Little Grey Cells

Sometimes Hercule Poirot is hard to follow.

Hercule Poirot in Hammonasset Beach

Is it really?

I don’t want to lose you with all the deductions I have arrived at.

My little  grey cells  were acting up last week with  this picture sent by Joe,  the husband  of my new found third cousin.


Collection Dorothy Miller

Could these women be related to my side of the family, and be Joseph’s sisters?

I could not find enough evidence that Marie-Anne Lagasse what on it so I let it go for the time  being, and I went instead searching elsewhere for Joseph Lagasse’s sisters, if this is Joseph Lagasse of course.


Collection Dorothy Miller

While looking for Marie-Anne, I found this clue on Find a Grave and I asked permission to use it.


Courtesy Gail Denomme

With this I went back to these old tintype photographs to get my little grey cells working up again…


Collection Frank Archambault

Then I saw the light at the end of a lost tunnel…

Well at the bottom.


Looking straight at me was Fred Lagasse. Fred has to be on the left with an uncle, probably one of Sophie Archambault’s brothers.


Collection Frank Archambault

I believe that Fred was on the beach as well as his father Frank Lagasse, his mother Sophie, two of his brothers, Edward and William, and his  sister Cora Mamie.

Fred Lagase

Everything became clear in my head…even who was the little boy. 

Well almost everything became clear as you will find out later.


Hammonasset Beach circa 1925

He found it!

Poirot at the beach

Bien sûr I found it…

My wife loves to watch Hercule Poirot. Sometimes two or three episodes in a row on Netflix. I can understand why she’s addicted to Hercule Poirot’s little grey cells. I would watch sometimes, but my mind wanders off, and I start thinking of those two beach pictures shared in 2009.

At the beach 2

at the beach

Who were these people smiling for posterity?
Who was the photographer?
Who were the old ladies?
Who  was the old man?
Who were the two straw hat men?

So many questions, even Hercule would be confused.

Hercule Poirot in Hammonasset Beach

Hammonasset Beach

Taken from the Internet  


Hammonasset Boardwalk, circa 1925

“Hammonasset” means, “where we dig holes in the ground” and refers to the place where a settlement of eastern woodland Indians farmed along the Hammonasset River. They subsisted on corn, beans, and squash, and by fishing and hunting. The first colonists arrived in 1639. Property changed hands frequently between Native Americans and the first colonists.

In 1898 the Winchester Repeating Arms Company bought Hammonasset and used it as a testing site for their new rifle. Their Lee Straight Pull rifle was mounted on a horse drawn stone boat, from which it was fired into targets on the beach.
On July 18, 1920, Hammonasset Beach State Park was opened to the public. The first season attracted over 75,000 visitors. The park’s reputation drew tourists from across the continent as well as the state.

During World War II the park was closed to the public and loaned to the federal government as an army reservation. Meigs Point functioned as an aircraft range. Planes flew over Clinton Harbor, fired at the range and then flew out over Long Island Sound.

The stone breakwater at the Meigs Point end of the park was built in 1955. The stones were brought in by truck from quarries in northern New England.

Today, over one million people come annually to enjoy Hammonasset Beach State Park?

1925 was a great year for these people enjoying  a day at the beach…

It took almost  seven  years for my little grey cells to find out who some of them were…

Hercule Poirot

Ste-Thérèse – Summer of 39

Before I move on with my search for Joseph’s missing sibling Marie-Anne…


Putting a date on a picture is another of my obsessions…


Nine children having their picture taken on a porch in Ste-Thérèse-de-Blainville in 1939, a picture shared by a distant cousin I met only once.

Nine stories… most of them very sad. So much so it will  never be told on a blog. One child is my father, five others are his siblings.

Each  child on this picture would  have  his  or  her  story to tell. Six of them were descendants of this old man I never knew had existed before I started looking for my ancestors in 2007.


Stanislas Lagacé II

This old man is also seen here on this  group  picture.

My great-grandfather Dennis Lagasse II (Stanislas  Lagacé II) is easy to spot so is his son Dennis Lagassee III.

I  can’t  remember  who had shared  this  group picture with me. So many people have shared so many pictures since 2010 that sometimes I lose track.

I  know  it was  not Alyce whose grandfather  was Idala Lagasse…

Idala 1930

who married Olivine…

Idala's second wife - Olivine Poupart

Olivine Poupart

after his first wife Albina  Quintin  had died from general septicemia.

Albina Quintin death certificate

It was not the person who had shared the first group picture with me in 2009 but who had stopped sharing…

But  that’s  okay, I  can  live with  that.

I  know  it was  not Dennis  Lagasse IV who  has shared more than  100  old pictures and still enjoys reading Our Ancestors.

I  think it might be Michael who found his  birth mother after all these years of searching.

montage Penelope and little girl

Alyce knows all about this  search since she was our go-between in 2010.

Your  secrets are always safe with me, so feel free to share old pictures and stories because you never know what you can find.

I just remembered now who sent this picture.

Michael did with this one.


Dennis III, Dennis II and an unknown man

I’m so glad he did.

Birds of a feather flock together…

I know I might be hard to follow sometimes.

Poirot at the beach

Well most of the time.


Birds of a feather flock together…

On a beach…?

At the beach 2

at the beach

These two pictures were shared in 2009 with this group picture.

East Bristol 1916

The beach pictures were somewhat a mystery until I got interested in these pictures.

Sophie Archambeault


François-Xavier Lagassé and Sophie Archambault had at least these five children.

Francis Elie Lagase 1883–1963
Cora Mamie Lagasse 1886–1976
Fred Lagase 1889–1976
Edward Lagasse 1895–1969
William Lagasse 1898–1972

Maybe more because women were expecting to have a baby a year, at least if you were a Catholic.

I found more information about Francis Elie Lagase 1883–1963 and Cora Mamie Lagasse 1886–1976, but not much of the others siblings.

Then I got to think…

Hercule Poirot

Qui se ressemble s’assemble…

Fred Lagase

And my little grey cells began working again…

Next time we go on a beach in Connecticut in 1925.

Hercule Poirot in Hammonasset Beach

Betty is back!

She has just commented on a post written in August 2014.

I had no idea people had such nice things to say about my blog—in fact, I’m quite overwhelmed. I stopped writing because my mother died, suddenly and unexpectedly, and it has taken me this long to recover. (Betty Jane Chosa Jack is my half first cousin, by the way.) I am now getting back into my research and expect to revive my blog, hopefully some time this year.



Betty who?

Dreamcatcher has stopped writing.

At first I believed her name was Betty Jack. Now I am sure she is not. Dreamcatcher is 3 or 4 years-old on that picture. It looks it was taken in the 1950s.


Betty Chosa Jack left many messages on genealogy forums. I know who she is. She was born in 1933.

So Dreamcatcher can’t be her.

It doesn’t matter who Dreamcatcher is. I would only wish I knew why she has stopped writing in 2012.

Her last post was about Abraham Martin.


What she wrote on her blog is quite fascinating.

Mind-boggling to say the least even for me who has been blogging about genealogy since 2008.

Looking for Louis Dufaut and Marie-Louise Brunelle, the parents of Marie Dufaut, one of Stanislas Lagacé’s ancestors, led me to find her blog on Blogger.

She had written these two articles.

An amazing research on Kinogenini Mentosaky aka Marie-Louise Brunelle.

Click here for her first post and here for the second one.

I have decided to copy her two posts on this blog for posterity should someone be looking for his or her ancestors one of these days.

Make sure you read my footnote at the end.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Identifying Joseph Dufaut, Part 1: Collecting Information

I’ve already told you how I crossed the border and connected my Great-Grandfather Joseph Chosa to his family in Quebec. Today I’d like to begin to tell you how I did the same with the paternal grandfather of my Great-Grandfather Vincent Dufauld.

Long before I started genealogical research, I knew that Vincent himself was a member of what is now known as the Bois Forte Band of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, because his daughters, including my grandmother, were members of that band. So were my grandmother’s children, including my mother, and her grandchildren, including me. Therefore I knew where to look for his adult records: in northern Minnesota, on the Vermillion reservation of the Bois Forte Band. (Our primary reservation now is the one at Nett Lake, with Vermillion as the secondary; in earlier years these two were treated as entirely separate entities.) From his French-Canadian surname (variously spelled as DeFoe, Dufau, Defaux, Dufaut, Default, and numerous other variations) I also knew that Vincent must have had French-Canadian ancestry.

Thanks to information from my cousin and from Vincent’s probate, I was able to verify the identities of Vincent’s parents (Michel Dufauld and Josette Roy), grandparents (paternal: Joseph Dufaut and Julie Cadotte, Maternal: Vincent Roy fils and Lizzie/Elizabeth Lacombe) and even a set of great-grandparents (Michel Cadot/Cadotte and Madeleine/Equay-say-way), all of whom who were fairly well documented once you knew where to look. I got a lot of help from other members on Rootsweb’s NISHNAWBE mailing list, several of whom were distant cousins. What I needed was documentation that would enable me to connect Vincent’s grandfather, Joseph Dufaut/Dufaux to his parents, whose names had not been established.

I began by reviewing what I already knew or could collect online about Joseph Dufaut aka Dufault aka Dufauld.

I knew that he had been at La Pointe by about 1829, since their son Michel, baptized the first day the St. Joseph Mission opened on Sunday, 2 August 1835, was stated to be 5 years old at the time (therefore born about 1830) and born at La Pointe. That same day, Joseph himself was baptized and was stated to be 45 years old (therefore born about 1790) and born at Lac du Flambeau. (Julie Cadotte, his bride, also was formally baptized the same day.) After that, Joseph and Julie had their marriage blessed by the Church—the only marriage ceremony Father Baraga had time for on what must have been an incredibly long and hectic day, which doubtless included hearing many confessions as well as officiating at 25 baptisms, saying Mass and fulfilling his own daily prayer obligations.

Since Joseph was baptized at La Pointe, I knew that he had not been baptized either in Quebec or at any of the missions at Mackinac. (His baptism was probably handled at birth by his father or whoever else was available and knew the procedure. But there was no record of it, so Baraga’s baptism of Joseph, as well as of Julia and most of the others, was almost certainly a conditional one. Unfortunately, not being French, he didn’t specify that.)

Joseph’s only child, my GG grandfather Michel Dufauld, died in December 1916 at the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota. His obituary, published in the Minnesota History Bulletin, Vol. II (1917-18), states that Michel’s father Joseph “was for many years a boss carpenter; between the years 1820 and 1830 he supervised the construction of the stores and warehouses of the American fur Company on Madeline Island in Lake Superior, eighteen miles from Bayfield, Wisconsin. He built the mission churches on the island, one of which, the Presbyterian church, is still [1916] standing.” When my mother and I visited Madeline Island (which is actually only about 3 miles from Bayfield), the people at the museum told us that one of its rooms was originally a building erected by Joseph and his crew.

I learned that Joseph and Julie were married twice, once by the Protestant missionary at La Pointe in 1834 (as registered by Chippewa County, which at that time included much of what is now Wisconsin), then by Father Baraga in the Catholic church Joseph and his crew had just finished building. (I believe the Protestant ceremony took place because the couple wanted to insure that their son was regarded as legitimate in case either parent died. The moment the opportunity came, they had the Catholic rites.)

The Catholic marriage information came from Linda E. Bristol’s transcription of the St. Joseph Mission and Holy Family Catholic Church Marriage Records 1835-1880. From her transcription of the Liber Defunctorum (Death Registry) 1835-1900 for the St. Joseph Mission and Holy Family Catholic Church, I learned that Joseph died in March 1873 at La Pointe at age 83 (consistent with his other records giving his birth year as 1790), while Julie lived until February 1876. My 2G grandfather Michel was their only recorded child.

I knew that Joseph and several other contemporary Dufaults in the fur trade in the early 1800s were “half-breeds” and repeatedly reported as being exactly 1/2 Indian in the field notes of various trieaties. And since he lived at La Pointe, which in 1835 was a company town run by the American Fur Company, I looked for Dufauts (however spelled) in available American Fur Company records and other American sources.

The American Fur Company roster of employees 1818-1819, now online at the Mackinac County, Michigan GenWeb site, shows that a Jos. Dufauet was engaged at St. Mary’s (Sault Ste Marie) for 1 year beginning 29 July 1819 as a boatman. His wages were 1500 (currency type not stated); “Where Employed” is not stated, but under Remarks is “Lac du Flambeau”. There is also one Louis Dufaust engaged at Mackinac on 9 July 1818 for one year as Interpreter at Fond du Lac for “$2,400” per year.

Bruce White’s roster of fur traders in The Fur Trade in Minnesota cites the American Fur Company’s list of employees for 1819 as showing a Joseph Dufault/Dufauet, an interpreter in the Lac du Flambeau department, at $250 and as a boatman for 1822 at $200. In 1819 my Joseph would have been age 29, in 1822 age 32. Since he was born at Lac du Flambeau, the Joseph who worked at Lac du Flambeau is pretty likely to be my ancestor.

Notary Samuel Abbott at Mackinac kept a list of the legal transactions he handled between 1806 and 1818. The actual contracts have not survived, but the inventory, commonly known as Abbott’s List (online) includes the following entries for Dufaut (with the usual variations in spelling):

1808, 29 July: Joseph Defaut, for the Mackinac Co., wintering at St. Joseph

1809, 8 July: Joseph Dufond, for the Mackinac Co., wintering at St. Joseph

1817, 14 July: Louis Dufault, for Ramsay Crooks (American Fur Co.), wintering at Fond du Lac

But who was Joseph’s father, who was presumably at Lac du Flambeau about 1789-90? Jean-Baptiste Perrault, in his Narrative of the Travels and Adventures of a Merchant Voyageur in the Savage Territories of Northern America Leaving Montreal the 28th of May 1783 (20 1820), online at Google Books, in pages 508-619 of the volume Historical Collections and Researches Made by the Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society, Vol XXXVII, wrote about one (or possibly two) traders surnamed Dufaut.

On page 519-20 he writes about a catastrophic expedition he was involved with in November 1781, where his party, led by a heavy-drinking Mr. Kay who was, as he puts it, “Hare-brained”, was wrecked attempting to enter the “riviere du fond du Lac”. They were able to repair the canoes and recover most of their trade goods but were all soaked and unable to dry anything out. Worse, they were almost entirely out of provisions. Two days after the wreck the party came to a wintering house at Fond du Lac used by “mr. Dufaut, come from grand portage [Note: Perrault refers to a portage on the St. Louis River, not the Grand Portage which is now a reservation in Minnesota], clerk for the N.Wt. (Company) [=The North West Company]. As m.Kay had perhaps taken only one drink he now took the second which made him ill-tempered so that Instead of receiving politely mr. Dufaut, who came down to meet him on the beach, he treated him rudely. But as the mr. perceived his [drunken] condition he kept silence and gave him no information.” Kay insisted the exhausted and hungry party immediately start out for the grand portage. “M. Dufaut, fearing that he would stop near him, offered him provisions for several days”, an offer which was refused since Kay hoped that they would meet up with an agent of his who was supposed to have obtained more provisions. (The rest of the expedition was equally disastrous.)

On pages 558-559 Perrault writes about meeting a Dufault in 1791 whose winter quarters were at Lac du Flambeau:

“I returned to makinac at the 1791 beginning of July, 1791 . . . I re-equipped with mr. todd, with 7 pieces of Cloth and an assorted stock, to return to fond du Lac.. . . On arriving at the Sault, I had my canoe taken up, and I Slept at the end of the portage. I set out the next day and slept at the riviere tak-quwaminan [Tacquimenon]. The 4th. day, I reached les grandes ilsles [sic]. I camped there. The next day I met opposite la riviere au poisson qui rit [Laughing Fish River] Defund Dufault, who was returning from his winter quarters at Lac du flambeau. I addressed him. He asked me How furs were selling at makinac. I told him that they were low. I gave him a drink. After he had taken it, he Said to me. “I find that the season is well advanced, so that it will be too late to enter Lac de flambeau.” “Very well,” I said to him, “Do you wish to trade with me? How many packs have you?” ”I have 35,” he replied; “I have one pack of Otter, 5 packs of Beaver, 2 packs of marten, 3 of bear, 1 of polecat, Lynx and rats. The remainder is Deer. And you! what is your canoe-load?” “I have here 7 bales assorted, 12 Kegs of Liquor, 2 kegs of powder, 5 sacks of lead and balls, 1 case of hatchets and scalping knives, 6 guns for the trade, 1 bale tinned iron kettles, 2 sacks of flour, 4 sacks of Corn, 1 keg of tallow, and one of sugar.” He took a little while to consider, and said to me, “Come ashore. It is done.” Before going to land, I said, “I will take provisions to carry me to mackinac.” “Yes,” he replied. We went ashore in the river, and I had my tent put up. While I was Unloading the canoe, he put up his shelter. He said to me, “It is unnecessary to open the goods; let me see The condition of your Bales, that will be enough.’ I did so, and he was satisfied. Similarly I took his packs, under Cord. We slept there. Early the next morning I started out . . .”

Now, “Defund” is not a personal name. It’s a French word meaning “deceased.” At the time he wrote about this encounter (about 1830, during his retirement at Sault Ste Marie), Perreault is saying that the man who wintered at Lac du Flambeau in 1791 had since died. Unfortunately Perrault does not say whether the Mr. Dufaut he met in 1791 was the same man he had met in 1781.

Dead end? No.

A fellow member of the NISHNAWBE Mailing List researching Dufaut lines shared a transcription of a letter written in 1889 to Judge Joseph J. Steere by John McDougal Johnston (son of the famous Sault Ste Marie fur trader John Johnston, and a lifelong inhabitant of that community). Johnston was about 73 by then, and what he writes is stated to be “from reliable information, and most of the persons named within, I was personally acquainted with.”) This is part of it:

“A few years before 1790, Louison Default came up from Montreal in the employ of the N.W.F. Co. [=North West Fur Company], after serving his time out with the Co., he married an Indian woman from the country of Lac du Flambeau after the custom of those days, before witnesses. He got his goods and outfit from the late Mr. Johnston, and after a few years successful trading, took his family and went down to Montreal, there getting his marriage confirmed by the priest, remaining there several years, he returned and settled in this place, turning his attention to tilling the soil and raising stock. His family consisted of three sons, Louison, Joseph, and Francis and two daughters, Jenvieve [sic] and Angelique. The old man, before coming to this part of the country, apparently had served in its army, having with him his military uniform and sword—probably had been a non-commissioned officer—consequently owing to his regimentals, they gave him the name of Ghe-Sma gah-nisk, or Soldier, he was known by that name throughout the Lake Superior country, up to his death. I was personally acquainted with all his children.”

Now, clearly the information as to the father, Louison, is hearsay, since Johnston (born in 1816), could not possibly have any memory of Louison Dufaut, although he does say he knew the children. However, it is extremely likely that he got his information about Louison from those children living at “this place”, Sault Ste Marie. And clearly, Johnston did not know just when Louison Dufault entered the fur trade, when he took his Indian wife and children to Montreal, or when he returned. He was almost certainly correct in connecting Dufault to the North West Fur Company, since his own father had been an early employee of that company and, as Johnston says, supplied Louison with trade goods after Louison married his Lac du Flambeau Indian wife “before witnesses”.

Perrault places a fur-trade Dufault wintering at Lac du Flambeau in 1789, within a year of the the time when my 3G Grandfather Joseph was born there; it is reasonable to conclude that “Defund” Dufault is Joseph’s father. Note also that both Perrault and Louison Dufault retired to Sault Ste Marie. Johnston tells us that Louison Dufaut, like the man Perrault met in 1781 at Fond du Lac, was employed by the North West Company before he took his Ojibwe wife and children back to the Montreal area “a few years before 1790”; equally importantly, he gives the names of the children he knew, which included a Joseph, who now appeared extremely likely to be my GGG Grandfather.

Riddle solved? Not quite. The North West Company did not exist under that name until 1783; it was the result of a merger between several other fur-trade companies. The man Perrault met in 1781 “probably” worked for one of those companies, but he may not have been the same man he met ten years later. Quebec families in those days had lots of children; “Louison” was certainly not the only Dufaut who worked in the fur trade.

Support for Johnston’s account is found in the Mackinac Register: on 27 July 1786 a Louis Dufau had had a 16-month-old “plus” daughter Genevieve “née du legitimate marriage de Louis Dufau et de Marie Louise de la nation Sauteuse” baptized at St-Ignace (therefore born about April 1785). On 26 July 1787, Louis Dufaux brought in for baptism a “légitime” 7-month-old son named Pierre (therefore born about December 1786-January 1787), at the same mission; the mother identified as “une mère sauvagesse nommée Marie Louise de la nation des sauteurs.” There is a cross in the margin indicating that the child had died.

It’s pretty clear that Louison Default in the Johnston letter and Louis Dufau of the Mackinac Registers are the same person, legally married to Marie-Louise by 1786, particularly since there is no marriage record at Mackinac but the marriage was accepted as legitimate in the eyes of the missionaries at Mackinac. Moreover, the nickname “Louison” was commonly used for a boy named Louis whose father was also a Louis, meaning that Marie-Louise’s husband was likely the son of a Louis Dufaut and suggesting that the Louis Dufaut “senior”, who is found in the La Pointe registers from day one is the “Louison” mentioned by Johnston as the son of Louis and Marie-Louise, and therefore Joseph’s brother. And a Louis Dufaut and his adult son, also named Louis, appear early on in the La Pointe registers, getting their wives and children baptized and their marriages blessed.

Now then, I received yet another bit of solid gold information from the same NISHNAWBE list member who had found the Johnston letter: in 1825, “land records” at Sault Ste Marie involved two of his sons, Francis and Joseph. At the time, the information I had was that Francis testified that he had always lived with his father at Sault Ste Marie, and that his brother Joseph “lived there only occasionally”. (I’ll give more detail in my next post.)

So all the evidence i had, considered together, brought me to the conclusion that GGG Grandfather Joseph was the son of a fur trader named Louis Dufaut (however spelled) and of a woman from Lac du Flambeau who had converted to the Catholic faith, taking the name of Marie-Louise, and that Louis and Marie-Louise had been married somewhere in Quebec, probably in the Montréal area. Furthermore, the family had finally settled at Sault Ste Marie. But where was that missing, crucial Quebec marriage record that would tell me who Louis’ parents were?

Today all I’d have to do would be to go online to and search in the Drouin collection of Quebec parish records for that marriage. Alternatively, I could go to the PRDH website and pay the PRDH to locate that marriage record for me. But neither of those options was available at the time I was doing this particular research. I had to fall back on parish records on microfilm.

But I didn’t have to order dozens of microfilms of parish records, as I’d had to do to find the birth record of Great-Grandfather Joseph Chosa. Since I was looking for the marriage of a man who was in the fur trade, there were two shortcuts available. I’ll tell you about those next time.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Joseph Dufaut’s Parents, Part 2: The Smoking Gun

In my last post I discussed the information I had found about my 3G Grandfather Joseph Dufaut and how I had learned that he was born at Lac du Flambeau about 1790; that he was almost certainly the brother of François Dufault who lived at Sault Ste Marie; that his parents were probably a voyageur named Louis Dufaut and an Anishinaabe woman from Lac du Flambeau who took the name of Marie Louise in baptism; and that Louis had taken his Anishinaabe wife to Quebec, most likely in or near Montréal for a proper Catholic marriage, stayed there for several years, then returned to the Great Lakes area and eventually settled at Sault Ste Marie with his family, where he had died in 1817.
Assuming that I was correct in my deductions, I knew there was (or had been) a marriage record somewhere in Quebec for the couple. But back when I was on this trail, neither the Drouin Collection of Quebec parish records nor the PRDH was yet online, and the locally available marriage indexes, including Tanguay, didn’t show marriages after the end of the French regime in Quebec (1763 or so).
However, there is another primary source for men involved in the fur trade: notary records. A Quebec notary is something between an American notary public and an English solicitor: a notary draws up contracts (including marriage contracts), wills, guardianship papers, IOUs, records of debts paid, sales contracts, transfers of property, and records legal statements. He does not, however, represent a client in court.
As in France, a Quebec notary was required to keep a copy of all his legal documents and to keep an inventory of where each document was to be found (generally a box number and document number: filing cabinets did not exist yet). Many of these records have survived, and now has many of the notary inventories available online. To examine the actual records, though, you still have to order the microfilm or visit the repository which has this notary’s records. (If you don’t subscribe to Ancestry’s “World Deluxe” version, your local Family History Center may have it. You can also order the inventory microfilms as well as the actual records there.)
Yale University has a detailed list of 120 Voyageur contracts in its posession, drawn up between 1801 and 1821, with a full description of their terms; the list is online. Until very recently, the website for the Centre du patrimoine of Manitoba had a searchable online index (in French) for some 35,000 notary fur-trade contracts in its possession. Alas, the database still exists, but apparently is not available online except to registered academics, so as of now you have to fall back on the inventories for the individual notaries. If you wish to try registering, you can go to the English version of the site map. UPDATE 12 JULY 2011: the searchable database is now online again and anyone can use it without registering. If you’re looking for a particular surname, put that in the “Nom” box. If you don’t find your voyageur, try all conceivable spelling variations. At the very least, you can learn where other voyagers with that surname came from; they may be your ancestor’s  close relatives. Note that this is not a master index of all fur-trade contracts.
Note that if you find a likely candidate in a notary’s index (online at Ancestry or on microfilm), you still have to order the microfilm for the contract itself, because the index won’t give you enough information to make a positive identification, and the actual contract may have vital details that are not in the index, as you will see later on in this post.
Fortunately for me, early in my genealogical research an online acquaintance provided me with information about notary fur-trade contracts for several Dufauts. Among those were the engagements for three Louis Dufauts. The earliest one dated from 1736, the next from 1784, and the third from 1802. The one who signed on in 1784 had been engaged by John Gregory before notary Antoine Foucher and was being sent to Michilimakinac. Given Quebec naming customs, it occurred to me that the Louis in the 1784 contract might be the son of the 1736 Louis and the father of the 1802 Louis.) This same acquaintance also gave me information about fur-trade engagements for other voyageur ancestors. To see the actual contracts, I would have to order a lot of microfilms.
As it happened, at this point in my research I also needed to consult quite a few other microfilms, as well as non-circulating materials (including many relating to either my Danish ancestry or the ancestry of my husband), all housed at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. So, I went to Salt Lake City for a few days, and there I hit serious pay dirt on all fronts. I was able to obtain copies of several family fur-trade contracts including the 1736 and 1784 Louis Dufauts. I also obtained copies of various extremely helpful reference materials, and on the last day I discovered and consulted another marriage index which was not otherwise accessible: that of Pontbriand. And on my last day, shortly before closing, I found Pontbriand’s entry for the marriage record of “Dufault, Louis (son of Louis and M-Louise Lussier) and Mentofaki, M.-Lse (Sauteux) on 15-2-1778 at St-Mathias, Rouville, Quebec”.
At this point, I had to go home. The first day my local Family History Center was open, I ordered the microfilm for the parish of St-Mathias. I also ordered the film for nearby Longueuil’s parish records covering the 18th century, because I had looked up in Tanguay the marriages of Dufauts and observed that during the 1700s many of them had married and had their children in that parish, including the Louis who had married M-Louise Lussier. I wanted to find out where Louis (the father) was living at the time and who the parents of this couple were and—I hoped—find the baptism records of their children and other records for the extended family.
When the films came in, I looked first at the St-Mathias registers and discovered that Pontbriand had not been entirely accurate: The groom’s surname was spelled “Dufaux” in the register, not “Dufault”. Pontbriand had misread the “surname” of the bride, which was actually “Mentosaky”, not “Mentofaky”. (To be fair, the lower case “s” in that era often looks much like the lower case “f”.) Her parents’ names were given in the marriage record, but contrary to the normal practice of Quebec marriage indexes, Pontbriand did not list them in his index. (The bride’s father’s name was recorded as Mentosaky, her mother’s name as Pemynany, and all were “de nation sauteuse”.)
The marriage record, as I expected, listed the names of some of the attendees at the marriage ceremony, including the groom’s uncle Joseph Dufaux, several of Louis’s sisters and brothers-in-law, and “many others” who were not named, none of whom had been able to sign their names to the register. In other words, this was a marriage which clearly met with considerable approval of Louis’s extended family. However, apparently Louis’s father did not attend, and his mother was stated to be deceased. Finally, the record states that the marriage legitimized the couple’s three children, Marie age about 5 years, Marie-Louise age about 3 years, and Louis-Noël age 2 years.
Naturally I started looking farther back in the register for the baptisms of the three children and their mother. I soon found 3 of them: a week before the wedding, on 8 February 1779, Marie-Louise age about 3 years “de Parents inconnus” was baptized at St-Mathias, as was “Marie-Louise Sauvagesse de nation Sauteuse”, age about 24 years. I also found I found the 2 February 1779 baptism of “Noël-Louis” age about 15 months “de Parents inconnus”. (“Parents inconnus” is charitable shorthand for “born outside of wedlock” or “illegitimate”.) I did not, however, find the baptism of Marie, the eldest daughter.
So now I turned to the Longueuil registers, where the Dufauts (variously spelled, of course) had lived for two previous generations. And there I came upon one of those “out of the blue” phenomena that explains a lot of missing records.
About October of 1778, the priest at Longueuil (who had truly atrocious handwriting, by the way) had been transferred, and his temporary replacement either failed to keep any sacramental records whatsoever or else took them with him when he left. The permanent replacement arrived a couple of months later. I believe that it was during that record gap that Louis and his little family arrived home and his eldest daughter was baptized.
The question that now arose was, why didn’t the couple marry at Longueuil? By February 1779 there was a new curé on duty who was keeping proper records. And why didn’t old Louis père come to his only son’s wedding? Did he disapprove of Louis’s marriage? Was he ill or disabled?
This riddle I didn’t solve until very recently—and I can’t prove it (illiterate people don’t keep diaries to explain things to their posterity). But here goes: I found that Louis’s mother died in January 1776—in Montréal (a short boat crossing of the St. Lawrence River from Longueuil). Her burial record specifies that she was buried in the cemetery for the poor. What appears to be a cause of death is lined out and illegible.
Her grieving widower would not have been able to send the sad news to his only son until the following spring, via one of the fur trade boats headed to Michilimackinac and the Great Lakes, and it might not have been delivered for a long time if he were at a remote post (such as Lac du Flambeau). Even then, the son would not have been able to return home until he had finished out his contract. He may also have had difficulty obtaining passage on one of the boats heading back to Montréal for himself plus his wife and three children. (“Montreal boats” were generally fully packed with trade goods in the spring and with furs in the fall, with little or no room for non-working passengers who were not higher-ups in the boat’s fur-trade company.) In other words, it probably was not until October or November 1778—almost two years after his mother’s death—that Louis and his little family arrived at Montréal.
The plain fact is that Louis fils, the sole surviving son of his parents, wasn’t around when his parents needed him, and hadn’t been there to comfort his dying mother. The fact that Louis père couldn’t pay for a place for his wife in the regular parish cemetery suggests that he had run into financial difficulties. He may also have been in poor health himself (he died in November 1783 in Longueuil, age 67). The father may have bitterly resented the fact that his son had stayed out in le pays d’en haut instead of coming home as soon as his first contract was up, bringing his earnings and labor to support and assist his aging parents with the farm at Longueuil. (Voyageur contracts usually were for no longer than 3 years, and since Louis arrived home with a five-year-old daughter, he had clearly been gone from home for at least six years.)
It is also possible that Louis père *may* also have been less than pleased to be confronted with a “savage” daughter-in-law and half-breed grandchildren, but it is equally possible that he may have had no problem with the ethnicity of his daughter-in-law and grandchildren. Why? Well, the Louis who had been a voyageur in 1736 was from Longueuil (according to the contract), and Louis père, age 20 in 1736, was the only Louis Dufaut from Longueuil who was an adult but not too old to be a voyageur at that time.
Whatever the relationship with his widowed father, Louis fils was clearly welcomed back by his uncle Joseph Dufaut and his sisters; apparently most of them were now living in or near St-Mathias (the parish is now called St-Hilaire), which is about 20 miles from Longueuil. One of his sisters was a godparent to her about-to-be sister-in-law; a brother-in-law was godparent to little Louis-Noël and to a daughter, Marie-Catherine, born 2 months after the marriage ceremony.
Louis apparently left St-Mathias after the March 1779 birth of Marie-Catherine, because their next child, Jean-Baptiste, was born and baptized at Chambly in January 1781, and the baptism record says they were living there. There’s solid genealogical gold in Jean-Baptiste’s baptism record: his mother is recorded as Marie-Louise Kinogenini instead of as Marie-Louise Mentosaky or Marie-Louise de la nation sauteuse. Kinogenini is either her personal Anishinaabe name or an alternate name of her father (many Anishinaabe have 2 or more Anishinaabe names).
Chambly is less than 5 miles from Longueuil, so the move to Chambly would have made it much easier for Louis to see his father quite frequently and assist with the farm labor—assuming that Louis père was still living there and still had his farm. In February 1783 the couple had another daughter, Marie-Geneviève, also born at Chambly. Nine months later, in November of 1783, Louis père died, not at Longueuil but at St-Mathias (where several of his daughters and sons-in-law were living), so it is not clear why Louis fils was living at Chambly or how he was supporting his family there. In any case, it must have taken some time to settle the old man’s affair even if he no longer had a farm at Longueuil, by which time winter had set in. It is, however, very clear that once his father died, Louis was not content with permanently setting up as a farmer at Longueuil or St-Matthias or Chambly, and I rather think his wife was homesick.
On 6 May 1784, before Notary Antoine Foucher, Louis signed a contract with John Gregory to go to Michilimakinac. Louis is stated to be living at Chambly and he agrees to winter at his post (instead of making a return trip the same year); his wages will be 700 livres. Added to the pre-printed fill-in-the-blanks contract is the handwritten clause that he will serve as interpreter when needed. As an experienced voyageur and interpreter, his wages are accordingly rather high—700 livres.
In contrast, that same year another 4G grandfather of mine, Vincent Roy, also signed on (with another company) to winter at Michilimackinac or wherever the company would need him; his wages are only 400 livres. This was the 20-year-old Vincent’s first engagement. In 1852, Vincent’s granddaughter Josette would marry Louis’s grandson Michel Dufaut at La Pointe.
Incidentally, John Gregory and his associate Alexander McKenzie both personally signed Louis’s contract; 3 years later his company, Gregory, McLeod and Co., became part of the North West Company. Old John Johnston was therefore not off the mark when he said in his letter to Judge Stere that Louis worked for the North West Company.
There appears to be no surviving documentation as to how Louis was able to bring his wife and six children (ages ranging from 1 to 10 years) back to le pays d’en haut with him, but obviously he did it. Apparently little Geneviève did not survive, for the couple’s next child, born about April 1785, was given the same name at her baptism in July 1786 at St-Ignace. A year later, a son was born and given the name Pierre at his baptism in July 1787. This boy also died; there is no record of a burial, but there’s a cross in the margin of the Mackinac Register to indicate the death, and the next son was given the name of Pierre.
How do I know this? There is no record of his baptism, but Pierre 2, like most of the older children, returned to the bosom of the extended family in St-Mathias, and on 17 January 1810, he died “sur la Rivière chaviri (capsized on the river: in other words, he drowned). Since Pierre died unmarried, the burial record (a full week after his death) gives the names of his parents: Louis and Marie-Louise Brunel. Pierre at death was “agé de vingt ans et vingt jours”. This means that the curé had an exact date of birth with which to calculate Pierre’s age, which must have been on or about 29 December 1789, depending on your math and whether you know that 1800 was not a leap year. Somewhere in between, the couple had another daughter, Elisabeth (also called Isabelle), born about 1788 according to her January 1804 marriage record at Chambly.
I rather think that Pierre 2 and my 3G Grandfather Joseph were twins; Indian women, unlike the women of French Quebec, nursed their infants long enough to insure that they didn’t give birth every year. Marie-Louise certainly spaced her children about 2 years apart. Note that Joseph, if he was Pierre’s twin, was born only a couple of days before 1790, and that he always said he was born in 1790. Perhaps the twins were born on New Year’s Day??
I point out that Perrault’s narrative places “Defund Dufault” at Lac du Flambeau (where Marie Louise came from) at the right time for Pierre and Joseph to have been born there. Not long after that, Louis and Marie-Louise settled, as the Johnston letter says, at Sault Ste Marie, and had 3 other known children: Elisabeth/Isabelle born about 1788, François (Francis), and Angelique. Old John Johnston knew only Louis (aka Louis-Noël), Joseph, Francis, Genevieve 2, and Angelique.
The other surviving children of Louis and Marie-Louise “de la nation sauteuse” lived out their adult lives in Quebec. By 1796, at least one of the oldest sisters (and probably all three) had returned to the general area where their relatives lived. Oldest daughter Marie-Louise married Paul Pigeon at L’Assomption on 14 June of that year and had 2 children there before her death in 1801. On 14 January 1799 Marie married Antoine Truteau at St-Mathias. In August 1799 Marie-Catherine married André Poudret-dit-Lavigne at Chambly. Jean-Baptiste, Pierre and Isabelle likely returned to Quebec about 1801, probably escorted by big brother Louis-Noël; Jean-Baptiste married Marguerite Truteau (sister of Marie’s husband Antoine) at St-Mathias on 9 January 1804, 2 days before his 25th birthday. On 12 November 1804, Isabelle/Elisabeth married Louis Charon-dit-Cabana at Chambly. Pierre 2, as discussed above, died in January 1810.
In 1802, a Louis Dufaut of Chambly signed on with McTavish, Frobisher & Co., destination “Dans le Nord-Ouest”. McTavish, Frobisher & Co. was a major player in the North West Company. I believe this Louis is Louis-Noël, now about age 23, and that he had come to Chambly to deliver 3 of his younger siblings to the family in Quebec. Once that task was done, Louis-Noël aka “Louison” returned to his life in the fur trade and never went back. He appears on Abbott’s List in 1805, on other lists of Great Lakes area fur traders, and eventually shows up in the La Pointe registers as Louis Dufaut “senior”, with an Anishnaabe wife and numerous children, including a Louis junior (of course), a Joseph, a Jean-Baptiste, a François, and an Isabel—named for his siblings, in accordance with Quebec custom.
I should note that in all of the Quebec marriages, the mother of the Dufaut being married is called Louise Brunel (several spellings). Does this mean I’ve picked the wrong children? Certainly not. Brunel/Brunell is, I admit, a perfectly good French surname or dit name which refers to dark or brown coloration. I believe the children involved decided to tell the curé that their mother was “Brunel” not because they were ashamed of her (and their own) ethnicity but because they didn’t want to have the priest record her as “sauvagesse” (as most priests would if given the chance).
Where’s the proof of the connection? Right there in the Quebec marriage records for Louis and Marie-Louise’s children. The marriage records for Marie, Jean-Baptiste, and Isabelle don’t say where the parents are living, only where the child is living. Marie-Catherine’s marriage record (1799) says, vaguely, that her parents are at “Detroit dans le pays d’en haut”. (The mission at Mackinac was an arm of Ste-Anne de Detroit, and therefore so was its sub-mission at St-Ignace.) But Marie-Louise’s 1796 marriage record states plainly that her parents are living at Michilimackinac at the Sault post.
This is what is called a smoking gun.
This firmly and incontrovertibly links the parents of Marie-Louise and her siblings to the Louis Dufaut family which settled at Sault Ste Marie (where Louis died in 1817) and who are described in the Johnston letter as having married “in Montreal” “a few years before 1790”, stayed there “several years” before returning and settling at the Sault as described in the John Johnston letter. Johnston specifically stated that the mother was from Lac du Flambeau and knew the sons named Louison, Joseph, and Francis. Under the circumstances, it’s also hard to deny that their father “in the employ of the N.W.F. Co.” was the “defund Dufaut” who encountered Perrault while stationed at Lac du Flambeau in 1790.
Francis testified (and Joseph agreed) in 1823 that their father had a farm at Sault Ste Marie and that Joseph, unlike Francis, did not live at the Sault full-time by then. We have notary Samuel Abbott at Mackinac listing Joseph Default as signing on with the Mackinac Co. in 1808 and Kelton’s list of American Fur Company employees showing Joseph Dufaut signing on with the AFC at Sault Ste Marie (“St. Mary’s”) in 1819 and 1822. By 1830 my 3G Grandfather Joseph was a boss carpenter at La Pointe (a town dominated by the American Fur Company) and fathering a son named Michel born to Julie Cadotte, whom he married as soon as a minister was available. The only other Dufaut who shows up in the post-1800 fur trade in the Lake Superior region and at La Pointe is Louis, brother of Francis and Joseph. (There is no baptism record at La Pointe for Louis, because he had been baptized at St-Mathias.) And Louis, Francis, and Joseph are the names of the 3 sons of “Louison Default” and his Indian wife from Lac du Flambeau, where Joseph always said he was born.
The conclusion is, really, inescapable, even though there is no contemporary 1790 birth record for him: my 3G Grandfather Joseph Dufaut was the son of Louis Dufaut from Longueuil (son of Louis Dufaut and Marie-Louise Lussier) and his legitimate wife Marie-Louise/Kinogenini (daughter of Mentosaky and Pemynany) from Lac du Flambeau.
I had—finally—nailed the identification of Joseph’s parents.
Dreamweaver also worked on her Chosa lineage.
Quite fascinating if your name is Chosa.

Just use the search button…

You’ve got to be curious to read this blog, and use the search button like Joe did last week… This is just an example of what I have been doing on my blog since 2009.

It’s all about old pictures.

These twelve pictures were shared by Frank Archambault in 2012 when he got all excited with his ancestors.

Twelve tintype pictures.

More if you count this one.

All the pictures were related to his great-grandfather Jean-Baptiste Archambault who we see here in front of his house. This is not a tintype picture of course.

Jean-Baptiste’s wife Emélie Mercier is on the left. On the right is probably one of his daughters and a grandchild. I just can’t get enough of old pictures especially when I can’t identify who is on them.

This is Jean-Baptiste again.

Proud and keeping still. He went by the name John Shambo.

Jean-Baptiste Archambeault

Jean-Baptiste Archambault aka John Shambo

Emilie Mercier

Émilie Mercier aka Emily Mercer

There is always a story behind each picture even if it is reversed for unknown reasons.

This next woman I am sure is Mary Archambault, daughter of Émilie Mercier and Jean-Baptiste Archambault.

Mary Archambault

Everyone related to her can enjoy this beautiful picture of a beautiful young lady. Mary Archambault would marry her daughter Ida Ashley later in life…

Mary Archambeault at wedding of her daughter Ida Ashey

Her brother William married Myra Alexandre in 1902.

Myra Alexandre and William Archambeault

I think he is the little boy on the left on the top row and also on the left in the middle row.

So when all this search is going to stop?

Probably not in the nearest future.

Hold still Frank!


I know this is the third post…

unidentified couple

Hold still Frank!

In 2012 this was an unknown  couple. Then I  got  lucky when I  met Frank who had found Marie-Anne’s brother without knowing it. I didn’t realise the importance of that picture until I got this one last week.


Now I have a collection of four pictures of four brothers.


Pretty impressive. Some people would kill to have his or her ancestors’ pictures.

Pun intended of course. They don’t have to… They just have to write a blog about them.


Frank’s Kitchen Notes

Second cup…

Our Ancestors

I know I might be hard to follow sometimes.


Frank Archambeault once had wrote me in an e-mail that he was living not far away from Plainville. So when I planned my visit to Joe’s place three weeks ago, I wrote Frank about it. 

I figured Frank would be excited by the fact of meeting his two virtual 3rd cousins addicted to genealogy.

So here we are last Saturday morning sitting down at Liberty Diner for breakfast with our wives when Frank shows up by the door.

From that moment on, Frank could not keep from talking and talking, and excusing himself for talking too much.

Being this crazy Canuck who has been writing like crazy since 2009 about genealogy and who tries to find other people’s ancestors down in Connecticut, I could well understand all this excitement and I showed Frank a lot of empathy.

Try to imagine…

View original post 427 more words

Reflecting this morning…

About how much I have written since September 2009 before going ahead with my search for Joseph’s sister Marie-Anne and her descendants.


Courtesy Gail Denomme


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Reflecting  about  visiting  cemeteries, looking  for my ancestors  and people’s ancestors. Looking for and sharing old pictures with everyone on this blog. Answering  all requests on Ancestry, even  strange ones… Replying  to all comments  except  those  about Cialis, Viagra, and lonely  widows with a fortune  to give away.

Just  reflecting  on this cold Thursday  morning  in Quebec.