Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Great-Grandfather Jean-Baptiste Meunier Meets the Poncas

Jean-Baptiste Meunier (Mignier or Minier) dit Lagassé (Lagacé) (1749–1828), my 5th great-grandfather, was born before 8 Apr 1749 in la-Pocatière, Quebec, Canada.  He died 15 Sep 1828 in Laval, Quebec, Canada.  He married Marie Judith Gravel Brindeliere (1757 - 1779) 30 Oct 1775 in Cap-St-Ignace, Québec.  He was the son of Joseph Meunier Lagassé (Lagacé) (1706 - 1778) and Felicite Caouette (Cahouet) (1709 - 1783).

Jean was also a brother of two famous voyageurs: Andre and Charles Mignier dit Lagassé, both of whom used the Lagassé surname.  Both of these brothers traveled with the famous explorer, map maker David Thompson.

About the Surname

This family descends from Andre Migner (Meignier, Meunier, Minier) dit Lagacé (Lagassé) a French soldier assigned to the Carignan-Salières Regiment that had been sent to Quebec in 1665 by King Louis XIV to protect the French settlers from marauding Iroquois Indians.  In the army he was called by his nickname or noms de guerre, "La Gachette", which means "trigger" and is used to describe someone who can shoot with great ability -- a sharpshooter.  La Gachette eventually evolved to be Lagacé.

This family is difficult to track because of the many different spellings of both the surname "Meunier" and the dit name (called, said, or also known as) "Lagacé."

For whatever reason it appears the Lagassé name was dropped by Jean-Baptiste Meunier and some of his descendants.  However, a great-grandson, George Pinsonneau (changed to) Pierce identified his mother Marie Emélie Meunier (1808–1883) as a Lagassé many years later.

Missouria, Otoe and Ponca Indians by Karl Bodmer

Trading with the Poncas

Research reveals that Jean-Baptiste Meunier became a voyageur and traveled to the Missouri River and other Tributaries of the Mississippi.  About 1794, Jean-Baptiste Meunier and his partner, Jacques Rolland, established trading house near a village of the Ponca Indians on the Missouri River.  

1778 Voyageur contract

Jean-Baptiste Meunier - (1778, Feb 20 - Ezechiel Solomon hired Jean-Baptiste Meunier, voyageur de Laprairie de La magdeleine to go to Mississippi, and spend the winter, Notary Antoine Foucher) From the Archives of Quebec, M620/0097

Ponca Village on the Missouri River by Karl Bodmer


From: Jean-Baptiste Trudeau on the upper Missouri (1794-1796), his journal

[Translation: Two years later, Jean Meunier reached the Poncas village at the mouth of the Niobrara and may be made ​​by grant Carondelet , governor of Louisiana , the exclusivity of trade with this nation for a four-year period starting in 1794.]

[Translation: Jean-Baptiste Meunier, from Vercheres , settled in St. Louis before 1789 , the year he would have been the first white man to discover the Poncas located 400 miles upstream from Missouri. In 1794 is exclusive holder of license deals with this nation. Trudeau to meet again (see sheets 53, 55, 71 and 76 of the manuscript ) . Meunier was more engaged . In some names are spelled Menier , Monier or Munier.]

From: French-Canadian Trappers of the American Plains and Rockies (http://www.ameriquefrancaise.org/en/article-363/) (edited)

There were the settlers of French-Canadian origin operating in the Illinois country. They plied the Missouri River and other tributaries of the Mississippi deeper into the South, seeking additional fur-trading opportunities. 

It must also not be forgotten that there were a large number of subordinates, regular employees, from both small and large companies, as well as the self-employed, all of whom worked to assure the day-to-day operation of the fur-trading industry.

In the last decade of the 18th century, Jacques d'Eglise, Pierre Dorion, Pierre-Antoine Tabeau, Joseph Gravelines, Jean-Baptistes Meunier, Joseph Ladéroute, and Pierre Berger were all involved in operations along the Missouri, as were literally hundreds of others during the decades that would follow.

These are characters who have all long disappeared without a trace, except for their names written in various ledgers-the only written record left in a world where illiteracy reigned supreme.

From: Archaeology at French colonial Cahokia, by Bonnie L. Gums

1794 to 1809 - Jean Baptiste Meunier (Munier); a records search in the Illinois State Archives and the St. Clair County Archives failed to locate any notice of sale by Meunier after 1809.

From:  Prologue to Lewis and Clark: The Mackay and Evans Expedition, by ‪W. Raymond Wood‬
Eight years later, in 1793, the trader Jean Baptiste Meunier (or Monier) claimed that he was the first European to visit and "discover" the Ponca.  He and his partner, Jacques Rolland, nevertheless dealt with them from a trading house they established near the Ponca village. 

From: Before Lewis and Clark: Documents Illustrating the History of the Missouri, 1785-1804, edited by ‪Abraham Phineas Nasatir‬
See the letter from Meunier And Rolland to Carondelet, St. Louis, 1794.

It appears his son Jean Baptiste Meunier also became a voyageur
Jean Baptiste Meunier (Mignier) said Lagassé (Lagacé) (1776–1835), my 4th great-grandfather, was born 24 Apr 1776 in Terrebonne, Quebec, Canada.  He died before 1835 in St-Laurent, Québec, Canada.  He married Marie Angelique Baret (Barette) dit Courville (1779 - 1815) 21 Oct 1799 in Laprairie, Quebec, Canada.

1800 Voyageur contract

(1800, Feb 14 - James & Andrew McGill hired Jean-Baptiste Meunier voyageur de Chambly to go to Mississippi, and spend the winter, notary Louis Chaboillez) From the Archives of Quebec, M620/1200.

Descendancy Chart

Jean-Baptiste Mignier
(Meunier) Lagasse (Lagace) (1749 - 1828) -- my 5th great-grandfather

Jean-Baptiste Mignier
(Minier) Lagasse (Lagace) (1776 - 1835) -- son of Jean-Baptiste Mignier (Meunier) Lagasse (Lagace)

Marie Emélie Meunier
Lagassé (1808 - 1883) -- daughter of Jean-Baptiste Mignier (Minier) Lagasse (Lagace)

Lucy Passino
(1836 - 1917) -- daughter of Marie Emélie (Mary) Meunier Lagassé -- my 2nd great-grandmother (our French Connection)

UPDATE 2019:

An exciting new find about Jean-Baptiste Meunier (Mignier or Minier) dit Lagassé (Lagacé) (1749–1828), my 5th great-grandfather.
We know he was a fur trader trading with the Ponca Indians circa 1789-1799, and we have found many different references with his name spelled various ways (Monier, Munie, Meunier, etc).
The Ponca village was generally located on the Missouri River at the confluence of the Niobrara River.
Today I found a copy of "The Spanish regime in Missouri" by Louis Houck, published in 1909. In it he is called Juan Munie.
I've copied the following three pages that represent his license to trade with the Poncas given by the Spanish government...

1 comment:

  1. I stumbled across this article while researching my fourth great-grandmother, Lucy Passino. I was delighted to discover so much about her french heritage. Thank you.