Judith and Nina Dousman
This sculpture’s theme was chosen by the artist to capture a likely moment of time in free childhood that counterbalances the often serious and sometimes tragic concerns of adult figures represented in the series. In fact, the children themselves were not to be immune from future tragedy.
Born in 1880, Nina Dousman was the second-to-youngest daughter of Nina Sturgis Dousman and Louis Dousman. In late summer, 1894, 14-year-old Nina had an accident with a curling iron and alcohol lamp that resulted in her being fatally burned.
Judith was the youngest daughter, born in 1883, and lived until 1951. The Dousman Family had an estate that included the land where the Mississippi River Sculpture Park now resides. It seems likely that these children may have indeed played upon the very ground where a life-size version of this sculpture will, hopefully, one day be installed. The Dousman estate endowed the community with their ancestral family residence, which thrives as a museum, known as “Villa Louis,” in honor of the children’s father, Louis Dousman.
This sculpture, among all the others, can be made available on request in bronze, approximately 1/5 life-size.
Louis Joliet (AKA Jolliet) was born in about 1645 in the area of Quebec. His early life consisted of musical studies and preparations for the Catholic priesthood in the Jesuit tradition. He did not enter the priesthood but left seminary work to pursue fur trading and geographic scholarship. His name is often associated with Jacques Marquette during their missionary explorations of the Mississippi (derived from Native Mesipi) River.
Their expedition, among other things, was intended to discover water routes that might connect the Gulf of Mexico with a northern route to the Pacific and thereby to the Orient. While this was not accomplished, the routes that were discovered provided for connection of the Mississippi River to the Great Lakes via Lake Michigan. Even without a Northwest Passage to the Pacific, this route was a nonetheless economic turning point for European conquest of the American continent.
Joliet was an astute diarist and map maker. Unfortunately, he had a canoe accident shortly after parting ways with Marquette in 1674. This resulted in the loss of his maps and notebooks. While he made an effort to re-create some of the writings, the historical record of the partners’ travels together came to rely more upon the works of Marquette.
After the Marquette-Joliet expeditions, Joliet outlived Marquette by about 25 years, continued his geographical studies, traded fur, and married. He became a professor and, within his lifetime, famous for his travels. He died in 1700.
Jacques Marquette, which may be recalled from 5th to 8th grade history lessons, is recognized as one of the first European explorers to visit the Mississippi River valley north of the Arkansas, up into Wisconsin. He and Louis Joliet have been recognized as the “discoverers” of the Confluence of the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers, near Prairie du Chien Wisconsin, even though many Native and other travelers had tread that ground previously since the earliest human inhabitants. His figure is slated one day to be represented by a life-size bronze at the Mississippi River Sculpture Park at Prairie du Chien. The figure shown here is one of a limited edition bronze that is about 1/4-1/5 life-size; currently available to collectors.
Jacques Marquette was born in 1637. He died far from his birthplace in Laon, France at the age of 37, from an illness while on his expedition of European discovery of the northern Mississippi River and tributaries. His remains were found, and although there had been some controversy of the exact location of his death, the grave was relocated in 1677 to St. Ignace, Michigan, where it remains today. He was a linguist and readily adapted to Native languages, most notably Huron. He was a Jesuit missionary of Catholicism and helped develop European incursions in Sault St Marie, Michigan and LaPointe, Wisconsin, among others.
Marquette is often mentioned along with his traveling companion Louis Joliet, who will be another subject of this sculpture series. Their journeys were well-chronicled and offered the first European glimpse of the upper Mississippi, through Catholic eyes of Père (Father) Marquette’s Jesuit mission. Their party was the first European one, for example, to cross the 2-mile overland portage from the Wisconsin to the Fox River, which in turn offered a waterway that ultimately connected the Mississippi to the Great Lakes by way of Lake Michigan. The significance of this moment in American continental history have had global implications.
Mastodon hunters are known to be around since at least the last Ice Age. Evidence of their being on the continent consists, for example, of a recent find in the Upper Mississippi near the Wisconsin of a mastodon skeleton with a flint tool among its bones. This sculpture is currently available as approximately 1/4 to 1/5 scale representative of the life size bronze, which is planned for future casting.
Zebulon Montgomery Pike
In 1805, Lieutenant Pike and 20 men came from St. Louis to explore the Upper Mississippi River as official representatives of the United States of America. The Louisiana Purchase of 1803 had made most of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers' drainage areas the property of the United States. There is debate about when he might have explored "Pikes Peak" in Colorado and when he was on the Iowa side of the Mississippi on the bluffs at what is now called Pikes Peak State Park. Pictured here as he might have been gazing from St. Feriole Island over to the bluffs across the river to "Pikes Peak", Iowa and in the direction of "Pikes Peak", Colorado.