An arduous journey dating back more than 350 years is probably unknown to many who live in spaces that once belonged to the Iroquois and Onondaga nations.
While numerous cars drive down Onondaga Lake Parkway daily and pass by the Ste. Marie among the Iroquois Visitor Center, little may be understood of the history that resides.
After recently hosting its annual Mid Winter Festival, the Ste. Marie Mission site's volunteers have been remembering the extensive trek taken by Jesuit Father Claude D'Ablon from Onondaga, now known as Manlius, to Quebec in March 2, 1656.
Causing the 28-day journey were years of troubling battles between the French, Huron and the Iroquois in the 1640s, when many Jesuit priests were martyred. The remaining Frenchmen retreated from their original plans to establish themselves farther south.
In hopes of beginning a permanent peace treaty, Jesuit Father Simon Le Moyne made a similar journey from Quebec to Onondaga to begin the negotiations July 2, 1654. Le Moyne stayed for more than one month before returning to Quebec.
Leader of the Iroquois, Chief Garakontie, traveled to Quebec to invite the Jesuits to build a mission in the territory of the Onondaga in the summer of 1655.
The French chose to restrain from sending any sizeable contingent on the journey because of mistrust of the Iroquois.
At this time, the French had been waiting almost three years for a clear response on a peace treaty with the Iroquois. In order to receive full concession for the mission to be built, D'Ablon and Jesuit Father Chaumonot were rushed to leave Onondaga with a settlement party and travel to Montreal.
Father D'Ablon's words were captured and placed within "Relations," which were highly popular among the Europeans as intelligent and informative writings.
*"Therefore, fearing to lose so favorable an opportunity, we sought every possible way to send word to Kebek of their state of mind, and to hasten the coming of the French. But no one would undertake to conduct one of us to Kebek, fearing to let slip the season for securing the beavers and a while year's supplies; for just then all young men were departing for the chase. We despaired of being able to make the journey, although it was absolutely necessary for our settlement. For more than two months we had been using all sorts of expedients to gain our end, but in vain."