Jean Baptiste Point du Sable has been recognized as the first permanent settler (1790) and “Founder” of Chicago. Little is known of his birth or early life prior to 1770. It is presumed that he was born before 1750 based on accounts written about him by people who knew him. Some have speculated that he was born in Haiti and educated in France.
In 1779, British commander at Fort Michilimackinac Arent DePeyster said DuSable was a “handsome negro” and “well educated” who lived in Chicago.
DuSable married a Potawatomi woman Kitihawa in 1788. They had two children Jean and Suzanne. DuSable conducted a very lucrative and successful fur trade with the local tribes and traders in the Chicago area and presumably all of the Illinois Country.
It is possible that a recognized leader in the Chicago fur trade like DuSable would have had contact with and possibly employed other trappers in the area.
A French trapper by the name of DuPazhe was located in Will County near the conjunction of the East and West branches of a river that would later bear his name. Even less is known about this trapper.
Employees and traders with the John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Company Jean Baptiste Beaubien (came to Chicago in 1804) and Gurdon Hubbard (came to Chicago in 1818) recalled the “old French trapper” DuPazhe. Perhaps through a typo or being anglicized the name DuPazhe is now known and written as DuPage.
Did DuSable trade with DuPage along the banks of the DuPage River? Did DuPage haul his furs to Chicago?
By the time Illinois acquired statehood in 1818, both DuPage and DuSable had left the area. DuSable left Illinois in 1800 for Missouri where he died in August 1818 four months before Illinois statehood.
No one knows what happened to DuPage whose memory is kept alive in the river, township and county that bear his name.