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CARDINAL, Jean Marie

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CARDINAL, Jean Marie. (Lachine, Quebec, Canada, June 1, 1730-St. Louis, MO, May, 1780). Cardinal, a fur trader, traveled in what became southern Illinois and Missouri. He married a Pawnee and they moved to the area of Prairie du Chien around 1750. They were the first settlers, but the French soon established a military trading post at the site in 1755. (1)

In 1763 France lost all of its lands east of the MISSISSIPPI RIVER to England as a result of the French and Indian War. The same year, Cardinal and his partner Tibot were hired as guides by Abraham Lansing and his son. In an argument, possibly over furs, Cardinal and Tibot killed the two Lansings. (2)

Fearing the English would punish him, Cardinal fled to Prairie du Chien and with his family crossed the Mississippi into Spanish territory. He had established himself in St. Louis by 1765. In 1776 and 1777 land grants were made out to Cardinal in the St. Charles district which covered nearly the entire present state of Iowa. Cardinal is believed to have lived in the area of Dubuque between 17763 and 1780. Julien DUBUQUE found roads constructed and mines open when he later came to the site. One of Dubuque's laborers told of Cardinal working the mines. (3)

In 1780 Cardinal was one of the miners who escaped British troops who attacked the Dubuque-area mines. The British had intended to capture "rebels," turn the Native Americans in the area against the Americans, and attack Spanish settlements. (4)

The British force under the leadership of Lt. Alexander Kay moved down the Mississippi River. (5) In a daring escape from Dubuque by canoe, Cardinal warned the Spanish and French in St. Louis of an attack on their city by the English and their Native American allies. Cardinal's early warning allowed the inhabitants to properly prepare. Twenty-nine regular troops and 281 villagers repelled the attack of an estimated 1,500 enemy troops. (5)

Cardinal was captured during the battle and died of wounds inflicted while trying to escape. (6) He was buried in an unmarked grave on his property. This area is now associated with Cardinal Spring and Cardinal Avenue near Fairground Park in St. Louis. (7)




1. "The Story of Jean Marie Cardinal," The Des Moines Register, Sept. 17, 1934

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.

5. "Jean Cardinal Was the First Iowa Patriot," Telegraph Herald, August 14, 1938, p. 29. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=tttBAAAAIBAJ&sjid=3akMAAAAIBAJ&pg=3881,5481097&dq=lock+and+dam+dubuque&hl=en

6. Ibid.

7. Schake, Lowell. La Charrette: A History of the Village Gateway to the American Frontier, Lincoln, NB: Universe, 2003, p. 18

Houlette, William. Iowa: The Pioneer Heritage, Des Moines: Wallace-Homestead Book Company, 1970, p. 205