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1949.] SAINTE MARIE TO BE ABANDONED.
on the north of Lake Erie. The Hurons, as a nation, ceased to exist.1
Hitherto Sainte Marie had been covered by large fortified towns which lay between it and the Iroquois; but these were all destroyed, — some by the enemy and some by their own people, — and the Jesuits were left alone to bear the brunt of the next attack. There was, moreover, no reason for their remaining. Sainte Marie had been built as a basis for the missions; but its occupation was gone: the flock had fled from the shepherds, and its existence had no longer an object. If the priests stayed to be butchered, they would perish, not as martyrs, but as fools. The necessity was as clear as it was bitter. All their toil must come to nought. Sainte Marie must be abandoned. They confess the pang which the resolution cost them; but, pursues the Father Superior, “since the birth of Christianity, the Faith has nowhere been planted except in the midst of sufferings and crosses. Thus this desolation consoles us; and in the midst of persecution, in the extremity of the evils which assail us and the greater evils which threaten us, we are all filled with joy: for our hearts tell us that God has never had a more tender love for us than
i Chaumonot, who was at Ossossané at the time of the Iroquois invasion, gives a vivid picture of the panic and lamentation which followed the news of the destruction of the Huron warriors at St. Louis, and of the flight of the inhabitants to the country of the Tobacco Nation. Vie, 62.
2 Ragueneau, Relation des Hurons, 1649, 26.
Several of the priests set out to follow and console the scattered bands of fugitive Hurons. One embarked in a canoe, and coasted the dreary shores of Lake Huron northward, among the wild labyrinth of rocks and islets, whither his scared flock had fled for refuge; another betook himself to the forest with a band of half-famished proselytes, and shared their miserable rovings through the thickets and among the mountains. Those who remained took counsel together at Sainte Marie. Whither should they go, and where should be the new seat of the mission? They made choice of the Grand Manitoulin Island, — called by them Isle Sainte Marie, and, by the Hurons, Ekaentoton. It lay near the northern shores of Lake Huron, and by its position would give a ready access to numberless Algonquin tribes along the borders of all these inland seas. Moreover, it would bring the priests and their flock nearer to the French settlements, by the route of the Ottawa, whenever the Iroquois should cease to infest that river. The fishing, too, was good; and some of the priests, who knew the island well, made a favorable report of the soil. Thither, therefore, they had resolved to transplant the mission, when twelve Huron chiefs arrived, and asked for an interview with the Father Superior and his fellow-Jesuits. The conference lasted three hours. The deputies declared that many of the scattered Hurons had determined to reunite, and form a settlement on a neighboring island of the lake, called by the Jesuits Isle St. Joseph; that they
REMOVAL OF THE MISSION.
needed the aid of the Fathers; that without them they were helpless, but with them they could hold their ground and repel the attacks of the Iroquois. They urged their plea in language which Ragueneau describes as pathetic and eloquent; and, to confirm their words, they gave him ten large collars of wampum, saying that these were the voices of their wives and children. They gained their point. The Jesuits abandoned their former plan, and promised to join the Hurons on Isle St. Joseph.
They had built a boat, or small vessel, and in this they embarked such of their stores as it would hold. The greater part were placed on a large raft made for the purpose, like one of the rafts of timber which every summer float down the St. Lawrence and the Ottawa. Here was their stock of corn, — in part the produce of their own fields, and in part bought from the Hurons in former years of plenty, -pic. tures, vestments, sacred vessels and images, weapons, ammunition, tools, goods for barter with the Indians, cattle, swine, and poultry.' Sainte Marie was stripped of everything that could be moved. Then, lest it should harbor the Iroquois, they set it on fire, and saw consumed in an hour the results of nine or ten years of toil. It was near sunset, on the fourteenth of June. The houseless band descended to
1 Some of these were killed for food after reaching the island. In March following, they had ten fowls, a pair of swine, two bulls and two cows, kept for breeding. — Lettre de Ragueneau au Général de la Compagnie de Jésus, St. Joseph, 13 Mars, 1650.
4 Ragueneau, Relation des Hurons, 1650, 3. In the Relation of
the mouth of the Wye, went on board their raft, pushed it from the shore, and, with sweeps and oars, urged it on its way all night. The lake was calm and the weather fair; but it crept so slowly over the water that several days elapsed before they reached their destination, about twenty miles distant.
Near the entrance of Matchedash Bay lie the three islands now known as Faith, Hope, and Charity. Of these, Charity or Christian Island, called Ahoendoé by the Hurons and St. Joseph by the Jesuits, is by far the largest. It is six or eight miles wide; and when the Hurons sought refuge here, it was densely covered with the primeval forest. The priests landed with their men, — some forty soldiers, laborers, and
the preceding year he gives the fifteenth of May as the date, - evi. dently an error.
"Nous sortismes de ces terres de Promission qui estoient nostre Paradis, et où la mort nous eust esté mille fois plus douce que ne sera la vie en quelque lieu que nous puissions estre. Mais il faut suiure Dieu, et il faut aimer ses conduites, quelque opposées qu'elles paroissent à nos desirs, à nos plus saintes esperances et aux plus tendres amours de nostre cæur.” – Lettre de Ragueneau au P. Provincial à Paris, in Relation des Hurons, 1650, 1.
“Mais il fallut, à tous tant que nous estions, quitter cette ancienne demeure de saincte Marie; ces edifices, qui quoy que pauures, paroissoient des chefs-d'æuure de l'art aux yeux de nos pauures Sauuages; ces terres cultiuées, qui nous promettoient vne riche moisson. Il nous fallut abandonner ce lieu, que ie puis appeller nostre seconde Patrie et nos delices innocentes, puis qu'il auoit esté le berceau de ce Christianisme, qu'il estoit le temple de Dieu et la maison des seruiteurs de Iesus-Christ; et crainte que nos ennemis trop impies, ne profanassent ce lieu de saincteté et n'en prissent leur auantage, nous y mismes le feu ‘nous mesmes, et nous vismes brusler à nos yeux, en moins d'vne heure, nos trauaux de neuf et de dix ans.” Ragueneau, Relation des Hurons, 1650, 2, 3
ISLE ST. JOSEPH.
others, — and found about three hundred Huron families bivouacked in the woods. Here were wigwams and sheds of bark, and smoky kettles slung over fires, each on its tripod of poles; while around lay groups of famished wretches, with dark, haggard visages and uncombed hair, in every posture of despondency and woe. They had not been wholly idle; for they had made some rough clearings, and planted a little corn. The arrival of the Jesuits gave them new hope; and, weakened as they were with famine, they set themselves to the task of hewing and burning down the forest, making bark houses, and planting palisades. The priests, on their part, chose a favorable spot, and began to clear the ground and mark out the lines of a fort. Their men — the greater part serving without pay — labored with admirable spirit, and before winter had built a square, bastioned fort of solid masonry, with a deep ditch, and walls about twelve feet high. Within were a small chapel, houses for lodging, and a well, which, with the ruins of the walls, may still be seen on the southeastern shore of the island, a hundred feet from the water.1 Detached redoubts were also built near at hand, where French musketeers could aid in
1 The measurement between the angles of the two southern bastions is 123 feet, and that of the curtain wall connecting these bastions is 78 feet. Some curious relics have been found in the fort, - among others, a steel mill for making wafers for the Host. It was found in 1848, in a remarkable state of preservation, and is now in an English museum, having been bought on the spot by an amateur. As at Sainte Marie on the Wye, the remains are in per. fect conformity with the narratives and letters of the priests.