Charles Claude Du Tisne

With the vicissitudes of Old Louisiana it is not our province to deal in detail at this time. It was the intention of La Salle to remove it from the influence of Canada and all the reactionary tendencies of the Jesuits. He designed to come into it by the way of the sea abandoning utterly the route through Canada. That his plans miscarried through no fault of his own did not prove them unsound. They were largely followed after his day, in the settlement and development of Louisiana.

Some of the leading events in the occupancy of Louisiana by the French must be set down here. Kaskaskia was settled about the year 1700, and when it was fortified by the erection of Fort Chartres in 1718, it was made the capital of Upper Louisiana. Bienville, then Governor of Louisiana, founded New Orleans in the same year. And another event of 1718 cast an ominous shadow more than a century before it. For in that year Francis Renault bought, in San Domingo, five hundred negro slaves. These he carried to the Illinois country, and many of them were sent to work in the lead mines west of St. Genevieve—in what is now Missouri—the beginning of negro slavery in the portion of Louisiana west of the Mississippi.

Up to 1721, the French settlements in Louisiana were scattered and without cohesion. From that time we may say that they became so numerous and in such close communication that they constituted a country—made up the beginnings of a State—represented all sections and became the political foundation of Louisiana. Explorations to the west of the Mississippi were undertaken by the authorities. These explorations followed no doubt, as in the English and Spanish occupancy of portions of America, individual expeditions of which accounts and memories are lost. The first exploration by the French into that country which became Kansas, of which any record had been preserved, was in 1719, by Charles Claude Du Tisne, a French Canadian. In the previous year he had been sent by Governor Bienville up the Missouri to visit some of the upper tribes, but had been compelled to return from about the mouth of the Osage because of the hostility of the Missouris. On this second attempt to penetrate the country, he went by another route, passing up a stream which empties into the Mississippi just below St. Genevieve, known then as the Saline. Leaving this stream far up at the crossing of an old Indian trail, he went west and northwest to the Osage Trail, in what is now Morgan County, Missouri. To reach that point he crossed the country now included in Washington, Crawford, Phelps, Pulaski and Miller counties in Missouri. He followed the Osage Trail up the Osage River, coming into Kansas below where Trading Post was afterwards established. He visited the Osage villages, the principal of which he found situated upon a hill. This was below the present Kansas-Missouri state line, and it contained more than a hundred lodges and some two hundred warriors. There and on the river below he had found pieces of lead ore. From the Osage towns he passed west over the prairies to the country of the Pawnees, finding a village of that tribe containing one hundred and thirty lodges. These Indians were in possession of horses, which they valued highly and guarded closely. It does not appear that he visited the Paducahs though he must have gathered what information he could about them, reporting that they lived “fifteen day’s journey” from the Pawnees, but he does not indicate the direction.

The route of Du Tisne in Kansas can not be definitely fixed now. He found rock salt near the Pawnee towns, which is evidence that he visited the Grand Saline, on the Lower Neosho. In the country of the Pawnees, on the 27th of September, 1719, he set up a post bearing the arms of France, and took formal possession of the country for the French king. In his report it is stated that the Osages spent much time on the prairies hunting the buffalo.

Du Tisne found the Pawnees near where Vinita, Oklahoma, was afterwards founded. Below Vinita, on the east side of the Neosho, are the remarkable salt springs above mentioned as the Grand Saline. The presence there on the Neosho of Pawnee towns in 1719 would still further confirm the location of Quivira in the country whose waters drain into the Arkansas River from the north.1


1. See Vol. IX, Kansas Historical Collections, pp. 252, et seq.

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