Louis Hennepin was one of the more well-known explorers of the "New World" in the latter portion of the 17th century. He was born in Belgium in 1640 and later traveled with Rene' Robert, Sieur de La Salle having a background that included study and missionary work within the Cathelic church. Hennepin's first outpost in Canada was in Quebec and soon was drawn to learning the native languages that would be so vital in the months and years to come.
The most famous of Hennepin's expeditions set sail in August of 1679 when laSalle traveled the western shores of Lake Michigan eventually traveling down the Illinois River (which was so named by the young priest). As the expedition reached the mouth of the Illinois, they turned north up the Mississippi River on a "voyage of discovery".
After encountering and surviving the group's capture by a band of Issati Sioux, Hennepin returned to Rome where he died in 1701.