Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable

Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable

Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable (1745(?) - August 28, 1818), popularly known as "The Father of Chicago", [Cortesi, Laurence. "Jean Du Sable: Father of Chicago", Chilton Book Company, 1972 (A biography of the black Haitian who was the first non-Indian to settle and establish a trading community on the site of present-day Chicago.] was the first known settler in the area which is now Chicago, Illinois. Du Sable was recognized by the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago as the Founder of Chicago on October 26, 1968. [ [http://www.usps.com/communications/community/_pdf/bhm06_poster.pdf United States Postage Service] ]

Biography

Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable first arrived on the western shores of Lake Michigan around 1779. Born in Saint-Marc, Saint-Domingue, present-day Haiti, he built the first permanent non-native settlement at the mouth of the river just east of the present Michigan Avenue Bridge on the north bank [ [http://www.dusableheritage.com/history.htm "History of Jean-Baptiste Pointe DuSable", DuSable Heritage Association, on line.] ] .

Of African and French descent, he may have been born as early as the 1730s and no later than 1745, to a slave named Suzanna and a French pirate mate named Pointe du Sable who served on the "Black Sea Gull".Patricia Leeds. "Du Sable's Pioneer Role is Recalled". "Chicago Tribune", July 15, 1976. p. N2.] Suzanna may have been killed in a Spanish raid on Haiti. Perhaps Jean Baptiste escaped by swimming out to his father's ship. After his father sent him to study at a Catholic school in France, du Sable and a friend, Jacques Clamorgan, traveled to Louisiana and then to Michigan, where he married a Potawatomi woman name Kittahawa (fleet-of-foot). To marry her, the twenty-five-year-old Jean Baptiste had to become a member of her tribe. He took an eagle as his tribal symbol. ["The Collected Works of Langston Hughes", Langston Hughes, University of Missouri Press, p. 217, 2001] The Potawatomi called him "Black Chief," and he became a high-ranking member of the tribe. They had a son and daughter, Jean and Susanne. Du Sable's granddaughter, Eulalia, was the first non-Indian born in Chicago.

Before it was anything else, Chicago was a trading center. As its first permanent resident, du Sable operated the first elaborate fur-trading post during the two decades before his departure in 1800. [ [http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2002/0211/0211anm5.cfm Duis, Perry. "Chicago in History", American Historical Association, November 2002] ] Du Sable built his first house in the 1770s on the land now known as Pioneer Court, thirty years before Fort Dearborn was established on the banks of the Chicago River. By the time he sold to John Kinzie's frontman, Jean La Lime, for 6,000 livres, ["Historic Paper Will Be Filed in City Today" Chicago Daily Tribune August 26, 1954. p.10.] his property included a house, two barns, horse-drawn mill, bakehouse, poultry house, dairy and a smokehouse.Keenan Heise. "Jean Baptiste Point du Sable" ["sic"] ). "Chicago Originals", Bonus Books, 1990. pp 3-4.] His home was a 22 by convert|40|ft|m|sing=on log cabin filled with fine furniture and paintings. In 1913, Milo M. Quaife, an historical librarian with the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, discovered the bill of sale from du Sable to Jean La Lime archived in Detroit, Michigan. This document outlined all of the property du Sable owned as well as many of his personal artifacts. [Quaife discusses du Sable's importance in "Documents: Property of Jean Baptiste Point Sable," "Mississippi Valley Historical Review" 15 (June 1928): pp. 89-92]

During the Revolutionary War, he was imprisoned briefly by the British at Detroit, Michigan, on suspicion of being a US spy. [Charles Balesi. "The Time of the French in the Heart of North America, 1673-1818." Alliance Française.] He also helped George Rogers Clark in his capture of Vincennes during the war. From the summer of 1780 until May of 1784, du Sable managed the Pinery, a huge tract of woodlands claimed by British Lt. Patrick Sinclair on the St. Clair River in eastern Michigan. Du Sable and his family lived at a cabin at the mouth of the Pine River in what is now the city of St. Clair. [Mitts, Dorothy Marie, "That Noble Country", Dorrance & Co., Philadelphia, pp. 44-46, 1968 (Mitts cites her source as "the old Day Book and Ledger" of the Pinery.)]

In 1800, du Sable left Chicago for Peoria, Illinois, where he lived for a decade. [ [http://www.historicpeoria.com/entry.php?eid=149 History of Peoria] ] Du Sable moved to St. Charles, Missouri in 1813, where his granddaughter lived. He died in 1818, the year Illinois became a state. He was buried in St. Charles, in an unmarked grave in St. Borromeo Cemetery. In 1968 the city erected a granite marker at du Sable's grave. The deed books in the office of the St. Charles County Recorder of Deeds do not support the assertions of some authors that du Sable sold land to Alexander McNair, who would become the first governor of Missouri. [ [http://www.uic.edu/orgs/asri/images/ASRIGAZZETT1.pdf "Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable, In St. Charles, Missouri 1800-1807"] , by Kris Zapalac Ph.D., "ASRI Historical Preservation", Spring 2005]

Legacy and honors

DuSable High School is a Bronzeville high school that opened in 1934. A few famous Du Sable attendees/graduates include: Nat King Cole, Dinah Washington, Harold Washington, and Redd Foxx. Today it is a building for three schools. Daniel Hale Williams Prep School of Medicine, Bronzeville Scholastic Institution, & Dusable Leadership Academy. Dr. Margaret Taylor-Burroughs, a prominent African-American artist and writer and co-founder with her husband of the Du Sable Museum of African-American History, taught at the school for twenty-three years.

The DuSable Museum of African American History, on Chicago's South Side, is named in his honor. Chicago commemorated du Sable's homestead in 1912 with a plaque on the corner of Kinzie and Pine Streets. Du Sable appears in a 1965 frieze created for the Illinois Centennial Building. [ [http://www.co.cook.il.us/PDFTransfers/ccbhm_dusable.pdf "Jean Baptiste Point DuSable: The first resident on the City on the Lake"] ]

Du Sable Harbor is located in the heart of downtown Chicago at the foot of Randolph Street.

DuSable Park is an urban park (3.24 acres) in Chicago currently awaiting redevelopment. It was originally announced in 1987 by then Mayor Harold Washington. The park is to be named after du Sable.

Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable homesite was designated as a National Historic Landmark on May 11, 1976. It is located at what is now 401 N. Michigan Avenue in the Near North Side of Chicago. Currently the 35-story Equitable Building is located on the site. [ [http://www.emporis.com/en/il/im/?id=152689 Equitable Building] ]

In recognition of du Sable's pioneering role, the US Postal Service issued a Black Heritage Series, 22-cent postage stamp, in honor of the entrepreneur and diplomat on February 20, 1987. [Scott catalog # 2249.]

References

ources

*Altman, Susan. "Extraordinary Black Americans - From Colonial to Contemporary Times", Chicago: Children's Press, 1989
*Bennett, Lerone. "Negro who founded Chicago. [Jean Baptiste Point de Saible.] " "Ebony Magazine". Chicago, December, 1963. vol. 19, no. 2, p. 170-178.
*Cortesi, Laurence. "Jean Du Sable: Father of Chicago". Philadelphia. Chilton Book Company, 1972.
*Doherty, Kieran. "Voyageurs, Lumberjacks, and Farmers: Pioneers of the Midwest" The Oliver Press, Inc., 2004
*Graham, Shirley. "Jean Baptiste Pointe de Sable, Founder of Chicago". New York, J. Messner, 1953
*Hughes, Langston. "The Collected Works of Langston Hughes", University of Missouri Press, p. 217, 2001
*Lindberg, Richard C. "Jean Baptiste Point DuSable." "American National Biography". New York: Oxford, 1999. vol. 7, p. 166-168.
*Marsh, Carole. "Jean Baptiste Pointe Du Sable: Father of Chicago," "Gallopade International", September 1998
*Meehan, Thomas A. "Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, the First Chicagoan." "Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society". Springfield, vol. 56, p. 439-453, 1963.
*Quaife, Milton Milo. "Chicago and the Old Northwest, 1673-1835", University of Illinois Press, 2001

External links

* [http://www.dusableheritage.com/history.htm "History of Jean-Baptiste Pointe DuSable", DuSable Heritage Association, on line.]
* [http://www.dusablemuseum.org/ DuSable Museum]
* [http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/gal/ichi05623-1.html Portrait by Chicago Historical Society]
* [http://www.chicagohs.org/ Chicago Historical Society]
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