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Bishop Brute” History of Vincennes ““ 1839: Part 6 of 7

From March 9 through June 22, 1839, Bishop Simon Brute wrote a seven part series for the Vincennes Western Sun. In 1967, Francis P. Clark, a microfilmer at the University of Notre Dame Archives, transcribed this series. We present it in the original seven parts:

Part 6:
An epidemic desolated the village of Mascoutensm. Father Mermet redoubled the efforts of his charity and zeal, exposing his life, among the sick, who died in great numbers, thus trying to give them the best evidence of his convictions. Still the jugglers kept up their delusions. They ordered a great sacrifice of some of their dearest possessions��their dogs. Forty of these poor animals, innocent as they were of the cause of the epidemic, to satisfy their suspicious manitoes were immolated, and carried on poles, in a solemn procession around the fort. Realize., if you can in mind, the wretched procession, on one side, led on by those fanatical jugglers, and the gaze of the soldiers and their officers, of the traders, the women, and indeed, the whole population of Vincennes, at that time, listening to the loud appeals of the Indians, such as Father Mermet records them.

Manitou of the French! don�t kill us all: softly there; don�t strike too hard�”pare us, else we all die: Then to the Father they would say�� 0 Manitou, truly thou hast life and death in thy bag; keep in death, and give out life. Thus did they now make him a very �manitou” against whom shortly before they had sent their arrows.

The good Father did his best for them, but in spite of all his efforts, half of the village fell victims of the epidemic. Now our doctors may wish to know what kind of epidemic stands thus first on our oldest medical record; and although we often find pretty good descriptions of epidemics, or diseases, in the letters of the early missionaries of Canada, and its dependencies, in this case Father Nermnet has left nothing to gratify the curiosity of the faculty.

Reading with attention the letter of Father Marest, written in 1712, at Kaskaskia, we find that Father Mermet had already been some years there with him. �Father Mermet, with whom I have the happiness to live, has been here for some years� so Father Marest writes.

And we find in another place, that Father Mermet had come from Quebec, to St. Louis of Peoria, 1708, supposing even, that he only passed through that place on his way to the post Ouabache, he could have been but a short time in this last place. Of these two friends, Father Marest died in Kaskaskia, in 1727, and Father Mermet in 1736. So far we have found neither the immediate successors oI� Father Mermet, in the mission of Vincennes, before Father Mecuren Couic, in 1748, nor any particular event, �till the death of M. de Vincennes. Should we find any, we will resume the subject.

Western Sun, Vincennes, April 27, 1839

Posted: September 10th, 2007 under Postings.


Categories: Postings.