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Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor





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Peter Joseph Marie Chaumonot

CHAUMONOT, Peter Joseph Marie, French missionary, born near Chatillon sur Seine in 1611" died near Quebec, 21 February, 1693. His parents were poor vine-dressers ; but he had an uncle, a priest, who took charge of him and sent him to school, where he learned Latin and plain chant; but he fell among evil companions, who persuaded him to see the world in their company, and, with this object in view, he stole 100 sols (about a dollar) from his uncle and set out on his travels when he was a little over ten years of age. His adventures in France and Italy during the next eight or nine years are related in his autobiography, which he was ordered to write by his superiors when over eighty. Although the aged missionary looks back on them with horror, they are amusing rather than criminal. After a varied career as beggar, valet, and tutor, he was noticed by some Jesuits in Rome, and sent to their College of Fermo. He afterward returned to Rome to study theology, and while there he met with a Jesuit "relation" which treated of Father Brebeuf, and appealed for missionaries. He felt the force of the appeal as a personal call, and petitioned his superiors to allow his studies to be abridged and his ordination to take place at once, so that he might take passage in a vessel that was about to sail for Canada from Dieppe. After a three months' voyage he arrived in Quebec in August, 1639, and set out for the Huron country. Journeying for a month, he reached Lake Tsirorgi, and began his labors among the Wyandot tribes, but was not very successful

The Indians looked upon him as a sorcerer, and this idea was strengthened when the small-pox broke out among them after his arrival. Still he succeeded in establishing St. Mary's on the Wye, the first missionary settlement in the west. He was next sent to Ossossane, from which the missionaries had been driven. He spent a year among the Indians of this settlement, and was then ordered to Arendaendronnon. Here he formed a vocabulary of the dialect of the tribe, collecting the words in the cabins, and gathering materials for a philological work. He then started with Brebeuf on a journey eastward, intending to preach the gospel among the Attewandaronks, a tribe of the neutral nation dwelling on both sides of Niagara. A journey of four days brought him to the first village of that nation, named Kandoucho. He was well received; but the arrival of pagan Hurons, who said he was a magician, changed the feeling of the people, and he very narrowly escaped death. He left Kandoucho, and visited eighteen Indian towns, but met with no success, and so determined to return to Kandoucho. He fell sick on the way, and was cared for by an Indian woman in a snow village. He stayed with her twenty-five days, learning the language of the place, and was successful in adapting the dictionary and grammar of the Hurons to the dialect of this nation. On his return to the neutral nation his labors were not successful, and he left them after a stay of five months. He then went to the settlement of St. Michael, where he labored successfully until 1648, when the Christian Indians were defeated and their tribe nearly exterminated by the Iroquois. He accompanied the survivors of the disaster to St. Joseph's island in Lake Huron, where they endured fearful suffering. The French government gave them the island of Orleans, and thither Father Chaumonot accompanied them. He now compiled his grammar and dictionary for the Huron and all kindred languages. The grammar was published in 1870 by the Quebec literary and historical society. When he had organized the Indians of Orleans he went among the Iroquois of Onondaga in 1655 and preached with great success, having won the women by his denunciation of polygamy. He left this mission in 1658 and went to Montreal, where he founded in 1663 the Society of the holy family. He was then sent as military chaplain to Fort Richelieu at the mouth of the Sorel. He shortly returned to his Hurons, however, and the rest of his life was spent among them. He built the chapel of Notre Dame de Fore for their benefit, and some years later the Santa Casa of Loretto.

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM

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