Friday, August 30, 2013

Cowboy Wisdom -- Horse Lease Risks

I'm in my seventies and own a fine ten year old mare named Kasidy -- she'll be my last horse.  

She should easily live another 20 years, and it's unlikely I'll be riding her in another 10 years because of the osteoarthritis attacking my joints.

I know my horse needs more exercise than I can give her, so I decided to consider half leasing her to an experienced rider. 

A very nice gentleman came to meet Kasidy and took her for a ride.  He fell in love with Kasidy, and I was pleased with his ability as a rider, but when he shared his plans for the horse I immediately went into a defensive mode.  

If someone else was going share my horse they'd have to ride her carefully and make every effort to protect her from injury.

Cowboy Wisdom -- Avoiding Horse Wrecks

Since we hadn't yet signed a lease agreement I decided some "Riding Rules" needed to be put in writing.

There are lots of common sense things I do -- or don't do -- for the good of my horses.  Things like giving them a day off after vaccinations, horseshoeing, or heavy rainstorms.

Like getting off and leading them on long steep downhill trails.  Like avoiding trails with loose rock, or serious deep rills from erosion.  

I don't have the need to prove anything to anyone, and with two damaged, elderly horses in my backyard I've learned we are all better off if we avoid risky trails and try to stay on wider more level dirt roads.  

I got to thinking about some the horse accidents -- cowboys call them wrecks -- I've been involved in as either a participant or spectator.  

Sometimes things go wrong without any warning and there is absolutely nothing the rider could have done to avoid it.  A friend recently said, "Horses are like a suicide looking for a place to happen."  There might be some truth in that.

The Trifecta

Things like the trifecta -- I called it -- a few years back my guardian angel was working overtime to protect me and three different horses I owned from totally unexpected, but very dangerous situations that occurred without warning during a three day span.

Friday: Zinger, my wife's paint horse, and I were racing uphill at a fast trot when he lost his footing on a turn, and came to a sliding stop on his knees.  The only thing that kept me from being pitched over his head was a spur that got caught on my saddlebags.  Neither one of us expected what happened.  In the end Zinger had a pair of scraped knees, and I escaped unscathed.

Saturday: Sunup, my knot-head palomino, was jigging and spinning when he suddenly went over a twenty foot slope backwards.  Somehow he did a 180 degree turn -- in midair -- and managed to land on his feet sliding downhill to a stop.  How we didn't go down is still a wonder I often replay in my mind.

Sunday: Cash, my buckskin horse, and I were at a traffic light.  As we started to move forward on the green light someone behind me suddenly yelled STOP!  My vision had been obscured by a van on my left, so I could not see the car running a red-light at a high rate of speed.  A few more steps and we'd have both been killed.

Horse Falls

There's and old cowboy quote, "It's not if a horse will fall, but when."  It is so true -- here are just a few I've witnessed:

• A sleep walking endurance horse, and her experienced rider do a summersault at a walk.

• A rider galloping across a sagebrush flat hits a badger hole and ploughs up the sod.

• Several horses literally threw themselves on the ground trying to escape stinging bees.

• Horses falling to their knees is so common that each of my horses has done it multiple times.  The reasons vary -- sometimes it's laziness, boredom or just not paying attention to the rider.  Other times it's a misjudged step, a slip off a step up, or loose rock.  Twice I've been on horses who went down when their front feet got stuck in a bog.

Rider Falls

• A bunch of riders were running uphill when one gal's horse crow-hopped, pitched her up in the air, and literally ran out from under her.  We were in a remote area so the rider, who suffered a broken back, had to be taken out on a helicopter.

• Almost any trainer who has worked with jumping horses can tell you tales of horses balking at a jump, and sending their rider flying head first over the jump.

• I've had a horse spook during a gallop, and bolt sideways leaving me in mid-air during the maneuver.

• I've seen a rider shift their weight the wrong way when a horse was spinning, and the rider was literally flung off. 

Bullies, Showoffs, and Idiots

I've known more than a few horses that were hurt by bullies, showoffs, and idiots.

I once boarded my horses where one of the caretakers was an ill-tempered bully.  I watched him punch a horse in the face for being too friendly.  I watched him take water away from a horse during 100 degree weather because he claimed the horse drank and peed too much.  When I saw him take a hammer to a horse that was the final straw, so I moved.

One of my crippled elderly horses was a reining horse in his youth.  He could do wonderful sliding stops and his spinning was a thing of beauty.  But, horses are athletes that can be easily injured if not properly warmed up.  One day I arrived at our boarding ranch unannounced, and caught a horse trainer showing off to a crowd of students on my horse.  Needless to say that trainer was told to keep her hands off my horse in the future.

Alcohol and horses don't mix.  I have a friend who was drinking and riding with a buddy.  They were racing on a bridle path, but couldn't get stopped before they hit a paved street.  My friend now has a few pounds of assorted screws and rods that were used to repair his broken bones.  Another fellow I know lost his horse in a drunken stupor only to wake up, and learn his horse was killed by a car on its way home.

Having thought about all the foregoing incidents I sat down to write some rules for my new lessee.  

Here's what I came up with:

Please be advised:  Kasidy is my horse.  I am allowing a half lease because Kasidy needs more exercise than I can give her.

I do not want Kasidy to be injured as a result of being ridden recklessly by someone else.  Kasidy should have a lifespan of at least twenty more years if she is properly handled and cared for.  

Kasidy is to be ridden by me and the lessee only -- NO OTHER RIDERS.

Horses, like people, can be injured if not properly warmed up before exercise.  

Horses, like people, can be injured on risky terrain, e.g.: excessively steep hills, deep sand, rocky trails and creeks, snow and ice, bogs and mud.  

Horses unlike people can injure themselves if exposed to frightening situations they do not understand.  The lessee agrees to comfort and protect Kasidy and to use extreme caution when approaching anything that scares or alarms her.


• No riding the day after shoeing.

• No riding the day after shots.

• No riding the day after a long ride -- say 5 miles or more.

• No riding the day after a rain storm -- common courtesy to allow bridle paths to dry.

• No long rides on Saturday.  I don't want Kasidy exhausted for my Sunday ride.

• No trailering of horse without presenting lessor with copy of morality and major medical insurance policy covering Kasidy.  Policy must name lessor as additional insured.

• No trailering without advance approval in writing (specific destination with address and contact phone number to be identified).

• No boarding of my mare near stallions unless they are enclosed separately in a minimum 7 foot high enclosure.

• In the unlikely event Kasidy becomes impregnated the lessee and his associates shall have no claim to a foal.

• No swimming of horse -- water crossing of shallow creeks is acceptable.  Kasidy crosses clear water without any problems, but she will not go into black bogs.  DO NOT TAKE HER INTO ANY BOGGY BLACK MUD OF UNDETERMINED DEPTH.

• Kasidy may not be trained by any trainer -- for any reason -- without my approval in writing.

• This horse may not be entered in an kind of extreme cowboy sports or competitions, e.g.: endurance races, barrel races, mounted shooting, or roping events.  My goal is to give Kasidy a long life -- free of pain -- caused by sports injuries.  Kasidy should be used only on moderate trails and quiet gymkhana events such as trail classes or walk, trot and cantor shows.

• No spinning or sliding stops -- other than what is necessary for a safe trail ride.

• Do not run Kasidy on rocky surfaces or in creeks.

• Under no circumstances is Kasidy to be given any over the counter drugs or medicines without first obtaining approval from the lessor in writing.

• Lessee is responsible for Kasidy's veterinarian bills and emergency medical attention as a result of accidents away from home.  Lessor to be advised immediately if it becomes necessary to call a vet.

Horse Leases are not simple

A half horse lease sounds simple.  The lessor and lessee each share half the costs to keep a horse, and each enjoys half time use of the horse.  Or do they?

Here are a few things I put down for consideration of a lease...

Monthly costs per horse (grooming supplies not included):

• hay $100/mo
• grain $20/mo
• shoes $50/mo
• worm medicines $5/mo
• cookies, treats & salt blocks $5+/mo
• fly system share $14/mo
• shavings (stall bedding) $45/mo
• annual veterinarian costs: shots, teeth, physical checkup $33/mo
• stall cleaning $102/mo ($3 per horse per day + share of $60/mo fee city barrels)
• turnout & stall repairs (DG & sand) $26/mo

Total $400/mo per horse (half of the above are costs ($200/mo).  The above listed costs allow no value for the horse or any of the ranch facilities.

Not included in the monthly costs above (estimated at $200/mo):

• putting on and taking off fly masks in summer months.
• blanketing and un-blanketing during winter months
• time feeding twice per day
• time cleaning and refilling water daily (cost of water)
• trips to feed store, and calls to feed supplier, veterinarian, ferrier etc.
• share of value for barn, fencing, gates, electrical system, water system, ranch property, and repairs to same.
• insurance and license fees.

The lessor agrees to take care of all the above, and has included them here for informational purposes only.

Tack and supplies to be obtained by lessee:

• shampoo, conditioner, mane & tail detangler, fly spray,  green spot remover are to be provided by lessee.

• shedding blade, curry comb, brushes (course & fine), hoof pick, mane brush, tote, wash bucket are to be provided by lessee.

• saddle, bridle, "Monte Foreman" bit, reins, halter, lead rope, saddle pads, cinches, fly mask and winter blanket need to be provided by lessee.

The lessor agrees to make the above necessities available for a period of not to exceed 30 days from the beginning of the lease.

Questions that need to be determined:

What is an emergency condition?

Decision to euthanize the horse in the event of colic or extreme injury -- who pays?

So in the end -- after considering all that can go wrong -- I decided that the risk of injury to my horse and the liability for me are just too great to share my horse with anyone.  Kasidy will not be leased to anyone.

If you are thinking of leasing your horse I hope this helps make you aware of things to consider.  If you are thinking of leasing a horse then maybe this will give you a view of the owners concerns.

Happy trails.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Cowboy Legacy -- A Million Ancestors in 20 Generations

Did you happen to watch the genealogy TV series "Who Do you Think You Are?" on August 27, 2013?  I was amazed to learn supermodel Cindy Crawford is descended from Charlemagne King of France (742 AD - 814 AD)

I have been studying my family history for over forty years and I know that everyone has two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, sixteen great-great-grandparents and so on. I've learned that as you move backwards, each generation doubles the number of ancestors from the previous generation.  So, when you go back twenty or thirty generations the numbers are incredible:

20 generations: more than one million ancestors
30 generations: more than one billion ancestors

This morning I decided to research one of my earliest ancestors on  I was amazed to see what has turned up since the last time I looked him up a few years back.

Henry Spencer (1392 - 1477)

He is Henry Spencer, born about 1392 in Badby, Northamptonshire, England, son of Thomas Spencer and Joan, daughter of Richard Pollock, of Kent, lived here.  Henry Spencer of Badby, Esquire, held certain lands and was lessee of the demesne and tithes of Badby under the Abbey of Evesham in the reign of Henry VI., and also in the reign of Edward IV, from 1451 to 1477.  The Spencer Family removed to Everdon.  The death of William Spencer of Badby and Everdon on August 17, 1576, is noted in Baker's History.  Henry died in 1476

My lineage back to Henry is as follows:

Henry Spencer (1392 - 1477)
is your 17th great grandfather

Sir John Spencer (1434 - 1475)
son of Henry Spencer

Robert Spencer (1460 - 1521)
son of Sir John Spencer

John Spencer (1477 - 1532)
son of Robert Spencer

John Spencer (1505 - 1558)
son of John Spencer

Michael Spencer (1530 - 1599)
son of John Spencer

Gerard Spencer (1576 - 1646)
son of Michael Spencer

Ensign Gerard Spencer (1614 - 1685)
son of Gerard Spencer

Hannah Spencer (1641 - 1691)
daughter of Ensign Gerard Spencer

James; Deacon Brainerd (1669 - 1742)
son of Hannah Spencer

Deborah Brainerd (1698 - 1745)
daughter of James; Deacon Brainerd

Oliver Bailey (1738 - 1822)
son of Deborah Brainerd

Thomas Bailey (1765 - 1854)
son of Oliver Bailey

Smith Bailey (1789 - 1862)
son of Thomas Bailey

Orange Bailey (1811 - 1905)
son of Smith Bailey

David Solomon Bailey (1837 - 1915)
son of Orange Bailey

David Jackson Bailey (1865 - 1949)
son of David Solomon Bailey

Franklin 'Frank' Jackson Bailey (1886 - 1968)
son of David Jackson Bailey -- granddad

Famous People Descended From Henry

When you get back 20 generations -- as I have with Henry Spencer (1392 - 1477) -- you are likely to find many famous people who are also direct descendants of that ancestor.  

In my case they are...

Presidents George HW Bush and George W Bush

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

President Calvin Coolidge

President George Washington

Princess Diana 

Prince William

Studying family history can be an amazing trip, and is a great way to renew your knowledge of world history.

Happy hunting.

Reel Cowboys of the Santa Susanas -- John Hodiak

John Hodiak (1914-1955) was an American actor who worked in radio, stage and film.  He died suddenly from a heart attack at age 41.  He married actress Anne Baxter on July 7, 1946 but they divorced on January 27, 1953.

His Santa Susana filming locations filmography includes:

Harvey Girls, The (1946) starring Judy Garland, John Hodiak and Ray Bolger (Iverson Ranch) MGM

Ambush (1950) starring Robert Taylor, John Hodiak and Arlene Dahl (Corriganville) MGM

Ambush at Tomahawk Gap (1953) starring John Hodiak, John Derek and David Brian (Corriganville) Columbia

Conquest of Cochise (1953) starring John Hodiak, Robert Stack, Joy Page (Corriganville) Columbia

Dragonfly Squadron (1954) starring John Hodiak, Barbara Britton and Bruce Bennett (Iverson Ranch) Allied Artists

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Cowboy Wisdom -- Lead Core Trolling

My dad had been an enthusiastic fisherman during his entire life.  When he retired -- in his mid sixties -- his passion for fishing shifted into high gear, so he moved to northern California where he could be even closer to better lakes.

I was fortunate enough to take my kids and rendezvous with him on a number of occasions at his favorite fishing spots -- Lake Siskiyou and Bridgeport Reservoir. 

Dad introduced me to the fine art of lead-core trolling.  I remember sitting for many hours as dad worked his Valco aluminum boat in and out of coves and off various points in search of the next big trout.  

The droning putt, putt, putt of the motor and the smell of exhaust never appealed to me, but I treasure the hours spent with my folks -- both of which have been gone for many years now.

Dad with a nice catch of rainbows picked trolling on the surface

Mom could hold her own, and often caught the biggest fish

I'm getting ready to head off on another fishing adventure of my own.  They say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

My fishing methods are a wee bit different than dad's -- I prefer the near silent sound of a canoe moving through the water with only the gentle dripping of water from my paddle.  

I also prefer to troll with a lighter rod and reel, but I must admit dad's lead-core rig generally yields larger fish.

Yesterday while checking my gear for the fishing trip I dug out dad's old tackle box to see what I'd need to do some lead-core trolling.  I also located his instructions that I wrote down many years back…

Dad's Lead Core Trolling Rig

5' - 8" Kencor trolling rod (rated for 10 - 20 lb line)

Penn Mag 10 reel

30 ft of a fishing reel backing line (not absolutely necessary)

100 yards (10 colors) of 14 lb lead core Cortland line 

27-30 ft of a 20 lb monofilament -- use a lead-core leader knot (illustrated above) to attach monofilament to lead-core line.

ball bearing swivel

Luhr Jensen Ford Fender "Lake Troll Model T Flasher" (brass/nickel overcast days and bright nickel for clear sunny days) -- my favorite -- but cowbells or half fast flashers also work pretty well.

16-20" of 4# monofilament

Tru-Turn size 2 (cam-action) hook.  Thread half of a nightcrawler over hook with worm threader.  You can also use a needle fish, super duper, or similar lure.

You'll have to find your own favorite lake.  I recommend starting at three colors (roughly ten feet deep for each color or 30 feet).  Trying fishing shallower or deeper until the action is best.

Happy fishing

Friday, August 16, 2013

Cowboy Wisdom -- Vintage Backpacking Gear

Will Rogers once said, "Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment."  That quote sure reminds me of my earliest attempts at backpacking.

My first hike-in pack trip was with my folks about 1956.  Dad drove to the end of a really rough dirt road, parked the car, and unloaded our gear.  We were at the Mineral King ranger station, and were headed for a place called Eagle Lake.  I don't remember much about our gear.  I think we had some WWII wood and canvas pack frames, heavy kapok filled sleeping bags, a couple of Boy Scout canteens, and lots of velveeta cheese and hot dogs. 

We weren't very savvy hikers to say the least.  Mom wore the only boots she owned -- a pair of cowboy boots.  Before that trip was over she had some awful blisters.  In fact, the only thing I recall about the trip was worrying about mom.

A couple of years later dad decided we ought to try packin' in again.  This time he picked early June when it wouldn't be too hot, and we headed to a trailhead at Convict Lake.  He had a forest service map that showed Lake Genevieve a short ten miles away.  We had the same gear we had used at Mineral King.  This time mom wisely opted out, and stayed home.

Our hike started out pretty easy while we hiked the level trail around the perimeter of Convict Lake, but as soon as we started gaining elevation we encountered a lot of deep snow.  Dad was concerned about snow bridges over a creek we had been following, so he suggested we tie a length of rope to our belts.

It was a real struggle making the climb to the lake because we lost all sign of a trail in the snow, and we ended up crawling the last couple of steep slopes on our hands and knees.  When we finally arrived at the lake we discovered it was completely covered with ice except for a small area at the inlet and outlet.  We couldn't find any dry firewood, and ended up hacking a few splinters off a dead cedar stump.  That was the longest, coldest night I ever spent outdoors.

The next morning I fished what little open water there was, but didn't have any luck.  We pulled out around noon, and dad literally raced down the mountain.  He even discarded his pack and kapok bag, so he could walk a little faster.  That was his last wilderness journey on foot.

Between 1962 and 1965, I served as an airborne special forces soldier where I gained a multitude of outdoor skills.  By the late 1960s I was thrilled to discover that backpacking was gaining popularity and plenty of manufactures were offering new and innovative gear for hiking enthusiasts.

I didn't have much money those days, but I could always scratch up a little cash for gasoline, and make weekends drives to different High Sierra destinations to try a little hiking and fishing.  Little by little I gathered some decent backpacking gear.  We had a couple of Kelty backpacks, some nice lightweight down sleeping bags, an Optimus backpacking stove, and a set of Sigg nesting pots.

I introduced each of my children to backpacking.  When they were little they each had their own little pack -- it only contained their down jacket -- but it made them feel like they were a big part of the adventure.

In time my quests for adventure changed from backpacking to canoeing and horseback trips, but I will always cherish those early youthful hiking adventures.

My eldest grandson -- age 19 -- just advised me that he wants to start backpacking.  I will encourage him as much as possible.  I will even offer a little advice that might save him some money.

Specialty adventure stores are a dangerous place, and they can separate you from your money in a heartbeat.  Over a bunch of years I've acquired dozens of packs, sleeping bags, camp stoves, and a plethora of miscellaneous gear only to replace it a short time later with something better.

So, here's my advice to my grandson.  Go visit REI, Sports Chalet and Adventure 16.  Ask all the questions you can, but keep your money in your pocket.

Study the online ads for Campmor, LL Bean, Cabelas and Sportsmans Guide.  Make a list of the minimum things you need.  Read the latest edition of Colin Fletcher's "The Complete Walker IV" (my 1968 edition served me well).  

Then go shopping on craigslist

People -- like me -- buy good gear only to decide they need something better.  If you are patient you can get everything you want for a fraction of what it costs new in a retail store.

As a young camper I started out happy to have a $5 plastic tube tent to keep me warm and dry.  Have you looked at today's prices for an ultralight backpacker's tent?  If you're young and inspired you can surely deal with a few bugs if it'll save you a couple hundred dollars.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Cowboy Legacy -- Great Granddad Was A Fur Trader

I have been fascinated by canoeing and canoe travel for over fifty years, but it was just three years ago that I made a genealogy breakthrough and traced my ancestry back to the very beginnings of Canadian history.  SEE: Cowboy Legacy -- French Connection…

This past week I had an opportunity to go camping with my grandsons.  I introduced them to canoeing, and at night my campfire tales were stories of our family history and its association with canoes and the fur trade.

I explained to them that several of our ancestors had been engaged in the fur trade as a coureur de bois -- or voyageur -- in Nouvelle France during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.  Many of them lived in Laprairie, Quebec, just across the river from Montreal.

They learned that a coureur de bois was a French-Canadian woodsman who traveled by canoe throughout New France (later known as Canada) and parts of the United States to trade various European goods for furs -- especially beaver pelts -- with First Nations people (Native Americans also called Indians).

When the fur trade first began, First Nations people brought furs to the trading posts in their canoes.  Furs were unloaded and traded for goods such as muskets, axes, knives, blankets, cooking pots and trinkets -- such as trade silver and beads.  It didn't take long before some of the men at the trading posts decided they would go into the forests to get the fur themselves.  These men became known as coureurs de bois (runners of the woods).

The coureurs de bois learned the ways of the woods from the First Nations people. They learned how to canoe, hunt and snowshoe.  Native peoples taught them how to construct canoes out of birch bark.  They dressed in the same kinds of clothes and ate the same food as the First Nation peoples -- typical meals consisted of pemmican, deer or moose meat and dried corn or peas.

Fur traders would leave their Montreal homes in the spring with canoes filled with supplies and trade goods.  They traveled down the Ottawa River to Lake Huron, and from there they would travel another month or more -- paddling as many as 12 hours a day -- until they reached their final destination up to 1200 miles away.

Because it was dangerous work the coureurs de bois often traveled in large groups known as fur brigades. Together they could set up camp and help keep watch for enemies at night. They also had more men to hunt and fish for food as they traveled.

The life of the courier de bois was hard.  They had to portage their canoes, supplies and furs; battle with insects; hang their food to protect it from animals; and in the winter they had to dig snow caves to keep warm at night.

Our Fur Trade Ancestry:

Jean Testard and Anne Godefroy...

Jean Testard dit Lafontaine -- my 9th great grandfather [Fur Trade - Occupation Carpenter and Bourgeois] Born abt 1612 in Rouen, Seine-Maritime, Haute-Normandie, France. Jean died in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, on 18 Mar 1705; he was 93.

Anne Godefroy -- my 9th great grandmother [Fur Trade link] Anne died in Rouen, Seine-Maritime, Haute-Normandie, France, on 26 Mar 1678; she was 63. Born in 1615 in Rouen, Seine-Maritime, Haute-Normandie, France. Her brother was Jean Godefroy deLintot…

Jean Godefroy deLintot  -- my 9th great grand uncle (1607 - 1681) interpreter, seigneur, member of the Communauté des Habitants; b. 1607 or 1608, son of Pierre Godefroy, esquire, and of Perrette Cavelier of Lintot, district of Caux in Normandy; d. 1681 at Trois-Rivières.

Brother of Thomas Godefroy de Normanville, Jean Godefroy arrived in New France with him about 1626 and served under Champlain in the capacity of interpreter. After the capture of Quebec by the Kirkes in 1629, Jean Godefroy stayed on in the colony, living in the woods with the Indians. 

Soon after the return of the French, Godefroy settled at Trois-Rivères (1633?), where he was to spend the rest of his life. On two occasions in 1636, he is referred to as a “settler at Trois-Rivères,” where he was furthermore granted a seigneury on 1 Dec. 1637.

Having become a seigneur-settler, the former interpreter turned to clearing the land, although continuing to trade in furs. From 1646 on, together with his relative Jean-Paul Godefroy, he was a member of the Communauté des Habitants.

Head of the Godefroy de Tonnancour family, Jean Godefroy had married, probably towards the end of 1636 (the private marriage contract is dated 15 December), Marie Leneuf, daughter of Mathieu Leneuf, Sieur du Hérisson, and of Jeanne Le Marchant of Caen, Normandy, and sister of Michel Leneuf. Out of this marriage there were born between 1637 and 1658 11 children, of whom 8 were sons who almost all distinguished themselves in the service of New France.

Jean Godefroy’s worth was recognized by Intendant Talon, who in 1668 obtained letters of nobility for the former intepreter and his family; unfortunately, because of an administrative error, these letters could not be registered within the required time and were, theoretically, cancelled. In practice, however, the intendants Duchesneau and de Meulles*, in 1681 and 1685, as well as the king himself, in 1718, officially recognized the Godefroy arms.

Participation in the fur trade and the cultivation of his seigneury had not brought wealth to Godefroy.  In 1672 the governor, Buade de Frontenac commended him to the king’s generosity, as “one of the first to have come to this colony . . . , burdened with a very large family, having several daughters and six sons [two others having died, one sometime before 1655, the other in 1661], all of whom are courageous men who are the first to offer to go on any expedition . . . , there being no better canoemen in the whole colony”; the Sieur Godefroy however “is not too comfortably off, [having] a daughter whom he cannot marry because he has nothing to give her as a dowry.” The king turned a deaf ear to this request.

Godefroy lived on his lands until 1681, dying shortly after 8 July of that year. His wife died at Trois-Rivières on 27 Oct. 1688.

Francois Le Ber and Jeanne Testard….

Fur exhibit at Maison LeBer-LeMoyne Lachine Museum

Francois Le Ber -- my 8th great grandfather [Fur Trader - Francois and his three sons were Coureur-de-bois. They were known as the fathers of the fur trade.] Born in 1626 in Rouen, Seine-Maritime, Haute-Normandie, France. Francois died in Laprairie, Quebec, Canada, on 19 May 1694; he was 68.

Jeanne Testard -- my 8th great grandmother [Fur Trade link] Born in 1642 in Rouen, Seine-Maritime, Haute-Normandie, France. Jeanne died in Laprairie, Quebec, Canada, on 18 Jan 1723; she was 81. Daughter of Jean Testard and Anne Godefroy.

Francois Bourassa and Marie Le Ber

Francois Bourassa -- my 7th great grandfather [Fur Trade - Francois signed on as a Coureur De Bois to go to Fort Michilimackinac] -- a French fort and trading post located along the southern shore of the strategic Straits of Mackinac connecting Lake Huron and Lake Michigan -- in 1690, but did not return in the fall 1691 as planned.  What happened to Francois was unknown.  Marie believed her husband was dead and she was referred to as a widow in September 1693.  But Francois returned safe and sound in 1694.] Francois died in Montrèal, Quebec, Canada, on 9 May 1708; he was 49.   Born in 1659 in LuÁon, Eure-et-Loir, Centre, France. One of his sons was Rene Bourassa…

Rene Bourassa -- my 6th great grand uncle [Fur Trade - followed in the footsteps of his father] and he became a partner of Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de La Vérendrye in the fur trade and established Fort Vermilion (Manitoba) in 1736.]

Marie Le Ber -- my 7th great grandmother [Fur Trade link] Marie died in La Prairie, Quebec, Canada, on 23 Dec 1756; she was 90. Born on 6 Dec 1666 in Montrèal, Quebec, Canada. Daughter of Francois Leber and Jeanne Testard.


Francois Leber (1626 - 1694) is my 8th great grandfather.
My lineage to Francois looks like this:

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

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

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

Gabriel Pinsonneau (1770 - 1813)
son of Joseph Pinsonneau

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

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

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

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

Velma Veda Bailey (1914 - 2004)
daughter of Lydia Corinna Brown

Jerry L Head England
son of Velma Veda Bailey

Other fur traders among my ancestors include:  

Francois Dupuis -- 6th great grandfather, Moise Dupuis -- 7th great grandfather, Jean Cusson -- 9th great grandfather, Andre' Robidoux dit Espagnol -- 9th great grandfather, Denis Duquet -- 8th great grandfather, Charles Boyer -- 9th great grandfather, and Charles Diel -- 8th great grandfather. 

Fur Trade Glossary:

Bourgeois, according to an 18th-century writer, were not nobles, ecclesiastics or magistrates, but city dwellers who "nevertheless by their properties, by their riches, by the honorable employments which adorn them and by their commerce are above the artisans and what is called the people." By extension, it meant the owner of a ship, the man who gave artisans work and, in Canadian usage, the fur trader employing hired men.

Coureur des bois
(French for "runner of the woods") a fur trader who went into the woods to find fur and trade fur with First Nations.
Compagnie des Habitants (or Community of Inhabitants ) is a company founded in 1645 and consists of traders in New France who owned the monopoly on the fur trade of the Company of New France from 1645 to 1663 .

Fur brigade
Convoys of Canadian Indian fur trappers who traveled between their home trading posts and a larger HBC post in order to supply the inland post with goods and supply the HBC post with furs. Travel was usually done on the rivers by canoe or, in certain prairie situations, by horse. For example, they might travel to Hudson Bay or James Bay from their inland home territories. This pattern was most prevalent during the early 19th century.

By canoes, which comprised the most common fur brigades, the trip from the home fort headed downstream in groups of four to six large thirty foot freighters with twenty-four to thirty-six voyageurs. These loads were relatively light, consisting mainly of furs. By contrast, the return voyage was upstream and involved much heavier bulkier loads, being the ammunition, traps and various other supplies needed for the next winters trapping season.

These brigades were an annual event, involving the most able and skilled men of the tribe. Depending upon distances traveled, a brigade could occupy much of July, all August and a successful return to the home fort in early September.

Samuel de Champlain
Samuel de Champlain born about 1567 and died December 25, 1635, "The Father of New France", was a French navigator, cartographer, draughtsman, soldier, explorer, geographer, ethnologist, diplomat, and chronicler. He founded New France and Quebec City on July 3, 1608.

Born into a family of master mariners, Champlain, while still a young man, began exploring North America in 1603 under the guidance of François Gravé Du Pont.  In 1608, he established the French settlement that is now Quebec City.  Champlain was the first European to explore and describe the Great Lakes, and published maps of his journeys and accounts of what he learned from the natives and the French living among the Natives. He formed relationships with local Montagnais and Innu and later with others farther west (Ottawa River, Lake Nipissing, or Georgian Bay), with Algonquin and with Huron Wendat, and agreed to provide assistance in their wars against the Iroquois.

In 1620, Louis XIII ordered Champlain to cease exploration, return to Quebec, and devote himself to the administration of the country.  In every way but formal title, Samuel de Champlain served as Governor of New France, a title that may have been formally unavailable to him due to his non-noble status.  He established trading companies that sent goods, primarily fur, to France, and oversaw the growth of New France in the St. Lawrence River valley until his death in 1635.

A person who owned a seigneury, which was a large area of land given to someone by the King of France.

A person, European or Aborigianal, who transported furs, by canoe, to and from fur posts. The word is sometimes used for coureurs de bois.

For my canoeing adventures see: "Fishing and Canoeing Tales"…