Tonty, Henri de
Henri de Tonty, explorer, VOYAGEUR
(b 1649 or 1650; d at Ft Louis-de-la-Louisiane Sept 1704). He was the son of Lorenzo de Tonty, inventor of the "tontine" system of life annuity. He served in the French army and navy and had his right hand blown away by a grenade. In 1678 he travelled to New France as lieutenant to LA SALLE
and supervised construction of Fort Conti and the bark GRIFFON
(1679) on the Niagara River. He led a party to the Illinois River, helping to build Fort Miami and then Fort Crèvecoeur (1680), but while he was absent from Crèvecoeur, his men mutinied, destroying the buildings. Tonty also survived an Iroquois attack, a canoe wreck near Green Bay and near starvation. In 1681 he led an advance party to Chicago portage and was rejoined by his commander La Salle; the expedition reached the Gulf of Mexico 7 April 1682. In 1686 Tonty and LaSalle claimed the territory for the French and helped DENONVILLE
in his campaign against the Iroquois by organizing the Illinois in a rearguard action, and in 1690 he was granted the fur-trading concession after La Salle's murder. In 1698 Tonty returned to the Mississippi, under Pierre Le Moyne d' IBERVILLE
's command, working to expand trade, but he died of yellow fever. The Indians called him bras de fer
as much for his tenacity and courage as for his hook-shaped artificial arm.