.

370 Ohio Arch

370       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.


turesome spirits as Brule and Grenolle would have stopped short

at the falls of St. Mary's. They would naturally and necessarily

want to know more about the waters beyond from which this

vast overflow of clear, cold water came, rushing over one of

the most stupendous and beautiful rapids in the world. Stand-

ing on the banks of the rapids they necessarily looked out upon

the waters of Lake Superior and so were the first white men to

see and discover the greatest fresh water body on the globe.

They were gone on this expedition for a period of two years,

which would give them ample time to have reached the head or

western end of Lake Superior where are now the cities of Du-

luth and Superior. The exact point, however, to which they

urged their canoe is not known, but as one of their main objects

was to solve the question as to the "North Sea," now known as

Lake Superior, it is impossible to suppose that they stopped short

of their main purpose. That they went on the waters of Lake

Superior to a nation that, to some extent at least, worked the

copper mines, of which they had previously heard, there can be

no doubt, as they brought back with them a large ingot of copper

which could not have been had short of the region of Lake Su-

perior. It is strong evidence of their having reached the extreme

head of Lake Superior that the Indians say that the journey

from the Huron country was thirty days, while Brule reported

it as four hundred leagues, showing that Brule's estimate was

his own and not what he had learned from the Indians.

The historian Sagard says that Grenolle reported "that a

nation living one hundred leagues from the Hurons worked in

a copper mine and that he had seen among them several girls

who had the ends of their noses cut off having committed

offenses against chastity."

Sagard (one of the early priests to visit the Huron waters)

who met and traveled with Brule and Savignon on their return

trip down the Ottawa, says of Brule "that this bold voyager, with

a Frenchman named Grenolle, made a long journey and returned

with an ingot of red copper and with a description of Lake Su-

perior who defined it as very large, requiring nine days to reach

its upper extremity and discharging itself into Lake Huron by

a fall."

Water Highways and Carrying Places

Water Highways and Carrying Places.        371

It is possible and even probable that Brule was the first white

man to see the stupendous falls of Niagara. He was in that im-

mediate vicinity at least on two occasions as early as 1615-16,

which was before any other European had visited that region.

It may be assumed that Brule, who was so intensely inclined to

see all objects and places of interest, would not have allowed

Niagara to escape him.

The last few years of Brule's life he remained entirely with

the Hurons, who in 1632 for some unknown cause barbarously

murdered him after a residence among them of more than twenty

years. Their savagery did not stop at his death. It is most

revolting says Parkman, that "In their wild and horrible ferocity

to take vengeance on their victim, they feasted upon his lifeless


The following diagram will sufficiently indicate the lines

which Brule and Grenolle traveled as the first "white men."

For more than two hundred and fifty years Friar Joseph Le-

Caron received credit generally for having been the first white

man to pass up the Ottawa and the first to discover the waters of

lakes Nipissing and Huron, and it is only of late years that this

error has been corrected. Modern investigation has shown that he

was entitled to no such distinction. He in fact discovered noth-

ing whatever which added to the geographical knowledge of

the country. He was a devout and zealous priest in the Catholic

Church, and ardently anxious to convert savages to his faith, but

372 Ohio Arch

372      Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.


he was in no sense an explorer and deserves no credit as such.

He did not leave France until May, 1615, and in due time arrived

at Quebec with three other priests of the Catholic Church. He

was assigned to establish a mission among the Hurons, many of

whom were then near Montreal where they had come to trade

with the French, and he went direct to that place. Champlain

had arranged with the Indians there assembled to join them in

a campaign against the Iroquois before mentioned. LeCaron

had nothing whatever to do with that expedition, but finding the

Hurons having finished their bartering with the French traders

on the St. Lawrence, were about to return to their own country

preparatory to their campaign against the Iroquois, he determined

to accompany them. He had no connection with the intended

incursion into the country of the Iroquois. That had been ar-

ranged for by Champlain and the Indians, and LeCaron simply

availed himself of the opportunity to obtain access to the Huron

villages with a view only of propagating his religious faith. The

Indians with whom LeCaron traveled left the St. Lawrence on

the first of July, 1615. It was necessary for Champlain to post-

pone his departure for a few days, but on the 9th of July, he, with

Brule and another French lad (probably Grenolle) left the St.

Lawrence to join in the expedition against the Iroquois. He

reached the Huron country a few days after LeCaron and the

Indians with whom he traveled, but Brule had been for five years

in that country and had made yearly trips with the Hurons to the

St. Lawrence along the route of Lake Nipissing and the Ottawa

river, and was as familiar with the route and the country as the

Indians themselves.

Years before LeCaron ever saw an Indian, Brule had lived

with them and had acquired the language of different tribes in

the regions where he had been; and he went along now with

Champlain as his interpreter of the languages of the various

tribes. The claim as to LeCaron was based upon nothing more

substantial than the fact that the Indians with whom he traveled

reached the Huron country a few days in advance of Champlain.

Most of the early writers concerning the history of that time

mention Brule as having gone to live with the Indians in the

summer of 161O, but they seem to have fallen into the habit of

Water Highways and Carrying Places

Water Highways and Carrying Places.        373

not considering him in their narrations. But when it comes to

naming the "first European" or "white man" in connection with

these explorations and discoveries Brule cannot be ignored, but

must be given place in history which rightly belongs to him.

LeCaron left the Huron country in the spring of 1616, as

soon as the waters were free from ice. He was only a few months

in that country during which time he was attending to his relig-

ious duties and made no incursions or discoveries. Brule had

left him there when he went on the campaign against the Iroquois

and when he returned to the Huron villages, Le Caron had been

gone from that country more than a year.




John Nicolet, a young Frenchman, arrived at Quebec in the

spring of 1618 and was immediately sent by Champlain to the

Ottawa country to learn the language in use among the Ottawa

tribes. He remained with them two years, during which time

he saw not a single white man. Subsequently he made his home

for several years with the Nipissings from whence he was re-

called by the government to the St. Lawrence and employed as

an interpreter and commissary. He went again among the In-

dians where he remained from 1629 to 1632. This was during

the time that Quebec was in the possession of the English, from

which place he held himself aloof and remained away during

that time in the remote country of Lake Nipissing. He returned

to the St. Lawrence in 1633 and the next year (1634) was se-

lected by Champlain to go upon an exploring expedition to the

regions further west than had yet been visited by white men.

The expedition was in the interest of the "Association of one

hundred" who desired to enlarge their knowledge of the Indian

tribes and country with a view of extending the fur trade, of

which they then had a monopoly. A still further object was to

locate, if possible, the copper mines of which they had heard

so much from Brule and Grenolle and the Indians around the

upper lakes. Nicolet was selected to make a venture into this,

at that time, unknown country except as to such information as

they had received from the natives. They had heard of the

374 Ohio Arch

374       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

Winnebagoes who were at that time located west of Lake Mich-

igan, and Nicolet was especially instructed to visit them and also

any other tribes who might be found in that region.

It was in 1634 that Nicolet started on his mission. He pur-

sued the usual route by way of the Ottawa, Nipissing and the

French river, and at the mouth of the French river he turned

north and west as Brule and Grenolle had done thirteen years

before. He held his way along the north shore of the Huron

waters to the falls of St. Marys, as Brule and Grenolle had done.

From the falls he turned south along the St. Mary's river to

where it enters the waters of Lake Huron, and from that point

commences his original explorations and discoveries. He pro-

ceeded along the north shore of Lake Huron, past the Straits

of Mackinaw, around the north and west shores of Lake Michi-

gan until he entered the waters of Green Bay. From Green Bay

he proceeded up the waters of Fox River to near the carrying

place from that stream to the waters of the Wisconsin river and

there ended his original or first "white man's" discoveries.

Nicolet returned to the St. Lawrence and was employed in

important relations mostly at Three Rivers and Quebec until 1642,

when he lost his life by the upsetting of a boat in which he was

hurrying on a mission of mercy to save an Iroquois from being

tortured by the Algonquins who had captured him.

Nicolet was a devout Catholic but not a Jesuit. His life

and character and conduct in his intercourse with the numerous

Indian tribes was such that they all reposed the greatest confi-

dence in him in life and entertained the highest respect for his

memory of which their natures were capable.

The diagram on page 376 will in a measure show the route

of original discovery to which Nicolet is entitled to credit.




In 1669, Talon, then Intendant of Canada, sent Joliet with

a young French companion to explore and locate if possible the

copper regions of Lake Superior. He failed in his mission in

so far as the copper regions were concerned, but they made a

most important excursion over waters that had not before that

Water Highways and Carrying Places

Water Highways and Carrying Places.        375

time been reached or seen by any European. On their return

from the northern lakes, they coasted down the west shore of

Lake Huron and visited the Pottawattamies then living on that

shore. The Pottawattamies had, at that time, never seen a white

man. From the Pottawattamie country they coasted on down

the west shore of Lake Huron to the point where the waters of

that lake flow south through the St. Clair and Detroit rivers.

From there these daring explorers held their way with the current

of these rivers until they reached the waters of Lake Erie.

Thence they proceeded along the northern coast of Lake Erie

to the mouth of the Grand River not far west of Niagara Falls.

They turned up Grand River (now the home of the Senecas)

and proceeded to a point near the present city of Hamilton, On-

tario, where they met LaSalle and the Sulpitian priests. They

were the first Europeans to navigate or see the waters along the

route which they took from the northern end of Lake Huron to

a point near the city of Hamilton. The information which they

imparted to LaSalle and the priests as to the waters over which

376 Ohio Arch

376       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

they had just passed, and the condition of the Pottawattamie

nation determined the priests to go at once to that country as a

field for the exercise of their religious proclivities. It was here

that they parted with LaSalle who held firmly to his purpose of

exploring the Ohio River country.

Joliet and his companions are entitled to be considered the

first white men or Europeans to pass over any portion of these

waters over which now passes by far the greatest commerce of

any inland waters in the world.

The following diagram will indicate the lines of original

travel taken by Joliet and his companion.

In 1672, Frontenac, then Governor of Canada, and Talon,

the Intendant, determined to send an expedition to the regions

further west than had yet been visited by white men and to search

out and locate the great Mississippi river and to learn as much

Water Highways and Carrying Places

Water Highways and Carrying Places.         377


as possible of any tribes that they might meet with. Their pur-

pose was largely mercenary, their object being to secure a knowl-

edge of new tribes and new regions so as to enlarge the fur trade

on the St. Lawrence. Jolliet was selected by them for this ser-

vice, for which he was in the highest degree fitted. He had been

born at Quebec and brought up in the wilderness of the lake coun-

try and was intelligent, hardy and daring, thoroughly versed in

the habits of the Indian tribes. He had already made long ex-

cursions to the lake country and had made valuable discoveries

of new routes of travel by water and of new tribes of Indians.

He was to have associated with him Father Marquette who had

seen service as a missionary at the falls of the St. Mary's and at

LePoint (Apostles Islands) on the south side of Lake Superior.

While stationed in these places as a priest of the Catholic Church,

Marquette had learned much concerning Lake Michigan and the

Mississippi and Illinois rivers. He had come in contact with

numerous members of the tribes occupying the vast region to the

south and west of Lake Superior and greatly desired to explore it.

Joliet reached Mackinaw on this expedition in the fall of

1672 with instructions to Marquette to join him in the proposed

venture which gave great pleasure to the ardent priest, as it

was in harmony with his own desires. They spent the winter

in preparing for the journey and in informing themselves as fully

as possible concerning the regions and tribes they were to visit.

On the 17th of May, 1673, they embarked in two canoes with

five men. These two frail canoes were destined to carry them

from "the snows of Canada to the more congenial clime of Ar-

kansas" and to tide them over thousands of miles of water which

had never before been disturbed by a white man's canoe. From

Mackinaw around the north and west shore of Lake Michigan

they passed over the same route which had been traveled by Nico-

let thirty-nine years before until they reached the waters of Green

Bay. From there they ascended the Fox river to the carrying

place from the waters of that river to waters of the Wisconsin

river. This carrying place was near the point at which Nicolet

had turned back. It was but a mile and a half from the waters

of one river to the waters of the other, but the way was so intri-

378 Ohio Arch

378       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.


cate through the vast field of wild rice which grows in such abun-

dance in that region as to require the services of Indian guides

to pilot the way through them. When they reached the waters

of the Wisconsin they dispensed with their guides and proceeded

for six days to descend the Wisconsin to its mouth where it empties

into the mighty Mississippi. When their canoes shot out on the

waters of that the greatest of rivers on the continent the adventur-

ers were greatly rejoiced, and well they might have been as they

had at last discovered and were upon the waters of the long

sought for Mississippi. The voyagers turned south with the

current of the river and proceeded for more than a thousand

miles. They passed the mouth of great rivers emptying into the

Mississippi and found many tribes of natives inhabiting the shores,

most of whom proved friendly. They did not change their course

until they had reached the mouth of the Arkansas river where

DeSoto had crossed the Mississippi 132 years before. At this

point they were able to determine that the Mississippi flowed

into the Gulf of Mexico which was an unsettled question up to

that time. From this point on the 17th of July, 1673, they com-

menced their return up the Mississippi and proceeded with great

difficulty and considerable delay on account of the illness of Mar-

quette until they reached the mouth of the Illinois, into which

they turned their canoes and urged them up that placid stream

to the important Indian village of Kaskaskia. They found the

people of this very important village friendly, and after some stay

there, the Indains kindly piloted them up to the mouth of the Des

Plaines, up which they proceeded to the carrying place over into

the Chicago river. They then coasted up the west shore of Lake

Michigan to Green Bay which they had left four months before.

Jolliet proceeded at once to the St. Lawrence while Marquette

remained at Green Bay.

Marquette and Joliet are entitled to credit for having been

the first white men to pass from the carrying place between the

Fox river and the Wisconsin to the mouth of the Arkansas and

on their return from the mouth of the Illinois to the mouth of

what is now the Chicago river, thence along the western coast

to Lake Michigan to Green Bay.

Water Highways and Carrying Places

Water Highways and Carrying Places.        379

The following diagram will show, in a manner, the routes

over which Marquette and Jolliet are entitled to be considered

the original navigators and explorers.


When Marquette and Joliet

reached Green Bay in the fall

of 1673 the former was in in-

firm health and rested at

Green Bay for nearly a year,

but his health being in part

restored he determined to re-

turn to the Illinois river as he

had promised the Indians he

would do. The course taken

by Marquette and associates,

two of whom were French,

was along the west side of

Lake Michigan to the mouth

of the Chicago river. He pur-

sued the route from that point

to some distance inland where

he suffered a relapse and was

compelled to spend the winter

in a rude hut constructed by

his French companions. They

suffered greatly during the

winter, but in the spring of

1674, Marquette renewed his efforts to reach his Indian friends

on the Illinois with a view of establishing a mission among them.

He succeeded in this and was most joyfully received by the

natives. He administered religious instruction to them for a short

time, but his health was such that he was required to make an

effort to return to his mission at S. Ignace. A number of Indians

accompanied him up the Illinois river to the mouth of the Kan-

kakee; thence up that lonely and crooked stream for several hun-

dreds of miles until they reached a point near where is now the

380 Ohio Arch

380      Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.


city of South Bend, Indiana, where there was a short carrying

place of about four miles from the Kankakee over to the head-

waters of the St. Josephs of Lake Michigan, and there it seems

the Indians left him. From there he, with his two French com-

panions, floated down that river to its mouth where it empties

into the east side of Lake Michigan. From this point his faith-

ful escorts proceeded for several days north along the east shore

of Lake Michigan until his strength entirely failing him, and

himself realizing that death was upon him, requested his com-

panions to take him on shore that he might die in peace. His

every request was complied with. A rude shelter was prepared

for him where, after a few days and nights of devotion, he passed

peacefully away, and was buried at the place of his death on

the desolate and lonely east shore of Lake Michigan.

In reviewing the lives and characters of the priests of the

Catholic Church who energized among the Indians of that time,

or of any time, Marquette was clearly the most celebrated and

most beloved by the Indians. He died in 1674 at the age of 38

years, but his name has a permanent place in the history of his


The two French companions of Marquette on his last voy-

age proceeded to Mackinaw, which place they reached in safety

and are entitled to be considered the first Europeans to coast along

the eastern shore of Lake Michigan from the point where Mar-

quette was buried to the Straits of Mackinaw.

The diagram on page 382 will sufficiently show the route

taken by Marquette on his return from the Illinois river in 1674.

This route had never before been traversed by white men.




La Salle came to Montreal from France in 1666. His equip-

ment for whatever experiences he might have in his career in

the New World was that he was well fitted mentally and physi-

cally to meet whatever fortunes or misfortunes might befall

him. His ambition and his courage were unbounded and not

unmixed with greed of gain. He had visions not only of wealth

but of dominion and empire. Before his time extensive explo-

Water Highways and Carrying Places

Water Highways and Carrying Places.        381

rations had been made, but he soon learned from contact with

the Indians, especially the Senecas, a party of whom had wintered

at his quarters in 1668-69, of still vaster regions that were as yet

unexplored and unseen by white men. He heard especially of

the waters of the Ohio, some of which headed in the Seneca

country and to which his Seneca friends offered to guide him.

He knew that the waters of the Ohio would reach the great Miss-

issippi river and finally flow into the sea, but where and into what

382 Ohio Arch

382      Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

sea was the great mystery. It is probable that his hope in this

first exploration to the Ohio country was that he might reach

the Mississippi; and in all probability he would have done so

had his crew remained loyal to him.

This expedition was organized in 1669 at LaChine, near

Montreal. At the same time the Sulpitian priests at LaChine

were organizing an expedition for the purpose of searching out

and converting to their faith such Indian tribes as they might

find in the unknown country of the Ohio. The two expeditions

were united in the beginning. LaSalle had procured four canoes

and seven men, while the Sulpitians had their own canoes and

their own men. The members of this expedition were all French-

men and would have to procure guides from the Indians when

they reached the upper end of Lake Ontario. On the 6th of

July, 1669, they proceeded up the St. Lawrence river to Lake

Ontario and along the south shore of that lake to a point not

far east from the mouth of Niagara river where the expedition

rested while LaSalle visited the village of the Senecas with a

view of obtaining guides to the Ohio. He failed to secure guides,

as he had hoped, and as the season was getting late the expedition

again moved forward along the south shore of Lake Ontario,

past the mouth of the Niagara river and proceeded until they

reached an Indian town near where the city of Hamilton, Canada,

now stands.   While at this village he learned of two young

Frenchmen being near by, and there for the first time Joliet and

LaSalle met. Joliet, as before stated, was returning from the

expedition which he had undertaken at the instance of Talon in

search of the copper regions of Lake Superior. This meeting

caused a separation of La Salle's party from the missionary party.

Joliet told them of the Pottawattamies who greatly needed relig-

ious instructions, and the missionaries determined to go at once

to their spiritual rescue while LaSalle adhered to his original pur-

pose of visiting the valley of the Ohio. The home of the Potta-

wattamies was at that time in the country west of Lake Huron.

It is conclusive that Joliet in returning from his search for

copper mines in 1669 coasted the west shore of Lake Huron for

the reason that he visited the Pottawattamies and reported their

spiritual condition to the priests who were with LaSalle when

Water Highways and Carrying Places

Water Highways and Carrying Places.         383

they met near the head of Lake Ontario. The Pottawattamies

occupied the country west of Lake Huron and in order to visit

them Joliet necessarily had his course along the west shore of

that lake.

The missionaries failed in their purpose to reach the Pot-

tawattamies, but passed up the eastern side of Lake Huron, and

the north channel until they reached the falls of St. Marys, from

which place they returned by the way of Lake Nipissing and the

Ottawa to the St. Lawrence, having discovered nothing and ac-

complished nothing. LaSalle succeeded in carrying out, in large

part, his original plan. Just what course he took after separating

from the missionaries is not known with entire certainty, but it

384 Ohio Arch

384       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

may be assumed that he passed near the head of Niagara river

and along the south and east side of Lake Erie to a point oppo-

site Chautauqua Lake. From Lake Erie to Chautauqua Lake

there was a well known and much used carrying place of about

eight miles. From there the route was over the waters of Chau-

tauqua Lake to its outlet near Jamestown, New York, from

where the overflow waters, united with the other streams, flow

into the Alleghany river near Warren, Pennsylvania, and thence

descend to the Ohio. It was by this route that the French sub-

sequently sent a force two hundred strong to take possession of

the Ohio.

Not much is recorded of this excursion of LaSalle except

that it extended down the Ohio to the falls at Louisville, Ken-

tucky. Here most of his men deserted him and he was compelled

to return almost if not entirely unaccompanied. His way of re-

turn has not been definitely determined, but it was necessarily

by way of the Big Miami and the Maumee (then called Miami

Water Highways and Carrying Places

Water Highways and Carrying Places.        385

of the Lake) or by way of the Scioto and Sandusky rivers. No

other routes were at that time opened to him. Whichever of these

routes he may have taken he was the first white man to have

passed over it. The probabilities are that he went by the Big

Miami and the Maumee to Lake Erie, but it is not certain, and

not much can be claimed in respect to it.

Between the ending of this expedition and the undertaking

of his next important voyage of discovery there elapsed a period

of about nine years. In the meantime he was exceedingly en-

gaged with important affairs along the St. Lawrence and in

France, to which country he had in the meantime made several


In 1679 he planned a voyage over Lake Erie, through the

Detroit and St. Clair rivers and over Lakes Huron and Michigan

with a view of reaching and exploring the Mississippi river, as

well as engaging in the fur trade.  In furtherance of this plan

he built on the Niagara river above the falls a vessel of forty-

five or fifty tons with which to navigate the great lakes. They

named the vessel the "Griffin." There were three friars of the

Sulpitian order in the party that sailed on the "Griffin," among

whom was Father Hennepin, a man of considerable learning and

a ready and somewhat graceful writer, and had considerable

talent for describing places where he had never been and things

that he had never seen. He immortalized himself by stories

which he related and books which he published when he re-

turned to France which have secured for him, for all time to

come, the appellation of "the most impudent liar."  Nothing

could exceed his audacity in this respect.

The expedition started in the summer of 1679 from the

Niagara river and passed safely over Lake Erie, Lake Huron

and through the Straits of Machinaw until they reached Green

Bay on the waters of Lake Michigan. Here the vessel was

loaded with a rich cargo of furs, and LaSalle sent it back to

Niagara in charge of his pilot and five men. The vessel was

never heard of afterwards. It was lost somewhere between Green

Bay and its destination the Niagara river. From this point (Green

Bay) LaSalle determined to push forward to the Illinois country,

and in pursuance of this purpose passed down the west shore of

Vol. XIV.- 25.

386 Ohio Arch

386      Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

Lake Michigan and around the south end to the St. Joseph river.

From Green Bay to the mouth of the Chicago river the route had

been traversed by Marquette and Joliet several years before; but

from the mouth of the Chicago river to the mouth of the St.

Joseph, LaSalle and his party were the first white men to traverse

it. From the mouth of the St. Joseph to the mouth of the Illinois,

and on to the mouth of the Arkansas river the route had all been

explored before this expedition of LaSalle. When LaSalle and

his party reached Illinois country he determined to build a fort

and establish a camp as a basis for further explorations. But

from this place LaSalle was compelled to return to Lakes Erie

and Ontario, leaving the colony on the Illinois in charge of his

faithful Tonty with instructions as to its conduct and manage-

ment in his absence; and at the same time he instructed Hennepin

to proceed down the Illinois to its junction with the Mississippi

and to make such other and further explorations as opportunity

might afford.

In the meantime, pursuant to the instructions of LaSalle,

Hennepin with two French companions (Michael Accau and a

man known as Picard du Gay), proceeded to the mouth of the

Illinois, thence up the Mississippi to the mouth of the Wis-

consin. From their starting point on the Illinois to the mouth of

Water Highways and Carrying Places

Water Highways and Carrying Places.         387

the Wisconsin they passed over waters that had before that time

been explored by Marquette and Joliet. From the mouth of

the Wisconsin, however, to the falls of Minnehaha, near the

present city of Minneapolis, he and his companions were the first

white men to explore that part of the Mississippi river. They

were taken prisoners by the Sioux Indians somewhere in that

country and were for some time detained by them, but were

finally released and Hennepin returned to the St. Lawrence by

way of the Wisconsin river, Mackinaw, Nipissing, and the Ot-

tawa. From the St. Lawrence he returned to France where

he wrote and published volumes of stupendous lies which made

him famous at the time and infamous for all time. He has se-

cured immortal fame in history both as a liar and a plaguerist.

As soon as LaSalle had established his camp and fortified

himself in a strong position, which fortification he gave the name

of Crevacoeur, he returned to Fort Miami at the mouth of the

St. Joseph at the southern end of Lake Michigan, and from

there he made a journey on foot with his five French com-

panions across the southern portion of the State of Michigan to

Lake Erie and on to Fort Frontenac at the foot of Lake Ontario;

but it is not within our purpose to follow him in the strenuous

life which befell him until he reappeared at the mouth of the St.

Joseph late in the year 1682, where he made final preparations

for an expedition intended to reach the mouth of the Mississippi.

On December 21st, he dispatched Tonty and Membre from Fort

Miami at the mouth of the St. Joseph with a part of his force

in six canoes. They crossed from the mouth of the St. Joseph

to the mouth of the Chicago where LaSalle joined them a few

days later. From the Chicago river over to the Des Plaines

there was a carrying place of a few miles, but at this time those

streams were frozen and LaSalle and his companions were com-

pelled to construct sheds and put their canoes and baggage on

them in order to cross from the Chicago to the Des Plaines which

was and is the north branch of the Illinois. They followed the

course of the Des Plaines to its junction with the Kankakee and

thence down the Illinois to the site of the Illinois village which

they found deserted. From there they found the river free from

ice and proceeded with their canoes down the Illinois river until

388 Ohio Arch

388      Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

on the 6th of February they reached its mouth where it empties

into the Mississippi. They tarried here for a few days and then

commenced the descent of the great river. They stopped at the

various Indian villages with a view of learning as much as pos-

sible concerning them and of cultivating friendly relations with

them. They in time reached the mouth of the Arkansas where

they found a considerable Indian village. This was at the point

where DeSoto and his followers first saw and crossed the Miss-

issippi 141 years before and which had been reached by Marquette

and Joliet nine years before. The Mississippi had not been ex-

plored from that point to its mouth. On the 31st of March they

passed the mouth of the Red River where in 1542 DeSoto died

and was buried with all his ambition and greed of gold and treas-

ures. The rich cities he hoped to find and plunder as he and other

Spaniards had done in Mexico and Peru were never found and

his visions of plunder and wealth vanished into nothingness.

On the 6th of April, LaSalle and his companions reached the

point where the river divides itself into three channels, through

which its mighty waters rush into the Gulf of Mexico. These

were all explored until they reached the sea, "then the broad

bosom of the great gulf opened on his sight, tossing its restless

billows, limitless, voiceless, lonely as when born of chaos, with-

out a sail, without a sign of life." (Parkman.)

In the discovery of the mouth of the Mississippi, LaSalle had

reached the consummation of an ambition which he had long and

ardently entertained. It would seem that he might well have been

satisfied with what he had accomplished in the eighteen years since

he left France, and it would have been well for him had he been

content to rest upon the laurels which he had gained by his stren-

uous efforts in exploring and making known the important water

highways of the interior of the continent. He and his associates

had aided very materially in making known to the world the

highways and carrying places by which the Aborigines traveled

for thousands of years. The entire distance from the mouth of

the St. Lawrence to the mouth of the Mississippi was more than

4,000 miles which had been traversed by means of birch canoes,

urged on by energetic adventurous white men. He was not sat-

isfied, however, and immediately returned to France filled with

Water Highways and Carrying Places

Water Highways and Carrying Places.        389

the idea of returning by sea to the mouth of the Mississippi and

establishing there a military colony in the furtherance of French

interests. Aided by government, he organized an expedition and

sailed for the mouth of the Mississippi but miscalculating the

latitude and longitude sailed past the mouth of that river and

landed some distance west of that point. It is not our prov-

ince to follow him further. He wandered far and wide over

land, hoping to discover the great river, but he failed and on or

near the Brazos river in the State of Texas, he was foully mur-

dered by one of his own men.

The original explorations to which LaSalle is entitled as

the first "white man" to have traversed are, first, from a point

near the Niagara river to the waters of the Alleghany and thence

390 Ohio Arch

390       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

down that stream to the Ohio and on to the falls where the city

of Louisville now stands; second, the route by water from the

mouth of the Chicago river around the south end of Lake Mich-

igan to the mouth of the St. Joseph; third, from the mouth of the

Arkansas to the mouth of the Mississippi. But these discoveries

in no wise represent the explorations and discoveries which his

mighty energies prompted.

Champlain in his time and LaSalle in his time were the main

springs of most of the discoveries of the waters and countries

in the great basin which lies between the western slope of the

Alleghanies and the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains and

the Great Lakes on the north and the Gulf of Mexico on the south.

It is not at the present day generally appreciated that these two

energetic, able and ambitious Frenchmen came near establishing

a French empire in the New World embracing this entire ter-



There were three starting points on Lake Erie by which the

Aborigines in their time, and the white men in more modern

times passed from the waters of Lake Erie to the waters of the

Ohio River. These were all very important and much used as far

back as we have either history or tradition. There were prac-

tically direct lines of canoe travel with but few carrying places

on any of them so that the Aborigines could pass easily from

one of these waters to the other.

The first we have to mention commenced at the mouth of the

Cuyahoga river where the city of Cleveland now stands, thence

up that river to a point near the city of Akron in Summit County,

Ohio, where there was a carrying place of about eight miles from

the waters of the Cuyahoga to the waters of the Tuscarawas and

south with that stream to the Muskingum, and thence along that

majestic river to its junction with the Ohio. It is not known

who the first European or white man was to pass over this route,

but no doubt it was first traveled by French fur traders or voy-

agers. The ubiquious fur trader was everywhere present, in the

immediate wake of the original explorers, but they left no records

of their travels or excursions. The main lakes and rivers were

visited by them soon after their existence was made known.

Water Highways and Carrying Places

Water Highways and Carrying Places.        391

As early as 1668, Joliet traversed, as has before been seen,

Lake Erie and the Detroit and St. Clair rivers; and the next

year a few Sulpitian priests traveled over the same route, only

going in the other direction, and from that time all the waters

were made known to the French traders. On LaSalle's return

from his exploration of the Ohio in 1670, all that country was

made known and soon invaded by the rapacious and unscrupulous

fur traders, so that we may safely assume that all the waters of

Lake Erie and the waters leading from Lake Erie to the Ohio

were traversed by them, and that they must be considered as

the first white men to invade these waters; so that it is almost

certain that the Cuyahoga and the Muskingum and the Scioto

routes and the Maumee were all known and often used by the

French traders prior to the time of which we have any authentic




The next important highway between Lake Erie and the

Ohio river commenced at the mouth of the Sandusky river and

proceeded south against the current of that historic stream to a

very noted carrying place about six miles east of the present city

of Bucyrus in Crawford County. This carrying place was but

four miles long and was the only carrying place between Lake

Erie and the Ohio river. When this route was first traveled by

white men is not known, but like others it was undoubtedly by

the French traders at a period long prior to any written record

concerning this route. The first written description that we have

was by Col. James Smith, who, in the summer of 1755, was taken

prisoner by the Indians. He passed from the mouth of the San-

dusky to the carrying place in Crawford County. From there

he went with his captors to the south west as far as the Olen-

tangy, now called the Darby. He and his Indian companions

spent the winter of 1757 in the neighborhood of what is now Plain

City, Madison County, and the next spring they descended the

Darby to the point where it empties into the Scioto river near

Circleville, Ohio, from which point they ascended the Scioto to

the carrying place in Crawford County, and thence by way of

the Sandusky and Lake Erie to Detroit. His very interesting

392 Ohio Arch

392       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.


and important narrative furnished the first description that has

been preserved of the country between Pickaway County and the

mouth of the Sandusky river.



From the mouth of the Maumee, the Ohio could be reached

at two widely different points, the one at the mouth of the Big

Miami, and the other at the mouth of the Wabash; but who first

traveled these waterways is like the last two mentioned, unknown.

Lake Erie and the Detroit river, and the surrounding regions,

had been discovered and made known as early at 1669 and '70.

The French trader soon entered into any new field of barter or

commerce with the Indians which was opened to them; and by

the year 1700 the French interests about Lake Erie and the

Detroit river, and other streams in that region had come to be

so important that it was deemed necessary by the French author-

ities to give it a military protection, and so in 1701, Cadillac, a

French officer, was sent with fifty soldiers from the St. Lawrence

to establish a post at the present city of Detroit. He arrived

at that point July 24th, 1701.  At that time there were both

French and English traders around the waters of Lake Erie

and the Detroit and other rivers, so that it is certain that, at that

early date, there was not only French traders in that region, but

that their interests were so considerable that it was thought nec-

essary to protect it by military force. There are facts as well as

traditions which go to show that the Maumee had been traversed

by the French trader as early as 1690, but who the first trader or

voyager was will always remain unknown. The waters of the

Ohio could be reached from the Maumee either by ascending the

Auglaize or by ascending the St. Mary, and thence by carrying

places to the waters of the Big Miami which empties into the

Ohio at the southwest corner of the State of Ohio.

Another very important way to the Ohio was up the Maumee

to a point near Fort Wayne, thence by a carrying place of eight

or nine miles to Little river one of the head-waters of the Wabash.

This led to the Ohio river at the southwest corner of the State

of Indiana. We know that this route was traveled by the French

at a very early day, and French trading posts had been established

Water Highways and Carrying Places

Water Highways and Carrying Places.       393

394 Ohio Arch

394       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

as far south as Vincennes; but it is not easy to fix dates for these

events. In 1778 the English general, Hamilton, passed over this

route with his army of about three hundred soldiers and Indians,

and established himself at the village of Vincennes. He has left

a description of the carrying place between the waters of the

Maumee and those of the Wabash. This carrying place was

about nine miles long, and General Hamilton says of it: "We

arrived at one of the sources of the Wabash, called Little river.

The stream was so uncommonly low that bateaux could not have

floated but for the fact that, some distance below, a beaver dam

kept up the water. This they cut through to give a passage to

their boats, and, having taken in the lading at the landing, they

passed them all." He further says: "This carrying place is free

from obstructions but what the carelessness and ignorance of

the French have left and would leave from generation to gen-

eration. An intelligent person, at a small expense, might make

it as fine a road as any within twenty miles of London. The

woods are beautiful; there are oak, ash, beech, nut-wood, very

Water Highways and Carrying Places

Water Highways and Carrying Places.        395

clear and of a great growth."  (Butterfield's Conquest of the

Illinois, 208.)

Subsequently very important events took place along this

water highway, but they are not within the scope of our present



The foregoing paper is mainly based upon the following

authorities: Bancroft's History U. S., Weare's Cabot's Discovery

of North America; Moore's Northwest Under Three Flags; Cad-

wallader Colden's History of Five Indian Nations; Brule's Dis-

coveries, by Butterfield; Nicolet's Discoveries, by Butterfield;

Shea's Discovery and Exploration of the Mississippi; Buell's Sir

William Johnson; John Fiske's Discovery of America; "Captain

Pote's Journal;" Parkman's LaSalle, and The Discovery of the

Great West; Parkman's The Pioneers of France in the New

World; Butler's Lake George and Lake Champlain; Ketchum's

History of Buffalo; Darlington's Col. James Smith; Weise's His-

tory of the City of Albany; Butterfield's George Rogers Clark's

Conquest of the Northwest; Drake's Book of the Indians; Per-

kin's Western Annals; Hall's Memoir of William H. Harrison;

Simpkin's History of Auglaize County; Knapp's History of the

Maumee Valley; Slocum's History of the Maumee River Basin;

Prescott's Mexico and Peru; Parkman's Jesuits in North America;

Narratives of Marquette, Allonez, Membre and Hennepin.