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Jesuit missionary to the American Indians; b. at Reims, 12 March, 1628; d. at Quebec, 2 July, 1691. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1646 and in 1655 set out for the Onondaga mission in Canada to devote the rest of his life to the evangelization of the savages. At the invitation of a Cayuga chieftain he set out, in 1666, for Lake Tiohero, near the present Cayuga, but his stay there was of short duration. The next year he was sent to revive the mission founded by Father Jogues among the Mohawk and, on his way, instituted the first Catholic settlement in Vermont, on Isle La Motte. Arriving at Tinnontoguen, the Mohawk capital, he rapidly acquired the language and by his courage and kindness won the respect of his savage charges. Unfortunately, the Mohawk did not readily respond to his efforts, and his chief care seems to have been to attend to the Huron captives who were already Christianized.
In October, 1668, Father Fremin proceeded to the Seneca country, but the war then being waged with the Ottawa and the Susquehanna prevented many conversions. In August, 1669, he left for Onondaga to preside at a general meeting of the missionary priests, but shortly returned to Gannougare to resume his work among the captive Huron. The high repute he had gained among the various tribes was responsible for his recall, in 1670, to take charge of La Prairie, the Christian settlement near Montreal where the converted Indians had been gathered, and it was he who placed this refuge on a solid footing and eliminated the liquor traffic. From that time on, with the exception of several voyages to France in the interest of the mission, he devoted himself exclusively to the work of preserving in the Faith those Indians who had been baptized, and, despite the persistent efforts of the tribes from which the converts came, he was able to prevent any serious defection. He died worn out by his long apostolate, having been the means of bringing over ten thousand Indians into the Church.
CAMPBELL, Pioneer Priests of North America (New York, 1908); Jesuit Relations; HOLMES in Handbook of American Indians, s.v. Caughnawaga (Washington, 1907).
Stanley J. Quinn.