Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Jean-Baptiste Faribault

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 5
Jean-Baptiste Faribault

by Francis J. Schaefer


A trader with the Indians and early settler in Minnesota, U.S.A.; b. 19 October, 1774, at Berthier, Lower Canada; d. at Faribault, Minnesota, 20 August, 1860. His father Barthélemy Faribault, a lawyer of Paris, France, settled in Canada towards the middle of the eighteenth century and served as military secretary to the French army in Canada. After the occupation of the country by the English he retired to private life in Berthier and he held the office of notary public. Young Jean-Baptiste received a good school education, and after several years of mercantile employment at Quebec, entered the service of the Northwest Fur Company. In May, 1798, he went with others to the island of Michilimackinac or Mackinac, one of the depots of this company. For over ten years he traded with the Pottowatomic Indians at Kankakee, with the Dakota or the Sioux, Indians at Redwood, on the Des Moines river, and at Little Rapids, on the St. Peter or Minnesota river. During his residence at Little Rapids, in 1805, he was married to Pelagia Hanse, a half-breed daughter of Major Hanse. In 1809, he settled in the small village of Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, and commenced trading, on his own account, with the Indian tribes of the Winnebagoes, Foxes, and Sioux. In addition to that he conducted an exchange of lead with Julien Dubuque, at the point now occupied by the city of that name. During the war with England (1812-14) Faribault refused to enlist in the English army, and suffered imprisonment and the loss of all his goods in consequence. After the conclusion of the war, in 1815, he became a citizen of the United States, and recommenced his trade at Prairie du Chien. In 1819, he removed to Pike Island in the Mississippi River, and in 1826 to the village of St. Peter or Mendota, Minnesota, opposite the military post of Fort Snelling. There he remained until the last years of his life, which were spent with his children in the town of Faribault, Minnesota. A county in southern Minnesota was named after him, and the city of that name after his eldest son. Faribault was always kind and generous to the Indians, and tried to elevate them by teaching them the useful arts of life, and by instilling into them the principles of Christianity. He was much attached to the Catholic faith of his childhood and presented a house for a chapel to Father Lucien Galtier, the first resident missionary in Minnesota (1840).

FRANCIS J. SCHAEFER