Friday, October 13, 2017
Sugar Creek at last!
On June 29, 1841, the little band of missionaries: the four RSCJs, Fathers Verhaegen and Smedts, both Jesuits, and a diocesan priest, Father Francis J. Renaud boarded the Missouri river packer while a crowd of friends on the levee were there to see them off. Mother Duchesne walked up and down the deck during the four day journey; she had found new life. It took another four days to reach Sugar Creek because the Jesuits did not want to tire out the nuns. The Indians came out to meet them on horseback. Then, about a mile from the mission, 500 braves appeared in gala dress. They had bright plumes and feathers and their moccasins embroidered with porcupine quills. The nuns were given a huge reception and Mother Duchesne shook hands with all of them.
Unfortunately, no home had been prepared for the nuns. A good Indian let the nuns have his cabin which was close to the church; he went to live in a tent. His house was about 15 by 12 feet in size. One of the two chairs was reserved for Mother Duchesne. The first letter that Mother Duchesne wrote to Mother Barat was headed: "From the Tribe and Village of the Potawatomi". She wrote: "At last we have reached the country of our desires. ...The pastor does not think it wise at present to teach the children another language. ...The pastor has given us two fine cows and put at our service a pair of oxen, a good horse, and a charette." She goes on to say that it will be easy to plant a nice vegetable garden so they have nothing to complain about. They had brought with them a Negro man from St. Louis who is a carpenter but their baggage has not yet arrived so she had to use thick paper. She also admits that she has been ill again and finds it difficult to think. "This is a weakness I never experienced before and she says it accounts for the condition of her letter, but the facts are correct."