Why Does This Blog Exist?

You never know what you'll find here - anything with genealogical or historical value is fair game. This blog will be updated as I clean out my office, go through boxes and piles, or find pertinent items at antique shops. In the meantime, I hope you find something of interest here.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

St. Paul – Chapter VIII – Earliest Explorers

(From “St. Paul Location-Development-Opportunities” by F. C. Miller, Ph. D., Webb Book Publishing Co., St. Paul, Minnesota, 1928)

Westward the course of empire takes its way.
—Bishop Berkeley

There is no doubt that a number of explorers traversed the site of St. Paul in the seventeenth and early part of the eighteenth century. Few of them did more than merely roam through the territory. Only brief mention of the prominent ones will be made.

In April, 1700, Charles Le Sueur, with nineteen companions, sailed from the mouth of the Mississippi River as far north as the Falls of St. Anthony. Instead of remaining here, however, he continued up the Minnesota River.

In the fall of 1773 Peter Pond, accompanied by two traders, came up the Mississippi from Prairie du Chien to the mouth of the Minnesota, which, like Le Sueur he ascended and where with his men he wintered. Their object was to trade with the Indians. Neither Pond nor Le Sueur left any impressions on the future of St. Paul.

Major Stephen H. Long, in the summer of 1817, together with a few adventurers, arrived from Prairie du Chien at St. Anthony Falls. These men were in search of a site for a military post. The major wrote a glowing account of the scenery and "the thunder of the cataract." He, too, examined Carver's Cave. He selected the present site of Fort Snelling, which within two years was occupied by a military detachment.

Giacomo C. Beltrami, in 1823, arrived at Fort Snelling on his way north, hoping to discover the source of the Mississippi. Concluding that the source of the river was to be found in Red Lake, he returned to Fort Snelling. In 1835 George W. Featherstonehaugh arrived by the river at Fort Snelling.   He was a geologist and in search of minerals. In the same year George Catlin visited Fort Snelling. He made paintings of the Indians and made a trip to their pipestone quarries at Pipestone.

As far as St. Paul is concerned, Hennepin alone should have further mention.

La Salle, originally a fur trader at Fort Frontenac on Lake Ontario, conceived the bold idea of exploring the Mississippi River.   Having obtained the consent of Louis XIV, he set out in 1679 on his exploring expedition with a crew of about thirty men among whom was  Father Hennepin. Crossing Lake Huron, he entered Lake Michigan and arrived at Green Bay.   After some serious mishaps, he continued his voyage southward, and, after having overcome many obstacles and difficulties on lakes, rivers, and land, he eventually arrived at a place on the Illinois River not far from the present site of Peoria, Illinois, where he erected Fort Crevecoeur (Broken Heart) in January of 1680.   Here Father Hennepin was commissioned to explore the upper Mississippi and, if possible, to reach the source of the Father of Waters. With two companions he sailed to the mouth of the Illinois River, entered the Mississippi, and proceeded northward towards its headwaters.  After having passed the mouth of the Wisconsin River, the whole party was taken prisoner by the Sioux.   The Indians and their captives continued their trip northward on the river to a little inlet some five miles below St. Anthony Falls.    This stopping place was very likely somewhere on the present site of St. Paul. From St. Paul Hennepin was taken by his  captors upon an Indian trail to a village on Lake Mille Lao.   After a short time the Indians, going upon their fall hunt, left their prisoners in the village. One of the Frenchmen stayed voluntarily with the Sioux; Father Hennepin, however, and his other companion obtained a boat and went down the Mississippi River until they heard the tremendous roar of a great waterfall. Stopping their boat, they proceeded on land and beheld the largest waterfall in the whole course of the mighty Mississippi. Father Hennepin named this beautiful fall "The Falls of St. Anthony" in honor of St. Anthony of Padua. According to
the records kept by the bold explorer, the famous falls were discovered in 1080 on or about October 1.

Jonathan Carver and Lieutenant Pike, on account of their still closer connection with the city, will be the subjects of special chapters following.

What Indians occupied the former site of St. Paul?
Tell about Hennepin's discoveries and experiences.
Where has his name been preserved as a memorial?

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