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1749 de Lery

Joseph Gaspard Chaussegros de Lery [1721-1797] was a military engineer assigned to gather information about the actual condition and strength of the post, to map the exact position and quality of the land. He traveled to Detroit with a group of French settlers who were going there in response to a plea for an increase of settlers in the area.

[On May 26, 1749, Lery received his instructions from Governor de La Galissoniere to go to Detroit. He went in a convoy composed of families of settlers and merchants conducted by Mr. De Sabrevois, who was going to be Commandant at Detroit. At Montreal, Lery prepared slips of vines, fruit stones, pips, and seeds of all kinds to take to Detroit. The convoy left La Chine on June 6, 1749.....

July 25, in the morning, we left la Riviere aux Cedres. After having travelled 1 1/2 leagues we came to la Riviere Amaconce. 1 1/2 leagues beyond the said river is the Presqu'isle. One league beyond Presqu'isle is the entrance to the Detroit River. The distance from la Riviere aux Cedres to the entrance to the Detroit River is 4 leagues. 3/4 of a league from the entrance to the Detroit River we came to the lower end of l'Isle aux Bois Blanc where was located the former village of the Hurons. L'Isle aux Bois Blanc is 1/2 of a league long and shaped like a rectangle with rounded corners. At a league from the lower end of l'Isle au Bois Blanc we found the mouth of la Riviere aux Canards. One league up-stream is the middle of la Petite Isle aux Dindes where we encamped. It is about one fifth of a league long.

July 26, 3/4 of a league from l'Isle aux Dindes, i.e., the little one, for there is a large one in the middle of the river opposite the little one, which is a league long and which serves along with the little one as a commons for the animals of the inhabitants, we came upon le Riviere aux Dindes. One league upstream is le Ruisseau de la Vieille Reine, and a half a league from the said stream is the Village of the Hurons with the Church and the house of the missionaries. We continued for another half league and we were opposite the fort, where we crossed the river bearing north by northwest....

July 27, I began surveying and obtaining the necessary information for rendering an exact account of the position, the quality of the lands, and the things to be done in order to farm them.. . . .

There are places at Detroit where the clay is good for making brick. In 1749 it was worth 50 1 a thousand. It is very good along the shore opposite the fort. The brick is of excellent quality. There are no fir trees or cedars at the fort of Detroit. It is necessary to bring some 25 leagues from along the above mentioned Riviere Duluth where the great pinery is located. On the said river there is a saw-mill belonging to Mr. Gervais, a resident of Detroit, who brings planks and joists to the post in timber rafts. The current is favorable for this method of transportation in which the lumber runs no risk.

There is no stone at the fort of Detroit. It is necessary to go an get it four leagues downstream at la Riviere de la Carriere. In order to obtain beautiful stone it is necessary to go into the woods a quarter of a league on the south shore of the said river. It resembles the stone at L'Ange Guardien of Quebec. 4 3/4 leagues below the fort there is an island that is about 1/4 of a league in circumference where the stone is as beautiful as that of la Riviere a la Carriere, and its of the same quality as the stone found at La Point aux Trembles in Quebec. Hence the island is called l'Isle a la Pierre. They transport the stone from the above-mentioned places in large boats made for that purpose. These boats are propelled by oars and sails. The boats can anchor opposite the fort at a distance of 54 fathoms.

From a spot 60 rods below Campeau's mill to a small creek above the Huron Village...the width of the river at high water is 115 rods of 18 feet in length which make altogether a distance of 11 1/2 arpents. The channel of the Detroit River is closer to the western shore....Lands of 3 arpents in front by 40 arpents in depth were granted to 22 inhabitants along the river starting at le Ruisseau de la Vieille Reine to la Riviere aux Dindes which you will find marked on map 40 between rivers marked 33 and 32.

The village of the Hurons is on the south shore of the Detroit River a half a league below the fort and it is marked E.

The village of the Ottawas is on the same side 1/2 of a quarter of a league above the fort and marked on the map D.

The village of the Potawatamis is 1/2 a league below the fort on the north shore, marked B.. . . .

August 26, I left the fort of Detroit with two boats, each one manned by five men.

From:THE JOURNEY OF JOSEPH GASPARD CHAUSSEGROS DE LERY TO DETROIT IN 1749. In The Windsor Border Region: Canada's Southernmost Frontier: A Collection of Documents. Edited with an Introduction by Ernest J. Lajeunesse. Toronto: Champlain Society, 1960. Pp 42 - 44.

See Also:

Dictionary of American Biography

Gouger, Lina. Montreal et le Peuplement de Detroit, 1701-1765. Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the French Colonial Historical Society 18 (1993): 46-58.

Kadler, Eric. The French in Detroit, 1701-1880. French-American Review 1982 6 (2): 296-309.

Reibel, Daniel B. But who owned the land? Detroit Historical Society Bulletin 1960 16 (6): 6-11.

Wood, Alberta Gjertine Auringer. Joseph Gaspard Chaussengros de Lery: Cartographer of Early Detroit. Detroit in Perspective 1978 (3): 67-74.