After wintering in Chicago with Pierre Moreau, a wood-ranger, and the Illinois Indians, Father Marquette’s health improved. He spent Easter at Grand Village on the Illinois River, near Starved Rock, Illinois and celebrated Mass with his beloved Illinois Native Americans. Unfortunately, his immune system was seriously compromised by his illness, and he suffered a relapse.
Father Marquette decided to return home, and he and his two companions left Chicago and started their journey to St. Ignace. A Michigan Historic Marker indicates the place where he died at the age of 37 on May 18, 1675, near Ludington, Michigan. In 1677, Ottawa Native Americans took his remains to the chapel in St. Ignace. His gravesite is next to the Ojibway Museum on State Street.
Father Marquette’s legacy inspires most Americans today. He founded the cities of Sault Ste. Marie and St. Ignace, Michigan and Portage, Wisconsin. He founded a mission at La Pointe on Lake Superior near Ashland, Wisconsin. He explored and mapped the Great Lakes Region and the Mississippi River to the Arkansas River. While in Chicago, he recorded the tides occurring on Lake Michigan. He recommended the construction of a canal connecting Lake Michigan and the Illinois River. The Illinois and Michigan Canal was completed in 1848. His greatest legacy is the gift of his integrity, kindness and respect. He treated Canadians, Frenchmen and Native Americans with esteem, and they admired him.
Monuments to Father Marquette can be found throughout the Great Lakes states and beyond. In Chicago, there’s a monument near 24th Street and Marshall Boulevard and one at 2701 South Damen. Also, two streets, a major park, a public school, a Chicago neighborhood, a downtown office building and a former police district honor Jacques Marquette, S.J.
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