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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Chapter 15: Isaac Jogues — 1642-1646.

[This information is from Vol. I, pp. 252-273 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. Some images have been relocated to the area in the text where they are discussed. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

Contents | Biographies | Illustrations | Maps | Portraits

Go back to: Chapter 14 | ahead to: Chapter 16

Capture of the Jesuit missionary on the banks of the St. Lawrence — Brought to the lower Mohawk castle of Osseruenon, on site of present Auriesville — Tortures of Father Jogues and his companions — Renee Goupil, companion of Jogues, murdered — Jogues escapes to France, 1644 — Received by the queen — Returns to the Mohawk mission, 1646 — captured by warriors of the Mohawk Bear Clan — Invited to a banquet and slain.

The establishment of the Catholic shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs at Auriesville has not only commemorated the intrepid spirit and saintly character of Father Isaac Jogues but it has served to call attention to the other Jesuit missions in the Mohawk Valley — St. Peters (1666-1693) at Caughnawaga castle at present Fonda, and St. Mary's (1667-1693) at the upper Mohawk castle of Tionnontogen, near present Wagner's Hollow.

Jogues of Osseruenon, Fremin and Pierron, Boniface and De Lambreville at Caughnawaga and Bruyas at Tionnontogen form the chief ones in the list of intrepid priests who labored here among the Mohawks. Father Lemoyne was also a prisoner at Tionnontogen (present Sprakers) in the winter of 1657-1658. These missions, both as activities of the Church, as outposts of New France, and because of their historical value, merit a volume of their own. Only the most condensed description of the twenty years of Jesuit missions on the Mohawk, is given space in this volume.

Of all the heroic fathers of the Church who labored to bring the Indians into their fold, none has more interest than Father Isaac Jogues. The story of his capture, torture, captivity, escape from and return to the Mohawks forms one of the most terrible and dramatic records of early American history. A considerable part of this heroic but horrible story is given here. People of delicate sensibilities are advised not to read it. It is a tale fit for the reading of only strong men and women who wish to know the whole truth about the making of America and the sacrifices and sufferings of its European pioneers. One cannot realize what the tortures practised by the Indians were like by merely mentioning the fact that "so and so was tortured by the Indians." The writer realizes that these horrible details are considered "historical bad form" by some people. History is only really history when it is true and it cannot be true unless it gives the truth. The sufferings of Father Jogues are part of the annals of our Valley, and, horrible as they are, they are considered proper material in order to give a true picture of our Mohawk Valley in its barbaric period.

[Photo: Statue of Father Isaac Jogues]

Jogues' sufferings exemplify those of other Jesuit martyrs and his tortures and death were similar to the fiendish cruelties sometimes practised upon the white pioneers of our Valley — both men and women — when captured by hostile Indians and Tories. They show what frequently happened to unfortunate Revolutionary captive patriots. Some of our Valley farmer soldiers, made prisoners at Oriskany, suffered in a manner similar to the tortures of Jogues, before knife or tomahawk relieved their agonies.

Our pioneer forefathers — both men and women — lived and worked on their frontier farms, fully realizing the possibility of capture by the Indians and of tortures and death similar to those which befell Father Jogues. They carried on with a bravery unsurpassed, with this horror constantly before them and often with the personal knowledge of friends or relations who had suffered horrible fates at the hands of the savages. It seems to the author of this work that, if our forefathers could undauntedly face these actual terrors, we at least should be strong enough to endure the mere reading of these savage horrors of the wilderness which surrounded many of them in their daily lives. And so the splendid heroism of Father Jogues and the dreadful agonies he endured are shown, not to cater to morbid curiosity but with the double purpose of showing the dangers to which our pioneer ancestors were constantly exposed and the horrible fate which frequently befell them, as well as the wonderful religious zeal and the spiritual strength of these marvelous missionaries of the Jesuit order.

To understand the early attitude of the Mohawks toward the Jesuits, it must be remembered that they were French and that the French were our Valley Indians' deadliest enemies. Then too, the teachings of the Jesuits and their attempts to convert the Iroquois threatened to break down the national life of the Five Nations. The Iroquois had a strong nationalistic feeling which has enabled them to survive to this day — and which Americans of today might well copy. The Iroquois at first looked upon the Jesuits as enemies because they threatened their national existence and because of the policy of the Jesuits and the commanders of New France in settling the converted or "praying Indians" in Canada. Thus did New France hope to eliminate the Iroquois peril by the slow assimilation of its people.

The Mohawks looked upon the "black gowns" (Jesuits) as magicians always capable of harm, because of their sign of the cross, prayers and ceremonies — which were at first beyond the comprehension of the savage. When De Tracy struck the terrible blow of 1666 against the Mohawks, they, like all savages, were intimidated by this display of power and then received the Jesuits (who labored among them for nearly twenty years). The Indians probably considered that they were safe from French attack with the black gowns among them, as indeed they were. The total result of the labors of the Jesuits among the Mohawks was not as great as New France expected. Many were converted, but the Mohawks remained unbroken as a nation, and, at the end of the peace, were nearly as formidable as ever.

The writer realizes that these Indian atrocities are generally glossed over, but he feels that a brief glimpse into this barbaric phase of our Valley Mohawks is essential to our historical picture and to a proper understanding of the Jesuit missions. The description is chiefly from that wonderful compilation, Thwaites' "Jesuit Relations." As aforementioned, people, who shrink from the many terrors of history, are advised to skip this chapter.

That human beings could be possessed of souls which delight in such hellish tortures of other human beings seems incredible, nowadays, and yet in spite of the fact that even some pagan Indians seem to have turned from these horrors, these tortures and public slow murders, they seem to have been the greatest delight and excitement of all the Indian tribes — they took the place in the Indian life that the theater, the movies, radio, baseball and other diversions hold in the white man's existence. However, we must remember that our own European ancestors were nearly as cruel as the Indians and that mediaeval mobs delighted in public tortures and executions.

But, no matter how considerate we may be of the savage traits of these red men as incidental to their barbarism and regardless of the probability that our own remote European ancestors were fully as bad, we cannot look with anything but the utmost revulsion on the horror of these hideous scenes — the wilderness gloom lighted by the glare of the burning victims and made bedlam by the screams of souls in agony and the delighted yellings of the surrounding savage fiends reveling in the perverted passion for human torture.

It must be understood that not only the Mohawks and Iroquois, but their Algonquin enemies practised these tortures, which were common to the Indians of North America. The Jesuit priests of New France countenanced the burning and torture of Iroquois captives and the Viceroy Frontenac is said to have ordered Iroquois prisoners burned, on several occasions.

The Jesuits were early arrivals in New France. In 1613, Argall, the doughty warrior of Virginia, broke up their first mission at Mt. Desert, off the coast of present Maine, and carried the priests all off to Virginia. Jesuit priests arrived in Quebec in 1625 and soon succeeded the recollect friars. For years New France had more the character of a Jesuit mission than that of a French colony. Their influence was most powerful and they even engaged in the fur trade. Whatever criticism may be directed at the Jesuit society as a whole, we cannot but admire the heroism and religious fervor of these dauntless priests — chief among the explorers of the Seventeenth century.

Among all the Jesuit priests of North America, Father Isaac Jogues holds a commanding position. The scenes of his labors among the Iroquois lie in our own Valley, and the story of his life and martyrdom occupies a prominent place in the history of the Mohawks as well as in that of the Jesuit missions.

Isaac Jogues (pronounced "zhog"), was born in Orleans, France, in 1607. He joined the Company of Jesus in 1624 and, in 1636, was ordained and sent to the Huron mission, one of the most dangerous of all that the Society maintained in the New World. There he labored until 1639, when he was assigned to a still more perilous post, the Jesuit mission in the Tobacco nation. In 1641, he made the long and arduous trip westward to the Sault Ste. Marie. While in that far western outpost of French Empire, Jogues addressed an audience of 2000 Algonquin Indians. On his return Father Jogues set out for Three Rivers to secure supplies for the Huron mission. He secured these necessities and started on his return with a party of Hurons and two French companions, one of whom was Rene Goupil.

While crossing Lake St. Peter the party was attacked by a war-party of Mohawks, who lay in ambush for them. Jogues and the Frenchmen were cruelly beaten and tortured after being captured on the march, and upon their arrival at the Mohawk villages. Later Goupil was killed, but Jogues was kept as a slave. He suffered the utmost in privation and cruel treatment. Arent Van Curler, the commissary of the Colony of Rensselaerwyck, made a journey to Osseruenon, the lower Mohawk castle, and attempted to ransom the heroic priest, but without success.

In 1644, with the help of the Dutch of Fort Orange, Jogues escaped to France. He returned to Canada and, in 1646, was sent as an ambassador of the Canadian government to the Mohawks. His old enemies received him with consideration and respect. Jogues was accompanied by Sieur Bourdon, the official engineer of Canada. Between them, they made a map of the country, which unfortunately, was lost. Father Jogues' political object was to confirm the Mohawks in their adherence to a treaty of peace signed between the governor of New France and the Iroquois in 1645. Having finished this work with seeming success, Jogues returned to Quebec. He was on his way back to resume his missionary work among the Mohawks, when he was captured by a war party of the Bear Clan of Andagoron, the middle castle located west of present Fultonville. Jogues and his companion Dalalanda were taken to the Mohawk country, tortured and murdered shortly after their arrival.

The foregoing is the story, in brief, of the captivity, journeys and mission of Father Isaac Jogues. Most interesting, among all the human documents in the annals of the Mohawk Valley, are the relations concerning them which Father Jogues himself wrote and from which extracts (translated from the French) are here given.

Jogues gives the description of his capture and tortures on the march and on their arrival at the lower Mohawk castle, in his "Account of Rene Goupil (donne)" given in Vol. 28, of Thwaites' "The Jesuit Relations." When Father Jogues came to Three Rivers, in 1642, to secure supplies for the Huron station, he met Rene Goupil. He describes Goupil as a native of Arvon, "who accompanied him on his return, as the young man had had medical training and a surgeon was very much needed in the Huron country." Goupil was a youth of refinement and much intelligence, and although only a donne, he was, like Jogues, imbued with the religious ardor and dauntless spirit characteristic of the Jesuits in the New World. The contact of these two refined personalities with the most savage of savages is an interesting though terrible chapter of our Valley history. How such physically delicate men as Jogues and Goupil could endure such terrible physical trials and agonies, without dying under them is a mystery to the modern reader. The hard outdoor life which Jogues lived at the Mohawk town, eventually gave him great strength and vigor and he tells how he easily outran the best Mohawk runners of the village and so could thus have easily escaped many times.

Mention has been made of Champlain's fateful encounter with the Mohawks in 1609. His attack on the Oneida town in 1615 described in the same chapter, showed the manner of attack and defence of an Iroquois fort. The following description by Jerome Lalement of the capture of Jogues and his companions, is from the Father's own narrative. It vividly portrays an Indian ambuscade, which was their favorite mode of warfare. All these forms of Indian fighting entered into the history of the Mohawk Valley, and it is well for the reader to be conversant with them. Jogues' description of his capture, by the Mohawk war party, follows:

"The first day of August in the same year, (1642) we left Three Rivers, in order to go up again to the [Huron] country whence we came. The first day was favorable to us; the second caused us to fall into the hands of the Hiroquois. We were forty persons, distributed in several canoes; the one which kept the vanguard, having discovered on the banks of the great river some tracks of men, recently imprinted on the sand and clay, gave us warning. A landing was made; some say that these are footprints of the enemy, others are sure that they are those of Algonquins, our allies. In this dispute, Eustache Ahatsistari, to whom all the others deferred on account of his exploits in arms and his virtue, exclaimed: 'Be they friends or enemies, it matters not; I notice by their tracks that they are not in greater number than we; let us advance, and fear nothing.' We had not yet made a half-league, when the enemy, concealed among the grass and brushwood, rises with a great outcry, discharging at our canoes a volley of balls. The noise of their arquebuses so greatly frightened a part of our Hurons that they abandoned their canoes and weapons and all their supplies in order to escape by flight into the depth of the woods. This discharge did us no great hurt, and none lost his life; one Huron alone had his hand pierced through, and our canoes were broken in several places. We were four French, — one of whom, being in the rear, escaped with the Hurons, who abandoned him before approaching the enemy. Eight or ten, both Christians and Catechumens, joined us; having been made to say a brief prayer, they oppose a courageous front to the enemy; and although the latter were thirty men against twelve or fourteen, our people valiantly sustained their effort. But having perceived that another band — of forty Hiroquois, who were in ambush on the other shore of the river — was coming to attack them, they lost courage; insomuch that those who were least entangled fled, abandoning their comrades in the fight. A Frenchman named Rene Goupil, whose death is precious before God, being no longer sustained by those who followed him, was surrounded and captured, along with some of the most courageous Hurons. I was watching this disaster," says the Father, "from a place very favorable for concealing me from the sight of the enemy, being able to hide myself in thickets and among very tall and dense reeds; but this thought could never enter my mind. 'Could I, indeed,' I said to myself, 'abandon our French and leave those good Neophytes and those poor Catechumens, without giving them the help which the Church of my God has entrusted to me?' Flight seemed horrible to me; 'It must be,' I said in my heart, 'that my body suffer the fire of earth, in order to deliver these poor souls from the flames of Hell; it must die a transient death, in order to procure for them an eternal life.' My conclusion being reached without great opposition from my feelings, I call the one of the Hiroquois who had remained to guard the prisoners. This man, having perceived me, dared not approach me, fearing some ambush. 'Come on,' I say to him; 'be not afraid; lead me to the presence of the Frenchman and the Hurons whom you hold captive.' He advances and, having seized me, puts me in the number of those whom the world calls miserable. I tenderly embraced the Frenchman, and said to him: 'My dear brother, God treats us in a strange manner, but He is the master, and He has done what has seemed best in His sight; He has followed His good pleasure. May His holy Name be blessed forever.' This good young man at once made his confession; having given him absolution, I approach the Hurons, and instruct and baptize them; and, as at every moment those who were pursuing the fugitives brought back some of them, I heard these in confession, making Christians those who were not so. Finally, they brought that worthy Christian Captain named Eustache, who, having perceived me, exclaimed: 'Ah! my Father, I had sworn and protested to you that I would live or die with you.' The sight of him piercing my heart, I do not remember the words that I said to him. Another Frenchman, named Guilliaume Cousture, seeing that the Hurons were giving way, escaped like them into those great forests; and, as he was agile, he was soon out of the enemy's grasp. But, remorse having seized him because he had forsaken his Father and his comrade, he stops quite short, deliberating aside with himself whether he should go on or retrace his steps. The dread of being regarded as perfidious makes him face about; he encounters five stout Hiroquois. One of these aims at him, but, his arquebus having missed fire, the Frenchman did not miss him, — he laid him stone-dead on the spot; his shot being fired, the four other Hiroquois fell upon him with a rage of Lions, or rather of Demons. Having stripped him bare as the hand, they bruised him with heavy blows of clubs and tore out his finger-nails with their teeth, — crushing the bleeding ends, in order to cause him more pain. In short, they pierced one of his hands with a javelin and led him, tied and bound in this sad plight, to the place where we were. Having recognized him, I escape from my guards, and fall upon his neck. 'Courage,' I say to him, 'my dear brother and friend; offer your pains and anguish to God, in behalf of those very persons who torment you. Let us not draw back; let us suffer courageously for His holy name; we have intended only His glory in this journey.' The Hiroquois, seeing us in these endearments at first remained quite bewildered, looking at us without saying a word; then, all at once — imagining, perhaps, that I was applauding that young man because he had killed one of their Captains, — they fell upon me with a mad fury, they belabored me with thrusts, and with blows from sticks and war-clubs, flinging me to the ground, half dead. When I began to breathe again, those who had not struck me, approaching, violently tore out my finger-nails; and then biting, one after another, the ends of my two forefingers, destitute of their nails, caused me the sharpest pain, grinding and crushing them as if between two stones, even to the extent of causing splinters or little bones to protrude. They treated the good Rene Goupil in the same way, without doing, at that time, any harm to the Hurons: they were thus enraged against the French because the latter had not been willing to accept the peace the preceding year, on the conditions which they wished to give them."

The captive prisoners were taken southward by the Mohawks who paddled over Lake Champlain. On this journey they met a large Mohawk war party. All the captives were stripped naked and made to run the gauntlet. Father Jogues was so cruelly beaten that he fell insensible. In the tortures which followed, a savage with a knife approached and took hold of Jogues' nose with the evident intention of cutting it off, but desisted from some unknown reason. If he had done so, Jogues would probably have been killed shortly after, as, he says that the savages did not long spare one whom they had cruelly mutilated.

Jogues says that "the tenth day after capture we arrived at the place where it was necessary to cease navigation and proceed by land" which probably was the foot of Lake George where the trail began which led to the Mohawk near present Amsterdam, or westward to a point on the Mohawk near Tribes Hill. On this journey the suffering prisoners were so loaded with the burdens and so weakened from wounds and lack of food that they fell far behind and could easily have escaped. They were deterred from this by the religious fervor which kept them from abandoning the other captive Christians. On the day of the Assumption, they reached the Mohawk near Auriesville.

Jogues tells of the horrors and tortures inflicted upon the three Frenchmen — Jogues, Goupil and Cousture — upon their arrival at the Mohawk River, their entrance into the lower Mohawk castle of Osseruenon, at present Auriesville, and their subsequent parading through the middle castle of Andagoron, west of present Fultonville, and the upper Mohawk castle of Tionnontogen, at present Sprakers:

"We arrived on the eve of that sacred day at a little river, [the Schoharie] distant from the first village of the Hiroquois [Mohawks] about a quarter of a league; we found on its banks, on both sides, many men and youths, armed with sticks which they let loose upon us with their accustomed rage. There remained to me now only two nails, — those Barbarians tore them from me with their teeth, rending the flesh from beneath, and cutting it clean to the bone with their nails, which they allow to grow very long. A Huron, to whom they had given his liberty in that country, having perceived us, exclaimed: 'You are dead, Frenchmen, you are dead; there is no liberty for you. Think no more of life; you will be burned; prepare yourselves for death.' This fine reception did not afflict us to the degree that our enemies believed it would; my guard, nevertheless, seeing me all covered with blood, touched with some compassion, told me that I was in a pitiable state; and, in order to render me more distinguishable to the sight of his people, he wiped my face.

"After they had glutted their cruelty, they led us in triumph into that first village [Osseruenon]; all the youth were outside the gates, arranged in line, — armed with sticks, and some with iron rods, which they easily secure on account of their vicinity to the Dutch. Casting our eyes upon these weapons of passion, we remembered what Saint Augustin says, that those who turn aside from the scourges of God turn aside from the number of his children; on that account, we offered ourselves with great courage to his fatherly goodness, in order to be victims sacrificed to his good pleasure and to his anger, lovingly zealous for the salvation of these peoples."

Here follows the order which was observed at that funereal and pompous entry.

"They made one Frenchman march at the head, and another in the middle of the Hurons, and me the very last. We were following one another at an equal distance; and, that our executioners might have more leisure to beat us at their ease, some Hiroquois thrust themselves into our ranks in order to prevent us from running and from avoiding any blows. The procession beginning to enter this narrow way of Paradise, a scuffling was heard on all sides; it was indeed then that I could say with my Lord and master, Supra dorsum meum fabric averunt pecatores, — 'Sinners have built and left monuments and marks of their rage upon my back.' I was naked to my shirt, like a poor criminal; the others were wholly naked, except poor Rene Goupil, to whom they did the same favor as to me. The more slowly the procession marched in a very long road, the more blows we received. One was dealt above my loins with the pommel of a javelin, or with an iron knob the size of one's fist, which shook my whole body and took away my breath. Such was our entrance into that Babylon. Hardly could we arrive as far as the scaffold which was prepared for us in the midst of that village, so exhausted were we; our bodies were all livid, and our faces all stained with blood. But more disfigured than all was Rene Goupil, so that nothing white appeared in his face except his eyes. I found him all the more beautiful as he had more in common with Him who, bearing a face most worthy of the regards and delight of the Angels, appeared to us, in the midst of his anguish, like a leper. Having ascended that scaffold, I exclaimed in my heart: Spectaculum facti sumus mundo et Angelis et hominibus propter Christum, — 'We have been made a gazing-stock in the sight of the world, of Angels, and of men, for Jesus Christ.' We found some rest in that place of triumph and of glory. The Hiroquois no longer persecuted us except with their tongues, — filling the air and our ears with their insults, which did us no great hurt; but this calm did not last long. A Captain exclaims that the Frenchman ought to be caressed. Sooner done than it is said, — one wretch, jumping on the stage, dealt three heavy blows with sticks, on each Frenchman, without touching the Hurons. Others, meanwhile drawing their knives and approaching us, treated me as a Captain, — that is to say, with more fury than the rest. The deference of the French, and the respect which the Hurons showed me, caused me this advantage. An old man takes my left hand and commands a captive Algonquin woman to cut off one of my fingers; she turns away three or four times, unable to resolve upon this cruelty; finally, she has to obey, and cuts the thumb from my left hand; the same caresses are extended to the other prisoners. This poor woman having thrown my thumb on the stage, I picked it up and offered it to you, O my God! Remembering the sacrifices that I had presented to you for seven years past, upon the Altars of your Church, I accepted this torture as a loving vengeance for the want of love and respect that I had shown, concerning your Holy Body; you heard the cries of any soul. One of my two French companions, having perceived me, told me that, if those Barbarians saw me keep my thumb, they would make me eat it and swallow it all raw; and that, therefore I should throw it away somewhere. I obey him instantly. They use a scallop or an oyster-shell for cutting off the right thumb of the other Frenchmen, so as to cause him more pain. The blood flowing from our wounds in so great abundance that we were likely to fall in a swoon, a Hiroquois — tearing off a little end of my shirt, which alone had been left to me — bound them up for us; and that was all the dressing and all the medical treatment applied to them.

"Evening having come, they made us descend, in order to be taken into the cabins as the sport of the children. They gave us for food a very little Indian corn, simply boiled in water; then they made us lie down on pieces of bark, binding us by the arms and the feet to four stakes fastened in the ground in the shape of Saint Andrew's cross. The children, in order to learn the cruelty of their parents, threw coals and burning cinders on our stomachs, — taking pleasure in seeing us broil and roast. Oh, my God, what nights! To remain always in an extremely constrained position; to be unable to stir or to turn, under the attack of countless vermin which assailed us on all sides; to be burdened with wounds, some recent and others all putrid; not to have sustenance for the half of one's life: in truth, these torments are great, but God is infinite. At sunrise, they led us back upon our scaffold, where we spent three days and three nights in the sufferings that I have just described.

"The three days having expired, they parade us into two other villages [Andagoron and Tionnontogen], where we make our entrance as into the first; they give us the same salutes of beatings, and, in order to enhance the cruelty of the earlier ones, they deal us severe blows on the bones, — either at random or on the shin of the legs, a place very sensitive to pain. As we were leaving the first village, a wretch took away my shirt and gave me an old rag to cover what ought to be concealed; this nakedness was very painful to me. I could not abstain from reproaching one of those who had had the bulk of our spoils, saying 'Art thou not ashamed to see me in this nakedness, — thou who hast had so great a share of my baggage?' These words somewhat abashed him; he took a piece of coarse cloth, with which a bundle was enveloped, and threw it to me. I put it on my back to defend myself from the heat of the sun, which heated and corrupted my wounds; but — this cloth having glued itself fast, and, as it were, incorporated itself with my sores — I was constrained to tear it off with pain, and to abandon myself to the mercy of the air. My skin was detaching itself from my body in several places; and, — that I might say that I had passed per ignem et aquam, through cold and heat, for love of my God, while on the scaffold during three days, as in the first village, there fell a cold rain, which greatly renewed the pains of my sores. One of those Barbarians having perceived that Guillaume Cousture, although he had his hands all torn, had not yet lost any of his fingers, seized his hand, striving to cut off his forefinger with a poor knife. But, as he could not succeed therein, he twisted it, and in tearing it he pulled a sinew out of the arm, the length of a span. At the same time his poor arm swelled, and the pain was reflected from it even to the depth of my heart.

"On departing from that second village, they drag us into the third [Tionnontogen]; these villages are several leagues distant from one another. Besides the salute and the caresses, and the reception which was given us at the two preceding ones, note what was added to our torture. The young men thrust thorns or pointed sticks into our sores, scratching the ends of our fingers, deprived of their nails, and tearing them even to the quick flesh; and in order to honor me above the others, they bound me to pieces of wood fastened crosswise. Consequently, my feet not being supported, the weight of my body inflicted upon me a gehenna, and a torture so keen that, after having suffered this torment about a quarter of an hour, I plainly felt that I was about to fall in a swoon from it, which made me beseech those Barbarians to lengthen my bonds a little. They ran up at my call; and, instead of lengthening them, they strain them more tightly, in order to cause me more pain. A savage from a more distant country, touched with compassion, broke through the press and, drawing a knife, boldly cut all the cords with which I was bound. This charity was afterward rewarded a hundredfold, as we shall see in its place.

"That act was not without providence; for at the same time when I was unbound, word was brought that some warriors, or hunters of men, were conducting thither some Hurons, recently taken. I betook me to the place as best I could; I consoled those poor captives, and having sufficiently instructed them I conferred upon them holy Baptism; in recompense I am told that I must die with them. The sentence decreed in the Council is intimated to me; the following night is to be (as they say) the end of my torments and of my life. My soul is well pleased with these words, but not yet was my God, — He willed to prolong my martyrdom. Those Barbarians reconsidered the matter, exclaiming that life ought to be spared to the Frenchmen, or rather, their death postponed. They thought to find more moderation at our forts, on account of us. They accordingly sent Guillaume Cousture into the largest village [Tionnontogen], and Rene Goupil and I were lodged together in another [Osseruenon]. Life being granted us, they did us no more harm. But alas! it was then that we felt at leisure the torments which had been inflicted on us. They gave us for beds the bark of trees, flat on the ground; and for refreshment they gave us a little Indian meal, and sometimes a bit of squash, half raw. Our hands and fingers being all in pieces, they had to feed us like children. Patience was our physician. Some women, more merciful, regarded us with much charity and were unable to look at our sores without compassion."

In his account concerning Goupil and himself following their tortures at the Mohawk towns, Father Jogues writes as follows of the murder of his young French companion at Osseruenon, on the site of present Auriesville. This description appears under title "Notice sur Rene Goupil (donne) par le P. Isaac Jogues" in Thwaites' (1898) "Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents," Vol. XXVIII, pp. 116 to 135.

"After they had given us life, — at the very time when, a little before, they had warned us to prepare for being burned, — he [Goupil] fell sick, suffering great inconveniences in every respect, and especially in regard to the food, to which he was not accustomed. In that one might say most truly, Non cibus utilis egro. I could not relieve him, — for I was also very sick, and had none of my fingers sound or entire.

"But this urges me to come to his death, at which nothing was wanting to make him a martyr.

"After we had been in the country six weeks, — as confusion arose in the councils of the Iroquois, some of whom were quite willing that we should be taken back, — we lost the hope, which I did not consider very great, of again seeing Three Rivers that year. We accordingly consoled each other in the divine arrangement of things; and we were preparing for everything that it might ordain for us. He did not quite realize the danger in which we were, — I saw it better than he; and this often led me to tell him that we should hold ourselves in readiness. One day, then, as in the grief of our souls, we had gone forth from the village, in order to pray more suitably and with less disturbance, two young men came after us to tell us that we must return home. I had some presentiment of what was to happen, and said to him 'My dearest brother, let us commend ourselves to Our Lord and to our good mother the blessed Virgin; these people have some evil design, as I think.' We had offered ourselves to Our Lord, shortly before, with much devotion, — beseeching Him to receive our lives and our blood, and unite them with his life and his blood for the salvation of these poor peoples. We accordingly returned toward the village, reciting our rosary, of which we had already said four decades. Having stopped near the gate of the village, to see what they might say to us, one of those two Iroquois draws a hatchet, which he held concealed under his blanket, and deals a blow with it on the head of Rene, who was before him. He falls motionless, his face to the ground, pronouncing the holy name of Jesus (often we admonished each other that this holy name should end both our voices and our lives). At the blow, I turn round and see a hatchet all bloody; I kneel down, to receive the blow which was to unite me with my dear companion; but, as they hesitate, I rise again, and run to the dying man, who was quite near. They dealt him two other blows with the hatchet, on the head, and despatched him, — but not until I had first given him absolution, which I had been wont to give him every two days, since our captivity; and this was a day on which he had already confessed.

"It was the 29th of September, the feast of St. Michael, when this Angel, in innocence, and this Martyr of Jesus Christ, gave his life for Him who had given him his. They ordered me to return to my cabin where I awaited the rest of the day and the next day, the same treatment, and it was indeed the purpose of all that I should not long delay, since that one had begun. Indeed, I passed several days on which they came to kill me; but our Lord did not permit this, in ways which it would be tedious to explain. The next morning, I nevertheless went out to inquire where they had thrown that blessed body, for I wished to bury it, at whatever cost. Certain Iroquois, who had some desire to preserve me, said to me: 'Thou hast no sense! Thou seest that they seek thee everywhere to kill thee, and thou still goest out. Thou wishest to go and seek a body already half destroyed which they have dragged far from here. Dost thou not see those young men going out, who will kill thee when thou shalt be outside the stockade?' That did not stop me, and Our Lord gave me courage enough to wish to die in this act of charity."

Jogues found the body of Goupil in the Aurieskill where the Indian children had dragged it. He weighted it down with stones, hoping to come again and bury it. In the meantime some Mohawk youths took the corpse and dragged it into a nearby wood where wolves, foxes and crows consumed it during the winter. The next spring, Jogues found a few of Goupil's bones there and reverently buried them.

In his "Notice sur Goupil," Father Jogues writes as follows of this burial and the causes of Goupil's slaying.

"I went thither several times without finding anything. At last, the fourth time, I found the head and some half-gnawed bones, which I buried with the design of carrying them away, if I should be taken back to Three Rivers, as they spoke of doing. I kissed them very devoutly, several times, as the bones of a martyr of Jesus Christ.

"I give him this title not only because he was killed by the enemies of God and of His church, and in the exercise of an ardent charity toward his neighbor, placing himself in evident peril for the love of God, but especially because he was killed on account of prayer, and notably for the sake of the Holy Cross.

"He was in a cabin where he nearly always said the prayers, which pleased a superstitious old man who was there. One day, seeing a child of three or four years in the cabin, — with an excess of devotion and love for the Cross, and with a simplicity which we who are more prudent than he, according to the flesh, would not have shown, he took off his cap, put it on this child's head, and made a great sign of the cross upon its body. The old man, seeing that, commanded a young man of his cabin, who was about to leave for the war, to kill him, — which order he executed, as we have said.

"Even the child's mother, on a journey in which I happened to be with her, told me that it was because of this sign of the cross that he had been killed; and the old man who had given the command that he should be slain, — one day when they called me to his cabin to eat, when I previously made the sign of the cross, — said to me: 'That is what we hate; that is why they have killed thy companion, and why they will kill thee. Our neighbors, the Europeans [Hollanders of Fort Orange] do not do so.' Sometimes, also, when I was praying on my knees during the hunt, they told me that they hated this way of doing, and on account of that they had killed the other Frenchman; and that, for this reason, they would kill me when I came back to the village."

In 1644, after two years of captivity in the squalid, filthy, barbaric surroundings of the lower Mohawk castle, serving the savages as an abused menial, this gentle and refined missionary finally effected his escape from the horrors which encompassed him. Van Curler and Dominie Megapolensis of Beverwyck, aided Father Jogues to escape to France, whence he returned to his martyrdom among the Mohawks two years later. Van Curler had previously tried to ransom the captive priest.

As has been previously mentioned, Father Jogues many times could have escaped from his captivity among the Mohawks but his passionate desire to save their souls had restrained him. It seems to have been a fruitless task, but it did not so appear to the Father, who was possessed of unbounded religious zeal and a dauntless spirit. Jogues' adopted old Mohawk "aunt" had frequently given him opportunities to flee, sending him alone to distant cornfields to work, but he had always returned. The Mohawks, like all Indians, believed implicitly in dreams, which contributed still more to the bedlam and terror of the castles. Both the sincere and the lying "dreamer" could turn the whole village into turmoil by reciting some childish or villainous demand "revealed" in a dream. The most ridiculous, brutal and murderous results often followed. On one occasion, a sick man "dreamed" that he would recover if the "black-gown" (as the Iroquois called the Jesuits) were brought to his sick bed, there to perform some incantations with his Bible. Some young men were sent to bring Jogues who naturally refused to go to minister to such savage superstitions. The young warriors tried to take him by force but he slipped away and ran. Although pursued by the swiftest runners of the castle, he easily outdistanced them. But after doing so — actually making his escape — the zealous "black-gown" returned to his village and its miseries.

When the opportunity offered Jogues decided to escape, only after a long mental struggle, described in the Relations. He had been with a Mohawk fishing party to their fishing village at the mouth of the Normanskill below Albany. Here his adopted Mohawk "aunt" told him that he would be burned on his return to Osseruenon, to avenge some recent French success. The Indians he was with slept one night in a Dutch farmer's barn near Fort Orange and there they all got blind drunk. Jogues crept out in the night and made his way to the Hudson River, being badly bitten by the farmer's dog on the way. He got aboard a Dutch boat in the river, where the kindly Hollanders hid him. From there he was taken and secreted in the house of a miserly Dutchman at Fort Orange, who starved him for a month — himself using the provisions provided for Jogues. There seem to have been many mean, miserly, vicious sharpers among the early Hollanders who traded at Fort Orange and the Indian trade further tended toward these characteristics. Van Curler finally put Jogues on a Dutch boat sailing to Manhattan. Here he was kindly received by Director Kieft and finally sent to France.

His return to his former Jesuit seminary at Rennes, so haggard and changed that he was at first unrecognized, is a dramatic moment in the "Jesuit Relations." They say: "From Rennes he comes to Paris, the Queen (Anne of Austria) having heard mention of his sufferings, says aloud: 'Romances are feigned but here is a genuine combination of great adventures.' She wished to see him; her eyes were tortured with compassion at the sight of the cruelty of the Hiroquois." Says Parkman: "She kissed his mutilated hands while the ladies of the court do him homage. We are told, and no doubt with truth, that these honors were unwelcome to the modest and single-hearted missionary, who thought only of returning to his work of converting the Indians. A priest, with any deformity of body is debarred from saying mass. The teeth and knives of the Iroquois had inflicted an injury worse than the tortures imagined, for they had robbed Jogues of the privilege which was the chief consolation of his life, but the Pope, by a special dispensation, restored it to him, and with the opening of spring, he sailed again to Canada."

When Father Jogues returned, he wrote a description of New Netherland, Fort Orange and Manhattan, entitled "Novum Belgium," which is one of the most interesting and enlightening documents we have relative to the early Dutch days in our Hudson Valley. From this paper, some quotations have been made in a previous chapter of this book.

Father Jogues' two journeys to the Mohawk country, in 1646, and his slaying there is concisely told in Parkman's interesting but terrible volume "The Jesuits in North America [in the Seventeenth Century]." Jogues' visit to the Mohawks, as ambassador of New France, his return as a Jesuit missionary and his tragic end are here related.

In 1645 peace had been declared between the French of Canada and the Mohawks, and a French representative — Guilluame Couture, returned with the Mohawks and spent the winter of 1645-6 in their castles. Knowing the capricious and unstable character of the Iroquois, the Canadian government wished to hold them to the treaty terms by the constant presence of a French ambassador among them. Following Couture's residence there, Father Jogues was sent on his political-religious mission. Parkman writes of this errand and of the tragic end of Father Isaac Jogues as follows:

"For two years past, Jogues had been at Montreal; and it was here that he received the order of his Superior to proceed to the Mohawk towns. At first, nature asserted itself, and he recoiled involuntarily at the thought of the horrors of which his scarred body and his mutilated hands were a living memento. It was a transient weakness; and he prepared to depart with more than willingness, giving Thanks to Heaven that he had been found worthy to suffer and to die for the saving of souls and the greater glory of God.

"He felt a presentiment that his death was near, and wrote to a friend, 'I shall go, and shall not return.' An Algonquin convert gave him sage advice. 'Say nothing about the Faith at first, for there is nothing so repulsive, in the beginning, as our doctrine, which seems to destroy everything that men hold dear; and as your long cassock preaches, as well as your lips, you had better put on a short coat.' Jogues, therefore, exchanged the uniform of Loyola for a civilian's doublet and hose; 'for' observes his Superior, 'one should be all things to all men, that he may gain them all to Jesus Christ.' It would be well, if the application of the maxim had always been as harmless.

"Jogues left Three Rivers about the middle of May, with the Sieur Bourdon, engineer to the Governor, two Algonquins with gifts to confirm the peace, and four Mohawks as guides and escort. He passed the Richelieu and Lake Champlain, well-remembered scenes of former miseries, and reached the foot of Lake George on the eve of Corpus Christi. Hence he called the lake Lac St. Sacrament; and this name it preserved, until, a century after, an ambitious Irishman [Sir William Johnson], in compliment to the sovereign from whom he sought advancement, gave it the name it bears [Lake George].

"From Lake George they crossed on foot to the Hudson, where, being greatly fatigued by their heavy loads of gifts, they borrowed canoes at an Iroquois fishing station, and descended to Fort Orange. Here Jogues met the Dutch friends to whom he owed his life, and who now kindly welcomed and entertained him. After a few days he left them, and ascended the River Mohawk to the first Mohawk town. Crowds gathered from the neighboring towns to gaze on the man whom they had known as a scorned and abused slave, and who now appeared among them as the ambassador of a power which hitherto, indeed, they had despised, but which in their present mood they were willing to propitiate.

"There was a council in one of the lodges; and while his crowded auditory smoked their pipes, Jogues stood in the midst, and harangued them. He offered in due form the gifts of the Governor, with the wampum belts and their messages of peace, while at every pause his words were echoed by a unanimous grunt of applause from the attentive concourse. Peace speeches were made in return; and all was harmony. When, however, the Algonquin deputies stood before the council, they and their gifts were coldly received. The old hate, maintained by traditions of mutual atrocity, burned fiercely under a thin semblance of peace; and, though no outbreak took place, the prospect of the future was very ominous.

"The business of the embassy was scarcely finished, when the Mohawks counselled Jogues and his companions to go home with all despatch, saying, that if they waited longer, they might meet, on the way, warriors of the four upper nations, who would inevitably kill the two Algonquin deputies, if not the French also. Jogues, therefore set out on his return; but not until, despite the advice of the Indian convert, he had made the round of the houses, confessed and instructed a few Christian prisoners still remaining here, and baptized several dying Mohawks. Then he and his party crossed through the forest to the southern extremity of Lake George, made bark canoes, and descended to Fort Richelieu, where they arrived on the twenty-seventh of June.

"His political errand was accomplished. Now, should he return to the Mohawks, or should the Mission of the Martyrs be for a time abandoned? Lalemant, who had succeeded Vimont as Superior of the missions, held a council at Quebec with three other Jesuits, of whom Jogues was one, and it was determined, that, unless some new contingency should arise, he should remain for the winter at Montreal. This was in July. Soon after, the plan was changed, for reasons which do not appear, and Jogues received orders to repair to his dangerous post. He set out on the twenty-fourth of August, accompanied by a young Frenchman named Lalande, and three or four Hurons. On the way they met Indians who warned them of a change of feeling in the Mohawk towns, and the Hurons, alarmed, refused to go farther. Jogues, naturally perhaps the most timid man of the party, had no thought of drawing back, and pursued his journey with his young companion, who, like other donnes of the missions, was scarcely behind the Jesuits themselves in devoted enthusiasm.

"The reported change of feeling had indeed taken place; and the occasion of it was characteristic. On his previous visit to the Mohawks, Jogues, meaning to return, had left in their charge a small chest or box. From the first they were distrustful, suspecting that it contained some secret mischief. He therefore opened it, and showed them the contents, which were a few personal necessaries; and having thus, as he thought, reassured them, locked the box, and left it in their keeping. The Huron prisoners in the town attempted to make favor with their Iroquois enemies by abusing their French friends — declaring them to be sorcerers, who had bewitched, by their charms and mummeries, the whole Huron nation, and caused drought, famine, pestilence and a host of insupportable miseries. Thereupon, the suspicions of the Mohawks against the box revived with double force, and they were convinced that famine, the pest, or some malignant spirit was shut up in it, waiting the moment to issue forth and destroy them. There was sickness in the town, and caterpillars were eating their corn; this was ascribed to the sorceries of the Jesuit. Still they were divided in opinion. Same stood firm for the French; others were furious against them. Among the Mohawks, three clans or families were predominant, if indeed they did not compose the entire nation, — the clans of the Bear, the Tortoise and the Wolf. Though, by the nature of their constitution it was scarcely possible that these clans should come to blows, so intimately were they bound together by ties of blood, yet they were often divided on points of interest or policy and on this occasion the Bear raged against the French, and howled for war, while the Tortoise and the Wolf still clung to the treaty. Among savages, with no government except the intermittent one of councils, the party of action and violence must always prevail. The Bear chiefs sang their warsongs, and, followed by the young men of their own clan and by such others as they had infected with their frenzy, set forth, in two bands, on the warpath.

"The warriors of one of these bands were making their way through the forests between the Mohawk and Lake George, when they met Jogues and Lalande. They seized them, stripped them, and led them in triumph to their town. Here a savage crowd surrounded them, beating them with sticks and with their fists. One of them cut thin strips of flesh from the back and arms of Jogues, saying, as he did so, 'Let us see if this white flesh is the flesh of an oki.' — 'I am a man like yourselves,' replied Jogues; 'but I do not fear death or torture. I do not know why you would kill me. I come here to confirm the peace and show you the way to heaven, and you treat me like a dog' — 'You shall die tomorrow,' cried the rabble. 'Take courage, we shall not burn you. We shall strike you both with a hatchet, and place your heads on the palisade, that your brothers may see you when we take them prisoners.' The clans of the Wolf and the Tortoise still raised their voices in behalf of the captive Frenchmen; but the fury of the minority swept all before it.

"In the evening — it was the eighteenth of October — Jogues, smarting with his wounds and bruises, was sitting in one of the lodges, when an Indian entered, and asked him to a feast. To refuse would have been an offense. He arose and followed the savage, who led him to the lodge of the Bear chief. Jogues bent his head to enter, when another Indian, standing concealed within, at the side of the doorway, struck at him with a hatchet. An Iroquois, called by the French Le Berger, who seems to have followed in order to defend him, bravely held out his arm to ward off the blow; but the hatchet cut through it, and sank into the missionary's brain. He fell at the feet of his murderer, who at once finished the work by hacking off his head. Lalande was left in suspense all night, and in the morning was killed in a similar manner. The bodies of the two Frenchmen were then thrown into the Mohawk, and their heads displayed on the points of the palisade which inclosed the town.

"Thus died Isaac Jogues, one of the purest examples of Roman Catholic virtue which this Western continent has seen."

In 1922, a statue of Father Isaac Jogues was erected at Auriesville by the Order of Alhambra, after the design of Joseph Sibbel. The base of this striking monument bears a tablet in recognition of the services of Dominie Megapolensis, the Dutch clergyman of Fort Orange, who aided Father Jogues to escape in 1644. A statue of Tegakwitha "The Lily of the Mohawks" stands nearby. Tegakwitha, whose name is variously spelled, was one of the most noted of the "praying Indians" or converted Iroquois.

The site of the sufferings and martyrdom of Father Isaac Jogues is today one of the world's great Catholic shrines. It is the scene of the pilgrimage of thousands of the devout who gather upon this Mohawk River hillside in tribute of devotion to one of the many martyrs of the church.

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