Monday, August 15, 2016

Cousin François Rivet Mountain Man - Traveled with Lewis and Clark

François Rivet, Sr. (my 2nd cousin 7x removed), the son of Nicolas-Pierre Rivet and Marie-Madeleine Gauthier dit Landreville of L'Assomption parish, Quebec, was baptized at the St. Sulpice Church on 7 June 1754.  He was a great-grandson of Maurice Rivet (1642 - 1712), my 8th great-grandfather, who was the first to immigrate to New France (Canada) in 1664.  François died at French Prairie, Oregon 15 Sep 1852, at age 96

François Rivet came from a family of Voyageurs 

1780s, According to records in the archives of Quebec, François signed at least three legal voyageur contracts in the 1790s,  Chances are good that he also worked as a coureur de bois during the 1780s and 1790s.

1791, Here is an excerpt from Quebec's archives: (1791, Nov 8 - Jacques Giasson embauché (hired) François Rivet voyageur de L’Assomption aller à (to go to) Chaque fois que nécessaire (Wherever required) Nord excluded, 3 years, Notary Louis Chaboillez). 

François Rivet's grandfather, Pierre Rivet, and his father, Nicolas-Pierre Rivet, were Voyageurs

1703 - 1736, Contracts for Pierre Rivet (my 8th great-uncle) from the archives of Quebec: (1703 - hired as a voyageur to go to Detroit).  Pierre Rivet was still a voyageur 30 years later: (1736, May 28 - Gatineau et Hamelin embauché Pierre Rivet aller à Poste de la Riviere St- Joseph Notary Claude-Cyprien-Jacques Porlier)

1738, Contract for Nicolas-Pierre Rivet (my 1st cousin 8x removed) from the archives of Quebec: (1738, May 16 - Marin Hurtebize embauché Nicolas Rivet aller à poste des Illinois Notary François Lepailleur de LaFerté)

After 1800, François worked his way up Missouri River with other Trappers

Before 1800, François Rivet crossed into the Mississippi drainage and traveled with several seasoned Indian traders and trappers.  They worked their way up Missouri River where they met and learned about Kansa, Omaha, Yankton Sioux, Teton Lakota, Arikara, Mandan, and Hidatsa tribes.

1802-03, St. Louis entrepreneur Regis Loisel took a trading adventure to the Teton Lakota. An engagée called "La Riviere" was nearly shot by the Bois Brulé band. This was most likely François Rivet, who then returned to St. Louis, with Loisel, the following spring.

Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark and The Corps of Discovery

1803-04, Winter - St. Louis entrepreneur Auguste Chouteau obliged Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark by engaging eight voyageurs to paddle a cargo pirogue. Three others were hired to assist the soldiers in working a keelboat. Pierre Cruzatte le borgne (one-eye) would be the bowman while François Labiche set the stroke as the first oar.

The third, François Rivet, joined the expedition at St. Charles, but agreed to go only as far as the Mandans. The Corps of Discovery wintered at the Mandan/Hidatsa villages that year.

1804, November - Francois, and three others: DeChamps, Malboeuf and Carson, were discharged, so they built a hut of their own next to Fort Mandan, and remained there under the protection of the expedition during the winter of 1804–05.

1805, Spring - François and Philippe Degie, who had attached himself to the party on October 18, 1804, built a canoe of their own and descended the Missouri with Warfington's return party as far as the Arikara nation.

1805, September 8 - General James Wilkinson led pirogue party, including Francois Rivet, that departed St. Louis for the upper Missouri River. Their intent was to ascend the Missouri and enter the Yellowstone River (River Piere jaune).

1806 - When Lewis and Clark returned from the Pacific they found Francois Rivet living among the Mandans.

Mountain Man and Trapper in the Pacific Northwest

1807, September - John Mcclellan, Francois Rivet, and a large party of American and Canadian independent trappers (perhaps including Charles Courtin, Registre Bellaire, and Michel Bordeaux dit Bourdon) encamped in the Bitterroot Valley. McClellan sent word to Thompson of the Northwest Company (then on the Columbia River) not to encroach on their Bitterroot trading territory.

1808 - Rivet was with Captain McClellan when he explored the Clark Fork River and identified a practical route between the Missouri and Columbia river.

1807-08, Winter - Rivet escaped when eight men of the Bitterroot camp, including the leader John McClellan, were killed in a battle with Blackfeet or Gros Ventres.

1808, Winter - François Rivet was short on ammunition and obliged to trade with the North West Company. The British leader, David Thompson, had set up an outpost at the falls of the Kootenay River.

1809 - Perhaps François Rivet was with Manuel Lisa's trading company, while he was in the Flathead country of northwest Montana.

1809, October - David Thompson, North West Company trader, is now building the Flathead Post (Salish House above the falls of the Clark Fork River, near Libby, Montana) with Finan McDonald, James McMillan, Michel Kinville, Metis, Francois Sans Facon, Metis, Francois Gregoire, Metis, Pierre Gregnon, Metis, François Rivet, Metis, Brucier, Pembrook (Pemruck), Bellaire, James McMillan and a voyager, likely Michel Bordeaux dit Bourdon, Metis and Jean Baptiste Boucher.

1809, François was making a living trapping beaver when he formed a country relationship with a young Flathead (some say Salish) widow who was later identified in Catholic mission records as Therese Tete Platte. She had married a neighboring tribesman when she was about 19 and had a baby girl before she entered the relationship with François. The couples' first child received his father's name, François.

François Rivet and the North West Company

1813 - François was now employed by the North West Company and living among the Flatheads.  He was still there in 1824, working as both trapper and interpreter.

1811, June - David Thompson was under orders to descend the Columbia River and confirm an arrangement with the rival Pacific Fur Company. En route from Spokane House to the departure point at Kettle Falls, Thompson found the Rivet family camped along the trail with four tents of Indians.

1813 - Competition between the North West Company and the rival Pacific Fur Company provided François Rivet with a competitive market. Until the two staffs merged in 1813-14, François Rivet kept to a middle ground.

In a list compiled at Astoria, François was described as a freeman hired for one year as an interpreter for 600 livres an arrangement that continued at Spokane House until 1816.

1818 - François Rivet and his family continued to tent and travel with the Salish.

At Spokane House in the fall of 1818, the North West Company trader Peter Skene Ogden set up with Rivet's young step-daughter, Julia. Their son Charles was born on September 5, 1819.

1821, The North West Company and Hudson's Bay Company finally gave up their unproductive rivalry and formed a new organization.

François Rivet and the Hudson's Bay Company

1824 - François joined the Alexander Ross Snake Country brigade of 140 trappers operating from Boise to Bear Lake and the upper Snake in the Yellowstone Park region. In Ross' journal Francois Rivet is described as an interpreter owning 2 guns, 6 traps, 15 horses and 1 lodge

1824, December - Peter Skene Ogden took over the brigade and Ross returned east to the Red River settlements.

When Ogden took the lead of the Snake River Expeditions his goal was to trap all of the beavers in the region - including most of the southern part of Idaho - jointly held by the U.S. and Britain.

It was a "scorched earth" policy to discourage rival American trappers from wanting to invade what Hudson's Bay Company considered their hunting domain.
On the first expedition, Ogden took his family with him in a party of 120 men, women and children, which included Julia's stepfather Francois Rivet.

1829 - Francois Rivet, now known as "Old Rivet," transferred to Fort Colville on the upper Columbia, and in 1832, at the age of seventy-five, he was placed in charge of the post by the Hudson's Bay Company.

Fort Colvile (also Fort Colville) was built by the Hudson's Bay Company at Kettle Falls on the Columbia River in 1825 and operated in the Columbia fur district of the company.

Retirement to French Prairie, Oregon

1838 - Francois Rivet had been employed by the Hudson's Bay Company from 1821 to 1837, and in 1838 Francois retired and settled at French Prairie in the Willamette Valley, Oregon.

The same year, 1838, saw the arrival of the Catholic fathers in the Willamette Valley, Old Rivet and Therese Tete Platte were among several dozen couples married formally in the "big wedding" immediately instigated by the priests. Thereafter Francois Rivet appears regularly in church records as godfather to children of his old companions or as witness to their marriages.

Prior to the land laws of 1850, while sovereignty of the Oregon country was still in abeyance, settlers merely laid claim to any unoccupied area to their liking. Rivet chose a tract south of the St. Paul Mission, apparently sharing it with his sons Antoine and Joseph, who were now farmers on the Prairie with families of their own.

Francois Rivet's name does not appear as a taxpayer in 1844 nor on the census roll of 1850, yet he was certainly living on his claim on those dates.

Among the disputed lists of voters at the Champoeg meeting in 1843 his name is never given as one of those present, but he was one of three vice presidents at a meeting the following year, when a memorial, commonly known as "The French Petition" was addressed to Congress, asking for some assurance of governmental interest in Oregon and protection against Indian uprisings.

Francois Rivet died in Oregon 27 Sep 1852, at age 96. He is buried in the Old Saint Paul Roman Catholic Mission Cemetery, Saint Paul, Marion County, Oregon


‪The Mountain men and the fur trade of the far West‬, by ‪LeRoy Reuben Hafen‬, published by ‪A. H. Clark Co.‬, 1968

Sign-Talker: The Adventure of George Drouillard on the Lewis and Clark Expedition

The Travels of David Thompson 1784-1812: Volume II Foothills and Forests 1798–1806

French Canadians, Furs, and Indigenous Women in the Making of the Pacific Northwest

By Honor and Right: How One Man Boldly Defined the Destiny of a Nation

The Intrepid Voyageurs - Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation

Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin

Oregon Trail Timeline 1792-1815

"Names of people in the West, during the Fur Trade"

Lineage from  François Rivet (1754 - 1852) -- my 2nd cousin 7x removed

Nicolas-Pierre Rivet (1719 - 1811) -- father of François Rivet

Pierre Rivet (1683 - 1753) -- father of Nicolas-Pierre Rivet

Maurice Rivet (1642 - 1712) -- father of Pierre Rivet

Marie Rivet (1673 - 1705) -- daughter of Maurice Rivet

Marie-Françoise Deneau dit Destaillis (1698 - 1737) -- daughter of Marie Rivet

Marie Madeleine Duquet (1734 - 1791) -- daughter of Marie-Françoise Deneau dit Destaillis

Gabriel Pinsonneau (Pinsono) (1770 - 1807) -- son of Marie Madeleine Duquet

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

Lucy Passino (1836 - 1917) -- daughter of Gabriel Pinsonneau -- my 2nd great-grandmother


  1. Just stumbled upon this. Great bio on Francois Rivet! Researching members of Peter Skene Ogden's 1824-25 Snake Country Expedition in conjunction with upcoming Ogden Valley Bicentennial celebration. Not Racquet Head. D Martin

  2. very nice. Francois was also a relative of my family. I guess we all really do stem from Jacques and Maurice Rivest. Nice reading.

  3. Francois comes in tree as 2nd cousin 6x removed. So hello cousin!

    1. Howdy cousin. Francois was truly one of the more interesting characters in our family tree. :-)

  4. PSO did not abandon his son Peter Junior. He was brought to Ft Spokane to live with PSO’s new Salish wife Julie Rivet. PSO’s 1st wife was presumed dead.PSO Jr (my 2nd great grandfather) was later sent to Red River residential school at age 9. He became Chief factor at Ft St James where he is currently buried

    1. That's very good information. All of my comments came from several sources, many of which are nearly impossible to confirm. If you have additional biographical information I'd love to see it. I am completely fascinated with these folks.

  5. Here's a link to more information about Peter Skene Ogden and his "two country wives."

  6. Francois Rivet was my 1st cousin 4x removed so that would make us cousins also...greetings. There's also a good biography here

    1. I agree, it was part of my research. Thanks for posting it.

  7. Thanks for posting cousin, Francois is my 2nd cousin, 8x removed. Turns out he is buried a few hours from me in Oregon. Will have to visit French Prairie now that you have made me aware of it. Thanks again

  8. Any Malo's in your tree. Here is one who also ended up in French Prairie, Oregon.

    Name Eugene ayet Malo
    Birth 1859 - Saint-Paul, Montreal Region, Quebec, Canada
    Death 6 January 1920 - Gervais, Marion County, Oregon, United States of America Review

    1. Hi Rod,
      Thanks for adding this. Hopefully somebody will make a connection.

  9. Good read, thanks for compiling and posting. My wife and children are direct descendants of Francois and Therese via their son Antoine. Still residing in western MT.

    1. He was one of more interesting relatives, and sure had an exciting life. Glad you liked it.

  10. Jean Barman in her book, "French Canadians, Furs and Indigenous Women," on page 47 states, " ...Pierre Dorion, who like Rivet and Legacé had gone partway with Lewis and Clark." Charles La Gasse/Legacé was my 4x great grandfather.
    I am wondering if you have run into Lagace/LaGasse in relation to Lewis and Clark? Thanks. Jill Edwards

  11. I have not found a Legace (all spellings) related to the Lewis & Clark travels, but please let me know if you do.

  12. Excellent work Cousin. Our common ancestor is Maurice. So I believe I am a 2nd cousin 8X removed from Francois. Planning on a road trip next summer to the north west. Now to break the news to my bride of 49 years I just added another stop at a graveyard....Thanks for all the great work you have done here. I know just how addicting it is. Health and Happiness to you...Tom Rivet

  13. Thanks for your kind words. Happy hunting.