Along ancient trails: the Mallet expedition of 1739 by Donald J. Blakeslee

By Donald J. Blakeslee

Booklet by way of Blakeslee, Donald J.

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The journals, maps, and letters created by the explorers, traders, military men, and emigrants all help to document the precise location of the Indian trails. Few of them provide complete information for the full extent of a trail, but many describe a particular landmark or otherwise allow a segment of a trail to be pinpointed. When all of the accounts of travel along an individual trail are collated, the result is often a precise delineation of its route. Such is the case with the trails the Mallet brothers used.

Finally, to my sons, Sam and John, who accompanied me on those long, hot field trips, thanks for your help. ALONG ANCIENT TRAILS Page 1 1. THE SETTING The Great Plains The Great Plains of North America nearly bisect the continent from south to north, stretching from southern Texas to the boreal forest of Canada. To anyone entering them from east or west, the change in environment is obvious. In 1739, the West was Spanish territory, a land of forested mountains and desert valleys. Perennial streams flowing from the mountains made life possible for the Spanish colonists and their Pueblo subjects.

Bellecourt, Joseph: a French-Canadian member of the 1739-1740 expedition. Bellecourt was one of three who returned to Illinois from the Canadian River rather than going with the Mallets to New Orleans. Governor Bienville reported to the king that he had received notice from Illinois that all three men had returned safely. Beslot or Beleau, Michel: a member of the expedition of 1739-1740 and another French Canadian. Bienville lists him by his nickname, La Rose. He returned with the Mallets to New Orleans and was a member of the Fabry de la Bruyère expedition in 1741-1742.

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