Many of us already know about the first man to permanently settle in Chicago at the mouth of the river. Jean Baptiste Point Du Sable is credited to be first non-native settler and founder of this great city, but there were a couple of previous European settlers to come to be the first to explore it. About a hundred years before Jean Baptiste would reside on the river, Jacques Marquette from France and Louis Jolliet from Quebec traveled through the territory and recognized its significance.
Jolliet left Quebec after coming back from studying in France to trade with Native. Following a year he meets Marquette, a Jesuit missionary and the two begin work together. In 1673 they both gather a group of men and head to explore the Mississippi towards the Golf of Mexico. At Arkansas, they turned back toward the Great Lakes fearing a run in with Spaniard Colonists after finding many Natives with European trinkets.
On their way back they found their way to the Illinois River where they learned of a shorter route to the Great Lakes. They reached the Great Lakes at what today is Chicago, by way of the Chicago Portage. Later the Jolliet and Marquette would split and Marquette would head back to Illinois with his men. In 1674 they would be the first to spend a winter in what would be Chicago today. Marquette would die a year later near Starved Rock at the age of 37 from dysentery acquired by illness from the Mississippi travel.