KANSAS COLLECTION BOOKS

William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas


EARLY EXPLORATIONS AND
EXPEDITIONS, Part 3

[TOC] [part 4] [part 2] [Cutler's History]

DU TISSENET, THE FIRST FRENCH EXPLORER (1719).

About the close of the year 1714, M. Du Tissenet [11], a young Canadian, arrived at the post of Mobile to enter the service of M. Crozat. He brought with him specimens of lead from the mines in the neighborhood of Kaskaskia, which had been given to him by his countrymen who resided at that place. These specimens he tool to M. De la Motte, and on being assayed they were found to contain some silver. He afterward took charge of a grant of land, where he remained until M. Crozat was succeeded by Law, and M. De Boisbriant was appointed Governor of the Illinois district of Louisiana. In October, 1718, M. De Boisbriant set out for his post, and Du Tissenet was ordered to join him at the Illinois during the year. The following year, by order of Bienville, Governor of Louisiana, he made an expedition to the west of the Mississippi, probably crossing Kansas from about the locality of Linn county, northwest to the forks of the Kansas and thence west to the headwaters of the Smokey Hill. On his return to the Illinois District, in a letter to M. De Bien- ville, dated "CaskasKias, 22d of November" (1719), he gives an account of the expedition. He visited the Osage Indians at their village near the Osage river, at eighty leagues above its mouth and describes them as stout, well made, and great warriors, and also that lead can be found in their country. Forty leagues west of the Osages, he came to two Pawnee villages of about 130 cabins each, and fifteen days west from them he reached the Padoucas, whom he described as a brave and warlike nation. In the country of the Padoucas, on September 27, 1719, he erected a cross transcribed with the arms of the king, thus claiming the region for France. M. Du Tissenet reports parts of the country he passed through as beautiful and well timbered, and mentions the prairies abounding with buffaloes, and the masses of salt that he found.

[11] The name of this early explorer is spelled by good authorities -- Hale and others who have followed him -- Dutisne, a legitimate contraction of the old patronimic. In one "History of Kansas", he is spoken of as Duquesne. There is an evident mistake. In earlier letters and documents, as published in French Translations, "Historical Collections of Louisiana and Florida", the name is invariably written as Du Tissenet.

The expedition was undoubtedly one for the purpose of locating mines, as the mining fever was then at its height, and the Osages, with whom the French were on the most friendly terms, might readily have given necessary directions as to the advantageous route to pursue. The search, of course, was unsuccessful, as no mention of minerals in the region is made by any of the Louisiana writers. M. Du Tissenet was the first explorer who gave any definite information in regard to the Indian tribes inhabiting the region of Kansas.

On the 24th of May, [12] 1721, M De Boisbriant, Governor of the Illinois District, wrote to Bienville that he had been informed that 300 Spaniards had left Sante Fe for the purpose of driving the French out of Louisiana, but were attached by the Osage and Panis Indians and driven back to Sante Fe.

[12] "Annals of Louisiana", M. Penicaut.

Like many reports, the story told the Governor was not entirely correct. The following is the version as given by Du Pratz, when the facts were better known:

"The Spaniards, as well as our other neighbors, being continually jealous of our superiority over them, formed a design of establishing themselves among the Missouris [13] and for that purpose, they courted the friendship of the Osages, whose assistance they thought would be of service to them in their enterprise, and who wee generally at enmity with the Missouris. A company of Spaniards, men, women and soldiers, accordingly set out from Santa Fe, having a Dominican for their chaplain, and with horses, and all other kinds of beasts being necessary, for it one of their prudent maximums to send off all these things together. By a fatal mistake, the Spaniards arrived first among the Missouris, whom they took for the Osages, and imprudently disclosed their hostile intentions, they were themselves surprised and cut off by those they had intended for destruction. The Missouris sometime afterward dressed themselves with the ornaments of the chapel, and carried them in a kind of triumphant procession to the French commandant among the Illinois.

[13] The Missouris were settled at the mouth of the Grand River, in the State of Missouri.

This military and colonizing "caravan" or expedition starting from Sante Fe, and striking the Missouris north of the Missouri River, near the entrance of the Grand, and leaving the Osage villages at the south, must have followed, through Kansas, very nearly the line of the Santa Fe railroad.

After the disastrous termination of the Spanish expedition above mentioned, the French, in order to protect their mining territory, and guard against any attempts of the same kind, built in 1722-23, a fort on the eastern extremity of an island in the Missouri just above the mouth of the Osage. The post, which was named Fort Orleans, was garrisoned and placed in the command of M. De Bourgmont, and became a medium of intercourse and trade with the surrounding tribes.

In 1724, M. De Bourgmont made an extensive journey across the entire Territory of Kansas, from the village of the Kanzas Indians on the Missouri, near the present city of Atchison, to the village of the Padoucas at the sources of Smoky Hill. [14] A full account of the journey is given in M. Le Page Du Pratz's "History of Louisiana", published in Paris in 1757. Du Pratz states that his narrative is "extracted and abridged from M. De Bourgmont's journal, an original account, signed by all the officers, and several other members of the company." As the journey was directly through the northern part of what is afterward the territory of Kansas, the account is copied entire and verbatim.

[14] On the map published in 1757, in connection with the history from which the account of the journey is taken, the "Country of the Padoucas" extends from the headwaters of the Republican, to the south of the Arkansas. The great village of the Padoucas is located at the head waters of the Smokey Hill.

"The Padoucas who lie west by northwest of the Missouris, happened at that time to be at war with the neighboring nations, the Canzas, Othouez, Aiaouez, Osages, Missouris and Panimahs, all in amity with the French. To conciliate a peace between all these nations and the Padoucas, M. De Bourgmont sent to engage them, as being our allies, to accompany him on a journey to the Padou- cas in order to bring about a general pacification, and by that means to facilitate the traffick or truck between us and them, and conclude an alliance with the Padoucas."

"For this purpose, M. DeBourgmont set out on the 3d of July, 1724, from Fort Orleans, which lies near the Missouris, a nation dwelling on the banks of the river with that name, in order to join that people, and then to proceed to the Canzas, where the general rendezvous of the several nations was appointed."

"M. De Bourgmont was accompanied by a hundred Missouris, commanded by their Grand Chief, and eight other Chiefs of war, and by sixty four Osages, commanded by four Chiefs of war, besides a few Frenchmen. On the 6th, he joined the Grand Chief, six other Chiefs of war, and several Warriors of the Canzas; who presented him with the Pipe of Peace, and performed the honours customary on such occasions, to the Missouri and Osages."

"On the 7th, they passes thro' extensive meadows and woods, and arrived at the banks of the River Missouri, over against the village of the Canzas."

"On the 8th, the French crossed the Missouri in a pettyauger, the Indians on floats of cane and the horses were swam over. They landed within gunshot of the Canzas, who flocked to receive them with the pipe; their Grand Chief, in the name of the nation, assuring M. De Bourgmont that all their Warriors would accompany him in his journey to the Padoucas, with protestations of friendship and fidelity, confirmed by smoking the Pipe. The same assurances were made him by the other Chiefs, who entertained him in their huts and rubbed him over and his companions."

"On the 9th, M. de Bourgmont was dispatched five Missouris to acquaint the Othouez with his arrival at Canza. They returned on the 10th and brought word that the Othouez promised to hunt for him and his Warriors and to cause provisions to be dried for the journey; that their Chief would set out directly, in order to wait on M. de Bourgmont and carry him the word of the whole nation.

"The Canzas continued to regale the French; brought them great quantities of grapes, of which the French made a good wine.

"On the 24th of July, at six in the morning, this little army set out, consisting of 300 Warriors, including the Chiefs of the Canzas, about 300 woman, about 500 young people, and at least 300 dogs. The women carried considerable loads, to the astonishment of the French, unaccustomed to such a sight. The young women were also well loaded for their years, and the dogs were made to trail a part of the baggage, and that in the following manner: The back of the dog was covered with a skin, with its pile on; then the dog was girthed around and his breast leather put on, taking two poles, of the thickness of one's arm and twelve feet long, they fastened their two ends half a foot asunder, laying on the dog's saddle the thong that fastened the two poles, and to the poles they also fastened, behind the dog, a ring or hoop lengthwise, on which they laid the load.

"On the 28th and 29th, the army crossed several brooks and small rivers, passed through several meadows and thickets, meeting everywhere on their way a great deal of game.

"On the 30th, M. de Bourgmont, finding himself very ill, was obliged to have a litter made, in order to be carried back to Fort Orleans till he should recover. Before he departed, he gave orders about two Padouca slaves, whom he ransomed and was to send before him to that nation, in order to ingratiate himself by this act of generosity. These he caused to be sent by one Gaillard, who was to tell their nation that M. de Bourgmont, being fallen ill on his intended journey to their country, and was obliged to return home; but that as soon as he got well again, he would resume his journey to their country, in order to procure a general peace between them and the other nations.

"On the evening of the same day, arrived at the camp of the Grand Chief of the Othouez, who acquainted M. de Bourgmont that a great part of his Warriors waited for him on the road to the Padoucas, and that he came to receive his orders, but was sorry to find him ill.

"At length, on the 4th of August, M. de Bourgmont set out from the Canzas in a pettyauger, and arrived, the 5th, at Fort Orleans.

"On the 6th day of September, M. de Bourgmont, who was still at Fort Orleans, was informed of the arrival of the two Padouca slaves, on the 25th of August, at their own nations, and that the meeting on the way a body of Padouca hunters, a day's journey away from their village, the Padouca slaves made the signal of their nation, by throwing their mantles thrice over their heads; that they spoke much in commendation of the generosity of M. de Bourgmont, who had ransomed them; told all that he had done in order to a general pacification; in fine extolled the French to such a degree that their discourse, held in the presence of their Grand Chief and the whole nation, diffused a universal joy; That Gaillard told them the flag they saw was the symbol of peace and the word of the Sovereign of the French; that in a little time the several nations would come to be like brethren and have but one heart.

"The grand Chief of the Padoucas was so well assured that the war was now at an end that he dispatched twenty Padoucas, with Gaillard, to the Canzas, by whom they were extremely well received. The Padoucas, on their return home, related their good reception among the Canzas, and as plain and real proof of the pacification mediated by the French, brought with them fifty of the Canzas and three of their women, who, in their return were received by the Padoucas with all possible marks of friendship.

"Tho' M. de Bourgmont was but just recovering of his illness, he, however, prepared for his departure, and on the 20th of September actually set out from Fort Orleans by water, and arrived at the canzas on the 27th.

"Gaillard arrived on the 2d of October, at the camp of the Canzas, with three Chiefs of war and three Warriors of the Padoucas, who were received by M. de Bourgmont, with flag displayed and other testimonies of civility, and had presents made for them of several goods proper for their use.

"On the 4th of October, arrived at the Canzas, the Grand Chief and seven other Chiefs of war of the Othouez, and the next day, very early, six chiefs of war of the Aiaouez.

"M. de Bourgmont assembled all the Chiefs present, and, sitting them around a large fire made before his tent, rose up, and addressing himself to them, said: `He was come to declare to them, in the name of his Sovereign and the Grand French Chief in the country, that it was the will of his Sovereign they should all live in peace for the future, like brethren and friends, if they expected to enjoy his love and protection.' `and since' says he `your are all assembled this day, it is good you conclude a peace, and all smoke in the same pipe.

"The Chiefs of these different nations rose up to a man, and said with one consent they were well satisfied to comply with the request, and instantly gave each other their Pipes of Peace.

"After an entertainment prepared for them, the Padoucas sung the songs and danced the Dances of Peace -- a kind of pantomimes representing the innocent pleasures of peace.

"On the 6th of October, M. de Bourgmont set out for the Canzas with all the baggage, and the flag displayed at the head of the French and such Indians as he had pitched on to accompany him -- in all forty persons: The goods intended for presents were loaded on horses. As they set out late, they traveled but five leagues, in which the crossed a small river and two brooks in a fine country with little wood.

"The same day, Gaillard, Quenel and two Padoucas were dispatched to acquaint their nation with the March of the French. That day they traveled ten leagues, crossed one river and two brooks.

"On the 10th, they made eight leagues, crossed two small rivers and three brooks. To their right and left they had several small hills on which one could observe pieces of rock, even with the ground. Along the rivers there is found a slate, and in the meadows a reddish marble, standing out of the earth one, two, and three feet -- some pieces of it upwards of six feet in diameter.

"On the 11th, they passed over several brooks and a small river, and then the river of the canzas, which had only three feet of water. Farther on they found several brooks issuing from the little hills. The river of the Canzas runs directly from west to east, and falls into the Missouri. It is very great in floods, because, according to the report of the Padoucas, it comes from a great way off. The woods which border this river afford a retreat to numbers of buffaloes and other game. On the left were seen great eminences with hanging rocks.

"On the 12th of October, the journey, as the preceding day, was extremely diversified by the variety of the objects. They crossed eight brooks and beautiful meadows covered with herds of elks and buffaloes. To the right the view was unbounded, but to the left small hills were seen at a distance, which from time to time presented the appearance of ancient castles.

"The 13th, on their march they saw the meadows covered almost entirely with buffaloes, elks and deer, so that one could scarce distinguish the different herds, so numerous and intermixed they were. The same day they passed thro' a wood almost two leagues long, and a pretty rough ascent, a thing which seemed extraordinary, as to then they only met with little groves, the largest of which scarce contained a hundred trees, but straight as a cane -- groves too small to afford a retreat to a quarter of the buffaloes and elks seen there.

"The 14th, the march was retarded by the ascents and descents, from which many springs of an extreme pure water, forming several brooks, whose water united make little rivers that fall into the river of the Canzas. Doubtless it is this multitude of brooks which traverse these meadows, extending a great way out of sight, that invite these numerous herds of buffaloes.

"The 15th they crossed several brooks and two little rivers. It is chiefly on the banks of those rivers that we find those enchanting little groves, adorned with grass underneath, and so clear of underwood that we may there hunt down the stag with ease.

"The 16th they continued to pass a similar landscape, the beauties of which were never cloying. Besides the game, these groves afforded also a retreat to flocks of wild turkeys.

"The 17th, they made very little way, because they wanted to get into the right road, from which they had strayed the two preceding days. They at length recovered it, and, at a small distance from their camp, saw an encampment of the Padoucas, which appeared to have been quitted only about eight days before. This yielded them so much the more pleasure, as it showed the nearness of that nation, which made them encamp after traveling only six leagues, in order to make signals from that place, by setting fire to the parts of the meadows which the general fire had spared. In a little while the signal was answered in the same manner, and confirmed by the arrival of the two Frenchmen who had orders given them to make the signals.

"On the 18th, they met a little river of brackish water, on the banks of which they found another encampment of the Padoucas, which appeared to be abandoned but four days before. At half a league farther on, a great smoke was seen to the west, at no great distance off, which was answered by setting fire to the parts of the meadows untouched by the general fire.

"About half an hour after, the padoucas were observed coming at full gallop with the flag which Gaillard had left with them on his first journey to their country. M. de Bourgmont instantly ordered the French under arms, and, at the head of his people, thrice saluted these people with his flag, which they also returned thrice by raising their mantles as many times over their heads.

"After the first ceremony, M. de Bourgmont made them all sit down and smoke in the Pipe of Peace. This action, being the seal of the peace, diffused a general joy, accompanied with loud acclamations.

"The Padoucas, after mounting the French and the Indians who accompanied them, set out on their horses for their camp, and after a journey of three leagues, arrived at their encampment, but left a distance of a gun shot between the two camps.

"The day after their arrival at the Padoucas, M. de Bourgmont caused the goods allotted for this nation to be unpacked, and the different species parceled out, which he made them all presents of.

"After which, M. de Bourgmont sent for the Grand Chief and other Chiefs of the Padoucas, who came to the camp to the number of 2000, and placing himself between them and the goods, thus parceled and laid out to view, he told them he was sent by his Sovereign to carry them the word of Peace, this flag and these goods, and to exhort them to live as brethren with their neighbors, the Panimhas, Aiaouez, Othouez, Canzas, Missouris, Osages and Illinois, and to traffick and truck freely together, and with the French. He, at the same time, gave the flag to the Grand Chief of the Padoucas, who received it with demonstrations of respect, and told him, `I accept this flag which you present to me on the part of your Sovereign. We rejoice at our having peace with all the nations you mentioned, and promise, in the name of our nation, never to make war on any of your allies; but receive them when they come among us, as our brethren; as we shall in like manner the French, and conduct with them when they want to go to the Spaniards, who are but twelve days' journey form our village, and who truck with us in horses, of which they have such numbers they know not what to do with them; also in bad hatchets of a soft iron, and some knives, whose points they break off, lest we should use them one day against themselves. You may command all my Warriors. I can furnish with upwards of two thousand. In my own and in the name of the whole nation, I entreat you would send some Frenchmen to trade with us. We can supply them with horses, which we truck with the Spaniards for buffalo mantles, and with great quantities of furs.'

"These people are far from being savage, nor would it be a difficult matter to civilize them -- a plain proof that they had long intercourse with the Spaniards. The few days the French stayed among them they were become very familiar, and would fain have M. de Bourgmont leave some Frenchmen among them, especially they of the village at which the peace was concluded with the other nations. This village consisted of an hundred and forty huts, and contained about eight hundred warriors, fifteen hundred women and at least two thousand children, some Padoucas having four wives.

"On the 22d of October, M. de Bourgmont set out from the Padouca, and travelled only five leagues that day. The 23d and the three following days, he travelled in all forty leagues; the 27th, six leagues, the 28th, eight leagues; the 29th, six leagues, and on the 30th as many. The 31st, he travelled only four leagues and that day arrived within a half a mile of the Canzas. From the Padoucas to the Canzas, proceeding always east, we may now very safely reckon sixty-five leagues and a half. The river of Canzas is parallel to this route.

"On the 1st of November, they all arrived on the banks of the Missouri. M. de Bourgmont embarked the 2d on a canoe of skins, and at length, on the 5th day of November, arrived at Fort Orleans."

In 1725, the year succeeded that in which M. de Bourgmont made his expedition through Kansas, he visited New Orleans, and during his absence Fort Orleans was destroyed and the entire garrison was massacred. The Indians told no tales and the particulars of the bloody deed were never known. It put an end, however, to any further effort to extend French exploration or trade to the West, and the journey of Bourgmont was probably the last made by white men through Upper Louisiana while the country remained in the possession of France. Thirty years after his visit, an old French writer says the rivers which fall into the Missouri, were known only by Indian names, the best known being the Osage, and the longest known being the Kanzas, which he remarks, runs through a "very fine country." From that time until the country passed into the possession of the United States, Kansas, and the country lying west of it was virtually an unknown and unexplored region, visited only at rare intervals by white men, and occupied by the savage tribes who warred upon each other, and upon the countless herds of buffalo that roamed its plains. At the close of the seventeenth century, Kansas, after having been claimed by two powerful governments, was almost as little known as in the days of Coronado and Du Tissenet.

WESTERN FUR TRADE AND TRADERS.

In 176-, Pierre Laclede Siquest (called Laclede), with August and Pierre Choteau, emigrated from France and settled in the Mississippi Valley, having a charter from the French Government giving them the exclusive right to trade with the Indians of Louisiana as far north as St. Peter's river. In 1799, a post was established near St. Joseph's and in 1800 another at Randolph Bluffs, three miles below the mouth of the Kaw, the whole Choteau family being fur traders when Louisiana was ceded to the American Government in 1803. Before that time, the trade with Indians was carried on by a system of monopoly; any person desiring to engage in the business obtaining of the Governor the exclusive privilege of trading with a particular tribe, or upon a certain river. The only permanent establishment founded on the waters of the Missouri, under this system, was that of Pierre Chateau, who enjoyed a monopoly of the trade of the Osage nation for nearly twenty years, his fort or trading house being on the river below the great Osage villages. Manuel de Lisa was his successor, obtaining the privilege only a short time before the territory passed from the hands of Spain. Other enterprising individuals traded in a small way with different tribes; but as no forts were established by the Spanish Government, and no companies for mutual cooperation and protection were sanctioned, the business was to hazardous to encourage many adventurers. After the change of government the establishment of the United States trading posts, and the abolishment of the monopoly system, the trade with the Western Indians rapidly increased. "The Missouri Fur Company" was organized in 1808, with Manuel de Lisa at its head, and pierre and August Choteau and nine other members. Expeditions were sent out, and posts founded among the Indians of Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and some in Arkansas. The company was unfortunate; their trading posts were abandoned, and it was dissolved in 1812, the members establishing independent houses to prosecute the trade, and also to furnish outfits for hunters and trappers. The most advanced United States trading post on the Missouri River and the western limit of white settlement in 1811, was Fort Osage, thirty-four miles below the mouth of the Kansas. In 1813, the American Fur Company was formed and the Choteaus, formerly connected with the Missouri Trading Company, and also Pierre, Jr., and his brother Francis became members. This company occupied the posts of the Missouri Trading Company, of which it was an outgrowth, and made great efforts to monopolize the trade in the Southwest by rooting out independent traders. Francis Choteau was sent to Kansas, and was employed for years in this work. The post known as the "Four Houses", so called from being built on four sides of an open square, was established on the north bank of the Kaw, twenty miles above its mouth, and in 1821 a general agency for furnishing supplies was established at the mouth of the river, from which men were sent to the Neosho and Osage. In 1825, Francis was joined by Cyprian, his brother, and a house was built about opposite the present site of Muncie, on the south side of the Kaw, and in 1830 another trading post was established by Frederick on Mission, The America's Chiefs' Creed, in what is now Shawnee County. A few years later, posts were established through country from the Platte to the Arkansas.

EARLY AMERICAN EXPLORERS (1804 - 1807)

Louisiana remained part of the Dominion of France until November 8, 1762, at which time it passed into the possession of Spain. October 1, 1800, Spain agreed to retrocede the territory to France, which agreement was consummated by the treaty of Madrid, March 21, 1801. April 30, 1808, it became a part of the domain of the United States, by purchase from the Republic of France.

Soon after the acquisition of the Territory of Louisiana by the Untied States, expeditions were sent out by the government to explore the region west of the Mississippi, and through the Missouri Valley. Lewis and Clark, in 1804-5-6, traversed the region to the Pacific and returned. Their report gave the first reliable information as to the topography, climate and general features of the country. Lieut. Zebulon M. Pike also set out from ST. Louis in 1806, explored the southern part of Kansas and thence to Colorado west to the Peak, which bears his name.

On his return, he so far lost his bearings as to encamp on the Rio Grande, believing it to be the Red River. Here he built a stockade and established quarters, awaiting arrival of members of his party who had been disabled on the way, and whom he had left behind till they should be able to travel. His encampment was discovered by Spanish soldiers from Santa Fe', then to Chihuahua, some six hundred miles farther beyond, before they were permitted to return to the United States. The mistake, whereby Pike's party was discovered a trespassers on the Spanish possessions, resulted in obtaining much valuable information regarding the Spanish colonies, and awakened a interest that resulted in after years in the establishment of the overland trade with Santa Fe'. His explorations of the Kansas region, before entering New Mexico, embraced a larger range than any before made. The importance of his discoveries at the time cannot be over estimated, as from the publishing of his journal dates the inception of the commercial intercourse with New Mexico, and the first reliable knowledge given the American public of Southern Kansas and Western Colorado.

[TOC] [part 4] [part 2] [Cutler's History]