"We are all of us living in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." ~Oscar Wilde
"Adventure is worthwhile in itself." ~Amelia Earhart

August 2, 2010

Father Louis Hennepin: A Tiny History Lesson

Father Louis Hennepin
Photo Source: Wikipedia

History is a fairly new fascination for me. I think it started when I began running across historical markers around the city and during my travels. Those short blurbs of text eventually led me to checking out a book on Minnesota history from the library. As I read, already familiar names popped up. Marquette. Hennepin. LaSalle. I had little or no idea of who these people were but I recognized the names as names of streets or places from around the city. And some of these people were amazingly interesting.

Father Louis Hennepin (1626-1701), for example, was one of Minnesota’s first European explorers. He was born and raised in Belgium and eventually joined the Catholic church as a Franciscan priest and missionary. Between 1683 and 1698, he wrote three books where he describes his explorations in North America. These include descriptions of St. Anthony Falls near downtown Minneapolis and Niagara Falls.

According to one book I read*, while he was working in Europe, he would listen to the stories of sailors about the far-off lands they had visited. The stories made him yearn to visit North America, mostly unexplored at the time. Eventually, he received permission from the church to visit and work as a missionary.

*It’s not a good idea to use this as research for your high school or college paper. “This book I read” by some anonymous blogger isn’t the greatest source material. Just sayin’.

I like the guy. He has his flaws and is often criticized for the inaccuracies in his writing. He described St. Anthony Falls as almost as grand as Niagara Falls. Trust me, it’s not. That’s like comparing a beaver’s dam to Hoover Dam. But, I like the guy and feel an odd kinship to him.


3 comments:

Patti said...

That's interesting. I really love reading historical fiction (Edward Rutherfurd is a favourite). And in recent years, somehow I've been drawn to all historical things Russian and Ukrainian. Weird... but fascinating!

Ferd said...

You're a Minnesotan through and through, and proud of it! I like that about you! :-)

Berryvox said...

Patti - I love Russian architecture. It's one of the reasons that I was going to major in International Relations w/a specialization in Russian Studies many years ago. (Couldn't go at the time because of money though.)

Ferd - That's funny. I used to hate Minnesota when I was a teenager and desperately wanted to move to England. I appreciate it more these days. In the summer, the scenery can be idyllic and I like that Minneapolis-St. Paul leans left in politics.