DELHALLE (De la Halle), CONSTANTIN, priest, Recollet, founder and parish priest of Sainte-Anne du Détroit; killed 1 June 1706 at Detroit.
Tanguay has confused Delhalle with Father Nicolas-Bernardin Constantin. For his part Charlevoix*, although distinguishing him from Constantin, calls him Nicolas-Bernardin-Constantin De Lhalle. Furthermore, the spelling of his name varies a great deal over the years: Dehalle (Simple Bocquet), De L’halle and Delahalle (Bonaventure Liénard), de L’Halle (Gosselin), Challe (Massicotte), de LHalle (Jouve).
According to Shea, Delhalle arrived in Canada on 1 June 1696. He accompanied Lamothe Cadillac [Laumet] at the time of the creation of Detroit, and himself founded the first church in Michigan, which he dedicated to St Anne on 26 July 1701. During a council of the Hurons held in the fort at Detroit on 4 Dec. 1701, in the absence of Delhalle, Cadillac asserted “that the Black Robes [the Jesuits] do not speak effectively today because they are vexed at my bringing with me a Grey Robe [a Recollet], and because priests are to come who have white collars [priests from the Missions Étrangères]. This annoys them because they would like to be the only ones.”
Meanwhile Father Constantin had returned from the pays d’en haut, for we find in the parish registers of Champlain a certificate of baptism dated 25 Sept. 1701 and signed by him, which is evidence of his passing through that parish. In June 1702 he was at Trois-Rivières, where he officiated as the parish priest. He apparently returned then to Detroit, since Cadillac stressed that he was there in a letter dated 25 September of the same year.
On 5 Oct. 1703 a fire destroyed the chapel at Detroit and Father Constantin’s house, as well as the residences of Cadillac and Henri Tonty. The registers of this parish were also destroyed. The first act in the new register was the certificate of baptism of Marie-Thérèse, Cadillac’s daughter, which was dated 2 Feb. 1704. “This register, containing only three pages, has been preserved, and is the oldest register of the first French parish in the West . . .”
Father Constantin was present at several councils held by the Indians at Detroit, in particular that of 8 June 1704, when the Indians accused the governor, Rigaud de Vaudreuil, of having deceived them and considered abandoning the post. On 8 March 1706 Le Pesant, the chief of the Ottawas du Sable, complained of the murders committed by the Shawnees, the Sioux, and the Miamis and wanted to go to war against them.
Father Constantin was killed on 1 June of the same year. Charlevoix recounts the event in these words: “The Recollet Father Constantin, chaplain of the fort, was walking in his garden, ignorant of all that was going on. Some Ottawas seized and bound him; but John le Blanc [Outoutagan], one of their chiefs, who had taken part in the assembly at Montreal, where the general peace was signed, unbound him, and begged him to go and tell the Commandant that they had no designs on the French, and that he besought him to stop firing on them. As that religious was about entering the fort, some flying Miamis overtook him, and a volley of musketry was fired upon them by Ottawas who perceived them. Father Constantin was struck and fell dead on the spot.”
His body was buried in the cemetery of his parish. A certain veneration became attached to his name (miracles have even been attributed to his intercession), and the Recollets who succeeded one another at this post, particularly Fathers Simple Bocquet and Bonaventure Liénard, took special care of his mortal remains.
AJTR, Registres d’état civil de Champlain. AN, Col., C11A, 26, f.106; C11E, 14, f.125. Charlevoix, History (Shea), V, 185–86. Découvertes et établissements des Français (Margry), V, 190–91, 259–61. PAC Report, 1899, Supp., 45. “Le récollet Constantin Delhalle,” BRH, XX (1914), 92. Tanguay, Répertoire du clergé, 78. Gosselin, L’Église du Canada, III, 334–36. J. G. Shea, History of the Catholic Church in the United States (4v., New York, 1886–92), I, 620–24; History of the Catholic missions among the Indian tribes of the United States (New York, 1855), 376. The American Cath. Hist. Researches (Philadelphia), XIII (1896). É.-Z. Massicotte, “Les deux Pères de l’Halle,” BRH, VIII (1902), 149–50. N. Saint-Pierre, “Lamothe-Cadillac et la fondation de Détroit,” BRH, XIX (1913), 129–51.