Chicago Metro History Fair
References to Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable
About 1779 Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable, an African American from Haiti, built the first permanent dwelling in Chicago. His large house and accompanying buildings stood on the north bank of the Chicago River near today’s Michigan Avenue Bridge.
Notes about his life and place in Chicago history are available in the Encyclopedia of Chicago, “Case Study: Jean Baptiste Point DuSable."
Although there is not a large body of primary sources on DuSable, references to him can be found in many documents from the 1700s. Virginia Julien and Lorraine Passovoy have assembled these references in their The Black Root: Documents of Pointe Sable and Chicago. N.p.: V. Julien, 1983. F548.4.P66J85 1983.
References can be found, too, in other works, such as:
Heward, Hugh. “Journal” as quoted in Commission on Chicago Landmarks. Site of the Du Sable / Kinzie House. Chicago: The Commission, 1977, which contains the following passages: [original spelling and punctuation maintained]
Monday May 10th, 1790
Stopt at Point sables anchord with the Cannots [boats] & began to hull Corn & bake Bread, & arranged everything for the next Morning . . . Left the cannots at point Sables & took his Purogue [canoe] bought of him 41 lb Flour and baked in Bread . . . and 29 ld pork . . . & paid him with 13 yds 4/4 cotton.