Saturday, July 23, 2016

Great Uncle Laurent a Voyageur to the Country of the Illinois and Louisiana

Laurent Barette -- my 8th great-uncle -- was born about 1666 in Trois Rivieres, Quebec, Canada; and died about 1725 in Cap De La Madeleine, Champlain, Quebec, Canada.

Laurent was the son of my 8th great-grandparents: Guillaume Barette, born 3 APR 1633 in Belizeville En Caux, Eure, Haute-Normandie, France; and died 21 JUL 1717 in LaPrairie, Quebec, Canada AND Louise Charrier, born 1643 in Luçon, Eure-et-Loir, Centre, France; and died 1706 in LaPrairie, Quebec, Canada


Henri de Tonty, voyageur, trading post commander, officer in the colonial regular troops and lieutenant to René-Robert Cavelier de La Salle.

In November word reached Tonty that La Salle was in the Gulf of Mexico; on 16 Feb. 1686 he set out with 25 Frenchmen and 4 Indians to join him. La Salle was supposed to be setting up a colony at the Mississippi’s mouth, but when Tonty reached there (sometime between the 8th and 13th of April) he “learned nothing of M. de La Salle except that some Indians had seen him set sail and proceed southward.” Tonty dispatched canoes to the east and west, “to see if they could discover anything.” Having found no sign of him after each had sailed “about thirty leagues” and being obliged to turn back “for want of fresh water,” Tonty decided to return upriver: “I proposed to my men, that . . . we should follow the coast as far as Menade [Manhattan], and by this means . . . arrive shortly at Montreal . . . part of my men . . . were opposed . . . , so I decided to return the way I came.”


16 February 1686 – Henri Tonty and the following men left Fort Saint Louis to search for La Salle: Daniel Joseph Amiot, André Babeu, Laurent (Couture) Baret, Louis Baron, Vallier Beaufils, François Bisaillon, Pierre Bisaillon, Michel Boyer, Jacques Caillas, Joseph Charbonneau, Jean Couture, René Cuillerier, Charles Delaunay, Joseph Dubos, Martin Faller, Jacques Filiatrault, Jean Filiatrault, Pierre Lafontaine, Jean Lorrain/Laurin, Robert Marchand, Jean Michel, Jean Baptiste Nolan, Vital Oriot, Louis Paquet/Pasquier, Mathieu Perrin, Jean Rouleau, Mathurin Rousseau, Jean Roy, four Shawnee and five Illinois. Tonty took possession of the true mouth of the Mississippi/Colbert on 13 April 1686, but found no sign of La Salle even after he had dispatched canoes to the east and west about 30 leagues. After the canoes returned because they had no fresh water, Tonty proposed that they go back to Montréal via canoe by following the coast to Manhattan but his men did not agree with this option As Tonty and his men travelled north on the Mississippi on their return voyage, Tonty moved the King’s arms that La Salle had planted on his 1682 voyage five leagues farther north. He made peace with the Quinipissa (a tribe that joined with the Mougoulascha tribe) and left a letter for La Salle with the chief. Ten of his men asked for a settlement on the Arkansas River on land that La Salle had granted to Tonty. Tonty granted the request to some of them, including Jean Couture.

SOURCE (above): French-Canadian Exploration, Missionary Work, and Fur Trading in Hudson Bay, the Great Lakes, and
Mississippi Valley During the 17th Century – Part 8 – 1686 to December 1694


The Illinois Country (French: Pays des Illinois) -- sometimes referred to as Upper Louisiana (French: la Haute-Louisiane; Spanish: Alta Luisiana) -- was a vast region of New France in what is now the Midwestern United States. While these names generally referred to the entire Upper Mississippi River watershed, French colonial settlement was concentrated along the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers in what is now the U.S. states of Illinois and Missouri, with outposts in Indiana. Explored in 1673 from Green Bay to the Arkansas River by the Canadien expedition of Louis Joliet and Jacques Marquette, the area was claimed by France. It was settled primarily from the Pays d'en Haut in the context of the fur trade. The French name, Pays des Illinois, means "Land of the Illinois [plural]" and is a reference to the Illinois Confederation, a group of related Algonquian native peoples.


Agreement between Monsieur de la Forest and Dumay, accounting both for himself and Pichart. Before Antoine Adhemar, recorder, notary, and scrivener of the Isle of Montreal, residing at Villemarie, and the witnesses named at the end, were present in their own persons, the Sieur Francois de la Forest, captain in the detachment of the marine, on the one part, and Francois Dumay, acting both for himself and for Louis Pichart, voyageurs, at present in this city, on the other part, which parties of their own free will and voluntarily have in good faith covenanted and agreed as follows : that is to say, the said Dumay, for himself and for the party above named, obligates himself to take for the said Sieur de la Forest, one thousand weight of merchandise as far as Fort St. Louis in the country of the Illinois on the stipulation that the said Sieur de la Forest shall furnish them a canoe and provisions such as are customarily furnished to voyageurs as far as the said Fort St. Louis ; and in case there is no water in the river of the Illinois to pass with their canoe, the said Sieur de la Forest promises to have them aided in carrying or dragging the said merchandise as far as the said Fort St. Louis ; and this is in further consideration of the sum of 600 livres, that is to say 300 livres each, which the said Sieur de la Forest promises and obliges himself to give and pay to them at the said Fort St. Louis in beaver whenever they shall have arrived there with the said merchandise. This payment of the said 600 livres in beaver the said Dumay and Pichart may load in the canoe that they are to bring back, without prejudice to the said parties from another agreement made with Monsieur de Tonti for their return, which shall retain its force and effect ; and further the said Sieur de la Forest permits the said Dumay and Pichart to carry to the said country of the Illinois up to the value of the sum of 100 livres for the two of them on the stipulation that they furnish the said Sieur de la Forest before their departure a statement of the merchandise and other things that they shall carry and embark in the said canoe ; these goods they shall trade as seems good to them and they may carry in their said canoe the peltries that they obtain in the country of the Illinois to the amount or partial amount of the said merchandise ; and in default of a statement by the said Dumay and Pichart of what they carry to the said country they shall not be permitted to carry anything there at all. For thus, etc., promising, etc., obliging, etc., and of the said notary, August 19, 1687, in the morning, in the presence of Sieur Jean Ouenneville, usher of this jurisdiction, and Laurent Barette, of Cap de la Madeleine, witnesses, undersigned with the said Sieur de la Forest and the notary. The said Dumay has declared that he does not know how to sign when interrogated according to the ordinance.

Laurent Barette
J. Quenneville
F. de la Forest
Adhemar. notary

August 19, 1687
Agreement between Monsieur de la Forest and Barette. Before Antoine Adhemar, recorder, notary, and scrivener of the Isle of Montreal, residing at Villemarie, and the witnesses below named, were present in person Sieur Francois de la Forest, captain in the detachment of the marine, on one part, and Laurent Barette, of Cap de la Madeleine, voyageur at present in this city, on the other part, which parties of their own free will and voluntarily have in good faith covenanted and agreed as follows : that is to say, that the said Barette promises and engages himself to aid in taking a canoe loaded with a thousand weight from Lachine to Fort St. Louis in the country of the Illinois with any other man the said Sieur de la Forest shall assign to him, and to aid in his own person on his return in bringing down a canoe loaded with peltries for the said Sieur de la Forest, on the stipulation that the said Sieur de la Forest shall furnish provisions and a canoe to go to the said Fort St. Louis and for his return according to what is customarily done for voyageurs. And during the sojourn of the said Barette in the country of the Illinois, he shall subsist himself at his cost and expense, and in case there is not enough water in the river of the Illinois to float a canoe, the said Sieur de la Forest promises to furnish people to help in carrying or drawing the said merchandise at his cost and expense; and further the said Sieur de la Forest promises to give and pay to the said Barette for his voyage, going and returning from the said country of the Illinois, the sum of 300 liwes in beaver at the said Fort St. Louis when the said Barette shall arrive there. Further, the said Sieur de la Forest permits the said Barette to carry to the country of the Illinois up to the sum of 100 livres of merchandise and other things in order to have provisions for his support during the stay that he shall be obliged to make in the said country from his arrival until his departure; and if he trades the merchandise and other things he may carry to the said country of the Illinois, he shall be bound to give one list to the said Sieur de la Forest and to keep another copy of it endorsed by the Sieur de la Forest ; lacking this, the aforesaid permission shall be voidied  It is further allowed that the said Barette shall load into the canoe in which he shall come down, the peltries which he shall receive at the said fort for the said 300 livres payment for his voyage, as well as those for which he barters the said merchandise, as also a packet of beaver which he has at the said country of the Illinois, without any deductions from the said sum of 300 livres. For thus, etc., promising, etc., obligating, etc., waiving, etc., made and passed at Villemarie in the office of the said notary, August 19, 1687, in the forenoon, in the presence of the Sieur Jean Ouenneville and Louis Gillet, residents in this city, witnesses, who have signed with the said parties and the notary, after hearing it read according to the ordinance.

F. de la Forest 
Laurent Barette 
J. Quenneville
Adhemar, notary

I, the undersigned, give permission to the said Barette to carry to the said country of the Illinois besides the 100 livres granted him by the aforesaid account, the sum of fifty livres to have provisions or to trade. Done on this last of July, 1688.

F. DE la Forest

SOURCE (above): 
(1) Collections of the Illinois State Historical Library - THE FRENCH FOUNDATIONS 1680-1693
(2) Fur Trade Contracts during the French Regime Researched by Diane Wolford Sheppard

Laurent Barrette's two brothers were:

Jacques Barette -- my 8th great-uncle -- born abt 1668 in Trois-Rivières, Quebec, Canada; and died abt 1691 in Champlain, Québec, Canada. He is reported to have been a voyageur and fur trader in Illinois.

+ Guillaume Barrette -- my 7th great-grandfather -- (the first notary Royal de la Seignerie de LaPrairie), born 27 MAY 1678 in Cap-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec, Canada; died 7 JAN 1745 in LaPrairie-de-la-Madeleine, Québec.

Laurent's tales of adventure probably inspired future generations of voyageurs:

In truth the life of a voyageur was filled with backbreaking toil -- in the sometimes almost inhuman conditions of the frontier.  The journey from Lachine to the head of Lake Superior alone took seven to eight weeks, so it must have taken twice that long just to reach the "County of the Illinois"

Danger was at every turn for the voyageur, not just because of exposure to outdoor living, but also because of the hard work. 

Canoes were often damaged on rocks in white water.  Swift flowing waters with dangerous rapids could cause canoes to overturn.  Drowning was common, along with broken limbs, compressed spines, hernias, and rheumatism. 

Canoes had to be portaged (carried) around waterfalls and impassable rapids.  Some portages were measured in miles, along bushy trails, up creviced cliffs and through bogs -- often in knee-deep mud, where men slithered over slimy boulders and stumbled on tree roots.

Voyageurs encountered impassable portages, rough weather, winds, gales, and freezing cold.
Ambushes from aboriginal peoples sometimes controlled live and death.

Wild animals could also be hazardous.  There's an old saying, "voyageurs never met a small bear, tame moose, or a wolf that wasn't snarling with blood lust."  When they floated down the rivers on the Great Plains they had to deal with herds of thousands of buffalo.

Swarms of black flies and mosquitoes, were often kept away from men sleeping with a smudge fire, which in turn caused respiratory, sinus and eye problems.  Voyageurs sometimes applied an Indian remedy -- ointment made from bear grease and skunk urine -- to rid themselves of the swarms that followed them.

Yet the beautiful scenery, fascinating customs and manners of native peoples, and the opportunity to make a lucrative income from fur trading must have enticed young men to leave their farming jobs at home and to seek their fortunes in the woods.

Pierre Barette dit Courville -- my 7th great-uncle -- born 29 JAN 1708 in Cap-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec, Canada; died  MAY 1755 in St Constant, Lapraire, Quebec.  He was the son of my 7th great-grandparents: Guillaume Barrette, born 27 MAY 1678 in Cap-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec, Canada; died  7 JAN 1745 in LaPrairie-de-la-Madeleine, Québec AND LaPrairie, born 27 JUL 1683 in Montréal, Quebec, Canada; died  8 MAY 1719 in Montréal, Quebec, Canada.

2 juin 1734 - Engagement de Pierre Barette, de la prairie de la Madeleine, à Michel Gamelin, faisant tant pour lui que pour Pierre Gamelin, son frère, pour faire le voyage à Michilimakinac, aider à y monter un canot de marchandises et le redescendre en la présente année chargé de pelleteries)

5 juin 1745 - Permis du gouverneur de Beauharnois au sieur Rivard de partir de Montréal avec un canot équipé de sept hommes pour se rendre au poste de Michillimakinac. Défense au sieur Rivard de faire la traite ailleurs qu'au poste de Michilimackinac et ses dépendances.

Rôle des engagés du dit canot: Joseph Jolier (Joliet?), Bourgeois, associé; Pierre Barette, Joseph Rhéaume, François Cardinal, Augustin Baret (Barrette?), Pierre Desnoyers, de LaPrairie; Jacques Belestre, de Maskinongé.

Augustin Barrette -- my 7th great-uncle -- b.21 JAN 1719 in Canada; died  abt 1771 in LaPrairie, Quebec, Canada. He was another son of my 7th great-grandparents: Guillaume Barrette, born 27 MAY 1678 in Cap-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec, Canada; died  7 JAN 1745 in LaPrairie-de-la-Madeleine, Québec AND Jeanne Gagné, born 27 JUL 1683 in Montréal, Quebec, Canada; died  8 MAY 1719 in Montréal, Quebec, Canada.

14 juin 1751 - Engagement de Augustin Barette aux s" Lemoine Despins frères pour aller à Michilimackinac - Étude Adhémar.) 

(5 juin 1745 - Permis du gouverneur de Beauharnois au sieur Rivard de partir de Montréal avec un canot équipé de sept hommes pour se rendre au poste de Michillimakinac. Défense au sieur Rivard de faire la traite ailleurs qu'au poste de Michillimakinac et ses dépendances.
Rôle des engagés du dit canot: Joseph Jolier (Joliet?), Bourgeois, associé; Pierre Barette, Joseph Rhéaume, François Cardinal, Augustin Baret (Barrette?), Pierre Desnoyers, de LaPrairie; Jacques Belestre, de Maskinongé.)

Their brother was Louis Courville Barrette (Baret) -- my 6th great-grandfather -- born 24 FEB 1717 in Napierville, Quebec, Canada; died  30 JAN 1753 in St Constant, Lapriaire, Quebec, Canada. Also a son of my 7th great-grandparents: Guillaume Barrette, born 27 MAY 1678 in Cap-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec, Canada; died  7 JAN 1745 in LaPrairie-de-la-Madeleine, Québec AND Jeanne Gagné, born 27 JUL 1683 in Montréal, Quebec, Canada; died  8 MAY 1719 in Montréal, Quebec, Canada.

Pierre Barette dit Courville -- my 5th great-grandfather -- born 2 FEB 1748 in LaPrairie, Quebec, Canada; died  31 JAN 1794 in LaPrairie, Québec.  He was the son of my 6th great-grandparents: Louis Courville Barrette (Baret), born 24 FEB 1717 in Napierville, Quebec, Canada; died  30 JAN 1753 in St Constant, Lapriaire, Quebec, Canada AND Marie Josephe Poupart, born 5 SEP 1725 in Chambly, Quebec, Canada; died  3 JAN 1799 in LaPrairie, Quebec, Canada

18 mai 1778 - Engagement de Pierre Barette" aux S" William G Jean Kay pour aller Fort Michilimackinac - Étude P. Lalanne, flls.)

To learn about more of my fur trade ancestors see:

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Great Grandma ran the Best Little "Maison Close" in Quebec

Every family has a few black sheep, and our French-Canadian ancestors were no exception...

My 9th great-grandparents, Marguerite Leboeuf and her husband Gabriel Lemieux ran a cabaret in Quebec.

In April 1665, they were accused by habitants of selling wine above the fixed price.  The Sovereign Council found them guilty and fined them 10 écus for this infraction of the city ordinances. 

More trouble in 1667 -- Marguerite Leboeuf was accused of adultery and of keeping a "maison close"

The Sovereign Council investigated new allegations that Marguerite kept "women and girls for the purpose of committing the crime of lewdness,"leaving the question of adultery between Marguerite and Gabriel. 

On 26 April 1667, Gabriel appeared before the Sovereign Council, and testified that Marguerite had been a good and blameless wife since they were married.  He claimed the accusations against her were false and nothing more than an attempt by their enemies to "disturb their peace." 

He demanded that those making the accusations be named, and that the Council charge said persons with slander and award Gabriel and Marguerite appropriate damages.

Gabriel stated the whole matter was probably just the machinations of overzealous creditors.  Marguerite appeared before the Council, asking for three years to pay off all her debts. She needed the time to raise the money, for Gabriel had gone to France the previous year with merchandise in the amount of 2,400 livres to sell. 

However, his ship was captured by the English while going from La Rochelle to Rouen, all the merchandise was confiscated and Gabriel even had to borrow money to return to Québec. 

This situation left the family in such an impoverished state that they were hounded by creditors who threatened to sell their furniture and put the family on the street, "thus depriving of the means to support her family." 

It appears Marguerite actually did run a "maison close" (brothel in English) under the guise as a Cabaret, but we may never know the truth of the matter as it is not mentioned further in the records of the Sovereign Council. 


From: Timeline of Quebec, Jean Provencher AND People's History of Quebec, Jacques Lacoursière

Quebec in 1667: Religious authorities are engaged in a crusade against prostitution. Marguerite Leboeuf has to close her brothel, and is driven from the city.

From: Canada the Good: A Short History of Vice since 1500, by Marcel Martel

From: THE LIFE OF NEW FRANCE 1663-1760

Crime and Punishment: Marguerite Leboeuf, wife of Gabriel Lemieux, accused of adultery and of inducing other women and girls to engage in lewd activities, 1667. No disposition was mentioned.

About Marguerite Leboeuf

Marguerite Leboeuf was born March 15, 1636 in Troyes, Aube, Champagne, France.

Marguerite is found a Filles a Marier on a Passenger and Immigration List for 1658 to Quebec [see Peter J. Gagne pg. 311].  

She married Gabriel Lemieux on September 1658 in Québec, Québec, Canada.  

Notes for Gabriel Lemieux -- my 9th great-grandfather.  He was born 10 APR 1626 in Rouen, Seine-Maritime, Haute-Normandie, France.  Gabriel was a cooper (Barrel Maker).  He died 2 DEC 1700 in Québec, Quebec, Canada.

Marguerite died young - at age 35 - on 23 NOV 1671 in Lauzon, Quebec, Canada.

The Children of Gabriel Lemieux and Marguerite Leboeuf:

i. Nicolas Lemieux (1659-?)

ii. Hélène Lemieux (1660-1745)

iii. Gabriel Lemieux (1663-1739) m. Jeanne Rodidoux and became a voyageur

iv. Marie Madeleine Lemieux (1664-1734)

v. Marguerite Lemieux (1666-1667)

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The French and Indian Wars were all about the Fur Trade - Our Ancestors were on both sides

The French and Indian Wars is a name used in the United States for a series of intermittent conflicts between the years 1688 and 1763 in North America that represented colonial events related to the European dynastic wars. 

The title French and Indian War, in the singular, is used in the United States specifically for the warfare of 1754–1763, the North American colonial counterpart to the Seven Years' Warin Europe. The French and Indian Wars were preceded by the Beaver Wars.

In Quebec, Canada, a former French colony, the wars are generally referred to as the Intercolonial Wars or La guerre de la Conquête (the War of the Conquest). 

While some conflicts involved Spanish and Dutch forces, all pitted the Kingdom of Great Britain, its colonies and Native American allies on one side against France, its colonies and Native American allies on the other.

A major cause of the wars was the desire of each country to take control of the interior territories of North America, as well as the region around Hudson Bay; both were deemed essential to domination of the fur trade. 

Whenever the European countries went to war, military conflict also occurred in North America in their colonies, although the dates of the conflicts did not necessarily exactly coincide with those of the larger conflicts.

The North American wars, and their associated European wars, in sequence, are:

Years of War: 1688–1697
North American War: King William's War
European War: 1st Intercolonial War (in French), War of the Grand Alliance, War of the League of Augsburg and Nine Years' War
Treaty: Treaty of Ryswick (1697)

Years of War: 1702–1713
North American War: Queen Anne's War
European War: 2nd Intercolonial War and War of the Spanish Succession
Treaty: Treaty of Utrecht (1713)

Years of War: 1744–1748
North American War: King George's War
European War: 3rd Intercolonial War, War of Jenkins' Ear and War of the Austrian Succession
Treaty: Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748)

Years of War: 1754–1763
North American War: The French and Indian War
European War: 4th Intercolonial War or War of Conquest (in Quebec), 6th Indian War and Seven Years' War
Treaty: Treaty of Paris (1763)

Source: "Wikipedia"

LaPrairie (New France) Pioneer Denise Lemaitre

On the 10th of January 1660, and in front of the notary, Sevigne Basset, Denise Lemaitre -- my 9th great-grandmother -- signed a marriage contract with Pierre Pera dit Lafontaine, tonellier from St-Jean-du-Perrot in the La Rochelle diocese. The marriage took place on the 26th of January.

Denise and Pierre had ten children. On the 1681 census, it was noted that they had a 40-acre farm with ten of those acres under cultivation and six heads of cattle. It was further noted that their two oldest sons were absent: they were in the fur trading business in the deep forest. Six of their children got married, three of them twice.

We are descended from a daughter, Marguerite Perras dit Fontaine, who was born on December 27, 1665, in Montréal, Quebec. Only two of the sons, Jean and Pierre, carried out the Perras name. Pierre Pera never had a chance to see all his children grow up, get married and settle down.

He died the 30th of April 1684. Because of their efforts and hard work, they possessed, at the time of his death, two farms, one barn, one stable, eleven heads of cattle and six pigs.

But even the revenue from all those assets was not enough to support her large family so Denise had to do some fur trading with the Catholic Iroquois to make ends meet.

Eventually, on the 9th of October 1684, she married François Cahel, another pioneer. Three years passed before another catastrophe came into her life: her second husband died on the 18th of November 1687.

Denise Lemaistre did not contemplate starting a family for the third time. Instead, she went back to the skill she had learned in Paris. She practiced midwifery until her death. She died as a martyr for the colony. On October 29th 1691, in the village of Côte St-Lambert, she was killed and massacred by the Iroquois. She was 55 years old.

Deerfield (New England) Pioneer Sergeant John Plympton

"When King Phillip's war began in 1675, John Plympton (Plimpton) -- my 9th great-grandfather -- being the chief military officer in Deerfield, joined the army and served throughout with honor and distinction. 

At a time when the war, as all then living thought, was practically over, and after Deerfield had been destroyed by the Indians, he returned to rebuild his home, when on Sept 19, 1677  (two years and one day after his son Johnathan was killed ...), he [and two other men, three women, and 14 children] were taken captive by a band of Indians under Ashperton, carried to Canada where he was burned at the stake, at a point near Chambly;  nearly all of the other captives being permitted to be ransomed.   

During the war he attained the rank of captain, which was one of the highest military ranks to be attained at that time in the province or state. 

Prior to the war he was affectionately know to his townsmen as 'Old Sergeant Plympton.'  He left a widow and 13 children."

"Fort Chambly, Quebec" (near LaPrairie) by Cornelius Krieghoff

Source: "A history of the American and puritanical family of Sutliff or Sutliffe"

James Fenimore Cooper and NC Wyeth

What could be a better way to get a historical flavor of the times than to read… "The Leatherstocking Tales," a series of five novels by American writer James Fenimore Cooper, each featuring the main hero Natty Bumppo, known by European settlers as "Leatherstocking," 'The Pathfinder", and "the trapper" and by the Native Americans as "Deerslayer," "La Longue Carabine" and "Hawkeye".

The Deerslayer -- The First War Path (story dates: 1740-1755)
The Last of the Mohicans -- A Narrative of 1757 (story dates: 1757, during the French and Indian War or the Seven Years' War)
The Pathfinder -- The Inland Sea (story dates: 1750s)
The Pioneers -- The Sources of the Susquehanna; A Descriptive Tale (story dates: 1793)
The Prairie -- A Tale (story dates: 1804)

Source: "Wikipedia"

For me NC Wyeth's illustrations really bring this era of history alive.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Great Granddad Gabriel Lemieux was a Voyageur on the Ottawa River

We know from early notary records in the archives of Quebec that Gabriel Lemieux -- my 8th great-grandfather -- made two legal trips as a voyageur.  It's a safe bet that he made other trips as a coureur de bois, a term used to describe unlicensed fur traders and canoemen.

8 May 1690, Jean Baptiste Migeon, sieur de Bransat, hired Gabriel Lemieux for a voyage to the Ootawas (Ottawa Indians) [Antoine Adhémar]

From: Michigan’s Habitant Heritage (MHH), Vol. 35, #1, January 2014 - 17th Century Engagé Contracts to the Great Lakes and Beyond – 20 May 1682 to 15 May 1690 - Part 1

19 August 1692, Joachim Germaneau hired Gabriel Lemieux and Laurent Glory dit LaBrière to make  a voyage to the 8ta8ois (Ottawa Indians) specifically to Michilimackinac and Sault Ste. Marie [Antoine Adhémar - 2 contracts] 

From: Michigan’s Habitant Heritage (MHH), Vol. 35, #2, April 2014 - 17th Century Engagé Contracts to the Great Lakes and Beyond – 15 June 1690 to 23 May 1695 – Part 2.  Also see:

1805 map -  land of the Ottawas  (Ootawas)
north of Lake Erie, east of Lake Michigan, south of Lake Huron

To get to Ottawa Indians Country (Ootawas) Gabriel would have had to travel on the Ottawa River

The Ottawa River played an integral role in many of the key stories that make up Canada’s history. It was the route for much of the early European exploration of North America, including Samuel de Champlain. Explorers in search of the Northwest Passage began their journeys along the Ottawa River. Other celebrated figures in Canadian history including Nicollet, Radisson, La Vérendrye, Dulhut and De Troyes, traveled west along the Ottawa River to establish trade relationships with First Nations communities, laying the groundwork for the fur trade.

The fur trade relied on the famous waterway routes that began and ended with the Ottawa River. France’s North American colonial economy depended on the fur trade, which led to the development of the coureurs de bois and voyageurs era, and later to the creation of the North West and Hudson’s Bay Companies. Amid the profound social, political, and economic changes of the 17th  century, the Ottawa River remained one of North America’s most important trading routes. It played a central role in the story of the fur trade in North America, and thus in the development of Canada.

Ottawa River Routes

The Ottawa River led to two strategically important sites for the fur trade: The first was Lake Temiskaming post, the largest trading post on the Ottawa under the French. The second, Michilimackinac (now called Mackinaw City, Michigan), was the fur trading hub for the Great Lakes region. It was an 18-20 day voyage from Lachine to Lake Temiskaming, or a 35-40 day voyage from Lachine to Michilimackinac. This second route was extremely important to the fur trade: following the Ottawa River to the Mattawa Forks, voyageurs would then turn west along the Mattawa River, across Lake Nipissing, along the French River, and finally, through the Great Lakes to Michilimackinac.

Voyageurs Tasks

The voyageurs’ tasks varied with the seasons. In summer, they would make long journeys into the continent’s interior, usually following the Ottawa River for much of their way. Their days of paddling were long: they would leave early in the morning and often continue until far into the night. In autumn, they would establish a winter camp near a First Nations village and a body of water. Here, they would build a fort and a few dwellings, and from this base, would trade throughout the winter with First Nations Peoples. In this way, the voyageurs would collect furs from the tribes, even those that lived at great distances. In the springtime, the voyageurs would return along the same route to Montreal. Life was so hard for the voyageurs that desertions were common.

The Canoes

The canoes used by the voyageurs were built following Aboriginal methods, but were designed to fit the colonists’ needs. A voyageur canoe could measure as much as 36 feet in length and nearly 5 feet in width. The boat bore an extremely heavy load. Eight men, each carrying a pack weighing around 40 lbs., as well as a total of 1000 lbs. of provisions, were piled in alongside 60 to 80 bundles, each weighing from 90 to 100 lbs. In total, these slight vessels would carry a load of about 4 tons. Later, canoes carrying 15 people were constructed. Made of birch bark, it was only 1/4 inch thick. Given this, navigation along the rivers was both difficult and dangerous: even a small collision with a rock or piece of floating wood could pierce the canoe’s bark and spoil its precious cargo. After every night of paddling, the canoe had to be unloaded, pulled out of the water, inspected, and repaired.

Ottawa River Portages

The Ottawa River’s rapids and waterfalls interrupted the days of regular paddling of the voyageurs. Whenever the waters became impassable, the men were forced to stop, disembark, and carry their cargo and canoes through the forest until the waters were again calm enough to continue paddling. The voyageur setting out from Lachine would have twenty portages on his way to Lake Temiskaming, and thirty-five on his way to Michilimackinac. 

The majority of these portages were located on the north shore of the river, and followed already existing First Nations portage routes that they fortified to withstand the increased traffic. These portages were long and exhausting. Each man carried two or three bundles of merchandise weighing approximately 90 lbs. each. The men would often have to take several trips back and forth in order to transport all of the gear to the end of the portage route. Portages were so exhausting that the voyageurs measured the exact number of paces required to walk from the beginning to the end of each route. For example, it was recorded that the particularly challenging Grand Calumet portage measured some 2,035 paces long!

Source (above) Canadian Heritage Rivers System --

More about Gabriel Lemieux 

Gabriel Lemieux (my 8th great-grandfather), b. September 4, 1663 at LaPrairie, Quebec; d. September 18, 1739 at LaPrairie, Quebec.

He was the son of Gabriel Lemieux, b. April 10, 1630; d. December 2, 1700 and Marguerite Leboeuf, b. March 15, 1636; d. 1671.
He married Jeanne Robidoux, 17 December 5, 1690 at LaPrairie, Quebec

About Jeanne Robidoux:

Jeanne Robidoux, b. September 19, 1673 at LaPrairie, Quebec; d. 12 April 1736 at LaPrairie, Quebec. She was the daughter of André Robidou, dit L'Espagnol and Jeanne Denote.

Children of Gabriel Lemieux and Jeanne Robidoux:

i. Jeanne Lemieux, b. August 2, 1696, d. February 1, 1769, m. (1) Francois Longtin (2) Antoine Rousseau 

ii. Joseph Lemieux, b. December 27, 1698, m. (1) Francoise Brignon (2) Marie-Josephe Forand

iii. Pierre-Gabriel Lemieux, b. October 6, 1700, m. Marie-Josephte Demers 

iv. Marie-Josephte Lemieux, b. June 8, 1702, d. December 1, 1744, m. Joseph Rousseau 

v. Jacques Lemieux, b. May 17, 1704, d. April 21, 1775, m. (1) Catherine deniger (2) Pineault Marguerite 

+vi. Marie-Anne Lemieux, b. February 27, 1706, d. February 8, 1777, m. Joseph Poupart 

vii. Marie-Marguerite Lemieux, b. October 6, 1710, d. April 30, 1796, m. Joseph Beauvais 

viii. Gabriel Lemieux, b. May 10, 1712, d. April 11, 1751, m. Madeleine Babeu 

Our Lineage from Gabriel Lemieux:

Gabriel Lemieux (1663 - 1739) -- my 8th great-grandfather

Marie Anne Lemieux (1706 - 1777) -- daughter of Gabriel Lemieux

Marie Josephe Poupart (1725 - 1799) -- daughter of Marie Anne Lemieux

Pierre Barette dit Courville (1748 - 1794) -- son of Marie Josephe Poupart

Marie Angelique Baret (Barette) dit Courville (1779 - 1815) -- daughter of Pierre Barette dit Courville

Marie Emélie (Mary) Meunier dit Lagassé (1808 - 1883) -- daughter of Marie Angelique Baret (Barette) dit Courville

Lucy Passino (1836 - 1917) -- daughter of Marie Emélie (Mary) Meunier dit Lagassé

Abraham Lincoln Brown (1864 - 1948) -- son of Lucy Passino

Lydia Corinna Brown (1891 - 1971) -- daughter of Abraham Lincoln Brown -- my Grandmother

Monday, July 18, 2016

Was Great Grandfather Gabriel Loyal to the United States

Gabriel Pinsonneau, my 4th great-grandfather, was born 5 AUG 1770 at LaPrairie-de-la-Madeleine (St Philippe), Quebec, Canada.  He was the son of Joseph Pinsonneau (1733–1779) and Marie Madeleine Duquet (1734 - 1791).

Gabriel married Marie-Louise Vielle (1780 - 1813), my 4th great-grandmother, 8 Feb 1802 at LaPrairie-de-la-Madeleine (Notre-Dame), Québec.

He is said to have died young (age of 37) on 19 AUG 1807 at LaPrairie-de-la-Madeleine (Notre-Dame), Québec.  It is unclear if he was actually buried in LaPrairie.

1797 Voyageur Contract for brothers Jacques and Francois Laselle

On 11 Aug 1797, Gabriel signed a voyageur contract to go to Michigan for a trading company owned by brothers Jacques and Francois Laselle:

Last name: PINSONEAU
Normalized family name: PINSONNEAULT
First Name: GABRIEL
Date of deed: 17970811 (11 Aug 1797)
Notary Location: MONTREAL
Length of commitment: 1
Standard name of the parish: Laprairie
destinations: strait  [The archives of Quebec clearly state DETROIT]
functions: MIDDLE
Company representative: JACQUES & FRANÇOIS LASSELLE
notary Name: Chaboillez Louis
wages: 500 livres; Advance when signing 24
Source archive BANQ, Clerk of notaries: M620 / 1199 00054

Jacques Laselle, Interpreter and Fur Trader

Brother of Colonel Francis and Antoine Lasselle, Jacques was the most enterprising and shrewdest Indian trader of the three brothers, and became by far the wealthiest man in the Territory outside of Detroit. He always had in his employ a large number of Indians, half-breeds and Canadian Frenchmen. Some forty log houses were built by him on the north side of the River Raisin, about five miles above the then town of Frenchtown, now city of Monroe, on the land known as the Caldwell tract. 

As late as the year 1836 forty-five farms, mostly on the north and south banks of the River Raisin, were owned by Mrs. Major Caldwell, inherited from her father, Jacques Lasselle. At an early day quite a controversy arose between the settlers located on the Caldwell tract (it being quite a village) and those on the banks of the River Raisin (constituting now the city of Monroe) as to where the first Catholic church should be placed. A compromise was effected by locating it midway between the two on the Momonie and Hivon farm, two and a half miles above the city,

The Lasselles were natives of Montreal, allied and related to the celebrated explorer and adventurer, Robert De La Salle, prominent in all histories and sketches of the early explorers and adventurers in the northwest territory. The Lasselles made all their purchases at Montreal for stocking their trading-posts and stores with goods and merchandise for traffic with the Indians, and transported them by large pirogues and canoes, or small boats manned by four or six half-breeds and Frenchmen. 

On one of the return trips Mr. Jacques Lasselle accompanied his two daughters, Marie Antoinette and Julia, to Montreal, and placed them in the convent, where they remained a number of years and returned very attractive and accomplished young ladies. Julia married a Mr. Percy, died young and without issue. Marie Antoinette inherited the large fortune of her father, and married Major Caldwell, an officer of the British army. 

Source (above): Monroe County Michigan Biographies

Treaty of Greenville

During the signing of the Treaty of Greenville (Northwest of the Ohio River) August 3, 1795 A treaty of peace between the United States of America, and the tribes of Indians called the Wyandots, Delawares, Shawanees, Ottawas, Chippewas, Pattawatimas, Miamis, Eel Rivers, Weas, Kickapoos, Piankeshaws, and Kaskaskias.  Jacques Lasselle was a sworn interpreter.

Source (above): Treaty of Greenville August 3, 1795

Letter to Thomas Jefferson from Jacques Lasselle, 12 June 1806

Son excellence le président 
des Etats Unis—Thomas Jefferson
Detroit June 12th. 1806.

From the time I have had the happiness of breathing the pure air of American liberty I have ardently wished to be useful to the government of a country which has become mine. I have employed every means in my power to be serviceable to it. General Wayne might have given a faithful testimony of it, had the fates allowed him to return into the bosom of his country, there to be crowned with the laurels his valor had merited. What brought me to the acquaintance of General Wayne was the capture of one of my uncles in an engagement, near a place called le pied des ravines on the Miami river. the army having returned to Fort Wayne, the General wrote me two letters to beg me to use my influence over the Indians to dispose them to make peace. I then abandoned my own interests to serve the U.S. and my trade with the different Indian nations being very extensive, I immediately directed my agents to act accordingly, and on my part I distributed a quantity of glass beads to invite them to make peace. I prevailed on a great number of them to go with me to Greenville. during the summer I was obliged to go twice from Greenville to Fort Defiance to dispose the rest of the Chawoinons in favor of the Americans, for without this nation the others could do nothing. Some Royalists and especially a party of Indians called thefive nations opposed themselves powerfully to our pacific propositions; but notwithstanding their efforts I prevailed, and the Chawoinons were soon followed by the others; they consented to return to Greenville to negociate with General Wayne. There I took care to maintain the Indians in their good dispositions, and I even served as Interpreter for the U.S. as you may have seen in the treaty. Peace being concluded, General Wayne proposed to me to accept the pay of the U.S. as Intendant pro tempore of the Indian Department, and offered me five dollars and five rations a day. My answer was that, if he could secure me that station for several years, I would abandon my trade to devote myself entirely to the service of the United States, but that I could not do it for a short time only. he then told me that, as he was going to the seat of Government, he would represent to the President the important services I had rendered the U.S. and that as he thought me, in every respect, qualified for the employment he had proposed, he would do all that lay in his power to procure it for me. But unfortunately death, by cutting short his days, at a place called la Presqu’ile on lake Erie, deprived him of the satisfaction of being useful to those who had been serviceable to him. After the death of General Wayne, which I bitterly lamented, seeing that the peace which he had concluded with the Indians appeared lasting, I again gave all my attention and cares to my trade which I have continued to this day. But at this moment the murmurs and discontentment of the Indians, awaken my attention, and it is on this account that I take the liberty of writing to you. Since the treaty of Greenville, the Government has purchased large tracts of Indian land about the Illinois at post St. Vincent, and even last year, at the rapids on the Miami a treaty was made with the Indians for a certain portion of their territory. Now the Indians complain that the purchase of these lands was not according to the treaty of Greenville, that those who sold them had no right to do it, and that even a great portion had been sold without the consent of their principal chiefs. this is the principal cause of their dissatisfaction, which has alarmed a great part of our citizens and, I might say, the whole country in general. I know, for having seen it myself, that thirteen nations from the upper Mississippi and that neighbourhood, have sent to the nations near Detroit, the Delawares, Chawoinons, and Hurons or Windots, a present of beads to invite them to join them, in order to unbury the tomahawk and strike upon the Americans. I saw these beads and gave notice of it to the Secretary of the Governor, he being then at the Federal City. These three nations answered the envoys of the thirteen nations, that they were sorry they could not accede to their proposition, that they prefered to live in peace, that the circumstances in which they were, did not permit them to make war, and that besides having entered into a treaty with the Americans, they would endeavor to maintain peace and harmony with them, and that in consequence of this they entreated them to bury again their tomahawk and not to speak of war, unless they proposed it themselves. since that, and particularly this spring, a great many rumors have been spread among the whites, which have alarmed many of the American posts, which have prepared themselves for a vigorous resistance in case of an attack from the Indians.

In the present State of things, I offer my services to the U.S. to be employed in the capacity of subintendant of the Indian Department for the territory of Michigan. Being perfectly acquainted with the Indians, with their customs and manners of proceeding, having it in my power to know, by several Chiefs who look upon me as their great friend, every thing that is going on among them, even in their most privy councils, having a perfect knowledge of their languages, which I speak with facility, and moreover having (during one and twenty years that I have traded with them), gained their esteem and confidence, I flatter myself that I could be of great service to the U.S. in this employment, and this is the only reason for which I venture to make the demand of it. In this I am not actuated by any sordid views of interest, for it is well known, that in the situation in which I find myself, I have no occasion for a public employment, but the ardent wish of serving my country, and the great satisfaction which a good citizen must find in becoming useful in the charge that is entrusted to him, are the motives which direct my steps. I did not wish to employ any of my friends to solicit your Excellency in my favor, as this employment can only be given to a man of capacity and of a good character. I can procure all the recommendations your Excellency may require.

If you condescend to honor me with an answer, I will consider it as a great favor, and you will confer on me an infinite obligation.
Sir, &c &c
(signed) Jacques Lasselle

Homage to the United States signed by Francois Laselle

In 1815, following the end of the War of 1812, the brothers Jacques and Francois Lasselle paid homage to the United States when the Parish of St. Antoine of the Riviere Aux Raisins, in the Territory of Michigan sent its statement of Gratitude (above) toward the Government of the United States.

Where was Gabriel Pinsonneau in 1806

After the American Revolution everyone -- French, British, Americans and numerous Indian tribes -- were trying to control the fur trade in the Great Lakes region.

During the years leading up to the War of 1812 and during the conflict itself the Lasselle brothers had acted to support both sides -- British and American -- at one time or another.  In the end the Lasselles and their French and Indian alliances helped the United States win the war.

Was Gabriel, the voyageur, still in the Lasselle brothers' employee during Michigan Territorial Indian hostilities leading up to the war and did he fight in any of those conflicts?  

I will probably never know the answer to this question, but his son, and namesake, Gabriel (1803-1877) my 3rd great grandfather, was the first Pinsonneau ancestor to emigrate from Canada to the United States just a few years later - about 1828.


The full crew of voyageurs engaged by Jacques and Francois Lasselle for the 1797 trip to Detroit included:


It is very likely that several of these men were related. The surnames GAGNIER, LEBER, SENECALE, DUPUIS and PINSONEAU can all be found in our ancestral tree.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Uncle Jacques Le Ber - Trading Post Partner at Lachine

Le Ber-Le Moyne House - Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Today, the Le Ber-Le Moyne House is the oldest complete building in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

It is located in the borough of Lachine, bordering the Saint Lawrence River, between the Lachine Rapids and Lake Saint-Louis. It is a recognized National Historic Site of Canada since June 19, 2002.

The Le Ber-Le Moyne site and its archaeological collection have also been classified as heritage assets by the ministère de la Culture et des communications du Québec since 2001.

Lachine's first Fur Trading Post (1669-1687)

The Le Ber-Le Moyne House was constructed on land which once belonged to the French explorer René-Robert Cavelier de La Salle.

In 1667 Ville Marie's (Montreal's) richest merchants, Jacques Le Ber, my 9th great-uncle, and Charles Le Moyne, his brother-in-law, bought the land from Cavelier de La Salle to construct Lachine's first fur trading post.

Constructed between 1669 and 1671, the fur trading post enabled the two brothers-in-law to control the main access routes of the Lake Saint-Louis and consequently the fur trade. Archival records indicate that the merchants ceased to use the building sometime between 1680 and 1685.

Jacques Le Ber - my 9th great-uncle

JACQUES LE BER, merchant, seigneur, ennobled in 1696; born c. 1633 in the parish of Pistre, diocese of Rouen, son of Robert Le Ber and Colette Cavelier, who may have been related to Cavelier de La Salle; d. 25 Nov. 1706 in Montreal.

Le Ber came to Canada in 1657 and took up residence in Montreal. A brother, François, also settled there around the same time, and a sister, Marie, became an Ursuline nun in Quebec. The Iroquois were then intensifying their war against the colony and Jacques, living in the area most exposed to their incursions, risked his life on many expeditions against these Indians. In 1663, he and François were members of the militia of the Holy Family which Chomedey de Maisonneuve had organized for the defense of the island.

Le Ber, however, was not primarily a soldier but a businessman. On 7 Jan. 1658, he had wed Jeanne Le Moyne, sister of Charles Le Moyne de Longueuil et de Châteauguay, and shortly afterwards he went into business with his brother-in-law. By 1664, the two partners owned stores in Montreal and Quebec and their affairs were in a flourishing state. Le Ber’s activities, however, were not limited to the fur trade and the sale of merchandise. He was keenly interested in Canada’s other economic resources and was one of the principal pioneers of their development. He engaged in the cod fisheries, in trade with the West Indies, was one of the first men to send staves and sheathing to France, and experimented with the transplanting of European fruit trees.

By the 1670s Le Ber was one of the key figures in the closely knit group of wealthy and ambitious businessmen which had emerged in Canada. Among his associates was Charles Bazire, the partner of Charles Aubert de La Chesnaye, with whom he engaged in various commercial ventures. In 1674, Governor Louis de Buade de Frontenac leased to the two men the post he had founded at Cataracoui, which was strategically located for trade with the Iroquois and some of the western tribes. The following year, however, the governor arranged for the transfer of the lease to Cavelier de La Salle.

 Le Ber, who had previously acted as a staunch ally of Frontenac, now became one of his chief adversaries. With Le Moyne, La Chesnaye, and Philippe Gaultier de Comporté, who also felt slighted by Frontenac’s policy, he appears to have organized a rival fur-trading network. In 1682, this group of powerful merchants gained the favour of Le Febvre de La Barre. The new governor promptly placed Le Ber and La Chesnaye in possession of Fort Frontenac (Cataracoui, now Kingston, Ont.) and also encouraged the formation of the Compagnie du Nord, in which Le Ber and Le Moyne invested 21,357 livres.

By the 1680s, Le Ber was one of the wealthiest and most respected men in New France. He owned a store in Montreal and each year sent large quantities of fur and bills of exchange to France. In 1693 alone, those drawn on the state and private parties amounted to 79,380 livres. He was also the seigneur of two-thirds of Île Saint-Paul near Montreal, whose value was given as 18,400 livres in an inventory of 1694, and of Senneville, an estate of 200 arpents on Lac des Deux Montagnes. Le Ber himself lived on Rue Saint-Paul in Montreal, in a two-storey house whose grounds were enclosed by a wooden fence. When he entertained at dinner his guests were probably served on silver plates worth 2,140 livres and waited upon by Jacques, a Negro slave. In 1696, Louis XIV placed a number of letters of nobility on sale in order to replenish his depleted finances. Le Ber promptly purchased his for 6,000 livres and proudly added the title esquire to his name. In August 1715 a decree of the council of state revoked all letters of nobility sold since 1689, but Le Ber’s descendants obtained letters patent exempting them from this law.

Le Ber’s wealth gave him considerable influence in the affairs of the colony. He was one of the 20 notables summoned by Frontenac in 1678 to give their opinion on the brandy trade with the Indians. The majority view was that no restrictions should be placed on this trade, but Le Ber and four others maintained that it should be forbidden outside the confines of the main settlements. The question was temporarily settled the following year when Louis XIV issued an edict that reflected this minority opinion. In 1684, Le Ber sat on another assembly of notables; along with the others present on this occasion, he opposed replacing the tax of 25 per cent on beaver pelts and of 10 per cent on moose-hides by a head tax (capitation) and impositions on foodstuffs and property.

When the Iroquois renewed their war on New France in the early 1680s, Le Ber and his family once more came to the defense of the colony. In 1686, he built a stone mill on the island of Montreal near the Ottawa River to provide the inhabitants of that area with a shelter in case of attack by the Five Nations. In 1693, he joined a war party of 300 Canadians, 100 soldiers, and 230 Indians that attacked the Mohawks in their own territory.

Le Ber died in Montreal on 25 Nov. 1706. According to the report of Jacques Raudot on the financial status of the principal shareholders of the Compagnie de la Colonie, he was then a wealthy man. Le Ber’s wife had died on 8 Nov. 1682, and two sons had also predeceased him: Louis, Sieur de Saint-Paul, who died in the early 1690s in La Rochelle where he had acted as his father’s business agent, and Jean-Vincent, Sieur Du Chesne, fatally wounded during an encounter with an English and Iroquois war party near Fort Chambly in 1691. 

Three children survived their father: Jeanne, the famous recluse, Pierre, and Jacques, Sieur de Senneville. While serving in France as aide-de-camp in the 1690s, Senneville dissipated his share of 40,000 livres from his father’s estate. Following his return to Canada, he was made a captain in the colonial regular troops and soon became a successful fur-trader and merchant. When he died in 1735, he and Toussaint Pothier, with whom he had formed a partnership in 1731, had 64,000 livres in cash in their Montreal store.

Source (above): Dictionary of Canadian Biography

Map of New France during Talon's time as intendant

Our lineage from Le Ber and Le Moyne:

Charles Le Moyne Sieur de Longueuil (1626 - 1685) - brother-in-law of 9th great-uncle, and his partner in a fur trading post at Montreal.

Pierre Le Moyne (1595 - 1658) - father of Charles Le Moyne Sieur de Longueuil

Jeanne Le Moyne (1635 - 1682) - daughter of Pierre Le Moyne -- wife of 9th great uncle

Jacques Leber (aka Le Ber) (1633 - 1706) - husband of Jeanne Le Moyne -- 9th great uncle

Jacques Leber (1633 - 1706) -- 9th great-uncle

Robert LeBer (1601 - 1625) -- father of Jacques Leber -- 9th great grandfather

Francois Leber (1626 - 1694) -- son of Robert LeBer -- 8th great grandfather
* Francois and his three sons were "Coureur-de-bois" and were known as the fathers of the fur trade.

Marie Le Ber (1666 - 1756) -- daughter of Francois Leber

Marie Elisabeth Bourassa (1695 - 1766) -- daughter of Marie Le Ber

Joseph Pinsonneau (Pinsono) (1733 - 1779) -- son of Marie Elisabeth Bourassa

Gabriel Pinsonneau (Pinsono) (1770 - 1813) -- son of Joseph Pinsonneau (Pinsono)

Gabriel (Gilbert) Passino (Passinault) (Pinsonneau) (1803 - 1877) -- son of Gabriel Pinsonneau (Pinsono)

Lucy Passino (1836 - 1917) -- daughter of Gabriel (Gilbert) Passino (Passinault) (Pinsonneau)

Abraham Lincoln Brown (1864 - 1948) -- son of Lucy Passino

Lydia Corinna Brown (1891 - 1971) -- daughter of Abraham Lincoln Brown -- my grandmother

Friday, July 15, 2016

Fur Trade Timeline and My French-Canadian Ancestors

Samuel Champlain made the first exploration into the interior of mainland North America. He sent Etiene Brule to live with the Huron Indians, to learn their language and trade routes. Champlain was the first to realize the great trade potential of the birch bark canoe.

Etiene Brule arrived at the eastern end of Lake Superior. He may have reached the western shores as well. He was on a quest for a route to the Far East. He was one of the first to search for the North West Passage to the Far East.

1630s - 1800s


Jean Nicolet traveled through the Great Lakes to Green Bay on what is now Lake Michigan.

By the 1630s furs were regularly leaving New France for Europe. These furs were mainly supplied by Indian traders, especially the Huron and Ottawa tribes. In Wisconsin the Winnebago tribes blocked the fur trade routes. They were attacked and defeated by the Ottawa and Huron. New tribes such as the Sauk, Fox, Potawatomi, and Ojibwe began moving into the area that is now Wisconsin.



1640s - 1700s



Radisson and Grosseiliers made an illegal trip into the interior. His men built a trading post at Chequamagon Bay on Lake Superior and claimed to have found a portage into the west (maybe Grand Portage).


1660s - 1690s

1660s - 1800s

1660s - 1800s





Marquette and Joliet used the Fox and Wisconsin rivers to reach the Mississippi. Afterword the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers became a major transportation routes to the West.

1670s - 1750s

Daniel Greysolon, Sieur Du Luth used the Savannah Portage to reach the interior of Minnesota and Mille Lac. Later he returned to Lake Superior; traveled up the northwest shore and built a post on the Kaministikquai River.

1670s - 1800s

La Salle traveled through the Great Lakes and down the Mississippi to its delta. He claimed all the lands drained by the Mississippi and its tributaries for France.



By Royal Edict, New France closed all its western fur posts. Trade was officially abandoned for 20 years, but coureur des bois continue their operations.


Wars with the Fox Indians began. The Fox and Wisconsin Rivers trade route is closed. Trade across the upper Mississippi region was disrupted.

The Fox Wars end after they are nearly exterminated by the French and their Indian allies. The trade routes reopened, and goods were carried west and brought directly to the Indians by licensed traders.

The truce between the Ojibwe and Dakota was broken. The Dakota had previously allowed the Ojibwe to hunt on their lands and in exchange the Dakota had allowed trade goods to travel through to the Ojibwe. 

Now the Dakota had direct access to the trade goods and no longer needed the Ojibwe. An attempt was made to push the Ojibwe off Dakota lands, but within 50 years the Ojibwe succeeded in driving the Dakota out of their eastern woodlands.


The French and Indian War began. The fur trade was interrupted again. Most of the licensed traders and their voyageurs were called east to fight the British.


New France was conquered by the British. All trading rights and privileges became British. Furs were now sent to London instead of Paris and most trade goods were supplied through London Agents.

Britain tried several different arrangements to control the fur trade – imperial control, limiting trade to only five posts, and exclusive licensing. In spite of this, unlicensed traders continued to operate.

Alexander Henry received exclusive rights to trade on Lake Superior. He and his partner, Jean Baptiste Cadotte, built a post at Chequamagon and sent outfits into the Fon du Lac region.

Trade regulations were returned to the colonies, exclusive licenses were abolished. The start of unregulated trade increased the use of liquor in the fur trade. British traders were allowed to establish wintering posts amongst the Indians. Construction began on permanent structures at Grand Portage.

The Quebec Act became law. The western Great Lakes and all land north of the Ohio River became part of Quebec and subject to its laws and regulations. Green Bay and Prairie du Chein became interior trading centers. Traders started to exploit the region northwest of Grand Portage, but cut-throat competition reduced the profits. Small partnerships were formed to avoid or oppose the competition. The American Revolution caused some traders to avoid areas south and west of the Great Lakes and encouraged them to go north and west. Hudson Bay Company built a post on the Saskatchewan River.

First agreements were made between partners that would become the North West Company, the first joint stock company in Canada and possibly North America. Peter Pond traveled to the Athabaska where he gathered so many furs he was forced to leave some behind. Generally throughout the 1770s fur trade was centered around the large posts.

In January the North West Company was formed. There were 16 shares in the company. Simon McTavish and the Frobisher brothers hold six shares. The first meeting of the Montreal partners and their winterers was held that summer at Grand Portage. Grand Portage was to be the company’s rendezvous point for the next 20 years.


The Treaty of Paris ended the American Revolution the year before but caused severe problems for the new North West Company. Some of the partners left the company forming the General Company of Lake Superior and the South.

The Beaver Club was formed. It was a very selective social organization of men who had wintered in Indian country. There were 19 original members. 

The Hudson Bay Company built more posts in the interior because furs were being taken at the Indian camps by the North West Company.

Alexander Mackenzie searched for the North West Passage and instead reached the Arctic Ocean. Simon McTavish tried to lease transportation rights through Hudson Bay but was refused. The North West Trading Company began construction of trading boats on the Great Lakes. Jean Baptiste Perrault entered the Fon du Lac with six other traders in a two-year partnership. They built posts on the St. Louis River, Leech Lake, Pine Lake and Otter Tail Lake. John Sayer joined a one-year partnership and built a post on the St. Louis River.

Alexander Henry sent a group of traders into the northern war zone between the Ojibwe and Dakota. The first year they traded at Leech Lake and the following year at Red River. They went north and then back to Grand Portage.

Alexander Mackenzie successfully crossed the continent to the Pacific Ocean. The route that he had discovered was so bad that it was little used in the future.

Discontent among the winterers of the North West Company due to small shares and poor trade goods caused the company to increase shares to its winterers and made clerks eligible for partnership. Jay’s Treaty gave reciprocal trading rights to British and American traders, each were allowed to cross the border to trade on the other’s territory. The treaty also opened New York for direct shipment of furs from Detroit and Michilimackinac. John Jacob Astor became involved in the fur trade.

Alexander Mackenzie broke from the North West Company over bad feelings with McTavish. Mackenize did not agree with some of the policies of McTavish. Subsequently the XY Company formed from several existing companies. McTavish ordered all his departments to undersell the XY traders. This in turn increased the use of rum, tobacco, blue or red laced and braided coats which the chiefs desired and the practice of trading with the Indians during drinking bouts.

The North West Company operated 117 trading posts.

The Americans purchased the Louisiana territory from the French. The Lewis and Clark expedition left in search of a passage to the Pacific Coast.

Simon McTavish died. Consolidation talks between North West Company and XY Company begin.

The American Fur Company was formed by J.J. Astor.

The South West Company was formed by J.J. Astor and the head of the North West Company William McGillivray.

The war between England and the United States disrupted trade all across the continent. The North West Company began operations on the Columbia River of the Pacific Northwest.

The War of 1812 ended. The United States took back lands that had been occupied by the British, but tensions still continued. After this the United States forbid any foreign traders to operate in American territory. The North West Company withdrew.

By Congressional Act, the United States forbid foreigners to trade on US soil. The American Fur Co. hired ex-North West traders to work for them. A border war began between the North West Co. and the American Fur Co.. The old Fon du Lac District was renamed the Northern Outfit.

John Sayer’s old clerk, Joseph La Prairie began working for the American Fur Co. He continued working for them until 1821.

The North West Co. and the Hudson Bay Co. merged under the name Hudson Bay Co. A major factor in the decision to merge was the high transportation costs shipping through the Great Lakes. In addition, the Hudson Bay Co. charter had stronger legal backing to right of land by discovery than the partnership claims of the North West Co. After this time, most trade goods were shipped through Hudson Bay for the interior posts. The border war still continued between the Hudson Bay Co. and the American Fur Co. It did not end until 1833 when the American Fur Co. abandoned its posts along the border in exchange for an annual cash payment from Hudson Bay.


For the rest of my Ancestors SEE…

Dad also had a few Canadian born ancestors...

Margaret Wilkie - my 2nd great-grandmother
born 29 MAR 1826 at St John's, Newfoundland, Canada
died 5 SEP 1910 • Plumstead, Kent, England
Thomas Wilkie, her father, was in the Royal Artillery which had been deployed in Newfoundland before 1812 until after 1826. He was the Armory Sergeant at the fort on Signal Hill in St. Johns.

Margaret McDonald - my 2nd great-grandmother
born 25 SEP 1832 at Cape Bear (lot 64) Prince Edward Island, Canada
died 7 DEC 1881 at Goderich, Huron Co., Ontario, Canada
As an infant Catherine Munn, her mother, arrived at Prince Edward Island in 1806 on the ship "Spencer" with over one hundred people from the island of Colonsay, Argyll, Scotland.

Ellen Sturdy - my 2nd great-grandmother
born 10 OCT 1833 at Goderich, Huron Co., Ontario, Canada
died 31 MAR 1906 at Detroit, Michigan, USA
Her parents Hugh STURDY (b. abt. 1800 in Ballyconnell, County Cavan, Ireland) and Elizabeth Shaw (b. abt 1811 in County Tipperary, Ireland) emigrated from IRELAND circa 1830 and settled in Goderich Twp., Huron Co., Ontario, Canada.

William Allen MacNeil - my great-grandfather
born 31 JUL 1865 at Goderich, Huron Co, Ontario, Canada
died 07 MAR 1927 at Detroit, Michigan, US5
His father was born in Scotland and emigrated from Scotland before 1830 and settled in Goderich Twp., Huron Co., Ontario, Canada.

Adaline Proctor - my great-grandmother
born 22 JUN 1864 • Goderich, Ontario, Canada
died 25 NOV 1908 • Detroit, Wayne, Michigan, USA
His father was born in Scotland and emigrated from Scotland before 1830 and settled in Goderich Twp., Huron Co., Ontario, Canada.

Her father William Proctor (b. bat 1831 in Ireland) was in Goderich Twp., Huron Co., Ontario, Canada before 1839.

You can never own too many canoes!!!