Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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GRAVIER, James, missionary, born in France; died in Mobile, Alabama, in 1708. He was a member of the Society of Jesus, and was sent as a missionary to Canada, but it is uncertain at what time. He was stationed at Sillery in the autumn of 1684 and the ensuing spring, but must have gone west soon afterward, as he was on the Illinois mission in 1688, and succeeded Allouez about 1690 as superior. He was appointed vicar-general by Bishop de Saint Vallier in the following year. He has left a journal of his mission extending from 20 March, 1693, to 15 February, 1694. He built a chapel outside the French fort for the convenience of the Miami Indians on St. Joseph's River, among whom he labored with great success. He also visited the Peorias, but without result. His chief success was with the Kaskaskias, whose chief he converted, and of whom he baptized 206 in less than eight months. He also planned missions to the Cahokia and Tamarois bands of Indians, which he subsequently carried out, as well as to the Osages and Missouris, who sent ambassadors to him. In 1696 he went to Montreal, but soon returned and devoted himself to the more distant missions. In 1705 some of the Illinois, instigated by their medicine-men, attacked him, and he was severely wounded. The missionary proceeded to Paris for treatment, but obtained little relief. He then went to Louisiana, and landed at Isle Massacre, 12 February, 1708. His wound, aggravated by his long voyage, proved fatal soon afterward. Father Gravier was the first to analyze the Illinois language, and compile its grammar, which subsequent missionaries brought to perfection.
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