Explorer. A French Jesuit missionary, he discovered of the Mississippi River. Born into a French family distinguished for its civic and military services, at the age of seventeen he began his studies and became a Jesuit priest. In 1666 he was sent to Canada as a missionary to the Indians. His desire for more Indian converts sent him on an exploration journey through Illinois and Michigan, discovering along the way the Mississippi River. He especially enjoyed the wilds of northern Michigan and called the area home. It is a consensus that he died of a protracted fight with tuberculosis near the present town of Ludington, Michigan, however, one needs to flip a coin to find his burial place. Four Michigan towns claim this distinction all with credence. The most popular: he died at Ludington so he was buried there. In 1923 the priest and civic leader from Detroit Gabriel Richard identified bones found there as Marquette's. A silver cross marks the spot. Frankfort, a town 50 miles up the coast from Ludington claims the honor and has a marker and a rustic cross to mark the site. St. Ignace the site of his mission claims the place and has a cross on a hill overlooking the city to mark the site. The final claim is Mackinac Island. Of course, they have staked a claim also with markers. Earlier in his life, Marquette, fearful of being forgotten after his death, had ordered two French companions to "mark my grave with a cross." He need not have been concerned: With a city and a county in Michigan and a major Wisconsin university named after him - not to mention countless streets and even an old railroad, his wish was fulfilled.
Bio by: Paul S.