November 4, 2000
Father Frederic Baraga was far from the only French Jesuit missionary to leave his imprint on the western Great Lakes. Heading south along the mainland coast of Green Bay, we pass Oconto, Wisconsin. Here, where once stood the mission of St. Francis Xavier, might be a good place to consider it's founder, Father Claude Allouez. Born in St. Didier, Old France, in 1622, Allouez had accepted the Jesuit robes, and set his eyes toward New France (later called Canada). Arriving at the St. Lawrence in the early 1660s, he didn't have long to wait for an assignment. When the aging Jesuit Father Jacques Menard vanished while on a journey in northern Wisconsin, Allouez was assigned to replace him and sent to Lake Superior, where he established himself in 1665 at Chequamegon. (He passed through the straits at the Sault, naming them after Saint Mary. He'd be here again in 1671, when Lusson claimed the region for Louis XIV.
Father Allouez and the Upper Peninsula were not a good match. Sounding like a precursor of Henry Higgins, he described the local Kickapoo and Dakota tribes as listening very nicely, then going out and doing precisely what they want. They didn't trust him either. With one of his assignments being to find out what he could about rumors of copper deposits in the region, he found it frustrating when the natives would not reveal the source of their impressive samples. He traveled around Lake Superior, mapping its shores 141 years before Henry Bayfield came along, and becoming acquainted with other tribes he found more amenable to his teachings. Especially those originally from the Green Bay area of Lake Michigan, such as the Ottawa and Ojibwa. In the late 1670s he got himself reassigned to the bay area and began ministering to a new flock, tribes who had returned to the region after their eastern enemy the Iroquois had been pacified by Montreal. Leaving the tribes on the Upper Peninsula to his replacement, Father Jacques Marquette, he settled in, somewhat, at St. Francis Xavier, often making journeys to the south and west, into the Illinois country. Here he would listen to tales of a great south-flowing river to the west, becoming the first European to learn of the Mississippi. A few years later La Salle would make a one-way trip down that same river.
On one of Allouez' jaunts, in 1686, he erected a cabin at a place he named, not surprisingly, Ste. Marie de Lacs. A great university would sprout here one day - Notre Dame. The following year the remainder of La Salle's expedition passed back through the region with the news that their leader would soon follow. A cover-up. They'd murdered their testy commander and left his body near the Gulf of Mexico. La Salle hadn't gotten along with the Jesuits either, and there were rumors that Allouez had headed east to avoid any unpleasantness. The aging missionary hadn't gone very far. On August 27th, 1689, possible on the St, Joseph River in southwestern Michigan, he had passed away. Behind him he left over 100,000 pupils and more than 10,000 converts.
For Classical 91.5 and 90-point-3, this is David Minor
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URL OF THE WEEK
In William Least Heat Moon's Prairy Erth he starts thinking about the geographical grid lines laid out all across the United States.Thousands upon thousands of rectangular plots, stretching out to the Pacific Ocean, all perfectly squared up with each other. And houses are usually lined up with the plots. And people often square up their beds with the walls of their rectanglar homes. So millions of us go to bed at night, lying lined up parallel to each other. Well, we can blame surveyors for that. What else do they do?
If you're intrigued by people who squint through small tubes on top of tripods by the side of new overpasses, take a look at the archives of the monthly magazine Professinal Surveyor. Many of the online articles are of interest only to another surveyor (New Products editor evaluates Leica's latest robotic total station), but there is a huge helping of other fare that tell the story of how our world got to look the way it does. The complete contents of each magazine, from March 1996 up to today, are available at
In this years issues alone you can read the full text of stories about a seventeenth century shoemaker and tanner who also served as a local surveyor; map makers who worked in nineteenth century India; a surveying mission mounted in 1999 to determine the height of the tallest mountain in Africa; Benjamin Banneker, first African-American Man of Science; the challenges of mapping Puerto Rico's Isla de Vieques in 1949; or an urgent question arising when a king's bloated remains could not be buried. You woudn't want to miss that one. Woud you?
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© 2000 David Minor / Eagles Byte