Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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BARAGA, Frederick, R.C. bishop, born in Treffen, Carniola, 29 June 1797; died in Marquette, Mich., 19 January 1868. His family, a younger branch of the house of Hapsburg, was the most distinguished in Illyria. He began his studies in the College of Leibac, the capital of his native province, where he learned to speak French, Italian, and German fluently, in addition to the ordinary branches. At the end of his course he went to Vienna to study law, and after graduation, in 1821, determined to devote himself to the priesthood. He entered the ecclesiastical seminary of Leibac, and was ordained in 1823. He exercised his ministry for the next seven years in Carniola, and, in the interval of his missionary duties, composed works of devotion in the Sclavonic dialect for the people. The present improved condition of this language is chiefly attributed to the efforts of Father Baraga. Having determined on spending his life among the Indians of the United States, he transferred his estates to his brothers, reserving to himself an annuity of $300, and arrived in New York in December 1830. He spent some months in Ohio, studying English and the Ottawa dialect, and set out in May for Arbre Croche, a village of Ottawa Indians on the peninsula of Michigan. The inhabitants, although they had relapsed into barbarism, retained some traditions of the Jesuits of the 17th century, and received Father Baraga with welcome, and under his guidance the community entered upon the public practice of a Christian life. In a little more than a year he built a Church and two schools, and had an Indian congregation of more than 700. He next extended his labors as far as the Castor islands and beyond Lake Michigan, erecting several Churches, as well as schools, in Green Bay and St. Joseph's. In 1832 he published at Detroit a prayer-and hymn-book in the Ottawa language, the first of a remarkable series of works in the Indian dialects, which have been found very useful by philologists. He visited Grand River in the spring of 1833, and baptized more than 100 of the natives; but his efforts were counteracted by the white liquor-dealers and the Indians whom they had demoralized. His enemies petitioned the govern-meat for his removal, and, although he was sustained by the governor of Michigan, he was forced to seek other fields. He began his labors among the Chippewas at: Lapointe in 1835, and continued them successfully for eighteen years. His success was mainly owing to the assistance he received from the Leopoldine society in his native country. He next visited the Indians of Fond du Lac, seventy miles from Lapointe, and the Indians of Bad river, seventeen miles to the south, both of whom led a roving life. During the winter of 1836-'37 he traveled six miles every day to instruct them, on their return to their wigwams, until he had them all ready to receive baptism. During this period he also wrote the "Ojibway Prayer- and Hymn-Book and Catechism "; the " Extracts of the History of the Old and New Testaments, with the Gospels of the Year," in the same dialect; "The History, Character, Manners, and Customs of the North American Indians," in German; and a devotional work for his countrymen in Sclavonic.. He went to Europe in 1837 to collect money for his mission, and was so successful that he was also enabled to have his Indian books printed in Paris. On his return to the United States he was able, with the means in hand, to conduct his operations more systematically. In 1843, as the missions he had established no longer needed his personal supervision, he resolved to make the "Ante "*an old trading-post of the American Fur Company, between Pointe Abbaye and Keweenau Point*the centre of his labors. The Indians here were steeped in idolatry and intemperance. But, though threats were made against his life, he succeeded in converting some of their medicine men, and this was followed by the conversion of many others, tie built a Church and parsonage, erected thirty houses for his converts, and purchased a large tract of land, on which he located them. In 1850 all the Indians had become Christians, and so prosperous that numerous families came to settle on the Ance. Here he wrote his grammar and dictionary of the Otchipwe (Chippeway) language (1851-'53), perhaps the most important contribution to Indian philology made hitherto. The demand for his Indian books in the United States and Canada contributed materially to his resources, and enabled him to increase still further the village on the Ante. The discovery of the copper mines on the upper peninsula of Michigan in 1845 added to Father Baraga's difficulties. A large mining population from all parts of the world was scattered among his Indian villages, and he found it necessary to obtain more priests. For this purpose, as well as to secure the publication of his works, he went to Cincinnati in 1853, where he lectured on the mining resources of the upper peninsula., and on the harvest that was open for missionary zeal there. In November of the same year he was made vicar-apostolic of upper Michigan. In 1854 he went to Europe to procure missionaries, and returned with twelve priests. He also introduced the brothers and sisters of Saint, Francis, and entrusted them with the education of the Indians. In 1856 Saut St. Mary was erected into an Episcopal see, and Dr. Baraga was appointed its bishop in the following year. The see having been transferred to Marquette in 1865, he was created bishop of Marquette and Saut St. Mary. His health began to fail, but his brethren could not prevail on him to moderate his austerities or slacken his labors. He slept on the ground, and often walked forty miles a day on snow-shoes when visiting his Indians. He was stricken with apoplexy while in attendance on the council of Baltimore in 1866, and returned to his diocese broken in health, but continued to perform his ministerial duties till a few days before his death.
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