[DETRIOT IMPRINT]. BERQUIN, Arnaud (1747-1791). The Family Book, or Children's Journal. Consisting of moral and Entertaining Stories, with Instructive Conversations on those subjects which daily occur in Nature & Society... Le Livre de Famille, ou Journal des enfans...Nouvelle edition. Detroit [Michigan Territory]: Printed by Theophilus Mettez, 1812.
2 vols in one, 8o (180 x 107mm.) 252, 232pp. English and French text on facing pages. (Paper flaw at pp.120-121 in vol.1 with loss of several words in three lines, a few minor stains, but otherwise in fine condition.) Contemporary mottled calf, flat spine with gilt-lettered JOURNAL DES ENFANS label (Corners slightly rubbed). Quarter red morocco folding clamshell box. Provenance: Otto Orren Fisher of Detroit, bookplate.
FIRST AMERICAN EDITION, PRINTED AT THE FAMED MISSION PRESS OF FATHER GABRIEL RICHARD (1767-1832), a seminal figure in the history of frontier Michigan. He attended seminaries in his native France and after ordination emigrated to Baltimore. Bishop John Carroll assigned Richard to the Ohio Valley, "to work among the French, half-breeds and Indians with missionary centers at Prairie du Rocher, Kaskaskia, and Cahokia" (DAB). In 1798 he established a mission at Detroit and became vicar-general, ministering to the Indians of the entire region. His parish embraced all of present-day Michigan and much of the state of Wisconsin. After the destruction of Detroit by fire in 1805, Richard was a leader in its rebuilding, establishing primary schools, academies and a chapel. In 1809 he imported from Baltimore a printing press and a printer. Among issues of this frontier press was the Michigan Essay or Impartial Observer, the first Catholic newspaper in the United States and the first newspaper of any kind in Michigan Territory. Theophilus Mettez was the third of several printeres hired by Richard; the press also issued a number of surprisingly ambitious bi-lingual volumes, including the Epistles and Gospels (1812), containing some 800 pages, and the present extensive collection of Berquin's moralizing stories for children. In later years Richard was a founder and professor of the University of Michigan and in 1823 was elected to represent Michigan Territory in the House of Representatives, the only Catholic priest to have served as a member of Congress. Shaw and Shoemaker 24811; McMurtrie 50.