Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Lhut

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Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Lhut (c. 1639 – 25 February 1710) was a French soldier and explorer who is the first European known to have visited the area where the city of Duluth, Minnesota is now located and the headwaters of the Mississippi River near Grand Rapids. His name is sometimes anglicized as "DuLuth", and he is the namesake of Duluth, Minnesota as well as Duluth, Georgia. Daniel Greysolon signed himself "Dulhut" on surviving manuscripts.

Early life[edit]

He was born in Saint-Germain-Laval, near Saint-Étienne, France, and first returned to New France in 1674.

Exploration[edit]

In September 1678, he left Montreal for Lake Superior, spending the winter near Sault Sainte Marie and reaching the western end of the lake in the fall of the following year where he concluded peace talks between the Saulteur and Sioux nations. In June of 1680 Duluth heard of the capture a reverend by the name of Louis Henpin. Henpin was captured by the Nadouecioux which Duluth was familiar with. After receiving word of his capture Duluth set out at once to find the Reverend and demand for his release. Duluth bartered for the Reverend's freedom, but in doings so he broke laws banning trading with Natives without government approval. this would lead to troubles that he would have to address back in Montreal. Lured by native stories of the Western or Vermilion Sea (likely the Great Salt Lake in Utah), reached the Mississippi River via the Saint Croix River in 1680 and then headed back to Fort de Buade, where he heard that jealous Quebec merchants and the intendant Jacques Duchesneau de la Doussinière et d'Ambault were slandering him. He was forced to return to Montreal and then France in 1681 to defend himself against false accusations of treason, returning the following year.

He subsequently established fur trading posts to further French interests at Lake Nipigon and Fort Caministigoyan at the mouth of the Kaministiquia River on Lake Superior, the site of the city of Thunder Bay, Ontario, probably 1684/85, not 1679 as many sources suggest, and at Fort St. Joseph (Port Huron) between Lake Erie and Huron, which was garrisoned, with 50 men.

Death[edit]

He died of gout in Montreal 25 February 1710 and was buried in the Recollet church.

Legacy[edit]

Montreal, Quebec has a Duluth Avenue (Avenue Duluth in French) named after Greysolon located in "The Plateau" borough of the city (known as Le Plateau-Mont Royal in French). The avenue became quite popular with both residents and tourists after it was redesigned in the early 1980s. It was made to be more pedestrian-friendly with pleasantly-designed sidewalks, many trees, and flower boxes. It is said to have been modeled after Woonerf streets in the Netherlands and Belgium where pedestrians and cyclists have priority over motorized vehicles, which have a reduced speed limit.

Sadly, in the Minnesota city which bears his name, there are no Duluthians with the surname "Duluth."

In Popular Culture[edit]

Colder by the Lake, a theater company in Duluth, Minnesota, produced an original comic opera based on the life of Daniel Greysolon. Entitled Les Uncomfortable (The Uncomfortables), the music was composed by Tyler Kaiser and the libretto written by Margi Preus and Jean Sramek, all of Duluth. The work was performed in 2001 and 2002.

References[edit]

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