List Of Contents | Contents of The Jesuit Missions, by Thomas Guthrie Marquis
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followed, and finally put the enemy to rout and remained
in possession of the place.

Now followed an Indian battle of almost unparalleled
ferocity. Never did Huron warriors fight better than in
this conflict at the death-hour of their nation. Against
the Hurons within the palisades came the Iroquois in
force from St Ignace. All day long, in and about the
walls of St Louis, the battle raged; and when night fell
only twenty wounded and helpless Hurons remained to
continue the resistance. In the gathering darkness the
Iroquois rushed in and with tomahawk and knife dispatched
the remnant of the band.

But the Iroquois had no mind for further fighting, and
did not attack Ste Marie. They mustered their Huron
captives--old men, women, and children--tied them to
stakes in the cabins of St Ignace, and set fire to the
village. And, after being entertained to their satisfaction
by the cries of agony which arose from their victims in
the blazing cabins, they made their way southward through
the forests of Huronia and disappeared.

Panic reigned throughout Huronia. After burning fifteen
villages, lest they should serve as a shelter for the
Iroquois, the Hurons scattered far and wide. Some fled
to Ste Marie, some toiled through the snows of spring to
the villages of the Petuns, some fled to the Neutrals
and Eries, some to the Algonquin tribes of the north and
west, and some even sought adoption among the Iroquois.
Ste Marie stood alone, like a shepherd without sheep:
mission villages, chapels, residences, flocks--all were
gone. The work of over twenty years was destroyed. Sick
at heart, Ragueneau looked about him for a new situation,
a spot that might serve as a centre for his band of
devoted missionaries as they toiled among the wanderers
by lake and river and in the depths of the northern

He first thought of Isle Ste Marie (Manitoulin Island)
as the safest place for the headquarters of a new mission,
but finally decided to go to Isle St Joseph (Christian
Island), just off Huronia to the north. There, on the
bay that indents the south-east corner of the island, he
directed that land should be cleared for the building.
The work of evacuating Ste Marie began early in May, and
on the 15th of the month the buildings were set on fire.
The valuables of the mission were placed in a large boat
and on rafts; and, with heavy hearts, the fathers and
their helpers went aboard for the journey to their new
home twenty miles away.

The new Ste Marie which the Jesuits built on Isle St
Joseph was in the nature of a strong fort. Its walls were
of stone and cement, fourteen feet high and loopholed.
At each corner there was a protecting bastion, and the
entire structure was surrounded by a deep moat. It was
practically impregnable against Indian attack, for it
could not be undermined, set on fire, or taken by assault.
A handful of men could hold it against a host of Iroquois.

About the sheltering walls of Ste Marie the Indians
gathered, to the number of seven or eight thousand by
the autumn of 1649. Here the missionaries continued the
good work. The only outposts now were among the Algonquins
along the shore of Georgian Bay, and the Petun missions
of St Mathias, St Matthieu, and St Jean. But the Petuns
were presently to share the fate of the Hurons; and
Garnier and Chabanel, who were stationed at St Jean, were
to perish as had Daniel, Brebeuf, and Lalemant.

During the autumn Ragueneau learned that a large body of
Iroquois were working their way westward towards St Jean.
He sent runners to the threatened town, and ordered
Chabanel to return to Ste Marie and warned Garnier to be
on his guard. On the 5th of December Chabanel set out
for Ste Marie with some Petun Hurons, and Garnier was
left alone at St Jean. Two days later, while the warriors
were out searching for their elusive foes, a band of
Senecas and Mohawks swept upon the town, broke through
the defences, and proceeded to butcher the inhabitants.
Garnier fell with his flock. In the thick of the slaughter,
while baptizing and absolving the dying, he was smitten
down with three bullet wounds and his cassock torn from
his body. As he lay in agony the moans of a wounded Petun
near by drew his attention. Though spent with loss of
blood, though his brain reeled with the weakness of
approaching death, he dragged himself to his wounded red
brother, gave him absolution, and then fell to the ground
in a faint. On recovering from his swoon he saw another
dying convert near by and strove to reach his side, but
an Iroquois rushed upon him and ended his life with a

In a sense Chabanel was less fortunate than Garnier. On
the day following the massacre of St Jean he was hastening
along the well-beaten trail towards Ste Marie, when the
sound of Iroquois war-cries in the distance alarmed his
guides, and all deserted him save one. This one did worse,
for he slew the priest and cast his body into the
Nottawasaga river. This murderer, an apostate Huron,
afterwards confessed the crime, declaring that he had
committed it because nothing but misfortune had befallen
him ever since he and his family had embraced Christianity.

For some months after the death of Garnier and Chabanel
the Jesuits maintained the mission of St Mathias among
the Petuns in the Blue Hills. Here Father Adrien Greslon
laboured until January 1650, and Father Leonard Garreau
until the following spring. Garreau was then recalled,
leaving not a missionary on the mainland in the Huron or
the Petun country.

The French and Indians on Isle St Joseph, though safe
from attack, were really prisoners on the island. Mohawks
and Senecas remained in the forests near by, ready to
pounce on any who ventured to the mainland. When winter
bridged with ice the channel between the island and the
main shore, it was necessary for the soldiers of the
mission to stand incessantly on guard. And now another
enemy than the Iroquois stalked among the fugitives. The
fathers had abundant food for themselves and their
assistants; but the Hurons, in their hurried flight, had
made no provision for the winter. The famishing hordes
subsisted on acorns and roots, and even greedily devoured
the dead bodies of dogs and foxes. Disease joined forces
with famine, and by spring fully half the Hurons at Ste
Marie had perished. Some fishing and hunting parties left
the island in search of food, but few returned.

It soon appeared that for the Hurons to remain on the
island meant extinction. Two of the leading chiefs waited
on Father Ragueneau and begged him to move the remnant
of their people to Quebec, where under the sheltering
walls of the fortress they might keep together as a
people. It was a bitter draught for the Jesuits; but
there was no other course. They made ready for the
migration; and on the 10th of June (1650) the thirteen
priests and four lay brothers of the mission, with their
donnes, hired men, and soldiers, in all sixty French,
and about three hundred Hurons, entered canoes and headed
for the French River. On their way down the Ottawa they
met Father Bressani, who had gone to Quebec in the previous
autumn for supplies, and who now joined the retreating
party. And on the 28th of July, after a journey of fifty
days, all arrived safely at the capital of New France.

[Footnote: For a time the Hurons encamped in the vicinity
of the Hotel-Dieu. In the spring of 1651 they moved to
the island of Orleans. Five years later their settlement
was raided by Mohawks and seventy-one were killed or
taken prisoner. The island was abandoned and shelter
sought in Quebec under the guns of Fort St Louis, and
here they remained until 1668, when they removed to
Beauport. In the following year they were placed at
Notre-Dame-de-Foy, about four miles from Quebec. In 1673
a site affording more land was given them on the St
Charles river about nine miles from the fortress. Here
at Old Lorette a chapel was built for them and here they
remained for twenty-four years. In 1697 they moved to
New Lorette--Jeune Lorette--in the seigneury of St Michel,
and at this place, by the rapids of the St Charles, four
or five hundred of this once numerous tribe may still be

The war-lust of the Five Nations remained still unsatiated.
They continued to harass the Petuns, who finally fled in
terror, most of them to Mackinaw Island. Still in dread
of the Iroquois, they moved thence to the western end of
Lake Superior; but here they came into conflict with the
Sioux, and had to migrate once more. A band of them
finally moved to Detroit and Sandusky, where, under the
name of Wyandots, we find them figuring in history at a
later period. The Iroquois then found occasion for quarrels
with the Neutrals, the Eries, and the Andastes; and soon
practically all the Indian tribes from the shores of
Maine to the Mississippi and as far south as the Carolinas
were under tribute to the Five Nations. Only the Algonquin
tribes of Michigan and Wisconsin and the tribes of the
far north had not suffered from these bloodthirsty

The Huron mission was ended. For a quarter of a century
the Jesuits had struggled to build up a spiritual empire
among the heathen of North America, but, to all appearances,
they had struggled in vain. In all twenty-five fathers
had toiled in Huronia. Of these, as we have seen, four
had been murdered by the Iroquois and one by an apostate
Huron. Nor was this the whole story of martyrdom. Six
years after the dispersion Leonard Garreau was to die by
an Iroquois bullet while journeying up the Lake of Two
Mountains on his way to the Algonquin missions of the
west. Another of the fathers, Rene Menard, while following
a party of Algonquins to the wilds of Wisconsin, lost
his way in the forest and perished from exposure or
starvation; and Anne de Noue, Brebeuf's earliest comrade
in Huronia, in an effort to bring assistance to a party
of French soldiers storm-bound on Lake St Peter, was
frozen to death. But misfortune did not cool the zeal of
the Jesuits.  Into the depths of the forest they went
with their wandering flocks, and raised the Cross by lake
and stream as far west as the Mississippi and as far
north as Hudson Bay. Already they had found their way
into the Long Houses of the Iroquois.



While labouring among the Hurons the Jesuits had their
minds on the Iroquois. It was, they thought, within their
sphere of duty even to tame these human tigers. They well
knew that such an attempt would involve dangers vastly
greater than those encountered in Huronia; but the greater
the danger and suffering the greater the glory. And yet
for a time it seemed impossible to make a beginning of
missionary work among the Iroquois. As we have seen,
Champlain had made them the uncompromising enemies of
the French, and since then all Frenchmen stood in constant
peril of their lives from marauding bands in ambush near
every settlement and along the highways of travel. Thus
nearly twenty years passed after the arrival of the
Jesuits in Canada before an opening came for winning a
way to the hearts of these ruthless destroyers.

It came at last, fraught with tragedy. From 1636 to 1642
Father Isaac Jogues had been engaged in missionary work
in Huronia. He was a man of saintly character, delicate,
refined, scholarly; yet he had borne hardships among the
Petuns enough to break the spirit of any man. He had
toiled, too, among the Algonquin tribes, and at one time
had preached to a gathering of two thousand at Sault Ste
Marie. In 1642 he was chosen to bring much-needed supplies
to Huronia--a dangerous task, as in that year large bodies
of Iroquois were on the war-path. And in August he was
ascending Lake St Peter with thirty-six Hurons and three
Frenchmen in twelve canoes. His French companions were
a labourer and two donnes--Rene Goupil, who, having had
some hospital experience, was going to Ste Marie as a
surgeon, and Guillaume Couture, a man of devotion, energy,
and courage. The canoes bearing the party were threading
the clustered islands at the western end of Lake St Peter,
and had reached a spot where the thickly wooded shores
were almost hidden from view by tall reeds that swayed
in the summer wind, when suddenly out of the reeds darted
a number of Iroquois warriors in canoes. The surprise
was complete; three of the Hurons were killed on the
spot, and Jogues, Goupil, and Couture, and twenty-two
Hurons were taken prisoner. The raiders then plundered
the canoes and set out southward, up the Richelieu, with
their prisoners. At every stopping-place on the way Jogues
and the donnes were brutally tortured; finally, in the
Mohawk country they were dragged through the three chief
towns of the nation, held up to ridicule, beaten with
clubs, their fingers broken or lopped off, and their
bodies burned with red-hot coals. Couture had slain a
Mohawk warrior during the attack on Lake St Peter; but
his courageous bearing so impressed the savages that one
of them adopted him in place of a dead relative, and he
thus escaped death. Goupil, after several months among
the Mohawks, was brutally murdered. But Jogues's life
was providentially preserved, and during nearly a year,
a year of intense suffering, he went among his persecutors
glorying in the opportunity of preaching the Gospel under
these hard conditions.

At length a fishing and trading party of Mohawks took
him to the Dutch settlement at Fort Orange (Albany).
Already the Dutch authorities had tried in vain to gain
his release. They now took advantage of his presence
among them, generously braving the wrath of his tyrant
masters, and aided him to escape. He found shelter on a
Dutch vessel and finally succeeded in reaching France.
The story of his capture had arrived before him, and his
brothers in France welcomed him as a saint and martyr,
as one miraculously snatched from the jaws of death. But
he had no thought of remaining to enjoy the cloistered
quiet and peace of a college in France; back to the
hardships and dangers of North America his unconquerable
spirit demanded that he should go. According to the rules
of the Church he could not administer the sacraments with
his mutilated hands; but, having obtained a special
dispensation from the Pope, he once more fearlessly
crossed the ocean, in search of the crown of martyrdom.

The next missionary to reach the Iroquois country was
Father Joseph Bressani, an Italian priest who had been
attracted to the Canadian mission-field through reading
the Relations of the missionaries to Huronia. On April
27, 1644, with six Hurons and a French boy twelve years
old, he set out from Three Rivers. It was thought that
the Iroquois would not yet have reached the St Lawrence
at this early time of the year; but this was an error,
as the sequel proved. A party of twenty-seven warriors
in ambush surprised Bressani and his fellow-travellers,
slew several of the Hurons, and carried the rest with
Bressani and the French boy to the Mohawk towns. Bressani
they put to torture even more severe than that which
Jogues had endured; not sparing the young lad, who manfully

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