Mention has already been made of the action of Boerne, the armorer, in training the mission cannon on the Sioux.
The story is, that in 1674 a band of Sioux warriors arrived at the mission for the purpose of smoking the pipe of peace with the tribes of the surrounding district.
While there, one of the local Indians killed a member of the delegation, and of course a battle ensued. Nine of the Sioux were killed in the melee and the restonly two in numberfled to the mission house for refuge.
Here they were again assailed and opened fire upon their beseigers.
A council was held. The Indians wished to burn the mission and the Sioux in it, but the Jesuits would not allow this, because of the valuable peltries stored in the garret. Boerne was finally prevailed upon to train the cannon on the place. the discharges from which quickly despatched the refugees, and so the deputation was annihilated.
Governor Frontenac was very indignant when he heard what had taken place, and at once reported the case to Colbert, the Colonial Minister of Louis Fourteenth, but no action seems to have been taken.
During the latter years of this period, LaSalle visited the district. His boat, the Griffon, the pride of the French and the wonder of the Indians, traversed Lakes Huron and Michigan, touching Mackinac among other places. and it is quite probable that the little craft, which was the first “large ” vessel on the Upper Lakes, pushed its way among those of the thirty thousand islands which dot the passage up the river to the Sault,
We know that he visited Sault Sainte Marie after Tonty’s visit had proved fruitless.
Some members of LaSalle’s party deserted him and were trading on their own account at Sault Sainte Marie. Their commander in 1679 dispatched Henry Tonty to arrest them and to seize their furs. The deserters, however, induced Louis le Bohesme or Boerne to secret the peltries in the misison house and Tonty had to retire and report his failure.
Two years afterward the commander himself made the journey and demanded of Father Balloquet the production of the furs. The Reverend Father informed LaSalle that there was a large number of furs in the mission loft and that if La Salle could prove them to be his he might remove them. LaSalle, always bitter of tongue, retorted that he feared he might be excommunicated if by mistake he took peltries that he could not distinguish from his own and so departed in wrath for Mackinac.
DuLuth also visited the mission between the years 1678 and 1683, and it was he who in the latter year caused Folle Avoine and his brother next of age to be shot.
The incident was as follows : During the Summer of that year two Frenchmen, Le Maire and Berthot, were surprised by three Ojibways (who were brothers) while on their way to Keweenaw and murdered.
Their bodies were thrown into the marsh and their goods hidden in various parts of the woods.
Duluth was told the name of one of the criminals and that he had gone to the Sault with fifteen families for fear of the Sioux. The explorer was too much the soldier to allow this to pass.
Since 1657 he had been under arms, first in the Lionnais Regiment, then as gendarme in the King’s Household, and savage license was not excused by him.*
The Frenchman immediately, followed with seven of his own nation and coming to within a league of the settlement, landed and struck through the bush to take Avoine by surprise. He was entirely successful. The murderer was arrested and a court instituted to try him. In the meantime Pere, another Frenchman, had started on the search for the prisoner’s companions in crime and seizing them, brought them back and placed them under guard in DuLuth’s house.
The trial was now proceeded with Folle Avoine, who did not know of the arrest of the others, accused them of the whole responsibility, his father also, he declared, was accessory to the crime.
The old man was brought in and was acquited by four of his sons. The father, finding by their words that they had convicted themselves, exclaimed, ” It is enough you have accused yourselves, the French are masters of your bodies.”
During the two days following, the convicts were held in the hope that the Indians would say what ought to be done, but no result was arrived at DuLuth then called the Frenchmen together, and after reciting all the evidence, received their unanimous opinion that the three brothers were guilty, but as only two Frenchmen had been killed it was decided that only two lives should be demanded, and Folle Avoine and his next oldest brother were ordered to prepare.
The Jesuit missionaries now baptized the doomed men, and an hour afterward DuLuth and forty-two other Frenchmen, in the sight of more than four hundred Savages, shot the murderers two hundred paces distant from the post.
Thus was the first regularly performed execution carried out in this place.
Lahontan was the last man to record his visit to Sault Sainte Marie before the fear of the Iroquois drove the Jesuits out.
In June 1688 he arrived at the village and found only a handful of Indian wigwams cowering beneath the stockade of the mission. All the shore of Lake Superior had been devastated, not a village, not a even a wigwam remained about the Rapids. Slowly but surely were the hostiles closing in upon those who stayed. Indeed Lahontan with his forty Ojibways had to fight his way through a party of Iroquois in the following month, July, and was able to overcome them merely through his superior intellect and tactics as a white man.
In spite of this hostility there were still some few who ventured thus far into the enemies’ country.
Among these were La Ronde Denys who with his son undertook to explore the copper mines on the shores of the Great Lakes.
Denys was at this time 6o years of age. He had served as a naval ensign, 1703, as captain ill Acadia, then as captain at Ile Royale in 1714, and as captain in Canada, 1723.*
In 1736 he and his son built a barque of forty tons above the St. Mary’s Rapids, having brought the rigging and materials from the East.
In that year only thirty men of all the Ojibway tribe were found at the Sault, Little was accomplished by the La Rondes,. for in 1740 the father’s health failed him and he was forced to retire with his son to Montreal, from whence he never returned. With this departure began the waning of French ascendency.
Six years afterward, owing to the growing influence of the British the Ojibways now spread all over the country began to exhibit an unfriendly spirit to their former masters
Two canoes filled with Frenchmen were attacked at La Cloche, a Frenchman was stabbed at Grosse Isle, horses and cattle were killed at Mackinac and the guard there was kept constantly under arms. Governor Galissoniere in a despatch of October, 1748, wrote to Count Maurepas in charge of the colonies of France : ” Voyageurs robbed and maltreated at Sault Sainte Marie and elsewhere on Lake Superior, in fact there appears to be no security anywhere.”
Such a state of affairs could not be long allowed to exist, and 1750 Repentigny, a Canadian gentleman, ” brave and intelligent and well fitted for service,” f was chosen to ascend the St. Mary River and to establish at the Rapids a French military fort.