Muskegon’s First Pioneer and Settler Experience

Jean Baptiste is thought to have been the first pioneer of Muskegon in 1812 (Holt pp. 5). Recollect was a French Canadian fur trader that “established the first trading post on Muskegon Lake,” (Ibid pp. 5) which remained in operation for nearly twenty four years. The second trading post established in Muskegon was created by another Frenchman, Pierre Constant, who “occupied the post until his death in 1828,” (Ibid pp. 5). The third trading post to be created by 1830 was operated by Joseph Daily, in which he operated the post for nearly four years before selling it to a man named Louis B. Bajdeau (Ibid pp. 5).

Although a number of Frenchmen may have spent a brief period of time in Muskegon, some permanently settled in the area. The majority of these settlers made their living trading goods with the Indians or working in saw mills (Ibid pp. 12). According to Muskegon Historian Henry Holt, Lewis Baddeau, a Montreal native, was one of the first settlers of Muskegon in 1834 (Ibid pp. 12). Joseph Troutier is thought of as the second permanent settler of Muskegon. Troutier created a successful trading post, built of hewn timber, that also functioned as his home (Ibid pp. 13). Although a number of scholars disagree, Troutier claimed that “[he] and [his] wife were the first white man [and woman] in Muskegon,” (Ibid pp. 13).