The resulting journal, first printed in English in 1715 and later in original French by Pierre Margy, is the most comprehensive account available of the dramatic saga of La Salle's expedition and his colony in Texas.

Joutel's eyewitness accounts poignantly describe the colonists' day-to-day struggles against the wilderness and the coastal Indians. Encounters with unknown plants, such as cactus, and animals, such as bison, evoke the colonists' bewilderment and frustration with Texas frontier life:

That day I found myself in the middle of 5,000 to 6,000 bison. But to my great disappointment, I still did not kill any. These animals, having a very good sense of smell, could detect us and would scatter to the right and left. Meanwhile, evening was approaching and I had not killed anything. Although very fatiqued, I again appraoched a herd and again fired several shots. Not one bison fell. Should I have troubled myself uselessly? My knees were all raw from crawling about on them. Finally, when I was returning to join our people, having looked to the right and left around me, I saw a fallen bison lying on the ground.

The accounts chronicle the colonists' satisfaction in small accomplishments, such as harvesting from the small gardens, but also their bitterness over the moody and often brutal behavior of La Salle. Given Joutel's loyalty to La Salle, these ill feelings likely are underreported. The passage below foreshadows La Salle's assasination at the hands of his own men:

That seemed that La Salle had a premonition of what was to happen. He asked me if I had heard of the men contriving something among themselves or if I had noticed that they had some evil plot. I said that I had not heard anything except in certain encounters when they complained, argumentative as they often were, but that I knew of nothing else. Furthermore, as they were convinced that I would defend his interests, they would not have told me if they had some wicked design. The rest of the evening was passed in much disquiet.

In this exhibit, the translation of Joutel's journal by Johanna S. Warren, edited by William S. Foster is used: The La Salle Expedition to Texas: The Journal of Heri Joutel, 1684-1687 (Texas State Historical Association 1998, Austin).


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