Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable Establishes First Non-Indigenous Settlement of Chicago
Point du Sable's chief occupation seems to have been that of a trader who wandered from place to place in the customary manner, and fortunately left a record now and then.
In 1779 he was in Chicago, and in the summer of that same year he was established on the River Chemin, later known as Trail Creek, probably on the site of Michigan City- Indiana. It was at this place that he was arrested by Lieut. Bennett, who had been sent by Arent S. De Peyster of the British Army to forestall an anticipated attack on Mackinac by George Rogers Clark. Point du Sable's arrest seems to have been due to his seeming attachment to the American cause, although at the time he was in the employ of a British trader named Durand, who had undertaken to guide a British war party to the Illinois country to co-operate with Bennett. In his petition for a grant of land from the United States Government, presented in 1783, Point du Sable satisfied the Commissioners that he was a citizen of the United States. He stated that as early as 1780 he had resided at Peoria with his family and had improved a farm of thirty acres between the Old Fort and the new »ettlements of Peoria. In 1790 he was again in Chicago and probably intermittently for five or six years. In this same year, on October 4, Susanne, the natural daughter of Point du Sable and an Indian woman, married Jean Baptiste Pelletier at Cahokia, and on October 7, 1799, a child born of this union was baptized in the Old Cathedral at St. Louis. The entry states that Pelletier's spouse, Susanne Point Sable, was "Habit a Chicagou." In 1796 he appeared at Mackinac. The next record of him is as a witness or juror on September 29, 1802, in the St. Clair County, Illinois (then Indiana Territory), Court of Common Pleas.
Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable first arrived on the western shores of Lake Michigan about 1779, where he built the first permanent nonindigenous settlement, at the mouth of the river just east of the present Michigan Avenue Bridge on the north bank.
Before it was anything else, Chicago was a trading post. As its first permanent resident, du Sable operated the first fur-trading post during the two decades before his departure in 1800. Du Sable built his first house in the 1770s on the land now known as Pioneer Court, thirty years before Fort Dearborn was established on the banks of the Chicago River. By the time he sold out to John Kinzie's frontman, Jean La Lime, for 6,000 livres, his property included a house, two barns, horse drawn mill, bakehouse, poultry house, dairy and a smokehouse. His home was a 22 by 40-foot (12 m) log cabin filled with fine furniture and paintings. In 1913, Milo M. Quaife, an historical librarian with the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, discovered the bill of sale from du Sable to Jean La Lime in an archive in Detroit. This document outlined all of the property du Sable owned as well as many of his personal artifacts.
Case Study: Jean Baptiste Point DuSable