Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Was Cousin Daniel A Potawatomi Chief?

Painting of Potawatomi Chief Topinabee

Some fur trade history researchers believe Daniel Bourassa (born 12 Jun 1780) in Den Haut, Mackinac, (Michigan) was also Topinabee a Potawatomi chief

Scholarly Research Disagrees…

The following excerpt is from the writings of Susan Sleeper-Smith, associate professor of history at Michigan State University, and coeditor of New Faces of the Fur Trade: Selected Papers of the Seventh North American Fur Trade Conference. Information gathered for her book, Indian Women and French Men: Rethinking Cultural Encounter in the Western Great Lakes, was from thorough research of the Michigan historical societies and old documented church records for accurate historical preservation.  See source http://www.wiskigeamatyuk.com/Joseph_and_Madeleine_Bertrand.htm

"Marguerite Bertrand and Daniel Bourassa had their first child in 1780 then married on 20 July 1786.  Before their marriage, Daniel Bourassa had what was noted as "marital relations with a savage of the Potawatomi Nation".  As a result of this affair with the Potawatomi woman, Daniel Bourassa had a daughter named Madeline Bourassa (1/2 French and 1/2 Potawatomi) in 1781.

On August 13, 1818, Madeline Bourassa married Joseph Bertrand I who was also known as Joseph Bertrand Sr.  Joseph Bertrand Sr. was the brother of Marguerite Bertrand, wife of Madeline's father Daniel Bourassa.  Joseph Bertrand Sr. was a step-uncle to Madeline Bourassa thru her father's marriage to Marguerite Bertrand, but were not related by blood.  From this time forward, Madeline Bourassa was known and documented as Madeline Bertrand.

Today's misunderstanding of Madeline Bertrand's origin has been traced to the late 1880s and early 1890s.  Some very old local residents of Bertrand were interviewed in these early accounts.  These interviews were known to be the origin of confusion of her being a daughter of Chief Topinabee.  After these accounts, it was known to have spun out of control as many writers interested in the Bertrand family have copied and continued the false documentation and reports of Chief Topinabee as the father of Madeline.

It is believed that many of the great Bertrand descendants have romanticized the idea of their great relative, Madeline Bertrand, being the biological daughter of the Principal Potawatomi Chief Topinabee making her a fantasized "Indian Princess", a European term.  Within this romanticized fantasy, tales of her life have even stated she chose to live within the dwelling of a teepee or wigwam, established behind the log cabin belonging to her husband and family, rather than live within her family's cabin itself.

Stories such as this have been created based on theory or pure imagination to add fantasy and create a little more Indian folklore to the life of Madeline Bertrand. Even two plaques were born and established in tribute of this rumored and romanticized biological kinship of both the Chief and Madeline within the Niles of Michigan. These plaques along with Madeline Bertrand Park were established in 1985-1986 when the rumor was in full speed. However, one of the plaques was noted without confidence stating: "Madeline, said to be the daughter of Potawatomi Chief Topenebee." This plaque contradicts the Bertrand plaque which continues the rumored tale that Madeline was the daughter of Chief Topinabee. On Madeline Bertrand's plaque, she is noted as "said to be". On Bertrand's plaque she is noted as "the daughter of". Obviously not enough research was done before these plaques were created and established in 1985-1986. But Madeline being the daughter of the Principal Potawatomi Chief would give for a much more exciting story people love to hear.

Unfortunately, the documented facts show this is clearly false. Madeline's own son, Benjamin Bertrand, stated that his mother was Madeline Bourassa, daughter of Daniel Bourassa. This information came directly from her flesh and blood, not thru rumors created generations later."

But, Native American Oral Tradition Says He Was Topinabee

Then again there is an equally compelling argument, based on oral tradition, passed down by Daniel's descendants, members of the Potawatomi tribe, who insist he was Chief Topinabee.

The following excerpt is from an October 1986 article in the How-Ni-Kan (Vol. 8, No. 10) titled "The French Connection," published by the Citizen Band Potawatomi Tribe in Tecumseh, Oklahoma.  See source http://www.potawatomi.org/pubinfo/HowNiKan/Volume08No101986.pdf

"In 1744, Rene Bourassa married Ann Charlotte Veronica Chevalier, fur trader Louis Chevalier's sister.

Their son, Daniel, and the principal chief of the Potawatomi, Topinabee, appear to be one and the same, and Daniel's daughter, Magdelene Bourassa, is referred to as Topinabee's daughter.

In 1818 she married Joseph Bertrand, a prominent fur trader who flourished in the St. Joseph area, and who took his furs to Mackinac. 

He is listed as a trader in the American Fur Company records for 1817 and was undoubtedly associated with the earlier Mackinac Company."

Daniel Bourassa is my 2nd cousin 6x removed -- our connection looks like this:

Daniel 1st Bourassa (1752 - 1830)
is my 2nd cousin 6x removed

Rene 2nd Bourassa (1718 - 1792)
father of Daniel 1st Bourassa

Rene 1st Bourassa (1688 - 1778)
father of Rene 2nd Bourassa

Francois Bourassa (1659 - 1708)
father of Rene 1st Bourassa

Marie Elisabeth Bourassa (1695 - 1766)
daughter of Francois Bourassa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours truly
Jerry England

Genealogy of my Bourassa Family in Canada and the United States

Francois Bourassa (7th great grandfather)
Birth 1659 in Luçon, Eure-et-Loir, Centre, France
Death 9 May 1708 in Montréal, Quebec, Canada
Marriage 9 Jan 1681, Contrecoeur, Quebec, Canada
Marie Le Ber (7th great grandmother)
Birth 6 Dec 1666 in Montréal, Quebec, Canada
Death 23 Dec 1756 in La Prairie, Quebec, Canada


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.

Rene Bourassa 1st (6th great grand uncle)
Birth 21 Dec 1688 in Laprairie, Quebec, Canada
Death 7 Sep 1778 in Montréal, Quebec, Canada
Marriage 1 
• Agnes Gagne 23 Oct 1710 Laprairie, Quebec, Canada
Marriage 2
Marie Catherine Leriger 28 Sep 1721 Laprairie, Quebec, Canada


In the early decades of the 18th century the merchants in the English colonies were paying on the average twice the French price for beaver pelts. Tempted by these profits, René Bourassa, dit La Ronde, ventured into the extensive illicit trade between Montreal and Albany, New York. He was caught, however, and in July 1722 fined 500 livres.

By 1726 he had entered the western trade, which his father had followed over 30 years earlier. In partnership with Nicolas Sarrazin and François Lefebvre Duplessis Faber, Bourassa dispatched canoes to the pays den haut in 1726. The following year he traded to Baie-des-Puants (Green Bay, Wis.), where Duplessis was commandant. Although his main focus was the western trade, in March 1729 Bourassa carried letters to New England, a trip which was often cover for illegal trade. By 1735 he was connected with business associates of Pierre Gaultier de Varennes et de La Vérendrye. In that year Bourassa hiredengagés to go to La Vérendrye’s posts at Fort Saint-Charles (on Lake of the Woods) and Fort Maurepas (a few miles above the mouth of the Red River). He himself was at Saint-Joseph (Niles, Mich.) in July but wintered with the explorer at Saint-Charles. Early in June 1736 Bourassa and four others set out for Michilimackinac (Mackinaw City, Mich.). Suddenly they were captured by some 100 Prairie Sioux warriors, who claimed the French were arming their enemies. The war party was preparing to burn Bourassa at the stake when his Sioux slave girl dramatically pleaded for his life and he was released. He and his men subsequently escaped empty-handed to Michilimackinac, but the Sioux ambushed Jean-Baptiste Gaultier de La Vérendrye’s party, which was following some miles behind, and killed its 21 members.
Bourassa returned to the west in the late fall. Ignoring the elder La Vérendrye’s directive to join him at Fort Saint-Charles, Bourassa and Laurent-Eustache Gamelin, dit Châteauvieux, constructed a post at Vermilion (near the mouth of the Vermilion River, Minn.) and wintered there with a number of Ojibwas. In the spring of 1737 Bourassa went east to Michilimackinac.

After 1737 his trade appears to have centred around that post. He sold 45 pots of wine to Pierre-Joseph Céloron de Blainville for the French and Indians going south to fight the Chickasaws in 1739 and in subsequent years he sold goods used in negotiations with various tribes. Despite unsettled conditions throughout the west, Bourassa moved his family to Michilimackinac during the 1740s. He became a prominent member of the small trading community, owning one of its 40 houses, another lot in the fort, and a meadow outside. A number of slaves helped manage his properties. By the late 1740s Bourassa was apparently semi-retired, and his business was handled primarily by his sons René and Ignace. He had an active social life, attending numerous baptisms and weddings. Marriage ties linked him to other prominent families in the fort. In 1744 his son René had married the daughter of Jean-Baptiste Chevalier and in 1754 his daughter Charlotte-Ambroisine married Charles-Michel Mouet de Langlade.

When Ojibwas organized by Minweweh captured Michilimackinac from the British garrison in 1763 Bourassa must have been apprehensive. The Indians disliked him and they killed all his horses and cows before the British returned in September 1764. Perhaps this disaster prompted his return to Montreal, for even though he apparently got along well with the new commandant, William Howard (who called him a man of “good character”), he soon left Michilimackinac. His son Ignace, however, continued trading there until 1775. René Bourassa’s remaining years were spent in Montreal, where he died in 1778.

Rene Bourassa 2nd (1st cousin 7x removed)
Birth 1 Jun 1718 in Laprairie, Quebec, Canada
Death 24 Nov 1792 in Detroit, New France, Michigan, United States
Marriage 3 Aug 1744 Michillimackinac, Mackinac, Michigan, United States
Anne Charlotte Veronique Chevalier [a Mackinac Metis] b-1726 Mackinac, baptised 1746, died 1792, daughter Jean Baptiste Chavalier (1677-1752)

Daniel Bourassa 1st (2nd cousin 6x removed)
Birth 8 Oct 1752 in Michilimackinac French Settlement, now Mackinac, MI
Death 1830 in Mackinac Island, Mackinac, Michigan, United States
Marguerite Bertrand 20 Jul 1786 St Ignace, Mackinac, Michigan, USA

Potawatomi men - circa 1859

Daniel Bourassa 2nd (3rd cousin 5x removed)
Birth 12 Jun 1780 in Den Haut, Mackinac, Michigan, United States
Death 27 Feb 1840 in Sugar Creek, Miami, Kansas, United States
Theotis Pisange Arnwaske "Théotés, sauvagesse" 20 May 1826 Peoria, Illinois

I'm still studying this one, so let me know what your research reveals.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Cowboy Wisdom -- Good-Bye Old Pal

This morning when I turned Sunup out he staggered and almost fell. I thought maybe he had had a stroke, but the vet discovered a broken tendon that holds his right hip in place. 

Horses are luckier than people... Sunup won't have to suffer with a steel rod in his leg. 

Instead he's grazing on tall, sweet grass and cool clear water in horse heaven. 

Sunup, American Quarter Horse, Palomino... about 1983 -- 18 October 2013

Vaya con Dios old pal.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Cowboy Legacy -- Discovering Family Roots

My 2 g grandparents John G Brown and Lucy Pinsonneau in Montana 1910

Legacy defined… a thing handed down by our predecessors

Family roots defined… establishing an indigenous relationship with or a personal affinity for a particular culture, society, or environment

Genealogy... (from Wikipedia), also known as family history, is the study of families and the tracing of their lineages and history. Genealogists use oral traditions, historical records, genetic analysis, and other records to obtain information about a family and to demonstrate kinship and pedigrees of its members. The results are often displayed in charts or written as narratives.

The pursuit of family history and origins tends to be shaped by several motivations, including the desire to carve out a place for one's family in the larger historical picture, a sense of responsibility to preserve the past for future generations, and a sense of self-satisfaction in accurate storytelling.

Where to start tracing your family tree

I'm going to tell you a little bit about my effort to trace my family history in the hopes that my successes will be useful to you.  Part of my family tree started with my aunt Muriel (mom's sister) back in the mid 1970s.  She traced mom's family back about four generations and created a pedigree chart.

From her chart I learned that I had at least one ancestor who had been in the Civil War.  Better yet -- I learned he had been a cavalry soldier.

That's all I needed to be hooked.  Because my mom was the eldest in her family she ended up with most of the family photos, and I starting making photocopies of mom's oldest photos, so I could write the names on ancestors on the back.  Next I started asking living family members what they knew about our ancestors.  That process I later learned is called "Oral tradition," the act of gathering an oral record where cultural material and tradition is transmitted orally from one generation to another.

Finally, using "Family Group Sheets," I recorded the names, birth dates, marriages, and death dates of as many ancestors as possible.  I created a new pedigree chart that also included dad's side of my family (about three generations).  I was pretty pleased with the results.  I learned we were Scotch, Irish, English, Welsh, and French.  I know the names of mom's grandparents and a couple of her great grandparents.  I also knew the names of dad's parents, and two of his grandparents.  That's where things sat for the next twenty years.

Genealogy on the world wide web

In the mid 1990s, my folks moved back to Southern California, so I could visit them more often.  While they lived far away they had enlarged and framed many early family photos which inspired discussions of our family and roots.  

About the same time I bought my first computer and discovered the internet.  A decade earlier, in the mid 1980s, genealogy data was being gathered at RootsWeb and by the mid 1990s its ROOTS-L surname mailing list was online and attracting lots of attention from genealogists.

Between 1995 and 1998, I devoted thousands of hours annually to discovering my family heritage online.  I also visited LDS church libraries, wrote letters to historical societies and vitals records collections, hired professional genealogists in England and Canada, and scoured the web for family history data.  By 1999, I had authored and published two books -- one with 200 pages for mom's family -- and -- a smaller one with 100 pages for dad's family.

In early years of my research I submitted my family records to Genealogy.com, MyFamily.com, and Rootsweb.com -- only later -- to be charged for access to the same records I had freely shared.  It was extremely upsetting to be forced to pay for a record I had created, so I vowed to never join ancestry.com.

But alas, in 2004 I finally gave in and subscribed to ancestry.com because its data now included millions of records I could not access elsewhere.  Today I have a family tree with nearly 2000 relatives -- a few family lines go back twenty generations.  I have traced my lineage to the very beginning of Canada and the United States, and back as far as the 1300s in England.  Through DNA testing I've learned that my ethnicity is 100% European: 53% Western Europe, 21% Ireland, 20% Great Britain, and 6% trace regions -- Iberian Peninsula 4% and Scandinavia 2%.  I have zero Asian, African, or Native American ancestry.

For a beginning genealogist I would caution you to be careful with ancestry.com.  It is the biggest and best source of family records, but it is also full or errors submitted by people whose information is just plain wrong.  I now only rely on census records, vital records and well researched books to expand my family tree.  I'm sure mistakes exist in my family tree because of the nature of human endeavor -- record documents are full of misspellings, misinterpretation, transposed letters, incorrect dates, etc.

By all means subscribe to ancestry.com and other genealogy websites -- just be careful.  A distant cousin of mine recently contacted me to ask about her grandmother who was also my grand aunt.  I pointed her to my family tree on ancestry.com, and in one day her tree grew more than ten generations.

Searching on the web and joining mailing lists works.  Here are a few family photos I've obtained from distant relatives as a result of using the internet for family history quarries…

My 3 g grandparents Elizabeth (Shaw) Sturdy b. abt 1807 County Fermanagh,
Ireland and Hugh Sturdy b. abt 1800/01 Ballyconnel, Co Caven, Ireland

Margaret (Wilkie) Head, 2 g grandmother, b. 1826 in Nefoundland
(far left) with daughter Maria Cummin and her family.

Marcus Pierce, 2 g grandfather, b. 1842 in Rhode Island

Charles Henry Plimpton, my 2 g grandfather, b. 1845 in New York

Here's list of genealogy websites to start your family search

The earliest access to family records… http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/

Join surname mailing lists… http://lists.rootsweb.ancestry.com/

Surname Search at GenForum… http://genforum.genealogy.com/surnames/

Search Family Trees at WorldConnect… http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/

GenWeb quarry and search projects by state or province… 
United States -- http://usgenweb.org/
Canada -- http://www.canadagenweb.org/

Search "Find A Grave"… http://www.findagrave.com/index.html

Good luck and happy trails

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Cowboy Collectibles -- Cowboy Contest Watch Fob

From August 3rd through the 11th, 1935, rodeo promoter Col. John Van “Tex” Austin (known as the Daddy of Rodeo) held his "World's Championship Cowboy Contest," rodeo in Gilmore Stadium, Los Angeles. 

Rather than badges each contestant was presented with a watch fob bearing their contestant number.  Contestant number 37 scratched his initials, E. H., into the back of this fob.

Previously Tex Austin had produced rodeos in New York, Chicago, and London where he rubbed elbows with the rodeo elite -- folks like Will Rogers, Hoot Gibson and Yakima Canutt.

Here's the news story that appeared in the The Arcadia Tribune -- June 28, 1935...

Links to my other watch fob posts:

Cowboy Collectibles -- Watches and Fobs

Montana Cowboy Saddle-Maker's Watch Fob

Sporting Collectibles -- Du Pont Gunpowder Watch Fob

King Ranch 'Running W' Saddle Watch Fob

Cowboy Collectibles -- Horse Themed Watch Fobs

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Reel Cowboys of the Santa Susanas -- James Arness

James Arness (1923-2011) was an American actor, who was best known for playing the role of Marshal Matt Dillon in the "Gunsmoke" television series between 1955 and 1975.  During Gunsmoke's twenty-year run Arness starred in a record 616 episodes.

Santa Susana locations supporting roles and cameo appearance:

"The Lone Ranger" (1950) TV Series -- episode: Matter of Courage (1950) as Deputy Bud Titus

Cavalry Scout (1951) starring Rod Cameron, Audrey Long and Jim Davis (Corriganville) Monogram

Hellgate (1952) starring Sterling Hayden, Joan Leslie and Ward Bond (Corriganville) Lippert

Alias Jesse James (1959) starring Bob Hope, Rhonda Fleming and Wendell Corey (Iverson Ranch) United Artists

Santa Susana locations starring roles:

"Gunsmoke" (1955) TV Series -- 616 episodes between 1955 and 1975 -- as Marshal Matt Dillon

Gun the Man Down (1956) starring James Arness, Angie Dickinson and Emile Meyer (Iverson Ranch) United Artists