September 2, 1665: Jesuit Missionary Claude-Jean Allouez arrives at Lake Superior

On this day in 1665, the namesake of Superior, Wisconsin’s Allouez neighborhood arrived at Saulte Ste. Marie, where the St. Mary’s River meets Lake Superior. Missionary Claude-Jean Allouez and six of his countrymen were traveling in the company of “four hundred Indians of different tribes, who were returning to their country,” after trading at Three Rivers in Quebec. According to one biographer, “The Indians willingly took along his French lay companions, but [Allouez] they disliked.” On September 2 they arrived at Lake Superior, which Allouez himself had renamed Lac Tracy in honor of the governor of New France, Marquis Alexandre de Prouville de Tracy. That year he established a mission at Lake Superior’s Chequamegon Bay, near today’s Bayfield and Ashland and the Apostle Islands. Here is his description of the bay: “It is a beautiful bay, at the head of which is situated the large village of the Indians, who there cultivate fields of Indian corn and do not lead a nomadic life. There are at this place men bearing arms, who number about eight hundred; but these are gathered together from seven different tribes, and live in peaceable community.” He attempted to teach the local Ojibwe about Christianity until 1669, when he set off for Green Bay to found the St. Francis Xavier Mission. Father James Marquette replaced Allouez at the Chequamegon mission, which closed in 1671 after war broke out between the Ojibwe and Dakota.

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